Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The second

My youngest child is having a bath this evening. His own bath - no brother included. He's having a blast! I realised he hasn't had his own bath since he was an infant. Sometimes, my oldest will get some by himself in the bath time (because he doesn't want his brother to splash him), but my youngest never has. It has me thinking what other experiences a second child doesn't get.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Make a moment happen

There was a night this past week that bedtime couldn't come fast enough. I was trying to get some work done in the house, but it just wasn't happening. It just seemed that the kids were getting noisier and starting to edge towards fighting no matter what we did. I looked at the clock and thought: Five o'clock? That's it?!!! What the heck are we going to do? They were driving me crazy! I got to the point where I sent them both to their rooms for some altercation (I think one knocked over the other's block tower and the other decided that hitting would be the correct way to handle the situation). It was just one of those nights.
Well fine. I decided that I could go down one of two avenues here. One, I could keep going with my agenda (which let's face it, wasn't happening anyways because of all the refereeing I was doing) and allow us to keep getting more miserable and irritated with each other; or, I could try something different.
I went into the oldest boy's bedroom closet and located the craft box. I don't think anything could have surprised him more than to see me come in, not to lecture him, but to find amusements. I located the fingerpaints and fingerpaint paper, as well as two colouring books and the crayons.
The fits stopped immediately when the boys saw what I was doing. And I told them. I said look, we need to have a better night, so let's fingerpaint. Come with me. I stripped the youngest down to his diaper and the oldest down to his shorts. The pages went onto the kitchen floor and I let them go at it. Why not? Sure it's messy, but it's fun. It's also linoleum, and the paint is washable. So are the kids (washable that is, not linoleum). They had a great time.
Once we were done, into the tub they went. The great thing being that they were in a good headspace so bathtime did not turn into a battle.
All nice and clean and happy with their masterpieces, they were more than willing to clean up their earlier living room mess to make way for cushions and colouring books. (Colouring is very relaxing, so it's nice to do before bedtime). As we sat and coloured (and yes, they each had their own book, so there was no fighting about it), we got to talk. We talked about their day and my day. Ideas of things we'd like to do in the future and generally just enjoyed each others company.

I started to think what the night would have been like if I hadn't stopped the chaos. If I had continued down the road of frustration. I imagine that bathtime wouldn't have been pleasant, neither would the living room clean up been so easy. I know I often put off things like fingerpainting because it seems like such a big deal to get out the paints and it's messy. But really, it didn't take long to clean up. The paint just wipes up and having paint time right before bath works so well. I also got a couple of keepsakes out the deal. I handprint and finger printed the both of them (something to put into their keepsake boxes) - they loved that I would put paint on their feet, very fun!
I need to do more of that as a parent. Take time out of the business of life and take time to enjoy my kids, making a memory.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


