Tag Archives: parenting

5 Back-to-School Hacks to Save You Time & Stress

August 18, 2016

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It’s that time of the year again. Kids are heading back to school, and we’re here with some back-to-school hacks to help make the transition and the school year easier.

bus-1319360_1280We parents dream of stress-free mornings where kids get ready with ease, eat a nutritious breakfast, and are ready to head out the door with everything they need in their backpacks and with time to spare.

Ha!  The reality for most parents is that they are scrambling every morning to get kids dressed, fed, and out the door on time with everything they’re supposed to have.

Kids are shouting about lost socks or underwear, homework gets forgotten, lunches are a disaster, and everyone leaves the house feeling frazzled and irritable. It doesn’t have to be the case.

In this post, we will share with you 5 incredibly simple back-to-school hacks you can implement to help you and your kids get organized and feel more peaceful and prepared each morning. These tips will ease your morning, prepare your kids have a better experience at school, and leave you feeling super.

1. Set Clothes Aside The Night or Weekend Before.
Many parents lose precious minutes every day because their kids don’t know what to wear and/or they’re searching for lost items.

This tip ensures that you won’t have to deal with these issues each morning.

The night before lay out EVERYTHING your child will need for school the next day – from undies to hair ties.

If you want to amp this up to the next level, get 5 gallon-sized plastic baggies and label each one with a day of the week. On Sunday, set aside and bag outfits for every weekday. All your child has to do is grab that day’s baggie in the morning and everything she needs will be in there.

2. Organize the School Folder & Backpack
Have you ever been half-way out the door or half-way already to school and had your child discover that they had forgotten their homework, to bring their uniform for that after-school sport, or to have you sign that field trip permission slip? There is a simple way to avoid this problem. Organize for your child or have your child organize his/her backpack and review your child’s school folder the night before school. Sign what needs to be signed, and make sure everything is in the pack – from homework to any items needed for the next day’s extra-curricular activities. Preparing the night before will save you from scrambling last minute in the morning.

3. Freeze Sandwiches.
The morning lunch prep can be stressful and very time-consuming.   One easy way to save time is to prepare the sandwiches the night or weekend before and freeze them to keep them fresh.

The trick is to remember what can and can’t be frozen and make sure the bread doesn’t get soggy. Bread, meats, cheese, and condiments are great frozen. Items that CAN’T be frozen are: lettuce, tomato, cucumber, celery, apples, grapes, and raw onion.

To keep your bread from getting soggy you need to make sure nothing watery can be absorbed into it. One of the simplest way to do this is to put a layer of something high in fat (like butter or peanut butter) over the insides of the bread.

girl-holding-up-a-plastic-bag-in-her-left-hand-that-contained-a-number-of-apple-slices-362x5444. Pre-Slice Apples & Other Fruit
Another quick lunch time-saver is to pre-slice and bag up fruit to easily grab and put into lunch. If you pre-slice an apple and want to keep it from turning brown, you can place it in a tub with some lemon juice or lemonade and water.

5. Use Checklists.
A big stressor and time-suck is having to remember everyone’s morning tasks and making sure everyone is doing what they need to. Creating checklists beforehand can help you easily avoid having to do that.

Our tip is to create a morning checklist for every family member. As long as they’re able to read, you can save time by not having to tell them what to do. All they have to do is look at their checklist and follow it.

My daughter’s checklist includes everything from brushing her teeth to making her bed to making sure she has everything in her backpack.

Use the Checklist Parent app to organize all your checklists, shopping lists and to-do lists in one place.

Let us know in the comments if you found these helpful and/or what your favorite time-saving hacks are?

Monick HalmMonick Paul Halm is the co-owner and Chief Creative Officer of Checklist Parent.  She has made it her mission to empower parents to thrive in their lives, families, and careers.  She’s a busy mom of 3, certified life and career coach, author, speaker, yogi, 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 Parent Facebook Page and on twitter as @monickpaulhalm.

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5 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day with Your Kids

April 19, 2016

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5 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day With Your KidsEarth Day is coming up this Friday and it’s a wonderful opportunity to teach your kids about taking care of the environment.  This is something that I’m really passionate about teaching my kids.

