The Secret to Raising Happy and Confident Teens in an Image Focused World

Raising happy teens

It really bothers me when I see teenage angst played out on TV and in the movies like it’s a natural part of the growing process. Spreading the lie that all teens must have an attitude problem and get into loads of trouble.

The truth is, being a teenager is hard and so much of the time we as parents are getting it wrong. That’s not to say every issue we face with our teens is our fault. The tween and teen stage is full of changes that can be hard for them and for you.

Raising happy teens

But we as parents are the single most important influence our kids have and how we parent and relate to our kids really matters… especially during the teen years.

Does it ever seem strange that your teen can seem totally logical and mature in one moment and completely illogical and impulsive in another?

That’s because their brains are still under construction!

Because the prefrontal cortex is still developing, teenagers might rely on a part of the brain called the amygdala to make decisions and solve problems more than adults do. The amygdala is associated with emotions, impulses, aggression and instinctive behavior. source

This is why it’s hard to be a teen and can be equally hard to raise a teenager.

And to top it off, we live in a very image and selfie-focused world. When we send our kids to any typical school, we’re really sending them into a war zone. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s sadly very true.

There are so many instances of bullying, the pressure to conform, and exposure to things we never intended when we drop them off for their education every day.

Related: 9 Things Your Kid Wishes You’d Do but Doesn’t Know How to Tell You

Parenting Teens with Compassion

In the lives of many tweens and teens, they’re simply getting an education in survival. And this is very sad. No wonder teens are widely seen as angry, unengaged and apathetic people!

As parents, teachers, youth workers, and family members of teens we should be practicing parenting with compassion. And strive for connection and understanding before rushing to correction and judgment.

Don’t we need to focus on character development and discipline with our teens? Absolutely!

But first, we need to do everything in our power to win the heart of our child before they ever reach the teen years. And do everything in our power to keep it!

The heart is the access point to a person’s heart and when you have it you have everything you need to be an amazing mom.

So how do we win the heart of our kids and teens? Start by asking more questions. Not judgment-laden questions, but ones that focus on really getting to know them.

And do LOTS of listening. Way more listening than talking. And trust me, as a mom this is a HUGE challenge. At least it was for me!

We are born and bred to talk, talk, talk and lecture, lecture, lecture as a way of parenting. But we learn so much more when we shut up and listen.

The Secret to Raising Happy Teens

One of the starting points to raising thriving teens is our expectation. Our society programs us to expect the worst when our kids reach their teen years.

It’s referred to in the fabric of our culture over and over again. We’re taught to fear our kids becoming teenagers.

It’s no different than when we all feared our first child turning two because we were all told it was going to be terrible.

I’m kind of different in my thinking… kind of like a teenager. I don’t like being told, “this is how it’s going to be.” As if I have no control over the matter.

Here’s the thing, we do have a say! We do get to choose whether we buy into the lies or write a new story for our family.

I didn’t say it was going to be easy every day but at least when you go into something with the expectation that it’s NOT going to be terrible… that it’s going to be great… you’re starting from a winning position.

There’s so much power in our expectation and having low or fearful expectations actually changes the way we parent.

This is why I choose to expect that my children will all thrive in their teen and adult years… whether they do or don’t is another issue altogether.

My expectation is that they won’t be overcome by bullying and peer pressure, that they’ll be confident to stand on what they know is right, and know how to love themselves and others well.

I hope you choose to expect the same for your kids. And these tips will help you get there. It’s not easy being a parent in any stage, but we were made for this and have the capacity to exceptionally parent our teens.

Know When to Take a Break

I feel it’s necessary to start here when talking about raising tweens and teens. Not because they are bad (we’ve already covered that) but because they’re largely hormonal. Aside from hormones, teen moodiness can be related to issues outside of hormones.

After puberty sets in, kids have a much harder time managing their emotions. Aggression, sadness, and impulsive behavior are just some of the emotions raging in a typical teen.

That means even on the best of days, there are plenty of opportunities for blow-ups.

Even the most mild-mannered adult can find themselves in an all-out verbal war with their teenager.

So when you find yourself going back and forth in a heated discussion with your teen and your blood pressure is steadily rising, practice taking a break.

Just flat-out say that we need to stop this discussion until we both calm down and try again later. That’s it. It’s not worth saying things you’ll regret and you can’t take back.

You never want to risk verbally wounding your child or tearing down the walls of your relationship that you’ve worked so hard to build. Take a break and talk about it later, or if appropriate consider letting it go.

Become a Master Observer

There are so many changes that take place in our children from their tween years into early adulthood. And many of those changes or behavior shifts are a normal part of their growth and development.

However, sometimes major behavior and personality changes can point to trauma. And even seemingly little traumas can cut really deep and make much larger impacts on their reasoning and behavior.

And trauma to a teenager can range from being rejected by a close friend, being introduced to drugs through peer pressure, being a victim of bullying, feelings of depression or suicide, and even sexual abuse.

It’s vitally important that we don’t make the false assumption that all teens withdrawal and become anti-social to their families. This simply isn’t true.

Many, many of these typical teens were traumatized in some way and simply don’t know how to handle it or ask for help. Mainly because they feel it was their fault or that they’ll get into trouble.

I was personally a teen that was traumatized many, many times and all of these encounters warped my mind and how I related to others. Unfortunately, my behavior shift was rolled into the assumption that I was just being a “typical teenager.”

I wasn’t… I was deeply hurt and wounded. And sadly remained that way for much of my adulthood.

We need to put down our distractions and pay attention, be present, and fight for our kids. There’s nothing more important than that.

And I must point out that we don’t need to rely mearing on our own observations. Praying for our kids opens the door to being able to hear from Holy Spirit who will point us to issues with our kids we might never be able to observe on our own.

Related: The Power and Purpose of a Regular Quiet Time Routine

Model Kindness & SelfLove

One of the things teens get a bad rap for is lacking compassion. The easiest way to raise compassionate kids is to be compassionate. We need to model both compassion and kindness to others in front of our children so they can see these qualities in action.

We can’t simply leave it to the world to do it because it’s not really happening.

Kids are like little tape recorders walking around doing and saying everything they hear and see at home. I served in children’s ministry for over a decade and I’ve seen a lot! Your kids are telling all your business. Lol

The point I’m trying to make is we want them to be instinctively walking around and seeking out the hurting, the left out, and the unloved. Because they see us doing it first.

We also need to be modeling healthy self-love and self-esteem! Our kids are growing up in an image-focused world and it’s easy to feel like you don’t measure up.

Talking about our wrinkles and cellulite all the time isn’t setting the best example. It’s up to us to learn to love our own bodies and who we really are just the way we are… imperfections and all!

Teach Teens the Value of Grit

Grit is probably one of the most powerful qualities a person can develop and grow to live their best life. Grit is defined as passion and perseverance over the long term.

Grit supersedes talent, intelligence, connections, and the ability to overcome your own fear. Grit is what determines whether you’ll stay where you’re supposed to be and abundantly thrive there.

As Angela Duckworth points out in her Ted Talk below, how to teach grit in kids is still unclear. That’s why I believe teaching kids the “value” of grit is so powerful.

Instead of putting all of our emphasis on talent and intelligence we need to encourage our children to see their goals over the long haul. That they absolutely have the power to create their own destiny if they take the passion-driven right actions long enough.

Lead them to their Passion

Most of the time passion manifests through what we see as a talent. Maybe our child is really good at baseball, dance, or excels in their artistic ability. If that child is equally driven to grow in that gift… you have a passion!

Other times a passion can be people, need, or problem-driven. For example, this teen was filled with a passion to help cancer patients when her mom and sister were battling cancer.

She started a non-profit organization and it has grown enormously and is helping so many people.

The source of your child’s passion can come from many places. However, the important thing is that we help nurture their passion and give them every opportunity possible to rise beyond their potential.

The reason passion is so important for kids and teens is because it serves to keep them focused and occupied in something that deeply matters to them.

This is a very good thing as long as they practice healthy balance, of course. But the biggest factor is when a teen is filled with a passion, they are less likely to be influenced by peer pressure, teen boredom, low self-esteem, and bullying.

Why? Because they’re busy building something! They just don’t have time for the foolishness.

