Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Sept. 3rd: A Toddler’s Treat

On Monday, September 3rd,  a new generation of preschoolers will get the chance to experience Make-Believe as Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood premieres on PBS Kids  with a special one hour block of two back to back episodes. (check local listings for exact time).

Produced by The Fred Rogers Company, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood follows the adventures of a 4 year old tiger named Daniel Tiger, who is the son of Daniel Striped Tiger from the classic show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Daniel Tiger uses the show to invite children into sharing his experiences in his peaceful yet lively neighborhood. Targeted toward preschoolers aged 2 to 4 and their parents, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood teaches kids fun and practical strategies and skills needed for growing and learning.

“No one knew better than Fred Rogers how to connect with children,” said Bill Isler, President of The Fred Rogers Company. “And, like Fred, Daniel Tiger will visit preschoolers every day. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is an exciting new series with all the right elements to appeal to today’s children and families. It’s well-poised to become a much-loved classic for years to come.”

Daniel starts his day by donning his red sweater, tying his sneakers and inviting his preschool pals at home into the bright and lively Neighborhood of Make-Believe. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood features the next generation of the original characters from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Daniel’s best friend is O the Owl, who lives with his Uncle X in the tree next door to Katerina Kittycat, daughter of Henrietta Pussycat. Daniel also loves to visit Prince Wednesday, the youngest member of the royal family headed by King Friday, in his castle; and Miss Elaina, who lives with her parents, Lady Elaine Fairchilde and Music Man Stan, in the Museum-Go-Round. The familiar red trolley “ding dings” its way all around the Neighborhood.

And guess what?  We’re hosting a giveaway! One lucky aMomKnowsBest reader will win a Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood gift pack, complete with a Daniel Tiger luggage tag, crayons, Daniel Tiger printables, backpack and crayons, pencils, stickers, and more…and it’s all courtesy of PBS Kids!  Just leave a comment below telling me why you want to win or what you thought of the show.  We’ll pick a winner by September 6th.  Also, don’t forget to go to the PBS site for more Daniel Tiger interactive fun.

All Aboard ‘The Dinosaur Train’

Ever since my daughter started going to school a few days a week, she’s been more enthusiastic about saying her ABCs.  She loves going around the house and finding things that start with each letter of the alphabet.  The EMMY®-nominated children’s series DINOSAUR TRAIN® will be incorporating the alphabet with its traditional dinosaur facts and stories during a one-hour “Dinosaurs A to Z” special premiering TOMORROW, May 14th on PBS KIDS!

There’s also a  Dinosaurs A to Z Countdown Contest on the new Dinosaur Train’s Twitter and Facebook  pages, where you and your kiddos can answer  fun and educational Dinosaur A to Z trivia questions for a chance to win Dinosaur Train prizes every day!  Don’t forget to check your local listings for tomorrow’s special.  I hope your little ones enjoy it as much as I think mine will!

 

25 Things I Want My Daughters to Know

Have you read the book or seen “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch?  If not, let me share a little about The Last Lecture.  It is a tradition at Carnegie Mellon for teachers to do a “Last Lecture” where they are asked to imagine they are going to die soon and clarify what would they want to say or teach for their last presentation.  In the case of Randy Pausch, he was actually dying of cancer when he gave his “Last Lecture”. His personal experience made the lecture all the more poignant. Many people connected to his lecture on YouTube, ultimately making it an internet phenomenon. As a result, Randy had many tv appearances on a variety of news outlets. He admitted that while he was presenting as an instructor to his students, his lecture was also a way of leaving a legacy and some wisdom to his kids.

This made me ask myself, if I only had a few months to live, what would I want my daughters to know?  Thankfully I am lucky that I am healthy and  I intend to be with them to help them through any growing pains (as well as celebrate their joys and successes).   But knowing what thoughts I would want to impart onto them can make me more clear in what’s important to not leave unsaid. So I decided to write them a love note sharing some things I hope will help them down the road. Here it is.  What would your love note be to your kids?

To my beautiful, sweet daughters,

First and foremost, I know I say it all the time, but I love you. You are beautiful inside and out. You’re both smart, kind hearted and thoughtful. I am so proud to be your mom.

