It would make parenting so much easier if they gave an instruction manual on your way home from the hospital. Unfortunately, this is the epitome of learning “on the job” and there are lots of times where you may feel like you’re screwing up.
No matter how frustrated you may get, it’s very important to keep your emotions in check and not let your kids see you doing certain things when you get upset.
Here are three things in particular that I’ve stopped doing to my kids when I’m upset and, trust me, it’s made a huge difference in our family life.
1. Yelling at them
As a result of lack of sleep and dealing with two little ones, it became way too easy to get upset letting my temper flair and start yelling. Unfortunately, this usually just adds fuel to the fire of the situation.
With younger kids, they can either just tune you out, or become legitimately terrified of your temper. With older kids and teens, they’re more likely to start yelling back which then starts a back-and-forth escalation that isn’t going to do anyone any good.
Once in a while, I will slip and raise my voice a little too loud and my kids will say to me “why are you yelling mom?”. There’s nothing like having your kid to remind you of your no yelling rule.
2. Disciplining in the moment
It’s natural for you to get angry with your children and fly off the handle when you’re disciplining them. But, once you make a proclamation, such as “You are grounded for a month,” then you’ve set the tone for how this is going to play out.
You can’t go back and realize that maybe a month is too long and then let them off the hook later on. When you do that, they take your discipline less seriously and are more likely to get in trouble again because they figure you will just back down.
Instead, tell them that you will discuss their behavior later when you’ve calmed down. Then, you can come back to have a rational conversation about their behavior. This will help them when it comes to modifying their actions and it will keep your blood pressure from blowing up!
3. Sending them to time out
Time outs became really popular a decade ago or so, but let’s face it, they’re just not cutting it in a lot of situations. Instead, if your child is throwing a tantrum, tell them they cannot do whatever it was that they were doing until they’ve calmed down.
If they blow-up while playing a game, tell them that the game gets put away until they stop having a meltdown. This will usually fix the situation and you can then address things later when you’ve both calmed down.
If they continue, ignore them. The tantrum is meant to be an acting out that will get attention. If you don’t feed into this, then it’s like denying oxygen to a fire. It will go out on its own pretty quickly.
Staying calm when you are upset with your children can be a difficult thing. But you can’t let your temper flare out of control. Remember, you are modeling behavior that will fuel their actions for years to come. Instead, take a deep breath and try to handle things calmly and rationally.
Before having kids, I’d always heard of people talking about soccer moms—those harried suburban women with a mini-van full of kids having to run back and forth transporting them from practices to games.
I wasn’t sure that would ever by me. But now, after having kids of my own, I’m not a soccer mom. Instead, I’m a softball mom and, at one point, when my son was playing, also a baseball mom.
Peak season in the springtime usually meant practice and/or games 2-3 days a week. That was busy enough but when you pull in games on the weekends, you can see your life getting chaotic and out of control.
So, on any given day, you have to pick up the kids from school, have them scarf down a quick snack, start on their homework, go to practice, get back home, cook them dinner, feed them, and then they have to shower, finish their homework and maybe, just maybe, you can get them to bed at a decent hour.
So, how do we help our children do all of this? The first thing you’re going to need is a giant calendar.
I know, apps work well, too. But for a lot of people, having a big physical calendar is still the best way to go so you can physically see it without opening your phone and going down the rabbit-hole of technology distractions.
List all the events you have as soon as you get the schedule. Put up the practice dates, games, and other school events and see if there’s going to be any time left for other events. You don’t want to over schedule yourself and burn out even more!
Include one very specific thing for you and your family—some quality family time.
Make sure that at least once a week you’re taking a break from all the insanity and spending time without any sports. Watch a movie. Have a quiet dinner together. Do whatever you can but enjoy yourself with your kids.
And lastly, remember that the crockpot can be your friend. You don’t have to kill yourself cooking on top of all the running around and shuttling that you have to do. A slow cooker can help you set up a nutritious meal without having to spend hours slaving behind the steering wheel and over the stove.
When your little darling has an accident that results in an X ray and a confirmed fracture or break, you’re most likely worried about their pain. But then, the doctor says, “He needs to rest and be still for three weeks.” And you think, “Oh crap!” What about all the activities you’ve scheduled (and paid for?), what about school, what about your job? We break it down for you.
