Posted in Family, Mental Health, Opinion, parenting, Uncategorized

Why so serious (mom and dads)?

It’s amazing how loud pots are when they are being beaten together by little hands. It’s amazing how mud seems that much more impossible to clean when your toddler comes inside caked in it. Craft supplies can seem daunting to get out because every craft requires a mess. Every water play activity requires mopping after. Every play bath requires at least one outfit change on your part.

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Having fun and playing with your kids can sometimes lose it’s spark. You can get more concerned with the aftermath than the actual play time. My daughter asked me the other day if we could make a craft, which she loves to do, and I said “no honey I just wiped off the kitchen table”.

Wait what? We can’t craft because I wiped off a table? What kind of logic is that?

Sometimes it’s hard to drop what you’re doing and say yes! Yes we can. Screw the laundry, who needs clean plates, my pants will wear another day…probably. For me it’s even harder to not dread the aftermath, as mentioned above. But kids don’t grow up and remember having a spotless home, they grow up remembering when you played super heroes together in the backyard. They remember trips to the ice cream shop and visits to the zoo. But you can’t live in a pig sty either. Cleaning and chores kind of have to happen. Sometimes you have to be the grown up and be serious. So how do you balance it all? I honestly don’t know.

I got called a Pinterest mom the other day and at first I was insulted just because I didn’t really know what the hell that meant. But then it was explained that I do things you see on Pinterest but never actually do with your kids. Then I was flattered but I felt a little like a cheat because there is plenty I don’t do, that I should. So, how do you become a not so serious, Pinterest, fun mom? Again, I don’t really know, but here’s the best advice I can gather for that question.

Step one: stop being so serious

My daughter is that special stage of life when she knows exactly what not to say, and that she has the ability to say it whenever she wants. That age when I feel like a 13 year old is trapped in my 4 year old’s body. That oh-so-magical age where I hear “we aren’t friends anymore, you’re mean” at least four or five times a week. We just had a long discussion about what a mortgage was the other day when she decided she was going to run away. More on that later.

I find, the best way to handle a little bit of sass, is to make fun of it. I make fun of how silly she sounds when she’s having an attitude. I put my hands on my hips and shake my head and say “does this look nice to you? or does this look like someone who is not going to get what they are asking for?” I exaggerate her movements and voice enough that usually, it causes laughter. Laughter leads to happiness and happiness leads to no more attitude. At least for the time being. This is not to say that I do that or think it you should look over blatantly bad or disrespectful behaviors. Just pick and choose your battles.

It’s the picture frame argument my husband and I have. When a kid draws on the wall you can a) freak out, b) quietly find a magic eraser and start erasing, or c) frame it. I choose to frame it.

Step two: have family time

This is the step I struggle with because this is the step I want more than anything else. As a working mom I really feel like I miss out on quality time with my kids, and even my husband. We all know that complaint, but it is a valid one. Sometimes family time is also errand time. Like grocery shopping or running into town for a certain bill that needs to be paid. I try to turn these moments into family time. My daughter and I go to the farmer’s market at least twice a month together to get our produce in the spring and summer. It’s always fun to walk around and see the flowers and pick out a special treat for later.

Image result for kids at the farmers market

It’s important to make the distinction between quality time and quantity of time. Just because you might be with your kids all week if you stay home, doesn’t mean you were actually with your kids all week. You probably plopped in a movie or two or maybe three. You probably found some coloring books or crayons and pushed them into a corner somewhere. You did chores, you worked, you prepped dinner, you did things you have to do on a daily basis, which means it probably wasn’t quality time. Not saying there’s anyway around that, just make the mental note that ‘yes, I with baby girl today but we only played together for twenty minutes after lunch’. Then you can try to fit in my quality time at the end of the day or the next day.

Step three: Us Toys

Not Toys-R-Us, Us Toys have saved my relationship with my daughter in a lot of ways. Without going into her anxiety and other issues, the book Growing Up Brave is a great read for any parent that is struggling with a child with emotional problems. It is geared for anxiety but I think a lot of the tips and ideas mentioned would work for a variety of disorders.

