Tips to get through the holidays - mother teacher dreamer

Tips to Get Through the Holidays


Less Stress and More Joy

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Tips to get through the holidays

Halloween is over, the weather seems to be changing and the music has begun.  It is clear that the holidays are coming.  Although this is described as the ‘most wonderful time of the year’, it can be insanely stressful, especially for the teaching mother.  There are presents to buy, cookies to bake, events to attend and of course trying to find time to spend with your family.  But it doesn’t have to be a complete ball of stress.  If you follow these simple tips to get through the holidays, you will find yourself with less stress and more joy.


Start Planning Now

This may be the last thing that you want to hear, but starting now will take the stress away.  I know, I know, we haven’t finished the turkey yet, it is too soon; but taking a half an hour to plan the next six weeks could eliminate so much stress.  Make a list, set your guidelines, plan your activities and the holidays will fall into place.  


Personally, every year, the day after Halloween, I make a list of the people I will be shopping for during the holidays and I set my purchase amount.  If I know that I am only spending a certain amount, I find myself looking at gifts a little more creatively.

Shopping Can be a Fun Activity

If you don’t wait until the last minute, shopping for others can be a lot of fun.  Take some time to explore your town, check out the cute shops that you didn’t have time for before.  Consider it part of the holiday experience.  There are also amazing things on Etsy, or you can buy crafts and make some of your gifts.  When you view it as part of the holidays rather than a chore, shopping can add to the festive atmosphere.

Use the Save For Later Feature

The save for later button on Amazon has changed my life.  Whenever I have a few minutes of downtime, I browse the categories on Amazon and put gift ideas in my cart.  Then when I have a few extra dollars I buy some of it.  The rest I click ‘save for later’.  It keeps the gifts in my cart area, but allows me to only buy a few things at a time.  Sometimes I need time to re-think an item our two, sometimes I just need to wait until payday.  But either way, I don’t lose the items and if anything changes, Amazon lets me know.

Amazon Gift Cards

Seriously, these are the best gift ever.  I love getting them and everyone loves receiving them.  It is a great way to say thank you or you are special to me.  They are quick and easy to get.  If you feel like you just can’t figure out what to get someone, you can’t go wrong with an Amazon gift card.


Holiday Treats that are a Hit

It is the season for parties and cookie swaps.  Don’t let these things stress you out or steal your holiday spirit.  Select a treat to bring that you are sure will be a hit.  When you know everyone is going to love what you bring, it makes it that much better.  I personally suggest these Brownie Bombs!  The are delicious and will definitely make you the star of the party.  And again, when you are baking, make it part of the holiday festivities.  The attitude we go into things with is usually the attitude we maintain; keep it positive.

Put the Time in Where it Matters

The holiday season is truly about appreciating the love and joy you have in your life.  During the holidays don’t spread yourself so thin that you don’t have any energy left for those who deserve it.  When you create your holiday plan, don’t try to do everything, try to do the things that will matter.  Spend time with the people that you love and that bring you joy.  Remember, we can’t be everything to everyone.


Find the Joy

Remember to do what makes you happy.  If you like the way a Christmas tree looks, then put it up today.  Order a pizza and make a night of it.  If you find your colleagues are feeling a little stressed out, start an ugly sweater contest.  If you love to sing, recruit some friends and actually go caroling.  Find the things that will make you and others happy during the holidays.


Remember to be Kind

This time of year isn’t easy for everyone and some years are harder than others.  People are dealing with loss and hardships,  the holidays can hurt for some people.  Always keeps this in mind, kindness is a gift.  It is a gift you can give to everyone, everyday.


Don’t spend the holiday season stressing, remember it isn’t about gifts and money, it is about joy and love.  Make sure you are giving what really matters.


I hope these tips to get through the holidays help!

tips to get through the holidays mother teacher dreamer

There aren't enough ways to say thank you

Thank you – An Open Letter to Daycare Teachers

An Open Letter to Daycare and Preschool Teachers

There aren’t enough ways to say thank you!

Thank you – An Open Letter to Daycare and Preschool Teachers

Everyday, I wake up, frantically plow through the morning routine, drop my child off at daycare and  pray that I actually make it to work on time.  Then for eight hours, I give everything I have to my job.  Work ends, I rush home, pick up my children, make dinner, do our evening and nighttime routines, put my daughter to bed and usually collapse on the couch.  There are days that fly by for me in such a blur that I have trouble distinguishing one from the last.  But today, I need to take a moment to stop and thank the most important people of the day, the people who makes everything possible: my daughter’s daycare teachers.  

There are not enough ways to say thank you to these amazing people.  This  letter ,I am sure , will only scratch the surface of what you mean to us, but please let me publicly thank you for all that you have done and all that you do.

