Is Your Child Scared of Halloween

It’s time once again for Heather Johnson from Family Volley to share with us some Parenting Tips as part of her Parenting Tips” here on The Idea Room. Here’s Heather in her own words and sharing how parents should support kids and their interests.

–Amy

Halloween can be a tricky holiday for young children. It can be hard for them to distinguish between reality and make believe. They can be really scared of the decorations, costumes, and knocking door-to-door asking strangers for candy.

There are a number of things we can do as parents to help ease our children’s worries and give our families a happier Halloween.

Is your child scared of Halloween decorations?
  • Does your toddler get scared when they see store displays, fake spiders, mummies and skeletons? Take a few minutes to explain to them that decorations are part of holiday celebrations. Explain that just like colored eggs are part of Easter, and Christmas Trees are part of Christmas, skeletons and jack-o-lanterns are part of Halloween. Don’t forget to explain that the decorations are temporary and will be taken down as soon as Halloween is over. 
  • Explain that none of the decorations are real, but instead, pretend. Pick up and touch the decorations yourself so it is clear that the decoration is harmless. Then, invite your child to touch the decorations like you have. We have had to work through this with every one of our children. My parents have this great spider that crawls up the window whenever there is a loud noise. It is an awesome decoration. Every one of our kids is scared of it at first. We have to hold the spider ourselves and pet it before they will consider even being in the same room with the decoration. After we have held it a few times, we ask them if they want to hold it themselves. After watching us, they are eventually willing to give it shot. Remember to not force them to engage, just offer.
  • If store displays still make them uncomfortable, consider leaving them at home while you run your errands. 

Is your child scared of the costumes?

  • Encourage non-scary costumes. Leave out the blood and gore. Instead of ghosts and goblins, encourage them to dress up as a character they are familiar with. This might include a favorite T.V., movie, or book character. You could also suggest they dress up as the people they pretend to be every day while they play. When our daughter was little she didn’t want to wear a costume, but she loved to play “teacher”. We suggested she be a teacher for Halloween and it solved our costume problem. This helped us with our son also. When he was little he liked to pretend to be different animals. He didn’t really care for costumes either, but when I asked him if he wanted to be a dog, his animal of the week, he was all for it. 
  • Encourage them to dress up before Halloween night so they can become more comfortable with their costume. Playing make believe in their costumes will also help them understand the difference between real and make believe. When Halloween night rolls around, wearing the costume wont be a big deal at all. 
  • Forgo the masks. Small children usually don’t like masks, lots of makeup, or things on their heads. Don’t make them part of their costumes. Instead, put their costume on and then apply a few basic details with face paint. Keep it simple. Too much face paint could irritate their skin and bug them. 
  • Dress them up as themselves. If your little one is uncomfortable with costumes and face paint, have them pick out their favorite outfit, and dress up as themselves. Who better for them to be than them. :)

Is your child nervous about Trick-or-Treating?

  • Practice trick-or-treating. Have your child ring your door bell. When you answer, have them say trick-or-treat and give them a little something. Remind them to say thank you, and then have them practice again. This will make trick-or-treating less scary because they will know what to expect. 
  • If your little one is scared to go door-to-door, plan on only visiting a few houses that they are already familiar with. Start with your immediate neighbors that they say hi to everyday. Visit friend’s homes where they have play dates and relatives homes if they live near by. 
  • Trick-or-treat before it gets dark. It is much less scary to walk to a new door when it is still light outside. With your trick-or-treating done early, you can head home when it gets dark and let your little one help you answer the door for the trick-or-treaters. Or, if you want to stay out as a family, you can put your little one in a stroller and continue on together. Let them eat one of their treats and you will have a happy little monster. 
  • If your child is shy or scared, go to the door with them. You can even say trick-or-treat for them. After a few doors, they will start to understand how things work and want to be involved. It is also fun to have them go to the door with an older sibling. This will make them feel more comfortable. 
  • Talk to your child about what will happen Halloween night. Prepare them by verbally explaining what they will be doing. Talk to them about what is happening as you trick-or-treat also. Communicating will do much to curb nerves. You can even point out how other kids are trick-ot-treating so they can see examples. 
  • If your child insists they don’t like being out and want to go home, take them home. There is no need to force them up to people’s doors. 
As parents it is easy to let our expectations for holidays temporarily override what might be best for our children. We want them to dress up, look cute, and make wonderful memories. We might need to let go of our agenda, and consider how they are really feeling. If your child is afraid, respect their fears and let them wait to be more involved next year. Put them in the stroller, pack their favorite snacks, and let them watch their older siblings and the other neighborhood kids. If you are just going out for them, stay home and let them help you answer the door instead. They will love giving out candy and it will give them an opportunity to experience the holiday from the security of their own home. 
What are your children going to be for Halloween?
Do you have a Halloween Scaredy-Cat?

Have a question or just want to say hello.

Don’t Deny How They Feel

It’s time once again for Heather Johnson from Family Volley to share with us some Parenting Tips as part of her Parenting Tips” here on The Idea Room. Here’s Heather in her own words and sharing how parents should support kids and their interests.

–Amy

Are your kids throwing temper tantrums? Is there arguing and power struggles between you and your children?

It is easy to think it is our children’s fault when their behavior is sub-par. Truth of the matter, it is often our fault as their parents. How? Because as parents, we can make things with our children worse instead of better, when we deny how they are feeling.

What do we mean. Well, here are two examples. Have you ever had conversations like this?

Child: “Mom, I am hungry”

You: “No, you’re not hungry, you just ate.”
Or
Child: “Mom, I don’t want my coat on, I am hot”
You: “You’re not hot, it’s freezing outside. Leave your coat on.”

Can’t you hear the arguments that are about to start. 

