Archive for the ‘Time Management Tips’ Category

Encouraging Goal Setting

January 21st, 2013 1:45am
New Years Resolutions

It's time to remind ourselves as well as our children about the importance of goal setting and achieving!

Yes, it is once again that magical time of year when we sit down with ourselves, evaluate our progress over the last year and recommit to (or redefine) our goals for the new year. This is challenging task for us adults and even more so for out children. Oftentimes we put ourselves and our families on autopilot and miss out on the importance of goal setting in our lives. Leading by example and teaching our kids to set their own goals helps give them focus in their work and play. It helps them, as well as us parents, make decisions about the use of their time. And being in sync with our children’s goals can help us guide them to making better choices throughout each day.

Here are a few suggestions that I have opted to try out on my own family this year. Sometimes the greatest challenge to goal setting is knowing where to start. Here are a few prompts to get you going!…

• Set goals that build spiritual strength
Whatever your religious beliefs, seek after goals that bring you closer to your spiritual self. Pray and teach your children to pray. Freely forgive others. Read to your children from scriptures or stories that teach good principles and values. Develop a habit of study (help your kids learn to give over a part of their day to some kind of practice or study). Participate in your religious meetings with your children.

• Set goals that increase knowledge
Select a subject of interest to study (a great way to discover some of your childs hidden intersts!). Learn another language (kids love learning even a few words of a different language…make it a secret way to communicate between you!). Develop or learn about a new skill or interest (a great way to start identifying your child’s abilities). Improve your ability to communicate with others (teach your children manners in…how do we talk to one another?).

• Set Goals that increase personal well-being and health
Develop healthy eating habits (make a game of the pantry…what is good, better, best to eat?). Learn to prepare healthy foods (kids especially love this one! Use a cookie cutter to cut those healthy bites down to a more manageable and fun size!). Develop a program of regular exercise (dancing in the family room with your toddler definitely counts!). Create opportunities to be active with family and friends (bike riding is very popular in our household).

• Set Goals that increase your ability to serve others
Give service to your family (what jobs can we do for each other?). Volunteer to help a neighbor or friend (have your child ask themselves “who needs me today”). Write (or draw for younger kids) a letter/picture to send to someone special. Commit to finding someone to help each day.

• Set goals that increase moral strength
Overcome a bad habit (any thumb suckers out there? How about interrupters? Waiting your turn to speak is a tough one for kids). Learn to be grateful and express your appreciation (teaching kids the value of thank you notes after the holidays is a great way to accomplish this!). Improve your ability to manage time (print your calendars!). Learn to enjoy hard work (chore charts, anyone?). Cultivate patience and tolerance for others (helping them identify ways to get along with a sibling). Identify ways to recognize in yourself when you are doing your best.

We hope these guidelines will help you shape some wonderful goals for yourselves and your  family this year! Remember, “Goals are the fuel in the furnace of achievement!” (Brian Tracy, Eat That Frog). Good luck stoking those little furnaces this year!

We hope you will sound off in our “Inspiration for Parents” forum about the ways you have found success in your own families with goal setting.

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If you are searching for that perfect valentines gift for a techno-mommy on your list, we’ve got a winner for you! We have stumbled across an iPhone app that is truly a mommy-tool calendaring wonder! The TotalBaby app definitely makes our MyTime Calendar recommendation list!TotalBaby iPhone Application The TotalBaby Application is a calendar and event tracking solution for kids and babies whose application is limitless!

Developed in 2009, this application was the brain-child of ANDESigned, LLC and is truly inspired work. It allows you to track multiple children from birth to whenever! To better explain this application, I will use my own family of 4 children as an example. Each child was entered with all their birth information and a current photo. I was then able to enter all their vaccination information through a slick interface that allows you to record by vaccine, date and even be as specific as the time of day. You can also make notes at each vaccination entry about how they reacted, doctor recommendations, etc. Next, I was able to enter all the doctor visits I wanted to for each child. For most of my children, this included just the well-visit check-ups for which I entered their measurement info and any pertinent doctor advice I wanted to keep track of. But I have one child that has had health conditions that necessitated specialists so I was able to enter these “sick” visits as well to track exactly when he went and what was discussed.

Total Baby is the most Complete Baby Logging and Tracking Application available for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

But it doesn’t stop there! There is a wonderful diary entry area for each child where you can use pictures from your iPhone gallery or snap one for immediate use and couple it with any information you want to include. This is great when your child says or does something funny or memorable and you want to remember it but may not remember at the end of the day to write it into your journal. This app lets you jot it down right as it happens! There is also a milestone area…you title each entry so you can track when they took their first step (with photos!), first words, first smile, or even their first day of school! How about those parent/teacher conferences, concerts or special assignments? Yup, you can record those too! This area also comes with a timing feature so you can track the exact moment you want to notate through a handy drop-down menu that deafaults to the current moment!

