Tag Archives: siblings

SPFNov30

On the threshold

Puma will be turning 11 in January.  Since her 10th birthday last year, she has claimed the title “tween” since she is between the single digit birthdays and her first teenage birthday…and last night, we saw the first inklings of that age.

“You are not the boss of me.”

How to answer that statement, that really wasn’t a question – or was it? Was it a challenge to prove it one way or the other? Or was it the first statement of independence as she claims her right to find her own way in the world?

My answer yesterday was reflexive, “Actually, as your mother, I am still the boss of you.” Followed by the reasons why what she wanted was not going happen (stay up all night to fill the house with Christmas decorations). She said this in front of her siblings, and I had to defend my authority, right?!?

However, as I sat with that statement overnight, it occurred to me that there are other ways to handle that statement in the future.  For really, the whole goal of our parenting philosophy has been to raise self-assured, compassionate and self-realized individuals.

We strive to treat our children as human beings, not mimics or pets who are bound to obey without question. While we try to behave in a way to earn their respect, we try to avoid the “boss”role. Speaking for myself, I strive to be a compassionate parent to serve as a tour guide through the life lessons they must learn to be competent adults.

What was going on last night? She wanted to have the house ready for the season because Christmas is her favorite holiday. She wanted to have it ready as a surprise for Busy Bee. And she doesn’t like it when things don’t happen the way she had planned.

To her, all the joy of the day was forgotten because her one goal to have the house decorated was unfulfilled. Forget the fun she had playing outside as she and her siblings helped Daddy with the garage. Forget the help she gave me, just the two of us enjoying some quiet time in the kitchen while everyone else was outside. Forget the fun she had running around after dinner playing games with her siblings. Her day was terrible because Christmas decorations were incomplete.

So then, a better response to that statement would be something like, “You are right – at the end of the day, only you are the boss of you. And we hope that you will make choices that preserve your health and your happiness.  Would you say that staying up all night to impress someone, when it will compromise your sleep and your immune system, is a good use of your time? Or maybe, we can make a checklist, and be diligent about completing it every day so that by the end of the week, the house looks the way you want it to, and we all stay as healthy as possible this season?”

If only life had a “redo” button.  Since it does not, I will take some time this morning to honor her feelings, make that list, and get started on it as soon as today’s school day is complete. Thank God our children are resilient, and that we are blessed with another day with them to be their guide, their North Star on life’s journey.

As I close today, I ask you to remember a family in your prayers who lost their North Star yesterday. Ella Bowen was a beloved dance mom at our childrens’ dance school. From what has been shared on social media, it seems that the other driver was under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Such a tragic loss of a beautiful human being, who leaves behind a husband and two beautiful daughters. Hold them in your thoughts and prayers as they find a new normal without her by their side.

Monday Musings: A Better Postpartum

Despite reading about and trying to prepare for the postpartum period while pregnant with my first baby those first weeks after his birth were a pretty miserable experience for me. I think with your first baby it is going to be a huge shock no matter what you do, everything that comes with being entirely responsible for a tiny human life is brand new and your body is undergoing rapid changes that have never happened to you before. That being said, I had an absolutely wonderful postpartum period with my second born, a blissful first week and then another wonderful two weeks after that spent at home. There are obviously a TON of factors that differ from first borns (knowing what to expect, your body’s physical memory, being used to interrupted sleep or very little sleep, etc. etc.) but there are a few things I did differently this time in hopes of a better postpartum that I wanted to share.

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Expectation & Household Help

Be very up front with your partner about the household needs if you are to remain in bed all day during those first days/weeks. Everyday I…. sweep, do one load of laundry, do two loads of dishes, pick up the playroom before dinner, wipe down the counters, etc. Personally, having my house out of order makes me feel out of order, you may be tempted to get up and do what you would like done, you may start to feel frustrated or resentful that your partner doesn’t see or know what needs to be taken care of – in my opinion it is best to have these conversations prior to birth and as frank as possible. If after understanding the requirements and expectation your partner isn’t up for the job then you can make arrangements to hire temporary help or ask friends or family members to take on specific duties (that you now have entirely listed out). I know it feels very strange and impersonal or uncomfortable but it is SO WORTH IT when you have a tidy home and can completely enjoy resting and responding to your newborn uninhibited.

