Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Top Ten Stress Busting Tips for National Stress Awareness Day

Photo credit: Phlebotomy Tech
November 4 is National Stress Awareness Day. When you're dealing with difficult situations, people or changes in life, stress can affect you in ways you may not realize.

These top ten stress busting tips from the International Stress Management Association will help you fight back against life's stresses and reclaim your life.

1. Learn to manage your time more effectively. We waste a lot of time doing unimportant tasks, especially when stressed, so prioritise your day and do the important jobs first. The unimportant ones can wait, and often they will disappear completely leaving you time to do other things. Also, do not put off the unpleasant tasks – avoidance causes a great deal of stress. Give unpleasant tasks a high priority and do them first.

2. Adopt a healthy lifestyle. If we eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and ensure we get adequate sleep and rest our body is better able to cope with stress should it occur. If this is not the case, then this may be a warning sign so don’t ignore it. Engaging in some form of physical activity may help you by working off the biochemical and physical changes that occur within your body due to stress. Relaxation also helps your body return to its normal healthy state. Good relaxation techniques include breathing exercises, massage and a variety of complimentary therapies.

3. Know your limitations and do not take on too much. We can cause ourselves a great deal of stress because we do not want to let people down. We then end up doing more than we should. Learn to delegate effectively and be assertive so that you can say ‘No’ without upsetting or offending.

4. Find out what causes you stress. Take time to discover what is worrying you and try to change your thoughts and behaviour to reduce it. A stress assessment can help you to fully understand the causes, the implications to your health and how to manage, cope and make necessary changes.

5. Avoid unnecessary conflict. Do not be too argumentative. Is it really worth the stress? Look for win - win situations. Look for a resolution to a dispute where both parties can achieve a positive outcome. Find out what the real cause of the problem is and deal with it.

6. Accept the things you cannot change. Changing a difficult situation is not always possible. If this proves to be the case, recognise and accept things as they are and concentrate on all that you do have control over. Managing change effectively is essential or else performance will be reduced.

7. Take time out to relax and recharge your batteries. You will perform more effectively during work if you regularly take a short 10 / 15 minute break, easily making up the time you used relaxing. Alongside this, at least one annual break of at least 10-14 continuous days is recommended,

8. Find time to meet friends. Friends can ease work troubles and help us see things in a different way. The activities we engage in with friends help us relax and we will often have a good laugh. It boosts the immune system that is often depleted during stress.

9. Try to see things differently, develop a positive thinking style. If something is concerning you, try to see it differently. Talk over your problem with somebody before it gets out of proportion. Often, talking to a friend/colleague/family member will help you see things from a different and less stressful perspective. You may also need to consider professional help in order to achieve the desired outcome and prevent ill health and / or burnout.

10. Avoid alcohol, nicotine and caffeine as coping mechanisms. Long term, these faulty coping mechanisms will just add to the problem. For example, caffeine and nicotine are stimulants - too much and the body reacts to this with the stress response increasing or even causing anxiety symptoms. Alcohol is a depressant!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

dear soon to be single mom

Dear soon to be single mom, I'm sorry for what you're going through. The tears. The uncertainties. The "what ifs" and "if only" thoughts that run through your brain. Endlessly. At 3 a.m.

Divorce sucks. No matter who wants it. No matter if he started it or you started it. No matter who's at fault. Even if nobody is to blame.

You made plans. You had dreams. Your little family was happy -- or maybe not so happy. You married for better or worse. This is worse than worse. 

Fun times with kiddos...not so much when you're going through a divorce. It feels like your whole life is ending...and it is. The life you knew and embraced is no more.

Divorce is hard. Harder than you think it will be. Hard times a million. Saying good-bye to your littles every weekend, every other weekend or every day hurts. A lot. Deep in your heart.

Watching the love of your life go forward without you is no easier. 

Just when you thought you were so over him -- you will realize that you still love him. It hurts.

You tried your hardest to keep it all together. But it broke anyway, shattered into a zillion unfixable pieces.

You see the pieces when you look into the mirror. And when you look into the eyes of your little ones.

