Cheers to the Modern Day Dad (Thank You!)

Let’s be honest, there is nothing sexier than a good dad! You know the kind I’m talking about.

One who is excited to leave work to come home and see you and the kids. Who eagerly took birthing classes with you.

One who has changed just as many diapers as you, and who proudly wears their baby through the grocery store.

The kind of dad who doesn’t think that it’s your job to do everything. One who sees marriage as a true partnership and approaches everything as team.

The dad who offers to take the kids on the weekend to give you some down time, and who folds laundry with you while you drink wine and watch TV after the kids are in bed.

The same dad who doesn’t care if the house is a mess because he knows it’s just impossible to get things done on some days, and who always thinks of your needs and the kids’ needs before his own.

Some of you may be reading this and wondering to yourself, “Where can I find these magical unicorn dads?!”

But we live in a day and age where so many men are really embracing their roles as dads and what that can mean in families.

photo.jpg

Sadly, 25 years ago it was hard to find dads like I described, but today it’s becoming more and more common to see men step up in ways like never before.

For some, being an involved and hands-on dad may be super challenging, not because it doesn’t come naturally, but because that isn’t what they were modeled growing up.

All the responsibility fell on mom for everything else: the cooking, cleaning, driving the kids everywhere, laundry, packing lunches, etc.

Thankfully, this was not the case with my Dad. He worked just as hard as my mom and often made sacrifices in his career to be there for us kids, so my mom could accelerate her career.

photo-3.jpg

He didn’t miss a parent teacher conference, he came home early to watch almost every one of my sports games (which often meant staying up super late to finish the work he cut short during the day), he played basketball with me on countless nights after dinner, and loaded all four of us kids into the family minivan to take us grocery shopping on Saturday mornings so my mom could have a break.

He kissed my mom every night and loudly expressed to us how much he loved her. My parents always modeled for me a relationship built on teamwork, trust and love. This is so important and shaped me into the person I am today!

photo-2

So this Father’s Day we salute all the Modern Day Dads out there!! Those dads who are hands-on, help with the chores, support their wives whether they are stay at home moms or working moms, find balance in their marriage, and strive to be just as involved as mom.

Thank you for working hard to provide for your family whether it be working a day job, a night job, two jobs, or staying home with the kids so mom can work.

Thank you for pouring the best of yourselves into loving your families well.

We love, honor, appreciate, and celebrate YOU!

Cheers_to_the_Modern_Day_Dad_(Thank_You!)-2

10 Simple Household Chores for Kids Under 5

With our schedules so full and our lives so busy, it’s important that we as parents make sure to teach our kids from an early age that they will be expected to chip in and help with family chores.

Giving children responsibilities helps their confidence grow and helps them understand their place in the family. What do I mean by this?

Well, as kids learn and grow they are striving to understand how they fit into the world – especially within their family unit.

Encouraging good habits like cleaning up after playtime, keeping their rooms neat and tidy, and helping with family chores will help them to understand the importance of teamwork.

Being part of a family takes teamwork to make sure things run as smoothly as possible!

Motivated by Good Will, Not Money

Personally, I suggest not using a reward system such as allowance when it comes to household responsibilities.

We should expect our kids to help out and get involved, without the added incentive of getting paid, and they should understand that expectation of them as well.

Communicate to them that chipping in and doing their share is just part of being a family.

Position it as a necessary part of a well-balanced life, and they’ll grow up understanding that, in order to get along well in life and with others, they will need to step up and do their part in the world (without needing extra incentives!)

Instead of setting your kids up to look for external rewards in everything, strive to ensure they feel appreciated and honored for the work they do.

Make Chores Fun & Find the Teachable Moments

For young kids, around 3-5 years old, make sure to keep things light and enjoyable. During cleanup and chore time my toddler often doesn’t even realize she is working because she is having so much fun in the process!

It’s all about how you frame it (and your kids will follow your example.) Remember, they are still little and learning, so frame it as a fun activity to do together and be sure to emphasize the importance of the job and how they’re helping by stepping up.

Let Them Have Ownership

Establishing the expectation that your child must take ownership of their personal belongings and their chores will help to foster independence and teach responsibility at an early age.

Set this precedent at an early age, and continue to reinforce it as they get older, making sure to not micromanage their efforts and jump in to help with every little thing.

You don’t want them continuously coming to you for help with things they are perfectly capable of doing on their own.

