Joanna Anastasia

Kids

Schedule for staying home with kids during the quarantaine

Depending where you live you might be either in full on quarantaine mood or like us, at the social distancing point. Either way, our schools and daycares are cancelled, and many of us are either not working at this point at all, or working from home with kids around.

Here where we are, in Montreal, we are still able to go for a walk around the neighborhood with kids, or play in the backyard, and while we make sure to keep our distance ( witch is easy in our residential area) , we definitely do take kids out to play a bit in fresh air.

However, your reality might be a bit different- and so of course we should all follow what our local health care providers direct us to do.

So this schedule for staying home with kids during the quarantaine is an reflection of how I spend days with my three kids- who are now eight, six and twenty months.

And why actually I want us to stick to a schedule? Well, let me explain:

  • My kids are used to a school schedule– and so without it, after two-three days they become whiny and really unorganized !
  • Without clear “screen time schedule” it becomes impossible to get them off the screens-they become the “Screen Gollums” and throw tantrums once I say it’s enough and we need to eat/go to sleep etc.
  • They don’t want to tidy/dress and follow any routine when there’s no real day plan.
  • It helps me to be the focused mom I need to be now– while keeping my time slots for my own breaks.

Now, it may be only my kids who thrive on planned days and who lose it with too many “do-whatever-you-want” days. But with all that is happening now, the last thing I need are whiny, grumpy and fighting kids. So my way to keep a relatively normal beat is by following our schedule.

Last thing to keep in mind- my plan is based on the time I have spend in the past with my kids ant home- as I used to send them to day care three times a week, and I used to keep them home twice a week so they would be bilingual and speak both the official language of our province- French- but also my mother tongue- Polish.

Also, I always kept them home during all the pedagogical days. So I know that this schedule works for us based on hundreds of days spent following this plan.

But maybe your kids need more active time, or maybe they nap more or wake up much earlier- you might need to adjust it for your own family needs. This is only how I do it.


And if you’d like to download it and print at home here is the pdf!

Also, when I say it’s clean up time- it means that it’s both adults as kids who tidy up- so this is the time when I ask kids to clean their toys, help to clean the table, help with laundry folding etc.

And, my backyard is completely closed, so I can send my older kids to play outside alone if I need to work. So for me this schedule works pretty well even on the days when I actually do need to work from home.

Now, as to all that craft time- we like crafting, I wrote a book on crafting with kids, and often through crafting time I will actually sneak in some homeschooling and reading and writing activities. Plus it’s a relatively quiet time so it’s a win-win in my books!

And a last thing to keep in mind- if you don’t follow a schedule it’s also ok. Whatever you do to pass through this difficult time is fine, and there’s no one way fits all. What’s important is that we go through this safe, healthy and sane- and without passing that virus to anyone on our way!

What to do when your child has nightmares

what to do when your child starts having nightmares, how to help him sleep better, and how to organize the bedroom so it'll be calming and relaxing!

We all know that real happiness for a parent, is nothing more than a child that falls easily asleep, and stays a sleep all night! And so once the baby phase have passed, I thought that the sleep issues are over. But my both daughters have very vivid imagination, which is amazing during their play time, as they can amuse themselves for hours! But when it’s bedtime, and they can’t fall asleep because they’re scared of nightmares, or they wake up in tears, than it’s rather heartbreaking.

That’s why I’ve been trying for months to find a perfect solution to this problem, and here’s what I came up with:

1. Bedtime routine that involves talking about their day

Small kids need routine to feel secure, and even more so, kids who tend to have nightmares. So make sure your child goes to sleep at the same time every night, and that they follow at least two steps of routine before falling asleep ( like bath, then potty, then story time and cuddle, or potty, washing teeth with mom, story and cuddle) Make sure your child knows what are the steps, and what will happen next.

After you finished their bedtime routine, and once your kid is ready to fall asleep, talk about their day. Ask them what they liked the most and what they liked the least. And if there was something that surprised them or scared.

That’s the opportunity for them to talk about any scary and surprising events of the day. And talking about anything that provoked strong emotions, will help your child deal with it better, and therefore avoid nightmares!

what to do when your child has nightmares

what to do when your child has nightmares

what to do when your child has nightmares

what to do when your child has nightmares

3. Introduce magical objects.

Young kids under six/seven years of age, don’t think with the same logic as adults, which is called magical thinking. (And thanks to that, they can feel reassured with mommy kisses when they’re hurt!)

