Category Archives: Toddler (18 mos – 3 yrs)

Mormon Parenting Hacks: “Mom’s Sick” Emergency Preparedness

Okay, I promise this post is way more awesome than it sounds.  Also, it’s not really a hack just for Mormon parents.  It just seems especially Mormon to me since we’re well-known hoarders of 5-gallon buckets.

I first read about this idea last week on Latter-Day Homeschooling as “Emergency” Homeschooling Survival Kits.  The idea was to have three days of homeschooling lessons packed into three 5-gallon buckets, to be used on days when you’re sick or otherwise un-motivated to teach homeschool.

But, really, what mother with toddlers at home doesn’t need an “emergency sick day” kit?  I’m pretty sure this sounds like the best idea ever to me.  Pack a bucket (or reusable grocery bag) with a days worth of activities for your toddlers, then pull it out when you’re ill, or one of your kids is ill, or when the refrigerator breaks and you need to entertain children at home for the day with minimal effort.  Maybe you’ve all thought of this idea before, but to me, it’s revolutionary.  Why not be prepared for the inevitable?

My goal this month is to put together 3 emergency sick day kits for under $15 each.  Here are my ideas of what to put in an emergency kit:

  • New school/craft supplies – because nothing makes coloring suddenly interesting again like a new box of crayons.
  • Stickers – a great activity I recent read of is to give the kids a million little stickers and a paper with a large shape outlined on it.  Have them fill the shape with stickers.  Sounds like 30 minutes of rest.
  • Printed out craft instructions – something simple and non-messy but time consuming?  Also ideal if it’s at the level a child can do by himself without a lot of help from (miserably sick) you.
  • Coloring books & puzzles from dollar section at Target – really, any thing from the dollar section will work.
  • Cake or cookie mix – both activity and comfort snack
  • Picture book
  • Clearanced toy from “the stash” – Do you guys have a stash?  I keep a stash of under $10 children’s toys for birthday presents; they’re also my current “bad day” go to solution, but doling them out like this will keep them more under control.  You could also do this a more expensive way and buy toys that you want to add to your toy collection, but not give them out until sick days.
  • Children’s DVD – great for the last hour before your husband gets home when you really can’t do any more.  Again, think of it as building your collection in a beneficial manner.

What do you think?  Any other brilliant ideas for what to put in an emergency kit?  I also like the idea from the original post to have emergency meals stored in your freezer.  A great way to do a little freezer cooking without feeling like you have to live that lifestyle.

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Filed under Baby (9 - 18 mos), Cooking & Meal Prep, Family Culture, Infant (0 - 9 mos), Mormon Parenting Hacks, Preschooler (3 yrs - 5 yrs), Toddler (18 mos - 3 yrs)

Theory Thursday: Transitioning away from “Distraction Discipline”

Today’s Theory Thursday is a little pet theory of mine about the best way to teach toddlers to stay away from stuff you don’t want them to have.  I know, it’s not the most profound subject, but it certainly is a time consuming one for SAHMs.  I’d be willing to bet that a mother of a 1-3 year old spends at least 90 minutes every day shooing their child away from dangerous or breakable things.

Of course, the best way to deal with the problem of not-touchable-by-toddlers stuff is to get rid of it or put it out of reach.  But for some things–major appliances, the toilet, computers, DVDs, mommy’s knitting–that strategy isn’t feasible.  You could just keep your baby in a gated room that is baby safe; indeed, I think this is a good practice for at least some of the day to allow a baby/toddler some independence.  However, sometimes you have to cook dinner or brush Baby’s teeth.  Toddlers, with their new-found mobility, are especially likely to encounter forbidden object.

