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Meal Planning as a Single Father

a father and son make pasta together in the kitchen

Sitting down for a family dinner every night may seem like a 1950s fantasy in today’s busy world, especially for single parents. But the benefits are undeniable: it makes kids less picky, they perform better in school, and it might even reduce your own stress levels!

This doesn’t mean you have to slave away in the kitchen for hours every night — simple meals do the trick just as well. When you add a little ahead-of-time prep to the mix, you may find family dinners both more achievable and more rewarding than you’d ever imagine.

Check out some of the benefits of meal planning, and some tips on how to plan your meals as a single parent.

The Benefits

Saving Money

You’ve probably been tempted by rotisserie chicken or expensive snacks at the grocery store when you’re trying to appease your appetite quickly. But, with a list and a meal plan in hand, it’s much easier to resist those impulses and stay on track with your spending. You can plan in advance and prepare more budget-friendly ingredients—like dried beans—so you aren’t tempted to buy convenience items.

Saving Time

In professional kitchens, chefs don’t chop chives for every dish they garnish — they cut up whole bunches early on to make less work for themselves later. Try this technique yourself by preparing and storing containers of chopped vegetables in your fridge, cooking bulk batches of rice and beans for a week’s worth of easy dinners, or mixing up a bottle of salad dressing. When it comes time to put your meal together, you’ll be assembling ingredients rather than doing all the work at the last minute. If your kids are keen on cooking, they might even enjoy being your prep cooks.

Healthier Eating

When you plan your meals in advance, you’re better able to choose healthy, wholesome options for your kids. It can be hard to remember to eat all your vegetables, let alone make sure the whole family does. Planning meals around vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins ensures you’re meeting their nutritional needs — and yours, too.

Less Waste

Another head of wilted lettuce headed to the compost? If you had a meal plan in place, you probably would have turned it into salad two days ago. When you plan out your meals in advance, you’re only buying what you need, and you’ll be more aware of what you have on hand. This means much less waste.

How to Do It

Get Organized

Is your fridge a mess? The first step to happy meal planning is cleaning out your fridge and cupboard and getting an efficient system in place. When you know what you have on hand, you’re more likely to eat it. Familiarize yourself with what you have, and challenge yourself to use up old ingredients before buying new ones.

Talk to Your Kids

There’s no point planning a meal nobody’s going to eat. Ask your kids what their favorite meals are! You can compromise on how to make their junk food of choice fit into the plan. Pizza isn’t necessarily bad if it’s loaded with veggies, and it makes great leftovers for lunch.

Head Online

While cookbooks still have their place in a kitchen, the internet is one of the best places to turn to for meal planning. Sites like Pinterest can be super sources of inspiration if you’re looking to try new things, and a simple Google search can connect you with countless recipes. Do you have an ingredient or two you’d like to use up? Browse recipes that use it to see if you can find any that are easy and appealing to you and your kids.

Make a Menu

They say writing down your goals helps you keep them, and the same goes for meal planning. Write down your weekly menu to keep yourself on track, and also as a reference point for grocery shopping. It’s another great opportunity for your kids to provide feedback, to remind yourself of what’s coming up in the week ahead, and get excited for that Friday night spaghetti dinner!

At the end of the day, planning your meals will leave you with more time and energy to spend with your kids. Not only will you nourish them with well-thought-out, healthy meals — you’ll have the time to nourish their minds and souls with more active playtime by helping them with their homework, or simply by spending time with them. With a little meal planning, you can make new traditions.

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Working Dads: Make More Time for Your Daughter This Summer

A dad bonds with his daughter as he brushes her hair

A study of around 1,000 working fathers conducted by Northeastern University discovered that the more time busy dads spent with their children, the happier they were. It’s no surprise that spending extra time with your daughter is bound to leave you smiling more often. However, finding time for your little girl can be very difficult when you’re managing a busy schedule and hectic work life.

Time is a precious thing that frequently eludes working fathers. From cooking meals and doing laundry to keeping up with job duties, there’s a lot to do, and only so many hours in the day. Now that the summer is finally here, and your daughter has a few months to spend strengthening her bond with you, it might be time to start thinking about ways you can adapt. Here, we’ll think about just a few of the ways you can maximize your time with your daughter.

Think About Flexible Working Arrangements

Flexible and remote working solutions are growing increasingly popular throughout the world. In the U.S. alone, around 50% of workers can do their jobs from home at least part of the time. Often, exploring the opportunity of remote work can be something that begins with a simple conversation. If you know that you’re going to need extra time to spend with your daughter this summer, discuss opportunities with your boss in advance.

