Sunday, January 14, 2018

Happy 4th Birthday P!


Dear Piper,

Every year I write you a letter on your birthday, and each year I am shocked with how quickly the time escapes me. It seems like I have just celebrated your 3rd birthday, and you are FOUR today. Four perfectly amazing years with you in our lives. They went by so fast.

Your fourth year hasn't seemed like a big year of physical changes. When I look back at pictures from last January, you look essentially the same. However, you are a much taller and leaner version of your three year old self. Your eyes look like they are still in the process of turning brown, but the green is hanging on for now. Your hair is long, thick, and wavy--you get so many compliments on it from strangers. And that smile could break any heart...or every single one.

This year has been a year of intellectual leaps for you. You have really grown your vocabulary. Every week you will surprise me with a new word or phrase--each one making you sound more grown up than the next. I can't help but laugh at those little sayings that you still get wrong. Like one of your best friends, Hadley--you say "hab-ley." These phrases are more few and far between these days. You are no longer a baby with baby talk. Instead, you frequently tell whole stories that make total sense. I both love and hate that! You are dramatic, animated, and talk with your hands. You are such a little woman. I am not ready to see you that way.

We traveled a lot over the last 12 months. You took two cruises, and visited Disney World for the 3rd time. You rode in an airplane for the first time. You are so brave, and are still my favorite little traveler. You played in the ocean, and rode the Tower of Terror too. Whenever I doubt that you can do something, you always prove me wrong. You love adventure and thrills whether it is water slides, roller coasters, or rides. You learned to swim this year with minimum struggle, but you are very cautious in the water!

You are still a really picky eater, but we do feel that we have made some progress in the last year. Your favorite meal is still Cheerios (you used to call them Chee-dots, sigh) and milk. Your daddy says you're just like Jerry Seinfeld. You love spaghetti, but have recently chosen to forego the meat sauce, choosing plain buttered noodles instead. Your a bread and dairy lover. You will eat a lot of fruits, but essentially no veggies. We are working on that.

Over the last few months you have fallen in love with PJ Masks and Paw Patrol. You love to watch the shows and even just watch people play with toys on You Tube. Daddy and I don't understand that last one much, but it's your thing. Anything with these characters on it is a hit for you. That is why your birthday party next weekend is Paw Patrol themed. You will play for hours with the figurines and dolls--making up your own scenarios and dialogue. I am amazed at how active your imagination is at your age.

While you love these super hero toys, you are also really girly. You love when I paint your nails and let you wear makeup. You even got your own make up for Christmas. One morning before school we had to make a detour to the playroom for you to put on your makeup. So cute! You also love to dress up in Princess dresses, crowns, and shoes, and play around. Usually you will be happy to do your rendition of "Let it Go" for anyone who asks.

You love to learn, and therefore love your school. this is your third full year at Camden Academy. Your teacher is Ms. Megan. She has taught you so letter sounds and how to count to 100. You are always excited to go to school and see your friends. You are interested in learning and love to come home and share what letter sound you did today. I hope you keep this quality always.

Each holiday season with you gets better and better. Even though we were all fighting a cold this Christmas break--we still made the best of our time. I love to see the holidays through your eyes. It brings a whole new meaning to this time of year. This Christmas you finally got into some of our favorite Christmas movies like Home Alone 1 and 2 and the Santa Clause. I am actually really sick on Home Alone at the moment with as much as you wanted to watch it.

So there you go baby girl. You are the apples to my applesauce. The sunshine to my cloudy day. You make me so mad I could spit, and yet make me laugh till I pee my pants a little. Your hugs and kisses are therapeutic, and I have been practicing saving the sound of your Love You Mommy's at each age. I know one day you won't say it so freely and I'll need those memories. I say it every year, but I am so lucky to be your Mommy. I am so proud of you each and every day. You are my greatest adventure.

"Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” 
― Dr. SeussHappy Birthday to You!


Monday, May 8, 2017

Should We or Shouldn't We?

I feel like I have been writing a lot lately, but this blog is taking so many turns down many different roads. I am struggling a little bit with the blog's identity. Which could stand to reason that I am also struggling with my own as well.

For as long as I can remember life has felt like a blur from one big event to the next. I am always looking forward to the next milestone and the next big thing that life has to offer. Now that I am 30--It seems that those major milestones are fewer and far between. I struggle a bit with my path in life.

