Tag: Guest Writer

3 Must Have Gifts To Get Your Kids Right Now!!!

By: Grace Cross, Editor of The Baby Spot

Twitter

Originally Posted Here

As I walked with my four year old down a busy city street in the sweltering heat, I stopped momentarily to grab my key out of my purse so I was prepared to unlock a building door. As I reached for the front glass door, an elderly gentleman beat me to it, opened the door for both myself and my daughter.

“Thank you!” I said with a smile. I hear my daughter’s tiny voice echo her thank yous.

“You’re welcome.” He said smiling back and headed out the door and down the busy street. I love to open the door for people and I am grateful when anyone takes time out of their day to open the door for me. I don’t expect anything said to me when I open the door for someone, if it puts a smile on your face to have the door opened for you then that is great. If I don’t get a thank you, no worries, I wanted to open it for you and that is that. In retrospect, I am grateful when someone does a nice little deed for me. It reminds me that the strangers around us are too, three dimensional who think, feel and are going through things in their life whether it be good or bad.

I like people.

But then I looked down at my daughter. I have spoken to waiters and people in service who are shocked at how today’s youth does not use manners. How many children interrupt or swear at their parents when a service individual has briefly taken their parent’s attention to do their job. Basic manners are not mandatory and definitely not mandated by any law in any country that I am aware of. However, it makes all of our lives a little easier.

As human beings, we are a social creature, but little ‘isms’ and human nuances can get on everyone’s nerves. I get it. I’ve been there. Someone not yielding to the right on an escalator for the quicker walkers to walk passed you is social suicide in some cities. Loud talkers in some countries are considered the norm, whereas in my city and in others, it’s considered extremely rude for everyone to have to hear your conversation. In an age where we are blessed to live with different people, cultures and ideas, we can get on each other’s nerves. We can misunderstand and misinterpret each other. There are literally some cultures who shake their heads from side to side meaning ‘no’ and other cultures that shake their head from side to side meaning ‘yes!’ The confusion and naivetés of one another can cause conflict and therefore can make the world a bit of a more challenging place to live in.

So before the keyboard warriors come out and tell us how I and everyone else can do it better, stop! I have three gifts that you can buy your children or even buy yourself that with a simple investment, will make your life easier. With a very unprofessional and uncertified rating system, I will give you a cost break down and an approximate amount of time for every gift to be properly consumed.

The best part of this is, I don’t even have to provide backlinks to any of these gifts because they’re right in front of you. So, put your credit cards down.

Thankfulness

Beyond the screams of a child in a toy store of the sighs of a preteen because Mom or Dad did not let them buy “this cool app, look, it’s only $3.99” is thankfulness. We can’t blame our children. They come from an instantaneous gratification society, a society that gives them information at their fingertips. I am not advocating for this to be taken away, oh no, I think technology is great for the most part. But when we live in a society where we have advertisements telling us we want something, then your children may see a little snippet on the news, of a Syrian family narrowly avoiding death, of a shooting nearby or something that humanizes them that makes them think “well, this did not happen to me, this does not happen here.” The feelings of life start to flood in, but are immediately interrupted from that text of a friend, a new advertisement or another distraction. Before we ask our children to “Be helpers” as Fred Rogers from Mr. Rogers Neighborhood so eloquently put it, we need to remind our children in an age where it seems everyone gets everything right away, to be thankful.

The best way to teach your children, in my humble opinion is to lead by example. No one wants every outing, every experience to be some lesson or lecture. But when a parent shows thankfulness in front of their children, “I am thankful I got home twenty minutes early today and I was not caught in traffic.” “Just got back from the doctors kids, I am thankful for that clean bill of health.” A child starts to hear that behavior and mimic it. Being thankful for a gift, to live in a safe area, to have a loving family is a wonderful seed to plant. A child must be thankful for what the opportunities they have before they can provide opportunities for others.

To add, saying “Thank you” to others, like people who hold the door for your family, serve you in restaurants or in retail settings, deserves a thank you from you and your children if they were kind and attentive.

