Thursday, December 8, 2016

Toddler Behaviors I "Go To The Mat" For {Guest Post}

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A few weeks ago, a mama in the Mama's Organized Chaos Discussion group on Facebook, posed a question:

"What fights aren't you willing to have with your toddler, and what ones will you go to the mat for??"

Here was my response:

"Safety (holding my hand when crossing the street, throwing things, etc)
Manners (saying please and thank you, saying sorry)
Listening to mama/daddy: if she tries to ignore anything really (I think this sets the stage for a lot so we are firm) with this said I try to only tell her to do things that's I feel are important (clean up, come to mama, etc)
Food: try everything offered once

Things I let go:
So much honestly!
Insisting on getting in her car seat by herself...Things like this she takes forever and it's hard to not intervene LOL but she's just in a stage where she wants to be independent so I let her try most things
Clothing/shoes unless she picks something that would leave her cold/uncomfortable in some way
Food: doesn't have to finish anything she doesn't want to (but i go to the mats for trying lol)

Great question btw! I might write a blog on this! Love it!! :-) I'm sure I'm forgetting something!"

I took a step back once I'd written my response. I realized that it sounded pretty harsh and very strict. Here's the thing that I realized though, I do pick my battles. But, once I've picked it, I try to be as consistent as possible and have consequences. So, I wanted to take a moment to discuss specific behaviors that we expect, and what our responses are if those expectations are not followed. I'll also talk about battles that I choose not to address. I wouldn't classify them as "things I let go" as I originally stated in my FB response, because the reality is that I never put an expectation out there that I had to let go of. I just know that these things would turn into battles that would not be worth anyone's time.

Behaviors I go to the mat for:

So my original list was really spot on, and it encompasses a LOT!
Before I go through these 4 things that I "go to the mat for", I feel it is important to point out that we try not to create battles in this house. We try to give our daughter ownership of her actions by providing her with choices whenever possible. I strongly believe you can avoid most battles simply by the way you approach situations.

1. Safety- Being safe is something we don't mess around with in this family. What we do, however, is give our daughter a heads up as to our expectations when in new environments. If I am expecting her to hold my hand, then I tell her that before we arrive at our location. I do try and provide options here if possible. "You can hold my hand and walk, or you can sit in the cart". She can choose which one she wants to do, and she is prepared to make her choice because we've talked about it ahead of time. She feels as if she's in control, because she's making the choice. This makes her much more likely to be happy about the situation.

Now think about how this situation could have gone differently: No heads up talk about expectations. We arrive where we are going and let's say she's refusing to hold my hand and running off. As a frustrated parent, it's easy to say "hold my hand and listen, or we are leaving". That is a threat, and somewhat confrontational. It happens to all of us, but the problem is that it results in an upset parent, and an upset toddler. It escalates a situation instead of diffusing it, and it may result in a toddler that starts throwing a tantrum- and then you really do end up leaving- which, obviously, isn't what you wanted to do. Or, you don't leave, leaving the "threat" just that- a threat that wasn't followed through on. This lessens the validity of your statement, and the next time it happens, your toddler will know you aren't really going to do anything. You do NOT want to go down that road, because the reality is that you might have to make a statement like this at some point, and you need your toddler to take you seriously.

A very similar situation happened to us recently. We were going on an evening walk at the golf course (one of our favorite things to do). It's never been a problem before, so I didn't think to give her a heads up about wearing her hat and mittens (this wasn't necessarily safety related, but obviously important in cold temperatures for a little one that doesn't know to express when they are cold). It was a cold evening and very windy, and she was refusing to wear them. We couldn't stay if she didn't wear them. She refused and lost it. Her choice was to wear the hat and gloves, or we go home. It was unfortunate, but that was the choice. We hadn't given her a heads up because we'd done this several times and never had an issue. She was crying and not stopping. We couldn't calm her down, and even with repeated attempts to explain the situation and give her a choice, she was not having it. We had to go home. It wasn't what any of us wanted, but it was our best option. We weren't trying to throw a threat out. We were telling her the reality and then following through on it. It doesn't always go as planned. The important part is to know the outcomes that you are ok with, offer your choice, and then follow through. 

2. Manners- Any time our daughter asks for something, the expectation is that she is to say please. If I offer her something and she doesn't want it, instead of screaming NO at me, she is expected to say "No thank you, Mama". If she is given something, the expectation is that she says thank you. She is expected to say hello and goodbye if asked to do so.

This is something we work on ALL OF THE TIME. My husband and I model these behaviors for her to one another, and also with her. If I ask her to do something, I always say please. I make sure it is a statement, not a request, but I still say please. I want these behaviors to be second nature to her, and I believe that will only happen if she sees Mama and Daddy saying these things as well.

This is another opportunity for a heads up on expectations. As we are headed to a friends house, I remind her that I'd like her to say hello to our friends when we arrive. "Caroline, when we get to ___'s house, I want you to say hello. Can you do that for me, please?". She usually makes a sound indicating yes. I then tell her to "Say 'yes, Mama', please". I don't consider the discussion over until I get a "yes, Mama" from her. This tells me that she understands. In a situation like this, if she doesn't say hello, I pull her aside and tell her that I'd like her to try when she feels comfortable. I then ask her again in a little bit. There is no consequence per say other than I tell her that I am disappointed if she didn't try. I explain to her why it is important that we say hello, and how it can make someone's day.

