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The Magic of Not Giving Kids Chores

Think about how you motivate yourself to do chores. Do you give yourself a sticker for making your bed? Or, give yourself a chocolate for folding the laundry? Come on… NO!

Most of us need to be intrinsically motivated to get the job done.

Assigning chores, becomes a chore in itself!

The reality of getting a child to do a chore.
It takes a LOT of effort to enforce chores on young children! Most often, you have to use bribes, threats and rewards, which work for the short term, but eventually they stop working. Also, pathways of communication can break down, especially when using threats, but also when using bribes and rewards. A child may start hiding, lying, sneaking things or resenting their work, if they know they are not doing an action from their own motivation.

If you think of the long term implications… You can’t bribe a teenager to take out the trash with a sticker. You can’t withhold dinner from a teenager if he doesn’t put his laundry away. (Ok, you could, but you wouldn’t want to). There are more effective ways of dealing with daily chores and a lot of it comes down to building connection and natural learning (and not just our children doing the learning, but the adults too).

It’s important to know that young children (say under the age of 7) live in the present moment, it’s hard for them (sometimes impossible) to understand the concept of a ‘chore‘.

Examples of Naturally Learning About Household Responsibilities in Our House

Laundry
My 7 year old daughter complained that she could never find the clothes she wanted to wear because they were always dirty. I said, “Ok, do you want me to show you how to wash your laundry yourself?” She said, “YES PLEASE!” And, so I showed her how to do it. Also, the laundry piles were getting out of control. So, I got rid of 1/3 of our clothing, and the situation improved, so that I wasn’t overwhelmed anymore. I had something to learn too!

Leaving valuables/toys out
My 5 year old was constantly leaving her jewellery on the floor. When her baby brother started becoming more mobile, he started playing with her stuff. She didn’t want to him to play with her jewellery. Now, she keeps the jewellery neatly on her table, in a box (most of the time). When she forgets, it’s a reminder for her to put her stuff away. My kids like playing board games, but if they play too many without putting any away, there’s no room to play the next one!

Taking care of pets
My kids begged if we could get a pet. I said, we can, if you take care of it. A friend of ours asked us to fish-sit, which was a perfect opportunity to try it out. We took, Finn, for two weeks to our home. After only THREE days, my kids lost the interest in taking care of the fish. Rather than force them take care of Finn, I took care of Finn for the rest of the time and then kindly told them that we wouldn’t be getting a pet. They were ok with my decision. Obviously, if you already have the pet, this can’t work, but for us, it was a great learning experience!

Waiting for ME to finish a chore
If my kids want to go out and play, but I want to hang the washing out first. They have two choices. They can either help me hang it out so we can get out of the house faster, or they have to wait until I do it all by myself. Sometimes they help me, and it goes fast. Other times, they don’t help and they don’t get as much time to play.

These scenarios are very simple yet powerful life experiences. There’s no bribing, threatening or rewarding and I try to be as compassionate as I can be. The learning is more gentle and more meaningful that way.

Using Playfulness

No matter if we are intrinsically motivated to do chores or not, doing chores is not always pleasant! And, we can get quite resentful about having to do them. And, then, we can take our anger out on our children about doing chores, when really, our kids are not intentionally making a mess or being lazy!

Using playfulness is beneficial for both the kids and the parents. I’ll sometimes play games with me kids, like queen and servants, where I’m the servant and they’re the queen. We all laugh about it and it takes away the negativity of the situation. Or, I’ll say silly non-sense things like, “Here I go again, doing my FAVOURITE THING AGAIN IN THE WHOLE WORLD…. THE DISHES!!!” And I roll my eyes so we all laugh. Laughing is a beautiful healing mechanism that helps us to make our work lighter and helps children (and ourselves) process painful feelings of anger and frustration.

So, how will kids learn to clean up after themselves if you don’t give them chores?

