Posts Tagged ‘ No Regrets Parenting ’

Fun Ways to Prevent Summer “Brain Freeze”

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

Family playing cardsEditor’s Note: In the first 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.

Children’s brains go to sleep as soon as school ends for summer vacation, and they can hibernate until after school starts again in the fall. While kids need rest and rejuvenation, structured and unstructured play, physically active and tranquil days, and homework-free evenings, the summer “brain freeze” (a.k.a. “summer meltdown” or “summer slide”) can last too long. When resting brains slip into vegetative states defined by TV, video games, Facebook, text messaging marathons, and MP3 hypnosis, it’s time for an intervention.

Fortunately, there is a cure: enrollment at Family Summer University (FSU)! At FSU, there is no tuition and no homework, but there are tests (more like friendly and funny family competitions) every night.

As Dean of FSU, it’s your job to set aside a little time each day to write the quiz questions. Tailor them to the ages and learning levels of your kids, but don’t be limited to school subjects.  Instead, include a wide range of topics: celebrities, cartoon characters, favorite storybooks, sports teams, movies and TV shows, or any other topics that each family member will enjoy.  Fun trivia about Justin Bieber and Jeremy Lin can help camouflage the educational lessons about hypotenuses, homonyms, and Hamlet.  Mix and match questions every night from different subject areas or dedicate different nights of the week to certain subjects.

Look to brain teaser games, flash card sets, home versions of TV quiz shows, the library, the internet, and yes, your kids’ school books, to write your questions. But don’t overdo it — set a maximum of 20 questions per child per day, 10 questions if you have more than three kids! Remember, if you’re asking your 6 year old a tough question for his age, you should also be asking your 12 year old a tough one for her age.

Once your questions are written, gather the kids on the designated FSU campus (it can be the porch, patio, or another comfortable venue that’s preferably outdoors) and let the games begin! A great time for FSU to gather is after dinner because everyone is already together. Play every night or play a few days a week. Add bonus questions, musical prompts, and picture clues to make the game more interesting. Watch as scarce minutes with your kids turn into special moments.

After the answers are given, discuss them with your kids.  Gently explain the questions they missed and have them explain ones they got right. Tally the correct number of answers for each contestant each dayk. At the end of each week, give a prize to the child with the highest score, and then start scoring from scratch the next week.  This way, no one falls so far behind that they have no chance of catching up.  Good “prizes” can be letting the winner choose the DVD on family movie night or the theme for a special dinner night.  At the end of the summer, have an FSU “graduation” ceremony with cardboard caps, bed sheet gowns, and colorful paper diplomas. Then, make sure to go for ice cream!

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 and follow him on Facebook and Twitter (@NoRegretsParent).

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Harley Rotbart, M.D. Introduces New Book: ‘No Regrets Parenting’

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

When it comes to parenting, I think the majority of moms and dads wish they could enjoy a little more good old fashioned quality time with their kids. However, given the numerous directions most parents are pulled in on any given day, these opportunities can oftentimes get lost in the shuffle. Until now. One of our Parents Advisory Board members and Professor and Vice Chairman of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Harley Rotbart, M.D., has written a new book with hundreds of little ways parents can make everyday moments special. I’ll turn it over to him to explain further: has been kind enough to allow me to share a few words about my “No Regrets” approach to parenting, and tell you about the new book, No Regrets Parenting – Turning Long Days and Short Years into Cherished Moments with Your Kids (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2012). I’m a pediatrician, Professor and Vice Chair of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado, where I’ve practiced for the past 30 years.

Each day with young kids can feel like a week, and each week like a month. But as every new birthday passes, childhood seems to streak by at warp speed. “No Regrets Parenting” is a fresh, commonsense approach to time management for those of you who shudder at the thought of your kids growing up too fast, leaving for college, becoming young adults before you’ve had a chance to fully experience their childhood. 

 NRP is not like other “time management strategies” that are geared for efficiency with kids rather than for intimacy with them, for organizing rather than optimizing time with your kids. How to get everything done is not the same as how to make the time with your kids meaningful and memorable. NRP is about capturing the precious moments of parenting that otherwise are lost in the name of efficiency.  It will show you how to transform the mundane and exhausting routines of parenthood into special parenting events. Car pool, bath time, soccer practice, homework, dinner hour, and sleepovers can all become more than just obligations – they can be opportunities, for intimate quality time with young kids. NRP teaches parents the important difference between minutes and moments. It’s not how much time you have with your kids, but how you spend the time you have that matters in the life and legacy of a young family. NRP helps you find the time to feel good about your kids’ childhood – and still get it all done!

 As a pediatrician, I am privileged to observe best parenting practices but, unfortunately, I have also witnessed parenting strategies that aren’t working. Too many sad stories from parents whose careers and adult responsibilities so overwhelmed their lives they felt as if they had missed knowing their kids. Childhood had gone by too quickly. Parents wishing they could do it over again, re-prioritize. Parents with profound regrets. 

NRP is for busy parents in our busy times. So there will be no regrets.

The days are long, but the years are short. And now is the time.

No Regrets Parenting is available as of today, 2/21/2012, in bookstores everywhere, and at all online book vendors (you can buy it here). The book will be excerpted in the March issue of Parents. Also, see the blog, follow the tweets and share No Regrets Parenting Facebook posts, all linked at

More related features on positive parenting:

7 Ways to Raise a Well-Rounded Kid

The 6 Best Gifts You Can Give Kids Without Spending Money

Find Your Happy Parent Place

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