Posted in Family, Opinion, parenting, teen, toddlers, Uncategorized

When I just don’t want to play

 

 

Image result for child growing up

 

I get bored with playing. There, I said it. It’s hard, even as a blogger of parenting articles and other family related activities, to always express my personal life for public use. However, in order to write honestly, I think I have to.

Sometimes, I don’t want to play pretend. I want to just read and tune out. I don’t want to color or play play-dough. It’s too hot for playing tag and too cold to splash in puddles. Sometimes, I don’t want be completely immersed in another person. I don’t want to talk. I don’t want to ask the same question over and over, or give the same answer over and over.  Sometimes, I want to do nothing.

Sometimes, I just don’t want to do these things. But I do them, even if halfheartedly on the rougher days. Coming home from work and transitioning into mom mode isn’t always easy. But I do it.

Because I know there will be a day when I go to start playing and my daughter will say no. That she doesn’t want to play pretend. She just wants to read and tune out. She doesn’t want to color or play play-dough. She’ll say she’s too old to play tag and too mature to splash in puddles. She doesn’t want to be completely immersed in another person. She doesn’t want to talk. She doesn’t want to answer the same question over and over, or give the same answer over and over. She just wants to do nothing.

Mostly, she just won’t need me to do these things like she does now. So I won’t.

That’s what I remember when I have to play house, or school, or doctor, or any of the games that are on constant repeat in our playroom. I try to smile, push through, and ask her “okay, what do you want to play now?”

Image result for mother and daughter playingImage result for mother and daughter playing

 

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Posted in Education, Family, parenting, summer, teaching, teen, toddlers, Uncategorized

Outdoor Education and Camping!

Tablets, smartphones, laptops, eReaders, television, game systems: There are so many reasons for your kids to stay inside and stare blankly ahead not absorbing the world around them (note: I put eReaders on the list because a lot of times I see kids using them they’re playing games, books are okay 🙂

I’ve posted a few articles about being outdoors with children and how it’s educational for them, but this weekend is our first attempt at taking our three year old camping. I am nervous and excited but it also prompted me to look up educational reasons to take your kids camping that I wanted to share. (Update: we didn’t make it through the night. We did get to do some of these things though it was fun for awhile just playing in the woods so…still worth a shot!)

1) Outdoor Education- this is an educational initiative all its own now. Many countries (Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Norway come to mind) have outdoor education as part of their normal school curriculum. It consists of everything from hiking trips to playing more outside, to having several recess breaks throughout the day, to fishing trips. In the New Zealand Curriculum Framework, they state that providing outdoor education gives students “opportunities to develop personal and social skills, to become active, safe, and skilled in the outdoors, and to protect and care for the environment.”

2) Problem solving- many spur of the moment issues can arise while camping. Is that poison ivy? Is there rain coming? Taking children camping can help them better their problem solving skills and quick thinking techniques. To prep for the trip have your children be involved with packing their own supplies. Obviously, guide them to pack essentials but let them really decide what they want and what they do not.

3) Imaginative play- camping provides ample opportunities for imaginative play. Being out in nature surrounded by trees (or the ocean if you choose to camp on the beach) gives them a backdrop they aren’t used to at home. The campfire is also a great place for imaginations to take off. Take turn telling stories. If you are having trouble starting, try making up new endings to stories you already know. Like what if Little Red Riding Hood didn’t realize that the wolf was pretending to be her grandmother? What if they lived together for a while, how would the wolf act?

4) Unplug! Along the same lines as imaginative play, being outdoors and camping really gives you and your family a chance to unplug together. It may be tempting to break out the phones or bring the iPads but don’t. Spend your time together, together. You are not home so you shouldn’t be worrying about work and things that can be dealt with once camping is over.

5) Cooking in a new atmosphere- cooking is a great learning experience. Measuring, mixing, and playing with different textures and ingredients. Camping provides a completely new way to experience the learning process of cooking. Bring some pre-made items like pancake mix and let your child help with pouring it on the pan over the fire. In addition, being outside instead of in the kitchen might help you not worry so much about the mess.

Here are some activities to do with your children while camping to make the experience fun and educational!
Scavenger hunt- there are many available online if you don’t want to create one yourself
Frisbee or catch
Fishing or crabbing
Bubbles
Crafts- a lot of ideas out there on Pinterest. Here are some I really like.
Sand toys

Posted in Family, health, parenting, toddlers, Uncategorized

Toys Do Not Equal Happiness

I am a reformed hoarder. As a librarian I work in an industry of hoarders. My whole system of work is about recruiting items and storing history and information for the general public. But over the years, and many many many weedings later, I have really understood the power of quality over quantity.

So I applied this to my home life and have read a lot of great resources on the topic of minimalist living. More importantly, being a minimalist with children.

Part of being a minimalist is helping your children realize the importance of living without material items making you happy. This is easier said than done. Luckily we don’t have cable so my children do not see many commercials but when we go other places, advertisements are all over the television. And they look so cool! And fun! And every new toy I see I want to get for them because that will make them happy…and then I snap back into the real world and remember we have small house, a small budget, and no need for it.

