I know a lot of families just started school this last month and things get a little busy in the morning getting everyone out the door on time. Some of you may be feeling overwhelmed or frustrated in the morning because of this and I want to help you with that! Which is why I want to talk to you about routines.
The reason i want to talk about routines is that they are easy and effective and great for kids of almost any age
It’s something you can do tonight and can make a difference with your family within a week.
You can watch my talk here as well!
A great way to start is with a routine chart.
The chart gives kids what they need which is a visual reminder and a sense of independence when they do things themselves
Making a chart
- Do it together involve your child
- Talk about the stressful situation with your child if they are old enough already
- Suggest a chart to help us remember what to do in the morning
- Make it together by asking your child to list all the things that need to get done
Gives children a great sense of accomplishment and pride!
Ideas fun ways to get this done
- Pictures of your child, print and hang in sequence → great for toddlers
- Choose pictures, Print out , cut , color and stick on a chart → great for 4-6 year olds
- You can also have them in writing and have your child add activities they want or take things away —> great for older kids 7 and up
Practical tips on getting it done in the morning
- Remind your child of the chart. Don’t give in to nagging
- Make the chart the boss “what does the chart say we should do next”
- Put a sticker next to each one that is done
- Don’t have to focus on sequence
- It takes time and practice
Try it out
I want you to make a routine chart of whatever area of your day is causing stress for you and your child. It can be getting ready in the morning or bedtime or even stating the steps to getting dressed in details.
Here’s a giant Pinterest link to give you a lot of ideas!
Over the last 2 years I’ve joined several mommy groups on social media. They’re a great place for moms to share experiences and ask for advice. Recently I’ve noticed similar questions being asked especially by new moms about how to start life with baby. I was inspired by Simone of the Montessori Notebook and decided to create a Link Pack just for new mommies with all the links you may need to start your journey into motherhood. I’ll try to cover some of the basic topics like sleeping, feeding, care, play and positive parenting of course 🙂
Feeding & Sleeping
Development & Milestones
Becoming a Parent & Self Care
There are lots of great resources out there. I personally found these to be very helpful. Make sure to check back as I’ll keep adding more links whenever I come across something relevant.
Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I grew up in Egypt celebrating it every
year with my parents, godmother, close family and friends. One of my favorite holidays growing up I remember it not for the presents and toys but more for the people, food, activities and memories.
Whatever holiday or occasion you are celebrating, having family traditions is a wonderful way to create long lasting memories for yourself and children.Today, I’m sharing with you some of my fondest memories for the holidays that are in my family tradition.
Food is such a big part of most cultures and definitely a huge one in Egypt. For my family our tradition was making Christmas cookies with my Godmother. As a young child my role was to meticulously decorate every gingerbread man to make each one unique! As I got older I learned so much about making other holiday dishes and brought my own twist on some.
Today our family tradition in my little family is making Christmas cupcakes, also decorated with great detail. The best thing about cooking or baking is sitting at the table with everyone else and sharing.
Cooking and baking are fun ways to involve your little one. Kids really enjoy decorating cookies, pie toppings or helping out with peeling onions. Any simple task can help your little one feel like they have an important role.
Special Parent-Child Activity
Most of my Christmas activities were done with my godmother but I do have one special memory just for Christmas with my mom. Every year we would take the time and sit together and make stockings for every person who was joining us for Christmas dinner. We’d cut, sew and stick each one and finally fill them with all sorts of stocking goodies. Being a working mom it was a great treat to have my mom take the time and do this with me. For your family you can do any craft that you both enjoy; stockings, ornaments or cards. In the end the point is really about spending that special time together as a family.
This is not a custom I grew up with but I love this idea. My brother’s family send us a family picture with their Christmas card every year. It’s a great way to update family or friends that don’t live close. For me it’s great to see how my nieces and nephew are growing and changing over the years and feeling connected as a family.
