Peacefully Handling a Child Being Uncooperative

mygirl

Is it obvious that I totally tried to make a P.C. title to this post?

Parenting is the hardest job I’ve ever had.  Sure, that might not be the case for every single mother on this earth.  But for those mothers who try hard every single day to raise a decent, loving, intelligent, open-minded human being, it is the hardest job ever!

It’s also the most wonderful job I have, truly.

However, I’d be embarrassed and ashamed if people knew how many times I’ve stumbled as a mother.  I try to do the best I can, but the thing is, I’m human, too, and therefore fallible and imperfect.

My daughter is what many refer to as “spirited” – a term used in the book “Raising Your Spirited Child” by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka – a child who is more intense, sensitive, perceptive, persistent, and energetic than an average child.  It can be a challenge to raise such a child with your wits intact.

An issue I want to discuss is dealing with an uncooperative child.  A more specific example of this issue is getting ready on school mornings.  On a typical morning, I do my makeup, get dressed, feed the dogs, pack my breakfast and lunch, pack my daughter’s breakfast and lunch, and pack my bags for the day.  We have to leave home around 7:30 a.m. so I can get my daughter to school on time (and no, her riding the bus to save time isn’t an option).

In the morning, my daughter is responsible for dressing in her school uniform and shoes, and brushing her teeth and hair.  For years, I’ve had issues with it taking 45 minutes or more for her to accomplish these things, usually with my constant reminders to put on a shirt, or put on shoes, etc. Mornings were frequently stressed because we are always running late for school.  It is an absolute heartbreak for she and I to start our day stressed and mad at each other.

I’ve tried arguing.  I’ve tried yelling.  I’ve tried being calm and sweet.  I’ve tried rationally explaining my cause. I’ve tried emotional teary appeals. I’ve tried rewards.  I’ve tried a fun chore chart.  I’ve even tried explaining truancy. Nothing worked.

At my wits end, I really snapped one day when my mother happened to be babysitting (my daughter’s school was out for the day).  I had said I was tired of my daughter not listening in the mornings.  My mom talked to me and ultimately, gave me a solution:

No arguing, no yelling, consequence based cause-and-effect.  And absolute follow-through.  I took this approach over a month ago, and only had to warn of it twice – and it has worked better than anything else so far.

The first morning I employed this tactic, she was being slow as usual.  She sings, plays with the dogs, or just goofs off.  In a nutshell, I said, “We need to leave in 20 minutes.  If you aren’t ready to leave the house, you will go as you are, even if you aren’t wearing your shoes.  You’ll have to go like that.”

Her response?  Tears, telling me I was mean…you get the idea.  I looked firm on the outside, but on the inside, I felt horrible.  I didn’t let her know that.  All that morning, she sulked and acted as though something really terrible had happened, but she got ready on time without much incident.

Later that day I told my mom how she reacted, and thankfully my mom told me I had done right.  She said most likely my daughter had gotten upset because up until that morning, she knew how things worked.  She could be slow and not get ready on time, and mom would get upset or yell to hurry up.  That’s it.  No big surprise.

When I “changed the game’, there was no yelling or anything – just “get ready or go as you are, no exceptions”.  That was new and she didn’t know how to “play” that call.

A morning or two later, I had to use this warning again.  Get ready on time or you will have to leave the house unprepared and/or undressed.  She got pretty upset again and even said grandma was mean for being on my side, but she got ready.

So far, a few weeks later, I have had far less issues with her getting ready in the morning.  Typically, it’s as easy as firmly but gently reminding her, “get ready” or “we have to leave in 15 minutes” or some variation of that, and she is on task again.

Would I follow through if she didn’t get ready?  Yes.  Because if it happened once and she had to go to school without socks or her backpack, I think it would be the only hard lesson she would need.  I’d be willing to follow through and explain to her teacher so that she understood what happened.

As of yet, I haven’t had to follow-through, except one day when she couldn’t find her sneakers and I made her walk outside onto the porch in just her socks.  She was very upset with herself but didn’t act upset with me.  Unfortunately it was pouring rain and luckily the sneakers were in the car, so I was able to grab them and tell her to put them on while sitting on the porch.  That was a close call for her and she saw that I was willing to let her suffer the consequences.

I think this exercise has taught her self-accountability and responsibility.  It has helped so much but I’ve had to be willing to follow-through.  In the end, it has made our mornings SO much nicer and easier.