Now, let's say that my daughter politely asked Mama and Daddy for a cookie. We decided that she could have the cookie. We hand her the cookie and say "What do you say, Caroline?". If she doesn't say thank you, we remind her that she needs to "say thank you". If she refuses to say thank you, the cookie gets taken away. Yes, that makes her upset, and yes we are ok with that. She certainly doesn't need a cookie, but she does need to learn to say thank you.

3. Food- Food is something that I do not stress over. If our daughter does not eat her entire plate- no big deal. If she doesn't want to eat at all- no big deal. We don't do snacks. If she didn't eat and she's hungry later, she can have water and wait for the next meal. Here's what we do expect- she needs to TRY everything before she gets more of anything. If she wants more bread, she only gets it after she's at least tried everything else on her plate. Sometimes trying things results in her eating it because she realizes it is good! Sometimes she tries it and says that she doesn't like it. We are ok with that. I certainly don't want to be forced to eat things I don't like, so we don't force her to, either. If we can tell that she doesn't hate something, we go the "if you eat 3 bites of X, you can have more Y" route. It usually works great without creating an unneeded battle. For a more in depth look at our rules of the table, read about "5 Rules For Our (Almost) 2 Year Old to Encourage Good Eating Habits".

4. Listening- This is where I probably sound strict. Anything we tell her to do, she needs to listen. If we ask our daughter to do something, we expect her to do it. She needs to listen to us. If we say no, the answer is no. If we ask her to clean up, she needs to clean up. If we tell her it's time for bed, it's time for bed. Now, we don't just surprise her out of nowhere. The benefit of having routine in our life, is that our daughter knows what happens after dinner (that we all help and bring things to the kitchen to clean up). She can choose what she brings, but she is expected to bring something. She knows that when her clock turns blue in the evening, it is time for bed. She hears "No" enough, that it isn't life altering for her when she hears it.

Let's look at some specific examples:

  • She is playing with a toy at the store, and refuses to put it back on the shelf.
    If I know we are going to be at a toy store, I try and tell her ahead of time if we are not buying anything. If I forget to do that, I simply tell her in the moment that "We'll see it again another time", or "I'll put it on your list."

  • She doesn't want to go to bed. I validate her feelings. I say something to the effect of how I know it's hard to stop playing. I remind her we'll get to do this activity again tomorrow. I then revert back to a choice: "Do you want to go potty first, or brush your teeth?".

  • She doesn't want to clean up. Again, I validate her feelings. I also find a choice. "Do you want to pick up the blocks, or the stuffed animals?". Or I tell her "Mama will put away the blocks. You can put away the stuffed animals".  And yes, I always help at this age (2).

  • A recent example of follow through (but it didn't go smoothly): This morning, she was playing with a blanket in her shopping cart. She decided she was done with it and threw it on the floor in the middle of the kitchen. I asked her to put the blanket away if she was done with it. She immediately started crying and throwing a fit. I helped her calm down first, then I told her again that she needed to put the blanket away. I also took the time to explain to her that someone could trip on the blanket. She said "No, Mama do". Here was my choice that was offered up "Caroline you can either be done playing with the shopping cart and we'll put everything away, or you can go put the blanket away and come back". I was still met with "NO. Mama do.". I took the blanket, put it in her hands and told her to go put it away. She cried the entire time, but she walked over and started to put it away. She then threw it on the ground and again said "NO. Mama do!". At this point I was very firm and said "Caroline, put the blanket away, now. Mama didn't get it out, so I'm not putting it away". She was upset that I was upset and cried harder. I realized I needed to diffuse. I offered a hug to calm her down. She accepted. I then said, "Please put the blanket away", and I walked away. I gave her space to let her guard down and put it away. She put it away and came back to play with her shopping cart. Did it go perfectly? No. I followed through, however. I think that is very important. I wasn't about to just do it myself...then she learns nothing. I also wasn't about to just leave it on the floor. We have a small kitchen and I didn't want her sliding on it and falling (and no she's not old enough to learn from that and put 2 and 2 together to learn her lesson).

  • I ask her to come and she doesn't come. I repeat myself. If still nothing, I go get her and bring her to the spot that I wanted her to go to. I explain my expectations, again and get a "Yes, Mama" out of her to make sure she understands that she needs to listen to Mama. 
Does it sound harsh? Maybe. Is it important to be consistent and have high expectations? Yes. Children thrive with clear, consistent boundaries. Does it go smoothly every time? No. Do choices help? Yes. Does a heads up help prepare them? Yes. Will my daughter still throw tantrums? Yes. Will they be lessened by all that we do? Hopefully so. That's the goal! I think it works. She's very well behaved, and she learns things quickly because we practice often. She listens to me incredibly well compared to other's her age, and I feel that it is a direct result of our clear boundaries, high expectations, and approach with choices. Is she going to have bad days and good days? Of course! Am I going to have bad days and good days? Absolutely! There are days and moments that I forget my game plan and forget to offer a choice, or I forget to give her a heads up, or I overreact and get too upset at her reaction. I learn from it and I do better the next time.

Now, here's the list of things we "let go", or are flexible with:

1. Everything else. We don't ask our daughter to do something if we aren't willing to follow through. If the battle isn't worth it, we don't set the expectation to begin with. This requires that I think before I talk, so sometimes I mess it up. Here's the thing...if I mess up, I just admit it to her and move on, instead of creating an unwanted battle. I apologize and tell her I was wrong. Sometimes you just don't see it coming. Sometimes you say no to something and then realize that your child is crazy upset about it, and you didn't really care to begin with. It's ok to admit when you were wrong and move on.

