raisingkidswithlove

You don't have to be perfect to be the perfect parent!

Oh what a difference a year makes! Growth and Development milestones the first year.


 

                                                       

From one day to one year, what a difference a year makes!                                                           

The first few months of my children’s lives sometimes felt like a blur.  Parents get VERY little sleep and are just trying to get to know their baby.  I can remember feeling that the first year just flew by and all of a sudden I would have a toddler on my hands!  There are so many changes that come so quickly with your baby that first year! 

During that first year, your baby is learning that he or she will be loved and cared for.  It is important to foster that development of trust.  Don’t let your baby cry for long periods of time, especially in the first 6 months.  Crying is your baby’s way of communicating.  Soon you will learn what different cries mean, like “I’m tired”, “I’m hungry”, “I’m wet”, “I need to be held”, “I am bored”….Responding to your baby’s needs helps your little one develop trust in you and the world.  You cannot spoil a baby!  Older children can be spoiled, but not infants, so just enjoy catering to their needs and loving your baby.

Growth and development should be steady and progressive.  That  is more important than comparisons with other children.  It is common for new parents to look at other babies and start to worry and compare.  Try not to compare, just know what important milestones your baby should be reaching.

How big your baby is at birth is a poor predictor about the size of your child by adulthood.  The size at birth has more to do with the conditions of uterine development.  Most children will find their growth curve and stay at that curve.  A child that is smaller than 75 percent of other babies his or her age can be perfectly healthy, that may just be the growth curve that child has.  By the end of the 2nd year, the size of your child will more truly reflect his or her adult size.

We parents know that our children are special!  However, reaching developmental milestones faster than other children does not necessarily predict your child’s intelligence.   As long as your child is reaching his or her developmental milestones on target, there are no worries!

By the end of the 2nd month your baby should:

  • Smile
  • Look at you!
  • Start to try to self soothe.  May bring hands to mouth and suck
  • Begin to smile at people
  • Start to coo
  • Turn towards sounds
  • Follow things with eyes
  • Pay attention to faces
  • Hold up head and begin to push up during tummy time

Activities for parents:

  • Talk to your baby
  • Show simple objects
  • Give your baby different looks at the world, change his or her scenery!
  • Play the silly face game, open and close your eyes, stick out your tongue etc.
  • Start the routine of a daily walk weather permitting
  • Help baby with tracking objects, babies love mobiles, shapes and movements
  • Imitate your baby’s sounds and expressions as your baby starts to learn to communicate

Your baby’s growth:

  • Growth will be about an ounce per day in the first 2 months
  • Growth will continue at about a pound a month after the first couple of months
  • Birth weight doubles by 5 months
  • Birth weight triples by one year

By the end of the 4th month your baby should:

  • Like to play and interact with you!
  • Copy some movements and even facial expressions like smiling
  • Babble even with expression
  • Cry in different ways for different needs like hunger, or being tired, or lonely
  • Reach for a toy or rattle
  • Track with eyes well side to side
  •  Be able to roll from tummy to back
  • Push up on elbows during tummy time
  • Like colors now and be drawn to them

Parent activities:

  • Continue to talk, talk, talk
  • Build reading into your daily routine
  • Respond to your baby’s coos and babbles…carry on a conversation!
  • Continue to show your baby the world!

By the end of the 6th month your baby should:

  • Recognize a familiar face and begin to have some stranger anxiety
  • Like to look at self in the mirror
  • Use vowel sounds when babbling and takes turns in a “conversation” with you!
  • Begin some consonant sounds when babbling
  • Respond when you say his or her name
  • Transfer things from hand to hand, easy to hold toys are important
  • Try to get things that are out of reach
  • Roll over in both directions
  • Sit with support
  • Like to “stand” with you holding and might bounce
  • Start to push up and may rock back and forth on hands and knees
  • Start to scoot and move arms like a swimmer
  • Sometimes show frustration if he can’t reach something he wants
  • Teething may begin with the average baby cutting their first tooth by the end of the 6th month
  • Should start the “dropping game” between 7 and 8 months (helps your baby learn object permanence)
  • Should begin clapping between 7 and 8 months

Parent activities:

  • Remember stranger anxiety starts at about 6 months and peaks at about 9 months.  This is normal.  Help your baby by gradually introducing strangers.  A stranger is someone your baby does not see everyday!  Never force a situation quickly when your baby is afraid of a new face.  Hold your baby, sit on the floor and let your baby explore with you holding him or staying near at first.
  • Start to teach finger games like “so big”, waving “bye-bye”, playing patty cake
  • Continue to read and talk to your baby
  • Make sure you are establishing routines, especially bed time and nap time routines

By the end of the 9th month your baby should:

  • Begin to have favorite toys
  • Understand the word “no”
  • Copy sounds you make and gestures you make
  • Pick up small things with thumb and index finger “pincer grasp”
  • Play peak a boo
  • Look for hidden items
  • Look where you point
  • Sit well without support
  • Start to scoot and crawl
  • Start to pull up to stand between 9 and 12 months