If you choose, you can email the TotalBaby reports. Just specify dates or "all data" and you get a well organized synopsis of your child's history!

This event timing is one of the coolest features. Total Baby combines 13 separate timing and tracking functions into a single complete solution. You can track events for each child like diaper changes, bottle feedings/nursing (even which side they nursed on and for how long!!), naps, bathtimes, and one of my absolute favorite features (because I have multiple children to track) is the ability to track doses of medication. For instance, if I have more than one child that requires medication, I can track exactly what I give each child (time, quantity and specific medication) so I know exactly what they’ve received and when they are due for another dose. This is invaluable for sleep deprived mothers who may or may not have the ability to trust their memories at two o’clock in the morning.

To wrap up our review, all this information is literally at your fingertips! So when your friends ask you “so when was she born?” or your doctor asks “how many wet diapers did he have today?” or your child asks you “what did I do when I was 2?”. Not only is it easily accessible but you can also back up the files as well as email them (choosing all information or just specific dates)! We have looked at several other baby/child tracking apps and this one truly shines above all the rest. For only $4.99, it is a totally fun app that is so practical every mom should have it!

Our only complaint (and we had to reach to find a complaint with this app!) was that a growth chart would be very helpful to have in addition to the growth recording abilities it now has. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that this feature will be included in future updates!

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Do your kids like surprises?

September 1st, 2009 3:44pm

Tired of hearing the rantings and ravings of your child as they complain about having to feed the dog AGAIN…”I did it last night…how come I always have to do it?”. Instead of having the same chores for your children every week, hold a special “chore drawing” on Sundays! Pull pictures from our clipart gallery representing each chore you wish your children to be responsible for. Cut them out and drop them into a hat. Each child then gets to take turns picking a picture from the hat to determine what chores they will be responsible for that week. If you have a wide range of ages in your family, you may need to have a drawing for the older kids and a drawing for the younger ones (so that the little ones don’t end up with chores they can’t handle). Then, go to work! Have your kids log onto MyTime Calendars and each one can create their own chore chart by matching up the pictures they drew out of the hat with the ones in the clipart bar. They can drag and drop them into the chore chart and be ready to go for the next week! Kids will learn matching skills as they match their cut up pictures with the ones in our clipart gallery as well as learning different chore skills each week.

As a fun variation, have an “awards ceremony” on Sunday before the next weeks drawing to “award” each child with some special recognition for a job well done (even if it is just letting each child stand in front of the family while you recognize some extra special accomplishment they did while doing their chores that week). Kids thrive on extra attention and even more so when that attention is due to good accomplishments. The early they learn that contributing the family chores can be fun and rewarding, the more likely they will be to turn these experiences into good long-term habits.

Do you have a technique that works well for your family to keep track of responsibilities? How do you divvy up the chores?

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You can build your chore chart by dragging and dropping pictures from our clipart gallery into the columns on the left. Your toddler can then mark off when they have completed something. There is even a space on some of the days to mark off a chore that must be done in the morning and night.

You can build your chore chart by dragging and dropping pictures from our clipart gallery into the columns on the left. Your toddler can then mark off when they have completed something. There is even a space on some of the days to mark off a chore that must be done in the morning and night.

How much should I pay my kids for allowance? When should I start an allowance? How do I make a chore chart for my kids? What are some age appropriate chores I can start with?

Ah, the age old issue of money and work! It starts so young! And yet, we should be glad that it does. The sooner we teach our children about money, it’s worth and the value of a job well-done, the better off our children will be as adults. These are life skills that may seem trivial for a 4 or 6 year old to learn but it is at these early, impressionable ages that these lessons are most effective in turning into lifetime habits.

So when should you start an allowance? Well, here at MyTime Calendars, you can start even before your kids know how to read! Toddlers are very eager helpers. They are just starting to discover that they have a will of their own (hence the “terrible two’s” when you begin to hear the “no” word a lot!) and they are learning that choices have consequences and outcomes. Learning to understand that “cause and effect” is a huge milestone. Helping your kids start with a chore chart can really help them begin to understand their responsibilities in the family as well as this concept of “cause and effect”. It also helps them feel a bigger part of the family by taking on responsibility as a member. How you choose to reward these efforts will ultimately help them understand the difference between what is expected as a family member and what is considered “above and beyond” the normal expectations.

