Making Homework S.I.M.P.L.E.

 

Homework may be a fact of life, but it doesn’t have to be an endless source of tears and frustration.

You can prevent homework battles and set your child up for a lifetime of success by taking simple steps to develop great habits from the beginning.

 

Here’s How to Make Homework S.I.M.P.L.E.

SUPPORT YOUR CHILD WITH THE BASICS

  1. After school, offer a healthy (low sugar, protein/carb combo) snack for refueling. Cheese sticks and whole wheat crackers, a banana with peanut butter, smoothies, and sandwich meat rolled in a tortilla are some of our favorites. 
  2. Allow 20-30 minutes of individualized “unwind time” before hitting the books. This can look different for each child. While Julie may escape to a quiet spot alone, Jake may race off to climb trees and shout at neighbors. When in doubt, look to their behavior to tell you what they need.
  3. Create a study environment that matches personal learning styles. Some kinesthetic (hands on) learners need a snack while they are working, some think better while chewing gum. Some kids work better alone in a quiet room, while others prefer listening to music in the busy kitchen. Play Goldilocks with different options until you get the right fit.

IDENTIFY THE WORK TO BE TACKLED

  • Ask your child to read and explain each assignment to you.
  • Are the directions clear?
  • Did the necessary books and papers make it home?
  • Does your child need help writing down and organizing assignments?

If there are too many missing pieces, a teacher conference may be just the remedy.

MOTIVATE WITH A NATURAL REWARD

Inspired by Love and Logic, here’s my go-to, empowering statement: “Feel free to (insert favorite after-school activity here) as soon as your homework is finished.” If an argument ensues, “I’ll be happy to discuss that after you do your homework,” can be helpful too.

PRIORITIZE

Teach your child to prioritize multiple tasks by asking leading questions.

Would you like to tackle the hardest subject first or warm up with an easier one?”

This book report is too complicated to complete in one night. How can you break it down into smaller pieces?” Create a calendar with due dates and milestones and post in a prominent location (like the bathroom mirror) as a visual reminder.

LOVE YOUR CHILD ALWAYS, BUT REJECT INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR

If study frustrations lead to a flaring temper, show empathy while setting clear boundaries.

I can see how frustrated you are about that tough math problem. I’ll be glad to help you as soon as you lower your voice and sit back down.”

Invite them to walk around or sip on a glass of water to reset their mental state. One thing is guaranteed: little to no homework will get done until the brain willingly re-engages in the process. 

ENCOURAGE

Be genuine and praise specific behaviors. “Good Job!” is not nearly as encouraging as, “I noticed you kept trying even when that problem seemed impossible earlier. I’m proud of you for sticking with it and finishing the assignment!”

An ounce of prevention …

Taking time now to establish good habits and a positive attitude will pay off in buckets down the road. Just keep it SIMPLE.

Question: Do you have a favorite homework strategy? We’d love to hear about it! You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Guaranteed to Lower Stress- Make a Packing List!

In the days leading up to a race, nervous anticipation tries to push me off course. My boys usually notice before I do, and let me know in no uncertain terms, “Mom, you’re freaking out. Just chill.” Despite the crude delivery of their well-intended message, their words prompt me to take action. This is where I grab my Triathlon Packing List and start packing.

The “Night-Before Race Day” Preparation

Unlike my teens’ snarky remarks, a packing list is a real source of comfort while prepping for a race. Not only does it reduce the stress of remembering all the essentials, it also helps me practice setting up my transition area before I even get to the event. Here’s what I do the day before the race.

  1. I take all the items I’ve collected from my Triathlon Packing List and dump them on the floor.
  1. I lay a towel on the floor with the short end facing me (so that it will fit in the narrow space under my racked bike).
  1.  I visualize Transition 1 (T1), which involves running out of the water and getting ready to ride my bike.
  1. I strategically place my T1 gear on the towel to maximize efficiency.
  1. I repeat the process for T2, when I will return the bike to the rack and prepare for the run.
  1. While looking at the gear, I make a mental run through of how I’ll approach and execute T1 and T2.
  1. I carefully pack all the essentials into a big bag, lay out the clothes I will wear in the morning, and pre-set my coffee pot for a wee-early wake up.
  1. I sleep soundly, knowing my packing is complete, and I’m truly ready to go.

** A huge THANK YOU to my ultra organized, dear friend Jennifer Hall, who shared her race day packing list with me in 2003, when we did our first triathlon together. I’ve adapted the list slightly over the years and have shared it with lots of first time competitors. I hope it will be helpful to you, too!

Diaper Bag Packing List

Since the discovery of that triathlon packing list, I have found comfort in making lists for camping trips, picnics, and back-to-school routines. When my boys were much younger, I also kept a packing list for keeping my diaper bag stocked for any occasion.  Please click here for a printable version of my Diaper Bag Essentials Packing List.

