CHILDREN’S BEDTIME ROUTINES… making treasured memories

When it comes to bedtime routines with children, every parent has their own opinion.  Some are on the go and a strict bedtime routine isn’t part of their day, and others see it as a sacred ritual.

For two of the co-creators of Harry Pierre & PeTunia, they were in each of those categories!

Quote Read to Tucked in

I was in the latter category.  From the day I brought them home from the hospital, I looked at their schedule and the bedtime routine as a strict ritual.   If we went out, we had to be home by 7:15 P.M.  If my two daughters were heavily involved in play, I would set the kitchen stove timer for five-minutes, and when the buzzer sounded, it was time to put away the toys, and take a bath.  After bath, and brushing and flossing teeth-time, we would put on their choice of two pajamas.  One daughter had a favorite nightgown she wore to threads, and would then move on to the next nightgown which she wore to threads, as well, but the other liked choices, and isn’t that the norm with children – being totally different from one another? After bathing, we would go downstairs to sip a very small cup of less-than-hot-decaf tea with milk, rock in a rocking chair, and return to bed to read our favorite story – okay, two or three times reading the favorite story.  And I quickly learned that the way I read the stories and poems was much different than how my husband read it to them.  Because one daughter loved the extra words and silly phrases he would interject, while other one would come to me crying that Daddy didn’t read it right!

After the bed-time story, we said our prayers:

“Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep,

May Angels watch me through the night, and wake me in the morning’s light.”

Then they would say their little blessings for their family, and their dogs, of course, and toys sometimes, and once in bed and snuggled in well, we would end it with:

“Goodnight, sleep tight, and our love will carry us to the morning light.”

They got a goodnight hug and kiss, and then I would stand by the door of my youngest daughter because I knew I would be called in for just “one more kiss!” This would be between 8:15 – 8:45 P.M., and then my husband and I would have the remainder of the evening alone.

The other co-creator of Harry Pierre & PeTunia, Gladys Vargas-Ruiz, on the other hand, having three sons and then a daughter, got tickled with my schedule because where I looked at bath-time as a scheduled ritual; she and her husband worked their children in and out of the shower like speeding bullets! She was a very busy lady, on the go all the time, and according to her there were times where some of their bedtime routine was done on the way home.  She, as well, loved reading to her children so I’m sure she read bedtime stories, but the question remains, “Where did she read them at?” 🙂  She also had special bedtime prayers, too.  One of her bedtime must-haves was for all her children to tell each other “goodnight” before crawling into bed.  She laughed when she heard I rocked my daughters until their legs entwined with mine.  I didn’t bother telling her how devastated I was when my oldest untangled her legs and firmly, but compassionately, said around ten-years-old, “Mom, I think I’m too old for this.” Oh, my stomach pangs thinking of her walking away that evening!

Her children, like mine, have fond memories of all they did at bedtime.  Were our routines as different as day and night? Yes, but what worked for me, would not have worked for her, but she devised one that worked splendidly for her and her family.

We both believe the most important thing about a bedtime routine is spending time with your children – regardless of how you do it – and putting them to bed at a decent hour so they get plenty of sleep, and finding a way to wind them down to feel happy and safe so they may sleep in peace and wake in joy.

Every parent and every child is different.  What works for one doesn’t work for another, so if you are having difficulties at bedtime and it’s more like a battlefield instead of a tranquil experience, change it up a bit.  Children really do work better with routines, so maybe you’re not structured enough and he/she needs more structure and longer sleeping hours.  Maybe you have too much structure and not enough choices.   Maybe you’re not giving them enough time to quiet down or trying to quiet them down too abruptly.  Maybe you can add a little warm decaf tea with milk and a few minutes of rocking! Whatever you choose, be consistent. 

Read to your child as long as you can.  It’s such a special time for them.  I’ve met families that as the children aged they went from picture books at bedtime to appropriate aged novels, reading a chapter a night, and did so until the children were in their very early teens.

Having children think they are the center of your world and making memories before they drift off to Sleepland could be one of the greatest gifts you can give your child. 

We all learn from each other, so we invite you to share what works best for you and your family!

–Debbie Caldwell

http://www.harrypierre.com

THE BIG BAD PARENT Will you seize the moment if it means your child will be embarrassed or even get in trouble at school… or will you not?


quote if we think before we act“Should I get my child to take responsibility for something that was his fault? But he’ll get in trouble at school if he admits to it.  He learned from it, so we should just move on.  I don’t have the time to deal with it.”

