raisingkidswithlove

You don't have to be perfect to be the perfect parent!

Cars and Planes….Entertaining Your Kids for Happy Travels!


family vacation

So, you have your vacation booked, you are packed, and now you are thinking about how you will entertain your child in the car or on the plane! 

Long trips are even longer when you have children who are fussy and bored!  We traveled to the beach each year by car, and took the occasional flight when our children were young.  I had quite a few tricks up my sleeve to keep everyone content (at least mostly content) on the way.  Early on we learned that the trip to and from our destination had to become part of the “vacation”.  In other words, we had to have that vacation mentality and enjoy that part of the trip too!  You can have fun driving with a carload of kids I promise!

Traveling by car allows you to see some great areas that you may not experience if in a hurry.  During our yearly trip to the beach we found small towns, festivals, touristy attractions, and great parks for picnics.  We soon learned that getting out of the car and enjoying the trip made it much more fun for everyone.  Lunch is much better in a park where everyone can run and play than sitting quietly in a restaurant!  Leaving early in the morning and stopping early in the late afternoon allowed the kids to play, swim, and become familiar with the hotel we were sleeping in that night.  We learned the hard way that pulling into a hotel after a long day of driving at bedtime only resulted in crying children and frustrated parents.  An early stop always resulted in kids settling in for the night easier and an earlier start the next morning.

Entertaining kids on a flight or in the car sometimes takes some creativity.  A mixture of new toys and old favorites usually works.  Some toys were “special” vacation toys that were only used on long trips.  We didn’t have the DVD players so common now, but our kids were very excited about the special travel toys we kept just for our long trips.  You might think about using your DVD player for that purpose.

Here are a few ideas that may work for you.  I found packing the toys in a bag and getting them out one at a time as needed worked well.  Sometimes even wrapping the new ones made it so much fun to unwrap and see the new surprise toy!  A trip to the dollar store or the Target Dollar Aisle is a great place to pick up some of those new items.

  1. Travel sized magnetic games.
  2. Travel sized Magna Doodle or Aqua Doodle.
  3. Sticker Books
  4. Activity Books
  5. Crayons and markers (remember to bring the crayons out of the car if it is warm weather…trust me they can melt and make a mess!)
  6. Reusable stickers or “clings” that can be put on car or plane windows.
  7. Wikki Stix or pipe cleaners
  8. Painter’s tape (makes great “roads” on tray tables, fun to tear and stick, easy to remove, great for childproofing in hotel rooms!)
  9. Finger puppets
  10. New books and favorite books
  11. Favorite music
  12. Movies
  13. Bubbles (fun to blow in the car!)
  14. Small cars, favorite dolls, stuffed animals
  15. Cookie sheet with magnets
  16. Water paint books
  17. Reusable sticker “clings” for windows or “Colorforms” type books

Treat bags became a vacation tradition with our kids.  We always packed a few snacks, some healthy and some special treats.  To this day, I pack a “treat bag” even for my husband and me when we head out on a road trip!  Slow down, stop, let your child out to run and then provide a quiet activity once back in the car seat or on the plane.  Take a deep breath and enjoy having your family contained in one spot…something that, believe it or not, you will look forward to when your children are a bit older and busier.  Talk, sing, snack, and maybe even nap on the way (not the driver of course!!) :)…Family vacations are simply time together, time together doing something different….so be sure that your vacation begins when you leave your house.  The trip to and from your vacation CAN be fun too! What do you bring to make your travels more fun?  Share your ideas!!!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

Taking Care of Your Child’s Teeth


This cute little smile cost us several thousand dollars later to straighten it out….but worth it!

There is nothing cuter than a toothless grin of a baby.  Next the cute little pearly whites that erupt create a darling smile, then there is a toothless grin again as the tooth fairy starts to make visits to your home, and then soon your child will have  two big front teeth that look way too big for their mouth.  As your child grows, their dental needs change too.  Why is dental health so important for children? Dental decay is the most common chronic childhood illness.  There are at least 4 million preschoolers who have had at least one cavity.  Forty to fifty percent of children will have cavities before the age of five.  51 million school hours are lost each year due to dental health problems.  The American diet is high in sugar, and we are using more and more  non-fluoridated bottled water for drinking.  This all adds up to an increase in dental cavities, and a decrease in dental health of our children.  Children with cavities in their primary or “baby” teeth have more problems with poor weight gain, iron deficiency, speech problems and poor dental health as adults.  Taking care of our children’s teeth is part of good health care!

