4 Ways to Teach Your Kids to Calm Themselves Down

4 Ways to Teach Your Kids to Calm Themselves Down

4 Ways to Teach Your Kids to Calm Themselves Down

When one of my girls gets upset, she gets UPSET. I mean, it’s really intense. It’s like all the angst of a troubled teen have been crammed into 42 pounds of raw emotion.

She sobs. She screams. The veins in her neck bulge like she’s trying to lift a car. And her whole body shakes as she tries to contain the intensity of all that she feels.

Everyone knows that you can’t reason with someone when they are completely out of their mind (though we try anyways). So my natural, motherly response was be to try and help her calm down. So what would I do?

Two things:

  1. Instruct her to “calm down” (which is about as effective as telling her to do jumping jacks)
  2. Try and get her to breathe deeply, to which she would promptly respond by hyperventilating.

Yeah, they didn’t work.

But in my failure, I knew that if I could just get her her to breathe deeply then she could start to calm and reason. Filling her lungs with air would send oxygen to her brain making it function better so she could start to think more clearly.

Basically, it would take her out of her fight-or-flight mode and help her to start reasoning.

End meltdowns and teach your kids to calm themselves down with these simple and fun techniques.

Deep breathing is my jam.

Its literally how I get through days of raising 4 small kids while balancing work (and countless other stresses moms face) without completely losing my mind. Seriously, I owe my sanity to deep breathing.

So I just knew that if I could figure out how to teach her to take deep cleansing breaths, we could have less raging and more “Kumbaya”.

But I was at a complete loss. Trying to get her to breathe deeply by modeling and coaching her only made her more upset. She would take quick shallow breaths until she would basically hyperventilate. 

I needed a kid-specific approach to teaching deep breathing. 

Which is why I was beyond thrilled when I learned these 4 strategies in a Conscious Discipline parenting class (which I’m obsessed with, btw). It was like the heavens opened. They were just what I was looking for.

And they made all the difference.

No more hyperventilating. Shorter meltdowns. More control. It’s been awesome. I’ve taught all my older kids.

But here’s why I especially love them: it is giving my girls the tools to self-regulate and handle difficult situations. So whether they are at a friend’s house or at school, they have the tools they need to calm themselves when they are feeling ALL the feelings. 

While I describe them all below, it’s easier to see how they’re done. So I wrangled my older 3 girls and we made a video (below). Mind you, they were soooo over the idea of making a video by the time I actually got them into one place.

And I always feel so goofy when I’m being recorded. Nonetheless, here you go!!!

1) Balloon Breathing

This is my favorite. I actually made one of the college classes I teach do this on a day when everyone was stressed out of their minds (after which one student exclaimed “I actually do feel a lot better!”).

What you do: Link fingers above your head and take a few repeated breaths in filling your lungs, while raising your arms (filling the balloon). Then drop your hands and breathe out mimicking a deflating balloon. 

2) Drain

This is another fun one for kids. It mimics a faucet of running water.

What you do: With straight arms in front of you, and hands clenched in a fist, you tighten up everything. Then you “turn the faucet” and release all the tension as you slowly float your arms down (like water coming down) and do a long shhhhhh breath out. 

3) Pretzel

This one can be a tad tricky, but being tricky it engages the brain and helps it to calm down. Incidentally, it’s also useful for calming your mind when you are lying awake at night with your thoughts racing. 

What you do: With arms twisted, crossed, and palms together, you wrap your arms in to a pretzel. You then cross your legs. Sounds complicated right? Better watch the video 🙂

4) Be a STAR

Okay, I’m actually pretty sure this one is actually my favorite. Because I use it all the time. When my 2 year old chucks the plate of food I just made her at my head (because she can’t just eat ice cream), this is what keeps me from losing it. Before I respond, I first…

  • Stop
  • Take a deep breath
  • And
  • Relax

And then I can deal with the situation without turning in The Hulk.

While it works great for moms, it’s also a helpful strategy for kids!

Give your kids the tools.

Remember, big emotions don’t have to spiral into an entire household of frustration. Instead, we can give our kids the tools to calm themselves down when upset. We can teach them to handle difficult things. So that even when we aren’t with them, they can handle the big emotions that come with being a kid. 

What do you think? Let me know if they work for you!

