by Kevin CEO of More4kids

Best Websites for Parents

good parenting - father and son laughing and simply enjoying time togetherParenting can be a tough job, and most of us parents are grateful for all the help and advice we can get. How lucky are we to have the internet as a parenting resource in addition to our friends, family, books, and other helps! But the internet can be a little overwhelming too. Google “parenting” and you get 76,600,000 hits. Which websites have the information you need? Below are links to some of the best parenting websites out there. Here are our top picks. As we find or hear about more great ones we will add it to the list, so stop back. Now here is the list: READ More on Top Parenting Websites

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happy-new-year-2014Happy New Years 2014!

Make 2014 the year that your family makes a difference. Try one or several of these ways to give back in 2014 and give New Year’s resolutions a new spin.

1. Donate Items to your Local Animal Shelter or a Rescue

Many animal shelters and animal rescue organizations need supplies and donations on an ongoing basis. There are many ways that you can make a difference in the life of an animal, from being a foster to donating supplies like newspaper, blankets, toys, animal food and dishes. Or you can have collect money and make a donation. Check with your local ASPCA (http://www.aspca.org/get-involved), the Humans Society (http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/animal_rescue/) or find a local rescue in your area to support (http://www.petfinder.com/animal-shelters-and-rescues/search?)

2. Start a Community Recycling Program

Starting a recycling program in your neighborhood, community or city can be a big undertaking, but the results are well worth it. You can start with your own family and branch out from there, inspiring others to follow suit. Earth 911 has some great tips for getting started at http://earth911.com/general/start-a-community-recycling-program/. The Environmental Protection Agency also provides a detailed outline for starting a recycling program in your area, although it is on a somewhat larger scale, at http://www.epa.gov/region04/rcra/mgtoolkit/starting.html. What is important is getting started and actually making a difference.

3. Make a Blanket for a Child

Project Linus (http://www.projectlinus.org/) is a nationwide organization that collects blankets and gives them to children “in hospitals, shelters, social service agencies or anywhere that a child might be in need of a big hug” (Project Linus website). Any blanket style is accepted, as long as the blankets are homemade, washable, doesn’t have any pins and comes from an environment that is smoke free. Blanket patterns are available on the Project Linus website. There are many different patterns available for your family to choose as a project, including a weighted blanket pattern for children with sensory processing disorder or children with autism.

4. Go Green

When you go green, everyone wins. Families learn the importance of protecting the planet and often save a few dollars in the process. But going green goes way beyond recycling. There are tons of fun, interesting ways that your family can go green in 2014. Check out this list of 40 ways to go greener at home http://theartofsimple.net/tips-to-go-green-at-home/. Better Homes and Gardens also has a good list of tips on their Daily Green page (http://www.thedailygreen.com/going-green/tips/).

5. Help Protect the Planet

The Nicodemus Wilderness Project (http://www.wildernessproject.org/projects.php) connects volunteers to public lands so that they can clean and beautify the area. There are several different projects from which you and your family can choose, including the Apprentice Ecologist Project (http://www.wildernessproject.org/volunteer_apprentice_ecologist.php). If you don’t live near any public lands why not schedule a giving back family vacation?

READ More on 10 Ways to Give Back in 2014

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family resolution - get in shape togetherWow, 2013 is almost over and 2014 is upon us. Now is the time for New Years resolutions. Now is the time to make resolutions that will help build a stronger, happier, and healthier family. For me there was so much I wanted to do with my family that I did not. However, it is not important to dwell about the past but look to 2008 with optimism and excitement. If you failed on resolutions in the past, make smaller ones that can be easily accomplished and build on those successes. Keep a list of your resolutions and small steps you will take to make them happen. Talk about your resolutions with your family, and have your spouse or kids help hold you accountable to those resolutions! In fact, everyone in the family should participate and hold each other accountable. For me there is nothing more powerful then my five year old looking at me in the eyes and reminding me what I had promised to do! Here are some resolutions for mom and dad to think about, and if your kids are old enough have them join in and come up with some New Years resolutions on their own.  READ More on New Years Resolutions for Dads and Moms

