Parents Helping Parents of Wyoming State Parenting Center

Yes, reading should start this early.

My mother used to tell me that reading to children is the most important thing you can do for them as a parent.  I have seven siblings, and true to her convictions, she read to all of us until we were old enough to want to read alone.  She read nightly for 26 years – 9,490 reading sessions with us all piled into her lumpy old bed.

We lived out in the present ghost town of Table Rock Village.  Once a week the bookmobile would make the 45 mile trip from Rock Springs to our village.  Once it arrived, the kids would line up outside for their turn to pick books.  My siblings and I made up 50% of the line.  The driver only let us choose 10 books, and only 2 people could get on the bookmobile at a time.  Ultimately, though, our family would end up with 90 books (my mom got 10 also), and we each read every single one.

Fast forward 20 years:  We can now see that early literacy sets the foundation for long-term educational success.  This week I will be attending the college graduation of my younger sibling, and the 8th college graduation for our family – a milestone that makes my mother’s time and work really show.  And when I get home, I will sit down with my kids for our 2,920th reading session.

The world of instant communication has brought us a lot of advantages. We can reach across the whole world in a matter of seconds. It has also brought with it a host of problems. Call me old fashioned but why are six year olds carrying around cell phones? There is a place, a reason, and time for everything and school is not the place, reason, or time for cell phone use. I have heard some of the arguments that the children would be able to dial someone in an emergency.  More times than not, small children freeze during a crisis. There should be a teacher in every class room and monitors in the hall.  If there is an emergency they can call for help. I do believe it would be alright for high school age students to keep them in their lockers, or cars where they could access their phones during lunch time. I cannot see how a student could possibly be learning in class while holding a cell phone on their lap texting. We know it is very dangerous to try and drive while on the cell phone. It is also dangerous for a lot of children that are continually mocked teased and harassed through cell phones. They make an excellent tool for bullies.  I overheard a girl in the hall of the high school who was so upset because she had forgotten her cell phone. I thought she was going to cry.  I could not help but wonder, would she be that upset if she had misplaced a good book she was reading, or a school report?  I would love to see a nationwide ban on cell phone use by students in public schools. What about all of you?


Jan Jones- PIC Outreach Parent Liaison- Cheyenne

I love to sneak in the unwanted parenting advise with all my children. After all, I have been there, done that! I certainly got a lot of that advice from my mother so It is now my turn to shine!

I recently had to decide where my granddaughters were going to get their  PROM dresses. I suggested the local recycle prom dress exchange. Now this exchange has already been open for two months so everything is picked over! Wow! All the dresses looked like something from the 80’s. Even I agree.

One granddaughter came out in a cotton dress, floor lengh, flower child style with a lot of ribbons. The next granddaughter came out in a tight fitting, low cut black version of Cruella De Ville. (She did not have the necessary curves but it did match her black nail polish) There were many different left over bridesmaids dresses that made them look like they were unhappy never a bride material. One suggestion was made to add a hoop petticoat under one dress. My granddaughter was concerned about how she would fit to dance with her date. We are headed to the CHEAP prom dress section of the mall tonight.  I will hate going along but since I have the pocket book I will provide the unwanted parenting advice. I may even provide pictures of the big day to all you bloggers!! Wish me luck!

Blanca Moye- Parents as Teachers Parent Educator- Jackson Area

When I think about goals for my own family or the families who I work with a bunch of ideas come to mind. So before I start talking about my ideas for goals, I would love to hear ideas from you too. To support our families mostly when summer is coming and when everyone is busy.

One of the more important goals I will be doing is more reading to my children every day; for 5 to 20 minutes at a time. For example, choosing one new word to focus on- such as “Horse”- we can then read books about farms, animals, etc…We can create family stories regarding horses, who had a horse?, what kind of horse the family likes? We can do art projects revolving around the subject such as draw horses, other animals, nature or makeup a story regarding the horses closest ‘friends’.

Other one will be increasing our healthy skills as a family. We are planning to cook together, making salads, counting fruit and vegetable intake, and drinking more water. If we make it a competition to see who can be the healthiest – it makes it fun for the whole family!

If we start with a little step at a time, everyone will see the difference- planning family goals is always the first step.

The flu is never fun!

After a week of family-wide stomach flu, I’m again reminded of the value of sleep.  I’ve found sleep—or the total lack thereof—to be one of the biggest adjustments when it comes to parenthood.  Good rest is of course important for adults and children—lack of sleep has been linked to depression, anxiety, obesity, immunity problems, diabetes, and even ADHD. However, sometimes helping our kids get the sleep they need is easier said than done.  Here are some things that I have found helpful… some advice from other parents, some from experts, and some from plain old trial and error.