I was thinking the other day that there are some things I wish I knew when I was younger.  So I was thinking that it would be good to start to write down some of the  things I’ve learned from experience. Maybe sharing it with you will save you some heartache someday or help you follow a dream or enable you to accept your fears and do something any way.  Even just you knowing I love you so much that I’d sit down and write this for you is enough for me.   Here are a few “words of wisdom” I wanted to share with you….

  1. Inner beauty is so much more important that outer beauty. But you already know this one.
  2. Listen to your gut and stand up for what you believe in (not just against what you don’t believe in) or you might regret it.
  3. But pick your battles, not everything is worth fighting for.
  4. While you may disagree with and annoy each other at times, remember to love and respect each other.  I hope you grow up to be each other’s best friends.  As I always say when I see you hugging and playing together, “I love that you love each other.”
  5. No one ever got anywhere by just complaining. Think of what can be done to improve whatever it is you are upset about.   One rule of thumb I have is if I complain about it three times then I have a choice to make.  I can quit complaining and accept it or do something about it.
  6. Don’t waste your time gossiping.  There are so many more interesting and helpful things to talk about.
  7. Follow your passion. Try a bunch of things so you can find out what it is.  Don’t be afraid to make mistakes in the process, that is how you learn.  If you’re not making mistakes and feeling like a fool once in awhile you’re not challenging yourself enough.
  8. Always remember the saying “This too shall pass”.  This relates to sad and happy occasions.  Sometimes when you’re hurt or sad it will seem like you will feel that way forever. You won’t.  Give yourself time and things will change, they always do. The same holds true of when you’re happy.  Cherish every moment that makes your heart sing. Time passes too quickly not to stop and appreciate the moments and people who make you smile.
  9. When you’re frustrated, believe you can do something to change the situation or yourself for the better. But don’t waste your time trying to change other people.
  10. Don’t strive for perfection.  Just strive to continue to do your best and learn from every experience. I hope you will always remember the question I often ask you both, “What did you learn from this?”
  11. If you don’t have confidence in a skill, then have the confidence that you can learn it. Don’t let the lack of a skill stop you from achieving your dreams.
  12. Love lots and let your heart be broken.  I was afraid too often in my life and missed out on some living when growing up. Don’t let fear stop you from doing things you want to do and meeting people you want to meet.
  13. Even if you are afraid at times don’t label yourself as “shy” (or any other limiting label).  Realize you may just need to learn some new skills or gain some experience in order to feel more secure and confident in what you want to do and who you are.
  14. Be vulnerable. This is something I’ve learned late in my life.  I thought being emotionally independent showed strength.  But being vulnerable is not a weakness.  It takes courage to be vulnerable.  Often times the only real way to build true intimacy is by letting yourself be vulnerable.
  15. Don’t just rely on others for love and acceptance.  Accept and love all of yourself too.  Be vulnerable with yourself about who you are and accept all the good and all the imperfect in yourself.  Other people aren’t perfect either and they can’t always be there for you.
  16. People aren’t prefect and will let you down. It’s the ones who will build you up more than let you down that you want to stick around.
  17. Say nice things to yourself.  You are always going to be with you. You might as well be a friend to yourself.
  18. If other people criticize you, assess if it’s true or not.  If it is, you can choose whether to work on that weakness. If it’s not, realize that it’s not about you, it’s just their weakness and insecurities talking.
  19. Compromising is so important in relationships.  It’s good to find a balance of what you want and what others want.  However, there are some things you should never compromise….don’t ever feel you have to compromise your values or beliefs to please someone else, which ultimately means don’t compromise yourself.
  20. This is one of my new favorite quotes by Doctor Suess:   “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
  21. If you ever feel like you don’t belong  somewhere don’t take it personal. We all feel like we don’t belong sometimes.  Think of the ugly duckling story.   He didn’t know he was a swan and was hanging out with the ducks.  What a joy when he discovered other swans like him who understood him.
  22. It’s important to have friends who have things in common with you. It’s also important to be around people who don’t think like you do.  That is a great way to expand your perspectives. If you only hang around people who agree with you, you won’t be challenged to have new thoughts or perspectives.
  23. Here are two of my favorite quotes by Albert Einstein: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” and “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”
  24. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because you don’t agree with someone you don’t like them.  A person is more complex than one issue.  At the very least, you don’t have to agree with or like other people, but you should make an effort to show them respect.   A little respect can go a long way.
  25. If someone doesn’t respect you, you can turn the other cheek from the next room. You don’t have to stoop to their level and return the hurt, but you also don’t have to stick around and continue to be hurt.  Make good choices about who you spend your time with. Whether you’re aware of it or not, who they are will affect who you are.

