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    Children’s Books About Healthy Eating

    Most parents struggle to get kids to eat healthy. Children can be reluctant to try new things and that includes trying new vegetables and fruits. However, helping your child to develop healthy eating habits is important to their growth and development. It can also have a lasting influence on their adult eating habits. That is why I am happy to bring you this sponsored feature that offers a solution from registered dietician nutritionist, Beth Dunlap. She wanted to make healthy eating choices easier from parents and kids of all ages from toddlers on up. She figured out that children’s books about healthy eating would be the perfect way to get kids on board with wanting to eat healthy so they can grow and get stronger. Not finding what she was looking for on the market, Beth Dunlap decided to write her own healthy eating books for kids which you can find on her Sunny Bites website. I think both you and your children will love her character “Boots the Bear” as he inspires preschoolers to want to try fruits and vegetables.

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    Her new children’s book about healthy eating was feature on Bloom and you can watch the short video clip above to learn more!

    Why Pressure Doesn’t Fix Picky Eaters

    As a dietician nutritionist, Beth Dunlap understood why eating healthy was important to building a healthy body. She also understood that a lot of parental pressure may increase picky eating and make a fussy eater worse. Approach is so important as you don’t want a child to develop negative feelings towards food. Pressure is not the answer. Getting children to buy into trying healthy foods is an important part of the process. Not only does this make feeding kids easier for the parent, it also allows children to think more about what they are putting in their body and begin to make healthy eating choices for themselves.

    How Healthy Eating Books For Kids Can Help

    As a mother, Beth Dunlap discovered how much easier it was to get kids to eat their fruits and veggies when they understood what positive effects these healthy foods have. She knew that children’s books about healthy eating would be the perfect way to help get kids motivated to eat well. Once kids connect with the book character, they learn about the positive effect each fruit and vegetable has on Boots The Bear. Naturally, they want to apply this new found knowledge to themselves so they too can run faster, grow strong teeth, and have good eyesight.

    Beth Dunlap has written a children’s book about eating healthy as well as A Parent’s Guide for raising a healthy eater. Enter for a chance to win a prize pack giveaway on the KidsSunnyBites Instagram page.

    “Hey, Boots the Bear, what do you eat?” [Children’s Book]

    Boots the Bear has a mystery to solve and he needs help from friends. As kids follows Boots on his adventures, they learn how certain foods help fuel the body. Through adorable drawn illustrations of animals your child can connect with Boots the Bear and be interested in learning about how nutrition helps him grow. Through pictures of real children, your child can see that other kids may in fact like strawberries, for instance. Boots the Bear and his friends share how over 25 fruits & veggies plus the 5 color groups help your body grow, run, and play.

    Boots the Bear is ready to answer your child’s question, “Why should I eat my fruits & veggies?” The book includes symbols for each food they encounter such as brain smart, helps build muscles, to healthy heart and more. Boots the Bear shows how each fruit and vegetable helps you grow, run, and play. The symbols help children to connect how these nutrient packed foods help fuel their growing bodies.

    7 Steps to Raising a Healthy Eater: A Parent’s Guide

    Beth knows that feeding young children can be very challenging! She also knows how busy parents can be. That is why she made this super easy to read Parent’s Guide. It is in a magazine style with clear visuals so you can glean a lot of helpful tips and information with a quick glance. Even if you only have time to spare a few minutes here and there, you will learn so much!

    Page 3 of 7 Steps to Raising a Healthy Eater: A Parent’s Guide

    She provides 7 Steps to empower parents with the knowledge they need to help decrease the stress of mealtime. earn what is the flavor window and what age children typically are in the flavor window. Use the “Instead of This, Try This” to learn how to handle real-life situations with your children. Her book makes the enjoyment of meals with toddlers and young kids possible!

    Page 29 of 7 Steps to Raising a Healthy Eater: A Parent’s Guide

    Limited Time Offer: Sign up for her FREE Parent’s Class August 2nd here!

    Healthy Eater Book Bundle

    Get the children’s book “Hey, Boots the Bear, what do you eat?” + Parent’s Guide + Boots the Bear Plush Animal

    I love this healthy eater bundle because it provides the Boots the Bear Plush Animal. I know the power of a stuffed animal with my own son is huge and it really makes the book come alive even more and stay at the front of the child’s mind. The Boots the Bear Plush Animal can even help model trying new foods. The child can role play the bear trying the food and this helps make it more comfortable for them to do so too.

    I recommend this healthy eater bundle 100%. I used this same method of getting kids to understand the health benefits of what they were eating and with my own kids and I can tell you have a two kids that love to try new things and are happy to eat fruits and veggies. I love how her bundle makes the mealtime easy and more enjoyable for for both kids and adults!