I'm glad I have boys (sorry to all those parenting little girls, and maybe I'll be blessed with one one day, but for now...) I'm glad I have boys for haircutting and not little girls. If I had a little girl, I know she would end up with that crooked, too short bang that I always had when I was a kid, scissor cuts are not my thing.
My thing for haircutting is the clippers. A lovely friend of ours helped me give our first son his first haircut when he was about one and a half. She has 2 boys herself and was no stranger to the wonders of a good pair of clippers. To demonstrate her youngest (a few months older than my son) ran willingly to the chair chanting 'a haircut, a haircut'. He really didn't need one, but sat for a quick trim.
She then set up for my son's turn. We were armed with fruit snacks to help him sit still and let him play with the (guarded clippers) so he could get used to the buzzingness of it. Once he was relaxed we took turns to go for it, shaving his fine baby hair into a neater look. And it was pretty easy. (and yes, the shock of how much older he looked took me back a little, but it was nicer to take care of). Since then, I've invested in my own set of clippers and have been doing in myself for my boys. It's a great money saver. The clippers were a one time cost of less than $50. As long as you keep them clean (very important to clean out all the hair bits caught inside and oil the clippers after each use), they should be good for a long time.
The set up for a haircut is crucial. I usually have a show on the TV and set up the chair in TV viewing distance (it helps that we have hardwood floors). I also have a snack readily available (though now that they like having their haircut, it comes after the cut). I also time their haircuts right before bath time, so the hair gets cut and into the tub they go to get rid of the itchies.
To set up for the haircut you either need to be near an outlet to plug the clippers in, or, charge them ahead of time. (I'm never that organised, so I always am connected to the wall).
You need to have a big towel ready to wrap your young one in and something to secure it with (I use a hairclip of mine). Your hairclippers should have a booklet of how-to instructions. I've been giving my boys the same haircut for a few years now. (When a friend asked me to do her son's hair, I agreeed as long as she realised I only know how to do one kind of haircut). I use a #3 setting for the neck to the crown and around the ears. I then switch the setting to a #5 or 6 to cut the rest of the hair. I make sure to go over the whole head a couple of times just to make sure I don't miss a spot. I also make sure to watch the direction that the hair is growing and cut opposite to that (around the crown is multi-directional). Usually I can get a haircut done in 10 minutes.
I tried to get fancier last night and just get away with clipping the bottom and braving using the scissors on top. I had a heck of a time finding directions how to do that, but it didn't matter anyway. My oldest got so wiggly that I stopped after 3 cuts. I knew I'd never be able to do it properly and ended up clipping it all. I'll leave the cutting part to the experts. As long as they are happy getting clipped I'll keep clipping their hair.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Tuning in to my kids

Last week I took my boys on a road trip to my niece's wedding, 7 hrs away, in Winnipeg. We have done this trip several times, and the boys travel fabulously well. This is, in part, because I have stories on cd, a bin of toys, a bag of food, juice boxes (a special trip-only treat) and "new" library books full of detailed, silly pictures that they can look at.

About half way through our trip home, things were getting tentative. It was gray and cloudy outside, and the wind was so strong that Aaron could hardly walk in it. Since it was also about 4 degrees Celsius and I didn't have winter jackets with us, I couldn't really let the boys out to play. So we were just driving, and listening to stories on tape, and everything was going well. Then, just before supper, the stereo stopped working. And, the boys started getting hungry. And the town where I was planning to get supper was still an hour away. And Aaron started getting bored with all his toys, and complaining. Then he started singing, and Andrew started complaining about the singing.

I spent a good 10 or 15 minutes taking the face on and off of the stereo, trying desperately to get it to work again, but to no avail. I just wanted that extra distraction for them until we could get to Yorkton. I started praying that God would miraculously fix the stereo so that we could have a peaceful drive. And God said no, I don't think you're getting off that easily, Jill.

As the boys began to get grumpier and grumpier, I realized that I was out of juice and cookies. There were no snacks to hold them over until supper. And then I drove by a sign that said, "Yorkton: 85 km. Some other little town: 15 km." I knew the boys could not wait almost an hour to eat. They could, however, wait 10 or 15 min. for us to get to the next town down the line. I decided that it was time to give up my agenda and tune into my childrens' needs.

We stopped and ate supper, and started driving again. We got to Yorkton and I stopped for a drink and some gum to keep me awake. When I got back to the car, Andrew asked, "Where is my hot drink before bed, Mom?" Oh yeah. Maybe I should think about what comforts my kids usually get at bedtime, rather than insisting that they go to sleep according to my agenda. I went back into the gas station and made a warm tea, split between two cups (one of hot tea and one of cold water).

We continued driving for another 20 minutes or so. Andrew was talking non stop. Aaron was not falling asleep, but was actually starting to whine because Andrew wouldn't give him a turn with Andrew's special bear. Why could these children not just go to sleep? I tried the stereo again for a few minutes. Then I started yelling (always counter productive): "Children! It is bed time. Go. To. Sleep." Then I realized that this was ridiculous. And then Andrew informed me that he had to go pee. So we stopped, and he peed. I decided to check if Aaron needed a diaper change. I discovered that he was soaking wet. He had spilled his tea all over himself. So we had to do an entire clothes change.

