HELP… This Parenting Gig is Tough!

So this vacation has been amazingly good for our parenting egos, basically whenever we go out as the whole family we get at least one if not many compliments. Some are just about appearances “Oh look, they are so cute”, some are more surface/conversational “you’ve got your hands full”, but the best are “wow your kids are so well behaved”, “you guys make it look easy, we are struggling with one”, and many more.

It’s interesting because when I look around there are lots of families walking with babies or just one kid and it does look easy. The parent to child ratio is great 2:1 but then I look at our circus and the kids are becoming such great friends, they are learning how to play with each other and more than that they are learning life skills like sharing, compromise and empathy. When I see Grace stop to help Rowen or Row check on Eleanor to give her a bottle and a blanket, there is nothing else like it. It reminds me when the challenging times come that we made the choice to have 3 kids and that despite the challenges there are way more good times than difficult. Plus not all moments are challenging some days we attempt something and the kids are all in the right mood and somehow we have this incredible day that even I want to give ourselves a little pat on the back.

That being said we are really struggling with discipline and follow through, I am looking for any ideas that have worked with your family. I think the hardest thing right now is finding age appropriate discipline, basically we have Rowen (3), Grace (2) and Eleanor (10 months). Oh and the struggle with being outnumbered by our kids. We don’t have enough hands to catch all of our rascals when they start running away! Or have your tried going to the pool with 3 kids 3 and under (it’s terrifying).

We are working hard on being proactive. So for example in anticipation of being near a pool and ocean for a good chunk of time we invested in quality swimming lessons and both kids wear their swim belts while swimming (supervised). We also don’t go certain places or plan around when we will have less kids or even bribe them with food. Like we had to go to Costco to do a big shop but we bought them fries and they ate in the shopping cart while we did all our groceries. May be this is bribery and not teaching them how to behave in a grocery store or maybe its genius. I do not know, but what I do know is it is what works and what has been helping us get by:)

However there are some areas we are struggling.

The one challenge I faced today is Grace learning how to share or learning patience to wait. Eleanor was napping so I took Grace and Rowen with their new balls across the street to the park. Kids have given up naps although we are finding they need them while vacationing (who doesn’t!). They love the swings and both still want to be in a baby swing. Well this particular park only has two baby swings and I let another family use one so my two kids had to share. Rowen was fantastic and patiently waited his turn but Princess Grace lost it when her turn was up. She arched her back, screamed like she was being attacked and let the waterworks fly. At which point I made the decision to follow through with my promise and bring both kids home, no more park or swinging. The same situation had happened last night when all the swings were taken and Grace could not grasp why “her” swings weren’t available.

How do you reason or explain to a two year old about sharing and waiting. My latest attempt is they are told the rules before, ie if you cannot share when we get to the swings and do not listen we will go home. Then usually what ends up happening is we have to pack up and go home. I am hoping after a few consistent times it will help break this behaviour but so far I don’t know if the kids even notice what is happening.

With Rowen it is whole other issue we are dealing with, LISTENING. His example was at the pool yesterday when he was told to stop throwing his toy out of the pool and he didn’t listen. He was given multiple opportunities to stop and many chances to stay but he continued so we just scooped him out and left the pool. This happens all day long in terms of taking toys from people, not keeping our hands to our selves, and just general annoying bickering between siblings.

The things I have learnt that do work include adjusting my expectations and setting us up for success.

Example is if I know they are tired I don’t expect the same out of them. We try to go for a nap or plan activities I know won’t cause arguments. Another example is if I want to go somewhere with them I try to plan it at a good time. Taking them in the morning while they are typically a little happier and more agreeable.

Expectations include things like ordering take out and hitting up the park instead of trying to go to a restaurant and then taking away a park play because they behaved badly.

Sometimes these things are hard to do because they aren’t what I want to do or they are inconvenient. But I know in the long run it will be more than worth it. I do know one thing though. We were in Maui last year at the same time with just Rowen and Grace who were just 2 and 1 at the time. This year we have been able to relax a little more and enjoy the beach and the pool more with them as well as some new activities and even eat out a bit. So, with this in mind I realize as the kids get older some things will hopefully become easier.

Have you had similar struggles with 2 and 3 year olds? Do any of my struggles sound familiar? Did you find anything that worked with your family? Would love to hear from you:)

“You must learn to master a new way to think before you can master a new way to be. “ – Marianne Williamson

This quote is kinda exactly how I feel today. It’s funny because I was always searching for a way to relax a little, let go of stuff that isn’t really important, appreciate what I have instead of striving for more or better and to try and live more in the now instead of dwelling on the past and stressing about the future. Insert having kids, did I mention 3 kids in 3 years… and this is truly what has happened.

