Posts Tagged ‘ holiday ’

Going “From Frazzled to Focused” for Father’s Day

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Busy dad's plannerEditor’s Note: In a post for an ongoing series, Dr. Harley A. Rotbart, a Parents advisor, will be guest blogging once a month. He will be offering different advice, tips, and personal stories on how parents can “savor the moment” and maximize the time they spend with kids. Read more posts by Harley Rotbart from this series.

As a dad and a pediatrician who has worked with families of all types and sizes for more than 30 years, I want to tell you about a great book written for moms that dads should read, too. After all, why should moms be the only ones who know the secrets for turning chaos to calm?

From Frazzled to Focused: The Ultimate Guide for Moms Who Want to Reclaim Their Time, Their Sanity, and Their Lives is written by Rivka Caroline, a Florida-based time management and organization expert who juggles seven kids, a speaking and consulting career, and graduate school. I discovered this book when the author asked me to review it for a possible endorsement because of my own time management book, No Regrets Parenting.

I loved Caroline’s book, and endorsed it with this quote: “From Frazzled to Focused is a brilliant blueprint for recapturing minutes, hours, and days otherwise lost to inefficiency and disorganization. This book will change your life.” Yes, it’s that good. But notice nowhere in that endorsement do I mention moms — or, for that matter, dads. This is a really wonderful book for moms and dads because efficiency, effectiveness, prioritization, and systemization are gender-neutral goals. This is not a book full of platitudes and bumper stickers. Instead, it’s a concise, organized, and focused 180-page playbook with an action plan for achieving, de-cluttering, and systemizing your work and home life.

Whether at home or at work, these From Frazzled to Focused guiding principles and recommendations apply to all parents:

  • Switch from doing it all to doing most of it (and know that’s okay)
  • Lack of time is actually a lack of priorities
  • 80 percent of results come from 20 percent of your time and effort
  • Work expands to fill the time available for its completion
  • Create a “to don’t” list
  • Streamline your home and your head
  • Avoid decision overload

You’ll learn when to “do,” to “delegate,” and to “delete.” And deleting some of the items crowding your thoughts and your desk may be the most important paradigm of all for many of us. You’ll come to recognize that “practice makes good enough,” that perfection isn’t the be-all and end-all. This realization is really liberating.

Dads can particularly benefit from Ms. Caroline’s advice for systemizing, and her supermarket analogy is spot-on: When you go grocery shopping, you put more than one item in your cart at once so you’re not constantly driving back and forth to the store. Get ahead by always thinking, “What can I do now that will make things easier later on?” Batch your tasks, and block out chunks of time for doing them — returning phone calls and e-mails, paying bills, and filing should be done in batches, not piecemeal as the e-mails or bills arrive. Although the second half of the book is devoted to specific spaces in your home, taking control of those spaces isn’t just mom’s work; dads live in those spaces, too. Both Mom and Dad can use the principles in this book for equally effective rethinking of the workplace and the work mentality.

So, with Father’s Day approaching fast and the usual panic setting in about buying yet another necktie, take this message from Caroline’s book to heart: “Last-minute problems are a lot easier to take care of when they aren’t actually happening at the last minute.” Get this book for Dad. Do it now, while you’re thinking about it, so you don’t have a last-minute problem on June 16.

Happy Father’s Day!

Dr. Harley A. Rotbart

Dr. Harley A. Rotbart is Professor and Vice Chairman of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado. He is the author of three books for parents and families, including the recent No Regrets Parenting, a Parents advisor, and a contributor to The New York Times Motherlode blog. Visit his blog at noregretsparenting.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter (@NoRegretsParent).

 

Image: A busy daily schedule book via Shutterstock.

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Celebrate a New Holiday: Monthly Mother’s Day

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

Mother's Day BreakfastEditor’s Note: In a post for an ongoing series, Dr. Harley A. Rotbart, a Parents advisor, will be guest blogging once a month. He will be offering different advice, tips, and personal stories on how parents can “savor the moment” and maximize the time they spend with kids. Read more posts by Harley Rotbart from this series.

