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people eating at a table

Dining away from home with young children

I do not enjoy cooking. I CAN cook – I just don’t like to. So, my husband and I have been fortunate to be able to eat out at restaurants quite often – when he also chose not to cook. When we had our son, I tried to cook more at home, but we slipped back into that same routine of going out to eat...
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Two small children playing in water

Kids who care

Recently, I was supposed to attend a family night at a local preschool where I would work with the youth about what it means to care and be kind to each other. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it at the last minute, but I wanted to share a tip sheet that I was also going to share with the parents....
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three children holding hands

Helping children learn to get along

As the oldest child of three, and also having a child of my own, I can say first-hand that children are going to argue, not get along, and even fight sometimes. When facilitating parenting classes, the topic of how to prevent children’s arguments was brought up often. Fortunately, getting along...
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family eating dinner

Making family mealtimes happen

With many families in back-to-school busy mode, it can sometimes be difficult to enjoy having meals together. However, research shows that having meals together is beneficial for individuals as well as the whole family. Family members who eat together tend to eat healthier – they eat more fruits...
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two childen playing a game

Tips for a fun family night in July

It’s hard to think about the 4th of July without visions of flags and fireworks appearing.  The holiday event is rich with traditions that help us celebrate our country’s heritage with pride and a sense of belonging.  Families also have a wealth of traditions that help us feel special and...
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view of someone in military boots standing behind child

Tips to help military families cope with stress

While family members of our military service members do not actively serve, they do have a very important job – holding down the fort. Military service members put their lives on the line to protect and serve our country while their families adapt, miss their loved ones, and support them from home...
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Man and boy fishing together at pond

Generations can learn from each other

With social isolation having such negative consequences on people and seeming to have increased especially with the COVID pandemic, I thought it would be good to share this article I originally wrote in 2018. When children, teens and younger adults spend time with older adults, there are many...
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male boy with hands on head with books on table

Coping with back to school anxiety

Anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric diagnosis in school-age children worldwide. Anxiety may appear in different forms, including separation anxiety, social phobia, generalized anxiety, panic with agoraphobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and specific phobic disorders causing...
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man and woman pointing at each other and yelling

Five ways to refine your co-parental communication

Growing up, my family had my half-sisters every other weekend, but the co-parenting relationship never took a break. I witnessed many different conversations between co-parents on many different topics like schooling, child support, drama, and even discipline. While the conversations were often...
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image is a beach scene with the word summer in various colors and a drink umbrella

Eight tips for a successful summer

Ah, the lazy days of summer. Around my house, summer is a cherished time of year. Routines are more relaxed, the pace is slower, and the “rules” are bent a little.  Even though everyone in my is enjoying a little more freedom from the frantic school year, we’re equally ready for a little more...
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caregiver holding child

Five ways to support foster parents

A little less than a year ago, I received a phone call from a friend who eagerly said that a foster child was on the way to their home. I was beyond excited for my friends & their family but also so excited for this child to be welcomed into a stable and healthy home. Before the phone call...
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someone counting dollars

Five financial tips for single parents

Growing up, I often heard if you want something done well, find the busiest person in the room and ask them. More often than not, that incredible person is a single parent. Single parents are some of the strongest people on this earth and deserve recognition for their hard work and support for...
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grandfather holding up a smiling infant

Five tips for grandparents raising grandchildren

Often grandparenting means a weekend with grandchildren every now and then, an evening babysitting, a summer vacation, or chats on the phone and Facetime here and there. But when life circumstances change, grandparents often assume full- or part-time responsibility for their grandchildren. Many...
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the word family written out in baking flour

Starting a family as LGBTQ+ parents

During my first year of college, I had a professor in the middle of the adoption process with her partner. I will never forget the day she shared the news that their adoption agency had found them a child & would be meeting them within the next week. Her happiness was contagious, but I couldn’t...
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family with children and baby smiling at each other

Helpful hints for unifying a blended family

While conflict is bound to happen in all family structures, blended families encounter many unique challenges. Knowing what to expect can help address issues before they spiral out of control. Growing up in a blended family was anything but simple. I witnessed arguments between co-parents, legal...
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mother hugging her child

Helping children cope with disasters

Natural disasters, such as the recent tornadoes, wildfires, and floods along with other traumatic events like mass shootings and even the pandemic can be devastating for everyone. For children, just watching the news and listening to parents talk can make life’s events seem like they are out of...
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four people outside laughing in the snow

Making the holidays memorable and meaningful

Every year the adults in my family have a Christmas gift exchange. Around October we draw names with wish lists to prepare for the exchange. A couple of years ago my brother wanted to change it up a little, and suggested we give experiences rather than actual items. We had so much fun that year!...
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cars lined up on a road with text back to school proceed with mindfulness

Back to school: proceed with mindfulness

As the new school year approaches, it’s completely normal for both parents and children experience a rush of emotions. Sadness that the carefree days of summer are ending. Anticipation of seeing friends and learning new things. Curiosity at what new opportunities the new year will bring. Excitement...
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Ease your way back into school routines

