Monday, October 31, 2011

Food Fight: Mom vs Kid

Sometimes I feel like a server in a restaurant. The establishment is my own home and my kids are my customers. I am the wait staff tasked with delivering the goods.

If you're a parent, then you likely know the score: you go out of your way to make a nutritious, balanced and (what you think is a) delicious meal only to hear one of the following statements:

- "I don't like this!"
- "What's that??"
- "I'm not going to eat it, you can't make me!"
- "I'm not eating that 'stuff' that's on it!"

If your home truly were a restaurant, you'd do what any server worth his or her salt would do: cater to your customer's every whim and remove the offending dish. Of course, you'd return with a meal that's just right, in order to make the customer happy (and to receive a generous tip). Now many of you are likely thinking "but this is not a restaurant, and I'm not acting in the role of my kid's personal wait staff." 

Aren't you?

How many times have you given in and made your child something different from what you originally served him or her for breakfast/lunch dinner? In an effort to make sure that your child has eaten something, have you gone back to the drawing board (kitchen) and come back with a whole new meal, something more to their liking?

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I'm guilty of this and will admit grudgingly that I do it all the time. I know I shouldn't but I do. The desire as a parent to assure your child's health and well-being supersedes any logical thought suggesting that perhaps your child would be better served by learning to eat what was put on his or her plate. No, that maternal urge to protect and nurture is strong, leading us to be our most harsh critic - and taskmaster. And let's not forget about the guilt. I will go out on a limb and suggest that women in particular are intensely interested - in some cases obsessed - with their kids' food intake. I may just add myself to this latter class. Yes, of course there is the desire to make sure that our kids are fed and nourished, but is there not a small shred of control that is part of this whole push and pull scenario that we play out with our children? You know: the fact that you have "slaved over a hot stove" to provide your kids with something healthy and the fact that they have the nerve to dismiss it and demand otherwise. That's pretty nervy, isn't it?

In so many other instances of parenting, we are able to exert our desires and general control over what our kids do and see, without too much difficulty. Yet food is often the last bastion of struggle where our children actually have a foothold in the duel, as we realize that we are not as strong as we think we are. Food, to many of us, is our Achilles Heel, and our kids know it. And while they say that they don't like this latest meal that you've put in front of them, it is often so much more about what they're not saying that is the crux of the matter. 

They know we're weak. 

They know we worry.

They know that as a parent, and a mother in particular, our very being is intricately tied up in our ability to feel that we've adequately taken care of their needs at the most primal levels: nourishment and food, at the top of the list, followed by love and shelter. Note that the "L" word is placed third on the list because, as much as we probably don't want to admit, children can't live on love alone. More practical needs must be addressed in order for them to survive.

The irony in this situation is that we will return to the kitchen to prepare yet another meal at the request of our kids in order for them to perhaps love us just a little more. This may seem like a stretch but I'm not convinced that the second, third and (heavens forbid) fourth meal/option that is provided to our little ones are solely for the purposes of nourishment. Yes, it's a component, but isn't the caving in regarding food about wanting our kids to like or love us more? Do you not give them what they want to make them happy (not just to nourish them), and, in turn, to think that mom is just that much nicer? Because at the end of the day, were insecure about the extent of our kids' love for us, sadly. It's just our nature.

So to recap:

  • We want control
  • We want our kids to acknowledge the effort we put into caring for them (and may make them feel guilty in doing so) 
  • We want our kids to love us

And so we continue this game day after day, meal after meal. The frustration doesn't cease and still we persevere. 

Lets hope that laying it out on the table will turn on a lightbulb in our heads (mine included), and perhaps give us pause the next time we head back to the kitchen to prepare meal #2. We don't need to make a made-to-order dish for our kids to get them to love us. "Today's Special" should be good enough.

Do you give in and make your kids' different meals if they won't eat the one that you put in front of them? Why or why not? 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Bedtime Follies: A Four-Part Comedy

Bedtime is a blast for many of us moms.

