Posts Tagged "Life With 3"

Why Are You Yelling?

Posted on Apr 15, 2013 in Featured, Parenting | 1 comment

Why Are You Yelling?

I want to tell you a little story. I’m with my kids in their bedroom, trying to get them to tidy up and put on pjs before bed. The room is a mess and I’m already a little annoyed when I see the state of the room, but I’m ok. I assign each child a specific job and I start grabbing dirty clothes. My daughter starts picking up. My son starts playing. I ask him to stop playing and pick up. My daughter finishes what she was picking up and now I ask her to get into her pjs and go brush her teeth. She drops her dirty clothes where she is standing, pulls out five things from her pj drawer, drops them on the ground, puts on her chosen pjs and goes downstairs to brush her teeth. I call her back to put her things in her drawer. I remind my son not to play, just pick up. I ask my daughter to put her dirty clothes in the hamper. She starts screaming at her brother. I sort out the scuffle. Remind him to pick up. Remind her to take her dirty clothes. All the while, I am also tidying the room, and dealing with my toddler. I go to help my son and keep him on task.  I’m getting frustrated that he is not listening to me. My daughter has forgotten her dirty clothes. I pick them up and go to put them in the hamper. I discover that earlier in the day my daughter has stashed a bunch of toys at the bottom of the dirty clothes hamper. I call her back from the bathroom where she is supposedly brushing her teeth but is in fact spraying water on the mirror with a squirt bottle. This is not that bizarre of a scene. I’m sure something similar goes on in every family. I find that this procedure goes best if I only give the kids one instruction at a time, and if I am as specific as I can be so that essentially, I’m verbally walking them through every step of the process. This way, they can’t get sidetracked or overwhelmed by the task because it’s broken down into manageable pieces. Now, imagine that one step is “Please pick up the necklace and put it on the shelf,” but you can’t remember the word necklace or the word shelf. On a daily basis, my ability to recall basic vocabulary is seriously impaired by lack of sleep. Every step of that clean up routine involves great mental effort for me to just give out basic instructions. Many of my instructions actually come out like this “please pick up the…the… the…gold thing. Yes, that, there. Put it on the…the…shelf.” Of course, it gets worse the more stressed I get. So, for instance, if I’m already a little annoyed that their room is so messy, and as the whole scene drags on, and I just want to get to the part where we are reading stories together, or where they are in bed so I can have a break, the more I begin to stumble over my words. When this is coupled with the frustration of feeling ignored (because kids don’t want to clean up, or go to bed, and because kids get distracted because they live in their imaginations) but which to me feels disrespectful, and means I have to repeat myself when I’m already struggling as it is to say simple things even once, I start to lose my temper. And eventually I find myself yelling, partly to get their attention, but mostly because I’m so frustrated that I can’t form a sentence. This is not an exaggeration. This just happened again as I was typing this. Aaron was putting away laundry that I had folded earlier today and I tried to tell him that the pillowcase, though in a pile with some towels, needed to be put somewhere else. But I was staring at the pillowcase, knowing it was a pillowcase, and yet totally unable to...

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Six Things I Have Learned About Baby Sleep

Posted on Jan 30, 2013 in Featured, Sleeping | 3 comments

Six Things I Have Learned About Baby Sleep

Eight years ago, I was pregnant with my first child and I knew that I would probably have some sleepless nights in my future. It turns out that I didn’t even know the half of it. No one tells you ahead of time how bad it can be or how to cope, but three kids later, I’ve learned a couple of things: 6. Babies Get Tired Every Two Hours Little babies can only be up for about two hours before they are tired again. Knowing this can make all the difference in how your days unfold. Knowing this can soften sleep struggles. Take note of when they get up and watch them after about two hours. It’s easier to put a sleepy baby to bed than to fight a baby who is either over-tired or not tired at all. 5. Babies Have ~45 Minute Sleep Cycles Thanks to Elizabeth Pantley for teaching me this one. We all sleep in cycles of deep sleep and light sleep, and we all wake up at various times during the night before returning back to sleep. The problems for parents and babies are: Our sleep cycles are different lengths (baby cycles being quite a bit shorter than ours). Babies wake more frequently than we do and often wake when we are in a deeper part of our sleep cycle making it more painful for us to wake up (though breastfeeding and co-sleeping both help to sync mother and baby sleep cycles). Babies don’t always know how to go back to sleep when they wake up during a lighter stage of their sleep cycle. This is why a baby who has a particular sleep association (like say, nursing to sleep as all my children have had) will wake hourly all night long and want to use that same method to go back to sleep. I happen to think that nursing to sleep is normal based on the biological systems that support it. However, it did help to know what was going on when my babies started waking hourly, or why a baby will only take 50 minute naps. 4. Put Down The Sleep Books I’ve said this before, but this one is pretty big for me so I will say it again: the more I read the sleep books, the more likely I was not in a good head space about our sleep situation. I’m not saying that you should never ever pick up a book on baby sleep. Many of them are super helpful. Some of them are not. Also, as I indicated with the two points above, it IS worth knowing a bit about the mechanics and biology of baby sleep and naps. Absolutely. But when you are obsessively reading more than one sleep book at a time, keeping sleep logs, counting wake ups, comparing last week to this week, plotting, strategizing, and reaching for another sleep book, there’s a pretty good chance that you need: support a break to clear your life of commitments to accept that this what is happening for you now, but it won’t last forever I’m glad I read some of the books when I had my first baby. But I’m also glad that I eventually realized that I never needed to read them ever again. (This also goes for googling: how to get my baby to sleep or why is my baby waking up so much). 3. It Sucks When People Tell You That The Baby Years Go Fast, But It’s True You know above where I said that you have to accept that this is what is happening now but it won’t last forever? You might have sworn at me under your breath. I hated, HATED, it when people said variations of “all this will one day be a memory” and I could have punched them in the throat when they even hinted that I would miss it. When I was in the depths of psychotic sleep deprivation, this is about the least helpful thing you could say to me. For someone who is struggling...

