Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Key Element To Starting a Routine

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Whether you are starting a routine with your child at one day old or one year old, there is one key element you must put into place if you want to see success. This element is no respecter of age, circumstance, weather, experience...nothing. No one is exempt if you really want to see success and the benefits of a routine.

You must dedicate some time to establish the routine. 

You must dedicate this time with little to no disruptions from what the routine will be. No nap skipping. No late nights. No vacations. You don't even want to disrupt your little one for a trip to the grocery store. 


Does that make you pause? Hesitate? Are you second guessing your desire to have a good sleeper with some sort of predictability in her day?

Don't panic. I said some time. I didn't say forever and ever until the end of days. So how long is some time? Ideally you will give two weeks with little to no disruptions. If two weeks is absolutely impossible, you must do at least one. You cannot logically expect a child to get established in a routine if there is never real time given to developing that habit. Your child cannot be predictable if your child can't even predict what is coming next. The only way to get here is through consistency. 

Here are some ideas to help you have success in your two weeks of dedication to establishing a routine:
  • Let friends and family know. Be upfront and let them know you will be staying home for the
    next two weeks so you can help your little one get on the path to good sleep.
  • Host at your house. If you can't stand the thought of missing things, host events at your house so your baby can still have consistency at home.
  • Choose a good window. It probably isn't best to plan your two week window over Christmas or during a family reunion. Choose a two week window that you can be most successful in. 
  • Prepare things beforehand. Get as many errands done before your two week window as you can so you can avoid emergency trips to the store. If you have to run errands during the two week window, try to get a babysitter, have your spouse do the trip, or do something like grocery pickup so your trip can be as fast as possible. Services like online shopping (hello Amazon Prime! aff) can be your best friend during this time period. 
  • Be patient. This time period will not last forever. In baby time, two weeks can seem like forever, but it is a relatively short time period, and fully worth the time it is taking. You will be able to have a life once your routine is set. If you want to be able to have flexibility, you need to have a starting spot for your child to go back to. 
This consistency might sound tedious, but it is a relatively simple step to ensuring your baby or child can get well-established into a routine. You cannot create a routine without setting one up. This is your practice session. That would be like expecting someone to play a piano song memorized just because you mentioned to them the title of the song. You must practice and get that routine in place if you want your baby to follow it. 


The ladies of the BFBN are all discussing routines today. Check them out:

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Morning Wake Up Time {Poll Discussion Post}

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The start time of your day can have more of an impact on the flow of your day than you might think. Let's discuss this start to the day.

Please take a moment to answer the questions below. Doing so will help other parents now and in the future. It is very helpful for me when compiling answers if you at least number the answers you give. You can also copy the questions and answer them. If the question does not apply to you, simply put "N/A."

1-What time does your child get up each day (whether you wake him up or he wakes on his own)?
2-How consistent are you with this wake up time each day? How many days a week would you say you usually have this be your start time?
3-What time is your child's bedtime the night before?
4-Do you notice an impact on the day if wake up time is off? If so, what sort of impact?
5-Any comments on morning wake up time?
6-How old is your child?

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Brayden Preteen Summary {11.75 Years}

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This is a summary for Brayden from 11.5-11.75 years old.

EATING
Eating is good. Things were all pretty much the same. He eats a lot of food (though I know it will only increase). 

SLEEPING
We continued on with no stress issues about sleep, which marks 6 months! He got a little worried at the time change when he was going to bed Saturday night and realized it was like it was later than it was, especially because our church starts at 9 so he can't really sleep in on Sunday. I told him it was okay and reminded him not to stress about it and he was fine.

video



EXTRA CURRICULARS
Brayden continued with piano and swimming. With piano, he has started to arrange songs. You can see a short clip of one he recently did above. He really, really enjoys playing instruments. Swimming is going well. He continually dropped time at his meets. Brayden also played in another basketball league during this period.

A big thing in his life is the school musical. We did Peter Pan JR and Brayden played Captain Hook. It is his favorite part to date, and he executed it flawlessly. It was so fun to watch. 


SCIENCE FAIR
Brayden entered the school science fair this year. He took first place for his project. 