    You can learn more or place your order at kidssunnybites.com

    Do you struggle with getting your kids to eat healthy foods? Do you believe in the power of books to help model good behaviors for young children? More

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    Summer Schedule For Kids [Free Printable]

    The warm days of summer certainly encourage us to relax with family and friends and that should be what summer is all about! While you and the kids transition to a less structure filled days, it can still be helpful have a daily schedule so everyone knows what to expect. Whether you are keeping track of summer camps or just wanting to add some learning time into the week, a free summer schedule template can really help keep you get organized.  Plus, it is always fun to cross things off your to-do list! I hope you find this printable summer schedule for kids useful. I have also included a list of a few things you may want to add to your child’s summer schedule.

    Free Summer Schedule Template

    Summer Schedules- Just click on the image and then click on File from your menus and click print!

    This weekly summer schedule includes the days of the week so they can mark important blocks of time. It also includes a To-Do List section (a great place for chores) and a Project or Activity of The Week (great for older kids to set bigger goals). This weekly planner is one of the best ways to add a little structure to your own summer schedule. From quality time to educational activities to summer fun, this will help you fit it all in! I am a big believer in teaching kids how to schedule and manage their time.

    Plan Your Summer Routine

    It might be tempting to let your kids sleep in really late and float through the day without a schedule for the summer days.  We usually allow this for a week tops and then we switch to a daily routine and a kids summer schedule.  This helps keep them from getting too much screen time or getting bored. I also feel like it is a great way to schedule in summer learning activities.

    My kids and I sit down together to plan our daily routines. Depending on the age of your children, 11 and under you may want to take the lead, 12 and over you may want to let them take the planning lead.  It is a great way for them to learn to organize their time. You can print several of the kids summer schedule templates and fill them out each week or all at once in advance and make additions as things come up.

    You may want to schedule in things like summer camp, reading time, musical instrument practice, chores, nap time or quiet time, and bedtime routine. Believe it or not, your kids will appreciate the structure. Don’t forget to put in some down time for creative play and outdoor fun!

    Sample Summer Schedule

    Make Necessary Appointments

    The summer is a great time to schedule in any doctor or dentist appointments that you can get out of the way while the kids are out of school.  If you take your kids to the dentist during the summer, your dentist’s office should be able to block out time during the day to see all of your kids at once.

    Buying School Supplies

    Use this task to teach your kids about getting the best deals on what they need for the new school year. If you haven’t yet, get a hold of the school supply lists that you’ll need for this project. Throughout the summer, have your children track store ads (found in the Sunday paper) for these items, writing down the store and the best price they can find. To extend the lesson, give them a budget that they need to stay within for their school supplies, and then give them that specific amount of money. Take a family field trip to the stores they’ve written down that have the best prices, and have them buy their school supplies.

    Brush Up Those Reading Skills

    Summer reading is a great activity for kids to keep their reading skills sharp and to teach delayed gratification. Many businesses – like Barnes and Noble, Chuck E. Cheese, and Borders – support local reading with special calendars, resulting in free items and additional special offers once the calendars are completed and turned in.   Find  some summer reads for moms and top picks for kids books. It is a great idea to include 10-45 minutes of reading (based on their age) into your child’s daily summer schedule.

    Don’t Forget To Plan Fun Into The Summer Schedule

    Summer tasks are important, but so is fun time with your family and independent play time. Be sure to plan some fun summer activities for kids, putting corresponding outings onto specific dates of your long-term summer calendar. Make sure to schedule in some time for fun things like playing outside, swimming in the community pool, hitting a water park, or heading to the local children’s museum. Get their input on what they would add to their summer bucket list! Consider easy wins like ice cream nights and free time every Friday as a reward for creating and following a predictable routine.

    My son used the printable kids summer schedule template. My daughter had to out do me and hand make her own bullet journal style schedule. They do learn quickly!

    I hope this free summer schedule template helps you organize your summer break because it always flies by!   These summer schedule planning tips should help you make the most of your summer for both fun activities and getting things done!  This is really a great idea for helping your child learn to become organized as well.  Do you think you will give this printable summer schedule for kids a try? What do you think is the best thing about a daily summer routine for the whole family?

