Posts Tagged ‘family’


Has anyone ever made it through toddlerhood and not had to think and talk about sharing?

Before about 20 months, my daughter was a dreamy playmate. Caring, thoughtful, concerned, open and giving — she seemed more interested in the people themselves and their feelings than in taking or keeping a particular plaything. I watched friends and strangers going through their own (non)sharing experiences and searching for ways to deal with the issue. I felt gratitude that more children were taking from my child than she was taking from others. A thought flashed in my mind that maybe I’d been blessed with a child so skilled socially that I would have to do little agonizing over sharing.

Then came the reality of child development. My daughter began to explore ownership (mine!) and more complex relationships (other people have needs and wants). She started out fairly easy to redirect. Recently, though, as her verbal skills explode, she seems to be having a harder time with sharing. I have been thinking about and researching ways to help her develop an internal motivation to share (versus an external demand/expectation). [Resources below.]

Here’s what I’m currently striving for as we work together on sharing:

1. I use consistent language, including empathy in the conversation.

I say the same thing at home, before we get to some place where she will have an opportunity to share, when something is happening, and after the opportunities have been experienced. I usually say something like the following:

“You want to play with that toy, huh? Looks like ____ isn’t finished playing with it yet. Maybe when they are finished they will give you a turn.”

I say this knowing that the other child may never “finish” playing with the toy. I also encourage her to ask for a turn using this same language. When we play together I try to use this language often myself so that she can feel the difference between me taking something and me asking for a turn (“When you’re done, can I have a turn?”)

2. I give space for me to observe and my daughter to practice the art of sharing.

This is not easy for me at all. I do want to jump in to “solve” and “direct.” I try to keep my mouth shut until I have observed. I am looking to see what my daughter and the other child are doing and feeling, and I try to give my daughter ample opportunity to observe the other child’s behavior and try out her skills. I also talk to her about waiting and being patient. If she does actually want that thing and is having a hard time we talk about waiting.

3. I use ASL signs: turn, finished, wait, patient, frustrated.

I have a post planned for a while from now on signing, but I definitely find that my daughter responds more quickly and positively when I sign than if I just use my words. When she sees me sign “turn” I see her face register the symbol, and she almost always uses the language from #1. Of course, patience is hard for all of us, so we also talk about being frustrated with waiting. Our strategy is to breathe. Usually by the end of all that, even though it’s quick, she is ready to move on or give her friend some space.

So far, these things have been making it easier for me to know what to do (and what I don’t want to do). My daughter seems to be responding. We still have issues sometimes, but I feel that we have created a foundation for us to build upon with each opportunity that arises.



Teaching the Art of Sharing

How to Teach Sharing by Giving up Control

Baby Teamwork (Sharing because They Want to)

These Toddlers Are NOT Sharing

Should We Stop Babies from Taking Toys?


What to Do about a Toddler Toy-Taker

What Do You Do When Other Parents Force Their Kids to Share?

Those Awkward Moments between Moms when Toddlers Won’t Share

Sunday Surf: Alternative Parenting Info for Family and Friends

Holidays and celebrations usually mean family get togethers and all that comes with those situations.

For many, this is a joyous time when perhaps people who rarely enjoy sharing the same space have a day or more to “live together” in some ways. What happens when the small family unit chooses to live differently than the family at large? For parents who subscribe to alternative/gentle/positive/natural/attachment whatever you call it parenting, the coming together of different styles of raising children can cause tension and frustration. Some families also have a hard time over the phone or the internet.

A few things I think cause trouble are a lack of compassionate understanding of the various “sides” and feelings of judgment and defensiveness that block communication. This happens for everyone, but it seems that the hows, whats and whys of a less typical type of parent are less known (and also, therefore, respected?). I know I wish that my family could read some of the articles that shape my parenting choices.

What follows is a rough draft of my dream list of 10 blog posts to give someone a sense of where I am currently coming from as a mother. (Yes, I reserve the right to change and learn and grow.)

***Last minute addition!***

I just found this post on the 10 RIE principles of caregiving, and it addresses all the main issues I’ve been trying to raise with my own family. I may even share it with said family…….

10 Articles to Help Understand My Parenting Aspirations

Wordless Wednesday: My Daughter, My Midwife

Listening for the Heartbeat: My midwife's daughter shows my daughter how to use the fetoscope

My Plan to Be a Better Mom: Activities

It’s taken me a while to get to the next part of the Be a Better Mom series. Why? Because I’ve been trying to be a better mom! I’ll be posting about materials separately, turns out. I feel so inspired to get my creative juices flowing and my hands working as I think about activities. I’ve been taking time to look through blogs of some mamas doing fun stuff with their kids. Much time has also been spent brainstorming some magnetic board activities for my daughter. There’s also been gathering materials and making things!

