Organizing Toddler Toys

We recently moved the girls into one room to share. We did this for a variety of reasons. First, because we wanted them to share a room eventually, and my thinking was that before my oldest grew too attached to her own space, we might as well put them together in one room. ¬†My little one, who is not so little anymore, has been sleeping through the night for awhile now, so it wasn’t a matter of her waking up her oldest sister in the middle of the night. Even now that they are sharing, my youngest is usually up around 6:30 am anyway, and her cries to get us to come rescue her in the morning, don’t stir my oldest. Anyway, off topic. ūüôā So yes, sharing a room was a goal for us, as well as the fact that bedtime might actually be easier for the two of them if they had a companion in the dark, and so far it has been exactly that for each of them. Another important reason for us to move the girls into one room was because we wanted to have our office space back; mainly just a desk to act as a landing spot for all our paperwork and the printer. We have a three-bedroom house, so once we had our second child, there went our guest room/office. We are hoping to have some of that back, and want to also get a pull-out couch for this room now, so that when we do have guests (mainly Nana and Grampy!) there is a sleeping space for them. ¬†So we turned our older daughter’s room into a playroom/office/guestroom, or rather are in the process of doing so…first step, organize the toys so that we can actually figure out how to configure the playroom. ¬†I’ll share pics of the playroom once it is actually done, but for now, my favorite part of the whole room is the closet! Here is why: more than half of my girls’ toys are in there, instead of all over the rest of the house, and it makes the playroom look so much less crowded. The real reason though is so that we can have a toy rotation and encourage the girls to play with more than just a few toys. So here is what I did.

IMG_0247

I went to Target and got 7 of those 66 quart, clear bins. Then I took nearly all the toys we had and sorted them amongst the bins. At first I had no set way to organize, but then I realized that many of the toys could be grouped in like themes…the vehicles and things that go bin, the animal/farm bin, the Mickey Mouse/Disney bin, the shapes and bucket bin, etc. Some of the toys are more alike then others, but it worked. I also divided up all the various puzzles and peg board amongst the bins (in smaller plastic bins that fit inside the big ones, so as not to loose any stray pieces), and then I labeled each bin with a letter of the alphabet. I took our big toy-bin, which was a large basket chest from our family room, and emptied the contents of bin A into the chest. Then in the closet went all the other bins. My daughters now had those toys to choose from for the week, and every Saturday we swap out the bin. Bin A gets put away and out comes bin B! Its almost like getting a whole bunch of new toys every Saturday, because by the time bin A comes back out, it will have been 7 weeks since they have seen those toys. They are so engaged with the toys too. Now of course there are favorite toys, but most of those are in the bins too, unless they ask for something specifically – nothing is off-limits, just put away, and really, it has been out of sight, out of mind.

I love it because clean up is generally easy, everything goes back into the big toy chest at the end of the day, or, since it is in the playroom, I can also leave it a mess, and close the door! In the girls bedroom we only have two small bins of books in a cozy reading corner, and that’s it, no toys. It is also nice because if one of my daughters is sleeping and the other wants to play, they won’t disturb each other, as the awake child can make her way to the playroom. Granted, toys do seem to wander from the playroom to other parts of the house, but it is easy to find their home at the end of the day. I should also mention that we have their play kitchen and accessories out all the time, as well as their musical instruments, and stuffed animals. So, yes, there are plenty of activities to keep the girls occupied.

Also in the closet I have a blocks basket, play dough bin, games bin, and coloring basket too, but those are activities I like to monitor when they engage in them anyway, so I will pull those out if they ask or to entertain them.

Needless to say, I had lots of fun with my label maker on the smaller baskets and bins; and am excited for this toy organization we have in place! Granted, as the girls get older it might have to be modified, but for the toddler-preschooler age group, it works well for us! Also makes us realize that the girls can appreciate all kinds of toys, rather then just playing with a select few.

Now if we could just get the actual playroom itself done…at least I will always have the closet!

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Toddler Approved: “Yogurt Pops!”

Loving the yogurt pop!

Yum!

To add another simple treat to my Toddler Approved Eats, this one isn’t really a recipe, just a fun idea! Both my girls love what we call yogurt pops! All it is a frozen yogurt pouch. I get the Trader Joes organic berry/strawberry yogurt tubes, and throw them in the freezer. The girls think they are dessert, because they are frozen like ice-cream. And they are so much neater to eat than popsicles, or even the yogurt tubes when they aren’t frozen…they won’t spill out nearly as easily! Here is a picture of my youngest enjoying her yogurt pop on a day she was teething – they are great for that too!

