Friday, June 19, 2009

Tips on Making This Summer Fly By and Child Abuse Prevention Tips

Last weekend was super fabulous! A weekend alone with a few of my peers and lots of beers. I came home ready to be a super mom and spouse. Emotionally engaged with all 3 of my kids, and darling husband, planning plenty of activities, loads of patience, no yelling, and no excessive t.v. watching.

My plans were foiled by my sick boys. We can't leave the house. Fevers, and a cough that leaves them gasping for breath. I thought Mike was feeling better yesterday and had my sitter, Sarah, take them to the park. But then Mike came home and went to bed at 6:30pm! And slept straight through the night for 13 hours! This is unheard of behavior from my active guy. And he is even taking a nap, willingly, at 12:30pm in the afternoon!! Me and Bekah are bored silly and she is driving me nuts.

I completely lost my patience with her this morning. And then was stricken with guilt. Bekah is 3 and therefore in the throes of the Criminally Insane Threes which make the Terrible Twos look like a walk in the park. She loves to tease and torture me and her brothers. She loves to ask me all day long for things we either don't have or she knows she can't have. Today she has asked for french fries, oranges, and chips. We don't have french fries at all, we do have plums, strawberries, apples, nectarines, watermelon, grapes, bananas and cantaloupe. I gave her some Sun Chips and she threw them on the ground said, "These aren't potato chips.". She got a time-out for that rudeness and we temporarily extinguished that behavior.

So then she moves onto torturing Jake. Who is just generally fussy and cranky and it's just a lot more pleasant around here if we can keep Jake happy. I blew up a beach ball for him to play with and he was thrilled. He runs around the corner and Bekah steals it from him and he starts to shriek. Everyone covers their ears and wine glasses start breaking. And Bekah is laughing. That was the final straw. I told Bekah she is going on another time out and she said, "No!". I really hate it when my kids tell me no. So I walk up to her to escort her to the time-out room. She starts running all over the house and I tell her if she continues to run her time-out gets longer and longer. So finally I have to chase her and once I get her, all my patience has completely dissappeared.

I squeezed her arm way too hard, I yelled way too loud and then said, "You better pull your shit together or this is going to be a long ass day!!!". And then I slammed the door. And I immediately felt like an asshole. Ugh, she is only 3 years old and I am yelling and swearing at her, this is not the best summer in the universe that I had envisioned.

I put her on a 5 minute time-out so I could pull my shit together. We then hugged and kissed and I apologized. I then told her what I expected from her for the rest of the day:
-No asking for things we don't have in the house. We have fruit in a fruit bowl on the kitchen table and that is for snacks.
-No teasing her brothers by taking their toys or sticking her hands and feet in their faces.
-I also told her she couldn't have any snack or her chewable vitamin until she gets dressed.

We then danced to a kid's c.d. that doesn't make me crazy. And completed our Father's Day Craft. Those are the pictures listed below. I made cloth books and put velcro on the pages so that my kids could take felt shapes of their father's favorite activities and stick them on the pages.