Community

Which leads me to my next example, community. This is much harder with your first born as you may not have many friends that are mamas, or mamas of young children, but if there is any way for you to connect with other pregnant women or new moms or moms of your current child/children if this isn’t your first, DO IT. And while you can, before you are pregnant or before birth, show up for them. Make meals for new moms in the group, offer help to pregnant or new moms with their older children, reach out with flowers or anyway you can and when you have your baby they will do the same. We were showered with meals, snacks, flowers and gifts every single day that first week and it was nothing short of a continuous warm & fuzzy feeling.

Nourishment

At the advice of my midwife this time around I followed a vegetarian, high fat diet post birth. I really believe that this made such a HUGE difference for me. Nothing processed, no refined sugar or grains, big batches of nourishing smoothies, soups with seaweed, vegetables, soft cheeses, lots of ghee and butter, stewed fruits and nuts. This made going to the bathroom such a breeze (which seriously can be just as scary as birth itself that first week!) and I felt wonderful. Good fats are so important for hormones and there is evidence that they help combat postpartum depression, read a little more here & here. I will be forever grateful for all of the food preparation my husband did for me those first couple of weeks, and all of the generosity of our little community here made that possible. Him, my toddler and my mom, who was at our home helping out, never had to worry about anything to eat and I had endless options for quick grab-and-nurse foods in addition to everything my husband had prepped.

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Postpartum Lounge Wear

This point may seem vain and unnecessary but after an ultra nourishing postpartum diet I am going to put this up there as my next biggest game changer for baby #2. I lived in ultra tight Lululemon with teeny underwear prior to having my first baby and in the last few weeks of pregnancy it was the same pair of maternity tights and tank top that still fit. Once he was born I found myself so uncomfortable in those first weeks (months) with nothing to wear, my pre pregnancy clothes WAY too small, even my comfortable pajamas were squeezing me in various places, I had no underwear to accommodate large pads, I needed easy nursing access for my baby and it felt impossible to be slightly presentable, even just being in bed. This perpetuated more of the loneliness and isolation that is often felt after the birth of a first child. I wanted to at least try and see if that could be different this time. During Black Friday and some other holiday sales and with the help of my very generous mom I picked up some nice loungewear for after birth. A silky pajama set, two pajama sets I wouldn’t mind going for a walk around the block in, two pairs of comfortable high waisted jogger sweat pants, two nursing camisoles from Belabumbum and a few pairs of black boy short underwear in a size bigger than I normally wear. I didn’t wear any of my purchases prior to birth and everything was so fresh and nice and new to me when she arrived. I would take a lovely sitz bath and change into a nice, new pair of pajamas and I felt great. Now at 5 months postpartum I still wear every piece all of the time at home, definitely a good investment.

Perspective

I really wanted to make the most of our time home as a brand new family of four. Besides some aspects that are just kind of shocking, I think one of the hardest parts of postpartum is the guilt, the unrealistic expectations, the “shoulds”, the “have tos”, so I took some time before the birth to give myself some personal perspective. I was going to ask for and accept help, I was going to accept that my son was well cared for by someone other than myself, I was going to stay in bed, I was going to take a bath every day, I was going to take time and eat good food, I was going to see this as a blissful almost three weeks at home as a family, we would never all be home together for that amount of time! I was not going to power through pain or negative emotions, I was going to rest, cuddle and nurse the baby, and when someone else was cuddling her I was going to cuddle my son. And that was it. Instead of feeling trapped inside the house I was going to view it as my personal sanctuary, a spa like place, that was tidy from the help I requested, that served amazing food and where I took hot baths with and without my new baby. There was nothing else I should or had to be doing, this was it.

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A friend recently posted a link to this article on her Facebook page and it is so true. We have lost so much as new mothers in this country and I really hope little by little we can support each other and help change the face of postpartum (which really extends throughout the first year, IMO!), even a little bit. What did you do to have a better postpartum? What do you recommend to new mamas? How did your postpartum experience change with each child? We would love to hear your stories :)

Sibling Preparation Part II: Post Birth

This is part two of my (Cassandra’s) sibling preparation journey, what we did after the birth of our daughter in January to help my son (2.5 yo) with the transition. You can read what we did during pregnancy in part one here.

It has only been four months since we welcomed sweet baby P into the world (see photos of her birth here) and although we still have moments here and there we have established a pretty good routine as a family of four, our son is honestly thrilled to have a baby sister 99% of the time… Our son, T, is definitely a rise-to-the-occassion kind of guy. He really never does anything until he absolutely *has* to, case in point, he slept through the entire night without waking for the FIRST TIME EVER the night after his sister was born, he was almost three. He has also since decided he would start talking. That being said, he really took to his role as big brother and embraced our changing family, it could have absolutely nothing to do with what we did before or after. BUT these things did help everyone feel more at ease and help us get into a nice, new rhythm that now included a baby.