If my daughter wants to wear some crazy outfit, by all means wear the crazy outfit. It does not matter if it matches. My expectation is that it is appropriate (for the weather, and situation). If she's going to gymnastics, she needs to wear something she can move around in easily, something that won't get caught on things. If it's cold out, she needs to wear a jacket. If we are leaving the house, she needs to wear shoes. If we are in public, she needs to wear clothes. I keep my expectations simple. 

If she wants to climb into the car seat on her own, as long as it isn't freezing cold outside or we aren't late to get somewhere, what's it hurting? Sure, go ahead! If she insists on buckling the top buckle on the car seat, sure. Just do it. If she plays with it, it's my turn. 

If she wants to stop and sit on the sidewalk while we are on our walk- sure. It feels odd to just sit on the sidewalk, and I'd personally like to keep walking, but if we aren't in the way, let's do it. 

If she doesn't want to share her toy at the moment- that's ok. Not every moment needs to be a huge teaching moment on sharing. If she was on the other end and wanted a toy, I'd tell her she had to wait for the other child to be done with it. She needs to be nice about it, but she doesn't have to be done with the toy. 

If she doesn't want to hug her grandparents hello- totally fine. Again, she needs to say hello and be polite, but she doesn't have to hug anyone- ever. 

If she doesn't want to eat anything- also fine. She can eat or sit quietly.

If she wants to leave story time- sure, we just wait for an appropriate time to leave. We were there as a fun activity for her, so if she's not having fun, let's go. 

If she wants to drink from a specific cup- as long as it's clean, we can do that. I am not going to upset her just because I already had the blue cup out- it's an easy thing to switch and it will make her happy. 

You get the idea... we pick our battles and not everything is worth the energy. Sometimes, giving in or ignoring something that is an annoyance to you, will bring such happiness to your toddler. Drinking out of the pink cup made her day, but the blue cup was apparently the worst thing to happen to her. Unreasonable? Sure. But she's 2. And I'd give anything to see see a smile brought to her face like giving her the pink cup achieved! 

Katrina has a 2 year old daughter and blogs at Mama's Organized Chaos. She's a mama that breastfed, used cloth diapers, did sleep training, and loves Babywise!

Other posts of interest:

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Starting a Newborn Schedule/Routine {Poll Results}

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You want to just enjoy those early days or weeks with your baby, but you don't want to enjoy them so long that your baby has a hard time adapting to a routine later on. Oh when oh when should you start to worry about the newborn schedule/routine? Do you start to implement things right away, or do you wait before you worry about it? And if you wait, how long do you wait? How do you know when it is time to start a routine?

Parents often worry about these questions--even parents who are not having their first baby. We want to get it right, but we don't want to over-stress. We want to enjoy our newborn baby time, but we don't want to encourage bad habits that will make life hard for baby down the road.

This is the topic of our most recent poll. Here are the results.
  1. What age did you start to implement a routine/schedule with your newborn?
    At birth: 12
    4 Weeks: 3
  2. Was this a good age, or do you think you went too early or too late?
    Good Age: 13
    Too Early:
    Too Late: 2
  3. What drove you to start the routine/schedule at this age?
    Heard that age was good from others: 1
    It was natural: 5
    We had twins: 4
    Worried about starting too early: 1
    Wanted to improve on previous experience: 1
    Perfect age with previous babies: 2
  4. What did you early days of implementing routine/schedule look like?
    Amy said: "The early days, babies are so sleepy anyway, so the key was watching for sleepy signs and really getting her to sleep on time, as well as not killing yourself over sometimes when it didn't go perfectly."

    Scott and Whitney said: "I would nurse baby when she woke up. There was no set schedule but within a couple of weeks they were easily eating every 2.5 to 3 hours around the clock. After feeding I would change diaper and try to have some wake time (although in the beginning they were usually ready for bed after the diaper change). I would do a simple bedtime routine...swaddle, song, prayer and then lay down. If they woke "early' (within 2 hours of previous feeding) I would attempt to get them back to sleep either by rubbing their forehead, or holding them."

    Kate said: "We ate A LOT. I kept thinking that it was going to be nice when they started eating every 3 hours instead of every 2 hours. It also took a while to get the hang of breastfeeding so eating took a long time. I'd say at about 8 weeks old, feeding became easier and faster."

    Jessie said: "Mostly just nursing every 3 hours during the day and putting down to sleep when drowsy. I let all three children sleep as long as they like overnight."

    PESTAG said: "waking to feed, diaper change,nap, and do it all over again. There's not much waketime at the beginning, and it's not very exciting. We had to wake to feed at night up to 6 weeks which isn't the case for most people. "
  5. How did following a routine/schedule evolve over the newborn weeks?
    We got better at following baby: 1
    It got more consistent: 6
    It got easier: 4
    Actually had real wake times: 3
  6. Would you do it differently next time?
    Yes: 2
    No: 11
    Some Tweaks: 2
  7. Any words of advice?

    Amy said: "Really watch the child, work together to get the routine started. Also, the husband needs to be on board. That way, if things go awry, you can encourage each other rationally, move on together and keep getting better at managing LO's sleep."

    Scott and Whitney said: Start as you mean to go on. Try not to create habits you will later have to break. But also be flexible and enjoy your baby. My 3rd and (most likely) final baby is a perfect babywise baby but she was also held a ton. There were always a couple of times during the day in the very beginning where she did not sleep well on her own. It worked out the older ones were usually sleeping so I would hold her and enjoy the sweet newborn snuggles. I knew she would eventually outgrow the phase and she did.

