Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Quick & Easy Non-craft Ideas for Super Bowl with Toddlers

Are you a football loving mom (or dad)?  Do you pay attention to the plays and referee calls and not just the scores?  Is crafting on the bottom of your 'fun things to do' list?  I feel ya. Here's a few ideas to help everyone have fun this year during Super Bowl.

  A couple of years ago I researched ideas  on how to get a toddler or preschooler involved in the Super Bowl excitement without out taking me away from the game. I quickly noticed mostly blogs about arts and crafts, or ideas to bring water toys (and sand) into the house for a mock beach party. For someone that hates crafts(and always have), that's not going to work for me.  I tried it before at a college championship party, and I wound up missing great plays and adding to the mess to be cleaned up afterwards.  So after some trial and error, I'm sharing how a not-so-crafty football-loving mom quickly blends my son's interests plus mine for the game.

Before Game
Prepare your snacks.  I don't make anything special, Fruit and cheese trays,
meat-cheese and cracker trays.  Trail mix,  Go-gurts, and any raw veggies your child likes (not forgetting the dip- I use hummus). All these are things easily found at your favorite grocer.  You can opt for the organic versions if you choose; I typically do.
My son also loves M&Ms but I save those to help me get him engaged....I'll explain a little later.
 Football themed cookie cutters are used to shape the sliced cheese- have him help me with pressing the cutters into the cheese and arranging (or in his case, un-arranging) the crackers. I use both the regular sized and the mini cutters.
  I don't add cookies or such because the game typically starts late, so any sugar I can avoid with it being close to bedtime, I do so.  With so many other options he likes, he doesn't think about missing cookies or cake. You can provide it later for the adults as soon as your child goes to bed.  

Game start
The snacking begins but we also do our kick off punt-run.  See below.

Kick off and Punts
Toddler and I use these times to be a little active. As the punter is gearing up to kick,  son and I are running in place building momentum a he runs towards the ball.  We then mimic the punters kick- immediately celebrating afterwards by jumping up and down and yelling, "yay!"  By that time the receiving time is either returning or  I find that to be the best way of engaging my son throughout the game.

The adults are high-fiving when their team scores and expressing discontent with the other team's score. A good way to involve your little one too. I allow my son to have 1 M&M with each touchdown. But sometimes he doesn't understand the difference between which team scores a touchdown, so I let him have 1 M&M for each touchdown no matter who scores. He's usually signaled onto what a touchdown is by the adult reactions, and joins in on a high five or the wave. 

A lot of us live for the super bowl commercials, and would like to enjoy them too. Research what companies are doing ads for this years Bowl game and have your child find certain elements... For example, we typically see some kind of candy commercial. I have my son find a certain color candy or a person eating candy. He is quite good at this.
We also scour the commercials for certain colors, with him yelling out when he sees red or blue.  You can have your child look for drinks (pepsi or coke usually buys ads), cars, or anything you anticipate will show up in the commercials.

If he is still awake, Halftime is when we stretch our legs and jam "with the big boys".  I pull out my son's drum pad and we pretend we're rocking the stage with whomever is performing at halftime. You can use makeshift drums, air guitars, or whatever instrument your little one prefers. Sometimes they'd rather just get up and dance, and that's fine too. It helps burn off some of the energy that's been building up.  It takes only a little while after half-time before he succumbs to the sandman.

Other Options
Let's face it, a little one's attention span isn't long enough to last an entire super bowl game. This is where our family's use of technology comes in. Here are some options we employ to keep my son busy.

 1. My Husband gave my son an old cell phone to use as a camera. So during the times he seems restless, we have photo shoots. Indoors or out, my son likes it that we all pose no matter what we're doing for a shot. I also take his pic too, and he spends some time viewing his work using the review option on the phone.

2. My son can go for HOURS on his tablet, alternating from Disney Jr to ABC Mouse to YouTube Kids and various other fun and educational applications or movies we've downloaded.  I have this charged up, and he sits beside me or on my lap, watching and happily reacting to the programs. I use this as the last resort because I know it's going to work every time. He still puts it down to do the punt-runs and touchdown celebrations, so it works quite well for us.

 3. I ask my son to find someone with black hair in the stadium as the camera pans about during a ref review or time-out.   The hair color to search for changes each time we play.  It's an easy way to teach colors to younger toddlers by pointing them out yourself and saying the color.