1. Help for our son

We asked my mom in advance to visit after the baby was born for additional help, mostly for our son. Her trip coincidentally was planned for the very evening our baby P was born, we had a great day resting as a family of four post birth and the next day my son was SO excited to see his Granny. She stayed for more than a week and I think it was one of the best things we could have done immediately for our son. He was so busy having fun with her, out and about all day he didn’t even notice that I was at all restricted. Another lap, another set of hands and undivided attention for him.

2. Mama Milk Access

My son hadn’t nursed in many long months but was still used to his share of milk cuddles, I knew shutting him out when baby was nursing would trigger him emotionally, causing him to act out. I always welcomed him to snuggle me while simultaneously nursing the baby, we talked about how the baby didn’t eat food and needed lots of milk to grow bigger and stronger so she could play with him and he got into a routine of coming to “kiss baby P milk” each time we nursed, he would give a quick kiss to her head or my breast and then usually run off. It’s not always easy when he climbs all over us or I am feeling touched out or the baby was fussy at the breast but over the long haul I think it was really important to welcome him into our nursing time in order to combat jealousy.

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3. Only Positive Reinforcement 

This was actually a tip from one of my midwives, to only focus on and model the positive aspects of his interactions with the baby and not the negative. So very basically, instead of “don’t be rough with the baby” say and show him “we are very gentle with the baby, we touch her gently and kiss her gently” We did this with EVERYTHING and we also refrained from making things “because of the baby.” If the baby was sleeping and we needed to be quiet we didn’t say we need to be quiet because the baby is sleeping we would say we need to be quiet because we are having quiet, restful time and we can be loud and crazy as soon as we get outside or something a long those lines. I tried to ONLY mention ANYTHING about the baby in a positive manner to him. I felt like it was really important at the very beginning, that although fantastical, he did not feel the baby was affecting him. Obviously everything was going to change but if the change was gradual and organic for him rather than abrupt I knew we would all fair better.

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5. Keeping it Low Key 

I was on my own with both kids for the first time when my daughter was two days away from turning 3 weeks old. I was feeling fantastic so that was a MAJOR plus, but things were obviously still very new and scary and taking a tiny almost three week old baby out of the house is not comfortable for me. My son and I rarely ever stayed home the entire day though and I knew keeping things similar to his normal routine would have the best results. For the first couple of weeks I did some of our same activities, just toned down a bit. I invited one of his friends over to play, instead of the usual 3 we have play dates with. I walked to the closest coffee shop (instead of our usual spot that is farther from home) and then the park across the street. I went to a nearby science class as our outing for the day, instead of planning anything before or after as we usually would. This helped me from feeling entirely overwhelmed and it was really nice for all of us to gradually transition back into “normal” life.

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6. “Pretend Me Baby” & Snuggles

Pretty soon after the baby was born my son started asking to “tend (pretend) me baby” and would want to fake cry while I rocked him or make sucking sounds over my shirt or pretend we were driving and he was crying in his car seat. I embraced this and it gave us a good time afterwards to talk about him being a “big guy” and how he differs from the baby, etc. At four months postpartum he still likes to play this game and we always get lots of laughs out of it. Whenever he would start getting frustrated about diaper changes or wanting mama I would ask if he wanted to PRETEND he was a baby and have a pretend diaper for a moment or have a good cry, etc. it almost always works! I also try to give him as many extra snuggles and physical contact as possible, even if it doesn’t seem like he needs it. As soon as baby is sleeping in her swing I check in with him for snuggle time or cuddle and read books and we play lots of tackle and wrestling games when possible. I know that once he is depleted it is much harder to fill his cup back up so I try to be mindful of frequent mood lifting activities.

 

At four months postpartum there are already new challenges on our journey as a larger family (toy possession, baby’s increased need to being “put” to sleep and quiet, etc.)  but these above were all extremely helpful for surviving the fourth trimester and setting the stage for our new normal. What else have you done before or after the birth of a sibling that have helped the transition, emotionally and physically?