The best way to get started is to create a plan of action that you can present to your boss. Outline whether you’re going to need to work from home some days during the week, or whether you’d prefer to telecommute after a certain time so that you can pick your daughter up from school, perhaps. Since more involved fathers often experience more happiness, they’re generally more productive and less likely to quit their jobs. That means that you’re in a great position to present your flexible working requirement as an advantage to both the company and your family.

Create a Plan for Summer Fun

Sometimes, the best way to make the most of your time with your daughter during summer is to be picky about the things you want to do. You might not be able to do everything, but focus on a few key must-do activities that your daughter will love. Create a list that you and your daughter can both add to at your leisure. That way, you’ll start to build a schedule that you can adapt your other chores and responsibilities around.

If you’re lucky enough to get some much-needed time off during the summer months, you could even schedule a family getaway for you and your daughter. Remember, you don’t have to go on a week-long journey to the other side of the planet. A road trip to somewhere new can be a fantastic and fun way to bond with your child.

Involve Your Daughter in Whatever You Do

The unfortunate truth of adulthood and parenthood is that sometimes you need to do important tasks when you’d much rather be curled up with your family watching a movie. If you can’t neglect the chores around your house, you could always consider enlisting your child for help. Just remember to try and make the activity as fun as possible, and don’t get mad if things don’t go perfectly the first-time around.

Asking your daughter to help you fold laundry gives you both a perfect moment to stand and chat about what’s new in her life. Grocery shopping together can be a fun way to get both of you outside, particularly if you grab some ice cream on the way home. If you have the time, you can even consider getting your daughter involved in cooking.

Not only will this teach her some valuable life skills, but cooking together can be a fun and interesting experience for dads and daughters. You’ll have plenty of chances to laugh at each other when you end up covered in flour, and you’ll both appreciate eating the finished product a lot more, too!

Always Try to Schedule Moments Together

Having daddy-daughter time together is crucial when it comes to bonding with your child and making the most out of the summer vacation. However, it’s not always as simple as it should be. Scheduling in some time after dinner or before bedtime can be a good way to improve your chances of stealing an hour here and there, but remember that things won’t always go according to plan.

A list of things to do each day can help you to take control of the time you have with your daughter, but try to be flexible. There’s nothing wrong with falling asleep for a nap together on the couch, rather than heading out into the garden. If you’re having fun at a local pool, you don’t need to stop it so that you can go to the movies. Use your schedule as a guide, and remember that any time spent together with your daughter this summer is valuable — no matter what it entails.

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Summer Break Ideas For You and Your Daughter

A father and his daughter make cookies standing in the kitchenBetween work, home management, and life’s many other responsibilities, fathers often struggle to spend enough time with their daughters. Though you might not be able to control the number of bonding sessions you get, you can manage the quality of the time that you spend together by planning some fantastic activities.

Now that summer is here, you have the perfect chance to take advantage of the school break and schedule some much-needed quality time with your daughter. After all, some one-on-one time with dad can be the perfect way to make your little lady feel extra special. All you need to do is figure out what will grab her interest and keep her smiling throughout the day.

Need some inspiration? Here are just some ideas of what you can do when spending time with your daughter during this summer break.

1. Baking and Cooking Classes

Let’s be honest: most kids don’t have great diets. When left to their own devices, they prefer something fast, deep-fried, or easy to throw in a microwave. Baking and cooking with your daughter can start to develop a healthy passion that will stay with her throughout her life.

If you’re not much of a food maestro yourself, then you could always consider signing the two of you up for weekly cooking classes over the summer. There are countless kitchens out there that are happy to welcome fathers, daughters, and sons into their lessons. Here, you can both discover healthy eating habits, and even uncover a few new family recipes, too.

2. Build Something Together

If your daughter’s the creative type, and you know your way around a hammer and saw, then why not teach her how to build something? If your daughter’s a little younger, you could ask her to help paint parts of a dollhouse while you do all the dangerous stuff. On the other hand, if she’s older, you could teach her some simple DIY tricks and build a birdhouse together.

Kids love creating things, and once the building process is over, you’ll have even more time to spend together while you decide how to decorate your brand-new creation. On top of that, you’ll end up with an item that she’ll cherish for years to come.

