Tips to Strengthen Your Marriage While Raising Kids

Having kids really does change the dynamics of a family unit, but it doesn’t have to ruin your marriage. Learning new ways to strengthen your marriage while raising kids will ensure that you keep your bond together while dealing with the ever-changing lives of your kids. Today I’m featuring a few tips to strengthen your marriage while raising kids so that you can feel better together and keep that marital bond strong through all the stages of raising kids together.

Have Date Nights at Home
Try to schedule a date night at home for just the two of you after the kids go to sleep. Check out these ideas to bond with your spouse at home.

Switch up Chores
It can become quite mundane when each of you do the same chores every day or week. Try switching out chores so that your partner does a chore that you normally do a few times a month. Ask the kids to help with the chores, too, to free up more of your own time. It’s also great to surprise your spouse by doing a task they normally do during a particularly tough week.

Do Something New
Gather up the kids and try something new every couple of months as a family unit. This will keep the family bond solid and help strengthen your marriage as you work together to plan a new activity that the entire family can experience together. Our family likes to sneak away for a long weekend once every few months.

Fight Smarter
All marriages have disagreements, but it’s not worth a huge fight over. Learn to fight smarter and practicing saying “I hear you” more often than not. This will ensure you both communicate effectively and feel the bond of marriage grow stronger.

Be Affectionate
Make time to cuddle up together and enjoy each other’s physical company. Many married couples get so busy raising the kids and working a job that they neglect to realize that affection matters. Take time each day to hold your partner’s hand, give them a hug, and a kiss no matter what.

Go to Bed Early or Sleep In
When your kids start to get older you can work to strengthen your marriage by sneaking off to an earlier bedtime on weekends while letting your older kids hold the fort down. Older kids can easily be trusted to have their own later bedtime while you and your partner get some extra sleep. On weekends, set out granola bars or cereal to allow yourselves a few extra minutes of sleep.

There are many ways you can work to strengthen your marriage while raising kids. The true key is to take time to show each other that you still matter. Small gestures like affection, switching chores or having a game date night at home can make all the difference in staying reunited as a happily married couple while raising kids.

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Colorado Springs Family Friendly Hikes that are Great for Kids

I wanted to share our favorite hiking spots in (and around) Colorado Springs! Some, but not all, of these would be suitable for strollers or younger children, so make sure to read about each one before you head out!

Colorado Springs Family Friendly Hikes that are Great for Kids

Garden of the Gods

This is a great place to hike as a family, as there are trails with different levels of difficulty. This is a popular tourist spot, so it can get busy on weekends and during the summer months. If you want an easy trail, you can stroll around the central garden trail area. This area around the main formations is paved, accessible and suitable for strollers. Restrooms are also available at the main parking area. For something a bit more challenging, we love the Siamese Twins trail. It has a great view of Pikes Peak at the top. It’s an intermediate level trail with some stairs.
Garden of the Gods website

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Red Rock Canyon Open Space

Red Rock Canyon has similar red rock to Garden of the Gods but is usually less crowded. The parking lot that has picnic table and portable restrooms. While not paved, the Red Rock Canyon Trail is a wide access road and is stroller friendly. You pass a small pond on this trail, where you might see ducks or other wildlife. My kids really enjoy exploring the quarry, particularly the steps carved in the rock. If you continue of the quarry trail, it is not stroller friendly.
Red Rock Canyon website

Painted Mines Interpretative Park

(Calhan, CO)
A short distance from Colorado Springs, the Paint Mines are worth the drive! The formation are really cool and you can walk right down to them. From either entrance, you’ll have to walk less than a mile to access the beautiful formations. The area around the formations is not stroller friendly. Portable restrooms are available at the parking areas.
Paint Mines website

Helen Hunt Falls and Silver Cascade Falls

Helen Hunt Falls is located just steps away from the parking lot in North Cheyenne Canyon Park. There is also a visitor center and portable restrooms. You can climb stairs to view the waterfall from a bridge across the top. If you continue up the trail about half a mile you can also view Silver Cascade Falls. That is a more difficult trail with stairs and a significant elevation gain. It’s best for older children and isn’t suitable for strollers.
Helen Hunt/Silver Cascade website

Seven Bridges

The is a longer intermediate trail at about 4 miles total to go out and back. There is a 0.7 mile hike from the parking lot to the trail head. The access road is stroller friendly, but the trail itself is not. There are no restroom facilities. It’s a bit challenging in spots, so it’s probably best for school-age children. If you’re taking younger kids, a backpack carrier would be a good idea. There are seven numbered bridges along the trail, so it keeps the kids motivated to find the next one. The trail runs along and crosses North Cheyenne Creek. This trail gets busy on weekend, and it can be difficult to find parking by mid-day.
Finding this trail is a bit tricky. Drive into Cheyenne Canyon toward Helen Hunt Falls. Once you pass the Helen Hunt Falls visitor center keep going up until you get to a large unpaved parking area. From there, you’ll want walk up Gold Camp road. You go past the gate on the West side of the parking lot (not High Drive!) for 0.7 miles until you hit the Seven Bridges trail head marker 622.
Seven Bridges website

Do you know of other great family hiking spots in Colorado Springs? Share them in the comments!