Anyhoo, one of the things I took away from that book is “Child Led Play”. For ten minutes, everyday, you play with your child but you let them lead the playtime. Now this may sound easy and like something you already do, but I assure you if you really start listening to yourself while you’re playing, you will hear a person you didn’t know was there. During your child led play it’s good to have a box or bag filled with stuff just you two play with. Ours was a mermaid dress up game, two Barbies, a sticker book craft, and some art supplies to start. Now we usually just do a craft together because her father isn’t very “artsy” and that’s our special thing to do. They do puzzles or blocks. So you get it, you have something that’s just for you two, you pick a place where you won’t be bothered by the other parent, siblings, phone calls, anything.

Completely uninterrupted playtime that they lead. Don’t interrupt them, don’t correct them, don’t even give them ideas to a certain extent. It’s their party for ten to fifteen minutes. Try it for a month and I’d be surprised to find someone it doesn’t help your bond with your kid.

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Posted in DIY, Family, health, Mental Health, Opinion, parenting, teen, toddlers, Uncategorized

Safety zone: Child’s bedroom

There’s a lot out there on moms and dads having “me time”. It’s super important, I’m not denying that. I am however advocating the kids need “me time” too. Time to reconnect, time to calm, time to be bored. The best place for that is outside, and if you’re lucky enough to have a space outside for your kid to play alone than use it! However, second best is their bedroom.

Their bedroom should be their safe zone. They should want to be in there. Don’t force your decorating aesthetic on them. I want my whole house in Harry Potter decor but it’s just not going to happen because my kids haven’t even seen a whole movie yet (I know, it’s on my list).

My daughter decided she wanted a flamingo bedroom when I told her she couldn’t share a room with her brother anymore. It was kind of a sad day but after she started picking out some things for us to use she pepped up pretty fast.

Perks:

  1. More likely to stay in there during the night and during bedtime: if you have had issues with this you know how big of a deal that is.
  2. Has a place to go when needs to cool off: again if you have had issues with this you know how important this is too. We have a small house so it’s crucial my kids feel comfortable in their bedrooms to diffuse.
  3. Gives them a place to play quietly when quiet time is needed: if you have more than one child, or one but you do work from home or something else that requires quiet, having a safe zone room is crucial. Before we made over my daughter’s room getting her brother to nap was super hard. She would want to be out in the living room with us or playing in his room. Now, she has a craft/reading area in her bedroom that she will play with until he’s asleep and we can play together.
  4. Gives them a safe place: kind of goes with the cool off one, but also for other intense feelings. Sometimes kids just need to cry or scream or vent. Sometimes they need to do that alone before you try to intervene and make them talk through it.

But how?

Well for one, ask them what they want. There’s almost no theme or idea that you can’t tweak to make you both happy. Unless, of course, it’s Dora (again yes). Also, we did not have a “moving to a new bedroom and need decor” budget in our savings. So, we took things we already had and made it work for the room. I think total I spent about $45 bucks on paint, new sheets, and one stuffed flamingo (optional).

We painted the hutch that a friend was getting rid of, the mirror from Walmart, and the green shelves that were currently in her brother’s room but had nothing on them. I put the dresser in her brother’s room that now had more space with her bed gone and moved the bookcase into her room since she is the one who is using the books more.

The princess netting was over her bed in her brother’s room but we decided to use it over her reading area to give it more of a separation. Additions have been a lava lamp for calming down at night and an oil diffuser.

 

Posted in Family, Opinion, parenting, toddlers, Uncategorized

15 weird things I enjoy as a parent

There’s so many blog posts and vlogs about exhausted parents hiding from their children and moms pulling their hair out because they’ve heard “mom, mom, mommy, mama, mama, hey mom” about 296 times that day. But what about the good stuff? Not the precious moments “my child is a joy to the world and a gift,” yeah that’s all good and well but what about the perks? The weird things you enjoy about being a parent that maybe you didn’t think of before?