Some kids have have more of a capacity to want to help out than others. You can bring awareness to a child about how empowering it is to take responsibility. But, some kids are just not going to care and that’s sometimes hard for us to accept!

When a child feels a connection to the family and society, and she is more free from negative emotions, then she will be more likely to contribute (especially if being tidy is her nature). If the child’s nature is to not care about the messes, then it can take a little bit more effort. The effort can be in the form of natural consequences or a loving limit from us. Just because I don’t give my children chores, doesn’t mean my kids are free to make unlimited messes and destroy things!

And, using natural consequences or a loving limit can mean so much less stress for us because we’re not constantly keeping tabs on whether our kids have done their chores or not! Also, not giving chores does not mean I do everything for my children! It means that I do what I can and if they don’t like it, they can step in and do something about it.

What about the lessons they’re missing out on by not having chores?

If I have the time and energy, I do things for my kids when they technically could do it themselves. Why? Because I sometimes ask them to do things for me! And, what’s no surprise, is that when I do ask them for help or ask them to cooperate, they’re generally more willing to help me out. They see me doing things for them, so they do things for me. The lesson is that we can all do things for each other and it’s a nice thing to do. There doesn’t have be to a reward, threat or bribe involved.

Chores don’t necessarily equal more responsible adults!

When I was a kid, although I had a fair amount of responsiblities, my parents only asked me to do a few chores, and only when I got older. Growing up without having chores has taught me a lot about my own limits and it taught me a healthy amount of self-motivation. I have to say that I’ve turned into a fairly responsible adult. I also know children who were raised in strict households, where doing lots of chores was the norm… and they haven’t necessarily grown up to be responsible adults!

Making choices to make less work!

My husband and I would much rather go surfing than do chores! So, we’ve modified our lives to suit our lifestyle.

We purposely live in a small-ish apartment, with minimal stuff (and hoping to get even more minimal) and without a yard to worry about, so that we have more time to have fun and spend less time doing chores. I can give my whole place a really good clean in about an hour and I keep refining my system to make things easier and more efficient.

If you find yourself getting angry because you’re the only one cleaning up, you can consider a few things.

Could there maybe be some past experience that is making you feel like you need to give children chores in order to make them learn about responsibility?

Maybe you were forced to clean up when you were a child? Maybe you were yelled at for leaving a mess? And, if you’re feeling frustrated by the mess, maybe, right now in your life, your needs aren’t being met and you need some help from another adult? Can you ask a friend to come over and help? If you children are old enough, can you explain to them why the mess can be overwhelming for you? A lot of older kids will make an effort if you open up about how you feel and respectfully talk with them about finding solutions.

We can certainly ask our young children to help us clean up, but most often, their response will be variable and coercing them to do chores is something that may turn into more work for us, with no guarantee of teaching a child any long term benefits!

Most young children won’t naturally clean up their mess. Because, a mess, to them, may not be a mess. It’s usually a grande imaginary creation. Also, most messes are overwhelming for them to clean up because it’s just too big. One big rule I have for my kids and toys is to remember to not have too many toys laying around, that way if the toys do get all over the place, it won’t be an overwhelming nightmare for the kids or myself to clean up.

I love that my children are learning to care for their home environment from a natural learning perspective! I do cranky sometimes about the mess, usually when I’m over tired, but that’s also part of the learning journey for me! And, the magic is that I’m mostly happy, my kids are happy, my house feels good and our experience is nurturing and with long term relationships and trust in mind. My house is probably a little messier than most, but I’m ok with it. And, we’re all learning and letting go of expectations and finding new solutions.

 

Dear America, What Exactly Are Y’all Praying For?

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My husband woke up before me and showed me the screen of his phone. “What the hell.” He said. “What the fuck.” I said. We don’t swear much. But this news check required swearing.

Another shooting. More people praying.

Praying for the victim’s peace. Praying for the victom’s families. Praying that another act of ‘senseless violence’ (ahem, domestic terrorism/murder) won’t happen again.

