Do you fight in front of your kids?
Before we even had kids, Josh and I talked a lot about how we grew up and how we want to raise our kids. One of the issues we talked about before we had kids was actually about whether or not fighting in front of the kids was okay or healthy.I think we can all agree that aggressive, volatile, or physical fighting is always negative. However, I think whether or not healthy arguments in front of kids is okay is still up for debate and depends on each family. So here’s how we look at it, and what we decided was best for our family.
People argue and disagree, even people who love each other very much. It’s just a fact of life. To never disagree would mean that one of you was totally suppressing your feelings and just being a doormat. Nobody wants or respects that. But there’s a big difference between healthy fighting and unhealthy fighting. And I do think it’s important that kids learn to understand the difference. One of the best ways for them to understand that is to witness it. For example, Josh and I will have disagreements and debates in front of the kids. But any big issues, arguments, or heated discussions, and any that involve something related to the kids, we really try and do after the kids are in bed. At least while they are young. I’ve actually noticed that Maddox understands and can comprehend whenever Josh and I are having an argument or disagreement. There have been times when Maddox interrupted us and said “Guys take turns!” And I admit at first this shocked us and made both Josh and me step back and talk about whether or not this was good. But we ultimately decided that this was a healthy thing. We don’t want the kids growing up thinking that healthy relationships mean there’s no disagreeing or arguing. People who love and respect each other can still disagree. I think that to never show this side of a relationship would portray a fairytale that isn’t real or obtainable. I don’t want them growing up thinking that people don’t fight, but I want them to learn how to argue with respect. That means no name calling, no belittling, no violent words or actions. They need to know the healthy boundaries of how to argue.
So we do our best to demonstrate healthy discussions/arguments. And while there will definitely be times that we will slip up and have an argument in front of the kids that we should probably have kept to ourselves- we are only human. And whether or not you choose to hash everything out in front of the kids or behind closed doors is totally up to you and your family. But this is just the decision that we’ve come to for our family.
“I got a mom crush”
Someone recently told me they loved following me on instagram and that they had a mom crush on my account. 🤣I instantly cracked up! I was so flattered of course. But all I could think of was the mom crush video. Have you seen that hilarious music video parody lately? If not, watch it here.
I wanted to share because I often get questions about attachment parenting and it being associated with peoples’ misconception that it makes kids too attached to their parents. Some believe it results in shy, fearful, unhealthy attachments where kids are afraid to leave the parents side. I can definitely attest that that is not the case. I truly believe it’s actually quite the opposite. In my experience attachment parenting builds confidence in kids because they know that their parents are always there for them to answer their needs. It starts from the most basic needs as a baby, answering their cries (read my original post about attachment parenting here). So while I do want to talk about a few very specific things we did to make camp a smooth experience, I do believe we started “preparing” him for camp way before, by building his confidence so he could tackle new places and experiences with ease.
My 6 Ways to AVOID Going Crazy as a Stay at Home Mom
When I decided to stay home, it took me a while before I realized that I may go (or may have already gone) crazy! Being with the kids is great, but the isolation from other adults and other interests can start to wear you down over time. So here’s a few tips I picked up along the way!
1. Find classes. We first went to our local library. They do a weekly child’s story time. Best thing is, it is free! They also have free story time most Barnes & Noble and our local Kroger has a story time as well with Grandma Snazzy. We found a kinder music class at a nearby church. Then once Maddox was old enough, I started signing up for classes at our Rec Center. This is by far our favorite! He has done soccer, general sports (combo basketball, foodtball, soccer and golf) and gymnastics. They also have art, music, cooking, karate, etc. There are so many other options for classes as well like Catch air, Sky Zone (Alpharetta does a toddler time every other Wednesday), Little Gym, and All Fired Up (Ceramics Classes), just to name a few.
When Maddox was young and it was time to introduce him to solid food, we started him on purées. I made all of his food and we introduced one new food at a time. Maddox loved baby food. I couldn’t shovel it in fast enough for him. However, Marlow was a different story. I started the same way and made her purees. She would take maybe a bite or two and that was it. I quickly realized I was wasting a ton of food. Then Marlow went on an antibiotic that was really hard on her stomach and hard to get her to take so I had to hide it in her food. That’s when her eating habits really changed. She went from eating a bite or two to complete refusal to eat anything I tried to give her. She would eat things that she could feed herself but didn’t trust me at all anymore. She was sure I was hiding medicine and about to force feed her ?. That’s when I decided to try baby led weaning.
