Tag Archives: family life

The Perfectionist Child

9 Jul

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From the Parenting Place

Family coach Jenny Hale explains how to encourage a perfectionist to lower their expectations and simply have a go, rather than being so afraid of failure that they are afraid to even try.

One of the great dreams parents have for their children, is that they will reach their full potential and use their gifts, natural abilities and strengths. So when a child is afraid of taking a risk, uncertain about whether to give something a try, and is devastated when a mistake is made, parents naturally feel concerned because they know life is full of opportunities, and that progress is made when there is a willingness to give things a go.

I meet lots of parents who are concerned about their child’s perfectionist tendencies. These are some of the characteristics that worry them. The perfectionist child:

  • Doesn’t like trying new things
  • Watches on the sideline for ages before attempting to do something
  • Hates to be corrected
  • Is devastated when they get something wrong
  • Often screws up their work in frustration
  • Blames someone else for their mistakes
  • Has incredibly high standards that are self-imposed
  • Under-achieves for fear of failure
  • Is easily embarrassed if in the limelight
  • Puts themselves down unnecessarily
  • Is easily disappointed in life’s events
  • Is very competitive and hates to lose
  • Controls others so they can manage the outcome
  • Procrastinates and finds it difficult to make a decision
  • Is anxious about quite a few things

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The good news is that it is possible to live harmoniously with a perfectionist, and give them some tools for handling life with a different outlook.

Be understanding if you live with a perfectionist. They don’t get along too well with themselves so they really need someone who ‘gets them,’ and is gentle with them. They need you to be on their side. Talking to your child about their temperament helps clarify what is driving them. It also helps them understand what is going on inside their head when they feel cross or anxious.

Openly support the making of mistakes. A perfectionist child often has a perfectionist parent! Be prepared to share your mistakes and let children see that it is normal and acceptable to get things wrong, or do a job that is less than perfect. If you leave something out of a recipe and it’s a flop, let your children see that you are not beating yourself up. In fact, you can laugh at yourself! Celebrate mistakes with a family motto; ‘In our family we make mistakes because that is how you learn.’ It takes the sting out of a mistake if the whole family embraces it.

Children can be inspired by someone else’s story of challenge and triumph. It may be your next door neighbour who has been to nine job interviews without yet landing one, but is not giving up. Research a famous sportsperson or actor who encountered many failures and challenges on the way to success. Let them know that the reason behind the success had as much to do with perseverance and a tolerance for making mistakes, as it did natural talent.

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Encourage your children to see humility as a good attitude. Being able to accept their limitations and acknowledge another’s success, helps a child accommodate their own losses. Humility helps children to be supportive of others when they win or lose. Model phrases such as, “That was a great game of chess you played Thomas, thanks for playing with me.”

Perfectionists need to develop flexible, elastic thinking. You can give your child examples of this in a practical way. Show how a partly deflated ball hits the ground and stays there, but when it is full of air it hits the ground and bounces. This is just what is needed when life gets tough.

If your child gets a lower result on an assignment than was anticipated, explain that instead of losing hope and perspective, flexible thinkers say to themselves, “Not what I wanted, but I bet I can learn something from this and get up and go again”.

Be ready to brainstorm a problem with them so that they learn there is more than one way of doing something. Let’s say they are making a card for a friend’s birthday and you see them begin to ‘lock down’ for a perfect result. Talk them through their options. The focus could be on creating something ‘colourful and crazy’ rather than ‘perfect and neat.’

When perfectionist children learn not to blame themselves or others, it makes starting something a lot easier. Your child will need help to see that getting cross and full of regret for something they did or didn’t do, won’t help them. Instead, teach them to embrace a new thought pattern. Learning that ‘making a start is hard, but it gets easier along the way’ helps facilitate progress.

Perfectionists are often afraid to make a decision because they may regret it and wish they had done something better. Learning to live with our decisions and learn from the consequences is part of life. Nudge them towards making decisions over lots of little things so they get in the habit of living with their choices and dealing with small disappointments along the way.

The flipside of a perfectionist is that they are often very high achievers. They want to do well, and often have an outstanding ability to perform. They can stick at something relentlessly to improve themselves. These children often produce excellent results, and are successful without any need for motivation from parents. Some will be tidy, organised, gifted, disciplined, focused, deep thinkers and extraordinarily capable. Quite a few of them will have leadership qualities that mean they can organise, motivate and bring out the best in others.

The journey for them can be made simpler and kinder if we help them understand that perfectionists have both strengths and shortcomings, and help equip them with the skills and insights to live comfortably with themselves, their standards and their frailty.