We started the car, and instead of yelling, I sang to them. Then I talked about the sunset we could see on the horizon. And encouraged them to fall asleep so that they could see daddy sooner. And guess what happened? In a little while, they both fell asleep peacefully. No crying. No fussing. Just a calm end to a long day.

And I realized that this was a microcosm of many of our days. So often I get caught up in my agenda and forget that I need to tune in to what my kids are saying. I think, "Why will these children not settle down?" instead of taking them to the park, because I would rather clean the kitchen. I wonder, "Why is everyone so unreasonable this afternoon?" instead of remembering that we didn't eat much lunch and they have not had a snack or a drink. I tell them to go play with their toys when they really just want to nibble on a carrot while they watch me make supper. I want them to be distracted by the radio so I can drive home as fast as possible. I end up frustrated and annoyed simply because I am not keeping the needs of my children clearly in focus. I am not tuning into what they are trying to tell me.

Certainly, there are days when they just wake up on the wrong side of the bed, or days when I have to get things done and have little time to give them more than the basic attention they need. But how many other days do I simply get stuck in my plan, and forget that these are little people with little plans of their own. And that sometimes, they are little people who need help, or comfort, or an adult to show them the way. And that the adult they need is me.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Picky, picky?

My youngest son has all the markings of a picky eater. There are things that he likes (chicken strips, fries, yogurt, cereal, applesauce and anything bread) and things that he doesn't (pretty much everything else). There are also things that he can't eat due to allergies (eggs, soy products). I met with a nutritionist a while back to figure out how to solve his eating dilemma (to me this was a dilemma). The biggest thing that I couldn't figure out is that he would not eat any veggies and very little in the way of fruit. If the fruit is dried (raisins, apricots) he's fine with it. If the fruit is pureed (the many varieties of applesauce) he's fine with it. If it is in any way shape or from of its natural state, it is so offensive to him that you would think I was asking him to eat a rat sandwich rather than a banana or orange. He loves pancakes, add berries to top the pancakes? He will not touch them until the berries are removed. As far as veggies go? Forget it. I did work around this one with my first but he would always eat a spoonful at least per meal. This little boy? I'd have better luck getting a hippopotumus to walk a tightrope wire.
So as much as some people would say this is cheating, I hide food within food he likes. I dice, I puree, I mash and combine. I'd rather he get the nutrient one way or another than face Grand Kitchen Battle 2009.
There are foods that he likes that naturally lend themselves to more foods he tries to avoid. Spagetti sauce is great - he gets some beef, tomato, and red pepper in that. Pancakes are a great place to add as well: pumpkin, apple, squash and blueberries are all wonderful added to pancake batter (just not all at once). Smoothies are a tasty treat that can have virtually any fruit and veggie you desire. My friend Jen has a wonderful recipe for smoothies with Spinach (and her kids have no idea). Trail mix is another tasy snack. Bulk food stores have all sorts of dried fruit (kiwi, apricot, peaches, pineapple and raisins) that you can add to nuts and cereal pieces. And let's not forget the beauty of muffins: zuchinni, pumpkin, fruit - the varieties are endless.
I do continue to offer everything that we are eating to him. I want him to be familiar to all sorts of food (even if he isn't actually putting it in his mouth). The nutritionist had a wonderful story that she told me about a lady that she knew who had travelled to South America. There was an evening where she had been invited as the guest of honour to a banquet. Unfortunately for her the menu consisted of local cuisine. Local cuisine that she had no intention of ever eating. Everything was edible. Everything was considered a delicacy. Everything was completely not North American. Cockroaches anyone? Manners dictated that she at least take the food, which she did. She started eating things she knew she could handle - seasoned flatbread, that sort of thing. And she watched everyone else eat. As the night went on, she became less disgusted by what was on her plate. At first she just started to poke at it a bit. A little later on, she took a piece and held it close to her mouth. She eventually popped a little of it inside, just to taste. Step by step and very slowly, she ate one. Sound familliar? As much as what we eat is normal to us, our little ones see everything as brand new. What may look so appetizing to us, may be a cockroach to them. They may play with it, try and figure it out, or reject it outright. They may get to the point where they put it in their mouth only to spit it out. A few may actually start to eat it. But each stage of discovery eating is just that, a stage. There are many, many stages that happen from a piece of food on a plate to consuming that food in outright agreement. The next time your child is being picky, think of the cockroach and don't force it on them. Goodness knows that our culture has enough food issues as it is. If you are really concerned that your little one isn't eating well, track their food consumption. What, when and how much are they eating over a cycle of a few days? They may be more nutritionally balanced than you ever imagined.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Midnight Panic

