72 Ways To Have Better Times With Our Kids

Hands up if you’re feeling a bit tired and stretched this week!

Me too.

Is there’s a cloud hanging over the family and you’re looking for that sunshine to bathe in? That warm light of laughter, smiles and connection to return.

We want to have better relationships with our spouse and our kids but things just happen and we get into a rut or a funk. How do we bridge those places and have better times with our kids?

Fun ways to have better times with our kids

Here’s a go to list that you can grab something off here and run with it. I know it’s hard when we want to have better times with our kids.

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How to: Honoring our children’s wants, hopes and dreams

Ways to deal with the I wants, I needs and honor our children's dreams than the no, not now, not yet

Beach and swimming!

One of the fun things about parenting boys is their energy and emotion in everything they do.

It’s not one ice cream.

It’s pleading and many reasons why we should have it right now followed up by a final- how it is not fair that they don’t get an ice cream. With communication like this much of the day quickly becomes a lot of  no, not now, another time as they request and demand things.

What I could see is clearly they had opinions, ideas and while I didn’t want or need to give into every demand or whim there had to be another way to find out their wants, needs and dreams.

I know for myself I love to dream and find a concrete way to get from where I am now to where I want to be. I have the power to make some crucial choices. [Read more…]

Teaching independence with the piece of apple principle

Laundry…. laundry ….laundry.


  1. Clothes and linens that need to be washed or that have been washed.
  2. The action or process of washing such items.
Putting away laundry is often a long, lonely and profoundly boring activity that takes up so much time.
Babies generate a huge amount of laundry and cloth nappies. Toddlers and preschoolers with their rough and tumble, exploratory play.
We eventually work out a routine but countless hours are devoted to it each week. Piles loom and perhaps get moved from room to room or chair to basket.
Children love the side by side play while we are working. As I sweep he’s sweeping too. As I cook, he’s stirring too. They love to imitate and we can teach them in small steps how to do the larger things with the piece of apple technique.

Piece of apple technique

Let me tell you a quick story about the piece of apple technique. My boys love apples. If I quickly cut the apple into two huge slices either side of the core. Cut those two pieces into three, then cut the two pieces off the odd-shaped original apple, we quickly have eight pieces of apple.
Those apples when left on a plate disappear almost before the plate hits the table. Also when there’s one person eating the apple they are quick to eat it all. However, when I suggest they eat the apple by just biting it, perish the thought now, the apple isn’t often finished.
  • It somehow becomes too much to eat by itself
  • We eat in that classic pattern and leave big chunks at the top and bottom
  • It’s not a satisfactory outcome for me the apple buyer and them the apple eater.

They need to eat one piece then the next piece and so on to complete. It won’t always be like that but right now this system works for us both; the piece of apple technique.

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So what does this story have to do with laundry?

We need to give our children a piece of the apple by teaching them and training them in the laundry process; piece by piece. Eventually they will be able to eat the whole apple and not blink an eye.

What piece of apple activities do you do with your household chores?


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Solutions for tackling tricky toddler emotions

Solutions for tackling tricky toddler emotions

Strong emotions are a big bug bear when you’re in a playful home or are they really? Our aim as parents surely is to train, teach and allow opportunities of growth. We allow ample unstructured playtime to build creativity; structured activities to encourage skills and further learning; outdoor skills to connect with nature and so on. However, since our children come with varied temperaments, there is that potential to clash. This power struggle of who wins and who loses is a big problem in most of our playful homes. Mostly because we rely on previous experiences and default scripts we are often surprised that really come out of our mouths.

Full-on temper tantrum cry session
{Image Credit}

We can all think of a sticking point in our playful experiences at home and wish we had a tool or trick to just fix it, and fix it forever. Tricks don’t last over time. Although they can get you through situations they often start you down a path that leads to more problems. A better solution is to arm yourself with ideas, tools and solutions that you marinate with overtime and gradually introduce into your family.

Remember, you only have to succeed the last time. 
Brian Tracy

What we know to be true with toddlers

[Read more…]

31 days to a more Playful Tot {Day Eleven} Know Your Mind

How do you develop your mind so you don’t just follow the crowd.jpg

Comparisons hurt, harm and are useful.

If I asked you what type of parenting style do you support with play. What would you say?

It wasn’t until I was in a different country in a totally different situation did I realize that I my idea of play was different. It was then I wondered am I doing it right?

We don’t all move. We often have the same friends and same circles.

