Posts Tagged "Parenting"

TV Guilt

Posted on Sep 30, 2011 in Featured, Parenting | 13 comments

TV Guilt

Lately I’ve been feeling considerable guilt and (mostly external) pressure to reduce the number of hours my children spend in front of a screen. In general, our family tries to limit tv viewing and whenever it starts to creep up, both Aaron and I make efforts to reduce it. But there have been a couple of recent factors contributing to my feeling that we need to reduce my kids’ screen time: We enrolled Rain in our local Waldorf school. Waldorf schools discourage tv and computer use by kids. A recent study has come out that showed that children who viewed 9 minutes of Sponge Bob Squarepants showed difficulty concentrating on tasks immediately afterwards (compared with children who viewed the slower paced Caillou or who viewed no tv). There are some inherent problems with this study and I also have to say that I wasn’t at all surprised—I already agree that tv viewing isn’t the best use of my kids’ time and we’ve all heard variations of this before—but, it’s the topic du jour so it’s currently influencing friends, other parents, my husband to have more discussions about kids’ tv viewing. My daughter started having wicked temper tantrums when we would ask them to turn off video games or turn down a request to play. Last week, I felt compelled to make some changes. We were letting the kids play selected video games online. They were allowed to visit CBC Preschool Games, Sesame Street and Treehouse. The games are educational so I had been feeling good about it. However, I tended to get lazy and let my 20 minute limit slip to an hour and more often than not the kids would end up watching video clips on Treehouse that I hadn’t supervised and where they were exposed to commercials. I was shocked when Rain started begging me to buy Charmin toilet paper and Bounty paper towels at the grocery store because they are 5 times more absorbent than the other brand or they disinfect better than a regular dish cloth. When Noa started having melt downs over the games, I knew they had to go.  In the last week since I made the decision that they could no longer play these online games there have been no more tantrums about media viewing. However, I’m also a stay-at-home-parent to three kids, one of whom is a baby who has been waking hourly for the last three months. We have no family living near us and no babysitter. We don’t have in-laws taking the kids for the weekend. We don’t have help/support. Our friends all have babies of their own and I’m hesitant to ask them to take our three kids when they only have one. My older kids don’t nap so I can’t nap when the baby does. I’m exhausted and sleep-deprived and as I wrote last week, I’m starting to struggle with my temper, a lot. So here’s my conundrum, as much as I would like my children to be watching less tv (perhaps none), it’s the only way I get a break at all. It’s the only sure fire way that my older two won’t start fighting right outside the bedroom door just as I’m getting the baby to sleep (meaning another hour of trying to get him down). It’s the only way that I can actually lay down and have a rest in the afternoon. It’s the only way that I can occasionally sit down and put my feet up, knit or write a blog post. Sometimes it’s the only way I can get the laundry or dishes done or dinner on the table before 6:30 or 7:00 pm. Last week, I experimented with trying to get through the day without screen time for the kids and guess what I found out? I was stretched thinner and lost my temper more often. So I asked myself: what is more damaging to my kids, tv or me losing my shit? The answer was rather clear to me. I know there are people out there who will judge me...

