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I’ve Turned into an Advice Spewing Monster

My sister-in-law is pregnant and I am so excited to be an aunt! But something has happened to me since hearing the news. I have suddenly become this crazy person who has this overwhelming need to impart all of my parenting wisdom on them. It spews out of my mouth like lava. It’s as though someone else has taking over my body and I can’t help myself. The worst part is I hated those people when I was pregnant. Cornering me by the water cooler to share some ‘amazing parenting tip’. I felt like an advice magnet. Everyone needing to stick some note of parenting information on me. And now I have become one of those people!

The truth is I know my brother and sister-in-law are highly intelligent people. And I actually think they are going to be amazing parents. So why do I feel this need to tell them that newborns need two layer of clothes or that no matter what those parenting books say, breastfeeding hurts.

I guess after having kids I realized how much I didn’t know. I think surviving the first couple of years of your child’s life should earn you a medal. Maybe a giant trophy. And if you have a second child or if you are crazy enough to have a third of fourth – you deserve a title like “the duchess of motherhood” or something. Because each one of the cute little minions you birth comes with its own unique set of challenges.

I mean when my son was born and thought, no problem. I’ve done this before. I’m like a pro now right? Hahahaha. NO! Joke is on you. You know nothing. My son, unlike his sister, hated the car seat, swing and soother. What? So all those months I spent mastering my daughter’s needs meant nothing? nothing??????

Yes that’s right. Back to square one. Back to new sleep strategies. New feeding issues. Back to being so tired you want to cry. And yet I still feel like I must spew all I know about parenting on the pregnant people of the world.

So here is my best advice:

1. Someday your children won’t want you to carry them, sleep in your bed or let you hold their hand. So never feel bad about doing it now.
2. Tomorrow will be better. But the day after will suck.
3. Never judge another Mom. Like ever!
4. If you feel like everyone is staring at you and judging you remember this  – it is more likely that they are staring at you and wondering if you are judging them. Because people think about themselves. Not you.
5. Always pee before you tend to the needs or anyone in your family. Think of it like putting on the oxygen mask first on an airplane. You will never regret peeing first. You will only regret that you didn’t.
6. Love them. Hug them. Tell them how amazing they are as often a you can.
7. Repeat number 6 above but replace the word “them” with “yourself”
8. Don’t beat yourself up about what you did or didn’t do yesterday. Do your best with the information you have today.
9. Smile. It makes you look beautiful.
10. I’ll let you fill this one in. Because at the heart of all things, we have some good advice of our own.

Until I write again…

x Shay

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Missing Out on the “Lasts”

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When it comes to our children, we pay so much attention to their “Firsts”. First step. First word. First visit to the dentist. First day of school. First loose tooth. But how often do we think about our child’s “lasts”. Last time we watched them crawl.  Last time we changed a diaper. Last nap. Last time in the stroller, high chair or car seat.  Last lost tooth.  All those lasts that come and go and we miss them because we don’t even know we are going through a “last” or we are too busy focusing on what comes next.

Sometimes when you are going through a tough season you can only see the end game: “if we can just get them potty trained”, “if we can just get them sleeping through the night”, “If we can just get them to ride a bike without training wheels”. And while we are so focused on the end result, are we are missing out on the moments we are living in…right now?

Recently, my four-year old son has decided that he needs one us to lay in bed with him until he falls asleep… every night. So, we do it. Either my husband or I. We lay down in his bed for anywhere from 5-15 minutes and watch him as he slowly and peacefully drifts off to sleep.

Rewind 2 years ago. This would not be happening! I would be missing out on this sweet bonding time with my son. Why? Because I viewed bed time as a time to go to sleep. It was MY time once they were in bed. I had so precious little of it that I coveted even 5 extra minutes.

So what changed?  My perspective.

After 6 exhausting months of living with a newborn, who never slept more than 20 minutes at a time, I was a walking zombie.  Until, that is, I learned about “sleep training”. Once I figured that out, there was no one who could convince me having my kid in bed was a good idea. And at that time, I believe it was the best thing for my family. It saved my sanity.

