Posts tagged ‘parenting insights ‘




Weekend Hike

Before having Charla, Tim and I used to go hiking almost every weekend. We would pack some food, water and our dog and hit the trails. We didn’t just stick to Wisconsin trails either. We would drive down to Illinois or over to Minnesota for a day. Tim doesn’t mind the more natural trails. I, however, enjoy the state trails. The trail is clearly mapped out and usually covered with wood chips or gravel. It’s perfect for walking along and enjoying the scenery.

After Charla was born, we stopped hiking. For the first 9 months Charla hated anything to do with the carseat or stroller, so it was nearly impossible to even walk around the block unless one of us was carrying her. I had a Bjorn backpack for her, but she didn’t like that much either. So we just didn’t go.

Looking back on it, we should have tried going. There would probably have been enough to look at that she would have been fine and then fallen asleep. If/When we have another child, I’m going to try those experiences. What’s the worst that could happen? We have to leave early? We carry a screaming child for 15 minutes back to the car? Back when Charla was a baby, those scenarios would have been the end of the world. Now though, I think I would have a hard time keeping a straight face. That’s probably why studies show first-borns are more anal — their parents are.

Anyway, last fall we started hiking again. We took Charla on a handful of small trails and she really liked them. On Saturday we went to an amazing trail that is actually only about 15 minutes from our house. We’ve known about it for a few years, but never gone. We should have though because it’s beautiful. Charla really enjoyed it too. She got to eat a picnic dinner overlooking Lake Michigan and thought that was the coolest thing ever.

I got some nice pictures that I plan to blow up and hang in the bedroom. I have a few pictures from last year hanging in the kitchen. Charla looks at those pictures and still remembers taking that hike. Building memories….that’s what childhood is all about.

Add a comment June 13, 2011

New Techniques

I don’t know who came up with the phrase “terrible twos” but I think they were mistaken. Yes, two year olds have their moments. The tantrums, the whining and the frustration that comes with not being able to express yourself properly are all part of being two. I guess one could assume that once a child reaches three, her vocabulary becomes that much better and she is able to express herself through words instead of action. But, as annoying as whining is, the words that can come out of a 3 year old’s mouth are much worse.

“Don’t talk to me.”

“You worry about you. I’ll worry about me.”

I hear those two phrases uttered a lot. And along with the phrases comes the closing of the bedroom door, the smirk with eye rolling and the walking away. Aren’t those supposed to be the actions of a teenager?! It’s like suddenly overnight my sweet 2 year old has become a pre-teen…But without any of the reasoning skills.

I tried something today that I’ve been waiting to try for over a year. I read about it somewhere (Love and Logic perhaps?). I had given her the 1 minute before nap time warning. She acknowledged and continued playing. After that minute was up I said it was time to go to her bedroom and read some books. I was immediately met with resistance, just like I have been for the last week. I knew something needed to happen so this didn’t become part of our routine. So, I asked her if she had any ideas on how she could come to her room happily.

At first she just said, “I could listen.” Okay, great, let’s go. Nope, that wasn’t going to cut it. So I said we need different ideas. She didn’t have any so I gave her some. I mentioned that we could hop to her room or we could walk to her room like cats. She didn’t like those ideas. I said she could drink some water while we read books. She didn’t like that either. Again I asked her if she had any ideas. To my surprise she said “I could drink water while you read and we can walk like cats.” Awesome let’s go! And she got up and happily went to her room. I was shocked. This entire process only took about 3 minutes and the end result was a pleasant 3 year old sitting on my lap, drinking water and listening to stories

So, maybe three year olds aren’t terrible, but the process in handling them is much more complicated!

Add a comment June 9, 2011

Goodbye Diapers!

Today is HOT! We are already in the mid 90’s and have a few more hours of heating to go before we start cooling off. I filled Charla’s splash pool yesterday. She got to play in it yesterday afternoon and will again this afternoon. I have half a mind to get my swimsuit on and lay in it as well!

