Babywise Week: Improving Attitude without Stifling Emotions

Today, for Babywise Week we hear from Rachel at A Mother Far From Home. She continues our discussion on attitude with some thoughts on how we can require a good attitude without stifling our children’s emotions. She does a good job of offering specific steps on how we can do so. She tells us what it means to express a good attitude and how to appropriately express emotions. She sums up every parent’s goals with saying that we want our children to:

  • Exhibit a positive attitude
  • Be able to express their emotions
  • Feel understood and heard by their parents
  • Not be ruled by their emotions and moods

There are several ways we can go about doing so. She offers these five great steps:

  • Learn to separate the emotion from the event
  • Find a safe place for your child to vent
  • Determine if a conversation will help or only make things worse
  • Help them find outlets to express their emotions
  • Be appropriately empathetic

Head on over to Rachel’s blog to read her post in its entirety. And be sure to follow us all week:

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Creating Time

By Bethany Lynch

I think I have heard at least half a dozen moms this week talk about needing more hours in the day. I have seen posts on Facebook, heard it from coworkers, read it on blogs. None of us seems to feel “done” with everything we wanted to accomplish at the end of the day. I have blogged before about feeling accomplished, but I think the larger problem is that we try to take too much on. I have also written about changing priorities, but I get the feeling that if most of us just had another hour or two, we think we would feel accomplished and have met our priorities.

I have been really evaluating what takes up the most of my time, as well as the little things that end up sucking up almost as many minutes…or hours. My mental interest has also been focused on tips from others that I could apply to my life. Some of these require making more complicated changes but there are many relatively easy things we can do that just require a good ounce of willpower.

Here are my favorite, loved, not-so-loved, and simply fantastic ideas to create or free up more time:

Evaluate social media use

This includes all, not just the obvious time stealers, including checking email every x number of minutes or having an alert for new messages. Checking Facebook daily, let alone hourly. Posting every few pictures you take to Instagram. Staring at your phone wondering what else you can check or do for a mental break. Thinking in terms of a good Facebook status. Using your phone or iPad regularly as part of your and/or your kids’ schedule or as an expected distraction at doctor’s offices, waiting in lines, etc. If this is you, my advice is to set a daily limit of phone/computer/iPad time. Eliminate it in front of your children. Eliminate it as an automatic part of their schedule. I realize this may sound harsh, but iPad time is a rare privilege in our house…and it is an awesome motivator. Yes, there are some great educational apps, but cutting it out of your schedule…and your kids’ schedule will cut down on arguments and behavior issues almost immediately. You can also delete apps from your phone that have a website, making it harder to just pop open the app immediately. If you want to go hardcore, set a time during the day to check social media, eliminate all social media after a certain time of night, or even designate a day of the week with No Social Media Allowed.

Evaluate time commitments

This is our first season for joining a team or structured activity/sport. My son is almost 6 and just now doing soccer. By no means am I saying your child should be the same age before joining a team or taking lessons, but be very intentional about what you sign yourself and your children up to do. We have been extremely deliberate in what we add to our schedule. My daughter is almost 4, which is a very common age to start dance lessons, etc., but we are waiting until soccer is finished. I know that we will overlap activities at some point but family dinners, conversations as a family/spouse/each child are a big focus for us. We have had hilarious and important conversations in the car on the way to places/activities, but one of the best 30-60 minutes of my day is the time we average sitting on the couch or at the kitchen table talking with “near” undivided attention. Although it sounds like taking time out of your schedule to sit at the table/couch, I promise you will be enriched and more able to accomplish other things without the hustle and bustle of racing around. I am not really referring to errands, although they can take up a large portion of our time, but rather the things we purposefully add routinely to our schedule. Make sure that they are right for you right now and add value…not just because friends or neighbors are doing so.

