Zombie Blog Post - Eloise in Soft Toys

How Playing Zombies is Great for Kids

Zombie Blog Post - Zombie Sign

Kindy Zombie

The teacher at our local kindergarten sometimes turns into a zombie. At first, I was a little wary of her transforming into the undead on occasion. But after she reverted to her normal self and explained what the zombie game was all about, I thought it was too brilliant not to share.

Not only did she explain how the zombie game evolved, but no less than a dozen learning outcomes from it. Yes, learning outcomes from turning into a zombie. As I said: brilliant.

 

Screens

As parents, we are always trying to find ways to amuse our tiny humans. If your children are anything like mine, they have tons and tons of toys, books and games that just sit around gathering dust. More often than I would care to admit, a screen is placed in front of them.

This doesn’t sit well with how I would like to be as a parent. I don’t want to have lots of stuff, especially if it is not getting used. I don’t want my kids to be as addicted to a screen as I am to my phone. I want them to run around, be active, and if they are bored, to use their creativity and imagination to make up a game to play.

 

Screams

The zombie game is a no cost, active, screen-free game that not only kids love, but also actually helps their mental and physical development in a myriad of ways.

Here is how it goes down at the local kindy, but any variant in your household will make for a memorable game.

The kids request the teacher to play ‘Zombies’. Usually a start time is negotiated and the kids understand they will have to wait until after morning tea, for example. At the start of the game, the teacher drinks ‘Zombie juice’ (a cup of water) and when it is finished she is transformed into the undead. The teacher-zombie starts growling and crashing all over the play area and the children run squealing into hiding places.

If the zombie catches anyone, the child is grabbed and tumbled onto the big play mat. The zombie searches for its next victim and the last (gently) roughed up child runs off giggling, but slowly, as he usually wants the zombie to catch him. This goes on for a while until the Zombie Juice wears off. Then suddenly the kids turn into zombies and chase after the teacher and a bit of rough and tumble play occurs. If any of the kids look too scared the zombie doesn’t go near to them during the game.

 

How the Zombie Game Helps Kids

Other than the zero cost and no screens, there are many other benefits from playing a zombie game. Here are just some ways it helps kids:

  • Patience – kids have to wait until it is time for the zombie game to start
  • Imaginative Play – with no toys
  • Exercise – running around
  • Decision making – finding new and inventive places to hide
  • Becoming comfortable in their bodies – through rough and tumble play
  • Community – feel like part of a group as both ‘victims’ and ‘zombies’
  • Predictability – understand the start, middle and end of a game
  • Rules – learn the rules of a game
  • Risk taking – being daring in an appropriate and safe environment
  • Understanding status – gaining insight as to who is the zombie (and everything that entails) at different points in the game
  • Role playing – using make believe to role play
  • Confidence – through approaching the ‘scary’ zombie
  • Courage – for the kids who don’t want to play, some courage is gained from watching the game
  • And last, but definitely not least – FUN! Fun is the most important part of how young children learn.

 

Zombie Inspiration

Sometimes I do succeed in avoiding a screen solution. The zombie game has inspired me. We play hide and seek a lot. We think up different types of races we can compete in (hopping, crawling etc.). As it is winter here, making huts out of cushions, blankets and old towels in the lounge is a favorite game on these long, rainy days. Sometimes we grab one of the old towels off the hut, the kids lie down on it and I drag them up and down the hallway. We bury each other in a pile of soft toys. And sometimes, when the kids are least expecting it, I turn into a zombie.

I would love to hear about your no cost, screen-free games. Comment below.

Zombie Blog Post - Eloise in Soft Toys

 

 

Spectacularly Bad Parenting Advice Blog Post - Buffet

Spectacularly Bad Parenting Advice

Spectacularly Bad Parenting Advice Blog Post - Buffet

Buffet Parenting

The amount of spectacularly bad parenting advice out there is astonishing. When I was pregnant with my first child and then a mother of a tiny baby, I would carefully gobble up any morsel of parenting advice. A lot of the time, I would greedily devour most of what I read or was told as I was mostly floundering in bewilderment and needed all the help I could get.

Now, five years on, I am not as judicious. I readily dismiss opinion masquerading as fact, parenting articles that exude too much confidence, and advice that is, quite simply, terrible.

This is actually an essential part of the parenting journey. Rejecting the vast majority of parenting advice attunes you to what is right and essential for your family. If you don’t hone this skill you will sink in a sort of guidance quicksand, overwhelmed with conflicting and confusing advice.

