Tuesday, April 25, 2017

I am raising a thankful child.


Saying thank you is important and I feel I have really stressed that to my boys. I say thank you for just about everything ; no matter how small the favor was. I always make sure that everyone around me feels like they are not taken for granted and being respected. I like to make people feel like they mean something to me, and I know with a simple thank you they can feel aware of their importance in your life. Before I had kids I remember when parents used to make their children say thank you to me for small things I did without really thinking I needed to be thanked. For instance, a child I would help tutor, the mother would make him call me after every passing test to thank me for helping him achieve that passing grade, and I would automatically feel the need to say he didnt have to thank me because I did it out of the kindness of my heart. But now as a mother I completely understand what she was trying to instill in her child. She was raising him to be thankful. To be thankful for every person that helps you, either big or small. They have to understand at an early age that not everything is handed to you and that everyone has feelings. As good humans we acknowledge all people with kindness. We reciprocate even with a simple thank you. I have heard many mothers say that they wont force their child to say thank you to someone if they truly dont feel like thanking them. But that just doesnt fly here. My child will say thank you if you simply hand them a tissue. I think its just a necessary habit we have to instill in them right away, because they will start to simply understand that being kind can make a change. Its such a simple thing we dont feel can make much of a difference, but it does. I think about it as this - they will be an adult one day at a restaurant with their girlfriend. The waiter will come and serve them drinks, and ill be damned if my son doesnt show his date the gentlemen he is by saying thank you. Because that waiter is doing their job, but just because it is someones job doesnt necesarly mean they arent human. I am a firm believer in the saying that nothing greatly accomplished was done with just one. I believe fully that if you are doing big things, and making all your goals and dreams come true, you are most likely not doing it alone. There is a large group of people right behind you - helping you, cheering you on, and working just as hard to make it all happen FOR YOU. That saying- it takes a village. It surely does. And this is just another way that you can teach your children that they arent going to just make things happen all the time on their own. So in order to get places and make dreams happen - you have to be a decent person, with manners - that accepts others, and takes into consideration that they are just like you at the end of the day.  I know that when I do something for my kids or my significant other a simple thank you can really make my day, and keep me motivated to keep on being my best. So I can only imagine just how amazing our kids feel when they hear it too. I remind them all the time of their good choices by saying thank you. When they walk in from school and take their shoes off ; and nicely place them on the welcome mat - I say thank you , because every good choice needs to praised for them to realize that good choices are whats best for them to choose. I always remind my children how grateful they should be and how many people don't have what they have. They may be too young to fully understand it .. but I'm not going to use their age as an excuse to not start teaching them kindness now rather than later -when it might be too little too late. It's the smallest gestures that add up & make them the most important! Whether it is something over the top amazing ; or slightly life changing I will raise my kids to be thankful. 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Fun with Peaceable Kingdom.

It's so important to me that my kids enjoy themselves. I am always looking for the best events ; the best toys; the best activities; the best games. I love seeing what kind of personalities they have through all of it. When I was younger I wouldn't consider myself as a competitive child; but I sure as hell was a big sore loser. I can admit it. I was the child who cried every single time I lost at musical chairs. It got to a point where I just didn't even participate in birthday games because I didn't want to have a meltdown if I lost. I didn't enjoy losing because I felt embarrassed when I did. Eventually I got over it ; now as an adult I just deal with it differently....shopping helps. But my boys remind me of myself in that sense..and let's just say it's no fun for me. The oldest will only allow the little one to "win" whenever he feels like it, but my little one likes to win - every single time! God forbid he loses anything he literally loses it. So when I found out about Peaceable Kingdom games I was so ready to give it a shot. They make cooperative games where players have to work together against the game and not against each other. Kids learn vital skills ; as well as team work! This game has definitely been quite a lifesaver for me. I don't have to worry about them arguing while they play; or the hassle of bribing my oldest to let his little brother win. It's so much fun too! And let's face it - learning how to work together with other people to achieve something ; or find a solution is a big life lesson that should be taught early. If they learn now that team work makes the dream work they won't be that child who hogs the ball; or takes over the whole group project in school. 
It's also such a fun game to play with your kids. It helps show your child that they can trust in you and they can work with you to make things happen. It is definitely a great new edition to our family game night collection! 

