So it’s no news to you that I love Chick Fil A. And, since I consider myself a feminist, I was even more eager to support the new Chick Fil A location when I found out it was owned and operated by a woman. And by support the new location, I mean go there alllllll the time (I mean, it is free after all). I go there so much that the staff now recognizes me, even said lady-owner-operator. My daughter calls her by name, and even talks about her outside of the restaurant.
So when she asked me if Ms. K liked working at Chick Fil A, I just HAD to point out that she was the owner. “She owns the whole place, Lila. She’s the boss. The #GirlBoss!” (I mean, I didn’t SAY the hashtag part out loud, but better believe I thought it.)
Last year at Christmastime, I had everything. I had a beautiful Christmas tree, home baked goods, the love of my family and friends…
And an entitled three year old who thought SHE should have everything, too. Everything from the Target toy aisle, anyways.
No matter how I tried, I could NOT convince her to pare down her list. Every catalog that came in the mail, every trip to Target for diapers, even phone calls to the grandparents seemed to unleash her inner Gimme Monster. On one particularly bad, trying-to-make-a-list-for Santa Claus day, this Mama had had enough. Continue reading “Teaching Kids the Spirit of Giving This Holiday Season”→
Back in the day, when I knew everything about raising children, without actually having children, I just knew how my kids were going to behave. I knew that they wouldnever dare to defy me, that they would have occasional tantrums and the like, but that they would always know who the boss was, and that ultimately they weren’t gonna get away with nothing. And they’d eventually give in. After all, I literally spent years as a trained behavior therapist. I understand behaviors and their root causes, I know how to troubleshoot them, to identify them, and to fix them. As a special education teacher, I always said I could outstubborn a rock, and there was no behavior that I couldn’t solve eventually, with my determination and patience. I was known for getting through to tricky kids, kids with off-the-wall behaviors, and kids who were simply defiant or stubborn. I like to say that I have a Master’s Degree in getting kids to behave, and although the piece of paper says something fancier than that, it’s basically what it amounts to. So my own kids, of all people, would absolutely know better than to truly test me.
I am not what one would call a sentimental person. I don’t often cry at funerals. I don’t cry when I hear about something sad that has happened. I don’t cry when other people are crying. And I CERTAINLY don’t cry at commercials.
When I first sent my son to preschool, he went to a traditional preschool – the kind I remember, and you probably do too! A carpet with letters and spots for each kid to sit. Charts on the wall showing the alphabet, calendar, weather. Super cute crafts for every holiday, with a Pinterest perfect sample of what they would be making that day. But he wasn’t learning his letters. He wasn’t great at sitting. He wasn’t participating in the crafts. So we moved him over to a play-based preschool. And he LOVED it. But everyone else? Well, they thought we were crazy. And I learned there are a LOT of myths about play based education.
Being the delightfully stubborn person I am, I threw myself into learning as much as I could about the educational style that was benefitting my son so very much. Over the next two years, and as I went on to enroll both my daughters in the school, I’ve come up against a lot of concerns and criticisms from people that, frankly, just didn’t know what they were talking about. So if you’re curious about play-based preschool, or wondering why in the world your friend is sending her kids to one, here are some of the myths you may have heard – and hopefully some truths to help clear things up.
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It’s the end of a long day, and you are one story away from watching Real Housewives in your PJs with a glass can of wine. You anxiously await your kids’ book decision. Will it be the borderline unbearable “5 Minute Stories” book with the stories that just don’t make sense and are dry as a bone? Will it be the longest children’s book ever written? Or will it be a book you actually LIKE?
Of all the back-to-school posts that I’ve read (and pinned. And obsessed over), the one thing that no one ever told me is that it would bring on the advent of weekends again.
For the last three years, I have been engrossed in the life of a stay at home mom. Yes, weekends were different in that my husband was at home, and I had a full-time parenting partner, someone to laugh with, someone to talk to. But so much of the weekend was just the same as the rest of the week for me. I was cleaning house, and watching kids, and hitting up the park, and cooking dinner. These are all things that I signed up for, and not even things that I particularly mind. It was just that they were everyday things, Monday through Sunday, and every day was much like the one before it. Sometimes that was a good thing, but sometimes? It wasn’t.
