Friday Finds

22 (1)

Hey there!

It’s Friday! I find most things as a parent to be slightly bittersweet – like weekends. Though wonderful in many ways they’re definitely not the same as my pre-kiddo days. And while I am looking forward to spending time with AJ, watching his various sports and maybe squeezing a hike in Sunday morning – I also know that Monday won’t have the same dread that it had pre-kiddo either because… routines, man they are the best. Do you have anything planned this weekend? Have you come up with a way to incorporate the right amount of structure and fluidity into your weekends?

Without further ado here’s another round up of different articles and finds from around the internet this week relating to parenting:

  • Six Screen-Time Studies That Changed My Parenting Approach is a very digestible summary of the studies and how the author used the information. I especially appreciate the last two about reading and acknowledging our own roles.
  • Amazon is coming out with a children’s version of the Echo – along with some parental controls and FreeTime content it comes with a feature that will encourage your child to say ‘please’. I showed this article to my mom and she responded that my dad wants one “so that he can talk better than command… Hey, google.”
  • On A Cup of Jo, the author shares the Three Words That Changed How I Parent:  “Aim for yes.” This is very similar to advice my mom shared with me early in my parenting journey “avoid the power struggle” and was such a good reminder. The examples in the article made me smile and also realize I could definitely say ‘yes’ to a few more things – I read it Monday and can already sense the positive influence it’s having.
  • In this Scary Mommy post,  My Kids Eat Dinner At 3 P.M., And Here’s Why, the writer explains how changing the expected routine has worked for her family. I think it’s important to always do what’s best for your family, not one answer works for everyone – but if you share some of the same struggles I do this might work.
    • From me: While working as a teacher in OKC I incidentally started this routine of grabbing a quick, (often fast food – no shame y’all) small meal for AJ on the way home form school. It completely changed the tone of our afternoons and evenings. He often ate a little bit of the dinner I made myself later in the evening as a second dinner of sorts. By avoiding behavior driven from being “hangry” we were able to keep peace and it was so worth it!
    • From my mom (Dr. Venters): I use to feed the kids the dinner that I had made the day before since they were always hungry earlier than when their dad got home around 7pm. By the time we moved to Denver I just started eating with them at 5-5:30. Kept me from being “hangry” also.
  • BONUS: Having trouble transitioning your little from book read to actually falling asleep? I was recently reminded of these audio Sparkle SleepyTime Stories and wanted to share them with you.
    • When AJ was younger we used these at the end of our bedtime routine; I would rub his back for a couple minutes before leaving the room while it played. The stories are about 12 minutes long and were usually sufficient in slowing down his little brain and sending him off to sleep. I also used them quite successfully in my classroom as a pre-k teacher. I find kiddos really only need to lie still and  be quiet for 5-10 minutes to fall asleep. This worked for us. The other stories were not of much interest to my five year old but I’m thinking of resubscribing to try a few stories for my now nine year old. By the way there’s a similar adult version, Sleep with Me, I haven’t tried it yet though!

This too shall pass…

AJ asleep on mat in master bedroom

My son, now nine, came to live with me when he was five. Well beyond the newborn middle of the night wake up calls. In many ways at age five we were beyond many of the parenting stages that are frequently talked about: sleep deprivation, terrible twos, potty training, etc. Sure we’ve gone through many different iterations of our relationship since that day in April almost exactly four years ago that we became family. But I was unique in that, as a mid-twenty year old with a young child I’d never experienced consecutive nights of disrupted sleep.

Until a few months ago.

My now nine year son suddenly became incapable of sleeping through the night in his own room. When AJ first came to live with me we struggled immensely with going to sleep. Many phone calls to my mom (she even wrote us Alec and the Sandman to help!) and internet searches later, but most importantly with time to develop a consistent bedtime routine, we had slayed:

    The ‘I can’t fall asleep’ beast,

    The ‘I’m not tired’ beast,

    The ‘suddenly hungry despite turning down all snacks ten minutes ago’ beast,

    The ‘just one more book’ beast,

    The ‘I have to go to the bathroom again’ beast,

    And my favorite: the ‘I just miss you when I’m asleep’ beast.

But throughout all of this, once the boy was asleep he was asleep for 10-12 blissfully quiet and calm hours.

The first few time AJ woke in the middle of the night, I was calm, I didn’t hit the panic button. I just walked him back to his room and sat with him until he fell back asleep. I did this, again and again and again, multiple times a night, night after night. I became a zombie – I lost my patience and I hit the panic button. The internet had fewer suggestions for this problem than it did when he was five. The suggestions I did find mostly boiled down to routine – which we had faithfully maintained for years. I was out of ideas, so I did what I always do when I’m stuck – I called my mom.

Her advice was to roll back the panic, to survive within it. This was a phase she said, it too will pass. In the meantime find a temporary solution that makes you both happy and healthy.

Empty mat in bedroom

Enter the camping mat. For over two months this camping mat has lived in a corner of my room waiting. And for a little over a month and a half I woke up in the morning looked over and saw my little man snoozing next to me. Sure I worried throughout this time: can he possibly be getting quality sleep? is he warm enough down there? IS THIS GOING TO GO ON FOREVER? Well he never once complained about being cold or uncomfortable – he is 9 and not 29 I suppose. And low and behold about two weeks ago it stopped as quickly as it started. It has been two weeks of waking up to an empty mat and I’m ready to pack it away, it seems it’s need is gone – but if I’m wrong I won’t hesitate to bring it back. It won’t be forever, it’s just a phase and it won’t last.

I’m grateful to have had this experience and the reminder that sometimes there isn’t a true solution to a problem. Sometimes you have to look at things differently. This wasn’t a problem to solve; it was a phase in our lives to accommodate and find peace within. And believe it or not I already kind of miss this phase like all the others behind us – even if only a little bit.