Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

Mom New-Year Resolutions

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

New Year resolutionsIt’s that time of year. Ready or not here 2017 comes.

Before we go setting ourselves up with unrealistic goals we’ll forget by month’s (week’s?) end, let’s set up something that will create a lifetime of treasures. A few themes I tend to revisit annually include:

I will set aside my smart-whatever. Maybe it’s during dinner, perhaps your phone is there at stop-lights, or after a long day you just want to chill to some Bejeweled (or whatever game is hot these days…). Commit to putting your phone, laptop, or tablet down. Use the time to connect with whoever is present, even if that just means some quiet time alone with you.

I will use kind words. We all have different parenting styles, and even within the “whatever is the trendy style” kind of parent there are many nuances. Maybe you never raise your voice and rarely use the word “no.” Perhaps you’re parenting has gotten a little intense lately. Wherever you are in your parenting style or journey, however assertive or passive, and no matter your discipline perspective, we can all use a little kind in our lives. I mean this not only in how we speak to our children, but also how we speak about them whether they are present or not, and how we speak to our own self or partner or mother about parenting decisions. Let kindness reign supreme in two thousand seventeen.

I will keep perspective. It’s not that those grandmas in the store are wrong when they say “cherish every moment” nor is the mama wrong when she says she struggles to find any joy some days. I bet there is truth to both. Instead of shutting the other one down completely, I will, nod, give a half-smile, and learn about myself or them through the comments they make. Perhaps a little more connection is what we all need, and I have an opportunity to ask a follow up question that can either shut them down or open them up.

I will take care of myself. Maybe it’s eating one less sweet (or one more!) per day or week. Similarly, more water and/or less other liquid drug of choice (caffeine, alcohol, sugar, etc.). Perhaps it’s starting to work out or finding quiet time to relax. Some of us need to focus a little more on our budget. It could be stepping up your yoga pants to real-deal jeans. I’m sure we all could do something along the lines of all the above. Pick something. Put a reason to it. Set reasonable expectations, and find accountability in friends, your partner, or even an online group.

I will do something that is not for specifically for the kids. Inventory your time and interests. What has fallen away since you first had children? What were your passions? Where did your time, money, and effort go? Reinvest yourself or invest yourself in something new.

I will dole out more grace. I know it’s fun sometimes to thrive on snarky. It is one of my mind’s instant reflexes sometimes. I think grace can build more relationships and understanding though. I don’t want to tear down someone or something else to justify myself. I can be me without pulling down on them. Grace and more grace. To myself, to others… grace.

Lynette is a mom of three children from 10 months to age five. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Parenting My First Versus Parenting My Third

Monday, December 26th, 2016

img_0277I swore I would never be that stereotypical mom that drastically changed my priorities with each subsequent child. But, alas, here I am, three kids in, and I have managed to nail that stereotype to a tee.

Here are some differences I have experienced in parenting my first versus parenting my third.

  1. Sugar-free zone. Y’all, my first baby ate ONLY vegetables until he was one. In lieu of a birthday cake on his birthday, I gave him a BANANA–his first fruit. Third baby? I’ll be lucky to keep her older brothers from feeding her brownies.
  2. Germs. Every person that came over was essentially doused in hand sanitizer with my first child. But now? I might have handed my crying third baby to a complete stranger on the airplane that offered to hold her for me.
  3. Scheduling. The beloved first child’s schedule trumped all other activities. We rushed home from lunches with friends to make the sacred naptime. Dinner dates were cut short to start our nightly routine. Third baby? In a pinch, car seat naps and sleeping in the Ergo seem to suit her JUST FINE.
  4. Bathing. My first child was squeaky clean. He was bathed AT LEAST every other day. My daughter? I aim to bathe her weekly and would admittedly bathe her less often if she didn’t have such long hair that displays my lack of due diligence in the bathing area.
  5. Psychosis. I am legitimately a lot less stressed with this third baby. If she only sleeps 20 minutes, I am not lamenting to everyone I see. It will be okay. Each phase will pass. If she needs to cuddle, cuddle we shall. The dishes will eventually be cleaned again to be dirtied again and laundry will be folded. I am a lot less stressed with this third baby and a lot more engaged. Not all parental changes with subsequent children are entirely detrimental. The perspective of time and how quickly it passes has served me well with baby number three.