Is there a right way to play? If there is, who do I listen to? What about my family and individualism?

Knowing your own mind takes time to develop. We come with all the baggage of our childhood and family relationships. Now we have a playful tot to raise and lots of decisions to make on important issues like TV time, electronic media, mobile media, organic toys, wooden toys, plastic toys, Montessori, Waldorf, classes, playgroups, the list goes on. Our mind isn’t just made up on all issues- just like that.

How do you develop your mind so you don’t just follow the crowd?

{Image credit}

Knowing your mind in 25 steps

  1. Look at your children and learn how they work.
  2. Go to trusted sources. You have to decide who they are.
  3. Accept advice as just that advice– what worked for them may or maynot work for you.
  4. Try new things
  5. Share your ideas. Other people see things you may not see.
  6. Have encouraging and supportive friends
  7. Your children will make you cry and despair but they have the capacity to make you laugh and weep with joy if we create opportunities for that to happen more than once in a while.
  8. Accept and reject things as the season changes in your family
  9. Create plans.
  10. Educate yourself in the areas you lack
  11. Beware of bandwagons
  12. Ask questions…..ruminate on ideas….feel free to adapt, transform or drop ideas….after careful thought.
  13. Find and talk to people who have been there before you. It’s amazing how much perspective they will give you.
  14. observe families who you admire. Try out what they are doing.
  15. Sometimes you need to take a break and focus on other things like your marriage, home, work, career, goals, dreams or ambitions. Not just your kids will thank you for it.
  16. Parenting is not a competition. Some are further along than I am. I’ll be further along than someone else.
  17. Everyone has problems. No one is perfect
  18. Discuss your ideas, opinions and direction with your spouse, friends and family- they know you and will often give you interesting advice ( some good and some not so good)
  19. It’s okay to be different. Different isn’t automatically bad or good.
  20. Have thought provoking twitter and facebook friends. They will challenge you in good ways.
  21. Grow
  22. Remember that sticking your head in the sand doesn’t work there has to be another way.
  23. Encourage people who try things out- they are actively working on knowing their mind ( You can learn from their successes and failures)
  24. Compare yourself less to those around you. Some comparison is good but be careful
  25. We don’t need to know all the answers and get it right the first time. We can let many things just go and roll with it,however we have to decide which ones we do intentionally.

I’m working on No.21 this year. What about you I’m curious?

What are you doing to ‘know your mind’ on issues in 2012?

Are there any areas you find the hardest to do?

Click here to read the rest of the posts in the series, 31 Days to a more Playful Tot.


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Know Your Mind



Finding LEGO


Lego-mess a

It’s probably something that most of us can relate to in the popular book, Too Many Toys by David Shannon, of the poor dad stepping on LEGO pieces.

LEGO this summer has come into its own with all the boys. With our age span from 3 to 8 now we have many different types.


On a recent visit to Jen of Muminthemadhouse the LO played with her boy’s LEGO Space set. It was a rare and not forgotten treat.

All the way home he talked about the “Plane” meaning shuttle. Other peoples LEGO is so exciting and it makes you think and create in different ways.

We’ve been happy to find huge tubs of it a car book sales lately. While I’m happy for the boys my heart aches for hoovering around that stuff. So far the grand finds have been at their Grandparents’ house so they are getting the pleasure of LEGO. I know in a few weeks though that all most of  that LEGO will be making it’s way back here.

What keeps me sane with LEGO?

Letting go!

I know that LEGO will be around the house. It’s really not the biggest deal. We live in our home and always have. I expect to see that kids live in a home and one of their things is that they drift and leave stuff. I love that active play in them to do this.


Have you listened to your kids, when they don’t know you’re there, playing with LEGO? It’s a joy! They so totally get into it and absorbed. The situations and scenarios they play out are long and complex. Yes some of them are based upon familiar characters but I’ve seen a lot of crossover from books, real life and just imagination.


LEGO has been a huge hit this summer and 3 little boys have sat, squirmed and rushed around for huge swathes of time inside and out setting their own play. They’ve completely got lost in the play and can’t believe it’s meal time or anything else. That’s a great thing! It’s how I remember summer being.

Lego IIa

Light flash!

Today I hit upon and idea that just works well for me. Hoovering is hard.I don’t want to suck up those little extra pieces but it happens, at times. So I found a box and as I was tidying the room for hoovering I dropped the pieces in there. I did this for two rooms. Look at the booty I found!