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    Travelling abroad when your kids have a different surname

    It’s peak holiday season for UK families as the schools get ready to close for the six-week break. Travelling with kids can be tricky at the best of times but travelling abroad when your kids have a different surname can be complicated.
    Emma Newman, the Managing Partner at the Stowe Family Law office in Esher shares her first-hand experience and explains what a parent can do in advance to help prevent any issues.
    Many of us are now looking forward to enjoying some time away in the sunshine as the summer holiday approaches but if you have a different surname to that of your child you need to take action to avoid unnecessary stress.
    What is in a surname?
    Women are more likely to have a different surname to their children; some, like me, may be divorced from their child’s father and have remarried taking on a new name, others are married but have chosen not to take their husband’s surname whilst their children do, and of course, there are more and more unmarried couples who have children.
    The checks that are in place at ports, airports and international railway stations are designed to prevent children from being kidnapped and are all very understandable, but they have caused a huge amount of stress, upset and even missed flights for many parents and their children. This can easily be avoided by ensuring you carry the right documents. So, what can you do to ensure your holiday goes smoothly?
    Documents you may need
    Much depends on your particular circumstances but the officials need to be satisfied with your relationship with your child so the documents you may need are:
    Your child’s Birth Certificate:
    This document gives the name of your child, their date and place of birth and will match with the details on their passport. It will also give the full names of both parents at the time of their birth. So be careful; if your name has changed since your child was born you will need to take more documents with you.
    Proof of your change of name:
    This could mean travelling with your Marriage Certificate or a Change of Name Deed. On my last trip abroad I also found carrying an expired passport in the name I held at the time of my child’s birth (and therefore as set out in his birth certificate) was very useful as not only did it show what my name was then but it also had a photograph of me and the Border Official was able to marry up the Birth Certificate, Marriage Certificate and the expired and current passports.
    Prepare your children
    You might also want to warn your children that they may be asked questions directly by the immigration officials and they should not be worried and answer clearly and honestly. This is not the time for them to make jokes.  When I have been stopped at immigration my son was asked who I was, who my husband was, where he had been and how old he was.  It was made very clear that he needed to answer himself and I couldn’t answer for him.
    Consent to travel
    If you are not travelling with your child’s other parent, I would always ensure that you can prove you have their consent to your taking the child abroad.
    If there is a Child Arrangement Order in place which states that the child lives with you, technically you only need to obtain the other parent’s consent if you are going to be out of the UK for more than 28 days.
    However, in every other case, you should have the permission of every other person with parental responsibility for the child. If you don’t have this consent or a Court order, you are committing child abduction.
    I always recommend asking the other parent to sign a consent form before travel or to write a letter setting out their consent. The document should provide the full contact details of the other parent and specific details of the trip including the dates, destination and address. The other parent should sign the form. It is also a wise idea to attach a copy of the other parents’ passport to the consent form.
    Travelling abroad with children can be stressful enough. However, you can minimise some of the costs by ensuring you have enough space in your luggage to pack these multitude of documents. Happy holidays! More

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    Firm Associate John Kappel Earns Board Certification in Family Law

    DALLAS – Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson is pleased to announce that attorney John Kappel has become Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. 
     
    Mr. Kappel is the firm’s 14th attorney to receive such a distinction, which is earned by less than 1 percent of eligible Texas attorneys. To earn certification, attorneys receive a concentration of continuing legal education and must complete an exam, among other qualifications. 
     
    “Passing the exam to become board certified is a significant milestone,” said firm Managing Partner Brad LaMorgese. “We are especially proud of John’s achievement and the level of commitment he provides to his Family Law clients.” 
     
    Mr. Kappel joined ONDA in 2019 with a practice focusing on divorce, property division, multijurisdictional child custody, and appeals.
     
    “Board certification in Family Law gives your practice that extra credibility with clients and other attorneys,” said Mr. Kappel. “I am honored to join others at the firm in earning that distinction.”  
     
    Mr. Kappel is a graduate of Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law, with an undergraduate degree from Baylor University. A native of Dallas, he is a member of the Dallas Bar Association Family Law Section and Dallas Association of Young Lawyers. 
     
    Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson (ONDA) has served families for more than 30 years. With offices in Dallas, Frisco, Fort Worth and San Antonio, ONDA is one of Texas’ largest Family Law firms. Each partner is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, as well as a member of the Texas Academy of Family Law Specialists.   More

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    Stowe talks: How to successfully co-parent

    Join family lawyer Sarah Barr-Young and our special guest Tom Nash, aka Mr Divorce Coach and internationally certified Life, Divorce & Business Coach, as he shares his advice on how to navigate and become a successful co-parent following a divorce or separation.In this free hour-long webinar, Tom will share practical tips and techniques to help you improve how you and our partner co-parent, including:
    Book now
    About the speakers 
    Tom Nash, otherwise known as Mr Divorce Coach, is an internationally certified Life & Business Coach, specialising in Divorce, Separation & Family Coaching. Accredited by the Association for Coaching, he also holds Master Practitioner certifications in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), Timeline Therapy, Hypnotherapy & more.
    Partnering closely with family law professionals, he offers an alternative support resource for individuals, couples and their families, assisting in multiple disciplines that include but are not limited to:

    Understanding, Managing & Overcoming Negative Emotions (anger, sadness, fear, guilt, shame, etc.).
    Increasing Confidence & Self-Esteem
    Fostering Improved Communications Strategies
    Positive Mindset & Emotional Wellbeing Techniques
    1:1 Coaching
    Couples & Uncoupling Coaching
    Co-Parenting & Blended Family Coaching

    On a personal front, Tom has experienced divorce, co-parenting and the related ups and downs from a young age. First, during his parents’ acrimonious divorce at the age of 3 years old, and later in life as husband and father of his own marital breakdown. He is a successful co-parent, step-father and blended family specialist.
    Sarah Barr-Young is the Managing Partner of our Ilkley and Leeds offices and has far-reaching family law experience. She is widely regarded for her expertise in complex cases involving allegations of domestic abuse and safeguarding issues. She is frequently chosen for her empathy and unrivalled approachability, and as such, a large majority of her clients choose her due to personal recommendations. More

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    A Look At The Role Of A Father

    The roles of the father in the family have been changing a lot over the last century. Fathers are no longer just the breadwinners while mothers are just the caregivers. The role of the modern dad has shifted and changed. It is time to acknowledge the caring moments of fatherhood that often go overlooked. It is worth remembering just how much dads do and how important they are in the creating a happy family. From both the perspective of a mother and a child, I know just how much I appreciate my husband and my dad and how important the role of a father is.

    What Is The Role Of A Father? Responsibilities of The Modern Dad

    The roles of dads are evolving over time. Today’s modern dad in the United States Of America is more involved with childcare and home responsibilities that in previous generations when these things were considered the mother’s “responsibilities.”

    According to Pew Research Center’s Modern Parenthood study, fathers in 1965 spent only 2.5 hours a week on childcare. With fathers today, that number has jumped to about 7 hours.

    “Wow, 7 whole hours” you’re probably saying, sarcastically. “Start the parade.” But evolution is a process, and the generations of boys we are raising might do even more.

    So what’s changing?

    The era of after work dinners and drinks have been cut downwomen are delegating family tasks to their spouses (more than their mothers did)more men are staying home with their children (more SAHDs than ever)technology is enabling work flexibilitymore women are staying in the workforce – in fact, 40% are the family breadwinner.

    The Role Of Father In Family Is Important

    Involved fathers make a huge difference in children’s lives. There is no question that the role of the father has a huge and direct impact on the cognitive development, social development, and emotional development of the child. A good father no doubt provides children with a leg up in life as he helps prepare the child to be a positive part of the community. This not to take anything away from single parents but when two good parents can be had, it just doubles the child’s support system.

    Contributing To Financial Stability

    Modern dads have so many roles to play. I know that many dads have the role of bringing home the bacon. Let’s face it, that is a pretty important role whether he is the sole bread winner or not. Dads are all about making ends meet and making our dreams come true. From what becomes expected (like putting meals on the table and a roof over our heads) to saving for college, our dads deserve our gratitude. But dads don’t just help provide financial security and increased financial power. Not by a long shot.

    Taking Part In Household And Childcare Responsibilities

    Father involvement in sharing household and childcare responsibilities is an increasing circumstance for today’s families. Today’s fathers are playing more of an equal parenting role. It’s parenting in the sense of presence and not just a paycheck. Modern dads are finding themselves doing the “juggling” of personal and professional responsibilities that women have been doing for years. And they’re realizing how challenging this really is.

    Dads Finding More Family Time

    Modern dads want to be more present and this means more family time. They want to know their kids better– from birth. Our society and culture have encouraged this. Active participation from early childhood has become the norm. My father’s generation was allowed in the delivery room, could even cut the cord and call the gender. Today’s generation of dads are (often) offered paternity leave and childcare benefits as well. Dads are increasing the father’s role for their children emotionally from the mundane to heart stopping moments. When dads take a positive active role in parenting young children, they are creating better bonds and improving social competence which a recent study shows may be related to reducing behavioral problems.

    The Father As A Role Model

    Dads wipe our little baby butts when we are in diapers, wipe our noses, and teach us how to wipe after ourselves! Dads do a lot of the care giving in a household from providing snacks for junior to helping get homework done. They are teachers- by words and by example. Dads teach manners. Dads teach responsibility. Dads teach a healthy respect of authority and following the rules. Fathers get dirty with us as they show us how to play sports and wet with us as they show us how to swim. Dads impart family values and morals through the life that they live and the reminders that they give. They are excellent role models and they contribute to our idea of what healthy relationships look like. A responsible father helps show kids the right way to do things through his own actions.

