How to Prepare Your First Born for a New Baby

Let me start by saying that there is no “perfect” way of preparing your first born for a new baby. A new baby who will steal away mommy & daddy’s attention. A new baby who will get all of these new clothes, furniture & toys. A new baby who will mostly cry & sleep, but not play with them. It can be a really rough transition not only for the parents, but your little one as well.

It all depends on age! For us, our daughter was just barely 1 year old when we found out we were pregnant with our second. Besides the fact that it was a total & complete shock to us, we had no idea how to prepare her for the changes to come. She was our baby. Our first baby. Our baby who was literally still a baby. She’s not going to understand when we say, “You’re going to have a baby brother or sister!” Although we did tell her this, we are almost 100% positive she most definitely did not understand that. But once my belly started getting bigger, we would point and say, “Mommy has a baby in her belly!” Then she would point to my belly & say, “Baby!”

In our case it was hard to find ways to prepare her for this big change. Little did we know, Noah would be born 3 months early and would make that transition a little more difficult for us. Most people don’t know that if your preemie is born at a certain time of the year, there are very strict rules on who can come into the unit. During “RSV” season (which is when Noah was born) only parents & grandparents were allowed in the unit. So Paislee was only allowed to see her brother two or three times before that rule came into play. And he was in the NICU for 3 months. It was really hard to balance all of our time between the two babies with them not being together. The times she did get to meet and see him, she was so so sweet.

 

The first time Paislee met Noah ♥

Related: The Littlest Warrior: An Inspiring NICU Story

 

I also have to show you this video because it’s just too darn cute. This was when Noah was still in the NICU & Paislee loved to talk to him. She was so sweet & careful around him. She would sometimes touch his head and was so gentle. My heart, y’all.

Given that our case was a bit different, I have collaborated and spoken with a fellow blogger of mine! Krystal Klassen with the Quarter Mile Lane blog has been so gracious to be a guest here on Dogtags, Dolls & Dinosaurs today! Krystal and her four sisters have an amazing blog that they work on together! They have everything from homemaking tips, gardening, recipes, & awesome parenting advice. I am a devoted reader & love their content. They also post some fun & engaging statuses on their facebook page. They are super funny & relatable for all parents!

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Krystal (far right) & her beautiful sisters!

After speaking with Krystal a bit, I asked her some questions about her experience when her & her husband found out about their second baby. Our experiences are different in so many ways, & similar too! So happy to introduce her to everyone & share with all of you!

1. What was your first thought when you found out you were having a second baby?

Our second was planned, so we were so excited to be welcoming another little one to our family. After the excitement of finding out we were pregnant, my thoughts immediately turned to worry of how our firstborn would react to a new baby.

Not only was she our first child but she had spent the first 3 years of her life as the only grandchild on my husband’s side. She was also the only great grandchild during that time. With a lot of nearby family, she was the center of attention at every family event. I was really nervous that becoming a big sister was going to absolutely turn her world upside down!

2. How did you break the news to your first child?

We waited quite a while to tell anyone, including our firstborn. Luckily, I didn’t show very quickly so it was pretty easy to keep it a secret for a few months. Once we found out we were having a boy, we told our firstborn that she was going to be a big sister.  It took a couple weeks for it to really click that there was a baby in mom’s tummy. During that time we kept reminding her how much fun it was going to be to have a brother to play with and what a great helper she would be.

3. Do you have any special advice or tips to help prepare first borns for a new baby?

My biggest advice would be to stay positive (as much as possible during pregnancy). Kids pick up on negative ideas and conversations really easily. The last thing you want is for your firstborn to have negative ideas about the baby before he/she even arrives! Help your firstborn realize all of the things that they will be big enough to help with when they are a big sister or big brother. We got this book called I’m a Big Sister by Joanna Cole and read it frequently. It was so helpful in reminding our daughter how fun it was going to be to be a big sister. I would absolutely recommend this to anyone welcoming a second child. There is also a big brother version.

We also did some fun activities with our daughter during the last few months of my pregnancy. We took a little weekend getaway and did things that she was interested in like going to the zoo. We also took her to a movie with just mom and dad. I think these opportunities for one on one time helped her feel like she was important even with a little brother coming soon.

4. Is there anything you didn’t do that you wish you had?

I wish I would have gotten the nursery put together sooner. Honestly, the nursery never happened! Our son was born 5 weeks early, so there just wasn’t time. I think this would have helped my firstborn realize sooner that there was really a baby coming. I think it would have helped if she was more familiar with these new surroundings sooner and better understand what the different baby items are for. This would have been another way to prepare her to be a “big helper”!

5. Once the baby arrived how did your first adjust? How are they now?

Oh goodness! I can’t say enough how all of my expectations were exceeded when our baby was born! When our son was born early and spent two weeks in the NICU, my concern of how she would react to a new baby escalated. She was shuffled between family and friends while mom and dad were trying to get baby brother out of the NICU. It was a crazy 2 weeks, but the whole time she was so excited to finally meet her baby brother! When we finally brought baby brother home, she was so happy to meet him and didn’t want to leave his side. I gave her plenty of opportunities to help with baby brother by getting diapers, giving him a pacifier, singing him songs, etc.