Parent activities:

  • Continue to play finger games like “Itsy Bitsy Spider”
  • Continue waving bye-bye
  • Build things for baby to crawl under and over
  • Let your baby play with every day objects like pots, pans, plastic containers
  • Encourage your baby to imitate your behavior like brushing hair, talking on the phone
  • Encourage pretend play with keys, phones, dolls, chunky trucks etc.
  • Play with pop up toys, a jack-in-the-box is a great way to teach object permanence
  • Play in and out games
  • Let your baby hold your fingers to walk

By the end of the 12th month your baby should:

  • Point at items
  • Pull up to stand and may walk
  • Cruise around furniture
  • Squat and stoop to pick up things
  • Throw a ball
  • Understand one step directions from you
  • Turn pages of a toddler board book
  • Look for missing objects in last seen location
  • Say Ma Ma and Da Da and maybe a few other words like ball, dog
  • Start to show fear, will cry when you leave
  • “Help” get dressed by holding out arms etc.
  • Put things in a container, takes things out, likes to dump items

Parent activities:

  • Help baby with push toys, wide based push toys that children can walk behind are fun!
  • Play games that the baby has a part in like puffing up your cheeks and letting her push the air out
  • Look at books and make up stories about the pictures
  • Teach body parts  Where is your nose?  Where is your tummy?
  • Play with musical instruments that shake and bang
  • Play music your baby loves to move and dance
 Enjoy the first year!  Your baby will grow and change more quickly than you can ever imagine.  Interact, smile, play, read to, cuddle, play music, walk, and just introduce your baby to the world!  The world is an exciting place through the eyes of a child.  Experience it with your child!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

Helpful websites:

www.cdc.gov

www.aap.org

www.infirststeps.com

We need Dad’s to be involved in parenting….encourage it!


Brad  as “King for a day!”  He has always been a “hands on” Dad!

Dads have a special role in their kids’ lives.  I believe that my parenting would have been incomplete without Brad, but I could have very easily discouraged his involvement very early on.  I was a “gatekeeper” Mom; I needed and wanted him to be involved, but had a difficult time actually “letting go”  of any of the parenting.  I hovered and gave “suggestions” on the best way to hold the baby, how to bathe the baby, kind of the “my way or the highway” approach.   Soon I realized that neither of us were the experts and a parenting partnership was better for me, him, and our baby!  We were “in this” together!

Dads sometimes need a bit of encouragement to become confident in their role as a Dad and especially in their baby care skills .  Moms are often responsible for much of the “baby duty” those first few weeks, and sometimes even have a difficult time allowing Dad to own his role.  Studies show us that babies respond to Dads differently than Moms.  Most babies become more alert and active when Dad engages them!  Let’s face it, Dads usually interact with a bit more energy and fun!  Routine and consistency are important for children, but they also need a balance between Mom and Dad.   Embrace parenting as a partnership.  Everyone will benefit…

Ways to Help New Dads Get Involved

1.  Many Dads want to be more involved than their fathers were. 

Moms can help by encouraging time with other families that have involved Dads.  Seeing other fathers that are breaking the old stereotypes will encourage them to do the same.  Talk with other Moms and Dads that have a  parenting philosophy that you like or admire.  Surround yourself with like-minded parents and Dads that like to participate in the care of their children.  Soon you will see that his conversation with other Dads will include the color and consistency of what is in a diaper and the best technique in swaddling, and he will actually be interested in it…who would have thought!

2.  Help Dad get involved early on.

The sooner a Dad gets involved with his baby, the more likely that he will stay connected over the long term.  Be sure to keep everything related to the baby a partnership.  Have Dad change diapers, read to the baby, feed or bring you the baby for nursing, bathe and play his way with the baby.  Breast fed babies may have more time with Mom in the very beginning, but there are many ways that Dad can still participate in caring for his baby.  Skin to skin contact is important for babies—that means Mom’s skin and Dad’s skin!  Encourage Dad to hold his newborn shirtless and comfort just like Mom!  This builds bonding between Dad and baby.  Few Moms can swaddle a baby as securely as a Dad, and Dads can walk and comfort the baby after Mom has nursed–buy a sling that is Dad friendly! Don’t let Dads wait until baby is older to begin his parenting, babies need him from moment one!

