So I have not yet written out all my goals for this year but Seth and I have gotten a chance to talk about a few things we are striving for this new year that excites us. One of them is going to back to our Dave Ramsey cash system (a post on this later/and also it is exciting yet also POKE YOUR EYES OUT TOUGH LOL) and also that I'm going to be writing a longer post on Wednesdays on my blog. I have mapped them out for the next 2 months and I'm really excited about it! Having a plan about some things I'm excited to share with ya'll is fun for me and so I really hope you enjoy them.
So, let me preface this first Wednesday blog post title: "The best parenting advice I ever received" by adding ... for babies and toddlers. LOL I don't have a child older than a toddler so I cannot share with you any parenting advice for beyond that!
Second, let me say this too... I do not feel qualified to give out parenting advice. It's scary writing a post like this because everyone does things so differently and every child and situation are so different! Haddie and Louie are SO different already and so I already know that every kid can only be so different from them too! Take this or leave it. I just wanted to share some valuable things that have really helped Seth and I with our kids as we try to parent them in a way that honors Christ!
So if you are a mama of young ones, I hope just ONE thing resonates with you or helps you create more of a plan with your littles. If you are pregnant, don't get nervous, just get excited! You get to help shape and mold your little babe into a precious little one God created them to be! If you aren't seeing kids in your horizon anytime soon, read and learn, bookmark for later, or pass it on to someone who could benefit! (If you are my sister - I hope this helps you with Carl! (her dog!) LOL).
Sometimes I think we can get in a rut with our kids or not know exactly which way to turn and so I wanted to share some helpful advice that I received as a new mom (when Haddie was 10 months) that really has shaped the way we have started raising our kids. For Seth and I, having a plan as parents helped us feel like we were more successful when it came to sleeping issues, wake up times, play times, personal ALONE time during the day, and discipline.
This all started when Haddie was 10 months old. She was laying on her changing table and I had a mirror hung right above that. When I would change her diaper, she would reach up and try to pull the mirror away from the wall, which was dangerous because I didn't want her to pull on the mirror. I would tell her "No," pull her hand away and do this continually while she would cry or I would just take her off the changing table and into the other room. But not only would she cry, but she would watch my eyes. When my eyes were off of her eyes, she would slowly reach her hand back to the mirror. She was DEFYING me at 10 months, blatantly. I couldn't believe it. HADDIE! YOU WERE JUST A BABY.. NOW YOU ARE DISOBEYING ME. As a new parent, I think we still think of our babies as that... babies. I didn't think she knew better, but OH was I wrong. She knew and she was disobeying. That's when I started to ask some questions. What do I do with a 10 month old who is disobeying? Does she even understand me, let alone discipline?
So... this all lead me to reach out to two mom's who I had watched even before I had Haddie. I loved how their children behaved in public, in their homes, and how they acted when I was around them. They were not perfect but I genuinely enjoyed being around them and their parents. I'm so thankful for the following wisdom that women a little bit older and farther along than me shared with me at this time! I knew if I wanted to be like them, I needed to see what they had done.
1. Pick 2 moms who you admire and get advice from them.
Yes, you can google it, ask your small group, ask your mother, and your husband. Ask away! But, I have found that the best advice I receive is from a mama who has JUST been there. Who has just battled what you have gone through but is a little farther ahead. FIND someone you admire and ask them questions! WATCH THEM. How do they talk to their kids or deal with them when they are obnoxious at a store or restaurant? How do their kids act in front of adults? How do their kids treat other kids, and how do their mamas shepherd these good qualities in them? These are things I love to watch in mamas.
I also advise only asking a few mamas! When we ask more and more people, I think we can get overwhelmed and then our plan becomes confusing. Should I try this or this? This great article on google said x, y, and z, but you haven't observed that first hand. I chose two women who I wanted to be like and called them and asked them my questions!
