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Should I Be Worried? Understanding Tics in Kids

Should I Be Worried? Understanding Tics in Kids. Know what to do about tics and what not to do about tics and discern if your child might have Tourette Syndrome.

Should I Be Worried? Understanding Tics in Kids. Know what to do about tics and what not to do about tics and discern if your child might have Tourette Syndrome.

by anonymous guest blogger

Little kids do strange things. I'm not saying that to mean, I'm just being honest. Have you ever watched a group of toddlers or preschoolers? Someone is pulling their shirt up, someone is taking their shoe on and off. Someone else is moving their hands around in a silly fashion. It's normal. They are still exploring social norms and what their bodies can do. Oh, and they are little kids who have a ton of energy. Of course they are wiggly! But when do those blinks and twitches turn problematic? How do you know if something more is going on?

What is a tic?

The first thing to do is determine if in fact your child has tics. So what is a tic? A tic is defined as 'repeated, sudden, rapid, nonrhythmic muscle movements including sounds or vocalizations.' (Source: Merk Manual) Tics are things like blinking repeatedly or in an exaggerated manner, neck stretching, jaw clenching, sniffings, and grimacing. They are not limited to things like this though. Hand movements, shoulder shrugging, and body movements can be tics. These are called motor tics. There are vocal tics as well, which include throat clearing, humming, and coughing. So basically tics are things kids do on a regular basis. They can change and shift, with one going away and a new starting. What moves it from just a behavior kids do to something that needs to be addressed? It comes down to how much the tic is impacting your child's life and the lives of those around them. Is the movement causing problems in school? Is it causing a disruption to your child's social life? Or is it just bothering you or your child enough that you want to do something about it? Then it is a tic that should be looked at more closely.

Are they voluntary? Can I just tell my child to stop?

Tics are not voluntary. But they aren't considered exactly involuntary either. It is possible to repress the action for a time, just like you can hold in a cough for a few minutes if need be. But they can't be held off forever, and it can cause distress and discomfort for little ones to try to not do them. Telling children to just stop isn't really the most helpful thing to do, especially because children might not always realize they are doing it. Gentle reminders to be aware of the behavior can be helpful as kids get older.

How common are tics?

Just how common are these tics? As I said a lot of them can seem like just the normal wiggles and movements of childhood. Tics actually occur in about 15% of children, so they are not completely uncommon. They are usually transient, meaning it is something a child does for a couple of months or so and then stops doing. But for some, they do last longer. Males are affected about three to four times more than females.

Do tics go away?

In about three-quarters of cases, tics do fade by adulthood. They often appear in children between the ages of 4 and 6 years old. They tend to increase in severity up to about 10-12 years old, then decrease into adulthood. So the good news is most children who experience tics do seem to grow out of them or at least learn how to handle them effectively. The bad news is that they can peak around adolescence, which is a tough time socially for most people, let alone those who have something 'different' about them.

Does this mean my child has Tourette Syndrome?

Tics are considered a spectrum disorder. This means there is a sliding scale of severity. Tourettes is defined by having two or more motor tics and at least one vocal tic at the same time for a year or longer. Tourettes does not mean that your child will start shouting profanities all the time. That is a very rare presentation of the disease that movies have sadly played up for comedic effect. Current data shows that about 6 in 1000 children in the US have Tourette's specifically.

Why do these tics happen?

Like a lot of neurological conditions, we don't know exactly why tics happen. It has been seen to run in families, so we know a genetic component exists. And stress can sometimes exacerbate them and make them more apparent. But there is nothing that you did as a parent to make this happen. They are one of those things in life that just are. Tics can be more apparent in stressful situations. This makes sense as when we get stressed we feel it in our bodies. But, tics can also be seen more when your child is relaxed. When your child is at ease and not really aware of what they are doing they may not be focusing on suppressing the tics, making them more apparent. Either way though, the actual root of the tics is not anyone's fault.

What do I do if I think my child has tics?

The first thing to do is observe. How frequently is your child doing the behavior you are concerned about? Are the tics disrupting your child's daily life? I would also ask a trusted friend or family member if they have observed any behaviors of concern. Sometimes as a parent I fixate on something and therefore notice it all the time, while other people don't even know what I'm talking about. Tak to your child's teachers and find out if the tics are causing a disruption to your child's social life. Yes, that sounds a bit shallow. But social interactions are a part of daily life, and we all know other children are not always nice to someone that has something different about them. If a tic is keeping your child from having friends that is something to consider. If you think the tics are something to look into further, go see your pediatrician. They should be able to help determine if this is something that needs further diagnosis. If they have concerns they may refer you to a neurologist for diagnosis and treatment options.

Are there treatments for tic disorders?

There is no one pill that is going to make the tics stop. But there are options of treatments. Behavior therapies and speech therapies are non-invasive and can be a good fit for children. There are some medications that can help suppress tics, and a surgical treatment called deep brain stimulation exists. And it is important to remember that many children do grow out of this condition.

So what can I do for my child?

The first thing to do is to not freak out. Young children might not even realize what is happening, so drawing a lot of attention to the behavior can be confusing and even make it worse. If you have an older child who knows that they are somehow different than others, make sure you let them know this isn't their fault. They aren't a freak or doing something wrong. Let them know you understand that they can't control what is happening.

