Friday, September 30, 2011

How I Do It: Get Children Ready



Before my children were in school and had places to be in the mornings, getting them ready was a relaxed process overall. We had a fun, long bath each morning. Then I dressed them, did hair, and we moved on with our day.


But now getting them ready means we have a time deadline along with gathering everything they need for the day. Here is how I do it.

What: Get children ready
When: Morning
Where: At my house
Why: Because it seems to be what you do ;)
How: Prepare/chore cards

What: Get Children Ready
I am talking about bathing, dressing, brushing teeth, doing hair, and gathering all necessary items for them to leave the house if they are leaving.

When: Morning
We do most of our getting ready in the morning. I do some preparation the night before (see the How section below). We do baths and all in the morning. That is just the way I operate.

If you have to get out of your house quickly in the morning, taking baths the night before can make it so much faster. We try to do this Saturday night since our church starts at 9 AM. Our Sunday morning is much smoother if we do Saturday night baths. I know a lot of people like to do baths at night. I just don't want to end our evening activities earlier to fit a bath in. 

I used to do baths in the morning also because I like bath time to be playtime. Most days, we don't have time for bath time to be playtime. I get a couple of days a week in for the girls (which they love--it is extra special now). 

Where: At My House
We get ready at our house.

Why: Because It is What You Do
I don't think it would be too acceptable for me to send Brayden to school each day in his pajamas :) We get ready each day. However, I do think it is fabulous to have lazy days every so often. If we have nothing to do of importance on a Saturday, we don't get ready. The children usually change into play clothes. They don't much care for playing in pajamas most days. 

Last Saturday, we decided last minute to plant a couple of new trees in the yard. We wanted to get to the nursery as soon as they opened. Brayden had changed on his own. We changed Kaitlyn because she was wearing footed pajamas. We took McKenna in her pajamas. So I am not against the lazy day every so often, and I am not so concerned about perceptions that I make sure my children are all pristine before we leave the house. I think it is good for the soul to deviate from your routine some days and just take it easy. 

How: Prepare/Chore Cards
This is the real gem of this post. There isn't much interesting in the what, why, where sections. When can be of interest, but when you do it really just depends on family life and preference. The how is where we make our time smoother!

I have two key ingredients to making my how possible. One is to prepare anything I can the night before. Two is my chore cards. These two items make it possibly for my children to be as independent as they can in the process of getting ready. It also helps everyone be efficient. I prepare what I can so they are never in need of me doing something for them while I am in the middle of something--when that happens, they have to wait a couple of minutes for me to get to a stopping point and I get slowed down. You will remember that I am often getting ready as Brayden and Kaitlyn are starting to get ready. 

Prepare
For some of you, preparing might include bathing the night before. 

For me, preparing means making sure the bathroom is ready for the next morning. We have a dual shower head in the children's bathroom and one of them is on a hose and can come down. I love this by the way! It makes washing them so easy. It also makes it very easy for Brayden to wash himself. AND you can have two children in there showering and both be in the warm water. So I make sure the shower head is down and towels are in place.

Another step to my preparation is to lay out the children's clothes the night before. This way they can themselves dressed without waiting for me. I lay each piece of clothing on the floor in the child's room in the order they put it on. So underwear, then shirt, then pants, then socks. They can deviate from that if they have a preference too--other than the underwear and pants thing. 

A third step in my preparations is to make sure backpacks are ready to go the next morning. I make sure homework is in there, library books, show and tell type items, etc. I try to do this with the child so they can learn to be personally responsible for it. For Brayden, I ask, "Is your homework in your folder? Is your folder in your backpack? When is library day? Where are your books? Put them in your backpack." I ask him questions to guide him through it. Brayden's teacher is great and sends home a paper of everything they are doing, but they have a pattern to it and I want him to be able to know what he is doing that day at school and what he needs to do to prepare for that. 

Kaitlyn is young and needs more direct guidance, "Tomorrow is sharing day in school. You are supposed to bring something blue. What would you like to bring? Okay, now put it in your backpack." 

If my next morning is going to be hectic, I also make as much of Brayden's lunch as I can the night before. I can easily gather his drink, his fruit, his vegetable, etc. in his lunchbox and stick it all in the refrigerator. Then the next morning I can finish up the rest of it quickly. 