2. Start your kids early with individual play time.
Now, this is something that I actually did a terrible job of doing with both my kids but now I am trying to start with Haddie. Haddie now refers to her alone time as "working on her bible study" because that's usually what I'm doing when I say I need some quiet time. haha
My friend suggested starting from an early age putting your child in their pack n play at home in their room. Turn on some music, give them a few toys that they ONLY get to play with in their pack n' play each day and start with 10 min. Build up the next week to 15 min. and so on to however long you need in the morning or afternoon. You can schedule it whenever. But this time can give mama a 30 minute break to do her hair, clean up the house, or work from home.
This also creates in them the habit of being able to entertain themselves. I think the key to this working early on is having some different toys and books in the pack n' play so that these toys seem exciting and new during this time each day.
I didn't do a good job of this with Haddie or Louie because Haddie was always a great sleeper and Louie was finally sleep trained by about 8-9 months. By that point I feel like I got enough done during their nap times. But now with Haddie, we are working on her playing by herself and I think this would of been a good idea to start teaching her this habit earlier on.
3. Make sure your words mean something... the first time.
Ughhh. This is the HARDEST ONE. This of course easier said than done. I think the hardest part in this plan is being consistent. YOU are the one who HAS TO FOLLOW THROUGH, ALL THE TIME. I don't want to put Haddie or Louie in time out every time they disobey. I want to give them tons of second and third chances. It is much more CONVENIENT for ME when I don't have to discipline my child every time they disobey, especially in public.
When I tell my children "No," it has got to mean "No." And not the second time, the third time, or after I count to 10, but the first time. What if it was a serious or dangerous situation and they don't stop running into the street when I say No!? When we disobey we get consequences. Consequences are not fun, and so I am glad if I can teach her that at 1 & 2 because it will help her out a lot when she is 16!
Tips for discipline:
-Change your tone of voice. Make sure it is stern so they know you are serious.
-Get on their level. I used to bend down to talk to Haddie so she knew I was communicating something serious to her. Same with Lou.
-Squeeze their hand. I did this a lot with Haddie when she was younger because I felt like it got her attention. I would get down on her level and squeeze her hand when I talked because it showed her I was talking about something serious. This also became a great que when we were in public because the squeeze paired with eye contact on her level let her know I was serious about her behavior. Trying to discipline in public is tough enough because of all the eyes on your back so having a plan was helpful for me.
This is usually how this goes currently with Haddie at 2 1/2:
Haddie takes a toy out of Louie's hands.
"Haddie, give that toy back to Louie."
"No, I want it."
"Haddie, I told you No. You have a choice to make. You can either give it to Louie, or you can spend 2 minutes in time out."
If she argues again, we go straight to 2 minutes of time out. If she gives him the toy back, I say, "That's a great decision Haddie. It is so nice when we share with our brother. Jesus loves for us to share."
For Louie it goes like this:
"Louie, do not hit Haddie."
If he hits her again, he goes in one minute of time out in his pack n play in his room.
*One friend advised one minute for a one year old, two minutes of time out for a two year old and so on. As Haddie gets older, she will have to wait until she regains composure in her time out before the timer can start.
I am not perfect at any of this and sometimes I do give Haddie and Louie second chances but I do see the most change when I am consistently following through the first time. It's tough!
The topic of time out leads me to my fourth point:
4. After the discipline of choice, take them back to the scene of the crime.
LOL. Ok so I know this sounds funny, but it makes sense to me like this. After time out, we have to go back to whatever caused the time out. Back to our scenario with Haddie taking a toy from Louie: if she would have tried to argue with me again or threw the toy or something, she would of had her two minutes of time out. After that was up, I would go back in her room and get her, and then I would have taken her back to the same spot we were with Louie and the toy. We would try it again:
"Haddie, lets try this again. (I would hand her the toy she took from Louie). Haddie can you give that toy back to Louie. Jesus wants us to share and we can't take things from our brother."
Hopefully she hands the toy back.
"Say "I'm sorry bubba."
If she again has an attitude, we go back to time out and repeat the process until we behave and share. Same thing when she was 10 months old with the mirror. If she pulled the mirror while I was changing her diaper and I said "No, Haddie, that is dangerous with a deep tone of voice, and then she still tried to pull it, I would of put her in a minute of time out in her crib. Once that minute was up, I would come back in the room and lay her back on the changing table and repeat the process until she stopped. For a few days, she would have to go in time out for about 2-4 times in a row for a minute, but after the consistency, she stopped. She understood she would have to go in her crib by herself and she didn't want to, so she stopped.
