The Toddler Tantrum

Slide1

If you haven’t seen my latest FB post, please hop over to either feel like you aren’t alone or to get a good chuckle.

Parenting toddlers is H.A.R.D. There should really be a warning before you bring the baby home from the hospital. (WARNING: If you can get through 1-3 hour sleeping increments, feedings every 2 hours, 12-20 diapers a day, 2-5 outfit changes for baby, 2-5 outfit changes for you, they turn into toddlers and it could get worse!)
Join me on this probably very familiar scene in our house this morning. J (my 3 year old) wanted a firetruck shirt. The obsession is on the verge of insane asylum evaluation status. He is obsessed with all things firetrucks and firefighters. If you combine his other obsession, yellow, then the world is close to apocalyptic scenarios.
Today he woke up with the idea that he wanted NEEDED to wear a firetruck shirt. He has quite the collection of them so normally it isn’t much of an issue. As I peeled off his firetruck pjs, he insisted on a firetruck shirt and that just wasn’t an option. We are approaching laundry day in our house and you might as well tell J it’s the end of the world because that’s what it felt and looked like. The firetruck shirts are the first to be worn, leaving no option for the second half of the week. I showed him the variety of shirts he was able to choose from: yellow shirts, truck shirts, favorite character shirts, nothing was a firetruck shirt and nothing was cutting it.
Cue full mental breakdown. It included throwing every shirt being offered. Throwing oneself on the ground. Kicking. Rolling over and pulling at the carpet in a desperate attempt make a new firetruck shirt out of it. And this was all before 7:30am. Hello Wednesday, it’s been real!
Of course, there are plenty of parents out there who have similar, funnier, more pathetic reasons why their kiddo is now mopping the floor with their body. “The wind is blowing in the wrong direction.” “I didn’t let him drink from the dog’s water dish.” “The current TV show has ended.”
If you need some future evidence that these little people living in our house are a little unstable, head over to Buzz Feed to see other depictions of why kids are crying. They are hilarious and if nothing else, it unites us in this delicate, fast moving, unpredictable stage of life. Maybe it’s just the universe’s way of preparing us for more delicate, fast moving, unpredictable stages of life ahead (one of them called the teen years). Either way, each stage seems impossible to get through, (remember those newborn years that seemed to go on forever with no sleep, now they seem so glorious to the toddler tantrum years) but looking back, aren’t as bad as they seemed when going through. Embrace the toddler tantrum. Try to laugh through it because tomorrow, they will no longer be wearing firetruck shirts and you will be fighting over their wardrobe for a much different reason.
Stay strong, parents. If needed, throw yourself on the floor and have a tantrum. You may find it therapeutic.

Potty Train in 24 Hours?!

img_7117

You probably clicked on this post because of the amazing title, right?! So we are in the middle of potty training the second child. It’s also our first experience with a boy. I have read EVERY 3-day training guide that is out there. I’ve asked for tips and tricks from other moms. I have had dreams about Toy Story and Mickey undies and lots and lots of laundry. Then we started!! I was ready. I was amped! I was going to get my son potty trained in 3 days, if not less!! And…… it failed.

So while there are a ton of moms out there who are claiming the 3-day potty training guide works, it did not for us. OK— so I will also admit that I was not FULLY committed. I was not ready to throw away ALL diapers/pull ups in the name of my sanity. Rest time and bed time were non-negotiable times of the day that we used these. Being a military wife and dealing with potty training with a boy on my own, I wanted to keep my limited sanity of not cleaning sheets twice a day (or more) and I’m pretty sure my washing machine is also singing my praises and thanking me for this decision. I can ONLY handle so much bodily fluid in one day. Between dog walks, a 4 year old daughter who still needs some bathroom help, and a potty training 2 year old, I had to set limits!

So, why the post, you ask?! While the 3-day method didn’t work, I have found some success. Are we fully potty trained yet? No, but we are well on our way. He turns 3 next week and I would love to be over the hump before then. So I am going to share what I have done and maybe it will help someone else in the wide world of the internet!