Charla reached another milestone this week – no diapers at night! She’s been potty trained since she was 22 months old and napping without diapers for about a month. Six months ago she would wake up with a leaky diaper 4 out of 7 days. It was annoying. Then all of a sudden the leaking stopped. Her diaper would still be wet but not saturated. It was so nice to only change her bed sheets once per week instead of four times!  In the last month she started waking up with a dry diaper. This ended up in two straight weeks with only one slightly wet morning diaper. It’s been 3 nights now and she’s doing great!

Over the last week Tim and I have been trying to split the night time routine. It used to be me doing 100% of it because Charla would cry if Tim tried to do something. The problem came around when she started needing baths every single night with this warmer weather. I did not want to be the only person spending 1 hour every night putting her to bed. I told Charla that daddy would either give her a bath or put her to bed. She got to choose which one she wanted him to do. The first night she choose to have him read to her and after that she’s wanted him to bathe her. It’s been so nice to split this responsibility. At the end of the day, I just don’t have the energy to do everything for her. Plus, Tim wants to spend some time with her after being at work all day. So, it’s a win-win.

Add a comment June 7, 2011

Discipline

When I was growing up, I said I wasn’t going to be like my parents. I thought they were overly strict and didn’t understand what it was like being a teenager. I was going to let my children make their own decisions and let them live with the consequences whether they were good or bad. I still have that mentality but I can tell its going to be much harder than I thought.

A year ago, Tim and I took a class about discipline using Love and Logic. The basics of this sort of discipline is allowing your child to learn from their actions. For instance, instead of fighting with your child about going to bed at night, let her stay up so she knows how tired she is without the proper amount of sleep. Obviously there are some catches here because you will then be fighting with your child the next morning when it’s time to get up.

I haven’t found too many opportunities to use it with Charla over the last year. Two year olds don’t have many decisions to make and they are still learning right from wrong. But I will refer to it in the future. Right now I am doing a lot of explaining and a time-out here and there depending on what she did. I don’t like time-out. I don’t think it teaches anything except the fact that when she does something wrong she gets sat on a chair and ignored. That’s not exactly the lesson I want to teach, so  they are a last resort.

One aspect of my parenting that I am very proud of is the fact that Charla has never been smacked or spanked by either me or Tim. This was very important to me. I feel like if you allow yourself to hit your child, you are walking a slippery slope of becoming more and more abusive. My parents were spankers and yellers. It is hard sometimes to overcome this; the yelling more than the spanking. I don’t want to have to constantly raise my voice to get Charla to hear me.

Now that she’s 3 and entering a more social time in her life, I want to give her the words to use to express herself. I’ve been doing this all along and it showed in her school report when her teacher wrote that she expresses herself very well. Now though, I have to teach her how to communicate to people when she is sad or mad. Yelling, pushing or throwing temper tantrums are not good ways to communicate. It’s a learning process and I plan to continue teaching her until she’s an adult. At that point I think advice would be given versus teaching, although I suppose that could be slightly interchangeable.

I want her to be able to look back on her childhood and feel like she was understood and listened to. I’m going to make mistakes. We’re going to get into arguments and feelings will be hurt. But, when we both calm down, I want her to be able to come to me, we can both apologize and finish working out the problem together. Idealistic….yeah. But something to aim for.

Add a comment June 3, 2011

Summertime!

Today is officially the start of summer. There are so many things to love about summer: thunderstorms, swimming, popsicles on  the front porch, relaxing in the shade and so much more. I plan on making many family memories this summer. Charla has reached an age when she may be able to retain some of the things we do for the rest of her life. Making memories is such an important part of being a family.

I have a lot of memories from summers. I remember playing baseball with my dad, going to a neighborhood park, playing outside with friends, splashing in my kid pool and taking our annual family vacation up-north. Each of these memories is special in its own way. It’s fun to think back to those times when life was so much simpler.

