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Encouragement for Moms of Toddlers

Being a mom of toddlers can be both wonderful and challenging. These years can be filled with cuddles, smiles, and fun. However, part of these toddler years also include tantrums, changeable moods, diet, and sleep patterns. Moms of young children usually do not have much time for themselves for doing things that they once took for granted. Like any stage of childhood, the toddler years can be both a source of joy and stress for parents.

When I speak to moms with grown children, they all say the same thing. Enjoy these years; soon they will be going to college, getting married, and raising families of their own. I know that I need to remember this even as my two year old son spills a bottle of apple juice all over my freshly washed kitchen floor, or baby powder on the living room carpet. Here are some tips to make the toddler stage more manageable and enjoyable for everyone.Image result for Encouragement for Moms of Toddlers

Have a daily routine, but be flexible. Young kids crave consistency, and it helps them to know what to expect from their daily schedule. This includes snack, meal times, and bed times. Up until a certain point nap time should be consistent, until the child starts to grow out of their nap time (usually around age 3). Though routine is good, it is important to be flexible.

Have realistic expectations of your children (based on age). At home while they are awake do not plan any major projects, make your focus them. I try to fit in dishes, and starting laundry in the morning while my daughter is eating breakfast and is in her high chair. In planning an outing, I always keep nap times and meal times in mind, and try to do them in the morning when my kids are well rested. I also do my best to be home before lunch.

Have realistic expectations of yourself. This is a stage of life where you need to plan things in nap sized pieces. I try to save bigger projects like folding and putting away laundry, cleaning, and baking for nap time. This week my big project has been sorting through kids clothes. I managed to finish two drawers each day.

Have fun, be spontaneous. It is so wonderful to sometimes just let go, especially after a particularly stressful day. So let go and have a dance party in living room, drop everything and go to the park, or just go outside to play.

Don’t forget the cuddle time. Remember your kids will not be small forever, so give your little ones lots of hugs and kisses. Snuggle up together and watch a movie, or read a book together.

Messes are part of the deal. Kids naturally will make messes. It’s part of their job description. If you came to my house right now you would see toys everywhere, and Cheerios on my kitchen floor. With four children we have had a few big messes in our house such as the baby powder or apple juice. My method of preventing big messes usually involves making sure that I try to not tackle complicated projects while my younger children are awake. If I need to do something, I will put my youngest daughter in her high chair and give her toys to play with. I know that if my two year old son communicates with me that he wants a refill in his cup I should probably listen. If I am not responsive to his request he will help himself to juice.

Take time out for yourself. Try to set aside some time during your day to spend on yourself even if it means getting up early. Read a book, watch a TV show, or have a cup of coffee. This is so important to give yourself some time to recharge your batteries. It will make you a better mom.

Even as I am in the midst of toddlerhood with my younger children (ages 1 and 3), I also have kids that are of school age. I can’t believe where the time has gone. It reminds me of my favorite song by Steven Curtis Chapman called Cinderella. It is about a father who is stressed from his day and his daughter wants to play, soon she wants to show him her prom dress, and in a blink he is dancing with her at her wedding. When my oldest daughter was a baby, my husband used to dance with her to this song, and now she is about to finish the first grade.

Despite the daily challenges we all face as moms of toddlers it is important to remember the Cheerios on the kitchen floor will still be there later. Give your little ones lots of love and attention, stories, and hugs. You will be glad you did!!!!!

7 Tips for Reading to Your Toddler

Reading to young children helps to build language skills and helps to build a wonderful bond between parent and child. Reading to your child it helps to develop important language, and social skills. In addition, research has shown that children who are read to at home (starting at an early age) become better readers as they enter school. The benefits of reading to kids starting at a young age are numerous and cannot be ignored.

Toddlers are a curious age level that may be difficult to predict at times. However, spending quality time with your toddler by reading to them helps to ease stress and makes relationships stronger. One way to do this is to by reading to them. Here are some tips to make your reading experience more enjoyable and beneficial for your toddler.Image result for 7 Tips for Reading to Your Toddler

Tips for Reading to Toddlers

Minimize distractions. Turn off the television, put away the toys and cozy up together in a favorite chair. Decide prior to sitting down what you will read. If child is old enough let he or she choose a book.

Choose simple and short Books. Keep your book selections simple, short, and relatable to the age level. Often engaging them with an area of interest such as animals or cars will help to hold interest.

Picture Preview. Preview the pictures with your toddler prior to reading them the book. Start with the cover of the book and talk about the pictures in the book. This is particularly important with younger children with shorter attention spans. Gradually as you get them interested in the pictures start to add in some of the story text.

