Motherhood, sharing, siblings, toddlers

This Is How We Share

Children are selfish. They live their little lives like we would often like to. Do what you want, when you want, how you want. Something breaks? Oh well. Decide to quit halfway through? Cool, let’s leave that for mom to finish. Want something someone else has? Grab it and RUN. Literally, run. It is our job, as boring, rule-following adults, to teach our children to tone it down a notch, basically.

When my first daughter was 18-24 months old, she really struggled with independent play. She wanted us involved in any and every activity, which was really tiring to say the least. Her go-to “play” was just to hand us everything. EVERYTHING! We made a fair amount of headway before baby sister came along, and continued to learn to play on our own. But, now as baby sister is walking around, of course she wants to get her paws on anything and everything. However; what really took me by surprise was that my oldest now wants to takeover everything my youngest has! Shouldn’t it be the other way around?! My youngest will play on her own and find her own toys, and my oldest tramples in to “play with her” with the best intentions, but ends up taking over the activity. And thus began my curiosity on how others reinforce sharing.

At first I just stuck with what I knew. We take turns. That makes sense and is fair, right? But while it seems simple to us, it really isn’t to the toddler mindset. They are giving up something that they don’t want to, not knowing when they will get it back. And in some cases sharing means not getting something back at all. When I tell my oldest to share her snack, she does so very reluctantly, understanding that this means she gets less snack (and therefore she usually starts eating much, much faster.) This seemed okay for awhile, but as my youngest grew more mobile it became less effective. How do you explain taking turns and asking for a toy when the littlest member of the family yanks a toy and runs with no intention of returning it? How do you make a 3 year old share her goldfish crackers and not expect your 1 year old to do the same? This technique left me struggling to explain “it’s because she’s a baby” and led to some confused and hurt expressions from my oldest (even though she always took it like a champ!)

Then we toured my daughter’s preschool, a cute little Montessori school a town over. I was introduced to a new ideology on sharing, and loved how simple it was. When another child is playing with a toy or activity, it is theirs for as long as they want it. Once they put the toy back it’s up for grabs again! What?! This blew my mind a little bit. I was always raised with same-time sharing in mind. Share or no one plays with it. My favorite results from this Montessori method are that they A) allow a child to fully play with an activity without having to pause their imagination and B) they learn patience. Waiting is hard, even for adults! Understanding early on that waiting is kind and a valuable life skill is amazing. This is also easier to enforce with smaller children, because they don’t have to understand when they can and can’t take a toy from another child and you don’t have to wrestle it back from them and try to explain they are sharing. No positive associations with that word right there!

My only hesitation with this method was, how do they learn to play together? If they are always waiting on a toy, WILL they play together? The answer is yes. I think that in the “waiting” and watching, the child playing with the toy first is allowed to shine and lead the playing. They create the rules for this short-term play and the second child adapts. In my experience at home, they always end up playing together, and if things start to go south the best method is distraction. Lead the other one to a new activity. My girls rarely battle over toys these days, so I think it’s a successful sharing practice! But as in most things in life, I always try to be open minded to trying new things. There is no black and white over here, we bend and stretch the rules to learn what works best for us.

So here are some tips for getting kids (age 1-3, because that’s the experience we have!) to share:

  • Watch their interactions first. Every child is different. Some will be content with the dynamic struck, even if one child is doing the majority of the playing. Let them try to work it out themselves. Aka, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it! If you notice a power struggle, step in and try a few of these tips.
  • Lead by example. Share your food with them. Share the TV. Share books or magazines with your spouse. Sit on the floor and play with a toy, then share it with them. Let them know you are sharing and they are doing a good job sharing with you. When they can associate good feelings of being played with to the word “share” they are more likely to want to do it on their own. They now understand this is a good action.
  • Encourage clean up. Not only does this save the adults in the house a ton of time, but it’s an important life skill to learn to be organized and see things through. It also is a clear cut signal that they are done with that toy or activity and it is now available again. No more abandoned toys in the middle of the floor and screaming, “I was still playing with that!”
  • Decide which toys are NOT to be shared. Whenever we have playdates we put our favorite bear and baby doll in our room. We know that those are special toys that we have decided that we do not need to share with others. Setting those aside also lets my toddler know that all other toys ARE to be shared. Between siblings, my oldest knows that toys in the living room can be shared and if she doesn’t want her sister to play with her favorite bear or baby doll then they should be left on her bed when she’s not playing with them. Personally, I believe that letting children have a special toy or two that they don’t have to share is important.
  • If a battle ensues, distract. Don’t try to over-explain sharing to them. They likely will be so focused on what they want to do in that moment that you might as well be speaking Chinese. Just allow the child to continue playing with their activity, and take the other one over to a new activity.

If you have any tips for us, please share! Especially for older kids as we are swimming in new waters every single day! What’s the saying? Once you get used to it, it changes? YEP!

Thank you for reading & keep us posted on what works for you!

XOXO, Elizabeth & Kate

Motherhood, toddlers, Uncategorized

St. Patrick’s Day Activities with Toddlers

Happy St. Patrick’s day!

Ready to dig into some fun St. Patrick’s day activities? Well then you have come to the right place! We have put together a few fun and easy project for you and your kiddo. 

