Why? – Strange Things Toddlers Do

I was introduced to the world of professional wrestling, WWF (World Wrestling Federation – later) at a very young age by my uncle (shout out to Uncle P!). I was the first grader walking around demonstrating the signature moves of D-Generation X, in particular, Triple H (Hunter Hearst Helmsley). If you have no clue, YouTube it and you’ll see the amazingness that is this mid-90s to early 2000s group. My adoration for the athleticism and performance of these individuals often left my teachers and parents saying – “Why?”

“Hannah why are you pretending to jackknife [XYZ person]?” My answer would always be, “Why not?”

Now that I have two kids and one has discovered his true toddler sass, I hear the phrase “why not?” on loop. Also, as a boy mom, I hear this more often than most – at least I’m assuming mothers and fathers of boys are always walking around looking puzzled because their son(s) has decided to do something crazy.

Along with questioning my children’s (keep in mind they are three and one) need to have an impromptu wrestling match like that of the classic Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant from Wrestlemania III in the middle of the living room (YouTube it), my list of “why” based moments is extensive.

Here are the top ten most recent reasons I’ve had to say “why?” and slowly shake my head in confusion.

  1. Mom – Why did you aim your penis at your face when you went to the potty?
    Three-year-old – Because the pee wanted to go up!
  2. Mom – Why are you chewing on the baby teether?
    Three-year-old – Because the baby teether is for people not babies!
  3. Mom – Why are you licking the wall?
    Three-year-old – Because I needed to mom!
  4. Mom – *Gives son a new toy* Where are you going?
    Three-year-old – To hide it!
    Mom – Why?
    Three-year-old – Because the worms will get it!!
  5. Mom – Why did you flip over the play kitchen?
    Three-year-old – Because the whale shark was coming, and he wanted popcorn!
  6. Mom – Why are you rubbing petroleum jelly all over your face?
    Three-year-old – Because I can’t breathe! *He thought it was vapor rub*
  7. Mom – Why is your play grill in your bed?
    Three-year-old – My blanket was cold!
  8. Mom – Why are you standing on the coffee table?
    Three-year-old – Because I need to dance!
  9. Mom – Why are you screaming at the drain?
    Three-year-old – The orca won’t stop yelling!
  10. Mom – Why are you not wearing underwear?
    Three-year-old – He needs to breathe!

So, here’s what I know, he watches too much Octonauts (which I secretly love), he’s extremely tactile, and he has a strong understanding of his body. With this said, all I can say is “WHY????”

What is something your kids have done or said that left you at a loss? Let me know in the comments below.

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4 Ways to Teach Your Kids Patience

What is it they always say – patience is a virtue?

I am the first to admit, my patience level is nearly nonexistent. While it has improved over the years, especially with the addition of children (God bless my kids for bringing me down a notch), I am always keeping myself in check. I’m like the Energizer Bunny always on the move and in a hurry, so don’t get in my way.

I am slowly starting to see my lack of patience in my children. Could it be my unfavorable characteristic is now reflected on them or general toddlerdom? We may never know, but what I do know is that I am constantly working towards self-improvement and providing my kids with the tools they need to be patient individuals.

Here are four ways to promote patience –

  1. Parents Practicing Patience – I’ve already admitted my faults, but we should lead by example as parents. My kids are my driving force to actively show what it means to be a mindful and patient person. If mommy can do it, they can do it too!
  2. Slow and Steady – I don’t know if this can be said for all toddlers, but my boys are always on the go. A moment of Zen is very rare and achieved when they are asleep at the end of the day. A great way to establish mindfulness and patience is to introduce activities like coloring, building with Legos, or baking cookies. We want to slow down the soul and enjoy the outcome of taking our time to complete the task at hand.
  3. Celebrate – What kid doesn’t love praise? When our kids practice patience let’s acknowledge them with a job well done. While we should tackle moments of impatience, complimenting them is of the upmost importance. A reward doesn’t hurt either. We have a mindfulness chart at home where my son fills the chart (with stickers) every time he shows patience. When all 12 slots are filled, he can then select a prize from the treasure chest.
  4. Start the Clock – A trick my parents used when I was a youngster – the egg timer. I have found my oldest responds well to the clock. He will sit there and wait for it to ding before he moves to the next activity. “We are going to park in five minutes,” “You can watch your iPad for two more minutes,” or “we will be home in 10 minutes,” are all examples of establishing expectations through time. It eases anxiety and helps when the anticipation of what’s to come.

The two most powerful warriors are patience and time. – Leo Tolstoy

Do you or your kids struggle with mindfulness? How do you address patience? Let me know in the comments below.

