How to Embrace Independence While Setting Boundaries Through the Toddler Years

Once your baby has grown to a toddler, you might be surprised by the amount of independence they exude! But how do you allow them to explore and grow that attribute, while keeping them safe, and within boundaries? This guest post by Caitlin Kennedy, has some insight on allowing your toddler to explore their newfound freedom (but keep them within your safe guidelines)…

While this may seem like an impossible task, there are things you can do to make your life easier, and your toddler’s more enjoyable as well!

 Now You Have An Independent Toddler…

Toddlers are imaginative, affectionate, exuberant, often fearless, passionate and stubborn people. Right when you think you have them figured out, they go ahead and surprise you.

 

“I used to like peas, Mommy, but now I think they would look much better rolling around like tiny marbles on the floor.”

 

“I know I used to sleep through the night in my beautiful, expensive crib, but now I think I’d rather interrupt your sleep and refuse to leave your side. Ok with you?”

 

While some days it may seem that you can’t catch a break and others a big hug from your toddler makes you feel like you’re on top of the world, the truth is that toddlers lack the brain capacity to think before they act. Not to mention that during the toddler years, their language is growing exponentially, which is difficult for them to keep up with and understand. Navigating these tumultuous, yet remarkable, years can be frustrating at times, especially if your child is particularly strong-willed. As a teacher, literacy specialist, and mommy to two, there are a few things I have learned through the years that may make these tiresome toddler years much more enjoyable for you and yours.

Embracing Independence

Here are some ways to embrace independence while setting boundaries through the toddler years:

 

  1. Present new opportunities while setting expectations.

Toddlers all have different personalities. My son, for example, is very confident and curious, and is not clingy at all when we venture out and try new playgroups and story times. He is one of the children that you see in the front of the group, clapping and singing, looking back at me once and a while to make sure I am there. While giving your toddler space, but making sure you are their security blanket, it enables them to explore the world on their own time. They need to know that you are giving them the ok to safely explore, but are always there if you need them.

At the same time, set clear expectations of what you need to get from them. For example, if you are in a wide open space, your toddler needs to know that they need to either stay close to you, or come back to you to let you know when they are walking away, etc. Whatever your expectation is for the time and place, let the child know in advance and give constant reminders so that they are not blindsided and can enjoy their exploration.

  1. Be Consistent.

This is probably my favorite tool for navigating my strong-willed toddler’s world. I understand that sometimes our children are taken care of by various people and family members. And I value their opinions and understand that they are not always my own. Flexibility is a great skill to show toddlers as well!

On the other hand, when you are the sole caretaker and with your child for the majority of the day, you need to be consistent. There is nothing more frustrating to me than when we are out and about and a parent says to their toddler, “Do that one more time and we are leaving.” Then the toddler proceeds to do it again, and guess what? The adult does not stick to their consequence and they don’t leave. Talk about mixed messages! This teaches the toddler that their parent doesn’t always tell the truth so they don’t always need to listen.

Toddlers are smarter than we think. In order to celebrate their independence while setting boundaries, choose logical consequences (time-out is not always the most logical option) based on the toddler’s behavior. For example, my son is beginning to know that if he chooses to dump all of his crayons out, he must help me clean them up. Being consistent with a child of any ages encourages strong moral reasoning and promotes independence.

  1. Empathize and talk it out.

In their own little egocentric world, toddlers lack the self-awareness to know when a tantrum is coming on or why something is upsetting them so much. As they get older, encourage your child to use their words to talk out the situation. Empathize with them and let them know that you understand they are upset. Encourage them to count to 3 or take a breath. Remove them from a hostile situation if need be, in a calm and loving way. Help them come up with a solution, and although it may seem silly at times, giving a hug can go a long way as well.

Also, you can foster and nurture their independence by letting them know that you are proud of them for something they accomplished. Using positive reinforcement and not always focusing on what they did wrong can be enlightening and can curb unwanted behaviors in the long run. For example, say, “That was very nice that you let that little girl have the ball. Thank you for sharing.” I think sometimes we go overboard in rewarding children with physical things, like toys or more screen time etc. Although there is a time and place for rewards, sometimes toddlers just need to know that you care by hearing it from you.

