Posts Tagged ‘ preschool ’

The Evening Mom Blahs

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

I find that right around 5 pm, when dinner is looming and the kids are typically at their worst, my mentality starts to shrivel. It’s why I founded The Failure Hour 2 years ago, but have been a terrible president as of late. My backyard has remained devoid of girlfriends, toddlers and wine.

Sure, I’ll get one together soon, but my emotions that go along with this time of day have confounded me. It’s not like getting dinner together and sitting down with the family are a bad thing. Sure, the bedtime routine can be tedious, but it can also be fun.

I realized my restlessness and blah-ness are because while many parents switch gears in terms of leaving work and coming home, my gears don’t really switch. I’m not in a boardroom or an office. And no matter what I’m doing–even if my kids are in school–I’m always wearing my mom hat.

From the caption here, I’m not saying I yearn for either side–the working mom or stay-at-home one (though I’m sure the cartoon will provoke outcry).  It’s just that I never have the opportunity to “forget” I’m a mom. Well, except if I’m in Bikram. And dear god, the instructor gets more insufferable each time. The other day she said we could grow an inch by doing a certain pose. Seriously?

I’m not even remotely attempting to have a poor-me, I’m home all day with my kids moment. First, because it’s not true. I’m not home with my kids all day. Fia is in school 5 days a week, Em is in preschool 2 days now and on those days I have a free life to do what I want. Sort of. If you count trips to the grocery store, errands around my area, taking kids to and from school, if I’m lucky a workout (though that’s proved disastrous), meal planning (also semi-disastrous), and, if I’m lucky, a blog post. Thus, the mom hat. I’m not complaining. It’s part of what I signed up for when I slowed down in the career arena and sped up in the mom space.

So I have come up with an experiment to try.

There is a big comfy chair in our living room that we rarely sit on. Around 5 pm, I’m going to sit in it with a cup of tea, a glass of wine–anything that physically tells my brain I am crossing over (not in the John Edward way, of course). I’m going to attempt to sit and do some Sudoku. I know this probably sounds lame, but I need my brain to have some sort of “jolt” to shift gears. It’s a far cry from leaving a boardroom and coming home, but I’m hoping it will train my brain to look forward to 5 pm rather than dread it.

During this time I will unapologetically park my children in front of their favorite show for 30 minutes, which I usually do anyway. I call it our time to regroup.  Fia will sometimes say, “Mama, can we regroup today with Daniel Tiger?” I see nothing wrong with this, especially since any show they watch is educational.

I’m hoping this shift, while not drastic, will be enough to take away the antsy, blah feeling. I will let you know. If anyone can relate and has other ideas, I would love to hear them.

Cartoon of mom via Shutterstock

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Nanny Diaries' Authors on Parenting and Writing

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Why I Made The Right Parenting Decision

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

It feels so good when you know you made the right call as a parent. That’s how I feel about our decision to start Emmett in preschool 2 days a week. I already think he’s calmer. He is so stimulated there that he seems to have gotten some wild energy out of his system. The teachers tell me he loves to follow the rules, play with other kids, and share. I really think kids need–and crave–structure, other kids, boundaries, etc.

When I was debating on sending him, I had to ask myself what is in his best interest? If you let the guilt trip and judgment from others influence you, you’re doomed as a parent. I want to do what’s best for my kid. And if I happen to benefit as well, ie: getting 2 days to myself, then it’s just an added bonus.

So here’s to following the mom instinct–and being guilt free to boot.

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My Preschool Decision With Emmett

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Any preconceived notions I had about raising gender-neutral kids went out the window when I had a boy. While Fia has always been a girl with an adventurous, tomboy spirit, she has also had this soft, ethereal and empathetic way about her. Butterflies land on her. The cat loves her.

Cut to Emmett who any day now is going to fall off this banquette and land on his face. Our first ER visit was last weekend. I’m shocked it took this long.

Em bulldozed into the world with a mischievous twinkle in his eye, a pointy elf-like ear, and a grin that said, “Hey, Mama, you ready for me? Because it’s going to be a wild ride.”