I recently heard a parent ask this question, and well, it disturbed me, and for more than one reason.  One, as parents, regardless of how much trouble our child will get into when taking responsibility for his/her actions, it has to be done.  Because, children just don’t “move on” if they are not guided to be accountable for their actions.  Don’t fool yourself into thinking that it will not happen again, and possibly on a larger scale.  We have to be sometimes, The Big Bad Parent.  Two, regardless of age, what is the opposite effects of them not taking accountability? Think about it…

If a child writes on the wall at school and you learn your precious offspring was the Picasso, are you going to just point your finger and say, “You know that’s wrong, don’t you do it again! I don’t have time to deal with your mess!” and hope it won’t happen again?

Or, are you going to take the time to take him/her to the school office, make them tell the Principal what they did, and if possible, that you want to buy the matching paint, take him/her to their masterpiece and make them repaint it, on top of doing extra chores to repay you for the paint money, ask the Principal what chores can he/she do around the school for at least a month, plus whatever punishment you think should be placed upon them at home?

Which one would you choose?  I believe most parents are good parents and would choose the latter, but not all would do so.   

Why? Could it possibly be tarnishing the child’s image? Or, it may bring others to look poorly at your parenting skills? Or, you don’t want your child embarrassed in front of the other children?

Isn’t that too bad?

A little embarrassment with children taking responsibility goes a long way.

Years back when my youngest daughter was in grade school, a “friend” suggested if she and another girl wanted to be cool, they had to write with her on the bathroom walls.  So, they did.  Even though she may not have realized what she and the others were writing, she did know it had to be carried out as if it were a James Bond secret mission – thus, if anything has to be done that secretly, then it’s wrong.   And, since they’re no 007’s, they got caught.  Lucky for her, I left that morning to go to an out-of-town conference, and as her teacher politely put it, “I thought, ‘Great, she goes out of town and all hell breaks loose!’”

When I returned, I went to the office to see if her painting the walls were allowed, but by then “all was taken care of” – maybe from their end, since she and the others were suspended for ONE day, but not from our end.

A few very special television recordings she loved and would occasionally watch – deleted.  An upcoming birthday party invitation – a gift was given, but she was not in attendance.  Her room and closet – super cleaned.  Weeds around the bushes – pulled. “I will always respect school property,” – written 50 times, three times that week.  Her hand written, and hand delivered, apology letter to Principal, and I believe her teacher as well, if memory correctly serves me.  And, it was quite a while before she could go over to a friend’s home to play, because she had to rebuild that parental trust (and never again to one of her “art buddies” homes either).

Last, but not least, disappointment.  I made sure she knew we loved her, but her actions were very disappointing to us, as well as to her teacher, and to old Mr. Joe, the custodian that had to clean and paint the walls because of her and her “friends” choices, which led to their actions.

And, that was another perfect opportunity to again discuss that we have the choice to choose our thoughts, and every thought has an action, and every action has a consequence.

Were those the correct ways to discipline? I have no idea.  We’re only parents, we’re not perfect, but they were though, the best we could do with the knowledge we had at that time.  All I knew was that her actions could not be ignored.  She was in 5th Grade, and if she was old enough to hold a pen and secretly take it to the bathroom to write and draw on the walls, then she was old enough to take responsibility for her actions.  If we did nothing, what would she be doing with friends in 10th Grade? 

There are going to be moments in your child’s life where you will have the opportunity to help them take responsibility for their actions.  Jump at those opportunities! Seize the moment to help them understand while they’re young, that their choices and actions affect us all.  It has a trickle-down effect to everyone around them, even strangers.  Regardless of age, there is no one that can do or say something that is wrong without it not only affecting others, but possibly hurting them, as well.  And being one that believes in “What goes around, comes around,” some people may say “Kharma,” their actions, if ignored, may just come knocking at your door one day.  

We all have different ways to guide and discipline our children, but our end result should be the same – teaching character, responsibility, and kindness.  If we work together to help children understand the importance of taking responsibility for their actions, grow confidence and self-esteem as a result of doing so, just think how happy they will be as they grow into healthy, successful, responsible adults!

Life is what we make of it, so let’s make this life a grand one for our children!      

