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Getting Some Shut Eye: A Guide for New Parents

I didn’t believed my own mother when she told me that the day my first child was born, my sleep patterns would change forever. Like most of her worldly advice, I thought this statement was slightly dramatic and in my pre-parenthood naivety, I assumed that I would still be able to squeeze in my eight hours every night. How wrong I was.

People without children don’t understand that for parents, sleeping is a luxury indulgence that we grab when we can. As a mother of three, I understand the frustration of not being able to get a good night sleep and I can recall many a morning when I could have quite happily curled up on the washing line and snoozed away!
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That’s why I’ve created this guide to helping parents get the essential shut eye they need.

Routine, routine, routine

It’s drummed into us by the midwife, the online parenting forums and the plethora of baby books on the bedside cabinet. Getting your baby into a routine of eating and sleeping – something you should begin no later than the three month mark – is of the utmost importance and something that will help you get some sleep at night. If your baby has a bedtime, you also have a bedtime!

Ditch the caffeine

For the first six months of my first child’s life, the coffee pot was my friend and confidant. I wasn’t breastfeeding, so would slurp my way through the day to stave off fatigue. Instant, whole bean, espresso – anything I could lay my hands on!

But come night time, I would spend hours lying awake as the caffeine pulsed through my body, even though I craved sleep. Limit your coffee drinking to the morning and early afternoon and switch to decaf or fruity teas the closer it gets to bedtime.

There are also alternations you can make to your diet to help you sleep at night, aside from cutting out the caffeine. Check out this handy guide, created by Woman’s Day, of the top ten foods to get you to sleep at night.

Make use of the spare bedroom

If you’re fortunate to have a spare room in your home, making this a dedicated sleeping zone for exhausted parents where one of you can retreat for a night of solid rest, while the other takes responsibility for the night time duties.

Create a space that’s designed for relaxation and rest. Decorate the room in calm, warm colours and invest in a single memory foam mattress, which are available to order online from Zleeps. Memory foam mattresses conform to the shape of your body for extreme comfort, so they’re perfect for those nights when you’re in desperate need of rest.

Make the most of your visitors

I know they mean well, but the flurry of visitors you receive when there’s a new baby in the house can be something of a nuisance – especially if you’re tired and irritable.
After you’ve made the cuppas and chatted with a visitor who also happens to have children, don’t worry about seeming rude by asking them to look after the baby while you catch forty winks. They’re a parent, so they’ll understand how tired you are and they’ll be delighted to spend half an hour cooing over the new arrival.

My mother was right. Once you have kids, your relationship with sleep will change forever. Even though the days of snoozing until lunch time are over, these tips should help you to get enough rest until your children go to university! Happy sleeping!

Planning for the Prom

Yes, I know, it’s still only August and my friend Jenny’s daughter Kristi is only barely into 11th grade, but Jenny has already begun to think about what her child wear to the junior prom, in fact, I would say that she’s obsessed by it, every day sending me pictures of various possible dresses from sites like DressFirst.

This is all an indirect result of Jenny being passed over for homecoming queen her senior year. That mild trauma of being named just a princess, instead of the grand, big-deal queen, herself, seemed not to bother Jenny too much in 1989. She graciously took her defeat and went about her business, rarely ever mentioning it again.

But, flash forward to 2013, and something about her daughter being in high school, and being engaged in the great popularity contest that swirls around pretty girls, has awakened a Tiger mother-like response in Jenny. The woman is relentless in planning out Kristi’s eventual triumph as homecoming queen, or prom queen. She’s even picked out a couple of possible homecoming dresses for her girl, which is why we’re on to the junior prom, because much of the shopping for the homecoming outfit has already been completed.

It’s strange how these old things come back around, how what happened to us nearly 25 years ago, can influence our children through us.

Well, How Did I Get Here?

We received the results of my daughter’s Day o’Testing, and the results came back as everyone pretty much not knowing  the cause of my daughter’s multiple speech and behavioral issues.

