Thursday, October 28, 2010
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
- Around the house scavenger hunt- This is a great way to keep kids occupied and teach them about the alphabet. Making a list of items around the house, start with ‘A’ and hunt ‘til you drop. Get creative with older kids by giving true ‘clues’ instead of item names and having her take photos of the items (‘Find your favorite breakfast item,’ or ‘This is the dog’s most favorite spot to lay’).
- Go camping- Camping indoors can be a blast! Build a fort out of kitchen chairs and blankets, take a flashlight inside, and read a book. Or, pop some popcorn, put on jammies, and watch a favorite movie. Done with those? Go on a bear hunt!
- Make play-doh- it’s super easy and you probably have all the ingredients. Find several different recipes here.
- Make an obstacle course- Use your imagination on this one (but be safe)! Over the pillow, around the table, hop on one foot to the door, tag the refrigerator,… You can do all sorts of variations on this one: who’s the fastest, who can go the slowest, who can complete the course while singing the alphabet/twinkle twinkle/row row row your boat.
- Have a family sleepover- in the living room! Spread out the sleeping bags, put on your jammies, pop some popcorn and turn on your favorite movie!
Monday, October 25, 2010
Saturday, October 23, 2010
"Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body."
Have a great weekend :) Read more...
Friday, October 22, 2010
- Frequent reminders about amount of time until the transition will occur – ‘Five more minutes until we put away Barbies and get in the bath tub.’ ‘Three more minutes until…’ You may feel like a broken record, but your child will feel more prepared for what’s coming.
- Deciding on a good stopping place – This works well with activities like art projects. Instead of making your child stop cold turkey at a set time, help him decide on an appropriate stopping place that he can easily pick back up from next time. Bonus: It teaches your child time management.
- Saying goodbye to toys or places – Did you read Heather’s Parent of the Week post? When it’s time to leave the swimming pool, she lets her daughter say goodbye to the pool, fountain, and hot tub. This gives her closure to her fun time.
- Remind your child when she can return to the activity – Let your child know that ‘now it’s time for bed / bath / school / lunch / whatever, but you can come back to this activity again _______.’ Then stick to it. Even if she doesn’t remember. This will instill in her a sense of confidence that she can trust you.
- Leave in a fun way – If whining or the beginnings of the cry lip ensue, combat them with a quick, ‘Oh, did you want to go piggy back, upside down, or on my shoulders? You pick! And will I be a horse, an elephant, or a dinosaur today?’ Giving your child a ‘sweet ride’ to wherever he’s going next is sure to perk up his attitude!
Thursday, October 21, 2010
If you've been reading AGP for awhile, you'll recognize this. That's okay. We can all stand to be reminded of this from time to time (everyday?). If you remember one thing today, let this be it:
Parents generally: know their children better than anyone else, want the very best for their children, and are doing the absolute best they can.
Read all you can about parenting. Arm yourself with lots of tools and ideas. But in the end- do what works for you and your child. Don't let someone (expert or not) make you feel bad or make you feel like you're not doing a good job. You are.
Repeat the following to yourself at least once a day: I am the best parent for my child. Read more...
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
It's the greatest feeling, isn't it? That kind of laugh that comes from the depths of your gut, where you just can't stop, and your cheeks are hurting and your eyes are squinting so hard you can barely see. It's refreshing.
Oh, and did you know that belly laughs are contagious? Chances are that your child belly laughs quite a bit more often than you. Pay attention and I bet you'll see. Let it infect you. It's a wonderful sickness. :)
What made you belly laugh last?? Read more...
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
What toys do your kids come back to day after day, month after month??
Monday, October 18, 2010
The thing that surprised me the most about parenting is how much it has taken over my life, in a good way. It was difficult to adjust to losing my freedom to come and go as I pleased when I first had my oldest son. I quickly realized that there was nowhere else I wanted to be or anyone else I wanted to be with besides my baby. Despite my many academic and professional accomplishments, motherhood has truly been my greatest accomplishment and the accomplishment that I want to be remembered for after I am gone. I want people to say that I was a good mother and I want my sons to feel that I was a good mother to them.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
You have a lifetime to work, but children are only young once. -Polish Proverb Read more...
