Parenting 101: Making Self-Care a Habit

Raising a child isn’t easy. It is definitely a full-time, around-the-clock job! Even if your child attends a preschool or daycare during the day, you can still get overwhelmed with how much work and energy it takes to care for an infant, toddler, or preschooler. We strive to be the best parents that we can be. But being your best is nearly impossible when you are burned out, mentally drained and physically exhausted.

We get tired of picking up the toys, cleaning up the spills, and changing endless diapers while struggling to find time to eat or sleep. Things begin to pile up and we can quickly start to feel stressed and overwhelmed.  Parents devote so much time to caring for their children and often leave little time to care for themselves.

Benefits of Self Care

To be our best, we have to make time to care for ourselves. When we make self-care a priority, we begin to see many improvements in our lives. For instance, we will most likely experience lower stress levels. Good self-care habits such as regular sleep, relaxation, exercise, and eating well have been proven to reduce stress levels. These practices help maintain our emotional, mental, and physical health, helping us manage and prevent stress so we can be the best for ourselves and others.

How to Start Your Self-Care Journey

  1. Put “me time” in your schedule: Alone time is necessary. And something that we often forget to do when young children can command so much of our time. When you mark it down in your calendar, it forces you to take this time more seriously. A good time for this is in the morning when your child is at preschool or daycare, or in the evening when you can find alternative childcare options. What you decide to do during your “me time” is completely up to! You may choose to exercise, go shopping, go to the spa, take a long walk in nature, or any other activity that you find calming or stress-relieving.
  2. Meet with one of your friends: This is especially important if you spend most of your day around children and need an escape. Spending time with other adults without children around can be particularly rewarding. This allows you time to have mature, full-length conversations without having to censor yourself or fear interruption.
  3. Make a journal: Write in your journal for about 20 minutes every day and just let your thoughts flow onto the paper. This is a healthy way to release those feelings that you may otherwise keep bottled up or under the surface.
  4. Set limits: Sometimes we can get stressed because we don’t know how to say ‘no’ to others. Maybe your neighbor keeps asking you to host playdates at your house or you are being pressured to volunteer somewhere. There’s no shame in saying ‘no’ to one or even a few of these requests. Instead of automatically saying ‘yes,’ you can practice saying “Let me think about it” or “I’ll get back to you on that.” It’s best to keep your workload manageable, rather than let things pile up. This will help to avoid feelings of overwhelm.
  5. Download a meditation app: Even if you’ve never meditated in your life and think that its probably not for you, it doesn’t hurt to try. You can download apps that make it easy for you to follow guided meditations on a daily basis. These apps teach you how to meditate and do breathing exercises that can calm your mind and body.

When we take care of ourselves, we show our children that self-care is a priority. We serve as good role models when we lead by example, teaching our children that we value our own health and well-being.

Self-care is important because it helps us unwind after days or weeks of stress. When we feel more relaxed, we can be calmer, healthier, and overall better parents.

 

 

STEM education

The importance of STEM in preschool

In today’s society, where advancements in science and technology abound, it is no surprise that jobs in the STEM field have become increasingly in demand. In fact, jobs in science, technology, engineering, and math are expected to grow by about 9 percent between 2014 and 2024. As your child grows up and reaches the age when he or she is ready to enter the workforce, there will be more demand in these fields than ever before. That’s just one reason why it’s important for young children to build a strong foundation in these academic fields during their formative years.

Below are some more benefits of introducing STEM at the preschool level:

It sparks an early interest.

Preschool age children are constantly developing new interests, which is why it’s so important to capture their interest in STEM topics as early as possible. In fact, delaying the exposure could actually have negative consequences according to recent research. Studies have shown that by fourth grade, one-third of students have already lost interest in science and by eighth grade, nearly half of them have lost interest in it or considered it unnecessary for their future plans. Engaging a child’s interest in STEM early on could prevent this from occurring and could also lead to a lifelong passion for these subjects.

It sets them up for success.

Many early childhood experts agree that the sooner STEM subjects are introduced to a student, the more successful the students will be in those subjects in the future. These subjects in school turn into financially secure work options later in life. According to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 93 percent of jobs in the STEM field present wages that are higher than the average salary in the U.S.

