Toddlers and Television

I’ve never been a huge fan of television.  From the time I was a kid, I don’t remember watching many cartoons; if I watched a show, it was before bed with my grandparents and it was always Bewitched, I Dream of Jeanie, or Green Acres.  Perhaps not the best kids shows in the world, but I was lucky if I made in 5 minutes in before falling asleep.  I never had shows that I watched on a regular basis until after I graduated college.

Now, I wasn’t naive enough before becoming a parent to think that my kids would never watch television.  But I did know that they wouldn’t be watching any adult shows and that they wouldn’t watch a lot of television.  I will admit that they watch more than I had originally hoped, which was 20 minutes 3 times a week.  Right now, the kids watch about 20 minutes of television in the morning, right when they wake up, to keep them from having massive meltdowns while I prepare their breakfast; and another 20 minutes in the afternoon if they’ve had a particularly bad day (overly tired from playing, fighting a lot, the list goes on).

 As far as what I allow the kids to watch- PBS only, and of those shows, I am still particular.  I aim for shows that are truly educational, or shows that effectively teach something.  Our top shows are:

  • Peg + Cat: This is a math show about a girl and her cat and their adventures.  There are some things I dislike about this show (the attitude of the “teenagers” for example), but overall the pros outweigh the cons on this one.  They do every type of math, and teach ideas such as “bigger vs smaller.”  It’s probably D1’s favorite.
  • Super WHY!  This is a reading show and both of the kids have learned from watching this.  Not only letter recognition, but phonics, rhyming.. this might be my top show for them to watch!
  • Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Based on Mister Rogers Neighborhood, this show teaches manners and all types of lessons perfect for preschoolers.  The songs are catchy too- we used their potty song when the boys were learning, and the clean up song is sung multiple times every day in our house.  D2 really loves Daniel, and recently mom Tiger had a baby, which is really great for us right now!
  • Dinosaur Train:  A family of dinosaurs travel throughout times to meet and learn about different types of dinosaurs.  I wasn’t aware that a 2 and 3 year old could distinguish between and so clearly say so many different dinosaurs.
  • Cat In The Hat:  Every day Nick and Sally go on a new “adventure” to learn something with the cat.  The funny part about this one is that, from a parents point of view, it’s obvious that their mother thinks the cat is made up when she agrees to let them go on these adventures.  Nonetheless, I can’t even begin to list the things I’ve learned from this show.  This summer, every earthworm the kids found was named “Diggery” and transferred to our garden to help it grow, “just like in cat!”

I don’t think it would be possible to list all of the shows I would never allow the kids to watch (I can tell you at the top of that list is Sponge Bob Square Pants.. just NO, for a thousand reasons).  And we do allow some Disney movies, mostly in the car when we are on long trips- Cars, Cars 2 and unfortunately Frozen are their favorites.  

It may not offer for a lot of variety in their viewing, but honestly- with the small amount of screen time they have, I don’t think they really mind.  I can’t say that I think the kids would watch much more television if they were allowed.  They’re active and have wonderful imaginations.  While they do gain something from the shows they are allowed to watch, I have to say that books are always better ;)

Medication During Birth

Birthing my babies is probably one of my favorite things to talk about (as you’ll notice in D1’s birth story, as well as D2’s).  I promise it’s not just because I am currently expecting; it’s just that I love to talk about how my little ones came into this world, everything from pregnancy to their birth to coming home and- ok I love to talk about my kids!  And I love to hear other people’s stories as well!

I recently shared my thoughts on induction; being that I was induced with my first and not my second, I felt that I had a great experience to share.  At the end of that post, I mentioned that I wanted to soon share my thoughts on medication during birth, or a “natural birth.”  I don’t like using the term “natural” birth because I feel that it gives a bad impression, and I feel that in the end- however baby arrives safely in this world, as long as mom is happy and healthy, that is what matters in the end.