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Things I Have Learned From Having More Than One Child

Posted on Nov 7, 2012 in Featured, Parenting | 8 comments

Things I Have Learned From Having More Than One Child

It seems to me that 90% of parenting you have to learn from experience, as you go. You can read books, have friends tell you all the dirty details, consult the experts, but until you find yourself discussing the consistency of poop at dinner with the neighbours you probably didn’t know what you were going to do, or what you’d have to do, to raise an infant to adulthood. In light of that, there are some things about parenting that I did not get as a parent of only one child. It was the experience of parenting multiple kids that taught me these little truths. **Here I must insert my disclaimer to say that I don’t mean this to be condescending to parents of a single child, whether it be by choice, by accident, or because they just haven’t had their future kids yet. I am only speaking to my experience of having learned these things through the act of parenting two or more kids. This isn’t an attack on parents of one, especially given the fact that even if parents of one never learn these things, they have other strengths and positives in their situation that I will never have the chance to experience.** Here’s what I know now, that I didn’t know when I only had Rain: It wasn’t all my parenting. It was mostly the kid. Sure, I’ve had some positive effects on my kids…but all that smugness, thinking that I’d done all these things right (or for that matter, even the guilt about the things I thought were my fault)? So much of it is just the personality of the child or the circumstances at the time. My son was toilet trained in 6 weeks. My daughter took 6 months. I don’t get points for any of it, except maybe being willing to go with the flow. Every kid has the potential to be an asshole. And an angel. Yes, even mine. And yours. You know that mama bear reaction you have when a bigger kid on the playground is being mean, aggressive, or bossy to your kid? When they throw sand in your baby’s face, or snatch a toy, or kick your sweet darling in the back because they went down the slide before your kid got off? You know that feeling when you look at the other child, thinking that he’s totally rude and aggressive, downright nasty, maybe even a brat (and you haven’t even gotten started on all the ways it’s the mother’s fault). Your kiddo seems so little still next to the other kids and you are biologically programmed to want to protect them from all harm. How about this? Your three year old is throwing a tantrum and has accidentally punched your three day old baby in the stomach. Your first reaction is to protect your baby, and you feel yourself going mama bear on your precious first born. But then you see how he’s hurting and confused and still little too. You realize that it could be your kid on the playground being mean, aggressive or bossy to someone younger and you love him anyway. You realize that all the kids out there are sometimes the rough ones, the selfish ones, the rude ones, and sometimes, the sweet ones, the funny ones, the little ones. When your kid is going through a difficult phase, you recognize it as a developmental stage or the full moon or a long day or a bad mood and worry less about what that means in the long term. You finally understand that they aren’t defined by a snapshot of their behaviour on any given day – they are all of that and more. After that, it’s a lot easier to be charitable to other people’s kids, and to your own, when they don’t play nice. A little crying isn’t the end of the world. With my firstborn, every time he cried it was earth shatteringly upsetting to me. I jumped to soothe and fix it every time. Once you have two kids that...

