Thursday, October 31, 2013

Day 31: Conclusions


I was already formulating this post in my head. I thought my month long effort to stop hitting and yelling worked. Then today! Not terrible, but I found myself swipping Charlie with my foot (you might as well say kicking, but that makes me feel too awful).

I'm still going to call it a success. Despite today, I have been reacting less and being angry less. Which is nice, I hate being angry! A friend rang me at 10 o'clock last night and I answered it because I knew it must have been important to be ringing that late. She had had a tough day with her 3 year old son too and felt bad about the things she had said (verbal reactions rather than my physical ones). I knew exactly how she was feeling and it was then that I realized that I had had some success this month because I was no longer feeling that way myself.

I haven't had any major light bulb moments or anything, but I am glad to not be feeling the way I was at the start of this month. I'm looking forward to getting a bit more housework done in the evenings too now that I won't be posting every day. And I think it's not only that I'm reacting less, Charlie is giving me less to react to too. He is responding positively to my efforts. He's actually a really sweet kid, and I'm a lucky Mum.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Day 30: CTFD Method of parenting

[Charlie pre and post swim]


After a month of reflecting on my parenting and trying to keep my shit together, you might think that I obsess a little too much. I like to think I'm being conscientious. Which was by the way the most consistently overused word in my primary school reports. I'm not worried that I'm a terrible parent or anything, I'm just trying to do my best but also do better. I don't think I worry too much, but I will try and remember this parenting technique with a smile next time I start to worry about some little thing Calm the F*** Down. 

Today: So hot! We spent a few hours keeping cool at the pool. All that splashing and playing wears little boys out. No parenting dramas though Charlie still did not want to have the conditioner washed out of his hair. I talked to him before we did the treatment about why he wasn't wanting a bath any more. It hurt his eyes. I promised him I wouldn't let any get in his eyes. He still screamed and fought the whole time but we didn't get any in his eyes, and I stayed calm. Win.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Day 29: Routine


So they say. I don't know if they do, I haven't really researched this topic, but I think having some daily flow, and marker points through the day help.

When Charlie was first born, I had read quite a few books but I was totally clueless. I thought that if Charlie was tired he would go to sleep, ha! I remember being at a family reunion when Charlie was only a few weeks old, I was holding him and didn't know why he was crying. He was fed, dry, etc. My Mum told me he was tired, I didn't believe her. If he was, why didn't he just go to sleep?! She took him for me, cradled him in her arms and threw a blanket over her shoulder to shield him from the light and noise. And what do you know, just like that, he fell asleep.

I wish I had been more switched on to the whole sleep thing. I was so silly, I didn't understand the real gift of a sleeping baby... or maybe I did. I held Charlie for nearly all of his naps out of my desire to attachment parent. I didn't get anything done! I felt bad if I wanted him to have a sleep, like I was wishing him away or something. Now I know better. We didn't even put him to bed! Babies (and children) need their sleep, and sometimes they need help getting there.

All of this is a long way of saying that since Mia was born, we've been having an evening 'flow' dinner...bath...books...bed. We don't really do the books for Mia, it's more for Charlie but we put them to bed together. Anyhow, Mia goes to sleep at night much easier than I remember Charlie going down. I hope that bodes well for her as she's getting older, maybe she just hasn't gotten to that age when Charlie would just much around for ages. I hope not!

Tonight: bathing disaster! I combed conditioner through Charlie's hair as part of his nit treatment. Again he did NOT want to get in the bath. I wrangled him and ended up in the bath with my clothes on. There was no plug in, I was just using the hose to rinse his hair out, but I did get fairly wet. I yelled at him to sit down, I got a bit angry and could have been more gentle. I don't know how I should have handled it differently, though if I think about it, not yelling and keeping my calm would have been a good start. Anyway, it's done now, I didn't have the time or head space in the moment.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Day 28: Long View


"... if we are ultimately concerned with the kind of people our children will become, there are no shortcuts. Good values have to be grown from the inside out. Praise and privileges and punishments can change behavior (for a while), but the cannot change the person who engages in the the behavior - at least not in the way we want. No behavioral manipulation ever helped a child develop a commitment to becoming a caring and responsible person. No reward for doing something we approve of ever gave a child a reason for continuing to act that way when there was no longer any reward to be gained for doing so." p.161

Expanding on day 19's pearl. If you think I'm running out of pearls, I am! My Mum accused me of cheating for combining Saturday and Sunday, and she's right... Anyway, as parents we want to be thinking about the kind of people we'd like our children to turn into. We need to take the long view and work towards that rather than producing temporary results

Today: I was so tempted to demand obedience, in fact I did try demanding it, it didn't work... A spot of parenting bother at bath time tonight. With Ian putting in evenings at the bowling club (as well as weekends) I've been doing a bit of solo parenting lately and bathing both the kids in the big bath instead of Ian bathing Charlie in the laundry tub and myself bathing Mia in the baby bucket. Charlie did not want to get in the bath tonight. He didn't want to get in the bath last night either but we let him skip it as he was clean from an afternoon bath to wash the nit treatment out of his hair. I wasn't about to let him off tonight, I'd put  Pinetarsol Oil that I bought this afternoon in the water to help with what we think are 'school sores'. Little man is a walking HazMat at the moment.

