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Thoughts about teens, tweens, parenting and this adventure of living on Earth in the 21st century.

Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

10 Tips for after school fun

September 8, 2014

Yes! Now we're cooking'

Yes! Now we’re cooking’

It’s Monday… again, back on the hamster wheel. Wasn’t it just Friday afternoon? What happened to those weekend plans to relax? Maybe go for a family bike ride? Or out for some food and a movie? And then, on late Sunday afternoon, you planned to tune into Spa Radio and fall asleep on the couch. But someone took your nap, didn’t they?  ‘Cause you sure never got it. None of the rest of those plans materialized either.

And what the hell was going on this morning? Why were the kids so slow you had to threaten them with “Do you wanna walk to school?!” three times? On top of that, the international news is… scareee.

21st century. Not easy. You’ve got stress and so do your kids.  So how about when you and the kids reconnect later today, you have some serious fun together?

First, when you lay eyes on them, make sure you avoid these joy-busters:

1. “How was school?”

2. “Did you remember to bring home your jacket?”

3. “Did you tell the teacher that you need to sit closer to the board?”

4. “Did you finish your lunch?”

5.  “How did you do on your _____ test?”

6. “Did people like your _________?”

7. “Who did you play with at recess?”

8. “Do you have a lot of homework?”


Instead, cheerfully announce that homework will be delayed today (Fun first – Work later.)

Then try some of these together

1. Take a neighborhood walk searching for “wildlife” (Yes, caterpillars count.)

2. Take photos of those critters and post them on FB with silly captions.

3. Find a shedding tree, then stomp on, kick, toss or roll around in its leaves.

4. Bring home some red, yellow, orange leaves and tape them to a window. (Instant stained-glass!)

5. Make popcorn. (For extra fun, try it without a lid. Go on, live a little.)

6. Tell each other something funny, surprising, or lucky that happened today.

7. Make/bake something for tonight’s dessert. (Leave some for tonight’s dessert.)

8. Read a story, then re-write the ending. Wacky is good!

9. Plan Halloween costumes. (Search for images or better yet, draw what you’re imagining.)

10. Make fun plans for next weekend. (And make them happen!)


Love to hear some fun ways you reconnect with your kids after school.


New school year, new school… new friends (please!!)

August 29, 2014

When you’re all cozy in a friendship you can totally relax. Even going to school is more fun because your friend is there. But when you move to a school where you know no one, and your bff friend from your old school stops acting like a friend, then nothing feels right.

I recently got this email from a girl who is in that sad place:

Girls' Friendship Q&A Book, iIllustration by Erica DeChavez

Where do I fit it?!  (from The Girls’ Friendship Q&A Book, by Annie Fox, illustrated by Erica DeChavez, © Annie Fox and Erica DeChavez. Coming in September 2014)

Hey Terra,

Last year I moved to a new place. Later I heard that my best friend was best friends with some new girl. That girl is apparently really popular and cool (and also kinda mean) and in one year’s time my bff has become friends with all the poplar kids at school. I know it’s wrong of me, but  I feel really sad and envious. I have seen posts of both of them saying how much fun they have together and how they love each other. (Come on! I knew her much longer than this new girl!) And the sucky part is that at my new school, my new friends keep ditching me. I feel so depressed. :(
–Sad and Jealous

Dear Sad and Jealous,

When you moved, what did you expect your best friend to do? Spend all day in her room feeling sad and lonely? Of course she missed you. She also wanted and needed new friends. I’m guessing that you are feeling “sad and envious” because you haven’t yet connected with real friends at your new school. HINT: Real friends do not “keep ditching” you.

A new school year just started. My best advice: stop checking your old friend’s FB page. It’s bringing you down! Don’t do it any more. Instead create a new goal for yourself… “I’m going to find a new best friend.”
Here’s how:

  • Grab a piece of paper and make a list (I love lists!)
  • Think long and deep about what’s really important to you in a friendship.
  • Write down all the traits you are looking for in a best friend. For example, you might write: Loyal, a sense of humor, intelligent, shares my interests… etc etc etc.
  • Use that list and go “shopping” for a new best friend. (Be on the lookout for the kind of people at school who’ve got what you want in a friend.)
  • When you find one, smile, say, “Hi,” and see what happens.