1) Consistency—My dude is not a very consistent baby, but bedtime we stick to.  He goes to bed within the same ½ hour window every night.  It helps him sleep and gives me a predictable end time on those days where, well, I just need an end time.

2) No distractions—We have no toys, stuffed animals, or anything too exciting within reach of the crib.  We don’t play in it—it is designated as a sleep-only zone.  Down the road, this will also mean no TVs, computers, etc. in the bedroom.  I assessed many children as a school psychologist whose only problem was that they stayed up watching TV until 3:00 AM.

3) Noise—I made fun of my sister when she used to take her baby’s white noise maker with her everywhere she went.  Now we don’t travel without ours.  I’ve found it has multiple benefits—it teaches my kiddo to sleep with noise while blocking out other, more disturbing noises, especially when we’ve traveled.  Plus, when we do travel, it is something familiar in an unfamiliar environment.  Finally, he is so used to sleeping when he hears his “sound” that now I swear just hearing it makes him sleepy!

4) Developing Sleep Skills—I’m a believer that kids need to develop the ability to put themselves to sleep and not rely on parents to get them there.  Teaching these can be tough, but my life sure seems easier now that my dude’s got some skills of his own.

5) Good Sleep Environment—I was baffled that the best my child’s ever slept was in an unfamiliar CLOSET over Christmas break, until I figured out that it was because the closet was pitch black.  He napped like crazy.  We came home and I adjusted his bedroom accordingly.

What do you think?  What has helped you teach your child good sleep habits? Or, just as importantly, how do you ensure that you, as a parent, get the sleep you need?

Juanita Bybee- PHP Office Manager

I personally think that kids need to have some simple and age appropriate chores that are not tied to money.  I think that they need to be some type of chores that a child can do to make them feel like they are a part of the family. There are always chores to be accomplished around the house that a child can take pride in, folding clothes, setting the table for dinner, putting away the dishes in the dishwasher, keeping their bed made and their toys picked up. Their room should be their sanctuary and keeping it neat and tidy will help them feel good about themselves. It also will prepare them for school when they will need to find things quickly, have homework and be ready to start the day.

I feel like allowance should be saved for extra things- age appropriate things. If they want a special toy or want to save up money for an outing to a movie with friends.  These are things that could help teach children patience and how to save and manage money. I do not feel like children should have to pay for their own lunch tickets or clothing …things that are the parents’ responsibility- of course.

I think this is where parents can help children start to take charge of their own personal self esteem.  A child will not know how to pull themselves up out of the mud if they are never in the mud.  A child will never know how to push themselves if there are no expectations placed on them.  I think this is where the rubber meets the road.  If we challenge our children and keep raising the bar, they will begin to challenge themselves and know for themselves that they are more than capable and can accomplish anything they put their mind to.  But it starts at home with simple and meaningful tasks, and probably a lot of whinning.  What are your thoughts?

Julie Heil- PHP Outreach Coordinator located in Buffalo

I am prepared for the BATTLE! My family has attempted and sometimes completed a No TV Challenge several times over the last three years that we have actually had cable television. There are lots of moans and groans for the first two days and then my two kids figure out that they have things they have forgotten about like…..

Bikes, Games, Books, Art Supplies, Pets, oh and those pesky adults in the house called PARENTS.

Really, it is amazing to me how my middle school son will be watching Spongebob when I leave the room and the next time I peak into the family room, there is some hot mess of a female on the scream holding a huge gun and killing a metal person/vehicle while screaming profanities. WHAT I scream- “mom its Megan Fox, relax” he says. “All my friends get to watch whatever they want and plus its only PG-13”. (I’m kinda stuck on the rating thing- PG-13 just means the absence of the F word- all else is fair game as demonstrated by Megan’s bodacious bod and use of weaponry while wearing a bikini)

I don’t like TV, I think it sends the wrong messages to our kids on so many levels, you have to be skinny, with perfect clothes, own the best cars and eat a ton of junk food (thinking of the commercial of the father and son standing in a beautiful wavy corn field taking about how high fructose corn syrup is natural and really good for you)  Plus, the kids in these shows talk so nasty to each other. Their dialogues are wrought with sarcasm and innuendo that children don’t understand. Oh, how I wish for the days when Dora the Explorer was the hero of our house. I loved her chubby little girl ways and mismatched clothes, her adventurous spirit and sweet Abula that gave wise advise.

