Kindergarten Here We Come!

Kindergarten Here We Come!

With school right around the corner, many parents are gearing up to send their growing kiddos to kindergarten for the first time.  It is completely normal that you and your child may be experiencing a lot of new emotions with this big change.

Starting school is a huge milestone for kids. Whether you’re super stoked for the first day of school or busy stocking your car with Kleenex, you can help make the first day a success.

Keep it Positive

Even the most excited of our littles may be a little nervous about their first day.  We don’t need to add to their nerves by sharing ours.  Point out the exciting things that are coming their way.  A whole classroom of potential new friends!!  Recess!!  Lunch in the CAFETERIA!  Not to mention weekly access to the library, music class, art, and PE!

Our kids learn to read in Kindergarten.  They learn to work within a group, to be supportive of others’ successes and mistakes.  They start to hone their social skills.  It truly is an amazing year of growth for them.

We may be losing the baby that starts off the school year.  But we gain this amazing kid that we can interact with in a wholly different but amazing way.

Make it Special

Big days deserve a little extra attention.  Help your new school-ager pick out something special to wear to celebrate for the first day.  Something that makes them feel good and feel happy.  Dressy is certainly not necessary, we want them to feel comfortable.

Make sure your little gets a good breakfast on the big day.  Add some sprinkles to her oatmeal.  Wake up a bit early and scramble him some eggs.  But make sure they eat something.  When the nerves wear off they’ll be hungry.

Take a picture on the first day.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, but try to take one if your little is in the mood.

My daughter Sophia on her first day of Kindergarten with Mrs. Winters. Definitely a superhero teacher!

That picture will be a fun reminder of the first day.  And they’ll enjoy seeing how much they’ve grown too!

Consider adding a mark on the wall to show how big they are on the first day and compare it to how big they are at the end of the year.  Spend 5 minutes to officially “interview” them and record their answers. You can download a free printable PDF with interview questions here.  List of Interview Questions for KidsHave fun! This is all about them.

It Takes A Village

When your little one starts kindergarten, you are adding members to the village that helps to raise your child.  So think of your school and teachers as valuable members of your family.  They are the ones who care for your child when you’re not there.  Your teachers are the superheroes who help grow your kid.  After all, how many of us could manage a classroom of 20+ wildly different kids day after day and still be smiling?  Not me– I’m a small group of kiddos at a time kind of gal.  Definitely superhero skill.

Make sure your little knows you and their teacher are a team.  And if there are any concerns, make a point to talk to their teacher so that you can put together more of the story.

Tell Them You’re Proud

Make sure they know how proud you are of them. Sure, lots of kids start school every year.  But this is your kid’s first year.  Let them know that you love them and can’t wait to see them after school.  That you’re excited for how much they will grow and learn.  Your joy will rub off on them 🙂

Introducing a New Baby

Introducing a New Baby

Few things are more exciting than the introduction of a new baby into a family.  Our hearts and minds fill with images of our children playing together happily.  We imagine the sounds of laughter filling the house and heartwarming family pictures.  But we also worry about how our older children will adjust and what behavioral issues will sneak into our lives.

Luckily, our older kiddos are pretty resilient and there are many things that we can do to help them with the transition.

There is enough love for all of a mother’s children

My eldest daughter was 5 when we discovered we were adding a new baby to our family.  We knew she wanted a sibling and she was super excited about the news.  But as my pregnancy progressed, there were moments where I’d catch her usually glowing smile replaced by uncertainty.

One day while we were looking through baby stuff at Walmart, I looked over and saw that look on her face… you know the one… sadness, confusion, self-doubt.  When I asked her what was wrong, she looked up and me and shared that she was worried I wouldn’t be able to love her as much when the new baby came.  And that I’d be so busy taking care of the new baby, that I wouldn’t have time to take care of her too.  Talk about a sharp kick-in-the-stomach.

But it was also a beautiful moment to understand where our older children may be when we bring a new child into the mix.  Because my daughter was older, she was able to vocalize her greatest fear.  But we need to understand that our younger littles may have the same fears and be unable to clearly put those fears into words for us.

A mother’s heart grows while the baby is growing to make sure there is plenty of love to go around.  So when you see my belly growing, you know my heart is growing too. 

These are the words I shared with my daughter on the day that she shared her darkest worries.  And I watched as the relief flooded her face.

