Monday, July 26, 2010

Batman Is My New Best Friend! Guest post on Sane Moms

Batman is my new best friend!

I don’t know who made up the term “terrible 2s”, because in my experience when they turn 3 is when the real fun begins. Not only do they have the tantrums, but they have the logic to back it up. They are stronger, more persistent and more sophisticated in their ridiculous demands.

Whenever I have to give a request or demand to my three year old, I actually have to do some mental prepping because I know there is going to be a clash of wills. It really doesn't  matter what it is, just any direction at all.

Come sit down for dinner. Put your shoes on. Stop crashing your truck into the table. Stop licking the bottom of your shoe. Time to brush your teeth. You get the idea…I am not asking a lot here!

And…we are all too familiar with the over the top demands which cause prolonged meltdowns (for mom and kid)!

When their favorite cup is not clean, when the nuggets are cut the wrong way (but the way they liked it yesterday). When they decide they just can’t wear clothes anymore.

I am a very patient mother. I am quite consistent and well read on parenting techniques. I live by 1-2-3 Magic, and it usually does the trick. But sometimes, NOTHING WORKS! For me it is usually a combination of maternal fatigue, living by the clock, or just the plain old toddler “beat down” where I am just spent from the 37 random struggles on that particular day.

Batman saves the day!

Yesterday was one of those days. Nothing was working. My child was tired and irritable, I was crabby and everything was a struggle. You can imagine when my hubby came home from work and announced he was out of his medication, and he needed it refilled NOW, before the pharmacy closed. He had already promised my older child he would take her to the pool, and there was no time to do both. So, you guessed it…I had to convince the turbo toddler to somehow get in the car to go to the pharmacy to get daddy’s medicine (because of course the thought of going to the pool was just pure torture for him). Big sigh…head hanging low…no 1-2-3 magic is going to work here. He was so content to be playing with Batman on the floor.

That’s it! Batman!

Instead of telling him we had to go the pharmacy and wait through the tantrum before I actually took him out in public and was embarrassed anyway, we will go on an adventure. I pretend that I took a call from Batman who told us he that needs our help. We have to go on a superhero adventure to get daddy’s medicine filled. I have never seen my son go to the bathroom, get his shoes on and get in his car seat so fast!

Mission complete!

The rest of the night I used the same technique. Batman would call and tell us that it was time to eat dinner, brush teeth and go to bed. If this only worked for one night, so be it. I had a day off from struggles, tears, meltdowns and frustrations.

Obviously, I can’t continue this game with every direction. It is not realistic to give instruction though a fake phone and a pretend superhero. On this particular day however, it is what the both of us needed and got us through our rough patch.

Do you have any creative games you pull out on a particularly difficult day with your turbo toddler?

With you in good, bad and your ugly too,

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Parenting Acknowledgment From a Stranger-Post on Owning Pink

Yesterday my husband had a story to share

We live across the street from a pool. My husband was walking home to start dinner when he saw a mom of three young children walking home as well. The children all appeared to be under the age of 5 and the mom was having a "time of it." It was one of those moments where the kids were all demanding something and she had nothing left to give. You know the feeling -- you just want to sit down on the sidewalk with your hands over her ears, rock back and forth until your fairy god mother comes to the rescue? (Can you tell I've been there about a million times?)

The baby in the stroller was crying loudly, the toddler was screaming that he wanted pretzels and the oldest child was misbehaving. Mom had run out of hands and momentum. She was visibly stressed and overwhelmed. My husband walked by this woman and said, "Hang in there, mom." There was no exchange of eye contact or additional words. He continued walking home.

My husband put the baked potatoes in the oven and started to walk back to the pool to re-join us. On the way back he ran into this mom again. This time, the situation was much calmer. The baby had stopped crying, the toddler was happily munching on pretzels and the oldest child was engaged in a conversations with his mom. As my husband approached the woman, she smiled and said, "Hey, thanks for that."

A little acknowledgment goes a long way

Was it the recognition of a difficult situation that helped this mom regain focus and balance? Was it the encouragement to "hang in there"? Did the chaos just work itself out? Did her fairy godmother come to the rescue? We will never know. What I do know is that in this situation, I would have really appreciated similar encouragement from a stranger. During my chaotic moments I actually look for eye contact, some acknowledgement, a life preserver, but I rarely get anything positive. I have been in countless situations where I was embarrassed, out of steam, wanting to cry and no one said a word. Worse yet, I got those looks like what kind of mother are YOU or why are you letting your children behave that way?

Every parent has been there, why don't we support each other more?

I haven't always stepped up

As my husband shared this story, I reflected on situations in the past where I could have acknowledged or supported another parent. Why didn't I step up? For me, it wasn't about judgement. I never look at a parent who is struggling and wonder about them as a parent. I have sympathy, empathy and strangely enough it normalizes my less then perfect moments. It makes me feel connected to that person, yet I never say a word.