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Making Pocket Money Easier

My 9-year-old was carrying $48 in her wallet. Cash. She’s been saving well for some time, and the cash has accumulated. Her plan was to walk to the shops with her big sister to buy a treat.

Me:     I’d prefer that you didn’t take all that money in your wallet. I’d hate for you to lose it.

Her:    But dad if I leave my money here someone might take it (she was referring to her little sister who, aged 5, has a history of pinching cash when she finds it) or I might forget where I put it!

Me:     But if you take it to the shops you could lose it all if you put your wallet down…

And around and around we went.

I don’t like my kids carrying cash. And they don’t like leaving cash laying around in their room (or anywhere in the house).

A few days later (it was school holiday time) my 12-year-old tells me she wants to go to the movies and

Her:    Can I please have some money?

Me:     I don’t have any cash. (After checking with wife and realising we’re all empty…) You’ll have to take my credit card.

Her:    (Eyes light up) Oh, ok. How much can I spend?

Me:     Just tap it. And no more than (and then I think I mumbled some random amount that I hoped would be enough)

I hate giving my kids my credit card but when there’s no cash, sometimes there’s no other option. (One of my friends gave her daughter the credit card for the movies and it cost them over $100! That’s a lot of popcorn and ice-cream!!)

Three days later I received an email about ZAAP.

“The Universe” provided the solution.

In a nutshell, ZAAP is Australia’s first pre-paid Mastercard for kids. And no – it’s not a credit card. It’s literally a card (or wristband) that your kids can use instead of cash. And they can only spend the money that you’ve loaded onto the card via an app. It’s easy. It’s safe. It has literally solved my pocket-money problems.

Here’s how it works:

First, I went to and ordered our ZAAP cards and bands (the kids can choose from over 50 designs or design their own). Time taken: about two minutes.

A few days later when the ZAAP package arrived, I downloaded the ZAAP app and followed the instructions to activate their ZAAP account set up an automatic transfer from my parent wallet (facility within the ZAAP app) to happen every Sunday night without me thinking about it, and that’s about it. Time taken: about 5 minutes.

It’s that simple. I kid you not.

Now each Monday morning when they wake up, their pocket money is on their card and all set to go. Pocket money paid, and no issues trying to find cash to give them or worrying that they’ll lose their money. Oh, and I’m not handing over my credit card when they need cash and no one has any.

And it’s brilliant.

If I’d had ZAAP my 9-year-old wouldn’t have any cash concerns on her trip to Woolies for a treat. The wristband has “tap” functionality which means the kids don’t even have to carry their card in their wallet, so my 12-year-old could have tapped her wristband at the cinema with cash I’d instantly transferred from my account on the spot.

The kids’ eyes lit up when their cards and wristbands arrived in the mail. They felt so grown up. And our first trip to the shops (so they could buy a treat by tapping their wristband) was gorgeous. They walked like they were 3 metres tall.

We’ve only been using ZAAP for a short while, but here’s what we love:

  • Mostly, we love the convenience. Pocket money is automatically set up to transfer. The kids don’t need to hassle us for money.
  • We love that the kids don’t have to carry (and lose) cash but they still have access to funds
  • It’s a relief to not get stuck handing over our credit card when we have no cash spare
  • The ZAAP app has a spending and saving component which has allowed us to have some really important money conversations, and since the kids can log into the app too, they’re excited to see their savings grow. The financial literacy component of ZAAP is something we really like
  • The kids feel so independent
  • A couple of times the kids have needed some cash and we’ve been able to do an instant top up in the ZAAP app. One daughter called from a friend’s house wanting $10 to grab lunch unexpectedly. I opened the app, did the transfer and she had money available on her card and wristband within about 10 seconds.

There’s the added bonus that for parents who want to know exactly what their kids are up to, the app shows you where your kids are spending their hard-earned pocket money (and how much they’re spending). The ZAAP app gives you peace of mind, or it highlights important conversations to have with your kids when you notice their spending habits aren’t wise.

Is ZAAP something you need?

Of course not. There are loads of ways to help the kids out financially without ZAAP. In our family, we’ve done them all.

But the reality is, we haven’t liked some of the ways we’ve had to deal with money and kids in the past. We’ve wondered what they’re spending. We’ve seen them lose cash – sometimes significant amounts. We’ve worried someone was going to steal their wallet. And we’ve handed the credit card over more times than we’d like to admit.

So, even though this is a sponsored post, we have felt that ZAAP is logical, convenient, and safe. It’s a simple idea that gives parents a little more control, kids a little more freedom, offers security, and makes transferring money to the kids (and their access to it) friction free.

Check out ZAAP at


* This is a sponsored post. Dr Justin Coulson is a paid spokesman for ZAAP.