I.  When do baby teeth form and erupt?

  •  The primary teeth or baby teeth begin to form before your baby is born at about the 14th 19th week of pregnancy.  The crown, or the white part of the tooth that is seen, continues to develop until several weeks to several months after your child is born.
  • Total of 20 baby teeth, 10 on top and 10 on the bottom by about age 3.
  • The first tooth to appear usually is the lower central incisors (the bottom two teeth) around 6 months of age.  Don’t panic if your baby’s first tooth isn’t the lower two teeth…some baby’s teeth erupt to the beat of their own drummer!
  • Teething can be painful for infants.  Babies explore their world with their mouths, and during teething this can be uncomfortable.  There can be redness, swelling in the gums, drooling, increase in finger sucking, and the need to bite and chew on any object.  Some babies will pull at ears or rub their jaw line, teething pain is often referred to the ear area.
  • Sometimes parents will see a “blister” where the tooth is about to erupt, this is normal.
  •  Many babies  like a clean teething ring, frozen wash cloth, frozen fruit in a mesh feeder, frozen bagel or mom’s fingers to rub the gums.
  • You can give acetaminophen, or ibuprofen (after 6 months of age) to help with the pain.  Ibuprofen is a bit more effective for inflammation of the gums, but wait until your baby is at least 6 months to use this!
  • Do NOT place oral numbing ointments on your baby’s gums.  These over the counter remedies contain benzocaine. These treatments have little or no benefit and can cause a serious and sometimes fatal decrease in oxygen carried in your child’s bloodstream. Benzocaine is an ingredient in common treatments like Orajel, Baby Orajel, Anbesol and Orabase.
  • Do NOT use homeopathic teething tablets. The FDA found there was inconsistent amounts of  the toxic substance belladonna in these teething tablets.
  • Teething pain usually occurs for 3 to 4 days prior to the tooth breaking through the gum.  Pain should decrease once the tooth breaks through the gum line.  There may still be some discomfort for a few days after.  It is not a month-long process unless your baby is cutting multiple teeth one after the other.
  • Teething does NOT cause a fever, vomiting, diarrhea or cold symptoms.  If your baby has any of these symptoms with teething, he or she is probably ill too.
  • Teething can cause an increase in drooling which can lead to a rash or irritation around the mouth and on a baby’s chest.  Keep the area dry by changing shirts frequently, using absorbent bibs, and “water proofing” the skin with ointments.

II. When is the first dental visit?

  • The first dental visit should be after the first tooth and/or by age 1.  It is important to have your child’s first teeth examined.  Dental problems can begin early.  Children with healthy teeth can eat better, develop better speech, and dental cavities can cause a permanent state of infection in your child.
  •  Usually the first visit is just a visual exam—usually on mom of dad’s lap.  Going to the dentist is just like a well child exam at your child’s doctor.  We want to be sure we support healthy teeth, not just see the dentist when there is a problem!

III.  How do you care for the first teeth?

  • Wipe your baby’s first teeth using a  wash cloth or gauze or a soft bristled baby toothbrush.  Ideally, your baby’s teeth should be wiped or brushed twice a day.  Once in the morning and once before bed.  The earlier your child becomes accustomed to wiping or brushing their teeth, the easier it will be.
  • You can use a small smear (about the size of a grain of rice) of fluoride toothpaste on your child’s tooth or teeth until age 3 and then a pea size amount after age 3.  Fluoride is important!  It helps strengthen your child’s teeth and prevent decay.
  • You should help your child brush teeth until at least age 6.  Children are not coordinated enough to brush teeth well before that.   Sometimes this will be a battle, but it is worth the battle.  We want to form good dental hygiene habits early!  Do what you have to do to get teeth brushed. Check out these tooth brushing songs published by the American Dental Association (ADA). https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/kids-brushing-playlist
  • Have your child sit on your lap facing out, or you sit on the floor and lean your child back into your lap to brush.
  • Let your child brush after you brush.  Use circular motions on the teeth and brush along the gum line.
  • Use stickers, games, songs, whatever it takes to get the tooth brushing done.  If your child cries, brush quickly…but at least the mouth will be open!
  •  Never put your baby to bed with a bottle of formula or breast milk.  This will result in decay in your baby’s first teeth!
  •  Never put juice or any other sugared drink in a bottle. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends NO juice in the first year of life and limited amounts of juice in older children.
  •  Do not allow your child to walk around with a sippy cup of juice or milk all day long.  This will leave a continual coating of sugars on your child’s teeth.
  •  You can begin to floss your child’s teeth when they start to touch.  Again, this is a good habit to start young!
  • As your child begins to eat table food, try to avoid high sugar snacks.  Sticky snacks are the worst.  Fruit snacks, dried fruit like raisins and any other sticky food must be brushed out of your child’s teeth.

IV.  When do I worry about thumb sucking, finger sucking and pacifiers?

  • It is perfectly normal for infants and young children to need to suck.  Sucking decreases stress in young children and makes for a happier child!
  • It should be discouraged starting at about age 18 months.  Parents should limit pacifier use to bedtime and nap time.
  • All thumb sucking and pacifier use should be discouraged after age 3.
  • Most children stop on their own, but some need help.  Most will then quit with encouragement from the dentist and parents.   Do not use negative reinforcement like hot sauce on a thumb, taping fingers, or putting mittens on your child.
  • Prolonged sucking can create crowded, crooked teeth or bite problem.   The fingers, thumb and pacifier all affect the teeth the same way.

VI. My child grinds his teeth, is this bad?

  • Teeth grinding happens in many toddlers.  The toddler’s molars are very smooth, and children will often grind.
  • Most children outgrow the habit by about age 6.
  • If teeth grinding continues after permanent teeth arrive, then speak with your child’s dentist.

VII.  What should I do if my child injures his mouth and teeth?

  • Be sure and ask your dentist when he or she would like to be contacted for a tooth injury.
  • If a child knocks out a permanent tooth, keep it moist or drop it into cup of milk and call the dentist immediately or head to the ER.
  • If a child is hit in the mouth–always call the dentist for an exam even if there is  no obvious damage.
  • If a child chips a tooth–call the dentist even if there is no sensitivity.
  • Your child should use a mouth guard for sporting activities!

Start good dental habits early…find your child a dental office home where both you and your child are comfortable.  Dental care should not be scary but just a part of good health.  Take care of your child’s smile, it is one of the most beautiful things a parent sees!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

www.mouthhealthy.org

www.healthychildren.org

Sunshine, summer, and sunscreen!


