Simple Sunday-A Simple Toddler Calendar (for when you are away, or when you’re not)

A few weeks ago Dadda and I went on a little mini-break.  It was some highly prized alone time that we were really looking forward to.  It was not lost on us that our now two-year-old would be more aware of our absence than ever before.  This not something we do often and we wanted to make sure he was prepared for what was to come.  It was also important that he was able to feel some sense of control around our time away.

Being that children his age have a sense of time that is mostly limited to “yesterday” (as in that happened sometime before today) and “tomorrow” (that will happen sometime after today) our goal was to use his daily routine to help prepare him for what was to come.

To this end we made the following “calendar”.  I use that term loosely as it really is an amalgamation of his drawings, a few words and mostly large blocks of time before and after lunch and dinner.

Collin’s completed calendar

 

The process went as follows: As he watched I drew a skeleton of his time with his ‘Mimi’ and away from us.  I filled in the major parts of the day and he helped pick ‘icons’ that represented these parts of the day so he could ‘read’ them on his own.  Following that he and his Mimi went through their time together and they both drew pictures of what they would do during open blocks of time.  As you can see he took great pride in his depictions of things like swings at the park, grass, or a picnic.  Yes it looks to us like he just drew all over it but to him it was really his calendar.

Though we have nothing to measure against I feel confident that he was more comfortable with us a way since he had a visual image of when we would be coming home.  He was free to play and free from worry.  Sure he missed us, but he didn’t seem to have anxiety over it.

Finally the calendar served a second purpose.  Playing at the park the evening after we went home he said he “had feelings Mamma Dadda gone”.  We were able to talk about how we missed each other and then he was able to go to the calendar to show us the fun stuff he had done.  He loved talking all about his time with Mimi. The calendar was up for over a week after we got home, often discussed and revisited.

I would totally use it again, even if we are not separated, just to help him deal with the passing of time in other situations.

Happy Sunday all! Hope the beginning of summer is treating you all well!

Melissa

 

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Simple Sunday-Getting it together

The last few weeks have been those kind of weeks.  You know, the ones where you are barely hanging on to the day-to-day maintenance of the house, feeding your family and keeping your sanity? I can’t even say why really.  I know that I always get a little thrown off when there is a big event ( I think this build up then difficult-to-rejoin-life-again habit runs in the family).

It was Collin’s birthday at the beginning of the month and his amazing Auntie Mandy and soon-to-be Uncle Jon came to stay with us.  I was a little thrown by the immense amount of clean up, shopping/meal planning and new-found viruses that descended in the week following.  All in all though it wasn’t that bad.

I guess if I had to place blame on my lack of organization these last few weeks it would be on my lazy and wonderful choice to just not care for a while.  To laugh with my newly two-year-old son and ever so supporting husband.  To not judge myself because I come home too tired at the end of a long day to write an inspiring and thoughtful blog post (though I swear they are up there…floating around somewhere).

The benefit has been that I have found that burning bright in Collin’s eyes is a new light.  It is as if the spirit that was in him from birth is just now exploding out of him.  The jolly head bops that always accompanied any musical interlude have now given way to full-fledged dance moves (seriously I swear he choreographs this stuff!) He is just more HIM than he ever has been and I have been relishing getting to know him these last weeks.

In honor of keeping it simple this Sunday I am now working on ways of organizing my life so that I am able to get done what I need to do, what is most important to me and what keeps the rhythm of the family humming along.  While leaving time to continue to rediscover my son everyday (and maybe my husband too if we’re lucky) First off for me was to simplify my meal planning.

We have been eating a mainly vegetarian, sometimes vegan, locally grown, as-whole-foods-as-possible-due-to-time-and-financial-constraints diet for a while now and we really have been putting more effort into it since the beginning of the  year.  This has been great fun, but planning a menu can take me two hours and it is complicated to try out new recipes in the hour I have between arriving home and putting dinner on the table.  To that end I have mocked up a simple meal plan, dinners only, to help me keep a rhythm without getting boring.  I was inspired by the “Organize your whole life” series that has just started over at Modern Parents Messy Kids (great site, btw!). Through them I found this great post that was right up my ally, this is the main template I used to make my own meal plan (minus the shopping list on the side, I use my phone for this). This organizing thing is not my forte and I’ll never claim it to be.  I just want to figure out a plan that works for us!

Any advice? What has worked for you? How do you decide what needs organization and where you should just simply get rid of!?!

Thanks for reading! Happy Simple Sunday 🙂

Simple Sunday-The KISS method

I feel as if we have fallen head-first into the holiday season. We had a great long Thanksgiving weekend with my side of the family, including a three-day stay with Collin’s Auntie Mandy and Soon-to-be Uncle Jon. This week has been filled with tree lightings, snow and santa sightings. Collin is excited, he feels the happy energy of love, family and music filling our house. Every year is more fun with him around. I enjoy the changing of the seasons more as we look forward to the exciting moments we will share as a family.
As any mom knows the holidays are not all laughter, singing and cookies. It takes a lot of work to prepare for each event, outing and gift exchange.  Many days I feel a pull to do more, plan more and spend more.  Then I am reminded that this is not what the holidays are about.  Particularly at his age what he needs is for us to slow down, enjoy the moments and celebrate the small, but joyous moments of the season.

When I get too consumed by commercialism I always have Daddy there to remind me to K.I.S.S. or keep it simple stupid! Simple is usually more memorable in the long run anyway.

In the last six years of teaching preschool every holiday season I see families who really enjoy the time and families literally on the edge of cracking…this is what I have learned from them.

Here are five ways to K.I.S.S. this holiday season if you have a toddler:

1) Don’t over schedule! With only four weekends in the month of December every single choice you make will affect the availability of your time, patience and self.  Only say yes to events that you think you truly will enjoy or that will have meaning to you and your kids.  I know, easier said than done, but it is worth a shot.

2) Keep your child’s development/age in mind when planning events.  Try to be sensitive to their sleep schedules.  Is it worth it to stay up to spend a few extra hours with a much-loved but little seen family member? Probably.  Is it worth it to miss a nap (with cuddles and a nice book) to stand in line for the mall santa? Probably not.

3) Plan events through the season that will only involve your immediate family.  Quite time for just Mom, Dad, and kiddos can be hard to come by these days but for most younger children this is really all they really want. Allow loads of extra time for these activities so your child can move at his/her own pace and explore what they want.

4) Allow your child to be involved on their level.  If they want to do something, let them, even if it isn’t the “right” way to do it.  Let them have ownership of the holiday.  Does that mean some cookies may end up headless? Ornaments may drag on the floor? Yep.  Will they be more engaged and proud of their participation? Yep.

5) Incorporate the season into your daily life.  Whatever is most joyous for you, singing, cooking, crafting, pick something and do a little bit each day.  It will help keep your heart in the right place 🙂

Merry Christmas!!