Family life is so unpredictable, isn't it?
My granddaughters were visiting for the week and we'd enjoyed a great day at the beach. Dinner plates were piled in the sink and I'd just finished reading the next exciting chapter of The Pet that Never Was. Koti had headed to the bathroom for the final time for the evening, I hoped, when I heard her frightened call..
I raced to the bathroom and found her crouched on the floor, a fountain of water spouting skywards from the tap. There were some frantic moments, let me tell you, as we tried to stem the flood.
When, finally, calm was restored and I settled the girls again for bed Koti was still stressed and upset.
"It was all my fault, Nannie," she sobbed.
"That's not true, honey. It could have happened to anyone."
"Yes, but it happened to me!" I talked with her for some time and told her I was very proud of her.
I reminded her of how calm and helpful she had been. But she was still upset.
So... I smiled and told her how thankful I was that she had run so fast to get Jacob, her cousin. He had arrived like a hurricane with a big armload of towels and had jumped in to help. I laughed and reminded her how the water had sprayed up to the ceiling and then splashed on his head. He had looked so surprised.... and so wet! She smiled, too. And then she mentioned something else that had happened.. something that was funny now, in retrospect. Soon she relaxed and we were laughing and talking about our wet adventure.
The importance of laughter
'Laughter gives us distance. It allows us to step back from an event, deal with it and then move on.' - Bob Newhart
Laughter has the ability to brighten your mood, lower your blood pressure, reduce stress levels, boost your immune system and so much more. Plus, laughter causes your brain to produce more endorphins, which are neuro-transmitters that ease pain.
Certainly, one of God's most precious gifts is the gift of laughter.
'A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.'– Proverbs 17:22, NIV
Dr Caroline Leaf states, 'Having fun is one of the most powerful antidotes to stress you will ever find. And it's free.'
And you can embrace the gift of laughter with your family when you…
Watch funny videos.
Use a website like YouTube or GodTube to find funny videos. You may want to look up search phrases like ‘babies laughing’ or ‘puppies playing’.
If you like comedians, look up Ken Davis, Tim Hawkins or Bob Smiley. These are Christian comedians that keep their routines clean and family-friendly.
Put on a funny song and dance.
Don’t be afraid to do your biggest, silliest dance. Your kids will love to join you.
Some songs that will make you want to dance along include Can’t Stop the Feeling by Justin Timberlake, Happy by Pharrell Williams, Something Just Like This by The Chainsmokers & Coldplay.
Let your inner kid out.
Do something that reminds you of being a kid. Run through a sprinkler, splash in a puddle, jump in a pile of leaves, or build a snowman. And your own kids will love doing it with you!
Create some amazing family memories. Enjoy some simple moments that matter. Include laughter in your daily life and make it a family priority.
Do you know how to create a regular storybook time with your kids or grandkids that will have them demanding more?
Reading provides so many more benefits than just a time-filler before bed. And it can be so much fun if you do it right! Not only will you help create wonderful family memories, your kids will develop a delight of books and reading. But there are plenty of other benefits, too.
So... why is it important to read to kids?
You may think it's just something that you do at bedtime when your kids are small. Or maybe, you're thinking that it's something that teachers will do with your children so you can just forget about this activity as your kids get older.
Reading to your kids, at any age, has so many benefits; in fact, reading will help children:
And, don't stop as your children grow. It's still important and something they will continue to enjoy as you share books, reading and adventures with them. You'd be surprised how a regular reading time creates one of those amazing 'moments that matter' activities that your kids or grandkids will remember and treasure.
But you may be worried about how to do this storybook time, or how to make it interesting for them.?
How can I improve my reading aloud to my kids?
Let's run through some simple ideas as we look at Fearless, by Colin Thompson; a wonderful book for kids 4 years and up. You can find a small intro clip for Fearless below.
