Thursday, July 18, 2013

Some Days I Feel Like a Bad Mom

We all have moments where we feel like we are inadequate, moments where we feel like we are failing our children in some way.  These moments are often far and few between and my rational mind knows that it's simply not true, but my emotional self can't help but give in every now and then.

Last Sunday night, after Bolt and Simba were asleep in their beds I realized that we had a bag full of our boys' art on our living room floor that we hadn't touched all weekend.

Suddenly my mind was filled with thoughts of 2 year old Simba drawing pictures over the weekend and telling me he wanted to put them on his cubby to show Daddy.

Was he excitedly putting his art in his daycare cubby to show his parents who never looked or acknowledged it?

And there you have it, in a matter of moments I felt like the worst Mom ever. What parent doesn't nurture their children's inner artist,  encouraging them to be all they can be?

I resisted the desire to self-loathe and instead decided to look for a solution; a skill I'm trying to teach 4 year old Bolt.

With the help of some painters tape,  I had my boys' art on the wall for everyone to enjoy and as the hubs pointed out once the art gets ripped down and torn up, we can simply throw it in the recycling bin without any guilt. My boys' art will have been displayed, enjoyed and appreciated.

And just like that I had myself back on track; I'm not a bad Mom, I'm a real Mom who gets tired,  overwhelmed and sometimes forgets the little things, but aren't we all?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The 4 because I'm Four Rule

4 Because I'm four

Preschooler logic is simple, straightforward and generally innocent. This is not always a good thing, but the 4 Because I'm Four rule takes advantage of our little ones need for power and our need for control.

Here's an example of 4 Because I'm four being the ultimate negotiating tool; on occasion Bolt will wrangle the bag of mini marshmallows out of the cupboard while I'm cooking dinner and although I don't want him to have treats, if I fully refuse him screaming, hitting and general chaos will ensue, which will negatively affect my ability to make dinner and ultimately result in hungrier, grumpier children.

So instead of just saying no, I start by reminding Bolt that I'm making dinner and we don't really need any snacks. When he assures me that the sky will surely fall if he doesn't have a marshmallow, I ask him how old he is. With great pride he will inform me that he is four and when I suggest that must mean he needs 4 mini marshmallows he tells me what a great idea I've had. Within moments the crisis has been averted; he happily runs off with 4 mini marshmallows in his grubby little hands and I finish cooking dinner in peace. It's truly win-win as far as I'm concerned.

I'm a firm believer in choosing your battles and 4 Because I'm four is a great compromise. It has almost infinite potential to be applied to negotiations with your child:
  • 4 books before bed
  • 4 vegetables before dessert
  • 4 toys each when sharing
  • 4 MORE minutes of snuggles
  • 4 MORE minutes of TV/computer
  • 4 treats
It's a simple rule, that we started about a year ago (and of course back then it was 3 because I'm three) but this simple concept has gone a long way to tame the frustration in our household.

Try it, you might be surprised. 4 Because I'm four is a great rule for preschoolers and toddlers alike.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

How do you know WHEN do you give your 4 year old an Epipen?

I know that anaphylaxis is a very serious thing.
I know that epinephrine saves lives.
I know that epinephrine won't harm my child if administrated unnecessarily.
I know that if you even consider administering an Epipen, you should.

But last night, when I suspected my boy was having an anaphylactic reaction, I didn't give him his Epipen.
How do you know WHEN to administer the EPIPEN
I didn't want it to be true, I hadn't actually seen it happen myself and his breathing wasn't laboured; I told myself he didn't need his Epipen, not yet.

He complained ferociously of a sore throat and made a wet grunting kind of noise, I thought he might be having an oral allergy of some sort so I gave him some Benadryl. I worried it could be an anaphylactic allergy, but in truth I worry about Bolt a lot so I tried to dismiss my fears.

Then the grunting became gurgling and Bolt threw up everywhere, with intensity. At that point I  really began to worry. I almost ran for the Epipen, but Bolt seemed calmer, like the reaction might have passed.

Despite my hopes, I noticed a body rash coming up on Bolt's torso and legs. I snuggled with Bolt, gave him a large dose of Benadryl and the rash began to subside fairly quickly.  For a moment, we were both able to relax, just a little bit. 

About an hour, a half a piece of bread and a glass of water later, Bolt vomited again. He began to complain of stomach pain and his body was starting to hunch over.

Immediately, I was scared. Scared that I had fed him something that wasn't peanut free, scared that he had found one of the few treats we have in the home that MAY contain peanuts or potentially worse, I was scared that Bolt had developed an anaphylactic allergy to something new.

With my Mom in tow, I packed Bolt up and drove him to Children's Hospital. But I still didn't give him his Epipen.

I can only conclude that I was in some sort of denial, that I didn't want my boy to have a reaction that required an Epipen and that I didn't want to HAVE to give my boy a shot in the leg to save his life. I just didn't want any of it to be true, event though I knew it was.

I know, for a fact, that if his breathing was laboured, I would have administered the Epipen without question. I also know, that in my heart I must have known that he was having a reaction. Perhaps worst of all, I know that my 4 year old boy suffered more than he should have because I didn't want to believe he needed his Epipen. It makes me sad, but I refuse to wallow in guilt, instead I will learn the lesson and I will remember:

I am the mother of my children and no one knows them like I do. 
If I am worried, I have just cause.
My instincts will keep my children safe,
I need only follow them.

The ER doctor also said something very simple that really resonated with me: 'TWO symptoms, you JAB him in the leg'. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Four Ways We're Surviving the Sleepytime Battle | My Sleepytime Routine

Although I hate to admit it,  for a long time  when it came to discussing bedtime, I was a teeny bit of a smug mom, but can you blame me, for a while, I had two kids that went to sleep on their own.  But, karma has kicked in, these days I have a negotiating,  manipulative four year old who is not against screaming and flailing to get his way.

Have you read the book 'Go the F**k to Sleep'?  In a nutshell, that's Bolt, except you can sprinkle in a bit of the ADHD power struggle to make things a little more fun.

We are doing all sorts of things to help my 4 year old manage his emotions and bedtime is no exception.

Since my boy loves the '4 because I'm FOUR' rule, here's four ways we're Surviving the Sleepytime Battle

1. Manage Expectations:
We started by identifying a consistent bedtime routine and developing a checklist to help our boy manage his expectations and prepare for bed. It also ensures that he moisturizes, takes his medications and brushes his teeth. This goes hand in hand with his calendar, which we review nightly; we use clip art magnets to illustrate what he's doing each day of the week.

Download a PDF copy of 'My Sleepytime Routine' here.

2. Help your child "calm his/her body":
Relaxation scripts are bountiful on the Internet, search for child friendly ones and try to find one that resonates with your child.  Bolt seems to like this Treehouse Relaxation Script and I hope it will eventually become a calming visualization for him.

3. Implement rhythmic white noise:
I ordered a noise machine and with the help of ocean waves, when he's tired and relaxed, Bolt seems to be settling into sleep in 10-15 minutes if I lay with him. Interesting fact, our psychologist tells us that rhythmic sounds change the way neurons fire in the brain and helps calm the body.

4. Go with the flow:
In the few weeks we've been following this routine, Bolt has been willing to do the relaxation script about 2/3 of the time. Some days he's eager to do his deep breaths on his own, others he isn't interested at all. It's his routine, he can skip steps if he wants, but he can't replace them with steps we've already done such as playing or reading. After 'calm my body' the only step left is sleepytime and that I'm firm about.

How do you survive the sleepytime battle?
Do you have a sleepytime routine?
Do you use white noise?