Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Finding Momtopia has a new home!

I know I've only just started here but I've decided to change homes.  Blogger just doesn't give me the tools I need to build this site the way I'd like.  So, I will be moving my blog over to Wordpress shortly:

Come find me:  http://findingmomtopia.wordpress.com/

Sorry or any confusion this may cause, hope to see you all on the new site.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Anyone know a good exorcist?

Who is this devil-child and what did she do with my little angel?

Our little princess.  Oy!!  What a princess she is.  From day one, she has been that sweet little girl who could melt your heart with her smile and big blue eyes.  She has her daddy wrapped around her fingers - and I hate to admit but at times I get caught in there too.   Being that our first child is a boy, we were accustom to 24/7 typical boy.  Cars, trucks, mud, rocks, running, jumping, super-hero typical boy.  So when our dainty little girl came into our lives, it was almost relaxing in a way.  We would laugh and think “this is so much easier”. 

When her 2nd birthday hit, we did prepare ourselves for The Terrible Two’s, but only based on what we already knew from our first experiences with it.  When I think back to our son, there was definitely an increase in tantrums, he began to get a bit mouthy with us and that dreaded word “NO” echoed throughout our home.  What we didn’t realize was how easy we had it with him, a statement until a week ago I never thought I would say when comparing my two kids. 

Her terrible-two’s have hit like a vengeance.  She is definitely testing all her limits and every ounce of patience I have in my soul.  First it began with the full out tantrums.  I mean throwing herself on the ground, fist pounding, screaming at the top of her lungs tantrums (and WOW that girl can scream!).  Then came the diva-like attitude and the new phrase that now echoes through our house “No Mommy, I do it!” when I try to help her with anything.  So I breathe, tell myself that this is just her asserting her independence and that it’s a good thing.  Hey, at least she wants to try it herself!  So what if it adds an extra 20 minutes to our morning because she needs to get herself ready, I’ll just get up 20 minutes earlier. 

Then came mischief, which you would be surprised to find out is very new to us!  Our son went through a very small stage where he would open cupboard doors just because he could but after a few re-directions, he learned to stay away.  Even with our daughter, as she began to crawl & walk, we never had to really lock anything up, she didn’t seem interested.  I could be doing laundry or taking a quick shower and wouldn’t have to worry at all about my kids were doing.   However, after the events of this past week, Mike and I have a new motto: Hide the Javex.  If it’s within her reach, it is fair game.  If I can’t see her, she is definitely getting into something.  If it’s a door, she can now open it.

It started with her opening a jar of diaper rash cream and rubbing it all over her stuffed animals and dolls while she was supposed to be napping.  Then she escaped from her room one evening and emptied an entire bottle of dog shampoo into the tub.  Another day, she squeezed half a tube of toothpaste onto the carpet.  She has also taken my jewelry box down from the counter in my bathroom and emptied it on the floor, causing me to search frantically for 20 minutes until I finally found my engagement ring that she hid in her room.  This was just in the last week!

Every time we think we’ve put everything out of her reach, she surprises us.  There was a bowl of assorted Valentines candy our son brought home from school.  We had been keeping it on the kitchen table but I decided to move it to the counter so it was definitely out of her reach.  Our cleaver little monkey waited until Mike started vacuuming, went up to the bathroom, carried a step stool all the way back downstairs, set it up at the counter and proceeded to start eating the candy in the bowl. 

Funny enough though, I am thankful for all that she is putting us through.  It’s a nice reminder that parenthood is not predictable.   We need to be kept on our toes – it makes us better parents.  For all the times that I shake my head and wonder what on earth is going through their minds, I have to stop and have a laugh.  It is quite funny when you think about it.  J

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Getting my sh*t together!

So any of you who have been keeping up since day 1 (Adventure to MomTopia) know that this began as a journey to turn my family around.  Although we were nowhere near dysfunctional, I felt we were on a path that might lead us there.  I didn't feel good about aspects of how we were parenting our children and I set out to fix that.  So far it is proving to be an amazing transition for our family. 

What I didn't talk much about then was the transformation I am going through myself as a person.  Sure, I'm working on my time-management skills and my parenting skills but I am also going through quite another journey.  I am getting my sh*t together (excuse my language). 

I have been struggling with my weight since the birth of my oldest child.  About 2 years ago, I was at my biggest (without a baby in my belly).  I went shopping for some new clothes and for the first time in my life, I had to look in the plus-sized section.  To be honest, I felt ashamed. When the numbers were getting higher in the regular sizes, it didn't bother me so much but having to move to a different part of the store was very emotional for me.  I stood there staring at the 1X top I was thinking of trying on and then something inside me snapped.  I put the top down and left the store in tears.

