You don't have to be perfect to be the perfect parent!

What should be in your child’s playroom?

The Holiday Season is here and the shopping has begun!  I was in Target this past weekend, the toy choices are overwhelming and expensive!  What are the best toys for your child?  Which toys will be fun and valuable for your child’s development? It is difficult to decide what toys are the best choice!

I can remember feeling like toys in our house multiplied every night. SURELY we didn’t have THAT many stuffed animals yesterday! Too many toys results in a child who doesn’t play with anything well, they become overwhelmed with the number of toys. Parents also can fall into the trap of buying the newest flashiest toy on the market. We all love our kids, so why wouldn’t we stand in line to buy the “most popular” toy of the season? Many of these flashy toys encourage a child to play passively, using no imagination or creativity. Toys should allow a child to play in several different ways. A child should be able to decide how to play with a toy, the toy should not determine how a child plays. Play is a child’s work, it is through play that a child learns how the world works. As you make that holiday wish list, here are what I think every child needs in his playroom. You might be surprised!

  1. Blocks and construction type toys

Wooden blocks, cardboard bricks, Legos, and magnetic tiles are all great choices. Depending on your child’s age, you will see children build towers, knock towers over, sort blocks by color, create designs, make roads for cars and tracks for trains and more.

  1. Art supplies

Creative juices start flowing when a child has a blank piece of paper, crayons, paints, markers, stickers, scissors and any other item you can find in the craft aisle to help with their masterpiece. Blank paper rather than coloring books will provide more encouragement for a child to create. Children age 2 and older love to create on an easel which allows for larger muscle movement which makes drawing and painting easier.

  1. Books….lots of them!

Provide books in bins so children can see the front of them.  The front of the book will interest a child more than the words on the spine of the book on a shelf. Provide books that have flaps, pop ups, and colorful pictures. A corner with a small chair or big floor pillow encourages reading.

  1. Play kitchen supplies and other child sized house hold items like keys, phones, brooms, rakes etc.

If space allows, a play kitchen is a great investment. Play food, dishes and utensils and other child sized household items encourages great imaginative play and cooperative play with others.

  1. Doll stroller or shopping cart

All children like to push dolls, stuffed animals, and other toys around.  Toddlers and preschoolers are “gatherers” and a doll stroller or shopping cart provides a way for them to collect “treasures” on walks outside or around your home.

  1. Dress up clothes

Role play is a great way to encourage imagination and development of social skills and empathy.  Keep those Halloween costumes out all year in an easily accessible dress up box.

  1. Puzzles

Puzzles help a child learn to problem solve, develop patience, practice persistence, and develop spatial awareness.

  1. Medical kit

Play helps a child work through scary or anxiety producing experiences.  All children like to give Teddy or Baby a check up and/or shot after a visit to the doctor.

  1. Musical instruments

Children love to create music.  Drums, xylophones, tambourines, shakers all help develop rhythm and a love of music. Children exposed to music and rhythm often are more successful in Math!

  1. Tools and play household items like a broom, vacuum, lawn mower etc.

Boys and girls love to hammer and build with “tools”. Allow your child to build. This is the basis of STEM education. Children also love to take on the roles they see at home, let them participate in chores and pretend with toys that look like Mom and Dad’s tools. A Swiffer or dust cloth is fun too!

  1. Tent or play house

Children love small places to hide, read, play quietly or play house, school, or camping. This play house or tent could be as simple as a large box or a blanket thrown over a card table.

  1. Dolls/stuffed animals

Playing with dolls or stuffed animals fosters empathy development. Pretend role play of Mommy and Daddy is very important.

  1. Balls

Throwing, catching, kicking are all developmental milestones.  Simple games with balls introduces cooperative play, taking turns and helps with fine and gross motor development.

  1. Shape sorter

This is a basic toy that will grow with your child.  Young toddlers will fill and dump, older toddlers will sort by shape and color, and often children will use it to gather other items. Another great sorting tool is your kitchen muffin tins! Have your child sort different cereals, different colored pompons, or any other item!

  1. Stacking cups

This less than $10.00 toy is a bargain!  This will last a child from 6 months through preschool.  Children bang them, stack them, pour and dump water and sand, “drink” from them and learn size and volume with them!

  1. Clay/Play-dough

Children will love to squish, roll, and create with clay. The use of hands to roll and shape creations develops fine motors skills used for writing.

  1. Pedal powered ride on toy

Learning to pedal is a developmental milestone for 2 to 3 year olds. Ride on toys get children needed outdoor time and exercise along with development of coordination.

  1. Cars, trucks, and or train

Children love toys that move. Purchase cars, trucks, and trains that are easy to handle and run on “kid power”.

  1. Farm or other toy with animals

Farm animals, dinosaurs, and/or zoo animals are a great way for children to learn about animals, habitats, and encourages imaginative play.  Dinosaurs are often a favorite too!

  1. Family games

Even preschooler can participate in family games. Think Candyland! (not my favorite, but there are many choices out there!) Board games help a child develop skills in handling winning  and losing, taking turns, and cooperative play. Board games are much more valuable than video games which do not provide as much person to person interaction.

And yes, sometimes just a large box or two, plastic containers or a few laundry baskets will provide hours of entertainment and imaginative play for your child! Toys do not need to be expensive!  Remember that a toy is only valuable if your child plays with it! Quality is more important than quantity of toys.  Often the best toys don’t come with batteries. And most important, allow your child to play freely…a child who plays well is learning!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.


Parenting tips…day three!


Final tips….add your own to the list!

31.  Respect your child’s likes and dislikes

  • Allow your child to develop their own passions, likes, and dislikes.
  • Provide opportunity for your child to experience many things to discover passions, likes, and dislikes.
  • Your child may not like the same things that you do, and that is OK!

32.  Be a team with dad and other people who parent your child

  • Don’t be a gatekeeper, allow Dad or other important people in your child’s life to participate in parenting.
  • Realize that there is benefit in doing things differently, different is not always wrong.
  • Have a united front with Dad; this gives your child a clear message of expectations.  Never disagree about parenting issues in front of your child.
  • Parents, who are not on the same page, will be manipulated.

 33.  Always set expectations

  • Defining your expectations helps your child determine expected behavior.
  • Setting expectations beforehand gives better results.
  • Frequent discussions about what you expect from your child helps him or her develop a good moral compass.

