Playing with kids can be boring

Am I the only one who sometimes gets bored playing with my kids? Are you also starting to panic and looking for ways to make play more enjoyable before the kids grow out of it?

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Mommy will you play with me? I hear this multiple times a day. But, the truth of the matter is that playing with my boys can sometimes be a little bit mind numbing.

Don’t get me wrong – I love certain types of structured play that are at least somewhat stimulating to my adult brain, like hide and go seek, building legos, board games, crafts, reading, etc. But I only have a limited attention span for other types of play, such as pretending I’m a monster on the attack, pretending my son is a dog, digging in the dirt, making magical potions out of water and dirt, or anything having to do with Star Wars or ninjas – enough already!

So sometimes I opt out of play. Sometimes I blame it on chores. “Sorry, Mommy has to do the dishes.” Other times I blame it on fatigue. “Sorry, Mommy needs a few minutes to relax.” Let’s face it, some days after a long day of work, I just want to sit down for a few minutes with my mommy juice du jour. Often I promise we’ll play more later. But, later doesn’t always come and the mom guilt has started to creep in.

I was starting to worry that something was really wrong with me. Because I know that interaction with our children is so important, I was feeling like I “should” be taking every opportunity to engage, particularly in something that “should” be fun like play. I was also thinking that everyone else was doing a much better job at happily playing pretend for hours on end. But, it turns out I’m not the only one struggling with play time boredom and it is just another in the growing list of parenting secrets that no one tells you about. In fact, some parents refuse to play with their children entirely and some psychologists have warned that we risk stifling the development of our children by getting down and playing with them. I had no idea!

So, to all you parents out there…play or don’t play…likely you’re rocking parenthood regardless.  But, for all you parents who, like me, are starting to panic and looking for ways to make play more enjoyable before our kids grow out of it…there are many resources out there. Just google, “playing with kids boring” and you will see. One helpful resource I stumbled upon at our Library is the book Run Wild! Outdoor Games and Adventures by Jo Schofield and Fiona Danks. For those of you seeking ways to “have fun outdoors, anywhere, any time, whatever the weather”, their book and website is for you (www.goingwild.net). There are flour grenades, camouflage games, games with rocks, bubble games, clay and twig creatures and more. What I like most about this book is that the activities provide a joint opportunity for me to use my adult brain and creative side (like the face painting and making camouflage shields in the photo) and for the kids to use their imaginative side.

Organized sports for kids. To do or not to do – that is the question?

There’s a whole lot not to like about this new dimension of motherhood – organized sports.

As my 2 boys are entering the elementary school years, I am embarking upon a whole new dimension of motherhood – organized sports.

Some would say organized sports suck and refuse to let their kids participate (http://www.scarymommy.com/organized-sports-suck/  http://www.scarymommy.com/no-organized-sports-my-family). I get it – there’s a lot not to like. There’s the weeknight and weekend practices that we have to wake up early for or that mess with our dinner and bedtime routines. There’s the drama when the kids don’t want to go. There’s the rushing around and the extra laundry. Then there’s the fundraisers – no one really wants to guilt their family into purchasing overpriced wrapping paper or enormous bins of popcorn that they don’t need. And let’s face it, not everybody’s kid is going to be an Olympian caliber athlete.

But organized sports do have their physical, emotional and interpersonal benefits – teamwork, boosting physical activity, motor development, fun, friendship, and sportsmanship (http://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=organized-sports-for-kids-1-4556)

My husband both enjoyed participating in organized sports during our school years and remain athletic. So, we fully support organized sports participation. The question for us is not whether or not to do them, but rather which ones and what are the tricks to the lifestyle? Our 6-year-old is playing baseball this year and so far it has been pretty manageable. Our 4-year-old likes to come watch his big brother play and play on the inevitable school playground. But, I’m getting a glimpse of the long road ahead of even more scrambling and life on-the-go. As our parents did and their parents before, we also have a new appreciation of the sacrifices our own parents made to support our participation in organized sports. Once again – thanks mom and dad!

Do your kids play organized sports? Which ones? What are some tips for managing the hectic mornings and evenings?

Got a bored kid? Printable and fun learning activities can entertain and educate for hours.

Online resources for boredom-buster fun and educational printable activities!

At one time or another, we all find ourselves in search of boredom-buster indoor activities to keep our kids from driving us crazy! Sure, playing outside is always our first choice for fun. But, when you are stuck indoors and your kids are bored of all the usual games and activities, it can be tough to come up with new activities to keep kids entertained.

Would some awesome online resources help? To help keep kids happy for hours, there are lots of online resources for parents to easily access literally thousands of fun learning activities of all shapes and sizes for kids to do at home! Printable mazes, hidden pictures, connect the dots, color by numbers, as well as some seasonal printables are available that can help your kids with counting, math, writing, and problem solving skills while still having a great time! No matter what your child is interested in, you will be able to find something fun!

