Archive for August, 2013

On The Move

Friday, August 30th, 2013

From Friday Mom – Erin:
Rory has started scooting across the floor this week. But he hasn’t done it by army crawl, normal crawl, or anything really resembling a crawl at all. Instead, he has started scooting across the floor in a seated position. He’ll occasionally lean forward, as though he is going to put his hands down and crawl. But more often, he bounces across the floor by stretching out his legs in a seated position and then pulling them back in to propel his body forward. It looks as awkward as it sounds, but it gets him where he is trying to go.

True to form, Rory’s newfound mobility has been causing trouble at bedtime. When he is in his crib trying to fall asleep at night, he’s capable of getting up on his hands and knees. He pushes up, wobbles from side to side, collapses back down, and then tries it all again. It’s fascinating to watch on his video monitor. He’s been doing it off and on for a couple weeks now. However, this week was the first we’d seen any consistent movement outside of the comfort of his crib.

I’m hoping that the scooting gives way to a more “traditional” crawl soon, because I have also seen him start trying to pull up –whether it be on a nearby toy, pillow, or even mommy’s leg. I know I don’t get to control whether he crawls or walks first, but I’d be very thankful if he went the more conventional route. Luckily for us, whichever route he chooses, he at least appears to be in the early stages of mobility. So perhaps we’ll have at least one relatively calm weekend left before the baby-proofing begins in earnest.

Night Night!

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
We have a pretty regular and timely evening bath-to-bedtime routine that gives our children time to wind down and approach their bedtime calmly. Jack has never fought his bedtime, so we thought we had a good system.  Tate has his own idea of what bedtime means. For him, it means, “one more book” or “lie with me mommy” or repeatedly sneaking out of his room after bedtime. Tate’s willingness to go to bed is directly related to his activity level throughout the day. Obviously, if he is tired he usually goes to bed more easily. However, even the busiest day at school does not guarantee a non-combative bedtime.

If Tate is really tired he can be downright mean.  I’m sure his age/personality plays a large role in this issue. Resisting his bath and/or refusing to brush his teeth, get dressed, put his shoes on or even getting in the car can be exhausting day after day after day.  By 8 pm I am tired too, and I don’t have the patience I had earlier in the day.  So when Tate throws a fit at bedtime it is very difficult to be a “model” parent.  When a tantrum happens before bedtime, his chances of waking up during the night or extremely early the next morning are high.  This seems to create a cycle leading to a cranky boy who isn’t willing to respond to our requests throughout the day.  Luckily, my husband is very helpful in the evenings, especially when negotiating with a stubborn preschooler.  Needless to say, this is one of many reasons I dread when he goes out of town for work.

Over the last three years, Tate’s sleeping needs have changed.  It took him months to sleep through the night.  His naps faded away early.  Currently, he doesn’t need a regular nap anymore.  However,  when Tate and I pick Jack up everyday from school, Tate almost always falls asleep.  I try to play loud music or talk to him as much as possible.  His big blue eyes get heavy and he falls asleep mid conversation. If we were at home he would be running and playing with his toys.  We have to be careful to not let him sleep too much during the day or he will constantly resist his bedtime.  I’ve read books/articles on sleeping patterns and ways to help your child sleep.  Nothing seems to work.  I know other parents face this exhausting issue as well.  Please comment with ideas if you are aware of a miracle fix!  If you can’t tell by my tone, I just finished a long bed time process.

As kids get older they eventually (I’m hoping) adapt so we carry-on with our lives.  Some nights our kids go to bed on their own and some nights it takes extra effort on our part. But no matter what, we always finish the evening with a big bedtime hug and kiss from mom and dad.  That affection helps me get through these rough bedtime routines.


Family Friends

Monday, August 26th, 2013

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
My parents came to the US from India about five years before I was born. What is really cool about my upbringing is that it effortlessly melded together my Indian roots and my American identity. Immigrant families assimilate to varying degrees and in different ways. My family managed to acclimate to American life handily while retaining strong connections to Indian culture, language and food. One way we were able to achieve this was through relationships with what are usually known as “family friends.”