As a mother and a teacher, I understand very well what it means to teach and care for another person’s child.  I understand balancing multiple personalities and needs in the classroom.  Being a teacher is hard work, however, being a daycare and preschool teacher is a whole other thing.  The grace, joy and beauty you bring into my child’s life is a gift you give us everyday.  Everyday when we leave your classroom, my daughter and I say thank you, today I want you to know exactly what I am thanking you for.


Thank you – An Open Letter to Daycare and Preschool Teachers

Thank you - An Open Letter to Daycare and Preschool Teachers

Your Love

I know you love my child.  I know, because she loves you.  She talks about you at home and she tells me about what you did.  I hear her singing the songs that you taught her.  She smiles when I ask about you.  And when we talk about who we love, your name is always at the top of our list.


Your Help

I have given up trying to balance it all, there is no way I can do it.  So some things slip, sometimes things aren’t done well or aren’t done at all.  But the help you give our family makes a big difference.  Just a tiny example of the type of help I am grateful for I see everyday in my daughter’s school picture.  As a first time mom, doing a little girl’s hair can be so overwhelming, they squirm, everything hurts and their hair grows very unevenly.  It took me a very long time to be even half-way decent at doing it.  And when school picture day came around, I was not good at all.  You were the one that made her look so cute, you put her hair in perfect little ponies and everytime I look at that picture, I think of how grateful I am for you.


Encouraging me

Most days as a mom, I have no idea what I am doing.  As a middle school teacher, I have a tool kit.  I know strategies and I have skills at working with adolescents.  But raising a two year old?  This is my first time at the rodeo and often I am at a complete loss.  Your words of encouragement mean more to me than you could ever know.  When you tell me about how well my daughter did something or compliment me on my parenting, you make me feel like maybe I am not totally messing up.  When you let me know that something isn’t a big deal and I don’t have to feel guilty, I take your advise.  You mean more to me than you know.  Thank you.


Understanding and Knowing the Age

I know you know.  I trust that you know. And I am so thankful that you know.  When I see my daughter doing something or not doing something for that matter, I look to you to see if it is okay.  I can always trust that you will know if is age appropriate, something I should get checked out or be impressed by.  You know two (and three and four) far better than I do and I am so grateful.


Celebrating and Commiserating

It means so much to me to have someone who actually cares about my silly little mom stories.  You cheer my daughter on, you celebrate her successes and you support and commiserate with me when things get hard.  You honestly get excited for her and when things get tough, you worry about her.  


Being my Friend

You may not know this, but there are days that you are the only adult I get to talk to.  When I walk in the door, you always have a minute or two listen to me about my day.  You smile, you listen and you care.  Thank you.  There are days that I feel invisible and overwhelmed.  Your kindness and concern lift my spirits and always make my day better.


Teaching my Baby

Because of you, my daughter has learned so many things.  She shares, she sings, she loves to color with markers.  She tells me that she is bringing home a baby bumble-bee.

You taught her that.  When things don’t go her way, she says, “It happens.”  You taught her that.  And when she sees the letter M, she shouts, “Mommy, it’s you!”.  M is for mommy, you taught her that too.  Thank you!


Helping me to Raise my Child

If I could, I would stay home.  I would be a stay-at-home mom.  But that doesn’t work for our family.  So I go to work and my daughter goes to daycare.  During the school year, she spends nearly a third of her day at daycare, most of the hours that she is awake.  It is not an exaggeration when I say thank you for helping me raise my daughter.  You are helping me to teach her right from wrong, to share, to be kind.  You are helping to instill the values that truly matter: be a good and honest person.  


When we leave everyday and say thank you, this is what we mean.  This is why we are grateful.  

Whether you know it or not, you are a part of our family.  There truly are no words to thank you for all you have done.  But please always know, no matter where you go, no matter what you do, we will be eternally grateful.  Thank you and we love you!


Thank you – An Open Letter to Daycare and Preschool Teachers

Starting the School Year with Kindness

Starting the School Year with Kindness

Starting the School Year With Kindness

Tips and Strategies for Starting the School Year with Kindness at Home and School

What we need now, more than ever is kindness.   We must treat each other with kindness, compassion and empathy.  We say it, we know it, but often what we forget is that kindness must be taught, it must be practiced.  Telling others to be kind is a great reminder, but as mothers and as teachers, we must teach our children how to be kind, foster and encourage the skill  By starting the school year with kindness we can embed it into our lives and the lives of our children.

