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Be The Bra: The Tools You Need to Lift Up & Support Your Girls.

The Perfect Staycation Plan for Families: Playful & Productive

(4.5 minute read) Home for the vacation?  Well, you’re in luck. I spent time putting together the perfect staycation plan for families because I believe the staycation is highly underrated. They are relaxing, enjoyable, and budget-friendly. I mean, actual vacations aren’t always realistic. Whether it’s time, money, work obligations, or something else that keeps us from a vacation spent basking in the sun, making our own home a vacation hotspot is a great alternative. In fact, with the right mindset and little bit of creativity, your own home can offer unique adventures and boatloads of fun! Despite this belief, sadly though, I must admit that with the rise of social media, I have allowed it to taint my mentality. When I’m home looking at pictures, posts, and stories of gorgeous vacations that every person in my town is enjoying (or so it seems), it’s a lot harder to relish – and appreciate – my staycation. As much as I hate to admit it, it does make me a bit jealous. Avoiding social media helps; but I still hear about others’ fantastic adventures. To make matters worse, my kids see and hear all of these same (if not, more) vacation highlights. I cannot help but feel guilty that I am not providing them with these same experiences. In order to shift back to the right mindset, I have to remind myself that it’s not about what other people are doing, or where they are going. There are always going to be ways for others to superficially top what my husband and I can and choose to do. However, what others do doesn’t...

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Have Holiday Gifts For Our Children Gotten Out of Control?

(2.5 min read) When I was a child, celebrating Hanukkah was filled with love and joy. I learned about its history, and on each of the eight nights we spent time talking about the destruction of the temple and the miracle of lights. As part of our celebration, we also sang melodic songs, ate delicious fried foods (to symbolize the oil that burned for longer than expected), and let the lights on our menorah shine bright. The festivities continued with gift giving. One gift for each of the eight nights. What’s not to love about that? Especially as a kid. Regardless of how much I enjoyed Hanukkah, and how special my family made it, it didn’t seem like enough in comparison to Christmas. When shopping for our holiday, a jolly ole Santa was there smiling and holding a sack of gifts while Christmas tunes filled the air.  Television programs showed families gathering around a beautiful tree opening up the neatly wrapped gifts that sat underneath.  As a child, I couldn’t help but wish that our holiday could be more similar to Christmas. Hanukkah didn’t seem like enough. As a parent, I didn’t want my children to feel this same sense of religious separation. The good news is that it hasn’t been an issue.  The bad news…there seems to be an even greater separation happening: a complete disconnect regarding what the holiday is truly about versus what children seem to think it’s about…presents. This seems to hold true for Christmas as well. Unfortunately, this theme of “not enough” tends to be a common one for many middle-class children. It appears...

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Help Your Children Use Technology in a Way That Reflects Your Values With These Usage Guidelines & Information

It’s hard to think about life before technology. When I was growing up, phones were connected to walls. Computers were few-and-far between. And music was played on cassettes. Now technology is an essential part of our world – an invaluable resource and tool for our children, and for us. We use it for communication and socializing, as well as for work and education. Given this (plus the fact that technology is constantly changing), it is difficult for us as parents to determine how it’s usage aligns with our values and our lives in a productive, enjoyable, and healthy manner. For years now, I’ve been engaging in regular conversations with other parents about the challenges technology presents for our children. We ask each other lots of difficult questions with hopes to find the “right” answer. When is the right time to give my child a phone? What type of phone should they have? Should they have free reign on the internet? Should they be allowed on social media? How much time should they should spend on their device? Do I need to oversee everything they are doing? When tasked with figuring out the answers for our family, I must admit that it seemed easier to just let my daughters do whatever they want and let them learn from their mistakes. But I could not in good conscience choose that path. Technology usage, and all that comes along with it is a big deal (especially for girls).  In most cases, problems do not arise through the USE of technology, but rather through OVERuse and/or MISuse of it. As a parent, I...

