Just sitting at my computer in silence....Magic. How long will it last? No idea but probably not for long...One is playing outside but will soon miss company, the other is being held by Daddy at the other end of the house, grizzling because she is sick...I can just hear her, I have heard her all day, I have been the big ones company all day because we are stuck home, all of that, plus the fact that this peace isn't going to last more than probably a few moments more...makes you really appreciate it...and just like that, its over....
I am on a quest to become a better parent. I am a very good teacher,a great daycare provider and just assumed positive parenting would come naturally. It didn't! At least, not enough of the time. When I am on my game and everything is organised and I have had enough sleep, all the planets are alligned in the right order, the temperature is exactly right, I have had just the right amount of caffine....you get the idea....I am an awesome mum. However, as my oldest has gotten older I have found myself falling into a cycle of negativity. You know what I mean...don't do that....leave that alone....I am going to count to three....one more time and blanky goes on the fridge...do you want to sleep outside....Ill put you out with the wheelie bin (not really, but I think it!). This was not the way I pictured parenting. Its a very draining way to parent and makes you not look forward to getting out of bed in the morning.
I tried the 'one, two, three...magic' parenting approach. I bought the book, studied it over and over, talked Ben through the basic techniques and put it into practice. Did it work? Yes. Was it positive? No. It also often ended in 'timeout' which was not a quiet experience like the book suggested it should be. It was a kicking, screaming, banging experience that must have made the neighbours wonder what on earth was going on. In fact I know they did wonder because when I met my new neighbour she didnt seem too keen on stopping for a chat. She did manage to ask me how many kids I had. When I replied 'two' she said 'Its hard with little kids isn't it...' and kept walking...hmmm. The other issue with the timeout tantrums was that we have a baby and it became difficult to find a place to have timeout without waking the baby. The other issue with counting to three was the frusteration I felt when Chloe discovered she could do what she liked until after I said 'two' without going in timeout. This was driving me insane! I started to undermine the program by counting really fast to try and catch her out or I would just loose it and have my own temper tantrum. So, to sum it all up, counting to three didn't really work for us.
I went back to trusty Google and continued my search for a good parenting system that would work for us. I came across the 'positive parenting program'. itunes had some free podcasts about it. I had a listen and liked the sound of it. I was walking around town the same week and by complete coincidence found a leaflet advertising the course here in my home town. It is a four week program with three follow up phone calls over another four weeks. See? The planets had alligned just right and I saw this as a sign from the heavens that this was the one for us! The cost? Just $20 to cover the cost of the workbook.
I am currently part way through the course and it has completely changed the relationship between my daughter and myself. The course content is excellent, it challenges the way you think about discipline and its completely based around being a positive rolemodel. The course instructor...not so good. Im not sure she is all there. Luckily the workbook has alot of info in it that makes alot of sense!
So far this is the list of the most valuable information i have got out of it. It would depend on your individual child though...
1. Don't say don't
Everytime you tell my child not to do something she will see it as a challenge to find a way to do it. Its all about the words! For example, instead of saying 'don't hit your sister' you say 'keep your hands to yourself'. Can you see the difference? Keep your hands to yourself is a clear direction about how to behave. Repeat it often enough they might actually start to 'get' it.
2. Descriptive Praise
Catch them doing something good that you want them to continue and clearly praise them. For example, 'gosh you are playing nicely with your sister today! I like the way you are reading her a story, she loves it when you play like that.' The other trick is to do this all the time
3. We do way too much for our kids
This point has made a big difference to our day. An example....Chloe can dress herself...when she feels like it. If she would do this all the time my life would be easier. I made a conscious choice to change this behaviour. The way to do it is to allow HEAPS of time and to 'ask...say...do'. Ask her to get dressed. If she can't or wont do it, remind her of the first step. 'Take off your PJ pants'. If there is something they have difficulty with like buttons, show them how to do one, then let them complete the task. Chloe now looks forward to getting dressed in the morning and does it all by herself. Yay! She also now does lots of other things because I followed the same process. She feeds the cat and the fish, uses the dust pan and broom to sweep up the 'piles' I have made, gets her own drink of water from the tap, sets the table and yesterday got her own yogurt from the tub. She makes her bed and tidies away toys and books in her room. I know this process is working because yesterday I noticed she had changed the toys she was playing with in her room and had packed the first one up and put it away before she got the second one out. Amazing! Go Chloe.
