Tag Archives: Gentle Parenting

Some quick pics from our week

Standard

I have shared most of these on our Facebook page, but wanted to have it all in one place. We’ve still be hanging around the house mostly during the week, besides one evening trip to Grandma’s house so Papa could work on her car. Anyway, this is some stuff from our week.

She is writing a book. She’s been writing a chapter a day with pictures included.

Hailey wrote the alphabet on our bricks. The boys have been walking back and forth singing the letters with me. Elijah wanted to do it forwards and backwards, so now I can expertly sing the ABC song backwards 🤣.

These boys sometimes fight hard, then play even harder. Winter looks up to Elijah and copies him, and Elijah takes pride in teaching his little brother life lessons.

Here they are joined together to fight the bad guy aka our poor tree 🤣.

My daughter went to some garage sales with her Grandma and Great Grandma today. She came home with a bunch of stuff to create a home for something she’s pretending is a caterpillar. She said she is “really into caterpillars right now”. Apparently that started yesterday. 🐛

Coincidentally, shortly after she got home I spotted this on our porch. They were excited to observe (but not touch!). We looked it up and found out it is an American Dagger Moth caterpillar. So we read a bit about those. Now, Hailey wanted to show her younger brother The Very hungry caterpillar story on Netflix while I search for the book.

Last night, Elijah asked to make some candy with his Zombie science candy kit. We did a few of those but didn’t snap pics.

We also had a playdate with friends. I didn’t get any pictures of them running around and having fun.

That’s been our week!

Advertisements

Summer has started!

Standard

Summer has started! It’s kind of strange, since our summers and our other days of the year are not much different in many ways. Yet still, the days are longer, we play outside later, and seem to crave more adventure.

The kids are in want of fun and adventure more so than usual. We stayed indoors more than usual this past winter. By the time spring really came (and it was delayed around here) I was huge and pregnant and not feeling up to as much.

Our days have varies quite a bit these past few weeks. Much it has been spent getting to know and love our newest family member.

Meet Dexter

We have been taking it easy, allowing everyone to adjust. Routines have been off, sleep has been less, and more patience has been needed by all. We are settling in and finding out groove a month later.

Hailey has been doing tons of artsy stuff lately. She’s been drawing pictures, creating new Pokémon, making her own stickers, and anything else she can think of. She’s also been watching lots of Pokémon YouTubers. Both bigger kids have been playing Roblox often, and sometimes together.

Elijah and Winter have been playing outside a ton. Squirt guns, chalk, and just running around have been a good majority of our days sometimes. Picking mulberries have been popular with all the kids.

Papa took the kids to our favorite farm for playtime and activities.

We also checked out an airshow. The kids watched planes fly and perform tricks. There favorite parts were actually getting to check out the inside of some different aircrafts.

They also got inside a helicopter and got to strap in, which Hailey thought was awesome.

We went to our local children’s museum for Father’s day. They always have fun in their different favorite areas.

Our days seem to be play it by ear style right now. We are saving our outings for when Papa is home most of the time. Low expectations and lots of snuggles is the motto of our life right now.

2 year olds

Standard

I don’t believe in “terrible twos”. I do believe the words we chose to say or think about a situation changes out perception. I know this can be a tough stage as a young one tries to figure out where they can be independent and when they still really need help, all in the middle many cognitive growth spurts in language and functioning. I have so much empathy.

I’m on my third 2 year old. My first was a higher needs kid and all her years have had some big cough spots. My second was much more easy going, although super physical in a way I had never experienced.

This little guy is much more the typical 2 year old experience that people refer too. He is so much fun, but wants to be fiercely independent without all the skills to do so which feels overwhelming and frustrating for him. He has also been on a very late sleep schedule for a long time now, so that has its own challenges. I’ll be honest and say, many days lately my empathy has been more forced, my patience thin. I’m tired, pregnant with my 4th, and sometimes wish I could just speed up this stage. I know I *really* wouldn’t want that.

All that to say, that no matter how long you’ve been on the peaceful parenting journey, sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes you catch yourself thinking things that go against what you know to be your real core values. I’m searching my toolbox to find ways to feel more centered and present again. We are all learning.

I don’t fear daylight savings anymore. 

