Family’s Day Out: 5 Ways to Support Good Behavior in Public Places

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From the days before parenthood, it’s probably quite easy to recall a time you were out for a quiet dinner, and a table full of rowdy children next to you quickly ruined that hope. You were possibly left to wonder why those parents weren’t taking the right action, but you’ve come to realize in the years since how truly difficult that can be.

Managing children’s behavior in public is a timeless struggle for parents. Having a child throw a major temper tantrum or act out in a public place is a horrifying event that most parents experience at least once with their children. But let’s face it, you want to include them in outings when appropriate. It offers experience that helps kids grow into socially adjusted adults. The challenge in attaining this is requiring them to be well-behaved in oftentimes unfamiliar settings. How can you set your child, and yourself, up for success in these situations?

A good place to start is at home. Dwelling on poor behavior discourages everyone involved, so positive feedback several times a day is more effective all around (“I liked how nicely you played with your brother” or “You did a great job working on your art project”). This approach shows that you’re on the same team, and working together has better results, setting the stage to better carry out some recommended steps in guiding your child’s behavior while out in public. Consider the following elements:

1. Pre-game

Before heading to that restaurant or store, take a minute to discuss good choices and bad choices. Be specific and relay with confidence that you expect your kids, for example, to stay next to your cart and to use “inside voices.” Teach them and prep them every time, and if you’re lucky, that’s all the help they’ll need.

2. Understand what’s going on

It’s a scientific fact that children’s brains are not fully mature, including their frontal lobes, the part of the brain that helps control impulses and manage emotion. So, when they enter Target and are bombarded with lights, colors, people, loud noises, and rows upon rows of fun things to touch, of course they have more trouble managing their behavior than at home. Understanding this gives you more patience and more realistic expectations for your children, and the more patient you are, the better able you are to handle their behaviors. [1]

3. Preparation is everything

You can decrease a child’s social anxiety in public settings by being completely prepared. Be sure to bring snacks and juice boxes, offer opportunities to explore a bit when in an unfamiliar setting, and minimize the amount of time the child must spend in a crowded or confined area. Also, bring a favorite toy for a means of familiarity and comfort.

4. Game plan execution

Don’t be caught off guard and let a “quick trip” to the grocery store ruin your day. Establish a routine system for rewarding behavior in public. A good example is taking raffle tickets along on your excursion. Children earn a ticket each time you observe good behavior. If rewarded liberally, children love it and they spend the whole trip working to be good, and you escape without a crisis. There are lots of variations on this system that will work; the point is that you’re using positive reinforcement again, rather than spending the entire trip nagging them for bad behavior.

5. Always remember who’s boss

Kids learn ways to get what they want, and some learn that their parents get immobilized in public when they act up, which usually results in having a big fit until parents give in, in order to prevent utter public humiliation. Unfortunately, when that happens, the child is rewarded for having a fit in public, and it is more likely to happen again. Kids need to know the rules, and that they apply anywhere, so don’t be afraid to enforce consequences, even while in public.

A little preparation, a lot of positive reinforcement, and a solid plan can and will make a huge difference in encouraging your child’s good behavior in public. This will lead to outings becoming more of the norm, and less anxiety-inducing for the child, and you as well. There’s a good chance you’ll never have to be that parent receiving a glare from the restaurant guest at the neighboring table after all.

[1] http://arfamiliesfirst.com/managing-childrens-behavior-in-public/

Wonders of the Night Sky: Introducing Kids to the Ancient Art and Modern Technology for Stargazing

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On a new moon night in 1986, a family in the San Fernando Valley got into their station wagon at 8pm. The sun had already set when they reached the crest of Griffith Park in the Hollywood Hills, where the Griffith Observatory offered the best view of the night sky.

Equipped with a home made telescope constructed out of an elbow piece of pipe and a mirror, the family, along with several thousand other Los Angeles residents, peered up at the flaring tail of Halley’s Comet. Though it was just a slightly orange wisp in the milky sky, no member of the family would ever forget it.

There is a constant show happening on the celestial stage and now with the quantum leaps forward in GPS and touch screen technology, we can access a world of information about the cosmos. We put together a list of tools for introducing your budding astronomers to some awe-inspiring sights and facts.