4. Clear household rules
This is another thing that struck home with me. When I was asked what our rules are I couldn't quite think of what they are. How on earth can I expect my child to follow the rules when it isn't clear what they are in the first place. As a family we have started to talk informally about what rules we should have and Chloe has even contributed a couple. Now when she isn't doing what she is supposed to I relate it back to our house rule. Like, we walk inside, keep your hands to yourself, we sit down to eat, we talk in a pleasant voice etc. Its funny, Chloe has even started pulling us up when we break the rule. The other day I asked Ben to give Ely a bath and he said as a joke 'i don't wanna!' Chloe out of the blue responded with 'stop winghing daddy!'. Very funny!
5. Routine, routine, routine!!
I thought we were pretty good at this one until I realised we aren't! A routine is so important to keep a child feeling safe and knowing what is expected of them. Like the getting dressed issue. Now Chloe knows we all go upstairs, she gets dressed while I dress Ely, she makes her bed, puts PJs away and tidies the toys and books, Ely has a sleep while we head to the bathroom to do Chloes hair and brush her teeth. In order for this to run smoothly this needs to be the process every single morning when ever possible. We have also started an after dinner routine of everybody cleaning up, not just one of us. I love it because all the toys get put away, the rubbish gets taken out and the table wiped down, all while I am cleaning the kitchen. Then all I have to do is sweep instead of spending another 30 minutes doing it all myself. Chloe doesn't complain because its become part of the day and everyone is contributing. Again, this now has to happen every night otherwise Chloe will see it as a choice instead of something that must be done. It helps Ben and I stay in a routine as well.
6. Planned ignoring
This is a good one and has made such a diference. Basically you ignore anything that you can. Badgering, Whinging and Whinning are big problems here, even Ely has started copying Chloe when she does it. Now we just take a deep breath and ignore it. It gets alot worse before it gets better but it really works. Its good for tantrums too. Again though it is all about consistency. In order for the behaviour to stop you need to respond the same everytime.
Im really enjoying this journey and I am learning heaps along the way. I would highly recommend this program to anyone! It really makes you look at yourself as a person and what you are expecting of your kids.
Ok, so quite a while ago I wrote a post about how I had this great big plan to change one habit at a time and get fit and healthy. I also promised to report back weekly...well obviously I haven't done that! I can report though that I have stuck to my plan although it has taken longer than I originally planned to get it kick started. About twelve weks ago I was watching the Today Show and saw a segment on a man that had given up sugar and lost heaps of weight. He was talking about sugar addiction and he could have been describing me!
A couple of days later, after googling sugar addiction I decided to go cold turkey and give it up as an experiment for two weeks to see if it made any difference. Well, the first week was hell. Massive migraines, moodyness and I was so lethargic. After a couple of days though I was surprised to find I had no cravings for anything, not even something sweet after dinner. This was a first!
I stuck at it and after a couple of weeks I had lost 2kg and was sugar free and withdrawel free and had no cravings at all. I ate what ever I felt like as long as it didn't have sugar. This includes sauces, marinades and gulp....no sugar in my many coffees! I still ate high fat food like fish and chips, nuts and lots of carbs and over eight weeks I have lost 5kg.
At the same time as this sugar free experiment I also read an article in Notebook magazine about how we as a society do not do enough exercise. It stated that the current recommendation is to do 30 minutes of exercise, three to five days a week but that this is not enough to keep our weight down. It recommended 60 minutes 7 days a week so I decided to make this my ultimate goal.