Which is SO not helpful.

I should start by stating that my daughter was not diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum.  But let us just say that she needed a home run, and only scored a triple.  She needed one more box to be checked to have a confident diagnosis, and the team of doctors didn’t feel they could do that.  So, that leaves us with a little person who has some issues, they just don’t fall into neat categories.  They felt that the ABA therapy that autistic children often receive would not address her particular needs.

Apparently they felt that she has some sensory processing problems (sensation-seeking) that are leading to some of the behavioral things, so she will be getting some occupational therapy for those.

She will continue to receive the maximum speech therapy allowed under our insurance plan, and also that is the maximum recommended for her age group.  She fell into the 7th percentile for expressive speech, which I don’t have to tell you is not all that hot.

I think as a parent, I wanted everything to fall perfectly into those boxes, so that I could point to something definitively and say, “Aha! That is the cause!” and then do everything I can to learn about that something and advocate for her regarding that something.

But that something isn’t anything at the moment, although she will be re-evaluated in six months because as I said, there are things that are not quite right, they just don’t fit into the autistic spectrum at this time.   So I’m left sort of wondering why her speech is so delayed and why she has some of the problems that she does without any medically recognized condition behind them.

Which for me, personally, is difficult.

Any advice?

 

Lots of Things Going On…

…here at Casa Glinda.

Let me throw a pity party for myself for a second,  OK?

I promise there will be goody bags.

After months of speech therapy that did not alleviate the bulk of her behavioral/developmental delays, yesterday we took our daughter to undergo a three hour battery of tests given by a multidisciplinary team of experts.  This was done basically to determine if she needs further, intensive behavioral therapy and if she is going to be clinically diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum.

To say that I have been getting harassed by my immediate family for doing this is somewhat of an understatement. I have been accused of “wanting” something to be wrong with her to “having her labelled for life.”

Well Christ, I would say that when your three year old maxes out at three word sentences and still has a very limited vocabulary, as well as other behavioral issues, then it is high freaking time she get some intervention.    I resisted the testing battery for a few months because I wanted to see how much she would improve after six months of speech therapy, if her behaviors were the result of a bright mind frustrated by lack of communication skills.  And in some regards, they are, but my husband and I believe there are deeper issues that need to be addressed.

You know, because we are the ones living with her, not the people who see her for a maximum of a few hours a month.

Apparently that makes me a bad mother.

So now we wait a week to meet with the team and they will deliver their findings.

To say that I am stressed is also somewhat of an understatement.

Also, that whole remodeling thing and moving to another city?

Yeah well, that went kerplooie, and to be honest it was my decision to halt everything.  But that was because for 10 entire months, I was blockaded and stalled out and literally lied to.

So I took myself off the roller coaster.

In one sense it is a relief and I don’t regret the decision, but in another sense making that decision is taking me down a specific road that other people aren’t going to like.

Too bad.

I guess the moral of this post is that I have learned that life is too short to keep people around that are full of negativity and to keep on doing what you think is right.

Here is your goody bag, full of self-righteousness and resolve.  Trust me, it’s better than a Twix any day.

Why I Didn’t Get My Son an XBox

Because man, did he ever beg for one for his birthday.

And I get it, I really do.  He wants to be cool, video games that are not Wii-related are cool, and he loves video games in general.  I was in a similar situation back in the caveman days when the Atari first came out.

Except naively, my parents bought us one, not fully realizing the addictive powers of the video game.  How could they?  But my generation, we know better.

And really, I think my son can get addicted to playing his video games. The more time he spends with games, the shorter his attention span and the less willing he is to listen and do his schoolwork and chores.

Besides, his Kindle has no shortage of them, his most favorite being Minecraft. Now Minecraft is actually a game I don’t mind as much.  You have to use your brain and your imagination a bit, and even though there are apparently zombies out to kill you, you at least have to work and create things in order to stay alive.

Which is to say that it is absolutely nothing like a game such as the Halo series, which I believe is just people killing the crap out of other people just for the heck of it.

I could be wrong.

My husband and I were actually going to get my 10 year old an Xbox as an easy way out.  We had nothing else we could really think of getting for him, and we felt that the first double-digit birthday should be treated as a bit of an occasion.

But then we got to talking about the whole uncensored XBox Live thing, because apparently it isn’t worth playing unless you can be online,  how he doesn’t even have a television in his room, how many of the XBox games are fairly violence-prone, and some other stuff.

So about a week before his actual birthday, we called off the XBox purchase.  As I said before, he has plenty of mind-numbing things loaded onto his Kindle, and when he is truly bored, he can come and kick his parents’ butts at Mario Kart.

Instead we will take him on a trip somewhere.  Somewhere where he gets on a plane and experiences something unlike he’s ever experienced before.

I’m glad we changed our minds.

Oh How the Pendulum Swings

It is difficult to believe in this age of attachment parenting that ideas such as this were once popular:

Never hug and kiss them, never let them sit in your lap. If you must, kiss them once on the forehead when they say goodnight. Shake hands with them in the morning.

When you are tempted to pet your child remember that mother love is a dangerous instrument. An instrument which may inflict a never-healing wound, a wound which may make infancy unhappy, adolescence a nightmare, an instrument which may wreck your adult son or daughter’s vocational future and their chances for marital happiness.

Shake hands with them in the morning! That is classic!

My son would come into the bed when he woke up in the morning and snuggle with me/us until we kicked him out. I never saw that as unnatural for a second.

Now that quote up there? Totally unnatural.

And of course, written by a man.

 

via Sociological Images

Things I Hate: “Final Score” License Plate Frames

It’s totally irrational, I freely admit it.

But it annoys me to no end to see a family dynamic that is fairly uncontrollable (unless possibly adopting a particular sex) played out as competition.

The one up in the picture I can sort of live with, but I saw one today that caused me a fair amount of rage.

Instead of a simple boys vs. girls, it had “Boys 2, Princess 1.”

Ugh.

Let’s not show any favoritism here or anything.  Nothing like letting everyone in the Southern California region know that you think your daughter is a cute, adorable princess and your boys are just, well, boys.  Whatever.

Now if it had said “Princes 2, Princess 1″ I would have been totally fine with it.

Perhaps I have a certain sensitivity when it comes to girl favoritism when it comes to my in-laws, who definitely fawn over the granddaughters much more than the grandsons.  And of course, they have almost twice as many grandsons.

Fine, fine.  It’s totally a personal problem.  I’ll just go away and sulk in a corner by myself.

The Child Care Dilemma

As some of you may have read, the annual cost of child care in some states exceeds that of tuition for a four year degree.

Let’s think about that for a second.

I am all for paying childcare workers a fair and living wage, as well as treating their positions with respect.  But is the high cost of a full-time daycare truly reflective of a highly trained staff and a safe, stimulating setting, or  is it a business just trying to take advantage of a situation where both parents feel they need/want to work?

When I became pregnant with the Munchkin, my husband and I sat down and discussed what I was going to do with myself once our son was born.  My husband was all for me continuing to work, as he likes having money.  I too, like having money, but I pointed out to him that the cost of childcare would negate much of my earnings (although not all) but the net gain we would make from my salary wasn’t worth it to me.

This was a point of contention for a while, with him pointing out that we could hire some aging grandmother off the street who would come in for cheap.  Well, that might have been true, but I still felt that my son was best off with me as his caregiver, period.

So, as in many of our disagreements, I came out the winner.

If good, reliable childcare that didn’t break the bank in my area was obtainable, I might have considered staying at work, or at least scaling back to half or part time.

But it wasn’t.

And so here I sit, stay at home mother to a 4th grader and a toddler with speech and developmental delays.

Yeah, not looking good for a return to the workforce any time soon.

Is childcare in your area reasonable, or a big ripoff?  And how did it influence your decision to stay/not stay at home?

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