Labeling My Spirited Child

I’m listening to the audio book ‘Raising your Spirited Child’ right now and so much is resonating with me.

My soon to be 3 year old is very much a spirited child and I’m seeking ways to be a better parent to him.  I don’t like feeling like I’m constantly battling him.  Like I’m always losing my temper and I most definitely don’t like feeling like I don’t like him or this ‘phase’.  Because I love him so much and there are so many amazing things about this phase, but it’s also extremely challenging for me.

So I’m looking to better understand him, help him, and in turn help myself.

I’m only on chapter three but I really like what the book is saying so far. I just listened to the importance of labels, and unfortunately, I have not been using very positive labels to describe my child.  I call him:

  • crazy
  • temperamental
  • emotional
  • wild
  • energetic
  • sensitive
  • perceptive
  • imaginative
  • willful
  • exhausting
  • rude
  • destructive

The author talks about how children develop their sense of self and when negative character traits are thrown at them, well, it doesn’t exactly help them to feel good about themselves.

She encourages  participants in her groups to say, out loud, “my child is ____” and see how it feels.   When I hear myself say “my child is exhausting”  or “my  child is rude” it doesn’t feel good.  Because he’s not.  That’s not who he is.

My child is amazing.

My child is beautiful.

My child is insightful.

My child is creative.

My child is energetic.

My child is sensitive.

My child is funny.

My child is imaginative.

My child is determined.

From now on I’m going to be extremely mindful of the words I use to describe my  son.   I want to portray a positive image of him for both his sake and mine.

In fact, I really ought to do this for my husband and myself too.  I think everyone I love could benefit from kinder labels.


How I Plan to Stop Yelling at My Toddler

I am not proud to admit this, but I have yelled at my toddler (he’ll be 3 in February) every morning this week.  Every morning is a fight.

I’ve always thought of myself as a pretty relaxed parent.  I don’t care if he doesn’t want to get dressed when I want him to – I’m rarely on such a tight schedule that something can’t wait 10 minutes.  I don’t care if he wants to eat his breakfast standing at the counter. I don’t care if he wants milk and juice and coconut water with his breakfast.  I don’t even care if he wants them in specific cups.

But there are things that I can’t handle.  That make me snap.

I can’t handle when he pushes his 10 month old sister.

I can’t handle when he asks for things over and over and over again when I’m busy.

I can’t handle when he gets frustrated and throws things/cries/whines.

I can’t handle when he says he wants one thing and then screams at me when I get it for him because he actually wanted something different.

Now I know, big emotions and I should have empathy and compassion because he’s on the brink of being truly a big boy but can’t process things like a big boy does.  I get it.  But holy shit it’s hard.

So after I dropped him off at daycare I googled ‘how to stop yelling at my toddler’ and the beginning of the article went on to explain all of the ways I’m damaging my child by yelling at him.  How I am potentially “hardening” him and am headed for inevitable difficult teenage years.

It’s not like I want to yell.  I know it’s not good for anyone – especially him.  I know it doesn’t help matters, if anything it makes things worse.

And without even reading the rest of the article I do know some things I need to do. For one, I need to take care of myself.  I am so frazzled. I”m exhausted (I blame the baby on that one).  And I have no patience.  Throw a “spirited” toddler into the mix and yah, I’m going to snap.

So even though he was very emotional this morning, I dropped him off at daycare so that I can take care of myself (hello guilt).  When I got home I put the baby down, took a shower, and then did a 15 minute meditation.  I’m now having a coffee and writing this.  Trying to figure out how I can be better.

So I’ve decided that in addition to taking care of my own mental health, I’m going to:

  1. Show empathy.  Acknowledge (with my words to him) whatever emotion he is feeling.  Let him know that it’s OK and that I am here.
  2. Walk away. When I feel myself getting angry or frustrated stop what I’m doing.  Leave the room for a moment or put on some music.
  3. Recite a mantra. I don’t know what this will be yet.  Maybe “he’s having a hard time” or “he needs you” or “I am the adult”.  Something to remind me that it is my responsibility to teach him and I don’t want to teach him to yell and go off the handle.

I’m going to try this for a week and see if I notice any difference in how much I yell and in his behaviour.  I’ll let you know how it goes.





To My Son and Daughter

I have a son and a daughter and my relationship with each of them is already different.  Not that I treat them differently, I mean I do because of their ages obviously, but I don’t treat my son one way because he’s a boy and my daughter another because she’s a girl.

But there is something different about the son/mother and daughter/mother relationships.

I want strong relationships with both of my children and I feel that as they get older the relationships will develop naturally.  These are some things that come to mind when I think of the people I want my children to be and the person that I will be to them.  This is not to say that I only want my son to have respect – I want my daughter to as well obviously – but these are just things that come to mind.

