Joanna Anastasia


How to teach kids to share

How to teach kids to share, naturally, without the drama, and making it fun. Simple parenting tricks that work!

I really believe that teaching kids to share is also encouraging them to help each other and cooperate. That in fact, it’s about teaching them to work together, to play together and to respect each other. And it’s also helping them to figure out how to fight and how to make up after. And that in the end, it makes them feel capable and strong while helping them have strong relationships with other kids, and being assertive while staying compassionate. And I always felt that if my daughters will really learn to share, they’ll become the best of friends. That’s why I’ve been thinking a lot about how to tech kids to share, and how to make it really work in our home.

You see, I believe it’s fine it they fight, as long as they know how to resolve their issue afterwards, and in their age, most of fights happen over sharing, or lack of it. So for me, helping them to share is a part of my bigger goal: making sure they’ll have a strong relationship, and that they’ll always know how to get over a fight.

So at least once a day I’ll ask Lili to help Rose with something, “read” her a book that they’ll both hold, draw together on one piece of paper or prepare me a felt-veggie dinner together. And then, once they did something together, and once Lili helped her little sis, all that sharing thing comes a bit easier! And that way also Rose learns that it’s actually nice to share and she feels better about it too.

Of course, my kids are not angels, and they do fight over toys, even after all the sharing they do. But it never lasts long, and recently I don’t even need to intervene, as they’ll excuse themselves on their own, cuddle and find a way to play together afterwords.

How to teach kids to share

How to teach kids to share

How to teach kids to share

So here’s what I do to help them to share, naturally and on a day-to-day basics, :

1. Share one bedroom.

I really believe that because they sleep in one room, and are the first people they see in the morning, they are more used to other people in their personal space and therefore are more open to sharing. Also, since they have this time just for the two of them, when thy fall a sleep and when they wake up, they are closer together and more apt to share things.

2. Do crafts together.

I often set up a craft for the two of them do create together, on a large piece of paper. They have usually one set of paint or crayons to use, and so naturally they need to take turns. There’s no ” that’s mine” talk, since the art piece is supposed to be an effect of their work together.

I think that creating together, sharing a big sheet op paper, paint and crayons makes for a natural setting to share, where the things are less important than the act of creating, and so they concentrate on their creative play, and sharing comes along the way.

3. Playing games where they need to cooperate.

I used to encourage imaginative games where they both had a role to play: setting up a restaurant from felt food, doing puzzles together, simple game boards or pretended play. Now they are used to these and often play together without me setting anything for them.

4. Give them positive attention when they help each other.

Kids do a lot of things only to get our attention. Sharing or not might be one them. So me, I used to come to the playroom every time I heard a cry. And at some point there was a lot of crying in that room! At some point I realized that instead of talking to each other they’d cry, only so I would come and solve their problem.

So I changed my approach. I stopped reacting to cries, and when they would come to me saying : ” she took that, she did this, she doesn’t share” I’d ask: “Why are you telling me this? Was it me who took it? Ask her to give it back, tell her you’re sad when she takes things away from you” And in the end they learned to work it out between them. And they stopped crying just to grab my attention.

So now, when they play and share, I’ll pop in to the play room and say that I appreciate how they share, and I love to see them playing together.

5. Don’t force it.

Last but not the least, I try not to force it. As a friend once told me, for a toddler to share a toy, is as difficult as for an adult to share their spouse: unimaginable!

So that’s why even playing in taking turns might be very difficult for little kids. But I believe that even small kids understand when someone is sad, and they want to fix it. So instead of pushing them to give their toy to play, I would show that the other child is sad, and maybe we could make him happier if we shared for a minute. Or I’d try to show them how nice it is to exchange toys.

So while my kids are definitely not perfect they do cooperate with more ease lately. And since I implemented these ways in our every day life, they do share more and fight less over toys. And I hope these tips might help you too!