Every year after Christmas my godmother takes the time to write thank-you letter to everyone. As a child I was always encouraged to join and write my own thank-yous and got my own thank-you notes stationery to help me out. This is one thing I’m still not good at but greatly cherish and value. It’s also a great way to teach children to be and show thankfulness after the holiday rush is over.
Those were some of my family traditions. What are yours?
Image courtesy of bplanet/Free Digital Photos
How do we get our kids to focus more on what they have instead of what they want? There’s so much available in stores, supermarkets and even most homes it can be a challenge at times to help children look beyond their little world of games and toys. Young children tend to be egocentric, which is a normal part of development. They usually start showing outward behavior of thankfulness or appreciation by the age of 3.
There are however a lot of things you can do to help your child start practicing gratitude in the early years. Here are a few of my favorites to get your started.
Make a Giving List
Sit with your little one and talk about the idea of making a giving list. For every item he’d like for Christmas have him think of something he can give. It can be something handmade, bought from his allowance, giving away one of his toys or clothes and even just helping someone out with something. For your young child keep it simple and help by offering choices and suggestions. For older kids give them time to be creative and think of things themselves if they’d like. Kids can surprise you. Talk about who would be happy with these gifts. Someone in the family, neighbors, friends or maybe look further beyond in your community to local shelters. Encourage your child by modeling and having the whole family join in.
Give Experiential Gifts
Both children and adults tend to focus on giving toys and other material gifts on most occasions. These are great and fun of course but kids tend to lose interest in toys pretty quick especially if they have too many options. Consider giving an experiential gift instead. It can be something simple like a Make a Volcano Kit, a nature magazine subscription or a fun outing with friends and family to the zoo. It can also be something more complex like going to camp, horseriding weekend camp or a family trip. According to psychologist Jeffrey Froh, a gratitude researcher, kids get to feel happy and fulfilled with these experiences because they feed their personal growth or their interest. Kids get to feel more appreciation and create more meaningful memories than just receiving a toy.
Visit those Less Fortunate
This may be a cliche but most of us even as adults have a tendency to take any privileges we have for granted will we come across those who are less fortunate. Children are the same, especially if their circle of friends come from similar economic backgrounds. Talk to your children about what they think they can do to help others in the community or even beyond. Maybe choose a few toys or clothes they don’t use anymore to pack for the local shelter. Take a trip to a child friendly shelter (if possible), children’s hospital, animal shelter or any other place of need. Don’t just make this a drop off but try to spend a couple of hours to volunteer. Read stories for children at the hospital or help groom the shelter pups. It’s all about having a real experience helping your child be a giving and empathetic person.
Talk about Receiving
Gratitude isn’t just about empathy or giving. It’s also about being thankful for what others have done. Instead of asking your child to just say “Thank-you” when she gets a gift talk about how nice it was for grandma to remember that she liked soccer and made the trip to the special sports store to get her the ball. Your child will start to realize there’s more to it than a gift she wants appearing magically. This way the Thank-you comes from the heart.
We don’t always get what we want in life and that can be very disappointing and hard to handle for young children. Gratitude is also about being OK when things don’t go as planned. This is a tough one even for grownups but it’s a good habit to model and practice. For young children it can be hard to grasp what they should be happy about when it rains and they don’t get to go play outside or if they get sick and can’t go on the school trip. These are perfect opportunities to help them think about the positive side; “If we hadn’t decided to play inside today we wouldn’t have gotten to spend such a fun time together making this puzzle that we’ve decided to frame”. Model this in situations when you yourself are disappointed that things didn’t go as planned as well. Children learn best when we practice what we preach ourselves.
Make Gratitude a Family Habit
Finally, gratitude isn’t something to focus on just during the holiday season or around birthdays. Although those are yearly hot spots, it’s a habit to practice year round. Simply have a gratitude conversation once a week during dinner where each member of the family talks about something they are thankful for.
For further reading on raising a thankful child. Read my article published in The Daily Crisp
Image courtesy of Claire Bloomfield/Free Digital Photos
This is a new series of Opinion entries which will be different from the research based articles I usually post.
