Tag Archives: Conversations

Autumn Adventures

I started writing this post so long ago then got too busy to finish it – almost winter now, may seem irrelevant to publish it but here I go anyway 🙂

Autumn is a period of change – the leaves, the weather, our schedule and much more. There are new discoveries to be made and even some new challenges. This year, the weather has impacted our activities more than usual – there has been so much rain. We like rain but when it is combined with cold then playing in the yard can be troublesome because it is so wet and sitting anywhere gets uncomfortable so we prefer to keep moving and go for walks.

Walks provide much more than just fresh air and exercise – on walks we have some fantastic conversations. Years ago I wrote about how our long walks enable us to have better conversations. However, this Fall going for walks has been a little challenging since all my older children have gone to school and I have no hand holding helpers.

In my current preschool group all the children are just one or two years old. The toddlers do like to walk together and hold hands but they are usually so engrossed in their own conversations that they don’t pay enough attention to their surroundings. Also, as ‘normal’ toddlers they often require significant processing time for verbal requests. The delayed response is very stressful for me particularly when it is related to road traffic.

So, this Fall I again began using the Safe-T-Line when we go for walks. I have previously written another post about using the Safe-T-Line. All these toddlers love holding the handles and have taken turns as line leader – some are better as followers.

Even though muddy puddles are a popular attraction for these little ones, ‘goose poop’ seems to be a major concern. Even when there is not a goose in sight every unidentified lump on the sidewalk or pathway gets dubbed ‘goose poop’ and is given a wide berth followed by “Ewwww, that’s disgusting!” and fits of laughter.

One of our favourite walks is through the Elmwood Cemetery – mostly because there are very few cars and very many squirrels, rabbits, birds, and especially geese. On one recent cemetery walk the grass was being mowed and there were large clumps of wet grass on the road. Initially they were of course labeled ‘goose poop’ but then there was an argument about the clumps being too big to have been made by a goose. So, after some discussion it was determined that these were in fact ‘dinosaur poop‘.

Yes, that is why I like taking toddlers for walks. We never find dinosaur poop in the yard. Now we just have to figure out where that dinosaur is hiding. Time to go for another autumn adventure.

With or Without

It is no secret that I enjoy walking. There are so many great reasons to go for a walk. It could just be a means of transportation to get from point A to point B. Maybe you want to spend some time outdoors exploring , getting fresh air and/or exercise. Walking could be a social activity you do with your friends or a solitary activity you use to reflect, rejuvenate, and unwind.

For me, walking is all of those things. Below I have my Fitbit data from some of my recent walks. The route and distance for the the first two walks is the same but the difference is whether I am walking with or without children.

This first one is one of my 4:30 am ‘perfect-way-to-start-the-day’ brisk walk without children. This is an exercise walk – I wear my weighted vest and sometimes ankle and/or wrist weights too. I walk quickly and throughout the walk my mind is busy too. I make mental lists of what I need to do that day, what food needs to be prepped before the children arrive and what supplies I need to gather for the day’s activities. Sometimes I even ‘write’ drafts of blog posts during these walks. I was actually surprised that this ‘exercise’ walk didn’t have a much higher heart rate – probably because it was a lovely spring morning – my -30 C winter morning walks are more strenuous.

This second walk is with six children – three of which are toddlers. Two of the children in group were enrolled during this past winter – they are not yet familiar with our long hikes but have gone on a few shorter walks with us. Even though the route is exactly the same as my morning walk, this second walk is slower – taking almost twice as long to cover the same distance. Notice my step count is also higher – I take smaller steps when holding toddler hands. Although the time is doubled on my walk WITH children, my ‘active’ minutes are not because we do stop to look at things periodically. I don’t set the pace for these walk – usually the older children do but occasionally I have to remind them that the toddlers have very short legs.

Now this third walk is a different, much shorter route with children. This walk is half the distance of the first two but it takes us through a park where we stop to play. The step count is about the same as my early morning exercise walk but this walk with children is half the distance and takes more time.

Both my walks with children averaged 4 calories per minute and my exercise walk was 5 calories per minute – not as big a difference as I would have expected. I guess that even though my walks with children are much more relaxed than my walks without, they are still good exercise. Also, there is so much more talking during my walks with children – talking burns calories too. These conversations are one of my favourite parts about walking with children – here you can read more about walking and talking.

The Waiting Game

I don’t schedule ‘sit and wait’ times but occasionally the children are required to wait – usually because they were too fast for me.  For example, they clean-up their toys, wash their hands and sit down for lunch while I finish making lunch and dish up the food.