Choose a good book. In this case, it's Fearless; but find something that will appeal to the age and interests of your kids.It should be fun, and you should enjoy it. Remember, if you're enjoying it, so will your kids. Books are usually displayed in libraries or bookstores according to age groups so that will help with selecting something suitable.
Read it through a few times before you read aloud to your kids. If you're planning to do some activities after reading, prepare your resources beforehand. The book, Fearless, deals with emotions and in particular, fear. Print off the free emotions cards below to use during and after your reading time.
Make sure everyone is comfortable. You might decide to set up a special reading area, and that's great, but it's not essential. You can read on the lounge, on the bed, toss some beanbags on the floor and read there... whatever works for you. If you're reading to little ones, they need to see the book. They will probably want to sit on your lap or lean against you. Remember, as they watch you read the book, they are learning important aspects of reading: books are read from left to right, the printed words correlate to spoken words, pictures provide context clues and more.
Display the cover of your book and discuss what the kids think it might be about.
Read the book more slowly than you would normally speak. Add expression as you read: lower your volume for scary parts or when the character is being careful, whisper when a character is trying to hide, smile while you're reading fun parts (listeners will hear it in your voice), use different voices for different characters etc.
Gauge the content you read for the listeners. In other words, you can leave things out. The book, Fearless, has a couple of pages with a lot of text. For smaller children, I'd probably skip some of the sentences and just read the important ones.
You can stop and ask questions while you're reading if you think something needs clarification. For instance, you might ask, "How do you know that Fearless was happy?" "What was making Fearless scared?"
You'll probably find that you'll be asked to read it again, as soon as you finish. That's fine! But first, spread out the emotions cards and talk about the different feelings. Ask your kids about times when they have felt sad, happy or scared.
Now this time, as you read the story of Fearless, ask your kids to locate and hold up the emotion pictures that show how Fearless or the family might have been feeling. (You can reuse this activity and cads for other books, too.)
Now, ask if any of your kids would like to read the story. Don't worry if they can't read, yet. Show the pictures and they can tell you what was happening in the story. It will be a simple paraphrase, but that's fine. It's a great way to develop a grasp of story sequencing.
Finish with a game of memory with the emotions cards.
On their own
The book, Fearless, also deals with the importance of names. Fearless seems to be an inappropriate name at the start of the story but he lives up to his name at the end... sort of.
Use this book to talk about names, and why each child was given their particular name and what it means. There are plenty of activities listed below that encourage kids to learn about names, letters and how to write their own name. Choose a couple of these activities for your kids to work on themselves.
So now, you're a pro. You have the skills to create wonderful moments that matter at bedtime or whenever you choose to schedule regular reading time with kids. And... you'll be setting up your kids for a life-long love of reading and learning. Jacqueline Kennedy once commented: 'There are many little ways to enlarge your child's world. Love of books is the best of all.'
You also might like to download the FREE GUIDE- Early Reader Essentials from ReadBrightly.
For more creative family ideas, get your free access to At Grandma's Place library below.
Anne specialises in helping you create moments that matter for you and your family.
Grab more simple family ideas and resources now.
Originally posted June 2014 and updated July 2017
Sunshine, warmth, blue skies... beautiful weather for fun in the outdoors. Enjoying the outdoors with kids doesn't have to be a daunting all-day activity. But sometimes it's difficult to encourage the kids outside and away from the screens. Or maybe you're looking for inspiration for handling those "I'm bored!" complaints.
What you need is something that will turn outdoor activities into an adventure.
Encourage even the most reticent nature walker outdoors with the thrill of a nature scavenger hunt.
It won't take much preparation time for you but will definitely provide loads of fun for your grandkids.
Start with a scavenger hunt list. You can always create your own but why reinvent the wheel when there are great ideas already done for you?
Make a list
Take this list from Chrissy Taylor, for example. Print the list, laminate it for durability and so that you can reuse it. If you have small children, your list might have to be in picture-form.