I think of family friends as two or more families in which all of the adults are friends, so the entire crew, children included, spend a lot of time together. The town I grew up in happens to have a significant Indian American population, and many of us knew each other socially. To this day, many of my close friends are from this pool, and our moms and dads are good friends too. It’s like having second family. Sometimes these makeshift families can get competitive as is human nature, but when times are tough you can really see how much we all care about each other. A few years ago I had a tiff with a friend that lasted for months. Even in the midst of it, I knew her family would do anything for mine and vice versa.

I think of myself still as the “kid” in the family friend equation. Yet recently I’ve been thinking about all of the good friends I’ve made over the years, particularly since college. When we were in our early twenties, we were just figuring out who we were. But now, we’re moving up in our careers, getting married, having children, worrying about our own parents. And through it all, we are there for each other. Our children are meeting and bonding, too. Lo and behold, my own little family as family friends, and I’m the adult here! Nothing has made me feel more grown up that this. Haley, not me, is the one being thrown into friendships because my old pal has a “kid your age.” It’s mind-boggling to think that these relationships are being passed down to another generation. When I think about what I want out of life, this is a big part of it. I hope we can make these connections last, and that Haley will continue to have both family and friends that have known her forever and will care for her always.

Little Fish

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

From Friday Mom – Erin:
Rory finishes his five-week series of swimming lessons at the local YMCA this weekend. As I mentioned in this post , my husband and I both started swimming at a very early age (and continued swimming well into our college years). We continually promise one another that we will let Rory choose which sports he wants to play or be involved in. In other words, we don’t want to pressure him into a sport of our own choosing.  We want him to decide.  But we also wanted to be certain that he is comfortable in the water. So we enrolled him in parent-child lessons this summer.

Rory has spent the majority of his lesson each Sunday morning staring intently at his instructor—a sixty-something woman in a wet-suit who belts out the same songs, in the same order, each week. The parents start out walking in circles while the kiddos gnaw on rubber duckies. Then the babies spend some time sitting on the wall practicing kicks. We swap out the ducks for balls, the balls for frogs, the frogs for motor boats, and the motor boats for watering cans. We practice floating, bobbing up and down, and putting our faces in while singing songs and reciting nursery rhymes.

Rory seems to like his lessons, but he is usually more interested in watching everyone else than in trying to kick his legs or blow bubbles. I’d hoped he would be a little more engaged, but I think the sensory overload is almost too much for him to handle. He loves splashing around, and is usually all-smiles before, during, and after his lesson. I guess that means he is enjoying himself. We’re planning to take a brief break in the early fall, but hope to get him enrolled in another session this winter and I look forward to continuing to take him to the indoor pool near our house throughout the year.

Pre-K Three

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
Tate has moved up to the three-year-old class at his pre-school. Things have changed from last year. All children must try to attend five days a week and be fully potty trained, no exceptions. There is more structure and curriculum throughout the school year.   Also, children are held to a higher disciplinary standard, as Tate found out on day one when he didn’t want to share.  We are working on this at home, and I’m happy to hear his teacher is enforcing school rules.  Tate got to sit and think about it in time out. We know Tate’s teacher from last year, and we are more than happy with her teaching style.

We chose the preschool because Tate’s big brother is an alumnus and he was well prepared for kindergarten last year.  We are familiar with the director and teachers. There is an excellent balance between Tate’s education and his social development with other kids his age. Best of all, there is a healthy dose of fun activities that we can’t always provide here at home, such as school programs, parades, parties and other special occasions.

We are already collecting Tate’s artwork and projects from class.  It’s amazing how much his skills have improved over the summer.  I love listening to him sing songs from music class and tell me what book he read at story time.  One of my favorites is seeing how much progress he is making at writing his name and other letters on worksheets he brings home.

As a stay-at-home mother, I am getting a couple hours every weekday with no kids. I know it sounds selfish, but I am glad to have some time to myself in the mornings. I am trying to exercise, run errands and be productive around the house so when it’s time to pick up the kids from school I’m ready to play and focus my attention on them.  I honestly feel when the kids get a break from me they are willing to do more of what is asked of them.  Seeing Tate run to meet me when I pick him up from school is a nice reward for making the most of my mornings.   I know he is going to have a fun year ahead, especially when he wakes up in the morning and asks to go to school.


