Once Upon A Mommy

The Ups, Downs and All Arounds of Raising a Family

Film Wrap Leeches Chemicals

Film wrap has changed over the years and poses harm to our health. Is there an alternative?

I always love going to Christmas craft fairs. It’s a chance for me to be without the kids and admire the novel, creative ideas of others.

When I was at the Circle Craft Fair the other week, I discovered a natural alternative to film wrap. It’s called Abeego – a reusable beeswax wrap that breathes. The wrap protects food from air and moisture and lets it breathe at the same time. It’s also safer substitute compared to using film wrap.

It seems like I’ve been on a journey of trying to eliminate harmful chemicals from my home. I’ve started with diapers and wipes, and then soap and laundry detergent. When the opportunity for replacing my plastic wrap presented itself, I was curious.

While I’m not familiar with all the ins and outs of plastic wrap, I know enough to speculate that it’s not a healthy idea….especially when heated in the microwave. I can only imagine the chemicals have the potential to leech into my food within the fridge as well. I’m not willing to gamble with that risk.

From my brief research, I’ve discovered that the plastics used to make film wrap have changed over the years. Originally, plastic wrap was made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) due to its flexibility properties. However, PVC contains phthalates which are hormone disruptors and they are chemical leechers.

In 2006, manufactures changed chemicals the to low-density polyethylene (LDPE) or polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC), which are phthalate free. However, they don’t cling as well and they are potentially linked to breast cancer and low sperm count.

Unlike food products, manufactures do not need to include an ingredient list on their products. Therefore, consumers are left vulnerable and at risk.

I was already familiar with the concept of using beeswax to create a version of plastic wrap. My sister-in-law made some for herself. While I like the idea of making it from scratch, I’m realistic enough to know it’s not going to happen anytime soon. Therefore, when I saw the vendor at the craft fair, I snatched up a pack!

Abeego – Set of 3

Film Wrap

I really like the reusable factor – it supports my environmental values and solves the problem of using plastic wrap. I also like the idea of keeping the food alive due to its breathable capabilities. However, to be honest, my only uncertainty towards using the product is my unclear stance on using bee products. I’m not educated enough on the topic and I don’t fully know where I stand yet. In the meantime, this is an appropriate alternative for me.

In the end, I ordered several packages for Christmas gifts. I like the variety pack the best because you get to experiment with 3 sizes. I’m experimenting with the product for now. It definitely doesn’t stick the way plastic wrap does but I’m keeping an open mind. Hopefully, I’ll continue the journey and start moving away from my plastic and Tupperware containers too.

Check out Abeego to see their variety of sizes and demonstration videos.

Brush Your Teeth – Avoiding Power Struggles With Your Children

Brush Your Teeth

www.istock.com

Brush your teeth every day, twice a day, for ideal oral hygiene. While this advice may be easy for adults, how do you get your kids to cooperate?

Brushing teeth with children can often resort to power struggles. I’m often at a loss with how to make this routine the least stressful in order to divert aversion. My goal is to make the experience as pleasant as possible in order for my children to have positive associations with teeth brushing.

I’m not going to lie. There are times when the power struggle has been so strong that I resorted to force out of sheer desperation. I’ve been told by dental hygienists to use whatever tactic necessary, including holding their hands down, to get the job done. However, I’m fearful if I force the experience, they will develop a negative association when they are adults. While there have been times that I’ve held my daughter’s hands while she has a hissy fit, it isn’t my preferred way. As a result, I’m left with trying to find creative solutions to make brushing teeth the most pain free as possible.

When my daughter was younger, it was easier to sing songs and use distraction techniques. Sometimes, I’ve counted backwards or come up with silly ideas like “brushing the sparkles off her teeth.” We’ve talked about sugar bugs and what happens if we don’t brush properly. I’ve even pointed out children with silver teeth to show her the consequences of not brushing properly.

I’ve found that that these strategies have worked well for different ages or seasons of time. I have to constantly reinvent myself in order to keep up with my aging child. She is now nearing 6 years old and I’m having to change my approach, yet again.

