Three Year Old Thoughts

Somehow Sweetpea is three now! I’m finding a lot of the things I wanted her to internalize…she has.  Which is good! It’s great until she uses the same logic, words, thoughts back to you.   This is great!  So when I’m all piping mad about something, having the where with all to hear her say “Mommy, belly breathe.”….Yes that’s what I want you to do too big girl.  So lead by example Mommy.  Anyhow, I wanted to tack on some new-ish thoughts I have on parenting (in addition to my Two Year Old Words).

1. Options

I like the idea of presenting Sweetpea with options.  Life has options right? — so you should be able to make good decisions based off of the options in front of you.  Well…sometimes you really have to wear your jacket because it’s just cold out and you WILL get sick.  I could go for the she’ll figure out the consequence route but sometimes I really don’t want to give her an option.  So we’ve started instituting “sometimes there are options but sometimes there are none. ” So I tell Sweetpea, if I say “can you” or “would you like to” or any other such open ended statement…you have the option of choosing.  If I tell you “Sweetpea go do X”…there is no option.  You will do X.  Why? Because I told you to.  I will give you three seconds to decide to do X.  If you don’t do X, then……….I’m still working on the then part.  But it usually means things like “you will not get the treat you want.” I’ve started thinking about this no option element because sometimes in life an authority figure will tell you to do something.  You can question it, ask why, but if you want to do something…you pretty much have to do it.

2. Decisions

I really want Sweetpea to make her own decisions.  She should think through her decisions and be proud of them.  I have a problem with indecisiveness.  Make a decision and move forward.  If your decision was a bad one, learn from it.  So in conjunction with the above option route, if you make a decision…either own it or learn from it.  Goodness that sounds harsh.  I want her to make strong decisions.  Thinking through the consequence of your decision is important.  You can make good decisions (that aren’t ours either).  Take pride in your thoughts and be you.

3. Who is in Charge?

This has been a big one over the last six months.  Sweetpea is an independent little lady who likes to tell people what to do and parent other children.  If someone sets a rule, she will ENFORCE it.  We’ve talked about who is in charge…You can ask Sweetpea “Who is in charge?”…She will say “I am in charge of me and Mommy/Daddy are also in charge of me.” (When she’s mad at me she’ll say Daddy…).  So we’ve tried to stress if another friend is doing something they’re not supposed to do…it’s not your job to correct them.  Sometimes when she doesn’t want to follow the “order” mentioned in #1 of this post, I’ll ask her “Sweetpea, who is in charge.” That’s usually when I get “Daddy”…So we talk about it and then we work through the frustration of being told what to do…and she does what she needs to do.

4. Respect

I really think it’s a two way street.  As Sweetpea has become more capable in verbalizing her thoughts and feelings, I feel that giving her room to be herself is imperative.  To me, this means that when she has a thought or something to share, it’s important that she share them and be heard.  However, we’re working on not interrupting.  I…am the worst at that.  It’s extremely rude!  So we say “Excuse me” and wait.  Sometimes this means she says “Excuse me” fifty times to someone who isn’t listening…I think being heard is important (as is standing up for yourself when someone isn’t listening).  Someone can be me, George, a friend…It’s a matter of giving and receiving respect.  We’re all working on this.

5. Compromise and Whining

I REALLY hate whining.  I hate the “pa-leeeeeeeeeaaaaaassssssssseee”.  No.  If you want something and I say yes…well be patient.  This means if I say no, I really have to mean it.  A “no” needs to be reasonable, defensible and logical.  So I have to think through what I say yes or no to.  It takes a minute!  So she’ll work herself up over something and start whining.  I look at her and say “ok let’s start over.”  She’ll raise up on her tip toes, calm down, and say “Mom, it really means a lot to me to have Y.” (It is usually yogurt and after 3-4 servings…you really need to have something else!)  So then I institute a redirection or compromise.  Compromising is a good concept I think but sometimes I think I’ve taken it too far.  I’m still working on what this means.  Basically sometimes we can compromise, but sometimes it’s just not an option.  We’ve really tried to focus on when to compromise and when not to.

