So, What’s Your Dream Job?

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The question “So, what’s your dream job?” in and of itself is innocent enough. And I don’t blame people around me for asking. Everyone’s curious and I think the assumption is that pretty much nobody is working in their dream job.

I have typically said in the past that my dream job would be working at a newspaper or working for a non-profit helping people. And while neither of those are false, I would love doing those things, I have come to realize they’re not 100 percent accurate.

But my real answer never felt good enough.

Because truth is, I love being a stay at home mom. I don’t mean it in like an “every moment is perfect” kind of way, because it certainly isn’t. There are moments that are hard. And moments where I want to quit and throw in the towel.

But wouldn’t every dream job be like that? No job is perfect and every job takes hard work. I know that people who did great and amazing things with their lives faced a lot of setbacks along the way. I mean, Marie Curie accomplished a lot of great things in her life and she ultimately died because of them, because of her exposure to so much radiation.

But sometimes what I am doing feels too mundane to be my dream job, feels too ordinary. I remember when I was in college and was first pregnant and I got some comments that I had so much potential that I was wasting by being “just” a mom. So then when I really started to enjoy being a mom, I sort of kept it inside. This wasn’t good enough to be my dream right? I wasn’t even sure I wanted this dream. I know it wasn’t the thing I dreamed about when I was a kid.

But this is the truth. I love being a mom. The good, the bad, the ugly. Well, maybe not the ugly. Maybe I don’t love every moment. And maybe sometimes it is hard. And it’s not perfect. And sometimes I send Nick a text that says, “I quit.” I’m only human. But most of the time, I love what I do. And that’s good enough for me.

This is not to say that everyone should love it. I know being a stay at home mom is not for everyone. That’s okay too. We are all gifted differently and we are all different people. Lots of people have a dream job that I would never enjoy. Like I would never want to be a veterinarian. So not my thing. But there are people for whom that is their thing. Great for them, not for me.

Being a mom is my thing. And I’m going to embrace it.

What’s your dream job? 

Me and my boys, just an every day in my dream job

 

Why I Quit Potty Training

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Why I quit potty training

Potty training. It seems sometimes like it’s on your mind from the moment they are born, when you’re changing a million diapers a day and you’re like, “I can’t wait until this kid potty trains so I don’t have to change diapers anymore.” But I’m here to tell you that I am a potty training quitter. Yup, I said it. I quit potty training. Read on to find out why I quit potty training.

It seems around age 2 the pressure starts to build. People start asking you about it, other kids around you start doing it, and it suddenly feels like if you’re not doing it too, you’re missing the boat and your kid is never going to potty train or that if you “miss your window” it will be enormously difficult.

So, all of those forces combined for me to try potty training Dominic when he was 2 1/2. It was a disaster. We were having no success and it was stressing me out terribly. I felt like I couldn’t successfully prevent Dominic from having an accident and take care of Allen, who was still little and nursing a lot. But everything I had read told me that once I had started, I couldn’t stop or he would never learn to potty train!

Thankfully, some friends helped convince me that it was okay to quit. That it was stressing me out too much to continue and that he would eventually get it and we were not doomed to a life of diapers if he didn’t potty train that instant.

So I quit. And I felt at first like a failure. Even though my friends assured me that I was not a failure. But it’s not like I have a crystal ball – or even a magic 8 ball – that could tell me how this would all work out in the future.

But I am pleased to say that after Dominic was 3 we tried again and it was completely different. It was a breeze because he was ready and if I could go back in time, I would just wait until he was ready and save us both the stress of trying to do it just because everyone else was doing it and not because he was ready.

Every day, we all face pressures around us to do things a certain way or for our kids to be doing things a certain way or at a certain time because other kids around them are. Or because of something you read. Or because of a comment someone else made to you. It’s okay to do it in your own way and your own time. I need to repeat this to myself about 50 times a day, at least, but it truly is okay.

I wrote this today, because I wish I had read something, anything like this that said quitting potty training was okay and that you weren’t dooming your kid to a lifetime of diapers! But I think there are broader points here, that sometimes it is okay to quit and that knowing your limits and knowing when to step back is a valuable skill to have. I was glad I quit potty training! Have you ever quit something and were glad you quit? 

Photo Credit: Scott SM via Compfight cc Photo altered to add text.

How to Respect Other Parents’ Decisions

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I feel I have grown so much as a person since I became a parent. This should come as no shock to anyone, but I have read a lot on parenting (and on a lot of other random things as well, but that’s besides the point) and pre-kids, I really thought that if you just did the things the parenting experts said, things would turn out perfectly well and we’d all be groovy and have wonderful kids.During this time I really didn’t know how to respect other parents’ decisions and I probably looked down on far too many people.

