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Parenting Toddlers

Want to Practice “Time-In” Instead of “Time-Out”? Here’s How.

Getting Real with Kira Hazledine

I will be the first to admit, the transition from one to two kids has been less than pleasant. My heart became fuller than I ever imagined, but my patience became shorter than I had ever thought possible. My toddler, already a challenge from the second she was born, had really ramped it up.

This was also happening while I was doing my best to recover from my postpartum anxiety. I had a too-snuggly infant, a toddler hell-bent on pushing every button ever, and time-out was doing absolute shit for our problems.

Time-out has never been our first response. Distractions, positive reinforcement, anything else. But hello. When my toddler is impulse-biting my infant, I start running out of options. When listening capacities are at literally zero, what am I supposed to do? Time-out sounds great, but with my child, all it did was add to the chaos. Screaming, stomping, spiraling.

Do you know how long my child can tantrum? I finally caved at 30 minutes. I was crying, she was crying, and it wasn’t working. I can only imagine how long she would go if I let her.

My child wasn’t being left alone. I was there the whole time when she was in “time-out.” I was there to support her, offer cuddles, ask her if she wanted to talk or even hit some freaking stuffed animals. It didn’t matter. Time-out was failing, and I’ve been hearing all about this fancy new concept called “time-in.”

Now, as far as I was concerned, I was doing everything that “time-in” advocates talked about. My child wasn’t being isolated. There was no yelling (most of the time) and I was using all the right language. Wasn’t I?

Obviously not for my feisty girl.

I was venting to my friend about the latest incident of rage peeing (it’s a thing for potty training gremlins who realize the power they now hold) and we talked about this genius idea of a quiet reading corner. I did ask my child if she wanted to read stories, which of course was a screaming “no,” and that’s when I realized I was giving my toddler the wrong kind of power.

To achieve the “time-in” that I was searching for, I gave the choice. Take a “time-out” or read three stories.

Holy shit.

It has made the biggest difference.

Obviously, my toddler is going to do everything to avoid time-out, and is three stories really that bad? Nope. And what happens is magical.

Often, my child will sit and read for up to 30 minutes by her own choice. Not only has she completed her “punishment” for whatever transgression, but her mindset has calmed. It’s the perfect distraction and the most amazing reset. She comes out of it a different kid.

I’m not saying every child loves to read, so this “time-in” strategy isn’t going to work for everyone. A child could color 3 pages in their favorite coloring book. Stack blocks 10 blocks high. Whatever quiet activity keeps your child calm, use it. A consequence doesn’t have to be a chair in the corner, and it’s not worth a screaming battle. You’re not trying to “win” here, so let the time-out go and reach for a calmer solution.

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On Motherhood Parenting

4 Realities Sick Moms are Guilty Of

There are two primary things that kids give zero fucks about:

  1. Hangovers
  2. Parental Illness

I haven’t been slamming margaritas lately (unfortunately – damn you, breastfeeding), but I am a regular victim of the common cold. It’s that time of year, and although I do my best to continue functioning, I’m not firing on all cylinders. Illness of some kind shifts the entire dynamic of my household, and I’m guilty of things that on a normal day would never fly.

Unlimited screen time.

Yep. If my little darlings want to stare at a screen while I stuff tampons up my nose like an MMA fighter to stop the flow of snot, you bet that’s exactly what I’m going to allow. You want to watch Moana again? Have at it. I’ll sing every song with you if my butt gets to remain on this couch while I nurse a sinus headache.

Free-for-all meals.

It’s snack time! Normally I would insist on an apple with peanut butter or some other healthy fare, but today, the child wants a sucker. Of course. Have three. But snag that apple off the counter and eat it like a big kid, too, ok? Let’s all pretend that we’re trying here. Cereal and goldfish for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Just kidding, I’ll still prepare a meal of some sort, but it’s not Rachel Ray worthy. But is my cooking ever? So, it’s not really a loss.

Concern for cleanliness vanishes.

I don’t care that blocks are in every corner of the house. I’m not as concerned as I normally would be about dirty underwear on the floor as long as the child is wearing clean ones. Laundry? Wouldn’t bet on it. The house will look like a hurricane struck, with banana peels and sucker wrappers on the counter, and I’m not sorry. This includes children. If it was bath time today, it’s shower time tomorrow.

