Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Fall Break 2017--With Posts to Read

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Fall is my favorite, and so I am sorry for those of you who do not get to have a nice fall cool down. My kids are off of school for the rest of the week, so I will be spending some more time with them. Below are some oldies for you to check out. Whenever I take a break, I always highlight some great oldies for you to read while I am gone. These are posts that were very popular in their day. Some will still be very familiar to, while others will be fully new! These are from 2012. Click on the image to read the post.
 How to stop unwanted mealtime behavior How I Potty Train My Children

 How to exercise during pregnancy The best things about 15 month olds
 15 topics to discuss with your spouse TV Time Rules for Children Under Two

 How to prepare your child for sugery  Top Sleep Tips to Get Your Baby Sleeping

 Morning sickness What to do when baby is waking too early in the morning

 How to prevent whining


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Best Potty Training Tips from Real Moms

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Crowd sourcing is an effective way to get a bunch of good ideas quickly. I recently took to Facebook to ask for the best potty training tips and what you wish you would have known before starting. This is what you said.

Best Potty Training Tips from Real Moms | Potty training | #pottytraining


Wait Until Your Child is Ready

Andrea said: In all honesty what worked for us was waiting until they are ready. I tried when I "thought" she should be ready a few times & it was a frustrating battle. I completely backed off and waited. She let me know she was ready and we never looked back. It was a piece of cake at that point. Follow your child's time frame & not yours.
  • Rachel said: So, so true. I pushed too hard with my first and am taking a more relaxed approach with my second.
  • Aubyn said:  Same!! Waiting was the best and easiest potty training!!
  • Nicole said: The same worked for Isaac! One day he came to me and said he wanted to go on the big potty and that was that

Emily said: I'd say just go back to diapers until you feel you have the energy to clean up accidents...worked for me! My son ended up being 3.5 yo but he and I were both ready at that point 😊no need to rush it when you have your hands full with a newborn!

Lindsay said:  I agree with the "waiting until he/she was ready" comments. With my oldest son, we thought he was ready so we pushed. Yea, no go. It was frustrating for him and us, and was a waste of time. He was ready when he was ready - and all of a sudden, one day he was in diapers, then next he was going standing up and everything - including being dry at naps and night! With the 2nd boy, we were more patient. He was "trying" to go every day at preschool so we said enough is enough and took a weekend to work with him. He spent most of that time commando but it worked! A week and a half later and he's dry all day, poop and all! He is still in PullUps at night and naps, but we're getting there. Patience and one step at a time....

Yooli said: My kid was not into being bottomless and pressing him when he showed interest around 2.5 led to him shutting down and having a bad reaction. We just had him sit on the potty before his bath as part of the routine and any other time he asked, but otherwise dropped it. He didn't seem keen on it again until after 3, but it was pretty much self led after that. We got him undies he was excited about, reminded him that we don't pee on Paw Patrol, and he just got it. Our son did not like potty seats and preferred the big potty, so I suggest a padded soft potty ring since in the beginning they just sit there forever. We keep his seat on a nail in the bathroom, a small step stool, a fun hand soap, a faucet extender, and a towel at his level and he can do most of the potty process himself.

Julie said: We waited till she was ready. She happened to enjoy Daniel Tiger at the time and the potty episodes/songs got her to do it. "If you have to go potty, STOP and go right away. Flush and wash and be on your way!"

Clair said: Wait until they're ready! If it isn't working or if it's causing emotional turmoil, then stop and try again later. 👍🏻 I had a "false start" w/ two of mine and once I picked it back up again later, it clicked pretty much immediately!

It Takes a While Until the Child is Fully Trained

Evie said: I wish I would've known the many many steps that a child has to master before we consider them "potty trained".   I started sitting her on the potty when she was 1. She was out of diapers by 2, but at 3, she still doesn't tell me when she has to go. I take her every couple hours if I want to avoid an accident. Also, she doesn't just walk in, pull down her pants, go, and wash her hands. Everything has to be reminded every single time. I wish I would've known that this is a LOOOONG process and things click on their own timetable. Potty training is more "patience training for parents" than anything. 
  • Katie said: Totally agree! Also my MIL says "when they're dry at night, they're night trained!" We went with that and it worked for 2 of 3 kids so far. Obviously there may come a point with any child that you intervene further but in general we don't worry about it until the ped does which in our case would be 7+yo.

