5 Tips to Keep Boy Scouts Fun For Moms

5 Tips to Keep Boy Scouts Fun For Moms
On the eve of our son becoming an Eagle Scout, it seemed appropriate to revisit these tips. 

So your son has decided he wants to be a Boy Scout, and you are thrilled because you know he will gain life-long skills. Plus, plenty of dads will sign up for the adult roles, right? Wrong (or at least, not enough) in my experience.

My story actually started back in Cub Scouts when our son was a Tiger, and not a single dad was willing or able to be den leader. My own husband was working three jobs at the time, so I stepped into the role … which started a 5 year career of over-volunteering in Cub Scouts.

When our guy crossed over to Boy Scouts, I tried to lie low and stay out of leadership. It didn’t take long for someone to track me down for a task, so let me share what I’ve learned over the years to keep things fun.

1.  Make sure your son actually wants to be in Boy Scouts. I know, this seems like a no-brainer, but I see it all the time: parents want their son in Scouts, and the kid has no interest being there. Or maybe he loved the early years but doesn’t want to put in the work to be Eagle … and that’s okay. If you are having to nag your child to attend Scouting events or finish merit badge requirements, it is going to be miserable for both of you. Bow out gracefully.

2. Teach them to care for their own equipment. Seriously, don’t clean their camping/cooking/hiking gear for them. Instruct them on how to do it, but LET THEM DO IT. Trust me, one time of leaving food crumbs in the bottom of their tent will teach them to do better the next time. Plus, if you are doing their chores for them, they aren’t real Boy Scouts.

3 .Learn to say no (within reason.)  While the Boy Scouts of America is Scout led, they cannot function without adult volunteers. You will be asked to give some of your time, and you should say yes where you can. Don’t do like I did and overburden yourself. As with so many organizations, most Troops have a few adults covering all positions, and that isn’t setting a good example for the youth. Offer to be the Point of Contact for one outing or a driver for three trips. If you want to take on a leadership role, by all means do so. The point here is you need to help with at least a minor role, but don’t take on so much you become bitter about Scouting.

4. Go to an Eagle Court of Honor.  I know, that may not sound like fun, but once you’ve been to one, you’ll see what I mean. I go to every ceremony I can, and I’ve even been asked to participate in a few. Why do I recommend this? Well, especially for mommas, seeing how hard these other youth have worked and hearing the kind words people speak about them will warm your heart. Even if your own Scout doesn’t want to go all the way to Eagle, experiencing a Court of Honor will warm your heart.

5. Ask your son what he enjoys most about Scouting, and then ask him to teach you.  You’ll be amazed at how his joy is infectious, and watching him become the instructor will show you how much he is growing. When my son shows me a new skill, it helps to remind me why I wanted him to join Boy Scouts in the first place. An even better experience is watching him share his knowledge with younger Scouts. No matter what the rank, your son will have learned skills to carry with him throughout life.

All in all, my biggest tip is to let your son take the lead with how large or small a part Scouting will play in his life. As is usually the case, if your child is enjoying the learning process, mommas will be able to have fun, too.

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Twelve Free or Cheap Favorite Christmas Traditions (by Kids)

Twelve Free or Cheap Favorite Christmas Traditions (by Kids)
One of my most favorite things as a parent has been sharing generations of my family’s Christmas traditions with my children while adding in new ones from the five of us.  However, when I asked my kids which ones they loved the most, I was truly surprised.

You see, all of their top choices were either free or very inexpensive … truly Christmas magic.  Here is our list of 12 Favorite Christmas Traditions:

1.  Pajamas on Christmas Eve:  We haven’t always done this, but we’ve been doing it long enough that the kids can’t remember exactly when we started.  Yes, you’ll have to spend a little bit of money, but here is my tip – you don’t buy actual Christmas pajamas.  Instead, I buy ones that represent something my children love (Star Wars, princesses, theater, etc), which means I can buy them here and there in the months leading up to December, utilizing sales and coupons.  2 out of 3 of our kids said this is their most favorite tradition. 

2.  Sitting together to eat the Christmas Day meal:   Okay, this one came from our youngest child and kicked in a bit of mom guilt.  It made me realize how hectic our lives have become and that all five of us rarely sit down to eat together.  Of course, she is also my chef and loves how we use the fancy china and silver for our Christmas meal.  This one costs you nothing as it is simply spending time together, even if you are eating PBJ.

3.  Watching Rudolph (and other Christmas movies):   This one is another freebie – well, as long as you have TV and electricity, which should never be taken for granted.  Our eldest loves Rudolph the most, and I learned a long time ago to purchase it on DVD in case we missed its air time.  Of course, now we have it on DVR for the same reason.  If those aren’t options for you, your local library will usually have some options to check out, or try your best to catch it on prime time. 

4.  Advent calendar:  I didn’t have one of these growing up, but all three of my kids absolutely love it.  My mother-in-law gave us one when we only had two children.  It hangs on the wall, and has the cute little padded ornaments that go on it.  The kids take turns every year, and we have to have a schedule so there is no arguing about who hangs Santa on Christmas Eve.  This is one of those traditions where you can choose to buy a calendar or get inventive and make your own!  Either way, it will be a fun memory for your family. 