    Kate said: "Now my girls are 15 months old and they tell me when it's time to eat/sleep/play. I'm so grateful I helped them benefit from the structure that comes with the schedule! They are happy and well adjusted!"

    Jessie said: "As you grow out of the newborn stage, don't stress so much about getting "perfect" naps. Yes, it's nice, but just take it one day at a time."

    PESTAG said: "Just do your best. Keep to an EWS and work on naps, but if they don't work out, it's ok. Talk to the doctor if you're concerned, even if it's "silly". They get paid for it. Keep the environment low key. Overstimulation is so easy for babies."

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Common Reasons for Poor Sleep

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Sleep can be all consuming when you are a parent of young children. When your baby or child starts sleeping poorly, you want it fixed immediately! The list of possible causes for this poor sleep can get quite long, however there are are some classic causes that I always list first when trying to troubleshoot the reason for poor sleep.

  • Growth Spurt or Hungry: Growth spurts happen usually every 3-4 weeks. That means your sleep routine will be frequently disrupted. Feed baby when baby is hungry. You might also find your baby was just a little hungrier one day. I often found this when I started my period. My cycle would cause dips in supply some days, and baby would be hungrier because of it.
  • Waketime Length is Off: If your waketime length is too short or too long, naps won't go well. As your child gets older, waketime length will also get longer. This continues on through the toddler and into the preschooler years. When your baby is young, there is a good chance you think she needs longer waketime lengths than she does.
  • Sick or Teething: An ear infection, cold, or new teeth are all very common reasons your child will stop sleeping well.
  • Pain: Gas pain and reflux pain can really interfere with good sleep. 
  • Stimulation Levels: Your baby might be overstimulated and this might be making it hard for her to sleep. On the other hand, your toddler might need more physical movement and stimulation to be tired enough to sleep.
  • New Skills: Learning to roll, sit, stand, crawl, wave, sing, and more can all lead to poor sleep. Practice these skills during awake time to help the bed seem like a less necessary and appealing location. 
  • Environmental Factors. Is baby too hot or cold? Is it too bright in the room? Does baby need the room quieter so she can sleep? What about the environment needs to be changed to make sleep work.
  • Wonder Week: There isn't a lot you can do about a wonder week. The good news is that it ends and you can make it through! 
  • Sleep Props: It might be time to ditch certain sleep props if your child can't sleep. This is especially true of pacifiers around four months old.
This graphic gives you a good, quick checklist whenever naps start not going well. Check these things first when you are troubleshooting why your child is not sleeping well anymore. Chances are you will find your solution in this list. 

 Troubleshooting Naps

Monday, December 5, 2016

Brinley Summary: 4 Years 4 Months Old

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This is a summary for Brinley in her fourth month as a four year old.

Brinley rarely ever sleeps at nap time these days. It amazes me how quickly they can just be done napping! She does have rest time each day, and amazingly, if she does not have her rest time, she is an emotional wreck in the evening. She seems to need that time alone in the afternoon to just sit still. 

Eating is the same. A fun and quirky thing about Brinley is the whole time she is eating, she goes, "Mmmmmmm" as she chews. She sure knows how to make someone feel good about their cooking! Haha.

Brinley is still in a mild phase of life where not much is going on. She takes dance once a week and has preschool three times per week. She also has her playgroup once a week. It is all going well. She is overjoyed every day that she has preschool. She literally jumps for joy and claps her hands each day.

A big part of her life is tagging along to the activities of her siblings. Over four weeks, we had fall basketball, and it was 2 games each Saturday for each child. We only had Kaitlyn and Brayden do fall basketball. So 4-5 hours depending on if there was a break in between or not. Brinley was a total champ! I wasn't sure how she would handle hanging out in a gym for 4 hours at a time, but she handled it well. One week we had a swim meet for four hours first, then two hours of basketball (Kaitlyn's games were during the meet). That week, I let her do some screen time during the last two games. I don't usually allow electronics during things like that, but sometimes I make an exception. 

Brinleys birthday is in the late summer, and of course that is a crazy and busy time of life. Because of that, I decided I would just wait until school started to make her doctor appointment. I called in when school started, and they were months out! We have always gotten in within a week or two. So we didn't make it in until this month. She was great. She was 75% for height, 50% for weight, and everything checked out. She got her Kindergarten shots. She was SO BRAVE! She got four different injections and she didn't even cry until number three. She said, "Hey! That hurts!" and started to cry. We had been watching the Daniel Tiger episode where he gets a shot, and I really think that helped her be brave. Here is her before and after:

Brinley is doing well in preschool and her teacher says she is a joy to have around. 

This time frame is really quite benign in my experience. When McKenna was this old, I forgot to do a summary for a few months because there wasn't much to report. I want you to know, however, that these months come where you look back and it went by without major changes or adjustments. Things change so much with babies and even toddlers from month to month that it is so nice to have some time once in a while where things don't change. 

Here is what was pretty consistent for non-school days:

8:30 or 9:00--wake up/get ready/eat breakfast
9:30--play with siblings
usually independent play for an hour in between now and lunch
12:00 --lunch. Then play.
4:30 or 5:00--Wake up. Eat dinner. Then family time.
8:00--Get ready for bedtime
8:30 or 9:00--Bedtime

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Thursday, December 1, 2016

#LIGHTtheWORLD Christmas Initiative

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I have never found it harder to have the Christmas spirit than I have as a mother. Ironically, I have never so desperately wanted that feeling in my home as I have as a mother. Christmas time as a mom is just different than it was as a child. You have so many details you are trying to attend to that it can be hard to find time to recognize what you feel. That is why I do all I can to have as much ready for Christmas as I can before December hits. I have a great idea for this year, though! If you are looking for a way to bring the Christmas spirit into your home this season, I think you will love this idea, too!