3. Head to a Pool or Water Park

When summer heats up, it’s a good idea to spend some time cooling off at the pool. Whether you’re simply spending some time splashing around and cooling down together, or you’re looking for thrills at a local water park, you’re sure to have plenty of fun. You might even find that your daughter feels more comfortable trying out some bigger slides because she feels safe with you by her side.

4. Get Sporty Indoors

If the weather doesn’t cooperate with your plans, or it’s too warm to spend much time outdoors, you can still show your daughter your sporty side indoors. Go rock climbing together at an indoor climbing wall. This activity will give both of you some exercise, and teach your daughter that she can rely on you to catch her when she falls.

Alternatively, why not take your daughter to an indoor roller-skating rink? You can both get your heart rate pumping while your daughter enjoys the excitement and speed of an activity that’s great for all ages.

5. Discover Ancient History

A trip to a local museum can be a great way to foster an interest in history, or to just learn something new together. However, it’s worth remembering that history isn’t just about places and dates. A truly incredible historical experience can be about discovering the people who lived through specific events.

Perhaps you could tour a historical spot, and learn more about the people who lived there hundreds of years ago. Alternatively, why not focus on your own personal history? Make a time capsule and bury it somewhere secret, or take your daughter to see the house you grew up in.

6. Learn Something New Together

When you’re feeling uncertain, it’s usually a good idea to plan an activity where both you and your daughter are out of your element. Learning something new together is a great way to bond with your little girl, because she can see you struggle and succeed right alongside her. You’ll both be on level playing fields, and the competition will add to the experience.

For learning something new, the opportunities are endless. You could try making your own chocolates at a chocolate factory, attend a watercolor painting class, or design your own pottery.

7. Unwind with Daddy-Daughter Yoga

Finally, if all this activity leaves you searching for a way to unwind, then why not take in a relaxing daddy-daughter yoga class? There are countless health centers and gyms now offering parent and child sessions for pairs who want to learn how the art of yoga together.

You can both start your classes as absolute beginners, learning mindful activities and new ways to stay calm. In fact, these lessons could even help you to relax after a day at the office, or give your daughter the peace she needs to avoid panicking in the face of exams. Plus, you’ll give your daughter countless reasons to laugh with you as you fumble your way through poses.

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4 Travel-Savvy Tips for Single Fathers

a father and his daughter walk along the beach while on vacation

There are always a million things to keep track of when planning a vacation with your kids. The morning rush on the day of the trip is familiar to any parent. It includes not only the normal daily tasks of dressing and feeding the family, but also finishing everyone’s packing. With so much going on, it would be easy to forget something important. But as much as we all love Home Alone, none of us want a recreation of that movie.

Being a single parent means having to think through all the logistical details on your own. Don’t worry if you’re feeling overwhelmed because here are 4 of the most easily overlooked elements of travel that can make a trip with your kids much easier.

1. Getting Documented Permission

The first and perhaps most practical thing to remember is proper documentation. Ensure you have the correct legal papers necessary to adhere to child protection laws, especially when traveling outside of the country. Whether you’re divorced, widowed or a single parent by choice, it’s crucial to keep a notarized letter on hand that proves you have the right to be traveling with your child. Having a letter of permission that outlines your destination and travel period will guarantee smoother border crossings with your child if you’re not accompanied by your ex. This is also extremely handy paperwork in the event of a medical emergency, so make sure to secure it well ahead of your departure date.

2. Opting for Single Adult Occupancy

Many family vacation providers base their prices on double adult occupancy. To avoid paying more than you should, look for resorts, cruises and hotels that offer single parent experiences and pricing. Many of these even allow you to have more than one child with you without charging for a second adult. Consider opting for an individual itinerary to reduce your expenses, or an all-inclusive resort, which will have all the food and activities included in the price of the stay. Just remember to read the fine print and pay attention to the details of the purchase.

3. Traveling in a Group

Though traveling with more people means more organization, it also lightens the load of vacationing as a single parent. If you take a trip with other single dads you know, you can ensure more adult support and playmates for your kids. Opting for a vacation rental will give all the families a home base to unwind and congregate, while still offering the exciting opportunity to explore a new city. Rentals are a cost-effective accommodation, because you can split the costs between the group, and the ability to cook for yourselves at home saves you from having to constantly dine out. What’s more, the adults can share the child sitting duties for greater relaxation, and the kids can have fun together in a safe environment.

