toddler

Potty Training and Giving up the Pacifier: A Relaxed (and Attached) Mom’s Perspective

My child is three years and three months old and she occasionally she pee-pees and poo-poos in her pants. Not every time, not all the time. But often enough.

Recently when my daughter started at a new daycare she was not potty trained as was required by the program. She was still in pull-ups full time and had not been showing any interest in moving towards full time use of the potty. At the daycare’s advice, I took the pull-ups away cold turkey and put her in underwear during the day. This worked to some extent but not completely.

To add another layer to this, she was not allowed to use her pacifier during naptime because the program was for preschoolers and not for toddlers. I’ve heard from others that this is not unheard of, that many preschool programs except a child to be completely potty trained and do not permit use of the pacifier. The potty training I can understand due to the license and the teacher-child ratio, but the pacifier at naptime? That I do not understand.

Having come directly from a smaller toddler classroom in a daycare where they put her on the changing table to change her, sat her on the potty once a day to practice, and let her have her pacifier whenever she was upset or taking a nap, this changes were a pretty big shock to her and seriously turned her world upside down.

In the end, she was not able to potty train fast enough and the amount of help she needed was more than the daycare could offer. I was also encouraged to raise my expectations for my child and to consistently send her the message that she is a big girl and to not offer help around pottying and dressing.

Some of society’s ideas about child development fly in the face of what I feel is right for my daughter. At three she’s been on the earth for approximately 820 days. At day 821 she’s supposed to give up the warmth and comfort and security that comes along with having a mother guide her and carry her through some pretty major developmental changes? She’s also supposed to give up her pacifier because she’s crossed some arbitrary line into preschoolhood rather than toddlerhood?

This is the crux of the clash of my world view, as it applies to parenting and childrearing, and some other mainstream ways of thinking about child development.

When I posted my potty training dilemma on Facebook, some provided sympathy, whereas others felt that I needed to examine why my daughter, at three years old, was so “late” in being weaned off the pacifier and why she wasn’t potty trained.

This reaction shocked me. It had gone from being an issue whereby my child simply wasn’t potty trained to an implication that I was infantalizing my child.

My approach to parenting is definitely an “It’ll happen when it happens” type of attitude, whereby the child takes the lead in his or her developmental changes. I believe that a child will hold onto what they need until they no longer need it and that a child will make their emotional needs known somehow or another.

I also don’t see a problem with helping my child with new tasks that she is starting to master. There may be times when she can do it completely independently and times when she wants me to do it for her. When she’s tired or crabby or has had a long day, it is natural that she will want her mother’s assistance. She needs me as her object of security. There are times when she wants me to dress her and feed her and hold her hand and rock her. And I do—with pleasure. I do it because I know that I am meeting her emotional needs at that moment and that even though she is capable of pulling up her pants by herself, she simply wants the comfort of knowing her mother is there to do it for her when she asks her to.

Through all of this it has become even clearer to me that my views of parenting and childrearing, which are primarily based in attachment theory, don’t always mesh with the world at large, especially a world in which individuality and self reliance is valued over all else. In my view and practices, the relationship between me and my child is prioritized over independence. If independence is going to come at the cost of a sense of comfort then I choose comfort and security.

As for the transition to a new placement, I can only imagine that for my child,  this move to a center where they are better able to meet her needs will provide her with a renewed sense of being allowed to be who she is at this moment in time—to be the half baby/half big girl that she is; to be able to pee in the potty, or in her panties or on someone else’s lawn (if that’s where she is when she needs to go!); and to become a big girl over time and at her own pace.

As for now she’ll continue to pee in her pants from time to time and she’ll continue to suck on her pacifier when she’s feeling the need for comfort, and that’s okay with me. She’ll stay with some of these “baby things” until she’s good and ready to give them up completely. In the meantime I’ll help out by spoon feeding her when she’s tired and hungry and pull up her pants when she wants me to. I’ll encourage her and teach her to do things on her own while remaining there as a safety net when she falls. On the way I’ll gently move her towards being the big girl that she’s on her way to becoming without any rush and without any urgency.

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Shopping for and Choosing Infant and Toddler Shoes: Oh, the Places You Can Go!!

