Posted in Parenting

Ups & Downs

Ups and Downs

Charles is a very sweet little boy.  He is just full of love.  He runs on hugs, kisses and cuddles; these are what fuel his days.  However, like most (if not all) 4 year-olds, he lacks the abilities to express exactly how he feels and the strategies to deal with his emotions when they bubble up.

Charles is also very intense and his emotions are always very close to the surface.  He’s not happy, he’s elated.  He’s not hurt, he’s near-death.  He’s not sad, he’s heartbroken.  He’s not irritated or angry, he’s (and please forgive the language) fucking pissed.

A couple of days ago, for instance, he completely lost it when I told asked him to get ready for bed.  Because of the busy weekend, Charles missed out on naps and ended up going to bed later than usual, so I decided to have him go to bed a little earlier than usual.  He was more than annoyed.  He decided to show his displeasure by shutting the washroom door on his little sister’s fingers because she happened to look at him while he was pouting.  Then, when I asked him to apologize, he completely lost it.  He started screaming at me, kicking, hitting me and throwing things at me.  I told him that I was going to let him calm down.  He stayed in his room a good five minutes, letting loose primal scream after primal scream.  After that, we were able to talk.

This time of the year is always very difficult.  Income-tax season is difficult on everyone around here, but it is especially difficult for Charles.  Every year, the weeks following the end of the month of April are difficult.  Charles struggles with the the fact the he missed his dad during his 60 hour weeks.  He struggles with the joy that he felt when his dad takes the first week of May off to spend with his siblings and himself and with the sadness brought about by his return to work afterwards.

I feel poorly equipped to handle his outbursts.  We are always able to have a good talk afterwards.  He is always able to tell me how he could have worked out his anger or frustration differently.  I always repeat to him that I love him no matter what.  That I love him as much when he is kind and happy than I do when he is angry, yelling and throwing things at me.  I know better than to try to talk to him when he’s out of control, but I lack the tools to help him manage his emotions in the short lapse of time that occurs between frustration and utter meltdown.

How do you go about helping your little ones manage overwhelming emotions?

Posted in Guest Posts

Guest Post: Tips for Parents Before They Send Their Kids Off to Camp or Daycare

Today, I’m super excited to feature a guest post by Alex Robbins (thank you!).  With registration to summer camps on its way, this is a must read!  I hope you find it as informative and enjoyable as I did.

TipsCampDaycare

Tips for Parents Before They Send Their Kids Off to Camp or Daycare

By Alex Robbins

Sending your kids to a child care program – whether it be a summer camp or a daycare – can be a great idea for both parent and child. Kids can experience new things, make new friends, and learn new skills while parents can have some much-needed relaxation time. It’s a win-win situation – if you make the right decisions. Here are some essential tips for parents on what to do and consider before sending their kids off to camp or daycare.

Talk to you child and figure out the right type of camp

If your child isn’t ready for the full sleepaway camp experience, it’s important to figure that out before you send them on a trip that could end up disastrous. Conversely, if your child is ready for an adventure it would be a shame to bore them with a minimal camping experience. Does your child want to stay local, or venture to a camp that’s further away? Is your child ok with all-day daycare? Or do they need half-day care to work their way up to being apart from you for that long? These questions are vital to knowing the right situation to put your child in over the summer. Don’t exclude your kid from the conversation. In the end it’s all on you as a parent, but your child is the one who’s going. Their input should not be ignored.

Know how to avoid bad programs

There’s nothing worse than spending your money on a summer camp or daycare center and finding out later that the facility isn’t taking good care of your child. Maybe the program is uninspired, the facilities are dirty or under-maintained, or the staff is unqualified and unattentive. It’s worth it to take the time to do your research beforehand, so you can weed out any bad apples.

One thing that should send up major red flags is the program’s child to caretaker ratio. If there are too many children and not enough adults, it’s very unlikely that your child will receive the proper amount of attention. Another thing to look for is accreditation. Some non accredited centers are just fine – even wonderful – but you really need to dig deep to figure it out. Accredited programs have gone through rigorous tests to ensure they are up to snuff.

Talk to the staff at the camp or center. Ask how they are chosen. What are their qualifications? Is there an open-door policy, as in there are no restrictions on when you can show up to check on your child? If not, they may have something to hide.

Talk to your kids about possible dangers

It helps to be prepared – even over-prepared. Before you send your child away to be in the care of others, you must talk with them about some potential dangers that could arise.