No matter where you are in the summer, there is something extraordinary happening in the night sky.

Summer is the best time for stargazing. If you already have plans to go camping or traveling, take a little time to figure out what might be visible from your location. Moonless nights present the most visibility, and there is nothing like a campfire and a view of the constellations.

Telescopes offer a remarkable view of the stars and there are manyhighly rated, beginner-friendly options that won’t break that bank and require minimal set up. Some of them have full stands, desktop stands or portable handheld models with excellent magnification. A quick search on Google can provide a wide array of recommended telescopes.

Smart devices offer universes of education and fun. Below are some very nifty apps that provide beautifully rendered drawings of the solar system, engaging games and other juicy celestial information you and your kids can explore, whether conditions are optimal or not.

SkySafari offers NASA images collected from the Hubble. It has fantastic GPS and provides updates on upcoming celestial events: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/skysafari-3/id437108143?mt=8

Pocket Universe is great for beginners; it has easy identification for planets and stars, and it even has a quiz built in: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pocket-universe-virtual-sky/id306916838?mt=8

SimpleRockets is a game based on real physics that lets the user design their own craft and use actual calculations to complete successful missions: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/simplerockets/id663068211?mt=8

There is so much to discover about the vast reaches of space– and doing it as a family is all that much more rewarding. We have at our disposal both the original sense of inquiry that our early ancestors did, along with the most powerful tools to experience the magic of the night sky. For more resources on stargazing with your family, check out Sky and Telescope:

http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-resources/stargazing-family-style/

Eye Candy: Tech and Trendy Treats for Your Mother’s Day

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Mother’s Day is one of those holidays that’s kind of like an extra birthday; you appreciate the kind thought, but you also don’t expect much from it. Keep in mind, though, that for your family, it’s a big deal to do something special for you.

And if you are like most moms, you have a collection of clay figurines and handmade cards, and maybe some well-meaning jewelry that you feel compelled to put on to show your significant other you like it. Right?

Here’s a radical new idea: you get something you really want and can really use this year for Mother’s Day. You may even have a mental list of things you want but haven’t found the time to buy, or feel frivolous spending the money on yourself. Well, this is an invitation to do away with those excuses and straight up ask for the little thing that will make your life a little more delicious. After all, it’s spring, and there is no better time to pamper yourself. And if this seems a little unconventional, remember that your Mother’s Day is an opportunity for your family to make you happy, and so giving them a nudge will make their job easier too.

1. Oregon Scientific Aromatherapy Clock

You will actually look forward to waking up in the morning with this brilliant device. Offering a combination of sound, diffused fragrance, and soothing light, this little gadget lifts you gently out of sleep through a subtle relaxation period. A few dreamy nights with this thing and you will wake up feeling revived and energized.

2. Fitbit

It seems like a silly thing, but once you harness the information this little gizmo tells you, you will really see how small adjustments in schedule and effort work to your advantage. A healthy mom is a happy mom!

3. Bose QuietComfort 25 Headphones

You haven’t heard silence until you put these babies on. They are great for the office, when you work from home, or blocking out the noises on the plane when you travel. Get ready for crystal clear audio and no interference.

4. Original Art

Thanks to the Internet, you can find incredibly beautiful paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures from up-and-coming talent. Find something you want to look at everyday on sites like zatista.com and gallerytoday.com.

5. Baby Your Face

Chantecaille’s Save the Bees Eye & Cheek Palette net-a-porter.com is next-level pampering with limited edition hues and rich ingredients. Five percent of proceeds from the item are donated to help protect our pollinating friends.

6. Apple Watch in Rose Gold

Had your eye on an Apple Watch? Now it’s in your color. This thing is marvel and a sexy piece of jewelry– you can’t really beat that.

7. Palais Des Thes

Travel all over the world without leaving the comfort of your living room with this lovely gift set that features signature artisanal tea from around the
globe.

8. Charles Chocolates

This is not your mom’s one-pound box of nuts and chews. This chocolatier based in Emeryville, CA is world-famous for its wares. Indulge in some triple chocolate almonds or a mini-toffee. So delicious!