Choosing and buying shoes for your child can be an overwhelming and expensive endeavor, especially because each developmental stage and seasonal change brings forth a new selection of shoes, boots and slippers.

I love shoes – as you will find out below – and it’s been fun for me to buy my daughter shoes. Here are a few tips and some pointers from someone who is way too familiar with the infant-toddler shoe scene! 

CRIB SHOES OR INFANT SHOES (PRE-WALKING)
Infant shoes (also called crib shoes) are the little leather slipper type shoe that the baby wears up until he or she can walk and a little past that point. In my opinion Robeez are probably the best but part of that is because I didn’t buy other brands.

I did have one pair of non-Robeez crib shoes. They were from Target and were given to me as a gift. They were cute and comfortable but they didn’t last very long. The leather on top started peeling off and they wore out VERY quickly. They did not hold up well compared to the Robeez.

A friend of mine swears by the Soft Star shoes. She had her boy in them from the time he was crawling until he started walking and then she bought him another pair. They were the only shoes he wore. According to their website, the company is “passionate about minimal footwear for healthy development of bones, muscles and balance.” They make all of their shoes by hand.

The Soft Star mocassins are described as having “soft suede uppers and our strong, soft suede sole…[with] genuine sheepskin innersoles that keep the foot protected, dry and comfortable. Sheepskin is nature’s heat regulator – and keeps feet dry in the summer, and cozy in the winter. Inner elastic hugs the ankle which makes the shoe easy to slip on, and they stay on.” You can also design your own but that would just leave me feeling completely overwhelmed!

They also have an option for regular or wide so if your child has wide feet this might be the place to go. I think they also will use an outline drawn of your child’s foot if you are custom ordering.

I also just noticed while researching for this post that they have “classroom shoes” and Waldorf or Montessori shoes. That kind of cracked me up—But then I ordered a pair! My girl is starting at Montessori preschool in a couple of months and doesn’t have any soft-soled shoes. The kids don’t wear their street shoes in the classroom so I figured it’d be a good way to go. I got a pair on clearance for twenty-something.

WHEN THEY START WALKING
When the babies start walking outside you can still put Robeez on them but realize the soft leather will wear out very quickly on the cement and other hard surfaces. There are some models of Robeez shoes that have a sturdier bottom and they are better for walking outside. We had a pair with sheep on them that my daughter LOVED. She liked them so much that we ended up buying a second pair when she outgrew the first pair.

They held up really well. In part because of the thicker bottom, which was still quite flexible but doesn’t wear out like the soft leather.

We both LOVED the Riley Roos that I bought her, even more than Robeez. They were by far my favorite of all of her shoes. The orange Riley Roos shown below are the exact shoe we had, except we had them in brown.

They are comfortable and soft and have a sturdy bottom. She wore them until her toe was all the way up to the end of the shoe!

Here’s a pair of the Soft Star shoes that look like they have a sturdier sole. Soft Star also makes shoes for adults. I think they also have a sale once a year where the percentage off starts out low (like 10%) and then increases as the end of the sale nears.

BOOTS
We also had these pink Riley Roos boots. She wore them quite a bit. They were very cute and comfortable but they did not hold up very well. They leather pulled away at the seams. They were good for the one winter season but have pretty much come apart to the point that I can’t resell them on Ebay.

We also had these Robeez boots. I loved them. They were soft and supple but had a lot of warm foot coverage. They looked really cozy and if they made them for adults I would totally buy myself a pair. They also come in pink. I’m surprised I didn’t have them in both colors!

Of course, when the snow starts to fall, you will need a pair of snowboots. I don’t recommend spending a lot of money on snowboots but there’s one thing you have to watch for…Access into the boot! If there’s a once inch zipper that goes down and you’re expected to cram a moving child’s food into it, don’t buy them. Look for boots that have zippers on both the left and the right side of the shoe or some way that the tounge goes WAY down. The more you can open up the boot the better, otherwise you’ll be banging and pulling and tugging and pushing trying to get your child’s foot down into the boot and ultimately you won’t know how successful you are because they can’t tell you. You’ll know when they get up and start walking and trip over the boot and land on their face. Then it’s back to the drawing board. It can be quite frustrating, amusing and time-consuming. Oh, and if the kid isn’t into having the boot put on in the first place, good luck. The meltdown will just be prolonged and you’ll end up carrying your child to the car and throwing the boots in the back seat. My advice: Find a boot that opens up!!!!

