The Honest Mommy

Uncensored thoughts on parenting & more

A nap for baby Mark — let’s hope this works January 29, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 4:45 pm
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Today I am trying something special to try to get my baby the nap he needs while also being on time to pick up my oldest from preschool. I am hoping he will fall asleep for his nap in his infant seat so that when it’s time to leave the house, I can just pick him up and go.

The Podee bottle helps with this because little Mark can eat himself to sleep (that is his favorite way to fall asleep). The author of Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child says that sucking is a natural way for infants to fall asleep, and there is nothing to be gained from fighting it. I say, Amen!

On a side note, some people don’t like the Podee bottle because they say it promotes laziness and prevents bonding with your child. While I can understand their concerns, I find the Podee to be indispensible and I know that I spend plenty of one-on-one time with my baby. It makes for a calmer, happier family (and mommy) when I can run to the store knowing that if Mark gets hungry en route, I can plug him into the Podee instead of putting everything to a halt so I can feed him. Frankly, since Mark takes 3-4 short naps per day, it is hard enough finding an opportunity to run an errand now and then!

UPDATE: Mark did fall asleep for a short nap (30 minutes) in his car seat. I think this will become normal operating procedure on preschool mornings, at least until he outgrows the infant seat.

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Thoughts for today

Ugh, the dreary winter is starting to get to me. It’s getting harder to find the motivation to get things done, to spend the required time pumping breastmilk, and to take care of myself.

Babysteps!!!!

If I can stay focused & motivated for just five minutes at a time, and manage to avoid too many interruptions as well, I will get through today. I might even manage to do a simple exercise DVD.

 

Feeling mommy-fatigue and mommy-anxiety January 27, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 2:23 am
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I certainly got hit with a case of the blahs tonight. My 3-month-old had a horrible day with regard to naps, and my 3-year-old didn’t nap at all. To top it off, I am still worn out from staying out “late” on Saturday night (11 p.m.). By the time my husband got home around 5:30 p.m. today, I was catatonic. Fortunately I got to crawl into bed for 20 minutes or so before hubby had to leave again. I just hope that my 20-minute recharge won’t mess with me falling asleep tonight.

Interestingly, I got hit with a bit of anxiety around 7:00 p.m. I had horrible anxiety the first few days home from the hospital, back in October, but really haven’t had much since. I’m sure it’s no coincidence that I am physically so worn out right now. The apparent source of my anxiety was that I was feeling overwhelmed with the long-term responsibilities of having two kids (anyone with 3+ kids is probably laughing while reading this).

I guess that as a mom, I feel responsible (along with my husband) for everything regarding my kids, including their future success in life (what if we don’t provide them with enough opportunities, etc. etc.). Part of me thinks this is hogwash, but part of me still worries, somehow.

With any luck, I’ll get a good night’s rest tonight and things will seem a little brighter in the morning.

As for this anxiety, it is an unwelcome visitor that, fortunately, is usually kept at bay. I have to keep an eye on it, though. I can really understand why some people have persistent problems with it. The first few days postpartum, it was so intense that I was desperate for it to go away.

 

“Grandma’s Rule” is used every day at my house January 26, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 5:50 pm
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I really like to use what John Rosemond calls “Grandma’s Rule” which is, You may get what you want after you do what I want you to do.

I think this can be used with kids a good deal younger than most people think. It is especially useful for things like getting kids to pick up their toys. I routinely have my 3-year-0ld pick up his toys or puzzles before he gets his mid-morning snack, for example. Or, if my son asks for a toy that’s tucked away in our storage area, I am more than happy to get it out for him after he puts away what he has been playing with.

All in all, after a certain age (three, perhaps), I have never found it acceptable for my son to refuse to do as he’s asked, assuming it’s a reasonable request. This applies to things like putting away his toys, brushing his teeth, taking a bath, and, nowadays, doing his routine of four daily chores. Grandma’s Rule works hand-in-hand with these sorts of things.

A twist on Grandma’s Rule can be used for certain “battles” that are bound to come up with toddlers and preschoolers. For example, my son sometimes makes an issue out of putting his shoes on (which are velcro, and he can manage entirely on his own). In order to take away the audience and power struggle aspect of things, I will put him in his room or in the bathroom with his shoes, with the instructions to come out after he’s put his shoes on. In other words, you can do whatever you want (come out of the bathroom) after you’ve done what I want you to do (put on your shoes). [This suggestion was given to me personally by John Rosemond, and I thank him for it.] This strategy works very well the vast majority of the time.

It drives me batty to see someone else, like my mother-in-law, hover over him and try to “talk him into” doing as he’s told. Giving even more attention to a child who is being defiant (let’s call a rose, a rose) just adds fuel to the fire. Better to remove yourself, a.k.a. the audience, from the equation, and let the child work things out himself, whenever possible.

These strategies are wonderful ways for me to keep my cool, which is at the root of being a good leader. Instead of hovering over and micromanaging my son, I try to remember to give him an instruction and walk away, leaving him to do things on his own. If he chooses not to follow instructions, he will not get what he wants.

After all, isn’t this how the real world works?

 

Children’s behavior: “Normal” is not the same as “Acceptable” January 24, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 1:12 am
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Now that my son is 3 1/2 years old, I am starting to understand why the common wisdom in days gone by was “Children should be seen and not heard” and “Children need to know their place.” There are days when it seems like my son never stops talking, never stops asking questions (the kind of questions that go on and on for no particular reason). Or, the kind of questions that make me feel I can’t blink my eyes without my son asking, “What are you doing?”, “What’s that?”, or “Where are you going?”