Dinner has been eaten (sometimes), baths have been drained and we're in the home stretch, we tell ourselves.

We've had an exhausting day and all we want to do is kiss our little darlings goodnight before hitting the hay ourselves, or perhaps have some "me" time. Except our children often have other ideas. What is that expression about "the best laid plans?"

If you're like me, you have little patience. After all, patience is supposedly a virtue and virtuousness and exhaustion do not always go hand in hand, I'm sorry to say. By the end of the day, mommy wants sleep - for herself. Having to deal with a four-part comedy is not what the doctor ordered. I use the term "comedy" loosely as the situation is truly funny - if you are not part of it, as I am. If you are the resident mom, it's not funny at all. As a matter of fact, it's a nightmare. Except you're awake to experience it. Not fun.

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I call these precious childhood moments "The Bedtime Follies." These four-part (daily) comedies go something like this:
Act I
The whining begins. Pre-bath, the complaints (often in an unintelligible toddler language) rise to a fever pitch as nerves are frayed and baths are filled. Avoidance is exerted by those who will fight the horror of personal hygiene. Bribery, negotiation and threats do not work, and the protagonist (mom) is reduced to action via brute force (okay, not "brute" exactly, but physical delivery of said children into said tub - often against their wishes).
Act II
Once immersed, there seems to be a direct correlation between the amount of water that touches the skin and the volume of screaming. Let's not mention toys that are going astray, water that is soaking the bathroom floor and general mayhem. Soap is a foreign and scary object and, according to the kids, should be treated as such. Soap touching this skin is akin to Superman touching Kryptonite. Except the stakes are apparently higher, if you ask any toddler.
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You've managed to get them bathed and clothed in their PJs but you're not out of the woods yet. The highlight of The Follies is about to begin. People need to go to the bathroom. Repeatedly. People want drinks of juice and water. People want milk. Monsters need to be coaxed from under the bed. This goes on for an indeterminate period of time until mom or dad reaches their limit and shouting commences. Mom and dad are the ones shouting the loudest. 

After much time passing and the inevitability of exhaustion (for all) sleep overtakes all parties and the curtain closes on yet another day - or night of fun and games. 

Like any good play, there is a chance to confer with one's date (spouse) post-production over a glass of wine (or two) and to discuss the effect of the previous events on one's psyche. Was it evocative? Was it intense? Did it bring out emotions in you that you didn't know were possible? If you are the parent of young children, then the answer is "yes" to all three questions.

Do you experience The Bedtime Follies in your home? How do you cope with them? Please provide your tips in the comments below!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Post Halloween Horrors: A Top 5 How-To Guide For Parents

Halloween is almost upon us and so, of course, are the requisite signs of the season.

The houses are decked out in orange and black, ghosts and ghouls abound, and the anticipation of a sugar-filled bounty fills the thoughts of children everywhere.

Halloween is a scary time of year, especially if you're a child grown-up who was to deal an inevitable part of being a parent: putting the brakes on the fun. If you're far from Martha Stewart perfection, then your kids are probably already annoyed and disappointed with you. After all, instead of beautiful and perfectly made homemade costumes that took weeks to perfect, your kids are slumming with a last-minute score from the picked-over rack at Walmart. Your daughter didn't want to dress up as a psychotic clown, but that's beside the point.

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The mega-ton of candies and treats that that have now become the norm at Halloween need to be kept in check. A damper needs to be put on the festivities, because after all - that's your job, mom! Evil and vicious people are everywhere, waiting to put razor blades and poison in candies. Cavities are just waiting to be formed and teeth are on the cusp of falling out in response to the massive amounts of sugar that will be crossing the oral threshold shortly.

Thankfully, you are an unselfish and altruistic sort. You care about your kids and will do everything you can to assure their safety and well-being. This being the case, you will not only sort through the candies post trick-or-treating on the important night, but - horror of horrors - you will store the candies for your kids as well. Furthermore, you will say "no" to the inevitable requests for candies at breakfast, lunch, dinner and every waking moment in between. Mom/Dad - you are a "buzz kill."

