Thursday, October 29, 2009

Setting limits Calmly: Day 9 in 20 Days to Becoming a More Mindful Mother

This topic is my life right now. I am learning that 3yr olds are boundary pushers. M pushes to the MAX! I have been losing my temper over his 'disobedience' lately. I'm currently reevaluating my perspective on the matter. As Parenting Passageway notes he is currently just like a giant eyeball and is absorbing and learning and definitely not filtering any of the information that comes his way.

All of his transgressions have a learning aspect to them. Really it's the mess that bothers me and that's an issue that's mine and he should not feel the backlash from it.

That being said he does need to learn that we do not paint the filing cabinet green and yellow while mama's making supper. We do not put mascara on our lips and teeth while mama is on the phone. We do not pour all the toothpaste, aftershave and moisturizer into a container and stir it up into a fabulously pretty, sticky gloppy mess with mama's favorite tweezers while mama is putting D down for her nap. I really do marvel at how quick he is in his creations. Now, how to get my point across without losing my temper and raising my voice? The most important realization for me is that he is not doing this to defy me. He is doing it because he lives in the moment and at that moment his wild imagination thought up this extremely fun, extremely messy thing for his little hands to do. He cannot comprehend consequences and he really has no scruples or morals yet. He will imitate what he sees so if what he sees is me angry and lashing out at him that's what he's going to do. Time to add some more tools to my parenting toolbox.

I thought I was home-free when we made it through the "terrible twos" with this sweet well-behaved child. However I have now realized that three is the age of destruction. 3 yr olds have this huge capacity for learning, imitating and manipulating objects. Seriously, if you showed a 3yr old how to start a car he could do it! A 2yr old would not be able to. These newfound capabilities are what is causing the destruction in my house. It's time to channel this energy, enthusiasm and creativity. Projects and nature time that's my plan. It fits in with the rhythm of the day.

There are key times when he is destructive. At these times he is tired or bored. 2-3pm is now going to be rest time. 3-5pm will hopefully be outside time. There's snow on the ground today and M has no snow boots so that is the first order of business.

Realistic expectations are something I struggle with. I often think "he should be able to ..." That's when we start having the battle of wills. Just because he can one day does not mean he can or will the next day. He needs gentle physical reminders and help from me if the first request is met with a "NO!"

From Parenting Passageway

Typical developmental things about the three and a half -year-olds include (this is according to the Gesell Institute, not necessarily my personal opinion!):

  • Turbulent, troubled period of disequilibrium, the simplest event or occasion can elicit total rebellion; strong and secure gross motor abilities may turn more into stumbling, falling, at this age; new- found verbal ability such as “I’ll cut you in pieces!” and lots of whining
  • May refuse to do things a lot, or howl and scream, or say a lot of “I can’t” I won’t” kinds of things
  • Three and a half to four may be the height for the most “WHY?” “WHERE?” “WHAT?” kinds of questions
  • Demanding, bossy, turbulent, troubled but mainly due to emotional insecurity
  • May refuse to take part in daily routine
OK so this describes M to a 'T'. Tommorow is about realistic expectations so I will delve in this tommorow.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Rhythm: Day 7 of 20 Days to Becoming a More Mindful Mother

Today's topic is rhythm. This means the flow of the day. Parenting Passageway has a distinctly Waldorf view of the world. So this post did not really resonate with me at first. However thinking about for a little longer I realized that there is a flow to our day and if it gets disrupted we all feel out of sorts. The Waldorf perspective is that children under 7 do not need activities outside of the home. Maybe if I lived out of town or off the grid this would feel true. I think preschool and gymnastics are great activities to look forward to. I think they help with his listening, social and motor skills. Yes he could probably get this at home but he is having fun and it gives me a much needed break.

There are also some things I would like to add to our day but am unsure how to accomplish this. We need to get outside more but currently our yard and porch are in disarray. We need to get the dogs walked but D hates the stroller and my back is bothering me so long walks with her in the carrier are out as well. We also need a rest time in the afternoon. I am just unsure of how to get M to settle down and sit still without the use of the TV. The afternoon would be an ideal time for a walk although this is usually when I get supper started. Maybe I can plan ahead for the weeks meals and get some extra prep and cooking done on the weekend? Maybe D would tolerate the wagon with her brother?