Continue a healthy lifestyle. No, eating a certain food or getting a certain amount of exercise isn't going to take your child's tics away. But they can be worse when a child is stressed or has other underlying health issues. It never hurts to promote a healthy lifestyle. Ask your child how they want help. Older children might want reminders top try to stop a tic, or they just might need someone to bring it to their attention. Decide on a method together so that you can draw your child's attention to it without making it a big deal. For preschool age kids this can work too.

Should I Be Worried? Understanding Tics in Kids. Know what to do about tics and what not to do about tics and discern if your child might have Tourette Syndrome.Reminding a child that we use resting hands or to relax their muscles can be a good hint to them to be aware of their bodies. Talk to your children's teachers or caregivers. Tics don't have to be a big to-do. In fact, it is better if teachers don't draw attention to them in a classroom setting. That can just make them a bigger distraction. But it is a good idea to let those who are responsible for your child know what is going on. This way they will know that your child isn't acting out intentionally or just trying to be a troublemaker in class. These caregivers can also help give any cues to be aware of the tics to your child as well.

The good news

Hearing that your child has tics or Tourettes can be scary. They are an unknown and anything that we can't control can be stressful. The good news about these involuntary movements is that they have a lot of choices in how to handle them. Most people who experience this lead totally normal lives. In fact, you might even know someone with a tic disorder, you just never noticed. Talk to your doctor, observe your child, and be supportive. Your child is wonderful, tics and all.  


Should I Be Worried? Understanding Tics in Kids. Know what to do about tics and what not to do about tics and discern if your child might have Tourette Syndrome.

Brinley Child Summary: 5 Years 10 Months Old

Inside: Five year old girl information. Five year old schedule.

Inside: Five year old girl information. Five year old schedule.

This is a summary for Brinley from 5 years 9 months to 5 years 10 months old. 

Sleep is great! Brinley goes to bed around 8:30 and gets up at 7:30. She does not take any naps in the day. 8:30 is later than I would ideally like for her age, but this last month has been so busy and crazy that 8:30 has been the norm.

Eating is great. 

Things just get better and better each month with the emotions. I have really come to see Brinley is a different person with and without video games. Even the three older kids have noticed it. We do a technology fast each month where we do no tech at all for one full week each month. During that week, Brinley is super pleasant and rarely emotional. During her weeks with video games, she can be a wreck. The three older kids even suggested we get rid of all of our technology a couple of weeks ago because they can see such a strong difference in her when she has tech and when she doesn't. That option is on the table still. We don't mind having some video games, and we only allow 3 hours a week, but we don't want crazy grumpiness going on, either.

Brinley did the same things this month as she did last month

Brinley is a late summer birthday, so she was one of the youngest (if not THE youngest) people in her grade. This was a decision I pondered on from the day I found out I was pregnant with her and calculated the due date. I didn't take it lightly and I did a lot of research and interviewing. I wrote all about why we ultimately decided to send her to Kindergarten on time

As I look back now, one school year later, I am so very glad we sent her on time. As we made the decision, one of the factors was academic ability. Brinley always tested way above benchmark and was at the top of her class in understanding concepts and reading ability. There were zero concerns there.

We also looked at social skills. Being social is a gift of Brinley's. She just has great social sense. At the first parent teacher conference, her teacher said she never saw Brinley without a group of children around her. She is a leader and people are drawn to her. I am really glad we sent her on time for this reason. If she were also the oldest in the class, I could see her getting a little bossy and "wise in her own eyes" socially. Being young helps there be a little bit of humility. Maybe. Brinley has made some great friends. She knew no one when she started school and has just thrived.

We also looked at maturity. This wasn't an issue emotionally nor physically. Brinley was actually one of the tallest in her class. 

I am confident that any person in the classroom who didn't know birth dates and was asked to put the kids in order from oldest to youngest would guess Brinley to be one of the oldest in the grade. 

I will continue to update at the end of each school year. So far, I couldn't be happier with this decision to send her on time and have no regrets. 

In saying that, I do not at all intend to imply that this is the right decision for all people. What I do hope to do is encourage parents who really feel their child is ready to go on time to have courage to do so. 

7:30 AM--wake up, get ready, eat, scriptures, practice piano
9:00 AM--school
12:30 PM--home and eat lunch. Homework. Then she can watch two 30-minute shows on PBS  and has independent playtime if desired. Two days a week she has her extra curricular activities. I scheduled her stuff during the other kids' school day so we didn't have our family time so interrupted. 
4:00 PM--Siblings home. Sibling play and family time. 
5:00 PM--Dinner in this hour
7:00 PM--Bedtime process begins.
8:30 PM--In bed

10 Uses For a Timer That Will Make Parenting Easier

Uses For a Timer That Will Make Parenting Easier. Tips for making discipline, chores, reading, and technology tracking easier. 

Uses For a Timer That Will Make Parenting Easier. Tips for making discipline, chores, reading, and technology tracking easier.

A highly underutilized tool in parenting is the simple timer. The timer can help you with discipline, teaching manners, chores, reading minutes, independent playtime implementation, and tracking video game or television time. Basically any time your child doesn't want to do something or wants to do something too much, the timer is your friend. Here are my favorite ways to use the timer  (affiliate link) to make parenting a little easier.

