This post will start out looking like a sleep post but I’ll get to the point. The last two nights (not coincidentally the two nights I’ve been solo getting up with her) Ella has ended up in the sidecarred twin (‘her’ bed) in our room. It’s hard to think coherently at 1 am but for some reason I felt like moving her in our room was a night weaning failure. At some point real recently (when I was a little less exhausted maybe?) I came to the realization that having her in our room wasn’t a fail if it WORKED. Because she’s been up hourly pretty much for the last almost two weeks.Presumably this is a symptom of teething (PLEASE) because she had been sleeping ok the first few nights in her room. Anyway in standard night, by the time I get up, soothe her back to sleep, go pee and then get myself back to sleep (which takes a while), I’m only getting 3 or 3.5 hours of sleep. This really helps explain the multiple hysterical breakdowns last week. Anyway, she has been in there because it WORKS.
And while we’re talking about what works, let me get to the point. I know people blog about this alllll the flipping time but I’m not going to zip my blabbity lip just because I’ve read it 713 times on some other “mom” blog.
RANT COMMENCE: I call myself an attached parent because I meet the definition of attached parenting (you know, according to API). Hmpf. Whatever THAT means. We EC. We do baby led weaning (solid introduction). We co-sleep. I nurse exclusively for an extended period and do child lean weaning. We won’t circumcise. We cloth diaper. I discipline gently. BLAHBLAHBLABBITYBLAH.
But goshdammit if ANY of that should define who I AM as a parent. Because how do I REALLY parent? I parent from my gut. I parent how I feel. I parent to cope. Sometimes I parent to SURVIVE. I don’t feel like I have to constantly talk about how I parent because I’ve been parenting for 17 years and I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt I
AM AWESOME constantly screw up. No. REALLY.
You know what the secret of being a good, dare I say it, GREAT, mother is? Oh. No, you say? Well let me TELL you. The secret of being a really kick ass amazing mom is knowing that YOU DON’T KNOW SHIT. I have four kids with a fifth on the way. I helped my stepfather raise my sister after my dingbat mother walked out on her. And what have I learned in 19 years? Well I’ve learned that just about the time you think you have it allllll figured out one of your kids will throw you a curveball and you’ll be like this… SHIT WHAT NOW?!?!
Your sweet little toddler who says please and thank you and shares her toys and never has a tantrum, will one day be 16 and she may very well tell you TO SHUT UP. No, really. It could happen. You may want to strangle her but you’ll recognize that being a teen is hard and you’ll take her phone and then you’ll make up. Likewise, your son who as a toddler threw a tantrum at the drop of a hat and made grocery shopping impossible and made you feel like you WANTED TO DIE? He may just very well kiss you square on the mouth right in front of his group of 13 year old hooligan friends and say, “Mom, I love you. You’re AWESOME.” It could happen. Really. It happened to me.
Believe it or not, mothering, the most basic and encompassing of all jobs EVER, has CHANGED a lot in the last 19 years. Not the act itself but ALL the stuff attached to it. And why? I’ll tell you why. Lots of reasons but mostly…THE INTERNET. When I had my first baby there were no “mom” blogs or forums or Facebook or *gasp* TWITTER. The only way you could possibly compare yourself to any other mom was to sit face to face with her. FACE. TO. FACE. And let me tell you, it is infinitely more difficult to feel like you’re doing a better job than someone else when you SEE the 2 hours of sleep bags under their eyes. When you know their husband is having an affair. When you know they have postpartum depression. When you know they can’t pay their bills. When you know thier son is smoking dope or their teenage daughter is pregnant. You could not feel like you were a better parent than them because the filter of the internet did not exist. And you wouldn’t say the things you can say on the internet if you had to look in their eyes when you said it.
I love all the new an awesome ways we can interact with our babies. I love baby led weaning and ec’ing and I loved babywearing and co-sleeping before they were really a “thing” but what I hate is that in SO many ways we are now made to feel guilty for doing or not doing or doing but not doing well enough all of these ‘things’. I MEAN REALLY? Shit.
