As 2013 comes to a close, I have been reflecting back on what posts and ideas generated the most interest over the last year. This is the first of several posts I’ll share to sum up Harvard Homemaker’s Best of 2013. Here I have highlighted some favorite parenting tips. If you missed these ideas previously, I hope you find a few thoughts that resonate with you!
If you click on a photo or the title of each section, you’ll be led to where that idea was originally posted if you’d like to read further.
Also, please don’t miss this post I recently wrote with 10 Thoughts on How to Raise Grateful Children.
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Most kids cannot stand having sunblock applied, especially to their faces. To make this easier, stand behind your child so your hands can cup naturally over his/her face. This way you won’t be poking their eyes out while they moan and groan! You can also anchor them against your body so they aren’t tossed around so much.
I feel like every time I turn around, one of my kids is on antibiotics for something. Occasionally two or more kids need medicine simultaneously. It can be so hard to keep track of everything! We finally got smart and started keeping a chart in our kitchen. My husband and I can cross-check one another now, and we rarely forget a dose anymore.
My doctor gave me this handy tip. Until kids can tie their own shoes, they really don’t have the dexterity to brush their teeth well. I’m all for encouraging independence, so maybe your child gets to brush first and then you finish up to ensure he/she is getting the necessary dental care. This rule makes things black and white so there can be no arguing (“Sorry! Doctor’s orders!”), and it will probably encourage your child to work on tying those shoes, too!
This trick is just plain fun. Help your kids memorize those hard-to-remember “nines” when learning how to multiply. For a detailed explanation on how this trick works, please click the image below.
This is another fun tip. Make your kids’ water bottles and sports equipment easy to spot by adding colorful duct tape. No more grabbing somebody else’s stuff by mistake or vice versa! Kids love to add some of their personality to their gear, too!
I’m also a huge fan of adding personalized stay-put waterproof labels (that can even go through the dishwasher!) from a place like Label Your Stuff or Mabel’s Labels. We have labels from both websites, and they are so handy! I put them on everything: umbrellas, lunchboxes, water bottles, backpacks, soccer balls, fins for swim team, even on the inside of my own sunglasses! I’m still using some I got 7 years ago, and they have really helped us relocate lost items over time.
As you’ll learn via my About Me page, I try to live by the motto “Choose to be Happy.” In order to help our children focus on the good in their lives, too, we have started jotting down some special moments (big and small) throughout our year. Then at year’s end, we then pull the slips out of the jar and reflect back on the happiness we experienced. Some days (and even years) may not be good on the whole, but there is good in each day. We need to hang on to the positives in life.
What to do with all those 8×10 portraits of your children? Tuck them into an album, and then one day you will have a perfect gift ready to go for your child with photos through the years!
My girls each have an album with their full name and birthdate engraved on the front that I use for their portraits. I highly recommend any album from Exposures if you are looking for one that will last through the years without yellowing your photos. I have yet to find a company that I trust more for our precious pictures! I have also given an album like this as a baby gift many times so the parents can start this tradition for their child. (If you order one, make sure you also order the insert pages of your choice to go along with it.)
This post with 10 Things to Think About Before Your Child Starts Kindergarten (That Have Nothing to Do with Academics) has been very popular in general, but the tip below gets the most attention on Pinterest. We parents often worry so much about making sure our children are ready academically for kindergarten that we forget to teach them the practical things… such as showing them how to open all the containers in their lunchbox!
Side note: My girls love lunchboxes like this where they unzip flat so it’s easy to see what’s inside. They also fit well in their backpacks because they’re not as bulky as other lunchboxes. You can monogram them, too, in case they are misplaced.
When I wrote this post (my most-viewed post to date) with organizing tips galore (!), I was surprised to see how often the idea below was pinned on Pinterest. With four daughters, we have a lot of hair accessories, and I finally consolidated them in a “tackle box” like this that I store in my kitchen in order to keep everything in one place. Most little girls don’t like getting their hair done, so you can distract them by styling their hair while they eat breakfast (we have a bench at our kitchen table that makes this easy, but you can also have your kids turn their chair sideways so you can reach their hair). My oldest three girls cooperate now, but it’s still so much easier to have an assembly line of sorts each morning. I don’t really do their hair while they’re eating anymore (it’s not necessary to distract them), but they still sit at the bench while I move down the row, one by one! Such an efficient system for a family with girls!
This is one of the most-pinned ideas on Pinterest that I have shared from my site, and I’m declaring it my #1 parenting tip for 2013. It was first shared in this post with 100+ Ideas to Help Organize Your Home and Your Life. When each of my girls turns 5, it’s become like a rite of passing for her to start making her own bed every day (and I mean every day). My third daughter actually dragged me into her room on her 5th birthday (when I took the photo below) because she was so excited to show me that she’d made her bed when she jumped out of it that morning! (Shocking, I know, but she suddenly felt “grown up” like her sisters!)
I never, ever fix their work. You won’t believe how fast they get better at it, and I feel like if I straighten up their bed after they make it, they will go from feeling proud to feeling like they disappointed me. If this is a rule in your house and you stick to it, I’d be surprised if it doesn’t become a habit for your kids rather quickly, and pretty soon they will be making their beds without a second thought each morning. (My kids often make their beds even in hotel rooms before they realize that’s not really necessary!) You won’t believe how much more “together” your house will feel each day when all the beds are made (and you weren’t the one racing around to make them)! It also helps to show your children early on that you are all a team; you’re working together to keep the house in order so life feels less chaotic for everybody. This skill instills confidence as well since 5-year-olds are often surprised to learn that they are, in fact, capable of making a bed like a grown-up!