3 tips for parenting a strong willed child

As a mom of a stubborn and determined – aka strong-willed – little girl, I get to practice my patience daily, stretch it and finally pick my battles over and over again. Because parenting a strong-willed child, isn’t like regular parenting. It’s dealing with a child who’s more determined, more active and often more emotional than other kids. It’s parenting a child who has a drive of two and energy of three. It’s pretty exhausting sometimes.

3 best tips that have saved my sanity while parenting a strong-willed  ( stubborn and determined ) child!

But it’s also pretty rewarding. And as much as it can be difficult (because the strong-willed child will always want things their way!) sometimes I think it’s for the best.

I believe that my daughter was meant to be so strong, and my job is to never break her, just guide her toward right choices. Because these stubborn kids (who, quite frankly, sometimes drive us crazy!) will grow to be the most persevering adults, great leaders and passionate workers. Grown-ups knowing what they want and how to get it.

And I really think that strong-willed children need mostly clear values, encouragement and love. And that we’re not here to break them, or to show them that they’re not in charge of their life. Because they are! ( Yes, we are responsible for them as long as they’re little, and it’s our job to keep them safe, but it is still their life.)

And if they have more drive, more passion and more energy than anyone else, then what they really need is a clear compass, so they can use their strength to do good in life and to have a place in the society.

strong-willed child

So I know that my biggest job as a mama to this particular strong-willed girl, is to help her find her purpose in life, to encourage her and let her grow. Even if it’s not always easy to be honest!

And so here are my three tried and tested tips to keep these strong-willed kids out of trouble, following our guidance yet still following their own path:

1. Listen to what your child has to say.

A strong-willed child really needs to express their thoughts and emotions, needs to be heard and acknowledged. Your child will do it ether in a form of a tantrum, either calmly and nicely! And it’s up to you to slow down, get at their high and ask them:” What do you want now? Can I help you? How do you feel? What is your idea for that?” Now, it doesn’t mean that you’ll always agree to their ideas and fulfill all their needs ( like a “need” of sweets before dinner). It means you listen, and you can talk about it. You can try paraphrasing their emotions:” I hear you’re upset. You’d like to eat more chocolate.” But if it’s against your plan, and there’s no way they are right, then look at tip 2!

2. Make clear rules and stay consistent.

Since strong willed kids want things to always be their way, they need clear rules of where they can choose, make a decision or propose a solution, and where they need to follow your lead. Because as soon as the situation is unclear, you can be assured that a strong willed child will try to take the lead! for example, we have a picture of four of our family rules, and another one of our stay-at-home day plan. So there’s no discussion about bedtime following dinner, or playing with balls at home ( that’s a no!) etc: the rules are clear and they don’t change.

3. Give them responsibilities, and ask them to help you.

A strong willed child want’s to feel in charge and capable, so instead of braking that need and turning it in to a rebellion of destruction ( you know the tantrum type of: I-don’t-know-why-I’m-upset-but-I-can’t-calm-down) give them a job to do. A responsibility. For example, when your strong willed child is at your feet whining when you cook, give them a real job to help you with. When you’re out and about, ask them to be in charge of a grocery list, or of picking the best apples, or taking care of their siblings. Depending from their age, they’ll love to be in charge of different things!

strong willed child

And I’m sure that by implementing these three simple tips, your strong willed child will be more cooperative, less explosive and overall more calm. Though, next time your stubborn kid does throw you a huge tantrum, just breathe and remember that your child is simply practicing his leadership skills on you! And that it’ll all pass!

Lazy moms guide to camping with kids

What to pack, how to prepare, and all the tips you need for a fun family camping! ( even if it's your first time camping with kids!)

Here is the truth, I don’t really like camping all that much, and that’s exactly why I have prepared this guide to camping with kids! Because I learned that by making it simpler and more comfortable, I start to mind less bugs and public bathrooms and appreciate more forest hikes, and canoeing on the lake.

And I just love how kids are running around happily and how our family is reconnecting together over the campfire! Also, I truly believe that camping is great for kids development (I wrote all about that here) so even though I’d feel better in the hotel by the sea, we will keep camping!

