Posted in DIY, Family, health, Mental Health, Opinion, parenting, teen, toddlers, Uncategorized

Safety zone: Child’s bedroom

There’s a lot out there on moms and dads having “me time”. It’s super important, I’m not denying that. I am however advocating the kids need “me time” too. Time to reconnect, time to calm, time to be bored. The best place for that is outside, and if you’re lucky enough to have a space outside for your kid to play alone than use it! However, second best is their bedroom.

Their bedroom should be their safe zone. They should want to be in there. Don’t force your decorating aesthetic on them. I want my whole house in Harry Potter decor but it’s just not going to happen because my kids haven’t even seen a whole movie yet (I know, it’s on my list).

My daughter decided she wanted a flamingo bedroom when I told her she couldn’t share a room with her brother anymore. It was kind of a sad day but after she started picking out some things for us to use she pepped up pretty fast.

Perks:

  1. More likely to stay in there during the night and during bedtime: if you have had issues with this you know how big of a deal that is.
  2. Has a place to go when needs to cool off: again if you have had issues with this you know how important this is too. We have a small house so it’s crucial my kids feel comfortable in their bedrooms to diffuse.
  3. Gives them a place to play quietly when quiet time is needed: if you have more than one child, or one but you do work from home or something else that requires quiet, having a safe zone room is crucial. Before we made over my daughter’s room getting her brother to nap was super hard. She would want to be out in the living room with us or playing in his room. Now, she has a craft/reading area in her bedroom that she will play with until he’s asleep and we can play together.
  4. Gives them a safe place: kind of goes with the cool off one, but also for other intense feelings. Sometimes kids just need to cry or scream or vent. Sometimes they need to do that alone before you try to intervene and make them talk through it.

But how?

Well for one, ask them what they want. There’s almost no theme or idea that you can’t tweak to make you both happy. Unless, of course, it’s Dora (again yes). Also, we did not have a “moving to a new bedroom and need decor” budget in our savings. So, we took things we already had and made it work for the room. I think total I spent about $45 bucks on paint, new sheets, and one stuffed flamingo (optional).

We painted the hutch that a friend was getting rid of, the mirror from Walmart, and the green shelves that were currently in her brother’s room but had nothing on them. I put the dresser in her brother’s room that now had more space with her bed gone and moved the bookcase into her room since she is the one who is using the books more.

The princess netting was over her bed in her brother’s room but we decided to use it over her reading area to give it more of a separation. Additions have been a lava lamp for calming down at night and an oil diffuser.

 

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Posted in Family, health, Mother's Day, Opinion, parenting, Social Change, teaching, toddlers, Uncategorized

World War Mommy

I know it’s probably been written about way too much in the past few years; however, it’s still amazing to me how much mom-shaming goes on via social media and other outlets. Yes, you should always be caring, nurturing, attentive, and loving (I would think that’s obvious) to your children. If they are being taken care of then it’s really no one else’s business on how/when/where/why.

I read an article the other day that finally made me want to write something on mom-shaming. Fed is Best Foundation has an article on their website by Mandy, who explains how she was basically starving her newborn. Her story is one that I know I can relate to and I’m sure plenty of other women out there can too. I think a lot of the hindrance to formula feed was due to the mom shaming that goes along with it. To think that poor baby could have suffered even worse that he did just from that is pretty heartbreaking.

So, here’s my list of topics that cause mom-shaming, mommy wars, mom blogging, judging, watching, look at the baby, look at the baby, and why they’re stupid to fight about. Ready to fight and go:

Breastfeeding

I guess we’ll just start there since that’s the kickoff idea I had to this article. When you’re asked about breastfeeding, if the “f” word starts to escape your lips, you may get that horrified face from some mothers that looks something like this:Image result for shocked face gif

You might as well tell them you are going to try and see how much arsenic a baby can handle.

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Breast is best. Yes, I agree. However, it’s not the only option. Some moms have a surplus supply. Some moms don’t. Some moms stay home and have time to pump and feed at will. Some moms don’t. Some moms feel the love and bonding that is supposed to come from breastfeeding. Some moms just plain don’t. Does that make them less of a mother? No. So that argument just needs to go away.

Personally, I think breastfeeding at least for the first few weeks (months if possible) is the best option for the baby. I get that argument. But again, I’m not going to shame a mom who just plain can’t do it. There are medical reasons, there are factors in the household that might make it impossible or too difficult, there are psychological reasons. For a mother who really wants to and can’t, to have to listen to this shaming over and over, I can imagine how heartbreaking that probably is.

On the same note, there’s the argument of how long. A year seems pretty standard. Over a year and some moms will start to make faces and avoid eye contact with you. Some moms go up into toddler years. Again, personally I would not do this but to each his own. I feel like this shouldn’t be a topic of debate.

Natural/Medicated Childbirth

You don’t love your child more because you suffered more. That’s my opinion on it. If you are doing it for self preservation reasons than fine. Stop shamming moms who used meds to keep their own sanity. Not to mention, a 12 hour birth is not the same as a 3 day one, so keep that in mind too.

