1001 Tips for Military Families – Tip #460


Easter Hunt for Tweens and Teens (Updated)

FullSizeRender (15)

A couple of puzzle pieces in each egg and sometimes a chocolate egg or two!


With Easter coming, the pressure is on to prepare an Easter Egg hunt and with them being older, they needed a challenge and we have a dog so hiding chocolate eggs isn’t great.  My kids don’t want to give up being kids so I am all for that for as long as I can get it!   This was a big hit last year and I decided that I would do it again.  I bought two 100 piece puzzles, will write on the back of it using markers with the clue to where the baskets were hidden.  Being teenagers, I have written two messages on each of the puzzles.  I will then put the puzzle pieces in plastic eggs and when they finished the puzzle they would be able to discover where their baskets were hidden.

You will need: permanent marker, plastic eggs, two puzzles exactly the same and a few jelly beans, mini chocolate eggs and something you are giving them hidden in a safe location. 

Directions:

1) Buy 2 puzzles (got mine at Walmart this year and chose two 100 piece puzzles to add the to the challenge I bought two different puzzles)

2) Use a permanent marker and write your message across both puzzles. 

Message Is: Hoppy Easter! Your baskets are somewhere in the laundry room!

Message Is: Hoppy Easter! Your baskets are somewhere in the laundry room!

3) Mix both of the puzzles together and then put a couple of puzzle pieces in each egg (sometimes I put some jelly beans or chocolate in the plastic eggs to keep them fueled up)

FullSizeRender (14)

Two puzzles mixed together

 

4) Count how many plastic eggs you hide so you know when they have all their puzzle pieces 

5) Hide eggs and then enjoy an hour or so of watching them work together to figure it out, make a coffee and put your feet up! 

Happy Hunting!

For more information about our tips, resources and books go to: www.whileyouwereaway.org

Join us on Facebook at: While You Were Away

 

 

Advertisements

Living It – Week 29


Tip # 445 – When They’re Back Box

When You Are Back Box

It is now at the point where my kids can see the light at the end of the incredibly long tunnel. They are beginning to talk about plans and what they want to do when Dad gets home. I will admit that I have started a list of things that I can’t wait to hand over. But… I also have had to remind the kids (and myself) that my husband was working long hours, was away from all the comforts of home for a long time, didn’t get holidays or weekends and will be tired.  We have decided to take my own advice and we have dusted off the When You’re Back box.  We have used it a few times with great success and we also take the cards when we have done them and put them all up on the wall for awhile to see what we have accomplished.

The idea is that the box sits out on the kitchen table with cards beside it and a couple of markers.  When I or the kids think of something that they want to do when their Dad gets back they write it on the card and stick it in the box.  Then when my husband gets home he randomly chooses a few cards at a time and they set times to do some of them in the week.  This way the kids get things to look forward to and my husband doesn’t feel like he has to do it all the very week he comes home.  We also try to think of a lot of things that have no cost associated with them and mean we will get to just spend time together.  I have already thrown a few boring ones from me of things I have been dying to get down around the house!

Our ‘When You’re Back’ ideas so far:

* Go hiking with the dog

* Read Lord of the Rings together

* See the Matrix movies together

* Go camping

* Play chess

* Go for a bike ride

* Make a big Thai dinner together

* Do a 3km run each week together

* Sign up for an adventure race

* Go out for breakfast together and then drive us to school

* Make a fort in the backyard

* Set up a movie in the backyard

* Have an unChristmas party

* Clean out garage (Mom’s)

* Have a chocolate fondue

* Have a picnic at the park

* Go for ice cream

* Play a round of mini golf

For more information about our tips, books and resources go to: www.whileyouwereaway.org

1001 Tips for Military Families – Tip #460


Easter Hunt for Tweens and Teens 

FullSizeRender (15)

A couple of puzzle pieces in each egg and sometimes a chocolate egg or two!