JR HIGH
Jr. High is on our horizon. Ack! He registered for Jr. High a few weeks ago. Next fall you might find me curled up in a ball on my bed crying when school starts as I have my oldest enter Jr. High and my youngest kindergarten. Sniff.


SCHEDULE

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, March 20, 2017

How to Be Productive as a Mom

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Work smarter, not harder. This is a common piece of advice given to those wanting to be more productive in life. Just how do you go about "working smarter" as a mom? The harder part seems to be part of the nature of the job as "mom." Can we be smarter? Yes indeed we can!

And we have good reason to. It is easy to say "dishes can wait," but at some point, they really can't! You have to do certain chores at some point. We also don't want to let our children's lives pass us by with us having not participated in them. If we can work smarter, we can play some. Here are eight ideas to get you going.

1. Put the Lord First
I promise, promise, promise that if you put the Lord first in your day, your day will be more productive. Make it a priority to read your scriptures and pray. You will see a difference. I do this in the morning each day. I notice a significant negative difference when I either forget or decide I am too busy in the morning and wait until later in the day to read my scriptures (especially because that usually means it doesn't happen since it is out of my normal routine). See my post on Time With God and How I Do It: Scripture Study for more.

2. Set Goals
If you don't have goals for yourself to accomplish, you will pretty much aimlessly wander throughout each day. You will be like a dog running along to fetch a ball who gets distracted by a squirrel. You will jump from task to task as it captures your attention. You might get some things done, but you will likely realize you spent times on things that weren't necessarily the priority at the time. Set some long-term and short-term goals you want to accomplish and then break those down into ways you can work on those daily. For help with goals, see Goal Tips and Making and Achieving Goals. See also:

3. Have a Plan
Once you know what you are trying to accomplish, you can make a plan to get there. Each night, I look through my to do list for the next day to see what I need to get done. I make a list and prioritize it. I know what must get done and what is just "nice" if I have the time. I find it can help if I even just visualize myself going through my day with the plan I have. It sounds corny, but doing that helps me recognize flaws in my plan so I can readjust the plan. Keep a list wherever it works best for you. I like mine on my phone. You might carry a piece of paper folded up on your pocket or write it on a huge white board in your home. You might even be lucky enough to still be able to track things in your head. So long as you can keep that list, it doesn't matter where it is. But experiment. I definitely have preferences on where and how my list is kept.

4. Relieve Your Brain
This is referred to in number three, but have things written down. You won't be as efficient if you are having to worry about remembering the next five things you need to get done. As a mom, you also likely have too many things to keep track of to be able to do so all in your head. Write things down so you can focus on the task at hand and give it the attention it needs. I  have read a great recommendation to spend 15 minutes just writing down everything that is in your head--everything on your mind. You then take all the items and group them by priority and length of time to get done. Do the things you can get done in two minutes or less (it is amazing how many "small" things we carry around on our lists. If we do them, we can relieve them from our brains!). Then make a plan with the rest. 

5. Schedule Things Out
In your planning, schedule things out in a way that works for you. How will you be most productive in your cleaning tasks? Will you do better having specific tasks you must accomplish no matter how long it takes? Or will you do better with a time limit you spend cleaning no matter what gets done? Maybe a joining of both methods--have a specific task you do and then finish up with a fifteen minute speed clean? There is no one right way for all people to do it, but there will be a best way for you to do it. For more on organizing yourself, see my post on how I do it

6. Do Dreaded Tasks First
I just find I am more productive if I do my dreaded tasks first thing. I have my tasks that have to be done because of time constraints on them (for example, my kids have to be ready for school by a certain time). Then I do my cleaning tasks of the day. I have found if I let the cleaning go until afternoon, I often find myself at the end of the day having not done it yet. I work best just getting it done and over with. I also find I need to not let my computer time start until the afternoon if possible. I can easily let the many possibilities of the computer turn into a time suck. I try to do everything I need to away from the computer before I sit down at something that sucks my time.