Don't get me wrong I love my life. I have a great husband who is an excellent partner in life. I have a beautiful little girl. I have a job--all I can say about that one. I have a small group of friends. I have a larger group of mommy friends. I have a million hobbies and interests. I feel like I am in the best shape I have been in in years. Yet--I still seem to be in the midst of uncertainty.

I think in part it is because of this deadline that I have had in my mind. It always comes back to Baby #2. Ever since P was one I have been obsessed with this struggle. Will we or wont we? Should we or shouldn't we? Can we? What if we can't? Do I really want to do this all over again? Maybe I don't want to do this all over again? I definitely don't want to do this all over again! OMG I really want to do this all over again!

I will admit that it probably consumes me in a slightly unhealthy way. I think about it way too much. I worry about it. I dream about it. I think I might have a problem.

I had made up my mind that 5 years is the cutoff. I do not want my children to be more than 5 years apart in age. Now that P is 3, and really almost 3 and a half, that deadline is drawing dangerously close.

What I used to be able to push in the back of my mind and say--"I'll just think about that later. We have plenty of time to debate it. " We really don't have that luxury of time anymore. To be completely transparent--we still go back and forth on the issue a lot.

If you are new to the blog then you know that my husband is less than convinced that our family needs to grow. I am pretty convinced that it should. We have been that way for the last 3 years. But even I find myself wavering over the last month. I see all of his points and he sees all of mine, but it just comes down to good old fashioned difference in opinion. And I mean all the way to the gut. I just want another, and he just doesn't. Simple as that.

When I think about having to go back to work this time (I stayed home with P for 18 months) I wonder if I will be able to mother that way. But mostly I worry about my P. I love her so completely that I agonize over something that will so indefinitely change our relationship. She has been the center of my universe for so long--how will she react to having to share that universe? Will I be able to love the second as completely as I love her? I think I can, but it is scary.

I am feeling the pressure myself, so I know that J is feeling it doubly and I really, and honestly do feel bad about that. BUT have you ever wanted something so badly that you can't imagine your life without it?

That is how I am. I have pretty much convinced myself that I will never be happy if I CHOOSE not to have another child. If I tried and couldn't get pregnant--I think I could live with that. But not trying--I think that is what I will be thinking about on my death bed. I will be sad that my child grew up alone, and that I never got to experience that bond with a second child.

I often use this blog as a way to process feelings, and that is clearly what is happening right now, so just bear with me. I have a recurring nightmare. It is horrible and I don't really want to type it out because I am afraid that it will come true. It is totally irrational, but I think it has something to do with the whole second baby thing.

Let's just say something horrible and tragic happens to P in this nightmare, and I am left childless at an age where having more children is impossible. The horror is too much to even imagine. the loss unbearable. But that is a mother's fear--that we will lose a child. I can't help but think that this is my mind processing these feelings over having another child. It is totally irrational but it is so real.

Am I the only one? Am I crazy? Someone please tell me that I am not. I swear there are moments when P is being horrible that I think that I wouldn't never do this again, but 2 seconds later I am day dreaming about another little pudgy baby with green eyes and brown curls. Lord help me. Lord help my husband!

Someone help me out and tell me I'm normal!


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Meal Prepping for Busy Moms

Hello Lovelies!

Last week I started a new workout/nutrition regimen that was sent to me by another blogger. Last week was the learning curve. Just like anything else  I had to figure out what would and wouldn't work for me. I will admit--it was an eye opening experience. I learned a lot about myself that I probably already knew, but was trying to ignore.

The first thing I realized is that this is REALLY hard work, and I am so thankful that my husband chose to participate with me. Without him it would have been 10 times harder. That first workout--I wanted to quit after the warm up, but he pushed me. Even though I was secretly cussing him out in my mind. I was able to push myself much further than I thought I would be able to go.

I also learned that my time is even more precious now that I am trying to fit a workout into my day each and every day (except for Sunday, glorious Sunday). This is what will make this program hard or me to sustain after these 30 days are up. I will either have to get up at 4 am each morning, or workout after my daughter goes to sleep. I get major mommy guilt when I try to work out while she is awake. Some days it is necessary--likely today. When we have to do cardio at the gym--she either has to stay at school an extra hour or we have to split up and tag team our workouts.

