What did you do at school today? Nothing.
I bet you’ve heard that one before! It can be maddening to wonder what our little ones are doing off in their own world, and when they finally arrive home, they tell us NOTHING! I remember when my oldest, now eleven, started nursery school and would barely answer me from the back seat of the car on our way home. I would badger him with questions all throughout lunch, and still, nothing. It was really hard. But guess what, he was tired! And children like to talk on their own terms. So do yourself a favor and wait until they've had a snack and relaxed a bit before bombarding them with questions about their day. Even better, wait for them to start to talk about the day before you even ask. Be patient.
Here are some simple prompts for supporting your child in communicating with you about their day.
- What color was the paint today? Did you choose to mix the colors together, or did you keep them separate?
- Who sat next to you on the rug today. Did you talk to them? Can your remember her name? I wonder who you will sit with tomorrow?
- At playtime, did you choose to play right away or did you watch the other children for a while first? I wonder if you climbed or colored with chalk?
- Did you work with blocks? I wonder what the choices will be for tomorrow?
Child-led Conversation Tips:
When you are speaking to your child and you want to gather more information, try not to be too leading. Reflect their words back at them and then wait. It goes a bit like this:
Mom: Sloane, I wonder what color paint your teacher put out today.
Mom: Red. The paint was red. (Pause and wait…and wait.)
Sloane. Yeah, it was red and Daniel spilled some and he cried when it got on his sneakers!
Mom: He cried when it spilled on his sneakers?
Sloane: Yes! He was crying and crying but then the teacher came and she showed everyone what to do if they spill the paint.
Mom: She showed everyone what to do?
Sloane: Yes!! You get a rag from the bucket….etc.
Mom: Sloane, what color was the paint today?
Mom: Red! What did you paint?
Sloane: A balloon.
Mom: What else did you do?
Do you see the difference between these two conversations? The first conversation is open ended and allows the child to think and collect thoughts about what she feels was important in her day.
In the second conversation, the mom leads the conversation and the questions only have one finite answer. There is little opportunity for the child to share the finer details about the day.
Have you tried speaking to your child using this reflective technique? It feels strange at first, but when you see how much more your child communicates with you, you will be astounded!
Please let me know if you decide to check it out!
Thanks for reading and for following along.
*This post is sponsored by Mixbook. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Are you guys running the end-of-the-school-year race like I am? There's so much to do! There are so many projects coming home as the teachers clean out your child's work to get ready for next year's students. The piles and piles of artwork. These piles are going to add to the piles we already have. My kids are creating every single second! So, let's talk about what you can do with all that art.
First, let me start by telling you that I value of the process of creating. The time spent engaging the senses, collaborating, and the joy in making are the most important part. Much of what we do is open-ended, meaning that there is not a finished product in mind, and that the children can take the materials in any direction they desire. The result is often stunning.
We create at home almost every day. I often set out after-school invitations to create, and our art cabinet and outdoor tinkerspace are always in use. Needless to say, my kids are making something all the time. We end up with a lot of large painted logs, sea glass sculptures and massive collaged murals. Many of you watch the children in action on my Instagram Stories and then I am flooded with messages asking how I keep all of this art.
The secret to keeping the art without the mess is documenting it all in a simple photobook. My children know how much value there is in the process of creating. We talk about it all the time. But, obviously, if they work hard on something, and are happy with the end result, they might want to keep it. So, sometimes we hang a painting on the wall or place a sculpture on a shelf. But way more often than not, we photograph their work and document in a Mixbook. It’s win-win. They get to keep beautiful images of their work, and I get a clutter-fee kitchen!
Okay, okay, I know what you are going to say. Your child is a pack-rat and cannot possibly part with her creations. I hear this from a ton of people. You are not alone. Here are some tips that might help:
1. Involve your children in the process. My middle daughter loves to photograph her work. She borrows my phone and snaps a few photos. Right now, she is intrigued with close-up shots of her creations. Let them help you with photographing their work. This will show them that you value their effort and what they have created.
2. Keep a album on your phone that is dedicated to documenting the children’s art work. After you or your child has snapped a few photos, choose the one you (or they) like best and add it to the album. Delete the rest right away. Your future self will thank you.
3. Show your child physical work that you have saved. Odds are, the ends are bent, and torn. Collages are missing their most glittery accouterments, and that cardboard fort they worked so hard to build is caved in a corner of the playroom. Show them how documenting their work using photo books preserves their hard work and beautiful creations.
4. Keep it simple. The designers at Mixbook did the hard part so that you don’t have to. You can literally drag and drop your photos into the beautifully designed, pre-made templates. Still feeling flustered or overwhelmed? Because I knew that I would be recommending Mixbook to you, I checked out their “Chat” button and asked for support. I was impressed. A real human talked me through my “issue” with almost no wait time. He communicated clearly and was just so helpful! I’m usually so irritable after disconnecting with a “chat” button, but not this time.
5. Look at your beautiful book of art often with your child. Talk about the how and why behind their creations. These photo books give you the opportunity to reflect on your child’s hard work and imagination long after all of the glitter has been cleaned up.
6. When your child is stuck or bored, suggest that they look back at their past works for inspiration. One of my favorite things to hear is, “Remember when we made that? It was so cool!”. Often, they run off to make it again and take it in a whole new direction.
