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Mom Advice

How to Teach Your Kids to Tie Their Shoes

How to teach your kids to tie their shoes

This blog talks about how to teach your kids to tie their shoes.  I know there are several tried and true ways (when I was little, I learned the “bunny ears” method), but as usual for my kiddos, teaching through song has been our most successful effort.

We have taught our kids my phone number and their address through songs.

So, is everyone’s beautiful singing voice ready?  Okay, here goes.  This is to the tune of the original “Happy Birthday” song.

Sing to the tune of  ”Happy Birthday”

Take a lace and make a loop

Make a circle around the loop

Pull your lace through and under…

Tug and tighten in a bow!

Here’s a video to help you get the tune in your head!

Silly, right?  My little girl giggled through this several times…and then got frustrated with the process (especially the third step of “pulling through the lace”)….then started to get it on her own. And I was rewarded with a BIG smile.

This will take practice, as with everything new.  But my daughter seemed happy to try…and happy to have a song to sing.

Does anyone else have a cool way to teach your kids how to tie their shoes? Please share below!

Taming Playdate Disasters

playdatedisasters

Has this ever happened to you?

You pack up your kiddos, load them into the car, arrive at your scheduled playdate, and then…your toddler or preschooler has a complete and total meltdown? It’s the worst, isn’t it?! So today I want to talk about taming playdate disasters.

I don’t have a lot of great answers. What I do have is a few tips I’ve picked up along the way that work (most times) for our family.  I’m asking for your best tips, too!  Let’s start a dialogue and share about what works for our kiddos.

Tip #1 – Set yourself up for the best chance for success (maybe.)

I try to not schedule playdates after other big activities, or when my kids are likely to be cranky or hungry.

Best case scenario, my kiddo is ready for fun. BUT, if my little man is in a mood, overtired, or already throwing fits about this or that, why start the whole playdate out on a sour note?

Being a “Type A” personality, it’s difficult for me to alter plans at the last minute, but depending on where we’re going and what we’re doing (and if the timing is somewhat flexible), I will sometimes hold off until he is in a better frame of mind.

This may mean we’re a little late…and that we have a better playdate!

Tip #2 – I stay consistent with my own “house” rules.

Consistency has been key for our kids. This means that our rules at home are the same rules wherever we go. And believe me, my kids test me, especially if other families have different house rules.

I simply explain that every family has different rules, and that’s absolutely okay.  But our rules are _______ (insert applicable rule).  This.is.so.hard. Especially at someone else’s house. But, I’ve found in the long run, consistency has worked better for our kiddos. They know what I expect of them, and vice versa.

Tip #3 – I leave special lovies or toys in the car.

I have made the fatal mistake of letting one of my kids bring their lovey into someone else’s home for a playdate. I mean, it’s their security, right?

Ummmm, guess what happened?

My baby was easily distracted by the “new” toys their friends had, left their lovey on the floor…and minutes later, freaked OUT because another kid was wondering around with it (on the floor = fair game, with a group of kids.) Ensue major meltdown.

From that disaster on, our lovies and special toys stayed in the car. We strap them into their carseats so they are waiting and ready for us when we return to the car.  Major tantrum avoided right out of the gate.

Tip #4 – I make an effort to listen. 

I know this seems like a no-brainer, but sometimes I get so involved in talking with my other mama friends or helping with something to do with a craft or snack, I don’t always stay tuned in to the conversations going on with the kiddos.

If I hear fighting or yelling between my kiddos and their buddies for more than a few minutes, I’ll wander over, listen and observe.

If I need to intervene, I’ll ask them to use their words and explain what’s wrong. The majority of the time, it’s a quick fix. An apology, hug and change of activity usually does the trick.

And, if it’s not?  If appropriate, my kid gets a time-out for the infraction (our main form of discipline) – even though we’re at a friend’s house.

Tip #5 – I’m not afraid to abandon ship.

And, if all else fails (after several attempts to appease the situation), I’ll give my fellow mama a hug, apologize for the speedy exit, and take my kiddo home.  Hey, we all have bad days, right?! Plus, it likely makes the other mom feel grateful she is not the only one.

Sometimes we need our space…and this is true for our children, too.

What do you do when a play date turns disastrous?  Any great tips to share?
Please comment below!