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The Simple Phrase that Will Teach Kids to Help Others

The Simple Phrase that Will Teach Kids to Help Others

This post may contain some affiliate links for your convenience (which means that, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission)  Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

The Simple Phrase that Will Teach Kids to Help Others

When I see parenting articles advertising miracle cures like“The one phrase that will change everything” I am usually super skeptical. Unless of course that phrase is, “Here is 1 million dollars and a half gallon of ice cream.”

When my 4 kids are all screaming at once, there’s a puddle of pee on my floor, and my house looks like the aftermath of a tornado, no magical phrase is going to save me.

So it’s not without a distinct understanding of the difficulties of motherhood that I claim to have a phrase that will not only teach kids to be more helpful, but also change the mood of your home.

I know, because it’s what happened in our home.

It takes my kids just minutes to turn my house into post-bombing rubble. And the second I would try to get Eleanor and Edie (aged 6 and 5) to help out it would be as though I’d just asked them to saw off their own arms.

Or suddenly their bodies would cease to function. In an instant, they would go from happily playing to lying spread eagle on the floor whimpering and exclaiming that they were simply too tired to put away a toy or hang up a backpack.

Frustrated, I would jut clean it all myself, having taught my children only that enough theatrics will force mom to clean everything anyways.

But then I learned a simple phrase in our incredible Conscious Discipline parenting class (summarized in this AMAZING book). Now, my girls actively look for way to help each other and me.

It was a miracle, pure and simple. You want the magic?

Simple phrase to teach kids to help others

Here’s what you say depending on their actions:

You       (what they did )    , so    (how it helped/impact)   . That was so helpful!

This phrase points out what they did, how it’s been helpful, and it let’s them know that they have made a positive contribution to your home.

For example:

  • You gave your sister a hug after she got hurt so that she would feel better. That was so helpful!”
  • “You brought your dishes to the sink, so mama could wash it. That was so helpful!”
  • “You followed directions without complaining, so we finished quickly and everyone is happy. That was so helpful!”
  • “You put away your toys, so that no one trips on them. Plus, it’s made the room look so nice. That was so helpful!

Simple, right? But it is seriously a game-changer. Here’s why: 

Teach you kids to help out with this simple phrase.

How it helps your child:

  • Shows the child that you are noticing the good they do. It makes them feel good, which makes them want to get noticed more for helpful behavior.
  • Builds self-esteem. This points out the impact of their actions. So they can see the positive impact that they can have on the people and things around them. They see that they can make a big difference.

How it helps you:

  • It gets you noticing good behavior, instead of focusing on bad.

With all the stresses we have, often we find ourselves noticing our children’s poor behavior and completely missing the good that they do. After all, bad behavior is often more effective at getting our attention! You may not notice your children playing nicely together, but the minute conflict arises…

“Don’t bite your sister!”

“Stop hitting!”

“We do not use those words! Apologize right now!”

But pointing out poor behavior doesn’t usually result in children suddenly turning into angels. At least not in my experience.

When it comes to your child’s behavior, what you notice, you get more of.

Notice the bad, get more of it. Notice the good, and your child will work hard to get recognized for the good they are doing.

Think about how you’d react if your husband came home and the first words out of his mouth were critical about the state of the house? All while completely ignoring that you managed to keep everyone alive and put some dinner on the table (we all know this is sometimes a major feat).

Pointing out deficiencies while ignoring the positive doesn’t exactly inspire good feelings. On the other hand, we are encouraged when we hear what we are doing RIGHT.

Kids are the same way.

Keeping your eyes peeled for helpful behavior and then pointing it out to your child will result in your child looking for ways to be helpful.

While you will probably notice an immediate change, long-lasting results will come with consistently using the phrase. Which means consistently noticing good behavior and helping your child see the impact of their actions.

Give it a try

You can teach kids to help others by noticing when they are helpful. Try this phrase out and see what happens in your family. In noticing the good your children do, you will empower them.

You will inspire your kids to look for ways to be helpful, raise their self esteem and make them aware of how they contribute.

You’ve got this, mama!

 

12 Steps to Combat Picky Eating and Create Healthy Mealtime Habits

12 Steps to Combat Picky Eating and Create Healthy Mealtime Habits

This post may contain some affiliate links for your convenience.  Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

 

12 Steps to Combat Picky Eating and Create Healthy Mealtime Habits

We all want to be good moms. Which means feeding our kids nourishing food and helping them have healthy eating habits. Or at least, theoretically that’s how it’s supposed to go down.