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Epidurals are safe. Say it with me- epidurals are safe. It’s okay to request them. The most common side effects are fevers or spinal headaches for the mother. If you want a natural birth that’s beautiful. More power to you. Just keep that shaming thing to yourself.

Helicopter Parenting

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Are kids more spoiled now than they used to be? I think so. I also think that a lot of “bad” kids from decades past probably weren’t all bad. Emotional needs, mental disabilities, learning disabilities; these weren’t really considered problems until recently. So, in those regards some kids need to be helicoptered. In others, parents need to chill the hell out. Little Susie is going to fall and little Johnny is going to get sick from eating too much dirt. It just needs to happen for them to be normal kids.

Crying It Out

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Babies cry. Sometimes it’s your fault. Sometimes they need to learn things and then that in turn leads to more crying. Personally, I struggle with it to a point just because it’s hard to listen to. I don’t really blame moms who do it though if there’s an end goal in mind.

A lot of the older (early 1900s) parenting advice and mothering columns suggested basically training your six month old to sit quietly in the crib and that “the mother should stop (holding it) immediately if her arms feel tired”. Because you know, that’s just inconvenient and you got stuff to do.

Many argue that using the cry it out method causes psychological damage. I don’t think enough research has been done to prove this theory but I can definitely see where it stems from. Using a more supportive approach first I think is best for everyone involved and then if you don’t get any results, you are kind of on your own as far as what to do. The problem with the cry it out method is when does it get borderline neglectful? fifteen minutes? twenty minutes? a half hour? That sort of hazy distinction makes this argument a tough one. I never did it over the ten minute marker for my own sanity as well as the kids.

VACCINATIONS!

Holy moley vaccinations.

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Remember that kid in your class that died of Polio? No? Oh that’s right because it’s gone thanks to science, research, and oh yeah, vaccinations.

I think the amount of testing and amount of vaccinations offered are a bit much, I will agree with that. But some of the more severe ones that are offered, I take it. You bet. Again though, mom shaming over vaccinations shouldn’t be an issue. You either believe that vaccinations could cause autism, or you don’t. You’re either worried your child will have an adverse reaction to them, or you’re not. Shaming the other side of a delicate issue like this is not going to solve anything. More studies are being done on the links between vaccinations and autism, and I imagine, they will continue for quite awhile. However, from what I know about them, most vaccines have little to no side effects.

Working Moms

This is the mom shaming I take the most personally. I work. Full time. 40+ hours a week. I love my job (usually) and I love my side job even more (writing). I was lucky enough to stay home majority of the time with our daughter when she was born and only work part-time. The next time around I wasn’t so lucky. My husband is the one who works part-time and stays home with our son. Do I get jealous? Yes, of course I do. I want to be home with my baby, I’m not a monster. However, I have a good job. I make enough money that my husband can stay home, which wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

Having to work, or even choosing to work, does not make you a bad mom. So stop it. On the flip side, working moms are now striking back with little quips about “having two jobs” because of working all day and being a mom all night. Yes they’re both hard, please stop bitching about it.

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To me, the real shame is the lack of help for working moms. I know there’s resources for parents; WIC, parenting classes that are free, Medicaid if you’re eligible. But more employers should offer some sort of childcare help. I don’t even necessarily mean in an economical sense either. Some places like state hospitals, colleges, and other businesses will have on site daycare for their employees. I feel if more places offered this, or at least had umbrella type of daycare establishments, it would help ease the struggle of working moms.

Co-Sleeping

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Every parent ever has had a Chris Farley night. Sometimes, it’s just easier to pop that kid or baby in your bed and tell them to “shhh” so you can both nod out for a few hours. Some parents prefer to do this every night because of the bonding. Some won’t let their children sleep in there bed no matter the circumstance.

NO RIGHT ANSWER

I know I’m a broken record now, but that’s the whole point of this post. It’s a personal choice. Yes, there are some dangers listed for parents who co-sleep, there are also dangers for children sleeping alone. Not to mention lack of sleep building after several nights of battle your child to sleep in their crib or bed.

In many parts of the world, co-sleeping is the norm. I’ve read that some doctors argue for co-sleeping because it helps promote breast feeding. Other doctors say you could squish your baby. One argument is though, once your baby is older (past the first three or four months anyway) if they are still in your room but not in your bed is that co-sleeping? Yes it is, it’s not bed-sharing. Now, there are plenty of things available if you want to make bed-sharing a little safer. The one thing I think most professionals will veto is couch sharing.

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Many claim that they can’t sleep when they are away from their babies. Kind of the reverse of the what you normally think of for reasoning behind it. But that makes sense if you think about it. I have to get up at least 3-4 times a night for my kids and they’re both over 1. If they’re right next to you it’s so much easier. Does co-sleeping create bad sleeping habits? Maybe…I don’t know if there is enough research out there for it but I think I would argue yes it probably does. However, when you’re sleep deprived, it’s hard to care.

So what’s the point? I think I’ve said it…stop it.

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Posted in Education, Family, health, Mental Health, Opinion, parenting, Social Change, teaching, teen, toddlers, Uncategorized

They’re after me Lucky Charms!

