Highlights From the Field ~ By Parents, For Parents

Week of February 14, 2011


Happy Valentine's Day! So tell me... will you be going out on a date, or is this just another Monday night for you? Offline I write a column for the local parenting magazine about date nights and it's a struggle coming up with ideas because I'm such a date night slacker! Whether or not you're willing or able to get out tonight, at least you can enjoy a few pieces just for this special day. Happy Valentine's!

Back to the mission,



Must Reads:

10 Fun Ways to Celebrate Valentine's Day With Kids

When you have children, Valentine's Day isn't always about flowers and romance, but it can still be fun. Check out these great ideas for celebrating Valentine's Day with kids of all ages.

Valentine's Day Isn't Just for Lovers

While the idea of a romantic getaway with a significant other may sound like the perfect way to spend Valentines Day, this year it may be impossible to manage. Depending on your unique circumstances, the holiday might not be everything you imagined. Families can still find a way to make the day special; share the love this year with these super ideas!

10 Ways to Protect Your Marriage When You Have Kids

Staying connected is the most important thing you can do for your marriage after you have kids. If you're not sure how to achieve that, or feel overwhelmed even thinking about it, here are 10 ideas for you and your spouse to try.


Squad Buzz

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Managing Editor, Lela Davidson, and Contributing Editor, Rhonda Franz, are featured in the latest Chicken Soup book for parents, Chicken Soup for the Soul: New Moms (Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, March 2011). Both stories are light looks at the challenges facing new mothers.




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Meet Your Squad

Every week we'll talk to a different Parenting Squad writer. We know you'll have your favorites, but we think they are ALL special! This week, meet Contributing Editor Sonja Stewart.

How old are your children, and what's your favorite thing about parenting them at this age?

My son is 2 and my daughter is almost 5. I love the communication that's happening right now. I love that my son has favorite items, and snuggles while still wants to declare his independence. My daughter is learning to read which is so exciting for me. She loves to dance around the house and paint pictures, which is very satisfying to me. I find it easy to encourage exploration when it's something I happen to be interested in as well.

What will you do for Valentine's Day?

I'm not usually a Valentine's Day person. After working in the restaurant industry for years and years, I just see it as a day when you get the worst reservations, at the highest prices, so we like to do nice meals at home. My husband loves to cook, the more elaborate the better. Last year he made coq a vin; this year I'm hoping he does something that involves lamb.

Now that my daughter is enjoying art, I'm planning on making valentines with the kids for dad. I found a choo-choo train valentine printout that says, "I choo-choo choose you," which is hysterical if you've ever seen that episode from "The Simpson's". The husband will get a kick out of it. I think I'm more excited about Valentine's Day this year because of the crafts I can make with my daughter.

Do you have any tips for helping parents with "the balancing act" of life with kids?

Balancing life with kids is tricky. It seems like no matter what I do, I feel like I'm not doing enough, which is out of character for my typically, chilled self. The best thing, for me is to limit internet time. I really try to make my computer time after they're in bed. Also, making lists and using planners helps keep track of when things are happening.

What do you think causes parents to feel isolated and disconnected sometimes?

I think being too busy to make plans with friends makes someone isolated. Being a mom makes for a pretty hectic lifestyle. Even talking on the phone gets pushed aside when kids are small and needy. It seems every time I get on the phone, something happens, so even my phone time gets cut back. It's easy to feel like the only person in the world who struggles with parenting. Looking around at other people doesn't help. "Hey those Duggar people have over a dozen, what's my problem?" I think having realistic goals, and being true to yourself helps with isolation.

Also, it seems like our dreams get shelved once kids come along. Making a date for yourself, without kids once a week, helps you keep in touch with who you were before kids.Take a music class or an art class. Go to a coffee shop and read. Whatever you do, remember it's more difficult to take care of kids when we don't take care of ourselves first.

Steven Tyler or Simon Cowell?

I haven't had television for a while. The last time I had TV was on season three of American Idol. I loved Simon Cowell. I think he's an entertainment genius. He knows what people want. I think X Factor will be huge. I am intrigued by the J.Lo-Steven Tyler combo. It may be worth going over to a friend's house to catch up on all the hype.

Read more about Sonja here, and follow her regular contributions here on Parenting Squad.