Parenting Resource

Why RIE?

A guest post by Betsy Smith

Betsy blogs about respectful parenting and homeschooling her two children (ages 2.5 and 4) at www.bugandbabygirl.com and chronicles some of their many adventures on Instagram at @bug.and.babygirl

Before I had ever heard of Magda Gerber or Janet Lansbury, my son demanded to be a RIE baby.

No one told me to expect a baby who was so decidedly his own person. But, from the day he was born, it was undeniable that my son had his own ideas and preferences, his own likes and dislikes… which, as a scared and exhausted first time mom, seemed to boil down to disliking everything and liking to cry any time he was awake! But the more I paid attention, the more I noticed he was consistently calmed by being laid down on his back to wiggle and look around, by being spoken to conversationally about what we were doing, and simply by being outside. He didn’t want to sit in a swing. He didn’t want gadgets, gizmos, and entertainment; he wanted connection, respect, and freedom.

He wanted this crazy, new world to slow down long enough for him to take it all in. He wanted me to stop worrying about what I was supposed to do with a baby all day and just put him on a blanket beneath a tree so he could gnaw on his hands and watch the light peeking through the leaves.

It went against everything I had been taught about parenting, but I started to listen. I started to do less and trust more. I started to follow rather than blindly lead.

When I discovered RIE, shortly before my son’s first birthday, I wanted to exclaim, “This is it!! This is what you’ve been trying to tell me!” It was so affirming to find an entire philosophy that supported the choices that he had pointed me toward. And the discovery couldn’t have come at a better time: right at the onset of the toddler stage, when the RIE emphasis on consistent, respectful limit setting has transformed a notoriously “terrible” phase of development into one that I absolutely delight in, and in advance of the arrival of my second, allowing me to implement the fundamentals of RIE from birth with her.

There are plenty of sources for a more informed and articulate overview of the principles of RIE than I could provide, so rather than fumble through an amateur answer to the question, “What is RIE?,”  I would rather tell you why RIEwhat about this style resonated with me as a first — and then a second — time mom and why it has worked so well for our family.

1. The notion that babies are whole people

I once had a woman, toting an infant carseat, chase me down in the parking lot of Target and say, “I just wanted to tell you that I love how you talk to your kids like people.” I wish I could say this was an isolated incident, but the frequency with which strangers feel compelled to comment on how I speak to my children “like people” makes me want to ask, “How else I would talk to them?!”

It has made me realize how countercultural this perspective I’ve come to take for granted – that babies are people – truly is. In the mainstream parenting world, we refer to our babies as “blobs.” We give them kisses that they pull away from. We swoop in and pick them up when they are intently focused on something, without a word and without the slightest reservation about what we might be interrupting. We talk about them (and even about older children) in front of them as if they aren’t there. We dismiss their feelings and their ideas. In those, and countless other ways, we treat babies like we would never treat other people. Certainly not people we respect or care for.

2. The belief that children – even babies – deserve respect 

At my baby shower, I was given a pacifier that said NO WHINING. The uproar of laughter it elicited from the group made me uncomfortable in a way that I wasn’t yet able to put my finger on.

That feeling was my gateway to RIE; that nagging sense that this baby deserved more respect than our culture had tried to make me believe.

I do my damnedest to treat everyone I encounter with respect. Why wouldn’t I treat my own child that way?

It isn’t as if it’s terribly radical. It simply means that I speak to and with my children rather than at and about them. I acknowledge their feelings and preferences (even when I can’t or won’t accommodate them). I do my best leave them undisturbed when they are focused on an activity. I say “please” and “thank you.” I give them the benefit of the doubt. And, in general, I treat them how I would like to be treated.

3. The reminder to trust 

This is a scary one… or at least it can be for me! Parenting has become as competitive as anything else in our culture and it is hard to ignore the “earlier is better” messages that we are bombarded with at every turn, to let go of the temptation to compare our babies to others, and, instead, just trust. Trust that they are capable; that they know themselves; and that they will walk, talk, and learn their ABCs when they are ready.

We have convinced ourselves that our babies can learn only what we teach, ignoring completely the curiosity, ability, and drive to make sense of the world that they all come to us with. Trust asks us to give that back to them, to let go of the race to be first, to take a backseat and wait for them to show us what they are working on and what, if any, support they need.

