{Life as Auntie} A Night Babysitting Miss Olivia

If my sister had her way, she would be with her daughter 24/7 but she also knows the importance of finding a way to catch a break. As of late, my sister has had appointments and since I am the only one my niece knows beyond her parents; the babysitting is in my hands. I do not mind one bit.

Babysitting my Niece was a blast

I absolutely love my niece and since my “baby” is now five years old, I welcome any chance to take my niece for a few hours or even overnight. This particular evening we babysat Miss Olivia for about four hours. Sadly, Olivia had been woken up by accident when brought into the home and so in the above pictures she is still a bit uncertain of being away from her Mommy and Daddy. One thing about Olivia, that also calms my sister, is that Olivia calms quickly for me and seems to feel safe as well as secure in her Auntie’s arms while Auntie sings her a lullaby or two.

Cousins Playing Nicely

I was a little concerned having Olivia here during bedtime hours for a couple of reasons; I wasn’t sure if she would get comfortable with my fiance again or my daughter so that I could do the normal bedtime routine for my sons or not. I also was concerned about my “baby” because K-man really doesn’t like his Mama paying any attention to another baby. What I got was a lucky surprise! My son played with his baby girl cousin, gave her toys and even showed her around his bedroom. To boot, he fed her dinner at dinner time too. K-man was so proud of himself and had fun talking to Olivia and singing her a song while playing his ukelele, it was simply adorable!

Cousins Olivia and K-man

The four hours or so that Olivia was here made our evening so wonderful! The night ended with Miss Olivia giggling and babbling at Jenny the Pug. I just adore this baby girl and was thankful that my sister knows me and trusts me enough to let go and allow this time for her daughter to gain a relationship with her Auntie and Cousins. I thank my sister for allowing me and trusting me to care for her child while she attended her meeting.

StrongMoms® Empower <– Isn’t that The Truth! #StrongMomsEmpower

Being a parent is difficult but when you make certain decisions it can get more difficult, you see your elders and peers may feel they know best and wish to push that advice onto you as Gold rather than their opinion that can be politely declined. I have had my own Mom moments where I just felt as if I wasn’t good enough, my choices being made were not the right ones, heck I have questioned myself from time to time without listening to others who feel they know best.

When trying to think of an example, all I can think of is that time when my middle child was a baby at eight weeks old and I had to switch to formula. Having breastfed my first born for about 9 months, due to her weaning off on her own, I felt like such a horrible failure for not being able to keep up with nursing my hungry baby boy. Around 8 weeks of age I gave my son formula instead of breastfeeding or pumping and feeding him breast milk, I just couldn’t handle breastfeeding this constantly hungry baby boy. Without naming names, I was judge by this one person who often had pushed me to be a breastfeeding Mom, I felt pressured to continue breast feeding even though it just simply wasn’t the right fit for my baby at that time, he went on to have 16 oz of formula each night just to get to sleep. I couldn’t keep up with breast milk for that kind of hunger.

Take the StrongMoms Empowerment Pledge

There are times even now when I open dialogue about alochol, drugs and even sex with my kids that people are just shocked that I even discuss such subjects with my oldest. I would rather my kids hear about these things from me than their peers, I want my kids comfortable with me, not the outsiders that may not educate them properly on these life changing topics. I think some people forget that we are all doing our best as parents and really that’s all that matters – that each parent takes care of their kids in the best way they know how.

I read a post about Dear Mom on the iPhone and in all reality I have been that Mom. The one who had been too busy trying to get work done to support the kids and the one who just got so occupied with being on top of work that I forgot the main reason I chose to work from home …. to be with my kids more. It takes practice and so I can feel for that Mom on the iPhone, I have been here without the iPhone {just a regular ole smartphone}. The one who forgot that kids just grow so quickly and that eventually if you keep walking that path of unknowingly putting your kids second best, that one day they won’t call Mommy anymore. Kids who grow up like that will eventually turn to someone else for advice & attention. The sad part is it will probably be their peers who shouldn’t be the ones advising them of certain topics. I have compassion for that iPhone Mom, because I can see how easy it is to forget your inner Mommy, but the good news is that each day is a new one and if you realized today that you didn’t spend enough time paying positive attention to your kids, then tomorrow you can have another chance. Or, better yet, put that iPhone down now and realize whatever is on that phone can wait, your kids must come first before you blink and they are adults.

Sibling Love

As part of partaking in this campaign I am to write my own StrongMoms Empowerment manifesto, while there is one that is superb I think I can get my own based on my unique personality and that is found below … what would you include in your StrongMoms Empowerment manifesto and will you go over and take the StrongMoms Empowerment Pledge as I did?

Brandy Ellen StrongMoms Manifesto

I am participating in a blog campaign with One2One Network. I have not received any payment. All opinions are my own.

Sometimes Wednesday Late Afternoons Suck

Now I am a positive person and I have semi-thick skin when it comes to my kids and the things they do or say, however, on Wednesday when my four year old spends the morning with his Dad then goes to pre-k in the afternoons, I sometimes schedule work and meetings as it’s the only full day I get each week to put forth towards work.

Working from home takes a lot of motivation, dedication and you have to give n take. That means, as much as I would love to be there when the K-man is dropped off to pre-K sometimes on Wednesdays I can’t be. Work has to be a priority as much as motherhood in my world. Therefore, Wednesdays sometimes suck and K-man is great at making it suck a tiny bit more.

When I go to the school on Wednesdays or any other day that K-man is having a rough time with whatever may be going on inside of his head, he takes it out on me and his siblings. So when I went to school to grab the K-man today after missing him all day long, he cops an attitude. Gets out of the school. Throws backpack at me. Takes off coat and proceeds to refuse to put coat back on. Whines. Yells. Kicks. Hits. Just totally not himself and appears to be an awfully ill behaved kid.

