This past week I have been asked so many parenting questions that I thought I would post se7en nutshells on beyond babies. Of course I have se7en kids so I must know all the answers – NOT!!! But this is what has worked for us.
- Nutshell #1 – Starting Solids: This was a huge issue for me with my first kid because I had no clue what I was doing and every book has a different opinion on what needs to be done. That being said, the World Health Association advocates only milk for at least the first six months of your babies life – they need it for brain development. Even in the first year of life that is what they primarily need and just tastes of everything else. So not when your baby doubles its birth weight, or when you want it to sleep through the night. Clever babies drink milk, they don’t eat rice cereal which is basically well flakes of nothing. We work on the principal that when your child is able to help themselves to food off your plate then it is old enough to start nibbling along with you at meal times. Many mothers have told me that there child is so advanced and needs solids (as the poor 4 month old gags through a whole jar of pureed hideousness that they wouldn’t feed the cat), Wouldn’t they like to know that their child would be even more advanced if they just gave the poor little mite the milk it needs. So if the food on your plate is not good enough for your baby then change your diet. I had a friend whose child only ate muffins and I asked her what she ate – ummm muffins!!! So start off with soft fruits or vegetables and introduce new foods slowly to avoid shocking the whole little system – your three month old does not need three-three course meals a day. And your eight month old will happily eat paw paw at every meal for three days before you try the next food out.
- Nutshell #2 – Toilet Training: This is one of the most common questions I get asked. And this is what I think… If a child can not take their own clothes and hop on a toilet then the only people that are trained are the parents. I know so many folk who spend their lives saying to their kids “Do you need to go to the toilet?” And I have to say that I would rather my kids had a better vocabulary than endless toilet talk! Most kids get it and some take longer than others! If mine haven’t got it by the time they are nearly three I just tell them they don’t make nappies/diapers for three year olds and I start to gently mention this a while before their birthday. So in the hype of the big day we no longer buy them – that’s it – stick to your word, stay at home a couple of days, make sure you always get everybody to the toilet before you go out and don’t look back!
- Nutshell #3 – Car Seat: How in the world do I get my toddler into the car seat without a screaming fight? This is one of those times when you cannot back down, apart from the fact that it’s the law – for safety sake it just has to be done. And our car is quite magical it just won’t drive without the straps clipped – I have no idea why!!! That being said sometimes you have to get where you need to go and I can tell you honestly with each of my first few kids they have all missed an important outing on account of this. You only have to miss a special trip once and you will never have another problem. The younger ones don’t seem to have this problem maybe as you go down the line house rules get imported by osmosis from kid to kid. My only hint in a situation where you know a confrontation is looming is keep it light, keep talking and keep moving in the direction you want to go. I said keep it light! As soon as you get intense the kidlet in the midst of the “age of intensity” will quite outlast you.
- Nutshell #4 – Discipline: Discipline is a word with such a bad reputation. It really means training. And if you keep in mind what you are trying to achieve, a well-balanced adult that is contributing positively to the world around them, then lots of issues will fall away. So, pick your fights, carefuly. Distraction works, it is not a cop-out, we use it ourselves all the time. help them to recognize it and then use it! That being said: Well-fed kids are a lot better behaved than hungry ones. They need constant fuel to keep their motors running, forget about a rice cake between meals. It wouldn’t work for us and it doesn’t work for them. Often at the end of the day when I am preparing supper and the wheels start to fall off I let them “help” prepare and snack on the vegi’s. Does it really matter if they ate their carrots before supper or at the table in half an hour. Not really, and half an hour later everyone could have lost the plot so badly that the supper table is the least of your worries.
- Nutshell #5 – Baby Proofing: Your child is not born able to put their fingers in the plugs, it happens over time. So you don’t need a bazillion safety products at your baby shower. You will discover that your child goes through obsessions, these are little developmental nightmares when they have to do the same thing se7en bazillion times before they can move on. You can either make it safe and let them unpack your kitchen cupboard (I have a special all plastic one I direct them too) until they get it out of their system over a short period of time. Or you can fight it and they will still do it se7en bazillion times but the process will just take longer.
Obvious things need to change since you will suddenly have short visitors. We don’t keep chemicals under the sink, we keep them at the top of a high bookshelf in another room – most of ours are pretty mild – but the thought of my kids eating shoe polish for instance just freaks me out somewhat. No water left anywhere, no buckets with just a bit, no unattended bath (shut them out the bathroom if necessary) make sure the whole house knows that no water is safe water. As soon as mine are rolling about I start to teach them how to turn and reverse off the bed backwards (we have a low futon) because it is a life skill they have to know. They cannot be protected from every step they will come across until they are five! And keep in mind that your house is safe for your kids because you know their present obsessions but it is never safe for visiting kids and their parents need to be told to keep an eye on them.
- Nutshell #6 – Bedtime: People often ask me how we get all our kids to bed on time – easy, they want to be there! Actually, what works is routine, routine, routine – the same every day: Tidy up completely and chores – so that we can start the next day fresh; Supper, someone different everyday is rewarded as my special assistant – my kids have to learn how to cook proficiently before they leave home – survival skill!; Shower; Teeth; Bed; Stories; Sleep. So how do we do stories – remember I read ALL day for school. Well at bedtime everyone gets a quick story – a picture book and something I like to read – not all stories are equal(!). Sometimes if we haven’t finished our chapter book for the day then I will read a chapter or two in the dark by torchlight (gotta teach these kids good habits!) and very occasionally we run late and short people are dropping off to sleep like flies – then I lie in the dark and do stories out of my head… I have se7en stories I have learnt off by heart – Every mother should know se7en stories off by heart… get learning already!!!
- Nutshell #7 – Tantrums: A very wise parent once told me that a child will only have a tantrum if they think they can win. A glance at my face and my kids know already to despair – I am at least as stubborn as they are and the battle will be mine. That doesn’t mean they don’t have frustrating moments and melt downs, we all do! But I am talking about the “must haves” at the check out and so on… All I can say is: Keep it light, distract and when they do try to but heads look very serious about your intentions, because you are being watched to see if you really, really mean it! Also keep your expectations high, they will rise to the occasion. What about squabbles over things, well my kids don’t own very much – everything goes in the pot so to speak, so if their is a squabble with the youngest person for instance: older kids love to take a baby toy to “teach” the baby how to play with it, it must be returned immediately. If older kids are squabbling over something I just remove it for a day or three… Really it hardly ever happens!
That’s it – in a nutshell. Se7en questions I have been asked about in the last week. Really it is all about people before things and these are just short people. When I treat my kids like a bunch of kids they behave like a bunch of kids. When I treat my kids like the lovely individual and creative people they are, then they behave like lovely individual and creative people. It’s all up to me really! As the father person says: the mother sets the tone of the home keep her happy and everything follows! I am so with him on this one – keep me happy folks!!!
I popped this post onto the Works For Me Wednesday Site – go and have a look there for all sorts of tips on absolutely anything.