But things change. I changed. As the kids get older, I find I’m more relaxed about most things. Even open to hearing other’s perspectives on touchy parenting subjects. One of the most enlightening conversations I had was about letting your child sleep in your bed.  One friend was complaining that her 18 month old son was still sleeping in her bed. My other friend replied “Oh, I really don’t mind when my kids come into my bed in the night. Sure, I don’t get a very good night sleep because they are kicking and tossing and turning sideways.  But I think it’s so sweet they still need me. I mean, they aren’t going to be sleeping in my bed when they are 14”. Wow. I never really thought of it that way.

My mom always says she enjoyed each stage of our childhood. Because everyone is wonderful and new and different and then it was over before she knew it.

Ask a parent of a teenager when the last time their child crawled into their bed or snuggled with them on the couch. My kids are only 7 and 4 and yet I’ve already gone through so many lasts without even knowing it. Some because up until recently, there was always a tiny possibility in my mind that we might have a third child. So I didn’t really need to pay attention to the lasts. But now that door is shut, I’m paying attention. I want to enjoy each stage that they go through because one day it will be the “last” and I won’t even know I missed it.

Until I write again…

x Shay

 

 

 

Parenting – Where’s the Instructional Manual?

Excuse me Doctor. You’ve given me this baby, but where is the instructional manual? Seriously! Where is it?

That’s how I felt when I got home from the hospital and looked at my precious new baby girl 7 years ago. I quickly realized that I not only had no idea how to work my diaper genie, but I also had no idea what to do next.

A friend recently posted on Facebook about how there really ought to be real parenting classes for parents. Like How to cook one-handed and How to pee with 2 under 2. Oh how that brought back so many memories. I spent my 1st anniversary spending the entire weekend in a pre-natal parenting class with my husband. Hours on hours learning how to breathe and watching that insanely cheesy and out-dated birthing video. And in the end I had a c-section and nothing from that class was helpful.

So where do you turn?  Every medical practitioner, new mom and ever so helpful parenting advice books all have plenty to say.  But I personally found no information on what to do when you baby spits out her soother and you are driving in rush hour. Or how to juggle nap times and preschool when you have your second child.

So where does this leave us? As new clueless parents that’s where. Who are so hard on ourselves for not being the perfect Mom we envisioned we would be. But the truth is we are all doing the best we can with what we know. I truly believe parenting is all about survival. You may have the best intentions to have a perfectly clean and organized house. To never yell at your kids. To always have your family wearing coordinated outfits. To always have children who are on their very best behaviour. And of course being that perfect wife and mother who has lost all the baby weight, only serves organic freshly made lunches and has plenty of time for her husband at the end if the day.

Well here is my reality check. You make think all the other moms are living like that. But I bet if you peeked into their homes you would see her kids eating spilled Cheerios on the couch and watching tv while Mom runs around the house frantically trying to get everything ready before she ships off her kids to school in un-matching outfits which she likely pulled from the pile of laundry she ‘hoped’ was the clean pile.  I know at my house you will see my son wearing pajamas nearly 24 hours a day and likely I un-matching footwear (maybe even one rubber and one winter boot in the middle or summer).

So let’s make a pact. Stop pretending to be super Mom. Stop striving to be. Stop judging other moms! Bond together and admit it. It’s hard. Hard being a mom. Hard feeling guilty if you are a working mom. Hard answering the question “what do you do for work” if you are a stay at home mom. It’s. Just. Hard. And that’s ok.

Did you feed and cloth your kids today? I say Rock Star Mom! I don’t care if they still have jam on their face or you have five loads of laundry yet to be put away. Your kids are happy. They are loved. You did good today. So have a glass of wine and go to bed early. Because let’s be honest. You have to do it all again tomorrow and that’s without an instructional manual.

 

3 AM

Well hello 3am, how not nice it is to be awake with you. Haha. Just kidding. Well. Not really.

There used to be a time in my life when 3am was the end of a day. Don’t mistake me for one of the heroic people who work shift work. No I’m taking about being 20 something and rolling in from from a night out with the girls at 3am. Downing what tastes like the BEST fast food burger you have ever eaten (because for some reason after a night out with your BFFs and one or too many cocktails a greasy fast food burger tastes sooooo good). 3am is just the time where your head hits that pillow and your exhausted feet finally get a reprieve from those too tall boots and all that dancing.

