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Toddler temper tantrums: How I learned to stay stress free

Picture the scene, it’s a beautiful day, you’re at your favourite restaurant about to sit down to a fabulous Sunday lunch, when suddenly all hell breaks loose.

How many times have your meals out been ruined by a toddler tantrum?

I had my first experience of the ‘terrible twos’ one beautiful Sunday afternoon. We had attended our favourite family restaurant for Sunday lunch. My daughter, Tilly, was sitting between us in her high chair. The menu looked mouth-watering and everything was dandy. Then suddenly the crystal clear wine glasses began to vibrate over the crisp white table linen and knives and forks started to shake. At first I thought it was an earthquake. But it was far worst. Tilly was having a tantrum.


[Related: 
How I help my two year old get over shyness]

With her tiny little feet she kicked the table from underneath. She then tried to break free from her chair. Then came the screaming, causing all eyes to turn on us. “I want daddy” she screamed. Thinking this would calm her, I took her out of the chair and handed her to daddy. The wailing stopped for exactly six seconds before she once again tried to break free. “I want to get down,” she wailed. Threats like “If you don’t behave we’re going home” fell on deaf ears. By now the tantrum was in full swing.

We were attracting more attention than Joan Collins. I couldn’t understand it. She wasn’t even two. It wasn’t fair. I felt cheated. My daughter was only 22 months. Had she begun the terrible twos early, like some kind of early menopause syndrome?

A bemused waiter came to take our order. “What would you like?” he asked. “Just our coats,” I replied. Yes, it was time to leave.

We suffered the terrible twos for quite some time. My daughter did not mind where she had a tantrum. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to it.

Rather than let it spoil our time, I thought up different ways to deal with the situation so that when a tantrum struck, I was armed and ready. I even gave it a name: ‘Tantrum Tamer’. It worked most of the time, which was definitely better than none of the time. More importantly – it got us through. Here’s how I coped.


[Related: 
How to switch off the waterworks]

Whenever a tantrum struck I would go through a series of five stages with my daughter:

Physical contact and understand helps with toddler tantrums

1. Even if my daughter was screaming at the top of her voice and showing no signs of listening, I would get down to her level so we were face to face. I would explain in a low calm voice that I understood that she was feeling upset. I would then say that if we both took a deep breath together we would start to feel better.

2. I soon discovered that if I made things more child friendly and more like a game, I got better results. Hence the name ‘Tantrum Tamer’. I would say to my daughter, “Shall we try the Tantrum Tamer?” This consisted of a series of actions, starting with a hug. For me this was twofold. If she was totally running wild I could restrain her. Secondly, children quite often respond to touch.

Next we would breathe deeply. I would ask my daughter to take a deep breath in and then blow out with puffy cheek at least twice. It usually calmed me down, too. I would then tell my daughter the lovely warm feeling in her tummy was the Tantrum Tamer working. It would take a little time but would definitely work faster if sheHow to amuse toddlers in the car sat quietly.


[Related: ]

3. I would not only talk calmly to my daughter, but physically look and act calm so that she could see The Tamer was beginning to work. I would smile widely, and say things like “I feel so happy” or “I’m ready for a nice nap”. Anything my daughter would respond to.

4. If all of the above failed, I felt it was time for more drastic measures such as taking away a treat. I would say that she would not be able to go to the park until she was better behaved. If you decide to try this, you need to use your judgement on what penalty will work best for you and your child at that moment. The thing to remember is that this is the last warning.

5. Stick to your guns. If things are not better at this stage then you must carry out the penalty. Don’t be hoodwinked into giving another chance because this will only come back to bite you next time.

For me the terrible twos were a huge learning curve. Although I feel grateful for the experience, I have to admit that now that it’s over, I can breathe a sigh of relief – at least until the teenage years!

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mothersday5 don

Poems for the deepest feelings on Mothers day. Read these poems for your own enjoyment, or use them to create special greetings for mothers. Tip: Copy a poem and then paste in a

 mother’s day card 


I Still Miss Her

It seems like only yesterday
I sent a Mother’s Day card away.
I didn’t think it would be the last,
I signed it with love and mailed it fast.
Now that she has gone away,
It doesn’t feel like Mother’s Day.
There are no more chances to send a card,
To ship some flowers, to make a call.
There’s no more thanking her for all she’s done.
No more visits,
No more fun.
I cannot hug her or kiss her cheek.
I cannot even share a laugh.
It all too quickly became the past.
I took each visit with her for granted.
I thought there’d always be more to come.
The camera lies still now
From her use and mine.
All the pictures have been taken,
All the memories have been made.
All the words have been spoken,
All the letters have been mailed.
The thing I miss the most of all
Has got to be her voice
Whether on the telephone or talking face to face.
I’d wish for one more conversation either here or at her place.
I know I’ll see her again some day,
We’ll share the sights of heaven.
We’ll talk, we’ll laugh, we’ll hug,
We’ll kiss….it’ll be Mother’s Day once more.
But until then I’ll be a mom for Mother’s Day instead of
Being a daughter.

by Pam Shattuck



To A Gift on Mother’s Day

Through my eyes I see
A sanctum,
Where there are leaves to lead the way;
There the grass needs never cutting
And stays groomed everyday.

