Spring into Summer: Kid time

4/7/2015 - 7:14:38 AM
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This time of year school is heading toward wrapping up, and we’re starting to shed the wraps to get ready for some time outside again. For some of that means a release from the noise inside and the beginning of outside play dates. It’s a welcome change from indoor meet-ups with the toys, food crumbs everywhere, and the bumps, fights, toys taken, noise, and crumbs strewn everywhere. It’s a fun time, but it’s also a time for moms to get really stressed out and wonder if it’s really worth all the effort into making sure our kids have a good time and are socially adjusted when sometimes staying at home would be much easier?

Kids are terrific, but little vortexes

When it comes to the amount of destruction and noise kids can accomplish in amazingly short periods of time they do seem a lot like tornados, with maybe a little smaller scale of destruction happening even if the noise does seem as loud. Put a bunch of kids together, you might barely notice a tornado happening outside, and this constant activity and noise level can get overwhelming for both parents and kids. Yet we want to make sure that our kids socialize, exchange a few germs with other kids to up their immunity levels, and learn the give and take that goes along with the life they’ll have to live grown up someday. With all the responsibility that we as adults have we often just want to give our children the most carefree life we can, but this is something we need to balance because this is also their training ground for the future.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,
but all play and no work makes Jack a mere toy.

 

The Dull Boy

This has been taken to opposite extremes all throughout history, though typically kids were given more work than they have to do now because just staying alive demanded it. Parents were so taken up with the business of getting food on the table and keep a roof over their heads that the smaller chores and work they didn’t have time for got done by the children. Usually these arrangements were more fair than the work children were pressed into doing once the Industrial Revolution began and employers starting expecting more of child-laborers than any reasonable adult could stand, but either way children have been working for a long time - in moderation, this is a very good thing - but if kids are given too much work it curbs their appetite for life and discovery and kids have to discover.

We don’t have to overwork our kids to teach them responsibility, but never giving them any is just as bad a mistake as giving them too much.

A Mere Toy

Have you ever tried doing things that are fun 100% of the time? Well, of course not, because most of us have to work in some way, but those that have tried live empty lives of flying from one thing to the next and eventually ending up completely bored. How often have you heard your kid say, “Mom, I’m bored!” Only about a million, I’m guessing, and it makes complete sense if they don’t do things to actually test their brains and ability. Children are intelligent, in fact just as much as we are, they are just a tad less developed and experienced but still need to do things to wear out their bodies for sleep in the evening, and get all those brain cells traveling on good paths. Kids who are entertained all the time don’t have to think for themselves, and this is detrimental to their health and quality of life in the long run.

Play is a great thing for kids, but their times in front of a screen or with a bunch of toys isn’t nearly as good as turning them loose to play with fresh air, dirt, sticks - climbing trees, building forts and running around - or on rainy days something that tests their creative ability, like Legos.

The Happy Kid

This is the kid that gets a fair balance of work, play and discovery time. Time spent washing dishes and cleaning up after themselves, and time spent with a couple of sticks and rocks outside building a house and a town.

1. It teaches kids responsibility and gives them a sense of belonging. Starting them off small (and young) in learning household chores and taking care of pets is the best way. When something else depends on you for life it really ups responsibility levels, though a careful eye of an adult is needed when you buy pets for kids. (you wouldn’t want to starve the poor goldfish or kitten) Likewise washing dishes, helping to cook, building and working on home projects and watching mom and dad work are the sort of things that teach more about life than video games.

2. Working and playing, together and apart, brings them closer to us. Those people with teenage kids will agree to the fact that when kids gets older it seems they start to drift away and no longer want to spend time with us, because part of puberty is starting to test their wings. This is why it is important to give them good training in the years prior to that to help them make great choices. More is caught than taught, and keeping our kids close while giving them space to discover during their younger years will give them a safety net while letting them make some mistakes to learn from.

On the flip side we also have to play with our kids. The activity is good for us and in some ways brings us closer than working together, because work is something we do more naturally. Getting down and dirty with our kids is some of the best memories you can create to keep your relationship open with your kids later on.

3. It’s healthier. It would be hard to argue the fact that working outdoors in the yard, helping around the house and generally getting more fresh air and exercise is healthier. Yes, games and TV have an incredible pull, but that is why you as a parent are there, to teach them to use these things wisely. This typically means we also have to take an honest look at how much time we spend on our phones, iPads and computers and adjust accordingly. If we can’t do it, there’s about a 2% chance we’ll be able to get the kids off their devices.

Play Dates - Go Outside!

By all means, bring your kids together, but do it in places that will mutually benefit you both. Parks are a great place for play in the summer and even in winter there are all kinds of incredible outdoor places to go for fun activities. Go on fun field trips where they get to learn things and discover how life works. Tour factories, see how chocolate, apple cider, or gummy bears are made, travel, hike, ski, swim, and build sand castles. But then also learn how to quiet down and spend that time winding down that is incredibly important to both kids and adults. Teach your kids the art of life, and discover it together all over again,

Buttery, Sweet Jam Thumbprint Cookies



Ingredients

  • 1 cup salted butter, softened
  • ½ cup powdered sugar, plus ¼ cup more for dusting
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp table salt
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • ½ cup fruit preserves (we used Kauffman’s peach and double raspberry jam)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. (we did not do this step, only greased the sheet)

  • Blend butter and sugar until fluffy and light with a mixer, about two minutes. Add vanilla and salt, scraping down bowl. Switch to low on mixer and slowly add flour until just combined. Don’t over mix.
  • Roll batter into 1 inch balls, place balls on sheet and press down center with your thumb making a small depression. 

  

  • Fill cookie centers with teaspoonful of preserves.


  • Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown and puffy, but not over baked. Let cool a few minutes, and then transfer to cooling rack.
  • When completely cool dust with powdered and keep in airtight container for a few days. 



Don’t forget the PB & J

 



Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are probably the easiest thing in the world to make and eat, though if you grew up on airy white bread, unhealthy peanut butter and overly sweet jam you might be shying away from it now for health reasons. One of the most common sense choices we can make it in any food choices is to make our meals with whole ingredients and pb &j’s are the same way. We’ve started to make our pbj sandwiches with a slightly different ingredient list and love it.

Homemade whole wheat bread (or any good quality bread)
Kauffman’s fresh-ground, natural peanut butter
Favorite choice of orchard-grown jam or jelly. We used double raspberry jam and peach jam



Apply in whatever amounts you enjoy, “throw” together the two pieces of bread, grab some milk and enjoy lunch with your kids wherever you are.

Until next week, when we move outdoors for spring cleaning part 2. 

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