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Flora

Author: FLORA

I am a post-career SAHM (Stay-at-home mom), living in Bozeman Montana. I share stories and ideas from parenting with a Montessori and Positive Discipline inspired perspective. Also, I LOVE DIY projects and finding great ways to use thrift store or hand-made toys for my little ones.
Learn more about why I say I'm "Just" a stay-at-home mom.

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Decide What you Will Do (To Motivate Children to Clean-up)

Today, I want to share how this tool can be very effective in motivating a toddler to clean up.  &#...

Gardening With Young Children

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If you haven’t tried gardening with your children, I really recommend it for a number of reasons.

Why garden with your children?

1. Gardening is a great opportunity to BE together.

Last year a neighbor of mine said she had looked over into our yard with great affection as she saw me gardening with the children.  She said, “As my kids get older, it’s just so easy to have them out playing with friends or in the house on their own. I forget sometimes what it was like when we played like that together.” I have made some of my very best memories with my own mother while working in the soil of her garden together.  We have had deep conversations, laughter, and fun, while weeding and planting together.  My sister and I both find weeding to be a stress relief that we inherited from our mother.  What a great way to model a healthy way to decompress at the end of the day.  So, I treasure gardening an opportunity to spend time with my children, side-by-side, talking and often laughing as we dig and plant and harvest.

2.  It gives your children an opportunity to do purposeful work.

This is a principle you can read more about, within Practical Life activities in a Montessori environment.  In summary, “Children love to contribute”.  When you garden with your children, it is work they can do, which is incredibly meaningful to the Earth, the family, and their own food/snack options.  I recommend giving them tools to work in the dirt with you.  They can use sandbox rakes or spades like this:

or even more “grownup” type tools like this shovel that my 4-year-old loves:

3.  Gardening increases your child’s interest in eating vegetables.

If you are searching for ways to have your kids interested in carrots, cucumbers, sugar snap peas, or even lettuce, growing them together is a fantastic way! My 4 year-old son even started to eat Kale raw, as he found it was so exciting to cut the large leafy greens himself (great chance to practice using scissors!), washing in a colander, and chomping them right away.  To help matters, we also have a large area with strawberries, which I encourage everyone to try.  Here in Montana where it’s hard to grow many things, strawberries seem to grow like a weed, and the children LOVE to harvest them!

4.  Gardening can be a way to teach Math and Science.

Last year we did a bit of a science

Harvesting and eating colorful carrots with my 4 1/2 and 2 1/2 year olds

experiment, making a hypothesis at the beginning of each month regarding how many strawberries we thought we would harvest that month.  Each time we harvested the berries, we would count them and add them to our tally on the chart in our kitchen.  I think our July tally on our chart was in the realm of 500!

Enjoying sugar snap peas, just picked with their own hands.

If you would like more ideas about the benefits of gardening with your children, check out this great article by PBS: Gardening: How it Affects Your Child’s Brain, Body and Soul.

Stop Trying to be Perfect

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Recently I attended a Circle of Security workshop for parents, and I read the book “Raising a Secure Child”.  It really rocked my world (in the best way possible). Here are some of my “take-aways” that have been helping me enjoy parenting so much more:

1. Let Go of trying to be perfect.

Some have suggested we only need about 30% success in being attuned to our child, in order to be a “good enough” parent (which research has shown will help our child thrive).  How refreshing! You don’t have to try to be perfect?! I usually expect about 80-100% out of myself – leaving myself often disappointed and frustrated because I am not perfect. (Darn it! It’s hard to be human!) “Good enough parenting is actually what our children need from us. This is backed up by research (“Raising A Secure Child” is a book dedicated to explaining this). Good enough parenting is when we can hold on to two things: first, that we are willing to hold onto our children’s best interests and second, that we will mess it up… probably pretty often.” – https://www.circleofsecurityinternational.com/p/parenting-blog/can-less-than-perfect-really-be-enough-

Further, this book struck to my very soul when it said:

“We can’t say this often enough: Modeling perfection and the pursuit of it does not promote healthy development.  Pressuring ourselves to always get it right… creates an anxiety that our little ones can’t help recognizing.” – p. 37

So, let’s all take a deep breath together and exhale any drive for perfection you are holding onto right now.  Accepting ourselves (and our children) as imperfect beings, doing the best we can, and being willing to reflect and repair breaks – THAT is actually what’s best.

2.  Behavior is Communication

When your child is misbehaving, they are trying to tell you something that they don’t have the words or social-emotional skills to express effectively.  The best thing we can do is get curious, not furious (term from John Summers-Flannagan).  Look for what is under the surface of the behavior, and you will be more effective in addressing the behavior.  Often the behavior is communicating an attachment need:

  • Comfort/Safety
  • Encouragement to explore the world
  • Help with organizing one’s feelings/emotional experience

“Behavior is merely an expression of a child’s needs.  Behavior is a message – a message about the attachment needs that are hidden in plain sight.” (Raising a Secure Child, P. 19) 

3.  Stop searching for the “right” strategy, and tune into your inner wisdom.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many parenting techniques that I love! I utilize tools from Positive Discipline every day.  However, I learned from Circle of Security that, “The key to making good use of (parenting tips/tools) is to be equipped with the confidence to make your own choices about which advice to follow and how to follow it…  The Circle of Security is her to keep you in touch with your innate capacity for wisdom and love.”  – p. 41

I hope these refreshing suggestions will help you along your journey of parenting, today.  I’d love to hear your thoughts/questions!

