My favorite moments with my baby are when I just lay next to her and watch as she discovers her fingers or gazes at the changing patterns of light on the ceiling. Once I make myself slow down and observe her, I am quickly reminded how fascinating and fleeting these quiet moments can be.
I recent read a post by 4th Trimester Bodies that really made me think about my own perception of the post baby body. I previously had desired to lose the baby fat as soon as possible after birth. With my son, this was a source of stress for me because I worked out 5 days a week and ate healthy but the weight stayed on until I was done breastfeeding. This second time around, I am mre able to relax about it. I know that I’ll loose the weight eventually. For now, I am in the season of breast feeding; my fat will be plump, my belly squishy like a pillow (as my son says) and my tight jeans will sit in the back of my closet for a bit longer. I am okay with that.
1. Always ask her (and me) before you touch her. This is important to establish now. Even though I am the one that gives permission at this point, children need to know that just because they CAN pick up or touch a baby with ease does not mean that it’s allowed. We are in charge of our own bodies as are others so we must respect this unseen boundary, even with the smallest beings.
2. Her favorite kind of play is when we sit and watch her quietly. It can be overstimulating for a small baby to have toys shaken in front of their face, or to be chatted at too loudly or too much. So in working with modeling quiet observation, we can better keep a quiet space and set up our older children to have reverence for the tiny moments that we would all miss if we interfered too much.
That’s it! Just those 2 simple rules for play that even my 2 year-old can remember. At first my daughter would just gaze at him in her sweet newborn way, but now at 12 weeks she smiles and babbles back to him. He has had such a good start for being gentle and observant with her that he will now tell me excitedly when she gets her hand in her mouth or grabs for a toy. It’s SUCH a joy to see my two great loves fall in love with each other, I could sit back and quietly observe them all day long. :)
By 3pm, I am about to crash and realize that I have not sat down and eaten a decent meal since breakfast. If I can remember to just snack all day, it may not be the best way to feel fully nourished, but it keeps me sane and able to handle the people in my life who depend on me. In this post by Summer Tomato, the hows and whys of snacking are laid out very helpfully. “Snacking should be a clearly defined occurring, not something that drags out over the course of hours. It helps if snacks come in defined quantities to prevent mindless eating.”
Here is a list of fast, on the go snacks that get me through the day:
Apples and almonds (super power food!)
String cheese and carrots
Hard boiled eggs
Celery and cream cheese with dates
Avocado on Rye crackers
AND my personal favorite, JUICE! I carry around a jar of fresh made vegetable juice all day and take big swigs when I feel my energy slipping.
Got a sweet tooth? I seem to have more of a sweet tooth now than I ever have before, mostly from being so tired with 2 kids to care for. Try these raw chocolate brownies!
• 1 cup of Prunes or pitted dates (moist)
• 0.5 cup raw Cacao
• 2 tablespoons virgin Coconut oil
• 1 cup Pumpkin seeds (make into a flour)
• 2.5 tablespoons Honey or Agave nectar
• 1/4 teaspoon real Vanilla
• 2 small pinches of Himalayan salt
Grind the Pumpkin seeds into a fine flour in a coffee grinder or blender. Put aside in a bowl. To the bowl add the dry ingredients (Cacao, Salt and Vanilla and stir by hand.) Add the moist Prunes to a food processor and process until you have a “prune-paste”. Put the paste in the bowl with the dry ingredients and add the Coconut oil and Honey/Agave to the bowl and start massaging with your hands until you have a dough ball.
Roll small balls of the dough, flatten them into patties and use a fork to make stripes. Eat them as they are or put them in the fridge to eat them cold.
Feel free to follow my Snacks Pinterest Board for regularly updated ideas.
My daughter was born on April 14th at home after a FAST and HARD labor of 5 hours. Things have been very challenging and joyous. :) I’m starting to get my bearings and soon I’ll be blogging regularly again. It’s my self-care/artistic outlet so I’m excited to share my journey with two.
My son is really enjoying his sister most of the time. He is very excited when he gets to see her. She sleeps most of the time so this is a rare treat for him. She has even smiled at him a few times.