7. Don't Overschedule Yourself (and don't underschedule either)
I am still trying to figure out the fine balance between stretching and challenging yourself and not overextending yourself. If you have too much to do, you will never be productive (see my post We Don't Need to Live at a Frantic Pace). But I also find if I don't have enough to do, I easily waste time and get nothing done. Why move to the list when there isn't much to do? Candy Crush awaits! I try to find the perfect balance of having things to do to keep me moving and working and not having so much to do I can't do anything well.

8. Be Preventative
Slow and steady work. Do your work consistently to prevent having to put out fires later. Consistently taking a few minutes to do the dishes makes it easier for you to manage that task than ignoring them for a couple of days (or for some of you even just a day or 12 hours) and having to play major catch up. 

These are some ideas to help you be as productive as you can be. This will enable you to find greater balance in getting things done you need to and still have time to spend having fun with your family.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Easter Basket Stuffer Ideas

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The older my children get, the more and more I deplore the idea of filling things like the Easter basket with random, cheap items. I am not talking inexpensive; I am talking the items that break after a week, and even the items the lose interest in after a few days. I don't want to fill the basket with randomness just for the sake of it being full. Here are some of my favorite things to put in the Easter basket. Kid friendly, mother approved. This post contains affiliate links.

1-Experience Gifts
The idea of the experience gift is gaining traction in the world, and for good reason. "Stuff" doesn't really lead to happiness. It seems an activity like traveling is more beneficial long-term than owning stuff. That isn't even considering the benefit of not filling your house with things you then have to sort, organize, and clean! Consider adding to the Easter basket movie tickets, a season pass, or  a punch pass. You might even have a vacation thrown in there. Give your child an experience rather than a load of dollar store toys. 

2-Candy
It is Easter. Throw some candy in there

3-Book
I love promoting a love of books with my children, and one way I do that is to give them books as gifts. I feel like if I show I value them enough to gift them, it helps them to feel a love for books. If you need some book ideas, see my book lists. I have chapter books, picture books, board books, and gateway chapter books. I can help you find a great book no matter the age of your child. 

4-Bubbles
Since weather is warming up for us, bubbles make a great little addition to the Easter basket. 


5-Chalk
Chalk is another great Easter basket idea. Do not be fooled into just buying the cheap kind; for some reason, I have found Crayola is often even cheaper than "cheap" kinds. Amazon has this 24 pack of chalk for a great add-on item.

6-Outdoor Toys
I often take Easter as a time to add to our outdoor toy collection. Need a new outdoor basketball? Give it as a gift at Easter! Jump rope, toy lawn mower (this was such a favorite of Brayden's when he was little)... for more of my outside toy recommendations, see Outside Toys Worth the Investment (All-Star Toys) and Baby Stuff I Love: Outdoor Toys.

7-Jewelry/Watches/Accessories
For the older children, accessories can make a great addition to the Easter basket. Kids love watches, and can easily make good use of them as young as first or second grade. You might find some fun jewelry, scarves, belts, bows...something you can fit in the basket and can also be useful.

8-Coupons
You know how kids are always giving parents coupons at holidays? They love getting them, also! "One free chore" or "One late-night" or "One movie of your choice" or "One mommy-son date" are all fun ideas that will excite your child. Bonus points for not taking up space in your house! 

9-Media
You might also like to add a new movie or a gift card for music.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Why Doing House Chores Helps Children Become More Successful In the Future {Guest Post}

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by Hannah Tong
Here, we'll explain why doing house chores helps children become more successful in the future. Some parents think that children should be free from responsibility until they near adulthood, but this is a mistaken idea.
A romanticized view of childhood, usually from fiction, portrays chores as an unwelcome aspect of a child's life, and it's understandable if parents want to protect their children from this. On the contrary, we know that responsibility for age-appropriate chores is an essential part of your child's development, and we'll be explaining why in this article.
In short, children who do chores develop good habits that will help them throughout life, they'll develop essential self-esteem by contributing, and they will learn essential life skills.

How Does Doing Chores Teach Children Good Habits?