“But mom, I am reeeeeeaaaaaally hungry.”
“I just fixed you lunch, you don’t need more food.”
“I know, and I ate my lunch, but I am stiiiiiiiill hungry.”
“You said you were full, you don’t need any more food.”
And on and on and on…. An argument has started. It is probably accompanied by whining, nagging, frustration, and maybe even a temper tantrum or two.

Here is what is funny. There were not any tantrums or arguing until AFTER WE DENIED HOW OUR CHILDREN FELT.

What happens, is that we are constantly denying our children’s feelings. This makes them feel confused and mad, and leads to misbehavior. They don’t feel like they are understood and they stop trusting their own feelings and intuitions. They feel like they have run into a brick wall. A dead end where no one listens and no one understands. So they act out.
We must accept our children’s feelings. It is how THEY feel. Who are we to tell them that how THEY feel is wrong. When we accept our kids and their thoughts and feelings, they feel more respected, more loved and there will be less power struggles because they feel validated and understood.
Just like with adults, it isn’t so much a solution our kids need, as it is to be understood and accepted.

What should we do? How can we respond?

Before we say a single word, we need to be empathetic, and put ourselves in their shoes.
Think about the life of a child for a minute. They have someone telling them what they can and can not do, all. day. long. They are told when to sleep, what to eat, when to play, what to wear. And now, we are also telling them how to feel?
What if you said you were tired, and your husband responded, “You can’t be tired, you got plenty of sleep last night.”

This type of response would not sit well with us at all. It would be frustrating and upsetting. In my head I would be thinking, “How do you know if I am tired or not, or if I got enough sleep for me?” You can quickly see why our kids get so upset.

Stop just for a minute and think about how your kids feel. When I am hungry, I am miserable. I want to eat. When I am hot, I want to take off my coat. Our children are miserable when they are hungry also. They want to eat. When they are hot, they want to take their coat off also.

Second, evaluate why you are denying their feelings.

Most of the time we deny their feelings because it will take extra work for us to acknowledge their feelings. If they are hungry we have to get them more food and clean up more dishes. If they don’t want to wear their coat, we have to carry it. Or put it right back on them when they announce they are now cold.
Do some soul searching and find the root of the reason for the denial. It will teach us a lot about ourselves.

Then, instead of trying to counsel them, give advice our tell them they are wrong, RESPOND WITH A SIMPLE COMMENT…


“Is that so”
“Really”
“I see”
“Oh”
“Hmmmm”


A simple comment response works wonders. Here is an example.

A while ago our daughter came to me to tell me about something her brother had done. She was playing with the baby and he came in to the room and started taking over, trying to get the baby to play with him.

Instead of counseling her, or getting on her, or telling her it wasn’t a big deal and she should “get over it” (all things I wanted to say), I just said, “hmmm, really?”

Guess what happened? She looked at me, said… “yes he did, he always does that”. And then she ran off to play.

She just wanted her feelings to be validated.

If I had tried to figure out who was in the wrong, or solve the problem, or said anything else, it would have turned into a “power struggle”. Instead, once she felt validated, she dropped it and moved on.

Remember, we should always accept how our children feel. It is okay and normal to feel hungry, frustrated, irritated, happy, excited, and/or mad.

We shouldn’t always accept how our children act. If they are throwing a fit, hitting, or whining because they are hungry, frustrated, or mad, that is NOT okay.

Give it a try. Today, when you are talking with your children, put yourself in their shoes and accept their feelings without any strings attached. Without judging or doubting, or trying to prove them wrong. You will see far less arguments, power struggles and temper tantrums. This will make for a much happier household. 

 


Have you ever told your child they weren’t hungry because they just ate?
heather johnson

Raising Our Girls

It’s time once again for Heather Johnson from Family Volley to share with us some Parenting Tips

as part of her “Parenting Tips” here on The Idea Room. Here’s Heather in her own words with some tips for building self esteem in your girls…

–Amy

how-to-raise-girls



With three daughters, my husband and I are constantly worrying about all the pressure that society puts on them. Times are very different from when I was a young girl. The pressures to look a certain way, and dress a certain way are even more intense. 

It is hard to raise a daughter who is self-confident and happy amid a world that encourages little girls to surround themselves in nothing but pink and tiaras while they dream of fairy tale romance. Nothing is wrong with pink and fairy tales, but along with the pink can come a belief that our worth as women is tied to how we look at what we wear. Which isn’t true. This mentality is not just limited to young girls. I feel plenty of pressure as a grown women.
We want our daughters to grow up healthy, happy and confident, with a clear sense of their own potential and the opportunity to fulfill it. But, our girls are growing up in a world that tells that that regardless of their age, the surest way to accomplish your goals, is to look like a princess. 

Studies show that young girls today face more pressure than ever to be “princess perfect”. Not only do they have to get straight A’s, but they have to be fashionable, beautiful and kind. They are exposed to media that makes them worry about being pretty and sexy. Studies show that many media advertisements have a negative impact on a girl’s self-esteem. 

Our oldest daughter is almost 8 and she is already bombarded with pressure from the media and from her peers. I can already see how society is telling her that how she looks matters more than who she is. I worry about what is to come. I hope that executives at big companies like Disney and Mattel don’t sit around in their board meetings and try to think of ways to sexualize our young girls. But “princesses” sell, and so these companies are going to keep pushing the stereotypes at our girls. 

Although society is targeting our young girls, we are still their parents, and responsibility lies on us. We want to blame the media, but ultimately, as parents, we do have a final say.

So what can we as parents do to help our girls deal with the “princess perfect” pressure?

1. Watch what we say.
As parents, we need to make sure that our comments don’t teach our girls that success and happiness is defined by how we look and what we wear. This applies to the comments we make about ourselves and our looks, as well as the comments we make about others. If we are constantly complaining about how we look, and /or constantly commenting on how others looks, this can have a negative effect on our girls. 