  1. Rainbow Dots!

Work on those fine motor skills, while sharpening their cognitive skills as well. Of course, it’s also fun for them! Print out a picture of a rainbow, like this one, grab some dot markers, and fill the circles with whatever your child is learning. Are they into shapes? Awesome! Fill the circles with different shapes and have them follow the key. Do they love numbers? Then use numbers! We are working on lowercase letter, so we used them! The best part is you can easily adjust this activity based on theme, difficulty, and ability. Oh, and it’s pretty much mess free. We love to continue to our rainbow theme with our wooden rainbow.

2. Make soda bread!

Does your toddler LOVE to be in the kitchen with you? Mine sure does. So, we decided to make some delicious Irish soda bread. Let me tell you, it was easy and actually super fun! I know keeping a toddler on task for more then 5 seconds can be a challenge. But, I have noticed when they have their little hands moving they seem to last a whole minute. Helping in the kitchen isn’t just fun, it is a great way to introduce math and how to follow directions to your children.  For step by step instructions, click the link above. Her recipe was super easy and delicious! 

3. Lucky Charms Sensory Bin. 

This Lucky Charms sensory bin is easy, edible, and so much fun to do! It took me maybe 5 minutes to put together and had my toddler and infant busy for at least 30 minutes. It is the prefect way to teach sorting and fine motor skills.

What you’ll need:

  • Lucky Charms
  • A Container
  • Cups
  • Spoons
  • Plastic Letters or anything to hide

Just place letters in the bottom of the bin and poured the cereal right on top.  Then have your kiddo start sorting the marshmallows into different cups, while uncovering the hidden letters. As the letters become exposed have them place them into the puzzle. Such a fun and yummy way to teach sorting, pouring, and the alphabet all in one! 

Pouring from one container to another, searching for letters!

4. Go Outside On a Scavenger.

We LOVE to go on scavenger hunts! So, I created a simple list for St. Patrick’s Day. We headed outside in search for all things St. Patrick’s Day! When we found all that we could outside, we began our search indoors. We found everything on our list, even those tiny leprechaun footprints! It was so much fun searching high and low for everything. Seeing the excitement on his face was priceless. These toddler years can be a handful, but they sure are fun! If you want to head out on a scavenger hunt with your kiddo, I attached the PDF below. Happy searching!

It’s time to get crafty! We would love to see your creations in our comment section or on our Facebook page! 

If you have any St. Patrick’s Day must do’s, we would love to hear about them. Comment them below, so we can try them out too.

Motherhood, toddlers, Uncategorized

Why You Need a “Tribe” & How to Find Yours

Your tribe, your crew, or your people, they can be called a number of different things. They are the people who have celebrated your highs and consoled you during your lows. They are the people who you can rely on no matter what. Having a rough day? Give them a call! Have exciting news? They would love to celebrate with you. They are the people you run to no matter what! They become part of your family.

Your mom tribe understands your struggles differently then your spouse. Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband and I often run to him for advice, but my mom tribe offers me a different preceptive. They know when to give advice and when you just want someone to be upset right beside you. They are right there in the thick of this journey with you. Riding shot gun through this crazy journey called motherhood. Your tribe is usually interested in the same things as you. So, your husband may get out of listening to you talk about the newest episode of The Real Housewives. (He will probably thank you for that!)

As military spouses, our tribes change throughout the years, but the bonds we create never break. We rely a lot on our tribe, whether its during the inevitable deployment curse, celebrating a new life, or keeping each other sane while our spouses are away. Our tribe is who keeps us going and our heads on straight.

We started out just the 3 of us, and now there are 9. Watching your tribe grow is an amazing thing!

How to Find Those Special Mommas:

It’s kind oflike dating all over again! You take your littles to the park or library in search of finding someone who you clicks with you and your kiddos. Once you find a momma who you think would get along with you, invite them on a playdate. During the playdate you ask about each other’s interests and get to know each other. Seriously, it’s mom dating! After your first playdate, it’s a waiting game to see if you hear back from one another.

Is it always mom friend at first playdate? No, and that’s okay. Nor every mom is going to click with you and vise versa.

Where to Look?

You want to find moms with similar interests as you. Perhaps you have seen the same moms at the park, church, or library story time. Finding someone who enjoys running 5k’s and doing yoga might not be the lifestyle you choose to live. Maybe a mom who rocks yoga pants (yes, they are considered pants!) and drinks wine on playdates is more your speed. If you are lucky, your child will make new friends with a certain kid who’s mom you have been thinking about talking to. You know, that mom who seems to be just like you… Thank you for the little ice breaker, bud!  

You will have to put yourself out there. Personally, as an introvert and homebody, this was where I struggled the most. You can’t stay home and assume someone is going to come knocking on your door for a playdate. Not only is this unlikely, but a little creepy!

Venture outside of your home, even if that means the community park. If you have a friend who will join you, bring them along. I’ve noticed it’s easier to be social when you have someone you know.

Yes, our tribe is crazy & we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Keeping Your Tribe!

Once you start growing your tribe, continue to put forth effort into your friendship. Be their support system, offer to help them when they are in need, and be an ear when they need someone to talk to. The more you put into your friendship the more it will grow and strengthen.

Your tribe isn’t just for you either. Watching your children make those special life time friends is something money cant buy. When they wake up first thing in the morning asking to play with their best friend, who’s mom is also your best friend… BEST THING IS THE WORLD!

Best Friends!

So, go out and find your tribe. If you already have found them, thank them for all that they do! Continue to grow those friendships!

XOXO Kate & Elizabeth