I don't know how those of you that have multiple children work out 6 days a week. The simple juggling act of 1 child is enough to make my head spin. I work all week, and worked all weekend, and I was able to make it work--but long term, I'm just not so sure. You really have to a have a level of commitment to make it happen. And I do, right now. If I get pregnant again and am dealing with swelling lower extremities, then that will be the test.

The thing that has been really nice is the meal prep aspect. I think that this is something that I will likely carry over even after I finish the 30 day program. Here's why I am loving it so far!

1. It saves so much of my time during the week
Say what you want--that you don't have time on the weekend to prep lunches and dinners. Here is what I say--You don't have time not to meal prep. Sunday I spent maybe 1 1/2 hour meal prepping both my husband and my lunches for the entire week. AND there was enough left over for dinner last night and tonight.

I don't know about you but the last thing I want to have to think about when I get home after working all day, and P's gymnastics class on Monday is making dinner for all of us. I spent 15 minutes warming everything up last night and getting it all assembled. It cuts the prep time in half. Seriously! If you are not doing this, then you are missing even more valuable time with your kids! Plus I knew I had to fit in my workout as well last night. I wasn't stressing because I knew dinner was a piece of cake.

Many people go ahead and pre portion dinners and have them all assembled as well. I don't do that because I don't have enough tupperware. I just assemble it all each night, but it takes no time at all!

2. It cuts down on the opportunity for cheating on the diet
If I didn't have it ready to go--I would be more inclined to find an excuse not to do it. There would be a greater chance that we would be bringing in Moe's or something else. The fact that it is there and it is ready to go--really cuts down on the temptations.

3. It really isn't more expensive
I bought enough food for 8 lunches, 8 dinners, 16 snacks, 7 protein shakes, and all of my daughter's food for this week for around $80. That is really no more that what our weekly grocery shopping trip would normally be. It is just focusing a lot more on fruits, veggies, and lean meats.

4. It gives me an excuse to try out new healthy recipes
Last week I found a few Whole 30 recipes that I wanted to try out and I just went for it. This week for lunch we are having Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes--pretty tasty! Even though I don't really like sweet potatoes, they are growing on me. I made extra chicken and for dinner we had buffalo chicken burrito bowls with brown rice, black beans, and pico de gallo.

I find that spending a few extra calories on a healthy sauce to make the food less bland really helps to conquer the cravings. I will sacrifice a snack for that healthy buffalo sauce. It's worth it to me.

5. Overall it just makes me feel like a better Wife/Mom
I will admit, that my husband used to do the majority of our cooking. I had gotten pretty lazy with it. Since I have taken it over for this 30 days--I think I might keep in awhile. It does give me this extreme feeling of accomplishment. I feel like I have doing something nice for him--though he would probably prefer that I didn't so that he could have his hamburgers. LOL!

So if you have been on the fence about meal prepping. Even if it is not healthy meal prepping--do it. It really gives you back so much time during those busy weeknights. You can better spend that time playing hide and seek with your kids or working out with your husband. I challenge you to do it! I think you will be surprised!


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Getting Fit

When I graduated from high school and went to college I was set on becoming an overachiever. I did. While most of my friends gained 15 pounds or so... I overachieved. I gained 20! Weight had never been a struggle for me, and found myself to be really bad at making healthy decisions when it came to exercise and food.

Once I graduated college and started working--I was so busy that I would forget to eat. I was so exhausted that I would choose sleep over meals in a lot of cases. Without even noticing, and certainly without any planning--I went from a size 8 and 140 lbs to a size 2 at 115 lbs. I didn't exercise, but I didn't really eat either.

I know what you are all thinking, "stupid skinny girl complaining about her weight like she has a problem." I want to tell you that I do have a problem. BUT it is not with weight-- at least right now.

 I got married and got back to a more sustainable weight of about 125-130 lbs. Then I got pregnant, had my daughter, and started breastfeeding. Let me tell you--that is just a glorious thing. Suddenly--I could eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted to eat it, and yet I kept losing weight. It was magic for me. Then...I weaned, and suddenly I was not used to having to watch what I ate like I was in my early twenties. AND I was starting to feel old.

By old I mean that I was starting to get sore from taking the stairs, or have trouble when I didn't stretch before taking a walk. Or be out of breath from just carrying my daughter around the house. I realized that while I was still a size 4--I was anything but healthy.

That thought really freaked me out because it goes against everything we have been taught--that looking good equals feeling good. I look pretty good in clothes (it never looks the same after having a child), but I didn't feel strong, healthy, or good.

