Archive for May, 2015

Advance Warning

Friday, May 29th, 2015

From Friday Mom – Erin:
We met with Rory’s teacher this week for our final parent-teacher conference of the year. When you entrust your child’s care and education to a staff of early-childhood educators, you place a tremendous amount of faith in that staff’s ability to monitor and report on your child’s acheivements of various milestones. Setting aside my views on how odd it is to call them “conferences” when the children are still at such a young age, we appreciated the opportunity to hear her views on Rory’s developmental progress.

She reported on his cognitive, emotional, and physical skills and offered a range of thoughts and advice on areas for improvement. One of the areas she highlighted was Rory’s need to be told about a particular activity in advance. The moment she said it, I realized just how accurate she was and just how often I’d seen the same tendencies in my own interactions with Rory.

Rory does not like to be told, abruptly, that it is time to do something he isn’t interested in doing. Instead, he needs advance warning. For example: “Rory, it is time to change your stinky diaper” does not go over well. Instead, “Rory, we’re going to finish this story, and then it will be time to change your diaper” is usually a much safer approach. Unless it is something exciting, like a trip to the playground or a special snack, we try to introduce all transitions with advance warning so that we can reason with him when the time arrives.

The same is true for new experiences or visits from strangers. The kid likes to have a heads-up in advance so that he can prepare himself.

It isn’t a particularly novel concept. Frankly, I appreciate knowing what’s coming next in my own life. I am a stickler for calendaring appointments and carving out time for particular projects. Unexpected visitors and phone calls throw me for a loop and take me out of my comfort zone. I appreciate and thrive on structure and schedules, and Rory is proving to be similar. Building in a little lead time isn’t difficult to do, and the results are well-worth it. Especially when it means the result is a cooperative two-year old!


Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
We had a fun-filled first weekend of summer break. We met some friends at the playground, ate messy snow cones, swam at a birthday party, played in the mud, littered our backyard with every toy we own, had a water gun battle, and enjoyed not hearing the alarm clock go off. Today, we have nothing on the calendar, and my children automatically complain they’re bored. We’re less than a week into the summer break and I really hope this doesn’t continue until August.

I’ll admit, I’m always on the hunt for camps, classes, lessons, or events for my children to participate in. They aren’t always organized, and they don’t all cost money, but nature hikes and trips to the library are fun outings. These little adventures keep us busy (especially because my husband is often out of town), and get us out of the house. However, I don’t think it’s my job to be the “Director of fun” 24/7. It’s OK to be bored every now and then. It’s nice to have some down time and read a book, or watch a movie. Relaxing on the couch is something I look forward to just about every day.

I’m trying to let my kids know they don’t always need a plan for entertainment. They need to provide their own entertainment and create their own fun. They have plenty of toys, puzzles and Legos to keep them busy. After some creative thinking, and mommy ignoring their complaints, by the end of the day they built some pretty cool Lego creations, drew some pictures, built a fort for their stuffed animals, and invented new versions of board games and sports. I explained that “boredom” is actually an “opportunity” to be creative. They agreed their minds could think up some cool things to do.


Monday, May 25th, 2015

Though I don’t go into the office anymore, I can distinctly remember what it was like to be a working woman. There was a great deal to contend with. Long commutes, office politics, the constant feeling that the boss was going to come down on you about something—whether it was your fault or not; it can take a lot out of a person. I don’t miss those things. One of the most difficult challenges was that no matter if I was tired or my mind was on something personal, I felt I always had to be “on.” It’s nice not having to deal with that feeling anymore since I stay at home, but in some ways I feel it’s something I still struggle with.

