I needed a storage option for some toys that are out in the girls' playhouse in the backyard - including some plastic food and dishes. They like to play house/store out there and so after I bought this cheap 3-drawer plastic storage container, I decided to use a sharpie to turn the top of it into a stove so that they could play cook outside. Voila! And there is convenient storage for all the little foods and dishes underneath.
This would be great inside too for toddlers while mom is working in the kitchen and could easily be pushed into a pantry or wherever when wanted out of sight.
Yes that's right - more poop! Because I also have a three and a five year old. And what I really want to know is when does the butt wiping truly end? Seriously, my girls both did great at potty training. They were trained at their second birthdays for night and day. Alas, a child who poops in the potty still cannot be left to their own devices. The fact of the matter is they have short arms and cannot properly reach behind themselves to do a good job.
I can't help but adore the simplified design of these paper cuts from Emily at Papers' Edge. Share the colors of your child's room and a little bit of information, and she'll create an original one of these super cute and modern personalized images of your child/baby. I would love to have one of these for each of my two girls hanging side by side on their currently blank bedroom wall - when they are grown, I would hang them in my own space to remind me of the preciousness of their childhood.
The men at my church decided to get together regularly for a couple of weeks to talk about men stuff and....to build this amazing playhouse for my girls! How cool is that? It's beautiful. The details are amazing - inside a little white board and a bar for playing/eating at; outside fully trimmed with silicone caulk to water proof it and the most adorable little window ledge and corrugated roof. So much time and effort and finance went into this and I feel so totally honored. The girls are absolutely loving it and are negotiating for their favorite paint colors. Those guys don't know how much joy they've brought to my little girls - what an amazing gift! Thank you seems too small.
My family was browsing through the toy section at Target the other day when I was suddenly hit by a wave of nostalgia. There on the shelf in a neat little row in front of me stood three classics reproduced to match their original versions introduced in the early sixties. I'd bet you recognize some of these too - the "talk-back phone" (later renamed chatter phone), the teaching clock, and the Fisher Price television. They seemed so sweet to me and I totally wanted to take them out of the boxes to hold them and play with them and reconnect with long ago memories. It was strange how just a few little toys brought back so many other things as well. I love these because of their simplicity.
My daughter Hope is my little "island girl." In the summer (despite whatever amount of serious sunscreen I keep on her) her skin quickly turns it's hue to a lovely warm tan and her long wavy hair becomes a bright shimmery blond. That combined with her propensity to run around mostly naked has earned her my little tropical nick-name. Her younger sister however, is porcelain pale with light blue eyes. Maddie can sunburn in no time at all. It is interesting to see the two of them side by side, their complexions in contrast. But something new has come out just recently. My husband and all of his family have lots of freckles. But because they don't appear right away on children, I had all but forgotten that my girls might inherit them too. I spent several days wondering why a spot on Maddie's nose wouldn't wash off - until it dawned on me. Freckles! Two cute little freckles, right on the tip of her nose! and so it begins....
I was never a huge fan of the in-line style of Phil and Ted's e3 strollers...though admittedly, there hasn't been anything else that has really thrilled me either. However, I was really pleasantly surprised to see that Phil and Ted's has updated it's line to include some great variations on their "classic" e3. Especially noteworthy is the new Vibe...which has all the characteristics so many people have loved about the classic e3, but it includes features such as being even more lightweight, folds with the double-kit on, zip on storm and sun shields, slide and click addition of the double kit, and a much better platform for the child's feet.
I recently attended a parenting seminar where I received a bunch of resources. One thing that was
touched upon was the decline of "manners" in our society and the necessity of teaching and holding our children accountable for common courtesy. Among our hand-outs was a list of age-appropriate manners taken from the book You Can Raise a Well-Mannered Child by June Hines Moore. It's clearly not exhaustive, but I've included it below. However, let us remember that the goal is not to hold your kids to a long list of obligatory rules but rather to train our children to be considerate of others rather than self-serving individuals as a whole.