Tough Love

Monday, August 19th, 2013

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
Last week, I wrote about my plans to leave Haley at the gym daycare while I exercise. I was stunned when I first took her there. She started playing with toys, I kissed her goodbye, and she had no reaction at all. She was completely fine. When I returned, the caregivers said she was great and happy the whole time. Of course, she remembered I promised her a treat from McDonald’s and cashed in immediately on that. To say I was thrilled is an understatement.

The next day, the same thing happened. Haley was well behaved and content and I got in another productive workout. On Day 3, everything changed! Haley clung to me when I went to drop her off. The main caregiver, Miss Diana, was stunned. “That’s a first!” she said. I tried leaving for ten minutes. It was hard to walk out with her screaming and crying while I pulled her off of me. When I came back, she was still crying! She said she wanted me to play with her “for five minutes.” For the next half hour, I chatted with the caregivers as there were no other children at the day care during the slot and it was actually quite fun. But Haley didn’t let me leave and I didn’t exercise.

When we said goodbye, Miss Diana said that next time I should sign in, say goodbye and promptly walk out. Even though I know it will be hard, I also know she is right. Even if she cries the whole time I’m gone, if I keep going every day, she will get used to it. Intellectually, it seems so simple to understand that kids are resilient and will adapt as necessary. Practically, it is very painful to know your child is upset and the only thing she wants to feel better is you. I’m going to stick with the tough love strategy because following it is ultimately the best thing for her. Before I had Haley I did not realize that sacrifices I would have to make to be the best possible parent would include her short-term happiness. No one said it would be easy! And it’s really not.

Preparing for Transition

Friday, August 16th, 2013

From Friday Mom – Erin:
Rory starts daycare in a little more than two weeks. We have been very fortunate to have a sitter for him over the summer, but have opted for the slightly more affordable approach for long-term. Of course, as his time with his sitter draws to a close, we are second-guessing that decision. Mostly because this change is coming right as I am finally settling in to a working-mom routine.

This week, I called to schedule our orientation session and transition period with the head teacher in his new classroom. She rattled off a list of all the things I should be collecting, such as labels, extra sheets, extra outfits, etc., to bring with Rory on his first day. I had a moment of sheer anxiety thinking about the gargantuan effort that will be involved in getting both of us out the door in the morning and dropping him off at his new child development center on my way to the office.

I am also worried that Rory’s switch to daycare will coincide with his developing stranger anxiety. I see how excited he is in the morning when his sitter arrives, and I feel terrible about that. To date, he has been very laid back with just about everyone he meets. I hope that he is receptive to his new caregivers and that he is able to adjust quickly. We’ll be leaving him for a few hours a day at first to help transition, but I wish I’d built in a little more time to be able to help him make the switch.

I’m hoping that this is yet another time where my anxiety is worse than the reality. Or perhaps the task of labeling all of his clothes will keep me occupied enough to stop stressing. . .

Helping Hands

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
Helping our children learn responsibility by instilling good habits early on makes parenting a little easier.  When Jack was a toddler, we made it known that cleaning up toys before bed and putting books back on the bookshelf were tasks we did everyday.  Obviously, Jack didn’t know exactly what we were doing, but demonstrating these efforts would benefit him in the future.  We sang while we cleaned up or talked about our day.  It was wasn’t anything regimented, but something we wanted to infuse in a fun way.

After several years, another child, and double the amount of “stuff” in our house, and our once-daily chore routine seemed to fade away.  I’d find myself help cleaning up just to have the stuff back out five minutes later and even more of a mess.  It got frustrating and time consuming.  The kids help when asked after several times, but my once clean routine was quickly heavily disorganized.  I am somewhat of a neat freak so I knew I had to find some order.

Now that our children are a little bit older and have learned more about responsibility, my husband and I are taking charge and assigning age appropriate chores to each of them.  We should have started this a while ago, but better late than never, right?  Both my husband and I had chores in our childhood, and I feel it’s something beneficial for the rest of your life.  It also gives the boys a sense of feeling needed by helping out.

