Posted in Mental Health, parenting, Uncategorized

It’s Easy to Feel Alone

It’s Easy To Feel Alone 

The HIE Help Center site is a great resource for parents with children who have mental illness or delays. While they specialize in articles about HIE (hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy), the information and coping help can be used for multiple disorders.

I had this article published in June 2018.

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Posted in Family, Mother's Day, parenting, Uncategorized

Tangled: A love/hate story about hair

I knew something was amiss. It was too quiet.

I heard in the sweetest voice “mommy, where do you want me to put my craft scissors?”

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Oh no.

  1. She shouldn’t even have her craft scissors
  2. She never cares or asks where I think she should put anything
  3. If she is asking it’s because she wants me to know she indeed has said scissors
  4. She wants me to know and wants to get caught because that’s a thing now

A little breadcrumb trail of blue and purple hair led from the dining room into the playroom, then up the stairs where she ran to when she heard me get up from the table.

At first that was a relief, she just cut up her doll again, no big deal. It was her troll doll and that makes me sad, but whatever.

But as I got closer to her room I saw the bundles of long blonde strands sporadically sprinkled in.

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Sure enough, her mini bangs that had just started to finally get long enough from the last scissors incident were again mini and spiky. Her hair line now looks like an M.C. Escher painting with snips here and pieces missing there.

Every kid is going to cut their own hair. I had a bowl cut in the second grade because of playing barber shop with my cousin and failing miserably.

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(Note: This is not me, this kid is actually pulling the bowl cut off better than I did)

HOWEVER, this is the ninth or tenth time we have had this conversation. No scissors, no hair, no cutting hair, no cutting your brother’s hair, please for the love of God stop getting sharp objects. Again, this is an impulse control problem that I know we will continue to deal with.

So, we are cutting her hair. Her hair is down to her waist almost and all it does is cause us pain. She screams when it’s time to brush it, no matter how gentle and soft you are. She never keeps it up or keeps in barrettes to get her bangs out of her face. It’s a knotty mess most of the time and now I can’t get her to stop cutting it. So off it goes.

Well she was not happy with this decision to say the least.

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(Note: This is a real note from my real child on a real door)

Hair cut is happening this weekend. Hopefully we both make it through the ordeal.

Posted in Family, Opinion, parenting, Uncategorized

Explaining Death to Children

Not the best topic in the world for a blog post by any means, but thanks to some unfortunate circumstances in my life I have been thinking about this a lot lately. How to explain death to a child. Some children unfortunately experience it early on, some don’t

until they are older and arguably more able to deal with it. Some people like myself, don’t lose anyone close to them until they are an adult. Everyone grieves differently and everyone processes the idea of death differently. Kids included.

Having a five year old that I have to explain this concept to is not something I am super excited about. You can’t really avoid the topic of faith and spirituality on some level when death becomes a point of conversation. For someone like me (I’m sure some of you can relate) who struggles constantly with their faith, it becomes even harder sometimes. I know what I need to say in so many words but how? and what do I leave out?

I know her little inquisitive mind is not going to be okay with “well he’s in heaven now”. “Where in heaven? How do I see him? Can he see me? Can he hear me? Should I yell louder so he can hear me? What if wants to come back? What if he gets lost? What if he’s not there? What if…how come…when does…”

I can’t answer all of her concerns honestly and I’m a terrible liar trying to make up the answers as I go.

I did find some good resources I wanted to share in case anyone else might be going through this situation as well:

How to Talk to Kids About Death

 

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

Why so serious (mom and dads)?

It’s amazing how loud pots are when they are being beaten together by little hands. It’s amazing how mud seems that much more impossible to clean when your toddler comes inside caked in it. Craft supplies can seem daunting to get out because every craft requires a mess. Every water play activity requires mopping after. Every play bath requires at least one outfit change on your part.

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Having fun and playing with your kids can sometimes lose it’s spark. You can get more concerned with the aftermath than the actual play time. My daughter asked me the other day if we could make a craft, which she loves to do, and I said “no honey I just wiped off the kitchen table”.