Anyway, I started to lose my cool. I think tonight it was more of a patience issue, it's not that I was getting angry, I was just losing my patience. Looks the same though, I start raising my voice, demanding obedience... I managed to reign it in but had to physically force Charlie to sit down in the bath multiple times and hold him firmly while I washed him. Not fun. I think he's still so very tired. While that doesn't sound very respectful, here is a story from another mother that needed to 'physically' help her daughter in to her car seat.


Since I hate to post without photos, there is Charlie and Mia at a family reunion earlier this month.

Days 26 & 27: Humour

A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs. It's jolted by every pebble on the road.

A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs. It's jolted by every pebble on the road.


Keeping your sense of humour goes a long way to keeping your buttons covered and not so easily pushed. Sometimes you just have to laugh. My Mum always said "if you don't laugh you'll cry".

The Weekend: No parenting dramas*. We went out to friends' place on Saturday for bbq and poker night, Charlie was wrecked before we even left and I thought I should probably stay home with him. He fell asleep on the way out to our friend's farmhouse and so we parked next to the patio and left him sleeping. He woke just before 8 and wouldn't let us unbuckle him or go back to sleep. Charlie so desperately wanted to get home and go to bed that Ian took pity on him and we left early. That is saying a lot as Ian loves his poker, but he said he's never seen him like that. I was having a good time too and didn't want to leave, but it was nice to see Ian put Charlie first like that. Our first night back to our usual evening routine at home tonight, hopefully a few days of early nights and our home environment should give Charlie back some resilience.

*Not a parenting drama but a drama nonetheless, on Sunday afternoon I found our first case of nits! Our friends down the street had Moov on hand luckily so we popped over and treated Charlie. He has a sore on the back of his head and it must have stung, he kicked up a such a stink!

Hope you had a good weekend.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Day 25: Ideal Parents

[light the night]


I'm giving myself a little "almost there" pep talk. I know myself, and when I get near the end of anything I run out of steam. So.... just reminding myself here that what I'm doing is worthwhile. I am working on myself, and it is worthwhile. We don't need to be ideal parents, the ideal parent is one who cares enough to try.

Today (Yesterday): Another(!) travel day. No dramas


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Day 24: Home

[Mia's sad face at Ikea]


Does Dorothy say that in the Wizard of Oz?
Our last day in Perth before we head home tomorrow. We are very lucky to have my parent's to stay with when we need to come to the city. We have friends here that like us to stay with them too, but since we've gone from one child to two it is easier to stay with 'Grangran' and 'Branma'. It gives us built in baby sitters and Charlie gets to spend more time with his grandparents (plus I go home with some of my laundry washed!).

Anyway, there is no place like home and we are all looking forward to getting back there. I'll be able to get the kids in to bed at the normal time, I won't be dragging them out all day and Charlie can play with his little friends instead of being with adults all the time. Being away from home is hard on little ones. It helps to take this into account.

Today: Both kids still unwell. Charlie was testing first thing this morning but I didn't let my buttons get pushed, I could see he was just as exhausted as I was and not coping. Mia had a couple of meltdowns, one in the car on the way back from picking up gyprock supplies and another in the car at Ikea. I'm holding her now in bed as I type this on Dad's laptop, she's just not herself. I hope they pick up soon.


Day 23: The Years are Short


I came across this quote in The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I'm thinking of it today because of the terribly sad funeral of my cousin's wife yesterday (the reason why this, yesterday's post, is happening today). Julie was taken by cancer at only 39, my cousin was widowed at 35 and their two young daughters lost their beautiful, devoted mother. It's too sad to think about really.

It's one of those things that really drives home how lucky you are if you or your immediate family are all in relatively good health. Rubin used the quote to take the larger picture in the midst of everyday drudgery. You might be "in the trenches" right now with little ones and you might drag your tired ass to bed at the end of very long days but soon you'll be looking back at these years (if you're lucky) and you want to enjoy them as much as you can. Hopefully the years aren't short because they've been cut short by death, but none of us has any guarantees.

I'm feeling extra grateful I get to kiss my babies goodnight and cuddle them to sleep. This is why Rubin embarked on her happiness project, she didn't want to wait for some tragedy in the future to make her realize how lucky and happy she was at that moment. I really loved The Happiness Project and Rubin's honest and self-deprecating insights into her own character. It does actually have really great advice too.

Today (yesterday): A long, emotionally exhausting day. A silver lining of the kids being sick is that Charlie was docile and just cuddled into my sisters lap for the funeral service so I was able to sit through it instead of chasing him around outside. No parenting dramas. Mia is showing signs of being as stubborn as Charlie was about not going to sleep though, she was exhausted at the wake but refused to sleep until nearly 9.30.


