Who Needs to be Artistic?

You don’t have to be artistically inclined, or creatively adept, to create a fun activity or toy for your children.  I’m speaking from experience.  You know those nannies who are amazingly artistically talented? The ones who draw beautiful portraits along side your child?  The ones who skillfully and effortlessly think of ways to use the left-over yarn, old clothes, to make an art project? Well, I’m sadly not one of those nannies.

But I try not to let this fact get me down.  I still draw alongside your children, my pictures just look like exact replicas of your 2-year-old’s. I’m still creative in theory, though my creations never look the way I imagine, which is something like this….

images-1

instead they look more like this…..

Unknown-1

The thing is, it doesn’t matter.  There are still plenty of activities for people like me.. and you to do.

Like I said, I still do all of the art stuff, and it’s fun! The thing I’m good at is being outdoors and going on fun, educational outings.  I love to take the child I watch (and past children I’ve nannied) to parks, where we can discuss nature, touch grass, dig in the mud, find walking sticks (I’m a pro at finding a good, solid, walking stick.)  We often take home some goods from nature, like leaves, flowers, sticks, and rocks.  And through some kind of miracle, I can usually think of some potentially magnificent art and educational project to make out of these things.   Though the outcome tends to be mediocre, the process is just as fun as it would be if I were artistically inclined….at least that’s what I tell myself.

Outing Ideas:

I live in New York City, so outing ideas are basically endless here.  We take trips to parks, which often have a free nature center, museums: including children’s, nature and art museums. We go to Zoo’s, Botanical Gardens, book stores, etc.  Destinations spots are also great, trips to the Hudson or East rivers, Coney Island, different playgrounds, simply walking around.  Most of the things listed here you can find anywhere you live.

Outing’s depend on where you live, but in general trips to book stores with a good kid selection is a great outing, especially on a rainy day. Museums are great, check out if your city has a children’s museum, there are tons of fun and educational activities in children’s museums, also don’t hesitate to bring them to art museums.  You might not be able to stay for as long as you would want, but still worth the trip!

Toys Toys Toys

UnknownDo you depend too heavily on made for baby/toddler toys? It’s easy to use solely store-bought toys, especially when given to you for free at baby showers, but maybe it’s time to step back, and look in your house and outside for the stimulation your kids need.

You really don’t have to stock up on a ton of baby-deemed toys (other than books) to get your child’s interest, house-ware can be just as stimulating, if not more so.  From my many years of experience with infant-3 years I’ve found that they are most stimulated, and interested in real-world, purposeful objects around the house.  Bookshelves and the books in them become a mecca for defining fine motor skills, i.e., taking the books out and putting them back.

For infants and toddlers, gaining physical control of their bodies is a huge educational feat, from rolling over and reaching for objects, to fine motor-skills, like holding a crayon, so I try to make sure activities and toys influence them physically. Reaching for a stuffed animal or textured, colorful towel is good for their motor skills. As they get older, and more physically capable, putting objects inside each other serves a similar purpose.  You can buy blocked/stackable toys, but you can also use different sized tupperware or boxes to create the same effect.

What I look for in a toy or house-hold made toy is that it serves 1 of the 5 senses, touch, taste, smell, hearing and sight.  Most store bought toys easily include touch and sight, when hearing is involved the sounds emanating from said toy are usually arbitrary.  Music around your house would be much for influential, for tonal patterns, beats and rhythm, and, lets face it, far more enjoyable for the adults.  My point is, infants and toddlers need to be stimulated, consistently with objects, things and people that influence their 5 senses, and most of the time you can find these things in your house.

When we depend solely on store-bought toys we can easily forget about 2 senses which are typically excluded, smell and taste. It also becomes easy to assume that “educational” toys are doing the education, so we don’t have to. But this isn’t true, as parents and caregivers we need to consistently talk about what they are doing, seeing, touching, hearing, smelling and tasting.  It’s fun to think about all of the educational resources around us at all times that we, as adults take for granted, but will thoroughly intrigue and stimulate our babies.

Touch/physical:  Textured objects, this can be anything, cloth, wood, plants/flowers, rocks, paper, etc. When your baby starts to eat solids this is an amazing time for them to explore textures, and amazingly it includes all 5 senses! Hearing? Yes, if you consider the noise of squishing their food, or smacking a spoon against their plate, and adults talking about the food your baby is eating. Everything I listed can be easily found in house, or outside, i.e, plants, flowers, rocks.