It fosters neurological growth during the critical point.

From birth to age 5, children are at a critical point in neurological or brain development. These formative years are the perfect time to introduce children to the process of scientific inquiry because they are naturally so curious about how the world works. It is crucial for children to engage in active exploration and hands-on experiences in STEM during this sensitive period of development.

STEM Curriculum at Carpe Diem  

At Carpe Diem Private Preschool, we offer an interdisciplinary approach to learning with STEM as one of our core components. The curriculum at Carpe Diem places an emphasis on math and science, unlike most other preschools which only focus on the child’s literacy skills and social-emotional development. Through hands-on rigorous exploration, our STEM-based curriculum is able to tap into the child’s natural curiosity.

 

 

One for all and all for a tidy room

5 Ways to Make Chores Fun for Preschool Age Children

Involving children in household chores at the preschool age has many potential benefits. Gaining a sense of responsibility, independence, self-reliance, and empathy are just a few of the developmental breakthroughs that can occur as a result of your children participating in their household chores. Not only will it help you out by having one less thing on your to-do list, but it will help your preschool age children learn skills that will last a lifetime, including time management, task prioritization, and basic organization techniques.

Luckily, chores don’t have to be a drag! You can turn them into fun games and activities that your preschooler will love! Here are a few ideas that will get preschool age children started on their chores:

  1. Play the Freeze Dance Pick Up Game. Children at the preschool age are old enough to put away their own toys, but most kids don’t have as much fun putting them away as they did taking them out. The solution is turning this tidying up chore into a fun and interactive game of freeze dance. Blast your child’s favorite upbeat song as they dance and put as many toys away as possible while the music plays. When the music stops, well – you know the drill.
  2. Film a cleaning commercial. Whip out your smartphone or video camera next time there’s a spill and tell your kids that they are going to be the star of a new cleaning commercial! Hand them a wet towel and the cleaning product in a spray bottle (of course you’ll want to make sure that it’s a gentle one without any strong chemicals or fumes) and start filming away as they wipe up that mess!
  3. Kick off a laundry race. Make sure you have a few laundry baskets ready because your children will be eager to play this cleaning game. Blow your whistle and shout whites, colors, or darks! Your children will be racing to their rooms as fast as they can to grab their dirty laundry and come back with the color that you requested.
  4. Play cleaning Jenga. Here’s where you can really get creative by writing an age-appropriate chore on the side of each log in the Jenga stack. Your child will be directed by the cleaning activity written on the side of the log that caused the stack to fall.
  5. Hold a tidying contest. This one is all about speed. Who can tidy up their mess the fastest? You can make a scoreboard. Record all the times and give them the opportunity to beat their previous times, or the times of their friends and siblings. This is a great way to incorporate a little friendly competition and get the job done fast!

How Chores Help the Learning Process at the Preschool Age

At Carpe Diem Private Preschool, we use an interdisciplinary approach to learning in which children learn through doing and reflecting. Our experiential learning process helps children build character and leadership, as well as gross motor skills. We believe that involving your preschool age child in chores at home is a great way to continue this experiential learning process outside of the classroom environment.

 

Blog Post 69 Childcare 101

Childcare 101: Too Much of a Good Thing? How to Praise Kids Effectively

We all know that kids should be praised for doing something right or behaving well in various situations. But is there such a thing as too much praise? Many childcare experts say yes. It’s possible for too much praise to negatively impact the process of rewarding good behavior. The most important thing to remember when it comes to praising our children effectively, should be the quality of our praise rather than the quantity. Understanding when and how to praise your child can play a fundamental role in raising confident children with a healthy self-esteem.

When to Praise:

When she complies – Praise your child for following your instructions and complying with the rules. Your child also deserves praise for playing quietly and entertaining herself, so make sure calm and peaceful behavior doesn’t go unnoticed.

When he displays prosocial behavior – When your child interacts with other children in a healthy way, such as by taking turns, sharing, using kind words, or just getting along in general, you should reward this kind of prosocial behavior with praise.

