Sunday, 13 October 2013

My parenting technique

(it's not to lock him away, although I've been tempted!)
I've been thinking a lot recently about my parenting technique. I guess you could call it attachment grace-based parenting, plus spiritual training and gentle parenting mixed in. But here's the thing fellow Mamas - I don't want to label my parenting technique as anything other than 'what works best for my family'. Some of these techniques are great and I use a lot of suggestions from them, but I think what is most important is that I pick and choose the parts that are right for my family. For example, here are the bits we've chosen that work for the frog:
  • We don't spank and try not to yell
  • We do say no, but try to leave it for when he's about to do something dangerous/damaging. Instead we try to offer choices and explanations.
  • We believe that continuous training is more important than punishment
  • We don't ignore the frog as a punishment, nor do we isolate him
  • We believe that comforting and calming are what toddlers need when they're throwing a tantrum
    We want our children to express their emotions, but we expect them (as much as they're able) to do that in a respectful way
    We think that manners should be a priority lesson, even with the youngest children.
I've been on an attachment group before where someone asked a question and instead of giving loving advice, the other participants jumped on the mother's technique, saying it was not attachment parenting. They were so concerned with her following the 'rules', they didn't even hear her struggles.

Like I said, some of these techniques are great, some (quite simply) are not. Here's why I am cautious about following only one technique:
  1. It might not allow for a child's temperament /personality - the same strategy will not work for for every child.
  2. It might suggest that one punishment/correction fits every infarction your child makes - I worry about how can a child learn a sense a justice when they are punished the same way for throwing food and biting another child.
  3. Most importantly, it might make you feel like you can't follow your own intuition because what you think is right isn't listed as 'approved' by this particular technique.
Some of the techniques I've read promise to change your child - that you will have an angel by Friday. Well you know what? I don't want anyone to change my child. God made him, flaws and all, and I want him the way he is. Sure I'd love if he was a better sleeper, if he didn't have his health struggles or if could sit for longer than a minute. But he was gifted to my husband and I so we can train him in the way he should go, not the way someone who has never met him thinks he should be.

Parenting styles and techniques can offer advice and suggestions when you just don't know what to do. Some follow the most recent scientific findings about child development, and have come a long way from "beat it out of them" or " treat them like little adults". So, if they help you and you agree with what they say, I say go ahead and use them. But if something just doesn't feel right about how it's advising you to raise your child, it probably isn't.

Don't forget your God-given ability to raise YOUR child. That ability wasn't given to your mother or mother-in-law, your preacher and certainly not a stranger. It was gifted to you. As I've spoken about before, this doesn't for a minute mean we always know what do to! It just means that when we quiet all the voices around us (both helpful and unhelpful), that is when we'll hear the prompting of the Spirit guiding us as to how to raise our children.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

A day in the life: A toddler and expecting (i.e. me!)

I'm wanting to do a 'day in the life' series, after seeing it on another blog and thinking it was a really good idea. Basically my plan is to get mothers from families different from mine to write about what they do in a day. It made sense to start with mine, so here it is (in all it's pretty dull detail!). The frog and I have started a new routine, so I'm attempting to get certain things into our day. See how I succeed (or don't!) on a normal monday.

0840 Mr K. late for work as he's slept in. Usually the frog acts as an alarm clock so we're all running behind today. I get the boy up and downstairs for some TV time while I wait for my sickness to pass.

0930 Get the frog some breakfast - oatmeal and frozen berries. It's shopping day so there's an embarrassing lack of anything in the house

1000 Brush teeth, make beds and upstairs pick up. Load of laundry.

1015 Playtime. I catch up on Masterchef while the frog plays, trying to get rid of residual nausea.

1045 Song time. We get half-way through 'happy and you know it' when the boy gets bored.

1046 Blanket time. I'll do a post about this soon, but it is going well.

1047 Learning time. We read some books, play with his cups while doing numbers, colours and Afrikaans. Animal sounds are thrown in there somewhere.

1100 (Has all that only taken up 15 minutes!) Another playtime while I, yet again, sit on the couch with the TV. Sickness is struggling to pass today.

1130 This is usually snack-time but again, no food in the house (stale Cheerios offer a tide-over. Talk about bad mama moment). Frog is showing definite signs of being tired so I take him upstairs, book, song, prayer and bed.

1230 Let me be clear - bed does not mean sleep. I go in every 5 minutes to check on the boy, who is desperately tired but can't give it up. Some of the time he is screaming murder, some of the time just singing to himself. In between rushes to his room I finish off an essay and do some blogging.

1300 Frog finally asleep. I have lunch and a cup of tea, which curbs the sickness. I then do my weekly schedule, which includes updating my diary and calendar, writing my meal and shopping list, character quality and completing my weekly family binder. Quick clean of the kitchen and another rest on the couch.

1500 The frog is up - it's been a long and very welcome nap. He has lunch (last piece of bread and cheese spread) and we read the character quality for this week. I speak to my mam on the phone and put that laundry in the tumble dryer. The frog and I have some cuddle time on the sofa with a bottle of milk - I love those moments.

1700 We play for a few hours, watch some TV and have some outside time (by that I mean he plays on the patio, his sleepsuit tucked into his little shoes while I sit on the step). Tantrum when I get him back inside. We both get dressed (did I mention I'm still in my loungers at this point too?) and wait for Mr K to come home.

1745 I make the mistake of telling the frog that Papa will be home soon - cue running to the window and then having a meltdown when he's not there. 15 minutes of crying and flaying arms when I try to comfort him (there's even a bite thrown in for good measure - sometimes 'papa's boy' is much less charming than it sounds).

1800 Mr K gets home and we all go grocery shopping. Usually I do this in the day but I'm struggling to push the trolley at the moment and it was going to be a bigger shop than normal.

1845 Shopping done - armed with a shopping list, a helpful husband and content toddler it went very smoothly. We put away the shopping and start dinner.

1945 We eat mac and cheese with tomato, pancetta and breadcrumbs - a new and pretty successful recipe - clean plates all around, hubby and I talk briefly about our days.

2010 The frog has his bath and goes to bed (it's a late night for him and we're hoping for a quick-to-sleep).

2040 Nope. And the back-and-forth to his room begins, complete with two full-blown breath holding incidents (he's mostly grown out of them but when he gets especially upset he holds his breath until he passes out. Unfortunately for us that passing out didn't lead to sleep!).

2250 Sleeping. Oh so finally, sleeping. It was an especially long bedtime tonight - usually it takes about half that time. Husband and I watch Star Wars in bed (something I should have mentioned: we're geeks. There's no two way about it).

2305 Asleep myself.

Was this an average day? I guess it was. 6 out of my 8 daily chores done, week set up nicely with the weekly schedule complete. I watched too much TV, but on these sick days I'm willing to let it slide. Plus I know we're out all day tomorrow, so it'll even out.

Good day? Actually it mostly was - difficult evening but I got plenty sleep the night before and was in a pretty positive mood, as was the frog. We played and got some housework done, and had a little family time in the evening, even if it was in Asda.

Exciting day? No. But if there's one thing I'm learning it's that not every day as a mother is going to be exciting. Laundry has to be done, toddlers fight sleep and the groceries have to be put away. None of that is particularly exciting, and some of it can be downright boring (and difficult). In fact the best advice I've heard recently is that not all of motherhood has to be enjoyable - that doesn't mean you're doing something wrong, or even that you've got a bad attitude. It just means that not all of it is pleasant, as we all well know.

So, I want to hear about your average day. Coming next in the series is a post I'm really excited about, written by my very own sister (the likely housewife) -  A Day in the Life: 5, 4 and twin 1 year-olds. If you'd like to be the following Day in the Life guest blogger, please get in touch. No day is too dull or too 'normal' - I want to hear about your normal.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Character Qualities

I got these character qualities from the Duggars. Yes: those weird, ultra-conservative, prairie-dress wearing, 19-kid, all names starting with a J family. No matter what you think of them, I think their ideas are great and love the focus they have on their kids. I enjoy their show, try to channel Michelle in my most stressed moments and I frequently refer to their books. Does that mean I plan on having that many children, homeschool or stop watching TV? It most certainly does not. But it does mean that I'll try to implement their patient spirit into my household, and their focus on faith. One way I'm doing that is by incorporating the character qualities they use.

Every week I aim to write our character quality on our board, mention it to the frog every lunch and bible time, and focus on it. Well recently that's just not been happening. Not just the character quality, but the bible time (and sometimes even talking to him while he's eating - that kitchen doesn't clean itself!).

When I constantly find myself not getting around to something, I like to ask myself if it's because that something needs changed. Maybe it's unnecessary, or it's just something that doesn't suit our family. Well this isn't one of those things. I love these character qualities - they give me such a good weekly focus, and often seem to be exactly what I need to hear that week. My especially tired week corresponds to the patience quality, or my selfish moments with the generous quality. So I'm re-committing to doing this every week - even if I miss a week I'm going to pick it up the next week.

I'm not going to do a post a week about that week's quality (as at one point I had planned on doing), but I will mention it as I go along, so I thought it might be good if you all knew what I was talking about!

Do you have something you try to focus on each week/month? How do you make it a priority in your household?

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Family Binder

This (along with the command centre) has taken up a lot of my time recently. Yes, probably a bit too much time that could have been spent on course or house-work (procrastination, anyone?). I got the idea from a few of the blogs I read, and it seemed like such a good idea to have all the lists and information I might need together in one place.

I've included a picture of my header and index pages. For confidentiality I've blocked out any names, but you get the general idea. I've found it really helpful, for instance, to have everything I need for meal planning in one place. Is it a little OTT? Yes, probably. But I find that I am much calmer when I have a list to fill in or a place to refer to, so it works for me.
A couple are just for me - the sweet lists are nice/sweet things my husband and frog do which I'd like to remember. The toddler activities is a reference for those days when I can't think of a thing to do with the frog (any addition suggestions most appreciated!). I think everything else is pretty self-explanatory.
If anyone would like a pdf of the template for any of these, please get in touch. They took me a while to format (not my favourite things to do!) but I think I've got them looking pretty good. Would be great if someone else could benefit from any the way I have!

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Command centre

My next project was setting up my home 'command centre'. I've seen these quite a lot on Pinterest and thought they looked like a good idea. For mine I got a foam board (Hobbycraft £5), a wall file (Ikea £15) a wall hanger (Fintorp range Ikea, £24) and our family calendar. When I put it all together like that it sounds like quite a lot of money actually! I've already gotten a lot of use out of it so I think it'll be worth it.

In the wall file is my family binder, diary, address book and maternity notes. I'm also going to put the frog's colouring books here - in the pots are some art supplies for him (i.e. pens and crayons, we haven't advanced any further than that!). I'm hoping to 'prettify' at some point, but that's definitely my weakest area! I've found it really helpful having everything I need in one place - it sits above my kitchen table so I can take the stuff out and work on it while the frog is eating or drawing.

Do you have a central area in your house to keep everything together - what do you find most useful?