Ideas for pre-readers
If you do have pre-readers, there are plenty of options and ideas readily available. It's a wonderful way to explore the senses and encourage them to locate things that feel or smell. Check out this scavenger hunt for little ones- it includes a simple printable list to download and use.
Teams or individuals
Decide whether to run your scavenger hunt as a team contest or individuals. This will probably be determined by the number of kids you have and whether they've included their friends.
Don't forget the prizes
These don't need to be difficult or costly but, since most kids are fiercely competitive, it will add another level of excitement if they're striving for the prize at the end of the hunt. Don't forget consolation prizes for those who miss out.. especially with little ones.
It's also a good finish to any scavenger hunt if you conclude with a special snack or treat. Something as simple as an ice-cream for everyone to conclude the scavenger hunt can turn a fun adventure into a memory-making event, a simple moment that matters.
Leaf shape scavenger hunt
A simple option for younger ones, is something like a leaf shape hunt. Give each child a list of leaf shapes to look for and a bag to collect the leaves in once they find them. Design your own checklist of leaf shapes or download a ready-made one.
Try a photo scavenger hunt
If your kids are older and complain, "Oh, we've done this," be ready for them. Hand out a photo adventure scavenger hunt. Not only do they have to find the item on the list but take a photo. It's amazing how the addition of a camera or smartphone can change the interest level from ho-hum to extreme.
Alphabet Photo Scavenger Hunt
How about an Alphabet Photo Scavenger hunt? It's nice and easy. The kids will need to find and photograph items for all the letters of the alphabet, or as many as they can find.
Backyard, beach or bush
Your scavenger hunt can be held in your own backyard, at the beach, at a park or, if you're very adventurous, you could take them all for a bushwalk.
Hand each child: a bag to collect the found items, the laminated list, a whiteboard marker (use on the laminated list) and a rations pack. (They're always hungry and a trail mix should keep them happy. Don't forget some water.)
The fun needn't end once you're home again. Create a beautiful nature light with the kids as a colourful reminder of your day out in the great outdoors.
Create a nature light
* glass jar or container
* small battery operated tea light
* items collected from your scavenger hunt and walk
* small stickers
1. Carefully arrange all the items from your adventures outdoors in the glass jar.
2. Nestle the tea light amongst the items in the jar.
3. Add some small stickers or decorative tape to the outside of the glass container... and you're done.
The nature light jar looks equally attractive whether it's filled with leaves, pebbles, sticks and flowers or with items from the beach- shells, sand, seaweed and driftwood.
Use the day's activities to generate some discussion and to talk about God's creation, made for us to enjoy.
And, every time you or the kids look at the nature light, they'll remember the fun adventure you all had together as a family.
Seriously.... it helps a lot with the growth of this blog.
I know most people don't share because they feel that we bloggers don't need their 'tiny' share. But believe me... you matter! Each and every reader is important and appreciated.
I've built this blog piece by piece, one small share at a time. So thank you so much for your support.
'Presentation is Everything.'
Do you have family visiting for Easter? Whether you're planning your Easter celebrations for just your own immediate family or an extended gathering of friends and family, a beautiful table arrangement really sets the scene for a perfect Easter celebration.
Now, this can be daunting consideration. But, don't feel you need to spend hours preparing a lovely display. I've found a collection of ideas, from a simple minimal approach to an amazing table overflowing with delight.
You may have decided to go with a separate table for the kids. That's fine. I've got that covered, too. So, just click through the images and find the table creation that appeals to you and your needs. There is a link on each image to the original and the instructions.
And remember, you can add to or simplify the original concept or substitute items where necessary.
Just as an example, this Easter arrangement took minutes to prepare.
STEP 1. Buy an Easter wreath. Yes, you can make your own but I didn't have time and you can find them everywhere.
STEP 2. Place the wreath in the centre of the table.
STEP 3. Add a floral arrangement to the centre of the wreath, or an apothecary jar filled with eggs. (You can buy a floral arrangement or make your own.)
And that's it! Done. Simple.
Check out the other beautiful and creative ideas below.
