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10 Great Movies for Mother’s Day – 52 Checklists Project Week 18

May 6, 2016


snappa-1462507626This Sunday is Mother’s Day.  One of my favorite things to do as a mom is to watch movies with my family.  There are some great movies featuring strong, wonderful mother characters.  And for this week’s 52 Checklists Project checklist, I’ve made a list of 10 Great Mother’s Day Movies.

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      • Steel Magnolias – This is one of my favorite movies and Sally Field is the most wonderful mom in this.  Julie Roberts plays her daughter Shelby.  It’s very funny and a complete tear jerker.  Bring the tissues for this one. Just watching the trailer again made me teary.
      • Stepmom – This is another movie featuring Julia Roberts and is about the relationship of the biological mother and step-mother to two children.  As a stepmother I can particularly relate to this movie.  It’s really very lovely and also a complete tear jerker (tissue warning!).  It also makes me feel very lucky that I never experienced that type of friction with the mom of my step-kids.  We love each other!
      • Joy Luck Club – This is a wonderful movie about 4 mothers and their daughters.  I first fell in love with Amy Tan’s book of the same name, but the movie was a good adaptation.  As a first generation American whose mom went through her own trials and tribulations to make it to this country, I particularly resonated with this story.  I think this is a story that works for any mother and/or daughter though.
    • Mamma Mia – In this movie, Donna (played by the always wonderful Meryl Streep), is an independent hotelier in the Greek islands, preparing for her daughter Sophie’s wedding with the help of two old friends. Meanwhile Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), has a plan. She secretly invites three men from her mother’s past in hope of meeting her real father and having him escort her down the aisle on her big day.  The great ABBA music is a bonus. 
    • The Blindside – in an Academy Award winning portrayal of real life mom Leigh Ann Touhy, Sandra Bullock plays a mom who takes in and becomes the legal guardian of a homeless African-American teen.  Through her family’s love and tutelage he graduates school and becomes a pro football star.
    • Terms of Endearment- This is another movie that will make you laugh and cry.  In this movie, Shirley McLain (who also stars in Steel Magnolia) plays widow Aurora Greenway who is the prickly mother to Emma (played by Debra Winger).  They have a strong bond that is tested when Emma marries teacher Flap Horton (Jeff Daniels) against her mother’s wishes.  This is a great movie of love, heartache, and most of all the gorgeous relationship between mother and daughter.  
    • Forrest Gump– The main character is Forrest Gump (played by Tom Hanks), but his mother (played by Sally Field)’s love and fierce determination is such a critical feature of the Forrest’s character development that I think this movie merits a place in the Mother’s Day Movies checklist.  (This is the second movie I’ve chosen in which Sally Field is the mom. And I almost added to this list Mrs. Doubtfire – another great movie in which she plays a mom.  I guess I really love movies where she plays mamas).  
    • Beaches – This is really the story of two best friends, but in the end they both become mothers. You should watch this one because it’s awesome.  It’s also one the requires tissues.
    • The Kids Are Alright – This is a great movie about a family with two moms.  In this movie lesbian couple Jules (Julianne Moore) and Nic (Annette Bening) have been together for almost 20 years and have two teenage offspring named Joni and Laser, who were conceived via artificial insemination. Unbeknown to their mothers, Joni and Laser seek out their biological father, a restaurateur named Paul (Mark Ruffalo) and invite him into their lives. Complications ensue… Dum Dum Dum!
    • Corrina Corrina -When Manny Singer (played by Ray Liotta)’s wife dies, his young daughter Molly becomes mute and withdrawn. To help cope with looking after Molly, he hires sassy housekeeper Corrina Washington (played by Whoopi Goldberg), who coaxes Molly out of her shell and shows father and daughter a whole new way of life. Manny and Corrina’s friendship delights Molly and enrages the other townspeople.  This is a great movie about love despite boundaries.


Those are the 10 Great Mother’s Day Movies on my checklist. What is on your list? What’s your favorite Mother’s Day movie?  Please share in the comments.

Also, if you’d like to access our free printable Mother’s Day checklist to make sure it’s a great day for mom you can do so HERE.

10 Great Mother's Day Movies - 52 Checklist Project

Monick HalmMonick Paul Halm is the Chief Creative Officer at the Checklist Mom.  She has made it her mission to empower women and moms to thrive in their lives, families, and careers.  She’s a busy mom and stepmom of 3, certified life and career coach, author, speaker, and real estate investor.  She’s a wearer of many hats, and juggler of many duties and loves connecting with our moms.  You can connect with her on the Checklist Mom Facebook Page and on twitter as @thereikicoach.

