My Parenting Journey: Back at it!

So, I’ve been reading this book called If I Have to Tell You One More Time: The Revolutionary Program That Gets Your Kids to Listen Without Nagging, Reminding or Yelling by Amy McCready. I’m just about finished and it’s an amazing book. Everything she says in the book makes so much sense and makes me wonder why I didn’t think of it on my own! She introduces several different “tools” you can use to get your kids to behave. I would recommend this book to ANYONE. And she pretty much covers everything I’ve had to deal with. I’ve read books before and when I’m done I’m left wondering “well what about this and this and this?” But not this one! As soon as I finish the book I’m going to go back to the beginning and reread it slowly, implementing as I go.

The first thing she suggests doing is to spend two 10 minute sessions one-on-one with each of your children doing whatever they want to do. The hard part is that it has to be true one-on-one – no baby sitting in your lap or preschooler playing along. That sounds easy enough right? Well by the time Isaiah and Denver get home from school and I get dinner ready I have a hard time finding 20 minutes for each of them before it’s time to head to bed. I’ve decided to start with just doing 10 minutes a day per kid on the days that Denver has school.

So we started this on Monday. I’ve only done it for TWO days and one of those days each kid only got 10 minutes each and I’ve already noticed a difference. They all LOVE it. Isaiah has me teaching him how to use photoshop, Denver loves me to sit and play with him on the computer, Emma likes to have me build her lego Cinderella castle, and Quentin really enjoys his bottle! ;)

The other thing she says (later in the book) is that most misbehaviours are misguided attempts at getting attention. And most of the time what do they get? Attention – negative attention, but to kids that’s better than NO attention. So I’ve also started ignoring as much of their misbehaviour as I can. Obviously there are some things that have to be dealt with but if I can ignore it, I do. This seems to be working also. The last couple of days have been a lot more calm around here. Hopefully we can keep this up!

Next week, I’ll be attempting to implement the next tool. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Parenting 101

Ok – well I had a baby so the parenting thing kind of got put on the back burner while I just survived having four kids! But I’ve started reading my other books and I’m trying to implement some of the ideas in them. I also plan on blogging some more about it. Just wanted everyone to know that I haven’t given up on it!

October is breast cancer month

So I try to keep my scrapping blog and my personal blog separate but this one is too important to me. For breast cancer month I put together a huge kit with some of my fellow designers. All of the proceeds from this kit will be going to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation to aid in breast cancer research.

Check it out:

If you want to buy it you can find it here: http://www.scraps-n-pieces.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=66_70&products_id=1761

Or if you want you can just donate some money to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

What you should and shouldn’t say to a pregnant woman

“Hi Tubby!” Yes someone actually said this to me while I was pregnant with Denver. Yes, it was a man and no, it was not my husband. My friend (who is also pregnant) posted about this on facebook yesterday and I’ve been thinking about it all day. I’ve been remembering some of the more offensive things people have said to me in my four pregnancies. With Isaiah I was so sick the entire time that I hardly gained any weight and really never looked super pregnant. So I didn’t really have any rude comments but with Denver I gained a whopping 65 lbs (yes, you read that right) and there were a lot of people that felt the need to comment on the fact. The absolute worst was the one I started out this post with. I’ve since come up with some snappy comebacks (“I’m pregnant, what’s your excuse?” “At least I’ll have a baby at the end of this – you’ll just be fat.” etc) but at the time all I could do was stare open-mouthed, thinking “Did he really just say that?” When I was getting my blood work done, also while pregnant with Denver, the tech couldn’t believe I was only 28 weeks because I was soooo HUGE (which I really wasn’t – she was just crazy.) She insisted that I was having twins and that the doctor must have made a mistake while reading the ultrasound. Even though at that point I’d already had three ultrasounds, one which lasted over an hour as they tried to confirm the cleft palate. Sure, lady – the doctors saw the cleft but failed to notice the extra baby in there.

Then there are just the general rude things people say “You look like you’re about to pop!”, “Wow, you’re so round.”, “You’re getting sooo big!” None of these things are what a pregnant woman wants to hear. So I’ve come up with a list of rules for talking to pregnant women.

For men:

Unless you are my husband, you should probably refrain from commenting on my appearance at all. Anything you say is going to come across as rude and offensive or creepy. If you want to ask me when the baby is due you better be 200% sure that I’m actually pregnant. If you are my husband the only things I want to hear you say are “You look beautiful.” (And I must say – John knew this instinctively – I don’t think he’s ever said anything about my appearance to me other than “You look beautiful.” I also have to commend the males in my family – my dad, my FIL, and my brothers have never commented on my appearance – at least not that I can remember. They have been well trained.)

For women:

If you want to tell me that I look cute, or that my dress is pretty or anything complimentary – go ahead. Anything that alludes to me being large, big, round etc is probably best left unsaid.

