If you have been struggling to hear God, to know where He wants to you go, what He wants you to do, and you have been praying, seeking, and patiently waiting, then maybe there is something wrong. If you are standing at the foot of […]
In early December (2018), as churches prepared for Christmas celebrations, proclaiming the joy of Christ’s birth, an article in the Star-Telegram in Ft. Worth, TX exposed a dark, horrifying secret. The article revealed how hundreds of sex abuse allegations in fundamental Baptist churches have gone unreported […]
“Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth. He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.” Prov 10:4-5 The lazy person is called a sloth or sluggard in Proverbs- someone […]
I don’t know about you, but the Dawson family really only needs about 1 month in summer before we are ready to get back to “normal.” Sure, we love sleeping in, relaxing in the sun, catching a movie, walking to the ice cream shop after dinner, and sometimes we throw in a trip to the beach or theme park— those things make summer the perfect end to a busy school year! Cue “Fun, Fun, Fun” by Pharrell Williams…
If you are a stay-at-home mom or day, summer can actually be challenging with little ones. You know, the toddlers and preschoolers who DON’T sleep in until mid-morning, who aren’t quite big enough for a feature-length film in the movie theater, who will run you back and forth from the “big” pool to the kiddie pool and destroy any illusions of catching a little catnap under the umbrellas.
They still need some structure to their day and many still nap right smack dab in the middle of it… usually once whatever you are doing has started to actually get “good.”
Another challenge with our little ones is more conflict and frustration. Personally, I find myself saying “no” more than ‘yes.’
Due to the heat, we tend to stay indoors more, watch tv more, eat more, and complain more.
My own dilemma is wanting my little one to entertain herself and play without relying solely on tv / electronics. Hey, WE had to, so why can’t our kids, right? I imagine you probably want that as well, but it isn’t easy if you don’t have the resources for back-to-back day camps or summer programs.
As I find myself saying “No, we aren’t going to watch another movie, No, it’s too hot to go outside, No, you’ve already eaten enough junk food, No, we are not going to do a sparkly craft (I abhor glue and glitter) no, no, no…” it gets really old to the preschooler who doesn’t know what I DO want her to do.
I need to give her purpose…redirect her in the boredom and tantrums…give her tasks and introduce skills that she can work at and practice when the tv and electronics need to be silenced.
Here are a few things that I have discovered little ones CAN and often WANT to do because they love to be big kids and feel helpful. This gives them a sense of purpose and contribution to the household. It also teaches them useful skills, building self-esteem, and the confidence needed to continue growing and developing new skills!
Afterwards, I find myself much less conflicted in giving them a little down time watching a favorite show, inviting a friend over to play, or enjoying a special treat. I am all about balance- and I am desperate to find a healthy balance for our summer days.
A few examples:
- Helping empty dishwasher (most 2-yr-olds and above can do silverware, and hand out plates, cups, and other things), and help re-load it with dirty dishes-with exception to sharp knives, blades, etc…
- Lunch: grabbing plates, choosing foods, putting it on the plate, even creating cute designs, etc..
- Laundry: sorting colors, helping transfer clothes from washer to dryer, etc…folding small towels, socks (play the matching game), deliver stacks to siblings.
- Cleaning up /cleaning out: invite them to help purge toys that they no longer like / use to give to another little child or friend. This might not work well if you have a little one that wants to keep everything, but some children are eager to pass along toys they have outgrown to younger friends!
- Watering plants / gardening: Charley LOVES to water the plants and flowers in the early morning!! (Green tip: I collect all of our unfinished/ unclaimed water bottles sitting around the house / garage and use those to feed my indoor/ outdoor plants…I try to NOT to pour good bottled water down the drain!)
- Emptying trash -Again, I re-used grocery bags for our small trash cans and these are small enough for little ones to handle as we go throughout the house.
- Dusting – Swiffer-type dust wands are fun and easy for little ones to use!
- And this is the BEST:
Sweeping – I was given an awesome battery powered sweeper which my big kids literally fight each other to use! And Charley was able to use it by 18 months! Sure, it is not a deep cleaning tool, but it isn’t meant to be- it simply sucks up crumbs, dirt, dust, and teeny tiny bits of play dough, keeping floors neat until I find time to do a full-scale vacuum / mopping treatment- which, let’s be honest, isn’t my greatest priority these days!
Sure, any activity where a little one assists is prone to a slower pace, a few mishaps, and less-than-ideal quality, but who cares? Life with little ones will be messy- and sticky…(something is always sticky!) But it’s just a season, and a very short one at that!
Summer too, is just a season…here today, gone tomorrow. I don’t want to spend this season arguing, frustrated, and irritated because my preschooler doesn’t know what I want her to do with herself. I believe that she, like each of us, needs direction and purpose for her day. And your little one(s) may too!
In addition to the much-needed freeplay this summer, if we give them small jobs, we also give them purpose!
What do YOU think? If you have a little one, what have you discovered they are capable of (and enjoy) doing that actually helps you out and keeps them busy?
