T is for Technology #AtoZChallenge

For the A to Z Challenge, I have chosen the theme of antagonists.

On my normal blogging days, Monday – parenting and Thursday – writing/publishing, I will tie that day’s topic to antagonists but on the other days (Tuesday, Friday and Saturday), I will write about antagonists from movies, TVs or books. On Wednesdays, my Quote of the Week will be from an antagonist that matches the letter of the day. Enjoy.

We live in a high-tech world. Yes, today is the letter T, and I am talking about technology. Now there are many wonderful things about technology – all the data available at our fingertips, it can be time saving and allows us to see and learn easily about far-off places. However, in the spirit of keeping with the antagonist theme, technology also can be a bad thing.

Studies have shown that using technology changes how a child’s developing brain works. While there are good things (learning and multi-tasking), there are just as many bad things about technology. Kids spend up to seven hours a day using cell phones, video games, MP3 players and computers. They do this instead of interacting with others (learning social skills or gaining empathy) or doing physical activity (which can lead to obesity).

Technology can shorten attention spans and affect children’s ability to fall asleep leading to tired children.

Studies have also shown that it decreases children’s ability to remember facts. They may know how to look it up online, but they don’t retain what they researched (probably because they know they can look it up again when they need to.)

And this doesn’t even get into the cyber-bullying or the fear that kids will share too much personal information online.

Yes, technology certainly comes with a cost. But if we understand that cost, we can do things to minimize it by monitoring our children’s use of technology and establishing guidelines for its use. There can be a happy balance between playing video games and watching YouTube videos and just allowing children to play and use their imagination.

And in case you want to check out my other antagonists from the challenge…

A is for Apocalypse

B is for Bad Boys (parenting)

C is for Cruella de Vil

D is for Darth Vader (Quote)

D is for To Die for Cake (Recipe)

E is for Evil (Writing)

F is for Freddy Kruger

G is for Gollum

H is for High School (parenting)

I is for Iron Monger

J is for Jafar (Quote)

K is for Killers (Writing)

L is for Loki

M is for Maleficent

N is for No (parenting)

O is for Oggie Boogie

P is for Professor Moriarty (Quote)

Q is for Questions (Writing)

R is for the Riddler

S is for Sauron 

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N is for No #AtoZChallenge

For the A to Z Challenge, I have chosen the theme of antagonists.

On my normal blogging days, Monday – parenting and Thursday – writing/publishing, I will tie that day’s topic to antagonists but on the other days (Tuesday, Friday and Saturday), I will write about antagonists from movies, TVs or books. On Wednesdays, my Quote of the Week will be from an antagonist that matches the letter of the day. Enjoy. 

No, No, No. Today is the letter N which is for the word No, the arch nemesis of every toddler.

“No, don’t touch that.”

“No, stop pulling the kitty’s tail.”

“No, you can’t watch more Blue’s Clues.”

Parents often play the antagonist to a toddler’s fun. The ever-watching parent is of course just trying to keep their child safe, but a toddler won’t see it the same way. There is this person who at times cuddles with them, but at other times makes them do things they don’t want to – take a nap, eat something other than cookies, and takes away all the cool things they find.

Of course, for the parents, they might see it as the opposite way. Every time they ask their precious little toddler to do something, they hear his or her favorite word – No!

“Time for bed, Susie.”

“No, no, no!”

“Let’s put on your shoes, Tommy.”

“No! I don’t wanna!”

So it seems the all-powerful word “No” can be the tool of either the protagonist or antagonist of your household.

And in case you want to check out my other antagonists from the challenge…

A is for Apocalypse

B is for Bad Boys (parenting)

C is for Cruella de Vil

D is for Darth Vader (Quote)

D is for To Die for Cake (Recipe)

E is for Evil (Writing)

F is for Freddy Kruger

G is for Gollum

H is for High School (parenting)

I is for Iron Monger

J is for Jafar (Quote)

K is for Killers (Writing)

L is for Loki

M is for Maleficent

U is for Unselfish #AtoZChallenge

For the A to Z Challenge, I have chosen the theme of characters. On my normal blogging days, Monday – parenting, Wednesday – quotes, and Thursday – writing/publishing, I will focus on characteristics. On the other days (Tuesday, Friday and Saturday), I will write about characters from movies, TVs or books.

Today on the A to Z blogging challenge, the letter is U. On Mondays, I typically write about a parenting issue so for the letter U, I chose teaching your children to be Unselfish.

It is a natural impulse for children to think and act selfishly. We come into this world hard-wired to look out for ourselves. You can see it as early as the toddler years when everything is “mine!” It is never too early to start on promoting sharing! You can explain that it is “nice” for now and leave the reasons for later.

Teaching your child to be unselfish is an important one if you want them to relate well with others. Here are a few tips for working toward this goal.

1.) Model Good Behavior – Children learn by example. If they see their parents acting compassionately toward others, they will repeat that behavior.

2.) Point Out Examples – Watch for and point out examples of other people exhibiting unselfish behavior such as stopping what they are doing to answer question or sharing what they have.