Get up early

Okay, this is my most not-so-loved idea by far! I have such a hard time doing this…so why in the world would I say you should??! Research for physical health, mental health, spiritual health, motivation/productivity almost always recommend getting up early as the best way to stay committed and create habits. Most of the moms that get lots done and still have energy even half-way through the day are the ones that get up and exercise as well as have quiet time before anyone else gets up. I know without the hint of a shadow of a handful of doubts that this would drastically add health to my day. I do have a LONG list of excuses, uh, reasons why I do not do this…but simply put, this is one of the easiest things I could do to add time to my day and feel better for it. Ironically, it works best if you go to bed 30-60 minutes earlier. We insist we don’t have the time to do that but really you (we) would wake up feeling more refreshed and most likely get mounds more accomplished.


How in the world does this give you more time? Every.single.time I feel overwhelmed as if I cannot accomplish hardly anything it is because I am neglecting my time alone with God. I do not think this means you have to be a Christian or even a “spiritual person.” My bet is still that you are so busy focusing on everyone else that you have lost sight of what is truly most important and for me that is my relationship with the Lord. For you, it could just be alone time, or yoga, or down time with music. What helps you focus and feel refreshed and balance? Again, it might seem counter-intuitive to take time away from other things and spend it on your emotional/spiritual health, but I guarantee you will feel balance and subsequently more quality time for other things.

Ask for help

I also have a million excuses for why I cannot always do this. They might not do it my way, they are busy too, they will think I am not as productive, it takes too much time to ask. The end result: I stay stressed and without time to get everything done when, in reality, there are probably a handful of people that would be more than happy to help. I get frustrated my husband doesn’t see how much I have to do and jump in, but I have realized that, most of the time, he simply just needs a polite request. So do not be afraid to ask and especially not afraid to take people up on offers to help. If you are at all like me, you are probably making it harder to ask than for the other person to help. Many times people just need to know what would be most helpful.

Ask yourself how important it is

This can be applied to many areas of life, but as far as time management, decide if what you are doing or feel obligated to do is really all that important. Sometimes it is. Many times it is really not anything that adds value or worth to our day/life. I try to do this any time I am starting to feel like I have too much on my plate. I often find that I am elevating the importance level of most things and in actuality can reduce or eliminate many of the things that are occupying my times.

Meal plan

I am not great at it, but when I put a little it of time into it I find myself much more productive overall. It might take a little bit of time to plan to find recipes that work for you and figure out the best way/time for you to grocery shop, but somehow I end up with a lot more free time than when I am scattered and throwing last minute meals together. It may take a smaller quantity of time to physically prepare a quick meal, but the quality of your time and meals will be greater with a little attention to detail. Voila Pinterest!

Ask for advice

Sometimes I am just in a rut and feel like all of my time is being sucked up no matter what I do! This makes for great lunch conversations or coffee house meet-up. Be cautious not to vent! Not much will be solved by commiserating about what does not work or how much you have on your plate, but ask other moms what works for them to stay on top of laundry, how they find time to plan “real food” style meals, or how they decide which activities to choose. You may decide their ideas will not work for you but it might also give you some fresh ideas…as well as give them some fresh ideas of things you do well. Which leads me to my last question….what ideas do you have for creating or freeing up time? I would love to hear what works for you!!

Bethany is a full-time working outside-the-home mom to two children, ages 5 and 3. She blogs at The Graceful Mom to inspire and encourage other moms with work commitments.

I’ll Be Back Soon!

Hi everyone. I just wanted to drop a quick note to apologize for the radio silence! I started this blog in January 2009, and I have been blogging consistently (three times a week) for about a year and a half. I have no intentions of neglecting my devoted readers. I’m just super busy!!! In addition to homeschooling my boys, which requires a ton of planning in the summer, I work as a freelance writer and marketing consultant. Apparently the economy is improving because I’m slammed! It’s all good, but I need to catch a breath before I start blogging again. But I’ll be back soon!

Until then, there’s a lot of great content in my archives, so go back and read some of my older posts if you haven’t already. There are a few gems in there!

New BFBN Pinterest Board and $50 Amazon Giveaway

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The Babywise Friendly Blog Network (BFBN for short) is growing! Join me in welcoming our new members!

Next week, we will start a new monthly series sharing some tried and true tips and tricks. Some of us will explore laundry and cooking while others of us discuss homeschooling, extra-curricular activities, and more. To kick off the series, we’ve launched a new BFBN Pinterest board! Follow the link on the Rafflecopter widget below to see all that we have in store.

