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Posts tagged ‘play’

Why simple is better when shopping for toys

simple toy shoppingThis year Christmas shopping for my children was one of the hardest year’s yet. When they made their lists, I let them flip through the toy store catalogues and to get ideas. To my surprise, most of what they put on their lists were electronic. I figured maybe these are just the items that are more heavily advertised. As I examined further I realized a lot of the catalogues were comprised of electronic toys. Even traditional games seemed to now include and electronic component.

Toys that play themselves

For example Monopoly now features an electronic banking version. The players can actually use a credit card! No silly counting and learning the basics of finance for these kids. They can just charge it and have an in game calculator add and subtract for them. I remember the banking and playing with fake money as being one of the funnest parts of Monopoly.

This year there was a whole section of mechanized robots, electric powered scooters and toys that required a smart phone to play. This would be expected if I were talking about older kids maybe middle schooler or early high school since they tend to gravitate more towards electronics by that age anyway. These gifts were geared towards elementary age children. Ages where learning social and developmental skills found in play are still vitally important.

photo from Walmart.com

I am not against technology mind you. Some video games are fun, can be a great time to bond with your child and can promote strategic and creative thinking. However, as I perused these catalogues it seemed a lot of these toys would basically play themselves. No building, pretending, or imagination required.

Toys that last generations

A few years ago, I remember listening to a podcaster who stated she sticks to traditional toys for her kids. She found they would play with the new toy for about a day, get board of it and return to their block, Legos, or dolls. She believed the new toys don’t engage a child’s imagination. They basically do everything while the kids watch. Because of this, the interest in these types of toys is lost after the novelty wears off. They are left in the toy box while the old favorites are brought back out.

I never really thought about this idea until my children became school age. However, I can attest that it is true. All to often (mostly at my husbands insistence) we have shelled out big bucks for an electronic item only to see them go back to playing Legos or Barbie’s after a few weeks.

That being said, this year, I was to late to the electronics party and most of these items were sold out.  Such a bad thing. When I look at the items my children play with most and always return to they are as simple as you can get, a notebook, pencil and crayons for drawing and writing stories.

These simple tools take them on new adventures, engage their creativity and give them endless hours of fun. Maybe my children won’t have the newest fad toy out there this year but they will have toys that have been fun for generations. They will have toys geared towards active play. Items to help them grow, imagine and create a world that is their very own. When holiday shopping this year, remember simple is better.

 

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This Halloween be a Grandma

PA250726It’s Halloween!!!!!

Today is a day were anyone can become anything. You can dress-up like a pirate, a witch or even a taco and no one will think your crazy. You can unleash your creativity, and weirdness and just have fun.

The year my family went as Telli Tubbies.

The year my family went as Telli Tubbies.

I am reminded of my grandmother, Mary Barile. Even at 95, she would still dress-up for Halloween. Not only would she dress up, she would also go to Halloween Horror nights. Yes…at 95! She was so much fun. So today, in the spirit of “Grandma Mary,” tap into your inner child, unleash your creativity, dress-up and have a great Halloween!

5 Lessons from a Slower Paced Summer

5 Lessons from a Slow Paced Summer

Slowing down to make better memories

When I had children I read all the popular parenting books and magazines. I found they are filled with articles and information about how to stimulate young minds, how to prepare them for the world and how to teach them to achieve. I know I’m not alone in feeling the almost overwhelming pressure to create a prodigy, turn my kid into the next great whatever, and teach them from day one how to achieve success. Yes moms, we all feel the pressure to ensure our child is gifted, special and excelling. But after several years at a forced breakneck pace of activity, I had to question did my children actually want this?

Are they benefiting from rushing from activity to activity. I admit at times I still want to be the “Tiger Mom.” Like most moms we  feel the need to equip our children with every advantage, every possibility. So they can strive to be the best, underbeachstand hard-work and excel. These are all great values to teach our children. However, here is a point were it can get away from us. There is a point when the want for them to succeed outpaces the need to let them just be a kid.

This summer my family has focused on slowing down. This is the first summer we did not have swimming lessons or some sort of scheduled activity to rush to. After a school year with too much to do, I was burnt out. I think my kids and me both needed a break, We needed the downtime to do well…nothing. Or whatever we choose to do. That’s is where this summer’s goal began.