    I opted to just wait until they "grew into" telling me when they needed to go. I guess we kind of did a combination. We take long road trips (we used to live a long way from all family, now we are a long way from some, plus we love to travel) and I need them to be able to "try" when we have stops. Mine were around 3-4yo when they began to tell me consistently if they needed to go. But they didn't have accidents before that, because I usually just had them try at transitions - like before snack, before lunch, etc. However I think for some parents/kids that approach works better and for others it doesn't work. Potty training really is more specific to each parent/child combo than some other aspects of parenting. And like sttn, where each person seems to have somehow a different definition of what that means, "being potty trained" means different things to different people. My 4.5yo still wears a pullup at night but I consider her potty trained!

It is Hard. Miserably Hard.
Rhiannon said: I just wish I had known how miserably hard it is. 😭😭 --said the mom with a newborn and a 3 YO who has been working on potty training for 4 months. 😫

Go Without Undies
Ali said: We have done pant less/no undies and it worked well for both our kiddos so far. I think the best thing for me to remember is to stay relaxed, and don't put pressure on myself or my kiddo. If it doesn't happen now we can always try again in a couple of weeks or even a couple of months.

Kristen said: Yep, nothing on bottom for at least 3 days. Salty snacks and water or juice so there will be plenty of opportunities. This was a big treat at my house as we don't do juice normally.
Best Potty Training Tips from Real Moms | Potty training | #pottytraining

No Pull-Ups
Carissa said: I have potty trained 3 kids. My oldest daughter was the hardest. It took a year to potty train her and once she was DAY trained it took her another year to be night trained as well. She was 3 when she finally was day trained but has to wear pullups to bed til she was 4. My son was 3 when he finally trained and once he trained it was day and night. My youngest daughter potty trained at 2 years 2 months old day and night. I think the difference for us was with my oldest two I used pullups even during the day. They could care less. They would poop and pee and it wouldn't bother them. With my oldest I finally switched to underwear and at first she would pee in the potty but would poop in the underwear. I finally made her clean her panties and she finally quit pooping in them. My son was kind of the same as my oldest but not quite as bad. My youngest i went straight to panties right after her second birthday and she did awesome! Had a few accidents at first but that is normal!

Stay Home 
Natallie said: Staying home for three days is part of the method I followed! That way you can “allow” accidents to happen. By experiencing accidents it helps make that connection in their brains, like “oh...this isn’t good”. I would also recommend just keeping her in panties throughout the day.

Reward Dryness:
Shea said: Reward for staying dry and give a different reward for success in the potty! Staying dry is just as crucial to training as putting their business in the toilet!

Potty Training Methods Mentioned:

Jananya said: I have a busy toddler so I dreaded having to be cooped up in the house for any length of time. My mom and I taught lil miss the basics in afternoon, every 15 mins or so we sat her down. Wiped, happy dance, repeat. Straight to undies. Next day I put the potty in a cloth bag and went about our day. In the park, playing in the sand, in the yard. Wherever lil miss went, so went her monster potty. And she got it in a few days! She had been clothed diapered and she was almost 2.5. We had a few accidents here and there but within a few weeks, she was accident free and she loved the no diaper changing routine. If you are a SHM with a busy bee, give it a go. Toss a roll of toilet paper, a 3oz spray bottle with pinesol and plastic bag for on the go poops and u are good to go.

Natalie said: Lora Jensen’s 3 day method! I didn’t pay the full fee on her website, but just bought the book on Amazon for $7. So worth it. Worked amazingly for my daughter when she was 2.5. I recommend it to everyone I know!

Marnie said:  The wee was easy, the poop was hard. 

Babysteps, scaffolded around her natural rhythms. It took like 3-4 months. First I started asking her to poop in her diaper in her crib before her nap. Then I would change her. Then I asked her to poop in the bathroom, but I let it take a million years and she could read books. I just gave her privacy and time.

We used a star chart with rewards (treats from Whole Foods bulk bins!)

Her grand prize was a skateboard. She's afraid to use it, but that's another story.