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Brush-Baby: The Teething Game Changer

Alright parents, let’s talk about teething. We can all agree there is nothing worse than watching your poor, sweet, little baby writhing in pain from the continuous eruption of teeth from their tender little gums. My oldest (now three) would spout out three to five teeth at once, and his little brother (11 months) is following suit.

Continuously drooling, sticking everything in his mouth, and whining (you know the teething whine), my baby was pretty much screaming at me to get him the “goods” to fix his frustration. What are the “goods” you ask?  Brush-Baby!

When I tell you Brush-Baby is the gum soothing and mom sanity saving teething grace I always needed in my life, I am not telling a lie. This UK based company is dedicated to the healthy development of gums from teething to the loss of baby teeth as well as the formation of adult teeth. Their products are designed for babies, toddlers, and young children. Healthy tooth development and oral hygiene is important to instill at a young age, and Brush-Baby is there to offer all the support you need.

There are three products I know, trust, and we absolutely LOVE for our teething youngster: My FirstBrush and Teether Set, Chewable Toothbrush and Teether, and Applemint Teething Toothpaste.

My FirstBrush and Teether Set (£6.75 or $8.38 approx): This must-have starter set is perfect the little ones, ages 0-18 months. The First Teether is my son’s FAVORITE. The soft silicon bristles help massage and ease the discomfort of teething within seconds (no joke). The teether is dishwasher safe, which I know all my fellow parents out there can appreciate, and it has an easy grip with flower guard perfect at keeping that teething game safe. Brush-Baby recommends cooling the teether in the fridge or placing teething gel on the silicone brush, and folks, it’s a game-changer. Additionally, the FirstBrush is the perfect size for brushing those tiny baby teeth. With a small head, gentle bristles, and long handle for easier brushing, this toothbrush steps up the oral hygiene game.

Chewable Toothbrush and Teether (£4.99 or $6.20 approx): Similar to the First Teether, the Chewable Toothbrush and Teether offers much needed comfort for the teething aches and pains. This award winning, yes I said award winning, silicone brush can clean teeth and gums, while soothing gums simultaneously. This toothbrush/teether is designed to reach those pesky back molars that cause a lot of aches and pains. Perfect for babies and toddlers ages 10-36 months, you can feel safe giving your child this silicone teether (highest grade medical silicone).  You need to put this in your teething arsenal ASAP!

Applemint Teething Toothpaste (£2.35 or $2.92 approx): Now I am one of those parents that will often taste everything before I give it to my kids, so naturally I gave the Applemint Teething Toothpaste a try, and it was DELICIOUS! No wonder my baby is pawing at me for more. Brush-Baby has created a special toothpaste formula that has dental protection with the natural anti-inflammatory impacts of chamomile to help soothe gums. I know there is always a concern about fluoride with small children, but this teething toothpaste has low fluoride safer if swallowed and still healthy for the tooth’s enamel. The Applemint Teething Toothpaste is also gluten free, dairy free, paraben-free, cruelty free, suitable for vegans, and SLS free non foaming. This toothpaste is great for kids 0-2 years of age.

I have seen a complete transformation in my son’s teething process since we’ve introduced Brush-Baby into our teething tool belt. I wish I had these products when my older son was going through all of his discomfort. I will be ordering more of these products as my kids continue to grow. Again, with products are for babies, toddlers, and children, Brush-Baby will grow with our family. Will you introduce them into your family as well?

Thank you Brush-Baby!!

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Parenting the Best of Each Decade

It seems we are always asking ourselves, what is the best way to parent? Now, I certainly do not have the answer (could you imagine if I did? I would be a millionaire), but what I do know is how I parent my children.

I look at the generations before me, in particular those closest to me, and think to myself, “well they turned out pretty good” (mom and dad you’re perfect J). So, what did my great grandparents, grandparents, and parents do when raising their kids?

The Girls

Four Generations

I’ve realized I am raising my children with bits and pieces of tactics from the amazing parents that came before me. Here are what I believe are the best parts of parenting styles through the decades.

1950/60 – During the 50s and 60s there was the method of trustful parenting; the idea of letting kids explore without rules and restrictions. Now don’t go to thinking I’m letting my two-year-old gallivant around the neighborhood without supervision. I don’t even want to envision what that would look like. When it comes to exploration, I encourage my little ones to discover new things (with safety boundaries of course). There is nothing like seeing your kid’s face when they discover something new and exciting!

