Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Is Sibling Rivalry Damaging to Your Kids' Health?

Many families experience sibling rivalry, and a recent study shows it's more than just a pain for the parents. It is actually detrimental to kids. According to researchers at Penn State, "Negative sibling relationships are strongly linked to aggressive, anti-social, and delinquent behavior." The study also finds positive sibling relationships lead to success in many other aspects of life like academic success.

 The study examined the effects of an afterschool program that helped improve sibling relationships. Researchers used interactive games and activities to teach positive communication and problem-solving skills to sibling pairs. Lead researcher Mark Feinberg found that, compared to the control group, the children involved in the program showed more self-control, social confidence, and stronger academic performances.

The researchers suggest that parents help their kids learn to solve problems and communicate effectively with one another. The bottom line is siblings should look at each other as teammates rather than as competitors. If you're looking for ways to encourage this sort of relationship between your children, consider these ideas.

Read the entire article >>>

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Merry Fluffy Christmas Giveaway: $200 Cloth Diaper Starter Stash

This is your chance to win an amazing cloth diaper starter stash! Treat yourself or a loved one to $200 worth of cloth diapering supplies this holiday season. Good luck and Merry Fluffy Christmas!

Welcome to the annual giveaway frenzy known as Merry Fluffy Christmas!!! This event runs one week. Be sure to come back every day for extra entries. Follow the linky below to find other great giveaways.

This giveaway is made possible by the wonderful and generous sponsors below, who will make someone's cloth diaper dreams come true. Package includes 8 cloth diapers, 6 wool dryer balls, cloth wipes and wipes solution, enough to get you started on the road to saving the planet and your baby's bottom :) Click HERE to read all product reviews.

Enter on the Rafflecopter form below. Be honest and only click 'done' on those entries you have fully completed. GOOD LUCK and Merry Fluffy Christmas.

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Disclaimer: That Parenting Thing is not responsible for sponsor prize fulfillment.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Family Traditions to Start Before Christmas

Tradition was a huge part of my Christmas experience growing up. On Christmas Eve, we always went to Mass at the same time, ate the same menu at the same aunt's house, opened our Secret Santa gifts using the same system, and went home in our new Christmas jammies - another tradition. My brother and I always say Christmas Eve is our favorite day of the year. There is such much fun and festivity, but the magic of Christmas Day still lies ahead.

On Christmas morning, we'd get up and wait for everyone to see the tree at the same time. We'd eat coffee cake and take turns opening presents, Christmas music softly playing in the background.

Even better than just our Christmas Eve and Day traditions were those that led up to the big event. Stretching the holiday out over the course of weeks adds to the anticipation and joy. Here are some ideas I came up with for traditions to start before Christmas. Do you have any others to add to the list?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Baby's First Christmas: What I'll Miss As She Grows

I recently asked my Facebook friends what they already miss about their kids' holiday behavior now that they've grown or, if their kids are younger, what they think they'll miss. Here are the responses I got:

"My son setting up his stuffed animals, sitting in his baby bathtub (the sleigh) with his Santa hat from North Pole NY and singing rudolph in a clear beautiful soprano."

"This is the first year my children no longer believe in Santa. I feel like a huge piece of their childhood has died!"

"The joy that comes with believing. I look forward to that in the upcoming years, and I will miss it greatly when she's grown."

"Everything... shopping for baby dolls, reading Christmas stories, baking cookies, watching the Christmas shows, watching the girls scan the ads and Toys R Us catalogs to write their lists, the church Christmas play, helping them shop for their Grandparents & their Dad, being woken up at 3, then 4, then finally giving in and getting up at 5am to open their gifts."

"The belief in Santa and the sheer excitement."

"The magic... It's impossible to put it into words but everything seems more magical with children."

"I'll just miss being with them all the time. The crafts, the smiles. Family is so beautiful."

"Getting up at 3am, hearing the ooohs & ahhhs that Santa came."

These inspired my latest article. Even though my baby was only six weeks old for her first Christmas, there are still things I will miss!

Read the article here >>>

What would you add to this list?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Bloggers Wanted: $200 Giveaway with FREE participation option!

ATTENTION BLOGGERS! Don't miss your chance to jump on board for this free blogger giveaway event for a $200 cloth diaper & accessory stash hosted by Mama Papa Barn.

There are 2 options to join: You get TWO links with a post promoting the blogger sign-ups. OR you get THREE links (facebook, twitter & pinterest) by sending $5 (as a gift) to icy_princess@msn.com through paypal.