Last night I awoke to the scariest sound ever, my youngest son was trying to get a breath and struggling to do so. It sounded like choking, he was crying and drooling everywhere. Just like that panic alert set in.
My husband and I got to him at the same time (my husband was still up, it was just midnight). Both of us have our first aid/CPR current so we knew that as long as he was crying, his airway wasn't completely blocked, but we also knew that this wasn't right either. I took our boy, my husband took the phone and dialed 911.
We couldn't see any obstruction and had no idea what was going on. He had been perfectly healthy and happy going to bed 4 and a half hours earlier. Fortunately, the firefighters (yes, they got to us first) were there within minutes and the paramedics were not far behind. As soon as they heard his choking noises they knew what the culprit was, croup.
I remember reading about croup, but this was our first experience with it. If you haven't ever heard it before it sounds like the scariest thing. Your child is struggling to breathe and making noises that sound like a seal barking. Our boy was also gag-coughing, as if he has something caught in his throat (like a cat with a hairball).
We've learned a lot about croup in the last 24 hours. It is a viral infection that causes swelling near the vocal chords. It can and does come on as quickly as that, in the middle of the night, which is scary for both parents and their child. Croup often hits children under 5 as their airways are quite small.
Both the doctor in the emergency department and the paramedics were quick to reassure us that although croup is common among children, never hesitate to get your child seen. Croup can become serious and the earlier it is diagnosed and treated, the better. Our son was given a dose of ventenlin in the ambulance, which helped his breathing. He was also given a dose of corticosteroids at the hospital, which counteracts the swelling. The rest of the things that can be done to treat croup can be done at home. They include:
-using a humidifier in the room
-staying calm, and calm and distract your child - use a story, favorite video, rock in the rocking chair and speak softly to your child - crying only makes the croup cough worse - the paramedic noticed Elmo on my son's jammies and started to talk to him about Seasame Street which got his attention and eased his crying off
-take a walk in the cool night air (bundle him up in a blanket)
-offer fluids, including soups and freezer pops
-hold your child upright - the doctor told me it wasn't neccessary for him to be propped up while sleeping, but being held upright when he's coughing will help ease the cough
-sleep in the same room as your child so that you can get to them quickly and hear what is going on (croup coughs often happen in the middle of the night - our son is camping out in our bed for the next few days just in case)
*note - cough medicines do not help with croup and should not be given, most medicines are not reccommended to be given to children under 6 anyway
Signs that are troublesome and show that you need to get your child seen (or re-seen) include:
-funny whistling breathing noises (both in and out struggling for air)
-high fever (often fever accompanies croup, but anything over 103* F or 39.7*C is too high)
-showing the ribs when breathing - breathing too hard
-drooling, difficulty swallowing
-starts to look blue
-you cannot get him to calm down and the struggle for air is becoming worse
*call for help immediately if any of these things are happening
The doctor told us that croup runs its course in about 5 days and that the 5th day could be the worst. In my son's case it was caught early enough and mild enough that it probably won't develop into anything serious, but again, he wanted to reassure me to bring him back if it did get worse.
I did call his daycare to let them know. Croup is semi-contagious so it may run through the daycare centre. Our daycare manager called public health who told her that as long as he wasn't running a high fever and was mostly better he could attend daycare. It's always good to let your child's daycare, caregiver or school know if they pick up any illness, just in case. Most care centres and schools have a health policy for each kind of illness so you want to make sure that you are following their guidelines (you don't want other little ones to run ill).
I was extremely impressed with everyone we saw last night, from the firefighters to the paramedics to the nurses to the doctor. Everyone was so wonderful with him. They knew that this was a scary thing for a 2 year old to be going through and they were so gentle and kind to him. Often, we don't take the time to thank those who do their job well and these people really were fantastic, so thank you!
To learn more about croup check this out:
Mayo Clinic: Croup