Day 22: Don't Take it Personally


Today's pearl is not a parenting pearl per se, but it is something to keep in mind when our children are having a melt down or telling us they hate us. Nothing others do is because of you so don't take it personally. Don't take anything personally is actually the second agreement from Ruiz's book The Four Agreements. I haven't read this book for a while but I love it. It really helped me to let go of things a lot easier because I didn't have to take things personally. I realized that whatever it was someone else did that might have upset me, wasn't actually about me, it was about them.

So when it comes to our children, if your child is pushing limits it could be because he is hungry, tired, frightened, unwell or any number of other reasons. Young children have immature impulse control and as noted by Janet Lansbury they "...are easily overwhelmed by impulses bigger and stronger than they are." 

Today (two days ago!): can I even remember?! Charlie and Mia still unwell, we spent the morning trying to get an appointment somewhere and ended up in Midland seeing a homeopath. In the confined space of the homeopaths office it was clear to see that while Charlie is not ADD (I hope) he certainly is a very busy boy. I had thoughts of a pinball bouncing around, and that parenting such high energy kid has perhaps required more than I've given myself credit for.  From there my mum took him and I went off running errands with Mia. No parenting dramas, Mia just didn't want to be put down which makes anything but baby holding difficult.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Day 21: In Sickness

[driving to the city]


I have a doctors note for not posting last night. As much as I tried to climb out of bed from putting my babies asleep last night Mia just wouldn't settle to sleep and Charlie who normally sleeps like a champion through her crying kept waking with his own cry whinging. The kids aren't sick sick, but something is off with them, they aren't quite themselves.

Today (yesterday): A travel day, so liberal use of tv and no parenting dramas. I got a bit cranky constantly being woken by restless whinging trying to put the kids down.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Day 20: Take Time

[prize winners in the chook tent at the show]
[on our way home from the show]


Haha, that statement is ridiculous for being both too simplistic and also too hard at the same time. When Charlie was a baby just having a shower every second day was a major achievement. But if you can manage to put yourself on your list of priorities you would find it to be good advice. I feel like I've done nothing all day except catch up on laundry and clean the kitchen only to mess it up again cooking dinner. The kitchen is still a mess, but I sat on the couch with the Mr for an hour tonight since I'm heading back to the city again tomorrow and I couldn't face any more housework. And I'm only throwing a generic 'take time for yourself' pearl of wisdom on the blog because I am taking some time for myself! and going to bed and leaving it all for tomorrow.

Today: Two irritating moments when I could feel myself starting to get angry, but I didn't boil over. Not a major fail, or even a fail, but it feels shitty.

I must remember that I have more rope* when I've had some time for myself. I hope you've had a wonderful weekend, we enjoyed going to the local ag show.


*As in I'm not at the end of my rope.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Day 19: Punished by Rewards


Punished by Rewards by Alfie Kohn would have to be in my top 5 books. It is a paradigm shifter. It is such an awesome book and effectively puts in to question a premise that our culture has deeply entrenched, that is, that the best way to get people to do what you want (ie. control them) is to reward them for desired behavior, and/or punish them for undesirable behavior. In fact, not only is it not the best way, it actually works against our goals in the long run.

I would love this book to be required reading for every teacher, employer and parent in our country.

Today: A good but exhausting day. Charlie has not had a chance to catch up on any sleep and we had a busy day out of the house at the local ag show, so Ian had some difficulty getting him undressed and in to the bath. Ian had his buttons pushed, Charlie is so chronically sleep deprived. I will keep this in mind tomorrow and try and get him in to bed early.


Friday, October 18, 2013

Day 18: Sportscasting


Sportscasting is a technique I haven't had a good go of yet, so I can't recommend it from personal experience, but it looks so promising!  It comes from Magda Gerber and her RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers) approach to childcare. It involves not getting involved in our children's conflicts, but observing and commenting to them what you see (without judgement), pausing to allow them to process, and make their own decision about how to move forward. You should be standing close enough to the action to step in if things start to get physical though.

Kate over at her Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids blog has a post on sportscasting that explains it well. I think I'm going to buy Your Self-Confident Baby by Magda Gerber as soon as I hit publish on this post so I can read up on the technique and give it more than a half arsed go (plus I just love to buy books!). With Mia getting more interactive it won't be too long before I'll need those skills.

Today: A travel day today as we headed home from a week in the city. Not too eventful. A few tears at bedtime with the over tiredness, but nothing too bad.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Day 17: Tired and Hungry


There is probably an excellent quote somewhere I could use for today's pearl. I don't have time to find it though. We all know it's true. Even I struggle when I'm tired, or hungry. Put the two together with the poor impulse control of toddlers and you've got a fun time on your hands.

