Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Activity 1- Montessori

     I have given Austin the activity of putting the straws into a container and I am happy to let you know he was so interested in it!  He stayed playing with it for about 20 min.  Once I noticed that he wanted to get up and play with other things I just picked up the container and straws and put it away for later.  I do not want him to use this along with playing with his regular toys. 

     When I first introduced it I gave him the container with the lid on but with the top with the little holes open.  I showed him that you can get the straws and put them into the little holes.  This was a little too hard for him so instead I opened the other side of the top that has the big hole.  He was able to put the straws in there.  Once he put all the straws in he would close the top and shake the bottle then try to open it and dump them all out.  He made up his own variations of this by the second time I gave it to him.

Here is the first time he played with it:
The good thing about these activities is that you can let your baby explore them.  As you see here he was playing with the straws without putting them in the container.  He was feeling them and tasting them =).

The next day I gave it to him I noticed him trying to take off the top completely so I helped him.  This time he would put all the straws in the container without the lid then close the top himself.  He would actually turn the lid and close it.  However, when he did this he could not open it again.  This gave me the idea of next time trying to show him how to open the container.  We will see how that works out.

Remember, every experience is a learning experience!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Montessori intro

Oh the world of Montessori!  Call me weird but I get a rush of excitement of all the things I can do to teach my baby new things.  I felt the same way with my oldest and still do!  I always seem to gravitate to the world of Montessori learning.  This is a philosophy that fosters independence in a child.  It allows the child to grow and learn at their own pace while challenging themselves.  The teacher (or parent) just guides them and introduces things for them.  This belief fosters the idea that a child is a self-motivated learner and they will gravitate to learning new things.  I don’t know about you guys but to me that is a fascinating thing to promote for the real world. 

I am going to start trying to set up a Montessori area in our home.  I would like get Austin to engage in an activity about 2 times a day for maybe 10-15 minutes.  I will try while we are alone in the morning and then again in the afternoon while the older kids are working on homework.  This has been a challenging time for me since, the older ones not only need help while they are doing homework but I like to teach them a little extra while their minds are still in the learning setting.  However, the baby also needs my attention during this time.  I am hoping that doing Montessori activities with him that I can do both at the same time.  (Wish me luck!) 

The first activity I will be doing is good for fine motor skills, picking up items with a pointer grip, inserting items into a container… Within a small little DIY toy a child learns so much!  It can even be used as a musical instrument by shaking it.  Also, this activity can be used for harder things in the future like taking things out of the container.  I got the idea from Pinterest, the link is below:
Putting straws in a container

I will be tracking my experience with this here on the blog!  Please let me know if you have any ideas for a 14 month old.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

15 minute cleaning

            One of my biggest issues being a stay at home mom is probably the same issue I had while I was a working mom.  The issue is time!  I never seemed to have enough time to do anything, especially house work!  I think I have found a way that regardless of what kind of mom I am (stay at home/working), I can manage my time better.  I have read countless of blogs and this one in particular gave me an idea! 15 minutes of cleaning-Organizingmadefun  Even though I did not follow her schedule it was a way for me to come up with my own schedule (Sort of!)

            Since I did not follow her schedule, I do not expect you to follow mine.  This is just a way to show you that IT CAN BE DONE!!!  You just have to customize it in a way that works for you.  Below is a schedule that I came up with for my household:

This schedule is based on just 15 minutes of cleaning (I actually have a timer set for 15 minutes).  Like Becky  mentions, “this doesn't mean if your house is right now a complete pig-stye mess that you can get it cleaned up in 15 minutes. NOPE! Nice try....this is a way of MAINTAINING your home with just 15 minutes of CLEANING each day - not picking up or putting away, CLEANING!”  You have to keep at it however, if you miss a day it is not the end of the world.  If you make this a habit your house will be at least presentable at any given moment.  I live in a 2 bedroom 2 bathroom s (1,210 sq. ft.) apartment with 3 boys (ages from 13 months, 7 yrs. & 34 yrs.).

My weekdays vary, however, I find 15 minutes (usually while the baby is taking a nap in the morning) to clean.  I also have daily chores that I call “Habitual”, I do it out of habit.  These things I do not consider cleaning because I had to condition myself to just do it at the moment, not find time to do it.

