Posts By: Guest Blogger

My Plugged-In Family

I have a serious love/hate relationship with technology in our home.

It started with Nintendo Wii. The big sell was that we’d be active, play together and have fun belting out tunes with Rock Band.  It was the gateway to Play Station 2, then X-Box, then Netflix and binge watching, not to mention computers, cell phones and iPods! AHHHH! Our kids tease my husband and I about being on our laptops in the same room playing Scrabble (sometimes with each other).  Sometimes it hits me how disconnected from each other this technology is making us and I try to figure out how to get us all to step back.

But, it’s not all bad. Here are some of the positive things:

1)      Texting – A lot of our texts to our teens look the same “I’m here!” “Leaving in 5 minutes!” “Dinner!” (We live in a tall skinny house, so it reduces the yelling and stair climbing). But there are the “Love you” and “Just thinking about you” texts too. The more diplomatic check-ins like “Hey, how’s your day going?” instead of asking “Um, where are you?” It leads to the inevitable autocorrect fails, like when I texted “Good luck, homey!” to my daughter instead of “honey” when wishing her luck on her Geography exam. Or when I texted the shopping list to my husband asking him to get “geese” instead of “cheese”. These texts usually result in at least a smile (and sometimes revised dinner plans).

2)      Facebook – I was a late Facebook adopter. What would I even write? Do I really want to post photos? Turns out that it really does help me connect with family and friends I don’t get to see all the time. I send messages to my niece to get her perspective on things that pertain to my daughters since she’s a few years older. I request a Scrabble game with another niece and use the chat window to laugh about how crazy our board looks as we play diagonally on only half of it. I resist the urge to “stalk” my kids on Facebook but every now and then we talk about privacy, boundaries and over-sharing.

3)      Twitter – When I first started on Twitter, I mostly followed parenting experts and found it a great way to reach out to them directly for advice. My tweets quickly evolved into finding the humour in typical day-to-day parenting situations rather than being frustrated or upset. My whole frame of mind changed and I took things less seriously. I embraced the chaos!

4)      Blogs – There is so much information out there and communities full of like-minded people to get involved with and learn from. It can be comforting to realize you’re not alone when dealing with parenting issues.  They spark thought and conversation and as often as some posts end up in heated debates, they also provide a place for compassion and understanding as we all navigate this parenting thing together.

But still, I really do need to find a way to balance the screens. Do you have any tips on managing all the technology?  What are your pros and cons of being plugged-in?

 

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.

 

Best tools for parent-to-kid communication.

Guest post by MamaDweeb.com founder, Annie Shultz.

 

Tae Kwon Do, dance, music, friends, volunteering and jobs – there are always at least a million things pulling your attention at one time. Of course, being organized increases productivity and decreases errant mistakes. But the big question is – what are the best tools to keep organized communication between spouses and children?

1. Command center

It’s been said the more clutter you have the more cluttered your thinking. So keep important papers and bills in files near the front door where they are easily found and yet not staring you in the face. With an organized command center, both spouses know where to find the permission slip or updated insurance card. And don’t forget the Write Away labels! Easily label your file folders and other boxes.

For command center ideas, check out Pinterest. We have some beautiful home organization pins you will fall in love with!

 

2. Calendar Sync

There are quite a few apps that sync devices. These are extremely helpful since both spouses can view the schedule and make changes as needed. Below are some of my personal favorites:

Cozi

This is one of the most popular apps for family calendar sharing because it is easy to use and has as many features as a new minivan. You can manage and share to-do lists (great for sharing grocery lists with your partner), schedules and alerts.

Google Calendar

I love how simple it is to sync Google Calendar across multiple devices and to share calendars with your spouse. If you want to keep a calendar only for spousal communication, think about setting up a join Gmail account. You can download Google mail and calendar apps for only this account to keep it separated from all the other parts of your life.