I’m not sure why, but people in the part of Los Angeles where I live really litter!  Sometimes I’ll even see people driving down the street and they’ll throw their trash out the window!  It drives me and my husband nuts.  Once he went to talk to someone who’d just dumped a bag of trash on the street and asked him “Why did you throw that on the street?”  The guy responded “Because the street cleaners come and pick it up.”  My husband replied “They only come once a week!”  The guy just shrugged his shoulders and walked away.  Grrrr.

I was raised that you NEVER littered.  You picked up after yourself and you left a place at least as clean as you found it.  Because I live around so many people who obviously were not raised that way, I’m obsessive about making sure my kids have more respect for their neighborhood, city, and world.  Litter is just one of the problems challenging our environment and it’s up to us and our keeps to make sure that the world is around (or we humans are around) for future generations to keep enjoying it.  Earth Day is a wonderful time to bring that message home to our kids.

Towards that end, I gathered 5 easy ways to share Earth Day and the importance of nature with your kids.

  • 800px-MCAS_Yuma's_Environmental_Department,_CDC_assist_kids_with_Earth_Day_event_130425-M-HL954-163PLANT SOMETHING: Go into the garden or even a potted plant for the house.  Plant a tree, flowers, herbs, a vegetable garden.  Allow your kids to play in the dirt and get their hands dirty.  Then you will all enjoy watching your plant(s) grow and maybe eating of the fruits of your labors.
  • CLEAN SOMETHING: Earth Day is a wonderful time for a clean up.  Grab the kids, some rubber gloves and some trash bags and pick up trash from the beach, creek, city streets or anywhere else you find litter.  If you go online, you will likely find organized clean-ups in your area.
  • LEARN SOMETHING: Take the kids to a museum (natural history museum or science museum), zoo, or farm to learn about nature.  You can also take them on a nature hike and point out the birds, animals, and plants.
  • RECYCLE SOMETHING: bottlesGather up and return bottles and cans to a recycling center (you can even do something fun with the money you get back).  You can also create a recycled material craft.  
  • REDUCE SOMETHING: Teach your kids about the importance of reducing.  Turn off the lights.  Save on gasoline and bike or walk somewhere to commute.  Visit a Farmer’s Market and save on packaging by buying straight from the farmers.

Those are some ways I came up with to celebrate Earth Day with your kids and teach them to be good stewards of our natural resources.  How are you going to celebrate Earth Day?  Let me know in the comments.

How will you and your kids celebrate earth day

 

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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The Biggest Mistake I’ve Made as a Mom

April 5, 2016

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The Biggest Mistake I've Made as a MomI’m far from being a perfect mom.  I make mistakes all the time.  I can definitely lose my patience and raise my voice from time to time.  My kids don’t have the best sleep schedules (my little one could be part vampire – at least I’ve never had the issue of her waking up before me and getting me out of bed), and I’ll let my kid just eat pasta with olive oil and salt for days so she will JUST EAT SOMETHING.  But I don’t think any of those things are the biggest mistake I’ve made as a mom.

I think the biggest mistake I’ve made as a mom has been to not prioritize having fun and quality time with the kids.  I feel like my interactions are more of the purposeful, task-oriented variety – getting them up and ready for school, eating or rather negotiating eating, making sure homework is done, chauffeuring to extra-curricular activities, getting kids to do chores, etc.  By the end of the day I’m exhausted.  My husband has the bedtime routine where he tells stories and has the quality time.  I feel like my biggest mistake has not been prioritizing the fun and quality time.  Someone does need to keep the ship running and on course, but my mistake has been to be so focused on the ship running that I haven’t focused enough on enjoying the journey with my shipmates – my husband and kids.

I shared before the story of my challenging childhood with my mom.  When I was young it seemed my mom was only focused on making sure we ate, were clean, did homework, did our chores, etc. Those were important things, but I don’t have any memories of fun times with her as a child.  In contrast, I have vivid memories of going to the duck pond or the library with my dad or just sitting and having tea with him and talking.  The fact that I don’t have any similar memories with my mom makes me very sad.  The thought of my kids might not having similar memories with me makes me even sadder.

So, I have shifted some things.  I am sharing some other duties with my husband and taking my turns at bedtimes and story times.  I am prioritizing fun outings with the kids and fun experiences, because I want to leave my kids with great memories (not of how much homework I got them to do, but of how much joy we managed to have).  How about you?  How do you get quality time in with your kids?

I took Aliza on a boating and kayaking trip.

Last weekend I took Aliza on a boating and kayaking trip.

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 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

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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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