    Dads Are Life Coaches Too

    Fathers who are present during the young child’s life and offer emotional support, will naturally be someone they turn to for advice. Dads give us aim. Not just with a baseball either. They help us figure out what we aspire to be and help find a path to achieve our dreams. Dads pay for music lessons. Dads line up college campus visits. Fathers talk to us about career choices. Fathers give us relationship advice.

    Dads In Two Parent Families

    In an ideal situation, the fathers’ roles also include being a loving partner. The close relationship that the father and mother have then offers emotional security to the child. The positive effects of a loving relationship are so many they certainly effect the lives of children in so many different ways. Not having to deal with the toxic stress of constantly fighting parents is itself a huge benefit. The positive impact of a close partnership of parents can also be seen as children learn to communicate better, to resolve conflicts better, and to offer compassion and understanding. This positive model helps children develop better relationships in their own lives.

    Many Modern Dads Are Step Fathers

    Let’s not overlook the role of a good step dad in child development to step up and be the replacement dad and/or additional dad to the biological father. Both roles are challenging. A friend once told me of her second husband stating that she admired him so much for being able to step up and fill in the hole her first husband had left in her life and in her children’s life. Now, that is a beautiful thing.

    Conclusion

    The role of a father is ever evolving. Fathers of previous generations may have felt less responsible for child’s development and more isolated in the role of providing financial support. Today’s dads have the opportunity for active involvement in the lives of their children. There’s still time to define your role as the modern dad. 

    Let’s face it. A father’s role to ultimately to be there for his child and provide guidance and support. We should let dads know that we notice everything they do and we are thankful for all of it. I know that my father contributed to making me the person I am today in many ways. I know that my husband’s role as a father is something that I am thankful for. That is why I try to show my gratitude every day. A good dad makes his family’s life better everyday and above all- his love is felt- and returned!

    Share your thoughts about how the modern dad is evolving in the comments. Did I miss any of the roles of the father in the family? Discuss it with me on social media @familyfocusblog!

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    Benefits of Bedtime Rituals And Purpose, Passion and Pajamas Excerpt

    Bedtime rituals are important in all phases of life. From helping soothe a new born to sleep, to relaxing bedtime rituals for young children, and the nightly tuck in for older children. Even adults have important bedtime rituals. Whether it is special pajamas, bedtime music, or a bedtime short story, these series of actions let us know that it is time to settle down and relax so that we can welcome sleep. They also help us recognize that we are safe and feel comforted and happy before we settle in for a night full of what we want to be good dreams. For many, thinking back to bedtime in their childhood will help them feel loved and that is a wonderful thing. Here I will discuss a bit about the benefits of bedtime rituals and share an excerpt from a best selling book on the subject.

    The Importance of Relaxing Bedtime Rituals

    Photo by Ben

    There are the parts of our bedtime rituals that are purely functional- brushing our teeth, setting our alarm clocks, etc. They need to be done and in doing them we let our bodies know that it is time to relax and prepare for sleep.

    But the bedtime rituals have the potential to be so much more than just functional! Bedtime rituals can have many benefits and be a source of well being. As a child, bedtime is a special time when you should feel loved and attended to. This helps set the child up for a restful night of sleep, which is important for improved mood, concentration, and athletic performance. Bedtime rituals offer the opportunity to reset with love and support so that the child may rest easy.

    As Psych Central says, “Bedtime is a daily opportunity to build and nurture your relationship with your child. There’s something about a quiet darkened room that invites conversation. This is a time to take stock, to snuggle, to conversation about some of the important things that your child is thinking about. When children know that bedtime is a time when you give a few minutes of undivided attention, they often save up their most sensitive questions for sharing. Yes, sometimes they’ll use it to hang onto you when you really want to get to your own projects or the newspaper. Calmly set some limits and carry on. This is the real stuff of parenting — building your child’s sense of personal value, answering the big questions, teaching your values through stories and conversation.”

    That was so well put I had to include it all! Most parents will tell you that tucking their children in can take awhile but the bedtime connection is special, fun time that should be cherished and has enormous benefits.

    The Sanctity Of Bedtime Connection And Bonding

    I was speaking with Genevieve Piturro who founded the national nonprofit, Pajama Program and she understands firsthand, “the profound meaning of a loving mom at my bedside as I drifted off to dream.” In fact she says that, “it’s this sacred, quiet bonding time that lays the foundation for a child’s self-worth and self-love that gives us the strength to move past obstacles and challenge as we grow into adulthood.” That sounds like a description of good parenting and love and when you think about it, that is exactly what is happening at bedtime when you both slow down together and focus on each other as parent and child.