And - if you lose any pieces (which we all know always seems to happen) you can write to them and they will send you pieces you have lost! 

* We played the game Stone Soup. All games are available on Amazon and PeaceableKingdom.com 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Bedtime is my favorite time.


Back when I was just a young first time mom, bed time was my least favorite time ever. It felt more like a wrestling match which took forever for him to finally tap out and just let me win. But your second time around makes things a whole lot easier. Lets just say I learned this all the hard, tiring way. I think sleep is most likely the number one thing that moms miss the most ; pre baby. Being able to go to bed when you want, being able to sleep in on the weekends. It is something we realize we took for granted before. Why oh why did I hate sleep so much? Did I really stay up till 3am on the phone with friends willingly?  I guess motherhood and just growing up in general turns you into a completely different person.

When I first had Jace, my oldest, I thought a sleep schedule was not needed. I didn't find the importance of it. I thought only boring moms would do such a thing. I was going to be the cool mom that allows her child to stay up as late as he wanted, to eat ice cream and play with the same puzzles over and over again. It was a cute thought, until that little nugget wore me out every night watching the same episodes of Wonder Pets until two in the morning. It took me a couple months to realize it was truly messing with his mood ; and mine too! I wanted to feel sane again. So I went through the hard but crucial process of getting him into a good sleeping routine. It took some time but it happened!

Now bed time is far from a problem in this home. Our bed time routine usually starts with cleaning up in the living room so we can turn off all the lights. We then brush teeth and use the potty. For years now we have been using the same sound soothing machine which plays slow classical music. I also light a candle every night and rub some lavender eucalyptus rub on their chest. They lay on their beds & that is when I take the time to talk to them in silence and darkness. I absolutely adore this time of the day because I get to un wind with them and get them to really open up to me. I ask them questions about their day; their current mood/ feelings. I tell them about my day ; and things I did or felt during the day. I love being able to connect with them without the background noise of the tv or toys all over the place. It is there; lying with them on their beds where I feel closest to them. We cuddle; we laugh; we tell each other secrets. I get to look them in the eyes while they enthusiastically tell me about the cool activity they did in art class; or the fun game they played during recess.  It's a very special and important time in our day that doesn't last too long; but that feels the most amazing. As they whisper goodnight and I kiss them and tell them I love them; they turn over and fall deep into dream world. 

I feel like as parents we just want bed time to be over with. Trust me I get it ; there are days when they are tearing up the house and I feel like I'm being held hostage myself... but I have realized that if I make it like a chore or something that needs to get done right away - they won't respond to it well. I know it takes my kids about 30 minutes to wind down and really go to sleep ; so I use those 30 minutes to get them comfortable and settle down while at the same time allowing them to reflect on their day; and tell me all their silly stories. 

It has not always been one of my most favorite parts of the day- but I am so happy it now is! 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Their morning is how you make it !

As a child; me and mornings were far from friends. My poor mother had to hear me complain about every single thing; from my socks not fitting correctly to my hair not looking how I wanted.  (Sorry mom!) it was such a hassle to make me happy in the AM ; and even harder to get me to school. Trust me when I say - I LOVED school ; but it was the waking up part that I just couldn't come to terms with. This followed me my whole life actually. As a college student my first class was at 8:30am so I needed to be up at 5:30am to get to Brooklyn on time. That is when I met my best friend coffee and our beautiful relationship became official. I found something that made me happy ; made me sociable ; and kept me productive. No - I am not advising you to give your kids a cup of joe! But I am saying that we have to find what awakens their spirit to make mornings a tad bit easier on all of us. 