HOUSE SLIPPERS
Honestly, I have not found a pair of slippers that I have liked for my child, either as an infant or a toddler. For infants, I have found that socks with good ribbing around the ankle are the best. As for toddler slippers, 90% of them have either fallen off or ended up around her ankles as she was running around. Maybe that’s because she has skinny feet. Not sure. She does have a pair of Elmo slippers from Target that have worked out well. They stay on and they are cute. They have an enormous amount of ribbing around the top which might be why they stay on. The Minnetonka Moccasins did not work for us either. I had one pair that I couldn’t get on her feet – they were too tight in the toes. Another pair wouldn’t stay on her, even with socks.

SUMMER SANDALS
I prefer close-toes sandals to open-toed just because the open toe can get hung up on surfaces causing them to trip and fall especially on the playground.

I bought my daughter these Nike sandals this summer because they were so darn cute. She loves them. They are even a little bit long for her yet they stay on. They’re made from a neoprene type of material so they are quite good in the pool or the lake. They are close-toed so she can go on the playground in them. Plus they look good even when she’s wearing a little dress or a shorts outfit.

I’m not a fan of Crocs even if they are super cute; they don’t really seem to stay on or to be that practical. On playground equipment they seem to be too loose and unsafe.

KEEN
Keen makes great sandals and shoes but they tend to be too wide for my girl’s skinny little feet. They are great for our roommate’s two and half year old chubby little feet. I bought the blue tennis shoes below from Sierra Trading Post and they were too wide so my roommate’s little boy acquired them and they fit just right.

Hello, cute girl Keen shoes which I can’t buy because they will be too wide! (Click on the shoe pictures and it will take you to Sierra Trading Post.)

VELCRO MARY JANES
My girl loves the Mary Jane style of shoes that allow her to pull the strap over and velcro them herself. The Robeez sheep shoes and the Nike summer sandals are both like that and have been her favorite shoes. I can go tell her to put on her shoes and she does it all by herself.

JUST FOR FUN
Babies-R-Us has a very cute selection of shoes and you can usually find them at a good price on sale especially at the end of a season. I bought a couple of cute pairs of velcro tennis shoes when they were having a good sale once. I just bought a pair of pink converse for my baby girl at Target for $12.99.

LACE-UP SHOES
We have a lovely pair of Ecco brand lace up shoes that are great for walking, especially if you’re going to be outside or in colder weather. She does wear them quite a bit but on several occasions when I went to get her out of her carseat I found she had removed the laces and had thrown them on the floor.

Here are the Ecco first walk shoes. New they are quite expensive. The walkers below are $58.00 but I’ll tell you, they are really good shoes! The leather is both sturdy yet flexible and they seem to fit the foot really well.


FAVORITE BRANDS
Robeez
Riley Roos
Ecco
Softstar Shoes
Keen

WHERE TO BUY SHOES
www.ebay.com (my personal favorite)
www.zulily.com
www.store.onlinepacifier.com
www.meandmyfeet.com
www.softstarshoes.com
Babies-R-Us
http://www.shoezoo.us/ecco.htm
Once Upon a Child
www.sierratradingpost.com (also a favorite – great prices!)
Little Feet
Goodwill
Consignment stores

WHERE I PERSONALLY HAVE BOUGHT HER SHOES
The place I have gone to most for shoes has been Ebay. I also resell her nice shoes on Ebay. I think I got her Riley Roos on sale from a store on Zulily. Zulily is a shopping website that you have to register on. Once you get registered you can go into the site and look at the different stores and the items they have on clearnace. They stores have amazing sales but the stuff goes fast! I have also bought a few pairs at the Pacifier store, which is local, because I had Groupons for their store. I haven’t shopped outright there for shoes, but they do have a good selection of Robeez. I also bought Robeez at the hospital gift store where I had my baby! The Ecco walkers I got a consignment shop for around $20.00. I also recently found a pair of Ecco Mary Jane’s at Goodwill for $2.99. I was psyched! I bought a pair of Columbia sandals for her on Sierra Trading Post last summer. They have reduced prices on their merchandise. The brown Robeez boots I got on Ebay for a decent price.