We played with some Legos, Hotwheels, the water table outside and then ate lunch. Now Jake and maybe Mike are both napping. Bekah is doing quiet time in our rec room watching Dora and eating grapes. And as I sat down to do some blogging I realized my mistake. I made a great plan for summer that involved us LEAVING the house. I had forgotten to make up plans for days where for whatever reason we are stuck inside. I should have known better because last summer there were so many wildfires we were stuck inside for a few days at a time, so I need to plan for that.
So the rest of this post is going to be links for indoor activities for kids and ways for moms to not lose their shit (minds). Print this and put it on the fridge, I am.
-My first link is to the Child Abuse Prevention Council. Don't think you are above that, it can happen. The site is full of resources but the page I sent you to reccommends to just Take A Minute. This morning I took 5 minutes locked in the bathroom taking deep breaths.
-Next is not a link but an email that my friend Danica sent to my N.E.O. Mom's Club. She needed to peel her son away from the t.v. and came across this list of activities. I quickly went scrambling for it this afternoon to share with all of you.
1. Button Sorting ? Buy a bag of buttons at your local craft store andhave your child sort them however s/he wants to, by color, size,number of threading holes, etc. An older child can count the sorted piles. I use little plastic cups from the party store that I think are for condiments or something. But they are shallow and non breakable.
2. Placemat per Night ? Buy a stack of blank paper placemats from theparty supply store. Have your preschooler color a new placemat to eat off of for the evening. S/he can make a new one each night as make on for other family members. Great during dinner prep.
3. Wash Day ? This sounds silly, but kids adore it. Fill a large bucket with some mild soap, like Ivory. Allow your child to wash washcloths or dish towels. Provide another bucket (or rinse the firstout) to rinse, and then hang them with clothes pins and a string inthe bathroom. This helps the child learn that clothes get clean via aprocess, not just "magic" Or have them wash their play dishes, tea party set etc.
.4. Shaving Cream Cars ? Put a mild, unscented shaving cream on a cookie sheet with a lip (sometimes called a brownie sheet or jelly-roll pan). Allow your child to drive cars and trains through the"snow". Those learning to write letters can attempt their letters with an index finger and erase to try again easily.
5. Painting the driveway or deck ? On a sunny day, give your child a container of water and a real painter's brush (wide with a thick handle) and allow h/her to paint away. The sun evaporates the water quickly, and the kids love to see the cause and effect of painting.
6. Big Paper Bag Hats ? Using a large, shopping-sized paper bag, cut alarge shape and staple it closed except for the bottom portion. Invite
your child to decorate however h/she wants, then the child can try iton and you can adjust with staples accordingly.
7. Aromatherapy Play-Dough -- Homemade play-dough is easy to make andwhen you add a couple of tsps. Lavender oil (or eucalyptus if the child has a stuffy nose), children get the benefits of calming scents while they knead and create. A very "downtime" activity. Play Dough Recipe 1 cup flour
cup salt
1 cup water
1 tablespoon oil (of your choosing)
1/8 cup cream of tartar
Mix all ingredients in a sauce pan. Cook and stir over low/medium heat until play dough is completely formed and no longer sticky. Allow to cool slightly before storing in an air tight container or zip lock bag
8. Matching Pasta ? sorting and matching are pre-math activities. Glue a different type of pasta (shape, color, whatever) to the bottomof a plastic cup ? clear works well; then provide the child a bag or cup full of a mixture of all kinds of the pastas to sort. Counting can be added when the child is ready.
9. Cutting Lines ? Preschoolers and scissors = hours of entertainment.To teach fine motor skills, draw lines (all kinds ? dotted, swirly,straight) lengthwise on a piece of plain paper. Ask your child tofollow the line you've drawn with scissors. You can even put a sticker at the end as a goal target. Start easy, build gradually.
10. Collage Mania ? This also makes a great homemade gift for afriend. Get a small tackle box and fill each compartment with adifferent glue-able item (pom-poms, rickrack, magazine cut outs,pieces, feathers, beans, buttons, pasta, etc.) add a glue bottle or stick and you have the makings of a collage activity at a moment's notice. You can even bring this to a restaurant to ease theboredom/restlessnes s factor there.
11. Lacing ? Lacing cards are easily made. Take some cardboard and cuta shape or animal that your child likes or needs to learn. Punch holesaround the perimeter (less for younger children, more for older), thentie a shoestring to one end and show the child how to lace. Great forsmall motor skills, great for a restaurant.
12. Tweezers ? Give your child a set of blunt tweezers. Fill a smallbowl with items like a tissue, a cotton ball, feathers, pipe cleaners? get creative. Invite your child move the items from one bowl toanother bowl using only the tweezers. Super small motor strengtheningactivity.
13. Musical Drawing ? Invite your child to draw to match the mood ofmusic that you put on ? marching music, classical, rock ? whatever. This can be done with watercolors too.
14. Choose the Mood ? Draw a plain head with no facial features. Makemany copies. Allow your child to draw the face with different moods:happy, sad, disappointed, hurt, etc.; another good restaurantactivity. For kids who have a hard time articulating their feelings,this can be a tool to let them show how they feel.
15. Animal Doctor ? The word veterinarian is a hard one for preschoolers. But Animals doctor works just fine. Provide a small Tupperware container of bandages and other first aid items obtainedfrom the drugstore (or even the dollar store). If your child needs something to do or you need a moment to breath, bring out the box and say something along the lines of "I think I just heard Brown Bear cry,I hope he's okay. Will you check?" This is good for teaching empathyas well as just plain fun, my kids always love trying on the role of sole caregiver
