No screens??

How do you entertain your Kids???!!!

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This is what no screens looks like at our house.

The kids are much easier to entertain.  Sticks and leaves …  for over an hour.

Why go screen free?

Have we ever let our kids play tablets or watch tv mindlessly?  Yes.

Will we ever again?  Probably not.

What happened?

It was the first practice for my girls’ competitive cheerleading team, and my boys were looking around, bored, sticky and hot in the crowded viewing area to see if there were other kids to play with.  There were, there were almost ten other boys Caleb’s age, but they all had their necks flexed as far forward as possible, transfixed by tiny flashing screens.  There were even kids as young as Owen (who is two by the way) breathlessly holding onto their parents’ cell phones as surprise egg videos played for them.  At one point, a mom was receiving a call, when she tried to retrieve her cell phone from her toddler… you would have thought she was trying to pull out her kidney!  All the moms seemed to nod, knowingly.

Hey, I am a mom of 4, I totally get public displays of bad behaviour, but can we not see a causal link here parents?  This technology is addictive and inappropriate for this age.

The day this happened, I did still allow my kids to access screens at least most week days.  When Owen napped, the other kids could have an hour or so of tablet or tv time. Although I didn’t love it, I figured it gave me a chance to catch up on work I needed to do or have some alone time.

However, watching those small children clutching onto those screens as fiercely as a drug addict would his next hit… it flipped a switch inside of me.

It has now been a month, and I can’t see us going back to screens.  The changes that I have witnessed have been spectacular and as I have researched further into screens and their impact on young people, it has solidified my decision.

Look out for part 2 on how we have removed screens.

Kids or Coyote snacks?

Coyote information to keep your kids safe when hiking or playing in the forest

Enjoying nature with your little ones can be wonderful.  Worrying they are going to be eaten by a coyote, not so wonderful.

How do you keep your kids from being a bite-sized coyote snack?

First, here is a short video on what is called Coyote Hazing, produced by our town.

We tend to stick to the same general area to play in the forest.  This allows the kids to leave bigger projects like building shelters or obstacles courses or bridges they can come back to another day.  In our familiar area of the forest we have never seen a coyote.  However, a mountain biker we see a few times a week, told me that another hiker had been surrounded by a few coyotes just up the trail from where we go.  Scary!

So we have taken a few steps to make sure the kids learn how to deal with coyotes.

  1. We have practiced putting your hands way over your head, (with a big stick is extra points) and yelling “GO AWAY!”
  2. We have played coyote many times, with the above, and making sure no one turns and runs, because apparently that can encourage coyotes to chase you.
  3. The two older kids, who occasionally go a little further than the younger kids, have very loud whistles.
  4. I have an air horn, which should scare off most animals.
  5. We are double checking any new areas we play in for brush or little shelters that could be used as coyote dens.

Has anyone come across a coyote in Oakville or otherwise?

This recent sighting makes me a little extra cautious, but it won’t stop us from enjoying the outdoors, and it seems to add to the adventure.  The kids are even enjoying our new “Coyote” game and have added it to their rotation.

 

 

Sleep tips

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These tips are simply what I did with my kids and should not be taken as medical advice.

 

Feeling tired?  Another mom kindly pointed out, that if I’m not willing to share sleep tips, I should not be bragging about having 4 awesome sleepers.

First off, I wasn’t always getting 12 hours of sleep from my kids, with good naps.  With my first, he had terrible colic, and I honestly had moments wondering what the heck I had gotten myself into.  I was exhausted, my baby was up screaming all night, and I could not seem to console him.

I surveyed all my friends who had good sleepers, and read every book on the market that came recommended.

Babies can be watched for signs of sleepiness right from the early days.  When they are getting sleepy, I try to put them down awake.  I also try not to rush in if they are fussing.  To clarify, that doesn’t mean I leave my baby unattended.  It means, if baby is looking sleepy, I may put them in the playpen nearby and start working on the dishes.  If they start crying, I may finish doing one or two more dishes before I go pick them up because they may fall asleep on their own.  However, under 4 months old, I pretty much cater to any whim a little one desires.  And if having them sleep in a carrier is the only way to get them to sleep at their regular naps, I am (mostly) game.

Between 3 and 4 months, although I am usually hoping that the baby will settle nicely into a sleep pattern, they tend to become increasingly erratic sleepers.  They require more frequent nursing to sleep, rocking or holding, and seem to wake even sooner.  The erratic sleep patterns need to be addressed ideally at this stage, because of the huge developmental milestones taking place.

Around 4 months of age, healthy  babies are able to sleep through the night.  Some may still require one feed at my bedtime, but otherwise, I count on baby sleeping from 7pm to 7am. The most important point that works for us is,  I place my babies in their crib, completely awake, in a very dark, quiet room.  We also start an age appropriate nap schedule at the same time so that my babies can grow and develop well. I use a variety of methods to teach the baby to sleep through the night, depending on each baby’s personality.  But they have all learned to sleep through the night within a few days and napped well within 2 weeks.

At our house, all 4 kids sleeping well is a high priority.  It is necessary for them to recover from their activity, be pleasant little people and grow.  It also gives my husband and I quality time together in the evening, ie binge watch something on Netflix.

Feel free to e mail me or comment if you have specific questions though.  I will do my best to help.

PS. I do consult families on getting their little ones to sleep.  I have a couple spots available in April.  E-mail or comment if you want more information.

(SleepEasy Solution, Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child, Happiest Baby on the Block)