 34.  Teach basic manners by example

  • Manners and respectful behavior will help your child be successful.
  • Your behavior that your child observes is more important than the words you speak.
  • Make sure that your actions show respect of your child.
  • Provide the example of gratitude.

 35.  Talk quieter—not louder when you are very upset

  • This will defuse a frustrating or angry situation.
  • Everyone will remain calmer if voices are quieter.
  • Your child will have to calm down in order to hear you.
  • Yelling usually accomplishes nothing.

 36.  Use discipline in public, and if your child has a meltdown, leave

  • Following through on discipline in public will allow you to leave your home!!
  • Children learn very quickly when and where you will not follow through with consequences…and they will behave accordingly.

 37.  Sometimes look the other way

  • Your child will hear “no” many times, save it for the important things.
  • Pick your battles, some are not important enough to pick!

  38.  Don’t reward everything. Let your child learn the valuable lesson of being proud of himself .

  • Let your child develop an inner drive to success.
  • Constant rewards and praise result in a child that is externally motivated, driven by the outside things.
  • Internal motivation results in a child who does the right thing because it feels good, not because he will “get something” in the end.

39.  Know your child’s friends, open up your home to them

  • Knowing who your child’s friends are gives you a glimpse of their life away from you.
  • Know the parents of your child’s friends; parenting together gives you a sounding board and more parenting power.

 40.  Forgive yourself for not being the perfect parent

  • Your child does not expect or need perfection.
  • Being too hard on yourself, makes you not trust your parenting.
  • Expecting perfection from yourself sets the example for your child that only perfection is acceptable.
  • We only need to be “good enough”…not perfect.  Lighten up, there is always room for silliness.
  • Unconditional love trumps parenting imperfections!

41.  Some things are not worth the worry

  • Being a parent should not doom your life to worry.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff.
  • No child will starve themselves, temper tantrums are part of childhood, embarrassing behavior happens, you can’t protect your child from every illness and injury, and your child can be happy without the latest and best video game or pair of jeans….and many, many more worries that are not worth the energy!

42.  Teach good sleep habits and early bedtimes

  • Adequate sleep makes everything look better.
  • Children are wired early to bed early to rise.
  • Early bedtimes provide evenings for you to refill, recharge, and reconnect.

 43.   Don’t view your child’s life through a camera lens

  • Documenting your child’s life in pictures is important, but don’t miss the moment by trying to always have the perfect picture.
  • Step away from the camera and really enjoy the moment.
  • Sometimes the memory is better when you are actually playing in the pool with your child and not photographing it!

44.  Don’t wish time away

  • Don’t keep thinking life will be better when…..my baby sleeps through the night, my child is potty trained, my child is in school all day—with every stage is a new challenge and a new joy.
  • Enjoy each moment and each stage…they are all special.

45.  Keep it simple…working at parenting too hard or making it too complicated robs the simple joy!

Let’s make this an even 50!  What are your tips to share with others?  Share your wisdom…and help us all to enjoy every challenge and every joy of being a parent.  Like  Raising Kids with Love on Facebook and join in the conversation!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.


More parenting tips….

A few more tips that I found out work over my 30 years and counting of parenting….what are your tips?

16.  You are your child’s parent, not friend

  • You must parent, which means you may not always be liked
  • Making difficult decisions that may cause your child to be unhappy at the moment, is the definition of a good parent

17.  Nagging does not work

  • Saying “pick up your shoes” 100 times will not make it any more likely to happen

18.  Don’t buy a lot of “things” for your children

  • Buying does not equal love
  • Your child does not need a lot of things
  • There will be a new “gotta have it” every week

20.  Don’t feel like you must always play with your child

  • Time with your child is important, but your child must learn how to play without you.  This builds self-confidence, ingenuity, and your child will learn how to “work his world”.

21.  Don’t over schedule

  • Your child does not need to be involved in every lesson, sport, and club to become successful.
  • Down time is important to children, our children are often over stimulated and overly tired.
  • Teach your child the art of being alone….turn off the technology and be comfortable with alone time.

22.  Eat together as often as you can

  • Meals together reconnect a family.
  • Families who eat together have children that are more successful and less likely to be involved in alcohol and drugs.
  • Remember, a family meal can be a frozen pizza!
  • Breakfast counts as a family meal too!
  • Make at least one meal a week together a must.

 23.  Have family fun together

  • Plan activities together.  Don’t fall into the habit of everyone going their separate ways.  Family time builds connectivity.
  • Children that have a strong family identity have higher self-esteem.
  • Read and play board games, go back to the basics for family time.
  • Children remember the good in family time–even if it seems like a trip or outing was disastrous!

 24.  Establish family traditions and rituals

  • Tradition and ritual defines a family.
  • Tradition endears your child to home.
  • “That is how we always do it” means it is important!

 25.  Don’t helicopter parent

  • Allow your child to finish a task on his own.
  • Allow your child to experience consequence for behaviors.
  • Do not “rescue” your child from every hardship.
  • Let your child do his own homework and projects.
  • Give your child age appropriate responsibilities.

  26.  Parent with your heart and gut

  • Experts are great, but don’t rely only on what you hear and read, trust yourself.
  • If it doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t.
  • What is right for your family may be different from what is right for your next door neighbor’s family.

  27.  Attention is attention, whether it is positive or negative

  • Your child wants your attention, whether it is negative or positive.
  • Lots of talk about negative behavior gives that behavior lots of attention.
  • Try to give most of your attention to positive behaviors, not negative.

  28.  Love all your children but treat them differently

  • Do not try to treat each of your children exactly the same.
  • Every child needs something different from you as a parent.
  • Have the same rules in your home–but your approach to those rules may be different with each child.
  • Trying to keep things “equal” often increases sibling rivalry, give every child what he needs when he needs it.

  29.  Keep TVs and computers out of bedrooms

  • Parents must monitor their child’s exposure to TV, computer, and video games.
  • There is never a good reason to have a TV in your child’s bedroom; it decreases family interaction, reading, and creativity.
  • Keep the computer out in an area that is full of family activity.
  • Know what websites your child has been using.
  • Be tech savvy, your kids will be!

  30.  Know when to let go

  • There are times when you must trust your child–and let go.

The last few tomorrow…join in this conversation!  What are your favorite parenting tips?!  We all have them, share so we can all benefit from each other.  Like Raising Kids with Love on Facebook and join in the parenting talk!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.


A few parenting tips….

All of us have a few parenting tips…let’s share them this week!