.16. Easy tambourine ? this is an oldie but a goody. Have your childcolor or paint on the underside of 2 paper plates. Staple the sidestogether leaving a small opening. Using a funnel, allow your child topour about ? cup of beans or rice into the pocket, then staple thehole up. Instant fun ? add some music and your child will be loving life.
17. Ladle Fishing ? Using a large bin or wash basin (dollar store isgreat for these) ? drop toys or household items into the bin andinvite your child to "fish" for specific items. Can you get the yellow block? Oops, looks like you got the blue alligator, try again!Helps to teach shapes and colors without the child even knowing it!
18. Tupperware Galore ? Tupperware is of endless fun to this group. Keep you family's supply in a low cabinet that the child can easily access. Ask for your child's help in finding a matching lid to a specific container ? even if you don't really need it. This not only teaches matching and provides tactile stimulation, but lets the childf eel the pride of being helpful.
19. Pace It Out ? How many steps is it from your bedroom to the stairs? How about from the kitchen to the laundry area? How about when I pace it or Daddy does? This is a good one for line-waiting boredom.I wonder how many steps it is over to that water fountain. One of mykids even made a little journal listing the paces to and from various places.
20. Nature Bracelet ? Using very sticky tape like packing tape or ducttape, make a "bracelet" by reversing the tape so the adhesive side is out. Go on a walk and let your child create a bracelet with what h/shefinds along the way. This can also be done at home with feathers
.21. What's in the Bag? Using any bag that isn't transparent, put 5 ors o items in the bag such as a spoon, a cup, whatever you find. Haveyour child close his/her eyes and feel in the bag to guess what is inside. This is a good family activity too as the child can add things to the bag to stump mom or dad.
22. Spin the Bottle ? Not the traditional kind! Spin the bottle, and whomever it lands on has to pay the spinner a compliment, even if the bottle lands back on the spinner! Kids love this and it teaches themt o notice good traits in others, as well as feel good about themselve swhen others compliment them!
23. Hide and Go Find ? Place objects around the house in a fairly obvious way. Then ask your child to go find something red in theliving room, etc. This is fun and can be played with any number of kids.
24. Shoebox Wagon ? The next time you have an empty shoebox, punch a hole in the side, tie a yarn or ribbon line to it and set a teddy bear or stuffed animal in it. Let your child discover it in your home andh/she will adore pulling it around and making up scenarios with it andstuffed animals.
25. Large Craft Stick People ? Using a handful of large craft sticks,draw faces on each one (perhaps representing family members) and wrapthem up in a pretty bag for your child. Allow him/her to add detailswith crayons and even provide extra sticks for older ones to makehis/her own nation of stick buddies. Another good one for restaurants.
26. What Sifts Through? A messy but fun one, perhaps for outdoortime. Using a colander and a basin, give your child a variety of cupsfilled with various things ? rice, sand, blocks, beans, etc. Invite him/her to explore what can fir through the colander's holes. This is great for pre-math and visual spatial relationships.
27. What floats? Using a basin of water, give your child a cup o rcontainer of items to see which ones float. You can discuss heavy andlight and how size doesn't always indicate weight.
28. Paper Bag Puppets -- Using brown paper bags (an inexpensive necessity!), draw faces of a dog, a cat, etc. and invite your child to do the same, on the bottom of the bag. You can even glue items likeyard and feathers to make fun and funny puppets. These puppets have taught lessons in our house, as I have put on little plays with themto teach the importance of being kind, or manners, or cleaning upafter oneself.
29. Produce Printing ? Using washable tempura paint, fill a paperplate with paint and cut a number of produce items in half in front ofyour child. You take one half and give your child the other. Dip inpaint and print on paper. This makes nice gift wrap!
30. Large Paper Tabletop ? Buy a roll of shipping/packaging recycledpaper. Roll it out onto a table or breakfast bar for the day or week,securing it with tape or clothespins. Provide a cup of crayons, asmall basket of stickers, washable stamps, etc. An instant, easy activity that is great when a buddy is over as well.
31. My Journal ? Buy a journal at the dollar store and a beautifulwriting pencil or interesting crayon and give it to your child todoodle, write, or simply scribble. Let him/her know that it is forhim/her only and that it doesn't need to be shared or shown to anyone.This makes the child feel so grown up.
32. Pasta Necklace ? Another oldie but goody. Using strong string(not yarn) and tube shaped pasta, let the beading begin. Be prepared to be asked to wear these creations, and do so!33. Straws and Cotton Balls ? keep these in a bag together and inviteyour child to make the cotton ball "run" using only his/her breaththrough the straw. H/she can use different colored straws to see ifone makes the cotton ball go further than another color.
34. Volcano World ? This is a production, but whenever I did it, the kids played with it all day long exclusively. In a small jar (babyfood sized is ideal) put in enough baking soda to fill the jarhalfway, add a few drops of red or orange food coloring if desired,build a "mountain" around the jar, leaving an opening to pour vinegari nto the jar later. Using plastic animals or dinosaurs let your childplay with them on the mountain and then, with great drama, add the vinegar. A containable and safe "explosion" will occur. SO fun!
35. Paper Chain ? Using strips of construction paper, let your child make a loop garland using tape or a stapler. Make sure you are near ifa stapler is being used. Older kids can write on the strips ? my kids write what their favorite things are, or colors, etc. And the chain becomes a monument to that list, "My favorite foods chain", etc. ? tohang in a bedroom or playroom.