Related Posts: 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Why I Worked to Get My Baby To Sleep Through the Night by 8 Weeks Old

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You are a mom. You need to make sacrifices now. Your whole life, you have really been able to, for the most part, put your needs first. Those days are over. But guess what, this new you does not need to turn into a martyr. Having a new baby, you will get less sleep than you used to, or at least more fragmented sleep than you used to, but having a new baby does not mean you don't get to sleep at all. It doesn't mean you have to function for the next several years on a few hours, interrupted a night. What if I told you it only needed to last for a few months?

Why I Worked to Get My Baby To Sleep Through the Night by 8 Weeks Old | The benefits of sleep | baby sleep | baby sleep schedule | #babysleep #babyslseeptraining

I am a mom of four children, and I sleep better than I ever did before I had kids. 

My youngest was sleeping from 7:30 at night until 7:00 AM with a feeding I got her up for at 10 PM (I call this a dreamfeed) at 8 weeks old

Some moms look at moms trying to get their babies sleeping through the night as selfish. They say to suck it up, this is what you signed up for, and forget trying to sleep.

For moms trying to accomplish sleeping through the night, it is about so much more than selfishness. First, I find it a bit comical that a mother would accuse another mother of doing something for selfish reasons. I think those of us who are moms really know that basically everything we do is for our kids. We have to force ourselves to make time for ourselves and often even to make time for our spouses. If you feel motherhood, then you know mother plus selfish doesn't really fit together.  

It isn't about being selfish.

It is about being able to be ourselves because we are getting enough sleep, so we can be the best moms we can be. We can be happy. We can be focused. We can be patient. How much easier of a time do you think I had to be a patient and engaged mother of four when my 8 week old was sleeping through the night? That is not about being selfish. That is still about putting kids ahead of myself. 

Even so, that isn't even the number one reasons moms try to get their little ones sleeping well at a young age. They do it because they believe sleep is essential for the baby. That reason might not be a popular one for the moms accusing us of doing it out of selfishness. It is easier to accuse us of being selfish than to allow the worries of how the lack of sleep will impact their own babies. 

We can be accused of doing it for selfish reasons all day long, but our driving reason for putting the effort into getting a baby to sleep well is because we believe sleep is best for a baby. Also being able to sleep? Major perk. Very much a perk. That perk trickles into the family only being benefited. We mothers of sleeping babies have more energy than we would otherwise. We have more patience than we would otherwise. Even if you look at baby sleeping well as "only" benefiting the mother, you can't ignore that the fact that the rest of the family benefits from that. 

If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. That saying exists for a reason.

Back to the importance of sleep. What has us convinced sleep is worth working for? We have read the studies, and we are convinced. Maybe some haven't read the studies, they have only heard about them from the news or from friends, but common sense tells them, yes, I see those benefits in my life when I get healthy sleep. That is probably true for my baby, also. This post contains affiliate links. 

The book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth goes into great detail on the importance of sleep. Some key points:

"Providing the growing brain with sufficient sleep is necessary for developing the ability to concentrate and an easier temperament" (page 7). (emphasis mine)

"Sleep is the power source that keeps your mind alert and calm" (page 7). (emphasis mine)

"Sleeping well increases brainpower just as lifting weights builds stronger muscles..." (page 7). (emphasis mine)

"...when children learn to sleep well, they also learn to maintain optimal wakefulness" (page 8). (emphasis--larger text--mine)

"Sleep problems not only disrupt a child's nights, they disrupt his days, too, by making him less mentally alert, more inattentive, unable to do concentrate, and easily distracted. They also make him more physically impulsivehyperactive, or lazy" (page 11). (emphasis mine)

"...infants who sleep more during the day are better able to learn from their environment; this is because they have a better-developed ability to maintain focused or sustained attention...They learn simply from looking at the clouds and trees, touching, feeling, smelling, hearing, and watching their mother's and father's faces" (page 24). (emphasis mine)

He talks about toddlers and how toddlers who get adequate sleep are more mild and in positive moods. "...three year olds who nap are more adaptable than those who do not" (page 24). (emphasis mine)

