Category Archives: Parenting Ideas

Parenting Ideas and tips

Making Mistakes is for April Fools

Making Mistakes is for April Fools

April Fool’s Day Plans: Making Brown E’s

My kids and I were all set with our April Fool’s Day plans – that’s right, just the night before we came up with an idea and dashed around madly to get everything done in time. We cut out letter E’s out of brown construction paper so that they could tell their fellow students that they will be handing out brownies to every person in class. In fact, they mean a ‘brown E’ to each person. Get it? Feeling a Martha Stewart moment coming on, I decided I was going to cook real brownies for my kids to surprise their classes with later. And by real, I mean using a box mix versus buying them already made in the store.

Over-Multitasking Leads to Burning Brownies

I made brownies for my kids, while doing laundry, cleaning the living room, getting them to finish their homework, etc. I was so busy doing other things….I forgot about the brownies cooking in the oven. I turned two mini-cupcake trays of perfectly poured brownie batter into chocolate pucks. I’d let them cool in the pan, only to find they could only be removed with a chisel and a hammer. (Yes, I had greased the pans.)

Scraping Rock Hard Brownies out of Cupcake Pans

I tried to remove the cooked-to-a-crisp-and-mostly-not-burnt brownies and was making a colossal mess. There were chunks of brownie all over the counter and a fine dusting of chocolate brownie floating all around me. My son came to eat some of the beat up brownie bits and he mentioned it looked like dirt was everywhere.

And I had a magical mistake changing moment.

Packing Dirt In Kids’ Lunch for April First

“Great idea!” I said. We can collect up the brownie dirt and pack it with you to school. You can pretend your mom gave you dirt in your lunch for April Fool’s Day. I hate to waste things, so I was so happy that the brownie bits were going to be consumed. It would also be one less snack I would have to put in his lunch. My son said he was able to fool some kids at school that it was dirt and then later had fun daring his friends to eat dirt with him.

Improv Fixing Problems Makes You Creative

Improv life skills are so important – I want to be able to think on my feet and find ways to be adaptable when needed. So when a plan doesn’t come together as I wanted; I love it when I can find a way to make what seems like a disaster turn into something positive. It forces me to be creative and think outside the brownie box. Not only did I feel better after angrily saying such naughty words as “Fudge!” under my breath as I tried to mine the brownie out of the cupcake pans, I feel it’s a great way for kids to learn to deal with mistakes too.

When Life Gives You Brownie Pucks…

I did still bake another batch of brownies, this time checking in on them much more frequently. They turned out just right. Moral of the story: when life gives you overcooked and sort of burnt brownies – salvage what you can and eat it like dirt. We were happy April Fools.

Hope you had a good April Fool’s Day.  🙂

Valentine’s Day: Printing and Alphabet Practice

Valentine's Day cards, letter stamps and tracerValentine’s Day: Printing and Alphabet Practice

Writing Up Valentine’s Day Cards with Young Children The idea of writing up and handing out Valentine’s cards is very exciting for children, but printing skills at the preschool to grade one age can vary widely. Some kids can write not only their own name, but print out “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” if you spell it out for them. Others may have difficulty printing their name legibly and some may not know how to do so at all. No matter where your child is at, the following ideas offer fun ways for children to work on their alphabet skills and love their letters for Valentine’s Day.

Leave Lots of Time to Do Valentine’s Cards

First, it’s good to give your child a lot of time to work on their cards. You want printing to be fun, not an arduous chore to get all 20 cards done the night before Valentine’s Day. Ask your child’s teacher for a list of all the students’ names about two weeks before Valentine’s Day, so your child can work on a few cards a day until the big day arrives.

Practice Alphabet Skills with Stamps, Cutout Magazine Letters and Fancy Fonts    

You can get individual letter stamps for the whole alphabet and an ink pad (try a red or pink pad to go with the Valentine’s Day theme) to address the valentine cards. Work with your child to sound out the names of their friends and help your child pick out the right letters to stamp out the names on to cards. Another fun thing to do, is get some old magazines and cut out the letters needed for the names. Together you can pick out and cut out the letters. Then make a game of pasting the letters in as straight a line as possible or try out interesting patterns. You can also use the computer together and pick out fancy fonts and different colors for the names. Then print, cut and paste them to the cards.