Wait what? We can’t craft because I wiped off a table? What kind of logic is that?

Sometimes it’s hard to drop what you’re doing and say yes! Yes we can. Screw the laundry, who needs clean plates, my pants will wear another day…probably. For me it’s even harder to not dread the aftermath, as mentioned above. But kids don’t grow up and remember having a spotless home, they grow up remembering when you played super heroes together in the backyard. They remember trips to the ice cream shop and visits to the zoo. But you can’t live in a pig sty either. Cleaning and chores kind of have to happen. Sometimes you have to be the grown up and be serious. So how do you balance it all? I honestly don’t know.

I got called a Pinterest mom the other day and at first I was insulted just because I didn’t really know what the hell that meant. But then it was explained that I do things you see on Pinterest but never actually do with your kids. Then I was flattered but I felt a little like a cheat because there is plenty I don’t do, that I should. So, how do you become a not so serious, Pinterest, fun mom? Again, I don’t really know, but here’s the best advice I can gather for that question.

Step one: stop being so serious

My daughter is that special stage of life when she knows exactly what not to say, and that she has the ability to say it whenever she wants. That age when I feel like a 13 year old is trapped in my 4 year old’s body. That oh-so-magical age where I hear “we aren’t friends anymore, you’re mean” at least four or five times a week. We just had a long discussion about what a mortgage was the other day when she decided she was going to run away. More on that later.

I find, the best way to handle a little bit of sass, is to make fun of it. I make fun of how silly she sounds when she’s having an attitude. I put my hands on my hips and shake my head and say “does this look nice to you? or does this look like someone who is not going to get what they are asking for?” I exaggerate her movements and voice enough that usually, it causes laughter. Laughter leads to happiness and happiness leads to no more attitude. At least for the time being. This is not to say that I do that or think it you should look over blatantly bad or disrespectful behaviors. Just pick and choose your battles.

It’s the picture frame argument my husband and I have. When a kid draws on the wall you can a) freak out, b) quietly find a magic eraser and start erasing, or c) frame it. I choose to frame it.

Step two: have family time

This is the step I struggle with because this is the step I want more than anything else. As a working mom I really feel like I miss out on quality time with my kids, and even my husband. We all know that complaint, but it is a valid one. Sometimes family time is also errand time. Like grocery shopping or running into town for a certain bill that needs to be paid. I try to turn these moments into family time. My daughter and I go to the farmer’s market at least twice a month together to get our produce in the spring and summer. It’s always fun to walk around and see the flowers and pick out a special treat for later.

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It’s important to make the distinction between quality time and quantity of time. Just because you might be with your kids all week if you stay home, doesn’t mean you were actually with your kids all week. You probably plopped in a movie or two or maybe three. You probably found some coloring books or crayons and pushed them into a corner somewhere. You did chores, you worked, you prepped dinner, you did things you have to do on a daily basis, which means it probably wasn’t quality time. Not saying there’s anyway around that, just make the mental note that ‘yes, I with baby girl today but we only played together for twenty minutes after lunch’. Then you can try to fit in my quality time at the end of the day or the next day.

Step three: Us Toys

Not Toys-R-Us, Us Toys have saved my relationship with my daughter in a lot of ways. Without going into her anxiety and other issues, the book Growing Up Brave is a great read for any parent that is struggling with a child with emotional problems. It is geared for anxiety but I think a lot of the tips and ideas mentioned would work for a variety of disorders.

Anyhoo, one of the things I took away from that book is “Child Led Play”. For ten minutes, everyday, you play with your child but you let them lead the playtime. Now this may sound easy and like something you already do, but I assure you if you really start listening to yourself while you’re playing, you will hear a person you didn’t know was there. During your child led play it’s good to have a box or bag filled with stuff just you two play with. Ours was a mermaid dress up game, two Barbies, a sticker book craft, and some art supplies to start. Now we usually just do a craft together because her father isn’t very “artsy” and that’s our special thing to do. They do puzzles or blocks. So you get it, you have something that’s just for you two, you pick a place where you won’t be bothered by the other parent, siblings, phone calls, anything.

