Category Archives: Parenting

Bloomberg Businessweek Lean Out Cover_featured

Bloomberg Businessweek Cover Story Concludes Dads Want It All, Too

Bloomberg Businessweek magazineMoms aren’t the only ones who want it all. More and more dads want that elusive balance of successful career and doting parental role, too, as Bloomberg Businessweek finds.

The lamentation of gender roles and their longtime rigidity have become so predictably and so often associated with women that the concepts are nearly synonymous.

Working mothers who want to climb the corporate ladder, yet be hailed as Mother of the Year. Or maybe stay-at-home moms who at once love their children, but feel a twinge of regret at sacrificing a successful career.

Despite those long-held stereotypes, it’s not all about Mom and whether she can or can’t have it all. At least not according to a recent Bloomberg Businessweek cover story that concludes dads crave that elusive work-life balance as much—or more—as moms do.

The cover headline, “Lean Out: Working Dads Want Family Time, Too,” is a riff on Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s exhortation for women to “lean in”—or prioritize career ambitions without being held back by the worry of how they’ll manage work and family.

For so long, the extent of a father’s role has largely been viewed as being a provider. You don’t often (or maybe ever?) hear the term “working father,” but “working mother” is freely used. There’s even a magazine of the same name.

Speaking of magazines, if you flip through any parenting title, the content is geared mostly to moms—working or not.

And according to a number of commercials—from diapers to detergent—fathers, bless their hearts, are portrayed as bumbling—at best—through the domestic duties moms pull off with ease.

Finally, it seems, dads have had enough. These “Alpha Dads,” as the Bloomberg Businessweek article describes them, are just as serious about their next promotion as they are about showing up for their kids’ soccer games.

But thanks to those archaic gender roles, men face their own set of challenges if they try to scale back their time at the office in favor of being a more present parent.

Working dads who want to work less to gain more family time are concerned with how they’ll be viewed by their peers and superiors and whether that will hold them back career-wise. They also struggle with something of an identity crisis because they are providing less—in terms of time with their jobs or money earned.

It’s long been a common regret among men—to have spent more time with the family than at the office—but this newer generation of dads is being more vocal about doing something about it.

 

The Atlantic_featured

3 Important Points from The Atlantic Magazine’s Cover Story on Toddlers and Tablets

The Atlantic magazine subscriptionEver wondered what effect tablet use will have on a toddler’s development? It’s too soon for research-backed answers, but The Atlantic examines some of the anecdotal evidence.

Your tablet or other touch-screen device probably started out as a godsend that made your life more convenient. Then that convenience somewhere along the way also became a way to placate a fussy child in public or occupy one at home.

Whether it’s an option of last resort or it’s an educational tool, do you ever wonder what effect turning your toddler on to a tablet will do to his or her development?

That’s an answer that’s still under construction, according to The Atlantic magazine’s April cover story, simply because tablets are too new and the data is largely anecdotal.

Still, with the amount of time and research that’s gone into developing the more than 40,000 apps directed at children—many to toddlers in particular—just on iTunes alone, it’s a question worth asking nonetheless.

Though The Atlantic article made no firm conclusions nor passed along any concrete professional recommendations, it did make three important points regarding toddlers and tablet use.

Interactive vs. Passive: The most closely related research between children and media use has been with television, long regarded a passive activity. Some research, though, suggests it’s not as stupor-inducing—even in young children—as we may think.

That’s where future research examining tablet use and interactive apps gets exciting. So far, only Nickelodeon’s Blue’s Clues show mimicked that responsiveness in which children felt they were interacting the medium, but even then, that was only a one-way exchange of information.

In the void of such research giving the stamp of approval to interactive app use, many parents place limits on how long their little ones can play on their tablets.

Educational vs. Fun: Many parents justify their children’s use of apps by limiting them to educational ones. However, the article suggests that not everything in a child’s life is “educational.” For example, what does a child learn by running around the yard, climbing a tree or feeling the sand between his fingers at the beach?

They are all experiences, yes, but what is gleaned from them? To that end, not every app can be labeled as purely educational in the sense that it teaches the alphabet, phonics and the like. To a child, as long as an app is fun, he or she is drawn to it.

And if somehow an educational app, like Noodle Words or The Numberlys, is both fun and educational, then all the better.

