Still a Good Mom…

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When I started this blog, I was so sure I’d be a perfect mom. I mean really, the original name of the blog was something like, “Becoming a Young Mom, and How I Did it Right.” Barf! Am I right? It quickly became “How I Did it Peacefully,” because right is a very subjective word, and I mess up all the time. ALL THE TIME. I tried for a long time to still put on a facade. I wanted the world to think I was a super mom. Perfect house, perfect kid, perfect put together life… Well I’m here to tell you, it just isn’t so.

I get angry sometimes. Caleb will be extra clingy for one reason or another, and every hair on my body stands on end. I might even yell. I might even lock myself in the bathroom for five minutes while he cries, because I need five minutes where no one is touching me; poking, prodding, squeezing… But, most of the time I’m not. Most of the time I feel like having this small little boy around me 24/7 is the most awesome blessing that has ever been given to me. Sometimes I’m tired. Sometimes I put the TV on all day long and I just lay on the couch, because the idea of doing a craft or having a conversation exhausts me past my breaking point. TV all day or a mean mom? I’ll go for the TV every time. But, most of the time I’m so happy to take Caleb to the park, play dates, do the newest cool kid craft, or play make believe. Most of the time I don’t ever want him to leave my side.

This is one of the hardest things in the world for me to admit. 99% of the time I honestly don’t feel like I need a break. 99% of the time I really think I’m doing okay. Then that 1% where my nerves are just fried, I wish someone, well someone like his Mimi because I’m neurotic and really don’t trust many people with him, would come get him just for a night. He’s spent maybe five nights away from me since he was born. Maybe ten times he’s gone with her for a day. That 1% of me isn’t a regular thing, and yet I still feel so much guilt about it… but why?

Don’t even get me started on the house. This week we had kind of an inspection. Not on our house from our landlord, but he’s trying to sell the house so the state inspection people had to come and measure stuff. I took three days cleaning the house. Twenty loads of laundry, seven loads of dishes, a full bottle of Windex, and an emptying of the vacuum five times later, our home was presentable. While I was putting away the clothes I ask Corey in exasperation, “How is it that I did all of these things AND went to school when I was younger?” He looked at me and laughed then responded, “You didn’t have Caleb.” I mean, I get the kitchen clean, and every toy is pulled out in the living room. I fold the clothes, turn my back, and the pile has become something to play in. I’m honestly not even mad, in fact I’ve accepted it, but when my house is a disaster (think dishes from a week ago and mysterious sticky spot on the kitchen floor), I’ve been home all day, and I’m still exhausted at the end of the night I do feel really guilty… but why?

This morning I woke up and my house was essentially still clean. The living room has some toys on it. I asked myself if I wanted to pick them up and decided to sit down and watch a movie while Caleb was still sleeping instead. I started to think about all of the things I’m doing wrong. I though about how I lose my patience, or I don’t always make the healthiest foods, or how when his doctor asked us how much milk he drinks, I had no freaking clue. But, I looked around at the fun art on the walls. I looked at the pictures of us together. I looked at his toys and thought about how much I love watching his imagination at work. I walked in and watched him sleeping next to his daddy. He is strong, healthy, and loved. He doesn’t go without. He has at least one close friend, and he has all the family he’ll ever need. He isn’t afraid when I life my hand that he’ll be hit, because we never hit him. He doesn’t have to worry about eating quickly or hoarding food, because we never let him go without. His body is respected. I do everything in my power to raise him peacefully. 99% of the time I succeed, so why do I fixate on that 1%?

… I’m still a good mom.

YOU ARE LOVED

Toddlers: The Personal Space Invaders

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Last night my sweet, adorable, loving child decided that the only acceptable place for him to be… was glued to me. Now I love snuggling, really, but snuggling (that really means being climbed all over, pushed, prodded, and jumped on) for ten straight hours is just really not my cup of tea. I would stand up and the banshee scream would come out of his small body. I had to go potty at one point and actually shut the door. The poor thing stood outside the door and cried, but my skin needed just a moment to relax and not be touched before going back into the prison like state this little being had put it in. I had been feeling a little ragey and really needed that few minute breather before I made bad choices.