1970 – Before I dig into the parenting style of instinctive parenting, I must preface that I do ask for help and guidance when I need it; sometimes I just don’t know what to do.  Parents of the 70s trusted that they knew what they were doing when it came to raising and caring for their kids. I try my best to be confident in the decisions I make when it comes to my children. Are they always the best methods? No, but I learn from them and move forward on what’s best for my kiddos.

1980/90 – As a child of the 90s, there is absolutely nothing (in my opinion) that can touch the decade that brought us the Blues Traveler, jellie sandals, and Fruitopia. I should also add, that I think my parents did a good job raising us to be independent, self sufficient, and hardworking individuals. The 80s and the 90s really focused on independence. We understood and appreciated self play; we let our imaginations take over. My toddler is great at playing with his little friends at school, but he is also a wonderful self player. I will often catch him playing with his toys, acting out a scene, and laughing. His imagination takes over!

Baby Hannah

Baby Hannah via 1991

2000/Now – I am a child of the 90s, but I am a parent of the here and now. Like most millennial parents (is that a bold statement to make?), we focus on the emotions – our emotions, their emotions, and the emotions of others. When my son is having a “toddler moment.” I’m right on it, talking him through all of his feelings. To be honest, my hope is that the atmosphere of openness I am developing within my family, will create a true and positive line of communication between all of us. I want my kids to feel comfortable coming to me and expressing their feelings no matter what.

My Boys

My Boys – Photo by Hillary Carpio Photography

So, what does it mean to be a good parent? I’m not sure, but I am being the best parent I can be for my kids. I’ll have my victories and my losses, but in the end, I know my kids are well loved and I would do anything for them.

3 Simple Ways to Raise Charitable Children

Over the weekend my family participated in the Charlotte Take Steps for Crohn’s and Colitis walk in support of The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. This is the second year we have taken part of this event with Team Christian B.

My two-year-old has had an active role in raising awareness for Crohn’s and Colitis for each year of his life and our newest addition is starting the trend as well. As a nonprofit employee, advocate, and volunteer, I understand and appreciate the work of the nonprofit, but especially the individuals who commit their time to various causes.

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As a parent who hopes to raise young men who care and respect others for who they are, it is important my children are exposed to various causes throughout their lifetime. These organizations are on the front lines working towards improving the health and wellness of citizens, the equality of individuals no matter their race, age, gender, etc. and I want my kids to be right there with them.

My fellow parents/guardians/role models, I challenge you to join me in creating a culture where becoming a catalyst of positive change is inherent in the younger generation.

Here are 3 simple ways we can raise charitable children:  

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1. Exposure – In this day and age, we have an overabundance of resources available at our fingertips to share with our kids about charitable work and how to give back to our communities. For most of us, we read to our kids before bed. Reading time is a wonderful opportunity to share stories of volunteerism, causes involving children (for example, The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation), or kids donating back to a cause. Along with reading, society is attached to it’s electronic devices, which means we can share videos from local charities with our kids. Videos and audio easily explain the work of the organization, but it truly takes hold of their focus.

2. Communication – How often we speak to our kids about giving back says a lot about our commitment to raising charitable children. The conversation needs to go beyond the initial exposure and into daily conversation. I’ve made it a point to talk to my son about doing what’s right for others, loving our friends, sharing what we have with others (I use giving his toys to children as an example he will understand). How are you talking about advocacy and awareness?

3. Take Action – Now my sons are two and two months, so their ways of giving back are limited, but they can participate in my charitable efforts. For example, joining me as we walked for a cure for Crohn’s and Colitis or attending an event through the nonprofit I work for, are simple ways of exposing and communicating causes with my kids. As they get older I will push them to research and find an organization that speaks to them. Once they make a connection I will encourage them to make a contribution to their selected cause such as donating a portion of their allowance, fundraising on behalf of the organization, volunteering their time, etc. There are so many ways to get them involved in one of the many, many causes out there.

Taking part in charity is something my kids will have been exposed to since the start of their lives. It’s important to me they will understand the importance of giving back and what it does for those in their communities and in their country. They will make a positive difference.

The Plate Spinner

Do you know those people in the circus or on variety shows who spin china plates on sticks? As a wife, mother, full-time employee, etc. I feel like the World Plate Spinning Champion. I know I’m not the only one carefully trying to balance plates in hopes of preventing a serious crash on a daily basis.

Listen, I’m only three weeks into this two child parenting gig, and so far I haven’t broken any of my plates, but I’ve come close. I don’t know how parents with more than two children do it. I praise the parents who manage to keep their sanity, the homestead afloat, and have more than two kids. You’re my heroes!

