Tips and tricks for making parenting FUN again!

Tips and tricks for making parenting FUN again!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Blame Game: Taking Ownership

Me dressed as a referee for Halloween with 3 of my kids. That baby in my arms turned 3 this year!

“HE started it!”

“No, SHE did!” 

“Did NOT!”

“Did TOO!"

Don’t you hate playing referee to your kids’ arguments?

I know I do, which is why I fell in love with this idea from Shawni over at 71 Toes (scroll down to the photo of the bench). She calls it the “fighting bench". Basically, when you start hearing the accusations fly, simply choose a spot in your home to be the “fighting bench" (ours is our fireplace hearth). Tell your feuding children they must sit in the designated spot and they must determine what their part of the disagreement was. They are not allowed to get up until they have told you what they did to cause the argument and apologize to the other person for their part in it.

We have used this successfully for a few months now, and not only are my children learning about taking ownership of their issues, they are also learning that when they have a disagreement, it’s better to just avoid getting mom involved, so as to avoid the “fighting bench". :-)

Looks like this referee may be ready to hang up her whistle...well, almost. ;-)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Making Amends

Does sibling rivalry make you as crazy as it makes me? Well, one way I’ve discovered (from Connected Families) to help provide an “increase of love” in our home is to provide two kinds of consequences for sibling rivalry: one consequence for the bad behavior, such as a time-out, and one act of kindness to help repair the hurt. If, for example, my 8-year-old is unkind to his little sister, he might have a time-out. After his time out is through, however, along with apologizing to his sister he must do something nice for her, or help her with something she needs, like putting lotion on her hands at bedtime.

So far this has resulted in more sincere apologies and those little acts of kindness have promoted stronger sibling relationships. Even little family members can find ways to make amends. Just this week my 3-year-old hit her big brother. After her time out and apology, I had her help him by hanging up his backpack on the hook where it belongs. She ended up wearing it in order to carry it to the hook and when he saw her he couldn’t help but laugh at the sight of her wearing his backpack- which was almost as big as she was! She started giggling as well, and any bad feelings were quickly forgotten. :-)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Time for a Dance Party!

Didn’t get a chance to squeeze a workout in today? No worries- just grab your kids and have a DANCE PARTY! Burns calories, the kids will love it, and it’s way fun.

Here’s a great song to get you started-

For an extra fun twist (no pun intended) take turns playing follow-the-leader: let each child have a turn to demonstrate their best moves while everyone else follows along- you included!

Whew! I feel the burn already!

Monday, October 15, 2012

After School One-on-One

Another school year is upon us, and from day one I felt the overwhelming After School Dread. You see,  I don’t know if all households are like this, but at my house as soon as those bus doors open, children come flying down the street, slamming open the front door, and charging in like a miniature tornado. The child-fueled F-1 is immediately followed by demands for aid. Snacks, drinks, papers shoved in my general direction, begging to attend this event or that, sign up for one activity or another- it’s enough to make anyone lose their mind, especially a mom who had, up until that point, been enjoying the peaceful bliss that occurs when her other two children are napping.

I finally decided I needed to find a solution to this school aftermath. As things were, I was getting stressed out and irritated and overwhelmed, not to mention disorganized as well. It was all just too much. I decided to try one-on-ones with my kids after school. The rule is that when the kids get in the door, I give hugs and ask general how-was-your-days, then I sit on the couch with one of them and we set the timer for 10 minutes. My kids take turns for who goes first, and whoever isn’t having a chat with me is usually in the kitchen getting a snack or starting on their homework.

My one-on-one chat usually involves me asking how their day was, if anything particularly good or bad happened, and looking over any school papers they’ve brought home. I also check to see what their homework is and make sure they understand what it is as well.

I’ve found that just touching base with each of them individually not only saves my sanity, but causes me to actually look forward to seeing them when they get home. I enjoy the little stories they tell me about their day and I appreciate the chance to really listen to how they felt about certain things. I also feel much more in control of the information they bring home and more able to process their requests. In turn, I think the kids feel like they have more of me than before, and they seem genuinely eager for that one-on-one time.

Is there a part of your day that’s more hectic than it needs to be? How can you slow things down and make it calmer?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Nursing Ring

All moms know how much sleep deprivation can affect your brainpower. If you’re a mom of a nursing baby, then that lack of brainpower can cause you to be very confused trying to remember which breast baby fed on last. Lactation consultants recommend offering the breast baby finished on during her last feeding first for her next feeding, and mommy can have a lot of discomfort if she can’t remember which one that is!

Here’s my trick: get an inexpensive ring that fits on your index finger. As you’re feeding your baby, put the ring on the finger on the hand of the side where your baby finished last. Next feeding, switch it, and so forth. When that 3am feeding rolls around, putting baby on the correct breast will be a no-brainer.