The dog keeps disrupting D's morning nap. it often throws of our whole day. This I can fix Now! I am moving the dog's bed out of our room and into the living room. I do not know why I did not think of this before. She makes me livid when she wakes the baby but that's her room too at the moment. So I have to work on making it a space that's not hers and she has to be invited into.

How to fit everything in? I have to let some things go.

I have been trying to get grocery shopping done without the kids so they are not dragged around on a bunch of errands wasting their whole day. I also think that minimizing our possessions and reorganizing the house would decrease the amount of time I have to spend tidying, cleaning and picking up. This is something H and I are going to work on together. How much stuff do we really need? Is it hampering the flow of our day or our space? If so time to let it go.
Getting up earlier would help me get everything done. I just need to find some of that inner discipline. I have been wanting to fit a workout into my day and there's no where to put it. D does not like strangers is still quite young for childminding. Early morning would work if I can only just get out of bed. Maybe I should make that my goal next week? Or maybe I should start tommorow?

I also feel I need to sit down and play with M more. I try to avoid entertaining him because he can get so demanding and once I give him my full attention he does not want to let it go. But if I create a time in the day when D is napping that is totally focused on him and ends when she wakes up then he will likely know that the time is over when she wakes and go back to amusing himself. He needs a better rhythm to his day now that the weather is turning and we will have less time outside. He gets antsy and now I am realizing why. When we were gardening daily he was much happier and lighter.

I also have made a point this week of not describing myself as busy. Being busy has negative conotations and generally makes me feel like I cannot relax and enjoy life because I should always be doing something. I really think this is helping.
Hmmm this has given me much food for thought...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Day 6: 20 Day Commitment to Becoming a More Mindful Mother

Getting to my post a little late today as we woke up with no heat this morning and most of the day has been dedicated to figuring out our furnace issue.

Sooooo today's topic is sleep. Both my kiddos are napping at this time. Is this normal for our day? No Way! My son does not nap. He stopped napping way before the birth of my daughter. He is tired but he will not sleep. My daughter naps twice a day usually once for a long period in the morning and one shorter nap in the afternoon. She goes to bed at 7pm and wakes probably on average 6x a night until 6am when she is up for the day. My son goes to bed at the same time and wakes up and will not go back to sleep in his own bed by himself.

Are we all getting enough rest? No I do not believe so. If it was only one child waking it would be fine but with both kids waking we cannot even trade off to ensure the other gets rest. You never know how important sleep is until it is disrupted on a nightly basis.

Sleep is crucial to my sanity. It's crucial to my kid's behaviours and rhythms. How to find the optimal sleeping solution for our family?

I've actually had sleep in my mind almost every day for a couple months now. I am currently researching food allergies and may be putting my son on an elimination diet after Halloween. I suspect food allergies may be the culprit of his nightwaking and current state of nastiness. With my daughter I believe it may just be a matter of perseverance, eating more solids and crawling and walking, breaks between teething etc. Not nursing her at night is not an option. Baby's under 1yr acquire 25% of their daily calories at night and early nightweaning may cause breastfeeding problems later. That being said I would kill for a 4hr stretch at night. The actual definition of sleeping through the night is a 5 hr stretch. This would be ideal at this point since she's waking every 2hrs. I may try homeopathy with my son if the elimination diet does not work.

We are a cosleeping family who do not believe Cry It Out (CIO) is ever an appropriate solution. There is a huge amount of research out there that shows that CIO is detrimental to the health and emotional wellbeing of a baby/child. It's also been shown that baby's left to CIO do not wake less often they just do not cry out when they wake (because they have been shown no one will come) and will often develop sleep issues later when they can physically get out of bed on their own.

Parenting is not a 12hr a day job. It's 24/7 and my children deserve me to gentle and compassionate with them in the middle of the night as well as the middle of the day. It is not their fault they do not know how to get back to sleep on their own. Sometimes sleep deprivation can make this nearly impossible. I have been heard to sternly tell my daughter to "STOP TOUCHING ME", When her little hands have reached out to pinch and fiddle at 2am. That being said, I am certain that I would be getting less sleep if I had to get up to go to her in a different room. She would be fully awake and so would I. With her in a crib sidecarred to my bed she has her own space and when she wakes I can either nurse her or resettle her without even sitting up most of the time.