Sibling Conflict Resolution Tip

sibling conflict resolution tip

The post today is about a sibling conflict tip my friend Laurie shared with me. A truly brilliant idea, which makes for immediate blog material.

Does this sound familiar?

You come up with a fun idea to go out to dinner with the family and start talking about where you will go. One child yells, “Ruby’s!!” Their sibling yells (louder), “Wahoo’s!!

And then what was supposed to be a pleasant outing idea has turned into the battle of wills, which each child standing firm in their stance. UGH!!!

A standoff (and headache) ensues and you think, “Why on earth did I start this?’ I should have just boiled some spaghetti and called it a day.

But the dinner idea is out there, and there is no turning back, because really, you don’t want to make dinner, so the conversation and negotiations start.

You might have one child that is likely to throw the bigger fit, so you try to talk the other into going along with their idea so you can just get out the door for pete’s sake.  There might be a bribe involved. Anything might happen at this point.

Or maybe you say, “Enough! I am choosing!” and then they get really pissed off and the fun family dinner turns into a nightmare before you walk out the door. Good times.

But here is a sibling conflict tip that is going to help you.

If you have two children, you have an odd child and an even child.

My firstborn, Emma, was born first. She is a 1, or my odd girl.

Morgan was born second, she is a 2, my even girl.

So, in those situations now, where it is truly just a matter of one opinion or choice vs. the other, you can say, “What day is it? The 12th? Oh, it’s an even day, that means Morgan gets to chose this time.”

The calendar is calling the shots. Blame it on the day kiddos. You are not choosing sides, the calendar is.

I implemented it the next morning, which was the 9th. My kids thought it was a super cool plan. Until my oldest misunderstood and thought since it was an odd day, she would get her way all day. We are working on that one.

Now, there must be a way to figure this out with more than two kids, but I didn’t have the brainpower to come up with an idea. If anyone else does, please comment and share!

beautiful photo by the lovely www.kristineldridge.com

New Year’s Resolutions from an Exhausted Mommy

New Year's Resolutions from an Exhausted Mommy

Here are my New Year’s resolutions…specifically, new year’s resolutions from an exhausted mommy. 

As much as I love the holidays, as much as I love all of the extra parties and extra treats and extra late nights, I am very excited to start 2014 fresh and energized and organized and (hopefully) on top of it.

Except for one small tiny little detail. I’m exhausted. Anyone else in the same boat?

That’s when I realized I needed to add more to my resolutions than the typical “finally get that unwanted weight off, exercise consistently, eat healthy, etc. etc.”

So here we go…my NEW new year’s resolutions. Would love to hear yours!

1. Streamline my calendar 

This means evaluating what I’ve committed to, and really thinking about what’s important to me, my kids, and our family. When I say “yes” to something, how does that affect me, my family, and my schedule? Same goes for when I say “no.” What’s flexible and what’s not? I am challenging myself to really think about whatever the commitment actually is before I jump in and excitedly say “yes.” This will be hard because I LOVE being involved and on-the-go and busy. Hence, being an exhausted mommy!

2. Sleep more

I stay up late to get things done. It’s my only quiet time. And I forfeit sleep. So I wake up tired. And this is a never-ending cycle. So, more sleep it is!  I need to be more disciplined and have a bedtime – hey, I make my kids have one!

3. Eat healthier – and stick with it

I actually think this is just as important, if not more, than the proverbial “lose weight.”  Because by choosing better nutrition (instead of my next fad diet), I’m convinced that I will have an overall healthier lifestyle.  And, hopefully more energy!  The added bonus – weight loss.

4. Drink more water 

I don’t drink nearly enough water.  Coffee, yes.  Iced tea, yes. Water, no. I am going to start carrying around a water bottle with me everywhere I go, and refill every time it’s empty.I think most of the time I’m probably dehydrated. I know that drinking more water is going to make a BIG difference.

5. Pick a tangible fitness goal

Last year was my year of endurance events. I completed my first half marathon. Then my second. Then my first marathon. I find that setting a tangible fitness goal works much better for me – it keeps me focused and motivated…versus just “exercise more.”  I’m not sure what’s in store for me this year (yet!)…maybe another half marathon.  Maybe committing to a favorite fitness class three times per week. Consistent exercise means more energy and a healthier lifestyle.  Boom.