Your heart is broken. Even if he treated you terribly. Even if he cheated on you. Even if you hated him at the end.

Because there's still that little piece of you that loves him. You see him in your littles. In their smiles. In their tears. In their faces that scrunch up just like his.

You meant it when you said "for better or worse." Maybe you still mean it. 

It's okay to grieve. Divorce is a kind of death. It's a death of your dreams. A death of your goals.

A death of your future. The future you thought you'd share. The future that now seems so uncertain.

It's okay to cry. To scream. To feel sad. And lonely. And maybe a little hopeless.

It's okay to be angry. To feel hurt. These are all normal emotions that serve you well during this abnormal time in your life.

You didn't think it would end this way. You didn't think you'd be one of "them" -- those single moms you see alone at the park with their little ones. 

Those moms without partners that order their food to go at restaurants. Who don't want to sit and eat alone in a world that's sorted by pairs.

Those moms who celebrate their kids' big moments alone instead of sharing with the other parent. Who sit alone at PTA meetings and soccer games. Who don't get a break. Ever.

You wanted a love that would last forever. You thought you had it. But it's gone. And it hurts. You thought you'd grow old together. But you won't. And it's not fair.

The big D. You never thought it would happen to you. You thought your marriage was strong enough. Why? Who knows. 

But better days are coming. Not today. Not tomorrow. Maybe not even soon. But they are coming. You can't get around the fire without walking through it.

It's a hard journey. But you can do it. You're strong enough. You love your kids. Nothing will change that. No matter what. Through sleepless nights and moneyless days. You'll make it.

Trust yourself. Trust God -- whether or not you believe. Trust your friends. The true ones. Who don't talk about you behind your back. Trust your family. They love you. Always and forever.

And trust your kids. You'll get through this. Together. Hand in hand. Side by side. Hold them tight and wipe their tears. Tell them you love them. 

Tell them their dad loves them too. They need both of you. They need your permission to love both of you. They are a part of both of you. 

Sometimes when you're doing it all, it seems like you deserve all the credit. Maybe you do. But let him have some of the credit too. He loves them too. Even if it doesn't always seem that way.

I'm sorry for your journey, dear soon to be single mom. I've walked it too. It gets better. And sometimes it gets worse. But you can do it. 

Your kids are counting on you. To give them strength. To show them how to get through it. To help them say good-bye to someone they love. Over and over. Trust yourself. You've got this mama.

Friday, October 23, 2015

October is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Awareness Month: Safe Sleeping Suggestions for Babies

October is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Awareness Month, created to help prevent the nearly 4,000 unexpected and unexplained infant deaths that occur in the United States each year. Hindi Zeidman, creator of The Ollie Swaddle, wants to help parents keep baby safe and comfortable while sleeping:
  • When room sharing, it is best for your infant to sleep in a separate sleeping area to avoid the risks of rolling over or suffocation, which can occur with bed sharing.
  • The supine (or laying on the back) is the safest sleep position for your infant, unless otherwise directed by your infant’s pediatrician. Unaccustomed tummy sleeping increases the risk of SIDS by 18 times over babies under 12 months old who are used to sleeping on their backs.
  • Your infants sleeping area should be clutter free (free of blankets, pillows, or plush toys) and sheets should fit tightly around the mattress. Steer clear of using a pillow top mattress or mattress pads, as it could lead to suffocation if the baby rolls to his tummy. 
  • Your infant should sleep in a safety approved crib with a firm mattress. Do not use items like wedges or special sleep surfaces that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS. 
  • To protect your infant, only use bedding and clothing made of non-toxic flame-resistant materials free from drawstrings and ribbons that might catch.  Buttons and snaps should be securely attacked to prevent choking hazards.
  • Avoid overheating baby. Insure the room has good air flow.  If the room seems stuffy, use a small fan or open a window to provide fresh air. Keep the room temperature around 70 degrees.
  • If you use a pacifier at nap or bedtime, make sure it doesn’t have a cord or clip that might cause choking or strangulation.
  • Avoid using blankets at nap or bed time, babies should sleep in a wearable blanket or similar.  Swaddling is a safe way for your baby to sleep and has been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS.
  • Babies should sleep in a smoke free environment.  This includes not sharing a bed with an adult smoker.  Smoking increases the risk of SIDS.
  • Educate people who care for your baby about safe sleep practices.  You have every right to insist family members and care givers follow your instructions.
The Ollie Swaddle was named after and invented for a baby boy named Oliver, a foster baby that wasn’t thriving until Ollie Swaddle founder (and his foster mom) Hindi developed The Ollie Swaddle. It improves quality and duration of sleep for all babies (including preemies and high risk), reduces fussiness and helps babies self-calm. Its elasticity allows for freedom of movement, while the opening at the bottom makes it easy to change diapers. The custom developed moisture wicking material reduces overheating promoting physiological regulation. Perfect for ages 0-4 months.

