Ever gotten really peeved at work and managed a few cutting remarks that left you feeling vindicated? Have you had a moment when you screamed at your spouse/parent/sibling/friend/child and suddenly realized you weren’t alone in the parking lot? Had that awful feeling in your gut a few hours later as you replayed the scene in your head? Did you spend the night squirming in embarrassment wondering how you could show your face in public ever again?
Well, there’s nothing quite like having your worst moments acted out for you, out loud and in person…by your four-year-old.
There are few things I’ve experienced that are quite so humbling as having children. Not only do you deal with the awe, the joy, the humiliations and the frustrations that make being a first-time parent incredibly overwhelming. You also experience the gut-wrenching shame spiral that ensues when you witness your darling child trying on all your snippy remarks and exhaustion fueled set-downs.
We all try to be good role models and decent human beings, sure. But in the privacy of your own home, you know you’re far from the pillar of humankind that you encourage your children to be. Sometimes, they are better role models than we could ever be. You can admit it, this is a safe zone. No judgements here.
We’ve been dealing with some adjustment problems with our two-year-old (since the addition of baby #3) and have been spending a lot of time trying to keep our little chaos bubble from spinning out of control. Once we manage one hurdle, another gauntlet is thrown into our paths and we lug our exhausted bodies out of the ditch and trudge ever onward. There’s nothing quite like having notes sent home about your toddler’s behavior in daycare week after week. We’ve moved from shoving other kids, to tackling them, to punching them in the nose (self confessed), to screaming “NO!” all. the. time. Our darling girl?! Never…
That’s not to say she’s not sweet and loving and everything nice. Just don’t stand in her way, she’s got strong opinions and is not afraid to show them. I know I’ll appreciate her strength and conviction one day, when she’s 30. Maybe.
The crux of the matter is that we’re all learning, as individuals, as a family unit and as a community. It’s painful, it’s frustrating as all get out and it’s incredibly humbling. In the moment, it feels agonizing. With a little perspective, it starts to resemble growth and gosh darnit, maybe even feels a little rewarding.
It’s empowering to know that we are a work in progress. We are NOT perfect role models. We are not finished. We are aspiring to be something better, we are inspiring these little minds (though not always in the best ways, if we’re honest), and we are growing with each and every awkward, imperfect step.
Failure is not an option, it’s an inevitability. It may not be pretty or Pinterest worthy, but it’s life and it has meaning and it helps us to be better people. Own it.
The joy and awe of having a newborn is immense, and overwhelming. This is especially the case when you have two other kids running around with the same needs they’ve had for the past 2 and 4 years. As with any new addition to a family, sleep is highly coveted commodity and chaos is only a hairsbreadth away.
After the first week or two of adjustment, the older kids quickly realize they can exploit this new bundle of joy. They will get up to all sorts of antics knowing mom is trapped in a chair feeding their newest sibling and so, can escape any and all repercussions. Enter the month of yelling. Deprived of any other recourse, Mom quickly devolves into a hoarse mess as she attempts to keep all the tiny humans alive and relatively well taken care of. Socks may not match and baths a thing of the past, but they’re fed and rested aren’t they?! Meanwhile, the tiny humans are rejoicing in their freedom and flaunting their newfound power as they blithely go about any activity they find amusing. Needless to say, nothing that Mom wants accomplished is on their to-do list.
As the days chug along with excruciating slowness, the new babe gradually begins to fall into the rhythm of the household. During waking hours, Mom can at least count on an hour or so of slumber from the little one, provided the babe is constantly snugged up against a boob or tucked under an arm. Allotted this modicum of freedom, she can now rampage around the house and one-handed, attempt to rectify the fracturing discipline she has managed to hold onto. Understanding that yelling is never the answer (though that was never in doubt), she gamely attempts to re-establish the love and trust that once reigned supreme. Enter the age of the tantrums.
While a semblance of order has begun to creep back into existence, the toddler and pre-school variety of tiny humans have entered a new phase of rebellion. Gone are the days of outright, smiling smugness and enter the age of tears, buckets and buckets or tears. The toddler now employs epic tantrums at the slightest of provocation, or just because. The preschooler responds to the re-establishment of tyranny by dissolving into tears and whining before she even hears more than one word uttered from a parent’s mouth.