How about we start praying for GUN LAW REFORM?!?! Now there’s a thought! It’s mighty kind of us to pray for victims and their families, but by the time we’re praying for the victims and the families is too late!!!

What if, instead of waiting for these things to happen, and then praying later, American politicians did something to STOP mass shootings from happening.

Don’t pull your bullshit, “People shoot people”. I moved away from America ten years ago and I live in a country with people too. Crazy people, sane people, rich people, poor people. The difference is that in the country I live in now, people don’t have access to guns like they used to. In 1996, there was a mass shooting in Australia and the politicians said enough is enough. They changed the gun laws. They made a gun buy back program to get guns out do the hands of civilians. And guess what? No more mass shootings.

There was no praying. (Ok, maybe there was). Quite simply, the laws were changed. There was no fluffing around. The Australian politicians decided that the right to live was greater than the right to own a gun.

And, people here can still own guns. And, we still have gun violence. It’s stupid. I wish the laws were even stricter. When you do hear of gun related violence, it’s usually associated with some sort of domestic violence.

But no lunatic pulling out a semi automatic weapon killing 50 people and injuring 500 more!

So, America, pray all you want, because I know you’re a prayin’ nation, but please pray for the right thing. Pray that your politicians will keep the guns out of the hands of people who should not have them. The second amendment does not apply to phsycopaths with semi automatic rifles! I’ll pray for you too. And for your husbands and wives and for your children, that your politicians will do the right thing.

 

The “Stop Judging Me” Epidemic

Some parents have become so defensive in their parenting practices, that they sincerely believe someone else’s triumphs are a direct attack on their way of living.

A home birth story turns into you judging another mother for having a c-section story. A photo of your kids enjoying a day of homeschool turns into a dig against kids who go to school. A photo of a smiling mother, happily breastfeeding, instantly becomes an insult to those women who couldn’t breastfeed. A proud photo of babywearing becomes an attack on parents who use strollers. A parent who openly says they will never do ‘cry it out‘, because it goes against their heart and against what all the research says, is dragged over the coals for judging other mothers who do ‘cry it out’.

It’s out of control. It’s ridiculous.

Since when have parents become so incapable of appreciating others experiences? Since when have parents become so unwilling to gain something useful from someone else’s life stories? Since when have parents become so defensive to the point that rather than admit they may have something to learn, they scream out, “You don’t know what my life is like, stop judging me!Read the rest of this entry

Ten Years Ago, I Made a Ten Year Plan

Ten years ago, I was feeling a little bit lost. I think a lot of people go through a rough patch like this at some point. I had a degree, but couldn’t find a good job. Wasn’t happy where I was living. Thought I wanted kids and a family, but maybe didn’t know when or where to start as most of the other areas of my life didn’t seemed to be lining up.

So… I sat down and made two plans. The first was a short term plan for getting things I needed to get done in the next 6 months or so. The second plan was a long term, ten year plan.

I divided my long term plan into different pages. One page for career. One page for family planning. One plan for community volunteer goals. One plan for the type of education I needed to get the job I wanted. Where I wanted to live, etc.

It took me less than a half an hour. When I finished, I folded it up and put it in a special place and felt a lot better. If anything, I had a plan.

And guess what?

Almost everything on that plan came true!

There were some variations and lots of things that came to me that were way beyond what I could have ever imagined. But, for the most part, the plan happened.

There’s a big a power in having a goal. A plan gives you direction and focus. A plan allows you to relax because you already know that you’re working in one direction and even if it doesn’t work, you’re at least giving your 100%. The trick is not getting too obsessed or stuck on the plan. While I had a plan, I also left lots of room for spontaneity. Because really, you never know what life is going to dish out.

For example, something I remember putting in my plan was that I wanted to have three kids, when I was 28, 30 and 32. Bwahahaha!

Well, the first part was sort of true, I had my first at 27 and the second at 29. Then, I realised that having kids two years apart was totally mental for us, so I decided to wait four years for the third and he came along when I was 34.

