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20 Parenting Hacks

There’s not place to hide in parenting. Nowhere to run.

Do you need a little help with those sticky, tricky spots? Life can get messy and whenever kids are involved. Or perhaps you’re just tired of hearing, “I’m bored” and you need some time to yourself in the bathroom. Here are 20 parenting life hacks to make your job easier.

1.PLACE TAPE OVER THE SPEAKERS ON YOUR KIDS’ TOYS TO LOWER THE VOLUME.

2. PUT A CUPCAKE LINER UNDER A POPSICLE TO KEEP IT FROM MELTING ALL OVER YOUR KID’S HAND.

3. EASILY SHAPE SNOW INTO BLOCKS USING A RECTANGULAR-SHAPED TUPPERWARE CONTAINER.

4. MAKE MEALTIME LESS MESSY BY PUTTING KETCHUP UNDER YOUR KID’S HOT DOG INSTEAD OF ON TOP OF IT.

5. KEEP YOUR CANDY SAFE FROM YOUR KIDS BY STASHING IT INSIDE A HEALTHY SNACK’S EMPTY PACKAGING.

6. HAVE A KID WHO CONSTANTLY PULLS OFF THEIR DIAPER (OR STRIPS NAKED)? TRY PUTTING THEIR ONESIE ON BACKWARD.

7. CUT A STICKER DOWN THE MIDDLE, THEN PUT ONE HALF INSIDE EACH OF YOUR KID’S SHOES. THIS WAY THEY’LL ALWAYS KNOW WHICH SHOE GOES ON WHICH FOOT.

8. WASH BABY SOCKS TOGETHER IN A LAUNDRY BAG SO YOU NEVER LOSE ANOTHER ONE AGAIN.

9. IF YOUR KID IS AFRAID OF MONSTERS AT NIGHT, MAKE SOME “MONSTER SPRAY” TO SPRAY IN THEIR ROOM BEFORE BED.

10. PUT PLASTIC WRAP OVER THE TOP OF A CUP TO SERIOUSLY CUT DOWN ON SPILLS.

11. ATTACH A CLIP TO THE END OF YOUR KID’S BUBBLE WAND TO KEEP IT FROM FALLING INTO THE CONTAINER.

12. USE AN EMPTY WIPES CONTAINER TO STORE TRAVEL SNACKS FOR YOUR KID.

13. KEEP TODDLERS ENTERTAINED ON A FLIGHT BY LETTING THEM PLAY WITH GEL CLINGS ON THE WINDOW.

14. THE BEST TIME TO CUT YOUR BABY’S NAILS IS 20 MINUTES AFTER THEY’VE FALLEN ASLEEP.

15. KEEP YOUR TODDLER BUSY BY LETTING THEM “PAINT” THE FENCE WITH WATER.

16. PUT A KEY RING ON YOUR CHILD’S JACKET TO MAKE IT EASIER FOR THEM TO ZIP UP.

17. USE SHOE ORGANIZERS TO ORGANIZE YOUR KID’S THINGS IN THE CAR.

18. DOES YOUR KID YELL “TOO COLD!” WHEN THEY NEED AN ICE PACK? GIVE THEM A BAG OF FROZEN MARSHMALLOWS INSTEAD.

19. Turn an old cardboard box, pizza box, or appliance box into something amazing. Let your child color, paint, or draw on it and turn that ordinary box into something magical like a castle, a car, or a T.V.

20. Use a mesh bag to put all those tiny toys (Legos, anyone?) into and  run on a dishwasher cycle to clean.

Article credit:  100 Genius Hacks Guaranteed To Make A Parent’s Job Easier

We don’t have to be the same to be together

Please, everyone, read this excellent blog post. I’m disheartened at the contentious world we are creating to live in. It doesn’t matter if it relates to politics, religion, race. It doesn’t matter if it’s in the public arena or in our homes, with family members.

I would love us all to listen to each other and then say (or respond to social media posts) these words: “I understand.” or “I see where you are coming from.” Period. No rebuttals, no one-upmanship, no “I’m right/You’re wrong” on whatever political, social, or religious issue is in question.

Even those who are seeking to live Christ-centered lives can see things very differently. “While the Atonement is meant to help us all become more like Christ, it is not meant to make us all the same. … We can even make the mistake of thinking that because someone is different from us, it must mean they are not pleasing to God.” -Dieter Uchtdorf

[About an Armenian family] “It was interesting to get to know what they believe and understand each other better. I liked that they were open-minded and tried to understand what we believed as we tried to understand what they believe.”-From my daughter, Rachel Nelson, in her letter home this week from Russia.