If your family is determined to surprise you for Mother’s Day, maybe think about ways you can hint to them playfully, or you know, leave behind that not-so-obvious list. You can also always treat yourself; you deserve it! Or – simply do what lots of women who have it all do: just opt for some quality time with the people you love. Maybe a combo of all of the above will provide to you the ultimate Mother’s Day for 2016!

However you end up celebrating, give the people around you a chance to appreciate your hard work and care. The holiday actually ends up being a treat to everyone
involved.

Reuse, Recycle, Rejuvenate! 7 Tips for Home and Work that Support Earth Day

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First, let’s face the facts. Climate scientists across the globe agree that Mother Earth is in real trouble. Recent talks in Paris on climate change revealed just how fraught this issue is, with protests popping up and different groups trying to control the conversation. Species both wild and domestic are undergoing rapid extinction, the ocean levels are rising, and the planet is getting warmer.

If you are like most moms in the world, these thoughts probably keep you up at night. We want what people all over the world throughout history have always wanted: to leave our children with a quality of life better than ours. Faced with these scary facts, we are often left with feelings of helplessness. However, this isn’t the end of the conversation. As consumers and parents, our job is to educate our families and make the kind of small changes that influence bigger changes.

It’s more important now than ever that we face these issues and set our children on a better path. We can encourage greener habits that will aid our own health, and the health of the globe. April 22 is Earth Day, and here are some ways to give thanks to this beautiful planet that supports us.

1. Eat Vegetarian.

Food educator Michael Pollan says that if American families added three vegetarian meals a week into their routine, we could cut down on top soil pollution, improve our health, and feed more people for less cost [1]. Thanks to the slow food movement, there are zillions of fantastic recipes out there sans-meat, and if you can get your veggies locally grown, you are also
supporting bio-diversity and small farms.

2. Buy Bulk.

While recycling was a game changer in the 80s, it has not solved the problem of less waste. Bring your own reusable bags to the grocery or farmer’s market, buy your dry goods from bulk where you can reuse your containers, and avoid processed and packaged food. The convenience
doesn’t outweigh the consequences.

3. Get on the Bike, Carpool, Take Public Transit.

Our carbon footprint is obviously one of the bigger challenges we need to overcome globally as the population continues to boom. If you can ride a bike or walk to work, you solve several problems at once: fossil fuel, parking, space, noise, and your get your exercise! Alternately, you can team up with neighbors to share rides, or take the train or the bus. Even a couple days a week makes a profound
impact over the course of a year.
4. Save Water.

It really doesn’t matter if you are in California where there is a serious drought, or on the East Coast where it is snowing. Clean water is a global problem. Use a small bowl of soapy water when doing the dishes,rather than running the tap or filling the whole sink. Wash big loads of laundry and buy water and energy efficient appliances whenever possible. Put a bucket in the shower and collect the run-off as the water gets warm. You can then use that water for houseplants or in the garden. Some more food for thought on water: bottled water is incredibly wasteful; in fact, it takes three times the amount of water to produce just one bottle of water. Even more curiously, bottle water is not as carefully regulated as most city water, so pick up a reusable bottle and use filtered tap [2].

5. Plant Food and Trees.

Every little bit helps with green things, so even if you have a window box, plant some herbs to spice up your cooking and save a little money. Many cities now have tree-planting incentives because they keep houses cool in the summer. Do your part to re-green.

6. Park Clean Up.

State parks regularly have volunteer-based clean-up projects to help maintain local nature. This is a great opportunity to get your team at home and work in on a civic project with visibly obvious results.

7. Go Paperless. Save yourself time, waste, and the visual chaos of the mail.

If you haven’t already, convert your bills and periodicals to digital. There are also a few non-profit organizations that will stop businesses from sending
you ads in the mail.

We are all busy in our own lives, but this is the moment where we need to draw back and evaluate some of our practices to better serve our children’s future. Earth Day signifies this need, and so it represents a powerful opportunity to inspire change. The mothers of the world must unite and leverage our new power in business to aid progress. We owe it to our families, and ourselves.

