Tips and tricks for making parenting FUN again!

Tips and tricks for making parenting FUN again!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Rainy Day Jar

Don't you just dread those days that are too rainy, cold, snowy, etc. to play outside? Well, you get a lot of those in winter, so today's post is the first in my Rainy Day series! Throughout this week I will give you some fun ideas for stay-inside days. In our home we have come to look forward to those days because of our Rainy Day Jar. Inside this jar are slips of paper that include our favorite rainy day activities:
- play a board game
- bake treats (super fun easy and delicious recipe to come later this week!)
- have a treasure hunt (more about these later in the week too!)
- play horse jumping (see above!)
- make an obstacle course
- paint
- build with blocks
- read books
- make cards
- build a fort/tent
- play from imagination jar (more on those later this week too!)
- dance party

As soon as we see it's going to be a stay-inside kind of day, we pull out our Rainy Day jar and one child gets to pick out a piece of paper. We do the activity on the paper until we feel like doing something else and then the next child gets a turn to pick.

I make sure that all of the activities in the jar are things that I enjoy doing too, because that means that I will be have fun and be more likely to participate. As they say, "If Mom ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!"

Now when it's a rainy/snowy/cold day we all look forward to reaching into the jar and finding out what adventures our day holds!! Be sure to check back this week for more on these fun ideas!

What is your favorite rainy day activity?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Secret Kisses

As I have mentioned before, my relationship with my oldest daughter is always a concern of mine. She is the middle child, so she often gets lost in the shuffle. Add to that that her personality is completely different from mine, and you can understand how we sometimes have a difficult time connecting.

I wanted to have something that was just between her and I, something special like a secret signal or a secret handshake, so I came up with the idea of a "secret kiss." If you promise not to tell anyone, I'll share it with you. It goes like this- eskimo kiss, kiss the right cheek, kiss the left cheek, kiss on the lips, then we wiggle our fingers at each other and say, "Woogie woogie woogie!" It just takes a moment, but we do it at bedtime and before she leaves for preschool in the morning. It has become like a little security blanket and it always puts a smile on her face. If I forget she'll say, "Secret kiss!" Whenever we share our secret kiss it is that brief moment of connection when we're really engaged with one another, knowing that we are sharing something special that's just between the two of us.

My son caught us "secret kissing" one day and so he wanted something like that too- but without the kissing (boy+kissing=eww!) so we created our own "secret hug." Secret kisses and secret hugs aren't hard to do- just be creative and have fun with it!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dabba Dabbas

It's that lovely time of year when little noses get the sniffles and the sneezes and the runnies! Eww! If your little ones are anything like mine, then they HATE to have the nose wiped. However, I have developed a strategy to significantly reduce the amount of running and screaming and crying when I pull out the tissue. I say to the little one, "Time for dabba-dabbas!" I then take the tissue and gently dab it against their nose, not wipe it (though I may sneak in a couple wipes at the end) and say each time I dab, "Dabba-dabba! Dabba-dabba!" My babies have always thought this is very silly and they don't mind it one bit. My baby girl will actually come running to me with a big grin on her face and stick her nose out when I tell her it's time for "dabba-dabbas." Who knew a snotty nose could be so much fun? ;-)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Big Interview

So you're outside and your child yells, "Hey Mom! Watch this!!" You watch as they proudly demonstrate their newfound skill. You call back, "Wow! That's great sweetie! Good for you!"

Next time this scenario happens, try something a little different. Ask the child what they are going to do for you and then be their sports commentator!

"Now, ladies and gentlemen, Ms. Lucy Lane is going to attempt to ride her bike all the way to the end of the street and back. Her entire bike-riding career has been leading up to this moment. Let's watch.

"Here she goes! She has such control as she works the pedals with ease. What grace, what precision and speed as she makes the final turn! Here she comes! She has done it! Lucy Lane has ridden to the end of the street and back!!!"

(hold up pretend microphone to Lucy)
"Tell me Lucy, how did that feel?"

(giggles) "Umm, good!"

"Well it sure felt good to watch you! It looked like that final turn might have been a difficult one, but you handled it well. Were you worried about it going in?"

(more giggles) "Umm, no!"

"That is good to hear. I can see that your confidence is what really gives you an edge and makes you a true cycling superstar. Congratulations on your incredible accomplishment today!"
(grins) "Thanks!!"

What a great and fun way to be supportive and boost your child's confidence (and of course, be a little bit silly at the same time)!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Where is the Happy?

I mentioned at the beginning of this blog that I read parenting books, because quite honestly, I need all the help I can get. I once remember reading from one of those books that when a child is being grumpy or throwing a tantrum, just telling them to stop being that way can be difficult for them to understand. The author said that rather than tell the child you want them to stop a certain behavior, try instead to describe the behavior you would like to see.

My children and I have made this something of a game. (For privacy's sake, I will refer to my children by only their first initial.) If my son is sad because he is not doing well in a game we're playing, I will tell him how much more fun the game can be if everyone tries to have a good time, and I'll say, "I need a happy T. Where's my happy T?" Usually he can manage to push out a little smile. If not, then I have to start looking for "my happy T." I'll say, "I know there's got to be a happy T in here somewhere. Let's see..." I then proceed to check under his arms, poking around in his armpits, under his chin, around his middle, until he's laughing so hard from the tickling he can barely breathe. Then I say, "Oh look! There he is! I knew I could find my happy T in there!"