Differences Among Us: What an Opportunity to Teach Children Compassion.

There’s a lot going on since the presidential election and installment of our new President.  A lot of talk, a lot of debate, even hostility between people who should be friends. Conflict brings out the best (and worst) in people.

But conflict shouldn’t be seen as something to avoid or to divide us. It should be viewed as a natural part of life, an opportunity for maturity and growth as individuals, friends, communities and nations. Difference is what makes us stronger and gives us an opportunity to teach children compassion.

Brene Brown is a women who has a strong message about diversity and kindness. I wish there was more kindness going on right now. Respect for one another. Believing the good in others. Understanding another’s point of view rather than proving how I am right and you are wrong. Parents owe this to their kids and to themselves.

Here is a link to her message about how to teach children about compassion with all the political rhetoric.

The Secret Sauce for Apologizing

Imagine this: Your spouse ate the rest of the lasagna you had planned to serve for leftovers tonight. Now there’s no dinner and everyone is hungry and crabby. When you fume about it, he says dismissively, “My bad.”

How’s that for an apology? Do you feel any better?

Probably not.

It wasn’t sincere and it certainly didn’t own up to his carelessness. And it doesn’t put dinner on the table.

Saying “My bad” or a simple ” I’m sorry” may be fine for small, inconsequential mistakes if delivered with sincerity. However, these superficial expressions can easily get the offender off the hook and not feeling the full effect of how their actions hurt others.

Real apologies and sincere contrition involves much more than a few casual words. Apologies signal change and should be accepted by those who were hurt. Happy couples and family members are not free of mistakes, but they know how to treat one another when they let someone down. They use the “secret sauce” of apologizing liberally, every day.

These are the 4 ingredients in the secret sauce:

Be sincere. This is where you look the person in the eye, and with real intent say, “I’m sorry.” Don’t look away until they believe you are sincere. The level of hurt you caused should be matched with the sincerity of the apology.

Accept responsibility. “I should never have said those mean words and yelled at you.” Period. One of the biggest mistakes at this step is when a person begins to apologize and then inserts his big “BUT.” This sounds something like, “I’m sorry I ate the lasagna but I bought it in the first place so I should be able to eat whatever I want.” You can see how the “sorry” part of this was obliterated by every thing stated after the “but.” When we qualify, deflect, or excuse our behavior, it completely wipes out, or negates, the apology.

Acknowledge the result of your mistake. “I really hurt your feelings and I feel terrible about that. I made a mess of things.” State the impact of what you did so you can truly begin a change. This opens up the other person to accept your apology because their feelings are validated. You understand what you did. You are humble and brave enough to see through your loved one’s eyes.

It would be natural right about here to ask, “Will you forgive me?” True, if you have followed the steps to this point, you could expect the other person to show mercy. Asking for forgiveness is a way to have closure and start the reconciliation process. That being said, apologizing should not be conditional. It should be offered with an open heart, free of any expectations that the other person will accept it.

Address change.  Jesus said to forgive the offender seventy times seven times. I’m all for that but I believe He also wanted the offender to learn from his mistakes and make progress toward improvement. I doubt He was asking husbands to excuse their wives day after day for overspending just because she says, “I’m sorry” every time.

If you are truly sorry, that means you truly don’t want to cause pain and problems again. Part of a real apology should be an action plan for how you will make an effort to do better. “I am going to work on this by…. Will you help me?” If you were the thoughtless person who ate the leftover lasagna, this is where you would say, “To show you how sorry I am, I am going to whip up some burritos right now. You just relax and I’ll take care of it.”

Enjoy eating your burrito, lasagna, or whatever you’re having for dinner tonight with your spouse. Be sure to keep plenty of secret sauce on hand to cover the mistakes we all make in families.

12 Mistakes We Make at Christmas

One of the favorite Nelson children Christmas traditions is to lay the bed mattresses on the basement family room floor and have a sleepover on Christmas Eve. They lay side-by-side, eat who-knows-what-kinds of sugary junk and watch Christmas movies until sugar plums dance in their heads. Their favorite movies are “Elf,” “Home Alone,” and “Christmas With the Kranks.” 

If you haven’t seen “Christmas With the Kranks,” it’s one of Jamie Lee Curtis and Tim Allen’s more endearing movies. It’s about family, and what extreme, half-brained ordeals we’ll endure for our kids, especially around the holidays. Go watch it if you haven’t yet.

