Category Archives: Non-judgmental parenting

Surviving "Survival Mode"

There is a constant joke in our family that we are in survival mode.  Even though we adore our children, two active toddlers can be exhausting and I am usually ready to throw in the towel by 8 am.  After a particularly hard couple of weeks, it is time that I confess a few things.  Confession, after all, helps our souls heal, right? (Catholic friends, feel free to correct me.)

1.There are moments (read: like every 10 minutes) when I need time away from the screaming and whining.  Since I have various chores to complete in any given 18-hour period, I use those as excuses to plug in my headphones and listen to podcasts or music. Not only am I knocking out things like washing dishes and folding laundry, I am getting the much needed adult interaction–even if most of it is in my head and one-sided–that I often crave. This, of course, means I must resort to gating myself in the kitchen to ensure my children aren’t trying to climb in my lap and smack my face (in the name of love) or bugging me for a snack every 5 seconds.

2. When Ben and I are feeling distant, we will corral the kids into a small area in the living room, gate them in with plenty of snacks and a movie, and run upstairs for some, ahem, “time” together.

3. There are some days where we just need to get out of the house.  However, since we sold our stroller*, taking a walk is an even more exhausting option, so I choose to go to the store, the library, or a friend’s house.  The store becomes problematic when I begin spending money, or too much money (which, on our tight budget, happens to be any time I spend money); the library becomes overwhelming when Andrew starts tearing pages out of books and the librarian gives me the stink eye; and my friends probably don’t appreciate the messes my children make at their own house, especially when it adds to the messes their own children make.  But, I’ve got to keep my sanity somehow!

4. At night, when I finally get “my” time, I respond v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y to my children’s cries.  I figure 7 pm is when I can officially clock out.

5. I love my children, but sometimes they drive me crazy.  At the same time, sometimes I drive them crazy.  I think that’s why they prefer their father’s company when he gets home.  It might also be the reason they ask to see their friends all day long.

*Nema, Ben’s mother, has remedied this situation by buying us a stroller.  I guess that means I don’t have any excuses to stay cooped up inside anymore. Drat.

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Filed under Non-judgmental parenting

A Simple Script For a Difficult Problem

With the miscarriage, move, and extended vacation, Emily’s excellent sleep habits disappeared.  While in California, she would scream if we tried to put her into bed before she was asleep. The only way to get her and her brother to lay down for the night was to take them on long drives.  I think we spent more money on gas than anything else this summer.

When we finally moved into our new home, and settled into life, I figured things would return to normal.

Alas, my sweet, party-hardy girl did not feel the same.  It took an intricate locking system (involving bungee cords) just to keep her in bed at night (and alleviate our fears of another knife incident).  But it still required hours of screaming before she would finally succumb to sleep.

Not a happy time at chez T.

After a week, I admitted defeat.  I searched the internet diligently for tips and/or advice and stumbled upon this excellent article, Bedtime battles: How to nip them in the bud.  I bit my tongue against my usual prideful reactions to any advice, and decided to implement some of the tips.

Oh what a world of difference.

Since many parents might experience the same thing, here is what I did.

I made a flow-chart depicting the night-time routine.  In the morning, if things went well, she could put a sticker on the chart and have a small treat.  Doing this provided her with a visual reference of our night-time routine.  I tried to avoid veering from the sequence to give her a sense of security that comes with rituals.

While this helped her frame her night, I also had to allay her fears of being in a new place with new sounds and new shadows.  Right after dinner, I would remind her of our bedtime routine (bath, jammies, stories, bed), and that she would get a sticker the next morning if everything went well.  Once she was bathed, clothed, and ready for bed, I began asking her questions from the day.  This allowed her to talk and connect with me.  I asked about “happy,” “sad,” and “grateful,” happenings from the day (an idea I shamelessly stole from my mother).  I would tuck her in and tell her that I would check on her in 5 minutes.  The first few days, I also kept the light on so she would feel safe.

Because she was truly worried about bedtime, I ended up checking on her every 5 minutes for 2-3 hours.  After a week, this decreased to every 15 minutes for 1 hour, and after the second week, I would check on her once or twice and she would be out.

The important part of my plan was to acknowledge Emily’s fears and build a bond of trust.  By promising I would check on her, and actually doing it, she knew I was close by and that, if she felt scared, she could call for me.  Reminding her of her bedtime schedule and the sticker reward gave her a peaceful routine and an incentive to stay in bed.  Each component was necessary to get Emily back on a normal bedtime routine and ease whatever worries she had while in her room at night.