Fast forward 4 years, and they still get along as well as any 4 and 7 year old would. My firstborn really likes to play mom and tell her brother what to do, which he doesn’t always appreciate. Often, I have to remind her that she isn’t the mom and that mom can take care of the discipline. She loves to protect him and is quick to help him if he is hurt or sad.

Krystal shares some great tips in there, right? We too read a book to our daughter that explained what the role of a big sister was & Paislee loved to read it almost every night! Now when she reads it, she calls the baby “Bubba” (what we call Noah). It’s so cute. Krystal also brought up a good point with putting the baby’s room together beforehand. With a preemie baby, that can be really hard because you don’t know that your little one is coming so early, so I can definitely relate with her there! But that can be a really great way to help your first born transition into sibling-hood.

Some other transitional ideas to get your first born ready for a new baby:

  • Practicing with a baby doll- show them how to help change diapers, go on walks, feed them, give them a bath, etc.
  • Showing them your sonograms & general pictures of babies
  • Taking them to appointments with you when possible (I remember doing this with my mom before she had my sisters & it made me feel very included and important)
  • Watching a tv show or movies that involve a new baby coming into the family (wouldn’t recommend Boss Baby lol- not very realistic)
  • Having a “baby countdown”
  • Putting the new carseat in the car before the baby arrives

If y’all have anymore ideas, I would love to hear them in the comments!

Also, if there’s one piece of advice I can bestow upon you, it’s this- always make time for EACH/ALL of your children. I understand this is sometimes easier said than done, but it is so important for your children to feel individually loved, appreciated & seen. After you’re all settled in, pump some milk or get the formula stocked up, and go out with your first born. Being the first born, I know first hand how much I loved hanging out with either my parents without my little sisters around. DONT’ GET ME WRONG, I love my sisters so, so much. But it’s nice to have all of the attention. Children need it. Babies tend to get most of it, especially when they are brand new. Because they require so much TLC.

Trust me, making time for all of your babies & taking the time to transition them in a healthy way will set everyone up for success in the long run. If you are preparing for this transition, I wish you the best of luck!

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Happy Hunger Games!…haha jk

As always, God bless †

Brittany

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Dogtags, Dolls & Dinosaurs is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

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Why Change is GOOD for the Faint of Heart

As some of you may have seen on social media, about a couple of weeks ago we received some very exciting news! We are moving back to Texas! Killeen, TX to be exact. A good ole country town with HEBs & Whataburgers as far as the eye can see. We couldn’t be happier!

When you have a spouse in the military, it can be so hard. New places every few years, new people, the long hours your spouse works. Not to mention those week to month long field ops and deployments. We have been so blessed in that we haven’t experienced a deployment in the almost 5 years my husband has been a Marine. For him, it’s a bittersweet thing. That’s why they join, right? Of course, he never wants to be away from me and the kids. But we have gone through lots of times where we couldn’t see or talk to each other. We’ve been through it all together. From poolee functions, boot camp, weeks of field ops, Sergeant’s course & now Recruiter’s school.

Related: Three Things I’ve Learned as a Marine Corps Wife

There are about to be a lot of changes happening with our little family. My husband is currently in school and will soon have a new job in the Marine Corps. Recruiter. So if you live in the Killeen or any of the surrounding areas, he’s about to get to know y’all & your kiddos REAL well. He will be changing lives [as corny as that sounds] 7 spreading the good word of the Marine Corps. We are all so proud of him. With that comes a lot of change as well. The only thing I’ve heard about being a recruiter’s wife is, “Be ready for the long hours.” Encouraging right? Eh. It’s okay. It’s like when you find out your pregnant and literally everyone who has had a baby has to share their wisdom with you. Like, “The first trimester sucks” , & “Just wait until the last 2 months. You’ll never stop peeing.” Oh, but my personal favorite, “You think you’re not getting any sleep now? Just wait til that baby comes.”

I GET IT! Ya know what I mean?

Anyways, although the long hours won’t be the highlight of this job, I know Tommy will get so much experience and pride from it. He has been studying and working so hard throughout his entire school, even practicing & using me as recruiting bait. Needless to say, I think we are all excited for this change! I haven’t seen him this exciting about the Marine Corps since he joined.

We lived in a few houses on base, but this one was special. The best neighbors & memories we will never forget!

I too will be getting a new job. I still plan to work in the same field as an ABA therapist, but with a different company that will allow me to be home on the weekends when my hubby won’t be. Or will be, since that’s the only time we will probably see each other. The life. I have an interview set up already & I am very excited for this transition. The company I have been with for the past year & a half has been so wonderful. I have learned so much working here. Working with children on the spectrum or that have any kind of special needs is truly my passion & they helped me to discover that!

