The Best Christmas Gift I ever Received (and surviving the holidays as a new mom)

Good morning!

Do you have any fun plans for Thanksgiving this week?  We are spending the holiday with my husband’s family and I could not be more excited.  I’m looking forward to cold weather, spending time with family and my best friend, and watching James explore new places!

As Thanksgiving approaches, I’ve been reflecting a lot on last year’s holiday season.  It was my first year as a mom and James was just a newborn (two months old at Thanksgiving) and honestly, parts of it were really tough.

I love the holidays and LOVE traditions.  There is a running joke in my family that they have to be careful because if they do anything twice, I will insist it is a tradition and must be done forever.  This is not far from the truth.

When I was hoping to get pregnant, and the whole year I was expecting James, I would often drift off to sleep at night imagining Christmas with a baby.  I’ve always wanted to be a mom and it always seemed like the holidays would be extra magical with little ones.  And they are.  But they’re also a lot harder.

We had Thanksgiving at our house last year, though we did not really host, as my family brought almost all of the food.  It was pretty much the easiest set up we could have, but it was still hard.  It was hard to fit in cooking the few things I’d said I would make.  It was hard when at the end of the day, James was inconsolable during dinner and wanted only me.

(I later read it is not considered safe to let babies sleep in boppy loungers, but I did not know that at the time)

For Christmas, we drove to my parents’ house, which is only about a three hour drive from us.  At that point, James was three months old and I think he was taking four naps per day.  He also took a LONG time to nurse as an infant, often at least an hour.  I used to use an App to track when he ate and I remember it often being 11-12 hours total nursing time at the end of the day.

Needless to say, that made it hard to fit in all of the Christmas traditions I love.

On Christmas Day, my husband offered to help James fall asleep for all of his naptimes, and that was seriously the best Christmas present I ever received.  Now he (usually) falls asleep peacefully with no fuss, but that was certainly not the case back then!

Especially in a new place and especially when it was not me putting him down for his nap, there was a lot of crying and a lot of time spent consoling.  I was so grateful to my husband for offering to cover nap time, since I was still spending hours upstairs feeding the little guy (yes, I could have just fed him with my family there, but I’m a really private person and wasn’t comfortable with that).

Even with all of the help from my family and husband, it was sort of a hard day (though also a great one in many ways).  I know I could have done a few things differently though, to make it even better.

1. Ask for help!

Not asking for help when I need it is definitely one of my biggest weaknesses (anyone else?  Yeah, I thought so).  It is a good thing my husband is literally the most helpful person on the planet, otherwise I’d be screwed.  Still, asking for help would make both of our lives easier, and is something I’m constantly working on.

2. Have realistic expectations

Even though I was SO excited and thankful to have a new baby, I had trouble letting go of how I pictured the holidays.  I think I’ve gotten a lot better over the past year about going into to things with fewer expectations and being a little more flexible (not natural to me).

3. Set the plan

I was afraid for a while to speak up and tell people what plan / timing would work best for us with a baby.  The thing is, I sort of hate being in charge, but I was the one who knew his nap schedule the best and should have spoken up more when it came to planning things.

All of that said, I have some of the very best memories from last year’s holidays.  I remember infant James staring up at the Christmas tree, completely mesmerized by the lights.  I remember him enjoying the little toys in his stocking, smiling and kicking his chubby legs.  I remember him in his little sweater vest at church, enamored with the lights and startled by the loud music.  I remember how very happy I was to have him, after spending the previous holiday season wishing for a baby so much.

I’m super excited to enjoy the holidays with a little toddler this year and to see what shenanigans he’ll get into.

Have a very happy Thanksgiving!

What’s the best gift you’ve every received?

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving tradition?

 

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Stocking Stuffers – 10 Kitchen Tools for 3-5 year olds

Are you buying gifts for any littles this year?  My little guy isn’t quite old enough to help much in the kitchen, but cooking projects and food preparation work were some of my favorite things to watch the children work on when I was teaching in a Montessori school.

Helping in the kitchen is great for concentration and fine motor skills, and can also help kids get excited about eating different kinds of foods.