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My oldest (two-years old), is obsessed with his baby brother and wants to do everything he can to help us. Which is great; however, with this said, we’ve hit the “no” phase of toddler life. Every request is accompanied with “NO!” It amazes me that such a small word can cause a world of parenting frustration.

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On top of saying no to anything and everything, he’s slowly transforming into a miniature Godzilla. He walks into his playroom, rips out every drawer and dumps out the contents, flips over all of toy displays, and then walks out of the room proud of his destruction (insert mic drop). When we ask for him to cleanup or help us clean he says, you guessed it, “NO!” My husband and I look at each other and all we can say is “why?” and slowly shake our heads in disbelief.

Don’t get me wrong, he’s still my little love bug and the sweetest, but lord have mercy, the toddler years are rough. I did I mention; it’s only just begun?!

The newest member of our family is a mellow baby with a sweet disposition. We’ve finally have his days and nights fixed (thank you Jesus!), but he’s now awake all day long and wants to eat, ALL.THE.TIME. I feel bad for dairy cows everywhere. I’m a walking, talking, milk factory.

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He just farted…

Along with is hearty appetite comes some of the manliest farts I’ve ever heard. This child could put the loudest gas passers to shame. The toots don’t come alone; they are accompanied by the dirtiest of diapers. At least I know he’s healthy, right?!

All the spit up stains, dirty diapers, and gas is worth the love of this baby boy. He fits perfectly into our lives and it feels like he’s been here since the very beginning.

This is not a platform for me to complain and ask for your sympathies, I’m just taking a moment to highlight the messy life I love so much. Life with two kids, boys, under the age of three keeps me on my toes at all times. I’m beyond thankful for my husband as well as my family. It’s true, it does take a village to raise a child!

Circus music softly plays in the background, as I keep my plates balanced and steadily spinning.

The Breakup – A Boy and His Pacifier

For the longest time I thought we were in the clear. My son had no interest in sucking his thumb or pacifier, until the unforgettable day when he started to cut four teeth at the same time. He has never had it easy when it came to his gum line. Instead of one or two teeth erupting, it was always four, five, or even six all at once. When his first set of baby teeth decided to make their debut, I caved and gave my son his first pacifier, a blue and green dinosaur WubbaNub. It was from that moment on that he was hooked.

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Photo courtesy of http://www.amazon.com

A true addiction is how I would best describe my son’s relationship with his pacifier. It went from the occasional use for comfort, to shaky hands, dilated pupils, and extreme anxiety when they were separated. He no longer required it to just sooth his irritated mouth, he needed it for survival (at least in his eyes).

If I take a step back and really observe the situation, the process of weening him off the pacifier was a long and tiring journey. Before we moved, he was in an in-home daycare environment surrounded by other children. During this time he realized he did not need his pacifier during nap, because the other kids weren’t “using.” We tried for months to take it away at bedtime, but that was a nightmare. He would scream and yell at the top of his lungs. I can be super sensitive when it comes to my son’s feelings, so I would eventually cave and give him the pacifier. You can call me an enabler; I deserve it!

As we were making progress in ridding our lives of the pacifier, we moved, and we moved during the winter holiday. During this time there was a lot of change taking place. I was getting further along in my pregnancy, we were living with my parents while we looked for a house, and he was out of daycare until the start of the New Year. The pacifier was back in our lives in every aspect. He started using again during nap time and constantly held it tightly, white knuckled in his fist, ready for immediate use. All of that hard work went right down the drain and I know I’m to blame (it’s about being self aware, right?).

When we bought our new home and moved in, I thought to myself, this is the moment. We were going to get rid of that pacifier once and for all. The first step was eliminating it from nap time while he was at preschool. Not having it at school was the easy part. Next we would hide it from his eyesight. When he would get home from school he would frantically search for the pacifier, and when he was unable to find it he would eventually give up. After a few days of playing hide and seek with the pacifier, we made the toughest decision; he was going to have to quit cold turkey.

Yes, there were tears of confusion as to why this was taking place, but it only lasted two nights. Two nights! I was shocked, but when it comes to my son, it’s all or nothing. This was the best process for all involved parties. Like any toxic relationship, the breakup between the boy and his beloved pacifier was necessary. As his mother, I hope and pray he does not experience this heartache ever again in his lifetime.

I am proud to say, he has been clean of his pacifier for two-weeks and has expressed zero interest in its return. Now, with baby number two soon to make his debut, I want to rid the house of all pacifier evidence. I’m not sure I have it in me to do this all over again and I’m not sure my toddler can handle being exposed to any more pacifiers in the future.

Goodbye paci!