Well, anyway, happy shoe shopping with whatever brand you decide to go with. Let us know what you purchase and what has worked well for you and your child. I’ll be interested to hear from any other shoe lovers out there!

Update: Just got these shoes for my three year old daughter and she LOVES them! She’s been wearing them everywhere and she can take them off and put them on herself without any help. They are made by Minnetonka Moccasin.

 

Minnetonka Moccasin Kids' Girls Britta Trapper Shoe

Edible Play Dough – Oatmeal Flavor!

Everytime my little girl puts store bought playdough into her mouth, chews it up and swallows, I cringe. Icky!

So I decided to try an edible playdough recipe that I found on Inspiration Laboratories:

Oatmeal Play Dough:

  • 1 cup of oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup of flour

Directions:

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl.  Knead with your hands and enjoy. If the dough is a little too dry, add a touch more water.  If it’s too wet, add a bit more flour.

Here’s what happened when WE gave it a whirl!

1. First we added the flour into the bowl. She liked to shift her fingers through the flour.

2. Then  I added the water. She wasn’t a fan of the sticky feel of this so grandma helped out.

3. Next came the oatmeal. I didn’t have plain oatmeal so I used packets of Apple Cinnamon and Peaches and Cream. The dough smelled great!

4. For a little bit of fun I brought out the food coloring.

5. This was her favorite part. It was a great hit! She really liked taking the different colors and putting them into the dough.

Her hands reflect the great pleasure derived from the food coloring:

We made birds and squirrels and bird baths and had a whole imaginary garden going on. It was great fun; I would definitely do it again.

More on Water Safety: Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning

Three children have already died this summer in Minnesota due to drowning incidents. These are two deaths that could have been prevented. One boy died while swimming IN A SWIMMING POOL with a lifeguard present.

Drowning is the Number 2 cause of accidental death in children under the age of 15.

From the article Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning by Mario Vittone.

1. Of the approximately 750 children who will drown next year, about 375 of them will drown within 25 yards of a parent or other adult.

2. In ten percent of those drownings, the adult will actually watch them do it, having no idea it is happening (source: CDC).

3. Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. Their mouths alternately sink below and reappear above the surface of the water so they can’t speak.

5. Drowning people cannot voluntarily control their arm movements so they can’t wave for help, move toward a rescuer, or reach out for a piece of rescue equipment.

6. Their bodies remain upright in the water, with no evidence of a kick. Unless rescued they can only stay above water for 20 to 60 seconds before submersion occurs.

Look for these other signs of drowning when persons are in the water:

  • Head low in the water, mouth at water level
  • Head tilted back with mouth open
  • Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus
  • Eyes closed
  • Hair over forehead or eyes
  • Not using legs – Vertical
  • Hyperventilating or gasping
  • Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making headway
  • Trying to roll over on the back
  • Ladder climb, rarely out of the water.

Sometimes the most common indication that someone is drowning is that they don’t look like they’re drowning.  They may just look like they are treading water and looking up at the deck.  One  way to be sure? 

1. Ask them: “Are you alright?” If they can answer at all – they probably are. 

2. If they return  a blank stare – you may have less than 30 seconds to get to them. 

3. And parents: children playing in the water make noise. When they get quiet, you get to them and find out why.

Here are the stories about the two little ones who died. One is the son of a co-worker in my building.

WINONA, Minn. — A 5-year-old girl drowned Monday evening at Goodview’s LaCanne Park.

Emily Margarita Lopez Leon, of Arcadia, Wis., was with her family at the LaCanne Park beach when family members noticed she was missing.

The emergency report of a child missing at the park was called in at 6:43 p.m. and a search of the park and lake was launched.

First responders used a human chain to walk the swimming area of the beach. The girl was located at approximately 7:30 p.m. in about three feet of water, about 60 feet from the shore within the roped swimming area.

