Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Parenting During Crises: Same or Different?

My husband and I were recently involved in a vehicular accident. We were both injured - on the way to the hospital where my father was prepping for a quadruple bypass after a heart attack. We had dropped the kids off with my in laws, so thankfully they weren't involved in the accident. We got home about six hours later than we had planned, me in a cast and my husband with a head wound. The children had been put to bed without knowing if we would be back. And for the next week, we traveled to and from the hospital - an hour away - to be with my father during his recovery.

This kind of thing takes a great toll on children. You could almost hear them asking question. Why does Mommy keep leaving? Why are they so upset? Why are these people I don't know well taking care of me? Why can't I nurse before bed? When will things be normal?

We explained to our daughter, 2 1/2, what had happened as best we could. She seemed to understand that we had crashed, and that that meant we didn't have the car anymore, and it had hurt Mommy and Daddy. She also seemed to understand that Grandpa was sick, and this made Mommy sad. Our six month old couldn't understand, of course.

Children are resilient, and our daughter handled the situation as well as could be expected. We could tell how stressed she was, and we spent as much time with her as we could. Our son, although also stressed, seemed less bothered and was able to acclimate to his temporary home and "parents" as well as could be expected. I was extremely grateful he was eating solids (and that I have a steady milk supply), since that meant he didn't have to go with us to the hospital every day and miss his naps.

How did our daughter react to the stress? She acted out. She rebelled against routine. She did those things children always do when they want to be reassured. But instead of sticking to her routines and being all the more steady in our expectations, we felt pressured into "taking it easy" and "letting it go".

That was exactly the wrong thing to do. She didn't need us to be relaxed and let her do whatever. She needed something normal amidst all the craziness. She needed to know that bedtime would be the same and that the expectations for her behaviour were the same. Instead, we and those watching her tried to make things easier for ourselves. And I definitely regret it.

Hindsight is 20/20, and as we look back on the situation, we wish we had done things differently. Unfortunately, we can't change the past, but we can do better in the future, and hopefully this can also help you in the midst of your own crises. Yes, your child is upset and stressed, and you want to make it as easy as possible for her, but she doesn't need you to change; she needs you to be the same.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

My Baby Needs to Cry

Ever since I've been a mother, I've had a difficult time accepting the idea that some babies need to cry themselves to sleep. Couldn't you rock them? Nurse them? Hold them? Sleep with them? Swaddle them? So many options! Surely there must be something the parents are missing.

Then I had a baby to needs to cry himself to sleep. For nearly every nap and bedtime.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Books that Changed My Life

Anyone who spends any amount of time reading will have read at least one book that really impacted them - perhaps because it was a book that changed their way of thinking or because it touched on something that was important to them. I have been an avid reader since I was incredibly young, and I have gone through stages of reading different types of books. Right now, I read almost exclusively non fiction where I hardly ever read it before college. I go through phases where I'll focus on a particular topic or author and really dive in, immersing myself, and hopefully coming out of that more knowledgeable.

Some books have certainly been more impactful than others. The Boxcar Children books were huge for me, when I was eight or so; now not so much. But back then, I certainly wouldn't have been at all interested in books about climate responsibility or the nature of disease. Some really important books didn't do much for me (like Frankenstein) - probably because they weren't new thoughts - and some insignificant books really shaped my world view because I read them at the right time.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Zero Waste - How and Why

I find myself becoming more hippie every day. It was never a goal of mine, partially because there are aspects of the hippie lifestyle that I don't condone, but the granola, tree-hugging, natural-living life appeals to me greatly. This is true for several reasons. First, I am a steward of the earth, and I feel that responsibility strongly. Secondly, I love the art of keeping home, and that involves living more slowly, simply, and naturally - at least it does for me. Lastly, I believe it to be healthier and more beneficial for my family. First I adopted the practice of using natural cleaners and hygiene products, then minimalism, then my family went paper free. It seemed natural that a zero waste lifestyle would follow.

What is a zero waste lifestyle? Put simply, it is the practice of eliminating single-use products from your life and trying to limit your waste to infinitely recyclable or compostable items. For us, this meant getting a compost bin for our home, buying local products we can put in our own containers, and limiting the other things we buy to things in glass, metal, or paper packaging. I find it to be a fun process, and we're getting to know our area better as a result.

Because we're doing a no-spend, right now, we've decided to only purchase on a replacement basis, which is what most zero-wasters do anyway. We did make an exception for the composting bin. We've found a local place to get meat and dairy, another to get grains, and we're still looking for options for produce. I'm working through my list of things to replace items like shampoo and tinfoil. I'm deciding what we'll give up instead of finding an alternative or trying to make ourselves.

To me it's an exciting process. I think my husband finds it stressful, right now, though that will hopefully become less as we become used to the new routines. We've been doing it for a couple weeks, and in the past week have only take out one bag of trash. That's pretty good, considering we don't have our compost bin, yet, and are still getting through single-use products we had before this new venture started. I look forward to seeing how it simplifies and betters our home.

If you're interested in more information, you can check out this website. It includes links to videos, if you would prefer that kind of information.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Adventures in Napping

I am a mother of two.

It's crazy to think about, really. Just three months ago, I was chasing a toddler. Now I'm chasing that same toddler with a chunky, three month old baby in my arms. And I love it. My daughter dotes on her little brother, always wanting to be close to him, letting me know when he's crying (as though I can't hear it), and constantly chattering to him while he stares at her, taking in every word. It's incredibly precious.

One thing I wasn't exactly prepared for, after having a new baby, was the numerous regressions that took place in my toddler after her brother was born. I was prepared for jealousy. Didn't happen. I was prepared for aggression. Didn't happen. What did happen were three different regressions, one of which I didn't know could happen: eating, sleeping, and pottying.