I'm going to direct you to Aunty Leila again. Like I said previously, we differ a bit philosophically on discipline but I love the way Aunty Leila writes and she is so pragmatic (she has raised a good many children into lovely responsible adults, and who can argue with that?). Her post is about dealing with whining and she gives a great checklist to work down, the first two being make sure they're getting enough sleep and enough calories.

Today: I dragged Charlie about with me all day. Time in the city really is exhausting on the kids. This was compounded by a late bedtime for Charlie (and me!) last night. He held it together pretty well, but there was a lot of laying on the floor. I can tell when Charlie is too tired, he will just lay on the floor, doesn't matter where we are, usually right in the middle of somewhere inconvenient, like where wait staff need to walk.

Anyway, come bedtime Charlie was just too far gone. Getting pajamas on was an epic struggle. I tried a raised, stern voice, I grabbed him and tried to make him listen, Mum and I held him and tried to manhandle him into his pajamas. I know I would have smacked him if I hadn't been consciously trying to not do that. I ended up shutting him in the next bedroom just to get a break and snap him out of thinking it was a game. That made him cry. The light was off, I didn't mean to do that. Mum turned it on and went in with him still trying to get his pajamas on. I gave Mia to Mum and took over. Once Charlie starts to cry I can usually get somewhere with him. I didn't try and get his pajamas on, just sat on the floor with him and let him climb into my lap for a cuddle. After a minute he was crying because he wanted his pajamas on. I put his top on (Mum had managed to get the bottoms on) and then he sniffed that he wanted to go to bed. Mum was surprised by the turnaround.

So we had a struggle, but I'm feeling good about it. I didn't get all worked up. I managed to stay calm. It didn't really push my buttons, maybe because I was expecting it because I knew he was past it. I remembered, he wasn't giving me a hard time, he was having a hard time! Yay for the win :)


Day 16: Acknowledge feelings


Late again! No excuses, just living it up in the city and going out, catching up with friends and coming home near midnight. One of the practices that seems counter intuitive but really helps is acknowledging feelings. I don't have my books with me to consult, but this has come from a couple of different sources, I'm pretty sure one of them is How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk, and also Janet Lansbury  (here and here).

When we were at the trendy restaurant having lunch and Charlie fell oh his stool, he hit his head on the hard polished concrete floor. He started to cry, hard. A waiter picked him up for me and as I took him in my arms and walked outside so he could cry freely, I didn't shoosh him or tell him he was ok or try to stop him from crying at all.  Instead, I acknowledged the incident and how he was (most likely) feeling. "Ohh, you fell off the stool and hit your head" "That hurt your head" "Show me where it hurts" "That really hurts doesn't it sweetheart?". With a really quick cuddle, and a kiss, the tears were over and he wanted to get back inside to his blueberries, as happy as he was before the fall.

We think bringing up the incident will only upset kids so we try and distract them. Honestly, if we just give kids a chance to feel what they're feeling and let them know we understand, they can work through the hurt and the shock and move on. They feel validated in their experience and they don't need to keep sooking or crying to get our attention and know that we understand. Thinking about it from my own experience, who doesn't want to be acknowledged and validated?


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Day 15: Special


Yesterday's post had me thinking about what Toni Morrison said on Oprah once, "when a kid walks in the room, does your face light up?" Feeling special and feeling important. I want my kids to feel both those. I think that's what so nice about having a birthday, not the presents you get, but feeling special (I am looking forward to my robovac when the credit card is looking a little healthier though!).

Today: We were out all day again, visiting friends and going out for birthday lunch. No parenting dramas on my birthday, nice. Charlie totally took a tumble off his stool at the trendy (does using the word trendy make me an old dag?!) restaurant we went to in Fremantle though and spilled all his blueberries on the floor in the process. The wait staff were lovely throughout and took it all in stride.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Day 14: With Affection

[at the park]


Today's pearl comes from Aunty Leila over at the wonderful blog Like Mother, Like Daughter on her post "Don't Wear Your Child's Name Out". I'm not Catholic or religious, but I have a couple of Catholic bloggers in my reader, and I love them. I'm in awe of people that have large families, I read to see how they cope I think. Even though the spanking part of the advice is not for me, I love Aunty Leila's tone in all her writing and find her so encouraging. This post in particular has some lovely advice about over using your child's name and suggests that it only be used to either a) stop your little one running into traffic, or b) with great affection. I find myself saying Charlie's name in annoyance or disappointment a lot. I know it is not lost on him, and I wonder what damage I am doing. I know I can't be perfect, but using Charlie's name like that does nothing to strengthen our bond and surely pushes him further away from "model behavior". Another thing to stop doing! As well as saying your child's name over and over waiting for him to stop doing whatever it is you want him to stop doing. As today's pearl says, it doesn't work!

The sentiment behind today's pearl is more a call against passive parenting, and that is something I can get behind. Janet Lansbury explains the difference between respectful parenting and passive parenting here, and even though there is no advocacy for spanking I think they are really saying the same thing.

