Tag Archives: connecting

Every little thing is gonna be alright

Be the example

Frustration, anger, upset, exhaustion, etc. These are all emotions of motherhood. (I know, there are the good emotions, too, like love, compassion, cuddling (that’s an emotion at our house), happiness, calm, joy, peace, etc.) But this is about the messy emotions that hurt.

I let those get out of control a lot when my kids were young. I didn’t have a good grasp on what it was I needed to keep those emotions in check. Turns out, that last one I mentioned in the list above, exhaustion, was the guiding emotion. He was the Big Kahuna, the one who basically set the tone for everything else.

When sleep was elusive with babies and toddlers in the house, Exhaustion moved in and took over. And when Exhaustion is in charge, Anger, Upset and Frustration are like groupies. They follow wherever Exhaustion leads.

It can be hard, for several reasons, for a new mom to recognize this. There’s the cute new baby that everyone is in love with—and because it’s so cute and cuddly, you’re losing sleep to stay awake and watch it sleep—or you’re wondering why everyone is so in love with this bundle that eats, poops and sleeps all the time, and these thoughts are keeping you up because you’re stressed because you feel like a bad mother. Then there are the constant loads of laundry. I.Mean.Constant.

And there are the expectations that you put on yourself. (OK, the expectations start with society, but we moms internalize them and they become our expectations if we’re not careful.) And these standards are high. We ran corporations, headed up major projects, hiked across Europe and made something of ourselves. This motherhood thing should be a cinch.

Haha. It’s not.

When we were doing all those other great things in our lives before kids, we did them in a non-hormonal state, without the responsibility for the most precious thing on earth—human life.

Turns out, becoming responsible for a new human life coincides directly with enhanced hormones and sleep deprivation.

So, what to do? Don’t let Exhaustion be in charge of you. He already has his groupies. Don’t be one, too.

If you’re a first-time mom, the solution is simple—not easy, but simple. Sleep when the baby sleeps and let your partner (or, if you’re a single mom, let anyone who is willing to help you with these things) do the laundry and cook the meals. Ask for help from neighbours, friends and family. Even better, accept it when it’s offered. There is no prize for doing it all. Seriously. No prize. (This hurt when I found out.)

Your calm, peaceful attitude will rub off on your baby. The less exhausted you are, the less stressed you are, the happier your baby will be. I’m not talking perfect bouncing cherub-faced baby all the time here. I’m just saying, deep down, your baby will be calmer when faced with upsets. Be the example, even at that young age.

If you are not a first-time mom and don’t have the luxury of sleeping when the baby sleeps because you have to make sure that the toddler doesn’t dump all the Cheerios on the floor and burn the house down, put the kids to bed at a decent hour (bedtime is between 7:00 and 7:30 pm in our house), spend some quality time with your partner (I’m talking a good solid connection but for a short period of time), then go to bed early.

I didn’t do this when my kids were little because I thought I had to do it all. And I wanted to spend a lot of time with my husband because, you know, he’s an adult and adults are really cool to talk to. But now that those years are behind me—and I suffer from terrible guilt attacks from how many bad emotions I consistently displayed in front of my kids—I realize that those years were short and my children and I would have been better served by lots of sleep so that Exhaustion could not be in charge.

Silver linings

There is always something good to come out of any bad circumstance. You just have to look for it. And the silver lining to my early years with my kids was that I had ample opportunity (more than I’d like to admit) to be an example of regaining control after losing it.

I wasn’t always good at it. Sometimes Exhaustion had me in its cold, iron grip and I just couldn’t squeeze out. And when I was very upset and Exhaustion was in charge of the upset instead of me, it often spiraled out of control and ended up in the most dramatic of upsets: the upset that I couldn’t seem to keep it together no matter how hard I tried.

But there were days of calm when things would happen unexpectedly and Upset and Anger would step up to the plate and I would reign them in by sheer will and my desire to be a better person and a better mom to my kids. (Those were days that followed nights of adequate sleep.)

So when I see that my children are tired and frustrated, my example is the best lesson for them. If you let yourself get frustrated at your child’s frustration, the situation escalates. Jan Blaxall, a professor of early childhood education at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario says, “Research shows that children learn how to regulate their emotions by watching their parents.” (Source: www.todaysparent.com/toddler/toddler-behaviour/how-to-deal-with-a-frustrated-toddler/).

So what did my angry outbursts and unhelpful self-care patterns teach my children? It taught them that getting upset and freaking out was the way to go when things didn’t go their way. It taught them that cooperating and helping each other was optional depending on their mood. And it taught them that when they couldn’t keep it together, they didn’t have to try harder, they could just fall down into a balling mass of tears and screams. (Yeah, I did that sometimes. I was that exhausted and unwilling to ask for help. Lesson learned.)

And this is a vicious cycle. The more upset I got, the more upset they got. We needed some peace in our lives.

And somehow, somewhere deep down inside me, I found that place where peace exists and I dragged it up into the lives of my children. And I saw an immediate change in their behaviour as it related directly to my behaviour.

And even now, with slightly older children and no babies in the house, sleep has to be a priority. If it isn’t, we open the door and invite Exhaustion in. And his groupies follow him. And they don’t make for a very nice family life.