The most obvious lifetime habit that a child will learn from doing chores is a work ethic; the habit of doing what needs to be done, rather than shirking. This does not develop automatically; children need to learn this.
They also learn persistence from doing chores. Nobody is born knowing how to do housework, and children can be expected to do it poorly when they're first learning how.
When you encourage them to correct the mistakes that they're bound to make, until the job is done to reasonable standards is how children learn to be persistent. This will also instill an appreciation of a job well done, as they learn to take pride in the accomplishment.
Do keep your expectations realistic, though. A four-year-old who is helping you to fold laundry can't be expected to fold fitted sheets without a wrinkle.
They could well fold the t-shirts and match the socks while you're folding the sheets. It's okay to give them chores that challenge them, as long as they're within their ability to do well.
Accepting the responsibility to do a chore like setting the table for dinner is how children develop the habit of being responsible. This doesn't happen overnight for anyone, but the earlier the lesson starts; the better they'll learn it before they are adults, and responsibility become essential.
By doing chores when they need to be done instead of playing or watching TV, kids learn to delay gratification, another habit that will be valuable to them as adults. This is often a challenging skill to learn, so an early start will help them develop it.
Children are naturally going to want what they want when they want it. They have to learn about delayed gratification, so try to be patient with them as they develop this habit.

Does Doing Chores Build Self-Esteem?

Toddlers usually want to help, often with tasks that they simply don't have the physical skills to accomplish. This is a typical stage of your child's development, and you should expect it.
This is both a challenge and an opportunity. Of course, if you do the chore yourself, it'll be done quickly and well, so it's almost automatic to turn down their offer to help.
Accepting their offer, on the other hand, is an opportunity to teach your child some of the skills that are needed for the chore. It takes longer this way, and their early efforts may not meet your usual standards, but this is how children learn.
There are several payoffs from you taking the extra time to teach your child how to do a chore or even part of it.
•    Your child gets accustomed to helping around the house while they are eager to.
•    Your child learns how to do the chore or at least part of it.
•    Play can happen in the context of the chore. Chores are more fun to a team.
•    By contributing, your child accomplishes something that they can feel pride in. It's a thing that they can give back to their family.
•    Learning a skill gives every child a sense of accomplishment, but a skill that benefits the whole family is something that they will value even more.
Contrary to the popular myth, self-esteem is not built by being praised by others. Self-esteem grows when someone sees themselves do something that is worthy of the praise.
Participation trophies don't fool children. They know that recognition is only valid if they've done something that deserves recognition.
Be sure to recognize the value of the housework that your children do, and their self-esteem will grow naturally. A child who knows that they're competent is a child who will find it easier to be self-confident.

What Life Skills Do Children Learn From Chores?

First and foremost, they learn how to do those chores. When a first-year college student turns a load of laundry pink the first time they do their laundry, it's a safe bet that they never had laundry as a childhood chore.
There are thousands of small tasks to do in adult life, and many of us had to learn them as adults because we weren't taught them as childhood chores. Give your children the benefit of your experience and let them get practice while they can ask questions if they need to.
Home Economics is often not taught in school until High School, and there are a lot of housekeeping skills that they don't teach, even if your child takes those classes. You can teach your child those skills, get some of your workload taken off of your shoulders, and encourage your child's development by giving your child some chores.

It's Part of Parenting

Teaching your children how to do household chores and doing those chores their responsibility is a major component of the parenting process. It teaches them several admirable character traits, while they learn life skills.
Skills are only developed through practice. Doing a chore on a regular basis teaches children skills that will help them be adults before they become old enough to go out into the world on their own.
We hope that now you understand why doing house chores helps children become more successful in the future.
Hannah Tong is the founder of Omaby.com, a blog dedicated to providing accurate advice to mothers regarding childcare. She loves taking care of her kids and teaching them the right things. She is also enthusiastic and loves sharing her experiences to teach others about how to care for their families' health. Check the latest article (When To Start Stage 2 Baby Food?) here. This is a sponsored article.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Poll Results: Weathering the Four Month Sleep Regression

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The fourth month sleep regression is such a stressful time! Things progress nicely and then BAM! Regression time. And as a couple of readers pointed out, for working moms, this happens right after you return to work! Your little baby suddenly starts sleeping significantly less and you don't know what to do. Anyone who has been through it can look back and maybe have some ideas for how to weather that more easily or at least with more grace. Here are some ideas from parents who have been there.