4. The view of children as capable 

At our old house, we had a steep driveway that my son would run up and down nearly as soon as he could walk. Neighbors used to marvel at his balance and coordination, asking how I taught him to navigate the incline.

I didn’t teach him, I told them. I just let him do it.

We do our children a disservice when we default to assuming they can’t do things, or that they can only do them with our help. Children are capable of so much when they’re given opportunities to try…and opportunities to try again when they don’t get it “right” the first time!

My children are confident that they have the ability to master new skills because their experience and my attitude have affirmed that. They are also extraordinary helpers because I’ve never questioned whether they are capable of putting their own clothes in the hamper, cleaning up toys, carrying in groceries, or wiping up spills!

5. The role of limit setting 

There is a common misconception that respectful parenting is permissive. It isn’t. I would go as far as to argue that permissive parenting is disrespectful because it ignores a child’s desire (or, frankly, his need) to make sense of the world around him, something that becomes nearly impossible without predictability and limits.

The way this looks different in RIE than it does in mainstream parenting is that I don’t just set limits and expect my children to follow them. I set limits and I take on the responsibility of enforcing them. This allows me to hold limits from a place or guidance rather than one of judgment, frustration, or anger. This also means that, when a limit isn’t followed, I don’t heap blame on my child; I examine what I could be doing differently to better support and set him up for success.

It means, instead of saying, “Don’t you dare throw that ball in the house,” and then doling out a punishment when my toddler can’t stop himself, saying, “I can’t let you throw the ball inside,” then actually not letting him by calmly taking the ball and, whenever possible, honoring the impulse with, “Let’s go play ball in the yard.”

6. The value placed on observation 

There seems to be this expectation that mothers will instantly “know” our children when they are born; who they are, what they need, and how best to love them. That is a charming idea, I suppose, except that I don’t think I truly know anything that I haven’t taken the time to study. When I care about something, I want to learn everything I can. And that doesn’t happen by magic; it happens by asking questions, listening, and observing.

Sure, there are plenty of resources out there that tell us what most babies are like. But I’m not the mother of most babies. I am the mother of two. And the only way to learn who these two people are is to go to the source.

7. The space for natural gross motor development

Demanding ownership of his gross motor development by refusing to be propped, sat, and walked is probably the way that my son most clearly pointed me to RIE.

Even at five and six months, when so many babies love being propped up to sit, he would immediately throw himself back down and get up on his hands and knees. He had been “ahead” on every other milestone and (what felt like) the whole world seemed worried that he wasn’t sitting. Our pediatrician was adamant that I “teach” him but, even before discovering RIE, I didn’t feel right putting him in a position he so forcefully rejected, so I shrugged my shoulders and told her he seemed more interested in figuring out how to crawl.

And, sure enough, he sat up completely on his own within days of crawling…just like his baby sister did a year and a half later.

Once he could stand and cruise, well-meaning family and friends tried to take him by the hands and walk him but, every time, my RIE-hearted baby withdrew his hands. When they persisted, he sat, insisting in the only way he knew how that he would do it himself when he was ready…which, of course, he did.

After having that experience with my son and after trusting my second, from birth, to own her gross motor development, nothing seems more natural. Why on earth wouldn’t we trust our babies to know what their bodies are ready to do? Why wouldn’t we give them the confidence that comes from discovering, not only that they can sit, crawl, stand, and walk, but that they can do it on their own?

8. The importance of independent play 
This can be a particularly difficult idea for parents to wrap their heads around. We are told that we have to entertain our babies, that we have to stimulate their brains at all times, that boredom is a danger and stillness is the enemy of development. The notion that you would just lay a baby down on a blanket with one or two simple toys and say, “I’ll be right in the kitchen if you need me,” feels tantamount to saying, “I don’t care about my child’s development.”

But it simply isn’t the case!

I have been amazed at how they will entertain themselves, and would even as babies. Allowing them to play independently isn’t just not neglecting them; it’s actually serving them in so many ways. It communicates that their ideas and their pursuits are important and worthy if time. It allows them to focus on a task without distractions. It affirms that I see them as capable individuals.