The other night, I came up with a new strategy for brushing teeth:

I told Ella if she can brush her teeth before the timer beeps, she can get 5 minutes to play before bedtime. I set the oven timer for 3 minutes, giving myself enough time to brush her teeth plus a buffer so she’d be successful, and then pretended to be in a rush to brush her teeth. I brushed for over 2 minutes and still had 11 seconds to spare! It seemed to work. Hopefully I can rely on this tactic to avoid future teeth brushing struggles.

Below are a few other strategies to use to brush your teeth:

Reward Charts: here’s a Printable Toothbrushing Chart from happinessishomemade.net

Brush Your Teeth

Brush Your Teeth Chart

Brushing Teeth Timer: a sand hourglass with a 2 minute timer

Smile Tooth 2 Minute Sand Timer Assorted colors

Songs: the teeth brushing song from Raffi

Education: a kid friendly video on why we brush our teeth

Below are some basic tips and rules for teeth brushing I thought were necessary to share:

  • As soon as your baby has their first tooth appear, you should start brushing. Even before the teeth rupture the gums, you can run a damp cloth along your child’s gums in order to get them use to the sensations and to develop some sort of habit.
  • By the time your child is 1 years old, or 6 months after the first tooth erupts, take your child to see the dentist. Usually the dentist will give your child a ride in the chair and count their teeth. The main point is to intervene for tooth decay and give your child a positive experience with the dentist to avoid future anxieties.
  • Use a child-sized toothbrush with soft bristles. Replace it after 3-4 months or as soon as it shows wear. It is not recommended to share toothbrushes with other people in order to reduce the transferring of germs.
  • Use a small dose of toothpaste, the size of a grain of rice, until age 3. Afterwards, increase to the size of a pea. Brush twice a day in the morning and before bed for at least 2 minutes. The molars should be your biggest priority because this is where cavities are more likely.
  • As soon as two teeth emerge that touch, floss your child’s teeth once a day. I find the floss sticks super helpful for this task.
  • Brush in a gentle circular motion with the brush at a 45 degree angle beside your teeth. The gums are at risk of receding if you brush in a vigorous back and forth motion.
  • At about age 6-7, children have the skills and coordination to brush independently. However, I’d still do a check over to ensure they did a sufficient job.
  • Fluoride can have mixed reviews depending on who you talk to. The American Dental Association recommends it. The Canadian Dental Association “supports the appropriate use of fluoride in dentistry,” which sounds like a broad application. Check out their website for more information.

Here’s some resources from the Canadian Dental Association:

An Egg Experiment – Egg shells and teeth are both made of calcium and are weakened by acid. Try this fun experiment to show your children how fluoride can strengthen your teeth and lock in the calcium.

Canadian Dental Association – information on teeth cleaning, tooth decay, fluoride, Halloween, and pacifiers/thumb sucking

 

 

Citric Acid – What’s In Your Food?

It’s been a couple months since I’ve been navigating the world of solids with Jack. While I try to make his food a majority of the time, I have come to rely on puree pouches when I’m out and about. My favorite product is Love Child Organics. I feel good about this product because it’s organic with a super clean list of ingredients. Whatever it says on the front is exactly what’s in the ingredient list on the back. For example, this pouch has apples, spinach, kiwi, broccoli, water, quinoa, acerola, and lemon juice concentrate.

Love Child Organics Super Blends Purees – Spinach, Broccoli, Kiwi & Apples – 4 oz – 6 pkWhile they claim there’s no added sugars, I know enough about the hidden name of sugars to know that lemon juice concentrate is probably sugar. I can get over that. At least it’s the last ingredient on the list rather than the top 3.

The other day I was pondering about the acerola fruit used instead of citric acid. I recall the vendor at the food convention (where I discovered the product) telling me why acerola was more superior to citric acid but I couldn’t remember the specifics. I decided to research citric acid and was horrified by what I found.