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Holiday Fun! Indoor Cubby House

25 Jun

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School holidays: It’s the opportunity to think big about play. Play, not only in sessions, but over days and weeks. Creating play environments, like a cubby house, is a good example because it starts with the building phase, then comes the play phase, and the fun evolves as the children add their own ideas to the mix.

cardboard box cubby house

Now the colder months have set in and air is chilly, creating a play space in a nook in the house or other undercover area is a good idea.  I transformed an empty unused garage in our family home into a simple play space for the children this holidays using cardboard boxes.   The idea is to stimulate the imagination by creating an environment that inspires creativity.  The set-up is quick, cheap and easy and can be extended in many ways.

indoor cubbyhouse -- cardboard box craft

What you need

  • 1 to 5 Boxes (tea-chest size or larger works best)
    – Try asking a department store like Good Guys or Harvey Norman for empty boxes, or you can buy boxes starting from about $3 from self-storage places and stationery stores like Officeworks.  A small investment for many hours of play.
  • Masking or Packing tape
    – I used masking tape because it’s easy to work with and the children can draw/decorate over the top if they like.
  • Crepe Streamers

1. Assemble

To create the dollhouse style cubbyhouse (as pictured above), you will first need to make 2 boxes with pointed roofs.

how to make a cardboard box cubby house

  1. Put the box together and tape to secure
  2. Sit the box with the opening at the top (as you would if you were packing)
  3. Leave the fold-over tops upright for height and tape along the join for strength
  4. Cut out one side panel of the box with large scissors or a Stanley knife This will become the roof.
  5. Use the cut out panel of the box for the roof. Bend in half and tape to the top of the box. (If the box you’re using is smaller than tea-chest size, you may need to use an extra piece of cardboard and tape two even pieces of cardboard together before attaching the roof to the box).

For the reminder of the 3 boxes, repeat the above, however for the roof, cut the panel cardboard to the size of the top of the box, and tape to secure.

2. Decoration

Decorating the boxes is all part of the fun. I wanted to keep this activity relatively mess-free, so went with streamers to add that splash of colour.

1. Lay a section of tape (as long as the width of the box) on a flat surface with the sticky side up.  Rip off streamers (to the height of the box) and place one end of each streamer evenly spaced along the tape. Once full, press the tape into the top back corner of the inside of the box and reinforce with another layer of tape over the top.

how to make a cardboard box cubby house

2. Using another piece of tape, secure the streamers to the bottom corner inside the back of the box.  It doesn’t have to look perfect as you can add a cushion or small blanket to the bottom of the box.

cardboard box cubby

3. For the upper level boxes, I used the streamers in the opening between the roof and the box. To do this, simply tape sections of streamers from the roof to the back of the box.

cardboard box cubby

Other decoration ideas

Decorate the box however you like! Below are more ideas:

  • Coloured masking tape
  • Texters/drawings
  • Paint
  • Stickers
  • Stencils
  • Stick photos to make a collage wall inside the box
  • Cut outs from magazines
  • Washi tape
  • Cut out windows on either side of the box
  • Glue on gems or shells

3. Set up

Stack three flat-top boxes at the bottom and the two pointed boxes at the top.  This gives it a dollhouse look. The top section can be used for light objects like stuffed toys, dolls or Lego; it’s a lovely height for standing play too. The bottom section fits a sitting child.

dollhouse cardboard box

Tip: Placing the boxes up against a wall is a good idea so children can lean back and read a book.

read in a cardboard boxWearing: owl print tee, snuggly warm leggings, faux fur zip front sweat

Another set up idea: Beach hut style

Google ‘beach hut’ together before you start for inspiration. Create 5 pointed roof houses and line up in beach hut style. Lay a yellow sheet /blanket (you could look for one at a second-hand shop) or piece of material in front to mimic sand and then do the same with another layer of blue material for the sea.  Add a few towels, shells, buckets and sea inspired books.

