Family Files Facts for All Ages Sun, 15 May 2005 13:02:08 -0500 Don't Put Off Reading This Article! Fri, 22 Mar 2019 14:05:00 +0000

Mark Twain said "Never put off til tomorrow, what you can do the day after tomorrow." As I've been helping my son during his senior year of High School, I have really become aware of what a procrastinator he is – just like me! Most everyone procrastinates sometime. There are different ways to people procrastinate. Some people will delay a task in order to gather more information for completion of the task. In this case, it is not really considered procrastination because you are actively working toward completion of the task. Examples of this include: learning required skills, researching different resources for the best medical treatment or calling someone who has been in that situation.

But some "procrastinators" do nothing at all toward the task that needs completed. Unfortunately, the task is not forgotten but remains as a nagging feeling and eventually, the task must be done. And others, will do other things of less importance than the avoided task. While something is getting done, the avoided task remains undone and will need to still be completed sometime (this is definitely me!)

There are many reasons given for delaying a task and sometimes just knowing the cause for delay can help to overcome the obstacles. Here are some reasons often given:

  • Lack of skills – "I don't know how." Delaying is helpful if that time is used to learn the skills.
  • Disorganization – "I don't know where to begin." Sometimes a project is too big to accomplish in the time we have available. Some projects are overwhelming and by not knowing where to begin, nothing is done. When there is too much to do at one time, it is helpful to break the large tasks into smaller ones, making them more manageable.
  • No deadline – "There is plenty of time." If there is not a deadline, it is often helpful to set personal goals for completion.
  • No one else knows about it – "I'm the only one who cares if it is done." Being accountable to someone else increases the chance that a project will be completed. Telling someone else of goals makes it more likely that the goals will be met in a timely manner.
  • Unimportant – "I don't know why this needs to be done." Self-talk tends to be negative if one believes that the project has no purpose. If it truly matters to no one, admit it and drop the project. If the project is important to someone else and needs to be completed, concentrate on that fact.
  • Don't enjoy the task – "I would rather be doing anything else." Some projects simply must be done, even though they are not enjoyable.
  • Fear – "I will not be able to do it right." Procrastination may be the result of fear of failure or fear of not doing it perfectly. As a result, there is a rush at the last minute to complete the task and it is not done as well as it might have been.

So remember, to decrease procrastination and get motivated, you can:

• Obtain the skills needed for the activity. If it is impossible to learn the skills, let someone else do the activity.

• Break the task into smaller parts that can be completed in short segments.

• Share goals with someone else to increase accountability.

• Be aware of self-talk. Keep it positive and optimistic.

• Honestly confront your fears. Is it … Fear of the consequences of the completed task? Fear of failing to complete the task? Fear that it won't be done perfectly?

  • Set up a reward for yourself for when you complete the task.

If you are lacking the get up and go to do something that truly should be done, choose one of these strategies and start it today!

Intentional Harmony Thu, 28 Feb 2019 08:00:00 +0000 Intentional Harmony

We know that if we have a partner, that relationship is probably one of the most important ones. Then why is this relationship one of the most vulnerable ones to work-life stress? It is all too easy to take out frustrations on the person we love the most. How can we avoid this? Well, the answer is "It takes work" and an investment. Just like the title of this blog, we have to be intentional with having harmony in our life; it just doesn't happen. Keeping a relationship fresh and alive takes time, energy, and constant thought. So what are some specific behaviors we can do to keep our relationship close?

  • Be positive.
  • Be open.
  • Be reassuring.
  • Connect with others.
  • Share fun and responsibilities.

The last bullet on responsibilities makes me think about the chores around the house. Sometimes individuals might think it is about respect or love whether or not someone completes a chore. Resentment can build easily and if you don't acknowledge it then it can explode. There are ways to make this work; which is to figure out a plan.

  • Prioritize- Sit down and really go over everything that could be done and how often.
  • Plan- Who's responsible for which job and all agree.
  • Ban criticism and micromanaging-Give credit for jobs that the other person does. Be flexible to switch jobs every now and then. This also helps reduce boredom.

Again, couples should beware of unhealthy relationship patterns which include: escalation, avoidance or withdrawal, negative interpretation, and put-downs. Once the intensity rises rapidly and pretty soon, everything is out of hand. It is important to look at things from your partner's point of view and find a way to calm down. When a partner checks out then this prevents understanding. The involved partner might need to back off a little and the withdrawing partner may need to stretch out of their comfort zone. When individuals believe the worst instead of the best in each other, destruction happens. Individuals need to be intentional with thinking of some positive interpretations. As we know, putdowns are unhelpful so, watch your sarcasm or insult because words can hurt.