I think the boys will love me! More Lego is like ice cream- you just can’t have enough!

It’s a simple tip that perhaps you already did but it’s saved my sanity. I don’t feel so annoyed and frustrated at all these little pieces.

Sometimes WE choose the toys that suit US as parents for ease of use, lack of pieces, quick, expensive, electronic, no mess because it’s EASIER for us. It’s not that we do all the opposites of those listed we have our days too when we need to do differently.


What I’m trying to do though is find a way for the boys to participate in unstructured and the messy and make it work in our home. Intentionally finding a way to make play opportunities work that are ideal and welcomed because they allow the kids to shine and play in ways that will surprise.

This box…. sets me on the road.

Photo credit: justmalia

Do you have any LEGO storage tips for me?

P.S I would love to do this for the boys room. What a creative way to store LEGO!

If you enjoyed this post make sure you are subscribe to my mailing list with encouragement and ideas for Simple Parenting.

3 must have places to bookmark for preschool listening

Birmingham Public Library (AL)

Listening to audio is a skill that’s not confined to just car journeys. There are many times when we need to add some downtime or slow the pace down.

Listening is a very active form and a really easy way to provide imagination, inspiration and entertainment.

Here are 3 go to places for active listening

Listen and Play

This is part of the BBC school programming and is published on a Tuesday. They are available on demand for 7 days after broadcast.

Each programme includes familiar songs, rhymes, stories and sound discrimination games to develop children’s phonological awareness and confidence with spoken language.

Each show has kept my little one interested and we’ve subscribed via iTunes so can listen again to older versions. if you live outside of the UK access to the BBC iplayer is restricted but you can subscribe via iTunes and download as a podcast.

Listen and play


P-L-A-Y-T-I-M-E …It’s PLAYTIME! P-L-A-Y-T-I-M-E………

With the current interest in letters and singing of the ABC song along with the phonic game on the fridge this show is perfect for my soon turning preschooler. It’s full of energy and emotion that he’ll stop to listen. We pretend together and with siblings as well.

Songs, stories and movement activities for pre-school children inspired by popular themes.

This is also part of BBC programming for schools.


Barefoot books podcast

I’m a big advocate for diversity in book and literature with my family of boys we just love the Barefoot Books as they have a range of stories both traditional and from different cultures. We always have lots to talk about seeing the people and places in these books. Now you can read along or just listen to your favourite books.

Barefoot books publish a huge range of stories and many of them for the over 5s so watch out for the themes.

Barefoot books

We’ve been experimenting with audio and listening recently and have tried them at our family dinner time. Instead of the usual hustle and bustle we listened to a story and then discussed it afterwards. It was really a different way to celebrate dinner together.

We’ve tried the traditional sit down and listen but this doesn’t work as well for us . It’s been great tidy up ‘music’ and listen to in the morning music before everyone is awake.

Photo credit: Birmingham Public Library (AL)

When do you listen to audio and what do you listen to?

Diversity in books


When you look through your books do you see a diversity?

Do you have a range of many different types of books?

I had an opportunity this week to look at my bookshelf  and share some of them with my children. Yes lots of ladybird books and Mr. Men books. I never had though many non fiction books. What’s on your children’s shelf? Sure enough the books we buy are usually fiction. The books we borrow are often non fiction.

Let’s look wider. Do the books I have available show a diverse world? How do I share cultural hertigages from around the world or talk about friends in my neighbourhood who are different?

[Read more…]

Make your own Shoe Shop

We had fun playing shoe shops.

It was a spontaneous activity that just evolved as we played.

As with most things with my LO; it started with a pair of shoes and as usual he gathered them together.

I grabbed a chair and began to serve him.  He chose his shoes and we tried different ones on.

Before too long I grabbed some paper to draw around his feet to mimic the foot measure.

We did pretend the door and sign but it was fun to design a real sign. He then tried to serve me………… lots of laughter.

Play activitivities don’t always have to be planned. They can like this one and evolve.

Nurseries and preschools are well known for their play corners and theme corners.

They are easy to do at home with a little bit of fun.

What play corners have you created at home?

Dusting off your new ipod or smartphone

It’s been almost a month now since you got your shiny new smartphone/ipad/ipod. You’ve got to grips with some features but you know it can do so much more.

You’ll be wanting to listen to shows that help you as a parent or maybe you need some light relief.

Photo credit

How to find shows?