What are some age appropriate chores? Well, as you’ve probably heard a million times before (especially if this is not your first rodeo!), every child is different. But having said that, toddlers as young as two enjoy helping. They love to attempt new things and while that adventuresome spirit can prove to be a challenge at times, it can be turned to your advantage. It can be as simple as folding rags from the laundry (one of my two-year olds personal favorites!) or as complex as putting away the toys or books in her room. Even brushing their teeth can be a new and exciting chore for a two-year old to master and a great habit to start. Here’s a simple list of chores that a young toddler might enjoy (all of which are represented in our MyTime Calendars clipart gallery)…

  • brushing teeth
  • picking up toys
  • putting away books
  • cleaning (table, chair, etc. with a damp rag)
  • feeding/caring for the family pet

And now the really tough question…what age do I start giving an allowance and how much should it be? From my experience, I have found that the allowance doesn’t really need to start until kindergarten. It is about this age that kids start learning about numbers and that those numbers have value. This then begins to translate into money and understanding the value of what it is and what it can purchase. That said, a toddler still likes to work towards rewards, a concept that is easy in the abstract and doesn’t necessarily have to be quantified to be effective (earn a trip to the dollar store, for instance, rather than earning a dollar). The system that has worked for my kids (ages 2-8) starts with basic chores that are expected because they are a part of a family (making the bed, putting away clothes, brushing their teeth, cleaning the table after dinner, etc.). Then we have the “extra” chores that earn them rewards (helping Dad with the yard work, extra reading outside of school, cleaning the windows/baseboards, etc.).  These extra chores are worth a dollar each while the daily chores can earn them a dime per chore. My youngest gets a pick from the “treasure box” which is where we keep our “trash and trinkets” (remember, one kids junk is another kids treasure!). At the end of the week, we take stock of what was completed and collect our earnings.  Sometimes we have dollar store visits where they can spend their earnings. Some of my kids prefer to save their money for a “big ticket” item while others prefer to spend theirs right away for the quick return. Our choice of 10 cents stems from a desire to teach them about savings and tithing (or other donation). We teach them to give 10 percent of their earnings to savings and 10 percent to tithing. This is an easy way to break down a dollar.

The bottom line is that you need to know your children and decide what works best with your individual family dynamics. But hopefully these few tips might get you going. Give us your thoughts on how you handle allowances and chores with your kids…what worked for you?  Follow this discussion in our forums!

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There are a lot of things we can do for our kids at home that don’t necessarily require a structured preschool. For instance, having a designated “school” hour of the day where you are the teacher works really well at our house. I’ve been doing this at home with my kids this summer and it’s been fun for all of us. I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say it’s “homeschooling” but essentially that’s what I’m talking about.

First, I try to time it with my littlest ones naptime. Pick about 10-15 minutes to work on different concepts…for instance, for 10-15 minutes, you work on making the shapes of the letters (moving the pen correctly, making the sound of the letter, etc.). You could even take a “sound safari” (get some binoculars, safari hat, etc.) by walking through the house and trying to find something that sounds like “a” or makes the “t” sound. Move on to math by having a counting activity (how many toys do we have out, lets count them! or if we have 5 toys out and I put one away, how many do we have out now?). Keep transitioning through activities for about an hour. You could even invite a friend or two over to “play school” with you. Essentially, these are the things they are learning in preschool and there is no reason you can’t duplicate these experiences at home. Just make it fun! Have a singing time, a puzzle time, etc. and read, READ, READ!!

With the Culture Pass available at the public libraries, you can visit 14 different venues in the city for free! Great field trip opportunities to places like the Arizona Science Center, Phoenix Zoo, Phoenix Children’s Museum, etc. A word of advice for Mesa Public Library main location attendees, they recommend you get to the library an hour before opening Tuesday through Thurdsay to get a good spot in line (you want to be in the first few spots in line if you want a decent pick of the passes). Check out our previous blog posts on the subject at

  • http://www.mytimecalendars.com/archives/21
  • http://www.mytimecalendars.com/archives/293

Good luck and don’t torture yourself for not being able to follow the norm. Your kids will do even better spending quality time with you than they would spending 2 or 3 hours with a stranger and having you stressed out with work worries. It might take more effort on your part but it will be well worth it and rewarding for you both.

Here’s some links that might help you network and get some great ideas…

  • www.momsclub.org
  • www.learningpage.com
  • www.mesalibrary.org/Home.aspx

Do you endorse preschools or have you brought your toddler home because of finances or other concerns? Share your thoughts in our forum discussion.

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Enjoy these travel tips and tricks for heading off into the sunset this holiday weekend!

Enjoy these travel tips and tricks for heading off into the sunset this holiday weekend!