Is your child ready?

This always seems to be the first step. I was told by lots of people that I will know when he is ready to start potty training. Even my daughter, at 18 months, started to show interest in the potty without any attempt from me, so why wouldn’t my second? We had only one indication. It was much like a war zone. He would find a hiding place, set up camp, keep a look out, and defend his territory if we began to advance. All so he could poop in “private.” OK– this MUST be the indication he is ready, so I followed the books and pumped him with water, juice, milk– whatever liquid I could entice him with and placed him on the potty every 15 minutes. HUGE MISTAKE.

Feeling the pressure

He began to feel the pressure of being put on the potty every 15 minutes. I mean, I was totally cool, calm, and collected. I couldn’t imagine why he didn’t want to go on the potty through my screams and cries of pee on the floor that I had to mop up for the 20th time that day, all happening 30 seconds after he screamed to get off the potty because he was done. He clearly wasn’t ready. I clearly wasn’t ready.

Bring in reinforcements

If you have a spouse at home to help, FANTASTIC!!! They can be the one who leaves the house and worries about the grocery shopping or the errand running or the chauffeuring the other kid(s). OR you make sure you are all on the same plan and it allows YOU to sneak away for a short period of time. This step is HUGE. I had my parents in town for a weekend and it was the perfect time to introduce the “no diaper while we are awake” concept. I was able to still run to the store or make sure my poor 4 year old wasn’t house bound for 3 days because her brother was being potty trained. My parents were on the same page as me and it allowed me to always have one adult at home with him so we weren’t tempting fate. Then they went back home and I fell apart. More because I can’t be house bound for a week. My oldest has preschool; I work in the afternoons; we have babysitters. It wasn’t practical and all that progress went right out the window because I immediately reverted back to pull-ups.

The last straw

I’m anxious for my boy to be ready for camps this summer and school in the fall. The whole being diaper free is just icing on the cake. We are back to the idea of wearing undies at all times when we are in our house (minus rest/bed time). We have had HUGE success this time around. I’m keeping the pressure low and the enthusiasm high. He gets 2 M&Ms for each time he pees. He especially loves yellow ones, so this is our incentive. It doesn’t work every time, but it works enough. Wearing his favorite characters is also a pretty big incentive… although having Mickey on the pull-up sort of defeats this incentive some days. When we make some ground on the #2, I will update this post. Until then, feel free to share your best potty training tips— for boys or girls or if you can provide us with a good laugh with an experience, I would love to hear it!

To all the mamas potty training, may the force and the Clorox wipes be with you!

Teaching when to call 9-1-1

Screen Shot 2017-02-25 at 8.16.03 PM.png

One morning as I was tip-toeing through the gate at the top of the stairs to avoid waking my little cherubs up, my little fluffy cherub zoomed by me almost knocking me down. That quick flash of panic led me to realize that if anything happened to this stay at home mom, whose husband goes to work before the kiddos wake up and doesn’t come back home until dinner time, would anyone know how to get help? That was the moment I realized I need to teach my 4-year old how to call 9-1-1 and what 9-1-1 is.

When she came down for breakfast that morning, I had a sparkle in my eye that I was going to teach her the most wonderful thing ever. I was full of excitement (and slight fear) that I even thought to do this (however, I’m pretty sure I am way behind on this lesson), but I was ready.

The whole process seemed to go pretty smoothly. So I figured I would share what I did:

That Talk

ambulance-1318437We talked about how sometimes we need help when we get hurt (a conversation we’ve been having for quite some time due to not LOVING doctor visits in the past). I told my daughter that sometimes we need to call a “doctor” to our house if someone gets hurt so they can help us. Topics we chatted about were how police officers and firefighters help us stay safe and need to come to us sometimes to continue to keep us safe. They are not someone to be afraid of but know we can trust them. (It also helps that we have visited both places and met with firefighters and police officers, providing goodies and getting private tours in return.)

