Posts By: Guest Blogger

Screen Free Week – May 5-11

When I mentioned Screen-Free Week to my 12 year-old son, his response was “Are you kidding me? That’s like Earth Hour BUT FOR A WHOLE WEEK!” The hardest part of Earth Hour for him isn’t turning out the lights (Flashlights and candles? Awesome!) It’s about no Netflix or X-Box. Playing board games by candlelight is fun, but about the 45-minute mark everyone, including us grown-ups, is sneaking a peek at the clock (see My Plugged-In Family).

In our house, we’re going to try and modify Screen-Free Week and make it Screen-REDUCTION Week.

Here’s the plan:

1) Estimate CURRENT Screen Time. Check in with family members in advance, and ask everyone to ballpark how much time they spend on screens daily.

2) Monitor Screen Time BEFORE Screen-Free Week. Ask everyone to keep track of their screen time for a few days to see how realistic their estimate was. Make it like The Price Is Right and have a small prize for whoever makes the most accurate guess. Even if it’s an astonishing amount of time, at least they’re aware! Baby steps.

3) “But I’ll have nothing to do!” Brainstorm some ideas of things to do together as a family instead of all being on separate screens, as well as some individual activities. Board games? Bike ride? Family hike? Curling up with a book? Cleaning their room? Yeah, sneak that one in; it’s worth a shot.

4) Get commitments. Ask everyone to pick a goal, either time-based or otherwise, and WRITE IT DOWN. Our son has already committed to live without his X-box for the entire week. Have some kind of incentive for whoever achieves their goal. I’m totally motivated by rewards; my prize could be relaxing and reading magazines for a whole hour! Have the kids figure out what their reward will be, encouraging them to think of ones that cost very little, if anything.

5) Have Fun! This doesn’t have to be a torturous week. Have your list of alternative activities handy. Make some Screen-Free signs with the kids and post them as little reminders (reduces the nag factor).

6) Follow-Up. After the week, sit down with everyone and find out how it went. Was it difficult? Easier than you thought? What were the positive things that happened? Will it change your behaviour moving forward?

Will you be participating in Screen-Free Week? Any ideas to share? Come back and leave a comment and let us know how it went!

 

About the Author:

Karen Pearson is one of the friendly voices you’ll hear on the other end of the phone when calling Customer Service at Mabel’s Labels. She enjoys writing about her family, which includes a husband, 3 kids and a rescue dog from Greece.

From Catastrophe to Connection

Guest post by Karen Pearson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few days ago, my16-year-old daughter emerged from our finished basement with an incredible 18” x 24” acrylic-on-canvas portrait she’d been working on. I was so impressed with what she’d accomplished and made sure to let her know. I was less impressed three days later when I went downstairs to throw a load of laundry in, and saw huge lines and blobs of acrylic paint all over the red microfiber couch.

I’d say that I was so angry I literally saw red, but in reality what I saw was various shades of white and black ALL OVER the red furniture. Of course, I did what any enraged mom would do…I texted her.  I managed to keep it Vulcan-like and matter-of-fact.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a quick “cleaning acrylic paint off microfiber” Google search, I headed to the basement armed with a few rags and some rubbing alcohol. My daughter came down to check out the damage, apologetically explaining how she had already tried to get the paint out.  “That’s okay, we can work on this together”, I said, while tossing her a rag.  She suggested that while we gently dabbed away, we may as well watch TV, and turned on one of her favourite shows, “Best Ink”. In case you’ve never watched it, it’s a reality competition series that follows a group of tattoo artists through various challenges. They have their work critiqued by celebrity tattoo artist judges, with the hopes of being the contestant with the “Best Ink” and winning a pile of money.

My daughter knows I’m not a huge fan of full body tattoos (“But what if you have a job interview? Or you’re going to a wedding?”). What happened during the next 44 minutes was amazing. It opened up discussions on talent, creativity, individualism, sexism, beauty, judgment, “reality” shows and competition. We talked about the different personalities on the show and how there’s always one person made out to be the one that everyone is supposed to hate.  We talked about expression and style and how great it is when people discover their passion and work hard at their art. I learned about Kat Von D Lock-It Tattoo Concealer, which was the answer to my job interview and wedding concerns.