Not all hope is lost. As the weeks go by, the babe reaches the magical age of 7 weeks and a monumental shift is about to transpire. The babe will sit or lay, awake or asleep…alone! Gone are the days of Mom’s one-armed failings. Slowly, but surely the minuscule footholds that were being put into place will begin to hold and order will gradually return. Mom will begin to remember she isn’t caring for three well-mannered demons, but instead the three darling children she loves so very much. No doubt the future holds many more challenges, but she can rest assured that there is a light…somewhere down the deep, dark tunnel.
Finally able to read books together without the little one running off!
We have made a transition and our two girls, now aged 4 and 19 months are sharing a bedroom. Other than the occasional early wake-up call, it’s gone pretty seamlessly. Our youngest (for the next 6 weeks at least) is still in a crib and the elder is in a twin bed. They both like their rest so once they’re asleep, we’ve been in the clear.
The only major transition was the nighttime ritual. Previously, we had been taking them up around the same time and using the divide and conquer method. My husband would read to one while I got the other settled and topped off with a small bottle. Going to bed at the same time was out of the question as our two little chatterboxes would keep each other up if we let them.
To help with the transition, I started taking up our younger daughter at the normal bedtime and getting her settled. She drifts off into dreamland fairly quickly, so with a delay of 15 minutes or so, our older daughter quickly follows. However, she’s been known to enjoy a good book or ten. At bedtime, we’ve already read to her and then allowed her to take one book to bed to “read” as she falls asleep. At times, this has led to “reading aloud” and singing in bed for a time before she finally goes to sleep. To combat waking the babe, we’ve taken to putting our eldest to sleep in our bed and then moving her when we go up to bed. All in all, this has solved any nighttime woes (and dealt with any bed wetting problems as we make her take a trip to the potty as we move her to her bed).
This was the case last night as I went up and moved her to her room. Yet, when my husband came up a short while later, he found a small form curled up next to me in our bed. Being only six weeks from D-day with our third child, I had clearly fallen asleep and was none the wiser! Considering the stumbling and grumbling that I had to endure on the potty run, I’m amazed that she managed to wake up again. I don’t think she opened her eyes once!
On the flip side, our youngest was up pretty early this morning and started talking and singing almost immediately. When we went in to release her from crib prison…our eldest was curled up in her blankets and still fast sleep! Apparently, the noise wasn’t going to keep her from getting her rest.
Our advice for transitioning kids into sharing a room:
1. Talk it up! Get them excited about the idea.
2. Be prepared for some early mornings…it’s inevitable, but they do get better at sleeping later.
3. Make noise! Even before you make the transition, don’t keep a silent house. We live in an old house so they were well used to hearing each other long before they started sharing a space.
4. Be consistent. Like any change, they may rebel at first. But keep on keeping on and things will usually iron themselves out…eventually.
5. Don’t be afraid to make small changes to their routine. Small changes over time quickly become just part of their normal routine. Especially with older kids, just explain the changes and usually they can adapt fairly well once they know what to expect.
With the start of the New Year there’s a large increase in healthy eating, which usually means more people are working on healthy habits. As a family, this is a goal we’ve been working on for some time though we still have a long way to go. Looking back over the past year, I can say that I’m really surprised at how far we’ve come.
The whole journey started after our 2nd child was born in November of 2013. We weren’t happy with our health, our energy levels or our eating habits. With a toddler in the house that was regularly fed a very balanced diet, we were forced to realize that our own diets weren’t quite so balanced or nutritious. As our inquisitive toddler was sure to see the dichotomy here, we made a commitment to improve our own eating and exercise habits in order to set the best example possible.
Over the next few months, we made small and gradual changes that we pushed ourselves to make into healthy habits. We exercised more, took time to cook healthy meals, invested our time in learning more about how to improve our eating habits, made small changes in our home and schedules to accommodate our new goals and so on. It’s actually difficult to pinpoint what each step was because they were small and the process felt gradual and is still evolving to this day. I can vividly remember looking at a few of the sites I regularly use today (for recipes and advice) thinking, that’s way too hardcore for us. Fast forward to a few months later, and those same websites are my current staples.
