Saturday, March 31, 2012

5 Easy Games Using a $.50 Foil Pan

Things to Do with Little Kids Using a Foil Tin


I'm in charge of paying the bills at our house.  I usually do a decent job, but the other day I realized I had about ten bills piled up.  Oops.  This meant that I really needed something to keep the kids busy for fifteen minutes so I pulled out my trusty foil tins, which I bought at the Dollar Store one Saturday morning.  The "Dollar" store is slightly misleading since everything is usually $2 or $3, but this time something really was $1 so they've been a great investment.  We just rinse them out and keep using them again and again.  So, in case you are looking for cheap and easy projects to keep the kids busy, here is a list of 5 ways to use a $.50 foil tin.

Colored Rice
Just get some colored rice from Hobby Lobby and keep in a baggie.  When you need 20 minutes of free time, pour the rice into the foil tin and give the kids cups, a funnel, spoons, anything you think might be fun.  Kids really love to pour things back and forth and back and forth and it's excellent for fine motor skills.  Tell them at the beginning that all rice needs to stay INSIDE the pan.  You might be amazed at how well they listen when faced with the prospect of putting it all away if they aren't careful.  Even kids as young as twenty months can do this activity.

fine motor practice for preschoolers,

 Sensory Letters:
I used glue to write names on construction paper and then the kids used leftover cupcake sprinkles to make the names come to life.  When the names were covered, they took them out of the foil tins and voila!


preschoolers, letters, glitter, art, cheap craft
Baking Soda, Vinegar, and Paint Project
For this, I let the kids squeeze a bunch of paint to the bottom of the pan, then sprinkle some baking soda.  Lastly, I gave them bottles with vinegar and they were fascinated by the bubbly explosions inside the tin foil pan.  Plus, squeezing the bottles are great for developing the muscles they will later need for writing.



Paint
You can keep it really simple by just using paint or even shaving cream.  Give them something interesting to use to push the paint around the tin, such as a basting brush, an old toothbrush, or even just use a regular paintbrush.  If you're feeling really adventurous, you could let them use their hands and turn it into a sensory activity.   




Water
Kids love water.  If you don't want to mess with paint, just put water in the tin and give them cups, a squirt bottle, a funnel, whatever you have handy.  Give them towels and tell them if they make a mess you'll have to put it away.  You'll be amazed at how well they can keep themselves busy with water.  It's very interesting to kids and teaches them a lot about gravity and cause and effect (Example: You spray water at me, I take away the water:-))  Kids as young as twenty months can do this and again, it's great for developing fine motor skill and coordination.

how to improve fine motor skills for toddlers, play with water




If you enjoyed this post, you will love my book!  It was released in July, 2012 and was co-written by Katie Norris and Susan Case.  The book includes lots more ideas, similar to this and even expands on how they can help your child learn and even be ready for school someday.  In this unique book, which was written by both a Mom and a former Kindergarten Teacher, you will find ways to keep your little kids busy, out of trouble, and motivated to learn.  If you have ever tried to cook dinner while your kid clings to your leg and cries, this is the book for you!  Kids behave better when they are given challenging projects to work on, which will in turn give you more free time to do the things you really need to do, like washing dishes, paying bills, and relaxing so that you can be a better Mom!



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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

French Women Don't Have Mommy Guilt

Mommy Guilt: Why Americans Have it and the French Don't





Mommy Guilt is terrible.  Before I had kids, a friend told me that Moms never stop feeling guilty.  I remember thinking she was crazy.  "What on earth will I have to feel guilty about?" I thought.  "That's absurd!"

Then came the day when I had to hand my 12 week old baby over to the nanny.  My boobs were spurting breast milk and my little girl seemed so helpless.  Of course the raging hormones don't help anything, but I remember feeling so overwhelmed with guilt that I almost couldn't function.  Then when I was working I couldn't concentrate and then I felt guilty for being such a bad employee.  Then when I came home and the nanny told me she cried all day, I felt guilty for leaving the nanny to have such an unpleasant day.