2. Praise our girls for their strengths and effort.
This goes along with the first point. If you have a girl, monitor what you say to her in a 24 hour period. What is the focus of your comments? Naturally we comment on how cute they are, “you look so pretty”, “I love your dress”, ” you look like a princess”.
Instead of commenting on their looks, praise and comment on the effort they put into things and for the areas they are strong. Society will bombard them with feelings about clothes and looks. As parents we need to teach them they are strong and capable.

3. Give them challenges.
Provide challenges for our girls. Kids don’t wake up and think “I am going to make myself do something hard today”. We have to help provide them with challenges that they can overcome. This helps them believe in themselves and translates into future challenges. It builds their worth, based on their talents, abilities, and work ethic, instead of their looks and clothes. It also helps them keep a sense of reality.

4. Monitor what your girls are exposed to. Parents do have a say.

T.V shows, music, magazines, clothing, friends and toys can all give our girls the wrong message about where their worth lies. Be careful what you let in your home. Be cautions what your girls are exposed to. 

5. Love them.

Whether they like princesses or frogs, pink or green, keep your arms wide open at all times so that kids know they are loved. Loved for who they are, not because of how they look. They will face much rejection from society. Especially because no one is the “perfect princess”. Our girls need to always know we have their back and we love them because they are kind and funny and smart and sensitive, clever and wonderful. Loved because they are them. Plain and simple. 

Do you think society pressures our girls?

 

Do you feel pressure from society as an adult?


Supporting Our Kids in THEIR Passions…NOT Ours

It’s time once again for Heather Johnson from Family Volley to share with us some Parenting Tips as part of her

Parenting Tips” here on The Idea Room. Here’s Heather in her own words…

–Amy

Our son is ten years old and has started playing competitive sports. I don’t know if I can handle it. Any of you ever felt this way?

You see, I
grew up playing sports. I was involved. I wanted to be the best.
My husband was the same way.
As we have gotten older, we have put aside a lot of our competitive drive. We don’t need it like we used to.
But now, as we sit and watch our son play, it all comes back. All of it. The
fight, the drive, the need to win and to be the best. I even miss the
confrontation and physicality that comes with playing sports.
We both assumed our son would be the same way we were, when it came to competing.
But… he isn’t…

*Our son is more passive. The fight is in him, I have seen it. But he is
not big on physical contact. His first thought is not to body-check
someone under the hoop.

*Our son feels that if he is part of the winning team then he has done
great. Regardless of how he performed. (What? I keep trying to tell him this is
not true.)

*On top of that, our son likes to analyze. He thinks everything through. He needs to know the why’s behind what is being done.

*To make matters worse. He is an unbelievable athlete. He is tall,
strong, and smart. His hand eye coordination is fantastic. He has been
golfing since he was two. It is frustrating to sit there and watch him
NOT use his talents.

All of this is so foreign to us. We try to teach him to
get physical, to fight and to force. We try to instill the NEED to be
the best, to not settle for any less. Instead, we watch him on the basketball court as he analyzes everything happening in the gym except his own
game. (Heaven forbid he pay attention.)

As I sit and watch, it is all I can do to not yell… “NONE OF THAT MATTERS. GET THE REBOUND AND SHOOT THE BALL.” It is really hard to sit on the sidelines and watch.

We have asked him if he wants to play and he continues to make it clear that he does.

So here we sit. Wanting more from our son. Wanting to change him and
feeling like our expectations are not being met. After all, we are
athletes in this family. Right! RIGHT!!!

Have you ever felt this way?

Maybe you don’t feel this way about sports, but about something else. Maybe it’s playing a musical instrument or getting good grades in school.

Raising children is tricky. We often have ideals in our minds of how our children should be. When they don’t meet those ideals, when they don’t score 50 points a game, or get the lead in the recital, we feel disappointed.

But… acting this way towards our children is not going to better our relationship with them.

Here are a few suggestions that will ease this burden for both you and your child.

1. We need to stop assuming. We have always expected our son would be just like we were, like his
uncles, grandpas, and great-grandpas. But maybe he isn’t, and that’s okay. We need to let go of the assumptions and enjoy/accept the reality.

2. Our job is to provide opportunities. As parents our job isn’t to choose what our children like and don’t like. It is to provide opportunities for them so they can explore and then decide for themselves what they like and don’t like. We have seen this with our son. We are letting him explore lots of activity options. Although he likes most things, he is passionate about swimming and golf. We are seeing a “fire in his eyes” and an internal passion for participation. My husband and I both play golf, but the swimming is fairly new to both of us. We have had to learn the rules of competition and the in’s and out’s of the sport. It has been good for us as parents to learn how to support him in his passion.

3. We shouldn’t compare our children to other kids. Pointing out that Johnny scored 10 points, why didn’t you?, will not help our kids, or our relationships get better. We can’t compare our kids to others. They are unique and individual. Comparison will make our children resent us and make them feel inadequate. They will begin to think you would love them more if they were someone else.

4. Don’t force your dreams or missed opportunities on your children. It is easy to want our children to do all the things we didn’t get to do. Remember, it is not their job to re-do, or re-live our lives. They have their own lives to live. They shouldn’t be expected to make up for things we didn’t do. We want our children to accomplish goals and reach dreams, but we need to make sure they are THEIR goals and THEIR dreams. Take a minute to evaluate why you want your kids to do certain things. Are the motives pure? Do we really have their best interest in mind? Or our interest in mind.

5. Support, don’t push. As parents we need to be supportive of our children, but not be pushy or forceful. Most children don’t have a clue what they want to pursue in life. We should offer suggestions and then be supportive as our children discover the paths they want to take.

6. We can’t let our own self image get in the way. It is easy to worry about how our children’s actions make us look as parents. We have to let go of that. Just because our son isn’t the star of the basketball team, doesn’t mean I am less of a mother. Or that I need to make excuses to justify the situation. He likes swimming better than basketball. So what.