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Worthy

Posted on Sep 22, 2011 in Featured, Parenting | 8 comments

Worthy

Last week I found myself sitting on the floor sobbing. There were puzzles spread across the living room floor, laundry piled on every available surface and my daughter had just thrown her lunch on the floor. Her cottage cheese had splattered up the wall and I still had to feed and change the baby and get everyone in the car to pick up big brother from Kindergarten, a trip that would mean our second hour in the car that day (probably with baby screaming). Unbidden, a familiar thought flitted to mind, as it does in these moments: I have never failed so spectacularly at anything as I do every day at parenting. There is a bit of hyperbole in that sentence, the gift of a recovering depressive who is often too hard on herself, but there is something else too. Appropriately, a few days later I stumbled on a little quote that spoke to the heart of what I was feeling: “The end product of child raising is not the child but the parent.” ~ Frank Pittman You see, when I say I’m failing at parenting, I’m not talking about my kids. For one thing, they are generally sweet, bright, funny, interesting and usually polite and caring. Yes, they still do kid things like fight or loudly ask me to “look at that lady’s face!” in the grocery store or throw their lunch on the floor, but overall, they are wonderful kids. For another thing, I sincerely believe that as parents we can neither take credit nor blame for who our kids are. They are their own little people with their own free will and ability to make choices about how they behave. I am responsible for showing them the way but it is up to them whether or not they choose to follow me. Am I setting an example that is worth following? Am I being a person that is worthy of emulation? In the end, I can only take credit or blame for my own actions. I am the product of this parenting journey. Am I being the parent I want to be? Am I proud of who I am today? Last week, the day I found myself sobbing on the floor—it wasn’t because Noa threw her lunch on the floor. It was because I lost my temper, and in my increasing sleep deprived fog I am losing my temper more and more over kid things, over things I want to control but can’t. As I try to keep up with expectations (from others and myself) with three kids, no sleep and little support, I am finding it harder and harder to remember that my kids are on their own journey. As my sister says, “I can’t change them, but I can change my expectations.” I can focus on being the parent that I want to be, even when my kids are choosing to walk their own...

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Summer By Numbers

Posted on Aug 28, 2011 in Featured, Food, Parenting, Simple Living | 0 comments

Summer By Numbers

We’ve been counting a lot around our house lately. Here are some examples: Number of pounds of pickling cukes picked by Aaron and Rain while I jiggled and bounced Silas in the Ergo: 29 Number of pounds of pickling cukes bought from local farm stand: 10 Number of quart jars of homemade dill pickles made at 11pm after children were sleeping: 31 Number of times per night that Silas wakes to nurse: 8-12 Number of cute noises Silas makes per hour: 568* Number of annoying noises Silas makes per hour: 6 Number of decibels of annoying noises Silas makes: 100* Number of decibels of planes flying over our new house near the Air Force base: 130* Number of decibels of Rain’s constant singing & clapping: 75 Number of pints of strawberry jam canned while children watch movies: 13 Number of pounds of blueberries picked by 3 adults, 6 children & 1 sleeping baby: 16.5 Number of pounds of blueberries remaining after 2 weeks of pies, smoothies, snacking: 0 Number of coats of orange, yellow, red & purple paint (respectively) it took to paint our 1976 Dodge camper while the children slept and watched movies: 5, 2, 4, 3 Number of days on annual camping trip to Klein Lake (Sunshine Coast): 5 Number of sunny days on annual camping trip to Klein Lake (Sunshine Coast): 1.5 Number of teeth Silas has now: 6 * These numbers may or may not be slightly exaggerated. There you have it folks. That’s the way the final days of our summer are shaking down, in numbers. How did your summer add...

