Tag

toddler

Celebrating One Hurdle at a Time

That smile <3

This week, I’m celebrating my toddler.

Not long ago, she was in the thick of the “stranger danger” phase. If someone looked at her or talked to her other than her dad or me, she would hide behind her arm or burst into tears or both. Going places was challenging, particularly now with a little sister in tow, because in any situation that made her even slightly uncomfortable she would plant her feet and not move unless she was being held. At doctor’s appointments I often couldn’t even carry on a conversation with the doctor because she was crying so hard. When someone came over to visit it was almost impossible to be social because she was so upset.

This phase lasted a long time. And I was beginning to feel like it would never end and that I had surely damaged my child by sheltering her at home with me rather than shipping her off to daycare. I had no idea what to do. Frankly, I didn’t even know how to ask google what to do.

But I decided to try a few things anyway. First, she started going to a speech therapist once a week, which has been an amazing experience because she gets to go out to a new place and have positive interactions with another adult while I’m still in the room for comfort if needed. When we first went, she cowered in my lap for most of the first session. This morning, the only time she acknowledged that I was there was to ask me for help getting the lid off the toy container.

And we also signed up for the toddler art class at our local children’s museum. This has been such an amazing resource because it provides a no-pressure opportunity for her to socialize with a group of kids and adults. They sit and listen to a story, do a short activity and a quick art project and then they are done and free to go play in the museum. If she isn’t feeling it, we head back out to the museum. So far we have only been twice, but I think she will get more comfortable each time we go.

This has definitely been one of those parenting challenges where I didn’t know where to start so I just started. And now I’m glad I did, because looking back on the situation, I think having her not only branch out and have new experiences but to keep repeating those experiences weekly so that she has time to build up a comfort level has been so good for her.

Last week we attended a crowded pancake feed. She normally would have panicked in the crowd, but she did great and loved the pancakes. She came with me to her little sister’s appointment and said “hi” and “bye” to the therapist without acting shy. She walked everywhere on her own without me needing to carry her.

We’ve also been working on her following directions and her attention span, mostly because these skills are more important now that she is developing her newfound independence. Several times this week, when I asked her to pick up the toys she had been playing with, she did so without needing a lot of extra prompting.

So basically, this post is one giant bragfest about my rockstar toddler. There were several times after her little sister was born that I felt like the toddler made things more difficult than the newborn did. But this week, as I watch her grow into this new bravery and responsibility, as I see her learning and using the skills we have been working on, my heart swells with pride. I’m so excited for her to show the world what I have seen all along–a joyful, sweet, sometimes mischievous little soul with the best laugh and a heart of gold.

A few month ago I thought we might never get over this hurdle. But this week it feels like there is a light at the end of this tunnel.

And it’s so worth the wait.

Parenting a Child With a Speech Delay

My girl <3

 

My two year old has been in speech therapy for a few weeks now. I debated whether to sign her up for it or not. As a parent it’s easy to say, “Oh, she’ll be fine. She’ll talk when she’s ready. She’s not that far behind. She’s only two.” And that would have been really easy to do because she really isn’t that far behind and she probably would have been fine either way.

But sometimes a mama’s intuition kicks in and won’t let up. Something in my brain kept telling me that she might just need a little extra boost and that the sooner we can get her caught back up the better. I knew she had things she was trying to tell us and the words just weren’t putting themselves together, so it was time to see if speech therapy would help. (Plus our community has a crazy amazing free speech-therapy program called the Rite Care Clinic, so there was no reason not to check it out.)

And I’m really glad we did. Our speech therapist, Emily, is awesome. Not only is she working with my toddler on language skills, but also on social skills and things like paying attention and completing a task. Since I’m a stay at home mama, having another adult interact with her on a regular basis has been so good for her. And it’s been good for me to get some new ideas on ways to work with her at home.

Even though we are still at the beginning of this journey, there’s a lot I’m learning about what it’s like to be a parent to a kiddo that needs a little extra push in the speech department.