We all know that there is not an “official” parenting tip book…wouldn’t that be nice!!  But, in actuality, it is best for parents to develop their own “parenting book”.  Parenting your child is unique to you and your child.  Develop your parenting instruction book by reading, watching others, and asking parents you admire what their best advice is.  Trust yourself and your ability to be the best parent to your own child.  Over the next few days I will share a few of my tips.  They are in no particular order, just a few tips that have worked for me over the last 30 years. Share some of your own too!  We all can use a little advice!

1.  Show your unconditional love for your child every day. 

  • Use your words of love verbally, and written.
  • Use your touch with physical hugs and kisses even as your child gets older; older children need that loving touch just as much as younger children!  Even if there is very little reciprocal hugging, the need is there.
  • Teach your child to express his or her love with words, touch, and actions.
  • Begin each day and end each day with “I love you”.  No matter how the day has been or what is in store, those three words make everything start or end well.

2.  Listen

  • Really listen, stop what you are doing and give your child your attention.
  • If you have more than one child, carve out a few minutes every day to share with each child individually.  A few minutes on the bed talking each evening worked for us!
  • Stop what you are doing when your child needs to talk, put the phone down, the computer away, and turn off the TV.

3.  Make your child feel safe

  • Keep adult problems adult problems; don’t share them with your young child or teen.
  • Don’t belittle your child’s fears; monsters can be very “real”.
  • Comfort your child when he is scared first, and then teach coping strategies.
  • Show your child that you will keep them protected.
  • Protect your child from violent TV, videos, and inappropriate web sites.
  • Discuss current events and news—don’t ignore what is happening in the world, but don’t dwell on world problems that are too adult for your child to emotionally handle.

4.  Provide order and routine in your child’s life

  • Routine brings stability and security to your child.
  • Routine and order helps a child manipulate his world.
  • Routine and order helps a child become a better student.

5.  Consistency is the key to discipline

  • Responding in a predictable way to your child’s behavior results in a child who knows what behavior is expected.
  • Sporadic discipline and consequences results in poor behavior.
  • A child who receives inconsistent discipline will push the envelope until a limit is set.

6.  Keep life fun, break the rules sometimes

  • Do the unexpected—eat ice cream for dinner, stay up too late, break your routine occasionally.
  • Enjoy a few minutes of fun every day.

7.  Take care of yourself

  • You cannot care for your child if you do not care for yourself.
  • Teach your child the lesson of self respect by “refilling your pitcher”.
  • Show your child your passions, your child will learn to develop his own.
  • A good parent is one who likes himself or herself.

8.  Take care of the significant relationships in your life

  • A happy marriage is the best gift you can give your child.
  • Your child should be the satellite of your marriage, not the center.
  •  Healthy adult relationships teach children what relationships should involve.

9.  Apologize when you are wrong

  • Teach your child that you make mistakes too.
  • Saying “I’m sorry” and meaning it repairs nearly any parenting mistake.
  • Teaching your child to apologize with true meaning is one of life’s greatest life lessons.

10.  Admit when you do not know the answer

  • You do not have to know everything to be respected by your child.
  • Work together to find answers.
  • Your child feels more secure when he or she knows that you are not “pretending” to know.
  • Your child will figure out that you don’t know everything eventually…trust me!

11.  Give your child chores

  • Teaching responsibility is key to becoming a productive adult.
  • Chores help a child feel like a valuable member of the family.
  • Self esteem is built on accomplishments—including small accomplishments like chores.
  • Chores help a child learn how to time manage.

12.  Encourage your child to listen to the voice in his or her heart

  • Help your child develop his or her inner moral compass.
  • Develop a group of core values that represent your family.
  • Talk often about right and wrong, and what feelings and emotions are connected with each.
  • Encourage your child’s moral judgment, role play how your child would react in situations that would call for that judgment.

13.  Find your spiritual guidance

  • Successful families have a spiritual core of beliefs.
  • Make those beliefs clear in your words and actions as a family.

14.  Surround yourself with like-minded parents and families

  • It is easier to parent when you have the support of others who agree with your parenting values.
  • It is so helpful to be able to bounce parenting issues off other parents for advice.
  • Your child will benefit from other families with the same moral guidelines.
  • Your child needs other adult role models in his or her life besides you!

15.  Every day is a new day

  • Each morning brings a new start for you and your child.
  • Let yesterday go, your mistakes and your child’s mistakes should not be dwelled upon the next day.  Start every day with a new beginning.

The first 15…more tomorrow.  Can you add a few to these today?

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.


Don’t let comparisons steal your joy and contentment!


Comparisons steal your joy and contentment as a Mom!

I caught myself doing it again this morning….thinking “Why can’t I be more like “so and so” who always has time to…..”  As I said this to myself, I could feel the negativity creep into my morning, the joy being sucked out of my morning cup of coffee.  The fact is…when we compare ourselves to someone else, or wish we could trade places, all we are doing is stealing the joy we have in OUR life.  If we “switched” into someone else’s “perfect life” we would also have their “imperfect” challenges which may be very different from ours!  Comparison only leads to anxiety and discontent.  We must choose to be intentional and purposeful in our life so that we can make the most of where we are instead of wishing we were at some other stage in life or in a different situation.

Comparisons tend to creep into many aspects of our lives…she is more fit, she cooks more than I do, her TV screen doesn’t have fingerprints, her child is rolling over already, her son is speaking in full sentences, her husband pitches in more and the list goes on…..All these comparisons bring unnecessary stress and discontent into our lives.  Wondering why your friend’s 11 month old is toddling about and your 13 month old is still holding on to the coffee table steals your moment of joy when your child grins at you.  Here are a few reasons to stay away from comparisons:

  • A child who is developing at a “normal” rate (remember there is a wide range of normal) is perfect!  A child who is developing a bit quicker is not more likely to be successful than your child! Relax and enjoy.
  • What works for one Mom may not work for you and your child, no matter how wonderful it seems.  Relax and trust what works for you and your family.
  • Working outside the home, working inside the home, childcare, breastfeeding, formula feeding, organic food…all these are personal decisions.  If you are content and your child is happy and developing well, ignore the chatter or arguments.  You don’t know their whole story and they don’t know yours. Relax and trust your choices for your family.
  • No one is as perfect as they seem on Pinterest! Pinterest fails are more common than Pinterest perfection. Relax and enjoy, children don’t need the perfect birthday party decorations to have fun!

