Toddlers

No Discipline Seems Pleasant

As kids move from baby, to toddler, to big kid and on, one of our main jobs as parents is to equip them to fly out of the nest and build their  own.  We had kids pretty early into our marriage with the hopes of  having some time to ourselves again one day.

The day-to-day training of table-manners, kind speech, following directions, navigating the new technologies that are introduced by the second, not to mention enjoying our family can be taxing.

Just when I feel I have a discipline plan in place, my kids seem to adapt.  Maybe they get used to sitting quietly in time-out, they find something else to do while the rest of the family enjoys their dessert or whatever.

One way to keep the discipline relevant and creative is through life-consquences:  you break it, you buy it; you ignore the direction to wear a jacket, you feel cold; you track mud into the house, you clean it.

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But sometimes it feels like the only one suffering from their behavior is me (and maybe my husband.)  Like when they break something they couldn’t afford anytime in the next 10 years, or when they are speaking in a whiny voice to get their way.  I know you parents know what I’m saying.

What creative discipline ideas have you tried?

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How to Handle Summer Snacktime

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Snack time is a VERY important part of the day for kids.

This summer I plan to use 30 minutes of the day for educational practice.  I am going to try to entice my kids to be excited about it with these colorful baskets and fun snacks.

They LOVE picking their own snacks, but I don’t want to be fixing them all day or running out of food two days after I go grocery shopping!

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My plan is to have educational books, flash cards etc. in the baskets along with 5 (mostly) healthy snacks for the week.  Just 5!  So they can pick one each day to go with their “homework”.

Snacks will be things like fruit leathers, nuts, peanut butter crackers, applesauce and the occasional cookies.  My son detests nuts and peanut butter so his will be a little more repetitive than my girls’.

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In the afternoon, I will do a something like carrots, grapes, or these pineapple popsicles.  (About 2 cups of pineapple and one cup of water pureed).

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What healthy, inexpensive snacks do your kids enjoy?

Do you have plans for the summer? Help for parents who work from home

“Bees’ll buzz, kids’ll blow dandelion fuzz
And I’ll be doing whatever snow does
In summer
A drink in my hand, my snow up against the burning sand
Prob’ly getting gorgeously tanned
In summer”

Even Olaf the snowman is excited about summer!!!

Every home in America that has school-aged kids or teachers living in them is counting down the days until summer vacation.

As exciting as it is for everyone, it doesn’t take long until the whining begins,

“I’m bored!”  (In our family the use of the word “bored” is actually treated the same as profanity)

“What can I do?”

“I’m hungry!”

I truly believe my kids eat twice as much in the summer and I KNOW I do more dishes.

For parents who work from home, which my husband and I do, it can be even more difficult because your kids and all your friends and neighbors often think you are available to entertain.

Last summer I was geared up for being a perfect work-from-home mom.  I had centers, I had been collecting educational activities, I had my husband on board, I had created a daily schedule, and we even began practicing the schedule before the school-year ended.

But it was still hard!  There was a little too much bickering and I heard a little too much of the whining I was hoping to avoid.

I will do a few things differently this year:

1. Send them to camp (not for the whole summer but  4 weeks to space out the summer so we can appreciate each other when we are back together again.)

2. Use an adjustable daily schedule like this one I made

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Adjustable Daily Summer Schedule

Last year I think our schedule was too rigid; if we had a change in the schedule I couldn’t communicate that as easily to the kids.  This new schedule has some firm spots (like resting time, mealtimes, and chores) but much more room to move things around for a rainy day, a playdate, etc.  I have a few more posters that I can swap out too!

(Here’s another blog with a great schedule idea:  http://thrivinghomeblog.com/2013/05/how-to-make-your-summer-at-home-with-kids-count-part-1/#_pg_pin=498031)

3.  Utilize SOME paper plates (sorry environmentalists out there but I can only mentally handle doing dishes if its under 3 hours a day!!!)

4.  Be more realistic!  I’m sure this will not be perfect, but I will learn and tweak as I go.

What are your strategies for keeping summer fun, productive, and free of whining?

5 Things that will Help Your Toddler Embrace Becoming a Big Brother or Sister

For some toddlers the addition of a new little brother or sister can be exciting.  For others, it can feel like an intruder.  And for mom and dad it can be overwhelming to watch your time divide even further.  Here are a few tips for a smooth transition:

 

1-Gift-Giving

There are so many ways you can help your older child look forward to his new little brother or sister through small, inexpensive gifts.

Make a Big Brother or Big Sister T-shirt together to wear to the hospital.

Take big brother to Build-a-Bear Workshop to make a special bear, bunny, or other friend for his new little sister.

Have a gift at the hospital to give big sister from her new sibling.

During the end of the pregnancy give a big-kid gift to your little guy to show he is not a baby anymore.  We gave this piggy-bank that emphasized responsibility to our son when his first sister was born:

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2-Read Together

Reading is a great tradition.  When I had my second child and was still in the hospital the first night, I did a full bedtime routine including reading a story to my toddler.  We read A Bad Case of Stripes.  He picked the book and brought it to the hospital to have me read.  It helped him know he was still important and his routines weren’t going to be disrupted by this invader.