Examples of Simple Chores for Little Ones

To give you a good starting place for implementing these ideas with your younger children, here is a simple list of household chores appropriate for kids between the ages of 3-5, to help get them involved in the workings of the home.

1. Clean up toys

It’s a great idea to begin teaching these concepts by starting with your child’s own belongings. Turn some music on, give them directions and go to town getting their toys cleaned up in a fun, enjoyable way.

2. Set or clear the table

I don’t know about you, but my kids are always asking to help when I am cooking. When it’s meal time, let your child know that you have a special, important job that needs done in order for the meal to happen, and you’re going to give it to them!

3. Help with cooking

As I just mentioned, kids LOVE helping with cooking, which for some parents can be stressful. Don’t let it be! Create opportunities for them to be helpful during the cooking process in safe ways, such as helping you stir, retrieving ingredients from the refrigerator, or throwing things away when done.

4. Feed the family pet

This is a great opportunity for teaching young kids how to follow simple instructions, like how many scoops of food to put in the bowl, or how high to fill up the water. It will also help teach consistency because it’s important that the job gets done or your beloved family pet will go hungry!

5. Clean up spills or messes

The idea here is, “you break it, you bought it!” As early as possible, start teaching kids that if they cause a problem they need to be part of resolving that problem. Teach them to take personal responsibility by holding them responsible for their mistakes. Don’t shame them, but encourage them to make things right and offer to help as they do.

6. Get ready for the day

Teach your kids how to choose their clothes for the next day, then get dressed themselves and brush their own teeth. Once they’ve mastered this routine it will make morning so much easier for you AND they’ll feel so accomplished being able to do things for themselves.

7. Water the plants

This one is similar to feeding the pets. Make sure you child knows what will happen if the plants don’t get watered, so they learn that certain things have to be done or you’ll deal with negative outcomes later.

8. Sort laundry and match socks

This is perfect for developing cognitive skills as they learn concepts like matching. Ask them to make piles of their clothes, their sibling’s clothes if they have any, and of mommy or daddy’s clothes. Then ask them to find pairs of socks that go together.

9. Washing dishes

Whether you get them up on a chair and washing dishes in the soapy water with you, or helping you load the dishwasher after meals, get them involved in this essential cleanup step after meals. Again, this will teach them to take personal responsibility for themselves instead of waiting on other people to do things for them.

10. Collect the mail or newspaper

Most kids I know LOVE to see what the mail brought for the day, so give the job of retrieving it every day to them.

Do you have any tried and true favorite chores that you kids are responsible for doing?

10_Simple_Household_Chores_for_Kids_Under_5-2

10 Tips for Packing & Traveling with Kids

We have all been there: you booked a trip to visit friends or family, put it on the calendar go about life as normal.

As the weeks pass and the trip gets closer you keep telling yourself, “I’ve got plenty of time to get ready!” Then suddenly it’s a week before the trip and full panic mode sets in.

What do I pack (the whole house?!) What will I need when I get there? How will my little one do in the car or airplane? How will I keep my kids entertained?

There can be so many unknowns, especially if you are traveling with kids for the first time. But it doesn’t have to be that way!

Check out the following 10 tips to help set you up for success when packing and traveling with kids.

1. You don’t need to pack everything!

It might seem like you need #allthethings, but I promise you don’t! Use common sense and creativity. Your bags can only hold so much (and your arms can only hold so many bags!)

Create a list of “must have/can’t live without” items and “would be nice” items. This will help you clearly see what you really need.

2. Arrange for a crib at your destination

Most hotels have cribs available for families to use, so call ahead and see what might be available.

If traveling to San Diego, you can rent the toys & gear you need from a local family using The Sharing Exchange™!

We make it super easy to browse inventory, read reviews on owners and their items, and book ahead of time.

Having the things you need when you arrive relieves so much anxiety and will make your packing list so much shorter!

Pro tip: Bring your own clean crib sheets if using a hotel crib.

3. Consider the weather and circumstances when packing

Thinking of the weather where you’ll be traveling will help you pack only what is necessary you and the kids. Be sure to pack comfortable favorites for the kids that are versatile – and don’t forget layers!

If you are heading to the beach, most days will be spent in bathing suits, so only pack a few outfits (this will reduce the list!).

For the traveling in the airplane or car, dress the kids in easy outfits for bathroom trips, especially something easy for non-potty trained kiddos.

Also, remember to bring a few new small toys for the car or airplane ride and wrap them up with layers of colorful wrapping paper. This will keep the kiddos entertained for an extended period of time.