Sunshine certainly is good for our soul, but we know it can also cause a painful sunburn. Use of sunscreen should be added to your “to do” list before your child heads out the door to play. This past weekend I strolled through the aisle of sunscreen and realized there are simply too many choices! A quick check of a sunscreen’s label will make the choice much simpler. So….what is the best choice for your child? Here are the most important things to remember:

  1. Children under 6 months of age should be protected from the sun as much as possible. This means shading your child with umbrellas, awnings, trees, and protective clothing. When you cannot protect your child from the sun…then use sunscreen where needed. All labels will say not recommended for children under 6 months of age, but you must use sunscreen if you cannot effectively shade your child.
  2. SPF protective clothing is wonderful! Rash guard shirts, swim suits, and hats are available at relatively inexpensive price points. Clothing that is SPF protective is easier than applying sunscreen to those areas!
  3. Choose sunscreen that states it is “broad spectrum”. That means it protects against UVA and UVB rays.
  4. Choose a sunscreen that has an SPF of at least 30.
  5. There is NO waterproof sunscreen, only water resistant. The label will tell you if it is 40 minutes or 80 minutes of water resistance. ALL sunscreen needs to be reapplied after leaving the water and towel drying no matter how long your child has been in the water.
  6. The best choice for sunscreen has zinc oxide or titanium oxide as the active ingredient. These are mineral based sunscreens and not a chemical based sunscreen. This mineral based sunscreen is gentler on your child’s skin and there are some studies that chemicals like oxybenzone can affect normal hormone levels in children. Zinc oxide and titanium oxide are ingredients in most diaper rash creams and are very safe!
  7. If you have no other option than a chemical based sunscreen then use it! No sunscreen is more dangerous than using the chemical based sunscreen.
  8. Choose a lotion over a spray. I know sprays are convenient, but often the coverage is poor (try spraying a wiggling toddler!) and inhaling the spray may irritate a child’s airway.
  9. Use enough sunscreen! Adults should use about an ounce of sunscreen (think the amount of a shot glass) and a child needs approximately half of that or enough sunscreen to fill the palm of your child’s hand. If that 8 oz tube of sunscreen has lasted you more than 3 weeks, you aren’t applying enough!
  10. Re-apply at least every two hours, more often if your child has been in the water, sweating, or you have towel dried them.
  11. The most expensive sunscreen may not be the best sunscreen! READ the label…pure and simple. Very few ingredients are needed, zinc oxide or titanium oxide is the most important ingredient on the label.

Summer fun in the sun is a must for children….and so is protection of their skin when in the sun. During childhood, children usually receive about 25% of their lifetime sun exposure. Unprotected sun exposure as a child can result in skin cancers later, so protection from sunburn is essential. So, stock up on safe, effective sunscreen for your family and enjoy the summer sun!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

Don’t work so hard…summer fun is easy!


Keep it simple…fun and learning can happen as easily as a bucket with water and a few ice cubes!

I was talking to my daughter the other evening after she had been babysitting some children of a wonderful Mom from one of my Mom’s groups I lead.  She showed me pictures of the toddlers entertaining themselves with a tray of ice cubes.  What a great way to spend the afternoon!  I often want to tell Moms…”Don’t work so hard at it!”  In other words, kids can be entertained and actually learn valuable concepts by simple activities.  It often does not take a lot of money or expensive toys or classes to fill a morning or afternoon with fun and kids always learn with fun!

It is summer and water is one of the best entertainers.  A baby pool filled with a couple of inches of water, a water table, or a large under bed plastic storage container filled with a few inches of water will entertain for long periods of time.

  • Dump ice cubes in the water and let the kids try to scoop them up or catch them.  Let them watch the ice melt.
  • Add measuring cups, spoons, pitchers, sieves and other kitchen items.  Let the children fill things up, pour and dump.
  • Add a little bubble bath and let them use an egg beater to make bubbles.
  • Take a bucket of water and add paint brushes and paint rollers.  Let them “paint” the sidewalk, patio, deck, or brick house.  My son “painted” our house for hours.
  • Get the tricycles, wagons, or even your car out.  Let the kids play car wash!
  • What floats and what does not? Let your child figure it out!
  • Pretend play with cups, spoons, and bowls…what will they “cook” with the water?
  • Throw a package of new sponges in the mix.  Can they fill up a new bucket by squeezing the sponges full of water?
  • Add dishes and a dish cloth.  Let them pretend to “wash” the dishes!
  • Give a baby doll a bath.
  • Have small trucks and cars out to wash or make bridges to get over the water.

Besides all of this fun…what has your child accomplished?

  • Fine motor skills and eye hand coordination through pouring, squeezing,  stirring, painting and scrubbing
  •  Math concepts of more/less, empty/full, greater than/less than
  •  Imaginative and creative play when playing car wash, painting, and cooking
  • Verbal skills talking about what they are doing

So, relax, it is summer!  Don’t work so hard Mom and Dad, keep it simple and fun.  Take a child, add some supervision, and who knew a little water and ice could entertain and teach so much!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

Loving Touch is Important at Every Age!


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Recently I visited with our twenty something son. As he walked in, he gave me a big hug and I kissed him on the cheek.  As I was preparing for my parenting groups this week I was thinking about that moment.  The hug and kiss of my son, who is definitely a young man now, was as sweet ( albeit a bit more scruffy and I was on my tip toes) as the snuggle I would have with him as a baby.  Loving touch with your child is at the center of a parent and child bond.  The connection  between child and parent through touch is undeniable.  I am a firm believer in the importance of touch and our children….from birth, to toddler years, preschool, school age, and yes even in the awkward teens.  Continuing the physical hugs and kisses are important for your child and you.

