Let’s Get This Party Started!!
Post Contributed by: Amy Svensson M.A., CCC-SLP
It is the time of year when we all have resolutions. Not sure about you, but I have 5 for 2014 (I need a buffer) … well now 4 since after only 13 days into the New Year, I failed miserably at keeping one of them. It was for the birds. One day, a few months back, I found my glasses in our kitchen freezer of which I have no idea how they ended up in there. This led me to Resolution #1: Not multi-tasking so much. I realized yesterday that I had to let that one go. It was an epic failure after spending 2 hours looking for my ONLY set of car keys on a day I had 101 errands to run. After the 2 hours of searching elapsed, I came to find out the keys landed themselves in our trash. Apparently I threw them in there while cleaning out my purse. Sigh!!!!! In my defense, what mom does not multi-task to max capacity??? Resolutions #2 (getting back to my Barre class at the gym 2x per week), #3 (not snacking after 8 p.m.), and #4 (no wine on weekdays) are rather boring. Resolution #5 is actually not a new resolution, but a 9 year-old one I want to keep since earning the very important title of ‘Mom.’ This resolution is the most important one for me to keep. It far surpasses the others. Time flies they say!! So actually #5 should be ‘Resolution #Infinity’: Enrich my children with my time, energy, and love – ALWAYS.
It is a constant battle for me in my head of all that I need to get done, but thankfully my heart always prevails. I know my kids will only be young once. I know these years will be gone in the blink of an eye. I know this first hand not only from my wise mom telling me it to be so but also because I just heard from one of my best friends that her 16 year-old daughter who I met when she was 6-years old just got her driver’s license last week. Oh Man!!!
There are so many language enriching, confidence building, and bonding experiences I have vowed to do with my own children as I go through the ages and stages with them. Some I have done multiple times while others are new experiences. Life is learned through experience and simply just being present to take it ALL in.
Drop it all to…
- Listen to music… I do not know about you, but I despise starting my day out stressed. When the kids start stretching in the a.m. I play soft music for the house to hear. They slowly wake up. Once we are all downstairs and ready, we get the party started. We turn the music up loud and dance together for one song. It is then time for breakfast and catching the bus. Fun! (Excellent for: vocabulary building as they get exposed to new songs and lyrics, memory since they will start to memorize the words to songs, and should stuttering be of concern, singing can assist with smooth speech)
- Go ice skating – Did this with my kids a couple of weeks ago for the 1st time since I was 8 years old. I put myself out there and low and behold had a blast. We all did. My kids (5 years and 9 years) were reluctant to get on the slippery stuff, but after 2 hours they did not want to leave and are begging to go back. I am not sure what hurt more, my aging body or the muscles in my face from laughing so hard. (Targets: confidence, trust, vocabulary for ‘all things winter’)
- Collect rocks – Any time we go on a day trip, long trip, or simply on a walk we look for cool rocks. When we get home we label them with the location and date. We have a jar full of happy memories to reminisce about. You can also try and find different shaped or unique rocks. My daughter and I search high and low for rocks shaped like a heart. (Targets: descriptive concepts – big/little, light/heavy, rough/smooth – shapes, colors, & memory as you reminisce details for years to come).
- Make a book – We recently had some very close friends move away. My youngest misses his friend very much. Throughout the year I collect crafts in the $1 spot at the local craft store. I store all these ‘finds’ in a catch-all craft bin to pull out when I need to go on the phone or when he says his most favorite thing, “Mom, what do I do?” Last week he was really missing his friend so he and I sat together to pick out his 2 most favorite pictures of them. We printed them out and put them in a book that he meticulously decorated with his own drawings and stickers. It was so fun to hear from my friend letting us know her daughter got the book and it made her smile ear-to-ear. It was a wonderful teachable moment for caring, compassion, and the true meaning of friendship.
- The obvious … visit a park – The swings, oh the swings. I used to LOVE them as a kid, but now they just make me ill – so I thought. I love just swinging, pumping, and chatting with my kids while we sway back-and-forth. I don’t go as high as I used to go, but my kids love trying to sync up with me. During our latest swinging session, my son said to me, ‘Mom, is there anything on your mind? Anything you have on your heart?’ We swayed back and forth for a good 20 minutes just talking. In a world inundated with tech input, verbal communication and dialogue is a skill I will always hone in on with my children.
- Unpack the groceries … together – OK, I know this will take 3x as long if you have a toddler helping you, but there is SO much vocabulary and articulation practice they can get ‘helping’ you. Talk about the food categories, colors, & descriptive concepts (big/little, rough/smooth, light/heavy, etc.). Praise them for all their effort. If you have an early elementary age child or tween, use this time to chat and teach them their help is very valuable. If they put things where they don’t belong, no worries (fix it later – kind of like when my husband vacuums or does the laundry) and don’t draw it to their attention. Just be grateful they were helping and TALKING not texting.
- Technology Cleanse – Our family ‘goes dark’ on a regular basis to just get away from the stimulation and constant inundation. We pull out games, Legos, puzzles, etc. The benefits are numerous, but playing games is excellent for turn-taking, teaching the concept of winning and losing and good sportsmanship.
- Plant a seed – Right about now is the time I buy seed germination kits from our local garden center. The kids each have their own to decorate however they wish to make it ‘their own.’ This is an excellent activity for language and vocabulary expansion, learning/improving sequencing skills (planting in the correct steps), a way to incorporate written expression for school-age children (writing down daily observations), and encouraging tactile sensory stimulation with the soil. We plant our seeds and put them in a well-lit area to observe each day. When the threat of frost is gone, each of my children has their own planter to transplant their herbs or fruit into to enjoy all spring and summer.
- Grab your sleeping bag – For special occasions (birthdays, school breaks, etc.) we pop popcorn, pick a family-friendly movie and cozy up to enjoy a family sleepover.
- Head into the kitchen – Cooking and baking are excellent ways to spend time together. For older children, you can start by having your child find a recipe to make. Have them write down all the ingredients needed. Then head to the grocery store together and get all the ingredients. They will need to be the one to ask for assistance if they can’t find an item (confidence building). Once back in the kitchen, it is important for them to follow directions in the correct steps (reading or auditory comprehension) so that the recipe turns out.
There are so many inexpensive ways to be a mindful parent. Go ahead, get your party started! Cheers! (Yes, it is a weekday and I am having a glass of wine because Resolution #Infinity has wiped me out for the day. There goes Resolution #4) ~A