Did your child have a sleep regression at four months?
  • Yes: 4
  • No:
How long did it last?
  • 3 Months: 1
  • 1 Month: 2
  • Less than one month: 1
Is there anything you did that helped your baby sleep better?
  • Nursing to sleep: 1
  • Cry it out: 2
  • Dropping the swaddle: 2
  • Keep feeding times consistent: 1
  • Play for a bit and then put back to sleep: 1
Is there anything you did to help yourself mentally manage the regression?

Natalie said: "I tried not to dwell on it. With my first I didn't realize there WAS a regression until she was already about 6 months. My second, I kind of expected it but then tried to troubleshoot since I hadn't done that with my first. I always remind myself it's just a short time and it will pass. "

Lisa said: "Pray!!!! ...and have good support from my husband. Ignore other people's well meaning advice to a certain extent (it could be teething, try rocking her, just let her cry etc.)"

PESTAG said: "Went outside so I didn't have to hear the crying. Brought the video monitor but turned off the sound. Did outside chores, planted flowers. Something that I couldn't end quickly and would take concentration yet was relaxing."

Is there anything you would do differently in retrospect?
  • Do Cry It Out Sooner: 1
  • Drop the swaddle sooner: 1
  • Do not start new sleep props: 1
Is there any advice you have for parents in the trenches of of the four month regression?

Natalie said: "don't be afraid to try new things or troubleshoot their sleep environment. 4 months is a big changing time so it could definitely help to drop the swaddle or make some other kind of adjustment. It's worth a shot - and if it doesn't work, just find a way to get through."

Lisa said: "It's only a season. Try not to worry too much about getting baby to sleep and spending all day doing this. Try and keep as consistent as possible. Dont plan any big trips etc. , wade it out and enjoy your baby while they're little."

PESTAG said:  "Begin as you mean to go. Enjoy the cuddles but realize that you'll get lots of love and cuddles when they wake up happy and refreshed after a good nap or a good night's sleep."

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Brinley Preschooler Summary 4.5 Years Old {Plus one month!}

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This is a summary for Brinley for her first month as a 4.5 year old (so 4.5 plus one month).

SLEEP
Sleep is great! She rarely naps these days, but has rest time pretty much daily. An interesting thing is that she must have rest time if I want a happy child in the evening and the next day. Even though she doesn't sleep, that rest time is super important for her.

EATING
Eating is great. She eats well overall. She doesn't like everything she ever eats, which is fine. There are many days (especially soup days) when she declares that she does not want to eat what we are having for dinner. We tell her that is fine but this is the only option for eating.

My way of handling this situation is to be calm. "That's fine. You don't have to eat it. You will get hungry, but you will be okay." 

She doesn't want to be hungry. She always eats at least enough to keep the hunger at bay. She often finds it easier to eat foods she doesn't like if someone spoon feeds her. So she at times asks for help, and either my husband or I help her get that food in her tummy. 

EMOTIONS
Four year olds are emotional beings. This first month past 4.5 has been the calmest yet! There has been a lot more giggling and steady happiness rather than the roller coaster of emotions I have grown accustomed to. 

PRESCHOOL
Brinley is still loving preschool, and she is dying to go to Kindergarten. I have actually been able to jump some hurdles with her with the idea of Kindergarten in her future.

She has never, until this month, been willing to use a public toilet unless I held her in place. This stems from a fear of heights. I told her she had to be able to use a public toilet if she wanted to go to Kindergarten. That motivated her! She now uses it no problem. Kindergarten has been a great motivational tool.

TECHNOLOGY FAST
It became apparent to me that there was too much affinity for technology in our home. Because of this, we did a week-long technology fast. Brinley was the most attached to technology of any of the kids. I gave them a week warning about the fast and it went really well! I think we will do that more often, perhaps even monthly. 

DENTIST
Brinley had a dentist appointment this month. She did great and had no issues. Back to her fear of heights, her biggest difficulty with the dentist is always having to lay on the seat, high off the ground. I always have to stay right by her and hold her hand.