And then came school, and suddenly Fridays had so much more meaning. We’d survived a week full of rushed breakfasts school drop offs and homework and packing backpacks! Now I’d get two whole days to spend with my girl! Parks were a novel thing again, lazy mornings watching TV on the couch were a treasure instead of something to feel guilty about, and our pace was just DIFFERENT. She was tired from a full week of school, and ready for some downtime. Where the weekends used to be full of sameness punctuated by birthday parties, suddenly we were all looking forward to a little rest, a little less structure, and a little more free time to spend together. I finally remember why Friday used to be a thing, why everyone talked about weekend plans, and how the promise of two perfect days is enough to get anyone through a stressful, boring, or even just a normal-old-week.
So here we are, and I’m fully ready to open up my arms and embrace the weekend again. Take time to rest, to drink an extra cup of coffee, to snuggle up and watch some cartoons, and to not worry about rushing out of the door to get to school on time. I’ll stay up late with my husband, and the kids might actually sleep in, and we’ll play and laze about and spend Sunday evenings getting ready for the week ahead. It may not be everyone’s ideal weekend- heck, it may not even be mine- but whatever it may look like, I’m just glad to have it back.
My kids have thousands of dollars worth of games and toys and arts and crafts and I even am not above allowing some indulgent screen time. But the fact is, at the end of the day, they love dirt and sticks and rocks. Yeah, rocks. Which – don’t get me wrong – I love. I mean, what’s not to love? They’re super cheap (also known as FREE at your nearest outside location), easy to handle, you don’t have to worry about getting them dirty, and you can just leave them in the backyard! I love them SO much, I want to pass that love of rocks on to you! So here are nine fun ways for your little ones to play with rocks.
Rock painting is so in right now. Seriously. It seems that it’s the hot kid craft on Pinterest. And it’s hot for a reason. Because kids love to paint rocks. Whether your kids want to paint ladybugs or pumpkins or just go nuts free form, kids will love it. Plus, you can do it outside, which is extra awesome because you aren’t going to ruin your dining room table. We even have some friends whose kids love to paint rocks with WATER. I mean, you literally can’t get a cleaner craft than that! It’s. Just. WATER. And rocks. World’s easiest cleanup ever.
My 4 year old is obsessed with Tic-Tac-Toe right now. Which means there are sheets of paper all over my house like confetti with scribbles all over them. So you know what’s boss? A reusable tic-tac-toe board. Even better? One that’s in my yard, that I only have to draw once, and then can use rocks for our “X’s” and “O’s.”
All three of my kids love to stack things – anything! They also love to compete with each other. Who can make the highest stack of rocks? Who can keep the tower balanced? Who will knock it over? There are so many variations even in different ways to just stack the rocks. And endless entertainment!
Carrying them back and forth
Okay, I know what you’re thinking, “Hey, this list just jumped the shark. These chicks think my kids will be entertained by carrying rocks back and forth across my yard.” And maybe you’re right. Maybe your kid won’t do it. But we’re here to tell you that we literally sat in Jaymi’s backyard and watched our kids carry rocks from a bucket to a pile AND BACK AGAIN for like 45 minutes last week. I think they made some sort of a secret game out of it, but they didn’t clue the adults in on the rules. All I know is those rocks were on the move in the hot little hands of our kids. Kids that got wiped out from all that rock carrying. So, SOLD.
This one’s pretty simple: Do just what it sounds like. Hide those rocks and let the kids find them. As one of our kids’ friends announced the other day, “You don’t have to wait for Easter to do an Easter egg hunt!” True that, Muriel! Egg hunts are great one day a year, but rock hunts – those are a classic the other 364.
Steal the Bacon
Remember sweating on the blacktop waiting for your number to be called so you could race to grab a blackboard eraser? Well, we’re fresh out of blackboard erasers at our house. But we got rocks! And whether it’s a group of kids at a playdate or just two of mine facing off head to head, a race for the rock is a big hit. More bonus points for this one being another tiring activity. With basically no setup, no cleanup and the only parental involvement being to yell, “GO!”
town that is tricked into sharing their soup. It’s also a culinary classic in our backyard. Stones, leaves, dirt all create a “delicious” base to be stirred with sticks. This one takes some more parental involvement (I admit I’m wayyyyyy over pretending to slurp soup and report how delicious it is) and can be significantly messier than some of the other options, but my kids are all about getting messy, so bring it on!