Then there’s the whole thing about moving with two toddlers & two dogs. It’s gonna be an adventure y’all! The greatest thing about the move is that the Marine Corps is moving everything for us & packing it all. Such a huge stress taken off of our shoulders. Because looking for a house in a town you don’t & have never lived in is super stressful. Also looking for child care is tricky. But we are making the best of it. Our families have been so awesome & have offered to look at homes for us since they only live a couple of hours away. I just couldn’t feel more blessed y’all!

So this all sounds great, right? But WHY is it great? Especially for me. Someone who is so faint hearted. I like staying in my comfort zone when it comes to pretty much anything. I’m not the “adventurer” type. I don’t do dangerous things or take risks & chances. This man right here has helped me come out of my shell in so many ways.

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He adapts so well to new situations. He is my calm before & after the storm. Most times, he even helps me to avoid the storm altogether. Waiting to find out where we were going to be stationed next was one of the most stressful situations we have gone through. I cried so many tears of joy when Tommy called me to tell me the news. It is a moment I will never forget.

Related: 8 Ways I Show My Husband I Love Him

Being in California for the past four and a half years has been a big step out of my comfort zone. I was born and raised in Texas. I never imagined myself leaving it. But I would follow my husband anywhere. Living in this foreign [to me] state & meeting so many new people has helped me grow. It has made me so much stronger. I’m such a family girl & being away from my family was hard. So hard I can’t even explain. But the positive side of it is that it has really helped me to be more independent. I’ve had to do and learn a lot of things on my own when it comes to being a working mother & wife. And my introverted self managed to make some beautiful friends that might as well be family.

Change is scary. Change is hard. But is is good. It is healthy. And it’s so EXCITING sometimes! We are so looking forward to this new chapter in our lives. We can’t wait to go back to our home state. Only a couple of hours away from family & friends. And don’t worry, the entire road trip will be documented & there will be an entire post [or two] dedicated to it! So blessed to have y’all on this journey with us!

Have any of you gone through some changes lately? Or have some coming up soon? Share them in the comments, I would love to hear about them & how you coped 🙂

Bluebonnets here we come!

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As always, God bless †

Brittany

Dogtags, Dolls & Dinosaurs is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

Why We Decided to Stop Having Kids at 25

Kids.

It’s what we all think about when picturing our life and how it pans out, right? Whether we want them or not. How many of them we want. What gender we want. If we want to have twins, adopt, or maybe foster. At some point or another, it crosses your mind. Some [like me] dream about becoming a mom. It’s what I’ve always wanted to be. God listened and answered my prayers. Although the road was a little bumpy at times, I got my babies & I couldn’t be happier.

But why stop?

My husband and I always wanted to have two babies. A boy & a girl. We actually wanted our boy first, but they got flip-flopped. And that’s okay! But there’s always that thought in the back of your mind- “What if we had one more?” Believe me, I thought about it. Hard. Our babies were born so close together, both such a blessing but so unexpected. Not at all how we had “planned”. The newborn phases came and went. Never again will we get to experience that. I had a hard time with that part. That “new mom” feeling won’t ever be felt again. But I’m okay with that. And here’s why…

Pregnancy was NOT my friend

Both of my pregnancies came with complications. The second more than the first. You can read more about that here. I feel like my doctor’s always had something that wasn’t going “right” every time I went to an appointment. I wasn’t gaining enough weight, my fluid was low, the baby was measuring small. And then with Noah I had some more extreme complications like premature rupture of membranes [water broke early], decreased fetal movement, and infection. It was just a lot & really rough on my body. I also had an annoying, constant morning sickness. Especially the first time around. Round ligament pain. Acne. Dry skin. Just the works, y’all. Don’t get me wrong, it was all SO worth it. Some women love being pregnant. Me, not so much. I feel bad saying that out loud sometimes, but it was just a little miserable for me. A miserable blessing.

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Checking my fluid…I had to go in 2-3 times a week to make sure my levels weren’t too low

We can focus on the children we have

This is not to say that we didn’t focus on our kiddos before we made this decision. But like I said before, you always wonder “what if?” Now that we’ve made this decision for our family, we know that these babies we have are it for us. They are the one and only’s. I cherish every single second with them. Every single chaotic & playful second. It makes you appreciate the time you have with them because you KNOW it won’t happen again. We won’t experience these toddler years again with another child, so we soak it all up every chance we get.

This was the day we brought Noah home from the hospital after 3 months in the NICU

Fear

I know people say that you shouldn’t let fear hold you back from doing anything. But in our case, I think it’s a legitimate reason. Our experience with Noah was the scariest thing I have ever gone through. I know our family went through it for a reason & it truly made me a stronger person and momma, but I don’t want to go through that again. Who knows, circumstances may be different if I were to get pregnant again. I just don’t want to chance it. The thing is, I know families who have gone through something similar to us, even something harder, & they have had more children that are completely healthy. But the thing with me is that I’m such a “worry wart” as my husband so graciously puts it. I stress when I know I shouldn’t. For the healthy of myself, my family, & that beautiful hypothetical baby- it’s the right decision for us. 