Pretty simple rules eh? Not that hard.

ScreamFree Parenting

As I mentioned in my earlier post I finished ScreamFree Parenting by Hal Edward Runkel the other night. I think he makes some good points but it was mostly philosophy and not a lot of practical information. The most important point he makes is that lots of parents are “screaming”. He says that there are different ways of screaming and some are actually the exact opposite of actual screaming. He says that if you’re screaming at your kids, you’re telling them that it’s up to them to calm you down. “Why do you always do this, it makes me so mad” sends a message to your child that they are responsible for your actions. You can see how this is unhealthy on many levels. And I totally agree with this. All week I’ve been really focusing on not raising my voice and keeping my “adult temper tantrums” to a minimum and things have been definitely calmer around here. He also makes the point several times that you aren’t responsible for your kids, you’re responsible to them. I think I understand what he means by this but I’m still having a little bit of trouble with the practical meaning of this phrase.

The one thing he said that resonates with me the most is this:

“Loving yourself first is the only way to the ScreamFree, because it is the only way to seek your calm first. It is the only way to truly benefit your kids without burdening them with the need to benefit you. It is not their job – nor is it anyone else’s – to meet your emotional and physical needs. As an adult, one who is responsible to so many others you love, it is up to you to pursue your own emotional fulfilment. This doesn’t mean you don’t ever need other people. But it does mean that you life and your health are up to you. The sooner you embrace that truth and embrace the calling to love yourself first, the sooner you can truly serve all those around you, especially your kids.”

I love that because it’s so true and it relates to all of the relationships we have. NO ONE is responsible for our happiness except ourselves. I think a lot of people (myself included) tend to place that burden unknowingly on our children making them responsible for our happiness and that is a recipe for disaster. He says that to be a good parent you have to take care of yourself first. We’ve all heard the saying “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” That is certainly true at our house. He also makes a distinction between retreat and escape. I’ll admit to escaping from my children on occasion. I’ve been known to hide in my closet or my bathroom with the fan on so I can’t hear anything just to get a few minutes of peace. Those would be classified as escape. Retreat would be things that are planned that recharge our emotional and physical batteries. I see my scrapbooking as a retreat (yes, on occasion it does become an escape and I’m going to have to get better and making sure it is always a retreat.) Girls nights, book club, running errands without kids, sometimes even cleaning the house – those are all some of the retreats that I employ (I read a lot and this is most often an escape – everything is ignored while I’m reading). After reading this section of the book, it made me feel a whole less guilty about doing these things.

Anyway, I received 2 of the books I ordered online yesterday and started reading one of them. Already I can tell it’s going to be fantastic. I’ll definitely share some insights from this one. I’m hoping the third one comes soon. (Funny story, they sent me three books but one of them was the wrong one. It’s called Magic. Maybe they saw the other books I was ordering and thought that perhaps magic was the only way to get what I want?)

Has anyone else read ScreamFree Parenting? What did you think?

Parenting Dilemma #1

I finished reading ScreamFree Parenting this morning at 3am (I couldn’t sleep) and I have a few things I want to write about that but I’ll save that for a later post. For now, I’m going to post about a situation we had here last night and ask for suggestions about how I could have handled it better.

Back when we were 9 months pregnant with Isaiah, John’s sister was telling us poor naive parents about how each kid has their “thing”. She told about friends with kids who were dumpers and kids who were climbers. She asked us what we thought Isaiah was going to be. John jokingly said that given who his mother was Isaiah would probably be a picker-upper. And you know what? He actually was! He would dump out buckets of toys just so he could pick them back up again. Then Denver came along – he was a climber – thankfully he didn’t like to climb all that high. I have so many photos of that kid sitting on top of stuff. He’d climb onto the toy bucket and just sit there. He’d climb onto Isaiah’s little table and just hang out. Both of these little quirks were cute – not annoying and frustrating. Then Emma came along – she’s a dumper. She loves to dump stuff out just for the joy of dumping everything out. And unlike Isaiah, she pretty much refuses to pick anything up. Up until lately, either Isaiah, Denver or I would pick up after her but I recently realized that she is just as capable of picking up as we are. I told her that she couldn’t have her ice cream until she picked up the mess she’d made. She quickly and efficiently cleaned everything up.

Anyway – to the dilemma. Last night Emma went on a dumping spree. She dumped out a bucket of crayons in Denver’s room and then came out to the bonus room and dumped out a LARGE bucket of toys. I asked her to pick them up. She said no. I asked her again. She said no again. She asked me to turn on the TV and I told her I would after she picked up the crayons and the toys she had dumped out. She said no. She asked for her blankie. I said she could have it after she picked up the toys. She said no. She started crying and having a temper tantrum. I laid down on the couch with my book and ignored her …for OVER AN HOUR! Holy that kid is stubborn. She eventually started calling for daddy. When he came home I warned him to ignore her and he tried – sort of. I then told Emma that she wouldn’t be able to join us for dinner until she cleaned up her messes. She continued crying and refusing to pick up. So we all went downstairs and started dinner. After I finished I came back upstairs and told her that if she didn’t start picking up her toys she would have to go to bed without dinner or a bath. She still refused. I put her pajamas on and put her in her bed, shut the door and said good night. She finally came out of her room and started picking up. About 2 minutes into picking up she stopped crying and was cheerful and happy telling me little things about the toys she was picking up.

