30 Days of Blogging, Day 24

It has been what, maybe a week since I started down the slow weaning road again? She’s already showing signs of self-weaning all the way. We cut out all nursing sessions during the day except for nursing to sleep for nap and bedtime, and we still allow nursing through the night. She has started to come off the boob at bedtime and roll over to be spooned the rest of the way to sleep. She has only been waking once or twice a night for milk. It’s amazing what cutting back on nursing does to her sleep….

The downside is that she only had a bit of milk from one side at bedtime today, and she didn’t have any at nap, so one side is full of hard lumps. We’re staying with family this weekend and I don’t have a pump to help me out, and I’m garbage at hand expressing. So I find myself actually hoping that she’ll wake up soon for a nighttime feed…

30 Days of Blogging, Day 23

For today’s post I’m just going to share a blurb from the parenting book I’m reading right now (The Soul of Discipline by Kim John Payne). This passage spoke to me as I find myself correcting behaviour with every turn these days. Instead of getting frustrated or losing patience, I want to keep this in mind:

One effective way to teach your child the importance of respectfulness is to sweat the small stuff. You can insist daily that they behave respectfully in all the little ways. No big lectures needed. Simply stand firm when the line of respectfulness gets crossed.

Every time you insist on respectfulness or true courtesy, you are exercising his or her waiting muscle. Every time you pause and ask your child to reframe some comment, put-down, or mannerism that is disrespectful, you strengthen his or her impulse control. Every time you insist on table manners or pull your child aside and say, “No. We don’t use the word ‘stupid’ in our house; we do not say that in our family,” you are teaching him or her the language of respect and encouraging impulse control, little by little.

30 Days of Blogging, Day 16

Today I’m going to talk about teaching consent to a toddler. A toddler who isn’t even 18 months old yet. How the hell are we supposed to do this?

I was always concerned about people forcing hugs and kisses on our baby. I wanted her to learn consent so she could trust her feelings and know when she didn’t want to be touched, and feel confident saying no to physical affection from anyone, even trusted family members. To our surprise, that has been the easy part. Our family and friends have been pretty good about following our lead in asking if they can hold, hug or kiss her. Our problem is that we need to teach Avery to get consent before giving physical affection.

She’s such a huggy, kissy, loving baby. She always has a big, run-at-us-full-tilt, hug for us, and an abundance of lovely kisses on the lips with the best “mwaaa” sound effects. We love it. But somehow we need her to understand that not everyone does.

Her best friend at daycare is petite, and although the two of them are the same age exactly, Avery is twice the size. Avery LOVES her friend. Unfortunately, our daycare provider has reported back to us on a couple of ocassions that Avery’s forceful kisses and hugs aren’t always wanted by her friend, and sometimes Avery’s bear hugs knock them both over and her friend ends up crying.

So what do we say or do to teach Avery to dial back the overt affection and wait for cues of consent to proceed? A young child of her age hasn’t yet developed empathy as we know it, and can’t articulate how someone else might feel when receiving unwanted physical affection. All she knows is simple instruction, like “no.” But we don’t want to just say “no touching,” as it feels too general and isn’t the message we want to send.

What we’ve come up with is to use a one-word instruction that has worked really well to teach her how to approach the cats: “Gentle.” When we instruct her to be gentle, she slows down her approach and seems to become more watchful for signs that she can approach. We’ve asked our daycare provider to use this word when she starts laying on the unwanted affection with her friend, and if that doesn’t work, to simply say “Please don’t touch her right now.”

Our approach is to give simple instructions that are easy to understand and follow. But this doesn’t really tap into what consent is, or why someone may not want her wonderful, loving hugs and kisses. But I think maybe she’s just too young for that level of context.

What are your thoughts on this parenting conundrum?

30 Days of Blogging, Day 15

I’m sitting at a coffee shop drinking a double shot mocha and I’m about to read a book. It’s my first self care act in months and months and months. I also just came from getting my legs waxed. I may be alone on this, but the feeling of having individual unwanted hairs ripped from their roots is really freeing and satisfying, and it gives me a bit of an adrenalin boost to boot. 