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It takes a village… but the village is sick

In recent weeks, to surprisingly little fanfare, the Morrison Federal Government has announced a new Children’s Mental Health Strategy. Announced by Health Minister, Greg Hunt, at the National Press Club, the strategy is aimed squarely at building resilience in childhood to prevent mental illness for all Australians.

Minister Hunt has been explicit: Primary School-aged children will be the target of this strategy. Its focus is a systematic approach to identifying and treating depression, anxiety, and eating disorders in children.

While little has been written or said about the strategy, this initiative must be applauded loud and long. We know that approximately 1 in 7 children experience mental health issues. This number is rising. It is increasingly obvious that anxiety has become the common cold of mental health disorders, with children as young as four routinely diagnosed with some form of anxiety, and the numbers of children taking medication for mental health issues (such as depression, ADHD, and anxiety) continuing to rise. Half of all mental health conditions in adulthood emerge by the time a child is 14.

Supporting children by supporting their parents

We also know that effective programs for supporting parents have positive impact. We can reduce depression by over 20% by providing the right support as prevention. Government intervention that includes preventive screening to identify mental health issues early is vital. But what may be even more helpful is Government education and incentives aimed at supporting families as they seek to raise their children resilient. For example:

Paid parental leave during the vulnerable transition to parenthood and its attendant risks of post-natal depression (for both mums and dads) would support families and provide a powerful support structure to assist families at the arrival of a new child. Economic pressures force parents to make decisions that are rarely in the best interests of either the child or parents as they rush back to work to meet financial obligations.

Supporting children by reducing pressure

The Federal Government could also encourage states to make changes to early childhood and early school years curricula to encourage more play and reduce (or eliminate) formal testing of children up until at least Grade 4. The Western Australian State School Teacher’s Union is actively campaigning for more physical activity and play-based learning in the early years because we know this approach encourages better mental health and improved academic outcomes in children. Shifting away from homework in the early years would also be helpful in reducing stress and anxiety, and encouraging wellbeing.

Building and protecting the family

The Federal Government’s Raising Children Network offers useful resources for parents. But the most useful focus for the Government would be to focus on initiatives and strategies that build and protect the family. This is because Government initiatives can support, but never replace, the protective factors for wellbeing necessary to raise children resilient.

Creating a healthy parenting environment is a significant protective factor. Parents who experience mental illness are at greater risk of developing disruptive attachment patterns with their children which can negatively impact on that child’s mental health. Moreover, research indicates that there is often an intergenerational transmission of mental illness. By providing skills and resources to assist parents to manage their mental health more effectively, children will be more likely to be born into families that can flourish.

Supporting the most vulnerable

Cost of mental health support is also a factor, and those most vulnerable to mental illness often have the least financial resources. While many struggling families receive in-person support from qualified case-work personnel with government assistance, such help is sometimes unreliable due to stretched and stressed workers carrying loads far too large for any one person.

What can WE do?

Beyond government intervention, we can also work responsibly ourselves to support our children’s wellbeing. Research is abundantly clear to a child LOVE is spelled T-I-M-E. Children flourish when parents are available to enjoy quality time together. Even better if that is time spent outside. Nature is fuel for the soul – ours and our children’s.

Finally, reducing pressure on our kids is vital. The trend towards hiring tutors for pre-school-aged children and the push-down of pressure for academic success at younger ages is not in our children’s best interests. When our ladder of success is focused on economics and academics, we become unbalanced. It profits our children nothing to be rich and well-educated, yet miserable and anxious.

Connections with parents and peers, developmentally appropriate skill acquisition through play, physical activity outside (daily), time to be still (without screens), and the opportunity to give to something larger than the self are scientifically shown to bolster mental health and sustain resilience through life’s challenges. It takes a village, sure. But the village needs to slow down and concentrate on what matters most.


The post It takes a village… but the village is sick appeared first on Dr Justin Coulson's Happy Families.

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Back to School Snacking with Once Again

I feel like I say this every year, but the summer went way too fast! It’s already time to start thinking about school lunches and after school snacks! I try not to limit how many individually packaged snacks we use to help with the grocery budget, while keeping the snacks somewhat healthy! I also like to keep things simple, with minimal prep needed!

We had the opportunity to try Once Again Organic Amore Almond Spread, so I’m including that in our back to school snacking! We already love the Once Again Nut Butters in smoothies and on biscuits, but it was our first chance to try this dessert spread. Thanks to Mom’s Meet for the free samples!

Fruits and Veggies for Dipping!

My kids love fresh fruits and vegetables, especially when they have something to dip in. We like to dip our veggies in hummus or guacamole. This Once Again Organic Amore Almond Spread was great for dipping berries and apples! It’s a little sweet with milk chocolate, but also has a great almond flavor! As you can imagine, this plate disappeared in just a few minutes. And, I may have found someone licking the bowl!

Once Again Organic Amore Almond Spread on Toast

My kids also love the Once Again Organic Amore Almond Spread on toast. We always eat our toast as a sandwich to control the mess! When I’m feeling motivated, we use food cutters to make fun bite-sized shapes with our sandwiches, but these were simple triangles!