Now, three and half years later, the guilt still never ends but it almost amuses me.  When I'm alone in the shower and I feel a pang of guilt for being away from the kids, I smile.  After all, why should I feel guilty for my 15 minutes alone?  Yet I do.  When I put them to bed at night, I have to admit that I'm thrilled to finally be able to sit down and relax.  And then I feel guilty for being so happy to be rid of them.  What kind of Mom am I anyway?  The good news is that as far as I can tell, every Mom out there feels guilty almost every second of every day for one reason or another.

Imagine my surprise when I recently discovered that French women don't feel guilty.  How is that possible?  Are they heartless?  I picked up a book called, Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman.  Ms. Druckerman is an American but she moved to France to raise a family with her British husband.  I was really floored when I read this book.  She introduced all kinds of concepts to me that are hard to grasp, like school trips for a week at a time for four year olds, kids who don't snack, and babies who sleep through the night at two weeks old. The most revolutionary idea to me though, was this idea that French women don't feel the guilt that we Americans do.  Surely Ms. Druckerman has misunderstood, right?  Isn't being guilty just part of Mom DNA?

Of American Moms, she says:

"For American mothers, guilt is an emotional tax we pay for going to work, not buying organic vegetables, or plopping our kids in front of the television so we can surf the Internet or make dinner.  If we feel guilty, then it's easier to do these things.  We're not just selfish.  We've "paid" for our lapses."

Now, I have to admit that is a very true statement.  I've never thought about it like this before, but I think she's right.  Yet this is what she says about French  mothers:

"French mothers absolutely recognize the temptation to feel guilty.  They feel as overstretched and inadequate as we Americans do.  After all, they're working while bringing up small children.  And like us, they often aren't living up to their own standards as either workers or parents.


The difference is that French mothers don't valorize this guilt.  To the contrary, they consider it unhealthy and unpleasant and they try to banish it.....What really fortifies Frenchwomen against guilt is their conviction that it's unhealthy for mothers and children to spend all their time together...The French also talk about l'equilibre....it's about not letting any one part of life - including parenting - overwhelm the rest."

I have really embraced this concept because anything that promotes less guilt and more fun in life is something I can get behind!  Now that I think about it, I do think guilt is unhealthy.  It makes me unhappy to feel guilty and then I also feel defensive.  Sometimes when people (i.e. Hubby) make innocent comments, I get offended and pick fights, just because I already feel inadequate.

Of course, there is a lot to be said for being a devoted Mom and I applaud anyone who wants to spend every second with their child.  However, I have found that for me, guilt really can be damaging and I'm determined to try to find a way to live without it.  With this in mind, I have resurrected a quote that I lived by in high school.  My wonderful Mom printed it out for me and made me hang it on my bathroom mirror so I would see it every morning before I left for school:

"No one can make you feel inferior without your permission" ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

If you are interested in reading Bringing Up Bebe, I do recommend it.  Aside from the Mommy Guilt issue, she introduces a lot of concepts that are truly helpful and interesting.  Here is the link to Amazon:

                                                                 



And don't forget to check out my new book!  It will seriously help you save your sanity.  If you have ever tried to cook dinner while your kid clings to your leg and cries, this is the book for you!  It was released in July, 2012 and was co-written by me and Susan Case, a Kindergarten Teacher.  We worked together to give a Mom's point of view and a teacher's point of view, so that we could give you activities that not only keep the kids busy, but also keep them motivated to learn and develop their natural curiosity.  Kids behave better when they are given challenging projects to work on, which will in turn give you more free time to do the things you really need to do, like washing dishes, paying bills, and relaxing so that you can be a better Mom!






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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Boost Self-Esteem by Displaying Artwork

Boost your Kids' Self-Esteem by Displaying Artwork
art, display projects from toddler, preschooler,
 

 I love seeing my daughter's face when she finishes a project that she's worked hard on.  Even Little Buddy at 22 months is so proud of his stuff.  One time he did some finger painting and when Daddy got home, he was so excited.  The second Daddy walked through the door, he grabbed his finger and pulled him over to the window.  We couldn't quite figure out what he was saying, but finally realized it was, "Oook ut I did" translated to, "Look What I Did!"  He took so much pride in his work and wanted Daddy to see it.