36. Magnets Galore ? At the craft supply store, purchase a dozen or so painted wooden figures. These are very cheap - .25 cents each, I believe. Super glue a small magnet to each one and purchase a small cookie sheet for magnet play. When you are cooking, you can bring this out to occupy a little "helper". Store this on top of the refrigerator and only pull it out occasionally to keep it fresh. You can add magnets as your child develops new interest. This also makes a lovely homemade gift.
37. Lunch a New Way For a casual lunch, use a 6 count muffin tin and put a different food in each spot. You can use one of the spotsfor the child's drink. This is great on rainy or indoor days whensome excitement is needed.(Hey this chick stole my idea!)
38. Bread and Dough Sculptures ? making a simple pretzel or pizza dough is easy and when kids can make shapes or animals out of itbefore it bakes, all the better. Here's a recipe I use: Pretzel Dough:1 tablespoons quick-acting yeast1 cup water1 teaspoon sugar1 teaspoon salt2 cups flour1 tablespoon oilPreheat over to 400 degrees. Measure the water, sugar and yeast into abowl and mix. Wait two or three minutes for the yeast to soften. Stirin one cup of flour, then add oil, salt and remaining cup of flour.Sprinkle flour onto a wooden breadboard and place the dough on it.Knead dough for about five minutes. Place dough in a bowl and coverit, letting it rise for about 45 minutes in a warm place away from drafts, open windows, etc. Punch the dough down and work it into aball. Next, separate the dough into smaller portions and let thechildren use their hands to roll the dough into ropes or snakes tomold dough into different shapes. After combining ingredients, showchildren how to knead the dough and let them try. There's no need towait for it to rise.Let them brush their pretzel with a beaten egg, sprinkle with sesameseed, and bake at 400 for about 10 minutes, until light brown.
39) Frozen Ants -- Ask your preschool child to peel a banana and cut into two or three small pieces with a plastic knife. Spread peanutbutter on each piece then roll each piece in raisins. Wrap loosely inwaxed paper and freeze. Your young child may want to eat right away so have more than one banana available.
40) Teddy Bear Fort ? Kids always make forts for themselves, but whatabout their favorite doll or stuffed animal? Help your child getstarted and h/she will take it from there.
41) Can You Find It? Hide a variety of small objects in a basin ofrice or sand and ask him/her to find specific objects by feeling alone.
42) Which is longer? Cut strips of construction paper to different lengths. Ask your child to find the longest green strip, the shortest red one, etc. Categorizing options are many here and easy for thechild to do without frustration.
43) Pajama Day ? Let your child stay in his/her jammies all day andeat breakfast foods all day. Gather up all of your lullaby music andnighttime books. Let your child use a flashlight all day and make ateddy bear bed out of a shoebox.
44) Animal Search & Find ? Give your child a stack of a few magazines and ask him/her to find as many animals as possible. H/she may chooseto cut them out with safety scissors.
45) Cup Tower -- Have your child stack paper or plastic cups into atower and then knock them down. Watching them all fall around is halfthe fun!
46) Make a rainbow streamer. Take a paper plate, punch 5-6 holes next to one another along one side of the paper plate, cut out the middle,and tie ribbons to each hole. Encourage your child to run and dancewhile trailing his/her creation.
47) Tea and a Tea Tree ? Buy a very fancy tea cup and saucer for yourchild ? Ross or Marshall's works well for this. Buy a collection ofherbal teas and perhaps some stevia, honey or agave nectar to sweeten.Let your child choose from a variety of teas. After you have your hightea together, hang the used tea bag on a tree outside. When it rains,it will "rain" tea!
48) Giving Back ? Every once and awhile, make cookies for the mailcarrier or garbage truck workers. If it's hot, hand them a Gatoradebox or popsicle. When you do this, be sure to talk about how hardthese people are working and how thankful we are that they do whatthey do. This remains one of my kids' favorite activities and memories, and the mail carrier thinks it's pretty great too!
49) Tissue Box Mailbox. When you have an empty tissue box, gather up some junk mail, write your child's name on the side and allow him/herto play with opening mail, putting it through the slot and feelinglike a grown up. H/she can decorate it as well.
50) Weather Chart Make a circular pie chart Party supply stores have cake making supplies that work well for this), punch a hole in the middle and use a brad to secure a sturdy cardboard. Making as manysections as you wish, draw simple weather shapes. Encourage your childto notice the weather and change the chart whenever h/she notices thechanges. How many different types of weather can happen in one day? Hang this low or on the refrigerator so h/she can access.
A Last Couple of Notes:Messiness It is hard to watch your home become a chaotic mess from preschool activities. Try to let that go. These are the years that they need to learn with all of their senses and curtailing that only means stunting learning opportunities. That said, they shouldn't be allowed to rule the roost either. Designate an area in your home(ours is the kitchen table, which I figure I'll be cleaning anyway)for any messy activities. Encourage your child to help you clean, evenin the most basic way, such as; will you pick up that spoon while I wipe down the table.
I think those are great activities for kids but now I am on a quest for stuff for moms to do to take a break without abandoning the kids:
-I am computer oriented and I guess you are too which is why you are reading my blog. How about taking a Facebook break? Re-connect with family and friends and play a stupid game just to take the load off.
-I need to look at funny pictures or read funny stuff to make me happy and relaxed.
-How about prayer? Can't hurt right?
-Stress relievers you can do with your kids.
Hang in there everybody!!