I wrote at the beginning of this letter that I hoped some of the things above would help you avoid some heartache.  Scratch that. Sometimes we only learn things by experience which can include heartaches. It may also be that you will only truly understand some of these ideas after experiencing more in your life. My hope is that while I can’t stop you from having heartaches, hopefully when you do go through heartache, these words might help prepare you and maybe comfort you in some way.

Oh and just because I wrote some of these words of wisdom (or rephrased wisdom shared through the ages) doesn’t mean that I am able to live them every day.  All we can do is strive to do our best to live authentically while trying to make the world a better place, hoping we learn something in the process and gain some true friendships along the way.

Also, I’m sure I could have written a whole book because there is so much to learn in this life.  But this is a start.  I would love to hear or read your words of wisdom some day.

With all My Love,

Mommy

P.S.- No matter what life brings you, may you alway find the fun and joy in living.

 

 

 

 

Randy Pausch is sadly no longer with us. He lost his battle to cancer.  However, his example and message continue to touch many hearts, including his kids. What are some things you would like to tell your kids? Please share your wisdom in the comments. Then be sure to share them with your kids through words, letters or whatever way you can. Just be sure to share them. Your child is too precious and life is too short not to do it.

 

 

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How Do You Teach Your Children to Listen…to Themselves?

Often we are concerned about whether or not our children are listening to us, their teachers or any other authority figure. Listening is an important skill. However, while it’s important to learn listen to others, it’s also important to learn listen to ourselves. How do you teach that?

While one daughter was at an afterschool activity, I was waiting with my other daughter.   The activity was taking longer than I expected and she was doing a really good job waiting and getting her homework done. I told her that when she got her homework done she could pick something from the snack machine. We usually don’t do this, so this was a special treat.

After getting her homework done we went over to the snack machine. She very quickly was overwhelmed with all the choices. She picked about 10 things that she thought she would like. To help her make her choice (and so we weren’t there all day), I told her to turn around from the machine and close her eyes. I told her to think about what she might want and see what popped into her head. This time only 2 things popped into her head. She was then able to pick one.

Sometimes we can be so overwhelmed with what we see as choices that we lose touch with ourselves and what we really want. So it’s always important to stop, take a break from distractions and check in with ourselves. What I taught her was an intuitive way of decision making. We often learn about logical processes ( such as pro/con etc) in decision making. Intuitive and gut feelings can be helpful too. In fact, while this simple technique can be used for making simple choices, it can also be used when feeling peer pressure. That is one of the most important times to listen to ourselves.

 

If I were writing a story then the story would probably end here. But life isn’t a story is it? It just keeps going and so did our learning for that moment. Learning to listen to ourselves was only lesson number one.

My daughter sat eating her treat for a little bit. She then said, “Mommy, sometimes my mind plays tricks on me.” Of course I asked her what she meant by that. She proceeded to say, “Sometimes it makes me think I want something but I really want something else.” She clarified, after eating her treat, that what she really wanted was the other option. Which led us to two more lessons in life:

Lesson number two- It’s sometimes really hard to figure out what you really want.

Of course I also discussed with her…

Lesson number three- Sometimes we need to learn to appreciate what we have and not keep focusing on missing what we don’t have.

Who says you can’t get anything healthy from a snack machine? How about some healthy perspectives and conversations?

How do you teach your child to listen to themselves?

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Family Ties

My sister and I spent our childhood pretty much attached at the hip. We have subsequently spent most of our adult lives thousands of miles apart. She has a job that has moved her around quite a bit, I have my own business here in Phoenix and am, therefore, not moving any time soon.

