The Honest Mommy

Uncensored thoughts on parenting & more

Chores are good for a 3-year-old’s soul February 27, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 5:56 pm
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One of the big issues I have with my 3 1/2-year-old is that he gets bored (apparently) and therefore bothers me with questions, requests, and so on. “Mom, what’s that? Where are you going? Why did you put that there?” and so on, are typical questions.

I can only take so much of feeling like he’s watching my every move. Plus, I believe that at his age, he is capable of entertaining himself for long periods of time (an hour, for example) without engaging me in what he’s doing. I have various strategies to deal with him being underfoot, but one that came to light this morning is giving him chores to do.

I have a set of four chores that I intend for him to do every day (unfortunately, we don’t always get around to them, but I need to do a better job of being consistent). He is capable of doing these chores on his own, but not always willing. It is my job to insist that he do his chores. I don’t concern myself with what order they are done in, and when possible, I don’t worry about how much dilly-dallying he does. However, if he is supposed to be doing his chores but he is making a nuisance of himself, then I get involved. My goal is for him to learn that Mom getting involved is not in his best interest.

(This is something that I learned from John Rosemond: Today’s parents tend to believe that being as involved as possible is a good thing, whereas parents of the past understood that their children need as much independence as possible.)

Anyhow, the thought rolling around in my head this morning is that I need to be consistent with him doing his regular chores every day, and I also need to come up with some chores for him to do when he seems to need something to do. As in, the old fashioned parenting practice wherein a child wasn’t too likely to tell his parent that he was bored, lest he be put to work! Ideally, these chores will be not a lot of fun (they can’t involve the vacuum cleaner, for example, since he loves the vacuum) and they will not require involvement from me.

One of my ideas is to get out a denture brush that I use for cleaning, and the chore will be to scrub the grout on our kitchen floor. No water, soap, etc., will be involved, because frankly, it will be too messy and too much fun for him, and more work for me. Of course, the grout won’t really get cleaned, but Adam will get the idea that the alternative to him playing on his own is not a lot of fun.

It is my impression that parents of past generations had no qualms about doing this sort of thing, and I won’t, either.


Go me! and, thoughts on decluttering February 20, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 9:21 pm
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Today I have weeded out at least 20 books to get rid of. It feels good!

Also, after my husband got home from work, he went through DVDs and chose about ten to get rid of, including some boxed sets. He picked out a bunch of CDs to get rid of as well.

It always amazes me how much stuff we find to get rid of. As in, why didn’t I get rid of this the last time I went through this stuff? I have certainly found it to be the case that decluttering happens in stages. On one particular day, I might not be ready to get rid of something. Three months later, I have no problems parting with that same item.

It’s interesting what things go through my mind while decluttering. Some things are hard to get rid of, because doing so would be admitting that I never am going to read that book, pursue that hobby, and so on. Getting rid of certain things seems to represent a failure to live up to my own expectations, or even to others’ expectations.

For example, I took a watercolor class with my MIL a few years ago. I still have all of the supplies, but I haven’t touched them since the class ended. It isn’t likely that I will pursue watercolor painting anytime soon, or ever. And since my relationship with my MIL has gone down the tubes over the past year or so, it isn’t likely that we will spend time together doing this hobby. Wow — I really should get rid of that stuff!


Success with John Rosemond’s ticket system February 18, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 5:56 pm
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I have written before about using John Rosemond’s ticket system with my 3 1/2-year-old son, Adam. It has worked wonders for us.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I decided that Adam’s habit of not listening to directions and being sassy was getting out of hand. We agreed one evening that we had to be diligent in using the tickets the next day. The tickets are just notecards taped up to a cabinet. The rule is that when Adam does not follow directions, breaks a known rule, or acts sassy, he loses a ticket and goes into his timeout chair for 5 minutes.

Now, here is the really important part: after losing all of his tickets in one day, he has to spend the rest of that day in his room with no toys. This was the part that he didn’t quite connect with the tickets yet, and that was our, the parents’, fault. As a result, he wasn’t too concerned about losing tickets, because spending time in the naughty chair is not a very memorable consequence.

It took two (nonconsecutive, as it turned out) afternoons spent in his room for him to really, really get the message that losing tickets is not a good idea. Both times, when he realized that losing his last ticket meant an afternoon of sheer boredom, he cried, he shouted, he begged… the whole works….but we did not budge.

Nowadays, I am happy to say, he is very, very interested in keeping all of his tickets. (We began with five tickets, and have pared it down to four.) This means that the incidences of him being sassy or defiant have been drastically reduced, and the whole house has become a happier place. And Adam himself has become a happier child, by all appearances.

I want to add that many parents find the idea of putting a child in his room, with only books for entertainment, for an entire day to be out of the question. For me personally, it took some time for me to come around to the idea, but now I am so glad that I did. Children have to know that you mean business. Children have to know that their actions have very real and very un-fun consequences.