Hahahahahahahaha. Oh my deluded 20-year-old self. I have since learned that nothing is that easy and that parenting isn’t black and white. There isn’t one right way to parent and there’s no perfect formula for perfect kids.

But I probably owe some apologies to some people for the attitude I had when I thought there was. I feel I have come a long way in learning to let things go and learning that other people are doing the best thing for their children. I am still not perfect at this. The same tendencies of control that I struggle with in parenting make it hard not to want to control other people’s lives as well. And I don’t think I’m alone in this struggle so I’ve included this handy flow chart to help us decide when we should say something to other people about how they are parenting.

How to Respect Other Parents' Decisions

As you can tell, I feel most of the time, it is not okay to say something to someone else on things that are really for them to decide. You don’t know their family situation and you don’t know their kids. They are most likely doing what works for them. Telling a mom who feeds their kid canned vegetables that they are feeding them trash because you only buy fresh organic vegetables does not help anyone. Their kids are not any less loved than yours. Before you say something to someone, think about how it would come across if someone said it to you. This especially goes for passive aggressive comments like, “I feel so sad for that baby having to ride in a stroller.” Why? Is that baby not loved? Does their doing it a different way than you mean they love their baby less? No. How would you feel if someone said they were sad for your baby? It would probably upset you right? Because the implication is that there’s something worth being sad about. These are examples of how not to respect other parents’ decisions. If you do chose to say something, you can find a nice way to say it. People’s minds are rarely changed when they feel like you are attacking them and making someone feel like a terrible parent is definitely a way to make them feel like you are attacking them.

We would all be better off if we were able to extend more compassion and understanding to the other parents around us. This is a good example to set for our children and it will help to foster a greater sense of community among parents. In the words of Elsa, “Let it go.” It’s okay for people to do things differently. Of course, none of this will ever be able to do this perfectly, but I do think we can strive to do better.

Have you ever felt judged by another parent? How did it make you feel? How can you respect other parents’ decisions?

My caveat to this post is that I am talking mainly about things that are a matter of opinion/a difference of style. There are obviously things that are wrong (beating your children is one that springs to mind) but I don’t see most people putting down other people over those things, I more see people putting down other people over petty things that aren’t right/wrong, the gray areas of life. 

Poison Control

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So, it has happened to all of us, I’m sure. If it hasn’t happened to you, well, kudos to you! Haha. But your kid eats something they shouldn’t and you aren’t sure whether or not it is dangerous to them. What can you do? Well, I do sometimes see people asking on Facebook groups, but as much as I love my Facebook groups, they are not always an accurate supplier of information. Shocker, right? I hope this was already obvious to you!

But there is one place that will give you reliable information: Poison Control.

The Quick Guide to Poison Control

Now, sometimes people are hesitant to call Poison Control. I’m not 100 percent sure why, but I think it has to do with fear of being judged. (“My child ate sunscreen, they are going to think I am a horrible parent!”) Or fear that CPS will be called on them. (This is sad that we live in a day and age where we worry that every parenting decision or mishap will wind up with CPS at our door.)

But in my experience with Poison Control, they are a great resource. They are always calm, caring, and compassionate. I have never felt judged by them. They take the time to tell you if you need to worry about it and what you need to do. They tell you all the things to watch for that indicate that there would be a further problem developing. Sometimes, they will even make a follow-up call at a later time to make sure that your child is still okay. This happened with Allen once, when I called immediately about something he ate and they were like well, because he just ate it, problems could still happen, so watch for these things to develop and call us back if they do and we’ll also check back on you in an hour to see how he’s doing, because if you make it past that hour he’s probably fine. They are such a great resource for you as a parent, especially because of their calm demeanor.

We have a magnet on our fridge with the number and I have it programmed into my phone as well. If you have a cell phone, I do highly recommend programming it into your phone so that you’re not spending time trying to look it up if you need it. In America, the number is 1-800-222-1222. Calling that number from anywhere in the US will connect you with your local poison control center 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In Canada, there are several numbers depending on where you live, so I recommend that you look up the number for your province or territory.

I hope you’ve never had to call Poison Control, but if you have, how was your experience? Did you find them as helpful as I have found them to be? 

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and this post is not intended to be medical advice. If you have further questions about your child’s health, I suggest you speak with your pediatrician or another qualified medical professional. 

This post is linked up to Monday Madness at How to Get Organized at Home

The Science of Mom Book Review

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Disclosure: I was provided with a copy of this book for free! Regardless, I would only give you my 100 percent honest opinion. You all know that 😉 This page also may contain affiliate links, where I’ll receive a small portion of the price if you buy through my link. 

Name of book: The Science of Mom: A Research-Based Guide to Your Baby’s First YearThe Science of Mom Book Cover

Author: Alice Callahan, PhD

Summary: There’s a lot of science out there about how to parent – and some of it is conflicting at times. In this book, Dr. Alice Callahan, PhD, wades through the science to help you understand it and figure out what the best choices for your family might be. It covers a wide range of topics including sleep, infant feeding and nutrition, and vaccines. 

