3 Ways to Get Your Kids to Help Clean…and not moan about it

Every night (well most nights) I do what I call a “power blitz” clean up in my house. I motor through the house picking up items and putting them where the belong.

I shut closet doors, push dining room chairs in, put shoes back in shoe baskets, hang up jackets…that kind of thing. It’s so damn satisfying to see how much better (cleaner) everything appears after just 10 minutes.

Often I ask the children to help with the tidy up process. They groan (and moan and complain) and I ignore it.  Rushing by them with a ‘whoosh’ I give them simple requests such as:

“Just tidy up the bathroom and put stuff back where it belongs.” {like putting the toothbrush back in the basket instead of leaving it on the counter…}

“Make sure all your dirty clothes are in your hamper and not stuffed under a couch.” {true story. the sock is purple. I refuse to pick it up…}

“Empty your backpacks completely so I can get all the Tupperware back that currently lives in the bottom of them.” {thank god for Menchies spoons or my kids would be eating pudding with their fingers.}

Simple stuff. But the moans and groans always come…

Now I  get that they are kids. I get that they don’t wanna clean up. I get that they will cut corners to be able to go back to playing whatever they were doing before I so rudely interrupted.

But seriously…how hard is it to hang up your damn jacket when the hook is LITERALLY right above the place you chose to drop it? Apparently pretty hard.

So here’s what I’ve started to do to get them to do their part and feel good about it:

Be an Example

If I don’t make my bed everyday why do they have to make theirs? If I leave my shoes sitting out why would they put theirs away? If I leave my dirty dishes on the counter.. You know where I’m going with this. Be the change you want to see in your home.

Set realistic goals

Remember that kids have varying capabilities based on their age. My girls are 3 years apart and yet I often find myself expecting the same of my youngest as I do her older sister. Setting realistic goals for each individual child will help everyone feel accomplished.

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Follow Through

This is one I really need to work on. Like most parents I’m really good with saying “if you don’t do this then you wont get that…” and then not following through. Often it’s because taking away a luxury like TV time will make my life harder and so it’s easy to give in. And my kids were on to me. Now I’m taking a harder line and following through on punishments and – surprise, surprise – things are getting done.

By sticking to these three rule I’m finding it much easier to get my kids to help around the house with a smile on their face.  I hope they work for you too!

Good luck!

 

Fireworks & Flashbacks…

Every year when the Celebration of Light dates are released we say – “let’s take the girls right downtown this year and really experience them up close.” And it sounds like a great plan until we remember that means getting there 5 hours early to secure a spot and fighting crowds of thousands.

Suddenly the great idea doesn’t sound so great and we usually decide to watch from the other side of the water in stead.

This year that all changed thanks to a very kind offer I received at work for 4 tickets to sit in the reserved grandstand seats at English Bay.  We could arrive at 9:55pm if we wanted and still have some of the best seats in the house.

It was Disney putting on the show on Saturday and the crowd was expected to be record breaking – we found out later that it was so big they had to close down access to English Bay!

We decided to take the Canada Line downtown and then walk down Robson to fully experience the evening. We stopped for ice cream along the way….

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We were in no rush – reserved seats remember? – so it was a lovely little Saturday night stroll…just us and 125,000 of our closest friends.

We got to Denman – which was closed to cars – and walked down the middle of the road pointing out the restaurants we used to frequent when we lived in the area.

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Then we detoured down an alley to show them the building where we lived way back before we were even married.

It was very odd walking down that alley where hubby and I had walked so many times before – just the two of us – now each of us holding the hand of one of our daughters.

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The view was so familiar and at the same time the memory so distant. We finally made it to the little building with its private courtyard and pointed out the window of the 400 sq. ft bachelor that first daddy lived in and then we both did.

The girls were kind enough to pretend to be really interested when all they wanted was to get to the fireworks already. And so we headed down towards the beach and the huge crowd.

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I have to say – walking along that road – so many happy people around us my thoughts turned to the recent events in Nice and how horrific that must have been. I hate that is even something we need to think about but I was on high alert as we walked through the crowd and was definitely holding on a little too tight to my little ones hand.

