Archives for August 2013

The Art of Time Management

Today’s blog post is submitted by our summer contributor, Nicole Kalita.

Ah, the summer months have been so nice! As an instructor for LBCC’s Parent Education Department, I get to enjoy a break from my teaching duties and spend most of my summer enjoying time with my family and friends. Unfortunately, summer is quickly coming to an end and reality of the school year is hitting my house hard this year. My oldest son is starting Kindergarten, my youngest is going to be in speech classes 2-3 days per week, and my Live & Learn classes will be starting up again shortly. And as excited as we all are for the school year to start, I’m a nervous wreck about the logistics of managing three schedules and getting all of us where we need to be when we need to be there. As a way to help allay the stress that I have been feeling I thought I would focus this week’s blog post on time management tips.

Set Reasonable Expectations

If you are anything like me, you can get overwhelmed easily and at the same time take on too many things at once. Try not to overbook yourself – it’s just as necessary to schedule “down time” for you and your family as it is to schedule in grocery shopping and doctor appointments. If you don’t schedule in time to relax, you will burn out quickly.  So, think before you agree to sign up for extras. Do you really have the time to add in one more activity for you or your children? If yes, then go for it! But if the answer is no, gracefully decline.

Have a Set Routine

Schedules help you get out of the house and where you need to be on time. Routines help us know what is coming next. For example, your schedule dictates that you have to be out of the house by 8:00 a.m. You probably have routines in place to get yourself ready for that schedule. Perhaps you set an alarm to wake you up so you can take a shower, have your cup of coffee, before you wake the children up. Maybe you make breakfast while they are getting dressed, then after they brush their teeth, they can watch TV before you have to leave at 8:00. Perhaps, when the kids get home from school, you have snack ready, then they have some quiet time to unwind before it’s time for homework while you make dinner. Whatever your routines are, know that if you can have it set in stone, it will help keep your day moving for your family easier.

Enlist Help

Nobody can do it by themselves and it’s important to have support. I have a list of friends and family who are available to watch my boys or handle drop-offs/pick-ups when needed. I seriously do not know what I would do without my “mom friends” to help me out when I need it.

I also lean on my husband… a lot… I’m lucky to have a partner who helps with the chores, enjoys cooking, will put the boys to bed, etc. I’m pretty sure my house and my life would be chaos without him by my side in this adventure!

And don’t forget to lean on your children for a little help, too. Remember to keep it age appropriate, but they can be responsible for some of the household chores, too.

Be prepared

I am not a morning person. So I find getting things done the night before is essential to making morning routines run smoothly. Have backpacks ready to go the night before; lay out clothes before bedtime; shower at night; clean the kitchen before bed; know what is on the schedule for the next day so you can mentally plan how it will run.

Meal Plan

Last, but not least, plan out your meals for the week – breakfast, lunches, and dinners. Not only does this help with the grocery bill, it also takes the guess work out of meal prep. If your schedule dictates that you or your partner is gone during one meal, the other knows exactly what they are making. You also have the satisfaction of knowing you are providing healthy, well balanced meals for your family. Pre-prep as much as you can, especially for lunches. Portion out items that need to be, such as veggies and dry snacks. This way, when a busy morning hits you can just grab items for the lunch box, make a quick sandwich, and go.


What are your tips for managing your family’s schedules? How do you ensure that there is down time for all while keeping busy?


Nicole Kalita is a mother of two young boys. She has a degree in Human Development and Family Sciences and has been working with families for 11 years. During the school year she teaches the Live & Learn classes in Albany, Oregon through Linn-Benton Community College. 


Team Parenting

Today’s blog post is submitted by our summer contributor, Kara Olsen-Becerra.

Almost five months ago, we had big changes happening at my house. I went from being a stay-at-home mom working 6-8 hours a week on the side, to working almost 30 hours a week at a new job. I knew that this would be a huge adjustment for our family, and I of course wanted the transition to be as smooth as possible for everyone involved. My husband and I were able to coordinate our schedules so that he could spend more time with the kids so that we would be able to limit the amount of childcare that we would need. I knew that Chris was completely capable of being there for my kids, but I also knew that I would have to start warming up to the idea that he would not necessarily run things at home exactly the same as I would.

If we can rewind back to when Chris and I were dating, I have to say that I always knew that he would make a great father. He is such a loving and loyal person, and he has always been great with kids. I guess I never really thought about how all of the details would play out, but I was sure that he would be the person that I wanted to parent with. When our first daughter was born, I not only got to fall in love with her, but I also felt like I got to fall in love with Chris in his new role as a dad. He was hands on and so supportive from the very beginning. I never doubted Chris or his love for our daughter, but I sometimes would become annoyed at the way he did things. He would do do silly things like snap the onesie over the top of Sofia’s pants, and I would remind him that they needed to go underneath the pants. I remember being frustrated when my children came home and excitedly told me how daddy had taken them to ice cream that morning. I’m sure that I gave Chris an “Are you crazy?” look and then later reminded him that ice cream is not a morning thing, ever.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that being critical of the everyday differences in our parenting, was not helping us work as a team. Although we were on the same page and in agreement with how we wanted to parent in general, it took me a long time to realize that we would inevitably have some differences in styles or opinions, because well, we are different people. We were raised in different homes with different ways of doing things, and we were each born with our own temperaments and quirks.