When she shows effort – As a way of encouraging your child, you should praise them for learning a new skill or for their willingness to try hard. Your patience and strategic praise during these situations will motivate your child to keep trying until they have mastered the skill.

How to Praise:

Praise the process specifically – How we praise our children can affect their mindset. Childcare professionals have found that the best way to create a growth mindset is to praise the process. Children with a growth mindset, relate success to the act of becoming smarter, as opposed to showing that they are already smart.

So rather than offering your child a general statement of praise such as “You’re so smart” for doing something right, try praising the process instead. For instance, “You found a really good way to tie your shoes” or “I can tell you’ve been practicing this.”

Praise positively – Praise should never be mixed with criticism, or it will reduce the effectiveness of the praise. Instead of saying “I’m glad you didn’t cry this time,” try something along the lines of “I’m proud of you for staying calm when I said you couldn’t have the toy.”

Praise genuinely – Children will know when you’re being insincere, and praising them insecurely could cause them to lose trust in you. This may also lead to insecurity. If they don’t believe your positive words, it could cause confusion in trying to distinguish when you mean the praise and when you don’t. Instead of saying, “You’re the smartest kid in the world, try “You do a really good job getting your homework done.”

Praise at Carpe Diem Private Preschool

Our teachers at Carpe Diem Private Preschool – Southlake, Allen, Frisco, Richardson, and Cedar Park – Austin, are trained to develop the child cognitively, as well as socially and emotionally. Our programs are based on the best knowledge of education theory and research, and our teachers are well-trained to administer just the right amount of quality praise to each individual child.

Family Emergency Plan

Creating a Family Emergency Plan

As we enter hurricane season, we are reminded of the importance of being prepared for natural disasters. Creating a family emergency plan can help ensure that your family is safe if a natural disaster occurs. It is important that each family member understands what to do in the case of an emergency. Here are some tips to help your family be better prepared:

Create a Communication Strategy

One of the first steps of emergency preparedness is to figure out how you will receive emergency alerts and warnings. Websites such as weather.com allow you to sign up to receive text messages about severe weather alerts in your area. Check your local county’s website to find your evacuation area or route. You should also find a local TV channel to watch as the storm gets closer, so you know exactly when it is supposed to hit your area.

Make sure to create a family communication plan as well. Establish an emergency contact, such as a relative or close friend, that you can contact before and after the storm to let them know that you are okay. Find a nearby safe place that you and your children can easily get to, and make it your family meeting place. Tell your children that if they ever get separated from you, they should go to that place so you can reconnect.

Keep Emergency Supplies on Hand

When a hurricane is approaching, stores will very quickly run out of bottled water, nonperishable food, and important supplies such as flashlights and batteries. If you lose power, having a hand-cranked radio is important so you can listen to any important alerts or updates about the storm and recovery efforts. Purchasing these items in advance will likely save you time and money. It will also save you the stress of rushing to the store at the last minute only to find that something you need is sold out.

In addition to stocking up on emergency supplies, it is a good idea to make sure all current prescriptions are filled. This will ensure that you do not run out of any important medications during a storm. If you have pets, make sure you have extra pet food. And don’t forget to fill up your cars with gas before the storm if possible.

Remain in Shelter During the Storm

During the storm, it is very important that you remain indoors at all times. While it may be tempting to step outside to get a good look at what’s happening, this can be very dangerous. Inside of the eye of a hurricane, the sky appears calm for a while. However, this calmness is short-lived and the storm can resume at any point. Please stay inside your house until the storm completely passes and you receive communication that it is safe to venture outdoors.

Our Safety Plan at Carpe Diem

At Carpe Diem Private Preschool, we take safety very seriously. The staff at each of our locations – Allen, Cedar Park – Austin, Frisco, Richardson, and Southlake – has been trained to deliver the best outcomes in emergency scenarios. We also have comprehensive emergency plans developed by former Secret Service agents. All of our safety and security measures are designed to ensure that our students and their families feel safe and comfortable at our school.

