Sanity Savers

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I woke up today itching to write. My mind was a swirl of ideas but all of those require more thought, time and quiet than I can get right now. How, then, am I sitting here writing? It’s a new trick I discovered – my kids love workout DVDs and they love ones with kids in it even more. I was at Target the other day and this YogaKids DVD was on sale so I figured, “If $9 dollars is all it takes to get a small stretch of time uninterrupted, I’ll take it!” So, here I am with two girls stretching and roaring and wiggling away a few feet away while I put some thoughts to screen.

Have I ever mentioned I read parenting books like my 2 year old inhales M&Ms? Raising two spirited, stubborn independent and opinionated little women is the most challenging (and equally rewarding) thing I’ve ever done. Which is why I take suggestions and ideas for making this muy important job easier from wherever I can. I’ve started doing a few things with the girls lately which have made life a little easier and happier. Do my girls still want to kill each other randomly throughout the day? Yes. Do they still throw fits? Um, totally. But these tricks are making them a little easier to get through. So instead of fleshing out the bevy of ideas in my head, I’ll leave you with a few bits and pieces.

  • A children’s workout DVD  = peace and quiet, got it? Get it.
  • We’re a low media family (at least when the kids are awake) so we limit screen time. For example, if they watch a workout video then that’s it for the day. Lately I  let my girls play with my Kindle Fire. They’re both so eager to use it that they share it incredibly well because if not, they know it’s getting put away. They like to cuddle up together with it. It’s an easy half hour of quiet or a shower (I always opt for the latter, I can easily find quiet after bedtime).
  • One moment my daughters are hugging each other to pieces and the next screaming their heads off and beating each other up. This is tough for this only child.. Tough. My instinct is – “hey, knock it off! That’s your sister! You’re supposed to like her and love her ALL the goddamn time!” This coming from the person who needs to spend time alone to feel balanced and centered. So I fight the instinct and keep learning. The girls understand they must apologize to each other if they’ve done something wrong. I’ve never made them do it when I want but on their own time, when they’re ready. Now we’ve added something which seems to really make them happy. Once they apologize, they have to tell the other person 3 things they like about them. The apologies come easily enough and usually the other person will simply shrug it off and just say “ok”. But with the compliments, they get all silly and playful. And I can totally see how the person being complimented just lights up. Dare I say it makes them feel kinda warm and fuzzy?  Not sure where I picked this one up but it’s a keeper.
  • Our home’s been a disaster zone since the holidays. I had everything perfectly organized and just did not prepare for the insane crap load of stuff we’d acquire courtesy of old St. Nick. Want to know what doesn’t help? Two children who insist on playing with their toys everyday. Can you imagine the nerve? They’re pretty good about cleaning up but with so much stuff it overwhelms them as much as it does me. While I figure out how to wrangle every last thing into a comfy, out of sight spot, I had to come up with a way to make the girls clean up. Here’s the drill: I ask them to clean up, they get 3 minutes to get their bodies in action. If nothing happens, they get one more opportunity to clean up (depending on my mood, they may or may not get a second warning). If no cleaning up happens, then I collect everything into a bag or bin and they must put things away in increments equal to their age. They have the course of the day to do it. I’ve seen a version of this where the goods get locked up and kids have to perform a chore to retrieve their possessions – a nifty idea for the future, perhaps? When I do this, everyone’s just happier. I don’t have a mess I’m looking at or cleaning up. And my girls aren’t overwhelmed by the massive mess they (made and now) have to put away.
  • Finally, let them play with fire. Kidding. Kinda. When I need them to settle down and find some calm energy, I light a candle. We sit around a small table and the candle stays in the center. We all take turns blowing the candle with our breath and making the flame “dance”. It mesmerizes them. They giggle with wonder. Yes, this can be dangerous but I believe in teaching kids how to handle dangerous situations. They know if the flame comes in contact with something, it will catch fire. They know they cannot touch the flame. So we lay ground rules – only mom touches the candle, the person waiting must sit and wait their turn or they lose it, hair always pulled back. I use a candle that comes in a container for this so I don’t get wax everywhere and so I can close the lid when I’m done. I’m all kinds of nervous about a fire in the house so I always pour water on the candle when we’re done. A few ways we enjoy this game (always with all the lights off): sing happy birthday to everyone, see how far your breath can reach to blow out the candle, see how small you can make the flame or how close you can get it to going out. For safety reasons, you need to be the judge for your own child – some kids may or may not be able to control their little bodies to play this game.

Late last night, thanks to Facebook, I found out about a terrible fire that consumed an entire block back in my home town in New Jersey. Many businesses and homes were lost. I know a few folks personally and it just breaks my heart. I haven’t been in the area for ages but it’s always close to my heart. It surprised me how saddened I was by it all. It just goes to show the place you grew up in is always close at heart, for me at least.  My heart goes out to all those who are left without homes and those who lost their businesses and jobs.

And because I can’t leave this post on such a sad note, a link to a hilarious parenting post about the things we take our kids to the doctor for. Read it. You’ll thank me =)

I’d love to know what fun little parenting tricks you have up your sleeve. Tell me in the comments, how do you keep the peace and the sanity in your family?

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  1. I really like the idea of yoga for kids. It’s so important to understand how to calm down before they get really out of whack. I need to try DVD. Quiet time for kids and mom!

  2. I have four kiddies who range in ages from 14 to 7 and well, you can imagine that I am always looking for new ways to entertain and educate them. I love the idea of a workout DVD for kiddies. I signed my kiddies up for boxing lessons two weeks ago and they all love it. Not only is it great exercise for them 3 days a week, they practice together here at home without arguing. 🙂

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