Posts Tagged ‘kids’

Teaching Kids to Be Thankful

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

Teaching Kids to Be ThankfulYou just can’t convince me that a good fall breeze, beautiful leaves, or a Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks can’t make everything better. I love hoodies and all things outdoors. This is my family’s first fall in Arkansas, so I am learning to love the heat (still) and the joys of Saturday morning soccer in the fall. With this season comes a time of reflection and thankfulness.

But how do we teach small children to be thankful? In a world where kids seek satisfaction first and think toys and material goods are the key to happiness, I am perplexed. I am only 32, but I feel like the world I grew up in was different from this one. Here are some ideas on how to teach your little ones to be thankful this fall season.

Serve Others
Thanksgiving is a time when many go without food and fancy meals. You can volunteer with your local church or other civic organization. Food pantries are a great way to show kids that not everyone has a pantry stocked week-to-week. If you have toddlers, seek an organization that will allow you to bring your little ones. If you’re still a mom to a baby, consider baby wearing. (Like we need another excuse to wear our Tula!) Many communities have Thanksgiving dinners that need volunteers. Have your kids help you make small bags to donate to local organizations. October 15 was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness day. My local MOPS group made small bags to donate to hospitals for moms who have experienced loss. Kids can help stuff bags, make cards, or even help deliver.

Get Crafty
Pinterest is full of fun ideas for fall crafts. Break out the finger paints, markers, and crayons and have your toddlers make small crafts for those they are thankful for this year. We recently purchased a pack of cardstock and made pumpkins for each door in our house. Everyone has a pumpkin bedroom door now. My daughter loves to make crafts for her Mimi and Grammy. If you have a baby, you can still do a fun fingerprint craft.

Get into the Conversation
One fun way to teach our kids to be thankful is to get talking. My daughter just turned 4, and it has been fun talking about who we are thankful for this fall. We were given a small wooden board from Target with clothespins, and each Sunday, we change it up. I sit with her and ask her what she is thankful for this week. I then take small post-it notes and write down her responses. This board hangs by the garage door where we see it daily and we talk about those things for the week. Her first response was Jesus, and this week it was Levi’s naps. (Her 2-year-old brother has recently given up napping.) I added a healthy baby and she even wanted me to write down Paw Patrol and Daddy’s job. It will amaze you what your kids are thankful for and how much they really do notice.

While I don’t have the answer on how to teach our little ones to be thankful toddlers, I do know it’s important that they are aware of the gifts they have. I know I could learn from Johanna and take some tips on how to be thankful for today and what I have. I want my children to grow up to be thankful, appreciative adults. I don’t want to fail them as a mom who is always wishing for more or dissatisfied with the present.

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of two, almost three, in Arkansas where she is thankful for Shopkins and naptime so she can blog.

Hiking with Kids

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

img_7455One of our family’s favorite activities is hiking. When we decided where to locate pre-kids, we decided on Denver since there are so many places to hike in Colorado.  In the summer of 2012, we planned one last backpacking trip before we started to try to have kids.  We saw a family hiking up the trail in the opposite direction on our last day.  Trailing far behind the rest of the family was the miserable looking father, carrying a child, plus what looked like gear and water for the others.  I jokingly said to my husband, “That’s going to be you soon!” once they had passed. We had a good laugh, but we had a lot to learn about hiking with kids. The following tips to make certain no one looks as miserable as that poor father did.

  1. Research and try on a kid carrier before purchasing one. Be prepared to spend some money.  Your hips, shoulders, rest of your body will thank you. While our kids were still little, I carried them using my soft-structured carrier. Some people still use their woven wraps to carry big kids. When they were about 10 months, though, we purchased hiking carriers. Just like a good hiking backpack, make sure you find one that will allow you to adjust the load between your hips and shoulders.

  2. Make sure your kids stay hydrated. Even living in Denver, when we go up to the mountains, the elevation affects us. If we’re feeling the elevation, the kids are too. We encourage Lily to drink water often. To prepare Juniper for the hike, I would nurse her in the car before starting, on any breaks we took, and once we were finished hiking. I didn’t use a nursing cover with my girls, so I made sure to wear a nursing tank under my hiking shirt. Now that Juniper is a year old, we bring her water too. We also bring an extra liter of water on top of what we normally bring to ensure the whole family is properly hydrated. On longer hikes, as an extra precaution, we bring our water pump.  (We split the load.)