Standard

Daylight savings time. I used to go with the rhetoric of how awful it had to be, because everyone else complained; and truthfully, when we pressured ourselves with early time commitments, I’m sure it did have its challenges. 

Back then, I was very much still discovering who I was and what I believed as parent. I caught myself parroting what I heard others say. That was the normal. I wanted to fit in. Not only in my words, but my actions. I did many things differently, but I also conformed in ways that were hard for me. Get up early, rush to a million activities. Go go go. 

Not now though. Now my kids can sleep and wake as they need. We adjust each day and go with the flow, sometimes earlier, sometimes later. Hailey did wake up earlier than usual today, not because the clock was changed, but because of an excited little brother who made a bit too much noise. That’s okay. We can figure out what we need as the day goes on. Our morning was free to take it as slow as we needed it to be.

We ate breakfast, the kids watched a bit of a movie, checked on their birds nests they made for the back yard, and found ladybugs on the porch as I sipped my coffee. Winter demands I take pictures of anything he deems interesting. 

I am thankful that this day won’t throw us off the week and that we have no strict schedule to adhere to. I know that can’t be everyone’s reality. My husband will still have to sleep at his normal time, even if the kids are still up. I could look at that as putting more “work” on me. I don’t look at it that way anymore. I love this life.

Our Unschooling Week

Standard

I’m going to be completely honest and upfront with the fact that we had a rough week. There was plenty of fun, connecting, and learning moments; There was also lots of tears and fighting. I’m not sure why, but the kids were just out of sync this week. So we had lots of breathing, conflict resolution, and sometimes just some siblings separation.

Monday, we started the day out with breakfast and books. Hailey then watched some Pokémon while Elijah watched YouTube videos with me. The kids played on their tablets a bit. The boys played dress up. 

The kids did their own separate art projects. Hailey made pokeballs and Elijah painted. 

                                      Crafts and chaos 🙂

The kids played outside for a while. Elijah found a praying mantis. The checked him out for a little while.

Tuesday started out with some porch time. Winter played with Playdoh out there. 

The day was spent mostly switching from playing Pokémon, and watching TV. Hailey and I took a wall in the evening.

Wednesday, I asked the kids I’d they wanted to check out a new park. We spent a few hours having fun on the gravity rail, and snacking too. 


Hailey had Kung fu classes that evening. There was tablet time and TV too.

Thursday, Papa caught a cicada for the kids to observe. 


Grandma came over for a visit. The kids love when she comes. They each worked on their own projects for a bit. The boys taped yarn to paper. Hailey wrote cards to each of us. We had fun writing to each other for a few hours. 

Her first notes to me


When Papa got home he had a Pokémon card battle with Hailey. We read books, and played tablets.

Friday, we watched a movie with popcorn during the afternoon. Elijah built with Lego’s for quite a while. Hailey played her DS.

Today we had a big family breakfast. Then we went to watch remote control airplanes fly and do tricks. We finished out afternoon with a quick grocery trip, and then back home to relax. 

If you don’t stop then you can’t….

Standard

As a child, it was not uncommon to hear some form of “if you don’t stop that you can’t do this”.  It could be “If you don’t stop crying you can’t [insert fun activity]”, or “if you don’t stop aggravating then you will have to sit in time out”, often “If you don’t change your attitude than you can’t go to that place you want to go”. Etc., etc., you get the point.

These threats were often given in angry whispers while in pubic or on the way to our destination. Public “misbehavior” was a big trigger for my mom. There was no thought given to what need may be inspiring the undesired behavior. No connecting grumpiness to hunger or tiredness. No considering that I may be struggling with anxiety about something (I have dealt with this since I was a child), or having some over-stimulation related to sensory issues (something I now know about myself). No thought to what had happened before we left, such as a disappointment or argument with a sibling. Don’t get me wrong, I love my mom very much. I know that she was doing the best she could as a young mom. She did what she knew, and I was always loved.

Kids are often held to a higher standard than adults. Not allowed to show too much emotion in public, not given the benefit of the doubt, or some extra grace for an off day. I know that is how I was raised, and sometimes that old tape starts playing in my head and I don’t even realize it. Words come out of my mouth, and immediately upon hearing myself say them I know it isn’t right. Those words don’t represent who I want to be as a parent. Instead, they represent things said to me in the past, things I may have internalized.

