Tuesday, June 30, 2015

McKenna Child Summary {6.25 Years Old}

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This is a summary for McKenna from 6-6.25 years old. 


EATING
Things are still going well here. I have noticed that McKenna doesn't like sweets that much. When we give her dessert, she will eat some but rarely finishes it all. It is very interesting seeing the natural differences in my children. I have one who would basically eat only sweets if I let her down to one who wouldn't be upset if I banned sweets from our lives forever. 

SLEEPING
Sleep is good. The only sleep-related issue to discuss is that since summer has started (one month out of the three for this period has been summer), I have noticed her obedience levels drop significantly if she doesn't get enough sleep. With enough sleep, she is quite pleasant. Without enough, she will argue a lot of instructions. 

PLAYING
Playing is all good. Nothing of interest to report. She still primarily likes to play with dress up clothes when she plays. 

EXTRA CURRICULARS
During this time period, McKenna played soccer and softball. She finished up dance lessons and had a great recital. She is saying she isn't so sure she wants to take dance next year because she can "dance at home." McKenna is super athletic, but not naturally incredibly graceful. She gets hurt a lot through various accidents. So dance would be good for her in that regard. I am not sure what I think about the dance issue.

McKenna still takes gymnastics and LOVES IT. She super loves it. It is without a doubt her favorite thing that she does. That can definitely help teach her body control and some grace. I do worry about hitting it intensely, though. It is fine and dandy once a week, but I don't know about getting involved heavily. I worry about stunting her growth. Anyone have experience in the gymnastics world and have input on that concern?

McKenna is also still taking swimming lessons. Her swim teacher told me the other day that of all of my kids, she loves swimming the most. It is so funny considering the year-long battle we had with her in the pool (which in retrospect I think was caused by ear tubes). She is doing well and passing things off quickly. She just started learning her butterfly stroke and is quite good at it. 

She finished up piano and did super well at her piano recital. She took on a song that was a little harder than her piano level and she practiced hard and nailed it. 


SPRAINED ANKLE
At her last soccer game, McKenna was running along, then stepped into a hole in the ground (why was there a hole on the field?!?) and sprained her ankle. This was a week before her dance recital.

I have a good friend who is a physical therapist. She checked McKenna out. She had a minor tear. She said that research is finding to let children self-regulate. I did keep her from gymnastics for two weeks. We kept her foot wrapped up for about 5 days. I did IB Profen for two days and iced it as much as possible for two days. I let her self-regulate, but there were times I let her "self-regulate" by putting a movie on, propping her foot up, and icing it. The day after she sprained it, she was doing monkey bars and jumping down from them...so she isn't the best self-regulator.

Just when her ankle swelling was pretty much down and she seemed okay, she was jumping on our trampoline with balls, landed on a ball, and re-rolled the ankle (yeah). She tried to tell me it didn't hurt and tried her best to walk normally without a limp, but I could see in her eyes she was hurting. We had a movie day with ice the rest of that day. We also have a new rule that McKenna cannot jump with balls on the trampoline. She seems to be totally fine at this point--it has been about 5 weeks. 

HONESTY ISSUES
I really hope this is a phase. Nurture Shock talks about it being a developmental milestone. I remember Kaitlyn having an issue with being honest around this age. McKenna will often lie to me. "Did you brush your teeth?" "Yes." But luckily she isn't usually a good liar--she gets a deer in the headlights look on her face. 

One day, I noticed a little lock of her hair was cut. I asked her who cut her hair (I am careful to not ask questions I know the answer to--it had obviously been cut. With a child who lies, you don't want to set them up for failure). She told me one of her best friends and our neighbor had done it. I spent the day asking her about the story and how it all went down. Then I let us both sleep on it.

I wasn't convinced, but she didn't look like she was lying, either. 

The next morning, I told her that I was going to talk to her friend's mom about the hair cutting and that her friend would get in trouble. Did she still stick by her same story? Yes she did. I figured if she were willing for me to take it to that level, she was being honest. 

I talked to the mom. She talked to her daughter, who insisted that she hadn't cut it, but that McKenna had cut it. She said McKenna had gotten gum stuck in her hair and cut it out. My friend and neighbor said her girl isn't always the most honest, either, so we weren't sure who was telling the truth.

I went to McKenna and told her the friend's story. At that point, McKenna conceded and said her friend was telling the truth. It was not exciting to me that McKenna had improved in her lying skills (though she isn't improved across the board). 

I talked with McKenna about how what she did was not okay and how it had hurt several people. I told her it was unkind to let her friend get in trouble for something she had done. We went to her friend and McKenna apologized and asked for forgiveness, then I had McKenna apologize to the mother and ask for her forgiveness, as well. 

Since that day, she has definitely improved in her honesty, although she does still lie at times. McKenna definitely is a perfectionist and wants to never make a mistake. Her lies are often to cover up mistakes. Sometimes they are simply to move on to playing sooner (like with teeth brushing). 

SCHEDULE
Here is our typical schedule. I will put the school schedule here since she was in school for most of this period. 

7:00 AM--wake up. Eat breakfast. Get ready. Do morning chores. Read scriptures. 
Then free play.
12:00 noon--lunch
Then free play.
1:30 PM--SSR
2:00 PM--IPT 
3:00 PM--free play
5:30 PM--Dinner. Then time with family.
7:00 PM Start getting ready for bed.
8:00 PM--in bed 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Forgive Yourself

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image source


If you are a reader of this blog, I think I can safely assume that you are a parent who is actively invested in trying to do everything "right"--right according to your own judgement and discernment. Of course, we often are faced with situations as parents where we don't necessasrily know what "right" is in the context of our situation. We have to make a judgement call in the moment.

