Monthly Archives: October 2015

It’s not Halloween yet

It’s not Halloween yet” – those words out of the mouth of a young toddler have resonated with me all week.

They were whispered to her mom when the two of them arrived at The Parenting Place Costume-a-rama fun night on Tuesday.  When her mom suggested a few different activities she might want to do, this young purist repeated, “It’s not Halloween yet“.

The truth is – I totally get what this little girl means.

It really wasn’t Halloween yet!

When I was growing up, Halloween activities were one day only – October 31st and that was that.  The anticipation and suspense grew and grew weeks before – until the magical day arrived – a tour of treats, funny, spooky costumes, trick or treating in the neighborhood, trading candies once you got home, a late-to-bed night.

And the next day – the next day it was over, gone until another year.

Nowadays, that’s not the case.  I bet I could cite at least ten local events before Halloween and probably ten more on Halloween that offer fun activities for children.

How’s a parent to choose?

Choose – that’s the operative word here.  We can and do get to decide which event best fits our child, his age, her interests, their personality, our family.

Often a parent will share with me that they feel compelled to show up for every event in the area – so as not to deprive their child from any experience.

I’m suggesting just the opposite.  Pick and choose – you know your child, trust your instincts, don’t be swayed by hype/friends/family.  Build on tradition and ritual in your own family way.  Your children will count on it, remember it, cherish it.

“It’s not Halloween yet” repeated by the little toddler girl – was her own way of preserving her true expectations of what her personal Halloween is and would be for Halloween day.

Sounds like a plan for all of us.

P.S.  This little one did actually enjoy this pre-Halloween fest – knowing full well “It’s not Halloween yet”.

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You’ve heard that play is a child’s work.  But I’m here to remind you that work can also be a child’s play.

As parents, we often separate and stress about all the activities we need to get done versus all the “fun activities ” we also need to squeeze in to busy schedules to entertain the kids.

But I started to think about this as I was shopping this weekend at the supermarket.  I noticed children from practically every age group engaged in “helping” to fill the basket, to push the cart, to squeeze the avocados, run for the milk, grab the cereal box, remind about needing to buy the cake mix. These children were busy, engaged and enjoying themselves.

So think about it.

When we take our children’s help seriously, when their competence is valued, our work gets done, our “together time” improves, our accomplishments are shared, and family “jokes” and memories are naturally created.  No age is too young to be included. And starting young is best.

Actually Fall is the perfect time to begin.  There’s often a lot to do – window cleaning, raking leaves, organizing the garage, getting bikes ready to store for the winter, flower pots and garden to put to rest, closets to attack, car to wash, snow blower to check out, rooms to vacuum and dust, Halloween decorations to put up – working together.

Oh, I realize it might seem like twice the work for parents to consider, yet offering these opportunities to your child to partner together, to be part of a solution has so many advantages. It’s how children begin to understand and assimilate their own identity and place in their family, their role and significance in it.

So – think about it.

Work and play – it’s a family thing.

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can we go

A five-year-old boy overhearing his mom and me talking about the upcoming “COSTUME-A-RAMA” at The Parenting Place whirled his head around and exclaimed, “COSTUME-A-RAMA? What does that mean?” and then, “Can we go?”

Phew! That was enough for me – to know that I was on the right track for this one!

For in the pure spirit of hands-on–play experienced at all of our fun nights at The Parenting Place, the COSTUME-A-RAMA won’t disappoint.

When I was little and Halloween came along, kids used to dig around in closets and trunks and attics to see what kind of costume they might come up with.  The search was part of the fun – the trying on – the trading with a friend – the thrill of discovery.

So – as I told my 5-year-old friend,  that’s one of the things that will happen at the COSTUME-A-RAMA – finding/creating a costume to dress up in for the night.

Of course that’s only a part of the evening’s fun.  There will be “stuff” to eat, bubbling brews to create,  spooky art to make, secrets to find out – only if you come.

So – watch outbe careful parents – if your child hears you talking about The Parenting Place COSTUME-A-RAMA, they just might want to know “what does that mean?”  and then “can we go?”

The Parenting Place COSTUME-A-RAMA is on Tuesday, October 20th from 5:30 PM-7:00 PM at The Parenting Place, La Crosse.  Registration is required – just call 784-8125 to register or go to our website for on-line registering.   It’s coming up soon, so get your registrations in ASAP and bring the family.  Of course, as in all of our programs, there is no fee – just fun!


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so simple

Have you ever gone to a children’s resale store and seen the mountains of plastic toys for sale?

I mean mountains!

I was in one this weekend.


What can we learn from that?

Each of those toys at one time belonged to some child first – but my guess is it was not a favorite – not special – not beloved – not cherished -not a keeper – but, instead, disposable.

I know parents often tell me how their child has every kind of toy to play with at home but doesn’t play with any of them and says he’s bored.

Hmmm – what does that say for our choice of toys we give to our children?

It can be so simple too. For children, from babies to school aged are most deeply engaged by toys that aren’t toys at all.

You know what I mean.

  • Toddlers love kitchen “stuff”- unbreakable bowls, cups, whisks, spatulas, jar lids, and so on.  Create a cupboard especially for your child to store their  real items – occasionally throw in a different one to discover, to explore.  Perfect for experiencing, analyzing, and assimilating the things they see used around them – on their own time, in their own way.
  • Pretend dress-up clothes (real ones) like hats, shoes, jewelry, purses, ties, dresses, scarves, vests, shirts – a total go-to-choice for dramatic play from little ones through grade school.
  • You can’t have too many art materials available, and many of them will come from the “junk box” all families should have.  Throw away your paper towel rolls, your empty cracker boxes, your coffee can lids? Really?  Get a bin to hold these treasures and add some paint, crayons, glue, scotch tape, duct tape, different types of paper, cardboard, boxes,  wood, scissors, and a  space to work at.   And remember, kids don’t care if their creation looks polished or even resembles what they say it does (as long as they think it does).  It’ all about process and process is the satisfying part.
  • “Office items” are also very appealing to children.  And why not?  Your discarded junk mail is real to them, note pads and pencils, file folders and envelopes – all add up to “working” at play.
  • There are some “prop” toys out there that can support and encourage dramatic play – like blocks, a doctor’s kit a cash register with pretend money, a play stove,  cars and trucks, a wagon, ride-on toys.
  • And  we can’t forget sensory materials – a plastic storage bin with cover is all you need.  Add a sensory material like rice, macaroni, beans – then throw in a few scoops and cups and plastic jars and let your child explore.  Another sensory experience is  play dough (easy recipes on line)  Add some natural materials like sticks and feathers, stones and shells for relaxing play.
  • Last but certainly not least are books.  Stories to hear, pictures to ponder, songs to sing, connections and memories to cherish.

This is the  time of year when thoughts and anxieties of the upcoming gift season and what to buy for the children on your list begin.

Let this year be different.  Relax, think simple, think natural. Think childlike.

Deliver those other toys that sit unused and cluttering your space to the nearest resale store.

And offer your child the chance to imagine,  to create, to think, to play in their own personal way.

So simple.

If you would like some suggestions on ways to engage the age/interest of your child, give me a call at The Parenting Place – 784-8125.  I love to talk about play.

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