More About Once Again Organic Amore Almond Spread

The spread is gluten-free, organic, non-GMO, and healthier than other dessert butters.

You can find Once Again products at most natural food stores and also on -> Use this store locator for a full list of locations!

Nursing Mamas – Try subbing Once Again Organic Amore Almond Spread for the peanut butter in these No Bake Lactation Cookies!

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Starting Kindergarten with TinkerActive Workbooks

My youngest started Kindergarten last week. We’re doing a combination of homeschooling and a public school enrichment program. I was so excited to add TinkerActive Workbooks to our library. They’re not your typical workbook! There are fun activities that can be done right in the book, and hands on projects that help reinforce the skills. It’s so refreshing to find a workbook that encourages outside the box thinking and learning through play. Most of the activities are flexible, so you can modify them to meet your needs or the supplies you have available. My daughter was extra excited to find out that some activities have stickers involved! At the end of the workbook, they get a special badge as a prize!

I received complimentary TinkerActive workbooks as part of a Moms Meet blogger program. All opinions are my own.

Starting Kindergarten with TinkerActive Workbooks

Learning about Weather, Seasons, and Sun

With summer coming to an end, it was the perfect time to talk about weather and the changing seasons. We had out first cool morning today, and we talked about how our clothing would be changing for the cooler weather. We’ll have to start wearing a light jacket in the morning!

Talking About Melting

My daughter loves playing with ice an watching it melt. We tested it out in the sun and the shade to see which melted first. Then we tested it on different surfaces.

Shadow Art

My older kids wanted to do this, too. It was a lot of fun! We used our plastic animals and traced their shadows. It was fun to do some art outdoors while enjoying the beautiful weather!

Reverse Shadows

My daughter wanted to make the letter R as a shadow, so we used some natural materials to try it out.

Learning about Numbers, Counting and Sorting

The beginning of the books includes counting numbers up to 20. We had fun reviewing our numbers. My daughter loves the MotMots, which are cute, fuzzy creatures that appear throughout the books.

We went outside and did more counting and sorting while playing!

I love how these workbooks are so interactive. They’re great for visual, auditory and especially kinesthetic learners and aligned to common core standards!

Where to Purchase TinkerActive Workbooks

TinkerActive Workbooks are available wherever books are sold. To buy online click here.

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8 Quick + Powerful Videos That Will Make You an Even Better Parent

Inside: Here are the best, most inspirational positive parenting videos that will make you a better parent, especially on the days when you lose your cool.

Every parent I know would love to stay calm, cool, and collected no matter what their kid throws at them.

But when your toddler unspools a roll of toilet paper into the toilet bowl and flushes, and overflowing musty wastewater all over your hardwood floors?

It’s human nature. Your emotions are bound to get the better of you. While you clean up the mess, you might huff, stomp, or raise your voice in frustration.

So much for being a calm and loving parent no matter what.

The Secret to Being a Calm Parent Isn’t What You Think

I used to think that if I could just figure out the secret for becoming a “zen mama,” positive parenting would come naturally to me every moment of the day.

But then I had an epiphany that changed my whole outlook on positive parenting.

Here’s the important thing I realized: Many people want to have a happy life. But happiness isn’t something you achieve one day and check off your list.

Being a calm parent is the same way. It’s not something you check off your list and never have to think of again. It’s a temporary state.

In other words, nobody can be perfectly happy all the time, just like nobody can be a perfectly calm parent all the time.

When you're struggling to be a calm parent, try these positive parenting videos

Here’s What You Can Do: Quick Positive Parenting Videos

In order to exist in that calm parenting mode as much as possible, we need to continually inspire ourselves to be better, more chill parents.

But if we’re being honest with ourselves?

As busy parents, we don’t always have the time or mental…freshness to read long think-pieces about parenting in the New York Times.

Sure, we need to keep reminding ourselves of our positive parenting goals, but how are we supposed to focus long enough to read a parenting book or inspirational article?

My favorite quick fix is to watch one of a few powerful positive parenting videos I’ve curated over the years.

Related: 24 Best YouTube Videos for Kids to Change How They See The World

8 Positive Parenting Videos That Will Make You a Better Parent

Below, you’ll find a list of the best, most inspirational parenting videos I’ve discovered over the years.

Not only that, they’re short – perfect for when you need a quick dose of inspiration to reclaim your zen parent status.

When you’re struggling to keep your cool because your kid Facetimed your boss while you were in the shower, watch one of these quick positive parenting videos and you’ll get back on track.

Go ahead and bookmark this page, and come back to it when you need to.

Also, I know firsthand that a houseful of loud kids can make it impossible to watch even a short video. So where possible, I’ve also included snippets of quotes from the videos so you can quickly scan for inspiration.

1. Does Your Face Light Up?

When Toni Morrison made an appearance on Oprah to talk about her books, she just so happened to drop one of the most powerful pearls of parenting wisdom I’ve ever heard.

