Friday, December 17, 2010

What To Do When Baby Won't Sleep

By the title, you're probably assuming this is a blog entry on how to get your baby to sleep better. Nope! In light of the fact that our entire family is sick right now, sleep has been hard to come by this week. My husband and I have been walking zombies for much of the week, just trying to get through each day. There is nothing worse that having to take care of two sick kids (or in his case, go to work) when you feel like you got hit by a truck. Over and over again.

This is actually a blog entry on what you can do if you baby isn't sleeping- literally. You can be quite productive during this time, believe it or not. Let's face it; if your baby isn't sleeping then neither are you. So...what could you be doing?

If your baby's not sleeping, you could brush up on your French. I remember coming downstairs with my oldest at 2 AM pretty much every night those first few months and watching French in Action. Coincidentally, it was the program that corresponded with the French textbooks I used in college. I felt like I could pick up right where I left off! We bonded by my whispering sweet French nothings in his ear during the wee hours of the morning.

If your baby's not sleeping, you could read a chapter or two of the book that has been sitting on your dresser for months. Or how about that magazine subscription that someone just renewed for you, not realizing you wouldn't have a minute to yourself after the baby was born? Curl up on the couch with your little one and induldge! I remember being very up-to-date on all of the Hollywood gossip for a good three months thanks to Life and Style magazine and some "free" time in the middle of the night.

If your baby's not sleeping, you could go through your old cookbooks (or browse the internet) for a new crock pot recipe. Put the baby in a bouncy seat or swing and have him/her watch you go to town in the kitchen. If you found something for lunch, you could turn the crock pot on and it would be fully cooked by noon. I used to cook meals and freeze them for another night, knowing that some nights my little cherub would be a little more needy around 5 PM, leaving me no time to cook dinner.

If your baby's not sleeping, you could peruse Facebook for all of your fellow moms with infants, pregnant friends, or insomniacs and commiserate that everyone in the world is sleeping except you. I wasn't on Facebook when my oldest was up every night but it would've been a great resource!

If your baby's not sleeping, you could use the time to phone a friend overseas whom you might not otherwise be able to call. I remember chatting with my friend in England while she got ready for work one morning. We weren't able to talk long but it was just enough to catch up briefly and then she was off and running.

If your baby's not sleeping, you could catch up on your email. There is nothing more frustrating than having 546 new messages in your inbox and NO time to sort through them, let alone write anyone back. People will love to hear from you, even if it's 2 AM.

If your baby's not sleeping, you could write out your Christmas cards or thank-you cards from the baby's Christening. In this day and age when everything is electronic, it is always nice to receive a tangible card in the mail. I actually had a "station" on the couch with thank-you cards, stamps, a pen, my address book, and my return address stickers. That way I never had to spend time rummaging through drawers to get everything I needed; it was all right there. Believe me, my oldest gave me lots of time to do my cards. ;)

If your baby's not sleeping, you could work out. No, I don't mean hop on your treadmill and run 10 miles. I mean a little bit of toning here and there. Lifting soup cans while you sit straight up in a kitchen chair can strengthen that little extra jiggle underneath the arms. I'd purchased an ab cruncher from a yard sale years ago that I used to try to tone my stomach muscles after having my first. It worked...then I got pregnant again. At this moment, I still have five pounds to lose from my second pregnancy and it's definitely in my stomach! Time to hit the ab cruncher again...

If your baby's not sleeping, you could scrapbook or fill in your baby book. Such tasks are time-consuming now but think of how excited your son/daughter will be to read all about when they first sat up or learned to walk and see the pictures to go with it. I plan on giving my scrapbooks to my sons when they're old enough to genuinely appreciate them. So maybe 40?

If your baby's not sleeping, you could video him/her cooing, kicking, smiling, swatting at things, and just plain being cute. Remember to narrate his/her age and what milestones have been accomplished lately. Then you can watch the video over and over when your precious baby is older and going through a not-so-precious phase.

There are hundreds of other tasks you could engage in while your baby isn't sleeping but you get the idea. The most important lesson I learned from those early months with my oldest was that time with an infant truly is fleeting; one day you wake up and they're two years old. They no longer want to be snuggled or rocked to sleep. They don't want you to smother them with kisses or play games with their belly fat. Instead, they want to do everything themselves; for better or worse. People aren't kidding when they advise new moms to enjoy every moment because it goes by so quickly. And when your baby is older and sleeping well, you will then have the time to sit at the kitchen table and blog about what to do when a baby isn't sleeping...all the while thanking God that yours is. ;)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Childhood Distraction and Development -- Can I Borrow Some as An Adult?

"Being a dad" and "having a job" are two concepts that have been socially intertwined for quite a long time, perhaps dating back to the Adam. Those men who have taken on the role of a "dad" but struggle holding the title of employee are often the subject of scorn and ridicule. Unfortunately, the current economy is not conducive to gainful employment for many men in the workforce. On the other side of the coin, there are families that choose to have the father stay at home with the kids and allow mom to go back to work. This would certainly make financial sense if mom is a doctor or lawyer and dad is a teacher, but most people who look on the situation do not immediately know the inner financial workings of such a family and pass undeserved judgement on a man who prefers the company of his children.

The relationships a man has with his work and his family these days are interesting...to me, anyway. A typical commute could be 30-45 minutes. A typical work day could be 8-10 hours. In our family's case, I see our kids from about 4:30 (assuming I left the office on time and Chanel didn't take them out and are returning later) to when they go to bed at 7ish. Amazingly, our children are able to develop a relationship with me in at most two and a half hours, which includes both dinner and bath starting about 5:30-6.

With just one hour a day for playing with them, smiling at them, tickling them, running, jumping, spinning with them, laughing, talking, singing with them, the time is precious, to say the least. Yes, there is the weekend, and our oldest has already demonstrated his ability to look forward to it to have more time with Daddy, but it is so intermittent.

Thus, when a child is having a bad day, it becomes so frustrating to know that some of this precious time is wasted and by someone who clearly enjoys it but doesn't understand how it is being wasted. Improvisation is key when you encounter this sort of problem, as I (rather proudly) demonstrated earlier tonight. Our oldest and I were going to walk out to the Blue Box and mail a stack of Christmas cards. The temperature out was, oh, maybe 40- or 50-something and we definitely needed coats. Trouble is, he doesn't like putting it on. He's fine wearing it once it is on, but having to put it on is a source of grief.

