July 2013 archive

Annoying Behavior: Interrupting


Child:  “Knock knock!”

Parent:  “Who’s there?”

Child:  “Interrupting kid.”

Parent:  “Interrupting ki…”

Child:  “Moooooooom!”

Have you ever felt like you cannot ever finish a sentence with another adult without having one of your kids jumping in with, “Hey, Mom?”

This happened to me just last week… on several occasions… at the store, at a play date, at the post office, on the phone, while trying to talk to my husband… I just kept getting cut off!

By the end of the day, I was fuming.  There are only so many times you can hiss out of the corner  of your mouth, “Shhh… just a minute…” while simultaneously giving the “Mommy glare” while also simultaneously smiling and continuing your conversation with the bank teller.

Grrr!  My kids KNOW better!  Or do they?  I mean, I told them not to interrupt me the last time they interrupted me and then lectured them in the car until we arrived at our next destination where, sure enough, they interrupted my oh-so-important adult conversations yet again!  They KNOW better!  Right?

Well, do YOU?  Did you know that the car flying across the room was THE coolest thing to ever be witnessed by anyone on the face of this Earth?  Did you know that doing a spin-jump-kick is a feat that no other child has ever done before?  Did you know that one of your children is looking at his/her sibling???  Did you know that these things miraculously only happen when you are on the phone?  Did you?  Did you?  DID YOU?  Huh, Mom???  MOM???

There are several different Mommy reactions to these constant interruptions:

1. Ignore the child and talk louder.

2.  Mommy glare the child and apologize to the other adult for the child’s rude behavior.

3.  “Shhhhh… Mommy’s talking… go play…”

4.  Immediately stoop down, “What is is baby?” while cutting off the adult you are speaking to.

5.  Or the annoyed Mommy, “Whaaaaat, kid?”

I have not only witnessed all of these reactions, but am also guilty of  them.  I do not think that any of these are appropriate reactions to, “Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom…” but you know, in the moment, well, we’ve all been there…

When my children interrupt me it just drives me crazy, so since it drives me crazy, I decided to fix it!  ::cue “Bob the Builder” theme song::

My first year teaching, my mentor teacher gave me the best advice ever in regard to rules and procedures in the classroom, which has also been a staple in my parenting:  “If something doesn’t work… change it!”  Sounds simple enough, but how many times do we just put up with those annoying behaviors before working to fix the habit?


Why must my child interrupt me?

Your child sees something he/she knows that you do not see and immediately thinks, “Mom has to know about this!”  That is his or her very first thought.  No matter what Mom is doing, she needs to see this/take care of this/know about this.  At this young age, children do not know how to prioritize order of importance, so everything is equally super important:  shiny things, moving objects, Brother’s hair on fire…

How do I get my child to understand this behavior?

Define the behavior:  Interrupting means that someone starts talking before the other person is finished.

Role play:  Have your child begin to tell you a story and cut him/her off.  Then switch roles.

Explain why interrupting is wrong:  Interrupting is considered rude and disrespectful.  It is hard to finish a conversation after getting interrupted.

Good interruptions:  interrupting is allowed if there is an emergency.

How can we break the habit?

My son and I devised a secret code that has been working beautifully for the past week (so yes, we still have to see if it stands the test of time, but so far, so good)!  Whenever I am talking and my son HAS to tell me something, he comes and holds my hand.  I acknowledge that he is there to tell me something by squezing his hand back (giving him the positive affirmation and attention that he is seeking).  He knows that when there is a break in conversation, I will then address him.  If the other adult is still talking after a while, I periodically squeeze his hand again, and then stoop down to his level at the first appropriate break.  I explained to him that Mommy also has to be respectful in conversations.

James LOVES our “secret code” and other adults have noticed and complimented him on his patience.  He is proud when he remembers to come hold my hand and pastes a huge goofy grin on his face when I squeeze it back.

Of course I remind him about our secret code before running errands or arriving at a play date, but that 2 second reminder in addition to the time we took out to devise a new plan has broken that annoying habit of interrupting!

What behavior(s) or habit(s) would you like to change?  Do you have any clever tricks to fix annoying behaviors?

*Note:  I recommend only changing one small behavior at a time before working on another one.  Trying to change several behaviors at once can actually have the opposite effect, sending your kid into change overload!

Label Back-To-School Supplies

A friend of mine asked me if I made name labels to keep track of school supplies… well, I didn’t but I do now!  As a former teacher, I would have been grateful if parents would have used labels instead of a sharpie to personalize their child’s belongings or supplies and as a parent I am excited that this will save me time.

I like to edit these with a tracing font to get my little one to help!

Here are some examples… 

Pink Labels Picture

Tracing Labels Picture

Chevron Labels in 8 Colors

[Click HERE to become a member for just $5.00 and get unlimited access to ALL The Mommy Teacher Printables including this one!