Depending on which little part they busted, mom and dad are going to have to dive in, facilitating with teeth brushing, getting dressed, hair combing, and possibly toilet time. The age of your child is also a factor. Some kids may regress or get frustrated when you have to help them, others may like the help because at least they don’t have you nagging them if they did it properly.
Dealing with a Non-Waterproof Cast
Not all kids get a hard, waterproof cast, so bathing and showering may become less relaxing than it used to be. After bathing, you may want to turn a hair dryer on cool and blow it through the openings of the cast, just to zap any unwanted moisture which may result in itching.
Something to look forward to, the cast is really going to be rancid when it comes off. And the skin underneath is going to look pale and wrinkly and feel squishy.
Adjusting After the Cast is Removed
Even when you make it to the finish line and it’s time to buzz the cast off, be prepared for an adjustment period when your child’s muscles and tendons need to regain strength and flexibility. Or you may have a rocket launch who looks like they never missed a beat.
The Fluff Stuff
Pillows are your kid’s friends. Prop till you drop. Maybe dig out your maternity sleeping pillow from storage. Keeping your kid comfy round-the-clock is key to whomever is caring for him/her.
Bust out the Sharpies! Why not stick some googly eyes on the cast and make it look like a pet? Decorating casts is a thing on Pinterest. You can get creative with crutches and arm slings, too. Some parents have gone uber cute and made little casts for their child’s stuffed animals. Misery loves company!
Communicate with Caregivers
Make sure you communicate with school and caregivers about what your child can and cannot do. If she can walk around and get fresh air at recess that’s better than sitting in the lunch room reading.
If your patient is home-bound, it’s time to line up some playdates. Who’s going to be good at playing cards, coloring, Legos, Mad Libs and board games? Who’s better at chilling in front of a good movie? Thankfully, your child’s brain doesn’t have to go to mush while they’re looking part-mummy. Reading, audio books and educational apps can keep your child and their company feeling enlightened.
No matter how many stories you hear from your friends, family and coworkers about what to expect with your first child, there’s nothing that will prepare you for the physical, emotional and mental roller coasters that you will need to experience first hand to fully understand what it’s like to be a first time parent.
The story that I’m about to tell you is something I wish I had known but I realized that I wouldn’t have known without having kids of my own.
With our first born, the moment we drove out of the hospital parking lot was the moment we officially were on our own to care for this new human being we brought into this world. I still remember it as if it happened yesterday. Immense feelings of accomplishment, joy, excitement and fear all wrapped up together. Random thoughts would creep into my head like “oh what if I do something that will hurt the baby, what if I don’t know how to stop them from crying, I have no idea what I am doing, how often should I be feeding the baby, or what if I accidentally drop her?”
“One thing you can count on is that you won’t have the answers to everything. That’s what family, friends and even your pediatrician is there for. You’re basically learning as you go. It’s like on the job training at its core”.
As we get home and settle into our routines, life does begin to get quite interesting.
The first week was great. I was still filled with so much joy and excitement that our new bundle of joy was finally here. We gladly woke up every 1-2 hours throughout the night to tend to our little one. But as the weeks continued on, the lack of sleep took its toll on us. The continuous cycle of feeding, pumping milk in between feedings to stimulate more milk production, burping, diaper change, sleep, wake up, wash bottles, rinse and repeat. Oh how I longed to just be able to sleep for a good 3-4 hours straight.
“I think if I could impart any wisdom in this area, it would be to arrange between you and your partner to take shifts during the night. Inevitably, after every feed, there would need to be a diaper change. What we did initially was have Dave wake up with me to help with the diaper change. That only resulted in both of us walking around like zombies during the day. So what we decided to do was from 10pm-2am, I would let him sleep all the way through. Then from 2am-6am, I would just need to wake up to feed. Even though I still had to wake up, that allowed Dave to be less tired during the day so that he could be more functional during the day to handle the baby and I would be able to nap more often”.
The most exciting parts of our days is when she opened her eyes and we could finally interact with her somewhat. She had no idea what was going on of course because at that age, they really can’t see clearly yet, but they do start to learn our voices.