3.) Praise – When you notice your child being unselfish, point it out and praise them. It can be even something as small as letting a friend have the last cookie even though they wanted it.

Remember, being unselfish does not come naturally. It must be taught!

If you missed the other days in the A to Z Challenge:

A is for Alice

B is for Belgarath 

C is for Cautious Child

D is for Dana Scully

E is for Enthusiasm (Quote) and Southwestern Eggrolls (Recipe)

F is for Flaky Character 

G is for Gandalf 

H is for Huckleberry Finn

I is for Independence 

J is for Jason Bourne

K is for Kind (Quote)

L is for Lazy Characters

M is for Merlin

N is for Nancy Clancy

O is for Organized

P is for Puss in Boots

Q is for Quiet

R is for Rebellious Characters

S is for Sherlock Holmes

T is for Thor

I is for Independence #AtoZChallenge

For the A to Z Challenge, I have chosen the theme of characters. On my normal blogging days, Monday – parenting, Wednesday – quotes, and Thursday – writing/publishing, I will focus on characteristics. On the other days (Tuesday, Friday and Saturday), I will write about characters from movies, TVs or books.

Funky capital I

Funky capital I

Today on the A to Z blogging challenge, the letter is I. On Mondays, I typically write about a parenting issue so for the letter I, I chose Independence – as instilling independence in your child.

Our job as parents is to love, nurture and protect our children while guiding them into become responsible adults. It is often too easy for us to want to do things for our kids rather than letting them do it themselves.

Yes, it may be faster to tie your kids’ shoelaces. But if you don’t take the time to show them how to do it themselves and let them practice (even if it takes them four times longer to do it than if you did it), then they will never learn to do it.

The same applies with chores. Children may take longer and not do as good a job as a parent, but they need to learn. And they only will learn by being given the opportunity to do it themselves.

So instead of doing it for them or jumping in to help, wait to be asked for help and then instead of doing it for them, show them how to do it.  After that stand back and let them do it. Allow them to make mistakes and figure out how to fix those mistakes. Yes, you can offer guidance but resist rushing into help or do it for them. Remember it is all in the name of letting them grow, learn and become independent.

If you missed the other days in the A to Z Challenge:

A is for Alice

B is for Belgarath 

C is for Cautious Child

D is for Dana Scully

E is for Enthusiasm (Quote) and Southwestern Eggrolls (Recipe)

F is for Flaky Character 

G is for Gandalf 

H is for Huckleberry Finn

The necessity of Date Nights (or spending time together) for parents

Marriages take work. No one tells you that when you get married. There are compromises and fights along with the good times. And one thing that a couple needs to do – whether they have kids or not – is to continue dating.

OK, so maybe you don’t call it dating after you are married. But you spend time together much as you did when you were dating. You go to the Home and Garden show. You go out to lunch and a movie. You go shopping for new furniture. The point is you spend time together.

But too often when a couple has a child, gone are the hours spent alone together. A baby changes all of that as you adjust to life with this little creature who demands so much of your time.

In order to maintain your relationship as a spouse, you need to make time for your significant other. It is too easy to just get caught up in daily life and sometime neglect the connection you have with your spouse.

Before Jase was born, my husband and I could eat whenever (and wherever) we wanted. We could go to the store at the drop of a hat. But when Jase was born, some of that spontaneity was gone. No longer could we just jump in the car and go. There were supplies and a stroller to grab. And there was the baby’s eating and napping schedule to take into account.

As time progressed, we added Lexie to the mix. And while our spontaneity died down, we still made time for an occasional date night and let the grandparents watch the kids as we headed off to the holiday office party or a Spurs basketball game.

But now that the kids are in elementary school, more time is consumed with their activities, and evenings have given way to homework and bedtime schedules. And in this mix, it seems our date nights have been reduced to almost zero.

The need to spend time as a couple and nurture our relationship is of course just as important now. So my husband and I have become committed to actually planning some dates. Many times we meet for lunch while the kids are at school, and we don’t have to find a babysitter. But there is still the need to get away in the evenings or on the weekend.

Recently, we spent our time away from the kids researching some home-improvement projects we want to do to the house. No it wasn’t a romantic afternoon, but it was nice to be able to sit in a restaurant and talk without interruption.

I have been trying to keep my eyes open for events around town that we can try out – the comedy club, a weekend festival, a concert or convention that might interest us. In fact, we just bought tickets for a Broadway Across America show, Kinky Boots, that will be in San Antonio in January. We also plan to hit a few Spurs games in the next couple of months.

I definitely can see the benefit of spending time together. We get to reconnect and focus on our marriage. We get a break from our kids because as much as we love them, it is nice to have some time away from them even if it is only for an evening.

Keeping your cool as a parent #AtoZChallenge

KKids can be great but there is always a time when they bring out the worse in adults. They know just how to push your buttons until you want to scream. I am not typically the one to keep my cool, but I am working on it. Here are some tips that might let you do the same.

