Preschooler Pandemonium

What those other moms really think of you…

I have a friend who always seems concerned about what others think of her as a parent. She worries what people think of how her daughter is dressed, what she says, the lunch she sends with her to preschool, and so on.

I only had a few moments of “what must they think?” in my parenting life up until a year or two ago.

For instance, there was a mom I really wanted to get to know better but every time she brought her child over for a play date, my son would do something like throw up or pee on the floor. I know she thought we were loony, though my son was perfectly behaved 95% of the time when she wasn’t around. Did your child ever do weird things in front of one particular person?

Now, I think I finally understand how moms can fret about what others must think. Kids will always have their moments – and it seems they happen in front of those other moms whose children are so well behaved.

But know this: those moms also have trying moments. You might be seeing their kids at their best, but there is no mom on this earth who doesn’t want to pull her hair out over her kids at least five times in a week.

And if they don’t feel that way now, they should know it’s coming down the road. I know, because my son was one of those who shamed others with his seemingly impeccable manners and calm demeanor – until he turned three.

Certainly, children are a reflection of their parents and home life. But should we really get wrapped up in what other moms think when they witness a meltdown at the end of a play date? Or when your kid tells a stranger they’re fat?

Kids are going to do and say embarrassing things, probably for the rest of their lives, I figure. I am going to try to give less thought to what others are thinking of me and my family while we’re doing our best to wade through the trying moments of parenting. After all, that other mom has her own embarrassing moments to contend with, right?

As I write this it’s sounding quite noble and perhaps a tad unrealistic.

Tell me, how much do you worry what others think of you and your children?

Preschooler Pandemonium

5 non-messy arts and crafts activities for your child

Water Painting Doodle MatEvery child needs to explore arts and crafts. Sometimes it gets messy (like it should!) And other times you just want the benefits without the mess.

Their little hands benefit from manipulating artsy materials. And creating a finished craft teaches kids valuable lessons in patience, creativity, perseverance, and how things work.

What’s a mom to do for those times you want the crafts without the mess? We put on our Thinking Caps (our Beanie hats, of course) and these are the products we came up with.

All the art, none of the mess

Wikki Stix

These little WikkiStix are soft and bendy and slightly tacky so they can stick together – but their stickiness doesn’t come off onto your little one’s hands. Kids can curl them up, twist them together, bend them all around and even stick them onto a page to create images and scenes, letters, numbers and shapes. And then use them again whenever they feel like it! No residue and no cleaning required.

Write with water

Does your little boy or girl love to write but make you nervous when the markers and crayons come out? Try this neat water painting doodle mat that comes with a pen you fill up with water.

As your child “draws” over different sections, colors appear, making it look like he or she is using markers. The pen is easy to hold and draws nicely.

No erasing is required, as the water dries and the writing/drawing disappears in five minutes. (If you want to preserve one of her creations, you’d better take a picture!)

Magnetic drawing board

A classic toy that makers got right a long time ago, magnetic drawing boards now come with all kinds of bells and whistles. However, the fun remains writing, drawing and using your imagination – all without any chance of spills, stains, or mess.

My son received one for his birthday when he was two and he is still using it every day at four. (He used to draw cars, now he practices writing numbers.) These are great for travel, as the pen is attached and can’t be dropped or lost.

Stickits

We got this foam craft set at our local supermarket one time when my son was allowed to pick out a toy for himself. It took me a long time to actually bring it out to use it with him, because it just looked daunting. But boy was it fun! And it was much easier than I thought.

You basically use a little damp sponge (so the water can’t even be spilled!) to wet the foam pieces and stick them together to create shapes. You can press shape templates onto them, cut them, and even reshape them to really get creative!

Sticky Mosaics

Creating messy mosaics were so fun when I was little. Now my son can do it all by himself using stickers and a cute template. This sticky mosaic kit lets him use his tiny fingers to pull apart stickers to fill in the corresponding shapes on the picture. When he finishes one, it has a tab for hanging the complete mosaic and a spot for him to write his name and the date on the back. I hang them in his room, they’re that cute!

Disclosure: I (the blogger at Beanie Designs) have used all these products with my son, to great success. Beanie Designs is not affiliated with nor receiving any sort of compensation for the product links above – except for the satisfaction of being helpful to our customers. Learn more about Beanie Designs.