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I Have Been Nominated for a Liebster Blog Award!

April 21, 2016


I’m so excited!!! I have been nominated for a Liebster Blog Award!liebster-award

What is the Liebster Award you ask? It’s an award given to bloggers by other bloggers. Award nominees must be blogging for under 2 years and have less than 1,000 followers. It’s a way to connect with other bloggers and share or exchange feelings, advice, confidence, support, experiences or anything you want to talk about or get off your chest. Liebster in German means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.

I’m very excited and honored to be nominated for this award!  I want to thank Heather at Silly Kids, Trix Are For Moms, for nominating me.  It means the world to have my blog be recognized as being a Leibster (i.e., sweet, valuable and welcome).  I did a little happy dance when I found out I was nominated.  Check out my happy dance in the video below.  It’s dorky, but I’m ok with that.  I own my inner nerd. 🙂

There are a few guidelines that need to be followed when you are nominated for the Liebster. You have to:

  1. Write a blog post about your nomination, displaying an image of the award.
  2. Thank the person who nominated you and include a link to their blog.
  3. Answer the 11 questions the person who nominated you asked you in his/her blog post.
  4. Nominate 5-11 other new bloggers who you think deserve this award, and come up with 11 questions of your own for them to answer.
  5.  List these rules in your blog post for the next nominees
So now that I have completed 1, 2, and 5, I’ll be answering Heather’s questions:
1) Why did you start your blog? 
We (my brother Marc and myself) started this blog as an off-shoot of our iphone app, the Checklist Mom.  This checklist app has been downloaded over 100,000 times and we had this huge list of e-mails.
We realized that there was a huge community of moms/parents out there that wanted to get organized.  When we surveyed our moms, we found that their biggest challenge was finding time for themselves.  This blog was started with that in mind.  Also, because I love writing and sharing stories, I thought I’d use this format to hopefully help those parents out there.
2) What’s your favorite season (time of year) and why?
I live in Los Angeles, where there is not that much difference in the seasons.  You have to get used to the subtleties.  There’s slightly more rain in the winter and days are shorter.  Early summer, you get the marine layer coming in the morning from the ocean so it’s foggy and often cooler at the beach in the mornings then at other times of the year.  We call it June Gloom.  September and October can sometimes be the hottest months.  Weather is strange, but I love it.
With that being said, I love summer best in LA.  The days are longer and more people come out to play. Even though we have beautiful weather all year long, people still hibernate a bit in the winter months.  In the summer we have all sorts of free outdoor concerts and movies and other activities.  It’s really fun.
Outside of LA, in places where there are actually seasons, I love autumn best.  I love when the trees are in full color.  I think I also love autumn because my birthday in in October and I feel gifted and celebrated at that time of year.  Lastly, because the school year starts then and I’m often starting new projects/classes around that time in my business, I love that September always comes with a sense of new beginnings for me.
Wow, what a long answer to a short question. 🙂
3) What’s your favorite subject to write about?
I love writing about thriving.  How to thrive as a woman, how to create thriving relationships, how to raise thriving kids, etc.  I’m a bit obsessed with it (I think in a good way).
4) How do you come up with new ideas to write about?
I created an editorial calendar at the beginning of the year and looked at the holidays and significant events happening for each month.  I have that to refer to.  I also just write about what inspires me and what I hear about in the news.
5) What’s your favorite book? Author?
It’s hard to limit myself to 1.  I will share my favorite 3: The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and the Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
6) What’s your favorite TV show?
I don’t generally watch television, but over the holidays I did have a delicious binge on Netflix of Jane the Virgin.  I thought it was hilarious.
7) What kind of pets do you have?
I have a Chihuahua mix named Pinky.  She’s the perfect pet for our family.  My husband wanted a cat, I wanted a dog.  We got a sweetheart of an 8 lb dog that doesn’t bark.  When she wants to communicate she says “meeeeee.”
8) What’s your favorite post that you have written?
My favorite post was “How Being More Selfish Could Make You a Better Mom.”  I got very vulnerable in that post and was terrified to put the story I share out there, but now it’s my favorite post.
9) What is one thing that you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t yet?
One thing that I’ve always wanted to do is visit Antartica.  I came pretty close – I was in Ushuaia, Argentina – that’s the Southern Most City in the world and where many people board the boat for Antartica.  Alas, I didn’t have the thousands of dollars needed to pay for that boat.  I hope to get there one day.
10) Would you rather, fly to the moon? Or, sail the seven seas?
I’d much rather fly to the moon.  Even as a kid I wanted to be an astronaut.
11) What is your inspiration for writing?
I imagine that there is a really overworked and overwhelmed mom who might just need a little bit of advice or to hear the story I’m sharing.  It might help her feel a little less overwhelmed or at least a little less alone.  She is my inspiration.
My questions to my nominees:
1)What gets you out of bed each day?
2)If an alien landed on earth, what would your top tip ‘for living here’ be?
3)What is your ‘happy song’?
4)Do you have a special place real or imagined?
5)What childhood fable, fairy tale or movie stretched your imagination and sticks with you today?
6)What is your favorite type of movie?
7)What is your idea of a perfect evening?
8) What’s your favorite post that you have written?
9) What is one thing that you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t yet?
10)If you could visit anywhere in the world where would it be?
11)As a kid, what did you want to be when you grow up?The-Liebster-Award-pastel
And now here are my Liebster nominations:
5 great blogs and bloggers:
Inez Bayardo of Diary of a New Mommy
Reuben Wadsworth of Wadsworth Longfellow
Luanna Spinetti of Mommy Soul
Check out these great blogs!  And in the comments I’d love to hear your answers to some of these questions too.
Monick HalmMonick Paul Halm is the Chief Creative Officer at the Checklist Mom.  She has made it her mission to empower women and moms to thrive in their lives, families, and careers.  She’s a busy mom and stepmom of 3, certified life and career coach, author, speaker, and real estate investor.  She’s a wearer of many hats, and juggler of many duties and loves connecting with our moms.  You can connect with her on the Checklist Mom Facebook Page and on twitter as @monickpaulhalm.
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6 Ways to Raise a Happy Child

