Monthly Archives: June 2013

10 Entertaining (and Quiet) Activities for Your Toddler When You Have a Headache

So today I have a headache. It’s been one of those days where I wish there were two of me or my husband could just call into work and say he was staying home for the day. I want to lie out on the couch, cover my head in blankets and take a nap. But wait, I’m a mom to a toddler and a 3.5 month old needing attention and entertainment. Well, the baby isn’t any trouble, at least he’s immobile and usually sleeps most of the day anyway, but the toddler is a different story.

So you need a few moments of peace and quiet? A rarity and luxury indeed. However, I have compiled a list of 10 activities bound to entertain those young, budding minds and (hopefully) keep them quiet long enough for momma or daddy to get some peace.

1.  Water Play: Little Man loves this! All I do is set out a towel on the floor and get out my large bread bowl (the biggest bowl I have used to make bread). I fill it with warm soapy water and tell him to get his dinkies and toys that need a wash. Give him a cloth, brush, spray bottle, cups, or whatever he needs and he can be there for hours scrubbing, splashing and “cleaning.” Kill two birds with one stone and give him the silverware to polish. waterplay02

2. Outside Pool Fun: Yesterday Little Man invited a friend over to play in his kiddie pool. We filled it with warm water and even put his small slide in and used the water hose to create a water slide. Albeit a little noisy, the two boys stayed in the pool for hours playing with toys, boats and bubbles.  Maybe with just one toddler it won’t be as loud.

3. Play Doh: Children love shaping and molding with Play Doh or clay. Just set out a place at the table, give them a few cookie cutters, rollers, plastic cutlery even stamps and sit back while they put their creative little minds to work. It keeps my Little Man seated for long extended periods which can miraculous some days.

4. Painting: Last week Little Man was given all of his Sunday School pages and worksheets to bring home as it was the last session before summer break. These pages clearly showed how enthusiastic he is about coloring as seen here:

Crayons, crayons, crayons PAINT!
Crayons, crayons, crayons PAINT!

Alas, Little Man did not turn out like his mother who spent hours and hours in coloring books. In fact, he has accrued many coloring books over his less than 3 year stint on this earth that remain colorless. But, give him a paintbrush and some paint and you barely know he’s in the room! It’s funny to watch his face in intense concentration.

painting IMG_0172

The little art easel was $2 from Dollarama and the wooden car was given to him from a relative but can probably be found at most craft stores.

4. Lego/Blocks: Not much to discuss here. Lego has been keeping parents sane for decades and its continuing popularity just goes to show how much the kids like it as well. Building towers, cars, space stations, spectacular castles, intergalactic robots and so forth is timeless and will keep just about any overactive toddler captivated for hours.

5. Discovery Bucket: Inside or outside, this activity is intriguing and fun. Give your child a bucket and tell them to hunt for new discoveries and see what they find. I love it when Little man comes back with “special” rocks and twigs. Just make sure your child is safely in your sight or safely inside the protection of your backyard fence. One day, as a variation to the bucket, Little Man decided to go “shopping” and picked up several smart finds in his shopping bag. This gave me just enough time to finish a coffee and have a rest before he wanted to show me all of his wonderful “purchases.”

6. Puzzles: Do your toddler love jigsaw puzzles? Set out a variety of scenes for them to play with depending on their level of difficulty and their personal ability. The key to this quiet pastime is their concentration on the task promoting strategy and problem solving skills.

7. Empty Tub Art: A safe and fun way to keep your child entertained and to give them the thrill of getting messy. No need for clothes for this one, put your child in an empty tub and hand over the washable markers, tub crayons or colored soap and give them time to create their masterpiece. Once you’ve relaxed a little or your child decides they are finished, simply turn on the shower or run the bath and wash child and tub at the same time.

8. Buttons and Beads: As a little girl I remember going to my grandmother’s and spending the majority of my stay going through her button box and stringing them into “fancy jewellery.” A large plastic darning needle and some thread or yarn were my tools to craft my beautiful, unique creations which I would wear with pride until I would dismantle them to use for my next visit. Some buttons can be small and dangerous for toddlers but any larger buttons and beads that you deem safe can be put to use. Instead of a needle, tape one end of the string or yarn to make it rigid enough to string on the beads. This is not only fun for your child but it is tactile, visual, teaches young minds about patterns and colors and develops fine motor skills.