I could go on all day about sleep. But some things I do believe work and are gentle:

1. Early bedtime
2. Routine
3. Naps
4. laying a child down awake but drowsy how they fall asleep is how they want to stay asleep.
5. Not nursing completely to sleep just until the sucking slows.
6. Swaddling first and then grobag when they get to big for swaddling

Monday, October 26, 2009

Day 5: 20 Day Commitment to Becoming a More Mindful Mother

So far I think I have mentioned self-care in all the last 4 days posts. Today's topic is to TAKE TIME FOR OURSELVES. As an attachment parenting family sometimes it feels like the children syphon off all of the time and energy. There are really not very many moments in the day when I am truly alone except for preschool time because Dee has a precious nap at this point in the day. I share my time, body, bed, breasts, bath, heart and soul with my children. I do this willingly because I believe this will help my children feel nurtured and secure when they decide to step away from me. Hopefully they will always know that they have a permanent home base wherever H and I are.

To give this much means that I need to invest in my self and my reserves. If I do not I will not have the resources to be the parent I want to be. I have noticed that I have been short and angry lately. I know this is because I am not taking enough time to focus on me. I think that is really what began this journey. I am doing this for me and as a byproduct my children will hopefully benefit. Often I feel guilty if I take time for me because something else is not being done. I resolve to let this go.

One of the main suggestions on Parenting Passageway is to find a mothering mentor. I do not really have any one person that I could point to and say yes she is the one I look to. I take bits and pieces from the mother's I know. The lack of this person in my life probably stems in part from living so far away from most of our family and friends. Heart to hearts are just not the same over the phone. I have felt the need to branch out and make more 'Mom friends'. I do have some great women in my life that I can talk and vent to and I need to reach out to them more often.

My Plan:

1. Get to the gym. I need to stop making excuses and just go no matter what. I always feel better when I am getting to the gym regularly.

2. Have H take over nighttime duty with the baby some weekends. I have already started this and I feel a million times better.

3. Laugh: my kids are funny and if I'm not in a negative mood I see this.

4. Take time every day to do something just for me and not feel like I am being selfish

5. Call and connect with girlfriends. It always feels great to talk to or get out with the girls.

6. Be grateful for what I have. My life is EXCELLENT! I have a loving, supportive, cooking husband, 2 beautiful healthy kids, 2 warm and fuzzy doggies, a nice home, enough money to sustain us, a support system of people who love me. I could go on and on. I think I will make one day a week dedicated to listing what I feel grateful for at that point in time.

7. Try something new: not sure what yet but I'm going to find something new to experience.

Well my darling daughter is awake and calling so that's all for now.

Natural Flu Remedies and Immune Boosters

So these are just my thoughts and suggestions and in no way replace a medical professional's advice.

I am pretty sure that my family has already had the swine flu. This is what we did to deal with it.

1. Increase Vitamin D consumption: a recommended daily does is 2000-5000iu depending on the time of year but if you are sick you can increase that to 10,000iu per day. You can check out the Vitamin D councils website for more info. I gave my 8mo old 800iu/day and M 1200iu/day. You can get it in a liquid in the D3 form and this is supposed to be the most bioavailable plus you don't have to swallow 10 pills.

2. Ingest raw garlic: If you've got kids who won't take it you can steep it in olive oil for an hour and rub it into the soles of their feet. We took 2 crushed cloves per day. Garlic is a natural antiviral. FYI you will smell like garlic bread. This is probably the easiest and most effective method.

3. Essential oil rub: 2 drops eucalyptus, 3drops lavender, 3 drops tea tree, 2 drops bergamot (I used marjoram), 10 drops caulophylllum inophyllum (I didn't have this so left it out), mixed in 1oz carrier oil (I used almond). Rub this into the chest, back and soles of feet before bed. H said it caused him to have night sweats but this is a good thing and means his body was shedding the virus. I also used a diffuser for the leftovers. It helped H breathe easier and it kills germs in the air.