March 8, 2016


6 Ways to Raise a Happy ChildAs I wrote about last week in my post- Will Watching Sad Stories Help Turn Your Kids Into Happy Adults?,  I’ve been reading a book called The Danish Way of Parenting – A Guide to Raising the Happiest Children in the World. I have now finished the book, and I want to share with you the 6 things that Danish parents do that helps them raise happy children who become happy adults.

Denmark has been labeled the world’s happiest country almost every year for the past 40 years – even when it’s not in the top spot (like this year), it’s always in the top 3.  They must be doing something right.  Would you like to raise a happy kid who becomes a happy adult?  Yeah, me too.  So, I recommend that you read the book. In the meantime, here’s a summary:

The first letters in the 6 factors in raising a happy child spells out PARENT – Play, Authenticity, Reframing, Empathy, No Ultimatums, and Togetherness.

Photo by Donnie Ray Jones, flickr.

Photo by Donnie Ray Jones, flickr.

Play – according to the Danish, the inventors of Legos and the best-selling playground equipment in the world, the key to raising happier, better adjusted, more resilient adults is to have more free play.  Stop scheduling your child’s every minute and let him have some unstructured time to discover, create, and play.

Authenticity – To raise a happy child you don’t have to make the child think that everything in life is happy and everything has a happy ending.  It’s important to be emotionally honest to your child.  So, if you are having a difficult time, don’t smile and say to your child that everything is ok.  Be honest with them in an age-appropriate way.  Also, Danes don’t believe in over-complimenting a child.  If a child scribbles something, a Danish parent won’t say “Wow!  You’re such a great artist!”  They’re more likely to just ask about it –  “What is this?”  “Why did you use these colors?”  Or just say thank you if it’s being given as a gift.  They also don’t compliment on fixed traits (“You’re so smart!” which studies show tends to have a stifling effect on children’s happiness and intellectual growth). They compliment

mother soothing childReframing – Help your child see the glass as half-full.  The Danish do not ignore the fact that negative things happen, but they reframe and put things in a more positive light.  They do this for themselves and they help their children to reframe as well.  For example, if a child is upset because it is raining and they can’t go outside, an adult would help her reframe and see that it’s cozy inside and there are many games to play.  Additionally, the Danes avoid limiting or black and white language like “I always…”, “I never…”, “I hate…” “I should…”, and help children when they do use such language to reframe and see a more nuanced version of reality.  Lastly, Danes avoid labeling people such as “he is lazy”, “she is aggressive,” or “she is smart.”  Rather, they look at their actions –  “He is not working very hard today.”  “She was being aggressive today” or “She works hard and has been getting good grades in school.”

