A Message to Followers

Hi there everyone! I recently moved my blog hosting from WordPress.com to BlueHost–more of a headache than I planned on, but worth it:-)

Unfortunately, all my ‘followers’ did not migrate with me.

If you would like to continue following Kiddie Matters, all you need to do is Follow me again at:  http://www.kiddiematters.com/

I apologize for the inconvenience.  Thanks in advance.

Happy Friday!

Yanique

6 Lessons I Learned From Being a Stay at Home Mom

me and kids apple pickingMy experience as a stay at home mom has been filled with ups and downs, but never regrets. My youngest starts Pre-K in September and lately I find myself being nostalgic about our time home together. I have one hand pulling her back to infancy while the other is shoving her out the door. (It really depends on her mood). As I look back on my journey as a stay at home mom, these are some lessons I’ve learned along the way.

1. Not everyone sees the value in you staying home with your children. I have always been ambitious and my circle of friends are the same way. We all went to college and had big dreams of making our mark in the world. When I told them of my decision to stay home, it was like I told them I was joining the circus! Family and friends regularly questioned me as to when I would go back to work. You would think they were providing for my family. I don’t know how many times they asked me what my plans were once the kids were all in school. One person had the cahunas to ask me, ‘you went to school and have two Masters’ degrees, how come you don’t want to work anymore?’ Yes…you read correctly! You would think that me being a stay at home mom meant I was not being a productive member of society and therefore needed a mom-tervention to get my life back on track.

2. People will boldly question you about your spouses’ salary. The minute I tell people I am a stay at home mom, one of the first questions I get is ‘oh, what does your husband do?’ Innocent enough, but then it’s the folks that follow up by asking ‘how much does he make?’ that drives me stir crazy. I know it’s petty, but it bothers me. When I worked outside the home no one cared what he made, why is it important now? Unless you are a financial advisor seeking to help my family improve our finances, why is knowing my husband’s salary any of your business? I’m from the school of thought that you don’t ask people what they make (or what their political affiliation is).

3. There is a wonderful community of stay at home moms online. Thank God! My online mommy friends helped me to keep my sanity. I love my kids, but there were a few rough spots along the way. I have escaped to the bathroom on numerous occasions to have a good cry. One time I didn’t make it to the bathroom and just collapsed in the kitchen in a pool of tears. To add insult to injury, my then two year old mama bear in training took it upon herself to console me. I knew my online mommy friends would understand and validate my feelings, and they did. They didn’t judge me or remind me of how thankful I should be for being able to stay at home with my kids. They supported me and let me know that ‘girl, I’ve been there too and it’s alright.’

4. Sometimes motherhood sucks. There, I said it. I don’t enjoy folding laundry and cleaning up the same room at least five times in one day. I don’t enjoy having to figure out what everyone will eat for each meal every single day. I could pass on some of the awkward playdates I have had to sit through. I could also pass on the numerous stomach bugs and other gross illnesses that my children bring home from school. Thank God my youngest is completely potty trained because cleaning out her potty is an experience I would have been alright not having.

5. Multi-tasking is the manifestation of madness. I have heard people referring to someone who is frantic as ‘running around like a chicken with their heads cut off.’ That is what multi-tasking looks like for me. If that’s not madness, I don’t know what is. When I initially became a stay at home mom, I felt like I had to constantly do things around the house to show my husband that I wasn’t being a slacker while he was at work. I planned out my daughter’s day from the minute she woke up until she went to bed at night. I created a meal menu for the whole month, snacks included. Additionally, I develop a weekly chore schedule to keep me organized. I was determined to stick to my plan. If at the end of the day I wasn’t close to completing my to-do list, I was all over the place trying to make sure I completed every task. After all, what would my husband think if I didn’t wipe the fingerprints off the refrigerator? Madness!

6. My undergarments need to be clean, not coordinated. Before I had children, wearing matching bras and panties were a must. It just looked nice and made me feel sexy. These days I’m lucky if my socks match much less my underwear! All I need is a supportive bra and clean underwear. As for sexy, what’s sexier than your honey coming home to a clean house, a hot meal, and you in clean underwear? (I’m 100% sure my husband disagrees with me on this one!).