The Dial

First, it’s important for your child to know their numbers to make the process a little easier. I went through the steps of how to call 9-1-1 from our phone. Because we only have cordless phones, I taught her to dial the numbers, then push talk. I did it a few times (pressing 911, but not pressing talk), and she did it a few times on her own. It was during this time I made it clear that we don’t just call 911 for anything, but it is for times that mommy is really hurt and cannot talk to her due to being hurt.

Role Playagent-18762.jpg

After we practiced the dialing, we role played. I pretended to be the other person on the phone if she was to call 911. We talked through important things for her to say. We talked about how they can only help if we talk to them and give them information. I’m still working on her knowing our address, which is key information, but hoping that if she is calling from a landline, they can hopefully figure out where we are.

Practice

We talked about it for a few days to really ensure that she remembered. Then after a few days of not talking about it, I “quizzed” her in the car on the way to school. I will continue to do this for a while until I feel confident it’s something that she just knows.

Real Life

I unfortunately had to call 911 for the first time in my life this week due to what I thought was my son having problems breathing, but turned out it was croup. I never had to press fire-engine-376780those buttons myself before and talk to an operator, but in a way, I am glad the experience happened because then I was able to explain to my daughter that this is what happens
when 911 is called. We had two ambulances and 1 firetruck outside our house. We had about 7 firefighters in our small townhouse at one point. Lights were flashing and neighbors left their houses at 5am to check on us. This was a perfect opportunity to talk about why we only call when we absolutely NEED it and think there is no other help for us.

If you have some any other tips to share, please feel free to fill the comments!! It’s hard when the kids can’t truly practice, but with our help, hopefully we can teach them the basics so IF ever needed, they can handle it.

Moms of Boys

child-872057_960_720

The day I found I was pregnant the first time, I could not contain my emotions. My dream was always to be a young wife and mother. I married at 23 and found out I was pregnant at 24. I was over the moon! We (meaning only me) wanted to be surprised as to what we were having. My husband was not thrilled about this, but I somehow convinced him and we waited all 9 months to find out we were having a beautiful girl. Throughout the pregnancy, I envisioned dresses, tutus, and bows. My husband was imagining football, cars, and trucks, but the second my oldest arrived, we were both wrapped around her little finger and I know my husband wouldn’t want it any other way (nor would I).

Fast forward a year and we found out we were pregnant again. We always wanted one girl and one boy. I always envisioned the boy coming first and being the protector of his little sister, but clearly our plans were already a little different than planned, but we still had the possibility of having one of each. While my husband refused to let us wait the whole pregnancy this time around, I made him wait until Christmas where we opened a gift with the outfit we were to take our baby home in come March. I would lie if I said I was hoping and praying for a boy. In reality, I was really pulling for a girl. I grew up with a sister and all I wanted for my little girl was to have that relationship growing up. I had no idea what a brother was like. We unwrapped the box in front of the camera rolling and pulled out the sweetest little boy’s outfit. BELIEVE ME when I say I was THRILLED, but the idea of a boy totally terrified me. I know girls. I am a girl. I don’t know boys.

Almost three years later, I still have no idea how to deal with boys. He is way more of a mystery to me than anything else in my life, but I have learned some valuable things in his short life that I want to share with every other mother of boys.

mom-1363919_960_720

YOU are his girl. If he gets hurt, you are the one he runs to. If he needs something, he relies completely on you. You will be his first kiss, his first hug, his first love. Every girl after you will be compared to you.

YOU are his role model to what women should be like and act like. It is OUR responsibility as mothers to act a certain way. This means being the role model to show that women treat themselves and other women with respect. If we respect and love ourselves, our bodies, and the other women in our lives, he will learn from that. He will learn from us on how to treat women in his future.