And, for places to live, I wrote that I really wanted to move somewhere with nice weather and good waves. So, I put my options as either Hawaii, Australia or California. Soon after, we moved to Australia, and we’ve been here since!

A few months ago, I started feeling that old familiar feeling…. Like, “Ok… What’s next?” And, I remembered, that my ten year plan had ‘expired‘. I guess it’s time to sit down and make another ten year plan. Let’s see what happens!

When Babies and Toddlers Go on Strike! An Aware Parent Perspective

My ten month old son was getting a new tooth, and while it wasn’t causing him pain, his latch must have felt different. One day, he sort of chomped/grazed me while he was feeding. I jumped and let out a ‘YELP!‘ On the surface, he showed no obvious response to my reaction. But, when we started having extreme difficulties feeding for the next few days, I knew that he had been upset by my reaction to his bite.

It’s very common for babies and toddlers to ‘strike‘. Most common are breastfeeding ‘strikes‘, or if you’re doing elimination communication, it could be a potty ‘strike‘. (If you haven’t heard of elimination communication, it’s taking your baby to the potty, I wrote a blog post about it here.) Other ‘strikes‘ could be sitting still for a nappy change, getting in the carseat, getting dressed, brushing teeth, etc. I lumped all the ‘strikes‘ together, because while the reason for the ‘strike‘ may be different, the remedies for the ‘strikes‘ are generally the same!

Sometimes the ‘strike‘ seems to resolve itself, while other times, the ‘strike‘ seems to go on forever.

I put the term ‘strike‘ in quotation marks, because it’s not really that the baby doesn’t want to continue with the activity. Rather, babies at this age go on ‘strike‘ because of some sort of unmet need or pent up emotions. This post will talk about WHY a baby goes on ‘strike‘ and what actions you can take to resolve the issue, all while staying emotionally available and connected to your baby. Read the rest of this entry

I Finally Learned The BEST Way to Moisturise My Skin (Cheap and No Gimmicks): Ayurveda

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Ever since I can remember, winter used to mean horrible dry skin for me. Even after I moved from the east coast of America to the warmer climate of the Gold Coast of Australia, my skin was still awful in winter. So dry that my hands and feet would crack and sometimes bleed! I tried using every type of moisturiser and every method out there (or so I thought). Until, at the start of last winter, my ayurvedic doctor told me to start doing daily warm oil massage in the morning, followed by a shower. Hmmm… That was weird, I thought. Put the oil on BEFORE the shower? I was willing to give it a try. Read the rest of this entry

Parenting With Less Wasted Words

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When my first was little, I used to talk to her all day. Almost a steady stream of explanations, questions and observations. I felt like it was up to me to deliver an experience of the world around her, through my eyes. When I watch old videos of us together, I wish I could have lovingly told the ‘me‘ of seven years ago to just be quiet and let her enjoy the new things she was discovering.

I used to say, “Oh, look at the moon! Look at the doggie! Wave bye bye!” ect. Interestingly, she went through a period where she was scared of the moon and of dogs! It was almost as if me pointing these things out to her and drawing artificial attention to them made her anxious! I also started to realise that it gets tiring always explaining, asking and talking!

This post is about my journey in the way I speak (or choose not to speak) to my kids and other children. I don’t want anyone reading this to think that I’m obsessed over every little thing I say to my kids or that I count my words or something crazy like that! It’s been more about the general awareness level and breaking free of the ‘record player‘ (the way we’re programmed to speak to children from our own past experiences). I feel I have a much deeper connection with my kids when I stop ‘talking at‘ them and really consider if what I have to say is actually helping the situation, or if I’m imposing my ignorance or my past, on their new experiences. The journey of awareness of speech is gradual and on-going.