The most important lesson I have learned from my experience as a stay at home mom is that the time I get to spend with my children is priceless. Staying home isn’t the right choice for everybody. If I had to do it all over again, would I do it? In the sanitized version of Big from Sex in the City…ABSO-FREAKIN-LUTELY!

What are some lessons you have learned from parenting your children?

4 ways to teach kids about diversity-craft included!

diversityWe live in a time in which the world is becoming increasingly more diverse. Therefore, it is crucial that we teach our children the importance of learning to respect others, regardless of their differences. The following are some suggestions of how you can teach your child about diversity.

  1. Practice what you preach. Children pay much more attention to what we do as opposed to what we say. When they see the adults in their lives practicing tolerance and accepting others for who they are, children are more inclined to do the same.
  2. Answer children’s question about diversity honestly. Many of us like to be politically correct when children question us about issues related to diversity. For example, so many adults tell children things like “we don’t see color” and “we are all the same on the inside.” The truth is, people do come in different colors. It is more important that children learn to accept others for who they are instead of pretending that differences don’t exist.
  3. Read diversity themed books with children. There are many great, kid-friendly books that teach children about diversity and accepting others for who they are. Some examples are All Kinds of Families, I Have a Dream, It’s a Small World, Mostly Monsterly, Wonder, and Special People, Special Ways.
  4. Watch diversity themed movies with children. Popular films such as Mulan, Brave, Frozen, Wreck it Ralph, Monster’s Inc., and Shrek are just a few movies you can choose from. Make sure that you discuss any elements of diversity and tolerance that come up while watching these films. Young children might not pick up on some of these elements on their own.

A fun diversity conversation starter
It is never too early to start teaching children about diversity. The following snowflake craft is a great way to introduce the topic of diversity to young children. After you complete the snowflake craft, explain to the child that no two snowflakes are alike. However, despite their differences, each snowflake is just as beautiful. Take it one step further and explain to them how this principle applies to people. Alright, let’s make some snowflakes!

What you will need:
-Popsicle sticks
-Hot glue gun
-Elmer’s glue
-Glitter, gems, stickers, and other assorted embellishments
-Paint
-Paint brush

Step 1

plus sign flakefull snow fake

 

 

 

 

Assemble popsicle sticks to form a snowflake. Glue two popsicle sticks in the shape of an addition sign. Glue two more popsicle sticks together to make an ‘X’ and then glue this on top of the popsicle stick addition sign you made prior.

Step 2 kids painting snow flake

Paint popsicle sticks on one side. Allow to dry before painting other side.  You might need to apply several coats of paint to achieve your desired look.  Make sure you let each coat dry before applying another coat of paint.

Step 3
decorating snow flake

Once the paint dries, glue on your embellishments.  Let your inner creative genius guide you as you create your piece of art. You might need to let your snowflake dry overnight before blinging out the back of your snowflake.

Step 4
4 painted snow flake

Allow your snowflake to dry, and voila…your conversation starter piece is complete!

What are some ways you teach children about diversity?

5 Tips to Help Mommy Get Her Swag Back

 

keep-calm-and-turn-your-swag-on-127There are so many women who lose sight of who they are once they have kids. They become everything to everyone else, but fail miserably at meeting their own needs. Not surprisingly, overtime this begins to affect their self esteem and self- confidence. The following are a few tips intended to help mommy get her swag back

1. Determine what motherhood means to you. So many moms out there believe that in order to be a good mom they have to recreate as many Pinterest crafts with their children as possible, make nightly home cooked meals with the perfect ratio of carbs and protein, and spend at least three hours bonding with Junior so that he becomes properly attached. There’s nothing wrong with doing these things. However, let’s face it, our children will still screw up, fall in love with the wrong people, and make dumb decisions no matter how much of our lives we devote to providing them with the illusion of a pristine childhood. Cut yourself some slack and figure out how you can be the best mom you can be without sacrificing who you are.

2. Spend time with friends who don’t have children. There is no rule that says moms must only spend their time with other moms. Having children does not mean that your life is reduced to Mommy and me yoga and awkward playdates. When moms get around other moms, their natural inclination is to talk about kids and all things kids-related. Every now and then, make plans with your friends who don’t have children. They will likely have a range of topics to discuss over dinner that does not include potty training or the color of poop.

