Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Shoe organization - front entry

**I'm so excited to announce that I've started a youtube channel discussing everything home making. My channel name is Surviving As Mom.  Check it out!!

Seeing a pile of shoes near the front door, or having shoes scattered around drives me nuts.  It looks very sloppy and it is easy to lose shoes.  Especially with 3 young children, it is easy to lose track of shoes.  With a little effort, it is pretty easy to keep shoes neat and organized.  It also teaches the kids to be responsible for their belongings.

It's taken me a few tries, but I think I've finally gotten the shoe mess under control.  I use a few methods...

In the winter, I use one basket for my kids'  sneakers, boots and slippers.  The other basket is for their winter gear like scarves, gloves and hats.  I use two separate baskets for myself and my husband for our winter gear.  They are stored on the shelf at the top of my front closet.  Our sneakers, boots and slippers are nearly organized on the closet floor.  I have a third basket for our sandals and flip flops that I keep in the closet.  I usually keep it in the closet during the winter and bring it out to swap with the winter basket containing the gloves, hats and scarves for the summer.

In the summer, I use one basket for the kids' sneakers and the other basket for everyone's sandals and flip flops.  You can see this arrangement in the picture below.  The small basket in the middle is for the kids' sunglasses.  The two baskets on the floor are for the baby's toys.  All of the baskets are stored in and under the console table in the front entry.  Dressy shoes for myself and my husband are stored in our bedroom closet. 

When my twins were small, they had the same shoes.  For that, I gave them each their own basket.  Once they had different style shoes, I started using my current system.  

It's simple, but it makes a huge difference with organization.  I also almost never lose shoes anymore.  The trick to that is to make sure the kids remember to always put their shoes in the right place.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

It's ok to let your kids watch tv. I recommend it!

**I'm so excited to announce that I've started a youtube channel discussing everything home making. My channel name is Surviving As Mom.  Check it out!!

I know many new moms who say "my child will never watch tv" and I'm sure they really mean it.  They feel that tv is bad, it poisons the child's mind, creates laziness, etc.  For some, this is very true.  However, as the parent, we are in complete control of what our children are exposed to, at least until they are teenagers.  With some limitations and the right choices, tv can be extremely beneficial to young, growing minds.

I have twins, so tv was a wonderful distraction for them when I needed some time to fold laundry, prepare meals, go to the bathroom, etc.  I only allowed them to watch very specific shows that were designed to benefit my growing babies.  They watched mostly Nick Jr., Disney Jr., and now Sprout.  I chose educational shows such as Sesame Street, Team Umizumi, Bubble Guppies, Dora, Max & Ruby and Special Agent Oso, to name a few.  If you watch these shows with your children, you'll see that they teach letters, numbers, colors, shapes, science, geography, language and life lessons.  By 3 years old, my boys knew all of their letters, numbers, shapes, colors, and even told me about the planets in the solar system.  At times, I learned things from them that I didn't even know about.  I can say with absolute certainty that these things were learned from tv.  Of course, I teach them things as I go, but I can credit a lot of it to them watching tv.

I strictly limit the content of what they watch.  I don't allow "grown-up" shows, which includes violence, sexual content, foul language, heavy drama, etc.  There is no need for them to see these things so young and it won't benefit them in any way.  My husband and I don't watch our own tv shows until the kids are in bed and they know they aren't allowed to watch grown-up shows or movies.  My only exception to this is when I'm watching my science or medical shows on TLC, NatGeo, Science or Discovery Health.  I let them watch people brought into the ER with gunshots, stab wounds, car accident trauma, and anything else that is cause for emergency.  This allows me to teach them about anatomy, healthy, medicine and danger in general.  This also includes death.  Because of my profession as a Funeral Director, I am very open with my children about death.  I've been questioned about exposing my kids to these things, but I see it as education, as do my kids.  It doesn't help anyone to shelter them from reality.

I've had to loosen up some of my restrictions as they get older.  Now they are into super heroes, so I allow them to watch the new superhero movies that have come out, like Spiderman, Thor, Avengers, Hulk, etc.  These are still kid friendly movies, but they do have some violence.  I just don't let them watch "gore" in movies.  I don't mind them seeing blood, especially since they watch my medical shows, but I don't want it to be extreme violent gore.  They don't need to see someone's head being blown up with brains splattered everywhere.  This is also so they don't think violence is fun or entertaining.