Skedi

Skedi is an iPhone calendar app that syncs with iCal, and Google Calendar. What sets this app apart is the ability to assign “person in charge.” This means if you have an event, you can assign a babysitter. The app will then email the babysitter so they can accept or decline. Then, the app records who is in charge for the evening.  This is a very time-saving feature and cuts down on “didn’t you schedule the sitter tonight?” confusion.

 

3. Face-to-face  business meetings

All the tools in the world can’t replace the meeting of the minds in real time. Schedule 15-20 minutes of face-to-face time. This is easier said than done…but it is vital. Go over the plan for the week, discuss desires and needs for time and really connect mentally.  It is so easy to allow the hectic plans to sweep us away into a void of eye contact and real talk. Try to make a moment to prevent it.

 

About the Author:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Annie is a Kansas mom to three young children. She created MamaDweeb.com in 2009 and loves to inspire and connect with others through her writing. She also loves talking, dreaming, 90s pop and country music.

What’s for dinner?

Guest post by Karen Pearson

If I have the answer to that question in the morning, I feel like the day is off to a great start. Realistically, I’m usually figuring out dinner plans on my way home from work.

The ironic thing is, I grew up in a household with a very organized mom. SUPER organized. She was a pioneer in meal planning. Tucked inside the kitchen cupboard door, I’d find the monthly calendar with each day’s dinner menu neatly written in the little squares AND a separate weekly calendar with all the breakfasts listed. As a kid, I thought all my friends knew what they were going to have for dinner in 3 weeks, and what kind of jam they were going to have on their toast on Thursday. HA! I’ve lovingly teased my mom about these menus for years and of course I never fully recognized how clever she was until I had a family of my own. Funny how that happens!

Growing up, we didn’t spend a lot of time in the kitchen and we ate whatever was put on the dinner table.  I don’t think it ever occurred to us that there was any other way. I distinctly remember sneakily depositing chewed up liver into my white paper napkin and throwing it out but that was the extent of me asserting my independence when it came to meals. As a teenager, when I mentioned to my mom that our neighbours with six kids would often have six different meals, she’d laugh. Clearly, this was never going to fly at our house.

When my youngest daughter was 10, she made the decision to become a vegetarian. This seemed to happen around the time my eldest daughter did a speech on factory farming, but my youngest daughter cites this as a mere coincidence. I did some research and told her that if this is what she wanted, we’d have to find ways to make sure her diet was complete and healthy (she probably has the healthiest eating habits in our house).

A few years later, after watching a number of documentaries and to support my daughter’s choice, I also became a vegetarian. My son, who adores animals, was the next to adopt the meat-free lifestyle and has been a vegetarian for over a year now. At first it was tricky for him because yes, he loves animals, but he also loves hamburgers. My husband and eldest daughter remain tried-and-true carnivores. Recently, my youngest daughter and son have decided to eat fish and seafood so now I guess they’re technically pescetarians. This past year, I’ve decided to become more “plant based” and ditch dairy products almost entirely.

I never intended the “what’s for dinner?” question to become even more complicated with everyone’s different eating styles, but honestly, it was a bit challenging at first. My husband, who makes dinner probably half of the time (okay, maybe a bit more), sometimes seemed at a loss as to what to make. Eating the way you did when you grew up is comforting and easy and has an emotional element to it. Meat, potatoes, vegetables…dinnertime! So in this new era, we’re creative and flexible.  Rather than make separate meals for everyone, we embrace side dishes. We have pasta with cheese on the side as a topping and a gigantic Greek salad with feta and onions on the side (respect for the onion haters!). We basically have a salad bar each night and build-your-own dinners without making 4-5 separate meals. The most we double up on is on Taco Night, when we’ll fry up some ground beef AND Mexican-flavoured soy crumbles (we just call it fake meat).

My goal is to make sure there’s always at least one thing on the table that each of us likes and to try and get everyone involved in the menu planning and the cooking. I’ve suggested that each family member have one night a week to plan, grocery shop and cook dinner, but so far, no takers. I think that might be the secret to it all though, so I’m not giving up yet!

Do you have a household with different eating styles too? How do you manage meals at your place?

 

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