Posts Tagged ‘Parenting’

On a recent trip across the country we made a couple of stops that were essentially going to be bathroom breaks. First a quick visit to Old Faithful and then on to Cody Wyoming. The next day we worked our way over to Rapid City South Dakota where we had planned to make a quick stop at Mt. Rushmore.

We picked up a Jr. Ranger handbook at the rangers station and the kids set off in search of the the clues to complete the tasks outlined in the book. They spent hours in the museum and walking along the pathways under the faces. They loved every second of their search. It cooled down pretty quickly as it began to get dark. Fortunately we were ready for that. We bundled up and continued exploring the park. Not long after sunset there was a flag ceremony in the main amphitheater to retire the colors. For several hours it had seemed like it was just us and a dozen or so other people at the park but all of a sudden the seating area was packed with what must have been over 1000 people. I’m not sure where they had all come from but apparently the park is more spread out than I had thought. We sat there and watched as members of the military that were visiting that day walked onto the stage and a troop of Boy Scouts from Minnesota filed in to provide the manpower for the actual lowering and folding of the flag for the evening. A slide show played above the stage and the lights on the faces came began to glow. As the flag was lowered the entire audience joined together in singing the national anthem. There were people there from all over the country and possibly even the world. We had never met. We had never sung together. But on this evening it was one of the most beautiful choruses I had ever heard. I could feel tears start to well up and I almost wasn’t able to sing the whole song because it was so moving.

Later that fall, when my kids, who were 11 and 13 at the time, would tell people about their summer they would talk about their favorite day at Mt. Rushmore. There were no roller coasters, there were no video games, and this was their favorite stop on the trip.

Sometimes we have to remember that one of the best gifts we can give to our kids is the time for us to be together in a place where their imaginations can run wild.

Join the team at TravelingMom.com on Monday October 24 for a twitter party all about meaningful travel. I’ll be there! You can Win an iPad2 and talk meaningful travel on #TMOM Twitter party RSVP HERE http://bit.ly/nwVFbm #TAUCK

I’m looking forward to talking with the folks at Tauck travel and other moms about the Cowboy Country Northbound adventure which covers Yellowstone to Mt. Rushmore. CLICK HERE  for more details.

For more information on Mt. Rushmore visit the National Park Service Page


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Many parents are concerned about their kids playing violent video games. Video games have really only been around in the home market since the early 90’s and so research on this subject is really very new.

What does the research say about the effect violent video games have on our children and what do we do with that information anyway?

These are just a couple of the questions asked in my new book Violent Games – Violent Children?

Now available on Amazon

Violent Games – Violent Children?

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– By Mary Heston

(NOTE: Join #TMOM on Monday August 22 on Twitter for a fun Twitter party all about our cars.)

The summer road trips are coming to an end and so it seemed like a good time to put together the What we Learned List.

Top 5 tips for parents on how to avoid the “AreWeThereYet!” Syndrome.

1. Start Early

Make “Super Fun Summer Road Trips” part of your child’s earliest memories. Once they get it into their heads that this is just something that you do then the next road trip will be easier and easier.

2. Make the back seat a kid friendly zone

On one particularly long road trip I gave the boys a roll of toilet paper and they threw TP all over the back seat. It was a bit of a mess when we got to our destination but inexpensive harmless fun. Another wonderful time waster is a roll of masking tape. Making masking tape balls got us to the next rest stop without any crying or whining.

If you are going to get tense about kids getting crumbs on your nice leather seats then rent a car or get another car that is ok for kids to ride in. Kids are messy. Just count on it.

Randy Pausch wrote in The Last Lecture about a situation where his horrified sister starting yelling at her kids after they spilled something in the back of his car. His response was to spill something else in the back seat right in front of the kids and to let them know that it was only a car. They were what was most important.

3. No Apple Juice or Chocolate Milk

We know kids will make messes so the best thing to do is to avoid anything that will be sticky or icky to clean up if they do make a mess.

Additionally, Chocolate milk can get warm and icky really quickly on a long road trip and in Murphy’s law of road trips your kids will drink the old warm chocolate milk just before you reach the stretch of the trip with the most winding roads. The resulting car sickness will not be pretty. Just avoid this unnecessary and avoidable situation from the start by being proactive. No Chocolate milk. Avoid Strawberry milk too – its just not worth it.

4. Don’t just plug them in

Kids will follow your cue. So make sure you are having fun too and make the trip an interactive experience. Of course you have to keep your eyes on the road but you can teach them new songs or new games like the license plate game or which one is my car game (play this by picking a number between 30 and 60 and then count cars coming in the opposite direction and when you reach that number that is “your” car.

Make going on a road trip a special time with Mom and Dad when there are no phones and no distractions – just fun.
Don’t just turn on the Portable DVD player and have then tune out for the next 135 miles.

5. Let them know what to expect

In advance of your trip let them know about various landmarks you’ll pass along the way so that they can be looking for specific milestones. “We will cross a river and then go through a long valley and pass by 3 mountains” give them specific things to look for.

Giving them a map to color and mark down things they see along the way can be another way to help them understand how far you are going and what to expect the rest of the day.

Be prepared with stories of pioneers that traveled along these parts before there were even cars.

Those are the top tips for the kids. Just a quick reminder for the driver.

1. Make plenty of stops and get out and stretch. Don’t drive if you are tired.
2. If listening to the Wiggles or Barney or some other musician who is your child’s favorite, for hours on end, is going to make you crazy then don’t even allow it to start in the first place. Sure it might make them happy for awhile but it will make you want to leap out of the car and that’s no good.
3. Make sure everyone is buckled in securely
4. Have a cell phone charger and AAA to call in case of emergency.
5. No Distracted Driving: Make sure you have a co-pilot who can read text messages and respond to them for you if it is really that important. Better yet just put your phone in the glove compartment while you’re driving and just check messages at the rest stops.

You have important cargo. Not only do you want to get to your destination with your sanity in tact you also just want to get there.

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