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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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Recent Posts

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.  &#...

How to help a 1-year-old having a tantrum

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validating feelingsI absolutely love Positive Discipline! Click here to visit Positive Discipline.  If you haven’t checked out any of their books or website – do it now! They have the best advice (in my opinion) for how to help behaviors in a  way that is kind AND firm at the same time.

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Positive Discipline Tool Card about Validating Feelings

Today, I want to share some ideas on how to help a 1-year-old when they are starting to cry or scream about something they don’t like (using Positive Discipline’s “Validate Feelings” tool card.  I don’t know about your child, but mine cries often over very small things.  If he could talk, he would likely be saying things like, “I don’t want to sit there”, “I hate putting my coat on”, “I don’t want to get in the car”, “I’m not sitting in this high chair”!

Since he can’t talk, he screams or cries.  Recently I read something that totally helped me understand this better.  Crying is most of the time a form of communication for children 1-2 years old.  It doesn’t mean you have to stop what you are asking them to do (unless it’s a cry about physical pain), or give in to their plea for a cookie, etc .  Just try to translate what the cry really means into words.  So, if he is crying, I stop myself from responding “don’t cry about this,”, because that would be like saying, “Stop telling me you are frustrated with this.”

Instead, seek to hear their cry as a way to communicate frustration and then respond accordingly with empathy and firmness:

“Oh boy. You are frustrated that we are getting shoes on right now. You do not like putting shoes on. I hear that (while child is crying screaming). It’ ok to be frustrated.  Take a minute to just be frustrated about that. I’m here.  I’ll give you a hug. I don’t like doing things sometimes too.”  Meanwhile, I pause the putting-on-shoes process to just connect with a  hug, cuddle and soft voice, hoping my calmness can wear off on my child. Usually this works to calm his cries screams within 1-2minutes.

In a moment of screaming 1-2 minutes can feel like FOREVER, but it’s really worth the wait.  It’s not that long at all when you think of the lifelong benefit you are giving your child, helping him to feel their feelings are valid and helping them understand and manage their emotions.

Empathy has the power to really take the sting out of most difficult situations.  It doesn’t make it perfect. The child isn’t going to smile and say, “Ok. I am completely happy now about getting my shoes on”.  BUT, they are more likely to be able to move past the emotion to a level of calmness where you can distract them with something else to focus on and move forward.  Once that initial flare-up has died down, I then say something like, “Here. Could you hold my keys and be a helper?” (while then putting the shoes on).

Hope you see great results!  

**Disclaimer: Remember, this is not a 1-time fix.  This is a tool to use over and over again throughout the tantrums years for better results towards helping your child understand and manage their emotions.  Expect to repeat these steps 5-20+ times a day (depending on the day!);-)  Would love to help you trouble-shoot if you aren’t seeing it help your 1-year-old’s tantrums.

Amazing morning/bedtime routine chart

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Morning and bed-time routine chart
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This is NOT your typical morning/bed-time routine chart, and that is what I LOVE about it!  When I recently was interviewing an 11-year SAHM, Kerry, I noticed this genius idea on her wall and begged her to be able to share it.  I have never seen a chart used like this and I LOVE it!  If you have children that are school-aged, this is a must-have.

What you need:

1.  A visual clock.  Kerry purchased this awesome Teaching Hands Clock (from www.difflearn.com), which is specially designed to help children understand what hour and minute it is.

2.  This awesome 2-sided routine chart to help your child know the steps needed to get out the door (or to bed) on time!

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Bed-time routine chart

The genius in this chart includes the following:

1.  Pictures used to demonstrate each activity help the child to clearly visualize what needs to happen while the red minute hand is in that section of the chart.

Morning routine chart

Morning Routine chart to help children self-monitor so they get out the door by 8am!

2.  The chart can stand as the “bad guy”, so parents are less likely to get in a power struggle.  It may just be semantics, but it’s less conflict-inducing when you say “What does the clock show you need to do next?” or “oh no! You only have 3 minutes left before the clock will move on to Brush/floss time.  Can you beat the clock?” It comes across so differently than when you say, “I have told you 3 times already.  Get your PJ’s on!”

3.  It is helping your child to understand time better as they walk through and are aware of how fast 5 or 10 minutes goes by.

Reversible morning/bedtime chart

Super cool reversible morning/bedtime chart!