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

Who fed me from her gentle breast
And hushed me in her arms to rest,
And on my cheek sweet kisses prest?
My Mother.
~Anne Taylor

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mommy Survival 101

Just as I was exiting the haze that is the first six weeks of motherhood, I recieved a phone call from a co-worker of mine who was also on maternity leave. She was looking to start a mommy group and was I interested in coming by to her place? Absolutely. The afternoon that followed was one of immense enjoyment. There were a total of 8 new mommies and their babies that attended that first afternoon. As we sat amongst fruit trays breastfeeding our little ones, I relaxed, a lot! I realised that I wasn't alone. What happened that afternoon was truly amazing to me. One by one we started to share was this new adventure called motherhood was like. We started to trade stories of sleep deprivation and share tips on how to get out of the house for an hour. We started to warm into a really nice comraderie.
Out of that one afternoon a mommy group was born. Every 2 weeks we would meet at one of our places with a little bit of food and a lot of laughs. Some days the group was fairly large (about 10 mommies with their babies) and other days it was smaller (3 mommies with their babies). There was no pressure, just come if you could, bring a friend if you wanted and enjoy the little breather.
Our baby group lasted a year. The numbers began to dwindle as our maternity leaves expired, but out of that group some good friendships were born. My son (turning 5 this summer) loves to see pictures of baby him with one of his baby best friends (who is still one of his best friends).
Motherhood (particularly new motherhood) can be a lonely place. If you are used to being out in the work place, the change to staying home can be abrupt. As much as you may enjoy the break and adore you new son or daughter, the longing to see grownups can be great. What is wonderful about mom and baby groups is that you already have a common ground to meet on. It's lovely to know that someone else cares about things like proper feeding, nap times and baby smiles.
There are 2 kinds of mom and baby groups that I have been a part of. The first is the one I just mentioned, created by one of us, meeting in our homes. The second was one coodinated by a family resource centre, run by a paid employee open to the community. I enjoyed both, they were a great time out for me.
Pros of the 1st kind of group:
-we were brought together by pre-existing relationships so there was little (if any) baby bragging and comparing amongst us
-we already knew we liked each other
-we kept it low pressure about attending
-rotated the host so it wasn't just on the shoulders of one person
Pros of the 2nd kind of group:
-consistant day and time of meeting
-set set of rules
-centre organised snack and activities
-activities for toddlers and preschoolers (craft, story and song time, games)
Cons of the 1st group:
-because there was no pressure about meeting, sometimes we didn't meet (schedule conflicts)
Cons of the 2nd group:
-meeting parents that you don't know so you have to mingle to get to know people
-other parents' discipline (or lack thereof) may get on your nerves
-more baby development comparing
-may have a drop in fee
-groups are larger (less intimacy)
The most important thing about a mommy group (for me) was the chance to meet with other moms. You can start to build a support network for each other. And when you are new mom (or even not a new mom) that network can be so valuable. What kinds of things do you look for in a mommy group?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Dealing with Death

