Six ways to minimize your kids grumbling about chores!

No one loves to do “chores” especially kids, but you don’t want to be the one that picks up after everyone either, do you?  Once your kids get to a certain age it’s good to get them involved in the day to day duties that have to be done around the house.  It teaches them responsibility and gives them a sense that they belong and are needed.  They might not like it all the time, but it really does help with a child’s development.

Getting kids involved in the choresSo how can we get the kids to pitch in with the daily tasks without all the grumbling and complaining?  Here’s six steps to help.

  1. Positive Reinforcement. Make sure to give praise, especially when they do something you didn’t ask for.  This lets them know that you noticed their efforts and appreciated it.  Don’t give general praise (“Wow, that’s terrific!”) give them something more meaningful (i.e. “Thank you so much, by doing that for me you saved me 20 minutes of work! Now we can both sit and relax together”)
  2. Give Them Ownership. By making them “in charge” of a chore they will have a greater sense of accomplishment when they complete it.  It feels very different to be in charge of cleaning your room then to be told “you must clean your room”  A subtle difference, but one that may alleviate some power struggles.
  3. Make It Fun! Turn on some music, dance while you clean or make a competition out of it.  Anything that takes away the doldrums of the job.
  4. Explain To Them How They Are Helping You. If you tell them how they are helping you and the family by contributing, it will make it more meaningful than just saying “do it because I said so!”  It gives them a sense of belonging.
  5. Keep the Chores Age Appropriate. While kids are certainly capable of a lot they shouldn’t be taking on adult roles and manning the house!  Little ones can learn to pick up after themselves, older kids can be more involved but keep it kid friendly so they don’t get overwhelmed.
  6. Don’t Wait Until Night Time! Take care of the chores (and homework) after school, before play time begins.  That way there is more incentive to get them done quickly!

You may still suffer grumbling even after doing all these things, but hopefully it will minimize it for you at least!!

How do you get your kids involved in doing the chores??  Let us know below in the comments!

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Busy Mom? Save time and eat home cooked meals too!

If you’re anything like me you’re a very busy mom and having to think up what to cook for meals everyday can be a real drag!  So here’s a tip on how to give yourself a little break…

Make your own frozen meals PhotoMake your own HEALTHY frozen dinners!  Take a Sunday to cook a series of different things.  Then put them together in various meal size portions and freeze them.  When you need a quick and easy meal just grab one out of the freezer, heat it up and voila!  You’ve got a nutritious home cooked meal for you, the kids or both!

If you have a food vacuum sealer, those work great to individually package meals and they keep the food fresher too, but if not then tin foil, zip locks and containers work great too.

What ways have you been able to save time on preparing and cooking meals?  Let us know in the comments!

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Valentine’s Day – Organic Style!

For today’s Green Tip Tuesdays I thought I would talk a little about Valentine’s Day!  Wine and chocolate have become synonymous with this day so why not go a little greener on Valentine’s Day and buy your sweetheart organic wine and organic chocolate!

organic valentines dayDid you know that organic wine and chocolate (especially dark chocolate) have higher levels of antioxidants and resveratrol?  According the The Mayo Clinic, these two things have been found to reduce bad cholesterol, help protect the lining of blood vessels in the heart and are thought to have cancer fighting and anti aging properties!

Both have few to no pesticides in them and are far kinder to the earth in their production.  See my video on Why Organic to learn more about that.  Organic wine also contains fewer sulfates.

That all sounds good to me!  So enjoy your Valentine’s Day and be a little greener all at the same time!

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Baked Apricot Chicken

You’ve got a lot going on and the last thing you want to be doing is spending an hour or more making dinner at night!  Quick Meal Mondays is all about quick and easy recipes that can be put together in 30 minutes or less, but they are still crowd pleasers!!  Some will be healthy, some will be decadent but all of them will be quick, easy and delicious!

If you want to submit a quick & delish recipe to share please email me at info@teaganandmack.com.  You will, of course, get credit on my blog for your meal!

This week’s submission is from Debbie Rafei and is sure to be a hit at your house.  Instead of chicken thighs, she used breasts and legs and cooked the breasts for 30 minutes, took them out and let the legs go for 25 minutes more.  This recipe goes great with rice!

