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Jennifer Wolf

Jennifer's Single Parents Blog

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Naming Your Worst Child Custody Fears

Tuesday April 22, 2014

So often, our fears get the best of us. They distract us, even paralyze us. But wrapping your arms around your fears is important because it's the first step in doing something about them.

So take a moment and think about what you're afraid of most. Is is losing custody to an ex you don't trust? Having to share custody? Hearing the words "I want to try living with mom (or dad)"?

Man and woman arguing over child custody.

Sometimes just naming your fears "out loud" can help to reduce their power. So take a moment to share your fears here on the blog -- along with what you're doing about them.

Then use the resources below to talk with your kids, explore your options, and research the laws in your state:

Photo © Getty Images/Altrendo

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Don't Wait Until Your Kids Are Teenagers to Talk About Sex

Monday April 21, 2014

The sex talk isn't just for teens who are already in dating relationships.

A mom speaks with her teen about sex. As parents, we need to start the conversation when our kids are young and be intentional about teaching them how to cultivate healthy dating relationships as they get older.

Let our readers know how you've approached the issue by sharing your story here on the site.

Don't Miss: Everyday Opportunities to Talk About Sex With Your Kids

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Poll: How Often Do You Conduct Family Meetings?

Sunday April 20, 2014

Family meetings at our house tend to fall into two different categories: the regular check-in, sync your schedules, share-one-positive-thing-about-each-other version, and the more urgent let's-get-together-to-address-a-problem type of family meeting.

Both formats are helpful. But I've noticed that sticking to a weekly family meeting routine helps prevent last-minute stresses, from "Where's my game-day uniform?" to "Mom, I need poster-board for a project that's due tomorrow!"

How about you? Do you use regular family meetings to keep the lines of communication open with your kids? Let us know by participating in this week's poll or sharing your thoughts here on the blog.

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Celebrate Easter With Your Kids

Tuesday April 15, 2014

Each year, we make "Resurrection Buns" for breakfast on Easter morning. I think they're fun because, first of all, the kids get to make them themselves, by wrapping refrigerator dough around a marshmallow; and second, they come with a little surprise. After baking, they're empty inside!

Visit the Easter bunny with your children.

It's a fun and creative way to illustrate the story of Easter. Plus, you can make them the night before and just pop them in the oven in the morning, which makes your Easter breakfast super easy!

Don't Miss:

Photo © 2007, Tim McCaig

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Do You Go Out of Your Way to Include Your Ex?

Sunday April 13, 2014

Reply to this question.It's one of the most selfless things you can do for your kids: including your ex for the occasional family gathering or event. It's a powerful way to show your kids that you're still a "family," even though you don't live together any more.

If this is something you've never done before, you may need to start small. For example, make a point of inviting your ex to come to your kids' sporting events before the spring season is over. With time, being inclusive will start to feel more natural for all of you.

For some ideas about how to go about including your ex, read Coparenting Tips: 5 Ways to Include Your Ex. And if you already include your ex on a regular basis, share your tips with our readers in the "Readers Respond" feature, How Do You Go Out of Your Way to Include Your Ex?

Additional Coparenting Resources:

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10 Spring Activities Parents & Kids Can Enjoy Together

Saturday April 12, 2014

Now that the days are finally starting to feel more spring-like, I can't wait to get outside with the kids. Whether it's a quick game of hoops or a walk in the park, reconnecting amid the fresh air feels good -- and there's nothing like doing something together to get them talking.

Make a sidewalk chalk mural with your kids this spring.If you're anxious to head outdoors, too, try making a mural with sidewalk chalk or going on a nature walk.

Read More...

Photo © Lorie Slater, 2009

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Feeling Worn Down? Commit to Your Own Self-Care

Sunday April 6, 2014

Do you remember when you were pregnant and everyone told you to get more rest, eat well, and take care of yourself? Prenatal care is essential to a baby's health, but a mom's need to take care of herself doesn't stop when the baby is born.

A single mom considers how to take care own her own needs.

As parents -- moms and dads, alike -- we need to recognize that taking care of ourselves is part of taking care of our kids. That means making sure that we're getting enough rest, exercising regularly, eating nutritious meals, and incorporating some mental "down time" into every day.

Best of all, being intentional about taking care of yourself doesn't have to require a lot of time. Start by incorporating just one or two self-care practices into your regular routine. For a list of ideas, read Avoid Single Parent Burnout: 30 Self-Care Strategies for Single Parents.

Don't Miss: 5 Ways to Simplify Your Life | Find "Me Time"

Photo © Petro Feketa

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Child Custody Evaluation Dos & Don'ts

Sunday March 30, 2014

Having trouble reaching a child custody agreement with your ex? The judge assigned to your case will probably order a child custody evaluation.

Woman sitting on a couch.

That means that an evaluator will meet with you -- and with your children -- and make a recommendation about the custody arrangement that would be in your children's best interests.

The evaluation is important because the evaluator's findings will be shared with the judge and could strongly impact the outcome of your case. So you'll want to pay attention to some critical dos and don'ts.

For example, during the evaluation, you'll want to be cooperative, open, and honest. And you'll want to make sure the evaluator knows that you're willing to work with your ex and to do what's best for your kids -- even when that means sacrificing what you want at times.

But that's not all. You'll also want to avoid coaching your kids ahead of time or speaking negatively about your ex, among other "dont's."

For a complete list of tips, read Child Custody Evaluation Dos & Dont's. And if you've gone through the experience and have some advice to share, leave a comment below!

Don't Miss10 Ways to Prepare for a Child Custody Evaluation.

Photo © Eric O'Connell/Getty Images

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Are Your Expectations Unrealistic?

Monday March 24, 2014

"Now that we're separated, we argue even more than we did when we were together! It just makes me want to give up and stop trying to work together."

Mom and dad having a fight.

Arguing about things like parenting time, discipline, and parenting styles is common. In fact, expecting to not argue would be unrealistic.

One thing that helps is learning how to fight fair. It takes a lot of effort to develop a healthy co-parenting relationship where you can collaborate with one another as equals instead of being defensive and looking for the next fight.

But think about the end goal. If your effort to stop arguing with your ex leads to a greater sense of security for your kids -- and ultimately to less stress for you -- then it will be worth the effort.

What helps you? Take a moment to share anything that's helped you collaborate with your ex by leaving a comment below.

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Use a Menu Planner to Save on Groceries

Sunday March 23, 2014

Groceries are probably one of your largest monthly expenses, next to housing and transportation. So it stands to reason that saving money in that budget category could have a big impact on your bottom line at the end of the month.

A young girl and her mom eat dinner.

But how do you consistently save money on groceries without skimping on the items your family needs? One way to save what could be a significant amount of money each month is to create a written menu planner each week. It can be as simple as writing your menu planner directly on your weekly grocery shopping list, or as sophisticated as using an online menu planner that you can create once and set to repeat every two or three weeks. But the bottom line is that when you intentionally write down the meals you're planning to make each night, you become much less likely to rely on expensive, last minute options like take out and home delivery.

If you're looking for a printable menu planner, try:

If you prefer an online menu planner, try the "My Menu Planner" Tool from About.com.

Photo © Gallo Images-Hayley Baxter/Getty Images

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