One talk you need to have is the one about alcohol abuse. It’s important to set clear boundaries for your child, so if the moment arises they will have your voice in the back of their head. It’s also important to take an understanding approach, however, that doesn’t scare or shame. Your child needs to feel comfortable being honest with you, and that can’t happen if they are constantly in fear of punishment.

Another talk you should have is the physical abuse talk. It’s a tough subject to bring up, but it’s paramount to ensuring your kids have a safe and fun time while away. Let your kids know that there are no such things as secrets when it comes to their interactions with adults and other kids while away. Be frank with your kids, so they will know how to accurately describe any situation that made them uncomfortable, should the unfortunate situation arise.

You wouldn’t take a vacation without doing the proper research and making specific plans. Sending your child on a “vacation” is no different. Take the time to pick the right facility and talk to your kids about any potential dangers – even if they seem far-fetched.

Alex Robbins is a father to three lively boys who believes that home safety is a number one priority when you are around this much energy and curiosity! He is involved with a community of parents at Safety Today that have come together to help promote safety in the home and in the community.

Posted in Parenting

Lovely Weekend

Over the weekend, we were lucky enough to have some very lovely weather.  On Saturday, we decided to make the most of the near 40cm (about a foot and a half) of snow we’d received during the week and went out to play in the yard after the kids’ nap.

Charles and Amélie jumped on the occasion to grab their sandbox toys and had a blast in the snow with them.

Elliot was thoroughly unimpressed with his predicament of being stuck in a snowsuit, but he was a good sport and hung out in the fort his dad was building.

I made a snowman with Amélie and wanted to get a family selfie with our snowy friend, but Amélie and Charles wanted nothing to do with it.  So I grabbed Elliot (because he couldn’t do anything about it hahaha!) and my husband and we took a selfie of the three of us.

The kids played a bit in the toy chest and Elliot started to smile as he got used to sitting in the snow.

Afterwards, we decided to bring the kids to Subway for supper.  Here they are, looking tired, and chillin’ while they wait for the dada to bring the sandwiches to the table.

We finished off our day with some ice cream at the shop next door.  Elliot had his first taste of ice cream and to say that he loved it would be an understatement.

How was your weekend?  Do you have any snow hanging around?

Posted in Parenting

Polar Bear Bellies

polarbear-1

I don’t know how things are at your house, but around here, Charles always seems to have his most important questions either when I’m on the toilet or driving.  A couple of days ago was no exception.

The conversation started out innocently enough.  Including Charles, there are five kids in his daycare.  He is the oldest and Amélie is the second youngest.  He was telling me that he was bigger than C, who is bigger than Amélie who is bigger than L who is bigger than A.  Now, given that I know that he likes his information to be precise, I decided to add that though his sister was bigger (taller) than L, she was younger than her (albeit only by a couple of months).

I.  Blew.  His.  Mind.

This brought upon a whole new realm of possibilities in his head.

“Is that true?!?”, he exclaimed.

“Yes”, I answered.

“Ok” [pause] “when will C (who is one year younger than he is) be older than me?”, he asked.

“She’ll never be older than you”, I replied.

Wait for it…

c4326fa27456770263a4df5bd9d7a4c3

“Why?” he asked.

Bam!

“Well, because when you a baby like Elliot, she was still in her mommy’s belly”, I explained.

Boom!  Mind blown.  Again.

“Mama polar bears can have babies in their bellies too, right?”, he checked

(because, of course, that was the only logical jump to make in the conversation)

“Yes”, I said

“And it’s just the woman polar bears who can have babies in their bellies, right?”, he questioned.

“Yup”, I answered

“And they need the dada polar bears to help them get a baby in their bellies, right?” he continued.

I wasn’t sure I liked where this conversation was going, but I answered anyways:

“Exactly”

“How did you and daddy make babies together?”, he asked.

“Well, um, we went in our room and closed the door”, I said, hoping it would be enough.

“Ok”, he said, apparently satisfied.

The Zootopia song Try Everything played in the background as he pondered what he had learned.  After a few minutes, he was ready to pursue his interrogation.

“How does the baby come out of the mommy’s belly?”, he wondered aloud

(Oh sh*t!)

“Well.  The baby grows inside an organ called the uterus.  When the baby is ready to come out, the uterus contracts and pushes the baby out”, I answered whilst crossing my fingers hoping he didn’t ask where the baby came out from.

He didn’t.

“Does it hurt?”, he asked instead

“Well, it doesn’t hurt the baby, but it can be a little painful for some mommies, sweetheart”, I replied.

“Ok”, he said, seemingly satisfied.