First, I feel powerless. A lot. So often she will look at me and say something and wait expectantly for me to respond. But I just can’t quite always piece together what it is she is telling me. There’s nothing more heartbreaking than watching your child try to connect with you and you can’t understand. So when we finally do get it right…

Every little victory is a big victory. This week, the two year old’s word for milk, “mna”, turned into “milaka”. This may not seem like anything at all, but to me, it feels huge. Not only did she add the “L” sound, but she also added the “K” sound. Now she has all the sounds for the word, she just needs a little bit longer to perfect her pronunciation. After weeks of hearing “mna” despite our best efforts to persuade more sounds, this feels like a huge win. And then I have to remind myself that…

It’s easy to underestimate her just because I can’t understand her. Often times I am blown away when I realize how much she knows and understands. She recognizes most of her letters and all of her numbers up to twelve. She has the entire Frozen soundtrack memorized, as well as most of the songs on the toddler radio Pandora station, and now she is working on memorizing the Moana soundtrack. She memorizes the books we read to her and can read them back to us. But because she can’t tell me what’s going on in her sweet brain, I often find myself underestimating what she is capable of. And what’s worse, I see other people doing it, too. So I’m doing my best to stop underestimating her, because as her mama it’s my job to believe in her. Luckily…

She is resilient.  The more she starts to pronounce words in a way we can understand them, the more we realize she hasn’t just been babbling all this time. She has been saying things, we just haven’t been understanding them. For example, for several weeks now she has been saying “teekabah”. She doesn’t say it all the time, but I’ve heard it enough to know that she is trying to say something. Last night at dinner, she offered her toy a bite of her food and said it again, but this time with just enough enunciation for me to hear it. “Take a bite!!” I yelled. “She is saying ‘Take a bite!'” My husband and I laughed. Of course she was. At dinner we are constantly reminding her to keep taking bites. Luckily, just because we didn’t get it right away, she didn’t give up.

And thank goodness, because…

It’s worth the wait. We are nowhere near the point where she is fluently speaking. Most people can’t understand half of what she is talking about yet. But every day we get closer. Every day we have little victories. She is finally starting to put two words together, like “choc milaka” for chocolate milk. She is getting clearer in what she says and we are understanding more and more. And it seems that the more we understand, the more she wants to talk.

I can’t wait for the day when I can finally understand everything she is trying to tell me, when I can get a clearer glimpse into everything that’s going on in her bright little mind. I already know it will be worth the wait.

 

 

I Have No Idea What I’m Doing

My toddler is sweet and funny and smart.

And she is also stubborn and independent and strong-willed.

(It’s possible she is also a little spoiled. Don’t judge. 😉 )

My oldest went to daycare because I worked at the time. But I stopped working when the toddler came along, so she has always been home with me.

In other words, this is my first rodeo when it comes to having a stay-at-home kiddo.

This seems like an appropriate time to acknowledge my oldest daughter’s amazing daycare teachers. I seriously took for granted how much they taught her–everything from eating at the toddler table to sitting still for a story, how to use a drinking fountain, lining up to walk somewhere, and tons of other simple social skills like taking turns and being aware of others.

I am overwhelmed just brainstorming this list of things, and yet I am now responsible for teaching them to my toddler and eventually my baby. Gulp.

ANYWAY… my toddler. She is entirely her own person, with a much different personality than her older sister, who was social and bubbly and fearless and talkative. The toddler is shy, sometimes painfully so. And she is still finding her voice.

So I’m learning that parenting one child is completely different than parenting another. As their mom, it’s my job to help them navigate new experiences and learn new skills safely so that they can learn and grow. However, guiding my my oldest social butterfly is a completely different process than guiding my shy introvert.

So basically, I’m “winging it”. Which explains why I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing most of the time.

In my latest phase of “winging it”, I decided the toddler was old enough that it was time to start seeking out more opportunities for her to “socialize”, hoping it would help with her shyness. So we signed up for the toddler art class at the local children’s museum. This is an amazingly perfect opportunity for us/her because it is short and simple and a no-pressure environment. They read a story and do a fun little activity and art project. And if they aren’t feeling it, they can go play back out in the museum.

Which is also awesome for me because it takes away some of the pressure to wrangle an uncooperative two year old if she isn’t feeling it.

