Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

My darling little girls decided they wanted to be 'pink princesses' this year.  And for those not in the know, pink princess means Sleeping Beauty, aka Princess Aurora.  We have reached the age where mommy doesn't get to pick out their cute costumes anymore, but it is way more fun to have your child run up and down the aisles looking at all of the fun costume ideas.  I just LOVE Halloween and all the crazy stuff that goes along with it. 

Happy Halloween everybody!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Reward Charts

Lately my preschooler has been fighting going to bed and taking naps.  Sigh. If they only knew how great sleep was, right?  Kids fight sleep and yet have no idea how much we would LOVE to take naps and go to bed early.

So after years of doing reward charts for clients as a professional, one of my friends suggested I do a reward chart to get my child to sleep. Hello?  Mommy brain freeze. I don't know why I didn't think of that before :)

If you have been battling a chore, getting them to do homework, or going to bed at your house, reward charts are a great way to encourage your child to, ahem, behave and actually complete whatever task it is you are trying to get accomplished.  (If you want to read more about bedtime routines, I also blogged about them here)

Here are a few tips to get started:

1) If you have a young child, make sure they understand what it is you are trying to get them to do. If it's sleep: "Megan, I know you really don't want to go to sleep and rest, but rest is important for us to grow and get bigger!"  And explain what it means to rest. In our house, our daughter knows that rest time means she has to stay in her bed, and only call for us if she needs to go to the bathroom, or is sick and uses her quiet voice when reading a book in bed.

Or if it's picking up toys, make sure it's realistic such as you giving them 10 items to pick up off the floor and put in a bin.  Young children can't be expected to, "pick up all of your toys and put them back where they belong."  Give them a few items and tell them where they need to go.  It also helps to sing a 'clean-up' song.

2) Explain to them what a reward chart is: "Megan, since you have not been wanting to pick up your toys before bedtime, we are going to make a chart to help.  Each time you pick up the toys and put them back where they belong, then you will get a sticker on the chart!!  If you get (4) stickers, then you get to pick out a prize."

3) Prizes.  This can get tricky. We encourage prizes to be non-food related, so as not to associate food with rewards.  Prizes can be anything from picking out something from the Dollar Bins at Target or Dollar Tree, or giving a sticker sheet to even the 5$ bin at some stores (there is a 5$ bin at Target in the princess toy aisle).  Or if they are older, you can give them a bigger prize for a month's worth of stickers.

Another idea is to have a treasure box, and put little dollar store items in it, then once they accumulate 'x' amount of stickers, they can pick something out of the treasure box!

If you are not wanting to give material objects, then you can think of other rewards such as 30 minutes of finger painting, or some sort of art activity that is reserved for special times.
You can also give the reward of watching their favorite movie (if you don't let them do that all the time that is :).

I love the 'Alone Time' prize too, where the child gets alone time with each parent (of course it will require some planning for this :)

4) Make the chart!  Here is the fun part.  You can design your own chart, or you can order one online (see below).
With young children, start with 4 days since to them 4 days is like a month to adults.
If you are making one, make sure to draw out the chart with the days and a space for the picture of what it is they are needing to do.
Draw a picture of the goal, or use the pictures provided on the chart. Children need to see a visual of what the goal is to help motivate them, and to help them understand what the heck is going on :)

Get some star stickers or use whatever their favorite stickers are and once they complete the task, have them put their own stickers in the right square to help motivate them and empower their choice in doing what was asked of them.

You can also post a picture of the reward they are working for at the top of the page, so they can be more motivated to follow through.

See, not so hard huh?  You can add as many goals are just have one on your chart, depending on what you are wanting to accomplish.

This chart,
Kenson Kids - "I Can Do It" Reward and Responsibility Chart Made in the USA, (19.99$) has 20 pictures of chores/behaviors you can stick on and comes with the stars.  It even has the 'go to bed and stay in bed' picture!

The Melissa & Doug Deluxe Magnetic Responsibility Chart (19.99 on Amazon), comes with 90 magnets and pictures with behaviors and rewards such as 'get ready for bed', and 'say please and thank you'.

 Or you can just use a blank one and print it out yourself and fill in the blanks like this one:

Or this cute one!  Click on the link and then download it.

How about you, do you have great reward chart ideas that have worked in your home?
Monday, October 14, 2013

Best New Toys 2013

Just a quick post tonight on Time to Play's list of top toys for 2013.  For those that want to start shopping for the holidays:

I am so excited about the new Big Hugs Elmo and all the new Doc McStuffins toys!
Sunday, October 6, 2013

Mommy Relaxation

Being a part of the Blog Her network, they asked a few of us bloggers if we had any posts about Moms taking Breaks and Relaxation, or basically any mom post NOT related to parenting.  I thought, surely I had written something like that, because it's one of the most important task for moms.  If moms don't take breaks, then they aren't going to be the best parent.

But as I looked through all of my posts, gasp, I didn't have one!  So alas, this post is long overdue about mommy time, relaxing and taking breaks, kid-free.

As a woman and a mother, whether you work outside the home or are a stay at home mom, responsibilities fall on you like no tomorrow.  Your partner can have all the best intentions in the world and be the best helper out there, but they still don't think of everything.  Period.  When we go to bed at night, our mind races and we are thinking: Did I pack enough for her lunch tomorrow?  I hope my baby doesn't cry when I drop her off at daycare tomorrow.  I need to order the shoes for her Halloween costume.  Oh, yeah, I forgot to call a sitter for our date night next weekend.  Did I run the dishwasher? I need to wash her favorite dress tomorrow morning because she needs to wear it on Saturday.  My kids pooped today, right? 

Am I right or what? What husband/partner has these things running through their head? And believe me, there are a ton more thoughts we think of, those were just the first few minutes.

So it goes without saying that moms need a break too and to be better mommies!  You can't be a sane, mentally healthy parent if you aren't well rested (and have kid free, breaks :).

Here are a few tips for new mommies and old, stay at home mommas and working crazy hour mommas.  And yes, hello, a beach vacation is. so the best. relaxation tip. ever.  But when we can't take a vacay:

1) For Newborn Mommas: If you have a newborn, you are glued to the baby non-stop for feeding, holding and rocking.

When several of my friends went through the baby blues, they thought they were going to lose it with the stress of a new baby. So the best advice I could give was to get out of the house.  For just 30 minutes, find time to get away to gain a little sanity back.  I know it's hard to leave, but first feed your baby, then have your partner or family member watch the baby and go.  Just go. Walk around Target, buy a trashy tabloid magazine and gaze around you at the wonder of life without a baby. Yes, life does go on. The hard part is realizing you can never just take off and run an errand on a whim without planning on who is watching your child. It's no longer just you.  Which leads me to the next tip:

2) Plan Some Free Time!
You now have to schedule your free time once you have a child.  But do schedule it, put it on the calendar.  Whatever it is you need to do to relax, schedule it so you will actually do it.  And allow yourself this time.  If you work outside the home, you want to spend all of your free time with your kids at night, and on the weekends, but you STILL need some time away.  So schedule it already.