TOO MANY FREEDOMS
One day as we were choosing her clothes, she had a major fit over the shirt I wanted her to wear. I realized she had too many freedoms. Because of that, I took her right to choose what she wore away for a week. That was a few weeks ago. She hasn't had a fit about a shirt at all. The other day, she asked me for permission to wear a certain shirt. It is the first time she participated in the choosing of what she wore. I was happy she asked and didn't demand. 

SCHEDULE
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.
2:30--Rest Time
4:00ish--Get up up. Play PBS Kids on the computer. Then dinner and family time.
8:00--Get ready for bedtime
8:30 or 9:00--Bedtime

Monday, March 13, 2017

What to Do When Baby's Awake Time Is Before Feedings

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Eat, wake, sleep. Repeat. 

That is the pattern we all have in our heads. 

Sometimes, however, that little cutie of yours doesn't seem to have gotten the memo and wakes up early from a nap. Too early for it to be time to eat already. Of course the first thing you check when you have a short nap going on is make sure you don't have a growth spurt or hunger happening. You try to feed the baby. 

For the purposes of this post, I am going to assume you have checked the hunger possibility and have been working to try to figure out why the short naps are happening. In the meantime, between now and having the issue resolved and baby back to taking long enough naps, you need to know what to do with baby!
  1. Do you feed baby right away? Keep that eat, wake, sleep routine in place? 
  2. Do you play with baby first, disrupting that pattern, and then feed? Is the length of time between feedings more important than the pattern?
  3. Do you hybrid? Play for a bit, feed sooner than you ideally would have, then play a bit more, then back to nap?
The answer is that you could do any one of those three options. I have done all three of those over the course of my parenting life.

Feed Right Away, Stay on Routine
If the baby is hungry, at least hungry enough to eat, I feed right away, then continue on my pattern. If baby will, I then let remaining naps be longer throughout the day. So if baby woke up an hour early for one feeding, I would feed, play, then do nap. I would let a normally two hour nap go 2.5 hours, then let future naps go longer, also, to try to get back on track. 

Play First, Stay on Feeding Schedule
Baby might not be hungry enough to eat upon waking. If this is the case, and you can't rock your baby to sleep or use a swing to get back to sleep, then you will have no choice but to have your playtime first, then eat. 

If you go this route, be careful when you do feed that baby doesn't fall asleep while eating. It baby falls asleep while eating, there is a good chance baby didn't get enough food and will wake up early again, but this time for hunger. 

Also, a high level goal is for baby to learn to fall asleep independently. If this is a random, one-time situation, then you will be fine if baby falls asleep eating (taking out the issue of not getting enough food). If this becomes a norm for a while, though, you want to be cautious of what new habits you might be forming. 

Hybrid, Do a Little of Both
Doing a hybrid is a great option for extending the time between feedings while avoiding a situation of baby falling asleep while eating. 

Conclusion
If your baby is waking early, any one of these solutions is a great way to handle the situation while you troubleshoot and try to get the short naps solved. Any one works, find what works best for you. 


Friday, March 10, 2017

When Ignoring is a Beneficial Parenting Tool {BFBN Discipline Week}

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Parenting is a never ending experiment. Even once we get things down pretty well with one child, another child comes along who is a different person and responds to life and circumstances, including discipline, differently.

Having a toolbox ready to fix anything that comes up is very helpful!

"One useful tool I have in my parenting toolbox for discipline is the tool of ignoring. While it's not my everyday all day go to item, it is one that can be extremely effective if used in the right situation. And it's not as easy of a discipline method as it may sound. Ignoring a child while they are pitching a fit? Not easy. Ignoring a child who insists they don't want to meet Mickey Mouse after you've stood in line for an hour? Not easy. My husband and I have both been working harder at ignoring when necessary and it really does work so we're getting better at it ;) "

Emily is sharing six ways she uses ignoring as a discipline tool. Go read all about it at The Journey of Parenthood today. 



The ladies of the Babywise Friendly Blog Network are all blogging on discipline this week. Check them out on these days:

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