It’s NEVER a good idea to have a bored and uninspired teenager. Never.

Related: How to Stop Standing in the Way of Your Child’s Purpose

Be an Undistracted Parent

One of the reasons I believe it’s possible to make such a positive impact as a parent is by actually being there. And I’m not talking necessarily about not working. Most of us, including me, have to work for income.

I’m talking about being a Present Parent. One that’s not distracted by their phone, their busyness, or even their own dreams and passion.

As a mom, our first ministry is our family. And making the hard sacrifices to be there physically and emotionally must be our first priority. Especially over money.

The last several years we weren’t living a very glamorous life. We had a few setbacks in our business and ended up struggling in our finances. I wasn’t making any money from blogging at the time and my emotions and fear pointed me toward getting a job.

In the end, I stayed home and worked my butt off to stay focused on my family and work extremely hard in the fringe hours to build a business that I can work from home. All with the dream of earning an income that allows me the freedom to be with my kids.

Even if you’re a stay-at-home mom who doesn’t need to work for income you can still struggle to be a present parent. Present parenting has so much more to do with your priority of Family Time and making connections with your kids.

Praise Effort Over Results

Our kids are literally just trying to figure it all out every single day. And it’s hard.

Intentionally offering praise and encouragement when our kids take the right action is so key. When they take the initiative to clean their room on their own, to study for a test without prodding, or anything else you notice it’s important that we take a moment to reinforce that behavior.

They may not clean their room the way you like it done or might get a less than perfect grade on that test, but they took imperfect action. And imperfect action is a million times better than no action!

If your child is consistently earning C’s in school but they work diligently and make every opportunity to do well, then they should be praised the same as a student that earns straight A’s.

Why? Because of their effort. I always encourage my kids to do their best… not someone else’s best.

If we know our kids tried their best, then we praise them for their effort first and then the result.

If we only praise based on results, we run the high risk of marginalizing kids who don’t naturally fit into the high-performing or high-achieving model.

Related: 2 Super Easy Ways to Teach Your Child Personal Accountability and Stop the Blame Game

Fill Their Love Bank

Think of your child’s heart as a bank. We all have a love bank and it works the same as our real bank accounts. We put deposits in and take withdrawals out.

How do we fill out child’s love bank?

By showing them love through encouragement. By affirming them way more than we correct or criticize them. And by always showing up, even when they push us away and say they don’t want us to.

Withdrawals happen when we scream at our kids in anger and frustration. When we judge them before we ever try to understand them. When we disconnect because we feel rejected.

Remember, it’s hard to be a teen. And much of the time, they’re struggling with complex emotions they don’t know how to deal with. Some days our teens just need a long, love-drenched hug… even if it’s just a verbal one.

Related: 50 Simple Ways to Show Love to Your Child Speaking their Love Language

Never Tolerate Disrespect

Finally, we must never tolerate disrespect to anyone. This really needs to start when they’re toddlers.

If kids are allowed to talk back to you or other adults or aren’t corrected when they’re outright disrespectful it’s like giving them a giant green light. And it only gets worse as they enter their tween years.

Talking back is a matter of personal expression. We all have the urge to say what’s on our minds and have the last word when we’re angry or frustrated.

And being able to develop the personal restraint to hold your tongue in these situations is an important social skill everyone needs to be able to do. Sadly, too few don’t.

When we allow our kids and teens to over-talk us, say rude comments or talk back it must be a non-negotiable action that’s always grounds for discipline.

If they’re allowed to be disrespectful to their own parents it’s likely this behavior will transfer to teachers, coaches, and other parents. If not dealt with, there’s a good chance they will grow to become rude people.

Please don’t raise another rude person. We have too many already!

All jokes aside, this is an area that needs boundaries and constant attention until they learn how to more effectively handle their emotions.


Which areas are you most excited about focusing on with your teen? I know this post showed a lot things we can work on with our teens. Don’t allow yourself to feel overwhelmed or discouraged.

Just take the right actions one step at a time!

Share your teen struggles and questions in the comments below!

 

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Want to know the secret to raising confident and happy teens? The answers may surprise you! Check out how to help your teen and tween be their best! #tweens #teens #raisingkids #parenting #parenting101

50 Simple Ways to Speak Your Child’s Love Language Everyday

speak your child's love language

Did you know there’s an actual language of love… no not Italian. Seriously, we all have a unique Love Language that’s tailor-made to our unique personality. A language that when it’s spoken to us, can make us feel love in a deeply personal way.

And understanding the power of love languages, especially as it pertains to our kids, makes such an impact on how we give and receive love. This post shares simple and tangible ways to bond closer with your children using their love language.

We all know what it’s like to feel loved. It’s this experience of love that hits our heart much differently than merely knowing we’re loved. So many of us live the majority of our days in the “knowing we’re loved” zone, versus actually “experiencing that love” in action.

speak your child's love language

We all want to feel that love a whole lot more than just knowing it’s there. I know I’m guilty of letting the days go by without going beyond the usual hug, kiss, and I love you as I drop them off at school. And, of course, the thought that feeding them, clothing them, and sheltering them is an expression of love.

And though they are clearly expressions of love, I have to ask myself when was the last time my child “felt” love. A love that was meant just for them, and not a one-size-fits-all love that merely got tossed to all the kids at once on the way out the door.

The truth is, far too often we all take for granted that our spouse, children, and friends simply know we love them and leave it at that. Until a holiday (#Valentine’s Day) or other special event rolls around. Then we bring out the big guns!

This list is designed to help you become an even better mom and a positive parent than you already are!

We Speak Love in our Own Language

But our loved ones need so much more than that, especially our sweet children. Who are generally sweet most of the time. 

They need to feel and experience a clear and tangible expression of our love. One they can’t question or talk themselves out of later. And the best way to do this is to show them love in their own love language.

In case you’ve been hiding under a rock (or mounds of your children’s dirty laundry) and haven’t heard of love languages; let me catch you up.

The concept is taught extensively by Gary Chapman who wrote several books on the topic including The 5 Love Languages of Children – which I HIGHLY recommend along with all of his other books on the topic.

He teaches that there are basically five main ways (languages) we humans uniquely communicate love to one another. We all communicate on some level using all five languages, but Gary believes we each have one overarching language that’s stronger than all the others. That’s our love language.

Why are Love Languages Important?

The interesting part is, we naturally communicate our love to others using our own love language. I mean, that’s our own language, right? But this can hinder the flow of the “love exchange” because, as you know by now, we receive love best in our own language. Confused yet?

Please don’t be. Think of love languages as actual languages. If your husband spoke French and you only spoke English, your relationship would be challenging at best. But if you knew each other’s language and chose to speak that language to each other – you’d be in business. No more mixed signals. Well, hopefully.

This gives us the challenge of identifying and understanding the love language of those we want to show love to the most – our family. This way you can shoot your arrows of love like The Mocking Jay and hit the bulls-eye every single time. Imagine that!

The whole point of understanding and using love languages is the concept of filling each other’s love tank. And doing things that fill our child’s love tank in the specific way that they need it, sends the message loud and clear to your child – I AM LOVED.

Tips to Identify Your Child’s Love Language

In case you don’t know your child’s love language, I’m going to briefly list a few clues to point you in the right direction. I’ll warn you, it may seem at first that your child has ALL the love languages.

But if you observe your child over time, it’ll become more clear. Once you know your child’s love language, you can have fun delivering love messages to them in a way that’s sure to fill their love tank all the way to the top!

Physical Touch

  • Your child is touchy-feely and never seems to leave your side.
  • Frequently grabs your hand to hold it, leans on you, or rubs you in an affectionate way.
  • Loves to snuggle, cuddle, and be close.
  • If you reject this snuggle-fest request, they’ll likely feel rejected themselves.

Words of Affirmation

  • Your child is highly motivated by your words of encouragement.
  • They tend to feed off the validation of others.
  • They also will be more affected by harsh verbal correction or discipline.
  • Compliments and praise are like fuel to their soul.