Of course, some recommendations are excellent and I still love reading the odd parenting manual. Now I know when to apply it and when to laugh at it. Here are three types of advice I especially dislike…

 

The Impossible

Spectacularly bad parenting advice includes instructions that are impossible to follow, as they are too general. For instance, that you should only have a handful of rules for your kids, such as don’t hurt other people or things. Period. This is supposed to be helpful as it is less to remember but sweeping policy like this goes out the window when you find your toddler jumping on your bed with muddy shoes on. Which rule have they broken? The answer is who cares! JUST GET OFF THE BED!

Sometimes what you are told is impossible due to its impracticality. ‘Show integrity to your kids at all times’ sounds great in theory, but I don’t return the supermarket trolley to the right place if it is raining, and I certainly don’t floss every night, so that advice loses its credibility as soon as it is uttered.

Once you work out and embrace who you are as a parent, some advice, although sound, is impossible to adhere to. I am unapologetically a ‘helicopter’ parent. This is purported as bad but I don’t care. I would rather hover and jump in when needed than step away and not be there to catch them when they fall.

 

My Way or the Highway

Another subset of spectacularly bad parenting advice is in the form of ‘this is the ONLY method or the BEST way. I don’t know about you, but if someone tells me that what I am doing is wrong, then I will dig my heels in and firmly maintain my position.

There is almost nothing in raising children that could be considered the only, right way and thinking there is only creates a lot of guilt. I think some of this guilt stems from the fact that what may be good for our situation – using disposable diapers for instance – may not be good for the world at large.

The next time someone tells you something that starts with ‘you must’ or ‘the best way is’ ignore it straight away. Crying, sleeping, feeding, carrying, disciplining and playing all have a myriad of good options. Choose one you like. Change it as required. Try not to feel too guilty.

 

Good Enough Parenting

The last item of spectacularly bad parenting advice is that good enough parenting, is, well, good enough. I know that this advice is supposed to help busy, tired, stressed out parents feel better. But we are all busy, tired and stressed on a daily basis! Sure, sometimes ‘good enough’ is fine, but we need to try and live to a higher standard. My fear is that ‘good enough parenting’ will become the norm all of the time.

I want my kids to be great, strive to be the best they can be, fail and get back up and then grow some more and contribute to the world. I want them to be remarkable, courageous, resilient. And to do that, I can’t be merely ‘good enough’. I need to push myself to be great person AND parent. After all, how will my children reach their potential if they don’t see me trying to reach mine?

Good enough parenting is the bottom rung of the ladder, it is treading water, it is only getting to the half way line. It is an excuse. A story we tell ourselves that allows us to live in our comfort zone when inside all of us is a desire to be amazing.

How this looks will be different for all of us, but we all know deep down when we reside in ‘good enough’. Yes, pushing ourselves is exhausting, but it is the good type of tired where we have used our strengths reach for the stars and maybe, just maybe, touched the moon instead.

 

Fine Dining Parenting

Having kids has given me a huge gift of knowing myself better as a parent and a person. I can now easily discern when parenting advice resonates with me and when it is spectacularly bad. You may or may not agree with me on the above points, but that you have a strong opinion about what is right for you and your family is what is important. Now, taking parenting advice becomes more like fine dining than eating at a buffet.

Spectacularly Bad Parenting Advice Blog Post - Fine Dining

 

You Know You Have a Toddler When Blog Post - Eloise 2nd Birthday

You Know You Have a Toddler When You Say These Things

You Know You Have a Toddler When Blog Post - Eloise 2nd Birthday

Happy 2nd Birthday, Eloise

“Eloise, please, for the last time, get your head out of the toilet.”

As soon as the words are out of my mouth, I realise my baby daughter has grown up. I now have a toddler. This new stage in Eloise’s development means many things for me as a parent.

It means toilet training, hence the sentence above.

It means Eloise now spends some of the week in childcare.

And most importantly, it means uttering bizarre sentences that have probably never before been spoken in the history of humankind.

Our beautiful daughter Eloise turned two this month. A milestone for her and a celebration for our little family. For the world this means the English language will be collated together in sentences that are both innovative and eccentric.

 

Don’ts

I know this to be the case, as when Dylan was a toddler, I had to say some ridiculous things. Mostly in the form of commands to stop him doing something that as a grown-up I wouldn’t have thought of doing in a million years.

