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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Reflection: Re-writing my parenting script

This post had me in tears:

The Important Thing About Yelling

The writer’s journey struck a chord in me.  I found her words extremely powerful.  They kicked up my need for reflection on the stage of parenting we are in.

I got really frustrated with my kids the other day.  Well, heck, I’ll be real.   I get frustrated with my kids on a lot of days.  On occasional days, I am filled with rage.  I literally feel so hot that I tell them I need a break and proceed to the pantry, sliding the door closed behind me.   I’m not kidding.   I usually forget to turn the light on and for some reason it helps to count to ten in the dark and get it together.  The trials of this stage of parenting must be a natural desensitization program for later years.  A built in opportunity to become a better communicator  for when my girls are teens and have roaring PMS.   God help my husband if we all get our periods at the same time.

At the end of the day, when everyone is quietly tucked into bed, I am filled with immense shame.  I am mortified  that I lost my cool and spoke extremely sternly to my 3 year old,  who was in tears because she couldn’t tell me the “right” way to put her socks on.  We were already late to get out the door due to other 3 year old clothing demands and  I still had to get the daredevil little sister dressed.  Who, by the way, taught herself how to climb up onto big sister’s raised twin bed over the course of the poorly managed sock situation.  It’s the top of a bunk bed with a railing so she literally did a chin up and toe claw to get up there.  This kid amazes me and  scares the bejeezes out of me.  What’s the big deal that we are another 20 minutes late?! Really.  I can’t believe that I lost it instead of recognizing the opportunity for modelling understanding and empathy.  These are two traits that do not come easily to me, just ask my husband.

I know I can’t nail it all of the time.  I’m trying so hard to re-write my natural consequence/punishment/just do it tendencies.  I hear myself veiling my threat in an almost kind way….  “I’m going to count to 3 and then I will help you do it”.  Also known as “get your arse over here and get the job done or I will physically haul you”.  Or my natural default to punishment. “Get in the car by the time I count to 3 or there is no Curious George today”.   These are not the worst strategies in the world and in our house, they have their place BUT, they cannot be my default.  They need to be the last resort.  The thing is, I KNOW the postive discipline techniques and have used them at work many times.  It is so much harder to implement them with my own kids.  I loose the inner battle too easily and bypass the positive techniques much too easily in the heat of the moment.

Anyway, long story short:  I’m a work in progress.  I know I always will be.  I’m impatient and frustrated with myself.  As a very good friend often reminds me, I also need to work on not being so hard on myself.

Some books on my nightstand that help remind me to try again tomorrow:

Happiest Toddler on the Block by Harvey Karp

Positive Discipline for Preschoolers by Jane Nelsen et al

Just Because It’s Not Wrong Doesn’t Make It Right by Barbara Coloroso

Mind in the Making by Ellen Galinsky

El's "mad" face... wonder if this is what I look like?!

“Mad” face… wonder if this is what I look like?!

I'm sure this daredevil will give me even more of a run for my money in the patience department!

I’m sure this daredevil will give me even more of a run for my money in the patience department!

I’ve also tried a parenting e-course.  It was such a convenient way to get the information at this stage in my life.  I could listen to it when the kids were napping and still get something done at the same time.  Laundry was folded, dinner prepped and I was armed with something new or reminded of an old tool that I could use.    Not Just Cute by Amanda Morgan.  An e-course on Positive Parenting.   I highly recommend it.

I recently tried out Parenting Power, a parenting resource based in Calgary.  They have modules available for purchase online.  I tried out the “Whining and Complaining” Module.  Although convenient to listen to like a podcast, I didn’t find any of the information to be new or different from what I was already doing.

For Calgarians, owner of Brilliant Beginnings and friend, Melanie Olorenshaw, offers a variety of parenting seminars.  Check it out.

Alberta Health Services Childbirth and Parenting Education also offers seminars geared towards the toddler stage and positive discipline.

Any other resources you can suggest?

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Mama’s Helper: Tool Tips

I’d like to regularly post some tools that make life in my home just a little easier.

Up first: Latchy Catchy!

Latchy Catchy

This little gem was discovered on pinterest.  It is a fabric cover that goes over the side of the door and keeps the latch in.  It prevents little hands from accidentally slamming the door.   My oldest little insists on doing many things herself  and closing doors is one of them.  She is not the most coordinated little soul so most of the time she ends up slamming the door.  The slam often wakes up her sleeping sister.   Luckily, the latchy catchy cushions the blow and has stopped  the accidental wake-ups.  Unfortunately, those little hand can open the door more easily with the latchy catchy because you don’t even have to turn the knob to pull the door open.  Not a good thing for those escape artists!!!
I did buy a couple from the Latchy Catchy Etsy store to see how they were constructed.  I then ended up sewing my own with some scrap  fabric, batting and hair elastics.

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Thank you!

I’ve been touched by the kind words I’ve received since making this thing public.

A sincere thank you.

Stay tuned for a new post tomorrow!