Quality Time

  • Your child will frequently ask to spend time with you, even after you just had an awesome one on one day yesterday! Lol
  • Every time you turn around – they’re there looking to see what you’re doing.
  • If they aren’t getting the attention they’re seeking out, they will often resort to getting attention elsewhere. This is where getting negative attention can come in.
  • They’ll ask to come along when you’re just running errands. The point is, they want to be with you. Here are some great ideas for family connections!

Gifts

  • Your child sees receiving gifts a special moment.
  • On big gift giving days like Christmas and Birthdays, they’ll often remember who gave each and every gift.
  • They will often collect and store seemingly random mementos from places they’ve been or from things they’ve been given by friends.

Acts of Service

  • Your child always wants to help and will even try to take over doing things like folding the laundry or putting away dishes as an act of love.
  • They will look for things that need to be done, like cleaning up the pile of blocks that got left in the corner. They’ll feel proud and accomplished after doing this, so showing your appreciation will go a long way.
  • They will naturally look for ways to help others.

How to Bond with Your Child Using Love Language

Even when you’re busy and overwhelmed with life, these ideas are so super, simple that you’ll find yourself inventing new ideas. The ways to speak your child’s love language are really endless and are only bound by your creativity and FUN! Let’s get to it.

 Physical Touch

  1. Watch their favorite TV show or read a book snuggled up on the couch. For ideas, check out my Epic Summer Reading list here!
  2. Create a special one-of-a-kind handshake.
  3. Give a lingering hug every day. One that just holds for an extra moment or two.
  4. Offer piggy-back or on the shoulder rides (if they’re still little enough!)
  5. Invite them into your lap to read as long and as often as they’ll still accept the invitation.
  6. Challenge them to an arm or thumb wrestling contest.
  7. Play a board game. Twister is a great one if you can handle it, Mom!
  8. ALWAYS tuck your child in for bed whenever possible.
  9. Wake them up sweetly with a warm snuggle instead of the light on and a, “wake up!”
  10. Do yoga or stretches together using each other for gentle resistance and support.

Words of Affirmation

  1. Write them a love note in their lunch box.
  2. Send them a text message telling them how awesome they are. Be specific and genuine! They’ll spot a canned praise a mile away.
  3. Always be ready with something awesome to say about them when they’re with their friends and/or siblings.
  4. When disciplining/correcting use the sandwich method. Praise – correction – praise.
  5. Offer words of praise that are very specific such as, “it was so awesome when you did … “
  6. Talk openly about them in a positive way around other family and friends.
  7. Always reserve correction to be given privately within your home and not around others.
  8. Create fan signs for your child at their sports games or other activities. And scream their name loudly if appropriate.
  9. Purchase a nice journal for them and write an inspiring message for them on the first page and date it. Words are important for those with this love language so journaling is usually a great activity to encourage.
  10. Create a secret journal that only you and your child know about that you use to write back and forth to each other. This is wonderful for those challenging tween years.

Quality Time

  1. Have a regularly scheduled date day. Could be simple and free like going to the park every Friday. Here are some great FREE ideas! 
  2. Go for a walk alone. Allow them to lead the conversation.
  3. Order a fun subscription box for kids. They are so much fun. My kids are obsessed with these!
  4. Find a way to include them in your work, if you work from home and they’re old enough. Get creative.
  5. Play with your child. Enter their play fort, hide really well in a game of hide-and-seek, and learn how to give their dolls the most stylish do’s for their latest date to the ball.
  6. Create a project together that the whole family can enjoy when it’s done.
  7. Reorganize or rearrange a room together.
  8. Take up a physical activity like running together. You can train together and run marathons throughout the year.
  9. Cook a meal together. Allow them to plan, shop, and prepare it.
  10. Identify a talent, hobby, or sport they love and find a way to get involved. Become a coach, a volunteer, or start your own group.

Gifts

  1. Give unique and meaningful gifts like planting a beautiful tree together in the backyard. Preferably one of their favorites, if possible.
  2. Tap into your inner DIY crafter (get on Pinterest) and find something to make for your child that they can use every day like a jewelry organizer or a nice phone charging station. The fact that you took the time to make something won’t be lost on this child!
  3. Get creative in making gifts for classroom gift-giving seasons like Valentine’s Day. They like giving gifts as much as receiving them.
  4. Give them the gift of quality stationery so they can beautifully express their appreciation for the gifts they receive from others.
  5. Make their gifts an event or experience by coordinating a gift treasure hunt.
  6. Work on a project that allows them to use their talents as gift giving opportunities.
  7. Give them gifts with a deeper meaning or significance such as a piece of jewelry or a personalized journal. And make the packaging thoughtful!
  8. Bring them a personal memento from an interesting place you went that day or from your travels. For example, a cool looking rock or flower. Repay the “look what I found” sentiment we get from them so often.
  9. Buy them personalized items with their name on it. This could be as simple as a dinner plate or cup with their name printed on it but can get more special as they get older.
  10. Create cool spaces for them to store their new gifts or mementos. Like baskets, shadowbox shelves, or cabinets with open spaces.

Acts of Service

  1. Give your child special responsibilities they personally enjoy doing such as cooking, walking the dog, or watering the plants. Allow them to have feedback in the process.
  2. Create opportunities to display random acts of kindness to strangers together.
  3. Offer to be a teacher’s helper in your child’s classroom and allow your child to work as your assistant.
  4. Discuss how you can work with them to use their interests to help others on your street. If they love animals, you can both offer to wash their neighbor’s dog for free together.
  5. Payback their acts of service by doing one of their chores secretly.
  6. Let your child HELP! Even when they roll the shirts up instead of folding them.
  7. Plan simple random acts of kindness just for them.
  8. Take the time to teach. Instead of just “doing” everything, slow down and teach your child how to do something.
  9. Always bring extra to share. If you get a snack in the kitchen put extra on your plate so you can freely share. Or better yet, offer to get them their own plate!
  10. Cook them their favorite “real” breakfast every now and then on a school morning

This is just a list to get your imagination working. As a mom, it’s important for us to take the time to learn how to deliver the message of our love in a way that speaks uniquely to them. No more generic love! 

Do me a favor and put in the comments below what your child’s love language is. My oldest daughter’s is giving gifts, and my middle daughters is physical touch. I’m not yet sure of my toddler’s yet but I’ll keep you posted.

Tell us what love expressions you’re planning next in the comments below! Let’s keep this list going beyond this 50!

 

Does your child "feel" your love every day in a tangible way? It's super easy when you know their love language! Get 50 super simple ways to speak your child's love language every day! #parenting #momadvice #kids #kidsandparenting #parentingtipsKnowing your child's love language is very helpful in being able to show love to your child in a special way every day. These 50 ideas will get you started today! #lovelanguage #kidsandparenting #parenting #momadvice #mom #kidsLove is unique for everyone because we all have a love language. Find out how to speak your child's unique love language today! #lovelanguage #kidsandparenting #parenting #kids #momlife #motherhood These super easy and unique ideas will have you speaking your child's love language everyday and strengthening your relationship in the process! #kidsandparenting #parenting #parentingtips #parenting101

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13 Simple and Fun Activities That Will Bring Your Whole Family Together

spending time with family

Families thrive at their best when they are spending regular quality time together. But spending time with family seems to be on the decline. According to the New York Post, on average most American families are spending 37 minutes a day together as a family.

spending time with family

We can explore all the reasons that contribute to this average, and debate on whether this is too little or too much but the truth is there are a million reasons why families don’t or can’t find the time to come together and enjoy each other as a family on a more frequent basis.

And lack of time isn’t always the clear culprit. There are other factors like having children with a wide age gap that can hinder finding activities that everyone enjoys. Sibling rivalry when doing activities all together can also suck the fun out of family time.

The keys to having family time that’s fun for you, your spouse, and each one of your children are these two things – simplicity and consistency.

Simplicity is best for everyone but especially you. If you feel pressure to plan elaborate family nights and activities you’re likely to get burned out and overwhelmed. And let me let you in on a little secret, kids remember the simplest things not the complicated.

Stick to the very end for a heartwarming reminder of this! Plus, they want a happy mom so stick with simple!

The best thing to do is have a regularly time scheduled each week to come together. I didn’t even say each day! That’s it. What you do during this time can vary from week to week but having a consistent when you do it helps keep everyone accountable.

