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Life with Three Kids

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011 by:

For those of you who don’t know, I have a four-year-old, two-year-old and a newborn (3 months). My morning has been almost movie-like so far so I had so share a small part of it.

Just after breakfast and still sitting around the kitchen table, my two-year-old Beckett told me he had to poo (we’re just starting potty training). Stella (the newborn) was on my lap and my oldest son Bode was playing with her. Always the multi-tasker I started to take off Beckett’s pants to “save time” before I put Stella down to take him to the washroom. As I leaned over, Bode leaned into Stella’s tummy (she’d just eaten), making her projectile all over me and Bode. Bode was so grossed out he immediately started gagging and threw up his breakfast all over the floor. Beckett couldn’t wait any longer to go to the washroom and proceeded to poo every where. If it wasn’t so funny I may have cried.

Three showers and a bath later my sons are playing in the basement and Stella is asleep on my lap.

Parenting or Partnership?

Sunday, March 27th, 2011 by:

If you asked me to choose between my kids and my husband, I’d tell you it would be impossible. I’m a egalitarian when it comes to my family. But sometimes my actions speak louder than my words.

When my four-year-old crawls into bed in the middle of the night, it’s daddy he pushes to the side. When my two-year-old jumps up and down when my husband is trying to tell me about his day, my attention always strays to youth. The hungry newborn? She wins every time. Although my heart says one thing, my actions often say another.

A few nights ago a girlfriend told me it’s (referring to life with preschoolers) a bad time for relationships. Sadly, I have to agree and wonder, when will it be a “good” time again?

According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, parenthood trumps marriage for most of the population. Am I a dreamer to believer one doesn’t have to trump the other and I can one day divid my attention equally?

With Kindergarten Comes a Loss of Control

Thursday, February 24th, 2011 by:

I signed my son up for kindergarten yesterday. I was overcome by the fact that this is when parenting is really going to get tough.

Sure my four-year-old sleeps through the night–most of the time. He can get dressed on his own and is not nearly the picky eater he once was. But up until now, I’ve been able to control everything from who he hangs out with to the activities he does. Once he heads to the BIG school, that control is gone.

Fights over broccoli seem to pail in comparison to befriending the school bully or becoming his subject–or, worse, becoming the bully. Kindergarten marks the transition from guardian to mentor. Once our children start school, parenting becomes more about the people our children will be and less about the basics of life.

Most of me looks forward to the next steps we’ll take together. And even though my son’s only four, I’m confident he has the skills to make smart, well-informed choices–most of the time. And, when he doesn’t hopefully I’ll be able to provide help and advice he’ll listen to.

Even Valentine’s Is All About the Kids

Monday, February 14th, 2011 by:

I’ve never been a fan of Valentine’s Day. I’ve always found it contrived and commercialized. Of course, if my guy happened to plan something really special for the 14th I wasn’t about to complain.

Once I had kids, however, something changed. I wouldn’t dream of ignoring my children and not getting them a little something special. I started to get into the kitschy cards and gifts. My boys and I had so much fun making valentines for everyone in their class.

But when it comes to my husband, aside from an extra morning kiss, the day held nothing different.

This year, I decided I should refocus on the meaning of Valentine’s. It’s a romantic holiday–why not make it one?

Unfortunately when I told my husband this he responded that he thought I hated Valentine’s and had already booked an important tennis game for that night. Couldn’t we just celebrate another night? I even bought him a gift (however, as of 10:00 am this morning it has still not arrived). Maybe Valentine’s day as a romantic holiday isn’t supposed to happen for me?

Still, as kids take up more and more of our adult lives I find it more important to make alone time for me and my husband whenever possible. Why shouldn’t Valentine’s take centre stage?

For this year, it seems I may have to settle for an alternative night out (or in). But next year, I plan to plan ahead and make sure I refocus on what Valentine’s is supposed to be. A time for busy couples to show each other how much they care.

Photo courtesy of anankkml

Should Strollers Be Banned?

Thursday, February 10th, 2011 by:

As if being a parent wasn’t hard enough, now there’s a Facebook page dedicated to banning the very objects we use to tote our tots around. What’s next? Is someone going to suggest we don’t let our children out of the home until they turn 18?

Personally I love the argument that today’s SUV-style stroller is simply too big. Would you like to see the pram my mother toted me around in? It was huge! And it only held one baby. I have three! Big strollers are nothing new, but the intolerance around their “inconvenience” to passersby is.

Much of the recent debate started on January 2, 2011 when a Halifax, N.S. couple were told they could not board a city bus with their six-month-old twins because their stroller was too big. The bus was almost empty to boot.

The father, Mohammed Ehasan, a PhD candidate and part-time instructor at Dalhousie University, filed a complaint with Nova Scotia’s Human Rights Commission and parents with plus-size prams everywhere are up in arms.

Personally, I’ve never been turned away because of my stroller, but I have dealt with some dirty looks and found it next to impossible to navigate Toronto’s anti-wheeler subways and streetcars. Can’t we all just agree that being a parent is tough and give parents everywhere a break?

It’s a Girl

Friday, January 7th, 2011 by:

I first wrote about the biorhythm gender prediction method in November 2009. We had decided to try for a third and since we already had two boys, we would have loved for our third child to be a girl.

Someone told me about PlanBaby.com, which believes that your hormones are linked to the polarity cycle of the ovum membrane in women.