Through my eyes I see
A sanctum
That no one can take away.
And through my eyes I see a place
Where all the kids can play.

Through my eyes I see
A sanctum
Where all the days are years;
The mommies there will never age,
Nor will they cry a tear.

I think I’ll call this Mom’s Land,
For beyond its flowered wall,
The beauty matches only a mother’s

And that is the most beautiful of all.

by Kyle Mitchell.

 



Mother

A Mother’s love, is sure to find
A way to comfort, ease your mind 

She knows just how, to build you up
When you’re so down, and can’t look up 

You love the way, she makes you feel
Like you’re so special, her ideal 

Her thought must start, with God above
To bring such caring, with such love 

And as it flows, like gentle rain
It surely helps, when troubles pain 

The love from mine, is oh so clear
I only wish, she was still here 

Her warming glow, is missed each day
Even though, I seldom say 

But she did leave, her gift behind
To help me through, when I may pine 

And that’s the feel, known deep inside
Her faith and love, I still confide

by Roger J. Robicheau

 



GOLD STAR MOTHERS

Started with a group of twenty-five
In the year of twenty-eight
By those who lost a Son or Daughter
From the wartime’s cruel fate.

When the Blue Star on the Service Flag
Was replaced with one of Gold
Everybody knew a Mother grieved
With a loss from that household.

Out of tragedy, we were formed
And, Out of love we continue.
This legacy of Gold Star Mothers
With the heartache, that they knew.

Its so sad, they still exist
And most likely always will
As long as, we go to war
There’s a need they must fulfill.

Submitted By: Del “Abe” Jones

 



MILITARY MOMS

This year on Mother’s Day
We should think of offspring lost
And Mothers of all those Troops
Who paid the ultimate cost.

They’ve watched Sons and Daughters
Sent off to a foreign land
To fight wars and give their all
In some conflicts so ill planned.

But no matter what the reasons
They’ve always stepped up to the line
To give their lives for Freedoms
Enjoyed by all of yours and mine.

We must Honor all those Mothers
Of all those who have Served
And Sacrifices that they made
With our, “Thanks!”, so well deserved.

It takes a very Special Lady
To let Her Child go off to War
Or just to join the Military
With the pride and fear and more.

There’s too many Gold Star Mothers
And if you might know of one
Please send Her a special wish
To praise Her Daughter or Son.

Military Moms are the Greatest
With a strength beyond compare
Who hope and pray their loved one
Comes Home safe, from over there.

So, let’s keep them in our thoughts
And hope their prayers come true
All those Moms and all those Troops
Who stand Strong and Proud, and True.

Submitted By: Del “Abe” Jones

 



FOR MOMS

She was there at the beginning
When the world was new to you –
She was there to turn to happy times
Those when, you were hurt or blue.

She was there to listen to your thoughts
And when you asked, to give advice –
She was there to tell you, “Those don’t match!”
Or, “Hon, you sure look nice.”

She was there with you at nighttime
To help you say your prayers _
She was there to tell you, “It’s alright.”
When you had a dream that scares.

She was there at morning time
To get you up and out of bed –
She was there when you didn’t feel good (or did)
To say, “You’d best stay home, instead.”

She was there when you were hungry
And when you had those dirty clothes –
She was there when you needed her
(How she knew? Only heaven knows.)

She was there at the beginning
And she’ll be there your whole life through –
She’ll be there in your mind and heart
Just like a mother is supposed to do.

Submitted By: Del “Abe” Jones

 



MY ROCK
(Mom)

Sometimes I catch myself
Thinking, “When I phone,
I can talk of this or that!”
Then remember, I’m alone.

She was always there
To answer my calls –
To listen to my “small talk”
Or when I climbed the walls.

At times, I didn’t feel like talking
And somehow, she understood –
Didn’t say she wished I’d call
Or make me feel like I should.

Now, I wish I would have
More times, to show I cared –
To say, just how important
Were, all those times we shared.

I could have shown my love
So much more than I did –
I never, did it enough
Even when I was a kid.

Now it’s too late to do or say
All those things I wish I had –
No way to ease the pain inside
When my heart is sad.

She was my “anchor” to this life –
The “rock”, that I clung to –
The place, where I could turn
When, nowhere else would do.

Now, the ravages of time
Have worn my “rock” away –
And all I have to cling to
Are memories of yesterday

Submitted By: Del “Abe” Jones

 



IN PASSING

Sometimes Mom in passing
Would pat you on the back
And sometimes in passing
She’d show you the right track.

Sometimes Mom in passing
Would say, “You sure look nice!”
And sometimes in passing
She could, make you, think twice.