We can help our older kids be part of the process

Your older kids may enjoy helping to get things ready for the new baby.  And although we may not go along with their top name choices, (my daughter wanted to name her sibling Harry Potter if it was a boy) they may be able to help out with other important selections.   Ideas to consider…

  1.  Pick your two favorite nursery decor ideas and ask your older kiddos to help choose which one to go with.
  2. Let them help pick out a special toy for the new baby and let them get a matching one if that’s what they’re into.
  3. Help your older kids create artwork for the baby’s room. Picture of kids artwork You can get a pack of 3 8×10 blank canvas panels at walmart for $3.  Draw a simple design in pencil and let your littles go to town with some acrylic paints.  When they’re done, do the outlines with black paint and let it dry.  If you make several different pictures you can create a really neat art section.  Imperfection preferred. 🙂
  4. Let your older children pick out a special outfit for the new baby to come home from the hospital in.

We can be honest with our kids on what to expect

Change is scary.  And a new baby is a BIG change.   Mom going to the hospital can be scary for your older littles.  In many cases, going to the hospital to have a baby may be the first time our older children are separated overnight from us.  But we can let them know what to expect and make it less scary.

  1.  If the older kids will be visiting you in the hospital, make sure to tell them about all the stuff that goes along with a hospital setting.  Contraction monitors, pulse ox monitors, blood pressure… all these things make noise.  IV poles connect tubes of fluid to mom.  There are wires everywhere.
    woman in hospital holding new baby
    Copyright: famveldman / 123RF Stock Photo

    Add a tired uncomfortable new mom into the mix and it’s not surprising that seeing mom in the hospital can be a tad bit scary, especially for toddlers.  Let your littles know beforehand that these things are going to be there.  Show them pictures of what a hospital looks like.

  2. If your littles are going to be with you during the course of active labor, let them know that you are going to be uncomfortable and may be in pain.  The sight of mom in pain can be very overwhelming particularly for young children.  Consider having them stay with friends or family during your labor if you know that this is going to be an issue.
  3. Make sure your older kids know that you are going to be sore for a bit after the baby comes.  And although snuggles are appreciated and very wanted, you will need them to help you by being gentle.  Even if you don’t think your older children are going to really understand, tell them anyway.

We can keep our older children involved at home

Our kids love showing us how big they are.   And bringing home a new baby means automatic promotion for them.  So involve them to the extent that they want to be involved.  Diaper fetcher, paci gatherer, clothing picker-outer….  Help them to be involved.  If they’re not into helping with the baby though, don’t force the issue.  Keep giving lots of love and snuggles..  They will come around.

We can help foster their relationship

Once you are home from the hospital and settled into a routine, make sure to keep setting good boundaries and expectations.  Remember to notice when your older children are doing things you want them to repeat.  So often, we are so grateful that things are going smoothly, we don’t remember to point out the good things and instead focus on redirecting the bad stuff.  So make an effort each day to notice and comment on several things your mini is doing well.  You will be amazed at the result.

Your older kiddos are still your baby too

Sometimes when you bring home a new baby, your older child is not ready to give up his/her role as the baby of the family.  And although growing up happens to the best of us, we can reassure them that no matter how big they get, they’ll still be our babies.  And that although they may have gained a new roll in the family, their overall role has stayed the same.

Have Fun

So welcome to the world of parenting more than one kid.  Enjoy the journey and laugh a lot.  And if behavior issues crop up that you’re not sure how to handle, make sure to chat with your pediatrician.  There are so many things we can do as parents to help our kids along in this process!

5 Things Your Newborn Wants You to Know

So you’ve done it! You and your partner have just given birth to your first bundle of joy and you are heading home.  Welcome to the world of parenting. Perhaps you’ve been around kids for your entire life, and perhaps this is the first newborn you’ve ever held.  Regardless, you are now responsible for a tiny human.

Whether you’re feeling extra confident in your coming parental responsibilities, or maybe a little overwhelmed at the abundance of advice pouring in, there are a few things your brand new bundle would like you to know.

“Sleep Like a Baby” refers to mattresses, not actual babies

Babies are often fitful sleepers.  We have this idea that our new bundles are going to be still and angelic in their sleep.  However, most babies jump and startle just as much in their sleep as they do while awake!  Between the little jumps and jerks, frequent feedings, and diaper changes, most brand new bundles only get a couple of good hours in a stretch.  No worries though, you will one day sleep again.  🙂  In the meantime, invest in some good coffee and try to start some healthy sleep habits.

Babies are actually pretty tough

The birthing process is not for the faint of heart.  In a vaginal delivery, you can expect your newborn to exit a cervix that fully dilated, is about the same width of a softball.   With a caesarian delivery, your uterus is cut open and the baby is tugged out.  Although exactly how uncomfortable this is for the baby is not really known, it’s safe to say it’s probably not very pleasant for them (we know it’s not super fun for the mommas).  At the very least, we can expect that there’s a good bit of pressure involved.  So take a deep breath.  You’re not going to hurt them by burping them or changing their clothes.