If you have a little one on your Christmas list, here are some fun kitchen tool ideas, perfect for tiny hands.  These are generally appropriate for 3-5 year olds, but of course watch your own child for readiness.

Wavy Chopper This lets children as young as three help chop things like carrots or cucumbers.

Mini Pizza Pans How fun would these be for family pizza nights?

Egg Slicer I have only seen these used for eggs, but have read they’re great for mushrooms as well!

Banana Slicer This is definitely not a kitchen essential, but can be fun if you have a child who regularly eats bananas.  After they slice them, they can spread them with nut butter using their own little spreader – there are tons of fun ones out for the holidays.

Mini Potato Masher This is perfect for helping with the mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes for holiday dinners, but it would also work well for making guacamole.

Cherry Pitter This was one of the most beloved food prep works in the class where I taught.

Apple Slicer Some little ones do not yet have the muscle strength to use this on their own yet, but older four year olds or five year olds are often successful with it.

Egg Beater This would be fun for letting your child help with holiday baking.  Handheld mixers like this can also be used for bubble making – all you need is a mixing bowl, water, and a few drops of dish soap.

Spice Grinder or Nut Chopper The options for these are endless, but grinding nutmeg would be fun to fill the house with a nice holiday smell.

Mini Grater These little graters are great for letting your little one help with taco night.

I always love the For Small Hands site for kids’ kitchen tools (and so many other things…) as well.

Do you do stockings in your family?

They’re one of my favorite parts of Christmas!

*Please note this post contains affiliate links – I get a small percentage if items are purchased, at no cost to you.  I only include items I love.  Thanks for your support!

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Signs my baby is turning into a toddler

In addition to the obvious fact that he now toddles everywhere, I have seen so many sign that James is no longer a baby and has officially reached toddlerhood.  I used to think this would make me sad, but I can’t be sad about it when he’s so much fun these days!

Here are ten signs I’ve noticed that let me know his baby days are gone.

  1. He has a special radar for finding anything in the room that might be off limits.  This mostly includes cords, electronics, and climbing on tables.
  2. He throws little mini tantrums when something doesn’t go his way, making his body limp, and throwing his little head back with such drama.  He did this ALL week last week as he was teething and by the end of the week, he’d learned to throw himself on the floor, but carefully lower his head down so as not to bump.
  3. He looks at me with the biggest, most mischievous smile before doing something he’s not supposed to
  4. He’s fascinated by putting food in his little water glass – so gross
  5. He has started helping!  He loves choosing a diaper from his basket when he needs one, handing me my shoes if I ask, and will sometimes help pick up legos or spilled Cheerios, it’s the best 🙂
  6. He is always on the go, but gives the best hugs when if he ever slows down.  I call him my reluctant cuddle buddy.
  7. He is getting so many little bumps and bruises, mainly from going too fast or not looking where he’s going.
  8. He loves playgrounds!  This is something I really looked forward to and I’m so happy that the age of playground dates has arrives 🙂  He loves going down the slide and generally exploring and collecting rocks and sticks.
  9. He thinks any and all bodily functions are hilarious.  Unless he’s tired and they they’re terrible and make him cry….
  10. He is fascinated by small objects.  One of his favorite pastimes is collecting little rocks and sticks and trying to pick up bugs.  It is so sweet, but tricky to keep them out of his mouth!

Any advice from toddler mamas?

Any good book recommendations on toddler development?

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Guest Post: Tips for Playfulness and Roughhousing

Good morning and happy Friday!

I’m excited to share a guest post today from Laura at Listening for Good, a fellow Austin blogger who writes about respectful parenting and education.  She has a masters from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and is an instructor with Hand in Hand Parenting, a positive parenting organization that works with families to build stronger parent-child connections.

Today I’m sharing a post that originally appeared on her awesome blog about how to have fun and play with your child, while still respecting them and the inherent power differential between a child and an adult.  I loved this post and I hope you do too!

Tips for Playfulness and Roughhousing

By Laura Minnigerode

I have been trying some new playful parenting tools. Play is an amazing connector of hearts and creator of laughs, two really important and valuable things! It just does not always come naturally for me.

One thing that does help, though, is a good list of starting points!  My sources for these ideas: Hand in Hand Parenting‘s wonderful resources, and the books Playful Parenting and the Art of Roughhousing. Share more ideas with me in the comments or on Facebook in my Parenting by Connection group.

 1   Tune in, don’t swoop in. This kind of playfulness is about connection. It is important that your child has the upper hand in the power balance. At the same time, it is such a good chance to pay close attention to cues. It is vital that you honor this.   

2  Think of ways to be silly. Look for any possible avenue. Go way over board on this. Some examples: Pretend you forgot what day it is, or that you are mixed up about the way to pronounce something. Hold the homework paper upside down while trying to figure it out. With toddlers, especially, any thing that produces laughter is a winner.

3  Play may lead to big feelings. Tears or upset during or after play times are ok! It does not mean you did it wrong. Listen to the feelings that come up and stay present. In fact: sometimes imperceptible and even imaginary hurts can come up during play, and respond as if they are real and important.

4  Careful but not too much caution. It is good and so important to be safe. When doing active play like a pillow fight, choose your space with this in mind, and remove any potential hazards.  At the same time, try not to project an overly cautious attitude. When kids see that you are attentive to safety but also trust their play, it’s an incredibly powerful message. This is a big step towards resilience.

5  Don’t tickle. It is an uncomfortable feeling that takes power away. Parents generally have more power so it is valuable to invert that relationship in play.

 6 Use Listening Time to get support. Save your responses and use the support of another person or listener, that is the place to process your annoyance, anxiety or frustration about parenting.

Check out Laura’s blog for more great tips, as well as parenting workshops!

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Monthly Meal Planning Update with a Sample

I mentioned several months ago I was going to try meal planning on a monthly basis, rather than weekly.  Now that it’s been a while, I wanted to do an update on how it’s going, because I really love it!

Reasons I tried monthly meal planning:

– Every week I would realize it was time to go to the grocery store and I had no plan.  This would usually happen at night when I was too tired to get out cookbooks / look through pinterest so I quickly scrawled out an unimaginative grocery list with things I didn’t need a recipe for

– Because of the above, we ate the same things all of the time and I was getting really sick of it

– Because I wasn’t putting much thought into meal planning, I often had to go to the store multiple times per week

– I love shopping at Trader Joes, but there are some things they don’t have, or that I prefer to buy elsewhere.  I really don’t want to go to multiple grocery stores every week though.

My process:

1. Choose cookbooks

I personally love looking through physical cookbooks, so I like to choose a few to use each month.  I have a lot of cookbooks already, but I think I may try checking out some new ones from the library next month just for fun.  I also use online recipes sometimes.

2. Choose 16 recipes

We almost always have leftovers (though I’m not sure how long this will remain true with the amount our little guy is eating these days….).  I usually choose four recipes per week, and this is almost always enough for us.  I just make a list of the recipes, noting which cookbook they’re from and the page number.

3. Make a weekly calendar

I plan four weeks at a time, so I make a simple grid.  (Someone spilled a whole cup of coffee on this one…not naming any names.)  I divide up the recipes by week, trying to balance things I like with things my husband likes, lighter meals and heavier meals, etc.  I write the source and page numbers on here too.

Yes, I have bad handwriting….

4. Make grocery lists

Once I’ve divided the recipes by week, I make the grocery list for each of the four weeks.  I only plan dinners, as I almost always eat the same breakfast and eat random salads and stuff for lunch.  I always add things we need to the list before going to the store, but it’s great to have the main list done ahead of time.  As I’m going through the recipes, I make separate lists for things I want to buy at Costco or Target.  These lists are usually small.

I keep the list on the refrigerator so that, theoretically, my husband could add stuff he wants me to get.  I don’t think this has actually have happened though….

5. Grocery shopping

I go to Costco once at the beginning of the month.  I usually buy all of our meat here and a few other staples.  I don’t make a special trip to Target, I just save that list for whenever we need to go there next.  Then I go to Trader Joe’s weekly, usually on Mondays.

What I love:

– I actually enjoy looking for recipes now!  I like to cook, so this is fun for me when it’s not a weekly scramble.

– We are eating so much more variety now.  This is especially important to me now that James is often eating what we’re eating, as I want him to try lots of new foods while he’s still really willing to eat almost anything.

– I rarely have to make extra trips to the grocery store.

– I haven’t actually tracked this, but I think we’re saving money due to fewer grocery trips and more conscious meal planning.  I usually plan several vegetarian meals per week, which definitely cuts down on costs.

– It’s more efficient.  It takes me maybe 1.5-2 hours to do this every month, but for me, that’s much quicker than the cumulative time of doing it weekly.

– Every week feels balanced with a mix of vegetarian and meat-based recipes and a mix of lighter and heavier meals.

What I don’t love:

– It’s harder to be flexible.  Things come up, people come to visit, we decide to go out of town, etc.  It can be annoying to update the grocery list because I have to figure out what ingredients were for what recipe, etc.  This can be annoying, but it’s worth it to me for all of the pros.

This Month’s Meal Plan:

Most of the recipes I use are from actual cookbooks, not online, so I can’t share all of the recipes, but here is our meal plan for this month.  It wound up being a little more meat-heavy than usual, but otherwise is pretty typical:

October 9-15

Salmon with potatoes and vegetable

Enchiladas from this post – loved these

Ham and cheese waffles & eggs from The America’s Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook (didn’t actually make these, I don’t remember what we did instead….)

Red lentil dal with cilantro rice

October 16-22

Salmon Bites with cous cous and brussels sprouts

Turkey black bean chili (a recipe I’ve used for years from a blog that no longer seems to exist)

Brown rice stir fry with tofu from Martha Stewart’s Meatless

Vegetable Tostadas from The America’s Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook

October 23-29

Salmon

White corn cheddar chowder from Martha Stewart’s Meatless

Southwestern Hash from Martha Stewart’s Meatless

Steak and mashed potatoes with broccoli (I didn’t actually buy the steak at Costco, so will come up with something else, probably fish)

October 30-November 5

Lasagna (this recipe or this recipe – haven’t decided)

Chickpea burgers from Martha Stewart’s Meatless with naan and tzatziki

Lemon rosemary risotto from Risotto with chicken sausage

Burrito bowls (homemade beans with brown rice and toppings)

Do you meal plan?

Do you have any good lasagna recipes?

*Please note this post contains affiliate links – I get a small percentage if items are purchased, at no cost to you.  I only include items I have and love.  Thanks for your support!

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Five Tips to Maximize Naptime

As any parent of young kids knows, nap time is super valuable, and one of the best (only?) times to get things done.  I actually find myself wondering how parents get anything done when their kids no longer nap, but I try not to think about that too much.

When I first had James, especially when his naps were often short and unpredictable, I found myself a little frantic during naps.  I wanted to get so much done, but my brain was too foggy to remember it all and I wasn’t sure where to begin.  Plus I also wanted to just lay down and relax sometimes, but if I did that, I just kept thinking about all of the things I should be doing.

Well I finally have a nap time strategy that works well for me, so I thought I’d share.

1. Make a plan – and write it down

This seems fairly obvious, but it took me a while to actually start doing this.  I would come up with a plan in my mind, but I would often forget what it was and I still found myself questioning the best use of the time the whole time he was sleeping.

Now I take a few minutes on Sunday and schedule what I plan to do during each nap time throughout the week.  I enter it all in my Google calendar.  Jame’s naps aren’t always at the exact same time, but he always takes two right now and they’re roughly at 9 and 1:30, so I just use those times on my calendar.

Obviously things change throughout the week, so each night I look at what I’ve planned for the next day and adjust as needed.

2. Don’t save everything for nap time

Sometimes I’ve planned to get something done during nap time, but then I look around and the house is chaos and I decide to spend *just a few minutes* straightening up.  It’s never just a few minutes.  Even if it is, that’s still time I could have used toward whatever I planned.

So I really try to do that straightening up when James is awake.  It is a more efficient use of my time and I also think it’s beneficial to show even very young children that cleaning up is a part of playing and a part of life.  Sometimes it’s comical trying to put things away with my little sidekick following me around “fixing” everything, but I just remind myself that I have all the time I need.  I also do things like folding laundry while James is playing next to me.  Some chores, like sweeping and mopping, are pretty impossible with a baby nearby, but I am often surprised by how much I can get done while he’s happily playing in the living room or kitchen.

3. Divide the time

I’ve pretty much come to terms with the fact that I will never again be fully caught up on everything, at least not for eighteen years or so.  Housework is pretty quickly undone around here, and that’s okay, it’s just part of this (mostly really fun) stage.  Still, I don’t want to spend every minute of James’s nap time cleaning, that’s just no fun and it would leave no time for things I love (like writing this blog!)

So I roughly divide what I work on by his two naps.  I generally use his morning nap for computer projects, like the blog, freelance writing, working on his baby book, planning trips, emails, etc.  I then use his afternoon nap for cleaning and prepping dinner.  This helps the house not get too out of control, but also ensures I have time to work on other things.

This also works for me because I’m a big time morning person, so it makes sense to do the things that require thought / creativity in the morning.  I think it helps to figure out what time of day you do your best work.

Obviously he won’t always take two naps.  When he moves down to one nap, I’ll probably either divide the time in half, or alternate days, depending on how long his nap winds up being.

4. Commit to relaxation

While it’s tempting to use every second of every nap trying to catch up, that would make me crazy.  Everyone needs some time to just chill (and we’ve already established we’re never catching up anyway, so might as well take a break).

I usually use at least one Friday nap and read a book.  This is one of my favorite times of the week.  It feels luxurious to sit with a book in the middle of the morning and it’s something nice to look forward to at the end of the week.  Because I’ve planned it ahead of time, I have an easier time just relaxing instead of thinking about everything I should be doing instead.

5. Be flexible

This is definitely the hardest for me.  While I do think it really helps to have a plan, obviously baby isn’t in on this plan and he may only sleep for thirty minutes, regardless of what you need to get done.

One thing that helps me with this is setting a minimum nap time.

I didn’t do this when he was younger, and would often wake up crying, but now I pretty much always make nap time at least an hour, even if he wakes up sooner.  He stays in his bed until it has been an hour (this isn’t a hard and fast rule, I would certainly go check on him if he was really upset).  He usually just talks to himself in his bed when this happens, and sometimes even falls back to sleep!

How do you maximize your time, any tricks?

Are you a morning or night person?

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A Weekend Away – Wine Tasting in Fredericksburg

This past weekend was my sister’s bachelorette party.  It was the first time I’ve ever been away from James overnight (and I’ve only been away once for bedtime when he was less than three months old).

I thought about this weekend on and off for months.  When I was having a hard day, I’d look forward to it.  When James was being clingy, I’d worry about it.

As it approached though, I was pretty confident he’d be just fine.  He loves his Dad so much and I knew they’d have a blast together.  I was really hoping I would be able to relax and enjoy the time with family and friends without worrying too much, and that was a success!

The weekend went by so fast and I didnt’ take nearly enough pictures.  Still, I want to remember this time, so decided to share a short recap anyway.

We went to Fredericksburg, TX for the weekend to go wine tasting.  If you’re not familiar with the area, it’s about an hour and a half from Austin in the heart of the Texas hill country.  There are many vineyards there and also lots of cute little shops and restaurants.

We rented a house through Airbnb and it was SO cute.  There were so many adorable details and we seriously could not get over the house.  It was so nice to be able to sit around and hang out together instead of going back to separate hotel rooms.

We were getting in kind of late Friday night, so I just made taco stuff ahead of time and brought that and we had margaritas.  I somehow managed to stay up until 2 AM, which I certainly haven’t done in a LONG time.

Despite the late night, I woke up pretty early Saturday and enjoyed some time sitting in the amazing outside space at the house.  I was so sad to realize I had forgotten my book at home, but it was still nice to sit out there with a cup of coffee.