Related: The Truth Behind the Scar: A Story of Two C-Sections

God

The biggest reason. God has blessed us with what we’ve always wanted and dreamed of. Our boy & our girl. How could you ask for more? He is always looking out for us. I’ll tell you the moment I knew I was done having kids. It was just a simple moment that happens everyday. It was the weekend. My husband was home. We had just cleaned up after eating breakfast and were just sitting watching some Sunday morning cartoons. I was on the love seat & I look over to see the kids cuddling with their daddy. Just the three of them. No idea they were creating a moment I will never forget. I knew in that moment God was telling me that this was enough for me. These three humans are my world. My heart will always hold that moment dear.

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This wasn’t the exact moment, but captures it all nonetheless 🙂

We made this decision at 25 years old & it was a big one to make. At times we weren’t sure & we talked a lot about it. But after I had that little moment with God & thinking about all of these things, I am peace with the decision we made. We may seem young to a lot, but we have been through so much with our two little ones. Isn’t it funny how you focus on raising your children and watching them grow, all the while they are doing the same to with without either of you ever really knowing it? Life is beautiful!

As always, God bless †

Brittany

8 Engaging Ways to Teach Your Child the Alphabet

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Ever get tired of singing the ABC’s over & over again? Do you feel like your kiddo is just singing along with the “words” or do they actually know what each letter is and looks like? I started thinking about this last week. Our daughter has really gotten into nursery rhymes & we love to listen to her sing her ABC’s. She is to the point now where she says every letter! But if I were to ask her, “Where is the letter A?” She would most likely hand me a different letter. She can sing it perfectly, but identifying letters is still a learning process for her.

This lead me to think of some fun ways I could incorporate learning letters into our everyday life with items or toys we may already have in our home. In honor of teacher appreciation week, I am here to tell y’all that learning letters can be so much fun! Learning is not always associated with worksheets! Back when I was a preschool teacher, I remember having to come up with so many different ways to teach the alphabet [and really anything in general]. You have to be creative! You can incorporate modern day ideas & learning techniques to teach your kiddos just about anything. And your kiddo will feel so rewarded after completing each of these fun activities. Which is the whole purpose right?! Enabling that independence that I touched on last week is key!

Learn more aboutHow to Encourage & Promote Independence in Your Child

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No. 1 : Letterboard

I see these things all over the place! Like my kitchen for instance ;). But they aren’t just for cute & witty quotes or sweet bible verses you want to read every day. They can also be a wonderful way to teach you child the alphabet! It’s a great visual tool. Your child can be hands on with it, but the letters can be pretty small, so make sure you monitor them during this activity.

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If your child[ren] are starting to learn the letters, up the challenge level a bit! Put the entire alphabet on the board, but leave out 3-5 letters. Have them put in the missing letters in the correct places. This can also be a great way for them to learn how to spell their names, & [you all know how much I advocate for this] helps them to work on those fine motor skills. I guess it’s the child development student in me, but that’s always an added bonus that makes me happy 🙂

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I got mine on Amazon. You can get it at the link here!

No. 2: Chalk

So simple right!? I did this SO much with my littler clients doing ABA therapy. Mixing the fresh air and kids’ love of the outdoors with learning. My kids love to play with chalk & they can start practicing writing out their letters in a fun way! No boring pencil & paper!

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This is the chalk we use & it lasts us forever!

No. 3: Bath Crayons

Bath time is everyone’s favorite time of the day in this house. Our daughter is always singing her nursery rhymes in the tub. When she starts singing her ABC’s, I like to get out the bath crayons or markers & write out some letters on the side of the bathtub. She loves to guess the letters I’m writing. We are starting to introduce the letters to our son too. He’s still pretty little, though. The night I took these pics, I was having her trace the letters I had drawn. She did pretty good! I love watching her try new things & absorb every ounce of knowledge I try to pass onto her! They really are little sponges.

We have always used the Crayola bath markers & crayons. They comes off easy, are non-toxic & are the perfect size for their little hands!

No. 4: Apps

My children are allowed 30 minutes a day on the iPad. I feel strongly about limiting their screen time, but I am totally not opposed to it. I do believe there are some educational apps out there that can help our children learn. This is one of them!

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ABC Genius is an awesome app to help children learn the alphabet. They have different kinds of activities you can do as well. They have a simple game that tells you to, “Touch the A”, and gives you a little check mark and tells you, “Great job!” when you get it right. They can practice tracing, matching, differentiating between uppercase and lowercase, and tons of other stuff. The game is free, but you can pay a little to unlock a lot more games for your kiddos. Its very engaging and interactive!

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No. 5: Letter scavenger hunt

You can turn a lesson for letter recognition into something super fun for your kiddos with this interactive game! You’ll need a sheet of paper, or whatever you have around the house to write on, for every letter. Then you post the letters in random spots around your house. Or you can make it a fun water play game as well. Get some water guns & whoever finds the letter first gets to shoot it!

