Parents often wonder “How can I get my children to take care of their things and help around the house without arguing or complaining?” That’s a great question!
It’s important for children to be responsible for certain tasks in the home aka “chores” or “contributions to the family”. In fact, children who are expected to help around the house feel a strong a sense of belonging and being important to their family.
Unfortunately, it’s not easy to get children to do chores contributions without a struggle. While there are no fool-proof methods to make children WANT to work, here are some tips that may help:
Have Realistic Expectations
Perfection is not a good goal when children help out around the house. Children can’t do as good a job as adults because their fine muscle skills, perception, judgement, attention to detail and attention span are all still developing. Don’t be surprised to find towels folded crookedly, a fork in the knife compartment, or streaks on the mirror. But when your goal is to teach responsibility and a sense of pride, you can look for attitude, cooperation and effort instead of perfection.
Applaud a task well-done every chance you get! If the task isn’t well-done applaud the effort instead. Specific comments work better than a ho-hum “Good job” so try saying “Wow, you worked so hard to pick up all of your blocks; now we can walk through your room without hurting our feet!” If the task didn’t meet your expectations, give your child a chance to do better next time instead of berating him. For instance, instead of “You forgot to feed the dog. Again.” try “Poor Fido was hungry all morning; can you think of a way to help you remember to feed him?” By keeping the responsibility on your child’s shoulders you send a clear message that you know he;s capable of handling the job by himself.
Make Your Match
Make sure that each job matches your child’s abilities, and try to take individual interests into consideration. Learning responsibility and feeling pride in a job well done can’t occur if the task is too much for your child to handle. Asking a five year old to clean out the garage isn’t wise, but sweeping the garage floor or moving items around in the garage isn’t too hard. Ask your pet-lover to feed the cats and the organizer to put away clean laundry. For best results, make a list of household jobs appropriate to your child’s age and ability and let her pick which ones she would like to do. You may be surprised by her choices!
Put ‘Er There, Partner
Jobs are more fun when you’re working together, so help your child with his jobs and ask your child to help you with yours. While you’re mowing the lawn your child can rescue his toys before they’re munched up or weed a corner of the flower garden. When it’s your child’s turn to set the table you can hand him the dishes. Encouraging siblings to work together will foster friendship and cooperation in addition to making the house a nicer place to live.
Many adults need help, reminders, and supervision when learning a new task; so why would we expect children to be any different? Handling a job independently, motivating themselves to start a job and stick with it to the end, and remembering to do their chores on time are long-range goals that may take years for children to master.
Get Expert Help
Teacher and I have been big fans of the Love & Logic approach to parenting for several years. I’ve subscribed to their weekly emailed newsletters and save every one for future reference.
Here are some Love & Logic articles pertaining to chores:
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How do you get your children to help around the house?
The first time I ever had Ham and Pickle Wraps was when Teacher and I were visiting his parents for Christmas the first year we were married. I watched Mom N. make Ham and Pickle Wraps to take to the church choir Christmas party and wasn’t sure what to think – they were so different from anything my mom had ever made and didn’t look all that special.
Then I tried one… and I was hooked!
I don’t know what it is about Ham and Pickle Wraps, but they’re totally addictive. Something about the combination of salty ham, the crunchy sour pickle, and soft creamy cheese that makes you keep coming back for more. At least it keeps ME coming back for more!
I wouldn’t say that Ham and Pickle Wraps have become a family must-have appetizer, but they make an appearance at least once a year, and this year Jo-Bear specifically requested them for our Super Bowl family get-together.
Ham and Pickle Wrap Ingredients
Mom N. made her Ham and Pickle Wraps with Carl Budding ham, regular cream cheese and store-brand pickles. I wanted to try to make them a little healthier not that it’s easy to make those ingredients healthier so we used Hormel nitrate-free ham, Organic Valley Neufchatel cheese and Milwaukee pickles aka the only brand of pickles I like.
How much of each? Well, this is what my Great-great-grandma used to call a “Whatcha’ got” recipe – you use what’cha got. It all depends on how thickly you spread the cream cheese, how many slices of ham are in the package, and how many pickles are in jar. We bought one package of ham and I ended up running out, but there were a couple of pickles which Z-Man and Little Guy quickly snarfed up and about half a package of cream cheese left over.