Little girl feeding baby horse on ranch

5 Fun Things to Do with Kids in Southlake, Texas

Southlake, Texas is the place to be if you have kids! Located in the suburbs of Fort Worth, the city of Southlake is known for having a great public education system, as well as high quality private schools, like Carpe Diem Private Preschool.  As such, there are many kid-friendly places that you can take your kids to after school or on the weekend for some family fun!

Here are just a few family-friendly places that you can visit in Southlake, Texas:

Marshall Creek Ranch: For the family that enjoys the great outdoors, Marshall Creek Ranch offers 39 miles of trails to explore. From coyotes and white tail deer, to great blue herons and red-headed turkey vultures, there are plenty of beautiful sights to see while horseback riding at Marshall Creek Ranch.

Urban Air Adventure Park: With a warrior obstacle course, runway tumble track, trampolines, battle beams, a foam pit, and dodgeball, Urban Air Adventure Park is the go-to choice for families who enjoy an action-packed indoor venue.

Southlake Town Square: Every year in July, the City of Southlake hosts their annual Stars and Stripes event. Crafts, games, and inflatables for the kids are coupled with concessions and live music for the parents, making this event perfect for the whole family.

Taste Buds Kitchen of Southlake: Taste Buds Kitchen takes culinary entertainment to a whole new level by exciting culinary experiences and instructions for people of all ages. From classes for kids and private lessons for playdates to family classes and birthday parties, Taste Buds Kitchen of Southlake is perfect for the food-loving family.

Ride with Pride: This horsemanship school offers group lessons, private lessons, birthday parties, and a rodeo club. Focusing on building confidence and self-esteem, Ride with Pride teaches students how to care for horses and ride them safely.

From exciting events to a variety of kid-friendly attractions, there is never a shortage of fun things to do with your children in Southlake, Texas!

At Carpe Diem Private Preschool, we believe in the importance of families spending quality time together. While doing fun activities with your children, you can often discover many learning opportunities! Our preschools make learning fun with active, engaging curriculum. At our Southlake campus, we have three age appropriate playgrounds so that we can balance work and play, and sometimes even combine the two!

summer camp autocorrected

The Top 10 Benefits of Summer Camp

Summer camp is so much more than just a way to keep children occupied and entertained throughout the summer months. You may be surprised to find out that summer camp actually has many positive effects on children, some of which can last a lifetime. In fact, many child development experts agree that the summer camp experience is valuable in guiding children to become more mature socially, intellectually, emotionally, morally, and physically.

Although the benefits of summer camp are seemingly endless, we have provided our top 10 picks on how we believe children benefit from this experience:

  1. Boosting self-esteem and confidence – Because summer camp isn’t about grades or test scores, it removes the somewhat consuming sense of competition that the school year brings with it. A less competitive atmosphere, coupled with a wide-range of opportunities to succeed and explore, gives summer camp the potential to really boost a child’s sense of confidence and self –esteem.
  2. Finding unique interests – Many camps specialize in certain subjects or sports, such as video game design, archery, golf, STEM, and many more. If something interests your child, summer camp is the perfect place for her to discover and explore new interests.
  3. Staying physically active – Summer camp programs incorporate many different sports and outdoor activities for children to participate in daily. From running and jumping to dancing and swimming, summer camp allows children to spend their day being physically active.
  4. Developing life-long skills – Through their social experiences at camp, whether it be through daily activities, sports, or field trips, children are constantly evolving. Some important life-long social skills such as leadership, communication, and participation are developed during summer camp.
  5. Gaining independence – Something as simple as letting your child choose what kind of camp he wants to attend can help build independence. During camp, there are often many opportunities for children to foster that sense of independence. For instance, your child may revel in the fact that he gets to participate in activities of his choosing during an unstructured play time.
  6. Experiencing new things – Camp is full of opportunities for taking a child out of her comfort zone. At camp, kids get to try new activities, explore new topics, and dive deep into areas that they might not have otherwise known about.
  7. Reconnecting with nature – Instead of being stuck inside glued to the TV or tablet all day, summer camp allows a child to be outside and develop a deeper appreciation of nature.
  8. Sharing a sense of community – Through their interactions with other children and teachers at summer camp, children develop a sense of community and hone in on some important life skills. Caring, fairness, citizenship, and trustworthiness are some of the many community-oriented service skills that can be developed during camp experiences.
  9. Building good character traits – Attending a summer camp helps a child gain self-respect and helps them build other life-long character traits such as responsibility, resourcefulness, and resilience.
  10. Making true friends – Summer camp is the ideal place for kids to make new friends and strengthen existing friendships. At camp, kids are free from the stressors and pressures of school. This often allows children to relax and open up more. Through singing, laughing, playing, and talking, camp experiences can help develop new friendships and bring friends closer together.

Summer Camps at Carpe Diem Private Preschool

At Carpe Diem Private Preschool, we offer an exciting 11-week summer camp program in arts, humanities, sciences, and more! Each week features a different theme, which allows children to discover many new interests throughout the summer.  We also offer a special STEM program that allows children to explore topics such as marine biology, engineering, archaeology, sports science, coding and gaming.

 

Two Families Eating Meal At Outdoor Restaurant Together

5 Kid-Friendly Restaurants in Allen, Texas

From whining and crying to picky eaters and fussy fighters, going out to eat with young children can often be a demanding and stressful balancing act. When planning to go out to eat in Allen, Texas or anywhere, if you choose the right restaurants, your family can have a nice dining experience and enjoy a lovely breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Finding kid-friendly dining options is an important pre-dining process for many parents and families. In fact, it’s safe to say that this could make or break how well your outing will go.

If dining in Allen, Texas, we’ve made this process a little easier for you and your family by providing a list of kid-friendly restaurants in Allen:

  1. La Finca Chiquita, 107 N Butler Road, Allen, Texas: A unique Tex-Mex style restaurant, La Finca Chiquita focuses on family, tradition, and flavor. Offering weekly dine-in specials, La Finca Chiquita allows kids to eat free after 5 pm on Tuesdays with each adult entrée.
  2. Mio Nonno, 939 W Stacy Road #160, Allen, Texas: Featuring a laid-back family-friendly atmosphere, Mio Nonno serves wide selection of Italian foods, including wood-fired pizzas.
  3. Sunview Café, 939 W Stacy Road, Allen, Texas: With a home-style menu and breakfast served all day, Sunview Café is the ideal spot for the breakfast-loving family. The café offers a variety of entrees for kids available for under $6 and features Mickey Mouse pancakes!
  4. Rudy’s “Country Store” and Bar-B-Q, 1790 N Central Expy, Allen, Texas: Featuring large wooden picnic tables, Rudy’s Store and Bar-B-Q is the place to go if your family has a hankering for some Southern-style digs. The “country store” sells specialty sauces, rubs, and smoked meats if you want something extra to take home.
  5. Black Walnut Café, 955 W. Stacy Road Allen, Texas: Black Walnut Café offers plenty of delicious and nutritious menu items for the “little acorns” along with organic juice pouches. Specializing in fresh and healthy foods, this family-friendly café also offers a complete gluten friendly menu, as well as plenty of vegetarian and vegan options.

Carpe Diem Private Preschool in Allen, Texas                                                                   

At Carpe Diem Private Preschool in Allen, Texas, we believe that it is important for families to take opportunities to spend time with one another in diverse out-of-home settings. Going out to eat with your children is one of those opportunities that also presents itself as a valuable teaching moment. Dining out in a laid-back atmosphere is a great way to open channels of communication between children and parents. Kid-friendly restaurants also provide the right setting to teach children valuable life skills such as being polite, creating good first impressions, and practicing good manners.

 

Blog Post 49 How to Make Potty Training Fun

Potty Training Series: How to Make Potty Training Fun

Once you understand when the right time to potty train your child is, and after you’ve nailed the basics, it’s time to begin learning some quirky tricks of the potty training trade. When you are ready to start getting down to business, you’ll want to make potty training as fun and stress-free as possible!

The following are some tips that will help you make potty training a more enjoyable process for the whole family:

  • Read books.

    Picture books about potty training are a fantastic way to get your child excited about this new milestone and will help him understand why he is using the potty.

  • Sing songs.