Sometimes Mom in passing
Would lightly touch your hair
And sometimes in passing
She’d show you what was fair.

Sometimes Mom in passing
Would ask, “What do you mean?”
And sometimes in passing
She would get in between.

Sometimes Mom in passing
Would give you, “that look”
And sometimes in passing
Would give you what it took.

But this time, Mom is passing
From this world to the best
And this time in passing
She’ll pass the final test.

And when Mom has passed
And the pain is so unkind
Just look and you’ll find her
There in your heart and mind.

Submitted By: Del “Abe” Jones

 



A Mothers Love

To some love is just a word
To me it’s a feeling
A feeling I get every time I look into your eyes
A feeling I get when I realize your my mom
A mom who loves, shares, A mom who inspires
Unconditionally
What’s that?
That’s love
A mothers love, but only you would know
And me
You returned that love time and time again
Possibly to much, nevertheless you did
Thank-you
Thank-you for being there when I needed you most
For being my rock when I should have been yours
Thank-you for believing in me, even when I doubted myself
For being the one person I could trust
No matter what, no matter where
But most of all thank-you for being you-my mom
A mom I am so proud to claim
I love you
Now and forever

Submitted by Trevor Duggan

 



No Love like a Mother’s Love

There is no love, like a mother’s love,
no stronger bond on earth…
like the precious bond that comes from God,
to a mother, when she gives birth.

A mother’s love is forever strong,
never changing for all time…
and when her children need her most,
a mother’s love will shine.

God bless these special mothers,
God bless them every one…
for all the tears and heartache,
and for the special work they’ve done.

When her days on earth are over,
a mother’s love lives on…
through many generations,
with God’s blessings on each one.

Be thankful for our mothers,
for they love with a higher love…
from the power God has given,
and the strength from up above.

by Jill Lemming


Before the child is born

A mother’s love begins
Before the child is born
And lasts through time
And difficulties
And differences
And many wounds
And days of joy
And days of sorrow
Winding, wearing
Weeping, sharing
Changing
Until, at the end
What remains
Is that solid core
That began as love
Before the child was born.

Submitted by Ruth Greer.

 



STILL IN THE HEART

I have this Lady friend
Whose Mother passed away
Moving to a better place
And, a peaceful day.

I know about the pain
That, she is going through
Because the loss of “Mom”
Is the saddest, that is true.

Sometimes, it is a blessing
When their “life” is in decline
Not, what it used to be
When, “everything” worked fine.

But still, it hurts so much
When Mother goes away
When you know you won’t see Her
For, forever and a day.

But the memories will be there
And will help, to get you through
When, you’re thinking of Mom
And, feeling kind of blue.

SENT WITH LOVE TO YOU MUM XXXXXX

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catsxxxxxxxxxxx

It’s raining in my bedroom.
It’s been this way all week.
I think the upstairs neighbor’s plumbing
might have sprung a leak.
They may be on vacation.
They must be out of town.
And, all the while, my bedroom rain
continues pouring down.
My shoes have gotten soggy.
My bed is growing mold.
A pond is forming on my floor.
It’s all so wet and cold,
that frogs have started spawning.
An otter wandered through
with salmon splashing upstream,
and some guy in a canoe.
Now waves are growing larger.
The weather’s turning grim.
A tide is rising rapidly.
I’m glad that I can swim.
My parents called the plumber.
He’s nowhere to be seen.
Does anybody know where I
can buy a submarine?

–Kenn Nesbitt

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I once had a teacher who was out for a day and her sister came to sub…needless to say she looked exactly like our teacher and no one noticed the difference…that is until she spent 7 whole minutes telling us.

 

Can’t You Tell Us Apart

© Carconti Etva
To be a twin is an experience I’ll say
being mistaken for another all day
Are you Gabby or Abby
Tori or Tray
sometimes I wonder why we are this way
I’d like to be one of a kind
and not mistaken for Madeline
some people I know are simply just toying
but some times it’s just really annoying
I mean come on how dim can you be
can you really not tell she’s different from me
sometimes I’m depressed at the end of the day
from everyone thinking I’m my sister, Anna May
But I’m grateful for my twin
And so I grin
As someone mistakes me for my brother, Ben

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TWINS POEMS

The closeness that twins experience is unique. Growing up in the same family, and the same age, they are in a unique position to share perspectives on life. On the other hand, many twins experience a need for space. They may find their close relationship to be stifling. Depending on their personalities they may be the best of friends or worst of enemies. Their closeness having the potential to both bring them together or separate them as far as possible from each other.

Twin Poems

Special Gift

© John W. Lilly
Once upon a time mommy and I,
wished upon a distant star,
We didn’t know if we’d get our wish,
the chances seemed rather far.

We asked God for a little girl,
To cuddle and hold tight,
To love and squeeze and give
a gentle kiss goodnight.

