Posts Tagged ‘ Holidays ’

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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Parents Daily News Roundup

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

Goody Blog Daily News Roundup

Nearly One in Three Children With Food Allergies Experience Bullying, Survey Shows
Nearly a third of children diagnosed with food allergies who participated in a recent study are bullied, according to researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Almost eight percent of children in the U.S. are allergic to foods such as peanuts, tree-nuts, milk, eggs, and shellfish. (via ScienceDaily)

Obesity Declining in Young, Poorer Kids: Study
The number of low-income preschoolers who qualify as obese or “extremely obese” has dropped over the last decade, new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show. (via Reuters)

Four Typical Holiday Money Fights–And How to Avoid Them
Fights about money are already the most common source of discord among American couples throughout the year, triggering an average of three arguments per month according to a recent study by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AIPCA). Add some financial pressure to the holiday mix, and the good cheer can quickly turn to bickering. (via Time)

Gene Variants Affect Pain Susceptibility in Children
At least two common gene variants are linked to “clinically meaningful” differences in pain scores in children after major surgery, reports a study in the January issue of Anesthesia & Analgesia, official journal of the International Anesthesia Research Society (IARS). (via ScienceDaily)

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28 Acts of Kindness—for Sandy Hook

Friday, December 21st, 2012

Last week’s tragedy left so many of us drowning in sorrow and feeling helpless to do much about it. What on earth could we do to make things better, when confronted with such an overwhelmingly sad event? It’s not like Hurricane Sandy, when you could pitch in to help a neighbor clean out their home, or donate toward helping those who lost so much rebuild. There’s nothing we can do to help the families affected in Sandy Hook get back what was lost.

And that’s when I read about Ann Curry’s brilliant plan—to accomplish acts of kindness in honor of those who died. Many people are doing 26 kindnesses, for the children and teachers who died at the school. Others are including Nancy Lanza, the mother of the shooter who also lost her life. I’m choosing 28, in part because there can’t be enough kindness in the world, and in part because I believe strongly that Adam was a victim of his own, untreated mental illness.

I’m hoping to accomplish all of my 28 in the next week, before the new year…and I’m drawing inspiration from the Twitter feed #26ActsofKindness. So far, I’ve managed four:

1. Sent an extra gift and a heartfelt note to my daughters’ teachers (we already went in on group gifts for them with the rest of the class).

2. Donated to Toys for Tots in honor of the students of Sandy Hook.

3. Hosting a friend’s daughters over for the afternoon, after her regular babysitter fell through.

4. Left a Starbucks gift card and a note on a random car in our school’s teacher parking lot.

(Actually, I could kind of count #5, which was—against my better judgement—caving and getting an Elf on the Shelf for my daughters, who have been begging for one all week. Because basically, this week, I’d probably get them a pony if they asked.)

Imagine if we all committed to doing just a few acts of kindness this week…maybe it would become a habit. Let me know if you’re on board—and share your  ideas for sharing the love.

Photo: Margaret M Stewart /Shutterstock.com

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Participate in Secret Sandy This Holiday to Aid Hurricane Victims

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

One month after Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast, many families are still struggling to recuperate from the damages they suffered from the storm.

To help, two women (Joy Huang and Kimberley Berdy) launched Secret Sandy, a Secret Santa-type endeavor for affected families who need extra help this holiday season.

Children and their families can register on the site and write letters to Secret Sandy with their wish lists, which will be sent to registered people who wish to donate. This is one example of a letter by a 3-year-old boy from Gerritsen Beach, N.Y.:

When we were hit by Hurricane Sandy, I was so scared.

The first thing I thought was the water was coming in my house fast.

When Hurricane Sandy was over, all I saw was all my toys broken. All I felt was sadness.

For the past few weeks, we have been living in different places & now a hotel.


The thing that I miss most is my Thomas & friends scooter & Thomas trains.


The one thing I really want for the holidays is to be back home, in my own room. 

To get a Secret Sandy or to give a gift, register today at SecretSandy.org. To read letters and receive more information, check out Secret Sandy on Facebook and Twitter.

Image: Pile of gift boxes of various colors isolated on white background, via Shutterstock

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Nancy O’Dell Releases “Little Ashby: Star Reporter” App for Kids

Friday, November 30th, 2012

Little Ashby Star Reporter - SantaThis time of year can put children’s (and parents’) patience to the test — long trips in the car to visit family, seemingly endless shopping lines. Make the most of the time your kids will spend waiting with a fun new educational app, Little Ashby: Star Reporter.

Created by Parents’ celebrity correspondent and Entertainment Tonight co-host Nancy O’Dell and developed by StoryChimes, the app is an interactive storybook that allows children to follow TV reporter Ashby (named after Nancy’s daughter) and her crew on exciting assignments.

Ashby’s first job? To interview Santa! Children will love joining Ashby on her journey to the North Pole. Along the way, they’ll learn educational facts, values, and morals that will be reinforced with engaging activities and games.

Little Ashby: Star Reporter – Santa’s Big Premiere is available on Apple devices now for $2.99. A portion of the proceeds for the app will go to the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) in honor of Bryson Foster, MDA’s 2012 National Goodwill Ambassador and the voice of Arty, the little cameraman, in the app.

Remember to keep an eye out for more adventures with Ashby and her crew in the new year!

Read more from Nancy O’Dell on Parents.com:

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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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