Woah!  These birds and the bees conversations are getting more and more intense each time we have them.  I can’t help but wonder when the next one will come up and which questions will be asked!

img_2717
Charles, master interrogator, comfortably seated in his favourite interrogation chamber.  Haha!

When did your kids start asking questions about pregnancy and birth?  How did you answer them?

Posted in Parenting

The Existential Questions of Parenthood

So, I’ve been doing this parenting thing for a little over four years now and I’ve got a few unanswered questions.  Perhaps one of you more experienced parents could help me answer them.  Or, do you have your own to add to the list?

  1. Why does the baby always wake up as soon as I’m on the verge of falling asleep?
  2. Why does the toddler insist on eating everything with her hands except stuff that should actually be eaten with one’s hands?
  3. Why does the baby always wait to be put in a fresh diaper before pooping?
  4. While I’m at it, why does the baby always have to spit up all over his and my freshly cleaned clothes?
  5. Why do the kids always want to listen to the same song/watch the same movie/read the same book over and over and over and over…again?  (For the record, the song of the moment is “Let it go”.
  6. Why are the kids always ready to leave in record time when I’ve got time to spare, but take forever to get dressed when I’m in a hurry to leave?
  7. Why does the toddler have to put on her underwear, pants and shirt the wrong way around every single day?  (Mind you, I’m not complaining, she gets dressed by herself).
  8. Why does a sudden urge to pee always happen when we are at the farthest possible distance to a toilet?
  9. Why is it that on the one night the baby decides to sleep well, the toddler or 4 year old have to wake up screaming or crying?
  10. Why does the washroom have to become the new communal area (oh, don’t mind me, I’m just sitting here pooping.  Sure, why don’t you come sit on me with your story!)?

    No words can describe how much I love the little buggers.

Posted in Parenting

Being “That” Mom

I’m “that” mom.

You know, the one who sits her 2.5 year old in a rear-facing car position even though she reached the minimal age + weight & height limit to be seated in a forward-facing position a year and a half ago.

I’m “that” mom.

You know, the one who still has her 4 year old in a seat with a 5 point harness even though he’s reached the minimal weight/height requirement to be allowed to be in certain booster seats.

I’m “that” mom.

You know, the one who makes her kids take off their winter coats, no matter how cold it is outside, before strapping them into their seats.

I’m “that” mom.

You know, the one who reads the car seat user manual cover to cover to make sure that she knows exactly how to safely install said seat in her/a vehicle.

I’m “that” mom.

You know, the one who insists on strapping her kid’s car seat in another vehicle by herself to make sure it’s properly secured.

I’m “that” mom.

You know, the one who spent many hours on car seat safety forums and websites.

I’m “that” mom.

You know, the one whose father actually called the police department to make sure that he could safely and legally install his 4 year old grandson’s car seat in his pickup truck for their morning together.  (Dad, you’re a rockstar!)

I’m “that” mom.

You know, the one who takes extra time to make sure that the straps are well secured and that the chest clip is at the right height before making her way to her own seat.

I’m “that” mom.

You know, the one who takes so long to drive out of the parking space you want when she has her kids with her.  (And, incidentally, I’m also the one who doesn’t give a shit about the old dude honking his horn because he feels it’s taking her too long to drive out of the parking spot he wants.)

I’m “that” mom because my kids’ safety is my responsibility.  Call me crazy, intense, overprotective, overzealous.  Call me anything you want, I don’t care.  Sticks and stones, you know…

Additional information:

*This post was prompted by a story that popped up in my Twitter feed yesterday.  It was a very sad story about a mother who lost her baby in a car accident because of improper car seat use.*

Posted in Guest Posts

Write for me Wednesday: Preparing Your Young Ones who are Going to School for the First Time

Preparing Your Young Ones who are Going to School for the First Time

First day of school

Your child’s early years are extremely critical in his/her development because it lays the foundation for being ready at life. And this is backed up by science. Recently, researchers have learned that the human brain develops expansively, and is most receptive to learning, between 0-3 years of age. This is why early education plays a big role.

This connection, this link between rapid brain development and peak learning receptivity has spawned many early childhood programs that incorporate books, videos, and activities to maximize this window. What’s great about this is you can now start preparing your children at home to make them successful later on, specifically for school. As a parent, there’s nothing more fulfilling than to see your child able to overcome challenges in his/her life.

Here are some practical ways to prepare yourself and your young ones to attend school for the first time.

Enrol your child to a day care or playgroup.

The closest thing to a structured and formal setting of a school is a day care or a playgroup. In that environment, your child will be able to learn new things and interact with different kinds of people—which he/she will be doing plentifully and more regularly at school.

When choosing a school, tag your child along.

