Thursday, August 22, 2013

Watch your language!

Welcome to the Peaceful Parenting Challenge Blog Carnival: Week #7-Watch Your Language
This post was written for inclusion in the 10 Week Peaceful Parenting Challenge Blog Carnival hosted by Prenatal to Parenting. This week our participants have written about using positive language with others. We hope you enjoy this week’s posts and consider joining us next week when we share about a week of unplugging.

It is a well known fact that if you change your language from negative to a positive it has more impact than if you say it negatively.  Negative language can cause defensiveness in the person you are speaking to and this communication can be halted quite quickly because of it.

This week's focus was on positive language, I recognize that my communication with my teenager can be quite difficult because his negative manner of speaking affects me and my responses which causes defensiveness in him and we get into a place where neither of us are listening to each other.  I find our relationship building opportunities are quite limited because he, much like his mother was at his age, spends alot of time with his friends rather than being at home.  When he is at home, he can often be heard saying, "its so boring here" or, "there's nothing to do in this house" and the like.   Usually these comments make me say things like, "Life is what you make it!" or "You wouldn't have liked where I grew up!".  This week I tried really hard to have positive conversations with my teen that did not turn into bickering back and forth.  David is my first child and as you know it was just he and I for alot of years before Clayton and then Hunter came into our lives.  I always say that David and I grew up together, I am only 18 years older than him, some people's siblings are only 18 years older or younger than them and we often get mistaken for brother and sister (it doesn't help he is way taller than me).  We are alike in many ways and I love him more than he will ever know but there are many times that I don't like what he says or how he says things and this causes me to say things that he doesn't like... so who needs to change their language?  Me of course!  I am the parent.

Teenage brains are weird, as I have talked about in an earlier post; adolescent brains are immature in the decision making and logic department which cause many decisions to be made based on impulse and emotions.  I continuously have to remind myself this when interacting with him and not freak out when he is telling me about something he has done that is less than appropriate.  Let's not forget he is also a boy... boys tend to not think about consequences at all before they act.  So, I try my hardest not to get angry with him, instead appreciating the fact that he is honest, open and shares everything with me when either he wants to because he thinks its funny or I ask him what he's been up to.  One area of contension is when he fails to check in with me when he is out.  Usually if it has been a while, I immediately get upset and send him a "where the heck are you?" or "if your not going to check in, get your ass home now!" message to which he always responds with "Sorry, I am with so and so".  I feel sorry is tossed around too much, you aren't really sorry if you do it over and over again, so I will carry on to say "Don't tell me you are sorry, show me you are sorry by not doing it again!"  This week, I tried something different... when he failed to check in, I sent him a text and said, "How are you doing?" and when he answered I told him it was great to hear from him and I get scared and upset when he hasn't checked in for a while because I worry that he is hurt or lost.  I tried to have him understand why I get angry, instead of just getting angry.  Guess what, he has been checking in more regularly these days.  Just one easy positive step can make changes for the better!  When Mama bear is not angry, David bear is not angry and everyone gets along. 

I feel that I could definitely benefit from watching my language, especially around my teen, but also with my entire family.  I will continue to work on changing the way to communicate with my family.

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
Tips for making the Positive Comments outweigh the negative in your child’s day -Sarah from Prenatal to Parentingshares a startling stat and asks for your help in changing the numbers.
How to talk to your kids – Amy from The Connection We Sharediscovers the power of using positive language with your kids.
Watch Your Words- Amber from Strocel.comfeels better about her parenting when she’s using more positive language.
The Power of Words - Peaceful Parenting Challenge Week 7 - Katrina from Kalem Photography is trying to figure out positive phrasing for some things she’d like her 2 year old to stop doing.
Week 7 - Watch Your Language!– Amanda from Sticky Handssuggests we start saying out loud things you love and things you want to happen.
Language and Distractions- Peaceful Parenting Challenge: Week 7 -Kathryn from Curiosity and the Kat is a bit distracted.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Positive Transitions

Welcome to the Peaceful Parenting Challenge Blog Carnival: Week #6 – Developing Positive Self-Talk
This post was written for inclusion in the 10 Week Peaceful Parenting Challenge Blog Carnival hosted by Prenatal to Parenting. This week our participants have written about Developing Positive Self-Talk. We hope you enjoy this week’s posts and consider joining us next week when we share about a week of Watching Our Language.

Well this week I returned to work and since I am a child protection social worker who has been off on maternity leave for 14 months, I definitely needed more positive self talk, which is what this week's challenge was about.  You know that little annoying voice in your head that runs a commentary for everything you do in your life?  The one that is not always positive and can sometimes be negative, bringing you down.  The more you change this commentary to positive, the better things will get.  Try it!  It can be something as simple as looking in the mirror in the morning and instead of thinking about what you hate about yourself, tell yourself how beautiful you are.  Every morning I have woken up early enough to have 15 minutes to sit and listen to some positive affirmations and meditate.  This has definitely supported my transition back to work in a healthy way.