4. Ensuring Clear Communication

Communication is essential when traveling with children. Before leaving, take time to discuss rules and expectations, potential anxieties, and hopes for the vacation. If you have a co-parent who is not going to be coming along on the trip, you may want to talk to them to decide the best way to deal with any issues while away. During the trip, set a time each day to check in with your kids. Give them a chance to share what they’re enjoying about the trip, what they’re learning, and if there are any rules they need clarifying. Once you return home, talk about what some of the highlights and lowlights of the trip were. What did you learn as a family, and how will you keep that lesson in mind on your next vacation?

Traveling as a solo parent can be an extremely rewarding adventure, so don’t let the preparations get you down. Decide what’s most important for you and your children, and plan from there. By keeping our 4 tips in mind, you won’t overlook the details either.

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Can You Teach Self-Esteem to Your Kids?

silhouette of a child sitting in the front

You already know your children are amazingly capable, intelligent, and strong — but do they know this about themselves? Low self-esteem can hinder a child’s motivation and ability to succeed in life; no matter how much you believe in your kids, it’s important that they believe in themselves.

Self-esteem can’t exactly be taught in the traditional sense, but parents can cultivate abilities in their children that boost self-worth.

This can seem like quite a daunting task – but it’s easier than you might think. Research has found that fathers especially play an integral role in how their children perceive themselves throughout life, making it vital that dads know how to encourage healthy self-esteem in their daughters and sons.

Below you will find three of the most effective ways fathers can build self-esteem in their children; while also allowing them to make necessary mistakes on the road to adulthood.

Encourage Varied Interests

By allowing your children to pursue the interests they find valuable in their own development, you can help them build confidence and feelings of growth and accomplishment. Mastering hobbies, sports, and other interests outside of school is essential for your children to develop pride in themselves. This doesn’t necessarily mean your kids should participate in a slew of extracurricular activities; self-guided ones are just as important. Think of the satisfaction of achieving a goal you’ve set for yourself — it often feels much more fulfilling than meeting goals set for you by others.

By reaching individually-set goals and completing tasks on their own timeline, children learn the significance of accomplishment. Below are just a few examples of beneficial, self-motivated activities children may find fulfilling:

  • Finishing a chapter of a book before bedtime each night
  • Reaching a desired level within a favorite video game
  • Learning how to recreate a family recipe
  • Putting together a dance/ballet routine

Have a conversation with your kids, to find out what they’re most interested in, and encourage them to pursue those things.

Allow For Healthy Risk Taking

Parents who always rescue their kids from failure are doing a disservice to the natural development of their children; failure can actually prove a positive motivator. When adults fail, we are presented with the unique opportunity to solve problems on the fly, by managing the consequences of a situation – the same applies for kids. Without the knowledge gained from these circumstances, children are less likely to independently problem-solve later in life, through challenging situations that will inevitably arise. Instead, they may end up feeling paralyzed, lost, or devastated when otherwise manageable failures occur.

Allow your kids to take some (appropriate) risks, and give them the space to fail. When they do, be there for them — not to pick up the pieces for them, but to assist and support them in figuring out how to manage on their own. By making clear that your love is unconditional, even in the face of failure, children are able to feel a sense of acceptance, and learn that the end result isn’t the reason for your approval. This process offers an essential life lesson that kids can only learn from experience: you will fail at some things in life, and you will be okay. Later in life, when your children face any challenge, their self-esteem won’t be instantly shattered.

Foster Responsibility through Chores

One of the most effective ways to build healthy self-esteem in children is to teach independence by assigning chores. Whether by taking out the trash, walking the dog, or doing the dishes, studies show that children who are taught the value of chores have more likelihood of success as adults.

Remember, not all chores should come with a reward, such as an allowance. It’s important for children to understand that some tasks are simply part of living in a family unit; everyone pitches in to accomplish more together.

Listen to Them

It’s easy as a parent to act prescriptively – meaning that parents like to offer up wise words for their kids, often without really listening to what their children need. If it seems like your child is going through a rough patch, allow him or her to talk with you about it. Instead of trying to fix it right away, allow him or her to come up with ideas for improving the situation. Even when your kids come to you specifically asking advice, try to empower them to suggest solutions on their own. You might even brainstorm together, and discuss which ideas seem most appropriate, and why. This will teach your kids ownership over their own circumstances, and it will give them the confidence to overcome any challenge — whether you’re there at the time or not.