He ran from me when he saw the coat. Our house's circular floor plan had him coming back around, though, so I waited for him. He fought a good fight and put up some formidable toddlerish resistance, but when I saw that he was holding a small Lightning McQueen from Cars, "Put Lightning down the tunnel!" It became a game and he didn't even fight when I put the coat on backwards and we had to redo the whole thing.

As I said before at the end of a Pop-Psy post, kids are amazingly resilient, adaptive, and able to comprehend complex concepts before they can verbalize their understanding. They'll do just about anything you ask if they think it's going to be fun; Tom Sawyer should have taught us all this before. Now, until I hit the lottery or develop my home business sufficiently, the trick is going to be making leaving for work tomorrow morning a game and convincing myself it's going to be fun.

Cry it out? No way.

Because my sister is seven months pregnant and I have a four month old, the topic of babies comes up quite frequently during family gatherings. Thanksgiving weekend was no exception. For some reason, my sister asked my mother if she ever let us cry ourselves to sleep when we were babies. My mother promptly answered, "Of course not! Whenever you cried, I comforted you. You actually think I would've just let you cry?" My other sister challenged my mother, recalling an incident in which she remembered my mother forbidding her to go pick up our younger brother, who was crying hysterically in his crib at the time. She seemed to remember my mother saying something to the effect of "I don't want to reward him for crying. He needs to learn that nighttime is for sleeping. " My pregnant sister nodded and told us she remembered the same scenario, adding that mother had been pretty adamant about not letting anyone interfere with our brother's ability to "self soothe."

My mom, understandably embarrassed, insisted that she never let any of us "cry it out." I think it's safe to say that after hearing my sisters elaborate on their memories, my mother had simply fallen prey to what has become an unfortunate norm for parents today. She felt she had no other option. I only wish she'd been able to read an article I stumbled upon right before I gave birth to my oldest son. This article (along with many afterward), helped to solidify my decision to never allow my babies to cry it out. No matter what.

Here is an exerpt from what I read:

We live in an age where we can know that the baby is safe in another room, despite the loudness of his cries. Does this mean we should leave babies to cry on their own? Cry It Out (CIO) proponents often advise that babies left to cry will eventually stop, and the duration of future crying bouts will decrease. What are the emotional consequences of crying for the infant when she is left unattended? John Bowlby and colleagues initiated a series of studies where children between the ages of one and two who had good relationships with their mothers were separated from them and left to cry it out. Results showed a predictable sequence of behaviours: The first phase, labeled “protest”, consists of loud crying and extreme restlessness. The second phase, labeled “despair”, consists of monotonous crying, inactivity, and steady withdrawal. The third phase, labeled “detachment”, consists of a renewed interest in surroundings, albeit a remote, distant kind of interest. Thus, it appears that while leaving babies to cry it out can lead to the eventual dissipation of those cries, it also appears that this occurs due to the gradual development of apathy in the child. The child stops crying because she learns that she can no longer hope for the caregiver to provide comfort, not because her distress has been alleviated.

According to attachment theory, many babies are born without the ability to self-regulate emotions. That is, they find the world to be confusing and disorganized, but do not have the coping abilities required to soothe themselves. Thus, during times of distress, they seek out their caregivers because the physical closeness of the caregiver helps to soothe the infant and to re-establish equilibrium. When the caregiver is consistently responsive and sensitive, the child gradually learns and believes that she is worthy of love, and that other people can be trusted to provide it. She learns that the caregiver is a secure base from which she can explore the world, and if she encounters adversity she can return to her base for support and comfort. This trust in the caregiver results in what is known as a secure individual.

It has been suggested in the past that CIO is healthy for infants’ physical development, particularly the lungs. A recent study looking at the immediate and long-term physiologic consequences of infant crying suggests otherwise. The following changes due to infant crying have been documented: increased heart rate and blood pressure, reduced oxygen level, elevated cerebral blood pressure, depleted energy reserves and oxygen, interrupted mother-infant interaction, brain injury, and cardiac dysfunction. *
That last sentence was heart-wrenching to me. We create those symptoms in our own babies??? And why? Because their crying is inconvenient to us? Because people tell us our babies should be sleeping through the night by the time they are three months old? Nonsense. Neither of my boys got that memo and I'd have it no other way.
Instead of letting our children cry it out, my husband and I decided early on that we were going to comfort them and work hard to instill in them a sense of confidence and self-worth because they knew they were loved. Our oldest is two and a half years old and sleeps from 7 PM until 7 AM without interruption. He does not fight bedtime. In fact, it is because he sleeps so well that my husband and I are able to maintain this blog; we have several hours to ourselves each evening because we are not involved in a war to try to get our toddler to sleep. Our secret? When our son was a baby and cried at night, we fed him, rocked him, hugged him, rubbed his back, and comforted him in any way we knew how. We never left him to fend for himself as a helpless infant. He grew to know that bedtime was not something to fear because if he needed us, we were there for him. We hoped that the hard work we put in that first year would pay off in the end and you know what? It has made all the difference. :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Reading To Your Children - Why You Shouldn't Forget To

Parents tend to have a lot on their minds, and it usually has something to do with the kids. We as parents need to ensure, at a minimum, that our children are secure, healthy, and also loved.    In the modern age and in a stressful society, we regularly commit such a great deal of precious time providing for these basic concerns that we tend to overlook another essential area: intellectual development. As a parent, you must engage your youngsters' minds in addition to their health to ensure that they grow and learn. Jacqueline Kennedy-Onasis once said, "If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do well matters very much." Raising children to be productive members of society is only the start of parenthood; these productive members should also be able to learn and think for themselves. The most effective approach to accomplish this objective is through reading to them.

