What Do They Think Of Me?

August 19th, 2020

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You’re Not Stupid!

 

A few months ago as my family was enjoying our mealtime conversation my son looked at my husband and asked him what 1 + 1 is. My husband told him the answer is 2. My son then proceeded to ask me what 1 + 1 is. I thought his intention with asking me was to check that my husband and I had the same answer. I soon found out that was not his reasoning at all! What does my son think of me?!

When I told my son that the answer is 2, he replied to me, “Good job mom! Now you can have a job!” What!? Does my son think I am stupid?

 

Does he think I stay home all day taking care of him and his siblings because I am not smart enough to get a job? The good news is that I have become so confident in my position as a stay at home momma that I didn’t have to work through any insecurities and my husband and I were able to laugh at his comment. But as I began to think about what he had said it made me think about the momma that isn’t feeling so self-assured in her position as the primary care-taker and homemaker. I just have a few things to say about that!

 

 

You Are Special

First, there is a reason your husband isn’t begging to stay home with the children. And it’s not because he doesn’t like the little people, it’s because what you do everyday is hard. Sure, when I go to the store to grab a few odds and ends, if I don’t make a list I WILL forget something because… mom brain. But I do know how to accomplish about 100 tasks at one time. I am really good at loading the dishwasher while listening to my daughter tell me about her day and cleaning up the spit up running down my arm from my baby who I am holding. And this is just a normal day. These tasks may seem menial but if you don’t do them, who will? And if they don’t get them done what will happen to your home and your children?

As moms, we have the opportunity to create peace in our homes. This task should not be taken lightly. Without peace, fear and chaos have the chance to reign rampant. It may seem like what you are doing everyday is boring and pointless, but it is so definitely not! Ok ok, it might be boring sometimes but it is most definitely not pointless!

 

Think, Think, Think

Remember, you are raising a person! That requires a brain! I’m sure you are not feeling as on top of your game in the smarts department as when you were in school or at your job before having children. But trust me, you haven’t lost all of your marbles! You are just using your brain to answer about 1000 questions a day and make about a million decisions an hour! “Mom can I go outside and play? What shoes should I wear? Do I need a jacket? Can I have a snack? What’s for dinner? Do we get dessert tonight? Can my friend come over tonight?” Dear mommas, don’t underestimate what you are doing everyday and the brain power it takes to sustain your family.

The other night I went out to coffee with a few of my “mom friends”. As we were all chatting one of my friends made the comment, “I think I might be stupid now. When I went back to work after my baby was born I forgot how to do everything that was so easy for me to do before he was born!” We all started laughing and making comments about how we have to make lists now just to remember a couple of things we need at the store. Or the classic example of walking into a room and completely forgetting what we were doing in the first place. It can be funny some days to think about how you are losing your mind. But other days it might not feel so funny.

I had my first baby when I was 21 years old, I didn’t go to college and I never had a career. I did have a few part-time jobs but nothing that ever made me feel qualified. Fortunately your worth is not found in what you do but who you are.

 

 

If you identify primarily as a mom, you are forgetting who God created you to be. He calls you Daughter. You are His. He knows you more deeply than you know yourself. I encourage you to read this scripture below from Psalm 139. Read it out loud and let God’s Word penetrate your heart today.

 

1 O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, You know it all.
You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it.

Where can I go from Your Spirit?

Or where can I flee from Your presence?

If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”
12 Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.

13 For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with You.

19 O that You would slay the wicked, O God;
Depart from me, therefore, men of bloodshed.
20 For they speak against You wickedly,
And Your enemies take Your name in vain.
21 Do I not hate those who hate You, O Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?
22 I hate them with the utmost hatred;
They have become my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
24 And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.

You are powerful and smart because you are someone’s Mom. That is a part of who you are and not a single other person can be your child’s momma. But you are also wonderful because you are a daughter of the King. So be confident my friend. And remember when you think you are really gonna lose it, take time to rest. I know that may feel impossible at times, but when you get the chance, take it! I promise you, a good nap can make all the difference![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Guest Post: Big Goals Are Overwhelming

June 22nd, 2018

[vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″ shape_divider_position=”bottom” bg_image_animation=”none”][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_link_target=”_self” column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_width_inherit=”default” tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid” bg_image_animation=”none”][divider line_type=”No Line” custom_height=”10″][vc_custom_heading text=”Big Goals Are Overwhelming!” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:36|text_align:left|color:%23fe6c61″ use_theme_fonts=”yes”][divider line_type=”No Line” custom_height=”10″][vc_column_text]Before I became a mom I never realized how difficult getting my body back into shape was going to be. All the working out seemed overwhelming. But more than that, I never imagined the kind of mental strength it was going to take for me to THINK correctly about my body.

I met Taryn on Instagram and she honestly is one of the most inspiring women when it comes to getting into shape. Her insta-stories alone make me want to get up and start working out!

I want to share this blog post with you that she has written that will inspire and motivate you in finding freedom in your body and any are of you life that might feel a little overwhelming![/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

You can read her post here “Big Goals Are Overwhelming”

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Why My Kids Say Yes Mom

April 24th, 2018

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“Yes, Mom!”

I grew up in a home where my parents required me and my five siblings to say “yes, mom” or “yes, dad”. For example, if my mom asked me to go clean up my room my response would be “yes, mom”. I remember growing up thinking, why is it so important to my parents that I respond this way? Why can’t I just say “ok”? As an adult it is so incredibly clear to me how important this little habit is.

When I ask my kids to complete a task and they walk away without acknowledging me, I am left wondering if they are going to do what I said. Sometimes I even question if they heard what I said. I can hear the tone of my children’s voices when they respond with a “yes, mom”. I can then generally determine what kind of attitude they have concerning what I have asked them to do. It is proven that when someone verbally responds that they are much more likely to do what they said they would do. This makes so much sense to me!

It can be weird to make your children say ‘yes, mom’, but I think its weird to not know if your child heard you or not.

First Time Obedience

The habit of responding with a “yes, mom” cultivates respect for authority and first-time obedience in your children. In fact, I always say that “yes, mom” is the first step towards creating a first-time obedience atmosphere in your home.