Example: I EC. Well that is to say I EC by my own standards. We put Ella on the potty when she wakes (but not always) and if she needs to poop (most of the time). Otherwise she wears a (cloth, because I love the environment and I’m BETTER than all of you who don’t. Uh NOT.) DIAPER. I’d EC fulltime if I HAD time. But you know what I have 4 kids. I’m in my car two hours a day. Sometimes more. I’m at jazz festivals and football games and the store. Daily. Sometimes Ella just has to pee in her diaper. She just does. And she’s GOING TO BE FINE. The hardcore EC people would have you to think that I’m not doing well enough. Well they are welcome to come here, be 5 months pregnant, herd my chickens, feed my three dogs and two cats and fish, water the garden, do my laundry, mop my floors, help with homework and take care of my kids while I’m ALONE half the week because my husband works out of town. While they’re at it, they can rub my feet. Oh and kiss my snowy white backside.
I REFUSE to feel like I’m not doing enough. I am doing my BEST. The same thing goes for BLW. I don’t feed Ella purees but if I did, SO WHAT. She’s not going to be permanently damaged. I know this because I gave my first three kids homemade purees, with a SPOON, and they are FINE. And same goes with babywearing. I wore Ella constantly for 5 months. At five months of age she weighed more than 20 pounds. I STILL wore her because it was easier, even though it killed my back. Now I’m pregnant, she weighs 25 pounds. I have a HUGE belly. Am I going to drag her around the mall on my back just because I don’t want to look like I’m not an ATTACHED PARENT. OH.MY.GAWD. I have a STROLLER. And I USE IT.
I was talking with my friend Staci last week (and Staci has one 16 year old child, no babies anymore) and she made this astute observation. She said something like this (totally not quoting) … the thing I see the most with this whole AP attitude isn’t that more people necessarily DO those things for their kids but that there is the competition between moms *to* do those things. How right is that? What kills me is that someone OUTSIDE our community can so easily see what’s happening inside our community. As mothers we are doing the most difficult work, wouldn’t it make sense that we should be lifting each other up? And yet we belittle, berate, judge? Even in ‘friendly’ conversation there is the tone my kid is obviously better than yours or I am clearly better than you. It’s disguised sometimes as ‘information’ and ‘sharing’ but often it’s most blatantly just mean.
I worked in a busy hospital labor and delivery unit for several years. I left because ultimately policy conflicted too much with my personal beliefs (too much intervention, too little education) but while I was there I noticed one overwhelming thing. Motherhood is universal. Be she white, black, Asian; poor, rich, middle class; intelligent, functionally illiterate; educated in every aspect of birth, not even aware where the baby comes from; the feeling is the same. ALL mothers love their babies (Ok there are some exceptions to this rule but you get what I’m saying). The one universal thing is LOVE. And I believe that while some mothers don’t mother how I mother (and sometimes that hurts my heart) I believe that they are probably usually TRYING. Probably. Usually.
Can we just accept, even if may not be true, that most mothers (at least the ones in our social circles) are TRYING? That they are mostly doing their best?That they love their children and want a good life for them? That maybe their idea of what makes you a good mother isn’t the same as your idea? Can we then take that one step further and use this amazing thing social media to uplift and encourage, to hug and support, to be THERE without being judgmental? Can we accept that even if they don’t parent at all like we do or if they parent like we do but not the same WAY we do that it doesn’t mean their kids are ruined. It just means they are different.
Can we? Ok great.
Because one of the other things I’ve learned in 19 years? Competitive mothering doesn’t end up doing anything positive for the kids involved. Nope. All it does is divide us when we need desperately to be united. We need each other now more than ever because this mothering thing? It’s HARD dude. Hard.
Well it’s 7 am on Wednesday morning as I write this (though I’m sure I won’t get it published until after I get the kids to their respective institutes of learning). Don’t let the time fool you, I’ve been up since 5, but it wasn’t because of Ella. I’m ready to tell you last nights story but honestly I’m at least a little scared to say anything at this point.
