Posts Tagged ‘relatives’

Cross-Country Holiday Trip Survival Kit

Friday, November 11th, 2016

holiday road trip survival kitWhether it was in a moment of insanity or bravery, you decided that visiting family this holiday season sounded like a good idea. And after looking at your budget or logistics, you came to the conclusion that driving there would be your best option. “Who wants the hassle of kids in an airport?” you tell yourself. “This way, we can fit all the gifts in the back of the car,” you reason.

Whatever you said to convince yourself this was a good idea, write those things down, and chant them under your breath repeatedly throughout the travelling process, because chances are good your sweet children may cause you to question your life choices at some point during the journey.

Here are some cheap ways to keep their spirits jolly and whole, which is proven to reduce the risk of threats to turn this car around right now, I mean it, as well as outbursts of Santa is watching, goddammit! Keep everyone off the naughty list by incorporating a few of these tricks:

  • Stick to what you know. Now is not the time to try something new. While you may have dreamed of having your children being fully entertained by an audiobook, now is not the time to go rogue. If your kids enjoy a steady repetition of Wreck-it Ralph, rot their brains away. And if/when your parents start to tell you about how “When you were kids, we didn’t have DVD players,” politely affirm their perfect parenting choices while you swallow another Xanax.
  • Raid the dollar store. Fill a gallon sized Ziploc bag for each child full of random trinkets from the dollar store, and hand them something random each hour of the trip. Don’t limit yourself to the standard toy selection: My kids went nuts when I handed them giant calculators. Avoid toys with a lot of pieces, as they will definitely fall down the cracks of the seats immediately, and your child will scream for 37 miles about it. Also avoid objects that could double as swords.
  • Bring snacks for bribing. For every hour they go without fighting, they get a lollipop. While the kids may have a strict no-sweets policy at home, car trips are an appropriate time to deviate from the diet plan. Chocolate protein bars make good bribes as well, and have the bonus of decreasing the opportunities for low-blood-sugar-murderous-rampage.
  • Plan pit stops ahead of time. It’s worth stopping for lunch a little earlier when you see the restaurant with the play-place built in. Anticipate getting to your destination a little later to make time for getting the wiggles out. Exercise your kids ahead of time so you don’t have to exorcise your kids later.
  • If it is about an eight-hour drive, consider taking it at night. Never drive fatigued, but if you can work it out, take advantage of visiting family by driving while the kids sleep, and then getting your sleep in while doting relatives entertain the babes.
  • Take a stretch riding with the kids. If there’s a spare seat in the back, sit with the kiddos. Talk to them about their toys, what they’re excited about with seeing family, and tell them stories about holidays you had when you were young.

Regardless of your strategy, make sure that everyone’s safety comes first, and everyone’s sanity is a close second. Taking the extra care beforehand to increase the potential for comfort and happiness is worth it. Happy travels!

Keighty Brigman is terrible at crafting, throwing birthday parties, and making sure there isn’t food on her face. Allegedly, her four children manage to love her anyway. 

When Relatives Want to Feed Your Baby

Thursday, December 10th, 2015

When relatives want to feed your babyWhen little ones approach 6 months of age, many moms begin to consider starting solids. Up until this point, breastmilk or formula is all your little one needs. For me, I wasn’t in a hurry to start solids. By 6 months, I had just gotten into a good rhythm of nursing with my daughter. I didn’t see why she had to have vegetables and fruits just yet, when she was happily satisfied with breastmilk. Then, we went home for the holidays.

She was not quite 5 months old at this time. I remember the moment: A close relative asked to see her, so they walked off holding her. And then, it happened. They let her eat chocolate icing. I cringed. I didn’t speak up. I let them feed my little baby chocolate icing.  She was returned to me with laughter and a gummy smile coated in chocolate.

This same scenario played out months later when another relative wanted to feed her something fun that mommy didn’t allow her to eat just yet. Cheetos puffs chips. Oh the horror.

What do you do when your relatives want to feed your baby? I mean, these are the people you love, trust, and adore with your child. So, why is this such a tricky subject?

While I don’t have the answers, here are some ways to handle this awkward situation:

  1. Be honest. When I look back at my scenarios, I wish I would have spoken up. But, I didn’t. If a relative wants your little one to sample mashed potatoes over the holidays but you haven’t started solids, speak up. Just be honest. They should respect you as the child’s mother and understand.
  2. Be realistic. In the grand scheme of things, my child’s taste of chocolate icing and Cheetos has not stunted her growth or made her become a sugar addict. But if food allergies run in your family or you are worried about food allergies, keep baby close or within sight. It’s unrealistic to brief everyone at every party about how to handle your baby, so stay close enough to monitor the situation.
  3. Bring your own food. If you are concerned about what your child may be offered at the holiday gathering, bring your own food. Bring their drink in one of these fun Re-play sippy cups. Bring some snacks that you are comfortable with. For me, I always had a couple Gerber Graduates pouches in my purse for my kids. This way, if I knew they wouldn’t eat the meal, there was some kind of a healthy option out there.
  4. Be the Mom. If this means you have to leave the room, take your child out of someone’s arms, or have a heart-to-heart with a relative, it’s okay.  Don’t be like me and hold it inside and still obsess over it years later. Now when my family feeds my daughter, I am grateful. This usually means she is well cared for, and I get to enjoy a meal without worrying about what she’s eating.