Part of raising kids is helping them learn how to be respectful, and, frankly, pleasant to be around. And, part of treating someone with respect is understanding how your actions are affecting the other person. In general, I cut my son some slack (he is only three, after all), but there comes a point where I will not accept his nonstop questions or nonstop talking.

Let’s say I had the chance to be in the same room with someone who I felt deserved a lot of respect. For the sake of this example, I’ll pick President Obama. Regardless of whether I’m a big fan of him personally, he is the President and is entitled to respect.  Now, how am I going to behave in his presence? Am I going to ask him nonstop questions? Am I going to subject him to my nonstop chatter? Definitely not! To do so would not be showing the President the respect he deserves.

Now, my son is only three, so how can I expect him to have the understanding and self-control of an adult? After all, isn’t it normal for a child this age to talk a lot, and ask a lot of questions?

Well, of course it’s normal. But my point is, there is a difference between normal and acceptable. As parents, we need to remember that it is our job to work with our children’s natural tendencies and compel our children to behave pleasantly. There is a time to shrug our shoulders and say, “Kids will be kids!” (For example, most two-year-olds don’t have the capacity to understand things like sharing.) But there is also a time to say to ourselves, “My child is old enough to start learning how to handle him/herself properly in this situation. Starting today, we are going to work on this particular issue.”

In a future post, I will elaborate on how I deal with my son’s wish to ask nonstop questions.

 

BabySteps to take care of myself January 23, 2009

My life has been crazy ever since my second child was born in October. In addition to the usual new-baby craziness, I also have chosen to pump breastmilk for about 2 hours per day, since I wasn’t willing to go through the pain of direct nursing. I could never have anticpated how challenging this would be.

Most days, it is nearly impossible to even leave the house (unless we have no choice), because it is so difficult to find a time when my oldest isn’t napping, my baby isn’t napping, or my baby doesn’t need to be soothed into a nap in the next 45 minutes. It is a nasty winter here, and baby Mark takes many short naps each day. If his nap rhythm gets disturbed, there is a high price to pay the rest of the day. If I do manage to dash out to the store with both kids in tow, it is a race to get home and get baby Mark down for his nap before he becomes overtired and difficult to soothe.

Now, at 13 weeks postpartum, I am starting to try to take care of myself again. I joined Weight Watchers a few weeks ago and am slowly working on the 30 lbs I need to lose. As I explained to my husband, we can spend $40 per month on Weight Watchers, or we can start to revamp my entire wardrobe! Fortunately, he is very supportive, which makes it much easier to stay on-plan.

I have pulled out some exercise DVDs and have started with a very easy one: Leslie Sansone Walk the Walk. There was a time in my life when I wouldn’t have bothered with something so easy, but I have learned the value of starting small and simple — BabySteps, as FlyLady puts it.

Each day I make a good effort at my FlyLady routine (clean kitchen, shine sink, shine bathroom, one load of laundry, swiffer floors), and congratulate myself for what I do manage to get done instead of beating myself up for not having a cleaner house. If I can tackle something further, such as decluttering a drawer or a surface, so much the better.

This is not an easy time in my life, to be sure, but I am thankful to have a wonderful husband, two healthy kids, and the opportunity to be at home with them full-time. As with so many things in life, the most important thing is the attitude that I bring to my daily struggles.

To all the moms and dads who are reading this, what do you do to take care of yourself? What are the attitudes, sayings, etc., that help you get through your day?

 

Too tired to pick up his toys? January 21, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 11:14 pm
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Unlike many parents, I don’t even pretend that our household is a democracy. Our household is a benevolent dictatorship, and my husband and I are the dictators.

For that reason, as much as I can, I expect my 3-year-old to do as he’s told right away and without complaint. (If you think that sounds a bit over the top, just ask yourself what sort of child you prefer to be around.) So, when we run into problems in this area, it helps if I can think creatively and quickly. Just this afternoon, I told Adam it was time to clean up the toys that he had brought out to the living room. Quick as a wink, he insisted that he was playing with those toys and therefore couldn’t put them away. (I learned long ago not to be drawn into arguments about this kind of thing.) I just repeated the directions, giving him the option to choose which thing to put away first. He then said he was “too tired” to clean up.

Being the no-nonsense sort of mother that I am, I directed him to he spend the next ten minutes lying in bed, since he was supposedly so tired, with no toys or books. At one point I discovered that he had grabbed a book and was looking at it, so I re-set the timer and explained to him what was going on.

Wouldn’ t you know it, after his obligatory rest, he had more than enough energy to put away his toys. And I just bet that for a good long time to come, he will decide it’s worth his while to just do as he’s told.

In my experience, remaining calm (empathetic, even) and implementing meaningful conseqences goes a long way toward compelling a child to behave like a pleasant human being. I also believe that in most cases, a parent has to either “pay now, or pay later” (thus saith John Rosemond). That is, it might be “easier” to let things slide at the moment, but sooner or later, the child’s behavior has to be addressed.

In today’s world, it seems that more and more children are starting preschool or kindergarten without having learned how to behave civilly and show basic respect to the adult(s) in charge. Sadly, my nephew is one of these children, and he is repeating kindergarten because of it. His well-meaning parents have put so much emphasis on his creativity and self-esteem that they completely missed the mark in insisting that my nephew show respect to his own parents and, of course, to other adults.

Here’s hoping that parents will wake up and realize that trends may come and go, but children who know how to listen, stick with a task, and have self-control will always have the edge when it comes to growing into successful adults. Behaving civilly does not mean being brain-dead and not creative. Quite the opposite, in fact.