–Debbie Caldwell

http://www.harrypierre.com

Harry Pierre & PeTunia Puddlesworth

…enriching children’s lives, one story at a time…

SUMMER FUN WITH CHILDREN Keeping Children Happy, Healthy, and Challenged During the Summer Months

surfboards sitting in the sand at the beach

Children look forward to summer break – no school, no responsibilities, sleep in late, no worries! But many parents do not relish summer break.  It can be stressful for parents, especially working parents, to keep children entertained and active without becoming couch potatoes and bored during the break.

There are so many questions parents must ask prior to summer break: is my child old enough to be left alone during the day, how will they stay occupied, will I have to find a caretaker, can I afford a summer camp, do I even want a summer camp, will the caretaker keep them busy enough, will I keep them busy enough, is it fair to drop them off at their grandparents everyday – for both child and grandparent.

Not all parents work outside the home, so asking several of them for help and offering fiscal compensation could be an option for working parents.  If you work from home – and that includes stay-at-home parents because they are often the hardest workers of all and the most overlooked – you are one of the lucky ones during summer breaks.

Here are a few ideas for summer activities:

  • Reading and games. Buy some new books and games throughout the year, but do not share them with the children until summer break begins.  A good way to stock up on books is to check with the local libraries for the dates of their book sales.  Many will have quarterly, if not monthly sales.  Some great games at inexpensive prices can also be purchased at early morning garage sales and consignment stores.
  • Local Parks & Recreation Department have summer activities available for children. Many will offer art lessons, introductory swim lessons, music lessons, dance and exercise lessons, and the best thing about the Parks & Recreation Department, they are usually well-staffed and economical.
  • Performing theaters and museums. Many of the performing arts theaters have early bird performances during the summer months where tickets are half price, and the museums will have special showings for children as well as art classes.
  • Plant a little garden in small planters. Let them be responsible for its watering and care.  Help children appreciate not only the beauty of flowers and the importance of herbs, but encourage the benefits of being outdoors.
  • Baking. Pick one day a week to bake something new for the entire school break!  Any extras can be delivered to neighbors, the staff at convalescent homes, your doctor’s and dentist offices.  The little acts of kindness are the ones that children will remember most.

It’s important to help children stay challenged with academics during the summer months.  Grade appropriate workbooks can be found in many stores, parent teacher stores, and online.  Spending 30 minutes going over a few pages a week can go a long way with reducing stress when returning to school.

Summer is a great way to spend extra time with your children.  It’s also fun to make a Special Summer Family Calendar where the entire family can contribute ideas.  It’s a great way of staying organized, keeping the excitement high, and the stress level low during summer break.

surfer standing next to surfboard at beach

Harry Pierre & PeTunia would love to hear any ideas you may have for entertaining the children during the summer months!

–Debbie Caldwell

http://www.harrypierre.com

(clipart from classroomclipart.com)

 

CHILDREN AND COMPUTER TIME… how much is too much?

Quote imagination ThoreauMy daughter works part-time at a tutoring company that cares for younger grade school children after school and assists with all homework; thereafter entertaining them until the parents’ arrival.  She mentioned how worried she was with children nowadays, and to me, that was a little humorous since she is only twenty-years-old!  She stated that after the homework is complete, she tries to encourage them to socialize at their table of six, in her presence, and working together find a way to use their imaginations.  So she asked, “Who can share ways we can now use our imagination?” 

She said they sat, and sat, stared down at the table, and sat longer, and never gave a response.  So she offered several examples from having a treasure hunt outside to building a fantasy city with cardboard.  With looks of boredom from these young children, she said, “Okay, how would you like to use your imagination?”  In a heartbeat, they all retrieved iPads and/or expensive phones from their backpacks and started playing games – alone.  She stated it was as if they were all inside of their own little bubble.  They didn’t look at each other.  They didn’t laugh with each other.  They didn’t want to play together.  The only talk around the table was who had the nicest phone and iPad.  And their response to her asking, “Let’s go use our imaginations!” was, “We are!” Even though not a one was using a drawing/art/academic app or some type of similar play.

Days later she had a new group of children at a different school and asked the same question when their work was completed.  The results were better, but still, only four out of the six had ideas of ways they could use their imaginations.  The other two wanted only to socialize with their iPads.

That was eight out of twelve children that said they could not think of things to do on their own.  And when asked what they do with their free time at home, it was playing games on their iPad or phones, or watching music or make-up videos online, or they’re on their popular photo-sharing websites.

I am all for modern technology.  I love my computer though I am technologically impaired, and my family and two business partners will agree to that, but I believe majority of people will say it has made our lives much easier.  From communicating with others to finding the best recipes on earth to driving in faraway lands you dream of visiting with Google Drive to earning an income, the technology is amazing.  And some people meet the love of their lives online!

