Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Wisdom (teeth)

We have had a several week run of 5am wakings. In conjunction with only 1 hour naps, this does not make for a happy mom or a happy Girl.

Sunday evening was really the topper. To bed at 6:45pm, up from 1:30-3:00, then for good at 5:15am. Ouch. Girly was crying from her bed at 1:30 and, instead of waiting to see if she would go back to sleep, I went to rock her a bit. She instantly fell asleep in my arms. I put her back in her crib after about 5 minutes ... and ... let the crying commence. (As I stood up with her from the chair, she started tapping my shoulder as if to say, "Umm - scuze me - I am comfortable here - sit your ass down.")

I was lamenting to a friend about the up-all-nightedness and she asked about teeth. Teeth? Oh yeah. Those. Didn't occur to me in my middle-of-the-night momnesia stupor.

She has been chewing on her hands and everything in site for weeks, but I hadn't seen any teeth on the brief inspection Girly will allow. Then today, what do I find? A MOLAR! I surely didn't think we were ready for those. She only has 4 upper teeth and 2 lower, but I guess the tooth fairy doesn't ask which ones you want next.

(Here is a little chart about tooth eruption, not that we have followed this pattern).

So, Motrin is our friend again. I can't say that this is the sole cause of the early waking. (It started before the time change, which I thought would help things, but alas has not. ) We have fostered some behavioral component by getting her out of bed at 5:15am to come to our bed so we can catch 7 more minutes of sleep. I know we could and should leave her in bed to figure it out on her own, but sometimes sleep wins.

I am also experimenting with black out shades for her naps. She naps better at school than at home, which is crazy to me. A few variables to consider,though: 1) it is darker in her school room than in her bedroom, and 2) there is a peer pressure component when the room is filled with other sleeping children. I have resisted black out shades for an unknown reason. I guess I thought I didn't want her to become dependent on almost total darkness for napping. In reality, though, she almost exclusively naps at school or home, so it isn't a big deal. And the thought that I might be able to count on 1 1/2 or 2 hours of napping is just SO APPEALING.

I should have known better about the teeth ... the last time her sleeping was so disrupted teething was definitely the cause. Let this be a reminder to you. Also, as my friend said, there just must be something about the smell of a mom's neck that makes teeth feel better.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Wish I'd heard it sooner

Rookie Moms is one of my frequently-checked blogs. They have all kinds of good stuff on there!

I've copied one of their recent posts below. You can find the original here. Good advice, me thinks!

The best advice Ryan and I got during our first days with Julian came from a source that I can no longer remember, perhaps the pediatrician who made rounds in the hospital. It was this:

Babies need to go from 0 to 10 on a daily basis. A sleeping baby is at 0 and may spend most of his day that way. At 10, loud and incessant crying, your baby is also doing his job. At 0, 1, and 2, you probably feel like a pretty good parent, while at 8, 9, and 10 you assume you are doing everything wrong, your baby is in terrible pain, and wish that someone, perhaps the real mother of this baby, would come show you what the problem is.

Remember this scale, rookie moms. Your own baby’s crying is surprisingly difficult to endure. And it’s not because you’ve been reinvented as the most empathetic person on the planet or because you are so completely bonded with your baby. It’s because the sound is blood-curdlingly horrific and you know that no one else is responsible. Whatever the problem is, it’s yours to solve.

There might not be a problem is the point, however. It might just be your baby’s daily visit to the number 10. Rock her, change her, shush her, swing her, feed her. Even put her down in her crib and leave the room. Hey, for some kids, that works!

Remember this tip, pregnant readers, so that when your baby is at 5, 6, or 7, you can maintain a little perspective and save some energy for the rating of 10 that typically arrives around 4 or 5 pm.

Toddler and preschooler moms, are you still reading? Here’s my advanced patented theory of parenting: Your walking, talking child also needs to go from 0 to 10 on a daily basis. That’s why he’s hyperventilating over a light switch that you flipped on when he wanted to DO IT BY MAH SELF! He’s just exercising his ability to get to 10.

Maintaining perspective for the preschool set: When your kid is bouncing off the walls with glee, rolling around in the laundry you just folded, and hurling plastic tractors down a slide toward other kids, at least it is a happy 10. Isn’t it more pleasant than a tantrum about getting in the car seat that forced you to brace your knee against your child’s torso while you buckled him in? What? I do this to my daughter on a regular basis.

