- Pennies in the bank: Each of my boys has a bank that their Papa and Grama Di gave them. We keep them on the dining room table. I keep a cup of pennies on top of the fridge. Each time a boy replies to us with "Yes Ma'am or Yes Sir" immediately, they get to put a penny in their bank. This has helped curb back-talking greatly. I can also use the pennies for other things, like catching them doing something very kind of polite or on random occasions, offering them a reward to help me with something (like cleaning up toys.) Then, we take a few pennies out to give at church and they can take the rest of them to thrift store where they can pick out a toy for as little as twenty cents. They are very motivated by the banks!
- Activity packs: At the suggestion of my friend Angelica, I have been putting together little "activity packs." They might contain a few crayons and some preschool worksheets. Or some stickers and a place to stick them. Or maybe I have some bracelets to bead. It doesn't matter what the activity is. I put them in gallon ziplock bags and then put all the bags in the basket. Whenever I need something to kill fifteen minutes, I tell them they can go get an activity packet. I especially use them when I want to sit down and eat my food without having to get up for a gazillion things. They can come sit next to me and we can work through an activity together. I take the used bag and put it back in the activity box, and when I think of a new activity, I have a bag right there.
- Scanning: I have a drawer at my desk. I put all the things the boys make (after they hang on the refrigerator for awhile) in that drawer. Then, when I get some time, I scan them and save them. After that, the creation goes to a relative or in the garbage. I only keep a few that are too priceless to throw away. This helps keep mess down quite a bit.
- Cooking together: Elijah especially, loves, and I mean LOVES to help JB or me in the kitchen. I have been making a point to ask the boys if they want to help me throughout the day. Whether it be emptying the dishwasher, vacuuming, or cooking. This helps keep them occupied for a few minutes and it something different to do.
- Avoiding videos: We don't really have TV here. We have one station for kids, but we never really turn it on. Instead we use videos. I have been trying to use videos as an absolute last resort. Not a "sort of" last resort. I try to use other ideas first and save the videos for a moment that I am really desperate to have them "babysat" by a video. This makes the reward all the greater.
- Fifteen minute play time: I have been taking up to two times a day and requiring the boys to pick a place to play. They can pick the playroom upstairs (formally Veronica's room). They can pick the library. They can pick the downstairs playroom. Or they can pick the clubhouse (play area under the stairs.) They take turns picking first, and the other boy cannot pick the same place to play. I then set the timer for fifteen minutes, and they have to play in that assigned area with whatever toys they choose, for fifteen minutes. This helps me when I need to get something done or when they are fighting and need a break from each other. They really enjoy this time, especially Isaac, who thoroughly likes when Elijah is not in his hair.
- Pre-set outfits: I did this with the boys when they were little, but I am really doing it with Abigail. Girls' outfits have so many pieces. So I am going ahead and setting out outfits that go together. I put some upstairs and some downstairs. And then I grab an outfit as I need to, instead of having to rummage through different places to find something that goes together. I have also been contemplating, in our new house, keeping the kids clothes in the laundry room. In other words, make their closet the laundry room. This will help me avoid moving pieces from laundry room to bedroom to bathroom, back to laundry room, etc.
- At their level: I have been putting things that the boys need often, at their level. For instance, their plates and cups and silverware are in a lower cabinet. Their shoes are in a drawer by the front door. Jackets in a drawer as well. Socks are in a drawer they can get into. So are their pajamas. This allows me to say, "Please get the cup out you'd like to use." Or, "Please put your shoes in the drawer," and they can do it. Little things that they can do really add up.
- Exercise galore: Whenever we can, I have the boys ride their three-wheel little bikes to a location. Obviously, not everyone can do this depending on where you live. But I can! And so we do it. We try to walk and get exercise and get more tired whenever I can think of a way to do it.
- Do it yourself: I am really making a point to have my kiddos learn to do more things for themselves. Anything that they can do themselves is something I don't need to help them with. I have them take off whatever clothes they can. I have them put on whatever clothes they can. We are working harder and harder at getting shoes on by ourselves. Brushing our own teeth. Putting their dishes back in the sink.
- Counting with vitamins: My kids have very little understanding of time. So we have started countdowns using Flinstones vitamins. Isaac has a vitamin for every day until his birthday in a little container. Elijah has a vitamin for every day until our move to the Azores in a little container. This means that when they are gone, the time has arrived!
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Newest Mother Tricks
Having three kids and no Veronica has forced me to come up with some strategies to make life a bit easier. I just finished reading The Duggars: 20 and Counting. I plan to do a post complteely devoted to this book and what I learned about it in the future, but no matter what you think about this family, they are raising a lot of kids and raising them well. She had some good ideas and mixed with some of my own ideas, I have come up with these ten things that are really making my life easier as of late:
at 9:10 AM