5.  Making snowflakes:  Our middle child reminded me the other day this doesn’t have to cost a dime, as he was making a snowflake out of a fast food napkin. For this one, you can spend as much or as little as you like.  The goal isn’t perfection; it is the joy in doing something together. 

6.  Baking cookies:  Once again, this one doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive.  Do what fits your budget.  We invite my best friend and her son (whom we consider aunt and cousin) over to make cookies every year. No cookie cutters, no problem!   Roll into balls or use a butter knife to make your own shapes.  Even the teens still get into this one.  The cookies are far from perfect, but the children have a blast, and Santa has never lodged a complaint. Here is my biggest tip for you:  if you do sugar cookies from a mix, add a tablespoon of vanilla – they will taste like homemade. 

7.  White Elephant:  Another one I didn’t do growing up, but my older children loved participating at youth group.  We had a $5 limit, which makes this easy, affordable, and leads to some inventive ideas.   Of course, it is almost impossible to do in 2020, but my son wanted me to include it any way.  You see, last year, he received an actual white elephant statue, and he couldn’t wait to regift it this year. 

8.  Cutting Your Own Tree:  Granted, this one will require spending some money, but it is so worth the memories.  Also, if you like a large tree like we do, cutting your own is actually cheaper than purchasing from a big box store or nursery.  When I was little, my parents started the tradition of taking our family to a tree farm near where we spent Thanksgiving.  All these years later, I live about an hour from that same tree farm, so my kids get to have the same experience.  In fact, we’ve been going there so long that the owners put my wedding announcement up in the wreath room.  Talk about making a customer feel special! 

9.  Ornaments:  Whether you make one or buy one, have an ornament that represents something from each year.  All three of our children already have a large enough eclectic collection that they are set for the first year they need to decorate their own tree. 

10.  Decorating the Tree:  You’ve got the tree and the ornaments, now is the time to decorate it, right?  This is another simple way to make some special memories.  For instance, we always tease my husband not to cut any off, even though we tend to choose a 9-10 foot tree.  Then, hubby puts on the lights, and the rest of us grab our individual ornament boxes.   I love this special time of each child remembering who have them which ornament and what it means to them. 

11.  Stockings:  Our youngest told me the surprises that come out of her stocking are some of the best Christmas memories, and once she said it, the older two agreed.  Santa has some staples he sticks in there – oranges, small packs of Kleenex, and chocolate – but everything else is a total mystery.   And that makes pulling everything out of your stocking fun. 

12.  Christmas Morning Suspense:  Yep, it shocked me, too, when my kids said this was a favorite tradition.   Apparently waiting with your sibling at the top of the stairs while your parents get the tree lights turned on and breakfast in the oven also makes wonderful memories.  And if that doesn’t tell you special traditions don’t have to cost a dime, I don’t know what does. 

Wishing you and yours the merriest of seasons. 
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From Tantrums to Calm: How We Helped Our Kids

From Tantrums to Calm:  How We Helped Our Kids
Our third child taught us all kinds of new things beyond dealing with hangry. (Oh, did you miss that entertaining discussion?  You can check it out here.)

My mention of stopping a tantrum in its tracks raised a lot of questions.  Yes, we had attempted all the “tried and true” methods (after all, third kid, not our first rodeo), but she was a different, fabulous personality.   The only thing that worked to calm her down was Joy.  Yep, it’s very aptly named.  There were times she was really upset that we had to convince her to rub it over her heart, but on other days she would recognize the feeling, grab the bottle, and put a drop or two on herself.  

After seeing how well Joy worked and how much our little one liked using oils by herself, we decided to give her a set of oils that would all be her own, teach her how to use them, and leave them in a place her little hands could reach.  Two quickly became her faves:  Owie and TummyGize.

An active childhood comes with lots of bumps and bruises earned through fun times, plus the occasional skinned knee or elbow.  Our daughter kept Owie close at hand and dripped it on as needed.  She also quickly realized that a day of roller coasters or eating too much junk with her grandparents meant she needed a drop of two of TummyGize in her belly button to calm a tummy that was topsy turvy. 

She learned that Sleepyize in her Feather the Owl diffuser at night meant she would have good rest and the nightmares stayed away.  Days spent in falling leaves or spring flowers blooming had her rubbing Snifflease on her chest.  The greatest gift as parents was watching her intuitively know what her body needed and that she had the confidence to use it. 

Maybe it was because she started using essential oils on her own at such a young age, but GeneYus was the last one she grabbed.  That doesn’t mean she hasn’t put it to good use!  Once she hit school age and figured out how much this blend diffused helped her brain during lesson times, it quickly moved up her favorite list. 

We don’t have KidPower yet, but it is already on her wish list, especially once she heard it smells like Orange Creamsicle.  Knowing that it helps kids balance their emotions, especially considering the difficult time we are all enduring, makes it a blend the rest of our house wants, too. 