Pajamas all day.

If I’m sick, we’re all in pajamas. It doesn’t even matter if we have to hit the grocery store out of desperation, in case we’re out of cold meds and milk. We’re about to take this pajama party on the road, and in that case, I might have enough dignity/energy to at least put sweatpants on. Depends on how sick I am, and if I’m sick enough to publicly rock the leopard print pajama bottoms, you better think twice before mentioning it.

Moms don’t get sick days, so we have to roll with it as best we can. Hopefully the utter despair only lasts a couple days, and you can go ham cleaning the house and getting everything back in order. Besides, it’s refreshing to toss the rules out for a day or two, right? Right.

 

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Let's Talk

I Won’t Send My Child to a US School if I Don’t Have To

Getting Real with Kira Hazledine

We were supposed to be playing games and singing songs at the local parent resource center, where I have made friends with other moms and my daughter has benefited from socialization and education. Instead, we were huddled quietly in a dark room, barely hidden by filing cabinets. We were still visible to the windows, but it was either that or crowd everyone in the one-person bathroom.

This was a lock-down drill, held at the local elementary school where the center is tucked into an unsecured back entrance. Meaning, people in the community can access the center, but not the school. As I sat huddled with my child and others, I wondered what we would have done in a real active-shooter scenario. How would I have kept my child seated and quiet? Could I have honestly hid her well in this room with nowhere to hide?

The fact that any child even has to go through this is appalling. My toddler thought it was a new game, but in reality, we were prepping for a potential life-and-death situation.

This should not be normal.

Asking teachers to die for their students isn’t normal.

Children afraid to go to the bathroom during class (you’re an easy target when you’re alone in the hallway) isn’t normal.

Considering staplers as a good weapon rather than an instrument in learning isn’t normal.

If there is any way I can take my children and run from this first-world warfare, I’m going to make it happen. As dual citizens, they have rights to a life in the UK, and you bet your ass their father and I are doing everything possible to make the international jump.

I am incredibly lucky to have an out. Most people don’t have a choice between one country or another, or the finances and support to even go through an expensive immigration process. But let’s say I didn’t have the option. Would I really be able to send my children to school? I don’t know. I think I’d have a panic attack before placing my children in the battle ground we call the American education system.

I would seriously consider home-schooling. And I only say that as I see the influx of anxiety in American students, as they attend school in a world where guns are rampant and no amount of mass shootings makes a difference in laws. Children roam the hallways, not thinking about the next sporting event, but wondering which supply closet is unlocked.

We should be rioting in the streets. Where are we, as parents to our kids? We claim to value our freedom, but we’re prisoners to our own ignorance and fear. I won’t do that to my kids.

 

 

 

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Health On Motherhood

Why Acknowledging Thin Privilege in Motherhood is a Must

Getting Real with Kira Hazledine

Let’s start with privilege. People get up in arms about the word, as if they can help what they were born into. Genetics, society, whatever. You’re right, you can’t.

Which is exactly why it’s so important to own it.

Privilege isn’t stating that life for you is never hard. It’s saying that life for you is never hard for a particular reason. Like in motherhood, life isn’t hard for me because I’m thin. Life is hard for me in other ways, but my weight has nothing to do with how I might be oppressed as a woman and a person.

So, it needs to be owned. I have thin privilege, and here is why it’s so important that the mothers with that same privilege need to be kicking and screaming about the status quo of postpartum bodies.

I’ve never known the struggle of “losing the baby weight” yet I hear society demanding that it be done in a matter of weeks, if not months. I’ve never dealt with the apron that develops after a c-section, or diastis recti that can prevent a woman from losing that baby pouch. Yet, women are expected to heal, get back to work, maintain the house, or whatever it is that society asks for.

This is NOT to say I haven’t dealt with my own self-image issues postpartum. This is NOT to say that I do not personally struggle. This is acknowledging that society does not see me differently. I am not shamed for not having “bounced back.” No one is asking when I’m gonna pick up working out again or setting a healthy example for my children.

