two mommas caught in the middle of life. Life, as we know it, consists of our husbands, babies, pregnancies, homemaking, all while co-sleeping, nursing, loving, singing, cleaning, dreaming, scrubbing, cloth-diapering, natural lifestyles...whew! We are passionate, fun-loving, adventuresome, and a bit lonely for some friends. Join us! xo
I find myself in an interesting situation today... A few weeks ago Lily and I made some new friends. I really like this particular mom and Lily really likes her daughter. They play well together and seem to enjoy each others company as much as their moms do. This friend started inviting me to do things with her play group. While I love to stay busy and surround Lily with playmates, these mom's seem to parent different than I do. Most of the time, that doesn't bother me. I don't need everyone to do everything the same way that I do, but I have come to realize there is one core thing that is pretty important to me in parenting: Are you obsessed with your kids? I know all mom's "LOVE" their kids but are you crazy, out of your mind, obbsessed with them? I am. Since Lily was born every second that she is not in reach I miss her... like you'd miss a limb ;) Without fail most nights (even on the toughest of days) Lily will fall asleep and I will look at my sweet husband and say "I miss her..." I know to some of you that might seem crazy or unhealthy even but I don't think it is. And it is this crazy love for her that influences every parenting decision that I make and it of course makes me her biggest advocate. Anyway, one of the kids in this playgroup plays pretty rough and is pretty defiant. I tell Lily "Use your words" to fight him, and she tries but he doesn't listen to mom so why would he listen to a 2 year old. So today she just randomly would scream "No NAME, Mine!" anytime she had something that was hers even though he was nowhere near her and then when we left she told me "No NAME mommy". Basically, she doesn't want to be his friend. I don't blame her, I wouldn't want to either. I told her sometimes by making good choices ourselves other kids will follow her and make good choices, but I don't know how much of that she understands. All that I know is in the last 7 hours she has told me and my husband about 20 times that she doesn't want to be his friend. So now what? I just pretend to become insanely busy and can't ever play with this friend that I like again? It seems like, "oh no big deal just play with her outside of play group". But how to I explain that? It seems like everytime we play together she ends up inviting them. I guess if I am going to be Lily's advocate we may lose our new friends just to avoid the mean kid... sigh. Oh well, mom friends are a dime a dozen right?! NOT.
I've been thinking about my parenting style and the labels or groups that we are put into based on the parenting choices that we make and I have decided that I am a common sense type of parent. I don't know if that is an actual label but that is what I am going to call my style from now on. Pretty much every decision that I make is a combination of my intuition and common sense (Of course if it is a really important decision I will do a bit of research to confirm my decision, like vaccines).
Take sleep for example. Do I like to sleep alone: No. Do I like to sleep with my baby: yes. Does my baby get more sleep while sleeping with me: One kid yes, One kid not anymore. So do I sleep with my kids? With lily we did until she was one. That was not an age or date that we put on her that was just how long sleeping together worked for us. She started to sleep better in her crib than with us and we were ok with that. Dawson does because right now its a win win for everyone, when it stops working we will try something new.
Vaccines: same thing. Do I think they are important: most of them. Do they apply to our lifestyle: most of them. Does my gut tell me it makes sense to shoot my newborn up with multiple drugs at once when they all can have side effects alone let alone together? No. (would you take tylenol, motrin, vicodin and morphine all together? No...do they all serve a purpose and do some good? yes) So what do we do? We get most of the shots, but give them one or two at a time and we postpone or ommit the ones that don't apply to us and won't hurt others if we don't get them. Yes we take more time out of our schedule and pay more copays but we feel like its worth it.
You get the picture. I listen when my kids talk, even if it is for hours on end. Because they want to be heard and I want them to know I am always here to listen. I cry when I'm frustrated, they cry when they are frustrated, so instead of getting mad at a meltdown I try to empathize. When they are mad I empathize. When they are having a rough day I empathize. When they don't want to slow down and eat I empathize (lately I have to remind myself to stop and eat). The bottom line is they are just little people. At the very least we should not expect more out of them than we do ourselves because lets face it we have been dealing with our feelings a lot longer and really most of the time my reactions aren't that much different than my toddlers! ;)
Attention: “You’re so mad mommy can’t play right now. You’re telling me how mad you are by throwing your things! Mad. Mad. Mad. I hear you.”
Affection: “You are throwing your cup. I see you. Maybe you need some Mommy/Daddy-time, here I come for a hug!”
Autonomy: “You want to do it by yourself. You want to pour your own juice. I understand that. I like to do things all BY MYSELF too!” And then let her pour her own juice on a surface that won’t be hurt by a spill – they will only learn to pour with practice!