A story garden is the perfect way to bring your kids’ imaginative play outside. This one’s a two parter, but worth it! First, see #1 and paint those bad boys. You can paint anything you want on the stones – houses, animals, boats, foods, cars, bugs, rainbows, shapes, people – you name it! Then, make stories! The possibilities are ENDLESS with what you can create! Here’s a few ways to play with them compiled by The Artful Parent and we’re partial to this cute Hungry Caterpillar set which is perfect for retelling.
Only to be played if you trust your kids won’t chuck the rocks straight at a window, your head, their siblings heads, their friends heads, etc. Once that’s established, my kids dig this one. We use a hula hoop as the place to toss rocks and we start a foot or two away from the hoop. Each kid gets to toss a rock into the hoop. After they make that shot, they step back. And back. And back. And back. Until they miss at which point we start over. My competitive little kids love the challenge of this. Once the hula hoop has been mastered, you can always make smaller targets with anything you have around the house!
For a first time Mom, I felt incredibly prepared when my son was born. I had 17 nieces and nephews and had been around kids a LOT. I was ready to change diapers. I wasn’t afraid of the dreaded first cold. I knew all the first aid and CPR you could want. I was prepared. And then the kids showed up and I learned all the things I hadn’t learned.
You probably haven’t learned all the things either.
Make sure to add these to your to-do list.
How to Throw a Ball.
Okay, I’m not a complete athletic disaster. I can throw a ball. But it’s actually WAY harder to throw a ball to a three year old than to another able bodied adult. You have to somehow throw it really slow. And make sure to avoid hitting them in the face. Because they won’t just catch the ball if it’s about to hit them. They’ll wait, let it hit them, and then freak out about it. And then make you throw it again and again until your arm falls off.
How to Draw Every Animal in Existence.
Before I was a Mom I’m not sure I’d ever drawn a rhinoceros. Or a “water dinosaur.” I know I didn’t draw the animals/monsters/creatures that my children imagine – and then request for me to draw. To their exact, but undescribed, specifications. But I do know that a lot of the time my drawings are not up to my children’s standards. I should have spent more of my first pregnancy in an avant garde art class taught by opinionated toddlers. If they have one of these in your area, it will be worth every penny.
Bonus points if they teach you how to draw things that you’ve never seen before. You know, like thunder.
How to Move Silently Through a House.
When we were house shopping, I did not walk through the house listening for squeaky floorboards. FATAL mistake. Because there’s a board in my son’s room that has almost destroyed me. After spending countless hours lying on his floor praying he’ll fall asleep, the last thing I want to do is wake him up stepping on that board. Squeaky doors? I’m just going to take them all of their hinges. Or go to some sort of cat burglar crash course in how to be more sneaky.
How to Remove Objects from a Nose
Maybe you think this is covered under basic first aid, but not so, my friends. There are actual techniques for this sort of thing. For example, do not put any kind of finger or tool up there. Is it close enough to the nostril that you can pinch above it and push it out? Or should you try to blow it out like in that viral video that’s been going around (doctors say no, by the way, so THANKS FOR NOTHING VIRAL VIDEO)? Or do you have to go to freaking urgent care over this?? No one prepared us for A.) That level of decision making. B.) That kind of medical know-how.
Tetris Level Packing Skills
No one told me that I should have been spending WAY more time playing Tetris in preparation for parenthood. From packing a diaper bag, to packing my car for a day trip, to packing my daughter’s backpack on show and tell day (which is much more complicated than one would originally believe, I assure you), I use way more spatial awareness on the daily than I ever imagined I would.
Emotional Awareness of Others, Bordering on Psychic Ability
In the thirteen seconds it takes from when my daughter first appears in the dismissal line to when her teacher hands her over at the gate, I have to decide what kind of mood she is in and how to react appropriately. Will a big hug make her push me or melt her like a popsicle? Should I dare ask how school went? Does she want to walk or should I prepare for a battle about whether or not I am going to carry her to the car? It seems like an impossible task, one I am certainly untrained for. But I gotta say…for an impossible task, I’m getting pretty darn good at it.
How to Put Gloves on a Child
Ooooohhhhh, you think this is easy? That’s cute. Because guess what? Kids can’t move one finger at a time. And eight of their little fingers fit into one glove finger. So you sit there like a rational adult saying “Move this finger, no pull this one one, okay put the big one back in, no not that one, the other one, wait, now we’re back how we started!,” before you realize that you are fighting a losing battle. Better to take your chances with frostbite and save your sanity.
What other skills do you wish they’d told you that you’d need as a parent?