Some parents might want to hold off on teaching sleep abilities because some day the child will not need naps anyway. Parents will just wait it out. Weissbluth points out, "...it simply is not true that children who miss naps will "make up" for it by sleeping more at night. In fact, the sleep they miss is gone forever" (page 24). (emphasis mine)

"...the children who slept more [at age three] were more fun to be around, more sociable, and less demanding" (page 25). (emphasis mine)
Why I Worked to Get My Baby To Sleep Through the Night by 8 Weeks Old | The benefits of sleep | baby sleep | baby sleep schedule | #babysleep #babyslseeptraining

 "I believe that healthy naps lead to optimal daytime alertness for learning--that is, naps adjust the alert/drowsy control to just the right setting for optimal daytime arousal" (page 28). He also says, "Without naps, the child is too drowsy to learn well" (page 28).

 "Infants who take long naps have longer attention spans" (page 60) and "...they seem to learn faster" (page 60). 

Studies have also found children with higher grades sleep longer (page 61). And is it much longer? No. One study found that brighter children slept 30-40 minutes longer each night (page 61). That isn't much time. And studies done on sets of twins where one slept longer than the other showed that the twin who slept more had higher test scores at age ten than the twin who slept less. 

"...in a study of one- and two-year old children, those who woke up frequently were much more likely to have an injury such as a broken bone or cut requiring medical attention than those who slept through..." (page 318). (emphasis mine)

"In my own pediatric practice, fat babies are almost always overtired babies. That's because their mothers have incorrectly attributed their babies' crying to hunger instead of fatigue" (page 433). (emphasis mine)

That is just a sampling of the information in this one book on the importance of sleep. Of course, there are many more resources out there.

  • Healthy Sleep from Harvard:  "Lack of adequate sleep affects mood, motivation, judgment, and our perception of events." You can also read theories on why sleep is important here. 
  • 11 Reasons You Need Sleep. "Quality shut-eye is some of the best medicine available. It leads to more energy, helps you handle stress and improves overall well-being. Your system also benefits in countless little-known yet important ways when you get the seven to eight hours nightly that experts recommend. Sleep is your body’s time to heal, recharge and restore itself. Skimp on it, it that sleep debt affects every body function, from your memory to your mood to the number of sick days you take and even your risk for a heart attack"
  • 11 Surprising Health Benefits of Sleep: "Adequate sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle, and can benefit your heart, weight, mind, and more.

    "Sleep used to be kind of ignored, like parking our car in a garage and picking it up in the morning," says David Rapoport, MD, director of the NYU Sleep Disorders Program.

    Not anymore. Here are some health benefits researchers have discovered about a good night’s sleep."
  • Health Costs of Losing Sleep: This was on the news just a few days ago.
Conclusion
Sleep is no respector of persons. You need it even if you are a mom. You need it even if you are a baby. Moms who are aiming for their babies and children to have solid sleep habits aren't doing so to be selfish. They are doing so for their children. They believe in the benefits of sleep. They are doing so because they love their children. So the next time to you decide to accuse a mom seeking sleep for her baby of selfishness, step back and realize she loves her baby as much as you love yours, and she is trying to do the best for her baby as much as you are yours. 


Friday, October 13, 2017

Pinteresting Fridays: DIY Gifts Using Essential Oils

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The more I use essential oils, the more I want to use them. I have been doing some Pinterest searching and found some fun DIY beauty products you can make with essential oils. We have lip balm, bath bombs, shower discs, and bath salts! All DIY, and all including your choice of essential oils. 
Pinteresting Fridays: DIY Gifts Using Essential Oils

If you order $125 worth of oils from doTerra this month before October 15, you will get a bottle of On Guard FREE! That is my very favorite oil to use. It works so well to boos the immune system and get sickness out of your house quickly. If you would like to sign up, check out my doTERRA store. You can read more about essential oils and why I love them here. 

Here are some great DIY  essential oil ideas. These would make great gifts, great mother-daughter night in activities, and great DIY for you!