My final step in preparing is to mentally run through what I need to do the next morning. I think about what each child needs done, what needs to be gathered, and what I need to do before anyone leaves the house. That way I am sure to do whatever I can the night before and I have a game plan for the next morning.

Chore Cards
Heaven! These things make getting ready in the morning so much easier. I have done a post on chore cards in general in the past (see Chore Cards). They were working nicely, but I still had to get every card ready the night before. I will be dedicating a post just to this, but I changed it a bit. I made an "early morning pack" for Brayden and for Kaitlyn. It has a chore card for each step each morning. Then I laminated, punched a hole, and put them on an o-ring. Fabulous! I love it. The same cards on on the ring each day. I have included every little step--even lotioning. They know what to do and what order to do it in. The last card is a picture of my shining face so they can come check with me to see if they did it all. 

This does a couple of things. One thing is it gives the child the simple steps each day. I don't have to list them off, I don't have to remind them, I don't have to re-order the cards each morning...They have their list each day. It also seems to drive them. They have a goal before them, and that is to get through their tasks. Once all tasks are complete, they can have free time until school. So they do things as quickly as they can. I don't have to nag and we don't have to panic because there are only "10 minutes left before you leave!"

Hair Tips
One thing to do each day with a girl especially is to do hair. If you think I like variety with my own hair, you should see my girls. I love trying different hair-dos and keeping it fun. They love getting their hair done. 

It can be hard to do hair on a busy little toddler. It does get easier. You will get better at doing hair on another person and more able to make straight parts on a head that shifts often. Some people put their girl in front of the television to hold her still. I have my girls stand in front of the mirror in the bathroom. It is a fun time. We talk, we look at each other in the mirror, we giggle...it is fun (admist the "hold still--don't move--the more you move the longer this will take" comments). Kaitlyn (4) is very good at holding still. McKenna (2) is pretty good, but she has her moments of wiggles, and she hasn't mastered the way to look at something by just moving your eyes and not your whole head.

You can give young toddlers a cracker. You can also give any child a toothbrush and have them brush their teeth while you do the hair. Kaitlyn loves to play the game I describe here: http://learningdevelopmentactivities.blogspot.com/2009/10/teaching-emotions.html

It can also be hard to either think of cute hairstyles or figure out how to do hair styles. I have a blog I turn to whenever I need a new idea. It is http://www.princesshairstyles.com/. So great for endless ideas. When I first found it, she didn't have much more than styles for long hair, but since then she has babysat babies and toddlers and added ideas there. Her daughter also donated her hair to Locks of Love so she had some shorter styles going on for a while. But a little tip, at least if you are like me, don't try a brand new hair do on a day when you are in a time crunch. I try my new styles on days we can take it easy. It is always easier to make a style after you have done it before. Then it just becomes part of your basics. 

That reminds me (train of thought), I want to take a picture of each style I do and then print out (and laminate of course because I am currently obsessed with laminating) a flip chart or something of hair styles I do. I sometimes draw a huge blank when I am in the moment. 

I love to use bows and flowers to finish it up. You can buy them all over the internet, but they are also quite simple to make. You can see what I have made here: http://valscreations.blogspot.com/search/label/baby%20bows. My craft blog is basically just a photo log of things I make, but if you want to know how to make any of them, let me know and I will take picture the next time I make them and post a tutorial on the craft blog. 

Conclusion
That is how I get my children ready while A) maintaining my sanity and B) remaining a nice mother. As always, please share how you do it! Any tips on how you get your kids ready for the day as easily as possible? Any favorite blogs or things for inspiration? Please share!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Identifying Primary Love Language

The Five Love Languages of Children includes a section on identifying your child's primary love language. Remember that a child's primary love language cannot be identified until the child is at least five. The authors also point out that a love language is not set in stone (page 108), and will often change during times like adolescence. There are five steps to identifying (starting on page 109)

1. See how child expresses love to you
Your child will likely express love in the way he wants to receive love.  This is especially true for the 5-8 year old crowd. If you have read my previous posts on this, you will know that my suspicion for Brayden's primary love language has always been words of affirmation. He definitely fits into that on how he expresses himself. You have never heard a more grateful child when I do his laundry, make his food, drive him somewhere--he is the most thankful boy ever :) I don't think it is just good manners--though I would love to claim it as such ;). I think it is his love language. 