9. The ability to be an ally 

This is not strictly one of the tenets of RIE, but has been a byproduct of the philosophy for our family. Instead of feeling like I am at odds with my children, with our desires or agendas in opposition, the foundation of trust and respect that our relationship is built upon allows me to be on their team even when we disagree. It allows me to discipline from a place of compassion and connection. I take seriously my responsibility to guide and teach my children, and RIE has made it possible for me to do those things as their ally rather than their adversary.

RIE has been a gift to our family in so many way, but this one is, perhaps, the greatest.

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5 Tips for Paying a Nanny When She Travels with a Family

Summer is coming up fast which mean families will be traveling with their nanny on vacation. Confusion may arise on how to properly pay the nanny for her time and accommodations. Here are 5 tips for paying a nanny when she travels with a family.  

Talk about expectations before the trip. The nanny is going with the family for a reason – to watch their kids. A vacation probably throws her normal schedule off quite a bit.  It’s important that both parties go over the itinerary of the trip in advance. She needs to know what times of the day she’ll likely work, any activities that are planned for the kids, and when she can expect to have free time of her own.

Airfare, meals and hotel are paid by the family. A nanny is a household employee. If she’s required to travel with the family, they must pay for her airfare, food and hotel accommodations. It’s essentially the same thing as a business trip.

Know when she’s on and off the clock. This can be confusing for some families because the worksite isn’t their home. The nanny is on the clock for the time she is traveling and any other time she is not able to come and go as she pleases. This even includes time spent sitting on a lounge chair by the pool watching the kids with a lemonade in her hand.

Don’t forget about overtime. While the family is on vacation, it’s important to keep track of the nanny’s hours in case overtime needs to be accounted for. Nannies are paid overtime for all hours worked over 9 in a day and/or 40 in a week. Also, a nanny’s hours can’t roll over to the next week to avoid overtime. That’s a violation of federal labor law and can get the family in trouble.

Make sure the nanny has some time off. This is vacation for the family, but it isn’t for the nanny. She’s still working and needs a break every now and then. Families should plan to let their nanny be on her own for a few hours and take their kids on several family-only activities. This will this give the nanny some time to recharge her batteries and do something that interests her.

We know that keeping track of hours and remembering some of these labor laws may be difficult while trying to focus on having fun on vacation. If you need a timesheet, help with determining on-the-clock versus off-the-clock hours, or getting an idea of what your nanny’s pay may be during an upcoming vacation, HomePay is here to help!  Just reach out to us at  (888) 273-3356 or visit us online at www.myhomepay.com.

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The Impact of Technology on Our Children

One might find it hard to believe that Steve Jobs, who once ran Apple, had limits when it came to his own children using technology. In fact, you might expect his house to look more like The Jetsons in the 21st century; touch screens used to turn the lights on and off, unlock doors, and prepare dinner. But the truth is, Steve Jobs is not alone. Many technology CEO’s and executives strictly limit their children’s screen time, often banning them on school nights. We ask ourselves, what is the impact of technology on our children?

Today, children as young as two years old, spend more than two and a half hours a day watching television, and using smartphones, computers, and other electronic devices. But, at what cost? How will all of this screen time effect their health, ability to focus for long periods of time, and socialize and talk to their peers?

What are appropriate boundaries? How much is too much, and when are too many limits going to have adverse effects on our children?   We wish someone would give us the answer.

While there is no clear cut solution, there are plenty of studies that have shown that excessive media can lead to attention problems, difficulties in school, sleep concerns, and obesity. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that screen time should be avoided entirely for infants and children under age 2.

We spoke with our client Sarah who stated it wasn’t until her son started school, that she noticed the overwhelming exposure other children had to electronics.  Suddenly, children were coming over for playdates asking to play on the iPad rather than building forts, playing sports, or being outside. Conversations were no longer about Legos and Matchbox cars, rather about Minecraft and Xbox games.

Sarah admits that at some point she convinced herself that allowing her son to play “educational games” was appropriate. iPads were being introduced in the classroom and he was expected to login and practice math and computer skills at home.  Schools and administrators were convincing parents and students that they needed to get children to use iPads and computers at an earlier age to keep up with their peers.   That somehow, parents who limited electronics were putting their children at a disadvantage.