This is one of the best ways I've found to turn a potential tantrum into smiles and giggles. And that makes the day more fun for everyone!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Time Together Box

The busier my life gets and the more kids I have, the less one-on-one time I seem to have with each child. Last fall I realized that my relationship with my 4-year-old daughter was being affected by not being able to have that individual time with her. It seemed all of my attentions were going to her baby sister or her big brother when he needed help with his homework.

The solution I came up with was a special time each day, after baby sister had gone down for her nap and before big brother came home from school, that would be our time together. I had her help me decorate a shoebox that we designated our Time Together Box. Each day I put something in the box to show her what we are going to do together that day. Here are a few of the things that have gone into the box:

- dolls
- wooden spoon or cookie mix
- game piece (Candyland is a favorite)
- paintbrush
- nail polish
- princess movie

She loves to come home and open her box to see what we're going to do together.

My son got a little jealous, so I made one with him also, with the condition that we get to do it only after homework is done. It helps him to focus on getting his homework done more quickly. But if time runs out he also understands that homework time is my one-on-one time with him, and the time can't always be extended to allow for more fun stuff (baby sister gets up from her nap and dinner needs to be prepared). However, we usually get a chance to do something fun (Legos, War card game, dominoes, etc.) a few times a week.

I have found that I learn more about my kids from these 15-30 minutes I spend with them each day than I learn from the other 6-9 hours we're all together! It's something we all look forward to!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

What Was Your Favorite Thing Today?

For disclosure's sake, I stole this idea from a novel, "Marcelo in the Real World."

Every night at dinner my husband or I (or whichever of the kids might remember first) will ask another family member, "(Name, Name), what do you say? What was your favorite thing today?" So if my son said, "Mommy, Mommy, what do you say? What was your favorite thing today?" I might answer, "I loved snuggling up with you and your sisters and reading stories this afternoon." I would then use the rhyme and ask another family member what their favorite thing was, and so on around the table until we have all shared.

This is not only a nice nightly family tradition, but I've found that when we have guests over it gives the kids an opportunity to open up the conversation to them. In the past the kids might have been shy around new faces at the table, but now they will smile and ask the guest what their favorite thing was for the day. After the guest shares, the children will encourage them to repeat the rhyme to someone else (which usually means that the kids have to help them remember the rhyme). Guests enjoy sharing and the kids enjoy being a part of the conversation.

Reader, Reader, what do you say? What was your favorite thing today?

Friday, January 21, 2011


Every kid does it- they pretend to make food. And, inevitably, they bring it to you for a "taste." You pretend to taste it, praise them for their culinary mastery, and they go on their way.

Next time they do this, take a pretend taste and say, "YUCK!!!!!" and make a terrible face (sticking out your tongue is always a nice addition). You might thing you'll hurt their feelings, but you might be surprised at how funny they think this is. (Of course, if your child is particularly sensitive, and appears hurt by this, then you can remedy the situation by claiming a bug in your portion and redoing the taste test.) They'll take it back to their "kitchen" and try again. Continue with the yuck as long as they are laughing. Don't be surprised if they start bringing you new combinations like "Scrambled Worms with Eyeball Sauce." That's a good time to start praising their cooking skills again. Mmmm.

You can change it up by screaming, "YOOOWWEEEEEEE!!!!! THAT'S HOT!!!!" I have gotten lots of giggles from that tactic as well.

If you always give your kids the same response, they'll assume you're not paying attention. Pay attention. Make each time different. It doesn't take a lot of effort and the smiles will be worth it.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

On Your Mark, Get Set, GO!

I know we've all experienced it- it's called The Kid Speed. It's that speed they go when you're desperately trying to get out the door on time and they seem to have suddenly stepped into quicksand, unable to move but only a few inches at a time. They make a snail look like a cheetah.

Here's my go-to solution (this works especially well with little boys- they're very competitive): Say, "I'm gonna race you to the car! On your mark, get set- GO!" If they take off before you say "go", then be sure to make a big deal out of being left behind. Say, "HEY!!! I didn't say GO yet!!! GET BACK HERE!!! NOT FAAAAIIIIRR!!!!" You will have them laughing their head off, and they will be in the car where they need to be in record time.

To be honest, anytime you need any of your kids to do something quickly, just say, "On your mark, get set, GO!" It's weird, it's like this switch hardwired into their brain that when they hear that they suddenly take off.

"Pick up your toys! On your mark, get set, GO!"

"Get your coat on! On your mark, get set, GO!"

Just make sure they can remember what exactly you want them to do or they could end up running halfway down the street before you can get them to stop... ;-)


I am not a parenting expert. I read a lot of books that are by parenting experts, but that's because I am constantly in need of help. Because I am not a parenting expert.

What I am is a fun-loving, creative person, and lucky for me, kids also happen to be fun-loving creative people! So if you are looking for a parenting expert, look elsewhere. If, however, you are looking for some ideas on how to make everyday life a little bit more fun, laugh a little bit more, and build a joyful and loving relationship with your kids, then you are in the right place.

I don't have cure-alls for behavioral issues, but I have a few fun ideas that have helped me with some of the everyday hassles that I face. I won't give you step-by-step instructions on cute crafts to make with your kids, but I will give you a few outside-the-box silly adventures you might enjoy together.

The point of this blog is to give you simple, easy ideas that don't cost money, don't take a lot of time, and don't take a lot of energy for you to do, but they will help you and your kids have a blast during this time in their young lives.

Because kids are silly. And parenting should be too.