I’d put him down, and he’d cry to me, “I want huggies, I want huggies!” I’d comply every time, because I will NEVER say no to a hug from my child. He’d lay right over my whole chest, and despite how much discomfort I was in, I took a deep breath focused on how much I loved him. Because… my mommy intuition knew there was a reason for his extra lovey and needy state. Sometimes you really do have to drop everything and just BE there for your child, because a need might seem silly to you, but make all the difference for them.

Him and I had just been away from Corey for most of a week, then with him constantly for two days because his days off came up right when we got home. Yesterday his daddy went back to work, and his sweet heart just couldn’t deal with it. He really missed his daddy, and was using my touch to console himself. I just couldn’t bring myself to be the strict, mean mommy that put him down and left him to cry out his pain. I know when I used to miss Corey so severely, before we lived together, I would have done anything to have someone hold me and tell me it would all be okay. Of course I want to be that for Caleb.

I can’t always/don’t always do the right thing. Sometimes I just NEED my space, but last night I knew that he had to come first. Today, he’s been eating like crazy, so I suspect he was also having a growth spurt yesterday and probably feeling some pain in his joints not helping with his already broken heart. Soon as daddy got home last night he was, of course, fine again… but all in all I don’t regret giving him that extra love yesterday.

I’m really not sure of the point for this post, but I felt compelled to share about this scene with my sweet boy. Today, I look at him and I am just filled with love and I’m so grateful that he will always know love, because not everyone has that privilege.

 

Remember, YOU ARE LOVED.

Outside the Box

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Kids are awesome. Dani is my niece that I put on the bus half the time. Usually Caleb is still sleeping by then (and Corey is sleeping right next to him) so he gets to stay home. Today though he got up with me at 6:30 so I decided to get him dressed and have him come with me. Goodness I’m so glad I did.

Dani and I always stand in front of these stairs/this ramp while we wait for the bus. While their was snow I’d throw her on top of the snow and chase her around a little but mostly it was just cold and we would just stand there and shiver. This morning though, these kids had an absolute blast. They were playing “tag” and the side walk was safe. They had to keep running up the ramp though and the stairs were off limits because they were too dangerous to run on.

The kids set all the rules, Caleb didn’t even try to run into the street, and for the whole ten minutes we were out there neither got bored. It was their imagination that fueled the fun. I could have said, “No, no, kids. That’s not our stairs. Stay down.” I could have said, “I don’t think so Caleb, those stairs are too dangerous for you.” I could have said, “It’s too dangerous being near the road, come stand with me.” I mean, Caleb’s only one. Trusting him to run around near a road makes me incredibly nervous.

I trust them though. I trust them to make good choices. I trust that Dani wont let Caleb get hurt. I trust that they wont be too loud in front of someone’s house. I trust that they are capable little people who aren’t going to get hurt from running around on a few stairs and a ramp. That trust allows their creativity to shine, for them to learn important things such as boundaries, and to grow as people in general.

I just wanted to share this happy little moment in my day. These kiddos make me so happy and proud to be a part of their lives.

Caleb Outside

Touched Out

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Around a year old Caleb weaned himself at night. I have had some fabulous nights of sleep. Even better, he sleeps from about 11pm till at least 8am the next morning usually. Two naps during the day, nursing intermittently… it works really well for both of us. Yesterday though…

Caleb decided he needed a nap at nine last night, didn’t wake up when his daddy got home, and went straight from the nap to bed with me. Five this morning I was regretting that terribly. He was WIDE awake and wanted nothing more than to nurse, snuggle, play, and kick me out of bed so that we could go play in the living room. Once we got into the living room, the little man was a total boob hound. Finally…

I turned Doc McStuffins on the TV and I took a shower. I was feeling frazzled, angry, exhausted. I was mad at him for wanting to meet his basic needs. I was mad at myself for thinking how mad I was at him and I realized that being mad at him was ridiculous and horrible but I couldn’t help it. All I could think was how touched out I was. I didn’t get enough sleep, I didn’t get woken up nicely like usual, and I needed a break.