7. Focus on their strengths, instead of their weaknesses. Although he might not be cut throat in basketball, our son is a good boy. The best. He is kind, compassionate, sensitive, respectiful and obedient. He is a hard worker. He always tries to do what is right. He is smart and does well in school. He is constantly trying to learn new things. He has an amazing ability to understand math and science. He is funny and has a great sense of humor. He is helpful, always looks out for others and is a great big brother. He is inquisitive and focused. There don’t come any better than him.

We need to stay focused on how wonderful our children are, instead of the fact that they don’t care much about getting the rebound.

Is it hard for you to watch your kids play sports?

Do you ever force your dreams on your kids?

Pretzel Face – A Game For The Whole Family

It’s time once again for Heather Johnson from Family Volley to share with us some Parenting Tips as part of her

“Parenting Tips” here on The Idea Room. Here’s Heather in her own words…

–Amy


It is true, Families that Play Together, Stay Together. But, playing together can be really hard when our lives get crazy busy with school schedules and all the after school activities and responsibilities.

To keep our families strong, decide now to spend time together every week. A great way to do this is to “calendar it”. What does this mean? It means if we really want our families to spend time together, we have to put it on the calendar just like all our other appointments. Otherwise it just won’t happen.

When we do spend time together, it doesn’t have to be extravagant or expensive. Simple games and activities, with supplies we already have at home are so fun.

Here is one of our families favorite games to play together. Play with your family, you will love it and make memories at the same time.

Pretzel Face

You will want to get out the camera. This game is hilarious.

Here’s how you play.
You will need…

Pretzels

You will want 10 or so for each player. NOT the straight stick kind. Have extras on hand.  
and
Your Face

How to play…
Everyone starts by balancing a pretzel on their forehead. Then, using only your face, you have to get the pretzel into your mouth. You CAN NOT use your hands, or anything else for that matter. 

You can’t flip it into your mouth, instead you have to use your face muscles to work the pretzel down your face and into your mouth. 

If the pretzel falls (and doesn’t break) pick it up and put it back on your forehead and start again. If it does break when it falls, get a new pretel, put it on your forehead and get moving. 

The first person to get three pretzels into their mouth wins. 

Even the littlest of players can be involved in this game. Our two year old loves to play along. 

You can all compete at the same time, or, if you want to watch because it is so funny, have everyone play one at a time and see how long it takes. Then compare times to come up with a winner.

You probably have pretzels in the cupboard. Pull them out and have some family fun. 

Want more fun family games and activities? Check out “Family Fun Friday’s”.  The book that is filled with all your family needs to play together. 


Supporting What We Don’t Like

It’s time once again for Heather Johnson from Family Volley to share with us some Parenting Tips as part of her

“Parenting Tips” here on The Idea Room. Here’s Heather in her own words and sharing how parents should support kids and their interests.

–Amy

There are so many things I love about summer. I love having the kids home, I love not having to have all of us dressed and out the door by 8, I love the pool everyday, and I love the extra sunlight. 

There is one thing I don’t like. Summer means the kids are outside every day, playing in the grass and dirt. I don’t like dirt. I would rather clean our toilets, than go outside and garden, or be in the dirt. One of the major reasons I don’t like dirt is because bugs live in dirt. And so do spiders and worms. I don’t like bugs. 
Now that the kids have been out of school for two months, they have found lots of bugs, worms, and other creepy crawly things they want to show me. Lots that they want to put in jars and save and feed. 

The kids don’t know I don’t like dirt and bugs. When they got out of school, I put on my game face and started to pretend the best I could.


Why? Because our children’s understandings and likes and dislikes are influenced by us. If we say we don’t like something, or it is bad, that is how they will probably feel also.

Limiting them, to only the things we like, can stifle their growth and development. We have to be open minded and not let our preferences limit our children. We have to let them explore and adventure and discover.

It is normal and okay for our kids to like things we don’t. That is the beauty of each of us as individuals. Life would be boring any other way.

So what can we do when our kids like something we don’t? What do we do when our kids like dirt and bugs and we can’t stand them?

Provide (Resources, Supplies, Location).
Provide resources. Take a trip to the library and check out books about what they like. Find websites and even classes in the community that help them learn more about their “likes”.


Provide supplies. I might not want to go outside and dig in the dirt, but I am happy to provide our kids with lots of supplies to explore the dirt and bugs. Shovels, rakes, and buckets etc… And when they holler that they need a mason jar to put their latest find, I am happy to provide that supply also. I even poke holes in the top for them. (I just try not to touch the bug). 

Our son loves to collect rocks. So a month or so ago, I saved an egg carton for him to use to “classify” his collection. Rocks are dirt to me, but he thought it was the greatest thing ever and felt that I supported his “likes”.

Provide a location for them to cultivate their “likes”. This might mean a place to keep their mason jars with bugs, or their rocks. A special place to keep their supplies so they can get them out when they want. We have a rule that you can’t bring bugs, dirt, sticks, or rocks in the house. So they have a special place in the garage to keep those things they want to collect. Our son complained that he needed his rocks in his room. So we compromised and as long as he washes his rocks first, then he can keep them in his room in his “special drawer”. It might sound silly, but it works great for all of us.


Listen. 
We don’t have to like the same things, but just listening to their excitement and discoveries will make them feel supported. Listen to their adventures and ask them questions. The questions will help their excitement grow and will cultivate a relationship between the two of you. Consider it bonding. (Remember the power of listening first. It will improve behavior also!) If you can’t listen because you have heard about it a lot, or maybe you get the heeby-geebies, find someone who can listen.
When our kids want to talk bugs, I have them call my mom. She is really good about bugs. “You know who would love to hear about your bug, grandma, let’s call her”

Research.
Take a few minutes and learn about what your children like. Do some of your own research so you have more to talk about with them. The funny thing, when we start to learn about what they like, we start to like it a little more too. I have found this with dirt and bugs. (And even motorcycles with my husband). They aren’t nearly as bad as I think, when I start to learn about them. Learning about our kids likes, will also show our kids we care about them.

