Archive for the ‘Pia Watzig’ Category

Is Sleep Training Safe?

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

_DSC2002-2As a first-time mom, figuring out how to get my baby to sleep was a mind-boggling task. Advice from my mom and mother-in-law was confusing. They never had issues with their babies sleeping, they just slept. Maybe they no longer remembered their struggles, or maybe times have changed so much that we parent in a completely different way today.

Today, we debate, question and over search everything with raising children. Sleep training, or teaching a baby older than 6 months how to self soothe to sleep, is a highly debated and theorized topic. In a new study from American Academy of Pediatrics in which 43 babies were tested to see how different sleep training techniques affected their stress levels, the babies were separated into three groups: graduated extinction, where babies are allowed to cry for short periods of time over several nights; delayed bedtimes where bedtime is moved by 15 minutes later every night thus making the baby more tired; and a control group. The babies were tested for a full year by checking the cortisol levels in their saliva both in the morning and at night. At the end of the study, they were checked for parent-child attachment and checked over behavioral and emotional problems.

The study showed that none of the babies had any emotional or behavioral issues. The graduated extinction and delayed bedtimes groups showed lower levels of cortisol later in the day, where the group who received no training had higher levels.

(Editor’s Note: It is important to point out the difference between graduated extinction, which is bouts of crying punctuated by bouts of comforting by a parent, and total extinction, which is what most parents associate with cry-it-out. Total extinction is no contact with baby until he or she stops crying. This is not what the study covered and is unequivocally harmful to an infant’s normal development. The sleep training method covered in this study was graduated extinction.)

Sleep is such an important thing for both babies and parents–both for development and growth but also for an emotional and coping time for parents especially. While the babies in the study showed normal levels of cortisol, the mothers in the studies showed lower levels of stress when their babies slept consistently. Having been an extremely sleep-deprived mama, I remember the stress from exhaustion in those early months and how it affected my family. Sleep benefits everyone.

The learning curve as new parents is as steep as it gets, yet it is reassuring for parents who wish to sleep train to learn that it is safe to do so. In our family, sleep training is a way of life–in fact I revel in the fact that my boys are all decent sleepers. Trusting our gut instinct as a parent is key, and having the knowledge and ability to choose our family’s well-being and mental health is so important.

Pia Watzig is a mom of three boys who lives and works in Portland, Oregon. 

Gently Weaning Your Toddler from the Pacifier

Friday, June 24th, 2016

pacifierA quick search brings multiple techniques on weaning: everything from using bitter polish, hot sauce, mutilating the pacifier to decrease the pleasure, to making a child give it up cold turkey. While the pacifer has lots of benefits for a young baby, when it’s time to wean it can bring up many issues. For a gentle parent, finding a way to respectfully and calmly ease the use is a must.

Gentle ways to wean from pacifier use include starting gently, using positive reinforcement, moving slowly and letting them make the decisions of when. Peaceful Parenting had a lovely post on a creative way to gently wean your child from a pacifier:

When young Ben was old enough to understand via conversation with his mother what was happening, she tied his pacifier to a stuffed animal that he could carry with him during the day. This allowed him to use it for comfort as needed, but made it slightly less convenient to walk around with for hours on end at home.

Next, Ben’s mom introduced the idea that the pacifier and animal needed to stay in bed. She and Ben made a ritual of tucking the animal (with pacifier) into bed each morning. If Ben wished to use the pacifier during the day, it would be in bed – where his animal needed to stay for animal’s comfort and snooze time.

Once Ben became accustomed to returning to bed to use the pacifier as needed, his mom untied the pacifier during the day time hours and put it up on a high shelf in the bedroom, retying to his animal at night. If the pacifier was needed during the day, he would ask for it, and they would snuggle into bed during its use. Day time use became less and less frequent, and eventually faded away altogether.

Each evening Ben’s mom continued to tuck him into bed with the animal and asked him, “Do you want your pacifier tonight or would you like to try sleeping without it?” One night the time came when he asked for it, looked at it for a while, and then handed it back to his mom. He then presented her with a question, “If I change my mind, will you get it down for me?” “Yes, of course I will,” his mom replied. But he never asked for it again…It lived on his shelf for many months to come – there just in case he needed it, for the security of knowing it was there should the time come. And Ben’s weaning from this comfort item was complete–without tears, fears, or the introduction of anxiety.

 

When my son was ready to start having a conversation about his binky use, we calmly spoke about how big kids don’t use a binky through out the day, how it is hard to understand him with it, and asked his feeling about it. We compromised on an only in bed routine. He was only allowed to use the binky in his bed. When that became comfortable, we started removing his binky from him bed with his permission and he only had it at bedtime. During the day he only had his lovey to comfort him, and slowly it became habit to only use that. With lots of encouragement, positive affirmation and allowing him to set the pace we were able to remove the binky from his days with minimal tears and anxiety.

The last thing I wanted to do with my son was create an anxiety ridden power struggle over his pacifier. By giving him time and space to gently give up his binky habit and ease into the next phase of comforting with a lovey, he was able to give it up with no tears and no anxiety. It took my son until a while to give it up, yet he was comfortable with his decision and choices. And that is the most important part to me.

PIa Watzig is a stay at home mom living in Portland, Oregon with three crazy boys. 

How You Know You’re Done Having Babies

Saturday, June 18th, 2016

How to Know When You're Done Having BabiesThey say that when you know you’re done having babies you know. There is a moment when you know you’re finished: the glamour has worn off, you see the rawness of motherhood. Maybe, like me, you’ve seen what the preschool years bring and can see how the babies and toddlers turn into bigger kids who are busy, loud and fun.

So here we go, my five signs you’re done having kids!