Is Spending Time with Family Important?

The simple answer to that question is yes. And just to be clear, in this post when I refer to “family time” I’m specifically taking about time together as a whole. Not just mom and the kids or mom and one child doing something together.

And the fact is, for most families having quality time together as one family is challenging to pull off on a daily basis. What about family dinner, you ask? It’s been widely discussed that family dinners are on the sharp decline and while this may be a bad thing, it’s the reality for many families – including mine!

But no one is debating that making quality time for family isn’t important and necessary for connection. In fact, there are many benefits to regular family time such as:

Building a positive self-image in your child. When your children know it’s a priority to you that you spend dedicated time with them every day, they get the message loud and clear that – they matter. There’s a strong correlation between parental involvement and a child’s self-esteem and “internal controls,” which points to a child’s ability to regulate his emotions. Therefore, involved parents equate to happier kids.

Improves family communication through practice. Communicating effectively as a family can be a real challenge but through frequent family time together you get to improve through practicing and finding out what works best for your family.

Creates stronger emotional bonds. Being truly connected to the heart of your child is extremely important to maintaining a healthy relationship that carries them into adulthood. This can only happen through spending time with your child. As the saying goes, in a family love is spelled T.I.M.E.

Family Time Made Simple Checklist

It’s Not About the Time

Before we dive into the simple activities you can easily do as a family, I want to address the issue of time. As in, how much time is enough.

Studies have been done to try and scientifically answer this question but the truth is, it can’t because every family is differnet and has it’s own needs. It’s our job as parents to be looking and listening for what’s possibly lacking and work to meet those needs for our children.

One huge point to remember though is it’s more about quality than quantity as the wise old saying goes. If you as a parent are rushed, unengaged, or bored your kids will feel these negative emotions and will feel rejection so you might as well skip it if you’re not up to it that day. And don’t worry, we’ve ALL been there!

Creating a regular family time should be a priority but never a rigid burden in an already hectic lifestyle or season. And every family is unique and must work within the boundaries of their own family structure. For example, single parents and military spouses who’s spouse is currently deployed are carrying the responsibility of creating family time without the help of another adult.

This can be really challenging and overwhelming if your expectations are too high. If you find yourself in this life season right now, remembering simple is your best asset. If you find your kids are pushing back on big game nights or outings together, just have a movie night or binge watch your favorite shows together.

Just being in the same room together doing something fun is still very powerful for connection versus everyone being tucked away in their own corners of the house! Or begging to leave the house all together! The fact that your kids actually want to hang out with you is a great sign… so take it with joy.

This list of ideas are simple, very simple. My family doesn’t do over-the-top themed activities so you won’t find those here. Just easy ideas that any family can do to start bonding together a little more each week.

13 Fun Activities for Spending Time with Family

  1. Go on a walk together. If you are a fit family (or need to be) this is a great way to laugh, talk, race each other and get out of the house. Oh and burn off some much-needed calories after dinner!
  2. Have a family game night. Game nights aren’t going away and are a really fun way to get silly, competitive, and even forget about lingering family stress. Here’s a list of our favorite Family Board Games. Video games are also fun to play together as a family!
  3. Have a slumber party in the living room. When your kids are still little, camping in the living room feels like an amazing adventure! Add a few forts, AKA tents, and it’s a night to remember!
  4. Cook dinner together. If your family loves cooking and eating food than actually preparing meals together can be a really fun way of connecting and working together. Get one of those meal kits that you order in the mail and follow the recipe together to make it even easier.
  5. Binge watch your favorite family shows on Netflix. Yes, watching TV does count as quality family time. As long as it’s intentional like a series that your whole family loves instead of just mindlessly watching anything that comes on TV.
  6. Instead of going out for ice cream have a sundae at home night. Going out for ice cream be really expensive! Try staying home and making your own sundaes. You can even go the extra mile and bake cookies too. Your kids will love these family nights!
  7. Start a family business. I know this sounds like a big one but starting a small business that centers around a shared passion can be a wonderful way to connect and work together to do something meaningful as a family.
  8. Have weekly family dinners. Sitting down every night as a family for dinner is a challenge for many families including mine. Establishing one night a week when everyone is home as a dinner night can help so much in creating consistency despite hectic schedules.
  9. Watch a movie or make it a marathon. Our family is a HUGE Marvel family and we’ll take any excuse to watch any of our favorite superhero movies on a lazy weekend in our PJ’s.
  10. Go on a road trip. This is probably not one to do as frequently but taking a quick road trip to a nearby town is fun and refreshing especially if you live close to fun attractions.
  11. Volunteer for a cause. Every city has organizations that help those in need. Find a cause that your family cares deeply about and volunteer to help that organization for a time each month.
  12. Do random acts of kindness. Plan simple and fun ways to go out in your community and do nice things. There are tons of fun ideas here.
  13. Do chores together. No seriously! Doing your weekly chores together as a family makes the work go by faster and with a bit of fun like adding silly songs like Raining Tacos (my kids’ favorite) can make the hard work of chores fly by while having fun together.

Final Thoughts on Family Time

Spending time together as a family might hold its own challenges if your spouse travels frequently or is in the military. And if you’re a single parent you may feel overwhelmed with having everything resting on your shoulders and this is just one more thing to put on your mom list.

Please be encouraged by this, children have the tendency to remember the simplest things as the most fun. I can’t remember where I heard this so please forgive me (I think it was on the radio) This woman was telling how her now grown daughter remembered this one particular memory.

Her daughter said it was the most fun thing when her mom made dinner by putting together a plate of snacks like crackers, cheese, and fruit. When her mom heard her daughter’s confession, she couldn’t believe it because she remembered feeling like a bad mom on those nights when she was too tired to cook a real dinner.

Wow! This is so funny because for one, I do this myself and call them “snacky dinner” and my kids love them. Go figure! But also it’s a great reminder that often what we beat ourselves up over not doing enough, our kids feel our actions are just right.

Strengthening your family has never been easier than with these simple ideas for spending time as a family. Your kids won't complain about these ideas! And the best part is they center around simple! #familytime #family #parenting #kidsandparenting #activities
Finding time to spend together as a family can be challenging for busy families. Here are the most simple ways to easily bring your whole family together! #family #kidsandparenting

60 Strong and Cool Baby Names with Powerful Meanings

2018 Strong and cool baby names

I love names and my husband and I took the naming of our three kiddos pretty seriously, but we also had a lot of fun too. Right now strong and cool baby names are very popular, and today’s parents are all about unique! 

2018 Strong and cool baby names

Names are important. When we call someone by a name, that’s the meaning we are assigning to them. In essence, we are calling them a meaning.

Let me say it like this, we wouldn’t want anyone calling our kid stupid, right? First, you wouldn’t believe that was true, but also you don’t want your child hearing over and over that they’re stupid, dumb, or any other negative attribute.


 
On the flip side, we want to speak powerful words and encouragement into the hearts of our children. Let’s say your child’s name is Wisdom or the Greek equivalent, Sophia. I know several children by both of those names and they are beautiful. And each day they are called Wisdom… very powerful!

In the case with my children’s names, we started with the meaning we wanted to speak over our child every day and tirelessly poured over hundreds of names until we found the ones we loved.

In the case of my middle daughter, her name came to me in a dream. I loved how beautiful her name sounded and the meaning fit the description we wanted so that was easy!

In this list, I wanted to offer baby names that sounded fresh and cool but also have strong and powerful meanings. I also purposefully didn’t separate boy names from girl names because parents are switching up names so much these days I wanted to leave that up to you.

These are perfect strong baby names with powerful meanings for 2019!

Want to research more name meanings? Try this free resource. Enter in any name and discover it’s meaning. Related: Popular and trending baby names.

Related: Everything You Need for Your New Baby!

Breastfeeding class

Strong and Cool Names with Powerful Meanings:

Abigail – Joy of the Father

Ace – Number one, the best

Amara – Eternal

Amora – Love

Axel – My Father is Peace

Asher – Blessed and Happy

Aaliyah – Rising

Alessandra – Defender of mankind

Balan – A Knight Of The Round Table

Barke – Barke

Bazyli – King

Callie – Most Beautiful

Caelan – Powerful warrior

Chance – Good Fortune

Creed – Guiding principle; I believe

Dante – Lasting and Enduring

Declan – Full of Goodness

Denzell – Powerful

Edric – power and good fortune

Elliot – Lord is my God.