Today: An early incident while getting Charlie dressed so we could meet friends at Kings Park. He kicked me in the side of the face while he was laying on the bed and I was trying to get pants on him. A quick slap on the leg in return before I'd even thought about it. Then he accidentally smashed me across the bridge of my nose with his head. At three years of age I suppose it is probably about time he started learning to dress himself. The rest of the day was fine, we were out all day, and Charlie even behaved wonderfully for a couple of hours at Ikea. I was going to leave him at the play center there but they were at maximum capacity. I didn't mind, I don't know if I'm ready to leave him with strangers!

It's my birthday tomorrow, I remember when we were young and asking Mum every year what she wanted for her birthday, she would always answer "nothing, just peace and quiet". Do you think if I explained that to Charlie it would work? No, me either! Hopefully I'll at least get to sleep in past 6 am :)


Day 13: Thankful

 [pumpkin pie] 

Again with the late post. But I posted Saturday's post yesterday so I've still only missed one day right? We don't usually celebrate Thanksgiving here in Australia but I've got a friend recently back from Canada and last night she cooked us all turkey and we had pumpkin pie. So today I'm going with the theme of thanks and manners.


I remember the speech therapist from the next town coming to our playgroup one week and coaching us with ways to get our wee ones talking. One of her suggestions was to withhold food until you extracted a thank you (or a ta) which she tried on Charlie at fruit time. Another was to spend 5 minutes talking at your child non-stop about an object of interest. I hated both of these exercises and switched off to anything she had to say after this. How dreadful! For starters I'm not in any hurry for my children to talk, they will talk when they're ready. As far as I'm aware, the research doesn't support the earlier is better philosophy. And I'm certainly not going to withhold a basic right (to food) until my children perform for me. I could feel a bit of judgement from the other mums, like I was a degenerate, lazy mum not teaching my kid about manners (but maybe that's just my projection). 

Anyway, Charlie often gives me the sweetest unprompted thank you mumies. When they are said of their own volition like that and not prompted or forced they are just heart melting. You don't need to ram manners down kid's throats. If you model them, they will pick it up. In thinking about this, perhaps I need to use please more, Charlie hasn't picked that up yet.

One of my favourite books is Punished by Reward by Alfie Kohn I love this book. He basically shows that the way we are operating as a society and our basic strategy for raising children can be summed up as 'do this and you'll get that' and even though it seems effective it is actually working against our aims of intrinsic motivation and morals and kindness and thinking of others. I can not recommend this book highly enough, and when I get home to my books, I will no doubt talk about it here some more, it is not just about the way we raise children but treat workers and teach students. I think this book should be required reading for everyone.

Yesterday: no parenting dramas, though Granma had Charlie for a large part of the day as I caught up with old friends for breakfast and then went out for dinner too. Thanks Mum.

I hope you have much to be thankful for. 


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Day 12: Deserving

[concentrating on Sean the Sheep on Granma's computer] 

                    ~ Swedish Proverb

This pearl of wisdom follows in the same vein as yesterday's.

Today/Yesterday: Oh no! I am late posting. I should have posted this before I went out for the night, I thought I would be home before midnight in time to get my daily post in. We stayed until stumps, I suppose your 20 year high school reunion will do that. Anyway, I had a fun time catching up with people, and there were no parenting dramas. We did have a lot of tears over Granma's Ipad though once Charlie got it and couldn't find Youtube. And then he cried when I left to go out. He is getting to an age though where he gets tired and will go to bed at night and not wait until I get home.


Friday, October 11, 2013

Day 11: Perspective

I'm sure I came across this pearl on my Facebook feed, probably from Janet Lansbury. When I change my perspective and see Charlie's difficult behavior as a sign that he is struggling with something, it makes it so much easier for me to come at the situation with a heart of compassion rather than frustration.

Today: another packing day, so Charlie was allowed to watch the t.v. My life would be so much easier if I would just let him watch t.v. all day. There have been periods when I have let him watch as much as he wanted (like when we bought Mia home, and when we were sick) but it makes me feel too uneasy. It makes me feel out of control because it's something I don't want to do, yet I found myself doing it!

So, no losing of the cool today. We are in the city now, and will be here for a week. I left without one spare nappy!


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Day 10: Mitten Strings for God

"When I come to a stop myself, when I draw a circle of stillness around me, my children are drawn into that peaceful place. They visibly relax, as if my very calmness nourishes them. The impact of just a few minutes of quiet attention can be profound, changing the mood of an entire day, restoring equilibrium to a distressed child, and to a frazzled mother as well." p.24

Mitten Strings for God: reflections for mothers in a hurry by Katrina Kenison might possibly be the first parenting book I ever bought. I saw the author on Oprah talking about slowing down for her children and it really spoke to me, I bought it before I even had children, before I was anywhere near having children. It is a really sweet book, I think I might start reading it again, I never did finish it, my book marker from 10 years ago is still in it. I need to remember to slow down.

