Monday, June 25, 2012

Gettin' Creative

Happy Monday!  I hope everyone had a good weekend! We went to the Art Fest on Saturday morning and Saturday evening John and I went on our first date since Adler was born! It was a wonderful two hours!  We went out to eat at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants and then we went grocery shopping.  You know your life has changed when you have free time and all you want to do is grocery shop at your own pace without kids!  :)    

I've been meaning to post these for a of the most challenging parts of our day while John is entertaining Sloane while feeding Adler.  The first few weeks she was happy to sit down and watch Curious George or play with a new toy out of storage but those activities aren't getting the job done anymore. So, two weeks ago I started flipping through all my Family Fun magazines and all those ideas I've pinned on Pinterest but haven't actually used and finally put them to work!   Here are some pictures....

Chalk paint: Equal parts corn starch and water with a few drops of food coloring! So much fun!

Play Doh- Flour, salt, water and food coloring.  Ours was a little sticky but she didn't care.

A note about the sticker on her belly....The sticker belongs to an outdoor plastic toy that John put together last weekend.  She found them while we were setting up to play with play doh and put them all over her body.  I didn't think anything of it because she puts stickers on her arms and legs all the time.  Well, apparently these were like super adhesive stickers and terribly hard to get off of her.  We eventually got them off by rubbing baby oil all over her body and pretty much just ripping them off while we tried to distract her with TV.  She was mad at us for awhile but eventually got over it.  I'm curious to see if she ever tries it again.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A PSA from the Brees Family

If you've been following the last few posts you know that John and I have been laying down the law with Sloane and today was no exception.

We went to the Art Festival this morning.  This will be our third year in a row and we (or at least I) just love it.  There is tons of stuff for kids to do and I enjoy looking at all the different works of art.  This year has been especially fun- my good friend Amanda's sister, Lindsay was chosen as one of Iowa's top emerging artists!

Anyways, before we even entered the grounds we clearly spelled out what we expect of Sloane, which is always the same two things-stay close to Mom and Dad and follow directions. She knows if it doesn't happen we will go home. Sloane did a really good job for the first hour we were there but as nap time creeped closer she started to lose more and more self control-which is to be expected. The final straw came when John asked her not to touch the paintings and she did it anyways.  As I mentioned in previous posts, we can't let the little things slide because those eventually turn into big things, so without hesitation we grabbed her hand and headed back to the car.  I'm sure you can imagine the tantrum that followed but we continued on doing our very best not to show emotion even though we were both a little dissappointed we had to leave, especially since we had talked about getting kettle corn before we went home.  :)

I have to say, I think we're getting pretty good at the discipline in public part and I'm totally fine with the way things went down this morning but the part that gets me......  People STARING!  I know she's crying and screaming, "I want to follow directions, I want to be a big girl." but STOP staring! Some people look at us like they've never seen a toddler meltdown (they should be so lucky)!  And I know, I KNNNOOOOW some are judging....thinking they could do it better or they would do it differently.  Even thought I'd be willing to bet those people don't have kids the staring still irks me.  I just wanted to look at them and say, "We're working on it buddy! So unless you're going to offer us a hand- stop staring!"

With that said, my little peanut is still the apple of my eye and even though we're working through some tough times together I love her dearly.  I mean what's not to love about this.... :)    

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Have a New Kid By Friday: Day 4 & 5

While I'd love to tell you that I sat down and read the entire book, I didn't.  Who has time to read?  I suppose if I stopped surfing Pinterest and watching any of the Real Housewives I'd have time but I'm not giving either one of those up any time soon.. so instead we just skipped to the ever so handy back of the book that addresses specific concerns like spitting, hitting, siblings, etc. 

The verdict?  I hate to discount the book in any way but really it has all come down to staying consistent, following through and giving her any undivided attention we can.  Those three things are of course recommended in the book but I probably didn't need the book to tell me that. 

It sounds easy but when staying consistent means enforcing consequences even when you either a. know it will break her heart or b. probably isn't really that big of a deal NOW but could become a big deal LATER- it's hard.  I hate to take away activities or toys especially I know when she's really sorry and even more so when I like the toy or activity! :) But being sorry isn't enough- it's the "hurt" that comes with having to leave the park or putting away a fun game because we weren't following directions. 

Another piece of the puzzle is giving her lots of attention when we can.  I feel terrible when she asks me to come play with her and I can't (because I'm feeding, changing, soothing, etc Adler) and it's no coincidence that during those times she starts to test my limits.  So my solution has been to play with her even when she's playing well by herself every chance I get and if I can't play with her I've been getting really creative with some actives (I'll post pictures later) that she can do by herself.  And again, sounds easy but that means less checking email and reading magazines for mama.  It's ok though- her improved behavior is well worth it!   

I know if people were to watch us in action they'd probably think, "Geeez!  Relax..." but if I know one thing about Sloane (and most kids) if you give her an inch she will run right over you and make you pay.  It's better for everyone to keep her in line even with the little things.

I hate to even say this for fear of jinxing it but I've even thought a few times, "Wow, what a well behaved girl she is." Of course, it's not all the time but she's so good about saying, "please, thank you, excuse me, may I..." and there have been a handful of time she has picked items up without being told!