4. Pack outfits in ziplock bags

When you’re packing for your kids, choose full outfits, including tops, bottoms, socks, underwear and accessories, and place each outfit into a gallon-size ziplock bag with their names on the front.

This travel hack will make dressing your kids each day a breeze! No more digging around in your bags trying to find all the pieces for complete outfits each day.

5. Pack enough food & snacks for each travel day

You never know when there will be an unexpected delay or hiccup in your plans.

I don’t know about your kids, but when my children are not fed they become hangry! Hangry kids on a plane = no bueno!

Make sure you have snacks, sandwiches, drinks, pouches, bottles for baby, etc. Many flights do not offer any in-flight food service, so don’t rely on this!

6. Pack a small carry-on for important essentials

This will allow you to consolidate everything that matters into one easy-to-access spot: passports, wallets, keys, paperwork of any kind, prescription medicine, medical cards, hotel details, etc. Be sure to never let this bag out of your sight!

Other possible items to include if there’s room: the stuffed animals or blankies your kids can’t sleep without, sunglasses, cell chargers, an extra set of glasses or contacts, pacifiers (yes, multiple!), and an extra change of clothes for you and kids.

Why an extra set of clothes for you? In case of a baby blow out on your lap, throw ups, drink spillage, etc. You never know what traveling with kids will throw your way, and you want to be prepared!

7. Use a baby carrier

Wearing your baby with a baby carrier is a fantastic way to travel hands-free with your little one. Try to be realistic with that you can feasibly carry while wearing your baby, so if your partner heads to the bathroom, you can still carry everything.

8. Prepare for airport security in advance

Explaining the airport security screening process to your kids ahead of time will help them understand what to expect. Be sure to touch on things like having to remove their shoes, walking through the security scanners and possibly talking to TSA officers.

Also, make sure that you’re ready to go when you enter security, so you don’t hold up the line. Car seats and strollers will have to be hand swiped with the wand, so give yourself time to go through this process.

9. Arrange for early flight boarding

This will allow you to settle into your seats and install car seats if you decided to bring those onboard (which we always recommended!)

10. Put a last call checklist on your back door

Make sure to include a master list of everything you need to make sure is packed and everything you need to make sure is done before you leave. Go through the list before leaving to ensure nothing falls through the cracks!

Above all else, remember that this trip is supposed to be FUN and you’ll be creating memories with your family to last a lifetime. Don’t let packing and traveling anxieties steal from the joy of it all!

10 Tips for Packing & Traveling with Kids

5 Simple Ways to Create a Mindful Playroom

We’ve all been there: you’ve managed to throw together dinner for the kids, send them off to play long enough to clean up the kitchen, and as you make your way to get them off to bed you discover that Toys ‘R Us seems to have exploded all over the playroom floor, halfway up the stairs, and everywhere else in between!

Taking deep, calming breaths you try not blow a gasket, instead patiently asking your kids to help you clean up. Oftentimes this is met with a fair amount of resistance from our little ones, so we wanted to offer a few creative suggestions to help you facilitate meaningful play in your home while doing your best to minimize the clutter and chaos.

Children learn best through play, so it’s super important to organize their toys in a way that fosters and encourages creative meaningful play. Check out the following tips to do just that, while keeping things manageable.

Less is More

This is true with so many things, but especially when it comes to toys. When kids have too many options they are less creative, get overwhelmed easily and often complain about being bored (despite having so much to do right at their fingertips!)

With so many options, kids lose focus and aren’t able to concentrate long enough to use their imagination and learn.

Every few weeks take note of what they are and are not playing with consistently. If it hasn’t been touched in a week, then store it away for later use, rent it out to another family using TheSharingExchange.com or donate it.

Ask yourself questions like, “Is this item adding value to my child’s life in a positive way?” or “Would my child miss this if it went missing?”

When we maintain a mindful playroom, we are giving our kids extra space to be innovative, resourceful and creative.

Owning fewer toys also often results in fewer conflicts between siblings and friends.

Keep Toys in a Central Location

A defined physical space for toys is often best. For example, all toys stay in bedrooms and designated play areas with no exception. I say this for three reasons.

For starters, once the play space is full then there is no room for more. You can easily practice the “one in and one out” rule, which will help you limit the excess and practice mindful consumption.

Secondly, it is important to maintain some adult space in your home for your own sanity.  No one wants toys creeping into every nook and cranny of the house!