 

 

 

Sibling Preparation: During Pregnancy

Krystyna has wrote various pieces on preparing siblings for the arrival of a newborn brother or sister and even specifically preparing them for a home birth of that sibling over on Sweet Pea Births blog, but today I am going to share what exactly we did with our 2.5 year old son during pregnancy and birth in anticipation of his sister’s arrival.

We talked about the pregnancy, baby, breastfeeding, what he could expect, etc. every day in all different contexts and situations, it was a regular topic of conversation and everything was always positive. In addition to that ongoing dialouge the following was all extremely helpful in easing the transition.

1.  Big Brother Books.

We picked up all sorts of different books: I’m Going to be a Big Brother , Daniel Tiger’s The Baby is Here and Big Brother, Babies Can’t Eat Kimchee and were gifted Berenstains Bears’ New Baby and The New Baby. We read them throughout the pregnancy and he still likes reading them today (3 months post birth).

2. Watching Birth Videos.

We were planning a home birth so towards the end of the pregnancy we watched home birth videos online quite often. I searched for ones with siblings present and we talked about how this is what it would be like when baby sister arrived. We talked specifically about what labor was like and how she would come out and join us.

3. Breastfeeding: Remind, Remind & Remind Again.

We were in the process of weaning when I found out I was pregnant. My son was completely weaned very early in the pregnancy but still was interested in and asked about “milk” ALOT. I knew that breastfeeding might be a point of frustration / anger / sadness for him when the baby arrived so we talked about it early and often. We talked about how babies have mama’s milk when they arrive (and watched newborns nurse in the above mentioned birth videos), we watched animals nursing online, we talked about how little babies need mamas milk but he is big and has things like yogurt and ice cream that babies can’t have. I asked him over and over again what the baby was going to do when she got here so he could respond with “mama milk!” and over and over and over just kept the conversation going and always kept it very upbeat.

4. Big Brother, Little Sister Gift.

We talked a lot about how when little sister got here she would bring a gift for him (my parents and grandparents so generously purchased him an iPad mini! We wanted it to be something notable) and we took him around my due date to a local children’s store and let him pick out a gift for her. He picked out a little plush giraffe and a couple hours after the birth he started asking about his gift and was extremely excited to give baby her gift too! This really worked like a charm for us and definitely promoted his interest in her when she arrived I believe.

5. Recognizing & Pointing out Siblings.

As soon as we started talking about a baby joining our family we started emphasizing siblings wherever we went. We talked ALOT about his friends that had babies and what it was like for them and how exciting it was that *he* was going to get a baby too, just like them. When we would see babies at the park I would always point them out and say “a baby like your baby sister that is coming”, etc.

These are all extremely simple and were not hard to implement but for our family they really did make an impact. Our son knew exactly what to expect during and after the birth and I could not have been more pleased with the immediate transition. I feel like a large portion of the work actually came *after* she was born in order to preemptively mitigate tension and maintain peace within our day to day though. Stay tuned for those in part two, Sibling Preparation: Post Birth, coming on Thursday!

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What else did you do to prepare your older children during pregnancy? We would love to hear in the comments, cheers to siblings without rivalry!

Wordless Wednesday: Home Birth Edition

Our sweet, sweet baby girl was born at home in late January, time is already flying by. You can read her birth story over on the Sweet Pea Births blog, but I wanted to share the images here today in honor of Wordless Wednesday. All of the photos were captured by the amazing Kirsten Redding, who I still can not say enough good things about and the birth was attended by the wonderful women of Wise Mama Midwifery & Tiger Lily Midwifery.

It was a beautiful Wednesday morning and a very, surprisingly fast delivery (which is why there are no captures of anything before “pushing”). These photos are definitely ******* NSFW ***** so beware :).

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P’s birth was nothing short of truly amazing and being able to share in all of it’s peace, beauty and tranquility as a family is something we will never forget.

x and o and birth,

Cassandra

Second Pregnancy: Fears & Affirmations

First pregnancies are known to bring about many fears: fear of an expanding body, fear of giving birth, fear of becoming a mother, fear of the unknown, for me personally it was mostly the fear of the pregnancy itself. I was in a constant state of fear that something was or could go wrong while growing my baby. It just seems so delicate, so mind blowing that an entire human was growing inside my belly while I barely felt anything at all. I worked through those and was blessed with the experience of a very successful full term pregnancy and birth at the end so I  have not had many of those concerns the second time around. We sought out confirmation via doppler and ultrasound in early pregnancy and now as the third trimester begins a very active baby in my tummy keeps my mind at ease everyday. I am full of other kinds of fears this time though – surrounding birth, the postpartum period, and my responsibilities within a family of four. They are pretty overwhelming and all consuming sometimes, coupled with the fact that we have done absolutely zero to prepare for this upcoming birth or baby’s arrival I feel like I am often carrying a weight of anxiety too heavy to bear lately.