Well, God was listening and the answer
came straight from the blue.
Not only did we get one little angel,
He saw fit to give

 

I’m a twin. We are identical . We’re both girls .

Being A Twin

© Toi
Growing up together
Having the same birthday
Arguing, fighting
all the time
People getting us mixed up
Confusion, exhausting
Sharing everything 
Making up
Inseparable like two peas 
in a pod
Living and laughing the
world up in sync

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where_do_babies_come_from_by_hotamr-d4m0a0y

Where did you come from, baby dear?
Out of the everywhere into here.

Where did you get your eyes so blue?
Out of the sky as I came through.

What makes the light in them sparkle and spin?
Some of the starry spikes left in.

Where did you get that little tear?
I found it waiting when I got here.

What makes your forehead so smooth and high?
A soft hand stroked it as I went by.

What makes your cheek like a warm white rose?
I saw something better than anyone knows.

Whence that three-cornered smile of bliss?
Three angels gave me at once a kiss.

Where did you get this pearly ear?
God spoke, and it came out to hear.

Where did you get those arms and hands?
Love made itself into hooks and bands.

Feet, whence did you come, you darling things?
From the same box as the cherubs’ wings.

How did they all just come to be you?
God thought about me, and so I grew.

But how did you come to us, you dear?
God thought about you, and so I am here

~George MacDonald

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Bonding1

Bonding–What it Means

Bonding–the term for the close emotional tie that develops between parents and baby at birth–was the buzzword of the 1980’s. Doctors Marshall H. Klaus and John H. Kennell explored the concept of bonding in their classic book Maternal-Infant Bonding. These researchers speculated that for humans, just as for other types of animals, there is a “sensitive period” at birth when mothers and newborns are uniquely programmed to be in contact with each other and do good things to each other. By comparing mother-infant pairs who bonded immediately after birth with those who didn’t, they concluded that the early-contact mother-infant pairs later developed a closer attachment.

Bonding is really a continuation of the relationship that began during pregnancy. The physical and chemical changes that were occurring in your body reminded you of the presence of this person. Birth cements this bond and gives it reality. Now you can see, feel, and talk to the little person whom you knew only as the “bulge” or from the movements and the heartbeat you heard through medical instruments. Bonding allows you to transfer your life-giving love for the infant inside to caregiving love on the outside. Inside, you gave your blood; outside, you give your milk, eyes, hands, and voice–your entire self.

Bonding brings mothers and newborns back together. Bonding studies provided the catalyst for family-oriented birthing policies in hospitals. It brought babies out of nurseries to room-in with their mothers. Bonding research reaffirmed the importance of the mother as the newborn’s primary caregiver.

Bonding is not a now-or-never phenomenon. Bonding during this biologically sensitive period gives the parent-infant relationship a head start. However, immediate bonding after birth is not like instant glue that cements a parent-child relationship forever. The overselling of bonding has caused needless guilt for mothers who, because of medical complication, were temporarily separated from their babies after birth. Epidemics of bonding blues have occurred in mothers who had cesarean births or who had premature babies in intensive care units.

What about the baby who for some reason, such as prematurity or cesarean birth, is temporarily separated form his mother after birth? Is the baby permanently affected by the loss of this early contact period? Catch-up bonding is certainly possible, especially in the resilient human species. The conception of bonding as an absolute critical period or a now-or-never relationship is not true. From birth through infancy and childhood there are many steps that lead to a strong mother-infant attachment. As soon as mothers and babies are reunited, creating a strong mother-infant connection by practicing the attachment style of parenting can compensate for the loss of this early opportunity. We have seen adopting parents who, upon first contact with their one-week-old newborn, express feeling as deep and caring as those of biological parents in the delivery room.

Father-Newborn Bonding

Most of the bonding research has focused on mother-infant bonding, with the father given only honorable mention. In recent years fathers, too, have been the subject of bonding research and have even merited a special term for the father-infant relationship at birth–“engrossment.” We used to talk about father involvement; now it’s father engrossment–meaning involvement to a higher degree. Engrossment is not only what the father does for the baby–holding and comforting– but also what the baby does for the father. Bonding with baby right after birth brings out sensitivity in dad.

Fathers are often portrayed as well meaning, but bumbling, when caring for newborns. Fathers are sometimes considered secondhand nurturers, nurturing the mother as she nurtures the baby. That’s only half the story. Fathers have their own unique way of relating to babies, and babies thrive on this difference.

In fact, studies on father bonding show that fathers who are given the opportunity and are encouraged to take an active part in caring for their newborns can become just as nurturing as mothers. A father’s nurturing responses may be less automatic and slower to unfold than a mother’s, but fathers are capable of a strong bonding attachment to their infants during the newborn period.