As a mom I want to take care of myself. I want to be there for my daughter, and that includes being healthy enough to care for my daughter. So my husband and I are trying to make a commitment to getting healthy, eating right, and exercising regularly. It is certainly harder than I thought it would be.

We signed up a gym membership at a gym really close to our house--no excuses right! Then one day, on one of the many groups that I follow as a blogger, there was a fitness blogger who was looking for beta testers for her new 30 day workout program and nutrition program. I jumped on it. I mean--it couldn't be that hard!

We are on day three of 30 and I have never been so tired in my life at the end of the day. The first lower body workout almost killed me, and I am still, 2 days later, incredibly sore. Nevertheless, I have never felt more energized in the morning, and more healthy at the end of a long day. It's been three days and my clothes are already fitting better. I don't get winded walking up the stairs anymore--although I have wanted to cry because I am so sore. The workouts are really challenging, but I found it to get easier with each repetition.

The main issue that I am having is with the food. I am really hungry at the end of the day. I am following all of the rules--but I am just not a big veggie person. I am trying. I haven't broken yet. My after dinner snack last night was cucumbers and hummus--yum.

Will power can be a fickle thing, but I am really trying. I desperately want to get in shape before I decide if I will be trying to get pregnant in the near distant future. So what better way to hold myself accountable than to talk to all of you about my journey. While I can't share specifics of the program--you would have to purchase the plan yourself--I will tell you all about my successes or failures with it. And let you know at the end what my results are.

Here's to getting healthy for my baby(ies)!


Monday, April 24, 2017

Trips with Toddlers

When my daughter was a baby I avoided taking her out for long periods of time. When she was breastfeeding--it just felt like too much of a hassle to take her anywhere. I got real anxiety at the thought of taking her on a long car ride by myself. I would stress over what would happen if she cried, or was hungry. I avoided taking her anywhere overnight until she was 6 months old. AND that trip was so awful that she didn't go anywhere again until 14 months.

As P got older though, the more she craved adventure, and the better traveler she has become. I know that if I have another one--I will need to find that balance of being able to provide structure without making myself crazy. I do believe that a lot of my issues with travel with my daughter were self induced. I just wasn't flexible enough. I was too caught up in her schedule and nap times to have fun.

However, traveling with toddlers can make even the most confident parent fret a bit.  We are taking three vacations this summer, so here are a few tips that I have found to help while on trips with toddlers.

1. Understand going in that bed time will be later
When we go to Virginia every summer, we do a great job getting P to bed on time each night, but when we were at Disney--she was going to bed at all kinds of crazy hours. I used to try to fit our schedule around P's nap and bed times. It is just too much. You will not be able to accomplish what you need if you are tied to a 7:30 bed time. Let it go. I promise that they will go back to their normal bedtime when you return home. Kids are smart enough to understand that there is a difference when you are away from home.

2. Understand that nap time may not happen
At this stage in the game (P is three years old) we are really struggling with nap time anyway. For this reason, I am already mentally preparing myself for the fact that P might not take naps while we are on our vacations this summer. Children (especially toddlers) are creatures of habit, so one little difference could really throw them off. I know that P usually sleeps well at our place in Virginia, because the room is very dark and similar to the environment that she has at home. BUT our cruise for this summer is likely to be a whole different story. I'm not going to worry about it. I know that she will need to sleep later in the mornings to make up for it, and I will try like hell to make sure that that happens.

3. Bring as many comforts from home as possible
Since my daughter is such a product of a strict schedule and environment--I always try to bring as many comforts from home as possible when we travel. This includes all 35 of her stuffed animals (I'm not kidding). If we have room and it can be done, then I bring them. On the list of things that I normally bring on trips with us: her comforter, pillow, stuffed animals, sound machine, monitors, potty seat, and potty stool, and countless of her favorite toys. Obviously if you are going by plane, then it might be different. We will see how P does on the cruise without her potty seat. She will go on public toilets, but protests without it at home and on vacation at times. It should be interesting.

4. Figure out the bed situation
Up until last summer, P slept in her pack n play on vacation, but once we moved her to her toddler bed at home--we knew she was not going to take to that sleeping arrangement on vacation anymore. When we went to Disney last September, I actually bought a toddler cot that she could sleep on. It was adorable, and she slept on it at my parents maybe twice. When we got to our condo at Disney she was so excited to sleep in her own bed in her own room that she actually spent the whole week sleeping in the full sized bed in her room. She didn't want to even look at that cot. This has become a bit of an incentive for P on vacation. Since she sleeps on a smaller toddler bed at home--she looks forward to going on vacation to get to sleep in the "big girl bed." Hey--Whatever works.