As usual, she was thrilled to get to the children’s museum and promptly put on an Elsa dress and gathered up her favorite trains. When it was time to go to the art class area, she followed cooperatively and even sat mostly still for the story. After the book she sat with her trains and watched the other kids chase bubbles. But when it was time to sit down at the table to do the art project, she wasn’t interested. Instead, she headed back out to the museum to drive the fire truck, trains in tow.

Should I worry that she didn’t care about the bubbles? Should I push her to jump in or do I let her do her own thing? Do I push the art project or do I let her go play?

That’s basically the question that applies to everything, isn’t it? Do I push her outside of her comfort zone or do I wait for her to step out on her own?

I have no idea.

Because as I mentioned before, I have no idea what I’m doing.

Today my gut told me to let her go play. So I did.

She’s two. She wanted to learn by exploring the museum.  Who am I to tell her that she should be sitting and working on a project instead? There will come a time when teaching her necessary skills like sitting and project perseverance will be important. But I think, at two, my job is just to give her opportunities and let her choose.

Sometimes I think I forget that parenting is as much about listening to them as it is about telling them what to do. Sometimes I feel like, if I’m not in control, then I’m not doing my job. Then I’m not “parenting”. But maybe that’s making it about what I’m doing or not doing. Maybe it should be about what she is doing or not doing.

I helped her step into the experience of sitting through story time, which was new for her, and she did great. And then she let me know that that was enough for today.

And I’m glad I listened.

Because she played and explored and had an amazing time. She had a new experience that was ultimately positive, because it didn’t involve mom trying to make her do more than she was ready for.

And best of all, she had no idea that I had no idea what I was doing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank You For Making My Toddler Cry

She makes me smile every day. <3

Dear friends, family, and strangers-

If you’ve been to my house in the past several months, or if I’ve been to your house or if I’ve seen you in public, there’s a good chance you’ve also crossed paths with my toddler. If you did, I’m sure it wasn’t an experience you’ve forgotten. She is adorable and funny and bright, she laughs from deep down in her soul in a beautifully reckless way that makes you laugh with her.

HOWEVER, I’m guessing that’s not the part of meeting her that you remember.

You see, she is fully immersed in the joyful toddler stage of STRANGER DANGER. Actually, it doesn’t even have to be a stranger. She can just decide that she wasn’t ready to see you and that’s enough.

And when she decides that she isn’t feeling particularly social, which is almost anytime someone else enters our little bubble, she goes off like a siren.

I wish I were exaggerating.

She’s a wonderful kid, but “quiet” is not one of her strengths. She cries at one volume, and it just so happens to be the highest one.

So it’s very possible that you stopped over to say hi or meet the new baby or bring me coffee or bring your littles for a playdate, and were greeted with what probably felt like an air raid siren.

And though quiet is not her strength, persistence is. So despite any attempts, both yours and mine, to console the miniature screaming human, the assault probably continued for several minutes, or until I took her upstairs to regroup.

If you stuck around long enough, you probably got to see her pull herself back together and go about her business while eyeing you suspiciously from behind her toys. If you’re really lucky, she might have offered you a toy or maybe you even got to hear her laugh. It’s a rough trail to get into this one’s good graces, but it’s worth the journey to meet this little soul who amazes me every day.

Still, it isn’t easy to withstand the power of a toddler’s displeasure. So I want to thank you.

I want to thank you for teaching her that meeting new people can be scary, but also fun.

I want to thank you for teaching her that people who love you stick by you even when you’re not at your best.

I want to thank you for teaching her that when she is scared she can still be brave.

Mostly I want to thank you for showing up anyway. Because every time someone disrupts her bubble, she becomes just a little more resilient–so that pretty soon it won’t be such a big deal when someone disrupts her bubble.

It may not always feel like it, but you’re helping her grow. And in that way, you’re helping me.

So thank you for weathering this storm with us.

It means more than you know.

Meet Her Where She’s At

Even though logically I know better, I’ve been worrying about my toddler.

Her second birthday is fast approaching and she still seems wholly uninterested in the monumental task of language acquisition.