4. Add

To make the area inviting and cosy, add:

  • Cushions or a small blanket to the bottom of each box
  • Books
  • A rug, floor cushions and a few throw blankets

5. Play & Create

The morning after creating this space, I woke to hear the kids happily playing. I found them, still in their flannelette PJs, sitting in the cubbyhouse, eating breakfast with tea towels on the ground and mini umbrellas in their cereal bowls.  I almost scolded them for not being at the table, then I saw how much effort they put into the set up and what fun they were having.  Since then, boxes have been moved, toys added, pillows stacked and picnics eaten.  All good stuff. And it all started with a few boxes.

cardboard box cubbyhouseWearing: long sleeve graphic batwing top, floral skinny leg jeans, bows and hearts necklace, tangerine double bow boots, mock leather button front jacket

pumpkin patch kidsWearing: stripe long sleeve top, skinny fit stretch cords, mock leather fur collar jacket

More indoor cubbyhouse ideas

  • Place a sheet over a table and cushions underneath
  • Put a sheet between two separated sofas
  • Tie even lengths of crepe streamers around a hula hoop and suspend from a hook in the ceiling to create a colour bubble
  • Stack pillows and cushions and create an indoor obstacle course
  • Hang streamers in a door way
  • Criss-cross red streamers along a hallway to create a spy lazer challenge
  • Create a comfy reading corner by scattering pillows and placing a box of books nearby

Another Cardboard Box Idea

Create a Cardboard Box Road and City

About Kelly

Kelly BurstowKelly loves life at both ends of the spectrum: wearing high heel shoes one day and hiking boots the next; sipping tea out of a pretty cup and slurping hot coffee from a camping mug. She enjoys stopping for a quiet moment to feel the wind on her face and adventuring at every opportunity with her family. Her blog, Be A Fun Mum, is all about loving the little moments in life and celebrating these. Kelly lives in Brisbane, Australia with her husband, four children and pet bird.

 

The Power of Praise- John Cowan investigates

29 May

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Confused by whether or not praise is good for your children?

Psychologists fight, but it is a very dull sport to watch. They fire volleys of academic papers at each other before slinking back to their universities and clinics. The dull bit is that you cannot tell who has won. One current raging battle is about praising children.

Some say praise is great and some say it is just manipulation that turns kids into spineless ‘pleasers’. I’ve wandered through the smoke and noise of the battle field (i.e. I have done some pretty intense Googling) to find out what the two camps are on about. Both sides have got their heavy duty PhDs and their research and they both sound very plausible, so how could anyone choose who is right? Well, I can. Of course, I could be wrong, but I am assuming you probably won’t be able to prove it!

I had always thought that praise was great. “Praise is the fastest route to change” is a quote I saw years ago, not in a parenting book but in a management manual. It went on to say that praise works faster than nagging, threats and bribes in changing behaviour to the desired outcome. I took that advice to heart and it has been one of my staple beliefs about how to raise children. I’ve used it at home with my own kids and taught it in courses and seminars. I always found it creates a very agreeable atmosphere in the home as well as ‘doing the trick’ of shaping their behaviour.

One of the things I especially liked about praise as a parenting tool is that it encourages us to seek out and focus on children’s positive behaviour rather than just discovering their misbehaviour and criticising it. I suspect parents possess an innate super-sense to spot mischief, even through solid walls. (Surely some psychologist could get a grant to research this). Most parents seem to be able to stare at a closed bedroom door and tell, just by the mere silence emanating from it, that their children must be up to something on the other side! With a little effort, that same ability can be tweaked to spot their good behaviour and not just their bad.

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When you focus on the positive it is amazing how much you actually like your children more: even if it did not budge behaviour one iota, it at least feels like you have got nicer kids.  But it does change behaviour – even the critics of praise concede that – and that is actually one of the key objections critics have of praise: it is controlling. “Praise is a verbal reward, often doled out in an effort to change someone’s behaviour, typically someone with less power”, writes education expert, Alfie Kohn. “More to the point, it’s likely to be experienced as controlling regardless of the praiser’s intention. Praise is a pat on the head, ‘pat’ being short for ‘patronizing’”, he says in an article called Five Reasons to Storp Saying “Good Job”1Professor Rheta DeVries of the University of Northern Iowa calls it ‘sugar-coated control’: basically it is behaviourism, an attempt to manipulate people like lab-rats with rewards and punishments. It assumes that all the behaviour is due to the reward; it ignores the feelings and values and other motives that might be involved.

In two books, ‘Punished by Rewards’ and ‘Unconditional Parenting’, Kohn unpacks some of his other objections. He thinks it creates “praise junkies who are constantly looking for approval and who depend on other people for their self esteem. It makes them afraid of losing that constant stream of feedback.