Finally…we made it to our seats in the YVR observation deck and – oh my god! – the view was amazing!

 

It was 9:35 so we watched the crowds for a bit, hit up the washroom (no lines!) and then it was show time…

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The show was really amazing and it was so much fun to sing along to the Disney songs. Of course, it was over all too quickly and then it was time to face the crowds again and make our way to the Canada Line station to come home. The line at the station was huge – and the girls were exhausted at this point…

Luckily it moved quickly (and very efficiently considering it was transit!) and we were soon on the train coming home. A very enjoyable night behind us and a promise finally fulfilled.

Let’s (maybe) do it again next year…

 

 

A Girl and Her Lamb

The very first baby item I bought when I found out I was pregnant with my first baby was a stuffed lamb.

I had a stuffed lamb when I was a little girl and when I spotted this one in Chapters one day and absolutely had to have it. It was pure white, soft as – well – a babies bottom, and had the perfect little sleepy expression on it’s face. I fell in love.

Lamby lived in the crib long before we brought our first baby girl home. They bonded right from the start and he has slept with her every night since.

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He has gone on all of our trips with us.

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Accompanied my girl to every sleepover.

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He has played many different roles in my girls imaginary worlds.

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And provided comfort when she was scared (like her first visit to the Orthodontist)…

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He isn’t as white as he once was and his neck is a little more wobbly than it used to be. But that sleepy look remains…

Last week, one more before school, my girl came into my room with a dark, concerned look on her face.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, expecting a complaint about her sister to be the cause.

She shocked me by bursting into tears and sobbing. Like from the depths of her soul sobbing. She was wounded.

I dropped everything and ran to her. It was that kind of sob…

“I can’t find Lamby!” she finally managed to get out between her cries of anguish. “He’s just gone.”

Now…I relaxed slightly at her words because really…it’s a stuffie we’re talking about here. Plus, where could he have gone since bedtime when we hadn’t left the house?

“I’m sure he’s in your bedroom.” I reassured her as I wiped the tears from her face. “He’s just hiding on you.”

And you are absolutely the worst “looker for things” I have ever met. I thought…but didn’t say…

Little sister joined the hunt and we tore the room apart. And we found him. Squished between the bed and the wall – his little face looking up and just waiting to be found.

The relief on her face was so evident. She pulled Lamby to her into a big hug and looked at him right in the face as if to make sure he was okay.

And that’s when I realized that Lamby was much more than ‘just a stuffie’ – he’s a member of our family.

A Day at Wesbrook Village

One of the best things about living in Vancouver is there is no shortage of places to go and things to do with the kids. You can hike up in the mountains, spend the day at a waterpark, head to the Aquarium or Zoo, or explore one of the many nature or animal sanctuaries.

So many options but…not so many that are close by to where we live. They are all – for the most part – a 45-60 minute drive away.  And when your kids are asking “are we there yet?” every 5 minutes it feels like a lot longer.

That’s why it’s such a score to find a kid-friendly area with lots of activity & food options that is within a 30 minute drive.  You find that and you go back…again and again.  And that’s what we found at Wesbrook Village. This new(ish) community development is located near UBC at the edge of Pacific Spirit Park and has so much for families to do when they are there.

I like to think of us as early adopters of Wesbrook because we discovered it around 3 years ago – when it had newly opened. My girls were begging for frozen yogurt and google told me the closest Menchie’s was located in Wesbrook Village – about 25mins away.

Our drive there was quick and scenic – most of it along South West Marine Drive. When we arrived I was so pleased to find free parking (!) and we set out to explore. What we discovered was an area that had much more to offer than just frozen yogurt.

I took this picture that day – post Menchies – the girls spent a good 40 minutes running around this fountain. Who needs an awesome playground when you have this?

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Since that day we have been back many times – most recently for their Kids Day event in April. It was my youngest daughter’s birthday so she was pretty pumped about all the fun activities and special deals they had planned.