Resources:

1. http://michaelpollan.com/books/the-omnivores-dilemma/

2. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/norm-schriever/post_5218_b_3613577.html

 

 

 

 

For Spring Cleaning Inside and Out, Boss Mom Deserves a Little Bonus

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In this season of rejuvenation, make sure you do some things that will help you bloom.

Spring is arguably one of the busiest seasons of the year. Emerging from the shorter days and cold weather necessarily gets our collective engine revving. No matter what industry you work in, you are likely about to see a big surge in energy.

And on the home-front, things are no less crazy: it’s test-taking season, garden planting season, with recital and graduation season right around the corner. It’s exciting, but it can also be overwhelming. That’s why now is a great time to look around at some ways to go into the next few months feeling relaxed, confident, and organized. Below are a few clever ideas to bring in the new for you, so that you can orchestrate a great spring and summer for your team at home and at work.

1. Get your taxes sorted.

Sure, we started with the least pleasant task, but you know better than anybody that you have to get that off your desk now, rather than fight the rush in April. Block out one afternoon, send the kids to the movies, and overhaul your desk, eliminating errant pieces of paper and crossing off the pesky tasks that only you can do. This scrapes the plate for
you mentally and puts you out ahead of the pressure.

2. Deep clean the house.

You can outsource the scrubbing to one of your teens or your cleaning service, but going through the closets, garage, old boxes, and dressers is something everyone can do to pare down and start fresh. Avoid the temptation to complicate your organization system by buying a bunch of containers. Try instead to consolidate media digitally, put things to use, or make a large pile that you either garage sale or donate. Other ideas: rearrange the furniture, plant some flowers or veggie starts in the garden, or switch the art around on the walls.

3. Clean house at work.

Gather your team and do a big picture evaluation. Where are we succeeding, where are we lacking? It can be enormously helpful to draw back from the work and examine the process from the long view, and by doing so collaboratively, you invite a fresh influx of ideas and motivation.

4. Go on a cleanse.

Take it easy, it sounds scarier than it is. No one is suggesting starvation, but a week or 10 days before the Easter Break is a great time to lighten your eating to white meat or vegetarian, cut out sugar and alcohol, and boost your water intake. The first few days feel pretty lousy, but by day four or five, Mama’s got a whole new bag. And the family can handle giving up pizza and soda for 10 days. Really, they can!

5. Go to the spa.

Now we get into reward territory: consider a deep tissue massage, an Infrared detox sauna, or a vitamin facial. These simple, inexpensive ways of flushing out what you might call the “grit of life” will leave you feeling younger, stronger, and more energized.

6. Get beautiful, make a change.

Are you sick of your look? Feeling older? Remember that is winter talking, and we have the opportunity to shake that negative stuff off. If you have been considering a new hair style, a change of pace fashion-wise, or maybe new glasses, go ahead and spoil yourself so you can sport that new look for spring break.

7. Quiet time to reassess.

If you don’t use any of these other suggestions, just too busy or not a high priority, that’s cool, but don’t cheat yourself on this one. Carve out two hours to go someplace calming, preferably natural, and bring your journal. Give yourself a chance to settle with your thoughts, examine your goals, and take a good look at places you can improve. Even if you do this as a matter of course, take a break from your usual environment for this check-in with yourself. These periods of reflection will invite in more clarity and more resolve.

You are in charge and you carry a heavy load of responsibilities, so balance your spring maintenance with some well-deserved healthy treats. Your positive energy will be infectious to the people around you if your take care of yourself. So in essence by indulging yourself a bit, everyone wins.

3 Ways to Ensure your Teen Has a Successful School Year

With fall just around the corner, parents start strategizing on how to enable their children to be happy and productive at school.  

Hopefully summer was fun-filled and relaxing, and the challenges of the previous year were learning experiences that provide a place to grow and improve.  Here are some effective ways to ensure that the fun continues but that a smooth transition back into academics is possible.

Capitalize on Strengths.  Culturally, we tend to emphasize improvement on areas where we are lacking, based on the idea that we need to maintain a well-rounded approach to learning.  And while there is nothing wrong with that, educators also remind us that playing to our children’s natural abilities offers distinct academic advantages.  