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the weeks & baby’s growth are both happening so rapidly this time around!

I have employed the help of some visualization techniques and affirmations that I thought I would share here in case any other mamas may find them helpful too. The visualizations can be used to get rid of fears, worries, or negative thoughts we just don’t want around and the affirmations, while some of them are specific to birth, postpartum or new babies, the others can be used anytime during the crazy ride of motherhood.

Visualization #1: Drifting Clouds
This was taught to me during a meditation in a yoga class recently, I really loved it and have found myself using it a lot at night before going to sleep.

Picture a serene, beautiful place with yourself seated or laying down comfortably gazing up at the sky. It is a brilliant, clear blue and there are big, white, fluffy clouds passing by. See your fear, negative thought, emotion, source of tension appear in one of the clouds and watch it drift away out of view. Repeat with each thought or feeling you would like to get rid of until the clouds are floating by empty. Notice how your body or mind feels differently after releasing these into the atmosphere and continue to relax and take in the beauty around and above you.

Visualization #2: Stones in the Ocean
This came from the Sacred Pregnancy book, it was described as an actual physical activity to go do, which I have been intending to and will, but also works great for a visualization in the moment and/or if you do not have access to an ocean or lake.

Visualize yourself at the edge of the ocean. Gather many large stones and place them by your feet. On each stone write in bold black letters a worry, fear, negative thought, problem or the like that you have been holding onto. Walk to the water and throw the stone into the ocean, watching as Mother Earth literally absorbs and carries off this fear or unwanted thought for you.

affirmations

I know the postpartum period is not a friendly time for myself, physically or emotionally. I plan on writing these down and placing them somewhere I can see from my resting place in bed.

“There’s value in showing my kids my vulnerability.”

“I am healthy and I will heal.”

“A new baby is like the beginning of all things – Wonder, Hope, a dream of possibilities.”
– Edna J. Le Shan

These below also are applicable to the postpartum period for me but have been helpful at times during this pregnancy and I anticipate will be very useful as we transition to a family of four.

“Now all you can do is wait. It must be hard for you, but there is a right time for everything. Like the ebb and flow of tides. No one can do anything to change them. When it is time to wait, you must wait.”  
-Haruki Murakami

“Not loving every moment of motherhood doesn’t mean I don’t love being a mom.”

“The decisions made by other moms do not need to dictate mine.”

“I am enough.”

“I am present. My presence is enough.”

I find these are especially helpful when I repeat them over and over to myself while walking or at the playground with T or in some other situation where my thoughts can get away with me. It really does help redirect my energy and like I mentioned before is a great tool to use before I go to sleep.

Are there any other affirmations or visualizations or even other types of activities that have been particularly helpful for you during a time of fear or tension? Anything that stood out as especially helpful during the healing and adjustment phases after birth, I would love to hear anything and everything!

 

 

 

Winter in Arizona - Sweet Pea Kids would be shocked at *winter* weather.

Tuesday Tips: Sibling Preparation

 

This article is a part of the Carnival of Natural Mothering hosted by GrowingSlowerEvery Breath I TakeI Thought I Knew MamaAfrican Babies Don’t Cry, and Adventures of Captain Destructo. This month’s topic is Siblings. Be sure to check out all of the participants’ posts through the links at the bottom of this page.

Prompt:  Siblings
There is no relationship quite like the sibling relationship! Tell us how you prepared your family for the addition of a new baby. We’d love to hear how you foster a strong bond between your kids. Or, maybe you’d like to write about lessons learned from your own sibling relationships. Let’s talk about ways we can foster love and connection between our children this month.

Sibling preparation…this is a topic that has been coming up a lot lately…very exciting times for our students and our homebirth community!!  Thoughtful families wonder how they can best ease the transition as they add siblings.

BLOG ww spf outandabout.8Here is our brood enjoying counter-time at a local diner.

We are by no means experts.  What I have listed below are the things that have worked for our family.  Please feel free to add your suggestions and advice in the comments!

