Lessons Learned on Raising Kids – So Far…

IMG_7269A friend of mine recently sent me this New York Times Article about life lessons a woman learned in her 40s. At one point she says, “Everyone is winging it, some just do it more confidently.” It made me think, we as parents are always so hard on ourselves and others about parenting, and really we are all just trying to get through the day. Maybe there are some life lessons so far that I have learned in the 5 years of being around my nephews, nieces and my own girls. Here they are:

  1. There are not many right and wrong ways to do things – do what works for you and your children.There will ALWAYS be people around you that will judge you – but at the end of the day, they are not living in your home, with your supports, and your kids. So, don’t pay anyone else any mind. Just keep going.

  2. Kids are resilient. If you feel like you are ruining your kid – chances are you aren’t. As long as you are doing your best to give them their necessities – which some people have blown out of proportionate reality – then they will be fine. Love and support (alongside basic human needs like food water and shelter) go a long way.

  3. Forget the rat race… It seems these days that because other people kids are in karate, swim, dance, tumbling, gymnastics, singing and art at the age of 3, there is some unspoken pressure that your child should be doing all those same things. I really believe that kids just need the chance to be kids. All these activities are fine, but not when they consume their entire life. My fondest memories are of playing in the backyard and making Double Dare challenges with melted cheese!

  4. Take time out for yourself. If you are energized and rested, chances are you will be a LOT more tolerant and patient with your kids. If someone offers help, take it. If your grocery store has a little kids area where you can leave your toddlers for books and games, use it. If you feel like you need help, ask for it. You would be shocked at how many friends that offer to help actually mean it (granted these are mostly the friends that don’t have their own kids yet). Take turns with other parents where you watch all the kids one night so they can go out, and they can watch another night so you can go out! Even though kids are our world, there is still much needed ME time!

  5. Enjoy the moments in real time. Get away from your phone, computer, iPad, etc. In today’s world, we are all so busy capturing the moments, then spend time editing, posting, sharing, tweeting, insta-ing, FB-ing. And in ALL the time you just spent doing that, you missed the cute gesture that happened right after the picture. If you can, spend the time really being there and enjoying the moment, you will more likely remember it and it will be a part of you, rather than capturing it in a picture and then trying to remember what actually happened right before/after that picture. I agree that some things are worth capturing. But in your every day lives, give yourself and your family media free time to just enjoy being who you are and who your children are becoming! Here is one of my favorite videos depicting this very phenomenon!

  6. Lastly, enjoy this age. Whatever age your children are, enjoy them! Enjoy their current interests, curiosities, friends, etc. Sometimes we are all so busy, that we forget to look at how much our babies face changed since she got teeth, or how long her hair is when the curls straighten out, or how she just had a 2 inch growth spurt in 4 months, or that your little ham is obsessed with walking/running around with her hands in her pockets! Yes, these are the little things that when you look back in 15 years, you will want/try to remember. It really does go by SO fast!

What are your life lessons that you are learning as a parent, friend, relative, babysitter of little ones? Please do share!

Interviewing a Baby Sitter – 5 Essential Questions

Thinking about child care when you are not at home might be one of the most petrifying things to have to think about. So, I thought about the top 5 things that I feel are essential to ask someone when you are interviewing them for a babysitting gig. Please feel free to add on essential questions that you feel are important, but here are mine, in no particular order:IMG_8245-2

1. When would you feel the need to call/text me? (I would expect a call/text even in the case of trying a new food). What would you do in case of an emergency?

2. Are you CPR certified? If not, are you willing to get trained within 2 weeks of starting to work here (you can compensate this cost if you would like)?

3. Can you describe a typical day of babysitting children this age? (then say for example how much TV time, how much crafts time, etc.) – we do not promote any media time with our kids right now, so if the babysitter has a lot of media time planned, for me it would be a no no.

4. Are you comfortable with: changing diapers (can you tell me the cardinal rule for changing a baby girls diaper (wipe front to back)), giving baths, brushing teeth, making formula, etc. depending on what your needs are. I have had many sitters tell me that they are NOT comfortable with things, which I appreciated, and also did not hire them knowing so.

5. How do you handle fighting/biting/tantrums? This will tell you a lot about how patient the sitter is and if s/he is willing to adopt your methods of disciplining. Like when I talked about not using time-outs anymore.

What additional questions do you have that you think could make or break a babysitter hire???

TIME-OUTs: What message do they relay?

Someone once told me, when a child is having a tantrum because it seems like the worst thing that could have ever happened to them, maybe it IS the worst thing that has ever happened to them in their 1/2/3 years of existence. We tend to forget that these little souls still have SO much to learn about this world through experiences, and when they do not know how to cope, that is when they act out, BUT that is also when they need us the MOST!