“Baby-led weaning allows babies to control their solid food consumption by ‘self-feeding’ from the very beginning of their experiences with food. The term weaning should not be taken to imply giving up formula or breastmilk, but simply the introduction of foods other than formula or breastmilk.”
I’ve had many people ask me about my parenting style, mainly my attachment parenting. I’ve tried to write a post about it many times and each time I’ve stopped and started over. There are so many different parenting styles, and we each have to do what works best for us, for each baby, and for our family. Keep in mind that I am currently able to be a stay-at-home mom, and your circumstance may be very different. I’m hoping to convey my feelings without sounding prejudiced against those who parent differently.
What works best for my family falls in line with attachment parenting. Attachment parenting is defined as: a parenting philosophy that proposes methods which aim to promote the attachment of mother and infant not only by maximal maternal empathy and responsiveness but also by continuous bodily closeness and touch.
To me this means skin-to-skin contact as much as possible (especially in the early days), baby wearing, breastfeeding, responding to all my babies cries, co-sleeping, and gentle parenting. Some of these are self explanatory but I wanted to talk about how I respond to their cries. I’ve always thought of crying as the only way babies can communicate their needs and wants. I believe whole heartedly that babies cry for a reason. I’ve never thought of their crying as manipulative or deceptive. It’s their only way to tell you what they need, whether it be hunger, dirty diaper, pain or just needing comfort. I also felt that by ignoring their cries, I would be telling them their voice doesn’t matter. That their one way of telling me what they need doesn’t work.
For this reason, we’ve never considered using the Cry it Out method or sleep training. It’s important to add that neither of my babies have had any medical concerns such as colic that would cause excessive crying.
So when Maddox or Marlow cry, Josh and I comfort them. Sometimes that means picking them up, talking to them, singing, moving to a new environment, distracting with toys, but mainly just keeping them close so we can respond quickly. For example, here’s what we would do when Maddox or Marlow would wake up crying. When they were tiny babies, we always picked them up immediately and softly talked to them to comfort them (i.e. “It’s ok. Shh. I’m here”). As they got older (maybe 4-6months), we didn’t pick them immediately. We cuddle next to them, pat their backs, and talk to them using the same language we did before to reassure them and comfort them. Our goal was for them to open their eyes and realize we were right there and they were ok.
We want to provide constant, consistent nurturing and comforting, and the way we do that changes as they mature. With Maddox, we have gone from immediate comfort when he was an infant, to verbal comfort as a pre-toddler, to encouraging him to “use his words” to express his distress, as he became verbal. Now I see an independent almost-three-year-old who seldom needs the sort of comfort I now offer Marlow, but who still gets our full attention when he does need it. And one of the most amazing things, since Marlow was born, I’ve also noticed Maddox offering comfort to Marlow in the same way that we did to him!
My thought behind always comforting them is that they know we are always there and they are safe, comforted, and reassured. This is what has worked best for my children and my family so far. I would love to hear what has worked for you. We do not all parent the same, but we all want the same thing — happy, healthy, well adjusted children.
Our friends and family have commented at what an absolute rock-star of a big brother Maddox has been since Marlow was born (And I totally agree). Preparing for Marlow’s arrival was very different from preparing for Maddox. We already had most of our “baby necessities” that we acquired when Maddox was born, so one of the main things we really tried to focus on was preparing Maddox. We talked a lot about Marlow and what would happen when she was born.
First, we shared our plan for what would happen when Mommy and Daddy went to the hospital. Until our first night in the hospital, Maddox had never spent the night away from us. So we worried this separation might be tough. To prepare, we discussed, almost daily, how Mommy and Daddy would go to the hospital and Maddox would go stay with Lolli, Poppi and aunt Kelsey. We talked in detail about how much fun he would have, where he would sleep, and when he would come see us. We also had him tell us what the plan was and what he wanted to do. I really think all the preparation and discussion made for his easy transition! He was amazing and never once seemed upset or unhappy about being away from us at all!
