Posts Tagged ‘preschoolers’

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.

Finding Daycare

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

IMG_7680Childcare can be a source of stress or support once you return to work. Finding the ideal provider of that care can be difficult. In my attempts to find the “best” for us I learned a few things along the way.

Childcare facilities often refer to themselves as daycare or preschool. These terms are very loose and unmoderated. Generally a daycare offers longer hours and remains open year round. They cater to a larger age range from shortly after birth sometimes up to after school care for elementary-aged children.

Preschools often focus on teaching specific curriculum or from particular teaching philosophies. They are often (but not always) on a school schedule, have certified teachers, and cater to 3-5 years. Mother’s Day Out programs generally offer shorter hours than preschools but may be sufficient if looking for part-time childcare. In-home care, whether in someone else’s home or a nanny in your own home, still apply to the below considerations.

  • Inquire about turnover. Ask how long teachers and aides have been there as well as how many years of experience they have. More years of service does not automatically mean a higher quality teacher, but it is one consideration.
  • Ask around. Word of mouth can give you an insider’s view. While online reviews also help, keep in mind people who feel most strongly (often negatively) seem to write reviews most often. You also can’t easily verify positive reviews so there’s no way to tell if the reviewer actually utilized the daycare or if staff or staff’s loved ones wrote up glowing reviews.
  • Don’t wait. Some places have waitlists, so inquire early once you know you need childcare. The more children you have the more important this can become as you may have to wait for openings in more than one class (if a preschool).
  • Visit during business hours. Try to check out the facility in action. Does it appear organized? How does the provider-child ratio look in reality? Are things clean and orderly? Do the children appear happy and content? Do providers get down to your child’s level when meeting him or her?
  • Drive the course at drop-off/pick-up times. You’ll be dropping off and picking up your child daily. A location far off course can add an extra half hour to your day. For example, our children were in childcare located in an elementary school. The extra time to park, walk them inside, and manage the hallways full of arriving school kids added 15 minutes to every morning drop off.
  • Consider cost and resources. Childcare is expensive no matter what. Everyone’s budget is what it is. Choose something you can sustain long term. Inquire with your place of work to see if they offer discounts for childcare or even in-house. For example my husband’s school district offers childcare at some schools for employee’s children. Remember that some places, especially preschools, like to provide something extra for teachers around the holidays, teacher appreciation, or end of school times. Ask about what snacks, supply fees, or other additional expenses you need to consider. The less you pay the less they have for resources and teacher pay. Less pay does not always equate to lower caliber providers but it can.
  • Learn about accreditation, licensure, and certification. Each state varies in its licensure policies but be sure your facility’s health and safety licensing is up to date. Accreditation is an additional step not always necessary but speaks to a higher standard. Teacher certification is found more often in preschool oriented facilities.
  • Cloth diapers. If you are committed to cloth be sure to ask if your childcare provider is willing to use them. If not, you can consider educating them if they are interested. Know your state’s policies regarding cloth diapers in public facilities.
  • Allergies, development needs, or other considerations. If your child or family has needs particular to your situation, be sure to inquire both directly with staff and indirectly by word of mouth about how they might handle your specifics. If you regularly get caught up at work and may be delayed, see how they handle late pickups.
  • Sick kiddos. Sickness can quickly spread in the childcare setting. Though tough policies around sickness can cause additional difficulties for parents they can also prevent illnesses from spreading. Ultimately this can result in fewer days missed overall. Ask about and read through their handbook concerning sick days and what constitutes necessary absence of a child. Think of common scenarios like pink eye, fever, upset stomach, and returning from an extended illness of several days. When is a doctor’s note necessary? How long must the child be fever free? Do you have to pay for days your child misses?
  • Good fit. Last, and possibly most important, consider the fit. Do you feel at ease with the teachers? Does your child? What is important to you? For example, if extended hours are critical look first at that. If school prep tops your list, learn about their curriculum, how structured their day is, and how they incorporate creative play.

Lynette is a mom of three children from 3 months to age four. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Let’s Stop Mom Shaming

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

mom shamingThere have been so many scary and sad stories in the news lately that revolve around parents and small children. First, the gorilla incident. Then the boy in Florida. Then the mom whose toddlers locked themselves in the car. While news outlets cover these stories, they also focus on the harsh and vocal judgments toward the mothers involved in these tragedies.

I am not writing about what should happen to the parents if they are found to be neglectful. I am not writing about animal rights and protections. We need accountability, sure; we need to protect children and animals, of course. What that looks like is not clear-cut to me. You may be disappointed, say I’m avoiding the difficult conversations that are at the crux of these stories.

Even more, we need to discuss humanity and fragility rather than what style of parent we are or whatever trendy conversation is happening. As others point out parents are in a no-win situation sometimes. Keeping the kid too close is helicoptering with research pointing to after-effects of anxiety and other troublesome symptoms. Putting a leash on the kid is inhumane to some, appropriate to others. A kid getting away for a few moments (or forgotten in a hot car) is, evidently in our society, assumed neglect.

I do not understand what accidents are if they aren’t, you know, accidents? I’d like to think life happens in a way that is purposeful and intentional with every move I make. I do strive toward that to some degree. But there are accidents, mishaps, and off-the-expected-path adventures I take every day. My two preschool-aged kids make sure of that especially with a newborn thrown in. I prefer my parenting not be judged on one moment alone.