There are three things that I am very passionate about. Three things, that if I were asked five years ago would I care about them, I would have probably answered with “eh not so much”. Simple living used to mean being boring, education used to mean finishing college- didn’t really care about the general education system, and nutrition meant making sure I ate something in between my three daily energy drinks.

Now these things mean so much more to me.

I would like to start with a nutrition post. I know I’ve already lost some of you, but I promise I have good reason!Image result for nutrition meme

Growing up, I knew what healthy was. I still know what healthy food is. Everyone knows what healthy food is. But do you know just how unhealthy the unhealthy food is? And do you know how unhealthy some of the healthy food is? And do you know why we don’t know these things? How are we all not dead yet?

Well, it sounds like we’re speeding up to it. I heard a quote recently that I cannot for the life of me remember where I heard it, but in short it said; our generation of children growing up now, will be the first to not live as long as their parents. THAT’S TERRIFYING.

There are plenty of areas to pick on: fast food, sodas, processed foods, etc, etc. But what I accurate breakfast cereal cocoa puffs box changedam going to focus on is a food that hurt me. It hurt me deep.

I grew up on bags of off-brand sugary cereals. We also had the “healthy” cereals like Cheerios, Corn Flakes, etc, but those usually got topped with a spoon full of sugar. All of these were mixed with skim milk, so you know, totally healthy breakfast.
accurate breakfast cereal froot loops box unchanged

This probably sounds pretty normal to most of us. Without these sugary cereals I probably wouldn’t have made it through college. Most poor college kids ate Ramen noodles, I ate Captain Crunch. My pregnancies were both a blur of doctors appointments, insomnia, getting fat and swollen, and Fruit Loops. Then I discovered Fruit Loops with marshmallows; forget about it! I could go days just eating that.

*Before I start savagely ripping into cereal companies I want to say that I am only picking on them so hard because I felt the most duped. Yes sugar is blatant but the rest…eh…

Cereal companies are some of the biggest villains in the advertising world. Cartoon characters are featured on almost every cereal that is catered to young children. Why? Because kids like cartoons. They also are easily swayed with brand recognition (hello Disney). Those brightly colored familiar faces are all placed strategically towards the lower shelves where little eyes can see them better. Cereal companies also are great with flowery words that hide some of their horrible ingredients. A few years ago (2013), Kellogs had to pay a few million because they were advertising that Frosted Mini-Wheats helped children focus and do better in school. Obviously that’s an unfounded claim but I bet it was totally believable when you saw it on tv. Kellogs also got busted for claiming that Rise Crispies were beneficial to your health. Eh, not so much.

As I have posted about before, my daughter has had emotional problems pretty much since birth, if that’s possible. I have an autoimmune disease that is steadily getting worse it seems like with no plausible cause or cure other than medications that I refuse to take. Both of us seem worse off when we have cereal in the morning. Is that science? Not really, but it did make want to do some research.

Youtube brought me to a gentleman who introduced a chemical to me that I had never heard of. Trisodium Phosphate.

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I checked my own box at home, and sure enough this isn’t propaganda. It was right there in front of me.

“As the cereal maker noted repeatedly, “TSP itself is safe and the amount of TSP in cereals is tiny. It’s a water-soluble salt that helps adjust acidity.”” This was taken from an article defending General Mills. I understand that as a counter argument but I just can’t shake the feeling that I shouldn’t be eating a chemical cleaner. Now, it has been compared to baking soda, which can also be used as a chemical cleaner but is found in many baked goods. Possibly the same? I don’t know, I’m not comfortable with it because I don’t know. And I feel like most people weren’t aware of this either.

They are supposedly removing artificial coloring from their cereals slowly but surely so there’s that. As of now though, a lot of cereals still have these artificial coloring in them. Let’s look at those shall we?

They are known as the Southampton Six by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (which have been pushing for the removal of these dyes). The Southampton Six include: Red 40, Ponceau 4R, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Quinoline Yellow, and Carmoisine.

Red 40: comes from petroleum distillates or coal tars. Mmmm yummy. Red 40 can cause allergic reactions in “some people”. No big whoop, a lot of things do. They can also cause hyperactivity in children especially if they have ADHD or ADD. *Collar pull* eh okay, I mean so can sugar and stuff so go on…it also contains “p-Credsidine, which the U.S. Department of health and Human Services says is “reasonably anticipated” to be a human carcinogen.” Ah…well…shit.Image result for red 40 coal tars

On studies done on poor little lab mice, Red 40 caused immune system tumors, lower reproduction success, decreased brain weight, and lowered the chances for their offspring to even survive. The argument is, as usual, it’s okay in small doses. The problem is, on FDA labels there is no guidelines that makes companies list how much Red 40 is in their products. Ergo, you have no idea how much you are eating. I think just skipping it entirely would be your best bet. Red 40 can also be called Allura Red, Allura Red AC, and Red No. 40. The other problem is some foods that are not red or orange still contain Red 40. Pickles, dressings, BBQ sauce, and some cheese may have it in there.

Yellow #5 or Tartrazine: I remember in high school hearing that guys that drank Mountain Dew had lower sperm counts.