Stop thinking about ourselves.
When I reeeaaalllyyy don’t want anything to do with dirt and bugs, I think about my kids. I look into their eyes and see their excitement. I think about being a child and the sense of exploration that comes with growing up. I stop thinking about the laundry and all that I have to do and I go out with them. And then, all of a sudden, I see it from their perspective and everything changes.

Fake it till you make it.
When all else fails, pretend. Our kids don’t know how much I don’t like dirt and bugs. They don’t need to know. If I give them that information, I know it will squelch their sense of exploration. It’s true, sometimes I fake it, and before I know it, I have made it.

It is okay to not like everything our kids like, but it is important we support them so we don’t hinder their learning and growth. Who knows, maybe our son will become a botanist, or geologist. That might not happen if I hinder his “likes” just because they aren’t my favorite.


What does your child like that you don’t?
How do you support your kids in their latest “passion?”

Let’s Go Outside and Play

It’s time once again for Heather Johnson from Family Volley to share with us some Parenting Tips as part of her

“Parenting Tips” here on The Idea Room. Here’s Heather in her own words with a great article to help kids Get Outside and Play

–Amy

Since the early 80′s there has been a dramatic change in where children spend their time. The “inside movement” started because parents were afraid of their children being kidnapped is now fueled by technology (and laziness). The “inside movement” is keeping kids inside the house, in front of televisions, computers, and video games. Research shows that the number one activity families do together, is watch TV.

There are good things that can come from watching the right televisions shows and using technology, but even better things come to families (and couples) who participate in outdoor activities. They are happier, healthier, and more satisfied with their relationships. 
As parents we need to encourage our children to get outside and play. Here are a few suggestions.
1. Turn off the technology.
TV and video games should not be our go-to activities for our kids or our families. Turn them off. When kids come home from school, once homework and other responsibilities are done, send them outside. In our house we have a rule that there is no TV on weekdays. It has created an atmosphere where our kids are always asking to go out and play, instead of asking to watch TV.
During the summer, set rules around when and how much TV is watched. Don’t let every morning start with TV.  
This applies to us also. We need to turn off the computer and phone and get some fresh air. Getting fresh air with our kids and spouse is even better. 
2. Dirt don’t hurt.
Remember your childhood? Running around outside, exploring and adventuring. There was some dirt involved, and it didn’t kill us. Dirt is okay. Dirty is okay. I am not suggesting that my kids are going out to roll in the mud today. They better not!I still teach them to be respectful of their things, but we can’t get mad at our kids if they come in a little dirty. And we can’t keep them inside so that WE don’t have to do more laundry.
3. Use the resources you have.
Kids love water and grass, dirt, leaves and plants. Send them out to water the plants. To gather different sizes of sticks, or different shapes of leaves. Being outside is all about creativity and imagination. It doesn’t have to be perfectly structured. Instead look to what you have around the house that can be used outside, and look at what is outside that can be made fun. When we were kids we used to take popsicle sticks and race them down the gutters in the water. We would race those sticks for hours. Chasing them up and down the street. I bet you have craft sticks in your supply right now. Grab them and let your kids have a go at it.
Our girls love to take plastic silverware outside and have pretend picnics. They use long reeds and leaves to weave placemats and then make “food” out of flowers and leaves etc… They have so much fun just using the resources in our own backyard.They also love to be sent on scavenger hunts around the yard, and the neighborhood.
That said, another way to use the resources you already have, is to do inside things, outside. Why not eat breakfast AND lunch outside, even dinner. Why not have your kids do their homework outside sometimes, read outside, walk to the neighbors to drop something off instead of drive. Even build your fort or tent outside instead of inside. Our kids love to play their board games outside instead of in. Simple, but powerful ways to get us outside and into nature. I even take the laundry outside to fold it sometimes.
4. Be a good example. 
If we are always inside, afraid of dirt, on the computer, our kids will do the same things. We have to show them the benefits of being outside, by going outside with them. Remember, children will do for the most part, what their parents do.  If we spend our free time inside with technology, so will they. Solid research shows that parents who are inactive, will have children who are inactive. It also goes the other way. Parents who are active, are more likely to have active children. We need to set a good example.
5. Forget the household chores.
There will always be something to do inside. Laundry, cleaning, scrubbing. I find that the thought of all I have to do can keep me inside all day. Don’t let it suck you in. Go out and play. Those experiences you are having with your children outside will be remembered long after the laundry and dishes.
6. Plan ahead.
Plan a time for your family to be outside every week. Maybe that means Saturday morning you go for a hike together, or walk to the store to get groceries, or explore a new part of your city on foot. It is much more likely to happen if you put it on the calendar and plan ahead.
As a family, we love to take walks after dinner every night. Sometimes our walks take us to the snow cone shack, sometimes they are just a quick walk around the block. Either way, the fresh air and time together helps us reconnect each day.
Something that we have gotten into as a family, and schedule on our calendar is geocaching. Geocaching uses GPS to find hidden treasures in your area. Go to geocaching.com to find all the treasures you can hunt for. Our family loves it and looks forward to Saturday mornings when we choose another route and treasure to find. This is also great for our son who loves technology. And is a good way to show our kids how we can use technology in healthier ways.
Outside encourages imagination and creativity. It causes us to adapt and negotiate and problem solve.
We need to make the outdoors a priority with our families, and for our children. If our kids are used to being inside with technology all day, they might complain a little at first. But over time, they will start to love being outside and begin to create their own imaginary adventures. Be strong and supportive, don’t give in. Continue to keep technology to a minimum and encourage outside play. It is good for our minds, and our bodies.

Tips for Traveling with Toddlers

It’s time once again for Heather Johnson from Family Volley to share with us some Parenting Tips as part of her “Parenting Tips” here on The Idea Room. Here’s Heather in her own words with some Tips for Traveling with Toddlers…

–Amy


Summer is here and it is the season for Family Vacations, Family Reunions and all sorts of Road Trips and Family Travel. Traveling with small children can be a challenge. But with some preparations, and patience, not only can your family trip be a great experience, but you will make memories your kids will never forget. 