Sure, I don’t have to look my best, or make sure I’m saying just the right company-speak to a colleague. But at least there was a time I could “turn it off.” Usually there were at least a few waking hours a week for me to chill and let my mind wander. Lately I’m realizing that as a mom, I’m always playing the role of mom. I’m never totally “off.” For example, this past weekend, I wasn’t feeling well so was content to let Dad and several other family members take the brunt of the responsibility when it came to the kids. But I wasn’t able to just rest. I constantly had to step in to feed this one, bathe that one, calm down this one, etc. I know that’s part of the deal as a mother, but really—when Dad is indisposed, he doesn’t do a lick of parenting. I can’t imagine that ours is the only household that experiences this phenomenon. Somehow even the simplest tasks often need mom’s participation, advice or approval, and I’m always there to give it.

Before kids, I relished the peace of nighttime. Now, if either little one wakes up upset, I’m up. And who’s snoring away same as always? Dad. It’s not a lack of interest or caring, but there’s something about being a Mom. Your role is to be their everything. I love it, but it frustrates me too. It can be a really hard job, and one you can’t turn off.

I don’t mean to sound like a martyr, but I think it’s important for moms to acknowledge just how not easy it is. If we talk about it, if we feel like we are heard and understood and appreciated, it can make all the difference. It can keep us going. So let the moms in your life know that you see their hard work! Don’t worry that it might be a bad time—she’ll make herself available.

Sleeping Diva

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

From Friday Mom – Erin:
I have been extremely hesitant to write about Charlotte’s sleeping habits for fear that I might jinx what has, to date, been a fairly easy process. I chalk it up to the fact that she mirrors her brother’s preferences (to some degree), therefore it was somewhat easy for me to follow her lead and circadian rythm when establishing a “schedule” for eating and sleeping. We endured a lengthy period of eating every two hours, which made the cycle quite short. But at around three and a half months, she finally seemed to settle into a somewhat steady pattern of two longer naps and two cat naps each day.

Charlotte started sucking her thumb about a month ago. Since then, she’s been pretty good at self soothing. That being said, there have been a handful of naps during which she would wake up after 45 minutes or an hour and, despite quite clearly wanting to be asleep, she would need to be rocked for a period of time before going back down.  Though frustrating, I’d been able to get her over the hump and back to sleep.

Until her daddy took over childcare duties this week.

Her poor father was unsuccessful in getting her back to sleep for the first part of the week, causing a great deal of stress for all of us. He resorted to baby wearing and walking around the house to get her napping.  And it has convinced both of us that I created a bit of a diva.

Although the experience has shown him, first hand, that maternity leave isn’t the same as a vacation, it has also led me to worry about whether Charlotte will transition smoothly when she starts daycare on June 1st. She’ll be visiting the center for a few hours each day next week, and I am hopeful that the staff’s years of experience with infants will trump her father’s, such that she’ll sleep peacefully during naptimes there. I’m also uncertain how they handle “catnaps,” but am hopeful that our orientation meeting today will calm those concerns. I just really hope their calming techniques will prove effective. If not, the few minutes I get to spend with her each evening will be marred by screams of an over-tired infant– not the most pleasant way to spend an hour.

I am trying desperately to remind myself that Rory’s sleep habits were my biggest concern when he started daycare. I remember being intensely worried that he would not get enough sleep and that he would be a wreck each night. Sometimes those fears proved true. More often than not, however, I was proven wrong. Afterall, these little kiddos are tremendously resilient, and they adjust to just about anything after a while. I hope Charlotte will be no different.


Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
Tomorrow morning, I will drop Tate off at preschool for the final time. This is a big milestone for both of us. I’m not sure what kind of emotional state I’ll be in, but I do know I’m very proud of his development both academically and socially over the last three years. He’s gained a wealth of knowledge, and I owe a big part of it to his wonderful teachers. He still has some hurdles to overcome, but with time I’m hoping he’ll succeed.

When Tate started preschool three years ago, he was very excited. However, a new setting, new people, new toys, new schedule, new rules, and no mommy nearby for a few hours each morning was overwhelming for him at first. He dug through the toy bins every morning when I dropped him off, but he always looked to make sure I was present. After the first week, he didn’t care if I stayed or if I left. He was enjoying school. He was never ready to leave when I picked him up from school. That was very reassuring to me. I knew he was happy, and I knew my husband and I had made the right decision by putting him in a loving and fun school environment.

