October 2009

Set Those Clocks Back and Enjoy the Fall

It’s something that we all beg for on a daily basis—more time. We always moan and complain about how we just don’t have enough of it, how we can’t get anything done, and if we just had a few more hours in the day we would be able to finish what we have to do.

In reality, we are blessed with 24 hours every single day. That’s a lot of hours! Even taking out a chunk to sleep—as well as to commute, work, eat and bathe—we’re still left with several hours to spend with our families and ourselves. And during the fall, we’re blessed with an extra hour when we set our clocks back as the season turns.

Sure, you could spend it tackling that massive to-do list we all have and simply can’t escape from; but it’s still going to be there in the morning. Instead, why not add an hour of something special to your day instead? Here are a few ideas; feel free to add your own.

November is Family Stories Month

The art of family storytelling has fallen by the wayside in an age of video games, TiVo and instant gratification. A once exciting activity that made every person a storyteller, every memory fodder for entertainment and enthrallment is now a distant memory—if even that!—for most people. Today we get our stories mostly from our cell phones or television—or, if we’re lucky enough, a book or two.

November is a perfect month to rekindle the love of the family story. Why not spend the extra hour we receive telling stories? It’ll be dark, cold; perfect for cuddling up on the sofa under a blanket with some hot chocolate and stories. If it’s still warm enough, you could even do it outside around a bonfire while roasting your dinner or some treats. Start a family story night during which everyone shares a story for that evening’s entertainment, rather than watching a movie or playing video games.

How to Celebrate Halloween When You Can't

Halloween is listed as a favorite holiday for many people. Kids and adults alike look forward to the night of mischief and mayhem all year long, and revel in the costumes, candy and general merrymaking. But for various reasons, some people may not be able to celebrate Halloween this year.

Whether you have to work or travel, have a loved one in the hospital, or for any other reason, you may not be able to partake in the normal festivities that October 31 brings. But you can still celebrate Halloween, even if you have to be creative about it. Here are some ways to still get in your tricks and treats this year.

If you’re traveling…

Should Non-Parents Get Extra Time Off?

Recently I came across an interesting argument over parental leave. My situation was unique and I never had to worry about maternity leave, but plenty of mothers—as well as fathers—need it every year to help get into the swing of being a new parent.

Not only do many mothers need maternity leave for health reasons—particularly during high risk pregnancies—but both mothers and fathers need it to give adequate care for their young one. In many countries, the entire family helps with a new baby; in some, doctors or government supplied helpers are even sent to the home for regular visits or help with care.

Tomorrow is Cranky Co-workers Day

If you have co-workers, you probably have at least one Cranky Co-Worker. You know who he or she is. Walking around carrying the weight of the world, either sighing disdainfully every five seconds or complaining loudly to any and all who will (or won’t) listen, he or she is the reason that you either drink extra coffee, clock out as soon as the clock strikes quitting time, or simply avoid said person at any cost.

To be fair, we all have our cranky days. You wake up on the wrong side of the bed, you get a migraine, you battle your kid over everything from breakfast to not wearing his Halloween costume to school…whatever. But most of us can get past the doldrums or cantankerous crabbiness and move on with our days—if not today, then we’ll try starting over tomorrow.

Howl at the Moon

Gargle a little, drink some hot cider or tea and warm up your vocal chords for tonight’s big performance. At 9:00 PM this evening, you and your family can take part in the first-ever Annual Planet-Wide Moon Howl!

Just in time for the Where the Wild Things Are film, the Moon Howl marks a night where everyone on the planet can stop what they’re doing—the mundane details of day-to-day living, the glazed-eye primetime viewing, the dish-washing, phone-answering, and other busywork-doing—and embark on the wonderful act of howling.

Hassle Free Birthday Parties

Last year, we held our toddler’s birthday party at a kiddie play place—you know, with games, rides, music and such. Big mistake. Not only was it highly impersonal, loud and chaotic, it was also just way too much for a little kid. Maybe it would be fun for a bigger kid, but this was simply overkill.

Yes, the kids had fun, and I guess that’s the point—but what happened to the days when we held simple get-togethers for fun without so much expectation and expense? Here are a few ways you can make your child’s next birthday a bit more down to earth and personal.

Skip the fancy venue. Instead of spending a hundred dollars—or more!—to rent a place, have it at your home, the park, or the home of a friend or relative with plenty of room. All kids really need is a safe space to play in.

National School Bus Safety Week

Whether your child is in preschool or pre-Med, singing on the bus to school or sleeping on the bus to Madrid, bus safety will always be an important part of his or her travel. By teaching proper bus safety to them today, you might help save their lives tomorrow.

About 22.5 million kids ride the school bus every day, and an average of 41 children die in bus-related accidents annually. More than half of these are young children. Though school buses are generally considered one of the safest ways to travel, kids aren’t supervised on the bus individually; being coached on good bus behavior is integral to maintaining their safety during transit.

October is National Eat Better and Eat Together Month

Since the month of October is a time of sweets given door-to-door, you might find it ironic that it’s also National Eat Better, Eat Together Month. Many of us wish that this month were every month; after all, we want to be good parents and we want to keep our kids happy and healthy.

Sometimes it’s just really hard to do that. Between crazy schedules, mealtimes and meal planning often get kicked to the side, replaced with fast food, takeout and separate meal times. If your family members work different shifts, there’s not much that can help the time periods; but oftentimes families can find the time to share at least one meal together.

For example, in my home, my husband works second shift, which means he isn’t home even remotely near a good dinner time. So we make sure to share lunch with our daughter together—as well as breakfast as often as we can.

How Do You Define Quality Time?

When asked what the number one thing they’d like to have more of in their lives might be, most parents respond, “More quality time with my children.” But what exactly is quality time? I suppose it’s the time that’s not spent yelling at your kids to hurry up in the morning, stop pulling the cat’s tail, or to stop fighting with each other.

Faced with hectic schedules, multiple jobs and school activities, today’s parents—and kids—sometimes have a hard time finding the rare moment to just be together, let alone make that time spent qualify as “quality time.”

How Has Parenting Changed You as a Person?

“A baby changes everything,” we’re told since conception (or even before). Yes, we know, we say, and go about our lives as normally as ever, thinking that it won’t change us that much. But after the baby comes, we realize how sagacious the comment our well-meaning loved one (or acquaintance) made was—even if just this once.

There’s no doubt about it: kids bring change to our lives. Sometimes the changes are so tiny that you can’t even put your finger on them until years later. Other times, they are so monumental that we barely even recognize ourselves anymore.