6 comments:

✩Molly✩ said...

I loved this post. There are so many great ideas for keeping small and even bigger children busy :) I didnt even make it through them all, but am excited to share them with my sisters and in laws, all very busy with so many kids at home in the summertime :)

I swear, before I had children, I used to think, HOW ON EARTH could anyone EVER hurt their own child, but as I have spend the last 2.5 years as a mother, I completely understand it, and felt somewhat relieved to know that I am not the only one who sometimes loses their cool, and takes a time out for the misbehaving child AND myself :)

So glad I found your blog. :) It brightened my day.

✩Molly✩ said...

I hope you dont mind i linked to your post here http://redrawlins.blogspot.com/2009/06/is-summer-already-driving-you-wonky.html

Charlotte said...

Phew, thank you Molly. I took the kids swimming later in the day and then started beating myself up. I started to chastise myself for publishing that post and thought OMG soembody is going to call Child Protective Services on my ass.

Hopefully everyone who reads this can relate and not turn away in disgust.

Anonymous said...

Honestly i applaud your honesty. Wow, that was completely uneloquent. One time I was going absolutely bonkers one night, my husband was working overtime and my daughter refused to stand as I fought to make an impossible key fit into the slot in the door, she screamed for NO reason as loud as she could... I told her if she didnt stop screaming, I would give her something to scream about and bit my daughter on the arm.... yup, I really did it. That was the first and last time I ever lashed out in anger.... as I saw that she was even MORE upset and completely unsure why I would do such a thing....

I then truly understood, that we can lose our patience and our minds.... My best trick now is definitely to tell her that she needs to sit and think about her actions, setting her on the couch, and walking away...

Oh the joys of parenthood.
After I finished writing this I realized I probably shouldn't attach my name to it, but I thought it still might help you feel better even if by Anonymous.

Charlotte said...

I am not offended that you didn't attach your name to that. I really understand the mind losing thing. It's like who is that horrible person yelling at my kids, oh wait that's me! So then I chill out.

Sula Lee said...

Thank you for your post! I so appreciate your honesty. We all have our moments with our kids where we know we can do better. What kills us is not admiting it and letting everyone else think we are perfect - and then they in turn hate themselves and think they have to be perfect. Such a vicious cycle. I never would have thought to post the link for the child abuse prevention, but you are right - NONE OF US ARE ABOVE THAT! I have a 3 year old girl myself, and they certainly can drive you totally insane! A timeout can be good for all! Thanks again!!