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Apparently, this view was widespread enough that the Wall Street Journal ran an article about it and Dear Abby advised her readers to not use Mountain Dew as birth control. The culprit is tartrazine. Again, tartrazine has been linked to hyperactivity in children. In 2010, the FDA actually released a memo that stated “for certain susceptible children with ADHD and other problem behaviors, the data suggest that their condition may be exacerbated by exposure to a number of substances in food, including but not limited to, artificial food colors”. Of course this is only going to effect a small number of consumers who have ADHD, ADD, or other mental disorders. There have also been studies done on allergic reactions to Yellow 5, particularly with children on medications, and their inability to fully get beneficial treatments because of it. Yellow 5 is already banned in some European countries.

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But what about the sperm issue? Apparently there was a study done in 2009 in Algeria and another done in 2010 in India that showed reduced sperm count in mice when they were given tartrazine. Just slightly, mind you, so I wouldn’t bank on that for safety.

Blue, dabbodedahboodah: Blue No.1 & Blue No. 2: “Brilliant blue” was originally made from coal tar like red, but now a lot of places are able to make it from an oil base. “Indigotine” is a textile dye. Again, these are both relatively safe when ingested in small amounts but have been linked to hyperactivity. Blue dyes have a unique set of worries because their dangers have been linked more to skin absorption and entering the bloodstream via tongues. A study using pigs and the blue dye showed the dye did indeed enter the bloodstream. This was worrisome because “several studies show that these dyes might inhibit cell respiration”.

In addition to dyes there is the ever present argument of sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. Sugar is obviously one of the main ingredients in most children breakfast cereals. There is a laundry list of problems associated with excess sugar consumption: liver damage, diabetes, hyperactivity, obesity, metabolic dysfunction, even things like depression can worsen with too much sugar. It has been proven that sugar is as addictive, or more so, than cocaine. Again, the problem with sugar being on the ingredients list is you are given the grams. So, let’s say Golden Grahams has 14 grams of sugar per serving which is probably a cup, or half a cup. What does that mean to you? Probably not much. Food companies are not required to put a percentage next to sugar to show how much you should consume in a day like they do other ingredients. Like so:

Image result for food labels no sugar percentageImage result for food labels no sugar percentage

I do believe that there are motions to put another label under sugar that says “added sugar”. Again though, it will only give you grams, no percentages. It would seem that if they can give you percentages for fat and sodium, they should for sugar too right?

So what am I saying? Do you have to cook a homemade breakfast every morning or risk feeding your kids and yourself poison? No, that would be ridiculous. My daughter loves Lucky Charms. Loves them. Like if a box of Lucky Charms and I were hanging off a cliff and she could only save one I would be worried about my chances for living. However, I will definitely create a better diet that will restrict Lucky Charms, and all the other unhealthy cereals, to very limited consumption. Everything in moderation. So what do you do the rest of the mornings? Here are some things to limit and/or stay away from if you can manage it, and a list of better options:

 

The Good

Puffins cereal

Cascadian Farms

Kix

Kashi

Oatmeal

The Bad

Lucky Charms- the first ingredient listed is whole grains…that’s about where anything nutritious stops. The following ingredient is marshmallows or sugar. However, there is about 3 grams of fiber but there are also color additives. So, it’s a battle for this one but on rare occasions I think I will still allow Lucky Charms in my cabinet.

Frosted Flakes- Anything that says “frosted” you should probably not consume in high doses. Frosted Flakes is fat free and all that jazz but high is sugar and carbs. I don’t think any dyes to speak of though, so an occasional bowl is probably okay.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch- Surprisingly, this cereal has a little less sugar than it’s siblings. I think maybe the cinnamon flavoring helps? I don’t know but they are made from whole grain with only 28% of it’s calories being from sugar so that’s better than some. Still very high in carbs.

Corn Pops- A little less sugar, a little more fiber, but does contain hydrogenated oils. So not an everyday cereal by any means.

The Ugly

Honey Smacks- Used to be called Sugar Smacks but they wanted to sound a little more healthy. They have one of the highest sugar levels of all the breakfast cereals available. No fiber to speak of and an additive that actually makes you overeat makes this one Image result for crying facecereal I will probably not buy again. And this was one of my favorites.

Apple Jacks/Fruit Loops- Huge amounts of sugar, like no fiber, and tons of color additives. Pass.

Crunch Berries- I love the captain, I really do. And apparently most people that make eye contact with him do too (28% of consumers who made eye contact with the Captain bought Captain Crunch). However, I will have to exclude Crunch Berries from my occasional splurge because of the sugar, and the dyes.

Cocoa Puffs- I’ve never been cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs but even the few times I may crave these sweet chocolate cereals I will have to pass. The second ingredient listed is sugar with no healthy ingredients to combat the amount of sugar per serving.

Reeses Puffs- Although not as high in sugar content as some of the others on my ugly list it is high in color additives.

Posted in Family, health, Opinion, parenting, Uncategorized

How life changes per kid…

I received an email asking to do an article on family life in regards to number of kids within that family. Kind of like a 0,1,2,3 thing. I thought it could be kind of interesting to dig into.