 

The thing about it is you want to inspire your children to play more. That may sound a little counterproductive if you take their toys away but it really isn’t. You want to keep things that inspire them, make them use their imaginations, and for God sake go outside once in awhile. Me personally, when I weeded through my daughter’s room I kept her puzzles, books, play ponies, two baby dolls and clothes, and dress up items. Most of the other toys were donated. That is not to say she doesn’t have plenty of things to play with, even if they aren’t toys.

It can get tempting and I have read blogs where parents NEVER let their kids get toys or items. I think that is a wee bit extreme I am just very selective now of what comes into the house. So, here are some ideas for gifts and items for toddlers and kids that aren’t just toys.

 

Blankets and Sleeping Bags- My daughter could play with blankets for hours, and some days when we’re stuck inside she does. She plays camping, makes sheet forts, makes dresses, has play picnics, etc etc. Great thing about blankets is I have one space for them, so when she gets too many, I ask her which one she wants to get rid of.

Kitchen Tools- Whenever I update something in the kitchen I ask my daughter if she wants the old one for her play kitchen. So she has real measuring cups, mixing spoons, and a spatula to play with. This eliminates the need for so many toy items that are smaller and usually end up all over the living room.

Memberships- The intangible gifts probably won’t be appreciated right away by the little ones. However, when summer hits and they want to go to the pool at your YMCA or to your local Zoo (if they have a fee) then remind them about their gift they got from you (or grandparent or aunt Millie, whoever).

Gift Cards- another intangible. I think adding pictures of what the gift card is for will help them get excited. Make a handmade card with ice creams on it and a gift card for an ice cream date, or a movie date.

Lessons- Maybe a toddler won’t appreciate piano lessons, but an older child might. Maybe there’s a unique instrument that you have seen out or at the library or in a movie. Maybe your child likes to draw and wants to get better. Maybe they want to be a better swimmer.

Dress Up Clothes- Yes, these can start to get out of hand just like regular clothes or toys if you’re not careful. But the whole point of limiting toys and clutter is to promote your child’s imagination and creativity. I think that is exactly what dress up clothes can do! Just keep it to a few items. If they get something new, they have to get rid of something old.

Art Supplies- these go fast at my house, I don’t know about anywhere else. Markers run out, crayons get snapped in two, paper gets used, coloring books fill up within a few days. So art supplies are always a great way to go.

Bubbles- same as art supplies.

 

Some other articles I found helpful: 

 

Great article about living as a minimalist with kids and why to start it in the first place.

 

This mother has two posts about taking her children’s toys away and I love both of them.

 

Posted in Christmas, DIY, parenting

Make Believe Toys

I had a play kitchen growing up. It wasn’t much of a kitchen but it had an oven, a microwave, some stickers that represented burners and knobs and gadgets. I also had a Sesame Street table right next to it. Whenever family or friends came over I would make them a nice meal, sometimes play dough spaghetti to help the effect, sometimes an empty plate.

What got me thinking about it is the fact that Christmas is coming (yeah I know I JUST did a fall post but I’m one of those people…) and I want to get/make something for Riley to enhance her imagination at play time. Her father and I decided due to money (and to the fact we think it would be cool for her have something we made) we are going to create a cafe/tea table.

It made me think to do a post because it is a challenge finding DIY Make Believe toys other than a kitchen for girls or a workbench for boys! But there’s so much out there that could be turned into some sort of stand up toy for your child to really get into their playing. Here is a list of ideas we had before settling on the cafe which I hope will turn out like this (Scroll down to the cafe).

 

 

Is is similar to a kitchen? Yeah kind of but at least it’s a little bit different. I understand that toddlers like to do things that they see their parents doing (ie the kitchens, play vacuums, play cars, ect) but there are other examples of this other than cooking. I only cook three hours a week tops so if Riley is trying to imitate me a kitchen is not where she should be!

Some ideas:

 

Vanity: there are a lot of cheap vanities at WalMart and on Amazon but a homemade one would be great for a little girl. I like the idea of having a vanity/dress up closet combo. These people did a great job and it’s a very simple design.

(If this is yours please let me know I will link your page)

Garden: I was torn between the cafe and a play garden to be honest. The play garden has so many learning possibilities to go with it! A Beautiful Mess has a tutorial on making a felt garden like pictured. But you can definitely add to make the garden a play area. We were going to make a play potting station with an area to hang her tools, different flower and plant toys, a little window box to “plant” flowers, and the list goes on rDIY Felt Garden Boxeally. diy little girls room | DIY Indoor Window Boxes for little girl's room | Oh BABY!

Campground: I’m pretty sure everyone has seen the play canvas tents all over etsy and Pinterest. Well why not create a little play campground. You could have an area for the fire, have play logs to collect, a blanket on the ground next to it for a picnic, and have a great place to read and tell stories.

Play store: one of the coolest I saw by far was this play farmer’s market stand.

Home made kids store.  My kids would love this & not hard to make, but great for the imagination!

It was really tempting to try this but I just don’t think we are talented enough to pull this off correctly.

There are also tons of cool ideas for play kitchens to build/make if you go through Google or Pinterest so if you want your kid cooking then let them cook! I will say, some of the outside mud kitchens that I saw were amazing. Might have to wait until spring for that now.