7. Name that emotion!

I think being able to describe your emotions is healthy.  So we’ve spent time trying to describe how finishing a puzzle makes us feel, or how stubbing our toe….Maybe I’m wrong but I think when you’re able to relate to your emotions it’s good.  I’d rather her be able to say what is wrong rather than blow up over everything that doesn’t make sense.

8. Hey! You did exactly what I wanted you to do!!

It’s equally important to me that she be able to be proud of herself and accomplish things.  Our struggle of late has been “I can’t I can’t I can’t.”  I’m not sure where it’s coming from.  So I try to sit down next to her and help her solve her problems.  Our latest one has been putting her shoes on.  She’s more than capable of putting them on herself.  So I’ve found that my little lady needs to be shown things (which is completely the opposite of who I was as a child).  So I try to breathe, and help her put on her shoes and then say “SEE!!! You can do hard things can’t you!” Then I ask her how it makes her feel and we go on with our day.  Maybe she just needs the extra attention.

7. TV

This one is difficult for me.  I didn’t have a TV growing up (until the age of 12ish).  I think creativity and activities are important.  I’m trying to work on a sense of balance.  So we’ve come up with the rule of Saturday and Sunday you can watch TV.  Sommmetimes during the week we watch Daniel Tiger as well.  But I think the key is to remember moderation.

8. Screen Time

Another tricky and contentious topic.  At the end of the day, laptops, tablets, phones (and who knows what she’ll have) will be part of her life.  I don’t think she should spend hours with a tablet/phone/whatnot, but I do think that having the opportunity to play here and there with one is probably important too.  If anything I’m worse than she is.  So I need to temper my own screen time.  We’ve invested a few dollars (less than $10) in some aps that seem to be good.  We like Luminosity and Daniel Tiger games so far.  I also downloaded a logic game and a drawing letters game both of which she loves.  So I just try to guide the screen time experience. Balance.

9. Sugar

Something I also struggle with is my own sugar intake…So in an effort to teach balance and moderation, we talk about having 3 sweets a day.  I’m thinking of purchasing a food pyramid and trying to use that to gauge balance.  Maybe that’s over the top but it will help me also follow what she’s eaten in a day.  I more or less count calories for her so I’m on top of whether she will be hungry (read sleep through the night or not) or not.  So in an effort to make sure it’s a balance, I’ve been thinking of getting a poster so she can look at it and try to learn to moderate her own diet.  I figure it’s important to start young.

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New Years Resolution: Do Nothing (ish)

Does your significant other do things that just make no sense to you?  George over the last (goodness) 12 and a half years has sent me articles upon articles to read.  It probably has taken me about 10-12 of those years to realize that this was a way we can connect with each other and discuss cool ideas, thoughts, news, life.  So needless to say, I’ve religiously started reading them and commenting on them.

One such article was www.cnn.com/2015/12/28/health/healthy-foods-differ-by-individual/index.html.  We both want to live a healthy, organized, happy life but often opt for laziness (which includes chocolate, Doritos, ignoring the dishes…)–because after a long stressful day the last thing you want to do is be accountable or disciplined.  This particular article had one line that really resonated with me :”try to disrupt your environment, even just a little bit.”

DSC_0015
I can make small changes!

I even like the picture for this post.  It’s so representative of what I want to do this next year: how about cropping it, centering it, taking the time to make it a really good image.

Small changes 2016!

It’s Been a Minute!

We recently moved from our fun city-town to new country-town.  This new, wondrous, scary, different, amazing, curious place has had me spinning since the move process started.  But we’re settled now!

I plan on learning how to It's Been a Minute!cook with a pressure cooker soon (sale notice compliments of http://www.mamainsticts.com). Sweetpea started Montessori preschool, I now work part time, and baby-to-be is doing great!    I’ve started freezing new slow cooker recipes so I’m hoping to post a bunch of winners soon!  We recently tried a slow cooker Strogonoff…it was good but just not Strogonoff.  So back to the drawing board on that one.   More to come!

