Toddler Training Tip: Take a Couple Extra Minutes

0626Penny9MO_4

Maisy’s outfit choices bring me joy daily.  For a long while she insisted that she had to wear a skirt and a dress every day.  Loved that!

Take a Couple Extra Minutes

Sometimes I’m slow to catch on to this with every new lesson that needs teaching.  Here are some examples.

When Willow was at a good age to join the other girls in Maisy’s room for the daily nap I kept finding her standing on her sleep mat, blanket in hand, several minutes after the others had woken and come down.  I kept explaining to her that she could come down when she woke but clearly it wasn’t sticking.  So one day I took a couple extra minutes and showed her what I meant.  I asked her to lay back down, laid down next to her myself, pretended to snore, then “woke up,” and took her by the hand and marched out of the room with her.  We did this a few times in a row.  She’s come down on her own after she wakes every day since.

Around the same time I’d also been telling Willow to take her shoes off at the door.  I’d been doing this since she was able to walk… so about a year and a half.  Finally, one day I stopped and showed her what I meant and, what do ya know, she got it!  No more mud trekked through the length of my house every time she arrives or comes in from playing in the back yard!

The most recent triumph is with Emrie.  Her mom and I have asked her to take her shoes off at the door for at least a year.  Since Emrie is very part time here, it’s less likely I’d be able to teach her how to take her shoes off so I chatted with her mom about how I think she could do it if Katie was willing to spend a little bit of time showing her.  Today when Emrie was dropped off Katie had to run out the door to get to school on time.  I asked Emrie to take her shoes off, encouraged her, then left her line of sight so she didn’t just wait for me to give up on her and do it for her.  And she not only did it, but right after I left the room!

I like to share stories like this because parenting is enough work without doing the things for your kids that they not only are capable of doing, but that make them feel empowered and teach them healthy responsibility.  I’m blessed with a day care and so I have less ability to help each and every kid as often as they request so it’s easier for me to find myself encouraging them to see if they can figure it out before I can get to them.  With just a little bit of coaching, toddlers around 2.5, give or take, can put on their own shoes, coats (even zip up their coat), fetch their own water, put away their toys, hang up their coats, put away their boots, go potty and wipe and wash their hands, pick out and put on their own clothes, wash themselves at bath time, and brush their teeth.  And that’s just the list I can think of right now, I’m sure I’m forgetting something!  Perhaps your toddler does something independently that I’ve forgotten to list?

Advertisements

Babywearing Saved My Life

Blog written last year, edited today.

Ok not really, but it feels like it!  Instead of having a constantly upset baby screaming by herself on the play mat during the moments I inevitable can’t hold her, I had a peaceful baby warming my perpetually chilly person this time last year.  This year, I still wear Penny on occasion as she needs – usually whenever she’s teething and certainly many times when I’m running errands.

These are just about all the pictures I have of babywearing with Maisy and Penny.  Penny is at the top and then it’s Maisy.  I love that even our families embraced the babywearing.

Babywearing 101

What is babywearing?

The term babywearing is used to describe the age old method of carrying babies around on your person using cloth carriers.  The art is making a comeback in the west right now though the rest of the world has used this method of baby carrying for centuries.

Why do I like babywearing?

Babywearing is abundantly beneficial to both parent and child. Studies show that a child who is worn is generally calmer because all their primal and survival needs are met.   My doctor says that a baby’s survival needs cause them to pursue being held as often as possible (in a position to see, hear, smell, and touch their caregiver at all times), babywearing makes that more possible than ever. This kind of quality skin-to-skin contact fosters a strong bond between parent and infant.

The constant motion through babywearing soothes baby while also allowing caregivers to get work – a “hands-free” approach to caregiving.  Sometimes you may even be able to get baby to fall asleep in a carrier or sling and then lay them down to sleep.  I can even nurse my baby while wearing her and getting things done like making dinner – talk about multitasking!

By babywearing when out on errands for example you may also save yourself trips to the chiropractor as it is much kinder to the body than lugging around an infant car seat.

How should I wear my baby?

There are correct and incorrect ways to wear your baby.  The safest way to wear is the front carry with baby’s legs straddling your waist.  This position is ideal for hip joint development in your babe.

Your baby may also be worn on the side or back.  I’ve personally never tried a side carry but the back carry is awesome because it’s even easier to get things done!

Some tips for babywearing safely…

  • Your baby should be high enough up for you to kiss
  • The carrier or sling should be snug at all times
  • Keep baby’s chin off her chest to maintain a clear airway
  • Baby should be in view at all times
  • Support baby’s back and keep her tummy and chest against yours
  • You should not cook or work with sharp objects while babywearing

I am blessed to be a part of a local babywearing FB group that also meets face to face in homes around town once a month.  Perhaps you can find a resource like that too because there’s nothing like learning from an expert how to use carriers and position your baby in the healthiest way possible.  If not, there’s always YouTube.