9. I Spy: This classic game keeps you involved in your child’s play and its ability to tune down an otherwise noisy household should not be taken lightly. Oh the power of a little thinking mind.

10. Paper and Glue Crafts: Kids love to use their hands and get messy. If you don’t mind cleaning up a little mess while you relax your weary head, set your child up with different sizes and colors of paper and a glue stick. I usually put down plastic place mats and tape my unread flyers over them to protect my table and for easy cleanup. Throw in some different pieces of yarn, stickers, whatever they can stick with glue and see what inspires them. You may even want to provide an art canvas or piece of cardboard or cardstock to frame when they are finish.

Hopefully some of these activities will help you entertain your toddler while you nurse that headache or get a few peaceful, quiet moments to yourself. You may feel like Supermom on some days but even Superman isn’t indestructible; we need time to rest and recover. Good luck, and have fun.

-Kathryn

Nightmares and Terrors-How Little Minds Work

At some point in the night, Little Man padded down the hallway, into our room and crawled into bed with us. We don’t mind, it happens a few times a week and sometimes he doesn’t even wake us up (until I get a foot in the face or realize all the covers have mysterious been kicked off). However, around 5 am I heard him cry out and start mumbling in his sleep. Soon, he was wailing such a woeful, heart-breaking cry that both my husband and I couldn’t ignore. He seemed a bit panicked and frightened. We tried talking to him, consoling him and tried waking him up. We knew he was dreaming and all we could do was hold him close and let him know we were near. He calmed down a little bit but by 6:30 am his sobs had overwhelmed his sleep. Big heavy sighs intruding on an otherwise peaceful scene. Nightmares and night terrors As a parent, it is an awful feeling of helplessness when trying  to soothe a little mind from and bad dreams.

At 2 and a 1/2 years old Little Man has already experienced a share of dreams both good and bad. We probably started noticing this at maybe a year old and there is nothing more terrifying than holding a screaming child and not being able to do a thing for them. However, we have realized that it isn’t only nightmares that we have to deal with but night terrors as well. Night terrors and nightmares differ in the fact that occur at different stages of sleep; terrors occur in a deep sleep while nightmares happen during REM sleep. Because of this, it is quite difficult to wake a child from a night terror and most research would discourage it for fear the child would become more agitated and confused. The night terrors that Little Man experienced have caused him to become extremely agitated: screaming, thrashing about, and incontrollable crying. You can’t hold him, can’t wake him, you feel helpless. Research suggests that night terrors are caused by “an over-arousal of the central nervous system” and brought on by stress, lack of sleep, or exposure to a new environment (Kids Health). What parents, like myself, should do is to educate themselves on the issue and the differences between terrors and nightmares and do the best that they can to reduce the stress and stimulation that may occur in their child especially before bedtime.

Nightmares also differ from night terrors in the fact that most children will remember what has happened during a dream but not during a terror. Dreams in children can usually be connected with something that they have recently seen or learned. It is only now that Little Man is old enough that he can tell us about his dreams and we can link it back to something he may have watched on TV, or something he saw or experienced during the day. Recently, after being asleep for about a half an hour, he came to the bedroom door calling out. I saw that he was clearly bothered when he said “Mom, you’re sinking.” “I’m sinking? Or do you mean singing?” thinking he may have woke to music. “No, sinking. You were in the water and going down the drain, in the hole, and into a garbage can.” Wow I thought, what goes through his head at night! Poor thing! He then went on to say “I have good dreams and I have bad dreams” “And what kind of dream is this one” I asked. “A bad one” he replied. He then went on mumbling in his sleepiness something about a ladder and mommy in the water again and couldn’t get out. I then went on to thinking about the events of earlier that day. I had been cleaning the drain on the bathroom sink and it was a disgusting and eventful job. As I expressed my disgust, he must have made the connection that my issue with the sink was a negative thing and expressed it in his memory as something bad.

Although I may not be able to be Super Mom and shield my children from all triggers that may cause night terrors and bad dreams, I have read and experienced a few tips that may help thwart off the looming doom.

1. Reduce stress and over-stimulation before bedtime. That means create an environment to help ease your child into sleep. For example: turn off the TV at a reasonable time, dim the lights, play calming music and run a soothing bath to relax overworked muscles and mind.

