Breaking the Routine – Summer Ideas for Your Little Explorers

By Kim Patterson

Through the seemingly endless winter months parents of small children envision all the fun they’ll have with their kids once summer rolls around. No longer confined by four walls, the kids will be free to frolic and enjoy all that warm weather has to offer. That’s the dream anyways. Many parents of little ones find that once summer is upon them they can’t seem to break out of their regular routines. If you’re eagerly anticipating outdoor escapades with your littles, but haven’t a clue where to start, here are some ideas for summer fun and exploration.


Babies love to touch, feel and taste. While you might think that the tasting part of their exploration excludes babies from arts and crafts, there is still an opportunity for infants to have their Picasso moment. There are a number of edible finger paints on the market made especially for creative babies. They are colored with fruits and vegetables and are completely safe (probably even tasty). There are even several online edible finger paint recipes for the DIY parents out there. If your baby is old enough to stand while holding onto something, a store bought or homemade water table can provide hours of entertainment and an opportunity to cool down.


As any play dough wielding parent knows, tactile play is best left outside. The toddler set love it, but have you ever tried to get ground in, dried up modeling clay out of your carpet? Summer is the perfect opportunity to move these kinds of activities to a more dough-friendly environment. There are some fun sensory dough recipes to be found online. One that suits the hot weather very well is ice cream dough, which you can readily find recipes for on Pinterest. Whip up a batch or two in different colors and give your toddler a dollar store ice cream scoop and he’ll be serving up your new favorite treats in no time. Sidewalk chalk is another fun option, but why go mainstream? Instead, mix up some spray on sidewalk chalk (do a quick search for chalk spray) and prepare to be amazed by your little one’s creations.


Kids this age love to help make things. Don’t worry if you’re not super handy. There are plenty of things you can create together – play to your strengths. For instance, kids (and adults) love to eat ice pops in the summer. Pick up some fill-able tube zip pouches and get mixing with your preschooler. She’ll love coming up with special flavors and you’ll be happy knowing that you’re making healthier frozen treats. If food isn’t your thing then why not experiment with bubbles? Mix up a batch of homemade bubble solution with your preschooler and then play around with different household objects that double as bubble blowers. You can also try your hand at building a giant bubble maker (check Pinterest for instructions).

Of course, water play is always fun for all ages. Invest in a small blow-up pool, turn on the sprinkler or take your little squirt to a local wading pool (hint: it’s always a good idea to find out what time of day the pool gets drained and re-filled and go right after that). Visiting local zoos and going fruit picking are also popular choices. Remember, summer play doesn’t have to be complicated, just break out and have fun!


How My Toddler’s Sass is Teaching Me To Hold My Tongue

by Mary Sauer

It was a Monday morning. Due to an ugly diaper incident at 2am that required a change of sheets and my husband falling asleep with my toddler, we all overslept.

My husband took a lightning fast shower and made a run for the door before I could even get my coffee made. We rushed around the house getting ready for the yoga class I had missed the last two weeks and made it there just in time for me to drop the girls at childwatch and arrive while everyone was doing their first downward dog.

Fifteen minutes into class, I had officially gotten my zen on. I had let go of the chaos of the morning. I was cool. I was calm. Nothing could get between me and this moment.

Then I heard it. Ding. Mary, mother of Hazel, could you please report to the childwatch area.

Zen gone.

One diaper change and a few ounces of mama’s milk later, she was back in childwatch and I was back on my way to nirvana. When they called me again–she was pretty fussy. Maybe she was hungry.

We left in a huff. My two year old, ten month old and I made our way through the rainy parking lot. Clementine kept wandering off, so I firmly grabbed ahold of her wrist and hurried her along.

Stop that! RIGHT. NOW. She glared at me, ripped her hand out of mine, and then finished it off with a sigh so thorough, that her shoulders deflated as she blew a breath out of her little pinched lips.

Ignoring the sass, I lifted her into her seat and started to buckle her when she gave it another go.

I SAID STOP IT. RIGHT NOW! She screamed it this time, putting her whole body behind it, her face red.

I was taken back. Partially, by the volume such a small person could muster up when angry, but mostly by how familiar that phrase sounded.

My daughter, in all her toddler anger, was merely modeling something she had heard out of my mouth about a thousand times, sigh included. Can you guess what hearing my go-to angry and annoyed phrase exploding out of my angry toddler’s mouth did to my mommy mojo?

All I could think about was how ugly, out of control, and immature she sounded spitting that phrase at me. Which made me wonder–how do I sound when I holler it at her? To top it all off, I have now taught my two year old how to be completely out of control of her emotions. With my own lack of self-control, I have communicated that it is appropriate to let your anger get the best of you. Mommy fail.

We sat in the car in the parking lot and the girls started to taking turns blowing raspberries at each other in the back seat. My two year old had moved on so quickly from her little outburst, but I had not. I was ashamed.

Don’t get me wrong, in my role as mother, anger has a time and a place. I am not debasing myself for feeling a completely valid emotion. I know better than that (most days). What was so embarrassing about that moment in the car with my two year old was realizing that, in the last two years, I had become a yeller. An exasperated sigher. An eye roller.

Mild mannered, happy-go-lucky me had morphed into this person who takes making it to yoga class on time and loading the dishwasher uninterrupted way too seriously. And I was teaching my daughter that it was appropriate to use an ugly tone and loud volume with the people we love when things don’t go the way that we want.

I know there is a lesson here. A lesson outside of how counterproductive it is to get pissed off about being late to yoga class. The rest of the day, I found myself pausing when I was tempted to explode because she was climbing on the kitchen table or coloring on herself. I found myself wondering:

How will this sound coming out her mouth when she inevitably mimics this little outburst of mine? How can my response to this teach her that there is an appropriate way to handle frustration?

And that, my friends, is how my toddler’s incredible propensity for sass is teaching me to watch my tongue.

Have your kids picked up on any of your less than perfect behavior? How do you model healthy control of your emotions to your children?


Mary Sauer is wife to Chris and young mom to Clementine and Hazel Jane. When she isn’t at home with her girls, she spends her time working on an inpatient behavioral health unit or freelance writing. With whatever free time is left, she writes on her blog, reads, vacuums her house, and dabbles in yoga and running. She can also be found on InstagramTwitterFacebook, and Pinterest.