These safe sleeping suggestions from Hindi Zeidman are reprinted with permission, in the interest of teaching parents the importance of safe sleeping habits for their babies and in loving memory of all babies lost to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Get Ready for Halloween with Walmart

Whether your Halloween includes spooky and ghoulish teens, cute and cuddly tots or a group of fun-loving friends, you'll find everything that you need for a spook-tacular Halloween at Walmart. 

Halloween falls on a Saturday this year, so it’s all about the party. Most of us will attend or host at least one party this Halloween. Some busy parents will host or attend a family Halloween gathering, school party, community trunk-or-treat event and an adults-only Halloween bash.

Instead of running from store to store to find Halloween costumes, accessories, food and party needs, head to Walmart and pick up everything in one place -- at prices that won't break the bank.
Knowing what families need for Halloween, Walmart has stocked the shelves with exclusive candies like the new Pecan Pie M&Ms and Pumpkin Spice Ghirardelli Caramels, as well as tried-and-true favorites. 

Walmart also carries a large selection of costumes for kids of all ages, as well as costumes for mom and dad. For the first time ever, will have 200 costumes available through the Pick Up Today service – including the top licensed costumes for kids such as Avengers, Star Wars and Ant Man.

Top Halloween Costumes for 2015

Kids -- Girls Costumes

Kids -- Boys Costumes


Looking for just the right touches for your teen's Halloween party? You'll find creepy makeup kits, frighfully realistic Halloween decor items and everything your teen needs to create the spookiest haunted yard in the neighborhood.

Be sure to grab Halloween plates, napkins and a few extra trick-or-treat pumpkin buckets to hang from shepherd's hooks in front of your house.

Class mamas coordinating school Halloween parties can fill a basket with trick-or-treat bags, bagged candy, prizes and even a cute wreath for the classroom door.

You'll find all the fixings to create your family's favorite Halloween snacks. Let the kiddos help make Mummy Dogs, Witches Fingers, Eyeball Cupcakes and other frightful treats or keep it simple with Halloween themed bowls filled with crackers, chips and candy. Add a frozen pizza or two and you're all set.

No Halloween is complete without pumpkins. Big or small, real or plastic, Walmart's got you covered. Pick up a pumpkin carving kit or two and watch the kids create the best jack-'o-lantern ever.

Halloween memories remain long after the candy's all gone. The big day will be here before you know it, so make your Halloween plans and leave the rest to Walmart.

Disclosure: This blog post was sponsored by Walmart; however, all opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Old School Road Trip Fun for Kids

Summertime's all about making memories with your little ones. Road trips offer a chance to spend time together -- but they can also be stressful. Everyone cooped up in a small space can lead to cries of "He's touching me" and "She's looking out my window."

Enjoy some old school road trip fun with your family this summer. Whether you're a DIY fan or would rather shop for travel games, these 15 games will help you make summertime memories.

The Alphabet Game. The youngest player starts off the game. Each player in turn uses a consecutive letter of the alphabet to create a funny story. Example: Annie is going to Alabama and she's bringing apples. As play continues, each player has to repeat all previous stories and add their own.

I Spy. Pick out an object inside or outside the vehicle and describe it. Use color, size, location and other clues. The winner chooses the next object.

