Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday Mama Musings

Last week's mama musing asked what you would do when a parent said a terrible thing to their child in public. The majority said they would "give the parent 'the look'".

Onto today's musing:

We knew it would be coming. Our babysitters are starting to outgrow the babysitting stage. The sitter we've had the longest is now 19, going to college and is often out of town on weekends to visit with her boyfriend. Our next sitter is also headed away for college this fall, and is currently working away at a summer camp. Our third sitter option also works at the same summer camp. She is also a college student, and we can probably get her to babysit again in the fall but...we really want a date now. It's been a while since my husband and I had a night out. We were fortunate when my mom was out to visit as we got away for an evening, but it's getting to be that time where we need a little alone time. So how do you find a sitter? I know, some of you are fortunate enough to live close to family and don't worry about it. Maybe there is a girl in your neighbourhood that you've heard is responsible? Or perhaps a friend has a really good sitter she's willing to share with you? Maybe one of your friends has a daughter that fits the bill? Or do you trust a local ad that one of the sitters has placed? Is there another way to find a sitter I haven't thought of? Please vote in this week's poll and let me know your thoughts on babysitters in the comments :o)

Friday, July 24, 2009

What's In Your Diaper Bag?

This was a fun meme I ran into over at Mama Notes. She's asked us to spill our bag (without editing the contents), take pictures and share.

This is my diaper bag. It's the second one we've owned. We had a traditional diaper bag with our first son that I grew to hate, it just wasn't practical. When I saw this one from Columbia that was more of a backpack (with some great diaper bag features), I knew it was what we were looking for. I still love it 2 and a half years later.

Here's what I found inside today:

I have one in diapers and one out, so the purpose of the bag has changed over time. Inside is: a changing pad, a zipped container of nappy sacks (scented disposable bags for diapers), diapers, cream, PJ's, infant Tylenol, children's Advil, saline nose drops (my oldest has sinus issues), 2 small spoons, a couple of pens and a pencil, a colouring book and crayons, a variety of small toys, wipes, baby sunscreen, a granola bar and a fruit to go snack.

I also keep a "Mom Bag" in the car that's my just in case bag. I posted about it a couple of months back here. I look forward to seeing what you've got inside your diaper bags too :o)

Raising a Reader

"I love books, I love the library!" my 5 year old shouted at me, holding his new treasures in his arms.
"Mama, read this me?" my 2 year old asked holding a copy of Max's Toys by Rosemary Wells up at me.
How did I create such a joy of reading at young age? Well, it's something I didn't really think about at all, it's just something I did. Reading is something that I love and naturally shared with my children. I didn't think much of it until my husband mentioned to me that reading wasn't a big part of his childhood. He never would have thought to bring the kids to the library as a regular occurrence, but he's happy and appreciative that I do.
So you may be wondering where to begin. How do you get kids to like books? How do you raise a reader?
I started reading to my little ones at quite an early age (infants). Books for infants have a lot of repitition and soft words. As they get to be a little older, their books can become part of their toy collection. Soft books for chewing on and books with texture and bright colours to capture their senses. I also enrolled my children in a local library program called, "Babies in the Library". This was geared for infants to 18 month old babies and involved a lot of rhyme, finger play and dancing with other parents and their babies. The program lasted for 4-6 weeks at a time and rotated through the local libraries.
As my kids grew older going to the library just became a regular part of our lives. We would go every couple of weeks, each checking out books and DVDs that interested us. My 5 year old is a huge hockey fan and knows exactly where the hockey books are located. We've gone to many different library programs including toddler time, preschool time and the summer reading club. Most libraries will offer such programs. If you aren't sure where to begin, your local children's librarian can be a wealth of knowledge for you. They can help you find age appropriate and interest appropriate books for you and your child to enjoy.
We've also made reading a part of our night-time routine. Each of our kids has story time with mom or dad every night. We read anywhere from 1 to 3 books together. My husband is a great one for making the stories more dramatic with interesting voices for the different characters which makes our kids laugh. I often will ask questions about the pictures or what they think will happen next in the story. I will also mix up words of familiar stories intentionally to see if they catch me (they usually do).
Sometimes my kids and I will read side by side. I'll be into my own book and they will be 'reading' theirs. Kids imitate and learn what they see. If they see mom or dad into a book, chances are their interest in reading will be elevated.
Neither of my children read words yet, but they both do a great job at storytelling. They will use the pictures as cues to tell what is going on. This is a great first step to reading. My older son can pick out the letters and some common words, which he finds encouraging.
As your kids get older it becomes even more important that the books they are reading are ones that interest them and isn't at a too difficult reading level. There is no point in forcing a book about horses onto your son who is really into detectives. Find a good mystery book instead.
Once you've opened the mystery of reading with your children you've unlocked a lifelong treasure.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Monday Mama Musings

I was inspired while shopping at Wal-Mart of all places to try something new here at Clever Mamas. Monday Mama Musings is to present an idea raised in parenting and a poll to go along with it. Comments and feedback are always welcome to go along with it of course.