A few months in is when it starts to get even more exciting. She is awake and alert for longer periods of time now. She’s starting to coo and smile. She’s able to interact with the toys we bought for her. People coming to visit loved holding and talking to her. You can’t help but keep telling yourself, “I can’t believe we created this”.
“Once you establish a routine and your baby gets into their own schedule, the sleep deprivation becomes more tolerable. The days become more predictable and you learn to sneak a power nap in when they nap. Or you learn to take advantage of family who come by to visit and let them take over while you get some much needed shut eye”.
We also quickly learn that every decision we make now revolves around our baby. She is already dictating when we can and can’t sleep but now adding to the mix, she dictates when we can shower, eat and drink, and when we can clean the house or even do laundry.
Gone are the days where we can decide on a whim to go out to the movies or go out to eat. Now, things like that has to be planned for and can only be done during certain time periods. And when we do go outside of the house with her, we need to be prepared to pack everything! Just run through your day and think of all the things you use on a regular basis and that’s what you will need to bring.
Before we knew it, she was starting to crawl and we find ourselves rushing out to baby proof everything in our house. We are now having to watch her like a hawk because she will put every single little thing that is on the ground, into her mouth. Then she started walking and now we really can’t take our eyes off of her for even a second!
“There are so many first times during this first year to capture. So many moments like the first time they started crawling and walking. Their first word, their first tooth, their first smile. First bath, first nail clipping. First outing. First baby food. Take pictures, lots of pictures. It is so easy with smartphones these days to do that. Even better would be to take videos”.
As a first time mom, it’s quite normal to want your hands on everything that your baby will possibly need.
When asked of moms who have been there and done that, “what are some of the must have items to survive the first year of your child’s life?” the list of items below came highly recommended. This is of course not a complete list but it’s definitely a good start.
Baby Monitor: So you can keep an eye on them and know when they wake up from anywhere in the house
Co-sleeper: This is like a mini crib that you can put right next to your bed. So during the night, they are within reach and you can easily pick them up without them actually being in bed with you.
Sleeper gowns: to quickly change their diaper and cover them back up without fumbling around with any buttons or snaps.
Shirts or onesies with covered long sleeves: Save the hassle of the standard hand mitts constantly falling off
Strong support system (Mom friends who are going through the same experiences as you. Local mom groups, local meetup groups, facebook support groups): To save your sanity
Night lights for late night feeding/changes
White noise machine: To lessen the chances of your baby being startled by a loud noise and waking up
Change of clothes always for baby and you: Accidents will happen
Housekeeper & food prep services if you can afford it: To decrease your stress and lighten up your workload so you can focus on bonding with your baby
Freezer meals: You won’t have time to cook but you still need to eat
Trumpet socks: They don’t fall off as easily as the regular ones. And they are super cute.
Owler: for peace of mind (SIDS).
Nose Frida: So much better than the bulb syringes
Baby Brezza if formula feeding: Makes prep time and feeding a breeze
Gripe water: Helps with Colic
Lots of Burp Clothes: Keep them accessible in every room so you have it within reach when you need it
Rocker: Nice to have to relax and rock your baby to sleep
Swaddles: Babies are used to being in tight quarters inside your tummy. When swaddled up, this gives them some comfort in familiarity and can soothe them.
Boppy Pillow: Makes positioning baby during breastfeeding much easier.
And last but not least, an item I can’t complete this list without mentioning and it’s our very own baby first aid kit that we put together for moms so that they can have more peace of mind knowing they are equipped to handle those everyday emergencies.
You will have tough days, you will have easy days. Life will be a roller coaster as you adjust to whatever your baby brings your way, the good and the bad. Your baby’s first year of life means a lot of first time experiences for you. So many joys, so many memories to start collecting.
Take it one day at a time and know that they grow up in what feels like a blink of an eye. Treasure those moments.
Picture this…your daughter has made it to her senior year in high school, she’s confident in herself, is a straight A student, top of her class, successfully juggles work, sports and school, everyone loves her, she has a good attitude, is ambitious, well rounded, and responsible. It’s basically everything you could ever hope for your daughter to become.
So why do we cringe then when people ask us, “so are you ready for the teenage years?” Why do most of us dread these years? Well we can’t help to feel that way when we hear stories like “my daughter committed suicide, my son is getting into fights at school, they are being bullied, my daughter is pregnant, my kids rebel at us every chance they get, getting into trouble with the law, and of course, my kids have major attitude.
