Parenting Tips Needed? There’s a Berenstain Bears Book for that

As I’ve mentioned before, we love reading together. We did 1000 Books Before Kindergarten and have read and own many Berenstain Bears books. Upon looking at the back cover of any Berenstain Bears book, I realize what an awesome collection there is to address many circumstances that kids may experience. Many valuable lessons and parenting tips can be learned from this sweet bear family.

Berenstain Bears Books

So…what’s going on in your family? I’m sure there’s a Berenstain Bears book for that!

Here are some of the titles available:

  • New Baby
  • Go to School
  • Go to the Doctor
  • Visit the Dentist
  • Moving Day
  • The Sitter
  • Go to Camp
  • Get in a Fight
  • In the Dark
  • The Messy Room
  • Trouble with Money
  • The Truth
  • Too Much TV
  • Mama’s New Job
  • Meet Santa Bear
  • Too Much Junk Food
  • Forget Their Manners
  • Learn About Strangers
  • No Girls Allowed
  • Too Much Birthday
  • Get Stage Fright
  • The Week at Grandma’s
  • Go Out for the Team
  • The Trouble with Friends
  • The Bad Habit
  • Trouble at School
  • The Bad Dream
  • The Double Dare
  • Get the Gimmies
  • The In-Crowd
  • Too Much Vacation
  • Trick or Treat
  • The Slumber Party
  • The Prize Pumpkin
  • Trouble with Pets
  • Don’t Pollute (anymore)
  • The Trouble with Grown-ups
  • And the Golden Rule

And we even have a cute mini-storybook called The Berenstain Bears and the Wild, Wild Honey.  More titles are available in that format as well.

While we don’t read the Berenstain Bears every night, I do like to pull out specific titles every so often to help remind my kids of good behavior!  In particular, I’m thinking of the Golden Rule book!

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Our Normal vs. Over the Top Last Day of School Ideas

I recently read “10 Ways to Celebrate School’s End with your Kids” in a local parenting newspaper. First, don’t we all love such top 10 lists? Those darn headlines just suck us in.

Anyway, back to the article.

Some ideas are fine, realistic ideas that I deem normal for our family, while others just are way over the top ideas that I will NOT be doing with my kids. I am all for making the end of school year special and celebrating my oldest completing her year as a four year old kindergartener, but let’s not get all crazy about it! I don’t want the end of the school year to eclipse even more important events, such as birthdays, Christmas and Easter.

Big sister waving goodbye on her 1st day of school. Sniff. Sniff.

Big sister waving goodbye on her 1st day of 4K. I’ll need to take an end of year picture too!

At any rate, here’s our list of normal vs. over the top ideas for the last day of school:

  1. Last Day of School Indicators – I’ll frequently say, “Honey, it’s the last day of school” to help motivate my daughter to get ready. (Article suggests taping crepe paper streamers on their door. No thanks.)
  2. Special Breakfast – In the interest of being on time and NOT missing her bus, I’ll make a normal breakfast. (Article suggests party food – an ice cream sundae with cereal topping. Hmmm…sounds like too much sugar to add to the inherent excitement of the last day. No thanks.)
  3. Plan something fun – YES, we are going to go out to eat as a family and let my daughter choose where we go. (Article says a friend’s mom rents a bounce house for the last day & has kids over for a play date. Wow! Sounds like fun, but we’ll go smaller scale.)
  4. Last day outfit – My daughter will wear whatever she chooses to leave on time. She chose her outfit on the first day as well; see picture above. Now I just have to remember to take a picture! (Article suggests a special last day of school outfit, which is not a bad idea.)
  5. Invite friends over – Check – we have two play dates this week, though not on the “BIG DAY.” I’m also trying to get done my home related chores & errands, so we can just focus on having fun on her last day of school.
  6. Plan summer activities – We will talk about our summer plans as a family. (Article suggests creating a summer bucket list as a family.)
  7. Plan stay-up-late activities – I’m sure we’ll do something fun as a family after eating out. (Article suggests a movie night & having their favorite movie snacks to keep them fed until midnight. Fortunately, a late bedtime for us is probably 8:30 – 9 pm.)
  8. Balloons – I don’t think I’ll celebrate with balloons after having to break up sibling fights about balloons and having some balloon-related injuries in our house. (Article suggests filling back of car with balloons as you pick up your kid from school.) Another over the top idea is greeting your kids with a water gun fight when they get off the bus. I think I’ll just give her a big hug instead!
  9. Stock up on summer fun – This goes back to #6. We have a fun summer planned, and I’ll probably troll Pinterest for some fun activities from time to time.
  10. Stop being a grown up for awhile – Yes, we can all stand to let loose and have fun with the last day of school.

I am certainly proud of my daughter’s first official year in school, and I look forward to celebrating and enjoying summer with her. Reading this article sort of made me feel like a “stick in the mud,” but, as with anything, I think you have to determine what makes sense for your family, and create your own traditions for big days. The excitement of the last school day is a given (for most kids & parents anyway), so I’ll be happy to play off of her mood, be silly, and have fun!

Cheers to a great school year & summer ahead!

How do you feel about these last day of school ideas?

Age Two – Take Two

Now that Daddy O. and I are in the throes of age two for the second time around (thus Age Two – Take Two), we can’t help but feel it’s a little easier. Some possible explanations:

  • Maybe we’ve honed our parenting skills for the toddler years, remembering what worked well for big sister’s two-year-old antics.
  • Maybe we’re just a little more laid-back this time around.
  • Maybe God has answered my prayers for patience.
  • Most likely it’s a combination of all of the above.