“I can’t speak for all parents, but intuitively I know that I want to limit my son’s exposure to electronics and video games.   It’s not a black and white decision, but in our house, there is a time and a place for it. For example; we never choose electronics over reading, hanging out with friends, or being active.   No electronics at dinner time, during playdates, or before bed.   Electronics are not used outside of the home, to keep him quiet, or to fight boredom. Electronics are reserved for the weekends, with the exception of school work. Our weekdays are filled with homework, martial arts, piano lessons, playdates, reading, and having face to face conversations about our daily activities,” she said.   Sarah continued, “I notice that when I get lazy, or make exceptions to our limited technology rule, my son’s behavior changes.   He becomes more defiant, demonstrates meltdowns and temper tantrums, and ultimately craves more screen time. Therefore, it’s really important for me to be aware of how much screen time Braden is getting in any given week. I have to remember to be present and consciously aware, and make sure that I provide him with real experiences, as well as be a role model of what healthy use of technology looks like.   What this means is that each day I take the time to unplug and just be a mom.   And guess what? The world still goes on without me.”

Educated Nannies wants to know how often your children spend on technology each week? Do you restrict electronics on school nights? How much is too much or does it matter to you? What do you think is the impact of technology on our children?

 

  • photo credit : Family Matters blog
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Individualized Education Program

Halle_Award2As parents of children with special needs, we constantly think about the future of our children. We hope they will grow into socially-adjusted and confident adults. We worry about how our precious children will fare in school when they have developmental delays or other disabilities. It can all be overwhelming, but it’s nice to know that there are educational resources designed to set them up for success. An Individualized Education Program is one resource that is extremely helpful for children with special needs.

What is an Individualized Education Program?

A federal law called the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) requires public schools to create an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for every child who receives special education services. The purpose of an IEP is to provide a blueprint, specific to the needs or your child, to make sure he or she has everything needed to perform to the best of his or her academic abilities. Sometimes this includes help in a small group, one-on-one instruction, help outside the classroom, etc. An IEP takes into consideration that not every child learns in the same way. For example, some children may have extreme difficulty understanding oral directions but may thrive when given written instructions. Or a child with a visual impairment may need to sit closer to the front of a classroom or be given additional time to take standardized tests in order to reach their full academic potential.

By law an IEP must include a statement of: your child’s present performance level, your child’s annual educational goals, special education supports and services the school will provide to help your child reach their academic goals, modifications and accommodations the school will provide for your child, accommodations your child will be allowed when taking standardized tests, how and when the school will measure your child’s progress with respect to annual goals, and a transition plan that prepares teens for life after high school.

It is important to note that private schools aren’t legally required to provide special education services, however IDEA requires that school districts set aside some funding for special education services for students in private schools. If your child is in private school you have the option of asking the public school district to evaluate your child for special education services at no cost to you. If your child’s private school agrees to work with the district, a “services plan” (often with fewer services than the child would receive in public school) can be developed to help your child academically. **

Who initiates an IEP?

Parents, teachers, a counselor, a doctor, or anyone else who suspects a child is struggling or may struggle to learn general education curriculum can request an evaluation. After the initial evaluation a determination is made about whether special services are needed.

Who creates an IEP? How often is it reviewed?

If it is determined that special services are needed, an IEP is created by a team of individuals including general education teachers, at least one special education teacher, a school administrator (i.e. principal or special education director), school psychologist or other specialist, and you (the parent). (You are an extremely important member of your child’s IEP team because of your valuable insight, observations, and concerns about your child.) When a child is 16, he or she is also expected to become a member of the IEP team. The team discusses your child’s strengths, necessary support from the school, and the progress he or she is expected to make along the school year. Since an IEP is a legally binding document, your child’s school must provide everything it promises in it.

The IEP team meets once a year to discuss your child’s progress. During the annual meeting you discuss: your child’s strengths, your concerns and suggestions to help in areas where they are struggling, whether modifications and accommodations are helping, and the results of your child’s most recent evaluation. Based on what the team discusses, the team leader will write a “statement about your child’s recent level of academic and functional performance and goals.” The team leader will also document changes to the IEP that the team agrees upon for the following academic school year.