In the article, “What You Need To Know About Citric Acid,” I discovered that citric acid is no longer made from lemons, which I assumed it was. Whenever I’ve seen citric acid on an ingredient list, my logic figured it’s a safe bet because it’s a recognizable and familiar ingredient. Little did I know that food scientists have been creating citric acid from BLACK MOLD!!! Can you believe it?!?!

Here’s another article that talks about how citric acid is harming our body and even causing tooth decay: “Is Citric Acid Truly Safe.”

So do your best to watch out for this ingredient! It’s amazing what we don’t know about the food we’re consuming. It sure makes my stomach churn when I visualize black mold in my food. Who would have thought?

Focused Parenting – Disciplining Children

Power of FocusFocused Parenting – One of the Seven Powers in “Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline” by Becky A. Bailey

I was initially prompted to start writing on the topic of focus in relation to parenting and discipline. However, once I started writing, one post evolved into four. Oops. I got carried away.

Focus is a massive topic for me that brings together tonnes of insight and knowledge over the past few years. As soon as I started writing, I was flooded with experiences and all the ways I could communicate this subject and hopefully add value to other peoples’ lives. Even after I’ve posted the previous three posts, I’m continuing to learn more about the power of focus.

The initial intention to start writing about this topic stemmed from a book I came across in my parenting class called, “Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline” by Becky A. Bailey. In this book, she talks about the Seven Powers of Self Control. One of the seven powers is called The Power of Focus.

Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline: The 7 Basic Skills for Turning Conflict into Cooperation

Throughout the class, I came to realize that I can set my children up for success or failure based on what I choose to focus on. I’m the leader and how I pose my questions, commands or requests will determine which way they behave. Unbeknownst to me, I was setting up Ella to be disciplined unfairly when her actions were really a reflection of my poor focus and leadership rather than her misbehavior or failing to answer my question as I would have liked her to.

Through the power of focus, I am learning to phrase my communication around what I want instead of what I don’t want. For example, instead of saying, “Don’t throw food,” I would say, “Keep the food on the table.” I’m instructing my children based on the positive action that I want to see instead of highlighting the behaviour I’m trying to avoid.

What we focus on expands. You will get more of what you focus on. Compare it to driving: if you’re driving a car on the highway, you focus on where you are going rather than on the streetlights. However, if you fixated on the streetlights, I guarantee you’ll hit one.

A mom in my parent group shared an experience she had with her husband. Before he went grocery shopping, she told him that she didn’t like overripe bananas with brown spots. When he returned, he brought her back overripe bananas with brown spots. We all had a good laugh. But why did he do that? Because that’s what he heard and what stuck in his head. It happens all the time. We say, “Don’t forget to buy bread” and that’s what we exactly do…forget to buy the bread. Instead of saying, “Don’t forget ______” you could say, “Remember ______.” That way, the visual of what we do want remembered stays in the mind.

Let’s put this into practice. With your children, are you focusing on what you want or don’t want? When you are getting upset with them, ask yourself, “Do I want more of this in my life?” If the answer is no, then focus on telling your child what you want them to do instead and why.

This week, start noticing how you talk and think. What are you focusing on? What is one thing you can change in your language to help guide your children more towards what you do want? Most days, I catch myself slightly tweaking my language so I can get more of the behavior I do want. As a result, there is less need to get frustrated or correct misbehavior.

If you’re new, come check me out on Facebook and join my community: www.facebook.com/onceuponamommy.perfectlyimperfect

If you’re interested in my other 3 posts that came out of this one, here they are:

Focused Thinking – Choosing the Positive

Power of Perception – Shifing Your Focus

Power of Focus – What You Focus On Expands

 

 

Image courtesy of Tanatat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Crazy Hour – Dinner Time

Dinner time, by far, is the most challenging time since having a second child. During the day isn’t as crazy because Ella is in school and I can at least take it easy. However, at dinner time, all things come colliding together into a crazy mess.

I came across this article from Dr Laura Markham, a leading expert in Attachment theory, called “Surviving Arsenic Hour.” I found a lot of her suggestions helpful reminders to keep me on the path of attachment and connection.

I particularly liked the second suggestion:

“Before you pick up your kids, sit in the car for five minutes by yourself.