I recently saw this blanket from funkymoose - it has pockets on the side! I immediately got this - and I'm sure you will too if you have the kind of child that must have a ton of stuffed animals, books, or other items accompany them to bed. Aside from the fact that these items inevitably end up all over the floor, under the bed, twisted in the covers, shoved between the wall and the mattress, or slept right on top of....I thought this would be a great incentive to limit the amount of items that could be brought into bed...three pockets? three items! And what kid doesn't like to hide things in pockets and pull them out over and over again? For a child who is slightly older, this would be a great idea for hiding a book and a flashlight or a journal. It makes me want to go and sew fun little pockets all over my girls' blankets!
I ran into a friend at the grocery store who was so excited about these No Slippy Hair Clippy barettes that she just had to tell me! Apparently they really do work great! I wish I had known about them when my girls were born with heads totally full of fine baby hair - even now, I continue to search for really great barettes. I have to say that these are so super cute too that it's really hard to choose! Here are a few of my faves - but there are a ton of styles to choose freom. My girls would go crazy over these and I'd go crazy over finally being able to keep their hair out of their faces!
Got this email from a dear friend of mine (who will remain anonymous) and I just had to share it with you. Now this is authentic parenting!!!!
My day so far-besides starting the day sick with my congestion and a significant cough:
9:00 let the hooligans out of their rooms, both arguing about what they won’t wear
9:30 While I’m on phone with doctor’s office on hold for a bill I already paid for and have the receipt for, Baby Girl dumps bowl of milk on top of her hair. Despite quick attempts to wash it out, it is currently sticking straight up and has the consistency of straw. While cleaning that up, Little Boy stands on the fireplace and projectile spits an entire mouthful of milk all over the floor and carpet. I never did get through to the doctor’s since I had to get off the phone to deal with the kids.
The rest of the exact times are a blur now, it’s 11:30 currently:
-My mom calls. The cordless phone dies. I plug in the other phone. While plugging in other phone, Baby Girl pulls out the craft box. Little Boy finds the red glitter glue and spreads it all over the tv screen, couch, fireplace, children’s chairs and coffee table(in mere seconds). After cleaning that up and disciplining him, I call my husband to also give Little Boy a talking to. For the two minutes on the phone with my husband, Little Boy walks over to the corner and pees on the carpet. While I get off the phone and deal with him climbing on the dresser and peeing, Baby Girl takes out every beauty product and medication from under the sink. After I secure Baby Girl, Little Boy goes into the living room and dumps a glass full of milk on the floor(supposedly by accident). I decide at this point that I need coffee so we have a few serene minutes while Little Boy and Baby Girl help me make coffee. While I set up our craft, I realize Little Boy had misplaced a major piece of the craft in his morning dealings. I tell him to find it and he sweetly asks for help. While I help to look for it, he takes the opportunity to spray Windex from the entertainment center, still there from cleaning up the glitter glue, into my coffee and into Baby Girl’s eyes in one foul swoop. At this point, I put him in his room to think about his actions and locked the door, taking care of Baby Girl. I go pour a second cup of coffee. Upon taking it out of the microwave, I somehow lost hold of it, spilled hot coffee on every piece of clothing I had on and broke my favorite mug(however, glad to not spill it on Baby Girl). At this point I gave up and am writing this email! I’m still trying to decide if its in Little Boy’s best interest for survival to let him out of his room…
" I don't know how well you will know this or not but I was wondering if it is natural for toddlers to hump as they go to sleep. I was at a day care the other day and I was told that it was natural. I saw your blog and thought I would email and see what you thought or if you know of any books or websites that I could go to. I have never heard that and it is something that I want to be cautious about. Thanks." Dottie
I'm so glad you asked this question! This is something which may feel very embarrassing to parents who might have real concerns and questions. I actually can speak to this and am glad to have the opportunity. This activity, humping - or otherwise masturbating, by young children is extremely common. Just as children explore and learn about all the other parts of their bodies, like hands and feet and ears....they will eventually discover that rubbing or playing with their genital areas can feel good. This behavior becomes particularly common at times when a child is tired, stressed, watching t.v., or bored. It is done simply for soothing, comfort, or because they like the way it feels - it is not related to sex or fantasy for young children. I have experienced this with my own daughter and I admit it is really kind of a weird and potentially uncomfortable subject to deal with. There are a few key things