Blended families are complicated in the best of circumstances, and disagreements over where, when, and how family meals happen may seem like the least of a co-parent’s worries. However, when our electronic-free, relaxing meal times turn into a circus-like free-for-all, this momma sometimes finds herself at wit’s end! But then I remember the most important thing: We are together. We are talking about our day and connecting, practicing manners, and making memories. Her stepdad and I are showing our values to this wide-eyed little person who is absorbing every word and action. None of us want #familymealtime to be all discipline because they are only little once and therefore life should be a fun adventure for them. So, I’ve found that if I turn on a little upbeat music during dinner, we are all more relaxed, and when she breaks out into an impromptu dining room dance party, I’m more prone to join in.
Toddler Archives - MOMcircle
Do your kids like to drink water? One of my girls does, but it’s always a battle with my four-year-old. I’ve put it in big girl cup, a fun cup with a twirly straw, and a water bottle so she feels like a “big girl”. These things only worked for the first couple of times, then it was back to the drawing board.
I can proudly say I’ve found something that works and is still working! I found a water bottle with a fruit infuser inside of it. I cut up fresh strawberries and lemons, then added water. Not only does it make the water look pretty, but it tastes like strawberry lemonade. I’ve also added fresh blueberries, cherries, and limes. It’s so easy to change up! I’ve even used a clear pitcher with water and ice for home.
It goes so fast, and I rest easy knowing we’re all drinking more water. I hope this can help your family drink more water as much as it has helped mine!
Spring is almost here, which means we get to play outside again. My seven-year-old is in dance, so I don’t worry about her getting enough physical activity, but my four-year-old tries to turn into a couch potato in the winter months. Thankfully, my husband is all about fitness (I’m trying) so we make physical activity a family affair. Here’s a list of our favorite physical activities, both indoor and outdoor:
- Bike riding
- Dance party (Always indoors because I dance like a newborn giraffe)
- Jumping on the trampoline
- Roller skating in the garage
- Walking around the neighborhood
- Indoor basketball (This is a cool trick to make your kids help with laundry)
- Scavenger hunt (Indoor or outdoor)
- “Hide & Seek”
- “Red Light, Green Light” w/ music (Indoor or outdoor)
- Clean house obstacle course (This is my personal favorite)
Remember that your words as a mom are powerful. I have to keep reminding myself of this. When I call my daughter a “picky eater,” she becomes a picky eater because it discourages her from trying new things. When I call her a “veggie monster,” she is more likely to try the vegetables I offer. Calling your child a picky eater may discourage them from trying new things at all.
You know your babies better than anyone else, so if you’re offering foods (like vegetables) you know they won’t eat, try hiding it in foods you know they like. My daughter doesn’t usually eat spinach, but she LOVES omelets. I offered my little “veggie monster” a ham, cheese, and spinach omelet and told her “I made it pretty” and she ate the whole thing and loves spinach now! The next time, I snuck spinach leaves into our homemade pizza and she ate it happily. If I would’ve said “I know you won’t eat this because you’re picky and don’t like spinach,” I wouldn’t have gotten her to eat it.
Someday, not today, I will tell her exactly what it is. For now, I know that I am giving her the gift of a lifetime. I used the power of my words, and the trick of adding veggies to something she already likes, to create a “veggie monster”.
I love it when my family is able to sit down together for a meal. We’re able to sit, talk, and laugh while hearing about each other’s week. We stay pretty busy so our family mealtime is usually only once or twice a week. Something my husband and I do so that we’re able to give our girls our full attention is put our phones up during mealtime. In this day and age, we feel the need to be attached to our phones — sometimes missing what’s right in front of us.
Since we started putting our phones away, our conversations are more intimate. I feel more in-tune with my girls’ successes and/or struggles at school. It makes me wonder what I missed when I was on my phone at the table. My daughter came home with a paper she made for Thanksgiving. It was a list of things she was thankful for. It said, “Thank you, mommy, for feeding me and talking to me and loving me.” This was reassurance that I was doing a good job.
Taking my baby girl to get her shots was hard on me as a mom. I would watch them give two or three shots in each leg, and she would look up at me with tears in her eyes like she was asking me why I let them hurt her like that. I asked myself that question many times: why did I agree to these shots if they cause my baby pain? What kind of mom would allow that?
A mom who protects her baby would allow that. In trade for a few seconds of pain and a few days with a slight fever, I was protecting my baby from horrible illnesses. I was protecting her from whooping cough, measles, mumps, and rubella. I was protecting her illnesses that cause far more discomfort that a few shots. I was protecting my baby’s health and life by allowing the immunizations.
After the nurse was done giving the shots, I held my baby girl close. I comforted her. I told her that I loved her and that I would always do everything I could to protect her.
Life is so busy and now that my son is in school and plays organized sports, it’s busier than ever. This is why I put such a strong emphasis on family dinners and spending time together around the table. This is the best time for us all to slow down and dedicate time to each other to find out how everyone’s day was, ask questions, and have conversations to make sure we’re all on the same page. Some of my favorite memories as a child happened around the dinner table, and I want to provide the same wonderful memories for my family. Our dinner table is a safe place for everyone, and I will always make sure family mealtime never gets put on the back burner.
I enjoy cooking, but sometimes it can be a challenge. The dishes pile up, the two-year-old wants to be held, I forgot to defrost the meat… it’s not easy! One thing I do to make it more enjoyable is getting the kids involved. I let them measure out ingredients and pour them into the bowl (yes it can be a little messy!) but it also helps them learn to use a measuring cup and to start understanding fractions.
I also involve them in creating our meal plan for the week. I make time on the weekend to plan out our meals for the week and go shop for those items. I ask my kids what they want, and then involve them in the process. I let them write the list out (which requires patience!) and have them help me shop. They need to learn how to cook, so involving them in every step of the process is important and beneficial.
Above all, I make sure we all enjoy it which means turning off the TV, putting some music on, dancing around, and enjoying cooking together. If they see how fun it can be, they will want to be involved, and it makes some great memories, too.
This summer, my husband and I made plans to have a water balloon fight with our 5-year old boy. I put my daughter down for a nap and told my son to get ready… and the three of us went outside. Man, did we have a blast!
I remember the day well: I was tired, really tired. I didn’t want to do anything, but I had bought the water balloons and decided that my son deserved to have some fun. I’m so glad I made myself go outside to play, it was the most fun we had had in a long time! We ended up running all around the neighborhood chasing each other and we laughed until we cried.
My son still talks about the water balloon fight and how great it was. I love that taking an hour out of my day gave him such great memories, which I hope he’ll cherish for a lifetime.
Now that she’s a year old, she may eat a lot one day and not too much the next day. Trust her to set the pace for how much she wants to eat. Eating patterns change at this time and it is totally normal. Your baby is growing up, Mom!