  1. Embrace and encourage play!

Role-playing is a great way to help toddlers establish their independence in a safe and fun way, and also creates a bridge to being able to verbalize what they are feeling in time. Nourish their creativity and present real-life situations to them. Giving toddlers access to non-electronic toys such as a play kitchen, dress-up clothes, a toolbox, and blocks encourages them to use their brain and think for themselves. Household objects such as spoons, boxes, and paper are also easy and non-expensive ways for toddlers to explore and use their creativity.

 

Playing with your toddler as well as letting them play independently builds a toddler’s confidence and allows them to become more independent. If your toddler is having a difficult time interacting with other children, role-play with them using dolls or stuffed animals. Instilling character education through play can be a powerful and fun activity for you and your toddler!

  1. Pick your battles and always have patience.

If a toddler consistently hears the word no and is used to being punished, chances are that “no” will become a meaningless word that they don’t pay attention to anymore in time. In our house, I try to keep a strong “no” ready for dangerous situations, such as when my son reaches for the stove, or starts climbing on a chair, or anytime he uses his hands to hit or throw. Otherwise, I use positive reinforcement or redirection, and I always choose my battles wisely.

Finding Balance

Giving toddlers ample time to explore will create a comfortable environment for them to feel confident and secure. Therefore, always give yourself extra time! I learned the importance of patience with children long ago, when I was a kindergarten teacher. When I had 22 little faces staring at their coats, boots, hats and mittens before recess in the winter, I realized that they needed to learn how to put these things on themselves, and I needed to give them time and my patience while they learned. These days, my son loves to use a spoon to feed himself. Would it be easier and cleaner for me to just feed him? Of course. Would that encourage motor skills and independence that he needs to practice and implement on his own? Nope.

As parents, it is our job to provide a safe and loving environment for our toddlers to learn. Whether we are enjoying a quiet book in bed with our kids, or witnessing them stomp their feet because they can’t have a cookie in the grocery store, the above tools are necessary for navigating this rollercoaster ride of the toddler years. As a parent of a toddler, I urge you fellow mommies to have compassion for your babies, have patience and love for them, and always have one of their favorite snacks in hand ;).
Caitlin KennedyCaitlin is a former elementary teacher and current stay-at-home mom to two babies, just 13 months apart, living in upstate NY. She enjoys coffee, wine, and quality time with family. After all, life is better with babies! Follow her blog at www.betterwithbabies.com and Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/betterwithbabies.

How To Embrace Independence While Setting Boundaries Through The Toddler Years

Things You Learn As A Single Parent

The following is a guest post by Susy Richards. I cannot speak on the subject, being that I have never been in this situation. but she provides some insight on what can be, a tough subject! Being a PARENT isn’t easy, and being a Single-Parent is even harder!

Living The Single Parent Life…

Women never think that once they would witness divorce in their lives. However, sometimes life is not a bed of roses. Staying without a man for a woman means actual freedom although it is covered by the veil of fear and loneliness. But when a woman stays alone with children it’s a different ballgame. In order to face this challenge woman needs maximum courage, persistence, and even heroism.

Single mothers are far not a rarity and even some of them deliberately do not marry anymore. This is a conscious decision and sometimes caused by a lack of suitable gentlemen. After all, single women feel that it is much better to live alone with their children and without their husbands.

Believe me or not, but the time of my life without husband became a wonderful start for self-realization and self-confidence. I do not appeal anyone to file for divorce after reading my post, I just want to help single mommies to benefit from this situation and take a positive look at the life that surrounds them.

Things You Learn Living A Single-Parent Life

So what tips have I learned from being a single Mommy?