  3. Minimize travel time. Gone are the days of waking up at 5:30, driving the two hours to Rocky Mountain National Park, hiking, then driving the two hours back home. We have found many hikes closer to home, within forty-five minutes of our house. Although the views are slightly less spectacular, everyone is much happier with the decreased travel time.

  4. Related to #3, plan your hike length appropriately. Even with frequent breaks and allowing Lily to hike on her own, our kids have about an hour and a half tolerance for hiking. Lily no longer naps, but when she did, we would try to plan to hike during naps so we could go on longer hikes. Be prepared to move slowly if you have a little one hiking on their own. Lily loves finding pine cones, sticks, rocks, and other treasures.  All the exploring greatly decreases the pace we move at.

  5. Expand your first-aid kit. When it was just the two of us, a first aid kit that only included limited bandaids, antibiotic cream, an ace bandage, and ibuprofen was sufficient. We’ve added Children’s Benadryl, extra sunscreen, emergency rain ponchos, additional bandaids, alcohol wipes, and tweezers. In addition to our expanded first aid kit, we also make sure we have a change of clothes for the girls and diapers for the baby.

Although hiking with kids is a little different that hiking pre-kids, it can be just as much fun (if not more).  Now it is not just a hobby that my husband and I share, it a favorite activity of the whole family.

Becky Nagel is a stay at home mom to two girls, a three year old and a one year old, in Denver, CO who enjoys cooking for her family, running, and hiking.

How You Know You’re Done Having Babies

Saturday, June 18th, 2016

How to Know When You're Done Having BabiesThey say that when you know you’re done having babies you know. There is a moment when you know you’re finished: the glamour has worn off, you see the rawness of motherhood. Maybe, like me, you’ve seen what the preschool years bring and can see how the babies and toddlers turn into bigger kids who are busy, loud and fun.

So here we go, my five signs you’re done having kids!

  1. You suddenly want to purge every baby item in your house. With exception to the few items you must keep for your own nostalgia, you’re ready to KonMari every single rattle, bloomer, and onesie you find. That lovely adorable first-time mom you met at the gym? You’re her new best friend with your hand-me-downs.
  2. You start to realize that the amount of laundry and chaos is not as fun as you once thought. With a newborn and toddler, the laundry, cleaning and mess was still adorable. It was signs of your budding family. You looked at the cute “My house isn’t messy, my children are making memories” memes and smiled because you loved every bit of it. Now? The bubble has burst and you see it for what it is–a chaotic disaster.
  3. It’s not a struggle to hand back the newborn. Your cousin’s sister’s newborn baby is adorable and sweet, but once she’s crying you don’t have any issue handing that little ball of angry right back to her Mama. And walking away.
  4. You enjoy the milestones a bit more. After going through a few kids myself, I find the milestones are sweeter as I know what comes next and I can see the independence brewing in my youngest. He’s suddenly capable of doing so much on his own, and It is sweet.
  5. You have moved on from the baby and toddler groups. Suddenly you no longer find the need for a toddler and baby story time group as you enjoy your own little bunch more and more. Hanging out with a bunch of babies is suddenly not as interesting.

There are days I long for a baby once more and I think back with nostalgia to the fuzzy hair and soft downy skin, and how sweet they were before they could run. But seeing how fun bigger kids can be and what they can do cures any longing for a new baby in my life. Plus, a full-night’s sleep is an incredible feeling!

Pia Watzig is a Stay at Home Mom to three crazy boys in Portland, Oregon. She enjoys knitting and attempting to keep her kids clean.

A Health Counselor’s Favorite Kid Vitamins

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 9.40.49 AMFeeding children healthy food always feels like such a loaded topic. Are they getting enough nutrients?  Are they eating mineral rich foods? Are they currently going through a food strike where they refuse to eat anything but crackers? It’s enough to pull your hair out!

Personally I tend to focus more on nutrient-dense foods (like grass-fed beef, pastured liver and butter to name a few) and stress less (yes, I still stress) about the vegetables that my daughter is eating. I’ve also added vitamins to her diet because it makes me feel better when she goes through a day refusing to eat a single fruit or vegetable.

The problem is that not every children’s vitamin is created equally. In fact, some are so full of junk that it’s a joke that they’re even labeled as vitamins. I searched high and low before deciding which ones I deemed worthy of giving my daughter and here’s what I discovered.

