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Ten Years Ago, I Made a Ten Year Plan

Ten years ago, I was feeling a little bit lost. I think a lot of people go through a rough patch like this at some point. I had a degree, but couldn’t find a good job. Wasn’t happy where I was living. Thought I wanted kids and a family, but maybe didn’t know when or where to start as most of the other areas of my life didn’t seemed to be lining up.

So… I sat down and made two plans. The first was a short term plan for getting things I needed to get done in the next 6 months or so. The second plan was a long term, ten year plan.

I divided my long term plan into different pages. One page for career. One page for family planning. One plan for community volunteer goals. One plan for the type of education I needed to get the job I wanted. Where I wanted to live, etc.

It took me less than a half an hour. When I finished, I folded it up and put it in a special place and felt a lot better. If anything, I had a plan.

And guess what?

Almost everything on that plan came true!

There were some variations and lots of things that came to me that were way beyond what I could have ever imagined. But, for the most part, the plan happened.

There’s a big a power in having a goal. A plan gives you direction and focus. A plan allows you to relax because you already know that you’re working in one direction and even if it doesn’t work, you’re at least giving your 100%. The trick is not getting too obsessed or stuck on the plan. While I had a plan, I also left lots of room for spontaneity. Because really, you never know what life is going to dish out.

For example, something I remember putting in my plan was that I wanted to have three kids, when I was 28, 30 and 32. Bwahahaha!

Well, the first part was sort of true, I had my first at 27 and the second at 29. Then, I realised that having kids two years apart was totally mental for us, so I decided to wait four years for the third and he came along when I was 34.

And, for places to live, I wrote that I really wanted to move somewhere with nice weather and good waves. So, I put my options as either Hawaii, Australia or California. Soon after, we moved to Australia, and we’ve been here since!

A few months ago, I started feeling that old familiar feeling…. Like, “Ok… What’s next?” And, I remembered, that my ten year plan had ‘expired‘. I guess it’s time to sit down and make another ten year plan. Let’s see what happens!

When Babies and Toddlers Go on Strike! An Aware Parent Perspective

My ten month old son was getting a new tooth, and while it wasn’t causing him pain, his latch must have felt different. One day, he sort of chomped/grazed me while he was feeding. I jumped and let out a ‘YELP!‘ On the surface, he showed no obvious response to my reaction. But, when we started having extreme difficulties feeding for the next few days, I knew that he had been upset by my reaction to his bite.

It’s very common for babies and toddlers to ‘strike‘. Most common are breastfeeding ‘strikes‘, or if you’re doing elimination communication, it could be a potty ‘strike‘. (If you haven’t heard of elimination communication, it’s taking your baby to the potty, I wrote a blog post about it here.) Other ‘strikes‘ could be sitting still for a nappy change, getting in the carseat, getting dressed, brushing teeth, etc. I lumped all the ‘strikes‘ together, because while the reason for the ‘strike‘ may be different, the remedies for the ‘strikes‘ are generally the same!

Sometimes the ‘strike‘ seems to resolve itself, while other times, the ‘strike‘ seems to go on forever.

I put the term ‘strike‘ in quotation marks, because it’s not really that the baby doesn’t want to continue with the activity. Rather, babies at this age go on ‘strike‘ because of some sort of unmet need or pent up emotions. This post will talk about WHY a baby goes on ‘strike‘ and what actions you can take to resolve the issue, all while staying emotionally available and connected to your baby. Read the rest of this entry

I Finally Learned The BEST Way to Moisturise My Skin (Cheap and No Gimmicks): Ayurveda

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Ever since I can remember, winter used to mean horrible dry skin for me. Even after I moved from the east coast of America to the warmer climate of the Gold Coast of Australia, my skin was still awful in winter. So dry that my hands and feet would crack and sometimes bleed! I tried using every type of moisturiser and every method out there (or so I thought). Until, at the start of last winter, my ayurvedic doctor told me to start doing daily warm oil massage in the morning, followed by a shower. Hmmm… That was weird, I thought. Put the oil on BEFORE the shower? I was willing to give it a try. Read the rest of this entry

Parenting With Less Wasted Words

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When my first was little, I used to talk to her all day. Almost a steady stream of explanations, questions and observations. I felt like it was up to me to deliver an experience of the world around her, through my eyes. When I watch old videos of us together, I wish I could have lovingly told the ‘me‘ of seven years ago to just be quiet and let her enjoy the new things she was discovering.