Then as I am trying to get him to walk to the car, throws himself on ground says he can’t walk and refuses to walk, has to be carried to the car screaming and kicking, all the while I am sure many people were starting at my child making a scene. The kid screamed, kicked and fought some more over getting into the car and buckling up. Before I even left the school road, I was near tears. I felt the tears coming. Welling up in my eyes and I just simply refused to let them take over my eyes.

I just wanted to cry, and be sad, but instead, I decided to talk to K-man and figure out what the heck his issue was. I know my kid and I knew he was mad about something, it was just a matter of deciphering a four year old’s mind. The route of his issue seems to stem from 1) he says Daddy didn’t play with him today and 2) he was sad he didn’t get to hug me before school. Meaning he was sad that he didn’t get enough attention {in his opinion} and that Mama wasn’t there for pre-k drop off to hug him.

Now, I am faced with a tough decision. Do I give up that Wednesday full day of working to take the half hour to go down and make sure I am there for drop off, thus interrupting any lunch plans I may have for continued client work or do I just make him understand Mommy needs to work and as much as I wanted to be there to hug him, sometimes I can not be, which is why I give him a great big bear hug in the morning when I drop him to Daddy’s.

I am torn, why? Because he is my “baby” and of course he knows this. I explained why I wasn’t there, and had told him I wouldn’t be when I dropped him at his Dads but he is four and apparently wants what he wants. Guess that’s normal…. how would you all handle this?

Walking Down Memory Lane with my Daughter

There is a new thing I have been doing with my daughter to help us have more mom/daughter time and that is each night not only do I continue with our normal bedtime routine we have that involves stories out of one of our Chicken Soup for the Soul books, bedtime kisses and a song sung to her, but now she gets 10-15 minutes of unlimited ramble/talk time.

Having three kids, two of which being young boys that require a lot of my attention can make my oldest and only daughter feel as if she doesn’t ever get time with her Mom. This causes her to be sad and feel really left out of the loop and probably even feel as if I don’t care about her as much as I do her brothers. That is simply untrue, so I thought to myself one day “how can I make time for my daughter without creating a later bedtime or messing up the rest of the routine with the family life?”.

Then it dawned on me, she loves to talk as much as I do and I have noticed at her age of almost 10 simply having my full attention to ramble on and on is all that she really wants and needs. I decided to give her 10-15 minutes each night after our story time to have unlimited ramble time. I listen, she talks and we laugh and have a good old time just connecting as mother and daughter.

The other night, for her 10-15 minute ramble time, my daughter decided that she wanted me to review her scrapbook I started when she was a baby but haven’t touched since she was in Kindergarten. It was so much fun walking down memory lane with her, I was reminded of various things she had done that I didn’t even remember. Apparently she wasn’t quite the little angel child that I thought she was and did some things her brothers have done. Whereas I have always remembered her being so easy going and never doing any wrong as a little one.

I should have known better, all kids test limits at any age so why did I not think my daughter had done such things? One particular memory we ran into was a part where I wrote when she was three years old she called her Dad up and said “I am not listening to Mommy”, her Dad replied “you need to listen to your Mom” and Miss three year old Kiara replied “I don’t know how to”.

That one memory cracked us up and we were laughing about it forever. I loved walking down memory lane with my daughter; we smiled, we laughed and at one point even had tears in our eyes over the beloved memories of a mother writing about her first born child.

 

Mommy Workout Tips

Being a mother is one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever been fortunate enough to have. Watching my son grow and blossom every day, teaching him how to be a man, and seeing pieces of myself emerge in his personality fills me with an indescribable joy, and satisfaction unlike anything I ever could have imagined prior to his birth.

However, there are days when I yearn for the more carefree days of my youth, when I had unfettered freedom to do what I wanted, when I wanted. As a personal trainer, I have always valued the importance of a healthy, active lifestyle, but some days, I’m lucky to get a few stretches in before my day begins. From the time I wake up to the time I crawl into bed, my day is full of work- and family-related responsibilities, leaving little – if any – time for myself.

However, I am starting to figure out tricks to making time for myself. As a single parent, this is especially important, as I need to maintain my health and wellbeing in order to be a better parent to my son. Here are some tricks I have learned for sneaking in fitness:

  • Keep a pair of hand weights easily accessible, and do reps when sitting at your computer, watching television, etc. There are also many simple exercises you can do anytime, anywhere.
  • Buy home gym equipment or exercise videos. You can often find coupons that will make this an affordable option.
  • Find a Mommy and Me exercise class or workout video. This will keep you in shape and teach your child the importance of fitness.
  • Go for walks with your child. This will benefit you both immensely, and create lasting memories.
  • Roughhouse with your child. Studies have shown that roughhousing with your children is beneficial to them, and anything that gets your heart pumping and your muscles moving is beneficial to you, as well.
  • When running errands, park at the back of the lot and walk, and take the stairs whenever possible. If your child’s legs become tired, offer to carry them for a boost to your workout.
  • Crank the music and dance! This will provide a good cardiovascular workout and improve your child’s coordination at the same time.

Being a parent doesn’t have to be a serious or difficult affair. Too many people overthink things and worry too much. If you focus on setting a positive example for your child, you will be able to maintain your autonomy while still being an effective parent, and your children will flourish as a result of your efforts. Making fitness a priority will lower your stress levels, and teach your child to care for their own health, as well, which is one of the most important things you can do for them.

This article is a guest post: Nan Gibbons is a licensed personal trainer and nutritionist who owns her own fitness and training company in San Diego. The proud single mother of her three year old son Reid, she understands both the joy and chaos that come with parenting! Check out her blog at: http://www.eatbreatheblog.com or follow her on Twitter: @healthnut2011

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