She had been in the water between 35 and 45 minutes, according to Goodview Police Chief Kent Russell.

The child was transported to Winona Health, where she was pronounced dead.

Goodview police, first responders and firefighters, Winona police and firefighters, the Winona County Sheriff’s Department and Dive Rescue, Winona Area Ambulance and Medlink Air joined in the search.

http://www.startribune.com/local/west/156543495.html

A 6-year old boy drowned in a supervised pool while at a birthday party on Friday evening at Oak Ridege Country Club in Hopkins.

The boy was spotted unresponsive in the water by a lifeguard, and country club employees and members were performing CPR on him when police arrived. He was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, where he was pronounced dead.

Hopkins police Sgt. Michael Glassberg said it was not clear what led to the drowning and said he knew of no issues with equipment safety at the pool. The pool has deep and shallow ends, a slide and other features. Glassberg said he didn’t know how deep the water was where the boy was found.

The drowning is under investigation by Hopkins police and the Hennepin County sheriff. “This is obviously a tragic situation,” Glassberg said. “We just want to remind people about pool safety. Summer’s here. We just need to make sure we’re being safe.”

Girl drowns in above-ground swimming pool in Minnesota

Published June 07, 2012, 06:11 PM

CHISAGO, Minn. — A toddler has drowned in an above-ground swimming pool after wandering outside her family’s home in east-central Minnesota.

The Chisago County sheriff’s office was called to a home south of Chisago City around 5:40 p.m. Wednesday on a report of a 14-month-old drowning victim. When sheriff’s officials arrived they found a neighbor who also is a nurse performing CPR on the girl.

The girl was pronounced dead in an emergency room. Her name was not immediately released.

Authorities say the girl’s father was outside working while his wife was inside with the children. He says his wife thought the girl was upstairs playing with her two older sisters.

The victim drowned in the shallow end of the pool. She may have been unaccounted for about a half-hour.

A Little about Me

My name is Christina and I am a single mother of a young child. I live and work in the outskirts of the heart of downtown Minneapolis. I love Minneapolis for all it has to offer. If you could take a big city and turn it into a small town you would have Minneapolis.

One of the highlights is called “The Chain of Lakes.” The Chain of Lakes consists of four lakes that are connected by bike and running paths. They are Cedar Lake, Lake of the Isles, Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet. You can see the downtown skyline from any of the lakes because you’re only about five miles away at the greatest distance.

As soon as the weather becomes warm enough (40 degrees plus) you will find people out biking, rollerblading, walking dogs, running, playing, swimming, hiking. The State Park system in Minneapolis is also amazing, particularly because part of Minnesota connects with Lake Superior.

In the winter, people like to cross country ski, hike, snowshoe, and even run. Temperatures can get pretty low (like -20 low) but you will still find people out and about, and even find some people still biking to work.

The outdoor life is one of the reasons I love Minneapolis. The other main reason is the number of activities going on at any given time. There’s theatre, movies in the park, music at the bandshell on Lake Harriet, 5Ks, 10Ks, Half Marathons, Marathons, children’s museums, science movies, independent theatres. And the best thing ever: You hardly ever get stuck in traffic trying to get one of these events.

I grew up in D.C. so I appreciate the big city activities combined with the outdoorsiness and small town feel of this big city.

In my free time I like to read, cook, garden, hike, backpack, camp and take pictures. I love to ride my bike. I’m really into yoga. Oh, and I love to shop for kids’ clothes at thrift stores. If I had more time I would sew more of my baby’s clothes myself. I also like pottery although I’m not very artistically inclined. I used to love rock climbing – still do, I guess – I just don’t have the time for it anymore. Honesly, what I like to do and what I really have time to do  are very different things these days.

Professionally, I have a B.A. in English and German, a Master’s in Counseling and a Ph.D. in Family Social Science. Currently I work doing research to help people quit smoking and I teach a number of different classes in the social sciences and in a Marriage and Family Therapy program.

I worked with kids for a number of years and took a number of classes and did internships related to children and mental health. I’ve also worked with adults helping them with things like depression and anxiety and other life issues.