What I need to do with the privilege that I have is speak when other women are backed into a corner. Speak for the woman ahead of me in the grocery store when some ignorant person asks when she’s due, with a small baby in the carrier in plain sight. Chide other women with thin privilege that boast about the weight “just falling off” as they continue to rant about how they just don’t understand why it’s so hard for other women. Obviously, they didn’t breastfeed, right?

Except, not, you twatwaffle. Perhaps that mom is struggling with PPD, and healthy eating, or eating at all, isn’t the top of the list. Maybe that mom is a single mother, with no time to do anything except work, pick up kids from daycare, and swing through the drive thru. That mom might have a serious medical condition that prevents exercise and the medication that keeps her out of the hospital causes her to gain weight.

YOU DON’T KNOW HER STORY. And more importantly, a woman’s worth is not tied to her weight.

It’s time to acknowledge that every mother is a warrior, making the ultimate sacrifice by carrying a child. It changes your body and there are some things that will never bounce back, even with the best diet and exercise regimen.

People with thin privilege need to knock their shit off and speak up against society for the stupid expectations. You may not experience the struggle, but many women around you do. Time to step up for your village.

 

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On Motherhood

Going to Work Isn’t Enough as a Supportive Partner

Getting Real with Kira Hazledine

I still float around my birth board when I’m feeding my infant in the middle of the night and there’s nothing better to do, and I can’t help but peruse the posts where women are asking if men are all the same.

“My husband works long hours, goes out drinking with his buddies, and then comes home to sleep.”

“My significant other is fantastic with the kids, but he doesn’t do much around the house.”

Uhm. No.

All men are not the same. Sure, everyone needs a small kick in the ass sometimes to maintain a healthy relationship (which is why it’s so important to communicate your needs and continue to evolve as a couple). However, for whatever reason, there is some ingrained cultural expectation that the women at home should just handle it all. Men go to work.

If all your significant other does is go to work, they aren’t carrying their weight.

Going to work is not enough. Here’s a short list of all the things I’m taking care of while supposedly sitting on my ass having tea and biscuits as a stay-at-home-mom:

  • Keeping the children alive.
  • Bathing said children.
  • Preparing meals.
  • Daily chores and general upkeep so this place doesn’t look like a dumpster fire.
  • Car maintenance.
  • Grocery shopping.
  • Bills and other financial to-dos.
  • Anything to do with immigration and lawyers for my dual citizen children.
  • Fostering long-distance relationships with HIS family.
  • Providing a nurturing environment for our children by offering opportunities to socialize and develop.
  • Try not to lose my damn mind at the 100th tantrum of the day.
  • Pumping and storing breastmilk so I might be able to leave the house for more than an hour at a time.

And I’m absolutely certain this list is not exhaustive.

But yes, please tell me more about how tough your day at work was. Want to know the biggest difference between the two jobs?

One person gets to clock out.

The stay-at-home-mom role is 24/7. There are no breaks or paid lunches here. There are precious moments when both children are napping at the same time. There are hurried showers because the baby is crying and your toddler is demanding to have their butt wiped.

The sheer emotional and mental stress of what happens at home while someone is at work is profound.

So, no. Going to work is not enough.

And I do understand, my husband does a job that I could never do. Me and nights don’t get along, and long hours would break my mama heart. I would miss my babies, and I know my husband misses his family. But if for one second anyone thinks I’m Suzie Homemaker, welcoming him home with a drink in hand, you are sorely mistaken.

These children are both our responsibility. We both have long days, with different but equally exhausting challenges. We need to support each other, which means my husband may have to come off nights and watch the kids so I can snag some groceries. He will have to play kitchen while I cook dinner in the real one.

And I support my husband. We are a team. I make sure he’s got clean clothes to jump into once he gets home from work so he can get some rest. I like to pack his lunch while he steals moments with his kids. We are in this together. If you’re significant other tries to tell you that they do enough already, ask them what they do besides going to work. Ask them how they ate today, where those clean clothes came from, and how they can find the time to go out with their buddies. Going to work simply isn’t enough.

 

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Let's Talk

To Anti-Vaxxers: What Would You Say at a Funeral?

I have questions.

What would you say to your child, lying in a hospital bed, suffering from a completely preventable disease? A 6 year old Oregon boy contracted the first case of tetanus in 30 years, and after reading the story of his suffering, I have so. many. questions. What did his parents do? Did his mother weep at his bedside, sick with shame and guilt? Or did she pray for him and trust that she still made the right choice? That, live or die, this was how this boy’s life was supposed to go?

