Tag Archives: routine

What is the best present for a modern child?

Here’s a riddle: where hides the best present for the modern child who has nearly everything? To put it short: my children don’t enjoy the sweet small gifts for the new year that I put into their socks at night. They show signs of disappointment if it’s not some shiny model of a trophy tank or a mermaid who solves double integrals. They show almost no interest if it’s a simple thing like a set of color markers or stickers for room decoration – something I would enjoy tremendously in my childhood.

Spoiled? Maybe. But I believe it’s more of a trend, that has to do with the growing addiction to the digital devices: smartphones, tablets and so forth.

Every time a problem pops up, I like to analyze, look for reasons and come up with a smart and elegant solution and feel very smart. But this time I admit – I only see the phenomena but no way to get rid of it.

Children of the digital age – my children, in particular, obviously have different set of priorities than I used to have in my childhood around 30 years ago. I’m more than OK with the digital age but yet – I still read thick paper books, appreciate moments of total silence boredom? and make sure I do not become too addicted to the smartphone. But how come, that my little people have lost a great part of appreciation of material things called toys?

This is a cry into the void. Yet, I have come up with observations and ways to turn the old-fashioned toys into best presents.

Listen to your child – she will tell you everything

Children often tell us directly what kind of presents they wish for. It’s parents, who systematically choose to ignore or forget. Busy, tired, distracted – there are many reasons why moms don’t hear the messages that are poured directly into their ears.

I make a conscious effort to hear them. I struggle to create a space somewhere between the nerve cells of my brain, sort and store the most important information. It ranges between casual after-school conversations to serious evening talks about global social issues. It’s about getting used to being there when your child talks. (Even if that means answering with an “uh-huh” because you are too tired to stir the muscles of your jaws). Then you both may find yourselves in a better place of mutual understanding.

Ask them

Yes, the element of surprise will disappear. However, asking a direct question will save the guess work and will ensure you give them something they genuinely crave for. By the way, it often happens that kids forget they had told you what they had told you, so the element of surprise might reappear if you wait long enough.

Surprising or not – the conclusion:

Despite the said above, once the digital devices are put away for a while, a magic thing happens – my children become children again: creatures happy from just being there at home with their mom and dad. They jump on sofas, mold with play-dough, stand on their heads and write stories (on paper). Plush dogs and cats become best presents again. My straightforward conclusion: it’s us, parents, who allow children to hang an endless amount of time with the devices, because it’s us, parents, who crave for the quiet hours moments. Which means, that it’s all up to the mom – how long can she last (work, rest) without her kids being fixed on the monitor?

mom and children

How to allocate mom’s attention between several kids

 

Having many kids around means mom needs to allocate her time, energy and attention between them efficiently. By efficiently, I mean, that each kid will feel loved and appreciated in their own unique way. Some kids love to talk to their mom, asking questions and listening to long lectures. Other kids like to play and construct, build and create things – being together in the process of making stuff. There are also kids, who just need long hugs and flows of energy without too much other activities going on.

One of my kids is the talking kind. We exchange a few thousands words per day and it does not seem to be enough. I find myself being exhausted of these conversations but,on the other hand, I realize, that this is the way of my kid to get their share of me. Any other ways won’t work as well.

My other kid is the hug-and-play kind, who chooses to stay close while I work, cook, read or knit. Talking is less of a priority, which gives me more space to concentrate on other things while sending rays of mom’s energy at the same time.

Is it that simple? Well, not really.

The interesting part begins when all the kids are tearing their mom apart sitting together each trying to get her unique attention – and my role here, as I see it, is to be able to quickly switch from one kind of attention to another.

The competition for mom’s attention does not end regardless of the kids’ age. I guess it’s something that lasts all the way through and never actually stops, maybe until full adulthood. Not sure I will still be running this blog when I get there, but if so, I will let you know.

Ta-dam! A newborn joins a family with older kids

Every time a new child is born into a family with older kids, mom needs to reallocate her attention, so that the change will not be so drastic. Quite a challenge, I should say. The competition is tough, each sibling is trying to prove himself as best of everything – especially when it comes to helping mom with the newborn. The balance is so delicate here, that I weigh almost every word that comes out of my mouth. Praising one child too much might mean hurting another. Judging or criticizing actions or behaviors might be interpreted in the wrong way given the sensitive circumstances.