3.  Allow Dad to be involved. 

Some dads want to be VERY involved, but Moms have a difficult time letting go.   Studies show us that children with Dads who care for them beginning in infancy, end up more secure in life.  Do not tell Dad how to do everything.  If Dad does something differently, that is not wrong.  If Dad is criticized, he will back off the parenting duties and his confidence will decrease.  Fathers parent differently.  Dads often let children play more physically and take more chances.  This is different from Moms, but good for children and their developing understanding of the world.  Let Dad take one night or weekend day alone, this is good for you, Dad and your baby.  Encourage Dad to own one parenting chore like bathing,  bathing is a task that allows great interaction and is needed from the first moments of parenthood.  Allow Dad to figure out his own parenting pattern and not totally depend on Mom.  Be careful not to slip into a gatekeeper role as I did.  Moms and Dads both need alone time with baby because this allows Mom and Dad to develop their own parenting style and confidence.  Remember, Dad is not a babysitter, he is a parenting partner!

4.  Praise Dad’s efforts. 

We all like praise and fathers really need more of it when caring for their new baby.  Since stereotypes are changing, one way to make sure that Dads are embracing true involvement is for Dads to feel in control and confident.  This confidence develops when Moms praise him for what he does well rather than criticize him for what is done differently from Mom or unsuccessfully.  Offer advice, but approach it as a team.  “This is what has worked for me, try it and see if it does for you.”  Remember success breeds success.  The first time Dad quiets his crying baby,  that accomplishment will result in him being more comfortable in quieting the baby the next time!  I quickly learned that Brad’s confident, firm hold was an immediate fix for our second child’s fussy period in the early evening…he had the knack for calming her!

5.  Update Dad

When Moms are on maternity leave or have chosen to not work outside the home,  many Dads feel disconnected while at work.  Taking a moment to send a picture when your baby smiles or to update Dad on a developmental milestones or activities during the day keeps him connected.

6.  Talk together about your parenting goals.  

We all have hopes for our children and our family environment.  Talk about them together…communication about parenting as a team results in you both being on the same page.

  • What are your hopes for your family?
  • How do you see your roles as parents?
  • What kind of parents would you like to be?
  • How would each of  you like it to be handled when there is a disagreement about a parenting issue?
  • How can you best support each other as parents?

7.  Talk with other families who share your parenting beliefs. 

Sharing parenting experiences with other parents who are parenting as a team really encourages both Mom and Dad.  One of the best parenting tips I can give, is to surround yourself with like-minded parents.  It is much easier to believe in your parenting philosophy when you have other parents that support you.

8.  Put your partner first.

Try to remember that your relationship with your partner will be there after your child is grown.  By loving each other, you are giving your child an important gift—a stable base.  Putting your partner first is wise, and makes your parenting relationship stronger.  Relationships can become stronger even with the pressures of parenthood if you keep each other first.

9.  Keep your sense of humor.

Remember, you are in this together.  As you pass each other in the night, keep a tally on whose turn it is to change the poopy diaper, clean up the spit up, or collapse in exhaustion together in a heap on the couch, laughter at the situation and with each other fixes all kinds of stress.

Becoming a parent is a huge change for both Moms and Dads.  Each parent needs support from the other.  Giving and taking, encouraging, praising and simply loving each other will make both your relationship strong, and your baby happy and successful in the future. Working together is the key to happy families, fulfilled parents, and secure relationships.

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

Read, Read, Read…..and Read Some More!


baby reading

Reading opens up the world for your child…..our goal is 1000 books before kindergarten!!

Bath time is over, p.j.s are on, your little one is on your lap and you snuggle your nose into their sweet smelling cheek.  The craziness of the day begins to melt away.  You open the familiar book and your toddler snuggles into your lap.  What a precious ritual, and not only precious but so incredibly valuable.  With that moment, you may have just helped your child get into Harvard…well at least become a good reader.

What is the best way to encourage your child to become a reader?  What can you do now to prepare your child for school…and even college?  It is very simple….read, read, and read some more.  There is no better way to encourage a child to love reading, help them succeed in school, and improve language skills than to read to them. I think I can still recite The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle and Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown.  Some of my most treasured moments were spent with my children on my lap, reading a story.  Moments is the key word.   When we are reading to young children, the reading is often in very short bursts.  Reading a total of 20 to 30 minutes a day is recommended but that may be divided into several short periods.  Having a “reading routine” before naps or at bedtime is a great way to incorporate “cuddle time” with your child and the benefits of reading. You might even try “reading your child awake”.  Some children wake from a nap a little grumpy, reading to them until they are fully awake makes it easier on you and them!   Here are some tips to keep your young child interested in reading.