that are helpful to remember: first, that it is very common. Secondly, that it won't hurt the child or lead to strange sexual thoughts or practices - nor is it a symptom of poor parenting or abuse. Third, it is important for children to learn about and appreciate all of their body as well as to have a relationship with their parent that will allow good communication about sexual values and so forth. Therefore, it is important to be careful as adults how we react to this behavior. We don't want to communicate anxiety or shame or punishment or fear. The best thing to do is just to totally ignore it if it is happening at bedtime or while the child is alone in a private setting. In any setting, it should be handled matter-of-factly but unashamedly. Young children don't have discretion between private and public behaviors.....in the same way that you would discourage a child from other behaviors in public, you can discourage this behavior as well - either by offering distraction or simply telling them that if they would like to do that they will need to go to the bathroom or to their room and not do it when other people are around. And one last thing to keep in mind, is that this behavior can't really be completely stopped and a parent or caretaker should not show any punitive action or demeaning attitude to the child but should learn how to teach them and direct them to what is appropriate and what is valued by their family. This is a good opportunity to start establishing natural and good means of communication with your children about their feelings and their bodies. This can be a bit embarrassing for the parent to ask questions about, but a pediatrician can be very helpful in answering more questions about this. It is very common, and I believe there is lots of information
Have you experienced this with your children? How did you feel or react? Did you talk to anyone such as your pediatrician about it?
It's MySpace meets Toddlers. A new website called Totspot will allow parents to log on and create a private page with a profile for their child where they can add photos, track their baby's "firsts", and brag about all of the cutest and weirdest things they are up to.
I am an organized person - I feel better when everything is in a designated place, typed, arranged, filed, planned, alphabetized, categorized....you get the picture. Then came motherhood - and let me say that I've had to let go of a lot of my expectations for remaining organized and neat at all times. Now, some hybrid form of organized chaos now fills our days. Nevertheless, I do find that a little bit of effort in planning ahead can go a long way toward maintaining a mother's sanity...and helping her to feel like she is making and employing good decisions for her family instead of simply being pulled along by the massive weight at the other end of the leash. I'm still trying to figure out how you find the time to plan for things that you already are having trouble finding time to do.....but nonetheless, I do manage to plan some things - like my dinner menu for each week, though planning other things that I'd like to like a regular routine for my housework, I cannot seem to pull off. Anyway, I found this site - Planning with Kids, and I think it's great. So whether you are a Type A personality who is just constantly looking for more ideas and better ways to plan or whether you are looking for some help to just survive another day of this adventure with kids - or if you are just looking for ways to make family life more simple and fun..it might be worth checking it out.
I'm always amazed at what sponges little kids are...they have such an immense ability to retain stuff that they hear. It is always fun to hear Hope suddenly include some crazy word in her vocabulary when I have no idea where she got it from...and spend the next few days like a sleuth trying to figure it out until we run across the word again in a library book or she remembers who she heard it from. And it always tickles me when Maddie starts spewing out stuff that she clearly has overheard but that I had no idea she was paying any attention to. For example, Hope and I have been having some fun with shapes recently. The other day while eating at Chipotle, Maddie picked up a triangle-shaped tortilla chip, bit off the top point, held it up to me and said, "look mommy, a trapezoid!" The cuteness of a tiny two-year-old voice using such a technical word totally bowled me over!
I love bath time for the girls...cute naked tooshies, rosy clean faces, kids contained all in one small space! What's not to love? Though, sometimes at the end of a long day as we're getting the kids ready for bed, I admit it seems a bit of a chore and I have a hard time not rushing them through it. But occasionally, like today, we rearrange our schedule a bit and the girls get a morning or mid-day bath instead. They get to stay in for a really long time and enjoy themselves...and I get to have them both contained and entertained while I soak my feet or sit nearby and give myself a little mani/pedi....or maybe indulge in a magazine or book...or even just enjoy the time to play with them. While there might be a few extra wet towels and washcloths and a mountain of toys left in the tub in the end, at least there is no mess being made elsewhere and I get some time to slow down a bit and it all results in clean, well-groomed children.
