Thursday, August 29, 2013

7 Strategies for New Empty Nesters (Part 2 of 2)

Some parents struggle with this new stage more than others, but for every parent, having your last child leave home is undoubtably a time of great change and mixed emotions. On one hand you are excited for your child and feel happy for the new stage of life they are entering, but on the other, there is a certain amount of grief that is felt with their growing up and becoming more independent- becoming less dependent on you. 

There are several emotional and psychological changes one can make to try to ease some of the negative feelings associated with becoming an empty nester, such as changing your perspective (instead of thinking you are done parenting remember your role as a parent is simply changing, instead of thinking of this as the end think of it as a beginning, ect), allowing yourself to grieve, and so on- but there are also many activities you can participate in to maximize your happiness during this new chapter and minimize the anxiety and sadness. So we have compiled a list of 7 things you can do to kickstart your new life as an empty nester!

1. Make a list of goals 
They can be goals for this week, this year, or the next ten years, but writing down what types of things you would like to get accomplished in this new stage will help you to feel more excited and less nervous about the changing situation. 

2. Get busy!
Initially you will have more trouble controlling some of the emotional upset and negative thoughts, so it is important to keep yourself busy! Fill up your schedule as much as possible- go to the gym, clean the house, treat yourself to a pedicure, meet up with friends- anything to get your mind off things for a while!

3. Tell them you miss them- but not too much
As hard as it might be, let your kids call you not the other way around. They are going to be really busy getting involved in school and making new friends. But when they do call, don't feel like you can't tell them that you miss them or are thinking about them, this is a scary time with big changes for your child as well, so it will probably comfort them and mean a lot to hear those things from you. But don't tell them too much about how much you miss them because that might make them feel sad or guilty. 

To learn more about Modern Moms and The Mom Code, please visit ONCEKids Publishing websiteFacebook and Twitter

4. Focus on your marriage
Once all the kids are out of the house, the dynamics between you and your husband are going to be changing for the first time in almost two decades, so really take this time to enjoy the changing relationship. Go on some special dates, make a bucket list, do something really fun together and just enjoy each other's company. 

5. Focus on your career or a new hobby
If you are a working mom, use this time to really dive into and get ahead in your career. If you were a stay at home mom, use the newfound freedom and less hectic schedule to start to do some things you have wanted to do but haven't had time for. Plant a garden, learn how to be a better cook, learn a new language- the possibilities are endless! This is the first time in your life since having children that you can really truly step back and work on yourself, so enjoy it!

6. Start a new workout routine
Continuing with the theme of working on yourself, this is the perfect time to get into a really good work out routine! Especially if you're having a down day, hitting the gym, getting some blood circulating and some endorphins pumping is almost guaranteed to make you feel better! Eating healthy and exercising aren't only good for your physical health, but excellent for your mental health as well.

7. Schedule a Girls' Night Out- or ten
There is nothing like a night out with the girls to make you feel better when you're down. And now that it is just you and your husband around, you'll have more down time- so call up your girlfriends and plan a night out with plenty of wine! With the hectic schedules and busy-ness of motherhood, it is easy to let weeks or even months slip by without getting together, so really use this time to focus on your friendships and make Girls Night Out a regular part of your new routine. Maybe even try to cultivate some new friendships or get together with a few acquaintances, you never know who you can have certain things in common with that can turn into a great friendship. 

Comment below and tell us what strategies you used to cope with becoming an empty nester! 

Has your family received a NookKindle or iPad this year?  Find Fujimini Adventure Series award-winning books here.  Great family-friendly gifts.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Stocking Your Emergency Homework Kit

Going back to school doesn't just mean a lot of change and work for the kids, but for Mom too. Back to school time involves a whole lot of list making, shopping, and organizing. But among the chaos, it is easy for a few critical items to never make it to the cart. Even easier than that is for items like pens, pencils, erasers and such to make their way to school but never quite get home. Even with pencil cases and backpacks, school supplies seem to disappear quicker than bobby pins or the match to their sock!

 It is tough for a lot of kids to keep track or all their stuff or always remember what they will need, and this is one of the (many!) reasons why getting back into the dreaded homework routine proves to be quite a challenge. So we have devised a portable homework station, so the kids will always have an area dedicated to homework time and stocked up with all the essentials- and if necessary can be taken on the go. 

First get a few shoeboxes or a cheerful container, then if your child is game decorate it with their name in glitter or stickers and make it into something fun. Mark it "Homework Helper".