Encourage Socialization. All parents are concerned that the emergence of social media interferes with study, but a recent study at the Pew research center informs us that teens use social media to strengthen their relationships in positive ways.  Of course, a balance must be struck, but moderate use of these platforms have be shown to help adolescents to find common ground and make connections.http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/08/06/teenagers-leading-happy-connected-lives-online/

Don’t Be Afraid of Failure. The term “helicopter mom” didn’t come out of a vacuum.  As society puts more and more pressure on our teens to get into good schools, we feel put upon as parents, often maneuvering to protect them.  But initial failure, as many tech billionaires will tell you, actually arm young people with copingstrategies and learning experiences that provide them with resilience later on in life. Giving our teens room to navigate setbacks is essential to their long-term success.

Of course we want our children to be well adjusted and get the most out of their time in junior high or high school, a time we all admit can be very challenging socially and academically.  We serve them better by staying communicative, encouraging and allowing them make decisions to better develop into engaged andmotivated adults.

7 Strategies for Raising Kids and Caring for Aging Parents

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We have so much on our plates to keep our immediate household going, and for those of us who have aging parents, we experience fierce competition for our energetic resources. Some of us are caught in the middle of trying to raise our children and manage care for our aging parents, all of which can put an enormous strain on our daily lives.

It makes sense, given that people are having children later in life and our collective life expectancy is longer. But for those in this situation, it can become overwhelming and start to affect our health and our relationships over time.

Some of these coping strategies may seem like common sense, but revisiting some of these basic tricks and exploring some new options can make all the difference in balancing the whole act.

  1. Develop a healthy self-care routine that is non-negotiable. If everyone wants the lunches to get made, the forms signed and the shopping done, they must also understand that Mom and Dad get 15 minutes of uninterrupted time to meditate, practice yoga, go for a walk, lie down for a nap, or whatever else serves them at the moment. Studies have shown that daily meditation or mindfulness practice contributes to quality of life, reduces stress and improves health.1 We are not talking about hours, either. 10-15 minutes a day is all it takes.
  2. Let go of the guilt. There is always more to be done and hindsight is 20/20.  Guilt wastes valuable energy better served somewhere else and none of us are perfect. It is easier said than done, but making the decision to let the guilt go is a healthy choice, and one that gets easier with practice.
  3. You do not have to do all this alone, nor should you. Identify some people in your community including friends, or community members that might be able to lighten the load. Outsource as much of the household stuff as you can and make sure your children have a list of tasks that are within their capabilities. It can help to write out a list of things that need to happen each week or month and designate these things. This act alone has a clearing effect.
  4. This is a huge one, and it is often the first thing that gets brushed aside. It is crucial that everyone, even the little ones understand that nana needs extra help. By giving our kids age appropriate information, and allowing them to be part of the solution, we provide a chance to learn, to contribute, to watch us navigate the difficulties. Children are resilient and we often underestimate them. When we allow them into the conversation and the plan, they get the opportunity to grow.
  5. Seek professionals. If your parent is in a facility, there maybe be resources like social workers or counselors that can help manage your particular set of circumstances. Do this as a strategic measure, rather than waiting until your situation is unmanageable.
  6. Laugh Often. Get everyone together and watch a comedy. Tell stories, or play a game, no matter where you are.
  7. Express Love. All the stresses can distract us from the big goal of loving our families. Play the long game and remember to tell the people around you that you love them. Be the bonding agent, even when you are frustrated, tired, resentful or just sad. Remember that love is the other side of all that.

There are ways to approach and organize things, even amid the chaos, that can really help maintain our quality of life in the “sandwich” generation. A good place to start is just reexamining some of the basic assumptions about how you are addressing your family’s big picture and where the opportunities to improve lie. With the right combination of elements, you and your family can help each other, bond together and overcome all of those obstacles. And there is a ton of joy in that.

References: http://www.dukeintegrativemedicine.org/classes-workshops-and-education/mindfulness-based-stress-reduction

You’re in Luck! Play True or False with these St. Patrick’s Day Activities for Kids

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Everything’s coming up clover with the March holiday right around the corner.