Now, she’s 7 years old, and the other day, she was braiding a belt for her pants that kept falling down. She was putting in a considerable effort into the task that she had initiated herself. But, I could see straight away that the yarn she had cut was too short. For a second, I wanted to ‘save‘ her from making a mistake. I could have told her to stop and consider if the string was long enough. But, I didn’t. I watched. She finished. She realised it was too short. She simply said, “Wow, this is WAY too short!” and bounced away from her project and didn’t try to make another one.

In the short term, my intervention would have meant she would have been successful this time, but what about the next time and the time after that? I guess I could have encouraged her to make another one, right? Wasn’t she disappointed that she hadn’t succeeded? No… Her final product was only a failure in MY eyes. She didn’t have to know about the dialogue in my head! Who am I to say what learning experience she had gained? She had completed her activity and wasn’t attached by the outcome, only I was attached the outcome.

I found that most of the time when I ‘talked at‘ my children (explaining, asking questions, being unaware of their learning journey), I was interrupting a really important learning processes.

My four year old recently learned how to scoot really well on her scooter. By accident, I told her twice how awesome it was that she was scooting so well! (Cheer leader style). She rolled her eyes and said, “Why do you keep saying that?!” Oops… sorry. They’ll catch you in that moment of unawareness and let you know how irritating you are!

Kids complain. We try to reason with them. Instead of hearing them out.

Kids cry. We talk and distract, rather than listen to their hurts and frustrations.

Kids are sad. We try to talk them out of being sad, instead of allowing their hearts to be heavy (with kids, the heaviness usually only lasts for a few moments)

Kids discover something new! We try to explain their discovery even deeper and accidentally make it seem like they might not be able to learn all the answers on their own.

Kids get scared of something. Again, we try to distract or won’t validate their fears, telling them to stop being silly, or to be a big girl, instead of holding them in their space and allowing the fear to express itself.

The same goes for getting kids to cooperate. Let’s says it’s time to leave the park, I say we need to get going a hundred times, but they know that the first 99 times I say it, that we’re really not ready to go. So, I’ve literally wasted my breath. Same goes for put on your shoes, brush your teeth, etc. Unless the sound honestly does not reach their ear drums… they heard you the first time! Whether or not they cooperate is another story.

Over the years, I’ve gotten so so much better at responding, rather than reacting, but it’s hard to break out of ‘react‘ mode! Even people who have practiced some sort of self help/self discipline for years, suddenly find themselves spewing out words of unawareness from their past experiences when they become parents. Children bring out the best and worst of us!

Kids usually don’t need lengthy explanations on life. They get it. But, sometimes they DO need extra explanation. For example this morning, miss. 7 was bouncing on the bed doing flips and splits. Instead of telling her to ‘stop it‘ a million times, I told her “I need you do do your flips and splits in the other room because Marty is getting distracted by all your noise!” So, she went off in the the other room.

While writing this, my 4 year old came to me complaining about her sister. I listened. I told her in a few words that I understand how she is feeling. She left, happy that she was heard. I didn’t have to explain for ten minutes about another course of action she could take that would make everybody happy. I mean, if she had asked me for some advice, I would have given it to her. But, really, she just wanted a shoulder to cry on.

Young children live in the present moment, so there’s really no need for too much explanation, planning ahead, pondering, etc. If they’re ready to absorb it, they will. If they’re not ready, the event or phenomena will simply pass them by.

Although I do talk now with more awareness, I’m not so serious and rigid that I won’t sing a silly non-sensical song to the baby and do silly fart jokes with the 5 year old. I still talk and explain things and point things out. It would be really unnatural and stiff not to! The key is to be natural with my kids and leave those past experiences aside to make room for something new!

If after reading this post, you feel like you want to speak with less wasted words to your children, but you’re not sure of how to get them to cooperate, there’s a fantastic book that I highly recommend, called ‘Attachment Play’ by Aletha Solter. 

And Mama, How is YOUR Sleep Going?