DIY Lip Balm from The Seasoned Mom
Essential oil DIY gift ideas


DIY Bath Salts With Epsom Salts from Mom Always Finds Out
Essential oil DIY gift ideas

Homemade Shower Vapor Discs by Yankee Homestead


Thursday, October 12, 2017

How To Choose An Amazing Midwife {Guest Post}

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In New Zealand, where I live, midwifery care is pretty much the norm. Women have the opportunity to choose an obstetrician if they wish, but barring complications, the vast amount of women here choose to have a midwife as their primary care provider for pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. However, choosing the right midwife can be a little daunting. She (or he!) will be the person that is responsible for the safety of both you and your child. Not only that, but you will possibly be in THE most vulnerable position while you are under her care. As someone who has had both an amazing midwife and a not-so-amazing midwife, I'm going to share with you 4 things to keep in mind in order to choose the right person.

How To Choose An Amazing Midwife

Know Your Rights

First and foremost, know your rights. You are in charge here. I know what it's like to feel intimidated when talking to a professional. Especially if you're a first-time mama. You're entering a world that you're really not fully informed about and it can be a bit scary. However, you are paying for this service. Even in New Zealand where healthcare is 'free' you're actually still paying for it. Things may be labelled as 'free' but if you're working and paying taxes, I can assure you that it isn't. So, don't be intimidated. Again, you are in charge of the situation. Don't feel pressured into making a quick decision and don't feel as though you're inconveniencing anyone.

Ask Around

The next thing I would recommend doing is asking around. There's nothing like hearing the truth from other mamas to know which midwife is worth her weight in gold and which one probably wouldn't suit you. Ask your mama friends and if you're in a new town like I was, then turn to Google. I typed in something like "midwives in *insert my town*" and found some online forums where midwives were discussed. Another great place to get feedback is in Buy, Sell, Swap Facebook groups. :)

Interview

How To Choose An Amazing MidwifeThis part is ESSENTIAL. Do not sign up with a midwife without a thorough interview first. In fact, I'm even going to tell you to interview at least two different midwives before making any decisions. This person is going to play a big part in your whole motherhood experience, so it really is best to be thorough and sure of your decision. Make sure to ask her questions around the type of birth experience you're after. Is she happy to do a home birth, hospital birth with an epidural, or any other type of birth in between? While I'm sure the majority of midwives are nonbiased, there are a few that have their own agenda. Remember, you're running the show and she is there to support and guide you through the process. Don't forget about qualifications and experience too! Does she listen? This one was a big issue for me with my second child. My first midwife was absolutely amazing. I honestly couldn't fault her. However, she took another job during my second pregnancy so I needed to find another midwife. I rushed the process and ended up paying for it. My second midwife was nice enough, however, she didn't listen. It seemed like she did at the time of the conversation, but every subsequent visit she would ask the same questions over and over as though she had never heard the answers before. It was frustrating. Her mind was elsewhere, and that became evident during the delivery and also postpartum. Don't get me wrong, she was a really nice person, but she just didn't listen. Considering that a midwife's job is made up largely of advocating for their client, this was a major fault. So, ask your questions, make sure you feel heard, and be sure that your personalities gel!

Trust Your Gut

Welcome to motherhood! Trusting your gut is going to be a big deal from now on. There will be times when it is all you have to go off, so start practising it now. Even if everything else checks out, but something just doesn't feel right, keep looking. With my first midwife, we could sit and chat for hours. However, with my second it felt like I almost had to entertain her. It was exhausting and again, frustrating. So, don't make the same mistake as I did. Even if you feel like an inconvenience, trust your gut and find the right person for the job.

There are things about the birth of my second child that I feel a bit robbed of which could have easily been resolved had my midwife just been mentally present. However, her inability to listen still didn't rob me of the joy of that day. Both my births were incredible experiences that I will forever cherish. Let me know, what kind of professional care did you have for your births? Obstetric or midwifery? How did you find it?

Christine is mother to two living in New Zealand and blogs at http://christinekeys.net/ .


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Best Toys for Children

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This post lists my most recommended toys for children. This will be ideally the age range of 5-8 years old. There may be four year olds who like things listed here and there may be nine year olds who like the things listed here. I have a post for four years old toys. I also have preteen ideas in Preteen Boy Gifts and Preteen Girl Gifts

Best Toys for Children


As you are adding toys to your collection, add only toys you think your child will love and don't add too many. If you are like me, you want to get SO MANY of the toys out there. The day will come, however, that you will wish you had fewer toys. So choose wisely and don't overdo it. This post contains affiliate links. 