Overall, these have proven successful and easy enough for me to be willing to do for every game of importance to me: championships, playoffs, rivalries, etc.  My toddler is the type that likes to stay up if everyone else is up. But with the physical exertion and mental stimulation done during the game, he fights sleep much less. He was able to do several of these activities before bedtime, and I found I was able to watch more of the game without being frustrated with crafts. After the game, I had very little cleanup. Only the leftover food and snacks 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Start These 3 Things for Generation Alpha

There is already a boatload of reference material noting how Millennials are changing the face of the world in consumerism, education, and attitudes. Here are a few ways to help shape the newest generation in those categories.

  1. Stop looking just at the fat content on nutritional labels- Millennials are known to have higher demands for healthier prepared-food choices than some other generations but with more companies getting in on the wholesome and organic movement, a lot are entering the market misleading consumers (read story here). Read the labels to ascertain sugar and salt levels, not just fat and calories. Sometimes sacrificing fat for more salt and sugar can be more detrimental, especially for those with family histories of heart disease or diabetes. Webmd has a wonderful and quick guide on fat, salt, and sugar.

  1. Demand quality in education. Education standards in US are becoming so politicized that we seem to be turning in circles- and continually falling behind other developed/developing countries. We must become active in our children's education early on. Ask questions and research your school's statistics for testing and curriculum. Become involved in the process. School boards need to hear from a wide variety of parents to be reminded of who and why they serve. Don't just leave it up to the same few parents to influence the decisions that impact YOUR child's future. Our parents emphasized that going to college was the golden ticket, but we know from experience that it's also the quality of the education you receive that matters - with employers wanting to know how that education can translate both in the workforce and in entrepreneurial efforts.

  1. Lead by example. I'm definitely guilty if this myself, telling my son not to go into rooms and wake others when they're sleeping, forgetting he's watching me wake up my mom from her nap to ask her a question. But my 3yr old is quick to remind me that he is listening and attentively watching me. "Shhh, quiet mommy! Get outta there!"

This principle applies to almost everything, including sustainability. A Northwestern University article explains the dichotomy between attitudes and action in sustainability among millennials. You can't tell your child to be conscious of the environment as you simultaneously throw empty plastic water bottles into the trash. No matter which side of the Global Warming argument you stand on, the earth is indeed changing and most of us can see it in the record-breaking temperatures and weather patterns. These issues have spanned multiple preceding generations, so let's empower and encourage the newest generation not only to be conscious of them, but also to take action. We've got to show them how important it is to love our home. I love the Disney Channel's Citizenship program; highlighting community responsibility and engagement from our youngest citizens. Let us be inspired to do more and extend our imprint upon the world through our little ones.

(Learn More about raising this generation: alpha)

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Why Pottying finally Clicked - for me and my son

I started trying to potty train my son at 2.5 years of age.  I waited until then because he showed no sign of wanting to potty prior to that, and I started getting a bit spooked once he turned 2.5, so I figured why not.  Fast forward a year later, and he's finally going the whole day and most nights dry in his "big boy" undies.  I don't want you going through what I went through, so I wanted to share a few tips that made pottying sync quickly.

Tip #5
This one's simple. Try not to call the pull-ups diapers. You may even be better to call them underwear.  I know a lot of parents know this already, but for those that could possibly slip-up, remember this.  It seemed to be a big catalyst in the change in his behavior once I realized that and fashioned his favorite character underwear over the pull-up as a disguise, calling it underwear.  I made sure I reiterated how they should never be wet.

Tip #4 
Give them a reason to pull down their pants. Some children are excited about flushing the toilet, but mine wasn't.  A lot of people say to let them aim for cheerios, but I couldn't even get that far. He'd run from the toilet. He liked raisins, and that was a breakthrough for me. He soon became quite slick - withholding some of the urine so he could potty multiple times within a few minutes for more raisins.  I also allowed him to wear his favorite pajamas and underwear when he'd gone to the potty and remained dry that day. He enjoyed showing off his Avengers underwear when he pulled his pants down.  

Tip #3
Don't go at it alone.  Everyone at the house should participate in the program, reminding him on a 30-60 minute schedule that it's pottytime.  We made pottytime into a party, expressing excitement as we danced into the bathroom. (We even sang our own pottytime song!)  Initially it was met with fierce opposition, but we wore him down. Everyone was in on it, including the grandparents and daycare teachers. 