My oldest was speaking clearly in complete sentences by this point. I know every kid is different. I know first-borns often speak sooner. I know that kids develop differently. I know better than to compare two children. I know all that.

But I’m a mom and I worry.

To help ease my worry (or at least distract me from it), I did what I always do: I ordered a book. This time, it was “How Babies Talk: The Magic and Mystery of Language in the First Three Years of Life by Roberta Michnick Golinkoff and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek.

I picked up a few interesting “tidbits” from the book, but one in particular stuck with me. I can’t remember exactly how they worded it, but the main idea was this:

When children are learning how to talk, use the opportunities they give you to talk about what THEY are interested in.

(Translation: stop trying so hard to engage her in “educational activities” that she isn’t interested in just because you are afraid that she isn’t being “socialized” enough because she isn’t in daycare like your oldest was. Sit down on the floor with her and play princess dolls for the entire day because that’s what she loves. Don’t worry so much about trying to convince her to say the words she is “supposed” to be saying and instead be excited with her that she knows all of the princess’s names.

Talk to her about what she wants to talk about so she knows she can talk to you about what matters to her and you will listen. Listen so that she will want to talk to you.)

Insert parenting face-palm.

My child isn’t struggling with comprehension. She isn’t struggling with learning social cues. She is just going at her own pace when it comes to speaking. She is doing just fine. It is me that is impatient.

Why did I need her to talk? Is it because it had come so easy for my oldest and I didn’t want to think about it not being easy for my toddler? Maybe. As a parent it’s never easy to watch our kids struggle.

Still, I had gotten so caught up worrying about doing the “right” thing to help encourage her to talk that I missed the “duh” logic of just letting her talk.

I was busy trying to pull her over to where I thought she should be, when what I needed to do was to meet her where she was at.

So I did.

And truthfully it was probably just ironic timing. Or maybe I was just finally noticing. But after a week of repeating all the princess names (plus Olaf) and chattering about whatever she happened to be focusing on, she seems to have decided talking isn’t so bad.

Today she repeated what I said significantly more than she had before, with less prompting. Last night she announced “apple” clear as day at the dinner table (where before it was only the first syllable).

And if her sudden interest in chattering didn’t ease my worry enough, she has suddenly made it clear that she recognizes her numbers (1-10) and many of the letters and colors. While walking past the front of my car the other day, she stopped, pointed at my license plate and announced, “TWO.” Curious, I quizzed her using some blocks with numbers on them. Sure enough, she recognized the numbers. So we pulled out the new set of fridge magnets, including both letters and numbers. Now she walks past and announces the numbers and letters as she is flinging them off of the fridge. (She hasn’t shown quite as much interest in putting them back on the fridge.)

Bottom line: this girl has always marched to her own drum. She’s bright and intelligent and curious and she doesn’t do a single thing until she is good and ready. And that’s okay.

Someday when she won’t stop talking I’ll look back on this memory and laugh. For now, it was a good reminder for this mama to slow down, stop trying to pull her over to where I think she should be, and just appreciate where she is at.

All 100%

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Actually cooking lunch (that the toddler won’t eat anyway).

Today was my first day on my own all day with the two littles AND picking up the oldest from school. I’ve been incredibly lucky to have my husband and mom around to help for the first three weeks. And now it’s sink or swim time. And sinking isn’t an option.

Since I’m in the newborn-google-everything phase (see previous post), I did some reading about tips for handling a toddler and an infant. This time, google delivered.

First, one mom wrote about how she wished she had paid more attention to the toddler during this phase. The baby can tend to be more demanding of attention (needing diaper changes and feedings more frequently), but ultimately the toddler is the one who will remember the attention (or sudden lack thereof). This tip made me prioritize giving attention to both kids. The housework can wait.

