6 Tips to Managing the Morning Chaos

If you are anything like me, mornings can be hectic. I always find myself stressed and out of time. There is so much to do from making and eating breakfast to packing lunches to tying shoes and making sure we at least try to go potty before we get in the car for the 30-minute drive to school and work!

Here are a few tried and true tips to help you get through those busy, chaotic mornings.

  1. Get yourself ready first: Wake up before your child and get yourself fully ready first. This way you are not juggling getting you all dressed, groomed, and ready. You can focus on yourself first and then on your child.
  2. Have meals ready to go: Pack lunches the night before and plan and prep breakfasts for the whole week on Sunday. Try to make breakfasts simple, easy, and nutritional; healthy items that can be microwaved or made quickly.
  3. Pack all bags ahead of time: Make sure your work bag, their school bag, or any other special project or bag is laid out on the counter or by the door and ready to go the night before. This will cut down time in your morning routine and help ensure items aren’t forgotten.
  4. Lay out Clothes the night before: Make this part of the bedtime routine. Lay out the outfit that your child will wear the next day. Have them take part when possible to foster independence and create “buy-in”. This will also help you plan if there are upcoming spirit days!
  5. Give plenty of ‘count-down’ warnings: Be sure to countdown minutes before you leave and let your children know when you are getting close. Children typically respond well to these verbal cues and it helps them prepare for the upcoming transition.
  6. Use a morning routine checklist: Create a visual chart to help keep your child on task while getting ready in the morning. Visibly being able to see all they need to accomplish before you leave will help keep them on task and alleviate some of the stressors.

Here’s to hoping you can transition your mornings from chaotic to seamless and enjoyable.

6 Tips for Carseat Safety

January is Car Seat Safety Awareness Month. Car seats have evolved so much from when I was a child. My parents were at our house visiting when my son’s car seat arrived in the mail. My dad kept referring to it as his race car seat and joked about it having side airbags. It really is incredible the safety that they can provide, but it is important to always read your manual and check state guidelines to ensure that you are using your car seat properly.

Here are 6 tips for Carseat Safety:

Visit nhtsa.gov/cps/cpsfitting/index.cfm to stay up to date on safety regulations and to search for a nearby organization to check your car seat and its installation. Most police and fire stations offer this free service and will help you properly install your seat.

4 Tips for Teaching Children Patience

Teaching children patience can sometimes test your own patience. Patience is a struggle for me. I don’t like to wait for outcomes. If I buy someone a gift, I want to give it to them right away. I think now more than ever, as a society that doesn’t have to wait for much, patience is even more important.

The best way to teach patience is to model that for your children. Here are a few ways to work it into your everyday lives:

Do Activities that require patience: Bake cookies, boil water for making dinner, plant a small garden, or grow a small cup of grass in the window. Activities that require them to wait for the reward will help develop patience in your children.

Incorporate time into your daily routine: Give warnings when transitioning from one thing to another. Try this before bedtime, before leaving for the store, before you clean up the play-doh, etc.  You can also set timers for daily activities such as brushing teeth, washing hands, or general cleaning.

Sit through the commercials: During screen time, find a show that has commercials. There are so many streaming services these days that even a fun activity like watching a favorite show is teaching children instant gratification. If you can find a show with commercials, they will learn to be patient and wait for the good parts.

Work “patience” into your vocabulary: Remind your children daily to choose patience or practice patience. Use the word frequently and draw attention to it when you are modeling it. If you are in a long line at the grocery store, draw attention to how you will all wait together patiently until it is your turn. Working the word and the action into your every day will increase awareness.


Remember that they will not learn this overnight. It requires time, persistence, and patience! Best of luck!

Family Friendly New Years Resolutions

It’s hard to believe that it is 2020!!We are in a brand new decade! It’s always fun to reflect on the year past and plan for the year ahead. One way to do that is to set resolutions as a family. Take some time to reflect on your year, from there set some goals for the new year. They can be light hearted, or very intentional. Below are a few ideas for some 2020 Resolutions to set with your whole family.

Whatever you do resolve to do, find what makes you happy and have a very Happy New Year!

Tips For Writing Thank You Cards With Children

After the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, take some time with your child to reflect on everything for which you and he or she is thankful.  A thank you card is a wonderful way to have your child be involved in the thanking process whether they received toys, clothes, books, education grants, or experiences with the special people in their lives.