For example:

  • Don’t pick your nose with the Minion toy
  • Don’t stick the bean into your croissant
  • Don’t do yoga in the shower
  • Don’t dance on the toilet seat
  • Don’t bring the deckchair into the bathroom

At least I do not feel completely alone in all this. A friend of mine said she had to tell her young boys to “stop licking the TV”.

 

Just a Phase?

I am not saying such surreal things to Dylan as much any more, so I thought that this original take on language construction might only last the toddler years with Eloise. I do find it interesting but it is also a bit exhausting and will be glad when this phase is over.

However, I have found out these weird sentences may continue to produced with older children, even if only occasionally. This story is from another friend who was in the middle of telling her school-aged daughter off for something inexplicably strange, but was corrected:

‘Went to the supermarket with the kids and was looking at bread rolls in the bakery section. I turn around and Lucy is head butting the lamingtons!

“Don’t head-butt the lamingtons, Lucy!” I growl at her in an urgent stage whisper.

Lucy looks offended and somewhat haughtily returns, “I was NOT head butting them, I was kissing them. I LOVE lamingtons!”’

 

Does anyone have a similar story? I would love to hear them. Please share in the comments below.

You Know You Have a Toddler When Blog Post - Lamingtons
Lamingtons

 

 

Parenting Clichés are SO Irritating!

Parenting Cliches Blog Post - Baby Dylan

The Days are Long But the Years are Short

Tomorrow, my gorgeous son Dylan will turn five years old. Where have the past five years gone? He has grown up before my eyes. I can’t believe how fast time has flown. I can’t believe my first-born baby is five years old already. I can’t believe I am stating all the parenting clichés to explain my incredulity at how fast time seems to pass.

Aren’t parenting clichés annoying? Lets take a look at some of these old chestnuts. Then tell me if you don’t find them irritating. And true. And irritating because they are true.

 

The ‘Life Will Never Be the Same’ Cliché

When you are about to have a baby you get a lot of statements along the lines that ‘life will never be the same again’. Well no shizzle, Sherlock, another entire human being is going to enter this world. Then somehow I will have to keep him or her fed, warm and dry. That is epitome of a description of a life that is about to change.

When baby arrives, you get on the cliché bandwagon and state the obvious like ‘I can’t imagine life without him’, or the slightly more surprising observation ‘It is like she has always been here’. Thus perpetuating the ‘life will never be the same’ cliché.

Before baby arrives, and you get told that you life is likely to change, it is often followed up with some advice along the lines of ‘do stuff now that you won’t do with a baby’ – like travel or go to a movie or sleep.

Gah, irritating advice clichés – lets tackle these next.

 

Unhelpful Advice Clichés

‘There is never a right time to have a baby’. Whoa that is a real zinger that one. What am I supposed to do with that? What am I supposed to do with that when told it while I am trying to get pregnant? What am I supposed to do with that when I am eight and half months pregnant?

‘Parenting is the hardest job in the world’. Oh really. I had no idea. I thought I signed up to sunbathing and cocktails at the pool every day when I pushed two babies out of my body.

‘You have to work on your marriage’. What does this even mean?

And my personal favorite, in terms of most irritating and clichéd advice: ‘Sleep when the baby sleeps’. That is dependent on a number of factors like is there dinner to be made, washing to hang out, shopping to do, Facebook to catch up on, or simply whether I feel too frazzled to rest. It assumes that the baby sleeps quietly or for periods longer than ten minutes or in his own cot and not on me. It assumes the baby sleeps.

Does anyone in the whole world get his or her baby to sleep and immediately fall into instant slumber? ‘Sleep when the baby sleeps’ should be banished, relegated to a far off land of outdated clichés like ‘a woman’s place is in the home’. Never. Uttered. Again.

 

Simplicity is Key

So if clichés about time, change and advice are all unwarranted and irritating, where does that leave us? What parenting clichés can we still find an ounce of wisdom in?

Take kids birthday stressors. When I am looking at Lego sets for birthday presents and trying to remember which ones Dylan doesn’t already own, or working out how much snack food we will need for the birthday party or worrying if we bought enough balloons, then remembering this parenting cliché often helps: ‘Its the simple things in life that matter’. He is my son, I am his Mama, I love him. Not much else matters, except maybe cake.

So to my darling, delightful, dazzling boy, Dylan, happy fifth birthday. It is so clichéd, but that is what makes it true – I love you to the moon and back and always will.

 

Parenting Cliches Blog Post - Nearly Five Dylan