  • Toddlers have an opinion!  Give them a choice of what stories they want.  Often you might read the same books over and over.  Toddlers love repetition.  Soon your child will be able to “read” the book to you!
  • Allow your toddler to handle the books.  Books should be well-loved.  Keep baskets of books out so your child can go to them whenever they are interested.  A basket next to their potty is a great way to keep them entertained while potty training!
  • Read with drama.  Be silly.  Change your voice.  Use puppets or hand motions.  Children love interaction.
  • Talk about the pictures.  It isn’t important to read all the words on a page!  Don’t be surprised if your child realizes that you have left parts out of a familiar story though!  They will catch you!  This shows that they are learning!
  • Ask open-ended questions. Let your child tell you the story!
  • Never force reading.  Many toddlers do not have the attention span to finish a book.  Read a few pages and leave the book open.  You may find your toddler will come back to it later.  Let your child play while you read.  Read an active story together that they participate in too.
  • Take trips to your local library often.  Allow your child to become comfortable in the library.  Participate in Story Times offered at the library.  These are free and great resources for parents and children!
  • Set a good example.  Turn off the TV and let your child see that you love reading too.  Check out a book from the library for you too!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

“Tools of the Trade” for literacy


book worm

Here is a list for “tools of the Trade” for literacy!  What items do you have in your home to promote the love of reading?

I admit it, I am a list maker.  I love to make a list and cross off things I accomplish.  There are days that I write something on my list that I have already completed…just so I can cross it off!  So because I love lists, I put together a simple list of tools for literacy.  These are items that every home with children should have to encourage a love of reading and writing.  So, get your pens out and start crossing off the items you have….or make a list of things you need to foster your child’s growth in literacy.

1.  Books in several places of your home that are accessible to your children.

2. More than one rhyme book.

3.  Several picture books.

4.  A book of nursery rhymes.

5.  Chalkboard or white board.

5.  Unlined paper.

6.  Crayons, markers, pencils, and sidewalk chalk.

7.  Magnetic letters.

8.  Alphabet books.

9.  Children’s Bookmarks.

10.  Classic chapter books to read to your child.

11.  Reading area in your home.

12.  Supplies for your child to make their own book.

13.  Children’s poetry books.

14.  Sorting toys.

15.  Puppets for your child to act out a story.

16.  Books about colors.

17.  Books about animals.

18.  Books about how things work.

19.  Books about nature and the earth.

20.  Silly books.

21.  Stationary for your child to write a letter.

22.  Books about the seasons.

23.  Music with rhythm.

24.  Letter games.

25.  Children’s magazines.

26.  A library card for your child.

27.  Books about feelings.

28.  Books about childhood events like new siblings, potty training, going to school etc.

29.  Alphabet blocks.

30.  Shaving cream to draw letters in.

31.  Finger paints.

32.  Play dough and letter cookie cutters.

33.  Letter matching games.

34.  Pop up and flap books.

35.  Touch and feel books.

What else???  Post your suggestions of “tools of the trade” for literacy!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

Helpful Websites:

www.rif.org

http://childrensbooksguide.com/top-100

How much juice? None if under age 1!


Why would your child need a glass of juice?  The short answer that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) gave this week is almost never.  While a juice box of 100% juice for an older child isn’t the worst thing to have, it certainly isn’t the best choice.  This week the AAP recommended even stricter guidelines for juice in a child’s diet.  The new pediatric recommendations for juice is NEVER before the age of one and very limited intake through the age of 18!

Fruits are an essential part of a child’s healthy diet, but juice is not.  Even 100% juice!  Juice has very little nutritional benefit, it is basically water and natural sugar.  It is high in calories and low in nutritional benefit.  A piece of fruit is eaten slower, has healthy fiber, and is more filling.  Often we forget to count the calories of a drink, and a child can “fill up”with those quick calories and decrease the amount of healthy food that is eaten and increase the risk of unhealthy weight gain.

If 100% juice is not the best choice for children, then fruit drinks are even worse!  To be labeled fruit juice, it must be 100% juice.  Any other drink or “juice box” that is not labeled 100% juice really is no better than soda.  It is simply a sugar sweetened drink with high calories and no nutrition.

So what should our children be drinking?

  • Breast milk or formula for the first full year of life. No juice.  Small amounts of water can be introduced in a cup when solid foods are started.
  • Children age 1 to 6 should consume no more than 4 ounces of juice a day in a cup with a snack or meal. Toddlers should not carry a sippy cup around with juice as it can result in dental decay.  Fruit should be encouraged rather than juice. Water and milk only are adequate for fluid intake for toddlers and young children.
  • Children age 7 to 12 can consume up to 8 ounces of juice a day, but fruit should be encouraged over juice. Water and milk are adequate for fluid intake for older children.  Sports drinks usually are not necessary for most activities, they are high in sugar and calories.  

What does this mean?

  • Juice has no nutritional benefit for children younger than 1.
  • Fruit is always a better choice than 100% fruit juice.
  • Fruit drinks that are not 100% juice are no healthier than soda.
  • Juice is not a good fluid choice for rehydration for a child who is dehydrated or has vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Drinking too much juice may increase the risk of obesity in children and may decrease the amount of healthy food a child eats.
  • Children over the age of 1 can drink 100% juice as part of a balanced diet that also includes whole fruits if they stay within the recommended amounts by the AAP.