    Genevieve Piturro has published an Amazon best seller new book called, Purpose, Passion and Pajamas. It is about her journey founding and growing Pajama Program. I am very excited to share with you that I have been permission to share an excerpt form her new book with you here. It’s about how the sanctity of bedtime between mother and child can impact not only the child’s life decisions as an adult, but also impact millions of others as a result.

    Excerpt from:PURPOSE, PASSION AND PAJAMAS: How to Transform Your life, Embrace the Human Connection and Lead with MeaningRiver Grove Books; Illustrated edition (July 28, 2020)By Genevieve M. Piturro

    Purpose, Passion and Pajamas Excerpt

    Her big brown eyes were locked on the pretty pink pajamas I held out to her, but she hesitated to take them.

    “Don’t you want these?” I gently asked.

    She glanced from the pink flannel to the other children who held their new nightwear. At this shelter and after-school program in New York City, there were about 12 children in all, many here because of abusive or absent fathers, or mothers who were battered or headed for drug rehab—or prison. The girl looked cautiously at me kneeling in front of her, ridiculously overdressed in my corporate pantsuit. She turned to watch the other children head to the back room with their garments.

    Then she looked at me again.

    “What are they?” she whispered.

    “They’re pajamas,” I said.

    “Where do I wear them?”

    “To bed at night.”

    She shook her head, puzzled.

    “What do you usually wear to sleep?” I asked.

    “My pants,” she said softly, tugging on her too-tight, too-short,

    dirty pants.

    I tried to make sense of what she’d just said. My mind was racing. Surely, I’d heard her wrong. I needed a minute to rewind our conversation, to put it right in my mind. And I needed to keep from crying before she thought she’d done something wrong. My brain scrambled to steady itself and respond in a way that didn’t show her how shaken I was, how upside down everything had become.

    “Well, now you don’t have to wear your pants to bed,” I said.

    “Tonight, you can wear these soft, pretty pajamas.”

    Her face registered little emotion as she tentatively accepted the gift. A staff member and I found a private place where she could change. In what seemed like slow motion, we watched as the most precious smile appeared on her face, and a tiny giggle escaped. The staffer took her hand and led her into the other room to sleep. Then my tears came. And I let them. I didn’t know it then, but it was in that moment, the most poignant I’ve ever experienced, that Pajama Program was born. With that little girl, I found my true purpose in life, a purpose that would propel me day and night. It was also then that I realized there is enough in this world—more than enough, in fact—to fix situations like this.

    Over the next several weeks, I visited and read with different groups in the New York City area. I quickly realized the emotional impact these children had on me. I was drawn to them in a protective way, and my need to comfort them felt overwhelming. There was something just so right about it all. Every time I had to leave, I had a difficult time finding the right words to say goodbye to the children. I hated these last moments because I felt I was leaving them alone and afraid. I knew most, if not all, of them would be gone the next time I came, and a new set of abandoned or abused children would be listening to me. The prospect was deeply upsetting. I made sure my goodnights were cheerful and warm. I couldn’t let my sad feelings show after filling their heads with so many happy endings. Still, I felt like a fraud, pretending tomorrow might be full of sunshine and happiness when I knew I couldn’t deliver either.

    As affecting as these experiences were for me, I grew restless. I couldn’t stop thinking that maybe I could do more than simply read. I felt guilty walking out after an hour, leaving them with only books and a memory of story time. How much was I really helping? Was it more unsettling to them that I left them, too? Books had always been an escape for me as a child, but the discontentment that made me reach for a book was nothing compared to what these children were hoping to escape. Was I fooling myself thinking I was doing something that made a difference? I continued my visits, reading to the children in a circle on the floor, and looking for a way to do more. Surely I’d find it.

    As a child, I loved the coziness and comfort of bedtime. In addition to the many books she read us, my mom made up her own funny bedtime stories. To this day, one very special story brings tears to my eyes, filling me with so much love and gratitude for my mother who, even now, is the person I want when I can’t sleep. The story is about a little boy eating a candy bar with peanuts when one peanut comes alive and shouts, “Don’t eat me, don’t eat me!” That always made us giggle and demand of our mother,

    “Tell us again, tell us again!”

    All the laughing and hugging tired us out and sleep quickly followed. I was always conscious of our family’s financial limitations, and it was obvious to me that most of my friends had more than I did. We had bag lunches and were rarely given money for hot lunches; we got new store-brand clothes, but only at the start of the school year and again at Easter, and the items were always on sale. But we had one thing in abundance—we had love.

    The Heart of the Matter:

    • Learn from your childhood lessons.