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Most articles are about getting the CHILD to sleep. Getting kids to have a peaceful night’s sleep is important (and I’ll talk a little about that), but I haven’t found much emphasis on if the PARENT has good sleeping habits. I’ve had enough disturbed sleep over the past 7 years of parent hood and what I found is that I was the one who actually had to discipline MYSELF to make sure I was getting enough sleep. I had to break a lot of bad habits and drop unrealistic expectations because I just wasn’t getting the sleep I needed. I also learned to look for signals of unmet needs in my children when they weren’t sleeping well. When we sleep better, our parenting is better. Our decision making is better. Even if our babies and children do wake up a little here and there, when the mother (or father) gets a good night sleep, the whole show runs a lot smoother.

If your child is disrupting your sleep…

Staying Connected to Your Children At Night
Babies and young children want to feel safe at night. Their need for comfort and closeness does not end when the lights go out. Some possible reasons for children having trouble falling and staying to sleep is simply the fear of being alone. If your child wants to share your bed, or your room, it’s ok to let them. It’s not weird or unusual for kids to want to be near you. My 7 year old still likes for me to lay down with her while she falls to sleep and usually we all go to bed at the same time. We have a family bed, with me, my husband, a 7, a 5 year old and a 10 month old baby, all in the same big bed. Family beds and family bedrooms are the way many families around the world spend the night.

With a baby especially, bed and/or room sharing is ideal because you don’t have to wake up and walk to your baby to pick him up. So, you both get less disturbed at night. They’re right next to you. Of course, if you bed share, be sure to make sure that it feels right for you and that you’re doing it safely. I know that I sleep way better when my babies and children are right next to me. I would actually have anxiety if my babies weren’t near me! If the opposite is true for you, and having your child near you at night makes you anxious, perhaps, if your partner is a light enough sleeper, they can sleep near your child. There are lots of room sharing/bed sharing options.

Baby Wakes Up All Night/Restless Sleep

A little night waking is completely normal, but if your baby is waking up all night long and is having restless sleeps, it’s often the sign of an accumulation of stress and overstimulation. Babies and children have an inborn mechanism to relieve that stress and they do it through raging and crying. If your baby or child is allowed and able to cry and rage freely and is supported to do so in the presence of a loving carer, they will often sleep much much better.

A baby that uses a control pattern to fall back to sleep, the breast, a dummy/pacifer/thumb sucking, often represses these emotions and wakes up more frequently. If your baby is not in the room, you may not even know that he or she is waking. But, if you’re the cosleeping, breastfeeding type, you will definitely know! I wrote a blog post here on breastfeeding cosleeping babies that wake all night and there is also a book called ‘The Aware Baby” by Aletha Solter, and she addresses control patterns and how they affect your child’s sleep. Also, young babies almost never eliminate in a deep sleep. Young babies stir to pee and are bothered by a wet nappies (even a wet disposable can annoy them). If you notice that they’re wet, you can do a nappy change in the dark, or I even take my babies to the toilet at night, which sounds a little crazy, but it’s actually easier than you think. Here’s a blog post on how to do elimination communication.

And for the parents…

Be in Bed NO LATER than 10pm
Going to bed early is the biggest thing of all. I actually aim between 8:30 and 9. They say that the hours of sleep you get before midnight are worth twice as much as the hours after midnight. By 10, that means actually be in bed by 10, not start heading to bed at 10! If you follow ayurveda, the science of life, they say it’s ideal to fall asleep before 10pm. The hours between 10pm-2am are when the body is making repairs. If you’re not asleep during that time, your body is not recovering well enough.

Also, what happens after 10pm, if you’re awake, is that you start to wake back up! Then, 10 turns into 11 and 11 turns into 12 and before you know it, you’re going to bed at midnight. Compound that if your baby or child wakes up a lot or they wake up early, then you’re screwed. I wrote a more in depth article on when it’s important to fall asleep before 10, you can read here. I don’t always go to bed by 10, but on the days I don’t, the next day, there’s hell to pay and I’m a miserable grump!