BUT…..What if there was a magic pill that we could give to our kids that will guarantee they turn out like the perfect angel we envision them to grow up to be? Hah! Fat chance right?
The truth is that we can’t guarantee our kid’s teen years will be smooth sailing. Obviously we all know that much. As parents, we have the best of intentions for our kids. So if there is no magic pill, what would be the next best thing? A friend recommended, “Taking off to Hawaii for a few years to meditate and find enlightenment while the husband stays back and holds up the fort”. Sigh…if only that was reality.
In all seriousness, I do believe we as parents, can make or break these teenage years.
As a parent who has yet to go through this phase myself, there is tremendous value in learning from parents who have survived the much dreaded teenage years.
So I hope to share some advice that I have collected and some “things I would have done differently” from other parents that you and I may be able glean from to help us to best prepare ourselves and our kids through their adolescent life as best as possible. The more we know, the better we can prepare.
Always listen listen listen. Have a lot of discussions and talk with them about everything. Praise them when they share with you “So glad you were able to tell me that” So the communication ways stay open. You want them to come to you when they face a tough choice. Also have many talks about sex. Made huge difference in late teen sand early 20’s.
Set clear expectations and boundaries so that you can give them their independence and room to make mistakes and learn and grow from it
Teach money and responsibilities at an earlier age
Be more open minded
Encourage them to make their own decisions so they would become independent & self determined individuals
Don’t lecture, preach, or nag, but rather listen and guide them. Respect their thoughts
Earning money to get what they wanted. Saving more for it makes the appreciate and value life more. Teach then they can do and become who or whatever they dream, when they get out in the world, but for now do what I say when you’re under my roof
So I can pass on my bullet proof vest, cape, safety goggles and box of tissues and tell all of you to hold on, be consistent, set boundaries, learn to deflect the eye roll, monitor social media and communicate with your child as their parent
Too many outlets these days ie via social media so it allows them to avoid the issue instead of facing it. Social media makes heightens peer pressure, low self image and self esteem because it’s so easy to see your friends and compare yourself, even though it is all a facade.
Don’t fight with them to get your way. Work on compromise and problem solving with them. Let them take the lead on coming up with a game plan because that’s the only one that will work
Don’t give them everything they want, make them earn it themselves
Let them fall down a few more times in life. I look back and think I didn’t prepare them well enough for disappointment in the real world.
Set expectations but let them create their path (earn money, behavior, respect, set goals etc)
Provide structure and keep them busy in their younger years with activities so they have less opportunity to get themselves into trouble or associate with the wrong friends
Be 100% open and honest
Instruct them that they always have choices, but consider the consequence of each decision
would be more hands on with their goings and not so much freedom. Talk more
Never be so busy that you don’t have the time
Teach them to be a leader and not a follower.
All of these pointers are so important! Boy do we have a lot of work to do ahead of us to prepare. The one thing I have been hearing being repeated multiple times is to do whatever you can to make sure the line of communication is open. The last thing we want is for our kids to shut down and feel like they can’t come to us to discuss their problems.
If you have read this far, you’re probably thinking, “sure…easier said than done!” No doubt about it. All we can do is our best and hope for the best. What I do know for sure is that the earlier we can incorporate some of these skills and values into our kids, the easier it will be when our kids become teenagers themselves.
Among all the dreaded stories are the ones that give us new parents the hope that our kids will turn out ok. That we can trust them to make good and safe choices. Stories that inspires us to strive to experience the same kind of relationships with our kids and stories that we can look forward to for ourselves as well. So there is light at the end of the tunnel when you hear comments like these:
“I have 3 teenage girls 14, 16, 18 and 22 year old son. I am loving this stage of life more than any other stages so far”
“I’m loving the teen years so far!!!…I have 2 teenage boys, they’re like little men, with their own opinions and jokes! Fun time for sports”
“It has its definite stresses but I love it! The conversations are awesome”
“It is so fun to watch them grow into the adults they will be, and the conversations we have now I wouldn’t trade for anything”
So let’s get out there and raise our kids to grow up into strong, independent, and successful men and women of the future. Let’s not dread the teen years but instead, look forward to them and make them be the best years we possibly can.