You Know You’re an SPD Parent When

People like to give you parenting advice about how you aren’t strict enough with your child and need to try spanking, timeouts, charts and numerous other things to get your kid back in line while you think to yourself, “Yea buddy, I wish those things worked with my child.”

When all your friends ask you where that “cool park” is you posted on facebook because knowing where every park is within a 10-mile radius of your home is mandatory knowledge.

You own at least one pair of noise canceling ear muffs and not because you go to the gun range, but because you never know what noise you will need to cancel out to avoid a meltdown.

You keep buying socks because there never seem to be any in the sock drawer and when you look for the three dozen pairs you know you own you can only find one sock at a time, you know in places like the kitchen, the car, outside, in the dogs bed, under the couch. . . everywhere, except, on the little feet they were bought for.

You know where all the indoor kid’s gyms, playgrounds, and bouncy places are and what the best times to go to avoid the crowds.

Other parents think you forgot your child’s jacket when in reality you have in the car: a long sleeve flannel shirt, a sweatshirt and two types of jackets because you were hoping your child might cooperate and put one on at some point.

You own at least two trampolines and/or swings (because you need at least one inside and one outside), three types of bikes, the spinny rocky thing you saw another SPD parent post on your FB group and you made your husband make a mini ninja warrior obstacle training course in the back yard because you are trying to retain a little bit of sanity.

You are never on time, not because you don’t try but because you child takes their shoes and socks off five times before you make it out the door and you have to chase them around the house 8 times to catch them to put on the shoes and socks, again.

You talk about something your child does to another parent and they say “oh that’s normal, my kid does that” and you scream in your head,”You don’t even know, YOU DONT EVEN KNOW!” while you grimace a smile and nod.

You have a reserve of patience larger than Mother Theresa’s.

*Sensory Processing Disorder is when the body does not correctly take in and process sensory information from our seven senses.  People with this disorder are often overwhelmed or underwhelmed by stimuli from their environment and have trouble reacting as our society would deem “in an appropriate manner.”  Sensory Processing Disorder is not well known to teachers and pediatricians, and that needs to change so the children with this disorder can get the help need.  Read more about my SPD story here:SPD.

 

Kids Clothes Don’t have to Cost a Fortune

I don’t know about you but I don’t like spending a boat load of money on clothes.  I used to work in promotional products and if you knew how much profit they make selling you a $20 t-shirt with a snazzy logo you would rarely buy one again (unless it’s to support an awesome cause).

Also, my child grows like a weed.  We bought him a pair of cowboy boots in October to go with his Cowboy Halloween costume and by November he had outgrown them.  I bought my son a handful of pants for the winter a few months back because I thought it might be cold, but our Texas winter only lasted a couple of days before the weather warmed back up making long pants unbearable.  I went to his drawer to grab him some shorts only to discover that most of them were not going to fit and his swim trunks for his swim lessons were getting a little snug.  I knew I would be having to make a shopping trip for him.

I went to my favorite kid’s resale store during my lunch break the next day and I scored.  I found 10 pairs of shorts, 2 pairs of swim trunks and 4 shirts for right around $50.  That’s less than $3.50 per item average and I got him practically a wardrobe of clothes that should last well into summer as long as he doesn’t grow too much more… Two of the shorts still had tags on them, I always find superhero wear and all the clothes still have a lot of wear in them.  I have to say I’ve found some of the most awesome shirts at the thrift stores, All the SuperHero’s, Disney’s Cars, Monster Trucks, Dinosaurs, Curious George and Dr. Seuss.  I don’t think I ever would have found those last two anywhere else, and definitely not at less than $5 a piece.  I have a rule that I won’t spend more than $5 on an item of clothing for my child unless it’s a specialty piece like a jacket or shoes.  Unfortunately, the weather just took a turn back to cold, but thanks to my $50 fall wardrobe purchase he has plenty of warm pants.

If you’ve never been thrift shopping I encourage you to give it a try, and not just for the kiddo’s.  I am currently wearing a pair of Express Jeans I scored in a thrift shop two years ago for $20 because I refuse to spend more than $20 on a pair of jeans.  Sometimes it can be frustrating because you find something you love in the wrong size and they don’t have the correct size, but sometimes it’s awesome and you find exactly what you’re looking for. There are so many brands all in one place, you don’t have to wait and shop the sales and you won’t find something you absolutely love, look at the price tag and have to hang it back up.

Running Wild or Staying Tame

I recently attended a child’s birthday party at one of our favorite local parks.  It’s an awesome park with multiple play areas.  It’s an older wooden park but it has everything you can imagine swings, a handful of slides, ramps, shaky bridges, tires to climb, balance beams, poles to slide down, a climbing wall, it even has a small zip-line.

While we were at the party my son hit most of the equipment.  He slid down the slides, balanced on the beam, walked on the shaky bridges, I helped him zip on the zip-line.  He squealed with laughter and called for his friends to “follow me.”  I found myself amazed and somewhat baffled when my son tried to entice not one but three different friends to follow him down the slides and none of the children would partake in the slide play.  They all acted slightly terrified of the slides, even the smaller ones. I found myself wondering how often the other children visited parks.

My son and I are frequent visitors, at many parks.  I try to make sure we got to the parks at least once a week and if the weather permits more often. (We play in the yard almost every day).  I’ve found myself stopping at a park while driving because it was one we had never been to before and I wanted my child to experience the joy of a new park.  Or sometimes if I have had a rough day myself we will stop at a park on the way home so I can boost my own spirits watching my child scramble and climb and slide with him enticing me to also scramble and climb and slide.  (We even bring the dog on most excursions and she too will climb and slide.)

Am I a rare mother to bring my child to the park? I have so many fond memories myself, of playing at parks as a child, I could never imagine not taking my own child to experience the joy and wonder and magic of park play.  What is wrong in our world that our children are not playing at parks? How do mother’s cope without taking their child to a place where they can run wild and expend all the energy that only little children are filled to the brim with?

I’ve read so many articles about how important it is for children to experience unstructured play.  How much good it does for them to run and play and learn and what better place than a park?

This week’s challenge for all you parents. . . take your child to a park, (or two) and listen to their laughter.  If you’re feeling extra adventurous, join them for a slide or two, or hang upside down with them like a monkey.  You will be empowered by the feelings.

 

 

A Couple Great Articles about Outside Play:

Why Nature is the Best Extra Curricular Activity for Your Child

Simplifying Childhood May Protect Against Mental Health Issues

Lessons Learned from a Ladder

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When you have a handy husband, you have ladders.  Sometimes those ladders get used and left out and your toddler becomes fascinated with them.

When we arrived home the other day I noticed my husband had left a ladder out underneath the pergola.  The babe and I emerged from the car and headed to the yard for some outdoor play.  I scanned the yard looking for signs of foul play and oddities. I couldn’t figure out why the ladder was in that spot underneath the pergola and it took me a moment to deduce what was different.  “Oh,” I thought relieved to have found my answer.  My husband had moved a metal cow skull from the pergola to his workshop.

When my gaze turned back to the pergola and the ladder I realized my child had decided to take advantage of my 30-second distraction and was making his way to the top of the climbing apparatus.  My adrenaline kicked up a notch and my first maternal instinct was to rip him off the ladder and knock the equipment to the ground so he couldn’t climb to the top and fall off.  I pushed those thoughts aside and opted for method number two.  I took a picture to show my husband what mischief the child was making and followed him up the ladder to provide him a buffer between himself, the ground and the possibility of a fall. When we parent our primal protective instincts can overwhelm us to try to shield our children from any and all dangerous situations they may encounter.  While this is a good inclination to possess, I think more often than not we go overboard listening to our instincts and forget that our tiny humans were created to learn and explore.  I knew straight away that my determined child would not stop until he had climbed the ladder, so instead of fighting him on the issue I let him climb while remaining a short distance away in case he needed help at some point during his new adventure.  After he reached the peak of the ladder and had his fill of playing with the tiny lights that were now in his reach he decided he wanted to come down.  He more or less turned around and practically jumped on top of me.

When we parent our primal protective instincts can overwhelm us to try to shield our children from any and all dangerous situations they may encounter.  While this is a good inclination to possess, I think more often than not we go overboard listening to our instincts and forget that our tiny humans were created to learn and explore.  I knew straight away that my determined child would not stop until he had climbed the ladder, so instead of fighting him on the issue I let him climb while remaining a short distance away in case he needed help at some point during his new adventure.  After he reached the peak of the ladder and had his fill of playing with the tiny lights that were now in his reach he decided he wanted to come down.  He more or less turned around and practically jumped on top of me so I’m glad I had taken up position a few rungs behind him.  I turned him back around and taught him the proper way to come down the ladder, one rung at a time, slowly and carefully.

We need to remember in parenting that letting our children make mistakes  and fall down and get up are all integral parts of their learning process.  We have to let them try things so they might fail things so we may teach them how to cope when they fail at things.  Or we have to let them try things to succeed at things so that we can share in their triumph  and foster their independence that, yes, they can do things on their own.

Your challenge for this week is to allow your child do something that you find somewhat terrifying.  Stay close in case they need you but let them complete whatever task or adventure on their own. If you aren’t one to just stand around feel free to join in the fun, but remember you are playing beside them, not interrupting their independence.

I Know You Have a Babysitter

Why is that when you ask a room full of parents who has a good babysitter the answer is almost always a room full of crickets?

I can’t tell you how frustrating it is being a new parent and being leery of trusting your child into the hands of a stranger, but it’s even more frustrating when you ask a parent with a bit more experience for help and you are met with silence.

I finally threw up my hands and opted for an internet solution on Care.com.  I tried Sittercity.com first but wasn’t happy with the results, so I thought, what do I have to lose? I don’t have a babysitter and I could end up not having a babysitter. . .  I posted an ad and received an enormous amount of responses.  I combed through the responses looking through profiles and even looked through other local profiles.  I ended up messaging someone who had a profile, but hadn’t responded to my add.  We conversed a bit and then set up a date for a trial run.

The first babysitting episode I always think of as a trial run.  The babysitter comes over and my husband and I disappeared outside to his “mancave” to work on the paperwork for his business.  We were right outside in case needed and so we could monitor how things were going.

We lucked out.  The babysitter we found has turned out to be incredible.  Our son likes her, (he even asks if she is coming over), our dog approves of her and it turns out I worked with her Aunt at a previous job which further brought me comfort. (She’s also a baker which is super awesome since the person I had been using for cakes and cupcakes just moved!)

I recently had a friend ask for our babysitters information and I had a moment of hesitation.  I almost didn’t want to relinquish the information, but after I texted the babysitter to make sure it was okay with her I turned over the information.

So to those of you with a good babysitter. . . please share.  For the sake of sanity, please share.

 

The Short End of The Stick

Oh, my dear stay at home moms. I’m glad society finally sees the value of the stay at home mom. You are an awesome bunch of ladies who sacrifice so much to make sure your children get what they need. I’ve seen a lot of writings about stay at home moms as of late and as a working mom I find them often a little disheartening. I feel a flicker of a connection in some areas but I also feel wildly disconnected. . . I feel a bit left out.

I didn’t realize until I became a working mother how considerable the differences are between stay at home moms and working mothers, and while I don’t believe that either choice is superior to the other I often feel like us working moms get the short end of the stick.

Just like you, as a working Mom I am the primary care giver to my child. The biggest difference is that I don’t stay at home during the day with my child. My child goes to school during the day while I work which means I am only allowed a small allotment of time to spend with my child in the mornings and evening during the week. Just like you stay at home moms I want to make the most out of my time with my child. Unfortunately I also have to squeeze in the same things you do laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, time with my husband, other family and friends and do you know what? It’s hard. It is so incredibly hard.

I love being a mom. I like working outside the home, but I have found that I often feel like a plate spinner. Just as it takes dedication and skill to keep those plates spinning,  I feel like my life is constantly spent trying to keep all the different areas of my life spinning so my world doesn’t come crashing down on me in an obliteration of glass and debris. I feel I am constantly being pulled in twenty different directions and when I finally get an unexpected moment to breathe I don’t know what to do with myself.

When I look for things to do with my child in the evenings and on the weekends I find that my choices are extremely limited. No story time at the library. No mommy and me yoga. No mommy and me anything. All the classes I can find are during the day. . . while I’m at work. Ok. Fine. I did manage to find a swim class we could take together, and it seems now my child is getting older my choices are finally increasing some.

Now, let’s talk playdates. Let’s try to get together with some of the wonderful moms from my online moms group. Every time I find someone posting for a playdate I take one look at the date and time and my heart sinks. It’s always during the day. . . when I’m at work. I’ve tried posting listings for weekend playdates a few times with not much luck. I did have one and it was awesome and I need to get together with her again, I just wish she lived closer. . .

Which brings me to one of the big complaints I see of stay at home moms. . . that they need friends.  Um, hello, us, working moms need friends too. We may get to leave the house on a daily basis and have adult interactions with people we work with, but in my line of work I work with mostly men, and the handful of women in my office are all a decade older than me so I don’t have much in common with them.  I want to be surrounded by other mothers who can tell me all the things my child does are normal. Friends who can make me laugh and remind me how to not get so wrapped up in caring for my child that I neglect myself.

I am jealous of you, sometimes, stay at home moms. I wish I had more time to spend with my child. I wish I didn’t feel guilty turning on a show for my child to watch while I whip up dinner, feeling like I’m neglecting him, but we have to eat. I wish I had a kitchen fairy so I could get a good night’s sleep instead of doing dishes in the late hours of the evening while the child sleeps. I wish I didn’t fall asleep with my child 2-3 times a week and feel like my husband gets neglected. I wish so many things, but then I come back to reality and just suck it up and keep going. I will continue to use my lunch break at work to run errands, plan meals, get my oil changed, anything I can squeeze in so I can spend more time being with my family while I’m with my family. And going forward I’m going to stop comparing my life as a working mom to life as a stay at home mom, because in the grander scheme of things we are just busy mothers trying to make the best of the hand we were dealt with.

The Battle for Bedtime

You have never been a good sleeper, my child.  Always afraid you might miss something, you would do your best to keep those pretty hazel eyes wide open as long as you possibly could. As a babe your naps were so short I was often overwhelmed at the lack of nap time I could use to try to accomplish tasks.  It seemed like as soon as I barely laid you down in your crib I would take a breath and start a task and you would be awake.  If you slept for forty-five minutes at a time, I was ecstatic and was unsure of what to do with myself.

As bedtime would roll around, I would be exhausted and you would be seemingly full of energy.  I tried every trick I could think of to help get you relax and fall asleep but the length of time until your eyes would close only seemed to grow longer.  We walked miles through the house while I patted and sang.  When I wouldn’t walk anymore I would place you in the swing and hope the rocking motion would lull you to sleep.  That worked a few weeks until you figured out if you kicked your feet and leaned forward you could stay awake.

I would nurse you until fell into slumber only to have you awaken when I would remove you from my body and place you in your crib.  We would then start the process again.  When you were older and my milk had dried up I would hold you while you had your bottle, then walk, then lay you down, then pat you, then walk some more and sing, and try the process again.  I would grow so frustrated at the process of putting you to bed.  It would take an hour, sometimes two and by the time you were finally asleep I would be so exhausted that I would fall asleep soon after, missing out on any evening adult time.

Your father in frustration asked why other people children would go to bed at seven while we were lucky for ours to even act remotely tired by nine.  I didn’t know how to answer him.  I was frustrated also, as I was the one in battle with you trying to make an unwearied boy fall asleep.  I cursed the mothers with the easy children and almost lost my cool when a friend, also a first time mother, dared to ask me how old you were when I first “let you sleep through the night.”  After texting her a horrible response with lots of cursing and accusatory tones, I deleted my frustrations and responded with “We still don’t sleep through the night.”  You must have been about 10 months old at the time.

It wasn’t until past your first birthday I stopped fighting and getting frustrated at the battle for bedtime. I finally realized you were just a high energy child who had to find a release for any pent up energy still stored in your body before your little eyes would close and your body would be still.  I would lay with you and let you wiggle next to me until you wiggled all the energy out and finally would fall asleep.  I learned to get rambunctious with you in play and to make sure you were allotted plenty of outdoor play or inside physical, rough and tumble, run around the house, screaming, bouncing, crazy play after dinner to make sure we could work out as much energy as possible to make those bedtime wiggles lessen ever so slightly.  The less I fought you and just resigned to the fact that you would never be an early to bed child, the easier it became and as you’ve grown the battle for bedtime has become easier.  You still have nights where the wiggles seem to never end and I fall asleep with you as I wait for your eyes to close and your body to still, but now it seems less like a battle and I even get in a few hours of adult time regularly in the evenings.

Sometimes the Guilt just keeps Coming

When you’re a working mom you are doused almost daily with guilt.  Guilt that you leave your child with someone so you can go to work.  Guilt that you don’t spend enough time with your child.  Guilt that you leave your child with a babysitter so you can have some adult time.  Guilt that you set you child in front of the television for 30 minutes so you can make dinner.  It pummels you from all corners and some days are so much worse than others. . .

The other day I had a heavy workload day and towards the end of the day I look up only to have an “oh shit” moment.  It was 4:11, I need to shut down and haul butt out of the building.  I usually leave work at 4 so I can pick up my child no later than 5pm.  I leave hurriedly only to be reminded by the gauges on my car that I’m going to have to stop and get gas on my way between work and daycare.  The whole way driving to pick my child up I am riddled with feelings of guilt.  I don’t like leaving him at school any longer than I have to.  I should have been paying better attention to the clock.  Traffic just plain sucks the whole way and I finally wind up at his daycare about 5:15.

Already riddled with guilt I step into his classroom only to see his crying face through the glass door leading to the playground.  My heart crumbles and I pick him up as soon as I make my way outside.  I take inventory of the situation.  Not even a handful of kids are outside and the teacher is not one of his normal teachers.  She leaves her post talking to the other teacher from across playground gate separating the older kids from the younger to make sure I know he has been “fussy” for about the last 20 minutes or so (The time I normally would have picked him up by.) as she lets me back in the building.  Another teacher is inside cleaning and lets me know she had been sitting outside with him holding him while he fussed until she was summoned away to begin her cleaning duties.  This does not bring me any comfort.

My heart is heavy.  I hug my child and carry him out to the car.  We take our time getting in the car while.  When I slide into the drivers seat I fight back tears and clear my throat to get rid of any sadness.  I am angry that the teacher was just standing around chatting and not making an effort to comfort my child.  I am so angry I wonder if this situation warrants an email to the director. . . I am also feeling guilty I left work late and picked him up late.  I hate the barrage of feelings that are bombarding me from all directions.

We get home and cuddle and play and do a lot of his favorite crazy rambunctious things to take our mind off the roughness of the afternoon.  My husband assures me that things like this will happen on occasion and I cannot let the feelings control me.  Just enjoy the time we do have together instead.  So we do.  We squash away those feelings of guilt and flood our hearts instead with joy and togetherness.

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