If you feel like you’re missing out on quiet time with your partner by doing this, maybe only stay up late once a week? Sometimes my husband and I wake up early, before the kids, and have some quiet time or do something, like meditate together or take turns going surfing. If we stay up late to get peace and quiet, we just end up sleeping until the kids wake up and then I feel like I spend the whole day chasing my tail.

Be Careful Who You Complain To!
If you complain about lack of sleep to the wrong people, they’ll probably start telling you things that are not necessary and even counter productive in the long run. They might tell you to stop doing the intuitive things that you’re doing. You might end up trying cry it out, or giving solids before the baby is ready, or forming some short term solution for sleep, that contributes to a long term problem of broken connection and later behaviour problems.

Avoid  Screens Before Bed
This seems like an obvious one, but really hard to follow! Just a reminder… as what you’re viewing on the screen has the potential make the mind very active and make it harder to settle. You might have weird dreams as the consciousness tries to process what you’ve just looked at before you fell to sleep. Avoid leaving your phone in your room at night, so that you’ll be able to resist looking at it, should you wake up.

Busy Mind, Can’t Sleep?
If you know a meditation technique, before bed can be a good time to do it! You can’t calm the mind with the mind, you need something else. A really awesome technique is called alternate nostril breathing. Here’s the link on how to do it. You can just sit up in bed any time and do it for a few minutes if you’re having trouble going to sleep.

Another Trick For ‘Can’t fall back to sleep’.
I learned this last year on a meditation course and it really works. So, if your mind is really busy, it means you have too much prana (energy) in the head. So, if you put your awareness on your feet and on the EXHALATION of your breath, then you help to move all the energy back down. You’ll notice that your mind wanders a lot, but just keep brining back to your breath and your feet and you’ll hopefully be asleep in no time.

Avoid Naps
Unless you’re really depleted or you’re in the days of post partum, avoid taking day sleeps. Having a day sleep will make you want to go to bed later and then might make it harder for you to fall back to sleep if you wake up at night. Also, taking a day sleep, according to ayurveda, can make things in your body, like your digestion, run a big more sluggish than usual. So, better to avoid it unless you’re really zonked. It is important to rest while your kids sleep. So their rest time can be a good time for you to do something rejuvenating, like have a cup of tea, do some yoga and meditation or even stare a a wall if it’s been one of *those* days. Hopping on the phone to check social media is fine, but I noticed I often feel that my ‘rest quota‘ is unfulfilled when I do that too much during the kid’s sleep time.

Anyway, these are things that I’ve found have worked for making sure the parent has enough rest! It’s so important for us and for our families to be well rested. So, nighty night, sleep tight!

 

 

iPad Friendly Preschool Exercise Bikes and The Demise of Early Childhood “Learning”

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Why these things exist in the first place is a whole system fail. I do love Aldi, but when I flipped through their catalog and I saw this Fisher Price think and learn exercise bike for PRESCHOOLERS, I dropped a big ‘WTF‘, right in front of my whole family. My husband laughed and was like, “Oh… mummy needs her mouth washed out with soap.

The gimmicks out there are incredible and marketers work really hard on making innocent parents feel like guilty sacks of crap for, heaven forbid, letting their kids play without learning ‘something‘.

As if riding a bike weren’t hard enough for a preschooler, now we can learn our phonics while we ride! Actually, it’s pedalling a stationary bike that develops none of the decision skills, gross motor skills and vestibular system that riding a real bike would do.

Let’s making learning ‘fun‘ (insert vomit). This type of learning, where the learning has little to do with the game, is called ‘gamification‘ and gamification is a buzz word right now amongst big corporations who want your money. I wish there was a bullshit police who could stop companies from creating products that are designed to prey on well meaning parent consumers (we’re the biggest suckers of all)… but there isn’t. So, you need to monitor your own bull honkey. The educational tools that get kids to exercise while they learn are the biggest sack of baloney on the market.