Ingredientsrecipes under 30 minutes

  • 12 chicken thighs
  • 1 cup apricot preserves
  • 1 cup Wishbone French dressing
  • 1 package dry onion soup mix

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a medium bowl combine the jam, dressing and soup mix. Mix together.
  3. Place chicken pieces in a 9×13 inch baking dish. Pour apricot mixture over chicken and bake uncovered in the preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes.

Let me know if you made it and what you thought in the comments.

Have a 30 min or under tasty recipe you want to share?  Email me at info@teaganandmack.com!

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13 Things To Do With the Kids That Are Free!

Ok, I took a couple of days off from writing to be kind to myself.  (See my post on Stop the Madness…The Power of Saying No!)  Feeling refreshed now and ready to write again!

For Family Fridays I thought a great post would be one to give you creative ideas on what to do with your kids…for free!  So here are thirteen ideas to give you a start.  I’ve done all of these things with my kids so I know they are a hit!

  1. Story Time at the Local Library
    Look at your local library’s website.  They will often have activities for toddlers and children that are free and fun.
  2. Indoor Playground at the Mall
    This is especially great when the weather is bad and the regular park is not an option.  Many malls are putting in great indoor playgrounds and the good part is that they are usually enclosed so you can sit down and relax for a little while, while the kids play!
  3. Pet Store
    The pet store is a big hit with my kids.  Find a pet store that has an adoption agency for rescue animals within it so they will have dogs and cats along with the usual birds, hamsters and fish!  My girls have so much fun looking at all the animals, but beware…set the ground rules before you go in so they know you won’t be bringing the animals home when you leave!!
  4. Go to a Lake and Feed the Ducks
    We have a little lake full of ducks right beside our public library.  We love to save up old bread and then make a trip to visit the ducks.  Always a big hit.Free things to do with kids
  5. Family Bike Rides
    Simple and fun.  If you have little ones get a seat for the back of your bike or if they are a little older a trailer bike works great.  Then the whole family can go together and ride at a normal pace.
  6. Build a Fort
    Let your kids take all the pillows off the couch and give them a couple of blankets, they’ll come up with something fun and then will want to play in it after wards!
  7. Stargazing
    Go outside at night and look up at the stars with your kids.  Try to find constellations or make up shapes that you see in the stars.
  8. Hide and Seek
    We played a good game of hide and seek with the whole family, our two year old included!  It was a lot of fun and made us laugh a lot, especially since Teagan (our two year old) would jump out of her hiding spot every time, instead of letting us find her!
  9. Photography
    Let your kids use your digital camera and see what they come up with.  Take them to a nice spot where they can take pictures of interesting things (plants, flowers, anything you can think of, even a stroll around the backyard can work)
  10. Create a Play
    Have your kids create their own play and then perform it for the family!
  11. Baths – Just for the Fun of It
    My kids love taking a bath…especially when they know it’s just for play and they don’t have to wash their hair!  They jump in the tub and will play together for quite a while before getting their little water logged bodies out!
  12. Pick Wild Flowers, Dry Them and Then Make Art Out of Them
    Find some flowers around your house or in a field, preferably NOT the neighbor’s flowerbed!!!  Press them in a book and then come back in the next day or so and make art work out of them.  Glue them on paper, make cards for the grandparents, etc.
  13. Collect Rocks Then Paint Them
    This starts off as a great walk and exploration.  Then when you come back the fun continues with painting the rocks they found.

Hopefully this list inspires you to do even more fun things that don’t cost a dime!

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How “stuff” impacts your life and mine

For today’s Green Tip Tuesdays post I wanted to share a video that has had over 10 million viewers.  If you haven’t seen it yet I would highly recommend watching it.  It’s called The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard.

The Story of StuffAnnie talks about the life cycle of all of our “stuff” and what she’s discovered may surprise you!  Interestingly enough, Annie is not opposed to having “stuff” she just wants to make the case against mindless consumerism and getting back to the things that are proven to make us happy – like family time and leisure time.

It’s a really fun video that hits home.  Hope you enjoy it!

http://www.storyofstuff.com/

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Shrimp and Veggie Curry

You’ve got a lot going on and the last thing you want to be doing is spending an hour or more making dinner at night!  Quick Meal Mondays is all about quick and easy recipes that can be put together in 30 minutes or less, but they are still crowd pleasers!!  Some will be healthy, some will be decadent but all of them will be quick, easy and delicious!