Play: “You threw your cup again. Was that funny? It sure bounced (spilled, hit the fridge etc). That cup sure went high.” “Do you like when mommy makes those funny faces every time?” (imitate yourself becoming impatient – he may find your reactions funny, and that’s why he keeps repeating the behavior) And then offer to let him throw cups in the bathtub! Or try another large muscle movement game. Pat from Heal Thyself! had some great suggestions: *Throwing is huge fun, so give him something safe to throw and something else to aim toward. We have hung balloons from strings from the ceiling and tossed Nerf balls at them. *Tilt a hula hoop against the wall and toss bean bags into it. *Lean over the back of a stable chair and drop quarters into a loud metal pan. *Give him something to squeeze, like playdough, while he is sitting in his chair. *Hold your hands above him, have him jump and touch your hands (adjust the height of your hand to challenge him more or less). *Have him spin and jump and move BEFORE long sitting activities. *Provide other fidget activities such as stringing large beads, pockets with velcro to open and close, or matching games (put all red objects in one cup, blue in other cup, etc). *Basically, embrace the JOY and offer something to do *instead*.
Needs First, Teachable Moments Second
After you acknowledge your child’s need/feelings and your child is responsive, then move to teachable moments.
“When cups fall on the floor, they spill and make a mess, how can we work together to keep your cup on the table?”
“Instead of throwing your cup, let’s throw BALLS!”
“Oops – the cup spilled and made the floor messy, let’s clean it up together!” (Try to model cleaning without expectation of help or without guilting your child into it.)
At 2.5 years, a child’s emotional regulation is facilitated when you acknowledge your child’s feelings – even if he can’t have what he wants. From 0-3 years, when a kid meets with transition or change or obstacles there is often a flooding in their body of BIG feelings. This is not misbehavior, but an inability to resolve the internal conflict alone, and a very real physiological process that happens.
Shaming, blaming, or getting angry with a young child who can’t control his body does not teach her anything. Instead, use the power of empathy to settle her body and mind and help her weather the emotional overwhelm she feels in the moment.
Connection soothes. Focus on building connections!
Dennison and I have been having conversations about just what I was looking for! "Focus on needs- not on behavior." such a simple concept, but so complex! I recently set up a sensory table in the kitchen for Sawyer. Since it's so cold, I decided to fill the sand/water table with white rice instead of water. She's had a wonderful time scooping the rice, pouring it into various cups, funnels, and...on the floor! I have been hesitant to remove the table- I really enjoy watching her self-play, and love hearing the way she talks to herself while she's "pouring tea". I have been getting very frustrated sweeping up rice every day. I seem to always be halfway across the kitchen when she catches my eye and s-l-o-w-l-y ours out every single grain from her cup. It's really amazing how far rice can scatter.
I love days where I can pause, take a deep breath, basque in the sunshine and feel the blessings that are my children. Yesterday was that kind of day. The kind of day that restores my patience and makes all of the tough days worth it. It was a beautiful, sunny, spring day in Austin. So we packed up a lunch, an old blanket, books and bubbles and drove to Zilker Park for a good old fashion picnic. I specifically chose a park that didn't have a playground. Sometimes I feel like a playground is more stress than it is worth. It was so nice to be outside and read, laugh, run around, eat and I even got up the nerve to nurse Dawson laying down on the blanket. It was so peaceful. When we got in the car Lily said "Thanks Mommy." Awww, be still my heart. I love my sweet girl. If only she was like that all of the time. She is 2. Sometimes I have to remind myself that.
Today I was burned out by 931a. Sawyer was jumping around at 630a, and we've been busy ever since. By nine in the morning we had already made (and ate!) Breakfast, nursed (twice at least), made beds, started laundry, got dressed, unloaded + reloaded the dishwasher, and MADE CRACKERS. Oh, yeah, and played with homemade play dough. I hadn't been looking at the time, but we had been SO industrious I felt for sure we were rapidly approaching 1p. No. Not even hardly.
Its been a really rainy day today, so going outside is not possible, and I really didn't want to run to Target just because I couldn't "stay at home"...(Although that IS part of my current title!)
This afternoon I've been singing, dancing, reading, play-acting, and watching cartoons, all in hopes of a good nap (or at least rest!).
Alas! To no avail. Oakley is slumbering peacefully right now. I attempted a naptime battle twice today with Sawyer, and I'm letting it go. At least today. At least right now.
Right now, Sawyer is playing quietly in her room. I can hear her talking to herself. Her sweet, little sing-song voice speaking quietly enough that I can't understand the words. Just that she's happy. And peaceful. And quiet.
Maybe I shouldn't push so hard some days. Every day is different. Maybe today is a no-nap day. Hopefully tomorrow will bring a 2 hour nap day.
In the future, instead of me forcing peace, I'll let Sawyer bring her own peace to the house.
as women, mothers, and friends, our goals are simple:
love our husband(s) and babies. be kind and generous to those in our lives. to learn and to help teach. strengthen our faith and the faith of our family. be gentle to the earth and its inhabitants. stop and smell the roses (or at least the crayons!)