Category Archives: Think

How I get my kids to bed early

My eldest was in camp for most of the day, for the first half of the summer, meaning he continued his early bedtime/early wake-up routine he was used to during the school year. When his month at camp ended, we took a more laid-back approach to bedtime, and let him stay up a bit later than normal.

earlybedtime

Summer is coming to an end, and soon will my relatively lax rules regarding bedtime. My son will be starting first grade in a few short weeks, and the demands and rigors of school require a healthy sleep routine.

People have asked me how well my kids sleep since they were born. The answer has never been great, and we have a lot to work on as a family. My eldest is an especially restless sleeper, while my youngest sometimes gets random bursts of energy in the middle of the night. One thing we are fairly decent at, however is getting our kids to bed early. Continue reading

How to encourage free play in an over-scheduled world

Throughout the year, I read many parenting pieces, several of which lament the over-scheduled, too-structured lives of our children. They wax poetic about the good ole days of playing outside until it got dark, inventing wacky games and the general ease of a childhood long gone. In the same pieces, those same writers lament about all of the activities they have to schlep to, the numerous play dates they’d rather not do and how they are exhausted from what they have presumed they must be in today’s parenting climate.

freeplay

But, there is hope.

In my short time as a mom, I have seen more push back against the over-scheduled, helicopter-style parenting of the past decade or so. The free-range movement is gaining popularity, and more parents are embracing the idea of “less is more.” We are tired of being tired, and we want our kids to have the less structured childhood we remember so fondly.

If we want our kids to have a “freer” childhood, we have to make it possible. Continue reading

I (kind of) want to skip the Tooth Fairy

Every toothless picture posted. Every report of another child coming to school with a missing tooth. Every debate about how much is too much for loose teeth. Every news of a wiggly canine or incisor hanging by a thin piece of gum. All of it reminds me my days of full sets of baby teeth are numbered.

toothfairy

My oldest is five, and as parents do with each passing day, I eagerly anticipate the next milestone of his fleeting childhood. First words, first steps, first day of school — all have come and gone. Now, I await the next one, a pivotal moment on his journey to adulthood, the loss of his first tooth.

I am nervous about how the experience will feel for my son. I wonder if it will feel weird and if he will be scared. I could delve deeply into that topic, but I don’t feel like entertaining those thoughts right now. Admittedly, I am concerned about one aspect of the whole loose tooth thing: the Tooth Fairy.

Continue reading

Stop judging how we feed our kids

If you were blessed to bring a child into this world, you are undoubtedly familiar with pressure (societal, familial, cultural, Facebook-al?) To nourish your offspring in the most optimum way possible.

For new mothers, this is overwhelmingly breastfeeding. Before a child reaches a certain age, I, speaking as a person who only breastfed, can see how formula-shaming is especially strong in the earliest days of motherhood. We have shifted toward a more breastfeeding-friendly society — to a point — where mothers who can’t, or simply do not wish to breastfeed are pressured or shamed into rejecting formula.

foodjudgment

Already disparaged by many of the very people whose job it is to help them settle in to their daunting new role, formula-using new mothers are then subjected to a slew of criticism from sanctimonious know-it-alls.

Of course, even if a new mother wants to breastfeed, and gives birth in a place that encourages her to do so, she will eventually have to leave the hospital, birthing center or her home and confront a society which may agree and even pressure her into nursing, but has no desire to see her feed her child in public. As if the only acceptable way to breastfeed is in the hospital after delivery or in one’s home.

And, if a breastfeeding mother should decide to continue feeding her child in that manner beyond one year or more, she is no longer a loving women providing valuable nutrients to her child, but rather a freakish, selfish abuser.

The debate over how we nourish our babies is awful and unending, but at least the shaming stops when the breastmilk dries up or the formula runs out, right?

Wrong. Continue reading

Why I’m saying “no” to a swing-set

My family was attending a birthday party for one of my son’s classmates, when my husband commented on the kids playing on the backyard swing-set, suggesting maybe we needed one for our own yard. In a lot of ways, he had a point. We have a large yard, we don’t live that close to a playground and our two boys are often quite literally climbing up the walls. A structured, safe, outdoor play space makes a lot of sense.

noswings

And yet, I remain hesitant to purchase a, or even accept a donated, swing-set. When I picture owning one, nothing about it feels right to me. I look out my kitchen window, imagining my kids swinging and sliding, and instead of conjuring up happy thoughts, all I see is bad news. Here’s why:

Continue reading

If my kids ask, I answer

My oldest was around three years old when he started asking me about where babies come from. I attribute this to the typical preschooler curiosity and the fact that he had a new baby brother. He was inundated with baby stuff — he even witnessed the birth of his sibling — so, naturally he had lots of questions.

honestykids

Kids wondering about how babies are born sparks a range of reaction in adults, from humor to outright fear. Before I had children of my own, I thought the way they handled the subject in the movie, Knocked Up, was hilarious and brilliant. When their eldest daughter, reacting to the news of her aunt’s unexpected pregnancy, asks where babies come from, her mom responds by asking her daughter to share what she thinks on the subject. The girl responds with a graphic account of a stork drilling a whole in the mommy’s head and digging around a fallen butt for the baby.