It is called #LIGHTtheWORLD. The idea is that Jesus Christ lit the world. He said that He is the light of the world. He also said that we are the light of this world. This Christmas initiative has 25 ways to light the world in 25 ways. Each day of December, there is a different theme for the day based on the life of Christ. There is a list of ideas for you to fulfill that theme, or you can come up with your own! 

I love this intensive focus on Christ each day. Each day of the month leading up to His birth, we will be focusing on Him each day. We will be trying to emulate Him each day. What better way to bring in Christmas, and what better way to give a gift to Him? "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me." 

Today is December first, so the first day. The theme today is "Jesus lifted others' burdens, and so can you." So today you would think of a way you can lift a burden. Do you have a neighbor who needs help shoveling a sidewalk? A friend who could use an hour off from her kids? A neighbor in need of a meal or some other treat? There are so many ways to serve. 

Watch Instagram for our updates on what we do each day. I am excited to see how this impacts our Christmas this year. 

There are SO MANY resources for you on the Internet. I will be using the ones found here. If you Google "#lighttheworld printout," you will find many more ideas. 

Here is to a brighter Christmas!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Traveling Sleep Hierarchy for Babies

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Traveling to see family or to go on vacations is (usually) a whole lot of fun! Great memories are made and bonds are strengthened. There is always concern, however, of how it will impact your life and your baby's life both during the vacation and after the vacation. Chances are you have made a lot of sacrifices to have your baby sleeping how she is, and the idea of negating that effort is scary.

There is also a very real, and justified, concern over how the baby will be while on vacation. Will baby sleep, or will baby be up all night crying? How will that impact the other people in the house? You don't want to keep everyone up. Will you even have fun if you are up all night with the baby (I have been on those trips that are not so fun for me because of things not going well with baby!)? Is it worth it?!? I mean, the packing list alone is enough to keep people home.

Despite those fears, concerns, and work, you have decided to go on a trip. I think that is a wise choice. At least give it a try and see how it works out. Now you are left wondering what you should do about sleep while traveling. What do you do if baby wakes early from a nap? What if baby won't even fall asleep for a nap? What about night sleep? Will all of baby's progress be totally ruined?!? Aaahhh! 

Take a deep breath. Go in with a game plan. It will work out. This post contains affiliate links.

GOAL #1: Baby Sleeps When She Should
This is the same as my first goal in the Newborn Sleep Hierarchy. Your first goal when traveling is just to get baby to take a nap at nap time and go to bed at bed time. You don't want an overly tired baby. Overly tired babies have a hard time sleeping and also aren't fun. They cry a lot, which means people can't enjoy baby and you can't enjoy yourself, not to mention your poor baby who can't stop crying. 

If baby will go to sleep as he usually does at home, fantastic! That is ideal, of course. 

Not all babies will do that, however. The house might be super noisy and make it hard for your baby to sleep. Your baby might not be as flexible of a personality type and might find it hard to sleep in a new environment. You might be out and about and not have a bed available for your baby to sleep in. 

So you might find baby sleeping in a car seat, in the arms of someone, or even in a swing. When Kaitlyn was a baby, we literally brought her big old swing with us to Nate's family's house when we went. It was super noisy and she wasn't used to sleeping with noise. A swing was a way for us to make sure she could fall asleep when needed. Side note, I had dreams of a travel swing after Kaitlyn, but it turned out my next two babies both hated the swing, so we never traveled with a swing again.

We have been known to bring a pack and play, bassinet, or pea pod with us so our baby can sleep. Once I discovered white noise, I also brought that along with me to help block out noise. I have often nursed a baby back to sleep in the night who has previously been sleeping through the night with no feedings for months. 

If you are out and about, see if you can get baby to fall asleep at nap time in the carseat, in your arms, or in your baby carrier. 

Even if your baby only takes a 45 minute nap, it is better than zero nap. 

The point is, you often have to do what it takes to get your baby to sleep while on vacation. Doing those things is better than your baby not getting sleep. That doesn't mean you will face zero consequences when you get home. Just because you had to doesn't mean it won't take some retraining once you get home. Just do not be afraid to do what your baby needs to get the sleep she needs. Sleep is most important here. 

GOAL #2: Baby Sleeps in a Bed When She Should
If you are able, a nap in a bed is always preferable to a nap on the move. It is more restorative. It will help keep your baby on track so that when you go home, you don't spend 1-3 weeks trying to get back to where things were before you left.

Goal #1 is the most important for traveling and sleep. You might not even broach goal #2 at all, and that is okay. This is your call and you will make it based on a whole myriad of factors. Some trips are short and you might choose to not worry so much about sleep while on that trip. Some might be weeks and you want to keep things as normal as possible so life isn't so disrupted when you get home. Some babies are flexible and adaptable while others just aren't. Some can be tired and still content while others will scream. Sometimes you are visiting family that you might only visit once in a very great while. Decide what is best overall based on your unique travel situation.

Know your child and be an advocate for your child. If you baby is more flexible, you might allow her sleep to be disrupted to give family more time with her. If your child is not flexible, however, make sure you do what she needs you to do as her parent. I always say, baby's needs come before adult's wants. 