Some of our favorite homework survival supplies include:
1. Crayons
2. Markers
3. Colored pencils
4. Glue (the stick as well as the bottle)
5. Ruler
6. Scissors
7. Protractor
8. USB drive
9. Calculator (Scientific as well as a graphing calculator for moms with high schoolers)
10. Lined paper and graph paper
11. Extra notebooks, folders, and binders
12. Pens (red, blue, and black-green too if you really want to go crazy!) and pencils
13. Pencil sharpener 
14. A surprise treat for the week (stickers, their favorite snack, ect)

This kit will help to make homework time as efficient and painless as possible- for them and for you! And once they're done homework goes into the backpack and the box gets put away until tomorrow. The idea is that it's easy and portable! 

To learn more about Modern Moms and The Mom Code, please visit ONCEKids Publishing websiteFacebook and Twitter

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

More Tips On Controlling Back to School Madness

Back to school can be a very hectic time with a lot of mixed emotions. Back to school means the end of those lazy summer days and relaxed schedule. For some moms, back to school send offs make them feel sad- their kids are growing and entering new stages in life- for others it means time to pop the cork off the wine bottle and celebrate! But no matter which category you fall under, there are many strategies for making this time of year as stress-free as possible. 

1. Look at the school calendar ahead of time so you can start planning
-Usually schools send out calendars of all the holiday breaks and important dates for that year towards the end of the summer. So instead of tossing it in a desk drawer to gather dust, take a look through it so you have an idea of when your kids will be off from school and can plan accordingly. 

2. Forget the back to school clothes
Instead of stressing yourself out over budgeting and back to school shopping, just forget it all together and let them wear what they are comfortable in! Summer clothes are still functional in the warm September weather, so just wait it out until after labor day when clothes are deeply discounted. 

3. Wake kids up early for pictures- Not this year! 
Instead of enduring all the complaining and fake smiles, just say forget it to the morning photo session. Wait until the end of the day when they are getting off the bus all excited from their big day to snap a few photos. 

4. Check and double check your school supplies list to make sure your kids will have everything they need on their first day
-It's embarrassing to be the one out of the group who is not prepared, and if that ends up being your child, I'm positive you will be hearing ALL about it when they get home!

To learn more about Modern Moms and The Mom Code, please visit ONCEKids Publishing websiteFacebook and Twitter

5. Have an "End of the Summer Family Activity"
Once school starts, with all sports and afterschool activities, days will become hectic and everyone will be on a different schedule, so before this happens plan one last fun summer activity that the whole family will enjoy and can do together. 

6. Start pushing back the clock before school starts
Just like with reestablishing earlier bedtimes and more structured meal times, start to slowly push back wake up time too. Especially for you mothers of teenagers who can sleep till one or two in the afternoon, gradually start waking them up a little earlier in the weeks before the end of summer. This way, getting up at 6am on the first day of school won't be a complete shock to their systems!

7. Let them choose their "first day" breakfast 
Instead of stressing yourself out on the first morning over making them a healthy breakfast, just take this one morning to let them choose what they want to eat. Even its a slice of cake- just let them have a special treat to make them happy and in a good mood on their special day!

Tell us how you help your kids get organized for back to school!

Has your family received a NookKindle or iPad this year?  Find Fujimini Adventure Series award-winning books here.  Great family-friendly gifts.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Healing An Empty Heart From Your Empty Nest (Part 1 of 2)

It happens many times throughout motherhood, that squeeze in your chest, that inevitable ache in your heart that comes with change, a new chapter, the next step in your child's life. It starts when you have to leave your baby at daycare that first day back to work, the first time you drop them off at preschool, putting them on the bus for kindergarten- then before you know it, it's their first day of college.

Many mixed feelings come with these days, which can be confusing. On one hand you see the joy in their eyes, the big smile on their face, and feel happy for them- this is an exciting time in their lives- but on the other hand, you feel the grieving associated with change and moving on, they are leaving home and growing up. You can remember their birth, their first words, their 6th birthday, all like it was yesterday- how has time flown by so quickly? How is it possible they are 18 and now leaving for college? 

Many mothers feel tremendous worry when sending their child to college, what if they are not ready to leave home? What if they get sick or have trouble remembering to do important things? What if they party too hard or let their grades slip? These thoughts will make you feel anxious and the desire to not let them leave. But it is important to learn to let them, and these thoughts, go. Your child is 18 now, they are growing up and becoming their own person, and part of this is learning that they are going to make their own choices, as well as their own mistakes. As much as you will want to, you cannot protect and shield them from the real world forever. Just remind yourself that you did the very best job loving them and preparing them as you could, and now the rest is up to them.