So, again with time, energy, and constant thought, together you can have intentional harmony with your partner.

Source: Intentional Harmony Curriculum is a University of Illinois Extension Family Life Program,

with major funding from The Pampered Chef Family Resiliency Program.

Too Much is NOT a Good Thing Mon, 25 Feb 2019 10:20:00 +0000

Originally printed in March of 2017, but thought it would be worthwhile to release again.

While on vacation a few weeks ago, I noticed there were many elementary and middle school aged children present at our resort. I also noticed that many of them had something in common.- their rudeness, lack of manners, and disrespect for others. What was interesting was that when I looked around for their parents, either I found the parental figures acting in the same manner, or they weren't paying any attention and were oblivious to how their child was behaving, or they simply weren't to be found. While it is easy to get irritated with the children, they are just the victims of overindulgence by their parents.

Overindulgence can be separated into three categories. Material overindulgence or when parents give their child too many things like toys, electronics, junk food, sports, money, etc. There is also structural overindulgence or soft structure where children are given excessive freedom for their age. These children have no real rules and no accountability. And relational overindulgence or over-nurture which is another form and results when children are smothered – they are given too much attention and not allowed to do many things for themselves. All three types end up negatively affecting the children and they often experience difficulties as adults.

Research has found that overindulging children can result in:

  • Always wanting to be center of attention
  • Difficulty learning self-care and interpersonal skills
  • Not knowing when is enough (food, alcohol, personal boundaries, money)
  • Feelings of confusion, embarrassment, and guilt
  • Being ungrateful, irresponsible
  • Feeling entitled

So how can parents avoid overindulging their children? Parenting Press is a great resource and provides a simple list of suggestions:

  • Have children learn chores. It is important to start children out young with simple household and self-care tasks that can be taught and supervised by parents and modified as the child grows older.
  • Teach children rules and enforce them. Children actually feel more secure if they have boundaries.
  • Always know where the children are. Have children and parents report on where they are going and when they will be home.
  • Provide opportunities to negotiate. Giving children situations they can negotiate (chores, allowances, etc.) allows them to develop responsibility, problem solving and decision-making skills.

Most parents that overindulge are just wanting the best for their children and don't realize the harm they could be doing. Any parent that takes a moment to examine their situation and decides they might be guilty of overindulgence can follow the suggestions and could also visit the Parenting Press website at and the Illinois Early Learning Project at for additional information.

Building Your Baby's Brain Fri, 08 Feb 2019 15:16:00 +0000  



Building Your Baby's Brain was originally posted in March 2016.

The complexity of the human brain is nothing short of amazing. The changes which occur in a baby's brain are significant from the time of conception to three years of age. As a caregiver of a baby, it is your goal to support healthy brain development. Here are a few suggestions to help:

  • Respond promptly when your baby cries. Soothe, nurture, cuddle, and reassure him so that you build positive brain circuitry in the brain. Your calm holding and cuddling, and your day-to-day engagement with your baby, signal emotional security to the brain.
  • Build trust by being attentive and focused. Babies who are securely attached to you emotionally will engage in exploration, learning, and discovery. Respond clearly to your baby's actions. A developing brain learns to make sense of the world if you respond to your child's behavior. Be consistent in your responses to your baby.
  • Use body massage to decrease stress and enhance feelings of well-being and emotional security. Loving touches promote growth in babies. Research has shown that premature babies who are massaged three times daily are ready to leave the hospital days earlier than babies who do not.
  • Respond to infant coos with delighted vocalizations. Slowly draw out your syllables in a high-pitched voice as you exclaim, "Pretty baby!" The areas in the brain for understanding speech and producing language need your rich input. When you provide loving, language-enriched experiences for your baby, you are giving his brain's neural connections and pathways more chances to become wired together. In turn, he will acquire rich language, reasoning, and planning skills.
  • Be attentive. When your baby points, be sure to follow with your gaze and remark on items or events of interest to her. This "joint attention" confirms for your baby how important her interests and observations are to you. Express joy and interest in your baby.
  • Play games, such as patty-cake and peekaboo. Babies respond well to learning simple sequential games and simple movements. Choose developmentally appropriate toys that allow babies to explore and interact. Toys such as a windup jack-in-the-box or stackable blocks help your baby learn cause-and-effect relationships and reasoning.