 

The need to move

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13220575_10154206908649345_6153058951171844569_oIn the past month my little wonderful two year-old has been more two than wonderful.  Having a new little sister arrive has undoubtedly been influencing some of his behaviors, but I also think he has just hit a stage of development were he has a deep need for lots of large motor movement.  After I had a couple rough days in a row with him, I spent an evening trying to “get curious, not furious” (as a mentor of mine, John Sommers-Flannagan, once said).

I do this often with my son when I feel like we have come to a “stuck” place in our relationship (or in my parenting).  It’s about reflecting and trying to think through what common factors seems to be related to the troubled situations, and what I haven’t tried yet.  In this case, I started realizing that my son’s challenging behavior was coming on the heels of 1 week sick (& stuck in the house sitting on the couch a lot), and another week of rain (again stuck in the house a lot).

13220699_10154206908579345_1434936265952087414_oSo, we decided to have as much outside and large motor movement activities as possible for the next few days to see if it impacted his behavior.  It did!

We took an afternoon to throw rocks in the river, search for bugs, and chase dogs that were nearby.  It was a blast! AND, he was his best version of himself that afternoon and evening.  So… this was a great reminder for me that kids this age NEED lots of time to move.  We will be continuing to make room for as much outside time as possible!
13112781_10154206908644345_4094752367654717865_o

Then there were 4

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Well, it’s been a long time since I have written a post.  Here is why!

12798885_10154010020769345_8677281884039405487_n

13006595_10154166753634345_4404095432263065258_n In March we welcomed baby #2 into our family.  Little Eva has already stolen our hearts.  She came into this world at 1pm on a Saturday – giving Dad a full weekend to enjoy her before he had to go back to work.  Thank you Eva!

Life with a 2 year-old and 2 month-old is quite a whirl wind of exhaustion, patience-testing, and joy….all at the same time.  The first month was particularly challenging as I faced those days and nights that feel like they will never end.  I called my brother and sister crying, begging for some magical secret on how to get my newborn to sleep. I was T-I-R-E-D!

At 2 months of age, she is now waking up only 2 times a night (on average), and has had a few nights of sleeping 6 hours or more in a row.  Those nights are much appreciated by mama. Keep it up Eva.;-)

As for the 2 year old.  Well….. we have seen better days.  He is definitely beginning to show the signs of jealousy that he has to share his mom and dad with this new little person.  Outwardly, he couldn’t be sweeter with Eva.  He wants to hug and kiss her every chance he gets.  Inwardly, though, he is obviously struggling because his behaviors have really turned very challenging.  It feels like he is pushing every boundary that is set – again and again and again x 2,000.  Trying to use all my Positive Discipline tools while exhausted from sleep deprivation is not always pretty.  I must admit, I have had my most challenging moments in parenting yet.  I have said things I am NOT proud of, and disciplined WITHOUT kindness.

Why am I sharing that? Well, I am betting that a lot of parents can related.  Mistakes-blogIn my parent coaching, I have always told parents that it is our job to try to be “good enough” parents – not perfect parents.  I have defined that by saying “If you are remembering 20% of the parenting tips you have learned 80% of the time…you are doing great”.  Well, now I have to swallow my own medicine and forgive myself for the 20% mess-up moments.  I have been living them lately BIG time.  But I do believe in the idea that mistakes are wonderful opportunities to learn.  So, here’s to a lot more learning!:-)

 

Distract & Redirect: The key to managing toddlers!

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Distract and redirectWith toddlers (children under 3), Distract and Redirect is one of the most powerful parenting tools you can use!

Children at this young age are often interested in doing things that they can’t really do appropriately.  Ie. They want to touch baby sister, but even when you show them 3 times how to do so gently, they might still slam their hand down over baby’s face.  Taking time to teach the appropriate skill is important (ie. “Here is how we can touch sister gently…” – and show them and guide their hand to do it gently).  However, some children at this age might not have the muscle control or self-control to be able to follow through appropriately.  There is so much still developing in their little neurons that they may not fully understand the speed and location of their touching sister is not the same as when mom demonstrated.  In this case, after a few tries, it is totally okay to distract the child and redirect them to another activity that they can do appropriately.  This might mean redirecting to a toy, an activity, or a different way to interact with sister: “Hey, could you bring over that toy for sister?”  All are effective ways to use distract & redirect with a toddler.  It’s also the perfect alternative for using “No” too often.  Instead of “no”, you can just focus on distracting and redirecting the child to what they CAN do.  I will write some more on this soon because it’s been on my mind a lot lately.

Read more about this great parenting tool: Distraction & Redirection here.  And check out the great Positive Discipline Books that are available to help you learn and use similar tools. Cheers to your happy toddler parenting!