  1. There is no need to cook complex meat dishes anymore that will disappear till midnight. I know many women who spend their evenings near the stove in order to prepare a nice dinner. Kids are not so choosy in food and cooking for them is not hard and takes less time. Experienced mommies can prepare the menu for the whole week gaining some time for themselves.
  2. Household chores are greatly simplified especially if your children are grown up. There is no need to wash and iron men’s suits, to seek out his socks under the bed or shake the crumbs out the bed. Some men are so dirty that their wives start to relax after leave. (Like meJ)
  3. Equip your home like the house of your dreams! You never liked this lamp in the form of a soccer ball? Feel free to get rid of it. For example, I added more plants, pictures and radically changed the colors of the walls after divorce. You can create a design that has always attracted you but your husband was against it. From now you are the hostess of the house and you can change everything following your own taste.
  4. Your life would not witness “His mommy’s” boring conversations and other relatives’ stories anymore! There is no need to smile through force, to bear tips or biting words to your side. You will be able to do household chores as you want and not as “His mommy” wants. After all, your soup is actually much tastier than if it’s cooked according to “her lovely” recipe.
  5. You do not need to wait for him to come in the evening after his friends’ parties. Seriously.
  6. More space in the bedroom. Now you can sleep safely on the whole double bed instead of your half’s nestling. No one will pull the blanket, push you during sleep or get up an hour earlier than you need to. In addition, say “hello” to more space on shelves where you can place your clothes, lotions, and cosmetics.
  7. You do not need to give an account to anyone. You overstayed with friends and came too late? It is enough to pay the babysitter extra or to apologize to your mother. Say “goodbye” to long speeches of a jealous husband. The same situation is with flowers from colleagues or talks with a neighbor.
  8. You can choose an interesting hobby for yourself and kids and spend less time at home alone. How to start? Just visit theaters, museums, premieres and meet with friends. You can make new acquaintances even through the Internet.
  9. A visit to a competent psychologist is not scary as it seems. I have visited special psychological groups where divorced women discussed their problems in order to find its solution. Divorce with a husband is a tremendous trauma for any woman. Women experience the feelings of blame, guilt, uncertainty and the destruction of everything that had previously been accustomed. Even friends who have passed through this reality situation cannot give you the advice that an independent psychologist can give. Who wants to bear the burden of a frustration until the end of life?
  10. In addition, there is freedom of choice in sexual terms. You can forget about thoughts like how to adjust to his mood or how to close my eyes to the fact that I do not like his look. An attractive woman can easily find a nice man to spend a good time. You can control the communication and when you want you can easily write or call and if there is no desire you can just keep quiet and enjoy your loneliness at home.

The Single-Parent Life Can Be Just As Rewarding!

To be honest the lack of money, chronic fatigue and vile men cannot compare to the happiness that kids can give to their mommies. Children are the incentive for mothers’ growth and triumphs! Sooner or later all troubles would pass but your kids will stay with you. For me being a mother is real happiness and rest of the world can envy-I don’t really care!

Things You Learn Living A Single-Parent Life

Susy Richards is a lovely mother of 3 girls (3 years, 4 years and 5) and simple woman who is ready to share her priceless experience with other mommies around the world. She is an Advanced Practice Provider who passed birth doula and postpartum doula courses at Childbirth International in 2013. She is passionate about providing holistic care and is involved in pregnancy research. Susy enjoys trips to the beach with her children, and spending time with family and friends. 😉 She is a fresh mommy blogger and currently publish her articles concerning pregnancy on Rocket Parents.com

Things I Learned Living The SIngle Parent Life, After Divorce

Busy Mom With No “Makeup Time”

 I’m a busy mom with no “makeup time”

I can get the baby (and husband) looking picture perfect in ten minutes, flat. Myself, is a different story. Like most women, I need time. I need to be able to shampoo, condition, blowdry, and style my hair. Outfits need coordinating.  My shoes must be pondered. But realistically speaking? #Aintnobodygottimefodat… Especially a Busy Mom.

The most wonderful time of the year…

Every Mom wants to look her best during the holidays, if no other time of the year. There’s family to entertain, pictures to take, and commitments to meet. The last thing any of us want, is to be remembered as looking tired, haggard, or stressed.

There’s a few things I do, and use, when pressed for time before a big social event http://wp.me/p7XODP-g1 @jasminea5100

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Prep Early

If I need my toenails painted, I do it the night before. Clothes are laid out and pressed, once I’m sure I won’t change my mind. Which, is actually also done for the baby. And I make sure he’s ready before I’m ready. That way, if I need to scale back to keep from running behind, at least the baby is done. Even if whatever event isn’t until six hours, if I can go ahead and take 10 minutes to straighten my hair, I’ll do it. Busy Mom’s need to utilize their time wisely, so wherever you can save it and prep early, the better.