So far, all I’ve done is made one magnet set and start another magnet/felt set. One is a button shape/size sorting activity — 4 colors, 3 sizes. Unfortunately, the first set has already been scattered from off the fridge through multiple rooms (before pictures were taken). I am thinking now that future magnetic sets should be meant for the board only, just so there are more buttons to play with than are stuck under the fridge.

The other set I started is a color/fruit sorting activity where she could “pick” apples, bananas, plums and/or pears from the tree and put them in a basket. I was hoping to go apple picking soon so it makes some experiential sense. Now I am thinking, that I might make just an apple set with numbers to 10 on them. The other day she was insisting I count to ten, and she’s been into numbers lately.

There are a number of activities I’d like to do more of with my daughter to make our time together engaging, exploratory and playful.

Sensory activities are where she’s at right now. Sensory tubs are one idea; so far I have thought of waterbeads, leaves, and beans. I’m waiting for fall to advance a bit for the leaf one. Then I want to collect leaves together and bring out a fall leaves/tree magnet set I hope to make. I also liked this loud-quiet shaker idea and this smell matching activity.

Pouring is what Montessori would call a “Practical Life” activity. She is into pouring for sure. Any parent of a toddler knows that spilling and playing with liquid are fun times. My daughter seems pretty good at pouring from big things with help, but I want to get her a kid-sized pitcher from For Small Hands so she can pour things herself. I hope to put this pitcher with some of her small glasses on a table so she can get her own water and snacks. (Time to modify the snack station of old?)

Finally, it is feeling like time to move from chopping to cutting. She loves to cut with her wooden knife and food set. I have also helped her cut with a big butter knife. I’d like to find something like a small butter knife to help her cut things like banana. Her cooking role can take a new turn, and she will have more to offer and do in the kitchen.

Eventually, I’d like to get into the light box and other fun from the links below, but I’m trying to focus on things I know I can follow through on and actually accomplish. I still want to share the awesome ideas I’ve run into through my online travels…

Here are some play-based learning blogs/sites I found to keep an eye on:

Warm Rain Walk Treasures

Ideas by Category:

For the road: Toddler Activity Bags



Magnetic Board:

Rock Play:

Outside/Messy: Play at Home Mom Outdoor Play

My Plan to Be a Better Mom: Time

TIME. I never seems to have enough. I always seem to need more.

I’m not convinced I use the time I do have wisely. Sometimes I find myself standing or sitting there, wondering what to do with myself. Well, I have a perfectly long list of things to do–what is the big question?

Somehow time management is not that simple, especially with a little one (or more!). I think I will be a better mom if I can wrap my head around managing several projects and responsibilities at once. As a teacher at school, this comes more easily to me. At home, not so much.

My goals for this area of mom improvement are:

  • have a clear(er) sense of daily tasks
  • have a stronger feel of a rhythm to our lives
  • build in some predictable routines and activities to set that rhythm
  • have a more accurate sense of time passed and “productivity”
  • assign a purpose to bits of time so that I can be more present with my energy

These goals are lofty, but I do plan on following some of Stay at Home Papa‘s insights into efficient use of time to help me along. I suggest you read his post for more clarification, but here are some basic tips he has to offer:

  1. Make a “To Do” list and prioritize it.
  2. Get the most important, life-changing items done on your list first. 
  3. Check email no more than 2 times a day.
  4. Batch items on your list, especially minutia.
  5. Set a timer.

Wordless Wednesday: Perfectly Crooked!

Smoothie Making Complete!

Having fun in the kitchen lately, cooking toddler style–much pride, joy, concentration and tasting! Made two little movies. (Well, I guess they’re longish at 5 min but the far away grandparents love every picture they can get.)

Making Smoothies

Making Pancakes

Green Smoothie Recipes:

My Plan to Be a Better Mom: Spaces and Organization

I know everyone always says their house is messy (when it’s not), but I really am organizationally and spatially challenged in some ways….like the ways that keep a house clean and put away.

I love to see things organized, love baskets and boxes and labels and rows of things. It’s just that doing whatever it takes to get to that point doesn’t come naturally to me. Whether or not it is my strength, I need to develop a clear sense of organization and purpose in the spaces in our house, for the sake of every family member and friend who inhabits those spaces. Plus, with a little one on the way and due during the middle of winter, I want to make sure my daughter has an engaging and comfortable space to play inside when it’s hard to go outside. I have one room she can kind of take over, but otherwise I have always liked and tried to have a little play space in every room (including the kitchen). This calls for different structures for different spaces. I have some moving around of stuff and furniture to do, but more than that I needed to think on what those play spaces look and feel like.