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Research by Mary Budd Rowe in Florida found that when students were highly praised by their teachers they were a lot less confident about giving answers in class, less likely to share ideas, backed down quickly if challenged by an adult and gave up on difficult tasks – it seemed that whenever there was a chance that they might jeopardise getting a “well done!” from the teacher, they weren’t prepared to take that risk. Like a drug, they get used to a regular high dose of praise; when praise is withheld it really feels like a punishment. I recall Dr Sylvia Rimm, when she visited New Zealand many years ago, talking about why bright kids often fail in higher education. Throughout their early school years they received high levels of praise – they got honoured as ‘top-of-the-class’ and their work was held up in front of others. But as they move up into high school and university, they get streamed in amongst other bright kids. They are no longer the top of the pile; they are just one of many similarly-smart students. They may still be getting a reasonable amount of good feedback, but nothing like the rate of praise they received when they were the star of their primary classroom, the big fish in the little school pond. The drop feels awful, and many kids give up making the effort that keeps them achieving.

What about kids who are not such high achievers? They simply dislike the idea of being judged. “The most notable feature of a positive judgment isn’t that it’s positive, but that it’s a judgment. And people, including kids, don’t like being judged,” says Kohn.

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Praise might even take the pleasure and interest out of doing things. If you practice the piano, there is an ‘intrinsic’ reward: music! You can actually play the piano! But what if you practice the piano to get stickers on a reward chart or some other award or treat? Those are ‘extrinsic’ rewards. “What happens when you get older and don’t get stars?” asks Paul Raeburn in Psychology Today. “Do you lose interest in practising when you’ve lost extrinsic rewards that you’ve become accustomed to? The research suggests that you do.” He continues, “We praise drawings or spelling papers because we want our kids to continue to work hard and to do good work … But what we really want to teach our children is that they should do good work because of the satisfaction it provides, not to earn praise from parents or teachers. I’ve often wondered why so few Americans read books—serious novels and nonfiction. Could it be because  we were so conditioned to getting A’s for reading Melvile or Hawthorne that there is no joy left in reading them for the pleasure and enlightenment they provide? I can’t cite research to answer that question, but I think it’s a good guess.”

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What if that also applies to moral behaviour? What happens if kids learn to be kind and generous and caring simply because it attracts the positive attention of adults? Does the good behaviour stop when the rewards do? Alarmingly, yes! Or so some research seems to suggest. Joan Grusec in Toronto noted that children who were praised for generosity became less generous in the playground (when they weren’t being praised by the teacher) than kids who were not. Generosity became a means of getting praise from adults and not just something that felt good to do.

So, have Kohn and crew convinced me to shelve praise as a parenting tool? No … but their evidence does suggest ways in which we modify our use of praise.

First of all, I do believe that it is right for parents to shape children’s behaviour. It’s not manipulation, it’s parenting. We have the benefit of decades of experience, we have learnt that things like manners, respect, generosity and cooperation actually work very well. It is not a matter of wanting to control or impose our wills on children, it is the firm belief that the most loving thing to do for children is to help them learn to behave ‘well’: it is the the best thing for them and society.

Secondly, I do take very seriously Kohn’s points about intrinsic versus extrinsic rewards, but I think that a praise and reward system can still have a place. External rewards, like praise and star charts, are great ways to start behaviour moving in a new direction, but it is not ideal for maintaining it. The trick is to help the child  realise the real value or pleasure of what they are doing. You might start off by praising them for cleaning their bedroom, but you move on to saying things like, “It must be really nice having a room that is so tidy and you can find everything”; “I feel good every time I go in your room – I bet you do too, it’s so nice and tidy.” You are moving from an external reward to an internal reward, teaching them to reward themselves. You move from, “Good on you for doing your homework” to “Once you get the hang of it, isn’t science fascinating!” – you are connecting them to the intrinsic reward of knowledge rather than simply getting approval for work done.

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We should also beware of empty praise and excessive praise. Children soon pick up on the fact that this is meaningless and manipulative. When Farmer Hoggett says, “That’ll do, pig” at the end of the movie Babe, it is powerful not because it is part of a torrent of praise but for the very opposite. Those few words from a taciturn man  poke volumes, and the pig (and audience) melted.

And finally, there is a huge difference between ‘person’ praise and ‘process’ praise. A team led by Elizabeth Gundersen at The University of Chicago have been doing a long term project. They filmed parents interacting with their children, in their own homes. They did it when the children were one, then two and again at three. Five years later, they tested the now eight-year-old children, measuring all sorts of behaviours. How those children were praised, when they were little, seemed to have a big effect. Some parents praised their kids with things like “You’re a clever kid”, “You’re tall”, “You’re pretty”: this is called ‘person praise’: compliments for who and what they were: their intelligence, skill, looks, height – things they have no control over. Other kids were praised for their effort and their actions – that’s called ‘process praise’ – and those kids at eight enjoyed challenging tasks, they could overcome setbacks and believed that hard work can improve intelligence and personality.