Also, letting me off the hook in terms of stressing over household chores wasn’t even the best part of this revelation. It turns out that, when I made it my goal to focus on my kids and being intentional about giving them attention, I stopped feeling like they were demanding my attention. My attention became something I was giving them rather than something they were taking from me. It may seem like a small shift, but it made a huge difference in the day’s stress level.screen-shot-2016-10-10-at-8-35-42-pm

Another google mom wrote about how she staggers the kids’ nap times so that she can get more one-on-one time with each kid. This was a mini revelation for me. In my mind the goal had always been to get them to nap at the same time so that I could catch a break. And while I would still be thrilled if that happened, I realized two things. First, when you have two littles at home all day, one of them being asleep already feels like a break. And two, when I try to get both of them to nap at the same time, I get stressed when it doesn’t happen. (And three weeks in I’m telling you: it usually doesn’t happen.) But when I let go of that being a goal, I’m not stressed when it doesn’t happen. Instead, I appreciate the time to focus on one at a time. Again, a small shift in the goals for the day made a huge difference in stress level.

To be honest, I felt like I was giving all I had when it was just the toddler. I didn’t know how it was going to work to add a newborn into the mix. But here’s what I didn’t realize: I can’t give any more than 100%. I was doing the best I could when it was just the toddler. And now I’m doing the best I can with a toddler and a newborn. And on the days and evenings when the oldest isn’t in school, I’ll do the best I can with all three of them.

screen-shot-2016-10-10-at-8-36-02-pmGiving 100% looks a little different in each situation. Sometimes 100% is as simple as snuggling a sleeping baby. Sometimes it is reading Little House on the Prairie on the porch with the oldest. Sometimes it is a tickle fight with a toddler. Sometimes it’s even doing what I need to in order to recharge my own batteries.

And sometimes it’s answering a thousand six year old questions while holding a toddler and changing a newborn diaper and heating a bottle and answering the doorbell.

And that’s okay. Because even on the days that feel like a steady stream of chaos, I love that I get to be here with these little people every day. I can’t think of anything I’d rather give my 100% to.

Ah, What the Hell.

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So here is a little sneak peak into how I parent my children through transitions: I over analyze and research some thing until I have read everything in the first three pages of the Internet on it. Then I drag my feet a little, because change is HARD, amIright?

Then one day, out of the blue, I decide “Ah, what the hell.” And we do it. Right now.

The toddler is 19 months old today. Up until yesterday, she still used a “binkie” at bedtime and naps. I kept thinking it was about time to transition out of using it. She wasn’t really all that dependent on it anyway–in the car she would fall asleep without it, and she only ever had it at the beginning of the night. The rest of the night it was buried in the corner of the crib.

So was it really that big of a deal for her to have it? Probably not. Except I worried that the longer we used it, the harder it would be to let it go when the time came. And with new baby arriving in 7 weeks, did I really want to have to keep track of who had what binkie? No.

And also there is the matter of dear, sweet, wonderful husband. Husband does not love conflict, and binkie was a peacekeeping tool for him. It had recently come to my attention that he might have been more dependent on it than she was. Despite my repeated reminders that “binkies are for bedtime only,” one keeps appearing in her mouth at odd times, like in the stroller in the middle of the day. Or on her way to brush her teeth.

So two nights ago before bed, I decided, as usual, “Ah, what the hell.” And we laid her down with no binkie.

She did lecture us from her crib for a little while. That roller coaster of toddler emotions is a hard train to ride, let me tell you. When you’re on it, you’ll do almost anything to stop the train and get off. But, in reality, it was a relatively painless ride. She never did the dreaded “sad” cry. Just her babble-version of letting us know that she was questioning our competence as parents for forgetting something so obvious.

Three times we had to go in and distract her from her harassment with some snuggles. And then she fell asleep.

The next day, she napped and went to bed with no binkie and no complaints at all.

Huh. That was easy.

Hopefully all our upcoming “ah, what the hell” moments go as smoothly as this one.

My Toddler is Stealing Mommy Time From Her Sister

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Siblings have to share attention. It’s just how it is. Most likely it is good for them and they end up better for it.

But that doesn’t mean it is easy.

My oldest was four and a half when her little sister arrived, so she was pretty used to undivided attention. However, she had also had enough time to consider the benefits of having a sister. And it helped that she was mostly to an age where you could reason with her enough to explain that the initial “share shock” of sharing mommy with a newborn baby wouldn’t last forever, and eventually she would grow into an awesome play buddy.