Tim and I have started planning a few things. We go to the zoo and the fair every year, so we are excited for those two things. We are planning a weekend trip with my brother and his wife and then in early August we’ll be camping with my parents, my brother and his wife. So, a lot of fun trips coming up in the next 3 months.

We try to do something special every weekend as well. It doesn’t have to be big. A trip to a park, playing at the beach, filling up the kid pool or having a picnic. Now that Charla’s older these plans are much more feasible and fun. I am looking forward to a wonderful summer!

Add a comment June 1, 2011

Memories

There is something about watching Charla run barefoot through the grass that screams “childhood”. Back when times were simpler and the only care in the world was if your friends were going to come over to play with you.

We kicked off the weekend Friday night with a bonfire. Charla had taken a nap so she was able to stay up a little later. I gave her a bath before going outside so she was running around in her pajamas. I set up her little camping chair and she would sit down for about 30 seconds before taking off to do something else.

Charla’s confidence in large motor activities has taken a steep climb ever since we built her playset. Now she is going up the slide, trying to flip upside down on her rings and laying on her swing to pretend she can fly. Even taking some minor tumbles hasn’t stopped her. It is so relieving to see her start to take an interest in trying new things. I feel like I can put some of my worries aside.

Yesterday was a summer-like day. We were outside almost the entire day. I love days like that and having a little girl just makes it all the better. I can dress her up in pretty sundresses and do her hair but at the end of the day she’s sweaty, greasy from sunscreen and covered with grass stains. And this is what being a kid is all about. I remember crawling into bed at the end of a busy day and falling asleep within seconds. These are the types of memories I want Charla to have. Barefoot in the grass, the sun shining on her face and popsicle juice running down her arm.

Add a comment May 23, 2011

Attitude

Yesterday was a beautiful day. The sun was shining and we could actually go outside without putting coats on. Charla didn’t nap so we went outside early in the afternoon and stayed out until I had to come in to make dinner. She played on her playset, colored with chalk, played t-ball, and rode her bike. A great afternoon!

Tim is getting frustrated with the weather lately. We have been having a lot of below normal temperatures and rain. I try to understand his point of view but by the end of the day I’m sick of  hearing the complaining. I try to look on the bright side of things. Perhaps we were 7 degrees below normal yesterday but Charla played outside, the sun was shining, and it was a fun afternoon. I don’t want his negative views to rub off on how I see things. I don’t think I could go through life looking only at the bad things. I have a feeling that was the way he was brought up and I don’t want Charla to grow up that way. I want her to be a happy and positive person. Obviously she’ll have her days, we all do. But when that day ends, I want her to be able to realize that tomorrow is a new day and things will get better.

Charla is going through another “mommy” phase. I keep waiting for a “daddy” phase but it’s never come. She goes through periods where only mommy will do and then will relax into her normal I prefer mommy but I suppose daddy will do. I’m not sure if this is normal or something to be concerned about. I didn’t (don’t) have a very strong relationship with my dad. He’s always been present in my life but we didn’t have the type of relationship where I felt I could go to him with problems. Maybe that’s how a lot of teenage girls feel, I don’t know. I wanted Charla to have a better relationship with her father but she simply doesn’t seem interested. I think part of it is that Tim has his own agenda and if she doesn’t want to do what he has planned then she can just stay with me. He does keep asking her if she wants to do things with him though so I guess that’s good. I know things won’t be like this forever.

Today is rainy. I’m not sure what we’ll do this afternoon. Probably just stay home and take it easy. Put in a movie and cuddle on the couch, paint, and play with toys. Sounds good to me!

Add a comment May 18, 2011

3!

I can’t believe it. I just can’t wrap my mind around the fact that Charla is 3 years old. She’s been a part of my life for  3 years. On one hand it seems like these years have flown by. On the other hand, it feels like she’s always been here. I didn’t have this much trouble grasping her first or second birthdays, but this time is different. I feel like my baby is now grown into a child, basically overnight. How did this happen?!