Find some positive ways to help your child get to 10 every day, to run around like a maniac; to jump on a pile of pillows, stuffed animals, and scarves; to throw rocks into water; and to scream “HOORAY!” and “POOP IS FUNNY!” loud enough for the neighbors to hear. Then hope that you’ve bought yourself another day.

Friday, March 12, 2010

It's good to have reminders

This job is hard.

Mommying is hard. Daddying is hard. Parenting is hard.

Harder for some than others, for sure.

Easier days and harder days and easier days and harder days.

Worth it? I will say, resoundingly, YES. But, that doesn't mean it is easy.

I have had a couple of reminders lately about how hard it can be for other parents, and how fortunate and thankful I am to be in the 'less-hard' category.

In a random, round-about way (isn't that always how it works?) I came across Enjoying The Small Things. It is a blog written by a talented photographer whose second child was born a few weeks ago and just happens to have Down syndrome. Her description of the birth story is very touching and so honest. From a professional perspective, I appreciated the insight into what so many of my patients feel. I am acutely aware that not every birth story is filled with rainbows and balloons. Also, though, there are moments of beauty in every birth, despite the unexpected. If I ever find myself in a similar situation, I hope I would be a fraction as gracious.

And this morning on the Today show, a story about a little boy Girly's age who was left unattended in the bathtub and drowned. He has miraculously recovered. Sheepishly, I admit my initial reaction was disgust - how could a parent do that? leave their child unattended? in the BATHTUB? But after a moment, I realized that no parent does that intentionally. It was an accident. I hope and pray that I never find myself in this similar situation, but why couldn't it happen to me? I am no better and no worse than any other parent who is trying their best.

I guess this is a long-winded way of saying ... no parent is perfect. I think we all try to be, but can anyone ever reach that goal? I am in awe at the friends and patients I have who meet seemingly insurmountable challenges in their daily lives as parents. To me, they seem perfect, although I'm sure they wouldn't say that themselves. And, those brief moments I have where I think to myself, "I would never do that!" ... don't be so quick, Missy. You today, me tomorrow.

Today, I vow to do my best.

And, tomorrow?

I'll try again.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Bye bye B

Goodbye B.
You were such a friendly pacifier.
We all loved you dearly and you served us well. Alas, your time has come. We no longer need you. Farewell, friend ...

We took the cold turkey approach at the suggestion of many friends. It worked well with the bottles, but the addiction to the pacifier seemed to be so much MORE. I suppose we are like most parents who think, "sure, lots of kids are addicted to the pacifier. But our kid? She must be the MOST addicted of all time."

We had discussed which weekend might be best (i.e. anticipating some napless/sleepless days - better have reinforcements) and the Huz just decided we should do it sooner rather than later. I mostly agreed, minus the immunizations on the same day of paci-dropping. Oh well. Timing isn't everything.

It started out reasonably promising. Girly got her paci ("B") in the morning and for her shots. She had it for her nap, which just happened to be POOR. She threw the sole remaining pacifier out of her crib on the floor when she woke up crying (as per usual), so I casually kicked it under her crib into nonexistence. Before her nap, I told her: "When you wake up, we are going to throw your B's away. You are a big girl and you don't need your paci anymore". I'm certain that she didn't know what I was talking about, but I felt better giving her some kind of warning.

It was a beautiful day, so we took full advantage and went to the park after her nap. (Key #1: do something a little out of your routine to keep minds off pacis). She asked about it only once or twice all afternoon and was easily distracted. I just said, "Sorry, no more pacis. Your B's are all gone. You are a big girl and you don't need them anymore."

I had also removed all visual cues to the pacifiers (key #2). We used to keep them on the bottle drying rack in our kitchen window. The rack and pacifiers were all put away during her nap. At bedtime, we used to keep spare pacifiers in her bookcase. Now, that area is replaced with a basket of loveys and stuffed animals.

Bedtime was a little different. She got whiny and asked for her B. I just calmly told her there were no more B's. I offered her a stuffed animal instead to take to bed, which she begrudgingly took. She cried for about 15 minutes while she figured out how to fall asleep.

