Fathers Day Experiences, Not Things

June 13, 2017, Epoch Times

It’s time to celebrate Dad.

This Father’s Day, rather than the typical tie, the mug, the cuff links, the gadgets, here are some experience-oriented ideas to celebrate and show appreciation for your #1 dad.

Life is about experiences, not things. Action-oriented gifts make for great memories and embody the spirit of the special day.

Dad’s Favorite Activity

Whats Dad into? Fishing? Golfing? Biking? Surfing?

Whatever Dad loves, organize a family outing to do just that. Be sure to handle all of those details that would typically fall on him.

If he usually packs the car, have the kids do it. If he is usually the driver or navigator, take that off his plate. If he’s the one that makes sure the doors are locked before you leave, that the tires are full in the bikes, that the reservations have been confirmed, or whatever Dad usually handles, give him a free pass to sit back and enjoy a day doing what he loves with his family with all the details handled.

A twist on this idea could be to arrange for Dad to do that activity that he has set aside since becoming a dad, but now misses.

Invite Dad to a Backyard Campout

As a fun activity for this time of year, conspire with the kids to create a backyard campsite, complete with pitched tent, dinner on the barbecue, and a campfire.

Enjoy family time together and insist that Dad not lift a finger. You don’t want your gift to become a chore for Dad on Father’s Day, but a carefree joy he’ll cherish.

Make a ‘Honey, It’s Done List’

If Dad’s got some nagging repairs or chores he’s been meaning to get around to, work with the kids to get them done. Perhaps there’s a leaky faucet or a garage that needs cleaning or a guitar that he’d like tuned, or yard work he wants done or a scratch on his car he love to have addressed. Hire them out or complete the tasks for him.

For that “ta-da” moment, wrap the list of done items as a gift and watch the sense of relief fall across his face on Father’s Day.

On Father’s Day, celebrating Dad for who he is, what he loves to do, and all of the things he does that makes him the best dad in the world, just takes a little thought and a lot of love.

Happy Father’s Day to all the #1 dads!

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7 Ways to Turn Down the Tech in Your Family

June 13, 2017, Epoch Times

The start of summer is an opportune time to take a look at your family’s use of technology and, perhaps, turn it down just a bit.

For all of the convenience, opportunity, and access to information today’s technology provides, the potential effects of stealing our time, hampering our relationships, and impacting our physical and mental well-being are becoming ever more obvious as this technology works its way into every facet of our lives. Especially troubling are the potential effects on our children as they are developing.

Responsibly using technology for its benefits while avoiding its pitfalls requires some attention. A fun approach is to intentionally incorporate decidedly low-tech ways of life into our every day. Here are some simple ideas.

Resist the Morning Check

Morning sets the tone for the day and parents set the tone for the family. Try to replace checking your phone first thing in the morning with different, analog activity like meditation, exercise, reading, drinking coffee, tidying up, showering, and so on. Aim to ease into the morning and appreciate the real, physical world around you before diving into the world on your screen.

Spin Some Tunes

No really, spin them, on a record player. Your kids are sure to get a kick out of this ancient machine while you enjoy music with a warmth and special quality unique to vinyl.

Get Out Into Nature

The beauty of our natural world has so much to teach us if we’d only shift our gaze away from the glow of a screen and out to what’s all around us. A daily walk makes getting out into nature an easy habit to establish. Schedule as many summer outings like picnics in parks, trips to the beach, hikes through the forest, and more.

Burn Candles

While you may not see electric lighting as particularly high tech, you may be surprised at what a relief it is to dim artificial lights and utilize natural candlelight. Transitioning to candlelight at night may become a calming and delightful ritual for you and your family to enjoy.

Write With a Pen

Writing with a pen (or pencil) is a different experience than typing on a keyboard. Encourage your family to hand write journal entries, letters, to-do lists, and so on. Let the creativity flow and the distractions diminish.

Send Letters Through the Mail

Speaking of writing, the next time you or a family member wishes to catch up with a loved one, encourage sending a handwritten note through the mail. Your loved one will be delighted and the impact of your words will be more meaningful than if quickly sent via email.

Replace Video Games With Board Games

This may be a challenge for many families. The difference between getting lost in a video game versus playing a board game with family or friends could not be starker. The latter encourages all involved to laugh together, centers focus in the real world, and enhances relational bonds.

There are many ways to reduce the reliance on technology for your family. Summer is a wonderful time to put those in place and ensure that your loved ones aren’t missing out on the real things right in front of them.

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Summer Parenting: Five Tips for Establishing Rhythms and Routines

June 12, 2017, Epoch Times

Ah, summer! Rest, relaxation, freedom. It’s the best!

As parents, though, have you noticed that after those first few days of “de-schooling,” catching up on sleep, and savoring the freedom at hand, things tend to break down a little at home?