With Easter coming, the pressure is on me to prepare an Easter Egg hunt solo and with them being older, they needed a challenge.  My kids don’t want to give up being kids so I am all for that for as long as I can get it!   I have always done the prep work and my husband was always the one hiding the eggs in ridiculous places and the kids loved it. The other challenge is that we have a dog so we can’t put chocolate within his reach either.  Last year I decided that I would buy a cheap puzzle, write on the front of it, with permanent marker, the clue to where the baskets were hidden.  I put the puzzle pieces in plastic eggs and when they finished the puzzle they would be able to discover where their baskets were hidden. They loved it but it was a little too easy. This year I believe I have found the key to a Sunday morning that will keep them busy for at least an hour and challenge them to work together – this will also give you time to caffeinate!

You will need: permanent marker, plastic eggs, two puzzles exactly the same and a few jelly beans, mini chocolate eggs and something you are giving them hidden in a safe location. 

Directions:

1) Buy 2 exactly the same 30-36 piece puzzles (got mine at the dollar store)

2) Use a permanent marker and write your message across both puzzles. 

Message Is: Hoppy Easter! Your baskets are somewhere in the laundry room!

Message Is: Hoppy Easter! Your baskets are somewhere in the laundry room!

3) Mix both of the puzzles together and then put a couple of puzzle pieces in each egg (sometimes I put some jelly beans or chocolate in the plastic eggs to keep them fueled up)

FullSizeRender (14)

Two puzzles mixed together

 

4) Count how many plastic eggs you hide so you know when they have all their puzzle pieces 

5) Hide eggs and then enjoy an hour or so of watching them work together to figure it out 

Happy Hunting!

For more information about our tips, resources and books go to: www.whileyouwereaway.org

Join us on Facebook at: While You Were Away

 

 

1001 Tips for Military Families – Tip #433


Military Teen Tips: Risk Taking – Tip #433

There is definitely the false notion that all teens are risk takers by nature and that they don’t need encouragement.  But after working with teens for over 15 years, I would say it is a myth.  Teens will take risks on silly things or things that their friends pressure them into but what about getting them to take risks with things that matter, bring them happiness or get them to challenge what they thought they knew about themselves?  The benefit of being a part of a military family is that there are often more opportunities to take risks as your family is moving to new places, changing schools, experiencing absences, friends are moving and changing and there are constant opportunities to experience new things.  Unfortunately, they don’t see those always as benefits.  It will be up to you to not only point out the advantages but also encourage the ‘good’ risks.  Teach your children the difference between foolish and responsible risk taking.

One way to get them inspired is to create a weekly challenge in the house.  They will enjoy creating a list of ‘risk takers’ for you to accomplish and you will be able to do the same for them.

Sample Risks:

Bungee jump

Go on a mountain climbing course

Try out for a team

Ride a horse

Submit a sample of art, writing, etc. to a publication

Start a conversation with someone you think looks interesting

Tell someone why you love them

Go in a hot air balloon

Enter a competition

Tell the truth all day

Cook a meal from scratch

Climb a tree

Go to a scary movie

Tell someone a secret

Volunteer at a homeless centre or seniors home

Snowboard or water ski

Invite people you would like to get to know better to do something

Ask someone out on a date or tell someone how you feel about them

Learn to drive

Introduce yourself to 5 new people a day for a week

Give a speech

Be in a play

Join a club

Those are just a few examples.  Make sure you are willing and prepared to do anything off the list as well.  Once you each complete your challenge talk about what was rewarding, annoying, difficult, etc.  You’ll be amazed by what your teen learns about themselves and what they can accomplish (not to mention what you can do too!).

For more information about our books, tips or resources go to: www.whileyouwereaway.org

Tips for Military Families with Teens – #41


Music and Movies – Tip #41

I won’t try to pretend that I am a movie or music critic nor that I have exceptional taste in either.  My best friend’s husband usually refuses to come to the movies if he knows I chose them!  As for music, I love nothing more than getting down (in the mini-van) with some top 40 radio station.  I believe, however, that this is partly why I am able to connect with the teens I work with.  I take the time to not just talk to them about their likes and dislikes, I actually listen and watch what they do (when I can stomach it).  This makes conversations so much easier as I am able to ask questions that go beyond “Why do you like them?”.  I am able to ask them about what they like in different characters or scenarios.   I can challenge their thinking about particular artists or lyrics.  Whether or not you work with teens or live with them, I HIGHLY recommend that you are able to do the same.  Their minds are being molded by the internet, music, movies and social networking – I think it is important that you know more than surface level things about their primary interests so that you can challenge their thinking in an informed and genuine way.  They are going to be faced with difficult decisions and your teens feel as though you understand even a little about their lives, thoughts, interests or feelings they may reach out when there are the ‘forks in the road’.