Because we are humans, there will invariably be times when we make the wrong call. In our 20/20 hindsight we look back and see the choice we made was not the "right" one. We should have acted differently in the situation. We should have chosen a different consequence. We should have responded a different way. We made a mistake.

This retrospective analyzing happens quite often as parents, and I find for myself it happens most often with my oldest child, Brayden. With him, I am always a first time parent. I am always facing situations for the first time with him. Because of this, I make the most mistakes with him. I have the most "ooopps--that wasn't the best option" moments. I think we all know what those moments are like. 

And this leads me to the message of my post. Forgive yourself. Yes, you make mistakes. You need to move past them. Learn what you can, apologize if needed (it isn't always), forgive yourself, and put it behind you. Don't stress about it! Children are resilient. Children are incredibly forgiving. Children can and will survive the many mistakes we make as parents (now, this is of course referring to normal, everyday mistakes parents make, not serious actions). 

Don't let fear of mistakes paralyze you. Do what you think is best at the moment. If you find that wasn't best, learn from it and tweak your strategy in for the next time. When you make a mistake, it isn't as though you are thinking to yourself, "Ha ha! I am going to do XYZ because that will really take things in the wrong direction!" No! You are thinking, "I am going to do XYZ because I think that is best for my child." If you find it wasn't, offer yourself grace and take the lesson learned, act on it, and move forward. Your child will learn from your mistakes as well--it is a great gift for your child to see that you are not perfect and that mistakes are a normal part of life. Your children will forgive you, and you should, too.

Wondering why you should bother with forgiveness? Read this post on Why Bother to Forgive Others? (that includes yourself!)

Friday, June 26, 2015

Drowning Information {Keep Kids Safe this Summer}

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One day last month, I read an article on How to Save Your Kid from Drowning. It was very interesting. The signs of a drowning person are not what you think it will be. Rather than flailing around, the person basically holds very still. The statistics are staggering; about half of the children who drown each year do so within 25 yards of their parents or another adult. If you do not know what drowning actually looks like, you definitely need to read the article above.

1-2 weeks after I shared this article on the Chronicles Facebook page, we were at swimming lessons. I sat watching my children and the other children goof around in the pool. Suddenly our teacher swam a mad dash to a boy who looked to be between the ages of Brayden (10) and Kaitlyn (8). She pulled him from the pool as the lifeguard got to the edge.

I asked her if he had been drowning, and she confirmed that yes he had. I was looking around and didn't notice it was happening even after I had just read the article. I would hope that if it had been my child and I knew the child's normal behavior that I would recognize it for what it is.

There are two other types of drowning that you will want to be aware of. They are dry drowning and secondary drowning. These both can happen when the child is not in even in the water. They are both rare, but do both happen. It can happen one hour or 24 hours later. You can read more at Dry Drowning: Know the Signs and Dry Drowning and Secondary Drowning.

I don't share these things to spread fear or make you paranoid, but to make you aware. It is good practice to have your children close to you if they are unable to swim the length of the pool alone. Do not think a flotation device will be a perfection protection. After you go swimming, watch for unusual behavior. Keep your kids safe this summer. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

How Parents Can Help with Swimming Lessons

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As parents, we want our child to succeed in life. We also want to help in any way we can with different processes in our children's lives. We don't, however, always know the best things to do to actually be helpful. I think this is especially true for swimming lessons. 

Get Your Child Used to the Water
Before your child takes swimming lessons, it is very helpful if  you can get your child comfortable in a swimming pool. Do not assume that comfort in a tub will equate to comfort in a pool. The two locations are very different--temperature of water, size of the container, and ability to touch the bottom and sides are just a few examples of extreme differences in the two.

So take your child to the pool at times. 

Once you know the pool you will have lessons at, it would be an excellent idea to take the child there before the first lesson. Your child will likely do better than he would otherwise at his first lesson if the pool is familiar to him.

If your child is not used to the water, do not be surprised or frustrated if your child spends a lot of time crying at lessons initially.

Start Young
We have had the same swim teacher, Hailie, for the last 3.5 years doing private swim lessons. She is also a coach for the swim team and is over the public swim lessons. I asked for her input for this post. Her first piece of advice was to start young. She said, "No matter the child, don't wait past the age of 4." She said she has found that waiting long just leads to an increased fear of the water and that makes it harder for the teacher to break that fear. She also said it is a lot easier to work with a scared 3 year old than a scared 5 or 7 year old.

Find a Good Pool and a Good Teacher
Ask around to find a good program. You will want input from people who have very recently been in lessons--programs can drastically change quickly. We started at a pool where I was not impressed wit the quality of teaching. They also seemed to pass everyone to the next level whether they should be or not and grouped children based on age, not on ability. I get that kids have fun with peers, but it isn't doing the children favors so far as really learning to swim.

We ended up moving pools and finding a private teacher. I have loved that!

Hailie said that no matter where you are, if the public swim classes have more than 6 kids to a class it is not worth it. That will not give your child enough instruction time. She also pointed out that a lot of public swim teachers are inexperienced, so you want to be sure there is a supervisor walking around and helping teachers. "If you can't identify a clear supervisor, the lesson program is no good" Hailie told me.  

Ask and Tell
I think there are things we parents really prepare our children for. Take the dentist. We know that the dentist can be scary. We talk to our children about the dentist and practice at home. Another example is potty training. We get potty books, watch potty videos, and talk about it with our child before diving into the training process. With swimming, however, we often just take the child to the pool and expect the child to embrace learning to swim. 