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My sister

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The early years: my sons

For a while, our lives were quite different. She was rising up through the ranks  in her career,  and I was beginning to have babies and trying to start a business while keeping my head above water. She was flying to a premiere in L.A., wearing a fabulous dress and getting her hair and make-up done, and I was trying to get breastmilk out of my work shirt, and trying to picture a life without a “Boppy” and immunization records.

 

 

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My sis & niece

More recently, with the birth of her first baby about 22 months ago, my sister  is in the forays of early motherhood and chasing a toddler, and I am navigating a household where no more naps are taken, but two school-aged boys may or may not jump off the dog kennel onto the couch in superhero fashion. The divergence of our lives the past 20 years is narrowing again and our circle is beginning to get smaller.

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A recent family picture

There was a time when my boys were really young and I was a nap Nazi and a hyper-scheduler and every time my sister  looked at me I felt like she thought I had three heads, and maybe I did. I had my second son on a Thursday and saw my first patient in my new practice on a Tuesday. Not exactly the best timing, but at the time, it is what I felt I had to do. I don’t imagine I was much fun in those days, and she probably wondered whether I ever would be again. I wondered if there was ever going to be a time where she would understand the pressures and demands and stress I was experiencing. I wanted her to love my babies as much as I did, but seeing them once or twice a year was not really enough to forge the tight bond for which I had hoped. When your kids are under the age of three, they are only friendly with people they see often, people with whom they have established memories.

Fast forward almost nine years from the time I had my first, and she was finally having her first. Although I hated the desperation in her voice as she was describing the frustrations of no sleep and early mommyhood, I loved being the one she called for advice or for simply an ear. I wished I could have given her a shoulder. It was very hard to be so far away and not have the ability to hold my sweet little niece and give my sister a break without her having to worry about her baby being cared for. Because to me, that is what family does. They are the people with whom you can trust in caring for your most valued possessions without worrying about them. We had two or three days here and there–not nearly enough time for me to be a trusted face for my niece or for my boys to really spend some quality time with their aunt.

Then this past summer came. My sister was in the throws of looking for a different job….she had some time to spare–we planned a family vacation, and then my boys got to spend an extra week with my parents and my sister, her husband, and their new niece. They came home with the kinds of stories that can only come with time real time spent in the company of the ones you love. They loved their niece, they constantly played with their uncle, and they were doted on by their aunt. The story was coming together….closer to what I had always wanted for us.Toddler and her cousins

Now there is a real possibility of her finding work here where I live. I can barely think about it because I dare not, lest I jinx it. They have been staying with us and other family off and on the past few weeks–and any time they aren’t at our house, my boys are wondering when they are coming back. You see, there is no other reason that 9 and 7 year old boys would be so infatuated with a 22 month old cutie pie, except for that family bond and time that establishes and cements these core relationships. My sister is over the hump and confident in her motherhood and I am basking in these boy years where they still let me kiss them. We are both relaxed for the most part, sharing the best bond of sisterhood and motherhood. She watches  me looking adoringly at her daughter and I look at her cracking up at my silly boys’ antics. It just doesn’t get much better. And my niece? No stranger danger with me anymore. This morning I got a kiss and a smile–none of that “Who is this lady that loves me?” look. My sister and I are geographically and emotionally closer all at once. Our lives are converging–no longer parallel three time zones apart…..attached at the hip, and hopefully within the same time zone, state, county, and maybe even zip code.