Testing out my reflection

Yesterday, at the same pool, I witnessed the newly acquired ice cream of a two year-old fall off the stick, melted from the hot sun. This child instantly started screaming at the top of her lungs. Luckily her mom caught the ice cream in her hand, so it was still edible, but the child wanted no part of the hand held ice cream and was pitching an impressive fit. Everyone at the pool ignored the situation. I watched the mom. She was starting to get flustered, the parents started to argue about how to handle the situation and the screaming escalated. Then the mom's eyes met mine. I smiled, held my hand to my head and shook my head. She smiled and I could see her body relax. The screaming continued and she ended up taking the child away from the pool. The husband later came to me and said, "I guess it isn't a good idea to get ice cream on a stick in 90 degree weather, huh?" We laughed together.

Pay it forward

I am committed to paying this acknowledgement forward. Whether it is a smile, a "hang in there" or "I've been there", I will support strangers who are visibly having a hard time. My hope is that the recipients will feel the difference and pay it forward. Maybe on some small level, even if is just at my pool across the street, parents will abandon the embarrassment, the isolation and feel a little less frazzled when they are experiencing their own personal chaos.

What about you? Is there some acceptance, recognition or acknowledgment you can give in your corner of the world?

With you in all of your embarrassing and less then "perfect" moments,


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bring Back the Fun! Post on Owning Pink

Bring Back the Fun!  Post on Owning Pink.

I was talking with a client earlier this week and she told me that she used to have a garden outside that made her incredibly happy. She would spend her free time tending to the garden, loving the garden, and even won awards for its striking beauty. Usually by this time of year, the garden is in full swing and she is adding the finishing touches of decorative lights so she can also enjoy its beauty at night. She shared fond memories of her family sitting on the porch together and admiring the garden while enjoying the sweet summer air, a glass of wine, and each other.

Ignoring our passions

She now looks at the garden and feels sad. She feels empty. The garden is one more thing to do, one more thing to take care of. It is full of weeds, old mulch and dried leaves. She misses her old garden and the way she felt tending to it and enjoying it… but just can’t find the energy to get it started again. My client is a mom of three teenagers (and a damn good one I may add!). It has been a long year of unforeseen complications and family crisis. She has had the wind knocked out of her, and has been challenged in ways she never thought possible. She is tired and drained and has not only ignored her garden, but herself. I ask her, ”Why is it summer and your garden has been un-touched? Have your interests and passions changed, or is that you have no passion and energy because you have given up everything that makes you happy?” This client is particularly funny, as every time I touch on something she asks me to hold on so she can get a pen and paper. She writes the question down and agrees to journal about it during the week.

So this gardening client sent me an email yesterday to share that she had tackled that garden. A task that usually takes her days to complete was done in one day. She said she was like a wild woman; pulling weeds, planning flowers and mulching. She wanted to share that she didn’t know where this energy came from… but that she felt fantastic! She was writing to me as she was sitting on her porch, enjoying her garden -- and that glass of wine!

Losing the fun

I know all about the loss of fun. When I became a mother I was consumed with being a “mom”…and that was IT. I gave up everything that made me happy. I felt like I didn’t have the time or energy to peruse anything that interested me. At the time I just felt tired, unfulfilled… like something was missing. I thought I just didn’t like being a mom. Many years later I look back, and now know that I had lost my mojo, sense of self -- and I nearly lost my mind! Not because I didn’t enjoy being a mom, but I wasn’t enjoying me. I wasn’t enjoying MY life. I wasn’t having any fun.

We cannot be caretakers and forget about our self-care. Perusing our passions and interests makes us happy, and when we are happy, we are better caretakers. Sounds simple right? It is!

In honor of my dear client, grab your pen… Think of some interests and passions you used to have. What happened to them? Is it that your interests and passions have changed, or are YOU lacking energy because you have given up everything that makes you happy? What can you bring back? Is there something new you would like to try? What is one small step you can make this week to get going in the right direction? How can you incorporate a little fun into your day? Let's bring back the fun!

Yours in adventure,


Monday, July 12, 2010

Can't I just let them fight it out?

Guest post on Sane Moms

How do you handle fighting in your house?

I know all kids fight.  I know we can't stop it completely.  But some days I feel like I should be wearing a black and white striped outfit and a whistle around my neck.  My kids are both very strong willed and spirited.  My daughter is 5, extremely dramatic and wants a lot of space.  My son is 3 and is unusually physically active.  All he wants to do is sit on top of her.  What they want from each other is so completely opposite that we can't seem to find a common ground.  Some days I don't know what else to say, I sound like a broken record.  I feel like I have tried it all...

I explain to my kids that we are a kind family.  We don't hurt each other.  Brothers and sisters are supposed to protect each other.  They can recite how they should treat each other beautifully, but no 
carry over.

Off limits
We have designated "special toys" and special areas of the house that are off limits to the other sibling.  They break the rules themselves as they give each other permission to come on over or play and then fight about it.

Time outs
I tried time outs both in corners and in their seperate rooms.  They don't care.