(Pictured here with Phil’s mom)

As he grew, his ear lobe straightened out, but his hair became covered in crazy curls (unlike Phil and I, who have straight hair). And the more the curls came in, the wilder he got. At 5 months we called him Thumper because he would thump his legs up and down in the crib or on the changing table, giggling all the while. My pediatrician declared him the most active child she’s ever seen.

He is also about the happiest child ever and does have a side that will sit still and page through books for 20-30 minutes at a time. I wouldn’t be surprised if he reads by 3. He is also super cuddly and sweet. He’s not a hitter or a grabber. But because he’s more curious than a cat (who only has 9 lives), we are on constant deathwatch.  The other morning I turned my back for 10 seconds to help Fia. Em was gone. I found him standing on top of the toilet tank pounding at the window. Our house is quickly becoming a prison, where we are the guards and he is the inmate trying to outsmart us in his escape.

This is why we decided as soon as he turned two, we would put him in preschool. We asked ourselves what is he going to enjoy more? Being with a sitter twice a week or running errands with me (he crawled into the dryer at Sears last week)–or in a structured, safe environment where he can learn and play with other kids? The answer is obvious. Of course I had the usual mom guilt–for about 3 seconds.

Today is his first day and I think he is as thrilled as we are. The director has been sending me pictures and text updates, “Emmett is doing fabulous. He sat through circle time beautifully, he ate ALL his oatmeal and is loving yard play with his new friends.”

I, too, am doing fabulous. I’m sitting across the street from his preschool catching up on my life, writing, and breathing a big sigh of relief. The boy is happy and safe. And I’m free. In another 2 hours I’ll be ready to grab him back and kiss those curls. Until then, his new friends and teachers can.

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My Preschool Jitters And Fall Feelings

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

The smell of fall invokes motivating emotions in me. On the east coast it is the smell of football season, leaves changing, school starting. It always makes me want to recharge my batteries, clean my house, get a new haircut, find new recipes, exercise more. In other words, that smell inspires me to reset all my buttons and start anew. Except, now I live in LA where leaves don’t change and fall doesn’t kick in until November. Emmett doesn’t go to school and Fia’s didn’t start until this week.

From afar, I’ve been watching all the fanfare of the first day of school. Friends posting on Facebook, their kids posing with lunchboxes and backpacks. I craved that fall feeling, but it just wasn’t happening. Instead, I’ve been battling 100-degree heat in a non air-conditioned house. I’ve been exhausting the options on entertaining my kids while trying to retain my sanity. I’ve been full of anticipation for days, weeks–even months–about Fia starting a new school and our family getting a new schedule down.

Hers is a 5-day a week Montessori program. The hours are 9-2:30 with no nap. You can pick your kid up at 1 if you want to nap them, but for me, that falls right when Emmett is napping. So I opted for the 2:30-3 pm pick up and plan to put her to bed early. I am crossing my fingers that she will still nap on the weekends. That’s our time when she, Phil and I all climb in bed together. It is heaven. (Em naps in his crib still. Soon, he’ll join us.)  Trying to figure out the schedule has created a running puzzle in my mind.  I just wanted to get it underway already. 

So finally, finally today was our turn.

Last night I set my alarm for the first time since having kids. Just in case for some strange reason we overslept. Last night Fia and I picked out her clothes. We made her lunch. Phil put some stickers in her lunchbox as a surprise. I booked a sitter to watch Emmett so we could take her together. We woke to fog and a slight chill. It will burn off and heat up, but it was an auspicious beginning.

I’ve written before about how she sometimes resists change and transitions.  But we’ve been talking about how great this school is for weeks. She kept saying how excited she was on the drive. Then we parked and she said, “Mama, hold me.” My heart dropped. Here it comes. The sobs, the wails, the heartache that penetrates to my core. Phil and I held our breath.

To my relief, as we walked into the courtyard, she jumped out of my arms and went running to her classroom. She shook hands with her new teachers. They showed her where to hang up her jacket, where to put her lunch box, where to keep her snacks. She followed them around with all the glee and giddiness of a preschooler.

I now know I’ve been more anxious than anyone. No surprise. Aren’t we always?

After about 30 minutes watching, Phil and I decided to leave. We hugged her goodbye, she hugged us back, and that was it. Except, I couldn’t just leave. I went back and peeked inside. She was happily playing at a table with her teacher.