So don’t introduce juice to your infant and offer it sparingly to your older children.  Remind your children that low-fat milk and water are always the best choice.  “Take back the snack” and encourage “snack parents” to provide water for young athletes after practices and the games.  Control your refrigerator and cupboards, make fruit available and low-fat milk and water more available than juice.  Make it easy for you and your child, steer clear of the “juice box aisle” at the store!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

Swim Season is here…keep your child safe!


We have spent many summer days at the pool or beach!  It is a part of summer and kids!

Memorial Day Weekend is fast approaching.  That means the beaches and pools will be open!  Summer water fun can be wonderful for children; most of us have great memories of the lazy days of summer spent at the pool or beach.  As a parent, those lazy days have a new meaning.  No longer will you be sitting in a beach chair with a book.  When there is water and children, there must be close supervision.  Drowning is the 2nd leading cause of  accidental death in children, and most drownings occur when there has been less than 5 minutes of unsupervised play around the water.  What can we do to make our children’s pool and beach time fun and safe?

Water Safety

  • A child can drown in just a couple of inches of water.  All water must be supervised, even blow up backyard pools.
  • If you have a pool, provide layers of protection for your child.  Think about fencing your pool, locking a gate, locking the backdoor from the house, an alarm, and/or a protective pool cover that will bear a child’s weight.
  • Inflatable above ground pools should have the ladder removed when not in use.  Children are very “top heavy” and children can fall head first into soft sided inflatable pools when they lean against them.
  • Empty small child pools after use and turn the pool over.  Remember it only takes a few inches of water to be dangerous.
  • Hot tubs and decorative water features in yards are a danger too!
  • Keep toys away from the pool when it is not supervised; toys tempt children into the water.
  • Always provide “touch supervision” for your child.  Your child should not be farther than arm’s length away from you in the water.
  • Always “pass the baton” of supervision.  Do not assume that other adults, and that includes even other family members, are watching your child if you leave the pool or beach area.
  • If a child is missing, always check the pool, lake, retention pond or any other water first.  Seconds matter in drowning.
  • Keep rescue equipment by the pool and a phone with emergency numbers programmed in it.
  • Do not rely on floatation devices like “floaties” or “water wings” as your child’ supervision.
  • If your child has had swim lessons, do not rely on those lessons as your child’s supervision…”touch supervision” by an adult is a must!
  • Only swim in designated swimming areas on a beach with lifeguards.
  • Teach children to enter lakes and oceans feet first.
  • Take a CPR course!  There are many parent focused courses in the community.  Contact local hospitals and the Red Cross for classes.

Swimming Lessons

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children age 4 and older take swimming lessons.
  • Children between the age of 1 and 4 can take swim lessons, but children at this age usually are not coordinated enough to swim well.  Classes with parents are fun for children under the age of 4.
  • Babies younger than 1 can also enjoy the water with an adult.   Be sure that the water is warm enough and your baby is protected from the sun.  A child that shivers is too cold!
  • There should be no classes that force a child to go under the water before the age of 4.  Many children will swallow or “inhale” water and there is a risk of “water intoxication” in a very young child.
  • Most children will be able to swim well if they have taken lessons by about age 5.
  • Swimming lessons do not “drown proof” your child or replace adult supervision near the water!

Prevention of Illness

  • Remember swim diapers are not leak proof.  They are mainly for the purpose of stopping bowel movements from entering the water.  Urine and stool does seep from the diaper.  Always change the diaper when your child has a bowel movement, and make it a practice to change swim diapers every 60 minutes to prevent leakage.
  • Do not let children swim with diarrhea.
  • Never change a diaper poolside.  Always use the locker room changing area.  Wash your hands well after a diaper change.
  • Take young children to the bathroom frequently to prevent pee in the pool!
  • Do not let your child drink pool or lake water.
  • No swimming with contagious illnesses like pink eye.

So, put on that swim suit ( Ugh!), slather on the sun screen, find a sun hat and sun glasses, and pack up the pool and/or beach essentials and head to your “swimming hole”.  Kids love it, and what is summer without water!  Be safe!  Share your experiences at your favorite “swimming hole”!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

Bumps, a few….but blessings…a lot more!


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I have had the privilege of being a Mom to these 4 kids….there have been a few bumps….but many more blessings!   Motherhood is a gift beyond gifts…..

As I sit here in my PJs drinking my morning coffee, I am reflecting about my years as a Mom. Hard to believe that I have been mothering for 30 years! The journey has had its bumps….but more than bumps it has had its blessings. The world will often tell Moms that their role is difficult, that it is full of sacrifice and sometimes that sacrifice is too much. Society tells us that Moms give up too much, and they put aside too much of themselves for their children. As I sit here this morning in my slippers and glasses, not feeling too beautiful, I realize that my life has been completely beautiful. I have been given the greatest gift and have experienced the four greatest blessings.