We don't have one of these yet, but I hope that we will soon. In August, Gymboree opened it's first of a new chain of concept stores which offer those cool styles that have made Gymboree really popular, but at 30% of the price. For example, long sleeve T's start at 2 for $6. Crazy 8 outfits newborns to child size 14, both boys and girls. While they hope to have plenty of stores up and running soon, you'll have to shop online until then.
And, though the toys go on and on...and so does my fondness for them, I'm going to wrap up my little excursion and showcase with these by Deglingo. I love Molo the lobster. So cute in that quirky, offbeat kind of way - they just beg to be taken home with you! And you can find these and all the other toys I have highlighted this week at Oompa toys. I hope you have as much fun perusing as I did!
I'm not through with my big toy kick yet - I just couldn't leave these out! They are everything a basic block set is and so much more! Creative, fun, versatile and ultra cute! Haba Stacking Animals.
Okay, how can you resist these???? They are just too sweet! Utterly Irresistible!
Knitted donut assortment from Yellow Label Kids.
Continuing my obsession this week with really cute toys and items for the kids, I have to include this. Love it! It would make such a great item in our play room to hang dress-up clothes on, or brilliant in the winter for all those hats,scarves, coats, snow gear and things that seem to be floating around the house, or just every day in the bedroom for miscellaneous apparel. Any little boys out there with growing ball cap collections? Totally cute! Clothes tree from P'kolino.
I don't know how I missed this company! I simply adore everything! I spent a long time looking at toy after toy and more...every one I could find, just because it was so much fun! I liked everything I saw and couldn't help but wonder, why haven't I noticed this company before? I LOVE this town carpet...love, love, love it!!!! and check out the Fantasy Voyage Platform bed, both from Haba - obviously a new favorite company of mine, and of course, they do more than furniture and decor - the toys are superfabulous! I'm head over heels for their food for my kitchen/grocery store obsessed daughters. More to come from them soon!
I was in Barnes & Noble today, where I met a very nice woman and also got to check out a really great book. Gallop!: A Scanimation Picture Book by Rufus Seder had both of my girls and the other woman's little boy captivated. And I must say, I thought it was really cool. Each page has a picture of an animal which moves by that great scan-art technique - and I mean, really moves - lots of movement, it's great! Definitely something new and fascinating to add to any kids library. I would even say that babies too will really enjoy seeing the black and white figures run, crawl, and do whatever they do. If you are headed to B&N soon, be sure to check it out, it's something you need to see in person.
I am a blue robot, from Jellycat: the most cuddly interpretation of a big, artificially intelligent hunk of metal I've ever seen! I'd love to make this a new bunk mate for my girls!
I've never had the extra money to splurge on toys for the kids. Luckily they have still managed to gain quite the collection thanks to family and friends. But, having never really shopped for toys, I've missed out on eyeing and playing with some really fantastic stuff out there! Recently I've stumbled onto the mecca of cool toys, so I'm like a kid in a candy shop...or well, a toy shop - and since I can't just buy them all up, I'm going to post them up instead. So, please be patient and bear with me over the next little while as I just throw cute stuff for small kiddos up for you to see and drool over with me. Here's one of the first: HOW ADORABLE ARE THESE!!!! Stacrobats Acrobates Magnetiques Empilables from Kushies.
I just found out (via my friend Linda) that a J.W. Tumbles children's gym is coming to Herndon! It will be located in shopping center by the new Harris Teeter - which nicely places it just next to a Panera and a Starbucks. I also discovered that there is already one located in Ashburn as well. It is fun to see that there will be a few more options for indoor play!
My oldest son, Oliver, has been somewhat slow to get with the talking program. While his vocabulary increases steadily, it’s often hard to understand what he’s saying. For example, it took days to identify “ca-pour” at catapillar. Who knows how much of what he says is lost on us.