Completely uninterrupted playtime that they lead. Don’t interrupt them, don’t correct them, don’t even give them ideas to a certain extent. It’s their party for ten to fifteen minutes. Try it for a month and I’d be surprised to find someone it doesn’t help your bond with your kid.

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

Impulse Control, or lack there of

Stop hitting your brother.

Get your hands off your brother.

You can’t make your brother dance if he doesn’t want to.

Put down your brother.

He’s not a puppet, stop trying to make him talk.

No you can’t sit on his lap you’re twice his size.

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD JUST STOP TOUCHING YOUR BROTHER!

…impulse control. It’s one of the most difficult symptoms of ADHD that I have encountered. The endless talking, the inability to stop touching things, the constant

movement. More importantly, the lack of control. It’s hard as a parent and someone who grew up in a strict home to understand “can’t”. (Warning: Double negatives ahead) She can’t not touch him. She can’t not move around the couch. She can’t not speak over anyone else who is trying to speak to you. Anyone. Ever. And then of course is the backlash of “that’s just being a kid.” Just to clarify there’s a huge difference between a hyper child and a child with ADHD. A hyper child may have some issues keeping their hands to themselves, but in a child with ADHD you can see the physical discomfort as they try to restrain but can’t. If you haven’t had to see it that’s wonderful but I assure you it’s a problem.

Now that I have a better understanding of my daughter and what she’s going through I know now that no medicine is ever going to be able to help her in this area. Some parents can use the available treatments out there but even so, no amount of medication is going to work without some cognitive intervention.

How to handle impulse control:

    1. It’s okay to get mad/sad/frustrated. Just try to not project that onto your child. Yes, they need to be made aware that their behavior is not okay, and that it is causes conflict; however, making them feel guilty or responsible for your bad feelings is a bit much for a young child. For an older child, like 8 and up, I think they should know that what they are doing is causing you stress. That way you can work together on a plan of action.image
    2. Repeat yourself constantly. Something I loooooathe doing is repeating myself. I repeat; I loathe repeating myself. Did I mention I loathe it? Loathe what? Oh, repeating myself. Sometimes this is how it feels to talk to my daughter but I have to. I have to tell her many times that it’s time to put on pants. Most kids will putter and delay the inevitable but when impulse control is an issue it can take hours. Literally. Just to get dressed. One piece of clothing at a time; “Go put on your shoes”, “Please go get your shoes”, “I know that’s a beautiful a picture you just drew when I thought you were putting on your shoes but now you really need to put on your shoes”, “You know what? You can put them on in the car.” – not the best ending but it happens.
    3. I do believe in praising a child for being able to do something that is difficult for them. I think that it builds esteem, creates a bond, and gives them incentive. I do believe in special treats and awards. However, when my daughter started saying things like “if I’m good all day at school today I can have a snack when I get home right?” and I said, “Why don’t you be good all day at school today because that’s what you’re supposed to do and it will make me happy?” I got “the look” but we did have a good day that day. Awards can be over done but I feel like praise can’t, as long as it’s genuine. Kids are smart, and if you start praising them for every little thing (“Oh my gosh you walked down the hallway and didn’t trip that’s AMAZING”) they will know it’s not sincere. Praising for things that are milestone with impulse (“I’m so proud that you were able to get dressed before breakfast today, thank you.”) I think builds that positive experience.
    4. Routines. I’ve already posted about the importance of routines but consistency is crucial when teaching impulse control. If you do (blank) than (blank) happens and you feel (blank). This statement works for good and bad instances. Consistent punishments and consistent rewards are necessary when trying to change behaviors. We have a schedule for after school: snack, play outside, come in and help set table, eat dinner, play alone, bedtime routine.
    5. Learn the beauty of physical work. Chores. Wonderful chores. Cleaning up her bedroom has little appeal (although sometimes she really gets into it). However, doing things she sees me doing like the dishes, setting the table, feeding the cat, wiping down counters and tables; are all things she likes to do on her own. It occupies her, burns some energy, and keeps her out of trouble. I am starting a chore chart soon so we will see how that goes. Also, running is a godsend. Make up reasons for them to run. I like to pretend that the swing set in the furthest corner of our yard is the safe zone. So, she has to run from there to the house several times per game.
    6. Along the same lines, games are great tools for learning a new skill. Simon Says is one of my favorites. We play inside and out. When inside I like to put down colored paper in the hallway and make her go back and forth. If she steps off the square before I say the next “Simon Says” she loses. This teaches her to wait and listen to instruction before acting.
Posted in Family, Opinion, parenting, toddlers, Uncategorized