And that’s why I got a white plush unicorn for my daughters room, and introduced it as a Night Guardian of Dreams! Lili and Rose love it and are convinced now that bad dreams can’t get to them anymore because of Clara, the Night Guardian (yes the unicorn real name is Clara).

I got it from Brooklyns Room, a Canadian based kids accessory boutique ( where you can choose among other animals like flamingos and lions) It hangs upon my daughters beds, and it’s as soft and fluffy as at can get, while being calming and reassuring in their eyes! Honestly it’s one of the best decorating decisions I made to date!

Also, when I ask them with which little animal they wan’t to be sleeping and dreaming sweet dreams, there seem to be some that have more “magical powers” then others. So for example, lately the most magical of all is this little tooth pillow, and they are both taking turns for sleeping with it!

what to do when your child has nightmares

what to do when your child has nightmares

4. Reassure.

Let them know that even if they would end up having a nightmare, they are not alone, and that they are safe. Tell them that they can always come and cuddle you (or call you), and promise to lave that small light on. Tell them it happens to you too, and tell them how you deal with it. ( Do you get up to drink water, do you turn around and cuddle?). Let them know it’s normal and that it will pass.

So know, before falling asleep Lili will always point on the Clara the unicorn and reassure Rose that it will protect them! And while I’m always there for them, I’m happy to see that they feel safer and that they sleep better too.

what to do when your child has nightmares

Disclosure: This article was brought to you by Brooklyns Room, all opinions remain my own!

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 not to raise overstimulated kids.

So it may be that without realizing it, we actually raise overstimulated kids . The lack of free, unstructured time can actually cause irritability, and inability to focus, sit still and play for hours with the same toy. Here are some great tips what to do to avoid that!

As parents, we just want what’s best for our kids. We heard so many times, that we should keep our children occupied and stimulated. And if we have kids who we see as very active, never calm, and never sitting still, then we might feel as occupying them more is the best solution. But it’s not.

I believe that kids need time to get bored. That out of boredom great creations can emerge. That time spend with their own thoughts is the time of self growth and development. Now, I don’t mean zero stimulation. I just think that kids now are overly stimulated. We get them toys. Lots of toys. Activities, sports, art classes and play-dates.

And where’s the time to imagine things? To get really bored and out if this boredom, to decide to do something creative? Not a craft that was guided by an adult, with all the pieces already prepared. Something made entirely by the kid, imagined, and designed.

When will they have time to invent an imaginative friend? Play with shadows, sticks and rocks? Get boxes out of recycling and build a rocket out of it? Paint whatever they feel like painting?

So it may be that without realizing it, we actually raise overstimulated kids . The lack of free, unstructured time can actually cause irritability, and inability to focus, sit still and play for hours with the same toy. Here are some great tips what to do to avoid that!

None of that can happen if we plan our kids days from the early morning to late evening. If every weekend they have swimming and art classes, and soccer three times a week. If we always prepare their crafts, and hand them pre-cut pieces. If they don’t need to put any effort in entertaining themselves.

[bctt tweet=”The lack of free, unstructured time can actually cause irritability, and inability to focus, sit still and play for hours with the same toy.”]

So it may be that without realizing it, we raise overstimulated kids . The lack of free, unstructured time can actually cause irritability, and inability to focus, sit still and play for hours with the same toy.

So what should we do to avoid that? What if our kids are used to watching TV in the afternoon, if their playroom is full of toys and if they still come to us and say that they’re bored? ( yes, I’ve been there, and heard that, standing in front of a room full of after-Christmas-new-and-beautiful-toys, aka, useless objects!)

Should we get them new toys, invent activities and crafts? I believe that no, we shouldn’t. Here’s what we could do instead:

1. Purge the play room.
Put one-third of their toys in the basement or in a closet, and start making toy rotation. Too many toys at once and too much choice, confuse kids and results in them not knowing what they want to play with anymore. It makes it harder for them to devote themselves to one play, because seeing all the other toys just makes them switch from one to another.

2. Encourage unguided crafting.
Instead of always preparing a craft theme and a plan, give your children the craft box with one simple instruction: create something. Anything. Use all that you want. And we’ll clean later.

3. Encourage imaginative play with unconventional toys: Exploration Basket and an Inventor Box.
Exploration basket is perfect for babies and toddlers, and Inventor Box is perfect for encouraging creativity in older kids. Both are inspired by Montessori approach. And what’s so great about Montessori ? It inspires children to learn while creating, discovering and playing with simple, every day materials.