Kara Garis is a cloth diapering, baby wearing, semi-crunchy mama to two active boys and a baby girl. She lives with her husband in Oklahoma and loves running, cooking, traveling, reading and teaching herself how to braid. She blogs very infrequently at karagaris.blogspot.com. 

Whose Need Do I Meet First?

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

Whose needs do i meet first?Having subsequent children inevitably creates more unmet needs. Or, at the very least, needs not met at the exact moment the children feel they should be met. This was all incredibly overwhelming my first few weeks solo with my kiddos.

My firstborn did not understand why I couldn’t read the book he wanted right away. My second-born took great issue with my failure to refill his sippy cup. New baby daughter had strong feelings about being out of the womb in general. I was a mess. I quickly realized that maybe, rather than meeting needs, I simply needed to adjust my thinking.

1.     Realize that “Loudest” does not equal “Neediest”.
My oldest son has this idea that volume equals importance. Just like the patient complaining in the ER waiting room about waiting, my son thinks if he can just tell me the right thing in the right way, that will magically move him to the front of the line. This only works if you let it happen. I promise, the more times my son sees that yelling does NOT get him what he wants, he starts to try other tactics. I am guilty of doing whatever I can to shush the loud child in the moment. But I try to think of life lessons in these moments when I so desperately want to do what creates instant comfort.

2.     Use my words, and use them calmly.
So often I find myself so frazzled that I just want the noise/whining to STOP RIGHT NOW. This is when I need to calmly say, “Son, I see that you want me to refill your sippy cup. I would love to do that for you. First, I am going to feed your sister.” If he protests loudly, I suggest he sit on his bed until he calms down.

3.     Do as much as I can on the front end.
I can’t anticipate every need. But keeping a couple of bananas within reach of my oldest child, trying to keep sippy cups filled, trying to nurse my baby near a stack of books that can be read aloud while sister eats; these are things I can intentionally do that might eliminate some of the chaos.

4.     Accept that, sometimes, some things will have to wait. And waiting is okay.
I don’t think any mom wants to raise a child that grows to be a man or woman that is incapable of patience. I try to keep the adult version of my child in the back of my mind when I am doing something that seems hard in the moment but I know will pay off eventually.

Kara Garis is a cloth diapering, baby wearing, semi-crunchy mama to two active boys and a baby girl. She lives with her husband in Oklahoma and loves running, cooking, traveling, reading and teaching herself how to braid. She blogs very infrequently at karagaris.blogspot.com. 

Why Should We Have to “Have it All”

Monday, December 19th, 2016

have it allSocial media did it again. Another mama went and did something that has a lot of people armed and ready with all their judgments. A mom, ten weeks post-partum, videotaped herself working out as she went about folding cloth diaper laundry from the dryer. Diary of a Fit Mommy is known for her videos incorporating workouts into daily routines and inspires a number of other people, mostly women, to do the same.

I want to be very clear. I have nothing but love for this mama. You get yours! I work out most days of the week and have my own strategies for fitting it in. My routine is a work in progress but I think I get the sentiment behind the idea that we all have time and can find said time if we get creative and honest with ourselves and our day. I also wonder if people would have a strong response to my laundry multi-tasking—folding while talking to my hubby about our day. We are all multi-tasking.

But my first thought upon viewing this video was more of a question: Why must everything be so complex? Can we make single-tasking a fad that sticks? Perhaps the response is doing squats while stuffing cloth diapers is not a complex task. That’s true—it appears relatively easy. I just tried it myself and, yes, it’s simple enough. I’m just wondering what’s so wrong with single-tasking?

All day I’m doing five things at a time. I just want to sit and do the laundry with a show on the TV or even just in the still silence of children in bed. In some ways sitting in the quiet or watching TV still isn’t singular in focus. I might be reflecting on the day or catching up with hubby. Still, can’t I just not always be thinking and acting on the idea of “having it all?”

Lots of women all over the world don’t have it all—they don’t even have the time or resources to play around with the idea of having it all. Sometimes I think what many of us want is just a little simplicity. I am okay with a single focus even if it means I don’t have a “perfectly” slim tummy. For my own sanity I need to not always be doing, fitting everything in, and getting the most out of the day. That just feels like unnecessary pressure and anxiety.