Here are some suggestions, tips and tricks to make traveling with toddlers a great experience. 

LEAVE EARLY
There is nothing worse than trying to rush with children in tow. If you are flying, arrive early. Give your family time to check in, take your time to get to the gate and relax while you are waiting to bored the flight. This can be a really fun time to teach your children and point out new and exciting things.
If you are traveling by car expect extra bathroom stops and plan accordingly. The first road trip we took with young children my husband treated like the road trips we used to take without kids. No stops, just our destination. He learned quick. Expecting kids to sit for 8 hours and never move will make the trip miserable for everyone. Plan a stop or two for the kids to stretch their legs. Grab a popsicle when you get gas, or stop for an ice cream cone. The 10 minute break will really help.

REMEMBER YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR
Be sure you pack your sense of humor. Despite your diligent planning things might not go perfect. Travel usually means kids are missing naps and their routines are interrupted. Role with it. Laugh and be patient. When we stay patient and keep our heads clear, we are better able to solve the problems that will come and creatively deal with the meltdowns and delays.

DRESS COMFY
It is tempting to dress your kids in your favorite outfit so that when you arrive they are dressed “just so”. This will just make your kids uncomfortable during travel, and if you are like me, you will be uptight trying to keep the clothes clean.
Dress your kids in comfortable clothes and in layers. If you want to change them when you get close to your destination, plan for that. You will find that everyone travels better when you don’t have to worry so much about spills and wrinkles.
The layers will allow your children to be comfortable on the planes when they are cold, and they can take things off when they are not needed. Extra clothes also make good pillows and blankets. 

SNACKS AND MORE SNACKS
Be sure that you pack lots of fluids and snacks. Kids will get thirsty. Tired and thirsty in not a good combination. Even if you are carrying a little extra baggage to pack the snacks, do it any way. Pack their favorites and pack things that are fun. An assortment of crackers and fruits and veggies are great. For our kids, suckers are a treat, and they take time to eat. They are always in the travel bag. Suckers are awesome. So are Nerds. Might sounds silly, but I bring a few of the little tiny boxes of Nerds. The kids take forever to eat them as they pick them out of the box one by one. Now that our kids are a little older I will let them pick some of their favorites. It makes them feel like they are a part of the planning. Don’t pull all the snacks out at once. Little by little as needed. And always keep the best of the best for the break down or emergency. (Our kids love taking animal crackers. The ones that come in the little rectangle case with the string. They love carrying them.)

WRAP IT UP
I always get a few new toys or activities for the kids when we travel. They are small things like a new set of crayons and a new coloring or activity book. The dollar store is perfect for picking up inexpensive and fun little treats.  I also like to bring things that zip, button and snap. They keep little hands busy. Before we leave I like to wrap them up like little presents. The kids think it is so fun to open them and the opening itself takes time. I do the same with the special treats. Their favorite candy or cookie gets wrapped up.
Another great little find for us has been stickers. My mom introduced the idea when we were trying to get our first child through 3 hours of church.  I get them at the dollar store and then bring extra paper. The kids love taking them off and sticking them all over the paper. Our three year old and one year old loves this activity. It helps her get through not only plane trips and car trips, but church meetings also. :)

BRING THE FAVORITES
Asking your children to travel without their favorite toy, blanket, or stuffed animal can really make the trip miserable. If there is something that your child can’t live without, be sure you bring it with you. That said, there is always the possibility of it getting lost or left behind. Which can bring even more trauma. Be sure you check and double check so nothing is lost.
If your little one uses a pacifier, be sure you bring more than one. Even more than two. Bring a couple of their favorites and something to keep the pacifier attached to them. The last thing you want is to try and find a pacifier rolling around under plane seats, or under car seats.
I also use pacifier clips to keep favorite toys off the plane floor and from getting lost in the car.

BRING THE UMBRELLA…
…Stroller that is. Asking tired little legs to keep up in airports is asking a lot. Especially if you are trying to catch connecting flights and are forced to rush. It is worth it to carry-on a very small umbrella stroller to put your toddler in as you are changing planes, walking through the airport, waiting for your rental car/ride, or walking to the parking lot. You can buy them for less that 10 dollars and they are very light weight and compact. Plus, it makes a great place for them to sit while you are waiting and you can hook a bag or two on the handles as you walk. On top of that, having one on your trip is always nice.

MUSIC
Bring some music for your little ones. It can help sooth them and distract them. It can also help them calm down enough to fall asleep. Make sure you bring enough headphones for everyone to listen. You can get headphone splitters for less than 5 dollars. The splitter will let you plug more than one head phone into one jack.
Music in the car is wonderful also. Songs that they sing along to, or do actions to will help distract them as you travel.

TO EACH THEIR OWN
If you are traveling with more than one child, pack their toys, blankets and special things in separate bags. If they are old enough, let them help you pack the bags. They will pack the things they want to play with so you will know they will be happy. Keep the bags light so they can carry them and by separating things it will make everything easier to keep track of and find when you need them.


CALL YOUR AIRLINE
If you are traveling by plane, call and ask a few questions. They can tell you the guidelines for liquids, bottles, toiletries etc… The worst time to find out the rules is while you are holding your two year, in line, with no shoes on, watching them search through your bags. Especially during high travel time.

CALL YOUR DOCTOR
It doesn’t hurt to check in with your doctor before you leave. Ask what to do with motion sickness, car sickness etc.  They can tell you what to give your kids and how to help them if they do get sick while you are traveling. Be sure you have a few medications packed for easy access. Just in case. You don’t want them to be under the plane, or in the trunk when you need them.