I used to say, “Oh, look at the moon! Look at the doggie! Wave bye bye!” ect. Interestingly, she went through a period where she was scared of the moon and of dogs! It was almost as if me pointing these things out to her and drawing artificial attention to them made her anxious! I also started to realise that it gets tiring always explaining, asking and talking!

This post is about my journey in the way I speak (or choose not to speak) to my kids and other children. I don’t want anyone reading this to think that I’m obsessed over every little thing I say to my kids or that I count my words or something crazy like that! It’s been more about the general awareness level and breaking free of the ‘record player‘ (the way we’re programmed to speak to children from our own past experiences). I feel I have a much deeper connection with my kids when I stop ‘talking at‘ them and really consider if what I have to say is actually helping the situation, or if I’m imposing my ignorance or my past, on their new experiences. The journey of awareness of speech is gradual and on-going.

Now, she’s 7 years old, and the other day, she was braiding a belt for her pants that kept falling down. She was putting in a considerable effort into the task that she had initiated herself. But, I could see straight away that the yarn she had cut was too short. For a second, I wanted to ‘save‘ her from making a mistake. I could have told her to stop and consider if the string was long enough. But, I didn’t. I watched. She finished. She realised it was too short. She simply said, “Wow, this is WAY too short!” and bounced away from her project and didn’t try to make another one.

In the short term, my intervention would have meant she would have been successful this time, but what about the next time and the time after that? I guess I could have encouraged her to make another one, right? Wasn’t she disappointed that she hadn’t succeeded? No… Her final product was only a failure in MY eyes. She didn’t have to know about the dialogue in my head! Who am I to say what learning experience she had gained? She had completed her activity and wasn’t attached by the outcome, only I was attached the outcome.

I found that most of the time when I ‘talked at‘ my children (explaining, asking questions, being unaware of their learning journey), I was interrupting a really important learning processes.

My four year old recently learned how to scoot really well on her scooter. By accident, I told her twice how awesome it was that she was scooting so well! (Cheer leader style). She rolled her eyes and said, “Why do you keep saying that?!” Oops… sorry. They’ll catch you in that moment of unawareness and let you know how irritating you are!

Kids complain. We try to reason with them. Instead of hearing them out.

Kids cry. We talk and distract, rather than listen to their hurts and frustrations.

Kids are sad. We try to talk them out of being sad, instead of allowing their hearts to be heavy (with kids, the heaviness usually only lasts for a few moments)

Kids discover something new! We try to explain their discovery even deeper and accidentally make it seem like they might not be able to learn all the answers on their own.

Kids get scared of something. Again, we try to distract or won’t validate their fears, telling them to stop being silly, or to be a big girl, instead of holding them in their space and allowing the fear to express itself.

The same goes for getting kids to cooperate. Let’s says it’s time to leave the park, I say we need to get going a hundred times, but they know that the first 99 times I say it, that we’re really not ready to go. So, I’ve literally wasted my breath. Same goes for put on your shoes, brush your teeth, etc. Unless the sound honestly does not reach their ear drums… they heard you the first time! Whether or not they cooperate is another story.

Over the years, I’ve gotten so so much better at responding, rather than reacting, but it’s hard to break out of ‘react‘ mode! Even people who have practiced some sort of self help/self discipline for years, suddenly find themselves spewing out words of unawareness from their past experiences when they become parents. Children bring out the best and worst of us!

Kids usually don’t need lengthy explanations on life. They get it. But, sometimes they DO need extra explanation. For example this morning, miss. 7 was bouncing on the bed doing flips and splits. Instead of telling her to ‘stop it‘ a million times, I told her “I need you do do your flips and splits in the other room because Marty is getting distracted by all your noise!” So, she went off in the the other room.

While writing this, my 4 year old came to me complaining about her sister. I listened. I told her in a few words that I understand how she is feeling. She left, happy that she was heard. I didn’t have to explain for ten minutes about another course of action she could take that would make everybody happy. I mean, if she had asked me for some advice, I would have given it to her. But, really, she just wanted a shoulder to cry on.