Isn’t it the worst when you are running to tend to a crying baby and you step on a Lego in the middle of the night?! Ouch!

Lastly, keeping toys within a confined space helps kids with boundaries and mental organization. If your office supplies were scattered all over the house, when you sat down at your desk to work you would feel overwhelmed and unproductive.

Similarly, kids will often feel the same way when their toys are scattered all over the place and they don’t know where to find the things they’re looking for.

Get Creatively Organized

Instead of storing all toys in a large toy box, organize them into smaller groups and store in horizontal shelving.

Make sure your storage solution is down at your child’s eye level. This gives your kids easy access to reach what they need. And, when toys are stored down on their level, most kids are more likely to help with cleanup.

Pro tip: always make sure your furniture is safely attached to the wall so nothing comes crashing down on your little one.

Finally, make sure your bins or storage containers are a manageable size so your kiddos can pick up & carry things back to where they belong.

If you make them too heavy or bulky, they’ll have to rely on you to help clean up. We want to encourage independent helpers, not co-dependent helpers!

Using clear bins is also a great solution so they can easily see what is inside. Even better? Store a single item on the shelf so it highlights the item. Again, less clutter equals higher quality play. Modeling for our children how to arrange toys helps them learn to respect & value their things, and respect the clean up process instead of randomly scattering them all about.

Establish Expectations Around Cleanup

Around age three kids begin to understand the concept of boundaries as it relates to their belongings.

In our family we have a rule that, if you play with one thing it must be cleaned up and put away before another activity or game can be taken out.

Establishing guidelines like this provides a healthy amount of structure, which leads to more intentional play.

The playroom should be a space to learn, grow and imagine, so when it is time to clean up it is helpful to give clean up warnings to ease the transition away from playtime. This shows your child you respect their boundaries and their time.

For example, “In 5 minutes it will be time to clean up and get ready for dinner.”

I like to usually give a 10 minute, 5 minute, 2 minute and 1 minute warning. Even setting a timer can help some kids who thrive on predictability.

Almost all children like to know what lies ahead, so clean up warnings can help them gear down and start thinking about the next part of their day.

In my personal experience, I have seen less tantrums and resistance to clean up if you can give appropriate clean up warnings.

As an exception, if your child has worked for hours building a masterful block tower or Lego creation, it is ok to let it stay out for next time.

Talk this through with your child and ask them when they plan to revisit it. How would it make them feel if they had to clean it up now?

Since it obviously can’t stay out forever, talk this through and set an expectation for when it will be cleaned up.

Example, “I know you have worked hard on this, so let’s leave it here that way you can come back and play with it tomorrow. At the end of day tomorrow we can clean it up together.”

Rotate Your Children’s Play Things

If you are seeking to cultivate a truly intentional playroom with a “less is more” mentality then you might want to consider rotating your kids’ toys to keep things fresh and interesting.

Renting new toys from another family in your neighborhood is also an option. The Sharing Exchange™ was created just for this purpose.

Instead of always buying things new, a toy exchange platform like The Sharing Exchange allows you to access an endless amount of toys, games and activities from other families in your neighborhood without the headache (or cost!) of owning everything.

Rent something for a week or two and when the novelty wears off, send it back to the owner. This teaches our youngest learners how to borrow and share. Modeling this concept for your kids is invaluable! Just like a library, rent, play, return!

Respecting other people’s stuff is such a great lesson to teach your kids. If you are not local to San Diego and you don’t have access to The Sharing Exchange™ (yet!), look up toy libraries in your community or organize a play date with a toy swap.

We hope that armed with these tips and suggestions in mind you can now create a fun, safe, and intentional play space for your active learners!

So much growth happens through play, so get down on the floor and play with your little ones and watch their imaginations run wild!

Ps: Have you taken our quiz, “What is Your Child’s Play Personality”? This is a great way to better understand how your child plays! We even offer a free guide with suggestions for different toys and activities curated specifically for your child’s play personality! Click here to take our quiz.

5_Simple_Ways_to_Create_a_Mindful_Playroom

How to Find Your Mom Tribe

The following post was written by Guest Contributor Crystal Harris.

Let’s be honest for a minute – mom life can be hard! Sometimes it can feel like nothing more than paying bills, making meals and herding children from one place to the next.

To help us get through all the ups and downs of mom life it’s so important that we have a “mom tribe” – a group of friends we can call on for support as we raise our tiny humans.