If that savoring period goes a bit too long, life can get wacky. Wakeup times get later and later, pushing bedtimes to unspeakable hours. Cleaning up seems to slow or completely halt, family members eat at strange times, and the well-oiled machine that was once your family life now seems unruly and chaotic.

Sound familiar?

While keeping life light and breezy all summer long is a perfectly wonderful strategy, adding in just enough structure for your family during the season can make the entire experience more rewarding and far less stressful.

Here are a few tips for establishing enjoyable rhythms and routines this summer for your family.

Allow for a Transition

Those first few days after school is completed are glorious. Allow the space for your children to wake up not when the alarm blares, but when their bodies naturally rise. Allow for quiet, creativity, free play, and freedom in general those first few days.

Put Some Stakes in the Ground

Whether your calendar is filled with camp, sports, activities and more, or you’re winging it completely, scheduling some big events to look forward to over the summer can help to define the season you’re in and give everyone some things to look forward to.

These can be vacations or weekend getaways, deadlines for goals or projects you’re aiming to complete, birthday or holiday celebrations with friends and family, day trips or events you plan to attend, and so on.

Establish a Weekly Rhythm

Intentionally define some days by recurring events. For example, perhaps you try a new park every Monday or hit the library every Wednesday. Of course, if you like Tacos, you eat those on Tuesday. You get the idea. Post your weekly schedule for your children to see.

If you decide to skip something and just swim all day, that’s completely fine. It is summer, after all. However having a fun roadmap to guide you will come in very handy when you’re feeling otherwise aimless.

Maintain Morning and Evening Routines

Creating automatic routines that occur at the two bookends of the day can be very comforting to children and help to keep the home humming. Include daily tasks like cleaning up, personal hygiene, chores, reading, exercising, and anything else that’s important for your family to do daily.

If they’re old enough, encouraging your children to manage a checklist of their morning and evening routine can be empowering to them.

Return to Daily Touchstones

Having a predictable rhythm to each day can be very comforting to children (and adults). Perhaps you listen to soft music after dinner, or you read a book before bedtime, or you take a morning walk, or you pick up the house before dessert. Consistently presenting these familiar anchors or touchstones in the day help everyone to know what’s coming next and where we are in the day. These tend to become lasting memories of home and family for years to come.

Freedom is one of the best qualities of summer. Enjoy that freedom by injecting just enough structure and rhythm in your family’s day that you make the most of this season together. Happy summer!

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Family Activities to Keep in Your Back Pocket this Summer

June 12, 2017, Epoch Times

Ah, summer. It starts out so innocently, with all of its warmth and sunshine and long days with zero plans and no schedule… After a few days of a rhythm askew, however, things can start to break down.

No, worries. You’ve been down this road before and you know the key to sanity in the summer is having some easy, go-to, fun family activities in your back pocket for those time when boredom strikes, when you’ve just got to get out of the house, when plans are suddenly cancelled, when you need to shake things up, when the weather takes an unexpected turn, or when you just can’t think of what to do.

Activities like…

  • Enjoy a picnic in the park
  • Go to the movies
  • Go ice skating
  • Go roller skating
  • Go bowling
  • Paint your own pottery
  • Go on a nature walk
  • Go to the library
  • Rearrange a room
  • Blow bubbles
  • Play miniature golf
  • Make a sandcastle at the beach
  • Create with sidewalk chalk
  • Make your own ice cream
  • Set up a lemonade stand
  • Camp out in the backyard
  • Go stargazing
  • Go for a bike ride
  • Shop in town
  • Play tennis
  • Toss a frisbee
  • Collect seashells
  • Make a scrapbook
  • Play a board game
  • Jump rope
  • Tend to your garden
  • Paint
  • Make sock puppets
  • Make a movie starring your stuffed animals
  • Build with Legos
  • Make homemade play dough
  • Make homemade pizza
  • Fly a kite
  • Go swimming
  • Run through the sprinkler
  • Visit a farmer’s market
  • Craft with cardboard boxes
  • Play at the playground
  • Play hide and seek
  • Have a living room dance party
  • Wash the car
  • Go to the museum
  • Go to the zoo
  • Go to the aquarium
  • Listen to an audiobook together
  • Read together
  • Play miniature golf
  • Go to garage sales or flea markets
  • Enjoy your family home movies
  • Have a water balloon toss
  • Organize neighborhood relay races
  • Do an outdoor science experiment
  • Make your own popsicles
  • Go bird watching
  • Visit the planetarium
  • Visit a farm
  • Play bean bag toss
  • See some fireworks
  • Go to a sporting event
  • Go to an outdoor concert
  • Tour a factory
  • Shoot some hoops
  • Visit the arcade
  • Play tic tac toe
  • Go for a drive
  • Send letters to loved ones
  • Organize a neighborhood bike wash
  • Visit an historical landmark
  • Donate unused toys
  • Build a fort
  • Let the kids cook dinner
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