Mothering a Newborn: Tips for the Criminally Exhausted Mommy

5 weeks. 5 weeks of being an official mother of 3. 1 newborn, 1 preschooler, and 1 kindergartener. How do I feel? Probably the most common question I am asked, right before “Are you getting any sleep?” Both of these questions can and should be answered the same: It changes every day.

Today I am tired. Tired from several sleepless nights due to a recent discovery that my newborn is lactose intolerant, which apparently equals to painful feedings, screaming, crying, and incessant toots – those being painful, too. Poor baby. And yes, poor mommy.

Then the morning comes, always too quickly, and my older two children need to be fed, dressed, and out the door before the tardy bell rings. The tardy bell – that’s a whole other story… who knew kindergarten teachers could be so scary! To me, not to my kid. He loves school. I’ve already managed to get in trouble for messing up the car pool line, forgetting my car pool sign, being too early to school, too late, buying the wrong color binder… geez! Get it together, mom! I should have done a little more research on mom expectations before the first day. But, oh well. We will survive. And, we’ll all be okay.
These first weeks of mayhem are reminding me of 1 very important lesson I’ve several times learned and frequently forgotten…

Let go of at least one thing that doesn’t have to be done today.

I find I often want to do a lot of things and accomplish a lot of tasks. Clean the house, fold the laundry, put away the laundry, go to Target (because that’s what all home bound moms live to do) cook dinner, eat dinner, bathe myself, bathe my kids, sit down, sing nighttime songs, read bedtime stories, spend time with my husband, wash my face, brush my teeth, go to sleep, get some sleep! Before waking up and doing it all again.

Seems doable, right? On a “normal” day, sure. But, with a newborn? Not so much. Doing any one of these things can feel like an accomplishment when you’re bartering with a tiny human for food, sleep, and comfort.
 
When I’m approaching that danger zone of “If one more person asks for me for one more thing, I’m going to freak out!” I must ask myself, which of these “must-do’s” can I erase off my list? Better yet, maybe best to just trash the list all together. I’d rather have a little extra calm while wearing a spit up stained t-shirt, feeding my kids pb&j for the 5th day in row (trust me, they love it!) than be frantically squirming back and forth between laundry piles, burnt food on the stove, and kids crying because “mommy keeps yelling at me”.

I mean is that what I want my life to look like?

I think not.

 So, I ask myself, what can go un-done today? What can I let go of? What can I put off until tomorrow. What can I ask for help with? Epiphany! You can ask for help!

Maybe for today it means I let the dust collect a little more. (I reeeaaaallllyyy hate dust, but it will not kill me to see it for one more day). Maybe it means ordering takeout or eating soup for dinner. Maybe it means not making it to the gym, which is a luxury these days anyway. Maybe it means greasy hair (for me and my kids) or maybe it means getting to school after the tardy bell rings. Shocker! Life will go on. And by the way, no kid was ever sent to therapy because his mom got him to school late one day (or a few). It will be okay.

You’ve got to make sure you are okay. Cancel plans. Stay in bed. Forget the dishes. And the laundry. There will be another day, if we are so lucky, to do it all again.

NEW SCHOOL YEAR AHEAD! Preparing Your Child for Change: BEING POSITIVE

Last week I sent my daughter off to a new preschool. All anxiety, trepidation, and fear (on my part) was laid to rest as she went bounding into the room with a smile on her face, ready to take on the new adventure. In that moment I became very aware of two possibilities: either I am a very overactive nervous mommy OR I did a sufficient job preparing her for the change. Maybe both.

In my previous post we talked about preparing your child for the new school year through proactive prepping. Today we will focus on being positive in the face of change and all things new.

Now you might be thinking that in order to be a positive thinking parent you must be a positive thinking person. I am here to tell you, this is not true. You may, however, find that through some practice you will become a more positive person, and who doesn’t want that? I, by nature, am a skeptic. I’ve trained my brain to believe if I consider all the things that could go wrong I will then be able to prepare myself to handle it more successfully. Faulty logic, here. What actually ends up happening is I turn myself into a worrying, stressed, and irritable mess who’s actually less capable of handling the circumstances gracefully. Maybe a little positive, hopeful thinking is a worthwhile alternative to consider… I decided to give it a try.

Being positive doesn’t mean you ignore the negative. It means you include both potential pitfalls and potential successes by addressing them with a solution focused mindset.

Since we are talking about beginning a new school year, let’s take my son for example. He’s turning 5 next week and will be entering elementary school 4 days later. He’ll also be partaking in welcoming a new sibling within this exact time frame. 3 big milestones here!