If we keep telling ourselves that we are exactly where we are supposed to be…our children will grow up knowing that the life you have at this moment is full of challenge at times, but also so full of joy if we choose to see it. What a better lesson than an example of continuous discontent!   The simple joy of my quiet morning cup of coffee is much better than wondering if I should be doing or accomplishing something else.  Once again, I have vowed this morning not to let comparisons steal my joy and contentment today.

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.


Keep your precious cargo safe by using a car seat correctly!

Parents must be sure that their child’s car seat is being used correctly…we all have precious cargo!

I read an study recently in the Journal of Pediatrics which really shocked me.

A total of 291 families (81% of those eligible) participated. Nearly all (95%) CSSs were misused, with 1 or more errors in positioning (86%) and/or installation (77%). Serious CSS misuse occurred for 91% of all infants. Frequent misuses included harness and chest clip errors, incorrect recline angle, and seat belt/lower anchor use errors. https://www.jpeds.com/article/S0022-3476(15)01459-6/fulltext

95% had errors in car seat installation of positioning! That is such a scary thought since car accidents are the leading cause of death for children.  But to be honest, car seats are not easy to install correctly!   The manuals are long and sometimes confusing, there are different recommendations by auto manufacturers, and I know the installation of a car seat has caused many an argument between Moms and Dads!

The newest recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics state that until at least age 2 your child should sit in a rear facing seat and preferably a child should be rear facing until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the car seat manufacturer (that means your child most likely will be older than age 2 and still rear facing).  Children over the age of 2 may sit in a front facing seat with a 5 point harness until their weight and height exceeds the car seat’s recommendation for the seat.  A booster seat should be used until a child is 57 inches tall, which is the average height of an 11-year-old (wow…bet you didn’t realize that!)  No child should sit in the front seat until age 13! www.healthychildren.org

Types of car seats:

  • Rear facing only

This seat is used for infants up to 22 to 40 pounds depending on the seat.  They are small and have handles to carry the seat.  Some have a base that can be left in the car.

  • Convertible seats that can be used for rear facing

These seats can be used rear facing and then “converted” to forward facing when your child is older.  They are bigger than infant seats and do not have handles or a separate base.  They often have a higher rear facing weight and height limits which is great for larger babies.  They should have a 5 point harness.

  • 3 in 1 seats

These seats can be used rear facing, forward facing and as a booster.  They may be used longer by your child. (But remember every seat has an expiration date…about 5-6 years)

Installation of rear facing car seats:

  • Always know the weight and height limits of your car seat.
  • The shoulder straps should be at or below your baby’s shoulders.
  • The straps should be snug (you shouldn’t be able to pinch any slack) and the chest clip should be at the nipple line.
  • The seat should be tight in the car.  You should not be able to move it more than an inch side to side or front to back.
  • Never put a rear facing seat in the front seat of a car!
  • Make sure the seat is at the correct angle so your baby’s head does not flop down.  Many seats have an angle indicator or adjusters that can help with this.
  • I recommend having a certified car seat technician help install the car seat.  This will help with the many questions parents have and may even prevent Mom and Dad from having an argument!  🙂  Check out this website for great information on car seats, car seat recommendations and locations of car seat technicians in your area.  It is an excellent resource! http://www.nhtsa.gov/cps/cpsfitting/index.cfm

Installation of forward facing car seats:

  • Always know the weight and height limits of your car seat.
  • The shoulder straps should be at or above your child’s shoulders.
  • The seat should be tight in the car.  You should not be able to move it more than an inch side to side or front to back.
  • You may use LATCH if the weight of the car seat plus the weight of your child is less than 65 pounds. The car seat manual will give the maximum weight for your child to use LATCH.
  • You must use the car seat tether for forward facing. Read your vehicle manual to be sure you are attaching the tether in the correct place.
  • I recommend having a certified car seat technician help install the car seat.  This will help with the many questions parents have and may even prevent Mom and Dad from having an argument!  🙂  Check out this website for great information on car seats, car seat recommendations and locations of car seat technicians in your area.  It is an excellent resource! http://www.nhtsa.gov/cps/cpsfitting/index.cfm

Common questions parents have about car seats:

  • What if my rear facing child’s feet touch the back of the car seat?

No problem…your baby will cross his legs and find a comfortable position.  There are few reports of leg injuries from a crash with a baby in this position, but a leg injury is a much less severe injury than a head and neck injury which you are helping to prevent by keeping your child backward facing until age 2 or older.

  • What do I do if my baby is slouching in the seat?

You may put blanket rolls on both sides of your baby and a small cloth diaper or blanket between the crotch strap and your baby for a while until your baby grows a bit.  Do not ever put padding or blankets or anything behind your baby or add any car seat insert unless it came with the seat or was made by the manufacturer of the car seat.  Any additions to a seat may make it work a bit differently and provide less protection for your baby!

  • What do I do about winter coats?

Remember that thick winter coats, blankets, or clothing should not be put under the car seat harness or straps.  Dress your baby in thin layers and then tuck a blanket around your baby over the harness straps if necessary.

  • Where is the safest spot for the car seat in the back?

The safest spot is where the seat can be installed properly, it is convenient for you to use safely every time.  Some LATCH systems are only on the sides of the back seat.  Some car seats only fit well in the middle.  It depends on your car seat, your vehicle and the number of children you have on where is best for the car seat!

  • Should we use a car seat on a plane?

Most infant and convertible car seats can be used on planes.  The seat must have a FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) approval label on it.  The FAA and the AAP recommend that children use car seats when flying until age 4.  This keeps your child safer during takeoff and landing and in turbulence.

 Car Seat Tips

  • Always know the restrictions of your model.  Know the maximum weight and height limits for your seat!
  • The shoulder straps should be in the slots that are at or below your child’s shoulders for rear facing.
  • The shoulder straps should be in the slots that are at  or above your child’s shoulders for forward facing.
  • You may need to adjust the angle of the seat when you turn it to forward facing, check your car seat manual.
  • Choose to use the LATCH system if your vehicle has it OR the seat belt.  Do not use both.  Check your vehicle manual and your car seat manual for proper installation with the LATCH or seat belt. Latch does have a weight limit of 65 lbs total, meaning the weight of the car seat plus your child.  If the car seat and your child together weighs over 65 lbs, then you must use the seat belt to secure the seat.
  • Use a tether strap for forward facing.  This is a strap that attaches to the top of the seat.  It is often on the seat back of the vehicle.  This gives extra protection by not allowing the car seat and your child’s head to move too far forward in a crash.  All vehicles manufactured from 2000 on have them.  Check the weight limit for the use of the tether anchor.