7 Tips For Better Bonding

1. Delay routine procedures. Oftentimes the attending nurse does routine procedures–giving the vitamin K shot and putting eye ointment in baby’s eyes–immediately after birth and then presents baby to mother for bonding. Ask the nurse to delay these procedures for an hour or so, allowing the family to enjoy this initial bonding period. The eye ointment temporarily blurs baby’s vision or causes her eyes to stay closed. She needs a clear first impression of you, and you need to see those eyes.

2. Stay connected. Ask your birth attendant and nurses to put baby on your abdomen and chest immediately after birth, or after cutting the cord and suctioning your baby, unless a medical complication requires temporary separation.

3. Let your baby breastfeed right after birth. Most babies are content simply to lick the nipple; others have a strong desire to suck at the breast immediately after birth. This nipple stimulation releases the hormone oxytocin, which increases the contractions of your uterus and lessens postpartum bleeding. Early sucking also stimulates the release of prolactin, the hormone that helps your mothering abilities click in right from the start.

4. Room in with your baby. Of course, bonding does not end at the delivery bed–it is just the beginning! Making visual, tactile, olfactory, auditory, and sucking connection with your baby right after birth may make you feel that you don’t want to release this little person that you’ve labored so hard to bring into the world, into the nursery–and you don’t have to. Your wombmate can now become your roommate. We advise healthy mothers and healthy babies to remain together throughout their hospital stay.

Who cares for your baby after delivery depends upon your health, your baby’s health, and your feelings. Some babies make a stable transition from the womb to the outside world without any complications; others need a few hours in the nursery for extra warmth, oxygen, suctioning, and other special attention until their vital systems stabilize.

Feelings after birth are as individual as feelings after lovemaking. Many mothers show the immediate glow of motherhood and the “birth high” excitement of a race finished and won. It’s love at first sight, and they can’t wait to get their hands on their baby and begin mothering within a millisecond after birth.

Others are relieved that the mammoth task of birth is over and that baby is normal. Now they are more interested in sleeping and recovering than bonding and mothering. As one mother said following a lengthy and arduous labor, “Let me sleep for a few hours, take a shower, comb my hair, and then I’ll start mothering.” If these are your feelings, enjoy your rest–you’ve earned it. There is no need to succumb to pressure bonding when neither your body nor mind is willing or able. In this case, father can bond with baby while mother rests. The important thing is somebody is bonding during this sensitive period of one to two hours of quiet alertness after birth. One of the saddest sights we see is a newly-born, one-hour-old baby parked all alone in the nursery, busily bonding (with wide-open, hungry eyes) with plastic sides of her bassinet. Give your baby a significant presence–mother, father, or even grandma in a pinch.

5. Touch your baby. Besides enjoying the stimulation your baby receives from the skin-to-skin contact of tummy-to-tummy and cheek-to-breast, gently stroke your baby, caressing his whole body. We have noticed that mothers and fathers often caress their babies differently. A new mother usually strokes her baby’s entire body with a gentle caress of her fingertips; the father, however, often places an entire hand on his baby’s head, as if symbolizing his commitment to protect the life he has fathered. Besides being enjoyable, stroking the skin is medically beneficial to the newborn. The skin, the largest organ in the human body, is very rich with nerve endings. At the time when baby is making the transition to air breathing, and the initial breathing patterns are very irregular, stroking stimulates the newborn to breathe more rhythmically–the therapeutic value of a parent’s touch.

6. Gaze at your newborn. Your newborn can see you best with an eye-to-eye distance of eight to ten inches (twenty to twenty-five centimeters)–amazingly, about the usual nipple-to-eye distance during breastfeeding. Place your baby in the face-to-face position, adjusting your head and your baby’s head in the same position so that your eyes meet. Enjoy this visual connection during the brief period of quiet alertness after birth, before baby falls into a deep sleep. Staring into your baby’s eyes may trigger a rush of beautiful mothering feelings.

7. Talk to your newborn. During the first hours and days after birth, a natural baby-talk dialogue will develop between mother and infant. Voice-analysis studies have shown a unique rhythm and comforting cadence to mother’s voice.

Rooming-In vs. Nursery Care

Rooming-in. This is the option we encourage most mothers and babies to enjoy. Full rooming-in allows you to exercise your mothering instincts when the hormones in your body are programmed for it. In our experience, and that of others who study newborns, mothers and babies who fully room-in enjoy the following benefits:

  • Rooming-in babies seem more content because they interact with only one primary caregiver–mother.
  • Full rooming-in changes the caregiving mindset of the attending personnel. They focus their attention and care on the mother, who is then more comfortable and able to focus on her baby.
  • Rooming-in newborns cry less and more readily organize their sleep-wake cycles. Babies in a large nursery are sometimes soothed by tape recordings of a human heartbeat or music. Rather than being soothed electronically, the baby who is rooming-in with mother is soothed by real and familiar sounds.
  • Mother has fewer breastfeeding problems. Her milk appears sooner, and baby seems more satisfied.
  • Rooming-in babies get less jaundiced, probably because they get more milk.
  • A rooming-in mother usually gets more rest. She experiences less separation anxiety, not wasting energy worrying about her newborn in the nursery, and in the first few days newborns sleep most of the time anyway. It’s a myth that mothers of nursery-reared babies get more rest.
  • Rooming-in mothers, in our experience, have a lower incidence of postpartum depression.

