Tag Archives: kids

Let your kids find their own friendships, or interfere?

A theme that keeps resonating for me is how I project my own childhood experiences onto my children.

It’s obvious that Anna is well liked by her peers, but she hasn’t really made any good close friends. She seems mostly fine with it, and I struggle to not try to force her in to relationships.

I just read this blog post from a woman who was confronted as an adult by this other woman who claims that she had been excluded by her as they were growing up. The author remembers her mom trying to force her to be friends with “Nadia,” and always being annoyed that she had be be around her when she really didn’t even like her that much. Nadia, on the other hand, considered this woman her friend, and was so hurt that she wasn’t included all the time.

It really struck me that I have to let my kids develop their own relationships. In fact, earlier in the school year there was a dear little girl who was wanting to play with Anna at school. Our families are friends, but Anna didn’t seem to want to be with her at school. I couldn’t understand it, and talked to her about it a little. We talked about how it might hurt that girl’s feelings, but I was also concerned for Anna, wanting her to have “best friend.” Here was this girl ready and willing to play that role, and Anna didn’t want it.

I didn’t try to force it, though. Despite my urge to. Eventually, it seems to have worked itself out. The girls are friends, certainly.

But what is it that makes Eric able to walk on a playground and immediately find some kids to play with, and Anna is usually the loner? I know she wants to play with the other kids, but maybe she doesn’t know how to initiate the engagement?

I’m not sure if I should try to help her, or just let it happen the way it happens.

This weekend, we were at a birthday party that was like a big playdate. Super fun! Anna was running around with two girls, and I thought – “good! she’s made some friends!” But then I saw the two girls run one way, and Anna came  dejectedly over to me and said, “Well that’s not very convenient!”

Once I got my snicker under control over her vocabulary, I asked her what was inconvenient. Apparently, the girls had decided to go outside on the teeter-totter, and obviously there was only room for two. I suggested that Anna ask the girls to take turns with her so she could be included, which she thought was a good idea.

But I just don’t know how much to interfere, and what kinds of tools I should be giving Anna for dealing with these types of situations, or tools for making friends. Or maybe I shouldn’t do any more than I am. I don’t know. I’m fairly certain that forcing friendships won’t actually result in friendships, but how much can we expect kids to be inclusive so nobody is left out?

Any advice for me?

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ID bracelets add a level of security to traveling with kiddos

When Brian suggested we get oldschool-style metal ID bracelets for the kids when we went to Disney World, I thought, “Duh! Why didn’t I think of that?”

Simple and functional, and only about $10 each.

We both still have our identification bracelets from when we were kids, engraved with our names, addresses and phone numbers. Mine has a sunshine on the front. Of course.

We ordered bracelets for the kids from MakeMeThis.com. The fronts have their first name, the backs have Brian’s name and mobile number and my name and mobile number. We got both bracelets for about $22 including shipping.

We made the kids wear their bracelets every day on our trip. We talked about what to do if they got separated from us: hold still, remain calm. Our names and phone numbers are on the back of your bracelet.

We never had to use them in the parks themselves – Eric got lost one day at Magic Kingdom, but he was lost, not us. He didn’t seem to think anything was wrong with him wandering around on his own. We were frantically searching for him for hours minutes, and thanks to the awesome and professional cast members, were able to find him fairly quickly.

We did get to test the bracelets on our last day. Brian and I were busy packing up the room at All Star Movies, and since we were so close to the giant Toy Story structures, we let the kids play outside unsupervised. I know, you can judge us if you want. Our scariest moments as parents have happened when we’re in a hurry and not paying close enough attention to the parasites.

Brian got a call on his phone, some guy asked him if he was missing an Eric. “No…” Brian says, “He’s right here…”

Shit, he’s not right here. And he’s not right out there….

Eric had gotten turned around trying to come back to our room from the giant toys (50′ away, btw), and *crying* was looking all around for us. This man asked him if he was lost, and Eric nodded yes, and held up his wrist to show the guy his bracelet. Kid and parents reunited. We didn’t even know he was missing – how scary is that?? But the bracelet worked, dammit – it worked!