OLD FAVORITES
I always start off these posts with talking about you looking at old favorites. Are there collections your child loves that you can build on? Does your child have a train collection you can add to? 

LEGOs
We love LEGOs at our house! These are toys I haven't minded getting over the years because all four of my childre have loved them and the possibilities are endless with these toys. This is a good starter set. LEGOs require a lot of creativity and build up fine motor skills. You can build on them over time, also.



ART and CRAFT ITEMS

Kids in this age range seem to move less from playing with toys and more toward using toys to create things. They might be creating an imaginary world or they might be literally creating crafty things. Perler beads are fantastic for kids in this range, and they stay popular into the preteen years, also. My girls have also loved this Klutz book for making friendship bracelets. A rainbow loom is another great craft toy. Playdough is a huge hit and was a favorite of both of my younger children. Kaitlyn has loved and still loves today as a preteen how to draw books. Stamps are fun.. We love Melissa and Doug stamps. Beyer paint animals are cute animals that are white that you can paint to look like how you want. Cat's cradle is a fun game that is pretty craft-oriented. 

BIKES AND SKATES

My children love to rollerblade. We started off with these very inexpensive rollerblades when they were younger. They are great. A bicycle is another great gift. This is one we have gotten in boy and girl style and really like. Outside toys are great gifts. I have written on my favorite outside toys and the ones that I think are worth the money to get.


DRESS UP

Dress up is super popular in this age range. Something simple like a cape or cloak can go a long way. Shoes and dresses are fun. We always let our children keep their Halloween costumes each year and just add them to the tote of play clothes. It isn't only girls who like to dress up, so dress up items are great for boys and girls. 


STUFFED ANIMALS
My girls all LOVE stuffed animals. I have shared several times that their favorite is Beanie Boos. They are super cute. 

NERF
My son and his friends all enjoyed (and honestly enjoy still at 12) NERF guns. They love to shoot each other and have NERF gun wars. 




CAMERA
All of my children have loved having a camera. They love taking pictures and looking at the pictures they have taken.




SAXOFLUTE
This is a toy I got for Brinley and she LOVES it. The saxoflute is a musical instrument your child can build, which changes the way things sound. While this is fun, it might drive you crazy if you have a napping baby at home, so proceed with caution.




GAMES
Board games are fantastic for this age range and so fun. I have written several posts on our favorite games because we just love games here! Here they are:
DOLLS/FIGURINES/TRUCKS 
Little figurines and dolls are toys this age group will still play with. I would add to this trains, trucks, cars, etc. My Little Pony, babies, barbies, plastic animals, comic toys, princesses





Did I leave off your child's favorite? Comment and let me know!


Great Toys
If you are looking for the perfect toy for your child, look through my "best toys" lists:


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Brinley Child Summary: 5 Years and 2 Months Old

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This is a summary for Brinley from 5 years 1 month to 5 years 2 months old.

Brinley Child Summary: 5 Years and 2 Months Old

SLEEP
I commented last time about Brinley's night with bad dreams. Brinley woke up with nightmares. She had a few in one night. Whenever my kids have bad dreams, I encourage them to talk about them. I read long, long ago that it is good for them to talk about the dream. So the next morning, she told me all about the bad dream. That night, she was afraid to go to sleep because she didn't want to have the bad dream again. 

Thus far in her life, she has slept without most of the potential sleep crutches that can come along. She has never sucked on anything. She has a favorite blanket to sleep with, but she can sleep without it. She will even pack it the night before we leave and choose not to sleep with it so we don't forget it the next day. She was swaddled as a baby, and she has always had a sound machine to help block out the noises of the household. But never a night light. 

That night, she was genuinely scared. A hard thing with dreams is I can't promise she won't have another scary dream. At all. I won't promise that to her because odds are that she will have a bad dream again. 

She is pretty logical, and Brayden and I are both very logical. So we both chatted with her about her concerns that night. In the end, we plugged in a night light. Many years ago, we bought a bunch of these night lights (affiliate link). I like these because they aren't too bright. I also like that they can be pointed in various directions, so I can make it so they don't shine right at the child. I point them at the floor. These are also automatic, so they turn on when it is dark and off when it is light. I didn't love using a night light when she has made it five years without one, but at the same time, she really was scared and this helped her feel more secure. So it is in her room now.