What are some additional resources for parents?

We encourage you to visit the LAUSD website http://achieve.lausd.net/Page/2270 for more information about IEPs and the steps to take if you feel your child needs one.

Another wonderful resource is https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/special-services/ieps/understanding-individualized-education-programs#item8

If you are looking to hire an Educated Nanny who has experience with special needs and IEP’s, we are happy to help! Please give us a call at (310) 857–4985 so we can get started on a search for the perfect nanny for your family.

Resource: https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/special-services/ieps/understanding-individualized-education-programs#item8

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Educated Nannies Award

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Educated Nannies Receives 2015 Los Angeles Award

Los Angeles Award Program Honors the Achievement

LOS ANGELES November 18, 2015 — Educated Nannies has been selected for the 2015 Los Angeles Award in the Child Care Agency category by the Los Angeles Award Program.

Each year, the Los Angeles Award Program identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Los Angeles area a great place to live, work and play.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2015 Los Angeles Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Los Angeles Award Program and data provided by third parties.

The Los Angeles Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the Los Angeles area. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.

The Los Angeles Award Program was established to recognize the best of local businesses in our community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to recognize the small business community’s contributions to the U.S. economy.

SOURCE: Los Angeles Award Program

 

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Educated Nannies Award

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Mother’s Day Gifts For New Moms

Mother’s Day is this weekend! Last year, we blogged about all the fun ways to show mom your love and appreciation for all of the hard work, passion and dedication she gives, each and every day with activities and crafts. Click here to read more!

This year, we were inducted into the Motherhood Club! Therefore, we wanted to add some other simple yet great ways to put a smile on a new mommy’s face.

A hot uninterrupted shower: Yes, it is wonderful to place my sweet son in the bouncer and stare at him as I let the warm water rush over my tired body, but it’s not so much fun, when the smiles turn to screams. Let’s just say there’s been too many times of jumping out of the shower and drying off soap to tend to tears. Ahhhhh… shaving my legs sounds like heaven right about now. Thirty minutes of shower time alone would be lovely.

Wash, dry and fold the baby laundry: These tiny clothes are just too adorable, but they are even more adorable when someone else has sprayed them with stain remover, placed them in the washer, dried them, and folded them. Bonus points if you put them away in the correct place and/or hang them in the closet. Extra love if you do the grown up laundry too 🙂

A full night’s sleep: These words are music to a new mommy’s ears! Heck, I think most moms will take 5 hours of sleep. Yes, those sweet baby breaths are charming at 4 am, but so is doing a soft pillow dance. Dad… here is where you can look like a hero! Wake up with the baby, soothe the baby, and feed the baby. If mom has to pump while you feed the baby a bottle, please put the baby back to bed and wash all of mom’s pumping supplies so she wakes up to a clean environment. Oh happy days!

Quality time: Life is busy and it feels even busier in Los Angeles when both parents are working. Please carve out some time to catch up about all the pleasures in life. Listen to mom when she tells you how great being a mother is, and all the wonderful things you missed this week in her life. Being a mother is really the best job in the world! Tell mom you love her. Send her to the Dry Bar to get a blow out. Book her an appointment to get a manicure. Pour her a glass of wine, and massage her feet. Okay, maybe that’s pushing it, but you get the picture. Pamper the mommy!

 Wishing you and your loved ones a very Happy Mother’s Day!

Warmly,

Educated Nannies

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Educated Care

Questions for an Educated Nanny:

What are your thoughts on discipline? What is your preferred parenting style?

“These are hard questions to answer. I’ve been working with children of all ages for 36 years and “one style” of parenting does not “fit all” children. I have seen many different styles of parenting used to raise children during this time.

Discipline does not necessarily mean punishment. The challenges and pressures of our children today are very different from past generations. Rules regarding discipline may change more frequently and should be situation and age appropriate. A young baby learns very quickly when they do something to upset us. It’s how we respond that matters.