So if you have a baby or a toddler set up a box with natural elements, and every day objects, and if you have a preschooler or even an older kid, set up an Inventor Box for them and encourage them to actually invent something!

What you’ll need for an exploration basket:

– a box or a basket
– natural elements, like pine cons, smooth rocks, feathers, small and smooth birches, shells, etc..
– kitchen accessories, like wooden spoons, small bowls, little bottles and caps to match together, measuring cups, etc..
– recycling materials like toilet paper rolls etc..

What you’ll need for an inventor box:

– a box and cardboard boxes in various sizes
– tape, scissors, rope
– old cell phone, or any other unused electronically pieces (obviously nothing sharp)
– kids tools
– recycling materials, like paper rolls, tubes, egg cartons etc..
– measuring tape, pen and a little notepad

4. When kids say that they are bored, don’t come to the rescue!
Let them experience boredom, because out that state of I-don’t-know-what-to-do, some great solutions and inventions can happen. But if you see that they are getting in to trouble because of it, then do as parents used to do in the past: engaged them in hause duties! Cleaning and helping you in the kitchen can be either a clear signal for them to find something to play with before you find them something to do. Or it can be a fun way of spending time together, an activity that helps your child feel capable and valuable. Either way, they shouldn’t be bored anymore!

5. Less screen time.
I know, it’s though. Not even for kids, but for us, adults! I must admit, I do love to cook alone, while my daughters are watching their favourite show. But, I’m restraining that. Instead, I decided to invite them to the kitchen with me, while I cook, to look, help, stir and mix. And if they won’t want to, they can play nicely ( they better do!). I decided to cut their screen time in almost half. For us that means three times a week 45 minutes at a time, instead of five times a week. Whatever is your norm, cut it a bit. (Especially before going to bed, as screen light really stimulates!)

6. More time spend in the nature.
Nature has a calming effect, not only for adults, but for the kids alike. Try spending time outside with kids as much as possible: nature hints, forest hikes, beach afternoon, all that has a beneficial, calming and re-sourcing effect! And if you’re living a busy, city life, try spending more time in your backyard, on a city stroll or at the park!

I know that putting all of these changes in to action want be easy at first. But with less stimulation, toys laying around and screen time, and with more unplanned,unplugged and creative playtime, your kids will concentrate better, focus more, and in the end, won’t be bored as much!

( And if you’d like to read more about overstimulating kids and babies, click here and here. )

DIY electro dough kit

Let your child play with light and sound while discovering science! Such a fun way to teach your kids about electricity while playing with play dough!

While I really enjoy playing with my daughter, what I love even more is helping her learn and discover while playing. That’s why I’m always on the look out for new and inspiring activities. And today I’m really happy to share with you my new favourite one!

Whenever you’re a homeschooling parent, or just a mom who’s looking for fun, rainy day activities, this DIY electro dough kit is definitely something that you’ll enjoy as much as we did! It’s a great tool for helping children understand how electricity works and it lets them build electric circuits, while playing with light, sound and play dough.

Electro dough kit

But if you’d ask me if I liked science while I was at school, I’d tell you that I hated it (let’s keep that a secret from my kids though). And that’s exactly why I want to raise my daughters differently! I hope they’ll feel as comfortable with science in the future as they do with play dough now.

The DIY electro dough kit comes with instructions on making your own play dough, and many cool accessories to build your own circuits. However if you’re a busy parent (or if you just don’t feel like it) you can totally use a regular play dough, juts like I did.

Electro dough

We started by creating a simple electric circuit with LEDs, and Lili understood pretty fast how to place the LEDs “legs” and how the direction does matter. I had as much fun as she did, and we were both pretty exited when it worked for the first time!

This lit lets you experiment with light and sound while playing play dough! Great educative toy!

Then we’ve made a simple “button” with play dough, and Lili was pretty amused with the fact that it’s not the switch, but her little hand touching the play dough, that controls the LEDs:

This electro dough kit is such a great reasons for homeschooling parents! It lets your kids discover how electricity works, while playing with play dough!