Learning to swim is at least as scary as the dentist. It is also a lot more challenging than learning to change from peeing and pooping in a diaper to doing it in a toilet. I am not taking anything away from the difficulty of potty training--it is often a difficult process. But it is a natural process. Learning to swim is usually not natural for a child. 

So spend some time mentally preparing your child for swimming lessons. If you don't know, find out what the child will learn to do at first. Explain it to your child. Talk about what will happen and what it will be like. Be honest. Tell your child it might be hard and maybe even seem scary, but that you know your child can succeed if she tries. Talk about how it will be so exciting to learn to swim. Be honest and say it will be hard work. Tell her that the teacher will be very nice and that she can trust this stranger who is going to ask her to put her face in the water. Talk about how fun it will be to get in the pool more often.

Tell your child what you expect of your child. "You are not allowed to tell the teacher no. You need to obey the teacher just like you need to obey Mommy." Also talk consequences for failure to follow through with consequences.

Finally, be sure you child knows that all you want is for your child to try her best. You don't care how fast she learns or picks up on it all, just that she is trying. Children have very different rates of progress through swimming. Some are more natural than others. Some often have trouble staying buoyant when young due to lower body fat content. Some can't progress quickly until their body proportions reach a certain place. Be satisfied with a best effort. 

Now, you know your child best. If you feel like there are things you shouldn't discuss unless necessary, go with your gut. For example, some children might not even think that swimming could be considered scary until you said, "It might be scary." With children like that, you wouldn't want to tell your child she might be scared. Consider what you think your child needs to hear before the first lesson to be successful and go with that. 

Be Patient Through Process
All children are very different in the process of learning to swim. Brayden (now 10) started out scared. He was very scared, but always did what was asked. As time went on, he slowly got less scared. New skills would make him nervous--like flip turns and dives--but he progressed in a linear way. Today he is on the swim team.

Kaitlyn (now 8) started out with no fear. Then she grew to be scared (thanks to an inexperienced teacher who left Kaitlyn out alone...not great). She then was fine. Then got scared again and declared she would never put her face in the water. Then she was fantastic. Then she got really scared for no known reason. Then she was fine and didn't look back. She didn't have as much trepidation about dives or flip turns. Hesitation, but not fear. She has passed everything off now. 

McKenna (now 6) started off fearless. She progressed rather quickly--probably too quickly. I think her skills grew faster than her maturity level to handle the skills. She also got ear tubes and the water really bothered her ears. In retrospect, we should have tried plugs. She went through a time of crying through her lessons after progressing several levels in with no issues. We had to sit out of site or she would refuse to do what her teacher asked. We tried pulling her from lessons. She didn't really improve greatly until the ear tubes were out. Since then, she has gone back to progressing quickly and loving swimming. 

Brinley (almost 3) has not yet started lessons. I plan to start her when she turns 3. She started life with no fear of the water. She spent a lot of time in the pool just because we were in the pool a lot. She has recently started to be nervous with the water, however, so I am not sure how she will do in swimming lessons initially. She got a little nervous with water after getting toppled in a wave when we were in California last November. 

My point in sharing these stories with you is to encourage you to be patient as your child works through the process. There will be ups and downs. If you all stick with it, though, you will come out successful in the end.

Have Appropriate Expectations
It is wise to know what you can really expect out of swim lessons. Hailie, our swim teacher, pointed out that if you only do swim lessons during the summer, you need to realize that the child will have forgotten skills during the time since last summer (just like kids forget school skills during summer). She recommended starting out your summer lessons on the last level the child passed off as a refresher.

You will also need to do more than one class in the summer if you want to see real progress. Whether you do private or public, you can't just do a handful of lessons and expect there to be vast improvement. For public lessons, Hailie recommended 2-3 sessions (at eight 30 minute lessons each). For private lessons, she recommends eight to ten lessons of 30 minutes each of one-on-one time. 

Swim at Other Times
During the time period of lessons, keep that familiarity up with the pool. When our children were younger and feeling nervous about lessons, we made a point of going swimming just for fun. We would just have fun and eventually encourage the child to show us what he/she had learned in lessons so far. We would count to see how long the child could float on the back. We would help the child practice skills he/she was afraid of doing with the teacher. Learning to swim is a skill just like learning to play the piano. It is helpful to get practice outside of a lesson. It doesn't make sense to expect mastery of swimming with swimming happening only at lessons just like it doesn't make sense to expect ability to play the piano if piano playing is only happening during lessons. Another comparison could be made with softball or baseball. You probably wouldn't expect your child to improve only at games. You would expect some practice would need to happen outside of games to really make improvement. 

Crying is Okay
It kind of seems like most children go through a phase of crying or at least being upset during lessons. It is usually best to stay out of it if your child is crying. Do not go to the side of the pool and try to talk your child into being okay with it. Most of the time it is best to leave the child with the teacher and let it be worked out. 

It would be wise to talk with the teacher beforehand and find out the policy and expectation. I think many times parents approach the child because they don't want to leave some poor teacher with their screaming child. If the teacher tells you beforehand, "I've done it a million times. It is best for you to just let the child be if she cries" then you will feel more confident in letting the teacher handle it. Let the teacher know that you will stay back unless she signals for you to step in.

You might need to sit where the child can't see you. When McKenna had a hard time, her teacher told me that almost always the child would stop crying if she couldn't see the parent.

Hailie, our swim teacher, said to stay out of the way of the teacher. She said, "Even if you have the screaming 3 year old, leave them. They kind of go into 'survival mode' after a short time and start to do what the teacher wants only because the teacher is the only person around they have a connection to. If mom is still there, they will scream for hours and hours."