Plenty of reasons exist why you should read with your kids. For anyone who is currently reading with their children on a regular basis the following reasons should certainly reinforce their resolve. If you are not yet frequently reading to your children, I challenge you to start:

  1. A thoughtfully chosen story can engage and challenge a child's intellect. Through books, your little one will not simply re-live activities in their everyday life but will also discover and encounter societies and activities--even entire worlds--wildly different from their real-world experiences.
  2. Reading aloud shows what good reading actually sounds like and offers a target for your children's own reading efforts. While your children are learning to enjoy a book, they need role models to go by. Won't you be one?
  3. Reading many different kinds of books enhances your children's understanding of language which includes terminology, syntax, and pronunciation--things no one thinks about using but must know in order to communicate. The more terms and expressions your children know, the more experience and knowledge they'll have to draw on while learning how to read more complex works and the simpler it will be for them to master higher skills.
  4. Reading along with your children aids them with associating printed words and their meanings. Children learn how to read most words merely as a result of recurring exposure. It's not at all sufficient to only supply words and phrases; preferably, the words also need to be put into context.
  5. Reading shows exactly how a book works. For example, we read a book from the front cover to the back cover and each page from top to bottom, and each line from left to right. Those having substantial experience with books tend to take this information as a given; however, small children must learn these basic rules.
  6. A well-written narrative fuels your children's creativity and imagination which supports the fostering of their imaginative efforts and play. How can a child imagine himself king without first knowing the life of a king from a story? How can a little girl pretend she's a fairy without first being exposed to fairy-dom in a book? Sure, there are movies and shows, but that is spoon feeding compared to the self-prepared meal that a book provides.
  7. Reading many different stories allows children to understand how story construction and narrative work, which supports literacy in addition to interpersonal relationships. We utilize storytelling and narrative in our professional and private relationships and those who possess a good understanding of narrative technique, in many cases, are among the most successful in these areas. Provide your children an advantage in the workplace.
  8. Establishing reading and writing as a priority in your daily life demonstrates the significance to your children so that they can make it important in theirs. If your children do not ever see you read, then exactly why should they believe it is important?
  9. Reading to your children additionally provides physical touch since your children either sit in your lap or perhaps cuddle alongside you. It offers yet another chance to reinforce the connection you have to your children.
  10. Hearing a person's voice is often very comforting, particularly when it's the voice of a family member. It helps reduce anxiety levels and provide a soothing effect. Children encounter quite a few challenges throughout the day just like us grown-ups. You will probably find making the effort to read to your children don't just decrease their stress level but your own, too.

You need to establish reading to your children as an important part of your normal day-to-day routine and also incorporate spontaneous opportunities as well. Not only can these instances of reading to your children bring you closer to them emotionally, but they will also supply long lasting memories. Not to mention that by reading to your children you are also supplying them with certain advantages in their ability to learn and grow intellectually which will influence the direction of their whole life.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

*Real* Advice for the New Mom

I'm sure all of the mothers reading this can attest to the fact that when you become a new mom, you quickly become bombarded with stories, advice, old wives' tales, and other pearls of wisdom from everyone under the sun. You don't even have to ask most of the time; other mothers, fathers, and people who don't even have kids seem to fill your head with ideas of what you must start doing immediately if you want to have a chance at successfully raising a baby. After all, it worked for them, right? Questionable, considering the offspring of some of the people whom you encounter. ;) I, unfortunately, was not exempt from this new mother phenomenon.

Perhaps new moms would be able to better handle all of the unsoliticted advice (whoops, did I just write that?) if we were sleeping properly, eating well, and able to get a break every now and then. Somehow, despite my state of perpetual delirium after giving birth to my oldest son, I managed to write down some pieces of advice that were actually meaningful and/or useful. Most of them were from my own mother. I will always be grateful to my mom for not only sharing such helpful information with me but also for convincing me to write it down. Otherwise I most certainly would not have remembered a darn thing. As it is, looking back on the year 2008, the months of April, May, and June remain a complete blur in my mind.

So, here are some true pearls of wisdom that I have used after having both of my children. Feel free to pass them along to other new moms struggling to come up for air after having their first baby. We all know that the word "difficult" doesn't even begin to do it justice...



1. There is nothing more important than sleep. Get it whenever you can and as much as you can. It doesn't matter that the dishes are piling up, the trash smells, or your husband has to wear the same pants to work two days in a row. You just had a baby for crying out loud! Life has just taken a 180 degree turn and there's no going back. Routines will become established and a new pattern for you and your family will emerge- in time. For now, you need sleep (whenever, however, and wherever) so that you can be the best mother you can be to that precious angel.

2. Although there is no roadmap when it comes to parenting, if you gut tells you it's wrong, listen. If it doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. There is a lot to be said for the "mother's instinct."

3. When the baby is old enough, try to get him/her on a schedule that works for you and try your hardest to stick with it. Not only will it provide stability for the baby, but it will allow you to make plans (around naps and meals of course) and not feel like you're losing touch with the rest of the world. After all, constant chaos and never knowing what comes next isn't healthy for anyone.

4. Be on the same page as your spouse when it comes to practices like co-sleeping, breastfeeding, using a pacifier, wearing your baby, etc. These hot topics can create a lot of sparks in relationships and it's better to smooth everything out before the baby comes.

5. If you decide to co-sleep and breastfeed (both of which I highly recommend), learn to breastfeed lying down. It may take a few weeks to perfect this skill but once you've nailed it, you will be able to successfully nurse without fully waking up! When your baby cries for food, you literally roll over, feed, and go back to sleep. My youngest son is three months old and I can honestly tell you that most nights I don't know how many times he's up to eat because I never fully wake up. He just helps himself and we are both back to sleep before anyone can bat an eye.

6. Borrow (or buy) a video camera and take LOTS of videos! It doesn't matter if your baby is reaching a milestone for the first time or simply sitting there smiling and looking adorable. You will want to watch these videos later- trust me. Your baby is making memories that you will cherish forever and what better way to do so than video.

7. Try to get your baby used to riding in the car as early as possible. Take him/her with you when you run errands even though it would be easier and faster to go alone. These days it's impossible to avoid being in the car and the earlier your baby learns to tolerate or even like riding, the better off the whole family is...especially when it comes to long trips.

8. Try to carve out a few minutes each week to update your baby book. Adding pictures, holiday cards, or other sentimental items will personalize the book even more. I have baby books for both of my sons and I intend on giving the books to them when they're old enough to appreciate them. A lot of time, energy, and love goes into keeping up with a baby book so you want to make sure the time is right when you give it away.

9. Force yourself to get up, showered, dressed, and out of the house as often as you can manage. Look online for local "Mommy and Me" groups and attend. Libraries and hospitals often have meetings for new parents and it makes all the difference to be able to talk to others who are going through the same trials and tribulations as you. I remember joining a La Leche League group that met every Wednesday at 9 AM and even though it was hard getting us both up and out that early, I felt like a new person when I returned from the meeting. Every mom knows that these kinds of meetings and playgroups are often more beneficial for the parents than the children!