2. Be aware of your child’s visual intake. Sometimes we take for granted that kid shows are tailored specifically for all children as in ‘one size fits all’. However, some children are more sensitive to some subjects than others. Take the time to watch the shows with your child to get a sense of what that perfect, precious little brain that you helped create is absorbing. You may feel the need to rule out some shows until you feel your child has mentally matured. Also consider the amount of time that your child may spend watching TV or on the computer and how much visual stimulation is happening. It may actually be too much for the little mind to handle and causing extra-stress and information overload.

3. Create a routine that is comforting and calming. Children don’t realize how integral structure and routine can be in their lives and sometimes parents can forget too. A routine helps a child feel comfortable and at ease. It could be as easy as a bath, 3 favourite books and a certain song before bed. Little Man loves books and shadow puppets. When this routine is carried over to what may be a different environment, a night time stay at nanny’s perhaps or during family vacation in a new bed, it can really create peaceful surroundings ready for sweet dreams.

4. Make sure your child is getting enough sleep. Sometimes, not getting enough sleep causes a restless and interrupted sleep. Ensure that bed times are followed and if your child needs a nap in the day that they get a significant one without feeling groggy or still tired when they wake. It may even be a simple fix such as new darkening curtains for the bedroom so your child doesn’t wake with the sun, especially on summer mornings.

5. Prayer and understanding. Little Man is old enough to know that he has bad dreams and he sometimes remembers what they were. We talk about the issue and explain that he doesn’t have to be afraid. We even include it in bedtime prayer. After we have asked God to bless all the nannies, poppies, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandnans, and friends, we then ask God to help him to be a good boy and “to do the things I should” then we ask “help me not to be afraid and to have bad dreams. Because ‘God doesn’t give us the spirit of fear but of love, power, and a sound mind‘ (2 Timothy 1:7)”

I hope some of that may help those out there dealing with the same thing we are. I wouldn’t wish it on any parent but unfortunately, it’s just a part of life. If there are any other life experiences dealing with night terrors and nightmares and you have any suggestions, please feel free to comment or send me a message.

Thanks.

-Kathryn

Parenting with Whims and YoYos

How many times has it been said that when parenting you need to “pick your battles?” I too am guilty of this phrase but what I have come to realize is that parenting is not a vehement war that we are fighting. Being a parent is a blessing and often times it is treated and spoke about as if it’s a burden. It is definitely a challenge, but I know most of you mommas and daddies wouldn’t change it for the world. Being a noobie at parenting, I have already faced a few challenges, whether it be an overtired toddler refusing bedtime, teething woes, or mealtime persuasion. What I understand/experienced thus far is that ‘spur of the moment’ methods of parenting and quick decisions are often times not the best thing for a child. When faced with a challenge that we want to clear up quickly (especially if your child is frantically crying in the middle of Wal-Mart) we often try to correct the issue by whim. Usually this results in bribery: “Stop crying, and if you’re good, you can get a treat.” Or sometimes we set rules and guidelines for our children but when these rules and guidelines don’t suit our own needs or desires at the present situation, they are quickly bent. Back and forth, back and forth; “Absolutely no T.V. after 8:30, he needs the time wind down for bed” Next night: “He can stay up and watch a movie with us tonight he’ll probably crash anyways.”

Parenting with whims and yoyos are actually training children not to be the well-behaved model citizens that we would wish for them to be. It tells them that if they cry or misbehave enough they can get that treat just to make them quiet. Bending rules to suit your situation simply confuses a child but ultimately tells them that if they play their cards right, they can easily push over mom and dad to get what they want. Children can be masters of manipulation, wrapping mom and dad around their little finger. Is that how parenting is supposed to be?