Crying doesn’t always mean something is wrong

Our littles are brand new and testing out their voices.  And it takes some time for them to figure out the best ways to get their needs met.  But they do come with some pretty nice lungs and crying is always good at getting our attention.  So before worrying that something is wrong, remember that they can cry for LOTS of different reasons.  Hungry, wet, dirty, hot, cold, tired, bored, uncomfortable.  Too much noise, too little noise.  Crying can mean anything.  So go thru your list and fix what you can.  But sometimes, they just need to cry and it doesn’t mean you’re missing something or doing something wrong.

You have to take care of yourself too

When you get in a plane and are ready for take-off, you are reminded that in the event of an emergency, first put on YOUR oxygen mask, and then help those around you.  This is an important message for new parents as well.  You cannot properly take care of a baby if you’re not taking care of yourself.  You need to eat, hydrate yourself, and rest.  Take turns if you need to.  Ask for help.  Have a friend come hold your mini while you take a nap. Set a cooler of snacks and waters next to your bed.  But however you choose to do it, make sure you are taking care of you.

There’s not just one way

First time parents often get a bad rap.  I am forever having parents apologize for asking very reasonable questions with the qualifier that they’re “first time parents.” You do NOT have to apologize for this.  Every single parent enters the parenting business with their own individual baggage.  And every single baby is different.  So do what’s right for you and your family.  You don’t have to apologize for being a first-timer.  And you don’t have to second guess every single decision that you make.  Do the best you can and ask for help and guidance when you need it.

Welcome to the Terrible Tantrums

Tantrums are no fun for kids or their parents

It happens to the best of us

We’ve all been there… the TANTRUM to beat all tantrums. Moments earlier, you were thanking the universe for your good-natured toddler.  Now you are looking at your tiny terror completely bewildered and trying to figure out what went wrong.  Yep, that’s right, you’ve been Tantrum-ed 🙂

Congratulations! You’ve officially made it to the tantrum years! (I’m sorry to break it to you, but calling it the terrible twos is a gross underestimation for many of us)…  Whether you were one of the unlucky folks who stumbled into this dreaded stage by the 9 month well checkup or a parent who thought they were in the clear only to be thrown into the mix at 4, you are in good company.

Why do tantrums happen?

Tantrums happen with one goal in mind… Get What You Want.  That first tantrum may have started because knowing what you want and being able to express that desire is sometimes tricky when you’re little. While Jr. is shrieking, we parents are running around trying to figure out whatever we can to stop the high-pitched screams.   It doesn’t take long for a pattern to develop.  While we are still floundering around wondering where our angel child went, a lightbulb moment happens in that beautiful developing brain of your sweet baby.  And so the fun begins. It happens so gradually we aren’t usually aware that any subtle manipulation is going on.  And by the time we’re wise to it, it’s usually harder to break.

Tantrums tend to progress as our littles get bigger.  They may start due to struggles in communication, but then progress as they become more skilled in the art of negotiation.

There is good news though.  Learning to handle a tantrum is fantastic practice for the more sophisticated “negotiations” that will happen during the teen years.  And I promise you can do this.  So take a deep breath and set up some ground rules for yourself.  You may have caved in the checkout line last shopping trip, but that doesn’t mean you have to cave in the future.

Top Five Rules for Handling a Tantrum

  1.  Keep your cool. Tantrums are completely normal.  You getting upset only makes it worse.  So find your happy place and know that it can’t possibly last forever.
  2. Don’t give in. Maybe your kiddo is screaming because they want that candy in the checkout line.  Once you’ve given an answer, don’t give in.  Consider a house rule for no purchases in the checkout line.
  3. Make sure you’re in a safe place.  A tantruming child will often throw themselves back in anger without regard for their surroundings.  If you are in an area where they could hurt themselves, transport them to a safer area and make your exit.
  4. Prepare if possible. If you know that you’re heading into tantrum territory, lay down the ground rules before you go.  Give that 5 minute warning at the park.  Tell them in advance that no treats will be bought.
  5. Let the judgement go. No matter what we do as parents, there will be someone ready to criticize.  And sometimes the looks from other moms might make you second guess yourself.   Try not to let it get to you.  Stay the course.  Setting some clear boundaries does not make you a bad mom, it makes you a GREAT one!

What are some tricks that you use to deal with tantrums?