Are you heading out this holiday weekend for some well-earned family fun? Traveling with the family can be a fun activity with everything you need at your fingertips…or a horrendous nightmare as you realize halfway across the state that you left everyones shoes at home (yes, sadly, this has happened to me…thank goodness for Kmart!). I have a couple of ideas that I’ve earned and learned over the last 8 years as my husband and I have traveled with our four little ones on various trips across the US. I hope they can be of some value to you as well!

  • Make a List! I am somewhat compulsive about this because with 6 people to pack for, there is NO way I will ever remember everyone’s stuff without it. I am a believer in packing as light as possible. Lists help me see the crossovers in everyone’s necessities and realize what should or should not be duplicated. I usually start with the bathroom and itemize everything that everybody absolutely “needs” from this area. Keep in mind that some hotels include some of these items so it helps if you can call ahead and find out what they will be offering with your room. Then I move onto each person’s room. I also keep a separate list for electronics (camera, video, ipod, charging equipment, videos, etc.) since it can really put a damper on a trip when you forget the charger for the camera (no memories this trip!).
  • Keep it Simple! I usually let each of my kids pick one animal, one blanket, one activity and one book to take with them. I always bring a “surprise” activity for them to receive after the trip has gotten underway and after they have exhausted their own entertainment. This can be a lifesaver on long car rides!
  • Be Safe! If you are taking a long car ride across the arizona desert, be prepared! Keep at least enough water and snacks in your car to sustain your family for half of the day. If you should break down,  your foresight in this area may be the difference between life or death in the desert heat. Keep a pair of jumper cables, flares and a flashlight in your car at all times.
  • Packing Tips. If you want to really simplify your packing and condense your load, consider using Space Bags to pack your clothing. I discovered these as I was preparing my family for a 7 day cruise where we would be in small rooms with little or no extra space for storage. I needed everything to be compact and easily accessible. These Space Bags were a wonder! I was able to get seven days worth of clothing for four kids and two adults into 3 duffle bags with room to spare! Plus, everyone had their own Space Bag which is transparent so I could easily sort through and find what I needed for everyone throughout the trip without having to unpack everything.

I hope this helps you with your packing stategies so that you can have a wonderful, relaxing vacation without having to worry about those shoes you forgot at home! 🙂 We would love to hear your ideas and suggestions for helping to make family travel smoother. Please join us in our forum and share some of your thoughts!

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Can poor time management scare kids?

May 26th, 2009 3:50pm

To answer this question, you have only to ask yourself this…if your employer walked into your office today and told you that your job depended on completing this project on time and then walked out without any mention of a deadline, what would your first question be as you chased him/her down the hall? …”WHEN IS THIS DUE!?”

Kids feel this way all the time. We tell them constantly “you have 5 minutes to clean your room”, or “we have to be ready to go to grandma’s house tomorrow morning,” or “you only have 2 days to finish that project.” While you might be giving your kids a “deadline”, you haven’t given them any tools to understand it. For instance, what is “5 minutes” or when is “tomorrow”, or how many days is “2 days”! …that last question had me laughing in spite of myself when I got that from my 4 year old! If you want to see first hand how difficult time is for a child to understand, try this little exercise. Gather your family and have each of them close their eyes. Tell them you are going to set a silent timer for 1 minute and ask each of them to clap their hands when they think the minute is over. Watch and see how many claps you get in just a few seconds! A minute will never seem so excruciatingly slow. Now ask each of your family members to draw a picture in one minute. Time them but ask them to clap when they think the minute is over. Give a reward for anyone who got it right. Ask your family what they thought about the minute…was it longer? Shorter? How long is a minute, really?

Giving kids an understanding of time and how it moves can make their world a lot less scary. It can give them a sense of control over their lives and empower them to greater responsibility. When they can predict and prepare for upcoming events and understand exactly what is expected of them to prepare for those events, they are less apprehensive of their schedule and more excited to be ready and on time. Nothing will incite a toddler tantrum like interrupting them when they’re not expecting it and asking them to immediately move onto a different activity. Having a calendar can help them know what the order of events will be in their day. A chore/task chart can help them understand the steps to complete an activity and know what is expected of them to be ready for each event.

MyTime Calendars allows you to share these concepts with your little ones when they need it most…as toddlers. One of the biggest problems with teaching time concepts to toddlers is the language…most 3-5 years olds are not fluent enough in their reading skills to make a written calendar productive. But using graphics allows MyTime Calendars to breach this barrier and make calendaring and chore/task charting easy and fun for early learners of all levels. Watch as your toddler takes an active part in planning their schedule and then actually begins preparing himself for the events! As a parent, there is nothing more exciting than watching your little one become more responsible and as a result, more helpful.

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