For new babies, there can be no real discipline to keep them away from things, just a re-direction of energy and attention elsewhere, what I call “distraction discipline.”  But on some sad day, this stops working on your toddler and you have to start saying no and dealing with the ensuing tantrums.  As Monkey grew up, I noticed a progression in the discipline I used for dealing with these situations, which I have codified for your convenience.  Basically, I stuck at the lowest level possible until it no longer worked, then gradually transitioned to the next level.  The levels are:

  1. Make the object physically inaccessible, if possible.
  2. Distract, distract, distract.
  3. Say “No” and try to teach them not to touch it, perhaps with a simple reason.  (If you can’t think of a reason, perhaps you’re just freaking out about a new behavior.  Let your toddler experiment a bit.)  But remember, true logic doesn’t kick in until about 3 years old, so don’t expect this to hold from actual understanding so much as from repetition of a key phrase.  Repeat your phrase calmly until the child realizes you won’t give in and gives up himself.
  4. Offer a comparable activity.  If your toddler wants to pour out all of the cereal from the box, chances are that he or she is just interested in how pouring works.  Provide a plastic pitcher and some beans or rice to pour on top of a blanket or cookie sheet.  If he or she wants to drag something against the fireplace grating and create a horrible racket, take the grate somewhere safe and let them experiment with noise, or use cheese graters and metal sieves as a substitute.
  5. Instruct in nature and correct use of the item.  At some point, you’ll have to give into your toddler’s curiosity and teach them how to use the dishwasher, a knife, the sink, the television, etc. etc.  You’ll be surprised to find out how learning to use an item will stick with a toddler.  They very much like to know how things work and how to use them like a grown-up.  (If you’re unsure if a toddler can learn to do something (like use a knife, or put away dishes), I’d suggest checking out a Montessori book from your local library.  Kids can be a lot more self sufficient than we think.)

Viewing Monkey’s curiosity as a progression in discipline and understanding, rather than an act of disobedience, helps us to have a positive relationship about what he’s allow to do.  After all, it’s unreasonable to expect a 2-year-old to hold to the same boundaries as a 1-year-old.  Think how much they’ve learned in that year!  Once he becomes interested in an item we’d previously settled, I know it’s time to move on to the next level.  And once we’ve reached the last level, it’s no longer a problem because he knows the acceptable uses for that object.  For example, here’s how our discipline progression with the toilet looked.

  1. Keep the bathroom door closed.
  2. If the baby wanders into the bathroom, take him out and do something else with him.
  3. Explain “No, the toilet is dangerous.”  Repeat every time Monkey attempts to touch the toilet.
  4. Once Monkey realized the toilet meant open water play, I provided lots of substitute play by filling a large basin with water and setting it on the kitchen floor.  Bring towels.
  5. Explain how to raise and lower the lids gently.  Practice flushing.  Show how toilet paper flushes.  Explain about not drinking the water.  (Eventually, real potty training. :D)

This form of discipline applies mostly to things that children aren’t supposed to touch–stoves, toilets, cabinets, large boxes full of small parts.  But I suppose you could apply this method to social discipline as well.  At first, sharing and turn taking is beyond them.  Swift distraction is the only way to prevent fights.  After a while, distraction no longer works and you can begin to say “no.”  If the child is simply enjoying the act of taking, you could offer comparable activities by playing give and take with the child yourself, or perhaps a tug-of-war type game.  Finally, when the child is old enough to really understand, you can explain the motivations behind good social behavior and expect them to apply them.

Anyway, this though pattern is useful to me, so hopefully, it can help you!

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Filed under Baby (9 - 18 mos), Discipline, Infant (0 - 9 mos), Toddler (18 mos - 3 yrs)

Saturday Links – Top Formula Myths and Duplo Painting

Theory Links

The Top Five Formula Feeding Myths, Debunked – As a formula feeder myself, I have certainly been (unintentionally) hurt by a lot of lactivist comments.  I think every mother should know the truth and get their facts straight, whether you breastfeed or not.

Dealing with Diaper Changing Disasters – Some good go-to places for the stage Sailor’s currently in, where a diaper change is the worst thing that ever happened to him.  Some of this advice seems to have worked over the past few weeks, so we’ll see how it goes.

