Posted tagged ‘back to school’

Family dinners are a the mother lode

August 28, 2012

I’ve just finished going over the manuscript for “Raising Able: How chores empower families” for about the 25th time to prepare to publish it on Amazon’s Create Space, where it’s available on Kindle and print-on-demand.

It has caused me to re-read the book, published more than two years ago. There are some great stories and examples to prove that family chores, family dinner and family meetings provide a solid foundation for your crew, for life.

YES it takes time to plan dinner and make it. Get them involved. See this blog post for ideas on how to make it easier. This photo of my gang on the blog along with ideas to make family dinner easier, especially as school starts and schedules start to collide.

Family dinner is one of the most important and powerful traditions. Here's the author of "Raising ABle: How chores empower families" sharing a dinner with her four grown children and their boyfriends and girlfriends.

The lure of family dinner never wears off. This was taken at our daughter’s apartment where she had cooked us dinner.

My tips to make family dinner easier:

1. Plan dinner in the morning or the night before if you work outside of the home. Make use of a crock pot, time bake and kids at home after school to put on the potatoes and make pizza dough.

2. Involve tots-to-teens in every step of planning, preparation and cleanup. Use family meetings to plan menus and volunteer to cook and cleanup.

3. Eat family-friendly meals and encourage and expect them to try new foods, within reason.

4. Encourage them to start cooking independently as soon as possible. Buy ingredients they need, experiment and have fun. Don’t complain about the mess! Compliment the chef. Eat their food with gusto. You’ll be developing confidence and a lifetime skill and avocation.

5. Learn to stock your pantry, freezer and fridge so you can cook from what’s on hand. Learning to cook from what’s on hand is an art, too.

Bon appetite!

 

Back to School 1: shopping

August 22, 2011
girls who love to dress up can be encouraged to do it without moms and dads interference. Girls can learn to make good fashion choices. Stay out of their way. Teach them self-discipline and good decision making in Boston, Mass. through chores. Chores will teach them how to make good choices. Clothing and back to school shopping can be done without arguments.
My oldest daughter Casey chose black patent leather Mary Janes as her school shoes in first grade.

One of the most difficult parenting lessons I had to learn was to allow my kids free choice. I wanted them to do what I WANTED! When I started taking parenting workshops, the leader, a savvy mom of five kids advised, “If your daughter wants to choose black patent leather Mary Janes as her school shoes, let her.”

I hated this advice, but I knew that like most of what I learned in the workshops, I was wrong for wanting Casey to choose sensible school shoes for first grade. It helped to know other parents faced the same dilemma and allowed their daughter to make their own decisions so they could learn self-trust, and the natural consequences of their choices.
Casey wore those black patent leather shoes daily  with a dress, which she loved, along with Barbies. No, I was not the kind of parent to prohibit Barbies or guns. Moderation is better than creating forbidden fruits.
Childhood is all about learning to making good decisions, establishing self-trust, confidence and nurturing a child’s self-esteem. Allowing them to choose their own clothing as much as possible is empowering. We might not always agree, but parents have enough bigger issues than clothing to worry about. Clothing is costume. Character  counts.

I had many arguments over back-to-school shopping with my two daughters until I realized how to avoid it. I put “school shopping” on the family meeting agenda [see free tip sheet] in August. We negotiated a reasonable budget for clothes and what type I’d pay for. They planned to bring “their own money” to supplement. It’s fun to see what they’re willing to spend their money on.

I’ve wasted many dollars convincing them to buy something I liked, only to see it in the give-away bag later. Sigh. I eventually learned to respect their opinions, especially when it came to clothes. Like all lessons worth learning, I paid the price.

Today, I love to go shopping at a thrift store with my daughters. We find some wonderful fun bargains along with clothes I would never pay full-price for. We have fun. They give me honest feedback on what looks good and what doesn’t. They could have more tact in this area.  If your kids love clothes, money can stretch a long way at thrift stores.

The second part of back-to-school shopping is school supplies. I swear by L.L. Bean backpacks from the return department with botched custom embroidery. These backpacks wear like iron for multiple years.

We argued over school supplies because the kids always wanted to buy everything new. After school starts, review the lists of supplies sent home by teachers and have a family meetings. Figure out what supplies you already have or can be purchased second-hand, like the T-111 calculator for high school math that costs $80+. After scrounging around the house,  agree on another budget and shop the sales together.

Learning to set a budget and live within your means is a valuable lesson. My four kids are 23-30 years old, have NO credit card debt and live within their income. The ones who earn more spend more. The ones who earn less spend less. They have money for what’s important, like Mary Janes.


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