There are a couple of things that you can do, to make camping easier and more comfortable, even with little kids around, and even if you’re not sure where to start.

1. Take just the right things.

If you’re a Pinterest junky like I am, then you’ve probably seen these super long “essentials only” lists of things you need when you go camping. Do they overwhelm you? Because they sure did overwhelm me. Until we actually went camping, and found out that we’re all good without a folding table (there was a picnic table!) and without a big box of outdoor toys ( kids did play, even more than ever, using their imagination and a minimum of toys).

Because let’s face it, what’s relaxing about camping is simplifying life, and not spending hours upon arrival on setting things up!

That’s why I’ve prepared you a list that you can print out:

Here's what you REALLY need when camping with kids - the absolute minimum, and all that really is needed

So my advice, is take only the essentials. Sleeping gear, cooking gear, folding chairs for the campfire, a minimum of clothes and food. Ok, I’ll admit that I like to add the French press coffee machine and some pretty plates and a quilt, but that’s just my glamping essentials!

2. Consider ready-to-camp set up.

That’s the easiest of camping options, as you don’t have to set things up, and so your preparation is so much easier. I especially recommend this option for camping newbies and families with babies! We went to one of these ready to camp places when Lili was two years old and Rose was three months old, and it was one of the best vacations we ever had as a family!

Camping with kids

3. Camper or tent, which one is for you?

Camper set up is so much easier, and gives you place to eat and cook when it rains, but is considerably more pricey then all the tent gear.

Tent gives you more of an outdoorsy feel, and is much cheaper, but more time-consuming to set up.

I say, try both ( you can rent a camper for a weekend, and there’s always that one friend who has a tent to lent!) before investing in either of them!

Camping with kids

We decided that since we don’t go camping every weekend, the investment in a big camper wouldn’t make sense for us. Instead we started camping with a very large tent, that was just enough for our camping trips during the summer. And lately we got an old pop up tent- it gives a bit more of a glamping feel but without braking the bank.

Camping with kids

3. Tent camping preparations and what to do a week before:

Set up your tent in your backyard. You need to see if the tent is all good! And I reccomend running a trail night with the kids in the backyard. That means checking if your mattresses aren’t pierced, and if you’re warm enough in your sleeping-bags. I admit that it’s usually my hubby sleeping in the backyard with our older one not me, but it does get everyone exited!

Check if you have enough fuel for your camp stove, if you have batteries and first aid kit is well packed.

4. Tent camping must haves.

Good quality mattresses and sleeping bags are really a necessity! And for some extra comfort I like camping with my own pillow and real bedding. Of course, if you’d like to be sure that the rain won’t ruin your stay a canopy is a good buy, but I never used it, and we where just fine! Also, folding chairs, and if there’s no picnic table provided on your camping ground, then a folding table! ( see my full list above for what to pack for details).

Camping with kids

5. Make cooking easier: prepare a meal plan, and have some meals pre-prepared!

Really do make a detailed meal plan. Bake some muffins ahead for easy breakfast, and bring ready-made salsa, dips and pasta souse. What I also do, is opt for easy preparation, like fajita or tacos, hot dogs or pasta! I make sure to have lots of snacks, s’mores box and some drinks for adults!

Also, camping is much better with bacon and eggs for breakfast, and good coffee!

Camping with kids

6. Activities.

As much as hiking, kayaking and chilling around the camping ground is fun, it’s not as fun if it rains, and that’s why we always camp close to attractions like a zoo, pick up farm, or just close enough to the city. That way when there’s a rainy day head, we’re not stuck in the tent!

7. Let the kids be kids.

You don’t need to prepare them extra activities and they really don’t need all the toys. Bring a couple if their favourites ( max 4 per child) and let them get dirty and wild, let them explore the nature and make use of their imagination.

Camping with kids

And lastly, enjoy yourself. Camping with kids is all about reconnecting, unplugging and relaxing, so just let the kids be dirty, eat all the s’mores you want and enjoy the nature!