One word that features prominently in his daily chit chat is “careful.” (Gee, I wonder where that one came from…) Sometimes it’s directed at his siblings and sometimes it’s just a note to self as he tries something that he knows I would discourage. But it took us a while to understand that what he was saying was “careful.” It doesn’t sound like “careful.” It sounds like “cat poo.” Chris and I love this so much that we now say it all the time. As I’m climbing up a window sill to pull down a Christmas wreath: “CAT POO!” As Chris balances on a banister to retrieve a balloon from the ceiling over the stairs: “CAT POO!” We really need to stop, or Oliver is going to think that this is the true pronunciation (and the twins will show up at daycare telling each other to be cat poo).
Every day offers the challenge of deciphering words in the scramble of Oliver’s language. Another current highlight is “get out” (as in “get out of the booster seat, the shopping cart, the fort of pillows under which he is trapped…”). This registers phonetically as “gay out.” We have had hours of fun with that one. But one that has really made us stop in our tracks, is the word “frog” (his current favorite animal). When Oliver yells “FROG,” it sounds a little more like “FOG,” which when pronounced with a very hard “G” is unnervingly similar to something else….
I agree that toy boxes seem like a really great idea, because we know the accumulation of toys which begin to take over the homes of small children and the inevitable lack of storage solution. But I'm a big proponent of staying away from the toy box idea and aiming towards anchored shelving, drawers, cabinets, and smaller bins. Here's why:
Recently, Tricia asked me if
I’d be interested in contributing to her blog with some reflections
being the mother of twins plus a first child that was only 1 ½ when
they were born. This is a question that I get all the time: “So you
must really have your hands full – how do you manage?” The
answer to this would be that I have no idea. People say, “I just don’t
know how you do it,” and I think, “me neither.” As my husband,
Chris likes to say, we’re just trying to survive and our only real
job right now is to keep the three of them alive.
Now that we’re out of the marathon phase of three-hour feeding schedules for infant twins (including three to four wake up calls each night), I think we can get past survival mode. Newer priorities include herding, refereeing, and keeping anything weapon-like out of reach. They’re not violent children – just very physical. The oldest probably sets the tone by initiating games that tend to involve knocking each other down on the floor and seeing who can hold the others down the longest (and as a 35 lb. “toddler” that looks like a 4 year old, he has a gross advantage over the other two pee wees combined). Honestly, after about six months of feeling like I ruined Oliver’s life by bringing home not one, but TWO unwanted siblings, I’m just glad that they all seem to like each other.
It is really interesting to watch how children learn....every child, any child - it's really mind blowing! And it's really fun...especially when interesting little quirks pop out. For instance, Maddie knows the entire alphabet. Except, she doesn't know them all by name, only by sound. Point to an "E" and she'll say "eh", or point to a "C" and she'll say "kuh" quick as anything - the whole alphabet through, but she honestly and oddly picked this up ahead of the letter names! I can only guess it came through hearing and watching her older sister work through letter sounds.
"Don't tell me!" is a phrase around which many of our family stories center. I was famous for it as a little child - hating any action to be disapproved of and especially hating to seem like I didn't know best, I would employ this phrase whole-heartedly upon being corrected. My parents still laugh at the memory of it and we thought it was a unique "Tricia" kind of thing...until Hope came up with it all on her own too. Now, at four, she communicates these feelings a bit differently and has outgrown the phrase, but I sure found it funny when it repeated itself in her. Our 2-yr. old Maddie, who is every bit as verbal as a tot as Hope was, has chosen her own version to my complete entertainment. Whenever she is told no, she looks at me with teary eyes and says "I don't want you to say that mommy, I don't want you to say that to me!" Clearly the child is in touch with her feelings!