Time Out

Sometimes your child just needs a break from people or the situation. When that happens, you might decide to use a time out for that child. A timer is a handy tool during a time out. Set the timer and leave it in the room with the child. Tell your child she can get out when the timer goes off. Then the child learns his/her crying doesn't decide when the time-out ends; the time spent decides. 

As my children get a little older, I take this up a level. I will set the timer only after the child is calmed down. Then he/she needs to sit calmly for a couple of minutes before rejoining the family. Read my detailed post on Time-Out/Isolation for my full tips on using this method for discipline. 


Whining can be as tolerable as nails on the chalk-board. All children go through at least one whining phase as they grow up. Some kick it faster than others. When you find yourself in the thick of it, break out the timer to break this habit if needed. When your child whines, say, "Oh! Looks like you need a minute to think of how to say that in a better way. I will set the timer and you can try again." While the timer is going, you child is not allowed to talk. Again, the timer helps your child understand that whining does not lead to your child getting his/her way. For more help on whining, see:
My children have all gone through a phase when they would just say, "More" or "More cheese" during a meal. They forget their manners. Initially, we will remind them, "How do you ask?" and they will add the "please." That gets frustrating after a while. The child demands, I ask how they should really ask, the child adds a "please" and then the child gets what she wanted. There isn't much motivation to ask nicely in the first place.

At that point, I have always said, "Oh dear. I will set the timer and you can try asking in a polite way." I will then set the timer for two minutes. After the timer goes off, the child can try asking again in a polite way. This way the child actually has some delayed gratification and will actually put some effort into using manners the first time. 

This same concept can be used for interrupting or any other impolite behavior. 


You can use a timer in a lot of ways for chores. You can tell your child you are going to time her and see how long it takes her to get a chore done. That can be very motivating for some children.

You can also set a timer and say the chore needs to be done before it goes off.

Something that works well with McKenna (age 9) is to ask her how long a task will take, set the timer for that long, and she sees if she can get it done in that time. She is always faster than the timer. She likes the challenge, and it is a great way to motivate her to stay focused. She is a dreamer and can easily get distracted in her world of imagination when doing her chores. The timer helps her stay focused.


It can be very easy to let time spent with technology run away with out you. You can use a timer to set it to go off when technology time is over. This is especially useful for something like video game time. We are using timers this summer to keep track of video game time and make sure we don't go over on the time spent. 

Reading Time 

The timer can be handy in many ways when it comes to reading. You use it if your child doesn't love to read. You set the timer and tell your child to read until it goes off.

My children have the opposite problem and will read much too long (this is really just a problem at night). This is especially true for McKenna. She gets very lost in her books and it can be 10 PM before she even realizes it. We got a timer for her so it can pull her from her book. Once it goes off, she knows it is time for lights out. 

This is also a handy tool if you are doing any Sustained Silent Reading. Your children can know they read until the timer goes off and don't ask how much longer over and over. 

Practice Time

Uses For a Timer That Will Make Parenting Easier. Tips for making discipline, chores, reading, and technology tracking easier.

If your child needs to do any practicing of any sort, the timer is a great tool for that. Set the timer and your child practices until it goes off. 

10 Minute Cleaning

I love a good 10 minute cleaning. I clean as much as I can for ten minutes. You will be amazed at how much you can get picked up when you are focused in for ten minutes! The timer works for you and your children on this one. 

Couch Time

Couch time is a great tool for helping to strengthen marriage and show your children you value your marriage. The timer can be helpful for your children to know how long they need to be quiet and respectful of the time you are spending together. It helps them get used to the length of time they are not allowed to interrupt.

Quiet Practice

When my preschoolers need to learn how to hold still and stay quiet, I do what I call "reverent practice." They sit on a chair and fold their arms or clasp their hands together. The rule is they have to stay still on the chair without talking for two minutes. I set the timer. If they talk or get off the chair, I reset the timer to two minutes. If they move around on the chair a lot, I reset the timer. They have to sit still and quiet for two consecutive minutes before they can get down. It doesn't take long for them to learn to sit still and quietly for the two minutes. They can then transfer that skill over at church, the doctors office, or wherever else I need them to be still and reverent. 


The timer is a great tool for you to use in your day to day parenting! It gives you something to use to help your children learn proper behavior. It helps motivate and helps with delayed gratification. Give it a try! 

Get your timer from Amazon (affiliate link) or places like Walmart or Target. 
Uses For a Timer That Will Make Parenting Easier. Tips for making discipline, chores, reading, and technology tracking easier.

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Musical Science: An Easy Way to Introduce Sound Waves to Children

A fun way to learn about science through music. How to teach sound waves.
A fun way to learn about science through music. How to teach sound waves.

by Kimberly Cartwright

How does music work? Okay, that is a broad question. Music is a very personal experience. Let's focus in on how we physically hear music. How does pushing a key on a piano translate to what we hear as a musical note? The science of sound comes down to one main thing: sound waves. Simple waves can produce that beauty that is a symphony. But let's not try for that right now. Let's keep it simple. Grab some glasses of water and let's explore the science of music.

