Happy Mommy Handbook

Do you know how many children enroll in kindergarten and have never used scissors, paint, playdough, markers or glue? As a former kindergarten teacher, I saw many children who had never used these tools. Yes, that's what they are: Teaching tools. You don't have to be afraid to get out the paint or let your child explore with sand or playdough.  Just take baby steps, be in control, prepare the play/discovery area, model, then observe from a distance. Your child will love you for it and you will both benefit in so many ways.

Is that playdough? It doesn't come out of carpet, does it? How much does it cost?!  Yes, it is homemade playdough using salt, flour, water, oil and alum. Or you can buy playdough in a variety of colors. Your child will be learning fine motor skills, developing his imagination, or perhaps learning to spell his name while forming the dough into letters, shapes, numbers or creatures.

Playdough Provides Many Benefits Including:

  • Fine Motor by strengthening fingers, hands and wrists,
  • Cognitive by offering opportunities to teach letters, colors, shapes, and counting,
  •  Imaginative Play by placing different objects into the dough such as buttons, sprinkles, beads or action figures,
  • Self-Esteem by giving children the opportunity to create whatever they want gaining some mastery and control over their environment,
  • De-stressor offering a safe release for tension or angry feelings by squeezing, twisting, punching, poking, throwing on a mat or designated area, and
  • Mom Rewarding because after initial boundaries are set, mommy may have some “down-time.”

No-Cook Playdough

2 cups self-rising flour
2 tbsp alum (in spice section)
2 tbsp salt
2 tbsp cooking oil
1 and ¼ boiling cup water
Food coloring and scent (optional)

Mix oil and food coloring together before adding to dry mixture. Mix ingredients until pliable. Keep in a container or sealed plastic bag when not in use.

You may be wondering: How can I find the time and patience to teach my kid with everything else I have to do?  Don’t panic. If done right, providing your child with brain-stimulating activities will actually give you more free time. When children are challenged with playful, developmentally appropriate activities, they behave better, their confidence is boosted, and they become better at using their imaginations to play alone, earning you some guilt-free peace and quiet.

If you’re anything like me, once you became a Mom, you quickly learned that free time is a thing of the past and you found yourself asking:
  • Why can't my kids just play by themselves occasionally?
  • Why does it make me so crazy to stay home with the kids sometimes?
  • What should I be doing to get my kids ready for school?
The good news is that children are naturally wired to learn by playing - not by memorizing flat cards or with expensive products. The question is: How can I know the best ways to help them learn? We can help! I have teamed up with Katie Norris of Mommy with Selective Memory to write a Bestseller: The Happy Mommy Handbook: The Ultimate How-to Guide on Keeping Your Toddlers and Preschoolers Busy, Out of Trouble and Motivated to Learn

This book is written in a unique way - from the perspective of both a mom and a teacher. Each chapter introduces a dilemma that Katie has faced while raising her children. I follow with a Teacher Evaluation offering advice and explain why the activities are good for your child's development. Then, we introduce dozens of games and activities including photos and detailed instructions.  You will understand how each activity can truly benefit both you and your child and help prepare them for school - while they are having fun! Relax, find the joy in being a mom, and save your sanity one project at a time. Only $3.99 for Amazon Kindle and $9.95 for print copies. Also available on Barnes & Noble and Kobo.