Talk to Teacher
This leads me to just talk to the teacher. Find out what the teacher wants from you and doesn't want from you. Parents often interfere in the process too much, but again, I think that is the parents trying to be good parents. It is helpful for you to know proper expectations just like it is helpful for your child. These teachers teach a lot of kids and know what generally works and what doesn't.

There Will Be Hard Times
Hailie pointed out that many parents do not understand what it takes to learn to swim. She said that to teach a child to swim, the child will have to feel what it is like to sink a little. The child is going to go under water and will likely get water up the nose. The child will probably cray about that (see crying section above). She emphasized to "let the teacher keep teaching." Many times when a child cries, it means they are being pushed to learn. And that is why you are paying money for lessons right? To learn. You could spend less money to just go hang out in the pool.

Set Goals
We made a sticker chart for each child for passing off various strokes and skills. Any time a child passes something off, we all go out for ice cream on our way home from that lesson. This has been a very motivational tradition. 

Have Good Equipment
You shouldn't need much for swimming lessons. One thing to consider is the use of goggles and flotation devices. 

Initially I didn't want my kids using goggles because I didn't want them dependent on goggles. However, I learned they did better with goggles. Looking back, I don't see an issue with goggles. Swimmers on swim teams use goggles. And through the years, my kids can all go into a pool without goggles and still have an enjoyable time. Also, if you are going to get goggles, get good ones. I have to buy goggles from a swim shop--not even the "box store" googles of the same brand are very good. We like Speedo. 

There is a lot of debate surrounding flotation devices. Some people swear by them. It is a way to get children comfortable with the water. Others swear they only harm. They say they discourage proper technique and can also give a false sense of safety. Know the opinion of the pool you will be taking lessons from and find a pool that lines up with your own opinion.

Conclusion
Expect swimming to take time. Your child won't master it in a short swimming lesson session. Be patient with the time your child needs. With time, your child will get it.

More Swimming Posts:
life jacket

drowning information




Today, the ladies of the BFBN are all sharing tips for summer. Be sure to check out all of their blogs today to get some great ideas for summer!


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Simple Way to Teach a Love for Reading

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I am a huge proponent of reading. One of my main goals as a parent has always been to teach my children to not only be capable of reading, but love reading. I come from a line of readers, and I believe the person who can and does read opens a whole world of possibilities to himself. One of my greatest payday comments came this year when my child's Kindergarten teacher watched Brinley (2) do an activity with letters. The teacher commented that my children are all really good readers. This is something I have worked toward, so it is nice to know the effort has been worth it.

When I cam across the idea of Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) in The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease, I was very excited. It has come to be my number one favorite piece of advice from the book. It is something I do with my children consistently (when they are not in school) and have seen many great benefits from it.

WHAT IS SSR?
SSR is essentially reading for pleasure each day. When it comes time for SSR, you choose your reading material--whether it be magazines, a book, the newspaper...whatever it is you feel like reading, you read. You read together so that the children can see you modeling reading, but everyone is silent.

WHY DO SSR?
  • SSR provides the opportunity to read for a long enough length of time that reading becomes natural. SSR has been shown to improve reading skills.
  • SSR gives children the opportunity to read for fun. It shows kids that reading can be for pleasure. There are no quizzes and no tests--no pressure. SSR has been shown to improve attitude toward reading.
HOW DO YOU IMPLEMENT SSR?
Here are some tips on implementing SSR in the home:
  1. You can do SSR with a non-reader.
  2. Start with a shorter length of time. 10-15 minutes is a good start. You can then move up from there according to age and ability of child. We do 20-30 minutes a day; however, my children have been know to continue SSR for another 20-30 minutes.
  3. Allow the child to choose his/her own reading material. Remind the child to gather enough reading material to fill the time. For a child who cannot read independently, she will likely need several picture books (or whatever she chooses) to get through the 10-15 (or longer) minutes.
  4. Have a variety of reading material available in the home.  Research shows that "the more kinds of reading material in a home the higher the child's reading scores in school" (page 90), so don't feel like if your child chooses to read the paper or a comic book it is worthless time spent reading.
  5. Have SSR at a time of day you can be most consistent with. For my older children, I like to have it after lunch. This is a time of day that is great to relax and take a break. This is especially true during hot weather months.
  6. You read, also. You will come to love this time as much as your children do! You modeling reading is an important part of the effectiveness of this exercise.
  7. No getting up and changing material once SSR has started. Part of your goal is to have sustained focus on reading, and if the child is getting up and down over and over to change books, it will distract from that goal. That is why you remind them to get enough to last through the time. If they mis-judge (and they will at first), tell them to look through their books again.
  8. No talking during SSR.
  9. No reports after SSR is over. This is just for fun. That doesn't mean you can't talk about what you read, just no formal testing. Let your child initiate any dialog on the reading material.
ANECDOTAL EXPERIENCE
Like I said, we love our SSR. We have now been doing it for about many years.

I love it for me. I love reading, and this is a chance for me to get some uninterrupted reading time each day--something that can be very hard to come by as a mom! 

I love it for my children. I see that they love it--they never grumble or complain when it is SSR time. It also gives them a physical break in the middle of the day and allows them to just relax and escape into the world of whatever they are reading. This is fantastic for older children who do not nap anymore.

I have also seen reading skills improve greatly, especially in my full-on readers. I have seen my children get faster and faster at reading when doing this daily. When my oldest was seven, he went gone from finishing a chapter book in a day or two to finishing it in just over an hour after a couple of months of doing this (we then added some more difficult books for him because of his speed). When SSR is over, he always wants to read longer. 

