Monthly Archives: April 2019

screen free

Have you ever heard yourself lamenting about too much screen time in your family – even as it continues to hold you and your children captive?

Well – this might help.  Today starts the beginning of 2019  National Screen-Free Week, April 29th – May 5th.  What an opportunity to take a break and capture some real interaction and connection in your family life.

I know – you might be imaging whining and complaining and nagging and tantrums – but think of what can replace this computer time and you might be quite surprised.

You might be surprised because actually research has shown that our kids really do like it, even crave it, when parents actually spend personal time with them.

And this is a perfect time of year, with daylight lingering longer –  good for getting out in the yard, raking and preparing garden beds – everyone pitching in. If the bikes are still in the garage since Fall, perfect time to get them out and clean them up for an after dinner ride.

Walks in the neighborhood or down along the river (rain or shine), look for treasures (an interesting stone, a stick, a puddle to play in), count the robins that you see, stop for a root beer float or ice cream cone, go to the garden center and choose some plants for the garden, play Tag (get your heart rate up while having a lot of fun).


Take a trip to the Library after dinner and each choose a book to read for the week.  Have board game night (if you already do – Kudos!) Get every member to hand write a letter to someone (put a smile on that person’s face), make a campfire and roast some marshmallows, explore a new playground, color together, play a game of pantomime and laugh hysterically.

You get the drift – keeping things simple- keeping things shared.

I know – but what about homework – our children need to use their screens –   but cutting out the extra personal online time will still make a difference.

(Wow – though, wouldn’t it be great if the schools would join in on screen-free week and do some learning the old-fashioned way?)

Don’t be too quick to dismiss this – take a chance, trust yourselves, trust your children, accept the challenge.

Make it simple, make it fun, make a difference in your family life.


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Walking on egg shells

From my favorite spot to sit in my house, there is a window that faces my neighbor’s side door entrance – the main door that they use for coming and going.

And I notice whenever my neighbor comes out on her steps, even to just check the temperature, pick up the newspaper, look down the street, she reaches for her handy broom, always kept within reach – and sweeps the landing and the steps.

This fascinates me – because it happens  so frequently – summer, winter, spring or fall.

No seed, leaf, grass, dirt, or flake of snow has any hope of hanging out on her cement steps.

And, as usual, my mind turns to parenting, and families, and young children.

It makes me consider how often small things happen throughout our days for our children, for ourselves – how they gather on our personal “steps”, yet, aren’t tended to –  things like not enough sleep, a missed breakfast, an itchy shirt, a rushed morning, a cross word – and Bingo! – a melt-down.

When emotions pile up in our family lives, we are often faced with handling our child’s temper tantrums and, perhaps, controlling our own. So often, because of time factors , fatigue, and fear of setting off a tantrum, we  find ourselves walking on “egg shells” to avoid one.

And the more emotions pile up – or go unnoticed – the better chance a storm is brewing.

If you find this sort of thing happening in your family, register now for the temper tantrum discussion group “Walking on Egg Shells, Thursday, May 9th, 9:30 AM – !!:00 AM at The Parenting Place in La Crosse.  Registration is required; free childcare available upon request.  Call us at 784-8125 or email




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There’s a new public promotional ad I’ve seen recently on TV with a young Dad doing push-ups with his baby face to face.

And the baby and Dad are connecting – beautifully – and the message is … “Do not disturb is on.  Be in the moment.”

And I love that message so much.

But because families are so busy and often distracted, parents can feel they just don’t have the time to make those connections. But when you discover – it only takes a moment or two – a moment of playfulness, of genuine interaction, of spontaneous affection, appreciation, warmth, laughter, acknowledgment – you realize it’s doable, you know it can happen.

Looking at my window right now, I just noticed a neighbor dad and his young son riding their bikes down the street – just the two of them – for fun.  Score!

And parents, overly critical of themselves, might realize, “Hey, I do that all the time, but I didn’t think it counted.”

That’s because we are often made to feel it’s the whole day out at an amusement park, or a week’s vacation , or some special event that makes our child feel special, feel loved.

Those are definitely fun times, but the ones that resonate and make our connections strong are the intimate exchanges that happen everyday that fill our child’s “bucket” and assures them they are loved, they are noticed, they are enjoyed, they are cherished.

So…really … trust your moments – they can mean the most.


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a recognition

I just finished browsing  through a children’s book – The Bunny Who Found Easter by Charlotte Zolotow – his search for Easter beginning, logically, East.

In the end, however, after a very long trek, he found, within his family and the bounty of Spring, what he was looking for, and realized that “Easter was not a place after all, but a time when everything lovely begins once again.

It seems to me April is that kind of month.

Besides the high expectations we have for grass turning green, buds opening, robins nesting, and warmth from the sun, as parents and families we are reminded and moved to acknowledge and care for many in our Community.

Think about it – in April we recognize Child Abuse Prevention Month (notice the blue ribbons in town and the whirling pinwheels at Riverside Park), Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Earth Day, National Volunteer Week, Donate Life Month, Autism Awareness Month, Month of the Military Child, World Health Day, and I bet some others that I, apologetically, may have missed.

And then in Thursday’s La Crosse Tribune’s Hometown Section, there was an article about Character Challenges for our community.  That week’s challenge was simply “Hold the Door Open”.

And simply put, that’s a start – holding the door open – and keeping our hearts open to all those who suffer, need protection, need a friend, need support, recognition, thanks, honor and respect – finding that place where “everything lovely begins once again.”

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“an ode to parents”

Today is April Fool’s Day – but this is no April Fool’s joke.  (even though – hmm – playing one on you would have definitely been fun!)

Instead I noticed a challenge on line to parents to read a poem a week to your child during the month of April – for April happens to be National Poetry Month.

They suggest reading the same poem each day for one week; a different poem chosen for each week of April.

I love that idea.

For me poetry was a part of my life as a child that I treasured.  I had several children’s illustrated anthologies of poems that I read though over and over again.  And to this day, they resonate – “My Shadow”, “I must go down to the sea again”, ” I think that I shall never see – a poem as lovely as a tree”,”Who has seen the wind?” , “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night”.

It was the rhythm and the flow that enchanted me – and became warmly familiar and comforting.

Repetition of a poem shares its impact most.  So during dinner, before bed, take this week’s poem choice out and read it aloud.  By the end of the week,  it will be a friend, it will make a connection between you.

You can find children’s poems easily on line –  or better yet, choose a poem you remember.

And see what happens – in 30 days, it might just turn into the biggest April Fool’s trick yet- for who knew – sharing poems could be so special.

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