Ham and Pickle Wrap Directions
Ham and Pickle Wraps are ridiculously easy to make, but a little time-consuming so don’t try to throw them together at the last minute.
- Soften the cream cheese and cut the pickles into fourths the long way. We call that the “hot dog” way, as opposed to the “hamburger” way.
- Lay a slice of ham on a cutting board
- Spread a thin layer of soft cream cheese on the ham.
- Lay a pickle spear on one end of the ham, and roll the ham around the pickle.
- Cut the wrap in half and set aside.
- Repeat until you run out of an ingredient.
- Refrigerate until needed.
Don’t forget to sample at least one to make sure they’re good before serving them to your family or guests!
Ham and Pickle Wrap Variations
I’ve seen several variations of this Ham and Pickle Wrap recipe, and while I prefer this version best you may have a different opinion. If you do, please post a comment below!
- Try sweet pickles instead of dill pickles.
- Use whole pickles instead of pickle spears.
- Add ranch dressing or onion soup mix to the softened cream cheese
- Use beef lunch meat, thinly sliced dried beef, or salami instead of ham.
- Spread the cream cheese on a tortilla, cover with ham and pickles, the roll up.
- Cut the wraps into slices instead of halves.
Have you ever tried Ham and Pickle Wraps? If so, what’s in your Ham and Pickle Wrap recipe?
Many of the mysteries of behavior can be summed up in one short sentence: Children are unique! Beyond the obvious physical characteristics of hair and eye color lie individual differences in temperament, preferences, and personality. Even though these differences aren’t as obvious, they can be observed early in a baby’s life.
- Initial Reaction
Soon after birth, parents begin to think of their baby as “outgoing,” “low-keyed” or “persistent” with a range of behaviors in between. Children hang on to their personalities tenaciously, but unfortunately sometimes persist in trying to change them just as tenaciously.
Instead of fighting your child’s natural temperament, recognizing and working with it will make life easier on everyone.
Review your Parenting Style
Understanding your own temperament is the first step in figuring out how to interact successfully with your child. Different children respond better to certain approaches to parenting than other children to. One child may respond to a gentle reminder or sense of humor while another child may respond better to clearly defined structure and a no-nonsense approach.
Respect your Child’s Individuality
Accept and value your child’s special strengths, even if they’re different than yours. If you’re athletic, you can still appreciate a child who is artistic and doesn’t like sports much at all. If your’e outgoing and energetic, you can value your quiet and thoughtful child.
Set Realistic Expectations
A sure-fire way to create an unhappy parent-child relationship is to set expectations your child isn’t interested in or is unable to attain because of temperament. Expecting an active, easily-distracted child to sit and focus on one thing for an extended amount of time is just setting the child up for failure.
Recognizing and accepting individual differences isn’t the same as comparing your child’s differences with those of siblings or friends. Comparing children robs them of their right to be unique, and damages their self-esteem.
Look for your child’s special qualities and reinforce them with words and actions. In “What Every Baby Knows” Dr. T. Berry Brazelton says “In any particular family, the best you can do is back up your child’s own personality.”
Photo Credit: Kidzeyes by nadsenoj
Valentine’s Day may be right around the corner, but it’s important to let your child know that you love him or her all year.
Here are 50 ways to show love for your child:
❤ Hug, kiss, and say, “I love you” every day, no matter what.
❤ When you’re upset, take 10 seconds to breathe before dealing with your child.
❤ Make a list of positive words and use a different one with your child every day.
❤ Go for a walk with your child and talk about the sights, sounds, and smells along the way.
❤ Forgive your child’s mistakes. Your child will learn to forgive others’ mistakes from your example.
❤ Do a puzzle with your child.
❤ Go on a scavenger hunt for a rainbow, pretty leaf, spider web, etc.
❤ Listen – really listen – to your child’s laughter. (Bet it makes you smile!)
❤ Take your child to the library and pick out some books or movies to enjoy together.
❤ Display your child’s art work prominently and proudly.
❤ Let your child make decisions whenever possible. Red socks or blue? Orange juice or apple?
❤ Go on a treasure hunt for loose change in your home, then use it for a special treat.
❤ Bake cookies with your child, then play “Tea Party” and eat them together.