3. Keep up with the times. Many moms dedicate the majority of their day to the tasks of cooking, cleaning, and crafting. They don’t have time to keep up with things like Congress or the Kardashians. However, it is important that you find ways to remain relevant. This doesn’t mean that at the next family barbecue you have to bust out the Schmoney dance. (Although you would definitely earn some major cool points in my book). Start out small. Reconnect with topics that interested you prior to having children. Maybe you were into fashion or politics. Grab a magazine or go online and see what folks are saying. Being informed about current events isn’t just about being in the know. Carving time out to keep up to date with things we find interesting allows us to stay connected to who we are. It also gives you something else besides children to talk about on date night and on girl’s night out!

4. Revamp your sense of style. Somewhere along the way, yoga pants and cardigans became go to fashion pieces for moms. Motherhood does not mean that you have to resign yourself to a life of frump. I’m a firm believer in the notion that when you look good, you feel good. Caring about your appearance isn’t a sign of vanity. It’s an act of self-love. When your children see you investing time in your appearance, you are modeling for them the importance of self-care.

5. Reconnect with your goals and dreams. Many women put their dreams on the back burner after they have children. There is nothing wrong with doing this for a little while. However, there comes a time when you will need to make yourself a priority and get back in the game. Getting in touch with your passions will rejuvenate your spirit by reminding you of who you are and where you want to be in life.

I hope this helps you on your journey to finding your mojo. Please feel free to share how you maintain your swag in the comment section below.

 

Photo credit: arinze

Teaching children how to set goals and use a vision board

ac vision board

Goal setting is an important life skill that is never too early to start developing. Learning to set goals teaches children to take responsibility for themselves. They learn that their actions determine whether or not they fail or succeed. Goal setting also builds self-confidence. When children reach their goals, they learn to believe in their abilities and are more likely to set new goals for themselves in the future.

6 Tips for setting goals with children

1. Collaborate with the child to set goals. Try not to dictate to the child what goals he/she should set. The child is more likely to push towards their goals if they can take ownership of them and are vested in the outcome of their goals. As the child gets older, assess whether or not they are capable of setting goals on their own.

2. Start with small goals. Starting out with small, easy to achieve goals, ensures that the child experiences some success early on in the goal setting process. Once they have some success, they will gain confidence in their abilities and are more likely to set more challenging goals in the future.

3. Make sure goals are age appropriate. Young children between Kindergarten and third grade might set goals such as sharing with friends, reading a book independently, etc. Starting at around fourth grade, children might set more complex goals for themselves such as making honor roll or making a sports team.

4. Goals need to be realistic and attainable. Children need to set goals that they have the skills to achieve. For example, it would be unrealistic for a five year old to have a goal of reading a Harry Potter book independently because they have not developed the necessary skills to do so. This goal would most likely be unattainable for the child despite their best efforts.

5. Make goals specific. Having broad goals can overwhelm and confuse the child. When setting goals, try to be as specific as possible. Instead of saying ‘I will do better in school’, state specifically what you will do in order to do better in school. For example, ‘I will complete my homework daily.’

6. Decide how you will track progress. Children are more likely to work towards their goals when they see progress. They can track their progress by using a sticker chart, graph with tally marks, a spreadsheet, etc. Make sure the child can readily see the progress they are making towards achieving their goal.

Making vision boards with children
A vision board is a visual representation of the things you want to accomplish or acquire. People create vision boards to have a constant reminder of what they are working towards. A vision board is a great tool for teaching children about goal setting. Children can use vision boards to keep them motivated and focused as they work toward their goals.

A vision board activity
The following vision board activity will help the child in your life start their goal setting journey with ease and FUN! First, download my Goal Setting for Children worksheet. Work with the child to complete the worksheet. Once you have done this, you are ready to make a vision board.

What you will need:vision board supplies
-Poster board (any size)
-Magazine articles and pictures that represent your
goals and action plan
-scissors
-Crayons, markers, or colored pencils
-Glue, glue stick or tape
-poster board letters (optional)

 

Gather all your materials and have the child glue the pictures on to the poster board. Let their creativity run wild. Once they are done, hang their vision board where they can see it often. For an added element of fun, feel free to make your own vision board with your child.