First conceived by Julia Ward Howe (the composer of the “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”) in 1870, advocated by Anna Jarvis in 1908, and officially established by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914, Mother’s Day has become a proud American tradition that is now observed in more than 70 countries worldwide. A 2010 study by VIP Communications found that Mother’s Day has the highest phone call traffic of the year, exceeding Valentine’s Day and New Year’s. Another 2010 study, by the Society of American Florists, found that more than one quarter of all floral purchases in the U.S.  each year are for Mother’s Day. Everyone knows everything there is to know about Mother’s Day, and writing about it is a little like writing about love or money or religion: What more can anyone say about it that hasn’t been said? Well, for the first time in the century since it became a national holiday, I think it’s time for a fundamental change to the Mother’s Day ritual. Drum roll, please

From this Mother’s Day forward, I propose that the first Thursday of every month be declared Monthly Mother’s Day. And the third Wednesday of every month shall henceforth be declared Monthly Father’s Day. Every household with a mom gives her special treatment on the first Thursday of the every month, and every household with a dad gives him special treatment on the third Wednesday of every month. Each of these new monthly “‘holidays” gives us 12 additional opportunities to celebrate parenthood with our kids, and 12 times the number of traditions, memories, and family moments.

Why am I not making my new holidays on Sundays? Because weekends are for big traditions, and these are small observances that don’t require a whole day; they can fit into school nights, early bedtimes, and daily routines. These are family traditions that should take little time and no money – they don’t have to involve dinner out, gifts, flowers, or even candy — but they do require a fair amount of thought, something special that isn’t done the other days of the month. One month, give mom the night off after dinner so she can read, take a bath, or watch her favorite show. The next month, cook her favorite dinner. Create a handmade card or hand-painted picture frame for another month. Ditto for dads on their special monthly Wednesdays. Best of all, you still get to celebrate the “real” Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. While we’re at it, why not establish a monthly Kids’ Day, too? Like the second Tuesday of every month. On these days, parents can prepare kids’ favorite meal or dessert, have Scrabble night, or plan a Wii table tennis tournament.

Life is short. The years go by fast. You can never have too many reasons to celebrate each other. And thinking about ways to honor moms, dads, and kids is good for the soul, and good for the whole family. May 12, 2013 may be the “real” Mother’s Day, but the one after that will be coming up soon, so start planning. Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!

Dr. Harley A. Rotbart

Dr. Harley A. Rotbart is Professor and Vice Chairman of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado. He is the author of three books for parents and families, including the recent No Regrets Parenting, a Parents advisor, and a contributor to The New York Times Motherlode blog. Visit his blog at noregretsparenting.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter (@NoRegretsParent).

 

Image: Breakfast for Mother’s Day via Shutterstock.

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A Valentine’s Day Love Letter for Your Child

Monday, February 4th, 2013

Editor’s Note: In a post for an ongoing series, Dr. Harley A. Rotbart, a Parents advisor, will be guest blogging once a month. He will be offering different advice, tips, and personal stories on how parents can “savor the moment” and maximize the time they spend with kids. Read more posts by Harley Rotbart from this series.

I remember when I first held you in my arms and instantly knew how deeply I loved you. You were so tiny and helpless. You knew nothing and depended on me for everything. I was nervous because there was so much to learn and so much to teach. You were a tiny, gorgeous blob of clay. Since that first moment, it has been my joy and privilege to be your sculptor, to shape you into the beautiful child you are today and to continue shaping you into the responsible, moral, and loving adult I pray you will be someday. It’s my job to make you feel happy and loved. To protect, comfort, guide, inspire, and motivate you.  It’s a wonderful job, the best in the world. But it’s a hard job, and sometimes I still get nervous.

There are times when I do or say things that you don’t yet understand, and they upset you. I try to explain but some things will make sense only when you’re older. As a parent, I have to make rules and set limits that may seem unfair. Like when I make you eat vegetables or do homework, when I say something isn’t healthy or something is too expensive, when I tell you it’s bedtime or you’ve had enough TV or you need to clean your room.  You may think I don’t love you when all I do is say “no,” especially on days when it seems like I’m saying it a lot.

