Thursday, July 21, 2016

5 Tips for Getting Kids Outside

It's a hot topic and one I'm passionate about: getting kids outside.  During the school year our kids are highly structured, pressured and scheduled beyond belief (mine, too) and somehow when summer hits they have forgotten how to  Here are some tips for getting your kids outside.

1. Space to play. You don't have to have the perfect yard or a swingset or twenty acres of forested rolling hills for your kids to have fun.  But you do need to create spaces to play.  Our backyard has several areas: dirt pile, mud kitchen, patio with small pool, trampoline, shady tree and climbing tree with swing.  Then you have to let them play there.  Don't worry about keeping it perfect- let your kids have fun in their space.  And do let them play with the hose.  Yes, they'll get muddy.

2. Free time. Seems silly to say it, but don't over structure your kids' time.  It's ok to have a few special activities that you do like swimming lessons or a special camp for a week, but more than one or two activities at a time can make kids feel a little stressed, or at least cause them to forget how to have free time and be bored.  The point is to decompress during the summer months.

3. Special outdoor activities.  Unstructured time is very important, but so is a little structured time.  Plan special trips to nearby outdoor spaces like a favorite park, a creek or river, or a hike.  Plan to stay for awhile.  Give your kid a journal or camera to record some of what they find, take your time and have lunch.  Plan some "quiet time" where kids can be alone and reflect on what they observe.  Maybe bring a special book to read together or do some birdwatching.

4. Invite friends.  When kids start to get bored of the usual thing, invite some friends over.  Have your kids help make homemade popsicles for their friends or build a fort in the back yard.  Bringing friends on a hike can help everyone have more fun and forget the work of hiking while increasing the fun.  Give one of your friends a break from their kids or invite them all along.

5. Lead by example.  That's right.  You need to get outside, too.  Work in the yard while your kids are playing or show them how you climb the tree.  Turn off your device (yes, I know this is a blog) and play with your kids. Plan activities that interest you.  If the big park isn't fun for you, plan a hike or a day at the river with your friends.  Your kids will have fun if you are having fun.



Monday, August 17, 2015

Super Girls Who Fly!

There's no doubt in my mind:  these girls are Super!
Baby Rain (above) and Grace-Girl (below) have conquered the changes of the past year with courage and fearlessness.  
These girls have moved from homeschooling to public school and have faced the very real loss of Mommy-as-they-knew-her with incredible courage.  As we head into fourth grade and kindergarten in a few short weeks, I have to brag a little about how proud I am of their courage and fearlessness.  So here's to all the SuperGirlz in the world who are facing challenges of their own- don't forget that you can fly! 

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Big "T": From Home to School

I'm a blogaholic.  Especially when there's a change in the air.  I want to know how everyone ELSE dealt with it. I want to know their tricks and trades.  I need the info, people!  So, this year I'm headed back to work and the girls are going to school.  For the first time.  Ever.  We are all very excited about this big change, though there is some anxiety in it for us all.  Grace-girl will be going into 3rd Grade, Baby Rain to Preschool.  The grieving is real for this mom who has spent the better part of a decade defining myself as a homeschooling, stay-at-home mom.  I'm not worried about the girls being out there, I'm just worried about missing them.  If you want to slog through the grief process with me, check out my other blog.  In the meantime I'm here to share some practical things I've learned and want to try.  A plus: we finally get to share all our school stories with the kids and the first-day-at-school fun and anticipation will be real, not manufactured by mom.

There's not a lot out there about transitioning a kid into public school from homeschool at this age.  There's a fair amount for the high school set, and lots for Kindergartners headed out into the world.  So here's some wisdom decent ideas for helping kids through this transition.  I know my kids really need a healthy dose of transition help right now.

  • This is scary for them.  It's new.  So Daddy and I are making the decisions.  We won't slog them through our decision-making about schools and childcare and all that jazz.  They just don't need that burden.  However, we will give them space to voice concerns as these decisions come up.
  • We allow space for the anxiety, but we spend more time on the excitement.  Let's focus on the adventure of this new thing and all the fun we'll have!  Grace-Girl is drawing pictures of the things that make her anxious about this transition (missing mommy, not having friends at school, a new routine and structure) and I'm helping her put words to those worries.  We're also developing a plans to ease those burdens.   Here are some:
    1. Preparation- I've assured Grace-Girl that we'll meet her teacher and see her classroom before school starts.  Promise.  We will also ask to see what the schedule will look like each day and how transitions in the classroom will look.  Baby Rain will get the same treatment which will help her, too.  Grace-girl is also writing and drawing her anxieties so we can talk about them and get them out in the open.  School supply shopping will help build some anticipation and excitement and also give the girls some ownership over the experience.
    2. Parental Involvement- Mom and Dad will be involved at both girls' schools (even preschool).  Fundraisers, events, parent teacher nights- we will be there.  It's important to us to support our neighborhood schools and to care about what our kids are learning.  Just because we work doesn't mean we don't want to be involved with our kids.
    3. Something to Look Forward To- For easing the separation, we'll focus on planning mommy-daughter dates and daddy-daughter dates once a month during the fall with each of the girls.  This will be hard for all of us to uphold, but I want them to have something to count the days towards and a reminder that we like to be with them!
    4. School Tools- They will each be allowed to carry a "silent buddy" to school.  A small stuffed animal that lives in their bag and doesn't get to come out.  He's just a reminder of home.  Also- I'm making special bracelets for the girls to wear to remind them that Mommy and Daddy love them and that Jesus is always with them.  I haven't worked all that out, yet, but it's rolling around up there in my head.
This is all for now- I'll post up soon as we continue our adventure to the next great thing our family gets to do together!