The reality is that meal time can be a battle ground of wills. 

This was how meal time went down at our house:

  1. I’d have spent serious time preparing a bunch of delicious food.
  2. I call my family to the table.
  3. My kids devolve into tears and gagging noises, convinced I’m are trying to poison them.
  4. My pride dashed, I turn into Cranky Mommy 

And thus the mealtime battle begins.

Needless to say, I’ve struggled mightily to get my kids to eat healthy foods.

And it seemed like my efforts to get them to eat (e.g. “no dessert until you finish” or “5 more bites”) only seemed to keep the food battles raging.

So I started reading everything that I could and trying stuff out on my kids.

Turns out, all that conventional wisdom (“you have to clear your plate before you leave the table!”) is entirely unhelpful for creating kids with healthy eating habits.

After some great books (this one was my absolute favorite), I found a much better way to tackle the meal-time troubles. As I eliminated the struggle and conflict from our meals, my kids automatically started to be more exploratory with foods and developed healthier habits. 

But I’m not alone in my struggles. 

Picky Eaters Are Everywhere

As many as 50% or kids, at least for a period of time, fall into the category of “picky eater”. As a parent, this is incredibly frustrating. You’re going to great pains in trying to nourish your offspring and instill healthy eating habits while your child wants to just eat fishy crackers and Doritos.

But you can create a healthy home and instill healthy eating habits–even in your pickiest eaters.

Here are 12 tips to help you do just that.

12 Steps to combat picky eating & create healthy mealtime habits

12 Steps to combat picky eating & create healthy mealtime habits

1) Get your husband on the same page.

Nothing will sabotage any new parenting endeavor then being undermined by the other parent. However, I’ve found that this is usually because I didn’t fully inform him of the new strategy I was trying.

Sit down with your partner and determine what kinds of foods you want to be eating and your plan of action. Sending mixed messages to your kids will just communicate that you aren’t serious. 

2) Involve your child

Ask your child what you should make. At the grocery store, have them help you pick out foods. Kids love picking out produce. Have them help you in the kitchen preparing the meal.

This was really helpful in our house. Involving my pickiest eater in the cooking process has not only been fun and bonding, but she’s now much more likely to eat something she helped prepare.

3) Never force kids to eat

Forcing kids to eat just ensures that kids will have negative associates with mealtime and the food you are forcing them to eat.

But taking all the fight, forcing, and negotiating out of your meals will make your child more comfortable and secure. When they’re more comfortable and secure they are more likely to eat the foods you offer.

But I know it’s so hard. When your kid is refusing to eat anything but Skittles, your first inclination is to dig in and win the battle (at least for me). Problem is the more you battle, the more your child resists. Resisting and refusing is how your child exerts control.

Which is why they start refusing foods they used to like!

This was especially true with my second daughter. Even mentioning that I was making dinner, she would start pouting and exclaiming that she didn’t like what I was making.Never mind that she wouldn’t actually know what I was making!

But because we battled and negotiated our way through meals in order to get healthy foods in her body, the mention of dinner geared her up for a fight.

When we changed our strategy (thanks to this amazing book that I highly recommend, It’s Not About the Broccoli), we stopped all forcing and negotiating. Instead, we provided lots of healthy food options and let her pick. At first, she ate a lot of rice. But with the pressure gone, over time my ultra-picky daughter began trying new things.

Ironically, her diet has improved immensely by turning the power over to her.

Forcing kids to eat just ensures that kids will have negative associates with mealtime and the food you are forcing them to eat.

12 Steps to combat picky eating & create healthy mealtime habits

4) Set a good example

Children are much more likely to do what you do and not what you say. Our children are walking testaments to our actions, not our words. This applies to how we eat as well.

I’ve also found that if I am eating anything around my kids, they will want to try some. From salads to smoothies packed with kale, if I’m eating and enjoying something, my kids want a piece of the action. And I’ve been really surprised by what my children will not only try, but end up really liking.  

5) Keep only healthy options around your house

If there aren’t unhealthy options littering your kitchen and pantry, then your child will have little else to beg for in place of the meal they’ve been presented.

