Friday, April 25, 2014

Conquering an Emotional Mountain

Because I’m a REAL mom, I sometimes lose my cool. I get frustrated, I yell, I threaten time outs and sometimes I cry.

If you follow me on Facebook, then you know, THAT mom, is not the mom I want to be. I believe in parenting that encourages love and support, where we don’t inflict punitive punishment but rather help and encourage our children to feel their emotions and work through them rather than suppress them. Gordon Neufeld’s book ‘Hold on to Your Kids’ was the first parenting book to truly resonate with me and the way I felt like I should be raising my children.

According to the book, here’s the problem with timeouts:
  • Almost all misbehavior stems from feeling disconnected from YOU.
  • When you punish your child with a time out, you are physically increasing that disconnect.
  • This enforces their disconnect with YOU and introduces a level of separation anxiety.
  • Your child becomes stuck in a circular, disconnected, anxious state, which results in more misbehavior.

 The solution therefore to the misbehavior is essentially a time-in, which looks like:
  • One on one attention from you.
  • Permission to feel their emotions, cry and feel supported.
  • Validation that their emotions are normal and ok.
  • Love, lots and lots of love.

Which sounds all pretty on paper, but in reality this is tough stuff.

How on earth am I supposed to reward my 5 year old with dedicated one on one attention for getting on top of his three year old brother and pounding him in the back, or kicking him in the face, or pushing him on the ground, or overturning furniture? Particularly if there’s only one parent at home? It’s almost impossible, even when the hubs is home.

But it is possible and sometimes it works.

The more often I step into my boys’ world and try to feel their feelings, the more often time-ins are successful at diffusing the big emotions. Sometimes its simply a matter of perseverance and patience.

The point of all this, is that this week, I had a success and it felt so good. I came home to boys that were borderline raging and within moments the tears, screaming, flailing and hitting were all in full force. After about 30 minutes, I managed to get Bolt up to his room and I quite simply, let him be mad. 

I told him I wouldn’t let him hurt me and physically stopped him from hitting me or breaking his toys, I acknowledged that he was having big feelings and not only was that ok, but I was right here with him if he wanted me. I asked him what was bothering him and over the course of the episode he told me he was mad about his dinner, mad he didn’t have a new Skylander, mad his brother touched him and all sorts of random things that irritated him, but I knew weren’t actually the real issue. Then without warning, in the midst of his screaming, he verbalized what was actually bothering him.

I miss my old house.
I don’t like it here.
I want to go back to my old house.

He opened that door and I jumped in with two feet.

When prompted he told me he missed his old bedroom and he missed the train table in his room, which can easily be remedied, but I suspected that still wasn’t actually the issue. So I told him that what I really missed was our family and our friends, and he readily agreed that he missed them too. 

We talked about how hard it is to be away from the people that we love and that we will go and visit everyone soon. We talked about calling our special people on the phone and talking to them on the computer and I reminded him that soon they would come visit us again at our new house. That turned into a discussion about the spare room we had just painted and how much we thought that our family would like having their own room to sleep in.

Before I knew it, we were talking about the Skylander decals on his wall, laughing and giggling.

And when his brother finally came traipsing in, he said Simba, you can come and play with us, I feel better now.  Me and Mom were making up swap names for the Skylanders and that made me feel happy.

I know it was sharing our feelings that made him feel better, not the Skylanders, but I don’t care.

Bolt and I conquered those emotions together and I’m so proud of us, because now I know we CAN do it.

It’s a long road and we’ve been working on this for over a year and though we have had many small successes (and failures) this is the first time I truly felt like we connected and climbed the mountain together and it gives me SO MUCH HOPE.

If you're looking for resources, in addition to Gordon Neufeld, Aha Parenting has great articles and newsletters that I highly recommend.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Celebrate Easter with a Kinder Surprise Scavenger Hunt | #kindermom

A new home, a new city, a new tradition.

Until recently we lived 15 minutes from all of our immediate family so any day that even resembled a holiday included running around to at least one of our family's homes. And truly, family is one of life's pleasures.

But this Easter, on what I expect will be the first of many holidays in our new home, we have an opportunity to start a new tradition for our little family of four.

As a #Kindermom I'm so excited that this year, we will be having a Kinder Surprise Easter. 

My boys love a good treasure hunt and in the past we have simply made a trail from their bedroom door to the living room and allowed the egg hunt to go wild, but this year I have another idea.