5. Bring medicines and other items for emergencies
Now when I say emergencies I don't meal real ones. I mean scrapes, and sniffles. I try to bring any medicine that P has ever needed in her three years. I am a firm believer in Murphy's law (what can go wrong, will go wrong). I like to live in the know. Before A trip I pack the following: eczema lotion, glycerin suppositories (because kids get constipated on vacations), miralax, tylenol, ibuprofen, band aids, benadryl, ear drops, saline spray, boogie wipes, and rubbing alcohol. You just never know when something may be needed.

Preparation truly is key with my little one. I try to keep as much structure in the chaos as possible, and usually she does a great job.

Happy Monday!

Friday, April 14, 2017

10 Things I Didn't Know Before I Became A Mom

While I did a ton of research while I was pregnant there were still so many things that I just didn't know before I became a mother. I was terrified that I didn't have the, "mom gene." It sounds cliche, but I truly believe that your instincts do just kick in. After a few weeks I felt pretty confident that no matter what P did, I would be able to deal with it successfully.

Nevertheless, there are still things that I am finding out each year that I didn't know before I became a mom. I catch myself saying, "that would have been nice to know before it happened." If you are about to become a member of the mom club then check out my list. Maybe you are better than me and you already knew a lot of these, or maybe you are like me and you were completely caught off guard.

1. How to swaddle a baby
I seriously had never even heard of swaddling before I started reading about night time sleep for infants while I was pregnant with my daughter. I definitely didn't know how to do it well. It took me several weeks to get it down, and by then she was ready to move on to one of the velcro swaddles. Do yourself a favor and learn this before your baby is born so you can get some practice in. Here is a nice diagram above.

2. If you breastfeed your period may not come back until you stop
I about had a heart attack when I didn't have a period after my daughter was born. Once I stopped the post partum bleeding I expected to have another period in 30 or so days. I didn't have my next period until my daughter was a year old and I was weaning her. My doctor laughed when I called and left a message thinking that I was pregnant again.

3. Newborns can have tylenol, but not ibuprofen.
I bought a bunch of medicines before my daughter was born, and when she started teething at 4 months of age I reached for the ibuprofen, and while reading the dosage I realized that infants cannot have Ibuprofen until 6 months. What??? Seems like that would be something the doctor would be sure to stress at one of those first visits. Tylenol only until 6 months! I never use Tylenol. I don't think that it is very effective, so I just didn't even think about it. Who knew?

4. Brush up on early childhood development
I'm a teacher, but I teach high schoolers. I have essentially no knowledge about what is typical or atypical behavior from babies and toddlers. ZERO. Therefore I was really stressed out that my baby was progressing too slowly. When one of my mommy friend's baby rolled over at two weeks, and mine did not roll over until 5 months--I thought for sure something was wrong. it would have been much better to read official articles on expected windows for milestones like crawling and walking BEFORE I had my daughter. Knowledge is power and it can save a ton of stress.

Now that my daughter is 3, I still find that there is so much that I do not know about her development. When I see her around other kids her age or I talk to her teachers at baby school--I sometimes get fears that her development may be lagging in an area. As a mom, we have a tendency to over react, and I am REALLY bad about that. I tend to take it personally when I shouldn't. It is just so hard not to. I find myself calling my mom (who has an early childhood degree and has taught 3 and 4 year olds for years) a lot with questions relating to P's development. Usually she tells me that I am crazy and that she is right on track. 

Sometimes I wish that there was a parenting class that you could take where they would tell you things to watch out for. I just feel like there is much more awareness now about cognitive and developmental delays, and I just don't feel like I would notice a delay even if it was there staring me in the face. I want to protect my daughter and support her in any way that I can, and these types of things scare the crap out of me.

5. Teething can cause cold like symptoms
When my daughter started teething and was running a low grade fever for a week solid--I rushed her into the doctor thinking surely something was wrong. I had no idea that teething can exhibit all kids of symptoms like congestion, and fevers. Who knew?

