Thursday, August 30, 2012

101 Hobbies for Mom

Before my first baby was born, I was an avid horse-back rider.  In fact, my Mom and I have been riding since I was 13 and we loved our time together.  I also read constantly and I finished my 2nd half-marathon a few weeks before I got pregnant.  You get the idea.  I had lots of hobbies.  I had an identity.

Suddenly after my daughter arrived, my identity vanished.  I had to give up horses while I was pregnant, I couldn't run for 6 weeks after she was born, and then I had a hard time getting back into it.  Worst of all, my baby was colicky so I scoured every parenting book available to man instead of reading my beloved novels.  Slowly I found myself feeling sad and I just wasn't myself.  And no wonder!  I wasn't passionate about anything anymore besides my baby.

I decided to change this and I forced myself to start riding again.  I also went to the book store and bought several good books and forced myself to read them before I went to bed every night so that my brain was free of babies right before I went to sleep.  I discovered that when I got back to my own identity, I became a much better and happier Mom.  Every Mom needs a hobby.  We need something we are passionate about, that can feed our individual souls so that we can embrace life.  Our kids benefit from seeing Mom have a special talent or interest.

So, if you're having trouble finding your identity, I have spent several weeks coming up with 101 hobbies for Moms (You might be surprised how hard this was).  Pick one.  Or three.  And nurture your talent and get out there and enjoy a life that is separate from your children!

