Navigating Infertility On Social Media

Social Media is a blessing and a curse in that it connects you to your friends near and far, however that connection can be a version of everyone’s “best life” leaving out the real bits. Sometimes a highlight reel of everyone’s wins on the board can have an adverse affect on your ability to stay confident in your own life. In real life you see your friend’s vulnerability, their real moments … online you see headshots, promotions and baby announcements. Everyone is either: promoted, engaged, booked or fertile.

On the one hand I understand the desire to post the best pic of yourself when posting: because it’s the one you like and are confident with. On the other hand, I understand how damaging it is to constantly be exposed to “perfect” images of all of your friends. When I’m feeling bad about myself it’s harder to not compare myself to my friends, many of whom are innocently posting their best pic, no harm intended. I am also guilty when I post the one pic where you can’t see the bags under my eyes because the lighting was flattering – withholding the Gollum pictures taken at the exact same time.

I felt so confident about my body in February when this picture was taken: 
However, now that I’m juggling hormones and fertility treatments, I look like this:

I hate these pictures. I hate them, but they’re honest. This is what I look like in a bathing suit these days, and as you have probably noticed: it’s less six-packy than it used to be. That’s because I’m on these hormones to get me with-child. The annoying thing is all the other things the pill is supposed to do are working, everything except give me a baby. Side effects include: tender breasts (check), bloating(triple check), cramping (yep) … and then you get knocked up! Except, no. If a baby was in this tummy, I would love this picture. Instead its just my bloated, infertile body. Oh, also this lovely med is not taken orally …

IUI failed again. For the last time. I’m done with the IUI and ready for the IVF. Some people have success with the IUI, I myself am over it, it feels like one big tease. IUI is when the doctor takes frozen sperm and injects it into your uterus with a catheter while you ovulate. Fourteen days later you take a pregnancy test – that is, if your period hasn’t arrived. If Aunt Flow show, you know no.

This time we were assured the sperm sample was strong and that my cervix was “flowering” (the doc’s term for super ripe?).  Due to all the IUI failures before, I planned to lay down on the table after the procedure until they kicked me out. My goal was met when 20 mins later they did a knock on the door to encourage me to get a move on. Check. Next, I begged the front desk ladies to include me in their fertility prayers, and hi fived the gay couple I made friends with in the lobby as they nervously waited to interview surrogates. Then I smashed the rear view mirror on my car trying to reverse because I’m terrible at driving in reverse, well … driving in general.

Dr Knock Us Up said I can’t play basketball during treatments so I emailed my team to update them on my recent insemination. My Bulls pulled through and offered support and encouragement as I began the interminable wait for a positive test.

To pass the time I elevated my HelicopTiger Mom status from a comfortable 10 to a distract-me-please 12. I Amy Poehler’d at #TheHandful’s theater rehearsal and offered several times to demonstrate cartwheels at gymnastics. Surprisingly everyone declined my help.

We pass day 14 post IUI without a period + super swol boobies. I’m like this is it y’all, we got one!! I take a pregnancy test that day and it skyrockets to negative. Too soon, I’m pregnant I say to myself. I tell Baby Daddy I have a good feeling! And for the next three days I was so happy. Every morning I woke up bloodless felt like safety.

On day 14 I depart on a trip to visit one of my sorority sisters. Us Kappas are sisters for life. We are family. My Kappa Sister had just given birth and I needed to go love on them as they navigated the aftermath.

I’m on a 747 to Dallas and need to pee. Immediately I see the evidence: there is no baby in this tummy. Ducking* Aunt Flow always crashing the party lately. I am disappointed, I am sad. I can’t call or text BD so I just sit on the plane and feel sorry for myself.

Which was probably for the best because by the time we landed I had sufficiently mourned the situation and was ready to go to work. A house guest I am not, when I know there’s a baby I come in like a mercenary ready to work.

To some women, babies bring out fertility frustrations. Not me. I’m one of the ones who feeds off the baby’s energy. Not knowing I was experiencing a setback in the moment, my Kappa Sister hands me her JOY. This girl was such a ball of love and so intelligent, I was thrilled to get to spend time with her and my friends. Baby Girl did not disappoint, she was intelligent and adorable the entire visit. She was the perfect antidote to my Empty Womb Blues.

The transformation from Me to Mom and Dude to Dad happens instantly in the delivery room, but the DISCOVERY of who your Mama Bear is happens over time. It was thrilling and healing to support and encourage my sister in this transitional period. Watching her natural instincts and creative problem solving brought me back to when I was a new mom. I remembered feeling scared and unsure in the first few months and I got to watch my Kappa Sister navigate this with (seemingly) much more confidence.

Kappa Daughter spit up on me right away and that was it, we were bonded. Life long friends now. This girl is pushing up to crawl and engaging meaningfully in her coos, she is going to be a STAR. Even typing this I feel my smile when I think about this sweet girl.

To their credit the family pulled off MANY delicious meals during my stay and I left full and probably even a few pounds heavier. When #TheHandful was born we were not capable of cooking meals for people, I truly don’t know how they pulled that off not just once, but a few times.  The love of longtime friends, a new baby and the feeling of a good meal in your tummy can make anything better. Visiting my people revived my soul and reminded me that love and friendship remain constant despite life’s hiccups and setbacks. I left them feeling full in my heart, proud of my Kappa Sister for becoming the Rockstar Mom I knew she would be, and grateful to get to see it firsthand. Turns out real life connection once again is the antidote to online woes. Hugs > Likes.

