Welcome to Kira's Blog

Welcome to My Blog

Life with young children can be challenging, but with the support and advice of friends, we can feel empowered and thankful for the blessing of being a Mom.

My musings are those of a self-proclaimed attachment-parenting Tiger mom, who juggles full-time mommying with a small (but growing!) baby-related business. I hope some of my thoughts help you
Enjoy your day, Enjoy your night, and Enjoy your kids!!!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Different Strokes for Different Folks

Today's blog is dedicated to cousin Hinda a"h, teacher par excellence.

Jewish tradition holds that each child is unique and must be taught according to his needs. Some children are visual learners, others are tactile learners, and still others are auditory learners. Some children need dynamic teachers with boisterous personalities, while others are inspired by quiet, calmer styles of personal attention. No one way is right for everyone - and a wise teacher will be able to tap into the particular needs of the individual child, in order to appropriately guide him.

The way we mother must also accommodate each child's individual personality. Especially those of us with more than one child must be careful to be flexible with our methods and treatment, so that each child gets what he needs. The way we discipline, challenge, engage, and protect our children can and should be different. Some children need a firm voice to guide them, while others feel stifled by tight discipline. Some children are naturally attentive to their parents' wishes, while others test behavioral boundaries. No one path will guide all children, and we mothers must be creative, open-minded, and patient to listen.

In my own experience, my son is a true little-man. He has an ego that must be stroked, or he throws tantrums. While I am guiding him to be more patient and less tantrum-prone, I must also protect him from his own anger and do my best to attend to his male-personality. When I raise my voice to him, he shuts down. But if I whisper in his ear what I'd like to see, he quickly changes his tune and wants to impress me. My daughter, on the other hand, does not listen when I whisper in her ear and continues to whine and act defiantly. She needs to be told what to do, in a firm voice. Each personality has its merits and requires a different style of parenting.

My cousin Hinda was an amazing teacher and guide. She knew how to be a listener and always had advice that was dead-on. I wish she were able to read my blogs and add her life-experience as pre-school teacher, mother and grandmother. She will be dearly missed.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

How I wonder

As baby gets bigger and starts to talk, he confronts us with increasing amounts of questions. “Where are you going, when are you coming back, why do you need to go there and who will you see…?” or more philosophical “where does the moon go during the day?” and “how come bubbles pop more easily than balloons?”

Children are naturally curious to learn about their new, fascinating world. Part of our job is to match their sense of wonder and encourage it. After all, your child is filled with infinite possibilities, especially with regard to his mind. The way you entertain his questions will affect how he places himself in the world. If you relate to his questions as annoying, intrusive or worse: stupid, then he will learn to stifle his sense of curiosity. If, on the other hand, you consider his questions, offer interested and interesting answers, and/or engage with him in finding solutions to his queries, then he will learn that the world is full of wonderful discoveries.

Yesterday, I discussed how “no” helps direct a child in the world. Today’s discussion points to the “yes” ideas – the things he will realize he CAN do, CAN consider, and what DOES work.  It opens doors of possibility in his space, so that he can grow to consider and create new realities for himself.

More thoughts relating to this idea are discussed in a fantastic book by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander, entitled The Art of Possibility (see link below this blog). A great, uplifting read, this book will help you explore new possibilities not only with your children, but with your marriage, your career, and with other relationships in your life. For those moms who could use a pick-me-up at the end of the day, with stimulating ideas to consider about building a better tomorrow, check out this book.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Say The Magic Word

There is a magic word for moms. It’s not the child’s magic word “please”. Mom’s magic word is “no”. Just as much as we need to teach our children to get comfortable with saying “please,” we have to get comfortable with saying “no”.  This is a pitfall for many moms, especially those of us who are naturally confrontation-averse.

“No” is the most important word in our small child’s life. It keeps him from danger, it teaches him limits, boundaries, and is the key to guiding him to appropriate behavior and relationships as he grows. Without “no” a child’s world is overwhelming and confusing. We all need limits to survive – just think how insignificant we adults feel when we contemplate the idea of an infinite universe. If we had no sense of boundaries of our home, country, and world, we’d feel emotionally and spiritually lost. We rely on the idea of the finite in order to live a normal life.

Teaching your child to be comfortable with “no” is the first step in helping him feel control over his environment. He can decide between options, he feels empowered to choose what he likes, and he can begin to decipher what is “right” and “wrong”.

For those moms who need some pointers on how to welcome “no” into their vocabulary, I recommend William Ury’s The Power of A Positive No (note the link on the side of this blog). This book is truly transformational and brings new perspective on the dynamic between “no” and “yes”.  In brief, he shares the idea that for every “no” that you say, there is an underlying “yes”. So, for example, when you tell your child “no, you may not have another lollypop before dinner” you are also saying “yes, you may have a healthy dinner very soon.” Or “no you may not play before doing homework” is also “yes, you may get your homework out of the way so that you can play until bedtime.” In more extreme examples, NO to running into the street means YES to playing safely, NO to interrupting mom on the phone means YES to the value of respect and patience. And NO to hitting means YES to learning other ways of handling aggression.

Of course, your children need to hear your “yes” choices as well. You must clearly communicate with your child what she CAN have, CAN do, and what behaviors you WILL reward. I don’t feel the amount of “yeses” necessarily need to balance the “no’s” (it’s really about quality not quantity) because yes is helpful in a different way… more on that in tomorrow’s blog :).

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Who's On First?

The biggest challenge to adding a new baby to your life is managing your needs: "your" in the plural sense: your personal needs and those of your baby.

Your new baby can take care of very few needs, so she relies on you, the exhausted-yet-exhilarated mother, to do the job. The problem is that you don't actually know what many of the baby's needs are, or when and how to take care of them. And the baby arrived with no way of communicating her needs, besides wailing and flailing her arms around that something must be done RIGHT NOW.

This communication breakdown is exacerbated by the fact that you have your OWN needs to take care of, as well. So, while baby is howling and turning bright red, you are perhaps wondering "will I EVER get to take a shower?!" as you pick her up for the Nth time to see what you can do. Time and again, you put your own needs aside, in order to take care of baby. This is noble, and right, and good, and also incredibly physically and emotionally taxing.

Parenting magazines, articles, internet postings, etc. will all advise mom to take some time for herself. After all, a weakened mom is not a great source of support to the helpless newborn. But this begs the question: how MUCH time is enough for mom to rejuvenate? And how long will the renewed energy last?

This dilemma is constant, day and night, for the first few months. Yes, months! Does mom get a babysitter every day for a few hours so she can shower, eat, and maybe-just-maybe brush her teeth without interruption? Or solicit a kindly relative or friend to volunteer and help out? And what if the baby is breastfeeding on-demand? Who will fill THAT role, while mom goes to her mandatory 6-week-postpartum doctor's appointment?

The repeated question : Whose needs should come first?

I've found that there is no right or wrong answer to finding the perfect balance. No matter which way I seem to have chosen, the other probably would have been just as right. And just as wrong. When the baby is inside and most of my needs are his, and his are mine, I may be uncomfortable (put lightly ;) , but at least I don't feel conflicted.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Myth of The Blinking Eye

Some of the most frustrating experiences I have had involve someone older than me saying "enjoy your children now - you'll see how quickly they grow up, in the blink of an eye!"

When my children are sick, crying, whining, or otherwise invading my peace-of-mind, I blink and blink and... nothing happens!!! They are NOT suddenly graduating high school, and I am NOT wondering where the years went. Instead, I'm wondering "how long, oh Lord?!!"

When we are in the midst of the stresses of early-child-rearing, the days can feel like years, not vice-versa. Yes, we can do our best to relax and appreciate these little miracles who share our space, our beds, our bodies, but the reality is that the tough times can seem to last forEVER.

If you have days that are endless, nights that go on for an eternity, and babies/children who just won't quit crying, know that you're not alone. If we hold hands (literally or figuratively) and give each other strength, then maybe it'll pass a little faster, and we WILL make it to that graduation everyone else is talking about :)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

On Advice

Whenever I encounter someone who is about to become a first-time-mom, I have one piece of advice, and it is always well-received:

Only listen to advice that makes sense to you.
(including this very statement!)

That's my advice. You're the mom. You know best. Period. Nobody can or should second-guess your decisions (with one caveat that perhaps your spouse may have some ideas of his own... but nobody else, that's for sure!) Being a mom is often overwhelming and definitely an extremely emotionally-challenging role. It's incredibly difficult to keep your wits about you and feel confident. But we owe it to ourselves and our children to be as strong as possible, and that means neither questioning our decisions nor feeling inferior to others who just do it differently.

This principle is especially true in the first year of baby's life. Both mom and baby are getting to know each other, a great challenge when the means of communication are limited, and both baby and mom are struggling just to get their basic needs met. Parents, in-laws, and older friends may offer lots of feedback, usually to empower themselves as "in the know" but not realizing that their comments may weaken mom's emotional or physical state. I learned to trust my instinct when my oldest was around 2 months old and rarely slept (more on that in another blog)... I was told by someone close in my life that I should try this, try that, and why-don't-I-do-X. My exhausted, bleary-eyed response ended up being one of the most empowering statements I have made as a mom: "when you've spent the same amount of time I have learning this baby, then you get to decide. Until then, I've invested more time getting to know her and have a better idea of what she needs." As an added point, this is true for moms of adopted children as well, since of course they spent the most time learning the baby and therefore have the best sense of what the baby needs.

I don't believe moms know best because of biology. I think moms know best because we spend the most time learning the baby in the first few weeks. For those dads or other caregivers who may spend more time with the baby than mom, please share your ideas/thoughts/replies. In most scenarios, it's mom who spends the most time with baby and is the most sensitive to getting to know how to take care of this new delicate creature.

Welcome to Kira's Blog

I decided to start a blog with helpful thoughts, ideas, and insights that involve being a mom - especially a stay-at-home-mom.

Over time, I'm learning about how to be a strong, dedicated, and effective mom to my kids, and I find that good advice and support from friends is the key to making-it-through-the-day. Books that are suggested, articles that speak to my spirit, and ideas that are shared among fellow-moms are invaluable.

This blog aims to help other moms and expand my network, to get more advice and share that which has been most helpful to me. I welcome all thoughts and feedback.

Enjoy your day, Enjoy your night, and Enjoy your kids!!!