Two Year Old Words

I realized recently that what is happening today with our little lady will be forgotten in time.  I wanted to write about some of the decisions we have made about our Sweetpea.  This post is for me to reflect on where I feel we are in the realm of parenting.  We are not perfect but we’re trying to thoughtfully make decisions.

So discipline.  I struggle with the concept of discipline for our independent, curious, smart, strong willed little lady.  I tend to think of discipline and parenting like a riverbed.  This riverbed in my mind’s eye has definite banks that prevent water from going over them.  It is possible for the water to go outside of the banks, but in general the water follows the path set in front of it.  The manner in which the water gets from point a to point b is not something that truly concerns me as long as water does not slosh over the predetermined banks.  So the parallel to discipline is I try to set rules that are the banks. Thou shalt not cross over them.  But the consequence is….? I truly have not been able to answer that yet.  I believe there is a major move either to spank and also another major move not to.  I tend towards the: not to.  So in an effort to help our little lady stay within her bounds we have a couple rules and phrases to reinforce concepts.

Rules: 

1. No Means No.

This means when I say no, I have to really think through the “no” and then defend it.  I’m not always great at this so it is a challenge to me to maintain consistency and have reasoning behind why I am saying no.  For example, recently we were at a red light and Sweetpea had dropped something in the car while buckled into her carseat.  She asked me to pick it up.  I absentmindedly stated that I could not pick it up.  Her response was, “We at red light.  We can pick things up at red lights.” — echoing words I had said in the past.  Touche little lady.  I try to subscribe to the idea that just because it’s difficult or more work for me to think through my thoughts, decisions, actions, that should not matter.  A thoughtful decision should stand.

2. Yes Means Yes!

I truly hate whining.  I think it is annoying and just awful.  So when Sweetpea asks for X and I say yes.  And then asks for X again within two seconds.  I stop and explain to her that Mommy said yes but sometimes we have to wait for X.  So please be patient and then you will have X.

3. Stop Means Stop.   <<<Pretty Pretty Pretty Please!!!!>>>

We are working on this one.  I REALLY want her to stop when I say stop.  She gets this about 50% of the time.  I try to use Stop in the realm of you’re about to get hit by a car kind of concept.  Sometimes we get it…sometimes we don’t.  So as my mother used to say, it’s water on the stone.  I’m hoping this one sticks sooner rather than later.

Phrases To Reinforce Concepts:

1. Listening Ears:

Daycare taught me this one.  The child turns on their ears by physically putting their fingers near their ears to simulate turning on their ears (or turning a dial or flipping a light switch).  I feel it’s another way of saying you need to listen to me, are you listening?  This has been an invaluable tool.  Situations often go like this: “Sweetpea we are going to go to the park.  When we get to the park, will you have your listening ears on?” She decides.  Usually yes seeing as she wants to go to the park.  We get to the park and her favorite trick is to runaway.  So she runs away.  I run after her.  She thinks it’s hilarious.  I catch up with her (out of breath) and sit down with her and we have a serious conversation about listening ears.  Something on the order of, “When we came to the park we agreed you would have listening ears.  I see that running away looks like great fun but I asked you to listen and I see that you have not listened.  You have two options: keep your listening ears on or we leave.  And by keeping your listening ears on, that means I need you to stop when Mommy asks you to stop. What would you like to do.” She then states she does want to have listening ears on and so it continues.  Note: this example I do feel that I might need to leave the park because I did ask her to have them on and she did not.  So maybe this example is not good but the point is having her listen to me.  I do think this is an area I need to improve on for myself. If I said something I need to stick with it.

2. Focusing Feet:

I feel as though my mornings have alot of intensity to them as do my evenings.  Focusing feet is my way of saying pay attention to where you are walking because we need to stay focused to stay on track.