My son happens to be a bit of a skeptic himself, thinking of what could go wrong before what could go right. Preparing him effectively takes a lot of positivity while still paying careful attention to his concerns. Again, we are not seeking to discount the supposed negatives here. How do I go about this delecate task? Let’s take a look…

How to be a Positive Parent when Facing Change


1). Listen Fully


As I reminded my son this morning that we were going to his kindergarten school to talk with the teacher, I could see the nerves creep up on him. “But why, mommy? I don’t want to. I don’t want you to leave me there. I will be scared.”

First, I needed to remind him what was actually going to take place. “I am not going to leave. I will be there the whole time while you talk to the teacher. We will be there for a little while then we’ll come back home.” (Proactive Prepping in action). “Oh, okay.”, he stated as his nerves soothed a bit.

It is crucial to listen to what your child is telling you, verbally and non verbally, so you can effectively respond. Being positive does not mean discounting the concern through statements such as, “It’s fine. There’s nothing to be afraid of. Don’t worry. Etc.” This causes your child to shut their fears inside where they remain unaddressed. Encourage them to let it out.

2). Validate their feelings.


“Honey, I know going new places and meeting new people can seem scary. It’s all so new! Let’s think of what you might do when you we get there. (More proactive preparing here).

3). Consider the Positives


Help your child consider the good things while validating the supposed ‘not so good ‘. “I bet the teacher will be so nice. And the classrooms – ooh man, I bet there are so many cool toys and crafts in there. You will have so many fun choices! What do you think it will be like?” “I think there will be computers?! And games?! Lots of things to color with?!” “Oh yeah! I bet you’re right! I can’t wait for us to go and check it out together!” This convo sounds like it’s taking a positive turn.

4). Let go….


There comes a time where you may need to release the grip and let your child see for himself that it really is “okay”. If you have a particularly anxious child, seeing is believing. After all your preparations and positivity they may still feel nervous, and that is okay. Having your positive belief that it really is okay will allow them to step forward in trust. There may be tears and little fists gripping your shirt that you have to pry loose with the jaws of life, but they can, and most likely will see for themself that it is okay. Better than okay even.

Monitoring your own anxiety is critical. If you’re child senses that you’re afraid, they will feel afraid. Remind yourself and your child that THIS IS A GOOD THING! You wouldn’t be doing this, on purpose, if it wasn’t.

Change can be daunting, or scary, but there sure are a lot of exciting things to be experienced on the other side. Have fun!

			

New School Year Ahead! Preparing Your Child for Change: Being Proactive

http://happymindhappyhome.com/new-school-year-ahead-proactively-preparing-child-change/

“I want to go to my new school!”, squeals my (almost) 3 year old. In a few short days she’ll be transitioning to a new daycare . My husband and I have been prepping her for this change for a couple months… and prepping ourselves as well. Due to multiple changes occurring within this month ahead (hello baby number 3, kindergarten here we come) we figured why not just throw in one more thing. Changes all around! No man left behind! Let’s go all in!


If you’ve read any of my most recent posts you understated that for me, change usually brings anxiety. But, we are not here to talk about anxiety today. I’m taking a break from anxiety for a while. Instead, I’m focusing on being proactive, positive, and peaceful. I’m keeping in mind that I can only control so much. The rest I must leave up to faith, hope, and trust. I have come to realize I really do know very very little about predicting the future. Psychic readings are not my calling. <huff>

Let’s take some time, shall we, to focus on these 3 “P” words: Proactive, Positive, and Peaceful. Given that there is much to be said on each one of these “P” words I am going to break it down to 3 separate posts over the next 3 weeks, which will be just in time for most of you as you get ready to send your kiddo off to a new school year. We’re going to start with the first, and most important, in my opinion –

Being Proactive:

Though I cannot know for certain how my children will adjust to their new schools, new friends, new teachers, new sibling, and all other things new, I can, however, prepare them for what to expect  (as best as I am able).

Let’s take my daughter for example. She has gone to the same daycare her whole life. This makes it difficult for my husband and I to move her somewhere new where she doesn’t know anyone. Somewhere new where we don’t know anyone. ** Now these two sentences here are important. Important because as parents we may have the tendency to project our feelings (anxiety or otherwise) onto our children. I may be feeling anxious, my husband may be feeling anxious, but my daughter, well that’s a maybe. All I know right now is she feels excited about going somewhere new. She likes new. She is an adventurous soul in this way. Me – not so much. All the more reason not to assume that I know how she’ll feel. I can know, with a little therapist background in my pocket, that preparing kids for changes is crucial no matter how fluidly they adapt to changes or not. We all like to know what’s ahead.

Proactive Prepping

So what is the best way to proactively prep your child for change? The number 1 rule I share with the parents I work work is:

Paint a Mental Picture for Your Child.
 

Not an actual picture, a mental picture. Children function through images. They develop understanding through seeing and doing as opposed to hearing. Learning through hearing is an acquired skill that develops more through development and growth. When children are young, they need to see and do in order to fully grasp ahold of a concept. This helps them feel empowered and in control.


