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!

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?

How to find your self-care routine-tips for busy moms

I used to have a pretty good self-care routine. That is, before I had kids. I would take care of my body, and my mind, read tons of books, educate myself on cultural novelties, see friends regularly and even use a day cream, a night cream and an eye cream: daily!

As a busy mom you're always putting yourself last, but let's face it, you can't pour from an empty cup! Here are 7 great tips to help you find your self-care routine that works!

And here I am now. I know you’ve been there too: tired, without makeup for days, drinking cold coffee and feeling down. There’s always something to do, right? Lunches to prepare, babies to change, dishes to be done, laundry to fold and this last-minute family visit to prepare to. So forgetting about medical appointments, not seeing friends for months, not getting a real haircut and putting my self-care on hold is the norm, right?

That’s what I thought. But I can’t pour from an empty cup, and nor can you! It’s important to take some time for yourself, if only 10 minutes a day.

Because kids of happy moms are happier, kids of moms who take care of themselves will know how to take care of themselves in the future, and kids of moms who set their boundaries will know how to set ones for themselves too.

So it’s about time to find your self-care routine! To drink that coffee while it’s still warm, to let your hubby put the kids to sleep, and to go meet that friend that you were supposed to call two months ago!

It’s ok to take the time for yourself. And here are seven steps to help you with that:

1. Plan your day.

You don’t need a fancy calendar to start being intentional with your plans. Plan your whole day down on paper, including kids naps, meals, play time and your little break. Actually, while planning your day, make sure that you find time for yourself in it!

Tips for finding your self-care routine

2. Define your needs.
What is it that you used to do for yourself that you think you don’t have time for anymore? Well, find time. If only once a month, it’s still better than nothing!

Write down what you need daily, weekly and monthly to actually feel alive and well. Whether it’s the smallest things like a hot coffee, or a monthly girls night out, try making it happen.

3. Write down your dreams, and start calling them plans.

The only difference between a dream and a goal is a plan. So write down what is that you really want and what are the steps to achieve that. Then look at those steps, and divide them in to even smaller ones. And then add them to your day plan. By making what you really want happen, you’re taking care of yourself the way that nobody else can!

4. Keep your body fuelled.
I know you remember about your kids healthy snaks, but how about yours? Make yourself a real breakfast, snack on these cut in pieces fruits with your kids, and don’t skip meals! You’ll feel better, I promise.

Self-care routine

5. Mark the day in the calendar for some extra me-time.

Find a baby sitter, a family member or a friend and take some time off to do what you like doing, without kids!

6. Teach your kids to wait.

I know, as a mom of two, that kids are not very patient creatures. But give them a couple of days, and they’ll learn that mommy’s coffee break is not to be disturbed.

Self-care routine

7. Ask your hubby to help you with one task a day, and use that time for yourself and not for extra cleaning!.

It doesn’t have to be a big change, but if you don’t have the time to take a shower, or put makeup on, then it means you need help. And wasn’t it supposed to be in sickness and in health type of the deal? Well, consider it a good timing to test this one!

8. Once a month do something more fancy then usually- be it a pretty picnic, a dinner with candles or a spa 15 minute shower!

Sometimes it’s the little things that can make us more happy- and we don’t necessarily need to be all alone to make an everyday thing more fancy and pleasurable! Having lunch with kids on a pretty blanket in the backyard, reading a book ( if only a page a day!) while the kids are playing or taking 10 extra minutes to put on a face mask might make you feel more relaxed without necessary the need to plan some alone time!

I know it’s complicated to find some time for yourself and to plan your self-care routine. I know that it’s not easy to start focusing on your needs while living in the constant movement of a family life. But for the sake of your kids, and your sanity, it’s worth trying!

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. )

10 steps for a strees free holiday season

10 steps for a stress free holiday season

It’s this time of the year again. Some love it, some hate it, and some are simply stressed until it’s over. There are countless gifts to buy. The home to prepare. Activities to attend, social events to participate, food to be prepared, cookies to be baked, gifts to be wrapped and, let’s not forget,magical pin-worthy kids memories to create. Oh, and also, family tensions to handle.

I love the festive season, but sometimes it drains just too much energy out if me. In the end, it should be fun for everyone, including me, the home maker, right?

So this year I choose to concentrate in the things I can control, plan ahead the all tasks that absolutely need to be done, delegate whatever is possible, and let go the unrealistic expectations (including mine!). Here’s my plan, maybe you too will find it helpful :

1. Plan ahead.
Doing everything that can be done early and crossed off the list, is my number one rule for a stress free Christmas. Make a big batch of cookies and freeze them, get your gifts wrapped at store, and leave yourself some time to simply appreciate the season!

2. Christmas shopping? Ahead and online.
The sooner you start, the better. I love shopping online, shopping small, and having everything delivered at my doorstep!

3. Forget about extra magical Christmas this year.
Christmas time is magical for kids, because they are kids, everything is magical for them ! Spending time with family during Christmas, playing around the Christmas tree and unwrapping gifts, is really magical enough! Of course, if you have extra energy for the Elf-on-the-shelf, DIY Advent calendar, or 20 days of different homemade cookies, then go for it. But don’t feel obligated to do it all!

4. If you’re the lucky host, then make it a potluck.
No, you’re not obliged to cook alone for a crowd, yes you can ask for help! Prepare the main meal, and ask everyone to bring a side or a desert. You’ll be less stressed, and your family members will be happy to help.

5. Use your slow cooker.
Did you know you can make a cake in the slow cooker? Yes, it’s not only for stews and soups, for is purgation, have a look in here.

6. Use printables.
Are you out of gift tags, thank you cards or gift paper? Well, instead of heading to the store, turn on your printer and print them out! Here’s my Pinterest board full of Christmas printables!

7. Opt for easy DIY gifts.
No need to impress everyone with an impressive DIY project that’ll take all your fee time! Choose one or two projects that you feel confident with! Here’s another one of my Pinterest boards full of easy DIY gift ideas.

8. And even easier teacher/coworker gifts.
Do you need gifts for teachers, neighbours and coworkers? Buy a batch of your favourite coffee-place gift cards, and print out one of these printables. You can add a coffee cup if you feel extra nice.

9. Don’t stress over the things that are beyond your control.
A family member is upset about another family member? There’s no snow/ to much snow? Your DIY gifts are not as cute as on Pinterest? Your kids cry on Santa’s lap? Too bad. Non of that will be important in a month, a year, in 10 years.

10. Remember what’s it all about.
Christmas isn’t about gifts. Nor about perfection. Christmas is about slowing down, spending time with family and friends, and cherishing the moment.

I hope you’ll have a stress free, happy holiday season, and please let me know if you have any other tricks and tips for a stress free Christmas !