And then she asked me if I could make her some figurines. I did my best, though as you can see they turned out a bit clumsy:

Electro dough

We used the LEDs as if they would be little lanterns: Lili was imagining that her figurines are dancing and singing while holding lanterns, and she even made up a song about it. (Don’t you love it when your kids make up songs? I do, unless they repeat them over and over again.. And then when you go to sleep you still have a weird version of “The wheels of the bus go round and round” in your head! )

Great kit for experimenting with electricity while playing play dough

We’ve spent almost two hours, creating, experimenting and laughing. (Except of the moment when I had to remodel all of the figurines for the third time, because she wanted them bigger and bigger! It’s hard work playing with play dough..)

This kit lets your kid discover hoe electricity works while playing with okay dough, so cool !

I’m sure we’ll be playing very often with our DIY electro dough kit, and I hope that I inspired you to try it too!

Disclosure : I received this product free for review, all opinions remain my own.

5 reasons why your child needs merino wool clothing

I discovered merino wool 5 years ago when I was in New Zealand with my at-the-time fiancé ( now hubby). We spend almost 4 months in that amazing place, hiking, exploring and having the best time in our lives. That is, until our daughters came along, because obviously the best fun ever is being a parent 😉 .

Why merino wool clothing is the best choice for active kids and busy moms

Back then, everyone had something made from merino wool and I remember that it wasn’t until I got myself a long sleeve shirt when I understood why. It’s the perfect keep-me-warm-yet-never-too-hot garment of clothing! It lets you breathe, it feels soft against your skin, keeps you warm and cozy and never, ever gets to smell bad!

So obviously as soon as I had kids I wanted a merino for them too.

Something to keep them warm, but never too hot, something soft, cute and perfect for any occasion. The only problem was that, merino wool is usually used in high-end sports wear for adults. As if kids wouldn’t be in constant motion, getting dirty and smelling funky!

And then, one day I found thorough Instagram Luvmother . Sourced in New Zealand and Australia, and then made in Canada. And best of all : designed especially for kids!

Why merino wool is the best choice for your child

These beautiful basics have all of the best merino wool characteristics: soft, warm and breathable with the cutest kid friendly features. The hoodies are longer in the back, with pretty prints, soft hues and practical little pockets. No big distracting logos, just a subtitle double stitch in the back.

Why merino is the best choice for your child

I actually contacted them and said that I really, really want to try their clothes. And so I took Lili for a mother-daughter date. We went for a walk by the river, where the wind blows and it feels like vacation ( my daughters words!). We looked at the boats passing by. We run. And it was great knowing that even when the wind was blowing harder she wasn’t to cold, and when the sun was coming back she wasn’t too hot neither. I could really concentrate on her.

Why it's the best choice for your child

And so, here are the reasons why I love merino wool on kids:

1. Merino keeps kids really warm.
Merino has an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio compared to other wools, so it’s trapping body heat similar to the way a sleeping bag warms its occupant.

1. But they never feel too hot, or wet in it!
Merino wool draws sweat away from the skin. Since this fabric is slightly moisture repellent it helps to avoid the feeling of wetness.

2. It never smells bad.
It’s because merino wool has antibacterial properties ( so you get to do a bit less laundry, yay!).

3. It’s really soft, so kids can wear it directly on bearskin.
Merino is one of the softest types of wool available, so it doesn’t scratch.

6. It’s a perfect garment for active lifestyle : aka for being a kid.
Thanks to it’s properties it’s used a lot in high-end athletes clothing. So it’s a perfect choice for anyone who runs/climbs/jumps/and guests dirty a lot.

Merino

And then we went apple picking. I really wanted to test these cloths in both colder and warmer weather, to see if they are really as great. And they are. It was a sunny fall afternoon, with a bit of clouds, and my girls seemed to be very comfortable.

Why merino wool is the best choice for your child best choice for your child

My younger one got all wet from all of the apples that she had (just imagine a messy creature bursting in to a very juicy fruit. 10 times in a row.) And her cute birdie sweatshirt dried so fast that I didn’t even had to change her!

Why merino is the best choice for your child

As for Lili, she didn’t even know we were testing anything here. She was just happy that I let her climb that tree and wear her dad’s hat. And that her little sis couldn’t climb that high!

Side note : luvmother clothing is made to fit. But my almost four year old is a very tall little girl, so I got her a Aha Hoody in a 5-6 size. She totally rocks it as a tunic, but originally it’s meant to fit tighter. As for my almost-toddler Rose, she’s officially wearing 18 to 24 moths, and so I got her the smallest available size 2.

Why merino is the best choice for your child

Disclosure : I received this product free for review, all opinions remain my own.