What To Bring
Over-packing with a baby is a very easy thing to do. The struggle is real! You don't want to take more than you need, but you also don't want to be left without something you really need! So far as sleep goes, keep these things in mind:
  • Place to sleep (pack and play, bassinet, pea pod, moses basket...a place your baby would ideally sleep on her own while you are traveling).
  • Back-up sleep location (sling, carrier, swing...what are your back-ups at home? You might like something on the road).
  • Normal sleep attire. Swaddle blanket, lovie, types of pajamas, socks, pacifier...whatever your baby normally sleeps in and with, have it with you. 
  • Alternative sleep attire. Also, have an alternative to what your baby is sleeping in at the moment. When Kaitlyn was a baby, we traveled to my grandmother's funeral. At the time, it was July and Kaitlyn's room at home was very hot. We traveled to a state where the nights even in July are often in the 30s. We ended up sleeping in my aunt's basement. Kaitlyn woke up a couple of times that night because she was cold. We should have brought warm pajamas, not just the light pajamas she was sleeping with at home. 
  • Stimulation blockers (sound machine, something to cover a window, something to block you at night from eyesight...). 
What to Expect When You Get Home
People often worry that they will negate all forward progress by going on vacation or having some disruption of some sort. That is not the case. Like I said, different babies respond differently. Some get home and slip right back into the normal routine. Some take a day or two of fussiness to get back to normal. Some might take a couple of weeks. No matter how long it takes, it won't negate everything you had previously achieved. Plan on taking a few days to be super consistent when you get home so your baby has the best chance at bouncing back quickly. 

Helpful Reading Material:

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Brayden Preteen Summary {11.5 Years Old}

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This is a summary for Brayden from 11.25 years old to 11.5 years old. 

Guys. 12 years old is a huge milestone for us in our church culture. I can NOT believe my child is almost 12. Can't. 

Eating is great. It seems to me that his taste buds are maturing. He hasn't ever been a picky eater at all, but he has still been a child. He just seems to be liking flavors more that are traditionally like more by adults than children. 

We had NO stress issues about falling asleep during his period. I think he has really been figuring himself out and learning to quiet his brain when he starts to worry he won't fall asleep quickly. I totally understand that panicky feeling; I got it every time I had a nursing baby. I could not fall back asleep after nursing a baby because I would be so worried about getting enough sleep. I am glad he has been figuring it out.

Brayden is still a sweet and kind big brother. His sisters all love him. Brinley currently has plans to marry him because she, "loves him so much and he is so cool." I think that just shows what a great brother he is. 

Piano is back up and in full swing. Brayden loves playing instruments and especially loves the piano. He played basketball during this time. He had a great team and they had a lot of fun. It was a short, four week season with double headers every week. I actually appreciated that because games are now done! They have always gone into December in years past, and that is just hard. 

He also has swim team going on. He is really loving swim team. At his last meet, for his first race, he got basically the exact same time. He was frustrated by that because he is used to dropping time consistently right now. In an effort to provide some motivation, my mom offered to pay him if he dropped time on his next race. 

She started with, "If you drop 10 second in your next race..." This is where I interrupted her. "Ten seconds is a ton of time. That is unheard of." She then asked what would be a big goal but attainable. I suggested she just do one dollar per second. He typically drops 1-3 seconds per race per meet. 

So he went out for his next race and dropped 12 seconds. Yes, 12. We found that hilarious and assured my mom there was no way he would drop 12 again. So for his next race he dropped 20 seconds. Yep! 20!!! Haha! Unheard of. His next race was the butterfly and also his fifth race so far that day (including a relay he swam in), so he didn't drop time then. He was beat. But he had a pretty awesome day. 

School is going well. It is an interesting year for Brayden and his fellow sixth graders. Sixth grade has always been in the middle school. This year, it moved into the elementary school. It has kind of been a learning year for everyone with that dynamic. 

Brayden is still in the gifted and talented program. He really enjoys that time to push himself and to interact with the other kids in the program. Above you can see him giving a presentation created in that class. 

There are fun things I hear from people about him. One day, our school did a "Walk to School" day where we helped educate on safe routes for getting to school. I was a ways away from the school at a corner helping kids navigate that spot. Once all of the kids were past, I walked to the school to check and see how things went there (I am the PTO president). The ladies over the event told me that when Brayden got there, he immediately jumped in and helped them carry stuff and set things up (they had offered a light breakfast as kids got to school). They commented on how impressed they were with him and what a great help he was. 

Our school did a mile run for our fundraiser this year. Brayden killed it with a time of 6:47. He went much faster than I anticipated, so I didn't count where he was in his grade, but he was way up there. He trained on his own and really pushed himself to improve. 


7 AM--Get up, get ready. Practice piano. Free time until school
9 AM--School
4:00 PM--Home. Homework if there is any. Freetime.
5:00 PM--Dinner
6:00 PM--Swim Team
8:00/8:30 PM--Bed

Monday, November 28, 2016

Relating to Moms Who Parent Differently Than You

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You know those awkward moments. Those times when another mom is trying to find common ground with you by bringing up a common frustration among mothers, but the ground is actually uncharted territory for you?

"My two year old still gets up all night every night!"

"I can't get my four year old out of my bed."

"Whenever I lose my voice, I quickly realize how much I yell at my kids!"

"I can't ever leave my baby because she still nurses to sleep."

Or similarly, those moments when you are around a mom and her kids and it becomes clear you  have very different behavior expectations. One is left feeling judged for being to lax while the other one is feeling judged for being too strict. 