Tracing Letters and Plastic Letter Tracers

You can lightly make the words or make dotted lines out in pencil and have your child trace over it. For children who want to print, but aren’t quite there yet, you might invest in a plastic letter tracer. You can make a game of it by telling your child what letter to do next and see if they can find it on the tracer. Then they just put their pencil in the open slots and follow the paths to complete their letter(s). Another idea is for you to print the names in a thick felt and have your child trace over them. Or you could do it vice-versa, where you write the words out in pen and the child traces over in a felt. There are all sorts of great coloring tools out there to make it look artistic, such as glitter felt pens or a rainbow-colored pencil crayon.

Printing Practice on Paper – Then Put it on the Valentine’s Day Card

If your child can print a little, but printing on the small Valentine card itself is challenging, get them to practice on a separate sheet of paper. Draw boxes about the size of the space they will have on the card and have your child practice printing names in the boxes. If they are up to it, they can try printing on the card. Otherwise, pick out the best ones from the sheet of paper and cut and glue them to the cards. You can use plain white paper or get some colorful construction paper.

Mix These Printing Ideas Up

Mix and match these ideas as you like. If your child is losing interest, sometimes switching colors or mediums can do the trick to keep them on track. Children love Valentine’s Day, so it’s a great way to get them excited about printing and learning their letters. Above all, it’s hoped these ideas spell out a lot of Valentine’s Day fun for you and your children.

Momversation

Momversation
Momversation

As a mom, I found I have to deal with situations that I never had to deal with before I had kids. Here is a word I came up with for describing what my phone conversations are now often like.

The Momversation

What is a momversation you ask? It’s when I call someone on the phone and I have to stop talking to her/him in the middle of the conversation to talk to my kids. It is basically talking on the phone and talking to your kids at the same time. I usually only have a momversation with good friends along for the ride.

The Cause of Momversating

  1. My child(ren) interrupt me while I am talking on the phone. For some reason, picking up the phone and talking has the magical ability to cause my children to urgently need my attention. And the more interesting or important the conversation, it often seems their need to speak to me proportionately grows higher too.

Ex.) Child is pulling on my shirt. Child is tapping me on the shoulder. Child is sniffling. Child is whining. Child is crying. Child is screaming. Child is going to step two for attention-getting.

2. My child(ren) is/are doing something that I have tell them to stop doing/start doing

Ex.) Stop jumping up and down on the couch. Stop hitting each other. Stop making toilet paper mountains in the toilet. Start doing your homework. Start enjoying private time in your own rooms…separately. Start cleaning up that mess. What? You are only two and I can’t realistically expect you to clean up such a horrendous toilet-plugging disaster? Sigh.

Momversations Happen

Then mid-conversation I have to stop, due to any of the above circumstances. I quickly talk to my kids while my friend is waiting on the phone and listening along as I speak with my kids. When I return back to the adult conversation, I say thank you for waiting and hope you’ve enjoyed this momversation. Sometimes the situation is so bad that I have to hang up and call back later – when the kids are asleep. Also, sometimes I call my friends out when they are momversating me too much. If they keep having to talk to their kids – I kindly say, “Hey, you are momversating me a lot. Do you need to go?”

The silver-lining to momversating is that if I really need to get my kid’s attention for something important – I just need to pick up the phone and start talking. 🙂

The Best Parenting Tool Ever – The Magic Wand

The Best Parenting Tool Ever – The Magic Wand

magic wandYou have found it! The best parenting tool ever! The magic wand. Tell folks you found it right here for free. It slices. It dices. It helps your kids deal with problems without even existing. What? Tell me more!

Helping Kids with their Problems

So how does it work? When your child comes to you with a problem, first off you have to listen to their story. Nod your understanding. Paraphrase their words back. Get down on their level so they can see the concern in your face. Pat them on the back and give them a hug if they need it. Sometimes that’s enough.