What is first-time obedience you ask? Listening the first time when you are asked to do something is the core of first-time obedience. If I have to ask my child to do something twice, that is not first-time obedience.

 

Expectations

When I tell my two-year old to come to me, I expect that she come the first time I call her name. I also expect her to say “yes, mom” as she is coming to me. I know, I know…This is a lot to expect out of a two-year old, and believe me, it doesn’t happen every time. But… it happens a lot. And the older she gets the more she will listen. I know this because we have been working with my four-year old and six-year old for their entire lives and the payoff is real!

You guys, it might seem like a lot of work teaching your child how to listen the first time and respond with a “yes, mom” (or whatever phrase you decide you like) but it is so worth it! I would much rather put in the hard work now, rather than looking back with regret, wishing that I had focused more on building my children’s character.

Where Is Your Focus?

In reality, I am not focused on making my two year old happy. Raising children who respond well to authority, who listen to and respect their teachers is a major priority. I want my children to turn into adults who are excellent employees and who are self-motivated and hard-working. Honestly, I believe this starts with first time obedience and first time obedience starts with “yes, mom”.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Natural Child Birth; A Real-Life Confession

March 31st, 2018

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Azriela’s Birth Story

 

 

Today I want to share my first experience with natural child birth! This is the story of how my first born child Azriela was born and yeah –it’s a fairly wild story!

I was married for 2 months when I found out that I was pregnant with my first baby. I was barely 21 years old and really I had no idea what I was getting into. My husband, Josh, and I decided before we got married that we didn’t want to use any form of birth control. We just wanted to let everything happen naturally, we just didn’t realize how quickly “natural” could happen!

It was October 21, 2010, when I took the test, you know… the test of all tests! And guess what? I saw two little lines forming what proved to be a positive result! I thought it might take a year or so to get pregnant but nope, one very short month into our marriage and… it happened!

Natural Child Birth: Yes, It Is A Little Crazy!

I remember falling back on our bed in complete awe. I was so excited, but also so unsure of what was about to happen. Throughout my pregnancy I thought and prayed about how I wanted to handle the birthing process and I came to the conclusion that I was going to do everything naturally –yes, you heard me right, I said “naturally”– as in no pain meds!

And if you don’t know me, I am not a person who makes a decision lightly. When I decide something I have a very difficult time going back on that decision. Some people may call me stubborn, I like to say I’m focused. So when I made this decision to have a natural childbirth I knew I wasn’t going back on that decision.

Fast forward 9 grueling months later and the time had finally come.

I was living in Eugene, Oregon at this time and my entire family from California (I have 5 siblings) decided that they needed to be there when baby Azriela was born. And I loved it. About three days before I went in to labor my mom and 2 sisters drove up to Eugene, convinced I was going to be in labor soon…and they were right.

Two hours before my water broke,my dad and 3 brothers arrived. Once everyone had arrived it’s like my body knew it was time. My water broke at 1:30 in the morning on June 25, 2010. My mom and husband rushed me to the hospital. I on the other hand, did not feel the need to rush

(I’m not one to really like hospitals, they kinda freak me out –anyone else feel like this?). As we arrived, the nurses checked me in and declared that I was in fact in labor.

I Had No Idea What Was About To Happen…

They got me settled in to what looked like a hotel room (seriously the nicest hospital I have ever been to). I informed them that I would be having a natural child birth. They told me that they would not ask me about an epidural, unless I mention it. I was happy to hear that they were in support of my decision.

Next they checked me and confirmed that I was 1 cm dilated. My naive, 21 year old self was excited to hear of the progress. I really didn’t do much research about the birthing process so I didn’t realize that 1 cm didn’t mean too much. My mom (who gave birth naturally 6 times) told me it could be beneficial to walk around to get things moving (dilated). I started taking laps around the maternity ward, stopping to breath when I felt a contraction coming on.

 

 

I was excited, these contractions really don’t feel too bad, I could definitely handle this for a few more hours. I began to think this natural child birth thing wasn’t so bad. Sure I was tired. I was laboring on 2 hours of sleep, but hey, I’m about to meet my baby for the first time, and the adrenaline was helping me get through the sleepiness.

I Made A New Friend And Her Name Is “Pitocin”!

About 2 hours later I met the on-call doctor, she checked me, told me I was still 1 cm dilated and that I should begin to consider Pitocin. Pitocin? I never even heard this word before.

What is this pitocin?

I immediately said no, I didn’t want any foreign substance in my body. For those of you who don’t know what Pitocin is, it is a man-made version of a naturally occurring chemical in your body called Oxytocin. Oxytocin has the lovely job of increasing the intensity and frequency of contractions. So essentially, Pitocin is given to patients who need to quickly intensify their birthing process –which of course increases the pain level tremendously for anyone doing a natural child birth… yay…

 

 

Keep in mind that at this point in my story I still have no idea what Pitocin actually is.

Confusion Sets In

Next, the doctor told me that I needed to stop walking around; she said I was going to exhaust myself. My mom and the nurses told me the opposite –confusing right? I was certainly in a fog about what to do. Usually, I’m a very decided person, for some reason all of my ability to make a decision just left me. I looked to my husband and told him to decide for me. He suggested I rest for a while and then take a few more laps later. I did exactly what he told me to do. I felt the Holy Spirit leading us when he spoke. Josh was so calm and decided.

6:30am came along and I had been in labor for 5 hours, feeling consistent contractions. Exhaustion had set in.

The on-call doctor came back in, checked me and told me that I had made no progress: I was still 1 cm dilated! I began to feel discouraged, like my body was failing me. I thought “How can I be this bad at labor? What’s wrong with me?”

Since my water had broken hours before with signs of meconium, my doctor told me that I was running the risk of a serious infection. If I didn’t get my labor moving, my doctor threatened me with talk of a c-section.

C-section?