Fast forward to my 30 something years and 3am meant waking up, for likely the 2nd or 3rd time in the night, to the not so soothing sounds of a demanding child. Groggily making my way down the dark hall in hopes that I would be able to remain half asleep while I quickly diapered and could get back to bed with, at best, a full hour before I had to do it all over again.

Now, as I approach my 40s GULP (can you believe I’m going to be 40 in less than 48 hours??? Me neither. Still in denial), being awake at 3am means some THING has woken me up. A bad dream. Having to pee. A sudden fear that I’ve left a window open. My husband’s phone repeatedly making annoying bird like sounds because he forgot to turn it to vibrate. Or all of the above in tonight’s case. So here I am. Awake. At 3 freaking am. Having first been awoken and then annoyed that my husband left his phone on. But the being relived since I was having a bad dream. But then realizing that I have to pee and wondering “should I try to go back to sleep? That may mean that I just wake up in an hour when I REALLY have to pee. If I lay here all I can do is think about how much I have to pee. But if I get up now then I will be awake and won’t be able to go back to sleep because once I’m up my mind starts going crazy.” And THEN it hits me. “Did I remember to close the window last night? If I didn’t close the window then I couldn’t have set the alarm. Someone could break in. ANd my heat is on meaning the furnace is working like overtime because I’ve got an open window letting out all the warm air and I’m wasting money.” Good grief. At this point I might as well get up. Go pee and shut the window.

So off I go. I pee. Check the window. And now I’m wide awake. AND In less than 3 hours my bed will be invaded by two short people bounding with energy and demands (“Get up Mommy! Make us breakfast. Let’s play Lego. Can you make me a Rainbow Loom bracelet? What are we doing today?”). All the while my brain is doing it’s very best to shut out the sounds of my new ‘alarm clocks’ because inside my body is screaming “it’s too early. Go to sleep. Don’t you know I was up at 3am? Leave me alone. Aren’t you old enough to fend for yourself?”

Hmmm. That gives me an idea. Maybe I’ll sneak into the spare bed. I could hide out there. I can write a blog. Read a book – that should hopefully settle my mind and get me sleepy. AND with any luck the kids will be satisfied only waking up my husband at the crack or dawn and I can squeeze in a few more hours or shut-eye before anyone realizes I’m M.I.A. Now that sounds like a plan!!

Of course, I do know it’s very likely that my internal alarm clock will go off regardless and I’ll be wide awake once I hear the stomping, laughter and sounds of my daughter singing “Let it Go” at the top of her lungs for the zillionth time.

Sigh. 3 AM. Let’s not do this again soon.

Until I write again…

x Shay

Take A Moment. And Listen to Your Children

It’s hard. We get busy. Life. Is. Busy. You work. You volunteer. You take care of you family. You try to find time for yourself and your husband. Life feels like it’s pulling you in a million directions. All the while you are just trying to do your best. Because that’s what we do as Moms right? Our best. Yet we are constantly berating ourselves for our failures. For not doing our best. For the small and large mistakes we make. We would never, ever want our kids to be beating themselves up days after they made a mistake. So why don’t we let ourselves off the hook?

I missed something. Something important. My daughter tried to tell me that she was going through something at school and I missed it. I brushed it off. I thought she was being unreasonable. And when I found out that I should have listened. That I should have pushed aside my busy morning and really taken the time to listen to what she was saying. To ask more questions. I beat myself up. Until I a friend reminded me. To stop. Because we in the end we did talk. And I did listen. And it’s going to be ok. And I’m allowed to not be perfect. To make mistakes.

So I’m going to let it go. To accept it as a good lesson. To listen when my kids want to tell me something. To really listen. And when they are upset, to take an extra minute to ask more questions so I really find out the whole story.

Sometimes when our kids talk to us, we are right in the middle of something. A text, paying bills, cooking dinner. But I think we need to stop. For just a moment. Look them in the eye. Smile. Listen. Acknowledge. Hear what they have to say. Really hear it. It might just be “check out the ten thousandth Lego car I’ve made (that looks exactly like all the other ones). Or. It might be something big. It might be about the kid at school who is bullying them. Whatever it is. It is important. To them. So it should be important. To Me. To You.

