Tips and tricks for making parenting FUN again!

Tips and tricks for making parenting FUN again!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

One Word

One of my favorite parenting books is called, “How To Talk So Your Kids Will Listen and Listen So Your Kids Will Talk” by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. One of my favorite, simple pieces of advice from that book has to do with nagging- we all do it. Some days I feel like a looped recording: “Pick up your shoes. Put your backpack away. Go wash your hands. Pick up your shoes. Set the table. PICK UP YOUR SHOES!” It can be just as annoying and exhausting for kids to hear it as it is for us to say it.

Faber and Mazlish suggest that after asking our child to do something once, rather than repeat ourselves until the task gets done, we can control our emotions and prevent our irritation from passing on to our children by simply using one word: “Mikey, shoes.” "Ella, backpack." "Candice, hands." "Kevin, table.”

Kids don’t usually need a lecture as much as they just need a reminder, and if you’re harried enough as it is, you don’t have time to give lectures. One word has the same impact, so keep the peace and keep it simple with just one word.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Roll It Clean!

Cleaning can be just as overwhelming for kids as it is for adults- even more so! Which is why I am always trying to think up ways to make it more fun and less painful. 

Today our game is called Roll It Clean! This is a great game to play with young children, as it is simple, gets them involved and helps them with their counting skills. Here’s what you need:

1. A messy room (the messier the better!)
2. A die with numbers 1-6 (we used an oversized foam die like the ones pictured above, but any die or game spinner with numbers will do)
3. Small candy, like Skittles, M&Ms, marshmallows, etc.
4. Paper & pencil


Take your paper and make columns for each player- this is where you’ll keep score. 

To Play:

The first player rolls the die. The player must pick up and put away the same number of things as the number they roll- ex: roll a 5, put away 5 things. IF they roll a 1, however, they get a piece of candy and do not need to put anything away.

After the player puts away the number of things (or eats their candy) add the number to their score (hint- this is a great opportunity to practice tally marks with younger kids or basic addition with older kids). 

Keep playing until the room is clean (with breaks, if necessary). Whoever has the highest score in the end WINS! You may want to offer a prize such as a whole bag of the candy, or something else, such as their choice of movie, or an extra book from the library. It makes the game more interesting because the kids want a piece of candy- but they also want to roll a higher number to get a better score. And the best part? Everyone wins because the room gets CLEAN!

I have been playing this with my just-turned-4-year-old this morning and she is doing AWESOME, which is a big deal because it’s usually like a tooth extraction trying to get her to clean anything. We’re about halfway through her and her sisters’ messy, messy room and she can’t wait to keep rolling and cleaning!


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Valentines Hunt

Valentines should be more about love and fun than about commercialism and presents (haven’t we already wrecked Christmas and Easter with those??) so this year we’re going to be doing a Valentines Hunt with love notes for our kids.

It’s kind of like an easter egg hunt, but instead of hiding easter eggs we will hide love notes. We’ll choose a single color for each child, and they can search for notes that are that color, and when they find them they can put them in their basket. Each note will tell something that we love about them- maybe we’ll even let the kids write some things they love about each other!

The love notes along with some Love Coupons, a sweet treat or two and a special dinner will make our Valentines Day just right. :-)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Jelly Belly Solution

Me, about 6 weeks after giving birth wearing a top that cleverly disguises my post-4th-baby belly. Notice how the fitted skirt gives the illusion of slimness? 

So, you’ve just given birth and the thought of putting on one of the same tired maternity tops you’ve been rotating through over the last 6 months is enough to make you cringe. But that lovely jelly belly you’re sporting isn’t quite ready to squeeze into your pre-baby clothes just yet. What to do?

With every baby I’ve had, I take some time during my last agonizingly long month of pregnancy to do a little shopping (usually online as waddling about in stores where I look whale-like next to every article of clothing isn’t exactly my idea of a roaring good time). I treat myself to a cute, loose-fitting top that will make me feel pretty and, at the same time, hide all my jelly-like parts. If I pair it with a pair of jeans that fits through my hips and upper thighs, then I can give the illusion that no belly exists.