I make sure to remind my kids regularly of the difference between tv and reality.  They know that a lot of what they see on tv is fake or pretend.  They know that the characters are played by actors pretending to be that character for the movie.  They know the difference between my real medical shows and pretend movies.  Too many kids today don't know the difference and I think that is the cause for a lot of violent acts and crimes committed by kids and young adults.  They see people on tv kill others and think its ok and even fun.  My children know the difference!

The same is true for video games.  They ONLY play kid games like Disney Infinity, Lego Marvel, Plants vs. Zombies and a few other similar games.  My husband is not allowed to play his adult games until they are in bed.  I absolutely do NOT allow them to see violence in video games.  I do not want them to learn that killing is fun.  It is NEVER ok to view shooting, beating, hurting someone as fun!

My twins are 5 now (the baby is 2) and to this day, they have never seen anything inappropriate on tv.  There was one exception... when they stayed at my sister's for the night, she let them watch Sharknado.  I didn't know till the next day and I was NOT happy, but I can't change what happened.  However, I made sure they were very clear on the facts.  Sharks cannot be sucked up into a tornado and fly around and it is NOT ok to go around killing things with a chainsaw!  The movie was pretend and it was funny to them.  Other than that, their exposure has been strictly limited.  I can say that they have benefited from this practice overall.  It doesn't take that much effort as a parent to control their exposure.  If more people did what I do, I think our youth would be a little more well rounded and less aggressive.  TV can be a wonderful tool for learning if used correctly.  It doesn't take much, but it needs to happen.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Teaching my children Tolerance of those different from them

**I'm so excited to announce that I've started a youtube channel discussing everything home making. My channel name is Surviving As Mom.  Check it out!!

In a world where everyone is so different, it is important that we teach our children tolerance and understanding of others.  Whether it is race, handicaps, religion, language, body shape, sexual orientation, rich or poor, it is an important lesson that too many people don't teach.

I was bullied terribly as a child, starting in the 2nd grade till the 9th grade.  If stopped when I finally stood up for myself and got into a fist fight with the bully.  Everyone gained respect for me after that and the bullying stopped from everyone.  I had glasses, crazy hair, buck teeth, and I dressed a bit crazy.  I was also very thin, quiet and just an easy victim.  It was very traumatic and painful, so I make sure to teach my children that bullying is NEVER ok.  I also teach them that if they see someone being bullied, they should get involved and defend the victim, as long as it's not dangerous for them.

I teach my children that everyone is different, and that's ok.  They know that they have their own differences (one wears glasses), and those difference make them unique.  They know it is never ok to make someone feel bad for being different.  They know that people have different religious and cultural beliefs, even if we don't agree with those beliefs.  They know that some men marry men and some women marry women.  I don't call it weird or strange.  It's simply different from what we do in our family.  When we see someone in a wheelchair, they know it's because their legs don't work, or they are too sick or weak to walk.  They know that it's ok to be polite and say hello to them.  Especially if that person is a child, because it will make them feel happy.  We've come across deaf children and I explain that they cannot hear and they communicate using sign language.  Just like a blind person uses a long stick to help them navigate since their eyes don't work.  Most people hush children whey they ask questions about "different" people an the child is left wondering what is going on they it becomes a dirty word.  That's not helping anyone.  I use those opportunities to explain these differences to my kids in a respectful manner.  I've noticed that the person in question is appreciative of this.  I even encourage my kids to ask people of their differences, rather than hide it.  If they have a better understanding of things, they will have more respect for people.

There have been instance where talking about a person's difference is unacceptable, and I try to teach them that too.  They know that they shouldn't talk about people who are fat, bald, smelly, "ugly", etc.  I tell them it's ok to notice and think of these things, but it's not ok to talk about it, at least in front of them.  They know that it can hurt someone's feelings and that's not nice.  They seem to get it.

Children learn from the adults around them and it's important that we set a good example.  Tolerance needs to be taught so we can all exist peacefully together.  I'm not perfect when it comes to this.  I was raised with certain ideas about different groups because that's what I learned from my family.  I know these ideas are wrong, so I can only try to change my thinking.  That's why it's important for me to teach my children complete tolerance so they are not programmed with unfair ideas about people.  It's one of the ways I can contribute positively in this world.

How I trained myself to NOT yell at my kids

**I'm so excited to announce that I've started a youtube channel discussing everything home making. My channel name is Surviving As Mom.  Check it out!!

