The milestones seem to come and go so quickly. There’s the weaning off of bottles. The “disappearance” of the pacifier. Getting rid of dirty diapers … for good! And then there is …
THE TODDLER BED.
For two hours last weekend, I converted my son’s crib, Transformer-style, into a toddler bed. My son was ecstatic. I was relieved. “A big boy bed!”
I dutifully padded the floor around it, just in case of an accidental roll-out. I tucked him in for a nap and he did great. No major injuries, no crying fits. Then came the real test … sleeping through the night. I put him to bed, woke up the next morning and my first thought was “Wow! That worked! How easy is this!”
Not so fast.
There they were. Two little feet nestled next to my head. My son sound asleep next to me. A middle-of-the-night escape.
OK, I thought … so maybe it would take a night or two for him to get used to his bed. Maybe he got scared. Maybe there’s dinosaurs in his closet. But now it’s Friday. And I’m still waking up every morning to a visitor in my bed.
Now, I’ve seen all the nanny shows on TV. I’ve seen parents repeatedly put their kids back into their own beds, where they belong. But what do you do when they sneak out of their bed every night and you don’t know until you have a knee in your rib or an arm draped over your head the next morning?
If you have any ideas, short of deadbolting his door shut, please let me know!
-Erica Smith, Copy Editor
A couple of weeks ago, I described instances where my son can be a little more outgoing than I would like or feel comfortable with.
He has tried to tone it down for me a bit since then … even reminding me, “Mommy, remember don’t say hi.”
But Shari, a Hiccups reader, offered me some perspective on it. Her daughter, Penelope, was also a chatty one growing up. She tried methods I’m pretty familiar with … no eye contact, directing my responses only my child, trying to hurry in stores. Not only because she didn’t feel like talking (much like me) but also for her daughter’s safety.
Growing up, Penelope continued to be social, meeting interesting people and being able to share interesting stories.
Her advice: Watch my son closely, but allow him the joy of being friendly. She said he’ll go far in life with an outgoing personality.
Thank you, Shari. I sincerely hope I’m not stifling my little boy. Maybe I just need to relax a little and be more willing to sacrifice my own quiet time to let him be himself.
-Erica Smith, Copy Editor
My son has a somewhat cute, however slightly annoying (yes, annoying) habit of saying “Hi!” to every single person he sees. Not only does everyone get a big greeting and smile, but they also get a rundown of what his shark eats and what kind of growl his dinosaur makes. While you may be saying to yourself “awwww, how cute!” let me tell you how it’s not exactly the cutest.
Let’s take, for instance, the mall. Nothing lures a pushy salesperson like a friendly toddler. If they ooh and ahh and interact with your child for any extended amount of time, you automatically feel obligated to buy something.
How about wanting some quiet time out shopping? It seems like everytime he says hi to someone, it starts a conversation between me and the other person. Sometimes I just don’t feel chatty. Actually, most of the time I’m out running errands or shopping, I don’t feel particularly chatty.
And then there’s the leery guy lurking around … you know the one. My boy always gives them the big “Hi!” and I suddenly feel uneasy. And I can’t help but think if this is how predators lure away little kids – kids who unknowingly give them the OK.
So what am I do to? I hate trying to inhibit my little boy’s personality but in this day and age, you have to be prudent. So I told him plainly to please stop saying hi to everyone. I thought that worked until he told the lady at the shoe counter, and then everyone else, “Please don’t say hi to me.”
How do you combat stranger danger? Let me know by commenting here or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
-Erica Smith, Copy Editor
We have an ongoing struggle in our home almost every night at about 6:10 p.m.
What’s for supper?
Whether you call it supper, dinner or whatever, what it means in my house most of the time is, “What is Mom going to fix tonight?”
My husband doesn’t cook, so thankfully he’ll throw out the idea of takeout, which I gladly latch onto if I’ve had a particularly tiring day.
With two parents working outside the home, it’s difficult to get a balanced meal on the table when my children are hungry.
My mom used to suggest I cook on the weekends and then freeze the food. Yes. That would be a good idea, but, so far, I haven’t successfully done this.
Then, there is the crockpot moms who always have a meal waiting for them when they get home. Yes. That’s a good idea, too.
This week, we have had chicken Dorito casserole (I made), Sonic burgers and lasagna/broccoli/bread (I defrosted and shoved it in the oven).