But sometimes they still have long faces and tears still dripping. Perhaps their favorite teddy bear has been lost forever, you can’t afford to buy them that $700 toy or their life’s masterpiece à la crayon has been accidentally shredded and they found the evidence in the recycling bag. These things happen.

Bring out the Magic Wand

This is when you can bring out the magic wand. You say, “Oh dear. If only I had a magic wand. Why, if I had a magic wand, I would make those tears disappear instantly. I would have your teddy bear here in a shake of the wand. And Teddy would be at his grandest. A flick of the wand and his matted grungy fur would be magically shampooed to perfection. He would get a black top hat and a fancy purple-and-green suit for his return. And little black shoes with gold buckles. Why he would even be swinging a cane. He would come home singing and dancing. In fact, he would bring a troupe of dancing bear friends with him and they would perform an acrobatic musical number right here in the kitchen. Could you imagine that?”

The Trick to the Magic Wand

fairyThe trick to the magic wand is to build a grandiose story that your child can image and in fact want to build on. You want to capture their attention and their imagination. You want to show them that if you had magical powers, these are the things you would do for them. Go all out; let your imagination take you away. It will take your child away too. Visiting the land of Make Believe can be a great distraction from what ails you in the real world.

General Wish Making

There are many things my kids want, but we won’t be getting for a variety of reasons. Sometimes when then whine and whinge about something, I break out my magical wand for wishing. Instead of saying they will never get that $700 toy (they can eventually get it, when they are adults with jobs), I say I can see how much they really want it. I then invoke the power of the wand and talk about how we could magically have everything we want. I like to talk about what I would wish for too. My wish is for a black unicorn with wings and a purple horn. Instead of driving to work, I would get to ride a unicorn to work. This is my favorite go-to wish. Then the kids get in on it, wishing for all sorts of magical wonders or telling me that unicorns don’t really exist so I better be prepared for that reality. I get so into my description of the flying unicorn that I think they worry I’ll be disappointed with the car that will be taking us to work and school.

Keep Your Magic Wand Handy

Magic wands are irreplaceable, but the terrific thing is you need only mention them to draw on their magical powers. Remember to always keep one handy for situations where your child is having a difficult time. Make sure to truly listen to your child’s problem first and show empathy. They need to know you understand how they are feeling before you bring out something as powerful as a magic wand. May you have a sparkling day now.

How to Get Toddlers to Clean Up

child in a garbage canTips to Help Kids Tidy Their Toys

Tired of picking up toys scattered around the house by little ones? Toddlers can learn to clean up after themselves. The key is to make them feel “all grown up” and have fun with helping around the house.

It’s never too early to help kids learn about cleaning up. Here are some ideas to help teach kids how to put away their toys and get involved in other simple chores.

Start Kids Early With Cleaning Up

You often hear parents complain about how their kids never pick up after themselves. The trick? Train them early, so they don’t know any different. As soon as they can toddle they can be introduced to cleaning up. Now, I’m not saying they will be vacuuming the floors and doing the dishes (that would be some YouTube video), but they can do their small share towards the never-ending goal of household cleanliness.

Toddlers Like to Do What Adults Do

child on cell phoneThey are watching you.

Children watch their parents and want to do what you are doing. Mom and dad are holding the new baby, why you will see a toddler holding a baby doll in the same fashion. Kids clomp around in their parents’ shoes, love to talk on cellphones, lipstick their faces (and the walls) and fill the toilet with a mountain of toilet paper – all in an attempt to do what they see their parents doing, but in their own creative fashion. We want to channel this enthusiasm.

Start Small

Toddlerhood is a wonderful time to encourage kids to help with cleaning. Whenever a parent is cleaning up or doing household chores, see if there is a way to include the toddler. For example, when you are putting groceries away, let the child put away light boxes and small cans. Show them how to stack them. When you set the table, let them carry napkins or cutlery. Show them where they would go at the table. Show and explain everything step-by-small-step for kids.

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

We learn by repetition. Kids learn by repetition. A whole lot of it.