We all have positive, negative and neutral charges that alternate monthly. Positive charges are likely to produce a girl, while negative are likely to produce a boy. When the charge is neutral, either sex has an equal chance.

I figured it was worth a try and I ordered a year long calendar to see which “girl” days coincided with my periods of fertility. No wonder, my side of the family always had boys. According to the calender, there were exactly two days out of the entire year where I would have a girl.

I didn’t know how much faith to put in the calendar but figured it was worth a try. Why not start trying to have a third on the only girl days of the year?

We got pregnant on a “girl day” but I was still certain I was having a boy. All the old wives tales pointed to it. I was carrying low and out, and my baby’s pulse was low. Almost everyone (including my OB-GYN and countless strangers) told me a boy was on his way.

Well, much to our surprise, we had a daughter in December. I can’t say for sure whether it was the chart or luck, but given the chance, I’d opt for the biorhythm method again.

A Year in Pictures

Friday, December 24th, 2010 by:

There’s something about the end of the year that makes us want to partake in rituals. For me, one of the things I love doing is looking through photo archives of the past year. The joyous occasions make me want to celebrate again, while the tragic ones make me feel even more blessed for what I have.

Few pictures have affected me the way this Haiti photo by Damon Winter for the New York Times has. I don’t know any parent who wouldn’t be destroyed by this image of of a father grieving over the body of a 10-month-old daughter, tossed in a heap after the January earthquake.

I invite all of you to share links to photos that have affected you. Joyous or tragic–they are reminders of how precious life is and how we need to be thankful every day for the blessings we have.

Damon Winter photo for the New York Times

Damon Winter photo for the New York Times

Infant Athletes

Friday, December 17th, 2010 by:

It’s easy to laugh at Modern Family’s gay dads as they panic over getting their precious Lily into the right preschool, but how far is this sitcom scenario from reality? I enrolled my boys almost a year in advance at my preschool of choice and was still on the wait list in August (luckily they both made it in).

Our fear of having our offspring “fall behind” extends beyond ABCs and 123s. The latest drive to junior perfection is to turn our two-year-olds into mini sports protégées.

Increasing numbers of babies are being groomed as athletes before they can walk. Enrollment is skyrocketing in sport ball, swimming and gymnastics for the sub two-year-old sect. Videos such as gymtrix and Athletic Baby start athletic training and teaching sports fundamentals as early as three months. But is all this time and money worth it?

While I have to admit I’m guilty of enrolling both my boys in sports programs, I do it more for the socialization aspect than any hopes they’ll be the next Sidney Crosby. Having recently had my third, my stamina for attending skating and soccer is diminishing. Maybe it’s time to go back to old school playing. Allowing children to explore their environment and let them master walking before we start Olympic training.

Parenting sensitive kids

Monday, November 8th, 2010 by:

Highly sensitive kids can be wonderful, but challenging to parent. They are emotionally delicate in many ways and as parents we worry about their ability to cope in the world with everyday struggles. Often these highly sensitive children are very intelligent and many are gifted. Chances are, you have a sensitive kid if your child:

  • tends to give up quickly and melts down when they can’t master something right away
  • is often highly anxious and struggles with peers
  • has tactile issues, such as getting very upset over the feeling of a bump in their sock or a tag in their shirt.
  • has big reactions to tastes they don’t like or overreacts to voices, reporting that people are yelling at them when they are not
  • has trouble sleeping and self soothing
  • is dramatic and gets incredibly upset, and is difficult to soothe
  • tends to be worry about things before they happen

It can be incredibly frustrating to parent such a reactive child. It is very difficult to help them learn to calm themselves and organize their big feelings, but very important that they learn to master this ability and develop resilience.

The parenting bond, as much as you love them, can get frayed by this overwhelming behaviour and can cause us as parents to withdraw, become frustrated or try to constantly talk these kids out of their feelings. This then adds to their anxiety and emotional disorganization. Here are some things you can try:

1. Try really listening to your child’s feelings and try to understand her before you correct her behaviour, even if those feelings seem unreasonable to you.

2. Spending extra time cuddling and connecting with sensitive kids will help a great deal.

3. Be empathic, but neutral, when they are upset, getting mad at them will only make the situation worse.

4. Try not to do too many activities in a day. These kids tend to get overwhelmed and meltdown when they have had enough stimulation.

5. If they continue to have difficulty, talk to your paediatrician. Your child may benefit from a few sessions of cognitive behavioural therapy to help give them a sense of control over their emotions.

Jennifer Kolari is a child and parent therapist, and founder of Connected Parenting. For more information you can contact jennifer at info@connectedparenting.com or visit www.connectedparenting.com.

The Newest Celeb Parenting Craze is a lot about Nothing

Thursday, November 4th, 2010 by:

Designer clothes and lavish parties still reign in many celebrities families, but more famous families are

Jennifer Garner enjoys a quiet walk with her daughter.

Jennifer Garner enjoys a quiet walk with her daughter.

choosing to get back to parenting basics.

Celebrity parents such as Tobey Maguire, Jamie Lee Curtis and Helen Hunt have embraced a back-to-basics parenting approach known as Rie.

Rie (pronounced wry) is short for Resources for Infant Educators and has the goal of raising more peaceful, competent and self-aware children.

Rie honors the child’s struggle, by keeping toys and life simple. Busy days filled with classes and errands are avoided; instead parents try to engage their child in simple pleasures and narrate what is going on around them.