Rooming-in is especially helpful for women who have difficulty jumping right into mothering. One day while making rounds I visited Jan, a new mother, only to find her sad. “What’s wrong?” I inquired. She confided, “All those gushy feelings I’m supposed to have about my baby–well, I don’t. I’m nervous, tense, and don’t know what to do.” I encouraged Jan, “Love at first sight doesn’t happen to every couple, in courting or in parenting. For some mother-infant pairs it is a slow and gradual process. Don’t worry–your baby will help you, but you have to set the conditions that allow the mother-infant care system to click in.” I went on to explain what these conditions were.

All babies are born with a group of special qualities called attachment-promoting behaviors–features and behaviors designed to alert the caregiver to the baby’s presence and draw the caregiver, magnet-like, toward the baby. These features are the roundness of baby’s eyes, cheeks, and body; the softness of the skin; the relative bigness of baby’s eyes; the penetrating gaze; the incredible newborn scent; and, perhaps, most important of all, baby’s early language–the cries and precrying noises.

Here’s how the early mother-infant communication system works. The opening sounds of the baby’s cry activate a mother’s emotions. This is physical as well as psychological. Upon hearing her baby cry, a mother experiences an increased blood flow to her breasts, accompanied by the biological urge to pick up and nurse her baby. This is one of the strongest examples of how the biological signals of the baby trigger a biological response in the mother. There is no other signal in the world that sets off such intense responses in a mother as her baby’s cry. At no other time in the child’s life will language so forcefully stimulate the mother to act.

Picture what happens when babies and mothers room-in together. Baby begins to cry. Mother, because she is there and physically attuned to baby, immediately picks up and feeds her infant. Baby stops crying. When baby again awakens, squirms, grimaces, and then cries, mother responds in the same manner. The next time mother notices her baby’s precrying cues. When baby awakens, squirms, and grimaces, mother picks up and feeds baby before he has to cry. She has learned to read her baby’s signals and to respond appropriately. After rehearsing this dialogue many times during the hospital stay, mother and baby are working as a team. Baby learns to cue better; mother learns to respond better. As the attachment-promoting cries elicit a hormonal response in the mother, her milk-ejection reflex functions smoothly, and mother and infant are in biological harmony.

Now contrast this rooming-in scene with that of an infant cared for in the hospital nursery. Picture this newborn infant lying in a plastic box. He awakens, hungry, and cries along with twenty other hungry babies in plastic boxes who have by now all managed to awaken one another. A kind and caring nurse hears the cries and responds as soon as time permits, but she has no biological attachment to this baby, no inner programming tuned to that particular newborn, nor do her hormones change when the baby cries. The crying, hungry baby is taken to her mother in due time. The problem is that the baby’s cry has two phases: The early sounds of the cry have an attachment-promoting quality, whereas the later sounds of the unattended cry are more disturbing to listen to and may actually promote avoidance.

The mother who has missed the opening scene in this biological drama because she was not present when her baby started to cry is nonetheless expected to give a nurturing response to her baby some minutes later. By the time the nursery-reared baby is presented to the mother, the infant has either given up crying and gone back to sleep (withdrawal from pain) or greets the mother with even more intense and upsetting wails. The mother, who possesses a biological attachment to the baby, nevertheless hears only the cries that are more likely to elicit agitated concern rather than tenderness. Even though she has a comforting breast to offer the baby, she may be so tied up in knots that her milk won’t eject, and the baby cries even harder.

As she grows to doubt her ability to comfort her baby, the infant may wind up spending more time in the nursery, where, she feels, the “experts” can better care for him. This separation leads to more missed cues and breaks in the attachment between mother and baby, and they go home from the hospital without knowing each other.

Not so with the rooming-in baby. He awakens in his mother’s room, his pre-cry signals are promptly attended to, and he is put to the breast either before he needs to cry or at least before the initial attachment-promoting cry develops into a disturbing cry. Thus, both mother and baby profit from rooming-in. Infants cry less, mothers exhibit more mature coping skills toward their baby’s crying, and the infant-distress syndrome (fussiness, colic, incessant crying) is less common than with nursery-reared babies. We had a saying in the newborn unit: “Nursery-reared babies cry harder; rooming-in babies cry better.” A better term for “rooming-in” may be “fitting in.” By spending time together and rehearsing the cue-response dialogue, baby and mother learn to fit together well–and bring out the best in each other.

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Although I’ve admitted that there are some positives to being a single parent, it also comes with its obvious downsides. I feel like a lot of celebrity moms make it seem not-so-bad (I’m looking at you, but it definitely is not ideal.