This clock is designed to be reversible.  So, you create a sort of hook on top of your clock with a twisted up wire hanger, and then you simply hang up the Morning Routine side in the AM, and flip it to the Bed-Time Routine side in the PM.

For those of you who aren’t feeling crafty, or just don’t have the time to make one of these yourself, I’m gonna work on making a template you can download.  Until then, here is a template of a Routine_chart_for_kids my sister used with her 4-year-old.  Here is part of the chart, but I recommend downloading it to see the whole chart.

Morning Routine Chart

 

 

 

Interview with a SAHM – Kerry

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11081375_815214358548101_2414692197837436727_nI spent a lot of time struggling with my identity. I never thought I fit the role, but of course, looking around, no one does! Every mom I know is doing amazing and interesting things, we’re just doing it in bits and pieces interwoven with our daily lives instead of having any separation between what we do and who we are.

Reversible morning/bedtime chart

Super cool reversible morning/bedtime chart!

I’m so excited to introduce you to an mentor of mine, Kerry! She has been a SAHM for 11 years and shares with us some lessons learned along the way.  As a new SAHM, I LOVE to glean advice from those further down the path.  As a side note, Kerry shared this super awesome reversible chart that hangs around her clock, to improve their morning and bedtime routines. This invention of hers has totally taken the hassle out of most mornings/bedtimes.  So genies, don’t you think?!  I’ll share more about that this weekend:-).  Now…to meet Kerry!

Q) What was your career before becoming a full-time parent, and tell us a bit about your family.

A) I was working at the Early Childhood Project, a statewide organization that supports the career development of child care workers and preschool teachers. I gave workshops and collected data on early childhood professionals, basically teaching the teacher. I had just finished coordinating the state Early Learning Guidelines (what children ages 3-5 need to know, understand, and be able to do) and had introduced them around the state hugely pregnant with my first child. I now have two children, both boys, who are 11 and 7 years old. My husband owns his own manufacturing business, and we have lived in Bozeman since 1996.

I don’t think I would have reached the profound emotional connection with the world around me without them. I like how they have stretched me and changed me.

Q) What do you miss most about life before kids? & What are some of your favorite things about life with kids.

A) The thing I miss most about life before kids is being able to do things in the manner and order that I would prefer. There’s no more waiting around for inspiration to tackle a project – it either needs to get done or it doesn’t. I can’t feel my way through my days, I now plow through them. My favorite thing about having kids is that life is infused with a depth and meaning it didn’t have before. I think I could have been happy without kids, but I don’t think I would have reached the profound emotional connection with the world around me without them. I like how they have stretched me and changed me.

Every mom I know is doing amazing and interesting things, we’re just doing it in bits and pieces interwoven with our daily lives instead of having any separation between what we do and who we are.

Q) What’s the hardest part about being a SAHM (stay-at-Home Mom)?

A)  It used to be accepting the fact that I WAS a SAHM. I spent a lot of time struggling with my identity. I never thought I fit the role, but of course, looking around, no one does! Every mom I know is doing amazing and interesting things, we’re just doing it in bits and pieces interwoven with our daily lives instead of having any separation between what we do and who we are. I am much more content with the idea of expressing myself in the world in a variety of ways and not getting compensated for it. Now the hardest part for me is feeling locked into all the ways I’ve made myself indispensable around the house. With my boys growing up, I need to consciously start divvying up responsibilities a lot more evenly, and allowing myself time to cultivate my own interests.

It was more than a year of sleepless nights and non-stop days, and there were so many times I envied my husband who got to leave the house to work for those 8 hours every day.

Q) Have you ever thought, “Gosh, I can’t do this?” and why?

A) Yes, absolutely! When my first child was only a few months old, he was diagnosed with severe food sensitivities, and then, probably partly because of his discomfort, he developed very difficult sleep patterns. I remember leaving a coffee shop crying when a friend of a friend told her “It’s been more than four months, he really should be sleeping through the night by now” and mine was a couple of months older than him! It was more than a year of sleepless nights and non-stop days, and there were so many times I envied my husband who got to leave the house to work for those 8 hours every day. I really had a breakdown when my oldest turned 5 and my youngest was still a toddler. With one heading off to kindergarten, I felt that my role as mom was losing some of its importance, and yet I still saw no end in sight to the diapers and naps and tantrums ahead of me. I couldn’t find anything to celebrate about this transition and it hit me hard.