If you want to submit a quick & delish recipe to share please email me at info@teaganandmack.com.  You will, of course, get credit on my blog for your meal!

This week’s submission is one that I modified to make it even more interesting!  The original recipe was just a shrimp curry but by adding a few fresh veggies to the mix it made it even more delicious.  To keep this recipe under 30 minutes, buy the shrimp already peeled and deveined.  Taking off the skin and tails is a time killer!

Ingredients:

Shrimp and Veggie Curry Photo

  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground red pepper
  • 1 lb. large shrimp, peeled, deveined
  • 1 can (13.5 oz.) lite coconut milk
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • broccoli
  • red peppers
  • mushrooms
  • bamboo shoots

MIX sugar, curry powder, salt and ground red pepper in large resealable plastic bag. Add shrimp; seal bag. Shake bag gently to completely coat shrimp with the seasoning mixture. Refrigerate until ready to use.

spices photoraw shrimp photoshrimp in a bag photo

Chop vegetable into bite size pieces. Heat oil in a large skillet. Saute vegetables for five minutes or until about half cooked, then add shrimp; cook 2 or 3 minutes or just until shrimp begins to curl and turn pink. Add coconut milk and lime juice; stir. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 5 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Spoon over rice or couscous.

stove top photo

TIP:  Couscous takes 5 minutes to cook, rice takes 30 to 40!  I always make sure I have a pack of couscous in the cupboard!

Let me know if you made it and what you thought in the comments.

Have a 30 min or under tasty recipe you want to share?  Email me at info@teaganandmack.com!

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How to Minimize Temper Tantrums!

For Family Fridays I thought I would talk a little about a problem that most of us have or will have in the near future! If you have kids you probably know about temper tantrums.  They’re normal and a part of kids learning to manage their emotions, but never the less they are still really hard to deal with sometimes.  Here are some things that really work for me to minimize them – notice I didn’t say to make them disappear!  They’ll still creep up but these practices really do help:

  1. Have a routine and make sure your kids are fed and well rested before venturing out!  The routine is critical.  If everyday is different kids don’t know what to expect and are more prone to melting down.  If you plan a bath each night before they go to bed, for example, they know to expect it and are less likely to fight it.  If you need to take the kids with you out to the grocery store make sure they aren’t hungry and tired – two major contributors to tantrums.  I have been known to break open a box of Cheerios in the grocery store in order to keep the peace!!
  2. Tell them what the expectations are beforehand. This one is huge for my eight year old.  While her meltdowns are different from those of a two year old, they still happen if I surprise her with information that she’s not ready to process yet.  If I can remember to tell her how I expect her to behave when I come to pick her up from the playdate (no whining, no begging for more time, no running and hiding!) then she’s far more apt to get ready to go when I show up at the door.
  3. Distraction is your best friend. I can’t stress this one enough for little kids!  It stops working once they get to a certain age and can’t figure out what you’re doing, but for my two year old it’s perfect!  When you feel that they are starting to throw that tantrum quickly distract them with something else.  I don’t care if it’s a bird flying by the window outside, anything will do if you can just get their mind off of their previous disappointment!
  4. Make sure your children know the family rules. Set your kids up for success by really communicating with them on what rules your family lives by.  It doesn’t mean they’re going to always follow them, but it does make disciplining a lot easier when your kids know they broke the rules as opposed to them learning a new rule while you’re in the midst of the conflict.

Minimizing Temper Tantrums PhotoMinimizing Temper Tantrums PhotoMinimizing Temper Tantrums Photo

Ok, so now what happens if you’ve done everything but the tantrum happens anyways?