Summertime for kids usually means fewer routines, later nights, and sleeping in more than during the school year. However, there are signs everywhere to show us that school is just around the corner. It is evident by the store ads, the school supplies that are spilling out into the middle aisles of...
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road, white car and text how to take yoru road trip from "I'm bored" to miles of smiles

5 tips for screen-free family fun on the road

Summer is full swing and many families are packing up and hitting the road. As a child, I loved road trips. Different scenery, anticipating the activities we would do or the people we would see, even just watching the world whiz by from the backseat – I enjoyed the open road and the...
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children outside of tent in backyard

Summer family fun

As we are now officially in the summer season, it can be very easy to overschedule our children and ourselves. This is especially true this year as COVID restrictions begin to lift and more events are becoming available again. Enjoyable but exhausting family vacations, summer sports leagues, day...
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Two boys making funny faces

Making and keeping friends

Do you remember your first childhood friend? Do you still have friends that you keep in touch with from school or work? Humans are social creatures and we enjoy and do better being around others. So, knowing how to make and keep friends is an important skill for young children to learn. For...
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Holidays at home

Most years, many strive to go home for the holidays. This year, many will spend their holidays in their own home. The home may be a place they live alone, a place with a significant other, a place with children, or a home filled with multi-generations.  Whatever home is for you, and however...
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SEL social emotional learning tips for parents

Social-emotional learning and your child

Life has not been easy for most parents who have school-aged children. It has been unpredictable for some parents, not knowing from day to day whether their child(ren) will be in a school building or learning remotely from home. Just recently a friend of mine got word that her daycare...
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Two young girls hugging and laughing

Impulse control and your child

Impulse control involves knowing how and when to express emotions like excitement, frustration, joy, disappointment, and anger. It is a process that develops as children mature and is critical for their success in making and keeping friends, which in turn boosts their self-esteem and school success...
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bench with paper bag that has inspirational saying on it

Feeling grateful during difficult times

Things have not been easy for any of us during these past few months – or “unprecedented times.” We may feel like we’ve had many losses: loss of security, loss of contact with others, loss of freedom to come and go where we would like, maybe even loss of health and loved ones, among many more. Many...
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lemons on a blue background

When life gives you lemons

Surely, you’ve heard the saying, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” When I think about all the lemons, we’ve been handed this year, it can be difficult to see how to make the lemonade – especially for children. If you have a child in your life, stop for a moment and consider all the...
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Explaining PTSD to your child

Reoccurring and distressing memories, flashbacks, nightmares, avoiding specific places or activities, feeling hopeless, memory loss, feeling detached from family or friends, always being on guard, trouble sleeping, and irritability are only a few of the extensive list of symptoms individuals with...
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The Smaller Moments Matter with Kids

Quality time during early childhood is vital to the growth and development of children. Quality time between parents and children develops stronger communication, promotes interactions, strengthens bonds within the family, helps children become mentally and emotionally healthier, builds self-esteem...
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Helping children deal with anxiety

When adults are stressed or anxious about our day to day lives and activities, we can find ways to cope through multiple outlets. Exercise, meditation, diet changes, sleep patterns, and venting to those around us are only a few examples of options to relieve stress. Children, on the...
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family sitting on bench

Unplug and re-engage in life

Since summer is almost here, I thought it would be a good idea to re-post this article about unplugging from our devices and enjoying our surroundings - especially our children! This is especially important lately with the shelter-at-home guidelines, which has created more screen time for many...
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family walking in the woods on trail

Be an intentional family

Since mindfulness can also mean being intentional, we should have the conversation about whether we practice being mindful with our families. Most of us say that family is most important to us and that we put them first – but do we? A...
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Woman sitting at a desk writing notes with computer in the background

Work Smart from Home

In a time when more people are working from than usual, we felt it might be helpful to offer some tips for working from home. Of course some of these tips are best when working from home and not while some are trying to both teach their children and do their jobs from home. We understand if some of...
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Keeping in Touch While Keeping Your Distance

It is safe to assume that many adults today remember being told at one time or another by their disciplining parents, “You are grounded and are not to leave the house.” This typically meant separation from friends, playing outside, and taking part in planned activities. Even if it’s been...
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hands on top of each other

Schedule a Family Night In

With families so busy with work, school, extra-curricular activities, sports, church, civic groups, clubs, etc., they can find it difficult to spend quality time with each other. Because families can be so busy, they need to intentionally plan their time together. In previous articles, I have...
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pouting little girl

Prevent tantrums during the holidays

We talk a lot about stress during the holidays and try to find ways to reduce or make that stress more manageable. However, we usually talk about it in regards to us – the adults – and sometimes forget that holidays can be difficult for children as well. Parties, shopping, and other activities may...
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upset woman

Substance Use Disorders Affect All Family Members

In 2018, approximately 20.3 million people aged 12 or older had a substance use disorder (SUD). SUD’s are defined as the recurrent use of alcohol or drugs that result in problems such as being unable to control use of the substance, failing to meet work, home or school obligations, having poor...
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kids reading books

Helping Kids (and Parents) Adjust to College

Since my son (only child) recently moved to college up north back in August, I have felt like maybe someone has died. Friends, family and acquaintances will ask how my son is liking school, and then they lower their voice, get real close and grab my arm, and ask in a serious tone “and how are YOU...
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Grandparents have an important role in a child’s life

National Grandparents Day is September 9th. Since August 3, 1978, the day has been set aside “to honor grandparents… and help children become aware of the strength, information, and guidance older people can offer.”  Grandparents can offer all of these things and typically when we think of...
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A Family Night In

Overwork and over scheduling can take a toll on families and relationships as we find less time together, especially just to hang out.  Taking a break to spend some relaxed time together as a family can be a way to reconnect.  A “family night in” is doing something together at home that...
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school car line

Back to School: Proceed with...Mindfulness?