6. Maintain an organized mommy “command center”

Piles are taking over desk, kitchen counters, and dresser tops.  Don’t even get me started on Post-it notes.  I commit to going through my piles once a day (okay, maybe every other day) and file the important stuff, separate the action items, and recycle the excess.  Going to bed with a clean desk – and waking up to a clean desk – will help me start each day fresh.  And maybe a little less frazzled.

7. Take a five minute breather, when needed

My schedule is pretty packed…I’m sure you can all relate!  And, I tend to “power through,” (and…ahem…keep drinking caffeine all day!) instead of taking a little breather, when needed.  I think by incorporating some deep breathing and scheduling some quiet time each day…even if for five minutes, will help bring a little more peace to my day.

8. Keep a Gratitude Journal

One of the fantastic mom’s group I’m involved with (and love!) challenged us to keep a gratitude journal during the month of November….and what an incredible experience it was.  It was a focused activity once a day (for me, usually at night once the kiddos were asleep and the house was quiet), when I could journal and think about what I was really grateful for in my life. I loved the experience so much, I am challenging myself to do this once a day on a regular basis.

9. Have more impromptu dance parties with my kids! 

And above all, I resolve to have more impromptu dance parties with my kids. Be silly. Laugh loud. Take more walks. Go to the park more. Play dress-up more. Finger paint.  Pretty much take time every day to REALLY enjoy my children.  They are only this age once.  And, I want to enjoy all of the beautiful moments (which make the crazy, pull-my-hair-out moments worth it!).

What are your New Year’s resolutions?  Feel free to share below!

Getting My Picky Eaters to Try New Foods

Getting My  Picky Eaters  to Try New Foods

Does anyone else have super picky eaters? I have been blessed with two little angels who think they can survive on chicken nuggets, peanut butter and apples. After much frustration – and making multiple main dishes for one meal to keep everyone happy – my husband and I decided enough was enough.  So, here are my tips on how to get get picky eaters to try new foods

Please help moms everywhere out if you happen to have any of your own tricks up your sleeve.

At first, this was a little overwhelming for me.

My kids always eat things from different food groups, they just haven’t been eating the “fancier” dishes my husband and I cook.  Knowing that our kids needed to transition to eating what the whole family was eating, we did our research (Google, polled our parent friends, read articles, and asked our pediatrician), decided what was reasonable, and have been implementing the “you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit” plan.

Here’s what’s been working for us…I hope these tips are helpful for you, too!

Family Style Serving

Instead of making their plate in the kitchen and setting it in front of them, we now put plates of food on the table (usually represented from all food groups) and let the kids take turns putting food on their own plate.

We find this works to our advantage in two ways -

1.  The kids take ownership in picking their own food.  They can take as much or as little as they want…as long as they try one bite of each dish.

2.  We always make sure there is at least one item that we know they like.  Carrots, apple slices, hummus…that way they have some of their comfort food to fall back on once they try at least one bite of the new stuff.  This has been a consistent piece of advice we’ve received from our parent friends…and it works!

Setting a Good Example

Kids are little sponges – I know mine watch me like a hawk.  For the most part, they want to be just like my husband and I…and my little one wants to be just like his big sister.  This means that setting a good example has been very important to our family in this process.  When I ask my kids to try something, that means that my husband and I are also eating it.  We also sit down together as a family to eat.  Or whoever is home…we all sit down and make the meal a family event.

Staying Consistent 

As with anything, being consistent has been our saving grace.  Every meal.  Same rules every time. Now, we still believe in special treats and special meals on occasion…of course!  But on a daily basis, we are making good nutrition and consistent family meals a priority.

Little Shoppers  

The kids usually come grocery shopping with me anyways, so now I let them help me pick new foods when we’re out.  They love to shop, so this is kind of a big deal that they get to pick new things to try.

Educate

My husband is constantly asking our kiddos, Is this super healthy, medium healthy, or not healthy at all?”  Then he explains why the particular food in question is healthy or not.  He also tells the kids that they have to train their tongues to like new foods…and makes funny little jokes out of it.  Like, “Your tongue just don’t remember this food. See if it can remember what it tastes like?” The kids think he’s hilarious…Whatever works!

I’d love to hear your tips. What’s worked for you and your family?  Please do share below!