I would have blogged at 5 am because I was UP after all but then the neighbors cat peed on our five foot wide Chillsac (don’t ask me why the neighbors cat is even IN our house because that is a long and annoying story). Matt was nice enough to take the time to remove the cover (because like I said FIVE FEET of foam and my flexibility is not what is was before I had a bowling ball under my shirt) so I could wash it before he left for the Bay, but alas, SURPRISE. When he opened it it seems the chillsac itself had become unzipped and the cover was filled with five million teeeeeny tiny foam pieces. Therefore the living room was filled with teeny tiny foam pieces and cat piss smelling teeny tiny foam pieces at that. So after vacuuming SIX times (that is six empties of the canister in the RAIN) and washing the piss cover and throwing the cat out into said rain and moving the monster rowing machine TWICE AND trying to keep Ella from eating a bucket of piss foam and listening to the screeching cat at the front door the WHOLE time, I’m NOW ready to tell you about last night.
Here’s how it went.
DAY THREE (Tuesday): Despite her very poor sleep the night before, Ella only took her two regular length naps yesterday. One at 8- 9:50. And one from 1:15-3. I was able to sleep about an hour and a half during the day as well which was welcome. Come last night she wasn’t really ACTING tired at 8 pm so Matt went ahead and read her 163 MORE books then I gave her a nice dose of ibuprofen plus chamomilia and teething tablets which also have chamomile in them (it’s ok you don’t need to tell me how I od’ed my baby on chamomile) and took her upstairs at 8:15. From nursing to dozing to patting to sleeping was EIGHT minutes. TOTAL. I came downstairs to snuggle and knit Ella’s new stripey soaker and chat on twitter while we watched an episode of Survivorman. At 9:22 she woke up crying and I was filled with dread. Turns out she was just sweaty. I uncovered her, patted her and BAM 2 minutes. Out. Cold. Around 10:15 we decided that we’d hit the sack so I could sleep in the event of another presumed all-nighter. We chatted for a while and giggled like we do. I was feeling pretty anxious about the possibility of being awake all night again. Finally a little after 11 we went to sleep. I woke up at 11:33. Ella was still asleep. At 12:02. Still asleep. 12:27. STILL ASLEEP. 1:09 STILLLLL ASLEEP. 1:27 STILLLLLLLLL ASLEEP. At this point I was getting pretty irritable with MYSELF. Here I had a great chance to be SOUNDLY sleeping and instead I was obsessing if she was breathing, if she was ok, when was she going to wake, if she was going to cry ALL NIGHT LONG, the fact the the poor people on that tiny island Tuvalu off of New Zealand don’t have fresh water at all this year, the new hole in the ozone over the NORTH pole and whether or not my car is going to get keyed because I have an OBAMA 2012 sticker on it. Finally at 1:58 she let out a cry. I popped up and went in. I gave her her water first without picking her up. She chugged that for about a minute then reached up to me to be picked up. I tried to lay her down to pat her but she’d have no part of any such business. So I scooped her up and sat in the rocker and nursed. I won’t lie. I was plotting my night of sitting up at that point. But she only nursed FOR ONE MINUTE. Then she was dozing. I laid her down half awake. Pat. Pat. OUT. It was 2:01 THREE MINUTES. I went back to bed. After obsessing some more about those poor people on Tuvalu I finally fell asleep. Only to awakened by her crying at 3:17. I got up and lumbered into her room and found her FAST ASLEEP on her back. WHAT THE HEL IS GOING ON HERE PEOPLE?!?!?! So I went BACK to bed and laid there. Listening to the rain. Listening to Matt breathe. Listening to the cats. Thinking about Tuvalu (those poor people on Tuvalu don’t even know I’m laying awake about their water situation so how helpful am I?). Wondering how many minutes I’d get before she’d cry again. Two? Ten? Thirty?