“When my children used to walk in the room when they were little, I looked at them to see if they had buckled their trousers or if their hair was combed or if their socks were up. And so, you think your affection and your deep love is on display because you’re caring for them.

It’s not.

When they see you, they see the critical face. ‘What’s wrong now?’

But then if you let your…face speak what’s in your heart? When they walked in the room, I was glad to see them. It’s just as small as that.” – Toni Morrison

2. Which Wolf Will Win the Fight?

This is a powerful analogy about two wolves fighting in your heart. When I watch this, I think of the red wolf as the anger and frustration I feel as a parent – and everything clicks.

“There is a story, usually attributed to the Native American tradition, which illuminates different ways of paying attention.

An elder, talking to a child, says, ‘I have two wolves fighting in my heart. One wolf is fearful, vengeful, envious, resentful, and deceitful. The other wolf is compassionate, loving, generous, truthful, and peaceful.’

The child asks, ‘Which wolf will win the fight?’

The elder responds, ‘The one I feed.’

…That doesn’t mean we try to deny or hurt or kill the angry wolf. If we did that, we’d end up in a long battle, all the while somehow making that wolf more powerful through our hostility and fear.”

3. Things We Should Say More Often

This is just one of many gems from Kid President. Too often, we forget that our kids deserve the same courtesy and kindness that we would extend to one of our adult friends. Out of all these powerful + positive parenting videos, this one is most likely to put a big smile on your face!

Here’s a sample of the list…

20. Thank you. (And not just on Thanksgiving, everyday!)
19. Excuse me.
18. Here’s a surprise corn dog that I bought you because you’re my friend. (There’ll be more corn dogs and more happy people. This is a good idea!)
17. I’m sorry.
16. I forgive you.
15. You can do it!

4. Love the Kid You Have

This short film has no dialogue but always reminds me of this quote:

“Parenthood is about raising and celebrating the child you have, not the child you thought you’d have. It’s about understanding your child is exactly the person they are supposed to be. And if you’re lucky, they might be the teacher who turns you into the person you’re supposed to be.” – The Water Giver

To read more about this short film, check out How Society Kills Your Creativity – In An Award Winning Pixar-Esque Short Film.

5. The Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto

This clip is from an appearance on Oprah with Dr. Brené Brown, who is a researcher, professor, and author. Dr. Brown is also a parent, and Oprah asked her to share her Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto.

Here’s a taste for you:

“Above all else, I want you to know that you are loved and lovable.

You will learn this from my words and my actions, the lessons on love, and how I treat you and how I treat myself.

I want you to engage with the world from a place of worthiness.

You will learn that you are worthy of love belonging in joy every time you see me practice self-compassion and embrace my own imperfections.

We will practice courage in our family by showing up, letting ourselves be seen, and honoring vulnerability.

We’ll share our stories of struggle and strength. There will always be room in our home for both…” – Dr. Brené Brown

6. The Way We Talk to Kids Matters

This video is a little different than the other positive parenting videos in the list because it’s targeted to people who work in schools. Still, this one always makes me reflect on my own tone as a parent.

And when the school administrator talks to the teacher about her students’ behavior, I cringe because I have definitely done the same when telling my husband about our kids’ behavior…in front of the kids.

“It doesn’t have to be this way. Everyone we meet throughout our day can make a difference. All the difference.

Talk with us, not at us.

Teach us what we need to know. That’s how we get smarter.

And when you talk with us and teach us, give us bigger and bigger words. Words that we can use to read and understand. And that will take us places we could never reach without you.”

7. How to Talk So Kids Will Listen to You

Josh Shipp is a parent, author, and advocate for youth. He has a few great positive parenting videos, but this one’s my favorite.

“When you ask a kid a question, you are inviting and evoking critical thinking. And ultimately as parents, that’s what we want. A fully functioning teenage human being who – without us there, in our absence – can analyze a situation and know in that moment what the wise choice is.

Focus on questions [and] get them to come to those conclusions so they will own those conclusions for life.” – Josh Shipp

8. Your Normal May Be Their Magic

This sweet video shows a normal day from both the mother’s and the child’s perspectives. Never forget that your “normal” may be their magic.

Download my FREE cheat sheet as a bonus for joining my newsletter: 16 Miracle Phrases to Help You Reconnect With Your Child

Your Turn

What are your favorite positive parenting videos? Share in a comment below!

8 Best Positive Parenting Videos to Make You a Better Parent

Author information


I’m a mom of four, a recovering perfectionist, and the author of Happy You, Happy Family. Parenting is hard enough without all the guilt we heap on top of ourselves. So let’s stop trying to be perfect parents and just be real ones. Sound good? Join my mailing list and as a bonus, you’ll get 25+ incredibly helpful cheat sheets that will ease your parenting struggles.