Essential vs. Non-Essential: It’s quite easy for adults to see touch-screen devices, such as tablets or smartphones, as essential pieces of their lives. To children, many of whom have never known a world without them, it’s often viewed as just another diversion.

Hanna Rosin, who wrote the article, took the approach with her 4-year-old that was used by another writer, who allowed his son access to the iPad whenever and for however long he wanted to use it. When the restrictions were lifted, Rosin’s son turned to the iPad for several hours a day. But after about ten days, the tablet fell out of the rotation in favor of other his other toys. (The same happens with TV watching, too.)

Even after, Rosin wrote that he picked up the iPad less often, and when he did, it was to play a game that was prompted by an activity at school, such as learning the alphabet.

Easter '06

KIWI Magazine Suggests Natural Ways to Dye Easter Eggs

Natural Dyes for Easter EggsWould you prefer to stay away from artificial dyes to color your Easter eggs this year? If you’ve got beets, blueberries, curry powder—and patient kids—on hand, you can.

My family loves eating boiled, dyed Easter eggs after the hunts are over, but I always feel a little weird when I peel the shell and find the egg has turned a funny shade of green or blue.

Am I really going to go to the trouble to buy organic, cage-free eggs, stick them in some unknown chemical dye and then happily feed them to my family?

KIWI magazine had a great way to create do-it-yourself colored eggs that are free from all the artificial dyes.

The magazine cautions that this process takes longer than dissolving a tablet in some vinegar. But if you have some older (and patient) kids, the results are gorgeous and very natural-looking.

The eggs must soak in the dyes five to 15 minutes (depending on how deep you want the color to be). Have kids attach stickers before submerging the eggs and then peel them off after to reveal white patterns underneath.

Here are a few natural ways to achieve egg colors:

Pink: Bring one 15-ounce jar of beets to a boil in 1 cup of water. Simmer for five minutes. Pour through a colander into a bowl to retain liquid. Cool and stir in 1 teaspoon of vinegar.

Yellow: Bring 1 tablespoon of turmeric or curry powder to a boil in 2 cups of water. Simmer five minutes. Cool.

Blue: Bring 2 cups frozen blueberries to a boil in 2 cups of water. Simmer for five minutes. Pour through a colander into a bowl to retain liquid. Cool and stir in 1 teaspoon of vinegar.

 

Valentines Day Ideas_featured

5 Tips for Celebrating Valentine’s Day–Family Style

Valentines Day IdeasWant to include the whole family in your Valentine’s Day plans? Here are five sweet and simple ways to enjoy the evening with everyone you love.

Parenting School Years magazine is asking parents to give up the Valentine’s Day date night and hang out with the kids at home instead.

The upside, says the magazine, entails far more than not having to find and pay for a sitter: some good old-fashioned family fun and bonding. Oh, and ladies, two words: no heels.

Here are the parenting magazine’s five tips for celebrating Love Day with the whole gang:

1. Deck the Halls in Color: Go all out for the kids (and your sweetheart) by decorating the dining room with streamers and hearts in all shades of red, pink and white. If you’re feeling really daring, you could always go for some super cute temporary heart tattoos from Tattoofun.com (see image below).

2. Seek Love and You Will Find…: Hide confection paper hearts all over the house for the kids to find. Whoever finds the most hearts gets to cash in on a special holiday prize.

MomTattoo.jpg3. Design a Heart-y Menu: Are you serving pizza, or is that “a Slice of Heaven”? A root beer float for dessert? Nah. You’re slurping on an “In the Clouds.”

4. Romance Hollywood-Style: You’ve had dinner; now it’s time for the movie. Break out the pillows and blankets, and snuggle in for a family classic like “A Charlie Brown Valentine” or “Lady and the Tramp.” So sweet.

5. “I Love You Because…”:
Take the time to have everyone go around the dinner table and share five reasons why they love each family member. It’s okay to cheat and help the little ones write their love notes out before the big reveal.

Who knows? You might get some more appreciation the other 364 days of the year. If not, well, better soak up enough lovin’ to last till next Valentine’s Day!

 

Eco-Friendly Products_featured

KIWI Magazine Offers 3 Ways to Go Green in the New Year

Eco-Friendly ProductsPlanning on turning a new leaf this year as a family? Going green can be accomplished in big and small ways, using these eco-friendly product suggestions from KIWI magazine.