TWO HOURS AND FOURTY-FIVE MINUTES folks. She slept straight through until 5:55 when she woke for the day which was just perfectly FINE with me. So even though I had a horrid night of broken sleep and woke up at 5 to worry about Tuvalu again I STILL slept more than I have in a year or more. And I pretty much feel like I could conquer the universe right now. On like 5.5 hours of SUPER BROKEN SLEEP. If I got 7 hours I might ACTUALLY conquer the universe.
Ella is cheerful. Obviously rested. Playing wonderfully after eating a nice breakfast. And FINE. She hasn’t nursied this morning and I haven’t offered because I’ve been getting everyone ready for school and cleaning up teeny tiny piss foam. Overall I feel really sad that I lost my milk supply but I am able to see a silver lining here. I needed a kick to night wean her. I am pregnant and I haven’t slept more than 5 VERY broken hours in months. I’ve been exhausted and sick and sacrificing my own health because I didn’t want HER to suffer. If I hadn’t lost my milk when I did I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that we’d be co-sleeping and ALL NIGHT NURSING until the very end of pregnancy when I’d have to get her to to sleep so that I could before the new baby arrived. I know my milk will come back in four or five months and I hope that Ella will still want to nurse then. I’m trying not to fret that right now but it’s a constant in my mind. She is nursing less and less during the day because she’s walking and she’s BUSY and wants to read and play and have fun. She’s developing as she should. It breaks my heart to think of weaning her at this young age (she’d be the youngest of ANY of my babies to wean). I’m not religious but I AM spiritual and I do believe that things happen when they are meant to and for a reason. That seems hard to swallow when you think of all the AWFUL things that happen in the world but even in my own life the awful things have always led me to a place of greater understanding.
As is life. And this.
We interrupt this weeks regularly scheduled pregnancy update to bring you this fun story. A tale of exhaustion and woe. I share this with you to hopefully present an experience you can either relate to or at the very least give me sympathy for.
Thanks in advance.
We are in the beginning stages of the
nightmare process of nightweaning. Before I detail this awesome experience for you let me tell you WHY we are in said process…
Last week on Friday I went about my normal routine of putting Ella down for morning nap. Diaper. Nurse. Bed. Only this time she only nursed for about one minute. Hm. NOW, I’d been aware because of lack of gulpy noises and the constant drinking of water that my milk had at the very least reduced significantly. That day I decided to pump after laying her down to see just how much.
Five minutes of pumping and what was the result? FOUR. DROPS. Four. Well I sat there in my floor and had a real good cry. Then I went and talked to Matt and then to my twitter mom friends. Then I cried again. And laid on my bed and cried some more. I’m not going to try to delve into the emotions that surround this for me right now because I think it’s still a little too new for me to be objective (read: logical) but let me just say, this is devastating for ME. She seems fine. Of course she’s FINE. I am not fine. More on this another time.
Anyway it was at that point that I concluded that her very poor sleep habits at night (after the hand foot mouth fiasco) were probably due in large part to the fact that she’s looking repeatedly for milk that just isn’t there. Also though I plan to let her continue to comfort nurse until my milk returns (which should be sometime in trimester three) I would like to add, THIS DOES NOT FEEL GOOD. It’s in fact rather painful. I have no plans to stop because ultimately I feel really strongly about nursing Ella until she’s at least two but all night long is just too much right now. My average night of sleep look(ed) like this. Baby to bed around 8. Me to bed around 11. Baby up at 11:30. Nursed back to sleep. Baby back up at 2 or 3 and then tossing and turing and tossing until she wakes up for the day at 4:45-5. SO 3 solid hours of sleep for me plus another 2-2.5 of interrupted sleep. And by interrupted I mean kicked, bit, pinched. So yeah, not pleasant.
Anyway, that brings us to where we are now. We started the night weaning process on Sunday night. And here’s how it went.
Sunday: Kind of a mother effing nightmare.
Monday: I WANT TO CRAWL IN A HOLE AND DIE.