The greatest thing about thankfulness is you can start when they are infants. Yes, a parent even speaking to their child is soothing. You can introduce this at any age and I promise, it will help shape your children and also keep you in check in a world that can sometimes seem cruel.

Final Cost: 0

Time: About 5 to 10 seconds for each thankful thought.

1 Minute relaying thoughts to others.

Understanding

Understanding can be a tricky one. I am in no means asking you to teach your children to let every bully walk over them “maybe he or she has a hard life and that is why they punch you in the face every day after school, dear.” Or “this person is trying to get me fired from work but maybe they need to feed their family more than I need to feed mine.” That is not the understanding I am advocating for. Protect yourself!

The understanding I am asking for is for your children to function with others who do not think like them. We have this new opportunity where the whole word is connected, a whole world that has opinions, many of them different from their own. I have traveled a bit over the course of my life and created this global parenting magazine on two premises, celebrating the similarities and embracing the differences of parenting practices worldwide. The whole “we are all the same” movement is nice and all and as a people we do share some amazing similarities in both genetics and thought processes, but it is silly and almost ignorant to ignore the vast differences from culture, people and society. Those differences, though foreign to some, are interesting, beautiful and quite frankly, I prefer it. I prefer my thought processes to be challenged and questioned. It either teaches me something new or helps me reform my original opinion to be stronger. As long as the learning process is healthy, I am all for it.

We must teach our children understanding. People have different needs. We have some children who recognize certain religious practices during the day. In retrospect, we have children who require certain understanding. There are children who are religious, not religious, have different ways of thinking or perception like children with autism. The point is, we think differently and we perceive the world differently. We need to understand each other and learn about different types of people.

So what does that mean? Perhaps enrolling your children in a language class, to have a second language under their belt. It’s a new opportunity for your children to learn about a new culture and make new friends speaking their second language. It could be volunteering at a homeless shelter, so your children can interact with people who live differently than themselves. It could also mean having your children meet other children outside of their regular circles, volunteering at a reading program or if extra time is tight, reading about a new country, culture or religion every night for ten minutes. You don’t have to have your degree or be an expert in a subject to get a sense of understanding.

My mom for a short period of my childhood would grab one of her encyclopedia’s, (yes, the book ones not the ones online) and read us a little snippet of a country, culture or place while we ate breakfast before school. Maybe this is corny but it’s true, I enjoyed it! It must have stuck in my head throughout the years, because even though I may not remember anything she read to us, it planted the seed to learn more about everything, to understand to the best of my ability.

I think understanding comes with educating your children. Whether they are destined for a doctorate in medicine or changing the world with Tool and Dye, education breeds understanding. A combination of books and street smarts is a beautiful thing.

Cost=0

Time= ongoing dedication

Empathy

Do you have that child who wants to adopt every stray animal they find? Do you have a child who does not bully others even if everyone else is doing it? You have raised the empathetic child, one of the most beautiful creatures on the planet. A child who many would say is beyond their years, I would humbly say is right where they are supposed to be. To get their peers to think and to inspire adults to remember.

If your child is none of those things, don’t worry! Empathy can be demonstrated and you can ‘wake up’ your child to think in a different way.

For those parents whose child is not empathetic, with most children, you can lead with example. With children with mental health challenges, leading with example, as you well know, may not work.

But you have to live empathy if there is any hope for your children to be empathetic. Showing empathy for other people’s pain is a gift your child will never know how important it is to have. Empathetic people are the seeds that grow ideas into beautiful plants. When one person, combined with understanding, empathizes with another, it helps build bridges with humanity and not make the gap between human being to human being, even bigger.

How you can express empathy is key. You won’t yell at that waitress who took an extra five minutes to fill up your cup because you can see she is waiting on at least ten other tables and you know this task is next to impossible. So you show and exhibit patience. Yelling never helps anyone anyway. You will donate your clothes to those new immigrants to your country because you know they have never felt a winter like yours and you want them to bundle up and stay warm and cozy as they get to know this new land. You use kind words to others, you hear peoples pain and you respond instead of ignoring. You are alive and you act like it.

Cost: 0

Time: a full time investment at first, but then it comes naturally.

These three gifts are not only a must have for the family, but if you use them as a combo, you can get results far greater than buying into just one. With all three gifts, you give yourself a huge discount in time management!

The media is always talking about role models and who will be the role model for your child? You see celebrities protesting that they just sing songs or act in movies and never asked to be your child’s role model. You know what? They’re right. You never asked them to. You don’t need to because you are their role model. It may not seem like that when they run off with their friends without saying goodbye or are rude sometimes. But they are listening. They are observing. You are the answer to your children getting these three gifts. With a onetime investment on behalf of your children, you can really change their life. I am not promising perfection. But what I am promising is you and your family making a difference, no matter how small, in your community and your world. All cliché aside, stop buying into what people tell you that you need to buy your family and invest in these three gifts for life.

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Tis the Season for Christmas DIY Projects

By: Karen Braga
Twitter: @Karenbabydoll22

The holidays always bring people together and sprinkles a little special magic in the air. So for this holiday season why not do some fun Christmas activities with your toddler.

I will share with you my top ten favorite DIY projects that you can do to either decorate your home or to give as a personalized gift to someone special. Remember when doing activities with your toddler always set up a good working station. Also make sure you and your toddler are wearing old clothes if you are working with paint. So play your favorite Christmas songs and let’s get started.

Top Ten DIY Projects

  1. Personalized Christmas Ornament

*Please note that you can find some ornaments that are thicker and will not break easily; however in case you don’t, just work over a soft surface.*

Materials Needed: Plain White Christmas Ornament (I got a couple of mine from the dollar store), Paint, Glitter (optional) and Glue.

First, have your toddler pick the colors of paint that he/she wants to work with and put some on a paper plate. With hand over hand, guide your toddler to add some paint on their brush and have them decorate the ornament. For a more simple/personalized decoration, you can add some paint onto your toddlers hand and have them hold the ornament. This will leave their hand print on the ornament. Once dried you can have your toddler add some glue and then sprinkle some glitter over the glued areas.

Photo Credit: Pinterest
Photo Credit: Pinterest
  1. Christmas Stockings

Materials Needed: A Plain Christmas Stocking, Hot Glue Gun (for your use only of course) and some decorations of their choice. Some art decoration ideas for your toddler would be pom poms, Fabric Paint and Christmas Foam Designs.

Place the stocking in front of your toddler and have them hand you the decorations that they would like on it and where they would like it placed. You can also have your toddler fill the stocking with some Christmas treats and little gifts.

  1. Stuffed Snowman’s

Materials Needed: A sock of your choice (you can use a plain White one or get a Christmas themed one), Rice, Three Elastic Bands, Materials to make a snowman face and hot glue gun (for your use only of course).

This idea is super cute, fun to do and also a great sensory play for toddlers. Hold open the sock and have your child scoop up some rice with a scooper or with their hands and put it in the sock. Together fill the sock close to the top but not all the way and tie it tight with an elastic band. This will leave a little piece of the sock sticking up and that’s ok as that will be the bottom of your snowman. You can either hot glue it down so it can stand up straight or fold it up. Now create your snowman layers by tying two elastic bands in two different spots. If you want to cover the elastic bands you can tie a ribbon around it. Once completed your toddler can hand you the materials for the face of the snowman. I used materials I already had around the house. For the eyes we used small buttons. For the nose I colored a tooth pick orange and cut a small piece (I put the pointy part sticking out however I added a small drop of hot glue on it so it wouldn’t be sharp). Then for the mouth we drew it on with a marker. Feel free to be creative by using different materials you already have and doing your own snowman design.

  1. Hot cup of love

Materials Needed: Tin of Hot Coco Powder, Mini Marshmallow, Plain White Mugs or Mini Jars, Candy Canes, Little Bags, Ribbon and Paint. Tip: I like to get my mugs or mini jars from Walmart as I can get a set for a lot less money than purchasing them separately.

This is one of my favorite DIY gift ideas because it is not only fun to do, you can also make a lot with it such as giving this as a gift to many people.

Make sure your mugs or jars are all washed and dried. Then by using hand over hand, guide your toddlers hand with the paint brush to create your design. Once your toddler is done painting, set them aside to dry. Hold open a small bag in front of your child and have them place some mini marshmallows in the bag and then tie it closed with a piece of ribbon. Repeat this step with your child with the coco powder. Have your toddler put a candy cane, bag of coco and a bag of mini marshmallows in the mug.  If you decided to use the mini jars instead of the mugs, you can put the coco directly in the jar followed by some mini marshmallows on top, then seal the lid and tape the candy cane onto the jar. Finally, don’t forget to add a tag with the person’s name on it.

  1. Christmas Wreath

Material Needed: Ring foam (You can find this from Michaels Craft store), Christmas bows, Christmas Tinsel garlands, Pom Poms, Hot Glue Gun (for your use only of course) and any other decorations you would like to use. *If you’re on a tight budget please feel free to cut out a reef shape out of a paper plate instead. However if you would like to use the ring foam from Michaels Craft store please check out their website, as they have coupons you can use towards your purchase.*

This gift is super cute and a great decoration piece. Add some hot glue onto the ring foam to secure on the end of the tinsel garlands. Together with your toddler wrap the rest of the tinsel garland around it until it is all covered and then glue the last piece down. Put some hot glue onto the Christmas bows and with hand over hand, guide them to place the bow on the reef. Other decorations such as pom poms, have your child hand them to you as you glue them down. Once you have completed your look it is ready to be given or displayed.

  1. A “Hand-Full” Christmas Tree

Materials Needed: Green construction paper, Brown construction paper, Scissors (for you of course), A Pencil, Glue and some art decorations of your child’s choice.

First trace your toddler’s hands onto a Green construction paper with your pencil. You will need a couple of them so if your toddler is getting inpatient have them walk away from the activity until you have traced and cut out the hands that are needed (you will need about 10). Also cut out a rectangle piece of Brown construction paper for the stem of the tree; however make sure it is long as it will be the support for the hands. Together with your toddler, glue four hands together (have the fingers facing down) onto the brown stem, as the bottom of the tree. Then glue three hands onto the stem, then two on top of that and then finally your last hand on top. With the decorations of your choice decorate the tree from top to bottom and don’t forget to add a tree topper. For a personalized touch you can add a small family photo as your tree topper.

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  1. Christmas lights

Material Needed: White Paper, Different Colored Paint and A Black Marker.

This activity is safer than it sounds. Together with your toddler add a small, thin amount of paint onto your toddlers thumb and place it onto the paper, leaving a thumb print. You can also add some of your thumb prints as well. Continue this process until you both have reached your desired look. Then with the black marker draw lines to connect the lights together (you can use hand over hand guide).

  1. Just for Santa

Material Needed: White Plain Plate (I got mine from the dollar store), different Colored Paint and a Black Permeant Marker (just for you of course).

This activity is super cute and will get all children excited for the big jolly guy. As you explain to your child how Santa gets really hungry after making all his stops, he likes to munch on snacks; so creating a special plate just for him will make him feel special.

Have your toddler paint the plate and then set aside to dry. Once completed you can write a message for Santa on the plate for example: “Dear Santa, hope you like these tasty snacks I have left you.”

Photo Credit: Pinterest
Photo Credit: Pinterest
  1. Mittens

Material Needed: Colored Construction Paper, Glue, Scissors (for you of course) and the decorations of your child’s choice.

Cut out mitten shapes with the colored construction paper that your toddler has picked. Then with hand over hand, add some glue onto the mittens and encourage them to add the decorations that interests them. For a more complex activity you can get a solid colored pair of mittens for them to use; however decorate them with fabric paint.

  1. Pretty snowflakes

Materials Needed: This activity can get a little messy as it requires glitter so if you do not wish to use this then you can substitute it with paint or markers. Other materials needed is glue, tape and string.

Place your pre-cut snowflake designs in front of your toddler, then with hand over hand, add some glue to the snowflake and sprinkle some glitter on top. Repeat this step until all snowflakes are decorated. Then once dried tape your snowflakes onto your string and hang it up for decoration.

These are just some of the many DIY activity ideas you can do with your toddlers this holiday season. Remember to add some special touches yourself into the activity so it’s a special project made just from the two of you. Writing your child’s name and the year they made it on would be ideal to place on the back of the DIY projects as this will be an added memory for them and you!

If you make any of these DIY projects please be sure to tag me as I would love to see everyone’s creations.

Until next time…Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

 

About the Author

Karen Braga graduated from Sheridan College with an Early Childhood Education Diploma. She worked with children for about five years before expanding her skills in Administration. Karen is a loving Godmother/Auntie to one. Combined with her ECE background and passion for DIY projects and baking, she has recently become an expert writer for mom blogger, Momma Braga. Karen hopes by sharing her knowledge, tips and tricks, she can bring families together through her creative ideas.

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Fitting in Versus Standing Out

By: Grace Cross
Twitter: @grace_cross1000

No parent wants their child to come home and cry that they’re being bullied.  They do not want to hear how their baby, whom they loved and raised, is being teased for not having the latest style or following a trend. As ridiculous as it sounds, a child can be bullied by their peers if they are not wearing the fashion of the minute. Out of fear, some parents will overspend, even go into debt so their children are wearing expensive fashion of the moment, so they fit in with their peers. However, this sends a clear message to the child, to follow what other’s tell them is the right thing to do. We want to raise independent children who know the value of a dollar and children whose personal creativity should shine. WE want our children to be individuals and stand out verses fit in.

Growing up as a child in the early 90s, many pre- teens were dressing in their baggy jeans and band tee shirts. Children as young as eleven wore heavy eyeliner and mascara. The world of a certain young twelve year old is already confusing enough, but many girls quickly traded their pig tails for doc martins over a summer. It was the age to start growing up, but not growing out.

girls

Everyone is an individual. We as parents must nurture our children’s passions.

A new girl came to school. Her ensemble was definitely not a band tee shirt and jeans. She knew old jazz music over the musings of Smashing Pumpkins. She wore acid wash jeans and a jean jacket. She would make funky jewelry and put decorative pieces in her hair. She was 5’6 and a size zero. She had an angelic face and an idea for her future. She had started at a new school after moving from the city to the suburbs. In our small town, you had seen one fashionable twelve year old, you had seen them all. They were not as accepting as the barrage of city trends that exist.

She walked in being nothing but kind. Her outfit was funky and exuded her personality. The other band tee-shirted mascara smeared girls teased and ridiculed her for being different. Any adult could see that these little suburban girls were intimidated by her confidence and big city dreams. She wanted to be a model and a fashion designer. They would tell her she was not pretty enough and too ugly and skinny. Although her mother could have jumped on the bandwagon and rushed her to the mall to buy her those doc martins and a band tee shirt, she did not. Her daughter was teased. Her daughter got stronger. Her daughter went to high school and made a lot of friends. She started a fashion club and helped with annual fashion shows. She left high school and moved to New York. She became a model and a fashion designer. That skinny sized zero beauty also had a heart. She could have easily designed for sized zero models like herself, but she chose again, to go against the grain and make fashion for beautiful plus sized women. Her mom is proud.

group

The other suburban girls (not naming any names) grew up to find nice normal jobs in nice normal towns. She, however, holds no grudge and also has a beautiful family in New York City, doing what she loves for a cliental she loves.

Sometimes as parents, when our children are being teased, we quickly want our child to fit in. No parent should accept or allow their child to be bullied. However, we should encourage our children to follow their dreams, even though their peers may not believe in them. “She” is a real person, but we will choose not to use her name because there is at least one “she or even “he” in every classroom in every school across the country. “He” or “she” is probably your child. So embrace the different and don’t be afraid to stand against the grain. You have no idea what kind of super hero you might be raising.

 *If your child or someone you know is experiencing any sort of bullying, immediately contact school officials or reach out to a children’s help line. As parents, we have ZERO tolerance for bullying. You could save a life.*

About the Author & Special Guest Blogger

Grace Cross is a writer, author and owner of The Baby Spot, a global magazine celebrating the similarities and embracing the differences of parenting practices world-wide! Grace is co owner of Artist’s Opus, a social media following that promotes artists from all over the world.