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  1. I never have to set my alarm: okay probably a lame one to start with but it’s more true than anything else I will ever write most likely. I still do set it but I don’t know why since I hear my youngest twenty minutes before it goes off. He can smell the noise coming.
  2. Viable excuse for lazy dinners: yeah we just had pancakes again, or nachos, or sandwiches. And not because we’re a lazy young couple who would rather go out than actually put effort into a meal, it’s because we have kids so…there’s that. Image result for hide and seek gif
  3. Hide and seek: I didn’t realize that not all parents play hide and seek in public until I was stopped by a security officer at the mall while playing on the indoor play set with my son. I do, and he laughs, and it’s amazing.
  4. Hearing your child use sarcasm or tell a joke: whether they use it correctly or not hearing your child try to make a joke is one of the funniest things you will ever hear. Image result for kid telling jokes
  5. Being the one that soothes them: probably a little sappy for this list but when your kid is just off the chain and yelling/screaming/crying/parkouring/whatever and you’re the one who can get them to settle and snuggle up; that feeling can’t be topped, like ever.
  6. Talking to yourself in public: I’m not talking to myself I’m talking to my baby, yes I know he can’t talk back but he’s a great listener, don’t judge me old lady at the grocery store.
  7. Toy shopping: is much more fun than it should be. I miss the giant Sear’s catalogs though…
  8. Teaching your child things you liked as a child: my daughter has started to become really interested in gardening, which I love, and it’s led to some talks about ditches, and fort making, and mud pies. Then I think about the laundry after and I’m like ehhh…still worth it.
  9. You can bail and not feel guilty: I know that one is on other lists as well but it’s a good one.
  10. Being complimented: Okay now I’m feeling super selfish but for real when you go out somewhere and you have your kids with you and hear the “aww he’s/she’s so cute” you smile. Don’t lie, you totally do.
  11. You become more lax: and that is a fact. It took two for me to get to this point but I have definitely become much more open to whatever is going to come. Image result for same movie again
  12. Disney and other movies: I am actually one of those weird people who will still watch the same 20 movies over and over and over. So while most parents cringe when they’re kids pull out the movie you watched yesterday I’m like “alright, but I’m singing this time”. Unless it’s Dora…
  13. You can get an honest opinion about your outfit: if your children are in that ripe age of having no filter and not understanding the importance of white lies, you always have honesty. “Mommy why does your legs look funny in that?” “Because these are leggings for skinny people honey and now mommy must go throw them away.”
  14. On the same note, you get complimented on things you didn’t know you were good at: same age range. “This macaroni and cheese is yummy!” “Yes sweetie, all homemade” (it’s not homemade).
  15. You’re good at something: I never really had self-esteem growing up, and there are still times I struggle with it greatly. But when I see my kids succeed at something I’m like “yeah, I kind of did that. At least helped.” It’s a great feeling.

What did I miss?

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

When I just don’t want to play

 

 

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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

 

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

Playing in the Woods

I’ve had several posts about getting outdoors, and playing, and how they positively affect intellectual growth (and bonding!) of a child. I was reading up and found some great play ideas for being out in the woods and with the cold season approaching (still hasn’t hit us quite yet) I thought this would be a great time to get some ideas out there.

1) Journey Sticks

Journey sticks have a rich history, most popularly attributed to Native Americans. Journey sticks are to represent someone’s individual experience. Along the way of a long expedition or important travel, the person creating the stick would gather pieces of nature to attach to their stick. Then they would return and tell of tales of their journey.

To create a journey stick find a good sturdy stick during the beginning of your hike through the woods (you can also choose to just accumulate items to take home and make the stick once there). As you go through the woods look for special items- a brightly color leaf, a feather, a special flower. Bring along some tape, string, and straight pins to attach them to your child’s stick.