Esme – Loved

Ethan – Strong and Firm

Faye – Loyalty; confidence

Felix – Happy and Prosperous

Gabriel – Devoted to God; a hero of God

Griffin – Strong Lord

Hannah – Favor; grace of God

Henry – Ruler

Ian – God is gracious

Ida – Hardworking

Jayce – Healer or the lord is salvation

Julian – Father of the Skies

Karson – Christian

Kay – Pure

Levi – Joined in harmony

Lucas – Light-giving; illumination

Milo – Soldier

Mila – People’s Favor

Malik – Sovereign

Noelle – Day of Christ

Noah – Rest, Peace

Owen – Young Warrior

Paisley – Church

Nova – New

Quillion – Crossing Swords

Raine – She is singing; queen.

Reyes – King

Reign – Rule, Sovereign

Reese – Enthusiasm

Reilly – Courageous

Ronin – Well-advised ruler

Salem – Peace

Scout – To listen

Tiara – Crown

Verena – True

Valerio – Strength

Walt – Army Ruler

Xander – Protector of Men

Zale – Sea Strength

Zana – God’s gracious gift

Which baby name is your favorite? Share in the comments below!


These super cool and strong baby names are complete with powerful meanings you can be proud to call your child! #babynames #parenting #parentingtips #kidsandparenting #kidsThese current 2018 cool and strong baby names are fun and have really powerful meanings too! #kidsandparenting #kids #parenting #parenting101 #parentingtipsThese unique baby names are the coolest names complete with strong and inspiring meanings! #babynames #baby #kidsandparenting

Looking for cool baby names with strong meanings? This list is full of only strong baby names with powerful meanings that you'll fall in love with! #babynames #pregnancy #motherhood #babies

Ridiculously Fun Family Board Games You’ve Probably Never Heard Of!

board games for families

There’s nothing like a great game night to bring a family together! Growing up my family had frequent game nights and I honestly remember that they seemed to magically bring us together and reduce any stress lingering in the background.

Board games are a fun and less expensive way to spend time with each other. And if you choose the right game, your family will probably like it better than a day to the movies and your bank account will thank you!

board games for families

I also wanted to share the top games that foster creativity, strategic thinking, and teamwork. I was recently disappointed when shopping for games for my kids over the holidays. There were an abundance of games that didn’t have these great qualities and instead highlighted gross stuff like poop, toilets and anything connected to potty humor, popping pimples, snot, and more disgusting themes.

So if you’re looking for “smarter” games that teach our kids fun and valuable lessons and skills, stay tuned. None of those gross and meaningless games here! Here are tons of great board games for kids that you can quickly order online from Amazon so no more endless searching.

Here are our favorite fun board games for kids that your family will want to play again and again!

Family Time Made Simple Checklist

Board Games for Ages 3-6

Connect 4

This seriously is a favorite in our family. Even my 3-year-old jumps in and plays this game very well. It’s a game of strategy and you have to be paying close attention to your opponent’s moves. Sadly our game recently broke. However, one of my kids ended up getting the latest spinoff version of this game for Christmas this year. It’s totally different from the original but really lots of fun! You can check it out the new Connect 4 here!

Sequence for Kids

This game is just like the highly popular bigger kids game Sequence which is very easy for smaller kids to understand. However, Sequence for Kids is perfect for ages 3-5 and uses pictures of fun and colorful animals to make the game more fun for them.

Quirkle

This board game is very similar to the concept of Scrabble but instead of letters, it uses colorful shape blocks. Players begin with a starting hand of six blocks and take turns placing multiple blocks in a column or in a row in either or all the same color or the same shape. Because of the endless combinations, this game can be played many, many times with lots of fun.

BusyTown’s Eye Found It

This is a really fun game for younger kids but is interesting enough for adults or older siblings to play. Plus, this game fosters a team spirit instead of simply beating your opponent! Using the six-foot game board, kids will work their way to Picnic Island, searching for hidden objects in an I-Spy style challenge. Along the way they’ll have to all work together to solve mysteries before getting to the end.

Ice Cool

This game is a fun learning and dexterity game for kids and winner of the Kinderspiel des Jahres 2017 (Best Children’s Game 2017) award. Kids will work to move their penguins through the school in order to be the first to gather all their fish. Players flick these wobbly cute penguins through halls and corridors while trying to avoid the hall monitor who will end the round.

Hoot Owl Hoot

This is another cooperative game where all team players must work together instead of competing against each other to win. In this fun and colorful game players must help the owls fly back to their nest before the sun comes up. If they are successful everyone wins!

Board Games for Ages 7-12

Sequence

This is a fun game that’s challenging for adults but easy enough for kids to understand and love playing. You just play a card from your hand, and place a chip on a corresponding space on the game board. When you have five in a row, it’s a Sequence. There is also Sequence for Kids if all your kids are very young. It’s perfect for ages 3 and up.

Grandpa Beck’s Cover Your Assets

This is a fun and easy to learn card game that’s really simple for all ages to play. Basically, when you get a matching set of assets, you can lay it down in front of you. But the only way to protect the set from being stolen by a teammate and added to their own stack is to cover it with another matching set. Getting the matching set and protecting your assets is the fun of this card game!

Patchwork

In this fun medieval style puzzle game, kids will work to use their fabric tiles to outdo their opponent in making the best, most beautiful quilt. These quilt pieces are laid out in a circle around the board, and on your turn, you only have access to the next three pieces to purchase and place on your board. This is a game of strategy because the game doesn’t just go back and forth. Some pieces advance you farther along a time track, which then allows your opponent to keep purchasing pieces until he or she passes you.

Forbidden Sky

This game is a cooperative style game which means all players must work together and the game results in either an all-win or an all-lose game. In Forbidden Sky, you work as a team to assemble and connect power sources to launch a rocket ship and get off a floating platform. There are elements such as lightning and wind that try to hinder your work, and you have to team up so that no one gets blown off the platform or gets electrocuted.

Telestrations

This is a fun spin on the old classic telephone game. The twist is where players draw on their own erasable sketchbook the “secret word.” The timer gets turned and everyone draws their word. After 60 seconds, everyone passes their book to the player on their left. Then each player takes a few seconds to guess in words(s) what they see, and passes again. This continues until everyone’s sketch book passes by every player and returns back to its original owner, where it’s time for The Big Reveal.

Suspend

This isn’t exactly a board game but my kids discovered it at a party and they loved it. It’s basically a building and balancing game where kids work to delicately hang and balance the notched, rubber-tipped wire pieces from the tabletop stand. With each added piece, the balance shifts and the sculpture transforms. One misplaced piece or wrong move could send it all crashing down! 

Board Games for Ages 13 and Up

Code Names

This is a perfect game for older kids, teens, and even adults. The game works with two rival spymasters who know the secret identities of 25 agents. Their teammates know the agents only by their Codenames. Each Spymaster gives one-word clues to his or her teammates in order for them to pick the right clue. If teams pick the wrong clue, which are cards laid out on the table, they might accidentally uncover a clue for the opposing team or worse, pick the assassin, thereby ending the game.

The Resistance

This is a game that requires at least 5 players, so it’s a perfect party games. Some players will be resistance members (good guys) who need to complete missions to topple the evil government. Others will be spies sent to infiltrate the missions and make sure they fail. The spies are required to lie about their identity and all know who each other are, but the good guys are in the dark. The good guys have to figure out who the spies are and eliminate them from the missions in order to succeed, while the spies pretend to be good guys so they can continue their sabotage.

7 Wonders

This game is a great strategy game played as the leader of one of the great 7 cities of the ancient world. You must carefully gather resources, develop commercial routes, and affirm your military supremacy. The game is set in 3 different ages and each game runs approximately 30 minutes. By the time the third age is over, players score the points given by their cards and their military conflicts. The winner is the player with the most points.