 

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A Family of Four. My Family Complete.

“So, are you going to have a third?” “Try for a boy?” Once you have two girls, or even two kids, those are the usual questions everyone asks. ¬†My answer, 99.9% probably not, my husband, a 100% NO! Up until this weekend I think I still hung on to that 0.01% chance that I might convince myself (and my husband) that I really do want a third, but I realized something crucial. I do want another BABY, I don’t want another CHILD. I miss the ¬†baby sweetness, cuddles, and coos; I don’t miss the sleepless nights, witching hours, and in my case, I’ve had nightmares about when and where I would go into labor if I were to have a third! ūüôā I feel as though our family is complete, and can’t imagine it any other way at this point. I love our two girls. I love watching them grow and become friends with each other, become sisters. After Jolie was born I had an extreme sense of guilt that I couldn’t spend time like I used to, one-on-one with Alli. And now I have a little guilt that I could not partake in some of the activities with Jolie that I did with Alli. I couldn’t imagine adding a third child to the mix. For my sanity, I think I can safely and confidently handle two. I know there are parents out there with three, four, five kids, and I am in awe. How do they do it? I am utterly amazed!

As I begin to wean my youngest I often find myself staring at her in the rocking chair, astounded by how big she looks, and how she is turning into such a little person. She really isn’t a baby anymore, and I think once I finally do stop nursing it will be even more reality that she no longer is one. When I wanted to wean my oldest, and she had turned 1, I was ready, ready before she was. I couldn’t wait to throw away my nursing bras! I ¬†wanted to have my body back to myself for a bit, at least before I knew we were going to start trying for a second. This time however, I’m not so ready to give it up. I know this is because I won’t have another child to nurse ever again. Nursing has a few downsides for the mother, but overall, its such a special opportunity, and it is hard to think I will never have it again.

After my daughters’ first and third birthday party was over I was cleaning up and came across the party hat that my one-year-old wore while she devoured her first taste of cake, a pink, felt hat with a bold number 1 on it; the same hat that my older daughter wore at her first birthday. As I picked it up tears came to my eyes. ¬†I was overcome by the idea that this was the last time I would see one of my children wearing a first birthday hat! Really such a simple thing to cry over, but I wasn’t crying over the hat, I was really crying over the loss of another last, first. I remember reading a blog a long time back, and the author had written of that exact same thing, the last, first.

The hat that brought me to tears.

My oldest daughter was able to have all the joys of us witnessing a first, first; like the first time we had a child of ours born; the first holidays as our own little family, etc. Now with our youngest we experience the last, first of everything. The last time we will witness our child’s first steps, ¬†the last, first time in a big-girl bed, and so on. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be a mother to these amazing, little beings, and I look forward to every moment of joy that I will experience as a mother of two – all the firsts and all the lasts. I guess sometimes I just wish it would last a little longer. As a good friend tells me, when raising children the days are long, the years are short. So true. So very true.

Posted in Birthdays, Breasfeeding/Nursing, love, Newborn, parenting, Toddlers | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Big Kid Bed!

A friend from college is expecting her second child, and emailed me to ask some pointers about transitioning her toddler to a “big kid” bed. This reminded me I had intended to write this post ¬†awhile back, and before I forget what we did with our first when the time came.

Here is a pic of our oldest, napping comfortably in her new, little – big girl bed, so you an see where this journey ends up!

 

They are so angelic when the sleep!

They are so angelic when the sleep!

My firstborn was just two when her sister arrived, so we knew we had to transition her from her crib to a bed sooner than some do. I also wanted to tackle this transition prior to the baby coming, even though the baby wouldn’t be sleeping in the crib for a few months after being born. I didn’t want my oldest to feel as if the baby was taking her place in her bed, just after making an impact on our family dynamic; so we chose to move her out of her crib at 22 months. This would give us enough time to get our oldest used to a bed, and have the crib vacant for awhile before baby #2 needed it. I was dreading the change though. SO many had warned me what happens when a toddler has the freedom to get out of their bed on their own. “Keep them in their crib as long as you can!” They lamented.

To our surprise, the transition went rather smoothly. I think a lot of this is simply because of the personality of my oldest daughter; not necessarily everything we did, and I’m scared that we will get what’s coming to us when our littlest moves into a big girl bed in due time! Here’s hoping that we have the same success.