This year, we are known as the “Kranks,” not the Nelsons. We were inspired by this movie, based on John Grisham’s book, “Skipping Christmas” and decided to not celebrate Christmas in the traditional way for the first time ever. The week before Christmas Day, our family will be going to California. While my husband and I, along with the other Nelson siblings and spouses, celebrate with my in-laws on their 60th wedding anniversary on a Baja Cruise, our kids will spend the week at amusement parks. It’s our Christmas present to them.

In anticipation of being gone, I did the unthinkable. The most anti-holiday thing ever. Call my Grinch (or Mrs. Krank), but I didn’t put up a tree, a decoration, or lights. Not having to buy and wrap a single present, decorate with a single ornament, or hang a single stocking gives me a tingle of relief for the first Christmas ever. I want to break out in a Holly Jolly cheer.

I’ve driven around town filled with peppermint glee as I pass by cars filling the mall parking lot and lines of people at the stores.  I don’t have to join the throngs and fight the crowds. Suckers! It’s been the most stress-free holiday ever. Shopping is a major cause of stress followed by the post-holidays blues of overspending. I’d like to share some of the major mistakes parents make over the holidays. It’s easier to see from my perch on Mount Crumpit.

  1. Shopping without a budget. Before you make any purchases, figure out how much you can afford to spend, stick to your budget and track your spending. Don’t make purchases you haven’t budgeted for.
  2. Not sharing the cost of entertaining. While it is tempting to just cover all of the costs yourself, share your entertaining costs by assigning such things as food and game supplies with guests.
  3. Shopping at the last minute. Buying “little” gifts for too many people. In fact, consider an alternative to gift exchanges, neighbor gifts, and expensive stocking stuffers. Stocking stuffers used to be things like candy, nuts and oranges (or in our case, flavored dental floss and nail clippers, yes we are THAT practical). Now they have to be season tickets to Lagoon and expensive non-essential toys. Rather than friend gifts, perhaps ask if they’d like to donate money or service to charity and share with them what you did.  Buying last minute is a problem because everything is picked over, the crowds will suck the cheer out of the merriest of persons, and you end up buying more than you planned on.
  4. Buying new decorations and clothes every year. Besides, that ugly Christmas sweater just keeps on getting better with every new year. Use a black dress and accessorize with something less expensive to buy, or get one new tie to go with a suit or sweater.
  5. Not taking advantage of free activities. We overspend going to way too many holiday activities that have a large fee, and when we take kids, the costs increase.
  6. Not shopping a year in advance, which is where you get the best deals. If you haven’t already, learn how to shop after-holiday sales instead of before-holiday rip offs.
  7. Buying overpriced wrapping paper and greeting cards just to make your gifts look extra special. The kids are going to rip them open anyway to get to the present inside and throw away the paper. They get the gift nonetheless but your wrapping may add dollars to the total price of that gift. Instead of fancy store-bought cards, consider going to e-cards or buy on clearance. I bought mine for 50 cents a box at the ReStore last year. Score!
  8. Splurging on meals away from home. You don’t need to eat out to celebrate the Christ child’s birth. Also, see #2.
  9. Paying for warranties on appliances and electronics. Odds are that you won’t need the extra coverage because most major appliances don’t break down during the extended-warranty period. Or you might already be covered. The four major credit card networks — Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express — provide up to a year of extended warranty protection for some cardholders, according to credit card comparison site cardhub.com.
  10. Not clearly planning your charitable contributions. We all want to help out those in need during the holidays, but we usually either go overboard, don’t plan a set amount or get carried away with everyone who approaches your help. This can add up quickly
  11. Going overboard for your kids. It is an easy thing to do, out of desire to make the season magical and a desire to grant their every wish, but be careful. Stay the course on your predetermined amount of money available for gifts, and live within the reality of your budget. Tell them the budget you have and the price point. We do that with the car salesman, why not with kids?
  12. Buying for yourself. I had a friend post on facebook last week, “How many times have I started a sentence with: As an early Christmas present to myself…”? Unless that early Christmas present to yourself means taking a nap, reading a good book, or playing a board game with your kids, you should be wise how you justify buying things. While you may be worth it, no matter how good the deal, pass it up.  On average we spend about $130 on ourselves during the holidays, according to the National Retail Federation. So be careful…that is a lot of money.

Remember that “Christ” should be at the center of “Christmas” and that the spirit of the season can’t be bought from a store. Dr. Seuss got it right after all.

 

These ideas are taken from an article written by Teresa Hunsaker in Live Well Utah.