And my oldest has been an amazing sister. She is helpful when I need her, she is patient when I am not available at the exact moment she want me–she’s a blessing.

To be totally honest, she isn’t complaining about sharing my time. I am.

You see, we’ve hit the full-blown toddler transition this week. Perhaps it is because we are battling teething and a cold, which have affected our sleep. Or perhaps it’s just that magical hour of childhood where children figure out what they want but they don’t have the language to ask for it, which I’m sure is frustrating to say the least. Either way, we are experiencing all the reasons why people dread the toddler years.

Today alone I had to deal with a temper tantrum before breakfast, then breakfast, and then dressing the toddler to leave for the oldest’s eye appointment. The oldest got herself dressed, her teeth brushed, and helped hang out with the toddler while I got ready. We walked to the appointment, which was a nice time for conversation with the oldest. But as soon as we arrived at the eye doctor, all the toddler alarm bells went off. Strange place with strange people means crying, even if mommy is holding us. And you guys, this is not a quiet cry. It’s a “Sorry ma’am at the front desk, I can’t hear what you are telling me to fill out on the paperwork” kind of cry. So I’m juggling a hysterical toddler, trying to fill out paperwork when they come to take the oldest back to the room.

I already know from past experience that this isn’t going to work well. The toddler will cry the whole time and the doctor won’t be able to hear anything else or concentrate on my oldest. So rather than accompanying her to her first eye doctor visit, she went with the nurse while we waited in the waiting room. She didn’t seem to mind and was a total rockstar. (Although she did tell me on the walk home that she wished I had been able to come with her. Insert mini heartbreak here.) I told her I wished I had too, but that she had done such a good job and that it was great that she was old enough to do stuff like that.

When we got home we all played in the basement. I got out one of my old dolls for the oldest and we went through the tub of accessories, talking and having fun. But soon the toddler was trying to climb the dollhouse and wouldn’t listen when I told her to stop so I had to get up to get her, which meant a defiant temper tantrum which meant I had to take her up to time out. And then it was lunch time so I had to feed her. And once again the oldest was left to entertain herself, which she happily did.

She doesn’t complain, but in my head, I do.

In my head, I throw a little fit that I can’t sit down and concentrate on her without having to attend to a temper tantrum or a danger or a diaper. In my head I throw a little fit that I can’t be with her in the doctor’s office because her sister is afraid of everything outside of our living room. In my head I throw a fit that I can’t play dolls for a few minutes without having to always keep an eye on a mischievous toddler. In my head I throw a fit that even her doctor’s appointments can’t be “her” time. And it isn’t fair. But there’s nothing I can do about it.

Perhaps it is because I’m acutely aware of the fast-approaching school year and I’m dreading having even less time with her. Perhaps it’s because the new baby will arrive in September, meaning my time and attention will be even further divided.

Either way, I feel like she is in this perfect stage of being independent, yet still wanting to spend time with me. She is funny and creative and articulate and makes me laugh and think. And I don’t want to miss it. I want to be able to fully appreciate who she is at this moment in her life.

But it isn’t always that easy.

So we schedule mommy-daughter dates. We make the best of toddler nap times. We share subtle laughing eye rolls when her sister is being especially toddler-y. I take advantage of the little chances to hug her and thank her for being my helper. I remind her that this stage can feel hard for both of us and that some days it feels harder than others, but it won’t always be difficult.

And we get through it together. Because that’s what families do. If this beautiful family of mine has taught me anything, it’s how to be flexible. This week it will be the toddler who needs me, next week the oldest, next week the baby. There will probably be weeks where I have to steal time from all of them to take care of myself.

That’s what families do. We all give and take from each other.

And in the end, we all end up with more love because of it.

This Week’s Toddler Milestones (#3)

Wtf?

This week we learned:

1. How to remove the hook from the baby gate at the top of the stairs. NEAT.

2. We are mastering the art of climbing onto things that aren’t meant to be climbed on. (Vacuum. Car. Etc.)

3. We discovered how much fun it is to pull up mommy’s shirt and poke her (HARD) in the belly button. This is very fun for third trimester mommy.