Empathy – There are two main parts to this point.  First, allowing yourself to be vulnerable with your kids and others (showing that you don’t know what to do or that you’re feeling badly) and being empathetic and non-judgmental of others.  The second part has to do with helping your child be more empathetic and emotionally intelligent.  Danes will rarely say “Don’t cry” or “Don’t be angry.”  Instead they’ll ask “Why are you crying?” or say “You seem to be angry.  Why are you angry?”  They allow children to feel how they feel and get curious about it.  Similarly, they will ask of their child about another child.  “Sam seems upset.  Why do you think he is upset?”

No Ultimatums – this is about parenting with love and respect, versus fear.  Ultimatums (“If you do this one more time, I’ll …” ), yelling, and spanking are about trying to get your kid to do something by making them afraid of the consequences.  They’re afraid of the ultimatum, being yelled at, or being hit.  They will most likely listen in the short term, but this type of behavior results in kids that have low self-esteem, depression, and poor social skills.

Instead of those methods seek out win-win solutions and parent with respect.  Danish parents are firm (they don’t necessarily let children run amok and do whatever they want), but they establish and maintain boundaries without spanking or yelling.  Also, they devote more time and energy on how to avoid problems rather than punishing them.  So instead of punishing your child for breaking a boundary, aim to teach and educate them.  Lastly, put the bad behavior in context.  Is your child acting out because they are hungry or tired?  Is there some other change in her life that might be causing her to act out?  Deal with the underlying issue, rather than the outward behavior.

Togetherness – the Danes value intensely friend and family time together, and all strive to make it as cozy or hygge as possible.  This means that they make the atmosphere cozy – they light candles, play music, and have nice food and drink.  They keep their personal problems and dramas out of the time together and focus on being present, positive, and in the moment.  They keep it simple – minimizing gadgets.  They play games together (adults and children).  They all help out so that no one feels like they have too much of the burden with the cooking and cleaning.  They are more focused on creating comfort for the group, then on their own personal comfort level.Hygge

Are your family gatherings like this?  Strive to make your time with children, family, and friends more like the Danish gatherings.  You’ll be modeling for your kids how to create loving and warm relationships that are a true measure and indicator of happiness.


Monick HalmMonick Paul Halm is the Chief Creative Officer at the Checklist Mom.  She has made it her mission to empower women and moms to thrive in their lives, families, and career choices.  She’s a busy mom of 3, certified life and career coach, author, speaker, and real estate investor.  She’s a wearer of many hats, and juggler of many duties and loves connecting with our moms.  You can connect with her on the Checklist Mom Facebook Page and on twitter as @thereikicoach.

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Will Watching Unhappy Stories Help Turn Your Kids Into Happy Adults?

February 29, 2016


will watching unhappy stories help turn your kids into happy adults?Last summer I spent a few days in Copenhagen, Denmark with my family.  There was something about the city and the Danish that I couldn’t put my finger on at first.  Later I realized what it was – everyone just seemed so happy!

My happy kids in Copenhagen

My happy kids in Copenhagen

For those of you who don’t know, for almost 40 years Denmark has been rated as the world’s happiest country by the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD).  I definitely felt it when we were there.

I’ve long been a student of happiness and a student of parenting, so when I heard of the book The Danish Way of Parenting – A Guide to Raising the Happiest Children in the World, by Jessica Alexander and Iben Dissing Sandahl, I knew I had to get it.  It’s one of my books on the 10 Books To Read in 2016 Checklist.

The premise of the book is that the reason Danes are so happy is due to their upbringing. There are certain things that Danish parents do that lead to their children being such happy adults.

I’m currently in the middle of the book, which talks about 6 major things that Danish parents do that leads to happier kids. One thing in particular really struck me – Danish parents don’t just tell their kids stories with happy endings.  In fact, many Danish stories are tragedies.

Here in the United States we are somewhat maniacal about needing our kids’ stories to have happy endings. I remember an uproar on Facebook when Big Hero 6 came out. One person was calling for an end to kids movies where there is a death. “Why do kids need to be reminded about death?!?” she asked. It’s viewed as terrible to make kids experience sad or tragic stories.