15 weird things I enjoy as a parent

There’s so many blog posts and vlogs about exhausted parents hiding from their children and moms pulling their hair out because they’ve heard “mom, mom, mommy, mama, mama, hey mom” about 296 times that day. But what about the good stuff? Not the precious moments “my child is a joy to the world and a gift,” yeah that’s all good and well but what about the perks? The weird things you enjoy about being a parent that maybe you didn’t think of before?

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  1. I never have to set my alarm: okay probably a lame one to start with but it’s more true than anything else I will ever write most likely. I still do set it but I don’t know why since I hear my youngest twenty minutes before it goes off. He can smell the noise coming.
  2. Viable excuse for lazy dinners: yeah we just had pancakes again, or nachos, or sandwiches. And not because we’re a lazy young couple who would rather go out than actually put effort into a meal, it’s because we have kids so…there’s that. Image result for hide and seek gif
  3. Hide and seek: I didn’t realize that not all parents play hide and seek in public until I was stopped by a security officer at the mall while playing on the indoor play set with my son. I do, and he laughs, and it’s amazing.
  4. Hearing your child use sarcasm or tell a joke: whether they use it correctly or not hearing your child try to make a joke is one of the funniest things you will ever hear. Image result for kid telling jokes
  5. Being the one that soothes them: probably a little sappy for this list but when your kid is just off the chain and yelling/screaming/crying/parkouring/whatever and you’re the one who can get them to settle and snuggle up; that feeling can’t be topped, like ever.
  6. Talking to yourself in public: I’m not talking to myself I’m talking to my baby, yes I know he can’t talk back but he’s a great listener, don’t judge me old lady at the grocery store.
  7. Toy shopping: is much more fun than it should be. I miss the giant Sear’s catalogs though…
  8. Teaching your child things you liked as a child: my daughter has started to become really interested in gardening, which I love, and it’s led to some talks about ditches, and fort making, and mud pies. Then I think about the laundry after and I’m like ehhh…still worth it.
  9. You can bail and not feel guilty: I know that one is on other lists as well but it’s a good one.
  10. Being complimented: Okay now I’m feeling super selfish but for real when you go out somewhere and you have your kids with you and hear the “aww he’s/she’s so cute” you smile. Don’t lie, you totally do.
  11. You become more lax: and that is a fact. It took two for me to get to this point but I have definitely become much more open to whatever is going to come. Image result for same movie again
  12. Disney and other movies: I am actually one of those weird people who will still watch the same 20 movies over and over and over. So while most parents cringe when they’re kids pull out the movie you watched yesterday I’m like “alright, but I’m singing this time”. Unless it’s Dora…
  13. You can get an honest opinion about your outfit: if your children are in that ripe age of having no filter and not understanding the importance of white lies, you always have honesty. “Mommy why does your legs look funny in that?” “Because these are leggings for skinny people honey and now mommy must go throw them away.”
  14. On the same note, you get complimented on things you didn’t know you were good at: same age range. “This macaroni and cheese is yummy!” “Yes sweetie, all homemade” (it’s not homemade).
  15. You’re good at something: I never really had self-esteem growing up, and there are still times I struggle with it greatly. But when I see my kids succeed at something I’m like “yeah, I kind of did that. At least helped.” It’s a great feeling.

What did I miss?

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.