I see the efforts of SSR paying off in our home. Give it a try! You will see great benefits, also.

More posts on reading here.



Great chapter books for beginners

Reading aloud to preteens

Reading aloud to children

Reading aloud to preschoolers

Reading aloud to toddlers


Reading aloud to infants


how to help your child love books



Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Brinley Toddler Summary: 34.5 Months Old

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Brinley and me at a baseball and softball game (they
were actually right next to each other so we were watching
both). She is my ball watching buddy.
This is a summary for Brinley from 34-34.5 months old.

SLEEPING
Sleeping is great! She had a day of testing getting out of bed at nap time. I heard a door slamming and was about to go have a talk with the older kids on not slamming doors--especially during naptime--when I stopped and thought. I realized the sound had come from Brinley's room. I checked the video monitor (love) and saw her bed empty. I talked through the monitor (seriously an awesome feature) and told her to get in her bed. She quickly did. 

Being able to talk into a the video monitor is seriously fantastic. A lot of times kids will test getting out of bed in order to have a visitor. Other times, the child gets some thrill out of seeing you frustrated and will get out of bed just to see your reaction (so if you do have a child who gets out of bed and you do not have a monitor, do your best to remain perfectly calm). I love being able to just tell Brinley to get back in bed without having to go to her room and let her expand her scientific testing with the process.

EATING
Eating is good. Nothing new or different. 

SICK DAY
One morning, I got Brinley up for the morning and saw her hair was wet. It didn't seem sweaty so I checked her bed and determined that she had thrown up. It was recent and there were no food chunks (sorry for the TMI, but really, this is a parenting blog and we parents talk straight about bodily fluids). 

She wasn't upset or anything. I set her on the ground and started to strip her bed. As I did, she started to throw up more (though dry heaving would be a more accurate description). I caught the little fluid that came out in her blankets I had taken from the bed. 

I then took her straight to the bath. I know a lot of people don't do showers or baths on sick days, but for me personally, I always feel better when I am clean so I always give my kids showers and baths when sick. Then I pulled her hair all up and away from her face so she couldn't throw up in it more. 

She did not want any food. I grabbed a bowl for her and demonstrated how to throw up into it. Then I got her comfortable and turned on some PBS kids. She watched some shows and threw up in her bowl one time (yay! That is a great milestone--learning to throw up in the bowl rather than everywhere else). 

She ate applesauce for lunch and had no issues for the rest of the day. Brinley was a little trooper on her sick day.

SUMMER
Brinley is loving summer. Her siblings are home all day every day. She has lots of fun time to play with them. It is interesting how different life can be for different kids. For Brayden and Kaitlyn, summer days were just like any other days. For Brinley, they are significantly less structured. We do do a lot more playing in summer and therefore Brinley's days are not as consistent from day to day. I do strive to keep her nap most days. She also has independent play most days (though last week she didn't have it one of the days all week). 

Kaitlyn (8) has been getting Brinley up and feeding her breakfast most mornings. Guys--it is fantastic. They both love it. I love it. Kaitlyn has even gotten her out of the bath, diapered her, dressed her, and combed her hair. I might be really sad when school starts. I love seeing Kaitlyn nurture Brinley and Brinley loves being doted upon by her older sister. I love seeing Kaitlyn get all of this mommy practice, also. Kaitlyn will be such a fun and sweet mom some day. She tends to give in to fits, but she is learning over time how to stick to rules. It is a good experience for them both. 

SCHEDULE
This is her typical daily schedule for summer--not a lot of structure.

8:45 AM--Wake up/Breakfast/Get ready
Sometime between breakfast and lunch, have Independent play for 60-90 minutes
12:00 PM--Lunch
1:30/2:00 PM--Nap
4:30/5:00 PM--Wake up and Free Playtime
5:30 PM--Dinner
6:00 PM--Family Time
8:00 PM--Get Ready for Bed
8:30 PM--Bedtime

During the day, we will do learning activities, play outside, go for walks, go to the park, go do other fun stuff...what we do each day has varied a lot so far.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Combating the Mommy Wars: Meet My Friends

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I have this major dislike for the "Mommy Wars." I haven't ever been one to be a "one right way" to live life sort of person. Perhaps it is because I was raised by a Democrat for a father and a Republican for a mother. Perhaps it is because while I went to church each week on my own, the rest of my family usually stayed home while I was a child. I guess I wasn't raised in a climate where there was a singular correct way to be in life. We were always encouraged to have our own opinions and be our own, individual selves. 

So I don't get the Mommy Wars. I mean, as I think about it, I understand where it stems from. Parenting is something we all basically make up as we go along. Yes, we can get ideas and guidance from others, but each child is an individual and each dynamic between the parent and child is different, so there is no way you can get "one right way" to raise children universally. You can get ideas, but that is about it. But as parents we can feel insecure in our decisions. We seem to think that someone doing something differently means they think we are doing things wrong. We feel defensive about our parenting decisions and think we need to prove others are wrong in order to assure ourselves we are doing things correctly.

We just don't.

If Suzie feeds her baby with a bottle, it doesn't mean it is wrong for you to breastfeed. And it doesn't mean Suzie is wrong, either. If Jane does cloth diapers, it doesn't  mean you are evil. 

I mean, chances are Rachel, who lives 2,000 miles away from you, did not make her parenting decisions based on what you are doing. It wasn't about you. It was about her child

So let's stop worrying about what Mrs. Jones is doing and just focus on doing what is best for our own children. 