  1. Reading
  2. Horse-back riding
  3. Bike-riding.  This is also great for getting back into shape!
  4. Walking
  5. Running.  You can just go run a few miles, or you can get really serious and start a marathon club.  Nothing feels better than completing a long race you've trained months for.
  6. Join a book club
  7. Join a Bible Study group at your church
  8. Scrap-booking.  They even have scrap-booking "weekends" where you can sit around with your friends and chat and scrap-book!
  9. Garage-saleing
  10. Art.  This can even be turned into a way to make money.  My friend Carmen has used her talents to create an amazing business painting murals.  She paints childrens' rooms and her talents have even morphed into an oustanding photography business.
  11. Volunteering.  Find an amimal shelter or homeless shelter.  Anything that makes you feel good.
  12. Baking.  My friend Michelle has become a phenomenal baker and she started her own business and makes the most amazing cakes and cookies you have ever seen.
  13. Playing the piano
  14. Gardening
  15. Photography
  16. Crafting.  Just get on Pinterest and you'll find more ideas than you know what to do with!
  17. Illustrating.  This could even turn into a career for illustrating children's books!
  18. Sell something.  I have a friend who sells amazing Designer Jeans .  She just does it as a way to earn extra money, but really enjoys it too.   She says some people really can earn a great living this way.  And if jeans don't appeal to you, you could sell all kids of things like candles, cooking stuff, jeans, jewelry, etc.
  19. Raquetball
  20. Jazzercise (Or any dance/exercise class)
  21. Home Decorating.  This can even become a way to make money.  Offer to decorate your friends' houses to get started.
  22. Learn to speak another language
  23. Karate
  24. Raise a litter of dogs (Sounds crazy to me, but some people are very good at this and passionate about it)
  25. Collect something.  Stamps, dolls, anything you find interesting
  26. Cooking.  Take a class.  Learn to be a truly amazing cook.  Then blog about it!
  27. Cross-Fit.  This is a life-style.  They do have gyms all across the country you can join, but it's even more than that.  Trust me, my husband started it a few years ago and it's a real hobby.
  28. Painting.  If you were good at art in school, buy a few canvases and try to paint something.  I can't paint at all but I'm told it's very liberating.
  29. Knitting
  30. Become a spin-bike instructor to earn a little money
  31. Yoga
  32. Go back to school, whether just to take one class, or finish a degree.
  33. Golf.  This will likely make you very popular with your husband
  34. Swimming
  35. Shopping.  This probably won't be good for your finances, but shopping with friends can be quite good for the soul.
  36. Sailing
  37. Hunting.  Again, if you have a hunting husband, this hobby will make you very popular.
  38. Politcs.  Get involved.  Volunteer in a campaign.  Now would be a great time to do it.
  39. Become an old movie buff.
  40. Learn to sew and then you can make your kids' Halloween costumes!
  41. Join your church choir.  Or any choir if you're good at singing.
  42. Kayaking
  43. Surfing
  44. Become a dog-trainer and/or dog-walker.  This is also a great way to a little extra money.
  45. Teach a yoga or exercise class.  Great way to earn a little extra money and they often let you join the gym for free.
  46. Go antiquing.  
  47. Camping
  48. Become a realtor.  Great way to earn extra money and you might be surprised how fun it is to shop for houses.
  49. Do a triathalon.
  50. Organize a consignment sale.  This is another way to earn extra money.  Rhea Lana is a great company with franchise sales all over the country.  I have worked with them several times and they are very professional and their sales are always a huge success.  You can contact them directly about starting your own franchise.
  51. Become a high school swim coach.  This is what my Mom did when we were growing up.  She always said it kept her sane because she got out of the house for a few hours and had a great time with the high school girls.  Plus she got to earn a little extra money.
  52. Take up Tennis
  53. Organize neighborhood Bachelorette Watch Parties.  These are a great way to spend time with friends.
  54. Become an expert couponer.
  55. Become a writer/blogger.  This has been a great way for me to earn a little money and I truly enjoy doing it.  
  56. Get a side job in a bookstore or coffee shop.  Again, a great way to earn a little money and get out of the house.
  57. Make candles
  58. Make jewelry
  59. Become a tennis coach for high school girls
  60. Hiking
  61. Start a bunko group
  62. Go to Bingo.  I remember doing this with my grandma as a kid and there is nothing more exhilerating than screaming, "BINGO!!!"
  63. Become involved in your local alumnae group, for your college, your sorority, or even your high school
  64. Re-finish old furniture.  Again can be a good way to earn extra money too.
  65. Calligraphy.  If you have good hand-writing, this could be a great side business for you.
  66. Make hair bows for kids and sell them at craft fairs.
  67. Make home-made jam (and possibly try to sell it).
  68. Join a local MOPS group (Mother of Preschoolers), usually available at most churches
  69. Tutuor kids in math, science, or a language
  70. Learn some basic graphic design
  71. Become a bird-watcher.  You laugh, but some people really enjoy this and have special binoculars for this.
  72. Tail-gating.  This wil also be a fun hobby for you and your Hubby.  People can get really serious about this, and spend lots of time making food and organizing for the weekend tail-gate.
  73. Pottery
  74. Bowling
  75. Fishing
  76. Become a museum-buff
  77. Do puzzles
  78. Start or join your neighborhood welcoming committee or home-owner's association
  79. Volunteer at your kids' school.
  80. Start a bridge club
  81. Become a high-school chearleading coach.
  82. Start a poker game.  If you've ever seen Desperate Housewives you will understand how fun this could be.
  83. Teach English as a 2nd language
  84. Teach Sunday School
  85. Squash
  86. Weight-lifting
  87. Become a Twitter queen
  88. Rock-climbing
  89. Sky-diving
  90. Needle-work
  91. Play guitar
  92. Pilates
  93. Fly a helicopter
  94. Fly a plane
  95. Ballroom dancing
  96. Shoot guns
  97. Snorkeling
  98. Scuba-diving
  99. Chess 
  100. Teach Piano
  101. Become a secret shopper
I hope that you have a hobby you love.  Tell me what you love to do!

    If you enjoyed this post, you might like to read more about how to be a happier Mom in my new book, The Happy Mommy Handbook: The Ultimate How-to Guide on Keeping Your Toddlers and Preschoolers Busy, Out of Trouble and Motivated to Learn.  I co-wrote it with former Kindergarten Teacher and best-selling Author, Susan Case.  We give hundreds of ways to keep your kids busy, but in productive ways so that you get more free time with your child is actually learning!  Then we have a chapter as well on how Moms can nurture themselves so that they can in turn nurture their children. 

    In fact, here is what one of my readers said about the book: 
    Love your book! Seriously, I rate it up there with my heroes Elizabeth Pantley and John Rosemond in terms of day-to-day usefulness. Bravo! ~Dawn@Prickly Mom

    You can download the first chapter for free on Kindle to make sure you like it or see us chat live about it so you can get a feel for whether it's something you want to spend your money on!
     