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9 Everyday Situations & How to Respond In Ways that Teach Your Child Valuable Life Lessons

(3-minute read) Growing up, feeling good about myself was a daily challenge. I recognized that I was friendly, independent, active and fun-loving, but the fact that I was a little chubby and uncoordinated was always on my mind. I let those flaws overshadow my many positive qualities. Although I’ve come a long way since I was younger, I brought  those same insecurities into adulthood, which has resulted in me being critical of myself inside and out. That being said, when I became a mother I took seriously my responsibility to model the behaviors and traits that I wanted to see in my daughters. This meant keeping those two insecurities to myself. I didn’t want them to creep into my daughter’s heads and somehow influence their self-esteem and confidence. For example, until a few years ago they never saw me participate in sports when other parents were playing, because I didn’t want them to see my lack of ability. They never heard me comment about myself looking fat or not looking good in an outfit. Nor did they hear the opposite, that I was feeling good or pretty.  Yet, I would tell them not to worry about what others might think, to simply be themselves – to just get out there and have fun. Despite my best intentions, as a result of trying to hide a part of myself I was sending confusing and contradictory messages. By doing one thing and saying (or not saying) another, these messages could have the exact opposite effect of what I hoped on my daughters. When I realized this, I began to pay attention to daily...

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How A Simple Shift in Perspective On Mothering Can Make Us More Grateful (and an Even Better Mom)

(3 minutes) I am paralyzed by the thought of being a bad mother. A mother who royally screws up my kids. It would be so much easier to know the right and wrong ways to parent. Wouldn’t it?  I wish I was given an instruction manual upon delivering my first daughter (along with the swaddle blanket and beanie).  I wish I could find the definition of “good mom” in Webster’s Dictionary (yes, I still use that archaic thing). You know the answer is really not out there when you google “how to be a good mom” and there’s only one result with a matching title (and when you click you learn that it’s actually about habits that make you a better mom). Without direction, parents are left to figure it all out for themselves, which leads to good parenting and unfortunately, bad parenting. We have all seen and done our fair share of both. In an attempt to avoid the latter (as much, and as often as possible), I wanted to figure out the top 5 most important things I can provide my children to ensure they have a happy and healthy upbringing. What are the most important values that I should instill upon them?   Do I only want to be seen as their mother? Or do I also want to be a friend? How much should I discipline them? How honestly should I answer their questions? Where is the line between spoiling my children and providing them with things they want? These questions echo in my head on a constant basis. One could even say I am...

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Do You Find Yourself Apologizing Unnecessarily? Learn How to Identify Sorry Worthy Situations & Effective Ways to Approach Those that Aren’t.

Take 5-minutes to get the tools you need to stop saying I’m sorry unnecessarily and start modeling for your daughter empowering and respectful ways to communicate. I never considered myself one of those people who apologizes for everything. You know the type. The ones who seem to sugar coat everything. The ones that wilt easily and/or don’t stand up for themselves. I have actually always thought of myself as the opposite — a strong and independent woman. But one day my daughter unknowingly brought to my attention that my instinct was to apologize for things that I am not truly sorry about. You see, my daughter was feeling crappy. Naturally, I went into nurturing mommy mode. My knee-jerk reaction was to say, “I’m sorry that you’re not feeling well.” When she responded with, “It’s okay Mom, it isn’t your fault,” I was dumbfounded. Of course it was not my fault. Did my daughter really believe that I thought I was responsible for her being sick? After taking a minute to ponder my unconscious pattern of chronic apologizing, I had an awakening. I came to realize how ridiculous my words must have sounded to her. She heard the words “I’m sorry,” and thought I was accepting blame for the fact that she didn’t feel well. Who can blame her? Kids are often literal and take things at face value. So her reaction totally makes sense given the meaning of the phrase, and it’s intended use. For days my daughter’s reply echoed in my head. It prompted me to think about just how many contexts in which I erroneously used these two small...

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What’s Holding Your Daughter Back from Being an Effective Leader?

(2-minute read) Are leaders born or made? What do you believe? Regardless of how you answered, you’re right! Some people come into this world with an innate desire to inspire and encourage those around them. But, if we aren’t born a leader, that doesn’t mean we have no shot at becoming one. What it means is that we have to work at tapping into our potential for leadership. We need to believe in our own value and trust the fact that if we put in the effort, we have the power to lead, to make a positive impact. Sure, it takes more than a winning personality to unite a group of people and help them achieve a common goal. It takes grit – perseverance and passion. At GAALS, we’ve tried to help thousands of girls see their value and what they bring to the table in terms of leadership. Along the way we learned that many of the girls simply aren’t comfortable serving as leaders. When asked why, we hear the same answers over and over again. I fear being seen as bossy when I tell others what to do or how to do it. I want to make everyone happy. And sometimes, I just do that even if I know it won’t help us achieve our goal and/or it isn’t the best for the group. I get anxious about how I make others feel. If I don’t use other’s ideas, I don’t want to make them feel bad. I worry that my decisions as a leader will affect my relationships. When I have to make a decision for the group, like...