Yet again, that’s what I’ll have to come down to, my own sanity and my own experience. We are all battling different demons; we all have different places we’re coming from and ideas of whom and how we want to be. If you’re in the mood to multi-task your way to a perkier tush while preparing diapers for your baby’s fluffy bum I’m happy you’re finding ways to make your goals reality. I’ll be over here folding laundry and little else, except perhaps taking a sip or two of wine.

Lynette is a mom of three children from 8 months to age four. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

How to Get a Break This Holiday Season

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

How to Get a BreakI know the feeling of being at breaking point. I’ve had three children in four years. Our budget is tight and can’t afford childcare for the sake of self-care. I’ve worked a full-time job with on-site on-call hours as well as stayed at home with the children. I’ll note I do not have to manage additional challenges of a partner away for long periods, being a single mother, or behavioral, physical, or other particular attributes that some parents must balance in caring for their children. Here’s what has helped me find breaks, sometimes just five minutes in the day, and sometimes more.

Get off Facebook or whatever your social app of choice is. Social media and apps are a great resource as long as they add to your life. Checking for the umpteenth time if I received an email or looking every time my phone dings with a notification wastes time I could use getting a few minutes of solace. When I discipline myself to check my email minimally (maybe once a day or once an hour, depending on your work and situation), I somehow find a half-hour a day because of the five minutes here and there I save. Delete the app, limit the notifications, or simply put your computer and smart devices away for periods of the day to give yourself some space to breathe.

Write down your gratitude. Keep track of when you do get a break. I get more moments to myself than I realize. This is not to say I don’t deserve them, nor is it to deny that I may need more. Somehow, though, being aware of my time allows me to really feel the reprieve those breaks offer, even in retrospect. I keep track of the moments as the day passes. Try on a post it or in your planner or whatever system works for you. At least use a few slow moments of the day or in the evening to reflect back. This doesn’t have to be a time-consuming chore. Write down a word or phrase (e.g., “all napped at same time” or “15 minutes of quiet Legos”).

Reassess expectations. Figure out what you really need to find a little peace to really get your break. My oldest can help fold or put away the clothes, even though the result is a tad wrinkled, and the toys don’t have to be separated and stored exactly as I’d like so long as they are mostly put away. Also reassess what a break means. Can it be just 2 minutes of quiet? Does it need to be two hours completely away? Likely it’s both, sprinkled throughout the week.

Figure out what pushes your buttons. You can make the most of your break if you understand what you need a break from. My children can be around all day and I’m fine but them sitting on me, or breathing on me, really taxes my need for space. I also ask for “breaks” from requests. I don’t approach the kitchen until a certain time, so they are learning to wait until I’m ready for breakfast requests. Lunch is served at a certain time. This cuts down on the endless requests for food and snacks through the day. You can also put approved snacks within reach of little ones for self-service. Once you know what you need, you are better equipped to get it.

Reach out, and be direct about your needs. I do not claim to know your relationship with your partner, friends, or parents. Given your particulars, speak honestly and clearly about your need. Speaking passively or generally may not prove as effective as speaking clearly. For example:

“I’m so tired!”

Versus

 “Grandma, I’m exhausted with all the sleepless nights from infant teething. Do you have a day coming up when you could watch the kiddos for a few hours?”

Take what’s offered. Even if it’s not exactly what you want, accept it. If you just can’t bear to put your children in someone else’s care, stay home but go in the other room. If your children still come to you, put up a gate, put in earplugs, and let go or take a walk around the block. For me, leaving the kids at home with my hubby means coming home to a messy kitchen or living room, which is more stressful than not getting time alone. So I prefer they go on an adventure to the park. You can also voice how the messy kitchen doesn’t really give you a break, or have them clean up once you return. You can also just accept that whoever offers the help—hubby, parent, friend, church lady—may not be the finely tuned multi-tasking machine that you are. If getting a free hour or two means cleaning up a little extra later, it may be worth it to you.

Let go. You cannot have the space, break, or reprieve if you’re unwilling to let go. I can’t need the break but also need everything to be exactly as I would do it. Someone may pout for a little while, the shirts may not be folded as you would like, or they might get a greasy dinner instead of the well-balanced meal you would provide. If you want a break, you have to actually take a break. Enjoy it.

Lynette is a mom of three children from 7 months to age four. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.