Appreciated by grandparents, aunts and uncles, and friends, a heart-felt written or hand-made thank you card from your child is sure to brighten their day. In turn child is reminded of the importance of being thankful for others’ generosity and everything that he or she has.

Below are some easy ideas for how to thank those who chose to give your child a gift this holiday season.


Managing Your Child’s Holiday Expectations

The holiday season can be a busy and difficult time.  Families may have a list that seems never ending or have budget restraints to consider when choosing presents to give to special people this year.  Retailers and stores start marketing earlier and earlier each year with ads targeted directly at children.  Even running into a store on a quick errand can become a nightmare as displays that grab your child’s attention are placed right at the door.  Come Christmas morning, a temper-tantrum or two can erupt once all of the presents have been opened and a specific choice or two are found to be missing amongst the packages, boxes, and bags under the tree.

Here are a few tips to help manage your child’s expectations this holiday season:

Here’s to hoping you can embrace the magic this holiday season!

December is National Safe Toys and Gifts Month

With the holiday season approaching, your thoughts may be turning to shopping for toys and gifts. You’ll want to get the children in your life their favorite toys, and there are thousands of toys to choose from in stores and online. Before you make those purchases, remember to consider the safety and age-range of the toys. To prevent injuries, choose toys that are safe for the age of the child. Look for labels to help you judge which toys might not be safe, especially for infants and children under the age of three. For children of all ages, consider if the toys are suited to their skills and abilities. Along with knowing what kinds of toys to choose, it’s important to know what kinds of toys to avoid in order to prevent possible injuries.

Even within the child’s age range, toys suitable for one child might not be suitable for another child. It’s good to keep in mind that young children, if they’re not being watched closely, may play with toys purchased for older children. Remember, toys with small parts should be kept away from children under three years of age. Everyone should be aware of what they can do to make sure the gifts they give children this year will not require a trip to the emergency room. For more information on toy hazard recalls, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s page: https://www.cpsc.gov/

How to Deal With a Biter

“Welcome to Parenthood.” An adage you will find yourself being told, and even telling other parents, when a particularly ‘exciting’ thing occurs on your parenting journey; sleepless nights, pouring orange juice on your child’s cereal instead of milk, unsuccessfully potty training, and getting the notes coming home that your child is biting. I received the first of my ‘biting’ letters just a couple weeks ago. I ran through a gambit of emotions; I rationalized “Oh it’s natural, he’s getting his molars, they have to hurt, I’m sure he didn’t mean anything by it!” I irrationalized, “He had to have been provoked. That’s so unlike him.” I cried, “What did we do as parents? I should have done better by him.” I denied, “It couldn’t have been that bad, he wouldn’t really hurt someone, even if it wasn’t on purpose.” I internalized, “I should have given him Tylenol, I knew he was a bit cranky, I should have read the symptoms.”

If your child does go through a biting phase, rest assured that you are not alone. It is a natural reaction in young children and can be a result of many different stressors or reasons. I am here to encourage and support you. As a parent who is going through it, I have a few suggestions that could possibly help your situation. Please remember that each child is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Keep an open mind and breathe through it!

  1. Don’t Bite Back- Try teaching your child positive behaviors. Be clear and be firm but keep in mind if you are asking them not to do something, but doing it to them, it will send mixed messages.
  2. Remain Calm- Children do most things for a reaction, any reaction. As much as it may hurt, be mindful of how you react. Stay centered and try to keep your cool. It may be difficult in a surprised or stressful situation, but it may eliminate further biting if they do not get the reaction that they are looking for.
  3. Supervise Closely- Watch your child when they are around others, or when you think that they may be teething, or stressed. Try to stay ahead of them, if possible, to redirect them from biting.
  4. Provide Something They Can Bite- Especially with infants, they are looking for something they can sink their sore gums into. Even toddlers or preschoolers can crave that sensation. There are a variety of teethers and teething necklaces for the older children that can help satiate that desire.
  5. Redirect- After a biting incident occurs, remove the child from the situation. Have a firm conversation with them that helps bring awareness to their actions, and then redirect them to a different activity that may be a bit more calm or quiet.
  6. Read Books About Biting- As you read, ask your child questions about the characters. Some recommended titles: “No Biting” by Karen Katz and “Teeth are not for Biting” by Elizabeth Verdick.

Lean on your support system and find solace in the fact that this too is a phase.