At 3am a Facebook group may not be as helpful or supportive as you need it to be. We need real connections with people in our everyday lives who can be there for us when things get tough.

With that in mind, here are my three tips to help you make and nurture friendships with other moms as you build your tribe.

Skip the Qualification Round

Have you ever wondered why we call it “making” friends? Think about it. We don’t say “happening upon” friends or “stumbling across” friends or “earning” friends.

When is the last time you heard someone say, “I earned a new friend today”? Most likely you haven’t, because that isn’t how it goes down.

Have you ever noticed how good children are at making friends? With few inhibitions (and sometimes a lacking sense of personal space!) they’ll confidently walk up to another child on the playground and say, “Want to play?”

We should all take a cue from our kids. You want to find have a tribe of mom friends? You are going to have to step outside your comfort zone, approach another mama and ask, “Will you be my friend?”

You’re going to have to take the first step at making that friendship, which depends a lot on what your definition of friendship looks like.

If you define a friend as someone you can tell anything, then start sharing with your new friend! And don’t stay comfy and safe in the shallow end, sharing things they’ve probably already learned about you when they Instagram stalked you before agreeing to meet for coffee.

Choose to be open and share things in confidence. The right people will honor your vulnerability with friendship.

Take it As it Comes

Don’t get hung up on trying to find lifelong friends. Think about the story of the Good Samaritan. If the man who was in a tough spot and needed a friend had hesitated, wondering if he the Good Samaritan were going to be lifelong friends or not, the story wouldn’t have ended up well for him!

The same goes for us. Maybe the friend you meet at La Leche League will still be your friend when your kids go off to college. Or maybe she’ll help you through the toughest bout of thrush that gentian violet has ever encountered, and that’s the extent of where that relationship will go.

But guess what? You had the benefit of a friend and supporter through the worst bout of thrush that gentian violet has ever encountered – and that counts for something! Enjoy what you can, while you can. 

Also – don’t make the mistake of waiting for “just the right time” before reaching out for community. Get out there and get connected with other mom friends who can support and love you right where you are now.

Don’t wait until your house is clean or your roots are done, or until you perfect making crème brulee in your Instant Pot. Take it as it comes!

Be Honest & Loyal

When it comes to building your mom tribe, remember the golden rule. Remember to model the type of friendship you expect by being the type of friend that you want.

I personally want my friends to be totally honest with me. So, I make sure to always be honest with them.

I also want my friends to be loyal. Like Thelma and Louise loyal. Like stand next to me and burn it down to the ground and tell me I was in the wrong while we are fleeing the scene loyal.

A dear friend of mine and I actually have a code word: lavender. We always default to complete and total honesty in our friendship….like, “You know your teeth look yellow in that lipstick” kind of honesty.

However, if one of us mentions the word “lavender” we switch into the kind of loyal friend mode where for a minute or two, we tell the other person exactly what they want to hear.

Everyone has moments where they need to hear that it is ok that they taught their kid how to Pop Tart and Netflix so they could stay under the covers for an hour longer on a rainy Saturday morning.

So, the next time you see that mom with the cool sunglasses at yoga class who stays in child’s pose as long as you do and carries her mat in an Ikea bag, you’ve got a plan!

Building your mom tribe is so important to your happiness and fulfillment as a mom – so don’t delay! Get out there and make some friends, mama.


Headshot - Crystal HarrisThis guest post was written by Crystal Harris, creator of the Brauxiliary Band, a hands-free pumping band for breastfeeding mamas! She has made it her personal mission to make life easier for pumping moms. She nursed her two sons while working from home, but returned to work in an office setting after the birth of her daughter. This led her to invent the Brauxiliary Band! Her gorgeous children, John IV (5), Bennett (3) and Josette (1) look and act just like their amazing mama! Crystal is married to her husband John III, a man who understands and celebrates her particular neurosis; church, Dunkin Donuts and solo grocery trips. Fun Fact about Crystal:  All three of her children were born on Sunday mornings, which make Sundays her favorite day of the week. She and her family reside in Charlotte, NC. To connect with Crystal social media, check out her Facebook and Instagram accounts @Brauxiliary or visit http://www.Brauxiliary.com.

How to Find Your Mom Tribe-2

An Open Letter to Dads on Mother’s Day

Dear Dads,

Are you ready? Mother’s Day is just around the corner (you’re welcome for the reminder!)