So much information…but so important to keep your child safe.  Remember Healthychildren.org is a great resource!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.


Joyful parenting….be mindful.

  • Parenting is a gift….there is not doubt about it.  
  • It is a difficult job, no doubt about it.
  • Days can feel very long and mundane no doubt about it.
  • Society tells us we should be tired, we should be less happy raising children than our childless counter parts.
  • Studies show us that stressed unhappy parents raise children who are less happy and satisfied with life.  
  • Remember that we cannot give our children that which we do not have.  If we are not happy/joyful, we cannot give that happiness or joy to our children.

So how can we enjoy this wild ride of parenting and raise children in a home that is happy and joyful?  How can we look at our day to day life and realize that yes, the days may be long; but the years really are very short. I often remind parents, there are only 936 weekends from birth to age 18! Wow!

I have 6 simple tips that I believe will help you navigate these 936 weeks between birth and age 18 (believe me you will parent well beyond age 18!) with grace and joy. 

  1.  Balance your life.

Each day plan how you will achieve 4 goals. 

One goal for yourself  

What can you do for yourself today?  How can you fill your pitcher? An empty pitcher cannot give!  What fills you up? Prayer? Exercise? Long bath? Journal? Hobby? Chatting with friends? Reading?  Take 20 minutes a day to fill yourself. Actually set a goal for this and a plan!

One goal for your husband/significant other

We often lose connection with the most important person in our life during the child rearing years. We must concentrate on maintaining that relationship. What small act can you do each day to remind this person that you love them. A quick love note? Sticky note on the mirror? Special dinner? Some one on one time? A simple thank you?  Actually set a goal for this and a plan!

One goal for your home

When our homes are in disarray, we often feel out of control. Plan one short task a day to keep your home in control.  This can be wiping out the bathroom sinks, mopping a floor, dusting one room, cleaning out one drawer, changing your sheets…one 20 minute task each day. Do NOT try to clean your whole house in a day….one simple task. Actually set a goal for this and a plan!

One goal for your children

I know, you do things for your child every single moment of the day! But, if you plan something fun for each day this brings some joy. Plan one thing to do that is simply fun.  The park? Library? A craft? Bake some cookies? Reading an extra story at bedtime? ….one simple activity.  Actually set a goal for this and a plan!

2. Ignore behaviors that are irritating…react unemotionally with your discipline.

  • Parents are trying to live up to standards that are often simply unattainable. We cannot provide endless attention and endless activities for our children. Children learn that behaviors such as whining, complaining, tantrums often result in more attention from Mom and Dad and even may result in more screen time or snacks as exhausted parents try to buy a little quiet. Remember, attention is attention to a child.  Even negative attention with yelling or arguing is attention. I often tell parents that paying attention to whining or annoying behavior is like scratching a bug bite, it increases the itch!   The more you pay attention to annoying behavior like whining….the more your child does it!
  • Don’t negotiate.  Children should have some input into decisions but at the end of the day you make the decisions. Toddlers and preschoolers need a simple explanation…not a dissertation. Teens will need a bit more discussion….but in the end the decision is yours. Once you begin the negotiation process, children think everything is up for debate. Give choices that are real and control over things children should have control over.
  • Give your child grace…forgive and forget. Let go….. Overlook small misbehaviors and pick your battles. Always end with a hug after discipline.

3. Do the unexpected

  • Break the rules……be a little silly. Stay in your PJs one whole day, have milk shakes for dinner, say yes a little more, celebrate everything! Try to learn from your child…learn to live in the moment.  When they are playing they are not thinking about what is happening next or what happened yesterday. They are enjoying right down…we are at risk of missing joy when we are constantly in a rush.
  • Give yourself grace…sometimes doing the unexpected is simply easier, and more fun. If doing the unexpected results in something not being accomplished on your list, give yourself grace.  Remember the laundry basket is never empty.

4. Play more

  • What is one activity or part of your day that you wish could be more fun or easier?  What can you do to make it more fun?  Work play into your day and enjoy it! Don’t think of the mess or the things on your list you are not doing. Remember to live in the moment and play is a child’s work!

5. Have less family screen time, put the phone away.

  • Screen time, especially social media, can cause us to concentrate on it and detach us from the people who are with us in the moment. Less minutes on screens results in more moments “in the moment” with family and friends.
  • Ask yourself what would happen if you were inaccessible for a period of time. Put down the phone.

6. Develop family traditions and rituals

  • Tradition is the glue to your family. Traditions create fun and supports your family morals and values. Daily rituals and traditions bring stability to your child and family. 


Joyful parenting is a mindset…

  • it is staying balanced, 
  • it is about playing, being silly and ignoring behavior that is simply irritating,
  •  it is about being mindful…keeping your mind in the moment and not on what is next or comparisons to others, 
  • it is about keeping your screen time to a minimum and concentrating on your husband, your child, and the life you have now,
  • it is about letting your child be a child and not worrying about over scheduling and competitive parenting,
  • it is about building a family with tradition and value,
  • It is about giving yourself, your spouse and yes your child grace….
  • Grace goes a long way in bringing peace and joy to you and your family.  Remember….936 weekends.

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.


Your child’s temperament….continued!

See the difference?  Same activity…four different children, several different reactions…embrace your child’s temperament!

There are a few more traits that make up your child’s temperament.  Picking up from yesterday….

5.  Sensory Threshold

How sensitive is your child to physical stimuli?  Does your child become overly stimulated in a room full of noise or people?  Does your baby cry when he or she has been passed from person to person for a period of time?   Does texture of food bother your child?  Does your child respond positively or negatively to the feel of certain material or clothing?  Do the seams on socks need to be straight?! (my #3 daughter had her shoes off immediately if those seams weren’t straight)

Parenting the highly sensitive child:

  • Learn tolerance of unusual complaints..like socks that are not straight!
  • Try not to be annoyed by the fixing of socks, or cutting off of tags, or not buying “itchy” clothes.  Being sensitive to that will decrease the whining.
  • This child may have a low pain tolerance; little hurts need lots of TLC.  Dramatic reactions are common.
  • Learn to keep lights low, noise level low, and keep your child close with some physical contact when in new stimulating situations.
  • The highly sensitive child often is often creative and empathetic.