❤ Ask your child to draw a “Love in the Family” picture.
❤ Read the Sunday comics (in print or online) together.
❤ Give your child your full attention when he or she talks to you.
❤ Make up a story to tell your child. He or she will love to hear stories from when you were little.
❤ Have your child make up a story to tell you.
❤ Take a trip to the zoo. Beforehand find pictures of zoo animals; talk about them with your child.
❤ Prepare a special meal with your child. Decorate the table and enjoy the meal together.
❤ Make bread from scratch (or with a bread maker) on a rainy day.
❤ Plan a Yes Day: Dessert first? Yes! Halloween costume to the grocery store? Yes!
❤ Set a good example by never using words that hurt.
❤ Let your child overhear you speaking positively about him/her to someone else.
❤ Read “just one more book” even if it’s late and you’re tired.
❤ Teach your child what to do in an emergency.
❤ Look at baby pictures and tell stories about your child’s beginnings.
❤ Declare a certain time of every day “Hug Time” and ask for hugs – lots of hugs.
❤ Go outdoors to play with your child; enjoy the fresh air and room to run around.
❤ Have a positive attitude. When your child comes home dirty say “Looks like you had fun!”
❤ Model good manners by using words like “I’m sorry,” “please” and “thank you” consistently.
❤ Foster positive self-esteem with chores; start with easy chores done together.
❤ Cuddle on the couch and watch TV with your child. Talk about the show afterward.
❤ Make up a secret “I love you” word, sign, or gesture that only you and your child know.
❤ Get messy with your child. Finger-paint, stomp in mud puddles, squish play dough.
❤ Put down your electronics and give your full attention to your child.
❤ Never compare your child with another child.
❤ Read to your child, even if he or she knows how. It’s a chance to cuddle and fosters literacy.
❤ Go to a park and play with your child instead of sitting on the bench watching.
❤ Remind your child of something he or she taught you.
❤ Say something positive about your child, to your child every day.
❤ Model positive methods for solving problems that don’t include hitting or yelling.
❤ Build an indoor fort together and enjoy a picnic inside.
❤ Get together with other parents to share experiences and advice.
❤ Take time to do something nice for yourself on a regular basis.
❤ Find something to laugh about with your child ever day and take time to be silly.
❤ Take a few minutes to rock or cuddle your child when you both feel like resting.
❤ Invite your child’s playmates to your home and provide a safe place to play.
❤ Sneak a “lunchbox note” into your child’s lunch box or leave one on his/her pillow.
❤ Share your child’s love of water; take a walk in the rain, blow bubbles, run through the sprinkler.
What can you add to the list? How do YOU show love to your child?
Image Credit: ba1969
If Keyboards Could Talk
If keyboards could talk, what would yours say?
I have no idea. maybe something like…
“Holy cow woman, get a life and leave me alone for a while.”
“THANK YOU for the silicone keyboard protector that protects me from the food and drink crumbs that spills on me way too often.”
“Seriously, cat? You’re going to lay down right on top of me? Get off, get off!”
If keyboards could talk, would yours share your process for writing and editing your posts ?
“Process? She’s supposed to have a process? Don’t make me laugh – you can’t imagine how overused my DELETE key is!”
Hey now, there’s no need to be unkind.
I’ve heard that some bloggers set themselves daily word count or time goals and don’t leave their keyboards until their goals are met. I think that’s a great strategy if you can swing it, but there’s no way that would work for me.
Sometimes I have a story that’s just bursting to get out, like when I wrote about losing our baby or about McDonut and the Shotgun Wedding. Other times I start with a series of photos and use them as a springboard, like when I wrote about our neighborhood block party or when I post recipes and sewing tutorials.
And sometimes I’ve got writer’s block, and no amount of staring at a blank screen is going to help. That’s when I look for ideas in places like Michelle’s article and end up writing posts like this. Trying new things is good, right?
“As long as you’re not trying out new keyboards; you know I’m the jealous kind.”
If keyboards could talk, would yours whisper a few secrets about the challenges that happen in your home office and how you deal with them?
“A home office? What’s that? It sounds lovely; why haven’t I heard of such a thing before?”
Shhhhhh! We don’t have a home office, but my keyboard doesn’t know what it’s missing and I’d like to keep it that way!