[ctt title=”When the summer started we did not expect to have gained so much by doing nothing. ” tweet=”When the summer started we did not expect to have gained so much by doing nothing. ” coverup=”92aQ9″]Ok, really we did not do “nothing.” We just had nothing on the agenda (expect my daughters birthday at Disney, but event hat was finalized last minute.) We didn’t even plan our trip to see family till the last minute. For a chronic over scheduler this was a test for me. But as it turns we accomplished so much and learned more then we ever expected. Here is some of the lessons to learn from a slower paced summer.

  1. We learned it is ok to just play – There is a lot to be said for just playing the day away. Matter of fact there is a ressurance in the usefulness of unstructured imaginative play. It has been found to foster creativity, and the social and emotional growth of children. Plus spending a day letting the kids just play without feeling the need to make it edulational or “productive” takes the pressure off mom.
  2. We learned about each other – Not having scheduled activity meant less time in the car driving from place to place and more time to spend with each other.  It gave us as parents the opportunity have unhurried, less distracted conversations with our kids. This gave us the chance to discovering my daughter’s newfound love for Betty and Veronica comics and my son’s aptitude in racing games.
  3. We learned to enjoy the season – This summer we really took advantage of all of the things that summer represents. We spent more time swimming, in the pool and at water parks then ever before. It was such a blast.
  4. We learned to go with the flow – A last minute, impromptu trip to visit my sister at a beach front condo became the best trip of the summer. Spending time together ,watched the sunset, and BBQing. It was a relaxing unscheduled time just enjoying family and the summer.
  5. We learned to be in the moment – This summer, more then any other, we savored the moments spent with family, friends and each other. In the past I was so busy planning what we would do next. I was never fully present in the moment. My kids suffered through me shuffling them off to the next thing. Just so I  to check off another accomplishment on to-do list of activities. This was the first summer I went without a to-do list and let things flow as they came up.

This summer we spent day’s running outside with the neighbors, and sometimes we stayed in and played Legos for hours. We spent summer evenings going for long walks around our community and mornings splashing in the pool. We had long talks, cooking experiments and water slides. This summer we made memories, unplanned and unfetter by a schedule. I will admit these lessons probably impacted me more then my kids. But these memories and what we have learned from this summer will shape my approach to the year ahead. In the end it isn’t how much you get done, or even what you are doing. It’s who you spend the time with and the memories you make that matter most.

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Be A Kid Again. 5 Ways To Have A Child Like Summer

being a kid again this summerAdulting is hard. Paying taxes, earning an income, maintaining a home.  It’s hard to work all day  then June Clever it when we get home. With the end of the school year approaching and the beginning of summer right around the corner, I think back to childhood and summer break that seem to last forever. One of  the cruelest jokes of being an adult is losing our summer break. As an adult we lose this precious play time and are told to work the whole 12 months of the year. Since I am looking forward to a relaxing, fun summer, filled with freedom and frolicking (well, in between work of course,) I have decided to recapture that childlike summer feeling. I invite you to do the same, at least for a weekend. [ctt title=”Reclaim the childlike fun that adulthood stole from us” tweet=”Reclaim the childlike fun that adulthood stole from us” coverup=”Z18GM”] (Ok, I’m getting a bit dramatic now) But seriously, tap into your childlike creativity, find something you want to do just for the pure fun of doing it. For at least a weekend leave your adulting behind and think like a child again. Here are some ways I intend to do this:

  1. Go watch the boys of summer and catch a live baseball game –  Even if you can’t take in a Major League Game, you can always cheer on the local t-ball team that plays down the block. Nothing is funnier and more childlike then seeing a 4 year old throwing their baseball glove carelessly in the air as the ball rolls by them. Priceless!
  2. Go get some ice cream with your kids – No, I don’t mean the low-fat fro-yo, I’m watching my weight version of ice cream. The good stuff! You probably can’t do this all the time but once in a while get a cone full of real ice cream that melts in the summer heat, drips down your arm and tastes divine.
  3. Break out the sidewalk chalk – Channel your inner Burt (from Mary Poppins,) get on the ground and start drawing. Make a hopscotch board, a winding path, or race track. Ok maybe you can’t jump into the picture like Mary and Burt did. But you can totally pretend!
  4. Play Marco/Polo – Remember the summertime pool games you played as a kid. Try them out as adult. You might not look the coolest doing an underwater handstand, but you will defiantly have more fun.
  5.  Enjoy the great outdoors –  Remember all those summer cookouts as a kid where you would just run around and play as the sun sets. Then you made s’mores by the camp fire and looked at the stars. You can still do that if you take the time. Take one evening, make some s’mores on the grill  and sit outside with the kids trying to find the big dipper in the night sky.