It's important for kids to take pride in their artwork.  I am working on a book with Susan Case, author, blogger, and former Kindergarten teacher, and one of the subjects that came up during our writing process was the concept of self-esteem and ways to improve your child's concept of self-worth:

"A self-esteem booster is to proudly display your child’s art or give it as a gift to grandparents who appreciate the thought - perhaps more than the product. But they will never tell your child that. They know it is precious to your little one. Be careful not to stress over your child’s product being perfect or looking exactly as you had envisioned. They are unique individuals who see things differently than you due to a lack of experience. Allowing children to be creative contributes to novel thoughts, problem-solving skills and entrepreneurs. The highest achievers in societies were encouraged, or at least allowed, to think outside the box. If they weren’t, they stole the time to do it anyway, becoming great artists, writers and scientists.  The next time you have the impulse to correct their art, think of Mark Zackerberg (Facebook), Bill Gates (Microsoft), Steve Jobs (Apple Computers), and Jeff Bezos (Amazon.com) or Stephen Spielberg (movie producer)."

That's all well and good, but we can't really have five thousands crafts strewn all about our house.  So, here are some ways we have found to display our work:
1.  Create a way to keep the art forever.  Take your child to the store with you and let them pick out a small photo album.  Take pictures of every single thing your child creates and then print the pics and put them in the album.  This way they can show people everything they've done is also great on a rainy day.  Let them scroll through and pick a project.  Another way to do this is to print the pictures and allow your little one to glue them to some construction paper.  Then use a hole-punch and a three ring binder to keep everything together.

2.  Display the artwork in the living area.  We bought a wall display thing from Pier One and hung it by the table where we usually do our work.  After we're finished, we hang everything here.  We eventually have to weed things out, but there is always a great display of artwork at any time.
3.  Find creative ways to display the art in their domain.  You could use a piece of string and hang it across the room.  Make sure to do this high enough so children can't reach it.  Then use clothes pins and pin everything to the string. Or you could help your child make an "art box" that they can keep in their room.  Help them decorate it with stickers, markers, feathers, whatever they want.  Then help them print their name on the box.  If they can't get a good angle on the box, help them print it on a blank name label and then stick that to the front of the box.  That way, they know it is their art and they can choose their best items for it.





I can't tell you how much fun it's been ever since I started making artwork special instead of secretly and strategically throwing it away while they napped.  That was just plain mean!


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Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Solution to the Afternoon Nap Boycott

A Solution to Your Child's Nap Boycott
solution to nap boycot for preschoolers, toddlers, clock, mommy needs a nap



Oh the afternoon nap.  The blissful time when the kids go to bed and I can eat my lunch quietly while watching my guilty TV for 10 peaceful minutes (Bachelor, Real Housewives, etc.  Yes, I need help, these shows are eating my brain).   Then, after my 10 minutes of downtime, I get to work, and spend the next hour and a half frantically cleaning, doing emails, calling customers, etc.  Unfortunately, Munchkin Girl has decided that sleeping is for losers (my words, not hers).

Several months ago she started only taking naps three or four times a week.  Now it's down to 0 or 1. The problem is that not only do I really need that time, she also needs to have some quiet time or she's crabby later!  It's no fun to have Daddy come home from work and have her whining all night.  Plus, the more she cries, the more Little Buddy gets fussy too.  So, I have vowed that she WILL go to her room for an hour.  However, she doesn't seem to like this plan.  For several weeks now we (the nanny and I, depending on the day) have fought her during "naptime".  I tell her she MUST be quiet.  We have a sticker program too and she does like to earn those stickers, but after awhile, she can't help herself, "Mommy!!!!  I want to be awaaaaaaaaake!!!!"