 

 

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(Click on photo for link)

2) Nature Photography

Being out in the woods is a great place to get your children to appreciate photography and beauty of nature in general. You can do this in a few different ways. If your child is older, you can let them use your digital camera or phone if you feel they are responsible enough. Give them a list of things to try to get on photo: a bird, two different colored leaves together, a tree that looks like it has a face. If you have a younger child, you might not want to trust with anything expensive, so get them a disposable camera. Make sure before heading out into the woods that you explain there are only a certain amount of photos on the camera. Teach them to take one photo at a time and learn to use their eyes and ears to find new and exciting pictures to take.

 

3) Story Telling

The woods are the perfect backdrop for so many stories. Fairy tales, ghost stories, adventure tales, and legends seem to be more believable when told surrounded by nature. If you live somewhere with a state park that allows fires try going on an afternoon hike and end the day with a story and some snacks by the fire. You don’t have to camp overnight to enjoy tales and s’mores. If you can’t have a fire just find a spot to sit under a large tree or a place to spread out a blanket and relax for awhile. Some great stories to tell are:

Little Red Riding Hood

Robin Hood

Hansel and Gretel

Rumpelstiltskin

Local tales- look online or at your local library to find myths and legends that relate to your area.

Just like wanting to read at the beach, this is also a great time to bring along a few books from home and just sit outside and read together.

 

4) Scavenger Hunt

If your child is old enough to read then make up a list of items to find while out in the woods. If they are not then just tell them one thing at a time as you go along your hike.

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(Click on photo for link)

5) Coloring and Art

Sometimes you can do the same thing you would be doing at home just while outside! Find a nice spot to set up; if there is a picnic area use that, if not find an area to lay out a blanket to play on. Don’t forget something hard to lean on if coloring on the ground (clip boards are great for this). You can color things you see, trace leaves off of the ground, or put leaves under your paper and color so you reveal the leaves’ stems.

 

6) Bubbles

I can find a reason to put bubbles on any list I make honestly. Bubbles in the woods are just pure magic. If you are creative try combining bubbles with another activity, like story telling. Make up a story about how fairies are attracted to bubbles or that in the woods you are currently in bubbles are supposed to reveal treasure. If you can, sneak a quarter or something they consider treasure, and hide it in the direction the wind seems to be going.

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This website (click on photo for link) has some great ideas for if you are camping and need activities for overnight.

Playing outside is a dying art form so any chance you get to get out there with your child do it. Here are some tips for starting a garden at home and getting your child involved. Rain isn’t always an excuse to stay in either.

Posted in Family, Gardening, parenting

Garden Fun!

Okay so we know why to start a garden and how but I wanted to post some fun things to do now that you have one!

Again, if you have the space make sure you take the time to plan out seating for your garden. Just having a place outside to sit to do activities and admire your hard work will do wonders.

Also remember that not all kids are the same, some of them will not like getting all dirty and enjoy these activities while some might wish they were getting dirtier.

A good activity to do with kids who are less prone to make mud pies is to do garden planning. Spend the day going around to different gardens, farmer’s markets, and even stores like Home Depot to get some ideas of what you will want in your garden. They can make a list or take photos (disposable cameras probably the best idea). Once you have items listed that your child wants start planning.

Making decorations for in the garden is another activity that doesn’t actually require getting dirty. You can make everything from painted rocks, to labels, to fairy houses. Here are some really ideas for fairy homes that your child can make:

Real Life, One Day at a Time: a fairy gardengarden fairy sign post with 3 signs rustic by NatureScavenger, $12.50This is a good way to help out  birds keep a durable home since the nests are always falling and they end up loosing their eggs. For bird family you can also use  a gallon of milk. Add some straws or a Piece of old clothing to help them stay warm!!!

Also some ideas for the boys:

I love this idea for making mini truck tunnels to create a little construction site in your backyard. My three-year-old (Noah) would love this!IMG_0914_2

I actually think my little girl would love that dino garden…

Anyhoo let’s get dirty-

Obviously letting your kids plant their own seeds and plants is the best way to get them involved. There are some really cute tools out there designed just for kids or just let them bare hand it.