Crying and complaining will ensue when you advise your kids that three chocolate bars does not a breakfast make. Nor do Kit Kats or Oh Henry's round out the requirements for a balanced and nutritious meal.
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When this occurs, refer to the following list of required items that will get you through the post-Halloween trauma reasonably unscathed:

1) Earplugs - These will assist you in sanity when the inevitable crying begins.

2) Patience - You will need this in large amounts to get you through the repeated mantra that goes like this: "Mommy, can I have a Halloween treat? "Mommy, can I have a Halloween treat? "Mommy, can I have a Halloween treat? "Mommy, can I have a Halloween treat?"Mommy, can I have a Halloween treat?"

3) Nerves of Steel - Do you break down when your child won't stop whining/crying/complaining? If so, appeal to the inner calm that you have somewhere inside that parental body of yours and say it once again: "NO!!" Stare them down and keep your resolve. When you feel like you're weakening, keep in mind the sugar high and related behaviour that would ensue if you said "yes." It would be 100 times worse than what you're dealing with now so, be thankful and stay on course.

4)A Good Hiding Place - This is required to stash the Halloween Booty so that the kids don't overdose from the copious amounts of sugar that will be permeating their bloodstream in the unlikely event that you leave the treats in their reach. As well, you need that special place where you can go (a closet, perhaps) and hunker down with those miniature-sized chocolates and bags of chips, uninterrupted. After all, you've earned it.

5) Advil - Okay, Tylenol may suffice. The bottom line is that you will require some type of pain medication to kick in when the inevitable screaming and crying fits occur following the continual requests for candy morning, noon and night, until they run out. Be prepared, take two (or three or more) and refer to item #1 to help you keep sane.  

What are your plans for dealing with the inevitable onslaught of requests for treats that follow October 31st? Will you be strong and say "no," have a metered approach and dole out candies sparingly, or just let the kids have a free-for-all and a continual "sugar high" for weeks so you don't have to deal with the whining? Leave your comments below!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Spelling, Grammar, Kids and College

My last post on Kids and Cell Phones made me think more about the whole mobile phone phenomenon and the resulting effects on our kids, not just regarding health and safety.

In the past 10 years, text messaging has become a standard for the younger set. A whole new lexicon of words - if you can call them that - has emerged as a result of SMS, cell phones and the convenience of sending a quick message.

Full disclosure: I will say for the record here and now that I am a bit of a spelling and grammar fanatic and get more than a bit perturbed by errors in this area. Not that I don't make them - I do - but I try to keep the errors to a minimum and make a concentrated effort to use the correct words and spellings whenever I can. But that's beside the point.

There's a much larger issue at play these days, something that's way beyond this particular blogger. The issue of kids and their general literacy is one with which we should all be concerned.

The Spelling and Grammar Fairies Are Sleeping.

This is clearly the case as the uptake of mobile phone adoption and text messaging continues to increase by younger and younger children. I don't know if it's just me, but I'm still shocked by the fact that kids as young as six and seven are toting cell phones and texting like it's the norm. I've seen it with my own two eyes, sadly, and increasingly it looks like this trend is here to stay. But that's another story.

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Getting back to the topic at hand, there does seem to be a relationship, between the increase in using short-form spelling like what is commonly used via text-messaging and the ability to properly spell and understand language and grammar. As a parent, I'm concerned. Concerned that there will need to be a more concentrated effort in teaching my younger children the importance of knowing how to spell, write and communicate effectively and correctly. About the fact that the use of proper grammar is extremely important in the real world, especially when one goes out to seek a job and start a career. As much as kids these days think it's alright to abbreviate words in their texts, online and increasingly their written correspondence, it is not. If one is not able to articulate their positions intelligently, grammatically correctly, and spelled properly, they will lose out on not only future opportunities but so much more.