As the school year approaches, parents and children experience a rush of emotions. Sadness that the carefree days of summer are ending. Anticipation of seeing friends and learning new things. Curiosity at what new opportunities the new year will bring. Excitement of new schedules, new routines, new...
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Getting Ready for Kindergarten

It can be an exciting and emotional time for children and their parents when a child officially begins his school career with kindergarten. However, is that child ready? And, how do parents prepare their child to be ready? The Illinois Early Learning Project has a great tip sheet on this topic that...
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Celebrate the Fourth with Family Safety in Mind

Many people celebrate Independence Day with family cookouts and fireworks. Fireworks are beautiful and often seen as entertainment, we need to remember that they are explosives and have a lot of potential for harm. Sparklers are a popular firework choice for children. These fireworks can reach...
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Break from School

It's close to the end of the school year for my household and we are already gearing up for all the summer activities. For most parents and children, there is a shift in routine. It becomes a challenge whether you are figuring out how to balance the hustle of taking your child to sports camps, band...
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I Can Do It!!! Helping Preschoolers Learn Self-Help Skills

Preschool children grow and learn at an amazing pace. They can't wait to feel busy, successful, grown-up, and independent. They begin practicing self-help skills at age two during the "me do it myself" stage. Even though this is annoying to adults at times, it paves the way for their development of...
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Helping Your Child Make Decision for Higher Education

Decision making While I was attending a dual credit meeting for my daughter, I was thinking about all the decisions that high school juniors and seniors are making. High school students are planning and thinking about their future; if they want to attend a trade school, work at a local business,...
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Don't Put Off Reading This Article!

Mark Twain said "Never put off til tomorrow, what you can do the day after tomorrow." As I've been helping my son during his senior year of High School, I have really become aware of what a procrastinator he is – just like me! Most everyone procrastinates sometime. There are different ways to...
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Too Much is NOT a Good Thing

Originally printed in March of 2017, but thought it would be worthwhile to release again. While on vacation a few weeks ago, I noticed there were many elementary and middle school aged children present at our resort. I also noticed that many of them had something in common.- their...
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Building Your Baby's Brain

The complexity of the human brain is nothing short of amazing. The changes which occur in a baby's brain are significant from the time of conception to three years of age. As a caregiver of a baby, it is your goal to support healthy brain development. Here are a few suggestions to help: Respond...
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Building Your Baby's Brain

The complexity of the human brain is nothing short of amazing. The changes which occur in a baby's brain are significant from the time of conception to three years of age. As a caregiver of a baby, it is your goal to support healthy brain development. Here are a few suggestions to help: Respond...
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female hand with engagement ring held by another hand

How to parent newlyweds and tips for the transition

The day you plan, dream and somewhat dread has arrived…your child is getting married! It happened to me just last weekend. With every detail finally in place, my husband walked our daughter down the aisle to begin her new life as a Mrs. First of all, how in the world did I get this old? It seems...
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Reconnect with the world outside for optimal health

After being stuck inside from a bad winter, we often say things like, "I'm suffering from cabin fever", or after being inside all day we might say, "I need some fresh air." As usual, there is some truth to these familiar sayings that we have heard passed down from generation to generation. I hope...
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Fostering Resiliency in Yourself and Your Family

Have you ever known someone who seemed to go through very difficult times and left you wondering "how can they handle so much?" Resiliency is the ability to recover from life's challenges and hardships without being overwhelmed and to bounce forward rather than back. Families and individuals face...
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Unplug and Re-Engage in Life

  Everywhere around us, we see people constantly checking their smartphones. You might wonder "what could be so important that would have people tied so closely to those little devices?" Are they checking texts from friends? Facebook or Instagram updates? Work e-mails? I have become...
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Checking in and building bonds during mealtimes

Family mealtimes are a key experience for a family whether they stop and think about it or not. With both parents and children having busy schedules, parents may worry what can they actually accomplish with a sit down meal? The answer is a lot actually. There are many benefits to eating a sit-down...
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Bedtime Battles: Let’s Talk Sleep

"My baby has slept through the night since he was 2 weeks old." This is something that all tired parents have heard, longed for, and even envied, yet a peacefully sleeping child seems a far off dream. Sleep. It's one of the keys to your child's development yet, one of the most challenging aspects...
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Toddlers Exploring the World

Today's blog entry is taken from the award winning Extension series, Your Young Child. When your child is between 1 and 3 years old, she will probably be interested in everything and everyone, especially if it's new or different.  She will want to be part of whatever you do. ...
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