People got up gradually and we drank mimosas and ate bagels with some great homemade spreads my mom made.  Eventually, we headed out to do some wine tasting.

If you’re ever in Fredericksburg, I highly recommend the 290 wine shuttle.  It’s a great compromise between hiring a driver and driving yourself.  Many of the vineyards are along the same road and the shuttle runs between them every 15 minutes.  The daily pass is only $25, so it’s much more cost effective than a private driver, and also more flexible.

We went at a very leisurely pace and only went to two vineyards.  Both were beautiful and the weather was really great.  It was so nice to sit outside with live music sipping wine with family and friends.

Eventually we headed back to the house to hang out for a while before dinner.  At this point, I tried to do a video chat with my husband and James.  James had been doing great the whole day, but when he saw me on the phone, he definitely started looking a little concerned.  He was making little whimpering noises and it was so sad, so I hung up pretty quickly.

My husband reassured me that he was doing great and sent me lots of pictures from their adventures.  I think seeing me on the phone just reminded him that I wasn’t there.

We went to dinner at the Treaty House and it was so, so good.  It was small plates and they were all delicious, but my favorite part was probably the craft cocktails, which were some of the best I’ve ever had.  There was also a really cute little jazz band and some couples dancing.  The atmosphere was great.

We hung out at the house some more and went to bed.  The next morning, we opted for more bagels and hanging out over our original brunch plans and it was a super relaxing morning.

As we made the drive back to Austin, I got more and more excited to see the little guy!  I had a really wonderful weekend away, but I could not wait to see him.  My husband had the window on the front door open and James ran over and started waving and giving me the best smiles.  It was a pretty great feeling.

Even though I didn’t get much sleep this weekend, I feel really refreshed after a little time away and so excited to just hang out at home with James today.

Have you had any fun weekend trips lately?

If you’ve had a bachelor / bachelorette party, was it pretty low-key or totally crazy?

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What I’m Reading Lately

Good morning!

I’ve been reading blogs since college, so for over ten years (yikes…I’m getting old.)

I’ve found a few new (to me) blogs recently though that I really love, so wanted to share!  Please share your favorites in the comments, I love finding new blogs to read!

A Day in Mom Life: I really love her down to earth writing style and variety of topics.  Plus, she’s an RN, so I feel like she’s got a lot of great advice!

Fishies in a Row: I discovered this blog a couple of weeks ago and have been reading through her old posts, love it!  She writes about Montessori at home, as well as other things.

The Montessori Way I just started reading this one, but have already found so many great ideas I want to copy at home!  She posts beautiful pictures of the Montessori work she uses for her baby at home.

Hashtag Mom Fail: This is the most recent one I’ve found and she writes with such honesty and openness.  I’ve been reading through all of her old posts and really love how brave she is with what she shares.

I’ve been reading these next few for longer, but these are some great Montessori blogs I love as well:

Montessori Maniac: This is written by my good friend and mentor, Natalie, and it is great!  She is an amazing Montessori teacher and also a mother to two boys, so she offers a great dual perspective of a mom and teacher.

The Kavenaugh Report: She writes about Montessori at home and has great ideas and beautiful Montessori home spaces.

How We Montessori: She also writes about Montessori at home and shares all sorts of beautiful Montessori spaces and ideas.  She also wrote a Montessori kids cookbook that I can’t wait to buy for James in a year or so.

If this isn’t enough reading, check out these articles I’ve recently written for Motherly!

Have you found any new blogs lately? Please share or link to your own!

 

 

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Four Thoughts from the Library

Our car was in the shop last week so I walked to the library story time near our house.  On our walk, I did some reflecting, and wanted to share these four (random) thoughts.

1. The library is awesome

On a day we otherwise would have been stuck at home, we were able to walk to the library for a great storytime with other babies.  I love that these story times offer a free opportunity for James to interact with other babies.  I don’t really want to pay for a baby gym class or anything at this point, but I do think it’s beneficial for him to practice interacting with other little ones.