    Life tends to come full circle. I see now it was the foundation of my mother’s love and my parents’ commitment to us—as well as the sacrifices we made—that helped me to see clearly when everything I thought I wanted was challenged. That foundation drove me to find my true passion in pajamas. My mother’s expressions of love helped me identify exactly what was missing in that little girl’s life. And my father’s insistence on education and hard work showed me how to provide not only for myself but also for others—helping me redefine what it means to be a “family.”

    • Examine the way you’ve “always” done things.

    Partly because of my family’s hard work and sacrifices, I sometimes felt I didn’t have enough. As a result, I started out in my career by focusing too much on what I wanted in terms of wealth and material possessions—money, clothes, apartment, travel. Soon the polish wore off those pursuits, however, and I was left unfulfilled. I knew I needed a change.

    • Don’t let tradition hold you back from your true purpose.

    We were raised to work hard and respect our family, and I spent many years fulfilling the role of dutiful daughter in my traditional Italian family, which included having successful career, well-appointed condo, and nice clothes. I had no idea I would need to let those markers of success go when I first stepped into that homeless shelter to read bedtime stories to children. But I did let them go, and that opened the way to being free to pursue new goals, ones that would give my life meaning.

    I hope you enjoyed this inspiring excerpt from Genevieve Piturro’s book, Purpose, Passion and Pajamas. You can learn more about her work or order a copy of her book through her website. This year, the Pajama Program celebrates its 20th anniversary, having delivered more than 7 MILLION magical gifts of new pajamas and new books to children through their 63 chapters across the U.S.

    She has been interviewed on and in many local and national media including most recently, Hallmark’sHome & Family show, OPRAH, TODAY, GMA, The Early Show, CNN, Fox & Friends, O Magazine, Forbes,The Wall Street Journal, and Parenting Magazine. Here is the Oprah clip for your viewing pleasure:

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    In conclusion, bedtime rituals are the perfect opportunity to establish a wonderful bonding time for parent and child. Relaxing bedtime rituals can help the child destress, feel safe, and feel loved so that they can get the most out of a peaceful night’s sleep and be ready to meet the new challenges in each day. What types of bedtime rituals do you have with your child? Do you think this special bedtime connection helps improve their resilience?

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    How To Be A Good Mom

    With mother’s day approaching, I want to celebrate all the good moms out there. Now, you may be asking yourself, “What makes a good mom?” Well, to me, a good mom is a mom who is trying to do her best. No mom is perfect but when they are trying, they are almost perfect because effort and caring is what we all want, deserve, and need. When I think about what makes my own mother such a good mom, it is because she makes me feel loved through all of her actions and words. She doesn’t do and say every single thing right but no one does. My mom is a good mom because she is there day after day, showing me she cares. Listening to me. Talking to me. Sharing her life with me. Offering advice. Letting me turn it down! Asking my advice. Feeling free to ignore it! Making me laugh. Laughing with me. Loving me. And letting me love her back. For this mother’s day, I want to honor not only my own mom but all good moms. So go ahead moms, pat yourself on the back! I also have a guest author with more advice on how to be a good mom. See if you recognize yourself or your own mother in her descriptions!

    What Is A Good Mom?

    Today, I would like to share some excellent advice on how to be a good mom from author, Meredith Jacobs. She knows a lot about how to a good mom! She is the proud mother of daughter Sofie, who is her co-conspirator in all things Just Between Us, and son Jules, who will commission as a Navy officer in May. Her newest book is JUST BETWEEN US MOTHER & DAUGHTER (Chronicle Books, April 13, 2021). Co-written by mother-daughter duo Meredith and Sofie Jacobs, it is a thoughtful, hands-on keepsake designed to cultivate a deeper understanding, communication, and respect between mothers and daughters.  

    Meredith Jacobs is also the CEO of Jewish Women International (JWI), a 125-year-old organization with a mission to empower women and girls. She works closely with JWI’s philanthropic partners, Sigma Delta Tau national sorority and Zeta Beta Tau national fraternity, developing initiatives like the award-winning Green Light, Go! and Girls Achieve GrΣΔΤness. Jacobs is an award-winning journalist and former editor-in-chief of Washington Jewish Week. She is also the author of The Modern Jewish Mom’s Guide to Shabbat: Connect and Celebrate—Bring Your Family Together with the Friday Night Meal (HarperCollins). As you can see, she has a lot of qualifications to offer advice on how to be a good mom! Without further ado, I am so glad to share with you her guest post.

    How To Be There For Your Kids Through Every Life Phase

    by Meredith Jacobs

    It feels like forever since I’ve written a post about just being a mom. Now that I’m in my early 50s and my kids are 22 and 24, it’s strange to put back on that advice hat. And, I can tell you, it gets so much easier! All that hard work you’re putting in now, when the kiddos are younger, pays off when they turn into amazing young adults, who you not only like, you admire. Oh, and did I mention, you get to do things like make cheese boards and cocktails with them (yes, cocktails). 