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How to Raise A Responsible & Independent Child

(5-minute read) Now that you’re back into the swing of the things with shuttling your children around, helping with homework, making lunches and more, you might find yourself overwhelmed and/or looking for some well-deserved time for yourself. Well I’ve got great news for you. I have a solution for you that will give you back a nice chunk of time each and every day. But even more importantly, in the process you’ll be providing your child with valuable skills – responsibility and independence –  which will serve her well and separate her from the pack.  If I’ve piqued your interest and you’re up for the challenge, game on! Step 1 Take out a pen and a piece of paper. Now get another piece of paper, and another. (How many pieces you’ll need will be an indicator of how little/much responsibility you currently give your child. You’ll see what I mean after the exercise.) Next, start writing down all of the things you do for your child on a daily basis. You might find it helpful to start with the morning and go through a typical day. Then get broader as you go on. Of course, the age of your child will determine what’s on the list. Below are some examples to get you started. Preparing for School Wake up your child & help her get dressed Brush her hair / teeth Make breakfast / lunch & prepare school snack Pack her school bag Reminders: wear sneakers for gym, bring library book back to school, or wear school shirt While they are at school Make her bed Clean her room...

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How to Get What Your Child Wants (and Needs) Out of Youth Sports Programs

(2-minute read) Youth sport programs. Whenever I hear parents talking about them, the conversation seems to go on and on. However, there is a vast difference between what parents who prioritize competition have to say, versus those parents who prioritize fun.  It is the latter group with whom I connect.  Why you ask? Because research repeatedly finds that having fun is the number one reason children participate in sports.  And not having fun is the primary reason they quit.  Therefore, despite which camp we fall into regarding what we want out of youth sports – competition or fun – we simply can’t disregard this unfortunate trend. So when parents who echo my beliefs have negative feedback about the programs that their children participate in, there’s reason to listen (and to act).   The top 8 comments from parents about youth sports (regardless of age, sport, or community): The coach doesn’t teach the rules of the game, proper form/skills, strategies and/or how to communicate during the game. The coach’s behavior and attitude are not in line with the goals set forth by the team/organization/league. I signed up for the non-competitive team and yet the coach and/or the parents are competitive. The coach doesn’t do anything to focus on team building, then wonders why they don’t function as a team. The coach is not a good role model and/or the coach is not motivational or inspirational. My child doesn’t enjoy going to practice. She is not having fun and/or does not like the coach. My child didn’t get much time to play even though there is an equal time rule. My child leaves practice and/or...

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The Secret To Raising Positive, Resilient, Grateful Daughters (and being kept in the know as they grow) in under five minutes a day

(4-minute read) The seed was planted well before I had kids. Even before I got married. I vividly remember sitting and watching “One Fine Day,” the romcom movie with heartthrob George Clooney and Michelle Pfeiffer, and paying attention to the fact that each night they asked their children what their high and low of the day were. For some reason this ritual spoke to me, and I decided at that very moment that I was going to do the same when I one day had children. When my daughter Frankie started nursery school, that day came and the tradition began. Every night at dinner, we each shared our highs and lows of the day. Usually my highs and lows revolved around her (typical Mom answer, I know). When Frankie did something new, it was my high. When she got hurt physically or emotionally, it was my low. One of the best parts about doing this was the brief and trivial conversations that sharing something so simple sparked. They were sweet and enjoyable. Over time, however, they evolved into more profound ideas. On the day Frankie graduated from preschool, I shared that my high and low were the same. I asked her if she thought that was possible. She looked at me perplexed. I explained that I was happy she was getting bigger and going to start the next chapter of her life in kindergarten, but at the same time I was also sad that my baby was growing up. Although it was a hard concept, I believe she had some level of understanding that we can sometimes have two...

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