A lot of uneasiness in a child stems from his/her inability to cope up with the sudden change in environment. That’s why it makes sense to let your child see which school he/she might go into before the “first day” starts. This will help your child get familiar with the place and the routine.

Share your own “first day” memories.

If your child already has a concept of “going to school” because you enrolled him or her in a day care, just keep reminding him/her what it was like. But if your child doesn’t have this frame of reference to keep him/her in check, then perhaps the best way to go at it is to share your own “first day” experiences. The very least that this could do is to help your child at setting expectations and that what he/she feels is completely normal. Dr. Diane Levin of Wheelock College said: “Talking about the basic sequence of the day will help your child make a mental movie of what to expect. Kids form pictures in their minds, and reviewing the process in detail will make things more familiar and less scary on the first day of school.”

Talk about “going to school” with your child more often.

Opening up the topic of “going to school” with your child more often can ease up the tension brought about by introducing a big shift in his/her life. Engage in conversation by question-and-answer will help your child imagine what school will be like, and this will also reveal what your child’s innermost thoughts about school are.

Start going to bed earlier.

One or two weeks before school begins, start practicing a stricter bedtime schedule with your child. This will help him/her cope up with the time demands of schooling. Begin by waking your child up 15 minutes earlier every day and going to bed 15 minutes earlier each night.

Learn about the drop-off policy.

Most schools have a drop-off policy. Find out if they allow parents to walk their children into the classroom and how long they can stay. If you think your child will need extra time to adjust, talk to the teacher or administrator before the school starts. But I suggest that you stick to their policy if it won’t cause too much trouble.

Transform their nervousness to excitement.

It’s completely normal to feel the nerves when you’re presented with something entirely new to you. The best thing you can do about this is to divert that energy to a more positive one. For example, let your child pick out what bag or lunchbox he wants. When shopping for school supplies, let your child find the items in the store and check them off on your list.

Prep yourself too.

Most first days can be emotionally charged for both mother and child. If you can’t hold it together, how much more can your child hold up on his own? Plan and play all the possible scenarios that can happen on the first day. Think about what your child needs in a goodbye. What will be most helpful — a quick goodbye, or five minutes of cuddle time with you?

You can also read books about starting school. Some good ones include “The Berenstain Bears Go to School” by Stan and Jan Berenstain, “Annabelle Swift, Kindergartner” by Amy Schwartz, “First Day Jitters” by Julie Dannenberg, “I Am Absolutely Too Small for School” by Lauren Child, and “Get Ready for Second Grade, Amber Brown” by Paula Danzinger.

About the Author

Joanna is an entrepreneur mum blessed with 3 lovely children. She lives in Dubai with her family, and loves to travel and cook healthy meals for her kids. Joanna regularly shares her parenting tips and experiences with Afterschool.ae, an online platform listing all UAE kid’s activities accessible by parents thru web and mobile.

Posted in Write for me Wednesday

Write For Me Wednesday: Pool Safety Tips for Parents of Young Children

Today I have a super interesting and important post to share with you from Patricia Sarmiento who founded publichealthcorps.org.  Patricia is an avid swimmer and runner. She channels her love of fitness and wellness into blogging about health and health-related topics. She played sports in high school and college and continues to make living an active lifestyle a goal for her and her family. She lives with her husband, two children, and their shih tzu in Maryland.

Untitled1
Via Flickr – by erkillian5

Pool Safety Tips for Parents of Young Children

Sometimes I feel like I grew up in the water. I started swimming at a very young age, and I wanted my children to love the water as much as I do. As a result, I introduced both my children to the pool when they were still babies. But that said, I was well aware of how dangerous the water can be for little ones.

Before I put my son in the pool for the first time, I wanted to be sure I was well-educated in water safety for babies and toddlers. If you’re the parent of a little one and you want to learn about about pool safety, try this all-inclusive guide to recreational swimming safety. Then, take a look at the tips below. These are a few of the essentials for not only keeping babies and toddlers safe around water but helping them develop confidence in the water.

Keep child within arm’s reach. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using “touch supervision” for children under the age of 5. If little ones are in or around the water, always be within arms reach.

Start lessons early. When I started my son in swim lessons as a toddler, some of my friends and family thought I was nuts. Even my mom told me she thought I was wasting my money. But I insisted and here’s why: As this Brain World article points out, a National Institute of Health study found that swim lessons for kids ages 1 – 4 can reduce their chances of drowning by as much as 88 percent. That was enough to convince me!