I would love for you to share this post with friends who have little ones or (grand-littles)! I write on a variety of topics which include parenting and family life, relationships, finances, and spiritual / emotional health, and more! At Crowning Wisdom, I talk about how we can apply God’s unchanging wisdom to a rapidly changing world. And it’s only through a relationship with Jesus Christ that we can truly live wise and live well!
I’ve recently been asked how one can determine when to help others, especially when it isn’t clear whether we should or not. It is a difficult question. As Christians, we are often moved and indeed commanded to help others in need, but we must […]
Mothers, co-laborers, baby poolers and carpoolers, those who work outside of the home and those who stay and work in the home, those nesting or sweeping clean an emptied nest…Happy Mother’s Day! As I talk to countless mothers, one common fear among us surfaces quite […]
In my last post, I described a situation familiar to most parents of young children: a seemingly ordinary drive when my two-year-old began to totally freak out. She seemed to go from 0 to 60 mph in about 5 seconds flat and none of us knew how to help her because she didn’t have the words to express her frustration or what was wrong.
Every parent meets “the beast” in their child somewhere around that second birthday— there’s a reason why most call them the “terrible” two’s. Although she has two older siblings, parenting young children is exhausting and I find that I have forgotten some of the finer points of dealing with these rapidly growing and developing little people.
After that night in the car, I became more committed to helping my youngest express herself.
When each of our children were babies, we began with infant sign language- teaching them to sign simple words with easy hand gestures. We taught just a few of them that we knew they would use a lot: “thirsty” (or drink), “more” (as in, more please!), “all done,” “stop,” and “thank you.” (You can find lots of resources and specialists online to help you teach simple signs to your infant if that is your current state in parenting.) It is a huge relief to understand what your baby wants and needs even though they can’t form the words with their mouths yet.
Some of those high frequency words / phrases were the first our children learned to speak as well– after da-da, and ma-ma, of course! And you will see most of them in this expanded list of 10 EASY phrases to teach and empower your toddler or preschooler.
With the first 5 phrases, (as shared in my previous post,) I also explained why I might choose to teach her to say, “let’s share” instead of “my turn”…or teaching her to ask for help before I rush to do something for her. Each phrase takes time and effort to offer and demonstrate for a child, but once they get them, it can make the difference between a slight annoyance at a selfish playmate and an all-out tug-of-war over a random toy.
The goal is to empower our children and help them build confidence in their interactions with others.
Of course, every child is unique and develops social skills at their own rate, so these phrases are just options and ideas that I share with you, hoping that at least one if not all of them, might prove helpful at some point in these early years. I am no expert in child development, just experienced. I have raised three children and I too, enjoy helpful advice from other seasoned mothers while passing along tips that might help you as well!
Here are the last of the 5 EASY phrases to teach and empower your toddler / preschooler:
6. That hurts! – A seemingly obvious phrase, but it is applicable to many circumstances: rough play, combing tangled hair, snaps that pinch, too-tight shoes, a wet / messy diaper etc… Toddlers are quickly familiarized with pain, whether it be from falling, tripping, bumping their head, and whatnot. It is very challenging learning to navigate a big world with tiny bodies, and sometimes that learning curve feels more like a cliff to our little ones! Giving them the words to express those unpleasant feelings is empowering and clues the parent / caregiver in to what WE can do to help address their discomfort.
One evening last fall, I was driving our 13, 11, and 2-year-old home from an activity and little one was cranky, tired, and in desperate need of who-knows-what…When that couldn’t be found she resorted to mumbling and sputtering every word she could think of— crying […]
Which values do you think make for a thriving and productive society? Would you say it’s things like hard work, integrity, meaningful relationships, and compassion that create a healthy and prosperous society? Or do you believe that laziness, infidelity, disrespect, and substance abuse are the […]
We have been talking about violence in the world today in my last 2 posts and I must admit, it can be very overwhelming and hard to remain positive or hopeful with new reports of violence daily. We know more about what is happening in our local communities, our nation, and around the world, but unfortunately, most of that news entails some type of disorder or bloodshed. Most of us wonder if violence is on the rise, or if technology merely allows us to see more of what happens around the world. Personally, I don’t know, but I do believe that the more we know, the heavier our hearts may feel the weight of such pain and injustice.
Solomon encountered this dilemma in his quest for understanding wisdom, madness and folly, and eventually concluded it was futile: “For with much wisdom comes much sorrow: the more knowledge, the more grief.” Eccl 1:18
He looked at everything that was happening in the world at that time, tried desperately to understand it, but could not. In fact, the more he knew, the greater his frustration. “What is twisted cannot be straightened, what is lacking cannot be counted.” Eccl 1:15
Keeping up with current events can be frightening. There are new reports of violence, murder, abuse, and devastation each and every day. Sensational stories receive the most attention and to an alert and watching child, they may cause fear and anxiety in their young, impressionable mind. […]