• Living the Life

    Morning HELP

    Find Yourself Blasting the Kids Out of Bed in the Morning?

    Maybe you’ve tried the old techniques your parents used–I know I have–where waking up is about avoiding trouble. It usually starts with “It’s blankety-blank time already! You’ve got to get up…NOW!” For me personally, there was no stronger deterrent to facing the day than starting off in the doghouse.

    Then you’ve done the obvious—you’ve turned on all of the lights and pulled back the shades. You’ve wheedled, even begged, but your kid just snuggles further into the covers.

    Ok, so just plain kindness isn’t going to cut it. Here are some other ideas for you:

    Prep–Before Starting

    SET UP AN INTRINSIC REWARD *WITH YOUR KID* AND PUT IT IN A LIST
    An intrinsic reward is something that you do for your own personal enjoyment or sense of accomplishment. It is a lovely thing. Sit down with your child and make a list of reasons why getting up early can personally benefit her. It can be as long as ten or as short as one reason—the more compelling it is for the child, the better. This list can help her feel more in control of herself and her morning–that she’s not getting up earlier just to comply with her parents.

    While You’re at it, Set Up an Intrinsic Reward for You

    Are there other reasons why you want to get up early besides making sure your child shows up on time? What can you do for yourself first thing in the morning? Is there a special project that’s hard to find time for during your usual day? This is not a “should” thing. Is there a favorite coffee or pastry you can indulge in to start off your day? The more enjoyable this activity is for you, the more likely you will get an earlier start.

    Devices

    The National Sleep Center suggests keeping the TV or computer in a room other than the bedroom, this way the bedroom is only associated with analog activities and the thought of sleep.

    Set Two Alarms

    Think of it as an alarm clock on both ends–one for bedtime and one for getting up—
    Figure out the time you’d like him to be asleep. Write it down, post it on the bathroom medicine cabinet…however you can keep it clear in your mind. The more concrete and realistic your goal is, the better chance you have of accomplishing it.

    Once you’ve got that ideal bedtime, practice setting an alarm or reminder for 1 hour before.
    This is a coming-in-for-a-landing time. Time to slow down, turn off devices and get ready for the next day. Stop TV watching, computer or cellphone use. The light coming from these screens interrupts the release of melatonin, a necessary harmone for sleep.**

    If she must be in front of a screen shortly before bed, plan on dimming the screen as much as possible, or even better, use a program like f.lux*** that will automatically block the blue light coming from your device, making the screen look less like daylight and more like your indoor lights.

    The Night Before, Establish a 5 Minute Quiet Time

    It eases the feeling that you are “rushing to bed.” which is a lot like speeding to get to yoga class. It gives the brain a chance to unwind before the lights go out. Make sure there is a comfortable place for both of you to sit. Set a timer for 5 minutes.

    Here are a Few Tools to Help Create Calm

    GOOD MORNING! THE HOUR HAS COME
    Start an interesting conversation by talking about something he likes.

    I try to  stay away from the “have-tos.” We all know them. They are always around, lurking in a nearby corner. Here are a few ideas about what to say instead:

    • Talk about something fun you’ll be doing this weekend/after school together.
    • Ask him about a project he’s doing that’s fun for him (even if you think it’s a bore).
    • Talk about her favorite movie/video game character and which one you like best.
    • Ask him if he wants to help you do a preferred activity, like pour cereal or help make eggs.

    Get Ready to Play

    Put aside 10 minutes to play. Set a timer. This one has helped the overall morning mood in our household immeasurably. No matter what the age, everyone likes to play. This activity could be from their Fun Things To Do List– something that truly pleases your child:

    • If they are small enough and it won’t kill your back, offer a piggy-back ride out of bed.
    • Set up a fun race. (“Beat you to the kitchen! Are you ready? I’ll give you a head start.”)
    • Turn on fun music you both like–something light and playful.
    • Set 15 minutes aside for playing together.
    • Does she like to draw? Play music? Read? Jump on a Trampoline? It’s his personal choice, and if you are involved, even just a little bit, it’s a great bonus.

    Persist

    It’s a process. If you and/or your kids aren’t used to waking up early (as we aren’t), know there will be harder days and easier days. Expecting some set-backs and slip-ups will make it more tolerable. Forge on, forgive yourself for the mistakes and you will make progress towards rising earlier! Remember your “failures” are part of change.

     

    * “Intrinsic motivation occurs when we act without any obvious external rewards. We simply enjoy an activity or see it as an opportunity to explore, learn, and actualize our potentials.” (Coon & Mitterer, 2010)

    ** Information from National Sleep Foundation

    *** https://justgetflux.com

  • Living the Life

    Building Toys!

    MAGNATILES

    We like them because they are so…QUICK! We erected a grocery store within 5-10 minutes, and then got to work on the clay food. Not for children who like to gnaw, because the small magnets inside tend to fall out from time to time.

    The pieces are a substantial size, so it’s easy to build something large where all kinds of toys can interact.  I find them user-friendly for many kids, whether or not building is a preferred activity.

    The Magnatile wagons add extra play-value, but matchbox cars also work fine!

  • Living the Life

    Race to the Treasure–and FAST

    Let the Search Party Begin!

    You and your fellow players have a mission if you dare—together, design a path from the stack of tiles that leads to the keys and then to the treasure before the Ogre does!

    Appropriate for 5 years old and up, Race to the Treasure combines basic graphing skills, visual planning, and cooperative play into a fast-paced journey. An engaging game created by Gina Manola for Peaceable Kingdom, it’s easy to learn, while working together and agreeing on a strategy really counts towards winning!

    At the start of the game you roll the color and number dice to lay out 4 keys. Gather 3 out of 4 keys on your path to get the gold. Will you go north, south east or west? Increase the difficulty level by using a timer for each turn (not included), or by placing one or two ogres on the red Ogre Path at the beginning of the game. If you draw 8 Ogre tiles before your team gets to the treasure…he wins the race, and all of you get to try again.

    It’s a great game for young players as it nurtures cooperation and communication. Each game is a little different, so it’s entertaining for the adults who play along!

  • Living the Life

    Mole-Rats in Space

    Watch Out For That Snake, Little Mole-Rat!

    Although we love winning and gloating about it in Uno and Monopoly, cooperative games are big around here–especially this one by Matt Leacock for Peaceable Kingdom.

    You and your mole-rat friends need to band together and help each other get to the space pod in the center of the game board where everyone will blast off to escape many hungry snakes! As you and your associates scurry around the tunnel network, there are a few necessary supplies to pick up for your intergalactic trip: a toothbrush, a turnip, a map and duct tape. Once you’ve all gathered these and make it to the mother ship, everyone wins the game and can safely take off.

    This can be a fast-paced game, and there’s suspense to the very end as the snakes have a way of multiplying indefinitely. A mole-rat can survive one bite from a snake because they can use the first-aid kit in their backpack. But if you’re bitten twice, you’re a goner and its game-over! Once one rat is out of the game, the adventure end–but have no fear, you can start the game again! The game play is about 20–25 minutes.

    Social Skills

    In order for the individual to win, all need to win. Similarly, if one player loses, all lose (womp-womp)! In a very direct way, this game promotes teamwork. If there’s enough buy-in and excitement, competitive players can have a chance to show off their supportive side.

    Upping the Ante (Spoiler Alert)

    Once you get the hang of the game, you can add to the challenge by opening up the special envelope containing 3 extra mole-rat cards. Each one places more snakes in the mix. Slowly introduce them one at a time, or throw in all 3 in for a triple dare!