To begin, we started with nap time in the big girl bed. And big bed it was. We weren’t sure what kind of bedroom furniture we would want long term for her, and we had a queen size guest bed, so we simply put the mattress and box spring on the floor. It was handy since I was pregnant and could lay comfortably in bed with my daughter at naps and bedtime, or lay there during playtime too! Naps didn’t start of so easily, as I ended up holding her, in tears, fighting sleep, and then she would eventually just konk out. I only did this for a little bit and then realized that if I just left her she would eventually fall asleep on her own. We told her that little kids stay in their beds, just like they stay in their cribs, and that’s that. We didn’t mention the negative, don’t get out of bed, rather, we STAY in bed. We got lucky, because she never got out, she would simply lay in bed and call for us. It wasn’t till recently that she began actually getting out of bed. We also put up a baby gate at her door so that if she did get out, she was at least confined to her room. I had visions of her passing out in front of the baby gate, but fortunately, they were not reality. Again, this was part luck, because I know many friends who did not have the same experience when they moved their toddlers to a regular bed. And it took them a few rough days/nights, but eventually they had success, or sleeping kids, wherever they did end up sleeping. ¬†Starting off with naps as practice seemed to work well for a few weeks, and then we moved on to big girl bed at bedtime too. ¬†Eventually we also removed the baby gate too. Although, the gate was nice to confine her to her room for other purposes too – playtime in a safe space if I had to be away from her for a short time, and also for time away/time out in her room, as she was unable to get out of her room.

I was also worried about her waking up early and getting us all up at the crack of dawn, but she slept till her normal 6:30-7am (sometimes even later!) wake up time, and still does. I have a friend whose daughter has a special clock/light that sits next to her bed and the light goes on when it is okay to get out of bed in the morning, and she said this works great at keeping her in bed till a decent hour. I have another friend who put a timer on her daughter’s lamp and much the same, the light goes on as a signal that it is okay to get up out of bed, but before that, time to stay in bed, even just laying there awake.

We also tried not to change anything about our bedtime routine now that she was in a regular bed, although we did receive a Twilight Turtle that projected stars onto her ceiling, and used it as a special “big kid” nightlight. It really is super cool, and the stars go off after 45 minutes. Even I am comforted by gazing up at the blue stars adorning her bedroom ceiling and walls at night. If she wakes in the middle of the night she will ask for the stars on to help her fall back asleep.

I should also mention that we did purchase a regular comforter, sheets, and pillows for the bed. She rarely uses the pillow, but it is nice to have two big size pillows for leaning against when we read bedtime stories; and she often kicks off her blankets, but I go in there and cover her up before bed and most nights she stays covered. ūüôā I might even suggest letting your little one pick out some sheets or comforter as part of the process of moving to a bed. I’ll admit, I didn’t want a themed or character comforter for our oldest because I was afraid her interest might move on to a new favorite friend in a month’s time, as it often does, but I did let her choose the color, and at the time yellow was her favorite, so a yellow comforter it was.

We recently decided that we are going to move both girls into one room and that meant we now needed to replace my daughter’s queen size big girl bed with a twin. It was hard to call her twin a big girl bed, being that it was smaller than her original big girl bed, but this time we got a nice wood bed frame, and it feels more like a big kid bed to her because Mommy and Daddy also have a bed frame . I was afraid she would fall out of the twin sized bed, especially since she slept side-ways on her queen, but so far, so good. And if she did fall, it’s barely a foot off the floor, since it’s just the bed frame and mattress. A friend had a good suggestion for a cost-effective bed barrier though – get one of those cheap, foam, pool noodles and place it under the fitted sheet at the edge, ¬†it will act as a bumper, just in case. I’ll keep that in my tool box for when we transition or youngest to a twin, as I don’t think she’ll get to practice on a queen size bed first!

And last, the mattress. I spent hours researching an organic, eco-friendly, healthy crib mattress for my girls’ crib, and if possible I wanted to keep some of those features in the big girl bed. When we used the queen bed mattress we knew it was temporary, but the twin we will have ¬†for at least the next ten years. I started looking into organic twin mattresses, and boy, they cost a lot! I also talked to my friend who did mounds of research when getting a big girl bed for her daughter and she had some helpful finds. There is a company that specializes in natural mattress and they are local for us in the bay area, and she found them VERY helpful – The Natural Mattress Store. They carried only one children’s mattress, but it was a good one. She also found that Naturepedic makes an organic mattress available online or at some stores, but not one that was in stock on the store floor to actually sleep on. I had a hard time buying a bed I couldn’t try out, as did she. I also came across a company, located in Berkeley, European Sleepworks, and they specialize in natural mattresses as well, not which are completely organic, but are made without the use of flame retardants and chemicals. ¬†They carry two children’s mattresses, and for us, the price was a huge factor in our choice to purchase theirs. It was very economical, and since we could visit the store, we could lay on it before we bought. It was firm, but nice. The salesman also gave us a good idea for a an organic mattress protector. Get a nice, wool (wool is naturally water repellant) and then lay two beach towels on top of it for extra absorbency, apparently the towels will absorb most of the fluid and add some cushion too. ¬†Just like the wool puddle pad we have for the crib, we got a similar mattress protector for the twin, and the towel trick. We will have to see how it works, and thankfully, so far we haven’t had to test it out.