Rating: 5 stars

Reason for rating: I have to say that I loved this book. It touches on such major topics as delayed cord clamping, the standard newborn procedures, breast milk or formula, sleep safety and sleep science, vaccines, and the introduction of solid foods. I consider myself to be a pretty well-researched parent – I’m always striving to learn more to try to make the best decisions for my kiddos – and I still learned tons from this book. Science is fascinating and I never knew that in high school, but I feel like I have learned that more and more since becoming an adult. Some of the stuff I learned in this book was huge (vaccines help reduce the SIDS risk) to just fascinating (In one study, babies were able to suck pacifiers faster in order to hear a recording of their mom reading Dr. Seuss). I loved that it takes a straight forward approach. I also love that she explained the science in a concise way that didn’t feel like she was dumbing it down. It was thrilling to learn so many new things and to learn more of the science behind choices that I had already made (like vaccines). I would recommend the book to anyone who is curious about how science and parenting interact and I would especially recommend it to people who have concerns about vaccines and to people who want to know more about introducing solid foods to their babies in terms of timing, what to introduce, and so on, as those are two sections that I think she covers especially well.  We do disagree on BLW a bit, but I still feel she makes some reasonable points about it – and this is an area where I feel there isn’t a ton of science yet, though she does do a good job covering the science that is out there. 

Find The Science of Mom on Amazon

Find The Science of Mom on Goodreads

Have you read The Science of Mom? What did you think of it? 

Food Before One is Just For Fun . . . Or Is It?

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One of my most loathed internet phrases is “Food before one is just for fun.” I’m not really sure where this phrase got its start and I’m sure initial intentions were good, but it’s sort of taken on a life of its own. I think it’s intentions were to say – don’t stress about food! But instead people use it to mean things like food isn’t important and that it’s okay if you don’t offer it. I’m not 100 percent sure, but I suspect Mayim Bialik’s decision to nurse her kids exclusively for a year may have something to do with it as she has become quite the outspoken attachment parenting spokesperson in Hollywood and so much of celebrity culture trickles down even when you’re not paying attention. So today I want to do some myth busting. I’ll explore why it’s valuable and link to a bunch of resources as well.

Before we start, I just want to put it out there that I started both my boys at six months with baby led weaning. It’s been absolutely a blast for us and I’m so glad we did it. That being said, what I’m about to say applies to any complementary foods – baby led weaning or traditional weaning. Many of my sources promote a traditional weaning approach, so note that if you click on any links. (Some day I will do a post on baby led weaning). I’m also going to say up front that I’m probably going to mention breastfeeding a lot, not that I think this info doesn’t apply to formula fed babies, but because I feel like I have more often heard these things from breastfeeding mothers than from formula feeding mothers and because a lot of the food before one is just for fun argument rests on the assumption that breastmilk is a perfect food.

This is going to be a link heavy post, but if you want the tl;dr version (haha), food is important for babies after six months. There, we can all go home now (Just kidding).

Dominic enjoying some berries (or cherries)

Nutrients

Breastfeeding activists, in particular, like to point out what a perfect food breastmilk is. And it is an excellent food source – certainly I feel so as I breastfed Dominic to 20 months and am still breastfeeding Allen at 9 months. But that does not mean that solid foods aren’t important nutritionally.

Don’t just take my word for it. A lot of highly reputable organizations stress the importance of the introduction of complementary foods. The WHO, which promotes breastfeeding until 2 years minimum, still says, “After six months of age, however, it becomes increasingly difficult for breastfed infants to meet their nutrient needs from human milk alone (WHO/UNICEF, 1998). Furthermore, most infants are developmentally ready for other foods at about six months (Naylor and Morrow, 2001).” (Page 11) UNICEF echoes this “Adequate complementary feeding of children from 6 months onwards is particularly important for growth and development and the prevention of undernutrition.”

Iron is the nutrient most in question, followed by zinc. Insufficient iron, also known as anemia, can have serious consequences on development. From the AAP, “Exclusive breastfeeding for more than 6 months has been associated with increased risk of IDA [iron deficiency anemia] at 9 months of age.” (Page 5) This study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that effects of anemia in infancy can last to adulthood and can include developmental and motor delays. Iron is extremely important for cognitive development, I can not stress that enough.