Last week, the preschool held their end of year program. The graduation ceremony followed and was tear jerking. The class slideshow featured each student. I shed a few tears when Tate came on the screen. I can’t imagine what I’ll be like at high school and college graduations. It was bittersweet seeing pictures of him engaged and having fun in circle time, at his desk writing, holiday parties, and fully covered in paint. I’m so happy for him to move on and grow, but I’m sad to know this phase of life has come to an end.

A new adventure will start next school year for Tate and a new milestone for me, as well. For now, I’m enjoying every minute this summer with both of my boys. It’s hard to believe I’ll have TWO kids in elementary school next year.

The Things We Do

Monday, May 18th, 2015
From Monday Mom – Neetika:
We had a busy weekend. We visited family, had guests, gardened, shopped– and capped it all off walking through a nearby street fair.
In our New York neighborhood, summertime street affairs abound. I didn’t even know there was going to be one this weekend, but as soon as I spotted it, so did Haley. From that moment, it was obvious that we were attending. She got her face painted (butterfly), procured some delicious strawberry lemonade (a rare treat), and played the water gun game where you try to get your stuffed toy to reach the top first (we lost, but she loved it). Overall it was a good time. But I knew I was in for frustration, too.
First of all, we had to contend with the crowds. I hate crowds. And I hate them even more when I’m holding the hand of a little girl who can be elbowed or otherwise easily hurt by a careless adult. Second, as often is the case here in the spring and summer months, it was hot and incredibly humid. Somehow Haley, and perhaps all children at a fair, are immune to the gross feeling of sweatiness and the subsequent desire to stay indoors. It was tough, but I hung in there until we met obstacle number three — the bounce house.
Haley adores bounce houses, but there is so much I hate about them. There was confusion over where the line formed (despite my repeatedly asking) so we had to wait a long time. Haley had to take off her shoes in preparation to go in, so was standing barefoot on the city street (so gross). Once she got in there, I feared for her safety as in her group there were way, way older kids– one might say inappropriately old for a bounce house– bounding away with little regard for others. And of course, once several nearly adult-sized children were in there, the thing completely collapsed. This is not the first time this has happened to Haley at a local street fair. I was so annoyed. I pulled her out and headed for the hills. Glad we waited extra long to get in there!
Because Haley beams with excitement when she sees a street fair, I don’t feel like I can deny her the experience due to my fussy preferences. While we were in line for the doomed bounce house experience, I heard her whisper happily, “I love the street fair!” The smile didn’t leave her face until long after we got home, collapse or not. Street fairs are not my first choice for family entertainment, but such is what we do for our children.

Little Thief

Friday, May 15th, 2015

From Friday Mom – Erin:
Rory has started bringing matchbox cars home from school with him. I’ve tried to ask his daddy to start checking his backpack before departing the building, but sometimes there’s too much commotion or they are in too big of a hurry to do so.

The first time he did it, I was mortified. He was asking for his truck, and when we responded with a completely clueless, “Which truck, Rory?” He informed us that it was in his bag. Sure enough, there was a little red pick-up truck stashed away inside.

His love of the worn little cars is quite intense. He makes a bee-line for the older pre-school and pre-K classrooms each morning and grabs a car. I am working on getting him to ask the teachers for their permission before he absconds with the tiny vehicle. Most of the time, however, he completely clams up and mutters a semi-articulate “please” before running back down the hall to his classroom.

For a kid who has so many toys, I feel a little guilty that he is taking toys home from school that do not belong to him. On the handful of occasions that it has happened, I have been certain to make him take it back to the proper classroom the following morning and apologize to the teacher. Usually he uses the opportunity to pick out a NEW car, which makes me question the efficacy of the exercise. It all may be a phase, but we’re hoping a little more careful monitoring will steer Rory off to some new interest.