A Bit About Waves

Sound Waves

We hear sound because of waves. Waves happen when something vibrates. In a piano this is when you push on a piano key. Pushing on the key causes a hammer inside the piano to strike a specific string that is tuned to make that particular note. The string vibrates. This vibration creates a wave that travels to our ears. Our eardrums then vibrate and our brain translates that into sound. (This is a simplified explanation, but it works for our purposes.) Waves need a medium to move through, and in this case it is the molecules in the air. No medium, no sound. Space is a vacuum and has nothing to carry waves. (This is why in space no one can hear you scream.)

Wave Properties

Waves are characterized by two main properties, frequency and amplitude. Amplitude is the size of the wave and this impacts volume. (This is why we have amplifiers.) The larger the wave the louder the sound. The frequency is the speed of the wave and this impacts the pitch. The faster a vibration the higher the pitch we hear. There is an easy way to think about this. Picture two cymbals, one really huge and one really small. If you hit the small one it will vibrate very quickly, creating a high pitch sound. It is also smaller and has smaller vibrations, meaning the sound will be quieter. The large cymbal will have slower vibrations and create a deeper sound. It also has larger waves since it is so much bigger, and is naturally louder than the small cymbal.

Making Waves

One challenge of sound waves is that we can't readily see them. Fortunately they work in a similar manner as water waves. So we are going to get some water and use to explore sound waves.

You Need

  1. Glasses
  2. Water
  3. Spoon

To Do

This is a very basic activity, but you can take it to higher levels based off of your child's interest and ability. Fill a few glasses of water with varying levels of water, then let your child tap on the glasses with the spoon. Listen to the sounds. If you watch carefully you can see the water vibrating gently. This is the wave that mimics the one that produces the sound.

What's Going On

How are these sounds being made? When you tap the glass it creates a vibration. The water provides a medium, besides the glass itself, to relay the sound. It also slows down the wave. More water means a slower wave. Slower waves mean deeper sounds, so the glass with the most water will create the deepest sound.

For Younger Children

Younger children, if they are anything like mine, are pretty pumped to just get to hit glasses with spoons. So having just a few glasses making distinct sounds is plenty. We used one glass that was almost completely full, one that was halfway full, and one that was almost empty. First we tapped each glass one at a time and talked about the sounds. I found this was a good time to introduce the idea of high pitches and low pitches. Don't worry, this isn't hard and you don't have to be super musically inclined to talk about these ideas. I had Ben make a squeaky voice and talk as high as he could, and this is a high pitch. Then we talked in low voices and tried to sound like Daddy. These were the low pitches. Let your kids tap out rhythms and try making a little song!

For Older Kids

This is a super simple activity, but you can challenge your older children.

A fun way to learn about science through music. How to teach sound waves.More Glasses

Add in more glasses with different levels of water to create more sounds. How many distinct sounds can you hear?

Different Shaped glasses

Does the shape of a glass impact the sound? Try short and tall glasses. Do wine glasses create different pitches as opposed to drinking glasses?

Match Pitches

If you have a piano, or other tuned instrument available, challenge your child to match a note. Can they get the level in the water to match a note on the piano? This takes a careful ear and a lot of patience. Can your child match more than one note? Finally, can they recreate a simple song? This can get as complicated as your child wants.


This activity is perfect for a simple introduction to sound waves and some basics of music. It is also one that older children with a real interest in music and the math behind it can use to explore deeper. What will your child discover?      

Additional Resources

There is so much going on in even the simplest of notes. Here are some additional resources if your child is interested in learning more. Why do some chords sound good, but others do not? Learn about the math behind frequencies. The secret to making a chord sound good lies in how the waves interact. Where Math Meets Music How do pianos work? Pianos are a great instrument to open up and see the vibrations in action if you are willing to let your kids play around with a very expensive instrument of course. Learn more about how pianos work. How Pianos Work How do scales and chords actually work? Learn in detail how chords work, why scales progress the way they do, and how harmony comes together. How Music Works  

More Science!

Looking for more science with your kids? Try these fun activities: 3 Easy Science Activities to Teach Kids How Colors Work Science by the Pool: Easy Summer STEM Activities 5 Simple Sensory STEM Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers   Kim is the mom of a 4-year-old son and 2-year-old twin daughters. She is a STEM advocate and blogs at Team-Cartwright.com. Follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram!

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A fun way to learn about science through music. How to teach sound waves.

Overcoming the Difficulties of Feeding Healthy Snacks to Kids

How to overcome the challenges that come with feeding healthy snacks to children. Also includes a great list of healthy snack ideas children will love.

How to overcome the challenges that come with feeding healthy snacks to children. Also includes a great list of healthy snack ideas children will love.

by Caitlin Rogers

Finding the time and energy (and budget!) to feed our children healthy snacks can be exhausting. I'm not gonna lie, it's just a lot sometimes. Healthy food is my 'thing.' We all have a 'thing' as a mom that we don't want to ever budge on; sleep schedules, screen time, manners, healthy eating habits. Honestly, all of these are my 'thing' but healthy eating is by far the most important to me. Even still, I sometimes struggle. It can be expensive; it's more work; it takes longer; my kids are probably going to throw it on the ground. So, knowing that healthy eating is so important to me and I still struggle with it for my children, I can only imagine the struggle for the mom who is fairly in the middle when it comes to healthy snack ideas for children.