For example, I never have juice or soda around the house and I only buy dense whole grain bread. They think white bread is candy. So all sandwiches or toast is made with heavy fiber and nutrient-packed bread. I try to keep all snack foods they healthiest options available.

6) Make meals fun

Making mealtime fun is will go a long way in having your associate healthy eating with positive emotions. If mealtimes are a always a battle, everyone is trained to get frustrated at dinner time!

Get your kids to help out, experiment with fun dips and sauces, and switch it up (like breakfast for dinner).

7) Don’t make a seperate meal

Making a seperate meal for your child–while it may keep the peace at dinner time–only ensures that picky and limited eating will continue.  When one of my kids outright refuse everything (rare), they are always welcome to have any raw vegtables, nuts or seeds, and sometime fruit. But no seperate meal.

8) Don’t bribe with dessert

This just teaches kids that healthy food is bad, but must be suffered through to get to the true reward: dessert. If dessert is the reward, then dessert is always the goal–not healthy eating habits.

I’ll admit that I tried this…a lot. And the result was that my children would constantly try and negotiate “how many bites” until they earned dessert. It wasn’t about eating until fullness. It was all about the dessert.

If your goal is to help your children enjoy healthy eating, bribing with dessert will not get you there. 

We eliminated dessert entirely for a while just to avoid any temptation to have dessert as a reward.

9) Introduce 1 new food at a time with foods they already like

I have found time and again that of I have 2-3 things I know my kids like at a meal and a third or fourth thing that they will try for the 1st time, they are much more likely to try the new thing than if I just try and give then a plate of full of new and strange food.

10) Offer fruits and vegetables with every snack and meal.

First off, if you want to get kids to eat healthy foods you have to offer it to them. A lot. Kid have to be exposed more than 10 times to a food before they may like it. That means the more your expose them, the faster they can develop a taste for these foods.

Secondly, if you are constantly offering fruits and veggies to your children it will help eliminate that urge to force them to eat vegetables at dinner because they haven’t eaten a plat all day. Knowing that they’ve had bites of healthy foods during the day can put your mind at ease and keep the food battle far from your house.

11) Stick to a Routine

Keep meals and snack times at roughly the same time everyday. If a child isn’t hungry for a meal or snack, then they should be hungry enough once the next one comes around.

12) Be consistent

Children’s brains are pattern seeking. If the pattern is that you enforce something new for a day or two and then forget about it, they pick that up quickly. But if you maintain consistency with your expectations and practices, they will pick that up and develop healthy eating habits.

For most people, healthy eating habits aren’t just going to manifest overnight. But through consistently encouraging healthy eating through these steps you can help your children try new foods, enjoy healthy eating, and create habits that will serve them for life. You can create a home of healthy eaters.

If you’re looking for additional reading, I highly recommend It’s Not About the Broccoli: Three Habits to Teach Your Kids For a Lifetime of Healthy Eating. It completely changed how my children eat. No more food battles and a lot of healthy eating. 

You’ve got this, mama.

7 Steps to Teaching a Child to Clean Their Own Bedroom

7 Steps to Teaching a Child to Clean Their Own Bedroom

This post may contain some affiliate links for your convenience (which means that, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission)  Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

7 Steps to Actually Teaching Kids to Clean Their Own Bedrooms

Let’s face it: sometimes you feel more like “the maid” than “the mom”. And while you want your kids to pick up after themselves, it feels pretty dang overwhelming most days when you are just trying to keep everyone alive. You’re tired and pressed for time so it’s faster to do it all yourself. 

But seriously, teaching a child to clean up doesn’t have to be complicated and time consuming. By taking some simple steps now to teach your children to clean their own room, you can teach responsibility and save yourself loads of time and energy.

Teaching a Child to Clean: Start young

If a child can play with toys and make a mess, a child is capable of learning to clean up.

Children truly are amazing little sponges. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly my 4 kids pick stuff up. Their little brains are incredible at picking up patterns and following them. If you teach them that you will always clean up their messes, they’ll learn that quickly. But if you teach them that they need to clean up after themselves, they’ll do it.

7 Steps Teaching Kids to Clean Their Bedrooms

Steps to Teach a Child to Clean Their Bedroom

1) Organize child’s room so that it’s easy for your child to clean up.