Snuggles and touches are natural for most parents with an infant.   Infant massage has been proven to provide many benefits for babies.  Routine loving massage can help an infant

  • Gain weight
  • Calm
  • Improve sleep
  • Improve their latch for nursing
  • Increase bonding
  • Improve neurological development
  • Improve their immune system
  • Decrease teething pain
  • Decrease congestion
  • Learn body awareness
  • Learn that touch is a loving expression
  • and the list goes on…..

Getting started…

  • Turn off th TV, cell phone and other distractions.  This is time to concentrate on your baby alone.
  • Warm up the room and your hands.
  • Lie your baby on his/her back a warm towel or blanket.
  • Use a vegetable based oil.  (if you could eat it, then it is OK)
  • Make sure you are calm.
  • Make eye contact with your baby.
  • Ask permission to touch, show your baby your hands.
  • Lay your hands on your child lovingly.  Often babies prefer touch on legs and feet first.
  • Use light gentle touch, but not a tickle touch.
  • Move from the center out…upper thigh to foot.
  • Give equal treatment to both sides of the body!
  • Movements should be slow and relaxed…like a lullaby.  Sing while you do it!  🙂
  • Start with a short session and watch your baby’s cues.  If your baby wiggles away, fusses, looks away, then stop and try again at another time.  As your baby becomes accustomed to massage, the length of time may increase.  You don’t have to massage your baby’s whole body, just the parts that he or she enjoys!

Technique:

  • Make eye contact with your baby and sing or talk to him–or play music.
  • Breath, relax yourself
  • Hold one foot in one hand and use the other hand to milk the leg.  Squeeze thigh to foot, this is the “milking” motion.
  •  Roll leg between hands from thigh to ankle, like you are rolling dough or clay.
  •  Finish with long strokes from thigh to foot.
  • Press the sole of your baby’s foot with your thumbs.  Massage each toe.  Play “this little piggy”.
  • Repeat on other leg.
  • Follow same process of milking, rolling, and stroking on the arms.
  • Press the palm of your baby’s hand with your thumbs.  Massage each finger.
  • Slide your palm and fingers in a circular motion from the ribs downward.  Then move clockwise around the tummy.  Smooth the chest like pages in a book.
  • If you have used massage for a while, some babies will allow you to massage their face.  Massage face with light fingertips stroking across the forehead from the center to the sides.  Massage tears ducts.  Move down nose and on the sides.  Use a circular motion from the temples down the side of the face.
  • Massage shoulders and use long strokes down the back and on the bottom.

Remember…the intent of your touch is much more important than your technique!  Just relax and enjoy!!

I Love You massage for colic or gas

  •  Trace the letter “I” on the right side of your baby’s tummy.  Start just under his ribs and move down to your baby’s hip.
  • Now stroke from left to right on your baby’s lower tummy making the long part of the letter “L”.
  • Make a short downward stroke on the right side of your baby’s tummy making the short to complete the “L”.
  • Complete the “I love you” by making an upside down “U” starting at your baby’s left hip and circling along the top of the tummy and down the right side.
  • Continue these strokes to help calm a gassy tummy.

Massage can continue to some degree all the way through childhood.  There were nights that I sat on the side of my children’s bed and massaged an aching tummy or head, and I have massaged sore muscles after a big game or meet.  The continued touch with your child will keep you connected in many ways.  There were certainly times when I hugged my children in those teen years and I got an eye roll too…but because of those continued “loving touches” through the years, the hugs in the stands of a high school football games, college track meets, quick weekend visits at school, and now when our “adult” (they will always be my kids) kids visit those hugs and kisses  continue.  Don’t underestimate the value of teaching your child the benefits of touch as an expression of love.

Check out your local hospital for classes on infant massage.

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

Get a little dirty…it is time to garden!


 

It is that time of year when I am doing a bit of grumbling about all the yard work, but also looking forward to getting my perennial beds cleared and blooming, my cut flower bed planted and preparing my vegetable garden for this summer’s crop of tomatoes, beans and of course sunflowers.  I definitely am not a Master Gardener, but I have a special place in my heart for gardening and getting a little dirty.  I have very fond memories of my Grandfather and his vegetable garden and beautiful roses.  I would walk through his garden when I visited and help water and weed.  With his garden gloves on and a hat perched on the back of his head, he was a true farmer at heart.  He showed me how to eat a fresh tomato right off the vine and how to pinch a peach so the fuzzy skin would pull back and I could eat the sweet inside.  I guess my love of gardening started by watching my Grandpa and then my own father take pride in their gardens.  My dad still grows amazing tomatoes!

So many of our children have no idea where their fruits and vegetables come from or even what a fresh tomato really tastes like! With the new fruit and vegetable pouches, I sometimes wonder if many toddlers even know what a real vegetable LOOKS like!  There are many life lessons that can be taught by simply taking a small plot of land or a small container and growing something with your child!  There is no better way to instill a love of nature and to encourage healthy eating than growing a fresh fruit or vegetable as a family.

Children are natural gardeners—they are curious, they learn by doing, and they love to play in the dirt.  Gardening is good for families, it gives your family time together outdoors, and time to let your child get dirty for a purpose!  Children love to look for worms, love to plant seeds, water,  watch plants  grow, pick their crop and even try the harvest they have grown.  What a great way to get them to try green beans!  This helps cultivate their curiosity about nature, the earth and maybe even foster a love of gardening.  Children will also love the special time they spend with you.  Gardening teaches patience, responsibility and is like having a science lesson without even knowing it!  You might even find yourself feeling a little proud and definitely loving the taste of a fresh homegrown tomato!

