Blink—And They're Grown

Parents, Families and Child Care


Help Them Help Themselves

put-on-shoesThe classic parenting struggle: we need to get out the door and on with our day, but your child is this. close. to putting their jacket on by themselves for the first time. Of course, you can insert a variety of skills—putting shoes on, pulling pants up, zipping their coat, etc. These last moments before success seem to be stretching beyond the limits of time. Your child continues to try and try again. What do you do as a parent? I’ll tell you what I do too often: do it for them and get on with our day.

More recently, our two-and-a-half-year-old has been excited about his developing skills. He sees himself as capable and wants to try to dress himself. He lets us know this by saying, “I DO IT!” with a look on his face that tells us he means business. This newfound attitude has made me stop and think about how I’m supporting him in learning these skills, while also considering the realities of our day.

Morning time during the work week isn’t the best in our house for learning new skills. We have “places to go and people to see” as my parents would say. Knowing how important it is for children to develop these self-help skills and build confidence in trying new things, I took a conscious look at what we could do at home to accommodate this. For us, evenings work out much better. When we arrive home, we can practice with jackets and shoes. As it turns out, this is much more fun for our youngest when his big brother helps to show him. When it is time to put on pajamas for bed, we can practice dressing and undressing skills. The boys have fun seeing who can finish first, even though they are both always declared the winner—our oldest says, “I know I won for real but he can win too because he’s little,” which melts my heart. We make sure to start early before everyone is too tired and provide encouragement along the way.

As these skills are practiced and further developed, they’ll make their debut into our morning routine. I’m anxiously awaiting the day both boys can get themselves ready for the day without my help. Until then, we’ll keep practicing!

My Child Is Not Me!

mother-sonI’ve been a mommy since 2006, and before my angel was born I had all these grand ideas and plans of how I would be as a mom and how he would be as my son. I thought we would be doing a lot of laughing, reading, riding bikes, visiting the museum, zoos, amusement parks, you name it—but boy was I wrong. I did not expect and anticipate my kid not liking any of those things. I mean NOTHING. So instead of crying, being sad and pouting I had to come up with ideas that would entice or interest him in a different way. I didn’t take into consideration that he may have just been fed up or burnt out because schools and summer camps take him to most of these outings. So how do you get your kid interested in hanging out with mom?

First, I always check in with my son. I have always formed a bond and a relationship with him so that he knows he can tell me anything whether I would be upset or not. I wanted to develop his trust but at the same time remind him that I can be his friend but I still have to parent.

Second, I talk with his friends to see what his interests are. Sometimes our children tell the parent one thing and his friends something else. I’ve figured from talking to his friends that some things of interest to my son he may deem embarrassing or feel like I would think it’s stupid or that I just wouldn’t get it.

Third, I am personable. I like to check in with my son to let him know that mommy was not always an adult and to let him know the things that I did as a child. Because of the power of the internet and ebay, I can pull up old TV shows, cartoons and toys.

All in all as a parent I had to learn that my child is just an extension of me, not a replica. So instead of being disappointed, losing interest or giving up on bonding and hanging out with your child, think about what interests you have and adapt to involving yourself with what your kids like and are involved in. I have now been introduced to worlds that I didn’t know existed such as Comic-Con, playing and beating him in laser tag, learning to play video games and actually participating in gaming forums.

Hopefully you too can follow this TIP, (Trust, Interest, and Personable) on your journey to maintaining a bond with your child.

“I can do it Mom! You know I can!”


“I can do it Mom! You know I can!”

A familiar phrase from my five-year-old. I reached for the milk to pour in his cup at dinner time, when he reminded me that he is capable of doing this for himself. He’s been reminding me more and more lately that he can do many of the things I’ve built into my routine of doing for him. Whether it’s pouring milk or “fixing” his hair, I’ve had to break my routine and allow him the opportunity to explore his abilities.

This mom is having a hard time with it.

As an early childhood advocate, I know the value of children building their confidence by trying and mastering new skills. I know that a sense of responsibility can help build a collaborative relationship among our family. I know that he’s five and really can do a lot of things on his own. Then the mom in me thinks that my baby really can’t be old enough to take care of most of his needs on his own without my help. He can’t be…or can he?

When I step back and allow him to show me what he can do, he exceeds my expectations. Aside from pouring drinks, cutting food, and dressing himself, he’s shown that he can read, spell, and be a nurturing big brother to his two-year-old sidekick. I can see that when I step back and allow his experiences to guide him, he shows me he has listened and paid attention to my direction.

As he prepares to start Kindergarten, we’ve made a conscious effort at home to give as many opportunities as we can for him to do things on his own.  Of course he needs help sometimes and we’re definitely there to guide him—but it seems to make all the difference to him if he’s tried his way first and asks for help on his own. It is reassuring to me that he values his abilities enough to try things on his own, and also understands that mom and dad are a safe home base to come back to.

The next time he tells me “I can do it Mom!” I’ll reply with a “You’re right, you can do it!” and hand over the task to his capable hands.