Thursday, October 14, 2010
You can feel it coming. The pressure is building. You know the flood gates are about to open and the tantrum is about to start because your child wants a toy / a toy was taken out of your child's hands / it's time to go / it's not time to go / it's bedtime / you said no to ice cream / he hasn't had a nap. Whatever the reason, your kiddo is C-R-A-N-K-Y. And a tantrum is on the way.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
When I was young, my mom and I had this bedtime ritual. We did it every night without fail. At the risk of you thinking we were crazy (we were, a little), here's what it was: I would stand on my bed facing my mother, which put me at roughly at the same height as her. We had a little made up song and dance that we did. It lasted maybe ten seconds, max. It involved fist and elbow swinging along with just a tad of hip swaying. I won't sing you the song but suffice it to say that it was silly. Each night after said production, I jumped into the lying position to receive my bedtime story and 'wind down' (one terrible, fateful night, this 'jump' involved me breaking my thumb. That is another post entirely.).
The point is: I'm now
twenty-seven years old a grown adult and I still remember it. Even the song. It was 'our thing.' For me as a child, it was predictable. I knew I could count on it as a part of my bedtime routine. It was comforting. Even if I had had a rotten day, singing and dancing with my mom ended it on a good note (get it?! note?! I really should go into comedy...). And it connected me with my mom. I could call my mother up this second and she could sing the song to me.
Here's the challenge: Create a special bedtime ritual with your child. It does not need to be a full out stage production, just something quick and special that helps you and your child have a special moment at the end of each day. Here are a few ideas:
- Have special bedtime words, for example: "Goodnight, sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite, and if they do then smack 'em, smack 'em, smack 'em right!"
- Talk about your favorite thing that happened during the day
- Talk about what you're looking forward to about tomorrow
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
- Let her choose the jammies
- Let him choose which bedtime story to read
- Let her say goodnight to her toys
- Let him choose a special stuffed animal to sleep with each night
- Routine. Routine. Routine. Have one. Stick to it.
- Bedtime checklist. Not a reward chart, just a checklist, so that your kiddo knows exactly what to expect each night. Checking bedtime tasks (tooth brushing, bath, etc) will help her feel more in control.
- Hear what she’s saying. Be there for her, but help her regulate. “I hear that you don’t want to go to bed. Can I snuggle next to you to help you feel better or can you work it out on your own?”
- Bedtime guidelines like talking in a whisper or a soft voice for 30 minutes before bed will help him ‘put on the brakes’ and calm down.
Monday, October 11, 2010
Saturday, October 9, 2010
Friday, October 8, 2010
I'm feverishly writing on the ideas you all gave me. In the meantime, here's the very first post I ever wrote. A long, long time ago way, way back in a time called August. Ha! I think you'll enjoy it.
All too often I hear parents remark on how much their preschooler uses the word ‘no.’ “She says ‘no’ to everything! She takes hard-headed to a new level!” or “I think the only word he knows is ‘no!’” and in the same breath, parents also remark on how their little one “repeats everything I say- you have to be so careful!” Interesting, isn’t it, how clear the connection seems in writing but not in practice? Preschoolers say ‘no’ because they hear ‘no.’
At an age in which the transition from the helplessness of being a baby to the stark realization that the self is an independent human separate from mommy is, at best, abrupt, I think our kids need to hear ‘yes’ more. It’s time that we, as parents, evaluate why exactly we say ‘no’ as much as we do.
Maybe it’s habit. Toddlers and preschoolers have endless energy and seem to get into everything they physically can. Perhaps we are so used to saying no (“No, honey, you can’t fill the bathtub up with your spaghetti” “No, you can’t wear your swimsuit to school when it’s snowing outside”) that it becomes an automatic response rather than a well-thought reply.
Or maybe our ‘no’s’ have more selfish undertones. After all, filling pots and pans with water then throwing giant play-doh balls into them does not lend itself to the quiet, clean household most of us desire.
Whatever the reason, the truth is that ‘no’ often stifles a child’s ability to make realdecisions that affect his or her life. In order to help children become independent adults, we must allow them to (gulp) make both wrong and right decisions, for this is how they learn.
I challenge parents to start saying ‘yes.’ Yes, you can sleep with all 74 of your stuffed animals on your bed. Yes, you can wear your sweatshirt inside out if the tag bothers you. Yes, you can absolutely have carrots with your breakfast and cereal with your dinner. By not automatically refusing an idea that, to us as adults seems silly or ‘wrong’, we not only empower our children to make their own decisions but also let them know that we support and respect them as people.
