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Don’t say this.
Say _____ instead of ____.
Praise like this, not like this.
Memes, lectures, blog posts, books, videos.
It can get very confusing!!
At the height of self proclamation that I was an unschooler, I started questioning EVERYTHING I said to my kids. And, you know what happened? I started getting confused. I started getting permissive (mostly because I had no idea what to say that sounded more evolved than what I was used to saying.) I started getting resentful (because I wasn’t listening to my needs). I started getting STRESSED! So, I had to stop with all the crazy ‘word watching’
And, I admit, I’ve written a few articles about how we speak to our children! Because, it’s true that we should be mindful of what we say. For example, I was saying, “Be careful” like 800 times a day… So, I became more aware of how I used ‘be careful’, because I realised my kids were going to have to learn their limits under reasonable safe circumstances.
It’s important to speak with awareness, yes!
But when does it get to be too much?
When we feel guilty and confused about everything that comes out of our mouths… that’s when it’s too much.
Oops! Did I just use a mild threat to get my kid to brush her teeth? Well… yes, yes, I just did… But, do I always use threats? 99% of the time, no!
Oops! Did I just tell my daughter that I loved her painting because it’s beautiful?! Why yes, what a shallow empty crapload full of praise! Haha! But… it’s the first thing that came out and it felt true and it felt authentic and she was happy. And, then we hung the picture on the fridge and we moved on with our day.
It’s all about being natural with our children and realistic with ourselves.
It’s one thing to be mindful of what we say and to try and break that record playing of things that come flying out of our mouth without any awareness, but we also have to relax and be kind to ourselves.
A few months ago, there was a meme about what to say to children instead of ‘stop crying‘. While the post was really thoughtful and helpful, it also didn’t offer any suggestions for parents who struggle to listen to crying. And it didn’t explain that sometimes you just can’t have a crying child because it’s not the right time or place. I wondered how many parents were feeling guilty and stressed by that meme? That sometimes it’s really ok to get a child to stop crying, if there are other more urgent issues at hand. That sometimes crying in our children triggers something so deep and hurtful in us, that we can’t handle it and that we need a lot of inner work to be able to listen to crying.
All we can do is do our best. Children like when we act natural around them. They don’t want artificial words coming out of our mouths. Being authentic is something that our children love about their parents! At any given moment, there are the million variables in life! Sometimes it’s ok to say one thing, and other times, we have to say another thing. And, sometimes, I’ve found that saying no words at all is the most powerful thing I can do for my kids.
So, before you get too confused about the right way to communicate with our children, just relax. There is always imperfection in words! ALWAYS! Words have the ability to spoil everything, so don’t worry too much if you’re saying right or wrong! Just relax, be natural and have fun!
Photo: Art Baltrotsky
My husband woke up before me and showed me the screen of his phone. “What the hell.” He said. “What the fuck.” I said. We don’t swear much. But this news check required swearing.
Another shooting. More people praying.
Praying for the victim’s peace. Praying for the victom’s families. Praying that another act of ‘senseless violence’ (ahem, domestic terrorism/murder) won’t happen again.
How about we start praying for GUN LAW REFORM?!?! Now there’s a thought! It’s mighty kind of us to pray for victims and their families, but by the time we’re praying for the victims and the families is too late!!!
What if, instead of waiting for these things to happen, and then praying later, American politicians did something to STOP mass shootings from happening.
Don’t pull your bullshit, “People shoot people”. I moved away from America ten years ago and I live in a country with people too. Crazy people, sane people, rich people, poor people. The difference is that in the country I live in now, people don’t have access to guns like they used to. In 1996, there was a mass shooting in Australia and the politicians said enough is enough. They changed the gun laws. They made a gun buy back program to get guns out do the hands of civilians. And guess what? No more mass shootings.
There was no praying. (Ok, maybe there was). Quite simply, the laws were changed. There was no fluffing around. The Australian politicians decided that the right to live was greater than the right to own a gun.
And, people here can still own guns. And, we still have gun violence. It’s stupid. I wish the laws were even stricter. When you do hear of gun related violence, it’s usually associated with some sort of domestic violence.
But no lunatic pulling out a semi automatic weapon killing 50 people and injuring 500 more!
So, America, pray all you want, because I know you’re a prayin’ nation, but please pray for the right thing. Pray that your politicians will keep the guns out of the hands of people who should not have them. The second amendment does not apply to phsycopaths with semi automatic rifles! I’ll pray for you too. And for your husbands and wives and for your children, that your politicians will do the right thing.
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 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.”
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!”
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?
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!
I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. I have a house, car, clothes, beautiful family, all that. But, I’m telling you, none of that matters.Even if you have everything you need, if your mind is upset, you can’t enjoy any of it!
Some days, I walk down the beach and watch the sunset and I’m in awe of life’s beauty. And, some days, I walk on the SAME beach. I have the SAME house to go home to and have the SAME beautiful things in my life, but if my mind is a mess, I can’t see a thing.
Luckily, I’ve been meditating for that many years that I usually catch my mind wandering and I can quickly snap out of it. And, over the years, I have far far less of the disturbing days than I used to have.
When I do snap out of it, it reminds me. It doesn’t matter what you have. No amount of money. No amount of things. No amount of beautiful scenery. No amount of relationships or success at work. NONE of it will make you happy if your mind is disturbed! This crazy mind jumps from here to there and there to here and back again. It will drive you insane!
So, we need to take care of that silly old mind of ours.
The funny thing about the mind is that you can’t control the mind with the mind. You can’t just negotiate with an anxious mind to make it calm. You can’t just tell your mind to stop planding so that you can drift off to sleep. You can’t just tell your mind to stop broofing over the past.
This mind is tricky!
You can practice mindfulness and awareness, but it takes an enormous amount of time and effort to control the mind that way.