The entire drive home, I started thinking... what's holding me back?  No one else controls me.  I'm not a puppet.  I don't have a medical condition (yet!!) so there are no excuses.  I was determined that I was not going to be a fat mom.  Since then, I have managed to drop 2/3's of the weight I set out to lose.  I still have about 20 lbs to go but I am slowly seeing the old me return. 

Although my weight is by far the largest task to complete, it has triggered something in me.  I no longer accept my "lazy" attitude towards life.  I once had goals.  I once felt passionate about life.  I needed to find that again.

Tying into our new family dynamic, I took my own advice and went back to some of the goals I have set for myself.  I chose one to start.  I had always said I wanted to run a 1/2 marathon by the time I am 30.  Once upon a time, I loved to run.  So this October I will be running my first 1/2 marathon.  I have started very slow.  I found a wonderful friend who is willing to come over and run with me a few times a week and we started a learn-to-run type program.  We will be at the end of week 2 tonight and although there's still a long way to go, I feel fabulous that I even made it this far... especially since it's winter!

There is still some work to be done before I will feel like I'm me again but I'm on my way there.  The most important thing is that I stay true to myself, take realistic steps and always keep in mind what kind of role model I want to be to my kids.  They look up to me and I want them to be proud to call me their mom. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tug of War?

I occasionally get asked how I am able to split my love & time between my 2 children.  (Those of you with multiple kids can stop laughing now).  This question never makes sense to me, until I think back to life before 2 kids and recall the thought process.  You look at that one special, amazing child and they are your life.  That baby is everything to you and you couldn’t possibly see your life any different.  For some, this is enough.  For others, even with all that love you feel like something is missing. 
I will be the first to admit that my entire pregnancy with my 2nd child, I was slightly worried.  I didn’t have that in-utero love for the baby growing inside me like I did with my 1st.  I worried a lot about how I would split my love & time once baby came.  I wondered if I was doing the right thing for my son by giving him a sibling.  How he would change as a person with a new baby in the house.  At times I wondered if I had made a mistake.

The moment I laid eyes on my daughter, those doubts vanished and I learned the truth.  You don’t split your love – your heart just doubles the amount of love it holds and is able to give.  I remember that moment when she was born and I looked down.  I was so flooded and overwhelmed with emotion, it was like a truck had hit me.  I was not prepared for the feeling and began crying uncontrollably.  It was not sadness, it was complete and utter joy & love for this new person I was laying eyes on for the first time.  I didn’t quite know how to control the feeling.  I did feel overwhelming emotion with my 1st but it was different for sure.  I think I was expecting it more that first time around.  I believe it can be different for everyone and you really do have to experience it to completely understand. 
So what about time?  It’s true that the clock can’t double up like your love.  Saying that though, I don’t believe I have ever had to split my time between my kids.  First lesson I learned with baby #2 – I had a LOT of free time before she came into our lives.  I spent a lot of time with my son but as he was getting older, he was becoming more independent and when baby arrived, I don’t believe he was left out at all.  We created a good balance where he never felt like he had less time with us – actually, he started to appreciate his time with us much more.  Trips to the store alone with dad became even more special.  Family time involved him teaching his sister all the wonderful things he knows how to do.  As she has grown, they have become best friends and she looks up to him.  We still spend just as much “family time” together, the only difference is that our family is now +1. 
Does this change when adding more than 1 child? 2 more? A dozen more?  I couldn’t tell you but would love to hear from those of you who are there. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Decompressing week 2

First of all, I need to apologize for the lack of posts this last week.  As many of you can understand, I don’t always have time and in my case, there isn’t always anything interesting to say.  Plus I have been experiencing a huge bout of “mom-brain” lately.

Week 2 went well although it could have gone better.  Now that the novelty of the new rules as worn off, our son seems a little less interested and has been pushing back a bit on the new rules.  I did expect this though – he’s not one to just accept changes without giving us a challenge so we were prepared.  This week we will tweak our approach with him slightly.  I’d like to catch him a little off-guard.  He knows how to push my buttons but I’m not going to let it bother me.  I’m going to react with only smiles and a calm tone.

I have learned something about myself this week though – I am not as strong as I had hoped.  I too didn’t follow all the rules and found myself sitting on the couch last night watching tv and playing on the internet instead of folding the pile of laundry staring me in the face.  I had also planned to mop all the floors yesterday and that didn’t happen either.  I blamed it on the fact that we were out all morning and then out again in the evening but even with that, I had time.  I just chose to ignore it.  It just goes to show that falling into old habits is very easy. 

Today is a new day!  I’ve adjusted my schedule this week to make up for it and I am not going to beat myself up about it.  I know change takes time.  I am determined! 