I know many parents/teachers/caregivers that put kids in a “time-out” when they are misbehaving/ acting out/ having a tantrum. I was quite curious as to what kids must be thinking when they are given a “time-out.” In searching through many articles, I came across this recent one in Time Magazine that explained that “time-outs” are actually harming our children! The article talks about how we are sending a message to our little children that “when they make a mistake, or when they are having a hard time, they will be forced to be by themselves.” What a scary thought, even as an adult. The last thing a little child needs is to be put in isolation when they are having a hard time.

So instead of “time-outs,” the suggestion is to focus on “time-ins.” What does this mean? Well instead of saying “go sit in the corner by yourself,” you can try “let me sit with you and when you calm down we can look at why this is bothering you (although you don’t have to use that many words).” It sounds idealistic in the moment when you are in the middle of Target and the tantrum begins. But, next time try distraction – my favorite right now is “OMG look at that big bug in the corner, what is he doing??? Do you see it, do you?!” (meanwhile, there is no bug – but in looking for it, they kind of forget what they were crying about in the first place – most of the time). Kids start the tantrum for attention, but try to find out what kind of attention, usually screaming and threatening them with leaving is not it. For older kids, try talking it out… “Why do you need these shoes right now? I think they are tired and need to rest like when you are tired, so let’s wear these other shoes for now and we can check on them later.” In trying these methods, you will give your kids a chance to be empowered to control their emotions and potentially/hopefully create better coping mechanisms for dealing with them. Have you tried any “time-in” techniques that have worked during a major meltdown?

 

Intelligence versus Effort: What are we praising?

drawing2.jpgI have been reading this book called Mindset by Carol Dweck and let me tell you how in just the first couple of chapters it has made me realize that I may be praising my kids all wrong?! Dweck talks a lot about how starting from when kids are very little, we praise their intelligence non-stop. Examples like: “You’re so smart,” “You’re the best,” “You’re great,” “You did so well,” you get the idea. However, that type of praise, the praise of intelligence, is perceived by kids to be something innate, something that they cannot change or improve. They believe that what talent they are born with is the talent that they have. So they tend to only stick to things that they are “good” at and shy away from a challenge. They look to maintain/prove their appearance of being the bestest, smartest, greatest at the things we constantly praise them for.| However, there is a different type of praise. Praise around effort. Examples include: “I like how you concentrated on your worksheet without asking for a break,” “You must have practiced really hard” (after having a good game/dance recital/etc). This type of specific praise lets them know what they did to deserve the praise and what they can continue to do to get more. They learn that with effort comes success/praise/improvement. AND that if they are not good at something, they can exert effort and become good at it. They think of challenges as opportunities and not as limitations. MIND-BOGGLING isn’t it. We all do it, want to show everyone that our kid is the best, greatest, smartest, and most beautiful child in the world. But with that, are we setting them up for failure? Here is the article that got me thinking, and that even 8 years later, we have not made much progress. This book is an excellent read, highly recommend it. Enjoy! Have you had an ah-ha moment from reading just this short snippet on praise?

Toddler Bites …

Over the last few months, I really thought about things that were making me frustrated/sad/mad/impatient etcetera with my kids… Quite to my surprise there was a laundry list of which most of it had to do with me! So I decided – since there is NO WAY I could be the only one dealing with these kind of issues through the toddler years. SO I want to make this a place where we can share our journeys of Raising our Babies together… the ups, the downs, the tricks and the tips… lets all get together and get through this insanity!

Today I would like to share one of my biggest dilemmas – and I HOPE you will chime in to make it all make sense for me/provide guidance and/or validation.

eating-2

Over the last 6 months, I have really been pushing my 3-year-old daughter to feed herself. Mainly when we are at home, but also times like at parties – especially if the “big kids” around her are feeding themselves. In my stubbornness to have her feed herself and be a big girl, every night at the dinner table has been “Take a bite or else…” “Take a bite and I will give you…” “Take a bit or no…” “Take a bite if you want to…”! Unless its something she wants to eat (mostly food with no nutritional value), every night there is this ongoing saga where tensions rise, then she ends up being a ‘bad girl’ for not finishing her food after being given an hour to do so, and she loses out on being a ‘good girl’ for the small amount she did eat herself. I tried the just let her eat however much she wants and she will learn, and she has legit gone 2-3 dinners of not eating a bite. I should also mention that her 2-year-old sister sits across the table from her being fed by an adult.

So, at the start of 2015 (she is now 3.5 yrs old), I decided to just go back to feeding her (only our ethnic food, as the other stuff she still eats on her own), where I tell her stories and she just eats. Dinner is finished in 20 minutes, no one is tense, everyone is a good girl and then we can go on to playing before bathtime and milk. I do feel like it’s a step backwards, but for the sanity and happiness at the end of the day… is it worth it??! HELP!!! How long did you feed your toddler? How did you transition to full meals on their own? Are there any tips/tricks you have used to get your toddler to eat on their own – even stuff they may not like!?