Screen Addiction Apps

Monitor your child’s screen time — even if you feel like you’re invading their privacy.  In your family, you are the parent and you are entitled to check their phones, laptops, and computers.  You have every right to know everything that they are seeing and doing.  

It constantly shocks me that parents feel insecure about looking at their children’s devices.  We need to parent our children’s online activities.  Even if you install screen addiction apps, you still need to monitor their activities.  

Set up a digital screen agreement between you and your children.  Include rewards and consequences for breaking the rules.  Remind your children that you bought their devices and that they are simply allowed to use them.  Just knowing that you have screen addiction or monitoring apps installed on their phones and that you have access to everything they’re doing will inevitably lead to your children staying away from unsavory sites and limiting their social and gaming usage.

Remember, you are the parent and they need you to do your job. 


Changing the Date for Trick or Treating

Back in 2000, Jaclyn campaigned to move trick or treating to the Saturday before Halloween (Oct 31st). She wanted to be able to spend the day getting her costume ready, carving pumpkins, and then trick or treating with her friends until she reached the last house with lights on! Knowing that she had school the next day bothered her because she wanted to sort and trade candies with her sister and friends after trick or treating, and then sleep in the following day. 

Jaclyn reached out to local dentists, doctors, and assemblymen to get their endorsements.  She has a scrapbook full of these letters. After hearing that Halloween is not a national holiday but instead a social holiday so there are no laws to pass, Jaclyn rallied her friends to join her on the Saturday before October 31st.

At 12 years old, Jaclyn made fliers and posted them in her favorite neighborhoods so everyone would be prepared to pass out candy before Halloween. She was surprised how receptive people were to her idea and they indeed were there to pass out candy when she trick or treated on the Saturday before.

Almost 20 years later, Jaclyn’s idea is gaining traction.  The Halloween and Costume Association has started a petition and has almost 100,000 signatures so far. They claim that the date change to the Saturday before Halloween will be safer and stress free. Over 60% of children don’t carry a flashlight, which makes them twice as likely to be hit by car on Halloween night.



Bookshop Santa Cruz Now Carries My Book "The Millennial's Guide to Free Child Care In Your Home"

My local bookstore Bookshop Santa Cruz now carries my book The Millennial’s Guide to Free Child Care in Your Home. If you're in the area, stop by and check out the Local Authors’ Section! 

Love to support brick and mortar bookstores, and hope you do too!  You can buy the book directly from Bookshop Santa Cruz by going here:



Summer Reading Lists - Part 2: Middle and High School

As promised in my earlier post, below is a list of recommended summer reading for older kids.

Don't let summer slip by with just games and sports - get them reading!

Horrible Histories  (Deary) 
Quest for a Maid (Hendry) 
Count of Monte Cristo  (Dumas)  
Treasure Island (Stevenson)  
Hard Times (Dickens)  
Rifles for Waite (Keith)  
Catherine, Called Birdy (Cushman)  
Watership Down (Adams)  
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (O'Brien)

Pride and Prejudice (Austen)
Gone with the Wind (Mitchell)
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Adams)
Small Gods (Pratchett)
Wuthering Heights (Bronte)
Time and Again  (Finney)
Angela's Ashes (McCourt)
Jane Eyre (Bronte)
Twelve Angry Men (Munyon)
Joy Luck Club (Tan)
Catch-22 (Heller)
Slaughterhouse-Five (Vonnegut) 


Summer Reading Lists - Part 1: Preschool & Elementary School

Reading for pleasure during the school year can be challenging when kids come home with hours of busy work (homework) and they're booked solid with extracurriculars (sports, musical  instruments, and clubs). It's tough to compete with teachers, and well, life! So during the summer, if you plan this out at the start of the summer, introduce the LOVE OF READING to your kids. Set up a family calendar where you list what they'll be reading each week.  Have the kids decide when they'll read (and finish!) each book. That way they won't reach the end of the summer with a stack full of books that haven't been opened!

Use this time to choose some classic books, the books that every kid SHOULD READ!  Like ROIs (return on investments), let's make sure they get the most bang for the buck with their reading.  Here's a list of books that I've compiled based on my kids' favorites and some authorities in the literary world. What books were your favorites?