Before you really dig into teaching your child to clean their room, you want to make sure it’s organized properly. Take a good long look at your child’s bedroom and ask yourself:

  • Does everything have a clear place?
  • Is it easily accessible?
  • Is the organization uncomplicated?
  • How can I change the room to make it easier for my child to clean?

Organize your room so that it’s easy for your child to know where everything goes and it’s easy to put everything away.

Taping images on boxes, bins, and drawers can be very helpful in teaching kids where everything goes. I do this with my kid’s drawers and it has been a  game-changer.

To say my girls love clothes is a major understatement. Without exageration, it’s perfidy normal for any one of my 3 kids who dress themselves to change their clothes anywhere from 5-10 times a day on any given day. So clothing mess has been a formidable issue for us from the moment these girls started dressing themselves.

One day a few years ago, completely frustrated by the daily deluge of clothes on the bedroom floor, I snapped. I got some 3 x 5 notecards and drew pictures of the clothing items that go in each drawer and taped them on each of my children’s drawers.

It was nothing short of miraculous what happened. With a bit of direction, my clothes-loving girls actually started to put everything away in the correct place. If you don’t feel like drawing, I created a free printable of both boy and girl clothes drawer labels (you can download the labels by scrolling to the bottom of this post).Teaching a child to clean their bedroom

2) Clean along side your child, giving very specific instructions with lots of encouragement and praise.

Children are very visual and physical learners. Not only do we need to tell them what to do, we need to show them and lovingly guide them. While you model the correct behavior, explain to your child what you are doing and invite them to help giving very specific instructions.

EXAMPLES:

  • “Can you put the OBJECT in this PLACE? You did it! That was so helpful!”
  • “This is where we put the OBJECTS. Can you put that right in here? You are such a great helper. I love it!”

As you child learns, you can move away from the very specific directions to “Can you put all the dirty clothes in this basket?” as opposed to “can you put that shirt in the dirty clothes basket?”

Teaching a child to clean their bedroom

3) Set a routine for when you clean

Children crave routines that they can expect and predict. This is certainly true when teaching a child to clean. If you are consistent in your cleaning routine, not only will your children respond better, but–knowing that clean up is imminent–they will begin to clean before you ask them. Making it a routine they can expect will reduce the battles.

Since every home runs differently, this may look different to everyone. For some, it may be that you clean a room up completely before you leave it. That hasn’t worked well for us.

For us, the evenings seem to be the most effective time to clean. As part of their bedtime wind-down routine, the girls know that they are expected to have their room clean in order to get a story and a song every night (and they’d sooner cut off their own toe than miss the story and song). As it’s become more routine for them, they have become quick and efficient little cleaners!

4) Keep it positive and encouraging

The quickest way to sabotage a child’s attitude and the mood in your home is to be moody and negative. Be it potty training, school work, or what have you, when we start to get irritated and snarky with our kids, they will respond the same way or with tears.

Always give encouragement and praise for their efforts when teaching a child to clean. Praise and positivity go a really long way in helping to motivate a child. Helping them see how helpful they are and that what they do makes a difference will completely change their behavior.

A phrase we use (from parenting expert Dr. Becky Bailey) that has brought about miraculous attitude and behavior changes is:

“You (what your child did), so (the results). That was so helpful!”

EXAMPLES:

  • “You cleaned up all your clothes so you can find them. That was so helpful!”
  • “You put all your toys away so we won’t trip on them and your room can look nice. That was so helpful!”

I know it’s not always easy to stay positive when you are tired and overworked and the house is messy. But staying positive with kids yields magical results. When I am super positive and complimentary, my 4 and 5 year old can seriously make their room

5) Have consequences for failure to clean up

Natural consequences are best. Other than losing their story and a song at night, another strategy has also been very effective.  We put toys that have not been picked up when they were supposed to be picked up in “toy jail”. These items go in a big clear plastic container that lives in a high shelf in my closet and my kids have to do various chores to earn their toys back.

teaching a child to clean their bedroom

6) Have your child clean up gradually on their own, as you give instructions

As your child becomes more and more capable, give them more responsibility.

7) Be consistent, Be consistent, Be consistent

I know it’s not easy. Mom life is super hard. We have moments where we can’t care about much more than keeping our kids alive, let alone having children who clean up after themselves. I’ve been there. 