10. Don't second-guess yourself when it comes to your baby. You know your baby best. Others may have the best intentions but no one, not your doctor, your mother, your mother-in-law, your best friend, your sister, you neighbor, or your hairdresser (if you even see her anymore) knows exactly what your baby needs better than you. Only YOU have the power to fullfill his/her every need and that, my friends, is pretty damn incredible. :)

Friday, October 15, 2010

"Clean Your Plate" Is Not The Way For Healthy Kids

Healthy Eating Habits Take a Childhood to Learn and a Lifetime to Live

According to the researchers, a deficiency in healthy eating has caused obesity in the U.S. to more than double among pre-school children and young adults and more than triple for kids aged 6-11 during last 30 years. Obese children have a higher risk of health problems such as diabetes and heart disease and often develop other problems into adulthood.

So how can parents help children develop healthy eating habits?

Talk to your children's pediatrician, your family doctor or dietitian to determine the healthiest target weights for every member of the family. From that, make a plan to solve the problem with a better diet and generally healthy eating.

Follow these tips to help you develop healthy eating habits in your family until you can have those conversations with your doctors of choice.

Healthy Eating Tips

  • Eat at least one meal together every day at regular intervals to prevent snacking. It not only is this a healthy eating habit, but a good source of emotional health, too.
  • Prepare healthy meals for the whole family, not just particular foods for overweight children. If your weight-challenged child has to eat food he or she doesn't like, so do you.
  • Never use food as a reward, comfort, or punishment.
  • Watch portions. "Clean the plate" is not the way to go. If that's how you grew up, consider that portion sizes and what we consider appropriate over the years has increased dramatically.
  • Eat slowly. It takes almost 20 minutes to register in the brain that the body is full. If you're eating quickly, you will end up eating too much.
  • Encourage water or skim milk instead of high calorie, sugary drinks. Doing so will also help keep teeth healthy.
  • Convincing a child to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day is not easy, but focusing on the colors can make it fun when they're young (wouldn't recommend this tactic with teens).
  • Use the low-fat or fat free versions of mayonnaise and other dairy products at home as if they were the tasty full-of-fat versions. Your children will take cues. Ask for the same on the side when eating out.
  • Take the stairs. When you go shopping, park farther from the store and walk. If you take a cruise, everything is withing 4-6 flights, most likely; why take the elevator? (We lost weight on our honeymoon with that strategy) This tip may not be directly related to healthy eating, but physical activity is a must to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  • Limit television, video games, and computer time. Less time in front of a screen is more time face-to-face with the world, which is better physically, emotionally, and socially. Again, not directly related to healthy eating habits, but a lesson that, when learned, pays off well.
  • Replace mayonnaise and cheese on burgers or sandwiches with ketchup, mustard, or barbecue sauce.
  • Stick with items that are baked, broiled, steamed, or poached. Avoid fried foods. To make it easier for yourself, convince yourself that the smell of raw meat cooked in oils and fats is disgusting. Shouldn't be that hard if you are committed to healthy eating.
  • Ask for nutrition information at restaurants so you can make healthy eating decisions when eating out, too.
  • Get beyond the children's menu, which is often limited to fried, high-calorie foods that are also high in fat. Instead, split a healthy meal between two or more people.
  • Ask for a takeout container and put away some food before eating.
  • Ask that the bread, drinks, and tortilla chips be served with the meal, not before.
Parents can help their children develop healthy eating habits by first choosing to make healthy changes at home and, second, to teach children what to do without. Healthy eating habits do not happen overnight, but children take cues from their parents and learn good (or bad) behaviors over time.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Name-Brand vs. Store-Brand

Time's are tough these days. That's not the first time you've heard (read) that phrase and it certainly won't be the last. I have yet to meet someone who has not been affected in some way by the dwindling economy whether it be job, school, house, children, marriage, or leisure activity-related. My husband and I are, by choice, living on one income. It means the world to me to be able to stay home with my children. It is not, however, always easy to figure out where and how to cut costs so that we don't dig ourselves even deeper into the black hole known as DEBT.

Before having children, I never considered myself to be a label or brand-name kind of person. I bought clothes that made me feel good and it didn't matter to me that Mr. No Name had designed them. I've never owned a Coach bag, Seven jeans, Manolo Blahnik heels, or anything that would make decent money if I were to sell it on Ebay. In a silly way, I'm actually proud of that fact. There really is some truth in the saying, "More money, more problems." I feel that by living a more simplified lifestyle, I might be able to better appreciate that which is truly important in this world...

After having children, however, I quickly realized that I am, in fact, a label snob when it comes to a certain topic; food. I used to go grocery shopping and throw my favorite foods into the cart without thinking about it. I didn't compare prices, clip coupons, or buy what was on sale. I was working, after all, so I had enough money to spend on food. Now that I am not working and there are more mouths to feed, I have had to rearrange my priorities. I won't lie; at first it was quite painful.

I was convinced that the brands I bought were the ultimate in flavor, taste, texture, and overall quality. How in the world would I be able to settle for anything less? After taking my husband's advice (with minimal kicking and screaming), I have come to find out there are less expensive versions of food and drinks that actually taste good! And they're often on sale! Imagine my excitement when I was able to cut our grocery bill almost in half by buying the store-brand items instead of name-brand items. It was pure bliss. :) I figure when we hit the lottery (or when I go back to work, whichever happens first), we can once again by the pricey, name-brand marketed-around-the-clock by XYZ celebrity products. The question is, however, will I still have a taste for them by then?

Here are some of the items I used to buy but have since switched to the Shop Rite brand:

Jif peanut butter
Welch's grape juice
Mott's applesauce
Betty Crocker cake mix
Barilla pasta
Dole canned fruit
Nabisco crackers
Land 'o Lakes American cheese
Campbell's soup
Quaker oatmeal
Quaker rice cakes
Tropicana orange juice
Eggo waffles
Smuckers grape jelly
Orville Redenbacher popcorn
Hunts ketchup
Kellogg's corn flakes

I encourage you to try it for yourself and see how much money you save. If you find that you MUST stay with a certain brand name on a specific product, see if you can buy the store brand version of something else. Any little bit helps. And if you happen to hit the lottery before we do, maybe you could send me a bucket of Jif. I wouldn't know how to contain myself. ;)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Two Thumbs Up for Junglerrrific!

As a stay-at-home mom, I am constantly searching for new and exciting places to take my kids. I get antsy if I'm stuck at home too long and there are only so many times in a week we can visit the library, Shop Rite, Pet Smart, and Walmart. Most of my friends live over an hour away so visits to see them are limited to a few times a month. A lot of the local play groups seem to meet during my son's naptime, leaving me the option of either bringing him when he's tired and cranky (gotta love being THAT parent), or not going at all and missing out on the opportunity to meet new people. You can guess which option I choose.