Ask for help

If my husband can keep our son from spilling juice on his Christmas sweater, while I’m trying to finish my makeup, it’s a win-win. I’m not freaking out over looking bad, and the baby’s white sweater won’t have stains on it. If anyone is around that can help hold the fort down, while you get dressed, take advantage of it. You’ll do a better job on your appearance if you don’t have to chase the kids around for a few minutes.

Stick to necessities…

While we all love curling (or straightening!) our hair, sometimes we need to delegate our time wisely. Most busy moms are known for their up-dos anyway! When I simply can’t justify spending time on it, a neat bun will do. You can also add in cute clips for a festive touch! And with necessities in mind, stick to the basics when running behind; Foundation, mascara, lipcolor. A little goes a long way! A good eyeliner never hurts either, and is my most used tool!

Quick Tips for Getting a Glam Party Look!Busy Mom with no "Makeup Time

Today, I’ve been swapping makeup tips with Nicole, at Cold Coffee and Chaos so if you want to see my main tools/products I use when I need to hurry, check it out (as well as some other awesome tips!) – while we may be Busy moms, we can still look our best when we really need to.

 

Just remember:

 

Important Holiday Sanity Tips

Need some help keeping your sanity?

With the Holidays upon us, life is about to get very hectic for us Parents. As a Mother to one, and Aunt to six, I’ve learned a thing or two about survival during this trying time.

Here’s a few things to keep in mind that can help you get through the Holiday season.

 

Itineraries Are Awesome

And in my opinion, highly necessary. You are going to have enough going on with planning family trips, scheduling shopping excursions, keeping children entertained with crafts, and checking on Aunt Molly in the nursing home. It’s super easy to forget things.

Important Sanity Tips For The Holidays

Keep a Holiday Calendar and record EVERYTHING you plan on doing for the next few months, even if it’s just taking an hour to cut little pieces of construction paper into turkeys. It will help you keep things in perspective, not overwhelm and double-book yourself, and keep your schedule on track. You might think this is silly, but when you discover that you’re late to Grandma’s for pre-Christmas Day gift exchange, your hands are covered in glue, and you still haven’t bought your brother a gift, you’ll wish you had kept a scheduled list.

And with schedules in mind, that brings us to…

 

Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin

Yes, you have a huge calendar to keep everything perfectly recorded in detail; Visit the Grandparent’s at 2pm, followed by an hour of Christmas shopping before your Daughter’s recital at 5, then just before bedtime for the littles, you’ll decorate the tree. Once the kids go down, there’s about 30 mins before the youngest wakes up for a drink of water, in which during that time you can work on the office Secret Santa list. And at some point before you pass out from exhaustion, you’ll actually clean the garage for the New Year’s Eve Party ….remember; you can’t commit to everything.

The holidays are meant for family, and if you simply have full day after full day planned out, then skip a few office parties and social gatherings with that couple down the street (who have three dogs and no children). There’s no shame in it, and it will give you more down time at home to rest, and catch up on necessities-like cooking and cleaning.  One big tip I took full advantage of with a 5 month old…

 

The Internet Is Your Friend

You can totally do all your holiday shopping online – and really should! Avoid the malls and shopping centers altogether, and (usually) get a better deal, money-wise.

Cyber Monday follows Thanksgiving, so instead of fighting over stuff on Black Friday, stay at home and shop in your jammies. And Amazon Prime…hello?! Enjoy the free shipping and never leave the house. Basically, everything’s in boxes anyway, so you can just shove all that crap somewhere in the house and wait to wrap it. Then you don’t have children hunting down their presents for a sneak peek.  And with gifts in mind, let’s remember…

 

Keep The Big Gifts To Yourself

Or rather, make them “from” yourself-don’t give the Fat Man all the credit. Santa doesn’t have to bring all the gifts come Christmas time. Let him have given out the clothes and small toys. Let the big gifts, like expensive toys and electronics, have come from you (the parent) and other family members. Why? It’s hard explaining to children why Santa discriminates when it comes to presents. And it isn’t fair when the Jolly Fat Guy decides one child can have the newest “Hot Toy” of the year, and another can’t (because their parent’s simply can’t afford it ).