Not having a home office is a challenge in and of itself. I spend most of my day in the play room, dining room, and kitchen, so I set up a “mini-office” area in the corner of the kitchen counter closest to the play room. Since our kitchen and dining room are . There’s a stack of small drawers filled with office supplies, my To Do pile, Teacher’s To Do pile, my laptop, and a bunch of miscellaneous stuff that ends up on the counter. It’s a nightmare to keep organized and I end up with food spatters on my paperwork more often than I like to admit, but it’s the best option I’ve come up with so far.
If keyboards could talk, would yours share how you’ve grown and evolved over the last few years?
Well, I’ve gained back 5 of the 7 pounds I dropped a couple of years ago but I don’t think that’s what Michelle had in mind. You still look good for someone who had six kids! Awww, thanks keyboard!
My keyboard has been witness to many changes over the past few years. Between the economic downturn and the boys being potty trained, my cloth diaper business has dwindled down to almost nothing. I’m not ready to give it up entirely, but right now I’d rather spend my time elsewhere.
A big change is that last summer I was asked to teach two courses for the brand new Family Child Care Certificate from Fox Valley Technical College. Of course I jumped at the chance and was hired as an adjunct instructor, teaching Curriculum for Family Child Care last semester and Special Topics for Family Child Care this semester. Fleshing out the courses has taken quite a bit of time, but it’s also been extremely exciting and rewarding! I’m hoping to have more opportunities in the future to teach other courses or present more trainings and workshops.
If keyboards could talk, would yours give away the secrets of your schedule and productivity?
I’ll let you handle this one…
A couple of years ago Teacher and I discovered David Allen and his productivity book Getting Things Done. Although I don’t manage to follow all of his recommendations as much as I should, I have managed to make his strategies for organizing paperwork and email a habit.
We also purchased the OmniFocus app, one of the tools that David Allen recommends. I have a feeling that if I could get in the habit of using it consistently instead of scribbling notes and lists on scraps of paper I’d be even more organized.
One step at a time, right?
So, that’s what I think my keyboard would say if it could talk.
What do you think YOUR keyboard would say?
The other day I was cleaning out my Downloads folder and came across notes for a paper by Angel Face. I liked it so much I asked to post it here, and she agreed. I knew that moving to Wisconsin and leaving their friends behind was hard on the kids, but I never realized how hard it was…
Taken the morning we left: Jenny, Angel Face & Grandma N, Jo-Bear & College Boy, Princess & Kodee. Justin wouldn’t come for the picture.
Laughter filled the room as we all sat around the table finishing up our brunch. I felt as if nothing could bring me down, until I remembered that today was the day I moved away from Michigan to some place called Wisconsin. My whole life so far I had spent my summer days swimming in the lake, camping with my grandparents, and playing with my best friends. All of that was about to change, however, because it was moving day.
Earlier that morning I had woken up before the sun rose. I refused to try to go back to sleep, I was too excited. I jumped out of my sleeping bag and found two last outfits that weren’t packed yet. The boxes were already in a van on its way to our new home by Grandma and Grandpa Hintz. I was excited to get to see them again.
Spring Lake, Michigan. Coffee cake for brunch. End of summer. Moving day. Spilled apple juice on my already mismatched outfit. Wore little mermaid skirt and Justin’s shirt until my clothes were washed and dried. At my best friends house. Preschool aged. Played with Peaches, the orange tabby.
Swinging. Basement playroom. Toys that spin when you sit on them. Last day with Justin. Sad. Curly dirty blonde hair. Smelled like boy. Only boy who didn’t have cooties. My best friend. 10 minutes until I had to leave. Forever. Time to start cleaning.
What a joke. Made a bigger mess. Didn’t want to leave. Ever. “Princess” and Jenny came down. They yelled at us. We kept playing. They got mom. I hid. In the toy box. Justin covered me with toys so they would never find me.
Mom came down. Justin is a bad liar. I jump out of the toy box and run outside. Nowhere to hide out there. Oops. Run back in. Hide in a closet. I want to stay. I hear footsteps. I hold my breath. It’s only Justin. And his mom.
