Monday, January 24, 2011

Looking for a Rainy Day Activity? Homemade Play Dough!

The weather is cold and rainy this week where we live, and I have been trying to think of something fun to do with my four year-old daughter tomorrow. Luckily her preschool teacher
e-mailed me tonight reminding me I signed up to make homemade play dough for her class for the month of February, so I thought...why not? Let's go ahead and make it! We'll make enough to play with at home, and also enough to share with her class.

I wanted to share the recipe with you, too, in case you are in need of a fun activity to do this week with your kids! Hope you have fun making homemade play dough...I know we will. Now, the question is, will it be more fun making the play dough or playing with it afterwards?

Homemade Play Dough Recipe:

3 cups Flour
1 ½ cups Salt
3 cups Water
2 TBSP Vegetable Oil
1 TBSP Cream of Tartar
Few drops “ Neon” Food coloring of your choice or 1 package unsweetened "Kool-Aid" of your choice

1. Mix ALL of the ingredients in a large saucepan.

2. Cook over medium low heat, until the dough comes away from the edges of the pan and it becomes difficult to move the spoon. Remove from heat. Cool until it can be handled.

3. Place on counter or wax paper. Knead until blended and smooth.

4. Store in a large zip-lock bag or air-tight container.

Tip for you- You must let it cool ALL the way before sealing it off, or it will be gooey--even if it feels like a normal play dough consistency after even 20 needs longer.

Enjoy and have fun!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Are Your Shopping Days Over?!?!

I was talking to a girlfriend the other day about shopping with our toddlers. Let’s just say we both have had our share of shopping struggles as of late and running to the mall has become a bit of a strain.

When your toddler becomes mobile and the stroller begins to feel more like a prison than a mode of transportation to him, are your shopping days over?

Your shopping days don’t have to be numbered, but you do need to start thinking more strategically when shopping with a toddler. Take my morning last week, for example. My oldest child was in preschool, and I had just a few hours to cross off some items on my to-do list. I had to buy three birthday gifts and also had to buy an outfit for myself for an upcoming party. I was not looking forward to taking my son with me. However, the shopping had to be finished and I was on a deadline. Instead of dreading it, I thought strategically and came up with a game plan.

Before we even started our shopping trip, I took my son to the neighborhood playground to burn some energy. I felt like he may be less likely to want to crawl out of his stroller to explore the mall if he was physically tired from playing hard. He happily ran and played at the playground, and when he seemed tired, we headed to the mall to begin our shopping adventure.

At the first store, I fed my son an early lunch in his stroller. He was a happy camper, and so was I! One birthday present down, one outfit and two birthday presents to go.

The next stop at the mall was finding an outfit for me. I chose a store that I have had much success in the past with finding clothes. Since time was precious, I wanted to try to eliminate the need to go to multiple stores. I asked for the biggest dressing room available. While I was trying on clothes, I pulled out toys from my diaper bag and my son ran around the dressing room and played. He was pumped to be out of his stroller and I was happy to try on clothes. And luckily, I found the perfect dress for our upcoming event. Score!

I knew my time was running out. I chose one final store near the mall to buy the other two gifts I needed… good ol’ Target. This is my go-to store. During this trip to Target, I had two strategies. One, I put my son in a cart instead of his stroller so he could have a different mode of transportation to switch things up. He seemed excited to ride around the store and we chatted away, face-to-face. I think he enjoyed the change of scenery, and he also loved being close enough to get about a million kisses from me while we shopped. When the newness of the cart wore off, I pulled out my daughter’s toy MP3 player for him to play with. Since my daughter was at school, (shhh...don't tell tell her), my son was in heaven pressing all the buttons, listening to all the songs. This worked like a charm!

I managed to find a birthday gift for a friend, but struck out finding a gift for my brother. Rather than press my luck and try to make it to one more store, I decided to call it a day and we headed home. When I put my son down for his afternoon nap, I got online and ordered my brother’s birthday gift. Remember that online shopping is always an option if you get in a bind!

Hopefully next time you have to go shopping with your toddler, you can come up with a game plan that will work for you, too. See?!?! Your shopping days aren’t numbered. You just have to be a little more strategic!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Post-Holiday Blues---How To Help Your Kids Shake It Off

After weeks of no school, being off schedule and enjoying the rush of the holiday season, it’s hard for kids to get back into the swing of things. Often times, kids can get what I call the “post-holiday blues.”

Most families go strong from Halloween to the New Year, and then all of a sudden, it slows down and the social calendar is not as full. Kids can get bent out of shape when they are not constantly on the go after many months of going full throttle.
What can we do to get our kids to calm down after many weeks of sensory overload and get them back on schedule?

- Go to bed at normal times and get plenty of sleep. Also, make sure you are eating healthy and nutritious meals. The holidays sometimes bring too many sweet treats, and it’s important to start focusing on eating a balanced diet again.

- Try to get outside each day, even for just a little bit. In the winter, we tend to huddle up and stay inside. Fresh air can do wonders, though, so bundle up and let your kids explore the great outdoors.

- Resume normal activities and get back on a schedule. Children thrive on consistency, and that is the best thing you can give your children after the busyness of the holiday season.

- Exercise is a great way to improve everyone’s mood. Take your kids outside to run and play! If the weather is too cold or rainy for outside time, turn on some music inside and dance away the blues. If you get your kids moving, it will surely put a smile on their faces.

- Take some time to relive the holidays. Talk to your child about their favorite memories, traditions and presents. Show them pictures and home videos from the past month. You’ll both remember the holidays fondly.

- Plan something to look forward to in the coming months. Maybe it’s time to go on a family trip to the zoo or a local museum, or it can be as simple as family movie night, but try to get something fun on the calendar that you can focus your child’s attention on. Let him know there are fun things to enjoy year-round.

- Remember that returning to school may be tough for your children. Remind them of all the friends they will get to see and fun school activities that are right around the corner. Try to be as positive about going back to school as you can.

Good luck beating the post-holiday blues. Hopefully these tips will help ensure a Happy New Year for all!