Now first let's start off with the basic points that everyone knows can make a difference. Enough sleep is a HUGE deal. Make a sleep routine & stick with it because it will make or break their mood. I learned this one the hard way! Secondly, have everything ready and layed out before you wake them. Wake up before them if you can to get some alone time. YOU must put yourself in a good mood and a positive mind state before you have to gear them into theirs. So give yourself time to get ready; prep your coffee; lay out their clothing & school essentials so nothing is forgotten and all goes smoothly. Nobody likes to be rushed ; so do everything you can so you can slowly move them from one transition to the next so it isn't all just fast paced and running around. They will feel the stress from that and it can affect their mood ; just as it does for us. Be prepared! 

Now finding what awakens them in good spirits is tough. But dig deep and see what you feel works best for your own child. My oldest loves morning cartoons and a nice cold cup of chocolate milk. So as soon as I wake him I have his tablet or the tv on to get him excited to start his day off with something he enjoys. 
I wake him up early enough so he can enjoy some down time before a long day of school. He watches his show and eats breakfast until it's time to get dressed and out the door. 

Once we are out the door I remind him depending on the day of the week of what special classes or trips he is going on. I tell him he is going to have an amazing day with all of his friends and that he is going to do great ! I have found that if you start off your morning giving them affirmations it's preparing them to enter the day positive and proud. I love reminding him about all the great things he has already accomplished and how proud I am of him. I mean come on who doesn't love to be complimented all the time and told of their achievements?! His sweet little smile shows me his gratitude towards the reminders.

As a mother now I wish I had learned to be a morning person earlier in my life and found the beauty of it ; as I do now. It's a new beginning every morning; a fresh start to enjoy life and spread your light onto others. Let your child be that light too; and in hopes that they will take it with them into adult hood. 

We don't have picture perfect mornings every day. We do have mornings which are tougher than others but I'd say they are very rare. This is what has worked for us 95% of the time and I only hope this can help another mommy turn morning battles into morning motivation. 

I love being able to contribute to my child's attitude on life. Seeing him in a positive mind state calms me and also reassures me that I helped him stay on the path to success for the day ahead of him. 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

I don't have to do everything for my child.

I was that mom. The mom that would undress her four year old for bath time. The mom that never let their child turn on the sink by themselves. The mom that cleared the table for everyone when dinner was over. I did it all, and gave them pretty much nothing to do but make a mess. I honestly just thought that was part of my job as their mother. I also thought they might be too little to understand the concept of picking up after themselves. Then after some time it just became part of my ordinary routine, that I did without even noticing. I became accustomed to rushing back and forth cleaning up after each child, and they just became more dependent on me - even when they knew they didn't necessarily need me for it. Like come on, his little legs can work just as good - or even better than my old worn out legs - so why am I running to get him a pencil for his homework? It was as if I robbed them of their independence. I was showing them that they didn't have to be self sufficient in any way, because momma was going to do it all for them. Without realizing it I was underestimating them.

Breaking that bad habit was tough on the both of us. It was so instilled into my oldest that we would come in from school, and he would just stand their with his coat still on, just waiting for me to come unzip it. When he and I both knew he was fully capable of doing it on his own. Getting him to do things on his own was like pushing him out of his comfort zone. He had that I cant do it mentality for quite some time because of all the years that I would rush to his every call and need, instead of letting him figure it out first. I realized this a whole lot more when my youngest was learning things a lot more faster than when my oldest was his age. I realized though that it was the lack of confidence I instilled in him from the beginning. I kept him from doing things on his own, not because I didn't believe in him, but because I felt it was what I had to do as his mother. But that only left him to assume that he was not capable of doing much alone. I started to give him more task that involved no help from me, to build up his confidence, and after some time he stopped being scared of doing things on his own. I had to constantly remind myself to not do certain things, but instead remind him, and reassure him that he was more than ready and competent to do so.