Time to actually clean. That means leaving soon. I start to cry. Justin hugs me and I feel better. Best friends forever. Even when I move to Wisconsin. WI is really far away. I might never see him again. I cry even harder. I don’t want to leave my best friend. What if the kids in Wisconsin have claws? I don’t like making new friends. Or leaving old ones. One last goodbye hug. Off on a new adventure. Without my best friend.
I get in the car and buckle up. Wave goodbye as we drive away. At the end of the street I start to cry. So does “Princess.” We cry until we fall asleep. We wake up in Wisconsin at our new house that smells like old feet and cabbage. Our new adventure.
Reading this just kills me, even though I know she made new friends the first day we arrived. I can’t leave it like this, so I’ve got to add a little P.S. to her story…
It was the first day in Wisconsin. I knew the kids were both excited about their new house and sad about leaving their friends in Michigan. I knew exactly how they were feeling – I was excited about moving back to my hometown and finally owning a home instead of renting, but I was also sad about leaving my friends in Michigan and feeling very guilty that the kids were sad.
There wasn’t much for the kids to do while we were unpacking, so when they asked if they could walk up and down the block I said “Sure” – secretly hoping they’d meet some new friends. Time passed and suddenly I realized I hadn’t seen Angel Face for a while. Concerned, but not panicked, I walked through the house, basement to upstairs, peeking into every closet. No Angel Face. I looked in the front yard, back yard and garage. No Angel Face. I stood on the sidewalk and looked up the street both ways. No Angel Face.
That’s when I started to panic.
Oh my god Amy, how stupid are you? How could you let your five year old walk up and down the block in a strange place all by herself? What were you thinking?!” I berated myself as I started walking up the sidewalk, head swiveling side to side as I searched for any sign of her.
Finally, waaaaaay at the other end of our double-long block I spotted two little girls sitting on a blanket in the grass. Is it? I think… I heard laughing and recognized her giggle. Yes! It IS her! Relief flooded my body when I realized she was safe and sound. “Whatcha doin’?” I asked casually, hiding the emotional roller coaster I’d just been on.
“This is my new friend, MacKensie. Her mom said we could play out here.” She smiled innocently up at me and my heart melted. “Hello, MacKensie, nice to meet you.” I said to the other girl. MacKensie’s sparkling blue eyes and sleek dark brown hair made a pretty contrast with Angel Face’s big brown eyes and fluffy light brown hair and my thoughts jumped to the futures for a moment, We’ll have to beat the boys off with a stick when these girls grow up.
Coming back to the present I said “I’m glad you made a new friend sweetie, but you HAVE to let me know where you are; I was scared when I couldn’t find you. Okay?”
“”Okay,” she agreed, “Can I stay a little longer?”
“Sorry hon, but it’s almost suppertime. You can play again tomorrow… And the next day, and the next day, and the NEXT day!”
“Okay!” she said, standing up and taking the hand I held out to her. “See you tomorrow!” she called over her shoulder, skipping next to me as we returned to our new home.
Angel Face and MacKensie; still best friends years later.
This year Santa left an HGTV magazine in my stocking and I fell in love with the Ornament Wreath in one of the articles. After Christmas Teacher aka the best husband ever and I hit the after-Christmas sales and bought some Christmas ornament sets at 60-70% off.
We spent one afternoon during Christmas Break making this Christmas ornament wreath. The project went quickly and was lots of fun, and the finished wreath was so gorgeous that we decided to make a Christmas ornament wreath for my parents. Then Princess and Angel Face saw my wreath and wanted to make one too, so we had to hit the stores before they ran out of ornaments.
On one of our ornament-buying missions Teacher spied a set of blue/silver/white ornaments that were so gorgeous he couldn’t resist them, and the idea for a Winter Ornament Wreath as well as this tutorial was born!
Supplies to Make an Ornament Wreath
You don’t need many supplies to make an ornament wreath:
- A styrofoam wreath form. We used 16″ but you can use whatever size you want.
- A glue gun and glue sticks. Don’t laugh at our glue gun – it’s almost as old as College Boy but still works!
- Unbreakable ornaments in different sizes. Lots and lots of ornaments, especially the smallest ones.
- Ribbon to hang the wreath
How to Make an Ornament Wreath Step by Step
Step 1. Prepare
Start by preparing your wreath form. Some people like to wrap wide ribbon all around the wreath form but we forgot to buy ribbon so we painted ours with some blue spray paint we had in the basement from a previous project.