Back in the car Phil said, “It’s crazy–growing up. And that it’s our job to make them independent of us.” I nodded. It is bittersweet, but more sweet.

Now I sit, alone, at one of my favorite cafes. I was ravenous and ordered a huge breakfast. My body exhaled. Fall has officially begun, and I feel it, even if the temperature and the air tell a different story. Even if summer shorts are worn in place of fall flannels. It feels good. Really good.

 

 

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When To Start Time-Outs?

Saturday, August 24th, 2013

I’ve said it before, but I think I’m going to be saying this for a long, long time. I can’t grasp how the male species has survived. This, after having a boy. An 18-month old boy. A boy who has turned from tame to terror. Albeit, a remarkably happy terrorist.

My friends with boys just laugh it off. They are already in this club and have accepted what it means to have birthed a Y chromosome. For those of us who have girls, it is a rude awakening.

Fia was a wild child. I used to joke she was “like a boy.” I still hear moms saying that about their daughters. Baaahhaaaa. Not even close.

Fia has tons of energy and is still full of spunk. But she isn’t stupid. She didn’t climb up on counters and reach for butcher knives. I wouldn’t turn my back for 3.3 seconds only to find her dangling from a bar. Or climbing in the dryer. Or crawling in a drawer. Or, Or, Or…I could go on and on.

It seems each day I am reaching a new level of madness. It is making me feel like I no longer have control of my house. We are moving and our current place is really hard to childproof. But we are here for 3 more deadly months. Who knows what this tornadic force will do next? I can’t even make supper anymore without him nearly losing a limb. Hello? Calvary? Anyone there?

The thing is, he has about the best temperament of any child I’ve met. He giggles in his sleep and sings in his highchair. And as, um, “active” as he is, he will sit for 30 minutes and page through books. At least he used to do all these things. I’m scared I’m losing that part of him. I’m scared he’s turning into a gorilla.

So what to do? He is starting to get angry when his needs aren’t instantly met. He gets frustrated if he can’t figure out a toy and sends it hurtling across the room. Yesterday I turned my back for 1.3 seconds. He had a glass I had just set down, dumped the water out and as I screamed, “NOOO” he looked at me with that mischievous grin and sent it crashing in a million pieces on the floor. He has discovered that pulling hair makes Fia cry. He thinks “finished” with his food means throwing it all on the ground. “Emmett—NOOOOOO!!!!!” is becoming the dominant phrase in our house.

Oh, but it gets better. He yanked Phil’s prescription sunglasses off his face today and threw them across the room. As usual, we reacted. Phil yelled, “NO EMMETT! “YOU DO NOT DO THAT.” Emmett immediately burst into tears. Wailing. The word NO also equals meltdown. Or, in an act of animalistic defiance, he starts to eat his arm or foot. I am raising a gorilla, a canibal and a crybaby.

My sitter Michele just laughs. She has 5 kids, 4 of them boys. She said Emmett definitely ranks up there as a wild one, but at the end of the day she insists he’s simply “all boy.” She points to how fearless and fun his disposition is. I can’t entirely disagree. My pediatrician has said he is one of the more active babies she’s seen, but the fact that he does (or did??) sit and read and have quiet time made her think he just has a lot of energy to burn. My in-laws say he’s a normal, happy toddler. How can this be? “Normal” is making me pull out my hair. How does the male species justify their insane behavior as “normal???”

I know I’m probably painting a terrible picture of him and it sounds contradictory when I say he is almost always in a great mood. But these little snapshots happen throughout the day. What do I do? Should I start putting him in his crib for a timeout? I feel like he’s too little to “get it.” Am I being had?  Will he begin to understand consequences and boundaries at 18 months? Fia is 3 1/2 and I honestly can’t remember when she had her first time out. But it definitely wasn’t this young. She was far tamer. To date, she’s probably had less than 7 time-outs.

When he turns 2, I’m planning on putting him in preschool 2 mornings a week. I think some structure will help. But that is still 6 months away. A lot can happen.Maybe I just need to embrace this chapter. Let it pass. Or maybe I should find a different preschool… one that will take him now.

Looking for advice, tips and a survival timeline. Please.

 

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