But are we going to pay the price one day for allowing our young children to spend so much time on iPads and phones?  And if so, what will that price be?  Will they be able to socialize as they age? Will they even want to? How is this going to affect their growing brains? I am all for the academic, art enrichment, crafts, etiquette, social behavioral games/videos available online, but are our young children spending too much time online? If so, what are the limits? And, what are they looking at?

You have scientists all over the world that will give you answers from one extreme to the other to the above questions.  You have ones that say it is fine being online so much at that young age, as young as two-years-old, and it will not affect their social behavior skills as they grow, nor brain productivity.  Then you have others that state that never in history has children so young spend so much time on the computer and the result could be “Digital Dementia.” It is a term used by neuroscientist Manfred Spitzer to describe an overuse of digital technology resulting in the breakdown of cognitive abilities in very young adults, with the affects being similar to an aging brain decades beyond their years, and in ways that is commonly seen in people who have suffered head injuries or psychiatric illnesses.

So what’s the answer? Being parents, and even though our children think we have all the answers, we know we don’t, and that’s okay.  All we can do is love our children, monitor them the best we can, ask them everyday lots of questions, guide them even when they don’t want us to, and encourage them to use their imaginations.  If you think they are spending too much time on the computer, then limit the time.  I heard a parent say she tracked the time her child was using his iPad for one week, whether for pleasure or school, and she had no idea of the hours he spent doing so.  For awareness, maybe it’s time we all notice what we’re not noticing.

Being creative and using your imagination is a beautiful thing.  It helps in all areas of our lives.  It is the main reason my partners and I started our company and created Harry Pierre & PeTunia Puddlesworth for children and made our first DVD with the duo – to encourage friendships, kindness, and to believe in the power of the imagination.

If you need a few extra tips on things to do with your children to encourage their imaginations, available free on our website, www.harrypierre.com are Harry Pierre & PeTunia’s Top 40 Family-Fun-Time-Tips!

Helen Keller said it perfectly, “The most beautiful world is always entered through the imagination.”

–Debbie Caldwell

http://www.harrypierre.com

THINGS TO DO WHEN YOUR CHILD IS SICK… and how good patience feels!

Quote If I'm Sick

 

Fevers and flus, colds and viruses, are challenging for parents.  Not only is there a chance you have to miss work, but the thought of keeping a sick child down is a task all of its own.  Many small children just want to be held and rocked – hour after hour – sometimes, day after day, until they are feeling better.  The older child, though they don’t want to be rocked, they do want you within their range of vision.

So what is a parent to do with a sick child?

  • Keep a few special books hidden and available for use only for those sick days. The newness of not seeing them often will make it a delight to read again.
  • New coloring books and crayons are always a treat – for parent and child!
  • Make a fort. If they have to lay down, throw a blanket over the dining room table and crawl inside with your pillows and books.  You’re never too old to play in a fort!
  • Grab some old socks and markers and make a few puppets. Just because they’re not feeling well does not mean their imagination stops.
  • Tell them a story of when you were a child and what your parent used to do for you when you were sick. Maybe a special cookie recipe will come to mind.  Baking with your child is always a treat.
  • Make up silly songs!
  • Snuggle!
  • Reward yourself! A hot bath and a glass of wine are always nice at the end of the day from being indoors with a sick child.  A foot soak.  A facial.  Ask for a neck rub.  You deserve it!

Even though they’re not feeling well, the crying and whining can easily get under anyone’s skin.  We’re only human.  We love our children so much, and they’ll never know how much until they become parents themselves, but our parenting patience is truly tested when our children are ill. 

Just know you’re not alone.

You may look like at the end of your child’s sickness that you’ve been in a few rounds of a boxing match, and your opponent won, but just know your child won’t remember their sickness, but those hours of your loving patience, the rocking, the snuggling, the reading, the baking, the laying in the fort – those memories for your child will last a lifetime.

So pat your patient, beautiful, handsome, wonderful self on the back – you’re doing a great job! 

–Debbie Caldwell

www.harrypierre.com

 

 

 

HELP CHILDREN DREAM BIG!


CRS Quotes Dream BigWe all had big dreams as a child.
 What was yours?  Some of us wanted to be astronauts.  Some movie stars.  The President of the United States.  Some wanted to be a waitress and was told by a loving parent that, that career wasn’t a big enough goal.  We all as parents do the best we can with the knowledge we have.  We do our best to guide and love and nurture and support our children and their dreams.  Possibly, somewhere along the way without realizing it we either squash their dreams, try to tell them about a better dream, or ignore the excitement of their enthusiasm all together.