Sometimes she even wakes up Little Buddy too so I really had to do something.  My friend told me about a clock you can get that lights up blue when they are supposed to be sleeping and then yellow when it's time to wake up.  There are lots of choices out there, but I did some research and found THE BEST PRODUCT EVER!!!  You can configure it for however long you want.  I did it for 1.5 hours.  After some coaching on what we expected, she is now quiet (or moderately quiet.  Sometimes she sings at the top of her lungs, but I figure that is playing by herself, right??) until the clock turns yellow.  It's SOOO wonderful to know that I have a full 1.5 hour block in the afternoon even if she doesn't nap.  You can set it to light up blue during night too.  I chose 7:30pm-7:30am.  Then at 7:30am, it changes to yellow.  That's really great too because she used to wake up around 6:00, right while I was in the shower.  Now she plays until 7:30 and as soon as it turns yellow, "Mommy, it's yellow, good moooorning!!!

I actually bought this product myself almost six months ago and liked it so much that I wrote away to them and asked if I could give one away to one of my readers and they said yes!!  So, if you want your own Tot Clock, just use the form below to enter.  Rules are below.  Good luck!!




a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 19, 2012

Learning Letters With Puff Paint: Teach Kids to Read With Fun Activities

Learn Letters Using Home-made Puff Paint



As usual, I tend to stress and Hubby tends to tell me to simmer down.  Lately, I have noticed a strange tendency in my daughter when she writes letters and numbers...they are backwards.  I write a 3, she writes an E. The problem is, that she doesn't seem to know the difference.  Of course, my mind immediately goes to....What's wrong with her? Is this normal?

Hubby (who is a doctor, but an orthopedic surgeon so what does he know?) told me to ask my very smart friend and co-author, Susan Case, about it.  Susan is a former Kindergarten teacher and author and we are currently writing a book about activities and crafts to do with preschoolers.  She responded with:

It is normal for children to print letters in strange ways including backwards, upside down, and sideways when they are learning to print. Fine motor control comes after much practice and time to strengthen the finger and hand muscles and to develop a proper grip. Children begin experimenting writing letters with encouragement and praise. Their first and favorite word to learn to print is their first name. Help children learn to print their first name with only the first letter in upper case (this will make their teachers happy). Teach them to start at the top and go down with letters. For more information on teaching children to print their first name, you might enjoy this post.

Please do not stress yourself out, or your child, if they are not printing or learning letters correcting or reading before they enter Kindergarten. Jean Piaget, respected theorists on the stages of child development, believed:

1.     Not all children are ready to read at the same age and in the same manner,
2.    Not all children are ready to read before first grade,
3.    Not all children learn in the same manner, and
4.    Reading is a great deal more than decoding printed symbols on a page and mouthing words.

The most important role a parent can do for their child is to love them, fostering their self-esteem, and encouraging their natural love of learning. A parent’s responsibility is to provide opportunities for growth, respecting children as individuals capable of learning at their own pace, in their own time, and in their own way. Of course, it's always possible that your daughter might have a learning disability, but she is too young to worry about that now in regard to letter formation. Her kindergarten teacher will spend much time on the proper formation of letters. Children will be tested in school if a parent or teacher has concerns. Instead, I would just encourage you to gently introduce some simple ways to help your child learn fine motor control and reading skills.

I was very relieved to learn that this sort of thing was normal.  I told Susan I was game to try anything and she gave me a simple idea to try the next time I needed a rainy day activity.  I used my squeeze bottle paint recipe, which we like to do often.  It is simply 2/3 cup flour, 2/3 cup water, and 2/3 cup salt.  You can get your child to help you mix them together and then you fill up squeeze bottles with the mixture.

home-made puff paint, recipe,


Then add some dabs of paint to the top of each one and volia!  You have very fancy pens to practice writing!  I wrote various names lightly in pencil first and then she used the squeeze bottle to write them out.  She really had a lot of patience for this project and enjoyed doing her name and her friends' names. 

practice with letter, preschooler writing name

Even Little Buddy (almost 2) enjoyed himself.  He couldn't do the names of course, but he worked on his muscles while he squeezed out the paint and benefited from this sensory learning.


We are making progress and having fun while we do it.  Of course I want smarter kids, but really I just want cheap and easy crafts and this was it!  Thanks to Susan for the ideas!