Cheese!
Cheese!

4. We revisited how much fun it is to take a drink and let milk dribble out of our mouth. Last time it offended us when it went down our shirt but now that we are a water park pro it is exhilarating.

5. We learned how to fake chew when there is nothing in our mouth, making mommy think there is something in our mouth and subsequently panic and dig around in our mouth for what we are chewing on. Or not chewing on.

6. We are continuing to master the art of running away when someone threatens to change our diaper.

7. Our selective listening skills are drastically improving, as are evidence by this video. OH WAIT. There is no more video. Because we also learned how to erase videos from mom’s phone.

Screen Shot 2016-07-30 at 9.35.19 PM8. We learned to take the lid off the Puffs can. Unfortunately, we have not yet learned how to not shove entire handfuls in our mouth.

9. We learned how to say “cheese” for a picture, which is basically the most adorable thing ever.

10. We learned to walk in someone else’s shoes. Hey, we are advanced I guess. 😉

10. We learned that the fastest way to ruin a bath is to try playing with foam bath soap. We HATE FOAM BATH SOAP. HATE HATE HATE.

 

11. Also, we had this fun moment (see below). I like to call this one, “How the heck did you get wet?” No liquids that I can find anywhere in the room. Within 5 minutes of putting on a clean shirt. Go figure.

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Irrational Mommy Moment: I DON’T CARE IF I RUIN MY GOOD SLEEPER

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My toddler has been a pretty good sleeper from the beginning. Honestly, I don’t think we ever “sleep trained” her in any way. She was fine if she fell asleep while you held her and then laid her down, and she was fine if you laid her down while she was still awake.

We stuck with the habit of laying her down when she was awake because I am of the general belief that it’s good for kids to be able to fall asleep on their own. So that’s just how it has been since she was little. For every nap and every bedtime, we would lay her down and she would fall asleep. Only occasionally would we have to go back in and lay her down again if she was particularly wound up, but it rarely took more than once.

People often commented on what a good sleeper she was and how amazing it was that I could just lay her down and she would go to sleep. And let me tell you, it is pretty great. Bedtimes are fairly simply when you can do a bath and a bottle and lay the baby down without much fuss. There were phases with my oldest where she wanted to be rocked to sleep or wanted me to lay by her bed until she fell asleep, and that can make for a long bedtime sometimes.

This week, the toddler has been teething and getting over a cold, and our sleep has suffered for it. She has a harder time winding down at bedtime and has needed to be snuggled and re-laid back down several times each evening. A couple of those times I’ve caved and just rocked her to sleep. She used to get squirmy to be put down at bedtime–she likes her routine. But this week she is extra snuggly and seems content to be on my lap for as long as I want to rock her.

The first few times it happened, the little warning light went off in my brain. “Do you really want to get her in the habit of being rocked to sleep every night right before the new baby arrives? How on earth are you going to get three kids to bed if one of them needs to be rocked and another is a newborn who won’t care about what time it is if she needs to eat?” It’s a valid point–as nice as it is to have the extra cuddles this week, it’s also nice to have the simple bedtime routine and it’s nice for her to be able to put herself to sleep, for her benefit and for mine.

But last night as I was cuddling her in the dark, watching her wad her blankie up and tuck it under her chin so that it cradled her face from ear to ear while she rubbed the satin edging and blinked sleepily, I realized something: in that moment, I didn’t give two f$%&@s about a convenient bedtime routine.

I love this crazy, irrational toddler stage–even with it’s challenges and temper tantrums born of frustration. She is so cute and tiny with such a big personality–I could stare at her in awe all day long (and I do). These sweet moments of watching her fall asleep…they are so heartbreakingly fleeting. Pretty soon she will be too big for my lap. And pretty soon she will have a new little sister she has to share my lap with.

Sanity is important. So is her sleep patterns. And with three kids, convenience is also pretty important.

But at the end of the day, snuggles trump all of these things.

So for now, I don’t care about habits. For now, I’m not worrying about what it will be like to add another human to the bedtime mix in a few weeks. For now, the only thing I’m focusing on is soaking in these precious moments.