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by Stacey Schifferdecker

This young lady is in the Christmas spirit

This young lady is in the Christmas spirit

I remember watching a Sesame Street Christmas special a few years ago when Elmo wishes it could be Christmas every day. Of course, he soon realizes that Christmas every day really wouldn't be a good idea: people need to work, sing other songs, celebrate other holidays, and generally have a break from the whirlwind that Christmas often becomes. But how about the Christmas spirit – the love, kindness, and generosity we often find overflowing at Christmas? Can we help keep that Christmas spirit alive for our children all year long? Absolutely! And it may be easier than you think. The key is to model the Christmas spirit to our children every day in our own behavior.

Practice kindness

I expect to pass through life but once.  If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.

William Penn

Kindness is easy to practice all year long. If you have a big cart of groceries, let the person with just a few items go ahead of you. Hold a door open for the people behind you. Speak politely to everyone and refrain from gossip.READ More on Christmas Every Day

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overscheduled-boyKids who Do too Much: Overscheduling Kids

Are you a card-carrying member of the Good Parent club? In order to qualify, according to modern society, we must expose our kids to activities that enhance his "portfolio". But, what happens when extracurricular activities pile up on and start to smother the child?

This phase is called burnout.

Experiencing Burnout

Yes, wonderful good parent, burnout can and is happening to our children globally. Things that were once adult business, like stress, anxiety and fatigue are now kid business. Elementary children are falling asleep at their desks. Overscheduled kids can't focus and get fidgety, irritable and lethargic.

Adult sponsored activities were designed to offer life-affirming opportunities. For example, football, karate and swimming are great forms of exercise. If your child is not doing well in school, the opportunity to acquire non-academic skills can enhance his self-esteem. Group activities help the shy child learn social skills.

Overscheduled kids frequently feel guilty because they believe they aren't doing enough. These are the same kids who are pressured to make top grades, make 1st chair in band, make black belt in karate and so on. Unrealistic expectations lead to stress, anxiety and depression.

Outside activities can gobble up so much time; in consequence there is NO time for family, play, downtime, sleep or friends.

This phase is called getting out of balance.

Getting Back in Balance

READ More on Overscheduling Kids – Getting Them Back in Balance

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multi tasking MomWe all want a happy family and to spend more time with them. I don't know about your family, but ours is extremely busy with work, other commitments, etc. Unfortunately our children sometimes feel the consequences of this by not spending time with their greatest role models, their parents. We have so much impact on our children and are their first role models. So what are we to do? We need to work, put food on the table. What is important is that when we are with our children to make sure we are completely focused on spending good quality time with them and developing a closer connection  with them. 

READ More on Maximizing Your Family Time

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little-girl-giving-gift

by Stacey Schifferdecker

Have you heard the new Christmas song by Matthew West and Amy Grant called Give this Christmas Away? Every time I hear this song or see the video, it brings tears to my eyes.

The video is on the latest Veggie Tale DVD, St. Nicholas: A Story of Joyful Giving or you can see it on Youtube.

If you are inspired to give Christmas away, here are some ideas to help you get started. It may be too late to try some of these ideas this year, but you can get a head start on next year.

Fill a Shoebox

The Give this Christmas Away video features children receiving Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes through Samaritan's Purse. Operation Christmas Child is a great way you and your children can share God's love and the true story of Christmas with children from around the globe. All you do is wrap a shoebox (wrap the lid separately) and then fill it with toiletries, toys, and school supplies. You can choose whether you are filling a box for a boy or a girl and for what age. Then you just take your box to a local collection center; the website lists collection sites all over the United States and Canada. Samaritan's Purse asks that you include $7 per box to help with shipping costs. If you pay the $7 online, you can get a code to track where your box ends up.READ More on Giving Christmas Away