I’m currently putting a lot of energy into learning how to be a mom of a currently very young child, and actually doing it, rather than reading about it and advising others on how I think it could be done.

Despite all of my education I value immensely other people’s experiences and expertise. We have a wonderful state funded program in Minnesota called “Early Childhood Education” or “ECFE.” My education puts me beyond the requirements for this certification but I listen good and hard when the educators talk to me about parenting. They’ve been on the front line a lot longer than I have.

So that’s a little about me. Hope to hear from you at some point as you peruse and become involved in my blog.

Maintaining the Balance of Mommy and Me

Have you ever tried to keep a teeter-totter in motion without someone on the other side to balance you out? Well, that’s what it feels like sometimes as a mom, especially as a single mom. Balancing my roles as a parent, a professional, and an individual feels a little like running back and forth between two sides of a piece of playground equipment just to keep it in motion!

As a parent who has made some pretty child-centered parenting decisions such as opting not to have a crib and allowing her toddler to nurse until the almost age of three, the majority of my non-working and waking hours have been literally devoted to parenting. In addition to working days, I also work some evenings; I don’t have a partner to tag team with; and I usually go to sleep at the same time as my child.

Given these circumstance and parenting decisions, I have become quite creative in finding ways to get the time that I need for myself and in maintaining my identity outside of parenting.

Below are some of the strategies that I have found useful in regaining some of the “me” that gets lost during parenting. I have somehow managed to find ways to fill the nearly “on-empty, adult-me tank” that occasionally gets low on fuel.

And these tips are not only for single parents: Anyone who knows the challenges of parenting may find them useful.

Make Your Free Time Meaningful
What do I think of when I first think of free time? Let’s see…vacuuming the living room, unloading the dishwasher, and grading papers. How much of that is restorative to me? None! I am the master of getting everything done before giving something to myself.

What I have learned in finding ways to balance the responsibilities of parenting with restoring myself is to deliberately schedule activities during my twenty-four hour free time that are meaningful to me.

For instance, on Sundays I started going to a mediation class for an hour. It’s only an hour and it feeds me spiritually and emotionally. It’s like McDonalds for the soul! I also started running with a friend on Sundays. To save time, I suggested a location that is extremely close to my house. With this arrangement, I can do something that is meaningful without spending my precious free time traveling. Perhaps running around a lake further away would have been more slightly more scenic but it would have meant one less hour that I would have for myself.

Break the Rules of Parenting Occasionally
Taking a hot bath or even a quick hot shower is a luxury for me these days. It is quite relaxing and restorative, but hard to do with a toddler in the midst. So how do I gain some me time? By breaking the rules! Tonight my daughter wanted to eat her evening snack at a late hour so I made the decision to let her take her snack upstairs where she could eat it while I snuck in a quick bath! I felt ever so slightly guilty as I watched her happily munching away on her avocado while wearing her Elmo bib in the bathroom, but for a few minutes I got to relax in tub thus bringing some balance into my life.

Work Meaningful Activities into Your Daily Routine
One of things I love most is to ride my bike. A year ago I decided to move out of my townhouse and into a single family home so that my child would have a nice backyard in which to play. My house of choice was deliberately chosen because of its proximity to daycare and my work. The location of my house allowed me to ride my daughter to daycare on my bike. This has turned out to be a wonderful bonding ex[erience for us, as well as a centering and peaceful activity for me. We have watched the seasons turn, have observed the flowers growing, and keep a close eye out for dogs. At the same time it is me at my happiest. After dropping her off I am able to bike to work and then do the same in reverse at the end of the day. Instead of commuting in a car an hour a day, I am on my bike doing something I enjoy.

Network with Other Parents
Spending time bonding with your child are special, happy moments, but from my perspective, there’s still a self that needs to be fed. By forming social relationships with other parents, you can plan and enjoy activities that are child-centered but that also allow you to engage in healthy adult-to-adult communication. Coffee shop play dates, trips to nature centers, eating out: These are all activities that can include your child, but at the same time you are able to find ways to connect with adults and explore the non-child side of you.