Hope had her second ballet class today - and loved it, no surprise. In the meantime, Maddie and I had an hour to spend together just killing time. I took a book for us to look at and when we were finished, I decided to walk next door to the grocery store. Usually shopping with the girls is a whirlwind kind of experience. So, I took Maddie to the produce section for no other reason than to browse, to take the time to let her feel the differences between a bumpy round orange, a smooth oblong mango, and fuzzy kiwi....to look at all the different colors, and to smell the pineapples and also the roses from the nearby floral dept. It was really nice to just not care about a grocery list or if the kids were getting cranky and spend some one on one time experiencing things with my two year old. Grocery stores are great opportunities for fun with young ones - you can scavenger hunt for shapes, colors, letters, textures, sounds, and temperatures! You can make up games out of your usual shopping trips, or it's a good idea just to visit the store with no intentions of buying anything and when there's plenty of time to let it be a fun and relaxing experience for you and your children. Here are some more game ideas for the grocery store from Wondertime magazine and PBS.
Maddie is doing fantastic with potty training...she's even slept without a diaper, she's been much easier
than Hope was. Still, everytime she has to "go" she comes and gets me (she's not to the independent, do-it-herself stage yet of course), and this is how our conversation goes everytime:
Maddie: (cute wide-eyed excited face and sweet little voice) I'm making pee-pees!
Me: good job! that's wonderful!
Maddie: clap and say yay!
Me: clapping, "yay! yay"
Maddie: okay, now I flush
(we finish up)
Maddie: as she runs from the bathroom to the first person she can find and screams: I pee pee in the potty! I pee pee in the potty!
Isn't life so exciting????
I like the idea of these Bright and Beyond card decks...I've eyed them over at various times, but haven't tried them myself yet, still I hear good things. The marketing really focuses on enhancing development and intelligence - but I think that the truly attractive quality is that sometimes there are just days when as tired moms, we completely run out of ideas. Or maybe that is more like everyday and on a few sparkling occasions we surprise ourselves by mustering up a good idea? Either way, these decks, sorted in age groups from 0 to 9 years, provide a fun solution - just pull out a card, read it and engage in something easy, interesting, new, and educational. Or let you kid pick a card before bedtime and have something to look forward to for the next day!
A long time ago someone coined the phrase "children should be seen and not heard." Well, whoever said that would have an aneurysm around my children! Particularly vociferous, my children are every bit as loud as is possible for a 2 and 4 year old. My husband and I make every effort to teach our children about politeness and appropriate volume levels...nevertheless, it becomes apparent around our single or childless friends just how loud they are and how accustomed to the heightened noise level of our lives we have become. It is rare to have a quiet dinner at our house, as the girls bombard us with questions and rambling stories, and "quiet" times in our household are often characterized by the voice of my 4 year old happily talking to herself. And playtime with the both of them? well, it's about a circus' worth of cacophony! Still, I miss the sounds of their voices when they go to bed and I cherish the sound of their voices as the first thing I hear in the morning. I know that someday they'll be busy talking to somebody else on their phones or far away in their dorm rooms or in their own homes...and so for now, I wouldn't have it any other way. To others it may be just a bunch of childish noise, to me it's the music of my life!
Okay, I admit that playgrounds make me terribly nervous - and I still let my kids play on them. They do wear helmets when they ride their bikes, and they DEFINITELY have had a fair share of purpley bruises to crown their shiny foreheads...but still, am I crazy for thinking this is a bit ridiculous?
A phrase that could make Hope smile and laugh every time when she was just a tot was "Okey-Dokey Artichokey," which she would then try to repeat and it would come out so comically that I would laugh every time too! Even so, I never considered whether she might actually like the vegetable. Honestly, it never even occured to me to offer it to her until she saw the artichokes in the produce section and asked me what they were.
She decided at that very moment that we must buy one. We picked one out and I steamed it with dinner tonight. I showed her how to pull off a leaf, dip it, and scrape it across her bottom teeth to remove the fleshy part. Turns out, she really liked it. She ate several leaves before eating any of her other food. I'm pretty sure she wouldn't like marinated artichoke hearts - even on her pizza - but I've kept the heart from the one we ate and perhaps I'll try to introduce her to artichoke and spinach dip. Getting the green vegetables in is a good thing....
