|Big Sister and Brother having fun with a bucket of water.|
Sometimes when my kids are driving me crazy and I just can't get us on track and nobody is getting along and somebody is crying or fighting or all of the above, I have to remind myself that there are two things I can do that will turn the situation around nearly every single time. They are:
1) Take The Kids Outside, or
2) Put The Kids In Water
Taking the kids outside solves at least 50% of the problem behaviors that were happening indoors. Talking too loud, being too rowdy, kicking balls, jumping off of things, running, yelling, and climbing are all perfectly acceptable behaviors outdoors but drive me crazy indoors. Siblings who are fighting indoors can often be taken outdoors where they find something different to do and forget about fighting. A change of scenery is just as important to my own mental health. Even if my kids continue a difficult behavior after we have gone outside I often find that some fresh air and open space help me to feel less trapped by it.
Sometimes when we are struggling I do both things at once: I take the kids outside and put them in water. The water can be a plastic kiddie pool, a sprinkler, or even just a hose in the sandbox (they can spend HOURS with a hose in the sandbox). When my older two were smaller they invented a game they called Bombets. For Bombets the kids would slide down a plastic slide into the inflatable kiddie pool while I sprayed them in the face with a garden hose. Seriously, I would just sit in a lawn chair with the hose and blast away. They loved it and it saved us from the sweat-soaked monotony of many a summer afternoon.
Even if you don't have access to a little pool or a hose, a kid can really have some fun with a bucket of water. Especially if you also hand the child a few empty cups or containers to pour with. They'll make "soup" in no time. And don't forget mud! Where there is water there is mud and remember: mud is okay. Mud never hurt anyone (at least not in my backyard). I'm a believer in letting kids play with mud..
|Bombets in action|
|Toddler + Sprinkler = A Good Time|
If it is winter time and too cold to take the kids outside, putting them in the bathtub can help break up a problem, too. I have occasionally put my little kids in the bathtub to play in the middle of the day just because they needed a good distraction. Little ones who are tired and grumpy (often because of a missed nap) sometimes feel better after they get in the bath and play by themselves for a while.
Now that I think about it, both of these tips (going outside, getting in water) work pretty well for adults, too. I get pretty cagey if I stay inside too long. I feel better if I go outside for awhile, even if it's just a quick trip out to empty the compost bucket and catch my breath after dinner.