So imagine my delight when I stumbled upon Junglerrrific in Howell, NJ. A new place! I'd passed by several times but never noticed this particular play area at the far end of a popular strip mall. It was love at first sight. The owner greeted us warmly at the door. There were cubbies for shoes/coats and a faint smell of bleach in the air. I'm a stickler for cleanliness at these types of play areas because who enjoys having to deal with a sick child following every visit? Junglerrrific has a huge coffee bar/internet area for the parents complete with a massage chair. There are pay-to-ride cars and horses for the kids along with an enormous tube contraption to climb through and hundreds (I'm not exaggerating) of toys that actually WORK when you turn them on! There are also video games, a puppet show area, a separate toddler section with age-appropriate toys, and a birthday party room. Junglerrrific has weekly story time and special holiday events which I'm able to read about via email because I put my name on the owner's list. I already have the information about birthday parties and my son doesn't turn three until April!

We have now been to Junglerrrific many times and my son always smiles from ear to ear when I tell him where we're headed. Every time he leaves, the owner gives him an animal sticker which he wears proudly for the rest of the day. I think the only animal he still needs is the bear and he will have collected the entire jungle set. At four thirty a woman comes in and completely disinfects each and every toy there. I've actually seen her do it. My son has yet to develop a cold after playing at Junglerrrific. The price is very reasonable as well; $6.95 per kid and non-walkers are free.

I'm beyond impressed with this facility. It is extremely obvious that the owner takes great pride in his establishment. I know I sound like I'm trying to market the place or something but in all honesty, it's difficult to find a clean, safe environment in which my children can play and I can relax (a little at least). When I do come across something, I feel it's my duty to pass along the information to all the other parents out there. I wonder if Junglerrrific gives "refer-a-friend" discounts... ;)

In case you're curious- http://www.junglerrrific.com/

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Peter-Pan Syndrome by Proxy

When our oldest son was just 6 months old, about 2 years ago this month, we had him baptized in the Church. We also first introduced solid food the previous week--just some basic cereal. Around that same weekend, we moved him from the co-sleeper attached to our bed into his crib in his own room.

After putting him down in his new sleeping area for the night, Chanel came downstairs in tears, recounts these major developments to me and says, "This is a lot for me!" The little guy was taking it all in stride: didn't cry during baptism, slept well in the new bed, even initially ate pretty well. Mommy, on the other hand, was having difficulty with her little boy growing up. Was I sympathetic? Absolutely. We hugged; I comforted her; we moved on.

At the time I was reminded of Marlin in Finding Nemo, "I'll never let anything happen to you."

Tonight, after realizing that his pacifiers have holes in them from the way he chews them (picture a child version of Hannibal Smith of the A-Team), I showed him the hole and told him how I didn't want to give it to him, that we need to get new ones tomorrow. While Chanel was putting the littler guy to sleep, I managed to move Boy #1 from the bath to the bed without it. I even managed to escape the room before he started calling for it. After a quick return to tell him that I'd come back with it, he settled down and I went to straighten up the living room. In the past, he has fallen asleep after we told him we'd come back for one reason or another.

Chanel came downstairs and we remembered that we wanted to move him to his new big-boy bed. But now we couldn't, even though he was still awake and talking to himself. When she learned he didn't have a pacifier? Oh no, we could not start weaning him this weekend. 

"Peter-Pan Syndrome" is a Pop-Psychology term that describes a man who has not emotionally grown up and socially matured. I'm thinking that "by Proxy" could be appended to define a situation in which a child's growth and maturation process is restricted in some way. I don't mean to suggest that what Chanel does with our children would qualify--not at all. She is protective of our children to an appropriate degree with an occasional funny moment of being uncomfortable at not being able to be as protective as she is inclined to be. I do, however, suspect that there are mothers out there who take the protecting their children mentality to an extreme. 

Coming from an unqualified amateur psychologist, it's quite possible that a similar pathology could exist that parallels Muenchausen Syndrome by Proxy; the people inclined to exert this kind of force on their children will either gravitate to granting them things in the form of problems and illnesses or the form of postponing things like milestones and depriving them access to events and actions that may be considered rights of passage. The case may be able to be made that the latter is often present where the former is observed.

In my limited parenting experience thus far, children are amazingly resilient. They learn things at such incredibly young ages and understand our conversations long before we know they do. They can adjust rapidly to changes like their sleeping arrangements, the style of their eating utensils, their clothes/shoes, etc, if we only talk them through it ahead of time and let them know that a change is going to happen. Perhaps the greatest challenge to parenting is being ready for the changes that your child doesn't tell you are coming. Whether it's walking, dating, or whatever, parents need to be prepared for it with little to no warning. Even if we were given advance notice, I'd wager we wouldn't be as adaptive as our children are when we let them be.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Homeschooling

To homeschool or not to homeschool, that is the question. I've been worrying about this topic a lot lately and my oldest isn't even two and a half! Being a teacher, though, I know how important it is to figure out an educational plan of attack early on. Here's where we stand now:

Public school- the elementary school in town isn't that bad but the middle school and high school are lacking. Things could change drastically in the next ten years but as it stands now, I would rather not send my kids to secondary school in our town.

Private school- Um...$$$$$$. A little out of our reach right now and I don't foresee it being within reach anytime soon.

Catholic school- Again, we're talking quite a bit of money here but not as much as the local private schools. Our church does not have an adjoining school so we'd have to send our kids to St. Greg's or St. Paul's (both 20 min away).

Montessori school- $$$$$$ (Seeing a trend here?)

Homeschool- Can be expensive but there are many ways to decrease the cost. From people I've talked to who've homeschooled, it is as expensive as you make it. Because I am a visual learner and must have everything written out, I decided to make a Pro-Con list about homeschooling. I'm sure I'll be adding to it over time and hopefully it'll help us to make a decision about how to go about educating our children.