It's pretty common among small children to act in ways that parents refer to as "OCD." My guess is that it is because routine and expectation play a big role in helping little ones define the world around them and bring feelings of comfort and security. But it's often funny and in some cases really annoying to parents. Here are a two OCD things that our little Maddie does:
I wish I had space to share the long list of funny things like this we've experienced with both of our girls. But I'd love to hear about your own kids and any OCD-style experiences
I am now exhausted. Hope and I battled over this one for a total of 1 hr. 30 min. Whew! Was it worth it? Absolutely. But it wasn't easy. It is so hard to see your little child crying and to hear sobbing heart-wrenching excuses. Not to mention, I was taking care of my younger daughter at the same time. It was a struggle not to just give in, bribe her, or lose my cool. Hope really pulled out all the stops this time - unbelievable the stamina and acting abilities of a 3 year old!
It would have been so easy to just clean up the mess myself. I did everything in my power to respond to her lovingly and kindly while remaining firm. I stayed in the room with her, until she started screaming at me and ramping up the hysteria - then I told her I wouldn't stay to listen to that. I kneeled down with her and tried coaching her, helping her to see her chore as a bit of a fun game (no, it didn't work). I gave her endless hugs, told her I loved her, never raised my voice or my hand to her.
You know what happened? She finally just gave it up. She called to me "Mommy, I don't want to be in here anymore." I went to her and said, "Okay, sweetie, then lets get these peas picked up." I sat down beside her and watched as she happily and easily completed a chore that I knew was not to difficult for her. Then, I picked her up into my arms, gave her a big squeezie hug, turned her around to see the clean floor.
I said, " See, I knew you could do it, Hope. The floor looks wonderful, you did a great job, and I knew you could do it. You should be very proud of yourself. Thank you for cleaning up your peas." And she smiled and said, "Yeah, the floor does look good. Your welcome mommy."
The whole thing was over and seemingly forgotten and we went off happily to play again.
The best thing is, that regardless of how exactly it all unfolded - I am assured that Hope knows that I love her, that she is important enough to me to take whatever time and effort is needed, and that she can pull out all the stops, but mom sticks to what she says. I don't think she will throw any food on the floor for a while, and I'll probably get at least a month before she really tries to test me again.
These kinds of battles of the will really don't happen between us very often at all, and I have a good feeling that that is due, at least in part, to the fact that when they do come around, I stand my ground. I am able to do so because I know that having healthy rules, limits, and boundaries and parents who follow through on them sets up an environment which feels safe and secure to children and prepares them to be responsible and respectful adults.
So, if you've been following this battle of wills between my daughter and me, you are probably thinking I'm a bit crazy for letting things go as far as they have already. Maybe some of you have better strategies - I'd love to know what they are - but for better or worse, here is what I was thinking and how it all worked out.
Thirty, forty, fifty - even sixty minutes in to this whole thing, there is one goal in my mind - one priority: Teach Hope that I mean what I say, that I love her and because of that I am willing to do whatever it takes, however long it takes, to teach her important lessons. The important lesson here is not about the peas, but about Hope trusting with certainty that mom always follows through on what she says. And that she knows I discipline because I care who she is and what kind of person she turns out to be. The peas may not be that big a deal, but I think it is important to establish discipline early with the small things - before the bigger issues come into play.
Here are some of my rules for battling her strong will this time:
Was this a happy ending? And what did we learn through all of this? Part 4 of this saga reveals all.
So I asked Hope to pick up the peas (by herself) that are now covering our kitchen floor. My goals are to teach Hope that it is not worth making a mess with her food because she will be responsible for cleaning it up, to teach Hope that it is important to be obedient to what I ask of her, and to teach her that mom means what she says and sticks to it.
Hope's goals are to get out of cleaning up the peas, find out just exactly where mom's limits lie and how serious mom is about sticking to what she says. Here is the shortened, less exhausting, but fairly telling version of Hope's first strategy and my response. Let's just call it "the tantrum":
Hope: (hysterical crying voice) I don't want to
Mom: (calmly in a normal volume) I know you don't want to, but you need to
Hope: I can't
Mom: You are a smart and able little girl, you can and you will
Hope: I'm not going to
Mom: You will not be allowed to do anything else until you do
Hope: I'm thirsty
Mom: You can have something after you clean up the peas
Hope: I'm very, very, veeeeerrrrrry thirsty!