Avoid using floaties. My daughter didn’t take to the water as well as my son. She hated toddler swim lessons and after two classes we had to abandon them completely. She was just too miserable. I tell you this to let you know that I, too, am guilty of letting my children use flotation devices. The one way we could get my daughter to enjoy the water was to let her float in her PFD. That said, as Water Safety Magazine explains flotation devices, such as floaties, can lead to bad habits that may make learning to swim later on more difficult.

Learn CPR. A few summers ago all the parents on our street made a pact—we would all become CPR certified. A couple of houses on my street have pools and several of us have young children. We knew our kids would be swimming a lot, and we wanted the peace of mind of knowing CPR-certified adults would always be present. So, we worked together, babysitting for each other while we attended classes until we were all certified. To this day, we all regularly renew our certification. It is something that is relatively easy to do and it can make such a big difference. Check out PoolSafely.gov to learn more about how to find a class in your area.

With the right supervision and knowledge, children of any age can be safe around the water. Keep these tips in mind, slather the kids in sunscreen, and have a great summer!

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Gladly Giraffe

Disclosure: I do not get paid for reviews.  Though I received a copy of this book free of charge, all opinions expressed are my own.

Picture

When I received an email offering me a chance to review a new children’s book, I, of course, couldn’t resist.  Gladly Giraffe, written and illustrated by a brother/sister team (how cool is that!), is a wonderful book and hits all of the right notes to make it a great children’s book.

First off, there is the fact that it is more like an illustrated children’s poem than a traditional story.  There is a good rhythm throughout most of the story which makes it easy to read and the rhymes only add to the story’s appeal.  The author quite obviously put a lot of time and effort and thought in the text.

Then, there’s the illustrations.  Just as expected from a children’s book, they accompany the text wonderfully.  When I read the story to my French-speaking toddler (I, of course, read it in English because the text was in English), he was always able to understand the big picture because of the illustrations.  Some of them are also quite silly and my son got a few giggles out of them.

Lastly, the story sends a super positive message by exploring the themes of friendship, helpfulness and gratitude.

All in all Gladly Giraffe gets two thumbs up from mommy and another two from Little Dude.

The book is available as an ebook or printed in hardcover or paperback format.  For more information, I encourage you to take a look at the book’s website.

Posted in Parenting

Write for me Wednesday: The Basics

I touched on this subject about a month ago in a TTT, but it is time to make it official.

I’ve been blogging for a little over 10 months now (already!) and I love it.  Over the past few months, I’ve encountered some pretty kick-a** blogs and have made some bloggers who I consider friends.  I am totally blown away with the talent that is out there and I would love to feature some awesome bloggers here on my little ol’ blog.

Here are a few of the subjects that I would love to see ’round here, whether it be because they are subjects I have not touched upon (or have barely skimmed) or because I am looking for alternate view points on subjects I am passionate about:

Family life

  • Whether you are a stay-at-home parent, a work-at-home parent, a working parent or a single parent, I would love to hear about how you took the decision to do what you do and how you.

TTC / fertility treatments / adoption

  • Did you have trouble conceiving or was it a breeze?  Did you decide to opt for adoption?  Help others know that they are not alone by recounting your story.
  • Are you an adopted child?  Can you give us some insight into how being adopted has affected you?

Food and nutrition

  • Do you have simple, yummy and quick recipes that are a hit every time?  Please share!
  • How and when did you introduce solids and why?
  • Did you choose formula, breastmilk or a combination of the two (or something different for each child)?  Why?
  • Does your child have food allergies?  How did you learn about it and when?  Did you have to go on an allergy-elimination diet?

Birth story

  • Were you induced or did everything go naturally?  Did you make a birth plan?  Did you follow it? Who was there for support?
  • Did you have a home birth, a hospital birth or a birth in a birthing center?  Did you have a c-section?  Did you opt for a VBAC?

The post-partum period

  • Did you go through PPD?  What did you do that helped you?  How did you realize that you had PPD
  • Was it love at first sight or did your bond with your baby build over time?
  • What are some of the things that happened during your post-partum period that no one had warned you about?

Homeschooling

  • Why did you choose to homeschool?  Do you plan to do so throughout the schooling period or for parts of it (ex: only grade school)?  What are some good resources for parents that are thinking about this?

These are just some of the subjects that I could think of.  The bullets under each category aren’t meant to be restrictive, but rather to give an idea of some of the things that could be touched upon.  I’m looking for submissions of any form whether they are personal stories, research-based posts or other.

If you are interested in writing a guest post for me (pretty please!!!!) just shoot me an email at mommytrainingwheels (at) gmail (dot) com

Can’t wait to hear from you!

Cheers!