HOMESCHOOLING PROS:

1) I'm already a teacher certified K-8 and have connections to resources (curriculum, teachers, other parents who have homeschooled, etc)
2) I'm organized and thrive on routine. Lesson planning and sticking to a schedule are second nature to me
3) My son has a genuine love of learning that could blossom with a 1:1 or 1:2 teacher/student ratio
4) Lessons could be enhanced with field trips that he might not otherwise attend
5) Family traveling would not have to be limited by a traditional school schedule
6) My son would be able to learn about his faith in depth because it would be built into the curriculum
7) He would set the pace (i.e.- if he needs to be challenged or if he's struggling, I could accomodate)
8) More family bonding and closeness from extra time spent together
9) He'd be allowed to participate in the public school's extra-curricular activities so he'd still have the opportunity to socialize

HOMESCHOOLING CONS:

1) The label that sometimes follows homeschooled kids- "weird" or "strange"
2) My son may feel awkward playing sports with kids when he doesn't attend their school (i.e.- may feel "lost" when they start talking about what happened in school that day)
3) He would not be exposed to a variety of teaching styles
4) Would not have the opportunity to ride a bus, have a locker, eat in the cafeteria, etc. Students enjoy these activities.
5) May have difficulty transitioning to a school later on
6) Returning to work (and making money) would be delayed for me

I still have a lot of research to do about homeschooling. It is so different now than it was when I was going through school. Have any of you homeschooled or know someone who has? Any tips/suggestions/nuggets of wisdom you may have would be greatly appreciated. :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"No" Means "No" -- For Adults, Too

We got home from a new-to-us park this afternoon and Chanel and I went into our typical roles: she fed Tiny, I occupied Big. Dinner was still to be made, so after I started it, Chanel relieved me and I strapped Tiny to me via our Snugli and took a walk with him, thus giving Chanel a nice little break.

Tiny and I walked out the back door to avoid direct sun, out to the community playground, and around to a small lake between townhouse units. Even at his young age, Tiny seems to enjoy looking at the ducks and geese that frequent this body of water and I enjoy showing him them.

Unfortunately, for my enjoyment of the experience, there were two guys, either older teens or just legal adults, that were walking around the ledge surrounding the lake...inside the fence with signs that include "No Trespassing." They were on the other side and appeared to be poking around in the water with sticks of some kind.

Hmm.

Further ahead, there was a small family atop the arched bridge spanning this lake. A young boy among them, perhaps 8-12 years old, wanted to cross the fence and walk around by the lake himself. And why not? After all, other people are clearly doing it with no consequence. I was happy to hear, even at my distance, the mother being firm with her son that he was not allowed to cross the fence. Every once in a while you run into one of these parents that don't monitor and control their kids and you just wonder what kind of difficulties just having your own kids around them would cause.

The young boy reluctantly climbed down and returned to what occupied the family. Then I approached close enough to see what it was that everyone seemed so intent on.

Carrying a baby in a Snugli is a pretty cute sight and I, as the father doing it, always get comments and looks at how adorable he/we are. On queue, the coos and sighs came at me as I passed one of those "No Trespassing" signs on the fence connected to the handrail at the base of the bridge. Those signs are actually multi-message, where the "No" applies to trespassing, littering, swimming, fishing, or feeding the water foul.

So there I am, climbing the arch when the (I think) grandmother said, "He's so cute." Sometimes, it's difficult to hold my tongue, and I responded, "Yeah, and the picture of you guys casting out off the bridge right next to that sign there that says not to is pretty good to." I wanted to embellish and say how I was tempted to snap a picture with my phone to capture the moment and upload it to Facebook so all my friends could comment, or upload it to one of those stupid-people photo sharing sites, but seeing their bright, smiling faces turn into scorn told me my message was received well enough.

The mother was most distressed at my comment to them as I passed and started talking at me, thanking me for my concern, etc. The grandfather, chewing on a fat cigar, turns around and says, "We saw it. We saw the sign."

"I knew you did."

Then he asks, "You have a problem with it?"

I turned around. "Yes...I do. Your disrespect for rules makes it more difficult for every other parent of kids that see you to teach their kids to follow the rules. But I'm sure you guys are special somehow, so you go ahead with your fun." I turned back around and went on my way as they mumbled amongst themselves, I'm sure about how exactly they are special and that I had some nerve to talk to them like that.

Through this point, I didn't really know why I didn't like this situation. It wasn't until I returned home to Chanel and relayed the story to her. Her first question: "Why do you always look to start things with people?"

Then it hit me: that right there is a large part of the problem. It's never the rule breakers that are "starting" things; it's the people who call the miscreants out on their deeds. That mentality is wrong. If we as parents are going to help change this world in a positive way, we need to start looking at it from a different perspective. Those who point out bad behavior do not create the behavior and therefore do not "start" it. Anyone concerned about the society and world their kids are going to grow into should immediately begin to embrace this mentality of asking people to do the right thing.

If a sign says not to do something, don't do it. If you say you will do something, do it. Hold yourself and those around you to a higher standard. Some would say that this is idealistic and perhaps it is, that we cannot expect everyone to simply start obeying laws and rules. I don't know who said it, but ideals are not what we hope to achieve; they are the stars in the sky by which we plot our course through life.

It's clear, though, that letting someone slide on something small means that someone who's offense is just slightly more severe has a case for lessened consequences, whatever they may be. Over time, we shift what we would consider acceptable behavior to slowly include ignoring the various parts of the signs. First, people feed the ducks. If were not going to enforce that part of sign, why can't someone fish? Trespass? Litter? Swim? Slippery slope? Hogwash. A slope doesn't need to be slippery for something to roll down and a certain expression about something rolling downhill comes to mind.

I challenge you, having read this rather long post to completion, to commit yourself to the higher moral ground. Make every attempt to be a good citizen you can and alert people when they slip. At the same time, do not be defensive if someone points out that you have room to improve; we all do. I ask you to spread the word of this notion to others you think will feel the same way, that this may empower them and inspire them to action. Share this post on Facebook, post it on Twitter, email it out to friends. Do what you can and let's show how we are not the one starting trouble, we're the ones stopping it.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Time Management and Family Life

I currently work in an office environment and am therefore familiar with the topic of time management. The management team is always attempting to increase the productivity of all the employees. Doing so make sense, after all, since any increase in productivity should equate to increased revenues while reducing the expense of hiring additional people. I do my part and make my contributions where I can and consider myself fairly effective at managing my time at work.

When I get home, however, time management often takes a back seat. It seems employees are so structured and conditioned throughout the day by their jobs to meet deadlines and have little to no downtime, that when we walk through our home's front door, we leave the skills of managing our time outside like a pair of muddy shoes. What I want to do when I get home is relax and unwind. Dinner would be on the agenda...if there were one.

No doubt, time management in a household is as difficult as for an entire office in many cases. Young children require attention via diaper changes and baths, slightly older ones need a different kind of engaging interaction with adults, still older kids start to have extra-curricular activities which call for transportation to and from events--all of which deprive parents of the time that they need to do basic things like pay bills, clean the house, do the laundry, etc. Where then is time found for recreational activity like watching a video rental, or connecting with people on Facebook?

