Scale Down on the Toys!

They will tell you that they "want," "need" and "can't live without" this toy, that game and everything else in between. Usually parents or grandparents answer to that is "Okay." But not so fast, before you make a promise that you really don't know if you can keep (especially when you have other people on your list that have needs as well) ask your children, "What aren't you playing with anymore?" Make them find something in their rooms that they aren't using and you sell it (that's money toward your Xmas fund,) give it away or if it's broke, fix it or throw it away.

Let's face it, our children can be greedy! They will play into our emotions with their tears, silent treatment, and anger outbursts. They can make us feel bad, mad and sometimes more than happy not to do another single thing for them. Yet, what do we end up doing when the smoke clears? We get them what they want!

Create a plan of action before you go buying all those wonderful gifts! Know how much money you will spend on each child and don't go over it! Be sure that they have picked out some toys they are willing to part with. Host a yard sale, an online auction, or just give it away for a tax write-off.

But whatever you do, don't add another thing to their room (even if your child is a baby) until you have cleared some space for the next items you and others will buy for them. Children need to understand the following: "You must give in order to receive." As parents we should remember, "Money doesn't grow on trees!"

God bless.

Nicholl McGuire is the author of When Mothers Cry and blogger of this site and others.

When Should You Get A Child Checked Out?

As parents, we can get so busy that we barely have time for a bathroom break! Sometimes we are guilty of putting off seeing a doctor for ourselves and yes, our children too! We reason that if the child isn't crying and clenching his or her stomach in pain, then he or she is alright while praying that his or her runny nose, weird cough or pale face will go away in seven days or less. Well that simply isn't good enough, when should we take our children in to see a doctor?

1. When the basic remedies don't help.

Things like cough medicine and other over the counter medicines are designed to relieve symptoms, but not to cure. When you see that each day your child is getting worse instead of better, take him or her to see a doctor.

2. When the weird sounding cough isn't relieved.

You may have tried the humidifier and bought an over the counter medicine, yet still the cough remains. Don't put it off any longer by easing your worries talking to co-workers, grandparents and the neighbors for their thoughts, make that doctor's appointment!

3. Strange skin discolorations, rashes, hives, and markings that don't heal on their own.

If you purchase a topical cream that is suppose to help the skin heal and it doesn't, don't buy another, have a doctor take a look at it.

4. Body aches and chills that come and go throughout the day.

You may have given your child Tylenol and still he or she is complaining of feeling hot and cold, sweat beads are appearing on his or her forehead and it seems that the child is out of it, don't put this off! Chances are the fever is not breaking and he or she should be taken immediately to the nearest hospital!

5. Ear aches.

These shouldn't be taken lightly either since they can affect one's sense of balance when walking Also, they are a clear indication that other things may be wrong in the body as well.

6. Runny bowel movements.

A simple over the counter medicine should clear this up; but when it doesn't, you know what you need to do.

7. Upset stomach.

Whether it was last night's bad meat, an expired product on pizza or something else, after a 24 hour period any child should be as good as new after taking an over the counter medicine for stomach upset, but what if yours isn't? Don't put this off either especially if you feel that this symptom may not have been caused by food after all.

These are some of the seven most common issues that occur with most children (and adults) but when you have tried everything and nothing seems to work, take your child to a doctor. By the way, if you have one of those bosses who just doesn't seem to understand, well keep this in mind, if you don't get the care your child needs, which would you rather lose, your job or your child?

Other symptoms to pay close attention to:

Frequent headaches, yellowing of lighter skin tones, darkening of skin, black and blue marks that don't seem to heal, scratches or burns that bleed or pus often, lumps on the skin that don't go down or harden, complaints of pain in one's side, aches near the lower back, and problems passing bowels or no bowel movement for a long period of time.

Plan for School Breaks Before the Children are Off

A good plan goes along way!

I am a mother of four sons and at one time I had a newborn, a toddler, and two teens under the same roof! It was school break for the holidays and I was feeling overwhelmed! I didn't plan out anything and just took their school break in stride (at least at first.) But things quickly changed when I decided a day or two in advance, I would be preparing Thanksgiving dinner while breast feeding a newborn and attempting to keep the other boys busy with activities!

Before long, hours went by and the sun was setting before anyone was fed that year! I learned the hard way that spontaneous decisions don't work when you have children especially during school breaks. Days of loud noises, sporadic requests of wanting to go outside, crying spells, fighting etc. and I was the ring leader of a circus that had never been in control! So I would stop something to do something else and participate in chores "when I felt like it." Oh spontaneous living at its best with no plan in site!

You too may have gotten away with this sort of thing in the past back when you were single and without children, but once the family life arrives, you find yourself attempting to plan on some days and play it by ear on other days! This doesn't work long term and eventually it affects how you and your partner relate to one another. You are trying to have a simple conversation and out of no where a ball is flying, someone is grabbing your leg, and another is yelling, "Mom...mom!?"

So you know that the holiday breaks are coming, ask yourself, "What is the first thing I should be doing in order to plan for my childrens' school break? Begin listing what you will be doing with the children, what they will be doing without little assistance, and when will you get some needed me time. Start penning your thoughts. Then add days and times to them. Post their activities in public view, so that everyone in the household is aware. Ask a spouse to help out with supervision, errands, and chores. Talk with he or she about consequences for your trouble-makers.

As for those little ones, who can't do nothing more than coo and cry, well be sure you have all needed supplies so that you don't have to make so many trips with children in tote to stores to buy baby food, diapers, wipes, etc.

Call on family, friends or a babysitter when you feel so overwhelmed you can't see straight! Never feel obligated to pay someone back when you know you can't (that will only contribute to your stress levels.) Let the person know in advance, "I can't give you anything for your deed, but a "thank you." This way they won't be expecting you to do anything special for them. However, when things look better financially, do send them a token of your appreciation.

Holiday breaks with children don't have to be challenging unless you are going into them without a plan, so get as much accomplished before the school break, then take a deep breath once the children are back in school again!

God bless.

Nicholl McGuire is the author of Laboring to Love an Abusive Mate, Laboring to Love Myself and When Mothers Cry.

ABC Reading: Placing Education Before Everything Else

ABC Reading: Placing Education Before Everything Else
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