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Responding to tantrums with gentleness

Responding to tantrums with gentleness


As a toddler-mum, I am no stranger to tantrums. It seems that with every passing month of toddlerhood the tantrums are becoming longer, more intense… and harder to deal with. It’s part and parcel of parenting a toddler, I know this, but when I’m in the thick of those banshee wails and that angry, frantic flailing of limbs – I panic. Every time. I cannot reason with this tiny, ticked off little person. I cannot convince him to stop. I can’t even bribe him. His tantrums usually end with both of us reaching emotional exhaustion.

Recently, I noticed some blog posts and articles popping up around the place suggesting a patient, gentle response to tantrums. I wasn’t convinced. Cooing softly at a scrunched up, red little face didn’t sound like smart parenting to me. Treading softly around him and giving him what he wanted in order to keep his screaming to a minimum didn’t appeal either. To be honest, the whole gentle response thing seemed more like pandering and less like parenting.

Then I witnessed a gentle response in action.

I was on my way into a Café, and walked by a mum standing beside a crying little girl on the footpath. It was a tantrum in full swing, and I readied myself to issue the empathetic knowing smile, waiting for the inevitable huffy, “Stop crying! You’re being silly! I’m going to count to three! We’re going home right now!” You know, those standard panic-buttons we hit when the tantrums strike in public.

Instead, the mum sat down beside her, looked her lovingly in the eyes, and spoke to her gently, “I’m here. I know you’re upset. It’s okay. When you’re done crying, we can go back inside together.”

Did the little girl instantly stop crying? Of course not! When it comes to tantrums, there’s no magical off-switch. But the tantrum didn’t escalate, either. Mum and daughter sat together, waiting for the storm to pass.

Tantrums are based on:

-        Anger

-        A sense of injustice

-        Sadness

-        Fear

-        Uncertainty

None of these are pleasant feelings, and toddlers deal with them the best way they know how. They don’t have the ability to rationalise, and they don’t have a full grasp on perspective. So when they throw themselves on the floor in a full-blown tantrum, it’s because the world is ending. It seriously is. What I have learnt about responding gently and patiently when my toddler cracks it, is that it’s not about giving into whatever hair-brained idea has derailed him this time. It simply means being a soothing, safe place for him the whole time, so that when he stops for a breath, I’m there, loving him and cuddling him and telling him it’s okay. This is a stark contrast to the angry, fed-up, impatient mum he might have dealt with before – and I know which option would help me cheer up if I were in his shoes! Plus, as an added bonus, I find that concentrating on an intentionally gentle reaction actually keeps me calm in the face of a tantrum. His tantrum may not end any sooner, but it does end better – for both of us!

Here are my tips for keeping your cool and responding to tantrums with gentleness:

-        Pause. Breathe. Shake off any frustration that has started to build.

-        Avoid using phrases such as “Stop this now!”, “You’re being silly!” and “Don’t do that!” Instead, focus on responding with “I’m here”, “I know you’re upset” and “It’s not nice to feel angry, is it?”

-        Don’t try to rationalise with your toddler. Don’t try to distract him. All of his focus right now is on the big emotion he’s experiencing.

-        Get down to his level – standing over him when he’s feeling vulnerable can be intimidating

-        Be patient. Ride the waves and be ready to cheer him up when the screams turn to whimpers and he begins to listen to you once more.

-        When he moves on, you move on – don’t dwell on the tantrum or the reason behind it.

Gentleness isn’t generally our default response when it comes to tantrums, but with practise it can become second nature. Give it a try – see if it makes a differenc    

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GIVE AWAY - 1 X - Tend Sleepsuit up for grabs

GIVE AWAY - 1  X - Tend Sleepsuit up for grabs

 GIVE AWAY - 1  X - Tend Sleepsuit up for grabs ENTER HERE (competition coming soon) 

I love this sleep suit as my son hates blankets and is a little too big to wear a sleeping bag. I can never find the matching tops and bottoms for pyjamas either - so this is the perfect solution! 3 kids and I finally have the solution for my 3rd child! 