This would be a really fun game for those older kids. You can make the hiding spots a little more tricky for them too!

Here are some other fun activities & props you can use!

No. 6: Matching & board games

There are so many types of educational games out there to help your child practice recognizing letters & eventually learning to spell words. There’s matching games, card games, board games, you name it. These can also help with differentiating between upper and lower case letters. They also have games that help you identify letters & match them up with the picture that starts with that letter. All so wonderful in teaching your kiddos the alphabet!

Here are my top choices for y’all!

 

No. 7: Food

Food is a fun & very reinforcing tool to use when teaching children any type of skill. I recently found some fun foods that come in ABC shapes! My daughter LOVES them. Sometimes I even make a mixture of regular macaroni and cheese and ABC mac n cheese, mix the noodles, & have her find the letters. When she finds them, she gets to eat them! Perfect reinforcement & it won’t feel like the kiddos are doing work, because it’s fun! I’ve also just gotten into this thing where I like to find fun cookie cutter shapes & cut their sandwiches into that shape! You can buy ABC cookie cutters & do the same! Or you can actually make ABC cookies! How fun!

My favs!

No. 8: Foam letters & magnets

My last little items on the list here are so popular! I’m pretty sure if you have a friend with kids they have a fridge covered in those plastic or wooden alphabet letters. I sure do. You might also walk into their bathroom & see the foam bath letter scattered all over the tub! Again…guilty. These two items are perfect for little guys. Especially the foam letters. I really like these when first introducing letters. They can put them in their mouth & can be perfect little teethers. I like to try and spell things out for Paislee & then have her tell me what the letters are. Same with the fridge magnets. I’m in the kitchen for probably a quarter of the day [at least] and the kids are always following me in there. While I’m doing the dishes or cooking dinner I can ask Paislee, “Hey, can you find the P?” You keep them busy [which is always a plus] & they are practicing that recognition!

Here’s what we use!

 

Honestly, I think I’m going to start setting aside time every day to work on these skills with my kiddos! Working things like this into your daily routines is so important & can really set your child up for success when they enter preschool. When I taught preschool we would spend a week, sometimes two, on each letter. This will really help your child to learn and absorb all the info you teach them. Repetition is key!

Like I always say, I’m no expert, but I pray y’all have so much fun teaching and guiding your kiddos! That’s one of the many blessings of being a stay at home momma. You get to be apart of all the learning that takes place! It’s such a rewarding and warm feeling when you see them “get it” for the first time. Enjoy, & happy learning! 🙂

As always, God bless †

Brittany

Dogtags, Dolls & Dinosaurs is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

How to Encourage & Promote Independence in Your Child

Does anybody else have an extremely stubborn & headstrong toddler?! This pretty much is the definition of our little girl. Our sassy little wild-child.

I guess my husband and I can take partial blame for that. Seriously. I have never known anyone as independent as she is. But let me let you in on a little secret….THAT’S OKAY! It is so important to allow your children to “fend for themselves”, if you will. It is okay for your children not to need you every second of every day.

One of the HUGE issues with younger generations nowadays is helicopter parenting. This is basically parents who are constantly hovering over their children to help them complete, or totally complete, a task-…like a helicopter. Some parents won’t even let their kiddos talk for themselves. I’m sorry, but if there is one thing I advocate for the most as a parent, it’s to let your kiddos practice independence. One day, they are going to grow up and be on their own. Let’s prepare them now so they can be successful later!

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I have learned so much having such an independent girl. My experience working with children with autism has really helped me too! Independence is one of the most important lessons incorporated into all of my therapy sessions. Children need to feel like they can do things on their own so they can feel confident in their own skin.

Let them try new things

Always present opportunities for them to try new things. In my line of work, I have to contrive numerous types of situations and opportunities for children to simply ask for things or complete a certain task. the types of situations depend on their age of course, but you can do it with literally anything.

For example, my daughter is obsessed with taking her dolls clothes off and then subsequently putting them back on. It’s pretty much a constant thing we do all day. When I see her struggling with putting her dolls clothes back on I don’t run over and do it for her. I usually just sit there and watch her. If I see her really starting to get frustrated, I remind her that I’m here if she needs help. Of course, she’s so stubborn & always answers with, “I wanna do it.” Always redirecting that frustrated behavior can save you tons of tantrums. It’s also a good reminder for them that they are completely capable of doing it themselves, but you are always there if they need you.

Dressing themselves

This is such a huge one, especially for toddlers. My daughter is always wanting to dress herself, usually in princess dresses.

Other times, she can really pick out a quirky outfit.

I mean, that lipstick right?

And you know what…we let her. So what if your kiddo is wearing a dress-up princess gown to the grocery store [literally did this the other day]? Or clothes that don’t match whatsoever. Who cares? They’re happy. You know why? Because they feel pride. They may not know what pride is, but you can just see it on their innocent little faces.