Next Thursday, my birthday :-), we will celebrate the BFBN, the tips and tricks series, and Pinterest board by awarding a lucky reader with a $50 Amazon gift card! Enter below. Please join us and bring some tips of your own to share!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Learning to Ride a Bike

Lucas ridingLucas is now riding a two-wheeler! It’s such an exciting milestone, and he’s so proud of himself. He lagged a bit behind his daredevil brother who was riding at age 4, but given that he didn’t walk until he was 20 months, it’s pretty good!

I have to share how I got my boys to ride a bike. When we bought the little 12″ bike from a bike store when William was little, the clerk gave us a great idea. He suggested that we forgo training wheels and simply take the pedals off the bike. This let him learn how to balance, and we didn’t have to shell out the extra money for a special “balance bike.” Brilliant!

At three years old, William was zipping around town on that little bike. He balanced perfectly, and he could go pretty fast. Once he was comfortable riding this way for several months, we realized that he was ready for pedals. So we put them back on, and after a two-minute tutorial on how to push yourself off first, he was riding!

It went exactly the same way for Lucas. It took a little longer for Lucas to get comfortable riding the bike without pedals. He’s quite a bit shorter than his brother, and I realized that once his feet were firmly planted on the ground, he was more confident. Also, by nature, Lucas is a much more cautious child.

Here's Lucas on the bike extension

Here’s Lucas on the trailer bike

I cannot tell you how great this method is. I have watched a couple neighbor kids learn to ride bikes. One learned with her grandpa holding her and running alongside. I don’t know about you, but that’s definitely not my preferred method. Another family left training wheels on, but took one of them off. That way, she learned how to balance, but whenever I saw her ride, I wondered if she was going to end up riding lopsided. It didn’t look natural.

The balance bike method is much better, whether you use a true balance bike or take the pedals off the child’s bike.

If you’re going to go this route with your child, I recommend getting a bike that is small enough so that the child can place his feet comfortably (or flat) on the ground. You can always raise the seat later to get more life out of it. As you can see, Lucas is getting a little big for the 12″, but he’s not super confident on the 16″ so I’ll give it another couple weeks until we switch.

Oh, and I’m a big proponent of quality bike shop bikes and helmets. We bought a bike at Target once, and William ended up with a fat lip after falling over the handlebars. And the one helmet we bought at Target lost its visor not long after we bought it. Bike stores cost a bit more, but it’s a safety issue, in my opinion. You can’t put a price on that. To save money, you might check Craigslist for quality bikes. We bought William’s Trek bike on Craigslist and saved about $100-150. Keep an eye out for bikes made by Trek, Giant, and Specialized.

While you’re out shopping, and if you’re a big bike-riding family, you might consider getting a trailer bike like the one pictured here. We went riding just the other day, even after Lucas learned how to ride, and we still used the thing. We can go longer distances at a faster pace if we’re not going at his 5-year-old pace. They aren’t cheap, so again, check Craigslist. People don’t use them for long, so they’re easier to find used. We bought ours from a friend.

Free Summer Planner Download!

Planner Cover image

Click to download

Homeschooling has changed me a bit, for the better, I think. It’s made me crafty! It has also encouraged the planner in me. So I created a free download for you!

Last Tuesday was our last day of school, and we had a very lazy week and tossed all routine out the window. I was feeling guilty about requiring “summer school” from my children, so I let them do pretty much whatever they wanted for three days as long as it wasn’t destructive. Well…it drove me nuts! There was a lot of TV and a LOT of asking for TV and devices (iPad, iPhone, etc.).

Well, it’s a new week! I set my guilt aside and decided to plan out our summer, school and all. As I think ahead to next school year, I want to teach William to be more independent with his studies, so I’m using this planner as a test. I plan to print it out and maybe have it spiral bound. Isn’t it cute?!