I know some argue the severity of a situation matters: Would we dole out more or less judgment if the gorilla were not killed or had the mom jumped in after her child? The details somehow make a difference for others: Was she on the phone? How many kids does she have? I find that the nitpicking doesn’t encompass the complexity of life. Distraction is not necessarily neglect. It is impossible to constantly, accurately assess the safety of situations in every single moment of the day. Accidents happen. It’s ok that accidents happen. We’re human.

Can’t we just be sad that a family had a terrifying experience, deeply grieved that a captive animal was shot to ensure the life of a human? Let us take this opportunity to reevaluate safety protocol and regulations. Perhaps if we feel so strongly about the gorilla’s death we can get as excited about animal rights at large as some seem to be about burning a scarlet red N (neglect?) across this mother’s chest? Must we assume the worst of this woman while touting ourselves as better? I think we often survive, if not thrive, on blaming and pointing out others’ mistakes.

I believe all of us at one time or another (whether we realize it or not) are just a few seconds, even a split second, away from having a story that could or does end in tragedy. Most of these moments aren’t shared in the national headlines. Some of us may not share them even in the quiet dark of our own mind. It’s too painful and we block it out. Maybe that’s why we can’t let this mom off the hook. If she did something malicious or wrong, we are safe because “we” aren’t like that. If she did something human then we might have to realize the fragility of our own lives and how little control we have even when on full alert. If we blame her then we don’t have to think about how we’re just a few particulars away from being her.

I think it’s too easy to blame the parent, the smartphone, and distraction in a fast-paced society. Ok, sure. Sometimes parenting is neglectful, the smartphone a little too addicting, the schedule poorly managed.  I’m not saying we don’t need to have those conversations. But please let’s also have this conversation about our vulnerability as people, too.

Lynette is a mom of three children from 3 months to age four. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

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.

Managing Holiday Expectations

Wednesday, December 9th, 2015

Managing Holiday Expectations 1

There was that one Thanksgiving we stayed home, just the two of us. I was 9 months pregnant, so I had a great excuse for not traveling the solid six-hour round-trip drive that year. Several things make that such a warm holiday memory for me. First, it was our last Thanksgiving just the two of us. Second, it was quiet and relaxing and without expectation. Don’t get me wrong. We are those people who are friends with our families. We get along, vacation together, and look forward to seeing each other again in no more than a few weeks. Still, I will not lie about the sweet joy of bucking the system that one holiday.

Great expectations often boil up most clearly (and painfully) at the holidays. There are so many strong feelings, traditions, and schedules to balance. Somehow all those things seem tied to family dynamics growing up twenty years ago. You know, mom always understood younger brother’s unique living style; Dad always defaults to what big sister suggests. The holidays are a great reminder of all the ways we could use a little therapy. The way we’ve found to work through all this muddle is wrapped up in one word: expectations.

Managing Holiday Expectations 2The Negotiables

For us, when we really thought about it, most things turned out to be negotiable. Family and friends who married into the wonderful love of step-families negotiate a little differently than us. As a nuclear family we generally have all days available while some of our siblings have to balance sharing their children on certain days. As a SAHM I don’t have an office holiday party while some family and friends have two to attend. When we are invited to events, we take time to consider how participating will contribute to (and detract from) our holiday season. We don’t expect to have Christmas on a certain numerical day in the month. We also don’t expect to participate in everything to which we receive invitation.

Another example of negotiation involves the age of our children. This is our fourth December with children but our first time having Christmas morning on Christmas morning. We previously opted to celebrate it that Saturday morning of my family’s get-together the week before Christmas. As they get older this expectation may change, but we’ve spent some Christmas days traveling across the country because being with family ranks higher than celebrating Christmas on a particular day of December.

Gift-giving is another point of stress in the holiday season. With some family members we openly discuss this and set a dollar amount we are comfortable spending on each other’s families. We don’t buy for every single family member; one side of the family we always buy for parents while the other side of the family does a single-name-draw exchange that includes the parents. On the chance that we receive gifts unexpectedly from family or friends, we don’t stress about it because giving and receiving gifts are aspects of the holiday season. We see them as an opportunity to accept gifts with grace and without guilt.

The Non-negotiables

Typically we spend part of the holiday season (Thanksgiving to New Year’s) with each family, 1,600 miles apart. For ten years we’ve managed to balance this, though every year looks a little different. It means we don’t take family vacations to fancy locales other times of the year, but saving up to see both families during the holidays is typically non-negotiable. This year, this is not part of our expectations because I am too pregnant to travel cross-country. My doctor (and baby) turned this non-negotiable into a negotiable.

As our children grow, spending Christmas morning at home may turn to into a non-negotiable. Not traveling on Christmas day may become more important to remove stress from the season. For others there may be Christmas Eve pajamas, stockings, a church/synagogue service, or going to a particular family member’s home that is important.

I can’t gloss over the way this relaxed approach to the holidays relies on other people to balance their expectations of us. Sometimes family may or may not entirely understand. Some older family members may want to continue the old traditions even after the younger generations give birth to more. Some family may see every invitation as important, more important than balancing with family gatherings. Even the meaning of family and friend may blur as not every “family” is created with the same make-up. In all of these things, if you know what you are willing to negotiate or not then you can only handle the situation with grace and hope others will understand.

Lynette shares her life with her husband and two sons, ages 2 and 3 years. She has cloth diapered both since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.