How did we come to celebrate this holiday by wearing green and making corned beef and cabbage? The Feast of Saint Patrick actually dates back several centuries, but it’s hard to tell the legend from the truth with some of the details surrounding the famous Irish celebration.

Whether you like your history well done or rare, the spirited holiday has become a national pastime with some cities like Chicago going as far as dying the river green in honor of the festivities. You don’t have to go that far, but gather up your art supplies and see if your kids (and you, of course) can tell fact from fiction while making some celebratory holiday crafts.

  1. For edible Rainbow Necklaces, string Fruit Loops together using twine or embroidery thread.

True or False: St. Patty’s Day is celebrated in Japan.

Answer: True. As of 1992, it became a thing to do in parts of Japan, starting with Tokyo. There are parades throughout the month of March to celebrate Irish heritage. It’s also commemorated in Russia, Argentina, Malaysia, and South Korea1.

  1. Make a Leprechaun Hat out of a little green construction paper and some elbow grease. Here’s a link to easy instructions: http://www.classic-play.com/craft-leprechaun-hats/.

True or False: Saint Patrick was a real person in the 5th Century.

Answer: True. The legend tells of a born-to-wealth Romano-Britain man who, at the age of 16, was said to have been kidnapped by Irish raiders, and pressed into servitude for six years when he found God. He then spent his life converting Irish pagans. That is, according to his own biography, anyway. The holiday emerged in the late 1700s according to historians, when devotees would go to mass and have a big communal meal. Around this same time, donning green became a sign of Irish nationalism.1

  1. Little squares of green tissue paper, some plain paper, glue, and a pencil are all the tools you need to make some Fuzzy Shamrock Art. Draw and cut out a shamrock shape, then wrap the tissue around the head of the pencil, dip it in the glue and stick it to the paper, removing the pencil. Repeat until the whole shape is covered and you’ve got a fuzzy shamrock.

True or False: The shamrock is not native to Ireland.

Answer: False. There are a few three-leafed varieties of clover native to Ireland, and it is the reason it became the symbol of the Irish people; St. Patrick used it to describe the Holy Trinity as “three-in-one.” It then became a general symbol of good luck that many cultures have adopted.

  1. Shamrock Rubbing. Look around for some clover in your own backyard, gather up a small clump, and spread them on a sheet of wax paper flat. Place a piece of rice paper over your shamrocks and stick to the table with tape. Then the kids can run their crayons over the paper to make pretty patterns they can hang on a window when they are done.

True or False: St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland.

Answer: False. Were there ever snakes in Ireland? Not according to National Geographic. It’s too cold, so that must have been a metaphor.

Well, it all may be the stuff legends are made of, but no matter what you believe, St. Patrick’s Day is a fantastic opportunity to explore the fascinating facts of Irish history and make some festive decorations. Kids get a big kick out of this tradition so put on some green and crank up the Chieftains for a cheerful and memorable Saint Patrick’s Day ahead.

References:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Patrick%27s_Day
  2. http://english-zone.com/holidays/st-patsymbols.html
  3. http://www.techtimes.com/articles/38699/20150314/the-history-of-st-patricks-day-is-not-as-fun-as-you-think.htm

Treating the Family to a Little Weekday Fun with Taco Tuesday Game Night

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If Monday is typical, by Tuesday everyone is a little surly and ready for it to be Friday. This is the perfect time to build something into the week that everyone can look forward to. In our blog on Raising the Tech Savvy Kid (add link) we discussed the importance of time away from the devices, namely Taco Tuesday Game Night.

Let’s be clear: no one wants to go through a big production this early in the week with so much other activity going on. So keeping it simple is best. But bonding over a nutritious meal doesn’t require a ton of effort. Here are some easy ways to get everyone involved, have some fun and take care of business at the same time.

