Over the years, Matt has taught me a great moto. When it comes to raising kids, you can’t force good behavior, happiness, or high quality choice making. Actually, that is true for anyone, young or old. The way to inspire those around you (including you kids) is to teach them a good way and then let them choose. Yes, sometimes this includes hard consequences, but the reward for good consequences is the real teacher.
Just to be clear, I am in no way pushing Scouts. In truth, Matt and I have never really been fans, but when Davis turned 8 and entered the scouting world…well, he loved it. How can I deny a program that focuses on rearing great citizens, instills quality principles, and is so fun for most kids?! Ok, we can deal. Then, I was asked to be his Cub Scout Master. Yikes! Now I couldn’t pretend, I had to know my junk. I mean, doing crap that you hate for your kids is what being a parent is all about, right?
Well, today I went to Cub Scout camp with our pack. The verdict, awesome. Dirt, arrows, and silliness, every kid’s dream come true. But that’s not what I found great as a parent. What I loved was that those 20-something-year-old kids chose as their job to teach young kids about nature, earth, and team work. In a nutshell, if you can get your child involved with a program that teaches correct principles to live their lives, don’t pass it up. After they learn what the principles are, let them choose for themselves. The chips will fall, sometimes where you might not want them to, but the lesson is life long.
How to get your kids to Unplug this Summer!
Remember the Daily Doable I did just one short month ago about spoiling your kids with doing what ever they felt like this summer? Well, I lived up to that idea. I spoiled them…..rotten….their drug of choice? Electronics. I created monsters, and it didn’t take lightning, but it did take electricity. One day I realized that I saw my 9-year-old son for a grand total of 1 hour the whole day (I know that sounds kind of great) but he was playing the computer non stop (ok, he stopped to eat and use the bathroom). But that’s not even the worst part. It got to the point that any time I made the kids turn off their various electronic I had to deal with a grouchy, rude, down right angry mob! Something had to be done.
I have to give my husband the credit, he’s the one who spurred the change. He woke up one morning and suggested that the kids have to earn electronic time by reading. Hour for hour. This got my mind going…what if we didn’t just have them read but incorporated a bunch of non-electronic options? Thus, our effort to unplug began. I sat the kids down and explained the plan. They took it great (no they didn’t). There was much weeping and waling and gnashing of teeth but I stuck to my guns. Here is our plan.
Start with a Good Book
For some kids, reading is not their idea of a good time, so it goes for Davis. Unfortunately for those kids there is just way too much research on the crazy great benefits of reading for all ages. So, that is where we started. The kids had to start with one hour of reading before anything else. When that hour is up they get one hour of electronic time.
Let’s not torture them, though! Head to the library or buy a book from Amazon Kids Books (you can get great books for under $5 if you buy them used). Let them read what they like. Your little guy wants to brush up on his Pokemon trivia, let him read a book on it. When kids read what they are interested in they learn that reading can be fun and it helps them develop a love for it.
Practice makes Perfect!
Another option for earning electronic time is to practice. Olivia happens to play the violin, but getting her to practice is like pulling teeth. All of them. At once. Slowly. Maybe your daughter plays soccer, or your son plays lacrosse. Even better! Adding in that physical activity that playing electronics robs them of is a great option. Again, one hour of practice equals one hour of electronics.
Play a Board Game!
So, this is a little bit of a cheat because our BINGO game happens to be DVD BINGO (which which I got from Amazon Disney DVD Bingo), but it’s engaging and easy for little ones. Dust off some of your old board games or splurge on a new one. Another great place to get amazing educational games is from Lakeshore Toys.
Do something Creative!
I know this bucket looks like a mess (ok, it is a mess) but it’s a mess with creative potential! Anytime I have to buy a craft something-or-other for the various things I do I put the left overs in this box. It’s fun to get it out and let the kids go to town. Encouraging creativity is a great way to help kids learn what they like, what they are good at, and even who they are. You don’t need a lot of supplies, a box of crayons on an extra big sheet of paper is equally exciting. Again, a great way to stock up on unique craft supplies is at Amazon Arts/Crafts/Sewing.