  •         Diapers and wipes
  •         A change of clothes (and socks) for baby
  •         A t-shirt for me (that came in handy more than once!)
  •         A pacifier
  •         A cloth or chunky picture book
  •         A light, sensory or developmental toy (like Eric Carle’s Developmental Caterpillar, Lamaze toys or Discovery Toys)
  •         Premeasured dry formula and a clean bottle pre filled with fresh water
  •         A cloth diaper (wonderfully absorbent for all kinds of messes)
  •         A protein bar and water bottle for me
  •         A small plastic bowl of Cheerios
  •         A small notebook and pen (to jot down brief reminders, give my phone number to a new friend, or doodle)
  •         Baby Tylenol
  •         Mommy Tylenol
  •         Baby nail clippers
  •         A few dollars in change and small bills- mad money for emergencies.
  •         *My purse, with wallet and cell phone, fit snuggly in a side pouch in the diaper bag.

When my brain was too tired to think, I was delighted to have a list that would do the thinking for me. And when I left the house armed with a well-stocked diaper bag, I felt like Wonder Woman ready to take on the world at a moment’s notice.

I challenge you, right here, right now, either print out one of these packing lists or create one of your own. It only takes a few minutes to prepare, but it can save you hours of fret!

Question: What Diaper Bag essentials can you add to the list? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Diaper Bag Essentials Packing List

My Diaper Bag Packing List 

  •         Diapers and wipes
  •         A change of clothes (and socks) for Baby
  •         A t-shirt for Mom (that may come in handy more than once!)
  •         A pacifier
  •         A cloth book or chunky picture book
  •         A light, sensory or developmental toy (like Eric Carle’s Developmental Caterpillar, Lamaze toys or Discovery Toys)
  •         Pre-measured dry formula and a clean bottle pre filled with fresh water
  •         A cloth diaper (wonderfully absorbent for all kinds of messes)
  •         A protein bar and water bottle for Mom
  •         A small plastic bowl of Cheerios
  •         A small notebook and pen (to jot down brief reminders, give my phone number to a new friend, or doodle)
  •         Baby Tylenol
  •         Mommy Tylenol
  •         Baby nail clippers
  •         A few dollars in change and small bills – mad money for emergencies
  •         *Mom’s purse, with wallet, iPad and cell phone, to fit in a side pouch in the diaper bag.

Question: Is there something I’ve forgotten that’s an “essential” in your diaper bag? Please share! You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Triathlon Packing List

Race Prep and Packing List 

  1. The day before a race, place a towel on your bedroom or living room floor and set up a mock Transition Area with the items listed below.
  2. Separate the items you’ll be packing from the *items you’ll be wearing/bringing.
  3. Check off the items as you pack them.

LEAVE OUT OF BAG: 

o   *Pre-race bar or sandwich/breakfast (this will depend upon what and when you choose to eat before the race)

o   *Tri suit or swim suit (with whatever else you want to wear to run/bike in)

o   *Sunglasses

o   *Water bottles (one for bike, one for transition to squirt on dirty feet while putting on shoes)

o   *Cell phone

o   *Flip flops (If there is a rocky walk to the start of the swim area, consider wearing disposable flops to leave at the water’s edge before the race)

o   *Map and directions to the race and of the race/race registration papers

o   *i Pod loaded with race tunes (If the race allows you to use one. Some plug in one ear bud so they can hear instructions/warning/other racers with the free ear)

o   *Watch/heart rate monitor

PACK IN BAG:

o   Swim cap

o   Goggles

o   Bike helmet

o   Bike shoes (if you have clips on your bike pedals, otherwise, you won’t need these extra shoes)

o   Running shoes

o   Socks 

o   Towel (spread out in transition area for drying feet during shoe changes)

o   Long, bright, cloth ribbon (to tie on the bike rack near your stuff)

o   Masking tape (see next item)

o   Protein bar/Gu/Shot blocks (to tape to bike for bike leg)

o   Hat to run in

o   Sunscreen (apply before the race)

o   T-shirt (to wear after the race)

o   Long sleeve shirt (to bike in if chilly day)

o   Toilet paper or a few tissues (just in case the porta potties are out)

o   Race/bib number 

o   Race belt (or safety pins) (for the bib number)

o   Permanent black marker (to avoid long lines at body marking station)

o   Excedrin or Motrin (in case of post race aches and pains)

o   Tampons (if needed)

o   Deodorant

o   Body wipes (for post race)

ON or WITH THE BIKE

  • Bike
  • Small Bike Saddle that fits under the seat and contains:
    • Replacement bike tube  (in case you get a flat)
    • CO2 Pump and Cartridge (to air up the new tube)
    • Tire tool to change a flat (a bike store can set you up with all the essentials of a flat tire kit)
  • Bike pump
  • Plastic bag to cover seat (if it’s raining, I cover the bike seat for the drive on the back of my car to and from the race)

Have A Great Race!!!