Remember to cheer your little one on as they make strides toward their goals.  The journey to them achieving their goals is equally as important as them actually reaching their goals.

Happy New Years!

Don’t forget to click image below to download your free goal setting worksheet!

Goal Setting Worksheet

 

 

Quick and easy directions to make an ‘I Spy’ jar

color rice i spy jar

I love fun activities that help children learn and play at the same time. Imagine my excitement when I discovered  ‘I Spy’ jars. These jars are great to use in calm down corners, on long car rides, and for individual play. Not only are ‘I Spy’ jars great fun, they also help to strengthen children’s concentration, observation, and self-soothing skills.  What else could you ask for? And as an added bonus, they are extremely easy to make!

Making an “I Spy’ container

color rice materials i spy

Materials you will need:
* Clean, clear container
* Rice, small pasta, or other similar filler objects.  (Find directions here on how to make color rice).
* Small objects (i.e. small toys, pom-pom balls, foam numbers, foam letters, etc.)
* Hot glue gun or super glue

Directions:

Step 1Color rice
Fill container ¾ of the way full with rice or other filler. Make sure you leave enough space in container so objects can move around in the jar.

Step 2

put objects in rice

Add small objects to the container.  My little one chose to also add gems to the rice to give it some sparkle.  Most of the toys she used were items that had no ‘home’.  Some were toys that came with fast food meals or  novelty items she received in goody bags from birthday parties.  I’m so glad I finally have a use for those trinkets!

Step 3

glue cover on
Seal jar with super glue or hot glue gun.  This will prevent the rice from spilling all over the place when they are being used.  Believe me, once you get rice grains on the floor, you will be stepping on rice grains for weeks to come.  Save yourself the headache and do not forget to secure the container lid with glue.

Step 4twist jar
Shake your container until the toys get mixed into the rice. Now you are ready to enjoy your ‘I Spy’ jar! Children will delight in finding  a new toy with every shake.  They can take turns with a sibling or friend trying to “spy” different objects, or they can choose to play alone.  You will be amazed at how long a craft like this can hold a child’s attention.

Activities for ‘I Spy’ jars

  • If you plan on using ‘I Spy’ jars with older kids, take pictures of the items you are putting in the jar.  Print the picture on photo paper or heavy card stock.   Challenge children to find the objects in a set time frame.  For example, tell them to see how many objects they can find in one minute.
  • Use it as a tool in a calm down center.  Instead of putting toys in the jar, write coping skills on plastic reusable ice cubes.  Instruct the child to do whatever coping skill he/she reads on the plastic ice cube.

Please feel free to share fun ways you use or plan to use your ‘I Spy’ jar!

How to make color rice in 5 easy steps!

playing in rice

As a counselor, I find that I can connect with kids better in sessions when they are engaged in non-distracting sensory play.  I don’t know why, but the minute some kids have something in their hands, they open right up.  Many people these days are using color rice as a sensory item.  Children can now enjoy the color of rice as well as its texture.  Luckily, making color rice is very easy.  Are you ready to make some color rice? Let’s do it!

What you will need:
* Rice
* Vinegar
* Food coloring
* Ziploc bag
* Tray or cookie sheet
* Wax paper

Directions

Step 1

rice in ziploc bag

Pour desired amount of rice in Ziploc bag.

Step 2

add food color

Add food coloring to bag until you achieve desired color. A little food coloring goes a long way, so just add a drop at a time until you are satisfied with the color.

Step 3

add vinegar

Pour one tablespoon vinegar for each cup of rice. For example, I used four cups of rice and therefore needed four tablespoons of vinegar.

Step 4

mix rice in

Close Ziploc bag and toss the rice until it is covered in vinegar and food coloring. Be amazed as you watch the rice change color right before your eyes!

Step 5

color rice triple

Place wax paper on a tray. Spread the contents of the Ziploc bag on to the  tray.  Let rice dry for an hour.  Once it is dry, you are ready to play with your color rice.

Find out how to make an ‘I Spy’ jar with color rice here.