So, what are age-appropriate chores for a six and three year old?  I’ve browsed several websites listing ideas, but just observing what we do on a daily basis is helpful.  We’ve come up with daily and weekly tasks for each child.  We even let them pick out duties they’d like to help with to make it more feasible.  A few of Jack’s chores are to make his bed, clear his dishes, put away books and toys, sort his laundry, get mail, and help collect his bathroom trash.  Some of Tate’s chores are to clean up toys and books, put clothes in his hamper, place shoes in hallway bin, light dusting, and hang his backpack on its hook.  These are just everyday things that are easy for them to take care of.  We’re not looking for perfection, but we will try to be consistent.

At this point, we decided not to exchange money for responsibility.  We want our kids to know that these are daily/weekly responsibilities and things they are supposed to do anyway.  Tate doesn’t understand what money means right now so he wouldn’t be motivated by it.  Jack is learning about money, but we don’t feel at his age he needs to be rewarded with it.  That’s what the tooth fairy is for.  However, visits to the park, later bedtime or special treats will be rewarded here and there.  It’s always nice to have something to look forward to.  Perhaps when the boys are much older and doing bigger tasks we’ll most likely introduce an allowance.  Until then, I look forward to getting extra help around the house.

Mom Time

Monday, August 12th, 2013

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
We belong to our local YMCA with a family membership. It’s great! There are a lot of offerings for children Haley’s age, including indoor playground time, open swim, art class, and story time. Since my husband and I use the gym ourselves, it’s become a facility we all take advantage of. We feel a sense of community there.

I haven’t been exercising as much as I would like, though. I have Haley during the day and I’m exhausted by night—but that is no excuse. It’s important to focus on personal wellness, especially as a parent. We need to be in tip-top shape in order to take care of our kids, provide a good example to them, and be there for them for a long, long time.

The YMCA offers a “Child Watch” program, a babysitting service for parents who want to exercise, but I’ve heard mixed reviews and have always been too nervous to use it. However, many of my friends are happy with it. I recently decided that enough was enough: Haley is old enough to be away from me for a short period of time, and I need to add exercise to my regular schedule. So I finally put together the paperwork to get Haley enrolled in the program, and we start this week!

I think it will be great to be a little more active and have time to do something just for me. I also want Haley to understand that it’s okay to be away from Mom and play with other kids under the supervision of caretakers she can trust. I am really looking forward to it. Ultimately I realized that the worst thing that can happen is that Haley will have a fit and I’ll have to cut my workout short to retrieve her. But it’s certainly worth a try!

Seven Months of Lessons

Friday, August 9th, 2013

From Friday Mom – Erin:
When you are pregnant, there is no shortage of gratuitous advice. And it comes from all directions: friends, family, random strangers on the subway, your colleagues, your hairdresser, your landscaper, your neighbors. The list goes on and on. As Rory turns seven months old this weekend (yikes!), my husband and I decided to reflect on just how true some of this “advice” really was. Here are our reflections on the most accurate platitudes we received during those anxious nine months.

7. Your life will never be the same. You do not truly appreciate how much a child drives every element of your day-to-day decision making until your little one arrives.

6. Catch up on your sleep now. I can’t recall the last time either of us woke feeling truly well rested. For me, I think it was the 12 hours of sleep I got the night before Rory was born.

5. Start saving for college. When our financial advisor told us the amount of money we’ll have to save for college tuition, it took me a solid minute to scrape my jaw off of the floor.

4. Consider a minivan. I laughed at this one. But now that Rory is here and I’ve fought our mid-sized cross-over for space on a few trips, I wonder how in the world we’ll ever have room for more if we are fortunate to have a second child down the road.

3. If you blink, you’ll miss it. It really still feels like yesterday that we brought a wrinkly, red-faced, and bug-eyed little newborn home with us. His head bobbled around in his car seat. Now, he’s bulging out and trying to break free the minute we sit him in that same seat. Where does the time go?

2. Always make time for family.  I envisioned that we would do all sorts of fun outings around the city. While we’ve done some, I’ve come to appreciate the quiet days spent, just the three of us, sitting around home and watching the joy on Rory’s face as he entertains himself with toys. Those are the best times.

1. You don’t know what love is until you have a child.  I’ve loved my husband for many years—I didn’t imagine loving a child would be all that different. In fact, I used to mock my friends’ doting facebook status updates about their children. But now, I have to say, I understand. The deep, unending love I feel for this little guy defies description. It’s the kind of love that compels you to tell a random, pregnant woman on the subway just how wonderful the journey is that she is beginning.