Statue of the little mermaid in Copenhagen. Photo courtesy of Avda-berlin.

Statue of the little mermaid in Copenhagen. Photo courtesy of Avda-berlin.

Hans Christian Anderson, the fairy-tale writer, is one of Denmark’s most famous writers.  Many of his stories had dark endings.  For example, unlike Disney’s Little Mermaid, in the original Little Mermaid, the little mermaid does not end up happily married to the prince.  Rather, the prince marries someone else and she turns into sea foam from sadness.  The Little Mermaid is definitely not the only fairy tale that’s been sanitized for kids: here are some other fairy tales that Disney made into happy endings that are really not very happy at all.

In the United States we feel that children should be spared these darker aspects of life.

According to the book’s authors, “Danes believe that tragedies and upsetting events are things we should talk about too.  We learn more about character from our sufferings than our successes and therefore it’s important to examine all part of life.

According to the authors and to researchers, watching or hearing sad or tragic stories leads to more happiness than watching movies with happy endings because it teaches kids (and adults) to be empathetic and have a deeper respect for humanity.  It makes them appreciate the positive aspects in their own life more.  It helps them to feel more grateful for the simple things in life – things that we could take for granted if we focused too much on the fairy-tale life.

I don’t know if the question I posed in the title is the correct question – “will watching unhappy stories turn my child into a happy adult?”  Maybe the questions are more: “Do I help my child by shielding her from harsh stories?” “What would happen if I allowed my child to watch something sad and tragic and afterwards we discussed how that felt and what she could learn from it?” “What if we could look at a story that’s sad or tragic and find something good or positive from it?”  That’s the Danish Way.  They seem to be doing something right.  Are you willing to try this?

If so, here’s another Hans Christian Anderson story that you can watch with your kids — the Little Match Girl.  Please remember that this story does not have a happy ending.  I watched it with my 7-year old and we had a good talk afterwards.  I’d love to know how it goes for you.

Monick Paul Halm is the Chief Creative Officer at the Checklist Mom, and has made it her mission to empower women and moms to thrive in their lives, families, and career choices.  She’s a busy mom of 3, certified life and career coach, yoga teacher and practitioner, and real estate investor.  She’s a wearer of many hats, and juggler of many duties and loves connecting with our moms.  You can connect with her on the Checklist Mom Facebook Page and on twitter as @thereikicoach.

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7 Tips for an Award-Worthy Oscar Party

February 25, 2016


snappa-1456469149The Academy Awards show is coming up on Sunday February 8!  We can’t wait to see who wins!   And what better way to enjoy and share the excitement than being with your good friends. Have a killer Oscar party and invite them all. 

What do you need to do?  Don’t stress, we’ve done the research for you.

We found this great Oscar planning party article that we want to share with you, “Oscar Party Ideas: 7 Ways To Throw The Perfect Party” by Jim Donnellythat is simple and to the point. 

Donnelly highlights the following ideas for the party:

1. Invite Lots of Friends: Life gets busy. That’s why a big event like Oscar Sunday is the perfect opportunity to see all those friends you don’t see enough. Mixing in different social groups is a cool way to introduce strangers to each other, and add to the liveliness of the party. 

2. Guess the Winners: Get ballots for all your attendees and see who can guess the most correct winers for the different categories.  Need a ballot? Check out the full list of Oscar Nominees!

Marc & Monick in their Oscar Party finest

Marc & Monick in their Oscar Party finest

 3. Dress to Impress: You don’t have to go overboard, but it is definitely fun to get all gussied up like the stars for just one night. You can even roll out your own red carpet on the front porch to add to the ambiance. Another fun activity is to dress up like your favorite movie characters.

4. Have a Feast of Food: This does not need to be crazy.  If you want to save time and money, do a potluck thing. You can even stick with the theme and offer awards for Best Appetizer, Best Libation, Best Entrée and Best Dessert! Here are a few recipe ideas to get you started. Try some Chocolate Peanut Butter Puffed Rice or a Blood and Sand cocktail!

5. Award Your Own Oscar Statuettes: You can get little plastic ones by the bagful at your local party store or on Amazon. Hand them out as parting gifts as your guests start filing out after the Best Picture is announced, or you can give them as gifts for the Best Food Awards (see above). This is a definitely memorable favor, no one will soon forget.