Tips on gardening with children.

1.   Plan a small container garden or a small plot of land that is theirs.  Talk about a plant’s  need for sun, water, and food.  Put the garden in an area that can be seen easily by your child.  A plastic storage bin or any other container with holes poked in the bottom for drainage works great for this!  Keep it near your back door so your child can see it often.  Tomato plants or lettuce can actually be grown in just a bag of topsoil that you open and plant the seedlings in the bag.  What could be easier?

2.  A “yardstick” garden is plenty big for a child.  Take a yardstick and measure a garden that is 3 foot square.  A young child can reach all sides of the garden and will take pride in that little plot he can call his own.

3.  Gardens do not have to be square.  A “pizza” garden can be planted with wedge sections.  Put different plants in each wedge.  Plant ingredients that would taste good on a pizza!  This is a great way to grow an herb garden!

4.  Use a little imagination, children will love a sunflower house!  Plant large sunflowers in a semi-circle.  As they grow, tie the top of them together and your child can have a “secret” hiding place in your garden!

5.  Watering and weeding is not as much fun as planning and planting ( I don’t like it as well!).  For older preschoolers or school age children, put a gardening calendar in the kitchen or in your child’s bedroom with tasks to be completed.  Don’t force it, remember you are instilling a love of gardening!  Keeping your child’s portion of the garden small should keep the time necessary to only a few minutes a day.  Using a container garden really keeps it easy!

6.  Child sized garden tools make it easier and more fun. I have seen tools in the dollar area of Target!  I know if I had young children, the gardening boots and clogs I have seen would be a must, so cute!!  A gardening hat is a necessity,  protect yourself and your child from the sun.  What is cuter than your toddler gardener in a wide brimmed hat!  Don’t forget the sunscreen too.

7.  Let your child dig the holes for the seeds or the plants that have been bought.  Digging holes is a natural for kids!

8.  Encourage your child by planting seeds that mature quickly and are easy for them to handle.  Radishes and lettuce are great.  They germinate in a couple of days.  Bean seeds and sunflower seeds are easy to handle.

9.  Be sure to put the seed packet on a stake in the garden to remind them what they have planted and what it will look like.  Some discount stores even have little garden stakes that your preschooler could decorate!

10. Children love the unusual.  Many vegetables are available in different colors or sizes.  Speckled beans, red carrots, miniature cucumbers and pumpkins, purple beans, and grape tomatoes are just a few examples.  Try something really unusual by taking a cucumber or pumpkin bloom and placing it inside of a 2 liter bottle.  Shade the bottle with leaves from the plant and let the pumpkin or cucumber grow inside the bottle.  It is a great “show and tell” item when there is a large cucumber or pumpkin inside the bottle!

11. Add a bird bath  to attract birds.  Children can be responsible for refilling the bird bath!

12. Think about planting bright colored flowers that are known to attract butterflies and hummingbirds.  Exploring the garden for butterflies, bugs, worms and caterpillars is great fun!

13. You might want to set a part of the garden for digging all summer.  Put your sandbox in the middle of your garden to make your garden kid friendly.  There were always a few cars or trucks around in the dirt of our garden.

14. You can have your child  make garden stones or markers for the garden.  Find larger stones and let them paint designs on the stones.  These make great Mother’s Day or Father’s Day gifts for Grandparents!

15.  Have your child help build a scarecrow for the garden.  This can be a fun activity for late summer especially.

16.  Measure the sunflowers that you plant once a week and chart their growth.  If you have older children, planting sunflower seeds that mature in about 90 days is a great way to measure the length of summer.  When they bloom, it is time to go back to school!

17.  Try to grow organically as possible.  Mulch is a great way to cut down on weeds which will prevent the need for weed killer and mulch will keep the soil moister during dry spells.  Mix compost and/or topsoil into your garden each year to provide nutrients needed for plant growth.  By growing without chemicals, your child will be able to eat a tomato right from the vine…there is nothing better!

18.  Let your child harvest their own vegetables.  There is nothing better than picking your salad fixings for the day!  This will encourage your child to eat their vegetables I promise!  Your child will love to eat “garden to table”!

19.  Keep it fun…start small!  Most new gardeners try something too big and then quickly become discouraged with the experience.  Just grow one tomato plant and supplement your “garden” with a trip to the Farmer’s Market!  We always had enough green beans from our small garden for at least one dinner.  The kids would always ask, “Our these our beans?”  With a little white lie, our kids ate green beans the whole summer!

There are some great children’s books that can be fun to read with your child as you start your garden:

Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert
Pumpkin Pumpkin by Jeanne Titherington
Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens
This is the Sunflower by Lola M. Schaefer
Whose Garden Is It? by Mary Ann Hoberman
The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss
The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle
Oliver’s Vegetables by Vivian French
Stone Soup by Marcia Brown
Alison’s Zinnia by Anita Lobel

Get a little dirty….plant a few seeds and you will see your child’s excitement grow as the plants grow, and who knows you might just raise a kid that likes his vegetables!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

When Mom ain’t happy….then no one is happy!


When Mom ain’t happy…no one is happy.  We have all heard that saying and in actuality it has a lot of truth to it.  If Moms are unhappy, then their families suffer.  Moms that are stressed have less patience with their spouses and children and have less fun and engagement with their family.  Families benefit when Mom feels good!  So lose the guilt and do something for yourself….after all you are helping your family!
How do we do it?

