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Parenting

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!

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!

A Cool Way to Teach Your Kids How to Tell Time

I stumbled upon a cool way on how to teach your child to tell time - I wish I could take credit, but one of my good mama friends, Erin, shared this fun tip I wanted to pass on to you.

Here’s the secret – a multi-colored digital clock.  

What makes this clock special is that each of the digital numbers is represented by a different color – versus all the same color.

Let me explain….I don’t know about you, but my three-year-old keeps getting up earlier and earlier. We’ve tried teaching him to stay in bed (unless he has to go to the bathroom) until 7 a.m.

Now, he’s old enough to recognize “7,” but he still struggles with the order of numbers.  So at 5:47, he just sees a “7″ and runs into our room.  Same goes for counting down minutes to finishing breakfast, minutes left for playtime, minutes left for leaving for school…you get the idea.

Then one day, my friend Erin gave me this very simple, very cool, very inexpensive way to help your little ones learn to tell time.

This fabulous multi-colored digital clock.  I got mine at Target for under $10.  I actually got one for downstairs AND upstairs.

Now I tell my little man, “Okay sweetie, you can get out of bed when the ’7′ is green.”  And you know what?  It works!!  Just tell your kids what corresponding color and number to look for (a fun bonus – this will also reinforce color and number recognition).

I use this trick for bedtime, wake up time, playtime, leaving for school…love it!

Do you have any great how to teach your child to tell time tips for kiddos?  If so, please share below!

Sharing Gratitude with Our Kids

Raising grateful, generous children is important to our family.  So we incorporate (okay, try to incorporate) ways to share gratitude with our kids – and teach them about expressing their thanks.  With Thanksgiving approaching, I thought I’d share my favorite couple…and in return ask what your family does!

Talk about gratitude openly, everyday

Sometimes, family dinners just do NOT happen during the week with our school, activities and work schedules. Sigh.  So during at least one car ride a day (because I swear, we spend at least three hours in the car on any given day…), whoever is in the car talks about what they’re grateful for.  This morning, my three-year-old enthusiastically announced:

Mommy, I’m thankful for:

Disneyland
Trains
Monorails
Lunch
Merry-go-rounds
Grass and trees
Roads
All of my toy cars
Bridges
Potties (yes, he actually said this!)
Restaurants
Phones
Horses
Zebras
Our trash cans

Obviously, he had a lot on his little mind!  But since we try to do this exercise everyday, it’s getting easier and easier for my kids to share what they’re grateful for. And the sincerity that follows is pretty adorable!

Pick a family service project to do once a month

A couple of weeks ago, I shared a handful of my favorite service projects to do with kids.  We try to do one project a month. It’s fun, it’s fulfilling, and it’s hopefully teaching them to think about something bigger than themselves.

Oh…and those little magic words!

I keep seeing that cute little image floating around on social media that says, “Please and thank you are still magic words.”  I couldn’t agree more. Who’s with me?!

While we’re at it, I want to throw these also into the mix…

Excuse me.
I’m sorry.
I forgive you.
May I?  

Because I think teaching my kids to be grateful includes teaching them about respect.

So, we practice.  Everyday.  At home.  At Target.  At the park.  At meals.

We practice saying these little “magic” words while looking in someone’s eyes…and not at our feet.  Or the ceiling. Or our fingernails.  And, it’s hard.  Really hard sometimes.  Because my little ones don’t always have the patience (or desire) to use their manners.

But, we’re all a work in progress, right?!  And I think working with them a little everyday is (hopefully!) making a difference.  Fingers crossed, one day my three-year-old will say “Excuse me, please, AND thank you,” in the same breath.  Can you imagine?!

How do you share gratitude with your children?  Any favorite traditions or activities that work for you and your family?  Please share below!

Photo credit: Flickr, “Give Thanks”
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