Getting outside in the garden when it’s raining is always fun for kids (obviously not when there’s a tsunami but you know…). Here you can see some ideas I compiled for outdoor rain activities.

If it’s not raining go out into the garden and find a spot that the kids can play in the dirt without disturbing any plants. Bury a few items in there. You can make this game a lot of ways- who left it there? Is that a list left of the items? Is it treasure? Does it have markings of some kind? I couldn’t find any links with some more ideas that go with this but I think you can come up with some cool ones (post below if you do). How to Make a Terrarium

Speaking of digging there’s always the ever fun and ever popular digging for worms! Yeah I know but they are really cool animals if you think about it. They breathe through their skin and some species of earthworms can grow up to ten feet!

How about (for a little older kids) letting them pick out things from the garden to build their own terrarium for their room or to display in the living room. Here’s a great post about doing this with kids:

10 Off-Grid Backyard Games for Your Family ~ Mom with a Prep {blog}There are always backyard games that can enjoyed along side your beautiful garden. This site has quite a few ideas, some I hadn’t seen until stumbling across it.

For little ones consider adding a sandbox or a rock box to your backyard garden. There are pluses to both so do a little research to see which you would prefer having.

For teens getting them involved in all the nitty gritty parts of gardening is a plus. Also I think showing them the payoff of the hard work is even better. If you’re growing anything edible let your teen come up with new dinners to try with the ingredients. If you’re growing flowers let your teen make something that they can give to their grandparents or to the local nursing homes. I know charity isn’t everyone’s thing but most middle school and teenagers react well to making others happy.

 

 

Posted in Education, parenting

Rain, rain

Well it’s pouring buckets right now outside my window and it made me want to do a post about using rain as a learning experience. As you all know by now I have a young daughter, 16 months, and she has developed a love for mud and puddle jumping. Naturally the first time I took her walking and she decided to plop down in the middle of a puddle with one of her cuter outfits on I was a little hesitant. But the next time I was more prepared. I put her in some sweat pants and a t-shirt and let her run wild. She loves watching the ripples form as she runs and seeing how far the water will splash.

For kids grades Pre K-1st you can actually bring the rain inside. There’s an activity where you basically make your own mock rain cloud. You take a glass, or jar, and fill most of the way up (about ¾) with shaving cream. Let it sit for a minute. Then give your child a dropper and small bowl of blue food coloring. Let them drop the food coloring on top of the shaving and watch as the “rain” comes down into the glass. One site with directions on this activity can be found here.

Rain painting is a fun activity to do outside. You can use a lot of different materials for this. You can break up pieces of dry water color paints, you can use food coloring, or just plain old magic markers! Have your child color a pattern on a thick piece of paper. Then set it out in the light rain, you can go out there with it, and watch the rain start to transform the image. If it’s a tsunami outside this won’t work, just a heads up. Also, coloring a wet sidewalk with sidewalk chalk is better than a dry one. After the rain has stopped go outside and see how much brighter the colors are.

On this blog she wrote about taking her boys outside with some kitchen supplies (pots, pans, large spoons) and letting them use the rain water for pretend cooking. It is so easy but kind of genius.

play in the rain, how we learn

Puddles alone offer a plethora of fun activities. Make little paper boats and float them around the puddles. The book “The Tin Soldier” has a scene where the soldier is stuck on a paper boat and sent out to sea. Might be a good book to incorporate once you go back in and get dry. You can race things across puddles like ice cubes or curved leaves.

If you want to get your older kids and teens excited about the rain and away from the tv have them create vinyl designs for their rain boots. You can buy adhesive vinyl for your printers at office supply stores. Let them design words or pictures that they want to put on their boots. Then print and apply. Full details on how this one family did it can be found here. http://diyshowoff.com/2014/04/29/decorate-rain-boots/

It’s a fun creative way to get them doing something during the rainy weather. Bring outside activities in. Have an indoor picnic, make sheet tents. Use the weather to your advantage for ambiance and have a scary movie night. And there’s always water balloon fights. You’re going to be wet anyways.