caregiver holding child

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 ended, I remember asking my friend, “How can I help?”. I was ready to help them by buying toys, clothes, and food -  but that was not what they needed.

Child sits appearing sad.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. This is the perfect time to discuss something that hits very close to home for me.

grandfather holding up a smiling infant

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.

the word family written out in baking flour

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 help but think how hard the process to become parents as an LGBTQ+ couple must be.

family with children and baby smiling at each other

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.

mother hugging her child

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 control. This would be magnified for children who experienced direct loss and may need help understanding what happened to their world. Most children look to adults for guidance and understanding on how to react and deal with life’s events.

four people outside laughing in the snow

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! Painting and pottery classes, massages and spa treatments, target shooting, bowling and even horseback riding sessions were just a few of the fun experiences that were gifted. We agreed that doing things was much more fun that accumulating more stuff – and was much more meaningful.

Two boys making funny faces

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.

Two young girls hugging and laughing

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.

The Illinois Early Learning Project has a great tip sheet that includes tips on how to help young children to develop impulse control. For infants to older preschool children they suggest:

father with child writing

I just love the Illinois Early Learning Project (IELP) website, which is a valuable source of evidence-based, reliable information on early childcare and education for parents, caregivers, and teachers of young children in Illinois. It is funded by the Illinois State Board of Education and is housed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the College of Education.

Spending time with our kiddos is something we have had an abundance as of late. While this time was unforeseen, parents are suddenly faced with wondering what new activities to do with their children. Let us face it—taking the same walking route gets boring after a while, playing with the chalk gets messy, and there is only so much on TV we can watch on repeat. So, what else is there to do? Coloring is an ageless past time for children and adults alike, but there seems to be no more room on the fridge for the daily masterpieces being created.

family sitting on bench

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 of us by working, homeschooling and socializing virtually.  

family walking in the woods on trail

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 2018 Nielsen report stated that American adults spend over 11 hours per day listening to, watching, reading or generally interacting with media.