My hope is that you noticed it on the calendar weeks ago and have been plotting tirelessly to make it an extra special day for the well-deserving mamas in your lives.

But just in case the dog ate your calendar and somehow the holiday is catching you unawares, I want you to know that I’ve got your back.

I’m going to let you in on a few little secrets that I hope will help you see the mother of your children in a new light and plan a truly spectacular day for her to enjoy this Mother’s Day.

Secret #1: We want to know we’re appreciated

Ever since those two pink lines showed up on that first pregnancy test, we have been making sacrifice after sacrifice for these tiny people we created with you.

We’ve sacrificed our bodies, our sleep, our privacy, our time, our freedom and even, on occasion, our sanity!

Here’s the thing: to us, all of that sacrifice is totally worth it.

We don’t regret becoming moms for one second, and will always be there to wipe those runny noses, kiss those scraped knees and change those wet bed sheets in the middle of the night.

We will continue to wake up every day ready to jump in and do what needs doing to make sure our families are safe, happy and healthy.

But no matter how much we logically understand the value of our own sacrifice, nothing fills our hearts more than when you and our children express your appreciation for everything we do.

We just want to know that you all see us and appreciate #allthethings we do, day-in and day-out, to keep the world turning.

So make sure to lead by example – let us know how much you love and appreciate everything we do, and encourage the kids to do the same.

This special day is like a recharge to our tired mama batteries. A little fuel goes a long way!

Secret #2: We don’t want to make decisions

Every single day of our lives we are faced with a million different decisions to make. Decision fatigue is totally a thing – and we have that!

On Mother’s Day the last thing we want to do is have you ask us, “So what would you like to do today?” Trust me, just don’t do it.

A much better course of action would be to think really hard about what you know we like….and make as many of those things happen for us as possible.

We don’t always need diamonds or trips or fancy dinners….we just want to know that you put care and thought into pampering us on our special day.

So make some plans (in advance!) that you know we’ll love and we will be totally thrilled to enjoy a wonderful day, free from having to think or make decisions!

Secret #3: We just want a break!

I would bet money that if you took a poll asking 100 moms what the #1 thing they wish they had more of in their lives is, they’d answer “sleep.”

Seriously….we mamas are just TIRED and ready for a break! This Mother’s Day try to get creative about how you can take things off our plate to make our day as refreshing and rejuvenating as possible.

And get the kids in on the action too – it doesn’t all have to fall to you! Have them help cook some meals or clean up the house.

Even better? Take them out for a bit to give us some much needed “me-time” at home. Truly, there is nothing like being able to use the bathroom in total privacy, or read a few chapters of a new book uninterrupted.

I guaranteed if you take each of these “secrets” to heart and respond accordingly, your partner – that beautiful, amazing, strong, selfless and incredible mother of your children – will feel like the most special person in the world. And that is the most priceless thing you could ever give her.

Don’t forget – we appreciate YOU, our men, our partners, the ones who make OUR world go ‘round, and we are so grateful to be on this journey through parenthood with you (which we can’t wait to celebrate on Father’s Day in just a few weeks!)

An Open Letter to Dads on Mother's Day-2

Raising Mindful Consumers in a World of Excess

“I cannot do all the good that the world needs. But the world needs all the good I can do.” – Jana Stanfield

As parents, we have a huge responsibility to lead the way in teaching our children how to live well, in a way that promotes compassion and community.

From the moment our babies come into this world they begin looking to us to set a framework of expectations for life and the world around them.

Over the years, as technology and convenience have evolved, our culture has become significantly more preoccupied with “stuff”….and our kids are no exception!

Why Teaching Mindful Consumption is Important

Ultimately mindful consumption is all about developing the awareness to recognize how what you choose to consume, whether it’s clothing, food, books, toys, electronics, cars or utilities, has an impact on your community, society and the planet as a whole.

One of the biggest advantages we can give our kids in life is teaching them how to make mindful, compassionate, conscientious decisions about how they will to spend their time and money, and what they will allow into their lives.

There have been countless studies and observations made to show how excessive consumption can negatively affect mental health, our environment, our relationships and our creativity.

But it’s never too late to choose to right the ship and help our kids learn to do the same! Here are a few practical ideas to help you as you endeavor to raise mindful consumers in a world of excess.

1. Lead by example

As we mentioned earlier, our kids start looking to us at a really young age and what they see us do greatly shapes their thoughts, beliefs and actions. The biggest step we can take in raising mindful consumers is to model what mindful consumption looks like.