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And just the basic task of putting their clothes on is such a big accomplishment for them. This is another one of those contrived opportunities you can create. Maybe they put on their socks & shoes, and you help tie them. Or just let them try and figure it out on their own. Trust me, it won’t hurt them one bit. Never forget to always be there for support if they ask for it, but let them at least try. It’s so worth it when you hear them shout, “I did it!” True pride.

Let them explore

When you take them to the park, the beach, or even in your backyard, let them explore it. Let them dig their fingers into the sand. It may even end up in their mouth. That won’t hurt them either. Nine times out of ten they just learn to never do that again!

It’s important to let them “fail” in a sense. By letting them be independent, they will learn how to do things & how NOT to do things. Both are helpful in the upbringing of life.

Let them touch everything [that sounds a little weird, but you know what I mean]. Give them that sensory input. Let them test out the slide on their own if they are coordinated enough for it, and it’s completely safe of course. Instead of just putting them at the top of the stairs on the playground, let them climb. Be there for support, but give them a chance. They may just surprise you.

Don’t overload them with questions

When your child is trying something new, try not to ask them a bunch of questions about it. This is really important if you have an older child. Completing a new & novel task can be stressful enough without you asking them a ton of questions. Simple encouragement would suffice, if needed.

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Just like with my daughter trying to put her doll’s clothes on. I tell her, “Try not to get frustrated baby, you’re doing a great job. If you need help, I will always be here to help you.” That reassurance is comforting to them. I’m sure you can relate to that in some way, too. If you’re working on a math problem & someone is breathing down your neck asking, “Why did you do that?” “Are you sure that’s right?” “How did you get that answer?”

Asking questions can give off the vibe that you don’t have faith in them. If you want to ask them something, try to rephrase it into something that sounds more encouraging. Instead of asking, “Are you sure that’s right?” You could say, “Oh nice you completed the problem! Let’s check it!” Adding in some enthusiasm & praise [which we will get to in a moment] will really lift their spirits more than questioning them and making them doubt themselves.

Always provide choices

There is ALWAYS an opportunity to provide a choice. Even if there is a specific thing you are wanting your child to do. When you provide choices, you’re allowing your child to feel like they have some control over what is about to happen. Starting this while they are young is a great way to prepare them for making more complex choices when they are older.

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If you are wanting…no, needing your child to put their shoes on so you can go to the grocery store, but you are having so much trouble getting them to comply with you- give them a FUN choice. “Do you want to put your shoes on while we sing the ABCs or Itsy Bitsy Spider?” It’s simple, gives them a choice, some independence, & completes the task you need done. EVERYBODY WINS.

Praise

Big one here. The biggest, as you can tell from my larger font size and positioning :). You can let children be independent all day long, but unless you affirm it, their self-confidence will not increase. Some kiddos are independent because they have to be. Because their parents do not pay attention to them or encourage them. But what you can do is contrive opportunities or take advantage of naturally occurring situations where your child shows their independence and praise them for it! Even if it sounds silly to you, it probably means the world to them. I am constantly working on this as a momma. My daily goal is to make sure my kiddos feel heard by me. Appreciated by me. And loved by me.

The little victories are the sweetest! I know this post is pretty much all about our daughter, because she is the independent one. But, the other day our son pointed to something for the first time. He’s was a preemie & has been consistently behind developmentally on a few things. He’s about 19 months old now & just started pointing to things he wants. May sound little to some, but it’s a huge deal in this house. I can’t even remember now what he was pointing at…I think it was his cup. But he looked at me, then looked at the cup, pointed & said, “Ca”.

OMG.

Big moment here y’all! I smiled so big & told him, “Good job pointing bubba! You’re such a big boy!” And he giggled and hugged me, and it was just a sweet moment. All of the practicing and modeling you do. Then to finally see your kiddo independently do it on their own…it’s an amazing feeling. Now he does it all the time. Because he knows that he will usually get whatever he points to [haha], but he learned from my positive reaction, that what he did was the right thing to do. Positive reinforcement doesn’t always have positive outcomes [confusing, I know], but in these cases it produces the best outcomes! Praising your child will encourage them to be more independent with everything that they do.

I know as parents it can be hard to “let go” of our little babies who constantly need us to feed them, change them, bathe them, & entertain them. As they get older, they need to learn to do all of these things on their own. Otherwise, how will they ever be on their own? It’s difficult, sometimes, having such an independently independent child. Most of the time we don’t have to contrive situations for our daughter to do things on her own, because she just does them. It’s hard not to feel “needed” sometimes by your babies. But, trust me, they always come back. For support, for encouragement, or just some lovins…something to think about 🙂

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As always, God bless †

Brittany

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Flying with Two Toddlers: From a Momma Who Learned the Hard Way

Confined spaces & toddlers DO. NOT. MIX. Period. End of story. If you have flown with toddlers before, you know this all too well. My family and I recently took a spontaneous trip to Texas & I’ll be honest, the trip there was not well-planned on my part. There were some necessity items that would have made my life a lot easier had I packed them.