Those are simply the highlights of why we love these KidScents oils.  When you are ready to hear more about our journey, recipes, and other fun ideas, you are welcome to join our entertaining FB group. For those ready to jump in with both feet, here you go

The other cool thing is that we use all of these oils on our pets, too, and we we have some great bonus tips on that.             

Have questions?  Ready to learn more? I'd love to chat!                                  
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Three Ways to Help a Hangry Child

Three Ways to Help a Hangry Child
The other day, someone mentioned their hangry child to me.  I said, “Oh, I feel ya!  We went through that with our youngest, and it was so great to find tips to help her, especially the ones that made her recognize the signs for herself as a toddler.”   The other person gave me this bewildered look like I had discovered world peace, so I thought maybe I should share the “tricks of the trade” in case I can spare some other parents from the epic HANGRY meltdown.  

Our third child came out of the womb ready to rock and roll.  She wanted to learn from and explore everything, and making time to stop for something as silly as eating was not her idea of fun.  Sure, when I was breastfeeding, she was captive and I could get her to eat.  Once she weaned herself, that all changed.  I quickly learned to keep track of how often she ate, and I started trying out different ways to get a toddler to recognize her hangry signs.  After lots of trial and error, here are the three things that worked for us. 

1.  Feed the Child
Okay, if you are going DUH right now, you’ve never experienced a hangry child.   They get themselves so worked up and distraught that they pitch a full on fit about eating, even when that is exactly what their little bodies need.  I learned to make sure my child had a small, healthy snack every 2-3 hours.   I kept easily portable options in the diaper bag and my pocketbook for unknown occasions.  Perhaps most importantly, I taught her the “one bite” rule:   even if she didn’t want to eat, I needed her to take one bite of something, or we would have to stop whatever fun activity we were doing.  That one bite was usually enough to make her body and mind realize she needed more, and the meltdown was averted. 
 2.  Communicate the Feeling
Every parent knows how hard it is not to lose your own cool when your little one has a tantrum.  If both sides find a way to communicate with each other, you can easily deal with your hangry one.  The first step is for the adult to recognize the signs and verbalize to the child “your body needs some food” (or whatever you want to say.)  This will help the toddler put thoughts to the feeling, even if they aren’t verbal.  In fact, we used sign language with her because she didn’t have the words yet to tell us about emotions and a rumbly tumbly.  Empowering her with communication made a big difference! 
3.  Finding Emotional Support
This was the game-changer for us.  If you’ve ever been hangry, you know it makes your emotions topsy-turvy, too.   Imagine being a little kid and not knowing why you suddenly feel so distraught, angry, or upset.  You can give your child a quiet place in the house to sit and try to calm down (after you’ve tried the above recommendations), and you can teach them calm breathing/mediation techniques.  For us, the only thing that worked was emotional blends of essential oils meant to calm the body and mind.  Yeah, I know, it sounds wacky and woo-woo.  I thought so, too, until I saw a tantrum stopped in its tracks.  We had a new friend come over, and our youngest came running into the house in tears, grabbed an oil bottle, applied to herself, sat for about 2 minutes, and ran back out, all happy to play.  That friend looked at me and said, “I need a vat of that stuff.” I replied, “Sure, but it only takes a couple drops.” ;)

If you are ready for more details of how the process worked for us, or you want to keep up with our other shenanigans, I can't wait to have you join me here.  

Have questions?  I can't wait to chat with you! 

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The Importance of a Smile

The Importance of a Smile
Yep, this one.  The one with masks.
Now, before we get too carried away, this isn't a debate about whether we should wear masks or not.  It is a simple explanation of why I won't be commemorating this season with multiple photos of my children with masks on their faces. 
Part of this is easy.  I want to capture their beautiful smiles and hilarious expressions.  I want to see the way our eldest child's dimples shine, our son's habit of slightly sticking out his tongue when he is concentrating (just like his grandfather), and how you can almost predict with 100% accuracy what kind of request will come out of our youngest's mouth depending on the set of her lips. 
The sadness, frustration, and difficulty of this season is already etched on our hearts.  We don't need to look back at photos of ourselves in masks to be reminded, especially when said photos will cover up much of the emotions those pictures could tell.  
I can hear people coming out of the woodwork now to say if we don't document it, we'll forget.  First of all, I was trained as an historian before I chose to come home with my kids.  There is plenty of documentation of masks in the current culture; you don't need to subject your children to front porch photo shoots in which they wear cloth face coverings of their favorite animated character to have evidence of your existence during Coronavirus.  Secondly (and once again, as an historian), I can give you multiple examples of how we choose to forget the past even WITH photographic evidence right in front of our eyes. 
I’m choosing to photograph the ways we are celebrating this season.  Swimming, cornhole, water balloon fights in the front yard.  More family game nights than I can count.  Our eldest planning college visits.  Our middle starting in-person Scout meetings again.  Our youngest expanding her culinary skills.   All wonderful memories, and all without masks.  
Now, all that being said, if you are filling your SD card or cloud with masked photos of your family, you do you.  We are all coping in different ways.  For me, I’m going to go capture a few more gorgeous smiles. 
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