Engage your children in conversations as you consciously make choices to embrace less in your life so they will take note of how you’re living and making decisions.

2. Ask your child questions

A fundamental part to living intentionally and making mindful choices is asking questions. Just as you would ask yourself questions to determine if you should really purchase something or do something, ask your child those same questions to help them learn how to ask themselves those same questions over time.

Examples of questions could include:

Why do you want this item?

Is this something you think you’ll use for a long time or just a little while?

How will owning this item change your life? How will it impact others and the environment?

Obviously you’ll need to bear in mind the age and level of understanding of your child. Certain questions they’ll be too young to grasp, but getting in the habit of asking questions sets a great precedent.

3. Let your child make their own decisions

The next step in a child learning to consume mindfully is allowing them to practice making their own decisions after working through their own questioning process.

As parents it’s important for us to guide them and sometimes point them in the right direction. But if we continue making all their decisions for them without ever allowing them to choose for themselves, chances are they will 1) grow to resent us, 2) never gain confidence in their ability to make good decisions, and 3) never experience the negative ramifications of making mistakes (which helps them learn!)

After challenging them to ask and answer questions about their consumption habits, allow them space to choose what they will or won’t consume and walk through those outcomes (good or bad) with them, highlighting the evident impact their choices make.

4. Choose experiences over stuff

This is a big one. As parents who love our kids it can be tempting to shower our kids with everything their little hearts desire. But oftentimes that can do a disservice to us, them and our community as a whole.

Instead of focusing on the “things” we want and enjoy in life, you can actively work to cultivate a family culture that chooses and celebrates experiences over stuff.

Get creative with ways to give your kids experiences for birthdays and the holidays, instead of more stuff, and emphasize to them that life is all about the moments we collect, not things.

5. Promote a culture of sharing

A great way to practice mindful consumption is to recognize and embrace the idea that you don’t have to own everything!

Here at The Sharing Exchange™ we are passionate about bringing families and communities together to share and fulfill needs by sharing possessions instead of collecting them.

This is something you can involve the whole family in by generously lending out your belongings to others who could use them while you aren’t (or even better, making a little extra cash by renting out those belongings to others who have temporary needs but don’t want to invest in purchasing those things to own!)

As parents, and as a community, we have the ability to join forces in changing our world – together. And we can start by raising our kids to think and do differently.

To get started with practicing and promoting mindful consumption within your family and community, you can go sign up for a FREE account on The Sharing Exchange™ and start lending or renting today!

Raising Mindful Consumer in a World of Excess

Leading by Example: Teaching Our Kids to Borrow & Share

We’ve all seen (and probably experienced!) it before: screaming fits and tantrums thrown by unhappy children who have just been asked to share their beloved toys.

Bickering back and forth between siblings over whose turn it is to choose a show.

Crocodile tears spilled over having to return greatly-loved books back to the library.

Learning the concepts of borrowing and sharing isn’t always easy or fun for children and their parents, but it’s a necessary step in a child’s development.

When it comes to teaching kids to borrow and share with good attitudes, it’s important for parents to start early and understand that the most powerful place to start is leading by example.

As our kids grow and develop they are looking to us to for guidance, and our words and behaviors are what will shape the standards of expectation they have for themselves and others.

When they see us setting a strong example of sharing, caring and helping within our communities the likelihood that they will follow in our footsteps is so much greater!

A Fresh Approach

No one is perfect – not even us parents! It’s important to remember that as you parent your children and to be honest about your mistakes and imperfections so they grow up holding themselves to a standard of grace over perfection.

Let them see you apologize for saying or doing things that weren’t the best as you seek to make things right.

This will build trust between you and your child, as well as show them what humility looks like in action. Doing so will better equip them to be teachable as they grow.

Instead of striving to be the perfect parent and turning every moment into a textbook learning opportunity for your child, we propose that you turn each moment into an opportunity to speak and act with purposeful intention.

As you go about your days, engage in conversations with your child that will help them begin to see what healthy sharing and borrowing looks like.

At The Sharing Exchange, we believe that not everything needs to be shared and it’s okay to teach kids to be discerning about what they are and are not comfortable sharing or lending.

In order for kids to develop a healthy appreciation for the place that sharing and borrowing can have in their lives and in the community, they should never be forced to share something they aren’t comfortable with sharing.

Successful sharing and borrowing requires cooperation, which is a building block of healthy relationships, trust and community.