Person praise locks kids into thinking you are what you are – if they don’t do well, they think that’s just the way I am, but process praise gives kids the exciting belief that they can change and get better. “These findings suggest that improving the quality of early parental praise may help children develop the belief that their future success is in their own hands,” said Gunderson.

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So, go ahead and be generous with praise – just be sure it is not empty, manipulative and taking away a child’s real motivation. Praise them for their efforts and actions, rather than their looks and intelligence. Some may worry our children will depend too much on our approval, but I doubt there are few things nicer to have in the back of our heads than the idea that our Mum and Dad are proud of us.

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Mother’s Day: Photo Bookmark

7 May

photo bookmark for mother's dayEach year to celebrate Mother’s Day, I turn  a photo of the kids into a gift for the grandparents.  I’m sure these hilarious hanging photo bookmarks will produce a smile.

Photo craft is a winner for Mother’s Day because it’s personal, significant and special.  The photo bookmark delivers on all those things, plus they are useful and fun too.  Give as a gift, post to family who live far away or use as a gift tag to decorate a present.

While much of this project needs to be done by an adult, it’s fun to get children involved in the photoshoot so it becomes a family activity (and kids love seeing the finished product — it is pretty cool).

Materials

Craft Board

Craft Knife (or Stanley Knife)

Scissors

Photo paper

Small Tassel (available from craft and discount stores)

Permanent Marker

Laminator sheet / Laminator (optional)

Camera / Printer

1. Take a photograph

Capturing the photo for this project is part of the fun. Below are a few tips to keep in mind:

a) Keep the body in proportion

Hold the camera directly in front of the subject so the body is in proportion.  This usually means you’ll have to crouch down on your knees.

 tips for taking photos

b) Poses

You want to give the illusion of movement.   Below are some ideas on how to bring that element to the picture:

  • Lean on a wall or chair (in my picture, I had my daughter sit on our rock wall with her legs dangling down)
  • Stand on tiptoes
  • Stand on one leg and lean to one side
  • Make funny faces
  • Lean in different directions
  • Jump (if you have a camera with a quick shutter speed)
  • Look up
  • Try one hand in the air…or two!
  • Look into the direction of the intended movement (I did this with my picture)
  • Set the scene with instruction like, “Pretend you’re hanging off a rope?” and have the camera ready to capture the action.

Mother's Day Craft -- photo bookmark

2. Format

  • Crop the photo around the subject and then insert into a program like Microsoft Word/Publisher.
  • Adjust the size (by dragging the corner of the picture) so the photograph is approximately half an A4 size (portrait) in height.
  • Fit as many photographs on an A4 page as will allow.
  • Keep in mind, from the top of the hands to the bottom of the feet is how long the bookmark will be.  If you do find the size is too big/small after printing, it’s easy to readjust and reprint.  (Check by holding the picture up against the cover of an average book).

mother's day craft -- photo bookmark

3. Print

Print the document on A4 Photo Paper.

4. Cut

This part of the project is a little time-consuming but not difficult.  I used both small scissors and a craft knife.

  • First, carefully cut around the body of the subject (avoiding the tricky parts) using scissors.
  • Then, use the craft knife on a board to finish it off.

Mother's Day Craft -- photo bookmark

5. Laminate (optional)

For best results, laminate the cut-out photograph to prevent breakage.  Once finished, cut an oval or rectangle shape around the photo using scissors.

If you don’t have a laminator, stick the cut-out photograph on a piece of white photo paper with glue and cut around the image into a bookmark shape.

6. String

  • Make a small hole near the hands (carefully, using a sharp pair of scissors or craft knife).
  • Feed the tassel through the hole.
  • Secure the tassel by threading the end part through the loop and tighten.

Mother's Day Craft -- photo bookmark

Mother's Day Craft -- photo bookmark

7. Date

Date the back and add a message using a permanent marker.

Mother's Day Craft -- photo bookmark

Done!

They look fantastic! Hilarious!  The photo part of the bookmark sits inside the book, marking the place between reading, and the tassel hangs outside looking all pretty-pretty.

Mother's Day Craft -- photo bookmark

About Kelly

Kelly BurstowKelly loves life at both ends of the spectrum: wearing high heel shoes one day and hiking boots the next; sipping tea out of a pretty cup and slurping hot coffee from a camping mug. She enjoys stopping for a quiet moment to feel the wind on her face and adventuring at every opportunity with her family. Her blog, Be A Fun Mum, is all about loving the little moments in life and celebrating these. Kelly lives in Brisbane, Australia with her husband, four children and pet bird.