Those who are able to convey their thoughts coherently have a much better chance at getting into college or university, which we all know will help them with a leg up in this increasingly competitive world. For kids to grow into contributing adults who hold down responsible jobs and careers, they must be able to spell. It's as simple as that. Putting a sentence together is a basic skill, and sadly it's being lost. 

So that being said, I do feel pressure to perhaps underscore the importance of reading, spelling and grammar in general to my younger kids, more so than I would have, if there SMS messaging was not the norm. How successful will I be? Well, time will tell, I guess.

How about you? Are you concerned about the ability of children in general to spell and use grammar correctly? How can parents overcome the tendency of kids to use short-form spelling and incorrect grammar in their daily lives?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Kids and Cell Phones: How Young is Too Young?

How young is too young for a cell phone?

It may seem like a strange question, but I'm really curious. 

Increasingly, I've seen kids as young as six and seven toting mobile phones, chatting away and texting. Often in the presence of their parents, whom I can only assume are the purveyors of these phones.

Does anyone else see a problem with this?

I understand the arguments: safety, tracking, security and otherwise, but I really have to wonder. Is a cell phone really necessary for a child, and if so, what is the appropriate age to provide one, and why?

Way back in the Stone Age when I was a kid, there were no cell phones and I had to contact my parents the old-fashioned way - via a land line. When I was old enough to go out somewhere on my own or with friends, I called them from - gasp! - a pay phone! Now I get that these relics of antiquity are no longer in existence, or if they are, they're few and far between, but they served my purposes just fine. They got the job done.

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I may appear at this point to be shooting myself in the foot and sabotaging my own argument by saying that there no longer exists a wealth of pay phones on every corner. This, evidently, poses a problem for parents who want their kids to remain in touch. It seems like the cell phone is the obvious and only choice in these instances. Furthermore, many households have abandoned the old-fashioned land lines of yore, choosing instead to stay connected through a few mobile phones for each family member. In these circumstances, there is no choice but to provide a phone to even the youngest child right?


There has to be a cutoff point as to where we draw the line. How young is too young? Frankly, I'm uneasy when I see children of six and seven talking on cell phones. Disregarding the possible health risks, there are clearly other potential problems that could result:
  • Early cell-phone use in children has been suspected as the cause of increased behavioral problems
  • The cell phone becomes yet another distraction, taking away time from schoolwork, family time and more
  • Text-messaging can decrease kids' abilities to communicate effectively (e.g. spelling, grammar)
  • Parents have less control over whom their children have communications with
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All that being said, I will concede that this is a different world, a different time from when many of us grew up. Times change, technology advances and what was non-existent just decades previously now becomes the norm. Such is the case with mobile technology and cell phones in particular. Nevertheless, I'm still taken aback when I see a kid who's not old enough to participate in many of the attendant privileges of adulthood chatting away on a cell phone. But that's just me.

So I'll put it out there: How young is too young for a cell phone? How do you feel about kids and mobile phones? Would you get one for your child, and if so, at what age?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Sound of Silence

"Hello darkness, my old friend..."

Such are the opening words of a classic song by Simon and Garfunkel.

"The Sound of Silence," - this phrase alone is evocative of the mystery and beauty that is found in the far reaches of night.

There is a beauty in silence. This is particularly the case when you have many children of a young age. I, like many parents, deal with the constant din of childhood, whether it be via voice or vehicle - the latter a toy version, of course.

Being a mom, it becomes a rare occasion where silence is experienced in its entirety, and because of this, it is all the more savoured when it occurs.

Like the beauty of a double rainbow, a brilliant sunset or a meteor shower, pure silence is infrequent, evasive and fleeting when it does actually present itself, providing all the more incentive for those experiencing it to cherish those precious moments.  

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In my own experience, even the dead of night does not deliver the silence so desperately craved. There are children to be soothed, monsters to be banished and trips to the bathroom that invariably break the peacefulness of this otherwise quiet time. In an ideal scenario where, perhaps, there are no dead-of-night wake-ups, is it ever really silent, in the true sense of the word? Do any of us really know what true silence sounds like? Because we have become a society that has become numbed to the continual "white noise" that is the background to our lives day and night, many of us haven't really known the beauty of quiet.