     
     
    Did you enjoy my post?  Don't forget to vote for me by clicking the banner below.  You can also enter your email address below to receive all my updates!  I really appreciate your support!!
    Want to see all my posts?  Put your email address here to become a subscriber!
    Enter your email address:

    Monday, August 27, 2012

    Easy Craft for Kids: Paper Plate Snails

    Snails are the latest obsession at our household.   The pet snails often go for a ride in the baby stroller, so it's only fitting that we create a craft for the pet snails. In fact, I can hear her right now, talking to "Rosita", who is the one snail that has survived our crazy household.  Rosita is getting a lecture about why she needs to stay in the stroller and not jump out.  I'm sure Rosita is listening intently.

    Anyway, back to our snail craft.  First we painted paper plates.  My kids love to paint so much that Little Buddy often shakes with excitement when I just get the paints out of the closet.  After we got finished with the plates, we had to let them dry.  Then I cut a snail head from the outside of the plate.  the kids helped glue the eyes and for the antennae we used small pipe cleaners:

    Beginning of the paper plate snail project for preschoolers

    Then we used scissors to cut the paper plate around and around to make the snail shell.  Munchkin Girl helped with this a little, but I had to finish it for her.  Little Buddy, of course, was off playing golf inside the house by this point.

    art project for toddlers
    Then, once we got everything cut out, we just had to staple the head and tail on and voila!  Our own little snails!
    Crafts for Kids

    If you need more easy crafts like these, please consider buying my book!  I co-wrote it with former Kindergarten Teacher and best-selling author, Susan Case.  We worked together to give both a Mom and a Teacher perspective and we give hundreds of ideas on ways to keep your kids busy, but in a productive way, so that they're actually learning while you cook dinner in peace! Here is what a reader wrote after she purchased our book:

    I'm about halfway through your book, and it's a true gem in my quest to figure out how to yell less and enjoy my boys more. I'm glad I found your blog. ~ Prickly Mom

    You can purchase a copy on Amazon or B&N.  The Kindle version is $3.99 and the Paperback is $9.99.  Thanks so much for your support!





    Did you enjoy my post?  Don't forget to vote for me by clicking the banner below.  You can also enter your email address below to receive all my updates!  I really appreciate your support!!
    Want to see all my posts?  Put your email address here to become a subscriber!
    Enter your email address:

    Thursday, August 23, 2012

    7 Lessons Your Daughter Needs You to Teach Her


    My daughter came home from school one day and I did my usual.  I just tried to make conversation with her and I absent-mindedly asked, "Who did you sit by at lunch?"

    She replied, "Grace wanted to sit by me, but Julia and I didn't want her to."

    As you can imagine, this really got my attention. I spent many years in high school and beyond dealing with girls excluding me for reasons I never understood and it never occurred to me that my daughter would be the one doing the excluding. Granted, she's only four, but that's no excuse.

    The next day, she wanted to stay up past her bedtime. I said no. She kicked at me and said, "No!" in a very snotty voice. I realize that kids aren't going to be well-behaved all the time, but I have a very low tolerance for bratty behavior and I wanted to nip this in the bud before it became a habit.

    This sent me on an interesting journey. Over the next several days and weeks, I interviewed my Mom, my Mom's friends, and my good friend and co-author, Susan Case. Susan is a former Kindergarten teacher and child expert. My goal was simple. To find out the answer to this question: What are the most important lessons I can teach my daughter so she doesn't grow up to be a back-talking, sassy teen-ager?  My end-goal is to raise a daughter who is considerate of other people, fun to be around, and I want her to respect (and adore) me!