And finally, since Sloane and Adler can't say to me, "Mom, you're doing a great job with us, keep up the good work.  We appreciate it." I've realized there are a few things that need to happen everyday (or most days) that make me feel like I'm doing a good job.  These are in no particular order....
  • Exercise--it honestly give me more energy and patience to deal with whatever comes up later in the day....I think this was one of the missing link a few weeks ago but now that Adler is 6 weeks I can take them both to the nursery!
  • Clean--something, anything!  My house is by no means spic and span but having stuff a little picked up helps.
  • Doing something active with Sloane
  • Reading books with Sloane--she used to love books and now it's like pulling teeth to get her to listen to a book.  We're working on it.  
  • Having a plan for dinner-- ideally, we'd eat together and I'd like to be the one to cook it.  I'm not a cook but I do feel more "mom-like" when I do and I really feel good when we eat together.  
  • Shower-- Hey, it can be hard to find time some days!   
If those 6 things can happen then I'm a happy mama!  And, if you want an extremely happy mama throw in a Target trip in there too.  :)

Thanks to everyone who has given John and I support the last few weeks.  We've really needed the encouragement.  Throw "adjusting to two (or more) kids" on the list of things parents don't talk about until you ask them and then they tell you how horrible it is. FYI also on the list- breastfeeding and potty training.  Hopefully someday we'll pass the support onto our kids.   

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Have a New Kid By Friday: Day 2 & 3

As I wrote about in my last post, John and I started implementing some new discipline techniques with Sloane on Friday and I have to say by Saturday we were already seeing some improvement!  We took the divide and conquer approach to errands- John took Sloane and I took Adler.  John said she was "as good as one could expect a toddler to be" at the bike shop.

Of course we did still have a few meltdowns but we'd be fools to expect perfection.

One of the ideas the author suggest is only asking once.  If children don't respond then you take care of the problem for them.  The kicker is though  next time they ask for something they don't get it.  For instance, yesterday I asked Sloane to help pick up her toys and instead of nagging her to do it and then getting upset when she didn't do it I just did it myself.  About two seconds later, she wanted a popsicle and as recommended I told her we couldn't have a popsicle right now.  Of course that was followed with a million "why's" but after she realized she couldn't get a treat because she didn't help she threw a fit and wanted to spill all her toys out again just to pick them up.  :)  She gets its, it's just a matter of us staying consistent.

A problem I'm having though is taking away privileges of hers that I enjoy too.  On Sunday she wasn't following directions and I could feel myself starting to get upset when I said, "Ohhhh!  How sad!  I guess we can't go to the park this afternoon." (which we had originally planned).  As soon as I said that I thought, "Uggghhh why did I just say that!?  That was stupid, now I can't go to the park either!"  I need to stop and think before I tell her the consequences of her behavior.

 All in all I'd say we are headed in the right direction,       

Friday, June 8, 2012

Have A New Kid By Friday: Day 1

I know everyone has a bad day at the office now and then but I've had a bad day at the "office" just about everyday this week and when your "office" also happens to be your home no one is happy.

I hate to rag on her because I love her dearly and she is such a blessing to have but Sloane has me wanting to cry, yell, scream into the pillow, cry again, beg her behave and finally throw my hands up and wave the white flag all in a matter of minutes. And John isn't far behind me either.  She's officially out of control.  Or you could say we're out of control.  Either way it's had me questioning if staying at home is what is best for her, me and the rest of our family.

I hate to even say this at risk of offending my working mom friends but at this point going to work looks like a much more appealing option then staying at home another day.  I've never had and can't even imagine a job that tests my patience more intensely then this past week has.  I do think it's important to note that I'm well aware that patience has never been my strong point. Of course, I don't really want to go back to work but I feel terrible spending what feels like the majority of my day battling a 3 year-old. 

I know what you're thinking. That it's typical toddler behavior, right?  I would argue that Sloane isn't the typical toddler but even if it was typical toddler behavior it's still behavior I'm not willing to put up with.  She's yelling commands at us, throwing tantrums multiple times a day, runs away out of sight often, has NO regard for safety requests we've made when near Adler (that one really gets to me) and top it off this week she was in time out twice at the gym for spitting and choking other kids. I'm not saying she's the only 3 year-old who acts this way.  I know she's not because I have seen other children behave the same way- they're on Super Nanny. Only joking, she's not that bad but even her teachers at the gym and preschool have noted her amazing, endless amounts of "energy". The only thing keeping me sane right now is John, who is always home on time to give me a break. 

I've taken Love and Logic classes and read multiple parenting books so I'm not a complete dummy when it comes to disciplining Sloane but obviously whatever we've been doing wasn't cutting it anymore.  Knowing of my frustration my mother recommend a book she saw on the news that had rave reviews.  "Have a New Kid by Friday" by Dr. Kevin Leman.  We have nothing to lose at this point so I read the first 50 pages last night and started implementing some of his principles first thing this morning.

It's not rocket science, but I'm focusing on consistency, follow through and only making requests once- no more warnings.  Needless to say it was a rough morning- a lot of privileges were taken away, a few time outs and a lot of tears but she's a smart cookie and I'm sure (I hope) will catch on fast that Mom and Dad are taking back control of the house! 

I'll be sure to keep you updated!