Young children live in the present moment, so there’s really no need for too much explanation, planning ahead, pondering, etc. If they’re ready to absorb it, they will. If they’re not ready, the event or phenomena will simply pass them by.

Although I do talk now with more awareness, I’m not so serious and rigid that I won’t sing a silly non-sensical song to the baby and do silly fart jokes with the 5 year old. I still talk and explain things and point things out. It would be really unnatural and stiff not to! The key is to be natural with my kids and leave those past experiences aside to make room for something new!

If after reading this post, you feel like you want to speak with less wasted words to your children, but you’re not sure of how to get them to cooperate, there’s a fantastic book that I highly recommend, called ‘Attachment Play’ by Aletha Solter. 

And Mama, How is YOUR Sleep Going?

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Most articles are about getting the CHILD to sleep. Getting kids to have a peaceful night’s sleep is important (and I’ll talk a little about that), but I haven’t found much emphasis on if the PARENT has good sleeping habits. I’ve had enough disturbed sleep over the past 7 years of parent hood and what I found is that I was the one who actually had to discipline MYSELF to make sure I was getting enough sleep. I had to break a lot of bad habits and drop unrealistic expectations because I just wasn’t getting the sleep I needed. I also learned to look for signals of unmet needs in my children when they weren’t sleeping well. When we sleep better, our parenting is better. Our decision making is better. Even if our babies and children do wake up a little here and there, when the mother (or father) gets a good night sleep, the whole show runs a lot smoother.

If your child is disrupting your sleep…

Staying Connected to Your Children At Night
Babies and young children want to feel safe at night. Their need for comfort and closeness does not end when the lights go out. Some possible reasons for children having trouble falling and staying to sleep is simply the fear of being alone. If your child wants to share your bed, or your room, it’s ok to let them. It’s not weird or unusual for kids to want to be near you. My 7 year old still likes for me to lay down with her while she falls to sleep and usually we all go to bed at the same time. We have a family bed, with me, my husband, a 7, a 5 year old and a 10 month old baby, all in the same big bed. Family beds and family bedrooms are the way many families around the world spend the night.

With a baby especially, bed and/or room sharing is ideal because you don’t have to wake up and walk to your baby to pick him up. So, you both get less disturbed at night. They’re right next to you. Of course, if you bed share, be sure to make sure that it feels right for you and that you’re doing it safely. I know that I sleep way better when my babies and children are right next to me. I would actually have anxiety if my babies weren’t near me! If the opposite is true for you, and having your child near you at night makes you anxious, perhaps, if your partner is a light enough sleeper, they can sleep near your child. There are lots of room sharing/bed sharing options.

Baby Wakes Up All Night/Restless Sleep

A little night waking is completely normal, but if your baby is waking up all night long and is having restless sleeps, it’s often the sign of an accumulation of stress and overstimulation. Babies and children have an inborn mechanism to relieve that stress and they do it through raging and crying. If your baby or child is allowed and able to cry and rage freely and is supported to do so in the presence of a loving carer, they will often sleep much much better.

A baby that uses a control pattern to fall back to sleep, the breast, a dummy/pacifer/thumb sucking, often represses these emotions and wakes up more frequently. If your baby is not in the room, you may not even know that he or she is waking. But, if you’re the cosleeping, breastfeeding type, you will definitely know! I wrote a blog post here on breastfeeding cosleeping babies that wake all night and there is also a book called ‘The Aware Baby” by Aletha Solter, and she addresses control patterns and how they affect your child’s sleep. Also, young babies almost never eliminate in a deep sleep. Young babies stir to pee and are bothered by a wet nappies (even a wet disposable can annoy them). If you notice that they’re wet, you can do a nappy change in the dark, or I even take my babies to the toilet at night, which sounds a little crazy, but it’s actually easier than you think. Here’s a blog post on how to do elimination communication.

And for the parents…

Be in Bed NO LATER than 10pm
Going to bed early is the biggest thing of all. I actually aim between 8:30 and 9. They say that the hours of sleep you get before midnight are worth twice as much as the hours after midnight. By 10, that means actually be in bed by 10, not start heading to bed at 10! If you follow ayurveda, the science of life, they say it’s ideal to fall asleep before 10pm. The hours between 10pm-2am are when the body is making repairs. If you’re not asleep during that time, your body is not recovering well enough.