My days are very busy, with lots of grown-up things I need to do. Sometimes I have less time and energy to spend with you than either of us would wish. You may think I don’t love you when I’m too tired to play or when an important phone call interrupts us, when I have to work on the weekend, when I have a meeting during your soccer game, or when I come home late or have to leave town. You may think I don’t love you when I say, “I can’t right now,” especially on days when it seems like I’m saying it a lot.

As hard as I try to do things right, sometimes I make mistakes. Grown-ups aren’t perfect. You may think I don’t love you when I lose my temper or raise my voice, when I blame you for something you didn’t do, when I don’t notice the good things you did do, or when I say something that hurts your feelings or embarrasses you.

But I want you to know this: Even during the times when it may seem like I don’t love you, I really do. Very, very much.  With all my heart and soul. I love you more than anything else in the world.

Happy Valentine’s Day, my sweet, wonderful child.

Dr. Harley A. Rotbart

Dr. Harley A. Rotbart is Professor and Vice Chairman of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado. He is the author of three books for parents and families, including the recent No Regrets Parenting, a Parents advisor, and a contributor to The New York Times Motherlode blog. Visit his blog at noregretsparenting.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter (@NoRegretsParent).

 

Image: Red paper envelope with white heart via Shutterstock.

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Find Handmade Gifts at the Etsy Holiday Shop

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

Etsy Holiday Shop - Kids sectionIf you love Etsy.com and you live in the New York area, stop by the Etsy Holiday Shop in SoHo.  Your favorite online marketplace has become a pop-up store featuring a well-curated and wide selection of artisanal and vintage gifts: art, clothes, jewelry, home decor, and paper goods.

You’ll discover thoughtfully displayed items, meet shop owners giving demonstrations of their handmade products, and also learn what unique gifts certain tastemakers (like Martha Stewart and teen blogger Tavi Gevinson) love.  You can also RSVP to free daily events and workshops with limited seating.

Parents.com attended a press preview this morning and couldn’t help falling in love with a variety of baby and kids items: tongue-in-cheek onesies from The Wishing Elephant, Gnome baby dolls from Warm Sugar, fox and bear jumpers from Wild Things Dresses, canvas teepees from House Inhabit, paper mobiles from Gosh & Golly, face pillows from Vintage Jane, and colorful ties and bow ties from Handmade By Emy.  (We even met Emy and learned how she got started making matching tie and and bow tie sets for adults and kids.)

The store lasts for 10 days only, running from Thursday, November 29 through Saturday, December 8.  Hours are 10 am – 10 pm. Even if you’re not in the New York area, visit Etsy.com/HolidayShop to see a list of featured of shops and items to inspire your holiday shopping. (And even if you don’t know what to choose, Etsy gift cards are always available!)

Etsy Holiday Shop - Wild Things Dresses

Etsy Holiday Shop - The Wishing Elephant onesie

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Faves of 2012: LEGO Gets Super

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

As if your kids didn’t already love LEGOs, the brand took the classic toy up another coolness level this year with superhero-inspired bricks. Featuring the most famous good and bad guys, the line includes mini figures, large buildable action figures (like Captain America, pictured here), and even whole play sets devoted to the Marvel/DC universe.  Now your child can assemble his or her hero before saving the world! Click here to check out the toys.

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10 Special Traditions Beyond Thanksgiving

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Mother and daughter in pile of leavesEditor’s Note: In a post for an ongoing series, Dr. Harley A. Rotbart, a Parents advisor, will be guest blogging once a month. He will be offering different advice, tips, and personal stories on how parents can “savor the moment” and maximize the time they spend with kids. Read more posts by Harley Rotbart from this series.

At Thanksgiving time, we are reminded again of how important traditions are in a family’s life and legacy. But many parents express anxiety about how to find the “right” traditions for their family. Should traditions just “evolve,” or should parents consciously establish them? The right answer is do both – allow some traditions to evolve by embracing the activities your kids naturally gravitate toward, and consciously experiment with other traditions to see which ones work within your family dynamic.