Included in the free download are the following:

  • Sample Schedule (Mon, Tues, Weds)
  • Sample Schedule (Thurs, Fri, Sat/Sun)
  • Weekly Schedule (Mon, Tues, Weds)
  • Weekly Schedule (Thurs, Fri, Sat/Sun)
  • Chore List
  • Virtue List
  • Allowance Checklist
  • Allowance Record

Sample schedule image

Click to download

Let me explain the two schedule types. At first, I created our schedule as you see in the Sample Schedule. Then I realized that I’m more likely to get him to follow it independently if he’s involved in the process of creating it. So I then made another version, the Weekly Schedule, which has many more blanks. I’ll go through it with him to fill it out.

You’ll see that the schedules are created for one week, and they have a virtue listed at the top. Again, I’m going to involve William in this. I’m going to have him decide which virtue he thinks he needs to work on for the week. He’ll then write it in at the top. He can refer to the Virtue List to decide.

And to motivate him in all of this, I’ve created a couple forms for allowance. We’ve done allowance in the past, but I’ve never been very consistent with it. This outlines exactly what needs to be done to receive an allowance, and it puts William in the driver’s seat. He’ll fill out the checklist all week long, and at the end of the week, he can come to me for his allowance if all of it has been completed.

There are a few other items I’m including in his planner (that aren’t in the download):

  • Monthly calendars for June, July, and August (just so he can see what we have planned). I created these in Word. Simple with the calendar template.
  • Library’s summer reading program sheet (yay!)
  • Year at a glance

If you have a child who you think might benefit from a planner like this, feel free to download. I’m giving you the PowerPoint file so you can modify it to suit your needs. Or if you don’t give it to your child to use, you might use it for yourself.

Note: This is for personal use only. Please don’t reproduce multiple copies or (gasp!) sell it.

Tips for Successful Breastfeeding


By Emily Parker,

There are many areas of parenting that are debatable. We all have our own opinions and ideas about what is “best” and many times those ideas may clash with what others believe is “best” for their children. One of the few parenting choices that is not debatable is regarding breastfeeding. Everyone knows that breast milk is the BEST nutrition for our babies. Even formula companies compete with each other to see who can be the “closest thing to breast milk.”

While we all know breast milk is the best source of nutrition, we all have to make the personal choice whether or not to breastfeed. I know many, many mothers choose not to nurse their babies and this isn’t a post to make anyone feel guilt over that choice. Instead, this is a post to encourage those who do want to breastfeed and to share my personal experiences and what helped me to be successful with it when nursing my children.

When I was pregnant with my first child, my son, I wasn’t sure what kind of mom I would be. The idea of nursing kinda bugged me and I didn’t know if I even wanted to do it. Yet the more I learned about the benefits of breast milk for my baby, the more passionate about it I became. I nursed my son exclusively for nine months and he had a mixture of breast milk and formula until a year old. With my daughter I was very confident in my nursing abilities and nursed her exclusively until 11 months when I started to introduce whole milk into her diet then fully weaned her at 13 months.

If you’re pregnant and considering breastfeeding, here are some things I have learned that can help you be successful, and NONE of them have to do with the actual nursing process itself!

1. Pretend formula doesn’t exist: You know that years ago moms didn’t have any other option. Nursing was the ONLY method available. It may sound silly but if you pretend like there ISN’T any other option out there, then you are more likely to be successful in nursing, because you simply aren’t going to consider anything else!

2. Buy a top of the line breast pump and OPEN it: I bought a Medela Freestyle pump when I was pregnant with my son. That junk ain’t cheap. We spent well over $300 on it. I was hesitant to open it. What if I couldn’t nurse? What if I didn’t want to? What if I gave up? My husband told me to open it because knowing we couldn’t return it would be a BIG motivator to keep on nursing, no matter what!

3. Don’t buy ANY formula: Keep your house formula free. Throw out (or sell!) those samples you get in the mail. Turn down offers from people who are getting rid of their left over cans. During times when you feel like throwing in the towel it will not be EASY to give up. It will require a trip to the store to buy the formula and by the time you actually go get it you will probably just decide to continue nursing. :)

4. Know that you CAN do it: I think most new moms, like myself, worry we won’t be able to breastfeed. It was my #1 fear when I became a mom for the first time. My husband actually asked during our breastfeeding basics class at the hospital about how many women really cannot breastfeed at all. The lactation specialist said that with the right attitude and motivation, pretty much everyone CAN do it!