Sisters

Rediscovering Me

The summer is over and school is back in session for my children. Their school break was a whirlwind of vacations, summer camp and classes, with very little down time. To say I was anxious for the school year to begin is a major understatement. Add to that the extra several days that Tropical Storm Irene brought us and it was clear from both my children’s and my perspectives that school needed to start. When the day finally arrived, I packed the oldest three on the bus for their full days of school with smiles all around. I then settled down with the youngest of my brood, who is only three, for what she endearingly calls ‘Mommy school’. No rest for the weary, as the old saying goes. At least I was only going in one direction instead of four.
Then I got the game-changing email. My dear sweet three-year old was accepted into Playschool! Our town runs an absolutely incredible program though the high school in which they run a model preschool for the students interested in child development. One of my other children was lucky enough to be able to participate as well, so I knew what an opportunity this was. So now I anxiously prepared my youngest for school. New backpack, new lunchbox, new folder, new crayon box. She was good to go, and more then eager to kiss Mommy good-bye and walk off with her friends. I have to admit, as I left my three-year-old ‘baby’ at school I did get choked up. Another milestone. Another era over.
I went home that day and sat on the sofa, and then it hit me. I had the next precious ninety minutes all to myself. I could not tell you the last time I actually could plan to have time with no direct responsibility for any of my children. What would I do? There is always a long chore list in my house…laundry, cleaning, cooking, preparing for this or that. I sat there for about ten minutes trying to decide which chore to pick. I got to thinking. I had ninety minutes for me. What did that mean? Somewhere amid the science homework and soccer games and ballet classes, I lost sight of what I could spend my ‘me’ time on. I love my children, but the role of Mommy almost always comes first. Now, I was thinking about what I craved, needed, wanted to do. I thought of A Mom Knows Best…all the contributors have something exciting to offer you as readers, but also me as a fellow contributor. I am still sporting mommy jeans and sweats, yet I read with excitement Carrie Humphreys’ awesome fashion tips. I love a glass of wine now and then, yet I know nothing about it. Jessica Granatiero and her amazing shop, The Savory Grape, are always hosting tastings and informational get-togethers. Why haven’t I attended? Carla Izzard lives in the same town as I do, and we both share an interest in running, yet I couldn’t tell you the last time I slipped into my running shoes and hit the road. Maureen Umehara always has such wonderfully supportive and thought- provoking comments. I decided right then and there, when Cait was at school, I was going to take those precious few hours a week and work on me, rediscovering the me that is not the mom, the nurse, the educator, the volunteer…but the me that is a person with lots of ideas and dreams. And where better to look for guidance and help then the amazing group of ladies that contribute to this website. Each week I will be looking to work on something about me that needs looking at…and asking for the input of these amazing women. Won’t you join me? Look inside yourself and take a look at who you are, and who you want to be. I am sure the ride will be bumpy, with lots of twists and turns. The destination is a better me, a better us. I know the trip will be worth it.

Do you have a personal or professional goal you’ve been working toward?

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Living Through your Kids

I had the most fun last Saturday than I have had in a while.  And get this, the fun was not wine-induced, nor was it with my friends, nor was it on a romantic date night with my man. It was at my little guys’ flag football game. Let me just say that if you have not yet entered the foray of watching youth sports, especially when it involves your own kids, you are in for a treat. There are kids cracking up and misbehaving, kids running the wrong way, high- fiving and back-slapping, kids doing the end-zone boogie, and kids who are standing in the middle of the field during a play having absolutely no idea what to do.

This is not our first season, but it is the first time both kids were excited for weeks beforehand, and it is the first time they both had great games on the same day. The league we are in emphasizes nine core principles, one each week. Some of these include responsibility, teamwork, sportsmanship, etc. The coaches highlight these traits during the week and, at the end of the game, the kids vote on which player they think best demonstrated the core characteristic. I like this and I really think it speaks to the integrity of the program.

My youngest pulled lots of flags, ran hard, and on the second to last play of the game, ran for a touchdown. I looked behind me where my older boy was practicing and saw him cheer for his little brother’s play. I then watched as my little redhead ran through the parent tunnel and gave me a special high five and a hug. He was so proud to finally be able to share in his own accomplishments, not under the shadow of big brother. Next up was my older son’s game. He is at an age where he is really into it. As the time grew closer to his game, I noticed his face changing, growing more serene and steady. I saw his steely focus and thought, “Wait a second, that looks familiar….he is getting his game face on!” Normally, he is the first one to crack a joke and have a giggle, but as the clock ticked down there was none of that. He looked up to find where I was sitting and I gave him the “thumbs up.” Game on, peeps.

He ran for two touchdowns and threw for one. He huslted and brought it, every play. He also pulled lots of flags and deflected a few passes. I wanted to jump out of my chair and run down to the field, grab him in my arms and swing him around. Somehow, I restrained myself and just gave him a smile and a thumbs up. It was HARD not to wig out, purely out of joy and excitement for him. I was a proud mama.  You know what made me the most proud though? When I saw my youngest hand back the flag he pulled to its owner, when I saw my oldest pause and crouch down in concern for a fallen teammate, when I saw them both listening to their coaches and cheering on their teammates for plays well made. That’s the good stuff.