What tips did you use for your little ones as they reached the milestone of getting a big kid bed?

Posted in Big Kid Beds, Sleep, Toddlers | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Peanut, peanut butter!

Well, I did it. I gave my youngest peanut butter! With all the increased awareness of peanut allergies these days, I feel like we are so much more scared to introduce nuts, especially peanuts, to our children these days. I wonder what it was like when my mother wanted to give me peanut butter for the first time? Being a vegetarian, and raising our two daughters that way too, peanuts and other nuts are an excellent source of protein for us. ¬†My oldest is, thankfully, not allergic to peanuts, and I was hoping the same for our little one. So what did I do to introduce it to her? I went about it the same way as I did with my other daughter. About a half-hour before her one-year doctors appointment I gave her some peanut butter and hoped for the best! And, if any reaction did occur, we were headed to the doctor anyway! And the good news….she was fine. I’m excited we can now all have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches together! (And if that wasn’t the case, we love almond butter too!)

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The reason for it all – Potty Training!

What I mean is, the reason being why I started this blog in the first place! After one emotional and challenging weekend back in August when we attempted to potty train our oldest daughter, I decided I needed to be recording my adventures in parenting so that when my good friends asked me questions I could remember what I had gone through! (And for the second child too!)

So, potty training, or as I have better come to understand and appreciate the term – toilet learning. I like the later so much better because it really shouldn’t be about you, as the parent or caregiver, trying to train your child like a dog, but more that your child learn the necessary functions surrounding how to use a toilet to go to the bathroom. There are so many important skills necessary to do this. The first, and most important, is the ability to recognize their body needs to eliminate waste, and how to control their muscles enough to do so until they are on the toilet. In my opinion this is not something you can train a child to do, this is something they must learn by listening to their body. And more importantly, be physically and mentally mature enough to do.

I had read TONS of articles online about so and so’s guaranteed potty training program, three day potty training, no excuses, this will work if you follow it EXACTLY as outlined, and I admit, our first attempt at potty training was utilizing a boot-legged copy of one of these methods my friend had sworn by. Yet all the while, in the back of my mind I second-guessed the fact that none of these so-called potty training guru’s were doctors! They were just some parent that had success in one particular method and had enough of ¬†a following to build a program that they could then sell to anxious parents. I worried about the medical implications that come with potty training too soon, and nowhere in ANY of these programs did I read mention of that; this worried me. I had talked to my doctor a few times about potty training and she had always said, “if she is really ready, it takes ONE day!” And you know, in the end, she was right. Of course. Yet, HOW did I know when she was ready? Well, that is the part that is tricky. Every child is ready on their own timeline, but there are a few indicators that might help determine that. I looked to one of my favorite child development books, TouchPoints by Dr. Brazelton (listed on my parents bookshelf page) and his markers for readiness. Mainly, the fact that she was interested in the toilet (she had been since 18 months, so we got her a potty to sit on, and she did, often, but rarely did anything happen), she was usually dry when she woke up from a nap, and she had tell signs that she needed to use the bathroom. ¬†So we embarked on our first weekend of toilet learning!

Here is what we did, and yes, we failed the first time, BUT I learned a lot! To set the weekend up both my husband and I had read one of the recommended “toilet training in three days” manuals, bought 21 pairs of underwear (decorated with characters I knew my daughter would love – and since we use compostable diapers, she never had such fun pictures to greet her every time she pulled down her pants!), created a sticker chart WITH her, where every so many stickers meant a tangible prize, (one that wasn’t food, as I was trying to not use food as a reward, so I took a trip to the dollar bins at Target, and got a few bigger ticket items too!), checked out multiple potty books and DVD’s from the library to read and view with her, made sure to roll up all the rugs in her room, and overall, told my daughter were were throwing away all diapers, and were prepared to spend every waking minute with her for three days straight!