The sad reality is that in the 24-hour world in which we now live, rarely do any of us ever experience true silence. The availability of all-night TV, online access that never ceases and constant connectivity via cell phones and otherwise  has further distanced all of us from the possibility of peace. This can't be good.

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For those regular occasions where we are awoken by our children in the wee hours of the night, perhaps we should look at the opportunity to cherish those intimate moments as well as stealing a few precious minutes of true peace and quiet (I, for one, should take my own advice). Because like everything else in life, anything worth having, is well worth waiting for - even if it's delivered at 4:00am.

How often do you really experience true silence? When it does occur, do you enjoy it or turn on the TV/radio/ipod?

Simon and Garfunkel - The Sound of Silence

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Top 10 Tips For Surviving Holiday Dinners

The holidays are great, for the most part.

'Tis the season, as (Canadian) Thanksgiving is underway and the holiday season is just around the corner. 

With the happiness and anticipation of getting together for a cup of good cheer, as well as some good grub, let's face it - there's also some trepidation. At least that's the case for many of us who don't have the perfect family situations that are portrayed in many movies and TV shows.

Quite frankly, the thought of sitting down at the holiday table with the family casts a jolt of dread though a large group of folks who would much rather avoid what may turn out to be World War III. Whether it's an irritating aunt who won't let up on your "single" status, a drunken uncle who keeps on drinking (and insulting everyone present in the process) or sibling rivalry that has continued well into adulthood, it's no wonder that the upcoming events of the season can be anxiety-inducing, to say the least. That being said, there are some tried-and-true tactics to get you through the events unscathed, regardless of who's attending.

The Top 10 Tips For Surviving Holiday Dinners

1) Be Prepared - Get yourself into the right state of mind before breaking bread with loved (and not so loved) ones. Consider the situation, the lay of the land, the attendees and more. Find out who will be there, and if you learn that some of your less-liked relatives will in fact be sitting down to a meal at the same table as you, brace yourself and refer to tips #4 and #5.

2) Coat of Armour - Steel yourself. Okay, not literally, but figuratively. If you know that your cousin's husband is a boor, expect to   hear his ridiculous comments and be prepared to be the bigger person and not call him on them. It's only once a year that you have to deal with him, after all. 

3) Set Boundaries - Know what you can and can't deal with. If some of the relatives in question are irritating but bearable, then grit your teeth and attend for the sake of the rest of the family. If the situation is completely untenable, then bail. It's okay to say "no" and not attend because, after all, your sanity and peace of mind are worth it.

4) Accept What You Cannot Change - "It is what it is." Repeat this mantra internally when you're ready to pull your hair out at the antics of Aunt Betty. You won't have to see her again until next year.

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5) Let Bygones Be Bygones - Let it go, don't harbour old wounds. Attending a gathering with a combative state of mind will only stir things up and make things more difficult than they have to be. Be the bigger person and leave the past behind.

6) Stay on the Wagon - As much as alcohol is often part of the festivities over the holidays, it can no doubt add fuel to the proverbial fire, if you know what I mean. One or two drinks might be okay in a tense situation, but if you are really stressed about a couple of dinner attendees, don't drink in excess. You may say or do things that you will regret later.

7) Be Positive - It's true that the best indicator of present behaviour is past behaviour, but this doesn't mean that people can't change. Just because Uncle Jim is usually a jerk every holiday gathering doesn't necessarily mean that he hasn't changed this year. Who knows: maybe he's had a change of heart and seen the error of his ways. Give him the benefit of the doubt and you may be surprised.

8) Remember: Nobody's Perfect - You may feel irritated by certain family members' behaviours, but try to keep in mind that no one is perfect. The holidays are a great time to put ourselves in check and perhaps ask whether we've been a bit harsh, or have set up unrealistic standards for others. Even if the answer is "no," now is a good time to be more forgiving of others' foibles and weaknesses.