But here’s the thing, be it touchdowns or the drums, a well-written essay, or getting into a great college,  I want my kids to have their own spotlight, without me trying to share it or in any way take credit for it. I want them to bask and sit and bathe in what they have done–and when and if they want me to share it, they can bring me in….but I always want to remember that it is about them. I lived and am living my life; I got to make the choices (right or wrong) that seemed right for me at the time, and I want them to follow suit. It’s tricky stuff, letting them make mistakes and learning from them, or letting them make decisions that I don’t necessarily want them to make because it isn’t what I want for them. I do know, though, that I must let them do these things if I want their love and respect forever. If they trust that I truly want for them what they do, and what makes their hearts shine, then I believe they will seek my advice and wisdom (if I have any) when they need it.

Those touchdowns though; inside I was screaming and jumping and acting like a maniac. Just saying.

Is it Okay to Discipline Someone Else’s Child?

As parents, we often encounter kids behaving badly–many times our own!  Do you think it’s okay to discipline someone else’s kids?  How would you feel if someone disciplined your kids?  Here’s my latest video from Momversation.com.  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Living the Dream

Photo by Elizabeth Atalay

Photo by Elizabeth Atalay

O.K., so I wanted to title this post “Boring is Good”, but realized no one in their right mind would read a post entitled with the word boring!  This is what I have to say.  There once was a time when I did things like skydiving and “black water rafting”, but that was all back when I was young, immortal and most importantly not yet a mother.  Not long before I had my own children, I watched a toddler close to me go through a life threatening disease.  After years of treatments and hospital visits the child was cured.  In subsequent conversations with the mother she would say “We are all healthy, nothing new or exciting is going on in our lives, but that is just the way I like it now. Boring is good.”   Twenty years ago, that was the antithesis of my life motto.   Even after getting married, for many years as we established our home and family, there seemed to always be something exciting to report on to our friends.  There was a steady flow of new jobs, births and moves.  Now that the kids are a bit older, I guess we’ve done what they call “settling down”.   Much of our time is spent shuttling  kids to games on the weekends and doing  family-centric activities.  It has gotten to the point that when someone asks me ‘what’s new’?  I feel so boring! I have nothing to say!   The thing is, I am also at the point in my life where I look at that as a GOOD thing! To me it means there is no drama, and no angst (other than the gnawing question of how we’ll pay four college tuitions). In this economy, with high unemployment, foreclosures, war, natural disasters, and potential health problems, I am embracing boring.

Photo by Elizabeth Atalay

This is not to be confused with being bored.  I always tell my children, “there is no such thing as being bored!”  This is about being excited about life everyday without needing drama to stir things up.  I once had a friend ask if I got bored being a stay at home mother. I was surprised by the question, because, as I told her, I wished I had enough downtime to be bored.   My life was chaotic with four little kids!  Now that they are older I do get moments of down time, but I know now how precious they are, and savor every second of them without ever feeling bored.  When my wanderlust  does grip me from time to time, I remind myself how I always knew it was time to head home from my travels.  I would find myself in an exotic location peering not at the spectacular scenery around me, but into the glowing windows of  thatched village huts, wistfully thinking of the lucky family cozy inside their home together.  When asked, “what’s up” my husband and I will mostly respond with our motto of  “living the dream”.  Sometimes, when the question comes from a friend who I’ve previously described my “boring is good” theory to, I will answer that my life is boring at the moment. Knowing that I mean that in the best possible way, they will often reply with a wink and a smile, and say in return “boring is good”.

 

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An Allowance System That Teaches Earning AND Giving

Our brood

My eldest child is 12, so one could assume that I have been attempting to instill a good work ethic in my son for at least 10 years now.  He is the first child of our four who are 12, 10, 8 & 6 respectively, and by virtue of his birth order, the most prominent example of our parenting.  My husband and I want our kids to be achievers like most parents, but beyond that, we want them to be givers.  We don’t currently belong to a church, but when we did, it was usually a Unitarian congregation that suited our divergent backgrounds of former Catholic and Agnostic.  Until the new Unitarian church in town is re-opened, we are the sole stewards of our children’s moral compass, and that is a job to be taken very seriously.

