Parenting Hacks for Gift Giving to the Kids


It was the Christmas list heard (or saw) around the world.

A dad recently posted his 10-year-old daughter’s Christmas list to Twitter.  The list included such things as an iPhone 11, AirPods, a Hydroflask, Gucci slides, a Go Pro, and…$4,000! This left many parents to wonder:  how much is too much when it comes to holiday gift giving?

We loved these ideas from Good Morning America on how to avoid the kid-gift-overwhelm and keep the focus on what is really important during this holiday season:

The Four-Gift Rule
Purchase something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.  If you don’t necessarily want to go that route, you can also decide to focus on quality over quantity with the three-gift rule: purchasing three more substantial or expensive gifts as opposed to numerous smaller ones.

Gifts That Give Back
Look for gifts that give back to the greater good of this world such as dolls where proceeds to purchase meals for people in need or jewelry that helps women and girls escape human trafficking.  This allows kids to see beyond just material gift giving and feel connected to the world.

Focus on Experiences, Not Things
An overnight trip to a nearby city, a membership to the zoo…these are gifts that will keep on giving long after the holiday season has ended.  Need some ideas?  One of our Branch bloggers shares some great ones here.

Read the entire Good Morning America feature here.


What are you doing this holiday season to avoid spending too much or purchasing too many things?

How to Avoid Too Much Screen Time during the Holidays


Whether you are traveling to see family or just stuck inside avoiding the cold, snowy elements, the holiday season seems to give us permission to relax a bit when it comes to screen time—especially as we head into a 2-week break from school.

But how do we keep the “little extra” time from turning into a full-blown binge watching?

Here are some ideas recently shared from an article in the New York Times:

Decide How Much is Too Much
Although every family defines screen time differently, it is important for everyone (including loving grandparents) to get on the same page and implement a consistent plan. This isn’t just about how much overall time, but also the circumstances of when screen time will be extended—such as during a long plan ride but not during family dinner.

Pick Your Battles (and Win Them)
Set very clear rules with your children on when and where digital devices can be used and make sure you stick to them.  “That will go a long way to keeping peace,” said Dr. Susan Newman.  “They know what to expect, they know that this is how it’s going to be.” And when children challenge your rules (and they will), make sure you stand your ground—saying “no” has lots of benefits, including helping your child build resilience.

Find New Activities
Be prepared to give kids a few options to replace their beloved screen time.  Would they like to play a board game, go the library, make some hot chocolate?  “I love anything that’s a little bit funny and dramatic — like charade games or magic kits or stuff like that — because I think when kids feel that natural satisfaction from the fun that comes from those more social games, it makes it easier to replace the media use,” said Dr. Jenny Radesky.

Be Willing to Bend the Rules (Briefly)
If your trip has unexpected delays, it might be easier for you (and all involved) to bend the time rules just a little—your kids will soon figure out when they’ve had too much digital.  “Sometimes kids are going to overdo it and they’re going to regret, it,” said Dr. Radesky.  “Parents should be open to those teaching moments too.”

Read the entire article here.

What are your screen time rules during the holiday break?

Ideas for How to Volunteer as a Family


In the spirit of #GivingTuesday, you may be looking for tangible ways to teach your children the importance of giving back–instilling in them the idea that impacting the lives of others goes way beyond the holiday season.  We loved these ideas from Sunshine Momma–great ideas for kids of all ages! Let us know what you will be doing this holiday season to teach your children how to give back.

Support a Local Food Bank
In addition to volunteering your time at a local food bank, you can also donate money or items to these organizations. Click here for a list of items most needed. Have your child carefully pick out the items in addition to delivering them.

Create a Blessing Bag
Grab an old bag or backpack and fill it with essentials like toiletries, mittens, and small snacks.  Keep the bag in your car in case you happen to cross paths with a homeless person or you can take a couple of them to a homeless shelter.

Send Holiday Cards to Soldiers
Operation We Are Here has a list of resources to help you figure out how to do this. You can send letters to deployed military personnel, veterans, new recruits, and wounded warriors. There is even a program where you can send blank cards to soldiers so they have cards to send home to family and friends.