How to raise a foodie: 10 simple tips.

If you're having a picky eater or if you're worried you might have one, here are tried and tested tips on getting rid of the picky eating and raising a little foodie! #motherhood #parenting

From the very first minutes of motherhood, feeding is one of the most important issues. It can bring joy or anxiety, it can be a bliss or a battle. Whether you’ve breastfeed or bottle-feed, you know exactly what you’ve been through, the good and the bad. Probably everyone around you had an opinion on how you should or shouldn’t have fed your baby. And then, once the milk-phase is done, comes the era of real food, the battles over veggies and the “I don’t like it”/”But you haven’t tried it yet” never-ending discussions.

But what if there was a way of raising a foodie instead of a picky eater? Is that even possible?

I think it is. Now, I don’t think that everyone should like every taste, every consistency and every spice out there. I believe that it’s ok to like less certain foods, and avoid some. But I also believe in eating various foods in general, in experimenting in the kitchen and in trying new things. I believe in a whole and colorful plate that you can share with your toddler, without the whining and tears.

How to raise a foodie

And I believe that kids too can be foodies.

However, there are a couple of conditions that may make this task much more complicated. Kids diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders, anxiety or depression usually don’t like trying new foods, and eating the same meals daily can make them feel more secure and in control. Also, some people have genetic predispositions to sense tastes differently, especially finding the bitter taste where others almost don’t feel it (think vegetables), therefore will be drawn to starches, mild foods and won’t like to experiment, in fear of finding the same bitter taste again.

But even these predisposed picky eaters can open a bit their taste buds, if given opportunity to do so! Because we’re not born with the love of green olives, french cheese or shrimps. Tastes grow on us and if we see our family members enjoying them, if we are given the opportunity to look and smell the food a number of times before trying it, and if we’re not forced to do so, we can learn to accept and like it too.

How to raise a foodie

But what if your toddler have been trying all sorts of foods and suddenly became an I-don’t-trust-any-new-food type of kid?

There’s an explanation for that too. According to evolutionary psychology, kids are open to any food that a parent will introduce before the walking phase. Once the child can walk, he could poison himself by picking foods on his own (Remember that people used to live in the hunters and gathers tribes, for hundreds thousands of years? And quite frankly our biology is still adjusted to that type of lifestyle.)So throughout the toddler years, kids are wired not to trust new foods! And add to that their short memory and here you have it, a meltdown over broccoli because it’s been 3 weeks since you’ve cooked it, and your child is convinced it’s a poison!

So, while keeping all that in mind, what can we do to raise a foodie? Here are my tried and tested ways:

1. Be consistent.

Research proves that it takes around 10 exposures to new food before a child will be willing to eat it! It’s 10 times seeing the parents eating it and 10 times seeing it on their plate before the child will actually TRY IT. So don’t give up if you offered asparagus three times to your toddler and he’s still not eating it. Just keep on cooking it, eating it, and putting on his plate.

2. Model.

Kids learn by imitation, so if you say “I don’t like it” referring to any type of food, your kid will do the same. Even if you just said that you wouldn’t like to eat raw meat, your child can easily turn it in to not wanting to eat any meet, because “mommy said so”. But if you’re trying new foods often then your child will do the same!

3. Don’t force it.

Never force it! If you’ll start forcing a child to eat something, you’ll end up in a power struggle, and your child will learn that there’s something that you really care about, something that you don’t control but he does. The control over what’s going to be eaten is in your kids hands, and putting too much emphasis on it, might give your kid a place to stretch that control, just for the sake of it, resulting in stubborn I-won’-try-it just to prove a point!

Also, you don’t want meal time turn in to a dispute, struggle and battle. In order for it being pleasant and fun for everybody, everyone should have the same freedom and choice. You’re scared that your kid will choose to eat only bread and dessert? Don’t put it on the table.

