Wednesday, January 20, 2016

How I Stopped Bedtime Drama

For months, I did the bedtime routine I'm sure that many of you are familiar with:
  1. Soothing Bathtime
  2. Brush teeth
  3. PJs
  4. Read books
  5. Prayers
  6. Hugs & kisses
  7. Sleepy time
Only ours never went this smoothly. It was more like this:
  1. Exuberant Bathtime...splash all the water out of the tub soaking mommy in the process.
  2. Bargain with toddler to brush his teeth and end up doing it for him.
  3. Wrestle toddler into pajamas while he jumps on the bed.
  4. Pick out a minimum of 5 books. Read each book a minimum of 3 times.
  5. Say prayers. Thank God for Daniel Tiger, Goldfish crackers and the park, you know, the important stuff.
  6. Give hugs and kisses. Just one more, and another.
  7. Toddler asks for water.
  8. Toddler asks for a snack.
  9. Toddler asks for a back rub.
  10. Toddler finally drifts off after having his back rubbed for 20 minutes. 
  11. Mommy leaves the room.
  12. Toddler is awake and upset that his back is no longer being rubbed.
  13. Repeat steps 4 - 10 as necessary.
This exhausting routine went on night after night because I believed that this song and dance would lull my son into peaceful slumber and give me good mom bonus points because I was doing all the things "good" moms do. One night I decided I was done. After getting my son dressed for bed, I tucked him in, kissed his forehead, told him I loved him and that I'd see him in the morning. I turned around and left the room. BOOM. Mic Drop. Mom's out. No stories, no prayers, no requests for water and snacks. Just no. I waited in the other room for him to run out of his room raising all kinds of holy hell that mommy didn't follow the bedtime schtick. But here's the thing...he didn't. He FREAKING WENT TO SLEEP!

We have repeated the simplified bedtime every night for the last month. And sweet fancy Moses, it has been a game changer. I don't dread bedtime each night. I've recouped an hour of my day to spend alone with my husband, and amazingly our son is sleeping better. 

That's not to say that he doesn't peek his head out of his bedroom down the hallway at me after I've put him to bed. What has changed is that I do not engage. I no longer fly down the hallway to tuck him back in and start the routine anew. I tell him (from my comfy chair) "Hey Bubba, it's time to rest your body. Get back into bed." and that's that. He scampers up into his bed and typically when I check on him a few minutes later he's fast asleep clutching a truck, or frisbee, or whatever item has become precious to him that day.

For our boy, a simple bedtime is best. And once I let go of the ridiculous notion of mom guilt over not creating a magical bedtime experience for my two year old, I was happier too! Bottom line, we make life special for our kids in a variety of ways everyday. Not everything has to be sparkly and full of fairy-dust, and re-pinable for Pinterest. Maybe bedtime can just be bedtime.

(I am fully aware that by publishing this post, my son will likely decide to rage against this cruel new bedtime regime and develop some sort of 2 year sleep regression because #jinxing)

Monday, January 11, 2016

#MotherhoodMonday - Motherhood Misconceptions

Before I became a mother, I thought that the biggest change that motherhood would bring to me as a person, would be the title of "mom". I knew that motherhood would change my lifestyle, my schedule, my body, and my sleep, but I believed that the same "Lindsey" would still be there underneath all the diapers and bottles and stretchy pants. I couldn't have been more wrong. Yes, there are still vestiges of pre-mom Lindsey: my sense of humor, love of chocolate, half-hearted crafting, empathetic crying, and love of losing myself in a good book; but there has been a deep and irrevocable change that has taken place. 

I look at life through a different lens now. I no longer think of just myself and my spouse when making decisions. I also think WAY more long term than I ever have in my previous 35 years. I've always been a bit of a Pollyanna, and while a desire to see the best in people still exists in me, it has been tempered with a more analytical and scrutinous side. 

Becoming a mother also intensified my radar. You know what I mean, that gut-check instinct that makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck if something doesn't feel quite right. Motherhood hasn't made me fearful, but it has taught me to trust my instincts and not feel silly if I need to walk away from someplace or someone. 

Motherhood expanded my emotions in ways I didn't know possible. If you've found yourself dealing with a toddler lately you know that you can go from immense pride to frustration to a soul crushing love in a matter of an hour and that is just a Monday. 