Through my experiences teaching the Live and Learn with Your Baby class for many years, I learned that I was not alone with my experiences. I would hear mom after mom talk about how it was really hard for them when their partners did things differently than how they would have done things. For many moms who are so very attached to their sweet babies, it is really hard to let go of control and to be open to the idea that there can be more than one way of doing things. Now I know that there can be differences in parenting that can be serious, especially when there is abuse or neglect involved. This is not what I am referring to. I am referring to preferences and ideas of how small things should be done on a daily basis.

Fast forward back to the present, and I am still amazed daily at the love Chris has for our children, and with how much they adore him in return. Although I have learned a lot about how to parent as a team, I am still learning when to bite my tongue as I am deciding whether or not I really need to let Chris know my annoyance at how he has done something. Like the other day when Chris dropped my kids off to me at work with my two year old covered from head to toe in paint. Or when I get home from work and see that my kids have had something less than ideal (in my standards) for dinner.

On the flip side, I’ve realized that Chris isn’t always in agreement with how I do things, but he definitely was quicker to learn that it is okay to have different ideas and opinions sometimes. It is possible that we can have differences in how we do a lot of things, and we can still be unified team. Our differences can actually be part of what makes us work well together. We each have different strengths and weaknesses that we bring to the table, but our kids can experience some balance as we try to navigate parenting together. We do after all have the same mission of raising happy, kind, and productive human beings.

The beautiful thing about opening my eyes to and being more accepting of our differences, is that I am more clearly able to see the good in our team and individual efforts. I see how happy my kids are when Chris takes the kids on a long bike ride, or how wide their eyes are with excitement as he reads them a comic book. I can choose my battles and when I see my two year old covered in paint, I can be critical or I can assume that a really good time was had with daddy that day. When either one of us is running short on patience with our kids, the other one is usually able to offer some fresh perspective and step in to help out. The more we both support each other and focus on the good, the more we are each inspired to be the best that we can be.

One of my favorite pictures of Chris with the kids

One of my favorite pictures of Chris with the kids

Kara Olsen-Becerra loves working with children and families. She taught the Live and Learn with Your Baby classes in Corvallis for 6 years, and she is currently working as a nutrition educator with the Linus Pauling Institute-Healthy Youth Program. She loves being a part of this great community, and she loves being silly and playing with her husband and three young children.



Today’s blog post is submitted by our summer contributor, Kara Olsen-Becerra.

Although many parts of being a parent stays constant throughout time, we are living in a time now where there are some distinct differences from when our parents were raising us. Social media and networking are relatively new ways for parents to connect with other like minded parents, share tips and ideas, and learn new information that can help us reflect on how we would like to do things in our homes. Social media can be a great and efficient way to connect people. For example, the Parenting Success Network is now able to reach a wider audience than just the parents who attend our local parenting classes.

Although staying connected with many other parents through the internet can be beneficial in many ways, it can also sometimes leave us parents feeling like we aren’t doing anything right. Parents are constantly updating their facebook pages, blogs, and instagram with pictures that would make it appear that they totally have their acts together. We see pictures of sweet smiling, siblings hugging each other,parents bragging that their 5 year old just finished reading the whole “Little House on the Prairie” series, or pictures of the five course meal that a mom friend made for her family that night. It’s not to say many of these people truly aren’t happy or doing great things in their lives, because most of them probably are. It’s just that people can sometimes be very selective sometimes about what they choose to share. Parents definitely can choose to portray their lives in a way through social media that may or may not reflect what their actual lives look like on a daily basis. Take this picture, for example, taken of my family a couple of weeks ago:


Another person looking at this picture may see a smiling family who loves to stroll around holding hands all day.  A family where everyone is almost always happy and where everyone seems to always get along. Yes, I love my family very much and although we try our best to be a happy family, there was a lot going on that day that isn’t portrayed in this picture. My husband Chris was running a high fever this day at our family reunion, our two year old kept running away as we are trying to take a picture, and our older two were teasing each other throughout the whole process. I was stressed wishing my vacation from work and time with family was going more smoothly.  There was a lot more behind the scene stress than you can imagine from looking at this picture.

I am not suggesting that people stop posting their happy pictures and experiences. I love reading about the great things my friends and family members are up to. I love when other people are positive and share the beauty in their lives. I also appreciate when parents share their everyday struggles and when people can be vulnerable enough to sometimes admit that they don’t know all of the answers. We aren’t supposed to know the answers, right? We are all in this together, and it is nice when parents can lend support to one another.

When we as parents see all of the seemingly perfect things people post about their lives, it can be really hard not to compare ourselves. We often times compare what we see as our worst to someone’s best. We wonder why our children don’t behave more in a certain way or why we feel like we are barely keeping things together sometimes when it appears everyone else around us has it all figured out.