6. You are never out of the woods with night time sleep
I used to think that once you got your newborn to sleep through the night that it meant that they were able to consistently sleep through the night. I had no idea that you have to LEARN to fall asleep.  That it is a skill. I had no idea that she would continue to go through sleep regressions (didn't even know there was such a thing), wake up when she was overly tired, or sick. CRAZY.

7. That I would literally have nightmares about tantrums in public
If you missed my post on tantrums from Wednesday, then you can read it here. Toddler tantrums are my number one fear these days. Public toddler tantrums are my very own version of hell on earth. I knew that kids threw tantrums,  but having never remembered throwing one or seeing one myself--I had no idea the level of mortification that they can cause on the parent's part. Am I the only one?

8. Kids use car seats until they are 8 years old or 57 inches tall
I am all about safety, but I just didn't realize that car seats would be a thing in my life for 8 years. I don't remember sitting in one myself past 4, although I can't really trust my memories from that age. In addition I didn't realize that there were so many different stages of car seats. If I had I would have bought the Graco one that grows with them. I probably will if I have another.

9. How truly important a good support system is
I had heard "it takes a village" my whole life when it comes to raising kids. However, you just do not understand the true meaning of that phrase until you actually have children. It is so important for you to be able to take a moment to breathe. You need people on your side. Even if they are just someone to bounce ideas off of. It can make such a difference. I joined a Mommy and Me class when P was 2 weeks old. I still talk to a lot of those mommas. I am so grateful for their friendship.

Family is also so important. I want my child to have influences outside of her parents, and my child has her own little village of fans. It is so important to us and we could not do it without them.

10. There is no limit on love
I used to think that I knew exactly what my capacity for love was. I prided myself in being emotionally intelligent. I thought I loved deeply and fully. When I had P--my whole world changed. I no longer felt like I knew anything about love. She taught me that love means so much more. It exceeds exhaustion, frustration, grief, and anger. I love that little girl more than I love anything else in this world.

I occasionally worry that I would not be able to love another child like I love her. But the other night I was thinking about when I was pregnant with P--how I would worry that I might not love her. Thinking about how I feel about her now only confirms what she has shown me in her short three years of life--my capacity for love is endless when it comes to my children. Whether it was 1 child or 5--my ability to love would multiply with each one. I am certain of it.

I hope you enjoyed this list. I am feeling led to leave you with this quote:
"making the decision to have a child--it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body"
How very true these words by Elizabeth Stone are.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

How I deal with Tantrums

First let me preface this by saying that I love being a mother. I really do. It is what I love most in this world. I thank god every day that I was blessed with my daughter...

BUT....That tiny little three-nager has moments that make me question why anyone would ever want to do this thing called motherhood.

P started throwing tantrums at 18 months of age. This correlated with starting baby school which made me feel doubly guilty as a new working mom. However, over the last two years I have figured out some ways to help shorten the length of her tantrums and lengthen the amount of time between tantrums.

I, by all means, am not a psychologist and I am not an expert. I am just a Mom who has one too many times given the knowing nod to a fellow Mom who was tussling with her toddler in the aisles of Publix. I have many times offered a nice comment like, "I've been there girl. Hang in there." I believe that these types of interactions are powerful between moms. I appreciate when I get these types of affirmations myself, so I love to pay it forward.

Let's just get that all out of the way here. You are doing a fantastic job! Don't let your toddler's tantrum define you. It is not your fault. It is just a symptom of the age. It's developmental. Don't listen to those other bloggers and "friends" of yours who claim that their two year old never acts the way that your child does. They are full of it....BIG TIME!

Now on to what I have found that works for my little tantrum thrower!

1. Pick your battles
OMG I hate that I am using this overused phrase, but it is just that true. You have to learn to pick your battles with these little monsters. I would venture to say that I am displeased with 75% of P's behaviors during a day. But if I corrected each and every thing that she did that I didn't like, then that would be my only interaction with her every day. AND it will most certainly end in a frustrated toddler who is primed for a throw down.

Instead I try to focus on a few behaviors each day, and rotate through them. I still hit them all each week. I just focus on one at a time. Yesterday it was the fact that she was refusing to take naps during the day, whining, and nose picking. Today I will pick something else like noise level or paying attention to me when I talk.

Part of the issue is that I spend so little time with her during the week that I really have to be careful about the negativity. Which brings me to number 2.

2. Use positive behavior reinforcement
After a few tantrums we start to figure out what is likely to send our little angel over the edge. The trick is to avoid, avoid, avoid like the plague if you can. BUT there are some things that simply cannot be avoided.