About this time I also discovered the Couch to 5k running app for my iphone which I downloaded. I set up my treadmil for the first time in years and gave the program a go. I also went back to a fitness class I had been doing once a week. It focuses on building up strength. With running three days a week and doing the fitness class that made up four days of the week. We take Chloe swimming on Saturdays so I decided I would get in the pool for a swim too, with Elyssa in her swim ring so that was another day taken up. That left two days to find a way to exercise. I had been wanting to try Zumba after seeing it on the adds, I have always loved to dance. I did a bit of google research and found a class in Warrnambool, an hour away. I decided it was worth the drive to do something I enjoyed and I could combine it with a quick stop at Spotlight on the way (hehe).
So eight weeks in I have lost 5kg on the scales but I think I have gained a fair bit of muscle as well. I have gone down about a size and a half in clothing and I have heaps of energy, I look alot better, my skin glows and overall I am finding this whole new routine pretty easy. I can't believe I am writing this but I actually look forward to the high you get from a good workout and the hot shower at the end on tired muscles! If I miss a workout I almost crave it like I used to crave sugar!
The other fascinating part of the process is how I have started to inspire others, which makes me laugh because a couple of these people are the ones who inspired me in the first place! Since moving to this little town I have made alot of friends, many are around 40. These women look amazing, they are great mums and live busy, healthy lives. When we go out for lunch they order the salad wrap while I order the pie. I recently turned 32 and I can see that unless I change something about my habits, I will still look the same and be the same when I am 40. I want to be like these ladies, not the frumpy mum in the baggy tracksuit waiting at the classroom door for the kids.
I am really happy with my progress so far. I still have about 18kg to loose to get to my ultimate goal so I am breaking it down into 5kg lots. Each time I loose 5kg Ill have a look at how I am travelling and see what other positive changes I can make. Now I have broken my sugar addiction and have managed to kick start an exercise program my aim for the next 5kg is to improve my eating habits even more. I am going to follow the CSIRO diet. I have the original book and I have copied the table in the back of the book and laminated it. Every time I eat one of the recommended foods for the day, I tick a box. It has the whole week on it so I can see at the end of the week how I have gone. My exercise goal is to keep doing what I am doing no matter what! If Im not in the mood, do it any way! If I am hurt or too sick, rest, but as soon as I am well get back into it! Make the habit stick! Also Im going to listen to my body more and go at the pace it wants me to go at. I have had a few injuries from listening to others, not myself and by trying to hard to be the best. Yesterday I also stated a yoga class. I love yoga, always have, I am rediculously flexible so it suits my body, although I have to be careful not to over stretch and injure myslef.
Im not going to say I am going to blog about this every week because I wont. I find it hard to talk about my body image, it is such a personal thing. I will report back every time I loose 5kg though so that I will have a record of this hopefully life changing journey...
Elyssa had her first birthday on the 24th August. I felt a little sad for a fleeting moment but having already experienced one baby growing up I am actually quite excited to see how she will grow and change over the next 12 months. Her personality is becoming more prominent everyday. She is definitly a girly girl, unlike her sister at the same age. She needs to do things over and over to gain the confidence to do them independently. She is so close to walking and has been since right on 11 months, but just doesn't have the confidence to take off. She will walk when she doesn't think about it but as soon as she realises what she is doing she sits down again. She likes to walk and hold my finger while she sucks her thumb. She loves exploring at the moment and learning tentativly what her body can do. For the first time the other day she discovered she needs to turn around to go down steps. For her birthday we gave her a Little Tikes pink Cozy Coupe. I always wanted to get one for Chloe but we didnt have the space. Im glad we waited because this newest edition has a removable floor and a lockable door so she can ride safely in it. It is a real hit so far, she spends alot of time climbing in and out of it which is really helping her with her confidence. I also like that she will be able to use it until she is Five.