So here’s my question – I stayed relatively calm throughout the whole thing and in the end Emma picked up her toys happily. But did I go too far? Was there something I could have done differently that didn’t involve possibly sending my 2 and half year old to bed without dinner? Because I would have. That’s one thing I’ve learned – you can’t back down. But was I too harsh to begin with? What would you have done? I’m thinking that next time I ask her to pick up her toys hopefully it won’t have to go that far. She tested me and I passed…right?

Parenting 101

Lately, I’ve been feeling very frustrated with my children and my relationship with them. I’m sure pregnancy has heightened these frustrations but this summer was NOT good. I felt like my kids were in a constant battle with each and with me. It seemed to start the moment we woke up and didn’t stop until well after we’d put them all to bed (because one of my children does NOT stay in bed and it’s not the one you’d expect either.) It got to the point that I was just dying for them to go back to school so that I’d have a few hours of peace every day. Sadly and predictably, school has not solved the problems and I’ve decided that I really need to take a closer look at myself here. I was chatting with my sister about this and she happened to mention an online parenting seminar that she was planning on attending. I couldn’t watch that night because of prior engagements but she promised to take good notes for me. At this point, I wasn’t really all that serious about changing anything about my parenting but I thought I might get a few tips that might help.

Then Saturday happened. John was working and I was grumpy and tired (I’m not sleeping at all – comes with being 9 months pregnant.) Emma had thrown the clean laundry over the railing 3 times (why didn’t I just fold it and put it away?) Denver and Emma were being extremely silly and Denver was telling Emma to throw the laundry over the railing again. I called Denver over to me and asked him what he was telling Emma to do – even though I knew exactly what he was telling her to do. Mistake #1 (or perhaps 2, 5 or 10 – I don’t know). He lied to me. First he said he wasn’t saying anything, then he said that it was nothing bad and then he said he couldn’t remember. I finally just sent him to his room for a time out. He started screaming and yelling and slamming the door. Every time he’d do this, I’d yell at him that I was adding a minute to his time out. After adding 6 extra minutes to his time out, he started kicking his door – I added more time, screaming over his kicking and screaming so he’d could hear me – (mistakes are piling up here…). Finally he stopped kicking his door but not because I’d won – because he’d kicked a hole in it. I was literally so furious I couldn’t breathe. I screamed at him some more and told him that he’d be staying in his room until John got home. I then texted my mom which was probably the sanest thing I did. She was with my sister and she immediately called me and gave me some of the notes from the seminar she’d watched that week. After talking with her and calming down A LOT – I realized that I was at much at fault (if not more) for that hole in the door as Denver was. I made a decision right then that it was TIME for me to change.

I never realized parenting would be so difficult and, as Jamie said, so deliberate. You think that parenting just comes naturally but as I get older and have more children I’ve come to realize that it’s not natural at all – our natural instincts can be sooo wrong.

So the whole point of this post is that I’ve decided to make a HUGE effort to change my parenting, to be more deliberate and more careful. The one thing that Jamie told me from her notes that I’ve been focusing on this week is “No adult temper tantrums”. If you know me at ALL – you know that I’m quick to anger. You know the term “fly off the handle”? That’s me in a nutshell. I don’t want to an angry screaming mother anymore. I don’t want my kids to remember me as red-faced, hands on hips, screaming at them. That is not the legacy I want to pass down. So far today, I’ve only lost my temper once and it was very short – I realized immediately what I was doing and stopped myself. We had a much better day today and I think this is a big part of it.

On Saturday, after I made my decision to be a better parent, I ordered three books online. I already have Scream Free Parenting but never read it, so I’ve started reading that one. I ordered three other books which I’ll talk about more when I get them and start reading them. I’ve decided that to make this really happen, I need to be accountable to more than just myself. I plan on sharing my thoughts, my struggles, my victories etc. If anyone reading has any advice – please feel free to give it – I plan to carefully consider everything I read and hear and decide what’s going to work for me. I’ve already come across some things that I know I disagree with in SFP and I’ll post about that here another day. For now, I’m just putting it out there, being brutally honest and hoping that I can change things for the better around here.

Outnumbered

Well, it’s official – Emma and I are going to be severely outnumbered. We had our ultrasound today and there was no question that baby number four is a boy.

Baby wanted to say hi:

The only problem? I was so sure it was a girl that I don’t have any boy names – any ideas for me?