If you liked this post, you will LOVE my new book (which is currently ranked#4 on Amazon in the category of Motherhood!).   If you have ever asked yourself questions like, these, then this is the book for you!
  • Why do my kids drive me so crazy sometimes?
  • Why do they just want to watch TV all day long?
  • How am I ever supposed to get anything done when my kids won't stop pestering me?
In this book, I teamed up with former Kindergarten teacher, Susan Case, and we worked together to give a Mom's point of view and a teacher's point of view, so that we could give you activities that not only keep the kids busy, but also keep them motivated to learn and develop their natural curiosity. 

This video might help you understand a little more:



Here is what one of the reviews says on Amazon:

"This book seriously saved my sanity. I've read a bunch of parenting books but this is literally the only one that actually gave me real and specific advice and ideas for things to do with my daughter. I'm a stay-at-home mom to a 2-year old and I was at my wits end trying to come up with ideas of fun, easy, creative things to do with her that will keep her busy and occupied and help her learn. I wasn't very good at following through on ideas that I heard about from friends or read in other books or online because they seemed too complicated (aka: messy!) but this book broke it down and made it so simple. I highly recommend it!"



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Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Joys of the Family Dog

The Joys (and Frustrations) of the Family Dog
I am finally feeling ready to post about my beloved Guinness.  Guinness was our first baby...well, okay he was really a dog.  But he was the sweetest dog you will ever meet.  That being said, after we had Munchkin Girl, I was about to kill him.

Let me back up a bit.  Our story goes something like this.  Boy meets girl.  Boy and girl move into small apartment that doesn't allow dogs.  Boy and Girl get dog anyway and he becomes the most treasured creature ever to walk the earth.  Boy and Girl decide they love animals so much they move into a house and then get Cat #1, Cat #2, and Dog #2.  Fast forward a few years to Baby #1.  All this adds up to...one VERY full house.

After Baby #1 was born, everything went downhill.  My beloved dogs became my arch enemy.  Here is why:

1.  They barked and constantly woke up Munchkin Girl after it took me an hour to put her to sleep
2.  They constantly knocked her down (on accident when she was learning to crawl and walk)
3.  They were always getting up on the counter to eat food
4.  They snored.  This wasn't a problem until night time, at which point they would keep me awake and I resorted to throwing shoes at them.
5.  Just as I was sitting down to have 10 minutes of time when no one was touching me or needing me, the dogs would come and pester me to pet them, feed them, take them for a walk, etc.  I found that I suddenly only had so much love to give.

There was a period of time that I swear I would have paid a nice stranger to "kidnap" them.  But then...fast forward a few years and suddenly Munchkin Girl is three and Little Buddy is 18 months...and...things are fun again.  The kids and dogs play together peacefully.  Everyone is sleeping well so they don't wake anyone up.

Then, one day Guinness couldn't walk anymore.  He started falling down constantly....we tried lots of different things, but he was just old and had bad legs to begin with...I won't get into details...we had to put him down.  I never thought I could cry so much.  I was suddenly heartbroken to lose my first baby.  Even as I'm typing this, I am finding tears in my eyes.  He was the sweetest boy I ever knew and I will miss him forever.

This brings me to my point...as I said, there was a time that I couldn't believe that I had to live with dogs for years.  Life would be so much easier without dogs.  But now that time has passed and life is normal again, I realize how much dogs bring to our lives.  Now we just have one dog left, and I vow to treasure her.  Well, maybe not treasure every moment of every day, but at least I vow not to plan a kidnapping of any sort.  And I can now truly appreciate her.  Dogs really can keep kids busy and I have read that they can even improve self-esteem.  I'm not sure about that, but I'm sure that they do love her.  She lets the kids MANHANDLE her.  Here is how a dog helps a family:




Dogs give someone for the kids to pester and "Mother".  Here is Lola. obediently staying in her "bed".  She was told it was time to sleep and was strictly told not to get out of her room.  The covers were then tucked under her chin and she was even given a Teddy Bear to keep her company.  This Teddy Bear's name is now "Lola's Bear".




toddler spending time with dog, reading books



Dogs give kids someone to talk to.  When Munchkin Girl has friends over and Little Buddy gets lonely, he always has Lola.  Plus, she encourages reading skills!  See how she patiently listens as he "reads" his favorite book.