Somewhere we heard not to use spray paint because it could dissolve the styrofoam, but we spray-painted 4 wreath forms with both regular and metallic spray paint and didn’t have any problems. You may want to test a small area before painting the whole thing.
Loop a ribbon around the wreath form and glue it down securely. We only had gold ribbon so we decided we’d figure out how to add it later.
Sort your ornaments into different containers by size. These are our smallest ornaments, but because the blue ornaments came from a different set than the white and silver ones they’re a little bigger. Can you guess what color sweatshirt I was wearing that day?
We only had silver and white medium-sized ornaments. I would’ve liked some blue ones also, but you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.
Our large ornaments were especially gorgeous; some reminded me of the old-fashioned glass ornaments my parents have on their tree, except not breakable.
We accidentally bought opaque non-see-through glue sticks for our Christmas ornament wreath, and those worked great but we thought we’d try clear glue sticks for our Winter wreath.
The clear glue didn’t show as much when it squished out between ornaments, but it was MUCH stringier and harder to work with. I cut the clear sticks into halves and thirds because long glue sticks don’t work with our old-fashioned glue gun – it doesn’t have a trigger so you have to use your thumb to push the glue through.
Step 2. Arrange and Glue
Begin by arranging ornaments inside the wreath form. Since you’ll be building on this layer you don’t have to worry about them fitting perfectly, and it’s a good place to use ornaments you like least.
When you’re happy with the arrangement, glue the ornaments to the wreath form and to each other.
Be very careful when working with the glue gun because the glue can get really hot and cause nasty burns. If you do get glue on you, run it under cold water right away to cool the glue before it causes a really bad burn.
Next, arrange ornaments around the outer perimeter of the wreath form. Again, this layer will be mostly covered up so it’s a good place to use least-favorite ornaments. This is supposed to be a photo of the ornaments arranged around the wreath form but they kept rolling all over the place. Just pretend they’re snuggled against the wreath form they way they should be.
Glue the ornaments to the outer edge of the wreath form.
Now comes the fun part – filling in the middle! You’ll have to decide if you want the top part of the ornaments to show or not; we liked the look so we didn’t worry about hiding them. Be sure to use a mixture of sizes as you go along, and fill in gaps with the smallest ornaments.
Teacher and I make a really good team at times like this – I tend to be OCD and will arrange and rearrange until the cows come home, while he just grabs and glues at lightening speed.
When you think you’re almost done, hang the wreath up or have someone hold it for you and take a look at it from all angles. You’ll be surprised at how many gaps you missed when it was laying down!
Continue adding ornaments until you’re happy with the way the wreath looks, or you’re too tired to do anymore.
I bought a pack of glittery blue snowflakes to add to our ornament wreath.
They add the perfect final touch, don’t they?
It’s done except for a ribbon to hang it with, and it’s gorgeous!
Here are our Christmas and Winter ornament wreaths – I love them both so much!!
Now I’m envisioning a red and white Valentine’s Day ornament wreath, a green and white St. Patrick’s Day ornament wreath, a pastel Easter ornament wreath, a brown, yellow and orange Thanksgiving ornament wreath…
One sunny summer afternoon when I was thirteen or fourteen I was hanging out in the yard in shorts and bare feet when my Dad hurried up to me with a spade in his hand.
A spade. You know, one of those shovels with the short handles and flat edge, the kind my Dad always uses but I don’t have enough muscle to get into the dirt so I always have to use a pointy-blade shovel?
Yeah, one of those.
“Amy! There’s a mole in the garage!” he said as he handed me the spade.
“I’m going to chase him out – you stand here around the corner here and whack him as he runs by.”
Does anyone else see the problem here?
I stared at him in horror – I can’t even begin to explain how much I did NOT want to hit a mole with a
“Whack him real hard.”
My mind was reeling… What if I missed and he ran at my bare feet? What if I hit him and hurt him? Worse – what if I KILLED him?! I imagined a mole, fur streaked with gore, lurching blindly toward me.
No way. I am so not doing this.
“Um, Dad? I can’t hit a mole with a shovel.”
“Sure you can! You just..” he pantomimed bopping an imaginary mole on the head with the spade. “BOP!”
Seriously, I am SO not doing this.