My husband recently attended a sales conference in Miami that had some fascinating seminars.  One that impacted him greatly was the presentation on the “Entitled Generation Y”, that is, those kids who have been given everything without earning it, and feel that the world owes them.  It’s these kids that when asked what age they believe they are fully adults answered “thirty”!  When I was a child, Timothy Leary was quoted as saying “don’t trust anyone over thirty” which suggested to me that thirty was over the hill.  No wonder so many kids move back home after college – it’s not just the faltering economy, but the sense of entitlement.

Eeeek!  This must not happen to my kids.  What to do?  What to do? The first lesson out of the gate: electronics (tv, computer, x-Box, cell phone) are a priviledge, not a right.  They must be earned through other activities such as playing outside, practicing an instrument, or doing a chore.

wooden chore chartAh, chores.  The bane of my existence.  I can’t even count on my fingers the many different chore charts I’ve used over these past 10 years!  I even tried to design an innovative system myself using colored magnets and an intricate reward system that I never could make function just the way I wanted.  Don’t even get me started on the ‘enforcement’ of the charts.  What I have learned from all my efforts is that I end up being the ‘nudge’ or ‘irritant’ who hounds the kids into reluctant capitulation.  Ugh.

One thing that has made a great deal of impact on this effort was the acquisition of our chickens.  We already have 2 Beagles, 2 cats, 2 hermit crabs and a Beta fish who miraculously get fed daily, but chickens require more care.  I am not interested in doing it, so I made clear to the family that if they want to keep their beloved hens then they must care for them.  That worked.  It’s the ultimate in “natural consequences” – living domesticated creatures rely on us to stay alive.  The kids get that.

Now, how about those beds that need making, the laundry that needs to be put away, the rooms that need tidying?  We’ve also just moved into the realm of lawn mowing with my eldest, and the garage is an area in constant need of attention.

I have tried allowances to act as a ‘carrot’, but they often forget to collect it from me.  I recently found an online solution to my over 10-year quest for a system that works, and what I like about it is that it involves “giving”, which I mentioned earlier as a goal I would like my children to embrace.  It’s called ThreeJars.  One jar is for ‘spending’, one is for ‘saving’, and the third is for ‘sharing’.  Fabulous concept, don’t you think?!

3 jars allowance

Here’s how ThreeJars briefly defines itself: “ThreeJars makes allowance fun and easy for 5 to 13 year old
kids and their parents. Kids learn to manage their “money” through savingspending, and charitable giving jars – with guidance from Mom and Dad.”  The system is on an IOU basis from which the parents can add and subtract.  The allowance amount is decided together, but % of that amount to go to ‘share’ and ‘save’ is their decision to make.  Over time, the kids may make requests for ‘spending’ or ‘sharing’ through emails to their parent, and the parent responds “yea” or “nay” as they see fit.  ThreeJars’ service costs $30 a year for unlimited children, but the actual paying of monies to the kids happens at home per the adult’s prerogative.  The chore section is helpful if your family bases allowance on chore completion.  Often, looking to garner more funds, my 10-year-old son will make offers of chores with a value attached to it such as: Wash the Car – $3.00. It is up to me whether I accept or decline his offer.  It’s not all greed driven, though.  Yesterday that same son asked if he could donate $7.00 of his ‘share’ money to the ASPCA.  I said yes, and because ThreeJars has a direct relationship with about 21 reputable charitable organizations including the ASPCA, $7.00 was deducted from his ‘share’ fund and charged to my Visa on file.  If he had chosen to donate elsewhere, I would deduct the sum myself and write a check.  Easy peasy, lemon squeezy, not to mention, warm and fuzzy.

My kids love computers, so this online solution is so much better than a white board that can be altered either on purpose or by a shoulder coming too close in passing. It’s all there in black and white until I, or they, decide what changes.  Boy, do they love seeing how much allowance they are accruing each week, too.

Hallelujah!  Peace has been restored, chores are getting done, and giving is, well, “a given”.  Oh, how I love Three Jars!

Disclosure: I received a free year’s family membership valued at $30 to facilitate this review, but that only buys my honest opinions.

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