My sweet little baby is very calm. More so than my son was as a baby. My assumption is that I am calm this time. Having a newborn this time is easy; it having a newborn AND a 2 year old that’s the challenge. I learn something new about this balance every day and am sure to keep track to share. :)
Hello my lovely readers. I’m 38 weeks pregnant and waiting patiently (kind of) for our new baby to come. I’ll most likely be taking a nice long hiatus from blogging, but I’ll be back once I’ve gotten a handle on … Continue reading
I’m in the process of mentally preparing for baby number 2, due in April. Part of this process is reading how I can support my baby’s sleep right from the start and avoid creating the type of bad habits I did with my son. We did so many things that I just don’t need (or want) to do next time; we bounced him for hours in the middle of the night, we shushed him when he cried, we rushed to even the tiniest of peeps (which turns out were just sleep noises) and I nursed him for hours and hours on end while he slept. Not only are these things unnecessary and habit forming as well as PREVENTING him from getting good sleep, but they will be impossible to do while I care for my 2.5 year old son along with our new baby. There ARE respectful ways to support infant sleep right from the start and I wanted to share my collection of these encouraging articles with you. I have also created a group on Facebook for Respectful Sleep Learning, which will be heavily moderated to make for a safe space for vulnerable, sleep-deprived mothers to seek help and support.
“There are, of course, a multitude of challenges that affect our sleep and our children’s sleep. At our parent meeting, we brainstormed a list of what hurts sleep:
- Lack of/ change in/ break in rhythm
- Sugar/ stimulating foods
- Late nights
- Too much to drink
- Fears (ex. dark, death, separation)
- Media/ screen time
- Loud noise/ unpredictable noise
- High activity
- Too much light
- Uncomfortable clothing (ex. itchy, too hot/ too cold)
- Eating too late
- Sleep deprivation
There are also lots of things we can do to help our children sleep. Here are some of the things we brainstormed at our meeting:
- Strong, stable rhythm
- Let the child know when it is almost time for the bedtime routine to begin (For example, sing a song as a cue and then begin the routine a few minutes later)
- Caregiving/ connection during bedtime routine
- Modeling our own enjoyment of sleep
- Creating a calm sleeping environment
- Warm bath
- Early bedtime
- Hot water bottle/ heat on belly at bedtime
- Calming or no scent
- Parents personal belief/ conviction that bedtime routine/ style is healthy for your child
- Transitional/ comfort items (ex. stuffed animal, blanket)”
Helping Babies Sleep (With Empathy And Compassion) – By Eileen Henry, guest post on Elevating Child Care
“The second thing I recommend is to try to distinguish between struggle and suffering in the child’s cries. Since struggle is inherent in all development, we can be confident that our child can develop a healthy relationship with struggle by allowing them to have their struggles. If at any time you hear what sounds like suffering, by all means go in and offer soothing and comfort to your child. We will always respond to suffering, but we can do so without “rescuing” or “fixing” the child’s sleep.”
“My magic secret to sleep is almost pathetically easy: I watch for when they’re tired, and then I put them to bed. I learned this “trick” from reading Magda Gerber’s book, Your Self-Confident Baby, and spending many hours with Janet Lansbury, both in person and on her blog. I feel a little silly this never occurred to me on my own. I was so wrapped up in making sure I comforted my children, and let them know I was there for them, and “helping” them go to sleep that I never realized I was in the way of letting them sleep on their own.”
The Importance of Self-Soothing to Infant Sleep (and how to support it!) – By Alice at Science of Mom
“When babies associate something like feeding, rocking, or bouncing with their transition to sleep, they often expect those same conditions when they wake during the night. All of us wake during the night – babies and adults alike. We check our surroundings to make sure everything feels right, and if it doesn’t, we go on alert. When Baby C was bounced to sleep, she woke 45 minutes later and everything felt wrong – she wasn’t bouncing anymore! She called for help, and, being good, responsive parents, Husband or I came running to see if she wanted to nurse, to change her diaper, to shush her, and then finally, to bounce her again so she could go back to sleep – often only to wake again 45 minutes later to repeat the whole process. This was not a very restful night of sleep for any of us. When a baby knows how to self-soothe and falls asleep independently, she wakes in the night, checks her surroundings, and finding nothing to be alarmed about, she goes back to sleep without needing our help.”