Kids that age have energy. Yes, it’s true. They have an endless source of energy for bouncing off walls, floors, couches or anything else that they feel like bouncing on or off of. Kids that age NEED to move their bodies. They NEED unstructured playtime to learn how to figure out tricky things with their bodies. They need to do things like learn to use their hands to break their falls, or to learn how to balance walking on a log, curb or any other thing that requires balancing on. Even in places where the weather is horrible 85% of the time (I grew up in one such place), or if they live in a concrete jungle, kids that age still need to play outside (or indoors) as much as they can. For the long term health and mental well being of society, kids need to be active so that they’re healthier. It’s simple.

Of course, kids need to learn ‘stuff’ too. “Learn” as we like to think of ‘learning‘, as in ABC’s. And they will. At that age, you would have to try and physically stop a child from learning whatever they are developmentally capable of learning.

The complicated and stupid thing is to mix exercise with curriculum. When kids play and get exercise, they’re learning, but they’re not learning the things that the curriculum says they need to learn. A child who has had adequate exercise and meaningful connection time, will most likely be able to learn what the curriculum says he or she needs to learn.

Also, it’s been proven that multi tasking doesn’t improve performance. So, if you’re riding a stationary bike, or bouncing on a ball, or doing something else WHILE you’re trying to learn, you’re not really focusing 100% on either thing that you’re doing!

Now, I know some people will say that this toy could be very useful in the inner city, where it’s not safe for kids to go outside and play. Or, where the weather is rotten. Or, in low socio-economic areas, where kids don’t get enough time talking or reading with their parents. Or, in some other isolated scenarios. But, the price tag of this educational item doesn’t exactly fit the demographic, now does it??

Also, adults have these things in gyms, so why can’t kids? Kids will be playing on their iPads anyways, so why not?? Well… let’s not be the enabler, ok?

And, what about the kids who fidget too much while they’re sitting down? Another system fail because kids (especially kids this age) need more exercise and they’re not getting it.

I haven’t actually used this gadget. It could be cool…. Like really, it could be. Yes, it could be true. I may be more full of it than Fisher Price. I may actually have no idea what I’m talking about. But, I’m still not backing down on anything I’ve said until the research comes out proving that getting kids to ride, wobble, fidget, balance or spin, improves how they learn curriculum content. The whole idea of getting kids ready for kindergarten, and why it’s not neccesary, is a whole blog post in itself, but I’ll save that for another time.

Anywho… my rant is over. Let the kids ride bikes. Let the kids learn phonics. But, not at the same time.

You Can’t Suck At Being A Parent Every Day

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I have days when I’ve absolutely nailed it. Clean house. Calm and collected kids. Food on the table BEFORE people get hangry. Time for a craft or two and maybe even a packed lunch for a picnic.

It happens. Not every day. Like, maybe once a week. But, on those days, I FEEL it! I own those days!

See Kate, some days you’re winning.” I say to myself.

Our mind clings to the negative. If we have a handful of bad days (or months) of parenting, then we feel like we ALWAYS have bad days of parenting. If we feel like our kids are bonkers sometimes, then somehow we feel like our kids are ALWAYS out of control. If our kids don’t sleep well for a stretch of time, we feel like they ALWAYS sleep like crap. If we feel depressed, alone, forgotten, unappreciated some days, then our mind starts believing that we’re ALWAYS in that state of misery.

Our mind is a funny thing.

We never doubt the negative, but we always doubt the positive. If someone tells me (or I think it) that I’m a shitty parent, man, I BELIEVE it! But, if someone says “Hey, you’re doing a great job.” I say, “Really?? You think so? No… you don’t know me… I suck.

Stop it.

It’s easy to catch yourself on a bad day and say that you suck. It’s much harder to catch yourself on one of those good days and remind yourself that there ARE days when you’re winning!

When I’m having a good day, I catch it. I remind myself. “See… I don’t suck EVERY day!