  1. Well, above all – don’t give in! I don’t care how embarrassed you are or how many people are staring at you at the grocery store, you will do yourself (and your kids) a disservice if you give in to their tantrums.  That lets your kids know that if they elevate it to that level they will get what they want.  Whenever I happen to be out running errands by myself and I see a mom dealing with a tantrum and looking really uncomfortable I know she’s probably thinking that I and everyone around her is judging her, but what I really want to say to her is “I know what you’re going through!”  Maybe I will next time!
  2. Ignore it, but make it safe. If you can, it’s often best to just ignore the tantrum.  Take away anything that might hurt them if they are falling on the floor mad, but ignore it.  This lets them know that their tantrum is not going to get any results from you.  Once they’ve stopped screaming you can calmly say “Mommy will talk to you when you stop yelling and are calm.”  It’s amazing how fast a child will calm down if they know you’re not going to engage them.
  3. Quiet Time – for calming. We started doing this instead of time outs.  I’ll be honest, it works sometimes and not as much other times, but it’s worth a try.  Time outs can be punitive and just make your child more angry where as the point of “quiet time” is to still put your child in a place where they can sit and calm down, but it’s their choice as to where their quiet time spot is (should be the same place every time) and how long they sit there.  You tell them they need to go to their quiet place to calm down and they can come out of it when they are ready to speak to you nicely.  It takes away a lot of the power struggle but I have certainly had my daughters refuse to go to their quiet place.  It that happens you need to lead them there and then reiterate what they need to do.
  4. Finally, try to stay calm yourself… Sometimes much easier said than done, especially if you’re dealing with a lot of defiance, etc!!  Temper tantrums can really test your patience, that is for sure, but what I know for sure is that when I am able to stay calm it always goes much better for me.

Experts say not to bribe your kids to get them to stop the tantrum (i.e. Mommy will give you a special treat if you stop yelling!)  I’ll admit it, I’ve done this before, especially when it’s a public display!  It’s always best not to, though, since you’re not really teaching your children anything by doing that.  It really just gives them another reason to throw a tantrum because they learn they’ll get something from it.

If your children’s tantrums are really severe, i.e. your child is hurting themselves or others, they go on for a really long period of time, they happen on a regular basis – talk to your doctor.  There are a lot of resources available to you.

Good luck and let us know if you have any great tips for minimizing tantrums in the comments!

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3 Easy Ways to Stress-Proof Your Mornings

morning coffee photoToday for Random Thoughts Thursdays I wanted to share another posting that I just read which is both funny and great information!  It coincides very well with my previous posting 10 Tips To Ending Morning Mayhem With Your Kids! and adds some new ideas to the mix!

Enjoy!  Link to the article written by Monica Corcoran Harel for O Magazine:

3 Easy Ways to Stress-Proof Your Mornings

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Lost in Mommyhood? 5 Ways to Keep your Identity as a Woman

Being a mother is all encompassing.  We know this, anyone who has had kids will tell you that it engulfs your life and for the most part you want it and welcome it to be your focus.  We all want to be the best moms we can be, we love our kids and don’t think twice about sacrificing our own needs to put theirs first (although sometimes it stings, we still do it!).  Here’s where the problem creeps in though…

Because we are wired to be nurturers, caregivers and protectors, etc. we can often times forget ourselves.  When we enter motherhood we take on a new identity…I am now “Mommy.”  When we solely start to identify as “Mommy” though, we lose the woman we were all those years before…and she was a pretty cool woman!  Don’t let go of her.

Here’s five tips to keep yourself on your list of priorities:

  1. Schedule some “me” time.  I know you’re busy, there are never enough hours in the day…but this one is critical.  You are important enough to give yourself a little time each day. It may be after the kids go to bed, but take a little time for yourself where you’re not cleaning, working or thinking about the kids!
  2. Think about the things you used to love to do before you had kids.  If you’ve let go of those things pick a few of them back up again!Girls Night Out Photo
  3. Have a girls night out!  Get a babysitter or leave the kids with your partner and go out with your girlfriends!  Dress it up, throw on some makeup and paint the town red!  The point here is to get out of your comfort zone and have some fun.  Try not to talk about the kids all night!  :)
  4. Treat yourself to a little pampering.  Whether you go to a spa or just take a hot bath at home, it doesn’t matter.  Just pamper yourself a little bit.  If you’re not a bath person then find something that works for you, get a manicure, get your hair done, get a massage, give yourself a foot massage!  Something to make you feel nurtured a bit.
  5. Write down goals for yourself that you want to accomplish, short term and long term.  These are things that are just for you.  Then put a plan in place and take action.  If you don’t ever think about what YOU want then time will fly by and before you know it the kids will be grown and you’ll be in the house saying “now what?”

As moms we have to-do lists coming out our ears.  Make sure that YOU are on that list too!

What do you do to keep your identity as a woman?  Share with us in the comments!

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