The Giving Tree (Silverstein) 
How Much is a Million? (Schwartz) 
There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly (Taback) 
Where the Wild Things Are (Sendak) 
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (Viorst) 
Velveteen Rabbit (Williams)  
The Big Book for Peace (Dutton)

The Cricket in Times Square (Seden)  
Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes (Coerr)  
Where the Sidewalk Ends (Silverstein) 
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Dahl)  
Fables (Lobel)  
The Voyages of Dr. Doolittle (Lofting)  
Ralph S. Mouse (Cleary)  
Encyclopedia Brown (Sobol)  

Island of the Blue Dolphins (O'Dell) 
A Wrinkle in Time (L'Engle)  
Dear Mr. Henshaw (Cleary)  
Nancy Drew (Keene)  
Hardy Boys (Dixon)  
Boxcar Children (Warner)  
Harry Potter (Rowling) 
Secret Garden (Burnett)  
The Book of Three (Alexander)


Can't Afford to go to College Because of Childcare Costs?

Check out how I did it for free!

Only 8% of single mothers graduate from college within 6 years. The Achieving a Dream and the Biden Foundation are working together to find solutions to help these mothers go to college and get a degree, but they don’t have any funding.  Congress just increased funding to the Child Care Access Means Parents in School program (CCAMPIS) from $15 million to $50 million.  This program gives grants to colleges that support child care on campus but supports only 5,000 college students nationwide.

Mothers who don’t have family or friends who can help out with child care can set up free child care in their homes while they go to school and work part-time. I set up a preschool for my 2 daughters for 9 years so I could work full-time. By inviting 3-4 children to join the program and hiring a teacher to teach the classes, the parents’ tuition covered the cost of the teacher’s wages and materials. Check out The Millennial’s Guide to Free Child Care in Your Home to learn how to set this up for your children.



All Families Should be Able to Afford Child Care

Affordable child care continues to plague both families and day care workers.  The cost of child care often exceeds the cost of tuition at four-year public universities! That’s ridiculous!

Then, consider that day care workers make on average less than $23,000/year and 75% of them earn less than a living wage. So naturally, there’s a shortage of child care in most cities across the nation.

This hits low-income families the hardest because they pay about 30% of their income for child care. Higher-income families pay only about 8% of their income for child care.

The Child Care for Working Families Act proposes to cover 90% of the cost of infant-toddler care and meet quality standards and provide a living wage to teachers. Unfortunately, the current administration will only give funds to states that “remove unnecessary regulations” and the funds are insufficient to make a difference in the current child care crisis.


Step Back, Helicopter Moms!

Moms who hover over their children are Helicopter Moms. They’re worried that their children might get hurt so they constantly make sure that there environment is void of sharp corners or opportunities to put their kids at risk. These moms consider themselves to be superior to other types of mothers because they are always fussing over protective layers of clothing and gear for sports.

Children of Helicopter Moms might wear multiple layers of sweaters and jackets so they will be warm. When playing sports, they’ll be the player wearing every form of protective gear available. And if the flu is going around the school, this child will be wearing a mask and downing Vitamin C every few hours, and then they’ll be on their way to the ER to get antibiotics.

Helicopter Moms don’t stop worrying at high school graduation.  They’re the moms who make excuses for their college kids by requesting retakes on exams, or call in sick to their adult children’s employers. Yup, I can only image how they get entangled in their marriages and grandparenting.

The result of helicopter parenting is that these children aren’t prepared to make decisions on their own. This can lead to insecurity and often depression. So rather than hover over your child, let them experience some risks and manage their own consequences. A Helicopter Mom will never step back far enough to ever be accused of neglect or endangering their children. Just reel it in a bit so your children can experiment and grow. 



30 Million Words by Kindergarten

We know that reading to our children encourages them to read and explore ideas. Educators have been encouraging parents to read to their children for decades.  And we know that educated and wealthier parents try to make it a ritual – at bedtime if not more often – to read piles of books to our kids. There’s evidence that children from low-income homes have heard about 30 million LESS WORDS than kids from middle or upper income families. Here is just another example of how poverty negatively affects children and sets them back in the academic world.

If parents read 5 books per day to their children, these kids will be exposed to 30 million words when they enter kindergarten.  They’re more likely to be prepared to start school, read at their grade level, and be success in academics. Many low-income children don’t have access to books and may have been exposed to under 5,000 words (compared to 30 million!). Groups are donating books to underprivileged children to give them a head start. If you have books on your children’ bookshelves that they no longer read, consider donating them to women’s shelters, clubs, and other organizations.