On another note, those of you who know me know that I have started a learn-to-run type program.  I have been out with a friend 4 times over the past week and I’m feeling good about it.  This is in response to one of my goals that I’m hoping to finally achieve.  I will definitely talk about this more later. 

Wishing you all a fantastic Family Day (for those of you who are lucky enough to celebrate).   J

Monday, February 14, 2011

Decompressing Week 1

The first visible success of the week:

ME: “Please don’t forget to put your lunch bag on the counter”.
My 5 year old: “I know, I know!!..... but thank you for reminding me Mommy”

Last night was our 2nd family meeting.  After we put our youngest to bed, we brought our son down to the dining room and had a family talk about how our week went.  We went through our “family rules” again had an active discussion with how the week went.  It was a very productive conversation and I think he really appreciated that both Mike and I admitted to our faults this week as well.  We also discussed our goals and set new ones for this week.

Overall, I do believe we had a very successful week.  There was no yelling, we practiced time-ins rather than time-outs and everyone followed their chore chart.  We also ate more meals together and spent more time together as a family.  We have some kinks to work out for sure but for our first week, I am very proud of my family… and myself!

We did get to try the new Time-In method on our son twice this week.  Both times I was shocked with how successful they were.  We cuddled together, had a chat about the behaviour and then I left him to gather his emotions & thoughts and he was able to rejoin the family when he felt he was ready. I must admit though, it takes a lot more work.  A time-out was very easy – I would just say “go to time-out” and he’d go and I’d look at the clock and then call him back 5 minutes later.  With our time-ins, I had to actively stop what I was doing and go with him to his spot, sit with him and talk.  At first, I was slightly annoyed that I had to stop what I was doing but then as we sat there chatting, I realized that I wouldn’t trade anything in the world for cuddling with him listening to his thoughts and feelings.  You really do gain a little more understanding into what triggered the behaviour when you spend time listening to what they have to say instead of shunning them off to a corner somewhere.

I feel like my family is on track to get where we need to be.  Now to concentrate on me… more to come about that next time. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Scheduling Your Precious Time

I would love to say that I could keep up being consistent in my day-to-day life without one but the truth is, I need a schedule.  At work, I’ve started to keep a book on my desk – at the start of the day, I make a list of all I need to accomplish that day. As more gets handed to me, I add to the list based on priority.  A schedule keeps my mind clear from that constant worry of “what’s next” and I am able to focus on the task at hand. 

I think my kids need a schedule just as much as I do.  A set schedule is like a promise.  I’m sure we are all guilty of the “we’ll do it later” response.  It’s meant to stall if we are busy or maybe we hope they will forget the request all together.  You will then spend the next couple of hours repeating “not now, later” as the question is repeated over and over.  You will get frustrated and your kid will spend that time worrying that you will not follow through.   

Now imagine this – your kid asks “mommy, can you play a game with me” and you respond with “how about we play at 3pm”?  Keep a daily schedule posted somewhere visible to everyone (a white board works great) and add “play a game – 3pm”.  Most importantly, at 3pm, even if your child has long since forgotten the request, make sure you follow through.  It may not seem that important to the naked eye but you are actually teaching your child a valuable lesson about keeping your word, as well as reminding them that they are important to you.

Don’t just schedule things that come up – you can prepare your family for daily tasks ahead.  Every bath night, we get whining from our oldest.  He doesn’t want a bath, he doesn’t think he’s dirty, are we sure it’s bath night, can he have it tomorrow instead?  It’s an ordeal just to get the kid anywhere near the bathroom.  Of course, once he’s in the tub, I can’t get him out – but the next time I mention the word bath, the whining comes flying out of his mouth.  Bath night has always been on a consistent schedule in our house but never in writing until now.  Once it’s written for all to see on a daily basis, the whining stops and we get “Mommy is it time for my bath yet”?

A family schedule can also give you that much needed mommy-time you so desperately deserve.  Write out your daily schedule – absolutely everything your family does on a day to day basis.  There is probably one thing missing from that schedule.  You.  Schedule yourself in – whether it’s an hour in the tub while daddy takes the kids to the park, a date with your tv while the kids are on a playdate or even sleeping in on Saturday morning while the rest of the family visits Grandma.  And most importantly, involve your family in creating the schedule.  They will be more receptive to honouring the schedule if they are included in creating it (especially your partner if they get to schedule some daddy-time).  If you don’t have another adult at home to help you out, talk to another mommy-friend.  Agree to take her kids one afternoon a week if she will return the favour.

Since implementing the schedule in our home, we immediately noticed that our 5 year old has been very receptive.  He even suggested we schedule weekly time together.  So we put him in charge of Friday nights which he has decided is Family Game Night.  We are looking forward to seeing what he has prepared for us tonight!