The fastest and easiest way to keep the mind in balance is through breathing and meditation. I’ve been meditating every day for 15 years, and trust me, it works. It really works to help keep you happy.
Because breathing and meditation bring your mind to the present moment…. and if your mind is in the present moment, then you don’t worry as much. And, if your mind isn’t worrying as much, then it’s less disturbed and that means you’re more happy.
If you’re more happy, the people around you are happy. And, if you’re happy, the sunsets always look better!
A good meditation app I use sometimes is called ‘Sattva’ there are lots of free meditations on there. Also, the Art of Living foundation’s ‘Happiness Program’ will teach you the most amazing breathing technique called Sudarshan Kriya. The organization runs programs all over the world.
The day we spend in recovery…. This is the day the house is its biggest wreck. Don’t ask me how or why, because we haven’t actually spent much time at home to mess it up. We’re always out, running around having fun. But, without fail, the day after my husband’s weekend, the dishes are piled high, there’s crap all over the floor, I’m up to my armpits in dirty laundry and the kids are absolutely knackered. We need an entire day off just to recover!
Luckily, I don’t have to go to work on those days, (or most days for that matter)! What do mothers do who have to go to work, ‘the day after’?! How do they survive??? When do they find time to clean up the nuclear fallout, because it takes me almost the entire day! (I wonder if it’s the same for stay at home dads the day after their wife has the day off?)
We homeschool and I work part time and casual. The days I’m home with the kids, we seem to enjoy a good rhythm. We usually do just enough to not get exhausted, we stay pretty emotionally connected and tidy up at least enough to clear a path.
But, when daddy’s home, it’s too exciting!!! All the rhythm and the rest and the order that the kids and I follow all week, gets thrown out the window! It’s a tricky thing to negotiate everyone’s needs on a normal the day. But on a daddy’s ‘off’ day, everything just goes ballistic. It’s just not fair! There isn’t enough time!
My husband works really hard, has really long hours and is always too exhausted to do much when he comes home from work. So, on his days off, it’s tempting to do as much fun stuff as possible. He’s not the type of person to lounge around (nor am I). We do like to have our fun,,, but there’s always hell to pay the next day.
So, here I am writing this, it’s the evening of the last day of my husband’s weekend. The kids have collapsed in bed, in an exhausted pile of unmet needs combined with too much excitement. If you need me tomorrow, I’ll be in my pajamas, wading knee deep through debris and wiping away tears…
But, we did have fun.
We were on the beach and it was very windy. There was nobody close by. My girls were throwing sand and pretending to be Elsa, blasting their magical powers and creating ice! The sand (ice) was flying through the air for a good distance. We live in Australia, what do you expect, they’re desperate to see snow!
I let them do it because there was no one standing down wind. But, a little nagging voice in my head said, “If you let them do it once, they’ll always want to do it!”
*Shut up little voice!*
I remember so clearly being told as a kid that: “If we let you do it once, you’ll think you always have a license to do it! So NO!” Whatever it was that I was asking for, I forget now, but I always remember that response.
Oh, how I used to get so outraged! The feeling that I wasn’t trusted to use my own judgement, made me furious and frustrated!
And, I understand why adults used to say it, I mean, nobody gives adults a child rearing manual with step-by-step instructions on how to handle every scenario. So, ‘no‘ is often a safe answer…
The truth is, behaviour that is undesirable in one setting, may be perfectly acceptable in another. I realised that my daughters had an amazing ability to use their better judgement, providing that their needs for connection and understanding had been met.
If I always try to control their every move, when the time comes that I really need them to listen, they might not, because they’re so sick of me always saying ‘no‘!
So, when I say ‘no‘, there’s generally a good reason why. If I can let them do whatever it is that they’re asking to do (throw sand for example), then I certainly do. If it’s not appropriate to throw sand, I tell them not to.
I also allow my kids to complain, cry and rage when I say ‘no‘, but the answer is still ‘no‘. Allowing them to express their feelings about the answer is an important part of the process of democratic parenting.
My kids can’t throw sand at people, but I let them throw sand sometimes.
They have to hold my hand across the street sometimes and other times I let them walk across by without holding hands, if it’s not busy.
Most of the time, they can wear whatever crazy outfit they picked out, but I just won’t let my four year old wear a sweaty poofy dress-up when we go out, only because then I can’t clip her into her car seat!
I let my kids binge on junk and sometimes I say no.
Sometimes, I let them buy whatever they want at the shops and sometimes I say ‘No‘.
If I can give them a good back scratch before bed, I do it, and if on other nights I can’t, then so be it.
Sometimes I let them run amuck… and sometimes I don’t.
What’s interesting is that allowing for variety seems to create more cooperative children!
My kids are never really confused by this apparent change of rules or inconsistency. If anything, they’re relieved that the answer isn’t always ‘no‘. In fact, they almost always ask my permission before doing something, even if they know there’s a chance I’ll say ‘no‘… because often there’s a chance that I’ll say ‘yes‘.
They won’t lie or hide things because they know that I’m mostly fair when it comes to their requests. They don’t feel so desperate when I do have to say “no“, so they’re less likely to act out.
Allowing for variety does make parenting a little more tricky in the short term. If the answer isn’t always ‘no‘, that means there’s room for negotiation, and negotiation takes effort. BUT, I imagine them as adults. Imagine they’re given a situation that’s unfair, do I want them to sulk away thinking they have no chance?? No way! I want them have the skills to use their voice and to understand when to speak up and possibly when to shut up.
Wouldn’t life be boring if we had to eat the same foods every day?? Well, that’s how I feel about rules at home. There needs to be some variety. There needs to be times when we can let our kids do things that they normally can’t do. That way, when the time comes when we need their coperation, they’re more likely to give it.