After some time of doing this it has become a full new routine for us, that my youngest has been inspired by early in age. I no longer take off their shoes or coats when we enter the home. I do not turn on the sink for them to wash their hands. I do not rush to the bathroom when I hear them go. I have also started giving them different chores to do around the house so they feel accomplished, and like they have a part in this home. I give them tasks that I know they are still not fully capable of doing just yet ; knowing that it will be more work for me at the end - but I know for them it will be a teachable moment. And the more they does it the easier it will get, and their confidence will rise. My oldest already knows that when he finishes his dinner he has to clean off his plate in the trash, and then "clean" his plate and utensils in the sink. Of course as any five year old he will barely clean his things. But I give him praise for trying, and then when he isn't looking I clean it once again. But if only you could see how his face lights up when he is able to do something all on his own! The "I cant do it" attitude is so far gone now, and every single thing they do they want to try doing it themselves first - before asking for help. It has definitely helped them become more free spirited, determined children.I have watched my five year old go from being scared of everything in sight, to a brave and gutsy child. My youngest had no other choice than to be a fearless dare devil as it was mostly all he was taught to be. Though he does take it to a whole other level. ( It's always the second child though, right! )

I no longer doubt their potential. I guess what I am trying to say is that sometimes when we think we are doing our child a favor ; we are actually holding them back from living up to their abilities.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Your opinion does not matter to me.


I can care less about your opinion of me as a mother, let me tell you why...

Before I had kids I had this vision of what kind of mom I would be. They would eat only fruits and veggies; breast fed until two years old ; off the baby bottles by 9 months old ; no pacifiers ever. I said I would never give into a tantrum... public tantrums would never happen ! I would always be prepared, no matter what. The TV would never be used as a distraction to get stuff done around the house. I was going to be perfect. And I am pretty sure that is the kind of parent you think you are going to be in the future too. I thought I was going to be a different parent in many ways. But you learn from what you live through ; not from what you think you know. Because guess what ? Life happens, and you have absolutely no control over it. 

I can't tell you how many times I have heard the saying "when I have kids I will or I won't" yeah ... been there, done that. I have had to eat my words many times. You don't know what it is like to have kids until you have kids of your own. You helped raise your sibling/ nephews or nieces ?! Great ; you are still a child less person who has no idea what kind of parent you will really be. As a person who has been working in childcare for 10+ years I thought I had it all figured out. I was going to be a pro. Negative. When it is your very own 24:7 - always on call child things seem to happen differently than you had invisioned.

Not speaking for the moms who can care less about their child ; the ones that send the kids to grandmas every weekend to get wasted. Or the mothers who treat their children terribly. To the mothers who wake up every morning to get their child to school on time ; with their homework that you check every night. Making sure their lunch is packed ; you come home from a long day of work & make believe you aren't tired and create art projects with them ; play board games; read books - all while making dinner ; and making sure bath time happens. If that doesn't sound like a mom that's not good enough to you ; then good luck being a mom with higher expectations.

In no way am I trying to offend people without children. To each is own. I don't care that you don't want children , I just don't think you have any right telling me how to raise mine. I don't care if you have a masters in child psychology- you have no kids; you have no right. I consider myself pretty feminist and agree when people say that a man has no right to tell a women what to do with their body because they don't own the same equipment we do right? Well parenting to me is the same ... if you have no children you have no right to tell me what I am doing "wrong" or what I am not doing "enough" of. Everyone will always have an opinion. Regardless not everyone will be happy with your decisions. But your child; your decisions. I have had to make many tough decisions that not everyone agreed with, but at the end of the day I base my decisions on my child's well being. As their mom I know them best. At the end of the day I get top notch 100% ratings from the most important people : my kids.

Trust me .. I still strive for perfection. But you can't be perfect. You can be enough. I am enough. Being a mother is what I do best and no one can possibly change my mind about that.