Put on some soothing music. Breathe deeply. Notice the sensations in your body. Acknowledge how you’re feeling…Tell yourself what a good job you did all day. Think of one nice thing you can do for yourself this evening and promise yourself that present tonight. Acknowledge that after the kids go to sleep is your time, this next few hours is “kid time.” Then, get in touch with how much you love your kids and how much you want a nice connection with them. Once you’ve filled your own cup, you’ll find you have a lot more to offer your kids.”

I find this suggestion centers me and reminds me of what I value. I so often get caught up in the activities of the day and all the things I “think” I need to do. Making the priority to be present with my children helps me put aside my agenda and realigns me with what really matters.

Furthermore, I am encouraged to get in touch with how much I love my children. To be honest, I have been struggling with my attachment to Ella (I plan to share more about this later). But for now, creating the opportunity to mediate on my love for her allows me to be more present rather than distracted.

Lastly, this suggestion acknowledges the good things I have done today and honors the need to take care of myself after the kids are in bed. It is so true: when my bucket is full, I have more emotional capacity for my kids.

Here are some books by Dr. Laura Markham that I would love to read:

laura markham

laura markam

 

 

Homemade Cloth Wipes Solution

Clothes wipes can seriously add up in cost and negatively impact the environment. Furthermore, the ingredient list can be sketchy with chemicals that can irritate the skin, create organ toxicity, or link to cancer. Yikes!

I fall on the side of trying to be as environmentally responsible and chemical-free as possible while still trying not to spend too much money. For the first 6 months of Jack’s life, I have forced myself to be at peace with spending more money on diaper wipes and diapers that are more aligned with my values.

While I’m not sane enough to go back to cloth diapers yet, I have started to venture into making my own cloth wipes. I spent $6.99 on 54 wipes the other day and that pushed me over the edge into homemade land.

So far, I’ve negotiated with myself  to use cloth wipes at home and store bought wipes when I’m out. I’m trying to balance mental health and practicality. When I feel more emotionally stable, I’m sure I’ll feel up to using cloth wipes outside of the home. For now, I’m choosing to go easy on myself and do only what is manageable for me.

I’ve been using the EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database to guide me towards the baby wipe products that have the least amount of chemical craziness. As of right now I’m using Naty by Nature Babycare Sensitive Wipes because they are available locally and have one of the lowest concerns towards their ingredient list.baby wipesHowever, I would like to ideally try the ATTITUDE Baby Natural baby wipes because they are the only wipes with the EWG stamp of approval. This means I need to buy them online, which I’m prepared to do. baby wipes

My plan of action is to use the ATTITUDE wipes when I’m on the go and my homemade cloth wipe solution at home. This is the recipe I started using from Zany Zebra Designs website:

Lavender ‘n’ Tea Tree

1/8 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon baby shampoo
4 drops tea tree oil
8 drops lavender oil
3 cups water

I’m making small batches so the solution doesn’t get musty. For the baby shampoo, I’m using Dr Bronner’s baby unscented pure castile liquid soap since it’s fair trade, organic and without all the crazy chemical stuff. Plus you can use it in many different ways from bathing to laundry and mopping floors.

baby shampoo

Focused Thinking – Choosing the Positive

In my journey through my various seasons of depression, I have extensively focused on the negative thoughts, feelings and sensations in efforts to reduce their intensity. I have spent so much time and effort working incredibly and ridiculously hard to not feel the sadness, anger, anxiety, dread, despair, discontentment, unhappiness…. But of course, what I focus on expands.

focused thinking

However, in the last month, I have realized that it isn’t enough to just minimize the undesirable. Reducing the negative does not default to automatically experiencing the positive. My AHA moment was discovering that the positive behaviors I desire are habits that I need to cultivate and practice. Wow, that means I really have my work cut out for me! Not only do I need to use skills to reduce the unfavorable, I need to use more skills to practice that which I want. Using skills is a lot of work.