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0

For some, the idea of having babies is something that they have dreamed about since they were still in diapers. They lugged their dolls around the house, carrying them by their feet, from one room to the next; getting them dressed, feeding them, putting them to bed, the whole nine yards.

For others, not so much. Not everyone wants kids. An article in The Guardian claimed that “Once pregnancy is over, you’ve got a small human that you’re responsible for 24/7, for nearly 2 decades. Many are overjoyed by this prospect, which is great, but that doesn’t mean everyone is.” This was a follow up to the argument that women who do not want children are somewhat shunned because we’re inherently supposed to want to procreate. I agree with the author Dean Burnett on that point. Then of course there are those who simply cannot have children. Because of this, please do not question young women about why they don’t have children. It makes me cringe when I hear it, and yes I hear it.

 

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1

One, is the loneliest number…

People with one kid get the best of both worlds and the worst, all at the same time. I think there is still a stigma that once you have one you’re supposed to want more.

Speaking as an only child, there are perks and there are downsides. I had my own room, but I was scared of the dark. I had my own clothes and toys, but I did have to play alone a lot. Luckily, I had a lot of cousins nearby to play with and lived in a community where friends were in walking distance, so that helped some.

No need to get a new car, even your sexy two door can probably hold at least one car seat. No need to worry about bath time, with only one kid, only one bath, no shared water/toys/wash clothes.

Traveling with 1 kid is a whole different ball game than having multiples. Traveling with any amount of kids can be stressful but when you only have the one to pack for, look for, prepare for, and pay for, it’s much easier.

Nap time is actually quiet time. There’s no other noise going on once your one little angel goes down for a nap. Same thing when they are old enough for school, or sleepovers, or summer camps, whatever; when that one child is quiet, the whole house is quiet.

Make sure you have a strong marriage/partnership before having this baby. 1 may lead to others, but not if you can’t make it past 1. That sounds a bit harsh probably but the stress of an added person (not to mention an extremely needy, cranky, always loud person) is something that even good marriages will suffer from.

“Only children are supposed to be spoiled, selfish and lonely. In fact they’re just fine — and on the rise, as more parents choose against having multiple children”

The quote above is from a TIME Magazine article published back in 2010. After the big recession in 2008, people had to stop and think more economically about having kids. It wasn’t just that kids costs more per say, people were making less, and many still are.

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2

Two children, two parents= seems like an easy way to live. Eh…easy isn’t the word I would choose in that scenario but we’ll go with it. 2.5 is the average amount of children that American families are having now. Going from 1 to 2 is much easier than going from 0 to 1. So there’s that at least.

Time is divided now. It’s not just you and your spouse time, then you and your one and only child time. It’s you, your spouse, child #1, and child #2. They will both have separate needs, wants, and ways of communicating with you. Depending on how far apart in age they are, your first might just be talking when you realize the second is on their way. You may just be getting the glorious feeling of more than 4 hours of sleep when you’re suddenly up again every hour peeing in the night. And pregnant while chasing around a toddler? Not the same as the first time, by any means.

What about twins? Yes there’s two of them, but does that count? It’s one pregnancy, one birth. No age gap. Yes they count as 2, I’m just adding to the arguments I’ve already seen and I think it’s a silly one.

There are general concerns for a lot of mothers though that go from 1 to 2. Will I love them the same? How can I ever love anyone as much as my first? How can I even begin to explain to my first that there’s another baby? What if he/she isn’t happy about it?

I will say, I had some of these pretty common concerns myself. They are not founded in any real life. You won’t love them the same, that’s impossible. You will love them equally but in different ways. It’s hard describe but once you have a second child, everything is different. You also get a newfound love for your first watching them grow into a big brother/sister. It is something magical to watch.

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3

If you Google, number of children you should have, two of the first options that arise are “Why three is the magic number of children for happiness” followed by “why three makes for the most unhappy families”. So, I think there’s some debate on this one?

To quote another article “Why three really is the magic number”:

 “A third child feels like an indulgence; ‘more than the world needs’.”

Ouch.

Irregardless if it’s indulgent or not, the idea that going from 2 to 3 is a hard one to make. Harder, I think than going from 1 to 2. Once you get past 2 kids the car situation gets harder, going to the store becomes even more challenging, and dividing up your time among each kid takes on whole new struggles.

One mom commented to me that going from 2 to 3 took much more time managment than she had expected. “I didn’t think it was going to be so time consuming getting out the door.” For those with 2 thinking, ugh I already struggle with that now, might be something to consider.

This isn’t uncommon either, a survey of over 7,000 moms (which has been quoted in a few different articles) claimed that mothers of 3 children were the most stressed. More than 1, 2, 4, or even 5. Why? Something about the unevenness of 3 children? The going from a kid in each hand to one kid having to be the third wheel? Maybe…

One plus to the third is allowing the baby of the family now to become a big brother/sister (yes I understand this can’t just keep going until there’s an endless chain of babies). Let’s be honest, when you have 2 kids the younger one is babied. By you, and your older child. This will happen to the third one as well but at least it might help toughen up that 2 one a little. Then there’s the dreaded “middle child” syndrome. My own mother will attest that this a real life phenomenon but is it enough to detour you?