A Paper Poppy for ANZAC Day

23 Apr

anzac day poppy craft for kids

ANZAC Day is one of Australia and New Zealand’s most important national days encompassing nationhood, love and loss, and the gratitude and honor given to our servicemen and women.   The poppy has increasingly become a symbol for ANZAC Day, and one that children can easily relate to (read more about the significance of the poppy here).

I believe in the importance of teaching  my children about the history of our country and its people, so my husband and I made a point of visiting the War Memorial Museum in Canberra (Australia) on one of our road trips.  I didn’t expect the flood of emotions that ran through me when I saw The Roll of Honour with my own eyes. Thousands of poppies lined the walls filled with too many names to count, and I felt overwhelmed by the immense loss.

It’s good to remember, and we take the time to do this particularly on ANZAC Day.  A simple paper poppy is one way to mark this important occasion with kids.

poppy canberra war memorial

Make a Paper Poppy

Materials

2 x Red cupcake cases

Green bamboo craft rods or paddle pop stick/green straw (available from craft and discount stores)

Permanent marker (or black texter)

Craft Glue

Instructions

ancaz day craft kids paper poppy

1. Turn the two cupcake cases inside out.

2. Cut a wavy edge — in about 1 cm — around the first cupcake case.

3. Cut a wavy edge — in about 0.5 cm — around the second cupcake cases.

4. Draw a black centre inside the smaller cupcake case.

5. Glue the smaller cupcake case inside the larger one.

6. Glue the flower on to the bamboo rod (or paddle pop stick).

7. Make many and display in a vase or cup.

Tip: To ensure the paper poppies stand apart, use shredded paper or small pebbles in the base of the cup and arrange the flowers to your liking.

Our paper poppies are sitting bright and tall in the kitchen.

Lest We Forget.

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About Kelly

_DSC0490 (2)Kelly loves life at both ends of the spectrum: wearing high heel shoes one day and hiking boots the next; sipping tea out of a pretty cup and slurping hot coffee from a camping mug. She enjoys stopping for a quiet moment to feel the wind on her face and adventuring at every opportunity with her family. Her blog, Be A Fun Mum, is all about loving the little moments in life and celebrating these. Kelly lives in Brisbane, Australia with her husband, four children and pet bird.

Easter Arts & Crafts: Three (Mess Free!) Egg Decorating Ideas

19 Mar

Hi all

We are pleased to introduce our first, our one and only Mum-Blogger Kelly Burstow. Kelly is our super cool Arts & Crafts expert and we are looking forward to sharing more of her fun activities with you.

Three (Mess Free!) Egg Decorating Ideas

Children remember.  Perhaps not always the particulars, but they do remember the fun and joy surrounding significant celebrations like Easter.  When I think back on my own childhood around Easter-time, it’s filled with memories of family fun, leaves of colour falling to the ground, stories of religious significance and peeling pretty foil off solid eggs of chocolate.

I’m sharing potential memory makers today in the form of decorated eggs.  It’s not just craft.  These quick, simple and mess free egg decorating ideas can be instruments for family fun this Easter period, whether it’s taking pretty eggs on an outdoor picnic, decorating the house with the warmth of wool eggs or doing a backyard egg and spoon race.

Temporary Tattoo Egg

The end result is fan-tastic!

Decorate Easter Eggs

Materials

Temporary Tattoos

Boiled Egg

Wet washer

Scissors

Instructions

decorating easter egg with temporary tattoo

1. Cut the tattoo to size.  Keep in mind the tattoo will need to be small enough to fit on the front of an egg.

2. Peel off the protective clear layer on top of the tattoo.

3. Press the tattoo face down on to the egg.

4. Carefully place a wet washer over the back of the tattoo and hold firm for about 10 seconds. Then gently press the washer down over the entire area to transfer the tattoo on the egg shell.

5. Remove the wet backing paper and you’re done!

–> Tip! Lunchbox Fun

My children loved finding this surprise in their lunchbox: tinned corn, apple muffin, cheese sandwich on brown bread, grapes and…pretty Easter Boiled Egg!

decorating easter eggs

Wool Easter Eggs

Easter usually signals the start of the cooler months.  There’s something comforting and rustic about using wool as decoration in the home. Warmth.

Wool Easter Egg

Materials

Plastic Egg (available at craft and discount stores)

Double sided tape

Wool

Instructions

wool Easter egg instructions

1. Work vertically on the egg using strips of double-sided tape until the entire egg is covered.

2. Starting from the tip of the egg, wind the wool around and around. Continue until the entire egg is covered.

3. Double sided tape will hold the wool nicely if the eggs won’t be handled often, or alternatively, use craft glue instead of the double-sided tape for a more permanent option.