But if we are not consistent in our efforts and expectations, children will pick up that this is not important and not something they need to learn.

On the other hand, being consistent teaches our children that these expectations and responsibilities are here to stay and will be enforced.

Children’s brains are amazing at picking up patterns. If the pattern is that you won’t stay consistent, they will not comply. If the pattern is that they need to keep their room clean, they will! Stay strong, mama!

The struggle is worth it

I’m not going to lie, teaching my kids to clean up after themselves has been a struggle at times. Sometimes they have fought me vigorously and tested whether I will be consistent. But the struggle to teach a child to clean is worth it.  

These days, my kids are now amazing at cleaning up their rooms. And the excitement and sense of pride they have when they show me their immaculate room absolutely makes my heart sing.

You’ve got this. Good luck, mamas!

7 Steps Teaching Kids to Clean Their Bedrooms
7 Steps Teaching Kids to Clean Their Bedrooms

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Nature Scavenger Hunt: A Simple and Fun Preschool Math Activity

Nature Scavenger Hunt: A Simple and Fun Preschool Math Activity

*This post may contain some affiliate links for your convenience (which means that, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission)  Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

Nature Scavenger Hunt: A Simple & Fun Preschool Math Activity

On the lookout for easy, fun, and educational activities that I can do with your little ones? This nature scavenger hunt is a super fun way to explore the outdoors and practice counting.

With just a few household items and just a couple minutes prep time, you are ready to go! You can have a fun little learning adventure with your kids where they will be encouraged to think out of the box and use their math skills to add up what they find.

There are so many variations of how you can do this activity! If you want, after your hunt your kids can make a nature collage with what they found during the scavenger hunt. Get creative!

Fun & Easy Nature Scavenger Hunt Preschool Math Activity

Fun & Easy Nature Scavenger Hunt Preschool Math Activity

WHAT YOU NEED

For Scavenger Hunt

  • List of items to look for on the scavenger hunt
  • Pencil/crayon
  • Basket/bag to collect items

For Nature Collage

  • Cardboard
  • Glue
  • Option-tray

INSTRUCTIONS:

1) First, write a list of objects to look for on the scavenger hunt.

Your list will depend on the area you live in and the season.  For example, you can write a list as follows: Five rocks of any color, 5 flowers of any color, 10 leaves, 8 small sticks.

Create your list with your child in mind. Since we had a variety of ages on our hunt–6, 4, 2–I was flexible in my expectations for each child.

The 4 and 6 year old could easily count to 20 (and well beyond), while my 2 year old can count to about 5 right now. My goal was to just get each child to practice at their level.

For most kids, you’ll definitely want to keep the quantity of objects higher than three, that way there will be more items for your child to count and add.  

2) It’s Adventure Time!

Go for a walk and have your child use the list as the guide of what he needs to find.

You can walk around your backyard or neighborhood. We chose to go to a local reserve because there was simply more nature to explore. Plus, there were fun things like ducks and bunnies to count!

3) Use Your List

As your child finds the items on the list, have him write down what he has found and the amount. If you think it might be helpful, you can have him tally as he finds the objects on the list.

Or you can collect them in your basket/bag and count afterwards. It’s versatile!

By the way, the baskets we used (pictured) are part of some play food sets we have. They just happened to be perfect for this activity. 

Every time your child finds an item from the list, have him add the amount of items he has.  This will give him lots of opportunities to practice adding, but will also help him to keep track of the amount he has.  

4) Add the total.

At the end of the walk, have your little one add the totals from all that he found. So many opportunities for counting!

5) Make a collage

Now for the really fun part! After finding everything on the list and adding it up, your child can make a collage of the items by gluing the items on cardboard or making a display tray. By placing the items on a tray, he can have many opportunities to rearrange his collage in different ways.

Nature + Counting = Simple & Easy Educational Fun!

Educational activities don’t have to take a lot of time or effort. You don’t have to plan some complicated activity that involves a lot of prep time and organization. This scavenger hunt is super easy and super fun for kids. And you can modify it however you need to meet your needs. Really, you’re just out exploring in nature and counting! Plus, you can add a collage project at the end.  

Try this one and let me know how it goes.

Have fun, mama!