Also, what happens after 10pm, if you’re awake, is that you start to wake back up! Then, 10 turns into 11 and 11 turns into 12 and before you know it, you’re going to bed at midnight. Compound that if your baby or child wakes up a lot or they wake up early, then you’re screwed. I wrote a more in depth article on when it’s important to fall asleep before 10, you can read here. I don’t always go to bed by 10, but on the days I don’t, the next day, there’s hell to pay and I’m a miserable grump!

If you feel like you’re missing out on quiet time with your partner by doing this, maybe only stay up late once a week? Sometimes my husband and I wake up early, before the kids, and have some quiet time or do something, like meditate together or take turns going surfing. If we stay up late to get peace and quiet, we just end up sleeping until the kids wake up and then I feel like I spend the whole day chasing my tail.

Be Careful Who You Complain To!
If you complain about lack of sleep to the wrong people, they’ll probably start telling you things that are not necessary and even counter productive in the long run. They might tell you to stop doing the intuitive things that you’re doing. You might end up trying cry it out, or giving solids before the baby is ready, or forming some short term solution for sleep, that contributes to a long term problem of broken connection and later behaviour problems.

Avoid  Screens Before Bed
This seems like an obvious one, but really hard to follow! Just a reminder… as what you’re viewing on the screen has the potential make the mind very active and make it harder to settle. You might have weird dreams as the consciousness tries to process what you’ve just looked at before you fell to sleep. Avoid leaving your phone in your room at night, so that you’ll be able to resist looking at it, should you wake up.

Busy Mind, Can’t Sleep?
If you know a meditation technique, before bed can be a good time to do it! You can’t calm the mind with the mind, you need something else. A really awesome technique is called alternate nostril breathing. Here’s the link on how to do it. You can just sit up in bed any time and do it for a few minutes if you’re having trouble going to sleep.

Another Trick For ‘Can’t fall back to sleep’.
I learned this last year on a meditation course and it really works. So, if your mind is really busy, it means you have too much prana (energy) in the head. So, if you put your awareness on your feet and on the EXHALATION of your breath, then you help to move all the energy back down. You’ll notice that your mind wanders a lot, but just keep brining back to your breath and your feet and you’ll hopefully be asleep in no time.

Avoid Naps
Unless you’re really depleted or you’re in the days of post partum, avoid taking day sleeps. Having a day sleep will make you want to go to bed later and then might make it harder for you to fall back to sleep if you wake up at night. Also, taking a day sleep, according to ayurveda, can make things in your body, like your digestion, run a big more sluggish than usual. So, better to avoid it unless you’re really zonked. It is important to rest while your kids sleep. So their rest time can be a good time for you to do something rejuvenating, like have a cup of tea, do some yoga and meditation or even stare a a wall if it’s been one of *those* days. Hopping on the phone to check social media is fine, but I noticed I often feel that my ‘rest quota‘ is unfulfilled when I do that too much during the kid’s sleep time.

Anyway, these are things that I’ve found have worked for making sure the parent has enough rest! It’s so important for us and for our families to be well rested. So, nighty night, sleep tight!

 

 

iPad Friendly Preschool Exercise Bikes and The Demise of Early Childhood “Learning”

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Why these things exist in the first place is a whole system fail. I do love Aldi, but when I flipped through their catalog and I saw this Fisher Price think and learn exercise bike for PRESCHOOLERS, I dropped a big ‘WTF‘, right in front of my whole family. My husband laughed and was like, “Oh… mummy needs her mouth washed out with soap.

The gimmicks out there are incredible and marketers work really hard on making innocent parents feel like guilty sacks of crap for, heaven forbid, letting their kids play without learning ‘something‘.

As if riding a bike weren’t hard enough for a preschooler, now we can learn our phonics while we ride! Actually, it’s pedalling a stationary bike that develops none of the decision skills, gross motor skills and vestibular system that riding a real bike would do.

Let’s making learning ‘fun‘ (insert vomit). This type of learning, where the learning has little to do with the game, is called ‘gamification‘ and gamification is a buzz word right now amongst big corporations who want your money. I wish there was a bullshit police who could stop companies from creating products that are designed to prey on well meaning parent consumers (we’re the biggest suckers of all)… but there isn’t. So, you need to monitor your own bull honkey. The educational tools that get kids to exercise while they learn are the biggest sack of baloney on the market.