Q) How do you get through the tough moments/days? What helps you the most? 

A) It was so hard when the kids were very young, because it seems like you’re living just one long, unending day, but now I do have the luxury of promising myself that tomorrow will be better. I am also much better about asking for help than I was before, and lowering my standards when it’s obvious that nothing’s going to go right on any particular day. Ordering in doesn’t feel like the failure I used to make it out to be. In general, I am much more forgiving of myself.
Don’t try to get everything “right” because there is no such thing. Listen to your inner voice and approach your life as a whole person, knowing that when you show up as your whole self your children will benefit…
Q) What advice would you give to a new ex-career mom regarding how to most enjoy (or get the most out of) being a SAHM?
A) Don’t try to get everything “right” because there is no such thing. Listen to your inner voice and approach your life as a whole person, knowing that when you show up as your whole self your children will benefit, even if that means you need to get out and do something for yourself, or volunteer/do work for others, in order to feel like yourself. Your kids don’t need a perfect parent, and they don’t need your physical presence as much as they need YOU to be fully there when you’re there. And understand that you will change and grow just like your kids, so don’t just grab for anything, allow yourself time and space to find what makes you hum!

To hear more from Kerry, check out her recent TedTalk from Tedx Bozeman!  Go to this link: TEDx Bozeman 2015 on Livestream & Scroll to 4:06:45.  You’ll be glad you did!

Using the awesome resources at your Library

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At our local library's children's area

At our local library’s children’s area

If you haven’t yet – I strongly recommend you check out your local library to see what kinds of activities and resources they have.  I just want to give a quick shout-out to the public libraries, because they have been an awesome source of enjoyment and learning for my 1-year-old.

The Bozeman Public library is where we spend at least 1 day a week (and sometimes 2-3).

Our favorites things about the library include:

  • Books and Babies (a song, story and play time with about 30 other kids and their parents).  I’ve seen this in a library in Seattle, too, so I think it’s in many libraries around the country.
  • Awesome toys in the children’s section of the library.  The best part is my son gets to play with a giant train set, a block set of about 100 blocks, and a giant collection of toy animals – BUT I don’t have to find some way to store them in our house! Double win!
  • He gets to socialize with other kids that are his age, younger and older.  Since he is with me all day, every day, he lights up like the sun every time he gets to be around other kids.  It’s a great space to get to be with other children without having to enroll in  a class.
  • Free parenting classes offered throughout the year by local experts.

The best part is that EVERYTHING at the library is FREE!  So, I hope you check yours out soon and that you enjoy it as much as we have.:-)

Children's library

Having a fun trip to the library with Grandma

Ways to keep my 1-year-old interested in reading

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My son has always loved books.  We have tried to encourage this from a very early age by having books be equal to toys.  We have books that work as toys in the bath tub (these are great!), books in his bedroom toy shelf, books in the play space of the living room, and even books in the car.

BUT…I noticed a few weeks ago that he just stopped gravitating towards the books.  This is what his reading area (in the living room) looked like.  I thought the set-up was cute, but I think it was too cluttered for him, and he couldn’t pull out the books very easily.

image“Maybe there are too many books”, I thought.  So I tried an experiment. I had seen a really cute Pinterest post on Montessori Themes that had a few books based on a theme, for the children to explore.  Then, those themes were rotated each week.  So, instead of having  a big variety of books, I divided the books into themes and put out just 1 theme (with only 4 books).  Here were some of the divisions:

Animal Themed books

Animal Themed books

Night-time Themed Books

Night-time Themed Books

Number books

Number books

Number books Montessori

I added numbers to the caterpillar book

Animal themed books

Animal themed books

And they were a hit!

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My son, gravitated to the reading area (unprompted) when he woke up from his nap. *Because of course I was only able to do this during nap time.:)

So, I totally encourage you to try this out.  I am storing the themes that are not in use  in a basket on our book shelf.

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We now rotate “themes” every 1-2 weeks and it’s working awesome to keep my 1-year-old interested in books!

These days are the greatest

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Since I have shared some of the really difficult days, I want to share some of the best days too. 🙂imageimage

Today we enjoyed one of the first days of spring, here in Montana. We got to play at a park with friends in the m orning, and then went to a duck pond and another playground in the afternoon. Lots of laughter and smiles filled the day, and my heart feels so full of gratitude for the fact that this is my life.