My first degree in child rearing

Come this June 30, I will  have completed 4 years of child rearing. Not sure what kind of degree it means I have, but I am sure it is a culmination of a BS, BA and BM degree.

I look back and am grateful that the University of God accepted my application and allowed me to partake in the studies of child rearing. Even though at times I felt like quitting, little things like a hug, kiss and a sweet smile always pushed me back on track.

And after I got through with the sleepless nights, and had to deal with weaning of many kinds, seeing my child become independent made it easier to keep chugging.

Although this degree does not make me an expert, I have some pride in my experience – FZ and Mayyo. They are thriving, smart and happy girls. And I am blessed that I have a had a great support system helping me make sure I raise my girls in the best way possible.

Thanks to all the books and articles I have read, I am well versed in the subjects of pregnancy and labor/delivery, c-sections, VBACs, breastfeeding, sleep training and potty training.

That said, I am ready for the next degree, no matter how long it takes. You know as they say, a parent never stops learning.


Parenting means sometimes staying out of the way

I was a “don’t do this, don’t do that” kind of parent when I had FZ.

You know the type – always apologizing, always moving the kid out of the way, always meddling.

Then one day while at FZ’s class at Gymboree I got some advice from a fellow parent. Our kids were playing tug-of-war with the same toy and I was telling FZ to share, be nice, etc. etc.

The girl’s father tells me, “You know what, it’s OK. Don’t worry about it. Let them work it out on their own.”

So I did. I stepped back. And sure enough the girls moved on.

As parents, and especially first-time parents, we always sweat the small stuff. What we don’t tend to realize is that our kids feed on our frustration and become agitated or uptight. Kids of relaxed parents are more well-behaved and easygoing.

Now with Mayyo I only step in if she is about to eat something bad, hurt someone, or get in a dangerous situation.

Letting go allows our kids to have more confidence. They learn to deal with the world; they learn to fail and succeed. It’s not easy, but by standing close we let them know we are watching, while you take the first steps on your own.

By standing over them all we tell our kids is just watch while we do it for you. And I don’t know about you, but I would rather have a thriving, independent child than a clinger.

Kids don’t have to know about these secret ingredients

If you have children, then you probably know all about picky eating and how hard it can be to get kids to eat healthy.

Of course in an ideal world, we as parents would be eating healthy and our kids would follow suit. But we are not in an ideal world.

You might hear of the parents who only eat organic, and their super kids who chow down edamame with a smile.

But until you reach that point here are a few tips I have learned over the years on getting my kids to eat healthy.

First things first, everything in moderation. If you believe this for yourself, then you should want this for your kids. I think even kids should have a bit of sugar every now and then. But only in moderation.

Secret ingredients 

Flaxseed – provides omega-3 oils, and has no added taste so you can add it in pretty much anything. My friend  Carissa adds a spoon to her kids’ smoothies, and I add some to pancake mix. Your kids will never notice.

Cauliflower – puree it and add some in a homemade dish of macaroni and cheese. Cook the cauliflower with cheese before adding it to the pasta. The cheese hides the flavor of the cauliflower. FZ gobbled this up.

Nuts – I know some kids are anti-nuts, but they are really good for your health. FZ still does not like nuts so I grind them to a powder (almonds, walnuts, etc.) and add it to desserts or even a glass of milk.

Raw veggies – I find it hard to get FZ to eat some vegetables if they aren’t cooked. So I have even let her eat frozen peas and carrots. Or I have steamed them and given to her with some ranch dressing on the side.

Kids will be kids

The main thing to remember is you cannot force your kids to eat. Anything. It just won’t ever work. I remember trying with FZ and I ended up screaming because there was more food on the floor than in her mouth. Lose-lose situation.

But kids do love variety and something different and fun. Show your kids how fun it is to dip cucumbers in ranch dressing and feel the crunch. Although I am not a big fan of hiding ingredients, I think sometimes you have to pick your battles and just get the job done. FZ had a phase where she didn’t want any meat at all. I ended up slightly pureeing ground beef and adding it to spaghetti sauce.

Also, never give up. If your kid dislikes a certain food, always keep offering the food to your child. Who knows? They might just be going through a phase. Now FZ eats meat fine, and I don’t have to puree anything.

Now if I could only find the secret ingredient on getting them to nap…


When playing nice seems impossible

So now that Mayyo is walking, she finds it much easier to toddle over to FZ and grab whatever she wants. I mostly watch from the sidelines and only get involved when there is shrieking – which there usually is.

Does this look familiar? Welcome to my life.

Although I have to stifle a smile when I see Mayyo’s poker face after she messes with FZ. She really looks like she has no idea what she is doing.

Here’s how it usually goes:

FZ has a doll.

Mayyo wants that exact doll.

Mayyo grabs it from FZ.

FZ grabs it back.

Mayyo shrieks.

Mama saves the day.

I find myself saying “FZ share,” like 2 million times a day. And sometimes I feel bad because why should FZ be the one giving up everything? Mayyo has toys of her own. But she always wants the exact same one her sister has.

So a good friend Anngela gave me a great tip – start marking Mayyo’s toys, so once the girls are fighting over something, the mark will serve as the mediator.

I totally underestimated the sibling squabbles that would ensue once I had 2 kids. Heck, I just wanted FZ to play with someone other than me.