Simply the Best

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
The preschool my kids attend(ed) has a vehicle drop off/pick up line for parents and their children. Most days I utilize it. It’s very convenient, especially when Jack was in preschool and his baby brother was sound asleep in the minivan. The teachers ensure the kids get buckled into their car seats safely and we move along with our day.

Even with the pick-up line, sometimes I park and go inside the preschool to surprise my children. I like to talk face-to-face with their teacher to make sure all is well. I love to see the colorful student artwork on the walls. I peek in the classroom window first and watch the boys play and learn without knowing I’m there. Most of all, I love the excitement on their faces when I finally walk into their classroom. It puts a smile on MY face, too.

Last week, my husband had a rare day off. We surprised Jack at elementary school and ate lunch with him. It was a beautiful day outside and we grabbed an empty picnic table. To this day, Jack still gets excited to see us at his school. He lit up and stopped everything he was doing to announce his mom and dad were there. I find it absolutely adorable. No matter how bad my day is, seeing my boys shine with excitement for their mom is magical. It is simply the best feeling. All the frustrations and struggles of the moment are erased, and their elation keeps me sane.

I know in a few short years or maybe even months, I might not be allowed to surprise them at school anymore. I hope I’m never an embarrassment for them. Unfortunately, I’m afraid the days of getting hugs and kisses from my children while at school may be over soon. For now, I will enjoy them while they last.

What Moms Really Want

Monday, May 11th, 2015

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
They say all a mom wants on mother’s day is a clean house. Although I don’t know who “they” are, I tend to agree. Parenting is a condition that seems to naturally contradict a household staying in order. All day, you have to work and/or take care of the children. The kids themselves make a ton of mess. Moms are guilty too. When you’re throwing off a bib, looking for a binky, hastily fixing a bottle, things get thrown out of order seemingly instantaneously. There’s not much time to straighten up as you go, particularly when you have bad nappers, as I do. Dusting, cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming after the kids go to bed for the night? Give me a break! If you’re anything like me, your evening involves sitting on the sofa, staring at the television and indulging in a choice of beverage—my choice being Coca Cola on the rocks.

My house is rarely clean and even more rarely tidy. It’s been a difficult thing to let go of. My single-girl abodes were always spotless and organized. Adding one more child made things a hundred times more complicated. But I’m realizing lately that for better or for worse, things won’t always be this way. I’m well passed the half-year mark with Hudson, which I can’t even believe. Soon Haley will be full-time school and in another year, Hudson may start preschool. I look forward to the extra time I’ll have—even if it’s not a lot—to take care of the house, cook and work on professional projects. At the same time, I’ll be grieving my kids’ babyhood!

I didn’t get a chance to clean up much this weekend, but I was the proud recipient of preschool art, adorable cards, breakfast in bed, and lots of cuddles and kisses. And that’s all that this mother really wanted.

Potty Time?

Friday, May 8th, 2015

From Friday Mom – Erin:
Rory has finally started to express an interest in the potty. It’s not consistent, and it’s certainly not always effective, but he will occasionally ask to use the potty and we will willingly oblige. The only time we have been remotely consistent is in offering him an opportunity to use the potty before getting into his bath each night. We’re also trying to work it into the morning routine.

So far, he’s succeeded once. Ever since, he has simply asked to flush immediately upon sitting down.

We’re taking Rory’s lead when it comes to potty training. As much as I would love to only have one kid in diapers, we’ve been managing for four months now, so we aren’t in any great rush. He’ll move up to a new classroom at his daycare in September, at which point potty training will become a much greater focus. We’d actually been hoping to simply wait until his classroom is potty training together, because he spends much more time there than at home. But his new-found interest suggests that we may be venturing into these uncharted waters sooner than expected.

At one point, I’d thought that perhaps I could tackle potty training while I was home on maternity leave. But I returned to work this week without coming anywhere close to accomplishing that task.

As with all milestones, I’m sure I will look back in a few years and chuckle at my concerns as being over blown and comical. For now, I’m just trying to get him to realize that flushing is not entertainment. Something tells me that may take a while.