3. Vitamin C: I gave my 3.5yr old 1.5G per day when he was sick and dropped it to 500mg when he stopped showing symptoms. H took 4G per day. FYI a large dose of Vit C can give you intestinal upset. Ester-C is easier on the stomach if you are sensitive.

4. Elderberry tincture: This tastes awful by the way but we took 2ml a day. It has been shown to be a better antiviral than Tamiflu. It has been used for centuries around the world.

5. Green Tea: Drink this all day it is also a natural antiviral filled with lots of antioxidants.

6. Tea tree oil bath: 10 drops in epsom salts in the hot bath and then straight to bed. This helps your body absorb the tea tree and loosen up the mucus.

7. Colloidal silver: This is antiviral and antibacterial. I gave M 2 doses of this over 2 days and his symptoms all went away except the night cough. I also gave it to H when he said his chest was feeling tight as he gets bronchitis easily. The feeling was gone the next day.

I am going to keep us all on a maintenance dose of Vit. C & D this winter and see if it helps keep us healthier.

Some other ideas that I didn't try:

Tulsi tea or paste
Zinc lozenges
Vit. E
Homeopathic oscillococcinum
Fresh unpasteurized apple juice
Apple cider vinegar

Hope this helps someone it certainly helped us.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Day 4: 20 Day Commitment to Becoming a More Mindful Mother

Today's subject matter is marriage or if you are not married the relationship with your partner or significant other. My husband has high expectations of my personal reflection today LOL. H and I have been together 9 years and married for 4. Our relationship started when we were both 19 and I believe we have undergone may transformations as a couple and as individuals.

Parenting Passageway asks us to contemplate where our relationship will be in 20 years when our children are gone and we are left alone with our partners without the minute to minute distractions of the kids. What will this time look like? It is probably the stage of life and marriage that I am in but I have been contemplating this topic for some time now. My mother in law is hitting this stage in her life and talking with her has led me to reflect on my own marriage. What will I feel like when these little beings that are currently the center of my world fly off to fulfill their destinies. When I look at my husband in 20 years will I still know and love him as I do now? I hope so. Actually no, I hope that what I feel for him after the next 20 years is deeper and more substantial. I am looking into what I can do now to prepare for this time in our lives. I think part of this preparation will be a sitting down to make our 5, 10, 15, 20 year plans.

Before we were to be married my husbands grandma sent us for marriage preparation. At first I was hesitant and a little resistant. It was a Catholic marriage prep course and I am not Catholic. We opted for the weekend away called Engaged Encounters. It was actually a powerfully moving experience for me. H and I have a very open line of communication but this course required us to do self-reflection and gave us a lot of questions to ask each other that we had not thought of. The one piece of advice that I've carried with me through these 4 years was that love and lust and like are all emotions I will feel for my husband transiently. However I can CHOOSE to love him. Meaning that through loving actions I can make the choice to be loving. During tough times this piece of advice has served to help me bring those loving feelings back.

There is a term parenting as partners. Parenting Passageway has written a really awesome post on this topic. The title says it all. For those of us in a relationship we need to keep in the front of our minds that there are two of us on this parenting journey. Each of us has our different perspective and opinion. Hopefully these perspectives and opinions complement, complete and enhance each others. Often times I find myself annoyed that H is not doing what I want him to at that exact moment or he's not doing it the way I want. It sounds silly but I need to remind myself that he is not telepathic and he is not a woman. A prime example of this would be shortly after the birth of our daughter D (our second child) H was putting her down for a nap. D is demanding and likes things done a certain way. For the first few weeks of her life I felt that I was the only one who could do it properly. So I was hovering and telling him how to do it. He turned around and said "You NEED to let me do this by MYSELF!" After that I let him figure it out. This seemed to give him the space he needed to bond with our daughter.

There are very distinct differences between H and I. H has two very different roles on a daily basis. He has the decisive decision making businessman role and then he has the loving attached father role. I am immersed in the daily life with the kids right now on maternity leave. I do not have two roles at the moment. Sometimes I expect that he should just be able to flip a switch when he comes home and be in his attached father role. It is important for me to remember that when I am working, often I need time to decompress from the day and put my Mama hat on. I think I should check in and find out what H needs to make this daily transition easier.