Probiotics. These are great for supporting gut health and especially important if your child has ever been on antibiotics. When they’re infants you can start with putting some probiotic powder on your nipple before breastfeeding. We use Raw Probiotics by Garden of Life. They’re organic and I feel good giving them to my daughter. It comes in a powder and you can’t really taste it, which makes it easy to mix with water.

Magnesium. It’s safe to say that almost everyone is magnesium deficient. Magnesium is one of the most important minerals–it helps with so many bodily functions and our modern food supply just doesn’t offer enough. I throw a handful of Epsom salts in my daughter’s bath every single time- it absorbs wonderfully through the skin. We have also used Magnesium Calm and sometimes still do, especially when we’re traveling. It’s a great powder that mixes into water and tastes good enough that my picky daughter loves it.

Multivitamin. This might be the trickiest of all! My daughter refuses to take a chalky chewable and will only eat gummy vitamins most of which are loaded with junk. We love Nordic Berries by Nordic Naturals. They are non-gmo, have no added colors, preservatives or allergens. We don’t take them everyday because I try to focus on a nutrient-dense diet but we always have them at home.

Omega 3. Another win for Nordic Naturals. They come in a variety of fun gummy shapes, from dots, to worms to squishy little fishies. They contain all of the omega 3s your child would need without any of the junk.

Jacqueline Banks is a certified Holistic Health Counselor and online fitness coach. She works with women in all stages of motherhood, from mothers struggling with conception to those trying to get their grove back after pregnancy to ensure the best health and nutrition for both mom and baby.

From a Professional: How We Do Bedtime

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

IMG_0655_2Establishing a bedtime routine is essential for the emotional and mental development of your child. As a mental health professional, my education and training have provided me with the essential tools and understanding of the benefits of this routine, and thus have spent the past five and a half years optimizing this precious time before my angelic children retire for the day.

Step 1: Dinner

As the final meal of the day, and as the only meal we eat with all family members present, this is a great opportunity to reflect on the attributes we cherish most about one another. In our household, this usually includes enthusiastic declarations of how much one child appreciates another child’s fork/plate/cup/seat, more so than their own, even, and will make such exuberant vocalizations throughout the entirety of the meal. The children will often be so enthralled with the time they are spending together as a family that the food will be left uneaten. When encouraged gently to eat, the children will take the opportunity to show the skills they have learned in self-advocacy, and independence, and declare the food before them as inedible. Such valiant leaders they will make someday!

Step 2: Bath time

This is necessary, as while no food was actually eaten, they have managed to utilize the items on their plate to decorate their clothing, the wall, and the floor. Upon preparation for bath time, you will be impressed to discover food items have made it through the shirt, the onesie, and into the diaper. You will feel such pride for your tiny magician!

Step 3: Anarchy

While you are cleaning the feces out of the tub that has hastened the conclusion of bath time, your naked darlings will make vocal declarations as their wet bodies sprint through the hallways, ignoring any and all admonitions that it is time for settling down. Optional consumption of wine is encouraged while the Scrubbing Bubbles soak into the skid marks on the side of the tub.

Step 4: Pajamas

These are optional, of course, as by the time the two year old has insisted repeatedly that he no longer requires a diaper, and the one year old continuously wrestles away before you can get the second tab on her diaper attached, you are likely to lose any and all will to actually parent. Second glass of wine is encouraged as children scream over who gets to wear the only remaining superhero pajama top, as the others always seem to disappear just in time for the evening routine.

Step 5: Negotiation

Upon announcing that it is time to officially retire to bed, your children will recall the lack of food in their bellies from abandoning their uneaten dinner, and will make dramatic declarations of their level of starvation. This is the ideal opportunity for their vocabulary development, as they will relish your colorful response and selectively remember just the words that are guaranteed to garner a phone call from the principal tomorrow. It is important to foster opportunities to invite communication with those responsible for our children’s education.

Step 6: Put the children in bed.

Step 7: Gentle Reminding

Remind the children that it is, in fact, bedtime. Consider ingesting more wine.

Step 7: Pleading

Plead with children to please, just tonight, go to bed without fighting. We do, in fact, go to bed every night, so we do understand how this works, don’t we?

Step 9: Weep

Step 10: Triage

Ignore the wrestling, crashing, and shrieking coming from the children’s bedroom to utilize mental health education and training to contact all of the therapists to undo the damage you are undoubtedly inflicting upon your children, and find one that can squeeze you in first thing in the morning.

Sleep tight!

Keighty Brigman is terrible at crafting, throwing birthday parties, and making sure there isn’t food on her face. Allegedly, her four children manage to love her anyway.