Enter: my wife.

Left to my own devices, the kids would have at least a rough schedule (I'm pretty sure), but Chanel has household time management down to a science. While there are the evenings and days (which I only hear about through text) where the kids don't conform to the schedule, she has about a 50% chance of having time in the middle of the day for herself while kids nap and we just about always have our evenings after 7:30 pm. Did I mention our youngest at this time is only 7 weeks?

How was this accomplished? I'm sure she'll cover more details in future posts of her own, but for now, I'll just marvel with you at this short list of how we got here:
  1. We didn't use the Ferber Method. There is actually evidence available that ferberization is detrimental the baby's health. Don't let your baby "cry it out." What's he supposed to be crying out, anyway? He wants love and doesn't understand why it should be withheld. The No-Cry Sleep Solution was the bible around our house for a few weeks for each child. 
  2. We co-slept for a time with our oldest and still do with our youngest. Babies generally like being close to their parents as it provides them with some measure of security. When the baby gets too big to share the bed, move him to a cosleeper attached to the bed. When they outgrow that, transfer them to the crib. Our oldest now is in his crib still, but we're about to move him into his big-boy bed and our youngest is about to be moved to the co-sleeper.
  3. Chanel got to know the kids' sleep schedules and worked within the framework they provided. Chanel was able to predict exactly, almost to the minute, when we would start to see signs of a meltdown in the evening based on what time a nap ended. Not doing this is a cardinal sin for managing your time. What ends up happening when this is overlooked is that when you're out at a restaurant or a store and the kids are tired, their options are to tantrum and make a scene or nap in a chair which probably will drive you crazy as they stay awake too late into the night as a result. 
  4. A big part of our success at achieving and maintaining a schedule has been that we strive not to deviate from it. We made the decision long ago that keeping them on a schedule was more important to us than a too-late dinner with friends that would cause disruptions in the schedule for several days afterward. 
Granted, not everyone can make the decisions necessary to duplicate what we've done and there may be other personal factors to consider when employing any of these methods. What I can tell you is that these methods have worked wonders for us and while I would have done it a totally different way, I'm glad Chanel was there instead. Good luck with your own efforts and if you ever have questions, feel free to ask...her. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Toddlers and Church

It may sound silly but I consider the fact that our toddler is well-behaved in church to be one of our greatest accomplishments as parents. While I'm aware this may not always be the case, I vow to enjoy it now and pray that our son will always view attending mass in a positive light.

Great behavior did NOT happen overnight and it certainly wasn't the case when he was an infant. He was born on a Monday and we were in church that following Sunday. It was important to us to continue to attend regularly, even with a newborn. Like most babies, our son slept through mass the first few weeks. I remember glancing at my husband and mouthing, "Wow, this is perfect. It's so easy!" I ended up eating my words the following week after his ear -piercing screams shook the rafters and we bolted to the cry room. The problem with the cry room is that it's synonymous to detention. There's a reason certain kids are in the cry room just like there's a reason they're in detention. And you don't want your kids picking up the habits from kids in either location. So...what to do? We couldn't have our son crying and disturbing everyone who had come to mass to peacefully worship. It was our hope to instill in him a love of God and a desire to participate in mass with our parish community. We didn't want to leave him home with a babysitter while we attended church because how would he grow to WANT to be there if he was never there? And what is the "right" age for children to start attending mass anyway?

I brought all of these questions and more to several of my friends (both in person and online) who had been in a similar predicament. I discovered that there seemed to be two schools of thought:

A) Don't bring your children to mass until they are old enough to listen, obey, and respect. (Hmmm...so 25?) ;)

B) Tough it out through the tears and the tantrums and eventually things will settle down. (Ok...that could be a long road)

Not feeling satisfied with either of those options, we decided to experiment with different strategies each week until we found something that worked for us. We were in it for the long haul but secretly hoped it wouldn't be very long.

The good news is that we found a few tricks that worked then and continue to work now. Hopefully you can benefit from a few of these with your children or pass them along to other couples struggling with toddlers in church.

Yes, I love lists.

1) Pack a few different snacks in a spill-proof snack cup. Our son enjoys dry cereal, graham crackers, goldfish, pretzels, and Gerber Graduate puffs. While not the healthiest, these snacks are easy to eat and do not make a mess should he figure out how to spill a few through the flaps.

2) Pack a small, blank, inexpensive photo album and a few pages of stickers. Our son gets a kick out of peeling the stickers off and sticking them on different pages. If he changes his mind about a particular sticker's location, he can remove it from the album and place it somewhere else. This is why I recommend a photo album and not a piece of paper. It's a huge deal for our son to go to the dollar store and pick out his own stickers. :)

3) Pack a few "just for church" books that your child doesn't read any other time. This way they stay new and exciting.

4) Pack a few foam or soft rubber cars or trucks that won't make noise when your child inevitably drops them during the most quiet parts of the mass.

5) Plan to attend the mass that fits best with your child's schedule, even if it's not the one you would choose first. When we attended the 10:30 mass, our son would have a meltdown about a half an hour into it. When we switched to the 9:00 mass, his behavior sky-rocketed and a more peaceful experience was had by all.

6) Take advantage of the children's liturgy if your church offers one. Go with your child and encourage him/her to participate in the lesson. Our church offers what they call "King's Kids" once a month for children ages 4-8. Even though our son is 2, they let us bring him as long as one of us accompanies him. He may not understand the ins and outs of each lesson but it give him a break in routine and allows him to witness children raising their hands, answering questions, etc.

7) Sit in the first pew. No, really, I mean it. The first pew. Even if you arrive late, it'll be empty. Our son loves to watch what goes on and we've found that if he's forced to sit in the back for whatever reason (front pews are reserved for a baptism, for example), his behavior is much worse. Nothing like having to stare at the backs of peoples' heads (or butts, for him).

8) Talk about what will happen in church on the car ride there and what happened on the car ride home. Ask your toddler questions. See how much he/she understands. Our son has a children's picture Bible and we point out various aspect of the mass in the Bible as it is happening in front of him. He really likes to follow along.

