Joanna Anastasia

Parenting tips

How to make kids excited about taking photos

how to get kids exited abut photos - three great tips that help me every time

“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.”— Aaron Siskind

I love taking photos of my kids – and just as Aaron Siskind I believe that it’s a way of loving, and capturing what you love forever! I believe in photographing the every-day life, the ordinary and the easily forgettable days. And I love how through photography we get to see the beauty in those fragile moments – moments that in the end consists the majority of our lives!

Because while faraway travels are for sure picture perfect, for me it’s in the everyday parenting moments that my happiness lays. And it’s these everyday adventures that I want to remember! Like the dimples in my four-year old cheeks when she smiles. The way my daughters cuddle my 8 month old pregnant belly. How they pick up flowers, and how they play together in our backyard during the long weekend.

Sometimes however my kids are not as exited about capturing the moment as I am. They don’t care for stopping for a second and showing me these dimples, because what they want is to play and seek their own magic!

But when I showed them the “magical camera” – aka instax SQ6 over the Victoria weekend as they called it, everything changed!

This post is brought to you by FUJIFILM, all opinions remain exclusively my own. how to get kids exited abut photos

It was a three-day long weekend that we have spent mostly around our home, with girls paying in the garden, eating ice cream on the patio, picking up the ” flowers” from our un-cut wild lawn and visiting a local tulip farm. Nothing spectacular in the eyes of many. But it was also the first warm and sunny weekend after the very long winter, a long weekend filled with their laughter, cuddles and simple pleasures. And I wanted to capture it all: the last Victoria day weekend before we turn form a family of four to a family of five.

And with the new instax SQ6 I did. The way it reveals the photo almost immediately after it’s taken – the way a blank canvas turns in to a perfectly squared photo magically captivated my kids attention!

We made portraits. And they smiled and gave me kisses. And asked for more and more magical photos!

And then when we visited the local tulip farm, they decided they want to be photographers too  – and with how easy it’s to use, I agreed.

how to get kids exited abut photos

how to get kids exited abut photos

how to get kids exited abut photos

how to get kids exited abut photos

how to get kids exited abut photos

And now when I look at all those perfectly squared memories from our Victoria day weekend I know for sure that I wouldn’t make it without introducing my kids to photography!

So here’s what you can do to make your kids exited about taking photos:

  1. Let them become the family photographer! I know it’s easier said than done, especially if you’re worried about them breaking your expensive camera, and that’s exactly why I found the easy to use instax SQ6 to be so perfect for introducing kids to photography!
  2. Capture the simple every day moments. Instead of trying to find that perfect exotic family activity to make family photos at, try making more photos during your regular life at home – I often find that these moments are the most beautiful anyway!
  3. Let them have fun, explore and take photos while they are in their element. It’s so much easier to capture a moment while your kids are having fun, then to tell them to smile and look like they are having fun while they are posing for a photo!

how to get kids exited abut photos

I couldn’t be happier with the memories we captured over the Victoria long weekend, and I’m so exited to see how my passion for photography starts to be in my kids interest too!

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!

This parenting thing

What's so important about parenting, and how do we make it work? Hers what you shouldn't never forget ! #parenting #motherhood

So before I had kids I was convinced that I know it all. I studied psychology for 5 years, I got a masteres degree, and so I should be just fine right? Well, wrong. It didn’t help me with baby not latching correctly, nor with a month of my baby having colics. It didn’t help me with toddler tantrums when they first appeared, and it didn’t help me with my babies not sleeping through the night. But that’s good. Because nobody can be really prepared for this parenting thing. We can know “stuff” but the essential comes along the way. It’s humbling, but also refreshing, because it means that there’s no one-right-way and we are all doing the best we can.

Though it doesn’t mean we can’t improve. Kids are little humans that’ll grow in to adults shaping our society, so it is important that we raise them with that in mind.

And here’s where a common misconception happens. Parents wanting the best for their kids future, will subscribe them to extracurricular activities starting at a very young age. They’ll subscribe them not to just one, but sometimes even three or four. They’ll drive them around from one sport to another. And then invest in educational toys.

But the very first need of little humans is growing the roots of belonging. That’s what we call attachment. The love between the caregiver and child, the trust and the connection. This is the base. And from this base our little humans can grow and develop.

So sacrificing this time for plenty of activities and a week composed of endless car drives might in the end result in adults not knowing where they belong, anxious and disconnected.

So what is the right way? I don’t think there’s one, but I think we should always ask ourselves if we’re responding to our kids primary needs: food and clothing are obvious, but attachment, the sense of belonging are nonetheless important. Because what good will the good grades, knowledge of languages and sports do, if they’ll end up disconnected and distanced?

There’s so many parenting advices out there, but most of them will come down to one simple thing: time and love. Love and time. Simple as that.

So keep on doing what you’re doing momma, just don’t let yourself get convinced that your child needs to do more, and have more. Because as long as you’re responding to their real needs, as long as you’re simply giving them your time and showing your love, it’s all good!

Why you should go camping with kids

Here are ten important reasons why it's so important to go camping with kids, even if you don't really feel like it !

Believe it or not, I’m no camping lover. I’m a city girl, who loves her comfort and hates bugs and public washrooms. Between you and me, my definition of perfect family vacation is in the hotel by the sea! Why then I state that you should go camping with kids ? Because I believe that sometimes comfort is less important, especially when it comes to raising smart and sensitive children! And going camping will help you achieving that goal, here is how :

1. Reconnecting with each other.
When there is no distraction like house to clean, emails to be checked or a tv show to watch, we can actually concentrate on each other. I think it’s especially important for our children, that are born in the internet era to learn how to slow down and appreciate the presence of the close ones.