Before the baby is born check out some of the great children’s stories available that give your child a little bit more of a concrete idea about what it will be like to have a new baby in the house.  I think we’ve read Berenstain Bears’ New Baby and The New Baby from The Little Critter Series at least fifty times each.

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3-Special Plans for the First Weeks Home

For my kids, a new baby in the house has meant FUN, FUN, FUN!  In the months leading up to the birth, we lined up play-dates, grandparent fun days, pool days, library trips etc.  It was like summer camp!

4-Get Some Help

For most toddlers just a few minutes of your undivided attention will go a long way.  Get somebody who loves newborns as much as I do to hold your little bundle while you get down on the floor and build a block city or sip on some pretend tea out of a plastic cup with your older child.

5-Pray Together

I read a quote today that I loved by Alan Redpath:  “when God is at the center, self is destroyed,  and love begins to reign.”  Ultimately, we want our children not just to coexist and tolerate one another, but really love each other.  Get your little guy or girl to start praying for his new baby sister or brother.  Help him with the vocabulary to consider being a protector of the new baby, to think about how to serve you and his new baby sister or brother.  Allow your son or daughter to consider how amazing God is for creating this new being that you haven’t even met yet.  Toddlers are notorious for being selfish.  Help your son love his new sibling and that will be enough!

Congratulations on your new baby and on moving toward being outnumbered by your children!

Its More Important to Paint Your Daughter’s Toenails than Clean Your House

The house I grew up in looked like it was ready to be photographed for a catalog at all times.  It wasn’t that we had a lot of money, my mom and dad just had a great eye for design and  they could DIY anything before DIY was cool!

A scenario that best describes the environment I was accustomed to goes something like this: I brought a group of friends home from college my freshmen year.  Within two steps of entering the door, a guy friend half-serious says, “are we allowed to use the toilets?”

Another time, my parents offered to babysit for a family friend and pile all five of us kids into the friends’ house so the other parents could go out.  While they babysat, they decided to take the time to reorganize the other family’s furniture!  When the couple returned they were obviously surprised to find their house looking completely different, but kept the upgrade.

What’s my point?

My point is I was shocked when my always-perfect-mom advised me, “enjoy your kids and don’t worry about cleaning your house!”  at my second baby shower.

“Who are you and what have you done with my mother?” I blurted out!

I believe in keeping an orderly home, but it was very liberating to know that if my mom could’ve gone back for a do-over she would have spent more time enjoying us, her kids, and less time keeping a picture of perfection.

Even though my mom eventually gave me the sage wisdom that my kids are more important than a spotless house, she didn’t give up on perfection completely.  She always believed in a perfect pedicure.   As she spent the last eight months in and out of the cancer center and homebound, she always checked to see if my toes were painted.  She checked to see if the paint was chipped and whether the nail bed was nicely filled.  I became her personal pedicurist when she was too sick to trust nail salons.

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Paint your daughter’s toenails!   I’m sure the time you spend will be a treasured memory…one day she may paint yours too!

 

Why I Switched to Cheap, Ugly, Diapers

Potty training is one of the most dreaded tasks of being a parent of young children.

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I have done it three times. With each tot, there were times it definitely felt like I was drumming up a lot of activity for no good reason.  Collectively, my kids have had accidents in every space in my home, in every car seat, in grocery carts, on other peoples’ furniture, and at school.  It has taken a lot of perseverance and cleanup to get to the point I am now: three potty trained kids.

During those training days, it was a true challenge for me mentally to see my kids come close to mastery only to revert to daily accidents.

I’m not gonna lie to you.  Pull-ups made it worse!

(I am so happy I figured this out before I started training baby #3, the little general.)

Even though my older two were beginning to master the  potty around 20 months, they were required to wear a pull-up at preschool to save the teachers from constantly cleaning urine (understandable) until some official mastery was reached.  So I purchased those little cartoon-covered big-kid diapers for school.  And, for my own convenience, began using them some for naps, bedtime, and long trips.

Unfortunately, my kids LOVED them.  They were fascinated by the cool designs and how the fresh pee would change the diapers by revealing drawings with special disappearing ink (?) or something.  They really started reverting and although they would use the potty when they were told, they never felt motivated to go it on their own.

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Before making the connection that the pull-ups were largely to blame, we tried everything!  Potty charts, prizes, dvd’s about going potty, prizes,  story books, prizes, staying outside naked, and prizes.  It seemed everything had some  positive impact but nothing would stick.

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That’s when I brought home the generic, white, probably even slightly uncomfortable diapers.  That did the trick!

Approaching age 3, they were ready developmentally and emotionally to transition to underpants even for sleeping and trips.  So once the option was potty or bulky white diaper, they were ready to move on!  Both big kids were “officially potty trained” at age 3.

You can imagine that when my littlest baby began showing interest in the potty at 18 months we did things differently and reaped different results.  We have never given her a pull-up.  Yes she still has an accident every now and then but she only gets ugly, cheap diapers for nap and bedtime, so she is very motivated to use the potty regularly during her awake times.  She has been “officially trained” since she was 20 months and I couldn’t be happier!

 

P.S.  I do recommend the potty-training in 3-days initiative as well!  But whether you try that approach or not save your sanity and wallet and forego the pull-ups purchase