Routines of Kindness


Kindness starts at home, our actions are reflected to the world.  The way we treat each other at home is how our children will treat everyone they come in contact with.  If we want a kinder world, a world that treats everyone with kindness and respect, we must teach this to our children.  A way to do this is to create routines for your home that actively teach kindness.  There are many ways to do this:

  • A phrase that you greet one another with
  • A phrase that you end every phone call with
  • A prayer that included kindness before meals
  • Give a daily compliment to every family member
  • When a family member is talking, listen and make eye contact
  • Always remember manners
  • Family Kindness Tracker (Free Family Kindness Tracker download)

As teachers, we are role models for our students.  It is unfair to expect them to do anything without actively teaching it, this includes kindness.  We may not be able to change what we have to do in the classroom, but we do have the power to change how we do it.  If we teach with kindness in our hearts and establish routines of kindness, we create a safe and caring environment for our students.

  • Greet students at the door individually
  • Start class with a phrase of kindness
  • Have a personal interact with every student every day
  • Smile
  • Make eye contact with your students, ask them to do so in return
  • Always start a constructive conversation with a compliment

Kind Act of the Week


As a family, decide upon an act of kindness that you will complete each week.  This can be completed as a family or each family member can decide on their own.  Actively taking time out of your week to do something kind directed at someone reminds us how important it is work on making the world a better place.  Possible kind acts to complete each week are:

  • Volunteering at a soup kitchen, shelter, rescue agency
  • Pack up and donate unused toys and/or clothing
  • Visit or call an older/lonely family member or friend
  • Complete another family member’s daily/weekly responsibility (cook dinner, take out garbage)
  • Take the unexpected opportunity to help another person (carry someone’s groceries to the car, help the person who broke down in front of your house

As a class community explain that part of being a member of your class comes with the expectation that everyone will do their best to complete a kind act a week.  Every act of kindness will be posted, anonymously, on a post it and placed on a bulletin board in the classroom.  Kind acts will be shared, but not for individual recognition, but to acknowledge all the good being done.  Ways for students to complete an act of kindness at school:

  • Helping someone carry their books
  • Picking up something someone dropped
  • Giving someone a pen or pencil when they need it
  • Listen to a friend who is having a hard day
  • Give a compliment and expect nothing in return
  • Play, share or talk to another student that appears to not have anyone else

Kindness Project


As a family, decide upon a long-term project to involve your family in that will help to make this world a better place.  This does not have to be the biggest project in the world.  Often times, we take on too much and never finish it.  Start small, a project is anything you need to do more than once to complete.  Once you and your family get the hang of it, add more time and depth to your projects.  Here are some ideas to get your family started:

  • Train for and complete a fun run for a cause
  • Participate in any type of a-thon (dance-a-thon, read-a-thon) for a non-profit organization
  • Help raise money for an organization
  • Become a volunteer at a nursing home
  • Grow something at a community garden
  • Become a board member for a volunteer organization
  • Foster a rescue animal

A class kindness project is a great way to bring a class together and have them work on something with real world applications.  As a group, the class can decide on a project, work together on it and see how their work has helped to make the world a better place.  Spending time, returning to a project and seeing your work make difference is lesson that will stay with our students forever.  Some possible ideas to get your students thinking are:

  • Identifying a local issue and make steps to improve it
  • Design and paint a school mural
  • Create a school club dedicated to kindness
  • Write a group children’s book about kindness
  • Identify a local non-profit organization and create a relationship with them

Ground Rules


Everyone gets frustrated, everyone gets angry, but by setting home ground rules before these things happen is a way to keep kindness always present at home.  Some kindness home ground rules are:

  • No name calling
  • Listen first and respond
  • Make eye contact when talking
  • Stop and try to think about how the other person feels
  • Acknowledge other people’s feelings

Every class needs ground rules.  These rules depend on a teacher’s style, but if we make sure our rules are rooted in kindness, we can create a place where everyone feels respected and cared for.  Some possible rules are:

  • Make eye contact with others when talking
  • Listen and let others finish talking, try not to interrupt
  • Respond to what other say, rather than just saying what we want
  • Include new people in our groups, don’t let anyone feel left out
  • Be open to new ideas, new experiences and new people

Dedicate Time for Sharing


When school starts it is so easy to get caught up in the hectic routine that is created, that we forget to talk to one another.  Taking time out of the day or week to share what we done and how we feel is necessary.  By sharing we can empathize with one another, an important skill to practice and we will also have our own feelings and our family members’ feelings validated.  Ways to share are:

  • Sharing during dinner
  • A Caring about Sharing jar – Write a note about something you want share, drop it in the jar and once a week share all the notes in the jar.  (Free Caring about Sharing jar labels download)
  • Have a weekly family meeting
  • Have a family signal for when someone needs a person to stop and listen to how they feel

When deadline approach and assignments need to be finished, one of the first things that teachers do is begin to move a little faster, cut out unnecessary things.  But remember, listening to students, letting their voices be heard, discussing how they feel and what kind things they have done is important.  Here are some ways to build in sharing time in your class.