Champagne bottle party favors with tuxedo and dress and mustache and lipstick and scissors and pipe cleaner

Champagne bottle party favors with tuxedo and dress and mustache and lipstick and scissors and pipe cleaner.  Photo courtesy of

6. Decorate the Place: Red carpets at the door, champagne bottle favors, special ballot envelopes, movie posters on the walls are all very special touches. Simple streamers and balloons will work, too.  What’s important is to capture the glamour of the big event.   

7. Watch the Oscars Live: It’s the reason you’re all there, right?We suggest you start the party early to enjoy the stars as they come down the red carpet (one of my favorite parts).  Enjoy the glamour and the show, but more importantly, enjoy the company, food and fun!  

You now have 7 ideas on how to throw a super Oscar Party. We’re sure you’ll come up with many more on your own.  If you do, please share them in the comments below!

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5 Tips on How to Talk with Your Kids About Race & Racism

February 16, 2016


Talking About Race With Your KidsWe are smack dab in the middle of February – Black History Month in the United States. Perhaps in school your kids are talking about race. Maybe they’re coming home with questions?  Or maybe you’ve heard them say something offensive or inappropriate about someone of a different race?  How do you talk with them about race/racism?
My rainbow of a family - my kids, niece, and nephews

This is my “rainbow coalition” of a family: my kids, niece, and nephews

Many parents would rather forget about it and avoid the topic altogether. I didn’t think I’d really have to talk about it. I figured my daughter (with a white father, black mother, and family spanning the racial gamut) would be color blind. Boy, was I was wrong!

One day when my daughter Aliza was in pre-school, my daughter’s teacher told me that Ali was saying some hurtful things to some of the kids in her class. Ali told the dark-skinned kids in her class that they couldn’t attend her birthday party and that their skin was ugly. I couldn’t believe my mixed-race daughter was discriminating against the kids in her class with skin color the same color as mine- her own mother!? Where in the world did she learn that, and how was I going to deal with it?
I researched it (because researching is how I roll), and here are 5 tips I came up with on how to talk with your child about race:
  1. Don’t be afraid to talk about itA study, outlined in the book Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, found that most caucasian parents don’t ever talk to their kids about race. The belief is that if we want our kids to be color-blind, we shouldn’t point out skin color. Parents will say things like “everybody’s equal,” but find it hard to be more specific than that. If kids point out somebody who looks different, parents shush them and tell them it’s rude to talk about it. This refusal to discuss race makes it a taboo subject. 

    Saying things like “everyone is equal” especially when kids are surrounded by subtle or not-so-subtle images and instances of unequal treatment of different races, sends mixed messages.  Instead of giving your child a simple platitude and quickly changing the subject, get curious with your child – ask open ended questions like: “What do you think about…?”  “Why do you think that?”  “How would you feel…?”  Share with your child your own feelings.  It’s been proven that these types of conversations make children less race-conscious, not more.

  2. Use stories to talk about diversity
    Finding stories about diversity is a good way to approach the subject.  I used the Dr. Seuss story about the Sneetches. It’s a good story about discrimination, but because it’s abstract (talking about imaginary creatures), in certain ways it may be easier entry to talking about fairness, difference, and other issues without bringing up any preconceived notions and opinions about difference races.  From there, you can tackle the issue more directly.  For some books that are more direct about the issue of race, you can try:
    The Color of Us by Karen Katz,

    The Skin You Live In by Michael Tyler,

    We’re Different, We’re the Same (Sesame Street) by Bobbi Kates,

    God’s Dream by Archbishop Desmon Tutu,

    Whoever You Are by Mem Fox,

    Snow in Jerusalem by Deborah da Costa,

    and Almond Cookies & Dragon Well Tea by Cynthia Chin-Lee.

    These books are for kids 6 and under, but there are also many great books for older kids.  If you’ve gotten some great books about diversity for your kids, please share so in the comments.
  3. Find positive examples of diversity

    Word Girl

    Word Girl

    A lot of the images that kids pick up about other races come from negative portrayals in mainstream media.  Show your kids positive examples of kids and adults of other cultures.