I hadn’t ever considered that as an option. Again, she told me that I needed to start taking Pitocin. I refused again and the doctor looked at me with disappointment in her eyes and then left the room. I asked the nurse for a little more information about Pitocin. After listening to her, my basic understanding was that it was going to make my contractions more consistent, which would help my labor speed up. Then I asked her the real question that was on my mind: “Is it going to make things more painful for me?”

“Yes” She replied. “Definitely, yes.”

A Tough Decision

When I had decided to go the “natural childbirth” route I felt that it was what God was leading me personally to do. So when I was faced with making a decision about letting a foreign substance enter my body I felt like I would be going against my conviction and my word.

I looked to my husband again for help. In that moment, I seriously could not make a decision to save my life. He looked me in the eyes and said “You are not disobeying God by taking Pitocin. He is okay with whatever decision you make. And yes, I think you should take it.”

 

 

That’s all I needed to hear. The nurses quickly got me hooked up to the Pitocin and it took less than 30 minutes for me to begin to truly feel what they meant when they said “yes, it’s more painful.”

I remember the first ‘real‘ contraction, two tears slowly rolled down my cheek.

I knew everything was about to get much harder. I looked straight into my moms eyes and she looked straight into mine. The look on her face said “I know exactly how you are feeling, and I know it’s hard but I ALSO KNOW you can do this because you are my daughter.”

 

 

From this moment on, each contraction was so painful and so consistent (#pitocin) that I could no longer speak. The pitocin actually made it too painful to even speak between contractions! For the next several hours I found that the most comfortable position was sitting on the exercise ball, leaning over the edge of the bed on some pillows. Baby girl was unfortunately positioned poorly which caused intense back labor.

Fortunately for me, I have an amazing husband who rubbed my back for about 6 hours straight.

 

Struggling Through The Exhaustion Of Natural Child Birth

My mom suggested I get into the bath to help ease the pain. I tried it, it was miserable and I quickly got out. A couple hours later I tried the shower and it was even more miserable. When I transitioned into the shower, Josh left the room for about 2.4 seconds to scarf down a sandwich. When he came back he smelled so strong of “sandwich” that I had to muster up the strength to speak and told him the first thing that came to my mind: “change your smell” (when you’re in that kind of pain all tact has gone out the window). Those 3 words were truly all I could get out. He quickly brushed his teeth and came back to my side to rub my back for the 100th time.

I decided the best place for me to stay was at the end of the bed on the exercise ball. I stopped looking for relief elsewhere, it was honestly too exhausting to stand up and explore any other options. By this time I had been in labor for about 13 hours, 8 of those, hooked up to Pitocin. A nurse came in to the room and asked if I’d like to consider getting an epidural. I looked her straight in the eyes and with a swelling sense of conviction said to her “don’t ask me that again”. How dare she even suggest such a thing. I was going to see this natural child birth thing through.

Staying Focused Is The Key!

It was about 4 o’clock when the exhaustion of labor (with Pitocin on only 2 hours of sleep) started to really get to me. I had about 45 second breaks between contractions. I would put my head down on the bed and literally fall asleep between contractions for about 30 seconds. Each time being awoken by the overwhelming pain of the next contraction. I kept focusing on breathing through the contraction, and then each time would lay my head back down on the pillow and immediately fall back to sleep.

 

 

I remember feeling the need to hold the hands of my mom and Josh through each contraction. It allowed me to focus on something. My focus was keeping my body relaxed. I would lightly hold their hands, without gripping tight, and imagine myself rowing through a river. I breathed through my nose and out my mouth. I would stare into the eyes of one of them as if they were feeling the same contraction as me. As weird as all that sounds, it gave me some slight relief.

 

When Would It End?

I remember asking my mom “how much longer”? Her response every time I asked was 15 more minutes. I knew that all I had to do was make it 15 more minutes and then I would ask her again and she would say again “15 more minutes”. I know this might sound crazy, but it helped me. I accomplished a goal every time I made it 15 more minutes. This went on for a few more hours until I finally got to 9 cm!

Hallelujah! I only had 1 cm to go, little did I know that this last cm would take another hour and a half to get to. I decided that I would do squats with each contraction to help my body dilate. I had the nurses attach a birthing bar  to the end of my bed. I would hold on to the bar during each contraction and squat. This took every ounce of strength in me. I mean every last drop.

Between every contraction I would lay back on the bed for about 15 seconds and rest. Then I would stand back up, squat, breath, and then lay back down. I continued this process for the next hour until finally the new on-call doctor came in and told me it was time to push. I couldn’t believe it, in fact I didn’t believe it. I asked him to clarify, “wait, I can really push now?” I had been feeling the urge to push for about an hour and a half, but they kept telling me to hold it in because I wasn’t dilated fully. It was finally time, after 16 hours of labor, I could finally do something!

It’s My Turn!

I used the birthing bar to get in a squatting position. I pushed with all of my might and felt things moving. It was amazing, I finally got to have some sort of control in the process. I laid back down on the bed and waited for my next contraction. I remember the monitors around my waist were falling out of position. One nurse started to fix it until another nurse began removing the monitors completely and said, “she can feel everything, she doesn’t need these any more!” (one major benefit of natural child birth).

 

 

It took me about 15 minutes of pushing and my baby girl was finally in my arms. I felt instant relief. I was finally done. Things were strangely peaceful. It was surreal and wonderful and altogether very calm.

Until all of a sudden, a nurse came over and started to push down on my uterus with all of her might. What in the world! I thought the pain was supposed to end.

And then out of nowhere the doctor informs me that he is about to give my ‘you know what’ a numbing shot and start to stitch me up. Say what, say what! Apparently I had a very minor tear when delivering my precious one. This was shocking!

As I laid there with nurses zooming by around me doing their nurse-things, all I could think about was how much my life had just changed.

I had a sudden realization that my life was no longer my own.

I had heard about the love you have for your child, but I never imagined in my wildest dreams how truly deep that love could go. This baby girl just became my whole world in an instant. All the pain and suffering was worth it, I would do it a million times over again just for her.

 

In The End, Natural Child Birth Was Worth It!

I remember telling my family that they could all come in and see the baby just a few minutes after she was born. I was so proud, I wanted the world to experience her. I was so excited that I failed to realize that I was actually laying on the delivery bed completely naked. I had no idea. My sisters walked in and immediately turned around, informing me that I might want to cover up before the rest of the family comes in (especially the brothers). Even after they told me, I somehow still wasn’t all that concerned about being half-naked. Why? Well because…

I could not stop staring at my daughter. She was my joy (and of course, still is).

The rest of my family came in to see my baby Azriela. This was truly the proudest moment of my life. I had just birthed a human being –and amazingly I was able to have a natural child birth.

I felt like wonder woman and that feeling has really never gone away. Becoming a mom has changed me so completely. I love everything that my life is about.

Yeah it’s incredibly hard and painful at times, but I would not change it for anything.

What About You?

Tell me about your crazy birth story. Did you have to take Pitocin? Did you have a natural child birth? Did you forget you were naked? For those of you who haven’t had your first baby, what’s your birth plan? Are you planning on having an epidural or have you considered a natural child birth?[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Self-Control & Children: 6 Amazing Techniques!

January 31st, 2018

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6 Amazing Ways to Cultivate Self-Control In Your Kids!

 

So let’s just be real for a sec. Staying at home with your children can be boring –am I right? And boredom inevitably leads your kids to what my husband calls “the tornado of losing self-control!”

And I’m not saying it’s boring because there’s not enough to do because trust me, I know there is ALWAYS something to do. But if your kids aren’t occupied than they are likely plotting ways to overthrow your house with chaotic glee and bring your home into the dark ages –for reals though!

So how do we as moms combat what appears to be mundane to our children? How do we get the satisfaction of feeling accomplished during the day while still keeping the little ones from biting the furniture?

The Solution : Structure

I have found a life-changing method that does the trick. Honestly, when I started implementing this solution I realized that it not only keeps your child in self-control, it teaches them to value self-control!  The self-control solution that helps the best is giving my children structured playtime. I know, I know, this doesn’t exactly seem to connect but just stick with me.

Picture this scene with me. Three children ages six and under playing in their house, no direction or boundaries. They just get to play with whatever they choose, whenever they want. What did you see? I personally just experienced a slight panic attack. Ok that’s a little dramatic, but seriously, children need structure and boundaries, otherwise there is no knowing what kind of damage they could do to a home (not to mention each other).

I have talked to so many moms about this and we all seem to agree, but the idea of structured play time and implementing it are two VERY different things. So if you want some help on how to structure each day with self-control for your kids, keep reading!

 

Why Does Structure Improve Self-control?

First, I want to talk about the benefits of structuring out your children’s day. Not only does structure keep order in your home, it keeps order in your child’s heart.

When we give our kids a free-for-all they tend to have no understanding of how to control themselves. This is what we call losing self-control!

The biggest difference I see in kids who have structured time throughout the day and those that do not is the ability to have self-control. Children (obviously) are not born with self-control, it is something that we as the parents need to teach our children.

I believe that self-control can begin being taught to our children from day 1 with sleep-training. After all, sleep-training is successful because it focuses on structure. And…

Intentional, consistentparent-directed structure over long periods of time creates a value for self-control in the heart of your child.

From there –when they are still very little you can begin implementing the magic of structured play times and you can continue teaching them self-control through developing daily routines. The first thing I always advise to mommas looking to to begin with their babies is what I call playpen time.

1. Playpen Power

Playpen time is really simple. You can begin this time when your baby is as young as two months old. You simply lay your baby in the playpen with a toy or two. Set the timer for five minutes and leave the baby alone. You can keep an eye on the baby just don’t let the baby see you (VERY IMPORTANT)!

Side note: check out the playpen we use every day! We’ve had lots before but we love this one because its sooo easy to move through doorways without having to repack it and unpack it two minutes later (silly I know, but small things make a big difference). My husband Josh loves how simple and easy it is to use!

Link: Graco Pack N’ Play Playard Nimble Nook

You want to create an atmosphere of independence for the baby. Make sure the timer is set where the baby can hear it go off and use the same timer every time. When the timer goes off get your baby up and celebrate how great of a job your baby did. The next day do the same thing, everyday increasing the time until you get them up to 45-60 minutes.

I always suggest having playpen time at the same time everyday so that the baby knows what to expect and doesn’t get thrown off of their routine. The morning time usually seems to work the best for us.

2. Transitioning to Blanket Time

Now from here you can move onto blanket time as the baby gets older. Blanket time is essentially the same thing but, you guessed it, its on a blanket instead of a playpen.

The reason you would move your baby from playpen time to blanket time is to show them that they can handle having boundaries on their own using self-control.

Find a few toys and/or books that your child really enjoys and set them on the blanket. Tell them its blanket time and set the timer. As you transition to blanket time your child will most likely try and test the boundaries by crawling/walking off the blanket.

If the child does leave the blanket give a small discipline, set the child back on the blanket and leave the room. Make sure you can see the child but the child cannot see you, again creating a sense of independence. You are essentially teaching your child that they have the ability to have self-control and self-discipline.

Celebrating Small Victories in Self-Control

Now you may be thinking ‘my child would never be able to do this, especially for an entire hour!’ But let me assure they can! I guarantee it! Its really up to YOU to teach them. Start with simple goals, like five minutes. Always celebrate their achievement when they are done.

Soon (trust me) your child will love their structured playtime and will be asking for it! Just imagine going over to a friend’s house to chat and setting up a blanket for your baby and having a full hour uninterrupted! Or imagine how much you can get done at your own house while your child is having independent playtime! And this is just the start of it.

There are so many other structured play times that you can create for your child! Right now I have a four year old, two year old, and newborn baby to create structure for everyday while my six year old is at school. Here is a list of four other common structured play times my children take part in.

3. Book Time

I set the timer for 20 minutes. Each child gets a pile of books and their own designated spot in the living room –separate from each other– to look at books. They do not get to get up from their spot until the timer goes off. When the timer goes off it is their responsibility to put the books away. At first, they might not want to clean up the books. Simply tell them it’s their job to do and help them out a little the first couple of times. Gradually, they will learn this responsibility and you can even begin applying the same principles to other times clean up is needed! Imagine how happy their future spouse will be to find that they’ve fully developed the habit of cleaning up after themselves!

4. Art Time

Almost everyday I get out the box of art supplies and let them be as creative as they want to be for a designated amount of time. Again, I set the timer and they are not allowed to get up until after the timer goes off. Sometimes the day calls for 20 minutes, sometimes 30 or longer. Whatever the amount of time you choose, having structured art time not only teaches self-control but also research has shown that artistic activity is fundamental to brain growth and function (check out this article by AASA).

Also: These art pads are da bomb (do other people still say that)! Our four year old son Zeek uses them all the time and I love getting them for him because he enjoys art so much.

Link: Melissa & Doug Drawing Pad

4. Snack Time

This one is kinda obvious but something I find works great is having snack time at the same time every day. Otherwise, my children end up asking for snacks all day long (and yes, it is SUPER annoying). Since I’ve started doing regular on-the-clock snack times, they know that there is a designated snack time (10am) and I’m not going to budge on that time. The result? They aren’t asking for snacks every second of everyday.

Here’s how I structure snack time and meal times too: I always have my children eat at the table and they are not allowed to get up unless they ask to be excused.  Period. This has proven to be very beneficial during meal times, it allows us to eat as a family without having children get up and down from the table, running around and generally not adding to an atmosphere of peace during mealtime.

5. Lego Time

Ah… yes –legos, the bane of adult feet everywhere! Our children love their legos (apparently my husband does too, haha) and I personally do not want them all over the house! So we have a few bins of legos and during lego time I take out one bin and let them build for a designated amount of time. When they are done with lego time they clean up all the legos and put the bin away (remember, we are helping train them to clean up after themselves as this also builds a value for self-control).

6. Room Time

We have two bins of toys in our hallway closet. During room time our children are allowed to have one bin of toys in their room that they can play with and they are not allowed to leave their room during this time. When the timer goes off –you guessed it– they put all their toys back in their bin. Make sure they keep the door open during room time so you can always listen for them.

Anytime Can Be A “Time”

These are just a few suggestions of how you could structure your day with your children. You are free to structure any “time” yourself with the same techniques in mind. Find the right times that work for you each week –and remember the key is to STAY CONSISTENT! 

After dinnertime, I usually allow my children to just have free playtime and we all generally hang out together. Even with four children on different schedules, I am able to get a lot accomplished during my mornings because of these structured play times. My children enjoy themselves and our home remains “put together”.

If I didn’t implement these structured play times and teach my children how to entertain themselves then I could only imagine that my day would be much more chaotic. This allows me time to get things done that I need to do. Every time I include structured play time, I can keep my house clean, do laundry, bake, prepare meals, etc. and by the time my husband comes home from work I don’t have much else to accomplish. I get to set goals for the day and then cross them off my list. I have a sense of accomplishment and it is wonderful.

Structured play time is so beneficial to your children, but it is also a blessing for you as a mom. I have experienced so much freedom during my day because of this simple concept. I want to encourage you to try it out and see what happens! You can start with a child of any age. You may experience some resistance to the structure if you child is not used to it. But –trust me– within a few weeks you will be so happy you tried it, I promise you!

Be blessed today mommas!

(Full transparency: every so often, I use affiliate links for paid products on this site which means we get a small commission for referrals. It doesn’t change the actual cost of anything but doing so allows me to maintain and improve parachutemom.com. We are a Non-profit 501c3 and we contribute all funds to the mission and vision of Parachute Mom)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Your Body After Giving Birth: 3 Things Every Mom Must Know!

December 6th, 2017

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3 Things Every New Mom Needs To Know About Their Body!

You know those women who have a baby and then about three weeks later they look so wonderful it’s like nothing ever happened to their body?

Yeah –confession timethat’s not me!

And if you are one of those women, that’s awesome, I am seriously happy for you! But if you aren’t I have something you might want to hear.

Four days after I turned 21, I married my husband… fast forward a half-sec… and 1.5 months later… we were pregnant.

My wedding-perfect body started to instantly transform.

Before I got pregnant I hadn’t ever dealt with insecurities concerning my body image. I really liked the way I looked. I wasn’t “skinny” before I had my first baby. In fact, I always just felt -for lack of a better term- “average” and I was great with that.

Even while I was pregnant I felt great about how I looked. I knew I was growing a baby inside of me and I loved it!

And then it happened…

It was about 3 days after giving birth to my first baby that I seriously freaked out! I had read that I needed to be prepared to look about 5 months pregnant still by the time I left the hospital. So I brought to the hospital some clothes that I fit into when I was 5 months pregnant, expecting to be able to leave the hospital in them. As you might be able to imagine, that didn’t happen.

I seriously could not fit into those clothes!

A couple days after that I was starting to feel pretty recovered from giving birth and ready to go out on my first outing to Target! The only thing I could really fit into was some old stretched out sweats…yay…

I immediately started crying and to be honest, I completely lost it!

I felt horrible, embarrassed, and scared that I would never look the same again! I didn’t even want to leave my house. What if someone that I knew saw me? What if I would live the rest of my life feeling awkward about how I look? I know these thoughts may seem terrible, but they were real, very real.

I experienced for the first time what it felt like to be uncomfortable in my own skin, and I really didn’t like the feeling.

As I am writing this I am 3 weeks postpartum with my fourth baby and I have learned a few things that I want to share with you.

First, it is very possible to get back into the shape you were before having your baby!

For most of us it takes a lot of hard work and time!

Give yourself time. I am going to say that again: give yourself time!

I always tell people to give yourself at least a year after giving birth. With my second child I gained 70 pounds during my pregnancy. I know, I know, that’s a lot of weight to gain. I don’t know what it is, but my body just likes to gain a lot of weight when I’m pregnant (I promise I don’t eat 15 brownies every night)!

It took me about 14 months to get back to my regular size and once I did I never really thought about how much weight I had gained during my pregnancy. I was just happy to be feeling healthy and more like myself again.

Keep in mind, it took me 14 months of consistent exercise and a very strict diet.

If I can do it, you can too. Just remember that it is possible, but it takes time and it requires dedication.

Second, nobody, and I mean nobody analyzes your body as much as you do!

 

How do I know this is a challenge you are likely facing? Because, I have never met a woman who didn’t over-analyze her body after giving birth. It seems to be an issue that all postpartum moms struggle with. I wish I could go back in time and say to myself what I’m about to say to you.

My suggestion, stop looking at yourself so much! I know that sounds crazy, but for real, stop looking at every little curve and stretch mark. Your body just did something amazing! It literally created a human inside of itself and sustained its life for 9 months!

Your clothes might not fit right and you might be wearing those same maternity pants for the next several months. But -if you can- don’t make the mistake of letting your looks be the primary focus of your life.

Instead, think about how incredible you are… not your body, but… YOU!

You might look a little different for a while, or maybe even for an extended period of time, but that doesn’t mean you are different. You are still the same amazing woman that you were before.

And -in truth- you are even more amazing because of all that you accomplished in having your baby.

And third, remember you are not alone. We have all gone through it before.

Every mom has had to go through that awkward after-pregnancy phase where nobody comments on how cute you look with that “sweet little belly”. Where your older children come up to you smiling and say “your tummy still looks like it has a baby in it”. Or how about the countless times you walk into a public place and want to tell everyone, “Hey, I just had a baby! I don’t normally look this puffy!”

You are not alone. I feel it. With each child I have felt it.

So remember this, you are beautiful.

Not because you have a flat stomach and a thigh gap. You are beautiful because you are YOU.

You are a momma…and when your baby looks into your eyes, you are the most wonderful thing he can imagine seeing. Because your body -regardless of how it looks this moment- made him and brought him into this world.

You are amazing and don’t ever forget that.

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The Conviction of Motherhood (Building Trust With Your Kids)

October 3rd, 2017

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Conviction.

 

I love that word.

Conviction. It simply means a firmly held belief or opinion.

We live in a world where people have strong beliefs about anything and everything. Yet somehow many people allow their heartfelt beliefs to wane under pressure.

If we, as mothers, don’t stand firm in what we say and do, than what’s the point? If we tell our children one thing in one moment and then change our minds in the next, what will they think of us?

What do you think about people who can’t keep their convictions?

Success Comes From Conviction

Let’s use Amazon as an example (one of my favorite places to shop).

Imagine you were online on Amazon.com ordering a cute new pair of shoes for your toddler. You place the order and receive the confirmation that the shoes will arrive in the next 3-5 business days.

Now what would happen if on day 7 the shoes had not yet arrived on your doorstep? I will tell you what would happen –the trust you had for Amazon would begin to diminish.

And you know what? You wouldn’t worry about it too much on the next order you placed. You’d still trust that you’d get your products on time.

But what if Amazon failed to deliver products to you 3 times in a row? What about 5 times? 10 times? Would you keep ordering online from Amazon?

No. Because they would’ve lost your trust!

Amazon would not be the thriving company it is today if it didn’t keep its promises.

Amazon has built TRUST with its customers and because of that, is a multi-billion dollar, global company.

Success comes from building trust through establishing convictions.

The same is true when it comes to the relationship between you and your child.

Can your child trust you? When you say “No” can your child trust that as your final answer? When you as a mother make a decision, do you stick to it?

Let me tell you why this issue is so important when it comes to motherhood.

The Word of God says that a “double-minded man is unstable in all of his ways”. When you allow your child to frequently change your mind you appear to be unstable to your child.

Your children become uncertain that they can trust what you say. This can become very dangerous.

Creating trust through conviction is key to parenting!

This world is full of so much uncertainty. I for one, do not want to be a person that people –including my children– cannot be certain of.

I want to be reliable. I want my “yes” to be “yes” and my “no” to be “no.”

When I tell someone that I will be somewhere at a certain time, I will do all that I can to be where I said I would be at the agreed upon time.

Do you know why?

I value being a trustworthy person –even more so, I value the people who trust me (and those who don’t yet).

How We Become Untrustworthy

We don’t mean to be untrustworthy. We make a small decision to do something and then we forget to do it. Or we lose track of time. Or some seeming emergency comes up and steals away our time.

These reasons (also called excuses) brand us and label us as irresponsible, uncaring and untrustworthy.

I hate to say it, but when we consistently allow these excuses to creep into our day-to-day parenting, we become untrustworthy parents.

When we choose to do something that is not trustworthy, we are teaching our children that it is okay for them to be untrustworthy. They WILL follow our example. Suddenly, their “yes” isn’t a “yes” and their “no” isn’t a “no.”

Furthermore, we are telling them “even though mom just said no, maybe if you cry enough or complain enough I might say yes.”

Effectively, you are giving your children the right to lead and rule the house.

I know all of this might sound harsh and I am not saying that I have never gone back on my word, but I have made a conviction that I will say what I mean and mean what I say.

 

How We Become Trustworthy

The beautiful thing is that if you have messed up in this area there is hope!

Whether you’ve lost a little “street cred.” with your little ones or you are facing your child’s perception of full-blown unreliability, there are two key things you can do to build or rebuild trust.

1. LOVE LIKE CRAZY!

I am certain you do love your children like crazy. As moms, it’s only natural to love our kids like nothing else –we were made to love them well.

That being said, make sure they know it and you show it. Kids adopt the values of those who value them most. When you intentionally demonstrate care for them, they will have an easier time trusting what you say and do.

As moms, we have a lot to accomplish every hour of every day. Between cooking, cleaning, getting groceries and getting our kids off to school there is so much to do. Make sure amidst all the crazy, fast-paced activity you find time to be intentional with your child.

Building trust creates an atmosphere of safety for your kids

2. MAKE DECISIONS CAREFULLY AND FOLLOW THROUGH.

Early on I learned that when I said something to my children it was very important to stick to it, whether positive or negative. I don’t want to make promises I can’t keep. So if I tell my daughter I am going to take her on a special date in a couple of days I need to make sure I make that happen to the best of my ability.

Or if I tell my son he is going to be put in time out if he whines about putting his toys away, then I need to make sure that happens.

This is why it is so important to make careful decisions before we let anything come out of our mouths –especially in front of our children.

It drives me crazy when a parent tells a child “if you do that again you are going to be disciplined” and then I watch the child do… “that”… again, and… again… with no consequence.

This pattern of parenting teaches your kids a couple of things: 1. Your words have no weight 2. your child’s actions don’t necessarily have any consequences.

Unfortunately, as our children grow into adults they will find out rather quickly that their actions do have consequences and its not gonna be a fun lesson to learn late in life!

If we as parents are not following through then the real world is going to be a very scary place for our children.

The bottom line is this.

We can either pay now or pay later.

We can work hard at developing children with strong character or we can pay later having teenagers with no moral compass and no respect for their authorities.

 

This may sound harsh or scary, but its true.

 

We can’t ignore the weightiness of our roles as mothers. This responsibility of motherhood is no easy task. But you are designed for this. You were created to be the mother of the children you have and YOU can do this.

Some days I honestly feel like giving up; I feel like not following through. I feel like just letting my kids get away with their bad behavior, but then I think about how much harder it will be the next day.

Today’s lack of concern becomes tomorrow’s emergency.

Each time I want to give up and give in, I decide to be strong –even when I feel weak.

I look at the faces of my children and think “they are worth it!” They are worth all of it. All the times I have to be the tough mom, all the times I have to say “no” when “yes” would be so much easier, all the hours and hours of whining and screaming and all the countless meltdowns.

I am willing to go through all of it to teach my children that character is more important than comfort.

Beacuse, they are -and always will be- worth it![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Your Baby’s First Week (What To Do)

September 8th, 2017

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Welcome to the first week of the Parachute Mom Sleep Training Program!

 

It’s called: The 12 Week Sleep Solution!

 

 

 

The following article is and excerpt from the 12 Week Sleep Solution –the official Parachute Mom Sleep Training Course!

 

[/vc_column_text][nectar_btn size=”medium” button_style=”regular-tilt” button_color=”Accent-Color” icon_family=”none” url=”https://parachutemom.com/learn/12wss” text=”See The Course”][divider line_type=”No Line” custom_height=”10″][vc_column_text]Congratulations on the birth of your precious new baby! You are taking a leap of faith into one of the greatest adventures of your life: raising this child to become the incredible person they were meant to be. And their journey starts with something very simple and basic but oh, so important: learning to peacefully sleep through the night.

It might sound a little crazy but the first week of your baby’s life is the first week to start sleep training. The most optimal time to start is the day after you get home from the hospital but if that isn’t possible -no sweat- just start as soon as you can in the first week.

ONE VERY IMPORTANT NOTE before we begin: You might be thinking, maybe my baby is more difficult to sleep train than others. Let me just say, I have had 3 kids 4 kids all with vastly different personalities from birth and all of them have slept through the night at 8 weeks following the advice that I’m sharing with you now.

The truth is: all babies are hard to sleep train but if you’re willing to put in the effort, you will be rewarded with sleep and peace for you and your baby!

Whether you feel your baby is easy or difficult…. follow the week by week steps I have for you and your baby should be sleeping 8 hours or more by 8-10 weeks of age.

 

Let’s begin!

Have success in parenting your newborn baby during it's first week!

 

There are three key things you should focus on in the first week of your new baby’s life.

The first week is all about…

  • Getting to know your baby,

  • Recovering from giving birth,

  • And trying to rest as much as possible.

So remember those three things are the priority above everything, yes even the sleep schedule!

But you also need to remember that the sooner you focus on the sleep schedule, the sooner you will be able to sleep through the night…oh yeah, and so will your baby 🙂

The first week is the easiest week when it comes to knowing what to do with your baby.

Let me just give you a little phrase that always helps me during this first week “Nurse, awake, sleep, nurse, awake, sleep, nurse, awake, sleep”…all day long…

We are going to break it down into those 3 easy steps.

  1. Nurse

  2. Awake

  3. Sleep

Step One: Nurse

You will simply feed (nurse or bottle feed) baby every 2 1/2 to 3 hours. A lot of people have a hard time understanding what this actually means… You simply note when you START her feeding and begin your next feeding 2 1/2 to 3 hours later. for example, if your baby started feeding at 1pm, your next feeding will begin between 3:30 and 4pm.

Step Two: Awake

The next thing you have to think about is trying to keep your baby awake after her feeding for up to 45 minutes. This is the challenging part.

Most newborn babies can sleep anywhere between 16 to 21 hours a day. So even if you keep your baby awake for 15 minutes, it is better than nothing.

During the nighttime feedings you will definitely not be trying to keep your baby awake.

Step Three: Sleep

Now let me just say this, this is the area where I see the most failure, probably because it is the most difficult part of scheduling, but it is the most important part! You are teaching your baby to fall asleep on her own without the comfort of bottle feeding or nursing to sleep.

It is much easier to teach this skill from day one as opposed to week 12!

One thing you will need to remember is that at night, you need to wake your baby up at least 3 hours after you feed her –if she is not waking on her own by that time.

Doing this is very important, especially if you are nursing. Your milk supply will come in when it’s supposed to and your baby will get the nourishment that she needs.

Yes, this does mean setting your alarm and waking your precious sleeping baby (#adulting). Trust me, you will thank me when your baby is sleeping at least 8 wonderful hours at night by 8 weeks old!

First week: when baby sleeps well, you sleep well and so does the whole house!

Some Small Exceptions

After saying all this, there will be times when it is simply impossible to get your baby to wake up after a feeding.

Now, with my first baby I refused to give in to this and would torture myself trying to get my sleeping baby to wake up. There are times when it is just not going to happen, so recognize those times, use common sense and just let your baby go to sleep.

It’s All About Self-Control

Okay, so what we’ve covered so far is that you need to feed your baby every 2 1/2 to 3 hours around the clock and during daytime hours you need to keep her awake for up to 45 minutes after each feeding.

Following this pattern is essentially your newborn’s first lesson in Self-Control.

Once you notice your baby is drifting to sleep or becomes fussy, lay her down in her crib and let her fall asleep on her own. This is called self-soothing. It is my belief that a self-soothing child turns into a self-controlled child.

Your baby is learning from the beginning that they have the ability to control their emotions and behaviors.

It is not the full responsibility of the mom to rush in at the sound of every cry. As painful as it is to hear your own baby cry, it is even more painful to have a baby that is incapable of sleeping.

I am telling you right now, I do not believe in the “cry-it-out method” of parenting, but I do believe it is okay to let your baby cry. Your baby will not grow up hating you or feeling that you abandoned them as an infant, in fact, I believe with my full heart that one day your child will thank you for teaching them great sleeping habits.

 

Your Baby will not need some sort of crazy coping mechanism to get them to go to sleep at night, they will simply be able to lay down and fall asleep. That is all you are teaching your baby when you lay them down and say “night night”, you are giving them permission to sleep in peace.

 

So that is all simple enough, right?

  1. Feed baby every 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
  2. Keep baby awake for up to 45 minutes after feeding during daytime hours.
  3. Lay baby down in crib while she is still awake and let her sleep for at least 1 1/2 hours

 

Baby's first week sleeping: sleepy time is the best time!

You got this! Go get ’em Mama!

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What is Your Baby Really Saying When She Cries?

August 23rd, 2017

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What Does Your Baby’s Cry Mean?

 

Today, I have some simple yet very profound advice I received from my own mother years ago.

You know those times when someone else is holding your baby, she starts crying, they hand the baby back and say, “well she must be hungry”. My question is this… Is hunger the only thing a baby has the ability to communicate?

A newborn baby has one form of communication and that form just happens to be crying.

In my experience, that can mean several things such as, pain, tiredness, hunger, the need for physical comfort, boredom.

What do you think would happen to a child if whenever it presents a need to its parent the only response is food. “Oh so you are sad? Here’s a cracker. Enjoy!” “You need to go to the bathroom? Here’s a slice of pizza. Have fun with that!” “You hurt your finger? How about a cookie?” You get the point.

When a baby cries what do I do? How do I stop baby from crying?

When a newborn is crying, it does not necessarily mean she needs to be fed. But how would you know that?

Here’s one answer.

Know your baby’s cry. Study it. Learn it.

Let me tell you something. You will not always know what your baby is trying to communicate, but you can take steps to become more familiar with what she is trying to tell you.

How do you do this you ask? Its simple really. Listen. Listen to how she is crying and then mentally record what the correct solution to the problem was.

Lets say you lay her down for her nap and she begins crying. Many things could be happening. For instance, she could be tired and just soothing herself to sleep. She could be hungry. She could have a poopy diaper.

Investigate a bit. Let her cry for a while and see if she falls asleep. Check her diaper. But don’t assume that she must be hungry!

Nursing is not the solution for every problem, its just not.

In fact, it is simply unhealthy to respond to every problem with food as the answer. Lets begin to change the way you think about nursing. Nursing is for nourishment.

Why is baby crying? What does my baby's cry mean?When you can understand that, then you will begin to understand how to recognize what your baby may be crying about. And who better to know the language of their child than you, their mom!

This is the first small step to communicating well with your child throughout their life: know your baby’s cry!

Have a blessed day Mama!

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How to Find Peace in the Pile of Laundry

August 22nd, 2017

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How to Have Peace Every Day

 

Hello there mama!

Hows your day today? Filled with dirty toilets, a kitchen sink full of dishes, and maybe a couple hundred piles of laundry? Yeah me too!

Peace in the pile of laundry.

 

But do you know what is so amazing despite this present chaos? Peace. I have found a way to still have peace.

Because let me tell you, peace does not come when all the kids are in bed and the laundry is put away. That is called a quiet home which don’t get me wrong is WONDERFUL, but I am not talking about a quiet home, I am talking about a peaceful home.

Quietness is a circumstance, peace is a state of being despite the present circumstance.

As a mother, you very well know that just because you say you are in charge does not necessarily mean that you are in charge. So what do you do when you are at your wits end with your children, your house is a disaster, and you get the dreaded phone call that your husband is going to be late coming home from work again!

What is your go-to? Do you lose it? Do you just give up and quit?

Or do you look for peace?

Can I just say that I am speaking as a person who has seriously lost control! Like, over the top freaking out, crying, curled up in a ball, in the kitchen corner! I have been there, done that, and I am most certain I will be there again at some point!

Turn to Him and find peace when things seem crazy.

We are all just imperfect people trying the best that we can. But I want to tell you there is hope for peace in our disarranged circumstances. And that hope can only come from one place, Jesus. He is the answer. He is the peace-giver. He is the solution to the feeling of being too overwhelmed to move.

But hold on a sec. I know what you are thinking…like okay yeah I know Jesus is the answer, but what exactly is He doing to solve my problem? First, you need to know that when you accept Jesus in your life, you have accepted the fullness of Him, He is in you.

So boom, you know Jesus, He is in you, you are His and He is yours. So what do you do with that, how is that helpful to you when you cant see the bottom of your laundry pile and your children wont eat their dinner that you so lovingly prepared for them?

 

 

The Art of Turning To Him

Simply put, you go to Him. To His Presence. And you engage with His Spirit. He is your friend, your mentor, your father, He is everything you need. His Spirit resides in you, everything that He has, you have. The fullness of His peace is at your fingertips. So receive it dear daughter of the King. Receive His peace. Stop trying to make it all better and just recognize His nearness.

Practically speaking I know this doesn’t sound real, but it works. When I am feeling overwhelmed I just stop. I lay on the ground and just listen to what He is saying.

Sometimes I don’t hear a single thing and that is, soooooo okay! All He needs us to do is recognize His existence and invite His peace in.

 

Jesus is the way of peace

Remember that He sees you, He knows you, and He so loves you. You are His everything. Be loved and receive peace my friend.

 

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