Plus, who doesn’t like accessorizing with cute jewelry? ;-)

Monday, October 8, 2012

FHE Lesson in 10 Minutes or Less!

Don’t have time to prep an FHE (Family Home Evening) lesson? Sure you do! Here’s what to do:

1. Go to the Mormon Messages page on Find a short video with a great message. (hint: they’re all short videos with a great message!) I found this video highlighting a sweet story of compassion. You can stop here and just show the video to your family and talk about it or...

2. Go to Sugardoodle and use the alphabetical “My File Box” at the top of the page to look up more lesson helps that have to do with the topic you’ve selected- activities, entire lesson plans, object lessons, music, quotes, scriptures, games, and more! Grab some of those and you’re good to go.

Now go! Plan FHE! And you’re welcome. :-)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Snack Sorting Fun

My 3-year-old is in the “why” stage of her life- she is constantly curious, constantly learning, constantly talking and following me around. I have begun to notice that she gets the most annoying when she’s bored. This has prompted me to come up with new activities that will help her stay busy and learn.

Today’s activity was very simple and yet very effective: a sorting snack. Just take crackers, nuts, raisins, cereal- anything your child like to munch on- and put them together in a baggie, like trail mix. Then set out plates or other containers, one for each type of item in their mix, and invite them to sort away. Keeps them busy, staves off the hunger grumpies, and helps them practice motor skills and organizational skills. Simple, easy, fun!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

How to Cheer at a Little League Game

Batter swings & misses: "Great swing!"

Batter wood-chops a pitch that flew past his nose: "Way to want it!"

Batter watches, glassy-eyed, as the perfect pitch whizzes by: "Way to watch!"

Ball bounces off outfielder's glove and falls to the ground: "Nice stop!

Outfielders run around in a confused shuffle: "Good hustle!

(Because it’s all about having fun and building confidence!)

Monday, April 23, 2012

One, Two, Three, Tinkle! (A Little Potty Training Magic)

Anybody else working on potty training? My littlest is just about done- she has the occasional accident and still wears a pull-up or diaper for naps and bedtime, but she's mostly got it down.

If your toddler is like my toddler, she is go-go-go-go- until she sits on the potty. Then her feet are wiggling, her mouth is singing, her head is bobbing, she's chattering your ears off, but she's not going (if you know what I mean). It can be very frustrating sitting around in a bathroom waiting for your little one to do his or her business when they are so distracted (especially if you're in a gas station bathroom and there is a line of people waiting outside the door). 

Here's a little trick I learned: I tell my little girl that I have magic words that will help her go potty. I say this really quietly, so she has to be quiet and listen. My magic words, which I say very slowly and quietly, are, "One...two...three...tinkle!" I stretch out the words (ooooone, twooooooo, threeeee....) so that while she's quiet and listening to me she can get 'in the zone'. It usually helps her to concentrate on the task at hand and focus on what she's doing. Then I'll hear the sound I've been waiting for and she'll gasp and say excitedly, "I tink-oh!" 

On occasion, it doesn't work the first time. She'll say, "It no work, Mom!" When that happens, I just say, "Oh! It didn't work. That's okay. I think I just need to do it again." Then I just repeat the words, and it almost always works the second time, and if not then she usually just doesn't need to go.

This little trick has probably saved me hours hanging around in bathrooms! 

Do you have any tips or tricks when it comes to potty training? 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

DIY Cloud Dough

I know I promised that this blog wouldn't be all crafty (for that, see my other blog, The Beautiful Thrifty Life) but this was so simple and so fun that I knew I had to share it.
This morning I made "cloud dough". All you need is two ingredients: flour and baby oil. I used 4 cups of flour and 1/2 cup baby oil, and when I mixed it together it became the consistency of wet sand, only without the wet, and much softer!

I had seen the recipe for this floating around on Pinterest, so I picked up the baby oil at the Dollar Store this morning and when we came home we gave it a try. It was a rainy day, so it was the perfect indoor activity.

I put it into a cake pan, gave my little girl some cups and things and let her have a blast with it.

2 Warnings, however:
1. It's messy. It's not difficult to clean up, but it is definitely messy.
2. You will want to play with it too. See what I made after my little one went down for a nap?

So grab some flour and some baby oil and mix up your own irresistible fun!

Oooh...someday I would love to get a really big shallow container and do this recipe times 10 and let the kids play with it on the kitchen floor. It would probably keep them busy for hours...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tip of the Day: Applesauce "Smoothies"

Here's my tip of the day, which I can't take credit for because it was a friend's idea- Serve your kids applesauce in a small cup with a straw and call it an "apple smoothie"! I thought this was a great idea because my kids LOVE applesauce but they can make such a mess out of it- especially the 2-year-old! This keeps it off the table and her clothes and out of her hair, plus the kids think it's way more fun to eat it that way.

Do you have any unique ways of serving food? Leave me a comment- I'd love to hear about it!