  1. You suddenly want to purge every baby item in your house. With exception to the few items you must keep for your own nostalgia, you’re ready to KonMari every single rattle, bloomer, and onesie you find. That lovely adorable first-time mom you met at the gym? You’re her new best friend with your hand-me-downs.
  2. You start to realize that the amount of laundry and chaos is not as fun as you once thought. With a newborn and toddler, the laundry, cleaning and mess was still adorable. It was signs of your budding family. You looked at the cute “My house isn’t messy, my children are making memories” memes and smiled because you loved every bit of it. Now? The bubble has burst and you see it for what it is–a chaotic disaster.
  3. It’s not a struggle to hand back the newborn. Your cousin’s sister’s newborn baby is adorable and sweet, but once she’s crying you don’t have any issue handing that little ball of angry right back to her Mama. And walking away.
  4. You enjoy the milestones a bit more. After going through a few kids myself, I find the milestones are sweeter as I know what comes next and I can see the independence brewing in my youngest. He’s suddenly capable of doing so much on his own, and It is sweet.
  5. You have moved on from the baby and toddler groups. Suddenly you no longer find the need for a toddler and baby story time group as you enjoy your own little bunch more and more. Hanging out with a bunch of babies is suddenly not as interesting.

There are days I long for a baby once more and I think back with nostalgia to the fuzzy hair and soft downy skin, and how sweet they were before they could run. But seeing how fun bigger kids can be and what they can do cures any longing for a new baby in my life. Plus, a full-night’s sleep is an incredible feeling!

Pia Watzig is a Stay at Home Mom to three crazy boys in Portland, Oregon. She enjoys knitting and attempting to keep her kids clean.

The Value of Free Time

Friday, May 13th, 2016

grass rollingFor the first time in my parenting life, my toddler has absolutely no activities to attend, classes to take or socializing to do. This tiny tot has a completely blank schedule, with free time galore. And I’m loving every second of his lack of activities.

When my first baby was born, we filled our days with library storytimes, play dates, zoo trips, swim lessons, art classes, mommy and me symphony, breastfeeding support groups, you name it and we did it. We were BUSY–a set schedule as rigid as could be because they had to have stimulation, socialization and friends. Truth be told, I needed these as much if not more than my kids did. I needed the mommy and me comraderie, the momma tribe of like minded friends who were as sleep deprived, milk stained and hopped up on nursing hormones as I was. I needed to hang out with others who understood if I lost it over a spilt sippy cup or a leaking boob. It was a special and precious time, I made some incredible friends and memories, exploring the world through my baby’s eyes.

Somewhere between baby two and three, my perspective changed on toddler and baby activities. Instead of searching out more things to do (I had plenty already!) I chose to simplify, to reduce our activities and busyness and give this baby the gift of time. Time to be himself, time to play at home, time to just be with mom. He enjoys playing on his own, exploring our back yard and spending endless hours in the parks near our home. We do art at home, we play playdoh, color, build with legos and read. We eat, cook, bake and garden. He enjoys sitting in the sun and watching the birds, and just hanging out. The biggest benefit I see in this free, unstructured gift of time is the abilitiy to self regulate how much he wishes to participate. Studies find that children who participate in more structured activities tend to self regulate less than kids who are left to their own devices. I see now how structured his life will be as he enters preschool and elementary, and if this small gift of freedom is an easy offering I can give him to enjoy these early years in easygoing bliss.

Someday, his days will be filled with busy, but for now, he is happy being free.

Pia Watzig is a stay at home mom to three little boys in Portland, OR.

Why We Let Grandma Spoil the Kids

Friday, May 6th, 2016

grandmaEvery Sunday, my mother in law leaves a little present under each of my son’s pillows at her house. Like a weekly tooth fairy, my sons eagerly await to see what Mima has left them, whether it is a shiny quarter, a coupon for extra stories, or fort building,  a small Lego set or a toy car.

When my first son was born I used to frown and be annoyed at this behavior. Her coddling, the presents, the candy, the extra treats and outings would drive me insane that she was spoiling my kids. Who would have to deal with the tantrums? Who would have to deal with the Grandma hangover? Me. The amount of stuff she gave, the toys and snacks all bothered me. Any advice or comment made would rub me the wrong way, and was taken as criticism. And like many new mothers, anything she did was taken as a direct hit on my mothering.

As my son grew and then was joined by his brothers, I started to see her in a different light. She was a conspirator, another person to share secrets with who loves and shares in his life. As the mother, I, like every mother before me,  have to deny various things. I enforce rules, teeth brushing, manners, kindness, homework, sportsmanship, referree sibling squabbles, the eating of vegetables and whether rewards are given. I enforce dress codes, playdates, sports, baths, bedtimes and wake ups. I am the Monday through Friday of these kids’ lives: the schedule and comfort, the snuggles and discipline. Grandma is the weekend: The person who says yes. Yes you can have a toy just because, yes you can have all the cookies, chocolate, yes you can do this.

I appreciate her loving and spoiling my sons simply because it is how she shows her love, how she shares herself with them whether in an extra slice of cake or an extra bedtime story. She has paid her dues as a mother and has said her fair number of no’s – I can give her the pleasure of spoiling them the way I hope to someday spoil my grandkids.

And, in my own way, I enjoy the joy my kids have going to Grandma’s and the joy they have sharing their hopes, dreams and desires with her. Because she loves them, and is a big part of their lives, spoiling them is minor in the grand scheme of things. Much like I wouldn’t restrict a future love interest from spoiling and caring for my sons, I wouldn’t spoil my Mother-in-Law’s fun by restricting her love for them. I let her spoil them now, gladly.

And I now happily deal with the Grandma Hangover.

Pia Watzig is a Stay at home mom to three little boys ages 6,4 &1. She lives and attempts to control the chaos in Portland, Oregon.