The transition so far has not been as difficult as I had anticipated.  Leaving Hunter at home with Daddy sure makes things easier on me, knowing Hunter is with one of his favorite peeps who has the same parenting style as me makes me worry less about him for sure.  The drive to work has been good, it is still summer traffic so it seems to be better than when September hits and kids go back to school.  I am back to enjoying my morning show on the radio and giggling at the conversations.  I had a couple of boxes of stuff that I had stored over the last 14 months so I was able to get an office, unpack my stuff and make it my own space again; organized and comfortable with soft lighting.  It is important to make your space comfortable, especially since you spend so much time there.  My computer and phone was set up, got a new work cell phone.  Everything has been falling into place, I am taking over another social worker's caseload and she is easing me into it with a couple transfer meetings per day to introduce me to her families.  Things have been going good, I still feel like my knowledge that I accumulated prior to going on a leave is all jumbled up in my head somewhere and has to come out in order for me to do my job to the standard that I hold for myself.  It is not easy work and it requires organization, patience, time management, self care, compassion, empathy, assertiveness and knowledge.  I feel like the first seven skills required are a given and I have them at the ready when needed... it's the knowledge that I know I have but like I said, I am having a hard time bringing it back.  

So, I have been gentle with myself and allowing myself the time needed for it to come back, I cannot expect it to be back the first week I go to work.  Thus, positive self talk has been coming quite in handy this week.  I have done this before, I have done it well and I can do it well again.  I WILL do it well.  I know what I am doing, I have to give it time and it will all come back.

Emotions can cause you think negatively about your parenting skills; I remember when David was young, I was also young and people around me inadvertantly (or at times advertantly) made me feel like I was a bad mom, so I remember constantly feeling guilty because I was a bad mom. My age and maturity level did not allow me to process criticism as a positive thing or the people that criticized me didn't know how to do it positively, either way it was a challenge. Truth is, I was the best mom I knew how to be given the circumstances I was in and other people's judgements are their own.  It took me a long time to learn this important lesson. Some people felt that I should know what to do I guess and I really didn't. I had to learn how to be a mother and for alot of people, this does not come naturally to them so I had to learn that this is ok. Learning positive self talk back then would have helped me take the criticisms better, fight away the guilt and would have supported me in a much better way while I learned how to care for my boy as we grew up together.

Being a full time working mom can be daunting but for me working all day has made me appreciate the shorter amount of time I have with my kids in the evening and want to make sure the time spent with them is quality time. A positive short time with them is better than a long negative time any day.

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

Affirmations– Sarah from Prenatal to Parenting turns anger into Peaceful Parenting Affirmations for herself.
Week #6- developing Positive Self Talk– Jennifer from Children’s Directory says yes every day for a year.
Positive Self Talk – Peaceful Parenting Challenge – Week 6 - Katrina from Kalem Photography has been developing positive self-talk for about 30 years.
Positive Self-Talk – Ricky from Daddy Blogger is feeling more comfortable with this week’s challenge.
Week 6 - Positive Self Talk– Amanda from Sticky Hands practices positive self-talk out loud for the benefit of her most important audience.
Peaceful Parenting: Week 6 - I am NOT an Independent Woman ... and that is okay.-Kathryn from Curiosity and the Kat reminds herself it’s ok to ask for help.
I am a good mother – Michelle from My Peaceful Parenting praises herself when she doesn’t lose it.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Being present can bring great gifts.

Welcome to the Peaceful Parenting Challenge Blog Carnival: Week #5 – Practicing Presence
This post was written for inclusion in the 10 Week Peaceful Parenting Challenge Blog Carnival hosted by Prenatal to Parenting. This week our participants have written about Practicing Presence.. We hope you enjoy this week’s posts and consider joining us next week when we share about a week of Developing Positive Self-Talk.

This week was definitely a challenge, being present in the moment was hard for me as this is my last week at home.  As difficult as it was, I can say on several occasions, I successfully stopped thinking about things that I have to get done and faced my partner or children when they were talking to me or wanting my attention but I still have tons of work to do to be present.