There are two secrets to establish lasting family traditions: repetition and anticipation. When you find something that brings out smiles, repeat it on a regular and predictable enough basis that it becomes an ingrained part of the family repertoire. For those traditions that need planning ahead, begin talking about the event days before it occurs to build excitement. Anticipation can be as much fun as the tradition itself.

Traditions come in two sizes: big (national and federal holidays, birthdays, anniversaries,); and small (those unique to your family). Both are important in a family’s legacy, so personalize them with these 10 ideas for creating special traditions:

1- Make the big holidays your own. Serve meals at the homeless shelter on Thanksgiving morning. Play backyard football before Christmas dinner to work up an appetite. Bring flowers to the local military cemetery on Memorial Day or July 4th.

2- Turn birthdays into unique celebrations. Hang balloons in the kitchen the night before so the kids arrive to a party room on their big morning. Eat pancakes for breakfast in mom and dad’s bed. Sing “Happy Birthday” in the most off-key way possible.

3- Double (or quadruple!) the number of birthdays. Serve a cupcake on quarter birthdays and half a cake on half-birthdays. Avoid gifts on these fractional celebrations, and instead focus on laughter, singing, and fun. Add a balloon or two. Celebrate your pets’ birthdays, too!

4- Have monthly Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Give mom a night off from household chores on the first Tuesday of every month, and make a special dinner for her. Do the same for dad on the second Thursday of every month. Pick which day of the month works best for you, but your family will have 22 more “celebrations” each year.

5- Share quirky inside secrets. Make a funny noise in the elevator when it’s just your family taking a ride, or give a whoop every day when the clock strikes your address number (if you live at 920 Elm Lane, cheer at 9:20 every morning and night). Invent a secret family hand shake.

6- Have the same meals for special occasions. Serve Chinese food for every anniversary, Indian food for good report cards, or hot dogs on the opening day of baseball season every year.

7- Get dressed up for a candlelight dinner. Once a month, have everyone wear their best party clothes and eat a fancy meal at home by candlelight. Put on soft music, bring out the good dishes, and use restaurant table manners.

8- Celebrate the first sign of seasons. Have a family leaf fight every fall when the leaves begin to pile up in the yard, go sledding after the first snowfall, eat fruit salad in the garden to celebrate the appearance of the first spring flower, and have a family water fight on the first summer day that reaches 90º.

9- Have family-only activities. Plan a family comedy night or a talent show, make holiday cards from scratch, or write personalized lyrics to an old song and then sing the new composition together.

10- Give back to the community together. Identify a favorite charity and participate in its fundraising each year – walk, run, bike, volunteer, and/or donate.

Try lots of different ideas. There’s no such thing as “failure” – if an idea doesn’t work, you’ve still spent wonderful moments with your kids. Plus, you’ve created unforgettable memories and, perhaps, given them something to tease you about for years to come (“Remember when dad thought it would be fun to have all of us join the “polar bear club” and jump into the lake in December?”)

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Dr. Harley A. Rotbart

Dr. Harley A. Rotbart is Professor and Vice Chairman of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado. He is the author of three books for parents and families, including the recent No Regrets Parenting, a Parents advisor, and a contributor to The New York Times Motherlode blog. Visit his blog at noregretsparenting.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter (@NoRegretsParent).

 

Image: Mother and daughter in autumn yellow park via Shutterstock.

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Win Toys for the Holidays!

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

It’s that time of year again! You know, when Halloween hasn’t happened yet, but you’re already spotting Christmas stuff in stores. To help swing you into the holiday spirit a few months early, we’re giving away a plaything a day from our Best Toys of 2012 guide all month long! That’s right! You’ve got a chance to win a great gift every day to put under your tree! Click here to enter the sweepstakes and see what you can score today, tomorrow, or even next week. Goody luck!

 

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Fun Family Activities for the Fourth of July

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

Have some red, white and blue fun as we celebrate our nation’s independence.  Indulge in some patriotic pastimes like catching a baseball game or eating a tri-color parfait.  Or put together your own mini parade or wave homemade parade batons at your neighborhood celebration.

Check out more Fourth of July activities, crafts, and recipes below.

Fourth of July Activities

Fourth of July Crafts

Fourth of July Recipes

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