Dogs provide hours of entertainment.  Lola has worn sunglasses, hats, scarves, dresses, you name, she's worn it!  They both spend hours getting her decked out and then giggle at the final result.






joys of the family dog, dressing up the family dog, golden retrievers and kids




That's the Tinkerbell skirt from Halloween...now on Lola's head






dog dressed up, dog wearing a hat




That's a beret...along with Tinkerbell wings being precariously perched on her back.












And those are snow boots...







Lastly, can you imagine the skill it took to get this book to balance on her head!  It took at least 15 minutes of concentration and teamwork to make this happen!






PS...Lola also does a great job of picking up any food that drops to the floor.  I adore not having to get out the broom every time we have a Goldfish explosion!


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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

How to Get Busier and Smarter Kids Through Fun Science Project

Science Project for Preschoolers Using Vinegar and Baking Soda
I often wonder how long it will be before my kids have more Facebook friends than I do.  Granted, they aren't even in Kindergarten yet, so I have time, but it'll be here before I know it, especially for Little Buddy.  He is the most social toddler I've ever seen.  The first day of Mother's Day Out there were no tears.  In fact, he barely gave me a backward glance and every week he runs to his teachers and flings himself into their arms.  Unfortunately, he literally gets sick every time I send him and I can't lie to myself anymore.  It's not a coincidence.  After much deliberation, I've decided to pull him out of school.  It just wasn't worth all of us being sick all the time just for three hours of "education".  He isn't even two yet so he'll have time later for school and hopefully by then he'll have a better immune system.  I do feel bad about it because he loved it so much.  To compensate for my guilt, (Mommy guilt never ends, does it?) I'm going to also make an effort to do some fun stuff and sensory learning with the kids and make sure to include him.  

This week I decided to tackle a rainy day activity I had been wanting to do for a long time: Vinegar and Baking soda, but with a twist. I decided to add paint to this extravaganza.  I pulled out the foil pans I bought from the Dollar Store (a GREAT investment) and we started off with a little bit of paint on the bottom of the tin:


They stirred around the paint for awhile and after they got bored of this, we introduced...the baking soda!!  I decided to use our squirt bottles for this...my kids just love them AND they are really good for muscle development. I invested in a few cheap ones from Walmart several months ago and we use them ALL the time. The kids sprinkled some baking soda on the bottom of the tin, then I filled up the squirt bottles with vinegar and I explained what would happen.  I'm not really great at science, so the explanation was pretty rudimentary, but they got the idea very quickly.



See that fizzle?  Frankly, the tin didn't look all that pretty after a few minutes, but they kept squiring and stirring and squirting for almost 45 minutes! I think it's kind of hard to find ways to work on fine motor skills for toddlers, because they are a little limited on what they can do, but squirt bottles are pretty easy and very enjoyable for Little Buddy!


The kids were responsible for cleaning up their own messes so they each had a dish towel next to them.  Anytime they got wild and got vinegar on the table, they had to stop and clean it up, so it really wasn't a messy project at all.  Everything stayed well contained in the foil tin.  This wasn't necessarily the easiest craft we've ever done, but it was a cheap craft and it really wasn't that messy.    When they were done I just rinsed out the tins to use them again! Pin It

Sunday, March 11, 2012

New Research: The Nicer the Mom, the Smarter the Kid

New Research: The Nicer the Mom, the Smarter the Kids?
how to be more patient, patient moms means smarter kids, research


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Human nature is wanting what you can't have. My kids seem to think that I need lessons in how this works because no matter what they are currently playing with, they have a few items that are always in demand and they will instantly fight over any of the following:
1. The Mickey Mouse ball
2. The stuffed cow (from the dollar store)
3. The large Tonka Truck (from a garage sale)


Things can quickly escalate and in no time they are screaming at each other and crying. If I ignore the situation, it quickly turns into this:
siblings fighting over toys, how moms can be more patient
It really amazes me how they can be oblivious to the smoke that I am sure begins to steam out of my ears as they fight over that stupid stuffed cow.  I would love to go get another one, just so they each have one, but of course they don't sell them anymore.  Plus, I am trying not to get into the habit of buying them stuff just to make them happy.  It's amazing how quickly I can feel my blood begin to boil when the kids start fighting, but something I read recently has made me really attempt to control my anger.  Did you know that a new research study has been released that shows that Moms who get testy with their kids may actually permanently decrease their child's intelligence?