Kids change everything, at least they did for me, even the way I think. Instead of having time to overthink and worry and pick apart everything I am learning to master a new way of thinking which includes:

Breathing. When I am feeling tense or stressed take a few deep breathes

Living in the chaos. It’s okay if the floor is dirty, laundry doesn’t get done today, my mouldings aren’t wiped down, etc… Embrace it, life with small kids is chaotic so if they ended up “helping” with cleaning the floors and now they look even worse, it’s okay! This has been a hard change for me, but we are working on finding compromise in this area. Over Christmas we had a cleaner come in twice, knowing I would be distracted by mess but Christmas is busy and we were hosting a few events. It is harder to let go of organization when we are entertaining so it was a good plan. This simple thing helped me to be able to enjoy the moments and just sit back and entertain instead of worry about the mess! Sometimes living in the chaos also means accepting when I need help and hiring or asking for it. Easier said then done but I am trying.

Humble & Grateful. I am really trying to remember that we are fortunate and to be aware and conscious of that. I do believe we work hard and make choices but I also know to be grateful that we live in the country we live in, have the family and friends we have, the list is really endless and I just want to always remember to be grateful for all that we have that has helped us to be able to live the life and lifestyle we do, not just our hard work and choices (although they do play a role in it).

Live in the moment. This is a huge one for me. I am not sure if it has been aging and seeing friends or peers suffer (either loosing parents, becoming ill, or even loosing peers and friends), some are even strangers that you hear about in the news but that resemble us a little to closely and leave me feeling that could have been us. Or if it has been having kids and realizing you want to be there for them forever (or at least a really long time). But I am really trying to live in the moment with and for my kids. I want them to have amazing memories of us and all the things we did together or the way we listened and were there for them. I would hate to look back 20 years from now and regret not living in those moments. So, it is maybe one of my hardest changes of thinking but I am making an effort to do it! It is also amazing to me how much our kids admire and love us right now, I don’t want to miss this time where Fraser and I are their everything’s because one day, probably sooner than I can imagine, that will change.

It’s so funny because every since I changed my way of looking and thinking about things I am different. My whole body is different. I am physically less tense, my body feels better, my mind is less stressed, I don’t have headaches, it is amazing the things that can change. I feel like I am open and people can feel it. I am attracting just a bunch of good things! Friends, money, even with my kids and in all my relationships. It is amazing how powerful the mind is, and to think it was there all along.

For me a lot of my new way of thinking is around asking myself “Why Not?”, or “What’s the worst that could happen?”

I have always been a bit of a dreamer and have a tendency to set unrealistic expectations. Here is the thing I am learning, still dream but come up with ways to make them my reality. SO “why not” or “what’s the worst that could happen” help determine if I should try something.

Take for example last year when Fraser and I did a renovation and a 10 day holiday to Hawaii with two kids under 2 and while I was pregnant with our third (some might call this crazy). We sat on the beach last year and talked about what it would be like to just come and stay in Hawaii for a month, fast forward a year and we made it happen. It wasn’t luck or even digging ourselves into a ton of debt with no thought to the future. It was making choices through out the year that lead us to being able to make this work, as well as a little prioritizing what mattered to us. We missed a good childhood friend of mines wedding in Mexico in November because we couldn’t do both, and that’s just one example of the compromises we made. Obviously for us the overall goal was to have quality time as a family and also some R&R.

R&R Rest & Relaxation… this is funny, so we are on vacation with a 3 year old boy who has lots of energy and is in the early stages of getting an Autism diagnosis (meaning we are learning how to help him with certain issues we have been having), a 2 year old daughter who has an attitude of a 16 year old and a temper like no other and of course our 10 month old teething babe who is crawling but not walking yet:) Some might wonder how we would possibly think this could be restful or relaxing. And old me would have agreed, all children are still in diapers and when we left home no child was sleeping through the night. But with a little shift of our thinking you can change your whole outlook on something. Instead of wishing we were going without our kids, or that our kids were older (out of diapers, sleeping through the night) I have been focusing on the positives or looking for wins as they happen, and boy have they been happening.

First, I was a little concerned about the airport (we were bringing a lot of child related equipment and I never know how my kids will behave). I am happy to say we handled the luggage and equipment so easily and that the kids were amazing. So much so that we had compliments from other passengers! I call this a parenting win and a great way to start off. It also helps to adjust your way of thinking because any doubts you had are pushed aside.