We had a great time and got to discover many new additions to the area that we hadn’t already experienced.

Like taking a walk on the trails through Pacific Spirit Park. We were lucky on Kids Day to have a guide to teach the kids about what they see and experience in the park…but even without a guide its a lovely place to spend some time.

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Then there was Biercraft. I never would have guessed that this restaurant was kid friendly but it was. My kids loved their meals off the kids menu and hubby was pretty happy to be able to get a nice flight of craft beers to go along with his…

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One part of the Village that we are already very familiar with is all of there amazing outdoor spaces. There are 4 playgrounds at Wesbrook Village so lots of options. My girls always lean towards Nobel Park (at the south end) because of the big climbing jungle and the river that they can jump over and splash in.

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seriously…how pretty is that?

So next time you’re looking for somewhere to hangout with the kids that close to the city I highly recommend checking out Wesbrook Village.

Maybe we will see you there…

Enjoying the Cuddles

We are approaching what I consider to be two pretty big milestone birthdays for my girls next month – 10 and 7.

10 is big for the obvious reason that it is double digits – how can I possibly have a child that is in the double digits?! 7 is just an age that feels so much older than 6. I wrote about this feeling before when my oldest child turned 7…but that is only exacerbated with my baby about to hit that milestone as well.

Every milestone with her is more significant. Maybe this is how the younger child gets to make up emotional ground on their older siblings. True the first time you experience a big moment with your first child – lost tooth, first haircut, starting kindergarten, etc – it is emotional. But when its the last time – last first tooth, last first steps, last first day of school – it is bittersweet and for me…really cuts to my core.

My girls are different in as many ways as they are the same. And one of the things I love the most about both of them is that they love to cuddle with their mummy. But with my oldest the moments are fewer and far between. Not so with my little one. Oh how she loves to cuddle…

And she especially knows when I need her the most. When I’m feeling down or exhausted or spread to thin. When I’m emotional and needy…she will always take that opportunity to crawl into my lap and share her warmth and her love. And it is a wonderful thing…

 

First Day of School 2015

After a summer that felt like it was gone in a blink of an eye…today was the first day of school.

Well…actually…we really should call it the first hour of school because that’s how long they were there for.

We went back to school shopping on Friday and the girls were so happy to put on their new running shoes and hoodies and backpacks and head out the door.

And so another school year begins…

Milestone Moment: Holes in the Ears

Today – after weeks of (seemingly endless) discussion and debate – my 9 year old decided she was ready to get her ears pierced. 

It was a big moment…for both of us. Because these are the moments that mark the passing of time. That mark her growing up.

I remember getting my ears pierced. I was 8 and it was a tremendously hellish experience.

My “ear care professional” was new…didn’t know what she was doing…and managed to get the “pain free” ear piercing gun stuck on my left earlobe.

And it hurt like a son of a &%@!#. I don’t actually remember how they managed to get the 2nd ear done but I suspect my mother had a hand in that black magic.  I picture myself unconscious on the chair…the offending gun still hanging from my left ear while my mother took matters into her own hand and finished the job herself.

Anyways…I digress. Luckily my daughters experience was quite the opposite of mine.

We went to Claire’s and I searched through the staff until I found one that looked closer to my age than my daugther’s and whose name tag had the word “Manager” on it.

She walked M through the steps and asked her to choose her earrings. After she chose her April birthstone it was over to the stool in the window.

The whole process was over in about 10 minutes – start to finish.

One of the things I love is that they do both ears at the same time. M knew what was coming when they tried to distract her with questions…but I think she was even surprised by how quickly it was done. 

The smile didn’t leave her face for hours after we left the mall.

When we were done with the piercing we took full advantage of the discounts Claire’s offers when you get your ears pierced. All their stainless steel earrings were $5 – so M got 4 pairs for when she is able to swap them out.

I have to say our experience at Claire’s was really fantastic. They have great information on their website about after care – including a video that my daughter really found helpful.

Mark another milestone down in the books…these moments just keep coming.

I’m not sure I’m ready for them…but I don’t seem to get a say anymore.