Tag Archives: independence

Stop the mealtime get-ups!

Why it has taken me so long to figure this out, I HAVE NO IDEA.  We have a lot of kids, which means there are many requests and many voices at the dinner table. In fact, sometimes I’m so sound sensory overloaded at the end of the day I have to turn off the background music.

I generally love family style serving but things have to run differently when I’m solo.  Even with helper hands, it just takes too many trips to the table to bring each serving dish, plates & utensils, and drinks for everyone.  Inevitably, just as I sit down to join the family and take my first bite, I hear “Mama, I don’t have a drink. Can I have some water please”….. this is a cascade and the others come up with their own requests. Let’s just put a disclaimer out there:  I am an OT and I preach independence.  My kids are pretty independent and very capable of getting their own water.  There are also frequent spills. I know spilling is part of the learning process but realistically, when I’m outnumbered 4:1 and I know I have to get them all to bed on my own, I JUST CAN’T HANDLE A PREVENTABLE SPILL.  I haven’t even mentioned fitting in home reading, piano practice, nor finding the elusive overdue library book, signing agendas, and filling out forms that they forgot to give me 3 days prior and now they are due tomorrow.

SO, I’ve started leaving a pitcher of water on the table, along with glasses next to it.  And it’s worked! My apologies if this is common knowledge – I’m just a little slow to the party.



New plan for solo dinners:

  1. Plate kid dishes in the kitchen and each kid brings their own plate to the table.
  2. Permanent water pitcher on the table with glasses next to it.
  3. Little vase with a bunch of forks permanently at the table.

Already, this has prevented at least 3 get-ups for me during dinner.  Refills are right there and the kids can do it themselves with less likelihood of spills.   Win-win-win!

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Little Big Girls: Kids Snack Cupboard

Our days are somewhat chaotic of late.  Soloing three kids, ages three and under is a game changer.   Let’s just say I aim to shower every second day.

To survive, I’ve been trying to create opportunities for my big girls (2 & 3yo) to be independent.  They are kind of short and not terribly coordinated so I need to scaffold tasks for them.  I try to prep all the steps that could cause an independence failure.  I want them to be successful with tasks on their own; I love the proud exclamation “Mama, look!” after they’ve done something on their own.   More importantly, I want them to peacefully do things together!  Frustration tolerance is at an all time low for my little people.   My 2 year old has the tendency to lose her marbles at the drop of a hat so things need to be more than straight forward. Loosing her marbles = scream crying to the tempo of her trembling, angry muscles.  Frequently, the muscle contractions lead to jumping as high as she can to stomp the floor.  You got it, all these actions happen while she screams. The concurrent flying, wild blonde hair is quite a sight.  Needless to say, it’s not the easiest situation to deal with when I am nursing the littlest.

Voila : A kids only snack cupboard stocked with food and tools to get into the food.

Snack time has been challenging lately.  I either forget to put one out until it is almost supper OR we just plain haven’t fit it in.  Tantrums and meltdowns are always THE WORST when basic needs haven’t been met.  If my kids have a topped up sleep tank, a full belly and an empty colon, we are golden ….. most of the time.   I can also supervise from the living room while they choose and prep their snack, not to mention the added bonus of  improved snack consumption.

I’ve placed a small rubbermaid bin in one of my low kitchen cabinets and filled it with bowls, cups/water bottles, snacks and scissors.  I’ve started with store bought snacks like Annie’s bunny crackers, the Costco Preventia heart cookies, fig bars, crunchy snap peas and apples.  They like to use their scissors to cut open the bags.  I plan to add more homemade goods as soon as I get a little more sleep.  Likely something like fruit leather, muffins, cheese spinach crackers etc.  I might even go so far as getting a small jar of peanut butter and adding some spoons or a butter knife.

So far, we’ve had good success.  The girls like to pick their snack and put it in my bag  when we get ready for an outing.  They will also grab a snack on their own in the afternoon.  The 3 year old can fill a cup with water from the fridge dispenser and the 2 year old is competitive enough to get a stool to do the same.  I figure water all over the floor is a small risk  to take.  Although, god help me if they both want to stand on the stool at the same time.

Let me know if you’ve got other independence ideas that I can try out!


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