While we can find groups of parents online who share our same parenting philosophies, it can be very difficult to find one or two, much less a group, of moms who parent similarly to you within your neighborhood. That leaves us with trying to figure out how to relate with other moms when we really don't have a whole lot in common at our base occupation in life at the moment: motherhood. We all need that like-minded mom friend to bounce ideas off of and commiserate with, but there is so much value in friends who think differently than you do! Here are some ideas for how to relate to moms even when you are vastly different.

Realize They Might Parent That Way Intentionally
We often assume other moms parent differently than we do because they just haven't been enlightened to our ways yet. This is often not correct. Stephanie shared:

"I had a candid convo with a friend about this once. Her family is very AP-friendly. It came down to what they believe and value: they believe their kids will sleep on their own when they are ready (meaning independent sleep is not something you teach but something you do when you're ready), and they valued time together as a family, which for them expressed itself as co-sleeping, nip-and-nap nursing, etc. Before that convo I had always arrogantly assumed that attachment parenting was clearly a second choice and a result of failed sleep training, fear of starting sleep training, or lack of knowledge about sleep training; it didn't occur to me that families would actively choose that way of life right out the gate. Consider me schooled! After talking with her I have much more respect for families choosing different methods for sleep and eating, etc. I just do my thing with my kids and if they have questions they know they can ask; I don't offer up advice anymore. If something is going poorly for them I just say "ohh bummer that's so hard, what are you going to do about it?" and let them do the talking. I've also found it helpful to ask questions of those that do it differently so that I can give all the options to my new mom friends. I can say "oh we don't co-sleep but I have a friend that does and here are the pros and cons as I understand them, etc". The more I know, the better resource I can be to others!"

I love how Stephanie talked openly with her friend. Communication can go a long way toward understanding and connecting! 

Find Common Ground
Even if many of your practices are difference, chances are high there is something you have in common. Try to find that. Ashley said:

"I try my hardest to be understanding of how they parent. As long as their children are healthy and behaving within the lines, I really don't care. If their kids are out of control, I sympathize but silently say prayers of thanksgiving that they aren't my kids 😉  Most moms are trying their best and are following what they believe. Some think I'm crazy for working so hard on a schedule. I think some are crazy for not!
When we disagree face to face, I try my hardest to find common ground. From there I give my respect to the mom and bluntly say we will have to agree to disagree. With my first son, I got really rattled when my parenting was questioned. I now have confidence that I can successfully keep a child alive for three years! 

I am part of my church's MOPS group and am the only Babywise mom. I try to represent! Seriously, we moms need to stick together. We're raising kids in a tumultuous time, and we need support. Arguing over AP or BW or free range or lots of TV parenting styles, what are we accomplishing? Last I checked, people aren't won over to new lifestyle choices by argument. Lead by example, allow yourself to be smug in your alone time/time with spouse, and be confident that if your child(ren) haven't burned your house down, you're a rockstar parent. Be the example you want you kids to follow."

I love her point to lead by example. If people want what you have, they will ask. If they don't, they won't. 

Be Confident In Your Parenting
Often times when we struggle connecting with others, it is because we feel defensive of how we are parenting. Obviously it is hard to not be defensive if someone is being aggressive and telling you that you are wrong. Most of the time, however, we are not literally being told we are wrong. I think we often put that judgement on ourselves without other people overtly saying judgmental remarks. Katie said:

"Ohhh this is so much easier now that my kids are older! I'd say now I'm just confident in what I do. And I also know more that sometimes you're handed a doozy of a kiddo and might have to parent in ways you never thought you would. And honestly in the end, if there's any potential conflict or tension brewing, we just steer away from those topics."

I like how she pointed out to simply avoid topics that will be a source of contention. 

On a similar line of thinking, Janalin shared,

" I'm not defined by the method I use to parent my child, and I try not to define other parents by their parenting. If they are purests about their method and it is different than mine, they might criticize me. That is their problem but mine."

Stand Up For Your Kids
It is one thing to say, "Not my circus, not my monkeys," and move on with your day, but quite another to have people imposing their different views onto your family. Alyssa shared,

"When I see something done differently than how I choose to parent, instead of criticizing internally, I choose to focus on seeing why that style fits that parent and child/family etc. People usually have good reasons for doing things the way they do. Especially when it's a friend, I remember that I respect them and that their family's needs are different and that's okay. It turns my analytical thoughts into a positive direction by using my experiences to see and know my friends better. The book the Child Whisperer has been extremely helpful in doing this. 

Where I find the challenge is when other parenting styles are directed at my kid and I have to step in and readjust the expectation. Even harder with family in my opinion. I usually pause as much as I can before responding or overriding the direction that loved one have my kid, for sure putting my child first, but responding firmly as needed and with as much respect as I can. It also helps to explain our family rules before an event occurs: example, my dad volunteered to take my kids swimming while I stayed home and the baby napped. He immediately launched into the toy the kids could earn if they were "brave." I said that all sounded great, and then proceeded to inform him of what bravery looks like for my kids and how far they could be pushed before it was too much (childhood scars here 😂) it ended up being a great experience and my dad was able to teach my kids some new things with out anyone reliving my childhood trauma lol."

Keep Advice To Yourself
In general, people do not like advice they didn't ask for. Even in my position as a this blog author, my friends know that I will absolutely not offer them advice unless they blatantly ask for it. If they are complaining to me about how exhausted they are from waking up every hour all night, I just commiserate with them. That must be exhausting! They know I will not try to solve their problem
unless they ask me to. 

This was something I had to actually share with them. Most thought I would jump in with advice because that is what people do! They now know, though. Cole at Twinning Babywise shared:

"I think in general (not even specifically in motherhood) judgement comes from a place of insecurity. If we are confident in our decisions, there really isn't any reason to hyperanalyze how someone else does it. You don't have to relate - you just observe and move on. 