Now one point that people like the argue with on this is that the iron in breastmilk is more bioavailable. That is most certainly true. But, being more bioavailable doesn’t make up for the fact that it is still a small amount. From the WHO, “Breast milk can make a substantial contribution to the total nutrient intake of children between 6 and 24 months of age, particularly for protein and many of the vitamins. However, breast milk is relatively low in several minerals such as iron and zinc, even after accounting for bioavailability. At 9-11 months of age, for example, the proportion of the Recommended Nutrient Intake that needs to be supplied by complementary foods is 97% for iron, 86% for zinc, 81% for phosphorus, 76% for magnesium, 73% for sodium and 72% for calcium (Dewey, 2001).” (Page 22) That means breastmilk isn’t providing all the iron they need and not even close to it. Science of Mom does a great job covering breastmilk and iron even more in-depth and I’ve linked to it below.

They also need the extra energy. Growing is hard work and babies certainly do a lot of it! If you look at where they go from newborn to a 1-year-old, you can just see the changes and growth that they go through. Better Health Channel, run by the government of Victoria in Australia, emphasizes this as one of their points. “It’s also important that starting solids is not left too late, as this may lead to problems including [p]oor growth due to low energy intake.” If you’ve ever had a day where you didn’t eat enough and you felt sluggish and tired, you know how hard that is to push through, especially at work. Now imagine being a baby, doing some of your most critical growing, and trying to do it when you are low in energy. It would be difficult to say the least. Solids can help provide the extra energy that they need.

Dominic eating

Motor Skills

Learning how to eat takes an entirely new skill set than taking a bottle or breast does. You need to learn to chew, to move the food around in your mouth, to figure out what size you need to make your food in order to swallow it, to learn how to pick the food up and move it to your mouth. Waiting too long may result in these motor skills being delayed. From the WHO again, “There is suggestive evidence of a ‘critical window’ for introducing ‘lumpy’ solid foods: if these are delayed beyond 10 months of age, it may increase the risk of feeding difficulties later on (Northstone et al., 2001).” (Page 20) Colorado State University says similar, “Introducing solid foods after 9 months may result in an infant who is resistant to trying solid foods, and may have difficulty chewing.” This post on speech and introduction of foods says, “A delay in introducing solids with different textures as your baby develops, can lead to a fussy infant unwilling to accept new tastes and textures, as well as a delay in chewing and muscle development, which can affect speech sounds later on.” I encourage you to check out that whole post as it covers which speech sounds are related to what mouth movements – that will help you really get an idea of why the introduction of solid foods strongly aids in the development of motor skills.

Allen enjoying scrambled eggs

Allergies

There is a growing body of evidence that strongly suggests that waiting too long to introduce potentially allergenic foods is more likely to cause allergies. There are a ton of studies out there to back this up – so I’m not going to link to all of them today. This is, in part, a separate topic, as the recommendations for many years were to wait on the top allergy causing foods and so there are still people who introduce foods at the appropriate time and yet still wait on the allergy foods, but I did want to bring up one study in particular that I thought was especially relevant. In this small study published in Clinical and Experimental Allergy the researchers found that exclusively breastfeeding past 9 months of age was associated with more atopic dermatitis and symptoms of food hypersensitivity in children whose family had a history of allergies. Now, granted, this is just one small study. But, I think it is helpful when you look at the broader context of the many studies that are finding withholding allergens causes food allergies, it makes this one study much more plausible. Food allergies are scary, scary things. They can have deadly consequences. Introducing these foods at 6 months + can be a step towards preventing them. It is a small, not crazy, totally doable thing.

Allen eating kiwi

Picky Eaters

I think we all want to avoid a picky eater. The internet is just full of moms on message boards worrying about their picky toddlers. Waiting too long can contribute to this problem. A pamphlet from the government of Western Australia says when you wait too long to introduce solid foods, “It becomes harder for your baby to accept new tastes and textures.” This somewhat ties back into motor skills, as there does seem to be a crucial period for developing lumpier foods. I think there is a window of opportunity where they are very open to new solid food experiences and that missing it can make introducing them to new things a lot harder. This is, of course, no guarantee, but there’s very little downside to introducing them to new foods, but the potential for a rejection of those new foods in waiting to introduce them.

Dominic enjoying some cantaloupe

This is what I know. At the end of the day, most mothers are trying to do what’s best for their child. They want solids to be fun and not stressful – and I don’t blame them! The internet is full of moms worrying about whether or not their kid can eat this or that, what order foods should be introduced in, whether or not there’s an ideal time of day to introduce foods, and a whole plethora of other questions. There are even well-meaning websites that promote charts of what order to introduce foods that are not based in any science but that have the power to 100 percent stress parents out. So what I’m saying in this post is not stress about food – that kind of attitude helps no one. What I am saying, however, is that food before one is very important, nutritionally, for the development of their motor skills, and for the potential prevention of allergies and picky eating habits. Knowing its importance, however, does not have to make it stressful. What is does do is enable you to make decisions taking into account that it is important. So here’s to doing away with the phrase “Food before one is just for fun.”

Allen eating green beans

Further Reading

Vlog: One Simple Bedtime Tip

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