I can remember a few months back when Hunter started to become more aware of his surroundings before he could sit up or roll over, I vowed to put the cell phone away while he was awake.  I had gotten into the habit of browsing the internet or Facebook while breastfeeding when he was super little, this habit has been hard to break.  I also played a lot of scrabble on Facebook every chance I could get to play a word or two.  Then, I read an article about children being fascinated in what we are fascinated in, if our faces are always in our phones or computers, then of course the kids are going to want to see and touch them as well.  I didn't want to be that Mom that was so busy watching her phone or computer that she wasn't seeing the greatness in her kids.  So most of the time, I do leave my phone away from me so I am not constantly looking at it but I still have trouble putting it down if someone has texted me or sent me an email and if I open Facebook, well that is 5 to 10 minutes I will never get back.  All of those can wait, especially when the baby is sitting right here in front of me, talking to me, crawling around, pointing at things, making endless facial expressions, standing on his own, etc.  So many things happen so quickly when they are babies, they learn something new everyday and if I am busy in my own little world, I will miss it.  I missed a lot of things with David when he was little because I was so busy trying to make a life for us as well as maintain a social life, I have great memories of when he was a young boy and things we did together but memories from when he was a baby and a toddler are few and far between.  David is a teenager now and chooses when he wants to talk to me.  Often times is when I am busy with his brother but I will stop what I am doing and make time for him because even though he doesn't care to interact with us as often as he used to, what he has to say is important, and its important I pay attention.

One way that we have always managed to do in my family is to sit down together at dinner time and chat about the day we had, what was good about it and what wasn't so good.  Hunter learned to chew early, way before he had teeth, he would sit in his high chair and watch us talk and eat our dinner.  Babies learn a lot from watching us so its important to role model good behaviors.  Sitting down and connecting with one another in our busy lives is super important to me and Clayton, we both come from families where sitting down to eat a meal together is a necessity and definitely an opportunity to be present with your family.  Another way we connect is taking short walks together, without the cell phone, around the neighborhood, enjoying the sights and saying hello to neighbors.  We have no choice but to be present with each other while we walk.

This challenge has taught me that while we do have regular, daily opportunities to be present... I still have some work to do to be present, stay present and enjoy the little things in life especially now that I am going back to work and my time with my family will be cut quite a bit shorter now.  I promise to work hard, especially in the coming weeks during my transition to work; to meditate, to breathe, to be mindful, to be present, to enjoy the little things and not get caught up on the to do list.  A happy home is not judged by the cleanliness of the inside, the mounds of laundry, the dishes in the kitchen or the mess of the endless yard work outside.  It is judged by the happiness of the people who live there.  So why are we worrying about these things that are never ever finished? Get to it when you get to it.  "If only the people who worry about their liabilities would think about the riches they do possess, they would stop worrying."-Dale Carnegie

If we are present, we can enjoy the gifts presence brings us.

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
Sweet Sleepy Time– Sarah from Prenatal to Parenting realizes that by focusing on all the things that she 'could' be doing she was missing out on what she 'was' doing.
Week 5 Practicing Presence – Jennifer from Children’s Directory finds it’s easier to practice presence when there is no Wi-Fi available.
Being Present – Peaceful Parenting Challenge – Week 5  - Katrina from Kalem Photography learns to listen not only with her ears but also with her heart.
Practicing Presence – Ricky from Daddy Blogger has a wonderful time waiting for the ferry.
Week 5 - Remain present – Amanda from Sticky Hands has got this presence thing nailed.
KICK THE PANTS! - WEEK 5-- LISTEN UP WILL YOU? - Kathryn from Curiosity and the Kat finds it ironic that she’s learned all this before.
Doing One Thing At A Time – Amber from is looking for tips on how to stop multi-tasking.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Mama says good bye to staying at home and checks back into full time social work...

Well as some of you may know, I am going back to work a month early after being off for 14 months, 10 of those months spent with my beautiful baby boy.  So I return to work in a week.  Yikes.  I am sure that many moms go through several emotions about returning to work after spending a year at home with a new baby some of the emotions I have felt have been fear, sadness, anxiety, panic, envy, guilt, excitement and happiness to name a few... I have been rotating through all of these emotions over the last month and then it's been a little more intense when I verbally agreed to go back with my manager.

I am a child protection social worker, and was still very green in my job when I left to have a baby.  I had only been doing it for 16 months and I still felt like I was learning something new everyday.  Someone told me once that it takes about 3 years to feel like you really have it under your belt and yet another person told me that the average "lifespan" of a child protection social worker is 18 months... so while I was nearing the end of the average lifespan when I left, I didn't feel like I was ready to pack it in.  Now, after being off for 14 months I am afraid I won't know how to do my job, I am hoping it comes back to me quickly.  Many things have changed while I was away, people have come and gone, new team leaders, new managers, it will almost be like starting a new job.  

I worry about my little man and how he will adjust but kids always fare better than their parents don't they?  They are so resilient and strong, we could learn a thing or two from children... who just roll with whatever is happening.  I don't think we do our children any favors by protecting them from changes, afterall change is the only for sure thing in life, right?  It's best they get to know change early because if they don't, they won't have the skills needed to deal with it when it does happen.  I feel sad that I will miss things, he changes so quickly and everyday he does something new and I don't want to miss anything... and selfishly, I want to be the first person to witness the new things being his mom and all.  I know this is unrealistic... but it's how I feel.