We were THOSE people on the plane with the insanely fussy toddler. The whole flight. Two and half hours of a screaming toddler. I mean the whole nine, y’all. Kicking, crying, screaming, throwing his head back, pushing me away kind of tantrum. Needless to say, I was so exhausted by the time we finally arrived I probably looked like a zombie.

It actually didn’t even start on the flight. It started when we were going through security. It didn’t help that both kiddos were trying to get sick & were already not feeling well. Of course, the airport security guards had me pull EVERYTHING out of the diaper bag & fold up the stroller. All the while I’m lookin’ like a hot mess mom who doesn’t have her you know what together. I had one kid in my arms flailing around and crying because….well I don’t even know why…just because. And another kid throwing a fit to the point of me having to drag her over to my sister [who was with me and I’m so thankful] so she could take her through security. All because she wanted to sit in the stroller I had to fold up and put on the track.

I was literally on the tipping point of a breakdown when this sweet old woman came up to me and said, “Sweetie, do you need some help?” I know, so gracious and sweet. I told her kindly, “Thank you, but my sister is just right there and is helping me.” It was apparent that the struggle was real with this momma.

I hope my terrible experience will be a lesson learned for all of you parents of toddlers out there 🙂

Flying with Two Toddlers

My first piece of advice is be prepared for crying

There will be crying. Unless your children are perfect angels and never cry or get upset about anything, there will be crying. The sooner you accept that, the better. If people around you don’t understand and sympathize with you, well you probably won’t ever see them again so don’t sweat it 🙂

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This was the 30 minutes of peace I got on the flight. He fell asleep immediately after take-off. He’s my little Tasmanian devil, but he’s still the cutest 🙂

Medication

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Bring medication. Be prepared for any kind of pain they may experience. Tummy aches from motion sickness, pain in their ears from the pressure changes, and just assume your toddler will be teething during the flight. Better to assume and be prepared than be like me and have to buy a $12 bottle of infant Advil at the airport. Just bring it. You never know. And go ahead and give it to them BEFORE you get on your flight. That way it will begin to work its magic before you even take off. Being proactive is key!

Snacks galore

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You can’t go wrong with food! Just like that insane $12 tiny Advil bottle, everything at the airport is so expensive. Just save yourself some sanity and money & pack your own snacks. Then pack some more. My kids almost went through an entire gallon Ziploc baggie packed full of snacks. Gummies, raisins, goldfish, cinnamon sticks, granola bar. You name it, I probably packed it. I may have forgot the medicine, but I never leave the house without snacks. Something I didn’t pack though was some suckers. I think suckers are a great thing to give your kiddos to help their ears pop when the pressure is changing. And what kid doesn’t love candy right?!

Headphones & iPad

Judge me all you want, but some kind of a screen will probably save your life. Luckily, on our flight back to California the plane had those fancy TVs on the backs of all the chairs. Disney movies were all free, too. Score! But on the way to Texas we were not so lucky. Before everyone gets all “too much screen time is bad” momma on me, I don’t normally let my children stare at a screen all day. But if Toy Story 3 will keep my kiddos calm for a 2 hour flight and save me some sanity, you bet your sweet tush I’ll let them sit and watch the whole thing. I was a bit proactive with this one and brought our iPad from home for our 2 year old along with some headphones as to not bother other passengers on the plane [literally laughed as I typed that]. But my little guy didn’t have anything like that to keep him busy or distracted on the flight there.

Also, just do yourself a favor and buy the wifi. It was like $12 for our whole flight home and totally worth every penny.

Comfort item

Proud of myself for this one because I was on top of it. My children are so attached to their blankies. Especially my son. He literally cannot do anything or go anywhere without his blanket. He can’t even sleep without it. It’ pretty much just apart of his anatomy at this point. Throughout the entire flight there, pretty much the only thing that comforted him was his blanket. Whatever comfort item soothes your child, bring it. A stuffed animal, blanket, pillow, a toy, sippie, paci, anything. Bring it and thank me later. Clearly daddy is a comfort item too 😉

Non-screen items

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All my non-screen parents out there…if you really wanna stick to your guns and have no-screen time, or you don’t mind the screen time and want to give your kiddos some extra options, here ya go. Bring coloring books, crayons, stickers, stamps, dolls, cars or anything else you know your kiddos are interested in. I made the mistake of not bringing any of this stuff on the way there. Some toy cars or colors may have distracted my little guy for a little while. On the way home, my daughter had two barbie dolls she got from her awesome aunt and uncle while we were home. Those kept her busy and happy for a good bit.