When my son turned 6 months like all parent we began looking into how to introduce solid foods to him. Like most people I knew about starting with fruit and vegetable purees and had already bought a couple ( OK maybe more than a couple) baby cookbooks with all these puree combinations and meal plans. We were ready to start!
Then I came across Baby Lead Weaning (BLW). I had come across the (misleading) title before and ignored it because we had no plans to wean our baby any time soon. On further inspection it has nothing to do with weaning per say and everything to do with introducing solids in a very interesting way.
BLW (a term attributed to Gill Rapley ) is basically about allowing your child to self feed and skipping purees altogether and going for appropriate finger food. You can read all the details and guidelines about BLW here on their official website.
Going through the process with my own son it made me realize how much BLW supports the philosophies we try to follow in Positive Parenting:
- Choosing an age appropriate activity for your child:
One of the first guidelines of BLW is waiting till your child shows signs of readiness. Is he sitting up independently? is he reaching for objects and interested in putting them in his mouth?
- Supporting your child’s development:
Children at that age naturally place things in their mouths. Self feeding is a natural extension to this instinct as well as exercise fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination.
- Helping your child develop positive eating habits:
Feeding himself allows your child to regulate how much food he eats when he’s hungry and stop when he’s full on his own. He also gets to practice his independence by choosing what to eat and what not to eat. There is no “last spoon” to finish off, just his own self monitoring.
- Avoiding feeding power struggles:
Mealtimes can turn into real struggles as parents negotiate with their kids to finish their food, eat one more bite or threaten no dessert. Practicing BLW helps you learn to trust your child and his food intake. He may eat very little for breakfast but have a good dinner or he may have a lousy day eating but eat double his portions the next day. An article I read once on baby and toddler eating had very good advice; it said it’s always best to look at how much your child is eating within the week. That is a fairer estimate than judging day-to-day eating.
- Avoiding raising a picky eater:
Children are people like the rest of us, they like and dislike different things, and sometimes they change their minds! By placing diverse and healthy choices in front of your child you are teaching them how to value food and decide for themselves what they want to eat. Don’t be discouraged! Reintroduce rejected foods over and over again, you’ll be pleasantly surprised when your child starts eating them!
- Eating together as a family and creating a positive habit:
Often times I see families experience this scenario; parents eat separately then baby is fed alone either before or after parents. Sometimes it can last an hour feeding the child and it can feel like a chore! Other times parents let their children roam feed. But at a certain point and age you are going to start requesting that your child “grow up” and sit at the table and eat “properly”. So why wait to introduce this? Babies and toddlers learn instinctively through imitation. When you model eating and proper dinner behavior they’ll pick up on it and be encouraged. That’s not to say they won’t fling food or throw their spoons. These are all natural behaviors that children do as they explore the world and their limits.
Finally, I have to say starting off with BLW sometimes isn’t always easy. On our first day of feeding I found myself wanting my son to have more of the spoon instead of just a taste as he’s supposed to. Parents are told that suddenly children should be consuming several spoonfuls of food 1-3 times a day and that can put a lot of pressure. I believe the biggest issue to overcome is the parent’s own emotional one of letting go and trusting your child and the process. That being said, sometimes BLW doesn’t match your child or your family’s needs and may not be for you. Sometimes a blend of spoon feeding and BLW is what works. I spoon feed my child when he gets lazy or is tired as well. These are all natural. The important point at the essence of positive parenting is to keep a flexible mind about things; some days baby will eat well and others not, sometimes he’ll self feed and others need help, he may love carrots today but hate them tomorrow for no apparent reason. In all cases there is no need to feel pressured or stressed, ask yourself these questions:
- At the end of the week; did my child eat well?
- Did he have a diverse selection of healthy choices?
- Was mealtime a pleasant and stress-free experience for everyone?
- What can be changed for next time?
It’s an ongoing process. Here area a list of references I’ve found useful on young children and eating.