3. Respectful Voices:

I really like this one.  I got this one from my very good friend and mother of four.  There are times when I get screamed at by our lovely Sweetpea.  Usually around something she wants intensely, like a cracker or a toy or some other item of imperative importance.  So what usually happens is we are driving home, and she wants something.  Rather than saying, “May I please have X” sometimes it comes out as “MOMMY, I WANT X.” To which I reply “Oh my, those are not respectful voices, when you have respectful voices and can ask nicely I can listen to you, but when you yell at Mommy I cannot respond to you.”  She continues to yell for a couple minutes about “X!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” To which I say, “I will not respond to you until you have respectful voices.” So she continues to yell and usually realizes she is getting no where.  The minute she says “Mommy, may I have X please.” I respond and usually give her what she wants.

4. You Can Do Hard Work:

(Also from my good friend mentioned above) Maybe I am wrong but I don’t think there is a switch that happens in life where someone goes from being a child/teen to an adult.  There is no ceremony really that says okay you now have confidence, independence, decision making skills and an ability to think for yourself.   So I try really hard to reinforce to her that she CAN do difficult tasks.  There are times she will be working on something and will be struggling on it (but I know that I have seen her do it or I believe the task is within her abilities).  When I see this, I try to say her I believe in you Sweetpea, I know you can do hard work.  Sometimes she will respond with but I am frustrated.  So I tell her okay then try wiggling it or turning it you can do hard things.  I find that she will watch something I do and then imitate.  I really don’t want to foster a “I give up the minute I confront perceived difficulty.”  I truly want to foster concentration skills, thoughtful consideration, and problem solving skills.  I do let her know if she needs help, that I am here to help.  So when she gets frustrated, I tell her, “If you need help you need to ask me for help.”  I don’t mean to say I just let her struggle, but I try to build her confidence in herself that she can do difficult tasks.

5. Hug It Out:

This is about 2 days old for us.  Recently I forget what our issue was but both Sweetpea and I were frustrated over something.  I forget what the something was.  So I told her we should hug it out so we could just get over our respective frustrations for each other and move on with a clean slate.

6. You Can Do ________:

I am trying to erase “DON’T DO THAT” from my vocabulary.  Instead, I try to say “You CAN hold my hand when we cross the street” or “You CAN put a little salt on your vegetables” and such.  I think having a positive boundary instead of a negative one is so strong.

7. I am so glad you made a decision that makes you happy:

I think decision making skills are extremely important.  We do subscribe to the concept of options.  So when presented with a behavior that is frustrating etc., we often say something like “You can either have listening ears or we are going to leave.” She often chooses what is more advantageous to her which is also usually what I want her to do.  We are trying to avoid praising her alignment with what we said to do and celebrate her ability to make a decision.  I just don’t want her to be 15 and choosing what someone said to do instead of choosing what she thinks was the better decision.

8. I have a Compromise/Deal for you:

This one comes from my mother. Life happens where we both want to do something or go somewhere and something is going to have to give.  Of late this usually revolves around treats.  I do not want her to eat chocolate, candies and treats all day every day.  So she might ask for just that.  I look at her and tell her “Ok, I have a compromise.  I see you want to have chocolate/candies/treats, if that is something you would like to have I need you to eat your dinner (or this portion of your dinner) first and then you may have one piece of chocolate.” I must use this enough because she recently told me “Mommy I have compromise you.” I looked at her and said, “Ok and what is your compromise?”….”I wear flip-flops.” I looked at her and thought well there’s no harm in flip-flops right now so this does not need to be world war 3 so we decided this was fine as long as she had listening ears….

9. Opening Doors

This is more of a concept.  Our little lady seems to want to read.  She oftentimes picks up books and gets frustrated and states “I can’t do it.” So we purchased some first time reading books (she loves them).  I feel that instead of waiting for the child to verbalize “May I have some reading books.” It is important for me to pay attention and look for clues and try to solve/anticipate next steps instead of waiting for the door to be knocked on.  I might miss the knock.  I also don’t want to negatively pressure her into going through doors when she isn’t ready or interested.  So I think this one is a delicate balance.

10. Pausing to Teach

I feel giving her the tools to do what she can is important but so is recognizing when she could use some coaching.  I’m not amazing at this but it’s something I working on doing.  I never wanted to be told what to do and so I tend to expect her to be the same.  I have to train myself that she is clearly not me (nor do I want her to be) so therefore I need to be sensitive to her needs.