Hours later I’ve come to the conclusion that all of those feelings are okay. I didn’t act on them in any way that could hurt my child. I didn’t scream at him or say things that would hurt his feelings. I just went and took a shower. I took the time to walk away from the situation, calm down, and move on. When I got out of the shower I took him in my arms, nursed him peacefully, and funny enough he fell asleep for a nap. I’m absolutely convinced that the reason he was acting out was because he could feel my frustration and the energy was hurting him.

When you’re this frustrated, when you feel like you’re going to break, take a step back. Go do something for you. Put your kiddo in a safe and entertaining place first of course, but the best thing you can do for the both of you is to take the time you need.

Uh Oh, Discipline Vs. Punishment

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Before Caleb was born Corey and I had this crazy idea about spanking. What was so crazy about it? We thought it was a great idea. Why did we think that exactly? Why did we think that hitting a small child who can’t fight back would be a good idea? Why did we have no problem with that when hitting any adult would be considered assault and have a chance of landing us in jail? Well, it’s what our parents, like most parents, did. We didn’t seem to have any negative outcome from being spanked.

Caleb was born and we fell in love and after hearing the argument against spanking of, why hit a child when anyone else would be illegal, we decided spanking was a huge no. From there I wanted a better reason than just a gut feeling for when people asked me why we wont spank. Here’s a great resource: https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/pages/Spanking-Linked-to-Mental-Illness.aspx

That left us with the question of how to discipline our little boy. I started to research the different methods out there and something that really stood out to me was the difference between Discipline and Punishment. The easiest way to put it I think is that Discipline is teaching a child how to act the way they are expected to in a positive way rather than making them feel bad about themselves without really learning a lesson. Punishment is often associated with the negative and ends up with a child thinking, “Mommy’s so mean!” Discipline often ends with a child understanding what they have done wrong and learning how to be “better.” I’m no expert, I really can’t put into words as well as I’d like to the difference, but it is an important one.

Right now Caleb is 18 months old and kind of a trouble maker. He has no fear which unfortunately means my daily level of fear has gone up three fold. Climbing, all the time, is all he wants to do and frankly it just isn’t safe. He’s already gotten himself a good shiner from climbing on his desk and slipping as he tried to get down. How do we keep him from climbing on things when he wont listen, like any normal 18 month old, to our requests to do just that?

This is where Discipline comes in. Frankly there aren’t a lot of things you can do. We’ve already said no to spanking (which includes popping or slapping any part of his body.) He’s too young to really understand how serious I am when we say no. So what is there to do? Science has shown a big reaction like yelling or freaking out will only reinforce the action. Children are looking for a reaction. Good or bad, any reaction will make them want to do the action more. That’s not to say when they aren’t being safe that you should just ignore it.

The worst place my son like to climb is our tv stand. It’s narrow, the TV could tip on him, and it’s higher up than he could fall without being hurt. Whenever he climbs up there, which is getting less and less thankfully, I take him down without saying a word or without any expression on my face. I sit him down on the couch with me and that’s that. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but please remember that he is only a year and a half old at this point. How much does he really understand? Right now the best way to keep him safe and out of trouble is to take him away from the situations.

Same goes for when we are out in public. The whole, I’m not getting my way and want to throw a tantrum, thing started a couple of months ago. We ignore it and walk away. That fit ends within seconds. He gets himself together and follows us after he sees that he isn’t getting a reaction and that we’re leaving. We could make a big deal about it, try to drag him onto his feet, yell at him… It wouldn’t have the effect that walking away does.