Children need structure, guidance, and a whole lot of love. Sometimes these “challenges” are actually not challenges at all but merely inconvenience to our own selves. Here’s one of my personal “challenges” that I faced with my 2 year old Little Man: We were are Wal-Mart shortly after lunchtime picking up a few items and, of course, we needed to stop by the toy isle. I had just about enough of shopping; it was busy, carts were crashing into another, people were standing up blocking isles just to have a chat with someone they haven’t seen since breakfast, typical Wal-Mart on cheque day. I was pregnant, hungry, my feet and back were aching and I knew Little Man was getting tired. Suddenly he seen a helicopter toy as I was trying to make a beeline for the registers. I really just wanted to get home, so I kept going. Of course, he began to cry and asked to go to look at it. But I kept going. He was clearly upset and people began to look and I heard that oh so predictable and annoying, “Oh, someone’s not happy”. That’s when mommy defense kicks in and you just want to assure everyone “Oh, he’s tired. It’s nap time.” But instead, I stopped and thought about it. We’re not in a rush, we don’t have any deadlines or on a time crunch. What would really stop his crying is if I just turn the cart around and go back just to look at the helicopter toy. That’s what we did. Actually, as soon as I turned the cart around and said “Ok, show me what you want to see” Little Man was his happy little self again. He looked at the toy, pressed a few buttons, I took a moment to breathe and relax, and then he put the toy helicopter back on the shelf and said “I’m done.” That was it, crisis averted.

So when you are faced with one of these parenting dilemmas, take a moment and ask yourself, “Is this really a challenge?” and “how do I address this situation without waning on my own set structure.” Try to avoid the whims and yoyos. Remember, you are the parent and you are training up a child to be the best that they can be. You love your child and want the best for them and not the best for their situation. Battles, wars and Masters of manipulation should have no place in your home.

-Cheers

And So It Begins…Post Baby Hair loss

Bambino is 3 months old today and the past few days I have notice a dramatic change in my hair. Most mommas experience the postpartum hair loss usually occurring around the age of 3-6 months of age. This weird (scary, traumatic, frightening) experience is also known as telogen effluvium. While it’s completely normal and you shouldn’t panic, the first time you go through it may cause you to do some psychological readjusting.

When Little man was about 3 months I notice my hair was falling out. No worries. I read the articles and books, I know what’s going on, I’m prepared for this. I have enough hair that I can afford to lose some. Yes, this is what I told myself, but I was nowhere near prepared for clumps of hair that would entangle my fingers in the shower or the thin, limp tresses that I desperately tried to give life to every day. I was/am known for my thick red hair and I suddenly felt like a major part of me was being stripped away and I was literally watching it go down the drain. Hair can be a source of identity or security and when one starts to lose it, it affects them psychologically. Some people may laugh and just say “It’s only hair” but I must say, my heart certainly goes out to those with cancer undergoing treatments causing hair loss.

Anyways, I have been doing some reading and a bit of research and thinking on my own and I have come up with a few options and helpful tips to help those mommas go through the Postpartum Hair Loss.

1. Keep taking your vitamins. It may not stop  your hair from falling out, that’s due to changing estrogen levels, but it does help the new hair that does grown in to be healthy and strong. Vitamins and supplements such as folic acid, biotin (B6), E, and silica help regenerate blood cells, stimulates hair growth and replaces old tissue cells with new ones. Wouldn’t hurt to take a multivitamin containing a few of these essentials every day.

2. If you have long hair, you may want to opt for a shorter hairstyle. Shorter hair strands are less noticeable than the long ones hanging about everywhere.

3. Don’t strangle your locks, especially at night, wearing your ponytail too tight may just pull and break already weak strands. Wearing your hair up at night also causes friction and pulling. Not only will it pull at the precious hairs on your head, it may cause some unwanted breakage mid shaft. Try looser hairstyles if you must put your hair back like loose braids (totally on trend right now), half up or a simple bun.

4. Stop playing with your hair! How many times do I catch myself running my fingers through my hair ( at least 4 or 5 times while writing this post). The more you play, the more hair will end up in your hands and all around you. Just don’t. It will freak you out.

5. Oh, the dreaded shower. This is where I notice most of the hair. I always use a wide-tooth comb to comb my wet hair in the shower which may just help capture some of the runaways. Don’t shampoo vigorously, be gentle. Same goes for when you get out and start to dry your hair. Maybe air dry instead of using the rough, friction-causing towel. I’ll also suggest a drain catcher as well; you don’t want to cause further hair related problems.

6. If you are really upset about the loss of body and bounce, experiment with some products. There are so many on the market now to help with thickening and added volume that it may be just what you need during this transition. If you rarely use product like myself and wouldn’t really know what would work best for your hair type, you can always ask your hairstylist. They’re properly trained for stuff like this.

Ok, so those are my thoughts. But you can also find some interesting reads regarding hair loss like what foods to eat for healthier stronger hair, or just simply how to deal with the issue.

Hope that helps some of you.

Cheers,

-K