BASIC PACKING LIST (VERY BASIC)
This will obviously be different depending on where you are traveling, but it is a good place to start.
Clothing
Include an outfit for each day of the week, plus an extra shirt or two in case of spills.
Have your kids wear bright colors on travel days so they are easy to spot in the crowd. I like to pack each day’s clothes in a separate ziplock bag. I include undies, socks, even shoes when I can with each outfit so I don’t have to sort through suitcases looking for clothes. Just grab the ziplock and everything is in it ready to go. This also makes things easier when my husband, or others help get kids ready. Instead of searching through the suitcase, I can just give them the bag and they can help. 

  • Sleepwear
  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Bathing suit (even if you don’t plan on swimming, you never know)
  • Lightweight jacket
  • Hat or visor 
  • Slip on shoes (these are great when you need to make a bathroom stop and when you are traveling on a plane)

Toiletries
Be sure you keep your toiletries in plastic bags. Not only for plane travel, but things open up in cars also. Even solid deodorants. Not that I would know from personal experience or anything.

  • Blow dryer, brushes, combs and hair “stuff”
  • Lotion
  • Toothbrushes, toothpaste
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Hair products 
  • Razor (be careful if you are flying, there are rules now)
  • Feminine items
  • Manicure kit
  • Cosmetics
  • Soap
  • Deodorant
  • Tweezers
  • Antibacterial gel (get the ones that clip to your bag so you don’t have to search for it)
  • Sunscreen (even if your trip is to the snow)
  • Lip balm (I like to give everyone their own)

Dont forget…

  • Paperwork: ID, driver’s license, insurance card, shot records for children under two, copies of birth certificates and marriage certificates if you are going out of the country, passports, copies of your travel plans and confirmation numbers.
  • Wallet with credit cards and CASH
  • Car keys and house keys (Take an extra set and pack them in a different bag)
  • Medications
  • Camera with film and extra batteries or charger
  • Small bag to use day to day
  • Books and magazines
  • Toys and games
  • Baby wipes (these really come in handy even if you are not changing diapers)
  • First aid kit
  • Sewing kit
  • Travel clock with an alarm
  • Large and small plastic bags (these can be used for everything from wet clothes to trash to toys and snacks. 
  • Chargers (for your camera, phones, video camera, etc.)
  • Car Seat for young children (you can also rent these from rental car companies if you don’t want to haul yours across the country)
Do you have any tips for traveling with small children?


Cure the Boredom, Once and For All

It’s time once again for Heather Johnson from Family Volley to share with us some Parenting Tips as part of her “Parenting Tips” here on The Idea Room. Here’s Heather in her own words…

–Amy

Mom, I am bored!” 
Anyone hearing this from their kids right about now? Two weeks into Summer Vacation and the kids are bored and wondering what to do?
Reasons for boredom are different for every child, but here are some thoughts and suggestions to help, and make the rest of your summer break more enjoyable.
Let’s start with some interesting findings…
Kids now are amongst the smartest ever raised, but they are also one of the most stressed-out generations. A recent study showed that 41% of children poled feel stressed most or all of the time because they have too much to do. Children need time to do “nothing” so that they can decompress and take in the world around them. There are proven benefits to learning to deal with boredom. People who are ranked low on the “boredom scale” are found to do better in their education and career and to have a higher degree of self sufficiency.

Kids need unstructured time…here are some suggestions. 

1. Don’t feel guilty if you don’t have every minute scheduled for your child. Encouraging “daydreaming” helps produce brain waves that boost creativity.

2. Take small steps. Start by setting aside a few minutes everyday that is unstructured. Have children play alone during this time. As they are better able to manage the unplanned time, increase this unstructured time as your child increases their ability to play alone.

3. Identify the problem: “I’m bored” means a lot of things. Get to the bottom of the problem. Do any of the following apply?

  •      Is your child hungry?
  •      Is you child over-scheduled?
  •      Is your child addicted to electronics? So they don’t know how to respond to an unplugged world?
  •      Does your child lack outside interests? 
  •      Is your child trying to avoid tasks because they are too difficult or frustrating and use boredom as an excuse to get out of completing them?
  •      Does your child need more challenge? Activities could be too easy or predictable, not stimulating and uninteresting.
  •      Does your child want approval or feel neglected?
  •      Have you always planned everything for your child? They have never had to entertain themselves because you always do it for them?

Your ultimate goal is to empower your children with the skills they need to create their own solutions for boredom.They will most likely need a little help at the beginning.