Assist a Children’s Hospital
Do a quick Google search to find out if there are any toy/gift lists for children are living at the children’s hospital in your area.  If you can’t find a list, contact your local hospital and ask what items may be needed.

Donate Winter Coats
There are numerous local organizations that offer this service, but One Warm Coat has a map with dropoff locations throughout the United States.  Have your kids help pick out some warm coats from youf closets and drop them off.

What Comes to Mind When You Hear ‘Self-Care’?


I realize we may not know each other, but I can guarantee you we churned up a similar image: A woman with a perfectly messy top knot, soaking in endless bubbles with sliced cucumber over her eye lids, and a glass of rose on a bamboo bath tray. And in the background, the ultimate in self-care ambiance, Kenny G.

Oh, and I should mention the unmentioned. That bathroom is totally spotless. Not a sign of children, laundry, dirty towels, or toothpaste lingering in the sink.

What? Too much?

Contrary to what our culture so artfully shares on pages of fashion magazines and #selfcaresunday, this is not self-care. This is good hygiene and questionable taste in music, at best. As relaxing as this image attempts to portray, it’s not realistic unless the kids are asleep, the dishes are done, and someone else has the baby monitor. And in the slight chance all of that has happened, please let us call adult bath time by its real name: a break. Not self-care.

As moms, our lives are scheduled around our children. From drop offs to deadlines, soccer practice to science projects, we are what our children commit to. And we love it, for the most part. But this scheduling comes with a price. Our children will always come first.

Moms are a force to be reckon with. We run on less sleep, more coffee, and serious adrenaline when necessary. We make the brownies, sign up for the volunteer events, and always, always check the calendar to make sure we aren’t forgetting a special event along the way. We know our kids schedules better than they do, especially if they are in elementary school. We are like their second brain. We know when they are hurting and hurt just as much as they do. We also celebrate their joys as if they are our own, because in a way, they are.

But if we peel away at the layers of our days, we will find a lot of buried business. This business is typically in form of actions that we likely need to address, tasks that should be done for the betterment of our health, or conversations with people that we avoid having. Initially these things feel small and are easily distractible, but with time, they bear more weight on the mind and body. Tension builds and creates inflammation, resulting in a cycle of negativity, depression, and anxiety, effecting both the physical and mental self.

Real self-care addresses the business head on. It is not something that can be outsourced, which makes it especially challenging. You can hire a professional to paint your nails or poke the blackheads out of your pores. But you cannot hire someone to take that spin class, have the mammogram you’ve been putting off, or visit with a therapist. Self-care is not selfish. It is necessary, and requires continuous upkeep. In a world where we get what we give, why not give our best to ourselves so we can share that with the people we love the most? And in this process, we encourage others to do the same.

Now, picture what this kind of thoughtful, ever-evolving self-care looks like: I see a fellow mom leaving her therapist’s office. I see a woman walking into her first group fitness class. I see a friend picking up the phone and scheduling her mammogram. I see a brave, empowered woman taking her life by the reigns and claiming what she wants for herself and her future. And I see everyone around her benefiting from it.


Grace Boland
Mama, yogi, health enthusiast,
and lover of all things family
and the perfect glass of red

How to Manage Your Child’s Temper Tantrum


The phrase “temper tantrum” is enough to raise a parent’s blood pressure, but is it possible that they can be a good thing? This post from our friends at Bright Horizons Naperville has us thinking differently about this not-so-great part of childhood, including some great tips for how to handle temper tantrums and how to make them happen less often.

Read the article here. 

Cathy Subber Talks Body Image on the Creating Space Podcast


Dr. Cathy Subber sits down with Christine Kathryn of the Creating Space podcast to discuss an important aspect of our relationship with ourselves–body image.

“Cathy graciously and confidently shares what she refers to as her lifelong issue with weight and body image,” says Christine. “A journey that began as a young athlete at her Dr.’s office for a sports physical hearing that she ‘just weighs too much’, moving into adulthood with the all-too-common quest to look “perfect” in her wedding dress and continuing to this day even though she knows she’s in a much happier place of acceptance of the body she was born with.”

Listen to the conversation below:


Join Now
Connect with other local moms by joining our mailing list and receive mom-specific content on a weekly basis.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.