The Billboard Game. Look for words starting with each letter of the alphabet in consecutive order on signs and billboards. The real challenge comes with Q, X, V and Z.

The License Plate Game. Type a list of all 50 states. Print and laminate copies for each family member. Using dry erase markers, players mark each state as they find a car from that state. The winner's the first one to find license plates from all 50 states.

Mad Libs. You remember playing this game in the '80s. You'll find updated versions of Mad Libs at Cracker Barrel or make up your own version.

String Games. Maybe you were a champ at creating Jacob's Ladder. Teach the kids mad string skills with Cat's Cradle and other fun string games. Don't remember how? Check out Kidlantis.

Thumb Wrestling. Two players join their fingers together into fists with thumbs up. Each player tries to pin the other player's thumb for five seconds. No arms allowed.

Rock Paper Scissors. At the count of three, two players use their hands to display rock (fist), paper (flattened palm) or scissors (two fingers spread out like scissors). Rock crushes scissors. Scissors cut paper. Paper wraps rock.

Where Are We? Make copies of road maps of your trip for each child and laminate. Let the kids keep track of where you are by looking for road signs, exit signs and other landmarks. Your little ones can also use dry erase markers to follow along on the trip.

Lines and Dots. Why play Dots and Boxes on your mobile device when you can go old school with a DIY version of Lines and Dots. Download the free printable from MomsMinivan or make your own by filling half of a sheet of notebook paper with dots spaced evenly about 1/2 inch apart. Players take turns connecting dots by drawing lines between two dots. When a player completes a full square, he writes his initials in the box and takes another turn. The game ends when all boxes are filled.

Build a Story. Mom or Dad starts the story with a few sentences. Each family member in turn adds a few sentences. Make your story silly, funny or just plain crazy.

Silly Sing-Alongs. Pick up a CD with silly kid songs. See who can sing the loudest. Your kids will learn fun new songs in no time at all. Find printable silly song lyrics on MomsMiniVan.

Tic-Tac-Toe. No kids, it's not a hashtag even though the Tic-Tac-Toe board looks like one. Draw tic-tac-toe boards or download a free printable. This classic game is played with two players, one making Xs and the other making Os in the nine spaces of the tic-tac-toe board. Three in a row wins the game.

Spot It! on the Road. The newest in the Spot It! games is perfect for road trip fun. There's only one matching symbol on each pair of cards. Players try to be the first to find their match. Find the game on Amazon or at your favorite toy shop.

Travel Bingo. Pick up old school travel bingo cards at OldTimeCandy or make your own. Players cover each picture as they see the object and try to be the first to get five in a row.

Pack your bags with old school fun as you hit the road this summer and show your kids all of the fun games you can't play on a tablet or phone.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Summertime is the Best Time of the Year

Summertime is the best time of year,
Seeing the sunshine fills me with cheer,
Fresh mowed grass and scent of grilling,
Cookouts and ice cold drinks that are chilling.

No school to fill the time with homework, 
Time to ride bikes and enjoy the perks, 
Honeysuckle wafting through the air, 
Flowers blooming everywhere.

Whether as a child or as a mother, 
I enjoy time with sisters and brothers, 
Laughing and going here and there, 
More food to eat, less clothes to wear.

We fix meals together, focused on sweets, 
Choosing dessert before thinking about meats, 
To the store we go over and over each day, 
For things we forgot like chocolate, YAY!

But the best thing of all about summer's long days, 
Are the trips that we take to the ocean's big waves, 
Watching the sun rise at the start of the day, 
Riding the waves, up, up, up, and away.

When the sun goes down as the day is all done, 
We know that we've had a full day of fun, 
Tomorrow brings a new day with sun shining bright, 
To fill each moment with every delight.

So come on summer, you're almost here, 
So close I can almost smell the summertime cheer, 
The beach is calling and I must go, 
Oh sweet summertime, I love you so!

- Originally published June 6, 2012 on Yahoo! Voices by Sandy Wallace

Friday, April 3, 2015

How Mommy Blogging Has Changed Parenting

Back in the day, parents kept kids occupied and amused using the same tried-and-true methods their parents had used. You could tell which houses had kids from the backyard swingsets, sandboxes and riding toys in the yard.