Go for it! Good luck! And please let me know how it goes.

Three weeks later…

Hey Terra,

I’M DOING GREAT :D I made a few more new friends who wont ditch me? and I think I have gotten over my old best friend. Though I think it would still take some time before I make a best friend.

Thank you so much, Terra!

I love happy beginnings. ;O)

If you could use some new friends this year (you can never have too many of the real kind) make a list and go shopping. It could work for you, too.


How to be happy for 40 years

August 25, 2014

Annie and David, August 25, 1974

Annie and David, August 25, 1974

August 25, 1974  – David and I got married on Long Island, under a tree. We wrote our own vows, put real flowers on top of the cake, and instructed the official to lose the “obey” and just go with “honor.” Sounds like a hippie wedding, but it was real. At least, I think so. Being the 70′s, reality was up for grabs.

Anyway, it’s 40 years today and if someone asked me “Why did you marry David, a guy that you’d only recently met on vacation?” I would say, because David saw wonderful things in me that I didn’t know were there. I saw what he saw in the video tape he made of our first days together and it blew me away. I figured “If he sees that in me, then I’ve gotta stay with this man so I can become those things.” So I did. And I did.

If someone asked David, “Why’d you marry Annie?” He’d say… Wait a minute. I don’t actually know what he’d say. Let me go ask. (Short commute to David’s office next door….. )

Here’s what he said: “I married you because you are those wonderful things…. and because it was so natural being with you. When people saw us in those first few days they were amazed we’d just met. They thought we’d been together for years. We had been together for years… in other lifetimes. You are my soulmate.”

How can you not love a guy who is so awesome that he still says stuff like that after forty years?

So you want to know the secret of being happy for the long-haul? Here you go:

• Be nice. You’re not going to feel like it all the time, but when things are just fine, think of ways to show that you really are your partner’s best friend.

• Do fun stuff. You don’t need to be inseparable, but you’ve gotta find a least one thing (outside of sex) that you both enjoy doing together and do it, often.

• Laugh. Together. A lot. Life is funny. Even when it’s frustrating and crazy. So you’ve gotta laugh. As my dad used to say, “What else ya’ gonna do?” Good point.

• Share the chores. At best, housework is boring, but it really sucks when it’s marinated in resentment. Share the recycling, vacuuming, laundry, shopping, etc. Your home will stay cleaner and you’ll have more time for the fun stuff.

• Eat.  Food is life. If you really get into it, you can extract endless joy from cooking and baking. And then there’s growing what you eat. But even if none of that is your thing, make the time to sit down for meals together. Savor the food. Savor the company. Enjoy.

• Show appreciation. Everyone likes having their efforts noticed. Whether it’s filling up the car, appearing at your desk with a snack, or massaging your feet…. “Thank you!” says “I love you and appreciate this kindness.”

• Talk it out. Stress, anger, resentment, worry gets in the way of feeling close. Some is directed at your partner, some isn’t. Whenever you feel your Monkey Mind careening into dark corners, put on the brakes, toss that chimp aside and talk to your partner. The goal isn’t to dump your load, the goal is to share it and lighten it.

• Listen to each other. Our emotions and life experiences make us all so fragile. In your partnership, make it safe to talk by being the kind of partner who knows how to listen with an open heart, an open mind, and open arms. This is truly the secret of a healthy marriage.

• Unplug. If it feels like you and/or your partner spend too much time looking at a screen, you probably do. Talk about that and how you can get back in balance so the relationship gets more of the attention it deserves.

• Have adventures. We love to hike and we don’t always know where we are or if we’re headed in the right direction.  Adventures require a willingness to wander and that’s sure to bring you to unheard of places. Some will be scary. Some, just freakin’ weird. But the juice of a great partnership is trusting that the two of you can figure anything out together.

Okay, it’s 9:28. Time for this anniversary party to get started. Enjoy your day. David and I wish you and your sweetie lots of love and laughter.

Here's looking at you

Here’s looking at you


Filed under: Parenting — Tags: , , , — Annie @ 10:01 am
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