It’s Not Too Late: 5 Simple Ways to Give Back as a Family This Holiday Season

BY: - 20 Dec '16 | Parenting

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With Christmas rapidly approaching and the New Year just 2 weeks away, many of us are feeling stressed out and overwhelmed. Even if you enjoy this time of the year, the to-do list seems to grow daily and getting everything done in time feels like hard work.

All that hard work can actually make some of us feel a little down about the holidays. But instead of letting the long to-do list get to you, maybe you should shift your thoughts to others. Research shows that helping those in need is actually one of the best ways to help lift your own mood. Giving is receiving. When we give with an open heart and spirit, what we receive in return is immeasurable.

And what can make giving back even more special is doing it with the people you love most. It give you the opportunity to spend time bonding with your family, and it also teaches your kids that the holidays are not about how many gifts you can get. Kids need to know this season is so much deeper than that.

When we give with an open heart and spirit, what we receive in return is immeasurable.

Well there is still time for you to roll up your sleeves and give back. And it doesn’t have to happen in time for Christmas. You can still do a lot for families leading up to the New Year and well into the winter months. And since finding child-friendly places to volunteer can be tough if you have very young ones, all of these ideas are things you can with children of all ages.

Here are 5 simple ways to give back this holiday season.

1. Create care kits for the elderly

Although many elderly people living in nursing homes are visited by family members, many are not. The holidays can be so tough for those individuals. Contact your local nursing homes and find out if their residents are in need of some tender loving care. If they welcome your visit, you can find out what the residents might need and create care packages to take over. Things like a deck of cards, healthy snacks, holiday socks, lip balm, and even packs of tissue may be greatly appreciated. You can also come prepared to play a few games or just sit and chat with people who could really use some cheering up. If you bring holiday cards with you, that’s an extra special touch and your kids would probably love making them.

2. Donate new toys to a local shelter

This is as simple as it gets. Take your kids shopping for new toys and donate them to a local shelter. Call ahead to see what the shelter needs and when you can drop the items off. And you don’t have to spend much. Take the kids to the dollar store and give them each $10 to spend. Kids in shelters often don’t get much and sometimes having something new, no matter how small, is all they need to make them feel special.

3. Host a neighborhood coat & pajama drive

I did this last year and it was super easy. I reached out to all my neighbors and told them we were hosting a pajama and book drive for two weeks (you can also do coats, nonperishable foods, or other items). I then placed a box in front of my home with a sign on it and people dropped off items when they were able. My kids would check the boxes daily to see what neighbors dropped off. I did a little research and we found a local shelter that really needed the items we collected. We dropped everything off and that was that. This is a super simple way to help those in need by tapping into your neighborhood and asking your family to help.

4. Deliver meals

Although most soup kitchens won’t allow small kids to volunteer, your kids can help you prepare meals at home so you can later drop those off. Make calls to local shelters and churches, or ask your neighbors if they know of anyone near by who is elderly or sick. Once you know where your meals (or treats) are going, get busy in your own kitchen, package everything nicely, and take the kids with you when you make that special delivery.

5. Create activity kits for women and kids living in women’s shelters

There are many shelters for abused women and their children. Those kids and their moms could really benefit from activities that lift their spirits and keep them distracted for just a bit. For kids, you can create craft kits, art kits, science kits, or kits with fun and easy games. For the moms, you can create self-care kits, art kits, journaling kits, or kits with inspirational books and quotes. You have no idea how much this small gesture can lift a person’s spirit and make them smile when life has knocked them down.

BMWK family, what are you doing with your family to give back this holiday season?

About the author

Martine Foreman wrote 494 articles on this blog.

Martine Foreman is a speaker, writer, lifestyle consultant, and ACE-certified Health Coach who specializes in helping moms who want more out of life but feel overwhelmed and confused. Through her content and services, Martine is committed to helping women embrace their personal truth, gain clarity, and take action to create healthier, happier lives. For more on Martine's candid views on life and love, visit her at candidbelle.com. To work with her, visit her at martineforeman.com. Martine resides in Maryland with her husband, two kids and sassy cat Pepper.

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5 Small Changes that Will Make You a Better Parent in 2017

BY: - 28 Dec '16 | Parenting

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When I reflect on all the challenges I have faced in life, I can honestly say that nothing has been more challenging than being a parent. Don’t get me wrong; I love being a parent. I love it so much that I am pregnant with my third child. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It’s not. On my best days, I smile and pat myself on the back because I made it, but on my worst days, I end up in tears. The struggle is real.

But despite the tough days, I never give up hope. I know I am a good parent. But I also know that I can do better. We can all do better. But even if we want to do better, how do we actually make that happen? How do we juggle all of our current responsibilities while focusing on making improvements?

I think it’s possible if we all vow to make small changes that can potentially have a big impact on our parenting and our kids. This isn’t an area where you decide to go big or go home. Do things that are realistic and reasonable because that’s the only way to introduce lasting change into your life.

So if you are looking to improve your parenting skills without adding stress to your life, here are 7 ways you can do so in 2017.

Limit Distractions

We live in world filled with distractions. From social media to demanding jobs, there are distractions at every turn. As parents, we have to learn how to limit those distractions so we can be fully present with our children. By establishing boundaries and limiting the amount of distractions that we allow in our daily lives, we are able to spend more quality time with our kids. It also enables us to set an example that we will want them to follow for years to come.

Focus on quality

Having a busy lifestyle can leave parents feeling guilty about how much time they spend with their children. I know I struggle with this at times because I have an aging mother who requires a lot of my time and I am an entrepreneur. I often feel like I am being pulled away from spending time with my kids when they need me. But I realized that the quality of the time we spend together is far more important than the quantity. So when I am with my kids, I make the most of every minute. I listen to what they want to say, I play what they want to play, and we thoroughly enjoy our time together.

Stop yelling

Even the best parents yell from time to time. It’s not intentional, but it can still be damaging. The problem is that yelling rarely solves anything. Your kids are not more likely to listen to you when you yell. The opposite actually occurs. They tune you out. As parents, we have to try our best to communicate with our kids without raising our voices. Yelling increases anxiety, causes people to shut down, and it also sets a poor example. Less yelling and more calmness is definitely the way to go.

Lead by example

As much as you want your kids to listen to what you say, they actually pay a lot more attention to what you do. We all want our kids to be healthy, shoot for their dreams, and live their best lives, but then we try to get by without doing the same for ourselves. One of the best things we can do for our kids is to lead by example. If we want our kids to be their best, we have to let them see us doing the same.

Avoid comparisons

As parents, we may have the best intentions, but comparing our child to anyone else is rarely a good thing. Whether you compare your child to a sibling, or to yourself, it leaves your kid feeling like she isn’t good enough. It’s damaging. Kids need to feel like they are enough, flaws and all, and that you aren’t constantly hoping and wishing that they were like someone else. Let your kid know that you see him and hear him and respect him for who he is.

BMWK family, what can you do to be a better parent in 2017?

About the author

Martine Foreman wrote 494 articles on this blog.

Martine Foreman is a speaker, writer, lifestyle consultant, and ACE-certified Health Coach who specializes in helping moms who want more out of life but feel overwhelmed and confused. Through her content and services, Martine is committed to helping women embrace their personal truth, gain clarity, and take action to create healthier, happier lives. For more on Martine's candid views on life and love, visit her at candidbelle.com. To work with her, visit her at martineforeman.com. Martine resides in Maryland with her husband, two kids and sassy cat Pepper.

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