Parents need to be patient and prepared to provide numerous demonstrations and help them in the process. You need to be ready for dropped cans and spilled water. The idea is not to expect toddlers to do chores up to adult standards. The idea is to make them feel good and part of the household by doing chores with the family. This part is important because that’s what will make them want to keep doing it.

Praise Kids for Helping Out

A key aspect of getting young kids to help around the house with cleaning and chores, is to acknowledge their effort. While the child is helping put away the groceries, chat with them about the food being put away. Give them as much attention as you can and praise them for helping.

For example, if a parent is husking corn or peeling oranges, let the child try to do it. If it’s getting too hard, let them help out another way like putting the peels in the compost container. Talk about how good the food will taste when everyone eats together. When you are having lunch, make sure to say how the child helped out and to thank them in front of the family. Who doesn’t like to hear good things about themselves?

paint heart on an orangeMake Chores as Exciting as Tom Sawyer Made Painting

When you are doing your chores, remember your kids are watching. You don’t want to be screaming about how you hate laundry (even if this is true, we’ll keep that as our inside voice). You want to have a positive attitude about the daily duties of the household. You want to show that it’s an enjoyable task and an opportunity for socializing. Be inspired by Tom Sawyer painting for his Aunt Polly. You could have a whole neighborhood of toddlers wanting to help you out if you make cleaning up seem like the very best thing ever!

Make Clean Up Fun for Young Kids        

boy in Lego boxWhen doing chores, make it fun and games for kids where you can. For example, if it is time to put laundry in the hamper, make it a throwing game. See how many pieces of dirty laundry can get thrown into the laundry basket or hamper. Parents should join in themselves so it’s a family event. Laugh, clap and cheer when anyone gets clothes in the basket.

Not only does this work on hand-eye coordination for young ones, but making cleaning up a game can help with clean up of all sorts of things around the house from building blocks to shoes.

Have an Organized Routine for Clean Up

Having a set routine where clean up is part of ending an activity is a great habit to get kids into. When a play activity is ending, let kids know ahead of time that it will soon be time to put the toys away. Give them a five-minute warning and then two-minute notice. Then when it is time for clean up, let the kids know and help them with the process. Make clean up part of the routine when doing any play or art activity.

Use a Clean Up Song to Cue Kids to Start Cleaning

It’s also a good idea when it is time to clean up to have a clean-up rhyme or song. A popular song to sing is the following:

Clean up, Clean up

Everybody everywhere

Clean up, Clean up

Time for us to do our share

Keep repeating the song until everything is all cleaned up. As kids become familiar with the song, they will hum or sing along. They will know what to do when you start singing the song. Or check out this video, they will start cleaning up on their own when they sing the song.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N69NRFduFF0

Toddlers Can Learn to Clean

Toddlers are at stage of development where they are open to the idea of cleaning up – particularly if you make it enjoyable. Get them to help you with simple chores and make it a fun and social process. Make cleaning into a game and praise them for their participation. Have an organized routine so they know clean up is part of daily life. Life is messy, so enjoy cleaning it up together – one day at a time.

Nobody’s Perfect Program for Parents

Nobody’s Perfect Parenting Program

Looking to tune up your parenting skills or get some support on a parenting issue? If you are a parent of young kids in BC, you might want to check out a Nobody’s Perfect parenting program. Nobody’s Perfect is a free, helpful and fun way to improve your parenting skills, meet other parents and have a little break from the kids.

dad and son Free Parenting Program

This free program is for parents who have kids ages zero to five-years-old and it’s offered in communities throughout British Columbia. Knowing how hard it can be to have a discussion surrounded by a flock of children, free babysitting is offered. There are also free drinks and snacks offered for both the parents and the kids. As well, if you need help with getting to the program, you can talk with organizers about transportation options as well.

Share and Discuss Parenting Issues

Being a parent can be stressful sometimes, your life can revolve around the kids and it can be hard to get some time to yourself to think about this important job that you do. The nice thing about Nobody’s Perfect is that you have space to relax, think and speak about how life with the kids is going for you. You also get to meet other parents who have kids the same age and can relate to your trials and triumphs.