Kids made their own fun and parents were just there in case something went wrong. Most kids spent long days outside when the weather was nice and enjoyed playing outdoors until dark in the summer.

Cold winter days meant bundling kids up in snowsuits, digging out hats and gloves and sending them outside to play. Afterwards, there were mugs of hot cocoa for the kids and cleanup for moms.

Most outdoor family photos were posed pictures of the kids in front of the house, on the deck or playing in the backyard.

Rainy days were harder for parents back in the day. Sometimes kids played with toys or played board games. If the kids got bored, moms might pull out the craft box. Indoor craft time usually involved something messy like painting.

Parents today don't have to come up with their own ideas to keep the kids busy. Mommy bloggers have changed parenting life. Pick a blog, any blog and you'll find lots of creative ways for kids to have fun. Sensory play, unique craft ideas and ways to make learning fun are some of the things you'll find on the thousands of mommy blogs out in the blogosphere.

Mommy bloggers know there's no need to stay indoors when it's raining. Google "rainy day fun" and you'll find about 33,000 results, many linked to a mommy blog.

Many mommy bloggers remind today's moms to enjoy the simple things in life, sharing happy family photos of picture-perfect kids having fun.

You can find fun new outdoor games on your favorite mommy blog. You'll also find new ways to make everyday activities more fun.

Riding bikes is a timeless way for families to have fun together. It's easy to bring the little ones along with strap-on baby seats, bike trailers, tag-alongs, tandem bikes and family cargo bikes. You'll find lots of ideas from mommy bloggers who write about life as a biking family.

You can find lots of mommy bloggers to follow on Pinterest, where they share their best ideas and cute posed family photos.

Follow easy craft and activity instructions from your favorite mommy bloggers and your home will become like a resort, filled with activities and fun for kids of all ages.

You can find footprint craft ideas to create perfect gifts from the little ones to their grandparents. What grandma wouldn't love a flower pot with her grandbabies' footprints on it!

Find crafts for every season on your favorite mommy blogs. Winter, spring, summer or fall craft ideas range from simple seasonal pictures to unique ideas you'd probably not think of on your own.

There's no need to buy another greeting card ever again. Lots of mommy bloggers share their favorite greeting card instructions to help moms and kids create one-of-a-kind greeting cards.

Pick a holiday, any holiday -- and you'll find cute and original ways to make desserts that your family will love.

Most of all, mommy bloggers celebrate the timeless love of a mother and child. Whether your children are toddlers or teens, family love lasts forever.

Whether your kids are little or big, becoming a mommy blogger offers moms the opportunity to share their real lives with followers or to relive the good old days.

Even tech-savvy grandparents can jump on the mommy blog bandwagon. I've been a mommy blogger for several years. Mommy blogging wouldn't have worked for my Mom though -- she didn't like computers!

Mommy blogging -- it's here to stay, at least for now. Until the next big thing comes along, follow along with me on Twitter and you'll find the best of parenting. From old memories walking down mommy memory lane to recipes and parenting tips, mommy blogging is what it's all about. Parenting is the place where fun never ends.

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Fun Never Ends

When there's a kiddo -- or two or three -- in your life, the fun never ends. There's plenty of hard work involved with being a parent, but there are lots of rewards too. The soft sighs of a sleeping baby snuggled up in your arms. The sticky arms of a toddler wrapped around your neck in a tight bear hug. The joy of understanding in the eyes of a child who's learning how to read. Yes, even the loud sighs and eye rolls of a teen who thinks you are soooooo out of touch. It's all a part of motherhood. The joys and laughter, the tears and sorrow, the triumphs and pitfalls of family life.

Whether the kids in your life are little or big, kids or grandkids, journey along with me to a happy place where grownups and kids learn about life while making memories. While you're here, share a happy memory or two of your own. Come along, leave the laundry and your cares behind. Life's too short not to have a little fun along the way. You'll never regret it. Motherhood -- that joyful place where the fun never ends.