  • Create a boredom box, or boredom list. Work with your children to write down all the things that they can do when they are bored. Small children can draw pictures of their ideas and suggestions. Add your own ideas and keep the box or list readily accessible. We have our own list that sits on our fridge. We have two lists, one list of things to do inside and then an outside list. This helps us whether it is Summer or Winter. When I hear the words, “Mom, I’m bored”, I get the kids a snack and they sit down with the list. Our son and daughter can read, so they can pick their own activities off the list, our youngest can’t read yet, so I made her a list that only had pictures. She loves to look at the list and choose her favorite activities.
  • Read. Do all you can to get your kids to read. Check out books at the library. If they like sports, let them read the sports page, if they like to cook, like our daughter, let them read cookbooks. Reading anything is great. For Christmas last year we gave our children magazine subscriptions to children’s magazines. A new issue comes every month and they read them over and over. It gives them something to look forward to and because they are interested in the subject, they really get into reading them.
  • Rotate toys. If your children complain that they are getting bored with their toys, rotate them. Every six months I take toys and put them away. Then, six months later I put the toys the kids have been playing with away, and pull out the toys that have been packed away. My children think it is Christmas. They are so excited to play with the toys they haven’t seen for awhile. It keeps them interested and gives them new things to play with.
  • Help your child find a hobby or interest. Help your child find something they are passionate about and then give them the tools and skills to support the passion. Bugs, books, sports, anything.
  • Encourage creativity. Always have art and craft supplies available. We have a basket that holds all of the supplies that our kids can use themselves. When ever I finish a paper towel roll, or find random ribbons or bobbles that I don’t need, I put them into the basket. It is filled with all sorts of randomness. At first it was hard for me to keep “things” that I wanted to throw away. I designated a space in our home to hold the “things” and it has made a huge difference with our children. They help themselves to the supplies and are constantly creating pictures and sculptures and villages. Have a costume box. Kids love to dress up. Fill it with anything and everything that they could      wear. They will get creative and have a great time playing make believe. Encourage tents and and forts. This one was also hard for me at first. I didn’t always want the forts in the middle of the family room. We designated what blankets and pillows and areas could be used to make forts. It made things easier for me and for the kids. We also set guidelines for how long the tents can be up. The kids know they can build all they want, but at the end of the day, after Daddy has come home from work and seen what they have built, that they have to clean up also.
  • Cut back on electronics. Parents and children are always quick to use T.V, video games, computer time, as a solution to the bored problem. These electronics actually keep kids from being resourceful and creative.
  • Teach children to have patience and wait. Kids today, like a lot of adults, want instant gratification and constant stimulation. When there is nothing entertaining them, they don’t know what to do. Encourage them to do projects that can be stretched to longer than one sitting. Simple ways to do this: Have them start by drawing one picture, and then over a few weeks increase that to drawing a few more pictures. Then have them put words to their pictures, then bind the pages to make a book. Puzzles are great also. Start with a 25 piece and increase little by little, 50 piece, 75 piece etc.
It is important for parents to be willing to play with their children. It is vital to their development. It is also important to teach children how to entertain themselves. Seek out a healthy balance to raise children who can focus, imagine and create. If all else fails, suggest your kids work around the house. They will very quickly find something to entertain themselves. :)

What do you do when your kids complain about being bored?

Bringing Home Baby- Helping Older Children Adjust

It’s time once again for Heather Johnson from Family Volley to share with us some Parenting Tips as part of her “Parenting Tips” here on The Idea Room. Here’s Heather in her own words…

–Amy

Summer is upon us. Time for weddings and babies.

There is great joy in bringing home a new baby, but it can also be an adjustment phase for older siblings who might feel resentment and/or jealousy. They might even feel a little anger as they struggle to figure out their new place in the ever changing family dynamic.

An older sibling’s biggest concern is that there just won’t be enough love for them, with a new baby in the house.

As parents there are some things we can do to help create a smooth transition for our family and the new baby. 

1. Talk about what will NOT change.

Even though we know that things will change, it is important to talk to older children about what will stay the same. Kids like predictability. It makes them feel safe and secure. If they think the new baby will make everything in your family “different”, they won’t be very excited about the new baby.

2. Focus on their role as a big sibling.

Talk to your older children about how they will be great big brothers and sisters. Be smart about it though. Getting our older kids excited about things the baby can’t do until they are 5 (like playing tag), will create false hopes.

3. Don’t blame the baby.

We shouldn’t say “we can’t go ______ because of the baby.” This will teach our children to resent the new baby because he/she is keeping them from what they want, and changing how you would normally do things. Leave the baby out of it.

4. Let your children help make decisions.

There are lots of little decisions that your older children can make and do so they feel they are apart. They could choose some new clothes for the baby, or make decisions about the paint colors for the nursery. Have your kids make artwork and then frame it for the babies room. I even have some friends who let their kids help choose the babies name. One friend lets her children choose the baby’s middle name. What ever it is, involve siblings in making meaningful decisions when you are preparing for a new baby. When kids get to make decisions, they feel ownership and that they are included.

We have a really fun way we include our children when we have a new baby. We give each of them their own disposable camera and put them in charge of being the photographers. It makes them feel important and they have so much fun taking pictures at the hospital and after we bring the baby home. We make a big deal of developing the pictures and spend time as a family sitting down to look at all the memories they captured.

Once you bring the baby home…

Stick to your routine.

Remember that kids like things to be predictable. Try to keep things after the baby, the same as they were before the baby arrived. How? Think about the parts of your day and activities that mean the most to your children and do your best to make sure those things don’t change.

Control the Celebration.

It is normal to be excited about the new baby. But older siblings will start to resent the new addition if the constant cootchy-cooing makes them feel left out. Continue to pay attention to your older children and ask that family and friends do the same. I have a dear friend who always drops off dinner when we have a new baby. When she comes, instead of rushing to the new baby, she brings a small treat for our other kids and talks to them first. She congratulates them on being big brother/sister’s. It always makes them feel special.

Don’t make the baby off limits.

This one is always hard for me. Between post pregnancy hormones and lack of sleep, I catch myself wanting the kids to keep their distance from the new baby. But, we should work hard to let our kids be involved in the experience, and not make the baby off limits to our older children.

Have them read stories and sing to the baby. They can choose what the baby is going to wear and round up necessaries for the diaper bag. When we had our second child, I included our son who was 2 at the time, to do everything with us. He helped me bathe her by pouring water on her feet, he read stories to us as I nursed her, and made smiley faces at her when I dressed her. There are so many things our kids can do to help, and they will be much better behaved if we include them instead of shoo-ing them away.

Plan one-on-one time.

Spending one-on-one time with each of our children individually is one of the best ways to make the transition smooth. 15 minutes of individual time a day. As simple as this sounds, a new baby, new responsibilities and not a lot of sleep can make this simple suggestion sound impossible. Do all in your power to make it a priority. Take time to show older children pictures of when they were young. Watch home videos of them as babies. Talk about how cute they were and what a special time it was when they were babies. Go get a special treat and talk, visit the library, play ball, read to them, draw together. Show them Love. Remember, love is spelled T-I-M-E.

Take some time pre-baby to think about the ways you can prepare your older children. When the baby arrives and your mind has been taken over by sleeplessness and hormones, the transition will be one less thing to worry about.

Do you have a baby on the way? When are you due?

Have any of your children struggled with jealousy towards a new addition?

 

 






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