Once I work through these emotions, which I keep having to do over and over and probably will take some time to get used to being back at work and the transition from being a stay at home mom to full time working mom.  The part that makes me feel good about going back early is that Daddy will be home with him during the days during the most crucial time of transition, the first couple weeks to a month.  Then he will transition to Granny and a friend who will sit for us two days a week.  I think in the long run, he will learn how to adjust quickly and be well rounded because of it.  That's always a good skill to have.

Some things that also help me is to think about; the 20-45 minute drive to and from work by myself to listen to my music as loud as I want, being able to talk to adults for long periods of time without interruptions, taking breaks when I need them, being able to eat... slowly and enjoy it, running errands on my breaks without worrying about packing a diaper bag... haha... seriously?  Who I am kidding, I'm a social worker!  LOL!  Being a social worker can be tough to do any of those things above but taking care of yourself if an important aspect of the job so I do try hard to slow down, take breaks, enjoy the company of my coworkers and get out of the building when needed.  Other important positives that I remind myself of are being able to learn and practice culture and traditions again, supporting others be the best parents they can be, visiting families and all the cute little kiddies and working with community to ensure children are happy and safe :)  I do love my job and I am excited to go back.  The best part will be coming home and seeing my own family and appreciating them for who they are.

I am sure many moms go through all of these emotions when returning to work and work through them in their own way.  I know I will miss being home and life will get a whole lot busier but it will all be worth it I am sure.  Wish me luck!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Slow and Steady wins...

Welcome to the Peaceful Parenting Challenge Blog Carnival: Week #4 – Slow Down
This post was written for inclusion in the 10 Week Peaceful Parenting Challenge Blog Carnival hosted by Prenatal to Parenting. This week our participants have written about Slowing Down. We hope you enjoy this week’s posts and consider joining us next week when we share about a week of Practicing Presence.

Have you ever tried slowing down?  It is difficult to slow down because we have been conditioned by society to hurry up.  Technology has us wanting instant gratification like no other generation has ever wanted it.  It used to be great to have to wait for something, that is where the excitement in life came from... but nowadays you hardly ever have to wait for anything and if you do... it gets frustrating every minute you have to wait!  Imagine... waiting... waiting.... waiting.... waiting... waiting... for this page to load, you would probably close it and open it again trying to get it to load quicker and if that didn't work you would likely just walk away and go do something else while you wait or just not even read it at all... even when you go to the coffee shop or the grocery store you have an expectation that the baristas or check out person is going to be quick... because don't they know you are in a rush to get home and rush some more?  I have found visiting small towns over the years that have a significantly slower rate of production be it the grocery store or coffee shop or Walmart even!  It wasn't until I visited these places that I realized we were all in a rush... and what for?  Why are we rushing through life?  What are we in such a rush for?  To die?  Seriously doesn't that just scare the shit out of you when you really think about it?  I am in a hurry all the time... for nothing.  Time has us locked into some kind of tornado of minutes and hours where we are bound by the tick tock of the clock.

Time to slow down, this week I consciously tried slowing down my day... I would get down on the floor with my baby and enjoy the world minute by painstaking minute, playing with him and seeing the world from his perspective.  It was ridiculously difficult for me to sit and enjoy these small moments in time with him when there is so much to do around the house... but seriously... none of that matters, when he wants my attention, he is what matters.  Twice this week I took my boys out for a car ride, we would just pack up and go for a ride to see what adventures would find us.  On several occasions my boys, 15 years apart but very close in their hearts, were caught enjoying each other's company in David's room.  All of these moments I will never ever get back, what if I had been rushing to do stuff that didn't matter and missed these moments?   Life goes by so fast but maybe we can just slow it down a touch, as difficult as it may be, and just enjoy the little things.  Guess what time did slow down in these moments... the days got a little bit longer.  Maybe life will actually last longer if we can remember to sloooooow down... slow and steady does win afterall ;)

So, let's try to let go of the clock, let go of the hurrying, let go of the rush and see what happens!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
Small Things Often– Sarah from Prenatal to Parenting realizes the small moments are the ones that matter the most.
Stop, Amy Stop. Amy from The Connection We Share accepts her family’s invitation to slow down and finds that life will not be "better" when items get crossed off to-do lists. Life is perfect, right now.
Slow Down- Peaceful Parenting Challenge - Week 4 - Katrina from Kalem Photography calls her week a complete failure.
Slowing Down – Ricky from Daddy Blogger says slowing down doesn’t come naturally.
A Work in Progress  Verena from Memory Maker Events builds in some time for herself.
What really matters- Kathryn from Curiosity and the Kat realizes it is the little things that matter and help to put our life into perspective.
Time to Play- Michelle from My Peaceful Parenting feels like a bit of a cheater.