Window seats

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I’m pretty sure every little kiddo loves the window seat! If you are able to pick out your seats when you book your flight, make sure you get a window seat for your toddler. My kiddos loved to look out of the window when we took off and once we were in the air. We flew stand-by on our flight to Texas and luckily all got window seats. But if you are in the same situation and get assigned to a middle or aisle seat, I find that most people are nice enough to switch you if you ask nice enough 🙂

I think the nature of your child’s temperament has a lot to do with situations like these. If you notice, a lot of my issues on the flights had to do with our son. He has more of a difficult and fiesty temperament. When my daughter was his age, she did much better on the plane. But their temperaments are very different, she’s much more calm and cautious. So just be aware of your little one and be patient with them. Our flight was rough. Not gonna lie. But I can’t blame a one and a half year old for being squirmy and fussy on a flight. He needs to run around and have a bit of freedom with his movements. A plane does not give you that luxury. It can be an exhausting trip, I know. But don’t forget that. I hope this helps you and maybe gives you a good laugh. Or maybe some of you an relate to my horror story! Either way, I love sharing my experiences with y’all.

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As always, God bless †

Brittany

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Five Reasons Why Healthy Grandparent-Grandchild Relationships are Important

One of my absolute favorite memories I have is with my grandpa. We were in his living room with my grandma, and I believe my parents were there too. We were listening to music [I wish I could remember the song that was playing] & my grandpa told me to hop up on his feet. He began to move back & forth dancing with me. It was such a sweet moment that was there & gone so quickly, but I will always cherish it and hold it close to my heart.

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My handsome Grandpa. I adored him & miss him dearly.

My family & I just got back from a week-long visit to our hometown in Texas. The one thing I am most thankful for is how close our families live to one another. For starters, it’s super easy on us when we travel there because we don’t have to drive far to go back and forth! But mostly, it gives us that much more time to give them to spend with our two babies. It’s the coolest thing watching our parents play with our children. Some people may not realize how important these relationships are to your child’s emotional & social development. I’m here to share with you five big reasons why they are!

It takes a village

This is such an old saying that hits the nail right on the head! In most cases, parents of the child deserve 95% of the credit in the raising of their child. That other 5% is dedicated to all of the other influencers in that child’s life. Teachers, aunts, uncles, nannies, and you guessed it, grandparents! When the nanny isn’t available & you need to run to the grocery store or run some last minute errands before you have to rush back home and make dinner, who watches your kiddos? I bet at least half of you said “Oh my parents do!” Unless of course you are a military family & don’t live close to family [insert ugly cries]. Other than their parents, grandparents are a very apparent and constant role in a child’s life [in most cases].

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I spent so much time at my Nana’s house growing up. She definitely helped make me who I am today.

Older traditions

I bet most of us poke fun at older relatives in our lives when we see them struggling with technology or when they say, “I remember when we had to write letters & mail them to a person if we wanted to talk to them.” But views & old traditions can be such a great way to instill some humility into our littles. Older views like how to properly pursue & date a young lady, how to treat elders, holding the door open for others, don’t cuss in front of a lady, and many other things that most young children don’t seem to know these days. Traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation & learning about how those traditions started is also super important & gives the child a look into their family’s past. Which brings me to my next point…

Family history

Grandparents always have the best stories to tell! My husband’s grandpa will sit down for hours & tell you all about things he has done & hilarious jokes he has learned through the years. Grandparents can tell you things that your parents can’t simply because they have been around longer. They can tell you things about your parents when they were growing up & stories about your great-grandparents. Sitting & talking about memories & history creates a strong bonding environment for the grandparent and grandchild. You may learn something about them that you can relate to. Maybe they loved to play hockey when they were growing up just like you. You never know unless you just sit and talk with them and build that strong foundation of a relationship.

The child’s development

This is a big one & has been shown and proven in multiple studies around the world. Having strong & healthy relationships with your grandparents can have a significant impact on your emotional state as you get older. A certain study conducted by researchers at Boston College found that having an emotionally stable & healthy grandparent-grandchild relationship resulted in decreased depressive symptoms in all groups. Children with supportive and present grandparents are more likely to grow up presenting pro-social behaviors & be happier adults. Grandparents can set the foundation for a strong support system in the family overall.

Their legacy

Whether it be a name passed down, a business inherited or simply carrying on something that was important to them- it’s always important for children to respect who their grandparents were once they’ve died. My husband is the most loyal person I know. He has a respect and love for his family that I adore and admire. He was given the option to change his name when he was younger and he took that opportunity to honor two influential men in his life. His grandfathers, Craig & Thomas. He will carry on those names for the rest of his life. It may sound simple to most, but it’s a wonderful way to keep their legacy alive.

I cannot stress enough how influential these relationships are. Watching our children playing with & conversing with their grandparents this past week was such a blessing. Seize those moments while you can! It all happens so fast. So capture the moments, soak up the stories, & never forget the memories made! Don’t wait until it’s too late to spend quality time with them. Trust me, you won’t regret a second!

This post is dedicated in loving memory to Grandad. My husband’s grandfather. He was so generous & had the most kind heart. He are extremely grateful for everything he did for our little family. We miss you more than words can express.

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As always, God bless†

Brittany