If your child feels like you have both worked together to decide what and when to share, they will feel respected and valued, which will create positive emotions surrounding the idea of sharing and borrowing.

Consider Your Language

The language you use every day has a huge influence on how your child sees and thinks about things. They are like little sponges and work really hard to process and absorb all the language they hear each day.

The word “share” can be a tricky and abstract concept to a young child, so we recommend using the phrase “take a turn.”

Empowering children the the language skills necessary to be successful in social sharing situations is so important! Regularly work on incorporating phrases like, “I would like a turn,” “I am not finished yet,” or “May I please have a turn?” into your regularly vocabulary when communicating with both your children and others.

Equipping your children with the skills to negotiate will help build their self-esteem, which will lead to them feeling comfortable giving someone else a turn.

Consider Their Age

It’s important to take your child’s age into consideration as you work through teaching them about sharing and borrowing.

You should absolutely begin laying the groundwork at an early age, but don’t expect a 2 or 3 year old to consistently and willingly offer up their cherished toys anytime you ask. Give and take is very hard at this age, as they are just beginning to understand the concept of “mine vs. yours.”

It’s not until between the ages of 4 and 7 that kids really start to grasp the concepts of empathy, generosity and kindness.

Other Considerations

You’ll also want to take care to effectively communicate to your child that there are two different types of sharing: lending and giving. If you try to frame all sharing and borrowing as one in the same, your child may wind up confused and distrusting.

Lastly, we highly encourage you to begin practicing regular generosity if you don’t already do so. Make a big to-do about every time you practice generosity in your own life, inviting your child to see what you’ve done, why you made the choices you did and what kind of result it led to.

A child will give as he is given to. If your kiddo sees you being generous with your time, attention, affection and belongings, the chances are much greater that he or she will follow in your footsteps as they get older!

Some Ideas to Get You Started

If you’re ready to start getting intentional about how you’re teaching your children to borrow and share on a daily basis, here are a few practical, no-fuss ideas to help you get started.

1. Plan a trip to the library

Invite your kiddo out for a date to the library and let them choose a few books to borrow. When you go to check the books out ask the librarian to explain the “rules” to your child so the expectations are very clear that your child will be allowed to take the books home to enjoy, but he or she must take good care of them and return them within the allotted timeframe. When the due date arrives, invite your child to be the one who gets to return the borrowed items.

2. Invite your child to cook with you

As you both set about whipping up a family meal together, use language that encourages the idea of sharing. Examples: “Would you please pass me that measuring cup,” “Let’s share responsibilities. You can make the toast and I’ll butter the toast,” or “May I have a turn grating the cheese?”

3. Have a purge party with your child

Schedule some time to go through your child’s clothing or toys with him or her, and together decide which things should be kept and which ones are no longer needed.

Gather up the stuff that is no longer in use and either rent it out to a family in the neighborhood who could use it or donate to a local charity.

4. Set up a sharing playdate

Invite a few of your child’s friends over for a playdate and ask them to bring a few of their own toys to share. When everyone has arrived label each person’s toys so they don’t get confused.

Then, pull out a timer and explain that everyone gets to choose one toy to play with for 5-10 minutes and when the timer rings, it will be time to trade toys.

At the end of the party you might consider seeing if each child would like to take home a borrowed or rented toy to reiterate the concept of properly caring for borrowed items and returning them at a later date.

For San Diego parents, The Sharing Exchange is a great place to facilitate the borrowing/sharing/renting of toys within your community. At the end of your ‘sharing party’ take two minutes to list your toys on the online marketplace then swap renting with a friend. This way no one will forget whose is whose and will also help keep track of when it is due back!

Even if you set your rental price at $5, it shows your child that we are “borrowing” and it will be due back soon! Very similar to the checkout process at the library.

No matter what approach or methods you choose, always remember to approach teaching your children with understanding, patience and kindness.

Sharing is hard, so celebrate the successes and work together to create a caring and supportive home environment. Developing a healthy ability to share will only improve as your child finds success and has positive experiences!

When you focus on doing the right things yourself your child will learn through osmosis and be well on his or her way to being a generous, compassionate human being.

Ps: Have you taken our quiz, “What is your child’s play personality”? This is a great way to better understand how your child plays! We even offer a free guide with suggestions for different toys and activities curated specifically for your child’s play personality! Click here to take our quiz.

Leading_By_Example_Teaching_Our_Kids_to_Borrow_&_Share_(Pinterest)