The researchers of this study, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, studied two groups of children and their mothers. They were put into a frustrating situation. The mothers and children were left a small room that had a shiny package on the table.  They were told they could open the package, but only after the mother filled out all the forms.  The Mothers had no idea they were being watched. Based on the behavior of the mothers, everyone was categorized everyone into two groups. This was observed: Half of the mothers either ignored their child or harshly scolded them. The other half were more nurturing and explained patiently to the children why they couldn’t open the package yet.  The researchers used this event as a starting point and went on to study numerous other factors over several years, such as medication use, traumatic life events, and maternal history of depressions. 

They waited several years and brought everyone back in for MRI scans.  The study showed that children with nurturing mothers had a larger hippocampus (area of the brain that controls short-term and long-term memory) by almost ten percent than the children whose mothers tended to scold in a harsh manner. In order to make sure their assumptions were correct on how they categorized everyone, they added the external variables (such as medications etc) as co-variates.  


Of course, every study has its flaws, but if you look closely at the findings and the science behind this study, you will find that the evidence is pretty solid.  If you want to read more about the actual study, feel free to click here.

"It is to our knowledge the first study that links early maternal nurturance to the structural development of a key brain region," said study author Dr. Joan Luby, a professor of psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. "It provides very powerful evidence of the importance of early nurturing for healthy brain development and has tremendous public health implications."

Now, don't panic.  Researchers of this study stress that occasionally losing your temper won’t cause the hippocampus to suddenly shrink and simply being patient can't guarantee smart kids, but it is clear that long-term impatience can have lasting effects.  Ever since I read this study, I find it easier to take a deep breath, because I now have true motivation to quit snapping at my kids.  


So, if your kids get under your skin and you feel the need to snap at them, DON'T!  Instead, listen to this advice from child expert, author and former Kindergarten teacher, Susan Case.  Susan's blog, Kindergarten Basics, has other tips on discipline, crafting, and preparing kids for Kindergarten:

1.  Try a little self talk: “I am the adult. I am a role model. I teach respect.  I love my kids and they love me.”
2.  Put the incident into perspective. Take a few deep breaths and ask yourself these questions: 
       -What difference will this make a year from now 
       -Can I let it go or let the child have his way? 
       -How is this making my child feel? How will I feel about this tomorrow?
3.  Take some time to pamper yourself so you don't have such a short fuse.  Go for walks, ask someone to babysit, indulge in your favorite reality TV show or take a bubble bath...whatever you enjoy, do it and don't feel guilty about it! 

If you liked this post, you will LOVE my new book (which is currently ranked#4 on Amazon in the category of Motherhood!).   If you have ever asked yourself questions like, these, then this is the book for you!
  • Why do my kids drive me so crazy sometimes?
  • Why do they just want to watch TV all day long?
  • How am I ever supposed to get anything done when my kids won't stop pestering me?
In this book, I teamed up with former Kindergarten teacher, Susan Case, and we worked together to give a Mom's point of view and a teacher's point of view, so that we could give you activities that not only keep the kids busy, but also keep them motivated to learn and develop their natural curiosity.  Here is what one of the reviews says on Amazon:

"This book seriously saved my sanity. I've read a bunch of parenting books but this is literally the only one that actually gave me real and specific advice and ideas for things to do with my daughter. I'm a stay-at-home mom to a 2-year old and I was at my wits end trying to come up with ideas of fun, easy, creative things to do with her that will keep her busy and occupied and help her learn. I wasn't very good at following through on ideas that I heard about from friends or read in other books or online because they seemed too complicated (aka: messy!) but this book broke it down and made it so simple. I highly recommend it!"
Did you enjoy my post?  I could really use your vote!!  Just click here and you're done!!  Pretty please?!?!?

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Friday, March 9, 2012

Mommy Look! I Found Some Dog Poop for You!!