I was raised by two parents in a very happy home. Yes, we had all the normal problems of a family and the teenage years were a little tough on my parents, but generally I realize now that I was very, very lucky. We did things as a family at the weekend, and had great vacations in the summer together. I feel my parents prepared us to embrace our freedom and responsibilities at the appropriate ages. The reason I’ve mentioned this is because as a nanny I’ve always tried to use my own up-bringing to help me raise other people’s children.

I believe in love, guidance, fairness, a flexible schedule and boundaries that help children develop a feeling of security and self-reliance. Becoming self-reliant helps them to make good choices when given the opportunity. They need to learn right from wrong from an early age, have respect for themselves and others, and have empathy for their fellow peers. We need to communicate with babies from birth for them to understand the world around them and introduce them to new things before they really need to master them. We do this by understanding their needs before they do and reading their actions and behavior. Children should be allowed to make their own decisions for certain things. By doing this they have a feeling of pride and this builds good self-esteem.

Having a positive attitude towards your child’s behavior is half the battle! Let them know what’s expected of them in different situations-when to be quiet, when to be loud and run free, how to behave at the grocery store or the mall. If they know the rules, it’s easier to re-enforce them when needed.

I do need to add that most of these methods seem to fly out the window during the teenage years (Think back to when you were a teenager) Teenagers just can’t help the way they behave most of the time. We just need to be there for them, even if the communication styles change. Texting your teenager is so much easier, and you may actually get a response!

You realize when they go to college they really did listen to what you said during all those years while they were growing up. They just don’t want to admit it quite yet-that comes later as they mature.

I hope this gives you an idea of how I have worked with children during my career as a nanny. I love being with children of all ages. They are the next generation and we need to prepare them the best we can for the future.”

-Catherine Glover, Professional Career Nanny

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Celebrate Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! This is a great opportunity to show all those in your life just how much you care for them and appreciate all that they do. Check out our simple yet creative tips for spreading love this Valentine’s Day!

Leave notes: This week, leave simple notes in unexpected places for those in your life. Add a special message of “I am so proud of you” in the kids’ lunch boxes. Leave a post it message on the mirror for your partner, thanking them for all their hard work. A little love and appreciation goes a long way!

Practice consideration: Be mindful of your actions to all those whom you encounter this week. Practice showing consideration, not only to those who you have close relationships with, but also the other mom at the grocery store, or the other nanny at the playground. Remember, children mimic our actions, words and tone. Let’s give them a loving and considerate example to follow!

 Card creation station: Lay out all of the kids’ favorite arts and craft supplies and have a card creating session with the entire family. Have each individual present their cards at the end of the session and explain what is significant about each card.

 Heartfelt treats: See how many heart shaped treats you can come up with this week. Make pancakes in the shape of a heart and add heart shaped strawberries to go on top! Cut the kids’ sandwiches in the shape of a heart and surprise them at lunchtime. Let the creativity flow and let the kids chime in with ideas to surprise one another!

Last but not least, surround yourself with love: Spend some quality time with those you love this Valentine’s Day. Have family far away? Set up a Skype date, so the entire family can feel close to one another!

What are some of your favorite Valentine’s Day activities? We would love to hear! Upload photos of your fun activities to Instagram and tag @educatednannies in your photos. Let’s all spread the love this Valentine’s Day!

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New Year? New Rituals!

Twenty-fifteen is here which means one thing: out with the old and in with the new! Kick off the New Year with some new, healthy and fun rituals for the whole family to enjoy together.

Set “big picture” goals with small “stepping stone” goals: Setting big goals can feel overwhelming for everyone, but that is no reason to give up on big dreams! Ask each member of the family what they would like to achieve this year. Brainstorm some small “stepping stone” goals to achieve each week, that lead to the “big picture” goals. Take inventory at the end of each week. Were the stepping stone goals achieved? Were there any challenges faced or overcome? Is everyone moving forward towards the big picture goals? Why or why not?

Healthy meal planning and menus: We all know that routine can get boring, and this especially applies to our taste buds. Use this time of year to revamp the family’s menus. Do you want the family to try healthier meals or expand their palates? Plan an afternoon to bring the kids to the farmers market. Let them taste some of the fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables, and allow them to pick out some items to bring home. Set two afternoons a week aside for meal prepping. Prep healthy and easy “go-to” snacks for the family, and stash them in the fridge. Planning ahead will set everyone up for success in making healthier choices throughout the week.