  • Schedule time weekly for open sharing about kindness
  • Spend time talking and sharing during passing or transition times
  • Create a weekly warm-up activity that includes sharing thoughts of kindness
  • Meet with groups of students and share about your life, listen to stories about theirs
  • Ask students questions and honestly listen to their responses
  • Share details about yourself and allow questions


We must teach kindness and empathy at home and school if we expect our children to act through kindness and empathize with others.  If you want the world to be a better place, you must actively try to make it better, just talking about it doesn’t change it, you must do something.  We have all heard the phrase from Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”  If you wish to see a kinder world, be kind and teach kindness.  By starting the school year with kindness at home and school, you will embed it not only your life, but in your children as well.

Don’t forget to download your freebies!!  They are a great way to help with starting the school year with kindness.

Family Kindness Tracker

To use the Family Kindness Tracker, hang in a very visible place in the house.  Write every family members name down  on the top of the tracker.  Every family member gets a check for every day of the week that they are kind, have good manners and follow directions.  Checks can also be earned by completing random acts of kindness, showing kindness to your family or any other way the family decides.  Check are added up at the end of the week.  The higher the family total the more kindness the family has shown.  Use it to challenge your family and yourself.

Caring about Sharing jar labels

Attach Caring about Sharing labels to a mason jar.  Every time anyone has something that they would like to share, but no one is around or everyone is busy, write a note and drop it in the jar.  Schedule a time once a week to read and talk about every note.

We all need more kindness in our lives.  If you have any other ideas we can add to the list of Starting the School Year with Kindness, please share your ideas in the comments below.


If you like Starting the School Year with Kindness, consider reading, A Dream of Kindness.

Starting the School Year with Kindness


Dream of Kindness

A Dream of Kindness


Proverbs 3:3

Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart.

Kindness, a simple term we are taught when we are small.  I am currently teaching my daughter to be kind, to care, to treat others as we want to be treated.  Yet as we get older, as the world become smaller digitally, but far more distant personally; kindness is one of the first things we lose.  We become hurried, we become self-involved, we feel stressed and one of the natural reactions to the overwhelmed feeling of life is to shorten our interactions with others, to be brusque, in essence we lose our kindness.  


As the world gets crazier, what we need now, more than ever is kindness.  We need kindness in our lives and in our hearts.  From what I can see and my experience in life, it is the kindness that matters.  We have all heard the quote from Maya Angelou, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  I want people to remember me and the kindness I showed.  I want to wrap people around me and those invested in my life in the knowledge that I want to live in a world that is kind; I want us all to feel safe.


In our world today, we have many topics to debate, policies to discuss and opinions that we hold deep in our hearts.  We feel that our own beliefs, values and moral compasses are threatened when others disagree with our important issues.  However, we can have these conversations with kindness in our hearts.  We can disagree without being disagreeable, discuss without fighting.  We can be kind to one another even when we do not believe the same things.  It doesn’t cost a thing to be kind.  


Of course we will disagree, we cannot grow without change.  Growth and change come from knowledge, which many times will conflict with what we previously believed.  However, when we feel threatened, we can lash out; but with all the conflict, division and fear, the last thing this world needs in more anger.  Instead I ask you, when you are discussing a topic that can cause conflict, can you share your message with kindness?  Can you inspire a change of heart without inflicting fear?  


We all know the playground bully hurts others in an effort to feel better about themselves.  They tear others down to help build themselves up.  We teach children that this is wrong, but once our own opinions are threatened, we revert back to this behavior.  We act as though, for me to be right, you must be wrong.  To prove my beliefs are correct, I must tear down yours.  We have watched this behavior all our lives, but if we stopped, if we let kindness rule, maybe we could see a change.  If you didn’t have to be wrong for me to be right, if we disagree, discuss and find ways to respect each other, while remaining kind, everyone of us would feel happier and safer.


I know that life can be hard.  I know that horrible and painful things happen to everyone.  But simple kindness is always achievable.  We can smile at others when our heart aches, we can hold a door for a stranger and we can hold the hand of someone in pain.  It is possible to stop and remind ourselves that our actions impact everyone around us.  We just have to remember once in awhile, that it isn’t all about me.  Everyone out there is fighting their own battle, we can help support them just by being kind.


Of course, I realized that I am not perfect.  I forget to be nice; heck, I’m a middle school teacher, sometimes I lose it completely.  But my dream, is to set my foundation in kindness, to “not let kindness and truth leave”.  If we can teach kindness, act through kindness and remind ourselves to be kind even when it is hard, we can make the world a better place.