2. See how child expresses love to others
What does your child do for others? When he has a teacher he likes, how does he want to show it? What about siblings? This can be obvious if the child is into gifts as signs of love. If it is words of affirmation, however, you won't know what he is saying to a teacher unless she tells you about it. 

3. Notice what your child requests from you
Does your child ask for more time? Does he ask for compliments? He will most likely ask for most what he desires most. 

4. Take note of what your child complains about most
Your child might have a theme of complaint--time spent with him, never saying anything nice, etc. This is a clue as to what he is needing more of.

5. Give a choice
If you are unsure still, you can offer two choices of activities that would indicate a preference of love with one or another. Do this every so often over the course of several weeks and take note of the answers. It should give you a clue into the hierarchy. 

Examples given in the book are:
  • bake you a pie (service) or go to park together (time)
  • wrestle (physical) or read story (quality--though I must say if you cuddle during story time, it could be physical)
Conclusion
This is a quick summary of the five steps in the book. The book has more details. These steps can help you identify the primary love language of your child. Remember, you want to be multi-lingual, but having an idea for the love language of your child helps you make sure you give extra focus to that language so it doesn't get neglected. It also helps in time of distress--when your child needs comforting. The primary love language will speak the loudest to him at those times. It also helps you to avoid using that love language negatively.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Poll Results: For Preschool, did you/will you...

Teach from home
  31 (35%)
 
Send at 2
  7 (8%)
 
Send at 3
  31 (35%)
 
Send at 4
  18 (20%)
 

Votes so far: 87 

RELATED POSTS/BLOG LABELS:

Reminder: You can leave comments on poll results posts if you would like to add to the poll after it has closed. This would be helpful for those who have more than one child, those whose children have reached certain ages after a poll closed, and those who didn't visit the blog while that poll was open. To find closed polls, click on the poll results link above

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Emergency Preparedness: Food Preserving



A little over a year ago, I started posting on emergency preparedness. At the time, many of you questioned why you would want or need things like food storage or 72 hour kits. Sadly, I think many people now have a real reality as to why these things are helpful. You have a lot of these things "just in case" and of course hope to never need to use them. We have had quite the year for natural disasters, with extreme rains that led to flooding in some places, hurricanes where we don't usually see such things, tornadoes destroying much of the South, earthquakes in strange places, and droughts that led to extreme fires that took the homes of many. I have heard from some of you thanking me for the emergency preparedness information. I am so sorry it has had to be used, but I am so glad you had the resources available to you!

Because of extreme droughts and flooding, a lot of food prices are rising. It wasn't a great year for corn, and that affects not only corn prices, but gas prices and livestock prices. This is a time when having a food storage supply that was built up when food was less expensive comes in handy. For example, we literally bought a huge case of chicken on the last right day. We got talking with the manager of the meat department at our local grocery store and he told us how much chicken prices had jumped in one week. The store was having a great sale and they were actually to the point of selling it for the price they were getting it because the price had jumped so much in the week.

Anyway, it has been a year that has shown us starkly why we want to have what emergency preparedness in place we can. Today I will talk about food preserving. 

I am relatively new to preserving my own food. Let me tell you--I love it! I know exactly what ingredients go into my food. My food will also keep longer than it would if I went and bought it at the store. 

I like to preserve my food if it is food that would otherwise go to waste. This is handy when you grow a garden. I am getting over 1/2 a bushel of tomatoes a week right now. We love tomatoes and I make a lot of fresh salsa, but we could never come close to eating those many tomatoes. So I have canned salsa, spaghetti sauce, and plan to can tomatoes later today. 

You can also find things at you pick farms that are very inexpensive. I plan to can applesauce this fall. I have a contact with an apple orchard where I will be able to go pick my own apples and get a great deal to make my own applesauce at home. 

You might also be able to get things for free from neighbors and family. My parent's neighbor gave me 30 pounds of strawberries last July. I made freezer jam with them (in addition to us all eating strawberries constantly). 

This last summer, I also had some blackberries I got from Bountiful baskets that were about to go bad and we were leaving out of town. Rather than let them go bad, I made some blackberry freezer jam. Fabulous. 

If you don't want to make things, you can easily freeze foods. I canned pints and pints of green beans, but also froze a whole bunch, too. The risk with freezing is that if your power goes out, unless you have a generator, your food spoils. Also, frozen food does not last as long as food that has been preserved. 