Things I’m thinking about: 

1. Telephone Calls – How to ensure when I am on the phone Sweetpea does not feel left out or ignored

2. Conversations – Learning how to respect when others are talking

3. What does it mean to have a special day – If it’s someone else’s birthday should Sweetpea get a trinket too (so as not to feel left out or upset)?….I’m tending towards no but I am thinking on this one.

4. Space – Is it a good thing to allow someone space when they ask for space (even if they are 2.5 years old).

5. What do I do when Sweetpea actually pushes over those banks.  Life does, in fact, have rules and if you break them you can go to jail/receive fines etc etc.

6. What to do when Sweetpea completely acts out in front of other people and is completely rude and difficult.

Apparently I had a few things to say.

Free Range Mama(?)

Supporting Growth is Important
 Supporting Growth is Important (To Me)

There is one thing in this world that I am not a fan of and that is “definitions”.  I’ll go down the litany my 80s childhood fit into: organic, unschooled, vegetarian, catholic, breastfed, attachment parenting, stay at home mom (my mom’s article from 20+ years ago), older parents….in each “definition” I think there is a tendency to be wedded to one concept and not stray from it.  This inherently bothers me.  I believe in moderation.  I believe in finding your own way. I believe in creating wide boundaries and enforcing them (I haven’t figured out how to enforce them yet but we’ll figure that out).

~Side tangent, I think the rules might be 1) no means no, 2) yes means yes, and 3) stop means freeze/don’t move/danger-so-therefore-stop.~

So this last week when my mother-in-law got out a sticker book and showed by daughter were things were supposed to go, I stood back and watched Sweetpea thrive under her guidance.  I stood there thinking well shucks, I guess I’ve found a new avenue or definition to get rid of.

As a stubborn, independent person who demanded respect at 5, I never wanted to be told what to do.  Never.  The typical story where my mother tried to teach me and I looked at her like she was nuts.  Clearly what could a mother teach me!

****NEWS FLASH****

My daughter is not me.  She has a lot of my tendencies but she is also my husband and her own person. So watching Sweetpea excited to match the egg sticker with the eggs in the sticker book gave me insight into who she is(?).  Lesson learned (again): don’t set a definition on someone! It might not be right.

I Not A Kid Mommy

I saw a glimpse of myself recently.  I must have mentioned the word kid or Sweetpea must of heard it that day or was reflecting on the concept of “kid”. Out of the blue, Sweetpea looked at me and stated “I not a kid Mommy.”  I thought this would be coming soon.  Apparently I had a similar epiphany around the same age (“I my known person mommy”- me 31 years ago).  I looked her with so much pride.  She clarified, “I a big girl Mommy.”

I Can Do It
I Can Do It

I stood looking at my daughter telling, asking, pleading, that I respect her for who she is as a person.  Memories of adults dismissing me as a child flashed before my eyes.  I remember wishing evil on people who didn’t treat me like a person.  Some people say I was never a child.  I never thought I was.  I was a person.  A person to be listened to or atleast considered.

I looked at my daughter, thought of her independence, thought of her confidence and all I could think of was pride. I hope I can do half of what my own mother did.  She did not break my spirit.  I hope to re-enforce and help our daughter grow as a person.

One…Two…Three…Four…Matching Style

Or rather…4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. Said with the most pride possible. Who could correct that! Excellent counting Sweetpea! I am so glad you are interested in your numbers! I say. As Sweetpea taught Kitty Bear how to count, I thought of a new game!

Use Paper Towels!
Use Paper Towels!

Using 5 paper towels, we wrote the numbers 1-5 and also some correlating circles. Then the goal was that we put the circle from our count game on the right paper towel. Sweetpea sort of got the idea but was more or less excited to hop on the towels. In the end it’s about exploration, learning, and curiosity (in my opinion). She has since asked to do “Counting” several times so I’m excited!

I am trying to remember if I did this or she did. Probably me.  It's the goal :)
I am trying to remember if I did this or she did. Probably me. It’s the goal 🙂

Wholesome Living: Finding Balance