Lazy Day

May 27, 2010

Evidence of a much-needed lazy day…

This is how Calvin was dressed until Daddy came home from work.

Lazy playtime.


Tantruming Toddlers

May 27, 2010

I felt like the cards were stacked against us today: I am sick, Calvin is cutting his canines and lately he has a propensity to meltdown and lose control.  Despite all of that, we ended up having a great, slow, lazy day. He is at such a great age; easy to care for and fun to interact with. He’s still a little bit of a baby but rapidly becoming a big boy. And with all of these life changes come a stage I had been anticipating with a bit of dread: Tantrums.

Indeed, he had quite a few tantrum-type episodes today – so many that I lost count (5? 6? more?). I have been surprised to discover that this experience is not that bad and not the big deal that I thought it would be. I try to recognize the tantrums for what they are: outbursts of emotion that are beyond his control. I try to remember that he is just a little guy in a big, frustrating world. I know that he will someday learn other ways to deal with his emotions, but in the meantime I need to let him vent his frustration.

I have found that the best way to deal with his tantrum is to sit nearby quietly and wait for it to subside. I don’t leave him while he has his moment; I can tell that he wants me there. I don’t touch him; he has made it quite clear he doesn’t want that. He doesn’t want me to say anything, either. So I just wait. It subsides after a minute or two, and then he usually has a smile on his face and he often runs over to hug me.

Code Name: Mama has written about tantrums lately and her thoughts are very similar to mine. In Riders on the Tantrum Storm, she says:

We do not believe in punishing tantrums. Children are learning how to navigate the world – oftentimes, their emotions overwhelm them. A child in the midst of a tantrum feels powerless and out of control. Punishing tantrums does not “teach” a child anything, other than the fact that they cannot trust their deepest feelings to their caregivers.

I try to remember how I feel when my emotions are out of control. I may be well beyond the toddler years but this is definitely something I still experience from time to time. When I am upset or venting to my husband it would certainly be counterproductive for him to leave the room or to yell at me or otherwise “punish” me. Often I just need to get it out and then to calm down. I don’t think that a toddler’s experience is too much different.

Recently I decided to ditch my shampoo and conditioner. When I first heard of the “no ‘poo” movement some time ago, I was under the mistaken impression that people were actually no longer washing their hair at all. Unfortunately my initial understanding (and accompanying reaction!) meant that I remained ignorant of the wonders of being shampoo-free! That all changed when I watched this video about creating your own “shampoo.” Go watch it!

Benefits of being shampoo free:

  • It’s pretty cheap.
  • It’s non-toxic (this was a big reason for me).
  • It means that I am reducing my plastic consumption.
  • I really think my hair looks better. It was dry and dull before and though I tried a few different products, nothing was helping. This makes sense in retrospect – shampoo strips hair of natural oils.

Things I didn’t expect:

  • I really like washing my hair with baking soda – it gives it a deep-clean feeling.
  • I sorta miss using conditioner – the ACV works just fine, but doesn’t have the slimy feel of conditioner.
  • It was very easy to make! The hardest part was finding suitable plastic bottles – I ended up finding some old water bottles that work just fine. Now I keep baking soda and ACV in my bathroom so I can quickly make more as needed.
  • I didn’t expect that I would go through it so fast. Since it mostly water and doesn’t lather much at all, my supplies dwindle quickly. But it’s no big deal – the ingredients are so cheap and it’s so easy to make.

If you need a little more convincing, check out Simple Mom’s article on How to Clean Your Hair Without Shampoo.

Final thought: This was such a painless transition. I should have done it a lot sooner.

I was at the library today when I saw an NHTSA ad proclaiming that “3 out of 4 car seats are installed incorrectly.” Wow! I am not a carseat expert, but I’ve become somewhat passionate about carseat safety. A few common problems I have seen when I am out and about:

Turning a baby or toddler forward-facing. I know, I know – it’s tempting. Now that Calvin is 20 months old, I have certainly been tempted myself. But the bottom line is that rear-facing is far safer and your child should remain rear facing until he reaches the weight limit of the car seat.

Not paying attention to the shoulder straps. The straps should meet high up on the chest – near the armpits. I try to remember that the clip should go in-between the nipples. This is really important – otherwise the child may fly out in a crash.

Using a booster seat too soon. Boosters shouldn’t be used until the child reaches 40 lbs. Many also recommend that a child also be at least four years old.

Last but not least, when installing a new seat, get it checked out by a certified inspector. I did this with both my infant seat and my convertible seat. Now that I have seen how the seats should be installed, I feel comfortable installing them myself when needed. I recommend calling your local fire department – it took a few tries, but I was finally able to find an inspector near where I live. And it’s free!

Some of these safety concerns are not governed by any laws. It’s up to you to make sure that your child is safely installed in his seat. Don’t be too quick to imitate what you see others doing – it may not be what is safest for your child.

More Carseat Basics.

Today was in such sharp contrast to yesterday! We had such a wonderful day together: playing in the yard in the morning, Greek Festival in the early afternoon, a long nap together, rounded up by a lovely dinner and an evening at home. Perfect! I needed this time of sweet connection with my boys.

The Greek Festival at a local Orthodox church was definitely the highlight of my day. My husband and I (and Calvin, too) are in the process of becoming Orthodox so I think we enjoyed it much more than we would have otherwise, particularly the tour of their amazing church. I didn’t bring my camera – which is too bad, as the church really was stunning. These pictures are from my cell phone:

Pantocrator icon

Eating baklava ice cream

My sweet boy

It has been one of those days… Two failed nap attempts. A toddler who constantly wants to nurse.  The perpetual sounds of cranks and whines. There seemed to be nothing that would please him.

I kept it together pretty well, but late this afternoon I finally lost my patience. I missed the mark when it came to my job as a mother. It kills me to not be the epitome of the gentle, attached mother that I want to be (and that I usually am). But today (and really, all week) things have just been off track. He is extra whiny and needy, and my patience is stretched thin.

On days like this I could use more ideas for grounded, gentle and patient parenting. A few things that work for us so far…

What helps me set the tone:

  • A prayer to start the day, and intermediate prayers asking for God’s mercy throughout the day.
  • Beginning the day with a playful/joyous spirit.
  • Really focusing on him for the first hour of the morning (after my coffee is made, of course!)
  • Getting enough to sleep. Lately it’s been hard for me to go to bed on time.

What helps me try to get both of us back on track (or what helps me keep my sanity):

  • Taking the time to pay 100% attention to him for a while. Read books, play outside – whatever he wants is what we do.
  • On the flip side, letting him watch TV. Sometimes it is either this or I might jump ship.
  • If my husband is home, I am a big fan of letting them have one-on-one time. This is definitely a win-win for everyone.
  • Take a trip to the mall or Target. Take a walk. Water the plants together.

What are your ideas? If you have older kids, tell me: does your patience grow as time goes on? I sometimes wonder if I would be more patient if I had more perspective on just how young Calvin really is. I hope I don’t come off as sounding horribly impatient; my husband always tells me that he is amazed by my patience with Calvin. But when that patience cracks… boy, do I hate that.