There is nothing cruel about spending a day in a temperature-controlled, safe, and comfortable room. In fact, there are millions of children around the world who would give anything to experience that luxury, especially when there are colorful, interesting children’s books involved, not to mention the opportunity to eat your fill of healthy and tasty food at regular intervals.

Sometimes, making the decision for your child to experience something unpleasant is the most loving thing you can possibly do for your child. Sometimes it is necessary to step back and reconsider what is really “cruel” vs. what we just don’t want to see our child experience.


My MIL, the expert on teething February 16, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 2:46 pm
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My MIL had a somewhat rough ride with the babysitting last night, but both boys were asleep by 8:30 p.m., so in the end it wasn’t too bad. When hubby and I got home, though, MIL and I had a classic, and I mean CLASSIC, exchange.

Mark, 3 1/2 months, seems to have started teething. He is chewing on things, drooling a lot, and uncharacteristically fussy. The topic came up, and I said something to the effect of, “Oh boy, here we go with teething.” I should have known not to even go there with my MIL. She responded, “Well, the first one or two will be the worst, then it will get better.” I said, “Later on, though, the molars will come in. Those will be the worst.”

I remember teething with my oldest, and it was not fun. Crabby when awake, not sleeping well, the whole works. We couldn’t wait until it was over.

But MIL is always right, so she couldn’t leave well enough alone. “Well,” she said, “at least at that age he’ll be more able to express himself, so it won’t be so bad.” Um, excuse me, but since when is a crabby, miserable toddler easy to deal with?

Good grief! This woman will stop at nothing to have the last word and to be “right.”

Regardless of what she apparently believes to be true, I have found that teething is a miserable experience for everyone, from the first tooth right on through to the last molar.


Oh, to be a fly on the wall this evening… February 15, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 10:51 pm
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Tonight, my mother-in-law is coming over to babysit both boys (ages 3.5 years and 3.5 months) and put them to bed while hubby and I have a night on the town. I must be in a really crabby mood today because I wish I could be a fly on the wall to see how this is all going to go. She had just one child (my husband, of course) so ever since our second child was born, I have felt like she really doesn’t understand what we’re going through — the thing to understand here is that she is one of those people who thinks she knows everything and has all the answers — no one else has any points worth considering, as far as she’s concerned.

For this reason, I have talked with her very little over the past few months. I just can’t endure the bits of wisdom that she spouts off. I find myself wanting to say, “Can’t you just listen to me for once? Can’t you just consider the possibility that I might know what I’m talking about?”

So anyway, when she spends time with my oldest son, Adam, she gives him all of her attention. I wouldn’t say that she spoils him, exactly (she does expect a lot when it comes to overall behavior), but she does give him ALL of her attention. In fact, if you as an adult are in the same room, you can oftentimes  just forget about trying to have a conversation with her.

So, how will she cope with having to care for Adam and also a crabby baby, at the same time? That is what I’d like to know. It’s not that I wish ill upon her, but I am so tired of her know-it-all attitude about all things parenting that I sure would like to see her walk a mile in my shoes.


Progress on taking care of myself

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 12:31 am
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The last month or so has brought good progress when it comes to taking care of myself.

1) Weight Watchers – I attend a meeting every week, and have lost 8 lbs so far. My husband is very supportive of my efforts and doesn’t complain about the fees. This means the world to me. Truthfully, the only way I can manage to eat healthfully and watch my portions is by relying heavily (and I do mean heavily) on frozen prepared meals. Even then, some days it is a challenge to just heat up and eat a meal. I haven’t quite figured out why I’m so crunched for time — partly due to pumping breastmilk 2 hours per day, I’m sure.

2) Exercise – Well, something is better than nothing, right? I manage to do a 12-minute strength training DVD from about 3 times a week. It doesn’t sound like much, but the fact that I am doing even this small amount of exercise makes a big difference in my overall attitude. This is something that FlyLady has taught me – congratulate yourself instead of beating yourself up.

3) Sleep – Most night I am in bed with lights out by 9:30 p.m. This is so important, I can’t stress it enough. I’ve been using the meditations that I mentioned in an earlier post, and they are very helpful, especially for getting back to sleep after my middle-of-the-night pump. It is tough to stick with this early bedtime; it certainly puts a damper on the few social opportunities that come my way. But I have found that it is just not worth it to me to stay up late even one or two nights per week, since it takes days for me to feel decent again.

Overall I am very happy with my progress. Of course, I would still like to have less stress, more sleep, more free time, etc., but at least I’m on the right track.