As I progress on this journey towards gentle parenting, I am getting better at catching myself before I say the words that flash in my head. I used to always say them and then apologize and say what I wanted to say (whether that be right away or after some further reflection). But now, more times than not, I catch myself right as they start to come out and I take a moment to breathe and rethink what I want to say, who I want to be in that moment.

Sometimes, I start to say those old words and by the time my logical brain has caught up with me, I am halfway through a thought and then quickly try to turn that very sentence around into something else. This happened the other day. We were on the way to a local amusement park. The kids were excited to be going again. We purchased season passes and this was our second visit. My oldest was being grumpier than usual though. She kept snapping impatiently, and was feeling sensitive very easily. I knew she was tired, as she woke up early in anticipation, and she fell asleep for the last 20 minutes of the hour drive.

While we were organizing all our stuff, getting our water bottles in the bag, and putting the toddlers shoes back on again, she was just really in a tough mood. I could feel my frustration building because I knew this was supposed to be a fun day, and I worked hard to prepare for it. Not only that, it was mine and my husband’s anniversary so in some illogical way I wanted the day to be smooth and lovely. The old tape turned on in my head and I heard myself say “If you can’t calm down and enjoy your day you can sit out while your brothers ride the rides with your Papa.” I knew instantly that this wasn’t a fix, or would it do anything for our relationship, so I got down on my knees to make eye contact and took her hand. “What I mean is, if you are having a tough time that is okay. I know you didn’t get as much sleep as you normally do. You can just take my hand and I will sit with you until you feel calmer. You can ride rides when you are ready, and I will help you until then.” I could almost feel the relief in her body. Her breathing slowed, and she relaxed into my body for a hug and said, “Okay Mom”.

That wasn’t the end of her rough times. She had skipped most of breakfast and didn’t eat what I packed in the van, so I had to really encourage her to eat something for some energy. Everyone quickly finished their snack but her, she needed some extra time. So, they went to a nearby ride while I sat with her and waited. She nibbled slowly and then when she was ready she told me. Then we enjoyed the rest of our day.

I am not even close to where I want to be as a parent. I am trying and I tell myself that if I do better today than I did yesterday most of the time, then that is progress. Rewiring our brains to a new way of being, a whole new perspective, a new form of communication isn’t easy. But it is worth it, so so worth it. It matters.

Avoiding childism at social gatherings

Standard

In a world that is filled with unrealistic expectation of children at its best and downright prejudice against children at its worst, sometimes it is hard to explain to my kids why adults say or do certain things in response to them. Many adults were raised in a way that expected children to be seen and not heard, to only participate in conversations they were invited too, and above all do not say or do anything that is bothersome to adults without expecting immediate discipline.

When you are a child that is raised in a way that you are treated with respect, treated in a way that values what you have to say, and seeks your contribution to the family choices, it can be quite a shock to be abruptly cut off, ignored, or talked down to. I try to only take the kids to outings that I know the adults parent similarly enough, or at least will mind their own business and not butt in with my kids. Out in the real world, sometimes it is possible to avoid, but I am very thankful to be able to have friendship groups where children are valued and respected by all.

I was reminded of all this recently. We were invited to a friends house for a graduation party she was throwing her oldest daughter. This friend is a wonderful example of someone who values individuality and cultivates respect for all types of people. She has raised her kids in that vein, and it truly shows with her teenagers. There were many people of all ages at this party. Everyone was having a good time.

 

My oldest, Hailey (7)  is my extrovert. She loves being in social settings, making new friends, and being the entertainment of the room. Many times throughout the night, I seen her sharing jokes, stories, recipes, or ideas with other people. The adults listened to her, interacted, told jokes back, and overall treated her the same as they would any other guest. It was then, a large feeling of thankfulness for these type of people in our life flooded over me. She wasn’t seen as an annoying kid who talked too much or a kid who didn’t realize social expectations (things I remember feeling as a child). Actually, the opposite was the case. My friends shared with me how they noticed her creative side, and they took joy in her. I felt very much the same way about their children. It was so special to me to share that.

18839684_10213670974068313_3976211687199606591_o

This sense of respecting and admiring all people was present in the teenagers of the house as well. I was outside and Hailey went inside. After a few minutes, I went to go check in on her. She was telling jokes to the group of older kids hanging around. They were listening and laughing. They made her feel heard.