For my son…I want to always play with you.  I want us to have a fun relationship.  You have so much energy and life in you I want to always nurture that.  I want you to grow up to have respect – for yourself, for women, for your elders.  I want you to be compassionate person.  How to teach you this, I’m not sure, but I am going to just try to lead by example. I want you to always be able to talk about what is going on with you.  Whether it be with your dad or with me or a teacher or whoever.  Don’t hold your feelings inside. Whatever you go through in life we will be there for you.

For my daughter…this is a bit harder right now because you’re only 8.5 months old and your personality is only just starting to shine.  But shine you do. Don’t lose that light.  I wish for you to be brave, to take chances in life and trust your intuition. A woman’s intuition is strong but you have to be in tune.  Experiment and have fun, but stay true to who you are.  Take the time to find out who you are.  Spend time alone. Surround yourself with people who inspire and believe in you.  I love the way you look at me, we have had a strong connection since the day you were born and I hope that you will always look at me with so much love.

And I wish for these two to be friends.  It’s been a rocky start, but to be expected with a toddler and baby.  I can’t wait for the day that they play and laugh together.  It’s close.. 🙂

I’m Now 36

It was my birthday earlier this week.  I’m now 36 years old and I don’t really have emotional reaction to that number.  I’ve always embraced getting older, however I do still feel young.  Perhaps I am still young – it’s all relative.

I would say 35 was an interesting year, as I had expected. I wrote this on my birthday last year.  I started the year pregnant with my daughter, my son was 20 months old, and I was super busy at work.  I then went on a very emotionally exhausting trip to visit my uncle who was on his deathbed.  My husband got a job and went back to work earlier than planned (he was home with our son) and we put our son in daycare for the first time – which didn’t exactly work out.  In January I gave birth to my daughter at home and I have been on maternity leave since then.  I had both kids home with me for several months and was getting extremely burnt out.  Six weeks ago my son started at an amazing daycare and he is so happy.

So it’s been a busy year.

I had some things that I had hoped to accomplish during my 35th year and I’m sad to say that I didn’t get much done.  Granted, I’ve been a little busy, but my list only contained 4 items.  I wanted to get my license, buy a new car, get back into yoga and go on vacation.  We did buy a car (out of necessity, our other car died and we didn’t get a new one as I had wanted to), and I am doing more yoga – meditation really but I am living in a yoga mindset more these days.

So I didn’t get my license or go on a vacation.

This year I want to get my license and go on a vacation haha.

Not sure I see the vacation happening again.  But hey, you never know.

But besides the things I want to do, there are some things I want to be, to become.

I think more than anything else, this year I want to come back to myself.  Right now I am all mom all the time.  I have barely even left the house.  So this includes doing yoga.  Going to yoga classes.  I want to teach yoga again.  I want to get massages on a monthly basis.  I want to think more about my career – I’m considering a career move and I want to put more energy into this idea.  I want to dream more and have goals. I want to do more of the things I love. Surround myself with things and people who inspire me. I want to improve my diet – I’m losing a ton of weight again and I don’t want to get super skinny again.

I want to continue to work towards becoming the woman that my daughter will look up to.  My son as well, but there’s a different dynamic there.

I want to continue to work towards living in ease.  Remaining calm in challenging situations. Staying positive.  Staying in tune with my emotions and be less reactive.  More responsive.  I want to continue to live in the moment – especially with my kids.  I want to laugh more.  I want to have more fun with my husband.

I want to continue to nurture my friendships.  I have three best girl friends right now and I value these ladies so much.

I guess that’s a lot, but it’s all things I”m working towards at the moment anyways.  When I think about the year ahead I can’t really picture how it will go.  I am taking an additional 4 months maternity leave, so I still get to be home with my baby girl for another 8 months, which is crazy!  I really want to enjoy this time because it’s really a once in a lifetime opportunity.

OK, I’m rambling now.  Baby is napping but I know she’ll wake up soon and I want to take a shower. So I’ll leave it at that.


How I Started My Day

I woke up this morning at 7:10 to the sound of my 2.5 year old knocking on his door.  We have one of those door handles on there that keeps him from opening the door, so he knows to knock when he’s ready for me to get him.  I then hear my 8 month old wake.  Luckily my son was quiet for a bit longer so I was able to bring my baby girl into bed with me and nurse her before the day truly began.

I didn’t suspect that my son was up to anything when he went quiet.  I assumed he was reading his books or playing with is toys as he does most mornings.

Boy was I wrong.

He knocks again and I go to his door and ask him if I can open it.  He says, ‘no I need a kleeeeeenex’.  I tell him, ‘ok, I’ll go get you a kleenex’.

I go downstairs to get the kleenex box, come back up, open his door only to see that we’re going to need more than one kleenex.

I find my son sitting on the floor, pj pants off, diaper off, and poop all over his legs.  All over the carpet.  All over the wall and even under the door.

There was shit everywhere.

I hadn’t even had my coffee yet.