Today was the first day this school term that I have looked half decent at school drop off, you see for the past couple of weeks my 3 year old has been climbing into bed with us at all hours of the night, sleeping on me with limbs I didn't even know he had haha. As any mum who has little ones climb into bed  with them knows that you don't get a lot of sleep at all, if you are anything like me you roll out of bed in the morning, rush around to get kids ready for school and its not before you are dropping kids off and talking to other parents that you realise you didn't even brush your hair ha!

My husband and I have tried everything to get our 3 year old to stay in his bed, we noticed that since the weather has changed and gotten cooler that he has been coming in and saying that his cold. < no matter how many blankets we put on him.

So we were pretty excited when we received the X - Tend Sleepsuit in the mail, these suits are great they have removable sleeves for the warmer nights as well. The X -Tend Sleepsuit is perfect because he is not one for keeping his blankets on, hence him coming into bed with us every night.

Well what do you know the last 3 nights he has slept through, which means I have as well, which equals a happy mum

These suits really are amazing and  they are luxurious, super-soft, certified organic cotton; no polyester, no harmful chemicals and pesticides, creating a healthier option for baby – while being super practical for parents.

The X-Tend Sleepsuit is an Australian-first invention that grows with baby! Simply extend the arms and legs of the suit once the baby is ready for the next size. Boasting handy features such as removable sleeves, hand and feet mittens and two way front zippers, it’s suitable for babies 6 months up to 7 years of age. For babies 18 months and up, a unique extra-large drop seat feature makes nappy changes or middle of the night toilet stops so much more convenient. The X-Tend Sleepsuit keeps baby safe and comfortable all night without the worry of kicking off blankets.

You can find more about X - Tend Sleepsuits here:  sleepycompany.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I Miss My Husband!

I Miss My Husband!

 

“I miss you.”

I say these words to my husband far too often these days. Sure, the man gets home from work around 6 every day, watches TV with me for an hour or so most evenings, and sleeps beside me every night, but it’s not enough. Since having our son 18 months ago, our marriage has changed – in good ways, but also in challenging ways – and our quality time has suffered.

There is one other time in our marriage when this has been a problem – and it was right at the very beginning. We didn’t live together until after we were married, and within weeks of saying “I do” I realised that we were going days without connecting properly. Now that we were finally living together, we were both working on the assumption that we would just see each other all the time at home – which, in theory, freed us up to make lots of individual plans with friends and commitments to other people. But we quickly learnt that living together is not enough, and despite the fact that we were seeing each other regularly, we were not focusing enough on connecting regularly. It was our first lesson on marriage, and luckily we caught it quickly enough to change our habits before we did any damage.

Now with a little human in the Donovan family fold, we’ve fallen into the trap of taking each other for granted again. Don’t get me wrong – we’re fine, we’re happy, we’re very much in love – but still, we miss each other. That connection we’ve enjoyed so easily for over eight years now is a little harder to catch thanks to six o’ clock dinners, bedtime routines, teething, tantrums and toys all over the floor. When we flop down on the couch at the end of the day, it’s not often to spend quality time together – it’s to recover!

Does any of this sound familiar? Do you miss your husband as much as I miss mine? Here are some simple ways that may help you to reconnect.

Really talk

I can go days of building up things that I want to open up about with my husband, but never feel like there’s time to do it. I blame Netflix. Open conversation is so important in marriage though, and shouldn’t be reserved as something that happens once every few days. Go beyond the usual “How was your day?” small talk and delve deeper. Some couples have a set list of probing questions that they ask each other at the end of every day. I find it really beneficial to sit outside in our backyard when I want to have a good conversation with my husband in the evening. Something about the night sky, the lack of distraction and the openness of the space tends to foster our best chats.

Make eye contact

We can let a whole conversation slide by without ever looking someone in the eye these days – whether we’re loading the dishwasher, scrolling through Facebook, getting dressed or wrangling a toddler. Purposefully locking eyes while conversing instantly ups the connection and makes both people feel listened to and valued.

Laugh together

There is something wonderfully bonding about enjoying a laugh with someone – it aligns you for a moment and makes you feel like they just get it. Getting out of the house to enjoy a comedy show might not be the easiest when you’re deep in the throes of parenting, but watching a funny movie at home together (or heck, even dog videos on YouTube) should be equally satisfying.

Snuggle

A lack of physical connection is one of the quickest ways to grow apart from a spouse, so make sure to spend intentional time just holding (and being held by!) each other.

See a counsellor

Though I have not personally gone down the road of marriage counselling before, I have heard many people shouting the praises of a marriage ‘fine-tune’ once in a while, and it makes sense. Sometimes we need help to unpack all of our feelings before we can build our way back to a proper connection. Seeing a marriage counsellor is never a sign of failure – it’s a sign that you care about your marriage, and you want to put measures in place to protect it.

 

Our roles as parents are super important – but so are our roles as husband and wife! At the end of the day, our kids will grow up and leave home… but our spouses are in it for the long haul. Taking constant care of your relationship will help strengthen it and build a connection that will last for years to come.

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Raising Wild Kids: The Benefits of Outside Play

Raising Wild Kids: The Benefits of Outside Play

I am not an outdoorsy kind of girl. If there’s an opposite to “outdoorsy”, that is me. Indoorsy? Is that a thing? Let’s go with that. I am indoorsy. I choose dinner parties over picnics, yoga over hiking, and reading on the couch over laying on a beach towel in the sun. The sun-kissed, brown-as-a-berry skin I enjoyed up to the age of about 11 is but a distant memory. Pale and proud; that’s my jam.

For the last 18 months, this indoorsy girl has also been a mother. As an immobile baby, my son became very familiar with the confines of our home, of cafes and shopping centres, of friends’ houses and the local library. When he began walking, he was initially content with laps around the house and trips to indoor play centres. But pretty soon, he wanted more. He would stand banging on the back door, begging to be let outside. It was ingrained in him; he yearned to be outside. And so we began making trips out into the yard. Trips to the park. Trips to the beach. And my son became a wild boy.

When he goes outside, he comes alive. He runs, he tumbles, he explores. He gets dirt on his hands and knees. He sits and watches beetles in the grass. He splashes in the mud. He cries when it’s time to go back inside. And despite my indoorsy tendencies, going outside with him has become one of my favourite things.

I recently watched the short film “Canvas of my Life”, featuring the actor Jason Momoa talking about his creative childhood, and the way he is now raising his kids to be wild, free creatives. And despite the fact that it’s actually just a super-long ad for Carhartt pants, I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. Because for all my love of air conditioning and cups of tea, nothing beats a shot of a pack of happy kids racing through the woods and climbing rocks with big, wild grins plastered across their faces. That’s the kind of joy I want for my kid.

There are a number genuine of benefits to outside play, too.

1.     It’s active

Put a kid in the confines of four walls with a bunch of toys, and he will sit and play. Let him loose in a yard with grass, trees and dirt, and he’s unstoppable. Kids are natural explorers, and they just love to run. Being outside lends itself to active play.

2.     It’s sensory

They can smell the grass, hear the birds and cicadas, feel the wind on their face and crunch leaves beneath their feet. Outside play fully engages all the senses – yep, even picking up a handful of dirt for a sneaky taste counts!

3.     It’s healthy

They soak up some good old vitamin D, they inhales bucket loads of fresh air, and they stretch those little limbs in new ways, which contributes to their muscle development.

4.     It’s interesting

Our outside environments are subject to constant change – changes in the weather, new weeds popping up between the pavement, new leaves falling from the shrubbery. There are always holes to be dug, ants to be trailed behind and flowers to be picked. The engagement is endless!

5.     It’s confidence-building

Outside play is often quite independent, which gives kids a massive sense of self-confidence as they learn their capabilities and test their limits.

The benefits of outside play are endless, and so important for developing kids. These days I aim to get outside with my son at least twice per day – and I have to say I think I enjoy it almost as much as he does! So let’s hold that thought on my “pale and proud” skin – I just might end up revisiting that berry-brown glow after all!

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How Swaddling Boosts Your Kids’ Development!

How Swaddling Boosts Your Kids’ Development!

 

As a mum of three enchanting little girls (she said objectively and with a sigh of love), I’ve had my share of failures and successes with upbringing my kids. Not only does the process have a learning curve, but every baby has a unique tempo, personality and needs, so while there is much to learn with the first one, I had to reshape my mum-self to be better suited for my second and once again, for my third daughter.

 

Some things, however, such as swaddling and babywearing helped me stay sane and grow a deep, loving relationship with each of them. That doesn’t mean that all kids and parents enjoy these methods equally, so it’s important to always bear in mind your baby’s health and habits. Let me share with you how swaddling helped me be a better parent and my girls become as lively and happy as they are today!

 

Swaddling Calms Fussy Babies

 

All of my daughters have always had a temperament and they’ve never been afraid to express it! From day one with my oldest daughter, the wiggling and crying were almost endless, which of course lead to numerous sleepless nights. As soon as I started wrapping her up into a tiny burrito, she fell asleep more easily, reacted better to sleeping on her back, didn’t wake up so often and actually cooed more than cried.

 

While some medical experts wouldn’t recommend swaddling, others have recognized its effects on boosting your baby’s ability to sleep better and wake up well-rested and happy.

 

It Has Many Health Perks

 

The comfortable tightness of your swaddle encourages your baby to breathe slowly and mostly use belly breathing, which has endless benefits, from having a soothing effect, to increasing the amount of oxygen your baby gets. This, in turn helps regulate digestion and reduces potential inflammations and rashes. Once I learned all of this, I slept much more peacefully knowing that my baby is safe and sound.

 

It’s good to know that when your baby starts breathing only through the nose and starts trying to sleep on the tummy, it’s a good indicator that you can stop using swaddling and your baby will sleep, well, like a baby!

 

Warmth Boosts the Feeling of Safety

 

Just like when you keep your baby close, on your chest or in your arms, the feeling of warmth when you put them in swaddles naturally soothes your child. I imagine it would be like sleeping in a constant, cosy hug, embraced by that familiar fragrance of safety and cleanliness.

 

The comfortable, safe position of your baby’s hips, back and neck actually allows your baby to relax even when awake. The cotton is designed in such a way to provide a toasty protective layer in winter, and a light, breathable layer during summer, so your baby will be stress-free all the time.

 

How to Pick the Perfect Swaddles

 

If you are a newbie parent or you have many curious minds to confront like I do, door-to-door store shopping is out of the question. And again, if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to get your kids swaddles to match their emerging personalities and find something that just looks like your little bundle of joy. Nowadays you can easily buy swaddles online, check out recommendations of mums who have already tried the brand and use the benefit of home delivery.

 

Look for swaddles that are made of 100% cotton, to ensure proper breathability and hip support, so that your baby can sleep in a natural position. Also, check if it’s a one-size-fits-all, or if you should first weigh your wee one. Remember, a quality swaddle will also serve as a feeding cloth, a light blanket, and a safe toy! You’ll have your gorgeously designed and perfectly safe swaddle ready for your baby in no time.

 

All in all, I now have my two girls already in school and the youngest one in kindergarten, all three curious and clever, emotionally very warm but independent, and they surprise me daily with their bright ideas and incredible imagination. I’m having a hard time believing that they have grown up so fast and that burritos can produce such extraordinary originality and character!

 

I owe at least some of their present confidence and healthy self-love to bringing them up with swaddles and all kinds of baby slings that let us bond and become close. It seems that letting them enjoy their burrito-selves was beneficial in many ways, for me as much as it was for them. Now, our relationship grows deeper and stronger every day, and I couldn’t be more grateful for having three happy little girls that will surely grow up to be amazing people. The bottom line is, motherhood truly rocks!

 

References:

 

http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/news/20050502/swaddling-helps-babies-sleep

 

http://www.normalbreathing.com/why-when-to-stop-swaddling.php

http://www.lilfrasercollection.com.au/collections/swaddle-baby-wrap

 

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