So, what happens as he gets older? Right now I watch a five and ten year old regularly. I have to take a very different tactic with them. They can understand when I say no. They know right from wrong. Again, hitting isn’t even on the spectrum of a solution. What is a solution, and has worked amazingly on both of these kids, is something that just felt right to me. If they lie, don’t listen, throw a fit, or anything else that requires discipline I tell them in an even voice to sit down. The first week or two that I was watching them they would sit down and have a tantrum in the chair. Yelling, hitting it, telling me how mean I am. I’d let them throw the fit and I’d just wait. Eventually they’d calm down and I’d just talk to them. I’d ask if they knew why I asked them to sit down. The five year old usually just shrugged her shoulders but the ten year old would tell me why. Either way I would tell them why I asked them to sit, explain why I didn’t like that action, and I’d ask if they thought they should be doing it. If they said no, they could go do something else. The ten year old I’d sometimes have do a chore like take out the trash. After that they wouldn’t do the action again. Months later, working with this form of Discipline, the kids have many an amazing transformation with me. I wish I could say more, but just know that the ten year old has become a whole different person.

It seems so simple, it almost seems like it isn’t discipline, but it works. There is a term I’ve heard used that I really love. “Train UP a child.” This means to show them how you’d like them to act and rather than telling them no all the time, telling them what you’d like to see instead. One great example is going to the grocery store. Rather than going in and saying to the children, “Don’t touch anything. Don’t run away from me. Don’t ask for anything.” try a more positive approach. “Please stay with me. Hand on the cart please. Sorry, we aren’t getting that this time. I understand you are disappointed but not this time.” It’s amazing what happens when you parent in a positive way.

These little changes, these simple ways of disciplining children, have made my life better and a lot less stressful and I hope it can help you as well.

Peacefully Disciplining a Toddler

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^^ My Friend’s Adorable Three Year Old ^^

Today I was asked by someone on another site, “How Do You Discipline Toddlers?” I’m sure you all know that I don’t have one but what you don’t know is that I have a pretty good answer and many good role models to help me answer this question. No matter what age, this is a good way to look at it, but toddlers bring a whole different factor in, and that is their inability to understand that they are doing anything wrong.

Between the ages of two and four the main thought process a toddler has is based on discovery. Cause and effect play into a lot of what they do. If they wear this outfit, crazy as it is, they thought it was pretty and people will applaud them for it. This helps develop their ability to make decisions but their bases on that decision is impulse versus background knowledge. They don’t consider that pink and purple go well together because they are complimentary or considered girly. They simply see it, think ooo pretty, and put it on.

This goes right along with them “misbehaving.” I can’t use the words “being bad.” No child is bad. Children do not mean to give us a hard time, they simply have a hard time themselves. There are only so many words they can use to describe their feelings and needs and this often produces a lot of frustration. One way to get that frustration out is by “acting out” in their own way which can show in a tantrum or doing an action they have been told not to just to get your attention.

Rather than telling these children, who have feelings and just want your love and attention, that they are bad, the absolute best way to remedy a situation is to redirect. If they are throwing a fit ask them why. Try to understand what the problem is. Ask questions. Are you hungry? Are you hot? Are you tired? Is there a different game you would like to play? Children often get overwhelmed trying to figure out what they want so if you give them options at least they have a base to try to explain what is going on with them. If this doesn’t work and they continue having a hard time, it is your job to make the decision for them to do something else. Set them up with something fun. Completely ignore what they were doing before and show them something productive and fun that they can do instead.

Something I’ve seen work wonders is the “Relaxing Jar.” You take a mason jar, fill it with water, a bunch of glitter glue, regular glitter in different sizes and shapes, and a squirt of food coloring. These work instead of time outs. They are not a punishment. They are a way to let the child chose to calm themselves down. You let them hold the jar and turn it upside down. Ask them to watch the glitter fall from one side all the way to the bottom. It’s amazing how quickly the child will get focused on it and forget there even was a problem. I’d say this is a last choice for me because I’d prefer to fix the situation and validate the child rather than just distract them but whatever works for you instead of getting mad is great.