The Difficulties of Healthy Snacks

If healthy snacking is so important, then why do we struggle with it? My number one issue is the price. Popsicles? Cheap. Frozen fruit? Not so much. In my list below, I've done my best to include options for every price point.
Handing our children a cookie or filling their snack cup with animal crackers is much easier than cutting up fresh fruit or making homemade granola bars. Let's be real, as busy moms, convenience is key!

Why I Believe Healthy Snacks Are So Important

I want to say this in the most non-judgy way I possibly can, so I'm going to state this right up front! These are my personal opinions. I am not a health expert or nutritionist. I am just a mom (a very busy one at that!) who is frustrated by the food industry and trying to find ways to feed my children healthy foods. If healthy snacking isn't important to you, or you're in a season of survival mode, I'm not judging you! Promise. However, if you're looking for ideas or inspiration for healthy snacks, I want to give that to you.

Children have high metabolisms and can typically handle junk food that adults tend to stay away from. I often hear my friends saying "Oh, I'm on a diet, I need to stay away from my kid's snacks!" Why not have snacks that are healthy for everyone? If you don't have these temptations in your house, you won't eat them. More importantly, you are setting your children up for success in the future by training their taste buds to enjoy food that is fresh and not processed (*this is not backed by science. This is my own observation and opinion.)

My hope for my children is for them to have a healthy relationship with food. As they grow up, I want them to make healthy choices on their own. Don't get me wrong, we still eat cake on birthday's, go out for ice cream in the summer, and have the occasional donut for breakfast. Treats are so important, BUT I believe they should be just that... treats!

Healthy Snack Ideas

Affiliate links below
    How to overcome the challenges that come with feeding healthy snacks to children. Also includes a great list of healthy snack ideas children will love.
  • Fruit Kabobs: use fresh fruit and string them on a kabob skewer (I like to use fresh fruit and then freeze it!). These are great frozen as a popsicle substitution and can be made festive with strawberries, blueberries, and banana for patriotic holidays.
  • Frozen Fruit: Frozen fruit can be expensive, but bananas aren't! My son loves frozen bananas witha dallop of peanut butter on it.
  • Banana Ice-Cream: This one is great for staying on budget! Just slice up ripe bananas and put them in the freezer. Once they are frozen, pop them in the blender and boom! Banana ice cream. For flavor variation, you can add whatever you want. I don't personally love banana flavored things, but I like this with strawberries added, or nut butter and cocoa powder. YUM.
  • Fruit Popsicles: there are tons of recipes out there for homemade popsicles. I, personally, have never really followed a recipe, but I'm fairly creative in that department. I just blend up whatever fruit I want to use, and add some yogurt or nondairy milk. Strawberries with yogurt and coconut milk is a huge hit! Add a bit of honey if you need some sweetener. You can also just freeze fruit juice. I remember my mom filling popsicle molds with orange juice when I was a child and thinking it was the best ever. Link to popsicle mold and mini popsicle mold.
  • Sliced Vegetables: Baby carrots, cucumber, peppers, tomatoes, etc. I give my children a vegetable with lunch When I was getting them accustomed to this, I sliced baby carrots super thin. This way, if they were tossed on the floor and wasted, it wasn't a huge loss. I also think that children are more likely to eat something they're unsure of if it's a smaller portion.
  • Vegetable Dip: I haven't had a good experience with dip for children under 3. They just use the vegetable as a utensil and only eat the dip. I suggest sticking with plain vegetables and using dip or dressing only if they won't eat them plain after several tries. However, I do sometimes give my 4-year old hummus. Tip: Check to make sure the hummus doesn't contain added sugar.
  • Celery Boats: Celery with peanut butter and raisins. Personally, I think this is a weird combo, but my kids go nuts for them!
  • Green smoothies: OK, this isn't so much of a snack as just a great way to get your kiddos to get more greens. Blend up about 1.5 cups unsweetened liquid (milk, water, juice), 1-2 cups of fresh or frozen fruit and a few handfuls of greens. I think spinach is the best green to use because you can't taste it at all when it's blended up.
A few tips regarding vegetables:
  • Self-serve: My kids feel like big kids if I have the bag of carrots out at the table while we eat lunch.
  • Experiment with different styles and sizes. My two-year-olds prefer their cucumber peeled. My 4-year-old prefers chunky baby carrots and the two-year-olds like them cut in half. You could also try serving them on toothpicks!
  • Eat them in front of your kids: I usually eat lunch while my children are napping. I realized that it's important for them to see me eating foods that aren't necessarily their favorite, so sometimes for lunch, I'll make a big plate of sliced vegetables (peppers, carrots, cucumber) and sit at the table with them and munch on them. My kids usually keep asking for more and I'll bring the plate to them and let them serve themselves.
  • Val has posted about using a vegetable tray and I think that's perfect. I will definitely utilize one when my kids are a bit older!
Dairy and Baked Goods, Protein, Etc.
  • Frozen Yogurt: I buy plain, unsweetened yogurt. As a 'treat' I will sweeten it with fruit or honey (sometimes even a spoonful of jelly) and then freeze it. It's harder than ice cream because it doesn't have softeners in it, but let it sit out for a few minutes and you're good to go.
  • Blender muffins: Check out my post here for our favorite blender muffins. They are absolutely delicious and have NO flour, oil, or sugar, AT ALL. They're basically magic. Did I mention they're super easy to make?
  • Trail Mix: Some nuts and raisins! Boom! Trail mix. Much more filling than store-bought granola bars, and without all the added sugar and preservatives.
  • Hard-boiled eggs: My children aren't a fan of hard-boiled eggs, but I know many other children that enjoy them. If your children do, make a big batch at the beginning of the week and you're good to go.