I know this seems obvious, but my kids were so into their electronics I couldn’t even get them to go to the pool! What is this world coming to?! I think it’s fair to say that if you go swimming for a couple of hours, you get to play electronics for a couple of hours.
The reality in my house is that my kids love their electronics, and can you blame them? Electronics are fun! But, if you can stick to your own rules you can help them unplug and make it so that EVERYONE has a great summer!
Meet Sawyer’s New Friend!
The kids and I were at the pool one day, the sun was shining, the weather was perfect, and with the pool noodle in hand, Sawyer (my 3-year-old) had the nerve to get bored! He was ready to go but the other kids weren’t. Bummer for me. I was left trying to entertain a grouchy, tired toddler. That’s when his new friend was born. Simply twist the strap of some goggles around the end of a pool noodle and position the eyes over the top edge. He was trilled! He talked to the noodle, taught it to swim and then I used it to attack him from the comfort of my pool chair. Funoodle Friend, don’t ever leave me!
Daily Doable: No More Teachers, No More Books!
Hallelujah! Finally, school is out for summer! I have been anticipating this day more than anyone, even my kids. Ok, teachers have anticipated it more, I bet. I love having free time with my kids. I love spoiling them with TV, electronics, and laziness. But I love spending un-pressured time with them more. I feel like during the school year we are ruled by schedules. Time to get up. Time to eat breakfast. Time to go to school. Time to do homework. Time to go to practice. Time to eat. Time to brush teeth. Time for bed. It’s a continuous cycle of pushing and prodding. In other words, it’s exhausting. Who knew my when my kids started school it would be like I was doing it all over again with them? So, here we are. A sumer stretching out in front of us, how will you spend it? I challenge you to spoil them. Give them extra time doing the things they can’t do during the school year. That means something different to every family, so figure out what it is that would make your kids over-the-moon happy to do, and let them do it. A lot. Then, after they are through gorging themselves on their favorite pass-time, give them your time. Whether they realize it or not, kids crave the company of their parents. Be silly, do a craft, take them to the park. Set a goal to spend time with your kids. It can be an hour a day or an activity a week, but take the extra time summer allows and give it to your kids. Childhood is short and there are precious few summers in it, so make this one a great one!
Daily Doable: Use a Shoe Organizer to Organize Your Pantry!
Is anyone as blown away by this as I am? I was at my besty’s house the other night and had to get into her pantry and what do I come across? The best idea since BBC decided to bring back Dr. Who! She bought a plastic shoe organizer and hung in on the inside of her pantry door, and BOOM, instant storage. Water bottles, straws, even snacks for the kids are all organized and reachable. Plus, just look at that pantry! It’s beautiful. It’s like she added a whole extra shelf that is more convenient than a shelf. Done. Seriously. I am so doing this. Thanks Amy!
Daily Doable: Use Toothpicks as Corn Cob Holders
Yeah, you read that right, use toothpicks to stick into the ends of corn on the cob and use them as holders. Because they are wood you can even put them into the corn before it’s cooked, that way there are no third degree burns (don’t laugh, I know ya’ll have done it). This idea was born as most great ideas are, out of necessity! My kids have lost so many corn cob holders that I can’t keep them in the house (ok, maybe one or two have gone down the disposal). And they cry a river every time they want one. That’s when inspiration strikes. They are easy to push in, and completely disposable. Plus, who doesn’t have toothpicks laying around?! So, bring on the BBQ, you didn’t know it, but you are prepared.
How to Create Memorable Birthdays!
First of all, shout out to my littlest guy, Sawyer! He turns 4 today! He is an angle without wings. Really, to know him is to love him. He is so full of happiness and fun and life. Of course, as his parents, we would love to do some huge, extravagant party for him every chance we get, but my husband pointed out long ago (right about the time our first turned 3) that big parties, lots of gifts and tons of friends aren’t what he remembers most about his birthdays. His dad started a tradition with him that has stuck, and I’m going to share it with you.
