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Tag Archives: attachments

If Mama’s Not Happy, Nobody’s Happy: Proven

photo by Michal Marcol

What I’ve learned in 9 years of mothering is that you can’t learn how to take care of your children until you’ve learned to take care of yourself. I’m often categorized as a baby blogger, baby merchant or other kind of “baby person.” In reality, my blog and the Baby Love Carebook are mother-focused products.

A recent study confirms the correlation between depressed mothers and depressed children. The results are startling, considering that nearly 400,000 babies are born to depressed mothers each year in the United States.

Nearly half of the children with depressed mothers will develop depression.

And did you know that the average age of the onset of depression is 34; peak childbearing years? All these facts and study references were published recently in the Wall Street Journal. I encourage you to read the full article by Martha Beck.

And an interesting side note: the most severe consequence of depression happens during the first year of a child’s life because they will not form the necessary attachment to Mom.

The bottom line is that children fare better when Mom gets help as early as possible. So the good news is that this is not a hereditary condition as most people assume; it is environmental. It can be corrected and prevented by teaching your children how to regulate their own emotions.

My retail slogan is Journal. Organizer. Encouragement for Moms. My goal from the very conception of my business was to help new mothers navigate the more difficult day-to-day struggles of caring for a fussy baby. In fact, my About page spells out my mission:

As the mother of three small children, my goal is to help other new parents feel empowered and to instill in them the confidence to care for their babies in a loving, positive way that respects the uniqueness of all children.

If you or a new mom in your life is struggling or seems depressed, the first step is to recognize the problem and to realize it’s not at all uncommon. In fact, lack of sleep is the leading cause of post-partum depression and can be corrected easily and without drugs.

The second step during the baby years is to establish a consistent routine and really pay attention to baby’s cues. When a new mom feels more in control and not at the mercy of her baby, she is better able to experience joy and fight off the feelings of seclusion and depression.

The most common keywords that lead to this blog are “sample routine for xx month baby”. New moms are searching for the magic formula to get through their days and nights. Here’s the real secret: it’s different for everyone.

And from May 25-29, 2011, discovering this magic formula will be even easier. Sign up for Totsy today or tomorrow to view our half price sale of the Baby Love Carebook. This offer is limited to these five days and we have a limited supply of books so I encourage you to make your purchase early. You can opt out of the Totsy emails at any time.

Grace and peace.

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Another Attachment: Let Others Bond with Your Children

As we spend time with various family and friends over spring break, I thought I would share an old post about loosening up your strings a little. As I watch my three little ones run to greet their father, grandparents and friends, it’s a nice reminder that these relationships started when they were babies. Enjoy.

Giving Dad some room to make mistakes and take on the mundane chores of childcare really strengthened their bond.

During my first few months caring for our very fussy first-born daughter, my exhaustion had reached its peak. My husband urged me to use the breast pump that sat unopened on the counter. He was able to take the first late night feeding on weekends, allowing me to get four to five hours of uninterrupted sleep — something I desperately needed. Just as important, my husband was able to bond with our daughter in a new way. After a long week at work, he savored these late night feedings alone with his baby girl.

What is Attachment Parenting?

I’m a contributing blogger for Attachment Parenting International’s blog; API Speaks: The Voice for Gentle Parents Everywhere. They advocate eight principles of parenting that promote healthy connections with your children, helping them to become confident, compassionate adults. Read the summary of the eight principles to get the general idea.

The principle I choose to write about most often is “Strive for Balance.” One of the easiest ways to achieve balance as a mother is to let others lighten your burden so you can take a break. If you are constantly worried that no one else is capable of caring for your child (even your spouse), or you are afraid to ask for help, your child has no opportunity to form an attachment to anyone else.

Are you allowing others to bond with your child?

Mothers and fathers (and grandparents) have very different ways of holding, playing and interacting with their babies. Research shows that babies recognize and thrive on these differences. Do you constantly correct others on the proper way to hold, feed or comfort your baby or do you let them develop their own technique? It’s great to let others know what your child prefers, but hovering and immediately taking over once a baby cries is not really the best answer.

If you’re caring for an infant or young toddler, this is the week to work on loosening your strings a little. You won’t be giving up the connection that you have with your child, but allowing someone you love to form a stronger bond. Whether it’s your spouse, a grandparent or a trusted friend; let them spend time with your child without you swooping in for the rescue.

Give yourself some time off and let your child understand that there is a whole village of loved ones to whom they can turn. You will see over time how relaxed and joyful a child can be when they form loving connections with the people around you. (And trust me, you will feel the same relaxation and joy knowing that your community of support is loved by your child.)

Grace and Peace.

 

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Smart Moms Put it in Writing

For a better getaway, leave way more information than you think any babysitter could possibly need.