9) Pack your child's comfort item and don't be embarassed by it. Our son still uses a pacifier at bedtime but we allow him to have it in church if needed. He also takes his special blanket. Nothing calms him down like the paci-blanket combo. It'll be shame when we have to wean him... ;)

10) Try to involve your child in the mass as much as possible. We let our son put the money in the collection basket and hand it to the person next to us. Let your church know you're available to bring up the gifts as a family. If you're a lector, cantor, or eucharistic minister, all the better. Your child will learn from your example and want to be involved like you. :)

Best of luck with your toddler on Sunday!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Bath Time Bloopers

Our oldest enjoys bath time. He just about always has. Occasionally (meaning pretty much always), there's something about the experience to tell.

Getting him to want to go upstairs and leave his toys behind is the first challenge, but easily achieved with a threat that "Daddy's going to win!" He'll drop whatever he's doing at that moment to barrel past me and scramble up the stairs just ahead of me. A competitive spirit he will not lack.

I sit on the edge of the tub and start to draw the bath while he occupies himself, usually with climbing on the toilet or dropping bath toys into the tub as the suds level climbs. "Arms up! Pants down!" The diaper comes off and he's plopped onto the Lightning McQueen toilet training seat for a pre-bath pee.

After lifting him into the tub, there are a few ground rules:

  1. No pouring water onto the edge of the tub (where I keep a towel, just in case) or outside the tub.
  2. No splashing Daddy's clothes wet.
  3. No drinking bath water.
Other than that, it's free play! What ends up happening is the towel gets just a little wet as he pushes his limit, Daddy's arm gets water poured on it as he gleefully tells me that he's getting my arm wet ("Not Daddy's clothes wet"), and he slurps water off any surface of the bath toys that he can.

Ah, to be 2 again.

What was memorable about tonight came after all the bubbles had popped and he was on the potty for the post-bath pee. I had the towel (a different one from the small one that sits on the edge of the tub for the duration of the bath) wrapped around him to dry him off. We always remind him to "poke it down" past the splash guard, but when his vision is blocked by the towel, it's difficult to fault him when a stream shoots through the parting of the towel and leaves a streak on my shirt.

Then we had our conversation while getting dressed:
"Doggy pants!"
"Yes, you have dogs on your pajama pants."
"I could be a dog for Halloween."
"That's a great idea; you could be a dog for Halloween! You can have ears and a tail..." He loves pointing out tails on other animals and we've been trying to figure out what he should be...this could be perfect!
"But I already have ears."
"Yes, you already have ears, but I meant you could have floppy ears like a dog. And you'd have a tail! Doesn't that sound good?"
"No."

He's definitely my son.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

1-800-TOO BUSY

Several people have complained that I've been pretty unreachable by phone for quite some time now. B.C. (before children) I had the phone practically glued to my ear so the complaints are certainly valid. Although I miss spending hours upon hours catching up with friends and family, life just doesn't allow it anymore. Specifically, my kids don't allow it. Things are very different now and my two year old and seven week old won't just quietly hang out while I chat on the phone. I know, I can't believe it either. ;) So, I have one word of advice for anyone looking to get in touch with me: TEXT. Here's why:

-I can text you while cooking dinner and you won't have to listen to me scream because I tripped over a cat/toy/book/kid for the tenth time in three minutes.

-I can text you while watching TV and you won't know that you don't have my full attention. Wait a minute...when do I get to watch TV?? Hmmm....

-I can text you while putting on makeup or brushing my teeth and you won't have to deal with the lovely sounds of speakerphone in a small, cramped bathroom.

-I can text you while in the car (as a passenger, of course) ;) and you won't have to deal with trying to hear me over my son's carseat toy that plays music in increments of 20, 40, or 60 minutes with no accessible off switch.

-I can text you while nursing the baby because although I love the sound of him happily consuming his meal, I realize you may not feel the same way.

-I can text you while pushing my boys in the stroller and you won't have to deal with not being able to hear me as the wind blasts through the phone.

-I can text you when I have a sleeping baby on my lap and you won't have to hear me whine about how our conversation (i.e.- my loud voice) woke him up and now I have to cut you short.

-I can text you while in line at the grocery store and you won't have to listen to my explanation to my son about why he can't have the Snickers/Kit Kat/gum/mints that he so sneakily grabbed off the shelf and threw onto the belt.

-I can text you when I'm in the bathroom and ...wait...don't try to tell me you've never done it!!

-I can text you when I'm half asleep and you'll never know the difference.

So please, pick up that phone and text me. I promise I won't fill you in on what else I'm doing at the time... ;)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

When Do You Tell Kids About September 11?

On this, the 9th anniversary of the terror attacks on 9/11/01, my 2 year 5 month old son was rather captivated by the review of the events on television. While I am aware that he doesn't really understand anything beyond the pictures he saw, it was difficult for me to see him watch.

This boy is, as I think most his age are, fascinated by airplanes, police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances. On top of that, a favorite video to watch at Grammy's house is one of demolition crews destroying tall buildings.  The images chosen for this morning's broadcast were right up his alley.

So there we were: I was watching the news while he played with his Cars movie cars. Suddenly our attention was glued to the television. He even pulled his step-stool over in front of the screen to sit on and watch, which he doesn't even do to watch Cars! I offered my commentary but he was more vocal: "Airplane crashed." "Fire truck!" "Building fall down!"

In such a manner can only a child summarize those hours.

No, he didn't show happiness at the destruction of the Twin Towers; his were simply statements of fact to show me he knew what he was seeing.

All I could do was choke back my own emotions as I watched him see this tragedy for the first time. Some parents might have turned the channel, but I decided he wouldn't remember this next year as he's still a little young (and with Mommy upstairs, my decision actually stood!). Next year, however, will be the 10 year anniversary with, I'm sure, special commemoration events throughout the weekend. He will also have reached an age at which he might not understand much more, but at the very least he will remember seeing it if we allow him to watch.

Will watching the attack play out be any more traumatizing to young children than being told to "duck and cover" for decades on end through the Cold War? At what point can a child be expected to be able to understand what happened when scores of thousands of adults cannot grasp why it happened? The American Academy of Childhood & Adolescent Psychiatry advises that "parents, teachers, and caring adults can help by listening and responding in an honest, consistent, and supportive manner."

If left to my own devices, I would not prevent my children from seeing the events of that day. When he starts asking questions about it all, for better or worse, I intend to answer his questions honestly without hiding any of the controversies that rage about the causes and motivations behind the terrorists that attacked us. Children are far more resilient than we credit them to be.

But I'm not left to my own devices but rarely, so it will be interesting to see when we expose our kids to this and other world issues. Leave a comment with how old your kids are and when you plan/did tell them. What did you tell them?