Today: Yay! A good day. We had Charlie's little friend over for the morning who's mother happens to be my friend, the friend that took Charlie yesterday. She works two mornings a week and we generally take E. Having two 3 year old boys to look after is actually less work most of the time than just having one. Today they played nicely, and then this afternoon we had a picnic at the local Apex park with a couple of other baby wearing mumma's to take a photo to celebrate International Baby Wearing Week.

Lets hope I can remember to slow down and hopefully start a roll of good days.


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Day 9: Walk Away

[Mia helping with the laundry]

This pearl doesn't come from anywhere in particular, but I need to remind myself. I think I'm having an anger management issue at the moment, my anger. I went from zero to insane at the squeeze of a toddlers jaw this morning. And if I need to, I should walk away to collect myself first.

Today: Fail, totally lost my cool. Charlie bit me. Not funny, but if you need something funny to lighten up all this parenting failure here is the famous "Charlie bit my finger" video.

The good news is that my girlfriend picked Charlie up just before lunch and dropped him home at tea time. My goodness I needed that break! I hope you're doing better than I am, I need a holiday :)


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Day 8: I Love You Specially


"To be loved uniquely - for one's own special self - is to be loved as much as we need to be loved." p.72

Today's pearl comes from Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish and it was one of the messages from that book that has really stuck with me. Charlie isn't old enough to ask me yet who I love more, but when he is, I hope I remember not to say that I love them both the same. I hope I remember to tell him that they are both special to me but that no one is just like him.

Today: I gave Charlie a whack on the arm for getting Mia in the head with the broom. So dumb. Trying to teach him that hurting others is wrong by hurting him. Thinking and writing about this topic every day I am seeing that Charlie is needing more attention. He keeps wanting up, but how am I supposed to do that when I'm already holding Mia, or trying to do something? I need to figure out how to do that while also looking after Mia and trying to get on top of the housework. I hope he isn't feeling that I love Mia more because she's a baby and her needs seem to come first.

I should add nagging to my list of triggers. Some days I feel like a bit of a martyr... "Yes, I will get you some cheese... I said I would get you some cheese, just hang on a second... Charlie, I will get you some cheese, give me a minute... I just need to finish xyz... Sweetheart, please!... I said I would get you some, but you need to wait... blah, blah, blah" keeping my cool when I just want to scream "Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!!

I get to the end of the day, I'm putting them to bed and I feed Mia to sleep (hopefully) and Charlie is often asleep himself by the time I'm finished with her. So Mia is dealt with and it is then that I wish I could have some time cuddling with Charlie, but it is too late. I realise then that I miss it because I haven't done it all day, and I miss those connecting times with my little boy. Feels like I'm just 'dealing' with him from the moment we get up some days.

Anyway, something to think about. I need to get more efficient so I have more time for Charlie! Or something like that. Or I just need to wait till he's a little bit older and has more understanding.


Monday, October 7, 2013

Day 7: I Won't Let You

[on our way to the nursery]

I found the "I wont let you" pearl through the fantastic resource that is Janet Lansbury and her Magda Gerber/RIE approach to child rearing. Here is a great post about it on her blog. I also follow her Facebook page Elevating Childcare.

Today: I'm only one week in to my challenge and I'm sad to say I slapped Charlie today in his little face. I was sitting on the couch after having just breast fed Mia and Charlie was at me. He started with trying to bite me, I was trying to deflect him with the one hand that wasn't holding Mia, and I calmly stated over and over "I wont let you bite me" Actually "I won't let you..." is what is suggested you say but I find myself saying "I'm not going to let you..." Then he started trying to hit me, I tried as best I could to defend myself one handed as said "I'm not going to let you hit me". So then he started trying to kick me, after telling him I was going to let him kick he circled back to trying to bite me. Then I raised my voice and asked him if he wanted a smack, I knew I was falling off the wagon then. I had an aware moment that my buttons were being pushed and thought lucky I'm on a challenge where I've committed to not smacking else I probably would have escalated right about now. Charlie relentlessly continued trying to bite me and got my finger, I pulled my finger free and slapped his little face in anger and yelled at him "I told you!" Instead of shutting him in the bedroom like I had threatened during all of this I shut myself in my bedroom so I could get away from him and calm down/have a little cry and compose myself so I could get to a place where I could comfort him instead of wanting to scream in his face.

So perhaps my takeaway from all this is that I cannot effectively defend myself from Charlie one handed while I hold Mia, and next time I need to put her down and deal with Charlie two handedly. And that list of my triggers...

:: when Charlie physically hurts me (as proved today)
:: when Charlie keeps head butting me
:: when Charlie wrecks things/is being destructive
:: when Charlie tries to kick/hurt the cats or the chickens, but especially when his foot connects
:: when Charlie hurts Mia
:: when Charlie continues to do something over and over that I've asked him to stop, like licking me
:: and my buttons are so much more easily pushed when I am tired!