  • Download iTunes it’s a free piece of software that holds a vast directory of podcasts, as well as music, movies and radio.
  • Once you have downloaded iTunes visit the podcast section in the iTunes store. There’s a search bar in the top right corner.
  • Look at your favourite radio shows most have a podcast version so you never miss them again.


  • Blackberry has a podcast directory where you can find shows.
  • Stitcher is a free application you install on your smartphone. You can listen to content right from your phone without needing to be syncing your computer and ipod.

Podcasts to try

The (Over)thinking Mom

This is a recent find for me and I’m loving digging into the archives as Meredith has some great topics.Meredith talks about interesting and topical subjects around parenting. She loves researching and investigating- which is good for us as she shares it all in this podcast. I’ve really enjoyed her range of episodes and just like “MPR”  ( NPR), I found myself listening to topics I didn’t think I would be interested in and totally got hooked. Cost : Free

Tweet with The (Over)thinking Mom on Twitter | Like The (Over)thinking Mom on Facebook

BAM- Body, Mind and Child

BAM is a radio network of many channels that caters to parents, educators and leaders in Education. The show I listen to the format is the host, Rae Pica putting questions to two or more guests with opposing opinions. It often makes for a lively discussion.   Deborah of Teachpreschool.org was a recent guest. These shows are 10- 15 minutes long and are packed with lots of information and background on children. It’s the one that plays in the right sidebar of this site. Cost: Free

Like BAM- Body, Mind and Child on Facebook

Apple Juice Radio

This a fun husband and wife podcasting duo talking about the parents guide to children’s books and films. This show is based in the UK. I really enjoy the reviews as they are not sugar coated and always with a positive spin neither do the couple  always agree so the discussion is spirited and you can totally get the point the view. There’s a lot of laughter and you really feel like you’re listening into a conversation in their 15-25 minute show. They are show notes that give more information about the book and the film. Cost: Free

Tweet with Apple Juice Radio on Twitter | Like Apple Juice Radio on Facebook

Classics for Kids podcast

All the previous podcasts were for parents to listen for themselves or to learn for the children. This podcast is one that was recommended to me by a homeschooling mom who uses the podcast as part of her curriculum. It’s a short podcast that illustrates a classic composer and is full of music.  At 6 minutes it’s perfect “setting the table” listening in our house to keep everything moving along. Each composer lasts 3-5 podcasts but with the bite sized child friendly language and chunks it is totally accessible as an easy listen. Cost: Free.

Parents’ Perspective

One of the first podcasts I subscribed to in the mid Naughties and still a favourite today. This is a co-hosted show where the topics are on parenting and offer a wie range of material, not just focused on the Early years. The host starts with a senario and ends with the interview  of a special guest expert that attempts to answer the question. With each show approximately 27 mintues long the time goes really quickly as you listen to stories and information. Cost: Free

Like Parents’ Perspective on Facebook

The Because Show

All the previous shows were information about development or parenting ideas whereas these three women from Los Angeles talk about a subject each week. It’s not a parenting show and it is a parenting show as all three are parents. They have occasional guest but usually we have girlfriends answering questions, sharing stories and commenting on life. It’s a refreshing  to listen  to parents who can talk about and experience other things other than children and perfect listening during the day. They do have an explicit tag to some of their material which is useful when you have little ears who would love nothing better than to repeat what they hear. You can check each show and they usually say beforehand in the intro. They really are like a magazine with the diversity of subjects and views. They have long and short shows. Cost: Free

Tweet with TheBecauseShow | Like TheBecauseShow

Raising Playful Tots

My show.

Raising Playful Tots (RPT) is a weekly podcast and Internet Radio show for mums who want to make the most of Early Childhood playtime. We offer tips, suggestions, guest interviews and conversation about how to keep appropriate play central in the under 5s in our care.  Time: between 20 and 30 minutes. Cost: Free

Tweet |Facebook

Carnival of Parenting Podcasts

Why Podcasts?

Photo credit

What do you do once the children go to bed of an evening? Slump in front of the TV, grab a book, watch a movie, study for school, go to club, Facebook or Tweet? We all have our things we do. There’s a podcast out there for you too.

::Ones for parents to learn and grow

::Once for parents to be transported

::Ones for parents to laugh and groan.

So many different types.

As a parent who is interested in playing with their child there’s got to be time for the parents to play. Fun for your ears.

What’s a recent podcast you’ve subscribed to?

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