And that, my friends, was how I started my day.

Daycare Guilt

I follow a woman on Facebook called Janet Landsbury. She’s an advocate of the RIE (Resources for Infant Educators) philosophy and a lot of what this encompasses aligns with my own parenting beliefs.  RIE is all about treating infants and children as “unique, separate people” who deserve our respect.  I like that it encourages independent play, natural progression, and child led learning.  (You can read more about it here).

What I don’t like is the way the philosophy is presented.  I don’t like the closed view that there is only one ‘right’ way to raise our children.  And I particularity don’t like the guilt and shame that underlies some of her posts.

I want parenting advice to bring me up, not make me feel shitty even though I’m a great mom.

I read this post last night called “Is Two Too Young for Preschool“. On the surface the article appears to be understanding of a parents situation.  I like that she says ‘For many families, group care is a necessity. Needing (or wanting) child care and having access to an excellent facility .. are good reasons to begin daycare or preschool.’  However, this is prefaced by ‘Group care adds stress to the life of a preverbal child… If we can’t yet communicate all our needs verbally, combined with the fact that we are being cared for in a group, it can create stress, even in the most ideal setting. Playing with one friend from time to time, going to the park, meeting the plumber and saying “hi” to the mailman is plenty of social interaction for a child 2 and younger.’

Hello bold text.

And hello guilt.

So she says this thing about adding stress to our kids lives, and then follows it up with, but if you have to then oh well kind of thing.

So my son is 2 years and 7 months now and started a preschool/daycare program a month ago.  Since starting “school” as we call it, he’s talking a lot more, but I would hardly say he’s able to ‘communicate all his needs verbally’.  I know he’s having a hard time transitioning into the group setting as he’s been acting out by pushing, hitting, and even attempting to bite other kids.

Sometimes I think daycare good for him (and me!), and other times I question whether we’re doing the right thing.

Luckily it’s a really great place and we have very open communication with the teachers, so I feel good about that.

But then I read articles like this and I can’t help but think about all that extra stress he’s now experiencing.  All because I was getting burnt out having him home.

I should want him home with me.

It’s a luxury for us to be able to have him home, isn’t it?

I think at the end of the day I need to just do what is right for our family – always!!  I know this is the right thing.  And he is actually really happy there, I can tell.  They spend so much time outside, he gets to play with all kinds of new toys and run around with other kids. He’s also napping there which he doesn’t do at home.

And my baby girl naps and eats so much better when her big brother isn’t around distracting her.  And she gets some much needed one on one mamma attention.

And me, well, I get my sanity.  Which is kind of important.

I’m thinking I might unfollow her on Facebook.  Trust myself more.  I want advice and I know in some situations I can be better, but I also need to stop reading stuff that makes me feel like a shitty mom.



Nervous Energy

I’m sitting in nervous energy right now. Have been for a few days now.  Usually I trust myself, I trust these feelings and I listen to what my body is telling me and I act accordingly.

Since becoming a mother I find it harder to trust these feelings.  And the actions that are  needed aren’t always clear.

I question what I feel because it’s not so black and white anymore. I wonder..Is it lack of sleep?  Is it hormones? Is it just standard worry that comes along with being a mom?

Or is it something else?

There are some things going on which could explain this nervous energy.

First off, my boss is calling me today (in half an hour) to discuss the possibility of extending my maternity leave.  I think this is actually a big part of the nervous energy because I question whether or not it’s the right thing to do.  I know it’s the right thing to do for my baby girl, full stop.  I want to take an additional four months so that she can go to the daycare my son is in (they don’t take kids before 16 months).  But four months of no pay is kind of a big deal.  That’s $20,000.  Well, it is and it isn’t. We’ll also not be paying for her daycare, which would be about $5000, plus commuting costs and all the money I spend at work on coffee and food – so really it will “cost” more like $14,000.  Which is still a lot of money.  But we can afford it and at the end of the day I don’t want to put her in daycare at 12 months.  If my boss isn’t too keen on the idea (though I think he’ll be very supportive – he’s a pretty awesome guy), another option is for me to go back on a part time basis.  So yeah, there’s that.

The second thing that could be contributing to this nervous energy is my son.  He’s been displaying some not so great behavioural traits at daycare.  Namely biting, hitting, and pushing.  Ugh. His teachers are great and are very open with us about what’s been going on and we’ve been talking to him about it, encouraging him to use his words and express his frustrations in more positive ways.  I hate not being with him.  I hate not really knowing what’s going on.  What’s going on with him.  I know, he’s a toddler and it’s super common and he’s not used to having 16 other kids around him.  It’s still so new to him and he’s adjusting.  I just want him to be happy.

I thought writing this would help but I actually feel more nervous now sitting here with it.  Or maybe it’s just that I’ll be talking to my boss in 15 minutes.  I guess I’ll see how I feel after that conversation.