I might have to come back and update this list as things come to me.

Even though I lost my cool "I won't let you" does work and I used it later in the day when we were on our way back from the nursery with our two bags of potting mix, some seedlings and Charlie in the garden cart (we were on our way to the nursery in the second photo).

Charlie was not being careful of the seedlings and this was making me angry, and the weight in the cart was making it a very slow trip. I asked Charlie to hold the punnet of seedlings so he wouldn't damage them and they ended up over the side of the cart. He said he dropped them, I don't know if he dropped them on purpose or if it was an accident. I'd had enough. I got him out of the cart and told him it was too heavy/there wasn't enough room. He kept trying to get back in to the cart. I circled the cart stopping him, saying "I won't let you in the cart" we wen't around and around, he cried and screamed, I stayed calm blocking him from getting in/removing him when did get past me. I wondered what kind of spectacle we must have looked like if anyone had looked out their window. I didn't let that stop me though. Eventually I asked him if he wanted to help me pull the cart and just like that it was over.


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Day 6: Tantrums


"...crying is often considered to be an unnecessary by-product of stress, and many people have the incorrect impression that children would feel better if they would only stop crying. This is incorrect. No matter what the source of stress, children will not feel better until they have been allowed to cry and rage as much as needed." p.12

This pearl comes from another book by Aletha J. Solter Tears and Tantrums: what to do when babies and children cry.

This book has been so helpful in reducing my stress the second time round with a new baby. It helped me accept Mia's crying with out the need to feel like I need to fix it/stop her crying. I couldn't do it with Charlie when he was a baby because I thought that if I had met all his needs he wouldn't need to cry. I can do it now. Now I would rather hold Charlie while he cries, than try and get him to stop.

It isn't always convenient to listen to our children's strong feelings, and to other people it appears your child is being a super brat, but we don't tell other people that are crying or upset to stop crying, to not feel what they are feeling. I want Charlie and Mia to know that I can handle whatever emotional state of theirs they need me handle. That they are safe with me no matter how they are feeling or what they need to express.

Today: We had an early morning meltdown from Charlie to practice a little holding while he cried. And then we spent 3 hours in the car driving to a family reunion. While we were there I got the urge to grab him by the shoulder and squeeze too hard after he wouldn't stop head butting me again. I also felt like I could have easily screamed at him when he hooked his fingers in my hoop earring while I was holding him at the reunion and he yanked it painfully out of my ear. Tomorrow I might write a list of my triggers that send me over the edge to wanting to lose my shit, when he physically hurts me is one. It might help me be more aware when my buttons are getting pushed.


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Day 5: Riches of Heaven

[Charlie kissing the bride at the Vietnamese tea ceremony]


Does it say that somewhere in the bible? I thought it did, but I've just googled it and couldn't find a reference. Surely I'm not making up sayings from the bible. Anyway, I'm pretty sure it says something to that effect somewhere in the bible. I think it's beautiful. I also think it's true.

Having children is hands down the best thing I've ever done. I am so grateful I've had a chance to experience being a mother and for the two beautiful tender hearts the universe has sent their father and I (who I am also grateful for!).

So today's post isn't really a pearl of wisdom, more an encouragement, a reminder. As testing as children can be at times, I never want to forget just how lucky we are. And we are! So lucky!

[Mia finally asleep at the reception]

Today: We've been out the door since 8.30 this morning attending two wedding ceremonies and receptions. I'm scraping this post in just before midnight and only because we left early after the music got too loud for Mia. I didn't get mad at Charlie all day, I did start to though when he wouldn't stop licking me as I was trying to get ready. What is it with licking at the moment? And Mia was totally adorable all day. We had to keep her with us for the afternoon/evening wedding because it would have been too long to leave her. She slept on me in the ergo from around 8pm and before that she was so happy and cute she was making ovaries explode at 100 paces. A happy day.


Friday, October 4, 2013

Day 4: To Punish or Not to Punish?

When Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish ask this question in a group of parents the answers they get are along the lines of :
"If you don't punish them, kids will try to get away with murder."
"Sometimes I get so frustrated, I don't know what else to do."
"How will my child learn that what he did was wrong and not to do it again if I don't punish him?"
"I punish my son because it's the only thing he understands."

Then when parents are asked to remember their own feelings when they were punished, the following responses are given:
"I used to hate my mother. I'd think, 'She's such a bitch,' and then I'd feel so guilty."
"I used to think, 'My father's right. I am bad. I deserve to be punished.' "
"I used to fantasize that I'd get sick and then they'd be sorry for what they did to me."
"I remember thinking, 'They're so mean. I'll fix them. I'll do it again, only next time I won't get caught.' "

Dr Ginott says that "...the problem with punishment was that it didn't work, that it was a distraction, that instead of the child feeling sorry for what he has done and thinking about how he can make amends, he becomes preoccupied with revenge fantasies. In other words, by punishing a child, we actually deprive him of the very important inner process of facing his own misbehavior."

