Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Maybe our parents had it right

It had been a trying weekend. Husband and I often found ourselves admonishing Kate, and then cringing inside as we realized “OMG, I sound just like my mother!” So when I was scrolling through my face.book feed later that night, my eye was drawn to an article 20 Useful phrases to Use When your Child isn’t Listening. The author begins:

I replaced my judgmental, negative, threatening tone with a neutral, problem solving, empathetic, encouraging one, and my little girl's behavior improved dramatically. The lesson was clear for me. Talk to mini-humans the way you'd like to be talked to and things will go a lot smoother. 

I was immediately intrigued. I’d love to see Kate’s behavior improve dramatically and have a much smoother process. Added bonus if I don’t sound like my mother! 

As I started to read, I found that most of her suggestions made sense and I could see myself adopting them. For example:

1.What do you need to remember?"
Take a break from: "Be careful."

I had heard this suggestion somewhere else. “Be careful” is just too vague. Be specific about their actions or explain the consequences of doing something that they shouldn’t. Got it. 

2. Please talk softly."
Take a break from: "Stop yelling!" or "Be Quiet!"

A more positive tone. Makes sense. Also follows saying “Please do ___________” rather than “Don’t do this!” So far I’m following with you.

Then I started to deviate a bit..

Let's add that toy you want to your birthday list."
Take a break from: "We can't afford that" or "No, I said NO TOYS!"
Example: "I am not willing to buy that, would you like me to put it on your birthday wish list?"

Her explanation;  If we're being honest, we often CAN afford the $5 lego at checkout, we're just not willing to purchase it. But then we buy a $5 almond milk latte from Starbucks. Instead of blaming our finances and creating feelings of scarcity, own your limit, then offer ideas to help them learn how to get it (birthday, earning money, etc.)

I feel that we should teach our kids there are limits and they should know that they are not going to get every item they want.  Saying you’ll add it to the birthday list, isn’t saying ‘no’. You’re really hoping your kid is going to forget about it, but you could be setting up unrealistic expectations for a very long birthday list. Another parenting blog had a suggestion to have the discussion before you get to Tar.get and explain that you will not be buying any toys from Bullseye’s playground, so you avoid the tantrum in the store. 

This is going to counter my point; but I have to admit you never know when you give into buying an item and it turns out to be really useful. After having our talk ahead of time, Kate didn’t protest when we went past Bullseye’s playground, but then she spotted a small plastic case in the make up aisle that she just had to have. It decided to buy it as it was on clearance. That afternoon, she pretended it was her suitcase. She packed it herself with a pair of jammies and a tooth brush. Took a plane ride from her room to the kitchen, then changed into her jammies as she was an overnight guest. An afternoon of self entertainment for only $4.99, but I am digressing. 

Here is where she lost me. 

Do you want to leave now or in ten minutes?"
Take a break from: "Time to go…now!"
Example: "Do you guys wanna leave now or play for ten more minutes, then leave?

Her rationale: “ Kids love to be in charge of their own destiny, especially power kids! This takes a tad bit of proactivity, but it works like a charm! Give them a choice & they'll respond much better when you say "Okay, 10 minutes is up, time to go."”

Pausing for a moment to get to my main objection to this suggestion. I feel the notion of giving kids choices works only in theory. Yes, it works on Husbands. You’re choosing tile to update the backslash in your kitchen. You find two designs that you like and present him with the choice between the two. Ultimately, you get a design you like and he feels like he was involved in the decision process. Win-win. Yet for kids, the decision process is an opportunity to make things more complicated. I used to give Kate options for picking her clothes (sometimes presenting it as a choice between ‘freakin A or frecking B’) and she would reject both choices and try to pick something for herself. We had to stop using the expensive ‘dinner winner’ maze plates as it was an ordeal just to have her select a plate before we even entered the disaster zone known as meal time. 

Firstly, what kid is not going to go for the option of playing for ten more minutes and we know what follows from there. Ten minutes turns into twenty…  More so, what if you need to leave now and you don’t have ten minutes to spare? It feels like you’re venturing into letting the kids make their own rules. Call me old fashion, but I think the parents should make the rules and the kids should know that the parents make the rules and that they need to follow those rules. 