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The Ultimate List of Baby-Care Hacks for First Time Parents

When you’re a first time parent with a baby, it can be crazy and stressful. It seems no matter how much you prepare yourself something always goes wrong. But that’s okay! It’s a learning curve, and sometimes you have to know some helpful hacks to make things go more smoothly. Here are some great care hacks for first-time parents of babies. I have a few of my own to share, and I’ve gathered up a few others from experienced parents.

Baby-Care Hacks for First Time Parents

First Week Hacks

Just Snuggle!
Dana of Natural Earthy Mama suggest spending as much time in bed with baby as you can in the first week. “It is a magical time that you will never get back. Relax, snuggle, sleep, feed and bond. Put off visitors for those first few days so that you can really focus on you and baby.”

Stop Endless Visitors
It’s okay to say no to visitors or set specific boundaries if you’re not feeling up to it yet.
Niki of Toot’s Mom is Tired suggests having a sip and see party. “Instead of everyone coming to your house on their own terms to meet the baby, have a sip and see party at someone else’s house. You won’t have to deal with lots of random guests and everyone gets to meet the baby.”

Diapering Hacks

Easily Spot Wet Diapers
Most disposable diapers actually have a line across the front of them that is yellow when dry and blue when wet. This way you don’t have to get a fussy baby’s diaper off to see if they’ve soiled it and be wrong.

Sing During Diaper Changes
Kayla of Parenting Expert to Mom has this great idea: “Sing a song to your baby while you change their diaper. This will help distract a squirmy baby and is a great tool to encourage language development.”

Prevent Messes
Tiffany of Mom Goes Mental recommends this: “Put a cloth diaper flat under the baby on top of the changing pad cover. You’ll wash the cover far less often because only the cloth diaper gets dirty!”
You can also put the clean diaper under the dirty one while you get the baby cleaned up.

DIY Wipes
Here’s what Kayleigh of Pigeon and the Peacock suggests for wipes: “Use cloth wipes even if you don’t cloth diaper. You can even just cut up old shirts, old velour sweatpants, extra receiving blankets, etc. Keep water next to the change station to dampen them. It saves you money and is way gentler on baby’s bum, especially if they have a rash.”
Kayleigh has a facbeook group for Mom Hacks as well! Check it out here.

Laundry Hacks

Laundry Bags
If you don’t want to lose things like baby socks and smaller clothes or hats, put them in a mesh laundry safe bag so they can be cleaned and stay right in the bag without being lost! Small baby socks can also get caught in the motor of your front loading washer, so keeping them in a bag can prevent costly repairs.

You Don’t Need to Wash Baby Clothes Separately

Washing all of babies clothes in separate loads can result in a lot of extra laundry. Just choose a gentle detergent and put everyone’s clothes in the same load.

Baby Bathing Hacks

Don’t Bathe Too Often
Babies don’t need a bath everyday. In fact, bathing too often can lead to dry skin. Read my post about how often babies need baths.

How to Clean Baby Without a Baby Bathtub
Shari of Diary of a SoCal Mama suggests: “Do family showers with your newborn. Everyone gets to shower and it’s extra bonding time!”
Also, most kitchen sinks are the perfect size to give your older baby a bath once they have enough core control to sit on their own. We used a baby bath sponge mat for younger babies that just needing a quick wipe down.

Baby Clothing Hacks

Don’t Buy Too Much in Advance
Caitlin from Real Mom Recs says: “Don’t go crazy buying tons of baby clothes ahead of time! Just get a few essentials and wait to see how big the baby is and buy things as needed. My little guy was born at almost 9 pounds and skipped newborn size clothes and diapers altogether! I’ve also seen babies come out a girl when the parents were told boy and vice versa.”

Think about Seasons

In the winter, infants live in footed sleepers. In the summer, they live in onesies. Keep seasons in mind when buying clothing. Also, baby won’t need more than one coat or one pair of shoes in their early months before they start walking.

Baby Sleep Hacks

Start Sleep Routines from the Start
Samantha of The Mommy Motivator suggests this: “Establish a positive sleep association from day one. I started using a sound machine for night time and naps the day my son came home and even though he’s 2 now, he will immediately get sleepy when he hears a sound machine, fan, white noise or soothing soundscape. I actually get tired the second a sound machine is turned on too!”

Create a Relaxing Place to Sleep
You can help your baby develop healthy sleep habits by making sure they can sleep in a quiet, calm space. A bassinet is great for newborns because it helps them feel more secure than a full sized crib.

Feeding Hacks

Remove Film From Bottles
A combination of baking soda, soap, and hot water can clean even the most difficult baby bottles easily!

Feeding a Sick Baby
Try this trick from Keyona of Professional Momma: “If your sick baby refuses a bottle, offer the bottle while they are sleeping. Their suck reflex is strong and will take over.”
I also have a few ideas for breastfeeding a sick baby. You need to make sure their airway is clear, and they may need to eat more frequently in smaller amounts.

Burp Cloths
Kat from Califf Creations says: “Don’t waste money on fancy burp cloths, they are tiny and don’t absorb well. Instead, get some cloth diapers, they work so much better!”

