Posts Tagged: Alyson Schafer

School Lunches

Making school lunches seems to be an energy drain for most families. But it doesn’t have to be! Here are some ideas to help you make 2015 a stress-free school lunch year:

1. Delegate

Sign them up for pizza lunch and accept all “bring a friend home for lunch invitations” they can wrangle!  Not every meal has to be as healthy as the menu at Canyon Ranch Spa. Balance their need for nutrition with your need for sanity.

2. One list & one rotation

Create a list together with your children of 5 lunches that they enjoy.  Most of our stress comes from thinking “WHAT CAN I MAKE FOR LUNCH TODAY?”  It’s the need to think creatively that exhausts us.  Well, I say forget creativity! You’ve been spending too much time on Pinterest. Go for a pragmatic formula instead. Research shows most families eat the same 4 or 5 meals over again and again for dinner. Why not apply the same principle to lunch?  Once you have the lunch list, your only work is in making sure the items are on the grocery list, and packing it.

3. Pack strategically

Don’t forget to label!

Mornings are a pressure keg. Take some of the stress off by packing lunches at some other time of day – maybe the most low-key time of your day is right after kids go to bed? Or pack them while you simmer dinner on the stove. Heck, why not pack three days worth of lunches at once?

4. Let the kid’s solve the boredom problem

If your kids complain they are tired of getting wieners and beans for lunch, explain you will happily remove them from the list of 5 lunches, once replacement school lunch recipes have been discovered. Have them scout out lunch options by looking at what their friends are packing. Imitation is the highest form of flattery isn’t it?

5. Pass the torch

Eventually, you’ll want your kids doing this job for themselves. That means you should spend time teaching your children to pack their own lunch, so you can pass the torch on to them.  Kids tend to eat better when they pack their own lunches, so the earlier the better!

About the Author:

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News Channel and CBC’s The World This Weekend. Alyson is an “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine.  Alyson is the best selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t Misbehavin”.  She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at www.alysonschafer.com

Getting Your Play Room Organized for 2015!

It’s January and we’ve probably all pledged to be more organized in 2015.  My best advice to get you off to a great start is to tackle the kids play room.   After all, it’s the mass amount of toys we trip over that makes us feel like our whole house is messy! Check out these helpful toy storage ideas and playroom ideas.

1.  DOWNSIZE

The rule of thumb is that kids should be able to clean up the entire playroom independently (yes – I know, we’ll get to that issue in a minute) in about 5 minutes.    Most playrooms simply have too much stuff.  It’s an overwhelming task for a preschooler.

It’s time to cull the toy herd and find room for the new Christmas toys.  This does not mean running around with a green garbage bag threatening to give your kids’ toys to children who DO care about their toys.  (Haven’t we all had that parental fit?) Instead, it’s a group project to help create a new kids playroom environment that is more user-friendly.

2. PITCH / DONATE / STORE/ CREATE LIBRARY

Have the kids help you decide what needs to be thrown out (i.e. dried out markers) and what needs to be donated to goodwill. Some dolls and toys may no longer be played with, but they might be sentimental – those can be kept in a keepsake box.   That leaves the rest of the toys that are still in current use.  But here is the kicker – I’m betting dollars to donuts it’s STILL more than kids can clean in 5 minutes.  So here is my idea: create your own “toy lending library” or storage space.

Populate the kids toy room with a selection of toys:

    •             2 puzzles
    •             8 books
    •             1 connector set
    •             4 costumes
    •             1 riding toy
    •             etc…

You get the basic idea.  Have the kids pick what they would like to have out this week and then place the rest away in storage. Let them know that next week they can return the 8 books and pick 8 new ones from storage.  Refresh and circulate the toys weekly. This way they will be excited to see their old toys again! Even toys that were sitting out but ignored previously will create excitement again.

3.  EVERYTHING HAS A HOME

Make the playroom organized with toy storage solutions, like shelves and bins and baskets so your children know where every toy goes to “sleep” at the end of the day.   Make sure your toy storage is kid-friendly and easy to reach.

4.  CLEAN UP EVERY DAY

If you want your child to learn to be responsible, they need to understand the basic idea of cleaning up after themselves. It begins with playroom clean up and is an essential life lesson to teach children. To do this, explain to your child that it’s their job to clean up after they play with house cleaning tips. Help them in the beginning by giving instructions:  “Can you put the ball in the basket? Can you put the doll back in her crib?” Even a 16-month old can follow these simple instructions.

5. BE CONSISTENT

Make sure you are consistent in making clean up the child’s job.  If you sometimes do the clean up, or tidy up MORE after they are done, they won’t believe it’s really their job. Consistency is a key ingredient in any learning model.  It’s easier to learn if 2+3 always adds up to 5.

6.  ROUTINES

You will also find it’s easier to teach a child about cleaning up if you make it part of the family routine so it needs to happen at a regular time in the family schedule.  If you always clean up before dinner or bedtime snack, you reinforce the schedule. Say “FIRST we clean and THEN we eat”.   If they play or goof off, ignore them until they ask for dinner or a snack and then simply remind them of the family routine: “Yes, you may have a snack, but FIRST we clean up and THEN we have snack”.   After a few nights they will put it together and start cleaning up before dinner without fights or reminders.

[CONTEST ALERT]

Don’t forget to label all those toy bins and storage containers!  Need a bit of help organizing? Get 25% off all Household Labels at www.mabelslabels.com

Win a prize pack of Household Labels! Head on over to Instagram and post a photo of the messy room you need help organizing with #HelpMeMabel and tag @MabelsLabels and you could win!

Contest is open from 9:00am January 13, 2015 to 11:59pm January 15, 2015. Good luck!

 

 

About the Author:

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News Channel and CBC’s The World This Weekend. Alyson is an “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine.  Alyson is the best selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t Misbehavin”.  She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at www.alysonschafer.com

 

The Divorced Family Christmas

Christmas is a sentimental time of the year.  For many divorced parents it’s a painful reminder of the gap between the ideal family life we had wanted and the reality of the strains and severed relationships that are a part of divorce and separation.  Here are some tips on how a parent can cope this time of year:

  1. Make plans for the holidays with your ex well in advance.  If this is not a part of your separation agreement or if this is a difficult topic consider mediation. Children need stability and predictability.  Advance planning helps them get their head around how the holiday will unfold and should reduce any potential anger and anxiety.
  2. Try alternating years so that both parents get the joy of opening gifts on Christmas day.
  3. If your children are travelling with the other parent over the holiday, create a “mock Christmas” to be celebrated like the real thing with all the traditions such as Christmas decorations and a Christmas tree, just held on a different date
  4. If this is the first Christmas you are not together as a family, try creating new traditions so that you don’t experience the absence of one parent while doing all the same ole holiday things.  Ask your children for input.  My kids wanted all new ornaments on the Christmas tree as a “fresh new start” so as to not look sentimentally at the family ornaments from the past.
  5. If this is your first Christmas alone without your children, reach out to your extended family and join their festivities.  You should have supportive people around you. You could volunteer at a shelter or visit friends, basically anything is better than being home alone and sad.
  6. You can’t win a child’s love with material objects.  Yes, it’s gratifying to see the look of joy on your child’s face as they open gifts, but don’t try to outdo or compensate/apologize with gifts.
  7. It’s generally not recommended that you include your new partner in the first family Christmas since the divorce/separation.   If you are in a serious relationship, ask you children how they would feel if you invited your new friend over for some part of the day.   Their reaction will give you your answer.

About the Author:

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News Channel and CBC’s The World This Weekend. Alyson is an “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine.  Alyson is the best selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t Misbehavin”.  She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at www.alysonschafer.com

 

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