    Here is what I found out, from some very wise mothers and grandmothers:

    1. Your happiness doesn't depend on me buying things for you.  The way to teach this lesson is simple: Don't buy them anything.  This sounds drastic, but what it really means is don't buy them something from a store when they are with you, unless she knows going in that you are searching for something. Otherwise, they'll start thinking they get something every time you shop and pretty soon you've got a spoiled girl who begs and whines and pitches a fit when she doesn't get what she wants. Of course, if they need shoes or a necessity, this does not apply, but still make sure you do not just buy them everything in the store.
    2. Looks aren't the most important thing.  It's important to boost your daughter's self-esteem, but don't make every compliment about her looks.  Don't put a mirror in her room.  This goes double for a "vanity" that you can buy from the toy store. Sure, it's tempting. They look adorable sitting in front of the mirror brushing their hair, but what are you really teaching them?
    3. Friends are important.  If you ever see them being mean to anyone, or they tell you they don't like someone, explain why it's important to include everyone. Praise her when you see her being nice to one of her friends.  Talk about your own friends often and explain why they are so important to you.
    4. No one likes a bossy-pants or a tattle-tale.  For this, it's important to lead by example. Don't be sassy and mean to your husband. Even if he's sitting in the couch scrolling through his iPad while you run around like a headless chicken making dinner, do not snap at him! If she hears you being snippy and mean, she will follow your example. She wants to be like her Mom.  And don't encourage her to tell on other people.  That won't help her in school at all!  (Trust me, my Mom is a P.E. Teacher and this is one of her biggest pet peeves.
    5. The world doesn't revolve around shopping.  Try bonding through exploring a flower garden or a park. Or try to find a hobby that is outdoors and active, such as horseback-riding or bike-riding. The closer you are, the more likely your daughter will be open to discussing difficult times with you.
    6. You catch more bees with honey than vinegar.  Never let a snotty tone slide. This doesn't mean you have to yell at them every time they're rude, but if they demand something in a snippy way, always correct them by saying something like, "Now, you don't need to talk in that mean tone. Let's try again in a nice voice." Eventually these gentle reminders will sink it, and sometimes a firmer reminder might be warranted.
    7. It's good to help people. Open the door for the elderly lady at the grocery store and then talk afterward about how it's nice to help people.  Do nice things for your husband and/or friends and make sure your daughter knows about it.  Have her help you pick out toys to give the needy at Christmastime. It doesn't matter what it is, but show them how fun it is to give back to the people who need it.

    After I gathered all this advice from all the wise Moms I know, the kids were playing outside a few weeks later and I saw a neighborhood girl approach my daughter and her little friend. The third girl asked if she could play too. I stood back and held my breath to see whether all my hard work had paid off.

    My daughter said, "Sure! We're playing school. You can be a student!"

    I breathed a sigh of relief. No one is perfect all the time, and I'm certain that the battle is not over. I will have to reinforce this behavior on a daily basis, but for now, I am happy to see my daughter including others. There is hope for her yet.



    If you enjoyed this post, you will love our book!  I teamed up with former Kindergarten Teacher Susan Case to release The Happy Mommy Handbook: The Ultimate How-to Guide on Keeping Your Toddlers and Preschoolers Busy, Out of Trouble, and Motivated to Learn in July, 2012.  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!  You can hear us talk about this theory in this interview about the book:


     
    Did you enjoy my post?  Don't forget to vote for me by clicking the banner below.  You can also enter your email address below to receive all my updates!  I really appreciate your support!!
    Want to see all my posts?  Put your email address here to become a subscriber!
    Enter your email address:

    Monday, August 20, 2012

    Learning Letters Using Rocks


    When my daughter was about 18 months, we were at a party with a bunch of kids.  One of the kids was only about two years old and he was going the room, pointing at everyone's shirt and identifying each letter.  He would yell, "T!  O!  R!"  Everyone was very impressed, including me.  I will admit that I filed away that image for later use.  I really wanted my daughter to be the "trick pony" at a party someday and be able to impress everyone with her knowledge of letters.  I asked the Mom how her little boy already knew all his letters.  She laughed and said, "Because I make him do flashcards every day!"

    As a new Mom, I didn't know any better.  This seemed perfectly normal and wonderful to me.  I went out that day and bought a bunch of flashcards and started trying to drill her.  The only problem was that she wasn't interested.  At all.  I waited a few months.  She still wasn't interested.  I didn't want to force her so I eventually put them away, but I was puzzled.  Why didn't she want to learn letters?  Isn't that what little kids do?