Tips:

* Have the password and access information for their ITunes player on the computer so that you can listen to everything that they have downloaded

* For each thing that you criticize also point out one thing that you like about it (dig really deep if you have to!)

* Check the ringtone on their phone – many of them are actually tunes that come from offensive lyrics

* Make a playlist with all of the songs that you listened to and liked (that they downloaded) and put it in the car

* Look at the ratings of the songs and movies and specifically why they have been rated that way

* Check out sites like: www.kids-in-mind.com that give you a brief outline of what the movie is about and rate it according to sexual content, profanity, violence and gore – it is an easy to navigate site that isn’t too judgemental

This may seem like another task (in an endless list) but you will be rewarded and the benefits will go well beyond the immediate future.  Your kids will get a little bit of a sense that you understand them and they will in turn ask you more questions rather than going to unreliable sources!

For more information about our tips, resources or books go to: http://www.whileyouwereaway.org

To submit a tip of your own, write to: Megan@whileyouwereaway.org

Tips for Military Families – #180


Lists to Motivate – Tip #180

These ideas could be on your fridge door, bathroom door, kitchen door, or any space that you will see each morning before your day really gets into action.  The idea of creating a motivational list is to get your family or yourself thinking positively and re-affirming thoughts and emotions that help you to feel stronger and positive.  Each family member could have their own poster or page with their own list of daily tasks.  All of the tasks on the short list (5 max.) should take only a few seconds to a minute to complete.  You could have a whole family list or have each family member create their own list.  I used a list similar to the one below when my husband was deployed.

Examples:

Everyday tasks, While You’re Away

Compliment someone
Tell someone that I love them
Say something I like about myself
Do something for someone else
Take a picture
Find something to laugh about
Set a goal for myself to do today
Name 5 things that I am grateful for

The idea behind the list being quick and easy to complete is to get yourself motivated to do things each day that are going to make you and those you love and care about feel good and live your life the best ways that you can without taking a lot of energy or precious time.

For more information about our tips, resources or books go to: http://www.whileyouwereaway.org

To submit a tip of your own to us, write to: Megan@whileyouwereaway.org

More Tips for Military Families with Teens – # 62


Make lists – Tip #62

Making “to do” or “wish lists” is a good way to get your teen focused.  When I was doing guidance, on a military base school, I would often start classes or groups with making lists.  It was a quick way to engage the students and they didn’t complain (much) as it was a simple list and they didn’t have to say it out loud (unless they chose to), be judged on their writing skills and it really got them thinking about what truly matters to them and what they really want that goes beyond the immediate future.

 Lists to get your teens thinking:

*  In one year from now I will be…

* The worst things about being a part of a military family are…

* Top ten things I want to do while ____________ is away are:

* This month I want to…

* The five best things about me are:

* The top ten things I will never want to do in my lifetime are…

I firmly believe that it isn’t enough to just talk about things and then move on.  Teens need reminders of the committments that they have made to themselves.  I often tell groups, that I am presenting to, that most people believe that teens are selfish and really don’t need to spend anymore time thinking about themselves but I believe that they aren’t spending time thinking about what is important to them, looking towards their future and setting goals.  They can often get overly consumed in the here and now – who has or hasn’t called/texted, what others are saying/thinking about them and what music they need to download!  While these activities can all be entertaining they can also be distracting and leave them unfocussed on what matters.  Making a list and posting it on the fridge, by the door, over the bathroom mirror, in their room or on their cell phone can re-focus them.  It also means that you are aware of their dreams, goals and plans and will be able to help them along the way (if they let you!).

Keep reminding them that the list isn’t written in stone and that as life changes, so will they and so will their goals.

For more information about our tips, resources or books go to: http://www.whileyouwereaway.org

To submit a tip of your own, write to: Megan@whileyouwereaway.org