I don’t remember the rest of the story – if Dad chased the mole toward me and I gave a halfhearted attempt to whack him, or if Dad let me off the hook and dealt with the mole on his own – but we’ve laughed at the story ever since.
Hmmm… That gets me thinking… Dad’s birthday is in March… Maybe he needs a new game…
We love the holiday season, but not the stress associated with it! Children are incredibly sensitive and pick up on our stress, even if we try to hide it. To help your child and you cope with holiday stress, set aside some time to enjoy some of these activities together…
- Playing games combines two of your child’s favorite things: playing and attention from you. The giggles and lighthearted fun can recharge your batteries and help relieve stress too.
- Cooking can be a productive way for you and your child to bond and relive stress. Kneading bread dough, tenderizing meat with a mallet and stirring up cookie dough are great way to release tension. Plus the aromas of baking and pleasure of tasting create memories that will last for years.
- Joking and laughing are a no-fail way to dissolve stress. Being silly and goofing around with your child helps put problems into perspective. Humor and silliness can energize your family year-round.
- Sleeping enough is especially important during times of stress – for adults as well as children. Making sure everyone gets enough sleep promotes both emotional and physical health. If you’re tired, dealing with holiday preparations on top of the usual daily stressors can be overwhelming.
- Taking out frustration by mixing up and manipulating play dough can be a great way to relieve stress. Try the recipe below!
Holiday Stress Relieving Play Dough
This play dough is made with edible ingredients so it’s safe for very young children.
Caution: Children should always be supervised when playing with play dough because it can be a choking hazard if the child bites off a piece of it. Extra supervision is needed if you make a variation that includes inedible ingredients.
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 cup salt
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
- food coloring
- In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt and cream of tartar. Add the vegetable oil but don’t mix in.
- Add food coloring to the boiling water, the pour into the bowl with the flour mixture. Stir thoroughly.
- When the mixture is combined, turn out onto a flat surface and knead about five minutes or until smooth.
- Keep stored in a ziplock baggie or covered container for weeks.
- Scent the play dough by adding cooking extracts or spices. Peppermint or gingerbread are particularly nice for the holiday season.
- Instead of food coloring, add a package of unsweetened Kool-Aid to the flour mixture before adding the water to color and scent the play dough.
- Essential oils can also be used to scent the play dough. Lavender is a calming scent.
- Knead glitter, confetti, or cut up tinsel into the play dough for extra holiday sparkle.
- Knead oatmeal, cornmeal, or sand into the play dough for a different texture.
More Holiday Stress Busters
What are YOUR favorite holiday stress busting ideas? Taking a bubble bath? Going for a run? Post your favorites in the comments section below!
Finding the right toy is a huge challenge considering how many thousands of toys are available in our local stores and online. Pretty packaging and slick commercials only muddy the waters.
Toys are tempting, not only to children but to adults as well.Toys with sounds and lights are fun and interesting at least for a few minutes and the “educational” ones are especially hard to resist. After all, they promise to help our children become better learners – who doesn’t want that for their child?
As a consumer, there’s nothing more frustrating than spending a lot for a toy then watching your child play with the box it came in more than the toy itself! Although no toy can guarantee it will occupy a child for hours despite any claims made in commercials it is possible to find things children will play with for more than a few minutes before growing tired of them.
First, look for age-appropriate toys. Even if you think your 5 year old is ready for that really cool telescope or sewing machine clearly marked “12+ years,” resist the urge to buy it and look for something intended for your child’s age. Toys that are intended for older children are often too complicated for younger children, include small pieces, and are easily broken.
Instead, consider toys that make a mess. Most parents cringe at the thought of paint in their curtains or play dough in their carpet, but children love messy toys! Messy toys allow and encourage children to experiment and experience things. Clay and other art materials provide creative, hands-on activities that keep children occupied for long periods of time. To minimize the mess have your child create in a baking pan with sides.
You can’t go wrong with traditional favorites – dolls, blocks, puzzles, and books. These encourage creativity, open-ended play, role-playing, and problem solving. Best of all, they’re usually a huge hit with children!
Overall, look for toys that stimulate imagination and offer many possibilities for open-ended play. Remember which toys you played with most when you were young and keep those in mind when shopping. Even though toys change from year to year, children stay pretty much the same!