Kids that age have energy. Yes, it’s true. They have an endless source of energy for bouncing off walls, floors, couches or anything else that they feel like bouncing on or off of. Kids that age NEED to move their bodies. They NEED unstructured playtime to learn how to figure out tricky things with their bodies. They need to do things like learn to use their hands to break their falls, or to learn how to balance walking on a log, curb or any other thing that requires balancing on. Even in places where the weather is horrible 85% of the time (I grew up in one such place), or if they live in a concrete jungle, kids that age still need to play outside (or indoors) as much as they can. For the long term health and mental well being of society, kids need to be active so that they’re healthier. It’s simple.

Of course, kids need to learn ‘stuff’ too. “Learn” as we like to think of ‘learning‘, as in ABC’s. And they will. At that age, you would have to try and physically stop a child from learning whatever they are developmentally capable of learning.

The complicated and stupid thing is to mix exercise with curriculum. When kids play and get exercise, they’re learning, but they’re not learning the things that the curriculum says they need to learn. A child who has had adequate exercise and meaningful connection time, will most likely be able to learn what the curriculum says he or she needs to learn.

Also, it’s been proven that multi tasking doesn’t improve performance. So, if you’re riding a stationary bike, or bouncing on a ball, or doing something else WHILE you’re trying to learn, you’re not really focusing 100% on either thing that you’re doing!

Now, I know some people will say that this toy could be very useful in the inner city, where it’s not safe for kids to go outside and play. Or, where the weather is rotten. Or, in low socio-economic areas, where kids don’t get enough time talking or reading with their parents. Or, in some other isolated scenarios. But, the price tag of this educational item doesn’t exactly fit the demographic, now does it??

Also, adults have these things in gyms, so why can’t kids? Kids will be playing on their iPads anyways, so why not?? Well… let’s not be the enabler, ok?

And, what about the kids who fidget too much while they’re sitting down? Another system fail because kids (especially kids this age) need more exercise and they’re not getting it.

I haven’t actually used this gadget. It could be cool…. Like really, it could be. Yes, it could be true. I may be more full of it than Fisher Price. I may actually have no idea what I’m talking about. But, I’m still not backing down on anything I’ve said until the research comes out proving that getting kids to ride, wobble, fidget, balance or spin, improves how they learn curriculum content. The whole idea of getting kids ready for kindergarten, and why it’s not neccesary, is a whole blog post in itself, but I’ll save that for another time.

Anywho… my rant is over. Let the kids ride bikes. Let the kids learn phonics. But, not at the same time.

You Can’t Suck At Being A Parent Every Day

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I have days when I’ve absolutely nailed it. Clean house. Calm and collected kids. Food on the table BEFORE people get hangry. Time for a craft or two and maybe even a packed lunch for a picnic.

It happens. Not every day. Like, maybe once a week. But, on those days, I FEEL it! I own those days!

See Kate, some days you’re winning.” I say to myself.

Our mind clings to the negative. If we have a handful of bad days (or months) of parenting, then we feel like we ALWAYS have bad days of parenting. If we feel like our kids are bonkers sometimes, then somehow we feel like our kids are ALWAYS out of control. If our kids don’t sleep well for a stretch of time, we feel like they ALWAYS sleep like crap. If we feel depressed, alone, forgotten, unappreciated some days, then our mind starts believing that we’re ALWAYS in that state of misery.

Our mind is a funny thing.

We never doubt the negative, but we always doubt the positive. If someone tells me (or I think it) that I’m a shitty parent, man, I BELIEVE it! But, if someone says “Hey, you’re doing a great job.” I say, “Really?? You think so? No… you don’t know me… I suck.

Stop it.

It’s easy to catch yourself on a bad day and say that you suck. It’s much harder to catch yourself on one of those good days and remind yourself that there ARE days when you’re winning!

When I’m having a good day, I catch it. I remind myself. “See… I don’t suck EVERY day!