  • Set up a safe environment for your crawling baby or toddler. Spatial learning is important, and your mobile child will begin to understand parameters such as under, over, near, and far. He will be able to establish mental maps of his environment and a comfortable relationship with the world in which he lives.
  • Sing songs such as "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and "Ring-Around-the-Rosy." The body motions and finger play will help your baby integrate sounds with large and small motor actions. Songs also enhance your child's learning of rhythms, rhymes, and language patterns.

Take time and enjoy your interactions with your baby. You may be pleasantly surprised to find that it is good for your brain too!!

Here are some links to more information regarding your baby's brain development.

University of Georgia Extension

Better Brains for Babies

Healthy Baby – Healthy Brain

Zero To Three


"20 Ways to Boost Your Baby's Brain Power." Web. 11 Mar. 2016.

"Tips for Healthy Brain Development." Best Start. Web. 11 Mar. 2016.






Fun at Home with Preschoolers: Getting Ready to Read! Fri, 01 Feb 2019 15:40:00 +0000 Used with permission through a partnership with the Illinois Early Learning Project.

Is your child between the ages of 3 and 5? If so, you can do a lot to make getting ready to read a natural part of daily life. Most 3- to 5-year-olds still have a way to go before they are ready to read and write. There's no need to rush this natural growth, but you can help your child build the knowledge, skills, and habits he or she needs to become a reader and a writer later on.

Turn your child's play into activities that help her get ready to read and write!

  • Be sure your child has time to play with other children so she can learn to communicate with her peers.
  • Engage in conversation with your child. Listen to her, and share your own ideas with her. Use "difficult" words sometimes, and talk about what they mean.
  • Play games with your child using letters, words, numbers, or counting.
  • Learning rhythm and rhyme through songs and finger-plays can help a child get ready to read.
  • Take your child to grocery stores, parks, museums, art galleries, and community events. You'll be helping him learn new words and learn more about the world around him.

Show your child how you use reading and writing in your everyday activities.

  • When you make a list or write a note for someone, or when you read the newspaper, a map, or your email, your child sees that reading and writing are useful.
  • Talk with your child about signs, schedules, and books, and encourage her to try reading them.
  • Read aloud to your child. Don't know what to read? Your librarian can help.
  • Visit the library, and help your child get a library card as soon as she can.

Encourage children to draw, write, and use books for fun and learning.

  • Keep books, magazines, and games at home where your child can use them.
  • Keep materials for drawing and writing where your child can use them.
  • When your child draws, ask him to tell you about the picture.
  • Write his words down so he can go back to them and "read" them himself.
  • Show that you value and respect your child's efforts to read and write.
  • Remember that even scribbles are a step toward writing!
  • Choose TV and videos wisely. Shows such as Sesame Street or Word World are meant to get children interested in reading and writing.
  • Select electronic games carefully. Some games and apps are designed to help children learn skills they need to read and write. You can find many no-cost, ad-free games at The Web site Reading Rockets also rates low-cost print awareness apps.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that preschool-age children have no more than a total of 1 to 2 hours of high-quality TV or computer time each day. After all, there are so many other things to do!
5 Cures for Cabin Fever Mon, 28 Jan 2019 14:49:00 +0000 With much of the state covered in snow and plunging into the deep freeze this week, I thought I'd re-share this blog originally posted in 2016.

"Mom, he's touching me."

"No, mom, HE's looking at me."

"MOOOooooM, tell him to stop touching MEEEEEE."

"I'LL STOP touching you when you stop looking at ME!"


Ah, winter. Where children and parents are bound together for nearly endless days of togetherness with little opportunity for outdoor activities to burn off energy and lift the spirits. The newness and novelty of toys received as holiday gifts has long since faded and the daily trend may involve spending too much time on the couch.

As the winter drags on, parents and kids alike may get a touch of "cabin fever." Feelings of lethargy, boredom, restlessness, and even irritability go hand in hand with the reality of being stuck indoors. It may seem that the winter will never end and spring will never come.

Cure cabin fever for your family with these ideas:

Make mealtime fun. Plan a fun family meal and encourage everyone to get involved. The meal doesn't have to be fancy or expensive – remember to keep it simple. A great idea is to have a "theme" and then name food items after the theme. Enlist the children in brainstorming ideas! Give fun names to the food on the menu for the theme night. As an example, the theme could be "Cowboy Night" featuring cow patties (hamburgers), golden nuggets (corn), rootin' tootin' beans (baked beans), and farm fresh fruit. Have the kids create, draw, or color an actual menu to accompany the theme and dress the part. Other great ways to making mealtime fun could be to have a funny hat night, a no utensils night, a backwards meal (wear your clothes backwards), sports night, eating under the table, and on and on. With my own family, we occasionally make a rule where each person has to act and talk like another family member at the table for the entire meal. Kids act and talk like adults, adults act and talk like kids – and the laughter roars! With a little creativity and effort, a fun family meal can add some energy and excitement.

