Adventures in Unschooling

Posts Tagged ‘natural toys

Christmas is over…at least on one side of the family. We spent Christmas with my husband’s side of the family and soon we’ll be off to spend some with mine.

A little welcome home present was that we came home to no water…AGAIN!!! I am trying really hard not to focus on that though.

It was a great week. I relaxed and cooked (which I love doing). The kids had other people to keep them distracted but I am glad to be back home where I can relax with just my kids and husband.

Again we were surprised by the great ideas that people came up with for gifts for the kids.

My favorites were:

A digital camera for Trey. A trampoline for the boys. A tub of Tinkertoys for the boys, the Melissa and Doug dress up boy’s doll (which I thought would be boring but the kids are certainly having a great time playing with it) and a Melissa and Doug pizza set. They also got some craft stuff, homeschooling stuff, Anna got some clothes as well as her bamboletta

(which is so in love with) and they all got some money which is always nice. The boys have already decided they want to spend it on LEGO. They also got plenty of books and some sports stuff. Not too bad overall.

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I think that often times people have such weird ways of trying to get their kids to comply with what they think are reasonable requests.

This weekend I had to fight off two people from constantly trying to bride my kids to finish their plates.

“If you finish all your food you can have desert” and “If you don’t finish you won’t get anything else to eat until supper time.” I think we have heard those many times ourselves.

So we reward gluttony with more food? Or a full stomach with candy? And we punish kids who are disinterested or not hungry by making them be hungry for the rest of the day?

I don’t think that not eating is a “bad” behaviour.

My family keeps telling me that it worries them that Trey (4) barely eats anything past 10 am. I offer plenty of food and he chooses whether or not he wants to eat.

He is growing like a weed, intelligent and super active. I’d say he isn’t suffering.

I happen to be an habitual over-eater (thank goodness I am vegetarian or I’d be a lot heavier). And I blame my upbringing for that.

When I am around food I can’t help myself. If there is still food on my plate I HAVE to finish. I don’t know why I can’t break that but I do know why I do it.

My parents always bugged me to finish my plate and I can’t help myself now. It’s been ground in deep.

My family also thinks that we are encouraging him to be a picky eater. I don’t think that that is the case either. My husband and I crave variety and we eat a wide range of ethnic dishes and try lots of different kinds of plant foods.

My children will never be “picky eaters” just because we allowed them the right to choose not to eat. If I just caved and gave him peanut butter and jam (or pancakes) three meals a day then yes, I would be promoting picky-eating.

My dad used to force me to eat breakfast sausages all throughout my childhood. I would gag trying to eat them and I have NEVER got used to them. I couldn’t stand them then and I can’t stand them now.

My sister had the same experience with peas (which she won’t eat today either). I don’t think you can cure dislikes to food. Why force it?

In my house we try not to make food into treats. It’s difficult though because we often think of food as treats ourselves. But, we celebrate with snacks and meals at the restaurant. We get everyone ice cream after swimming. I am still learning and trying to deprogram myself in a lot of different areas. It’s tough but it will be worth it.

And boy am I relieved that we limit our kids’ screen time.

I had the opportunity to observe an 18 month old completely zonk out every time the TV was turned on.

At one point he saw a movie start on the TV and he grabbed his blankie and plunked himself down in front of the TV.

And the parents thought that this was cute!

My kids use TV as background noise. If they watch a movie from beginning to end they are either sick or exhausted. My kids have better ways of entertaining themselves. Maybe their environment has something to do with it.

My husband and I are quite active. Our kids are used to going anywhere and everywhere. Their toys are simple and have brought hours and hours of imaginative play.

This toddler I observed this weekend didn’t venture very much. When he touched something his hands were slapped.

And his toys were all made out of plastic and almost all of them where animated in some form. Everything played music or moved. How much imagination is required for those toys?

How fun are those toys in the long run?

This kid even had a TV in his room so he could watch Baby Einstein to put him to sleep!

I am far from the perfect parent. I do, however, try my best to constantly read and improve my parenting technique. It takes time to retrain behaviour. I still yell sometimes. And I still revert to rewards and punishments for some things. I don’t like it but sometimes it comes out of my mouth before I have a chance to stop it.

It is really hard for me that I don’t have any supportive parents around though. My family is quite adamant that I am too lenient. I think they are too strict. Not everything needs to be a big deal. My kids got reprimanded when they brought small toys onto the kitchen table! They often eat with their toys next to them. It doesn’t contaminate their food and they don’t touch the toys with their spaghetti hands. And even if they did. Who cares?! What is the big deal?

If it doesn’t hurt anyone why make a mountain out of a mole hill?

But I guess that’s the difference between raising kids that are placid and obedient vs. self-controlled, self-motivated, confident and vibrant.

Here is to parents who think and try!

With all that snow and wind we have been staying inside as much as possible. We did have to take a trip to return items at the library and we let the boys play while we were there, but other than that we have spent most of the weekend playing indoors, reading and watching movies.

dsc04452This afternoon we built a fort in the kitchen/livingroom. Then we grabbed a pile of books (and the boys grabbed their toys) and we all cuddled into the fort for some family reading time.

Since I have been able to start reading my own books again I spent a few hours last night reading The Creative Family.I had only skimmed through it before but I’ve spent more time actually reading it and have found myself re-inspired. This morning I gathered up another small box full of my children’s plastic toys and packed that up to go to cousin Levi’s. Now the only plastic toys that they have left are Mr. Potato head toys, Lego, a xylophone, a few sport items (a plastic bat and ball and a golf set) and the workbench and tools my parents bought them for Christmas.

I also put together a more extensive box of fabric. They had some large pieces they used as capes etc. but now they have all sort of scraps for playing with and touching. I imagine that Anna will enjoy this more as she learns to crawl and walk than my boys are but still. It’ll be there for whomever wants it.

It feels strangely therapeutic to get rid of plastic garbage. And now with our strict no more plastic crap entering our house rule we are well on our way to a healthier and more stimulating home.

My big projects for their playroom right now is trying to find wood crates or wicker baskets for their toys instead of plastic tubs. It has to be durable since they use the tubs as cars and stairs and castles and they must be able to handle that rough play. I am also looking to obtain some embroidery supplies second hand. I think the boys might like that as an activity.

I would also like to get them some more musical instruments. They only have kid versions right now. This won’t be a problem for us as my hubby and I are both very appreciative of music but we need to come up with some extra money for good quality pieces first. And space, as always, is an issue.

It’s nice to have projects and these will likely keep me busy as I try to thrift as much of these as possible.