 For the longest time my daughter would throw a tantrum over her clothes in the morning. I had bought all of these really cute shirts and ruffled pants and she HATED them. Every time I tried to put her in the clothes she would throw a tantrum, and we would all end up late to work/school. She has to get dressed, but she doesn't have to wear those clothes. I had to let it go for both of our sanity. However, we occasionally still disagree on what she should wear.

So I figured out that a lot of her friends were wearing skirts with their uniform tops to school and that P wanted to look like them. This is why she was pitching a fit over pants for awhile. So we chit chatted and I told her that if she could get dressed every morning without throwing a fit for four days, then I would let her pick out a dress to wear to school on Friday. On Friday, they get to wear what they want anyway, so I was really giving up nothing, and P felt like she was gaining something. Everyday that she got dressed without crying or whining--I gave her loads of high fives, kisses, and verbal praise. It really works for my kid. All she really wants is for me to be proud of her.

3. Provide choices
Another area that has the tendency to set P off is food. There are certain things she likes and the list is VERY short! Her doctor wants me to be a little stricter on her in this department, by sending her to bed without dinner if she refuses what we are having, but in my house that has never been productive for me. What we end up with is a 3 hour tantrum and a child too wound up to go to sleep. So I had to improvise.

Since J and I normally like to eat dinner a little later (especially now that soccer is in season) P was needing to eat earlier anyway. I started offering her choices for dinner. Since she pretty much won't eat any of the meals that I make--it is not a big deal to me at this point. I let her pick between two options. If she won't choose, then I just make her what I want, and put it in front of her. If she eats it, then fine, and if not, then I don't really stress too much. I have learned that she will not starve. If she is hungry, then she will catch up somewhere. For the most part she will make a choice, and eat what she chose with a smile.

4. Don't be above bribery
I know, I know, all you perfect moms out there are gasping in horror that I am suggesting that bribery is a good parenting tactic. Well, you can all kiss it, because this is the tool that works best for my child. AND I DON'T CARE WHO KNOWS IT!!!

While, I don't want to have to continue to bribe her her whole life--I do think that when used sparingly it is very effective. P's doctor claims that you cannot reason with a child under 5 years old. I firmly disagree with this notion. My daughter is able to asses consequences and rewards of different options and has been able to for a year. If your child cannot yet, then I do not suggest trying to use this method.

My daughter loves stuffed animals, candy, Peppa Pig, Mickey Mouse, Disney Princesses, movies, Disney World, the park, and any kind of trip. She would rather be out and about than at home. I have noticed that if I keep her in all day everyday she will have a meltdown after a few days. She needs to get out even if it is just to run an errand or go to the playground. Since she loves these things--they hold power with her. I have been known to hang a playground trip over her head to get her to take an afternoon nap on the weekends. She will go to sleep without problem. EVERY. TIME. I'm just saying. Find what your child loves, and reward them with it.

5. Validate your child's feelings
Ultimately they are tiny humans with big people emotions. They cannot fully communicate to you the momentous feelings that they are experiencing. They  just don't have the vocabulary yet. Therefore, I find that helping my daughter communicate her frustrations can stop a tantrum that is brewing.

When P is getting upset she will clam up and stop talking. She will revert back to 18 month old P, who just pointed and grunted when she wanted something. I HATE THIS! It drives me nuts. But instructing her in that moment not to whine and "use her words" will almost certainly end in a full on floor slapping, leg twitching tantrum. Don't do it! You can address it later. I promise your child will remember.

Instead I give her the words that she lacks. It sounds like something straight out of a therapist's mouth, but I swear that it works so well for her. Here is how it goes most of the time.

P--Grunts and points in direction of lollipop that I have just said she could not have until after she has eaten her sandwich.
Me--"I understand that you're getting frustrated and angry at me because I told you that you could not have the lollipop. I am not saying that you cannot have it later. I am not trying to make you angry. I just want you to take a few more bites of your lunch. Can you do that for me? Then you can have your lollipop."
P--Whines and then shakes her head yes and picks up sandwich.

Once she completes her end of the deal--I reward her with the lollipop. Later that night I will talk to her about using her words and not pointing when she wants something. When she is calm and in a better mood.

I hope these tips make sense to you, and that you have success with your toddler tornado.

I am also interested in knowing what works for you? I would love to try it out as well.