Catan

This is a fun and fantastic strategy game but the complicated rules can mean this game is much harder for younger children. Once you fully understand the game rules (requires a bit of time) the game is highly addictive. Many people who’ve played this game find it can be slow, but to speed up the time and the fun, simply use the “expansion pack”, which allows all players to trade and build at the end of EACH turn, instead of waiting for your OWN turn to do so. This shortens game time substantially (45 minutes instead of 60-90) and makes it much more exciting.

Coup (The Dystopian Universe)

This game is easy to play with very fast paced rounds, and lots of fun bluffing make this game perfect for teens. The game works like this, the cards you hold in your hand determine your abilities: how many coins you can earn each round, whether you can steal cards, whether you can kill another player. Of course, the other players don’t know which cards you hold, so you could always do a little “acting.” And hope no one calls your bluff, or you’re the one who will end up dead.

Board Games for the Whole Family

Pandemic

This game is a hugely popular cooperative game which is honestly refreshing from always playing highly competitive games with your family. Pandemic is a really fun apocalyptic game that gets your family working together to stop the spread of diseases to save the world. This is an all-win or all-lose type of game so at the end of the game everyone feels connected and accomplished whether or not you win or lose.

Drop It Family Strategy Game

This is a fun game that’s enjoyed by both players and those watching! This game can be played by individuals or teams and is pretty much appropriate for all ages groups. The game works when players drop shapes into the vertical game board. They earn points for the highest level that their shape reaches when it lands and extra points for touching bonus circles. But be careful: Don’t break a landing rule! The shape you dropped is not allowed to touch matching shapes or colors after it lands. The winner is the player or team with the most points at the end.

Blokus

This game gets voted the easiest to learn for all ages and is really fun for everyone. The premise is all your 21 Tetris style pieces need to be placed carefully on the board but can only touch at the corners. The object of the game is to put as many of your shapes down as possible while blocking other players from putting down their pieces.  The game is fun and fast, usually around 30 minutes a game.

Exploding Kittens

This wildly popular game with the funny name is fun and simple enough for even younger kids to understand and exciting enough to keep your teens loving the fun. The play is simple: don’t be the one to draw an exploding kitten card, unless you happen to have a defuse card. All the other cards help you avoid an exploding kitten, or even give it to someone else. Game play is fast and unpredictable, meaning every game is different.

What’s Yours Like?

This game is similar to the concept of the hugely popular game Catch Phrase. Except that all the players (except the one in the hot seat) know what the guess word is (i.e. jacket). Everyone takes turns describing what theirs is like: “mine is warm” or “mine keeps me dry” or “I’m reminded it’s not summer every time I put mine on.” Games are fun and fast and are perfect for family game night!

Looking for fun and addictive family board games? These are the best board games your family will not want to stop playing on your next family game night. And you probably have never heard of most of them! #boardgames #familytime
These fun board games are the perfect games for families. And the list is broken down by ages and one all-together family list! Your kids won't want to stop playing! #boardgames #familytime #parenting

The Best Mother’s Day Inexpensive Gift Ideas Kids can Easily Buy for Mom!

Inexpensive Mother's Day Gifts

Mother’s Day is a day I choose to take full advantage of every single year. I get showered with kisses, hugs, and snuggles all day – plus I don’t have housework of ANY kind!

What I also love about Mother’s Day is the thoughtful gifts I get from my kiddos each year. Some years they make something special, some years we do something fun, and others they save their money and buy me something creative.

Inexpensive Mother's Day Gifts

I never matters what I get, I’ll treasure each one of my gifts.

This post is meant to help all the dads and family out there who want to help your kids give the best meaningful gifts on Mother’s Day. And moms, it’s perfectly OK to leave this post open on your hubby’s computer! A super sutble hint. 😉

Each gift idea is under $20 but most are half that! If you’re looking to go the homemade route, here are some DIY Mother’s Day gift ideas.

Cheap Mother’s Day Gifts From Kids

Butterfly SunCatcher

Always My Friend Necklace

ArtNaturals Bath Bomb Gift Set

What I Love About Mom Love Journal

Funny Bring Me Coffee Socks

Pretty Love Mom Bracelet

The Seaweed Bath Co. Whole Seaweed Detox Bath 

Mother Daughter Silver Key Chain

Mother Son Necklace

Rose Gold Mom Bookmark

Beautiful Essential Oils Diffuser Bracelet

Just Between Us: Mother & Daughter: A No-Stress, No-Rules Journal 

Amazing Books Mom Will Love for Mother’s Day

Mom Up: Thriving with Grace in the Chaos of Motherhood

Cat and Nat’s Mom Truths: Embarrassing Stories and Brutally Honest Advice on the Extremely Real Struggle of Motherhood

Mom Set Free: Find Relief from the Pressure to Get It All Right

Becoming MomStrong Bible Study: A Six-Week Journey to Discover Your God-Given Calling

Pressing Pause: 100 Quiet Moments for Moms to Meet with Jesus

This Is Motherhood: A Motherly Collection of Reflections + Practices

Looking for ideas for mother's day gifts from kids? This list is full of awesome and inexpensive Mother's Day gift ideas kids can buy for mom and Mom will love! #mothersday #gifts #momlife

17 Super Easy and Adorable Easter Crafts to do With Your Kids

Easter crafts for kids (1)

There’s no better way to spend fun time with your kids and celebrate the holidays than to do some fun and adorable crafts. And this Easter these cute craft ideas will be fun for everyone.

I can never get enough adorable little chicks, bunnies, and egg crafts. I also can’t leave out crafts that teach the real reason for Easter – the resurrection of Jesus Christ so I’ve included a bunch of religious themed Easter crafts too!

Here’s a list of some common supplies you’ll need:

  • Pom-Poms
  • Craft Sticks
  • Pastel Craft Paint
  • Paper Plates
  • Toilet paper rolls
  • paper egg cartons

Fun Easter Crafts to do With Your Kids

Doing crafts with your kids is a fun way to spend together celebrating the holidays. These cute ideas are such fun Easter crafts to do with your Kids. #easter #crafts #craftsforkids #activities

9 Surprising Things That Happen After Giving Birth That’ll Totally Shock You

surprising things that happen after giving birth

The postpartum period a woman endures after giving birth is almost as traumatic as the birth itself. Sorry to say, but it’s true for most women.

There are things that happened after giving birth that I never expected until I was there in the hospital watching them happen. I remember feeling hurt and confused (physically and emotionally) because no matter how much googling I did on labor and childbirth… I wasn’t prepared.

surprising things that happen after giving birth

That’s why I’m writing this post… so you’ll be ready. And you won’t have to feel mad at all your other mom friends who didn’t have the heart to tell you.

Let me warn you, if you’re squeamish be prepared now. Childbirth isn’t pretty… it’s actually downright disgusting. I mean, the circle of life part is beautiful but everything else is gross.

Surprising Things That Happen After Giving Birth

I’m simply going to go down the list of what’s mostly likely or could happen to you in the order that it’s most likely to happen.

Every woman’s body is different and I’m sure there have been new moms and will be one’s that don’t experience each of these lovely experiences. Just be ready and know that you’re not alone, even if it feels like you are because no one ever seems to want to talk about them.

You Give Birth a Second Time

If you have a vaginal delivery, after you finally push that giant (no matter their actual size!) baby out of you, you’ll quickly realize that your labor experience isn’t over.

While you’re still all tears and joy holding your new baby on your chest and thanking God it’s all over, you’re told it’s time to deliver the placenta. The wha-what?

I felt shocked and a little dumb that I didn’t know this and so I had to give a couple very small pushes to help deliver the placenta. Yikes.

After it’s delivered the doctor will fully examine it (I recommend you go back to staring at your baby now) to be sure it’s completely in tact.

There’s a small chance if the placenta isn’t delivered intact that the mom could be in danger of hemorrhage or infection.

It’s Time for the Stitches

If you’re like me and most women who deliver their babies vaginally, you’ll probably need stitches from tearing your perineum while pushing. Ouch! I know, the thought makes you cringe.

Honestly, I did not earn my batch of courage for not tearing in childbirth and have to say it is certainly not the worst part of giving birth. My first birth experience was pretty traumatic, so this wasn’t even on my radar.

So getting stitched up is par for the course and it’s pretty quick and I don’t remember any pain during the procedure. If you’d like to minimize your chances of tearing read this for some great tips.

And here are the best tips I could find on how to take care of your perineum after birth.

The Bleeding, Oh the Bleeding

I never, ever imagined how much blood would be coming out of my body right away and in the days after giving birth. As a woman who’s experienced a rather heavy period every month for years and years before having kids, I assumed it would be a similar experience.

In fact, I really didn’t even know that I was supposed to be bleeding like the heaviest period I’d ever had in my life! I was shocked when I was given these giant mesh panties because I had no idea what was coming. You’ll love to use these ones instead!

I literally was afraid that I was hemoraiging all the time. I knew this was a possibiliy but wasn’t the case. However, these are the hidden signs you might be hemorraging after birth. This is very serious and a close friend of mine almost died from a postpartum hemmorage.

In a normal postpartum experience, the bleeding is very heavy at first and will begin to taper off each day until you are discharged. The full course of the bleeding will most likely continue up to a few weeks. If your bleeding suddenly becomes much heavier or bright red, seek medical attention right away.

It’s Time for a Very Unpleasant Massage

I think we’d all agree that a relaxing massage after giving birth is a great idea, but that’s sadly not the kind of massage you’ll get! A nurse will, at some point early after giving birth, will come in your room to give you a fundal massage.

This is where your nurse will push and press on your uterus to encourage it to contract fully the way it’s supposed to. This helps along the uterus in it’s natural process of contracting back into it’s pre-baby size. That’s not a bad thing at all!

It also helps to reduce exessive blood loss too. And as we said, you’re already losing enough! The only drawback here it that you’re contracting… as in contractions. It really doesn’t feel great, but you get the gist.

Your Baby Needs to Eat Too

Whether you decide to do the breast crawl, try to breastfeed your baby right after the nurse lays her on your chest, or wait a bit after her bath. That part is your choice and also based on whether those things are even possible due to complications.

In any case, your baby will need to eat! That means while you’re knee-deep in all this birth-chaos, you have a hungry baby to feed. Breastfeeding your new baby is extremely challenging for most new moms. I know it was for me!

My biggest tip is to ask for help from the resident lactation consultant. They are usually so, so helpful and can get you and your new baby off to a great start with breastfeeding. Do NOT suffer alone if you are having problems.

Also, know that your breastmilk doesn’t come in right away, and what your baby will be drinking following birth is actually colostrum. This is a thinker and extremely nutrient dense milk that your baby needs to help them grow strong and healthy. Your breastmilk will actually come in after a few days postpartum.

The Cramps, Oh the Cramps

Not only are you bleeding like you’re on the biggest period of your life, you will be cramping like it too! It sucks and taking Ibuprofen is safe even if you’re breastfeeding.

Just like with your period, the cramps will ease as the bleeding does so you have to let things run it’s course.

Cuddling that sweet baby honestly does seem to work like a natural pain reliever though! Or at least that’s how I remember it.

It’s Like Potty Training All Over Again

After you give birth you all of a sudden become deathly afraid of both your first pee and first poo after birth for obvious reasons.

As a result of fearing to pee many new moms secretly reduce their water intake. Do NOT do this! It makes your pee more concentrated causing it to sting more. Ouch! It can also encourage constipation which you do not want right now!!

Using a peri-bottle to spray warm water down there as you pee is very, very helpful. This peri-bottle is way better than the one they give you at the hospital!

As for having your first postpartum BM, you’ll need to do it as your ticket to going home. Make sure to take your stool softener as directed by your doctor which sure helps things along.

The key is to reduce your anxiety and take it slow… very slow.

If you’ve developed hemorrhoids from pushing, you can use a topical cream like this one. It helps to reduce the swelling and pain from that area and make it easier for you to go.

Get Ready to Sweat

With your body retaining so much fluid during your entire pregnancy, your body needs to release that fluid somehow. And since you won’t lose it all during childbirth, much of that fluid will come out in night sweats.

I remember waking up that first night with a soaking wet gown. I didn’t understand what was happening at the time, but now I know it’s all part of the magic of birth.

It could take up to 8 weeks for your body’s fluid levels to get back to normal.

Belly Be NOT Gone!

Finally, one of the most disappointing and shocking parts to my first birth experience is the fact that when you leave the hospital, you basically still look pregnant! Seriously?

I was very thin my first pregnancy and not a soul told me to be prepared to walk out of the hospital looking like I did when I walked in. This really was heartbreaking for me because I bought a new “going home outfit” for myself which was a pair of size small pink sweatpants and a slim tank top.

I know, I know weird choice but that was almost 13 years ago and I was in my twenties. I literally looked terrible and even split a hole in my pants putting them on! Talk about emotional scarring.

My best advice is to bring clothes that are very soft, stretchy, and comfortable. Trust me, the last thing on your to-do list after giving birth is looking stylish.

Final Thoughts

The postpartum period is very painful, stressful, and exhausting for mothers. Don’t try to go faster than your body will allow. Take it slow and give yourself the grace and time to recover completely.

And make your total focus adjusting to motherhood and loving that precious new gift!

These are the surprising things that happen after giving birth that you wish someone told you! Get the 9 Shocking things that happen after labor. #pregnancy #babies #parenting
Want to really know what happens after labor? Learn 9 surprising things that happen after giving birth that will totally shock you! #pregnancy #babies #motherhood #parenting

60 Fun Questions to Ask Your Kids to Get Them to Open Up and Share Their Heart

Tired of your kids clamming up? Try these questions to get your kids to open up and get to know your child's heart. #parenting #kidsandparenting #parentingtips #parenting101 #momlife

No matter how naturally talkative your child is, it seems the older they get the less they share… with their parents, that is. It used to be that every day was an adventure they couldn’t wait to tell you all about when they got jumped in the car after school.

But now, you’re met with the all-encompassing “good” when asked how their day was. The problem isn’t with your child and their ability to pour their heart out to you or their lack of desire to share. It’s all about the questions being asked.

Tired of your kids clamming up? Try these questions to get your kids to open up and get to know your child's heart. #parenting #kidsandparenting #parentingtips #parenting101 #momlife

Asking the right questions is one of the most powerful positive parenting tools we have as moms. In fact, if we spent more time asking questions instead of lecturing and telling our kids how they need to think and behave we’d learn so much about our kids.

Here are 7 tips to help you ask questions in the most effective way.

Fun Questions to Ask Kids

Kids, and especially teenagers, require you to find the combination of words asked in just the right way to get your kids to open up and share their heart. It’s sometimes like completing a riddle at the end of a level in a video game.

I’m not sure why this is the case, but it seems to be so for most parents. And if it isn’t, you’ve probably already cracked the code!

Here are some fun questions to get to know your kids at different times of the day. For example, after school, after they attend a party or sleepover or a play date, after church service, and just plain fun questions to ask anytime to get the conversation flowing and get to know your child’s heart!

You’d be surprised how many things can happen in a day and our children don’t always know how to communicate their fears, their victories, and their questions. That’s why these questions are super helpful!

I’ve categorized them in sections so you can easily refer to them again and again!

You’ll be surprised how easily these questions will get the conversation going and how quickly you’ll get to know your growing child. Have fun!