The method we had subscribed to centered around the fact that your child will start to show signs they are going to urinate, and you have to be ready, in the beginning, to whisk them to the potty so that they learn to associate that feeling with eliminating on the toilet. She was supposed to have underwear on so that she could learn to keep them dry, and the feeling of them being wet; and last, we weren’t supposed to ask her if she had to go to the bathroom, yet VERY often remind her to tell us when she had to go. In my opinion, it was practically the same thing, whether the words were, “do you have to go to the bathroom?” or “remember to tell us when you need to go to the potty,” they were still reminders. But, I was trying to follow the program as instructed. ¬†We also didn’t move the potty to the room we were in, as the child had to learn how to control themselves enough to get to the potty from wherever they were. I liked this idea. I had read others where you put potty’s everywhere in the house, but wondered how that taught bladder control. Same with programs where you set a timer and every 15 minutes bring them to the potty; I wondered how it helped support bladder function. ¬†I also liked that she got to wear underwear, as for me, I thought it part of toilet learning to be important to know the mechanics of how to pull on and off underwear. All in all this seemed like a good program for us; and it was, it just wasn’t the right time. The first day was rough, I felt like a hawk watching for prey, wondering at what moment she might start peeing and I would need to rush her to the potty. We had several accidents that day, but she did tell us some of the time that she need to use the bathroom, and she LOVED filling her sticker chart and getting a reward every so often. The second day was better, less accidents, yet I still felt like a predator watching over prey and was exhausted from being glued to my child every minute of the day. Surprisingly, she remained dry through both her nap times, and the moment her eyes opened I had swooped her up and brought her near the bathroom just in case! By day three, she was still doing well, she was able to control her bladder enough that if she started urinating she could stop it and get to the toilet. Near success, I thought! Yet by the end of that third day I still did not feel confident she was truly toilet learned. She told us about half the time that she needed to go, and the other half she just had accidents. According to the program, by day three, we were supposed to be nearly potty trained by now. I wasn’t convinced. So I emailed my doctor and told her the saga of the weekend. I explained how well my daughter was doing, but that she was still having accidents, and how I when I tried to put a diaper on her at the end of the third day, she refused and wanted to be a big girl, but that I didn’t feel she really was truly ready. My doctor said that she probably wasn’t ready. She explained that there is a difference between care-giver trained and toilet trained. Caregivers can be sure to send the child to the potty, remind them to use the potty, and children can usually be pretty successful at staying dry doing so, but they aren’t truly toilet learned until they can recognize the signals their body is sending them, use their muscle control and remove their clothing mostly on their own to be able to eliminate on the toilet. ¬†What else I did that day is call my daycare provider. She had helped potty train plenty of kids, and had wonderful insights to doing so! After talking to her we had a new plan. Pull-ups!

At first I was so against pull-ups. They are just glorified diapers, and in the three-day program we had tried they were a sin. I couldn’t believe I was about to buy them. But I did, (and luckily my compostable diaper service carries a pull-up training pant) and it was the best thing I ever did. ¬†Since I didn’t feel confident in my daughter’s toilet learning capacity after our three day test run, and I wasn’t about to be cleaning up accidents in public for the next few months; pull-ups were the answer! I explained to my daughter that they were like underwear, but helped protect us from getting too messy if we had an accident. She was happy to wear them, because she saw she could still practice using the potty and pull them up and down. To me, she wasn’t potty trained in pull-ups by any means, but she was learning about how to use the toilet and I didn’t have the stress of worrying about an accident. We still tried the potty, encouraged her to tell us if she needed to use the restroom, and did everything we would have if she was in regular underwear, but there was no pressure. She needed a few months to figure out the mechanics of pulling up and down her pants, and we also helped her. She learned to recognize when she wet herself and would often tell us if she needed to be changed. From August to January we had toilet learning practice and more and more I could see she was getting closer to making the switch to big girl underwear for real. We probably could have tried in late November or December, but it was really me holding back, I just didn’t want to deal with it all again. One weekend we had very little planned, so we decided it was the right time to try again. And this time it worked! No sticker chart, no reminders, no pulling up the rugs, all we did is put her in ¬†underwear one morning, and reminded her to tell us when she needed to use the bathroom. Not one single accident till the third day. She was ready. She could even pull down her pants, get herself on the toilet, and wipe, because she had so much practice doing so. Then we wipe, close the lid, flush and wash hands. Voila! Our doctor was right, it did only take one day. No special program necessary.