No seriously. The PLAN was to loosely follow Dr. Jay Gordon’s ‘plan’, which you can read about here. Our modifications would be these. For the first FIVE nights I would go in and comfort and nurse if she desired (DUH) but leave her in her room (five nights because of dad being gone and me being without backup). On Friday through Sunday or Monday dad would take over patting and rocking but no nursing. Then back to me while he’s gone and back to him when he gets home again. We would temporarily suspend co-sleeping until the process was complete because let’s face it, if she’s one foot from me all night she’s GOING to be looking for my boob.
SO this is how Sunday looked:
DAY ONE: Ella nursed to sleep with no real issue and was in bed by 8:15. She slept solidly until about 10:30 and then woke. I nursed her briefly and laid her back down. She slept FIFTEEN MINUTES. Repeat. She slept until 2. Then from 2-3:30 I was in her room EVERY. TEN MINUTES. Every time I went in I picked her up, nursed her til she dozed, then laid her back down. And then I sat on the chair and waited. Then I’d creep back to my bed where I would snuggle up next to my peacefully sleeping husband and then BAM. Crying. Again. Oh how I wish we had a spare bed. At 3:30 she finally went to sleep after water and diaper and me crying. Then at 4:15 after peeing twice and me crying some more I fell asleep. Then at 4:30 my 11 year old came creeping up the stairs after a nightmare. So I slept from 4:45 until 5:45. Don’t add up how much sleep I got. It was not enough.
I had HIGH hopes for night two. HIGH. First I decided that maybe the 2:-3:30 fiasco was because of teeth so I’d give her ibuprofen again at that time. Also it wasn’t THAT bad. She wasn’t screaming bloody murder or anything so I felt like we were moving in a good direction.
WRONG. SO SO VERY WRONG.
DAY TWO (Monday): I nursed her to sleep about 8. She was fussy off and on the breast so I ended up laying her down and patting her to sleep. YES PATTING. I was encouraged. I mean she went to sleep without a nipple in her mouth. It wasn’t AWESOME but she went to sleep. YAY. Then right on cue, when I was getting into my bed, she woke up. 10:40 ish I think. I went in and nursed her and that didn’t really seem to work so back to the patting. WOW. Two pats to sleep. This really IS going to be good.
So from that time until 2:45 I was in her room. I laid on the floor (this is not recommended). Sat in the chair. Patted. Rocked. Every time she fell asleep (for the first hour anyway) I’d tiptoe out and as soon as I’d put my butt on my bed. BAM. Awake. EVERY. Single. Time. So I mostly just sat there. I was absolutely puzzled. She had ibuprofen on board so not teeth probably. And she didn’t even really want to nurse so not that. I won’t lie. I was not doing so hot. Exhausted. Frustrated, Determined to let my husband sleep so that at least ONE of us could be refreshed. A couple of times she sat up SCREAMING. Like terror or pain. Frankly at 1 am running on my 3 hours of sleep from the day before I didn’t know what to think. Finally at 2:45 after trying to get comfortable on her floor (BAD IDEA) I took her into our room and told Matt I flat out couldn’t do it. Period. She only wanted to be near me so fine. She can be near me. I laid her on our sidecarred twin bed and patted her bottom. She sat up fussing a few times. And then nuzzled her head into my armpit. And I felt like SHIT. I mean all she wanted was to be BY me and here i’d been fighting her to sleep in her room alone for FOUR hours. Then she bolted up screaming again. And pooped. And just like that I knew that she had a belly ache. Finally at 3:10 she crashed. And there she slept until 5:45. When she pooped again. And then again at 6:10. At 6:20 and at 6:45. Hm. I think I know what was bothering her.
So today.. I’ve had (Yeah I’ll go ahead and add it up for you) TWO and a HALF hours of sleep. She didn’t do much better I don’t think. I am HOPING beyond all hope that tonight goes better. Frankly it can’t be worse than last night so that’s some kind of strange comfort. What last night did tell me was that she IS able to fall asleep without nursing and that patting her BACK to sleep works. So provided the planets align and she’s not teething or pooping or having a nightmare of some kind I suspect (read: PRAY TO THE TINY BABY JESUS) that we will be getting some sleep very soon.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s exciting update.