“Putting a newborn baby into bed – awake – several times each day and leaving it free to self-calm to sleep makes great sense to me. I fear that parents are made to feel so worried that if their baby ever cries or fusses long enough to practice self-calming, it will affect the attachment process or cause emotional problems later in life. It won’t. It doesn’t. This unfair fearmongering by some health professionals results in parents rushing to pick up a fussy baby way too fast, ruining baby’s chance to show what he could do for himself.”
“The fact is, there is no evidence whatsoever that occasional CIO in typically developing babies causes any damage. PERIOD. More importantly, there IS evidence that severely sleep-deprived mothers are at much higher risk of developing an already common –and dangerous — condition: postpartum depression. And PPD certainly CAN lead to long-term damage to both baby — and the entire family. CIO is a method that, when implemented thoughtfully, can often lead to improved sleep (and health and happiness) for everyone.” – Quote by Doctor Heather Wittenberg (in post)
“It’s my opinion that for most parents, the early days of parenthood would be much easier if healthy sleep patterns are introduced at a younger age. Other moms and dads come in with chronic pain caused by baby wearing or awkward positions while co-sleeping. Parents need to know that they should not be suffering at the price of practicing attachment parenting. Don’t get me wrong, the message here is not that one way is better than the other, but in fact, the opposite. Each baby has a unique temperament, and every child will respond differently to different methods. There is not one right way to parent a child. As such, each family needs to find the best methods that work for them.”
The Subtleties of Baby Sleep (4 Important Things To Know) – By Janet Lansbury at Elevating Child Care
“Babies can become unsettled and resist sleep if our attitude towards bedtime is pitying, as in “poor baby has to go sleep”; when we’re anticipating a battle, “uh-oh, this is going to be trouble”; or even when they sense our impatience, “you’re tired, so hurry up and go to sleep already!” These attitudes make it far more difficult for our baby to do his or her job, which is to relax and let go enough to let sleep happen.
The most important thing to know about sleep is the most important thing to know about parenting in general: Babies are aware and competent whole people. They are listening, noticing, absorbing, primed to learn about us and life through our every interaction, no matter how subtle, whether we want them to or not.”
Respectful Sleep Learning Series – By Tiffany at Tongonto.com (be sure to check out all three parts)
“The issue of infant sleep learning is not black and white. There are so many options between cry-it-out and doing nothing and no parent should be expected to sacrifice herself to prevent her child from ever experiencing discomfort or frustration. First, because it’s unreasonable, and second, because your children will experience frustration no matter how hard you try to keep it from them, but you all will handle it better if you are well rested. Read Part III of this series for more information on how to do respectful sleep learning.”
The Gift of Sleep Stories: A Compilation of MANY Moms Success Stories with Sleep Training – By Sydney at Learning Motherhood
“People imagine that we put our babies in bed and then walk away for hours refusing any help, food, soothing, and love of any kind. I know many mothers who have sleep trained and have never heard of such a thing. I don’t call this CIO because it’s not at all. We followed a method in the beginning and then adjusted as we listened and learned more about our son and his different cries. Once we learned to listen, our reactions changed to fit his needs. Most of the negative comments were about mis-informed mothers who were fearful of crying infants. I think this is the heart of the matter; we all have different views on crying. Crying is not as big of a deal as some of us think. It was this mis-information and fear-mongering about crying that actually stopped me from listening to my instincts about my son in the first place. It’s very important that that is heard so I’ll say it again: fear-mongering about crying actually stopped me from listening to my own instincts.
So I want to share some of those stories with you now. I want to be clear that I am not suggesting that this is a course of action for you. I’m ALL for co-sleeping (read my post about it) and Attachment Parenting(read that post here.) it’s just that babies and mothers are different and we all must choose what is right for our family life. My hope is simply to increase the support for mothers who do choose this path. I am suggesting that if you choose to do something like this that you talk to your baby about it then LISTEN. Really try and objectively listen as they will tell you so much more than you can imagine. Their cries are not just problems to be fixed; they are stories that they want you to hear. There will always be those who judge, so hopefully you can tune out those fearful voices and listen to you own.”
In this search on Janet’s site you will find so many great posts on the subject of supporting sleep, including: Helping Babies Sleep (With Empathy And Compassion) Guest Post by Eileen Henry, How To Help Your Baby To Sleep (Without Rocking), Baby’s “No Cry” Sleep Is Exhausting (More Wisdom From Eileen Henry) and Sleep on This.