5. Share your goals: Husband support is SO critical. Without Zach being there, helping me, supporting me, encouraging me, and even giving me some “tough love” in the early days of breastfeeding, I truly do not think I would have been successful with it. As mothers we tend to have our first concern be for our children. Our husbands tend to have their first concerns be about US. So when we struggle with nursing and feel like giving in, they just naturally want to help us and make our lives easier. They can’t understand what we are going through with nursing and many husbands will suggest quitting because they think it’s what will be best for us. Share your goals with your husband. He needs to be your biggest cheerleader!!!

6. Know it WILL be hard: I personally believe the #1 reason so many women don’t try or stop nursing early on is because we feel like we are failing when it is harder than we expect it to be. The media tends to paint this pretty picture of nursing…it’s supposed to come “naturally” and it should never hurt, etc. As a new mom everything is scary. You’re thrown into this entirely new situation and have a little life depending on YOU. When nursing does hurt, or it doesn’t come naturally, we freak out. We automatically feel like we are failing at our most important job as a parent, feeding our baby! We take it personally, like something is wrong with US and then we end up quitting because it gives us one less thing to worry about. I know because I’ve been there. I couldn’t for the life of me get my baby to latch properly. It hurt. I bled. I cried and cried during feedings for awhile. I’ve had mastitis, three times. I kept going through it all and guess what? The hard phase passes. It gets EASIER. Not just that, but it gets ENJOYABLE. There is nothing better than nursing a sweet baby and sharing that close bond together! I truly believe if new moms went into the nursing experience being prepared for it to be a little difficult and knowing that there will be struggles that more moms would tough it out. Just always, always remind yourself that the hard days will be over soon and that it is going to be worth it!!!

7. Have a goal, but take it one feeding at a time: With my son, my goal was to nurse him for three months. Once I got there, my goal became six months. Once I got there, my goal became nine months. With my daughter, my goal was a year and I went beyond that as well. I think having a long-term goal is great! However, it can also make you feel exhausted. On those tough days it can feel discouraging to think “omg, I have another year of this?” During those times it’s so important to just take it one feeding at a time. Get through that feeding and then have the goal of getting through the next. I had a close friend of mine who felt discouraged and frustrated with nursing but she kept going one feeding at a time and nursed much longer than when she initially wanted to stop. Every little drop of breast milk is SO good for your baby so even “one more feeding” is better than quitting!

While I am no breastfeeding expert by any means, I know that my personal success with nursing had more to do with my MIND than with my BODY. I truly believe that if moms who want to nurse go into it with these things on their mind, then they WILL be successful in it! Whether your goal is a week, a month, or a year, you CAN do it and you will be so thankful you did! :)


Editor’s Note: Maureen here! Thanks for the wonderful post, Emily! I feel compelled to interject with a bit of my own personal breastfeeding experience — primarily to dispel a myth surrounding breastfeeding. Emily mentions a lactation specialist who told her that everyone can breastfeed. Well, I’m living proof that this is not true. When I was pregnant, I never considered anything but breastfeeding, and I went through all the trials and tribulations to get my son to latch properly and manage the pain and sensitivity of nursing. On top of that, we discovered his dairy intolerance at 6 weeks, and I spent 4 months off dairy so I could nurse my baby. Well, when he was about 3 months old and he didn’t have much baby chub, I realized that something wasn’t going according to plan. I saw a couple lactation consultants and was told that I was going to have to supplement with formula. Despite the colic and natural childbirth, this was one of the most painful days for me as a new mom.

So just know that if you aren’t able to breastfeed, you are not a failure. I agree with Emily that we should do all we can to successfully breastfeed. But if you can’t, it’s not the end of the world. Formula is not poison. You can love, care for, bond with, and nourish your baby in so many other ways. And here’s my little secret: I always felt closer to my babies when I was feeding them a bottle. I loved when they would look up, with both of their eyes, into my eyes while they ate. That right there made all the struggles so worth it.