At the time, I admired the idea of letting children figure things out for themselves. Once, I had my own kids, however, I realized I much preferred to be honest. If they felt comfortable enough to come to me with questions, I wanted to respect them enough to give them truthful answers.  Continue reading

Why I bring my kids to gay pride events

gaypride

I supported and believed in basic human rights for LGBTQIA folks long before I had children. And, now that I have kids, and understand how relatively easy I have it by comparison, I believe it is just as important — if not more — to continue to stand with my gay friends and family and to show my own children that indeed love is love.

Large crowds make me uncomfortable, and you often won’t find me at large marches or protests, even if they are for causes I support in other ways. I am also vary weary of hostile opposition, and the mama bear in me wants to keep my kids away at all costs. However, I make an exception for gay pride and related events, because, my experience with them is always positive and enlightening.  Continue reading

My nurse mom keeps me chill about my kids’ health

This post originally appeared on Perfection Pending, the opinions expressed are my own and should in no way be taken as professional medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns about your family’s health, please consult with your doctor.

nursemom2

It’s 7:30 p.m., well past the point when we begin the bedroom routine for our two children. My oldest son is running through the house. It’s a special night because we are going to see a movie at the drive-in. Neither of my kids has been to the movies before, and my four-year-old is screaming with excitement because he can’t wait to see Cars 3.

I finish packing up my bag when I hear wailing coming out of my bedroom. I gaze over at my husband who has the distinct “What just happened?” face all parents know. My gaze moves to my son whose forehead is bleeding from a fresh, gaping wound.

Many parents, in that moment, would have rushed there kids to the emergency room, but not us. My husband rigged together some bandages, and we set off for the drive-in as planned.

I knew the wound was bad, but a tantrum over missing the film would be way worse.

I weighed my options. Continue reading

“A Quiet Place” delivers one bad-ass mama

If you see one movie this Mothers’ Day weekend make it, A Quiet Place.

I bet you thought I would say, Tully.

While the Diablo Cody film starring Charlize Theron as a mom on the edge might seem like the logical choice, I have yet to see the movie, and don’t feel right discussing it just yet. I have a feeling, even if I had seen it, I might still tell you to go see A Quiet Place.

quietplace

As far as horror movies go, A Quiet Place, is far from original, nor is it particularly frightening. The premise (post apocalyptic survival) has made the rounds many times before, and the film has few truly unexpected scares. And, even those are fairly predictable scary movie tropes.  However, when I looked beyond my expectations for what a horror film is supposed to be, and allowed myself to digest the message, I found myself liking A Quiet Place more and more. Continue reading

An (updated) amateur guide to potty-training in 5 (mostly) stress-free steps

Just shy of two years ago, I published a post offering my tips for toilet training a child. Since then, I have toilet trained my second child, and have learned a few new things in the process. This post is a modified version of my original guide.

The title of this post should be clear enough, but just in case, let me begin by stating that I am in no way, shape or form an expert on child elimination strategy . I am just a mom sharing her experiences with potty training her own kid, in the hopes that it may help other parents. If you need a professional opinion, please consult a pediatrician, therapist or other appropriate person.

pottytraining

If you read enough of my posts, you know I have a difficult time getting my oldest son to do most things. Sleep in particular remains a challenge, he is still as picky as ever and we are still working on our listening skills. Given all of these challenges, you may be surprised to learn potty-training was surprisingly easy. Though there were many accidents, and a lot of patience on my part, I can look back and feel good about the whole experience.

My other child, who is a bit easier in the sleep department and eats like champ, proved harder to toilet train. His different personality meant adjusting some of my original techniques, and respecting he might not be as easy as his brother.

When I potty trained my oldest at two years old, I knew this went against conventional wisdom. However, he showed signs of readiness early on, so I followed his lead. My youngest, on the other hand, just turned three and is still working on using the toilet. Different personalities and temperaments meant adjusting my strategy for each child. In general, I believe there are some tips which can work for most kids.

