Visualize Your Way to Family Serenity

The following post is by contributor Catherine Way.
What times of day or family activities are stressful for you?  What makes you through up your hands and say I just don’t know how to make it better?  A technique I use in my offline life as a preschool teacher, visualizing classroom routines and creating a procedure, has turned out to be surprisingly effective at helping me be a more serene mother.  

One time of day that is always tricky for my family is getting ready for school and work in the morning.  I find it hard to get ready when I’m being interrupted by children wanting breakfast or needing me to find their socks.  And when I’m ready, I look at the children to find that they have undressed and are creating a race track in the middle of the lounge room.  I get frustrated and try to hurry them up so that we aren’t late.  They get angry that I’m trying to pack up their racetrack and suddenly we are all yelling.  What’s a mum to do?

To help make this time of day flow more smoothly, I take some time to visualize how I’d like the morning to go, from the time we wake up until we walk out the door.  I look for trouble spots and decide how those problems can be avoided.  I take into account what I need to have to make the morning feel peaceful (coffee and time to do some jobs on my own) and my children’s temperaments (for example, my eldest son will not eat breakfast as soon as he gets up). [Read more...]

Kids in the Kitchen: Part Two

The following post is by contributor Jaimie of Two Chicks and a Hen

Last week I wrote about why I believe  cooking with our kids is important.  Many of you responded, and some of you listed even more reasons to bring kids into the kitchen.

7 Tips for Successful Cooking With Kids

Today I’d like to share some tips for how to successfully cook with kids.  If your small children have never cooked with you before, you might not all collaborate on a massive Thanksgiving meal the first time you cook together.  Start small, and you’ll  find that shared food prep becomes second nature before too long.

Until then, try these tips for making the experience smoother:

[Read more...]

Weekend Links

Hope you are having a wonderful weekend, my friends!

Books and Toys: Is it Time to Downsize?

The following post is by editor Kara Fleck.

It is time to downsize at our house, I can feel it.  Our play areas are starting to feel a little chaotic and lately a few Spring-like sunny days revealed a layer of dust on some once beloved items.  I know I need to reevaluate what we own and the kids and I need to make some decisions. 

I try to follow the “one in, one out” rule, but that didn’t happen during this most recent round of birthdays and holidays.   We have accumulated too many things and it is affecting our living space and the quality of the children’s play.

Are you also feeling overwhelmed by the books and toys your children have? Are they having a hard time keeping things picked up?

When this happens at my house, despite our toy and book rotating, I know that it might be time to downsize.  Luckily, my friend Tsh of Simple Mom is coming to my rescue with her annual Project Simplify. My house, especially the children’s spaces, can’t wait to begin!

If you’re a regular reader of Simple Kids or Rockin’ Granola then you know that I readily confess that I don’t “do it all.”  One of the things I’m able to coast a little bit on is the deep cleaning.  I get by with basic every day chores that the kids and I do (toilets, beds, floors, and kitchen surface cleaning) and a twice a year intense deep attic to garage cleaning.   Only last fall with a new baby, that autumn deep clean didn’t happen.

We’re overdue for some clutter control.

Perhaps some of you are finding yourself in the same situation? 

[Read more...]

Kids in the Kitchen: Part One

The following is by contributor Jaimie of Two Chicks and a Hen.

When I talked about surviving the witching hour with small children last March, one of the suggestions I gave was including your children in the cooking.   Next week I’ll have lots of tips for how you can accomplish this in a way that keeps everyone happy and sane, but first I’d like to talk about why you should consider making this a regular part of your routine. 

Some of us cook with our kids all the time, and it’s no big deal, but some of us cringe at the thought of flour all over the floor, more clothes to clean, messy hands, ruined meals, etc.   Although there is some validity to those fears, you can eliminate most of them and successfully cook with kids by being intentional about the way you do it.  A little planning goes a long way in the kitchen.

Why You Should Consider Cooking With Your Kids

If you have yet to invite your kids to cook but would like to, consider the following:

Time Together

Our time is limited.  Most of us, even those who aim for simpler lives, find ourselves busier than we’d like, and this can sometimes mean that we wish we had more time to bond with our kids.  When we think of cooking as something that needs to be done without the kids, we squander a perfect opportunity for bonding and togetherness.   Cooking with our children gives us time together that we might not otherwise have. 

Even if dinner means walking in the door, throwing together a salad, and putting a frozen pizza in the oven, doing these things together is a great way to be with our kids and reconnect, especially if we’ve been away from each other for the day.

Some of us prep all of our food on Sunday for the week because the evenings are too busy.  Again—this is a great time to spend with our children instead of shuttling them off to the next room to watch a movie while we get “work” done.

[Read more...]