  • All devices in one place. Laptops, tablets and cell phones go in one corner not to be turned on for the rest of the evening. We even recommend leaving the TV off and just playing music.
  • Set up a taco bar. Tacos are a great choice because they don’t take much time and everyone likes them. Parents can cook ground meat and beans while kids scoop avocado or grate cheese. For soft tacos, wrap some tortillas in foil and put them in the oven at 350 for 4-5 minutes. For picky eaters, a little grated carrot or shredded lettuce can get tucked into a taco without evoking protest.
  • Everyone helps clean up. Kids can cap up condiments like salsa and sour cream, grown ups handle the sharp utensils and everyone loads their own plate into the dishwasher or steps up to the sink to wash. The clean up goes much faster when everyone chips in.
  • Once the table is clear, pull out some board games. The classic board games of our childhood like Candyland, Monopoly, Sorry and Life are all still available, and why? Because they are still awesome! Grownups take a stroll down memory lane and kids get to flex their basic skills. If you have little ones, they can team up with a grown up and move the game pieces.

Once Taco Tuesday Game Night develops into a weekly ritual, the whole process will go even smoother and everyone will enjoy their participation. The rest of the week will feel a little more manageable with that solid plan in place, and you can even implement that idea for other days of the week. Having a plan and an automated routine takes the stress out of dinner, letting everyone relax and spend some quality time. And that is what being a family is all about.

Making the Most of Reading Time Together

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Reading with a child who has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be invaluable time spent together. The activity helps the child’s learning and social skills, language development, and listening skills. It can also be a fun way to better connect, while helping your child to acquire a love of books.

Remembering and applying simple tips will ensure that you’re making the most of this time with your child, and that he or she is getting the most benefit out of it. Include the following ideas during your reading time:

1. Ease into it.
Because children with ASD often have a very short attention span, start by reading for short periods of time, pointing out and naming objects as you progress through a book. Be sure to build up reading time as you go; your child will start looking forward to the activity as a time of both fun and learning.

2. Make it part of the routine.
If your child thrives from routine each day, try reading a favorite book as he or she goes from one task to another. For example, this usual activity can set the stage for naptime or bedtime. Find a quiet place with no distractions.

3. Read aloud.
Each time you read to your child, you are helping his or her brain to develop. Reading aloud allows your child to hear your voice and listen to spoken words, prompting questions. It’s essentially planting the seed to make reading a permanent part of life.

4. Read with expression.
Create different voices for different characters, and emphasize rhymes and consonant patterns. Use your voice to stress new and interesting words, and even share how you feel about a particular word. Continue to use the new word throughout the day to build and support your child’s growing vocabulary.

5. Engage your child.
Make comments and ask questions as you read. Direct your child’s attention to the pictures, the facial expressions of the characters, and make predictions. Make comments and ask open-ended questions, which help to build thinking and conversational skills.

6. Consider repetition.
Read the same story again and again. This will help your child to fully grasp language. Also, books that have a lot of repetitive phrases allow children to memorize some of the text and “read” the pages the next time.

7. Incorporate sound effects.
Books that have buttons your child can press for sounds makes reading more interactive and memorable. Audio cues can aid in retention so that your child takes in what is going on and holds onto it long after reading time is over.

8. Subject matter matters.
Just like all of us, your child will be more involved with a book that covers a topic of interest. Animals, sports, trains, etc. – whatever your child may be into, books of that subject matter will ignite and maintain his or her love of reading.

9. Relate the story.
Talk about the story to your child. Relate it to his or her personal experiences, or to your own. Also, make a range of books available for your child and take turns picking which one you’ll read first. This helps create flexibility and the beginnings of learning to wait your turn, which is so important in school and in life. You can choose books for different purposes, from rhyme patterns to problem solving skills.

10. Stay close.
Reading time can also serve as emotional bonding time. Share a special blanket or even build a reading fort to share in the special activity. In this way, the enjoyment of reading becomes connected to caring and love.

As a parent, getting a child with ASD to become interested in reading can at first be challenging and frustrating, but one of the best tips you can take into consideration is to just keep trying. Reading can become an activity that both you and your child will look forward to each day, and the noticeable benefits will only further motivate the effort.

Autism Speaks offers a vast list of titles for different age levels, interests, and involvement. Access the complete list here: https://www.autismspeaks.org/family-services/resource-library/books.

 

1 http://theautismhelper.com/work-tasks-reading-spelling/