Posted in Parenting

The Magical Tent

IMG_0077We all know that we should limit screen time for our kids.  But with the amounts of screens that can be found in the typical North American house and the hectic lives that many of us have, it can sometimes be difficult.  We’ve fallen into the trap quite a few times of allowing Charles more time with the iPad than we should.  Each time, we’ve had to wean him off the screen using various methods.

This time ’round, I’m trying to get him to do other things than play with my iPad in the morning.  You see, I rather like to sleep a little later than 6:00 am whereas he is wide awake by that time.  Because he was tired of being sent back to his room when he would come wake us up in the morning (he has a Gro Clock and should stay in his room until 6:15) he figured that if he got up quietly and sat in the living room with my iPad without waking anyone up, he could get up when he wanted (such a smart little man!).

However, since I want to encourage him to do other things when he wakes up, I have decided to set up a “magical” tent.  Basically, when he goes to bed at night, I take 5-10 minutes to set up some of his toys in the tent: a big robot made out of Duplo blocks, his road carpet with some cars…when he wakes up, he just needs to open the tent to see what’s hiding inside.

Getting ready to set up his toys.
Getting ready to set up his toys.

We’ve been doing this for two mornings now and it has been great.  Both times, when I woke up, he was happily playing in his tent instead of sitting on the couch with the iPad.  He wakes up excited to see what will have turned up in his tent.  I’m hoping that in the long run, this will create new habits for him.  Whatever happens, though, I’m having fun with the idea of the magical tent right now and he is too.

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This is what he will be waking up to tomorrow morning.

How do you control screen time with your kids?

Posted in Parenting

5 Toddler-Approved Activities To Do In Or Around The House

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Toddlers can be a lot of fun…provided you have some activities to keep them occupied.  And, let’s face it, toys are good and all, but toddlers seem to prefer the novelty of new activities (or at least, mine does).  Going to play centers and on other outings can be super fun, but outings like those can get expensive and so are generally reserved for special occasions.  The great thing about toddlers is that they love to learn new things.  In that spirit, I’ve put together a list of five activities that I have done on numerous occasions with my toddler.  They are all toddler-approved (well, approved by my toddler anyways).

1.  Water-painting

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It doesn’t get any simpler than this, folks.  All you need is water, a paintbrush and a container.  This no-mess activity is always sure to get my toddler happy.  We usually go out on the balcony and he has fun “painting” the various surfaces he finds including the wood, brick, patio set and patio door.  This is ideal on a hottish to hot day.

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2.  Going to the local library

I don’t know about your toddlers, but mine loves stories so it was only a question of time before I brought him to the local library.  This activity is no-cost for us as we can easily walk to the library (I put him in his little wagon and pull him for the 20 minute walk) and taking out books is free for the residents of our city.  All you need is a citizen card (which is free of charge).

Carte citoyen3.  Have some fun in the kitchen

The first time I brought Charles into the kitchen with me was when he started solids at 6 months of age.  Of course, back then, he was content to sit on the counter and hold onto the food while I got everything ready.

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Is it messy?  You bet!

Does it take a longer time than doing it sans toddler?  Absolutely!

Is it worth it?  There is no doubt in my mind!

Besides the joy at being allowed to do a “grown-up” activity and the pride at being able to prepare his food by himself, it’s also a great activity to hone fine motor skills.  Here are a few shots of Charles preparing his cheese-less mini pizzas.

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4.  Get artsy

Our little guy loves to draw.  In our bookcases, we keep a box of crayons atop a stack of paper.  When he feels like drawing, he grabs his art material and settles down somewhere (on the ground, at his little table, at the dining room table…) to create some toddler masterpieces.

Besides drawing/coloring, finger-painting is also a hit.

P1000817I went ahead and bought a set of ten small crayola gouache bottles and have turned this potentially very messy activity into a limited mess one by shaking the bottle to get some paint in the cap and handing over only the cap to my toddler.

When he’s tired of working with a certain color, I wipe his fingers with a damp washcloth and start over with another color.  I’d say that this technique allows for some pretty nifty results, wouldn’t you?

The next Van Gogh perhaps?
The next Van Gogh perhaps?

5.  Go out and about

Going for walks is an activity that my son really enjoys.  He likes it even more when the walk leads to the local playground or some puddles.  Spending some time outside where he can have the freedom to run around, push his limits (think going down a big kid slide on his own), discover fabulous things (like acorns, sticks and ladybugs) is an awesome way to get him to spend some pent-up energy and sleep well during the night.

What do you do when it’s raining and your toddler insists that he wants to go outside and you want to stay inside?

Stick him on the balcony! 😉

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What are some of your toddler’s favourite activities to do in or around the house?

Posted in Parenting

The Mama Bear Effect aka My Standoff With A Bird

When we got home today, Little Dude got straight to the point of requesting he be allowed to partake in one of his most favouritest activities: playing on the balcony.  Rain or shine, hot or cold, this is the one activity he looks forward to the most when we get home.  It’s win-win ’cause he’s outside and I can get some things done (like supper and preparing his daycare bag for the next day) while keeping an eye on him.