This morning, I washed strawberries, blueberries and blackberries, placed them in a tray and stuck those in the refrigerator for after-school snacking.
I don’t think this is a bad run for the week, but I still labor over this. I have no idea what we will eat tonight.
If it were just me, I’d probably eat cereal.
Do any of you struggle with evening meals? Or have you overcome the last-minute rush?
Share your ideas (and recipes!) that have fed your successful meal planning.
So my 3-year-old son has been getting in a bit of trouble at day care lately … for saying (gasp!) a four-letter word …
Yep, heck. Now at first, I thought maybe he shouldn’t be saying it so I didn’t really respond when his teacher told me (well, spelled out) what he had said and how she handled it (she put him in timeout).
But over the weekend, as we watched the kids’ movies Madagascar and Cars, I realized that they say “heck” in those movies (both of which they’ve actually watched at day care).
So what do you think? Do you think his teachers are overreacting or do you think “heck” should be considered a bad word?
Comment here or email me your thoughts.
~Erica Smith, Copy Editor
At what age should my daughter be allowed to become a mallrat or venture out on her own?
This week, Katie, my 14-year-old, asked if she and a friend could be dropped at the mall on a Friday evening to see a movie. This is not the first time this discussion has occurred at our house. And, once before, my husband did let her see a movie with friends without supervision, but it was during the day.
The first time I let Katie even walk the mall alone with friends was at her 14th birthday party. But I stayed and pushed her little brother around in a stroller while they “did their own thing.”
Skenazy encourages parents to let their children roam and experience new things by themselves, empowering them to be individuals and not live in fear.
I admit this is just the opposite of how I continue to raise my children. I know I’m “too” protective by some standards. Yes. I used to roam all over our 200-acre farm when I was younger. I would go fishing and exploring by myself. And, although it wasn’t my choice, at 14 years old I walked the streets of Washington, D.C., when I was separated from my Close Up tour group. The next day, about five of us (without adults) rode the subway and toured our nation’s well-known monuments and museums.
I loved the experience.
So, why do I try so hard to shelter my children from their own adventures?
I live in fear of ”what if.” I read the newspaper. I watch the news shows. And I’m appalled and scared by what might could happen.
Is there maybe a happy medium? But what would that be?
Share with me your stories of letting your children experience independence. Do you let them walk alone to school, the grocery store or snowcone shack? What are your limits on your children’s independence?
– Linda Lynn
This week is Playground Safety Week (April 19-25). It celebrates the 28th anniversary of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s “Handbook for Public Playground Safety” – a document many states use as the basis for the playground safety laws.
The Safe Kids Coalition (which has a chapter in Oklahoma) gives these reminders about keeping kids safe on playground equipment:
1. Make sure the equipment is inspected frequently and kept in good repair.
2. Be sure surfacing beneath equipment is safe. The ground should be covered 12 inches deep with energy-absorbing material (rubber, sand, wood chips) and not grass or soil.
3. Don’t let kids wear helmets, necklaces, purses or clothing that has drawstrings around the neck, such as hoodies.
4. Don’t allow kids to engage in or play near, those who are pushing, shoving or crowding around the equipment.
5. Keep toddlers younger than age 5 in a separate play area, away from equipment designed for bigger kids.
6. Above all, keep your children in sight and within reach at all times. Give them your undivided attention when they’re playing on or near playground equipment.
Playgrounds are meant to be an enjoyable, fun time for children. Let’s keep them safe.
-Erica Smith, Copy Editor
As some of you read in Friday’s The Oklahoman, I pleaded with readers to give me advice on how to potty-train a stubborn almost-3-year-old boy. I received many responses – some from moms, dads and even grandparents. I even had a few offer to train him for me. As tempting as that was, I thought it was probably best I tackle it myself.
Here are some good ideas I received from readers:
1. Cheerios. This was an overwhelmingly popular method. Teach the little guy to “aim” and sink the round O’s and it’s almost as fun as Duck Hunt and Battleship.
2. Rewards. Gumball machines, dollar store toys, getting to go with adults on errands because they’re “big kids,” and countless others. Most parents are big on using positive reinforcement – lots of reassurance, compliments and even dancing. Yes, dancing.
3. Timers. Set it for every 20 or 3o minutes minutes and have them sit on the potty. Eventually they’ll get conditioned to go as soon as they hear the timer go off.