I truly believe that we all need to feel respected and loved in our homes. I also know that our children absorb these feelings and model our behaviours in this regard. I find that when life is getting chaotic and I feel stressed I can get short with H and he with me. If I notice this I make a conscious effort to change my tone and my words to something softer and more respectful. Nagging and sniping in front of the children only teaches them that this is an appropriate way to interact with the ones we love. This is not the message I want to convey to them. I also feel that any differences of opinions should be discussed in private between H and I. In front of others is neither the time nor the place. It only serves to embarass and will not facilitate open communication. I need an alliance with my husband in order to have the rhythm and peace in my home that I desire.

The ways I meet the needs of my partner and keep our relationship solid:
1. Open, honest communication on a daily basis
2. Physical intimacy
3. Early bedtime for the children (between 7 and 8pm)
4. A regular 'check in' with my partner (how's he doing and feeling?)
5. Self-care (I cannot meet someone else's needs if I do not first meet my own)

My goals for today:
1. Model a respectful loving relationship to my children
2. Reconnect with my husband and invest in our marriage

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Day 3: 20 Day Commitment to Becoming a More Mindful Mother

Day 3's focus is on being Positive. I woke up grouchy this morning, did not have a good night so today is the perfect day to practice being positive.

I have noticed that if my son's day starts out in a positive light i.e. someone smiles at him the moment he opens his eyes he has a better day. There are less outbursts, less tears, more smiles and more giggles. This is true for all of us but sometimes my days start with a screaming or whining child and it is up to me to keep a positive outlook. My attitude is reflected in my children. I see this every day. If I am grumpy or short with my kids they are grumpy and tearful right back.

What kind of negative person am I? I would like to say I do not have a type and am always positive but this is not so. I guess my classification would be the Woe-is-me type. I often lump all the bad things that are happening together and occasionally feel sorry for myself about all the irritating, terrible things that have happened that day. However, I can say that I often catch myself doing this and turn it around. I really make an effort to make sure that if I am doing this when I am talking about my children I find something positive to say about the so-called negative attributes of the moment. I DO NOT want to be one of those mothers that is always so: woe is me parenting is so hard and my children are so bad. THEY ARE NOT! They are beautiful wonderful, joyful beings and it is my responsibility to bring them joy every day. This, for me, means seeing the joy in the little things. For example getting my daughters diaper changed tear free or my son tells me all about his day at preschool. Life is not perfect but there are good and wonderful aspects throughout every day.

I have been in a bit of a negative slump lately. I am a homebody but I crave interaction with people. It seems like an oxymoron but it's not. I need to connect with people I just like to do it on my own terms and in small groups. I need to get out. This may mean stepping out of my comfort zone but I know that this is what I need to do to get out of the rut that I am in. Any suggestions?

I used to think that all I needed to be happy was my little nuclear family and enough money to sustain us. This is not true. I need friends, a career outside of the home, more education to get to the career goals I am striving for, exersise, sex, SLEEP and creative outlets. However even with all these things I could still be unhappy if I do not make an effort to see joy and positivity in my daily life. The monotony can get me down but if I change my perspective there will be something every day to lift me up. Even if something happens and I cannot have all of these things that I feel are essential to my happiness I can still make the CHOICE to be happy and positive.

My goals for day 3 :
1.Turn a negative situation into a positive one.
2. Lift someone up that's feeling down.

Friday, October 23, 2009

20 Day Commitment to Being a More Mindful Mother Day 2

Day 2 has a focus on forgiveness and being at peace with one's self.
For me this may prove to be the most difficult part of the journey. I often struggle with self-forgiveness.

Some wounds that require self-forgiveness:

1. I raise my voice at my son more than I would like knowing that this akin to blowing the horn of a car at a cow in the middle of the road. It's not going to change the situation or make my son do what I would like. I cannot parent from the couch or across the room. But it's important forgive myself for the instances in which this happens and just try to do better next time.

2. I have tried spanking as a disciplinary tool as a last resort. I tell my children to use gentle hands and never to hit another living thing. It is hypocritical of me to then use physical punishment as a disciplinary tool. I will forgive myself for spanking and resolve to never do it again. I can feel good about the fact that I apologized for it to my son and explained that it was not right.