Healthy Snack Conclusion

We are all doing our best to raise our children the best we can. I truly want this post to be an encouragement to all moms! Don't walk away feeling guilty like "ohhhhh, I gave my kids goldfish for breakfast, I am an awful mom!" No. If you want to feed your children healthy snacks, it can be easier and more cost-effective than we realize.

If you're in a rut of giving your kids unhealthy snacks and want to change, take baby steps. Don't try to do it all at once! Choose 1-2 food items a week that you want to phase out and replace with a healthier choice. For example, phase out cookies and swap in blender muffins instead. Phase out jello and swap in some frozen yogurt with fun flavors.

It doesn't have to be all or nothing. Small steps become big victories.

Caitlin is a stay-at-home mom to Theo (4) and Josie and Margo (2). She blogs about twin life, mom life and strives to encourage a healthy lifestyle for her family and friends. Follow her blog at Twin Mom and More and you can also find her on FacebookInstagram, and Pinterest.

The Perfect Hugging Rule For Siblings

The Perfect Hugging Rule For Siblings. Rules to keep the peace among siblings with different hugging preferences.

The Perfect Hugging Rule For Siblings. Rules to keep the peace among siblings with different hugging preferences.

McKenna is a hugger. She loves to get in there with a big, full hug that takes your breath away. Bonus points if she can lift you off the ground and really squeeze all of that air out. Brayden is not a hugger. Even as a baby, he did not love to be cuddled or hugged. Bonus points if you hug is a brief side hug.

McKenna is an extrovert and loves to display her affection for others anytime, any place. If she hasn't seen you for a bit, and a bit can be a couple of hours, her affection will be shown to greater capacity. Brayden is an introvert who is private. He isn't a hugger in private and definitely not out in front of the world.

So you can probably imagine how well things were going between these two for a while.

To paint a picture, Brayden would come home from school upset because McKenna had seen him out at recess and literally tackled him from behind in order to give him a big hug. He never even saw her coming and in her enthusiasm, she literally took him down. I would tell her to not hug him at school, but she seemed almost unable to contain herself.

There are a lot of tricky paths to navigate in this situation.
  1. As people, I think we need to be willing to step outside of our comfort zones to express love to our loved ones in the ways they recognize. This is especially true as a parent, and I fully see one of my jobs as a mother to be to raise my children to be able to be great parents some day. With that thought, I think Brayden should learn to hug those close to him. As a dad, his children will want hugs. Ha!
  2. On the flip side, we need to be able to recognize the ways others show love to us and learn to appreciate and express those emotions. We can't force our wants and even needs upon other people. With that in mind, I think McKenna should respect Brayden's non-hugging style and learn to appreciate the ways he does show love.
  3. I don't want to force my children to give physical affection if they don't want to. This is an overarching concept. I don't want them to ever think they must be physical with any other human in any way. 
  4. Along that same line of thinking, I also want my children to learn to respect that no means no. That is as a giver and a receiver of affection. If someone doesn't want the physical affection you are trying to give, you stop. If you don't want the physical affection someone is trying to put on you, you have the right to demand they stop. 
With all of that said, I do think it is important for Brayden to learn to be willing to show affection through a simple hug. He will one day be a father and a husband, and he needs to be comfortable enough to show his immediate family members love through hugs. Plus, research has shown hugging to be good for your health, so it can't hurt to add a couple of hugs in his day!

McKenna also needs to practice self-control and back off of hugging others when they don't want it. She also needs to learn the boundaries on appropriate times and places for her monster hugs.

Our Family Hugging Rule

This set of rules really only had to be applied to our two extreme children to help their relationship out. 
  1. No hugging at school or public unless the other person likes to hug at school. At school and in public, individual preferences must be respected. Brinley will happily hug at school. Kaitlyn will at times. Brayden never wants to. McKenna is always down. Per our rule, you respect the other person's wishes for hugging out in public.  
  2. At home each day, you must give your sister a ten second hug. This feels like an eternity to Brayden and a blip to McKenna. Brinley also likes to get her ten second hug from Brayden each day. They are limited to one hug a day. The girls can't take more than one and Brayden must give one.
  3. The ten seconds must be counted in real-time. No double-time counting (ahem, Brayden) and no half-time counting (ahem, McKenna). 
  4. You need to have a a good attitude about the hug. No shoving your sister off of you once ten seconds is up. Make it a nice hug and don't be grumpy about it. A bad attitude can result in you giving a twenty second hug if mom or dad decides your attitude needs improvement.
  5. You need to give a respectful hug and not squeeze the life out of your sibling. Just a nice, normal hug is all that is needed (and allowed). 
  6. Do not try to take a longer hug than is your allotment. If you start to consistently do this, you can lose your hug for a few days. 
We have had this set of rules for over a year now and it has worked really well. There is a balance we strike in families. We give and take. We sometimes do things we don't love to do. We sometimes do less of what we do love to do. We learn to find a compromise when we don't see eye to eye. These are all great skills to learn in the safety of a family unit where we have unconditional love and parental supervision and guidance.