We also set up her stuffed animals to watch over her. A big thing with bad dreams is to help the child feel more secure. Some people create a "bad dream spray" and spritz it around the room. Prayers are wonderful. You want to set the child up to feel secure and powerful over her sleep. These stuffed animals watching over her helped her feel more safe and secure.

EATING
Eating is great! She is eating well and eating a nice variety of foods.

KINDERGARTEN
Kindergarten is going very well so far. Despite my being confident she was ready for Kindergarten as a young child in the grade (see Why We Chose To Send Our Daughter to Kindergarten On Time), I couldn't help but worry. All those posts on the Internet are all around talking about how you must keep your child back...it makes you second guess and question yourself, no matter how sure you felt. It makes you question if you really have your child's best interest at heart, because what good parent wouldn't give their child every advantage they could create?

As I wrote in the post, I don't feel that is the best way to parent at my core, however. I think there should be challenge in life. I think it makes us stronger as people. Real life is FULL of challenges. We seem to only get brief respite from difficulties in life, then we are thrown right back in. If I make life easy for my children, then how will they develop the skills to face adult life issues?

Still, I worried.

She is doing so well in every way. She loves school. The week before school starts, they test every kindergartner to see where they are academically going into the year. Brinley tested as 92% against ALL of the kindergartners in the ENTIRE DISTRICT. That was just such a strong relief to me. It verified what I felt to be true--that even though she is young in the grade, she is ready to be there. She is not struggling at all with any of the learning at all. Despite being young, she is way above average for the average child in kindergarten. Keeping her back would not have been the best move for her.

She is doing well socially, also. She has made a lot of friends. Her teacher tells me that she never sees Brinley without a large group of children around her and that she is a social butterfly. She is still thrilled every day to go to school. She is loving learning. She is doing very well at listening and following directions. She is able to sit still. It is all such a relief!

We do have Kindertude. It doesn't seem as strong to me as my other kids were, but that could be in large part because she is my fourth child and I just know very well to expect it and also have a lot of experience in responding to it. I am better at stopping it in its tracks than I was a couple of kids ago.

EXTRA CURRICULARS
Brinley has either started or will soon start the following activities:

  • Swimming lessons: She is still doing great with swimming lessons! She loves it.
  • Gymnastics: I shared last time that at Brinley's first gymnastics class, she was terrified of the balance beam. She has a literal fear of the beam. After her first class, her coach said she wasn't sure Brinley would be able to continue in the class because of that fear, but was willing to work with her and see. Nate and I talked with Brinley extensively about it. I had no problem letting Brinley stop gymnastics if her fear was too much for it. I looked into tumbling class options so she could get some of the benefits. But Brinley was determined to work through her fear. And she has! She gets up on the beam by herself. She is super scared, but does it anyway. She told me she doesn't want to be afraid of heights and she tells her body not to be. I am super impressed with this girl. I am blown away that she will face a fear like that and work through it as a five year old. Children really are amazing. 
  • Dance: Brinley has been loving dance! She is with the same studio and same teacher she has always had. 
  • Piano: Brinley loves piano. Her teacher commented that she was surprised by how much Brinley enjoys it. As Brinley has started these new activities this fall, I have come to realize Brinley is the type of person who is willing to work on a skill to get better at it. She is a perfectionist, but one who is willing to work. That is how Kaitlyn is, too, and it is such a beneficial quality in life. It is something that is just her, but it is a skill you can teach other kids. That isn't the way Brayden is naturally, but through experiences in life, he has learned that practice does pay off and things do take practice. 
SCHEDULE

7:30 AM--wake up, get read, eat, practice piano if time
9:00 AM--school
12:30 PM--home and eat lunch. Homework. Practice piano if we didn't have time. Then she can watch two shows and has independent playtime if desired. Two days a week she has her extra curricular activities. I scheduled her stuff during the other kids' school day so we didn't have our family time so interrupted. 
4:00 PM--Siblings home. Sibling play and family time. 
5:00 PM--Dinner in this hour
7:30 PM--Bedtime process begins.
8:30 PM--in bed by 8-8:30.


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