Keep Supplies Where You Need Them
Store bibs and extra spoons in a basket under or near your high chair.

On the Go Hacks

Always be Prepared
Rigel of Holes in Your Socks says: “Keep a backup set of diaper bag basics tucked somewhere like the trunk of your car or the bottom of the stroller, etc., so you aren’t caught without at least the bare essentials if you forget to repack/refill the diaper bag before grabbing it again for another outing (it’s bound to happen!).”

Keep the Pacifier Clean On The Go
Brittanie from A Quiet Soul recommends using a pop pacifier. “When baby drops it – it pops closed and protects the nipple (and your baby) from germs!”

Hopefully, these can help make your life a lot easier while taking care of your precious new kiddo. Which of the baby care hacks will you be using and sharing in your future? Let me know in the comments!

Baby-Care Hacks for First Time Parents

The post The Ultimate List of Baby-Care Hacks for First Time Parents appeared first on Healthy Happy Thrifty Family.

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Dads: How To Stay Connected With Your Kids

Even When You Don’t Live Together

Research is unequivocal. Dad matters. As long as he is safe towards his family,  the more a dad is present and involved in his children’s lives in a positive way, the better the outcomes for everyone. Fathers make unique and direct contributions to their children’s wellbeing, from better physical health to more prosperity. Children with involved dads have higher IQs, and tend to be more prosperous. They also have a better sense of self-esteem, and grow up with more self-control, confidence and self-worth.

That’s why we celebrate fathers on the first Sunday of September each year. Father’s Day is supposed to be a day of joy, belonging and love and a recognition of the important role dad plays in the lives of his children. For many families the day is exactly that – joyful. But it can also be a day of difficulty for some dads and their daughters or sons.

In certain challenging circumstances dads don’t live with their children. And in other situations, there may be dads who are working or away from the family for other reasons. (Father’s Day can also be tough for single mums, or for kids who can’t see their dad at all. Unfortunately, that’s an article for another day.)

How can Dads who aren’t around their family on Father’s Day make it a positive day for themselves and their children?

How to be present when you’re not present?

It can be tricky being present while not actually being physically with someone. But some interesting recent research indicates that it is not the actual amount of time that is spent with your kids that matters (although we all know it is important). Instead, it is the subjective experience of time that matters. Kids need to experience ‘fluid, meaningful time with each parent’ – the kind of time that allows for deep and natural connection.

In short, our children understand that we cannot always be with them. But their experience of time while we are with them is what matters. Do they feel like we’re part of their lives?

Here’s how to do that. These ideas won’t work for every dad in every situation. But they’re helpful thought-starters that might give you a gentle assist if you’re struggling.

Make time for everyday things.

To the extent you can, make time to do the tasks and activities that are part of your child’s everyday life. Do some school drop offs and help them with their homework. Drive them to rugby training or piano practice. Play in the garden and have breakfast together. More than big exciting events, these everyday things build a naturally close relationship with your child – even if you can’t do them every day.

For a FIFO worker, be involved when you are home. For a divorced/separated dad, do more than just fun weekends. Be involved in the nitty gritty when custody decisions allow.

Have some one-on-one time.

When time is short, it is easy to try to maximise your efforts. When you have more than one child, this might take the form of spending your available time with all of your kids all the time. And if you are a remarried parent, you may also have a new partner and step-kids thrown into the mix.

As much as you are able, it is great to be able to spend one-on-one time with each of your kids. Even if it’s just 20 minutes – time alone with your child gives them a chance to talk to you about worries or concerns or just things that are going on in their lives, without other distractions. Kids adore having dad’s full attention.

Make contact easy.

With today’s technology, distance is barely a barrier. Phone calls, emails, text messages and FaceTime, mean that you can reach out to your kids in many different ways, many times a day. But more importantly, it means your kids can reach out to you.

Make sure they know how to contact you. And then make sure they know that they can contact you whenever they need to.

Importantly, make contact regularly. Too many kids have told me “My dad never texts or calls. We only talk when he has to be in touch.”

Create new family traditions

When you aren’t around all the time, for whatever reason, it is easy to feel out of the loop when it comes to family traditions. Yet family traditions are an important way to stay engaged with your kids.

If you’re a dad that works long distance, you can create traditions that you can do whenever you are in town. It doesn’t matter whether it’s pancakes for breakfast the first day home or kicking a ball in the garden in the afternoons. It’s just important that it’s something that you and your kids enjoy doing together.

If you’re a dad who’s living away from his kids for a portion of the time due to separation or divorce, you can create new ‘family’ traditions with the kids. Again, they don’t have to be big or expensive things – bike rides on the weekends, or pizza nights are great. Again, it’s the little things that make the biggest impact.

I recently spoke with a dad who was separated from his children by the court. He had been investigated (and subsequently found not guilty) of something that meant he could only see his children for one hour each weekend with court-ordered supervision. He made every effort. He went to every appointment. He did whatever it took.