Your responsibility is to make the food and put it on the table, and it’s your child’s freedom to choose whatever he wants from the choices that you offer.

4. Pick your battles.

The kid devours tomatoes and carrots but leaves all the salad out? Just keep serving it, and one day, by accident, he may start eating it. There’s a vegetable soup and a salad? Let them eat the one they prefer, don’t insists on eating all of the veggies.

Your kids like pizza, pasta and fries? Perfect, serve them their favorite food with a mixed in portion of a new vegetable, and who knows, maybe they’ll eat some of it too!

How to raise a foodie

5. Start a vegetable or a herb garden.

Seeing how food grows, caring for it, watering it and then harvesting it gives kids a sense of comprehension, anticipation and pride. So starting even a small veggie garden in a pot can help you child get interested in veggies!

6. Don’t give up.

Did I already say it? Well, it’s so important, that I’ll say it again, don’t give up, just serve these veggies, and put them on that plastic plate!

It took me a year to convince my kids to some veggies. Onions, kale, leek and even peppers, they all have been less than loved at some point or another. But they ended up trying them, eating a piece, and another, and accepting them in the end.

7. Include them in preparation.

Let them pick the prettiest tomatoes while doing groceries, invite them to scroll through a cook book and pick a recipe, let them help you with washing vegetables, mixing up a salad and cutting fruits! If they helped making it, they’ll most likely at least try it!

8. Never say: you won’t like it.

Kids define themselves through what you say about them, so if you say they won’t like something, that’ll believe you, and even convince themselves they do not want to disappoint you. So don’t call them picky, don’t say that don’t like veggies or spices and don’t tell them what they don’t like.

9. Don’t assume it’s not for kids.

In many cultures there’s no such thing as kid-meals. Children eat exactly the same spices as adults, and they don’t get choice or a second option.

10. Don’t say it’s healthy, just say you like it.

Another research shows that saying that something is healthy actually resolves in kids NOT wanting to eat that food. But since kids learn by imitation, it’s better to just eat the healthy stuff yourself with a smile instead of saying that it’s healthy and they have to.

How to raise a foodie

Raising kids is amazing, fun, difficult and exhausting, all at the same time. Feeding them is a big part of it. So make it fun, for your sake mostly. Eat what you like, maybe with a healthier spin on it. Don’t stress yourself too much about their nutrition intake after a day of cereals and hot dogs. Just balance it the next day with something a bit better. You’re doing your best, I know that! And who knows, maybe in a couple of years your little foodie will try to convince you to try something new?

A letter to the mom with a dyslectic child

If you're child just got a diagnostic I imagine you're worried. Here's what I want you to know about having a dyslectic child! #parenting #dyslexia #motherhood

I imagine you’re scared. Probably worried for the future. Maybe heartbroken. I’m just guessing to be honest, because I don’t really know how it feels when your child is diagnosed with dyslexia. I should probably ask my own mother. Because I am dyslexic. I always been.

Yes, it took me twice the time to learn to read. And yes, if I write by hand I have problems understanding my own handwriting (not to mention everyone else having problems understanding it!). Yes, I do make a lot of mistakes while writing. And I did have to change schools at some point, because of teachers thinking that I was lazy and stupid. But there where also teachers who got me. Who didn’t mind forty mistakes and who inspired me to write regardless of my dyslexia. Who believed in me and helped me grow beyond my diagnosis.

So I guess that you’re stressed about your child’s future. As I was reading the article: “A different way of thinking”, in a paper version of the Today’s Parent Magazine, I understood how worried you might be now. You’re imaging your poor child, a child who’ll always have problems with learning. Who’ll always struggle. Who won’t learn as you did. A child seeing letters and numbers differently. Maybe never mastering them really. Yes, that does sound worrying. Because none of us wants a difficult life for our children, I understand.

Mom with a dyslectic child

But even though it was a long process for me to learn to read and write, I wouldn’t like to exchange my dyslexia for anything else. Why? Because thanks to my “condition” I’m creative. Thanks to the neurones not connecting like they should, I see things differently. I see similarities and associations between things far apart, I think in metaphors and I make things differently.