Now we are just enjoying having no schedule, making sure kids are happy and fed, well rested, etc. This is relaxing because at home we sometimes skipped meals, or were too busy rushing to get to something that we missed a nap or couldn’t sleep in after a bad night because we had to be somewhere. Commitments and schedules can be stressful and have an impact on me for sure which in turn impacts our whole families attitudes and outlook. I’m really going to work on slowing down at home and trying to bring this more relaxed way of dealing with our kids home with me. It is obviously different in a home environment but I think we can take some of it with us when we go home!

I guess what I have learnt is rest and relaxation doesn’t have to look like massages and days at the spa, relaxing and reading on the beach and sunsets from the lanai with wine in hand. Instead it can be a quick pedicure while the kids are taking a break with dad from the sun, an hour escape down to the beach with my book or even just sitting with Eleanor watching the other two play in the sand, and nothing beats a sunset view with all kids happily playing (plus you can still have wine!). Things evolve and what I am finding out is they are for the better. My biggest fear is to stay the same, so why not embrace change in every aspect and see what comes with it. For now I am going to enjoy the stage of life we are at… busy, chaotic, messy and all!

Kick Off To Christmas!

As the first weekend in December comes to and end my heart is beyond full, my body beyond tired and my mind a little foggy, all signs of a great start to the holiday season. We really have come to a point in our lives where our family are our friends and our friends are our family and it has got to be one of the best feelings. Hard to imagine when we were younger but we have created a life where it is full of the most amazing people who are there for us through thick and thin. This weekend was a great reminder of that, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

We took some family time to decorate our tree, and it was just a surprisingly great experience. Obviously Christmas decorations change when you have little ones who love to touch and play but I was so surprised at how helpful and into decorating the tree Grace and Rowen were. We decorated the bottom foot of the tree a little more sparsely as Eleanor does show interest in the tree and we figured it was just safer this way!

When I think of Christmas and my kids the word Magic really is what comes to mind, it is such a special time and feeling and I just want to soak up every minute (even the trying ones!). This was definitely a fun time with the kids and everyone loves the way the tree turned out. I used to love a good theme and colour scheme and hated all our mismatched ornaments but I gotta say the sentimental mama I have turned into loves all the meaningful and homemade ornaments and how they have the ability to remind us of past holidays and memories.

Saturday was a bit of a lazy day, but we had wanted to head out and support a couple of our friends at their First Charity Event Photos with Santa.

First, we love J.Baird Cattle & Co because we love the family, the manager is a good friend of ours and their pepperoni is the kids favourite snack! So, we loaded up the whole family (dog included) and headed out to the stand. It was such a great set up and for a donation to Delta Assist we got a family pic with Santa (still waiting to see it, but I am so happy we got all of us in it totally doesn’t matter what it looks like!). Bonus for the hot chocolate and cookie bar, I loved the Santa Wishlist writing table and the fires were perfect for warming up on a dreary day! So many great details and the perfect laid back event for our family. If you haven’t been out to the stand you definitely need to stop by and check it out!

Sunday morning though was the ultimate end to a great weekend. One of my favourite traditions we have with our friends is our Annual Kids Christmas Party. Now I am starting to realize I love me some traditions and this is one that has some great components to it. Some things have evolved but many things have stayed the same and for that I am thankful.

Some of my favourite things that have stayed the same are

  • the menu (Bacon & Hash brown Casserole will never loose the appeal)
  • the activities (cookie decorating is amazing especially when you let little ones go wild with icing and sprinkles!)
  • the people. This year we have a few new additions (Sam, Faye & Eleanor) and were missing some of our gang because of scheduling conflicts but for the most part the crew stays the same.

The only thing that maybe has evolved is the gift exchange, and for that I am so thankful. Our kiddos used to always do a secret Santa but we are beyond blessed with some very fortunate kids so this year we did gifts for less fortunate families as well as food to the food bank! What a great way to start our Sunday morning off good food and friends.

Tonight I am just so happy sitting by the beautiful tree, enjoying a little wind down to a fabulous weekend. We had dinner at Nans house with all my sisters, the kids cousins and of course GAG (Great Aunt Grace). Nan gave everyone a bath and sent the kiddos home in PJ’s and ready for bed, all in all I call it a fabulous end to a great weekend. I hope that you all have enjoyed the first weekend in December and are able to spend it with those you love.