The first step to coping with the change that comes with becoming an empty nester is to know that the feelings of grief and loss are both natural and inevitable- so welcome them. Know that it doesn't matter how hard you scrub the tub or organize the fridge, the tears will eventually come. But also know that it is okay, change is scary. But as scary as it is, change also an opportunity to start something new. With the ending of one chapter comes the beginning of another.

To learn more about Modern Moms and The Mom Code, please visit ONCEKids Publishing websiteFacebook and Twitter

So allow yourself to think those bittersweet thoughts and feel that pang of sadness, but don't put them off and be in denial until it is time to say goodbye, or you will overwhelm yourself (and probably your child!) with the abrupt waterfall of emotions. Instead take some time in the weeks before move-in day arrives to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally with the change that is coming. 

Once the dreaded goodbye has been made and you've arrived back to your much quieter house, let the waterworks come, even allow yourself to slip into the regretful ugly cry. Get that emotional first visit to their now-empty room over with and the second (or third...okay maybe seventh) breakdown that will follow after finding their favorite stuffed animal tucked away under their bed. But once you have gotten that out of your system, it is time to get going on the start of your next chapter! 

Learn how to get going on starting your new chapter with Part 2: Strategies for New Empty Nesters

Has your family received a NookKindle or iPad this year?  Find Fujimini Adventure Series award-winning books here.  Great family-friendly gifts.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Less-Stress Back to School Guide for Parents

1. Get Doctors and Dentist Appointments Out of the Way Early
Even if it seems early, mid-July or the beginning of August is when you will want to start scheduling all of the kids' necessary appointments to get them ready for back to school. For two reasons, one: because this will save you from trying to cram all of it in amongst everything else you have to get done at the end of summer including scheduling around family vacations, and two: because almost everyone else schedules physicals and check-ups for mid or the end of August, so it is much more difficult to actually even get in to see someone around that time. 

2. Create a Budget for Back to School Shopping
Before making that dreaded trip to the mall to play the role of a human credit card, have each child make a list of what they need and then create a budget for how much you're willing to spend. If your kids have reached the age where they can pick out their own clothes and shoes, make sure to stress to them that they are free to do so, but within their allotted budget. So it's okay if your 13-year-old now wants the $50 Hollister jeans instead of Levis, just make sure she understands that if this is the case she won't be able to get as many pairs and once the money is gone, it's gone. Knowing most kids in their early teens, this is a sacrifice they are more than willing to make for the sake of their beloved name brands! Having a clear cut budget will not only help you leave the mall without having spent way more than you wanted to, but it will also begin to teach your kids about budgeting their money and spending it wisely.

3. Get school supply shopping done a few weeks ahead of time.
Don't be the parent pulling their hair out because their child's classes start tomorrow and Staples doesn't have the right size binder or required calculator left in stock. Take a day a few weeks before the end of the summer to go out with your kids (and a list!) to your local Staples or Office Max and pick up everything you need.

4. After purchasing the supplies, organize them!
As much as that Target trip is going to make you want to toss all the bags in the corner of the living room and forget about them for your last weeks of summer, do not make that mistake! Your future self will be really mad at you for that one! The night before the first dayback to school is not the time where you will want to be sorting through dozens of folders, pens, notebooks, and highlighters to make sure everyone has everything they need. Instead, have them organized so each kid has their pile of required supplies so when school time comes they 
can just pack up their backpacks and go.

To learn more about Modern Moms and The Mom Code, please visit ONCEKids Publishing websiteFacebook and Twitter

5. Begin to regress back to the school year routine before the school year starts
A week or so before school starts, begin to implement the more structured dinner time or bedtime routines that were loosened up for the summer vacation. Otherwise, it will be too big of a change to try and go from a late bedtime and a more flexible day-to-day routine to a full day of school and an 8pm bedtime over the course of one day. If you start slowly moving back to an earlier bedtime routine and a more structured day, then it will be a smooth, gradual process come the end of summer rather than a shock to the children's (and the parents!) systems. 

Has your family received a NookKindle or iPad this year?  Find Fujimini Adventure Series award-winning books here.  Great family-friendly gifts.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Funniest Holidays in August You Never Knew Existed

August, though a great time for vacations, seems to be one of the only months without a popular or fabulously exciting holiday. Although, August is not home to Valentine's Day, Independence Day, or Christmas, this month does happen to have a list of rather unique and pretty silly holidays that most people don't even know exist. 

1. August 2nd- National Ice Cream Sandwich Day
Starting the month of right by celebrating one of America's favorite summertime treats. We have been loving this snack since 1945 and never even knew it had a day dedicated to its deliciousness! 