My reasons were so varied for wanting a medication free birth, that I’ll share those with you:

  • FEAR.  Yep, fear.  I was 100% terrified of the idea of someone sticking anything anywhere in my spinal column.  Not to mention the side effects- not being able to move, potential problems when placing the epidural, potential problems after birth.  I am pretty “pro” medication (vaccinations and the like), so if the idea of a medical intervention scared me after what I had learned, I decided it was best to be avoided at all costs.
  • History.  My medical history has provided me with quite a lot of pain.  I’ve suffered from debilitating cramps and bleeding since I was only 13 years old; they have been so bad at times that I have passed out from the pain.  I figured that if I could handle that type of pain, labor and delivery would be a little easier on me.
  • Family/friend experience.  I spoke with many MANY women about their l&d experiences, and came up with the notion that it really isn’t that bad.  My grandmothers and mother spoke with me at length about their birth stories; and I spoke with women who had experienced a birth with and without medication- the without won out every single time for them in their experiences!  Not just with ease, but with recovery, and overall experience.
  • Progression of labor.  Since I was going in for an induction with my first, I knew that there was a chance it could end in a cesarean section- that’s just a fact.  So I wanted to avoid any other unnecessary measures that may delay my labor progressing and end in a section.
  • Side effects.  After my first, having received a half dose of IV pain medication during my first labor, I knew I never wanted to feel that way again.  Not only did it not relieve any of my pain, but it made my violently ill (which was honestly partially due to labor itself, but certainly not entirely).  It made me sleepy and even more irritable.  Not something you need to be while in labor!

When I laid it all out on the table to my husband (labor coach extraordinaire) and doctor, we discussed what this would mean.  With my first, I wrote in my birth plan that I intended to have an intervention free labor, as far as was possible.  I made it clear that I was by no means intending to have an epidural, and hopefully no other medication; however, that if I changed my mind at any point, I would absolutely request an intervention- IV medication as a first option, epidural as a second.  Basically, I didn’t want to be a closed minded bullhead about the fact that labor hurts very much, and induction hurts even more.  I had never experienced labor or delivery, and wasn’t about to suffer through something if it was that bad.

But guess what.. it wasn’t that bad.  It hurt, sure.  Would I want to do it every day?  NO.  But my labor with my first was short, 5 1/2 hours from the moment the pitocin was started to he was delivered.  My second labor was a bit longer, about 8 hours; but since it was spontaneous, it was pretty chill and not all that intense (until the end).

What got me through each moment, each contraction when I felt I couldn’t carry on any longer- was that at the end of this all, I got to meet my baby.  That was the thought the kept me going.  That, and my amazing husband, who should seriously consider a career switch and coach other women through this process.  He was kind, patient, encouraging.  As was my doctor.  That woman and the nurses in my room throughout my labor and deliveries- they were amazing.

I wanted to share some of what I think are the greatest benefits to having a medication free birth if it’s something you’re able to do:

  • Being able to move during labor.  I even opted for a hep lock instead of an IV for my second since I was planning to go medication free.  This meant that I could walk the halls, use the restroom, turn over in my bed any way I pleased.  No medication basically meant no restrictions until the end phase of labor.. no one wants to be walking around then ;)
  • The high.  Once my first was born, I felt incredible.  I was still a bit foggy from the pain medication, but overall, I felt wonderful.  With my second, I could’ve touched the moon.
  • Being able to move!  Once my placenta was delivered and bleeding stopped, I was able to cuddle with my little ones.  And then I had to pee.  It was no trouble to get comfortable in my bed or walk to the bathroom to pee, and SHOWER after delivery.
  • Feeling ok- down there.  This one may just be me.  After D1’s labor, I was a little swollen, which I blame on the induction.  But I experienced no tearing with my births, and I (at least in part) attribute this to being able to direct and control pushing 100% during delivery (and again in part to my physician being the amazing woman she is).
  • An alert, but calm baby!  D1 cried for about 45 minutes after he was delivered, which I accepted as the norm.  But when D2 was placed on my chest, he sputtered a little and coughed, and just chilled out while he stared at me.  He never cried, not even once (until he was hungry later).  I was incredibly worried, until someone told me that it was totally normal for a medication free birth.

So there you have it.  The reasons, at least most of the ones I can think of at the moment, on why I think you too should consider going medication free.  Give it a try.. you can always change your mind ;)

Did you opt for a medication free birth?  Tell me why!

Help Me Pack A Preschool Lunch!

Both of my boys being in preschool this year brought on some mixed feelings.  I’m not typically a sappy mom, but it’s a little hard thinking about someone else caring for them for that whole 8 hours every week.  On the other hand, I’m looking forward to some never before seen peace and quiet at home during my work week.  It’s almost intimidating thinking about 8 whole hours that I can work uninterrupted, or stopping at the grocery store on my way home.