I finally took my own advice. Following three years without a break, I took some time off. Three glorious days involving my husband, a hot-stone massage and adults-only dinners. I slept late, meditated, devoured a book (Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson… a MUST read) and basically found my center again.

Leading up to this event was anything but relaxing. I tossed and turned thinking of all the logistics involved in leaving three children for three days. I filled out medical consent forms for each child, wrote out instructions for each day of my absence, and updated my Baby Love Carebook to detail daily routines for our youngest daughter.

My husband teased me about all the work, rhetorically asking, “You do know your mom has done this before, right?”

Of course I know my capable replacement has babysat before (and raised three children of her own.) If I didn’t feel confident, the trip would never have been a possibility. The fact remains, details will make or break a babysitting assignment. The more information you leave behind, the fewer questions your replacement will have.

When my mom showed up the evening before our departure, I laid out all the paperwork. She heaved a big sigh of relief upon seeing the signed medical consent forms. She read through the three pages of instructions and remarked that I had answered all her questions. She jotted down a few notes of her own then went off to spend time with her granddaughters.

Despite tornado warnings and my mother getting sick on the first evening, we had no major catastrophes. There was only one event that prompted a phone call and a little intervention from grandpa to fix a broken CD player. The girls behaved wonderfully and really enjoyed the extra time spent with their grandma.

My husband and I were able to see each other as people again, not just parents. This was a business retreat with other managers from his company, so I was able to spend time with his coworkers and spouses. It helped give me a deeper perspective on how he spends his time away from home. My husband was also able to see me engaged in conversations with his peers. After eight years of parenting, and 13 years of marriage, this type of interaction has become rare and precious for us. I’m so very grateful we had the chance to reconnect in this way.

On the last morning of our stay, I perused the lavish hotel shops in search of a small token of appreciation for my mom. As the cashier was wrapping up a beautiful silk and velvet scarf and an adorable set of angel magnets, I noticed some note pads. I get my list-making passion from my mother, and know how much she likes a decorative place to write things down. I selected one to put on top of the other gifts, so that this sentiment would be visible upon opening the box: “Smart Women Put it in Writing.”  True. So true.

Mom Dare: Put it in writing. Whatever “it” is for you. Write down your daily routines; you just might discover a pattern or inconsistency you had not realized was there. Complete a medical consent form because you just never know when you might need it. (I got mine from our pediatrician.) Write down your meals, especially if you suspect your child has a food intolerance or if you are struggling to take off a few pounds. Write a love letter to your spouse. Let him know how much he means to you, even though your daily grind may not give you the time you once had.

What are your other suggestions of things to record in writing? How did it help you to write it down?

 

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Finding Grace and Love in the Potty Seat?

Potty training. Again. While I’ve done this twice already with varying degrees of difficulty, I still find the process to be exhausting. Most days, I want to throw all the cloth diapers out the window – other days I want to chuck the potty seat and trainers along with my determination to teach this skill.

What transition are you working on? Moving your child from your bed to a crib, weaning from breast milk to bottle or cup or giving up diapers in exchange for the potty are not small tasks. And even if you’ve done them before, the reality is you’ve never made this change with this child. It’s all new to him or her. Some changes come about quickly while others drag on stubbornly. That’s where we are with potty training.

Before giving up (or forcing my will upon the poor child), I’ve found it’s helpful to examine my motives behind making the transition at this time.

Motivations for change often fall into three categories:

  1. Shame/embarrassment. You know you should have taught this skill sooner but didn’t. Maybe you waited until your baby was nine-months old before introducing a bottle. (I’ve been there.) Or you waited until your four-year-old became so big that you can no longer sleep in your own bed comfortably and must demand they sleep elsewhere. The logical part of your brain knows that developmentally, there is no reason why your child is unable to make the change. But the emotional parent part of your brain is too afraid to make it happen.
  2. Anger/resentment. Do you feel so tired of the way things are and find yourself blaming your child? Perhaps you wonder why they can’t just do this one thing. After a lot of introspection, I realize I’m probably in this category. I don’t feel resentment, but after more than eight years of changing diapers; I’m very, very tired of it. I’m ready to move on whether my daughter is or not.
  3. Competition. You really want to tell the grandparents, or other moms, that your little prodigy accomplished this transition easily and early. You want to brag a little about whatever milestone would give you this edge on being a good mother. It sounds shallow, and you will probably deny you’ve ever felt this way, but chances are you really are competing with another person’s timetable.

I’m tired of changing diapers, that’s for sure. I suspect there’s a little more going on as well. This is my youngest of three children and we are certainly not having any more. I’ve stopped trying to hold on to the baby years mostly because she refused to stay in the baby phase; reaching all of her physical milestones many months before her older sisters.

But I also prefer to breeze through a transition without marking it’s passing; hoping to avoid any sadness or longing on my part. She gave up breastfeeding sometime in her 17th month, but I do not have a memory of the “last” time nor did I want to dwell on it. I loved breastfeeding and while a part of me misses this connection; I knew that marking an official end would be too painful. We simply moved on.

Potty training will also mark a major end to my baby and toddler years. This independence will mean I’ve no longer got any babies in my care. No more diapers. While it will be sweet freedom, it will also mark a major transition for me as a mother. Dragging out this transition for so many months just prolongs the pain.

I’ve come to realize that the one thing that is required of me at this time is love. My daughter will be potty trained in the near future. (I sometimes chant this just to convince myself.)

It’s my job to love her, to love the stage we are in and to use this love to fuel my patience.

It’s this love that will also lift me out of sadness when I realize there are no more babies, no more toddlers and someday, no more little girls in my care.

So, I’ve made a few changes to how we go about potty training. I removed the changing table from her room. We don’t use it anyway and it helps us solidify the transition taking place. I also added disposable diapers to my shopping list. While we use only two diapers a day for nap and bedtime, I need the mental and physical break from washing them. We’ll continue making the transition using consistent behaviors, but I’ll relax my timetable and renew my love for caring for a toddler.

Weekly Dare: Life is filled with one transition after another. Look at what changes you are trying to make in your life and with your children. Examine your motivations, remove the negative emotions and concentrate on love. Use this positive emotion to feed your actions each day as you bring about a positive change.

Grace and Peace.

To subscribe to my weekly message and to take on other Weekly Dares, enter your e-mail on the right under subscriptions, or you can visit at www.babylovecarebook.com

 

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4 Tips to Strengthen Relationships with Your Children

(Today’s post is written by the very talented and insightful Lori Lowe. You may have seen her blog Marriage Gems recently on Freshly Pressed where it was featured for three days and recorded over 40,000 page views in four days. Here’s a glimpse of why her posts are so popular.)

As a marriage researcher and writer, I frequently come across studies that offer tips on benefiting marriages. I often find the same tips can also help improve my relationship with my kids. Here are four tips that can help you improve your relationship with grown-ups or little ones in your home.

1.) Use the 5-to-1 Ratio

Dr. John Gottman says marriages that survive have five positive interactions for each negative one. Words of praise, gratitude, love, kindness, affection or a sincere compliment fall under the positive interaction category, while a complaint or argument fall under the negative side. The single negative interaction is important, because couples are able to work out problems or frustrations and communicate honestly during those times.

It’s interesting to relate this advice to children. Obviously, we are not at risk for breaking up with our kids. However, it’s not always easy to maintain a positive relationship with them as they grow up –including the toddler and teen years! I sometimes find myself having far too many negative interactions (“Hurry up, you’re late for school!” or “Why are you dilly dallying on your homework?” or “I don’t think you did your personal best on this work.”) I sometimes need to remind myself to offer positive words and encouragement.

On frustrating days, I try to offer myself and my children some grace, and then take time to reconnect with them while doing something they enjoy, such as playing a game, or talking about something fun they did at school. One of my kids’ favorite activities is eating. (They’re skinny kids, but they eat like horses.) So, connecting around the dinner table is great timing for them. They are so appreciative of the cooking and the food—even if it’s broccoli with garlic salt or spaghetti—and they love to share a story while they are relaxed and full.

Bedtime offers another time to balance the 5 to 1 ratio, with snuggles, reading and chats about the next day’s activities. While boosting the positive words, be careful about offering empty praise (“Good job!”). Instead praise specific actions, such as, “I like the way you invited the new girl to play with you on the playground,” or “You made a real effort on the soccer field today.”

2.) Increase Touch

Other relationship research shows frequent touching in romantic couples helps improve their bonds. In fact, increased touching (high fives or butt slaps) even increased bonds between athletes and improved their team performance.  It should go without saying that kids need lots of positive touch.

When you’re having a difficult conversation with a child (or a husband), it’s particularly important to touch them in a gentle way. Think hugs in the morning and after school, cuddles during the day, massages and gentle stroking for babies and toddlers, butterfly kisses or special hugs at night. Don’t give up on touching teens affectionately; they need the pats on the shoulder and the hugs just as much as younger kids.

3.) Celebrate Good News

A third study I’ll share has to do with supporting your loved ones, particularly when they have GOOD news. It seems a little backwards, but it’s crucial to improving relationships. Studies show couples are supportive during tough times, but often apathetic when good news happens. Since there are more good times than bad (for most people, thankfully), our loved ones may see us as not understanding who they are and what they value when we don’t encourage and praise them when things go well.

Having a cheerful response to both our spouses and our kids, and celebrating with them when something small or big goes well can tremendously boost your relationship. Good news for your kids might include success during potty training, making the team they tried out for, doing well on a paper or test they worked hard on, or getting a date with someone special. Try to stay in tune with what is important to them.

4.) Put Your Marriage First

I believe the above studies offer insight that is useful to maintain and improve positive relationships with our children, but more important advice is found in the book To Raise Healthy Kids, Put Your Marriage First. Read my summary and review. Putting our marriage first not only benefits your marriage, it benefits your children in ways we didn’t understand in the past. Giving too much attention to kids, it turns out, only does them harm, by not giving them the opportunity to develop and problem-solve. Of course, it can also hurt the marriage, thereby jeopardizing the sense of security our children enjoy.

For hundreds of research-based marriage tips, visit www.LifeGems4Marriage.com. Lori Lowe is marriage columnist and blogger from Indianapolis. For 15 years, Lori has been happily married to her husband, a pilot who keeps her grounded. They live in Indianapolis with their two children, a crazy cat and two aquatic frogs.

 

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Beyond Babyhood: The Joy of Mothering Toddlers to Teens

I’m anxious to see the documentary “Babies” (see clip below), that chronicles the first year in the lives of four babies from across the globe. However, I can’t help but wish that the producers would follow up with a sequel, “Toddlers.”

I’m still surprised by how frequently new moms express a fear of parenting a toddler; sometimes openly critical of other moms with older children. I see it in the blogosphere over and over. All this judgment coming from parents who are used to observing a contented baby cooing in a baby carrier. I can only smile and nod, while silently praying, “Give strength to this mother, Lord, because she will certainly need it!”

I have definitely struggled to let go of the baby years; I was pregnant with my second child shortly after the first started to walk. And while I will always love being around babies, I’ve also embraced the joy of each passing milestone. This week, my five-year-old daughter lost her first tooth. I shared her pride and happiness, despite my memories of rocking her when she was teething. My seven-year-old girl watched in awe as an older girl got her ears pierced; asking again when she can do this. (Not before age 10, which will be here before I know it.) And I’m not afraid to admit that I will be incredibly grateful to be done with the diaper phase!

MOM DARE: For moms who are still at the beginning of this journey, your challenge this week is to imagine your baby as a toddler, a preschooler and beyond (as far as you can fathom). What will you miss and what will you be happy to put behind you? Conjure up that first moment when your child hugs your neck and proclaims, “I wub you.” And most of all, I urge you to practice patience and tolerance of moms who are mothering children at different stages than your own. If you’re a mom who has moved beyond the baby years, take some time this week to look back on that first magical year with each of your children. Look through some old photos or baby books. Sometimes during a rough phase in parenting, it helps to remember your child as that toothless, cooing bundle of love.

To subscribe to my Weekly Bit of Baby Love and to take on other Mom Dares, enter your e-mail on the right under subscriptions, or sign up online at www.babylovecarebook.com/weeklybit.html

 

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Bond, Babes Bond

Daddy's Girl. Giving Dad some room to make mistakes and take on the mundane chores of childcare really strengthened their bond to one another.

During my first few months caring for our very fussy first-born daughter, my exhaustion had reached its peak. My husband urged me to use the breast pump that sat unopened on the counter. He was able to take the first late night feeding on weekends, allowing me to get four to five hours of uninterrupted sleep — something I desperately needed. Just as important, my husband was able to bond with our daughter in a new way. After a long week at work, he savored these late night feedings alone with his baby girl.

Are you allowing others to bond with your child? Mothers and fathers (and grandparents) have very different ways of holding, playing and interacting with their babies. Research shows that babies recognize and thrive on these differences. Do you constantly correct others on the proper way to hold, feed or comfort your baby or do you let them develop their own technique? It’s great to let others know what your child prefers, but hovering and immediately taking over once a baby cries is not really the best answer.

MOM DARE: If you’re caring for an infant or young toddler, this is the week to work on loosening your strings a little. You won’t be giving up the connection that you have with your child, but allowing someone you love to form a stronger bond. Whether it’s your spouse, a grandparent or a trusted friend; let them spend time with your child without you swooping in for the rescue. Give yourself some time off and let your child understand that there is a whole village of loved ones to whom they can turn. You will see over time how relaxed and joyful a child can be when they form loving connections with the people around you. (And trust me, you will feel the same relaxation and joy knowing that your community of support is loved by your child.)

Grace and Peace,
Sharron Wright

To subscribe to my Weekly Bit of Baby Love and to take on other Mom Dares, enter your e-mail on the right under subscriptions, or sign up online at www.babylovecarebook.com/weeklybit.html

 

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