In addition to scattered eggs, I'm going to create an Easter Scavenger hunt. My boys are old enough to appreciate such an event, but not so old as to be offended by my poor quality drawings (and I promise you they are poor).

Each boy will get his own 'treasure map' created by drawing 9 sketches of locations around our home (eg. a picture of a chair or the tv) on a piece of computer paper, rolled up and placed inside a toilet paper tube. My boys LOVE to have their treasure maps rolled up, but lack the skills to keep them that way, so a piece of toilet paper roll is the perfect solution.

And their treasures? KINDER SURPRISE! We received this amazing Kinder Surprise Egg Hunt kit complete with a hollow bunny and mini eggs and although I'm cutting it close, you certainly still have time to grab one for your house too.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, my favourite things about Kinder Surprise are:
  • They are Peanut-Free.
  • They are Gluten-Free.
  • Clear allergen labeling.
  • They are more about the little toy than the chocolate.

As if I need more reasons to love Kinder Surprise, I am super happy to partner with a company that partners with the Children's Miracle Network to 'Share the Joy'. Kinder will be providing 12 baskets to CMN hospitals this Easter and donating $25,000 to help support this non-profit organization dedicated to saving and improving the lives of children by raising funds for children's hospitals across North America.

How are you celebrating Easter this year? 
Will Kinder Surprise be in your Children's basket?

"Disclosure: I’m part of the Kinder® Mom program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group.  All opinions on this blog are my own”

Monday, April 14, 2014

Our First Spring in the Country

When we moved, we knew that Logan Lake was located in mountain terrain and was therefore prone to colder and longer winters, however over the past week our family has been embracing the warmer weather and the decline of the snow.

It's been borderline t-shirt weather; our (almost) three year old seems to be immune to the cold and not only thinks it t-shirt weather, as far as he's concerned shoes are optional as well.

We've built planter boxes (though its still too cold in the evenings to plant the seedlings that are scattered throughout our kitchen) built forts in the backyard, acquired a picnic table, enjoyed sunny outdoor snacktimes, spent hours at the local park and even took the kids hike for about a kilometer partway around the local lake.

And its been amazing.
I've especially loved the tranquility and the ever elusive peace that seems to settle (at least for moments) between my boys when they are adequately stimulated, entertained and full of fresh air.

So all of this begs the question, what next?

What activities can we take up as a family that will entertain all four of us and get us outside exploring the bounty of nature our new home provides?

I'm thinking geocaching, because what kid doesn't love a good treasure hunt?

Does your family geocache? 
Do you have any suggestions for a reasonably priced, kid-friendly, geocaching GPS? 
(I've been considering the Magellean Explorist GC and almost bought one last year, but couldn't justify it when we were still living in the city.)

Monday, April 7, 2014

What I hear | City vs. Country

We used to live in the City; a large neighbourhood park, the bus and an elementary school were all within a 5 minute walk. The grocery store, the mall, the Skytrain and a 7-Eleven were all within a 15 minute walk. We were living the City life in our quaint little townhouse; our family, our friends and our lives all revolved around the Lower Mainland.

And then we took a chance on life. 

We now live in a little mining town with 2,500 people. The pub closes at 9pm regardless whether there’s a hockey game in progress, the grocery store doesn’t open until 9am, Bolt’s kindergarten class is anticipated to be 13 kids and although there are very few stores, one of them is a video rental shop (apparently they still exist).

So many things have changed and I struggle with where to start and what to share, but as I sat on my beautiful backyard deck yesterday, enjoying a sunny Sunday afternoon, I had an epiphany and knew exactly where to start; with my ears.

What I heard in my City Backyard:
  • Traffic and vehicles horns.
  • Emergency sirens.
  • School bells.
  • Asian Karaoke.
  • Drunk Teenagers.

 What I hear in my Country Backyard:
  • Birds chirping.
  • Leaves rustling.
  • Chopping wood.
  • Silence.
  • Nature.

 And I have to say, I’m feeling pretty good about this particular aspect of my new life.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Blue skies and powdery snow,
My children smile as the wind blows.

Get outside, enjoy the sun,
Be free, my boys, find your fun.

Smell the trees, touch the sky,
Take time to dream and learn to fly.

Just now our steps are small,
Gingerly we tread, for fear we may fall.

But hope is our mantra and change is our friend,
This road that we follow, we’re travelling a bend.

Each day’s an adventure, something new to behold,
Our hearts brim with excitement, in spite of the cold.

I can’t help but wonder what tomorrow will bring,
When the grass turns green and we experience the Spring.