Parenting the less sensitive child:

  • Be aware if you have a less sensitive child so something is not missed.  They will tend to live with a minor ache or pain for quite a while.
  • Talk about feelings of others, help build empathy.  Point out when feelings are hurt, when apologies are needed.  Help your child become aware of how their behavior or actions impact others.

6.  Approach/Withdrawal

This is how a child responds to a new situation or strangers.  Is your child always ready to try something new?  Does your child make a new friend easily?  Is your child very curious?  Or, is your child cautious and slow to warm up to others?  Slow to warm up children are often resistant to new situations, activities, and people.  These children will often think before they act and are less impulsive.  This is a positive during adolescence!

Parenting the approachable child:

  • Encourage your child’s eagerness and curiosity….do not squelch their enthusiasm!
  • Expose them to new experiences and people.
  • Encourage them to commit, sometimes this child has a difficult time finishing a task.  These children can be social butterflies.
  • Encourage quality time with friends to help develop “best friend” type relationships.
  • Relax, enjoy their social behavior but be sure to talk to your child about asking permission from you before he or she speaks to people who are unfamiliar.  Children who are very approachable do not “know a stranger”.  You must not scare them, but protect them.

Parenting the less approachable child or slow to warm:

  • Do not label your child as “shy” or “quiet”; this type of child is thoughtful, reserved, or cautious.
  • Ease your child into meeting new people and new experiences slowly, show pictures of relatives if you are visiting.  Talk about what you will be doing, prepare your child.
  • Avoid putting your child in the spotlight or center of attention if uncomfortable.
  • Help your child problem solve, find solutions for when he or she is uncomfortable.  Have them go with a friend to group activities, find familiar faces in a room of people, have preplanned conversation or talking points when meeting new people.  Do not discourage your child from going places and doing things because they are uncomfortable.
  •  Encourage your child to try new things, do not allow them to become a “home body”.
  • Do not talk or answer for your child; allow him or her to respond, give them time to speak.

7.  Adaptability

This is how easily a child can handle transition or change.  Does your child have problems with change in routine or moving from one activity to another?  How long does it take your child to be comfortable in a new situation?

Parenting the flexible child:

  • A flexible child is easier many times because he or she tends to be “easy going”.
  • Flexible children still need routines but they will not melt down if that routine is not always followed.
  • This type child will flip from task to task, but will have to be reminded to finish.  Written reminders, calendars, and charts will help keep your child on task.  Try not to nag.
  • Allow for natural consequences when things are not completed…don’t rescue an older child from consequences.  Life lessons are very important.

Parenting the inflexible child:

  • A child who adapts more slowly will usually not rush into dangerous situations and may be less peer influenced.  A good thing during the teen years!
  • This child does better when he or she knows what to expect, help them know what is coming up.
  • Give warnings before changing activities.  “After breakfast we are going to the store.”  “In 5 minutes we are going to the store.”  “One more minute, put your puzzle away, we are going to the store.”  This “warning system” will help your child switch activities without a meltdown.
  • Try new routines out first before they have to do it (a run through morning before the first day of school, visiting the preschool before the first day, introducing a babysitter before you leave the first time)

8.  Persistence

This is how long a child will continue with an activity when there are obstacles.  Will your child keep working on a puzzle when he or she is having a difficult time—or do they move on?  Is your child patient when he or she is waiting for you to fix their meal?  Does your child have a strong reaction when they are interrupted from an activity?

Many times a child that continues an activity when asked to stop is labeled stubborn and a child who works at a puzzle that is difficult is labeled patient.  Both of these children are persistent!

A child who is persistent will be able to reach goals easier.  A child who is less persistent may have great people skills because he or she reaches out to others for help.

Parenting the persistent child:

  • A persistent child has a trait that will serve him or her well in adulthood, but can drive a parent crazy!  A persistent child will often not take the word “no” well.  Give a choice whenever possible, “Do you want to brush your teeth first or put your PJs on first?”
  • Give time limits when there is not unlimited time for a task.
  • Step in if your child is becoming extremely frustrated in trying to complete a task, but allow your child to try!
  • Know how not to engage in an argument with the older persistent child.  Remove yourself from the room when the discussion is over.

Parenting the non persistent child:

  • A less persistent child usually is compliant, but often gives up on a task easily when the task does not come easily.
  • This child needs gentle encouragement and sometimes a helpful hand.  Many times “you can do it” is not enough, the parent actually has to help the child physically start a task to help jump-start the child.  Start a task, not do it completely!
  • Success with difficult tasks breeds persistence.

9.  Mood

This is how your child reacts to the world—is it primarily in a negative way or a positive way?  Does your child see the glass as half full or half empty?  Is your child generally in a good mood or generally in a serious mood?  Is your child joyful and pleasant?  Does your child smile and laugh easily?  Is your child more whiny, complaining, or crying more often?

Parenting the little optimist:

  • These children are usually a real joy to be around, but there are some challenges.
  • Sometimes it is difficult for this child to approach something seriously.  A parent may need to bring a child “down to earth” and talk about safety issues, reality, etc.
  • Be careful not to crush an optimist’s spirit

Parenting the little pessimist (or as I like to say,  realist):

  • These children are often more challenging than the optimist, and need a loving parent to guide them through childhood pointing out the small joys in life.
  • These children are usually emotionally intense too, so they will often let others know about their disappointment quite loudly!  Often parents will respond with anger or frustration.  This usually will not defuse the situation.
  • It is hard to be a constant “cheerleader” but a parent’s optimism will often help a child open his or her eyes to the good.  End every day with asking “What was the best part of your day?  What will we do tomorrow?”  This helps focus on optimism.
  • Watch the friends your child keeps, two pessimistic people pull each other down.  Encourage relationships with people who uplift your child’s mood.
  • Do not label your child as a “pessimist”…look at your child as one who is a realist.  Help your child dream a bit about what “could be”.

So all of these traits combine to form your child’s temperament, and remember there is no good or bad temperament!  Understanding your child’s temperament does not excuse undesirable behavior, but it might help you understand why your child behaves or reacts in a particular way.  You may change your thinking about your child that is active and into everything from being “difficult” to just “curious”.  You might see your shy or slow to warm child as more “sensitive and thoughtful”.  All types of personalities have strengths and challenges, and our job as a parent is to work with our children and help them embrace their temperaments to become the best adult possible.

“Kids come with their own ingredients—you have to work with them and cook the best way you can.”  Ari Brown  M.D.

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.


A little of this and a lot of that….what makes up your child’s personality?