Comment with thoughts, suggestions, what you might use the labels for, etc. 🙂


Those Dreaded Chores!

The endless job that everyone hates:  CHORES!  And boy oh boy, we mommies sure do have a lot of them!  So how about a little HELP around here??? Anyone?  Kids?

After a huge 6th birthday bash at my house, everyone (including me) wanted to run and hide at the mere mention of “clean up.”  The amount of work to be done was just incredibly overwhelming.  You know that feeling of “where do I even begin???”  We adults feel it, and kids do too.

I have been guilty of sending my children in to clean their own room after they have taken all of 2 seconds to destroy it while I was busy with my own chores.

Kids:  “Mooooom?  Can you just come help us?”

Me:  “As soon as I finish _____.  You guys start and I will come when I can…”

And then frustration sets in when, an hour later, I have finally finished sweeping, mopping, doing dishes, picking up the living room, doing laundry, and they have accomplished, well, destroying the room even more, the mess now spilling into the hallway.

Fortunately, today was not one of those days.   Today, I woke up with the mindset that WE (this includes the kids) were going to get things done around the house.  When my kids woke up, I told them that at 8:30 we were going to begin our chores.

Big Kid:  “But Moooom.  I want to play my new board gaaaaaame!!!”

Me:  “That is a GREAT idea!  That will be our reward for when we finish cleaning up!  Now, at 8:30, I want to see my Happy Helpers ready to work and when we get our chores done, we can play your new game!  You have one hour to eat breakfast and do whatever you want to do.  Timer starts:  NOW!”

Tip #1:  Kids react more positively when expectations have been established and there is an end goal in mind.  

In this instance, I have given my kids an opportunity to choose their own task for the next hour, knowing that when that time is up, they must then do what Mommy needs them to do.  My kids know that the term “Happy Helpers” means that I do not want any complaining when it is time to do chores; a positive attitude is expected.  They also have something to look forward to when chores are over, so they should work efficiently (haha that’s funny right there ;-).


Tip #2:  Make a checklist.  If it works for adults, it will work for kids too!

Just like Mommy and Daddy, kids also like to see which tasks have been accomplished and how many more are left.  They are like little versions of us or something. And BONUS:  they get to practice prioritizing, list making, fine motor skill development/handwriting (drawing check marks or lines through the chores that have been finished) and reading.

Here are some age-appropriate chores that we include on our checklist:

  • Sweep the floors.
  • Wipe the counters.
  • Tidy the living room.
  • Sort the laundry.
  • Fold the laundry.
  • Make the beds.
  • Pick up the toys.
  • Wash the windows.
  • Feed the dogs.

Tip #3:  Let them choose which task to do first.

As soon as 8:30 rolled around, I showed the kids the list of what needed to be accomplished.  “Oh, I want to wash the windows!”  “I want to wipe the counters!”  I gave one the Chlorox wipes and the other the Windex and let them go to town!  Letting them do their favorite chores first put them both into Happy Helper mode (which means Mommy stays in her Happy Helper mode too)!

Tip #4:  Simplify the task.

Laundry:  Write categories on index cards for your kids to sort the laundry into different piles.  That way, the piles are smaller when it comes time to fold them.



Give your kids their own pile to then sort again into “hanging clothes,” “clothes to fold,” “underwear,”  etc. and they can bring them to their rooms to put them away.

Sweeping the Floor:  take painters tape and mark out a square area for them to sweep debris into.  I normally don’t task my 6 and 3 year old with sweeping the entire floor, but if they have spilled, for example, dry cereal, I pull out the tape and give them a place to sweep it all into.  They find this incredibly fun for some reason.  Then I hold the dust pan for them while they sweep it in.




Picking up toys:  Look around and what specific toys do you have a bajillion of that are scattered around the room?  Legos?  Blocks?  Play food?  For my kids, it’s cars.  I tasked my 3 year old with the job of picking up all of the cars.  It’s like a giant, 3D seek-and-find book!  He had this giddy look on his face as he ran around the room searching for toys!

Notice how many bins I have on the shelf for other toys, but for the toys that we have the MOST of, it’s just one giant bin to throw them all into!  Easier for Mommy as well!

Tip #5:  Make a big chore seem smaller!

I like to take yarn or painters tape to rope off sections of the room so the boys can clean smaller areas at a time.  We start in one area and get it clean, then move to the next area, then the next until eventually the whole room is clean!  I mean, it’s easier for us Mommy Teachers to do that as well, right?  First we will clean one room, then move to the next room, then the next.  We have already mapped out our own grids in our heads, so give your kids a visual so they can learn to do the same!


