Wall Decals, Blackboards and Magnets

I am presently somewhat obsessed with wall decals, blackboards and magnets.. I am not too sure how exactly it came about, but I am loving them.

A couple of years ago, I painted a small wall in our house with blackboard paint, with a vision of it being a communication station for our family. It seemed like a master plan as it would by default have allocated space according to height. EPL taking the section closest to the ceiling and myself the next little space then the kids. Until the kids learnt to write, their space would just be a big scribbling pad and better still... they could tell their friends that they are allowed to draw on walls.. well, one wall.

I originally wanted to paint this wall with magnetic blackboard paint, but found out that this product is no longer available. I later found a couple of black metal strips at IKEA which I hung up on the blackboard wall, meaning that we could hang smaller notes or put up artwork the kids did and change it regularly.

When lil-L was born I discovered those magnetic frames which was just the ants pants.. I am a photographer so this meant I could just keep changing pictures of my little darling without the hassle of reframing them all the time.

My newest discovery is large sheets of metal at IKEA. The new additions to our house include a large Red magnet board for lil-L's room so she can hang whatever, whenever she wants and I don't have to stress about blu-tack and sticky tape on walls. And the other is a round black circle board for the laundry for me so I can hang my handymom to do list on it.

I also found these groovy little metal discs about the size of a AU20c piece that come with double sided tape so you can have a little magnet spot ANYWHERE in the house. I stuck 4 of these on the inside of the front door.. At the moment the little discs being used as a display space for lil-L's paintings, but a future vision is that each person can have their own disc to hang a note for themselves of something they need to remember the next day. Its a perfect little spot as you will always see it before you leave the house as we always use the front door to leave.

The other little item.. or big one I am slightly addicted to is those removable wall decals. There are so many amazing images out there and they are so much fun for decorating a kids room, and more so, they are removable so the decorations on your child's walls can evolve with them. Lil-L's room has a set of cherry blossom flowers which are scattered above her bed head, a set of 3 chickens and currently I am sticking up the alphabet for her. Zaccy has a big red plane with white clouds on his blue feature wall and a set of blue/white/red hot air balloons on his wardrobe.

And still rolled up waiting to be stuck up, I have bought a 1.8m tree decal to stick in the laundry in thoughts of drilling a set of hooks into the wall where the branches are and turning it into a flat coat stand. By default the lower branches will be for the little ones and high ones for daddy.

I like blank walls and but I also like things on them... and then I like to change my mind... a lot!! Wall Decals, Blackboards and Magnet boards are therefore the best thing ever in my eyes. I can write quotes on the blackboard, draw pictures with lil-L, write letters of the alphabet for her and our house can just evolve with us.. now to find a blackboard wall decal I like...

I guess the main thing I am trying to achieve is great communication in our family and a sense of fun. Life is to serious!! And too short to be serious!!

my kids activity list

With my hubby working very long hours so that I can stay at home with my babies.. I do just that, and often solo. I therefore need to be very organised with my time so that I don't overlook certain things such as providing a stimulating environment for my children. The activities I am focusing on here are the ones we do around the house, together as a family and that are not in a class format. As I add content to this blog you will soon come to realise that I love lists, they are a crucial part in my survival and I have even bought a laminator to laminate the important ones :o)

To put it simply, there is a list hanging on our magnet board with a separate list of activities for both lil-L and Zaccy. There is a two year age difference between them so by default the activities are quite different. The main reason I did one of these lists is that lil-L is truly phenomenal and I will openly brag about that, but whether she was born this way or whether it was something that I did right as a mother I will never know. I do know that I was very pedantic about everything I did with her, from nutrition to providing age appropriate activities for her throughout her life. So just in case, it had something to do with me and the way I did things with her, I want to make sure that I give my little guy the same fighting chance.. after all he has to survive in the same household as her...

For both kids I have many activities listed that are just a part of our everyday, such as washing, sweeping outside, pulling weeds, vaccuming, baby massage, bubbles in the bath etc, but I list these so that as we do an activity I can tick it off and try not to keep repeating the same thing each day. Each list has very age specific activities listed too.

We need to function as a productive family so I never plan any particular activity for a particular day as we never know what each day will bring and what will be most important to do for that day. I consciously do this as I don't like to promise lil-L something and then break her little heart if we cant do it for some reason. The way I use this list is as a memory trigger. If we are having a boring moment or I need to feed Zaccy or the 'Terrific Two's' are starting to show, I pick lil-L up and say "Lets go and pick an activity off our sheet" and we make our way to the list. The beauty of a two year old not being able to read, is that you as a parent get to choose the activity. I personally give lil-L a choice of two so that she feels like she has made the choice herself.

There are a couple books that I have found invaluable in generating ideas for these activities and these are truly worth while getting hold of for any busy mum;
Baby's Fist Skills by Miriam Stoppard
365 Activities you and your baby will love by Dr Roni Cohen Leiderman & Dr Wendy Masi
350+ Free Activities for Toddlers by Trish Kuffner

Zaccy's List
Because I found Dr. Stoppards book so comprehensive and its approach so different as it focuses on age specific activities (month by month even), I have made a list of all the activities throughout this book and each month I reprint this same list and circle the relevant activities that are most important for that month. I also keep 365 Activities you and your baby will love at hand so I can just randomly pick something new to do.

lil-L's Activities
Because lil-L is 2.5yrs old now and I want her to be stimulated in different areas. I have separated her list into categories as follows;
Rainy Day Activities... Music Day, Blanket Riding, Hat Dress Up, Chair Maze etc..
Outdoors... Blowing Bubbles, Sand & Water, Planting Flowers, Weeding, Trampoline
Early Learning... Colours, Coin Sorting, ABC Flash Cards etc..
Manners... Quiet & Loud Voice, Thank You & Please, Interrupt Rule etc...
Nature... Rock Treasure Hunt, Make a Bird Feeder, Name Parts of Animals (wing, antlers, claws, beak...)
Art... Painting, Foot Tracing, Stamping, Gluing etc..
Movement & Music... Yoga, Bike Riding in Park, Lets Pretend.., Dancing.
I have 4 different lists in rotation and as we fill one in and cross everything out we print out the next one. Its a great way of doing something a little different each week/month and lil-L loves taking ownership of her activities and being part deciding what will happen each day.