With my daughter we’ve been driving by the school regularly, we made a visit to the school so she could see the classrooms, see the actual space she’ll be going to each day to play. This will help her feel a little safer when we return on her actual 1st day. Now, lucky for me I have the opportunity to bring her there for a trial morning in which she’ll get to return home with me after a couple hours versus a full day. To be honest, I’m not sure if this is more for my peace of mind or hers. Like I said, this is a change for everyone. I don’t know these people either!! I digress…. back to being proactive. If you don’t have the opportunity to physically see a change before it takes place, you can still very well assist your child in creating their mental picture. Most important is you want to speak your child’s language – play. Remember, they learn through seeing and doing.

Here are 3 simple ideas for how to do this:

  1. Draw a picture together
  2. Enact a scene using dolls and other toys.
  3. Dress up and act out a scene together of the first day.

How to get started:

  • Start out by reminding your child about the upcoming change.
  • Tell her that today you’re going to draw a picture/play a game together about the first day of school.
  • Allow her to select the materials to get started.
  • Ask questions along the way to help shape her mental picture, such as what will it look like, what colors will the room be, what will her teacher be like, what will she play with, what will she eat, etc. There are no limits really to how imaginative you can become. *It is important, though, that this picture be one grounded in reality. You want her mental picture to closely reflect what will actually happen.
  • Also helpful to include here is a play by play. “Mommy will bring you to school and walk you to your room where we’ll meet your new teacher. I’ll get you settled in your room then mommy will leave for work. After work I will come back to pick you up. I’ll be so excited to see and hear what you do on your first day!” Always great to end with something you can both look forward to.

All of these help shape your child’s understating of what will take place when this change occurs, aiding her in feeling masterful over what’s the come as opposed to feeling at the whim of the changing tides ahead.

Helping our children feel in control in a healthy way is the best way of preventing them to look for control in unhealthy ways. These little people deserve this help from us. And hey, you will likely find that it’s quite helpful for you as well!

I look forward to hearing how proactive prepping helps you and your child grow through change together. Please share. And come back next week for tips on a being a positive parent through change.

			

How’s your Summer going?

Okay Mamas, we are about four weeks into summer time here in Texas….

How’s your Summer going??

Hopefully you have had time to play at the pool, sleep in, maybe go see one of this summer’s great movies….

Mine, oh, thanks for wondering…..I am enjoying being able to sleep in a bit, having more time with my boys and more time to spend with friends. The boys enjoyed a couple camps to kick the summer off and now they are in the long haul at daycare when I am in the office. The movies this summer have us anxious for the next one and we love our long summer days playing in the pool. We are looking forward to our family vacation next week and the birth of my first nephew any day now. So far my summer is going pretty good! Continue reading

Preparing for Baby#3: Why it’s Nothing Like Before

32 weeks pregnant. I’m nearly finished brewing baby number 3 and yet I feel that I haven’t even fully grasped the concept that I have another life growing in me, a life soon to be living out in this world; In our home; In our family; In our lives, forever changed. The past 7 months feel like a blur of toddler taming, sibling refereeing, and kindergarten preparing. Who has time to think about swaddling a newborn amidst all that? I keep thinking I need to pull out my baby sleep manuals to refresh my baby mommy skills, but there it sits on the shelf covered in dust. I’m sure I’ll crack it open here soon. Maybe. Pregnancy the third time around is different, very different, and here’s why…

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YOGA? Y.ou O.nly G.ott A.

Breathe. 

It is more than a little ironic that Yoga is the activity I turn to on a daily basis to cope with the ups and downs of being a parent.  The more I think about it, the more I realize YOGA is the perfect metaphor for parenting.

I can almost hear each reader’s audible ugh as I type this post. YOGA….

Ya either love it, hate it, OR BOTH. Some of you haven’t tried it yet. Some of you never will. Kind of sums up having children does it?

 I can’t recall exactly when my love affair with yoga began, but let me assure you; it definitely was NOT love at first sight. Truth be told, my first date with yoga TOTALLY sucked.

First of all, before the date even started, Yoga wanted me to be quiet-STRIKE 1- I like to talk. Correction: I LOOOVE talking. Besides, how are we going to know if we like each other if we don’t talk?

Our love connection was off to a very rocky start.

Next,  YOGA proceeded to tell me to “be still”Seriously? Who the hell does this YOGA think he is? Doesn’t he realize I’m a mom & dishes don’t wash themselves? I’ve got things to do.  Furthermore, when I am still…I start thinking. I think too much…waay toooo much.  Strike 2.