PREGNANCY

1.) We made a family birth plan using words and pictures

2.) We did family relaxation practice and labor rehearsals to help them prepare for labor and birth…

  • we talked about what a “working face” looks like – tension/pain vs. relaxation face
  • we talked about blood – ouchy blood from a cut vs. labor blood that means mommy’s body is working

3.) Point out other children who were big brothers and sister and talked about the kinds of things they were doing and the baby who was “just sleeping” or “just sitting”

4.) Depending on interval between children:
Have siblings help clean/set out the newborn items.
Use it as an opportunity to share

    • how they were so little once
    • how neat they are at their current age (point out all the things they have learned since then)
    • boundaries and expectations for their interaction with the newborn (you can hug and kiss baby while mommy is holding baby; if you want to, you can hold baby if I help you; you can help pick out clothing, diapering, bathtime, etc.)

BIRTH

1.) With caregivers during labor: Children had a box especially set aside of new things to play with: play-dough, coloring books and crayons, books, a little toy car or miniature dolls, disposable camera

2.) Homebirth – give the children the opportunity to participate as little or as much as they wanted to.  They could come in where we were laboring, they could walk with us, eat with me, nap – or not.

3.) First visit/immediately after:
Giving a gift to the older sibling(s) from the newborn (Note: This worked especially well for our oldest who’s love language is giving gifts)

PREGNANCY+POSTPARTUM

1.) We did lots of reading/picture books that explored pregnancy and  new babies/siblings

2.) Toddlers tend to be egocentric – make it work in your favor.
You are big!  You can _____ , not the baby, (s)he is too little. (spoken in a sing-song voice for emphasis.)
– eat (their favorite food)
– run
– play
– go (special trip)
– mention things they can do by themselves

3.) Reminding them that the baby was not going to be fun like them until they were older – they would have to let the baby sleep, nurse, and grow before they were ready to play.  I phrase this in relation to a season or the siblings age.

The baby will be able to respond to you/play ___ with you
– in the (season)
– when you are (age)
– after you turn (age)

4.) Use whichever phrasing resonates with your child.  We would set the expectation for 6-9 months for responding; after the 1 year birthday for actually playing things like ball, climbing, hide and seek, etc.

5.) It will look like a lot of work/It is a lot of work for mommy because the baby is going to need lots of help/sleep/breastfeeding instead of being a big helper like you;

Children of any age:

Big Helpers
Letting the children help with newborn in age appropriate ways – picking out clothing, doing diapers with assistance, bringing mommy snacks or water.  The key here was only if they wanted to help – we never wanted them to feel like they existed to be our “go-fers”

What can they do independently?
Point out those things and let them do them.  Recognize their initiative whenever they make an attempt to do something for themselves, even if you have to help them re-do it or clean up a mess – hard to do when you are tired from caring from a newborn, I know.
What centers around them?

Favorites
Do they have a favorite book/story/food/activity? Choose them! Often!

Field trips
Is there someone you trust that you they can special dates with? (other parent, grandparents, aunts/uncles)  Arrange anything from free picnic+park dates to things that cost $$, give them independent time, and as a bonus – you get alone time with your newborn!  The key again is to build them up as the big kids that are old enough to go do special things – not the baby – they’re too little.

“Let’s let the baby sleep so that we can play together.  I want to play with you!”
This reinforces the idea that the baby needs to sleep so that the older child doesn’t pinch, kiss, hug, whatever to get the crying reaction that they find so curious!  In addition, if they can be patient and quiet, the big reward is getting you all to themselves!

“I have something to tell you, so scoot over here and come closer to me.”
Changing the tone – whisper to them so that they have to be quiet to hear you.

Family bath time with mommy, baby, siblings in the tub and Daddy supervising and drying off kiddos as they came out of the tub

Sensory play
– water
– sand
– beans
– rice
– make a bin with different textures and colors
Sensory bins are a great way to engage them in exploration and busy-ness without having to do a lot on your part (other than set it up!).  You and the baby can sit with the older siblings and watch and interact while the older siblings entertain themselves with pouring, feeling, and learning.

Going out for a walk or a drive together
Fresh air and sunshine are good for everyone!

FILL THEIR CUP

I will close with this idea from Charlotte Mason, a 19th century British educator whose works have come to light again as parents search for alternatives to cookie-cutter education

Every day, children need something to love, something to do, something to think about.

If you believe that this is a valid philosophy, then think of the ways that you can fill those needs as parents.  I feel that if we are meeting their needs, then one presumes that their cup is full and they are less likely to act out in search of attention “just because”.