The reason I can do this today is that I submitted my final proposal draft to my advisor at 10pm last night and now it’s on its way to my committee – the committee of “deciders” who will fingers crossed approve my proposal so I can start this bloody experiment already and finish my PhD one day. 

In case anyone’s wondering, the book I’m now settling into is The Soul of Discipline, by Kim John Payne. He also wrote Simplicity Parenting, which I reviewed in a post a while back. I’ll let you know how this one turns out. 

30 Days of Blogging, Day 14

We quit cloth diapers. A long time ago, actually… I was just ashamed of why we stopped, so I didn’t want to talk about it. I’m now going to share our journey with cloth diapering, and the shallow reason why we stopped.

Before Avery was born, I bought ALL THE DIAPERS. I bought most used, and just a couple of each kind. I knew we would want to try them out to see what worked best for our baby. 

We spent the first two months using disposables. We started with disposables because we wanted the diapers with the PH strip so we could track how many pees she had in the first week or two of life. Disposables were easy, and it took a while to work up the courage to try cloth. But then we tried our Motherease Wizard Duos and we LOVED them. They were easy to use, never leaked, didn’t smell, easy to wash, and Avery seemed to like them. We didn’t use any of the other kinds I had accumulated during my “nesting.”

But our shallow nature reared it’s ugly head when we couldn’t fit the cute clothes over them. Loose sweat pants? Sure, no problem. Skinny jeans? No dice.

Avery grew fast – she was always in at least the 75th percentile for weight and the 90th for height. Our size small Mother-eaze Wizard Duos were outgrown by 5 months. We hummed and hawed about buying the next size up for MONTHS. In fact, when we interviewed daycares we asked if they would deal with cloth diapers, because even though we’d been using disposables again for several months, we still had good intentions to get her back into cloth.

Not only were we kind of hooked on being able to dress our kid in all the cool jeans and leggings in the correct sizes for her build, but the cloth diapers we liked were expensive, and you couldn’t find them used. We put it off for so long that eventually the cost savings you can usually get from using cloth over disposables just wasn’t going to happen anymore.

So we threw in the towel. I’ve been selling off all of the cloth diapers I had accumulated, and luckily I’m pretty much making my money back. But I feel shitty every time I take the diaper pail garbage out. I hate that we’re contributing to the landfill in such a huge way. But waiting to buy the next size of cloth diaper turned out to be a slippery slope from which we never turned back. 

30 Days of Blogging, Day 11

There are these moments, with a toddler, where they change overnight. They level up suddenly, and seem like a totally new model of their old self. They suddenly become fluent in a skill that you didn’t even see coming. They go from being a shaky walker at best, to suddenly running around the house like little athletes. Or they can’t communicate using more than signs and a few single syllable sounds, and then they wake up one day being able to say whole words and start adding to their vocabulary at a rate of multiple words a day.

Avery had a really cranky, fussy phase the last couple of weeks, and this weekend she levelled up and is a whole new toddler. A happier toddler. She is communicating on a whole new level of complexity. 

She also seems to have physically grown again. She can suddenly open the top drawer of her dresser to pull all of her diapers out. She can reach things that are placed a good 8″ from the edge on top of the dining room table. She puts her pots and pans on the kitchen counter. I should really get out a tape measure and see how tall this girl is. She has always been in the 90-something percentile for length, and she has so far been keeping up that growth curve.

I’m so excited by these big, sudden developmental leaps. Tonight, for example, she wanted to take her diaper cream into the bath with her. I told her we couldn’t and approached it to take it away. She clung to it, looked me in the eye with big, sad curious eyes, and asked “wha kn na da ba?” It seems like gibberish when spelled out, but as her parent it was clear that she was asking me why can’t it come in the bath?” I explained why, and she handed it to me.

It was an intense new level of communication. It made me gasp. I’m so excited to be embarking on a phase with improved communication. It is already making her so much happier. 

30 Days of Blogging, Day 9

It’s cold again. It’s supposed to go down to  -20°C again tonight, and it’s icy and snowy outside. It’s the kind of weather for family cuddles. The kind of weather where I miss bed sharing with my baby. 

And when your baby has another nasty cough and cold and has to choose whether to breathe through her mouth and trigger more coughing, or breathe through her nose and not get enough air to her lungs, it’s really, really hard to withhold nighttime nursing. Nursing is the throat soothing cure-all that helps her sleep through anything. 

