My hubby and I are super relaxed parents. I mean, why shouldn’t we be? In my pregnancy I had no problems and didn’t even face the dreaded monster, morning sickness. I had a smooth, easy birth and quick recovery. Thank the heavens because I’m a wimp when it comes to pain and if I would’ve had a horrible pregnancy & birth experience I’m not sure we would be hoping for more than one little one. Our little girl has us looking at the world in a completely different way and I can honestly say that I feel for those parents who don’t always keep that perspective change and can end up frazzled and stressed out. Nobody wants that because our children are like mirrors and will reciprocate the feelings they are getting from you.
Here’s a few tips that we have found help tremendously not only to keep our home a happy one but also to help build our little girl’s independence.
1. Give children choices.
My little girl used to give me a hard time when it came to getting ready to go somewhere. She’s such a homebody and she’s pretty happy with running around in just a diaper so sometimes having to put on clothing, shoes, socks, jackets, etc can be a big deal. After only 2 or 3 of those tantrums I knew something had to change. Being the adult and the one in charge of the situation, it’s easier for me to change my actions and my approach to things. Now, when we need to get dressed, I get out 2 pairs of pants with 2 shirts that could be matched either way. This gets her excited to get dressed and she’s eager to help get them on rather than fight it. She’s then happy enough to let me put on her shoes and socks. I hold her up in front of the wall where her hair bow hanger is and I let her choose her own hair clip. After all, the point is to keep her hair from being in her face, who cares if it matches her clothes or not?
2. Healthier food from the start.
My husband and I were already eating pretty healthy once little bug came around. Add that it seemed so much easier for us to mash up foods that we were eating once Talia was on solids than it was to try force feeding her nasty jar baby foods, and it just seemed like common sense not to fall into the pitfalls of commercial baby foods and snacks, but to feed our baby healthy, yummy foods. At 15 months, Talia doesn’t eat junk foods or processed foods, rarely has or wants sweets, and certainly isn’t eating sugar filled candies or toddler snacks. I want to highlight that I mentioned she doesn’t even want those things. Our bug gets so much more excited about something like an avocado for breakfast (or lunch, dinner or just because..she eats them like crazy!). =) Then you don’t have to worry about struggling later to cut down on soda, sugars, and junk.
3. Engage your children.
There’s no reason to let the television be your child’s baby sitter, especially when you’re there. Don’t get me wrong, my little girl watches her share of movies and select tv shows but we listen to more music than anything. I want her to be able to entertain herself and have a more creative imagination and not have to be constantly entertained by something. I personally think there’s no reason why you can’t be fully present with your child when you’re right there. There’s really nothing on Facebook that’s going to rank as a higher priority and I certainly don’t want to waste valuable teaching moments with my child to read updates from people I barely remember. There’s times where she is enthralled in something like her felt food and I find time to post a bit or what not, but I like to be involved with her as much as I can.
4. Make yourself find a reason to say “No”.
I see so many parents out there that worry so much about telling their kids they cannot do something or have something. My little girl begs to play with Daddy’s phone. Instead of him telling her No all the time he put a password screen lock on it and she’s fine. How easy was that to just make your little one happy? In our house if we really don’t want her to have something, it’s put away where she can’t even see it. This isn’t just something that applies to toddlers and toys either. If your child asks you to go do something–say, go to the zoo– make yourself find a reason not to, otherwise go have fun and just do it! I think as your child gets older they will see that when you do actually say no to something that you have a very good or important reason for doing so.
5. Let them be helpers.
You should see the happy dance my little girl does when it’s time to switch the laundry. There’s no harm in letting her help to pull clothes out of the dryer into the basket in front or from the washer to dryer. She also has fun splashing in a few bubbles while doing dishes and pushing the broom around the floor. The housework may not be done perfectly or quickly but the quality time is well worth it. When we do our grocery shopping, I put a few items up with her and she gets so proud of herself when she places those items onto the check out area.
6. Slow down.
When you know you’re going to have to take your kiddo somewhere with you, allow plenty of time to get ready and get there. Then, slow yourself down and it will help your little one to feel more relaxed too. When you get stressed or frustrated, they pick up on that and it can affect their disposition. I think this tip alone can help things run more smoothly because it gives you a moment to breathe and it keeps your mind more focused on the specific task at hand.
7. Create one-on-one time.
It’s so important to set aside special time for you you and your child. Not long ago, my hubby took our little girl to Jamba Juice for a little date. He shared his peach smoothie and got her an apple cinnamon pretzel. On top of that, everyone complimented how cute the two of them were and they even won a free dessert! I think it’s extra special since Daddy is the one who leaves for work and he’s been getting home lately just before her bedtime. Even though I’m the one that stays at home all day I even take her on little dates during the weekend. Sometimes it’s just a trip to the fabric store where I purposely get materials to make something for her. Plus, she loves to go down the aisles with apparel fabrics because they’re usually hanging from the bolt and she can run her hands through them all. =)
All in all, it’s important to really enjoy the moments you have with your children. =)