There is no one, singular right way to raise children. 

As I have thought about this topic, I have thought about my own close Mommy friends who live close by to me. While I have things in common with each of them, there are also a lot of differences among us. We have different practices and rules. And guess what? They are all nice people with nice little children. 

I imagine you are in a similar situation. You probably have friends with very different parenting practices in life. And do you all fight and tell each other how terrible their decisions are? I doubt many do. And yet many of us will do that as mothers when we hide behind the protection of a screen. I wanted to demonstrate how mothers can be close and respect each other even when they are super different. 

At our last girls night, I had those who were there fill out what they liked and admired about each other, especially focusing on what they liked that was different from themselves. In this group of women, some believe in CIO, others can't let a tear fall. Some co-sleep and some have children who don't even know that is even an option. Some are strict organic eaters with very healthy menus while others have a pantry full of treats available at all times. I have friends who are pro-breastfeeding (one is a lactation consultant at the hospital) on to a friend who has never breastfed ever ("These are for recreational purposes only"). I have working friends and stay at home moms. Some have their children wear the same pair of PJs for a few days straight while others have their kids looking ready for a photo shoot at any minute. We have strict bedtimes and...what's a bedtime? I could go on. There is a huge variety among us.

Each shoe is different. Each looks different. Each functions differently. But you can love each shoe.
You can want each shoe. You can find every shoe fantastic. 
This post will not cover everyone. I would love to introduce you to all of them some day. These are just the people who were at our last girls night. This isn't even to speak of my friends who don't live in my town! The comments are anonymous. They didn't (and haven't until now) read any comments of anyone else. I hope as you read them, you can think of your own circle of friends and the things you have in common as well as the things that are different. We can expand our own sisterhood from our close circle of friends into all women everywhere. I love the idea of a "Sisterhood of Motherhood." Each person who strives for that will make a positive impact. #sisterhoodofmotherhood


BreeAnn
Bree is a strong and amazing woman and mother of three. She is a breast cancer survivor. She is a working mom and breastfed her twins through pumping and bottles (seriously, I can't imagine doing it). She is extremely disciplined in life and works hard at everything she does. She is very smart and really good at researching. She is a hard worker in life. She puts a lot of effort into her children. 

"I love how you're so happy and have a zest for life! I love how you have creative ideas to overcome challenges with children."

"Bree's kids are always so cute. She always has them clean and well dressed."  

"Bree is goal-oriented, has great time management, is very dedicated to kids/family, and is a super sweet mommy." 

"Bree works at a job that she loves and doesn't let that distract or take away from being a good and loving mother. She beat cancer! She is such a strong person!"

"I love Bree's zest for life. She is always so happy and teaches that to her kids. She enjoys life and her kids. She takes time to show her kids how to enjoy everything." 

"Bree is very nice and is a good friend. She is patient. She is very capable and does a great job managing her children. Her kids are sweet and always look adorable."

"Being a stay at home mom has always been a #1 priority for me. Bree works but what has always impressed me is that she makes it work with her husband to make them be with either parent as much as possible." 

"You are such a strong person with great perspective. I admire your kindness. I will always love you for coming to see me in the hospital. You didn't have to do that. You are always offering support." 

Brooke
Brooke is another woman of great strength. Shortly after I met Brooke, her second child, who was just a bit younger than McKenna, passed away from SIDs. Brooke has since had two more children. It has been amazing to watch her go through the whole process. She is very faithful. Brooke is a very sweet and nice mom.

"She was one of the first people to introduce herself to me when I moved in. She made sure I knew when church was and when activities were held. It helped me stay active here. Her kids are very cute! You can tell she loves being a mom."

"I love the way Brooke really spends time with her kids and makes that time count. I love that she stays away from social media and just cherishes that time with her kid. She is one of the sweetest people I know. I love watching her interact with her kids."

"I admire Brooke's outlook at the big picture. She is amazing that she is so positive. She is also very protective of her kids and watches them so carefully."

"Brooke has a big heart and is very kind. She is always serving others. She is easy going and lets her children be free-spirited and individuals. She is resilient."

"Brook is service oriented. She is amazing and can do extremely hard things with grace. She holds the reigns of her household. She is independent and has constant strength. She is always there."

"I love how you see the good in people. You have a pure love for your children."

"Not only is Brooke beautiful on the outside, she is gorgeous on the inside. She is always thinking of others and making them feel included, wanted, and valued. She is simply amazing in my eyes." 

"Where do I start? I am so grateful you became my friend. You are the kindest most generous person. You are always putting others first. I have never heard you speak a bad word about anyone. I admire you as a mother because you are always patient and loving. You always put your children first. I love that you are involved and they are your priority. You are the best mom ever."

Geneva
I lovingly call Geneva "Piper" because where she goes, children everywhere will follow. Geneva can't say no. The children all know at park day that Geneva will push them on the swings when no other mom will (including their own). She is super fun and hilarious. She does not get offended about anything. She never takes things personally. Geneva has battled the pains of infertility and has delivered both of her children very early, but she has persevered through it all with a great sense of humor and high spirits. 

"She's loud and outgoing and makes people feel comfortable to open up about things. She spoils her kids-they are her life and she's okay with the fact that she spoils her kids."

"Geneva has fun! She is confident in herself and doesn't care what people think. She really cares lovingly for her children and is a good example to them. She has a great sense of humor but can be serious and responsible when she needs to be. She cherishes her children."

"Geneva I love how you make people laugh and how you accept people for who they are. You're very non-judgmental. You are a calm and laid-back mom." 