My daughter knows she’ll have to wait until she’s old enough to get tattoos since I’m not going to be signing any consent forms, but for those 44 minutes we really bonded over something that’s important to her and it was a beautiful thing.  Today, she suggested we start watching Best Ink together on a regular basis and I’m all for it. Miraculously, we got all that paint out, but even if we hadn’t, I’d still be grateful for the opportunity it gave me to connect with my daughter and get into her teenage world for a bit.

Have you had an unexpected bonding moment with your child? Turned a bad situation into an awesome one?

 

About the Author:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Karen Pearson is one of the friendly voices you’ll hear on the other end of the phone when calling Customer Service at Mabel’s Labels. She enjoys writing about her family, which includes a husband, 3 kids and a rescue dog from Greece.

The Great Baby Dilemma

The PANK Perspective (Professional Aunt, No Kids) – by Diane Morris

I’m almost 32 and am not a Mom.

I’m a proud Aunt of two boys (4 y/o & 5mths), and I love them more than I thought I could ever love anyone. I love them in a way that is different than how I love my boyfriend, my parents, or their father; who is my brother. The unconditional, twinkle in your eye kind of love I have for them makes me question the unbelievable amount of love parents must have for their own children. If I love my nephews the way that I do, why is it then that I wonder…do I or don’t I become a parent?

My Mom was a stay-at-home Mom until I was about 10. I would walk home from school at lunch to a prepared meal. I’d get help with my homework before Dad came home for dinner. We’d sing songs, make crafts and play games. I looked up to my Mom and told myself that I would be just like her when I was grown. I’d be a Mom.

In my mid-twenties, I met a boy, got engaged and bought a house. We set a date for the wedding and I talked about a honeymoon baby. I wanted to have our first child before I was 30. As our engagement progressed, our relationship digressed. We called off the wedding 2 months before the big day.

For 3 years I was on my own. I started a business. I bought a house. I was an independent woman enjoying the freedom that comes with having responsibilities that only pertain to yourself. Then, I met a boy. My boyfriend and I have known each other for 13 years; I was best friends with his sister in High School. We’ve talked about marriage and kids – but in the same way people talk about what they’d do with their lotto winnings. If we had kids, we’d have to do this. If we had kids, we couldn’t do that. If we had kids, our money would go here, not there. If, if, if…

I’m told I’d be a great Mom. I like children, but I also cringe when I hear a baby crying or a toddler yelling while grocery shopping. I like children, but I love being able to sleep in, have mid-afternoon naps and stay up late indulging in bad tv. I like children, but I like my tidy and organized home, the silence that a new day brings and being able to run errands whenever the mood strikes.

So, I ask myself almost on a daily basis…do I or don’t I become a parent? Some people I know tell me they couldn’t wait to have kids, others tell me that they changed the moment they knew they were pregnant and others say they had no purpose in life before becoming a parent. So, is that it then, I have no purpose until I become a Mom?

Having a child will change my life forever. Will it cause me to give up the things I like? Wreak havoc on my relationship? Cause me to regret taking the leap? Sometimes I think that since I’m not 100% sure if I want children, then that should be my warning sign not to. But, then I’m afraid that if I don’t, I’ll miss out on all of the experiences that come from being a parent. Have I become so set in my ways that I have forgotten the image of my happily-ever-after of a husband and kids, or have I simply changed and am no longer that person?

There’s no ‘right time’ to have a baby – this I have heard many, many times. So, how do you know if you should be a parent or not? Do you just do it and plunge head first into the world of diapers, sleeplessness and vomit and hope for the best? How do you know if you should be a Mom?

The Great Baby Dilemma continues.

 

About the Author:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diane Morris is a PANK; Professional Aunt, No Kids and works for Mabel’s Labels as the Sales Coordinator. She’s an Aunt to two boys, and an “Auntie” to her boyfriend’s niece and nephew. She’s a sucker for romance, country music and peanut butter.

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