Our household is back to its regular schedule of 7pm bedtime and 6:30 am risings.  I cannot believe the difference it makes when children do not wake up at night (except for when sick) and am enjoying the extra time I have with Ben.

I kind of think age 3 rocks.  Big time.

Do your kids have a sleep schedule? How did you and/or your child handle changes? Need to vent about your exhaustion? Link up and feel the love.


Filed under Non-judgmental parenting

Getting Older

I don’t know when it happened, but sometime between January and now, I stopped feeling afraid.  I’d like to say it was the medicine but I know medicine can only bring you to a place that allows you to address your issues.  And one of my greatest issues came with waking up and embracing each day.

I remember feeling terrified, I mean terrified, of greeting each morning.  I would tremble in bed, gasping, trying to delay the morning.  Trying to ignore my children’s cries as they awoke.  Avoiding the clock, the sun, and my husband as I considered what the day might hold.

Older.  Addressing the main issues of anxiety and depression have allowed me to mature with my children.  We understand each other better every day.  They know I love them and I know they will forgive me.

I like the person I am now.  I feel more compassionate, loving, and forgiving.  I let my faults slide rather than dwell on them.

My kids are my world.  I don’t want to leave them for work or school because being home fills my cup.  I see their milestones, observe as they interact, and smile as they discover new things.

I also know that I am more than “mom.” I am Amber.  Being a mother is wonderful, but being Amber is more fulfilling.

Older.  Aging is hard because as the years pile up, you realize how much you have to learn.  But the wisdom gained from experience is indescribable.  For me, it allows my eyes to open and see the world from a more grounded perspective; free from stifling ideologies and separate from my mental illness.

I like getting older.  Do you?

I realize there is something missing from this space.  An important weekly writing prompt that reminds me of my parenting wins: non-judgmental parenting.  Do you remember this? Starting next week, on Wednesday, I will have a lovely post all about my amazing parenting skills.  Or at least try to pull something out of my, um, head.   I hope you will join me.  To make it easier, I will provide a weekly theme.  Stay tuned for next week’s theme that I will announce on Monday.

This post is linked with The Gypsy Mama’s Five Minute Friday.


Filed under Non-judgmental parenting, Parents Supporting Parents

What to do, what to do

A few weeks ago, a choice was thrust upon me: Keep Emily’s nap time or keep her bed time.  I tried both and instantly saw the advantages and disadvantages to either decision.

Once Ben quit his night/weekend job, I made the life altering decision of taking away her nap time.

It has been two weeks and I have already eaten forty times my weight in chocolate. I knew I enjoyed the quiet time while she slept, I just didn’t realize it also kept me sane.

While this isn’t the ultra positive (snicker snicker) post I try to write on Wednesdays, it is real.  And, heck, I’m not ashamed to admit I am this close to locking my little girl in her room for the whole day.  By 2 I have already texted Ben 1 million times asking him why I can’t move her bedtime to 3.

Still, once 6 rolls around and we have tucked the babes in bed, I am glad I made the change.

At least until 9 am the next morning.

MakingtheMomentscount.comAre you an awesome parent? Of course you are! Write a post about a parenting style, philosophy, or moment you are proud of and link up. (Want more details? Click on the button above or click here.)


Filed under Non-judgmental parenting

Just Go to Bed!

As a teenager, I told my mom my future kids would go to bed at 7 every night so I could have time for myself and time with my future husband.  She told me, “Don’t count on it.”

My mother should have known that my stubborn nature–and natural resistance to authority–would dictate that I keep my promise.

Naturally, times change and, with it, bedtime.  A couple days after last year’s Fall time change, I realized the necessity of changing my own schedule to match my children’s new bedtime and rising time: 6 pm and 6:30 or 7 am respectively.  While it might seem extraordinarily early to put kids down at 6, it meant happier children and I was determined to cut back on fussiness.  (Aren’t we all?)

I believe this taught me an important lesson: While routines are excellent sanity savers, I must learn to be flexible.

Recently, Ben’s work schedule changed drastically after he quit one of his jobs.  He no longer works nights and weekends and is actually home to help feed, bathe, and put the babes into bed.  With this development, once again I needed to alter our (meaning the kids’ and mine) schedule to be more conducive for Ben’s new work schedule.  I still haven’t figured out a perfect routine but I know that in time we will figure it out.