As a Mom I have been given the privilege of loving four children to adulthood. I have had four children looking at me with eyes of trust and open hearts. I have had the gift of teaching them right from wrong, caring for them in the middle of the night, kissing their skinned knees, attending their school musicals, cheering their athletic endeavors, pointing out their talents, discovering this wonderful world again through their curious eyes, celebrating their successes, loving them through their disappointments and praying for them each and every morning and night. I have been given the privilege of seeing my children grow up into people who I like and respect; I am reaping the fruits of my labor.

My children have made me a better person…I am more patient (I am sure my kids are saying, really?), I have learned the gift of self-sacrifice, I have learned more about my own talents and yes, my shortcomings, I have learned that I am tough….I can handle stress….and I have a lot of love to give. I have had the opportunity to see the world again and again through new eyes which has increased my appreciation for simpler things. Having children has increased my love for my own Mom…because now “I get it”. The blessings continue each and every day of Motherhood, I am blessed beyond words. So are you, Moms…enjoy this amazing gift of being a Mom…it truly is something great. Yes, there are a few bumps…but so many more blessings. Have a Happy Mother’s Day, you each deserve it!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

 

When Mom ain’t happy….then no one is happy!


When Mom ain’t happy…no one is happy.  We have all heard that saying and in actuality it has a lot of truth to it.  If Moms are unhappy, then their families suffer.  Moms that are stressed have less patience with their spouses and children and have less fun and engagement with their family.  Families benefit when Mom feels good!  So lose the guilt and do something for yourself….after all you are helping your family!
How do we do it?

1.  Balance

A Mom who is out of balance probably has too much on her plate.  There must be a balance between kids, work, and the home.  Everyone needs 15 minutes a day of time alone.  I am an early riser and that is my time for a few minutes of reflection before my day begins.  Find out when you can fit those 15 minutes in your day to balance yourself.  Then during that time, reflect on your day and decide your priorities and put some perspective to those priorities.  Always ask yourself, “Is this a have to…and what would happen if I didn’t?”  Suddenly your life will become a little more balanced by embracing what is most important during this particular season of your life.  Remember, there is a time for everything in life.  You can have it all, just not all at once!

2.  Delegation without guilt.

Ask for help and then allow your kids and your spouse to help without guilt.  Build chores into your child’s daily life, giving responsibility helps your child build self-confidence.   Ask for help from your spouse and be happy with the help you receive!  Remember you must ask not just wish for help!  Give Dad a job to own, and let him do it his way!  Moms who are “gatekeepers” for their baby discourage Dads from parenting.  You don’t have to do it all….if you try everyone will be unhappy!

3.  Carve out time creatively.

Moms can actually carve time out for themselves right in the middle of caring for their kids!  You need to learn to be ready to grab those minutes here and there throughout the day.  Bring that magazine or book and read it in carpool, or waiting for a sports practice to be over.  Play a book on tape or music that YOU enjoy when you are running errands with the kids in the car.  Build some exercise into your day when you take the kids to the park.  Soak those feet in the tub while your kids play in the tub and give yourself an at home pedicure.  Find ways to take care of yourself while still caring for your kids!  It is important for your children to see that you value yourself, that builds their respect for you.  Don’t give up who you are when you become a Mom!  You can still keep your interests, a Mom is a big part of who you are, but not the ONLY part of who you are!

4.  Plan a monthly date with your spouse and a date for you alone.

Reconnect with your spouse at least once a month on a “grown up” date.  Keep it simple and keep it cheap but it must be time away without kids.  The rule is:  No talking about the kids, just talking with each other. This will allow you to connect with each other!  Set a date once a month for you too…this can be a Saturday of shopping, time for a haircut, nails, a walk in the park, time to take a class whatever you alone would like to do.  Get both of these dates on the calendar…make it a standing date.  Treat it just like an appointment, no cancellation allowed!  You must refill yourself in order to give of yourself!

Remember…if Mom ain’t happy….then no one is!  Give your kids a gift; take care of yourself so you can take care of them.  Keep the family happy!  Happy Mother’s Day to all of you great Moms!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

This wasn’t how it was supposed to be….


I feel like we need to talk about this topic at least every 6 months….and what a better time than right before Mother’s Day! So, I am posting this again so we all will be reminded that taking care of ourselves is a must in order to be good Moms.  Sometimes we don’t feel wonderful and full of bliss after our baby is born.  Those first few weeks and months are difficult!  The lack of sleep alone can play havoc with a new Mom’s emotions. New Moms…take care of yourselves, and if you don’t feel like yourself or others tell you that you are not like yourself, ask for the help you need.

You have waited 9 long months for this.  You survived the back aches, the weight gain, the heart burn, and the cravings. You went to prenatal classes, read books, watched the “Baby Channel” on cable for hours and the nursery is perfect.  Everyone is thrilled…everyone is happy…everyone but you.  You feel alone, guilty, not yourself.  You try to “pull yourself out of this funk”; but you just can’t shake the feelings.  Why?