My mother-in-law passed away when my youngest son was 3 weeks old and my oldest was 2 and a half. I did a lot of reading (which took a lot of digging) as to how to best explain to my son what happened to Nana. Death is something that we in North America don't handle very well. We know we have to deal with it at some point in our lives, but we really don't want to. We don't want to think about it, because thinking about it often makes it too real.
Of course with death being such a final, yet foreign concept to us, explaining it to a child can be difficult. We really need to be careful with the language that we use to our kids. For example, many of us will use the words: 'putting the dog to sleep' when we put down our dogs. We, as adults get that. For a kid that could be very traumatic. Kids are so literal. Sleeping is sleeping and here we have just told them the dog is sleeping. But they know that the dog never came back. Well, what does that tell our kids about actual sleeping? Or telling our child that we 'lost' Aunt Sylvia. "When will we find her?"
Some people (myself included) have religious views on heaven and afterlife. Personally, I take the thought of my mother in law being in heaven as a comfort. Some people will tell a child that God loved so and so so much that they wanted them with them in heaven. That's not how I explained it to my son. I didn't want him to develop a fear of God taking those that he loved away from him, or, being afraid that God would take him away from us.
I think the best approach you can take is to just be direct and use the real words. Very simply, "Nana died". They make take this with a shrug and go off and do their kid thing. They may have questions. Either reaction is valid. Remember kids often don't 'get' death. They aren't being indifferent on purpose. They aren't being gruesome with their questions. They are just being kids. You may have to tell them more than once as things come up. Your child may ask you why you are crying. Tell them the truth. "Mommy is sad because Nana died". They really don't need to know more than that.
"Why" is often a question that they will ask. They don't need any unneccessary details. You don't need to go into great details about cancer or car crashes or whatever it was that caused the death. You may wish to say that so and so was very sick and their body stopped working. Tell them what they need to know in words that are kid appropriate.
You also may need to tell them many times. Kids forget and they don't understand it. Don't take it personally. I know that you are going through the grief process yourself (which is never easy) and the last thing you want to hear is, "Can we visit so and so"? Again, you just have to be gentle and firm. "We can't honey, because so and so died which means that we can't see them any more" (If you do have a belief in heaven this is also a good oppourtunity to add: "one day, we will see them in heaven, but until then we can remember them in pictures and stories").
Kids will also be affected by many different kinds of deaths: the death of a pet (no matter how small) could hurt them just as greatly as the death of an aunt. They can also be affected by deaths that they see in the media and in movies. Kids hear the news that we listen to. They may ask about a little girl in their city who was killed. They may be genuinely upset at Mufassa's death in the Lion King. Emotions are honest reactions and it is healthy for kids to express these feelings, without us brushing them aside. (How many of us cried at Beth's death in Little Women? - an honest emotional reaction to a book)
You may need to be prepared to talk about whatever death your child has encountered for years afterwards. This is normal and healthy too. We all still think about people (and pets) that we have loved and lossed. We have memories that we need to hold on to, so do our kids. So if my son has a need to talk about Nana (or 'my Nana who died' as he puts it) then great (even if it is sometimes hard for us). We need to take the time to remember her and the life that she lived. So does he.
Whether or not your child is small (as mine was) or a little bit older when they have a death to deal with, we need to help them deal with it. I know my sister-in-law faced these same questions with her then 14 year old and took a very similar approach. Open, honest with terminology that was appropriate.
Whether you are reading this because of something you are going through now, or tucking away this advice for use at a later time I hope you find it helpful. I empathise with you because it isn't easy, but you will get through it and so will your kids.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Parenting is easy...when you are not a parent