Fun & Easy Nature Scavenger Hunt Preschool Math Activity

 

To the Mama Who is Stressing Over Your Kid’s Birthday Party

To the Mama Who is Stressing Over Your Kid’s Birthday Party

Dear Stressed-Out Mama,

Oh darlin’. I get it. You want so badly to make your child’s birthday party magical and perfect. And you are stressed out about it.

You want everyone there to be blissfully happy. And you want some amazing pictures for your instagram feed. (And one day you WILL get to that Shutterfly album…)

But oh, sweetheart. You. Are. Tired.

Your eyes are glazed over from scouring Pinterest looking for the perfect themes, decorations, and designer treats. Maybe you’ve already put in a ton of time into planning and ordering.

But now you’ve had it.

Or, perhaps you are simply realizing all the hours (and $$$$) it’s going to take to make this dream party a reality.

Girl, I seriously know how you feel. I’ve been there and felt the exact same way. 

And my friend, I have some great news for you. Unless putting on an amazing party brings you immense joy, you can stop all this planning RIGHT NOW.

You don’t have to sacrifice your life at the alter of children’s birthday parties. And you can still be a rockstar mama.

In fact, I would argue that NOT stressing yourself out will actually ultimately bring your child more happiness and will help you be an even better mom than you already are.

And yes, you ARE good mom. You don’t need a party to prove it.

And your child does not need this party. Your child can experience the joy and magic of turning one year older without giving you gray hairs and forcing you into sleep deprivation.

Crazy stress is not the only vehicle for a fun and exciting party.

Stressed over your kid's party? There's a better way.

kids-birthday-party-stress

But I get you.

It was 2:30am and I was furiously hand sewing ballet tutus for toy dinosaurs when I suddenly questioned every step in my life that led me to that moment.

What on earth was I doing staying up at all hours sewing a tutu for a TOY dinosaur?!?!

Despite a headache and serious sleep deprivation, I had been determined to have a picture perfect Ballerina Dinosaur Party for my 4-year-old. I was looking at the pile of tiny tutus I had spent hours making FOR A DECORATION (*eyeroll*) and I was like: this. is. ridiculous.

And it was.

But like so many moms, I got caught up in wanting a picture perfect Pinterest/Instagram-worthy birthday party. 

So, some real talk here. I’ve got a question for you to ponder: Who exactly is the fancy birthday party for?

It is for your child? Other moms? Social media? For yourself? A combination?  

If I was answering in that moment with the tutus, I would have had to admit it was for all those reasons. While creating a magic experience for my daughter was my primary motivation, if it was my only motivation, I’m 100% certain I would have gone about things differently.

As you well know, kids find joy in the simplest things. A cardboard box or simple kitchen utensils can keep kids busy for hours while the mountains of expensive toys gather dust.

I’m telling ya’ mama, your child does not need a fancy party to have fun and feel special.

A better way

Just days after my stressful and exhausting dinosaur party, I went to a birthday party for one of my daughter’s friends. This mom had it figured out.

We met at her in-law’s house who had fun playground equipment and they had rented a bouncy castle. As it was morning, they got a few boxes of donuts for the treat. Also, the in-laws had a pony so the birthday girl’s dad guided kids around on little rides while the mom chatted completely stress-free with the other moms and the children joyfully played.

No gift bags, organized games, decorations. or photo props. Just a bunch of deliriously happy kids and relaxed parents.

Frankly, this mom was a birthday party ninja.

Okay, I know what you’re about to say. I get that we don’t all have in-laws with playgrounds and horses. Or even funds for a bouncy house rentals, for that matter. But, I’m telling you, my friend had birthday parties figured out.

She used the resources that were already easily at her disposal and she kept it super simple.

While I ran around my kid’s party, exhausted and frantically trying to go through each activity, my friend sat relaxed and happy, visiting with all the moms. She actually appeared to be enjoying herself.

The difference couldn’t have been more stark.

The 3 F’s of a Rockin’ Birthday Party

Can I let you in on a little secret? I’ve come to realize that a successful kid’s birthday party really only needs 3 things: frosting, fun, and friends.

That’s it. Really.

At the end of the day…

Remember, mama: at the end of the day, what your kids need most is a happy, healthy mama who takes care of herself. What will shape their future is feeling loved by you and connected. Not a party.

So go hug your kid and get some sleep, my friend. You’ve got this. 

To the Mama Who is Majorly Stressed Over Your Kid's Birthday Party