Today I want to talk  about just those often unspoken feelings of postpartum depression.  Nearly 80 percent of new moms have the “baby blues”.  Hormone changes after birth can cause many to have some mood swings, tears, feelings of being overwhelmed in the first couple of weeks after delivery.  Overall, a mom who has the “blues” still describes herself as generally happy.  Postpartum depression is different.

At least 20 percent of moms experience some degree of postpartum depression.  That is 1 out of every 8 moms!  There are probably more but because of guilt, many moms never seek help. I am sure someone you know has experienced this.   It is the most common pregnancy complication!  Postpartum depression or perinatal mood disorder can occur anytime during pregnancy and the first full year after your baby is born.

Some Signs and Symptoms:

  • frequent crying
  • sleep and appetite changes
  • feelings of loneliness, helplessness
  • mood swings
  • repetitive, sometimes scary thoughts
  • anger, frustration, irritability
  • difficulty bonding with baby
  • anxiety, panic, excessive worry
  • feelings of being trapped
  • lack of interest in life, fatigue, exhaustion
  • feeling speeded up or wired
  • fear of being alone with the baby

If you are feeling some of these signs and symptoms…or if people close to you are telling you that you are just not yourself.  Please talk with your doctor.  Seek the help you need to feel better.  The good news is that you will get better, treatment works, you will be yourself again.

All new moms can do a few things to help themselves feel better.

  • Sleep.  Sleep deprivation can result in depression, and we all know that a newborn doesn’t sleep as much as we thought!  We are not used to waking every 2 hours at night!  Try to nap when the baby does.  Ask someone to stay with the baby while you sleep.  Listen to your body and rest.
  • Eat healthy and remember to eat!  A new mom can’t survive on a handful of cookies, and believe me often that is all you have time to eat!  Keep healthy food in your house and accept those meals that are being offered!
  • Exercise.  Just a walk 3 to 4 times a week increases those “feel good” hormones.  It is good for you and good for your baby to get out in the fresh air, even in the winter.
  • Natural light, find the sun!  Sunlight is a mood booster.  Stand in front of a window whenever the sun is shining and get light on your eyes.
  • Get out of the house.  Even a trip to the grocery store is a trip out!  Wow, the definition of going out really changes after kids!
  • Ask for help.  Being a new mom is lots of work.  You do not have to be super mom!  You can’t do it alone.  Remember, being a mom is not like what you see on TV!
  • Find other new moms.  Look for support groups, MOPS groups, church groups, wherever there are other moms…being around other moms is essential.  We all need to stick together!

Remember…ask for help.

You are not alone, you are not to blame, and with treatment you will get better and be yourself again….I promise.

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

Helpful websites:

www.postpartumprogress.com

www.postpartum.net

www.postpartumstress.com

www.ppdsupportpage.org

www.babycenter.com

www.postpartaumprogress.com

www.mededppd

Get a little dirty…it is time to garden!


 

It is that time of year when I am doing a bit of grumbling about all the work, but also looking forward to getting my perennial beds cleared and blooming, my cut flower bed planted and preparing my vegetable garden for this summer’s crop of tomatoes, beans and of course sunflowers.  I definitely am not a Master Gardener, but I have a special place in my heart for gardening and getting a little dirty.  I have very fond memories of my Grandfather and his vegetable garden and beautiful roses.  I would walk through his garden when I visited and help water and weed.  With his garden gloves on and a hat perched on the back of his head, he was a true farmer at heart.  He showed me how to eat a fresh tomato right off the vine and how to pinch a peach so the fuzzy skin would pull back and I could eat the sweet inside.  I guess my love of gardening started by watching my Grandpa and then my own father take pride in their gardens.

So many of our children have no idea where their fruits and vegetables come from or even what a fresh tomato really tastes like! With the new fruit and vegetable pouches, I sometimes wonder if many toddlers even know what a real vegetable LOOKS like!  There are many life lessons that can be taught by simply taking a small plot of land or a small container and growing something with your child!  There is no better way to instill a love of nature and to encourage healthy eating than growing a fresh fruit or vegetable as a family.

Children are natural gardeners—they are curious, they learn by doing, and they love to play in the dirt.  Gardening is good for families, it gives your family time together outdoors, and time to let your child get dirty for a purpose!  Children love to look for worms, love to plant seeds, water,  watch plants  grow, pick their crop and even try the harvest they have grown.  What a great way to get them to try green beans!  This helps cultivate their curiosity about nature, the earth and maybe even foster a love of gardening.  Children will also love the special time they spend with you.  Gardening teaches patience, responsibility and is like having a science lesson without even knowing it!  You might even find yourself feeling a little proud and definitely loving the taste of a fresh homegrown tomato!

Tips on gardening with children.