The second thing we really focused on was discussing with Maddox exactly what it will be like when we bring Marlow home. Very early on we started reading “new baby” books with Maddox. Our favorites were: I’m a Big Brother, The New Baby, My New Baby and Babies Don’t Eat Pizza. (Thanks for books Lolli!) The books were the best help for us. Reading them together really opened up the conversation for us to talk with Maddox. Some of the books are step by step bringing baby home, and others go through examples of what new babies can and can’t do.
Lastly, throughout the pregnancy we talked with Maddox about Marlow as a real baby, who was already part of our family. We really tried to include Marlow in all our conversations. When we were playing, we talked about how we will play with Marlow. We still do this. When we are building with blocks, we talk about how Marlow may knock our blocks down and how that’s what babies do sometimes. When we eat, we talk about what and how Marlow will eat. You name it, we try to talk to about it
So while it’s only been 4 weeks, Maddox has been a truly amazing big brother! He looks at her with great tenderness. He sings to her, and if she cries he offers comfort. We do everything we can to make him feel included and important when it comes to Marlow. He is our “big helper” and he loves doing jobs to help take care of his baby sister. I can’t predict how the future will be, and I’m sure there will be crazy days, but so far the transition of bringing Marlow home has been a very smooth one, and I credit really thorough preparation for that.
10 Things my child will NEVER do…
1. Screen time at dinner
2. Eat junk food and candy
3. Get random things he “wants” at the store
(He wanted a new backpack and cookie monster…) (He wanted a new pink bat…)
4. Be naked all the time
5. Leave the house in pjs
6. Misbehave/Act crazy in pubic
(playing baseball and racing with dad in Target-click photo to see video)
7. Watch/play video games
8. Stay up too late
9. Hit, bite, etc
10. Be spoiled with gifts
I first knew something in me had changed the day after Maddox was born. We were in the hospital and Maddox was lying down and started to cough (it sounded like maybe a small gag/choke). I jumped up screaming for Josh and ran to Maddox. I burst into tears and felt like I couldn’t breathe. Maddox was completely fine. It was honestly maybe 3 coughs, but I was so completely overwhelmed with worry that something was wrong or he was hurt. I grabbed Josh after and said (while sobbing) “I thought something was wrong.” That was when I knew something had changed.
I’m normally very laid back. From the beginning I didn’t fret over Maddox falling down. I let him climb and explore and figure things out on his own. I let him get hurt and waited for him to decide if he needed comfort (versus instantly running to check if he was ok). However, despite my worry-free attitude, when Maddox was born I suddenly had this overwhelming -at times crippling- fear of us dying. I wasn’t worried about everyday things. I was suddenly worried about freak accidents that were completely out of my control. Car accidents, fires, cancer, you name it. If I’m being completely honest my chest is tightening and my eyes are tearing up right now just thinking about it. Having Maddox made me realize that if anything ever happened to me or Josh, Maddox would be losing a parent. Worse than that, if anything ever happened to Maddox. And that was a crippling feeling. Dying had never even really occurred to me before. I never thought about how old I would be when I died or even what would happen if Josh died. It just didn’t cross my mind. But suddenly I was consumed with worry about not only keeping Maddox alive, but making sure Josh and I were alive long enough to see Maddox grow old.
In the beginning I had these thoughts and worries constantly throughout the day, everyday. As time has gone on I get them less often, and when I do start to worry I’m able to push those thoughts aside so they don’t become all consuming. I can usually brush it off, tell myself I’m being ridiculous and get distracted by something else until the feeling has passed. When I do start to get the truly overwhelming, worrying feeling, I find it’s best (for me) to just go with it. Be worried, get it all out, and talk to either Josh, my mom or my grandmother. Luckily, they are all great about listening to me talk about how worried I am about things I can’t control, and they hardly make fun of me at all (kidding, of course). By the way, if I need someone to just listen or talk rationally, I call Josh. If I need someone to understand, relate to how I’m feeling, and commiserate/cry with me, I call my mom. And If I need someone to patiently listen, tell me they understand and then gently tell me to pull it together, I call my grandmother. They each have their own way and all serve key purposes! I should probably mention I have an amazing family. I know I’m extremely lucky. Even with all that love and support, and my normally laid back, worry-free attitude, I still have times of overwhelming fear. And I totally blame Maddox! He’s lucky he’s so cute 😉