I feel like I’ve found my footing as a single mom, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t hiccups and growing pains. Here are just 10 of the things I never thought about–or thought through–when I decided to separate from my daughter’s father:

1. Dating. Part of me genuinely believed I would never date again because I had a child. And what man wants a woman with a child? But there are guys out there who don’t automatically rule out dating single moms–for real! The problem, of course, is coordinating these dates. Finding a babysitter, sometimes at the absolute last minute isn’t always easy. Answering panicked phone calls from said babysitter during your date is even harder.

 2. Relationships. The complexities of getting into a relationship with someone other than your child’s father are the subject of a whole different blog post. Maybe even a book. But to sum things up, there is the question of when and how to explain the relationship to your kid; how much time your new boyfriend should spend around your child; balancing time with your boyfriend along with time with your child. It’s a never-ending juggling act and it is not easy. 

 3. Your relationship with the other parent. My ex and I initially separated on good terms, but that all went out the window when I (a) started dating something else and (b) took him to court for child support. We rarely speak now and when we do, I keep it as short as possible so that it won’t escalate. My daughter still obviously loves him very much, so having to lie to her about how “wonderful” he is is a real pain in my… 

4. Milestones. I was watching an episode of Glee and Idina Menzel’s character nailed this one on the head. She was explaining how it’s obviously hard to deal with a crying baby when there are dishes to wash, laundry to be done and no one to help. But it’s even harder, however, when your child takes his/her first steps, or says his/her first words and there is no one there to look over and celebrate with. Word. 

5. Stress. Feeling like your kid’s entire success in life rests solely on your shoulders is a quite a bit of pressure. Is she smart enough, will he get into that school, why can’t they stop sucking their thumbs? It helps to have someone who is equally invested in your kid talk you off the ledge when you feel like these little things signal total failure for your kid.

6. Alone time. Is basically non-existent. Fortunately, I really love spending time with my daughter and having her around me. But even so, there are times when I wish I just didn’t have to clean to the soundtrack of Yo Gabba Gabba in the background.

7. Money. Even millionaires complain about how expensive raising a child is, so the money factor affects all parents. But if, as single parent, you’re not receiving any financial help from the other parent, there’s even more of a strain.

8. Resentment. Full disclosure: I totally resent my daughter’s father for being able to hang out with his friends whenever, go on impromptu trips and buy whatever he wants because he isn’t responsible for the day-to-day care of our daughter. I would love to just go on vacay without tons of planning beforehand. That being said, I wouldn’t trade places with him in a heartbeat. He’s missed so much of her growing up–I just couldn’t live with myself if I wasn’t there for those firsts.

9. Guilt. When I see seemingly happy families with two parents strolling down the street when it’s just my daughter and me, I always feel self-conscious. My daughter deserves that, but I will never, under any circumstances, get back together with her dad. Because I’m so sure of that, I can’t help but feel really guilty.

10. Anger. When I put my daughter on time out, she’ll scream and cry at the top of her lungs, “I want my daddy.” It is literally like a knife through my heart. “If she only knew,” I think to myself. “At least I am here, trying to make you a better person. Where is he?”

Any other single moms feel my pain? What about married moms? Does being married and raising kids come with its own challenges? Share your opinion in the comments.

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Sleeping

Be on your way to sleep-filled nights with these pointers compiled from doctors, sleep experts, and researchers at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD.

1. Avoid feeding your child big meals close to bedtime, and don’t give her anything containing caffeine less than six hours before bedtime.

2. After dinner, avoid all stimulating activities, says Carol L. Rosen, M.D., medical director of pediatric sleep services at Case Western Reserve University’s School of Medicine at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland.

3. Warn your child that bedtime is in five minutes, or give him a choice — “Do you want to go to bed now or in five minutes?” — but do this only once.

 

4. Establish a consistent and relaxing bedtime routine that lasts between 20 and 30 minutes and ends in your child’s bedroom. Avoid scary stories or TV shows. It’s better to read a favorite book every night than a new one because it’s familiar.

5. Avoid singing or rocking your child to sleep, because if she wakes in the middle of the night she may need you to sing or rock her back to sleep — a condition known as sleep-onset association disorder. (If you have already been doing this, try to phase this behavior out gradually.) Instead, have her get used to falling asleep with a transitional object, like a favorite blanket or stuffed animal.

6. Make sure your child is comfortable. Clothes and blankets should not restrict movement, and the bedroom temperature shouldn’t be too warm or too cold.

7. If your child calls for you after you’ve left his room, wait a few moments before responding. This will remind him that he should be asleep, and it’ll give him the chance to soothe himself and even fall back asleep while he is waiting for you.

8. If your child comes out of her room after you’ve put her to bed, walk her back and gently but firmly remind her that it’s bedtime.

9. Give your child tools to overcome his worries. These can include a flashlight, a spray bottle filled with “monster spray,” or a large stuffed animal to “protect” him.