On a practical level, I have learned that there is almost never a situation where it is advantageous to offer up unsolicited advice. If someone else is doing things differently - EVEN IF SHE IS TOTALLY FAILING - I generally try to hold my tongue. If she wants advice, she'll come asking for it. Exceptions to this of course would be if a friend was doing something overtly harmful to them or their child - obviously I'd speak up at that point. So how do I respond when it's clear our parenting philosophies are different? I DON'T.

Because I seek out advice from friends I see parenting how I want to parent (or with results I want to achieve) over time I've grown closer to women that parent similarly whereas I haven't established those same deep friendships with the women who do things totally differently. It hasn't been a purposeful paring down of friendships - it just occurs naturally. There are some exceptions - a friend or two and some family members - but for the most part my closest friends at least have the same parenting goals in mind."

Realize Differences Don't Matter
Many of the things we get huffy about just don't matter. Alice shared:

"Before becoming a mother, I worked in the foster care system and saw the effects of childhood abuse and neglect and lack of attachment between parent and child. I think that because I've seen abuse and neglect first hand, disagreeing about how to put your baby to bed, how to start solids, and what kind of diapers to use seems so minuscule. With that said, I've settled on believing these things. 1) My friends' way of parenting may be different but every "way" has pros and cons and is not perfect, including babywise. 2) I remind myself that everyone is doing their best. 3) I also remind myself that they are probably doing what they think works best for their family unit, just like I am. 4) I don't give unsolicited advice. ever. That makes things much more peaceful." 

So much of what we worry about as mothers just doesn't matter in the grand scheme of life. Yes, we have to make those decisions as parents, but the ramifications of either option often just don't matter.

Connect In Other Ways
Like I said earlier, you will likely not find many moms who parent exactly like you in your every day life. Sometimes those differences can cause some contention. When your child is hit by another child and the mom does nothing about it, it is hard to say, "Eh, differences don't matter" or find common ground there. Some parenting decisions only impact that family, but others will impact your children. For the most part, however, different parenting styles aren't going to impact you or your children.

I once shared with you many of my friends. I shared how we are different and how are the same. I have some mom friends who are basically the same as I am as a parent. These are definitely special friendships and we get along so well with each others kids and our kids get along well with each other. 

But that doesn't mean I don't value my friendships with my mom friends who parent differently. One of my very favorite friends lets her kids sleep in bed with her and sugar runs freely at her house. Those are just a couple of differences. I could let those things divide us and stay away, but then I would be missing out on a great friend. I have found things in common with her. She demands her kids be respectful of people and she is pretty crazy on car seat standards just like I am. We both have our four year olds in five-point harnesses while most people around here have four year olds bouncing around in the car...We have differences as moms, but that doesn't threaten either of us. 

We are more than "just" moms. Yes, motherhood is a huge part of our lives and a huge part of what defines us, but it isn't the only thing. My friend I was just talking about has more in common with me than our mom connections. We are both organized and OCD in many ways. We both have PCOS and connect over that struggle. We have a lot of similarities in life, but just as many differences. I have learned so much from her about enjoying life and living in the moment. You can connect over differences just as much as you can similarities. 

Even when you find that mom who is your clone, you will have differences. They might be silly differences. My clone loves sushi and I want to gag just thinking about it. She hates verbal confrontation and it doesn't make me bat an eye. The point is, even someone who has similar life experiences and parenting styles as you will be different from you in ways. If you look for people just like yourself, you will be left with only yourself as a friend. You have to accept the differences.

I think a great secret among my friends is that our differences are not an elephant in the room. We openly discuss how we are different and no one worries about it. We usually laugh our heads off about the differences. Pretending the differences aren't there gets awkward over time. There is no authenticity. You have to be accepting of differences.

When my husband and I had been married for a year and a half, we moved into a new town. The wife next door visited with me. She had 8 kids and I had 1, so obviously we had some blatant differences before us. She asked me what I liked to do. I told her my short list, and she responded, "Oh, all of the things I hate." And that was that. She decided then and there that we were too different to be friends. 

The trick to discussing differences is to remove judgement from the conversation. Find what is the same, find what is different, and love your friends through it all. Look at differences as a way to learn new things and see the world from a different view. 

You need friends in your life. Open yourself up to them. Do not let the differences stifle your relationships. Sure, you won't be best friends with everyone you meet. You don't have to be. But you can grow great friendships even with people vastly different from yourself. 

Practical Ideas
If you want to get to know other people better and grow closer to them, you need to spend time with them. You can do this by meeting at the park to visit while your kids play. You can have moms over to your house with their kiddos to visit while kids play. You can meet up at a local jump park, splash pad, or even McDonald's. 

Meeting with kids is fun, but the best is getting together without kids. Organize Girl's Night Out  each month. My friends and I do this. We take turns hosting and we do it after kids are in bed. We have so much fun. Sometimes we just talk (and eat treats). Sometimes we go out for dinner or dessert. Sometimes we sit around the camp fire. Sometimes we go to an amusement park. It gives much needed girl talk and we get to know each other without being interrupted every five minutes (at best). You can also go out on date nights with your spouses. 

We are living in a climate where too many people are willing to throw away even old friendships over differences of opinion. Those differences enrich our lives and help us see the world in a more-rounded way. It is okay to be different from other friends, and definitely okay to make friends who are different. Find common ground where you can, agree to disagree where you need to, and have fun together!


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