Stuff I’m Lovin’ – Kid Version, Part II

By Megan

I’m continuing with my list of things I love for my kids this week. These are all just simple things I find draw us closer and make our family life run more smoothly and joyfully. I’d love to hear about YOUR favorite things for your kids or grandkids, too!

1. Fresh air and sunshine are bringin’ happy back times a hundred in my neighborhood. I know it’s a no-brainer, really, but if I’m making an honest, authentic list of The Things. That I Love. For My Kids, then fresh air and sunshine have gotta be on it. Old Man Winter took us on a 50-stop guided tour through every childhood illness out there and I’ll be honest with you, I blame it on the cooped-upness of the mid-Western lifestyle thanks to all the frigid temps and other mean weather nasties. I just don’t think a body was built to spend month after month indoors breathing nothing but canned, processed air. Next year, I will tell you right now, every member of my family’s going to spend at least 10 minutes each day outside cleansing their lungs with fresh air, no matter what the weather’s doing. And sunshine! Glorious sunshine makes us all so much happier and hopeful about life, doesn’t it? My kids positively GLOW when they awake to a sunny morning, and so do I. We just all LOVE sunshine and we have MUCH BETTER DAYS with less whining and crabbing when it’s smiling down on us. So when the sun is shining, you can bet my kids and I are out side soaking it up.

2. Whispering in their ears. My children have precious ears. Bean’s ear was the first thing I noticed about her when she was born. Half of her was still in my body, but her head had been born when I was able to look down as I pushed (the doctor let me help pull her out!) and see that sweet little ear and I just fell in love with it. Since then, one of the most wonderful things I’ve done for each of my children, and I hope they’ll feel it’s wonderful too, is I’ve made it a habit to hold them and whisper encouragement and love into those ears of theirs on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s as simple as, “Guess what? I love you!” and other times it’s me telling them about something I saw them do that day that made me proud of them. Just anything GOOD. I spend so much time correcting and directing – that’s unfortunately just a reality of being a parent – so it’s as much a blessing to me as it is to them to get to say something positive and bright and loving into those sweet ears at least once a day (more, hopefully!).

3. Mo Willems’ books. Oh, we love to laugh around here. And we love to read. And Mo Willems writes books that we read and laugh, laugh, laugh at. Our current favorite is Knuffle Bunny, which is about a little girl named Trixie who goes to the laundramat with her Daddy and loses her stuffed bunny, Knuffle Bunny. Trixie expresses her deep, dramatic concern over Knuffle Bunny by screaming, “Aggle flabble clabble” and “going boneless” as she’s dragged home sans lovey, and her Daddy’s face goes from simple amusement to concern to total frustration with every step. In the end, upon being reunited with the bunny after much searching and fretting, Trixie says her first words. My kids both LOVE the visuals in this book – a combination of black and white photographs and vibrant color cartooning that entice them to flip slowly through the book and tell themselves what’s happening, evem when we aren’t reading it to them. Willems has many, many books, including the much-loved Pigeon books, and each of them sports visual appeal, cute, simple stories (happy, upbeat stories with a touch of nice, dry wit and even an edge of friendly-but-realistic-sarcasm, which Al and I both love) that our children can follow and memorize easily. We continually find new childrens’ books to love, but Willems’ books always remain among our favorites.

4. Pillow pits. Don’t laugh! This one is SO SIMPLE, but simplicity really DOES it for me as a Mama of two littles. Sometimes I just need that one brainless activity I can rely on to break ALL of us (as in the kids AND their mother) out of that bored, stir-crazy mid-afternoon whine-and-crab-fest between naptime and dinnertime, and right now, that go-to activity is the Pillow Pit. It’s as simple as popping on some peppy music, tossing a bunch of throw pillows on the floor in a big pile, lying down on the floor beside it and counting to three over and over again as my kids wait their turn to run across the room and jump into the Pillow Pit. When they land, they get a hug, or a kiss, or a snuggle, or a high-five from Mama (or one another), and then they’re up and running back to the starting point to await their next turn to run and jump. How easy is that? And I love that it’s teaching Peabody about counting, taking turns and following simple directions. I love that they burn up some energy with the running and jumping and all that gleeful giggling! Plus I get to get off my feet and spend time with both kids in a way that doesn’t require too much energy or mental power, but DOES involve me paying direct attention to them, laughing and talking with them and giving them a healthy dose of affection. Both my little people jump at the chance ANY time I say, “How ’bout we make a PILLOW PIT?!”

5. The Friday afternoon babysitter. Oh yes. Now that we’ve found our Lara, we’ve implemented a regular time each week for her to come play with the kids for 2-3 hours (they both still adore her!) so I can get a few things done. We’ve chosen Friday afternoons so that I have those hours to “decompress” after being a Mama full time for five straight days and start the weekend out a little less frazzled. I don’t even always leave the house when Lara’s here those times. So far I’ve used the free hours to grocery shop, clean, organize and even to treat myself to a new “date night” outfit. One afternoon I took the lo-o-o-ong way to a local fruit market and just enjoyed listening to some music and allowing my brain to unfurl itself into the peacefulness for awhile. Nobody asked me questions or got frustrated because he’d been in a car seat too long, and I just felt like MEGAN for a few minutes. It was bliss. I know a luxury like this may not always be in the budget for us, or for other parents, but honestly now that I’ve experienced what it does for ALL OF US in the way of giving us time and space apart so that we can appreciate begin together all the more, there are things I’d gladly give up to keep this one around. If all else failed, as my kids get older, I’d even consider swapping sitting time with a neighbor so each of us could take advantage of some kid-free hours each week. And the bonus of having Lara come on Fridays is that sometimes we just ask her to stay later into the evening so Al and I can go out for a bit when he gets home for work. I have so much more to give him when I’ve had just a little bit of time to myself, and that makes both of us very happy. NICE!

So those are my ten, these above and these from last week. I’ve enjoyed sharing them with y’all and as I said before, I’d love to hear what’s working for YOU and YOUR KIDS, in any and all categories, be they food, activities, learning, play, reading, whatever, so SHARE AWAY!

Megan also blogs at FriedOkra.

2 Responses to Stuff I’m Lovin’ – Kid Version, Part II
  1. Kelly
    April 19, 2010 | 1:29 pm

    Oh Megan. The fresh air and sunshine. I can’t ditto you enough of that one. I know we appreciate spring more in the Midwest because of winter’s harshness. But this gorgeous spring has made me seriously homesick for San Diego. Oh to have access to sunshine and fresh air for my kiddos almost every day of the year.

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