The other fantastic gift she received from her Nan and Poppa is a Smart Trike. I love it and so does she. It is so easy to push and control and I use it like a pram. It fits into shops alot better than the stroller and she can look all around. She gets so excited when I get it out! The biggest problem is that we don't get very far. People keep stopping us to talk about it, particularly older people. They think it is fantastic. An older lady at the supermarket lent in close and said you know, I bet that was a womans idea!
I love buying gifts for my kids, I think about it for months before I make a purchase. I think it is the Primary School teacher in me, Im always looking for ways to expand their development. With Elyssa being my second child it has become even more important to really consider what would be useful for her because we have ALOT of toys. Im not complaining though, I love them all! My house looks like a daycare center (partly because it IS a daycare center!) One of my fav things to do is to organise our toys into boxes, tubs, shelves etc. I always have out enough toys to cover all areas of my kids development, like puzzles, pretend play toys, construction toys, art table etc. I only put out enough that they wont be overwhelmed though. Then I rotate the toys every couple of weeks.
Im getting a bit sidetracked here though, this is meant to be a post about my baby turning One (sob). Elyssas strength is definitly her speech although she only talks when she feels completely comfortable which means nobody ever hears her talk but us! Her fav words that she uses everyday are mum, dad, bath, more, yum, hello, up, na na. She has lots of others as well but doesnt use them as often. Her other fav thing to do is when we sing she joins in. She likes 'row row row your boat gently down the stream, if you see a crocodile don't forget to scream!' and at the end she screams. She also likes to fall down when you sing humpty dumpty.
Her favourite things to do are to laugh at her sister and to have a bath. If she could live in the bath she would. She also likes to dance by bobbing her head. Adorable. She likes cruising along the furniture at a fast pace. Chloe says she is 'crabbing' along. She also enjoys eating things she shouldn't like paper. I have a phobia of small rolled up bits of paper so this really bothers me. Yes, Im wierd, I also fear going around corners in the car.
Elyssa is also the best sleeper I have ever known. If there is one thing she does well it is sleep. It isnt unusual for her to have a four or five hour nap in the morning, this is after having slept all night. If Elyssa wont sleep you know she is sick or has reflux from something she has eaten. If she wont sleep though, you can guartantee she will be up the entire night. This doesnt happen very often at all though. Her good sleeping could also be because she still doesn't have any teeth! Chloe got her first tooth at 6 months so this is quite a surprise! Apparently they are there, they just haven't come through yet.
Elyssa is the child we needed and wished for. Her sister is such a spirited, engaging, (read FULL ON and non sleeping) personality that Elyssa balances us out nicely. She does her own thing most of the time but is her happiest when sitting with me having a cuddle while playing with my fingers.
I can't wait for the warmer weather to come so that my little family can get out in it. Last Spring, Summer Elyssa was a little bub and we couldn't get out as much as we usually do. I think the girls are going to have so much fun playing together at the park, pool and the beach. I don't think Ben and I will be sitting down as much as we are used to though! It is hard work chasing a toddler, although Elyssa doesn't seem to want to get away from us as much as Chloe did. Im looking forward to loading the girls bikes in the car and heading off for picnics, walks and BBQ's.
It is hard to believe that just twelve months ago I gave birth to a baby smaller than the doll we gave Chloe as a present for becoming a big sister. At 2.8kg and a tiny 43cm long she semed so little and fragile. Now she is a robust almost toddler, although still a petite little dot and the baby days are almost behind us....until next time...
I am a temporary stay at home mum, on leave from a teaching career and loving every minute of it. I have a beautiful 6 year old daughter, Chloe, a gorgeous 3 year old, Elyssa, and a 1 year old, Amelia. All three are the light of my life and I feel truly blessed to have had them. I have a loving husband Ben who is my best friend and confident whom I love dearly. I trully think i am the luckiest person on the planet! I love my life and everything about it.