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Best Parenting Advice

Eating in front of the TV? Not on my watch!

Eating in front of the TV? Not on my watch!

When we are about to become new parents, it seems like everyone has a piece of advice to share.  Although we may not agree with all of it, the best course of action is to just smile and nod.  I mean, there’s no point in arguing with the lady in line behind you at the grocery store!  Sometimes I like to pester seasoned parents for wisdom, just to hear what they have to say.  Who knows when that gem of advice will come my way?

Parenting books are another source of advice, and you can find one that suits all parenting styles.  Sometimes they really speak to you, and sometimes not.  I got a kick out of reading sleep books from both ends of the spectrum before Franci was born, since the advice from one completely contradicted advice from the other.

Whether or not I decide to follow the advice, I really don’t get sick of hearing it all.  Knowledge is power, after all.  And just because I disagree completely, doesn’t mean I didn’t learn anything!

One piece of advice I find myself coming back to over and over is, “Begin as you mean to go.”  It means that it’s easier to take a stance now, instead of having to change it down the road.  It may take a lot of energy up front that you don’t really have, but you’ll see the pay-off eventually.  It goes hand in hand with, “Choose your battles.”  Decide what the rules are the moment it becomes an issue, and stick to it.  And if you don’t see yourself fighting that war down the road, for whatever reason, don’t half-ass it up front just to give up after a weak show.

What is the best piece of parenting advice you ever received?  How about the worst?

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  • Filed under: Baby Care, General
  • Expecting a Second Child

    Big Sister

    Big Sister

    The end is near! Of Pregnancy, I mean.  The birthing bed is made up and ready for laboring, the water heater is turned up and ready to fill the birthing tub, and the fridge is filled with coconut water. Bring it on!

    I’ve been talking to Franci about her little sister for months, but lately I’ve changed the conversation. It’s not so much about, “there’s a baby in my belly” but how she’ll be helping care for the baby: reading her books, being gentle, doing laundry (her favorite chore).

    Since we’re having another girl, there wasn’t really anything to buy. We picked up a case of diapers, but she’ll be in cloth (and infant potty training) as soon as the meconium is passed.

    Despite the preparations, it’s hard to feel “prepared”. What are we missing?

    Did you do anything else to prepare for a second child, or is there anything you wish you had done?

    Correcting Bad Baby Behavior

    Some things never change

    Some things never change

    Frances’ “bad behavior” started off with hair pulling and nipple biting.  A stern “NO” and forcing her to release the hair (or nipple) results in a giggle and a big smile.  She has since grown out of these – through no help from me, I suspect – and has moved on to hitting.  It’s not often, but when she does hit I grab the offending arm firmly, look her right in the eye, and give her a stern “NO”.

    Like all babies and toddlers, she loves computers.  If she’s sitting on my lap while I type, she struggles in my arms to reach for the keyboard.  Moving her farther away, or removing the keyboard from her path, results in a meltdown.  I calmly explain that my computer isn’t a toy, and she can’t sit on my lap if she won’t follow directions and not touch my computer.  This doesn’t really work.

    Once Franci started crawling, she started getting herself into a lot more trouble.  It has only increased as she started to walk.  We put most dangerous items out of reach, and baby proofed the bathroom cabinets.  I also try to stop her from opening any drawers I don’t want emptied out.  I’m hoping she breaks the habit, but sometimes (like when I’m cooking) I don’t have time to correct her over and over.  As a temporary deterrent, I put a chair in front of the tempting drawer.

    We’re more into “house-proofing” the baby than “baby-proofing” the house, but parenting books don’t seem to get into the “how-tos” of accomplishing that. Since she loves music, and can’t resist a remote or computer, if she touches either without permission, the music gets turned off until she finds something else to play with. It is not working.

    I’ve read different ideas on correcting “wrong” behavior, and I’m curious to hear what our readers have found to be successful. Getting mad or yelling certainly isn’t the answer, and it’s impossible to make a child listen if they don’t want to.

    How do you discipline your child? Have you tried methods that don’t work (but you thought might)? What worked for you?

    Fun With Stockpiling

    Transitioning Out of a Crib

    Franci's "New" Bed!

    Franci’s “New” Bed!

    A couple of weeks ago I posted about moving with a toddler and expressed my concerns about her drastic change in sleeping arrangments. Not only would she not be sleeping in a crib any more, but she also wouldn’t be sleeping in our dark and crowded closet.

    Since I can’t fit into any of the clothes in “Franci’s” closet any way, I decided to take advantage of the situation and pack it up first. That way the closet would be empty and I could move Franci from her crib to a mattress on the floor. That way she’d get to take baby steps towards her new sleeping situation. I set up her crib mattress in the corner on the floor, and spread one of her softest blankets next to it (since she’ll probably roll off once or twice).

    When it was time for bed, I made a few mistakes I wouldn’t repeat. We went through her usual routine, but when it was time to read her bedtime story we read it in her bed instead of mine (like usual). That was my first mistake. I said good night and closed the closet door and she immediately started crying. I wanted to reassure her, so I went back into the closet and laid down with her. I sang a couple of songs in the dark, but her eyes were wide open. If I was quiet, she made up for the silence by talking and playing.

    I should have known she wouldn’t sleep if I was there. I’ve never once gotten her to nap in my bed with me (but she will nap in bed or on the couch with her dad). Instead, she prefers to crawl all over me like I’m a jungle gym. She was so busy jumping on her bed and dancing around the closet; she was more worked up than calmed by my presence.

    Finally, I just left. She cried for a minute or two, and then was quiet for ten or so minutes. This repeated a couple of times until she finally went to sleep. When I checked on her a couple hours later, she was curled up on the bed with her stuffed animals. While not a total failure, I couldn’t count it as a win.

    The next night I decided to stick to our routine, and just laid her on her mattress, kissed her goodnight and shut the door. I don’t know if that was the magic trick, or if it was the fact that she was already used to the change, but she went right to sleep. We’ll see later this week if the mini-transition made the move to a big bed in a big room any easier!

    How did you transition your little one out of a crib? What things went well and what would you do differently?

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  • Filed under: Baby Care
  • Blogroll Update

    Looking for more Green Parenting Blogs

    Looking for More Green Parenting Blogs

    Being a green parent (or person, in general) is a commitment that requires support. A community is the best place to find that, so it’s time to renew our ties and make some new ones!

    I have been meaning to update our Blogroll for months and months, and I’ve finally done it!  The eminent arrival of baby number two in 69 days has spurred me to get through as much of my to-do list as I can, and connecting with other green parenting bloggers is at the top of that list.

    You can find a list of these “Blogs We like” at the bottom of the righthand colum. I encourage you to check them out and like them on Facebook! If you have any suggestions for green parenting websites, please leave me a comment so I can add them to the list. If there are any blogs I’ve listed but you think deserve a little extra attention, please leave a comment!

    And if you know of any good Blog Carnivals, please let me know!

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  • Filed under: Baby Care, General
  • Sick Babies, Sick Parents

    Where's MY soup?

    Where’s MY soup?

    I was prepared for our normal routine to get tossed aside while Frances was sick, but I wasn’t prepared for how disruptive it is to be a sick parent.

    Franci spent a week with a high fever and another 5 days convalescing. She had little appetite and no energy, so we spent her few waking hours snuggling on the couch and trying desperately to find food she would eat. I tried everything, even resorting to ice cream (which despite loving on a normal basis, wouldn’t touch while sick). Since she was sick, I felt no guilt plying her with processed foods and fruit juice. I held her when she was fussy and indulged her every whim. After all, I believe in coddling sick members of my family.

    After she started to feel better, I’m the one who took a turn for the worst. Our daily schedule broke down even more than when she was sick. For example, Franci doesn’t get to eat between mealtimes but while I was sick she got a cracker every time she started to bother me. Anything to keep her quiet while I moaned and rocked and ran to the bathroom.

    I had no energy to try out 10 different healthy foods until I found one she would eat instead of spitting out or tossing on the floor. So once again I plied her with processed food in various shades of white (minus the ice cream). TV was watched in abundance and, at one desperate moment, she even got to hold my phone.

    Whatever guilt I didn’t feel while babying my sick baby returned tenfold as I let her run wild during my own illness. We maintain a fairly strict order around here, but how does one manage when sick? More importantly, how am I supposed to deal with it once I’m out numbered??

    How do you maintain household order, and your own sanity, when sickness hits your home? Do you call in reinforcements? Let it run its course and hope it doesn’t take too long to return to normal? Or do you have a contingency system in place?

    Dealing with Tantrums

    The Many Faces of Tantrums

    The many faces of tantrums

    About two months ago Frances started throwing tantrums.  They are your garden-variety tantrums that occur when you try and change her diaper or take away something she wants to play with that is off limits (like a phone or pill bottle) or offer her food she doesn’t like.

    While it may be possible to reduce certain triggers, like baby-proofing tempting cupboards or only offering her food she likes, leaving her in a dirty diaper is not an option. Plus, I believe it’s a bad habit to give into her every whim, so sometimes she just has to put up with not being picked up as I finish my blog post.

    Understanding that her tantrums are a result of not being able to communicate and being frustrated, tired or hungry doesn’t make dealing with them any more fun. The only thing we can do is whether the storm and not get too frustrated ourselves.

    I think the hardest trap to avoid falling into is not using punishments or rewards. It’s not fair to take away something just because Franci is too young to communicate. And I don’t want to get in the habit of bribing her for good behavior. Especially since she probably doesn’t understand that concept yet any way.

    For me, the worst part about tantrums at this age are knowing that she is so desperate to be understood, but just can’t figure out how to communicate. The emotions she is experiencing, like pain from teething, are hard to verbalize. I can show her the sign for pain a million times, but I don’t think she understands what pain is.

    In an effort to get past this phase (that will inevitably last several years) I am turning to the internet for advice. BabyZone had a good primer on tantrums, and Baby Centre had some good tips, but the best advice comes from parents who have gone through the same thing. Of course, I have to wade through a bunch of less useful comments to find the gems.

    What tricks did you use to get through your child’s tantrums? I’ll try anything!

    The Eco-nomical Baby Guide
    Eco-nomical Baby Guide
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