Monday, May 2, 2016

One Day Left for the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle

I have been a stay-at-home mom for almost 7 years now, but I still don't feel that I have completely mastered by "job." I think many stay-at-home parents feel the same way. I'm always looking for resources or ideas for improving how I organize and manage my home.

If you feel the same way, you might want to take a look at the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle. It's a bundle of resources that include ebooks (including Kindle compatible), printables, and bonus offers from great companies. In addition to the typical topics like Recipes and Organizing, it also includes topics to help make your life more well-rounded like Faith and Self-Care. I just downloaded the whole set myself and I've been reading non-stop ever since.

It's only available for one more day, so check it out!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

When Do Babies Become Social?

As a parent you will probably never forget that moment, when your baby was around six weeks old, when he or she smiled at you for the first time. It melted your heart, I'm sure. This is the first sign of our children's social nature taking hold. But how do social skills develop in children over time in the brain?

Thanks to new technology, we are beginning to understand more about how the social and motor development of infants and young children are closely linked. I'm guest posting over at Notes on Parenting today discussing this topic more. It's a fascinating topic and ties in well to recent discussions in education about the role of play and physical activity. Even in later years, connections between social, motor, and cognitive development are still influencing the ongoing process of growth.

These are the topics that make child development so fascinating!

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Encouragement in the Face of a #MomFail Culture

In an era of Pinterest-perfect playrooms and social pressures to be the "perfect mom," it is easy to feel that you do not measure up as a mom. We have all had the days where the dishes are piled up at the end of the day, laundry and toys are scattered all over the house, and the list goes on and on.

We live in a culture where feeling bad about yourself, especially as a mother, is almost a badge of (dis)honor. This #momfail culture may seem like a joke at first glance, but these little comments and self-deprecating humor can take a toll on your confidence as a mother. Although you may shake it off, deep down it feels a little truer than you wish it did. I feel strongly that we, as mothers, should try to combat these feelings of failure so we can be the best version of ourselves for our children.

If this sounds even remotely familiar, you need to know two things:
  1. You are not a failure. Most of us feel this way far more than we ever admit.
  2. All the ways you failed?  How awful you did today or last week? It’s just not true. You’re doing better than you think.
I’ve had these sorts of days myself, and it’s precisely because I get it that I’m so excited to point you in the direction of this brand new (and free) video series created by two moms who have lived their fair share of #momfail days.
Stephanie and Beth are not only popular bloggers, but they’re also moms in the trenches. They’ve got 8 kids and almost 20 years of mothering experience between them.

They also understand and have the deepest compassion for moms who are working so hard, but still hitting the pillow at night with a heavy heart and tear-stained face, because they feel like they’re failing at one of the most important things they’ll ever do in their lives.

And so they’ve put together an honest, candid and encouraging series of three videos just for moms. It’s called “The Truth About #MomFail Culture: 10 Things You Need to Hear on the Hard Days”.

It won’t solve all your problems, and much as they wish they could, they can’t reach through the computer and fold that pile’o’laundry for you. But we can all benefit from a fresh perspective and encouragement from someone who really gets it.

Each video is short – around 10 minutes, and you can watch it on any sort of device and whenever you’ve got a few spare minutes.

To watch the video series, just click this link and enter your name and email to sign up. You’ll get access to the first video today, and then one per day after that.

*This post contains affiliate links

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Research Examines the Link Between "Difficult" Child Behavior and iPad Use

Have you ever handed your iPad or phone to your kid when he/she is fussy? What about when they are having a full-blown tantrum? I'm sure many of us have done this. It's probably not our proudest parenting moment, but it happens.

What if this was a common (almost daily) occurrence in your family? What do you think the effect of this would have on your child? These are all questions that researchers are beginning to explore. The the rapid onset of tablets and other forms of technology that parents can carry with them anywhere, the effects of this technology on children is becoming more relevant.

In a recent study, researchers examined a small sample (144 children) of toddlers ages 15-36 months and their parents (primarily mothers). The study illustrated that children who rated higher on a measure of social-emotional difficulties were more likely to be given a mobile device (iPad or phone) as a calming device, compared to other children.

Now, let's consider a few aspects of this study that help us interpret these findings.

- First, while the authors tried their best to tease about the causal link here, we do not know for sure what the causal order is in this situation. We do not know for sure if the child's difficult behavior is making it more likely for the parent to give them an iPad or if perhaps frequent use of an iPad is causing the difficult behavior.

- Secondly, the sample used in this study is quite small (144). This means that this finding is not necessarily generalizable to a general population.

- Lastly, the parents who were more likely to hand over an iPad as a calming device were those who rated themselves as having less control and more frustration with their child's behavior.

Perhaps more importantly, however, is the fact that this sample is made up of low-income families. From a social science perspective, we know that low-income families tend to be under more stress. If you are struggling to make ends meet, you tend to be stressed, perhaps distracted or not sleeping as well as you could be otherwise. Under such conditions, it is easy to understand why some of these parents found the iPad as the calming device of choice when their children behave in difficult ways.

In addition to stress, some of these parents felt like they have little ability to control their child's behavior. Maybe this has to do with the stress or maybe other unseen factors are at play. We cannot understand all the factors from this one study.

To me, what this study points to is a scenario that might be not so uncommon in many homes: a mom is working many hours just to be able to pay the rent, she is stressed and is trying to care for a toddler who may have behavioral problems or may just be a typical challenging toddler. As she faces yet another tantrum from her toddler, she hands over the iPad to calm him/her because she simply doesn't have the energy to deal with another breakdown.

Does this sound realistic? We do not know for sure what is happening in homes everyday, but studies like this give us a little insight. This study makes me feel even more strongly about the need for programs and support for all parents, but especially low-income parents. Parenting is a hard job and the added stresses of financial struggle can only make it harder. We need to support and encourage parents to interact with their children in ways that will support their development in positive ways.

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