Help a Reader Out: Blanket Time

Thanks everyone for all your help with the comment I posted on Monday! Here’s another comment from a reader that I’m hoping you can help out with. This time, it’s about blanket time. Please reply with any advice you might have for this reader. The original comment is this:

I’ve been working on blanket time with my 22 month old for about 2 months now. We are up to 15 mins. She has specific toys she gets only during this time each morning. She does test me and try to get off the blanket and see if I correct her which I do and she obeys. But now she won’t play and focus on her toys. Do you think it’s a phase? She just lays there until the timer goes off. I do stay near to enforce the boundaries. Right now I give her 2 puzzles, blocks, and a sorting activity. She just isn’t enjoying it. Am I doing something wrong? Thanks.

My first thought is to say that this mom isn’t doing anything wrong. There’s no requirement with blanket time that our kids actually enjoy the time. Yes, it’s preferable if they do, but if they don’t, that’s okay. As long as she’s staying on the blanket until the timer goes off, that’s all we need to require. If I were the parent, I might switch out the toys to see if she is simply bored with the toys available to her. I wouldn’t stick with the same toys week after week if the child shows no interest in them. But all in all, if she’s staying on the blanket for the most part, I’d consider it a success! Just keep doing it and add a few minutes bit by bit until you get up to 30-45 minutes.

Does anybody have advice for this reader? It would be great to hear your experiences with blanket time.

Help a Reader Out: Naps

It’s Spring Break time here at my house, and as we head out of town, I thought I would use the opportunity to address some of my readers’ comments. I’m painfully behind in replying to comments. So if you’ve asked a question, pay attention this week to see if other readers have ideas for you. Everyone else, please take a minute to leave a comment and let me and the commenter know what you think about the question.

Today, we’re helping a reader out with naps. This comment was posted on my post about Moving to One Nap a Day. I still have a napper in my house. Lucas is 5.5 and still does so much better when he’s had a nap. But nonetheless, it’s been a long time since I’ve had to deal with the nap transition.

Here’s the question. Please reply if you can help!

“Hi! My LO is almost a year. Will be a year in a week. She does a great first nap usually 10:30ish-12ish. But lately her second nap is all over the place, sometimes 3-4:30, or 3:30-5, or up and not napping at all. Or putting her down at 3/3:30 and she plays and is up, then finally going down at 4:30 then naps late. She may be teething though, but her first nap is always good. So I can’t figure out if it is teething or if she is needing just one nap? So looking for some advice. :)”

We all know what it’s like to have to troubleshoot nap problems. Teething can definitely get in the way, but we don’t always want to blame nap issues on teething, especially if one nap is working fine. I suppose my question is why the second nap starts at different times. I wonder if keeping consistent nap times would improve consistency with the second nap. Does anybody have any ideas?


Babywise Week: Putting Baby First during the First Year

It’s Babywise Blog Network Week again! All week, we’ll be featuring blog posts from other Babywise-friendly blogs. The schedule is as follows:

· Monday: Valerie Plowman, Chronicles of a Babywise Mom
· Tuesday: Maureen Monfore, Childwise Chat
· Wednesday: Bethany Lynch, The Graceful Mom
· Thursday: Emily Parker, Journey of Parenthood
· Friday: Surprise guest blogger

Today we hear from Emily Parker, author of Journey of ParenthoodEmily offers a wonderful post about family priorities during baby’s first year. As Babywise moms, we often have different priorities than other moms. We make sure we’re home for naps and stick to our schedules. It’s also about sacrifice because we know how important it is to have our babies on a schedule.

For you new moms I think it’s good to be warned: the first year is NOT easy. But by putting in the work now and making the sacrifices needed during that first year, it WILL make the second year (and third…and fourth…) such a joy! Hard work pays off and it pays off in a BIG WAY! Do not be discouraged. Do not feel guilt at the sacrifices your older children are having to make. Do not worry about your husband not getting as much quality time with you. This season of life is short. And by putting the needs of your baby first, your entire family will be greatly blessed!!!

This is my favorite quote from Emily’s post. She’s so right!