In return for adding your links to the giveaway, you agree to post on time as well as promote throughout.

The giveaway will be open to US and Canadian residents starting December 1, 2012. Click HERE to sign up!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Making Money from Home as a Mom

For many families, it's ideal to have one parent stay at home with the kids during the day while the other goes off to work. But in today's economy, it's often difficult to make ends meet with only one parent bringing in a paycheck. Heck, even for dual-income families such as my own, having a little extra bank account buffer relieves a lot of financial stress. Maybe that's why it seems that lots of moms I know have found a way to make money from home without sacrificing time with their kids during the day. Here are three ways my mom friends have learned to bring their talents to the bank and make money from home.


Everyone has some area of expertise to share with others. From education to technology, getting paid to write blog posts or online articles can be a lucrative way to make money from home. While I use advertising and networking to make a few bucks from my basic blog, my main source of income from writing is by publishing for Yahoo! Contributor Network. I receive upfront payment and cash-per-click for the articles I publish. As a working mom, this is something I do after my baby goes to bed, and I have made $200-300 from home during the months that I commit to publishing 6-7 times per week.

Read the full article >>>

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Mommy's Life Lessons #1: The Public Restroom

Photo by Mr. T in DC (Flickr)
Dear Baby Girl:

Right now, you have the world's most convenient (although probably least hygienic and altogether ickiest) way to relieve yourself, but it's not always going to be this way. One day, you'll learn to use the little potty, and then the big potty, in the privacy of our own home.

But the day will come when you'll feel that urge and realize you aren't within convenient range of the nice, clean, pristine (don't call me out here) toilet in our bathroom. Instead, you'll have to lock yourself in a little cubicle where lots of other people do their business on a daily basis. It's not scary. I promise.

Try not to think too hard about what this means in terms of things like germs and bacteria. Mommy got over those things long ago. Germs are everywhere and you just have to deal. There is something else at stake here: your privacy. Not that you have any right now because you just go wherever you want to whenever you want to, but as you get older, you'll start to appreciate that you get to do your business with a fan and locked door between you and anyone who's within earshot.

And so, here are some tips I have collected for the times when you have to use the not-scary-I-promise public restroom, from my years of (ahem-un)pleasant experiences.

1. Poop happens. I know you know that, since I have to deal with yours on a regular basis. But cut the other ladies in the restroom some slack. If you think the lady next to you isn't feeling quite comfortable with the idea that what she's up to is normal and natural, there are a couple of ways you can help her out. "Accidentally" flush the toilet in your stall. Get done with your business as quickly as you can. Make lots and lots of noise rustling around in your purse for something. Maybe even change your mind and use the restroom another time.

2. Everything above applies to when you realize you're like some people and are completely embarrassed to go #2 with anyone else in the room. I know someone who sometimes walks into a restroom, sees someone else is in one of the stalls, realizes she "forgot" something, and walks right back out again. Clever, right?

3. If you walk into the restroom and realize someone you know is in there and you want to avoid being the lady in situation #1, remember that it's totally acceptable to have walked into a bathroom in order to wash your hands. I'm sure people do it all the time on purpose.

4. Never, under any circumstances, try to make conversation with the lady in the stall next to you, even if you're friends. I don't care what guys say about how we have to "do things in pairs." That's just awkward for everybody.

5. And finally, this one is common courtesy and not even based on privacy. Never occupy the stall that's meant for people who are handicapped. I don't care how badly you need to go or how much you want the extra space or how desperately you want to avoid sitting directly next to another person. The day you step out and realize someone in a wheelchair is waiting to use the restroom, you will hear me saying "I told you so" in your head.

And so, BG, these are your Public Restroom Commandments. I hope that you will be one of those people who just believes the "everybody poops" thing and doesn't care what other people think. Not a person who's so anxious that she begins unzipping her fly as she makes a beeline to the stall just to get everything over as quickly as possible. Not that I know anyone like that.


Monday, September 10, 2012

3 Reasons We Plan to Have a Second Baby

Even before I became a mother, I'd never thought of having only one child. My husband and I each grew up with three siblings, so I'm not sure it ever crossed our minds to be a "one and done" couple. Now, don't get me wrong. There are days - such as when our ten-month-old is acting particularly clingy, seems to have forgotten how to sleep at night, or is effectively breaking our belongings and budget - when we look at each other sideways and ask, "Are you sure you want a second baby?" But when it comes down to it, the answer is always a resounding yes. And here are three reasons why.