Sticker charts
We have implemented sticker charts for "getting along" where the kids can earn rewards for kind behavior.  No luck!

Taking things away
We have had a "fight" bag where every time they fought they would each have to deposit a toy into the bag.  They cry when it goes in, but it hasn't minimized the fighting.

Ignore it
We have done the "fight it out" method and my daughter knocked four of my son's teeth out at a 90 degree angle in a matter of 10 seconds ( I never use this method anymore).

I tell them if they talk to other people this way they will not have any friends to play with.  I also tell them how their fighting hurts their mom and dad.  This doesn't work!

We have read countless books on getting along and being kind.  They like the books, but no cross over to real life.

We have implemented date nights where each parent will take each child on a seperate date.  Everyone has fun, but as soon as they are together again...ka-pow!

I am at a loss.  What else do other parents do?  What secret ingredient do you have in teaching your children to get along with each other?  Is this something I have to just deal with for the next 15 years???

Please do tell...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Monday, July 5, 2010

Everything I own is falling apart!

We survived the RV tip (barely), but you wouldn't believe what we came home to.  I am sorry if I am so slow at getting back to people, I am a bit frazzled at the moment!  When I get my act together and get everything fixed, I will spill the beans about the RV adventure.  I know some of you are sitting on the edge of your seats trying to decide whether to rent you Cruise America RV or not...

 Here is a list of things that have broken in the last week:

1) I have a hole in my ceiling from a water leak which we found directly as we were suppose to leave on vacation.

2) My bathroom is torn up from that water leak.

3) My tree out front was struck by lighting causing a power surge.  This resulted in no phone, cable or Internet for 3 days.  After it was all fixed, my computer wouldn't turn on at all and I feel very lucky that it was only the power cord that needed to be replaced.

4) My dishwasher wouldn't clean and the top rack and was spitting the soap everywhere.  When the man came to fix it he found small rocks which were clogging it.  Ummm... I wonder who threw rocks in my dishwasher...

5) The spring on the hatch of my hot mama mini van.  It may not seem like a big deal, but you try loading groceries into the car with one hand while the other is trying to prop open the 100lb door so it doesn't smash your head.

6) My washing machine smells like mold.

7) Two of my toilet paper holders are off the wall.  Umm... wonder who pulled those off...

I must have pissed someone off in the universe.  My luck sucks right now!

Ok, It is 3 days later and now my stereo receiver is broken and my freaking air conditioning unit is blowing hot air in the middle of an East Coast heat wave of 105 degrees.  We all had to sleep on the basement floor last night to prevent baking in our sleep.

What the hell is going on here???!!!!

Friday, July 2, 2010

How do you know when your family is complete?

A guest post on Sane Moms

When I was pregnant with my first child, I swore I would never have another.  I held true to this statement up until my daughter was about a year old; and then I fell in love with her.  My husband and I started talking about the idea of a second.  Two children felt right to us.  We wanted our daughter to have a sibling, we wanted the experience of creating and raising another child.  We felt our family was not yet complete, so we went for it.  

When I was pregnant with my second, I swore I would never have another...and this time I meant it!  I called the insurance company, and when my husband got home from work one day I told him for 20 bucks, a day off of work and a bag of frozen peas, we could be sure this never happened again!  My husband logically said to his very pregnant and irrational wife, "Don't you think we should wait until the baby comes?"  Agreed!  So three weeks after baby number two arrived, the appointment was scheduled for the old snip snip and it was a done deal.  

We both knew our marriage nor our mental health could survive another child.  

We have never regretted our decision.  

For many women, knowing when your family is complete is not so easy.  For some, it is an internal struggle about what feels right vs. what is practical.  For others, they have strong feelings of having another, (or not) but their partner may have different plans.

I have several friends who are trying to figure out if their families are complete.  As they are all approaching 40, they feel as though they are pressed to make a decision soon.  

-My one friend has 2 girls, ages 3 and 6.  She has always wanted a large family.  She would keep reproducing in a second except that her oldest daughter has special needs.  She is torn between being more available to her, or feeling like her family is complete.  This decision is highly emotional for her.  Every time she sees a baby she wants to hold, smell and feel the baby.  She is such a natural mom.  

-Another friend has two boys; age 3 and 5.  She doesn't feel as though her family is complete either.  Life is easier now and she isn't sure she wants to do the baby thing all over again.  She is at a turning point in her career and can't afford to be on leave again.  Her family doesn't feel complete, she has always felt and dreamt of three kids.  She is torn. 

-A third friend has one child who is 13 months old.  She wasn't sure she wanted children at all.  She thinks about having another, but when she does, she thinks in terms of what else she could possibly give up...the spare bedroom, part of the family budget and her body again.  She realized recently that her family is complete, as she was focussing on what she would be losing instead of gaining. 

What about you?  Is there another being in the universe calling your name?  How do you know when your family is complete?  How do you work out a compromise if your partner has a different vision?