Mom: You can have something after you clean up the peas
Hope: I'm hungry
Mom: You can have something after you clean up the peas
Hope: (screaming) I told you I'm hungry!!!
Mom: (silence) Hope: (calmly in a pleasant tone) I know what that says - at. (pointing to the
word "at" in magnetic letters on the fridge
Mom: you need to get to work cleaning up those peas
Hope: (crying hysterically again) I need a hug
Mom: gives a hug and says, go get working
Hope: I need to sit here and calm down
Mom: okay, then get to work
Hope: (screaming as loud as she can) I told you I am calming down!
Mom: turns away to stifle laughter
Hope: I need help
Mom: you can do it
Hope: I'm too tired
Hope: I'm not happy
Hope: I have a tummy ache
Mom: Let's get working and then I can help you
Hope: My leg hurts
Hope: I want to go to bed, I want to take a nap
Mom: Are you working?
Hope: (still hysterical) I don't want to have a birthday, I really don't ( as if I would ever threaten to take away any birthday celebration)
Yes, unbelieveably this is indeed the very short version.Yes, she was hysterical almost the entire time. Yes, she tried other tactics: stalling, trying to leave the room, fake sleeping on the floor, asking for multiple hugs and kisses, she did take a bathroom break. And so it continued for the first thirty minutes. Would you have stuck it out? Given in already? Tried another strategy?
Stay tuned for part 3 of "Battle of the wills."
When it comes to raising and disciplining my children, I am a very firm believer in being consistent in what I say and always following through - even when it is very difficult. All of my parenting skills were firmly tested this morning by my nearly 3-year old daughter.
Here is the scenario:
I served peas with lunch. Though I thought that the baby would be the more likely one to throw them overboard, it was Hope who made a fun game of pelting the floor one by one with her little green b.b.'s.while I wasn't looking. So, now I am confronted with a huge mess and an opportunity to teach a lesson to my daughter. I tell her she needs to pick them up. But here's the clincher: she has to do it all by herself, confronting her usual game of making a mess and then manipulating mommy into cleaning up about 80% of it. But not today, especially because it is a valueable lesson to learn not to throw your food all over the place. Of course she was opposed to this, and a battle of wills began.
Here are the highlights:
But wait, it gets more interesting. Stay tuned for parts 2, 3 and 4 of the "Battle of the wills" saga to see how this whole thing dramatically unfolds.
After visiting the orchard in celebration of my birthday and my extreme love for the autumn season, my kitchen island is fully decorated by a large and beautiful collection of apples waiting to be made into pie and cake and warm homemade cinnamon applesauce. Hope, who used to be the kind of kid who would eat apples of only a certain color, cut only a certain way and peeled, has -for reasons not apparent to me - once again in the way of a toddler suddenly broadened her horizons.
She has become quite taken with our beautiful apples and asks for one nearly every time she sees them. She now wants to hold the entire apple in her little hands and eat it the good old-fashioned way - one crunchy juicy bite at a time. It was strange, the pride I felt at watching my little girl master the art of eating a whole apple. There is something earthy and simple and beautiful about a child enjoying some of nature's goodness.
So, Hope has her very own pipecleaner (yes, that's right)... it is a long story which involves her coercing me to pet her "pet worm." Anyway, earlier this week, my little sister, who is visiting us, shaped Hope's prized pipe cleaner into a heart and left it on her bookshelf for her to find. Hope was thrilled with this discovery and began carrying her heart with her everywhere and saying how much she loved it. But, if you are familiar with pipecleaners you know how easily they bend in and out of shape.
On several occasions I found myself remolding it back into a heart shape at the request of my toddler. I couldn't help but think to myself in those moments about how I must be shaping her real heart as I go about raising this daughter of mine. What a massive responsibility!
Definitely worth some contemplation on a regular basis and some intentionality. A good friend and mentor of mine once wrote that “all the individual minutes (of childhood) will become the deep well from which my children drink.” More than once, as Hope brought her misshapen pipecleaner to me for repair, she said to me "mommy, fix my heart