You may not be able to simply teach your kids self-esteem, the way you might teach them to tie their shoes or write their names. But, there’s a lot you can do to help them reach a place of healthy self-esteem. When you instill in your children the benefits of good decision-making, character-building appreciation, and the power of loving oneself, your kids are more likely to lead happy, healthy, and confident lives.

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4 Awesome Ways to Raise More Appreciative Kids

smiling father being hugged and kissed by his two children

We hate to break it to all of the hopeful parents out there: there’s no scientific formula for raising “good” kids. Parenting is much more of an art than a science, but that doesn’t mean you have to wing it entirely!

While there is no tried and true method to ensure that children grow up to be successful and emotionally developed individuals, there are plenty of techniques that can guide you in raising wonderful people.

It’s critical to instill life lessons at an early age, by rewarding behaviors exhibiting compassion, generosity and selflessness. Appreciation is a foundational value you can pass on to your kids, no matter their age. Whether it’s appreciating other people who have helped you, or simply appreciating what you have, this life skill can strengthen relationships and foster a positive mindset.

Here are four ways to instill a spirit of appreciation in your children:

Limit What You Spend Money On

Money can be a tricky topic for parents, especially when your kids are still very young and can’t quite grasp the impact of each hard-earned dollar. When it comes to financial lessons, the amount of money your family has doesn’t matter nearly as much as what you do with it. Children pick up on the behaviors and philosophies they see in their parents; you have the opportunity to foster a healthy, respectful, and appreciative attitude towards money.

By establishing fun and budget-conscious play times, you can show your children that money doesn’t set the parameters for having a good time. This important lesson allows children to understand the power of “free” (or low cost) entertainment, and also introduces them to the concept that money is limited. The key here isn’t to deprive them of experiences or teach them that spending is bad, but to show them that a lack of cash doesn’t limit your ability to enjoy the day. Whether creating fun games to keep kids busy during long trips, playing card games at home, or throwing a baseball around in the front yard — establish the idea that fun isn’t always achieved by acquiring new items or paying for a luxury experiences; you’ll enhance your children’s appreciation of “free” entertainment, as well as their appreciation of money as something that can be used for special experiences.

Give Creative Rewards

When children achieve or accomplish specific tasks, try offering rewards that are unique to your family. One great example of this is to give “shared experience” rewards. What better way to shield against a materialistic mindset, than to steer away from using material rewards? By establishing special one-on-one time as a prize for a job well done, you can teach the value of familial interaction. Think along the lines of a visit to a fun museum, a game of backyard soccer or baseball, or even an outing to fly kites at the park — choose something that caters to your child’s interests, or a shared interest you have together!

When you pose a certain activity or experience as a reward, you automatically attach a positive association to it; not to mention the feeling of accomplishment that comes along with earning that prize. Your children are more likely to appreciate those special trips to the zoo or those kickball games with Dad that they earned through hard work and good behavior. Remember, not all of your kids’ “challenges” will have a perfect ending; trying very hard in math class and still receiving a “B” on the report card is a reason to celebrate, too. Reward based on character and effort, not final outcomes.

Make Chores a Regular Part of Life

Kids who are given responsibilities early in life build self-discipline and confidence — they also learn to appreciate the value of hard work. Steer away from handing out chores as a negative consequence for your child’s poor actions. If you are only asked to clean the counters or make your bed when you’ve done something wrong, there’s no reason for you to appreciate the gesture when someone else does these things for you. Using household tasks as punishment makes them something to be feared, not appreciated.

Instead, chores should be built into your weekly routine and shared among family members; even the youngest ones! Every child — at any age — can help with something, whether it’s sweeping the floors, feeding the dog, or simply folding the clean towels. When it comes to educating kids on the meaning of responsibility, ongoing chores introduce the notion that doing something for others is valuable. This can, in turn, promote appreciation and gratitude when another person completes a task that’s normally your responsibility. Above all, shared family chores teach the concept that taking care of a home is a cooperative team effort. We all live in the house, and therefore we all help make it a wonderful place to live.

Communicate the Power of Core Values

When parents share their core ideals and values regularly with their children, kids are more likely to act upon those core values within their own lives. Having honest, open conversations with your kids not only fosters a sense of trust between you, but also helps develop their sense of self — in a truly positive way. If your family’s most prominent core value is generosity, for example, you may instill this belief in children by volunteering time at a local soup kitchen. By observing how the less fortunate live and behave despite their circumstances, your children may begin to appreciate what they have all the more. Making a regular habit of giving back may prompt your kids to spend more time thinking about how to serve their community — instead of focusing on how the community can better serve them.