–> Tip! Table Decoration

Three or four of these wool eggs in a bowl look adorable in the middle of a table.  Try white wool eggs in a brown woven basket/bowl.

To find out how to turn the wool egg into a cute chicken, visit my post here: Wool Easter Egg Chicken

Permanent Marker or Crayon Eggs

Decorating Easter Eggs with Permanent Marker

Materials

Permanent Marker or crayons

Boiled eggs

Instructions

1. Decorate the egg however you like!

–> Tip! Egg & Spoon Game

Play an egg and spoon race with the colourful eggs in the backyard!

Keeping and Storing

Hard boiled eggs (to eat) need to need to stored in the refrigerator (and shouldn’t be out of the fridge for more than two hours).  If kept in their shells, the eggs will keep in the fridge for a week.

If you don’t plan on eating the decorated hard boiled eggs, display them somewhere in the house at room temperature for a few days before throwing out.

About Kelly

_DSC0490 (2)Kelly loves life at both ends of the spectrum: wearing high heel shoes one day and hiking boots the next; sipping tea out of a pretty cup and slurping hot coffee from a camping mug. She enjoys stopping for a quiet moment to feel the wind on her face and adventuring at every opportunity with her family. Her blog, Be A Fun Mum, is all about loving the little moments in life and celebrating these. Kelly lives in Brisbane, Australia with her husband, four children and pet bird.

7 Steps To A Happier Family – by Andrea Stringer

6 Mar

from Parenting Magazine http://www.theparentingplace.com/

To me, the phrase Happy Families brings to mind a cheesy board game, matching sweaters and cups of hot chocolate. Too-cute kids gaze adoringly at their wise and capable parents who deal with everything calmly and most certainly never raise their voices. If you suspect this is what I want to help you achieve, please let me reassure you! What I want to write about is families like my own, and the ones that I coach. Families with flaws, quirks, and issues – in other words, inhabitants of the real world. When parents come to see a Family Coach, one of the most common goals they voice is for everyone to be happier. But it’s incredible how difficult such a simple sounding goal can be to achieve. When things are going right, however, I think the following seven elements are usually in place.

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A hierarchy of power, with the parents at the top, sometimes seems like a terribly old-fashioned idea. But, in a happy family everyone knows exactly where they stand and they’re comfortable with it. These days most people prefer that the children have some say over family matters, are listened to, and their feelings are truly heard. I couldn’t agree more. The problem with this philosophy is that parents sometimes lose their footing as they scramble to make sure the kids are getting the respect they deserve.

Parents have got to be willing to wear their authority, a kind but a firm authority, from time to time. When we get too focussed on the goal of short-term happiness (eg. giving in, backing down or withholding reasonable discipline), then the issue of who is really in charge will be repeatedly tested – even more so if you have one or more determined or argumentative child in your brood.

The great thing about everyone knowing their place is that we can relax. We don’t need to apologise for taking charge, we don’t need the continual wrestle for control that can seriously compromise a family’s happiness.

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A common argument in the debate around teasing and bullying is that we don’t want our children to grow up thinking everyone has to be nice to them, all the time. Of course we don’t want our kids to be so defenceless that they crumble at the first insult. This might be why a fair amount of name-calling and unkind behaviour is allowed to go on in families, mostly between siblings but also between parents and children. Parents could be forgiven for thinking that family is a safe place for a bit of ribbing and learning to cope with jibes. I think that up to a certain point this is true. Recent research conducted in New Zealand however, indicates that the teasing that hurts the most comes from the ones we’re closest to, our family.

Families who are unhappy have often let this one slip away on them without even realising. Often in the face of bigger interpersonal issues, words such as stupid or idiot can fly under the radar. You don’t like hearing it, but you let it go because it’s the least of your worries. But how we talk to one another, is one of the biggest determinants of a close and loving family feeling, and it is so worth the effort to make your family a put-down free zone. It takes vigilance and consistency. Sometimes it will feel as though you’re making a big deal about something that might not matter much, but creating a family environment where people feel safe from emotional harm really does matter.

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When everyone is too busy, or too focussed on simply getting through the day, it seems that one of the first things we drop is the family sense of humour. It’s such a shame that we tend to treat fun, laughter, and adventure as luxuries which we’d get around to if only we could. The truth is that all of these things keep body, soul and spirit healthy, bring family members closer together and help them feel better about each other, themselves, and life in general.

