Tag Archives: kids

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.

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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

My Montreal must-dos for families

Montreal is a fabulous city for families. From museums to playgrounds, there is something to satisfy children of all ages. The city, whose customs, culture and vibe is predominantly French, also provides a unique opportunity for American children to experience something new.

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On our long weekend in town, my children played with the locals at the park, learned about electricity, saw some old fossils and got a taste of the Montreal lifestyle. Read on to learn more about our journey, as well as pick up some pointers for your own trip. Continue reading

Thank you, class parents

Every class has one, or maybe two. They are the moms or dads who remind you of special events or nudge you about getting your money in for the class gift. They organize email lists and volunteer schedules. They do the grunt work so we all can shine.

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They are the unsung heroes who work tirelessly keeping track of the details, so the rest of us, who barely remember what day our kids have gym, can look like competent caretakers of our little ones. 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.

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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

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.

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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.

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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.

Understanding the emotional language of boys

My two boys wrestle. They roll around on the floor, alternating who is pinned to the floor and who is on top. My oldest drags his brother around our home, all the while the little guy is laughing along gleefully. I have seen things escalate to aggressive headbutts and forceful shoves. And, I’ve seen them soften to cuddles, gentle pats and kisses.

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My husband and I joke about our boys inability to be away from one another. Whether they are playfully roughhousing, kicking one another in anger, or sleepily snuggling together in our master bed, our boys are almost always engaged in some form of physical contact. Their emotional language is touch.

As a boy mom of more than five years, I have learned a fundamental difference between how young males and young females express themselves. I see this not only in my sons, but in other boys as well. Boys are are physical communicators and us female parents, teachers and caregivers need to respect that. Continue reading

Bedrooms are for sleeping and for sex

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Long before marriage and family was a possible thought in my brain, I watched an episode of a daytime talk show (I want to say it was Oprah), which would shape how I would eventually set up my home.

In this episode, a very famous decorator/designer (I want to say it was Nate Berkus), was the special guest, whose task was to revamp a couple’s home. I can’t recall what colors he painted their walls, or what artwork he picked for their living room or what curtains he hung on their windows. However, when it came to their bedroom, one thing the designer said planted itself in my brain:

“Bedrooms are for sleeping and for sex.” Continue reading

How I use cooking to encourage independence

Raising children is a lifelong lesson in letting go. From the moment they are born, our instinct is to protect them, to shield them, to make their lives easier. We help them with as much as we can — not because we are overprotective — but, because we love them and want them to succeed.

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Ultimate success, however, comes by stepping back, and letting our kids do more on their own. Each age offers new opportunities for growth, and each family can decide what works best for them.

I look out for signs from my kids to guide me about when they might be ready to try new tasks. So, when my son, who is five, started insisting on making meatballs on his on, I let him. Continue reading

If toddlers had Facebook groups

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I am a member of several Facebook groups for moms. They have become so common, that poking fun of them has become standard practice. For better or worse, they have a huge influence on parents, and can be quite helpful. I know lots of parents who say they could not survive without them.

What if our little ones had the same access to Facebook (and knew how to read, write and engage in snarky banter)? What would their posts look like?

I imagine they would look something like this.

Continue reading

If moms had Pinterest in the 1980s

Social media has changed the way we do things for our kids. Birthday parties, especially, have become a bit over the top, as we parents try to mimic those beautiful pictures we see on Pinterest.

It’s hard to remember a time when parties were simpler, and nobody was making 5000 Moana statues for a two-year-old’s birthday party. Not that I’m dogging on anyone who does that, because, seriously, that is impressive.

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Before the Internet, the only people you had to impress were the people at your party, and you probably only saw them once in awhile anyway, so you didn’t care too much about what they thought.

My mom was a bit ahead of her time, when it came to birthday parties. We always had them in our house, complete with homemade desserts, craft projects and entertainment provided by friends and family. Continue reading