I’m not saying that if you can get your children the biggest, most expensive things, not to do it-I’m just saying to put your own name on the tag, not Santa. Because kids naturally talk, and then they can at least give that well deserved credit where it’s really due – and hopefully, save some hurt feelings that inevitably, will happen.

Hopefully some of these little reminders can help you get through the season. What’s some things that help you out during the Holiday Season?

 

Handy tips to help keep you sane during the Holidays!

Traveling With A Newborn? 5 Feeding Tips


Traveling with a Newborn?

The holidays are upon us! For most families, this means travel. And if you have a newborn in tow, this can sometimes be a more lengthy (and difficult) process.
The Honest Company, reminded me of the trips we took with my son, while he was a newborn. It isn’t easy, but here’s a few things I learned along the way.
Also, check out these great resources from The Honest Company that can help you, be it breast or bottle, with great products to help you feed your baby! Supplements, boosters for your supply, nipple creams, bibs…they have it all!
But when preparing for Thanksgiving or Christmas vacations, consider these tips that I used, for those long trips in the car…

Plan extra time for feedings

I exclusively breastfed my son, but this applies to everything – breast, bottle, or tube. You have to allow a certain amount of time for feedings. it’s important to know your baby’s routine, and plan accordingly. If they feed for an hour (every hour!), and the drive will be at least two hours long, then you have an idea of a timeframe.
Plan to strike out early. My son cluster fed like clockwork-so we left an hour early, and after the first session, he would be good until we reached our destination.

Comfort is key

Because we chose travel by car, I tried making things as comfortable as possible for me, and my newborn baby. Snuggly blankets, a neck pillow for Mom, space arranged in the back seat for optimal room (avoiding claustrophobia) – whatever it takes to ensure you and your child will be comfy during these stops. Traveling is hard on babies, and the easier you can make it on your baby (and yourself!), the better. And if traveling by automobile, remember you can sometimes…

Get Out Of The Car

We are lucky enough to live right on the Georgia/Florida border. So we never encounter snow! But if you are able to on a nice weather day, consider parking at a rest stop with a nice picnic area, and vacate the car. It will help you to refresh yourself and stretch your legs. And give your baby a different environment for a short change. My son was always a very active eater, and enjoyed looking around until the “milk sleep” took over. Plus, being outside the car for a bit should help you, and your partner, from loathing the car ride to the cousins who just have to live 3 hours away. Something to keep in mind while packing up for the trip, though…

Make A List Of Supplies, And Check Twice

Lists are super handy for all the little details. make sure you have everything you will need for feedings, and at least one extra item (if possible) on hand. Be it bottle, nipples, nursing covers, breast pads, gas drops…make sure that you have backups of anything that can get dirty, or can’t immediately be re-used without proper cleaning. You may not find yourself stopped at a place that will have access to water and soap (that you will feel comfortable using your baby items with), and you don’t want to add more time to your trip (spent washing things).
Pack just enough (not everything!) of the necessities that will get you to your destination, which at that point you can sterilize and clean. Because when baby needs to eat-baby needs to eat! And you’ll want to get back on the road ASAP.
But in the grand scheme of everything, always remember…

Take It Easy

Traveling is hard on anyone, including being stuck in a car for a few hours. Especially hard on newborn babies. The less stress you endure with the preparation, and execution of your trip, the better the ride will be for your child. Children feed off their surrounding energy – if you are calm and collected, it will rub off on them! So relax as much as possible, take moments to stretch your legs and smell the roses (or, at least, fresh air as opposed to the little tree freshener hanging from the rearview mirror), and make life easier on yourself by not rushing. The ride will be a lot more enjoyable for you, and baby!

Check out the feeding resources page on The Honest Company’s site for some awesome products that can help you nourish your little one, and as always, be safe while traveling this holiday season! And many thanks to The Honest Company, for inspiring this conversation amongst mothers! it’s important that we, as a collective, support each other with our experiences!

If you’re looking for more holiday posts, check out this linkup as well!

5 Feeding Tips For Traveling With A newborn