I really hope that you find these resources helpful. Please share anything else that you have found to support your own journey in supporting you baby’s sleep.
Having a simple and tidy play space is not only important to me, but to my son as well. He is the kind of child that gets very easily over-stimulated when there is too much going on. So I have worked very hard to create a space that allows for independent and imaginative free play with as much order that can be hoped for when you live with a 2 year-old. I have also made sure that 99% of his toys are what Magda Gerber calls ‘passive objects'; “toys that don’t do anything. The toys respond only when the child activates them. In other words, our active child manipulates passive objects.” She applies this to babies but I feel that as they grow we must still work to keep toys very open-ended and simple to allow for more complex play. “When toys become complicated with microchips, flashing lights, and sound effects, children are easily mesmerized. Trouble is, the more the toy can do, the less the child can do.” (Read more about this from Katy at Family Education.com)
1. Keep the space simple; less is more.
Here’s an example of our playroom space. I have drawing items (crayons and paper), a train set, little peg people, animals and a castle, and a shelf of various cars. On the other side of his room I have a shelf of books, some nature items (shells, pinecones, etc), a basket of apple branch blocks and some old sheets to make forts or use as capes. This does not look or sound like much, but with the fewer options it is actually easier for a child to make a choice for play and stick with it. Especially if you have a child that is prone to overstimulation.
A play space is also an area that you will be best free of adult clutter. Less pictures on the wall, less noise and less artificial light. Try and find a space (if you can) that is full of natural light and away from busy street sounds. I am lucky that the playroom is in the back of our house and we have about an ache of undeveloped land behind us; a rarity in Portland! We hardly need to turn on the lights and we can hear the birds chirping through the open windows.
2. Create an organized back up with overflow toys.
In his closet I have various toys that can be taken out when he wants more; all he has to do is ask and then I open the closet for him to choose his toys. Among the basic overflow of extra simple toys, there are toys in here with more pieces that would become a disaster if left out all of the time such as puzzles and legos. This is also a good way to keep toy rotation in order. About once every month I rotate which toys stay out regularly. So for now it’s trains and play people and next month it may be tools and play kitchen items. Kara Fleck from Simple Kids writes: “We rotate books and toys because I feel like rotating allows us to have less toys but enjoy them more.” Check out her post on toy rotation for lots of great ideas.
I don’t have a rule about how much stuff he can have out but if it seems like too much, I will observe and see if there is something that I could put back. Because he likes a bit more simplicity, he usually limits this to one to two things on his own. Often times if it seems like a big mess, it might be an elaborate play that we can’t comprehend, so best to be hesitant before rushing in to clean up before we have carefully observed.
3. Only put out what YOU are willing to clean up.
This is where the simple play space and minimal extra toys will serve YOU as well as your child. Less toys and more organization means less work for you to clean up.
It can be quite challenging to urge a small child to clean up their play space. They don’t want to because it’s nice to see all of their hard work out on display. With my own child, I will offer that he keep a few of his most special things (often a block tower or a line of cars) in a safe space for later. I clean up and invite him to help me. I do not push it, because pushing it will make most children resist, especially at that young of an age. Cleaning up with your children is a process that takes grace. Here are Five Tips to Getting Kids to Help With Clean Up, by The Awake Parent. It is perfectly acceptable to strive for a 3 year old to clean up their toys, it just takes work and patience.
I would love to hear your thoughts on managing toys. What have you found that works for your family? Here’s my son playing in his “special house,” one of his favorite things, and all he needs is an old sheet and his imagination. What simple things inspire your own child’s creativity?
There is absolutely nothing funny about these memes. When I first share this sentiment I am often met with a ‘stop being so serious’ response or called ‘too sensitive’. That only shows me that there’s little hope as those that call me this cannot even see the validity of an adult peers feelings. So instead of scoffing at those of us who are hurt by this, perhaps listen.
My issue with these memes and posts are not just the act of laughing about our kids throwing fits or even about when we take photos of them occasionally. Yes, we need to blow off steam and having a laugh at the end of the day away from our children is different. We are not making fun of them to their faces; we are laughing about the sometimes almost impossible situations of surviving being a parent. We are not saying that our children are ridiculous, but that these situations are humorously, insanely challenging.