Yes, it is sometimes embarrassing to be an adult who makes mistakes while writing. Who’s mixing up letters and numbers. Who can’t really count. Yes, it can be stressful.

But I also love to read and write. I consider myself as a writer. I choose to study psychology, to understand the complex human nature. I got a master’s degree. I speak three languages.

See, in the end it’s just a different set of skills. Flexibility, creativeness, out of the box thinking, are too a part of dyslexia. I wish that was a part of the diagnostic that you got. I wish you were told that Albert Einstein, Jon Lennon and Picasso where also dyslexic.

[bctt tweet=”See, in the end it’s just a different set of skills. Flexibility, creativeness, out of the box thinking, are too a part of dyslexia. I wish that was a part of the diagnostic that you got. I wish you were told that Albert Einstein, Jon Lennon and Picasso where also dyslexic.” username=”TwittingLazyMom”]

So don’t worry about dyslexia too much. With a little bit of help your child will read. Later than others, but eventually he’ll learn. Maybe handwriting won’t happen. Maybe he’ll always make mistakes. Maybe numbers and therefore science won’t come easy. But your dyslexic child can be happy, can have a career and can succeed. And I wish that a diagnostic that you got would end somewhat like this :

Congratulation on your very creative and out of the box child! Your child will make amazing things happen, your child will create, and your child will surprise the world with its ideas! How fortunate that your family got to have a dyslexic among you! Now go on and enjoy your exiting life with your own creative, dyslectic child!

And if by any genetic chance, one of my daughters too will turn up to be dyslectic, I’ll be happy to guide her through this world of letters and numbers. We might even through a party to celebrate it!

When your child says ” I want a new mom”

So it happened, your child just announced : I want a new mom" , what do you do? ( hint, don't overreact! ) one moms answer and tip! #parenting #motherhood

This Mother’s Day I wanted to post a photo of me and my daughters, with an inspiring phrase about how lucky I am to be their mama. I didn’t think much about it, but it felt appropriate for the occasion. And anyway, I do feel like this most days. Obviously, there are also the days when I don’t feel that happy, when I’m doubtful about my parenting, when I’m tired and exhausted. But Mother’s Day is about celebration and joy, so concentrating on the positive seemed only natural.

I even had a photo, taken the day before Mother’s Day, where I’m cuddling Rose and Lili is smiling and eating strawberries. I was thinking that if we won’t manage to make a new one, this one would show perfectly well how happy we’re all together.

Except that, Mother’s Day came, and found me in a black hole of motherhood.

It started nice though, with croissants for breakfast and kids waking up late. But me and my hubby had some projects to finish around the house. I couldn’t play with my daughters as much, and lunch wasn’t what my four-year old Lili wished for.

And so, after a morning of Rose’s meltdowns and Lili’s attitude, I learned that Lili wishes for a new mommy.(Ouch, that hurt.) A mommy who was born in Canada, and who wouldn’t speak Polish to her. (That hurts even more, especially that raising my kids bilingually is so very important for me!).

I should have ignored it. Or say calmly that I understand that she’s upset but I don’t like when she talks to me like that. But I had tears in my eyes. And so I dressed her against her will and send her in to the backyard to see her dad. I didn’t want to look at her to be honest. I started imagining our bond, deteriorating. Our fights in ten, fifteen years. Her resenting me. Me resenting her. And I cried. It was Mother’s Day , and I felt like a complete failure of a mother.

So what do you do, when your child says she wants a new mommy? What you always do. You breath. You suck it up. You forgive. You don’t take it too seriously. And you do your best.

And so, this is what I did. I breathed and I give her a kiss when she was back. She did excuse herself, after all, and forgot about it all. We played, and the day moved on.

And I repeated to myself as mantra, don’t take it seriously, it’s just a phase. It’ll pass. Then it may come back. But eventually it’ll all pass..

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