I know we can’t act like a kid all the time but sometimes tapping into your inner child is the perfect way to put life into perspective and rediscover what is truly important.


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Yes, Mommy Can Play With You Now

don't forget to play “Mommy can you play with me now,” my daughter asked for the fourth time. For the forth time I tell her,” just let mommy finish with this, ” or “right after I’m done with this.” But recently, those times of promised play never came. For several months now I have been blowing off my children’s request to play. It was not intentional. I was wrapped up in other things that, at the time, seemed important. I figured I would find the time later, but each day was eaten up by “other things,” and play time never came.

Feeling exasperated and overly busy, I came to recognize a trend in myself. On line I found an arictle that discussed ways to tell if you are too busy. One in particular stood out to me.

“You are too busy when… those closest to you have stopped asking for your time.”

That is when it hit me. I have not been hearing the requests to play from my children anymore. As this concept dawned on me I was overcome with shame for what I have done. My children where my priority. They were where I wanted to be all the time. They were my life. Not the computer, not the dishes, not my cake business. I was wasting my precious time with them being consumed by other much less important things. When did I get to the point that there pleas to play fell on deaf ears? This had to change.

My daughter is now 8 years old. There is only a few more years where she will even want to play with me and here I was squandering that time with her. I had to fix this now. So here are three things I have done to be more aware of my childrens needs and be less busy with distractions.

  1. Get Up Early – I use to do this last year, but sleep got the better of me. A few missed early morning wake-ups become a half asleep, un-restful enterprise of tossing and turning in the hopes of getting an extra five minutes. I decided to be more intentional about getting up and getting things accomplished before my children are up, so that I would have more time to spend with them in a less hurried and distracted way
  2. Schedule In Playtime – Set a timer if you must, but make an appointment with your children. A date night, a mommy and me day, a play date, but schedule in this time so it becomes just as important (or more so.) as everything else in your day
  3. Stop! Put down the phone, get off the computer and listen to what they are saying –This is where the majority of my shame is coming from. My kids are only seeing part of my face hidden behind a computer screen. They are only staring at the top of my head, while I answer another text. I am distracted. They are not getting my full attention…and they know it.

Going forward when I get home from work, the phone goes off; the laptop gets put away until they are in bed. Whatever emergency might take place there are other ways I can be reached and the world will not stop spinning if I don’t answer that email until tomorrow. It can wait. My children cannot. They are my heart that lives outside my body and they deserve my time, energy and presence more than anyone or anything else.

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Baseball Season

This is in response to the daily post phot challenge “Seasons.”

wp-1455976331193.jpgThese dirty little shoes represent my son’s first year in T-ball. This season of my life is busy, and hurried but so full of love and life.

 

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More than a Dream

hands

Martin Luther Kings “I have a dream”speech was only 17 minutes long. But in those 17 minutes he managed to sum up what we all know in our hearts to be true. I am not black and I’m not going to claim that I understand or have experienced true, deep discrimination. This does not mean that the words spoken by Dr. King lack meaning or have no impact for me.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”- Martin Luther King Jr.,

This makes me think of my children playing with children of different races and naitionalities. To them the differences are just a simple thing like the color socks they have on. They care more about how they play, what they behave like and if they are fun.yck4grBdi

There was more to Dr. King’s message then just the “I have a dream” speech.

“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.” – Martin Luther King, Jr., Nobel Price Acceptance Speech

I don’t think racism is a difference in color anymore. It is almost as if it has grown beyond that to a hatred of ideology, personality, and whole being. People hate police regardless of black or white. We hear everyday about how terrorist hate others based on religious beliefs. I hold out hope for a “daybreak of peace,” from the hatred.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. “-  Sermon by Martin Luther King.

Maybe Dr. King never lost his belief that people still have good inside of them, even after they do awful things. I wish I could believe that as well. Unfortunately, I think some people are just evil in the depths of their soul. Our world today is so full of darkness and hate that it is important to remember there are people in it who are “the light.” For us to see the truth in this statement we need to shut off the news, stop listening to the Kardashians, and find the light that exists within us.

 

 

 

 

 

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