The First Day of School

What are some ways that make "letting go" easier when our children start school?

What are some ways that make “letting go” easier when our children start school?

“Making the decision to have a child—it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ” —Elizabeth Stone

As a mother, I know this to be true. From the moment they come into our lives it feels like our children are a part of us.

It doesn’t matter if your child is 6-weeks- or 6-years-old, if they are beginning their first day of preschool or first day of middle school, if it’s your first child or your fourth child… they are a piece of our hearts and letting them go to be cared for by a child care provider or school teacher is tough.

As summer comes to an end and back-to-school is approaching I’ve been thinking about the person who will share a piece of my heart, and considering some ways that make letting go a little easier.

An open letter to my child’s teacher on the first day of school

Beginning today you will become one of the most important people in my life. I am sharing my child with you. He will spend more of his waking hours with you than with me and you will become a meaningful person in his life. He is coming to you to learn but he needs more from you than academics. First and foremost please create a safe and trusting environment that will build his confidence and allow him to love learning. Please share yourself with him —tell him about your interests, your family, what you were like as a child— and he will feel connected and important. Take the time to see his unique talents and challenges and build from that knowledge to help him succeed. I know teaching isn’t only a job. I’ve seen teachers go above and beyond— spending their own time and money to support their students. I appreciate your sacrifice and your effort. Please know how important you are and that you have my support during this journey.

Thank you for all you do.

Some ways to make letting go easier

Meet the Teacher – most schools hold a meet the teacher event before the first day of school each year. This is a great opportunity for you and your child to visit the classroom and talk to the teacher. It can help reduce first day anxiety for your child (and for you!).

Write a brief description about your child’s personality to give to the teacher. Some schools provide parent input forms to help the teacher get to know his/her future students. These forms ask the parent to describe their child’s personality, the child’s likes and dislikes, etc. This can be a great aid for teachers when they are getting to know your child. If the school or classroom teacher does not provide this, write one yourself. Your teacher will appreciate the support.

Volunteer in your child’s classroom. Ask the teacher what you can do to help. Volunteering provides you with an opportunity to build relationships with the teacher and to strengthen your relationship with your child by being involved with this part of their lives. If your work schedule makes it hard to volunteer during the day, ask the teacher what else you can do to contribute to your child’s class.

Ask the teacher what is the best way to keep in contact with him/her.

I Didn’t Evil-y Do Anything!

A howl came from my children’s bedroom and I raced to run interference.

My six-year-old sat there with her ringlets curling around her head like a halo and cool as if butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth. In contrast to her serenity, the perfect O her brother’s mouth formed as he continued to yowl told another story.

“Liv,” I said sternly, hands on both hips, “What did you do to him?”

Her innocent response? “I didn’t evil-y do anything!”

Levi roared louder. Apparently he begged to differ.

Despite my son’s obvious upset, I had to stifle a giggle as I comforted him about the toy she’d taken from him.

Of course Liv’s response wasn’t innocent, but boy was it funny – and a little ironic. What she was trying to say was, “I didn’t even do anything.” And she’d been trying to say it in her unique way, which she’s done ever since she started talking. Now, whether or not she “evil-y” intended to do anything – whether to her brother, the cat or my make-up – I was still sad when recently, at age seven, she answered my “Liv…” with, “I didn’t even do anything.” (Just to clarify, though my daughter’s behavior is sometimes mischievous, I wouldn’t classify it as evil).

That quirky phrase has now passed from being one of those endearing things she said as a little girl to a memory to be shared, not only with a future spouse, but with her, because chances are, she won’t remember it.

I’m not a scrapbooker or an avid cam recorder, but I do chronicle the special things with words. This post will go in her keepsake box of pictures and published clippings I’ve written about her. It just goes along with parent territory to want to capture as much as we can now since they won’t be around forever. Through our collections we can revisit their childhood.

This is my stepson’s last week of high school. Saturday afternoon my husband checked his email and saw that parents were supposed to decorate the seniors’ lockers that morning. Well, that window of opportunity had long closed, but Greg wasn’t about to give up without a try. “If the school’s closed, I’ll try again first thing Monday morning,” he told me. Thankfully, the school was open for another activity.

Armed with pictures that dated back to Jordan’s infancy, Greg decorated the locker top to bottom with memories he’d collected over the years. A true labor of love. Many parents must have missed the email also and Greg felt bad about other seniors not having their lockers done. He also felt bad that as the only guy, his decorating wasn’t fancy. The moms had gone wild with streamers, balloons, scrapbook pages etc.

When he got home, he said, “I did the best I could. My kid wasn’t going to have a bare locker. Not on my watch.”

Monday morning Greg received the following text from Jordan: “Thanks, Dad for my locker.” That’s one that won’t get deleted.

Guess those memories we store up mean something to parent and child.

Greg is humble, so he would say, kind of like Liv and kinda not like her, “I didn’t even do anything.”

Jordan and I would beg to differ.

– Tammi

Photo courtesy of allegr0.