Until then. I sign off.
Warning: Ultra image-heavy post. I’m a real hoe for pictures today. My apologies.
Ella has a beautiful nursery. It’s just downright love-er-ly if I do say so myself. Though admittedly, it was decorated by me so… there’s that. We as a family painted it and put together the furniture as we prepared for Ella’s arrival. I felt like if the Big Kids helped in the planning and decorating more they’d love their sister that much more (read: not resent her for stealing all the attention.) It’s painted in the most cheerful shade of aqua blue with painstakingly shaped pink scallops along the ceiling. And her name, hung with ribbon.
She has a brand new beautiful white crib
and an armoire full of clothes.
Bonus photo: 28 weeks pregnant. Yes I was approximating elephant sized proportions. Thank you for noticing. Have I mentioned she weighed TEN AND A HALF POUNDS?
Back to business: There’s a sweet white wooden rocking chair that the Man bought me to celebrate the Mother’s Day that I still had belly full o’ Ella.
Also there are owls. Since the owl has long been my favorite bird.
And bluebirds. Bunches. Because they are cheerful (And NO ONE wants them in the living room. WHYYYYY?)
And there’s my collection of
tacky beautiful vintage handmade beaded baskets (I can’t figure out why no one wanted them in the family room. I don’t understand.). These are placed high but will soon present a serious choke hazard and have to be moved. Unfortunately. Perhaps I could mount them on the ceiling?
All adorning this lovely space.
And she’s never been in it.
Ok once. The Man laid her in her bed awake. She seemed to like it ok I guess. But I took her out. Because it felt weird to me.
See since Ella was born she had never been more than an arms length away from me for more than 15 minutes. Unless you count the one time I went to the store without her, that took an hour. But when I’m home she’s generally always in my line of sight. This isn’t how every mother parents. But it’s how I parent. And night is no exception.
The day Ella was born (at home in our kitchen) we finally fell into bed, all three of us, at about 10 pm and we slept there that night, and every night since, in the almost six months since she was born. When she was a couple of months old I started periodically putting her in her pack and play next to our bed to start out the night (and for the obvious *ahem* personal reasons) and she’d routinely wake to nurse at about 11:30-12 (or you know 9 or whenever) and then be next to me for the rest of the night. Now, let me pause to say, if you are going to flame me for co-sleeping, please take your comment elsewhere, I don’t really want to hear it. If you are a co-sleeper on the other hand, go ahead, shout out. Thank you. Moving on. Sooo anyway, that’s been the general routine. Start in the pack and play, move to the bed at first waking, stay in the bed (primarily attached to me at the boobie) until dawn when she pops her sweet little eyes open an promptly begins smacking me in the face.
I’m tired. Ye-awn.
Now anyone who knows me in real life will tell you I am not a woman who takes the easy route, frequently to my own detriment. I know this drives my husband absolutely mad but it is a fact. I will own it. Sometimes this character trait is helpful, say when you’re 8 and a half months pregnant and planning your wedding. But sometimes not so much. Say when you’re a mother of 4 and you have to get up by 6 am every day but you don’t go to bed until 11:30 or 12 and then you’re basically up every hour, if not every 15 minutes because there is a little creature next to you rooting around like a like newborn puppy. There is scarcely a thing I love more than my babies next to me but every woman has her limitations.
So last night, in an act of completely normal, and yet very unlike me, behavior, I put Ella in her crib. First I was sure to put things that smelled like me all over the crib. In the crib. Around the crib. On the crib. I drew the blinds. Let her fall asleep nursing… Then I laid her in. Her. Crib.
And I walked out of the room.
She woke up at 10:30. Just as, well you know, we were going to BED if you get my meaning.
And I went and got her.
And put her in our bed.
Babies are only babies for a short time mommas. I have a 15 year old daughter. See:
In six months she will be driving. A CAR.