 

 

Elimination Communication: A Day in the Life of a 9 Month Old Using the Potty

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For those of you interested in following my journey in elimination communication, here’s my 9 month update. In case you’re new here, elimination communication (EC), also known as infant hygiene, is the practice of taking your baby to toilet. I wrote a more descriptive blog post on how to do it here. EC is not toilet training, although practicing EC often means that a child is toilet ‘trained’ at an earlier age. I’ve done elimination communication with all three of my kids since birth. I use light weigh cloth nappies most of the time as a back up, and sometimes disposables when we go out, especially in the colder months. I find using nappies to be less stressful and more practical in our modern world. Although, it is possible for a baby to be completely nappy free. I pick clothes that are easy to take on and off of a baby. No snaps on the crotch. At nine months, our little guy is showing similar EC progress/milestones/developmental skills (for lack of a better description) as his two older sisters when they were his age.

LOTS OF MISSES!

Misses seem to be a common theme when babies reach this age. He’s eating more, and getting bigger and he’s busy! I remember with my older daughters, at the same age, I was going through what seemed like a million cloth nappies a day, and with him, it’s the same. Throughout the day, I catch just as many as I miss. Although, thankfully always catch the poos (that’s the most important, right?). The pees are much bigger at his age. And if I don’t catch it, he doesn’t release all of it at once, and then I end up missing two or three mini squirts instead of catching one big one. It can be very annoying!

If I didn’t know any better, I would feel like I was getting nowhere. But, since I experienced this with my two older girls and they were toilet trained between 12-15 months, I’m not concerned at all. With children of this age, their skills and habits can literally change overnight. When mobility is new and playing with items around the house and exploring is all exciting, it’s hard to catch everything. And, catching everything is not what it’s all about, it’s all about building awareness. Some days I miss almost everything! On the days when I miss everything, that usually that means I’m doing too many things. If I have a day like that, the next day, we try to slow it down and I find that I’m able to focus more on him and start catching a lot more. Using nappies makes me lazy, and using disposables makes me SUPER lazy, so I use cloth as much as possible, or none if I’m feeling up for it. Also, using leggings or pants that are super easy to slip on and off make the process easier.

Crying and Protesting the Potty 

A baby of this age gets really engaged in playing and exploring. Babies at this age also get easily overwhelmed with their play, especially if they have been intensely focused for a while. If I stop him when he’s in the middle of doing something, he often cries. Many mothers would not take their babies to the eliminate if the baby seems to protest because they feel they are violating the baby’s desires, but I see the crying in a different light, due to my training in aware parenting. I still take him to the toilet when he cries. And, he often cries and sweats before a big poo! The crying is a release of emotions. Just like elimination is a release of toxins from the body, so is crying a release of emotions and toxins. When he’s content, he won’t cry and easily lets me take him to the potty. If he has some sort of emotions brewing, he cries and arches his back (usually arching the back indicates that the baby is finished eliminating), but in these situations, I still hold him in the position. After a little bit of crying and wiggling around, his body relaxes and he eliminates. I like taking him to a variety of places to eliminate. The potty, the big toilet, the bushes, tonight we accidentally did a poo on the beach, oops! Usually I know when he has to poo and we catch those at home. Oh well, the tide was coming in and it was almost dark out.

Starting to Signal that he needs to go

I could have kicked myself, because I didn’t pick up on his cues for a couple days. If he’s near one of the few potties I have scattered around the house, he crawls towards the potty and grabs it when he has to go. Silly me, I just thought he was trying to play with it, so I kept taking it away! Then, I realised that he was telling me that the had to pee Without fail, every time he grabs for the potty now, when I take him, he goes, or starts complaining because I already missed it, and then I get him dry right away (although he most certainly verbalises how pissed he is that I missed). How cool is that! Nine months old and already telling me. Who’s teaching who?

Nighttime EC 

He always stirs if he has to pee. In fact, I feel like 90%, if not all of his night time waking and also waking during a nap, is because he has to eliminate. I keep a potty near the bed and do it all in the dark. No idea how I don’t make a big mess… ok, very occasionally I do make a mess, but I use my other senses to get us back to bed. I put a bigger cloth nappy on him at night, but change him straight away if I missed. Sometimes EC at night is actually easier than EC during the day. I catch way more at night than I do during the day. While my girls often fell back to sleep easily after night time EC, sometimes he takes a little longer. I think it’s because he sucks his thumb. This could be a whole different blog post, but the thumb sucking has to do with repressing emotions, which means he needs to do some emotional releases (crying), but that’s for another long blog post.

Anyway, Happy ECing!