Family Day in Ontario

Tomorrow is Family Day in Ontario; a day for families to slow down, disconnect from our devices and connect with each other. That’s a hard thing to do in this rushed and wired world.

But here are some ideas from Childventures Early Learning Academy on how to incorporate technology into reconnecting with our families this Family Day:

Family Day Ideas

Family Day gives parents a great opportunity to spend valuable quality time with their children.

 Work and Family Balance

Use this opportunity to take a break from work and spend quality time with the family. Take a vacation (with or without pay) and if feasible, go out of town for the weekend. If going away is out of the question, camp in your own backyard. Parents get a chance to step away from their everyday life while it increases a child’s awareness of his/her surroundings and allow them to discover nature. Try to experience outdoor camping activities by making a list together.

 Dressing up

Let children pick out their clothing (with guidance) for the weekend. To make things more exciting, allow children to redesign some old articles of clothing by embellishing them with gems, beads and paint. It’s fun and it encourages creativity and planning. Let your child take the lead with this activity.

 Outdoors

Act as tourists in your own city. Find out about local events, and visit some exhibitions and/or historical landmarks. Grow the excitement by allowing children to plan the week. Do online research together and find activities that interest them. Be more active, if weather permits, go rollerblading or hiking. Fitness Fact: Almost 60% of today’s children don’t meet average fitness standards; 40% of five- to eight-year-olds are classified as obese.

Limit Technology Use

Leaving technology behind does not require leaving your home. For a night or two, arrange your own blackout. Make sure you prepare yourself in advance with flashlights and candles, snacks, water bottles, and board games. This will allow families to spend quality time together without electronics.

 In the City

Take children to a clay oven pottery shop where you can make and paint coffee mugs and cereal bowls together. Encourage children to paint something special on their pottery and customize it by writing their name on it. The store will put them in an oven (kiln) and you can pick them up a few days later. This becomes a great keepsake.

 Dinner

Ask children to choose a country and plan the special dinner together. Cooking together can result in many benefits, more than just spending quality time and having fun. When it comes to cooking, the activity can result in developing a child’s social and language skills, teaching them how to work in a team. The physical aspects of cooking can develop both gross and fine motor skills in children. It is also a great opportunity for children to develop their math skills and learn scientific concepts, like the changing states of matter. After cooking the meal, download some music to play during dinner and learn some interesting facts about the country to share at the table.

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About CHILDVENTURES EARLY LEARNING ACADEMY—Childventures was founded when Dr. Heidary was unable to find the high level of care he was seeking for his own young child. As a doctor he had read the research showing the importance of the formative early years and he was looking for something better than he found. As busy professionals with full—time careers, he and his wife were seeking a loving place with caring people, qualified educators and caregivers, great programs and curriculums designed to influence neurological development at specific ages, a sequential program of learning at each stage with measurement systems to track progress, a secure, safe, modern environment, beautiful classes and play areas, a fun, child—focused atmosphere that embodies play techniques, a strong nutritional component, teacher—to—child ratios congruent with learning and caring, parental involvement for continued success of the child, modern learning, monitoring and security technology. These are the elements found at Childventures in Richmond Hill, Vaughan, Burlington and Ancaster.

First Day of School

I’ve been thinking about this post all week.

It’s an exciting time, back-to-school. Especially for the younger ones who don’t yet dread tests and homework.

But what struck me the most this year was that it’s also a time for reconnecting. Continue reading

Three little birds

My family’s theme song. It’s Sunday morning. We’re getting ready for church. The kids are a little cranky. We’re all a little tired.

My husband pulls out his iPod and finds Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds. Big Sister dances around the living room, iPod in hand. An argument breaks out between Big Sister and Little Brother over who is going to hold the iPod.

I pull up YouTube on the computer and stream the same song for Little Brother to distract him from the iPod. Continue reading

Ultimate Blog Challenge – The End

And it’s over. 30 days of writing. 30 days of posting. Well, more like 15 days of posting for me. I started late with the challenge and had to do some catching up. By the 19th of the month I was on track to post once a day.

But hey, there’s a reason this little space on the Internet is called Life Takes Over. It happens. It’s a fact of, well, Life.

I lost five days in the last part of the month to mundane important parenting responsibilities. (Feeding my kids healthy meals does take a lot of prep time and a certain amount of planning genius, especially when dealing with picky eaters.)

But here’s what I learned by taking part in the Ultimate Blog Challenge: Continue reading

Connecting

I love writing. I always have. I get a lot out of it. I also put a lot into it. One thing I didn’t expect to get out of it was connection.

I was always afraid to let my written words out into the world because of the reaction they might garner. Would people like my words, my stories? Would they think I was trying to be something I’m clearly not? I fancy myself a writer, but what do others think? Continue reading

My Words – the power of connecting

I don’t know about you, but as a writer I do a lot of reading. And when I read quotes, I always think, “Wow, someone thought that what this person said or wrote was important or inspiring enough to quote them.”

I can also only speak for myself (although I suspect that most writers share my feelings on this) when I say that the words that I write, the phrases that they combine to make, are my babies. And when I hit “publish”, I’m sending my babies out into the world to impress, to inspire, to connect with readers. Continue reading