"She is so much fun! I could listen to her tell stories for hours. She love her kids. She is the neighborhood treat lady and a party lady. She knows what is truly important and focuses her attention there. She is the fun mom."

"Geneva can't stop and won't stop! She is super fun and creative with kids' activities. She is super sensitive and loving to her kids."

"I think she is the funnest mom! She is always doing fun activities with her kids. She also spends quality one on one time with each of her boys."

"The life of the party--that's Geneva. Somehow she can stand having her children up really late. She must have a lot of patience. You can tell by the way she is with her boys that they are her world. She was another one that intimidated me when I first met her--I thought she was way too cool for me. But she is accepting of everyone and seriously so fun." 

"I love how Geneva lets her kids be themselves. She and her kids love life an love to have fun and laugh. She has let them develop their own personalities. she is the fun mom that all the kids love!"



Jami
Jami is very real. I love that about her. You know she won't say something to you unless she means it. Jami has a masters degree, which is something I greatly admire about her. She has three girls who are the ages of Brayden, McKenna, and Brinley. Jami is highly involved at the school and we work together closely with things there. Jami runs a local museum. She went through a hard time last year when her young mother unexpectedly passed away from brain cancer. Jami handled it well and with honesty. 

"I love how dedicated Jami is to her kids. I love how she educates them and also lets them play and enjoy life. She works hard to always enrich her kids lives."

"I love that she takes time to talk to her kids about pretty much everything. They communicate very well. I try to implement that with my kids--it doesn't always work, so I appreciate how hard that can be." 

"Jami just all around exudes confidence. I admire that she is down to earth and studies things she is interested in. She is a great story teller and has a great memory."

"I love how you are always helping people with anything, just chatting or smiling or finding something that will be very beneficial for them. You are so great at giving your children the one on one chatting or time they need."

"I love that Jami is not only a parent but a friend to her girls. One of my favorite things is that the girls all go on a date with their dad on Valentine's Day so they will always feel loved on that day and when they are older, they will know they have a date for that day!"

"I think you are so fun. You make me laugh. I appreciate your no nonsense approach. You say it how ti is and you are easy and fun to talk to. I love that you are so cute and loving when you talk about your kids. You never make me feel like I can't be myself."

"Jami is goal oriented, has good time management, and does fun activities with her children. She is involved with her kids."  

"Jami is passionate, a gentle mother, a history buff, and independent." 

Jenni
When Jenni is in the room, I think it is universally known and uncontested that she is the nicest person present. She manages to be kind while not being someone to push around. You know she has her own thoughts and opinions even though she is very quiet about them. She has three little ones with one on the way. Jenni takes what life throws her way in stride.

"Jenni is so soft spoken and quiet, but when it comes to her kids or something she believes in she gets a strong voice and is passionate. I admire that."

"Jenni I love how you love movies. How you take time to enjoy them. You have patience with your children and you are involved with them in fun activities." 

"I love how much she laughs. She always seems so happy." 

"I don't know Jenni very well. I do remember a time when she asked for advice about an issue with her kids. It made me feel better about my kids because I'm constantly asking for help and advice. It's nice that I am not the only one that feels at a loss sometimes!"

"Jenni is sweet with a  quiet presence." 

"Jenni is super sweet, even to her kids. She is very fun and super creative."

"You are such a sweet girl. I love the way you talk to your kids. You are very patient. I have never heard you say anything unkind." 

"Jenni is very sweet and sensitive to others. She has a lot of patience. She says nice things about others. She is a good example to her children of kindness and charity." 

Karli
Karli's discipline methods are among my favorite. She has been known to empty her child's room and put everything on the front lawn when he wouldn't clean it. She expects her four children to obey and she makes sure they do so. She is willing to spend her time for her family. She always has her girls' hair done very cute. She is the one who really inspired me to work on feeding my children real breakfast each day and not just cold cereal--just by her example. She is super responsible and reliable. Karli has a child with celiacs and a child who is lactose intolerant, and she spends a lot of time making meals the entire family can eat together. I can't imagine the hours she puts in each day just to make meals.

"Karli has a really big heart. Her children are well behaved and always well-groomed and just completely adorable. She is very service oriented. She is willing to try new things and is a good sport. She is a good friend."

"I love the way Karli teaches her kids to be responsible. I love how when a problem arises, be it doing chores or being fair, she addresses it right then and sticks to it until her kids understand." 

"I love her 'we have to be fair' parenting style. I just think it is so awesome! And the time she put her son's stuff in the yard. She is teaching them life lessons and too many parents just don't do that anymore. She loves them enough to be tough."

"Karli is dedicated to her family. She is not afraid to put her foot down when necessary for her kids' sake. She is fun."

"I love(!) her parenting style with being fair, room belongings on the front lawn, etc. She has great wisdom." 

"I love Karli's parenting style and tactics. I mean seriously, counting Cheerios so it is "fair"--genius!" 

"I love how strong and loving your are. It is amazing to me of how you love and just keep going no matter what. You expect to be respected by your children and in return you respect them." 

"I love talking with you about nothing. You are always kind and understanding. I love that you are easy to talk to. You are a great mom and always patient."



Karrie
Karrie is the most complimentary person I know. She truly sees the best in everyone around her and is not shy at all about letting each person know how much she admires things about them. That is a rare quality. Karrie lost her father when she was young, and she is the one who spoke saying the pain doesn't lesson, you just get better at handling it. Karrie is always fun and is fully invested in her two little girls. She had dangerous pregnancies and she fills her desire for more children by always watching someones children for them.