YOU must treat his dad or other male role models in his life with respect. I can dedicate a whole page to memes, shows, quotes, puns, etc. with how fathers are complete idiots and just another child in the house that the woman needs to care for. If we as mothers treat our husbands in that manner, what kind of message are we sending to our son. We must remember to show respect to his father so he grows up so he knows how he should be treated as well.

YOU are still (and always be) his girl. He will be the boy, the son, the man you teach him to be. He will always learn from you, even when you think he isn’t. The way we treat him, ourselves, and the people around us will forever be a lesson to him. We are his window into the world– of life, of women, or EVERYTHING. May we always been the beacon of light and knowledge that he needs!

Why Preschool?

It’s that time of year again. Local MOMS Club chapters are gearing up for local Preschool Fairs. Registration papers are being sent to the printers. Questions are swirling around the mommy communities: play-based or academic-based? 2-days, 3-days, 4-days, or 5-days? 3-4hour programs or extended/enrichment programs?

These questions can make most parents fall to the floor in the fetal position. There are so many opinions out there and so many options, so what works best for you?  I will tell you right now that I am completed biased. I went to school for 4 years as an Early Childhood Education Major. I have wanted to be a preschool teacher for a long time. I have read article after article on the importance of the preschool years. I am writing today in hope that I can shed some light for anyone who has these questions taking over their sleep, while trying to keep my own personal views out of the way.

First, before I enlighten you on 11 years of being in the Early Childhood field, I want to urge you first to also do your own research. There are a lot of people out there who will supply you with their own opinion– and it is just that– an OPINION!

How can sending a child to preschool at 3 or 4 provide any benefit? So and so’s kid never went to preschool and he is now in honors classes in high school. Yes, there are a ton of kids who leap right into Kindergarten and succeed, however, what is their background? Did they stay at home with a very active parent? Did they attend daycare? Did their parents bring them to playdates or moms group meetings? Did they have any reason to listen to another adult during their first 5 years of life? These are huge factors.

Let’s explore some literature that explains the benefits of preschool:

Research provides solid support that preschool programs have a statistically significant effect on children’s performance on cognitive assessments of prereading and reading skills, prewriting and spelling skills, math reasoning, and problem-solving skills. Preschool programs have also found to benefit children from a diverse income community, including those who are eligible for free lunch to those who receive no lunch subsidies at all. (source)

Oklahoma is one of the few states who offer a preschool program to every 4-year old. They have tested 4-year olds and 5-year olds with nationally normed tests to examine a child’s skills in reading, writing, and math. For example, asking a child is they recognize a letter. They ask a child to draw a letter or shape. When given a picture, a child can count the number of a specific object they see. Through these nationalized normed tests, three groups of children were compared: those who were about to begin pre-K, those who had a year of pre-K, and those who have not attended a pre-K.  Oklahoma has seen a seven-month gain in prereading skills, a six-month gain in prewriting skills, and a four-month gain in permath skills. (source)

There are a ton of articles, studies, and stories how preschool benefits children. I can give you a quick, personal example, which doesn’t even describe the academic gains a child can have. My daughter, from day one, was always reserved. She preferred me over anyone else. She didn’t go to strangers (family members). When someone said “hi” to her in a store, she would immediately hide behind my legs (not the worst characteristic by the way). It took her days to get comfortable when visiting family members we didn’t see on a regular basis. This was just her personality. When preschool started, she CRIED! It broke my heart, but I knew she needed the time away from me to blossom. She cried every day at drop off well into October. We were EXTREMELY lucky to have two of the most amazing teachers anyone could ask for and they loved her and cared for her. For months, she would need to be with one of the teachers at all times. She was three. She went two days a week to school. I knew her personality. I expected this and I was okay with this. As the year progressed, her teachers would tell me how her little personality was coming out, slowly and quietly, but they saw it.