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3 Ring Circus

Posted on Aug 25, 2011 in Featured, Parenting | 1 comment

3 Ring Circus

{A couple of weeks months ago I wrote about everyone asking us how it’s going with three kids. Since that is THE question, the only thing people really want to know, I’m going to answer it, honestly. Not just with the “fine” that I tell people in real life. Part 1: the good stuff…and today, because I promised to be honest, Part 2: the hard stuff.} For me, the hardest things about having three kids: I don’t have a single minute in the day where I’m not actively caring for someone. Have you noticed that I almost never post here anymore? This is why. When Rain was a baby, he went to bed when we did but at least he took occasional naps during the day. When Noa was a baby, I was so so lucky that her afternoon nap was often at the same time as Rain’s (I know – THEY say that never happens but it does, and regularly did for me). Then, when Rain and Noa both stopped napping, wonder of wonders: we had our evenings to ourselves! From 8-10pm every night, I could punch out on the mom clock and just have time to recharge myself. Not so anymore. The big kids don’t nap so I’m caring for them all day and Silas has a fussy spell from 7-10pm every night and often doesn’t settle until AFTER I usually want to go to bed. This means no more day time breaks (though Silas naps well) and no more evening breaks. I’m even parenting in my sleep as I sleep lighter when I have to listen for a hungry baby and I’m nursing 8 times every night right now thanks to teething and 6 month developmental leaps like sitting and crawling. The moments when all 3 need my attention at once. I’ll set the scene: I’m changing Silas’s diaper (on my bedroom floor) to get him ready for a nap, and Noa falls and hurts herself badly. She begins to wail. I leave Silas and go find Noa. While I’m comforting her, I hear Silas beginning to fuss. I bring Noa with me to finish putting on Silas’s diaper. By this time Silas is screaming, probably hungry and tired too, and Noa is still clinging and wanting to be held. Then I hear Rain climbing the cupboards in the kitchen to get something from the top shelf that he’s not supposed to. I carry crying baby and clinging toddler with me to the kitchen to make Rain get down from the counter. He throws himself on the floor whining that I’ve spoiled his plans. These kinds of moments don’t happen all day long but I would be lying if I told you they never happen. When they do, I come pretty close to throwing myself on the floor and crying along with them. When 2 or more are crying/whining/yelling/shouting/singing at the same time. Does this really need more description? I didn’t think so. It’s amazing how our tolerance for chaos increases with every kid. Our house often feels like a nut house but I’ve resigned myself to that. I don’t get as worked up about it as I used to. I know it’s a passing phase. I know it will get easier and I know that there isn’t a lot I can do about it right now. It might seem ridiculous to say on the one hand that I’m hanging on for dear life and on the other that it isn’t nearly as bad as everyone expects. But you know, we’re complex beings: I think we can handle the contradiction. The circus may be loud, disorienting and a little frightening, but there’s also amazing acts, music, and popcorn. I might as well sit back and enjoy the show. Tell me about the circus at your house. I could use some...

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Easy as 1-2-3

Posted on Jul 15, 2011 in Featured, Parenting | 0 comments

Easy as 1-2-3

{A couple of weeks ago I wrote about everyone asking us how it’s going with three kids. Since that is THE question, the only thing people really want to know, I’m going to answer it, honestly. Not just with the “fine” that I tell people in real life. So, then Part 1: the good stuff.} In many ways, having three kids isn’t much different than having two. Our life was already pretty loud, chaotic and sleep challenged. It was already a gong show getting dressed and in the car to go anywhere. Silas doesn’t really change that much. In fact, on the whole he’s very quiet and easy to deal with. We’ve already raised two babies. Pretty much everything Silas does is old news to us. We know how to take care of him. We aren’t surprised by the lack of sleep or the inconsistency of newborn clothing sizes or meconium. We were even better prepared for dealing with the big siblings in the transition this time. We learned from the mistakes we made when Noa was born so that this time both of our bigger kids have adjusted to their new little brother much more easily than Rain adjusted when he became a big brother for the first time. The third time around, it seems that we more or less know what we’re doing. Finally! It’s mostly just a matter of integrating a new personality into the family and as far as that goes, it’s luck of the draw. If your first two babies were quiet easy babies and your third is high needs, you’re going to feel that the third time around was the hardest. For us, all three of our babies had more or less the same temperament and so we haven’t had to make huge adjustments in the way we parent our babies. Another little bonus is that once you have three kids, those times when you get to go run errands with just two of them suddenly seems totally doable, fun even. Truth be told, by the time you have a 5 year old and a 3 year old, you realize that babies are nothing compared to the sassy, mess-making, willfulness of preschoolers. So while I say babies are old news, I don’t mean for a moment that I don’t delight in our baby. Silas is my secret little joy right now. Thank goodness for him who brightens up my often frustrating, head/wall banging days. When the older two won’t listen, when they fight and scream, when they pee on the floor, when they refuse to pick up their toys, I breathe in extra deep to inhale the smell of the top of Silas’s head, squeeze him a little tighter and nurse just a little longer because he’s not big yet. There may always be some stress when you add to your family but for us, so far, it seems to get just a little easier every time. If you’re curious about the hard parts, stay tuned for Part 2. In the mean time, how have you found the transitions each time you added to your family? Did it get...

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