The Kitchen’s Closed: Loving Limits in the Kitchen

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I’ve just spent an hour in the kitchen. Preparing, cooking, cleaning up. Then, one of them asks me to make them something (or to make it themselves). I say, “No.

They whine and complain. I listen without trying to reason with them. But it’s still “No, the kitchen’s closed“.

Sometimes you just don’t have the energy to do another thing. Can’t wash another dish. Can’t wipe up another mess. *Most* of the time, I let the kids eat whatever they want to, but sometimes, it’s just ‘no‘.

And, I get it, sometimes that meal you made just doesn’t quite cut it. Sometimes they want something else.

But, I feel like I have to meet my needs as well.

The past few years, I’ve been doing the dance of finding my balance in the kitchen. Meeting my need of not wanting to spend all my time and energy in the kitchen, while honouring the kid’s needs for autonomy in choosing the food they eat. And, it’s all just become easier since getting a dishwasher, yay! But still…

Being too restrictive on a child’s diet can backfire. Kids who are only allowed to eat certain foods at certain times, often rebel by sneaking food. And being too permissive with a child’s diet means you can accidentally end up missing ques that indicate there is a deeper issue going on besides them just wanting a certain food to eat.

Making ‘Special‘ Meals

To save my own sanity, my biggest rule is that I generally don’t make my children seperate meals at mealtime. Occasionally I do, if it fits. Otherwise, they eat what we’re eating. Even the baby. Even the toddler. I might modify what we’re having but no… not I’m not making a cheese sandwich after I just prepared a stir fry. They can make it themselves, but they have to clean it up afterwards. And, if they’re too little to clean it up adequately, then the answer is ‘no‘. It’s not because I’m mean and controlling or only care about their nutrition, it’s mostly because my capacity for doing work has exceeded its limit.

While I often say ‘no‘ to extra requests for food, I do understand that kids have their preferences and maybe they don’t feel like eating what I’ve made! I do my best to accomodate. We often discuss what we all want for dinner before hand, but it’s just not possible to always make what everyone wants.

Can Children Truly Self Regulate Their Diets?

Children have a great capacity to self regulate their diets! When kids are not clouded by stress or pent up negative emotions, they regulate their diet quite well. Even when they tend to binge on junk food, after a while, if they’re given just as many healthy options, and their emotional needs have been met, they will get sick of the junk, and start eating the healthy stuff. It can be tricky to get to the bottom of it all, and sometimes those underlying emotions are quite elusive, but I’ve witnessed my children and others, being allowed to self regulate their diet and it’s true! My oldest daughter can be offered any amount of junk food. The worst of it! And, she does a great job controlling herself.

The catch is that in order for children (and adults) to be able to self regulate their diets, their emotional and physical needs have to be met first. In other words, they need to have been able to cry when they wanted to cry, rage when they needed to rage and laugh when they needed to laugh. As well as feel connected to the people and places around them. (Imagine how you feel when you are upset and you’re not *allowed* to express it, that’s often when we tend to over or under eat). Not to mention, kids need to have had a decent amount of exercise in order to make them feel hungry.

Some kids are better at self regulating their diets than others. My younger daughter is not quite as good at self regulating. She gets a little off balance more easily and tends to not release her pent up emotions as freely. If she binges uncontrollably, or starts whining for a certain food, I stop her. She cries. I support her cry, and afterwards, she tends to stop eating the junk and will eat her healthy food. It’s very interesting if we really pay attention.

Sometimes, the only thing stopping a child from eating healthy food is a big emotional release. One day, I was making some yummy kitchari (Indian style of rice, veggies and beans). My older daughter was crying and having a temper tantrum because she wanted to go out to eat and the rest of us didn’t want to. She whined and cried for at least 5 minutes. After she cried and settled down, she happily sat down and ate her entire bowl of kitchari without any complaints. The cry was not about the type of food being cooked for dinner, it was that she was overstimulated from a big day and needed to release her emotions.

My Needs Are Important Too!

No matter if my kids are self regulating their diet well or not, I need to feel like I’ve been loved and appreciated for my work in the kitchen. I can take some feedback, like, “Um, mama, this dinner was not so yummy, can I have something else?” If it’s no problem, I don’t mind making that extra something, or I don’t mind letting them make something themselves (as long as they agree to clean up the mess).  But, I have my limits for how much I can prepare and for how much effort I can exert. If it’s too much, I tell them the kitchen’s closed.