Having thought about it for a while I developed my strategy of not simply praising but creating a system of roles and niches.

A winning niche for every kid

Here is a situation from real life:

An older kid helps mom by staying next to the newborn while mom is taking a shower. The middle kid does not really find a way to help and feels being out. Mom creates two niches: the older one is the “top-nanny” while the middle one is the “top-messenger” (delivering messages and items such as diapers, napkins etc. when needed). With this strategy every kid fills a niche where they are on top – beyond feeling appreciated, now each knows exactly what duties and responsibilities are expected of him.

As a bottom line – the delicate balance of attention is not subject to formulas or rules – it’s an ongoing process, a changing strategy, something, that requires live reaction. From my own experience, the niche strategy works best. Each kid fills a space where they feel kings. Each kid is a small rules of its sovereign virtual territory of rights and duties, expectations and rewards. On top of that, of course, there is the great mom’s appreciation, spraying ike an air-purifier above all. 

money saving

3 things I would never buy for my newborn

A newborn means a lot of joy, a bit less (but still a lot) of expenses and even less sleep.

“A lot of people will tell you advice like “sleep when the baby’s sleeping.” It’s good recommendation unless the baby sleeps when you’re driving! “

http://congratulationsto.com/baby_congratulations/funny_new_baby_quotes.php

I have been wondering recently where lays the root of this uncontrollable desire to spend more and more money on our children? Clothes, toys, educational posters, smart devices… are you in the club as well?

So here is the hypothesis:

The act of buying, the act of spending money on another kid-friendly gadget gives us an illusory feeling of satisfaction. Illusory, because we don’t really gain anything in the long run. Does your child really need all the bunch of toys and educational stuff you buy for him or her? How many devices are really being used for good? How many are stored idly somewhere in dark corners of the apartment? How many are you trying to resell on eBay?

Guided by these thoughts, I made a short list of three items, that I, personally, think parents don’t need. If you disagree, you are welcome to state your opinion in comments and I’ll gladly prove why you are wrong confront it.

1. Newborn swing (jumper, bouncer)

Why? Too expensive and short-termed.

Buying something so expensive (around $100 on Amazon without shipping fee) just for a few months use sounds inappropriate to me. Plus, as an experienced mother, I know a child will not really spend a lot of time in this thing. Why? Because all children really want is their parents’ attention. It’s not like you can relax in peace and quiet once your newborn is peacefully playing and entertaining himself in the swing. You will need to spend the same amount of time and energy as you would if you put your child in a regular baby car seat (you know, these semi-car seats intended for home use to carry the baby around) which can be purchased in perfect condition for 5$ on a second-hand market. So why spend $100?

Final conclusion: is not worth the money and is too short-termed for use.

2. Musical potty chairs –

Why? They are more like toys than real potty-training equipment. Some are even annoying.

Musical potty chairs are just another kind of useless toy and is something I can definitely live without saving myself about $30. Kids (well, my kids) got potty trained perfectly well using these regular cheap plastic potties without musical background and cheering sounds. Why do I think this item is unnecessary? Its cost-effectiveness is low if you think about the initial purpose. Plus, if you made a thorough research like I did, and read the cons and the pros for every hyped and branded potty there is on the market, you would find that the cons are not that negligible as they may seem. For example: slippery potty rings (the part where the child sits), music sounds that you CANNOT TURN OFF (unless you take the batteries out or smash the damned thing on the wall), lids, that don’t shut properly, music, that stops working after 4 weeks of use and so on.

Final conclusion: if you want another toy at home, go for it. But remember, that children learn perfectly well with a regular potty (it doesn’t have to be the cheapest plastic thing that slips and moves under your child, but you can find some decent, stable pot that will stay still and keep itself silent).

3. Baby food makers

Why? A simple gadget available in every human’s kitchen can successfully replace any baby food maker.