If one of your family’s New Year’s resolutions is to live a greener life, then KIWI magazine offers some great ideas to get more earth-friendly in ways that you might not have considered yet.

Get Cozy. Snuggling up next to a warm fireplace feels great in the cold months, but did you know that the crackling flames cause serious indoor and outdoor pollution? Instead, try burning chemical-free Enviro-Logs, which provide a healthier, low-emission fire. Made from waxed cardboard boxes, the logs burn cleaner than wood. And once you’re fire is finished, simply sweep the ashes into a sealed metal container and put them in your trash or compost bin.

Get Clean. Need another reason to use green cleaning products? A recent Boston University study might be all the proof you need. Researchers found that exposure to conventional household cleaners and air fresheners may double the risk of breast cancer. “Many chemicals used in cleaners can disrupt the endocrine system by affecting the natural balance of hormones in the body,” says study author Ami Zota, a doctor of science in environmental health. Researchers asked nearly 800 women who had breast cancer between 1988 and 1995–plus 720 who’d never had it–what type of cleaners they used. Those who used air fresheners more than seven times a year, mold and mildew cleaners weekly and all-purpose surface cleaners daily were twice as likely to develop breast cancer than those who reported low usage.

Get on the Road. You can go green all you want, but if you’re still driving a gas-guzzler you’ll never really reduce your carbon footprint. This month’s KIWI magazine issue features a full-page article on four different options available–two are electric only and two are gas vehicles with fabulous fuel efficiency. After reading the details, I want a new Nissan Leaf, a zero-emission, 100 percent electric vehicle that can drive 100 miles of errands before you need to plug it in.

 

Parent & Child magazine's December 2011-January 2012 issue

7 Holiday Traditions to Get Your Family Talking About What Matters

Parent & Child magazine's December 2011-January 2012 issue

Parent & Child magazine's December 2011-January 2012 issue

Traditions are key to keeping families close, especially during the holidays. Parent & Child magazine is offering up some fantastic ways to get your kids talking about what really matters at this time of year.

As Parent & Child‘s December/January cover girl, Brooke Shields is opening up about her family’s Christmas traditions that keep her family of screenwriter husband Chris Henchy, and their two daughters, Rowan, 8, and Grier, 5, close.

Citing daily family meals sans cell phones as the family’s main face time, Shields says her daughters actually crave discipline and routine–even chores! “We have house rules, like making their own beds every day and putting their dirty clothes in the hamper,” she tells the magazine. “It creates a sense of structure, and they actually really like it.”

Meg Cox, author of “The Book of New Family Traditions: How to Create Great Rituals for Holidays & Everydays,” believes those rituals and traditions are heightened during the holiday season. “If you’re like a lot of people,” she says, “the whole history of your family is hanging on your Christmas tree every year.”

To take advantage of this special time of year and the opportunities for family bonding, here are great holiday traditions to get your own family talking.

1. Read all about it! Give your kids a different book on your family’s holiday tradition–Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa–over the course of a few nights leading up to the big event. Have them open them at the dinner table so you can discuss them together. The themes of the book can help echo and promote your own family’s values.

2. Make your own memory books. Help kids reminisce over holidays past with homemade photo and memory books. With the help of companies like Snapfish, your special books will last for years to come. Maybe this year the kids can help write the new one!

3. Painting ornaments. Shields grew up painting ornaments with her mother each Christmas. Now, she and Henchy get to celebrate that tradition with their own daughters.

4. Tree of stories. Each night before bed, turn off the lights, look at your beautiful, twinkling Christmas tree,  and tell the story of how you came to have one of the ornaments and what each means to you. Snuggling is a must here!

5. A card a day. Wait to open holiday cards until dinner time. Let the kids take turns opening and reading them aloud. You can then talk about how you met the person who sent the card and how much the sender means to you.

6. Let them help. You make the big meal, so why not have the rest of the family set and decorate the table? It will help everyone feel a part of it–until they’re old enough to get in the kitchen and help!

7. Pay it forward.Give your kids a craft kit as an early present. They can use it to make presents and ornaments for friends and family–a tradition that will definitely remind them that this is really a season of giving.