I swear to god she was in my bed LAST WEEK. So today I’m not going to lose too much sleep over losing sleep. I’m still sane. So there’s that.
hug em ladies (and gents), it’s over quick,
I have a teenager. I actually almost have two teenagers. Hard to believe. And true.
When my oldest daughter was born 15 years ago I held her in my arms. The world was full of possibility for her and I knew the coming years would bring excitement and joy and some confusion. I had no frame of reference for age 15. But I do now.
My daughter reads my blog so before I go on I want to say this to her: Kelsey, you made me a mother. I dreamt and hoped for you and you came. A fulfillment of my hearts desire. I haven’t always made the best choices for you but I have always made the best choices I could at the time. As Maya Angelou says, when I knew better I did better. My heart aches with love for you. You are beautiful and smart. You are funny and kind. You are the best parts of me and your father. Also you’re a bit of a slob, but that’s ok, I love you just the same. Now please pick up your room.
Now, let me say this, having a teenager is not all that different from what I expected. My daughter has her fair share of drama and bad days. She gets frustrated with her hair and can’t decide what shoes to wear (even though often times they are my shoes). She wants to know what purse to carry, what belt to wear, what to do about boys. She’s still figuring it all out. When I get frustrated with her I try to remember that at her age I was a holy terror. I’m not making that up. Ask my mom. Moody. Dramatic. Emotionally labile. And I hated my mother (sorry mom). I’m pretty sure Kelsey loves me so I consider that a victory.
The one thing I knew I wanted for my daughter and I was that I wanted to be someone she could come to. Someone she could ask things of. Someone she could love that would love her without condition. I wanted her to always know that I was available for her, no matter the need. I didn’t want to try to be her friend like my mother did because I knew the resentment that created. I hope when she has the distance to look back at being a teen she can say I’ve done those things.
Anyway, love can build a bridge as they say but love doesn’t always get the clothes off the floor, even with all that love, teenagers still need boundaries and discipline.
How do you get a 15 year old to clean their room? Do the dishes? Help with the laundry?
I’m about to reveal something revolutionary.
A 15 year old is a lot like a baby.
Not in the drooling, breastfeeding, co-sleeping sense (though my 15 year old still hops in bed with me periodically, which I love) but more like this… when I smile at Ella, she smiles back. If I frown, she frowns. Cause and effect. Fifteen year olds are a lot like this. Happy and helpful makes happy and helpful. And this is where the Shamu discipline comes is (Shamu is a whale by the way, in case you live in a cave). Whale training is a lot like kid training. Read about whale training here. If you read that, they you’re prepared to answer this, how are kids like whales? Well, everyone likes a reward. Everyone. I don’t know one person that would say, “Oh you know what, I’d rather you didn’t praise me for my good behavior. In fact, just ignore my good behavior and while you’re at it why don’t you yell at me when I get a C in geometry.” No one doesn’t like a pat on the back. The best thing about a good pat on the back? You want to get another pat on the back. It’s very simple. And very effective.
Practical example anyone? Kelsey wanted to give the baby a bath. She didn’t know how so I told her and showed her and helped her learn and then I gave her the reigns and of course she didn’t do it perfect. She made some mistakes. Nothing dangerous or detrimental, but not perfect. I ignored them and said, “Wow, thanks a lot for giving the baby a bath Kelsey. I really appreciated getting the dishes done without wearing the baby (I do it but it gets messy).”
Guess what? The next night she wanted to bathe the baby again. And I got to do dishes again (maybe some day I’ll use that time for something like a quick jog). I haven’t perfected this art because sometimes I get frustrated and “GIVE ME YOUR CELL PHONE RIGHT NOW” is effective too. But I’m a work in progress. I’m working on making sure my kids have positive praise for the good things they do and hopefully nothing at all for the bad things (unless someone if getting hit by someone else, that I can’t ignore).
I think you get what I’m saying here. Shamu likes fishy treats. Kids like praise. Done.