I had one of 'those' conversations this week with a dear friend of mine. She's newly married and looking forward to starting a family. As we are both teachers we see a lot of kids who are the results of both good and bad parenting. We happened to be discussing nutrition in children. And, I'm afraid to admit it, but we see a lot of poor nutrition choices. Kids who exist on a variety of chips and chocolate and rarely see food in its natural state. And as the conversation turned to 'when I have kids...', I began to smile. You know the smile. It's the smile of 'I remember those days when I could speak so firmly on what MY children would or would not do'.
MY children would be good eaters.
MY children would never have a meltdown in a grocery store.
MY children will use their manners.
MY children will not push other children.
MY children will clean up their toys when first asked.
You get the picture.
AHH those days of what MY children will and will not do are a nice little memory now. The factor that I didn't take into consideration is that MY children are their own beings.
I didn't know that MY child would not eat fresh fruit.
I didn't know that MY child would get tired and bored in a grocery store.
I didn't know that MY child would grow into a little copycat of me that thinks they are always right.
I didn't know that MY child would have to learn impulse control just like the rest of us.
I didn't know that MY child would be indignant at being asked to stop playing to go to bed.
Now I do feel at this point I need to clarify. I also do not agree with feeding a child a diet of chips and chocolate (and yes that's a true story), but my kids are not the little health nuts I would like them to be. It's also true my youngest won't eat fresh fruit, but he does eat fruit itself, just in another format (cooked, dried, in muffins...).
Parenting is a challenging journey. I believe most parents do the best they can with what they know. I also know that kids are just little people who are depending on us to shape them. It is our job to instill morals and manners into them. We are responsible to teach them about healthy choices. We are responsible to guide and nurture them. When we decided to have that little one around, we decided that we should be a parent, not just in name, but in action. We live in an increasingly permissive society and I don't think that it is having a good effect on our kids. Just think of this, how often do you see a talk show with topics like this:
Teens out of control!
Help, my kid is a brat!
Fix my deadbeat son!
A lot right? More than we should. I think what has happened is that we have lost a sense of a support network. We used to live in a society where parents having relatives around them were the norm. Women would come together at socials and things like sewing circles and be parents together. Today we are so busy, busy. We often live away from relatives. Kids live between 2 homes. And we are tired and stressed and I think we just give up and give in because it is easier. The demands kids make of us are just one demand too many. I know I'm generalising here, but I do think there is some truth to it. How do we connect with others? I have a friend I haven't seen in a long while that was so taken aback that I would call her to make plans for the upcoming weekend a day or two before. She said that she does everything via email now and that her schedule was so booked that maybe she might have an opening in 2 weeks. Really? This is how we meet? We make appointments just like we are meeting with our lawyers and doctors? I know more about some friends of mine now that I did because of Facebook posts. I'd like to take a look into this idea of connecting with other parents and see where it goes. We need to support each other. That's one of the reasons that Jill and I started this site. It's nice to know that you aren't alone that someone has walked this path before you and survived. Kids are kids and they deserve the best that we can give them. Let's take a stand for parenting, for having standards and living up to them.
"Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children; now I have six children, and no theories." ~John Wilmot

The Exciting Event Calendar

My oldest son is a very emotional, sensitive child. He often needs time to mentally prepare himself for any change that is going to take place in our weekly schedule. If there is a field trip at school, if we are going on a trip, if someone is coming to visit, or if Dad is going to be away for a few days, he needs to be forewarned and have time to frame the event in his mind, ask questions about what will happen and think and talk through possible scenarios that concern him. Once he has done this preparation, we can have a happy, fairly calm special event or activity.

Because he is only four, he does not have a good grasp of time. So telling him about the event he needs to get prepared for also causes anxiety. He does not know when the event is going to happen, and will ask me every ten minutes or so, "Are we going now? Is it time yet?" days before the event. He will be on edge when we are going about our daily routines, constantly wondering if the event is going to happen while we are at the grocery store, or while he is asleep. To calm this anxiety and teach him about time, I have started to use an exciting event calendar when we are looking forward to a change in schedule.

Basically, it is a little series of drawing that looks like this:

We are going to Winnipeg on Thursday so we can attend a family wedding. This is what our week looks like prior to that event. I draw the boxes for the days of the week, arranging them like calendar to get him used to the structure of a regular monthly calendar. I tell him what we are going to do each day (if there is an event) and he tells me what to draw. The simple pictures are his pre-reading symbols for the events of the week. Each morning we cross off the previous day, so he knows what day we are on.

He can check the calendar by himself and double check with me, without asking me every five minutes when we are going to go to Winnipeg. He can review in his mind: "We are going to church today. This is not the day we are going to Winnipeg." "Today we are going to playgroup. We will go to Winnipeg tomorrow." This helps to stop him from getting overexcited, and be able to construct a picture in his head of the events of the week. This, in turn, helps all of us to have a more peaceful week, and a calmer transition to our holiday, visit, or special event.

What do you do to help prepare your children for exciting events?



We'd love to hear from you. Email us with your feedback, suggestions and general blog love at