At times his children didn’t want him to show up. At times they refused to speak to him. But his consistency, willingness, and effort paid off. Over a couple of years they learned to talk together, play games together, and develop a relationship that has fortified him and his children. Even in the most trying circumstances, when there’s a will, there’s a way.

Research shows that kids need to have meaningful time with each parent. That means you, Dad.

So, Happy Father’s Day to all the dads who are trying their best every day, even when it’s not easy!


Did you miss the Fathers Don’t Mother webinar? Purchase the recording here

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Screen Time and Our Teens’ Mental Health Crisis

In a 2018 survey half of the parents questioned believed that smart phone usage negatively affected their child’s mental health. And nearly half thought their child was actually addicted to the device.

The parents are right. Study after study points to screen time as a significant predictor of decreased mental health in young people. And parents instinctively know this: something isn’t right with too much screen time. Our kids aren’t themselves – they might get despondent, irritable or aggressive. It’s concerning, but sometimes we wonder what can we do about it? It’s the way of the future after all.

It shouldn’t be. Here’s why.

The Research

From the early 1960s to the early 2000s, measures of wellbeing have consistently risen, particularly for our teens. This data measures things like self-esteem, life satisfaction, happiness, job satisfaction and friendships. However, from 2012 the trend has started to reverse. Rather than data showing wellbeing generally increasing, it is now steadily decreasing.

2012 is also the year that smart phone ownership tipped over to the majority of mobile phone users. It’s the year that their use became widespread among teenagers. And, it’s the year where data shows a surge in depression, anxiety and suicide amongst our teens.

A new study shows that this is not just coincidence. Over 1.1 million young people answered questions about their wellbeing and their screen time use. The data showed that that too much screen time is toxic to our kids. Teens who spend more time on screen activities are more likely to be unhappy. They are more likely to be lonely, depressed, anxious and even suicidal. In fact, nearly half of teens who spent five or more hours a day on a device had contemplated, planned or attempted suicide at least once.

Our teens are in the midst of a mental health crisis, and screens are a big part of the problem. To be clear, screens are not the problem, nor are they the only problem. But they are a genuine contributor to the mental health problem.

The Goldilocks Zone

But it’s not all bad news.

In the story of Goldilocks and the Three Little Bears, Goldilocks is always looking for the ‘perfect’ thing – porridge that is neither to hot nor too cold, a chair that is neither too big nor too small and bed that isn’t too hard or too soft. Each of these things she wanted just right.

This has led scientists and researchers to adopt the idea of a Goldilocks Zone, or the place where all things intersect to make the perfect combination. And now, the University of Oxford has applied the phrase to screen time.

Researchers have discovered there is a point between low and high use of technology that is ‘just right’ for our teens. This is the magical intersection where digital connection can increase creativity, communication and development, and where wellbeing is boosted rather than harmed. This is the Goldilocks Zone.

But where is the Goldilocks Zone? What is the right amount of screen time for our teens? Unfortunately there is no hard and fast answer to those questions. It varies, depending on the child and the device, and whether it’s a weekday or a weekend, and depending on what other activities your child is missing out on in favour of screen time.

As parents it’s our job to help our teens use screens in a way and in an amount that boosts their wellbeing. The below guidelines can help us do just that.

Screen Time Guidelines

  1. Use your common sense. As parents, you know your children best. Trust yourself. Use your common sense, be discerning and exercise your own good judgment when it comes to screen time use.
  2. Consider content and context in determining limits. While some people get caught up on “how much” screen time is ok, my preference is to focus on “what type” of screen time is best. If their screen diet is junk, then keep it short, just like you limit the amount of sugar they eat. If they’re doing valuable and legitimate learning or truly useful social things, be more flexible. Content matters. So does context. It’s not ok to have screens in rooms or at the table. You may have other rules too. The context should determine whether kids are ok to be on screens. Friends over? No screens! Chores done, homework done, and reading done? Sure, have some fun on screens. When considering all the things our kids are missing out on when they are on screens – time to develop and deepen relationships, to be creative and to engage in physical activity – we want to be intentional about how and when screens are used.
  3. Encourage other activities. When your kids ask to play videogames or use the tablet have a list of things ready to suggest instead. Things like:
    • Have you played outside?
    • Have you spent time with a friend?
    • Have you read a book?
    • Have you tidied your room?

What you suggest, and how firmly you suggest it, is up to you. But by engaging in these types of activities, children will do much more for their brains, their bodies and their wellbeing, then sitting in front of a screen. (I’ve written additional suggestions here.)

  1. Make sure Goldilocks Screen Time is Healthy Screen Time. Even when the kids are using screens, make sure that they are having positive screen and media experiences. Even better if these are shared as a family.

Active, positive use of screens should be encouraged, but as parents we know when enough is enough. And certainly our teens have had enough. If we can get them to put down the game controller and head out on the oval, or set aside the iPad and get their nose in a book, we’re going to have happier and healthier kids.

If you have younger kids, I’ve written about guidelines for screen time for our little ones, here.


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