If you haven’t had a good laugh together lately, ask yourself why, and what you can do about it. There might be a game or movie that always sees everyone dissolve into fits of giggles. If there is, then do it regularly! The irony of course is that you need this stuff most when you feel like it least. But trust me, when the kids are getting up your nose and they’re the last people in the world you feel like spending time with – do something fun together. Go somewhere you’ve never been, even in your own neighbourhood. Try hard to see and point out the humour in the silly, mundane, or annoying parts of life. This won’t always be the easy option, of course, it’s usually much easier to stay serious and grumpy. That’s why you have to decide to make an investment in the happiness bank of your family.

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steps to a happier family-10People in happy families, as a general rule, know the importance of flexibility. It’s really heartbreaking to meet with parents who might be absolutely desperate to have things at home be different, and yet they can’t or won’t admit they could look at the problem from another angle or adjust their own behaviour.

There is hope for the control freaks among us, if only we can get comfortable with the fact that we won’t always have the right answer first time. We also have to be willing to adjust an expectation we had of our child, partner, or ourselves. It’s amazing how far our disappointment can take us when we feel a family member is not behaving or coping at the level we expect them to. In the face of repeated evidence to the contrary, we’ll complain to anyone who’ll listen “He KNOWS how to do this!”, or “She KNEW better than to behave like that!”. A flexible thinker stops and reassesses, and also gives the people they love the benefit of the doubt. “If you knew how, you’d be doing it already, so how can I help you learn this?”.

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I think all families probably struggle to connect at times due to the pressures of time, work, and activity overload. On top of that, as children get older their personalities will take them in very different directions. They might prefer different kinds of jokes, books, movies, or one will play every sport going while the other might want to draw all day. If we’re constantly in different spheres, perhaps with Mum and Dad tag-teaming to make sure everyone gets where they need to go, then where is the sense of family?

Happy families build in an atmosphere of mutual support for everyone by making a deliberate choice to be actively interested in each other. Saturday morning soccer might bore you rigid but you need to be there at least some of the time. And if you can’t be there, ask questions afterwards that show your child a curiosity for their world. Your little introvert might seem so happy in the corner immersed in their books, but if you went over and asked what they were reading, and which character was their favourite, and if you could borrow it to have a read yourself, they’ll be (quietly) over the moon. At the very least, family meal times can be used to reconnect, ask questions, and catch up on everything you’ve missed.

By taking an interest in your child’s world, you teach them to take an interest in yours, building a sense of mutual care and concern that keeps both kids and parents happy.

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In a happy family people are allowed to make mistakes. I think this is one that is easy to get right on paper. We say all the right things, but what is the emotional atmosphere like when someone gets it wrong? Body language and facial expression will say so much more than the words. There is a fine balance to be struck between having high expectations and encouraging children to do their best, and a level of perfectionism that attracts shame and guilt when expected standards aren’t met. The most powerful way to send a healthy message is in how we treat ourselves and our partners when we stuff up. Is forgiveness and acceptance of human error regularly practised?

It seems to me that children will often struggle to move forward and change their behaviour while they feel their parents’ disappointment laying heavy over them. It’s not just children who need to know they’re ‘OK’ before they can begin to act differently, we all feel safer, happier, and more secure when we know that we’re accepted just as we are, warts and all.

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Have you ever heard the suggestion that we should basically live in bikinis because we will never be as young or in such good shape as we are RIGHT NOW? Well, I’m not sure about that, but if you haven’t looked through some family photo albums recently, do it soon, because there’s no better reminder that your children will never be as young again as they are RIGHT NOW. We toil so hard to work, clean, improve our homes, and prepare for the future – that magical time when everything will finally be as we’ve been planning for it to be. We’ll have the free time to see people, do things, and have all that elusive fun we’ve been preparing for.

If we don’t fully appreciate that we are actually IN what are potentially the best moments of our lives, right now, then we will always be one step behind the full happiness that family life has to offer. Some people call it living in the moment. I don’t recommend doing it constantly or you’d wander from room to room experiencing everything so intensely that you’d never get out of your pyjamas. But do make sure that every day you stop at least once and abandon yourself to the enjoyment of dancing, playing a game, even having a simple conversation with your children, and with your partner. Because of course, these are the moments that create your family’s happiness, but if we don’t notice it happening, then we miss it.

Maybe one or more of these steps has reminded you of something you’d like to work on. I hope so because going over them has made me want to work harder at all seven! Do remember we’re real people, though. No family (that I’ve met anyway) is happy all of the time, and they shouldn’t worry if they’re not. We do the best we can. And that’s often good enough for a happy family.

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