That’s it for now. My daughter just told me she has a story to tell me. So I’m going to go listen.

Until I write again…

x Shay

Rainbow Loom Lunacy

I’m guessing if you are a parent and have a daughter between the ages of 5-10 your house has been taken over by small colourful elastics and a weird knobby plastic contraption known as the “The Rainbow Loom”.

Personally, I held off for as long as I could.  I was vaguely familiar with the toy around Christmas time but I had already painstakingly tracked down and purchased my daughter her “I MUST have a Flutterbye Fairy (which she LOVED, by the way, but has not played with it since Christmas day), so there was no way I was going to go all over town (or the internet) trying to find another “top toy of 2013”).  Her birthday was a mere 10 days after Christmas but we promised her she could get her ears pierced when she turned 7 (and who knew that would be so expensive!). So no Rainbow Loom in my house. It was only until about a month ago I really became aware of them taking over the world. When Katie started going to Rainbow Loom birthdays and all her friends were coming to school with bracelets they had made.  Then the talk started. “Mommy can I pleeeeeeeeeease have a Rainbow Loom’ Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeease???”

I stood strong for a good month. Insisting she had enough new toys from Christmas and her birthday.  But in the end I agreed to let her spend a certificate left over from her birthday and buy the treasured Rainbow Loom. It’s been a week or so and my house is being slowly taken over by colourful bracelets. And truth be told…she’s only made about 4 of them. I’ve made the rest. How did this happened?????

It was supposed to be a toy for her. Originally she could have cared less about the “loom” itself. She told me a friend had taught her how to make bracelets using two fingers so she grabbed some elastics and off she went. Wait, what? You mean I only needed to spend $4 and buy some elastics?  We didn’t actually need the whole “loom”? So next thing you know I hear myself saying “well you spent your money on this, we have to at least figure out how it works”.  Several YouTube videos, hours and days later and I have made a lot of bracelets. And I’m not that good at it. I’ll place all those elastics on the loom, painstakingly hook them all the way the 8-year-old in the video shows me. Think I’m done and then BAM! It all falls apart.  My daughter actually said to me one day “Mommy, you aren’t very good at this. Maybe you should get Joelle’s Mom to show you. She’s really good”.  And  meanwhile, my daughter is still good at making them on her two fingers.

Until I write again…

x Shay

30 to 40

30 to 40

Thirty days until I turn 40, how crazy is that? 40 always seemed so old. But I don’t feel old. I mean other than the abundance of grey hairs that have recently taken up residence on my head. But nothing a little trip to the hairdresser can’t fix.

I remember talking with my girlfriends about turning 40. It always seemed so far away. We would chat about taking a big trip celebrate us all turning 40. Yet as it approaches I’m looking forward to a quiet party at home with my nearest and dearest. And I’m wondering if I’ll be able to stay awake until midnight. Lol. Oh, how times have changed.

It seems not long ago I was turning 30. It was such a crazy and exciting time. 10 years ago, I was telling my loved ones that my boyfriend, of less than a year, had been offered a job and we were moving to a new city.  I left everything I knew: family, friends and a career I loved; all for the unknown. I had no idea what my 30s would bring but I knew it would be an adventure. Everything in my 30s was new a new beginning: marriage, friends, 2 kids, 3 houses, 4 cars, 2 new cities, countless road trips and several career changes.

Now as I leave my 30s and enter my 40s I feel more settled into my life. I’m still excited about what the future holds but also happy to be living a quieter and more predictable life.  I’m looking forward to not moving and instead exploring more of this beautiful west coast. To watching kids my grow up and into the people they are meant to be. To finding more “me” time to write and get out with friends. To figuring out (in a couple of years) how I’m going to spend my days once my kids are both in school.

The one thing I learned in my 30s is that life rarely turns out how you planned. I’ve always enjoyed the journey and am looking forward to seeing the adventures life bring in my 40s.

Until I write again..

x Shay

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