I have hidden the remotes, unhinged the dish and I am ready for the fight! This week we are TV free, are you up for it?

Dara Johnston- Resident Lazy Bones

When asked to write a post about staying active, the first thought was who are we kidding?!?! Staying active, sure that’s definitely important, and what all of the health magazines state we should do as well as our health professionals/ parent educators/ teachers etc…

However, what I wish I could say to the next person to tell me to get off the couch is a resounding (ARE YOU KIDDING ME?) Is this some horrible cosmic joke? Am I now supposed to fit in being active with the care of my loved ones, working all the time, studying for classes, studying for professional certifications, trying to get ahead at work, and my failure of a social life?

Once again – are you serious!

So instead this post will illuminate why taking time for oneself is a better alternative to ‘staying active’. Sure all you gym rats and super healthy types can still workout until you ach; eating your organic vegetables and staying away from refined sugar.

However, my lazy self is going to attack this list of things as if it were my weekly bucket list:

  • Taking time to read a book for leisure
  • Taking a walk in the early evening
  • Meditating (if that’s your thing)
  • Actually have a conversation with my loved ones that doesn’t end and begin with ‘Yeah, work/ school was fine’
  • Setting the alarm early so that I can press the snooze button as many times as I want
  • Going on a hike, instead of cleaning out the garage
  • Turning off my phone, Ipad, Computer for the whole weekend
  • Sleeping past 5 AM on the weekends
  • Learning to cook a new dish each weekend that straddles the line of healthy and still edible

You get the picture, I am not advocating for staying on the couch indefinitely but rather slowing down long enough to enjoy the simple pleasures. Therefore, I challenge all of you to come up with a short weekly bucket list that helps to put the focus back on your priorities- what type of things will be on your list?

Staying Active

Staying Active is an important part of our day.  We can find ways to be active at school, work and at home.  Being active means knowing the value of physical activity and making it a priority in our lives.  Sometimes being fit makes it easier to accomplish the other things that are competing for our time.  It’s important to realize that healthy bodies come in a range of weights, shapes, and sizes. Know what your strengths and abilities are.

  Look for ways to take exercise breaks at work such as:  taking a walk during lunch or use stairs instead of the elevator.  There are many ways to become more active by walking, gardening, swimming, bicycling , dancing or exercising while watching TV .  These activities are easy to start with because they don’t need much training, can be done alone or with friends, don’t cost much and can be done by people of almost any age.  Physical activity is just as important for bone health as it is for muscle strength.  Women who do weight-bearing exercise such as walking, running, or tennis have a greater bone density than women who do non weight bearing exercise such as swimming or gardening.  Choose to exercise in shorter blocks of time instead of longer ones.    Think of family time as a chance for both you and  your whole family to do active fun things together.  Include the children on camping, hiking, canoeing, skiing and other trips and outings.  Always encourage lifelong sports such as swimming, cycling, tennis, jogging, skiing, or hiking.

Consider what types of community activities are available.  Choose a time that works for you and commit to participating in some type of physical activity each day.

Some tips for continuing to stay  active:

Remind yourself of what you get out of being active.  Set specific goals that you know you can achieve.  Keep track of what you have done, and reward yourself when you reach a goal.  Expect to be thrown off schedule sometimes.  Get back on track as soon as you can.

Ethelyn Sharpe- PEN Parent Educator out of Cheyenne

Where do babies come from?  What is sex?  Why are boys and girls different?  These are all questions that can make parents stutter and stammer.  Why is it so hard for us to talk to our children about sex?  Is there an easy way?  Most  experts agree that keeping things simple and the lines of communication open are key elements to talking to children about sex, but even with those ideas in place, it’s not easy!  Hopefully, here are some tips to make it a little less painful!

Do keep it simple.  Start with minimal information, and wait for your child to ask another question.  Young children might be satisfied with “mom has a special place in her body that grows a baby”, where an older child will want to know how the baby got there. 

Decide with your partner what values you want to teach to your children.  What do you want to teach, as a family?  Abstinence, responsible premarital sex?  When do you talk about birth control?  For daughters, is using Birth Control Pills an option?  If so, at what age?  Are you willing to buy condoms for your sons?

Use outside resources.  As mentioned in the previous blog, talk to your pediatrician.  Also, books are a good option.   Clergymen and school counselors can also be a great resource.

Keep your sense of humor.  Let’s face it, sometimes things are just funny.  Being able to laugh and not treat the subject as “taboo” does help keep the lines of communication open.

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