    Funny, at the same time it feels like forever ago, it also feels like yesterday. I so clearly remember how much I looked up to the moms who raised incredible young people. Talking to these wise women, who were only one or two steps ahead of me, was how I started on my own parenting writer journey. So, I guess I’m now that slightly older mom. And, I hope whatever I did along the way, might help those of you who are deep in it now.

    You Never Stop Being A Mom

    All that said, I must admit that you never stop being a mom. Never stop worrying. Never stop trying to fix things and smooth paths. Never stop wanting to hear from them, meet their friends, know their life is okay and they are happy. If anything, being the mom to two 20somethings has helped me better understand my mom. I don’t get as annoyed when she complains that I haven’t called enough. In fact, I make a point of calling more regularly now.

    The Best Parenting Tip

    But, even though I just spent three paragraphs writing about the wisdom of other moms, it was my daughter Sofie, who gave me my best parenting tip. When she was 9, she asked if she could write in a journal and if I would read it and write back to her. I mean, amazing, right!?! What an incredible gift! Not only was my daughter letting me READ her journal, she wanted me to respond. (Of course, it wasn’t her actual, super private journal. This was a new one she created specifically to share with me.) But, writing back and forth strengthened our relationship. It let her share things she wanted to talk to me about but felt too awkward to speak. Everything from that first crush on a boy in math class, to mean girls, to puberty — all those things we all go through.

    What I learned from the experience of journaling with Sofie was that I actually listened better when I read. I have a terrible habit of interrupting people when I think I know what they are about to say and I want to swoop in to solve the problem. Trouble is, sometimes our kids don’t want us swooping in with answers. They want to be heard. Fully. So, through our journal, Sofie was able to write everything she wanted to say without my interrupting. And, I got to be more thoughtful when I answered.

    Long story short, that journal turned into a journal other mothers and daughters can share (based on the one we shared). In fact, it turned into a series of journals — for mothers and daughters; grandmothers and granddaughters; sisters, mothers and sons (I also have a son), and now, a new mother-daughter journal, that has stickers and note cards and stencils, and is…adorable.

    What We Can Do With Our Kids

    Scarlet asked me to share ideas of what we can do with our kids. And, I thought about how important that is right now (of course, it’s always important, but now more than ever). I think about parenting during the pandemic. I’ve helped Sofie navigate the loss of her dream job — the one she worked so hard to get. And, I’ve helped my son navigate the loss of his final year and a half of college. As much as I’ve treasured this time with him, I would have rather he had a senior year at school. And that graduation and his Naval commissioning (he’s Navy ROTC) would be celebrated with his fraternity brothers and battalion friends, and not on yet another Zoom. I know all of our children, 22 months to 22 years, are all struggling right now and how we want to be there for them. 

    Before my son, Jules, and I started writing Just Between Us: mother-son journal, I asked him what, if anything, his father and I did right. Without hesitating, he said, “You cared about the things I cared about. You did things with me.” He was right. I always made a point of spending time with my children (I just loved that he noticed.) Whether it was watching cartoons and movies together, or visiting the zoo several times a week to see the baby elephant, who was “his best friend” (he was a little boy then), or driving 20 hours round trip in a weekend to take him to a lacrosse tournament in another state, I made a point of being there and learning about the things they cared about.

    I remember once Jules asked me how I knew so much about dinosaurs (again, he was little when he asked this). I reminded him that I was the one who read him all the dinosaur books when he was too little to read. And, that I was the one who took him to the museums and dinosaur shows and laid on the floor to play with dinosaur figurines and shared his outrage when someone referred to a brontosaurus, when there was no such dinosaur — it was actually a brachiosaurus. 

    I know I joked earlier about making cocktails, but this was a natural transition from all the times I cooked and baked with my kids. From braiding bread dough and decorating cakes and even trying to grow vegetables (never worked because I quickly lost interest in watering).

    We listened to music and did arts and crafts. We read books together — Harry Potter and Twilight. We ran errands together (often stopping for a treat). And, I made a point of getting tickets for events or knowing if something was on tv that related to something they cared about. And, I listened to when they told me about a project or after school activity they were involved with or even something they were trying out and I remembered to ask about it and be there for important (and even not so important moments). 

    Let Them Know That They Are Valued

    So, if I could give you advice, it’s be there. Be there. Listen. Remember. When we show our children that what they care about is important to us, it lets them know that they are valued — that their thoughts and dreams and opinions matter to us and are worth listening to. 

    The funny thing is, when we show our children that we want to listen, they start talking.

    Thanks again to Meredith Jacobs for the advice on how to be a good mom. Be sure to check out her book!

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