FAQ about babywearing

Q:  My baby doesn’t like being worn, how do I change this?
A:  Start as young as you can, take some time to sort out which carrier your baby likes best by trying several, and make sure your baby is positioned correctly.  Even factoring in all those pieces you may have to stick it out through some fussing before baby realizes what an awesome thing you’ve introduced him too, both my babies grumbled in a carrier for a week or so and now it’s their favorite place to be!  If he’s fussing on his own it’s better for them to be fussing on you anyways.

Q:  What’s your favorite carrier or sling?
A:  I have a woven wrap, homemade Moby Wrap, a ring sling, an Ergo, a Lilliebaby all seasons carrier, and a BabyBjorn.  The Lilliebaby is my favorite because it offers great back support when front carrying and is my most versatile buckle carrier.  The Moby Wrap is amazing for getting your baby used to babywearing and for the coliky baby.  And I love the ring sling for quick trips and nursing.  So, in short, I pretty much love them all for different reasons!

 

So your baby doesn’t sleep? Neither did Maisy!

One Mom’s journey to finally winning a full night’s rest.

0002.jpg

Sleep is no joke.  Did you know that in places around the world sleep deprivation is used as a kind of torture?

In college I averaged 2-4 hours of sleep each night for a whole year.  I was known as the girl who only ever ran to class because I was always running late due to also being the girl that could be found asleep all over campus.  The most common places I could be found passed out were face first on a piano, on the floor in the practice rooms, in my studio (fortunately not face first in a painting), or in any one of the common rooms… but rarely in my bed.  It was interesting.

After Maisy was born I entered two years of a sleep torture cycle.  She refused to go to sleep, making me ferociously bounce her 30-45 minutes each sleep time.  She refused to stay asleep, waking every 30-60 minutes all night long.  And she refused to sleep past 5am.  All of this fell on me, even when Josh was home she would take no one else.  Try with all my might my body and mind refused to peaceably get on board with this regimen.  I was drained every moment of every day and we both paid for it with my chronically short fuse and lack of problem solving skills due a state of constant brain-deadness.

What was so much harder about this childbearing season of sleep deprivation compared to my earlier college experience?  In college I only interacted with peers and professors on a daily basis.  In order to be on my best behavior in that sphere the couple of hours I got was enough, especially at age 18.  In order to be on my best behavior as a mom I needed a full night’s rest.  It’s much harder to maintain a jovial outlook on life and a kind temperament when you’re addressing the demands of a baby every moment of every day.

What finally changed?  First, I fell into a couple wonderful realizations due to a couple trips we took.

When she was just over 1.5 years old we tagged along with Josh on the 2016 KLOVE Cruise.  Going into the cruise I wisely abandoned any predilection that sleep would be remotely normal.  Instead, I largely abandoned her nap routine and stretched her as much as I could with bed time.  The result, she caught naps on me when she could, she slept longer stretches at night than I’d seen in her whole life, and she was wicked grumpy by the last day.  But hey, I got more sleep at night, she got more sleep at night, and I didn’t have to miss all the onshore fun nor many of Josh’s concerts.

Next we, again, hitched a ride with Josh down to Nashville to keep him company during a songwriting trip.  Our accommodations consisted of one bedroom with one queen bed and a twin mattress on the floor.  The ferocious mother spirit of sleep took a vacation that week.  I found myself entirely unwilling to exhaust myself with the bouncing routine off the home front, especially now that our second child was zapping me of all kinds of energy as she grew rapidly inside me, so at nap and bed time I simply squished onto the twin mattress with her until she, or the both of us, fell asleep.  I was in mommy heaven.  The minute we got home we hoisted a twin mattress out of storage, plopped it in her bedroom, and I never looked back.

Lastly, around the time she turned two she grew communicative enough for me to start coaching her through the rules of sleep – and, also, I grew fed up enough to push hard to end the night wakings and early mornings.  I started small.  When she would come in at night I would walk her back to her room and snuggle with her until she fell asleep and then I would crawl back into bed.

Then I transitioned slightly.  When she would come in at night I would walk her back to her room and snuggle her for a little bit then sit at the end of the bed until she was sleeping.  She usually cried some but I reassured her with a little touch and/or some words throughout the process.  When she kind of got the hang of that I would walk her back to her room and only simply sit at the end of her bed each time she came in.

After forever, I simply got tired of the charade and would walk her back to her room, tuck her back in, walk to the door, reassure her verbally there for a minute, then crawl back into my own bed.  “Maisy.  I love you.  You’re a big girl.  You can do this.  I’ll see you in the morning.”