1.   Plan a small container garden or a small plot of land that is theirs.  Talk about a plant’s  need for sun, water, and food.  Put the garden in an area that can be seen easily by your child.  A plastic storage bin or any other container with holes poked in the bottom for drainage works great for this!  Keep it near your back door so your child can see it often.  Tomato plants or lettuce can actually be grown in just a bag of topsoil that you open and plant the seedlings in the bag.  What could be easier?

2.  A “yardstick” garden is plenty big for a child.  Take a yardstick and measure a garden that is 3 foot square.  A young child can reach all sides of the garden and will take pride in that little plot he can call his own.

3.  Gardens do not have to be square.  A “pizza” garden can be planted with wedge sections.  Put different plants in each wedge.  Plant ingredients that would taste good on a pizza!  This is a great way to grow an herb garden!

4.  Use a little imagination, children will love a sunflower house!  Plant large sunflowers in a semi-circle.  As they grow, tie the top of them together and your child can have a “secret” hiding place in your garden!

5.  Watering and weeding is not as much fun as planning and planting ( I don’t like it as well!).  For older preschoolers or school age children, put a gardening calendar in the kitchen or in your child’s bedroom with tasks to be completed.  Don’t force it, remember you are instilling a love of gardening!  Keeping your child’s portion of the garden small should keep the time necessary to only a few minutes a day.  Using a container garden really keeps it easy!

6.  Child sized garden tools make it easier and more fun. I have seen tools in the dollar area of Target!  I know if I had young children, the gardening boots and clogs I have seen would be a must, so cute!!  A gardening hat is a necessity,  protect yourself and your child from the sun.  What is cuter than your toddler gardener in a wide brimmed hat!  Don’t forget the sunscreen too.

7.  Let your child dig the holes for the seeds or the plants that have been bought.  Digging holes is a natural for kids!

8.  Encourage your child by planting seeds that mature quickly and are easy for them to handle.  Radishes and lettuce are great.  They germinate in a couple of days.  Bean seeds and sunflower seeds are easy to handle.

9.  Be sure to put the seed packet on a stake in the garden to remind them what they have planted and what it will look like.  Some discount stores even have little garden stakes that your preschooler could decorate!

10. Children love the unusual.  Many vegetables are available in different colors or sizes.  Speckled beans, red carrots, miniature cucumbers and pumpkins, purple beans, and grape tomatoes are just a few examples.  Try something really unusual by taking a cucumber or pumpkin bloom and placing it inside of a 2 liter bottle.  Shade the bottle with leaves from the plant and let the pumpkin or cucumber grow inside the bottle.  It is a great “show and tell” item when there is a large cucumber or pumpkin inside the bottle!

11. Add a bird bath  to attract birds.  Children can be responsible for refilling the bird bath!

12. Think about planting bright colored flowers that are known to attract butterflies and hummingbirds.  Exploring the garden for butterflies, bugs, worms and caterpillars is great fun!

13. You might want to set a part of the garden for digging all summer.  Put your sandbox in the middle of your garden to make your garden kid friendly.  There were always a few cars or trucks around in the dirt of our garden.

14. You can have your child  make garden stones or markers for the garden.  Find larger stones and let them paint designs on the stones.  These make great Mother’s Day or Father’s Day gifts for Grandparents!

15.  Have your child help build a scarecrow for the garden.  This can be a fun activity for late summer especially.

16.  Measure the sunflowers that you plant once a week and chart their growth.  If you have older children, planting sunflower seeds that mature in about 90 days is a great way to measure the length of summer.  When they bloom, it is time to go back to school!

17.  Try to grow organically as possible.  Mulch is a great way to cut down on weeds which will prevent the need for weed killer and mulch will keep the soil moister during dry spells.  Mix compost and/or topsoil into your garden each year to provide nutrients needed for plant growth.  By growing without chemicals, your child will be able to eat a tomato right from the vine…there is nothing better!

18.  Let your child harvest their own vegetables.  There is nothing better than picking your salad fixings for the day!  This will encourage your child to eat their vegetables I promise!  Your child will love to eat “garden to table”!

19.  Keep it fun…start small!  Most new gardeners try something too big and then quickly become discouraged with the experience.  Just grow one tomato plant and supplement your “garden” with a trip to the Farmer’s Market!  We always had enough green beans from our small garden for at least one dinner.  The kids would always ask, “Our these our beans?”  With a little white lie, our kids ate green beans the whole summer!

There are some great children’s books that can be fun to read with your child as you start your garden:

Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert
Pumpkin Pumpkin by Jeanne Titherington
Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens
This is the Sunflower by Lola M. Schaefer
Whose Garden Is It? by Mary Ann Hoberman
The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss
The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle
Oliver’s Vegetables by Vivian French
Stone Soup by Marcia Brown
Alison’s Zinnia by Anita Lobel

Get a little dirty….plant a few seeds and you will see your child’s excitement grow as the plants grow, and who knows you might just raise a kid that likes his vegetables!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.

Cindy

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