As we become more confident in our parenting abilities and efforts, we can start to cut ourselves some slack. We know that even families who are trying their very best still have their struggles and trials. We know that although raising children can be extremely rewarding and fulfilling, it is also really hard. I know that I am personally working on being more gentle with myself. I know that I don’t do everything right as a parent, and that’s okay. I lose my patience with my kids too often, and I often feel like I can’t meet everyone’s needs how I want to (including my own at times). It’s okay to have a hard day with the kids and say, “Today mommy was really grumpy. I l love you, and I’m really sorry, let’s try again tomorrow.”

The next time that you feel yourself starting to be hard on yourself and comparing yourself to someone else, take a moment to think about a few things that you are doing well as a parent. None of us are perfect parents, but luckily our kids don’t need perfect parents, but they do need us  (and all of our flaws) to be there for them, to teach them, and to listen to them even if we are figuring things out as we go.

The Parenting Success Network knows that parenting can be hard, and we are here to offer you resources and parenting support. Everyone needs cheerleaders along the way, and we are happy to cheer you all on through your parenting journey.

Kara Olsen-Becerra loves working with children and families. She taught the Live and Learn with Your Baby classes in Corvallis for 6 years, and she is currently working as a nutrition educator with the Linus Pauling Institute-Healthy Youth Program. She loves being a part of this great community, and she loves being silly and playing with her husband and three young children.


Toilet Training

Today’s blog post is submitted by our summer contributor, Nicole Kalita.

It’s messy. It’s frustrating. It’s time consuming. It’s stressful. It’s OH SO rewarding! And it’s a topic that is on the mind of every parent of a young child – toilet training. When will it happen? Why hasn’t it happened? Will it happen?

You might be wondering, “what is the right age to start this process?” The answer isn’t an “age” at all, it is actually waiting until your child is ready. The signs your child is ready include:

  • Are they aware of when they have a dirty diaper? Are they asking you for a change right after they pee or poop in their diaper because they are uncomfortable?
  • Can your child stay dry for at least two hours a time? Are they waking up from nap with a dry diaper?
  • Can your child dress and undress themselves – particularly can they pull their pants on and off?
  • Are they showing interest in the routine/process? Do they want to observe you while you are using the toilet?

Your child might be 18 months when they are at this stage or they might be four years old. All of it is “normal”. It’s important to remember not to force it on your child. If you start trying and they don’t seem to be “getting it”, try it again later. The more you let it happen naturally, the easier it will be. You probably don’t know many Kindergartners who are still wearing diapers…

Here are some tips from parents who have been there:

  1. Patience, patience, patience – toilet training is a bumpy road. You’ll have really successful days and others you will wonder if your child completely forgot what they seemed to know yesterday. Think of it as 2 steps forward, one step back.
  2. Not every child uses the same technique – what works for your best friend’s daughter, might not work for your son. You’ll find your groove and what works with your child.
  3. Try not to set deadlines – often when we start the adventure of toilet training, we want to set a deadline, “I want to have him trained by _____”. This can put a lot of extra pressure and stress on you and your child. It’s better to just “go with the flow”, if you will, and let it happen naturally.
  4. Don’t start training too close to a big life event – if you have a new baby on the way, are about to move, or there is some sort of other major event happening in your child’s life, it might not be the right time to train your older child. Often times, a child will regress when the life change happens and you may find yourself starting all over again from the beginning.
  5. Be prepared for it to suck – Toilet training is a process. One that many parents don’t realize takes time. You might find that your child will be “trained” at home, but not away from home. They might have daytime use of the toilet down, but are still wetting the bed at night. Your child might be scared by public toilets (they are loud, some flush automatically, there is sometimes added pressure to “hurry” if there is a long line, etc.). Be ready for these challenges and be patient with your child. They will figure it out, with time and your help.
  6. Be prepared for accidents – have a change of clothes for your child with you at all times. A friend of mine came up with this brilliant idea of keeping the following items in a Ziploc bags in case of accidents while in public – keep one in your purse and several in the car for when you need it: 
    • 2 paper towels: to clean up the mess 
    • A washcloth: to clean up your child 
    • A fresh pair of underwear 
    • A clean pair of pants 
    • A clean pair of sock 
    • Use the Ziploc bag as a place to put the wet clothes after you’ve cleaned up your child.
  7. Stay positive and smile – Your child’s success will be affected by how you react to their accidents. Let them know that accidents happen and it’s OK. They will get another chance to try it again. Your smile will calm them down if they are upset.

Remember you are not the first and are not the last parent to go through this process. For more tips on toilet training, visit the toilet training section on the American Academy of Pediatrics website. The end goal will happen – someday, they will be out of diapers and independently using the toilet. In the meantime, feel free to sneak a few of the “potty treats” as your reward for getting through the day!

Nicole Kalita is a mother of two young boys. She has a degree in Human Development and Family Sciences and has been working with families for 11 years. During the school year she teaches the Live & Learn classes in Albany, Oregon through Linn-Benton Community College.