One of my pet peeves is when I ask the boys to pick up a few items from the living room to bring to their bedroom and they pick up one toy at a time to carry across the house and place it just inside their doorway.  I mean, at least pick up two things, one for each hand!  So that leads me to:


Tip #6:  Fewer trips = faster cleanup.

I recently got the “duh” idea to give my kids either bags or baskets to fill so they can bring multiple toys to their room at once.  They race around the living room, fill their bags, run to their room and put the toys away (i.e. dump the toys on the floor).

Tip #6.5:  Do this chore BEFORE the kids clean their rooms.



Tip #7:  Let it slide!

Sure they missed a spot… sure there are streaks on the windows, but they worked hard, they got [most of] the job done, and we have way too many chores on our list for today to be picky, so just let it slide and praise them for being Happy Helpers.

Warning:  There WILL BE more messes, such as the water Leyson spilled that almost made Mommy face plant on the floor.  Just add it to the “to do” list (it never ends anyway).


And, sometimes when you send the 3 year old in to just clean his room, he may actually surprise you…



…until you look under the bed.

Updated 8/3/13:  Tip #8:  TURN UP THE MUSIC!

A little music gets everyone moving!


Please comment below with ideas and tips on how you handle chores with your kids!



Stickers… Love Them Or Leave Them?

My First Sticky Mosaics® Vehicles

I have a (semi) love-hate relationship with stickers.  My kids peel them off and stick them all over the place and I am unsure what their purpose is at times other than leaving residue on things they stick to.   Having said that, I have YOUNG children who don’t exactly keep track of small items or use things practically.

Sean Patrick got some cool toys at his birthday party this year, but I hid several of them because I wanted to use them sparingly.  When I pulled out this sticky mosaics activity last week, it turned out to be a real gem.

There were 5 different vehicles made up of different colored shapes, and he picked the helicopter.

photo 2

We decided early on to make it for his uncle who works for the US Aviation so it was really special to encourage him to finish so we could give it to his Uncle Nathan.

The best part is that we have been working on this a little every day ALL week and have only finished ONE vehicle template.   I have been waiting until Mckayla falls asleep because she likes to destroy Sean Patrick’s art projects so it has been super fun one-on-one time working with him on this project.

This is what happens when the 19 month old is around the stickers.

This is what happens when the 19 month old is around the stickers.

And here are just some of the things he has been practicing with this activity:

Fine motor skills – Strengthening his control and coordination in his hands in order to peel the stickers off their backing and to stick them carefully onto the outline of the shape.
Shape and Color identification   –  Identifying the shapes and colors needed in each part of the project.
Spatial Awareness – Turning the sticker until it covers up the whole shape.
Matching – Matching the accurate color and sticker to the individual outlines.
Visual Discrimination – After selecting a sticker, trying to find that particular colored shape “hidden” in the page.
Counting Practice -Counting how many more blue triangles you need to fill a space we were working on at the time.
One-to-One Correspondence – Having manipulate one sticker to one outline at a time took lots of discipline as well.

Daddy helped with the very last part of the project to complete the tail of the helicopter.  When he finished he was so proud and he asked “Now I get to work on another one?”  Well, that was an easy one to answer.

So proud!

So proud of himself for finishing 🙂

I seriously think I am going to order two more of these (one masculine and one feminine), stick them in the closet where I store my gift bags, and have a go-to present for the next birthday party we go to!

Here are the other ones they have on amazon:

I really love to hear from you…

Do dread having another sticker activity in your house?

Do you think your little one is at an age where he/she would enjoy this?

Do you know of any other sticker activities that are worth checking out?

Leave a comment here!

Bedtime Stories

bedtime stories

Sean Patrick is obsessed with my husband’s bedtime stories… and now I am obsessed with them, because he let me in on his secret.

My husband, Patrick, has been weaving subliminal messages into the imaginative night-time stories he tells Sean Patrick.

His stories about animals in forests or athletes on the field all have hidden messages in them that encourage patience, perseverance, integrity, problem solving, etc.  It’s genius!  Books always have morals and lessons so why shouldn’t our bedtime stories right?

Sean Patrick likes to be the main character in the stories we tell him; So, Patrick might tell him a baseball story where Sean Patrick is up to bat and misses but he doesn’t get upset or give up, he just tries again.

Or, an alligator might have Sean Patrick’s fishing pole so he has to wait until the alligator falls asleep to get it back like waiting until a friend is done with a toy before taking it back.

I have started to weave subliminal messages into my teaching tips too…

My recent story was about a boy named Sean Patrick who had the strongest alligator chomp (his pencil grasp) that he could chomp down on a wild crayon but the crayon could never break free from his super strength.   And when he would write letters they would come alive…. the letter S would slither off of the page like a snake and he would have to catch it with his alligator chomp before it could get away.

Can you tell we are letting our imaginations run wild over here?

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