"Karrie is very compassionate. She is very conscious of others' feelings and opinions. She is very dependable. She follows through with directions she gives her children so they respect her and take her seriously. She lets her kids have fun and be individuals."

"I love your sincere personality, your laugh, and that we can laugh together. You are never critical of our differences. You are warm and open minded. I love you!" 

"I love how Karrie balances playing with her kids, letting them explore on their own, and setting boundaries. She takes time to really answer and explain her kids' questions. You can tell how much she loves and cherishes her children by the way they act together. "

"Karrie is always so nice to everyone. She makes sure that everyone feels liked and included. She is a fun mom. She lets her kids be kids and have fun. She wants them to explore life to its fullest! She's always so willing to help anyone that needs it. She's a very great friend."

"She is loyal, strong willed, and fun. She is not afraid to stand up for what is right."

"Karrie rolls with the punches. She understands her kids and their natures. She parents them accordingly. She is the neighborhood babysitter who loves everyone as her own. She is a friend to all and she seeks out the underdog."

"Karrie and I have similar parenting styles, which I love--chill but firm. Sh is also very non-judgmental and accepting of others. I really, really like her!"

"Kerri is always explaining things to her very curious girls. She will always tell her 'why'." 

Lacey
Lacey moved to our town right around a year ago. I was working in our church nursery at the time. I remember her little girl coming in and crying. I gently said to the little one, "You are okay." She believed me and stopped crying. I knew this was a girl who had a good mother. Lacey is honest and real. She doesn't mince words. 

"I love how Lacey keeps it real. I love how she teaches her kids how to accept everyone around them. She teaches her kids how to love everyone no matter their thoughts/beliefs." 

"Lacey you are my kind of girl. You are not afraid to be yourself. You say it how it is and I love that. You laugh with me and I appreciate that." 

"Lacey is a super fun mom. She is hard working and good at time management."

"Lacey is a no business attitude. She is honest. She is a spicy momma! She can lay the smack down and yet is vulnerable." 

"I was surprised when Lacey told us she had low self confidence in high school. She comes across as being so self confident, which just goes to show there's a little bit of fragile in each of us." 

"I love your spice. I love how you just accept life for how it is. You teach age appropriate manners." 

"Lacey is honest and has confidence. She is fun to be around and has a good sense of humor. Her girls always look adorable and are good friends to each other. I like that she is real and says what she is thinking. She isn't phony." 

"Lacey doesn't have quantity time with her two girls so she is very good at spending quality time with them."

Serra
Serra is the mom to three children with one on the way. I have every confidence that her children will look back on their childhoods and describe it as "enchanting." She has been known to let her children do things like fill up a soup pot and add herbs to their hearts content as they "make soup." Serra is my photographer friend who takes many of the pictures you see on my blog. She is amazing. She is always thinking of ways to help people and just does it for them--she doesn't just say, "Let me know if you need help"--she thinks of a way to help and just does it. 

"Allows kids to be kids. She is laid back and fun-loving. She is a very sweet mom."

"Serra doesn't sweat the small stuff. Love abides in her home. She respects her children's independence. She is a gardening diva and a creator. She is a mother hen who sees the good in all." 

"Serra is very talented. I love all of the pictures that she takes of her kids. Their life is well documented. I feel that she lets them explore their neighborhood but the girls are always together looking out for each other."

"I love the confidence Serra's kids have. She really lets them be themselves and explore on their own. I love that she is more laid back with parenting which helps teach me to relax a little bit." 

"I love how you tell about the positive things in situations. I love how you let your children eat Nutella sandwiches." 

"Serra is patient and kind. She enjoys serving others. She lets her kids be individuals and fosters their spirits."

"I appreciate you for your sense of humor. I love that we can laugh together. I admire your patience with your children. I have never heard you raise your voice. I also love that you are laid back." 

"Serra is a very laid back mom. She is great at letting her kids be kids. She parents so her kids are taught the important things and lets the little things go." 

in my defense, this was a Halloween party


Valerie
I feel silly adding myself here, but I was there and so here are the comments my friends had for me.

"Val is great with structure. She is the 'go-to' momma to help with problems. She is confident. She is strict but loving. She has control of her household. She is organized and planned."

"Val has great time management. She is goal-oriented and patient." 

"Val, Val, I love you. Who would have thought you would become one of my favorite people. I love that you are very organized and particular person. But my favorite thing is how much fun you are. You are so willing to have a good time. As a mother, I love how organized you are. You never seem overwhelmed. You can handle anything." 

"I admire her time management and organization skills. Her children are obviously her top priority and she will do anything to see they have all the advantages they can. She is honest or forthright and I trust her. She is dependable."

"Valerie is the most organized person I know. I love that she has such an awesome schedule and always takes the time to stick to it. From learning time, chore time, to play time. I have much I could learn from Valerie."

"I love the way Val parents. Her kids know what is expected and what will happen if they misbehave. She loves them by setting boundaries and teaching. She expects her kid to be great giving them the confidence to be great!"

"I love how organized you are. I love the inner strength you hold. I really like how you are so calm with children."

"I feel Val is very strong and protective. I've seen her be the "mama bear"! I love seeing someone who still thinks it is okay to stick up for their kids." 

"I was really intimidated by Valerie when we were first getting to know each other. Now I love Val. My favorite thing of all can be put into words. Val is wise. She things things through and knows her opinion, but is open to others ideas and opinions. She takes everything into consideration without making someone feel lame. But my absolute favorite thing is, although she has a lot of "mommy experience" with the blog she NEVER flaunts or says her way is the "best" and "only" correct way. She knows when to speak and when to keep her mouth shut :)."


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