Then one day I was done.  So even though she would still whine and carry on in her room each time I brought her back I faithfully did so each time, I’d tuck her back in, tell her I loved her and that she could do it, then carry myself back out of that room as swiftly as I could.  She’d scream sometimes and other times she’d whine, but I came to slowly realize that though her feelings were real they also weren’t from the pit of sadness I always thought they were.  They really were more of a stubborn and fierce attempt to get her way.  After a handful of nights of walking her straight back to her room and then walking me straight back to mine, those night wakings stopped.  Party was over so why bother coming into our room at all if she was just going to get sent back?

Now-a-days, when I tuck her in for naps I simply state the rules:

  1. Close your eyes
  2. Be still
  3. Be quiet

Sometimes she still struggles to chill out but I try my darndest to be the model of patience in those moments as I repeatedly pop into her room and list of the rules for the hundredth time.  Eventually she goes to sleep.  Then at night all I have to do is listen to her briefly express her excitement for the morning and then we’re good to go.  “Mommy, when my sun clock wakes up, then I can drink all my water and eat emmeal (oatmeal).”

Can’t forget the sun clock.  You have to get one of these!  The last (ok, for real this time) step to teaching her to sleep like a big girl was introducing the sun clock.  This beautiful little device lights up at whatever time you program it to.  Maisy natrually wakes at 5/5:30 no matter how hard we try to get her to go back to sleep.  But, with the help of this clock, I was able to teach her to wait to come into my room until 6:30 because that’s when “my sun comes up.”  Now I feel double blessed because I don’t have to wake up at 5:30 and, instead of setting an alarm clock I get the sweetest hug and kiss from my toddler as my wake up call.  God is so good!  He created some inventor that gave me the OK to Wake! clock and He created my sweet Maisy.

We’re still working on getting completely independent when it comes to sleep, nah who am I kidding.  I’m done trying.  Know why?  Sure, sometimes Maisy tries to get a little sneaky and get out of nap time or at least delay the crap out of sleep times.  But really, we get what we both want out of the deal.  Some book reading time, then some snuggle time, then kisses and “I love yous” goodnight.  Perhaps it’s a far fetched dream, but I literally picture us snuggling at bed time when she’s a teenager.  Sure, the snuggle might look a little different and the duration will likely be shorter but it can happen, I know it can!

A Letter to Penny: Please Sleep

-written April 2017

Sometimes I write to my girls and don’t hit “publish” right away.  This post was written in April 2017 and this picture was taken in April 2017.  Truth is, this was the only night I did this sleep routine with Penny.  But, what I learned through this night of a new sleep tactic, is that giving myself (and her) a grace period of 5 – 15 minutes after laying her down to sleep was a great amount of time to give myself a reboot to either go back in and help her or for her to choose to peacefully give in to sleep on her own.

I’d love to hear from you other fellow moms what worked best for you and your baby to find sleep, and why.  Comment below!

April_26.jpg

My sweet Penny,

Some nights ago I started a new method of “sleep training.”  I’ve tried to be gentle and get you to sleep on your own without you crying about it.  But after some souls searching and enough sleepless nights stacked up in a row I did some more research.  Again.  This is what I found.

Baby sleep training: The basics

And then this.

Baby sleep training: Cry it out methods

So last night I let you cry for 5 minutes, then 10, then 15, then 15 until over an hour had gone by and you were still stubbornly screaming.  I was ripped up to my core:  on the one hand, devastated at your sadness; on the other, downright ticked off that you were refusing to do what I knew you knew to do.  My last ditch effort was a reset.  So I changed your diaper, put some Garlic Mullen drops in your ear (because you’re just coming off of an ear infection), and laid you back down.  You didn’t make a peep, you finally went to sleep.

Moments like this are so trying.  It hurts my heart to hear you cry like that but it also hurts yours and my physical beings to be so severely sleep deprived.  Sleep has to win Penny.  And I pray so hard that, through this sleep teaching process, that we both are only the better for it.  That you still smile and laugh so much.  And that you also learn to love your crib and sleep.  That our bond is untainted.

I love you Penny.

Now, please sleep.

Love,

Mommy

A Letter to Maisy: I’m Sorry For My Tone

August_-16.jpg

For a post written in August (edited and posted only now) it seemed fitting to feature a picture from August as well.  Besides, I figure we all could use a little green on this dreary winter day.

Dear Maisy,

Lately, I’ve been struck by my tone.  Even as the words spill out of my mouth I hear how I sound and I wish I could catch them mid air and put them back in my mouth and swallow them.  Why can’t I stop myself?  Why do the words come out even when the better half of my being only wants to love and respect you.  Why is it always the yucky half of me that gets the louder word in moments like that?

I want to be so patient with you.  I don’t want to make you feel like your questions are stupid or like your words don’t matter or like your needs are frivolous.  Because they aren’t, ever.  And I truly mean that.  And yet, I know my tone says otherwise because I grow impatient and tired of the endless demands of a full day taking care of small children.  It’s not your fault.  And I want to do better.  I pray that as I’m trying to learn to correct this bad tone that you have the grace to know my true desire is always to show you love and respect.

With all my heart,

Mommy