1.  Balance

A Mom who is out of balance probably has too much on her plate.  There must be a balance between kids, work, and the home.  Everyone needs 15 minutes a day of time alone.  I am an early riser and that is my time for a few minutes of reflection before my day begins.  Find out when you can fit those 15 minutes in your day to balance yourself.  Then during that time, reflect on your day and decide your priorities and put some perspective to those priorities.  Always ask yourself, “Is this a have to…and what would happen if I didn’t?”  Suddenly your life will become a little more balanced by embracing what is most important during this particular season of your life.  Remember, there is a time for everything in life.  You can have it all, just not all at once!

2.  Delegation without guilt.

Ask for help and then allow your kids and your spouse to help without guilt.  Build chores into your child’s daily life, giving responsibility helps your child build self-confidence.   Ask for help from your spouse and be happy with the help you receive!  Remember you must ask not just wish for help!  Give Dad a job to own, and let him do it his way!  Moms who are “gatekeepers” for their baby discourage Dads from parenting.  You don’t have to do it all….if you try everyone will be unhappy!

3.  Carve out time creatively.

Moms can actually carve time out for themselves right in the middle of caring for their kids!  You need to learn to be ready to grab those minutes here and there throughout the day.  Bring that magazine or book and read it in carpool, or waiting for a sports practice to be over.  Play a book on tape or music that YOU enjoy when you are running errands with the kids in the car.  Build some exercise into your day when you take the kids to the park.  Soak those feet in the tub while your kids play in the tub and give yourself an at home pedicure.  Find ways to take care of yourself while still caring for your kids!  It is important for your children to see that you value yourself, that builds their respect for you.  Don’t give up who you are when you become a Mom!  You can still keep your interests, a Mom is a big part of who you are, but not the ONLY part of who you are!

4.  Plan a monthly date with your spouse and a date for you alone.

Reconnect with your spouse at least once a month on a “grown up” date.  Keep it simple and keep it cheap but it must be time away without kids.  The rule is:  No talking about the kids, just talking with each other. This will allow you to connect with each other!  Set a date once a month for you too…this can be a Saturday of shopping, time for a haircut, nails, a walk in the park, time to take a class whatever you alone would like to do.  Get both of these dates on the calendar…make it a standing date.  Treat it just like an appointment, no cancellation allowed!  You must refill yourself in order to give of yourself!

Remember…if Mom ain’t happy….then no one is!  Give your kids a gift; take care of yourself so you can take care of them.  Keep the family happy!  Happy Mother’s Day to all of you great Moms!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

Take Care of YOU!


Motherhood is wonderful career….did I say career?  Yes!  No matter what your educational background is, what type of job you have now or have had in the past, or what your career goals are; as soon as you hold your baby in your arms, guess what…your career is motherhood.  The career of motherhood is very demanding.  It has multiple responsibilities, long hours, minimal financial gains and is a lifelong commitment.  Have you seen the YouTube video trying to hire for the position of Mom?  Wow, who signed you up for this job??

There is no other career that demands so much but rewards so greatly.  Motherhood is a unique profession that demands 24/7 responsiveness.  Unless Moms continually “refill” that internal pitcher that they pour out of daily, Moms will experience a change in energy, attitude and happiness.  Your “job satisfaction” will plummet unless you take care of yourself too and when you are depleted and stretched too thin, the most important people in your life suffer.  If you sacrifice too much without refilling yourself, you lose your best qualities that make you who you are.

This Mother’s Day week let’s commit to nurturing ourselves so that we can better nurture our children.  After all, isn’t that what we Moms do?

  1.     We must be healthy

  • Sleep.  Even a quick 20 minute nap will help rejuvenate.
  • Healthy eating.  Take your vitamins!  Low fat, high carb food like bagels, pretzels, and popcorn help to release “feel good” chemicals in our brain.  Don’t skip meals, high protein foods and whole grains give energy.  High fat foods drain energy.
  • Exercise.  Research tells us that exercise reduces stress.  It will give a sense of calmness and relaxation.  Besides, we need to be able to keep up with our kids!  Take a walk!
  • Go outside.  Natural light is essential to feeling energized and positive.  Even on cloudy days, a walk outside helps recharge you and increases natural feel good hormones.
  • What are your basic emotional needs?  Do you need inward time, to feel     mothered, to feel protected?
  • Laugh.  Laughter is a large part of feeling well.  Watch a funny movie, laugh at yourself.  Even smiling increases endorphins, the feel good hormones.
  • Find time to expand yourself.  Be creative, read a book, listen to music….use your brain!

 2.     We must be intimate

  • A woman who is intimate physically and emotionally with her partner is more relaxed, calmer and more confident.
  • Intimacy builds couple relationship.
  • Touch heals. Touch for women has been proven to lower blood pressure, heart rate, and bring a sense of peace.  Hold hands!
  • Keep the lines of communication open during the diaper years—the most  stressful time of raising children (until the teen years!!)  You can’t think that you will talk “later”.  You must do small things now to stay connected with your partner.
  • Celebrate each other!

3.       We must be idle

  • We must be willing to sit in a chair quietly.
  • Map out two or three-minute activities that you can do to give yourself time during the day.  For instance, take your morning coffee and drink it in front of the window for 2 to 3 minutes while your baby is entertained.  Will these short moments change your life?  Yes, you will become more satisfied which leads to a Mom who can nurture without resentment.
  • Plan for at least a couple hours a week for alone time. That might just be a long bath or a walk through Target by yourself!
  • Let go of the “completion complex”…there will always be laundry!
  • Meditate or pray, both relieve stress.  Slow down and breathe quietly, relax your muscles, and clear your thoughts.  Twenty minutes a day will bring peace to your life.

