Parenting Lessons Learned (so far....)

Let me set the stage for you -- I am currently sitting in my driveway (in a folding chair), eating eggplant parm, and drinking chocolate milk while writing this post. Ha. Who am I??? I feel like I used to do this stuff when the boys were infants, but hey each day is different, right?

We had the boys two year pediatrician appts this morning. Jim met me there. The appts went great. However, I took a bit of a longer route than usual to get home and the boys fell asleep on the way to the house. Sooo, I am hanging in my driveway until they wake up. If I wasn't 7 months pregnant (or maybe if there weren't two of them), I would consider relocating them to their cribs. For now, I am enjoying the peace and quiet - eating some lunch and writing this post.

Here are the boys stats from their 2 year checkup. No shots, just a finger stick for a lead test.

Weights - 
Conor: 29 lbs 12 oz; 72%
Caden: 27 lbs 14 oz; 49%
Heights -
Conor: 36 inches; 92%
Caden: 35.5 inches; 85%

Since I have all the time in the world to write this deep and meaningful post, I figured now is a the perfect opportunity. I've been collecting my thoughts about our new EI experiences and new SLP. I personally have had such positive and great interactions so far and I am thrilled (and relieved!). After all, there are so many stressors and challenges day to day, I prefer my blog be a fun trip down memory lane (documenting delicious meals, remembering different moments in pregnancy, or looking back at fun memories with my babies). I've also been thinking about some of the best parenting advice I've received, as well as good lessons I've learned along the way. So I thought it would be fitting to share these together in a post!

1. Trust your gut.  I touched on this with our SLP and overall experiences with early intervention (EI) from the beginning. Trust your gut. I'll be honest, MANY of you have reached out to me about my experience with the program - whether it was how or why we got involved or  what was the process/enrollment all about. I am happy to share that with you. And I am glad our experience has helped you, even in just the slightest way. While I was really excited to start the program and have Conor and Caden learn some new strategies when it came to speech, I soon realized the phrase "Trust your gut" would become VERY important. And sure, it's one of those expressions you hear often as a parent -- or anytime in life -- and (if you're like me) you often roll your eyes. However, what it really means to me is that YOU know your child better than anyone else in this world.  A doctor sees them for 15 minutes at a time.  A friend or family member sees them once a week or a once month.  YOU see them every single day and night.  And from the time they were placed in your arms at the hospital, you have studied their cues, so you can best support them and their biggest advocate.  This doesn't change as they get older.  In fact, it gets more difficult in a way because when they're little - they have little problems. And as they get bigger, they tend to have bigger problems. So trust your gut and continue to advocate for them whenever you can. 

*New EI experience blurb: We think our new SLP is fantastic. She and I are totally on the same page with things. She has SO many positive things to say about Conor and Caden and genuinely seems thrilled to be working with them. It's a fantastic fit. I also have to stop a moment and give one of my sister and Lindsey's friends Sondra a BIG shout out and thank you for helping us over a hurdle a month or two ago. Since we weren't having the most positive EI/SLP experience, Chrissy reached out to Sondra who is an SLP in a different area. She wrote me lengthy emails, watched videos of the boys, took the time to write the nicest and most thorough responses, and included different tactics we could implement ("BOOM!") which have been tremendous with the boys, especially Caden. So Sondra (and Chrissy), I need to thank you because you showed me the positive and fun side of working with an SLP...and honestly you are the reason why we started back up. We love our new SLP and couldn't be more grateful. for the extra push. I know for sure I will be much happier in the long run and even happier than we didn't just abruptly quit the program. After all it is intended to help the boys, not just give mama anxiety and stress. :) 

2. Don't give up everything - find what you love.  This is a big one for me. In the beginning, you're pretty much forced to give up everything, which is more than fine, because you wouldn't want to be anywhere else.  You have this little helpless baby who needs you and you need and want to be there with them.  However, there comes a time when you are not physically and mentally 100% attached to your child and when that time comes, it's healthy for you to remember what you loved before kids.  You are a person.  For me, I love writing in my blog and sharing fun memories or different experiences with fellow moms and friends.  For others it's the gym and working out.  And for others, it's going out for dinner and drinks (yes, this is definitely me too).  Just please, don't lose yourself in your kids.  Take some time for yourself. 