With your first kid every parents imagines every birthday being red letter. Don’t get me wrong, it is. But when you start having more than one child and birthdays fall close to other holidays or birthdays, life can get complicated. So, Matt suggested taking a page out his father’s book. We decided to let each of our kids have a party every other year, on the odd birthdays (1st, 3rd, 5th…..you get it) and the years they don’t have a party they get a date night out with just mom and dad. Our oldest is getting ready to turn 12 this summer and she already has the restaurant picked out that she wants to go to. We don’t put any limitations on it (after all, a party is always going to cost more than a meal). Some of her choices were Wingers, Applebee’s, and most recently, our favorite steak house (ok, that one might have come close to the same cost). My other son chose his first dinner date with us to be McDonald’s in the play land, and his sister was invited.
The point is, on the years the kids don’t have a party Matt and I get a break from planning all of the hoopla, but more importantly, we get the opportunity to spend some quality time on our child’s special day. It’s a chance for us to connect and make memories with them, teach them good restaurant etiquette, and give 100% of our attention to that child. Plus, it makes the years they have parties that much more memorable. It’s a tradition that Matt and his dad still hold, because one day those little 4-year-olds will grow up and the parties and toys will be gone, but the tradition will continue.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SAWYER!
Where You Put Your Attention Expands
So, I am one of the crossing guards at my kid’s elementary school (no, I do not wear an orange vest because that would be a deal breaker) and generally I love it. I get to know the kids as they pass by me every day, I get paid to drive my kids to school, and I get to go to faculty parties which are always something to speak of. The biggest down side, however, is being in the elements every day of the school year. Living in northern Utah presents some bitterly cold/windy/wet weather. I have to admit, my attitude towards being a crossing guard tends to wane in the middle of January. By then we have had 3 months of snow, there is no more Christmas to look forward to, only more gray cold days. One day while at the cross walk I was standing on the corner, generally being annoyed by the layers of dirt filled ice crusted snow on the road when I saw the little leaf in the picture sitting in (of all places) the gutter. It was beautiful. This perfect little gem, left over from the beauty of summer, perfectly preserved and clothed in a blanket of frost crystals was sitting in the dirties, wettest place on the street. It struck me how something so lovely could exist in surroundings so dismal. I couldn’t help myself, I grabbed out my phone and snapped a shot. That was over a year ago, and I can’t bring myself to erase it. I think the reason why is written on the picture. It’s no secret that I go to therapy regularly (I believe anyone in the world can benefit from a good therapist) and one day Karen pointed out to me that what ever you are focussing on is all that you will see. If you think a lot about how your kids are making you crazy, they will make you more crazy. If you think negative things about your neighbor, then you will only see those negative traits, blinding you to their good ones. If you believe the world is a hopeless place, your heart will continually fill it’s self with despair. So change your focus. Think about and focus on the good around you. Look for reasons to be grateful and happy. If you find yourself dwelling on negative thoughts try to think of something that makes you happy. It’s a simple and profound truth. If you look at your life through the blinders of negativity then negativity is all you will see. This little leaf taught me that. There is beauty and joy all around if you look for it.
Do What You Love!
What are you passionate about? Forget about if it’s popular or silly or embarrassing, is there something that you just love…something frivolous, nonessential, just for the fun of it? Well, Matt and I have this kind of love down to a science. He is a great lover of Star Wars, comic books and super heroes. Me? Well, if you say the words “The Doctor” or “Downton Abby” I may just swoon. For my daughter it’s Adventure Time, my middle son its Legos, and my littlest guy its, well super heroes (he takes after his dad that way). The point is, the things you are passionate about give life flavor and variety. It doesn’t matter what it is, just go out there and make some time to enjoy the things that are not nessisary! For our family, ComicCon fulfills all of our requirements. Our idea of heaven on earth is walking around a huge convention hall filled with people in costumes, novelties from our favorite shows, and so very many photo ops. For you it might be scrapbooking, or watching “B” movies, or shopping. Today’s Daily Doable is just that, make time to enjoy doing what you love to do!