Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Intentional Parenting: Punishment & Reward

Happy Tuesday!  As I mentioned last week, I'm devoting Tuesdays to topics on parenting.  I'm fairly new to motherhood, with a toddler and an infant, so I'm certainly not a guru on the subject, but I enjoy reading up on it and love sharing my findings (and musings) on parenthood.  If you do, too, please join me on Tuesdays and share your thoughts on subjects I bring up!  And if parenthood is not your cup of tea, I will not be offended if I don't hear from you on Tuesdays.

Positive Guidance, Punishment, and Reward

A few weeks ago, my son's school hosted a seminar on intentional parenting.  Last week, I shared tidbits I learned about positive guidance: how to avoid using the word "no" and how to guide children in the right direction without so much negation.  Today I'm covering an extension of positive guidance: punishment & reward.

Some of this stuff is common sense, but I found it helpful to hear it again and there was good group discussion as well, which I will try to share with a few examples.

Punishment Should Make Sense

In strategizing how to avoid using the word "no" with our toddlers, we learned how to be creative: instead of saying don't grab toys from other kids, parents can show their kids other options: offering to trade toys, or asking if the other child might want to share.

While we hope that our children our listening to these words of instruction, there will be times when they will follow through and times when they won't.  And so we arrive upon the topic of punishment.  It's important to choose punishment that makes sense.

Example from our seminar: Jimmy puts toys away at school but refuses to do so at home.  Mom will threaten Jimmy: if you don't put your toys away, then you can't watch any television!  What does television have to do with toys?  Instead, a different kind of punishment was recommended: every time Jimmy doesn't put his toys away, those toys are "cleaned up" by mom/dad and put away in a closet that Jimmy can't access.  After repeated offenses of not putting away his toys after playing, Jimmy will have very few toys to play with.  Jimmy has learned a consequence: not putting away his toys after he plays results in not having any toys.

Reward Should be Used Carefully

The other interesting point I took away from the seminar was being cautious with rewarding children.  If done too often, this can rob them of self-motivation: the ability to do the "right" thing because they are driven internally to do so, not because they are driven externally.

Example from our seminar: Chrissy has never been a good eater, so her parents "bribe" her to eat her dinner by giving her a piece of chocolate after she finishes all her food.  While we didn't discuss what should be done in this situation (we only discussed that toddlers are quite good at moderating their hunger; they may eat more some days and less other days), encouraging Chrissy to eat her dinner by offering chocolate as a reward may not lead to a healthy relationship with food.

No Prescriptions Here

As you can see, I'm not necessarily providing a "how-to" but sharing some of what I observed in the seminar.  If you have any great tips to share or topics you'd like to see one of these Tuesdays, email them to me: supersmartmama@gmail.com

Parents with toddlers: how do you use punishment & reward?  Any good tips to share?  Any good stories?

Monday, March 30, 2015

When the Weekend Isn't Enough

I knew that having two kids was going to be alot of work but there are some days where, as one woman quipped, "Having two kids isn't twice the amount of work; it's twice the amount of work and then some."

No kidding.

I love the weekends more than ever now that we're a family of four.  If we don't have anything big planned (which is more often the case than not), I start sketching out in my mind what we're going to do.  Generally, Saturday is the day we get out of the house and Sunday is the day we lay low and try to relax.

Lately, I've been plagued with Sunday-afternoon-gloom.  I used to get the "gloom" before I had kids and was working my 45-to-50 hours a week corporate job.  It would start around 2pm when I realized the weekend was coming to an end, and I'd agonize: what fun things can I do with the last few precious hours of my weekend?!

Before kids, the answer was easy: go catch an afternoon movie.  Go for a run.  Grab an afternoon glass of wine with a girlfriend or husband or a whole bunch of friends.

Now that we have TWO kids, it's a little trickier.  The toddler is awake, but the baby is asleep.  Do we split up, so one parent takes the toddler, the other parent stays with the baby?  Do we wake up the baby and get outside?  And then there is the question of WHAT do we do?  Go treat ourselves to ice cream?  Go to the playground?  Go for a walk?

Some days, we pick the perfect Sunday afternoon activity and we end our weekend on the perfect note.  Other weekends, we head out for what should be a good time, but Baby O gets grumpy and ends up crying the whole time or my husband and I can't agree on where we want to go.

In any of these cases, the weekend isn't enough.

Good weekend ending or bad, I sit down on Sunday night, after both kids are asleep, and I document in my journal how our weekend went.  I write the good and I write the bad and I remember that every day isn't going to have a cherry on top.  And that's OK.  The weekend was the weekend and I'm just thankful we had one.  We spent our weekend as a family and made memories.

Memories that I'll love and relive and think back to one day and say, "Now that was a good day."

How was your weekend?  Do you ever experience Sunday-afternoon-gloom?

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Back to Running + Meal Planning

I think this week may be the week: the beginning of my return to running!  When I had my first child, I never really got back to running so this time I've made a commitment to myself to try a little harder.  To give me a little push and reason to get moving, I've signed up for a half-marathon in October.  Although the race is six months away, I want to be both physically and mentally ready, so I want to be confident with my running well before October.

Ever since Baby O turned two months old and nursing was well established, I've been thinking, hoping, praying, dreaming of my return to running.  During my irregular stroller walks with Baby O, I've thought maybe tomorrow will be the day I'll break into a little run-walk and be on my way to running again.  It's been a small obsession of mine since late January.

Well guess what?  I believe that day has finally arrived.  All I'm committed to right now is run-walking, but I know I'll eventually work my way back to solid running if I slowly increase my running mileage week by week.

Monday: 3 mile walk

Tuesday: 4.5 mile walk

Wednesday: rest day

Thursday: 2 mile walk/run + 3.25 mile walk (total: 5.25 miles)

Friday: 2 mile walk/run + 2.6 mile walk (total: 4.6 miles)

Saturday: 2 mile walk/run (Solo run -- no stroller!)

Meal Planning

In addition to getting back to running, I'm feeling ready to get back to meal planning, as well.  Hubby's going to be out of town several nights this week, so lunch & dinner will be pretty simple:

Saturday - Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs, Lemon-Garlic Shrimp Kabobs, and Veggies

Sunday - Cowboy Spaghetti and Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Monday - leftovers

Tuesday - baked salmon and roasted broccoli

Wednesday - Taco Soup

Thursday - leftovers

Friday - dine out

Want more meal planning ideas?

A big thanks to the meal planning hostesses, Laura from Mommy Run Fast and Jill from Fitness, Health, and Happiness.  I love linking up every Sunday to share my meal plan and to get new ideas for future meals...

Friday, March 27, 2015

A Perfect Day

Happy Friday, friends!  Thursday was the most perfect day.  I was beaming all day.  I kept thinking, somebody pinch me!  How can today be so perfect?  I hope my happy story launches you into a perfect weekend...

A beautiful morning walk on Thursday.  It snowed on Wednesday.  Yeah.  Seriously.  It was in the 70s on Monday & Tuesday and then some weird weather system swept in Tuesday night and we woke up to light snow.  It ended up snowing all day, but Thursday morning I was able to get out around 9am and it was 65F and sunny and pretty much all the snow had melted, as if Wednesday had never happened.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Intentional Parenting: Positive Guidance

One of the areas I'd like to develop on my blog is topics around parenting.  I enjoy sharing my thoughts on eating whole foods and leading an active lifestyle, but I haven't touched up parenting much, so I'm going to work on that, starting with a series on Intentional Parenting.  There are times when my son does something and my husband and I exchange a looks that means What have we created?!

Intentional parenting is planned parenting -- parenting decisions that you make before getting in the heat of a moment or situation -- decisions that come out of discussions with your partner or other caregivers in your child's life on what kind of parenting you want to provide.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Weekending: Birthday Celebration

On previous birthdays, I would dream of things like a trip to Palm Springs with the hubby or a fabulous pair of shoes.  That was before we became parents.  As we enter our fifth year of parenthood (and our first year as parents of TWO kids), I find myself culling my birthday wish list more carefully than any other year.  The finalists for my list?
  • Sleep in
  • A pedicure
  • A rich, multi-layered chocolate cake
Guess what?  I was gifted all three!  There was also a little self-reflection this weekend (birthdays will do that to you) and I realized that this is the last birthday that I will have a baby around to celebrate with me, so I had to take a selfie with Baby O:

Looking back over my birthday weekend, it's safe to say that I my birthdays are on a different level now... no jet setting this year, but that's not to say it won't happen in the future! 

Birthday Treats

No birthday is complete without the cards, the balloons, the sweets...  Hubby was away for business on Wednesday and came home very late that night, only to decorate our eat-in kitchen with these surprises for me.  The toddler was excited as I was on Thursday morning...he loved the cards and balloons and begged me to let him have chocolate cake for breakfast.  Safe to say, we saved it for after dinner that night.

A Saturday Hike

I can't thank Mother Nature enough for gracing us with fabulous weather this weekend.  We drove up to Boulder to go on a hike and we were not disappointed.  First we stopped by one of our favorite brunch joints to fill up, and then we hiked Chautauqua Park.  It was a gorgeous spring morning.

Birthday Dinner Date Night

My hubby called in our trusty babysitter and we went out for a perfect birthday dinner.  I tried taking photos of all our food -- which embarrassed the husband just slightly -- and I couldn't manage to get any decent photos with the dim lighting.  Just know that the food was AHmazing.  After dinner, hubby declared, "That's it, we're now going back to eating Paleo!"  After the treats we had that night, I couldn't agree more -- it's back to lean proteins and lots of our favorite vegetables.

A Relaxing Sunday

First things first: I got to sleep in (fist pump).  Then hubby made breakfast (double fist pump).  After breakfast, we went for a walk, and I wish we had been out there longer, but it was time for my pedicure!!  The pedicure was just what I needed: a few hours of pampering with no kids and now house chores.  After my pedicure, I returned home, where the husband continued to make life as easy as possible for me.  Hubby made dinner and we ate outside, wrapping up one of the easiest Sundays I've had in a long while.

What's on your birthday wish list?  As you get older, do you find your wish list changing in any significant way?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Fitbit, Chocolate, and Books

Wow, how is it Thursday already?  I'm not complaining, it's just that by Thursday, I've usually got my weekend all planned out and so far -- no solid plans.  I better get moving on that.  This Thursday, I'm linking up my collection of random thoughts with Amanda's Thinking Out Loud party.  And please...leave me with some random thoughts of your own!

Fitbit Challenges

I'm almost embarrassed to admit it, but part of the reason I haven't given the weekend a single thought is that I'm too focused on my Fitbit challenge this week:

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Comfort Foods

It's Wednesday!  Time to come clean on what I've been eating this week...I guess I better clean up my act.  In all seriousness, I love WIAW because it keeps me honest and encourages me to eat healthy (although I do love a good dose of dark chocolate on a regular basis).

This week has gotten away from me, so I'll keep today's post strictly to food.  Here's what I noshed on this past Tuesday.  Thanks to Meghan from Clean Eats, Fast Feets for hosting this week's WIAW!!

Breakfast: I know my day is starting off right when both kids are still asleep and I can make breakfast and enjoy a little blogging and sipping my tea in complete silence.  Breakfast was two fried eggs, avocado on toast, and some tea with honey.  And don't forget the two monitors, one for each child...

Monday, March 16, 2015

Weekending: Winter Park

Hi friends!  How was your weekend?  Consider yourself warned: serious photo dump ahead.

I had the most exciting weekend of my winter!  Spring may be just around the corner, but there was just enough snow left in Colorado for a great ski weekend in Winter Park.  My closest friend from college flew in from the east coast with her three kids and we had a great time catching up, slopeside...

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Is Spring Here Yet?

The weather has taken a turn for the better -- it definitely feels like spring this week.  Of course, we're talking about March in Colorado -- anything could happen in the next two months -- last year, we got dumped with snow the day before Mother's Day, so I'm not holding my breath.

I'm linking up today with Amanda from Running with Spoons.  On Thursdays she hosts this party called Thinking Out Loud and she shares 10 (sometimes less than 10) random thoughts for the week.  It's a fun place to just share what's on your mind.  Here's what I'm thinking these days with spring on the brain.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Easy Eats

Happy hump day!  I love documenting what I'm eating on Wednesdays because (1) I love linking up and seeing what other people are eating -- I've gotten some great ideas from checking out other's posts at Jenn's What I Ate Wednesday party; (2) I love having a record of my eats that I can look back on.

Honestly, posting my food every Wednesday keeps me motivated to eat whole foods and encourages me to try new foods.  Last week I bought hemp hearts and have started experimenting with how to include them in my meals.  Case in point:

Monday, March 9, 2015

Baby & Mama Update: 3 Months!

Life is improving around here!  Baby O is now three months old!  We took several photos throughout the day last week and this was the best I could get -- I haven't figured out how to get her to smile when I've got a camera pointed at her...

It's almost surreal to think that three months ago we were here:

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Day in the Life with a 3 Month Old

Life with a baby is like a box of chocolates: you have no idea what the day ahead holds for you!  Some days I'll make tentative plans (let's go to botanical gardens!) only to change them mid-morning (let's stay home and nap together!).  It has definitely been an adjustment for me and my Type A personality.

When I decided early Tuesday morning that I was going to document the day for "A Day in the Life" post, I had no idea that today was going to go so...well.  Not perfect, but we had a better than average day.  Come read about my almost perfect day with Baby O!  And there will be food shots involved, thanks to the What I Ate Wednesday linkup with Jenn.

Monday, March 2, 2015

My Recipe for Wellness

wellness [wel-nis]
The quality or state of being healthy in body or mind, especially as the result of a deliberate effort.

Since I became a stay at home mama, I've become much more aware of my state of health and well-being.  

When I was working in the corporate world, I often neglected my health and my well-being.  Not enough exercise, good nutrition, or time for myself.

Now that I'm at home and don't have the distraction of work -- I feel like I have more time to focus on ME.  I'm always getting new ideas from social media and fellow bloggers.  For example, I got into eating Paleo last spring and I feel like my eating habits have vastly improved.

Here is my current wellness program:

1. Drink lots of water.  I don't drink much else.  I'll have a cup of coffee in the morning and I'll occasionally have a glass of wine with dinner now and again.  Currently, I'm drinking this tea daily to help with my breastfeeding.  But other than that, I don't drink juices, sodas, or other beverages.  I focus on drinking as much water as possible, and toting my water with me at all times always helps.

2. Wear sunscreen.  Being a SAHM I don't wear makeup nearly as often as I used to when I was working but I always put on sunscreen on my face in the winter and all over in the summer.

3. Be active.  Pedometers have come a long way, and I've found that wearing my Fitbit Flex is a great reality check: I don't move nearly as much as I think I am moving.  Now that I'm not running and looking after a newborn, I have to really make an effort to get to 10,000 steps a day, and my pedometer helps me keep track of how much (or how little) I am moving.

4. Set aside personal time every day.  I've kept a journal since I was eight years old, and although I don't journal every day anymore, I find other outlets similar to journalling, such as blogging, emailing, and sending handwritten letters to friends.  I still occasionally journal, although these days, it's more like 2-3 times a week.  This helps me stay sane and happy.

5. Keep in touch with friends, new and old.  Let's face it - friends are important.  Having others to talk to and relate to makes for a better life.  We've moved alot, so I have friends all over the country and I try and keep in touch with those friends through email, snail mail, and phone calls.  I've also made a great circle of friends in my new hometown of Denver, CO.

6. Challenge the brain.  Although it's hard to find time to read a book, I do sneak in some reading right before bed (I find it easier to listen to books on tape, it actually helps me go to sleep).  I also like to do crossword puzzles regularly and having them on my smartphone makes it easy, because I can work on a crossword puzzle anywhere: while putting the baby to sleep (or holding her so she can sleep), while waiting -- think doctor's appointments, etc.)

7. Get eight hours of sleep a night.  Before Baby O was born, this was not a problem.  During my pregnancy, I was napping 1-2 hours every afternoon on top of sleeping 7-8 hours a day.  Life with a newborn is not quite that peachy right now.  Knowing that the nights can be full of middle of the night feedings, I get to bed on the earlier side (8:30/9pm!) which can be a challenge in itself.  But I know I function best with 8 hours of sleep and I am a morning person, so I rarely stay up late, and I try to keep to a very regular sleep schedule.

In the future...I would like to expand my wellness routine to include taking probiotics and take on yoga or meditation.  I've heard great things about probiotics keeping the "good" bacteria around for a healthy gut.  I'd also like to work on my flexibility -- I'm pretty good about working on cardio and strength, but I often forget to work on my flexibility!

What's in your recipe for wellness?
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