Ok it’s not intimidating at all, it’s actually glorious.  I strongly feel that these beautiful little toddlers of mine need to be cared for people other than their family members at times; and the teachers at the school are amazing, so I’m not even slightly worried about them.  I’m actually really excited to see everything they will learn in the next few months!  But that’s not really the point of this particular post..

What I stress about each and every year, on school days, is lunch.  This is easier this year since D1 has majorly increased the variety of things he will eat, but in comparison to what the world has to offer (and what I would like to see him eat), it’s still slim pickings.  D2 on the other hand, I am concerned that I won’t pack enough in his lunch, because this kid really enjoys his food, and healthy stuff too!

So I’ve started to create a list of things that I can pack into their lunches two days each week.  And I am looking for some suggestions to add!  The cool thing is that kids will often eat things at school (or just in general when their parents aren’t around) that they normally wouldn’t even try.  So here’s my list:

  • Peanut butter sandwiches/crackers (this is basically a staple, every single day)
  • Other sandwich ideas for D2- turkey and cheese, Italian
  • Fruit- watermelon chunks, mandarin oranges, home canned peaches/pears, homemade applesauce
  • Cheese
  • Granola bars or similar options like Fig cookies- I’m currently in the market for some truly healthy options in this department, so if you have any suggestions please send those my way!

And that is all I really have!  I may try including some veggies like carrots and celery to see if the kids will try them.  But other than that moms, I am out of ideas.

We always pack milk for the drink, and steer away from anything sugary.

So what do you add, supermom?

Pregnant and On Bedrest

Morning sickness is surely not a fun way to start out a pregnancy, and I’ve done that three times.  But at 28 weeks pregnant, this is the first pregnancy out of three that I have not been on bedrest!

Due to bleeding midway through my first pregnancy, I was placed on bedrest.  It was determined that I had a very short cervix and was ordered to bed.  I was allowed to shower and do things like make dinner while sitting (actually not a bad idea if you’re pregnant), but I wasn’t to be carrying laundry or cleaning the tub;I had to stay off of my feet as much as possible.  I ended up being induced at the end of that pregnancy, resulting in a short labor and an easy delivery.  But the bedrest paid off- I was 5cm when I went into the hospital that morning, and I truly believe that I wouldn’t have made it to that 38 1/2 weeks mark had it not been for the time spent resting.

My second pregnancy started with “take it easy” and ended up on full bed rest by the end of my second trimester thanks to preterm labor.  Thankfully, the resting staved off most of the contractions.  But yet again, finding myself on bedrest, I was frustrated with my body.

Although I am not yet out of the woods with being placed on bedrest, I am really holding out hope this time around.  I’ve not had any signs or symptoms of preterm labor, and my 21 week ultrasound showed a strong cervix, something I’ve never had before!  Woohoo!

But it got me thinking about how I would feel if I were ordered to bed rest once again, and how I felt during my first 2 pregnancies when the orders came down.

I was scared.  Especially with my first.  I was thankfully (and still am!) working from home, so it didn’t affect my job.  But I had a lot of free time in the evening due to my husbands odd work schedule at the time, and not much to keep me distracted.  I spent those first few weeks online a lot researching possible outcomes.  This actually helped me move past scared and into empowered.  I knew the possibilities of what could happen at this point in my pregnancy and I read about every possible treatment, test, etc.  I became extremely educated and that felt great!  This certainly helped me during my second pregnancy, knowing what I did and did not want in terms of testing or other decisions.  

Then I was frustrated.  With my body, with the condition- why couldn’t I just be normal like every other pregnant woman?  Especially with my second!  But then I read more magazines and found forums- I discovered a whole community of women who were on bedrest for various lengths of times for many different reasons.  It was comforting to know I wasn’t alone.

Finally, I was accepting.  All of the researching also helped me accept that bedrest was the appropriate course of action to make to the end of my pregnancy and have a healthy baby.  I spent a lot of the later weeks reading through all of the free magazines that came my way, learning about a million baby products and parenting styles.  At the very end, I spent time reading about labor and preparing myself for the delivery of my little one.  My body wasn’t like the next woman’s and that was just fine with me.  I needed a little extra time off my feet during the middle of my pregnancy, but my kids were born strong and healthy.  My labors were short and my deliveries easy.

If you have a friend who’s on bedrest- spend some time with her.  It’s exhausting laying around and trying to find something to entertain your mind.  We tend to feel left out- we miss our favorite restaurants and interacting in ways other than electronics.  Remind her that in just a few weeks, she will be back on her feet and snuggling that bundle of joy.  Remind her that she will make it!

Getting Baby To Sleep

Convincing a baby or toddler that it’s time for bed can sometimes be the longest part of the day.  Everyone is tired and worn out, but no matter what their age, some kids just don’t like the idea of missing anything and giving in to sleep!

We’ve had our fair share of ups and downs with 2 kids in a little over 3 years, and I wanted to share my top tips for getting your kids to sleep, regardless of their age.

  • Start a routine early.  Newborns don’t have any sense of time, day or night, and their circadian rhythms don’t kick in for a few months until they start to produce melatonin, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t start a routine right away.  We only bathed our newborns every 3 days or so, unless they were somewhere that a lot of people had held them, and we still only bathe the boys every 2 days unless they’re outside (sunscreen, dirt, school, etc).  But we have followed a basic routine with or without bathtime- it graduated from a bottle and story time to just cuddles and story time.  Whatever it is you want to happen in the evenings, start it as soon as you’re able to settle into something that works for you.
  • Avoid feeding to sleep.  This one is debatable for some parents, but it worked very well for us.  We always fed the boys before their baths to ensure we weren’t fighting with that nighttime feeding 12 months down the road.  I highly recommend this if you can!
  • Use the crib!  I know that some parents prefer to have their newborns room in, and we had a Rock N Play sleeper set up for the rough nights, but for the most part our kids slept in their cribs.  That was nap times and bedtimes.  If you prefer to room in during those first few months, I suggest moving naps to the crib as soon as possible, as well as the initial going to bed at night.
  • Try it all- the night lights, sound machines, essential oils, whatever is safe for baby that you are willing to try.  We ended up with a night light and sound machine (now music) that worked best for our boys to get them to sleep, but it’s different for everyone!
  • Invest in the room darkening blinds and curtains.  Making the room dark signals for kids of any age that it is time for sleep.  We have cheap pull down shades under all of our curtains (which are room darkening and were reasonably priced as well).
  • Make them comfortable.  We found out fairly quickly with one of our kids that we had a belly sleeper, so we invested in a monitor that registered their breathing (AngelCare- love it!  I am totally against video monitors for the fact that they can be hacked into or cross signals with other video monitors in close proximity).  I know this isn’t something every parent is comfortable with, but there are other options, such as side sleeping and inverting the mattress.  If you have a baby who refuses to sleep flat on their back, give your pediatrician’s office a call and ask if they have any suggestions.
  • Don’t respond to every movement.  Most kids are noisy sleepers, from talking to moving around.  Make sure that baby and toddler alike are actually awake before rushing to pick them up- because then they really are awake for sure!
  • For older kids, if you have a child who hates their crib- give the toddler bed a try.  D1 was only 15 months when we switched him to a toddler bed because he had never been a spectacular sleeper.  Once he was in that toddler bed, and now a regular bed, his sleeping habits have improved greatly!  D2 was already a pretty good sleeper but he started sleeping even longer once we switched him over to his toddler bed.  I think most kids do well with the freedom (as long as their dressers are anchored to the walls and there’s a gate at their door of course).
  • Beware of naps.  As kids age, nap times may need to be adjusted.  Some kids will drop from 3 naps to one a day.  I know people who have kids who nap when they get home from kindergarten.  But my kids gave up naps early- 15 months and 2 years.  If we tried to force the kids to nap when they didn’t need to it (1) usually ended in a meltdown and no nap anyway or (2) they eventually gave into the nap which pushed back bedtime and pushed up wakeup time the next morning.  And let’s face it, no one wants an earlier wakeup time!
  • Try not to stress.  We all end up with a night here and there where no one in the house gets any sleep, or at this point in our lives- sometimes the night of sleep involves toddler feet in our faces.  Kids from newborn until forever can pick up on the stress of their parents and it makes it harder for them to relax as well.

I’m sure in a few months, I’ll be walking around like a zombie waiting for someone to give me some sleep advice for my newborn.  But something else to keep in mind- don’t buy into any of the tips and tricks for “getting” your baby to sleep through the night.  The single biggest piece of advice I can give is that babies sleep through the night whenever they are ready.  This is mostly dependent on weight, and whether or not they’re going through a growth spurt or reaching a new developmental milestone (especially crawling and walking).  The worst nights we have with our kids at age’s 2+ and 3+ are related to growth spurts.  If you’re worried about your child not sleeping as much as they need to, most definitely talk to your pediatrician to rule out any conditions like reflux or an infection.

What’s your best advice for getting little ones to sleep at night, supermom?

Baby Teething Woes

Teething children, is there anything worse?  I’m sure there is.. but not in the middle of the day when you’re alone with said screaming baby, and certainly not at night when they’re having a rough one and nothing seems to work!

I believe (in my mommy expert opinion haha!) that D1 began having teething pain around 4 months of age.  Just because he had pain, however, did not mean that there were any teeth to be seen in our near future.  His first big beautiful tooth finally broke the gums at 8 1/2 months on the dot, which actually fell on his daddy’s birthday.  Anyway, we endured months of nonspecific pain with a child who was already fussy due to reflux, and he was at times, completely inconsolable.

At first, the screaming and fussing baffled me, until I saw that chomper come through his gums.  OUCH!  They are sharp, I mean I guess they have to be- they cut through their little gums.  It broke my heart to watch D1 (and later D2, although thankfully less severely) endure this pain.  But since he cut his first tooth through 2 year molars all in the course of 11 months, we became experts of sorts on how exactly to ease some of the pain for our little munchkins.  So today, I share my expertise!

  • Let them chew!!!  Our favorite teethers for the boys were Tommee Tippee, of all stages.  There were 3 or 4 on the market when D1 began teething, and I bought one of each.  They are funky looking teethers, but they’re made for baby’s of each stage to hold onto well, and they hold up extremely well to all of the slobbering and chomping.  Plus, they went in the dishwasher and steam sterilizer with no issues!
  • Again.. let them chew!  This means on your (clean) fingers, on their fingers, on the rubber coated baby spoons if they’re eating solids.  If they’re eating solids, you have even more options for chewing!  Biscuits, and all types of other baby food items are made just for little ones cutting teeth.  Seriously, take a walk down your supermarket aisle and find some fun things for them to chew on, or (even better) hit up Pinterest and make a few of them yourself!
  • Orajel.  I know, i know, not everyone is a fan of this stuff.  But their nighttime relief meant nighttime relief (and finally some sweet sleep) for mommy and daddy.
  • Hylands Teething Tablets.  For real fellow supermom, these things are the bomb!  I don’t know why or how they work, but I do know that they’re all natural and that they do work.  So give them a try.. and then go back and pick up 2 more bottles for fear that you might run out in the middle of the night.  Go ahead, I won’t judge ;)
  • Baby ibuprofen.  Advil, Motrin, take your pick.  Be advised that before 6 months, baby’s can only have acetaminophen!  But if you’re past the 6 month mark and you can see those little razors teeth coming through the gums, I would absolutely recommend giving your little one the recommended dose before bedtime.

It feels like the teething stage will last forever, but the pain usually subsides for them once the tooth has broken through the gums.  And I feel for you mama, I really do!

What is/was your go to teething pain remedy for your little one(s)?

Date Nights

With two toddlers and a baby on the way in just a few months weeks, it’s not always easy to make time for the adults in the household.  Our summer has been full of working on fencing in our yard, maintaining the garden, preserving fruits and vegetables from said garden, and lots of playdates and family picnics of course! Now that the fall is here, we are in the midst of 5 weddings all within 7 weeks (it sounds like a lot but each of those 5 couples, either the bride or groom of each was in our wedding 4 years ago, so it’s fun to be there sharing their special days now).

It’s easy to unload the dishwasher and slump onto the couch with a Friends rerun once the kids are in bed, but that routine gets stale after awhile.  Of course, most nights that’s all a lot of parents have the energy for, and we are no different.  The problem is that even when grandparents or aunts have generously offered to take the kids for an overnight visit, we usually end up doing the same thing because we are so darn tired!

I’m here to declare that it must stop!  Parents of the world.. we deserve to have a kid free evening full of fun- whether it be dinner or a movie or ice skating (ok maybe not if you’re pregnant like I am now).  And so I beg of you to take up that relative on watching the kids- drop them off fed and bathed, with a bag full of clothes and entertainment, and try your best not to worry.  Get dressed up and stay out past your bedtime.  You’ll thank yourself the next morning when you wake up to the quiet.. and rush off to squeeze the little ones you already miss so much!