4.     We must always remember:  We are not steering this ship!

  • We must give up control over everyone’s lives.
  • We must be able to adjust to change.
  • Worry zaps energy and positive thoughts.  Schedule worry time.  Save all the concerns you have and only think about them once a day.  This will make you feel better and free up the rest of your day from negative thoughts and worry.
  • Choose our words carefully.  Remember what you say results in how you feel.
  • Lower the bar.  It is OK not to be perfect.  We feel inadequate when the bar is set too high.
5.     We must have friends
  • Have a conversation with a best friend.  Women need comfort and support from other women.  Share, you will find that all moms have similar challenges.  We are not alone.
  • Surround yourself with like minded moms.  Moms who parent like you will give you support.

 6.     We must love our lives TODAY and TODAY and TODAY

  • Step back and appreciate the moment several times a day.
  • Be grateful for the moment, feeling grateful is a real mood booster.
  • Write down why you are thankful, or the three best things that happened today.
  • Engage in positive thinking, and you will be more in control of your happiness.  Feelings follow thoughts.
  • Resist the temptation to pile more chores and responsibilities on our plates, focus on the important only.
  • Remember, we are useless to our families unless we fill ourselves up.

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

Infants need play time too!


You are your baby’s first toy! 

Play time is important for infants too!  Infants play by moving, by looking (especially you and that funny face), by exploring with hands, feet, and mouth, and by interacting physically (a little tickle), emotionally, and verbally.  The time your baby spends playing with you is invaluable.  You don’t have to “teach” as you play, your baby is learning by just interacting with you!  You are your baby’s favorite toy! 

Let your baby look at you! 

Your baby is completely enthralled with YOU!  Look at your baby and make silly faces.  You will be amazed by your sweet baby trying to imitate some of your silly faces!  Smile, coo, stick your tongue out…your baby will love it! If your baby keeps looking away, then he or she may have had enough of your silly face for a while, be careful not to over stimulate. This little game stimulates your baby’s social, visual, and emotional development.  This teaches your baby ways to seek and receive your attention and affection.  Who knew that you could be entertained by just looking at your baby!  You and Dad have a new evening entertainment!

Play with touch!

Who doesn’t want to touch that soft baby skin?  Touch your little one with different textures.  Tissues, a blanket, the tip of your finger, a cotton ball…explore different touches across your baby’s tummy or cheeks.  Talking makes this even more fun for your baby.  “Doesn’t that tickle? OOOh feel good?”  Watch your baby and you will be able to tell what his favorite is.  Soon your little one will start to kick and get excited when you just start to touch his little belly.  Touch teaches sensory awareness, verbal interaction and body awareness.

Give your baby something to look at.

A mobile is a great first toy for your child.  It can be colorful or black and white with some accents of red, but your baby will love watching it!  Be sure to take the mobile down once your child can reach it or is starting to try to sit up.  The mobile provides visual stimulation and spatial awareness for your baby.

Try a little singing.

No, you can’t tell if your baby has a singing voice yet, 🙂  but your little one loves the sound of your voice.  He or she has heard your voice even before birth!  Put your baby in the center of the room and walk around the room singing and talking or making funny noises.  Your baby will begin to look for where you are!  Combine a little “Peekaboo” with it!  Your baby will love it.  This will help your baby develop listening skills and it helps develop a sense of trust in you as you disappear and come back!

Take your child on a tour.

Your home and backyard may be familiar to you, but your baby will love the change in scenery.  Carry your baby around the house and you will find all kinds of neat things.  Talk about what you see and what things do.  Light switches are amazing!  Head outside and discover the grass, the leaves, brush a flower across your little one’s cheek, introduce your child to the world!  New sights, sounds and textures are exciting for your baby, and talking about them builds language skills too!  Introducing your baby to the world may just help you appreciate the little things again too!


The oldies but goodies…all the finger plays you used to know
.

Games like Peek-a-boo, So Big, Patty Cake, This Little Piggy, Itsy Bitsy Spider are fun for you and your baby.  These finger plays and songs teach socialization skills, fine motor skills, object permanence, and are just plain fun.  If you don’t remember these oldies but goodies, look them up online or check out a book at the library.

Make an obstacle course.

Your new little crawler will love to crawl over and under things.  Get those pillows and cushions off the couch and start encouraging your baby to climb up and over, crawl, and tumble.   This is fun and helps build gross motor skills and coordination.  It might get your little one good and tired for a great nap too!

Try the fill and dump game.

Once your baby is sitting up and is developing some hand coordination, filling and dumping will be a favorite activity.  Stacking cups, measuring cups, plastic containers all work well to fill up with water in the bathtub, sand, blocks, raw rice or any item that can be scooped up and dumped.  Your baby will work on fine motor control, hand-eye coordination, and words like “full” “pour” “all gone” “empty” and others.

Stacking and knocking over.

Stacking will soon become the next fun activity.  Those same stacking cups can be used to build a tower and knock it down.  Blocks, stacking rings, plastic cups, books…anything can be used to stack and knock over.  This helps with fine motor development and cause and effect.

These are just a few examples of the type of play your infant will love the first 12 months of life.  Don’t rush out and buy lots of expensive toys, you will be your child’s favorite toy these first few months.  There is no rush to “get ahead”; your child will learn all that he or she needs to learn with simple play.  The pressure to get ahead often takes away the most valuable tool for learning…play.  Be a kid again and fill your child’s day with play!  Have fun!