My family picked me up at LAX and on the ride home we dialed up Dr Knock Us Up. He informed us that after our family vacation in August, we can begin the IVF. First up, MORE HORMONES! Yayyyyy I get to be bloated and emotional for even more time! And this time, I get to inject myself with needles!!! Awesome. Regardless of what it looks like, I will absolutely be transparent about this journey. In the age of photo-editing apps, my hormone bloats will remain untouched. If Cool Mom Jamie is anything, she’s real.

And again, I ask you to consider posting the less flattering pic in hopes of connecting to a friend feeling the same way. I love your white teeth and lack of wrinkles, trust me, but we’re not Kardashians, we’re friends and friends can be vulnerable.

*Does anyone ever mean Ducking?

How Do You Handle Other People’s Kids?

How Do You Handle Other People’s Kids?

Every time I feel confident in my parenting, a new situation that I never anticipated pops up and rattles my game. Recently there was an incident at a pool party that left me questioning the etiquette behind handling other people’s kids.

What’s everyone’s go-to for when a friend’s kid roundhouse kicks your kid in the head, or pushes your kid into the pool? Personally, I’m a freezer. I do a deer in headlights before I respond. I don’t consider myself a natural parent, I’m more studied, so when situations arise, I have to draw upon what I’ve read vs instinctively knowing what to do. We were just at a pool party with a bunch of preschoolers when my nightmare occurred: a good-swimmer pulled my non-swimmer underwater …

I have a rule that if my kid is in the water, I’m in the water – for situations exactly like this. In this instance #TheHandful was using a pool noodle, so I let her drift further than arms reach away from me feeling safer knowing she had a flotation device. I’m about five strokes from my daughter. Out of the corner of my eye, I see her friend jump in the water and swim out to her. When Swimmer reaches #TheHandful, Swimmer goes underwater and pulls #TheHandful under water too, ripping her off her flotation device. Holy shit.

Of course I swim out to my kid, but as I do, I’m mentally scanning everything I know in my brain about how three year oldsprocess the world. I realized that this was not malice, this was a breakdown in communication. Of course a kid who can swim thinks being pulled under water is fun – while the kid who can’t swim is terrified at the thought of going underwater. The swimmer thinks this is fun, Swimmer likes going underwater and wants to include everyone in the fun. #TheHandful meanwhile is obviously terrified, and she’s angry at her friend too. I grab both kids and swim them over to the steps and then explain/translate the situation for them both.

I tell Swimmer: “Hey I know you’re trying to have fun together in the water, but #TheHandful can’t swim and for kids who can’t swim that’s not fun that’s scary and dangerous. I know you didn’t mean to scare her but can you see that she’s upset and scared?” Swimmer nods.

I turn to #TheHandful: “I know that was scary and you’re upset right now but I want you to know that Swimmer did not mean to scare you, to Swimmer swimming is fun and exciting and Swimmer was trying to play with you, not trying to scare you. Mommy will always swim out to save you, I’m always going to get you. ” My kid stops crying when she understands that Swimmer didn’t mean to scare her.

I pause. I look around. I then notice Swimmer’s mom and I panic. I’m getting nervous that Swimmer’s mom is going to disagree with how I handled the situation because I realize that while we’re friends I have no idea how discipline works for them in their house. Like, I know I’m an over-explainer but what if that doesn’t fly with them? What if she thinks I crossed the line and shouldn’t have spoken to her kid at all? Thankfully though, Swimmer’s mom was grateful that I took that one for the team because she said she was horrified and didn’t know what to do!

What about you guys? What do you do when your friend’s kids break a rule or hurt someone and you’re the adult on the scene?  Anyone ever yell at someone else’s kid? Do you go get the parent and have them handle it? Drop me a note, I’d really love personal experiences relating to this one!

The Final Installment of the Chronicles of UriNarnia: Lights For Days

The Final Installment of the Chronicles of UriNarnia: Lights For Days

Alternate Title: How We Rid Our House of Diapers for Good

I won’t bury the lead: we are a diaper free house. Three years to the day we brought our #TheHandful home and we are not buying diapers – unless these fertility visits work and we are blessed with another Future Leader. 

My Dears, it’s been a while since I’ve posted and that’s because we’ve been really busy lately with: birthdays, TV appearances and volunteer work. I know I left everyone hanging with that #infertility post, but nothings’ changed on that front other than three rounds of failed IUI. Which brings me back to the real news and that is: WE ARE A DIAPER FREE HOUSE!

We are also the most lit house I’ve ever been in and by that I mean we have tap lights stickering the wall from her bed to the toilet. At each touch she lights her path to the potty. All the lights are below the doorknob, making for a very bright and odd-looking potty path. Lookin’ like the movie Trolls in our hallway.

In the weeks approaching her birthday we reminded her every single night that by her third birthday we wouldn’t be buying any more diapers. We then showed her the remaining diapers left and then every night we were closer to Diaper Free, we showed her the count so she could see for herself. On the final night the night we had our last diaper, Baby Daddy tried to chicken out, but I Tiger Mom’d my way through the disagreement. I said NO MORE DIAPERS SLEEPING IN THE BED.

That settled it, the next night it would be ON.

All day during the day on DF-Night I found reasons to remind her that there would be no diapers that night. If she asked me to play dolls with her, I worked the night sleep into our imaginative play.  When she wanted water at lunch, I explained how water is in our pee. During dinner we reminded her about paying attention to our bodies for early signs we need to use the toilet.

We reduced her fluids after 6 pm in preparation for a 7:30 pm bedtime.  And then began our normal routine: Baby Daddy brushing her teeth; me reading her stories; Baby Daddy coming in for their nightly dance.  And then, it was time to roll the dice.

We turned the lights out in her room to make it very dark and then did two practice walks from her bed to the bathroom. Her stool, the toddler potty ring and a few more tap lights were all in position to make this an easy process. Then we tucked her in and kept our door wide open all night.  Total silence.

All seems well.  Our old asses try to watch a show before bed but get tired. Obviously we crash at 7:55pm.

I get up for my 2 am pee – if you’ve ever texted me after 8pm and received a 2am response, that’s because I use my phone to flashlight me to the bathroom – I check our NEST camera and see that she’s been asleep this whole time. Ok. Great. I go back to bed.

Next thing I know I hear “I HAVE TO PEE!!!!” being shouted down the hallway. Baby Daddy and I bolt out of bed to outside her door.  He coaches her out of bed and to open her door and then we take her to the toilet. While he takes her to the potty, I rush to the bed to check if it’s dry. She has gray bedding so it was easy to see that bed was completely DRY.   I look at my phone and see that it’s 7 am. I couldn’t believe it, it worked!!

The next night same thing. We had an accident the following night, night 3 of diaper free. It was after that accident I learned we should have put a pee pad over her mattress. Live and learn, or better yet read my blog and learn from all my mistakes!  She woke up covered and I mean covered in pee.  Drenched.  I gave her a big pee hug and told her we would try again that night before throwing her in the tub to clean the 700 gallons of urine off of her.

After a quick Target run to pick up some new bedding and a few pee pads, we didn’t skip a beat – this time we left folded blankets and a clean pee pad next to her bed so if we had to do another total bedroom makeover at midnight we could be quick.

So far the blankets and peepad have remained at the foot of her bed, she’s been calling out to us in the middle of the night to come help her pee!

Here are my 5 tips for finally ridding your house of the diapers:

5) Seems obvious, but don’t attempt night training if you’re not 100% confident with daytime potty use. There’s no point in challenging your kid to wake themselves up for a pee if they can’t figure it out when they’re awake to begin with.

4) Count down the days to Diaper Free together. This allows the child to warm up to the idea, thinking about it when it’s less scary and it allows the child to come up with questions for you about the process.

3) Count down the diapers. I showed her every night before DF night that her diaper supply was decreasing. She knew her last night of having a diaper was her last night and even said “after this no more diapers”. This let me know she understood what was happening.

2) PEE PAD. We’re a few weeks in to DF now but I still keep the pee pad on her bed because I know kids bed wet at all ages and drying her mattress out the first time was fragrant and took forever.

1) Collaborate. Work with your kid on their fears. Mickey expressed a significant fear of the dark when we were practicing walking to the potty. We asked her if night lights would help with that and she agreed that the would help. Then we put up the hallway of lights together so that she was physically part of the process. This relieved her anxiety and empowered her to be her own hero.

That’s what I got folks. Oh and something my mom told me which I feel the need to pass along: keep a FEW emergency diapers handy in the event of stomach flu. She warned me projectile diarrhea can only be contained in a diaper. Words to live by.

Happy potty training, folks!

Unexplained Secondary Infertility

SUCKS

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with my period. Single me was happy to see her like “hey girl dodged a bullet this month” – however for the past two years I’ve developed a genuine hatred of this monthly reminder that here I am not pregnant. Again. Because #TheHandful was a surprise coupled with one of my favorite shows being MTV’s TEEN MOM OG, I naively thought getting knocked up was easy. Turns out like most things on this journey, I was wrong …

It all started when my friend showed up to Mommy & Me Class with her months-old baby and announced that she was pregnant with number two. I remember feeling a surge of excitement and a twinge jealousy. For me mentally whenever I feel jealous that’s a cue for me to pay attention to myself and do a check in.  I said self, what’s this jealousy about? Self said it was because it was time for us to have another one too. I brought up my feelings to Baby Daddy who was, to put it bluntly, horrified. Baby making is a team sport and my teammate was not down for child creation at this time, arguing that our five month old was a handful for us as it was.

While the discussion was tabled, I tried many different ways to coerce my partner into relations. Eventually he came around and things turned consensual. And then things turned into work. Tracking, peeing on sticks, praying, and doing the deed. That’s why it’s called “the deed” btw, because it’s a damn job when you’re not making a baby. All around us while our friends’ bellies grew so did our concerns.

After a particularly emotional menstruation, I begged Baby Daddy to visit a fertility specialist with me. Ignorantly I thought that we were having trouble because Baby Daddy is approaching 40. That’s it. They’ll wash his sperm and the magic will happen. Just no, me, no.

The first thing they do at a fertility clinic is give you a vaginal ultrasound to check your follicles. Not your pubes (bc you laser, obvs), but your egg follicles.   When you ovulate, your body releases an egg from the follicles. You want healthy ones. I have those I learned thanks to this test. Ok great. Next they take your blood.

They also ask your partner to “deposit a sample” which means get their sperms in a cup. Then they run you through a fertility lecture that covers anything you might have forgotten from Mr. Pane’s 7th Grade Bio Class. My youth (a spritely 32 years) and relatively healthy prior pregnancy were clocked and by the end of our visit my doctor was feeling optimistic about our situation.

He devised a fertility plan for us and told me to get some ovulation pee sticks and to call him when I’m ripe. The plan was to do two rounds of IUI, which is intrauterine insemination … or for you crass folk, it’s turkey basting time. Easy enough.

Then he got my blood work back.

Your girl has an autoimmune disease: Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.

Guess whose body can’t carry a baby? Olympic gold sperm ain’t no match for a hostile uterus.

Slow down, whaaaaa? I know, I do amazing back flips and am super skinny – completely not your stereotypical hypothyroid patient. I do have freaky cold hands and feet and am tired a lot, but also I’ve always been that way so I never knew it was something to investigate. Typically a woman with my condition seeks help because she has unexplained weight gain and that gets her into the doc.

Anyway, I’m on meds now for life, currently on 100 mcg of Synthroid if you must know. I hate taking Advil and vitamins, I legit can’t believe I’m on daily meds for my life now.

So they tell me once this big bad Thyroid gland is regulated that I might have a better chance of getting pregnant. Yay. However that does involve having to go through IVF …

Anyway this Suckfest is apparently pretty common. I could’ve told you that based off the packed, standing-room only waiting room at the Western Fertility office but I confirmed it with my case manager Femma. Femma said yep, this is very common.

And then there’s the social aspect of it … your friends start to NOT tell you when they’re pregnant. I have to say that is the shit moment for me right there, the moment when I realize I’m the last to know about a pregnancy because the mom is afraid the news will upset me. That’s embarrassment overload for me. Because the truth is, I’m so fucking happy for my pregnant friends. So happy for them – their pregnancies have nothing to do with my hostile womb. I love babies, I love their families and I’m a doula for the love of love. Doulas love babies and mommies and daddies.

And the other side of the coin, the relentless: when are you having another baby questions. I find responding with honesty and transparency just kinda opens up the dialogue and eventually makes you closer to the person, but that’s me. I know other women who are embarrassed about their fertility problems and don’t want to discuss them. Actually, if anything I try to talk about our fertility problems as much as possible because I’m hoping I’ll find that mom who breathes a sigh of relief and says “me too”.

For now we’re tabling the fertility treatments and just trying to manage my Thyroid. But for all of my fans who lovingly ask me when we plan on having another and for my beautiful daughter who asks for a sibling constantly: we’re trying, it’s hard and disappointing, but we’re trying!

Yes And: How a Rule in Improv Comedy is the Ultimate Parenting Hack

How a Rule in Improv Comedy is the Ultimate Parenting Hack.

Improv Comedy is all about reacting to information and using it to keep the scene alive – much in the way that parenting is reacting to information and using it to keep your kids alive!

When I first moved to LA, I was truly torn between becoming a Vince or an Ari. While I was interviewing at talent agencies for a desk, I was also taking improv comedy classes at UCB (Upright Citizens Brigade). I continued taking improv comedy classes after I started working at a talent agency (answering phones, fetching coffee and reading scripts) using it as a creative outlet in my otherwise busy but routine life.

I remember my first day of class very specifically because I was so nervous and had an amazing pedicure. Joel Spence was my teacher and predictably everyone in the class wanted to be an actor*.

I learned you should always wear closed toed shoes to do improv because it’s a full contact sport after Joel chose me to demonstrate the First Rule of Improv. The First Rule of Improv Comedy is: you always reply or agree to what your partner said and then expand upon what they said with the phrase “Yes, and …”.

In our example, Joel opened the scene with: “It’s so nice to finally get out of the house without the kids, shall we dance before the bride & groom cut the cake?”. That’s an amazing opening statement because he is telling me, his partner as well as the audience who we are, where we are and what we are doing. My job as his partner was to agree that we were indeed at a wedding and are a married couple with kids etc, with a statement of “yes” and then I have to help move the scene along with some other helpful information: the “and”.

So I flung myself at him for a spin, which he was not expecting (such an enthusiastic interpretation of the “Yes And” rule). He fumbled and stomped on my poor pedicured Birkenstocked tootsies. I took it like a champ and kept attempting to Elaine it as if we were at a wedding and even threw in some “And” dialogue working in the clumsiness: “Looks like we’re out of practice since our own wedding honey”.

And that was all I needed to do.

That line kept the scene moving and basically gave the ball back to him to keep going which is the main challenge of improv: don’t let the scene die. To explain “yes and” full circle imagine this scenario: Joel invites me on stage, uses his above dialogue, but this time I reply: “No we’re not this is Election Day and we’re at the polls.” That kinda kills the scene, doesn’t it? Now we have nowhere to go and everyone (including the audience) is confused. Fail.

The rule is helpful to remind the participants that every line does not have to be the punchline and that the most helpful way to contribute to a scene is to just keep the ball in the air and agree with your scene-mates.

What in the hell does this have to do with parenting? Well in my opinion, kinda everything. Before #TheHandful could communicate with sign language and words, she used babbling and cooing to try to talk. I used my improv “yes and” training to basically echo her cooing and coo back to her with similar and then different sounds. I was agreeing with her that she was telling me something. I was treating her coos seriuosly and trying to communicate back with her, basically making her Joel and letting her set the rules that I would then agree to and expand upon.

When she became verbal and was able to use words this turned into repeating words back to her and giving her new words. When she could use sentences, this became letting her write the rules to the games and then helping her form these arbitrary rules into a fun game we can play together. Because again, if I kept replying to her babbles with “No, we say BOOK” then that shuts her down and ends the communication.

Yes And is also a great technique to use to get your kid talking in the car after school. You can reply with “and then what happened” to get them to open up when they stall on a story they’re starting to tell. Agree with what they’re saying, don’t challenge it just agree and then ask for more. Of course tall tales will be told but sometimes the tall tales give you insight into their minds – sometimes details will change because their little memories process things differently at different times – but the ability to get them chattering is definitely enhanced with some Improv Comedy hacking.

Wanna be popular with the kids at birthday parties and playdates? “Yes And” helps here too, turns out all the kids love being agreed with! Get on their level with the yes and then help them make their games more fun with the “and.” Simple? Yes. If you see them all bouncing a ball, you can agree that bouncing is fun and then maybe help them try to dribble it like a basketball.

I actually can’t say enough good things about taking an Improv Comedy class yourself, I found it to be an amazing experience. But if getting up on stage is not your thing, then consider using some Improv Comedy principles to help make play time with your kids a little more fun!

Here’s a link to my UCB101 Graduation Show, taught by the now even more famous: Joel Spence.

* Everyone in the class wanted to be an actor except for one girl who was and still is an attorney and we have stayed friends – and I know she reads this blog and will be annoyed I lumped her into the actor category so she gets this asterisk of acknowledgment.

WHAT’S HOT AND WHAT’S NOT FOR PARENTING IN 2018

Alright MON, I’m back from Jamaica and tan AF. While frolicking in the ocean, I had time to digest all the information I’ve had thrown at me in recent weeks and the result is this little informational snack I made for you.

I’ve been to seven conferences, panels and lectures since the beginning of the year and while it was tiring (esp on the doubleheader day) I learned a LOT. And, I’m fired up!

5 ways to up your parenting game with the most current information in the game:

5) Neuroplasticity is so hot right now. What’s that? In short it’s a concept that the brain is malleable and always changing. Much like what you eat affects your weight, what you experience affects your brain, constantly. What’s that mean for you? A few things, for starters: talking, reading and singing to your children even as they move through the “Terrible 3’s” can do wonders for you child’s vocabulary and their intrapersonal skills. Explain their environment to them, tell them how you’re cooking their eggs, point out the Fireman and talk about Fire trucks. Narrating their big feelings for them is VITAL: “I can see you are frustrated that Billy took the doll from you, that would make me upset too, can we find a new toy? Or do you want to ask Billy if we can all take turns” while they cry after a toy is taken from them. You’re helping them put words to their feelings and move through tantrums into more productive action steps. When they get that help, their brains are able to self soothe through the tantrum and refocus on problem solving. That gets encoded into their brains as a way to solve conflict. And, the best part is because of our good buddy Neuroplasticity this tactic can (and really should) be employed at all ages because even if you start at age 5 you can still cover ground. The concept is that most issues can be over come with therapy and parenting adjustments AND that problems (for example trauma) can develop if there are adverse experiences or neglectful care.

4) Screen Time: so NOT hot right now. Remember our buddy neuroplasticity? Ol Buddy Ol Pal also works against things. This is where the ever confusing screen time topic gets science-y. There are well-funded studies correlating increased behavior problems, attention issues and increased rates of depression with exposure to lots of screen time. Yikes. We no likey. But also we all KINDA knew that, we’ve heard it before. So what’s so bad about the alphabet game with Elmo? Basically the brain is tricked into instant gratification, it gets bright colors, stimulating sounds and fun characters (aka BRAIN SUGAR) for no work at all. Even if the child is playing an “educational” game, the brain isn’t getting its workout. What does this do? Well it causes the brain to get frustrated and have a hard time with things that aren’t instantly gratifying aka being social, sitting in a classroom, eating out a restaurant etc. If it’s not fun noises and bright colors then they’re not interested.

The second problem with screen time is HOW the screen time is used. If the parent is next to the child and participating in the activity together, some of the detrimental affects can be neutralized. If you’re driving in the car and hand your kid the phone or the iPad because you don’t want to deal with them, then you’re saying to your child “you’re not important, please be quiet and invisible” and guess what, they shut up. So instead of interacting in the car and talking about their day, processing their feelings and increasing their vocabularies, they are disappearing into bright lights and fun noises and tuning out completely. Often times having dinner at a restaurant is challenging because the child demands an iPad to be quiet and the parents are too tired to fight with the child so they give in and now the child is not having a conversation at the dinner table. They’re not watching how all the adults and other children interact and picking up on social cues, they’re not increasing their vocabularies by hearing other adults talk. In short they’re being told again to disappear. The problem with this of course is, it’s harder for them to break away from the tech and back into reality and thus the cycle cycles.

That said, when you are flying you can 100% break out the iPad, whatever it takes to get through the flight! And, if you keep the iPad fresh and rarely used, it’s a great “special treat” to look forward to on flights. I’m literally typing this on the plane while my Future President is tracing letters with Elmo on our iPad Mini. And if our previous layovers are any indicator, I’ll have a nice little fight on my hands to get this iPad back from her. FML.

Concerned about screen time in your house? Take this REALLY comprehensive quiz to see if it’s a problem and then work on ways to cut back if it’s a thing.  I like this quiz because it breaks down the level of ESS you might be dealing with and gives you steps to help cut back.

“In short, recognizing and addressing overstimulation and ESS from screen time can have a profound impact on mood, focus, and behavior in children, teens—and even young adults—in a matter of weeks, while restoring peace and harmony in the home.” – PSYCHOLOGYTODAY.com

3) Early Intervention: SMOKING hot right now.

It has now been proven that 90% of a child’s brain is developed BEFORE age 3. The days of “wait and see” are officially gone thanks to our friend Neuroplasticity. “Wait and see” was a popular approach of physicians up until very recently and that was a philosophy that in early childhood, most issues sort themselves out and there’s very little to be concerned about. Think: everyone is normal. What the recent groundbreaking studies have shown however, is it’s the exact opposite. Notice something that makes you question your child’s development? Get them checked ASAP. Children diagnosed with Autism for example can make remarkable gains when they receive intervention at age 2 instead of later in childhood. Gross motor concerns? Get into the physical therapist asap: the recovery is much faster and the ability to overcome the obstacle is increased significantly the earlier the child receives the therapy. This goes 700% for a child who has experienced trauma or has a high ACE score. Any foster or adoptive moms want to be on the look out for signs of trauma so they can get the kids into therapy asap. Neuroplasticity and time are our friends in all these cases.

2) Parental Mental Health: getting hotter!

For the most part the parenting community is embracing the concept of “Happy family, thriving child” and thus taking steps to ensure the family is happy. In the LA area I’ve seen an increase in child education classes, seminars and programs aimed at teaching parents skills to be effective parents. On my way to Jamaica I read an incredible book “How Children Succeed” and a fascinating study was reported on in the book. Infant rats whose moms gave them plenty of cuddles after a stressful experience were as able as their non-stressed counterparts to solve mazes and interact normally. The infant rats whose mothers were not nurturing after a stressful experience were unable to adventure out into the mazes and presented as extremely anxious. The scientists learned that the ability of the mother to soothe her offspring was a direct indicator of future “success” (I mean they’re rats so like yay successful completion of your maze!). In humans they’re finding that children who are able to connect emotionally to their caregivers in extremely stressful situations are better able to overcome future obstacles such as poor education or multiple ACE’s (adverse childhood experiences) than the children who had to experience such negative things by themselves without support. As moms and dads our role to comfort our children might actually turn out to be the most important thing we can do for them. Happy parents do this well. Stressed and overwhelmed parents obviously have a harder time being able to be emotionally available. As a Doula part of my job is to refer clients to specialists and I’ve noticed a big increase in the demand for therapists. Often times these moms and dads just want professional guidance on how to help their families thrive and their marriages remain strong. But the fact remains that helping parents be their best allows the children to operate at their maximum potential.

1) Mindfulness: so hot right now.

If you pop into any therapy office in LA right now you’re bound to hear the term “mindful” thrown around. In my experience people have a few different definitions of the term, I’ve seen it mean “to consciously check in with the world around you [ie get off the iPhone]” and I’ve seen therapists use it as a parenting philosophy wherein the parents empathize with the child first and react as adults second and then I’ve seen it thrown around the yoga studio as a lifestyle choice looking like a lot of meditating. That said, all those definitions kinda fit together anyway and regardless of which one you’re using, you’re hearing it in the LA area right now. But basically the concept is that as parents we need to be present to teach our children and connect to with them – and we simply cannot do that if we’re tagging each other in memes and watching RHOBH. And off that, mindfulness is a concept of self care – in that we as moms and dads need to be operating at our best if we’re to parent at our best and the only way to do that is to drop the phone. And if you need another reason to unplug, my chiropractor said her business is booming thanks to “Tech Neck” … yikes!

That’s what I can report back for us from my research and conferences so far this year – also don’t forget that this information grows and changes daily as more and more research is done. I can never get enough information so rest assured I’ll be attending every event I am invited to (and can find). Now if you’ll excuse me I need to find some aloe for my shoulders.

SOURCES:

I am incredibly passionate about parents doing their own research, therefore my sources are listed below so you can have the information for your own research.

 

 

Cool Brain Builder

I’m always looking for ways to keep #TheHandful engaged OFF screen.  Research shows children need quality time away from the screens for healthy development.  I reached out to my girl at Education.com for some ideas on how to work on her fine motor skills offline.  My girl came through with these great mazes that I copy/pasted for you below.  Just print them out and let your Future Leader try to trace a path with a crayon or pencil.  By showing them how to solve the maze you get to work collaboratively together and strengthen your connection to each other. The ones below aren’t the only mazes, just head to their website for other brain building activities for your Little CEO.

Enjoy staying warm with you children as you celebrate the snow with this Snowman Maze. For more captivating preschool activities, go to Education.com!

PRINT THIS ONE OUT:

ANSWER KEY:

Chronicles in Potty Training: Part (Doing Number) 2

Or: 5 Signs you Might Have a Strong Willed Child

I’m always trying to help you guys by sharing my mistakes and nonsense as well as the super dope genius moves that make me average AF. I can claim neither here so I must instead pivot to how to recognize if your kid is like mine and you need to chill out with your “training” and let your kid call the shots.

After about a week plus of no accidents, we noticed a pattern developing. She was more than happy to go to the potty to pee, but was perfectly content to hold number 2 until she got her nighttime diaper. I had no idea how to remedy this. I turned again to our preschool for guidance and the teachers again told me to keep my helicopter on the ground and let her do her thing.

To refresh you we’ve been doing no diapers during the day, a diaper for sleep. One of my favorite potty cues that she gives is when she hides in my closet and looks at all my purses. That is her #2 tell.

One night we were watching The Boxtrolls in bed together before Daddy came home and she goes “mommy I want to look at your purses”. My helicopter lifts off the ground and is like THIS IS IT. Then I recalled my advise from the teachers and was like ok ok ok what do I do here, I can’t do anything I am going to nothing. Ok I am going to suggest. I am going to suggest here, that’s the plan. “Why don’t you sit on your potty before you come back to finish the Box Trolls” I said in my creepy yet adorable Boxtroll voice. It doesn’t count as parenting when the instruction is coming from a Boxtroll. She answered “Yes” in her Boxtroll voice and I don’t know what made me prouder: that she does voices, or that I was right I can talk Boxtroll and she’ll listen.

She asked for privacy and walked down to her potty. I heard a scream. A legit scream. I run down the hall and I see her standing next to her potty screaming and pointing at a gigantic poop that missed the toilet. She told me she started to poop and panicked so she stood up and that’s how it got there. I hate poop y’all. Hate it. I threw out the rug. I wasn’t touching that shit (pun intended). We did a poopoo dance and I said “yo next time stay seated and it will land in the potty”. The next day she did it and just like with #1 she has been very consistent since.

So while the story of the poop on the ground is gross and awesome, I figured it might be more helpful to let you know what a “strong willed” child is like so that you can maybe avoid the headache of trying to train a kid who probably wants to train herself.

5 Signs You Might Have a Strong Willed Child

If your kid fits the following descriptions, keep your helicopter on the ground:

1) Asks “Why” a lot. Strong willed kids need the reasons behind pretty much every limit you set. When I say to Mickey “Hey don’t run by the pool” she always says “Why I can’t run? I can run on the grass though yes?”

2) Whenever you do offer reasons to do or not do something, your negotiator finds loopholes and technicalities within EVERYTHING. If you tell The Handful not to eat grapes, she’ll grab a raisin and say “I can eat this”.

3) They like to make up the games and the rules and like to tell people where to stand etc – some people say Bossy, I prefer Leader. They’re leading people to their vision!

4) Flat out refusal when it comes to things they don’t want to do. Screw capability, it’s all about control here. They might know their colors or their numbers backwards and forwards but when they don’t want to show you which one is yellow they either pretend not to hear you, completely change tasks or bust out into a rager on the floor. The Handful can run across the balance beam when she chooses, or she can demand a coach’s hand just because she’s in the mood.

5) They move at their pace. Interesting things get all their energy and attention, not interesting things or y’know, walking to the car can take a glacial pace. The Handful’s aunt caught this early on. I was concerned The Handful didn’t know her colors but she was showing her aunt and grandma all the colors correctly. Her aunt told me that she obviously knows them, the issue was she didn’t want me quizzing her on them so when I would say “show me yellow” she would pretend not to know. I can’t even you guys. I was like omg she knew the whole time and was legit tricking me.

While the above list can seem general, the strong willed kid will be “extra” of those. You’ll be like oh wow all five of those really describe my kid if you have a strong willed one. If that’s your Future Leader then from our experience I can say let them take over. Learning this about The Handful has made setting limits and expectations way easier. That’s all I got for ya, I’ll keep sharing as I keep learning (and cleaning poop).  Oh and this, I met this super nice chick in the bathroom who was so wise when she counseled me “I’ve never seen a seven year old in diapers”.  Yes.  YOU CAN DO IT!!!

Also, how are you veteran moms doing the public bathrooms?  How do you poop them on the go?  Do I carry around a to-go potty?  What are my moves here people, I’m only used to home games …!!!!строительный гипермаркет метр квадратныйооо толковая реклама мошенникикастрюля для каши с двойным дном купить

Chronicles in Potty Training: The Pee Pee Diaries

How we got off the Struggle Bus to Potty Town and landed some pee in the potty.

Peer pressure and fancy big girl undies with some strategic bribery was the magic cocktail, however it was more than that too. I’ll start from day one of potty training to get you to here where we’re finally having some successes.

When I was still taking Mommy & Me Class, a lot of the moms brought up the concept of “diaper free before age 3”. Self explanatory. Sounds legit, I said – and feeling pressure from my teacher and the other moms we began the process SUPER early around the 14 month mark. So, well before her second birthday we had a full potty ready to go. I should remind you #TheHandful did not walk until she was 16 or 17 months old, but peer pressure works on moms too and I wanted to get it going. As you can imagine there was zero success.

I have a friend who has a child a little older than #TheHandful who wrote a blog post about taking a break from potty training with her little one and I was like ok I think that sounds right for us. After a few months of no results we abandoned the whole thing too.

During that time my mom friends were all actively engaged in various forms of potty training. One involved WAKING your kid during the night to schedule a pee time and then put them back to sleep. Anything that involves me putting my kid back down to sleep is a hard NO for me. Pass. But these conversations were gnawing at me making me feel like I was lazy for not trying anymore. So to feel less lazy, I did the laziest thing I could and put out the little Bjorn potties in each bathroom. Potties are available and accessible and I’ll say nothing just let her explore.

To get through the days she was living in diapers and on the occasions she was diaper free she was happy to hold her pee as long as possible until she was given a diaper. So on the one or two random experiment days when I had her be diaper free for the day, she just waited til her naps when she was given her only diaper and would pee then. Just keep failing, just keep failing was all I could feel about myself. I don’t know what it is about looking at other moms but other moms always seem to have it going on. Why does it seem like everyone is potty trained when I know logically there are kids still in diapers. Perception is not reality when it comes to gauging what’s going on with any one given milestone.

Operation Visible Potty was in effect when we initially toured our preschool. The director of the school met with #TheHandful and described her as strong-willed. She noted that strong-willed children cannot be coerced into potty training, but that they have to arrive at the decision themselves. She told me to back way off (which truth be told I was doing NOTHING at that point anyway in complete confusion) and let #TheHandful call the shots entirely. Good enough for me, I already don’t know what I’m doing and tell me more about how my child is strong-willed, is that code for future genius?

Then, in September, right before #TheHandful turned 2.5 she started preschool. She’s one of the younger ones in her class that has two or three potty trained girls in it. Let me tell you something, when two cool girls from your class are showing off their big girl underwear and taking trips to the potty all of the sudden your Doc McStuffins pull ups feel super lame. I know this because that’s literally what she told me: “I don’t want to wear a diaper like a baby, I want to wear big girl undies like my friends”. Quick trip to the Target and ten pairs of Elsa Anna undies later we had some excitement about the potty going on!! This is the most potty-action we’ve had in months!!!

Here we are, big girl undies obtained, picking out her outfit for the next day and I start freaking out. I didn’t train her, she has not peed once on our potty and I’m gonna send her off to her poor teachers and be like “She’s not wearing a diaper, good luck bye!”

Because that’s exactly what happened. I legit packed her up a spare outfit, walked her into the classroom and said “No diaper today, bye”. And the two teachers look up in surprise and beg: “Has she gone yet in the potty?” so then I pull my Cool Mom Shades on to hide before answering “Errr, nope!” with some false confidence. And then I ran. Bye Mickey-Felicia.

Because I’m the best partner ever, I didn’t even tell Baby Daddy about this decision to send her diaper-less until AFTER I dropped her off. If he even breathed a word of caution or negative about the plan I might have abandoned it – rather ask forgiveness than permission! And he did exactly that when I told him, he was all OMG is that even allowed you’re evil! Maybe, but I had a gut instinct to just let #TheHandful do her thing, she had requested the undies after all. And if there’s anything we all know it’s that when I have a gut instinct it absolutely results in some type of blog post.

Three hours later it’s time for pick up and I’m floored to see she’s in her original outfit and completely dry. Our teacher informs me that she had no accidents but she held it all day. As much as I expected that, I still felt it was a small victory because she demonstrated she didn’t need me parroting next to her “REMEMBER YOU’RE NOT WEARING A DIAPER” every thirty seconds. We get home and she pees in her pull ups, but I go right back to the undies after her nap.

Day two, same thing. Day three she pees at school! Because she pees at school I buy her a Barbie doll (because FEMINISM) and let her take her nap in her undies not a diaper. No accident. That night we promise her more rewards or treats for future potty deposits.

Day four, holds all day. Day five, accident at school. She took a few trips to the bathroom but timed it off or something and post potty trip had an accident in the classroom. No biggie.

Day six and day seven she pees in our home potty. Now only diapers at night.

Day eight we go to Gymnastics without a diaper. She is able to hold herself on the bar and do tumbling with no accidents. We come home and she goes to the potty.

So here we are decently comfortable taking trips without diapers with occasional accidents. I’d say we’re on the way to success but the biggest factor was letting #TheHandful lead. Our school director was 100% right when she said back way off of this one and let her do it. Letting her do it has been considerably more pleasant than the alternative and has been the only way we have seen results.

What potty-training techniques have worked for you? Were all your kids the same? Drop me a note, I could use all the advice you have!!промышленные фильтры для очистки воды из скважиныметоды чистки зубов001 гсу