There are many other ideas from truly creative people, and I gathered some to show you, that will inspire you and provide some simple, yet beautiful solutions. From fun-filled kids' table arrangements to elegant designs to outdoor dining ideas, you'll find something in the following collection that, I'm sure, will help you create your own Easter table arrangement.
And... as an added bonus, why not plan to include Easter themed table serviettes.
You'll find links to the instruction below.
If you're looking for other Easter ideas and inspiration, the check out my Easter Pinterest board. Are you planning an Easter Egg Hunt? Here are some tips. And if you'd like an Easter that allowed you time to focus on what really matters, download my free book below, Stress-Free Easter.
One of the most fun things to do with children during school holidays is a picnic.
If the weather is good, not only can you put together a basket with the perfect fluffy blanket, but you can get the kids involved in all the preparations. This will then elevate your standard picnic to a Teddy Bears’ Picnic, and that is simple fun that gets everyone together.
You don’t have to lay on a whole party, though, even though the Teddy Bears’ picnic is a popular birthday party theme. Inviting a few neighbourhood friends or school friends over the holidays can be so much fun!
Lazy summer days full of sunshine and dandelion clocks are the perfect time to have your first Teddy Bears’ picnic, and here’s how you can make the most of it.
Finding things to do over the school breaks can be easy if you are inventive about it. Children love to be outdoors in the sunshine, having a picnic is a pure novelty so incorporating both things together make for an exciting and happy afternoon all round. Be excited about the upcoming school summer break and everyone else will be, too!
There’s nothing quite like waking up to a nice hearty breakfast. By kitting your kitchen out with a few handy appliances, setting yourself up for the day with a wholesome meal could be made much easier.
Here are just a few tools that your kitchen may be in need of.
Are you wild about waffles? You can buy ready-made ones in the shops, but for that extra-fresh feeling nothing beats home-made waffles. Waffle-makers come in all shapes and sizes – with many low cost versions on the market. You can even experiment with recipes and make potato waffles and gluten-free variants. It’s also great trick to use on leftover pizza.
Create your own freshly-squeezed juice by buying a juicer. If you grow your own fruit and veg, this can be a very useful tool to have. You’ll get all the fresh vitamins and nutrients you may not get in a supermarket variety, and have the option to experiment and make your own juices.
Pricing can vary depending on how elaborate you want your juicer to be, with some models costing under thirty quid and others over a grand!
If you need a caffeine hit to get you energised in the morning, why not say goodbye to instant coffee and become your own barista from home by investing in your own coffee machine?
Whether you want a simple percolator or a hi-tech grind and brew coffee maker, there are all kinds of machines available on the market that could give your coffee that extra touch of luxury.
Of course, avid tea drinkers may prefer to stick to the kettle – but even as a toy to impress coffee-drinking guests with and it can be useful.
Multi frying pan
For those grandparents that are used to serving up full English breakfast to big families, this ingenious pan could be a life-saving tool. It’s size allows you to cook a full fry-up on it. Some even have compartments so that you can stop food mixing.
Multi-frying pans fit over multiple hobs – with some having multi-purpose grill use. Pricing varies, but generally you can nab one at under thirty pounds.
Just make sure you have the kitchen space to store it (you may be able to throw out a few other pans to make room – you won’t need them with this multi-pan).
Poached eggs can be a delicious morning treat, perfect for making egg benedict or egg royale. However, they’re also one of the trickiest and most frustrating methods of cooking an egg.
Buying a specialist egg poaching device could make the process a lot easier. You can buy small compartments for under a tenner or buy a specialist poaching pan for the job. Some more high-end machine may offer multiple ways of cooking eggs from boiling to poaching.
This could save having to bother with timers and allow you to cater all manner of guest requests (if you own a b&b this ought to be an essential tool).
Life as a grandma.. it's no 'quiet, restful days in the rocking-chair'. It's filled with activity, excitement and lots of family fun. Please share it with me.