I also froze raspberries this year. My mom loaded me up with raspberries this year. After eating them and making batches of jam, we just froze what was left. For more details on freezer jam, see this post on Children's Learning Activities: http://learningdevelopmentactivities.blogspot.com/2011/07/freezer-jam.html


So that post will take you through freezer jam. 

For freezing and other preserving methods (like canning), a great book to buy is the Ball Blue Book. This is a link to the one I have, but I think there is one newer than this: The Ball Blue Book Of Canning and Preserving RecipesMine is only two years old, though. Everyone I know who cans uses this book and swears by it. However, I must say that often the way it is written, they assume you know things that you would not know if you didn't grow up around canning. I didn't. My mom never canned anything. I am lucky that I have a neighbor who is the queen of canning and she helps me. 

But when I am looking at by Ball book and don't know what they are talking about, I google it. There are blogs out there that give step by step instructions with pictures on how to do it. One I like is http://www.simplycanning.com/.

Canning with a pressure cooker takes some monetary investment. You can start by canning foods that only need a hot water bath. Most fruits (maybe all?) are this way. Tomatoes are this way. Spaghetti sauce is this way. Here is a hot water bath:




Peaches, pears, and tomatoes are all quite simple. But I won't go into it too much. There are entire blogs dedicated to these things. I just want to expose you to the possibility. I promise it is easier than you might think. If it is something you have an interest in, absolutely go for it. I made a listmania list on Amazon of the products I use. I didn't buy these all in one year, and there are more things in my future :)

http://www.amazon.com/lm/R5SHZBUNGTPEI/ref=cm_lm_pthnk_view?ie=UTF8&lm_bb=

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Emergency Preparedness--Time to Review!

It is my bi-annual emergency preparedness reminder! Time to review what you have and make some goals for the next 6 months. Here are some posts to help you out, and there will be another post in a few minutes:

Monday, September 26, 2011

Other People Count

image source

Childwise Principle #6 in On Becoming Childwise is "Other People Count" (page 70). That is pretty straight forward, right? Other people have feelings, other people's feelings matter, and how we treat others is important. Hard to argue with that idea.

However, how strong is this idea woven into our society? I know the exact strength of it will vary from culture to culture, state to state, town to town, and even neighborhood to neighborhood. How many of us today go about our daily lives with the concern on those of those around us (whether we know them or not) rather than on ourselves? 

I must say, I am often guilty of seeing my own agenda without stopping to think that others might have an equally important--if not more important--agenda themselves. There are so many scenarios where this can come to play.

I think an easy one is when we are in a hurry to drive somewhere. We can easily get impatient with the other people on the road who are going too slowly, cutting us off, going out of turn at 4-way stops, etc. When we are on the road, it is easy to de-humanize others on the road and view them as vehicles instead. And these other vehicles are all so incredibly inconsiderate because we have a crying baby inside/doctor appointment to get to/child to pick up/ etc. 

Another scenario can be when we are asked to serve someone else. Whether it be volunteering at school or taking dinner to a friend, we can often focus on how busy we are and how inconvenienced we would be to have to do this service. But when we are on the other side and in need of the service, we can easily think about how easy it would be for someone to help out in the situation and how selfish others must be to not be helping. The real reality is that when we serve others, we feel so much better. 

What we need to remember is that other people count. Everyone. Even if you don't know that person in the red car in front of you, you should still treat her with kindness. I don't think many people would tail another drive that they knew, but many don't think twice about tailing a stranger. 

In our modern world, the idea that other people count is ever so important. Teenagers today (and let's be honest, adults, too) can send a peer an insult via email, text message, or post to the wall in a matter of seconds. People will say things via these mediums that they would absolutely never say to another person's face. I find this to be a pure tragedy. 

Other people count.

Those people count even if they are different from you. They count if they look different. They count if they aren't as smart or aren't as fast. They count if they are driving a car and count if they are on the other side of a computer screen. 

"Everyone is looking for the cultural antidote to natural selfishness. Enhancing self-esteem is not it [the antidote]. We serve our children better by helping them aquire the values and virutues on which a positive sense of self is actually built. Without a healthy otherness eithic in place, there is no basis for self-respect, let alone any basis for personal esteem. For the latter grows out of the former...Children have difficulty feeling good about themselves when they lack the social and moral skills necessary to get along with others" (page 71).