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Pleasantly Surprised

Posted on Oct 13, 2012 in Eliza Brownhome, Simple Living | 3 comments

Pleasantly Surprised

I mentioned last week that in the months preceding this move, I was a tad anxious. The night we signed our lease, I laid in our King size bed and wondered, “What have we done?!?!” Then in May, as we were gearing up to move and our little cabin addition (with laundry and bathroom) was still far from finished, I developed stress-induced eczema on my foot. At some points, it was so painful that I could barely walk. I was functioning: packing, feeding the kids, doing everything that needed to be done, and wasn’t really feeling super stressed, but obviously the question of how we were going to make this work was weighing heavily on my mind. Our move went relatively smoothly as far as moves go, but it was still a move with three kids in tow. It was hard and exhausting and followed by a really unfortunate dispute with our former landlord. The cooling unit in our bus fridge fried itself and the company shipping the gigantic replacement part made a mistake and didn’t ship it which meant that for the first two weeks after our move, we had no fridge. Our summer started off cold and rainy so despite being the end of June, we were still having to heat the bus with the woodstove. To top it all off, we had no way to do laundry and we were generating at least a load a day. I tried hauling all three kids to the laundromat twice before I vowed to find a different solution. Sounds like a recipe for unhappiness, doesn’t it? But it wasn’t. As soon as we got all the boxes unpacked, everything was ok. I was amazed. It felt…well, it felt good to be home. I couldn’t believe it. I was pleasantly surprised to find that: The kids took the move in stride. They were so happy to be running around on the farm, exploring and checking out the animals. Noa was heard several times a week sighing wistfully and saying “Isn’t it wonderful?” There was far less mess to deal with. It only takes minutes to clean up a 300 sq ft space and the kids seemed to like knowing that everything had it’s own place. They were really good about putting away one toy/activity before taking out anything new. I spent far less time picking up after them than I had at our previous houses. The kids argued less about tidying up. In fact, they hardly argue about it at all anymore. We were in the bus for 10 whole days the first time either of the big kids complained about having to pick up their things. In our old houses, these arguments were daily occurrences. Now, they just seem to get it that there isn’t any space to play lego if their puzzle is still laying out. I didn’t mind doing dishes. I’m not a big fan of doing dishes and I was really lamenting the loss of our dishwasher, but I found that washing up after every meal provided a nice rhythm to the day and it was intensely satisfying to see our tiny lovely kitchen all clean and sparkling after only 15 minutes of work. More importantly, because I was spending less time arguing with and picking up after the kids, I actually had the time and energy to do the dishes. Silas’s sleep even started to improve after we moved (we’re still a long way off though). Even when the bus is an utter disaster, it takes only a matter of minutes to clean up. A friend was coming for tea at 9am, which is a little early for me to get functioning. Nevertheless, I had all the beds made, dishes done, counters wiped, floors swept, kids fed and dressed, all before my friend arrived. Anyone looking at our ramshackle, construction zone, make do, cramped bus from the outside might not understand this: somehow – despite the unfinished cabin; despite everything we’re juggling at the moment; despite the inconveniences of laundry, bathing, and sleeping arrangements; despite...

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Weaning, Fertility and Moving On

Posted on Feb 21, 2012 in Featured, Parenting | 8 comments

Weaning, Fertility and Moving On

Last week, as I picked up Silas after his nap, I folded my arms around him, nestled my face into his neck to kiss him, and he exhaled the sweet smell of breastmilk. It was a few days before his first birthday and as I breathed in deeply, trying to save the memory of it forever, I knew it would be one of the last times I would smell that sweet odor on his breath. I would be lying if I said that it didn’t make me almost unbearably sad. I nursed my older two children both until they were just a few months shy of three years old. I assume it will be the same with Silas. However, the weaning has already begun. He eats table food and I can go out for four hours without him needing me. The frequency of his nursing will be gradually diminishing over the course of this next year, until I notice that he only nurses when he’s sad or hurt or going down for a nap. And then, another day, I will realize that he hasn’t nursed in a few days and I can’t even remember when the last time was. Newborns seem to always have that milk breath smell about them. But toddlers—and Silas certainly seems to be crossing into toddler territory these days—toddlers have their own smells. Soon enough, the milk breath will be just a memory. It seemed fitting that this moment should have come during the week of his first birthday, as I reflect on his birth, as I try to make peace with the idea of not having a baby anymore, or ever again. With all of this comes the realization that my menses should resume soon. I am still waiting, but I feel my body changing, gearing up as it were. I never was one of those moon-goddess women who celebrated having my period or who saw it as some divine female rite. To be honest, it is painful, uncomfortable, messy and pretty much a pain in the ass… However, as a woman of childbearing age, I can appreciate the idea of being connected to the rhythms of my body, and as a mother, I am grateful that fertility-wise I had little trouble conceiving, that I had knowledge and more or less the control over whether and when we had children. I never did look forward to getting my period back after each of my children were born—though I likely would have felt differently if we had been anxious to conceive again and it was nowhere in sight. Now, at this point in my childbearing path, when I consider that my fertility will be returning soon, I can’t help but feel more than a little put out. It seems pretty pointless for me to continue to endure the downsides of female fertility despite the fact that we have made the (mostly) permanent decision not to have any more children. Aaron went in for a vasectomy last summer, when Silas was  six months old. On the face of it, I’m ok with that. We have three beautiful children and that often feels like a lot. My life, and my hands, are very full. I’m tired. I look forward to a time when I’ll be able to sleep again and have time to focus on some of my personal dreams in a more focused and meaningful way than I have been able to as the constant mother of a nursling. I blogged when I was pregnant with Silas about being done having kids and mostly, I am. Nevertheless, I cried when I picked Aaron up from his appointment. As much as I am certain that three kids is enough for us given our resources (time, money, energy, support systems), it is so hard to let go of this phase in my life. I love babies and I mostly enjoyed pregnancy. I had really fulfilling complication-free homebirths and I am at ease as a nursing mother. I will miss each of these things. A lot. As much as...

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