Pick Your Battles

Sometimes papicky eaterrents seem to want to control every aspect of their kids’ lives. They tell them what to wear or pick the sports or other activities such as dance or piano for them to participate in. But it is easier (and more fun for the kids) to let them have a say in the activities that they do. And does it matter if their clothes don’t match? As long as their choices are within reason (such as dress code rules, age appropriate, budget restraints), then go along with it and don’t bother them about it.

You need to decide which issues you can let go and which ones you want to stick to your guns about. Not everything is within your control.

Plan Ahead

It is helpful to know which areas – such as trip to the store – might bring up problems. Perhaps you know that your child will beg for a new toy/snack or be bored after a few minutes. If you know this, you can either divert their attention or at the very least plan out what you will do when they behave in a way you don’t want. Thinking of your plan of action ahead of time is much easier to do than while you are in the midst of aisle 3 of the supermarket.

Understand the reason for your child’s actions

Sometimes realizing why your kids are acting the way they are – Johnny is overtired or Jenny has a crush on a boy in her class – can help you maintain your cool. When Johnny is on the verge of a meltdown, you can work on taking him out of the stimulating atmosphere for some quiet time (or a nap). Understanding Jenny’s crush can give you more patience as she tries on her third outfit of the morning. If you know James is immersed in building his Lego structure, it could explain why he didn’t stop working on it right away just because dinner is on the table.

Many parents lose their cool because they assume the kids are being intentionally disrespectful or are trying to annoy us when that could be completely untrue.

Know the Triggers

Kids learn that certain words or actions can send parents into a rage – and when they succeed, you as a parent lose. You are no longer in charge when you give away the power. The key to staying calm is to recognize when your kids are trying to push your button and get a reaction out of you. Avoid the trap by not over-reacting or if possible, not reacting at all.

If you do find yourself screaming, threatening or bribing your child, the most important step to regaining your cool is to recognize that you’ve lost it. You need to stop before you do or say something that you will regret. Often when you lose your temper, the original problem is forgotten and goes unsolved.

If you lose your temper

If you feel like you are losing control, sometimes the best answer is to remove yourself from the situation and cool down. Take some deep breaths while you remind yourself not to overreact. Concentrate on how you can best handle the situation in a positive way. It also might help to talk to someone else – a friend, partner, or neighbor – to gain a different perspective.

Later, don’t be afraid to admit to your child that you were wrong and what you will do differently next time.

Hopefully these tips can help you next time you’re about to lose your cool while dealing with your kids.

What do you do in your spare time?

Any stay-at-home mom will have received this question at some point in time. I am sure they have laughed at the person asking the question. Spare time? What is that?

As a stay-at-home parent, there is no such thing as spare time. Raising kids and taking care of a household really is a full-time job. Even after the kids start attending elementary school, your days can be filled with tons of activities to get done – grocery shopping (heavenly without the kids), errands (again, oh so wonderful without having to always be watching your little one) and volunteering at their school.

As most of you know, in my spare time, I am a blogger and an author. In addition to that, I do the bookkeeping for my husband’s (sole practitioner) law firm. And I am treasurer for the elementary parent-teacher association. And last week I announced my latest endeavor- a birthday invitation store on Etsy where I design custom printable invitations.

Spare time? What is that?

Of course, with all these activities, it isn’t to say that I am always doing something “work” related – though sometimes it feels that way. In fact, lately, I have been extremely busy with my Etsy store starting and the release of my latest book – The Heir to Alexandria (which comes out tomorrow). But I do get some downtime.

In my downtime, I love to read. And I am the type of reader that authors love because I get pulled into the story and have a hard time putting it down. This is so much of a problem that I can’t read in the daytime, or I would never get any writing done.

Of course, if I am not reading, my other evening activity (after the kids are asleep) is watching a few TV shows. As parents, my husband and I never get to watch anything when it actually airs. Thankfully, we have a DVR. (Yeah! We get to skip the commercials!)

Once Upon aTime promo image.jpgThere are three shows that we watch together which all seem appropriate for a fantasy writer as they are all superhero-based shows. (Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Arrow, and The Flash). Another good show for a fantasy author is Once Upon a Time. I love that show but so far can’t get hubby to watch it with me.

I also watch N.C.I.S., Criminal Minds and Suits. I know the channels are filled with “reality” TV shows and contest shows but those have never appealed to me. I do, however, like to watch Top Chef and any of its Masters variations. I don’t know why this show appeals to me as I am not a foodie. But I have been watching it since season 3.

BigBangTheoryTitleCard.pngThis fall I added a comedy to the shows I watch. I need a little bit of escapism and some laughter, so I turned to The Big Bang Theory. After my husband saw that I liked it, he bought me seasons 1-7 on DVD in November. It didn’t take me long to get all caught up. Awesome show!

And of course, as a fan of the San Antonio Spurs, I try to catch a game here and there. I use to watch pretty much all of their games, but now I don’t usually get to sit down and watch a whole game all that often. (We also use to have a partial season ticket package which ensured I would actually get to GO to 10 games a season. Gee I miss that. Maybe we will do that again next year.)

So, there is the answer to what I do in my spare time – what little I have of it.