Did you catch that? When children treat others nicely, then like themselves more. People don't feel better about themselves on a long-term level when they are rude to others. They might find being rude to others helps them feel more justified about something they are insecure about, but they will only feel better for a short time before need to go insult the next person grows again. 

When our child does something unkind, we ask the question, "Would you like to be treated the way you just treated that person?" This is working toward teaching your child empathy. Teaching your child to think about other people as actual people. People who have feelings, hopes, dreams, and ambitions. People who have their own list of things to get done that day. People who want to feel loved and people who have those who care for them. 

For more on the idea of teaching our children to care for others, see this post: Character: The First Principle (Childwise) :http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/08/character-first-principle-childwise.html

Teaching our children that other people count should not be difficult. We remind them when they do unkind things that the other person is a real person. And we absolutely teach them by being an example ourselves. I love the phrase that the things children mean are "caught, not taught." This means they pick up on  your behaviors more than what you tell them. 

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

On The Avenue {Giveaway!}

This is such a fun giveaway! On The Avenue is a local company for me. They have this blog: http://ontheavenuelogan.blogspot.com/. They have giveaways and deals constantly. I am of course addicted and have to stop myself from ordering every.single.sale.item. I just love their stuff. I love to decorate and I much prefer things that are made individually and not mass-produced. 

I also love the owners. They are so nice. I think Mandy must be one of the five nicest people on Earth today. I just love their stuff so much I offered to do a giveaway on the blog. I thought you all needed to see their stuff! This is very generous of me because you will all now be my competition in their giveaways ;). See how much I love you?

Here are some of my favorites from them:

I own one of these

I am about to own these




Bought this for my Mother in Law

There is so much cute stuff.


Today, On The Avenue is giving away a set of these "Spooky" letters. These retail for $28.00. 


Very cute! So let's enter.

For Your First Entry:
Become a follower of this blog. Then leave a comment. If you are already a follower (the thing where your cute face pops up with all the other cute faces of people following), comment telling me so.

Sample Entry 

I am a follower!

For Your Second Entry:

Go to On The Avenue. Become a follower of their blog. Come back and comment saying you did so.

Sample Entry

I am a follower now!

For Your Third Entry:
Go to On The Avenue. Look around and choose your favorite thing on their site. Then comment saying what it is.


Sample Entry
Since I am in a fall mood, I like the pilgrims right now!

For Your Fourth Entry:

Like this blog on FacebookAlready do? Tell me so. Comment saying you like it.
Sample Entry
Hi! I like on Facebook!

For Your Fifth Entry:
Free entry! But you have to enter.
Sample Entry
Entering for free!
For Your Sixth Entry: 
Tweet, blog, OR share on Facebook about this giveaway! Then comment saying you did so--include your twitter ID or blog addy if applicable. You only need to do one of these to enter.

Sample Entry
I tweeted! @valplowman
For Your Seventh Entry:
Follow me on Twitter. Once you have done so, come back and comment and include your Twitter ID. Already do? Comment saying so.

Sample Entry
I follow on Twitter! @valplowman


Entry Rules
  • You must leave a comment in order to have an entry.
  • You must leave a separate comment for each entry. This is not so I can get lots of comments--it is because it makes it a million times easier to choose a winner. It takes less time, and less time is good. Plus, it makes sure I don't miss an entry.
  • You don't have to do all seven entries...for example, if you just want to follow this blog, you can just do entry one.
  • One entry per comment.
  • Up to seven entries per person.
  • You must fulfill the rules of each entry for each entry to count. If I see the entry is not valid (did not meet entry requirements), I will disqualify your entry. Trust me, I check.
  • Entries will be accepted until 11:59 PM Friday, September 30 Mountain Standard Time.
  • The winner will be randomly selected at random.org
  • The winner will be announced Saturday, October 1.
  • If you would like, you can add your email address to your entry. If you are the winner, I will email you to let you know. You do not need to add your email address in order to win. I understand not everyone wants to share their email addresses with the world. I will announce the winner on the blog, so you can check the blog Saturday to find out if you won.
  • Once the winner is announced, you will have one week to contact me or another winner will be chosen. Be sure to check back. The only thing worse than not winning is to win but not realize it in time!
  • US Shipping addresses only please.

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