Anna doesn’t think her bracelet is very comfortable, but asked us recently what she should do if she’s lost and doesn’t have her bracelet on. So I may look into a girlier version that she’s willing to wear all the time. Not that the bracelet should replace her knowing our phone number, but it can’t hurt.

Here is a prettier version available, it just didn’t seem necessary for our trip, but I will probably get one for Anna before too long:

Prettier version, available via Amazon for about $30

Have you used identification bracelets when traveling with your kids to Disney World or anywhere else? Frankly, I feel safer at Disney World than most places – the staff there really is amazing – but I never want to be complacent about my childrens’ safety.

Safe travels,
~Krista

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The Advent of Anna’s Birthday, and also… Advent.

My poor little Anna has been obsessing about her birthday since September.

When will it be my birthday?
Why is my brother’s birthday before mine, but I’m older than him?
I can’t wait for it to be my birthday!

I was worried that she would spend so much energy worrying about this one day, that it would come and go and then she’d be disappointed.

I made a 3-month calendar for her to check off the days, and that kind of worked for a while, but I wanted something more special. Not that I want to indulge her every five-year-old whim, but I see value in helping her enjoy the anticipation of the whole experience, not just the day itself.

I’ve been looking at a lot of different Advent calendars, with the plan of making the first 11 days of December be all about Anna’s birthday. I saw a lot that were adorable and many that were complicated, and some that seem to take over a whole room. Since I’m trying to simplify, not complicate my life and living space, I rejected most of them.

My cousin Jackie, proprietress of Brow Betty – check it out, you’ll be glad you did! – posted this pic on Facebook, and I was hooked. How cute and simple!

Each one is a matchbook, filled with a message promising family activities or treats. Love it!

So we copied Jackie to a certain extent, and made Anna boxes to lead up to December 11:

December 1-11, ready to be lined up on the piano

And then made Christmas boxes for December 12-25:

We lined the Advent of Christmas boxes along the mirror on the mantel. I’ve filled some of them with activities or treats, but I need to get the others filled quickly! The advent of Anna’s birthday boxes were lined up on the piano, and the completed days went back in to the silver snowflake bowl.

It's easy to count down the days, because the kids can clearly see how many boxes are left!

I bought the matches at Winco in packs of 10 for only 50¢ each, and now we have a ton of matches…

That’s alright, I like to light candles.

Most of the papers we already had on hand. I bought a few sheets of number stickers at Michael’s for $3 each, and a few extra sheets of paper at 4/$1. I think we spent a grand total of $9.50 on this activity. Of course we already had tape, glue and fancy scissors.

What do you think? I’m kind of loving it!

Happy holidays,
~Krista

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Better Than a Piggy Bank

We’ve been talking a lot about saving money lately, and my mother-in-law Judy even wrote a guest post about it. We are setting some easily-attainable goals for the kids, and encouraging them to earn money by helping around the house.

We have a few different piggy banks, a zebra bank, and a really awesome bank that my mother in law made for Anna when she was a baby. But I wanted a way for the kids to see how their pile of change was adding up, so I combined our love of making a mess doing craft projects with our need for new money vessels.

I jabbed a slit into the tops of two canning jars, and we started gluing things on! The key is to keep the lid free and clear enough to be able to open it up whenever we need to count it or when it's finally time to buy something.

We also made sure to leave a clear space on each jar so we could see the money adding up.

I tied the bow for Anna, otherwise she did it all herself. Eric wanted Lightening McQeen on his, since he's saving up to buy a specific toy car. Anna still is fixated on Disney World, so I'm trying to help her identify something more immediately-attainable to save for that she can take to Disney World!

What do you think? I’m really loving these jars. It seems more exciting to put the money in when the kids have decorated the jars themselves!

~Krista

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Teaching Kids the Value of Saving Money {Guest Post by Judy}

I’m delighted to introduce you to my mother-in-law! Judy is a very smart lady, and she raised a really awesome man that I was fortunate enough to marry. I wrote a recent post on teaching kids (and myself!) to save and value money, and it struck a chord with Judy. So here is her response. I hope she writes a follow-up on helping your kids plan a budget!

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My daughter-in-law, Krista Swan, recently asked how to teach young children to save money. This is a subject that I have thought long and hard about. I believe that good money management is one of the most important lessons we can teach our children and learning to save is the place to begin.