A family of 5 is something to be desired however, for those who don’t want a “big” family, but want larger than average family. The chaos that is life as a family of 5 is appealing for many reasons. The holidays, family dinners, the siblings have more options for playmates. Hopefully they’ll like at least one of them.

3 is also the stepping stone to 4, which it seems some women think that is the best number.

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4

Wait, who’s crying? Is it the baby? No not that baby, the baby-baby. The littlest one? No, she’s sleeping, somehow. Is it the toddler? The older two fighting? What is all the noise and where is it coming from!

A quote that stuck out to me from an article in The Express “Three is the “storm” before the “calm” of four. These kind of statistics made me wary of having a third child, resulting in an age gap of seven and nine years between my third and her older brothers.”

After 3, I mean hell, what’s one more right? You have all the stuff you need, you SHOULD have at least both genders at this point (if not, I do know some, I pray for you). Having 4 children also makes you lighten up some. “Every busy home will have many moments of stress when plans for apart, homework gets lost (or stolen… yes, would you believe there are “strangers” who love to steal math homework?!) and everything descends into chaos. Adding a big dollop of humor to such occasions can diffuse tension like a magic wand and make all the difference in the world, particularly on those days when the kids want to strangle each other, or you want to strangle them.”

I like this quote from a blog called Mom.me “Four is easier because the kids can pair off. Especially when you have two of each. With three there is one left out. Also when it was three the baby got treated more like a baby for some reason.”

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More than 4!!

So you want more than 4 children…Do you not like things? Do you not enjoy sleep? Do you never want to be alone, ever in your entire life?

No? Oh, well then by all means have more than 4 kids. I’m being extreme obviously, but people on the outside look at families with 5, 6, 7 plus kids and think, “why?”

Well there’s a lot of good reasons. For one, your children always have someone to talk to, even if you aren’t available. Siblings in large families tend to be closer. You would think it would be the opposite but having to share everything with each other does tend to make you closer whether you like it or not. “It also keeps you from spoiling your children. Certainly there are children from small families who are not spoiled, but spoiling children in large families is nearly impossible. I simply can’t (and won’t) buy identical high-end expensive toys and gadgets for my kids.”

The idea of boredom in a house with 5 or more kids is probably not one that comes around often. It’s easy to see why an only child may struggle with trying to entertain themselves, but 1 of 5 can probably find something to get into with one of their siblings. Not to mention there’s always chores to do! And let’s be honest, with 5 kids all pitching in, even though they make a mess, they should be able to clean it up. There is also little helpers when it comes to taking care of the younger siblings. Most large families require the older siblings to step up and help their parents out. Good life building skills.

How do you get anywhere? Well, I guess that depends on who is coming. RV? Two mini vans? Another downside that was brought to my attention is the complete lack of privacy. Yes you have the safety of numbers but you also have a hard time finding a quiet place to be alone.

I’ve also seen mentioned in quite a few different articles about having a large family is that the parents are less prone to end up in a nursing home. At least they hope so.

But how can you afford it? Um hand-me-downs. Your kids may end up wearing things a little too big or a little small but that’s the way it goes with large families.

 

Posted in Family, health, Mental Health, parenting, teen, toddlers, Uncategorized

Other than hyper…

When you think of a kid with ADHD or ADD, you may picture a small child swinging from a ceiling fan while making loud monkey sounds. Or maybe they’re on top of the kitchen counter trying to jump rope. They are, more or less, always hyper to the untrained eye.

Image result for child with adhdHowever, having a hyper child doesn’t mean that they have ADHD. Most children, at least a majority of them, have a resource of energy that adults just don’t understand. The phrase “he/she’s been running all day, how is she not tired” could be for any toddler or adolescent.

On the reverse side, not all kids who have ADHD/ADD act out in a hyper manner. Some are very often caught daydreaming or “in the zone” when doing something. Since children with ADHD get distracted very easily, some sufferers need to completely tune into one thing they are doing. If anything else is going on they will lose focus and not be able to complete task. They may not appear hyper but they are struggling nonetheless.

The difference really comes down to, is it negatively affecting your child’s life? A lot of times ADHD/ADD can’t be identified until they are in Kindergarten or older because their limitations of concentration haven’t really been tested. From what I have seen in work and at home, there seems to be three categories that ADHD/ADD symptoms are lumped into most often: Inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness.

Inattention:

  • Difficulty organizing
  • Cannot remember directions and has trouble with completing tasks
  • Seems to not be listening when being spoken to
  • Constantly losing things or putting them where they don’t belong
  • Difficulty concentrating on schoolwork or activity for the amount of time it would take to complete it

Hyperactivity

  • Can’t sit still; fidgets or constantly moves feet when sitting
  • Gets in and out of chair when sitting at table or desk
  • Talks excessively and usually loudly
  • Difficulty playing quietly

Impulsiveness

  • Interrupts, even when you are answering something they asked you
  • Struggles to control physical movements
  • Blurts out answers (if in classroom)

I think it’s important to note (since this is how I realized we may have a problem on our hands) that ADHD/ADD is linked with behavior issues. It’s easy to understand why, once you start to think about how a child with ADHD has to process the world around them. Frustration, anger, fear, anxiety, and low self esteem are all very real feelings for kids suffering through this. Parents may be exhausted and beat down but even when your child is screaming they hate you, they are probably going through more emotional turmoil than you are.