What is your favorite activity with your infant?  Post  some of your ideas!

Follow Raising Kids With Love on Facebook for more tips!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

How do you play with a toddler?


“I think of play as a toddler’s number one essential vitamin.  He needs large doses of it every day.  Play:  Thrills the senses.  Helps toddlers master movement.  Stretches the mind.  Stimulates language use.  Boosts friend-making skills.  Stimulates the immune system.  Builds self-confidence.  Improves nighttime sleeping.”

Dr. Harvey Karp, MD  The Happiest Toddler on the Block                                                   

Toddlers love to play, and the fact is, they must play! Play is the basis of learning for a toddler.  So yes, when a toddler squirts a banana out between his fingers, there is learning going on!  Toddlers learn how to manipulate their world through play…and one of the biggest parenting responsibilities is to provide opportunities for your child to have free play.  Developmentally many toddlers have separation anxiety, so they want to be near you when they play, but toddlers do not need you to lead their play.  Play for a toddler is based on exploration.  Too often parents want to “show” a toddler how to play…after all we know how that toy works, we read the directions!  Toddlers enjoy play more and learn more when they figure out their own “right way” to play with a toy; and it often is different from the directions.  The process of discovery through play is the tool to learning.

So how do you play with a toddler?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Give your toddler physical help when needed.  Often toddlers know what they want to do, but don’t have the gross or fine motor control to actually do it, remember a toddler is “long on will, short on skill!” This will often lead to frustration.  A parent can help but not complete  a task of play for the toddler.  Example:  A toddler may want you to show them how to fill a  bucket to make a sand castle, but doesn’t want you to guide the entire process.  I always had to remind my builder husband of this…he wanted to build the castle, his way! 🙂
  • Be a partner.  Many games need a partner.  A toddler can’t play ball without someone rolling or tossing the ball to him.  Let your toddler play the game until he or she is finished–not you.  Repeating a game many times is how a toddler masters a skill.  Don’t toss a ball a few times and quit when you are  bored!  Over and over again is how play works for a toddler!
  • Demonstrate.  A toddler will like to be given demonstrations on how things work or even suggestions.  Let your child be free to use your suggestion or not.  Do not interrupt his play to bring another idea or “show you how to do it”.  Let your toddler lead the play.
  • Help with concentration.  A toddler’s attention span is only a few minutes especially if the play involves sitting still.  If a parent sits with a toddler to talk, and encourage during a task, then the toddler will be able to  concentrate longer and might be able to complete a difficult task like a puzzle.  Encourage but don’t do it for your toddler.
  • Help your toddler play with others.  Toddlers will enjoy playing next to other children not really with other children.  Parallel play is common at this age.  Children will play next to each other without really cooperating.  Toddlers are not developmentally mature enough to be left with another child to “fight it out”.  They are not capable of sharing or playing fair without help.  Give two toddlers similar materials or toys and let them play as each of them wants without interaction with each other.  Eventually toddlers will  begin to talk to each other, and a friendship will begin to develop.  Often it is helpful for a toddler to play with older children too.   Older children provide good examples of imaginative play, problem solving, sharing and it helps the older child develop leadership skills too.  Guide your toddler in sharing…show them how to do it.  Eventually they will develop the ability to share, but only after being shown many times.
  •   Be a good role model for your child when you play.  Ask if you may take a toy and use the words please and thank you.  When your toddler shares with you, praise your child for good sharing.  Choose cooperative games like playing ball, and other activities that take turns.  This helps teach a toddler good social skills which is  necessary for cooperative play.  Be patient, your child will be capable of sharing and playing with other children some time between the age or 2 and 3, if you have given your toddler the opportunity to develop the skill! One of the most important skills your child will need to develop before school is cooperative play and being a good friend!
  • Beginning at 18 months encourage imitative and imaginative pretend play.  This is a very important step for your toddler.  Your child will start to imitate important people in his or her life, so that would be you!!  Soon that play will change from simply imitating to imaginative play.  Your toddler will take a block and pretend it is a cell phone, or will play “house” with your pots and pans.  This starts symbolic thinking which is very important in developing math and reading skills later.  Imaginative play also teaches empathy…it helps a child start to learn how others feel.  It is fine for your little boy to play pretend with dolls and for your little girl to play pretend with trucks!!  Imaginative play also improves language.  Listen to your toddler, he will self talk as he pretends and will often tell you what to say when you are playing with him!  Join in the conversations!
  • Let your toddler play with safe every day items.  We all know it…your child’s favorite toy may just be the plastic containers in the kitchen, the laundry basket, a silky scarf, or a box!  Expensive toys really are not needed…your imaginative, creative toddler will play with every day things and enjoy it!  These items increase creativity and imagination, so save some money and encourage this!  Remember, a blanket over a card table works just as well as that expensive play house, and a muffin tin and different types of cereal to sort works as well as a fancy sorter!
  • Get a little messy!  Toddlers love sensory play.  Get out the water, the finger paints, the pudding, the play dough, put on an apron and have fun!  Toddlers need messy creative play.  This will bring out the kid in you too! Sensory boxes filled with different items provide lots of creative messy play. Try filling the boxes with Easter grass, dried beans, rice, or anything else you can find at the Dollar Store.  Think pouring and dumping, digging, sorting, searching, feeling, and fun.

So playing with your child is not rocket science.  It is letting your child discover his or her world safely and creatively.  So, sit on the floor, watch your toddler, participate in the play your toddler leads, keep the TV off, and get the plastic kitchen containers out and maybe a little pudding paint…it is going to be a fun day!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

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