    A few months later, I met a wonderful former Kindergarten teacher, named Susan Case.  She explained to me that my thinking was totally wrong. Flashcards weren't the answer.  Here are her thoughts:

    Young children love to learn by using their five senses and movement. Sensory integration is the ability to take in information through the senses of touch, smell, taste, vision, hearing, and movement, and to combine the resulting perceptions with prior information, memories and knowledge already stored in the brain. In other words, children learn by exploring and discovering using their five senses and movement. You don't need flashcards or expensive products to teach. Of course, flashcards can supplement learning. And it is very important to read books every day possible with your children. But young children may be more interested in the pictures and movable gadgets than focusing on squiggly lines and circles that make up letters. However, there are ways to grab a child’s attention to help them learn the letter sounds and names:

    Begin with a child’s name – which is the most important word to them. Help your child form the letters in their name using interesting materials such as beans, pasta, rocks, marbles, buttons, PomPoms, playdough, and pipe cleaners. Always supervise young children when they are using small objects.


    As my daughter got older, I took Susan's words to heart.  I found these colorful rocks at the Dollar Store and we use them for lots of different things but this is my personal favorite.  I love it because I feel like I'm doing my job, helping her learn her letters, and she loves it because it's fun!  All I had to do was draw out some letters using circles.  Then I gave her the colored rocks and we talked through each letter as she did them, so she knew what letter she'd made.  I found that she was more interested in letters that spelled words she liked, such as her own name, Mom, Dad, or her friend's names.

    Eventually, we got really crazy and started to spell actual names and words using the letters she had created.  She didn't learn all the letters this way, because the reason flashcards work so well is that kids need to do things over and over again before they stick, but I noticed that she now finally has "T" down!




    If you enjoyed this post, you will really enjoy reading my newly-released book!  I teamed up with Susan Case (who is also the one who commented above) and we wrote the book together to give a Mom and a Teacher point of view.  You can watch a video that explains more here:



    We give you dozens of other ideas on how to keep your kids busy, but in a productive way, so they are actually learning while they are also having fun!  Here is what one of my readers wrote on Amazon after she read our book:

    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?  Don't forget to vote for me by clicking the banner below.  You can also enter your email address below to receive all my updates!  I really appreciate your support!!
    Want to see all my posts?  Put your email address here to become a subscriber!
    Enter your email address:

    Friday, August 17, 2012

    Just Be Glad You're Not Me Today

    We all have bad days, but my friend Dani had the worst of all possible days.  The good news is that she has a superb sense of humor so she was laughing about it almost immediately after it happened and she sent me the email below about it.  I thought her humor/misery might make your day seem better.  And she told me I could share it with you because she's awesome.  Here is what her email said:

    Katie,
    Just for fun, I'd like to document my day.  Go on.  Read it.  And be happy you aren't me today:
    • Went to the dentist and paid $760 for an exam and a night mouth guard
    • Dentist told me I have gum disease and I need an extensive cleaning at an additional cost of $860
    • Didn't get my teeth cleaned at all because the hygienist's husband came in to get her because of a family emergency
    • Picked up Ella and told her we were going to go have a nice girls lunch at our favorite coffee shop
    • After I parked in the parking garage Ella told me she peed in her car seat.
    • Left coffee shop without eating and without getting our parking ticket validated
    • Came home and let Ella in the house so I could take her car seat out of the car
    • While I was getting the car seat out of the car, Ella got her lunch box out of her backpack and proceeded to eat heavily seasoned salmon on our freshly washed white couch.  She got salmon everywhere.
    • I put the couch cushion cover in the washer
    • Ella got mad at me because I wouldn't let her take a dump in the measuring cup she was playing with
    • Went back outside to wash off car seat
    • While I was outside, heard Ella screaming.  She was jumping on the couch (she said Daddy told her it was ok) and she hit her head
    • Calmed Ella down and went to take some medicine for the migraine I have
    • Dropped the brand new bottle of pills spilling all 300 pills on the floor of our pantry
    • Put Ella down for a nap
    • Heard Ella yelling not long after and went to check on her
    • She had taken off her pull up and peed all over her bed
    • Put the couch cushion cover in the dryer and put Ella's bedding in the washer
    • As I'm typing this at the desk in the guest room, Ella is going potty in the toilet right next to me.  I hear a loud gushing of liquid and look over to see her sitting on the toilet, leaning way back with her legs propped up on the toilet seat in front of her and her pee shooting straight out into the air and splashing to the floor like she has a wiener!
    I WANT A CUPCAKE AND A VACATION!
    I was rolling on the floor laughing when I read this and I hope it made you smile too.  I will tell you that it was shortly after this that my dear friend asked me for some ideas on keeping her daughter busy.  At the time, I hadn't published my book yet, but I gave her the rough draft.  She has held her hand on her heart and she is slightly biased since she is my dear friend, but she truly says all the ideas I had on keeping your kid busy, such as sand, water, fine motor skills, etc., have really helped her and her daughter.  Maybe they will help you too!  I wrote the book with former Kindergarten Teacher, Susan Case, and we give a Mom and a Teacher perspective on why it's so important to keep your kids challenged and how it can truly make your life better.