Siblings teach important lessons

As the oldest of four kids, I learned a lot of important lessons by virtue of having siblings. I learned about sharing toys, attention, and space. I learned about looking out for someone other than myself. I learned how to manage jealousy. I wasn't always happy or gracious about having siblings, but the experiences I had as part of a large family planted seeds that helped me out later in life. I hope that by having a second baby, our daughter will build character and learn lessons that will guide her in future relationships.

Read the full article >>>

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

No Gift Opening at Kids' Birthday Parties: Preposterous or Brilliant?

I recently spent an exorbitant amount of time at a department store, trying to pick out the right gift for a five-year-old boy. My husband, baby daughter, and I had been invited to his birthday party as friends of the family. My thought process was comical. Would he be excited to open this? Would his mom be upset if I got him that? Did he already have this toy? The conversation went on and on, while the patient friend I'd brought shopping humored me.

No Gift Opening: The Experience of a Party Guest

That weekend, we arrived at the party, carefully selected gift in hand. This was a destination party, held at The Little Gym. After playtime, games, and birthday cake, the designated end time of the party arrived. But we'd yet to open the gifts.

"Are we opening gifts here?" I asked my husband. He answered that the gifts had already been packed away. I was incredulous. A birthday party with no gift-unwrapping ceremony? The idea seemed preposterous. Isn't that the whole point of a kids' birthday party? How would I know what the birthday boy's reaction would be to our gift? I couldn't help but be overwhelmed by disappointment as we left the party.

Read the full article >>>

Monday, August 27, 2012

Family-Friendly Labor Day Activities with a Frugal Twist

 Labor Day is the perfect time for families to hang out and have fun while summer is still upon us. But it's not always easy on the family budget to have a big Labor Day adventure. If you're looking for a family-friendly activity that doesn't cost an arm and a leg, consider these traditional activities with a frugal twist.

Backyard Barbecue with a Frugal Twist
My husband and I love to have people over for a cookout in our backyard, but it can get costly to provide food for a bunch of people. Instead, have a themed potluck and ask your guests to bring their favorite summer dish. Or try hosting a somewhat less expensive Labor Day meal: breakfast.

Shopping Trip with a Frugal Twist
What one word is synonymous with Labor Day? Shopping. But sometimes, even sale prices are a little hard on the budget. Instead of going out and shopping, try coordinating a Labor Day clothes exchange for your kids. Have each kid bring along a couple of outfits or accessories they're willing to part with. The kids will get new-to-them outfits to wear, a lesson in sharing, and some time to socialize. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Our Favorite Baby Tunes on Pandora

We're developing quite the Pandora station for our baby. I actually don't mind having it on pretty much all day every day. Here are some of our favorite tunes that often show up in the queue:

  • All kinds of Disney music. I wouldn't even mind if it was all Disney all the time, but I suppose variety is the spice of life. We hear a lot from Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and The Little Mermaid.
  • Oldies. We get some awesome tunes like "My Girl" and "Sugar, Sugar" that come up in the queue every once in a while. They're so fun to dance to! Some of the lyrics are a little sketchy, but I figure the happy music will get us by until the baby understands the words.
  • Classic kids songs. We hear lots of songs that were near and dear to our hearts when we were little, so it's fun to resurrect them and share them with our little one. We get to hear them with new ears, too. For example, I had absolutely no clue how political Schoolhouse Rock could be, as in "Tyrannosaurus Debt." Raffi comes on a lot, and we learned that he actually has it out for my husband and me. In the song "Willoughby Wallaby Woo" he says an elephant sits on both "Jennie" and "Joel." In the same sentence. Those are my husband's and my names. Coincidence?
  • New kids songs from musicians we had no idea did kids songs. Like... Barenaked Ladies. And Jack Johnson. Did you have any idea these folks put out kids songs? It's so fun to hear them in another light.
There are so many more choices, too, like songs from musicals, Muppets songs, and even the Beatles. We may be having more fun listening to Pandora with our baby than she is...

Read more about why we love Pandora in my latest article.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Printable Infant Care Chart

As a new mom, I felt completely overwhelmed until I created an infant care chart. I used one on my own to help me get to know my baby, establish a routine, and identify any concerns. Then I was able to pass my infant care chart along to my full-time babysitter so that she could help me keep track of my daughter's schedule and development. We used the infant care chart to document the baby's feedings, diaper changes, naps, and (before she started crawling) tummy time, and we only just gave up using it when she turned nine months old. (And, to be honest, I miss it sometimes!)

Here's a copy of our chart so that you can use it or adapt it for your own needs.