This post is sponsored by JIF®.

Parents have many jobs. It is our job to love and to teach. It is also our job to guide and to listen. We wear so many hats – and thank goodness for that! Our children see the world through our lens for the very first few years. These years have truly been some of my favorite so far! But it’s not all about bedtime stories and kissed scraped knees. Parents are also responsible to help their children develop their own imagination, passion, kindness, and confidence. And it’s not just about big ticket items – there are those small wins as well.  The moments in our lives that truly define us and mold us into who we are to become. Passion is what separates those who love life and those who just go through the motions. My only wish is that my children live lives filled with love and passion!  It’s my job to show them just how important that is.

So, how can we do this? It’s simpler than we think. Let them see you living your dreams. Better yet, have your children live your dreams with you. Personally, I love to travel. So, I make sure that I bring my kids with me wherever I go. Whether we are heading to Spain, Malta or to the Amalfi Coast, my family is in tow. They see how important it is for me to be a citizen of the world, and I know I am instilling this love for culture in them as well.

But it doesn’t have to be so global. You can get pretty micro in your thoughts. Think about school and their after-hour activities! Are you placing them in programs that work best for your schedule or that work best for a car pool that you know about? Or are you placing them in activities that you know your children absolutely LOVE? It is more important to do the latter, of course. I live in a town that is filled with sports fanatics. My daughter wants to sing. It puts me in a harder situation because I am limited with resources, but we make it work because I know that is something that she loves to do.  Watching her go from one instructor to the next gives me such pride because I can see that Natalie is building up her confidence for when she has to hit the stage. As a parent, it’s not about throwing them to the wolves – what a very old mentality to have! Instead, we make sure that our daughter has ample time to practice, rehearse and fine-tune her skills. This is her dream and so… it has become ours.

What does that mean? Lots of singing and stage acts for us to enjoy during snack time! Who can complain? There’s always some sort of entertainment going on in my house. I usually serve the kids JIF® Peanut Butter with Jelly on crackers or fruit. I love to mix things up. Speaking of imagination – I even let the little ones create their dishes when they come home from school. I love to see what they come up with – especially my son, Liam. His favorite go-to treat is usually “ants on a log,” which consists of celery stuffed with JIF® peanut butter and then sprinkled with either cranberries, raisins, or grapes. Super fun! It feels good to know that these snacks satisfy hunger while tasting as great as they do. A win-win for the entire family.

Snack time is also used as a moment to reconnect as a family. We use this time to allow the kids to talk about their days – everything from moments of uncertainty to big wins. We, as parents, want to hear it all. The good, the bad, and the ugly. This is a daily must-do in our home. There’s nothing more special to me than making eye contact with my little ones as they gab on about their adventures. I could get lost in their stories forever.

And as far as my four-year-old is concerned, we like to teach him independence and responsibility by allowing him to clean up after snack time with his older brother and sister. It’s all hands on deck at the Sweeney house. But you know what? He loves it! There’s nothing a toddler wants more than to feel like part of the team. Caleb gets to feel confident that he knows how to wipe down the table… and I don’t have to! LOL! Score! 

Take the Parents 30-Day Challenge

I would love for you to jump in and take a 30-day challenge starting this month! Parents and JIF® have teamed up to help you reset your back-to-school routines and help your kid get a leg up on life. You will find 30 days-worth of activities here to help inspire you to feed your kids’ potential with fun activities to do as a family. Click here to read all about it.

Enter the “Imagine If, with Jif®” Contest

There’s also an incredible contest for you to enter! The “Imagine If, With Jif®” contest is a new brand mission by JIF® designed to nourish, reward and share the every day and the most inspiring endeavors that kids take on, with a little encouragement.

Here’s how to enter:

Visit and submit a video that highlights your kid’s dreams or entrepreneurial ideas for making our world a better place for a chance to win up to $30,000 in funding for your kid’s idea! The contest runs on IndieGoGo from September 12th – October 23rd. See Official Rules for details 

You can also submit your child’s story and photos of them doing something great, confident, passionate or kind. Your story and images might be selected to be illustrated by a professional team and JIF®!

Transform your child’s photo into something extraordinary (for example, if your child is brave, JIF® may turn them into a Viking or a superhero.)

Special Offer: You can also order a digitally-printed jar of JIF® that features a child’s photo and story- a great gift for birthdays! Click here to check that out. Super fun!

How do you plan on developing your child’s imagination, passion, kindness, and confidence this back-to-school season? Would love to hear! Are you a fan of JIF®? What is your favorite after-school snack?

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