3. There have been people along the way that have helped me. I have not always repaid them for that help or even truly thanked them for it. I am changing that aspect of myself and trying to truly appreciate when I have received assistance and thank them for it. I will forgive myself for this and hopefully my inner work will help me change this aspect of myself.

Part of being at peace with who I am as a mother means losing the guilt over these wounds and others. Realizing that I am doing the very best I can with the resources and knowledge that I have. I know that my children are not an extension of me and they will see the world differently than I do or my husband does. I rejoice in this. One of my parenting practices I believe makes a difference is that I try to give an honest explanation for every request I place on my child. Sometimes this means that my son will find another way to achieve what he hears I ultimately want other than the way I asked him to. This is fine. I love that he is thinking it through in his own way. Really is my way the only way? No! My son is wildly creative and he will probably always find a way that is 'outside the box' to do what needs to be done. Great!

Part of the reason this post is so poignant for me is that I tend to acknowledge disappointment and loss by pushing it down deep and locking it away. I do not grieve as deeply as is necessary to forgive and move on. This lets old wounds fester until the infection and explosion point. Acknowledging this in my adulthood has led me to some much needed healing. It's also helped me to realize that this avoidance leads me to burn bridges that I may need later. Maybe some can still be repaired? However I need to forgive myself for the ones that cannot.

Today's focus on forgiveness leads me to contemplate how I've encountered many people who blame their parents for their shortcomings. I myself have done this. Letting go of this is key to healing and changing. Parents give a foundation for life. Our parents were on a journey just as we are. They are not perfect. We have many years after we have left our parent's nest to change what we do not like or enrich what we did. How boring would life be if you left your parents knowing and having everything you needed in life? In my mind forgiveness requires accountability. This means that once we start our journey of adulthood we use the foundation our parents gave us as we see fit.

Essentially what this comes around to for me is that blame and guilt are two powerful negative emotions that I will lessen in my life. I am human, flawed, and limited and I love myself.

My parenting mission statement from Day 1's inner work:
I will empower my children to live their lives with caring, compassion and honesty.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

20 day Commitment to Being a More Mindful Mother

Parenting Passageway just finished a series of posts over the course of 20 days on her journey to becoming a more mindful mother. This series has inspired me to do the same so I am starting today. I feel by making it public via the internet I will stick to my commitment better than if I was just journalling for myself.

I need to develop my mission statement as a parent. I usually just fly by the seat of my pants and lately that's not working as well as I would like. I am losing my cool over age appropriate behaviours that just happen to irritate me in that moment. I am struggling with the lack of sleep and lack of patience. I need to change my mindset. If you are feeling like me I challenge you to join me in this journey.

Day 1 is all about inner work. I believe in order to be a great parent we need to know ourselves. So here is some self-reflection for Day 1.

Things I am passionate about:

1. The Environment: I truly believe we all have a part to play in taking care of our world. I try to do as much as I can on a daily basis.
2. Living Healthy and Naturally: This to me means limiting exposure to chemicals and man made products inside and out of our bodies. Doing it ourselves instead of finding a ready made product. Doing what mother nature intended for us. Examples of this in my life would be cooking whole foods and not buying packaged products and growing my own food or buying locally.
3. Being the best mother I can for my children and the best wife for my husband: This does not mean being perfect this means bettering myself at every opportunity I get. This means being fully present for my children.
4. Self-care: If I am not willing to take care of myself and my issues then I have no right to gripe to others about it.
5. Education: This is essential to my sanity. I need to know that there is research behind my decisions. I need to progress and stay current in my profession.

If I had to choose 2 values to pass on to my children it would be Caring and Compassion. I think the world needs more of these values. Maybe some of our societal problems could be diminished if everybody lived their lives with these values at the forefront?

Parenting passageway mentions that most people (in the US) do not have strong beliefs regarding spirituality and religion. I realize this is a lifelong journey but maybe some of my imbalance stems from my lack of entrenched beliefs about these subjects as well. In the next 20 days I hope to explore this and maybe find a path towards spirituality in my life to model for my children.
Those are my self-reflections and thoughts for Day 1.