Too many toys? Part II February 5, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 10:29 pm
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Nearly every parent knows what it’s like to feel overwhelmed by toys. Toys in bedrooms, toys in living rooms, toys in the tub – just too many toys all over the place. John Rosemond promotes an approach to toys called the Toy Library.

In this system, the child “checks out” one toy at a time from the Toy Library. When the child is done, s/he returns it in exchange for a different toy (usually with assistance from a parent, especially for younger kids). (A small assortment of Hot Wheels would count as one toy; a set of blocks would count as one toy.)

I have never followed through with this system because I couldn’t think of a way to make it feasible on a day-in, day-out basis. However, a few days ago I began to use a modified version of the Toy Library.

1. I pared down the toys in 3-year-old Adam’s room to: markers, crayons, & paper; a bin of misc. things such as empty coffee cans and empty boxes; plus 1-2 toys such as a set of Legos and an assortment of Hot Wheels. (I didn’t change anything with regard to the 30 or so books in his room.)

2. All other toys, I stashed away in our basement.

3. Adam is welcome at any time to request a toy from the basement. He needs to trade in one of the toys from his room (Legos, for example) in order to get the new toy. Naturally, this requires him to pick up and put away what he had been playing with. This is where I do a happy dance.

The benefits of this system are many. I think he appreciates his toys more, when they aren’t stuffed into every available space in his room. I should mention that since we have a small house, his bedroom is also where all of his toys are kept, aside from the toys that are stored in the basement. Using this sytem, he is required to keep his room and our main floor quite tidy because there simply aren’t a bazillion-and-one things for him to strew about. Also, I think he plays more creatively when we use this system.

It is a bit more work for me, but I think all in all, it nearly evens out in the end because I don’t have to deal with a bazillion-and-one toys all over the place.


A new tool for being kind to myself February 4, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 9:46 pm
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While looking around on the iTunes store last night, I came across an album called Stress Relief with Dr. Siddharth Ashvin Shah – Guided Meditation Using Self Hypnosis Techniques and Yoga Nidra Relaxation.

I figured that I had nothing to lose by buying 2 tracks for 99 cents each. I’m glad I did. So far the tracks have helped me fall asleep at bedtime, fall asleep after getting up in the middle of the night to pump breastmilk, and rejuvenate in the middle of the day. I’m amazed at how good I feel (of course, it also helps that I went to bed before 9 p.m. last night).

I plan to buy more from this series. This frazzled, worn-out mom needs all the help she can get.


“The doctor” works a miracle February 3, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 11:49 pm
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After my 3-year-old’s nap this afternoon, he became less and less interested in playing on his own, and more and more interested in doing things like flopping around on the furniture, pestering me with questions, and generally being underfoot. I reminded him several times that he needed to play on his own, to no avail.

Enter: The Doctor, a strategy suggested by John Rosemond, in which a phone call to “the doctor” compels a child to do the right thing. I don’t use this very often, but when I do, it is fabulously effective.

I faked a phone call to The Doctor in which I explained that my 3-year-old seemed unable to play on his own for some reason; he also had an affinity for flopping around on the furniture. After asking me a few questions, the doctor recommended that if this continued, he was to go to bed early, since children who act this way are tired and need extra sleep.

Lo and behold, when I passed this information along to my son, he was immediately able to play on his own, very cheerfully, for long stretches! Several times I have seen him lose interest in his activities and start to try to engage me, but he apparently remembers the doctor’s Rx and is, miraculously, able to re-engage himself in his imaginative play.

I certainly am grateful for the doctor’s help this evening. With her help, my son is able to use his God-given imagination and attention span to their fullest potential. Indeed, I’d call her not just a doctor, but a miracle-worker.


The lying has begun

In my 3-year-old’s room, we have a nightlight that’s hooked up to a timer (the kind you hook up your lamps to when you’re on vacation). When his nightlight comes on in the morning, it is time for him to come out of his room. Until then, he is expected to stay in his room and play (relatively) quietly.

This morning, he opened his door at about 7:15 and said that his nightlight had come on. I wasn’t able to easily check because I always pump breastmilk at this time of the morning, this morning being no exception. I said, “Really? It turned on?” and he said, “Yes.” So I let him come out and have some breakfast that was sitting out for him, even though I thought it was about 15 minutes early.

A few minutes later, he said, “My nightlight isn’t on.” (Don’t you love how kids this age out themselves?) So I unhooked myself from the pump and went to check. Sure enough, it wasn’t on.

I then explained to him that he lied to me, why it was a lie, and what the consequence was: an extra half-hour in his room.

I doubt that he’ll lie about this topic anymore, but the next topic is sure to be just around the corner. Fortunately I know better than to freak out about this, since it’s perfectly normal (though not acceptable, of course). Per John Rosemond, I try to make consequences “memorable,” which is why I chose an extra 30 minutes in his room as opposed to, say, 5 minutes.