Fast forward to her second year of preschool. Her interactions with family members (the ones we see a few times a year) has made a complete 180. She will immediately go in and be polite and say hi. She warms up much quicker. When given a compliment our in public, she says “thank you” and allows a sweet smile or hi to the nice lady standing in line with us. She walked into school, on her first day, not having any friends from the previous year with a smile on her face and confidence in her step. Every teacher (and even the director) could not believe that was the same girl from the year before. Her personality that she has with me and her closest friends was with her.

While she is not one to speak out or be crazy, she is more herself than she was walking into preschool that VERY FIRST day. She will always be a little quieter. She will always be my cautious and more reserved child, but her personality and her confidence BLOSSOMED in those preschool walls. She was forced out of her comfort zone, was placed in a nurturing, loving environment, and she was allowed to learn and be who she was.

If preschool does nothing else for your child, it teaches them to be with their peers, without their parent over their shoulder monitoring and refereeing every moment. It gives them a chance to make choices independently. It provides them an opportunity to learn and be with other caring and loving adults. It is a place for them to grow as a person.

Yes, I know this last part was me rambling on about why I think preschool is important, there is plenty of literature provided for you to make your own conclusions. Don’t let me or anyone else give you simple an opinion of the benefits of preschool. Make your own educated decision.

As we go forward in January and February, may you find peace in your decision. If you choose preschool, I hope you find the absolute best school to fit your child’s needs. This is by no means an easy decision.

Toddler life…

There are a 101 (times a million) types of media out there about funny toddler behaviors. For example:

https://www.facebook.com/officialemotionaltouch/videos/1201142706620547/

Or this one:

15541651_10154500725103301_4594657715839652893_n.jpg

And this site is absolutely hilarious with it’s 25 ways to annoy a toddler.

As moms we see it on social media and get a good chuckle because it’s true (the BEST jokes are ALWAYS true). We probably even share it with some mom friends because they will also get a good chuckle from it. Then, we look up from our perfect little virtual world and the memes are no longer funny because IT. IS. HAPPENING!

I have been losing my freakin’ mind A LOT lately. I am almost embarrassed with how I yell sometimes and even wonder if the neighbors can hear me and think I am a complete lunatic. The things a 2 year old will do that can make the most sane person go postal is noteworthy. There are moments of complete and utter rage because I just don’t have the patience anymore.

Then I stumbled across this Facebook post:

281d3a6577b63f3b0a8d8393d0d2ce88

Seeing this post, I knew I had to post about it. After having my kids be with their cousins and listening to the constant unison of adult voices yelling over the cries and screams of toddlers, I realized that we are all letting our emotions overpower our intelligence. We all know as parents that we need to stop, stay calm, assess the situation, do not stoop down to the 2-year-old tantrum level, yet, how many of us do that?! I know I am guilty of it.

When your kid is screaming bloody murder because they don’t want to put shoes on or go to the bathroom and you have calmly said the same thing over and over and over…… and over and over and over again, you might just lose your mind. When your child so perfectly put on their shoes and socks yesterday morning but today they throw a fit because they can’t do it and moan and “try” to put them on with no avail, your patience might get a little thin.

I have no parenting tips— in fact, if you have any, please share them! All I know is that each and every day, I try to do my best, and some days I feel like I have totally failed as a parent. When my kid just constantly says “no!” to me or deliberately disobeys me, it is so hard to find the calm. I have to believe that one day they will learn. One day the screaming, the silent treatment, the ignoring, the overreacting— something will work and something will click or they will just grow out of it.

So for every mama who:

  • sent their kid to bed with a growling tummy because they refused to eat the dinner you made that they LOVED last week,
  • has a sore throat from yelling over the screams of a child,
  • is crying in the corner because they aren’t quite sure how they are going to get through the final hours of the day,
  • wonders if they are doing this parenting thing right,

know that you are not alone. Even if it’s just me in your corner, you are not alone. May we always be able to laugh at the toddler memes, not because we are living it and the only way to get through is to laugh at it sometimes but because we lived THROUGH it and have come out stronger and better on the other side of the craziness (and now have entered the preteen years!!!!!!). It doesn’t end does it?!