Grazing?

When kids graze, they’re often eating their food without much awareness. A little attention to food gives kids a sense of appreciation to what goes into their body. Food that we put into our body should be honoured. Food is life giving. It’s production takes time and costs not only money, but takes a toll on the planet. We put it into our body to keep our body functioning a certain way. In ayurveda (the ancient science of life), it’s said that you should eat your food with your knees bent (in other words sitting down). Eating with awareness helps with digestion and food choices. If a kid (or anyone) is running around while eating, there is not much awareness of what goes in the mouth.

When my kids graze all day (even on healthy food), then they won’t eat the meal I’ve cooked. I get annoyed. Like, why did I even bother cooking? Kid’s stomach’s are tiny! If they haven’t been grazing, when I put food on the table, they sit on that seat, no wandering around, and they eat, man, they EAT! It’s really lovely to have us all sitting there together enjoying a warm nourishing meal. They have quite a bit of free time the rest of the day, so having a few structured activities of eating together is a nice to way to all come together.

Bon appetite!

My Gray Hairs Freaking Sparkle

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My four year old told me that I have special hairs that sparkle.

A few weeks ago, I was standing on the beach with some of my mum friends and they were casually talking about boob jobs. What they’re going to get once they’re finished with kids, who’s had them already, etc. I was like, “Good, golly, here I am debating with myself if it’s morally wrong to dye the gray hairs that God gave me and they’re talking BOOB JOBS!” Apparently, gray hairs are so far from acceptable, it’s not even a topic anymore.

If a man my age (mid thirties) had some gray hairs, would anyone even bat an eyelash? No! Yet, when people see me, as a woman, with a handful of grays, I’m sure they’re wondering why I don’t ‘do something about it‘.

Since I came up with the idea of writing this post a few months ago, I’ve been watching the ladies out there to see if my perception is correct. Are gray hairs really that out of style?? Yes, sadly, it’s true. From what I’ve seen, hardly anyone has a natural head of hair anymore. And, I understand. Women have a hard enough time getting equality in the work place, with equality in general and with just about everything else. We can’t have a few gray hairs making it even harder for us!

I did see one mama rocking a gray mohawk (real gray, not dyed gray) and I wanted to hi-five her, she looked so rad. But, almost everyone dyes those grays away and also changes the colour of their hair relentlessly. I don’t get it… hair colour is the colour it is because it matches everything else about you (eyes, skin tone, etc)… right? But anyway… that’s another story.

I do enough for stupid society norms. I shave my legs and my armpits, wax this and wax that. I dress in an acceptable way. So, I’m just gonna sit here to let those gray hairs shine! I’m not going to spend hundreds of dollars (or any dollars) to cover them up. I’m not gonna pull them out one by one. It’s not even about the money or the time either. Our society has a problem with aging. We just cannot accept that beauty is anything other than what ‘looks‘ young. And, if society has a problem with woman going gray (and not men), well then, that’s a real problem. Not being able to accept aging by covering up the physical signs of it, is only the tip of the iceberg. The pshycological side of aging in our society is probably even more screwed up.

Have you ever seen an older man dye his hair to cover the gray?! I have, and to be honest, I find it looks a little silly. Yet, a woman, of almost any age is not, and I repeat, NOT allowed to show her age by the amount of gray hair she has.

I asked my husband if I should dye my hair to cover up the gray. He asked me cautiously, “Do you want to?” I said, “No“. He said, “Well, don’t be silly! You look great.

Ok, I don’t know, one day I might change my mind. I might want to have a full head of colourful hair again. Or, maybe one day I’ll decide I want to have purple hair. But, if I do dye my hair, I hope it’s not because I’m trying to hide the gray. I don’t have all that many gray hairs until you look close. But for now, I’m not touching it. I didn’t have a single gray hair until I had children. Yup, they’re the ones who did it. But, that’s life and I’ve got the gray hairs to prove it. I’m also not saying that I’m judging anyone for dying their hair, because, um, hello, then I’d be judging like 95% of my friends and family. But for me, I’ve been thinking a lot about it and this is where I stand on the gray.

Above is a photo of me giving my baby fairy floss. It’s rude not to share.