Jun 21, 2009


I have been spending a fair amount of time lately reading up on all the different philosophies of allowance and children. Basically, there are a few different opinions.

1) Give no allowance. Just buy your children things as needed or as wanted
2) Give allowance but tie it to chores, grades, etc
3) Give allowance but don't tie it to any specific activity

After reading through the pros and cons of each, we settled on option 3. But in reviewing the various options, it was intriguing to see how they each would fit different families.

Here's our rationale:

We suck at housekeeping. Seriously. So linking any allowance to chores simply wouldn't work. By the age of 6, kids are smart enough to question why you don't have to follow rules that they do. (I got busted tonight for drinking something upstairs which the kids aren't allowed to do) We knew that the chore thing wouldn't work.

But more importantly, we wanted the allowance to be money for whatever they wanted that was given for being part of the family. For behaving like a member of the family - talking at family dinner, getting along with the sibling, hugging your parents (I'm milking that for as long as I can!)

And then, for chores, we give the kids tickets and have a prize cabinet set up. For 50 tickets, you can get a big deck of Pokemon cards. For 10 tickets you can get a glowy, bouncy ball. We figure that this teaches them about working for things they want, delayed gratification, initiative, and saving.

That's our cobbled together allowance strategy. Oh - and we make them donate 1/3 of their allowance to charity. They love writing letters and sticking $1 in the envelope and then getting mail back thanking them for their donation. We think that it's very important to teach them how to give. They are allowed to pick whatever cause they want - my son likes to donate to Toys For Tots and my daughter likes to donate to animal related causes (depending on the animal she loves at the moment).

Anyone else have any allowance strategies?

Jun 16, 2009

Weeknight Meals

Lately, we've been struggling with getting healthy but quick meals on the table for dinner. Both the husband and I have been working a lot of hours and we had gotten into the habit of going out to dinner a little too often.

Since I figure that others are facing the same dilemma, I thought that I'd share our family dinner (which also happened to be under $5)

Balsamic Pork Chops

Trim the fat off of the pork chops if necessary. Spray a pan with cooking spray (or oil if you prefer). Put some spices on the pork - I had lemon pepper seasoning handy. Brown the pork chops. Add in 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar and 1/3 cup chicken broth. Let it cook down until it's a nice glaze for the pork chops.

Review from the twins:

Twin A: Yuck. Pork is gross
Twin B: This is good. Can I try it with more sauce. Oh wow! This sauce makes it super yummy!

Curry Couscous

Boil water, butter, and seasonings. Add couscous. Let sit for 5 min.

Review from the twins:

Twin A: How do you make couscous? It's yummy. It's a little spicy but good. Maybe we could play duck, duck, couscous....laughter
Twin B: I LOVE couscous (spoken with his mouth open)

Pan Roasted Cauliflower

I followed this recipe from 101 Cookbooks and it was great!

Review from the twins:

Twin A: Chewing, chewing....Eeww! That's gross. It tasted good at first but no..
Twin B: Blech!
Husband (who eats no vegetables): This is the best cauliflower I've had. I still don't love it but I can eat it. Wait...is cauliflower healthy? Oh (dishes up more), this is good.

We generally can't find food that all four of us like so this was a pretty successful meal for us. (If Twin A eats anything at all it's a successful meal)

Jun 15, 2009

Research Studies Regarding Children

Several new studies have recently been released regarding various facets of children's health.


A new study has been released which details the affects of parental depression on children. The study finds that there needs to be a focus on full family treatment in cases of parental depression. Since so many women are affected by post partum depression, I think that this study makes a helpful point that just treating one member of the family isn't enough and that having a supportive environment can help with the treatment and monitoring of depression.

Medical Myths:

There have been a lot of articles lately about debunking medical myths: not swimming after eating (a Red Cross misprint in an early First Aid manual), adding cereal to a baby's bottle will make him sleep longer (I can attest that is completely and utterly false - we did it for partial treatment of GERD due to prematurity and the twins still woke every 2 hours), and many more. This article outlines some of the myths.

TV Can Impair Speech Development in Young Children

There's been a lot of debate about television in young children. This is another study pointing out that it may not be the best thing. (sorry to all of you Baby Einstein fans) The gist of the study is that parents talk less to their children if they are parked in front of the TV. My take is if you need 30 minutes of sanity and turn on the TV for a distraction, make up for it by talking more afterwards. We had friends that read the encyclopedia to their children, I read 18th century French poetry (hey, it made them calm down when they were fussy), so just take the time to talk to your children.

PE in schools doesn't impact children's activity level

Another study has found that kids with lots of exercise options at school and those with little have very little difference in their weekly activity levels. The real takeaway of the study is that kids will stop exercising once they are too tired. So if you have your child enrolled in a lot of sports activities but they just want to relax at home, it's okay. Alternatively, if your children want to run wild outside, know that they will eventually come back in once they are tired.

Jun 14, 2009

Parents Eating Habits Have Little Impact on Children

A recent study has (thankfully for me!) shown that there is a weak correlation between parents and their children's eating habits.


  • Children whose parents ate a healthier diet were three times more likely to have a healthy diet compared to the kids whose parents did not have a healthy diet by a factor of 10% - the other 90% is attributed to other factors
  • However, peer influence and television viewing may be more powerful influences on what children eat
  • The study also pointed out that most parents don't eat a healthy diet and another study found that most middle aged adults do not eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
What to do:
  • As a parent, we need to either remain committed to a healthy lifestyle or else commit to a healthy lifestyle.
  • Involve children in cooking and choosing fruit and vegetables. I bring my twins with me to the store and ask them to pick out something new to try each time we are there together.
  • Limit TV or other media wherever possible that advertises to children. We fast forward through all commercials.
  • Talk to your children about why eating healthy is important so that they can over time have the knowledge to make their own decisions and combat peer pressure.
My comments:

Getting my children to eat a healthy diet has been an ongoing struggle. My daughter eats only bland food and my son only likes spicy food. My son is easier to deal with because we can just add hot sauce to just about anything and he'll eat it. My daughter is a lot harder to deal with.

I was a very picky eater as a child (and honestly as an adult as well), so I'm happy to know that only 10% of my child's eating habits will come from me.