Ok, I know it may sounds like a revolutionary product that makes mom’s life much easier (ask any grandmother). However, as an experienced mother who raised kids deliberately not buying all these shaking devices, I’ll tell you what makes me step back when I see those fancy electric bottles, cups and blenders:

a. I want my kids to use their teeth and actually chew the food. Steel fork! A primitive great tool to mash and squash whatever is at hand. Here is a great article explaining why I am not the only weird mom one who thinks so

http://tribecanutrition.com/2015/03/textured-food (if the link does not work please let me know in comments).

b. I don’t want to waste time washing the electric device (yes, I know most are super easily cleaned. And still, to rinse a fork requires less brain activity and less movements).

“If you want to make good use of your time, you;ve got to know what;s most important and then give it all you’’ve got.” Lee Iacocca

http://sourcesofinsight.com/time-management-quotes/

I am sure every mom has her list of must-haves and things-she-will-never-buy.

The three items listed here –are my personal choice based on experience of raising several kids. I believe, that it goes far beyond the child’s list and that we don’t really need most of the things we spend money on (another USB? Another pair of shoes? Another book? Another set of clothes?)

It’s not a sin to buy these useless things that make you happy as long as you are conscious of what you are doing, knowing that it’s for the sake of shopping therapy only. As a mother and a woman I am guilty of that as well –buying stuff I don’t need just because I like to take my wallet out, open it, pay and then put it back into my bag. The only thing I am really trying forced to do is to minimize the financial damage and arise consciousness.

Coffee – an energy shot or meditation? Why morning coffee is bad for you.

Don’t get me wrong. I love coffee, and I used to be a coffee addict some time ago. I didn’t stop with it completely but I have substantially reduced the amount of coffee (and all the accompanied sweets) that I used to consume after understanding why it is actually bad for me.

So here are a few points that made me realize that using coffee for refreshment is one big illusion.

First, morning coffee became a routine, a habit, something I do just because I am used to it, even when I don’t really need to be refreshed (on weekends, on holidays, on days when I don’t need to get up early). There is nothing worse than doing something unhealthy just because you are used to it.

Second, coffee usually comes with friends. I don’t mean humans. Coffee’s best friends are: sugar, cookies, muffins, truffles, brownies, candies, ice-cream … you name it. I drink coffee without sugar (proud of myself) but compensate it with sweets (oh, shame on me). Eventually, by doing some easy math, I concluded that coffee makes me gain weight. Too bad.

Third, one cup of home-made cappuccino or latte doesn’t have the slightest effect on my thinking and acting abilities, therefore, I actually need two-three cups to feel something moving in my nerve system brain. Two-three cups of coffee is not that much, you say, but add the sweets, and you get a pretty little lady with some pretty extra weight.

But what really made me change my mind regarding coffee is, that I found that its effect is much more short-term compared to breathing exercises, a bit of stretching, two glasses of cool water. The more naturally you use your energy resources and take them out of your sleepy self, the better and the longer these resources serve you.

What some people say on that –

  • But I love coffee!

So? I loved coffee more than anything in the morning. And I managed to quit. Once you understand that caffeine simply borrows your energy (and whatever is borrowed you have to give back at some point) you may change your mind and replace it, at least, with tea.

  • I can’t open my eyes and start doing anything without coffee!

Sorry, I don’t buy it. Yes, your first week or two will seem empty and endless without the usual cup of brown liquid, but it’s all a matter of habit and understanding why you are doing what you are doing.

  • I just can’t live without coffee.

Ok, make a deal with yourself – one cup of coffee twice a week, in the middle of the day (use tea in the morning instead). You will gradually get used to the idea that coffee is no longer your morning partner.

As a mother, I totally relate to the morning fatigue, crazy sleeping hours, lack of relaxation and the strong desire to compensate myself with something sweet and refreshing at the same time.

But there is no magic – the energy you derive from yourself by using caffeine is taken “in advance”, it is borrowed by you from your own body. And the price I used to pay was double fatigue later on.

Now I use coffee only in extreme situations when I know I need to be super alert. Another occasion to have a small cup of coffee is when you want to meditate over it, enjoy every sip, use coffee not as a quick shot, but as a rare pleasurable delicacy.