As positive as this sounds, I will admit my continued love of an early bedtime.  Honestly, by 5 pm I am ready to say “good night” to my beloved children.  My psyche can only handle so much screaming (Emily’s new mode of exerting authority).

MakingtheMomentscount.comAre you an awesome parent? Of course you are! Write a post about a parenting style, philosophy, or moment you are proud of and link up. (Want more details? Click on the button above or click here.)



Filed under Non-judgmental parenting, Parents Supporting Parents

Potty Training for Dummies

It started out so well.  Emily would run to her potty, do her business, and exclaim “I went pee-pee Mommy!”  Within the first week, she went number two without any urgings from me.  Her diapers were completely dry in the morning and accidents were very, very rare.

And then something happened.  I’m not sure what, but she started freaking out whenever she needed to go number two.  I thought this was a power struggle so I refused to cave into her demands.  Soon, she started having accidents galore.

Yesterday, when I was on my knees cleaning up another mess–this of the icky variety–I kind of lost it.  As I was cleaning, she went to the toilet and peed.  She came out and very excitedly announced that she had gone pee-pee and asked for a treat.  Since I was not very happy with her, I did not give her a treat and begrudgingly told her I was glad she went pee on the toilet.  At the same time, I wasn’t happy with myself for obviously overlooking something.

After she went to bed, and I cooled down significantly, I reflected on her recent regression and how I played into it.  Within in a few moments I had a prompting in the form of two questions: Are you listening to what your daughter is trying to communicate? Or are you pushing your own will on her? I hung my head in shame–good shame–and decided to take a step back and let her progress on her own time.

She can now request a diaper anytime she wants and I am back to giving her treats whenever she pees on the toilet.  Really, I am so proud of her for asking to potty train on her own and not rewarding something that she is obviously pleased with herself is like denying her a kiss when she really needs it.

As a mother, I am often the “dummy” when it comes to listening to my kids.  Thankfully, there is room to change. I hope I can take this lesson and use it continuously as Emily and Andrew grow older. Are you an awesome parent? Of course you are! Write a post about a parenting style, philosophy, or moment you are proud of and let me know in the comments. (Want more details? Click on the button above or click here.)

(Apparently, I now have to pay for a subscription to Linkytools, so until I decide to do this a link list will have to wait.)


Filed under Non-judgmental parenting

A Time to Hold

I intended to write about potty training today until I picked up my little boy and felt inspired to go another direction.

My little guy needs me.  He needs me so much that he cries if any other person tries to hold him, including his dad.  This past week he has been sick.  Really sick.  This has only intensified his desire that I hold him all the time.   In a recent conversation with a friend, she remarked that it must be difficult to have a child who refuses to be comforted by anyone other than me.  I can’t remember my response but I don’t think I adequately expressed how I truly feel about this situation.   Call this my written response.

When Emily was a just born and tiny baby I knew I wanted to cherish every moment I had with her.  At that time, Ben and I were both attending school full-time.  Our days were filled with homework and parenting duties and I often felt I spent more time doing the latter rather than the former.  At one point, after bemoaning my situation incessantly inside my head, I felt it was time to stop complaining and truly enjoy every moment I spent with Emily rather than crying that I didn’t have more.  I also decided to cherish all her stages–good and bad–and not spend time wishing she were older or more mobile or could talk.

Embracing my new philosophy, I found delight in her day-to-day activities and did not despair as she continued to grow (mentally not physically) at an alarming rate.

This thinking has continued with Andrew.  Even though it does feel inconvenient at times to have him attached to my hip, I remember that he won’t always want me to hold him.  There will come a day when he might push me away.  When my importance will diminish as he enters that vast world of pre-teen and teenagedom.  And then he will grow up, move away, and find [a different] love in another woman’s arms.

So, right now I appreciate how much he loves and needs me.  I relish the moments I have holding him close and smelling his delicious scent.  I kiss his head, hands, and face and feel that familiar tug of deep and indescribable love for this child that my husband and I created together.

At the same time, as he continues to grow (he will be 2 this year!) I don’t feel sad. I recognize the importance of maturity. I also know my place is to raise him, and his sister, to be responsible, virtuous, charitable, and many other things so they can one day be mindful adults and citizens of the world. Are you an awesome parent? Of course you are! Write a post about a parenting style, philosophy, or moment you are proud of and let us know by linking up below or commenting. (Want more details? Click on the button above or click here.)


Filed under Non-judgmental parenting