Related Posts on Siblings:

  • Why I Don't Let My Children Fight
  • Fair vs. Equal
  • Helping Siblings Like Each Other
  • Helping Siblings Like Each Other II

  • The Perfect Hugging Rule For Siblings. Rules to keep the peace among siblings with different hugging preferences.

    The Steps to Expect in the Process of Domestic Adoption

    The Steps to Expect in the Process of Domestic Adoption. How to know if adoption is right for you and everything to expect.
    The Steps to Expect in the Process of Domestic Adoption. How to know if adoption is right for you and everything to expect.

    Many people don't fully understand just how much is involved in the domestic adoption process. Often times when we hear "adoption" we think "long wait" and that's very true. The path to a baby joining the family of a hopeful adoptive parents is long. There are several steps involved along this path and each one has it's own hurdles, hardships and waits.  

    When we first started our adoption process we had no clue just how many steps it would include. I'm hoping by sharing what to expect in the adoption journey that hopeful adoptive parents will have a clear understanding of what lies ahead and that their friends and family will have knowledge of the process so they can offer support through each stage!

    Decide to Adopt

    Adoption is not a decision to be taken lightly. Typically one spouse feels that calling on their heart before the other spouse does. God put that desire within me before He did for my husband. I highly recommend waiting and praying rather than trying to persuade your spouse to jump on board. I'm so thankful I was patient and allowed my husband the time to pray and see where his heart was leading him. During the tougher phases of our journey, I knew he was just as "all in" as I was which was a huge peace of mind! 

    When making the decision to adopt it's also important to consider all the factors involved. Your current family situation (bio kids? extended family?), living situation (are you settled in your home? career?), large events in the future (a big wedding coming up? long distance travel plans?). It's also important to consider what path you want to take in adoption. This post covers the domestic adoption of a newborn because that's the path we chose but there are many different options when it comes to adoption and it's wise to consider each one and figure out that best fit for you family. 

    Figure out Finances

    Adoption is expensive. Like crazy expensive. 

    Go through your finances. Do you have funds you can access? Savings? Loan options? 

    There are many adoption loans as well as grants available that are worth considering (keeping in mind that many require home study approval first, some even requiring a match being made with an expectant mother, and even others that you can't qualify until the adoption is final!)

    Be sure to check with your CPA regarding the tax adoption credit requirements too as this is a large credit that can really help offset the adoption costs. 

    Also consider fundraising options. We did a t-shirt campaign, yard sale, and a puzzle fundraiser. All were successful and family and friends enjoyed the opportunity to help us!

    Consider a Consultant or Agency

    I was SO confused as to what to do first once we decided to adopt. Some people will say to go ahead and start the home study process, which is fine. But as someone who was CLUELESS about adoption I wanted to find someone who knew what to do and could help me throughout the entire process. 

    We decided to go with a consultant (we used Christian Adoption Consultants) as I liked that our consultant had a ton of knowledge about adoption and the process, that she'd design our profile book for us, and that using a consultant would allow us to be in contact with multiple agencies and lawyers rather than just one. 

    Many families decide to work with an agency but I have heard that it typically takes much longer to be matched and that there are often rules regarding being "stuck" with that agency. The consultant path was the best fit for us but be sure to explore all options. 

    This is a good time to reach out to anyone else you know who has adopted before, ask questions! Join Facebook Groups! Do research to learn about what to expect in the months/years to come!

    Announce Plans to Adopt

    There is no "best time" to announce your decision to adopt. We decided to announce our plans after we signed on to work with our consultant and as we were beginning the home study process.

    We knew we'd need help with childcare for our bio children while completing the home study and we knew we wanted as many prayers and as much support as possible throughout the entire adoption experience so we decided to announce pretty early on. We also have three bio children whom we wanted to be fully part of each stage and wanted them to be able to share in our experiences right from the start!

    I've heard of many couples who wait until they are matched to announce. Or even those who wait until a baby is in their arms to make it public. It's a personal choice and one that is truly up to the hopeful adoptive parents to decide!

    Complete Home Study

    Each state varies on their requirements for home study completion but most likely you'll work with a social worker in your state to complete this step. The home study process can be a huge source of frustration. There are a TON of things to do, appointments to make, paper work to fill out, and hoops to jump through. 

    It's frustrating to have to "prove your worth" and can feel redundant. Take it slow. Work through it all at your own pace and don't let it stress you out. 

    Also do not overly fret over the home study visits. For our home study we were required to have an in home visit from the social worker. She was there to make sure our home was safe and that we'd be offering a healthy environment for a new baby. I cleaned my house from top to bottom and it was really unnecessary. It's not a show to impress, it's just a simple visit to make sure things are safe and that's it! I did so much work and the whole thing was done in 30 min and she really only went in each room to check for a smoke detector ha!

    Submit Profile to Expectant Mothers 

    While working on the home study it's also good to be putting together your profile book. Different agencies do things differently but in working with our consultant we gave her photos and information and she created a beautiful book to be able to submit to agencies and law offices when presenting to expectant mothers. 

    Once you are home study approved then you move to the next stage of waiting and that is the wait to be matched! 