The more we learn about ourselves, the better parents we can become.

So if your child comes to you brewing with excitement that he wants to build a new White House, because the old one is just way too old, why not say, “How awesome is that! Let’s start building that dream!” You never know, you could be looking at our world’s next best architect!

Here are a few tips that may encourage children to dream big:

  • Write it down! Encourage a child to write down and even draw out their dreams.  Even for adults this process allows us to “see” our dreams and keeps our ideas flowing with new ones, and ideas are the essential groundwork for creativity.  “So you want to build a new White House? Great! Let’s write and draw out how you’re going to do this, one step at a time!”  Give a child his/her own “Dream Building Journal” and help decorate it!
  • Help them learn specificity. Learning how to be specific with what you want, how you want to do it, and when you want to do it by, not only helps us reach our goals faster, but it also encourages us to be fast decision makers.  And being a quick decision maker is a quality that is at the top of the list for every successful and highly efficient person.  The most successful were not born that way, they became that way.  “So, you want to build a new White House? What are you going to do today to help you with that dream? When are you going to do that by? What color is your White House? (His/her color may be purple 🙂 ).  What kind of floors does it have?”
  • Talk about it. Help them focus.  Help them understand that taking daily action toward their dream is a must for success.  Fuel their imagination.  Encourage those ideas.  Let them know that their ideas matter, not only to you, but to the world.
  • Hang pictures of their drawing.  Help them gather all those pictures of the White House and their sketches and paste on a poster board.  Hang it where they see it every day.

We all want our dreams to come true.  Some of us may only just now began to realize that we can dream and accomplish whatever we want.  Our parents may not have had the resources, research, and knowledge available to them that showed the importance of encouraging a child’s dream – regardless of how big and magnificent it may be – but we do.  We have an enormous amount of information at our fingertips on how to focus and accomplish our dreams and help our children dream big.

Who knows, along the way of helping your child, you may spark a few new ideas of your own!

–Debbie Caldwell

http://www.harrypierre.com

 

HOW TO HELP A CHILD UNDERSTAND JEALOUSY

Quote Debbie Happy for OthersHow do you help your child understand jealousy and its consequences?  That could be the question of the year!

All children want to be liked and accepted, and they usually want what the other child has, from toys to clothes to backpacks to cool pencils.  But how do we guide our children to support others instead of feeling jealous?

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Are you a jealous adult? We are our children’s first role models, and that may even take a long time to sink-in, but it is true.  And yes, as they grow from grade school to middle school to high school, they will pick up many behavioral habits from friends that you will not like, jealousy could be one of them, but first and foremost, and answer honestly, are you a jealous adult? Jealousy, I believe, is a behavior, not an emotion, and since awareness is the first step to peace and balance in one’s life, push ego aside and ask, “Am I a jealous person?”
  • They weren’t invited to a party. If their best friend was invited to a birthday party that your child was not invited to, but wanted to go to, and she/he is jealous that their friend is going, maybe guide her/him by suggesting, “I know you’re sad about not going to this party, but you like your friend a lot, yes? If you like them, then you want him/her to be happy, yes? Going to this party will make them happy? So how exciting for him/her! That leaves a day open for you to do something new, too, and I’m sure all will be well when you see how happy your friend will be when he/she tells you all about it, and then you can them her/him about your fantastic day!”  Helping children understand that being happy for the ones we care for, even in moments of jealousy or envy, can make them appreciate the friendship even more, and at the end of the day, they will like themselves a little more, too.
  • Compliment others. Do your best to genuinely compliment others in front of your child, with sincerity and kindness, for a job well done, how they handled a situation, how positive they are.  Look for the traits that make a person beautiful from the inside out.  These acts of kindness and respect go a long way!
  • Help your child see how great they are, and share with her/him all of his/her accomplishments, and that supporting and encouraging a friend, appreciating their successes, and even their new backpacks and shoes, can mean the world to them.

Let’s work together to help children keep an open mind, see both sides of a situation, and enjoy feeling the peace and balance that doing so will give them.  We’ll help them understand the importance of character, and more importantly, make them feel like the worthy little beautiful beings they are, and how that joy is going to bring happiness and success to their lives.

–Debbie Caldwell

http://www.harrypierre.com