Get physical. Cabin fever is problematic for kids because winter often reduces time, space, and opportunities for active, physical play. This build-up of physical tension can lead to unacceptable behavior simply because the child can't burn off pent up energy. Whenever possible, provide children with opportunities to be physical. As the mom of two, very active little boys, I am constantly finding ways for them to get their physical energy out. Have a race up the stairs or around the living room. Create a space in the home where it is okay for roughhousing and wrestling (a favorite in my house!). Suggest to the children that they create an obstacle course and use a timer to time their completion of the course. Crank up the music and throw an impromptu dance party – even better if you add flashlights to wave around on the dance floor! Whatever you come up with to burn off the energy, get involved with the children – it will do all of you good!

Plan activities in the community. Since you have to be inside anyway, winter is a great time to visit and explore indoor spaces in your community. Libraries are great places to go for quiet time activities and a change of scenery – as an added bonus, many public libraries offer craft, science, and play activities. Create a "winter" bucket list of indoor attractions your family can visit – don't forget local museums, bowling centers, craft centers, indoor pools, and recreation centers. Check out your local Extension office for activities and programs for children and families. Consider taking your children to a local nursing home to volunteer. Playing games, doing crafts, singing songs, even reading to older adults is a great way for children to help out, to learn how to interact with others, and to even learn responsibility.

Venture outdoors whenever possible. As long as it is not bitterly cold, aim to go outside for at least a few minutes every day. Take the dog on a quick walk, play a quick game of tag, race to and from the mailbox are just a few ideas of things that can be done to get some fresh air. Get the kids out to explore your outdoor space and observe how plants and the landscape has changed with the season. When it snows, get outside. Building snowmen and snow forts, making snow angels, and going sledding are great ways to get active and enjoy the outdoors.

Bust boredom by planning ahead. Cabin fever is often exacerbated when children become bored and feel that there is little to do. You can plan ahead to bust boredom by having activities at the ready and on-hand. Turn off the television and turn towards family activities. Create a craft kit by filling a storage box with various craft items and pulling out the kit when boredom sets in. Stock your pantry or cupboards with quick and easy cooking or baking activities. Pull out board games and puzzles. Set aside time and space to look at old family photos or videos. Consider setting aside a gift or two (or five!) from the holidays and doling them out on occasion throughout the winter.

Your family can successfully survive cabin fever using your imagination, creativity, and flexibility. Spring will be here soon. In the meantime, have fun, be flexible, and get active!

Winter Fitness Mon, 28 Jan 2019 14:00:00 +0000 Winter Fitness

Now that winter is upon us, it is quite comforting to sit down with a movie, hot chocolate, and your family for some quality time together. Although it is important to do some enjoyable and relaxing activities, it is important to try to incorporate some plans that include physical movement for overall fitness. Even though you may have to be creative in your planning as you schedule around the changing weather, keeping active can give you a boost of energy that will help your body.

  1. Take a sightseeing, nature walk, even in the snow. Just make sure that your family has bundled themselves up to protect themselves from the winter cold. Discussing nature and observing what you see along the way can be a great way to encourage family togetherness and communication. Playing "I SPY" can be a way to keep the fun into the discussions.
  2. Ride a snow sled; if you have not been sledding for a while, you might find yourself laughing by the experience. This is a great time to set concerns aside for just a bit and HAVE FUN with your family! Don't forget to engage in a snowball fight to keep your heart pumping and your legs moving!
  3. Build a snowman. The next time your child may ask if he/she can go outside to play, surprise him/her and join in by building a snowman or making snow angels.
  4. Plan meals that involve the whole family participating, such ask making pizza or tacos. Sometimes it may take some coaxing, but it is worth it to help the family get into habits of working together, especially for being praised for doing such a good job! This is a great opportunity to include discussions as to why it is important to have the food groups represented in the meals. Even the cleanup can be a positive way for families to finish tasks together.
  5. Schedule regular family dinners that include the family sitting together at the table. Often it is hard to have a healthy meal when operating in a fast pace world. You can help model the importance of eating right and having family togetherness.
  6. Schedule a game night. Turn off the television and bring out the board games or card games which can keep the adrenaline flowing, especially if you are playing a game like that includes family interactions and fun.