Engage in Conversation. Use books to engage toddlers in conversation, talk about the characters, and what is happening in each part of the story.

Expect Repeated Readings. It is likely that if a toddler likes a particular book he or she will want to read it again and again. You will find that eventually as your toddler becomes more and more fluent with language he or she can tell you the story.

Mix it up. While your child may have his or her favorite books try to add some new ones once in a while to make story time more fun and interesting.

Reading to Multiple Age Levels. I have a 15 month old daughter who has just started becoming more interested in reading books, but right now she likes the pictures. I tend to choose shorter board books for her, while my son can sit and listen to a much longer book. A strategy I find that works for reading to children of different ages is to choose a much shorter board type book first to everyone, then put the youngest to bed and finish by reading a longer story to the older child ( or children).

Regular story time gives both parents and kids time to unwind and relax from a busy day and spend quality time together before settling down for the night. I’m specifically talking about bedtime stories, but reading is a great way to unwind at any time of the day. Reading to your toddler can be both a fun and rewarding experience for both of you. It is a wonderful way to spend with your child while teaching important pre-reading skills. This is a fun and relaxing activity that can be enjoyed by all ages. You will be glad you did!!!

 

5 Back to School Transition Tips For Your Kindergartener

Do you have a child who is going to kindergarten for the first time this year. Here are some tips to help make the transition a little easier for both your child and family. My second daughter will be going to kindergarten this year so I have a bit of an idea of what to expect. Despite knowing what to expect, I know one thing is for sure I am going to miss her being at home with me during the day.

Most of these tips apply to children going to school for the first time. For each family this will be different and might be prekindergarten or preschool. However, many of these tips could apply to an older child starting at a new school this year.

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Visit school: Most schools have a kindergarten orientation where children can get a taste of what the school is like and have a tour, the teachers and, maybe take a ride on a bus. My recommendation is attend as many of the events as possible before the school year starts to help get your child used to the school environment. If possible have your child meet their teacher ahead of time.

Shopping: Take your child with when you shopping for back to school items and let them take some ownership over the process. Let your child have a choice in their lunch box, or pencil case.

Realistic Expectations: Some kids might be really excited to start school for the first time. However, it has been my experience that most kids have some mixed feelings about the experience. Do not fake excitement about your child going to school for the first time particularly if there could be some mixed feelings for them. However don’t feed them unnecessary fear either.

Listen: Be available of a child needs to talk about his or her feelings of going to school for the first time. Validate feelings as real and talk them through their feelings. However, don’t go any deeper than needed as this might add unneeded fear to the situation. For example if the child has not expressed that he or she is nervous about going to school, it may not be necessary to discuss it.

Normalize the “Back to School” Experience: Treat the “back to school “experience as normal as possible. This is more possible if the child has an older sibling already in school and can share stories and experiences with their younger sibling. Whether he or she has an older sibling or not try to make your child feel that they are not alone in their experience and that there are other kids who will be experiencing the same things as them as they go to school for the first time.

Trial Run: Over the summer had my girls go to soccer camp and gave my kids the opportunity for a week to have a little time away from me. It was a growing experience for my second daughter who never has gone to preschool. She has had babysitters come to our house, but over this last year she has had me home with her full time.

Easing Mom Anxiety: Moms get back to school jitters too. After all the lunches and school supplies are packed make sure you take lots of pictures. The closer there first day of school comes I keep thinking about how I am going to miss my kiddo, but I felt the same for my now almost second grader when she went to kindergarten. I am going to try to wait until she gets on the bus before I cry. I have a feeling her siblings are going to miss her a lot too. During the first few days getting yourself back into a routine at home will help with the transition.

Easing Sibling Anxiety: When my now almost second grader went to kindergarten for the first time her three year old little sister (now going to kindergarten this year) tried to follow her onto the bus. She had a very difficult time being separated from her because they are so close in age. If your other kids experience this try to plan something fun (such as going to the park,or library) for them to do during the first few days of school that way it will help them to transition a little easier. Then try to get them into a normal routine as soon as possible. In addition, having a time for the younger children to experience school by having a story time and craft time will help younger children feel more included in the back to school experience. Here are some tips for reading to toddlers, and a cute craft idea.

A new school experience is a milestone for every child, and mom. While change can be good, it is never easy. Try to make the experience memorable and positive for everyone, and if the tears come (either mom or kid tears) deal with it if necessary (don’t forget the tissues). Just remember to soak up the experience, and take lots of pictures. You will be glad you did.