Taste: Taste is something store-bought toys do not have (I don’t think….) As I said above, food is a great educational source, because it stimulates all senses.  When your baby is eating, talk about the food, what the food is, the texture and the taste.

Smell: Flowers, soap, food: Smell is also something typically excluded from store-bought toys, so we have to go in house or outside for these resources.

Hearing/Language: Music, books, drumming on objects in the house…really anything, toy or otherwise can stimulate language, all we have to do as adults is talk about what they are seeing, i.e., colors, animals, numbers, etc.

Sight: Everything!! You don’t need to buy colorful toys (you can, but you don’t need to) everything in your house and outside when coupled with some kind dialogue can stimulate sight awareness.

Some store-bought toys I do like: BOOKS!! Puzzles and blocks, and art supplies.

Examples of toys I find useless: Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes, Fisher-Price Go Baby Go! Poppity Pop Musical Dino,

Related articles

Quote

“Why French Kids Don’t Have ADHD”

“Why French Kids Don’t Have ADHD” is a great article, which, I believe, identifies broad weaknesses in American parenting ideology.

To the extent that French clinicians are successful at finding and repairing what has gone awry in the child’s social context, fewer children qualify for the ADHD diagnosis. Moreover, the definition of ADHD is not as broad as in the American system, which, in my view, tends to “pathologize” much of what is normal childhood behavior. The DSM specifically does not consider underlying causes. It thus leads clinicians to give the ADHD diagnosis to a much larger number of symptomatic children, while also encouraging them to treat those children with pharmaceuticals.

 

Quote

Tattling vs. Telling

What Kids Want Us to Know

As a mother, I find several behaviors very annoying. Fortunately for me, my kids are too old for my least favorites. Whining is at the top of the list; I am especially annoyed when the first request is made in a whiny voice. [Kids, if you have to whine, please at least wait until your parents have said no.] Hmm, perhaps I should write a post about that.

Today’s post is about number two on the list: tattling. According to Merriam-Webster, tattle means “to tell a parent, teacher, etc., about something bad or wrong that another child has done.” I add to that definition, “in order to get the child into trouble.” All teachers and all parents with more than one child know too well how much children enjoy tattling. Mom, Cathy took my car! That’s ’cause he was touching my juice box! Well, she called me stupid! Only because…

View original post 1,233 more words

Video

Endorse Bad Parenting?

What’s wrong with this commercial? Just about everything. This commercial, in a nutshell, sums up a parenting style I fundamentally disagree with. The commercial implies that our children should not be taken seriously, that we should literally tune them out when they ask questions we are ill-prepared for, or simply too embarrassed to answer. This commercial says: use media distractions as a way to get out of parenting.

Why as a society would we think bad parenting is funny?

Quote

Stamps & Safety?

motherlode-stamps-blog480

Motherlode

A great article by KJ Dell’Antonia on the Motherlode about cartoon stamps, hyper-safety and over-parenting.

“These are the well-meaning attempts of empathetic, concerned, careful, thoughtful adults to protect our children, but it’s striking that, as a culture, we’re working so hard to protect them from exactly the experiences that helped us become adults ourselves. We learn from making mistakes, even big mistakes. We learn from the things that go wrong, that aren’t fun, that leave us thinking hard about how something could be better. A few of us even learned how valuable those helmets and shinguards are by having an accident while not wearing them. If you never learn where your limits are, it’s hard to learn to respect them — or to transcend them.”

Dyslexia and Education

UnknownI just saw this piece on Motherlode by Lisa Ogburn  about raising a dyslexic child in standardized world.  I’m dyslexic, and I just recently talked with my mother about the difficulties she had teaching me how to read, the hours she spent going over sounds and words, phonetically with me, only to have me retain little to nothing the following day.   I don’t remember these hours spent learning how to read, but one day I got it.  I became an avid reader, but continued to have issues with numbers, and to this day I have a hard to sounding words out.

I was home-schooled until high school, when I then attended a huge public school, this may have been a mistake, my mom and I debate over this.  I think going to public school had its benefits, such as, understanding who I was, and the ways that I was smart despite being dyslexic.  That I had a personality, a righteousness I was able to exercise and that set me apart from the other kids who seemed to have none. But there was the obvious downside, which is our education system and the standardized tests which riddle every corner of it.

I remember taking an entrance examine before my freshmen year, everyone had to take it, so as to evaluate what class level they should be in.  According to my scores the school wanted to place me in remedial everything, luckily my mom had the final say and placed me honors classes where I could verbally and inwardly strengthen my learning.