Get your activity on: Explore fun new activities in the area with the family! Plan a hike in the hills, or bike cruise along the beach. Perhaps a trip to the mountains to take in some sledding and snow is the ticket. Los Angeles truly does have something for everyone! On a daily basis, try to start or end the day with an activity. This one small change can lead to better stress management, focus and quality sleep!

Schedule in quality R&R: With schedules jam packed, this one can be tough! Before the week begins, pick a non-negotiable day (or part of a day, if that is more realistic) for family rest and relaxation. Let the kids linger in their PJ’s and put chores and homework on hold for this special time. When we work hard all week it is OK to let ourselves unwind!

Gratitude: It’s easy to focus on all that we wish to change in the New Year, but please remember to take time to think back on all that was achieved in 2014. Did you get to go on any great trips or adventures? Did the kids have any breakthroughs at school, in sports, or at extracurricular activities? Were new friends made, or old relationships re-established? Focusing on acceptance and gratitude will allow you to cherish all that 2015 has to offer. Enjoy!

*photo credit: First & Little

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Teaching Children Compassion, Caring and Gratitude

As adults, we teach children in all aspects of life. We guide them in their first steps and words; later, we help instill healthy habits such as brushing teeth and eating a well balanced diet. This holiday season, we invite you to help guide the children in another aspect of life by teaching compassion, caring and gratitude.

Be present and honor commitments – With the passing of each year, life finds a way to move even faster than years prior! Calendars are jam packed with commitments and technology seems to have a partial hold of our attention at all times. Use this time of year to reprioritize the calendar. Schedule things that really matter first, such a family meals, activities and events. Make these commitments non-negotiable for all. Turn off the technology and honor those close to you by giving them your undivided attention during these special times.

Model the gratitude attitude – Children observe our every action and interaction. For this reason, it is important to model the gratitude attitude with others, even when the busyness of the holiday season is in full swing. Treat the children in your life the way you would like them to treat you. Use “please” and “thank you” not only with your children, but also with others around you. Acknowledge the children when they pitch in or help out. Teach the children how to write “thank you” cards at a young age. If they are too young to actually write a special note, have them draw a creative picture for those who have done something nice or caring for them.

Create a family Gratitude Tree – This is a fun activity that the entire family will love! All you need are small pebbles, a vase, a few small branches, colorful construction paper, string, markers, scissors and a hole puncher. Place the branches in the vase and fill the bottom of the vase with the pebbles so the branches stay in place. Cut out different shapes with construction paper; punch a hole through the top and loop string through the hole. Once you have created the tree and tags, have each member of the family write something they are thankful for on a tag and hang it from the tree. Add to the tree every day or week, depending of the size of the tree. Once the holiday season is over, pull the strings from the tags and fasten them together with a metal fastener to create a small “Gratitude Book” for the family to cherish for years to come!

Update or create a chore chart – Update or create a chore chart that includes tasks that properly represent or challenge all of the children. As children grow older, their ability to pitch in also develops. Have the little ones help out by setting the table and pitching in with clean up, ask the older ones to help with the meal by completing a supervised and fun food preparation task, such as helping with a dessert or salad. By contributing to the family and pitching in, starting at a young age, children will begin to understand effort, handwork and the importance of teamwork.

Play the “High, Low, High” game – When you sit down for a family meal, go around the table and play the “High, Low, High” game. Have each person start by saying one “high” for the day, something that they are happy about or grateful for. Next, have them say a “low” or something that was difficult or challenging for them during the day. Lastly, end with another “high.” This is a great way to get the family to share about their day together.

Give thanks by giving your time as a family – Choose a charity that the entire family can dedicate time to this holiday season. Help out at a soup kitchen or dedicate an afternoon to wrapping gifts for a toy drive. Giving to others, who may not have as much as they do, not only teaches children about the world around them, but also helps them feel grateful for the things that they do have in their lives.

We at Educated Nannies are so grateful for you. Wishing you and your loved ones a Happy Thanksgiving!

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