2. August 3rd- National Watermelon and National Mustard Day
We just love our food so much that we need back-to-back holidays to celebrate! Watermelon is another summertime favorite, so having a day set aside in August to acknowledge this refreshing treat seems very fitting to me. And when one thinks summer, hot dogs and hamburgers are two other foods that come to mind, so reserving a day for one of hot dogs and hamburgers' best friends also seems appropriate. 

3. August 6th- Wiggle Your Toes Day
Definitely one of the more outrageous holidays I have ever heard of, but it is a holiday none the less, so count me in! Pedicures anyone? 

4. August 12th- Middle Child's Day
Now this is a holiday! Until now, I never knew there was a day reserved for the children who qualified as neither the oldest nor the babies of the family. But being a middle child myself, this is a holiday I could definitely get in the spirit for. 

5. August 15th- National Relaxation Day
I never really needed a special day to get in the mood for some serious relaxation, but if it's insisted I think I can clear my schedule…

6. August 18th- Bad Poetry Day
For all you inspiring poets who just haven't quite gotten it right, do not fear there is a day reserved for you! So clear your schedules and get out your pens, it is time for some seriously bad writing. And do not be afraid to share it with the world, that is what this holiday is all about after all!

7. August 25th- Kiss and Make Up Day
Of course we would never encourage fighting in a relationship. But if you and your special someone happened to butt heads around this time, put it all behind you for Kiss and Make Up Day! 

To learn more about Modern Moms and The Mom Code, please visit ONCEKids Publishing websiteFacebook and Twitter

8. August 30th- National Toasted Marshmallow Day
The month began by celebrating food, so of course it must end that way too! Toasting marshmallows over a campfire and making S'mores is definitely up there with ice cream sandwiches and watermelon as a classic summertime activity and it's just plain fun, so why not participate in this holiday? 

Has your family received a NookKindle or iPad this year?  Find Fujimini Adventure Series award-winning books here.  Great family-friendly gifts.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Moms Guide to Having a Real Vacation This August

Every mother knows that once kids are in the picture, the word "summer vacation" has an entire new meaning. Lying on the beach, margarita in hand, sleeping the day away, romantic dinners for two, and a couples massage, seem to become a distant memory replaced with child-proofed hotels, family-friendly restaurants, a shovel and pale in hand instead of your favorite book, and a much-less than spontaneous agenda. So does that mean that for the next 12 years or so, your "vacation" is going to be…not a vacation at all? 

Though there isn't really any way around some of the changes that are going to happen to your trips after kids are in the mix, there are some strategies to help make your time away from home stress-free and enjoyable for everyone involved. 

1. First, try to stick to your normal routine as much as possible
Even though you aren't home, deriving too much from your structured routine is an invitation for some unwanted behaviors. If dinner is normally at six, dragging little ones out to a fancy restaurant at seven or eight is just asking for disaster. It would be easier and less stressful for both you and the kids to just do an easy dinner of pasta or pizza around their normal dinner time, and maybe something a little fancier for Mom and Dad once the kids are fed and settled. 

2. Don't try to cram too many activities into one day
Everyone who has had little kids on a vacation knows that trying to fill up the entire day with activities can cause overstimulation and lead to possible meltdowns. Instead of trying to have an activity planned for every minute, pick one to focus on for that day. If you're going to go to the zoo, let that be the activity that the day revolves around. Although, planning ahead somewhat is advised- you're on vacation! Leave your rigid step-by-step agenda at home! Leaving room for flexibility allows you to enjoy your time more and be less stressed, making the trip 
more pleasant for everyone.

To learn more about Modern Moms and The Mom Code, please visit ONCEKids Publishing websiteFacebook and Twitter

3. Loosen up some of your restrictions
Tossing all the rules out the window will most likely lead to bad behavior or increased stress for you, but on vacation there is nothing wrong with making a few exceptions to normal at-home restrictions. Letting yourself be a little more carefree than you may usually be will help you to feel more relaxed and happy during your time off. So even if it's a little past bedtime, pop in that DVD and give them a little snack to unwind while you and Dad have a margarita and some grown up time. 

4. Unplug
Smart phones give us the ability to be constantly checked in, having access to our email, calendar, and notes at the touch of a button, which is great-except when you're on vacation. Key word here, vacation! New technology allows us to work even when we aren't sitting at a desk, but you've paid all this money and taken time off for a reason, to enjoy yourself. So as hard as it may be, put the phone, Ipad, laptop down and step away from work. Just unplug for the week, leave behind the stresses of home and work, and just enjoy relaxing and spending time with your family. 

Has your family received a NookKindle or iPad this year?  Find Fujimini Adventure Series award-winning books here.  Great family-friendly gifts.