My teachers would say that I was smart, that I performed well on homework and in class discussions but my tests were often confusing for them.  I did well on my homework because I had time at home. For most people testing is difficult, it’s a skill that is learned, for people with dyslexia it can be close to impossible.

The education system often made me feel stupid, it’s a feeling I still struggle with now. Luckily I am an adult now, and I can logically understand that the problem isn’t me, or people like me, it’s a fundamental problem within our society and educational system.

Baby Proofing: Is it Fool Proof?

Old post on baby-proofing.

yourbabynanny

Most families I’ve worked for have hired professional baby proofers.  Parent’s choose the baby proofer option rather than do it themselves, because, like all families they fear something in their home will do irreparable damage to their child.  Safety aside, professional baby-proofers offer a convenient service to those with money and little time at home, why do something someone—a professional can do for you?

What I’m concerned with is what happens after the baby-proofers leave? Do all of the door, cabinet, toilet, window and faucet locks help protect your child? While some of these preventative measures could help protect your child from scalding water, jammed fingers, etc., this form of baby-proofing is restricted to the house and to the things where child-locks can be installed. What about everything else?  What about the parents and adults who despite (or because) of the baby-proofing still don’t know what could be hazardous for…

View original post 814 more words

Say “Yes” to the Word “No”

yourbabynanny

*It’s hard to say “NO” to your kids, because of those adorable faces, vicious tantrums and sometimes because you’re just a “yes” kind of person.

It’s that time of year again when we start to lather our children with sunscreen, adorn them with hats and miniature sunglasses. The days are longer, the air is fresh with flowers and rotting trash confusing our senses, and in the distance we can hear the ever-increasing din of ice cream trucks. These trucks will bring out the inner monsters and sweet angels in our children, the fate of which rests upon the acceptance or rejection of the sweet delectable treat. Ice cream trucks are just one of the many delights the warmer weather brings.

What’s that New York Parents? You don’t want ice cream trucks?

Tip #1: Don’t blame ice cream trucks for your problems with the word ‘no’.

Around this time last year…

View original post 807 more words

Books Books Books

stack_of_books2293x500In general, I’m not huge on reading parenting books. I think people rely too much on them and forget that they are human beings who have natural instincts for these things.  I’ve looked over and read, what I consider to be a fair amount of parenting books, (yes, sometimes reading parenting books for my employers is part of my job) there are a few problems I find with most parenting books.

1.  Most parenting books consist of long monologues with little information.

2.  It’s nearly impossible to know what books to get, because there are hundreds out there, all claiming to be experts on the same topic.

3.  Most parenting books consist of long monologues with little information… OH, I already said this?

I might take for granted that I know what I know about child rearing, safety, developmental stages, etc. because of all my years of experience, (I should also thank my mom for her amazing educated advice) but I do realize some people go into parenting with no experience, thus making it a little scarier and overwhelming.

It would be hard at this point to trace back all the moments when I learned all of the valuable information I take for granted now, such as, that babies have “sleep signals” to cue us for bedtime, that biting babies nails when they’re infants is easier than using finger nail clippers, that letting your baby run around without a diaper for a few hours is the best way to get rid of a rash…. you get the point.  At some point I did learn all of this, there was a moment when it all clicked, and I learned this through experience, not from a book.

All of this being said: For people with little to no experience, and without a ‘model’ parent for which to ask questions I realize it can be comforting, and informative to read a book….or twelve.  My personal opinion is that we (Americans) over-read on parenting.  So far a few books I would recommend are listed below, keep in mind these books for the most part fit into my “parenting” style, or they are simply information based.

Baby and Toddler 411 by Denise Fields and Ari Brown: These are 2 different books.  The books have factual information about your child’s developmental stages they also have products like car seats, discussed and rated. I rarely look at this for developmental stages but I have referenced it when choosing important products, like car seats and high chairs for my bosses. I like the books because they are simple and to the point, you don’t have to read 12 pages to find the one sentence of actually useful information you wanted about diaper rashes.

Bringing up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman:  A great book about an American woman in Paris, and her discovery, and conversion into French parenting.  When I read this book I was shocked by how similar my “parenting style” is to the French parenting style.  The book helped me to feel more confident in my choices and gave me some more useful tips on sleep and eating.  A great book for someone who is unsure of what parenting style they want to go with!

Baby-led weening by Gill Rapley and Tracey MurkettFor those who are interested in, or want to know more about baby-led weening.