The final strike came when Yoga wanted me to set an intention.  An intention for what? Staying alive? Fine. My intention was pretty much to try  super hard not to throw up or pass out OR die a heaping hot sweaty mess in the middle of all of these toned and tan & oddly serene strangers.

Ok…you win YOGA. I intend to survive this class.

As it turns out, I not only survived the first date; I  came back for more. 

YOGA and I  proceeded to “date” on and off for the next  few years. We even broke up a few times (my decision), before I realized that I really missed it..and loved it….and NEEEEEEEEEEEDED IT.

So now we are back together…at least for the time being. 

 

Anyway, I digress. My point was to tell you how lessons learned in YOGA mirror that of my experience in parenting.

YOGA ASKS THAT WE: 

  • Show up. Most days, making it onto your mat is the hardest part.
  • Set an intention to guide your practice.  Intentions are unique and change on a daily basis depending on your child’s sugar intake & the amount of caffeine you have ingested.
    OOOOMMM…Why is this so hard?

    Today, I want my children to be responsible, compassionate, passionate about learning, and kind. Tomorrow I intend to not screw them up too much. By Wednesday, my intention is usually not to throw up, pass out or die trying.

  • Focus inward…. How does the vision I have of myself, others and the world shape my choices as a parent.  How am I reacting to their successes & failures?  What parts of my own childhood am I replicating or running from and why?
  • Rest. It is a sign of strength. I repeat..RESTING IS ALWAYS A SIGN OF STRENGTH, never a sign of weakness.
  • Be flexible. The more rigid you are, the more it’s gonna hurt.
  • Focus on small daily progress.  The practice doesn’t change. You do.
  • Don’t look around. When you do, you give your energy away. This is not a competition & comparisons are a not helpful.
  • Be present.  Looking behind or ahead only distracts you from making the most each moment.
  • BREATHE…You Only Gott A Breathe…When you feel like giving up (& you will want to), you only gotta breathe.  As long as you are breathing and staying present, you are doing it right.

Other lessons from “Yoga”…

  • You will never do it perfectly no matter how hard you try. In fact, you will often fall. You will  look super weird and awkward…crazy even.  The good news is, so does everybody else!
  • It sometimes feels like it will never end.
  • It’s crowded & sweaty….Everyone else is working hard too.
  • Everyone has an opinion about how to do it & people are really quick to point out that you are doing it wrong. Tell them to shut the * up and get back on their own mat. 
  • You mostly go it alone-unless you count the other awkward, hot sweaty messes around you.
  • You may or may not have a teacher. If you do, you are lucky. But keep in mind, he or she is just a guide. …She/He doesn’t have all the answers either.

Namaste…the sweaty hot mess in me honors the sweaty hot mess in you.

 

summer screen time police

Summer is here ladies and gentleman!

Are you Ready??

summer

It seems like the first day of school was just yesterday. Time flies by hence why I often find myself wishing time would stand still. Truth is, time really does fly by. Seems like just the day before yesterday I was stroller walking with my neighborhood mom tribe.  Well, with two more days of 1st and 2nd grade here at my house I am about to have a 2nd and 3rd grader. Time stand still! 

With summer comes excitement, a bit of anxiety and a dash of dread. We get to sleep in! Go to the pool! Have street parties with kids out playing under the sunset. Grocery shopping might have to be after the hubby gets home because I dread taking kids to the grocery store. My work to-do list will be on the back burner till August. And then the dreaded “I’m Bored” will invariably sneak in at some point.

But before all that, before the last bell sounds, I am setting the summer screen-time standard.

What is that?  Well, I have one little boy, I am not naming names here, that could sit and play x-box 360 for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 12 month in a row, 365 days a year. So I must set the summer screen time standard right out the summer starting gate. This will be part of their Hello Summer basket I give them Friday to celebrate school being out.

summer screen time
Click on image for Free Printable

 To be honest I function and feel like a better mom and wife when I have structure. And in truth my kids are better kids when they have structure. This way they know what is expected of them before they ask “Can I play electronics?” and hundred million times. This way I have to use my frustrated voice before 9am. This way they will not think sneaking downstairs and leaving the volume off will get them a few more minutes.

OK. Mom Confession.

This will not happen EVERYDAY. There WILL be days that I too need a break from all the structure. But I know that setting this expectation up front will make for one less power struggle on our Mommy Mondays.

Another thing I do every summer is have the boys make a Summer Bucket List. Check back  so I can share what we come up with.

Connecting with Your Kids: Why They Need It & Why You Need It, Too.

Here I am again – It’s a Sunday morning (my kids favorite time of day to throw their wildest tantrums). So I’m trying to breathe deep and remember why I don’t want to scream and yell when they are well, screaming and yelling. All I want to do is have my coffee and eat some oatmeal. Is that really too much to ask? According to a toddler, yes it is. Much, much to much to ask.

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