Let me start by saying, this is a relatively new thing for me.  I'd say I've been using this method for only the last 2 years.  As with everything about parenting, I learned this through trial and error.  Unfortunately, my twins were the guinea pigs along the way.  Also, with the birth of my third child, I didn't want to expose a newborn to yelling, so it was a good time to start changing my ways.

I'll admit, I was a yeller.  I would shout and yell at my boys for nearly everything.  If you think of the toddler years and all the trouble they get into during that time, there was a lot of yelling.  I first noticed something needed to change when I wasn't getting the result I was looking for when trying to correct and discipline my kids.  They'd usually ignore me more and carry on with their activity.  After a while, they started to show fear at my yelling.  I wasn't happy with that reaction at all.  Even though I wanted them to stop what they were doing and pay attention to me, I definitely did not want them to fear me.  I'd also felt very guilty for yelling at them.  I even tried giving a smack on the hand or tooshie, but all that did was hurt me more than them, so I stopped that pretty fast.  Yelling was also an automatic reaction for me (and my husband).  I think its a normal reaction for most people who are frustrated, angry, stressed, etc., so teaching myself not to yell has helped me in other parts of my life as well.

It took training on my part to stay calm and not yell as a first reaction.  I had to constantly remind myself of this.  I taught myself that when I feel the urge to yell, instead I should lower my voice and speak more calmly.  This is great for a few reasons.  One good thing is that it helps me to just stay calm in general.  When you yell, you get more anxious and aggressive.  My children also respond better.  They listen better and they are more responsive to my requests and demands.  If you yell, children shut down and block you out.  When I lower my voice and speak slowly, they pay more attention and listen better.  We also gain mutual respect for each other.  Because I'm not yelling at them like animals, they know I respect them as little people and they respect me more as an authority figure.  Many people don't think this is important with kids, but it is.  When you respect them, they respect you.  It's also good for their self esteem and confidence.  I don't want to break them down.  I just want them to respect my authority.  This has improved our relationship too.  We all have a better understanding of each other.

In addition to NOT yelling, I explain things so they can understand and learn to use their own logic.  Even if you don't think your child will "get it", explain anyway.  Eventually they will understand.  For example, instead of telling my kids "Don't touch that", I'll explain "Don't touch that plug because it is dangerous.  You can get electrocuted and it will hurt a lot."  Or instead of saying "Don't go in the pool", I'll explain "Going in the pool without a grown up is very dangerous.  If you go in, you will sink and you can die because you can't breathe."  Some people think it's harsh to use death as a consequence, but it's important for them to know serious consequences.  I taught them this from day one and so far, they have never attempted to go in the pool alone (they are 5 now).   They understand true danger.

I'll be the first to admit that I am not perfect.  There are definitely days when I'm a bit frazzled and overwhelmed and I lose my temper and yell.  When that happens, I apologize for yelling after I've calmed down a bit.  My kids also get offended when I yell because it's not normal for me anymore.  They understand that sometimes they make me a little crazy, but I will continue to try to control myself.  They also understand that they have to help me by cooperating and behaving.

On a few different occasions recently, I've had comments from different moms telling me how calm I am and asked me how I manage to not yell, especially when my 3 kids are driving me nuts in public. I explain this method and they seem impressed at my level of self control.  It is very reassuring and makes me feel great.  Maybe I'm doing something right.  That's why I decided to share this with everyone.  Hopefully it helps you too.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Teaching kids about "Tricky People" instead of fear of strangers

**I'm so excited to announce that I've started a youtube channel discussing everything home making. My channel name is Surviving As Mom.  Check it out!!

This is a fantastic read for parents.  I taught my children about tricky people and it definitely makes more sense.  Also, because I didn't teach them that "strangers" are bad, they are more friendly and outgoing.  I always tell them, "it's ok to be polite and talk to strangers.  You just can't go anywhere with them."  I also teach them the power they have over their own body and "private parts."  I always reinforce that NO ONE is allowed to touch their private parts and they are not allowed to touch anyone else's private parts.  Even if they are uncomfortable with Mommy or Daddy touching them (to wash), it's ok to let us know and we will respect their privacy.  They know that there are some creepy or "tricky" people out there who may want to hurt them or do inappropriate things to them and they know that they are in control of their body. They know if anyone tries anything, they have to say "NO" and tell me immediately!

Here is the link:

"Tricky people are the new strangers"

...I'll write a separate blog on how I handle potential sexual threats to my children and how we handle that.