How do you peacefully handle tough parenting situations?

If I Had To Replace All My Makeup…

vanity

I’ve always thought this was a fun idea – if all your makeup was suddenly gone, what makeup would you buy, right now, to start over?  Even though my makeup changes with the seasons and I’m always discovering new products and brands I love. Some of these choices are items I know and love, other choices are products that I’ve read enough about to be willing to try them over other options.  These are the items I would buy right now to start over with a mostly low-toxin/natural, cruelty-free makeup collection. 

Face:

  • Foundation: Fitglow Vita-Active Foundation – the most hydrating foundation I’ve tried, excellent ingredients, light-medium coverage, lasting power is very good
  • Concealer: Tarte Shape Tape Concealer – I have major under eye darkness and I tried this one in store and LOVED it.  Even though I have a concealer, I want to buy this one right now.
  • Blush: RMS Lip2Cheek probably in Modest and Spell – never tried these particular products, but I really want to!

 

Eyes:

 

Lips:

  • Lip balm: Hurraw! for basic lip balm

 

What are you favorite makeup products ever?  Do you share any of my favorites?  Please share!

My First Capsule Wardrobe: Fall

Like so many women, I finally reached the point where I was sick of looking in my closet and drawers.  There were lots of pieces, but I felt apathetic about many of them and disliked others.  Why was I holding on to clothes that I didn’t feel confident and pretty in?  It made absolutely no sense that I kept trying to justify items that didn’t make me feel great.  Not “just OK” or “eh, it will do” but great.  Also, as someone who strives to be environmentally friendly, it isn’t right to mindlessly buy cheap clothes just because I can.

So I purged my closet and dresser drawers.  What was left over was scanty.  I started shopping with intention and was shocked at how often in my life I had justified purchasing a pair of pants or a shirt that, even though I didn’t love it, it was worth buying because it was pretty on the hanger, or I wanted a new shirt, or it was on sale at a great price.  I found myself walking out of stores empty-handed more and more because there wasn’t anything I loved when I tried it on.  It was then that it started making sense to have a capsule wardrobe made up ONLY of items that fit well and I felt comfortable and pretty it.  No exceptions.

My wardrobe it is greatly inspired by the foundation outlined by Caroline at the blog Un-Fancy.  A “traditional” capsule wardrobe includes 37 pieces that includes tops, bottoms, dresses, outerwear, and shoes.  A capsule wardrobe piece count does not include other items such as lingerie, socks, scarves, jewelry and workout attire. Coincidentally, my wardrobe came it at a total of 35 pieces – a really nice collection with room for another piece or two if I come across something I love.

6 BLOUSES:

blouses

 

6 SWEATERS:

sweaters

 

7 CARDIGANS:

cardigans

 

3 MISCELLANEOUS PIECES:

misc

 

2 BLAZERS:

blazers

 

6 BOTTOMS:

bottoms

Note: there is an extra pair of jeans shown in this photo, but I’m planning to get rid of them

 

3 SHOES:

  • 1 pair black knee-high boots
  • 1 pair dark brown knee-high boots
  • 1 pair waterproof black ankle booties

2 JACKETS:

  • 1 knee-length mint green dressy jacket-coat
  • 1 chambray lightweight anorak (this one)

 

The task of paring down my wardrobe and adding in pieces I loved, and then taking a look at my “inventory” was very amusing and quite useful to me.  First of all, I feel I do have a certain style and color palette.  I gravitate towards black and pink more than any other colors (I knew that anyway, but this confirmed it again).  Also, I have a lot of classic cuts and styles, but with some nice textures (like lace and chiffon and knits) and a few patterns (like roses and polka dots).

I would call my daily style “business casual”.  I want to look polished and pulled together, but in the office I work, it’s not necessary to wear heels and dress pants.  Typically, my work outfit might be a pair of skinny jeans, a sleeveless blouse with an open front cardigan, and a pair of flats.  Once it gets colder, it might be more like a pair of skinny jeans, a light sweater, scarf, and black booties.  A few years ago, when I was teaching at a local college, my wardrobe consisted of heels, skirts, dresses, and dress pants, because those are the clothes I wore, but as my lifestyle has changed, so has my wardrobe.