    Children love music! By singing some catchy potty training tunes, you can make the potty training experience much more fun for you and your child.

  • Play a game.

    A potty training board game is the ultimate potty training survival kit that makes potty training a blast for both kids and parents.

  • Download apps.

    Since your child probably knows how to use your phone just as well as you do, downloading a potty training app is another good way to engage your child in the potty training process. They will have fun playing with the interactive apps that also help them understand potty training.

  • Throw a potty party.

    If you know anyone else who is potty training their children, invite them to the party. It could be a good idea for your child to see that her friends are also using the potty as well. It’s also great to have your child’s favorite family members there (such as an uncle or grandmother) to cheer them on as well. The potty party is a creative way to offer your child positive reinforcement as they begin their potty training journey.

At Carpe Diem Private Preschool, our staff is trained and experienced in the potty training process. By making potty training fun, we engage our little learners and build confidence as they get started on the potty training process. We understand that accidents happen. Our staff focuses on positive reinforcement rather than scolding or punishing children if they have accidents. We believe in encouraging our students and creating a supportive environment in all aspects of their learning and development!

More in this series: 8 Ways to Know When its The Right Time, The Basics of Potty Training

Basics of Potty Training

Potty Training Series: The Basics of Potty Training

Once you are confident that your child is physically and emotionally ready for potty training, it’s time to get down to business. Many parents get frustrated during the potty training phase if they feel like their child isn’t learning fast enough. But it’s important to understand that potty training is a process. Luckily there are many simple steps that you can follow to make bathroom business a breeze.

Here are some basic tips that might make potty training a little easier on both you and your child.

Prepare with the chair.

Sitting on the toilet may be scary for some children. They may feel off balance, and the seat may feel too high up for them. Using a potty chair can make your child feel more comfortable and secure, allowing them to plant their feet safely on the ground.

Be sure to keep the chair in a place where your child spends a lot of time, so that when he or she needs to use the bathroom, it will be easier to access. Having the chair close by also serves as a convenient reminder. Your child will see the chair and remember that she can use the potty chair as soon as she gets the urge.

Familiarize them with the toilet.

Help your child practice sitting on the toilet fully clothed at first, so that he gets familiarized with the setting. Once he is comfortable sitting on the chair with his clothes on, you can take the next step of helping him sit on it with his clothes off. This will help familiarize him with what the seat feels like on his skin.

Teach them bathroom concepts.

Demonstrate to your child that the toilet is the place where “pee” and “poo” goes. You can do this by taking your child’s diaper after she has had a bowel movement and having her watch as you dump the stool into the toilet. Explain to her that this is where all of her pee and poo belong.

Set an example for your child by letting her see you sitting on the toilet. You can encourage her to sit on her potty chair at the same time if it is in the bathroom. You should also show her how you wash your hands with soap and water every time you finish on the toilet, and help her practice doing the same.

Offer reinforcement.

Try not to get angry or be too hard on your child if he makes mistakes. Potty mistakes are bound to happen, especially in the early stages of the potty training process. Instead, offer praise when he does something right. Positive reinforcement is key in establishing good bathroom behavior.

After a few days of consistently successful bathroom visits, you can begin making the switch from diapers to training pants, or from training pants to “big kid” underwear. You can determine how quickly to make the change by your child’s reaction to the new introduction.

Get everyone on the same page.

If your child attends preschool or daycare, or is in the care of a babysitter or grandparents, it’s important to share your potty training preferences with all caregivers in your child’s life. This includes the teachers and staff at your child’s daycare or preschool. Doing this will make things a lot easier for your child, who will benefit from the consistency and support that she will receive from all caregivers.

At Carpe Diem Private Preschool, our staff is trained and experienced in the potty training process. Unlike many other daycares and preschools, we prefer to base potty training on the individual interests of the child. Once the child is using the potty regularly, our teachers will communicate with parents and encourage the use of underwear. Our staff focuses on positive reinforcement rather than scolding or punishing children if they have accidents. We believe that keeping a positive mentality and supportive environment for the children in our care is important in all aspects of learning!

More in this Series: How to Know When its The Right Time, How to Make Potty Training Fun