Mommy Look! I Found Some Dog Poop During Our Nature Walk!
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I don't know what it is about this winter, but I've been sick all the time. The other day it was pretty nice out and I really wanted to take the kids on an adventure walk.  I started to get their coats on but then I coughed and hacked away for about five minutes and decided that walking in the wind probably wasn't the best idea for me.

We'd been for a  nature walk the other day and the kids even made some neat nature gifts with salt dough.  We had so much fun that I decided to re-create it in our backyard.  We started looking at the trees and the birds.  I gave them each a little baggie and told them to gather up their FAVORITE thing from the outdoors.  If you are looking for a way to keep kids busy, I highly recommend this activity.  Of course Little Buddy went for the sticks and Munchkin Girl tried to find all the flowers. 
little guy collecting stuff from outide to keep him busy
They did this for at least 30 minutes.  I was really patting myself on the back at this point.  The birds were chirping, I was sitting on the patio sipping some tea for my poor sore throat and the kids were happily gathering items from the backyard and chatting.  I even heard Munchkin say, "Here Little Buddy, I found a good stick for you."

Then they brought their bags over for me to inspect.  They were both so proud.  I was telling them what a good job they'd done and then I gasped.  Little Buddy dumped his baggie out for me.  Take a close look...does that all look like sticks to you?  I thought so too...until I looked closer.  Yep, there are several great pieces of dog poop mixed in with those sticks.  Little Buddy had been out in the yard industriously picking up dog poop along with his sticks.  And that's why I guess I won't win Mother of the Year!


stuff to do with little kids including gathering sticks

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Keep Little Kids Busy While You Shower

How to Keep Little Kids Busy While You Shower
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Showers: We all need them, but isn't it funny that no one tells you that after you have kids you will likely never get to shower alone again unless it's at 5:30am or 8:00 pm.  I usually try to shower in the morning, before the little kids wake up, but a few weeks ago I slept in and was forced to attempt the scary scenario of "watching" the kids from the shower.  On this particular day, they tricked me.  They acted like they were going to behave and play quietly, but as soon as my feet hit the tile, they both hopped into the bath tub and started trying to get the water turned on.  I jumped out, sopping wet, and pulled them both out of the tub.  Then, as soon as I got back in the shower, they found my special jewelry stash and started pulling everything out.  A few minutes later, Munchkin Girl said, "Mommy, I have to go poo poo..."  Since she still can't wipe herself, I had to hop out once again, sopping wet and help her take care of her business.

Since then, I've been brainstorming ways to keep kids busy while I'm in the shower.  The goal is to have something with minimal set-up and clean-up.  And to be honest, I really want something I can just buy and be confident that it's safe for young kids.  I love to create art projects but I need to be sure that if I give them something while I'm in the shower it isn't going to disintegrate.  I am happy to report that I have found a few things that allow me the time to actually use conditioner and even apply my make-up!



1.  Making necklaces.  You can buy these kits at Target or Amazon and they allow your kids to make a very easy craft and it's clean too.  Basically they are little beads that they push together to make necklaces.  They are actually really great for fine motor skill and even patterning because they are different colors and you have to push pretty ha
rd to get them strung together.  Probably best for kids ages 3.5 and up.  You can just put them in a big bowl and after you show them how to do it, it can keep them busy for quite awhile.



2.   Water Wow Coloring Books: I haven't been able to find these little miracles at any local store and I have no idea why.  They are the best coloring book EVER.  It comes with a special "pen" and you actually put water inside it, and when the page gets wet, it changes from white to a colorful pattern of My Little Ponies!  My daughter was amazed the first time she saw this.  You can find these on Amazon in different characters, even Spiderman and a few others for boys.  When it dries, the color goes away so they can use it again and again and again.  They are even great for restaurants. 

3.  Let's face it.  Sometimes TV is the only thing that will buy you the 20 minutes you need.  If you want to still be able to see what the kids are doing, you might consider investing in one of these.  We also use it for plane and car rides and joke that it's the best $100 we ever spent!


4.  Stringing necklaces: You can certainly do this without buying the kit (see left), but it was very handy because it stays all together and already has the strings ready.