My favorite pieces are clothes that are feminine, chic, and wearable.  If I had to pick my three favorite details to find in a piece of clothing, my honest response would be bows, pink, and lace.  The problem is, it’s difficult to find a piece of clothing that encompasses those details that is still work-appropriate and well made.  I think my favorite piece I now own is the sheer black long sleeve blouse with pink lip print and a pussy bow at the neck (shown in the top photo, second blouse from the left).  That piece embodies my style pretty well.

The only piece I can think of that I’d like to add to my wardrobe right now is the perfect long-sleeve black top.  I had one a couple of years ago that I literally wore to pieces.  But because I’m looking for the perfect fit and fabric, I’ll hold out until I find just the right one, or I won’t buy one.

It will be interesting to see how my wardrobe develops for this coming winter, and also into the spring of next year.  If all goes well, I will do a capsule wardrobe post for winter.  Additionally, I plan on incorporating more eco-friendly piece into my wardrobe in the future.  It will be interesting to see how that works, as it’s difficult to find such pieces in brick-and-mortar stores where I live, and I really need to try every clothing piece on before I buy because I am curvy.  Any tips for this?

Do you strive for a minimal wardrobe?

 

Our Lovely, Peaceful Fall Day

lakeSunday, October 9, 2016

8:30 a.m. – Drinking organic coffee we made in our French press (we’re both addicted to it since I bought it about three weeks ago). My husband asks if I would want to go to a lake about a 45 minute drive from home.  I’m on board. We pack up the kid and two dogs and are driving by 10:15.

11:00 a.m. – By this time we’ve made it to the college town that sets on the outskirts of the scenic lake area.  We go to a flea market, a Halloween store where my daughter tries on two costumes, both of which are “too itchy”, and finally stop to eat lunch before heading towards the lake.

1:30 p.m. – Finally arrive at our first stop where we hike for a while with a whiny little girl, one very smart, obedient dog, and one somewhat ditzy dog. I try to keep my sanity as I am interrupted 10-20 times while I take photos.

The sky is clear with just a few wispy clouds.  There is a breeze and it is about 70 degrees Fahrenheit.  Basically, the weather you’d expect in heaven.  Just perfection.

bugMy daughter is very curious about nature and always, always gets dirty.  I’ve learned to embrace and even enjoy the fact that she loves sticks, leaves, cute bugs, dirt, puddles, and sand.

2:15 p.m. – By this time, we’ve driven to be right on the lake. It’s lovely and the dogs and kiddo are loving being in nature.

scavengingOn the beach, there are things to be inspected by a curious little girl.  But under the trees, in shady spots, there are signs of autumn…

wetleavesI love the way leaves look when they’ve fallen to the ground but not yet decayed.  So beautiful and fragile.

rocksGathering pebbles on the edge of the lake.  I loved collecting rocks as a child.  I think it has to do with some unconscious childhood desire to connect back to the earth.

2:45p.m. – We drive a short distance to our final stop.  While the little one plays on a playground and literally buries her Barbies in the sand, my husband and I sit with two tired dogs under some shade trees.

dogs3:00 p.m. – Feeling genuinely blessed.  I’ve been dealing with ongoing health issues lately (I know, I should join the club, right?) and it is physically and emotionally draining at times, especially when I still work full-time and have a child.  Having days like this recharges me and makes me feel loved and at peace.

shadetrees3:15p.m. – Stop for gas and snacks – the husband has nuts and iced coffee, I have water and a granola bar, and kid has an ice cream sandwich, which is a special treat that she doesn’t get very often. Dogs have lots of fresh, cool water.

4:15p.m. – Husband and I get home and crash together in bed for a nice late afternoon nap.  Little girl plays very quietly (we always cross our fingers that she won’t be too loud – I was pretty vehement before we took a nap for her to play in her room right next to ours very quietly).

6:00p.m. – Little girl and I make homemade vegan chili and cornbread together.  I liked the cornbread but it got a thumbs down from her and husband…not sure why.  Oh, well.  The chili was good.

9:00p.m. – Everyone is settling down for the night: two little dogs, one little girl, and one husband and wife.  Nighty night.

10:30p.m. – Finally get kid to settle down and go to sleep after letting her watch a movie past her bedtime.  It’s OK since today is a holiday and she doesn’t have school.

You know how sometimes in interviews, a person is asked to describe their perfect day? This was pretty close for me.  Although it wasn’t like we were sipping coffee and eating croissants in Paris, it was special and beautiful nonetheless. Happiness comes when you create it.  I hope this post has inspired you to have a beautiful fall season and to try to get outside and enjoy the weather!