One of the best real life examples of a parent saying ‘yes’ is seeing a child at the grocery store wearing his or her Halloween costume when Halloween was months ago. Why not? Instead of “no, we don’t wear Halloween costumes when it’s not Halloween,” what’s the harm in “how did you ever come up with such a creative way to get more use out of the costume I made for you? You will probably have grown out of it by next Halloween, so I’m glad you have the chance to wear it again!”?
Of course, there are times when we must tell children ‘no’ (e.g., when safety is a risk). However, most of the time a ‘no’ can become a ‘yes.’ Think of it this way: instead of sharing with a child what he can’t do, try communicating what he can do:
-Don’t paint on the wall
-Don’t skateboard in the street
-Don’t throw the ball in the house
-Paints are for paper
-I'm happy to move the cars out of the garage so you can skateboard there
-I'd love to throw the ball with you in the backyard
Giving children real options and letting them choose what best suits their needs in situations like these not only saves us the time and frustration of, say, cleaning paint off the walls, but it also allows children to feel like their opinions matter (and they do matter!).
I suspect that children whose parents respect them as people and allow them to have a say in their life decisions will be more compliant when a parent does say no, because the child will know that your use of ‘no’ is not indiscriminant or meaningless.
Next time, before you say ‘no’ to a request your child has made, ask yourself why. Will it put my child or others in danger? Do I have a substantial reason to say ‘no’? If not, I challenge you to say ‘yes’!
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Children make our lives complete. They are our everything. Our children are our hearts and souls, and it's difficult to remember what life was like before them. But for just a second I want you to try. I bet you had more date nights before you had kids, didn't you?
Since young children rely on us to meet so many of their needs, it's easy to let the relationship with your partner fall to the wayside while we fill sippy cups, cut waffles, and give baths. Don't. That love is what created your family in the first place and it deserves to be nurtured just as you nurture your children.
Here's my challenge to you. Make a plan for a date night. Weekly, bi-weekly, whatever. There are a million excuses not to, but I promise you and your partner will feel reconnected and reenergized.
And just in case those excuses do start creeping into your mind:
- Low on money? Hire a babysitter for two hours (fairly cheap) and do something free, like walk in a park, take a drive, or look at the stars
- Really low on money? Do a babysitter exchange with a friend (you watch all the kids one night, then switch on another night), then do something free
- Exhausted after a long week? Do something relaxing. Drop the kids off at grandma's and have a movie marathon with the hubs or go see a funny movie
- I don't have a spouse/significant other. Plan a girls' night/guys' night. You deserve it. You need it.
- We just don't have time! Make time. That's part of it. No easy fix for this one :)
Monday, October 4, 2010
Aren't new babies just the best? There's really nothing like them. They rest so peacefully (at first...), they have little chunker cheeks, and that new baby smell.
Right after birth, Baby S. latched on perfectly and spent some quality mommy-baby bonding time. Later, Emily, whose friends and family clearly live through real-life comparisons to television sitcoms, would sit through at least seven of the following conversations: ‘Hey- did you ever see that episode of ‘The Office’ where Pam has the baby and she accidentally nurses her roommate’s newbor-‘ ‘Yes.’
Emily and Doug head home from the hospital today, so leave them some love and encouragement in the comments. They are doing a great job so far. Isn’t this just the cutest little family you’ve ever seen?!
Fun fact: Emily is my sister :)
If you would like to be featured as an Avant Garde Parent of the Week or have someone you would like to nominate, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you! Read more...
Friday, October 1, 2010
Well, three really. But one and two go together. I've been blogging for almost two months! Thank you, thank you, thank you, my readers, for checking in day after day to see what I have to say. Thank you for telling me when you agree and when you don't. Thank you for telling me about your precious children and your parenting moments of sanity and insanity. In case you though anything else, I read and reread every comment, star them in my gmail inbox, and have loved getting to know you all. For two months, I've been telling you what I think you might want to hear about. I've told you about daycare, lying, cleaning up, attachment, and lots more. So here's what I want to know:
What do YOU want to hear about?
Comment and tell me what child and parenting issues you want to read about. Admittedly, I won't know everything about all of them. But chances are, I'll at least know where to tell you to look.
Second thing. I'm featured today over at Mommy Monologues! Not only is this blog super cute, but Kate's posts are always either hilarious, inspiring, uplifting, or just plain entertaining. She recently wrote a post on her siblings that I just loved. So go give her some bloggy love! Read more...