    Did you enjoy my post?  Don't forget to vote for me by clicking the banner below.  You can also enter your email address below to receive all my updates!  I really appreciate your support!!
    Want to see all my posts?  Put your email address here to become a subscriber!
    Enter your email address:

    Wednesday, August 15, 2012

    Adventures in Pet Snails

    Meet our new  our new pet snails!  We let Munchkin Girl name them and she chose Rosie and Rosita.  I have no idea where she came up with those names.  So far, this isn't a passing phase, much to Hubby's dismay.  It's been a month now and she's as interested as ever!  We just spent the last thirty minutes watching the snails eat their fresh leaves while Munchkin Girl cooed to them and said, "Yes, Rosita, good job.  Mommy is here if you need me."
    If you want to read more about it, head over to the lovely site of The Imagination Tree, where we wrote about our new friends! 
    I also wanted to say thank you to all of you!  I am so grateful to every single person who reads what I write.  Also, thanks so much for supporting my new book!  It continues to do well and is still ranked in the Top 5 under the category of Motherhood on Amazon.  I am eternally grateful to you and I hope if you've read it, that you enjoyed it!



    Did you enjoy my post?  Don't forget to vote for me by clicking the banner below.  You can also enter your email address below to receive all my updates!  I really appreciate your support!!
    Want to see all my posts?  Put your email address here to become a subscriber!
    Enter your email address:

    Monday, August 13, 2012

    Here is a hose, kid. Now Wash My Car!


    I know child labor is wrong.  Of course it is.  But when its your own kids, and they beg you to do it, does it count?  I mean, they love the hose, and my car really needed to be washed so I figured this was a wonderful toddler activity.  I love it when I find something that keeps the kids busy for awhile and this killed almost an entire hour!  Of course, I had to stick my feet in the baby pool to keep from melting in the heat, and my magazine got all wet from the water flying around, but hey, I'm used to sacrifice!
    fun things to do with kids
     
     
     
    The only problem was that they lost interest before it was finished so then my car looked worse than it did before we started!  But that's what husbands are for, right?


    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?  Don't forget to vote for me by clicking the banner below.  You can also enter your email address below to receive all my updates!  I really appreciate your support!!
    Want to see all my posts?  Put your email address here to become a subscriber!
    Enter your email address:

    Thursday, August 9, 2012

    New Research: Is Yelling at Kids Worse than Hitting?



    Yesterday my daughter was in one of those moods.  She was deliberately trying to irritate everyone.  I take that back...she was trying to be funny and in the process was being super annoying.  For example, when it was time to brush her teeth, she went into the bathroom and said, "Watch this, Mommy!"

    She proceeded to knock over the soap holder, spilling soap everywhere and she grinned the entire time.  She was genuinely trying to make me laugh and didn't have a clue that I wouldn't think it was funny to knock over the soap at 7:45 after a long day. 

    I wanted to say, "What is wrong with you today?  Why are you being so annoying?"  

    Yet I didn't.  A new study out by the American Academy of Pediatrics made me think twice and I am eternally grateful for these studies that force me to take a step back and evaluate how I interact with my children.  This study points out that although physical abuse is clearly harmful, consistently belittling a child can also have long-lasting negative effects on their overall well-being.  The study goes on to point out that it's very difficult to spot true verbal abuse in children, but that it can be equally as abusive, if not more.  It defines verbal abuse as:

    "Emotional or psychological abuse is a repeated pattern of behavior by a parent or caregiver that can be verbal or nonverbal, active or passive, intentional or unintentional, but is interpreted negatively by a child, and can result in developmental, social, emotional and academic problems."