No matter what you eat this holiday season, remember your baby’s needs should be met. You can decide what they eat and when they eat it. It’s okay to sample holiday foods with your baby IF that’s what you want. You are the mom. You got this.

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of two in Northeast Indiana. She can’t wait to go home for Thanksgiving.

Dealing with Pushy Relatives During the Holidays

Friday, November 20th, 2015

Tips for Minimizing Gift Overload this ChristmasFor some, holidays are a wonderful break from everyday life. The car is loaded up, the kids are excited, and you spend the day/weekend/month with family you haven’t seen nearly as often as you would like. The time leading up to the big day is spent looking anxiously at the calendar, excited for the opportunity to see those you love so dearly.

This article is meant for the rest of us.

You know, those of us who remember last year, when your sister-in-law said something about your parenting. Or when Grandpa ignored you when you said you didn’t want your three-year-old watching Rambo. Or when your great-aunt asked if you were sure you needed that large of a slice of pie. Though you will the days to not pass so quickly, you can see the date approaching, and your palms get sweaty. Your heart races. Your chest tightens, and at the thought of spending time with family makes you feel claustrophobic.

It is difficult to get into the spirit of the holidays when it requires spending time with people who can be damaging to your psyche. The pain can feel intense, particularly with the notion that family members are supposed to be those who nurture and uplift you, and a memory of the acute pain can make you feel powerless.

So this year you are going to reclaim your power, because you deserve to feel safe and feel respected, especially with family members. And here is how:

  • Revisit the painful event. When your sister-in-law made that comment, what did you feel? How did you react? How do you feel about your reaction? Accept your reaction as the best that you could do in that moment with the information and experience you had. Your hurt feelings were and are valid, and you are welcome to grieve for your past self for experiencing something that pained you so.
  • Create an action plan. Should Grandpa ignore your boundaries regarding your children again, what can you do? Have a mental list of alternate activities you could do with your children, such as going on a walk or taking them to another room to read a book. If you feel safe, include saying to Grandpa, “If you are going to spend time with my children, you need to respect the boundaries I have set with them. If you choose to ignore those boundaries, then you are choosing to not spend time with my children.”
  • Rehearse a phrase to have in your back pocket. “That is a really inappropriate thing to say,” is surprisingly useful in many situations. When confronted with a difficult situation, our minds can go blank. Having something that you have repeated to yourself, particularly in replaying what your Great Aunt said last year, can make it easier to stand up for yourself in a situation that left you feeling powerless before. Finding your voice is difficult if you’re used to suppressing it–give yourself allowance for it to feel raw and abrasive at first as you get used to using it.

You deserve to feel safe, and even more so when with family during a holiday. Give yourself plenty of allowance as you explore how to create that safety for yourself and your children, and may this year be better than last.

Keighty Brigman is terrible at crafting, throwing birthday parties, and making sure there isn’t food on her face. Allegedly, her four children manage to love her anyway. 

An Open Letter To Relatives During The Holidays

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

An Open Letter to Relatives During the HolidaysDear (loved family member),

We are excited to see you all during the holidays and love our yearly gatherings to celebrate. Our children are very excited about all the activity, food, and fun people too! We understand that you love seeing our children and giving them love and affection, but we wanted to take a minute to ask you to please partner with us as we teach our kids that they are in charge of their own bodies.

Giving our children the power to say no to unwanted touch is setting the framework for raising children who are empowered to protect themselves in a dangerous situation. We want our children to understand that their “no” should be respected and that they are in charge of what happens to their body. If we force them to show affection when they don’t feel comfortable doing so, we teach them that their gut feelings aren’t to be trusted. We also want to be careful to avoid using manipulative language to convince them to give affection. This teaches them that they must set aside their bodily autonomy in favor of not hurting an adult’s feelings. This sort of manipulative language is often used by predators and we do not want to teach our children to obey manipulation tactics. If you would like more information, please feel free to ask! This is a good link, and here is another.

So when you see our kids at a holiday gathering, we ask that you ask them if you may have a hug or kiss and if they say no, then to cheerfully offer a simple handshake or high five instead. We also would ask that you refrain from using sad faces, guilt trips, or acting hurt to coerce them into affection. If we see any disregard for our children’s answers, we will step in gently to help our kids assert their answer. We want our kids to know that we’ve got their back and that we won’t let them be forced into anything.

Our children are loving and sweet and their genuine, unforced affection is wonderful! Help us to continue to show them that they are capable of deciding for themselves what affection they feel comfortable with. Usually once they familiarize themselves with people and situations they love to show affection to those they love.

Sincerely, your loving (______________)

Becca Schwartz is a cloth diapering, baby wearing, semi-crunchy mama to a toddler girl and baby boy. She and her husband have a small mini-farm with a flock of chickens, a few goats, and a couple rabbits.