4. “Naked and $75.” Let him go around the house without a diaper for a few days to get him to want to use the potty. The $75 is to have your carpets cleaned when he’s done. A few parents really endorsed the “naked” method and putting a portable potty in rooms where the kids are most comfortable (living room, play room, etc.) and maybe using lots of juice to help things move along.
5. Just wait. I got some helpful feedback from parents who were concerned that I was maybe sending the wrong signal to my son by making him use the potty. They suggested waiting until he was ready in his own time and finding a day care who accepted that. One parent said this is his decision, one of the few a toddler has. Another said parents who haven’t had success potty-training their kids shouldn’t feel like failures, that patience is key.
Well, I have big news for my fellow parents. My son is now potty-trained! What seemed like an impossibility Friday afternoon is now a very real accomplishment for my little man. I was all set to get a huge box of Cheerios and kitchen timer after work when my son had a bad “accident” in a public place and I had to rush home with him. We got home, I sat him on the potty once more, gave him some juice and waited for a miracle. It happened. Not just once, but all weekend. I have never been so happy to be woken up at 6:30 a.m. by my son who wants to go potty and stayed dry all night. I never thought this day would come. No more Pull-Ups, no more diapers. What a change.
So I thank our readers for their wonderful responses and ideas. In the end, my son did it in his own time and on his own terms … although the two glassfuls of juice did help him find his own time a bit quicker. It just happened to be the same day as my very public plea (but maybe he planned it that way all along).
I’m at my wit’s end. I am here to solicit advice from anyone and everyone who has had to potty-train a toddler.
My son is near impossible to potty train. I thought I could just back off for a while and he’d get it eventually but his day care center is closing the end of June and for me to place him in a new day care’s 3-year-old class, he needs to be able to use the potty.
Here is what I’ve already tried:
1. Briberies. I’m talking candy, chocolate, cupcakes, Hot Wheels cars and stickers.
2. Big boy pants. He’ll go to the bathroom in them and still want to keep them on. It’s disastrous. Pull-ups don’t help either. He treats them like diapers, even the cold-alert kind.
3. Sitting him on the potty for extended periods of time, hoping he’ll have to go eventually. He’s sat on there for an hour and finally when I take him off, he goes right on the floor.
4. Trying all kinds of ‘equipment.‘ We have the Sesame Street potty seat. The SpongeBob stepstool. The potty chart. We have it all.
5. Making sure he knows all his friends use the potty. He knows, sees them go, and doesn’t care in the least.
6. Giving him things to do on the potty. He’s had books, toys, made a racetrack around the potty rim, had me sit and sing ‘Wheels on the Bus’ on end, played the guitar and eventually unraveled a brand new roll of toilet paper and put it all in the toilet. That was fun to clean up.
What else can I do?
-Erica Smith, Copy Editor
How do you know when to say no and when to say yes?I wish I had a crystal ball when it comes to answering my children’s questions. After three kids, you would think I could make decisions in seconds.
Instead, I labor over whether I should let them spend the night at a friend’s house, go shopping without me, or attend a concert or some other freedom-enhancing activity.
If the girls ask me if they can have ice cream or my son says, “O-Gurt,” because he wants a second helping of yogurt, those are pretty easy decisions – not life-changing. If it’s the wrong answer … well, there really is no wrong answer to these questions.
But, when my 14-year-old asked me this week if she could attend a concert with a friend, this was a big deal to me. And, while I don’t want to ”ruin her life” or be ”too overbearing,” it’s my job to protect her. God gave me that job, and I take it seriously.
My first response to her when she couldn’t tell me where the concert was planned, was “no.” Well, that didn’t go over too well. She was obviously not happy and expressed that unpleasantness quite well.
Not expecting her reaction, I thought I would dig some more. Yea! I at least found out the name of the group. Progress.
When met with more defensiveness, I said no again.
You would have thought I would have stopped there, but something told me she really wanted to go to this event.
Then, I went to the Internet, searched the location of the concert (Yes! There really was a concert at a well-established venue), looked into our newspaper’s archives for stories written about the event (Yes! More information – and written by a friend!!!), and then I talked to the reporter the next day and was assured this was going to be a really exciting concert event that would be good for my daughter.
Finally, I spoke to my daughter’s friend’s mother who assured me she would be attending with the girls.
Then, my answer was “yes.”
Whew! …. Making decisions on candy and “O-Gurt” are a lot less stressful!
– Linda Lynn