As I continue to catch the moments of happiness, joy and contentment, and as I notice the smile on my face or sparkle in my eye, I continue to expand and create more of it. Although it would be easy to wish away all the negative and hope to never have to experience it, I have accepted the truth that I can only begin to feel the highs when I embrace the lows. I can’t know joy without knowing sadness. I can’t feel peace without first feeling the war within me. We can’t have one emotion at the exclusion of the others – trying to pick and choose the ones we like best. Brené Brown, one of my favorite authors, says, “We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.”

Although I will continue to feel painful emotions, as we all do, I do have the power of focus. While I can acknowledge the feeling and be curious about its presence, I can shift gears and choose to concentrate on that which brings more life, radiance and abundance.

 

Not So Perfect Parenting – Making Repairs

perfect parenting

Perfect parenting doesn’t exist so I’m learning.

I had a not so glamorous moment at gymnastics yesterday. In hindsight, I realized that I had been brewing with impatience and frustration the hour before. I was annoyed trying to get Ella to gymnastics on time. I was inconvenienced by her resistance to go to class. And, if I’m really honest, I was afraid of wasting money on a class that she didn’t want to attend.

I started to get into logic mode by reminding her that this is what she wanted to do. I spent money so she could do it. She doesn’t have to participate but she needs to sit with her class…blah blah blah. It wasn’t what she need in that moment but I clearly didn’t have the emotional capacity to do otherwise.

I managed to get her to gymnastics with some struggle and opposition. Nevertheless, I got her there and figured I was home free. Up until that point I thought I had a relatively good attitude about the whole thing and didn’t think I was bothered by the prior circumstances. However, by the time we arrived at class and she started to cling to me, my anger started to rise to the surface.

A whole slew of emotions arose within me and the least of them was compassion. I was embarrassed in front of the people watching. I was inconvenienced because I wanted my break. I was concerned because I had left Jack on the sidelines. I was annoyed about wasting money. I was also fearful, frustrated, angry, impatient, and probably a list of other emotions I wasn’t even aware of at the time.

Once again, I was in logic mode trying to stop her from feeling what she was feeling. I didn’t want to bother with all my skills. I just wanted her to go back to her class and participate. I was disappointed with how I reacted to her. If I was in an emotional state like she was, I wouldn’t have wanted to be treated the way I treated her. I would have wanted compassion, empathy, validation, patience and gentleness.

Fortunately, there is redemption. There is a way to take a bad situation and turn it into good. It’s through repair. I believe that repairing is a powerful life skill to teach our children. Making amends for our mistakes gives us the opportunity to role model and demonstrate problem solving and conflict resolution skills. We’re never going to parent perfectly. In fact, trying to be perfect before our children is a disservice that creates a false illusion. As a result, they are not equipped when the less than pretty side of emotions show up…which they will. Consequently, they never learn how to deal with mistakes, accept forgiveness and offer apologies.

I was grateful to have a chance to make up for my wrong. After class, I apologized and took responsibility for my unkindness towards her. Although I can’t be perfect with my emotions or parenting, I can teach her valuable lessons through the messiness of it all. I can give my daughter a gift by showing her that my imperfections are a reality of the human condition. I can break the cycle of perfectionism from being inherent in her life by demonstrating the gentleness and compassion I offer myself. It excites me to think that perfectionism can stop with me and I have the privilege of training a new generation to have a kinder and loving relationship with themselves

PS. A lot of the skills and awareness I used came from the book, “The Surprising Purpose of Anger.” I was able to recognize that Ella clinging to me at gymnastics was just the trigger of my anger, not the cause. What caused me to be angry was the inner dialogue I was having with myself during the previous frustrating moments. The anger was a warning sign that there were other needs not being met. Once I identified the underlying emotions, I was able to offer compassion towards myself in order to curb my judgmental thoughts (although I did feel like the worst parent in the world in the beginning).

Check out more in my blog post here.