*Another sidenote. I heard a few moms one time say they didn't want to put their kid in time out in their bed because they didn't want their kid to think it was a place of discipline or that they didn't want to be there. I have always put my kids in their beds for time out but the time out time vs. the sleeping time look totally different. When my kids are awake, their blinds are open, their doors are open, lights are on, music is some times on, etc. So when they are in timeout, the same thing. When they are going down for a nap or bedtime, their room is dark, doors are closed, they are snuggled and sung to and read to usually before being laid down. The vibe is very different. Do what works for you but just a thought as to why this has worked well for us and hasn't created any negative feelings about their bed.
5. You are in control of when you want your day to start.
I have chosen 7 as the time when our day will start. If my kids are up before then, then they get to play in their bed! Usually they do not wake up until around 7 but Louie is more of my wild card. He has learned though that when he wakes up, I will come get him when I am ready and he doesn't cry anymore.
6. Explain things to them.
I try to explain every decision I make to Haddie the best as possible. I have always talked to her like she was my friend and I tell her what we are going to do through out the day, what snacks we have packed, and when nap times are. She loves knowing the schedule. I have found the more that I prepare her and talk to her about things, the better she is to take them on. Are we going to church? I will be leaving her at the church nursery and be back in an hour in a half. I don't lie to her. I always tell her the truth and this has helped create a lot of trust.
...of course I still use a baby voice when I talk cute to my kids, but overall I really try to talk to them all through out the day as if we are just hanging out!
7. If it's not cute at 16, it is not cute at 2. Parent with the end goal in mind.
Whining, making mean faces, slamming doors, acting like she can't hear what I'm saying, not eating their food, throwing toys... I mean.. I could go on for days. If only you could sit in my house for a day and hear our constant, "Haddie, stop shutting your door! You are going to get Louie's fingers!" and "Louie, if you whine again...!" ughh.. Every moment seems like a teaching moment, and it is. These are pivotal times when we have to be "teaching, correcting, and training" our children in the righteousness of Christ.
It is long and it is exhausting, but I have decided that I am not going to put up with it at 1 & 2 years old, and then 3 and then 4 when they are a "baby" and then try to deal with it at 5... because by then, I think they will have won. It will be much harder to correct their habits at 5 when I have the chance to at 1. They will know where I am weak and when I cave and when I don't hold my ground and I'm not "consistent." I try to treat Haddie and Louie now like I would like them to act when they are 12, and 16, and 20. Not perfect, but respectful and obedient. We still have a long way to go, but having a plan has helped us work towards a goal.
8. BUILD THEM UP.
Although I think this is going to be something that is much more important to them on a daily basis as they get older, I love trying to get in the habit of it now.
I daily tell them how great they are doing at sharing with each other. At picking up their toys. At putting their book back on the shelf. At pushing their cart. At eating all their food. Anything I can grab at, even if it's only ONE small thing, I try to jump on it to encourage and build them up. I love it when Haddie shares with Louie so I try to make a big deal out of it. I love it when Louie doesn't whine and so I tell him I love it when he is so happy and plays with his toys nicely. I tell him how handsome he is. How pretty she is. This one is much more fun to do than the rest so play it up! lol
Consistency of schedule, days, and discipline has brought about peace and joy. Although there are moments that are tougher, there has been so much more ease and joy in the aftermath. It's also never too late to start. My kids know the ropes. I don't feel as exasperated when they disobey. They know what to expect when they disobey. They are still mad about it but it is not a surprise to them, and that brings me freedom knowing my plan.
They made the choice to disobey, but it is my job to parent (teach, train, and correct). Be consistent and see where it takes you!
I hope this wisdom from scripture above is encouraging to you as a mom. It really helped my mindset as I began parenting Haddie and now Louie too and now it has become second nature for our family.
Let me know what you think or if you have tried any of the above things as well! Did they work for you?