If you have any questions or burning issues you are dealing with, this is a great time to talk about it and get feedback and ideas. Let’s say you are having toilet training issues with your three-year-old, you can ask the other parents and facilitators about their experience and any advice they have. On the flip side, if you are doing something well or have come up with a creative way to get kids to eat vegetables, you can share this with other parents.

Nobody’s Perfect Facilitators

Two people facilitate the meetings, meaning they provide structure and activities for discussion, but there is a lot of room for parents to interact and talk about immediate issues they are facing. The facilitators are usually parents themselves, so they have firsthand experience and empathy for parents who are taking part in the program. They also offer information on the developmental stages for kids and the kind of behavior and health issues that can come up at each stage.

mom and daughterTime Commitment for Parenting Program

Nobody’s Perfect runs from six to eight weeks and groups usually meet once a week for about two-and-a-half hours. There can sometimes be waitlists for the program, depending on the area where you live, so you may want to phone ahead if you are interested. For this reason, before you sign up, a commitment to coming to most of the sessions is often expected.

Where to Find Nobody’s Perfect

Talk to or visit with staff at your local community centre or neighborhood family place to find out if they offer this program or if they know where it is being offered. Another option is to go online to the BC Council for Families and go to the Program Locator section. You can type in “Nobody’s Perfect” in the Program slot and then add in your city or town.

Nobody’s Perfect parenting program is a free program offered in towns and cities across BC. It’s geared for parents with kids from the age of zero to five and it’s a great way to improve your parenting skills, share ideas with other parents and have coffee and cake without the kids.

Pippi Longstocking Parenting

Pippi Longstocking Parenting

Pippi Longstocking Parenting

 

I owe Pippi Longstocking for more than my love of long striped socks and over-sized boots. What I remember best about this red-headed wonder child — more than her eccentric fashion, super strength and gold stockpile – was her epic fibbing. Now as a parent, Astrid Lindgren’s famous character inspires me to tell tall tales to my kids in everyday life. I’m a constant liar!

How to Be a Good Parent?

Especially when my children were young and tottering about, I had days where I wondered if I had what it took to be a parent. There was a lot of conflict, crying and screaming of “NO! NO! NO!” – and that was from all of us. I searched constantly online, joined parenting groups and read books about raising kids; I was so very serious about being a good mom and doing the right thing. But there were so many resources, so many different schools of thought and so many different pieces of advice being offered out. Which way was the right way? And the bigger question, would I be able to remember the advice during stressful times?

Be the Bigger Person, Remember What it’s Like to Be the Smaller Person

Then, during a parenting class (Nobody’s Perfect, I totally recommend it), we did an exercise where I had to find a symbol to help me stay positive in difficult moments. I had to find a way to overcome my uptightness and anger. I needed to be the bigger person, and sometimes that means remembering what it’s like to be a smaller person. Pippi cart-wheeled into my head and whispered, ”You don’t have to be so by-the-book. Skip school and make your own rules! Find the joy in the everyday and get creative when things aren’t going your way.” So I did.

Creative Storytelling in Everyday Life

Instead of trying to battle a toothbrush into my toddler’s mouth, I told him about sugar bugs. I told him these little critters carry shovels and like to dig holes and tunnels in teeth. Magically, his mouth opened wide.

When he was scared to sleep at night, instead of saying “There are no monsters in your room, go to sleep,” I told him about the monster police. They patrol 24/7, picking up monsters who should be sleeping. They take them home to their monster parents where they are tucked into their monster beds. The monster police look under beds and under closets until every monster is put to bed. My son snuggled into bed feeling safer.

Finding Balance in Parenting with Pippi

I have found on-the-spot creative lying lightens tense moments, stops tears and brings us closer together. Now it’s not all springy red pigtails and all the candy we can eat at the candy shop, but it’s finding the balance and remembering the spunky verbal spontaneity of my childhood heroine. She made fibbing fantastically fun and embodies the magical wishful-thinking I had as a child, and hope to hold on to as a grown up. When times are tough, I bring on the Pippi Power and hopefully bring a little Pippi peppy magic into the lives of everyone in my family.

Check back for future posts where I’ll offer up some of my creative storytelling ideas for kids.