Holiday Traditions from Around the World

Family Holiday Traditions

According to Webster’s, a tradition is the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way. Traditions are so special and so unique to each family. There are traditions that many families do, and many traditions that only a few families do. My favorite of our family traditions is matching pajamas. When I was a little girl, probably around 5 or 6, my mom made matching night gowns for the two of us, and my teddy bear, Brownie. I can still see the royal blue paisley pattern and feel the weight between my fingers of the quilted fabric. Those jammies were my most prized possession, and years later got an honorary square on my t-shirt quilt. Every year since then, my mom and I have done matching pajamas for Christmas. Over the years we’ve added a couple sisters in law, kiddos, and my brothers to the tradition. It makes for silly pictures and a nice memory for the whole year whenever we pull the pajamas out of the drawer.

Here is a list and a little background of some favorite Holiday traditions from around the world:


  1. Find the Pickle: Origins of this tradition are thought to come from Germany but have also been said to come from the United States. Some families will hide a glass ornament pickle on the tree. The family member that finds the pickle on Christmas morning, receives an extra present.
  2. Three Kings Cake: There are many traditional foods and sweets associated with the Holiday season. “The Spanish have a tradition called Roscón de Reyescelebrated on January 6, during celebrations of Día de reyes (Kings’ Day), to commemorate the arrival of the 3 Wise Men. This Christmas cake is usually topped with crushed almonds, candied fruits, and powdered sugar, and sometimes stuffed with whipped or almond cream. There’s usually a baby Jesus figurine (or a dry fava bean to represent him) stuffed inside the cake, and the lucky person who finds it gets to buy the following year’s roscón.”
  3. Book Exchanges: This is sometimes seen in classroom parties but is also very common in Iceland where people will exchange books on Christmas Eve, then spend the evening reading and eating chocolate. The tradition is part of a season called Jolabokaflod, or “The Christmas Book Flood.”
  4. Gifts From the Wise Men’s Camel: In many cultures, gifts are given to children from different ‘people.’ In my family, we receive socks from Frosty every year. “Syrian children receive gifts from one of the wise men’s camels, purported to be the youngest and smallest in the caravan, who fell down exhausted at the end of the long journey to Bethlehem.”
  5. Advent Calendars: Advent calendars start on December 1st and are a countdown to Christmas day. They come in many different forms from a small set of drawers with small trinkets, to pictures with chocolate inside. The first known Advent Calendar can be traced back to 1851.
  6. Yule Goat: The Yule Goat is a Swedish tradition. The goat is made of straw and believed to help guard the Christmas Tree. Straw is a typical Christmas decoration in Scandinavian homes, as it represents Jesus being more on the manger.
  7. Christmas Lists for Santa: Writing wish lists for Santa is a common tradition in the United States. Children send them by mail, hand deliver them, give them to their elves, or have their parents send them to the North Pole. In Germany, it is traditional for children to decorate their Christmas lists with pictures and then leave them on the windowsill overnight.
  8. Trimming the Tree: Christmas Trees are decorated differently from home to home, some with tinsel and garland, some with popcorn strings. In Finland, families decorate the holiday tree with geometric mobiles made from straw.
  9. Parades: Parades are a tradition in many cultures with floats, music, and small prizes or candy given to children. In Jamaica an extravagant parade takes place called Jonkanoo also takes place after the traditional “Grand Market” celebration which is a festival and market that is filled with shopping, eating, and lots of dancing.

The beautiful and wonderful thing about traditions, is that they are unique to each family. They are ever changing and evolving and are for everyone. Here’s to wishing you all a wonderful holiday season and amazing memories from your family traditions, new old and ever changing!



Resources: https://greenglobaltravel.com/christmas-traditions-around-the-world/


Manners Matter

Before finding my niche in child care, I was a server in a restaurant for many years. I also worked in customer service for a call center. From my years of experience I could write volumes of books with stories and anecdotes that will convince you how important manners truly are. They are the cornerstone of many positive character traits. At AppleTree & Gilden Woods, we believe that teaching children manners will help establish a foundation for them to create healthy and positive relationships and interactions throughout their lives.

Encouraging the use of please and thank you can be done a variety of creative ways. Repetition is of course important, but bringing manners to life is also important when you are trying to teach your children exactly what manners are and how they will benefit their every day life.

Below is an activity that we do here at AppleTree & Gilden Woods as part of our CORE Values Character Education Program. It can easily be adapted for you to do at home with your children.

Thank you for reading

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