Tip #2
Just because you see a couple signs that he may be ready doesn't mean he truly is.  I'd read an article in the Parenting magazine that some of the signs your child was ready to potty were 
1. They look for privacy to complete #2's.
2. Can follow basic directions. A 1yr old can follow directions, but still may not be interested in following a potty directive.
3. Seems interested in the toilet.  My son was interested all right until it was time to sit down on one. Oh the screams of terror even on his own potty.
4. Sit down and get up from potty. He would do it, but had no intention of making a deposit.
5. Poops on a predictable schedule.  My son definitely did that. but would suck it back up when he was placed on the potty - and would wait for long periods of time if needed until the diaper was back on before relieving himself.

I soon realized that the list of "signs" was to be used as a loose guideline, not as gospel, for understanding when your child is ready to potty.

Tip #1
Your child will potty on their own timetable, not yours or anyone else's.  Never mind that I started at 9-10 months (per my mom), my son was simply not ready at that time, and he couldn't care less about how embarrassed it made me, or how much treats he missed out on.  I toiled many days trying to get him engaged in the process; offering bribes, showing my disappointment, etc.  His will didn't budge until he was ready.  Once that happened, I was able to use positive reinforcement to motivate him (praise,sweets, his favorite pj's and underwear) to get him trained. 

You need to be patient and know that it will happen, but just not all on your terms.  When you let go of your frantic demeanor, your child will relax too, and come into their own at the right time for them.

Friday, January 27, 2017

#Daycare: Is mine a cesspool, or just plain normal?

That dreaded sign on your child's daycare classroom door notifying you of the latest confirmed case of craziness to hit reared its ugly head for me YET AGAIN.  The third time in one month alone I've seen.  First it was lice, then strep, now pinkeye.  My son managed to avoid lice, but unfortunately got pummeled with strep throat and pinkeye almost 1-2 days after the signs were posted.  The previous month it was Hand, Foot, and Mouth (I was going to pass out if my son caught that) and an upper respiratory infection.  I'm sick of this and although I know kids are going to get sick at school and daycare, but I can't help but wonder if these are signs that my daycare isn't very sanitary.

Evidence for the theory...

In addition to the multiple signs of confirmed illnesses:

1. The smell.  It hits you in the face when you walk down the hall towards the classrooms.  Urine.  Emanating from the bathrooms.  Sometimes you smell it only in the afternoon, but there are plenty of times when it's strong early in the morning as well.
2. A Critter Control van on site when I arrive...I'll let you draw your own conclusions about that (but there are no pets allowed on the premises).

Troubling still...

While my son was still out with pinkeye, the daycare called to ask when he'd be returning back.  The administrator then casually told me, "Oh yeah, on that subject... Wanted to let you know it seems we've got a stomach bug going around.  Okay, you have a good day!" I didn't know I could feel dejected and disgusted simultaneously - until then.  So you mean to tell me that there's a chance my son will catch that as soon as he returns?  She tried to answer in a way to comfort me, "You'll be happy to know that we are serious about this and are sanitizing the classroom tonight!" I couldn't find solace in that information because it was the first time I'd heard it since the beginning of the school year when we enrolled!  That was the last bit that supported my theory of this daycare being downright nasty.  Now I just don't know what to think.  We waited months to get enrolled here because of the great academic curriculum they have.  My toddler is thriving; family and friends are seeing the changes in his language skills, motor skills, literacy  development and math development.  I don't want to jump out of the pot into the fire, so to speak, and move him to another site that is just as bad and also lacks the academic components.

The Jury is Still Out...

There are arguments both for or against the theory that getting sick 2 times a month is atypical and something to be worried about.  I for one feel that getting sniffles and a cough 2x a month is totally different than things like strep and pink eye floating around the classroom multiple times a month. But at this point, all I can do is wait and see.  I've heard that once spring rolls around, the illness will follow winter out.  Fingers crossed.

Raising Generation Alpha

Thanks for joining me as I journey through life as a parent of a little one! I look forward to sharing my experiences, reviews, thoughts, and questions with parents like you.  I also encourage you to comment on your experiences as well - I believe there is indeed strength in numbers.

This isn't your average cookie-cutter mom blog. There won't be many blogs about DIY crafts or how to make rasberry tort.  We will be discussing what worked for us as parents, our fears, and our thoughts, in current events and other lifestyle topics that modern moms are interested in.