Power of Perception – Shifting Your Focus

Perception: “Reality doesn’t bite, rather our perception of reality bites.” – Anthony J. D’Angelo

In my personal life, I encountered a huge shift in my perception. For the longest time, I struggled with accepting the fact that life is going to happen to me whether I like it or not. As I kicked, screamed and dug my heels in, I ended up creating more suffering for myself. I kept falling victim to life and often felt I was kicked when already down. I fell prey to a “Why me?” mindset and felt tossed around by circumstances thrown my way. My thoughts were rampant and spiraled into negative dark alley ways. Don’t get me wrong, this is still a work in progress. I’m not out of the woods yet.

But breakthrough has started to occur! In Tony Robbins’s powerful documentary on Netflix, “I Am Not Your Guru,” he states, “Life is not happening TO you, it is happening FOR you.” This phrase rang true for me and switched on the light bulb. As a result, I am able to move away from a victim mindset into an empowered mentality. It has taken me a long time to come to acceptance that life will always do its thing and it’s up to me to change my attitude about it. The world is not going to change, people are not going to change, BUT I can change!

Focus

When I find myself stuck with my thoughts and wrestling to break free, I often come back to this quote: “What we think, say and do, is based on what we know. And what we know could be wrong.” This quote reminds me that I’m just one thought away from getting unstuck. All it takes is a slight shift in thinking to radically change the course of life. Tony calls this the 2 mm shift. It’s a fascinating concept that demonstrates how a small 2 mm shift can extrapolate over time into a completely different outcome.

As soon as I find myself getting upset or complaining, I have the opportunity to change my focus. In these moments, I’m learning to move away from complaining and to start reciting what I’m grateful for. Instead of asking “Why me?” questions, I’m learning to change my questions to “What is great about this problem?” Although these decisions are slight, they drastically change the directional trajectory my mind and focus was heading in.

Here’s the trailer for Tony’s documentary, “I Am Not Your Guru”:

Power of Focus – What You Focus On Expands

FocusFocus – Do you notice the thoughts you have each day? Do you pay attention to what you are paying attention to? This practice is called mindfulness: when you think about your thinking.

I’ve been discovering the power of focus and mindfulness in my everyday life with my moods, parenting, goals, problems and so forth. When I find myself upset or fixating on the negative, I notice that I need to take a step back and look at what I’m choosing to focus on. I often realize my perception is off kilter and needs adjusting.

T Harv Eker, author and motivational speaker, says, “What you focus on expands.” When we zero in on a certain thought, memory, idea, problem or feeling, it continues to grow and manifest – often down a different path than where we want to go. This is the nature of thoughts. They start off in one direction and then as we follow it, we find ourselves in a completely different place than where we started.

With me, this is usually an unhealthy place of worry, chaos or anxiety. Fortunately, I’m starting to notice more frequently how I work myself into a tizzy with just my thoughts. I could avoid building a mountain out of a molehill by checking the accuracy of my thinking and focusing my thoughts on what is true. As Joyce Meyer says, “You can’t get confused if you stop analyzing.”

Consider a dime: it’s only 1.8 cm in diameter. However, if we hold it a short distance away from our eye, it looks enormous. Conversely, if we are mindful enough to catch ourselves in the moment, we can pull away the dime and look at it from a distance. We soon discover that I really isn’t that big after all. The same is true with our problems: we see that they really aren’t that big if we can step back long enough to gain a different perspective.

One of my favorite speakers, Tony Robbins, says, “Your life is controlled by what you focus on.” He talks extensively on how to change your emotional state by changing your focus. Our feelings tend to quickly follow suite to whatever we are thinking about. Notice the language you use or the things you meditate on. Saying, “Always” or “Everybody” will produce a more elevated reaction compared to saying more factual statements like “A few times” or “1 or 2 people.” By shifting your focus you can change the emotions that follow.

I challenge you to start noticing your thoughts. What are you focusing on? If you are feeling upset or stressed, notice what is ruminating around and around in your mind. As you continue to focus on these thoughts, you will generate more thoughts similar in nature. Remember: what you focus on expands. Dwelling on negativity will breed more negativity. However, filling your mind with life, truth and positivity will radiate through you and overflow into the lives of others.

“What you focus on expands, and when you focus on the goodness in your life, you create more of it.” – Oprah Winfrey
Focus

Image courtesy of tuelekza at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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