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Once your child is older you can restrict things. They will be old enough to understand why you are doing it. At the toddler age though, the only thing taking away their property does or putting them in a corner does is create resentment. They aren’t thinking, oh I did this so now I’m in trouble. They are simply thinking, mommy and daddy are mean. This makes them much less likely to want to come to the parent when they do need help because they don’t trust they are going to get what they need or the respect/validation they crave.

So, take some time to help your child work through their troubles instead of putting on the dictatorship hat. It will benefit you both by removing the frustration from the situation. Kids are not out to manipulate or hurt you. They are so much more innocent than that. They are just learning how to act, so give them a good role model to learn from.

Thank You for Reading!

 

Cry it Out? No Thank You!

cioThis is one post when I have to admit, I am judging you if you do use the cry it out method. I’ll be honest. I’m 100% against it. There are zero positives in support of it. On the other hand there are a billion reasons why you shouldn’t use it and there are many other ways to soothe a baby in a healthy and supportive way that helps build confidence rather than making them miserable.

I’ve talked about my son being confident. He is held, coddled, breastfed, worn, and shown love whenever he needs it. When he would “fuss” before a nap or when he’s tired I would rock him and soothe him. Then, he’d go to sleep. Why would he not fight it? Because I didn’t force him to. I didn’t say, I’m the parent and the boss and you have to sleep right at this moment so I’ll make you stay in here alone to cry which does nothing but upsets you more and lose trust in me knowing I wont come give you the soothing you are begging for. Instead, because I would go to my fussing child, who like any baby knows that mommy or daddy is the most important person in their life, he realized that he could trust me to make him feel better. A baby’s natural instinct is to need mom and dad. They aren’t being bad. They don’t know any better and why would they? They spent the first nine months of their life inside of mom. Why would they know the outside would be any different? They wouldn’t. My son knows that he can go off and play but if he is hungry or tired his needs will be met right away because I’ve gained that trust and through it he has gained the confidence to not need to be in my arms 24/7. He doesn’t have to fight for it so doesn’t seem so needy.

Here on the other hand are a few of the terrible affects Cry it Out can have on a child:

1) Science has proven that excessive crying causes blood pressure to rise causing the blood to flow slower through the brain and make it so much harder to breath for the child permanently. Science also shows that parents who use the CiO method are 10x more likely to have children that develop ADHD.

2) The emotional and physical development can be stunted making it harder for them to become independent people.

3) The saddest in my opinion, is that although the crying may eventually stop, it isn’t because the needs or problem have been resolved. The crying stops because baby has given up hope. All this does is create a distant child who isn’t close with their parents.

4) There is no parent child trust relation. The child is less likely to come to the parent in time of need. This includes when they are a teenager in danger of going down the wrong path.

5) When you don’t respond to cries the child becomes less self assured. This has been shown to stop them from becoming more out going, creative, popular, and well-adjusted people.

6) Half of the time, it doesn’t work at all. The baby will just keep going, crying on and on, creating much more stress for everyone involved.

7) Even if it “works” it isn’t a permanent fix. Parents have to do it again and again, listening to their child suffer over and over.

8) Children have the same feelings we do. Just because we think they wont remember ten years from now doesn’t mean those feelings of abandonment wont hurt them over time.

9) Something terrifying is that the rate of SIDs goes up with cry it out families. Due to the crying causing stress and trauma, children often fall into a deeper sleep and stop breathing. Not only are they in their own sleep space where you risk not catching it, but it’s much more likely to happen.

Now, I understand that not everyone is going to co-sleep. I understand not everyone will find their grove. But please, don’t let your baby cry it out. There is no benefit. It is completely unnatural and it’s a real way to torture your child with. I can tell you first hand that the CiO method does not work the way so many people believe it does. Instead it makes life harder in all aspects. You will have a fussier, less energetic and confident child on your hands. Just give the peaceful approach a try. I know you have things you have to get done and that nap and bed time can be important, but over all shouldn’t your child come first?

Thanks for Reading Everyone. Let Me Know What You Think.