Our family treasures our books of the children's work. I love looking back and seeing the development of their skills over time. Making a photo book clears up the clutter, while still treasuring your child's most precious artwork.
Mix book is giving you all $25 off your first order with the code WORKSPACE (expires 7/2/2018). I would love to see some images you include in your Mixbook. Tag me on Instagram for a chance to be featured in my Instagram Stories!
Head over to Mixbook to start your book now. Good luck!
This post is written in partnership with LorenaCanals Rugs. All ideas, thoughts, and opinions are my own.
Guys, you might not believe this about me, but I am a bit of a neat freak. Clutter seriously throws me for a loop and when my house is a mess, my life is a mess. I really wish I could be one of those moms who can let go of toys strewn about, play dough ground into the rug, laundry piling up. I actually envy these people. But, I am not one of them.... I feel stressed all day if I leave a messy kitchen behind and carry on with my day. BUT, I also love messy play. I love when my children paint and use clay. Sand and glitter do not freak me out and I even encourage my kids to gather buckets of mud and play in them. Over the years I have developed a few hacks to successfully combine my passion for messy play and my love of a tidy house.
1. I married a fellow neat freak// My husband can clean a kitchen something fierce. He's never met a load of laundry, a pile of dishes or a bucket of sloppy paint jars he couldn't tackle. He's. The. Best. He doesn't exactly embrace the messy side of things, but he is damn good at dealing with it.
2. Drop Cloth// They are everything. A large drop cloth on the floor or over the table frees me from worrying about paint spills or permanent markers. I have three industrial size drop cloths in rotation at all times. Ruby especially loves to look at the spills, stains, and marks we've accumulated over the years. Each mark on the drop cloth serves as a treasured memory of projects past.
3. Bins// When we are using a sensory bin inside (rice, shaving cream, oobleck) I put a smaller bin of the material inside a much larger bin. This way when the rice inevitably spills over the side of the first bin, it falls right into the second bin. Make sense? No need to sweep, just dump the spill from one bin back into the other.
4. Washable Rug// What? Yes. A machine-washable, natural rug that looks and feels amazing. We have one in our playroom so that when the kids make playdough food for their animals or draw and color signs for the block buildings, I am cool as a cucumber. No worries from this Mama. "Sure guys, juice boxes and snacks are allowed in this playroom!" When they inevitably spill juice or get marker on my rug, I can toss it in the washing machine. Amazing. You can find this one HERE.
What's your mess-comfort level? Are you an anything goes kind of mom or do prefer to keep things tidy?
As the kids get older, bedtime gets easier. No, it doesn't exactly get easy, but it does get easier. Here's a little picture of the bedtime trials and tribulations with our newly-minted five-year-old. I've broken it all down into complaint/ solution... I hope some of our simple solutions work for you!
(This post is written in partnership with Dock A Tot. All opinions and ideas are my own. )
Complaint number one: It’s too dark!! Solution: Dave installed a dimmer on the light switch and now she can sleep with her lights on the dim setting all night long.
Complaint: I won’t know when it is morning! (So I will find it necessary to get up a thousand times to ask you if it is morning yet).
Solution: Hatch Baby Rest (night light, sound machine, ok-to wake, all in one device). We use this both as a sound machine and an ok-to-wake light. I particulary love this device for two reasons. The first is that it is controllable via Bluetooth through my phone. I can turn the sound up if the big kids are being noisy and I can easily change the wake-up time right from my phone! Yay! (You can find one HERE).
Complaint: I’m thirsty!
Solution: Cup of water next to the bed. I only put a few inches of water in so that if it spills, it’s not a big deal. If you are concerned about spillage, you could try this still-proof cup.
Complaint: What If I wake up before the green light (ok to wake signal) and I want to play? She literally asks this question every. single. night.
Solution: Sloane sleeps with her two favorite Angel Dear loveys every night. They serve as both a toy and a security blanket. She’s had her pink owl since she was a new-born baby. I love these security blanket/ lovey dolls and they are always my go-to baby gift for new moms. (You can find them HERE. )
Complaint: My pillow fell out of bed and I’m scared to get it! What if I fall out?
Solution: Dock A Tot Grand. When we moved Sloane to a bed around two years old, we opted not to use a bed rail. In my opinion, bed rail make cuddling tricky and tidying the bed is near-impossible!! So, right from the begining, I would just set her pillows in a U-shaped formation and tuck in her in tight. It pretty much worked- I think she only fell out of bed maybe once? Until recently… In the past six moths or so, Sloane has been knocking her pillows out of her bed. For some reason, she is terrified of reaching down and getting them herself. This has led to many middle of the night crying jags, followed by me dragging myself into her room to arrange her pillows- not exactly what I want to be doing at four in the morning. After quite a few interrupted nights, I decided to check out the Dock A Tot. This cozy contraption is everything. Sloane loves it, she cuddles right in, blankets go up and over and nothing/ no one falls out of bed in the night and everyone stays asleep. She even brings it downstairs for movie night or into her sister’s room for a sleep-over. The only problem? I want one in my size. This thing is legit-comfortable. Now, if they could only find a way to solve the whole, "I don't want to sleep by myself" conundrum... Any ideas??