The larger issue with this is that it perpetuates the whole culture around laughing at children having emotions. Like the video of the child crying in reaction to an emotional movie or the memes that pop up all over or that guy on tumbler that went viral and made the news. (I’m not going to link them because why give them the traffic? I’ll post in comments if people really want them) It has become this fun trend to follow in those footsteps and humiliate our own children. People jump on the bandwagon without thinking about the consequences. I’ve seen this so many times while working in mainstream day cares and preschools. Small children just sobbing and day care workers standing there laughing because it’s funny that a child would be upset that his spoon is the wrong color. Then being scolded by ‘more experienced’ teachers for essentially following my instinct and comforting a child. When I see memes like this I don’t just see the meme but I see all of the other times that a parent might make fun of their child when unhappy. I’ve talked to other RIE and Waldorf minded early childcare professionals about this who have the same reaction because we have seen this in real life so many times. It actually hurts our hearts.
I was called to be an early childhood practitioner because I DO have an instinct to protect and care for young children; to empathize on their level and understand what some cannot. From seeing what these children experience, I can assure you that they DO feel pain and shame when laughed at for having feelings. It may seem like a trivial situation to us, but it MATTERS to them and I guarantee that they are completely aware of these photos being taken and the sentiment behind them. “Your feelings are so intense for no reason. Your feelings do not matter because you are a small child. Your feelings are silly and not worth my effort.” As an EC professional I am constantly striving to help parents understand that their children’s emotions are important and that we can work WITH them to listen, discuss and resolve issues. This will bring them closer to their children and help raise a more confidant and self-aware human being. Every time I see a meme like this it’s as if all of this work that I, and many others like myself, have done is lost and we have to start from square one again.
So next time you think about laughing at or sharing one of these memes or videos, think about how YOU would feel if it was done to you. No? Wouldn’t like it? Perhaps you think it’s different because it’s a child? I’ve heard that before and there’s the point! It is no different. Your feelings matter and so do the feelings of our littlest members of society.
Do you know what I find to be an acceptable alternative? The written post about Why My Three Year Old is Freaking Out. Why? Because I can imagine that in the moment the parent WAS present and empathetic. Why is your child actually freaking out? Because being a child is hard and they are calling out for love and support. We stay present with them and take them seriously; trying our best to carry them through the very challenging years of childhood. Above all, we do not take pictures and laugh at them.
If you would like some further reading on handling big emotions respectfully, you may find these articles helpful:
Here are some similar posts by parents/teachers that feel the same.
So I really could care less about having my 2.5 year old son out of diapers anytime soon. It’s just not something I care about because I know it will happen eventually. Some children (like mine) get attached to their own pee and poop as it is THIERS and simply throwing this away or flushing it down the toilet can be very upsetting. They have to be ready to let that go on their own time.
So here’s the thing: he’s not even IN a diaper half of the day; this realization snuck up on me.
We were outside one day and I noticed that on the calm days where we are at home just me and him, he uses the potty or pees outside. A thought came to me: he is working his own way out of diapers!
How did this happen? Well, he hates having his diaper changed. Always has. So about 6 months ago we started talking to him about how if he pees and poops in the potty, he doesn’t have to wear a diaper. At first during his ‘naked butt time’ he did pee on my floor. I cleaned it up and didn’t make a thing out it it because it didn’t bother me. I just told him that if he was going to choose to go naked, he had to try and put the pee in the potty or just wear a diaper.
Then one day he was washing dishes in the next room and I hard him jump off of his stool and run into the potty to pee! He was very excited. As was I because that’s less floor pee to clean up. We said goodbye to the pee and flushed it away.
So this is where we are at now. He always gets to choose a diaper or naked time (or just pants outside) and then will use the toilet pretty much all on his own without prompts. The reason why this has gone so smoothly and snuck up on me is that I have been super chill about it. No times potty breaks or underpants. No bribes or special songs. Just a relaxed attitude about his potty habits.
I have no idea what will happen as far as naps, night time or outings go. So I intend to patient and follow his lead. He and my instincts will know when it’s time to move on. This is his process and I am here to support him.