1. Give lots of diaper-free time

When I became pregnant for the first time, I immersed myself in research on the latest parenting trends, and one of those was “elimination communication.” For the unfamiliar, elimination communication is a method of potty training, which essentially calls for the removal of all diapers, pretty much from day one, and is based on the premise that caregivers can become in tune with their child’s elimination cues and respond accordingly. No diapers? Sign me up! Of course, practice proved otherwise, and my carpet suffered the brunt of my experimentation. I waited until my son was around six months, and for every successful trip to the toilet, there was a fresh puddle by the coffee table. By the time my son was one, and had no interest in being held over the toilet, I knew I had to abandon this method.

Though I am not an E.C. success story, the experience did allow my son to get familiar with the idea of going to the bathroom without a diaper. He slowly began to associate the toilet with pooping and peeing, and while it took some time for it to all click, the knowledge was there.

I realize letting a baby roam bare-ass in your home may be your idea of hell. Perhaps just give him or her 15 minutes of supervised diaper-free time first thing in the morning or right after bath time? Maybe you just have time for a few minutes a week. I believe those moments will pay off once your child is ready.

When my child turned two, I mostly saved the diapers for trips out of the house. We still had a few accidents, but eventually he became aware of his body and was able to make it to the toilet in time.

Update: I wasn’t as diligent with elimination communication when it came to my youngest, mostly because I didn’t have the patience as a mother of two. As he approached the toddler years, I started leaving the diaper off, as much as I could. When we started toilet training in earnest, I skipped diapers at home. Unlike my oldest, the transition to no diapers out of the house did take a bit longer, and is still a work in progress, but he is getting there.

2. Skip the “potty” stage

The thought of cleaning out a dirty potty appeals to me as much as sitting through a lecture on the creation of wall paper paste. I didn’t want any part of it. I also didn’t want to have to retrain my son to use the toilet. So, with the occasional help of a special seat to ensure he didn’t fall in the bowl, my son learned to use the bathroom on an actual toilet.

The skipping of the potty stage applied to outside bathroom use as well. Once I felt confident enough to skip the diapers when we ventured outside, I didn’t want to bother with another thing to schlep in my diaper bag. I also wanted to get myself and my son accustomed to the idea of using a public restroom. I made sure to plan our outings accordingly. I had an expert knowledge of toilet locations within a 20-block radius of our apartment. I knew the cleanest one was at our local supermarket, and that playground bathrooms aren’t always as gross as you might expect.

Update: While, I skipped the potty with my youngest, and still believe it is easier just to train them on an actual toilet, I acknowledge that park bathrooms aren’t always open, and sometimes other options are necessary.

3. Ditch the bribes

If you read enough about potty-training, you would be hard pressed to find any advice that doesn’t involve some sort of reward system. They can range from stickers to candy to toys. There’s no denying the success of these systems, as they have worked for so many parents. I decided I would rather not engage that method. Instead, I made using the toilet successfully its own reward. I cheered enthusiastically every time my son managed to get to the bathroom in time.

I think the reason this worked was because my son was truly ready to be potty-trained. He didn’t need any extra incentive. Again, I realize this may be unique to my child. He was an eager participant because he hated being in a dirty diaper (he hates being messy, in general). However, I do believe that most young kids are excited by the littlest things, and that can include using the toilet.

Update: I skipped the standard bribes with my youngest, but I was not afraid to go to the well of YouTube for some motivation in the form of Moana, Trolls and more. Hey, if a little “You’re Welcome” will get my guy to sit for a minute, I’ll take it.

pottytraining2

4. Be consistent

Once you have your kid out of diapers, keep them off. I made the mistake of using diapers again (worry about accidents on long trips), and I was back to square one. I had to get accept the fact that accidents are inevitable. So, before I went anywhere, I had my son use the bathroom and made sure to pack extra clothes. Eventually, the mishaps became less frequent, and I could confidently say my son was potty trained by two-and-a-half.

Update: I was much worse about consistency with my youngest. Every supermarket trip, I would buy a package of diapers and tell myself, that would be the last time. Yet, I kept buying more, losing confidence in myself and my child. Finally, when my son was really making progress, I stopped.

5. Don’t rush it

I know people swear by those programs that claim to have your kid potty-trained in just three days. I am sure they are at least somewhat effective, otherwise they wouldn’t be so popular. Personally, I think every milestone with a child is a journey that begins the moment he or she is born. I didn’t wake up one morning and say, “I think I am going to start toilet training my son.” Instead, I followed his cues and gradually worked with him to achieve our goal.

Potty training is one of the many things everyone seems to have an opinion on. I know my methods were suited for my children, but they might be wrong for your child. The important thing to note is most kids will get there, we just need to be patient.

Update: Daytime training has proven harder for my youngest. His interest in using the toilet took a while to nurture. However, he is doing great a staying dry at night, so it is one less thing to worry about.