10. Set up a reward system. Each night your child goes to bed on time and stays there all night, she gets a star. After three stars, give her a prize.

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Top 10: Tips on coping with your newbornRex Features

I feel uncomfortable when assigned the tag of “expert” because I’ve had five children. After all, I’m not an expert on all babies and I wasn’t even an expert on my newborns.

However, that said, I do sometimes look at new mothers these days and think “oh, if only I could tell you this or that”. But I don’t want to get a reputation as an interfering old know-all in my real life.

Here, I have no such qualms so I have written out my top ten tips on coping, whether it’s your first or fourth. I shall, however, try to stop short of saying “in my day……”. 
1. Ignorance can sometimes be bliss: I’m not talking about not knowing the signs ofmeningitis or preeclampsia, of course. But I had no idea that having a c-section was supposed to make breastfeeding harder, for example. It wasn’t a walk in the park at first but I didn’t know any different and stuck at it. And, if you haven’t had your baby yet, don’t talk to women about their birth experiences.
2. Have a babymoon: Admittedly this was a new concept to me but one I wholeheartedly embraced with babies four and five. It’s hard to do but really important. You chill out in your PJs, preferably in bed at home, with your little one (and partner too, although he is on kitchen duty) for at least a week. And if you have other children they can join you, but once you’re dressed you’re back to full-on doing-it-all mode. If there’s one thing you do from this list, let it be this one. 

3. Embrace imperfection: The laundry piling up, the dust settling, being in your nightclothes still at 4pm — all of that doesn’t matter. Things will get done. Just not right now and not as quickly as you’re used to. Exhale, let it go and snuggle with your baby. That’s all that matters.

4. Accept help: I know, this can also be tricky. People say “if you need any help let me know” which is a cop out because then you have to take the initiative. But take it you shall. Tell them you’d like nothing better if they could bake you one of their chocolate cakes/take your toddler out/cuddle the baby while you take a bath. They’ll be flattered to be asked and if they’re not, perhaps it might teach them not to make empty offers.

5. Forget putting your baby in proper clothes: I did this for the first few months (but maybe that’s because I’m lazy). Those teeny pairs of jeans look so cute but avoid at all costs. Babies need changing with alarming regularity and really, you don’t need to give yourself more work. Plus, I never thought proper clothes looked all that soft for little ones. Babies in white babygros with a knitted cardigan, on the other hand, look lovely.

6. Go to National Childbirth Trust antenatal classes: NCT classes are not populated by placenta eating, natural birthing hippies, at least not round my way. Mothers who join them seem to form such tight knit groups that trying to infiltrate is harder than joining the Freemasons. You will meet other mothers everywhere but having friends with babies very close in age, at least at first, is priceless. Avoid competitive mums though.

7. Dismiss 99% of all advice: Apart from this list, obviously. It is all very well people telling you to “leave the baby to cry” but it’s not them standing there with leaky breasts and tears streaming down their face. Do it your way (which could also mean leaving the baby to cry). You’re not a perfect mum (who is?) but you’re the perfect mum for your baby. Repeat it under your breath as a mantra.

8. Don’t get your baby weighed too often: I made this mistake at first. You feel so good when baby puts on nearly a pound (a pound!) in a week, especially if it’s thanks to your boobs. But a paediatrician advised me that monthly visits to the baby clinic are enough because you get too much “noise” on the chart otherwise (they will put on more weight some weeks than others, it’s the overall pattern that counts apparently). Obviously go if you have a question or concern but you know if your baby is thriving.

9. Breastfeed: Controversial, I realise, but I can’t ignore it. It was probably one of the best things I have ever done. It wasn’t easy. My nipples felt like they were trapped in a red hot vice for what felt like hours at first. Apart from all the well documented benefits, it means you have to slow down to baby’s pace. Don’t be afraid to use all the advice there is. With my fifth baby I had to enlist a breast feeding counsellor’s help. If you don’t want to do it, or can’t do it, that’s fine too. Your baby will still thrive.

10. Enjoy it: It’s corny but oh so true that this time really does go by so quickly. I don’t want any more children, but if I could have a superpower I’d choose to travel back in time to when mine were babies. I would worry less, choose who I spent my precious time with more wisely but I really wouldn’t change much. I snuggled lots and the housework built up but I enjoyed them so much.

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DOGGGGGGGGGGGGGMy dog has got no manners.

I think he’s very rude.
He always whines at dinnertime
while we are eating food.
And when he’s feeling thirsty
and wants to take a drink,
he takes it from the toilet
instead of from the sink.

He never wears a pair of pants.
He doesn’t wear a shirt.
But worse, he will not shower
to wash away the dirt.

He’s not polite to strangers.
He bites them on the rear.
And when I’m on the telephone,
he barks so I can’t hear.

When I complained to Mommy,
she said, “I thought you knew:
the reason that his manners stink—
he learns by watching you

by Bruce Lansky 

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