Can you tell they have different temperaments??  The parenting technique that worked for one, didn’t necessarily work for the other!

Over the next few days, let’s look at the 9 personality traits that make up each of our temperaments.  I know I can pick out myself in these traits and my children.  Remember a parent must work hard at parenting according to a child’s temperament.  The rules in our house were always the same, the approach with each child may have been a bit different.

1.  Activity Level

Remember most young children are busy.  Your child’s activity level should be compared to other children of the same age.  How active is your child in general?  Does your infant always wiggle and move?  Is it difficult to change a diaper?  Is your child in perpetual motion or does your child prefer quiet activities and is content “watching the world”?

Parenting the active child:

Your child is not moving and fidgeting to annoy you!  This is how your child is wired.  Give your child lots of time for active play every day.  Be creative in looking for ways to allow your child to “blow off steam”.  When your child has had plenty of energy outlets, then he or she will be able to be calmer when needed.

  • Offer a safe environment for an active child to explore his or her world
  • Daily activities liking getting dressed may be easier when allowing your child to help
  • Plan ahead to allow your child physical activity before quiet times
  • Do not set unrealistic expectations of long periods of quiet sitting.  Keep a bag of quiet activities for use when you are in need for “quiet sitting”.
  • Active children often learn best by using action and their senses, be your child’s advocate with teachers…..let teachers know ahead of time that your child has an active temperament.  A child with who simply has an active temperament should not be labeled hyperactive!

Parenting the less active child:

Parenting the quieter less active child can be challenging too.

  • Slowly introduce activities that involve action.
  • Engage your child in an activity by demonstrating first, or by having him or her watch another child.
  • Allow for extra time for a less active child to get organized and moving in the morning.
  • Encourage healthy activity.  Many less active children are not naturally inclined to participate in sports.

2.  Distractibility

This is the amount of concentration that child shows when he or she is not particularly interested in an activity. Is your baby distracted when you are nursing or feeding a bottle by noises and sites around him or her?  Is your toddler or preschooler sidetracked by every bug, bird, or even his or her own thoughts or daydreams?

Distractibility shows how easily other stimuli will disrupt a child.  Remember that children in general are distractible….this is always in comparison to other same aged children.  This trait can be a positive when it is easy for a parent to distract a child from an undesirable behavior, but it can also be a negative when a child is so distracted he or she cannot finish tasks.

Parenting a distractible child:

  • Be sure that you have your child’s full attention when talking.  Do not shout instructions from the next room, make good eye contact.
  • Keep instructions simple and to the point.
  • Redirect gently…..”Got your shoes on yet?”
  • Be sure to decrease external stimuli when you see your child is distracted or overwhelmed.
  • Remove external distractions like the TV when you are trying to help your child focus.
  • Break up tasks into manageable pieces.
  • Give breaks when the child’s distraction level increases when trying to stay on task.
  • Be your child’s advocate with teachers, let them know ahead of time about your child’s temperament

Parenting the less distractible child:

  • Be sure to give your child a break, children that are very focused often will not stop an activity on their own.
  • Make sure you have eye contact when speaking or giving direction to your child.  A very focused child may not hear a parent.
  • Give a warning to your child when it is about time to switch activities.  “We will need to put away the book in just a moment so we can get ready to leave.”  Children that are very focused will often melt down when changing activities.

3.  Intensity of emotional response

Intensity is the level of response a child has to situations.  Does your child react big to everything?  Does your child’s cry escalate?  Does the whole world know when your child is happy, excited, or sad?

Is your child’s reactions mild?  Do you have to guess what your child is feeling?  Is your child mellow?

Parenting an emotionally intense child:

When a child is very emotionally intense, often a parent responds the same way.  If a child is screaming with a tantrum, this may result in you yelling too.  This often just causes the child to escalate. A quiet response will help an intense child learn control.  An emotionally intense child can be exhausting!

  • Help your child learn to express emotions in an acceptable way.  Give young children ways to express anger or frustration, especially a child that does not have many words yet.  Try letting a child stomp their feet or hit an “angry” pillow.
  • Introduce new experiences slowly this will help an emotionally intense child feel more control and prevent a meltdown.
  •  Big reactors tend to react to physical stimulation too, so try to keep their little world calm when a child starts to escalate.
  • When you are feeling angry, stop.  Stop yelling, talking, and moving.  Take a break so you don’t increase your child’s reaction
  • Put some space between you and your child.  Use time out for you to  take a break too!

Parenting a child that is less intense:

A child that is not emotionally intense can be challenging too.  Often these children are hard for a parent to read.  They do not express their feelings well, so they tend to withdraw, mope, or be moody.  These children need help learning how to express how they feel.

  • Describe what your child is feeling.  “It is so frustrating when the tower keeps falling over!”
  •  Discuss different feelings, read books about feelings.
  • Older children especially need to be drawn out; do not let older school age children or teens mope and withdraw.  Give them tools to talk about their feelings.

4.  Regularity

This trait shows a parent how scheduled a child needs to be.  Does your child need to eat and nap at very predictable times or can your child “go with the flow” a bit more.  How flexible is your child?

Parenting the regular rhythm child:

  • This child does best with regular meals, nap times, and bedtime.
  • Keep things predictable.
  • Plan outings and activities around your child’s regular routine.

Parenting the less regular child

  • Routine is still important for a less regular or more flexible child.  Maintain a consistent schedule, but allow flexibility.
  • Have a regular bedtime, but allow for your child to read quietly in bed.  Do not force rigid sleep patterns.
  • Relax when your child is off schedule, less regular children adapt easily!

Look for tips on the other 5 personality traits tomorrow!!!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.


Packing tips for traveling with kids…having what you need but keeping it simple.

Vacation season is here! With kids, gone are the days when you can throw a few things in a suitcase and go!  There is a bit more to pack with kids…it seems like you will need everything!  Making a packing list will help.  I often would start a packing list several weeks in advance and as I thought of things we would need, I would add it to the list.  Packing can feel overwhelming when you are planning for kids.  Just remember, you can usually always wash at your destination if necessary and unless you are going to the outback, there are stores!  Don’t try to think of every scenario and try to pack for it!  Once you have a list that works for you, save it on your computer for the future!  Try and keep it simple!