  1. Keeping Kids Busy With Sensory Activities
  2. Keeping Kids Busy With Fine Motor Activities
  3. Crafts and Art Projects
  4. Playing Inside
  5. Playing Outside
  6. Nurturing Yourself So You Can Nurture Your Children
  7. Enjoying Your Kids to Fullest by Developing Wonderful Behavior
  8. How to Prepare Your Children for Kindergarten
  9. Helping Your Child Learn to Read
  10. Helping Your Child Learn Math and Science
  11. Summary and Resources
 Also available on Barnes & Noble and Kobo
This book seriously saved my sanity. I've read a bunch of parenting books but this is literally the only one that actually gave me real and specific advice and ideas for things to do with my daughter. I'm a stay-at-home mom to a 2-year old and I was at my wits end trying to come up with ideas of fun, easy, creative things to do with her that will keep her busy and occupied and help her learn. I wasn't very good at following through on ideas that I heard about from friends or read in other books or online because they seemed too complicated (aka: messy!) but this book broke it down and made it so simple. I highly recommend it.
This is truly a fantastic book! I was shocked at how many activities the authors came up with - many of which didn't even require a trip to the store for supplies! The Mom who wrote this has great stories & the Teacher has valuable experiences...it's a perfect blend of unique insight. Fun inexpensive activities that keep my 2 kids away from the TV, what more can you ask for?! This book is really helping me become a better Mom - Thank you!
Working mom approved! July 5, 2012
By Katie
As a full-time working mom, I want the time I spend with my daughter to be quality time. This book is full of great ideas on how I can engage my 2-year old, and keep her out of trouble while I get things done around the house. It is fascinating to watch her learn and have fun with the simplest of activities from materials we have around the house. Our quality and learning together time has improved! I can't wait to share this book with all of my mom friends - working or stay-at-home.
Let Your Child Experience Childhood
The Happy Mommy Handbook: The Ultimate How-to Guide on Keeping Your Toddlers and Preschoolers Busy, Out of Trouble and Motivated to Learn by Katie Norris and Susan Case is a brilliant book for moms like me (and you too)!  In the introduction the authors state two main goals: "to give you more free time by growing smarter and happier children and to encourage you to make the most of these early years."  Part 1 explains how to make the early years fun yet educational.  Each chapter starts with Katie's Mommy Dilemma which is common for so many moms and Teacher's Advice from Susan's perspective.  There are also many practical examples for moms to engage their preschooler with easy and creative activities.  There are ideas for sensory play, fine motor skills, arts & crafts, playing inside and playing outside.  There are two chapters to help moms nurture themselves and to help children develop good behavior.  Part 2 is getting your preschooler ready for Kindergarten.  There are many helpful suggestions for parents to guide children to develop in cognitive, social, emotional, academic and physical areas.  The one message throughout the book was "Mom, you are enough for your child." How many times have I started my day off with good intentions to engage my son and wind up just telling him to run off and play?  Katie and Susan's book helped me to see that purposeful play with my son is possible with just a few common items found in my home and a heart willing to take time to play with him in a meaningful way.  And in this way, I can accomplish a few things I need to do while my son is engrossed in a fun activity that is helping him to learn.  I was thrilled with the variety of simple things I can do to create a much better environment for my son who is really interested in more than being sent off to play in his room.  Katie and Susan designed this book as a way to keep kids "busy" with learning activities that are playful.  Moms, you can provide a loving and active day for preschoolers and be able to accomplish things you need to do.  I am so glad to have this book to reference throughout my day.  My son will be a much happier boy and I know I will be a happy mommy because my son will have had a full day playing and learning.  I highly recommend this book to every preschool mom! ~ Shonda of Milk ‘N Honey Learn & Grow *** The Happy Mommy Handbook: The Ultimate How-to Guide on Keeping Your Toddlers and Preschoolers Busy, Out of Trouble and Motivated to Learn Themes: Toddler & Preschooler Activities, Real Help for Real Moms, Nuturing Yourself So You Can Nuture Your Children, Preparing Your Child for Kindergarten, Helping Your Child Learn to Read and more. Synopsis:   Real moms have real problems as they parent their children.  The Happy Mommy Handbook begins each section with Mommy’s Dilemma…a common scenario any parent might experience.  In Chapter One, a mom is overwhelmed with all that she has to do…ready to turn on the television AGAIN to keep her toddler busy while she starts dinner.  Instead, she opts to set her child up with a bunch of cups and a bowl of sand at the kitchen table.  After sitting with her child for a few minutes, showing her how to fill the cups and transfer the sand from one to another, the mom was able to leave the child, happily “playing” while she went to make dinner…and she even had time to sit down at the table and pay the bills.  In each chapter, Mommy’s Dilemma is followed by Teacher’s Advice,…a simple explanation of the theory behind the activity and why a child needs to have time doing that particular activity.  The book is filled with dozens of simple fun-filled activities, suggestions for books that build self-esteem, recipes for staples like clay and lists of materials to have on hand that will encourage your child to grow in learning and confidence.  The authors also address topics such as fine and large motor skills and the importance of play, both indoors and outside. Why do I like this book I love this book because it gives quick and easy solutions to problems that parents face every day.  The explanations will help a parent understand the importance of each activity.  The book encourages moms to keep it simple and positive…which makes for a happier home for everyone.  I even love the size of the book…small enough to slip into a handbag…but chockfull of everything a parent needs to know about keeping young children happy and busy.  This is a book I wish I’d had when my kids were little!  I’m so thrilled that it is available now…what a great gift for any busy mom or grandmom…and a wonderful resource for babysitters, daycare providers and nursery and preschool teachers! Vivian Kirkfield, author of Show Me How! Build Your Child's Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking (Positive Parental Participation) 
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  1. Looking forward to reading your latest book Susan! I am sure it's packed with oodles of great tips. Congrats to both you and Katie!

    1. Thank you so much Bern. You blog is truly amazing. Love the linky parties, too.


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