    Of course, I don't think I abuse my children in any way.  I tell them I love them constantly, and I hug and kiss them way more than they really want.  The key to the definition given by the AAP is a repeated pattern.  Yes, I've yelled before, but I don't yell often, so I'm sure my kids are fine.  The point is that I have definitely been tempted to belittle them when I've had a long day and they talk back to me.  I've also seen first-hand parents who say very mean things to their kids, such as "Ugh, what is wrong with you?  I've had enough of you for one day.  I seriously can't stand you today!"

    These are good parents saying these things.  They just get frazzled and don't think about what they're saying.  Like me, I'm sure they regret it when they say mean things, so this research does make me pause and think about how I interact and speak to my kids on a daily basis.  Here are a few examples that I thought of:

    Situation 1:  Munchkin Girl whines all day long.  Everything she wants is said with a whine and nothing I do seems to please her.  It is making me so crazy I feel that I'm going to snap at any minute.

    What I want to say:  "What is wrong with you?  Why do you have to whine all day long?  I am SO SICK of this whining!!"

    What would be better to say:  "I would sure love to help you, but I can't until you ask me in a nice voice.  I can't help girls who are whining." And then walk away and force her to come and ask me in a nice voice.

    Situation 2:  I spend 30 minutes making spaghetti and when I serve it, both kids complain that they didn't want spaghetti, that they wanted different plates and they don't like the forks I gave them.
    What I want to say:  "Quit complaining!   I spent all day making this stupid dinner for you and if you don't like it you can just go to your room!!"

    What might be better: "That is so sad that you don't like your dinner.  Here, why don't you hand me your plate and I'll put everything away.  Maybe you'll like your dinner better tomorrow."   (I've done this before.  It's very effective when they realize they won't be getting any dinner at all if they don't stop complaining).

    Situation 3:  Both kids are playing in the family room and are having fun until suddenly Munckin Girl realizes that Little Buddy is enjoying playing with his hammer set.  She walks over, steals his hammer and then Little Buddy smacks her in the head to get it back.  She then proceeds to starts pounding him with the hammer and they are both crying hysterically.

    What I want to say:  "THAT'S IT!!  What is wrong with you two?  Why can't we ever have some peace and quiet?!?  You're driving me CRAZY!!"

    What would be better: "Okay, you two are in a time-out in different rooms.  You can sit in the family room and you can sit right here in the dining room.  I'm going to be in the kitchen and you are welcome to come hang out with me when you are ready to stop pestering each other and act nicely." (Again, I've tried this.  They tend to cry for several minutes and I tell them I know how they feel and they are welcome to come out as soon as they stop crying and are ready to be nice.  I learned this from a neighbor who has 6 children.  Children really hate to be secluded so it works remarkably well)

    If you want to find out more about how to make kids behave so you can yell less, please consider buying a copy of my newly released book, The Happy Mommy Handbook: The Ultimate How-to Guide on Keeping Your Toddlers and Preschoolers Busy, Out of Trouble and Motivated to Learn.  We give hundreds of ideas on how to keep kids buys in a productive way to stimulate their natural curiosity and prepare them for Kindergarten by giving them interesting yet challenging games to play every day.  You will get lots of information about how kids behave better if they are:

    1.  Given challenging projects and activities through the week to stimulate their active little brains
    2.  Given lots of quality time with Mom or Dad, where they are praised for their actual accomplishments, such as painting or something creative.
    3.  Given appropriate punishments for unwanted behavior, but the punishment should be done without belittling and when they've paid their price, it should be over and parents shouldn't hold a grudge.

    4.  Given lots of opportunity to sleep!

    We would love for you watch this video, where we speak more about what we have created and how it can help you!