If they are seated before I’m finished plating the food then they will have a short period of ‘waiting’ time.  Sometimes when they have to wait they will play ‘I Spy’.  I’ve written about this game before — here.

We don’t use the dining table for any purpose other than meals so we have some rules here to encourage appropriate table manners and conversation.  Basically the rules are ‘Keep your hands to yourself and talk politely using words.’  Really, those rules apply other places too but at the table we discourage ‘actions’ and “talk politely using words” is better than “stop waving your arms”.  The “hands to yourself” rule is important here because the children don’t have the option to walk away when someone else is poking at them.

Usually the children are capable of sustaining conversations while they wait.  Often they have stories to share that they forgot about when they were ‘busy’ in the play room or outdoors.  Some may say that ‘waiting time’ is actually ‘thinking time’.

Occasionally if they are tired or overexcited and it may be necessary for me to redirect or guide the conversations.  Usually though they lead the conversations.  When they are not interested in chatting about their day or making plans for later they will play I Spy or something similar.  Recently they began something new – they have been making up riddles.

I find these riddles interesting or amusing and, although I’m usually busy with meal prep, I’ve managed to write a few of them down;

  • Child 1 – I have long ears
  • Child 2 – A rabbit?
  • Child 1 – No, there is more.  I am yellow and brown.  I step on things.  I’m in the Lion King Movie.
  • All the children – A giraffe!
  • Child 2 – My turn.  I have feathers
  • All the children – A bird?
  • Child 2 – No, I have things sticking out of my head.
  • All the children – A PEACOCK!!
  • Child 2 – Yes!  (note-peacocks are currently one of their favourite creatures but maybe we should learn some more about them).
  • Child 3 – I roar
  • Child 1 – A lion?
  • Child 3 – I have a long tail
  • Child 1 – A dinosaur?
  • Child 3 – Yes! You win!

Sometimes it is hard to stay focused on getting lunch ready 🙂  I’m considering pursuing riddles further – perhaps as a group activity or craft.  For now though, it is a great game to play while you wait.

Schedules & Conversations

Today was one of those days — I called it ‘busy’.  Parents asked what we did that was so exciting but I couldn’t really answer that because we didn’t really do anything.

According to the dictionary ‘busy’ means ‘full of activity, eventful, demanding, tiring, and hectic’.  It is the last three of these that most accurately describe today.

Now, one of the things I like about Family Child care is the variety.  Sometimes I have more infants and toddlers enrolled so feeding, changing and cuddling take up much of my time.

On school holidays when the school-age children are here all day we often get immersed in elaborate activities that continue for hours, days or more.  I actually find these days to be the least busy as the children take the lead.  I mostly just follow along, ask questions, observe and provide supplies.  These are my favourite days.

Currently I have an older preschool group – no infants – and with the school-age children away all day and one Kindergarten child away half days I have a small group most of the time.  The problem is that we don’t have any blocks of time where the children can really engage in anything.

Our day looks like this; Come in, play, say good bye to the school-agers, play, clean-up, eat morning snack, bathroom break, circle/calendar time, get dressed for outdoors, play outside, clean-up, walk to the school to get the Kindergarten child, come back, undress, play (very quickly), clean-up for lunch, greet school age child, eat, clean-up, bathroom break, say goodbye to school age child, get cots ready, nap time (clean the kitchen), get children up, bathroom break, play, clean-up, greet the school-age children, eat afternoon snack, clean-up, play and the parents arrive.

Now keep in mind that some days – like today — each one of those transitions requires me to repeat instructions to each child individually and sometimes several times.  Then there are the questions and stories and games that go along with the instructions.  It is all the mundane conversations that get to me. My head hurts and I really just want this day to end.

Then at afternoon snack we have this conversation as I hand out yogurt, crackers and juice;

What kind of yogurt is this?


Mmmm, my favourite.

Mali (the cat) get out of the closet or you might get locked in.

Why are you going to lock Mali in the closet?

I don’t want to.  I opened it to get a bib and she tried to sneak in.  If I didn’t notice I might have accidentally closed the door and locked her in there.

Is she being bad?

No, just curious.

Are you going to lock her up?


Where is my friend?

Not back from school yet.

Are you going to put her in the closet too?

No! Why would I do that?

You locked the cat in the closet.

I didn’t lock anyone in the closet!! Eat your food!!

If I spill my juice are you going to lock me in the closet?


They’ve gone home for the day.  I want to go to bed.  I haven’t even had supper yet.  I’m expecting phone calls from parents who ask their child ‘what happened at daycare today?’