I know she’s going to need me for quite a few years yet, but with her baby years behind her, I can feel our relationship changing. Where before I had played the role of nurturer, now I’m finding myself being more of a disciplinarian and playmate. Of course she still likes cuddling at the end of the day, but these cuddles aren’t what get her through the day. Now she needs me to help her work out right from wrong. She needs me to laugh at her jokes (this is a new thing, she sings silly songs and laughs and laughs at them). She needs me to push her in the swings and play hopscotch with her. As much as I miss holding her as a tiny baby, I like this change.

I look forward to this year. I’ve loved watching Charla grow and learn new things. I love teaching her about life and being with her while she explores on her own. This has got to be one of the best things about being a parent. I’m sure this year is going to be full of exciting new things.

Charla’s birthday party was amazing. The weather was gloomy and windy, but that didn’t matter. Family was gathered in the living room, presents were being opened and a good time was had by all. Now that these last two super busy weeks are over, I’m ready to look forward to summer fun. Swimming, vacations, parks, picnics – it’s going to be a good one!

Add a comment May 15, 2011

In Process

Lately it seems like I am all about self exploration. I’m not an emotionally deep person. Meaning, I don’t sit and ponder the meaning of life or why I am a certain way. I took a psychology class in high school, but that is the extent of my knowledge of the brain’s inner workings. However, like I’ve repeatedly said, becoming a parent opened my eyes to a few things.

Yet another one of those things is my family and extended family. Growing up, I always thought we were a close family. We got together for every major holiday and even some of the minor ones. There would be laughing, talking, and playing games. Don’t get me wrong, family gatherings were fun. But…..

Now that I’ve grown up and had a child, I can see family gatherings a little more clearly. I’ve become familiar to the family politics. My family isn’t exactly open with one another. Emotions get hid, people get mad without voicing their concerns and passive-aggressive comments are made. I guess this is pretty unavoidable whenever there is a group of people getting together on a regular basis.

I have a good relationship with my parents. However, there are certain parenting techniques I’m doing differently and things I want to do differently as Charla gets older. It can be hard to step out of the mold. When I’ve had a bad day I feel myself slipping back to the yelling and frustration that my parents often used to discipline.

I also find myself as a glass half empty person. I’m not sure if this is something that can be genetically inherited, but I’m sure if you live around that for the early part of your life you tend to pick it up. I’m trying to have a more optimistic outlook on life and not let the little things bother me.

So, those are the two big things I’m trying to work on within myself. I know that anger, frustration and negativity are always going to be a part of life. They are necessary emotions since life cannot always be sunshine and rainbows. But I think aiming for more fun, happy times is a good goal.

Add a comment May 11, 2011

Life

Bringing life into the world has changed a lot of my outlooks on many different topics. However, the most changed outlook may very well be how precious life is. How easily “living” can be taken away. I look at my daughter and can’t imagine what life would be without her in it. Yet at the same time, I know how quickly that could happen. I don’t sit and dwell on this thought because it is rather unpleasant. Sometimes though, it sneaks into the corner of my thoughts and it feels like I’ve been punched.

The same goes for my life. I’m not sure what I believe in as far as religion and the afterlife. I was raised a Christian, but I haven’t been to church in almost 2 years. I’m not necessarily scared of death as much as how I’m going to die. I hope I will live to a ripe old age and watch Charla grow up, go to school, start a career, get married and have her own children. The thought of missing any part of her life due to me dying hits me almost as hard as the thought of losing her.

I want to be here for everything. I want to watch all her accomplishments and be there with her to celebrate them.

Thankfully, my health is not in question. It’s scary though reading about how things cause cancer. Or how if you don’t eat properly you shave years off your life. And if you don’t exercise you are at greater risk for heart attack. Not to mention the statistics of car accidents or the probability of another World War. Even 2012 can be unsettling, although I’m not putting much trust in that theory. The world is a scary place and it can be an overwhelming job to protect our children, our partners and ourselves.

Add a comment May 10, 2011

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