9) Put out Fires - If you're able to do some damage control before the big event, do so. This may mean reaching out to that relative who has irked you for years. Instead of stressing out about seeing him or her at the family dinner, extend an olive branch if you can and make amends. Your subsequent get-together will be so much more enjoyable.

10) Remember Why You're There - It's all about family, loved ones, good times and gratefulness. Enjoy the time together and remember - we don't choose our relatives, so make the best of what you've got!

What are some of your tips for getting through the holidays and family gatherings? 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Tips for Moms in 30 Seconds or Less - Launch of 30Second Mom

Moms - Sometimes 30 seconds is all you've got in the midst of your busy life. Thankfully, there's a new and exciting resource that will provide you with tips, advice and more that can be digested in 30 seconds or less.

30Second Mom has just launched, and I am thrilled to be part of this innovative and unique resource for busy moms. As a regular contributor, I will be providing quick tips and advice for moms who - like me - have limited time and need practical suggestions on-the-go.

A free mobile app that is now available at your fingertips, 30Second Mom features hundreds of helpful tips that are designed to be viewed via video or text on a smartphone in about 30 seconds or less. The content is created and provided by an international and diverse group of contributors who share tips across a wide selection of lifestyle categories including Kids, Food, Health, Money, Travel, Home, Beauty and more.

"Today’s women are clearly busier than ever - especially moms - and we’re turning to our mobile devices to help us keep it all together," said 30Second Mom founder Elisa All, a new-media entrepreneur and mother of three. "Gone are the days of being tied to a computer. Forget the laptop - Mommy needs a smartphone!" 

In partnership with U.S. Cellular, this unique innovation promises to be the vanguard of the next wave of mobile applications that can make a positive contribution to the busy lives of moms everywhere.

Please check out the site and sign on for the mobile apps that you can take with you anywhere. From your smartphone, you will have a virtual one-stop shop of advice, tips, suggestions and more! You can also subscribe to the 30Second Mom channel on YouTube, found here.

Here are some tips that I've provided for the site. Check back in regularly for more from myself as well as a variety of other on-the go moms. Hope you'll enjoy the site and sharing the tips as well!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Hijacked at the Checkout

"That'll be $57.24, please. And would you like to donate to [INSERT CHARITY HERE]"

Has this ever happened to you?

If you are a regular grocery shopper, the answer is likely "yes." Increasingly, stores have taken to "guerrilla collection tactics" with regards to the charity of the hour. 

Ambushed is how I feel, quite frankly.

It's enough to count your pennies and stay within a reasonable budget when going through the checkout line. Furthermore, there is often the distraction/anxiety-producing reality of having one, two, three or more kids with you when you're shopping. Do you really need to have to deal with this?

This latest solicitation has me, well, angry. I resent being put on the spot when

a) I'm not in the mindset to be "pitched" for money;
b) I'm put in the position of feeling cheap and being embarrassed in front of everyone else in line if i say   "no;" and
c) The person asking usually doesn't explain the details of who or what the money is for, how it will be used/allocated, and related topics;

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Stores are more frequently using this tactic for what appears to be the express purpose of "contribution via embarrassment." It appears that the strategy behind this type of tactic is to shame the purchaser into saying "yes" because they are put on the spot and caught off guard. With other shoppers in the grocery line behind them, all within earshot of the purchaser's response, it takes a strong person to say "no" and not feel embarrassed, cheap or ashamed of their decision.

It has been found that it is a lot more difficult to reject a request for money when you are looking at a person face to face, than it is to be solicited over the phone, or via email/regular mail. The confrontational nature of the request and basic human psychology dictates that most of us are uncomfortable with saying "no" and disappointing the person asking. And this is exactly what marketers and charities using this tactic are counting on. For this reason alone, I will purposely decline the request for funds solicited in this manner.