I want my children to feel just as welcomed as I do in social gatherings. That means sometimes we leave when that isn’t happening. That means sometimes people get put into the acquaintance relationship category, instead of friend. That means sometimes, the kids and I have hard talks about why things happen and children are treated differently. I am so thankful to have found people in my life who share similar values.

Honesty and forgiveness and childism

Standard

Today we took the kids to a local nature play area and hiking trail. They played in the play area for about an hour, building their house of sticks, and enjoying some fresh air. After we were all played out, we headed to the trail for an easy, kid friendly hike.

Hiking with kids is always an interesting adventure. Sometimes they are really into it. They immediately start noticing their surroundings, pointing out animals or unique plants, asking questions, or running ahead to play. Other times, they start complaining about the walk only a short while into it. Today, it was a mix of both. Elijah (4 years old) got his feelings hurt pretty early on, and he wasn’t easily cheering up. He asked me to hold him. Winter (17 months) was happily toddling along, so it was easy for me to pick up Elijah. When it was clear he needed some extra cuddles after a few minutes, I told him I needed to put him in the carrier on my back. He liked that and all was good.

We stopped for a short rest break. Elijah was still on my back while I sat down. Hailey (6.5) was sitting close to me, Winter was playing behind in the dirt, and my husband was checking something on my new boots. All of a sudden Hailey was screaming crying. It all happened very fast, but I heard a rock swish by and quickly realized that someone had thrown a rock and it had hit Hailey in the eye. She was almost inconsolably (understandably). All of attention was focused on her until she was calmer. Then I asked what happened. She didn’t know. I asked if Elijah threw the rock and he said no. I felt bad that the baby had grabbed the rock and tossed it without me noticing. He can be pretty rough in his curious toddler way. He is definitely in a throwing phase. I had been watching him, but my attention had turned to my then bare feet as hubby looked at my boot.

Winter was completely oblivious to all of it, as he sat digging up dirt. There was not much to do at that point. Prevention is really the key with that age, and the time for that had passed so I sat and comforted Hailey. All this happened in about 5 minutes. All of a sudden Elijah tapped me on the shoulder. He said “Mommy, actually I threw the rock.” I was surprised at his confession, seemingly out of nowhere. I asked him why he threw the rock. He tried to explain where he meant to throw it, and he didn’t mean to hit his sister. I don’t know if he really meant to throw it somewhere else, or if he didn’t think through how it would feel to be hit with a rock, or maybe he thought he couldn’t reach her and he wanted her attention. His face was full of worry for his sister. I pointed out her bruise beneath her eye, and explained that this is what happens when rocks hit people It is very dangerous and not a game. I said if he wanted to throw rocks, I could help him find a place to throw them away from people. He told Hailey how sorry he was (not coerced from me).

Hailey seemed to calm down more, knowing what had happened. We decided it would be best to head back. After a few thoughtful moments, Hailey stopped and said “Elijah, I am really proud of you for telling the truth about throwing the rock.” I was proud of that too, because admitting mistakes is not easy, even for adults.

On the way out of the trail, a woman passing by asked Hailey why she wasn’t walking and having me carry her (why is this her business?). Hailey said “My brother accidentally hit me with a rock so I was sad and Mommy is holding me.” The woman rolled her eyes and said “Oh yeah an accident, I’m sure”. That really rubbed me the wrong way. Here was this interaction that she had no idea about, but yet she was assuming such negative intent, even given the information that it was not intentional. I can’t imagine a stranger having the same reaction if I was limping and she had asked what happened and I said “My husband accidentally bumped into me on the trail and I fell”. I really do not understand why someones mind goes to the worst possible scenario with these little people. And really, even if it had been on purpose, she had no insight to what occurred. This was probably a situation that was best for others to stay out of.

Overall, I think some important things came out of a hurtful accident. I am really proud of how both my kids handled themselves. I am most proud of the empathy they are both learning.

 

Play can turn it around

Standard
Often, it is very difficult to get the kids ready and out the door. Even when they want to go somewhere, they lose focus while getting ready, wiggle while we try to help them put clothes on, etc. Sometimes, this causes frustration for Papa and I, and that can lead to a not so great start to our outing.
 