Today, though, the little guy hesitated before opening the screen door once I opened the heavy glassed door for him.  As soon as he was ready to head out, we heard a bird screaming.  Loudly.  A few seconds later, said bird started swooping right in front of our screen door screaming at us.  The little guy figured he’d lay low and observe this interesting phenomenon from inside the house.  Eventually though, the bird must have decided that we humans weren’t *that* threatening and flew off into our backyard maple tree.

Charles immediately decided that it was a good time to head out onto the balcony, but as soon as he was out, he started pointing excitedly at something.

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A blue jay chick

Yup.  We had a blue jay chick just chillin’ about five feet away from us.  The crazy birdie that had been swooping and screaming at us initially was most definitely the mama.

And so started the stare-off.  Blue jay chick was observing human chick intently.  Human chick was observing blue jay chick intently.  Mama jay was observing blue jay chick and human chick intently.  Mama human was observing human chick, mama chick and blue jay chick intently.  Mama jay stayed perched atop a branch – probably deciding that the human chick (who had moved on to other things on the balcony) wasn’t a threat and mama human (who had read or heard that blue jays were known to be aggressive) decided to stay just inside the threshold of the home to intervene if needed.

Mama jay making sure her birdie is ok.
Mama jay making sure her birdie is ok.

Blue jay chick started feeling more confident.  Of course, that probably has something to do with the fact that his mama wasn’t swooping ’round constantly and the fact that my son had become completely uninterested in it (because a squirt bottle is much more interesting that a baby bird) and began exploring the balcony.

Sitting on the edge of our kitchen window.
Sitting on the edge of our kitchen window.

And then, it happened.

Blue jay chick explored some more and got stuck in a part of our clothesline.  Blue jay chick started screaming wildly.  Mama jay started screaming wildly.  Human chick looked at human mama.  Human mama grabbed human chick and put him inside the house.  Blue jay chick kept screaming wildly.  Blue jay mama started swooping around her chick screaming and not knowing what to do to get him unstuck.

Human intervention became necessary.  I grabbed a hand towel from the kitchen and went out on the balcony.  I planned on using it to swish above my head to avoid being attacked by a panicked mama bird while I worked on freeing her baby.  It worked.  Mama blue jay screamed at me and swooped near me, but couldn’t get close because of the hand towel that I was waving around and I managed to separate the line from the metal bar enough for the little birdie to get free.  I then promptly returned inside the safety of my home as the mama bird screamed at me for getting near her baby and my son sat on my lap wondering what in the world was going on.

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This is where the little chick got caught. Wedged right between the green clothesline wire and the vertical metal bar.

After that, blue jay mama stayed close to her chick and while the chick continued to explore our balcony, it remained very far from our clothesline.

The human chick playing with a squirt bottle.
The human chick playing with a squirt bottle.
Posted in Parenting, Toddler

Our Easter Sunday

We had a wonderful day today despite the fact that the little guy is sick.  The weather was very nice and we didn’t have to get dressed in a whole bunch of layers to go outside.  Because, of course, now that Charles knows how fun it can be outside, he wants to go all the time.

I got him dressed and the first thing he spotted when we crossed the street to the park in front of our house was a bird.  He, of course, wanted to get up close and personal and try to touch it.

The bird mustn’t have felt that the little guy chasing it was a predator, because it stayed on the ground and just kept its distance on foot.

After a while, I grabbed my son and walked with him to the park.  He had lots of fun climbing up the stairs, going down the slide, looking at me through the clear plastic bubble window and going on the swings.

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When we got back inside, the little guy had some water and a snack and I had fun styling his hair (because it’s long enough now that I can actually do something with it!).

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We also had a lovely lunch with my sister, brother and grand-parents.

As the day went by though, Charles became more and more whiny and his cold was clearly gaining some ground on him.  So, we used a three-fold approach to help him feel less miserable.

  1. Lots of mommy cuddles (because, in his book, daddy cuddles just don’t seem to work when he has a cold…)
  2. Letting him eat what he wants (because he pretty much outright refuses to eat anything when he’s sick and my partner and I prefer he eats something to nothing)
  3. Swapping bath time with a shower with mommy (combining mommy cuddles, a back massage with the stream of water and clearing up his nose with the steam that the shower produces!)

Crossing my fingers for Little Dude to kick his cold in the butt during the night!

How was your Easter Sunday?

Posted in Parenting

Splish Splash!

The little guy has discovered a love of spring.  Yesterday his daycare was closed so we hung out together.  He was thrilled to be able to walk around and explore without being stuck in a big snowsuit and mountains of snow he couldn’t climb. We made the most of the awesome whether and walked to daddy’s office to bring him some supper (it’s income tax season so Mr. Accountant has been needing to put in a whole lot of extra hours).

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I’d brought the small stroller so that I could put the little guy in if he got tired of walking.  Of course, Mr. Independant had other ideas and pushed the stroller for almost the full half-kilometer that separates our house from the daddy’s workplace.

I also got him to try on his new rain boots.  Oh boy, such joy!  His face was priceless when he heard the splashing noise it made when he explored the small puddle in our driveway.  After that, there was no stopping him: he decided to explore each and every puddle in our street.

Of course, “exploring” also meant getting up, close and personal with the water by kneeling and sitting in it *facepalm*.

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And by the time he was ready to go back indoors, he was both very wet and very pleased with himself.

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