3. Don't spend a fortune on Birthday and Christmas presents.  This is something both Jim and I completely agree on.  Although, thanks to family and friends, the boys are SO unbelievably fortunate and have so many toys (that I have a borderline anxiety attack at least once a week).  Truthfully, I did feel a little guilty at their birthday a week ago, and even at Christmas when there were only a few presents under the tree. But Caden and Conor are still so young that they don't get the concepts yet.  I will wait until they are older to really invest.  We have to realize though that this is just "stuff" and "stuff" is expensive and takes up a lot of room. And we don't like clutter.  See tip #5.  

4. Television is OK.  It's even good.  I will come clean and admit I have allowed television since the boys were babies.  They were about 6 months old when we started watching and listening to nursery rhymes. And then came Daniel Tiger.  Boy do we love him.  Here's a video of the boys watching Daniel around 8 months maybe (?).  They have honestly learned some of the best manners thanks to Daniel Tiger.  They've learned about kindness and feelings, and also how to share their toys (when they feel like it).  They also know ALL the characters.  Could we have taught them all of these things without tv?  Of course.  But being a first time mom, I didn't even think it was possible for 2-year-olds to count to 10 and know the alphabet.  I probably would've waited until the day before kindergarten and then decided, "Ok, they can probably handle this now."  Another reason I'm so grateful for television is the repetitive nature.  And you know what?  Sometimes they don't learn a darn thing in an episode (or 3) but it's 30 minutes when you can sit and drink your coffee and completely zone out -- or even blog.  That's ok, too. 

*Current situation. The boys woke up, and we came inside to have a relaxing nursery rhyme show on youtube ("little baby bum" - their FAVORITE) while they wake. It's very calming.

5. Stay sane. Keep a (somewhat) tidy space.  This is huge. I can't tell you how much happier I am when there isn't clutter everywhere.  My theory is, "If it takes you less than 3-5 minutes to do, do it right then."  It's such great advice.  It'll save you from tidying up and deep cleaning the house over the weekend when you would rather spend time with the family and/or relax.  I honestly feel like I can breathe easier when I look in our den and can see the floor.  I also won't break an ankle.  That being said, something I've encouraged the boys to do is the "clean up, pick up, put away" song.  They know it.  When I start singing it, they immediately start piling up their toys in the nearest bin.  It's a great help, especially with this big belly of mine.  They are learning an important lesson.   And it makes me very happy.  
*Also, I will use this space to include a helpful hint.  I try and limit all the kids toys to one playroom - and their bedroom.  That way, I have at least one room in the house that's "kid free".  Therefore, if we have company or something last minute, we can use that room without having to pick up the whole house.  And ALWAYS go to bed with a clean kitchen and kitchen sink. ;)

6. Schedule, schedule, schedule. I know I have mentioned (and reiterated) this a ton, but I can't emphasize it enough. Kids love routines and in fact thrive on knowing what comes next - and you as the parent can plan outings, watch a movie, have dinner alone with your husband and/or friends because your children are on a schedule. They are structured and you have freedom. Who doesn't love a 7p-7a sleep schedule? It's amazing. Granted, I don't spend a lot of time with the boys on week nights after I get home from work - but it isn't about me. They are thriving, they are well rested, well fed, happy, healthy, structured boys and I am thrilled.

7. Do NOT feel pressured to hit every milestone on time.  This has been one of my biggest parenting stressors.  I mostly struggled with Conor and Caden's speech. I would see and hear other kids around their age saying "Mama" and the boys didn't say it. And I never thought they would. But guess what? They are now two years old and they finally say lots of things. They don't talk nearly as much as other two year olds, but they have their own twin language and lots of other strengths. And they have the sweetest, most loving demeanor.  The same goes for crawling and walking.  Do you guys know any adults out there that are still crawling?? No.  Because you know what?  One day that will happen.  And there isn't a line on their college application that asks, "How old were you when you potty trained?"  One day it will happen.  Don't pressure yourself.  Be patient.  And don't rush their little lives away. 

This picture feels like it was taken last week - not a year ago....

All for now...have a great week everyone!


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