Some other symptoms that are not mentioned as much but still may be a red flag are:

  • Aggressiveness
  • Bold and no fear (meaning they will talk to strangers, climb on anything and not care about the idea of getting hurt)
  • Unable to hop on one foot (up to age 4)
  • Complete loss of control (for parents who experience this, it’s like a tantrum on steroids)

 

I am putting this information out there for parents who may be on the fence about whether or not their child has ADHD/ADD. There is a lot of literature available about how ADHD/ADD does not exist. That it is a made-up disease for pharmaceutical companies and to label overactive children as a way to explain their actions and behaviors. In the past three years, I have learned very clearly that is inaccurate. While medicating a child is a separate topic completely, I think we need to realize that mental illness is completely, 100% real, and that it does affect people of all ages, even children. Until that stigma is gone I feel a lot of children who need help won’t get it.

On the same note, I have said it before, I do think it’s also over-diagnosed as well. Do yourself a favor, if you think your child has a problem, go to a doctor. Not your pediatrician, but a counselor of some kind. They will be able to tell you after a few sessions and talks with you whether your child is just very energetic or if there’s something else going on. There are many natural remedies to some of the behaviors you may be experiencing and with just a little tweaking here and there you may see a huge difference in your child at home and at school.

 

Posted in Family, health, Mental Health, toddlers

Difficult Behaviors & Discipline- Toddler edition

Image result for difficult toddler

Some toddlers are just a little more difficult than others. Spirited, strong willed, imaginative, energetic; all those nice flowery phrases that people without difficult toddlers like to throw at you, can sometimes make you want to pull your hair out. Or theirs. Don’t do that, it hurts. And you’ll look a sight with patches of hair missing. I was already writing this post when my article about anger was published last week. Seems to me we have a pattern…

I will say I have seen some definite improvements in my own daughter (finally!) after trying multiple things I’ve seen online, in books, and even discussed with a doctor. Some parents now argue discipline is actually detrimental to children and shouldn’t be done at all. I think that’s a wee bit on the ridiculous side. Rules are a part of life and kids must learn to adhere to them, end of story. But there’s so many resources out there now, not to mention the countless pieces of unsolicited information you get from your own parents, in-laws, friends, siblings, your weird neighbor with an affinity for flowered hats. Here are some things that worked for me, some things that didn’t, and why.

Yay! These Worked:

 

Remaining calm- Make sure to check yourself first. Make sure you are as calm as you can Image result for check yourself before you wreck yourselfbe while angry. Use a firm voice, at your child’s level, whenever possible. This can be a real struggle during a tantrum storm and a bout of defiance. When you want to scream, when your teeth start to clench, walk away. Go in your room and breath a few times.

Show them how to calm down. Calming yourself is not something you are born knowing how to do. Show them how to take deep breaths. How to relax their shoulders. How to express their thoughts into words once they have caught their breath.

If you have a partner who is helping you with your kids, have a tap out term. We just say “tap out” but whatever works to get the point across that you are getting to that point of no return.

Language- Use “what” instead of “why”. I have learned a lot of the time the “why” isn’t understood by your child. The “what” is much easier to grasp. So for instance, if you are trying to get your child to put on their shoes so you can leave, and they decide instead to throw them across the room, it’s honestly more effective to say “what are you supposed to be doing right now?” than “why did you do just do that?”Image result for kid shrugging shoulders

Also, using the same language is very important. For awhile my husband and I didn’t have the same terms for things. I would say “that’s not how we act like a good girl” and he would say “that’s not following the rules”. To us, we know these mean the same thing. To her it can be a little confusing.

Picking battles- Understand the difference between annoying and aggravating behavior versus unacceptable behavior. Constantly swinging their feet in a seat can be annoying but is it wrong? Interrupting you when you are trying to speak can be extremely annoying but still, is that them intentionally misbehaving? Painting on various surfaces of your home may make you want to cry a little but really, again, not being bad. Just being a kid. If they throw their drink cup at your head while you are driving, that is unacceptable. If they try to see how high they can throw their little sister, that is unacceptable. You see the difference. Pick your battles.Image result for mischievous child makeup

Limit all distractions when something important needs to be said- Again with my daughter possibly having ADHD this is very important in our house but I think is pretty universal if you are not seeing results from your disciplining. ALL kids are easily distracted to a certain degree. Make sure there is quiet, make sure you have eye contact, and if possible get on their level for your message to be made perfectly clear. Keep instructions short and sweet.

Stop idol threats- Coming up with punishments off the top of your head when your child is pushing you over the edge is never a good idea. I think at one point I threatened to give all of my daughters toys to charity including her favorite bunny. I know I would never do that, and she knows I would never do that. Kids are smarter than you think. I would also threaten that she wouldn’t be allowed to go to her grandmother’s in the past. She knew she was going, she did every week. I knew she was going, she did every week. Now, we have a system of repercussions. Snacks go first, than tv, than a toy, than early bedtime. In that order.