Once I start down the cycle of feeling like I am in a battle with the kids, it is hard to pull out of that and before I know it we are locked in a pattern of me demanding something while they resist it (Like get in your car seat and buckle right now etc.). No one likes being bossed around and really, it is not how we want to parent. I believe we operate best, and feel the best, when we come from a place of partnership.
 
So today, I was in the kitchen cleaning up while Papa was trying to get Elijah (4) dressed and he was distracted and wiggling around. I sensed the all familiar pattern, but today, two words popped into my brain. Playful parenting. I read a book about that years back, and still try to incorporate many of the techniques from it. Whenever I turn a situation into an opportunity of play, it almost always makes the day better. The kids have fun, we connect, and they usually are more cooperative afterwards.
 
I ran into the living room and said “who wants to play Simon says?” The kids immediately got excited. So I started giving Simon’s orders. There were lots of silly animal noises, and body movements, but there were also “Simon says lift you foot into your pants leg”, or “put your socks on.” They were laughing and were suddenly happy to get ready in the game. Then they each took turns being Simon.
 
Everyone had fun. I spent some special play time with the kids. As a bonus, they got ready in record time and were happy to do it. There is no negative demanding cycle to break out of as we start our day either; in fact, it is quite the opposite. We are feeling connected and like a team.
 
So next time, before you engage in a power struggle, try to think of a way to play that everyone will enjoy.

The Day After Election Day

Standard

I will be honest and admit this day started off a bit rough for me, at least internally. It was the morning after a rough election night. I am a very sensitive person, I easily feel anxious or worry, and I react strongly to hate. I am not trying to get political, but I will say that I felt quite a shock that it seemed so many in our country are still choosing hate in their attitudes. I truly felt like I was grieving for my idea of what I want our world to be. I knew there were some people who had bigoted views, but I supposed I overestimated the progress that has been made.

Anyway, I was feeling emotional and posting on social media about it. Soaking up my like-minded friend’s feelings added to mine was too much. I felt overwhelmed and recognized that it was not a healthy though path for myself. I knew at that point, I could easily fall into a hole of complaining all day and commiserating with peers. Luckily, a few very loving posts helped me decided to put a stop to it right then. I wrote up a quick thought on my Facebook page and personal wall.

“I’m not going to allow the realization that our country is more racist and bigoted than I thought, to stop me from focusing on my children. I can’t let it distract me from showing them love, because that is how best to shape the next generation. I choose love.

And as my friend said, if you build a wall, I will teach my children how to tear it down.”

13116250_10209788928379597_1192133347842311362_o

I want to focus on these people

Then I shut it off. I stayed off social media for the rest of my day. I decided that today would be a good day and I would show my babies some extra love and attention. I told my husband my feelings and what I wanted to do and he agreed that would be good for me. I immediately started engaging the kids in a conversation and we laughed and chatted about one silly thing or another from there.

I cleaned up while the kids ate food in the kitchen, us chatting the whole time. Then I asked Hailey if she wanted us to show her how to play some card games. She was super excited to learn. First we showed the kids slapjack. Papa had to help Elijah play, because he couldn’t quite get flipping the cards down, so they became a team. After playing that we played war for a bit. Hailey won that.

I made some popcorn and the kids debated on which movie they should watch. I let them work it out, not by themselves, but I was more a facilitator and a guide. While they watched, I challenged Papa to a card game. We had no played cards just the two of us in a long while. We played a few games of Rummy and it was a lot of fun. I forgot how much I enjoyed playing cards with him.

The kids came in after the movie and asked to play some more. I needed to lay the baby down for a nap, so Papa took over playing Uno with them while I laid him down. I came out while he slept and started dinner. The kids were laughing and super into the game. Papa looked like he was having fun too.

We ate dinner together as a family at the table. We talked about our day, about a game Hailey and Elijah had made up, and about whatever else came up. I cleaned up a bit and the kids asked for ice cream. They are eating that now, loudly talking about something in their game. Soon we will cuddle and read books.

I think I needed this day. I needed to see that I can still chose to love and focus on my children despite my uncertainty of the future. I needed take back my control over my emotions. I know what I stand for and what I want to pass down to my children and I know that I must model it. I can’t promise that each day I will be as successful at pulling myself away from the worry, but I have to try. I must try to not let myself get sucked into the worry, the hateful posts, the arguing. Even when it is hard, I chose love.