It’s family day in Ontario today, and I thought that would be the perfect time to tell you a bit more about what’s been going on in ours lately. The good: yesterday was Sophie’s 2’nd birthday, and we celebrated over the weekend with a few small parties with family, and some amazing cake (always the most important part of a birthday in my books). Also good – after a week of strep throat and chest infections running rampant in the house, everyone’s finally on the upswing (except me, but that’s just how it always goes). With good though, there’s always gotta be some bad, and ours was pretty rough. You see, I got this cat, Montana, 16 years ago. She was more like a dog in the body of a cat. She was never happier than when the kids were literally laying on top of her. She came to a whistle, slept on the kids pillow with them, and loved giving high-fives. She was absolutely a member of the family, and two weeks ago she went from being completely herself, to us having to say goodbye, in just 36 hours.
After a holiday season where the loss of grandparents was already hanging heavily on them, this was just a blow that the kids didn’t need. I was struggling because Monty was my baby before I had babies, and the kids had lost their best and longest friend. I struggled with how to talk to them about it, I didn’t know how to make them feel better, I didn’t know if I should be trying to make them feel better, or let them work through it on their own time. Isn’t that the problem with kids though – knowing how to relate difficult issues and emotions to them in a way that is comfortable for them to deal with. We read lots of books together, we talked, we looked at pictures, had a few really good cries, and we got a new kitten.
My kids are tough though. They bottle things in, they force themselves to look ok, and act ok, but then the stress of doing that has them break down out of nowhere. I didn’t know what to do to help them, and that was the worst part. Then, I got to partner with The Adventures of Napkin Man again (see my first love affair with their free apps here). There is an ongoing joke in our family that everything always works out for me, and this was another one of those moments.
If you don’t know, The Adventures of Napkin Man is a show on kids CBC. This show is loved by my guys, and does a fantastic job of relating difficult emotional and social concepts to children. They now have four new interactive episodes up on their website for free, each of them dealing with an emotion that kids often find difficult coping with and expressing.
Wondering just what “Interactive” means?
The interactive episodes are just like the tv show, only they have breaks after key messaging that help reinforce important lessons through games, colouring, and music that your kids create themselves. This is Anna making a song during Bye Bye Bugaloo.
Bye Bye Boogaloo is one of the four new episodes, and just happened to deal with mourning loss. I sat Anna down at the computer with her bowl of cereal and started it up for her. She was instantly excited to see a Napkin Man to watch, so I left her to it, just checking in periodically incase she needed help with anything (she didn’t). After it was finished she came running over to me, telling me all about how the kids class pet had died, but then the butterflies came and they all found ways to remember Boogaloo. It was like a lightbulb went off in her head with Montana, a switch turned for her that I wasn’t able to find, and she was finally able to relate to others in her grief. This was an absolutely priceless moment for me.
There are three other episodes like this as well:
Fun for One helps kids understand feeling lonely and being left out.
Get Well Soon introduces the concept of empathy and helps kids put themselves in others shoes.
Bad Hair Day helps kids deal with feeling embarrassed.
I’ve introduced Oliver to Fun for One this week too. We’ve had a bit of trouble at school and knowing how to choose the right people to play with. I’m hoping that this may strike a bit of a chord with him. He hates being alone, but because of that will make bad choices at times just to be included. Just like with mourning Montana, sometimes it doesn’t matter if I’m saying all the right things to the kids, I’m not a kid, so they can’t relate to me. Seeing kids go through similar troubles gives them someone they can relate too. I love that Oliver is seeing that it’s ok to play and be alone sometimes, and hopefully he’ll see that as a better option than playing with the wrong people.
I really can’t praise these episodes enough. There are so many things on tv and online that just run through our kids without leaving any kind of impression (or worst case, a bad impression). I love that there are people out there making quality content for our kids that have tangible benefits to them, and not just emotional or social, but technological as well. These interactive episodes also help them start to learn basic computer skills. To the kids, they’re just fun, but to me, they’re great tools to help me parent in a variety of different ways and keep things interesting.
Now, how about a Giveaway!
The Adventures of Napkin Man are letting me give one of my lucky readers a $100 VISA Gift Card! (Sorry, only open to residents of Canada, including Quebec).
Leave me a comment below to be entered. Tell me something that you’ve done to help your kids through a difficult time, and hopefully we can all find some new ways to relate to them. Good Luck!
I’ll be picking the winner on Friday, February 19, 2016. Congratulations to Amy! Thanks to everyone for participating, and for all of your amazing tips and suggestions!
Disclosure: I am part of the Adventures of Napkin Man Online Influencer Campaign and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.