Activity Links

Duplo Printing – We loved painting with cars so this is the next logical step.  What other plastic toys can I hit up?

Constructive Eating – I have to wonder if this would make dinner take  more or less time.  I think some modified “pusher” tool should become the fourth official utensil, because really, spoons can be tricky devils.

Fun Uses for Kool-Aid – Because at $.10 a pop, you can always use more.

Table manners come more easily when practicing them becomes a game – So obvious. I can’t wait until my kids are old enough to compete.

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Filed under Baby (9 - 18 mos), Feeding, Infant (0 - 9 mos), Magda Gerber, Preschooler (3 yrs - 5 yrs), Saturday Five, Toddler (18 mos - 3 yrs)

Road Trip Activities, Redux

And we’re back with a review on our toddler and baby road trip activities:

Organizational strategy: Wow, the “surprise packages” idea takes the cake for an idea that sounded good in theory but blew up in practice.  I clearly did not think through the logistics of trying to manage 15 brown lunch sacks per child in the cramped car environment.  The sacks filled up two office paper boxes (you know, the ones that reams of paper come in) and were a complete mess within hours, sending me into OCD convulsions trying to organize from the front seat.

Luckily, I had a brilliant idea before we returned home and turned one box into a divided storage compartment by cutting the sides off the lid, cutting the lid in half, and duct taping the two pieces inside the box.  The result: three compartments effective at sorting toddler toys into a slightly more manageable mess in the car.  And it fits perfectly on the floor between the carseats and the front seats.

As for the activities themselves: Continue reading

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Filed under Baby (9 - 18 mos), Toddler (18 mos - 3 yrs), Travel

Saturday Links – Tips for Broadening Play and Button Snakes

Theory Links

But My Child Doesn’t Like to Play _______ – I totally have experience with this. In order to get Monkey to play anything new, I have to incorporate the alphabet.  Driving cars in letter shapes, building letters out of Legos, making food into letters . . .  I appreciated the additional ideas for broadening my son’s play.

Modeling Healthy Technology Use – If you have a smartphone, this is for you.

21 Reasons to Travel Around the World with Kids . . . From Those Who Have Done It – These reasons are part of why I’m looking into travel hacking (a natural extension of couponing :D).

Activity Links

Button Snakes – Simple, yet effective.  I will be building some of these soon.

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Filed under Couponing/Money Saving, Parental Motivators, Preschooler (3 yrs - 5 yrs), Saturday Five, Toddler (18 mos - 3 yrs), Travel

Let’s Go Drivin’ in a Automobile: Toddler and Baby Road Trip Activites

As I mentioned in yesterday’s library hits, we’re leaving Friday on a road trip.  It’s going to be our first road trip ever with Monkey (age 2.5) and Sailor (age 11 mos).  If you’d been at my house the last few weeks, you might think I was over-planning for a dinky 14 hour, one day road-trip from Seattle to Salt Lake City.  There are bags of toys and distractions everywhere, several new spreadsheets have been generated, and I’ve been refining the perfect mix CD of singable adult and children’s music.  This might be overkill, but right now I live in fear of three words: road trip meltdown.  There’s nothing that turns me into an irrational mess like hearing my kids crying in discomfort and boredom from the back seat and not being able to do anything about it.

Sure, I could probably just hand Monkey a portable DVD player with some Fraggle Rock or Word World, or even better, use my Grandma’s time-honored trick and knock them out with Benedryl (don’t worry, I won’t).  But part of me says that my kids need to learn to entertain themselves on a road trip, not  just send them into a coma; it’s morally beneficial, right?  (Additionally, we don’t have a portable DVD player.  Hey, the kids should feel blessed that we have air conditioning.  Back when I was a kid . . .)