She had one more suggestion about getting ready to leave the house.

We are on cheetah time today and need to move fast!"
Take a break from: "Hurry Up!" or "We are going to be late!"
Example: "We're on racehorse time today! Let's see how fast we can move!"

So I tried this with Kate one morning, explaining that cheetahs are among the fastest animals, so we needed to move fast like cheetahs. Kate responded “I’m a baby cheetah, so baby cheetahs move slow.” I had to concede that yes, baby cheetahs probably do not move as fast as adult cheetahs. It was a fail. 

I think when I was 6 or 7, I was stalling getting ready for school one morning and my Dad yelled, “Get your ass in the car now!” There was no ambiguity. No choices. No discussion about animal speed. I knew I was in trouble because my Dad used the word ass, and I knew that if I didn’t get my ass in gear, there would be big trouble. The next morning I made sure I was on time. 

So maybe our parents had it right after all. Obviously, we all turned out okay. Now when I hear myself sounding like my mother, instead of cringing, I’ll take it as a sign that I’m doing something right.  

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

2018 Goals

1.    Following Flexible Eating and continued weight loss

Mixed. I did lose three pounds, but 1.5 was fat and 1.5 was muscle and I was told that I am probably not eating enough calories, so I am still trying to figure out what is the right balance. Our gym held a competition where members paid $10 to do a weigh in before Thanksgiving, those who maintained or lost weight get their money back and split the rest from those who gained. I was just a pound over my starting weight, so I lost (by not losing). It’s frustrating as I felt that I did eat sensibly and squeezed in extra work-outs during the holidays, but I’m going to set as a new goal for 2019: not to be so obsessed with the scale. 

2.    Cross-Fit 
Success! In 2017 I kept a sticker chart to track how often I go to the gym or to swim practice. Last year I made it to the gym 78 times. This year, I did 126 work-outs. What helped achieve that total is that I adopted a “no excuses” approach. From analyzing my 2017 sticker chart, I saw how easy it is for life to keep you from the gym (work events, sick kid, Husband’s away for work or hockey) so I only gave myself 5 passes when I missed because I just didn’t feel like it going. I managed to keep it only to 5 and it included my illness, returning from a trip, the two time changes and an England match in the World Cup quarter finals. I also purchased a 20 inch box, a kettlebell and a pair of 35 lbs dumbbells so I can do work-outs at home while Chris is away. No excuses.
Skills: I got Chest to Bar (Kipping) and I’ve been hitting a lot of PRs with my lifts. I competed in the Cross Fit Open and did one more competition 
   Targets for 2019
   Hand stand push-ups
   Rope Climbs
   CrossFit Open and 1-2 more competitions
   Working more on lifting technique 

3.    Sending cards for birthdays
Success! I may have missed one or two, but I received a lot of follow up that friends really appreciate snail mail cards. 

4.    Keep up with Kate’s Share Days
I did well in the beginning of the year, then completely fell off. However, we’re required to being in snack once a month at her new school and I’ve been good about keeping up with it.  

5.    Adjust to my new role in a leadership position 
Mixed to fail. I don’t want to go into any specific details, but there was a difficult situation at the end of the year and my weakness as a leader was truly exposed. My position ended up being eliminated due to another leadership reorganization and I was relieved as I probably would have resigned.  I don’t want to give myself a total fail as I feel I did some things well and I came up with a few good ideas. I’ve been thinking back to when I was a Junior in High School and I was denied admission to the National Honor Society due to lack of leadership activities. My school administrators knew it back then. I’m not a natural leader. I was devastated as a 17 year old who was convinced that no good college would accept her and I wouldn’t get to wear the gold cords at graduation. As a 42 year old I accept that I have other skills and good qualities. Being in a leadership position is not one. 

6.    Send my In-laws photos on a monthly basis
Success until April; then total fail. I have no excuses, just apathy. 

7.    Run some 5K races with Kate
Success! We did (6) 5 Ks and I ran (2) 10Ks on my own. Kate ran the first mile of our Thanksgiving day race on her own and Husband ran the New Year Day’s race and placed third in his age group! 