    This is one of the hardest waits in the entire process. Adoption is a journey of waits but remember the faith is in the wait :) 

    Again this stage can vary but for us we received emails of expectant mothers who our consultant thought would be a good fit for us. My husband and I reviewed the information together and decided if we wanted to submit our profile. If we did then we'd write a personal letter to that mother and send our profile book to the lawyer or agency she was working with. 

    The expectant mother would then review all the profile books she'd receive and would select the best fit for her and move forward from there! 

    This stage is a double wait stage. You spend time waiting for potential birth mothers to view and then spend time waiting to hear their decision. This is the most emotional rollercoaster phase of the process as it's hard not to get super excited and hopeful each time you present and is heartbreaking when the expectant mother chooses another family! 

    Update Home Study

    A home study is only valid for 1 year so when you reach month 10ish it's wise to go ahead and re-do anything necessary in order to update your home study. 

    I'll keep it real: this was hard for me emotionally. We were on the verge of being a year out from our home study being approved and had to start doing everything again and it felt pointless when we were yet to be matched! 

    Become Matched

    I truly believe that the PERFECT match WILL happen for each hopeful adoptive family. We submitted to 7 birth moms. We received 7 nos. But that 8th? She was our YES and it couldn't have been the more perfect fit. So many stars had to align just right and I wouldn't change a single thing about our journey because it led us to Mama E and our baby boy!

    In our situation Mama E chose our book and then we had a phone call where we spoke to her and got to know each other a little better and then both told her lawyer that it was a "yes" for each of us. When we were officially matched is when we had to pretty quickly send ALL the funds. It's so wise to have the money ready and waiting because when you need it, you need it QUICK!

    Meet Birth Mother / Form Bond / Dr Visits

    Every situation is different and unique.

    When starting the process we hoped we would have a semi-opened adoption relationship where we'd send photos but not really get to know the expectant mother personally or have a long term bond with her after placement. 

    It was interesting because Mama E felt the same way. She too didn't want any sort of relationship with the adoptive family. 

    But then we got to know each other. During her pregnancy I'd call and we'd text and stay in contact. She ended up asking for me to come to her dr visits with her. She lives 2 hours from me so I'd go to every visit I could and we'd have lunch together and a bond naturally formed between us. 

    I firmly believe this relationship benefits ALL parties involved. My husband and I had a peace of mind in knowing Mama E and felt more confident in her decision to place her son with us. Mama E knew us and felt more confident in her decision to have us raise her baby. And the baby benefited too, I believe our bond helped Mama E to get the best possible care for her child throughout her pregnancy. 

    Birth of Baby

    One thing that is pretty consistent among all adoptive newborn situations is to never trust the due date. We were originally told mid-November and then the due date was changed to mid-December and our baby was actually born on December 1st! The wait for that phone call that "it's time" is very exciting and nervewracking. 

    Depending on your specific situation you may or may not have the option to be present at the birth of the baby. We were able to actually be in the delivery room with Mama E (you can read my version of our son's birth story here...and my husband's perspective here). 

    Be prepared that this will be a very tender time for everyone involved. It was beautiful and amazing to be there to see our son come into the world, but it was also heartbreaking to see Mama E go through that pain while knowing she wouldn't be raising this sweet boy. 

    Wait for TPR to be Signed

    Another one of the most difficult waits in the entire adoption experience is the waiting for the parental rights to be terminated. Again, this varies from state to state. In the state where our baby was born his birth mother had to wait until she was able to be discharged or 48 hours...whichever came first before she could sign. 

    Some states require the biological mother to have a certain amount of time with the baby, some allow adoptive parents there from birth. In our situation our baby was able to room-in with us at the hospital. We kept continuous contact with his biological mother as she was just down the hall from us. 

    This was such a tough time for me. I was holding this precious baby in my arms. That I'd prayed for. Waited for. Wanted so badly. Yet I was so scared to allow my heart to fall completely in love with him as I knew everything could change in a second. 

    Once those rights were signed it was the biggest sigh of relief in the world!!! You can read about our time period of waiting for rights to be signed here, and when it was finished here

    Post Placement Visits

    Depending on your state, after the parental rights are signed it's all pretty much complete and over and is just waiting on final paperwork to make it official. I know some states have a grace period to allow the birth parents to change their mind after signing, but where our son was born that wasn't an option. 

    While waiting for finalization there are a couple of post placement visits with the social worker as part of the requirement to legally complete the adoption. Again, don't overly stress about these visits. The social worker is simply looking to see that the baby is adjusting well, the family is adjusting well, and that it's all a good fit.
    The Steps to Expect in the Process of Domestic Adoption. How to know if adoption is right for you and everything to expect.


    Even though our son was already ours, finalization day was still so magical and exciting. It's the day that everything becomes official. All the waits and the adoption journey comes to an end! 

    Again, it varies by state but ours was able to be over the phone with a judge who asked us very simple questions (all requiring just a yes or no answer) and then she granted us as our sons official parents forever and ever! 

    Every moment of waiting. Every struggle. Every obstacle. Every single thing was worth it and all had to happen the exact way it did in order for our son to be OURS and I wouldn't change a thing!

    I hope this post helps hopeful adoptive parents to have a clear understanding of the timeline of adoption and what to expect at each step in the process. I blogged pretty much every detail of our entire adoption journey and you can find all of that information here :) 

    Emily is a mother of four who blogs over at The Journey of Parenthood. You can also follow along with her family adventures through Instagram