Do you have any more non-messy craft activities to add?

Preschooler Pandemonium

The power of dress-up play

Last minute pirate costume

Little kids love to dress up in costumes. From dashing superheroes in capes to dainty ballerinas in frilly tutus, a new identity emerges when little boys and girls dress up.

In fact, it doesn’t even have to be a full-on costume for kids to feel the excitement of a disguise. Our animal ear hats are a great way for babies to start. They know that something is different – Why are there little ears on top of my head suddenly? – and they thrill to look at themselves in the mirror.

In my circle of play date friends, many kids as young as three years old know Spider Man, Batman, and other famous characters.

However, my son had never been one for dressing up. With vague disinterest, he would wear dutifully anything I put on him (a fireman’s hat after visiting the fire station, a train engineer’s hat and scarf at a friend’s birthday party, a homemade Pinocchio costume last October). Though he always passed by the costumes if it were his choice.

It wasn’t until preschool that my little boy really had to dress up.

It started with summer camp. His Montessori teacher was so enthused about dress-up play that she herself dressed up most days, and there was a mandatory dress-up day for the kids once a week.

We pulled together a pirate costume one morning from odds and ends around the house )pictured above). A t-shirt with a panda bear’s face on it sufficed for animal week. And his Pinocchio costume won him an award and rave reviews.

Now, at four years old, he has a favorite TV show: Super Why. When he found out he could wear a costume to dress up like Super Why, he nearly jumped out of his pants then and there! When it arrived, I had to put it on him immediately, and he even wore the mask for the rest of the day.

I must say I’m glad he is showing interest now. I think the excitement of dressing up should be part of every child’s young years. ChildhoodBeckons.com outlines some of the reasons why dress-up play is so important for our kids.

If dress-up play is already a staple at your house, drop your favorite tips for the rest of us in the comments below!

And, finally, in case you’re just getting started, here are some of our other hats for dressing out of the ordinary.

Preschooler Pandemonium

What no one tells you about preschool

So, you wait until your child is four years old, or thereabouts, to enroll him or her in a great preschool. You do your research, then sit back and look forward to it, anticipating more time to yourself while your child is learning great things and making new friends.

But wait. The hard part is just beginning. There is a learning curve to getting along in preschool for mom, too.

Weird new behavior

Your kid may bring home strange sayings picked up from her new friends. His potty habits may pull a reverse on you. If you suddenly notice your child acting strangely in these first few weeks of preschool, you’re not alone. Some kids have tantrums more often. Others fall asleep by 5 pm if they’re not getting naps at school.

Your little boy or girl is entering a whole new world, and it feels strange to see the effects as they learn to step out on their own bit by bit.

Morning madness

Mornings just become a whirlwind when you have to get your child out the door by a certain time. There’s lunch to pack, breakfast to be eaten, little arms and legs to be clothed.

Preschoolers venturing to school for the first time can be known to drag their feet just when you need them to hurry up. Suddenly, they forget how to put their own shoes on, and of course they insist that mommy do it for them.

The drop-off and pickup

It’s not like you’re walking your child to the end of the driveway to get on the school bus. You’ve got to pile him or her into the car, along with any younger siblings you keep at home with you… and then all get out on the other end, too.

You walk your child to the classroom, and then pile yourself (and the others if you have more kids) back into the car and go home. The whole procedure is repeated again in a couple hours. If you’re lucky, your husband may do the drop while you do the pickup.

Parent involvement

Scholastic Book Club order forms, fundraising activities, festivals, volunteering, donation signups, parent-teacher meetings, orientations, field trips, spirit days, dress-up days, school pictures… it seems there is something new every week that requires a bit of effort.

Of course you want to be involved for your child. It’s just that you picture it more like helping out in the classroom, so you don’t see all these little things coming.

Sick days

You’re paying thousands of dollars for those first few months, but it seems your child is home more than at school! She picks up every bug going around, since it’s her first time in a group childcare setting. And it spreads through your family, leaving that first school year a blur for all of you.

After six weeks as a mom to a new preschooler, this is what has hit me. How about you? What took you by surprise?