Packing Tips:

  • Plan for one outfit a day per person.  Think about mixing and matching and bringing a couple extra tops.
  • Think layers…be sure you always have something warm…weather is temperamental and restaurants are cool.
  • Plan for at least 3 pairs of PJs per child.  You will always have accidents and need at least one extra pair until you can wash.
  • Pack total outfits in large freezer type zip lock bags.  Top, bottom, undershirt, and socks all together.  This makes it easy to find each outfit and helps keep things organized.  You can grab a zip lock bag and throw it in your diaper bag when you are on the run and know you have everything you need for a quick change.
  • Extra shoes.
  • Sun hat, sun screen, sunglasses.
  • Plan a diaper an hour for transit and about 5 to 6 diapers a day.  Remember, there are Walmart Stores and Target Stores everywhere…don’t bring things that are easier bought at your destination.  Think about having Amazon or Target ship your diapers to your destination when taking a long trip. 
  • Bring several receiving type blankets and a larger blanket for your baby to lie on and stretch.
  • Diaper rash ointment, acetaminophen, thermometer, small containers of shampoo and lotion.  You never want to be out looking for an open pharmacy at night!
  • Keep a list with emergency numbers in your bag.  Include your doctor’s phone number and local pharmacy number.
  • Pack a night-light.   It is nice to have a little light in a strange room!
  • Baby Monitor.
  • Child proofing kit.  This would include twist ties to tie up cords, duct tape to tape over outlets, and antibacterial wipes to wipe down TV remotes and phones.  Blue painters tape is a great way to tape things up, cover outlets etc. and kids LOVE to play with it too.  Easy to remove from anything also!
  • Straw cups, pacifiers, bottles, and enough baby food for transit and to get you started at your destination.
  • If traveling by car and you will be spending a night on the road, pack a separate bag for the hotel.  Only pack what you will need for the one night on your way to your destination.  This is much easier than carrying all of the luggage in for a one night stay!

Pack a small backpack with essentials that are within easy reach in the car or plane:

  • A change of clothing for you and your child.
  • Extra zip lock bags.  (Never can have too many!)
  • A diaper an hour and wipes.  (Never can have too many wipes!  They are NOT for just diaper changes!)
  • Pack an extra “portable” bag with a single diaper, diaper cream, and small package of wipes.  You can take this small bag into the restroom without bringing the whole diaper bag or backpack.
  • Fold up potty seat for a toddler. Post it notes to cover the electronic eye on self flushing toilets…keeps the toilet from flushing and scaring your toddler!
  • Extra “lovey”…always have an extra!
  • Two straw cups (one to be dirty one to be clean), snack cup, wipeable bib, portable snacks, small fork and spoon, any other necessary restaurant item.
  • If you are formula feeding, bring powdered formula.  Make up a couple of bottles with the powdered formula so only water needs to be added.
  • Baby food for use that day.
  • Zip lock with thermometer, travel sized acetaminophen, ibuprofen, band aids, Benadryl, nasal saline drops, and any other medications your child or you are taking.
  • A mix of new and old toys…plan for an activity per hour at least.  A sample “fun bag” will be posted later.

So, pack smart and start early.  Make a list and check it twice, but remember, the only real essentials are items that cannot be bought at your destination…so relax, if you forget something, thank goodness for Target and Walmart….I know you can find either at your destination!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.


Cars and Planes….Entertaining Your Kids for Happy Travels!

family vacation

So, you have your vacation booked, you are packed, and now you are thinking about how you will entertain your child in the car or on the plane! 

Long trips are even longer when you have children who are fussy and bored!  We traveled to the beach each year by car, and took the occasional flight when our children were young.  I had quite a few tricks up my sleeve to keep everyone content (at least mostly content) on the way.  Early on we learned that the trip to and from our destination had to become part of the “vacation”.  In other words, we had to have that vacation mentality and enjoy that part of the trip too!  You can have fun driving with a carload of kids I promise!

Traveling by car allows you to see some great areas that you may not experience if in a hurry.  During our yearly trip to the beach we found small towns, festivals, touristy attractions, and great parks for picnics.  We soon learned that getting out of the car and enjoying the trip made it much more fun for everyone.  Lunch is much better in a park where everyone can run and play than sitting quietly in a restaurant!  Leaving early in the morning and stopping early in the late afternoon allowed the kids to play, swim, and become familiar with the hotel we were sleeping in that night.  We learned the hard way that pulling into a hotel after a long day of driving at bedtime only resulted in crying children and frustrated parents.  An early stop always resulted in kids settling in for the night easier and an earlier start the next morning.

Entertaining kids on a flight or in the car sometimes takes some creativity.  A mixture of new toys and old favorites usually works.  Some toys were “special” vacation toys that were only used on long trips.  We didn’t have the DVD players so common now, but our kids were very excited about the special travel toys we kept just for our long trips.  You might think about using your DVD player for that purpose.

Here are a few ideas that may work for you.  I found packing the toys in a bag and getting them out one at a time as needed worked well.  Sometimes even wrapping the new ones made it so much fun to unwrap and see the new surprise toy!  A trip to the dollar store or the Target Dollar Aisle is a great place to pick up some of those new items.

  1. Travel sized magnetic games.
  2. Travel sized Magna Doodle or Aqua Doodle.
  3. Sticker Books
  4. Activity Books
  5. Crayons and markers (remember to bring the crayons out of the car if it is warm weather…trust me they can melt and make a mess!)
  6. Reusable stickers or “clings” that can be put on car or plane windows.
  7. Wikki Stix or pipe cleaners
  8. Painter’s tape (makes great “roads” on tray tables, fun to tear and stick, easy to remove, great for childproofing in hotel rooms!)
  9. Finger puppets
  10. New books and favorite books
  11. Favorite music
  12. Movies
  13. Bubbles (fun to blow in the car!)
  14. Small cars, favorite dolls, stuffed animals
  15. Cookie sheet with magnets
  16. Water paint books
  17. Reusable sticker “clings” for windows or “Colorforms” type books

Treat bags became a vacation tradition with our kids.  We always packed a few snacks, some healthy and some special treats.  To this day, I pack a “treat bag” even for my husband and me when we head out on a road trip!  Slow down, stop, let your child out to run and then provide a quiet activity once back in the car seat or on the plane.  Take a deep breath and enjoy having your family contained in one spot…something that, believe it or not, you will look forward to when your children are a bit older and busier.  Talk, sing, snack, and maybe even nap on the way (not the driver of course!!) :)…Family vacations are simply time together, time together doing something different….so be sure that your vacation begins when you leave your house.  The trip to and from your vacation CAN be fun too! What do you bring to make your travels more fun?  Share your ideas!!!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.


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