    Did you enjoy my post?  Don't forget to vote for me by clicking the banner below.  You can also enter your email address below to receive all my updates!  I really appreciate your support!!
    Want to see all my posts?  Put your email address here to become a subscriber!
    Enter your email address:

    Monday, August 6, 2012

    Using Sand to Learn Letters for Sensory Fun

    Hubby had to work last weekend and it finally RAINED!  This was great news for all the plant-life struggling to survive, but this meant I had to come up with some things to keep us busy inside.

    We've always had lots of fun with sand, but this time I decided to try something new.  I hid a bunch of magnetic letters in the sand while Munchkin Girl had her eyes closed.  She had to dig around and find them, one by one and once she pulled them out, she arranged them on a cake pan.  Since they were magnetic, they stuck nicely to it.


    activities for preschoolers





    easy crafts for kids with learning letters

    Once we got enough letters, we started making words with them.  We made CAT and then pulled off the C and replaced it with a B and so on.

    Now you might be wondering if this sand in the house made a mess.  Not really.  Every once in awhile a little bit of sand gets flicked out, but she has worked with sand enough to know that if she makes a mess, we stop playing.  I even have a small dust pan handy so that she can clean up her own messes!

    Honestly, she didn't stick with the letters for long though...she ended up filling up that butterfly with sand and pretending she was making cookies.  I have learned never to interfere with her imagination!  In fact, I got out a few more cookie cutters so she could make even more cookies.  If she's playing happily, I make it a point never to interrupt!  Even if I was secretly trying to get her to work on letters!




    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?  Don't forget to vote for me by clicking the banner below.  You can also enter your email address below to receive all my updates!  I really appreciate your support!!
    Want to see all my posts?  Put your email address here to become a subscriber!
    Enter your email address:

    Friday, August 3, 2012

    Toddler Games: The Importance of Watching for Frustration


    Poor Little Buddy.  He often gets stuck doing what Munchkin Girl is doing, especially as far as arts and crafts are concerned.  I guess that's the nature of being the little brother.  However, last week Grandma was spending the afternoon with Munchkin Girl so I had the afternoon to myself with him.  I pulled out all of our craft and project supplies because I really wanted to give him the chance to do whatever HE wanted to do.
    He picked colored Poms and at first I just picked what Munchkin Girl would have used: a clothespin.  The idea was to dump out all the colored Poms and let him put them into the tin.  My daughter loves this game and counts as she goes and it's great for her muscles strength.  At first, he was thrilled.

    colored poms for fine motor skills

    As you can see, he kept getting confused about which way was up, and which way was down.  He would pinch it, and then when the other side opened, he would turn it upside down.

     
    It wasn't long before he was whining and I was feeling sad that this wasn't turning into the fun bonding afternoon it was supposed to be!  But then I realized that I was seeing first-hand something that my co-author and former Kindergarten teacher, Susan Case covered in our book.  On the chapter about fine motor skills, she said:

        Developing fine motor skills can be frustrating and challenging for some children. Watch your child’s level of frustration. Gradually   
        increase the time of activities. This play/work time needs to be pleasurable, attainable and rewarding so that your child will continue to 
        engage and make progress.

    Then it clicked.  Using clothespins just wasn't attainable for him.  It's not something he is capable of so I simply made a switch.  I put the clothespins away and pulled some tongs out of our kitchen drawer.  They aren't something I've used before, but I realized that if Munchkin Girl had been then, Little Buddy probably would have just wandered away to find something else to do so I wouldn't have realized that he wanted to participate but simply couldn't.  Since he was alone, I was more in tune to him.  The difference was amazing.  He was able to use the tongs very well and was SOOO proud of himself.  See how in the first picture none of the Poms were in the tin?  Check out this picture!  He had them in there in no time and did it about three times before he got tired of it!


    Not only did we have a great time, but I now fully understand the meaning of "developmentally appropriate activities".




    If you want to read more about activities that are good for toddlers and preschoolers, you love my new book (which is currently ranked #6 on Amazon in the category of Motherhood!).  Here is one of the reviews on Amazon so please consider buying your own copy!


    5.0 out of 5 stars This Book is a Life-saver! July 10, 2012


    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?  Don't forget to vote for me by clicking the banner below.  You can also enter your email address below to receive all my updates!  I really appreciate your support!!
    Want to see all my posts?  Put your email address here to become a subscriber!
    Enter your email address: