Tag Archives: toddler

Book Review/Discussion: Raising Your Spirited Child

First of all, let me just lay it out there and say I love this book. If I had the skills to write an ode to this book, I would. Cover or Raising your spirited childFor one thing, when things went a little nuts with Boopsie, this book was the first I read (out of several) that made me feel like what we were dealing with was manageable. Secondly, it provided an new lens for considering why the whole situation was getting my goat so much. When I look at my copy of the book now, I see at least 30 pages that I have dog eared for future reference. (Interesting aside: I’ve stopped buying parenting and most other nonfiction books on my Kindle because I want to be able to mark them up and clicking to highlight just isn’t the same as marking with a pen and folding over pages.)

Some of the details about Raising Your Spirited Child:

  • It was written by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka
  • The subtitle is “A guide for parents whose child if more intense, sensitive, perceptive, persistent and energetic.”
  • The paperback edition I have (revised edition) is 468 pages long
  • The book is organized into five parts: Understanding Spirit, Working with Spirit, Living with Spirit, Socializing with Spirit and Enjoying Spirit

Kurcinka’s definition of a spirited child is, “The word that distinguishes spirited children from other children is more. They are normal children who are more intense, persistent, sensitive, perceptive and uncomfortable with change than other children.”

She explores temperament, facets of “spiritedness” and even includes a little quiz to help you gauge your child’s level of spirit on the different facets: Intensity, Persistence, Sensitivity, Perceptiveness, Adaptability, Regularity, Energy, First Reaction and Mood. Once you’ve done that, she also encourages the reader to look at his/her own spiritedness in terms of these traits. I found these exercises particularly helpful because they helped me put words to Boopsie’s personality (and positive words at that!) and showed me where my own “spunkiness” might be contributing to our challenges.

In subsequent parts of the book, Kurcinka walks through the various traits and how to deal with each of them. In addition, she spends chapters on tantrums, planning for success, bedtime, meal times, dressing and topics like socializing, vacation and school.

I’ve read this book through twice and I will probably continue to refer to it regularly. I recommend this to anyone struggling with a “spirited” kid!

Now that I’ve waxed poetic… have you read this book? Any thoughts? What parenting books have you found most helpful?

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Today/A Lesson

Today was not a great day at work.

Today, work sucked. I made an error (a dumb, frantic error). No one died or got hurt (and no one will), no money was lost and no milestones will be missed because of it. But because of the nature of my job, this error was very public. And it meant I received a follow-up phone call from an executive who was frustrated and wanting to “problem solve.” (He was very fair and solution-oriented, but it still wasn’t fun.)

By the time the end of the day rolled around (after my 5 p.m. meeting didn’t show, and the video I needed to upload failed), I wanted to crawl under a blanket and hide for a while. But Daddy-o had evening plans and we’ve got a busy week so I picked up Boopsie and took her to the grocery store. (Because I guess I wanted to flog myself a little.)

When I picked Boopsie up, I immediately realized I was going to be in for a long evening with her. She was wild and defiant. She’s spending most of the next two weeks in back-up care through my company because her day care closed for three weeks (starting last week) without warning. She was exhausted when I got to her (at nearly 6:00 p.m.) and was a scoundrel in the grocery store. By the time we drove home she was stripping off her shoes and socks in the car and whipping them at me from the back seat.

Every part of the evening was a battle. Going potty? Torture. Washing her hands? Despair? Dinner? Well that started with a meltdown and a demand for me to hold her and feed her. I was standing there, calculating my options when it hit me… I needed to drop all the crap and baggage from my day and face her with as much compassion as I could muster. She’s two. She’s exhausted. Her schedule (and therefore a big part of her world) has been completely upended. She went from a home day care to a preschool setting, with an established class of kids she doesn’t know. While she’s doing great (lots of positive reports from the teachers) she is fried. Toast. And frankly, I get it.

So I dropped my expectations for one night. I held her in my lap and spoon fed her sweet potatoes and macaroni and cheese. I stopped doing the dishes to help her draw a turtle. I brought my focus much more to her needs. And you know what? It worked. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, but I got her fed, bathed and in bed with minimal additional melt downs.

For me, this was just a good reminder that no matter where I’m at, my job is to try and meet Boopsie where she’s at. This was not the night to force issues. Hopefully tomorrow we’re both a little more rested and upbeat and she will go back to feeding herself. And going potty without a hissy fit. And she’ll make it home without throwing things at me in the car.

Until then: Amen, she’s in bed. And I’m going to have a glass of wine.

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Filed under day care, drudgery, feeding, mom guilt

168 Hours – Book Review/Discussion

Today was my first day back to work after a nice long holiday weekend.  After a tough night of a croupy tot and work-stress dreams (and the added wrinkle of an unexpected week-long day care shut-down), I stumbled into the office. By 11:00 a.m. I was so stressed out and cross-eyed from work I felt like I needed to crawl under my desk and hide. I was thinking about how out of control my work “to do” list is and that quickly bled over into how out of control my “home” and “life” lists are. I started panicking about how I would ever get it all done. Or at least most of it.

Several weeks ago I read a book by Laura Vanderkam called 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think. It’s a 168hourstreatise on time –every single one of us has 168 hours in a week– and how we approach using it. I found it to be very thought-provoking, and my feelings today make me want to revisit it.

In her book, Vanderkam spends some time talking about “The Myth of The Time Crunch.” She lays out the argument that every person, no matter how “successful” they are or how innovative or how obligated, has 168 hours in every week. By defining time in this way, rather than by a single day or a full month or year, we have enough flexibility to “find” time for ourselves and enough limitations to not lose our priorities to “someday.” It comes down to attention, and intention, Vanderkam says:

While we underestimate exceptions, we overestimate other things — for instance, time devoted to small, repetitive tasks.If you pulled out your Blackberry ten times over the weekend, you might give yourself credit for several hours of work, even though each incidence took five minutes. In other words, this totaled less than one hour, even though 10 Blackberry checks will make you feel like you’re in work mode 24/7.

One of Vanderkam’s other tools, borrowed from another author and coach is the “List of 100 Dreams.” These are dreams, big and small, that she says you should use to organize your time and priorities. When I read the book I started a list of 100 dreams. Some of them are:

  • Publish a book
  • Have nice fingernails
  • Travel for 4+ weeks with Boopsie and Daddy-o… a National Parks tour
  • Go on a photo safari in Africa
  • Teach Boopsie to ride a bike
  • Learn to do a good sun salutation
  • Have an emergency fund that can cover a whole year of expenses
  • Dress up (fancy) one time per year
  • Be conversational (not necessarily fully fluent) in a foreign language

This list can evolve and change — the idea is to actively seek out and make progress toward what you want, even if what you want changes. This list, Vanderkam argues, can help you organize your time so that it feels more valuable and you get more out of it. (Because, despite how I spent the last couple of days “Be caught up on Nashville” is NOT on my list of 100 dreams. Oops.)

Vanderkam also encourages readers to figure out their core competencies — what it is they do better than anyone else —  and then ruthlessly focus on those. Cut out the things other people can do better and/or that you hate to focus on your core competencies so you can make progress with those. Refuse or shorten meetings, outsource household tasks that aren’t in your core competencies and focus effort on where you want to (and can) do your best. The discussion around core competencies made me think a lot about the “house wife” trap I’ve put myself in. I do a majority of the day-in, day-out work in our home — meal planning, groceries and prep, majority of the laundry, general life management, etc. I’m having a hard time parsing out the difference between “core competency” and “habitual control freak,” especially when it comes to food preparation and meals. It’s definitely a thought-starter. I also started to think about trying to better define my core competencies at work. I’m pretty successful there, but where should I focus?

In 168 Hours, Laura Vanderkam also talked about intention and parenting, and I appreciated the approach. “The point is to treat your children as privileged clients,” she writes. “You have to think through the time you’re going to spend together because it is valuable.” She warns that if you don’t you can fall into a couple of different traps. The trap I saw we’ve really adopted is becoming a “slave” to the weeknight pattern of dinner, bath and bed.

I have to admit — as nice and comforting as routines can be, sometimes I want to poke my eyes out when I’m trying to come up with a fast, feasible dinner for the three of us. And as much as I LOVE snuggling with Boopsie, the thought of reading Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever one more time makes me want to scream. Vanderkam’s suggestion is to consciously shake things up sometimes, arguing that the occasional fast-food meal won’t kill anyone, and that the adventures, activity and good memories that can result from doing different things are overwhelmingly positive.

Bowl of cereal with berries

Cereal. It’s what’s for dinner.

This is one concept I have tried to really grab onto. Tonight, about to explode from stress and overwhelm, I threw Boopsie in the stroller and we went on a “family walk” with Daddy-o after dinner. Sure, it messed with her bed time a little, but she got to pet a dog (her favorite), see some bunnies, and we all got some fresh air and exercise. More importantly, we did something with 30 minutes between dinner and bath besides sort the mail and pick up toys. Dee-light-ful. Another time, when Daddy-o was out of town, I grabbed Boopsie from day care and made a mad dash to the Minnesota Children’s Museum, saving myself (by virtue of time) from the age-old question about what to make for dinner. That night we had cereal and fruit.

I recommend 168 Hours for anyone trying to find more time in their lives, or even those just trying to organize their thoughts around what they want. It’s non-threatening and accessible. I’ve been pushing Daddy-o to think about what’s on his “List of 100 Dreams” so we see where there’s alignment and get after shared dreams, or at least help each other start reaching some individual ones, big or small.

What do you think? What are your biggest time-management challenges? What routines are sucking you dry these days? What’s on your list of 100 dreams? (Don’t worry, I won’t hold you to anything and it’s fun to think about!)

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Filed under books, drudgery, First-World Problems

Winding down the weekend…

Daddy-o has been out of town (for work) since Thursday morning. Thursday evening I had to call in the cavalry as I got a migraine. Grampie came to the rescue and played with Boopsie while I went to bed with earplugs and a pillow over my face. Things went really well otherwise… until this morning.

This morning Boopsie drank a cup of milk and then coughed… and threw it up all over us. The rest of the day she kept saying she had to “cough” (aka barf), but didn’t. Interestingly enough, those moments seemed to happen as soon as I picked up the phone or said I needed to do something. Suspicious? I thought so.

Tonight at dinner she wouldn’t eat a thing, and talked the whole time about throwing up:

“I need da bucket.”

“Th yellow gonna come out.”

“I gonna cough again.”

I tried to play it very blase… and ended up just giving her a bath and putting her to bed, explaining (as usual) there wouldn’t be any food/milk until morning. Now she’s in there wailing for “milky.” Here’s a few recent pics to help me remember that I love being a mother. (I need the reminder right now.)

Toddler watering flowers

Watering plants in fuzzy polar bear footie pajamas, pink rain boots and her bike windbreaker.

toddler picking yellow dandelions

Picking dandelions…

Black goat with toddler running toward it

Chasing goats at the zoo… apparently Boopsie loves goats as much as I do.

There, I feel much better now. (And it helps that she’s fallen asleep.) Let’s face it, this could be worse: Daddy-o is currently stuck in an airport, where his flight is delayed three hours. Blech.

Now, say it with me… “Please don’t puke, please don’t puke, please don’t puke.”

 

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Filed under drudgery, firsts, Fun

Springing Forward

So tonight I was folding Boopsie’s underwear and suddenly I thought, “Holy CRAP… I’m Folding. Boopsie’s. Underwear.” You read that right. And it’s true. Last weekend a small miracle happened: Boopsie decided she wanted to wear underwear. Then we put her in undies. And she peed on the floor. And we put her back in a new pair of undies… and we went for it.

Dora the Explorer undies

“D-D-Dora! D-D-Dora!”

After a panicked call to a friend whose potty-trained three kids and some good advice from her, we decided to go for it. I’m not going to lie. It was a really stressful, cooped-up weekend. But Boo did great. There was a lot of pee on the floor, but also a lot of pee in the potty. And no pee in the bed. (Amaze-balls, people.)

Potty training threw me for a huge loop. I sent frantic e-mails to my friends, who told me to hang in there. I blathered on about it at work. I laid awake worrying she’d wet the bed. And I was in the hot seat most of the time. Boopsie decided that she didn’t want Daddy-o in the bathroom and she wanted my attention every single minute. In short, I went bonkers for a few days. Okay, like six days. We crossed the final frontier when I took her to the Minnesota Children’s Museum Friday night… and she used the potty in a public restroom. BOO-YAH!

Here are some things that helped:

  • Character undies. Boopsie was sort of invested in keeping “Dora” dry. Even so, get like 14 pairs or you’ll be doing laundry every six hours.
  • Random rewards. What worked for us at different times, to incent her to sit on the potty: plastic animals, stickers, Dora the Explorer Band-aids and ice cream.
  • MAKING her sit on the potty. This was harder than it sounds. She was resistant and I was terrified I would give her some intense complex about going potty, thus ruining her life forever. (Yes, I’m serious about this. I really worried that by MAKING her sit on the potty when she didn’t want to she’d end up in diapers and a therapists office for the rest of her life.)

When I reached out to my friends to thank them for the help and advice, I admitted to them that potty training threw my for a loop. One of them pointed out that as a parent, it’s one of the things you have the least  control over. So true. And we all know how well I do (or not) with a lack of control… (Ehrm…yeah.)

We have two more big adventures to contend with some time in the coming months — moving into a big girl bed and getting rid of the pacifier. For now, I’m going to enjoy a glass of wine and then fold some more undies.

 

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Filed under drudgery, firsts, lessons, poop

Progress on the Panty Front

Tonight Boopsie took a pair of undies from her drawer and said, “My going to wear these in the bath.”

I (stupidly) said, “You don’t wear undies in the bath!”

She said, “Monkey going to wear them,” and ran off to find her stuffed monkey. I called her to come take a bath a couple of minutes later and she asked me if she could bring the undies in the bath. I said she could bring them in the bathROOM. She ran in and threw the undies in the full bathtub.

This may not sound like progress to you, but to me it was a small miracle that she had any interest in the undies. (In retrospect, why didn’t i let her hang out in them for a while?!? So. Dumb.) This kid knows when she has to go to the bathroom. Tonight after dinner she asked me to let her out of her booster seat so she could poo. She’s aware, she just doesn’t care.

This is our fault: in November and December Boopsie was totally into going potty and earning miniature plastic animals as her rewards. She seriously earned about 50 over the course of about 5-6 weeks. But Daddy-o and I were unprepared and “too busy” to stay home for a few days and strike while the iron was hot to do the full-on “potty learning.”

So here we are, three months later and she’s completely over the potty. Tonight when she announced her attention to poo I offered her a stuffed animal if she went on the potty… No interest. So the fact that she was interested in her undies at all gives me a small hope that she’ll come around… Wish us luck. As I’ve noted before the will is strong with this one… Nothing will happen until she wants it to. Now I just have to figure out how to make it her idea…

Here’s hoping for more panty progress!! (And let’s not forget the oft-said parenting tidbit…”No one goes to kindergarten with out being potty trainer. It will happen.”)

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Filed under adventures, drudgery, poop

One Deep Thought and One Question for You

Deep thought:

Parenting my kid is the most sublime and fantastic aspect of my life ever… as long as I’m not trying to get her to do something.

Question:

Have you ever really listened to the lyrics of “Puff the Magic Dragon”? Holy crap, that song is depressing.

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