Plus, on the walk there, I was listening to a free audiobook from the library website (Commonwealth by Ann Patchett, I liked it).  Did you know that this was a thing?  I just recently realized they offered free audiobook downloads and I think it’s kind of amazing!

2. Gender biases start young

A little boy brought over a ball to someone else’s mom and she said “Thank you.  Boys love balls”  Why???  I’m not trying to judge her because I’ve said about a million things that I later think I shouldn’t have.  I do think it’s interesting though.  Sure little boys love balls…and so do little girls.  Why put these stereotypes on one year old children?

It just made me realize how soon this stuff starts and I know it will only get worse when he’s out of the house and away from us more as he grows.  Do you have any tips for combating this at home?

3. I need to start filtering

On the walk home, I was waiting, along with two other pedestrians, for the crosswalk to turn.  Right after the walk sign came on and we started going, this guy pulled up right across the crosswalk, looking the other way to see if there were any cars, and never even saw us, even though he almost hit us.  I called him an idiot (he couldn’t hear me).

I realized that I really need to start filtering what I say more.  I don’t use terrible language, but I definitely curse when I stub my toe or something.  For some reason, I never once had a problem with this when I was teaching, but I think it’s because I’m obviously more myself and unfiltered at home than at work.  I’m not sure how to go about doing this, but I know at some point James’s vocabulary is going to explode and I’d rather it didn’t explode with f-bombs….

4. It’s hard to balance your own beliefs with others’ expectations

This was definitely the biggest one and something I thought about most of the way home.  I believe pretty strongly that adults should interfere as little as possible in children’s conflicts (I wrote about Montessori conflict resolution here if you’re interested).

However, I realized this is going to be hard for me when I’m around other non-Montessori parents.  I don’t want them to think I don’t see James doing something or that I don’t care.  I also don’t want to lecture these almost strangers about my parenting philosophy.

So my solution was to interfere when James did something (took a toy from someone) and not interfere when someone did something to him (more stealing of toys).  This was obviously a poor solution and I felt pretty terrible about it, though he didn’t seem to care.

I don’t know the answer though.  I’m going to ask my friend Natalie when I see her because she always has the answers!

Do you ever have trouble maintaining your parenting philosophy in groups with other parents?

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I pledge to raise a peaceful child

I pledge to raise a peaceful child.

It’s no longer enough for people to be non-violent, to not add to the problem, we need people who will work against violence.  And in order for those people to exist, we need to help shape them.

Our children can grow up to be the generation to say enough is enough.  To say that human beings are smart enough and kind enough and brave enough to say no to prejudice and hate.  It’s such a very big problem, but let’s do what we can to end it.

I pledge to never laugh at a racist or sexist joke, even if it makes things awkward.  I pledge to say what I believe instead.  Our children are watching and listening, always.  It’s not enough to not be the one making the joke.  It’s not enough to be silent.

I pledge to seek out diverse schools and churches and communities for my son to be a part of.  Because it’s knowing real people, of all kinds, on a personal level, that puts a stop to hate.

I pledge to talk about race in our house, even if it makes me uncomfortable.

I pledge to read books and listen to music and admire art from all different cultures with my son.

I pledge to celebrate different cultures by cooking their recipes and going to eat their food at authentic restaurants because food brings us together and gives us a glimpse into the beauty of different groups of people.

I pledge to say “hello” to people of different races when I see them on the street.  People tend to stick to their own groups because it’s easier and I don’t want to ever perpetuate that, but especially not when my son is with me.

I pledge to talk to him about bullying, about standing up for people, and about connecting with people who are different, or who may look different, but really have so much in common.

I pledge to do everything I possibly can to raise a child who will not only not add to the violence of the world, but who will do what he can to stop it.

It’s a scary world out there and it’s easy to feel like we can’t do anything to make it better.  But we can, and we should.  We can do a million mundane, seemingly insignificant things that help shape our children every day, and add up to something real.

We have a big, often daunting, job trying to talk to our children about everything that’s going on.  But we also have an awesome responsibility and a beautiful opportunity to help them be the kind of people who will work hard to build a better future.

It’s never too early to start the conversation.

 

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