All of this is written on pages 92 and 93 of How To Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. I love this book, so full of practical help and examples. I do get angry in the moment but I don't really have the heart for punishment. I can't sustain the indignation. Once I'm over whatever it is, I'm too soft to keep the punishment going.

Today: Success! but it's a bit of a cheat's day today. I let Charlie watch TV on weekends and "packing days" (days that I'm packing for a trip and trying to tidy the house before we leave) and today was a packing day. We are now in Perth for a family wedding and there weren't any times today when I wanted to yell at Charlie. Though that was easy because he was happy watching Chuggington for most of the day and not underfoot.

The photo above was taken last week. That is permanent marker on the denim quilt I took years to finish. I didn't yell. I'm over it now. Do you like the way Charlie is pointing with his middle finger?!


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Day 3: Physical Closeness


When Charlie was a baby I tried to be an attachment parent. Now with Mia I am doing some attachment parenting style things (baby wearing and co-sleeping come to mind) but I've forgotten about the label and I'm just trying to parent the best way I know how without categorising ourselves.

Todays pearl comes from The Aware Baby  by Aletha J. Solter, and I'll have more to say about this book another day, but to expand on this pearl Solter goes on to say "... babies need physical closeness when falling asleep. I therefore recommend holding your baby or lying down with her until she falls asleep." p.109.

Not many people tell you that. In fact, the prevailing wisdom is all about how to get your baby to not need you to fall asleep. So there you go. If you're like me and still lying down with your three year old to put them to sleep at night you're not alone. And if your 8 month old wakes up every sleep cycle until you come to bed I can't help you, cause mine is too! Charlie was the same at this age, I thought it was from the upheaval of moving house but seems that's just what my babies do.

Today: I'm very happy with our day today :) We were out all day, and Charlie really was a sweetheart all day. And that included grocery shopping and a couple of hours at the hairdressers. We're only 3 days in but I'm going to draw a conclusion already. Charlie has actually been quite delightful the last two days and I think having a bit more time and physical closeness with me is helping. Oh, and I didn't yell today, though I had an opportunity to at bed time when I came in to the bedroom to find that Charlie had pulled more wallpaper off the wall. So glad I didn't. When I told him he wasn't supposed to do that, he said rubbish bin and picked up all the pieces and put them in the rubbish bin. That's a win right?


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Day 2: Nonviolent Communication


This little pearl comes from Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D. a book that is on my re-read list. So many pearls in this book, because it is true, you can't make people do anything, you can only make them wish they did. As Rosenberg recounts with his own children "eventually they taught me that any time I was foolish enough to make them wish they had complied by punishing them, they had ways of making me wish that I hadn't!" P.22

I definitely find this with Charlie too. Those times when I have lost my cool and yelled at him or given him a whack, he has gotten quite mad, it makes him worse! He gets more upset and enraged. It is not helpful at all. It temporarily makes me feel better for having released my own rage but I almost instantly regret it. I need to remember this in the moment next time. The temporary relief from my own feelings is not worth it, and it is the exact opposite of the behaviour I want to "model".

Today: though I did yell at Charlie (early in our day) the day on a whole felt more successful. The house is a bomb, and Mia will probably wake up every half an hour until I go to bed, but I'm happier. Charlie was pretty well behaved, though like I said above, when I yelled at Charlie he got upset and yelled back at me and tried to hit me.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Model Behaviour

[sticker face*]

Do you like my play on words there? I would love model behaviour from my children but this series is really about the behaviour that I model. If I want different results I've got to do things differently right?! Even Einstein said it "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Before I had children, I was desperate for something small to love and The Dog Whisperer was my favourite tv show. Cesar Milan is a master dog behaviourist, he always said I don't train dogs I train people. People thought Cesar was going to fix the behaviour of their dogs but what he did was change the way people dealt with their problem dogs. At least I know the issue is with me...

So, today... well it was a success in the fact that I didn't smack Charlie or yell. I did raise my voice though and my goodness I wanted to hit him. Charlie is just turned three and he is testing me. The day didn't feel like a success.

There was a particularly frustrating/annoying/angering period while I was trying to have a phone conversation with my brother. I guess it's that thing that as soon as you're on the phone your kids can't stand not having your attention. Charlie kept ramming me with his head, I had my hands full juggling a crying baby and the phone. It was hard to physically stop him, and of course keep talking to my brother while I ask Charlie to stop/tell him to stop. The universe is hilarious, all this happening on the phone to my brother, who has two well behaved girls. I proceeded to receive advice contrary to my aims all the while my brother can hear the chaos and how ineffective I was being. I had to laugh when I admitted that I wanted to smack Charlie and my brother said to me "you know why?? Instinct!"

Anyway, no pearls of wisdom today except that if you indicate to the universe/God your intentions, you will be given plenty of opportunities to practice.


*photo taken yesterday showing the darling cheeky spark I'm parenting