The pivotal thing I took away from all of this – any method works, and works well, when your child is truly ready. There will still be accidents from time to time, because yes, toilet learning is a process and little ones get distracted playing, but that’s normal. Just remember not to make a big deal about it. Accidents happen, and be sure to tell your child that. They will probably be more upset about the accident than you are.

What I was most concerned about was pushing this potty training on my daughter before she was truly ready. I had read about causing constipation problems, bladder infections, and other emotional stresses if she wasn’t physically ready. A child’s muscles have to develop to a certain physical maturity and their bladder has to be large enough too, otherwise there can be health concerns. Usually by age three this physical development has occurred, but it does happen sooner for some, later for others. Toilet learning should not be a competition for you, your child potty trained before so and so’s; it’s about when YOUR chid is ready for their own body. You’ll save yourself a lot of stress and anxiety (not to mention months of cleaning up accidents) if you wait till the timing is just right. Not to say you can’t attempt a potty training weekend if you think your child might be ready. If anything, try putting them in pull-ups for a week, or more, and treat it as underwear, might be a good first step. It was for us, and I’m not going to charge for that advice either. ¬†: )

And lastly, some good products once you decide to toilet train. My life saver is a piddle pad insert for the car seat, so if in case there is an accident on a road trip or even a quick jaunt to the store, all you have to wash and remove is the insert instead of the entire car seat liner. Another favorite is this travel potty. We’ve pulled over a few times when the urge hit and it was time for a pit stop. It is nice because it doubles as a seat cover for larger toilets, or relatives houses. We store it under the seat! I also have a foldable seat cover that I sometimes put in my diaper bag to use with public toilet seats, but I wouldn’t say you have to have one.

What tricks of toilet training worked for your family? What surprised you about the whole process? I’d love to hear, as we have one more to potty train in the next few years…but not till she’s ready!

Posted in Helpful Products, Potty training, Toddlers, Words of Wisdom | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Bathing with Baby

Just a quick tip that I thought I’d share. This is one of my favorite pieces of advice from my mother after my oldest was born. I needed to shower with my little one, and was nervous about her being slippery in my arms in the shower water. My mom said she used to take a burp cloth/cloth diaper and sandwich it between her and I and it provided better friction in the water. Genius! Great for when you are traveling and need to shower your baby too!

What wonderful pieces of wisdom/helpful tips did your mother have for you about raising babies?

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A Parent’s Love

This post has been a long time coming. It has taken me awhile to first, have the time to write it, and second, the ability to put my feelings in words has been hard. This post has no amazing advice, no cool gadget to help make your life easier, it is more a chain of thoughts which have been on my mind. Since I know I am not alone in my feelings here, I thought I would share. Ever since the Newtown tragedy my heart has been heavy. I can’t seem to stop thinking about the families impacted by such loss. The first week after the incident was really hard, not just for me, but for our nation, and especially for parents and teachers. Being both a teacher and a parent, I had many emotions ringing through me. At first I couldn’t figure out why I just couldn’t let it go, let my mind free of the tangled mess of sadness I kept internalizing, and then I realized why. Why? Because I am now a parent. I will send my children to school one day, I will let my daughters play outside, I have moments where they are not with me, and I will do so with the hope and belief that for the most part this world is a safe place. This tragedy robbed us all of some of that confidence. Not only were innocent, beautiful lives lost, but parents everywhere were reminded of the dangers of this world, dangers we didn’t think could exist, and more so, dangers we have no control over. NO control over. That is what makes this so hard to process. I can control what foods I buy for my family, what products we use, where we go, but there are many facets of our lives which we just can’t control, and hence, can build up so much anxiety in us that we have to wonder, is it worth the worry. I read a wonderful quote the other evening by Elizabeth Stone, which really put my feelings to words, “Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” So what are we to do? We can’t stop living and stay inside with our children for the rest of our lives, we can’t keep our children so attached to us that they never become independent, thoughtful people, and we certainly can’t cover them from head to toe in bullet proof vests, bubble wrap, or nose-mouth face masks (no matter how many times we might have wanted to!). None of that is living. As a mother, I have to be vulnerable. I have to cherish every moment, and I do. It is sad that such a horrible event had to happen to remind us to hug our children tighter, we should do it every opportunity we can. ¬†As the quote reminds me, there is nothing more magical, more scary, more rewarding or more challenging than being a parent; and knowing that only so much of their lives is under your influence can be difficult to succumb to. And yet, on the flip side, whatever I can do to make my daughters’ lives long, happy, fulfilling, healthy and safe, I will do.

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