I know I want them to be organized.

I would like for it to be easy and clear for my daughter and any adult to know where everything goes. “A place for everything and everything in it’s place.” If there are baskets and bins with clear purpose, everyone can use them. Eventually I would love to make my own labels (in English and Spanish and maybe even ASL), like Christine from The Aums did when organizing her clothing station. [Oh goodness, a clothing station was one of the things I wanted to maintain…..and haven’t. Clothes are my own worst offense, and now I’m in charge of someone else’s clothes?!]

I, and my daughter, need the space to be as YES as possible.

The more YES the space, the less “no” I have to say. When she was smaller and just starting to get mobile, everyone was telling me about child-proofing, which we don’t really do much of. Every child is different, and some children need more safety boundaries than others. My daughter has always been a rather safe explorer with a will that can be reasoned with. (Who knows what #2 will be like…could change everything!) She began moving around, and we went through the house trying to make things as YES as possible. This meant that if she could reach it, we had better consider whether we wanted her to be able to reach that thing or not. Well, we need to do that again. She is considerably more mobile now, and I find myself saying “No” more than I need to just because of the way my space is organized and set up…..or not. Ideally everything in reach is touchable and ok for play.

The space, the things in it and the way they are set up should encourage and support opportunities for my daughter’s independence, confidence and sense of belonging.

Once she has a clear, organized space that is mostly YES, I want to make sure the things I put in there and the way it is set up fit her developmental needs. Right now, she wants to do everything she can for herself. One thing I would like is for her to have greater access to food and drink items so that she can pour for herself. However, this means, I need a developmentally-appropriate space for her to be able to do these activities. For instance, right now, there isn’t really a child sitting/work space. Having a more functional, child-centered space will most likely be good for her and good for us (and the new little one).


Now that I had a sense of what I’m looking for, I wanted to do some research and see what other folks want out of their spaces.

I liked what Childhood 101 had to say about creating a child space that is inspirational:

  • Inspires them to play in more purposeful, meaningful ways.
  • Inspires them to learn through those play experiences.
  • Inspires them to value what they have.
  • Inspires them to help maintain the space in an organised way.
  • Inspires who they become…

Reading about Montessori principles and home/school spaces inspired me to get more clearly organized so that my daughter can take more ownership of the activities in her life. Here are some guidelines for spaces:

  • They are attractive, orderly and clean.
  • They have a place where children can store and organize personal items, as well as keep complete and in-progress projects.
  • There is adequate open space for children to easily move around, and for everyone to sit together during group time.
  • Children can independently access their Montessori materials from low shelves. They can also help maintain the order on these shelves. It is also important to have appropriately-sized tables and chairs so the children can sit and move with ease.
  • There should be a few interesting, real-life pictures at child’s-eye level, a few beautiful objects that could break easily, living plants, and pets (even small, non-poisonous reptiles and fish are fine).

Reggio Emilia history, philosophy and approach, in addition to the concept of the environment as a child’s “third teacher,” gave me aesthetic ideas for an overall feel and look. Here are some aspects a Reggio class might have:

  • indoor plants and vines
  • natural light
  • open to view
  • capture the attention of both children and adults through the use of mirrors (on the walls, floors, and ceilings), photographs, and children’s work accompanied by transcriptions of their discussions
  • displays of project work are interspersed with arrays of found objects and classroom materials
  • ample space for supplies, frequently rearranged to draw attention to their aesthetic features
  • encourage community

In addition, there are some RIE principles I’d like our spaces to facilitate. Similarities across the board, here. You are surely seeing a theme emerging.

  • Basic trust in the child to be an initiator, an explorer and a self-learner.
  • An environment for the child that is physically safe, cognitively challenging and emotionally nurturing.
  • Time for uninterrupted play.
  • Freedom to explore and interact with other infants.
  • Involvement of the child in all care activities to allow the child to become an active participant rather than a passive recipient.
  • Sensitive observation of the child in order to understand his or her needs.
  • Consistency, clearly defined limits and expectations to develop discipline.

With a better understanding of the principles and values I’d like to encourage, I was ready to look at actual play/learning spaces other people have set up.

NEXT STEPS: Move things around, go through “stuff” (post to come), set up spaces!

I am inspired!

%d bloggers like this: