Taking care of one baby may seem hard to manage, but when mothers have multiple children, they may have a harder time connecting with each child individually.
Trish has been raising three kids for the past six years. She is going to share three ways to connect with your kids when you feel like you have so much on your to-do list.
I am the mom of three wonderful, wild and precious little boys. My boys are always on the go, so sometimes I feel like I am not connecting with them like I want to be. I know that they know I love them, but I want them to feel and see that love. So here are some things I do when I'm feeling like we need to reconnect.
I try to schedule time to spend with each boy with a particular activity that boy would enjoy. Sometimes we go on a walk, go on a bike ride, play a game together, or we’ll go out on a dinner date. For my boys, the times when we connect the best are when we get out of the house. Boys are busy and seem to always be in motion. I've learned that if you want to connect with them, you need to be willing to run, be wild and silly, and be willing to get dirty with them.
Build Self-Esteem in Children
I want my boys to have positive self-images. So when I'm connecting with them, I try to make sure I am helping to build them up as well. For example, my son Dax is in kindergarten and is learning to read. He is a great reader, but sometimes he struggles with some words. I've noticed that he will get really down on himself when he messes up. This is my opportunity to step in and help restore that confidence he's starting to lose in himself. I want my boys to know they are smart and capable, so I try to be the best cheerleader I can for them.
To really connect with my boys, being present is vital. I don't mean being present by being in the same room with them, but by being fully engaged with them. When I have days that I've felt we've spent more time apart then together, even though we all are in the same house, I have to look at what we were spending our time doing. Almost always we were on some electronic device. On those days when I feel disconnected with my boys, I will just turn everything off. It's a simple and easy thing to do that doesn't require any effort and has had a huge impact on our relationship. We spend our time together reading books, talking, and sometimes having an impromptu dance party where we can be silly and just laugh. What better way to reconnect than with laughter.
The main thing that I try to remember is that all my boys really want from me is my time. My day, just like every other mom, is filled with what seems like an endless to-do list. But what I try to remember is not what is most important but who is most important. When I give my boys that time they desire, we are able to connect in ways that strengthen everyone.
Trisha is from Orem, Utah. She loves reading, being crafty, going on dates with her hubby, and traveling. Her favorite movies are The Notebook and Sixteen Candles. Her favorite books are Divergent series, Hunger Games, and the Wishes series. Her guilty pleasures are cherry Coke, Reese’s PB cups, and shopping :)
Healthy marriage relationships start when the wife and husband are happy together.
Maegan is going to share some great tips for strengthening your marriage–specifically, how to spend quality time with your husband.
Raising kids is great, but can be an obstacle in finding time to spend with your husband. And let’s face it, after a long day of wiping boogers, reading “How Does a Dinosaur Say Goodnight” like 12 times, cleaning up an endless supply of messes, trying to stand your ground through a tantrum, making food, then playing “here comes the choo-choo” so they will eat it, then dishes, then making food, then “choo-choo,” then dishes, and so many other “pleasant tasks” that we do as mothers, giving any more of your time to someone else at the end of the day can be a daunting thing. But let’s not forget how we got those sweet little trouble makers that we love enough to sacrifice so much for… it all started when you fell in love with that dear man! And, chances are, he doesn’t have it easy either. My poor husband puts in long hours on swing shift so that we can have all of the things we need and more. He is sacrificing a lot as well, but he makes the sacrifice outside of our home, away from his family, and at the end of his night he needs me! And that’s pretty cool! So ladies, somehow in your hectic life make some time for your man!
Doll yourself up!
I had a good friend that I used to live by and she would always do a cleanup on the house and fix her hair and makeup before her husband came home. She called herself a “fifties wife” and I have to tell you, I sure do hope to someday be a little more like her. While I don’t get all fixed up for my husband every day, I do put in an extra effort at least a couple of times a week, especially on date night. You used to make yourself beautiful for him every time you saw him. Let him know that you still are crazy about him!
It needs to happen–for both of you to keep your sanity! I LOVE date night (or date day in our case) and I truly, truly look forward to it. Talk to your husband and share your date night ideas. Find a sitter that you trust. I always use family, but I do have a few very close friends that I could use as well. Put it on the calendar, and don’t let anything take precedence over your night together. And while you’re out, don’t spend your whole time worrying about the kids! They will be ok.
Establish a bedtime for your kids and stick to it!
Unless it’s a special occasion, my guy needs to be in bed by 8… granted, I’m not a perfect mom, and since bedtime is a nightmare for me and my boy, 8 sometimes drags into 9 or 9:30. But when he is down by 8, life is magical. It gives me and my husband time to unwind and time to be us, the us we were when we fell in love.
Make time for your husband when your kids are around!
They need to know how important he is to you. Hold his hand whenever you can. Sit by him. I try to always sit by my husband and not let our little guy sit in between. I sit by my husband at dinner and during family movie night. Our boy gets most of my attention, so I try to give my husband a little extra whenever I can. Listen to him when he is talking and respond to what he is saying. Go to bed at the same time! Pillow talk is a great way to squeeze in some extra time together.
Don’t forget that he is the love of your life and you guys are supposed to make life easier for each other.
Maegan is a stay at home mom. She lives in Lehi, UT with her dreamy husband, Joe and their son Wylie. She enjoys camping, boating, photography, refinishing furniture, and yard work. Her favorite foods are cheesy potatoes and tacos. Her guilty pleasures are milkshakes, eating out, and TV series. Her ultimate advice to new moms would be to stop worrying about all of the technicalities of parenthood. Your baby was sent to you for a reason, so just enjoy your child, and have fun being a mom!
Image Source: Maegan
Post–pregnancy exercise doesn’t have to be a fantasy story–OK! let exercise be one of the fun activities you do WITH kids rather than making it a separate activity.
Regarding exercising with your little ones, Jeni said, “Oh, the benefits of exercise are just too good not to!” She finds time to exercise by being flexible and simply not giving up. She is going to share with us how to find time to exercise with kids and tips for working out for those busy mamas!
Q) Why do you want to exercise?
A) I can't forget the day–I was 12-years-old–that everything just clicked. I was on a run with my dad and sister when I realized that the whole “exercise thing” made me feel good! I literally felt happy and strong, and when I grasped how hard I worked to finish that run, I felt accomplished. Equal to the mental benefits are the physical ones. My body simply functions better when I exercise. My skin is clearer (sweating detoxes!), I crave healthier foods, and I sleep way more soundly. And my muscles are toned, which makes them work and look better. Two pluses.
Q) How can you maintain your exercise with your baby?
A) Maintaining exercise post–baby is a challenge, but it's as conquerable as anything. Zero in on the benefits that you enjoy from exercising and then make it happen (and most of all, of course don’t give up)!
For example, the benefits of exercise that I just mentioned are magnified for me as a mother. Now more than ever, having a strong body is key to keep up with my 1.5 year old and to be creative with her. I have to sleep well and recharge, because motherhood is kind of exhausting. I need to eat healthy, because baby girl is watching and learning from me! I need to feel good about myself: mothering is simply demanding, both emotionally and physically. I have found that, for me, all of those pros–strength, sound sleep, healthy eating, and better self-esteem–are strongly rooted in exercise. And I just can't let those benefits pass me by, especially as a mama.
So again, to stay truly motivated and to maintain exercise as a mother, ask yourself "What are the real reasons why I love and need to exercise?" You'll understand its personal, unique benefits for you, and then it will be hard not to work out. Promise!
Q) What are your exercising tips?
A) Like my previous answer, find what you love to do and just do it (Nike nailed it). I love to run and to practice yoga. You might hate running and think that yoga is boring, and that's totally great. Try different types of exercise until you find what you just can't get enough of. If you love what you do, you'll willingly make time for that workout–no matter what!
Also, be proud of any time you can give to a work out. On average, I exercise for 30 minutes every day–sometimes even just 20 minutes. While I’d like to workout for 60 minutes like I did pre-baby, I’ll take what I can get! Some exercise is better than no exercise at all.
Q) When is the best time to exercise?
A) Timing totally depends on you and your little one. However, these are two major keys: be flexible and don't give up! Babies and toddlers aren't always predictable, but if you really want to, you will make time to exercise. I make my best attempt to exercise in the morning before my daughter wakes up. If it doesn't happen–ah, she woke up earlier than planned!–I switch game-plans. Forget the yoga mat, we'll go running! Be willing to meet the needs of your child and to keep exercising.
Q) What are your favorite exercise activities to do with your baby or toddler?
A) Nothing beats exercising with my daughter. I love giving her a sense for how fun exercise can be. I often invite her to do yoga with me. I roll out my husband's yoga mat for her when I practice, so that has her own special place, and even though she just ends up rolling around (most of the time), she does love doing the down-dog. We often go running with our jogging stroller. I tell her I'm taking her for a ride and–to keep my word–I run really fast. We also just dance, which is the easiest way ever to keep our bodies moving. Truly, instilling in her a love for being active is probably the best benefit of exercise of all.
Jeni is from St. George, Utah, and has an awesome husband, Ryan, and one sweet daughter, Olivia. She loves learning, staying busy, hiking up mountains, making people laugh (it doesn't happen often, which is why she loves it), and, obviously, a good workout. Her favorite foods are colorful and filling like a Cafe Rio salad. Jeni is a writer and blogs at jeniawer.blogspot.com to stay creative and to document her family's life in real-time.
It was well past midnight, and Heather and her husband had tried multiple times to put their son to sleep, but apparently he had morphed into the Energizer Bunny.
What do you do when your baby won’t sleep at night? Heather shares excellent toddler sleep training tips, “Make sleep training as successful and painless as possible.”
My husband and I watched in amazement as their baby crawled around the living room gibbering to himself and restlessly moving from one toy to the next. As time went on, he became more and more rambunctious while we became more and more exhausted. It was during one of these nights that my husband and I realized, as I'm sure many first-time parents have, that our son needed sleep-training.
We turned to our lovely friend the Internet and found a wealth of information. The most prevalent method we ran across was cry it out (CIO). The idea of leaving my baby alone in his room to cry for an indefinite amount of time made me cringe, but my husband and I were desperate, and we didn't have any better ideas. So we tried it, and failed miserably. We read that babies should only cry for up to half an hour before calming down and eventually falling asleep, but our son blew this theory out of the water. We never found out his actual endurance for crying, but some nights it was well over an hour before we finally gave in and scooped him up. My husband and I couldn't take the screaming anymore, so we went back to the drawing board. With the help of parental intuition and some research about infant sleep patterns, we developed our own methods for helping our son to fall asleep on his own. By no means do I claim to be an expert, but here are some general guidelines for sleep training that have proven successful for us.
1. Remember that your child is unique
This means that he will not necessarily respond to a fits-all training method. This does not make you a failure. It just means you need to find a method that works for your specific circumstances.
As I mentioned earlier, the classic CIO method did not work for our son. I could sense that he had a deep anxiety about being separated from his parents. I knew I had to gradually wean him from the need for human touch if he was to fall asleep on his own. Instead of leaving the room after I laid him down, I sat on a chair next to his crib and continued humming. For the first few nights, he tried to stand up or snatch at toys through the bars of his crib. When he tried to stand, I gently took his hands off the bars and guided him back down to his pillow. Then I held one hand on his stomach to encourage him to stay lying down. Eventually, our son fell asleep like this. After a few weeks, he came to understand that when we placed him in his crib, it was time to sleep. If he started to stand up, just my moving towards him signaled to him to lay back down on his pillow.
2. Choose a routine and stick to it
Children need structure so they feel secure and know what to expect. Generally, a routine includes removing your child from stimulation like bright lights, television or active play, and applying soothing mechanisms such as a bath, reading, or music. This makes the transition to sleep much easier.
For instance, here was my first routine:
Give my son a drink of water and a little snack. (A full stomach does wonders!)
Change diaper, put in his PJs, and brush his teeth.
Read him a book. (This is especially helpful in calming him down.)
Hum his favorite song while I rock him for a few minutes.
Lay him in his crib once he shows signs of falling asleep.
Sit in the rocker next to his crib until he settles down to sleep.
3. Learn to recognize your child's tired signs
This is especially important because if you wait too long, your child will go from being tired to overtired. It is at this overtired stage that he will become hyperactive, fussy, irritable, and nigh impossible to settle down to sleep. Start the routine when your child shows signs of being tired, but not overly tired. Typically, tired signs include droopy eyes, and becoming quieter, less active, and more demanding. Once you develop a scheduled routine, your child will usually become tired around the same time each night. When in doubt, err on the side of putting your child to bed earlier rather than later.
In my son's case, when he is tired, his eyelids look heavy, and he moves around less, preferring to sit or stand while playing instead of running around. He gets frustrated more easily. For example, when he can't figure out how to make a toy work, he is more prone to yell. He also demands my attention. If I am on the laptop, he will come up and slam it closed, then insist I pick him up. When I recognize these signs, I know it is time to put him to bed.
4. Be willing to adapt
Children go through many stages and changes in the first few years of life. The routine you use when your child is six months old may not work when he is twelve months or two years old. Be willing to try new things if what you're doing doesn't seem to be working as well as you'd like.
For example, recently I noticed that our son has a harder time settling down than he used to. He tries to squirm out of my arms and climb down from the rocker. I discovered that giving him a simple toy like a block or a stuffed animal helps him to stay still and fall asleep faster. We also found that the constant background noise of a fan in the room prevents our son from startling awake at sudden loud noises (like setting off one of his singing toys).
5. Above all, be patient
It may take a while before you notice the fruits of your labors. Don't get discouraged. What you are doing is making a difference, even though you may not see it at first.
With our son, it was a couple weeks before we noticed any improvement. But it was so worth it! Most nights our son now sleeps at least 9 hours before waking. Sometimes we hear him stir, but he is able to soothe himself back to sleep.
Also keep in mind that there are uncontrollable factors which can disrupt a child's sleep pattern. Among these are teething, sickness, being in an unfamiliar environment, car naps, and daylight savings time. When these disruptions come—as they inevitably will—be patient, adapt a new baby sleep schedule, do your best to meet your child's needs, and hold on for the ride. (Teething won't last forever, I promise.)
I am originally from Fernley, Nevada, but our family currently lives in Austin, Texas. My husband and I have been blissfully married for over two years. He supports me through everything and helps me find joy in this journey we call life. Our son Glenn is seventeen months old. He gets into all sorts of mischief, but he knows just how to melt my heart with hugs and laughter (and occasionally helping me with chores). My favorite books are the Harry Potter series. You will often find me listening to these books on tape (yes, on tape) while I clean our house. It brings back fond memories of my mother doing the same thing while I was growing up. As you can imagine, I don't have much spare time with my little bundle of energy running around, but when I do, I like to brush up on my German, work on my novel, make crafts, or learn new recipes. My favorite foods to make are bread, brownies, and creamy mustard chicken with spaetzle—mostly because I love eating them! I also enjoy my daily walks with Glenn. My guilty pleasures are watching BBC television series, bargain shopping, and sneaking chocolate chips out of the baking cupboard. My dream vacation would be taking my family back with me to Austria and Germany, where I did a study abroad while I was in college.