I told Huz that it was kind of sad. I'm clearly not opposed to crying it out - but, I felt like this was something we had forced on her (I should use 'force' lightly - she was a big fan of the paci from the start) and then took away.

The first night was great - not a peep during the night, which was a pleasant surprise since I feared she might wake up and not know how to get back to sleep. The next day's nap also took about 15 minutes of crying, and was extra sad because now, instead of just crying, she can yell out "mama, mammaa, MAMA!!!!" Ugh. Saturday bedtime was about 10 minutes of crying, then Sunday nap was just a few minutes and Sunday bedtime was just a whimper and then to sleep. Or, that may have had something to do with her fever. Again, timing isn't everything.

She continued to ask for B here and there, but we just told her "the B's are all gone" and moved on with our business. I am proud of her and proud of us. I saved all the pacifiers up in the cabinet and I was prepared to give it back to her (restricted to bedtime) if we ran in to a disaster. I'm glad I had the contingency plan and I'm extra glad we aren't going to use it.

I'll tuck away a couple of the B's for memory's sake, but I'm glad they are just that ... a memory.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Love and Logic: Wrapping it up

I finished the 4th class this week, so I pretty much know everything there is to know about disciplining toddlers.

Oh, wait.

That's not how it works.

I'm pretty sure I just have a few new tools in my toolbox and now I have to start implementing them in my own home. OH SO HARD.

Anyway - here are some of the highlights of the rest of the class:

All people, children and adults, crave control. (And I probably crave it more than most). When kids feel powerless, they act out. The more control you can give your child, the fewer power struggles you will have. So, get in the habit of giving them LOTS of choices. All the time. Obviously, only give options that you like. Give the choices before they start to resist. If you do it after, you are rewarding their resistant behavior. If they don't choose in 10 seconds, you choose for them (and even choose the thing you think they like less to encourage them to choose promptly next time). And, on those occasions where they can't choose, you can say "You got to make a lot of decisions today. This time it is my turn. Thanks for understanding."

They also talked about an interesting idea to avoid bedtime drama. I think it is aimed more at school-age children, but they say to call it 'bedroom time' and not 'bed time'. Your child has to be in their bedroom at a certain time. As long as the parents don't see or hear the child, they can do whatever they want in their room and go to sleep whenever they want. The kicker, though, is that they have to get up at the established time - 6:30am or whatever you choose to start your day. After just a night or two of staying up super late, they will figure out sleeping on their own.

You should model things you want your child to do with great joy! Eat your vegetables, brush your teeth, clean your room ... whatever. You don't specifically draw their attention to what you are doing, but let them see how happy it makes you. You can also 'narrate' the activity: "It feels so good to pick up toys because then the house is clean!"

We didn't talk much about potty training because most of the parents had little kids, but there were a few nuggets I thought I should tuck away. These aren't necessarily Love and Logic, but advice from our instructors. One, potty training shouldn't be stressful. If it is, you started too early. Give it a break and try it again. Two, more harm is done from potty training too early than waiting. And three, when your child indicates to you that they are ready, have a grandparent or aunt/uncle or friend call the child and say, "I hear you are going to be sitting on the potty. Good for you! I wanted to let you know that sometimes you might not make it to the potty and you might have an accident. It's OK. That is part of how you learn to be a big kid." (or something along those lines). The idea is that the parents are usually so excited and super positive around their child when talking about the potty, that the first time the child has an accident they might be traumatized or feel like they let you down. This way, they know it isn't a big deal.

These guys are big on enforceable statements ... using "I will" statements instead of "You will" statements. Like, instead of saying "You will clean up your room right now!", you can say "I take kids to the park who clean their rooms".
- I help children who aren't whining
- I will listen when your words sound like mine
- I will be leaving in 5 minutes. Will you be wearing your clothes or carrying them in a bag?
- I do things for kids who say please and thank you

It takes a little mind shift to address your kids in this way, but the power lies in the fact that you are eliminating the opportunity for a power struggle. Because you are describing your own actions / behavior, you call the shots.

If you live in the Kansas City area, there is a Love and Logic parenting class at Shawnee Mission Medical Center that starts April 11th - you can get info through their website.

So, how about, "I will get cookies for moms who complete parenting classes?"

Done and done.