Christmas can be a stressful and sometimes sad time for people and I truly feel blessed that this year for us Christmas is a happy and magical time. I know there will be years that are more difficult or Christmas’ that are tough but I am going to try and enjoy all the ones with the kids little and see things through their eyes. 22 Sleeps TIL Santa! Off to bed, need a little rest to recover from this weekend.

Back to routine week…

Big week at our house… our oldest started his first year of preschool!  Now we are a family that doesn’t do well with routine, often don’t even know what day of the week it is and definitely don’t follow a “structure”. School although fun (mainly because it means a little shopping to prepare) is a bit daunting for all of us.  My son is shy, and although he loves to play he gets overwhelmed in social settings and is a bit of a homebody, my middle daughter has gone from being super independent to having big separation anxiety from mama!  And really to top it all off we rarely get organized enough to be out of the house by say 10ish and are a family of morning sleepy heads.

So, first week so far:  Tuesday was a full day of preschool for Rowen (2.5 hours) and it actually could not have gone any better.  We had not prepared with groceries so I threw whatever peanut free and healthy snacks I had together for him for school and got in to the car to find the tank on empty and no number of KM’s flashing (which is the start of an empty tank and usually means I can push it another 50-75km’s), but it was just the three little dots signalling it was beyond empty!  And we were already running behind… oh plus my super cute Mabel’s Labels I had ordered for all his school stuff had not arrived yet so I had nothing ready to go! #1 MOM, off to a great start!

However we made it to school without running out of gas only to find we were the first ones there (shocking) and no one had all the supplies organized so we fit right in!  Rowen wouldn’t sit still long enough for a great picture but he was willing to wear clothes and shoes (which in our world is huge!).   I did find out later he attempted to take off his shoes about 5 times (or more) through out the day at school, but he came home with them on so I will take the wins where I can. I took him in and helped him unpack only to look back and see him with his cousin happily building blocks. My mom heart could not be happier. He had his friend and his toys and was so happy he didn’t even notice me.

We all want to be wanted, but at the end of the day our goal is to raise an independent adult and him being able to find his friends, sit and entertain and interact is all a part of this growing up into an independent adult. So as bittersweet as it was to see him so well adjusted I was so proud!  Tomorrow is the second day and now that he knows I leave I am not sure how he will react but I gotta say this routine stuff seems to be suiting his almost three year old mature self. He is doing stuff just a couple of months ago I couldn’t imagine him doing. Plus my labels came, I have all his supplies ready and his snacks are packed. We are already past the halfway mark of the week and we have survivied so far!

As for poor Grace, she loved preschool!   It meant Rowen was gone and she could steal his undies and wear them (strange pleasures), and she had free run of the TV choices, toys and fort building!   The girl was so happy, she had mom and dad almost all to herself (lets not forget about Eleanor).  I thought she would be sad but she was just excited and happy to see her brother when he got home (I am sure the donut he brought her had nothing to do with it).

Today was their first swim lessons, now both kids have had two sets of leisure center parented lessons but since we have three kids under three we decided the parented lessons were a bit much for us so we wanted to try a private unparented lesson (plus we are hoping to be in Maui for a month to start of 2018 and might as well get the kids prepped for fun in the water!).  I had Rowen go in first and he was so excited he could barely contain himself, Coach J was amazing and so great with Rowen I left so confident and excited.  Also feeling okay about the millions (not actually but close to) we had spent on these lessons!  Then it was Graces turn, when Rowen saw us come to get him he started crying and then it might have set off Grace, the switch of kids for lessons did not go as great as I had planned. Rowen quickly recovered and came very happily with me to get dried and dressed but I of course could hear my little Gracie’s cries from the change room. The lessons are only half an hour so we walked outside and came back to pick up Grace. She was fairly worked up. I did sneak a little peak in the pool and she wasn’t doing anything scary or unusual in the pool.  I think her little separation anxiety got the worst of her, poor babes.  Coach J said it is common and only takes a couple lessons before she learns that Mom didn’t leave and is coming back.  By the time we got to the car she had settled and all of the family was happy again…  hump day is over and we are on our way to the weekend, thank god.

I am not sure who this week has been hardest on, new routines and changes are always a bit of an adjustment!  I am happy to say I have already made it to the gym twice this week and have two more classes to go, so that is another win. Just trying to focus on one day at a time and not get too far ahead of ourselves here… when did life get so busy?  Not even fall yet and I am already wishing it was summer again.  Hope your week has gone well, would love to hear how your family copes with changes and routines!