Developing a healthy appreciation of yourself, your lifestyle, and other people requires transitioning from ego-centric thinking to selflessness — in children, this takes cultivation from parents. There’s no one method that will fit every child, but as a parent, you can use every tool at your disposal to teach appreciation during the important developmental years. With the right guidance and an upstanding parent as a role model, appreciation and compassion hold a powerful place in your child’s life and future.

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Single Dads: Take Care of Yourselves Too With These 3 Tips

happy man reading his tablet and drinking coffee

Single parenting means playing two roles at once. You’re putting your children’s needs first and making sure they turn out great. And that can feel like a 24/7 job. But what about your own needs?

Single fatherhood does not mean that your self-care should go out the window. Yes, your kids are important, and yes, they are your responsibility to keep happy and safe. But remember that you also need to take care of yourself before you can take care of others.

Self-care does not just mean going to the doctor for your yearly physical or taking your vitamins. Self-care means taking time for YOU and doing things that make you feel happy. When you take care of yourself, it’s a reminder that life is not all about working and making sure the rest of the family is happy; it’s about enjoying your own life, too. When you practice self-care as a single father, your family will feel the difference. Read on to find out 3 simple ways to start practicing self-care.

1. Ask for Help

To have the time to practice self-care as a single father, you need to ask for help. By now you’ve probably realized that no matter how hard you try, you are not a superhero and you are not superhuman. You need more people on your team to raise happy, healthy kids without putting your own mental and physical health at risk. Whether it’s a babysitter, a grandparent, or a close friend, reach out to those who want to help you. Ask them to give you a hand with groceries and laundry, or even just to watch the kids so you can go for a quick walk around the block to have a moment to yourself. When people offer to help with something, let them. It will make them feel good to do something kind for your family, and it will give you a breather. Chances are the people around you want to help – you just have to ask them so they know how.  

2. Use Your Time Wisely

Between a long day at work and an evening at home looking after the kids, where do you fit in the time to take care of yourself? Eating lunch at your desk does not count. Self-care means taking care of yourself and realizing that you can re-energize in just a few hours when given the chance. When you get some alone time, you’re helping your mind and body take the break they need. Have a nap, switch up your shower for a relaxing bath, or find a few extra moments before or after work to just enjoy the nature around you. Spend your alone time however you want – just make sure you find some.

3. Exercise

Working out may feel like yet another thing on the never ending to-do list, but it’s important for your wellbeing. When you move your body, you start producing endorphins. Those endorphins make you happier. You don’t have to go to the gym to workout, either. Find a pool to swim in, a park to walk through, or finally dust off that bike in the garage. Incorporate physical activity into the quality time you spend with your kids or use it as a way to fit in that all-important alone time.

Your Happiness Affects Your Children’s Happiness

Dads, you don’t have to feel guilty about taking care of yourself. Happiness is allowed – no matter what your past. And your kids are sure to feel happier too when they see you smiling.

When you start practicing self-care you will suddenly understand why people tell you to put yourself before others; it’s the only way to truly rise to the best version of yourself for your kids. Try these 3 tips to start working on a healthier and happier you today. Your family will thank you for it.

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5 Summer Family Vacation Ideas for Single Fathers

a father poses for the camera with his son and daughter while on vacation

This year over one-third of American families will embark on a memorable vacation to an exciting destination somewhere across the globe. If you and your children are hoping to be one of those families, but haven’t yet decided what kind of trip to take, we’ve got you covered. Our top 5 vacation ideas offer something for every family, so you can enjoy your ideal adventure, while bonding with one another in the process.

1. Vacation Rental

Investing in a stay at a vacation rental property is the perfect way to dip your toes in the proverbial pool of vacationing. It’s an excellent option for a first-time family vacation with your children because it ensures an easy home-to-holiday transition. Rentals offer familiar comforts such as full-service kitchens, comfy bedding and privacy, as well as the added benefit of a new destination to explore. You can mix exciting activities with home comforts for a fun and relaxing stay.

2. Camping at a National Park

Whether planning a vacation during spring break or the winter hiatus, a camping trip to one of America’s 400 beautiful National Parks make the perfect family getaway. With so many choices, families can plan an entire holiday around visits to the majestic parklands. Not only are National Park trips inexpensive, averaging at around $20 a day, but they’re also incredibly educational. Teaching your kids about the local wildlife is a bonding experience they’ll remember for a lifetime. Just remember to pack a s’mores survival kit.