Find People that Care about You and Your Child/Children
Going out for ice cream is so much more fun with another adult. If you are a parent that does most of the hands-on work, it is so freeing to have another adult around who can clean up that spilled water or take the child to wash her hands. A loving adult who cares about you and your child can be a gift that you can never repay. And the best thing about it: That other adult is FRESH! They are likely in a good spot mentally spot and probably have had a good night’s sleep whereas you may have been wakened multiple times by a child calling “momma.” Going out with another adult allows you to continue to bond with your child, but at the same time you can get that break you might need. And, hey, have a hot fudge sundae while you’re at it. You deserve it!

Find Ways to Save Time
A friend of mine jokes that I have hired a husband for most everything. I have retained the services of a doogie-pooper-cleaner-uper; I pay a woman who cooks amazing macrobiotic meals and drops them off at my house once a week; and the several inches of snow that fall on my sidewalks are blown to the side by a snow removal service. Yes, these things all cost money, but if this leaves me more time to take care of what is really important; i.e., me, then it is completely worth it!

Sign your Child up for Activities You Enjoy
My little girl is enrolled in mama-baby music classes, mama-baby yoga classes and swimming lessons. Each of these benefits me in some way. The music class is fun. I get to sing and dance and wave scarves around. Yoga is one of my favorite ways of keeping fit; during momma-baby yoga class I’ll sneak in a few extra vinyasas for myself. Swimming lessons? After the 30 minute swimming class I get to hit up the hot tub. She sits on the side while I loosen up those achy muscles. Score!

Don’t Pack Too Much into Your Free Time
I have found that when I have an evening free I want to do all of the things I enjoy in one evening. I want to go to a movie AND go out to dinner. I’ve learned over the past couple of months to pick one of the two and to savor the luxury of not rushing to and from different activities. By only going out to dinner I have a leisurely hour to get to the restaurant and a good couple of hours after my outing to do whatever I want at home. It makes for a more relaxed and enjoyable evening. Plus, I can get a 20 minute nap in before I go out if I so desire!

Balance isn’t about a fifty-fifty split between being a parent and nourishing the self. As a parent with lots of hands-on parenting time, balance means being creative about finding ways to maximize the free time one does have and about being intentional about what is being gained during that time. It’s also about finding ways to bring yourself into the parenting process and to secretly gain something for your own self while you are parenting. Happy parenting and remember “nourish thyself!”

School Lunches? What to do? HELP!

Starting in three months I have to pack a lunch for a three year old! I’m at my wits end! I have no clue how to make a quick and healthy meal for my child that won’t take a lot of time every night before we go to bed. I want to be able to prepare a week’s worth of lunches in about an hour on Sunday afternoon. I then want to be able to grab them out of the fridge and toss them in her super fancy kid lunch bag that makes her look like she’s carrying very nutritous food.

At her current Spanish immersion daycare they provide her with warm organic lunches every day. She’s currently eating better than I am with meals like rice and oranic veggies, taco roles, veggie soup. Her lunches look a little like this:

I need the help of all the seasoned momma and dadda lunch packers out there otherwise my little girl’s lunches may well end up looking like this, where the tator tot serves as the veggie:

Please post a reply with your best quick and easy school lunch menus and tips. What lunches have you found to be good? I’m particularly interested in menu ideas for lunches that can be prepared in bulk and then just thrown in the lunch bag.

I’ve never had to do this so I’m soliciting ideas from all of you out there. I tried looking for a good blog on kids’ lunches but all I found was mother’s complaining about how much they hated making lunches.

The one ideas I’ve had so far is:

Lentil soup: heat a bowl up in the am and throw it in the thermos. Toss in a piece of whole wheat bread and butter and some apple slices. I think I can handle that. Now what about the other 364 days?

After I get a number of suggestions I will create a new post with a list of the ideas.

The only restrictions are that they cannot include making cute, tiny faces out of food objects;

 

and they cannot involve writing love notes on pieces of fruit.

No offense http://www.thekitchn.com/lunch-surprise-write-a-secret-154283 It’s cute but as a single working mom, I just don’t have the time for that!

I’ll be looking forward to all of your great ideas….yum, yum!