What worked to ease the transition to more siblings in your family?

Read more about Sibling Preparation on our Sweet Pea Births blog

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Thoughtful Thursday: Taking Time

As you may have gathered if you have been following the blog for a while, our AZ Sweet Pea Family consists of four children.  Our holiday calendar is as full as yours probably is.  How do we make time to connect with each child individually through this busy season?

There is only one way:  take the time.  There is no such thing as “extra time” when it’s a regular time of year, even less so during the holiday season.

The first suggestion is a freebie: share a hug with your children every day.  Not just a little pat on the back.  I mean the kind of hug you have to be grounded for so you are not knocked down.  Then look them in the eye, tell them that you love some, and maybe even something you appreciate about them or noticed that they are doing well today.  It is not a lot, however, that moment of connection every day can be enough to keep everyone connected when you are all pulled in many directions.

I would go far as to suggest that it would be a great idea to do the same with your partner.  One of the hallmarks of giving is spending.  The kind of spending that goes on around these particular holidays can be very stressful on a couple with the best of relationships.  So, also take time every day to connect with your best friend, and keep the lines of communication open.

The next five suggestions can take as much or as little out of your wallet as you deem appropriate.

Shopping date – One of the ways we make time to connect with each Sweet Pea individually is to take them out to shop for their siblings.  We get to talk about the family, evaluate what a good gift is for that particular person, encourage giving, and talk about a budget all while enjoying time with one kiddo.

Craft date – Another way to carve out individual time or family time is to craft together.  You can take a trip to the craft store to pick their craft, and then take time to make it together – even a few minutes a day.  You could pick a craft to decorate the house, to use as gifts, or just something fun to use as a stress relief through the season.  Some toddler friendly crafts if you are going for a family craft night are projects that involve glue with pom poms or buttons, stickers, or markers (think the wood crafts that come with the pens).

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Holiday Cards – These are a fun project – add in some popcorn and hot chocolate to enjoy after the project is complete for holiday bliss!!  Taking an evening to sit around the table together to sign cards (with actual names or their drawings if they aren’t writing yet), decorate the envelopes with stickers, affix the address labels (if you use them) stick the stamps on the corner over the “x marks the spot” – there are lots of ways to make an assembly line and involve all the Sweet Peas.  They may not be the prettiest cards you have ever sent, however, they will definitely stand out from all the “perfect” cards, and be an awesome memory for your children that they will look forward to next year.

Holiday Event Date – We are so lucky in the Phoenix area that we have lots of Nutcracker productions to choose from.  This year, I took the older Sweet Peas to the Ballet Arizona production (because I *love* the ballet), and it was a treat for them to get out for their own “Big Kid” night.  Conversely, we take the littles out for a Mommy/Daddy date during the day when the nanny is there to watch over the older Sweet Peas.  It is a so easy to go out with two kiddos at a time – overall time spent getting in the car/traveling is less and we get a lot more face time with the set we are with.  We also do “girl trips” and “boy trips” – lots of ways to combine them for a 1-to-2 outing :)

Party Date – Another way to take pressure off the season is to only attend parties with the non-nappers.  That way you don’t have to wait for nap times, you don’t have to worry (as much) about meltdowns, and again, you get one-on-one or less-on-one time to talk in the car and listen to them as you drive.

I would love to hear what you do to carve out time to spend with your little Sweet Peas throughout the busy holiday season.

Wordless Wednesday: This and That

Here are some of the highlights from our last couple of weeks.  Since I am a day late, I won’t worry about being wordless – LOL.

Our church did “A Walk Through Bethlehem” that was a great hands-on experience.  We got to see pictures from Palestine and learned about the manger, we learned about pottery, baking, spices, woodworking, cooking, weaving, wine-making, games, and music that were contemporary to Jesus’ birth.  My two favorites were the spices, because it was neat to see that we still use many of them that are mentioned in the bible; and the donkeys because it really brought a vivid picture of Mary to mind.  I have traveled in the last week of pregnancy – can’t imagine making that journey on a donkey.

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Here are some other scenes:

Stretching out toes after flamenco class

Stretching out toes after flamenco class

BLOG ww spf 1212.2Hand-in-hand with Daddy

 

BLOG ww spf 1212.1Green start for the day

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Morning smoothie brought to you via the Kitchen-Aid, the Champion juicer, and the Ninja blender :) So delish – it was worth it!!