Every mommy needs something that will make her feel beautiful and confident- after all, you have to get out there and show off that adorable baby, right?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Conquering the “Clingies"

It’s that moment we all dread- we go to drop off our little one at preschool/babysitter’s/church nursery/Sunday School and suddenly they become a leech attached to our lower extremities. There are all kinds of methods to “conquer the clingies”, but here are some things I’ve found to be successful.

1. Prepare. Talk with your child about it beforehand and discuss how the drop off will go. The more specific and positive you can be about it, the better.

2. Help them settle in. Get them engaged in a fun activity, like building with blocks, coloring, or playing with toys. This helps distract them from the fact that you’re leaving.

3. Don’t sneak away! Give your child a hug and a kiss, let them know you’re leaving but you’ll be back soon.

4. Have special “goodbye traditions” or rituals that you do with your child when it’s time for you to be apart, like a Secret Kiss, a secret handshake, or a special saying, like, “See you later, alligator!” These positive things make the transition easier. I always ask my 3-year-old to save up her “biggest hug” for me for when she leaves for her nursery class.

5. If the transition is consistently tearful, try this: do all of the above, and if they are still crying after you leave, just go outside for a minute or two, then come back in cheerfully and say, “See? I said I’d be right back. How is that block tower coming?” Then sit with them and play for a minute, but if possible, don’t allow them to sit on your lap or cling to you. Once they are calm, then do #3 & #4 again, and then step outside for another few minutes- make it a little longer this time- and then come back, again cheerfully greeting them and sitting back down to play. This reinforces the idea to the child that when you leave, you will come back, and it helps them to know that the leaving and coming back are happy, easy things. After a few days of this, they are usually ready to be on their own.

Above all, remember that all kids are different, and what works for other children might not work for yours. You know your child better than anyone else, and so how you leave them in the care of others should ultimately be your decision.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Whisper Whisper

Often when we’re trying to get small children to be quiet, we might say, “SHH!” or “Be quiet!” These can be confusing for a little one.

I have found that the best way to communicate with my children that they need to be quiet is to simply whisper, “Whisper.” If we’re in church and they say, “Mom, I want to color!” I will simply respond in a whisper, “Whisper.” If they ask again, I will repeat myself until they are whispering. Once they whisper, then I respond to their question or request in a whispering voice. They quickly learn that their communication is useless unless it’s in a whisper.

If you’re not sure if your child understands physically how to whisper, here is a trick to show them the difference between talking and whispering: have them place their fingers on their throat near their voice box. When they speak normally, they will be able to feel the vibration in their fingertips. When they are whispering, however, they will be able to feel nothing.

Children should be seen AND heard- just quietly. :-)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Candy Clean-up

Image from Wikipedia

Cleaning up is definitely a chore that could use some fun, right? One of my favorite ways to ease the burden of the room cleaning drudgery is with a Candy Clean-up. Just grab some of your favorite little treats- think Skittles, M&Ms, mini marshmallows, gummy bears, or chocolate chips- and put them into a bowl. Tell your kids that for every 10 items they pick up and put away, they can get a piece of candy. They’ll stay motivated and happy as they clean!

This is a good method if you’ve got a big mess on your hands. But don’t use it too often or they might try to make a big mess to clean up on purpose!

Oh, and yes, Mom gets a piece of candy for every 10 items her kids pick up too...

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Making Studying More FUN

My son with the entire contents of his take-home folder one day- all 100 A’s! :-)
I am a total goofball (hence the name of this blog) and so I love to joke around with my kids when helping them study for tests. It makes it more fun for both of us, and I think that it also makes the information more memorable.

Recently, for example, my son had a science test he was studying for. I used his notes to quiz him, asking things like, “Okay, so the food chain- that’s what you put around your food so no one steals it, right?” “An herbivore eats herbs, a carnivore eats carnivals, and an omnivore says OMI NOMI NOMI NOM when it eats. Yes?” My son would giggle and shake his head as he said, “NO, Mom!!” Then he would explain the right answer to me.

I do similar things when quizzing him for spelling tests- I make sure that the sentences I use to give him the words are a little bit silly. In the past, I’ve even helped him learn his words by making up silly stories that use all of his spelling words, then printing them up with the words in bold. That way he can read them multiple times and get used to seeing them spelled correctly.

Remember, a little laughter goes a long way, and it can turn a chore into a cherished memory!