So, how do you entertain toddlers on a road trip when so many traditional road trip games depend on more observant eyes, more brain power, or more ability-not-to-drop-everything than they currently have?  Continue reading

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Filed under Baby (9 - 18 mos), Toddler (18 mos - 3 yrs), Travel

Library Hits – 8/1/2011

Since we’re heading out on a road trip on Friday, we had to return three weeks worth of picture books to the library today.  Understand that, on average, we check out about 20 items from the library in a given trip, and some of these are mommy-sized books.  Today, our library books overfilled two reusable grocery bags, and I opted to return them in the outside slot because my arms were going to break from holding Sailor, both bags, and a purse.

So, this list doesn’t contain every book we checked out for those weeks.  Mostly just the highlights.  However, I am including my first Terrible rating in this post, just so you know not to waste the space on your library card checking it out.  Seriously, it was that bad.

Top of the Pile

Pigs to the Rescue by John Himmelman
Awesome
If you’ve read (or own, as we do) Chickens to the Rescue, you will find this book hysterically funny.  So funny that my husband and I couldn’t read anymore.  I’m not sure if it would be quite as funny if you hadn’t read the first book millions of times, but that’s not a problem, since Chickens to the Rescue is awesome. Continue reading

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Filed under Library Hits, Toddler (18 mos - 3 yrs)

Mormon Parent Hacks: 5 FHEs in 5 Minutes for Kids 5 and Under

Sorry to everyone who read this post when it was published in very early draft form.  That’s what happens when you mess around with publishing on your phone.  Here it is in full splendor.

Family Home Evening (FHE) is a major, definable task of Mormon parenting, yet there are so many excuses for not doing it.  When kids are young, it seems almost pointless since they can hardly pay attention anyway, but you know you need to get into the habit or it will be harder to start later.  Then there’s the whole planning ahead thing: I don’t know about you, but I can barely keep up with sweeping my floor and cleaning the highchair, much less plan a meaningful, spiritual FHE.

So I’ve hacked FHE at our house.  We pretty much rotate between the following FHE ideas which can be put together with only 5 minutes of planning right after dinner and take only about 15 minutes to execute when you add a song and prayer. Continue reading

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Filed under Baby (9 - 18 mos), Family Culture, Mormon Parenting Hacks, Preschooler (3 yrs - 5 yrs), Toddler (18 mos - 3 yrs)

Saturday Links – Family Heritage and Alphabet Rocks

Theory Links

Going Against a Toddler’s Will – Can I just say that I am so happy that someone linked me up with this blog?  Her writing in consistently on par.  Excellent points about necessities vs. like-to’s and being willing to make your kid cry if necessary.  More about that later this week when I review the book on which her philosophy is based, Dear Parent.

10 Ideas for Creating a Sense of Family Heritage – I have totally been thinking about doing #7 for a while.  (And I thought I was so unique for thinking of it.)  Guess this is another hint that I should get cracking writing these books.  Plus they’ll make great Christmas gifts for cousins.

Activity Links

Spaghetti and Play-doh = A Very Fun Match – When I first saw the title, I thought about cooked spaghetti.  Totally wouldn’t work.

Activities for Melissa and Doug Lacing Beads

Alphabet Rocks – Hello!  Totally cute, nature-y, and educational?  100% there.

Footprint Painting

Icy Play on a Very Hot Day

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Filed under Discipline, Family Culture, Preschooler (3 yrs - 5 yrs), Saturday Five, Toddler (18 mos - 3 yrs)

Library Hits – 7/18/2011

Some classics this week, as well as a few books not to check out to teach your toddler about the country.

Top of the Pile

The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson
AWESOME
Have to say I was skeptical when I first checked out this book when it won the Caldecott in 2009. I thought the poetry was a bit of a stretch, but it really has grown on me.  It goes without saying that the illustrations rock.  And it’s one of Monkey’s favorite explicitly-about-going-to-sleep books.  I need to take my own advice and buy this awesome book so my library can have its copy back. Continue reading

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Filed under Library Hits, Toddler (18 mos - 3 yrs)