8.    More FaceTime with Husband
Getting better. We lost our monthly date night when we switched Kate to her new Pre-School, but we managed to go out twice while my parents were in town for Christmas and we’ve already lined up a babysitter for Valentine’s Day. Husband has been getting back to the gym and his recent third place finish is encouraging him to do some more runs, so we’re spending more family time together. 

9.    Swim Times
I had a surprise PR in the 50 Free early in the season, but was really disappointed with how I did at our Spring meet. I was happier with how I did in our Autumn meet, which included competing in the 200 Fly. My biggest challenge with swimming has been consistency. I took a few days off after our Spring meet, then Husband had a work trip, Kate started waking up multiple times a night, we went to Hawaii and suddenly I missed 6 weeks of swimming. Then we lost days in November due to the poor air quality from the Camp Fires. We only had a few days back before the pool’s heaters broken down in December and at press time, still have not been repaired.  I’m not going to put too much pressure on myself to PR at our April meet given I’ll only have had a few months of training leading in
   Targets for 2019
   Avoiding any long and unnecessary breaks
   Completing 7 events in the SCY and SCM Championships (No scratches and no DQs)
   Doing 200 Fly in both meets
   Brute Squad challenge (missed this year due to pool closure)
   PR 400 Kick for Time (also missed due to pool closure)

10.    Parenting
Mix of Successes and Fails. I was really hoping to be completely potty trained by the end of the year. I bought a box of Night-time pull-ups in May, hoping it would be the last box we ever purchased. It wasn’t. By October, I was so fed up with doing laundry every morning that I decided we needed to take a two week break. I picked up a small bag of pull-ups from Safe.way and then decided that it was really nice to sleep at night and not have to get up to do Kate’s dream pee. So the next time I was at Costco, I picked up again what I hope is out last box of pull-ups ever. I decided it would be a good idea to keep her in pull-ups during our visit to her UK grandparents and our stay at a hotel in Ireland as no one would want to deal with wet sheets. We’ll get ready to give it another go when we get back. This will hopefully lead to two other unfulfilled goals of 2018: getting a proper big girl bed for Kate and getting her to fall asleep on her own. 

I had also wanted to be better with discipling Kate and just after her third birthday, I was feeling that it was a major fail. Just in the past few months, she has made such a change for the better and I give a lot of credit to her new Montessori Pre-School. Making the decision to switch her to the new school was one of our major successes for the this year and hopefully beyond. Even during my parents visit, where she previously fell apart due to the extra stimulation, she was much better behaved and even my mother noticed and commented. We still have our battles with getting her to stay seated and eat at the kitchen table. I discovered that I’m not afraid to be a hard-ass. It drives me crazy when she lays across the seat so after she didn’t listen to my warning, I pulled the chair out from under her. She was startled and I’ve threatened to do it again, and she’s been better about sitting. Eating in a reasonable amount of time is still a challenge. 

Targets for 2019.
Continue to limit screen time. Currently, she watches 2 twenty minute shows in the morning and 2 in the evening. Especially if one of us is solo parenting, it keeps her occupied so we can get ready. There are times when we get home from school when she wants me to play with her, but I need to start getting dinner ready. If I can’t get her to play by herself, I’ll offer letting her watch some shows, which I really hate doing, but sometimes you need to get stuff done. As she puts in a 10 hour day at school with the commute, I figured she’s earned some down time with the TV. I still refuse to let her watch anything on my phone when we are out. 

I also want to work on her letters. We have a dry erase board for practicing letter and she does surprisingly well (when she feels like working on them). I know it’s ambitious, but I’d like to gear her toward reading. She has an amazing recall and can practically recite a book after hearing it only one or two times, so I have the feeling that she is keen, although she resists sometimes when I try to show and explain words while we’re doing story time. Mostly my goal is to make sure she’ll be kindergarten ready by the end of the year as (gulp) I can’t believe she’ll be starting Kindergarten next year.

2019 is going to be a busy year and I hope it’s a good one!