Celebrating This Season

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

For many people, alcohol has been synonymous with celebrating, especially around the holidays! Wine is often given as a gift, and bubbly is toasted at midnight on New Year’s Eve. It’s almost an expected “tradition.” But when children are present, concerns abound.

How do party-goers act around the children? Are children able to access the alcoholic drinks while adults may not be around? Are there designated drivers for everyone leaving? Are there children in the car, or about to be picked up from the sitters?

My family has chosen to omit alcohol from the holidays at our home. That way we don’t have to worry about who might drink too much, or ever give our teens the opportunity to “sneak” some. If we’re celebrating with friends or family, we are cognizant to only have one drink. We make certain the celebration is about being with our friends and family, and not about the alcohol.

Here are a few other quick tips you might want to consider:

■Check with the host/hostess before you bring alcohol to their home.
■Ask yourself if giving wine (or whatever beverage) is appropriate for this family. Could someone there be a recovering alcoholic, or have inquisitive pre-teens?
■Never give alcohol, even a sip, to someone else’s child. (Happened to us; family member who wanted to demonstrate that “a sip” was permissible by THEIR standards.)
■Arrange for a Designated Driver for yourselves…or arrange for a taxi. If necessary, make plans to stay overnight there at the host/hostess’s home.
■Lastly, don’t let others drive drunk (especially if they’ve got to pick up the kids from the sitter’s.)

Remember, celebrating doesn’t have to be about drinking; YOU are what people want more of! Spending time with each other is the real gift of the holidays. Make yours a Happy One!

Tips to Prevent Holiday Stress and Depression

Monday, December 20, 2010

When stress is at its peak, it’s hard to stop and regroup. Try to prevent stress and depression in the first place, especially if the holidays have taken an emotional toll on you in the past.

1.Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died or you can’t be with loved ones, realize that it’s normal to feel sadness and grief. It’s OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can’t force yourself to be happy just because it’s time holiday season.

2.Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to life your spirits and broadens your friendships.

3.Be realistic. The holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children can’t come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails or videotapes.

4.Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don’t live up to all your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they’re feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.

5.Stick to a budget. Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don’t try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts. They there alternatives: Donate to a charity in someone’s name, give homemade gifts or start a family gift exchange.

6.Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. That’ll help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. And make sure to line up help for party prep and cleanup.

7.Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate every project or activity. If it’s not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time.

8.Don’t abandon healthy habits. Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt. Have a healthy snack before holidays parties so that you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks. Continue to get plenty of sleep and physical activity.

9.Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Take a walk at night and stargaze. Listen to soothing music. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, showing your breathing and restoring inner calm.

10.Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or mental health professional.

Take Control of the Holidays – Don’t let the holidays become something you dread. Instead, take steps to prevent the stress and depression that can descend during the holidays. With a little planning and some positive thinking, you may find that you enjoy the holidays this year more than you thought you could.

Babysitting Tips

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Babysitters have been a part of our culture since the advent of babies. The stereotype of the teenage girl coming over to sit with the little ones while the parents enjoy a night out has been in our mind’s eye since “Leave it to Beaver” (okay…I’m dating myself). Today’s world is no different: Parents still need a night out once in a while to “get away”. It’s healthy for them, and it’s healthy for the kids. As parents however, you need to be certain about whom you are leaving your children with. As the season for Holiday parties gets into full swing, here are some basic things to consider before ever leaving your children with anyone:

1. Unless you know everything about this person, get references.
2.Ask for recommendations from other parents who have used this person
3.Interview the person before ever leaving your child with him\her…even if they are a licensed childcare provider. You should still interview them to get their philosophy on child rearing, discipline, and whether or not they have a clear and up-to-date understanding about what to expect from young children
4.Have they ever attended a “Safe Sitter” program (or something similar)
5.Do they know CPR?
6.How much experience do they have sitting for the age group in which your children fall?
7.Have you ever noticed ANY impatient or violent tendencies toward anyone or anything?
8.Make sure and leave all emergency numbers, and reinforce that it is fine if the sitter has to use them.
9.Tell your sitter that it is not okay to have guests over while they are sitting. You do not want strangers around your child whom you have never met or interviewed.

***!!!***Let’s Talk TOYS***!!!***

Monday, December 6, 2010

You know it’s one of the best parts of “the season”…buying toys and fun gifts! You are thinking about that child and trying to figure out what would make him or her squeal with delight! That’s one of the holiday’s best gifts to give YOURSELF! So, OK, we have to think about a few issues to make certain it is not only one of the best gifts they’ll get this year, but also one of the safest.

First, if you are buying for a child other than your own, ask yourself if you need to talk to the parent to see if the kid/s already “has one.” This is especially true if it is a video game or movie. Maybe the parent is going to give it to them already. You don’t want to be THAT guy! Another issue might be that the parent/guardian may not approve of the game/movie. Which reminds us, always make certain how the game/video is rated; G, PG, PG13, etc. No child should be viewing a movie or playing with games that are meant for adults.

Next you need to review how SAFE the gift is. (Safety tips are provided by the nonprofit group Safe Kids Worldwide.)

*Choose toys appropriate for a child’s age and development.

*Avoid toys with small, removable parts, which may pose a possible choking hazard.

*Look for high-quality design and construction.

*Keep kids’ hearing safe: Avoid toys that produce loud noises.

*For kids younger than 8, skip toys with heating elements or sharp points and edges. Even if a child is older, they should ALWAYS be supervised with those types of toys.

*Avoid toys with strings and straps longer than 7 inches, as they may pose a strangulation risk.


SO, with these tips in mind, these gifts might be great for your gift-giving!


1-3 -- Books, blocks, “fit-together” toys, push and pull toys, and pounding toys.

3-5 --Active toys like swings, slides and tricycles, or maybe art supplies and books

Balls are great for all ages, especially if you add a net, hoop or racquets!
Books about something they like, is always good too.

Kitchen Gadgets What new chef wouldn’t like a personalized apron or his or her own kitchen tools (or gardening tools).

9 and Older -- may like team games. Quality sports equipment: jump ropes, basket balls, soccer balls, bicycles and skateboards. Remember the safety gear for each!

Gift cards to the movies, a musical, a childrens museum, zoo, bowling or skating is always good. (You might want to make certain the gift card pays for at least 2 people, so the child can have an adult go with them!)