Tight budget? No problem – many of these online resources have free and very low-cost subscription options available.

This photo shows my 4-year-old enjoying a seasonal maze from Education.com. Education.com is my go-to for fun learning resources. They have a variety of worksheets, games, workbooks, activities, science projects, songs, stories and exercises for ages 2-11. I encourage you to share the love this Valentine’s Day with this puppy love maze. Be sure to check out Education.com for more fun learning activities.

Happy February – the month of LOVE!

Butting heads with your child can be frustrating and heartbreaking.

One-on-one fun can reconnect you and your child when you’ve been butting heads!

This guy and I have been butting heads lately. It’s like clash of the titans around here. A couple of his more challenging traits are his stubbornness and his petulance.

I fully realize that some of his related behavior is very age-appropriate AND that he got these very traits from me! Likely one of the main reasons I butt heads more with this guy than my other, is because he is the most like me! Well played karma.

But, as a result, I sometimes feel disconnected to him, which can be heartbreaking.

Yesterday, though, I got some good quality one-on-one time with him. We did Star Wars Lego together, which are two are of his most favorite things right now. Look at that laser-focused concentration! Legos are so good for cognitive and motor skill development! I think that one-on-one time really helped rebuild our connection a bit. This reminded me that I need to make a point of more regularly reconnecting one-on-one with each of my boys – including my husband!

✨3D Paper Snowflake ❄️ in 6 easy steps✨

3D paper snowflakes ❄️ are easy to make and your kids can help!

I love doing arts and crafts with my boys. It is a creative outlet for me and a great way to have fun with our kids. Arts and crafts can be a great cure for cabin fever – especially during the colder, wetter and darker months when outside time is limited. There are many child development benefits to doing arts and crafts as well, including encouragement of listening and motor skills and providing a sense of accomplishment, which can boost our children’s confidence and self-esteem!

I have always admired these fabulous 3D paper snowflakes I’ve seen in businesses’ amazing window displays and from ceilings. They are beautiful year-round! But, I always thought that making these snowflakes was well beyond my skill level. I had no idea how easy 3D snowflakes are to make! All you need is 6 square pieces of paper, tape, scissors, and a stapler! And your kids can help! You can use any type of paper you have around the house. I chose to use decorative wrapping paper to give it a little bling!

Step 1 – Folding: Start with one of your squares. Orient your square paper with a point toward you. Fold the bottom point up to the top point, making a triangle. Then, fold the left point to the right point, making a smaller triangle. You will now have a right-angled triangle with the right-angle at the bottom left.

Step 2 – Cutting: Hold on folks here comes a blast from your high school geometry past! This is the hardest part of this project. Keeping your triangle in the same position, you are now going to cut 3 diagonal slits parallel to the hypotenuse side, from the bottom edge (‘adjacent side’) to the left edge (‘opposite side’).

Step 3 – Opening and taping: Now open your triangle back into a square. Starting from the inside cut bend the two points toward each other and tape. Now turn your square over and repeat with the next two cuts. Turn over again and repeat the folding and taping with the third cut points. And finish with the outermost set of cut points. Congratulations, you now have the first of your 6 snowflake arms.

Step 4 – Repeat steps 1-3 with your other 5 squares.

Step 5 – Stapling: Now that you have all six arms of your snowflake it is time to connect them together. First staple the points of two of your snowflake arms. Also staple them at the middle, where their outermost taped pieces that form a cross are touching. Repeat this process with the remaining 4 arms until the snowflake is fully assembled. Voila! You now have your own beautiful 3D snowflake!

Step 6 – Hanging: I have hung them different ways depending on the location. I have threaded a needle with clear thread through one of the points and just tied a knot of varying lengths depending on the hanging location. I’ve also just stuck a Christmas ornament hook through one of the points.

For great visuals for each step, I recommend http://www.instructables.com/id/3D-Paper-Snowflake-In-Four-Easy-Steps/. Enjoy – we’d love to see the pictures of your 3D snowflakes!

Thanksgiving traditions and failures: What goes around comes around.

Nostalgia for childhood traditions and some epic fails are part and parcel of our Thanksgiving experiences!

The BIG day is almost here! Whether you are hosting or traveling, likely many of us are spending these last few days bustling around finishing up all the last minute details.