Charities and corporations working together need to stop these types of ambush techniques if they really want to keep the respect and loyalty of their customers. Because at the end of the day, customers will make their dismay at these tactics known by taking themselves - and their dollars - elsewhere.
Has this ever happened to you? What do you think of this type of solicitation? Do you donate to charities via requests at the checkout line?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Top 10 Classic Children's Movies of All Time

There are so many new kiddie flicks that come out regularly these days, and with the recent emphasis on 3D movies and special effects, I find myself waxing nostalgic and reminiscing the days of my youth where watching a movie, especially at home on TV, was a special treat. As much as we all may enjoy the incredible special effects that the newer films offer, many of the children's movies of a bygone era are irreplaceable.

Many of us have "Movie Nights" in our homes. Watching the daily fare on the tube doesn't hold a candle to getting a prime spot on the couch with your kids, some popcorn and your favorite children's film to make it an evening to remember. That being said, I will go out on a limb and admit that I personally dig the classic children's movies more so than the more recent offerings. I don't know what it is but I find them much more magical and thought-provoking. Sure, I've enjoyed some of the neat effects and futuristic story lines of the past few years but nothing can hold a candle to Judy Garland chanting "There's no place like  home," and other goodies.

To that end, here are my picks for the top 10 classic children's movies of all time (in my humble opinion).

The Top 10 Classic Children's Movies of All Time

1) The Sound of Music (1965) - The hills truly were alive when Julie Andrews created the character of Maria in this timeless and beautiful film about the Von Trapp family. From the breathtaking scenery to the unforgettable music to the touching storyline about the Von Trapp family children, this film has it all.

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 2) The Wizard of Oz (1939) - Who could forget Dorothy's ruby slippers and her determined quest to make her way back to Kansas? How about the Wicked Witch of the West? The Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion round out a cast of characters that make this gem from 1939 a must-see classic.

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3) E.T. (1982) - This heartwarming story of a stranded alien who forms a close relationship with a little boy is one that the whole family will enjoy. An early front-runner of the then-emerging computer graphics-based movie (CG) genre made this movie particularly compelling. Enjoyable for both the kids and the parents.

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4) Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) - No explanation necessary for this one. I mean, mounds of candy in every shot, the fantasy of access to every treat that your heart desires, oh, yeah, and the plot. Your kids will love it.

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5) Charlotte's Web (1973) - A doomed pig and his true arachnid friend. Sounds like a bizarre basis for a movie, but it works. Despite the sad reality that is at the core of the story, this animated musical has all of the elements that make a movie memorable: solid plot, well-developed characters and entertainment value, among others. Warning: it's a tearjerker.

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6) Pinocchio (1940) - The story of a hopeful wooden puppet who longs to become a "real boy" touches the hearts of young and old alike. I still remember being a child and the feelings evoked when Jiminie Cricket sang "When You Wish Upon a Star" to Pinocchio. This story is timeless and the film stands up to many modern children's movies that are not half as imaginative.

7) The Red Balloon (1956) - This film made a lasting impression on me when I saw it as a young girl. I can still remember the myriad of feelings and emotions that it evoked, in spite of the movie's simple premise. One of the best movies for kids ever (video below).
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8) The Parent Trap (1961) - Hayley Mills stars as herself - times two - as identical twin girls who are dealing with their divorced parents. Touching and entertaining, this film is so much better than the 1998 Lindsay Lohan version.

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9)Mary Poppins (1964) - When Mary Poppins sings "A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down," you actually believe her. Who wouldn't want a nanny like this one, sugar, umbrella, flying abilities and all? This is one great family flick that will remain a classic for years to come.

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10) Miracle on 34th Street (1947) - Okay, it's a holiday flick, but that doesn't take away from the fact that a young Natalie Wood steals the show in this wonderfully touching movie. It makes you believe in Santa Claus all over again. 
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So there you have it - some great movies to watch, curled up on the couch with the kids. Stay tuned for The Top 10 Modern Children's Movies of All Time coming soon!

What are your picks for the best classic family movies?

VIDEO: The Red Balloon