So about that night weaning we started… the night weaning has gone out the window during my shift. While my wife is on call for nighttime wakings (from bedtime till 1am), Avery goes back to sleep with nothing more than my wife poking her head through the doorway and saying “go back to sleep.” During my shift, I’ve started nursing her again. It’s how she sleeps well through being sick. It’s the only way to get her back to sleep during her bouts of middle-of-the-night insomnia (even during my wife’s shift). 

So weaning is a discussion topic for another day (or month, or year….).

On a related note, Avery LOVES peppermint tea. It’s just a dried mint leaf from our garden steeped in hot water. And when she’s sick, a little dollop of honey is a great throat soother. 

30 Days of Blogging, Day 8

The word of the day is Patience. 

As we inch closer to the ripe old age of 2, the “terrible two’s” start earning their name-sake. For about a month or two, Avery has been having regular tantrums. They happen over silly things like not being able to get the puzzle piece in the puzzle on the first try or get her sock off in the car, but also over legitimate emotions like learning to accept the realities of “no”, and as per my last post, sometimes the tantrums are caused by separation anxiety. My strong-willed little 16 month old will sometimes have up to a dozen tantrums in a day. 

Luckily they’re usually short, lasting just long enough to get a few tears down her cheeks, get her face good and blood-shot, and do some minor damage to my hearing. Yesterday she tantrumed for 45-minutes – just an ear piercing angry scream, stomping through the house. I don’t even remember what it was about. Probably that I wouldn’t hold her while I was making dinner. 

Dealing with a tantrum-throwing child requires So. Much. Patience. The trick is to not give them any kind of big reaction, which means remain calm and let them get it all out while somehow simultaneously teaching them that yelling and hitting isn’t how we communicate our needs. I sometimes offer her a big hug while she screams, but that more often than not gets me punched in the face. 

I try to see these tantrums as a good thing – she feels comfortable letting her true emotions out, she is developing her emotional regulation skills (early stages, obviously…), and she is finding her power and voice to fight for what she wants. 

I appreciate the developmental milestone that is having tantrums, but it’s still a less than enjoyable part of parenthood. Patience is the word of the day for more than just the patience it requires to parent through tantrums. I want to be patient with all of the hard parts of parenthood and let myself slow down to appreciate the good parts. I find myself wishing away toddlerhood for a future time when she can be reasoned with, when she sleeps through the night, when I get to hear, in her own words, her own voice, about all the complex thoughts going on in her head… But toddlerhood is also an amazing time and I don’t want to take it for granted. I don’t really want my little girl to grow up. I need patience to appreciate the now. 

30 Days of Blogging, Day 7

The word of the day is Freedom.

The freedom I’m talking about today isn’t anything extraordinary for an able bodied person – it is the freedom to move about my own home how and when I please. Freedom to take the garbage out, go to the bathroom, shower, move from one room to the next at my leisure. But I have a toddler, and thus, I don’t have this freedom.

Does anyone else have a toddler who clings to your legs and tries to climb you, red faced and screaming, when you do something so bold as to try walking into another room without them? When I’m holding my toddler and I say any of the following phrases, she clings to me like a spider monkey with a death grip:

I just have to go and…

I’m going to put you down for a second…

Can I just…

I’ll be right back…

I have to heat up the car before we leave for daycare in the mornings, and when I peel her off of me and walk out the front door she sounds like she is experiencing the worst heartache of her young life. Every time.

Doing the dishes and cooking dinner is a constant battle to keep her happy on the floor. I just can’t do these tasks while holding a 30 pound kid anymore.

I deal with this separation anxiety as the internet has told me to – with calmness, briefness, and always keeping my promise about coming back. But I think the only real solution is time. I know she’s securely attached, because she is completely happy to be left with people she trusts (her Mo, grandma, daycare provider), and her reaction to me when I return is a healthy amount of happiness (“You’re back! Let me tell you in baby gibberish about all the fun I had while you were gone!“) The problem is  not about me leaving her with other people, it’s about the anticipation of separating from me. 

If you can relate to how oppressive this can feel as a parent, please vent with me in the comments! It’s always nice to feel less alone.