    Some great tv shows for showing positive portrayals of diverse characters are:
    Word Girl (a PBS show about an African-American girl who, when duty calls, is transformed into WordGirl, a superhero who uses vocabulary to defeat outlaws),
    Syd the Science Kid (this PBS show is about a curious young kid, Syd, who learns a lesson about science every week.  Though the characters in the show are strange shades like mustard and purple, Syd appears to be bi-racial),
    Doc McStuffin (this is a Disney Jr. show about a young African-American girl who is a toy doctor.  It teaches kids about medicine and lessons around going to the doctor’s office.  It’s a bonus, that the main character’s African-American mother is a “doctor for humans”),
    Dora the Explorer (this Nickelodeon series centers around Dora, an American girl of Mexican heritage that goes on adventures teaching the young viewers Spanish phrases as she goes),
    Go Diego Go (in this Nick Jr. show, Diego is Dora the Explorer’s cousin and goes on missions to save animals),
    Ni Hao Kai Lan (a Nick Jr. show about a little Chinese girl who lives with her grandfather.  This show teaches kids about Chinese culture and the Mandarin language),
    The 99 (shown on Netflix, this is a show about Muslim superheroes),
    Bino & Fino (a cartoon about a Nigerian brother and sister that teaches about African history and culture), and
    Little Bill (notwithstanding the very ahem… “checkered” past of the show’s creator, this is a good show about an African American family told through the lens of the family’s youngest son- Little Bill).

  4. Look for opportunities to immerse yourself and your child(ren) in other cultures
    Mexican FestivalIn addition to books and tv shows about other cultures, physically immerse yourself in other cultures.  Maybe go to cultural events such as Chinese New Year, Mexican Independence Day, or Black History Month events where you and your family will be able to interact in a more meaningful way with the people and cultures of those who are different from yourself.  This is another way to learn first-hand about people of different races and cultures.  Exploring a new culture by discovering its music, trying new foods, and/or learning about the history and traditions of the that culture is not only enriching for you and your child, but teaches the valuable lessons that this world is a small place and despite our difference, we are all similar and interconnected.
  5. Don’t overreact to comments or questions. If your child makes a startling or offensive comment or asks an uncomfortable question regarding race, don’t ignore it or hush her.  This will make your child think the subject is too taboo.  Remember tip 1?  We want to be able to discuss this issue with our children.

    Instead, respond in a nonjudgmental way, and say something like “Let’s talk about that for a minute…” Then dig for context: “What made you notice that?” Try to get more detail about what the observation means to your child, and use her answers to spark a conversation. This allows you to model for the child that it’s ok to be curious about differences.  She doesn’t have to be afraid.  Differences aren’t bad – they’re just differences.

    If your child offends someone with a remark, ask her to apologize, suggests Marguerite Wright, psychologist and author of I’m Chocolate, You’re Vanilla: Raising Healthy Black and Biracial Children. Later, in private, you can discuss with your child about how certain comments can upset people. It’s important that you don’t make too big a deal about it — remember your child is just learning.

Those are my 5 tips for talking about race with your child and raising a more socially conscious kid.  How do you bring up these issues with your children?

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KonMari with Kids: Life Changing Magic?

January 6, 2016


Aliza feeling to see if item sparks joy

Aliza feeling to see if item sparks joy

I have to share a wonderful KonMari story about my 7-year old daughter.

If you’ve been following the blog you know that I’ve been working on tidying/organizing my house using the KonMari Method, based off of the worldwide bestselling book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

You can read more about it in my previous post here.  Basically though, you go through every item in your home category by category and discard anything that doesn’t spark joy.  The rest you arrange in particularly “joy enhancing” methods.

After she saw me going through my things, my daughter asked me to help with her room. We went through her clothes, paper, and most of her toys. We still have some stuff to do in her room, but both reached a fatigue point. We’ll get there.  At the time, I blogged about the experience of doing KonMari with a child.  You can read about it here.

The story I want to share today is that over the holidays we received a bag of hand-me-downs from my sister-in-law. My niece is the same age as my daughter, but she’s 3 dress sizes bigger and grows like a weed. We’re always getting her hand-me-downs. Usually I’d pick through the bag and keep what I like and give away the rest, but I let my daughter go through it and decide which ones sparked joy for her.

She said “Mom! I know how to tell what sparks joy. I close my eyes and feel the item. If it feels warm, it sparks joy. If it feels cold, it doesn’t.” I gave her a big hug and told her that this is perfect and that this “warm/cold” method that she’s discovered works with people, projects, decisions … everything in life. She got it.

I speak on intuition and teach people how to listen to and trust their intuitive guidance. It’s hard for many adults. Through this KonMari work my daughter is learning to tune into her intuitive wisdom and follow it at age 7. THAT’S life changing magic!

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