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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.  &#...

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!
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A day of slow parenting

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Have you heard of this new movement called “Slow Parenting”.  I was first introduced to the idea a month ago when a mom wrote an article on opting for a “Slow Parenting” summer.  The idea was intriguing.  The main concept is to slow down in this very busy planned world we all live in.  It’s an opposition to overscheduling and overstressing a child with too many “enrichment” classes/activities.

Just 2 weeks ago, the Boston Globe posted an article about slow parenting, and it sums up this counter-cultural approach so well:

“I encourage parents to take some time to just watch their children, whether they are playing, doing homework, or eating a snack,” [John Duffy, a clinical psychologist and author of The Available Parent] says. “Take a moment to drink them in. Remember and remind yourself how remarkable your children are. That pause alone, even if momentary, can drive a shift in the pace”…

“These days when everyone is so busy, we need to be intentional about making space for family time…” Family time, says Contey [cofounder of Slow Family Living] is different for all of us. “You might say, ‘we’re all here on Thursday mornings, so let’s make a leisurely pancake breakfast’; or one night a week take a walk in the dark before bed. Something like that can feel really special and the kids will remember it as they get older”…

So, I focused on this idea yesterday and slow parenting was fantastic!image1 image2

We went to 1 outing in the morning for 1/2 an hour and besides that we just  went at Chunky Monkey’s pace, enjoying things big and small around our house.  He played with some “typical” play things, like play dough and finger paint.  But the best part was probably when he was just exploring our house without any agenda (and I was along for the ride!).

He sat on the stairs for a really long time, practicing turning around and moving up and down.  I was right there for safety, but normally I would have missed all of this because I just want him to go up or down and get where we are going.  He wandered in and out of our closet, bringing out various pairs of mom/dad’s shoes for me to “put on” him (I use that term loosely).  And he went in small areas of the room to “hide” from me and giggled hysterically each time I found him.  I hung on every giggle wishing I could somehow mentally record the sound and never forget it.

It was SO much fun! I found myself really actually present with him.  And I realized there are many moments in a day where I am just trying to have him be busy so I can talk to a friend, on a play date.

I also enjoyed the opportunity to fully take in the little man he is becoming.  I really got to observe how his large motor coordination is developing and marveled at the things his eyes and hands were eager to explore.

If you take a day, or a season, to really focus on slow parenting, I’d love to hear about it.:-)  Looking for other summer ideas? Check out this article on 4 Reasons to Garden With Your Young Children.

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.

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!

Maybe I should listen to my husband….

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confessions of a 1st time momHere’s another confession.  So, the other day I’m cutting our son’s nails.  Yeah.  If you have done this with a 1-year-old, you probably know what a wonderful chore it is, huh? So, I’m trying to get through the wiggling and squirming and trying my best to stay upbeat about the whole process while holding my son’s hand so tight his circulation was probably getting low.  “It’s ok honey.. Mommy is just going to get a few more fingers and then we will be done.”  clip.  And then… he let out a giant wail.  “What?”  I look down and I have accidentally caught his pinky finger as I was clipping the nail beside it, and it is dripping blood.  That’s right.  His FINGER got clipped.  Oh boy.  That is not what I meant to do.  I immediately rush to get a cloth and my oh-so-helpful and thoughtful and caring husband says, “You know. He seems to hate getting his nails clipped the last couple of times.  Do you think we should try using a nail file?”

I immediately flash him daggers via my eye balls and say, “That is only for babies.  His nails are too hard for that now.  I’m doing the best that I can.  You are absolutely welcome to try the files if you want to” (slyly thinking in my head that I will get sweet revenge when his unrequested advice doesn’t work).

I hand him the child and he comes back with the nail file and sits CM on his lap.  I agreed to help hold CM’s other hand, so he won’t try to rip the file out of Daddy’s hands, but all the while I am just waiting for this to fail. And…

It didn’t.listen to my husband

He actually giggled the whole time because it felt like the nail file was tickling his fingers, and the job got done just as effectively (umm…ok. Maybe even more effectively considering no blood was drawn in his approach).

So, I am just saying.  Maybe… sometimes… I should listen to my husband. *But if you tell him I said so, we will no longer be friends.;-)

 

 

4 Tips to Stay Centered as a Parent

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centered as a parentI think it is super important to take a mommy “vacation” for some self-care, if you have a support system that will help you to do this.

3 weeks ago I took my first trip away from my little “Chunky Monkey” (1 year old), to have  a girl’s weekend with my mom and some friends at Westminster Woods Camp and Conference Center.

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Couldn’t say it better myself!

1st off, I have to give a shout out to “The Woods” (as we call it), for being one of my favorite places in the Universe.  It is a peaceful adorable place in the redwoods of Norther California, where I have made memories since I was 2 years old.  I used to go there as a summer-camper, then I went as a high school volunteer, and then as a college summer staffer.  So, going back is like returning “home”.

The speaker at this Women’s retreat was Sheila Denton of the Unique Self-Coaching Collective.  She is amazing! And since you couldn’t all be there to benefit from her amazing ways of leading us all into a more centered place, I want to share some of her wisdom with you.

1.  She asked great questions.  Great ones for anyone to ask themselves.  Take 1-3 minutes to let your pen free-flow to complete each of the following statements:

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