Face chart- This seemed so silly to me when I first saw them. And I wasn’t excited about having that picture hanging in my house. However, after trying the sticker chart (see below in the did not work section) I figured why not. For my daughter, visually seeing herself getting into trouble I think really helps. She wants to stay in the yellow (on our chart that’s the good face). When her clothespin moves down she genuinely gets upset about it. Which is a good thing!

 

Boo- These Did Not Work:

Sticker Chart- Since we are on the subject, the sticker chart was not a success for us. I’ve seen different opinions on these and I have to say it did seem like it was helping originally but the excitement of it wore off, fast. The first couple of weeks of seeing the stickers get put up made my daughter pretty happy. But the big old X on the bad days didn’t really have much of an affect on her. She pretty much just stopped caring about it after a few weeks.

Time Outs- This is not to be confused with “calm down time”, which we have plenty of in our house. Calm down time is time for my daughter to go in her room and play with her calm down box. Time out made her go from a 7 to a 20. Having to sit somewhere for over a minute when she didn’t want to was almost torture. Again, ADHD has a lot to do with that and that may not be the case for your child, but we can’t do time outs. Before ending them just the phrase would send her into hysterics. I even tried holding her in time out once or twice but just couldn’t see how it was that beneficial. So now we just start removing luxuries one by one (see above) and that has worked much better.

 Spanking– and the debate continues. I want to be very clear that I have spanked my child. Image result for spankingIn some instances I think it’s called for. In most however, I think it’s really overused. My problem with spanking is parents tend to do it when they are already angry, hot tempered, and out of ideas of what to do at that exact moment. Again, my daughter may have underlying issues but when she did get spanked she took that as a good reason to hit
others. The few times she did get spanked, she got in trouble at daycare the next day for hitting. I don’t think it was a coincidence. So, we removed spanking from our discipline routine. Honestly, we still get the “we had some violence” issues talks from school but not as many. I do not allow it anymore purely for not being able to explain to her when she asked why mommy can hit her but she can’t hit when she’s upset.

When changing something always give it an appropriate amount of time to see whether or not it’s going to be effective. This is something I struggle with since I want to change things all the time and try everything I read but you do really need to allow for adjustment.

Posted in Education, Family, health, Mental Health, Opinion, parenting, Uncategorized

Just sit still!

With summer about half way over, you may be wondering how you can get your child to actually sit and focus this year at school.shutterstock_68372572

Many children struggle with focusing and being able to concentrate on instruction. There has been a huge rise in the diagnoses of ADHD and ADD among children  preschool age to third grade. There are arguments to both sides of this issue. Some believe that the reason the rise in diagnosis has occurred is because more people are becoming aware that these issues exist and help is more readily available. Others believe that children are being too easily diagnosed because more is expected from them academically now than in the past. The age for starting Pre-K can be as low as 2 in some areas.

Either way, ADHD is something hard to target. There’s no physical or neurological testing that will show definitively if a child has some sort of hyperactive issues. Basically, a counselor or therapist (sometimes even your child’s primary care provider) will try to pinpoint certain triggers or activities that your child struggles with. If they struggle in more than one area (ie behaviorally, socially, academically) they may be apt to say there’s a problem.

With the rising demands on children to sit, be still, and focus, sometimes it’s just a matter of helping your child become comfortable with sitting still and being able to calm themselves. I have discovered the amazing world of fidget toys. Things you’ve probably seen a hundred times and never really got their purpose or thought much of them. I’ve seen them work wonders with my own daughter so I thought I would share some ideas.

 

 

Oil timers- these have been amazing with helping us learn how long to sit and also to use for “calm down” time. Watching the colors is soothing and helps distract your child from whatever was getting them amped in the first place. Since the oil doesn’t take more than a few minutes it’s a great toy to teach patience as well.

 

Fidget seat- That’s what we’ve been calling it but there’s a bunch of different names for these blow up cushions. One area we have majorly struggled is eating dinner together at the table. Sometimes sitting at the dining room table tends to take it’s toll so I decided to give one of these a try. They are designed for chairs and desks. So far I can honestly say I have seen some improvement with being able to stay in her chair for the whole meal (usually).

 

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Sensory bottles- look on Pinterest and you can find plenty of ideas on making your own sensory bottles. Or you can now purchase them. Sensory bottles and I Spy bottles basically are more for distracting than for letting the child with their fidget needs, but it does help them sit still.

 

 

 

Water tubes- Again something that helps with fidgeting and to help your child calm down. Something about the feeling of water and watching whatever is inside seems to help children get distracted in the right way.

 

 

Weighted stuffed animal- This is next on my list to try. Weighted blankets and stuffed animals tend to be expensive (the one pictured here seemed reasonable from what I’ve seen) but I’ve read great reviews. The weight and feeling of security that comes from weighted items can help calm an anxious or fidgeting child. If the restlessness seems worse at nap or bedtime then these items may be a great idea for you.

 

Sometimes just simple wood block games, putty, clay, or stress balls can help your child when they start to get restless. If you are having issues with that try sending them to school with a fidget toy for them to keep in their desk. Let the teacher know ahead of time so that they don’t get in trouble for “playing” during class.