Here's today's situation:

While stolling through the aisles of Wal-Mart this morning, my attention was caught by a screaming child. Not a temper tantrum. Just a child screaming as loud as he could. Annoying yes, but manageable. The reaction of the parent is what really concerned me. The parent shouted at the child to "shut up you stupid f***ing brat, or you're not getting any fries for lunch". What do you do in a situation like that? Do you keep walking, pretending to have heard nothing? Do you give the parent 'the look' as you go by? Do you speak up? Or, something else entirely?

What do you do?

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Allowance S.O.S.

Allowance is one of the most misunderstood aspects of child rearing. You'll find very definite opinions either way. I have become a great believer in allowance starting at a young age. My oldest gets an allowance. We started this past year (he was 4) and we've had some great success with it. My rationale for giving my child an allowance was to teach him the value of money and how to manage it. The formula we use is called S.O.S. I don't take credit for this by any means, it is one my mom passed on to me that a friend of hers passed on to her.
S.O.S. stands for Save, Others, Spend.

The rate of allowance is equal to the age of the child. For example, my 5 year old gets 5 dollars each week. I know that sounds like a lot at first, but it has actually ended up saving us money.

He has to save a portion in his bank account ($2.50). This money is used for things that come up during the year such as birthday presents for his friends and family.
The others part comes in as how we think of others in charity. He used 10% towards this or 50 cents. He puts that money into his Sunday school collection each week. The Sunday school sponsors a child in Peru and he knows who this boy is by the picture and information he's learned at Sunday school.

The remaining $2 is his own personal spending money. When he first started to get allowance he went nuts with this, wanting to spend it right away at the dollar store. He quickly learned that dollar store things break fast. He also learned that the really big, wonderful toys and treats cost a lot more money. He voluntarily asked if he could put his spending money in the bank with his savings. He is saving for a big toy fire station and is pretty close to buying it now.

Along with his allowance we keep an allowance chart on the fridge. There are certain jobs that he has to complete daily and weekly in order to get his full allowance. He receives deductions for jobs not completed. He can make these up by doing jobs considered bonus. His daily jobs include: making his bed, putting his laundry in the basket, setting the table, cleaning up any toy messes he makes (without a fuss). His weekly jobs include, putting away his clean laundry, helping with dusting and helping me clean the bathroom. Any other jobs are considered bonuses. You can tailor the jobs as you consider the age and ability of your own child.

We've found this ends up saving us money as mom and dad are not the money tree. He knows not to ask us for toys or other treats when we are out as our response is always the same, "that's why you have an allowance, do you want to use it for that?". Sometimes the answer is yes, and sometimes no (he really, really wants that fire station). It also saves us every time he gets an invitation to a birthday party. He comes and does the shopping for his friend. It works really well. Most importantly it is giving him lessons in money at a young age. He's already developing a relationship with a bank (so it won't be such a scary adult thing when he is older), and he's learning how to budget (something we can all use a lesson in).

Monday, July 13, 2009

Opting Out of Spoiling

My husband and I struggle a lot with spoiling our kids. We have watched this toy pile grow and grow in the past 5 years and really don't want our kids to have the mentality that this world owes them something. It's difficult. We have lots of friends and family that buy them things. We know that every year, twice a year they will get stuff.
So how do you control it?
Good question. One we've been asking ourselves for a long time.
There are little things you can do. They may not seem like much, but I think they add up.
1. Don't get the toys at fast food places. I know what you are thinking. That sound rediculous. But think about how often you eat there and how many little toys you get and how often your kids actually play with them. Hmmmm. Now I don't sound so far fetched. We started opting out of fast food toys from an early age with our boys. They simply don't get them. It's not an option. There are ways to handle this. First, some restaurants offer options. McDonald's has the option of cookies instead of a toy. Most places I will order one adult meal of chicken nuggets and fries with a chocolate milk and split it between my two kids. Really, they are just happy to be eating where there is a play place. Sure, sometimes my oldest asks for a toy, but the response he gets is that if he wants to buy one, he can use his allowance for it. He's bought 2 toys for himself in the past year. It's a whole new ballgame when they have to spend their own money.
2. Start giving your children an allowance. Kids need to learn the value of money at a young age. If they want it, let them buy it, but you don't. This really changes the way they view things.
3. Be honest with what your kids need. Every time a birthday comes around inevitably some of my friends will ask what they can get my kids for their birthdays. So think, what would they really like and enjoy that isn't spoiling them? My boys have gotten beach towels, science experiments, college savings, and some pretty cool hats/clothes this way.
4. Teach your kids about the needs of others. Then do something about it. My oldest had a whole different perspective of what he has when we involved him in filling shoeboxes for Samaritan's Purse, shopping on the FHI catelogue and bringing food down to the local food bank.
5. Start saying 'no' to your kids and mean it. Sure they can still have the occassional treat. But a treat is just that, a treat. We began to realise that we were treating our boys so often it wasn't a treat anymore, it was an expectation. There is a difference.
These are just 5 little things that can make a big difference for your child. I'm sure you all have some more wonderful ideas. Let me know how you opt out of spoiling your kids in the comments so we can share them!



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