3. Learning Vacation

One of the best ways to plan a vacation with your kids is to center the destination around their combined interests. If one child enjoys outdoor activities and the other likes scientific endeavors, why not find an activity that explores both hobbies – like a trip to Death Valley National Park in California. Known for its world-class stargazing opportunities, Death Valley boasts one of the most awe-inspiring dark-sky landscapes in the country, often hosting meteor shower viewings. But that isn’t all there is to see or do. Death Valley boasts countless hikes to picturesque viewpoints to satisfy any young explorer’s need for adventure. With a well-planned learning vacation, everyone’s a winner.

4. Cruise

While a cruise might be costly, the fun activities and endless amenities it offers will surely make up for it. What’s more, all-inclusive packages take a lot of hassle out of vacation planning. The greatest part of embarking on a cruise line is the excitement of visiting multiple locations, while only having to unpack your suitcases once! There’s a route for everyone. Try an exotic trip through the Caribbean, or an icy adventure along the Alaskan coast.

5. All-Inclusive Hotel

If you invest in an all-inclusive vacation, the only decision your family will have to make is where you want to plant your flag. Everything else will be taken care of. No matter what part of the world you choose, you and your children will enjoy local entertainment, delicious cuisine, and fun activities without even leaving the comfort of your hotel. Children under a certain age can stay for free at some hotels, which might make this a more cost-effective option.

If this is your first vacation with your children as a single dad, know that you can do this. While you may feel hesitant to travel without another adult to help with the parenting, it’s important to see this as a chance to bond with your kids. They will remember a special vacation for the rest of their lives and it’s you they’ll have to thank for it. Seize the opportunity and enjoy an incredible trip together this year.

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Raise Good Kids By Teaching Them These 3 Values

father playing airplane with daughter in the park

As a father, you have many roles in the life of your child: caregiver, protector, role model, and provider. But it’s important to remember one of the most crucial jobs a parent has  they are their children’s teacher.

Values are learned early in life and become the building blocks our children use when growing up. They shape their priorities and are a determining factor of their success in the world. Though values are personal and unique to each of us, there are some values that are fundamental to good mental health, close relationships, and a positive self-esteem. Make teaching the following 3 values a priority and watch your children grow up into happy and healthy adults.

1. Compassion for Self and Others

Compassion is the ability to be with our own pain or the pain of another without judgment or an immediate need to provide a solution.  All emotions are part of a natural spectrum, and it’s important for your little one to learn that just because an emotion may be difficult, doesn’t mean that it’s wrong or bad. This will help your children learn the skill of emotional agility, allowing them to navigate their inner world with more ease and internal support. When children are equipped with compassion for themselves and others, they avoid unhealthy patterns of repressing and brooding, and instead develop confidence and vibrant mental health.

Tip: Support your children in developing compassion by encouraging them to explore and name their feelings. Rather than seeking to immediately calm a crying child, instead help them to understand and express their sadness.

2. Respect

Respect is a byproduct of teaching self-compassion.  When children develop a non-judgemental attitude towards their own experience and the experiences of others, they learn how to respect others’ differences too. In a culture that propagates attitudes of false divisions, teaching your children respect offers them an opportunity to discover common ground with others. This improves social skills, a sense of internal security, and even employability later in life. Help your children learn how to respect others by attuning them to how their actions affect others.

Tip: Respect can be a difficult concept for kids to understand. Help break it down by explaining that respectful behavior means acting in a way that shows you care about another person’s feelings and wellbeing.

3. Integrity

Because values vary from family to family and person to person, no one other than you can determine the right values to teach your child. Your child may also end up having some values unique to them and their understanding of the world. Because of this, it’s crucial to teach your children integrity, which is the ability to take action that reflects our beliefs and values. Integrity is less about morality, and more about a union of the way we live our lives and the values we preach. By teaching integrity to your children, you are equipping them with the capacity to stand up for what they believe in even when it may be an unpopular choice. Integrity can be their secret power when faced with peer pressure, bullying and other injustices.

Tip: Integrity is mostly learned through modeled behavior. Make sure your children see you living a life that’s in line with what you say you value. If you promote a healthy lifestyle, consider incorporating more recreational play and activity into your parenting activities to show that you walk the talk.