2. Respecting the resources.
When you have to get the water for cooking and washing the dishes in a pot that you carry all the way to your camp site, it makes you more careful when you use it. You don’t waste water when you know you need to go get it yourself. It’s also a great opportunity to talk to older kids about how many people in the world live with out fresh water at home, and how many children are responsible for fetching the water every day.

3. Learning to play with anything that’s not a toy.
Honestly I was tempted to buy a bunch of dollar store toys to keep my two and a half year old busy. But I decided to take only 3 of her stuffed animals and see if I can encourage her to play with natural elements found on the camp site. And guess what. On the first day she was turning around not really sure what to do. On the second she was playing alone with sticks pretending that they are her dolls, and that rocks where the food. Success!

4. Understanding the nature.
It’s great to show to kids the real habitat of animals, to watch birds and bugs going on with there lives, to teach your child to respect them all. In national parks you are asked not to pick any branches or flowers, and that’s a great opportunity to explain the delicate balance in nature that we tend too often to break.

5. Fighting your fears.
The fear of the dark woods, the fear of spiders or the fear of bugs. By being exposed to all of the above your children are less likely to develop these fears, as they will consider them as a normal part if everyday life.

6. Learning a healthy lifestyle.
I assume that while at camping you don’t eat fast food, but you cook simple dishes and you walk or bike. There is no TV or video games. I dare you to leave your iPad at home. Hike and enjoy the nature. Let city kids learn to spend all day outside. It will pay back in the future.

7. Being grateful for what we have.
It’s great to realize how comfortable our life is.
At home we have hot water, we have heating, comfortable beds, toilets, toys and many objects that make our lives easier. But in the end we can do without all of the objects that surround us in our everyday lives. Camping is a great reminder of that.

How to raise a bilingual child

How to raise a bilingual child

My daughter is two and a half years old, and she talks a lot! She talks, sings, screams, laughs and cries. Constantly. She gets quiet only when she eats or sleeps. I guess she started to talk using three word sentences when she had 18 months, and everyone kept telling me how amazing it was that she can speak that well for her age. Back then she knew all the farm animals, she could name any food she eat, her actions, people in our family, her toys etc..

But I was just anxious that she would never speak well my language! Because when she was saying simple phrases in French, she would be just saying words in my language. You see, I live in French speaking place, with a lot of English surrounding us as well. But my first language is Polish, and that’s how I usually dream, think and talk to my children and cats. So I worried that she would never be able to express herself in Polish as she could in French. Because as it was only me that spoke to her in Polish on a daily basis, French was everywhere else!

Now she’s three and a half years old and she talks equally well in French and Polish. It’s been a struggle, and I know that my work is not done any time soon, but I am so happy to see as she switches from one to another translating to her grandma what I’ve just told her. Here is what I’ve been doing, and what I’ll keep on doing to raise my bilingual children :

1. There is an important association: one parent, one language.
What it means is that you should always use one language while talking to your child, and never, ever switch! Children are smart creatures, and most likely they choose the easiest and most efficient way to get what they need. So if it’s easier to speak one language than the other, they won’t try particularly hard to find the word they forgot. They’ll use whatever word that comes first to mind, and if you’ll start responding to them with the other language, they’ll see that they can get what they need (communication with you) without trying to speak your language. So while speaking to your child use only one language !

2. Talk constantly, describe what you do, what is happening around you, comment on there actions and name their feelings.
Children learn to speak by listening to conversations and being a part of an exchange. So if there isn’t much conversation around, you need to make up for it! You may get crazy, and in the end of the day you may loose your voice, but keep on talking while you cut these carrots!

3. Sing!
Singing helps to memorize grammar structure and vocabulary, so sing when you dress them up, sing when you go outside, sing when you clean and bath! If you are sick and tired of songs that you know try inventing songs and rimes, use simple melodies and sing!

4. Use creative grammar!
Switch from : I do, to mommy is doing, you are doing, he is doing, we are .. And so on.. If your children don’t hear a lot of real life conversations, they won’t learn how to use grammar. So not only you need to constantly talk, but you also need to do a lot of role playing!

5. Read a lot of books. Every day.
Start early, as soon as they get interested in objects and can sit still for 3 minutes. If you don’t have baby books in your language just take any, and translate them. Look online for children books and rimes, there are plenty!

6. As soon as they start talking, respond to their requests and questions only if expressed in your language.
It’s hard, and requires a lot of patience on your part, but it’s really the only way to teach them, that when communicating with mummy we use only this language. Of course if your child is crying in the middle of the night you won’t wait until they use the right words! But when my daughter would ask me for juice in French, I would ask her if she could repeat because I didn’t understand well. At first she would slowly repeat in French, then she would almost spell it for me also in French, sometimes two or three times! It’s hard to resist laughing when your child clearly thinks that you are stupid, but you should stay calm and not give in. I assure you that finally she would come up with a Polish word!

7. Make them repeat after you and give them ready to use phrases.
When I see that my daughter clearly has no clue how to put it in words in Polish, I give her a phrase to repeat after me. I tell her that when she wants juice she should say it like this. Or if she comes to me saying something in French I will repeat after her in Polish, and usually then she repeats after me.

8. Establish a clear rule on watching children’s show at home: only in the language that needs improvement.
There are plenty of all kinds of TV shows and cartoons on YouTube in all possible languages.

9. Let your child listen to real conversations :use Skype to connect with people that can speak your language, call your family on face time. Reconnect with old friends, and ask family members to call you and to baby sit through Skype while you are in the kitchen.

10. Engage in as many social situations possible. Try finding a grocery store, a weekend school or a shop where your child may engage in a conversation in your language. Find them playmates with whom they could communicate only using your language .

Most important, stay persistent, and it will pay of !

More information at multilingualchildren.

And if you’d like to find out more about living a bilingual life check out this great book:Bilingual: Life and Reality !