When I was growing up, our family tradition was to travel to my paternal grandmother’s house and gather with my dad’s side of the family. We had a traditional early afternoon meal of turkey, stuffing, potatoes, cranberries, rolls and pie. We dressed up, documented our gathering in an extensive family photo session, made turkey carcass noodle soup, and shopped black Friday sales. I have some very fond memories of these gatherings, particularly during my younger years! For example, one year my parents let me get my ears pierced with my older cousins! But, as I grew older, into my late teens and early twenties – when many of us want to start spreading our wings and forging our own new traditions – I started to resent my obligatory Thanksgiving gatherings. However, now that I have kids of my own, some of our beloved family members have passed, and we are living away from my extended family and no longer gather, I can better appreciate and am nostalgic for my family traditions. What goes around comes around…

Our Thanksgiving of today is a nice mix of old and new traditions. We start the day with an indulgent breakfast of our kids’ choosing. I introduced them to Monkey Bread a few years ago – which is an old tradition from my childhood – and this has been a hit ever since. For all you virgins out there, Monkey Bread is a heavenly cinnamon and sugar gooey pull-apart treat made with refrigerated biscuits, butter, cinnamon, granulated sugar and brown sugar. It is not for the faint of heart! As I’ve never been a huge fan of turkey, we generally have ham, deviled eggs, au gratin potatoes and asparagus. For the sake of convenience, we buy a pre-cooked ham and warm it in an electric roaster. We have enough leftovers for sandwiches, omelets and mac-and-cheese. I do miss the stuffing and turkey carcass noodle soup though! We typically eat later in the day and make a point to get out into nature to enjoy fresh air and burn off some calories.

Our biggest Thanksgiving failure happened on a rare occasion when my brother’s family did travel far to gather with us. A few hours after putting the ham in the oven, I realized I hadn’t yet started to smell its sweet and smoky aroma. Turns out this was because we had failed to turn the oven on when we put the Thanksgiving ham in! Needless to say, our Thanksgiving dinner was a little later than planned that year!

Whatever Thanksgiving Day holds for you, we wish you much joy and happiness! Although Thanksgiving can be a wonderful time of gathering with friends and/or family to indulge in tradition, thankfulness and a gluttonous feast, it can also be overwhelming and exhausting. To all you moms out there, although it may seem impossible, hopefully you can take a little time out for yourself over the next few days to recharge. May I suggest hiding in the bathroom for a few minutes? If our husbands can get away with it so can we! We’d love to hear about if and how your childhood Thanksgiving traditions have come back around and about any of your funny failures!

Epic Santa Fail – ho-ho-horror!

Photos with Santa can be a symbol of all the JOY and MAGIC of Christmas.🎄🎅 But some kids find Santa to be downright freaky! Do you do Santa pictures? If so, what has your experience been?

Thanksgiving is this week. In addition to gathering with friends and family to give THANKS and stuff ourselves into a food coma, this means it is Christmas card go-time!

Pre-kid, my MO was to shop the after Christmas sales at Target for the perfect printed cards. Post-kid, I wholeheartedly jumped on the photo card bandwagon. I have used Costco, Walmart, and a few times have splurged on Shutterfly and Tiny Prints. I have been happy with them all! But my all-time favorite has been the tri-fold card from Shutterfly (and this is not a sponsored post). The tri-fold card was certainly the most expensive. But, it can be fun to splurge sometimes and Shutterfly always runs 40-50% off specials this time of the year. Here is a link to an example of a tri-fold card: https://www.shutterfly.com/cards-stationery/christmas-cards/merry-burlap-snowflake-christmas-card-5×7-trifold?productCode=1220288&categoryCode=93476&skuCode=1220289&cid=SEGSH.CARDS&mpch=ads&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIxYzJ-ofQ1wIVF8pkCh0q5gX6EAYYAiABEgJ0hPD_BwE

For the images, on one side I usually like to have some family photos from throughout the year and on the other side, some Christmas photos. The pièce de résistance of our Christmas themed side is the requisite Santa photo. Our first Santa experience with my then 10-month son went well. He was good-natured and full of wonderment about the jolly old fellow. So, I was pumped 12 months later when we then had a 22-month old and a 1-month old. I couldn’t wait to capture a photo of my two little angels with Santa as a symbol of all the JOY and MAGIC that Christmas was sure to bring. How cute was that going to be!?!

Turns out not so much! To our 22-month old, jolly old Santa was downright freaky! The photographer got off one shot of our boys before my 22-month old evacuated the scene in ho-ho-horror. All the while, our 1-month-old slept through the whole thing. Part of me was fearful that in my effort to get the “perfect” Christmas card, I had scarred my 22-month-old for life! The other part was disappointed that I wasn’t going to have the “perfect” Christmas card.

A fear of Santa is normal among children my son’s age at that time. Who could blame them? To some kids, Santa isn’t a symbol of joy, but just a fat, bearded scary stranger.

So, what did I do about my Christmas card? I decided to stay real and go with it. I think many parents could relate with our authentic experience. It may not have been “perfection”, but it was “real”. As most kids do, our son got over his fear of Santa by the next year. And we always cherish our ho-ho-horror photo!

Do you do Christmas cards? If so, what is your strategy? How have your kids reacted to Santa?