The reason I did this schedule the way I did is because I do my heavy, deep cleaning once every two weeks (at least that is the goal.) Usually on the Saturday morning when my oldest is at his fathers’ house for the weekend is the best time for us to clean.  This allows me and my partner to clean together and help with the baby at the same time.  This makes the job easier and faster.  I am lucky that I have him to actually help me but I believe that this still can be done if you didn’t have a helpful partner.  (I was a single mom for about 4 yrs.)  If you kept the daily 15 minutes cleaning your house will not be as hard to do your deep cleaning in one day.  This day I REALLY scrub the bathrooms and kitchen, top to bottom!  We clean the balcony.  Robert deep cleans (shampoos) the carpets with our Hoover® SteamVac™ Deep Cleaner with Clean Surge.  (I was not paid to advertise this, I have been using ours for over 8 yrs., I love it!!!)  Also, I usually use this day to go through the kids clothes and/or do an organizational project. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I am back!

It has been about 8 months since I have written a post and I miss the good feeling I get when I write something in the hope that I may help out someone else. The reason for the time away is because I have had some major life changes. I quit my job trying to change career. Then decided I was going to give myself more time to prepare for my new career and stay home longer with my boys. I always knew that my life was way too full and I really needed to prioritize!

Now, I am not saying go out and quit your job! This decision was not an easy decision for me or my partner. However, for us I think it was the right one. Back in July, I really fell apart. I was so unhappy with just about everything I was doing. I did not like my job. I missed my new born baby during the day so much and I felt I was neglecting my older son in the evenings. Home life was a mess and we just did not have time for anything and we were too tired to care.

I have always wanted to be a teacher. I can remember playing as a young girl and pretending to be a teacher to my dolls and stuffed animals. I never had a doubt when people asked me "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I always knew the answer was a teacher! However, as most people know, life happens. I did start college with a pursuit of a degree in Secondary Social Science Education. Towards the end of my Schooling I got a divorce and was suddenly a single mom without a job. I searched and searched like a maniac to find ANY job. I was really blessed when I was offered a career in Finance for a really well known and established Television Channel. The downfall was that I have always hated disliked math a whole lot. I have struggled with numbers my whole life. Well, I did not have the luxury of being choosy and I knew that this was a great opportunity for me to be able to provide for my 1 year old and me. It turned out to be ok. I learned tons and continued there for 6 yrs. During this time I was not able to continue my education degree because I was not going to be able to do the student teaching that was necessary to graduate. So, in my senior year I changed major to Liberal Arts and finally graduated with a Bachelor’s degree.

When I met Robert, I knew he was an amazing man right from the beginning. He has always been a supportive and loving person to my son, Brandon and I. We were blessed a couple of years later with our precious little baby, Austin. Things were manageable because we made it work but I was just not happy with the kind of lifestyle I was living. I did not feel that this is what life was all about for us. I knew we could change things, but I also knew it was not going to be an easy journey. I looked over our home finances extensively and I knew that it was not going to be easy but it was definitely not impossible to live on his income alone. Robert and I spoke tremendously about my unhappiness and he did not fail to be the supportive boyfriend he has always been. He encouraged me to follow my dreams. So I made the scary jump and became a stay at home mom.

We have cut down on unnecessary expenses and tried to budget ourselves. Without Daycare, extra gas, going out for lunch and dinners we have found a comfortable spending habit. We are still trying to work on our budget because we have been so used to living on two incomes that it has been a major life style change for us and we do not have it perfect yet. However, the time I am spending with and for my family is making me so much happier than money can ever make me. Being a stay at home mom is the hardest job I have ever had and the most rewarding. This is not a job for everyone. For me though, it has been the best decision I have made so far.

In the meantime, I am studying for my education certification. (I have 3 tests to take to become certified) I am trying to figure out my new stay at home schedule with my now 1 year old. I am also, after schooling with my 7 yr. old son, 7 yr. old nephew and 8 yr. old niece. As if that is not enough, I am also trying to organize my home, creating a cleaning schedule, meal planning and nurturing all of my relationships. Follow me in all of my new pursuit. Maybe we can encourage each other. Especially since I know I might need a lot of help to get this all together. One day at a time...