Beyond food, we’ve been exercising more and took steps to make that a priority. Sure, there are days and weeks when we slip up or life gets in the way. I took almost a month off in December due to all the family gatherings and our crazy schedule. Could I have made time for it? Yes!! Did I feel as good as I have for most of last year? Nope! Lesson learned. It can be really difficult to keep something going (even when you know the results are worth it) when it requires extra work on your part. Getting up at 5:30 am is HARD! Especially when the sky is pitch black, your bed is cozy and warm, the baby was up during the night and you know you have a million other things to do later that day. Despite my laziness, I can honestly say that starting back up was no picnic at first, but now I’m back in gear and loving the benefits once again. It’s worth the extra effort to keep those healthy habits going, even on the worst days!
It’s pretty amazing how much our lives have changed in the past year. We’ve gone from having a new house, a toddler new baby and a sluggish and unhealthy lifestyle to having a toddler and a pre-schooler, much healthier habits, a new love for cooking as a family and a huge increase in energy. All those things have made us more productive in our daily lives too. We’ve taken time to pursue personal and family goals and plan for our future. It can be so frustrating at times because you feel like you’re making all of these positive changes but not really seeing any results. I’m here to tell you, the results are coming! Even now, they’re not big changes but I can definitely see how far we’ve come and can only imagine on how those changes will start to affect our lives exponentially. It’s a work in progress and will be for some time to come. but we’re moving in the right direction.
**Be sure to contact me directly if I can answer any questions or help you pursue your goals this year.**
It’s been a whirlwind these past few weeks, chock full of family gatherings, last-minute shopping, teething babies, tantrums, get-togethers with friends that have been put off far too long and the list goes on. We’re exhausted!
While the interruptions to our routine have been fun, they’ve also added a whole new dynamic of behavior issues…especially with the 3-year-old. We’ve always been very flexible with our routine, but she needs a certain amount of down-time to stay on the straight and narrow. It will be a relief when things start to settle back to normal.
Despite all the angst, we look forward to this time of year for months! We love the anticipation and the joy of spending time with friends and relatives we don’t see very often. We remember fondly last years promises to see each other more often, yet life inevitably gets in the way. These moments are precious and we’d pay for them in sweat and tears a million times over. Not everyone is so fortunate and we know that we are blessed.
So from our sleep deprived and tumultuous household to yours, we wish you a blessed Christmas and hope the rosy glow continues long after the holidays have ended. Whether you have little ones or not, we hope a little Christmas magic finds its way into your heart.
With the craze of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the deluge of Christmas decorations, advertisements and hype, it seems impossible to teach gratitude and show kids what the Season should really be all about. My goal this year is to turn the conversation around from “What do you want this Christmas?” to “How do you want to give back this Christmas?”.
We are extremely fortunate as a family. We have a house, loving family, food in our bellies and good jobs to help pay the bills. There are many things we would like to change for the better and we have to save our pennies for those future plans, but we have everything we need….and then some. Sure, we have to pick and choose where to spend this month but we are careful not to spend beyond our means. Not only because we don’t want to be in debt but more significantly, because we want to show our children that this season isn’t about satisfying material wants. More than anything, we want our kids to understand that we should appreciate each other, all that we have and help provide for someone less fortunate than ourselves.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the chaos of shopping and preparing for family and friends that we seem to run out of time and energy before we begin. But now, more than ever is when we want to think beyond our selves. I want our family to find joy in bringing smiles to other people’s faces, to spread happiness not as an obligation but because it teaches us something about humanity. The simple pleasure we find in giving and caring for others should fuel conversation and a willingness to keep giving back all year through
Here are some ways we plan to learn about gratitude this year:
1. Donate food and gently used clothing.
2. Pack up and donate gently used toys to a Toy Drive.
3. Participate in a “Giving Tree” from our local school.
4. Limit our Christmas list and ask for something that’s not for ourselves.
5. Have the kids participate in making gifts for family and friends.
Here are some ideas for older kids:
1. Donating your time at a Soup kitchen. Real people encourages real compassion.
2. Set a grocery budget (a less fortunate family might have) and have the kids shop for a meal. Make a list together beforehand and let them understand the compromises that will have to be made.
3. Help a local organization make Christmas baskets. Actively participate in giving back and show the spirit of giving.
What else would you add to our list?