Break the cycle of instant gratification • Lead by example and save the money before you buy something. Let your child know that you would really like to have that new computer (substitute your own want here) and then show them that you have to save the money before you buy it.

Help your child save for something he/she really wants • Choosing the right goal may be a bit tricky. Start slow and set the bar low enough that your child won’t get too discouraged before it is reached.

Provide a means to earn money • You may want to give your child an allowance which can depend on him/her doing some chores around the house. Paying for additional chores will help promote a good work ethic and allow your child to reach the goal more quickly. If you choose to do this, resist the temptation to grossly overpay your child. It could distort the value of work. Birthday and holiday gifts can help the money add up quickly and allow the child to make larger purchases.

Count the savings regularly • Encourage your child to count their savings and plan for reaching the goal. Watching the money add up gives encouragement and they learn to count money.

Let your child make the purchase • The big day is finally here – make this a huge event! Take your child to the store and let them pay for the item by themselves.

They are going to make mistakes but resist the urge to step in when they decide to blow their savings on something that you consider worthless, money they save should be theirs to spend as they choose – within reason.

This is the easy stuff – the real fun begins when your child is old enough to learn about budgeting!

~Judy

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Hanging around… {Wordless Wednesday}

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Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou

I’m a mess. I keep crying randomly. And different things pop in to my head, like, “his little body was dragged on the pavement…” or, “I shouldn’t have been so far in front of him…” and I just lose it. I just can’t express enough how grateful I am that he’s not more seriously hurt. I really believe an angel must have been wrapped around him.

When I think about how close I came to losing Eric, I can’t even breathe.

I honestly don’t know how a parent recovers from losing a child. I know they do, I know it’s possible, but it’s inconceivable at this point.

When we were staying at The Grand Floridian for the Disney Social Media Moms conference, there were about 3 seconds when Brian and I thought Eric had fallen off the 5th floor balcony. We kept trying to keep the kids off the balcony, but we were distracted with packing, and they kept sneaking back out there. The walls were pretty high, but they easily stood on chairs to look over the top of the wall. We heard a **THUNK** and Brian said, “WHERE’S ERIC?”

I looked out on the balcony, and I only saw Anna. These are the thoughts that raced through my head during the three seconds it took me to get from the bed to out on the balcony:

No no no no no. Maybe he wasn’t out there.No, he just passed me, he was out there. Maybe there’s another landing below our balcony, and he landed on that. No, I don’t think there was. Is there any way a human being could survive a fall from a 5th floor balcony? Maybe a miracle kept him alive? If I look over the edge, will he be laying on the ground way down there? Maybe he wasn’t out there.

I made it to the balcony, and he was in the corner, obscured by the curtain from inside. The THUNK was him falling off his chair into the wall of our room. We got both kids back inside, and Brian and I looked at each other, shaking our heads. I’m shaking my head now. That terror of what might have been has haunted me since March. I had a hard time even writing about the conference, because I kept thinking about what almost happened to Eric.

I know it doesn’t make sense to dwell on what could have – but didn’t – happen, but we already live in terror as parents, right? Our most important job IN THE WORLD is keeping these kids safe. There are all kinds of other jobs that fall in line after that, like “help them be good humans” and “educate them.” But the most important one is certainly, “keep them alive.”

Whenever I think about that balcony incident, I have a visceral reaction. I shake my head and put my hands in front of my face, and take a step backward.  Brian is similarly haunted by a time he took the kids hiking, and Eric fell off a cliff. He doesn’t know what happened exactly, just that one second he noticed Eric was losing his balance, and the next second he was on the ground, holding on to Eric’s jacket in one hand, and his t-shirt in the other, and sliding down the hill himself, grabbing for an arm. Fortunately neither of them were hurt, and they got back on the trail.

I’ve had this secret dark fear since March. That my son is on borrowed time. When I saw that car turning in to him and dragging him under, that’s what I thought. That my fears were coming true. I hesitate to even write that down, and I’ve never spoken it to anyone. Because I don’t want to manifest it. But here’s what I say. Clearly, an angel was wrapped around my son yesterday. So OK, Angel – You keep at it! Keep him alive! I will continue to do my best, but I really need you! Thankyouthankyouthankyou

~Krista

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