Whatever your personal values may be, a healthy foundation includes compassion for self and others, respect and integrity. Try out these tips and know that you’re on the right path to setting your child up for success.

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Online Dating Do’s and Don’ts (For Men)

online dating

If you’re getting back into the dating scene after a divorce, you may turn to online dating as a fun, convenient way to connect with other singles — especially when you’re busy with your kids, and have little time on your hands to attend in-person mixers and meetups. Online dating has brought people together from all over the world, helping singles find meaningful connections amid today’s fast-paced, busy lifestyles.

If you’re ready to enter the realm of digital dating, there are a set of do’s and don’ts you should follow, to help you find a match smoothly. Just as you’ve experienced in face-to-face settings, there are certain guidelines and behaviors that are generally seen as acceptable, or unacceptable in the online dating world.

As you become more familiar with online dating culture, the social rules and expectations will become easier and easier. For now, start with these suggestions.

Don’t: Lie About Yourself

It’s easy to be someone you’re not in an online environment; a book lover, a sports fan, or a volunteer at an animal shelter, perhaps. You may wish you had some of these traits, or believe they would make you more attractive to a romantic partner. You may even feel you can carry that persona over into real-life experiences, such as when meeting up with people you’ve met online. For the first meeting, that may be true — but, building a relationship based on lies is a recipe for disaster. Be honest in your online profile, and don’t be afraid to be yourself during in-person meetups. This isn’t just about the moral issue of honesty; it’s about the fact that you can’t find someone who truly connects with you if you aren’t actually showing who you are. The only relationship that matters is the one that lasts, and that only happens when dates connect with the real you.

Do: Be Clear About What You Want

Many people turn to online dating because it eliminates some of the hassles of in-person dating. Through a few online encounters with someone, you can quickly determine if you two might hit it off in an in-person meetup. That said, you don’t want to waste your time connecting with people and scheduling dates, only to find out you aren’t interested in the same things. Be upfront about what you want in a partner and a relationship, to make it easier to find a match who wants the same things — someone who is truly worth your time to meet with in-person.

Don’t: Wait Too Long to Meet Up

Once you’ve formed a connection online, waiting too long to meet someone face-to-face can give you a false sense of intimacy. You should be able to tell from a few emails if you two will get along on a surface level, but after that, it’s time to put your theory to the test. Try to meet up within a week of meeting online, if you think you have a connection. That way, you can get to know each other’s true personalities, rather than the filtered online personality — which lacks much of the body language, tone of voice, and intricacies needed to determine if a connection is actually strong.

Do: Remember You’re Meeting Strangers

Online dating is a lot like blind dating. You don’t really know the people you’re going on dates with, even though you’ve read their online profiles. That means the traditional rules with strangers still apply:

  • Don’t share your address or personal information online.
  • Plan a short meeting at first, such as a coffee date, so you aren’t stuck in a long four-course meal that you’re not comfortable with.
  • Always meet in a public place, at least for the first few meetings.
  • Follow your gut! If something feels wrong or off, trust yourself. We have instincts for a reason.

Don’t: Carry Baggage With You

When going on a date with anyone — including someone you met online — it’s easy to fall into the classic discussion about your past. Remember, that’s all it is: your past. While your life-long partner should eventually know about your past, it doesn’t need to be discussed in detail online, or in your first face-to-face meeting. Don’t use your date as an emotional crutch, to lean on after a bad break up. Leave your baggage at home, focus on the date, and let the stories emerge when appropriate — which is usually well after the first few dates, once you feel there could be a strong, long-term connection with a person.

Do: Be Honest and Upfront about Your Situation

While you’ll want to leave details of your former relationships out of the discussion at first, not everything should be saved for a later date. The past is in the past, but you should be upfront and honest about the present. For example, if you’re a single dad, anyone you date has a right to know you have kids. If your ex-partner is involved in your life frequently — perhaps, because of joint custody of the kids — this is also something to mention on a first date. Addressing the present details of your life shows respect, as you’re giving others the opportunity to decide right from the start if it’s a situation they want to get involved in. This kind of respect shows maturity, honesty, and consideration — and helps you to ensure you won’t waste your time getting to know someone who ultimately, can’t accept the fact that you have children.

There are many more rules of online dating, and you’ll have to dive in and start meeting people in order to get settled in the social aspects. These few tips are essential, and should get you pointed in the right direction to start meeting other singles who align with your interests, personality, and lifestyle.

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