Questions to Ask Your Kids About School

1. What was the funniest part of your day?

2. What was something you did today that made you feel brave?

3. What was something that happened today that made you feel scared or alone?

4. How did you help someone today?

5. Tell me one thing that made you feel smart?

6. What new fact did you learn today?

7. What challenged you at school today?

8. If you could be the teacher tomorrow, how would you do things?

9. Does anyone in your class have a hard time following the rules?

10. How does that make you feel?

11. Who do you want to make friends with that you haven’t already?

12. What subject is the hardest for you?

13. What subject is the easiest for you?

14. If you could stop doing anything in your school day, what would it be?

15. If you could add anything to your school day, what would it be?

16. Are there times in your when you feel left out?

17. Do you ever feel like someone at school is a bully to you or anyone else?

18. What is the most popular thing to do at recess?

19. How would you rate your day on a scale of 1 to 10? Why?

20. If anyone in the world could be your teacher for a day who would it be?

Questions to Ask Your Kids After a Play Date

21. What was the most fun thing you did at the party/sleepover/play date?

22. What was something you did that was helpful?

23. What did you eat for lunch/lunch/snack?

24. If there were ever a zombie apocalypse, which one of your friends would survive?

25. What was the funniest thing that happened?

26. Was there ever a time when you felt afraid or alone?

27. Did anyone upset you? How?

28. If you could have your own party, who would you invite?

29. Were they kids at the party who you aren’t friends with?

30. Did you meet a new friend?

Questions to Ask Your Kids After Church Service

31. What was the silliest thing that happened at church?

32. Was there anyone who came to service for the first time?

33. How did you make that person feel welcome?

34. What was something you learned for the first time?

35. Do you remember the memory verse, and what does it mean to you?

36. Did you make a new friend today? What was their name?

37. If you could teach your service next Sunday, how would you do it?

38. What will you do differently after today?

39. What’s one thing I can help you remember or talk more about this week?

40. What’s one thing that made sense to you today about God/bible/church?

Questions to Ask Kids to Get to Know Them

41. If you could create a new planet what would you name it, and what would it be like?

42. If you could change your name, what would you name yourself? Why?

43. If you were given a million dollars and had to spend it all in one week, what would you buy?

44. What’s your favorite thing to daydream about?

45. What’s your biggest dream that you wish would come true?

46. What have your friends been up to lately?

47. How do you show people you care about them?

48. What does it mean to show love?

49. What is one place you want to travel to one day?

50. If you could change anything about your family what would it be?

51. If you could change anything about your life what would it be?

52. If you could change any of rules of this world which ones would you change?

53. Where would you want to go on vacation if we could leave right now?

54. If you could create a new Crayola color, what would if look like and what would you name it?

55. What’s the best book you’ve ever read?

56. If you had your own motto, what would it be?

57. If you could have dinner with anyone who would it be?

58. If you could go on vacation anywhere, where would you go?

59. If you could live on your own private island but could only take 5 things, what would they be?

60. Describe the house you want to live in when you’re a grown-up.

Do you have some favorite questions to ask your kids to get them to open up? Please share them in the comments below!

Tired of your kids clamming up? Try these questions to get your kids to open up and get to know your child's heart. #parenting #kidsandparenting #parentingtips #parenting101 #momlifeIf you really want to get to know your child's heart, try asking the right questions. These questions are guaranteed to get your kids talking and having fun! #kidsandparenting #parenting #parentingtips #parenting101 #momlife #kidsThese super fun questions to ask your kids will keep the fun and conversation going! Perfect for young kids and older teens too! #kidsandparenting #parenting #parentingtips #momlife

Really want to get your kids to share their heart with you? Try asking these fun questions to get to know your kids. These questions to ask kids to get to know them are sure to keep the conversations going! #kidsandparenting #parenting #kids

7 Reassuring Newborn Tips for the Tired and Anxious New Mom

Newborn tips for new moms

I firmly believe that God intended for a full nine months for babies to grow to full term before birth. It could have just as easily been three or even six months, but moms need a full nine months to fully prepare for what’s coming… a little human.

A precious little human that will be totally dependent on its parents for every single thing they need! A newborn’s first few days and months can be extremely overwhelming for new parents.

Newborn tips for new moms

This is the case for newborns that don’t have any issues or challenges but for moms with babies that have conditions like colic or reflux it can be downright scary.

My son had severe reflux and later suffered from obstructive sleep apnea that required surgery. I remember the sleepless nights all too well.

If you’re a first time mom who is exhausted and anxious that you might make a mistake along the way, take a breath and know that you will. I know you probably weren’t expecting that answer but it’s true. All parents make mistakes!

These are the best newborn tips for new moms that will give you more confidence in your newest motherhood journey! These are the perfect newborn tips for tired new moms from some amazing mothers and I wanted to share them with you.

Here are also some helpful tips on the best baby essentials you need, how to get started with breastfeeding your newborn and increase your breastmilk supply.

How to Avoid Day-Night Confusion in Your Newborn

Getting your newborn on some level of a sleep schedule can be challenging even for seasoned parents. However, the first step to getting your new baby to sleep through the night is avoiding day-night confusion. Here’s Rachel’s tip from A Mom Far From Home:

The best way to establish day night rituals is to be consistent. During the day you’ll want to make sure your baby is awake to feed, then purposefully try to avoid fully feeding them to sleep.

Read the full post here!

The Best Way to Dress Your Newborn in the Cold Months

One of the most frustrating things for new moms is trying to dress their tiny newborn in the winter months. And when it’s time to leave the house, it can be totally exhausting. The trick is using layers to keep your baby warm and cozy while still being able to get them into their carseat safely. JD from Semi-Delicate Balance gives her best hack:

You can’t put thick jackets or chunky sweaters on your baby and then put the car seatbelt over them. It’s best to put them in a long sleeve or a thinner jacket. Then just turn the thick jacket around, and then slip it over their arms.

Read the full post here!

The Easy and Safest Way to Swaddle Your Newborn

It’s a known fact that most newborns loved to be swaddled as it mimics the constant cradling they experienced every moment of their time in the womb. Some babies don’t need to be swaddled or don’t even like it. If that’s the case, don’t bother. If they do, here’s a tip for swaddling your baby safely from Uplifting Mayhem:

For the healthy development of the hips, babies’ legs need to be able to bend up and out at the hips. Swaddling for short periods of time is likely fine, but if your baby is going to spend a significant amount of the day and night swaddled, consider using a swaddling sleep sack that lets the legs move. 

Read the Full Steps to Swaddling here!

How to Beat the Baby Bath Time Blues

I’m not sure if this is true of all newborns but all three of my brand new babies hated their first baths. I think the new experience can be a sensory overload so making this process as warm, quiet, and as comfortable as possible goes a long way. Here’s a great tip from Swaddles N Bottles to make this happen:

Babies take comfort in having an extra towel or light baby blanket placed on top of them. Only remove the blanket as needed to wash each part. After you are done washing the baby, place baby in towel (baby will be slippery!) and swaddle up.

Get all the tips here!

Understanding Your Newborn’s Hunger Ques

Many moms prefer to feed their newborns on demand versus on a feeding schedule. There are many benefits to feeding your baby on demand, but there are also many concerns such as knowing if your baby is getting enough and how to know when your newborn is really hungry.

Stork Mama shares this helpful graphic to Pin that shows each of the different signs of hunger in your newborn. Also, read the full post about on-demand feeding here.

How to Not Panic if Your Newborn Gets Sick

It can be terrifying when your new baby gets sick. I know it was for me when my 4 week old daughter had an ear infection and a fever of 102 at 3 in the morning! This was a huge shock because my oldest daughter didn’t even get a cold until she was over a year old. Here is a helpful tip from Mastering Mom Life for monitoring your baby while she’s sick:

Jot down when you noticed symptoms, when you administered medicine, took steam baths, and when baby naps or does anything out of the ordinary. This can help you look back and see progress, be a reference when baby gets sick again, or help you remember symptom times and dates when you take baby to the doctor.

Get all the tips here!

The Best Way to Handle Visitors After Birth

Whether you have family and friends visit you and your new baby in the hospital or after you get home, these tips can really help reduce your stress and anxiety. The most important thing to remember is you and your new baby’s needs always come first. Heather with Very Anxious Mommy shows us a great way to handle this:

Some visitors just may not know when it’s time to hit the road, especially when there is a new baby to see. So try to have an out for when you are ready to say goodbye to visitors so that you can have alone time and rest. A few ideas may be, “I need to breastfeed now, so I will see you later”, or “I am really tired so I need to take a nap.”

Read all the tips here!

Final Thoughts

Just remember that every mom has been a first time mom at one point and all of us felt unsure of the decisions and choices we made for our new baby every day.

Take comfort that you aren’t alone and you already are an amazing mom!

These comforting newborn tips for anxious new moms will help tired first time and experienced moms get answers to their biggest newborn questions. #babies #newborn #parenting
Bring home a new baby brings with it tons of anxiety and exhaustion. These are the absolute best newborn tips for new moms. These newborn tips for anxious new moms will reassure you that you're doing just fine! #babies #newborn #pregnancy #momlife