It’s true that little brother is different than big sister in many ways.  He’s much more talkative, a little more easy-going, more physical in terms of biting and hitting, and is definitely into trains, cars, and balls. Big sister is more than happy to tattle on him whenever he breaks a rule.  She is very black and white and likes things to go HER way when she plays with little brother, though they can be so sweet together (see my post One Thing that Surprised Me Most as a Mom for more about the brother-sister relationship). During moments of conflict, I tend to give them space to see if they’ll figure it out on their own, but intervene when I hear screaming and crying.

Big Sister and Little Brother Age 2

My Two Year Old Cutie-pies (and 4 Year Old Big Sister). I think they are pretending to be kitties. 

Just like his sister (and parents), Little Brother is prone to stubbornness. This trait can lead to monumental tantrums – especially during times of conflict as we have learned!  A few ways that we try to stop tantrums that seem to work:

  • Distraction.  While little brother cried & screamed on a car ride over the holidays, I quick yelled, “Look – Christmas lights out your side (of the car).” The shiny Christmas cheer magically quieted him down.
  • Food Bribe. Little brother and I were having a standoff at the grocery store.  All of our gear and big sister were loaded into a shopping card already.  He didn’t WANT to go in THAT cart.  I didn’t want to reload everything in HIS chosen cart.  We waited. He screamed. We waited some more.  I checked in with him to see if he was ready to join us, and he screamed some more.  I waited more. Finally, I offered him a granola bar that he could eat if he rode in Mom’s cart.  He finally agreed. Another kind mom came up to me, having witness this all unfold, and complimented me on how I handled the situation.  It was really kind of her! Don’t we ALL hate tantrums in public?!
  • Asking questions. After some crying and screaming, I’ll calmly ask little brother, “What do you want?  I can’t understand you right now. Can you use words?” This can typically help.
  • Get favorite blankie & paci.  We find his favorite blanket and pacifier to help him calm down.  At two and a half, he doesn’t use his paci THAT much (mostly at night), but it still gives him comfort. Our dentist and pediatrician have encouraged us to simply let him give it up when he’s ready, so for now the pacifier and favorite blanket bring some peace and quiet to the raging two-year-old.
  • Time and space.  Sometimes you just have to let it out! Little brother has been wanting to hear the end of songs when we drive home, which means sitting in the car.  Sometimes, I oblige and let him listen until the song is over.  One day with below zero temperatures, it wasn’t going to happen, so I carried him unwillingly inside. I gave him time to cry & scream by himself, and in a few minutes he was ready to return to calmness and fun.

I’m curious to see how we continue to navigate Little Brother’s second year.  As is common with kids, just when you think you have things figured out, things can change! How do you cope with the terrible twos and tantrums?

In the spirit of #ThrowbackThursday, here are some older posts I wrote about parenting:

Have a great day and almost TGIF!

Boys vs. Girls

“Mom, is this a boy magazine?” my daughter asked me, picking up Car & Driver, her dad’s magazine of choice.  “No, sweetie it can be a girl’s or a boy’s magazine,” I responded.  Upon saying that, she proceeded to page through the magazine. (Side note: I WILL sometimes page through car magazines, though I did much more when I worked for an automotive company.)

In another instance, my husband was not too pleased with big sister’s dinnertime antics, so he told her, “Act like a lady.”  I added in, “No, please act like a kid with good mealtime manners.”

My daughter also reported that her female teacher at school had boy hair (it’s cut short) to which I replied, “Girls can have short hair or long hair.”

Having both a son and a daughter, we are constantly confronted with gender bias.  I want to raise both of my children with the idea that they can do whatever they want, regardless of what may be considered a girl or boy magazine, haircut, or acting like a lady or crazy little boy.

We try to avoid girl- or boy-only labels (something I’ve written about before), so our kids both play with trains, cars, animals, and dolls – or whatever strikes their fancy. My daughter is a big animal lover, which includes checking out bugs or digging for worms while wearing a tutu (as she does below).

digging for wormsI have to admit that I worry more about raising my daughter in the midst of the princess-obsessed age group.  Sure, she does enjoy her princess domino game and loved watching Pocahontas, but she’s never requested to dress-up like a princess. I mean, what do princesses really DO besides meet their prince and get married?  Don’t they have interests and things to do besides plan another ball? Since her chances of being a real-life princess are non-existent, I’ll keep rooting for better heroines for my daughter, while trying to set a good example for her myself.

As I mentioned in Do I Really Sound like That, my words too easily become her words.  I hope I watch what I say to put the right words in her head, so she can become a strong, confident girl, ready to conquer the world in whatever way she desires.  First off on her agenda: pre-school.

How do parents of boys and girls consciously (or unconsciously) raise their children?  Can you recommend any good girl characters role models?

The END of Napping as We Know It

It has happened now for good.

The END of NAPPING for big sister.  At just about 40 months, she has said goodbye to her afternoon nap and hello to an earlier bedtime!

The end of napping as we know it is tough for me.  I CHERISHED coordinated nap schedules with big sister and little brother snoozing peacefully, freeing me up to do my own stuff.  I talked about how I love quiet time in this post.

How do I know the end is here?  Well, she hasn’t napped in over a week.  Today I tried my best to tire her out, complete with running around at open gym, more climbing and playing at the Y, and over an hour of reading together.  I successfully left her in her room for quiet time, and when I checked on her, it was clear she was just playing and chattering to herself.  Sigh….

According to the BEST sleep book, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth, M.D., naps disappear between ages three and six.

“On their third birthday, most children (91 percent) are still napping every day. At age four, about 50 percent of children nap five days a week, and by age five, about 25 percent of children are napping about four days each week.”

With naps out the door, I think I will still continue about an hour of quiet play in her room after reading stories together, secretly hoping she will decide to nap on some days.  Other parents, what do you do when the napping stops?

Big sister sleeping at 10 months old

Big sister sleeping at 10 months old