I wondered how these changes could be so huge, so encompassing, so drastic. For years it has been chalked up to being a mother's love, but now science has some incredible and exciting things to explain these changes. Hang with me, I'm about to go science nerd on you:

  • Your baby is imbedded (literally) in you.  We spend 10 months with our babies in utero; feeding them and literally forming them into existence. That alone would make for a powerful connection and bond, but now scientists have found an even more fascinating link. Cells from your child can travel from the placenta into other parts of your body, taking up residence in your organs. So a little piece of your child(ren) still lives inside you. Scientific American explains it so much better than I do, so check out this article.
  • After childbirth, your brain grows. In a 2010 study, researchers looked at brain-scan images of 19 women before an after they gave birth and found that the size of mothers' brains increased shortly after childbirth. I'm guessing we need the increase of gray matter to deal with the intense sleep-deprivation and still function. 
  • Becoming a parent looks a lot like falling in love. Moms experience a surge of oxytocin when looking at/feeding/nurturing their babies and this triggers similar responses in the amygdala as those falling in love. It helps explain that crazy wave of love you feel when you hold your newborn (and can't stop sniffing their head). 
So to say that my pre-conceived notion of retaining myself unchanged after motherhood was a misconception would be an understatement. This little man has altered me in all the best ways possible and I wouldn't go back if I could!

Photo Courtesy of Laura Beck Photography

Want to join the fun for next week's #MotherhoodMonday? Email for more info!

Follow along with these other awesome moms who joined today's link-up:

Amber Marie
Amber Joy

Monday, January 4, 2016

#MotherhoodMonday - Motherhood Mantras

Happy Monday, friends! I'm joining up with The Mother Blog this week for her #MotherhoodMonday series. If you haven't started following her, link up with her on Instagram @themotherblog! This week's writing theme is Motherhood Mantras. 

  1. (originally in Hinduism and Buddhism) a word or sound repeated to aid concentration in meditation.

I don't know about you, but sitting quietly repeating a word or sound to calm myself and concentrate doesn't really happen in my home.  I could use a little more zen in my life. So while peaceful, meditative mantras may not be a staple in my home, there are some words I live by and statements I repeat to myself when I feel tired and overwhelmed by it all:

  • Don't compare your behind-the-scenes with everyone's highlight reel: I admit it, I struggle with comparison. It's damn near impossible not to. So when I feel that sinking feeling in my gut that my house/hair/clothes/car/vacation/family aren't measuring up to what I see in my news feed, I give myself a social media time out and count my blessings.

  • Be Kind, Always: Recently I've had a handful of friends open up to me about personal struggles that I would have had ZERO clue about had they not told me. We don't all wear our hurts and battles on our sleeves, so kindness should always be our default. You never know who is struggling with infertility, marriage troubles, grieving a family member, battling depression, fighting illness, or a plethora of other issues. This also helps me approach my child with kindness. He may be having a tantrum, or acting out, but I try to calm myself and remind myself to approach with kindness. I get down on his level and find out what the problem is. Is he tired, teething, or frustrated that he can't physically do something? I want my son to learn to be kind and who is a better role model than his parent?
  • Say Yes: When I was pregnant with my son, a co-worker and mother of 3 grown boys gave me a wonderful nugget of advice. She said, "There will be plenty of times you have to tell your child no. So whenever possible, say yes." This really stuck with me. I remind myself to say yes to my toddler as often as I can in a day. Now, I don't give in to every request for more cookies, but if the thing he's asking isn't going to hurt him, or spoil his dinner, I pretty much say yes. Yes, I'll play blocks with you. Yes, we can color. Yes, mommy will run in circles and chase you. Yes, we can pull all the pillows off the bed and make a fort. Just say yes.

I'm less than 2 years into his parenting gig, but I can tell you that the biggest takeaway so far is that we're all doing our best as we go. When I think back to my parents when they were my age, I remember thinking they were so wise and always knew what to do. Now I know that they were probably just winging it. I'm sure they went to bed at night and looked at each other and were grateful to have made it through another day. So mommas, I give you each a virtual high-five this Monday. We made it through to another week. Let's get out there and wing it. :) 

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