Once Upon A Mommy

The Ups, Downs and All Arounds of Raising a Family

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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

Running Away – A Classic Childhood Tactic

Running AwayRunning away. Have you ever done it? I can’t say I have.

Disclosure: Ella didn’t really run away. It was all under parental supervision and was light-hearted in nature.

It all started when Ella found a toy in my trunk that was going to be a gift at an upcoming birthday party. Her discovery led to a fit of “no fair” which then mutated into a temper tantrum of varying degrees. After the dust had settled, she packed up her bags and decided to run away.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to deal with this milestone in her life. In the end, I decided to play along. I walked beside her as if I was helping her with her endeavour and asked several questions along the way:

“So where are you going to live?” – In a box in the trees

“What are you going to eat?” – I’ll pick blackberries

“How are you going to get to school?” – I’ll come home to get a ride

“Oh no you can’t come home. Once you runaway, this isn’t your home anymore.” – Then I’ll walk there

On and on this went with several unusual answers. I just pretended I was curious and wasn’t really that bothered by her running away (I’m not sure if this attitude is supported by Attachment theory or not). The whole thing was actually quite comical. She was so loaded down with her bags that she couldn’t get very far.

I eventually said good bye and asked when I’d see her again. She told me to say goodbye to Jack and tell him she loved him. Although I was just playing with her, I did feel a tinge of emotion at the thought of pretending to never see her again. Then I went inside the house and left her on the street to figure it out.

From within the house, I quietly watched behind the glass door. I video tapped short episodes of her trying to carry all her bags, stopping to readjust and then starting again. Every so often, she’d come back to the house and leave something special at the door.

Eventually Byron came home and talked with her for a bit. Then he mowed the lawn while pretending not to notice but still giving her the space to explore her new found freedom. At some point they resolved to have her sleep in the back of the truck instead of on the side of the road. So she happily set up her new living quarters.

In the end, what was it that got her to come in? Coyotes. She didn’t want to be attacked by coyotes. Who could blame her?

Crawling – A Necessary Stage of Development

crawling

Crawling seems to be bypassed by parents in order to encourage standing and walking. I had a situation today where I strongly felt the need to share some important developmental information to a new mom. However, I couldn’t decide if I needed to shut my mouth and let them figure it out or whether it would be detrimental to the child if I didn’t say something. In the end, I decided to share while trying to be really sensitive in my delivery since I know moms can get defensive. Perhaps it was the teacher side of me that couldn’t keep quiet. I was genuinely concerned for her baby’s development and well being. Therefore, I risked it and shared.

Her baby is 5 months old and she told me that she continuously allows him to stand with straight in order to develop strong legs. She treated it as weight training for babies.

While I know that babies naturally like to hold their legs straight, and it’s tempting to allow them to do so, it should be strongly discouraged. Both my chiropractor and public health nurse have stressed the importance of babies learning the necessary developmental milestone of crawling before they stand. Parents are very eager to have their babies to stand or walk. In fact, parents often feel proud as if it’s a sense of accomplishment if their child develops this skill before other children in their age group. As a result, they promote a lot of activities that encourage the child into upward positions.

However, from the information that I’ve gathered from developmental professionals, crawling is a crucial stage of development for infants. Therefore, we need to encourage play on the floor in order to allow babies the opportunity to crawl. It is so critical for their fine motor skills, spinal health and brain development. For example, the cross action of moving the arms and legs across the body stimulates the left and right sides of the brain which is integral to learning and brain health.

When babies learn to stand and walk too soon, it can compromise the body’s physical structure. My 13 years old babysitter is already complaining about chronic pain in her body. From my conversations with her, I discovered that she never crawled and started walking at 8 months old! It’s no wonder she is experiencing the pain that she is. I’ve confirmed this information with 2 chiropractors and they both agree that missing the stage of crawling has had a negative impact on my babysitter’s body. Apparently, it’s not too late for her! Even at her age, she can simulate crawling in order to regain the benefits even at her teenage age.

So please let your babies crawl. The standing and walking will come soon enough. All in due time.

 

 

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Independence – First Day of School

Independence Independence was the last thing I expected this morning when I dropped off Ella at school for Gr 1. As we approached the stairs to go up to her classroom she said, “I’d like to go by myself.”

Wow. It kind of stung that she didn’t need me but I was also proud. I also felt reassurance that my belief in attachment theory has proven true.

Every day of kindergarten I had to hand deliver her to her classroom. Sometimes without shoes on kicking and screaming. Sometimes she had to be pried from my arms. But most of the time I had to help her hang up her jacket and backpack. I thought I was spoiling her and encouraging dependence. It was painful to watch the other kids acting so much more independent as I compared the two.

However, I’m reminded of what I’ve learned about attachment theory and true independence. This past year, I have trusted that as I nurture her need for dependence, she would eventually develop true independence. I trusted that the independence I saw in the other children was not necessarily true independence. Sometimes it’s just children following the social norms and doing as they “should”.

Dr. Laura Markham, an attachment theorist, explains the concept of true independence further in this article from her blog. She is a psychologist I’d like to learn more about. A lot of her work, books and articles ring true for me. As I write this post, I’m reminded of her teachings on true independence. While I can’t remember the exact source of the information I found, this article will suffice.

Attachment theory supports the idea that as we hold close, children will eventually venture off and spread their wings. I witnessed that this morning and it was wonderful.

 

Image from afineparent.com

Bedtime Poem – Wynken, Blynken, and Nod

bedtime poemBedtime poem were always a part of my bedtime routine when I was a child. To this day, I have the poem “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod” stuck in my head from my mother repeating it on a nightly basis.

I have taken this same tradition and am trying to pass it onto my own children.

When I was pregnant with Ella, I repeated this poem frequently while she was in the womb. My logic was based on the theory that babies, after they are born, remember and react to sounds they heard in utero. My husband swears that Ella would stop crying whenever I would repeat the poem. Who knows for sure?

As part of Jack’s bedtime routine, I have incorporated the same poem. There are times he will stop crying mid-sentence as soon as I start. As a result, I thought it would be nice to share it here too.

 

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod

Eugene Field

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night

Sailed off in a wooden shoe,—

Sailed on a river of crystal light

Into a sea of dew.

“Where are you going, and what do you wish?”

The old moon asked the three.

“We have come to fish for the herring-fish

That live in this beautiful sea;

Nets of silver and gold have we,”

Said Wynken,

Blynken,

And Nod.

 

The old moon laughed and sang a song,

As they rocked in the wooden shoe;

And the wind that sped them all night long

Ruffled the waves of dew;

The little stars were the herring-fish

That lived in the beautiful sea.

“Now cast your nets wherever you wish,—

Never afraid are we!”

So cried the stars to the fishermen three,

Wynken,

Blynken,

And Nod.

 

All night long their nets they threw

To the stars in the twinkling foam,—

Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,

Bringing the fishermen home:

‘Twas all so pretty a sail, it seemed

As if it could not be;

And some folk thought ‘twas a dream they’d dreamed

Of sailing that beautiful sea;

But I shall name you the fishermen three:

Wynken,

Blynken,

And Nod.

 

Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,

And Nod is a little head,

And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies

Is a wee one’s trundle-bed;

So shut your eyes while Mother sings

Of wonderful sights that be,

And you shall see the beautiful things

As you rock in the misty sea

Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three:—

Wynken,

Blynken,

And Nod.

 

Image taken from www.capadiadesign.com

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