January is a great time to reflect on your parenting skills and make new goals/changes for the upcoming year. Think about how your kids respond when you discipline and praise them. How can you motivate and encourage them? How can you connect with them and get to know them better? How often is your phone out while they are trying to play with you? Remember our kids want to feel like they are a priority in our life not a distraction or disruption. This would also be a great time to have a family meeting to go over boundaries and rules. Maybe your kids struggle in the afternoon to listen. So change up their schedule. Instead of free play, try a structured activity like arts and crafts or a game. Move nap/rest time earlier or later. Find a system that works for your family and stick to it. There are no perfect parents. We are all human. We make mistakes. Don’t look back and regret things you did or didn’t do for your kids. Use your “oopsy” moments to guide you forward on this parenting journey. We know you can do it!
Christmas time is a wonderful time to start new traditions with your family and friends. Some parents may feel overwhelmed by the busyness of the season and the high expectations of providing many new gifts to their kids. We are here to tell you that you don’t have to be overwhelmed and you don’t have to spend a ton of money on gifts for your kids. Keep Christmas simple this year. Focus on the opportunity to spend more quality time with your family and friends. There is a famous saying that we love…..Kids don’t want presents, they want your presence! Take that to heart this season and don’t get caught up in all the extra stuff. Kids cherish memories not gifts. So start planning some fun activities to do with your kids and make this season meaningful to your family. Below is a simple list of new traditions to start with your loved ones!
- Read a Christmas book (or any book) to your kids every night
- Do a Christmas puzzle together
- Make Christmas cards for neighbors and friends then deliver them
- Decorate Christmas cookies
- Make snowflakes (paper and scissors) and hang them up around your house
- Donate gently used clothes and toys to your local homeless shelter or Project Help
- Create ornaments and hang them on your tree (or give them to someone else)
- Make homemade gifts for family and friends
- Drink hot cocoa and watch a Christmas movie together
- Create Christmas sensory bins (check out your local Dollar Tree for supplies or use items from around your house)
We are so excited to keep it simple this season and spend more time with our loved ones and hope you are too! As you prepare for this season, remember to slow down and truly embrace the small moments with your kids. Happy memory making:)
Have you or your kids ever tried building something with marshmallows and toothpicks? This activity is the same thing except you build with apples not marshmallows. Supplies needed include apples, toothpicks, knife and a paper/plastic plate. The apples will be easier to build with if you cut them into smaller pieces. Give your kids a pile of apples and toothpicks and let them create their own masterpiece! After they have some time to experiment, you can challenge them to make certain objects. Challenges may include animals, houses, people, vehicles, buildings, boats, planes, etc… Try to step back and let your kids do all the building and creating. This activity helps your kids build their self-esteem, hand-eye coordination, and promotes a higher level of thinking.
- Ask your kids to draw a picture of an object first. Then they can build it with apples and toothpicks.
- Ask your kids to tell a story about their creation.
Encourage independence and creativity!
Fall is a great time to collect “things” from outside and use them for learning activities. You can also turn this into a race to get your kids moving. Example: “Who can collect a red, orange, yellow, brown, and green leaf first?” Or you can turn your backyard into an obstacle course and while your kids are going through it, they can collect leaves for activities later. Leaves are a great resource to teach your littles about seasonal changes, colors, and fine motor skills (picking up the leaves with their pinchers). Below is a list of fun leaf activities to do with your kids!
- Leaf sensory bin- this can include leaves, pine cones, kernels of corn, acorns and anything else you might find in the back yard!
- Sorting leaves- sort leaves by color (red, orange, yellow, brown, and green)
- Leaf Wreath- create a wreath using leaves
- Leaf matching game- glue leaves on white paper or card stock and cut out. Make sure each leaf has a pair ( similar color and shape) and ask your kids to find the matching leaves.
- Make leaf creatures. Use different leaves to create animals on paper.
- Leaf rubbings
These activities are all hands on and allow your kids to learn while having fun. If you don’t have leaves where you live you can go to a local park to collect them.
Let’s be real…parenting can be very hard and sometimes stressful. Juggling work, family, chores, cooking and whatever else is on your plate can be overwhelming. You need time to catch your breath and renew your mind. Here are a few ways to take a step back and refocus your attention on what really matters…your family.
- Wake up a few minutes earlier than normal. Take some time to read, breathe, or exercise. This will help you start your day off on the right foot!
- Plan a time to play with your kids every day. Whether it is five minutes or an hour, playing with your kids will strengthen your bond and allow you to “unplug” from the daily demands of your world.
- Make a daily to-do list. This can be for you and your kids. Distributing chores and tasks will help your kids learn about responsibility and teamwork. It will also take pressure off of you to get everything done yourself. Check out our previous blogs about age appropriate chores to get some good ideas!
- Call, email, text, or meet a friend/family member. Having positive social connections outside of your immediate family will allow you to seek advice and ideas from people who truly care about you and your kids.
- Develop positive self-talk. If we want our kids to have a positive self-image when they are older, it has to start with us now. Get rid of phrases like “I can’t do this” and “no matter how hard I try, I keep failing.” Start saying things like “I am enough” and “I will try my best.” Remember, your kids learn from you every moment you are around them. Let them learn about having a positive self-image not a negative one.
No matter what the world may tell you, you are enough and you are here for a reason. When life gets messy and you can barely keep your head afloat, keep your eyes on the main goal: loving and raising your children well. You can do this!