Did this mother question every doctor, every nurse, every millimeter of fluids and medicines rushing through her son’s body to save his life? Why was medicine good enough to cure him but not good enough to prevent the disease? Did she breathe a sigh of relief when he recovered and rush every remaining child to the doctor to get vaccinated?

I want to know.

I want to know what this mother would have said at her son’s funeral, had he died.

I’m incredibly curious what any anti-vaxxer would say, whether it was their child’s own funeral or someone else’s.

Would you apologize to me? Would you beg my forgiveness if your unvaccinated, homeschooled child carried measles to my unvaccinated infant too young to receive the immunity, and my infant never recovered? Or would you insist that, since your child is fine, that my child must have been inherently unhealthy. That it’s not your fault, because if the disease was so bad, your child would be dead, too.

What would you say at the funeral of a little girl who was in remission from cancer but died from pertussis? What would you say to her family, crippled by medical and funeral bills, that saw the glimmer at the end of the tunnel and a full life for their baby, only to be struck down by your selfish choice?

Would you cling to your beliefs that vaccines are poison? Would you be able to look a grieving parent in the eye, or in the mirror, and convince yourself that you still don’t believe in modern medicine? Would you be able to come to terms with an empty bedroom, a quiet yard, and a still swing?

I want to know.

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Let's Talk

Would You Opt for “Gender Neutral” on Your Child’s Birth Certificate?

Getting Real with Kira Hazledine

Honestly, I’m not a big fan of the gender neutral mantra. I think the notion (as it stands in current mainstream society) misses the mark. I consider it a third box to shove kids in, as they get lost in a sea of grey and “they.” Nonetheless, I try to understand this new option that progressive states are offering. Rather than select “male” or “female” at the birth of a child, some parents have the option of “neutral.”

Would you hit the neutral box?

This only begins to scratch the service of the gendered problems in society, and if given the opportunity, I might have designated neutral on legal papers. That wouldn’t have prevented me from referring to my son as a boy and my daughter as a girl, but it would’ve offered them legal freedoms in the future.

I’m fully aware that my children will become whomever they decide to be. My children will never be boxed in by gendered expectations, at least not from me. However, strong advocates of this neutral motion claim that children should be referred to as “people.” That there shouldn’t be any type of differentiation, even from birth.

Oh man. It’s a lot, I know. I know that I am privileged as a cis-person (meaning I agree emotionally, mentally, and physically with the gender I was assigned at birth). Despite my openness, even I have a hard time understanding why it’s so important to not have designations at birth if your heart is telling you otherwise.

Whether you agree or not, this might be the direction the world is moving in. Where people are just people, not defined by whatever is between their legs. Yes, there are chromosomal differences between male and female, but DNA doesn’t dictate you who are as a person. It’s also so important to remember that gender and sex are two entirely different things, and by declining to state a gender on birth certificates, we are freeing our children to be who they are meant to be without expectations.

I’m not raising my children to be gender neutral. I say “boy” and “girl,” “son” and “daughter.” I believe that they will be raised in such a way that if anything changes for them, they’ll let me know. I hope that we can work through all of this together, and that they can educate me as necessary as to what the proper terms are for their life.

I’m their mother, but I don’t claim to know it all. I’m only doing my best with the information I have. Perhaps in 30 years they’ll look on our generation in shame that we ever separated people into two separate distinctions, that honestly, mean nothing. If that’s the case, I’ll admit my mistakes every time and vow to do better, because that’s all we can do.

I’m hoping my children can grow up in a world that such silly distinctions don’t hold them back. It would be awesome if by the time they’re of driving age, they won’t even have to list their gender on another legal document. It doesn’t matter now, and it won’t matter then.

Would I put gender neutral on my children’s birth certificate? I think I would. I want to give them all the space possible to decide their place in this world, and I hope more states give the option.

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On Motherhood

To the Moms I Can’t Stand: It’s Not Me, It’s You

Getting Real with Kira Hazledine

Children force at least a little bit of socialization. It’s good for them to make friends, and for our children to do that, it means we have to take them public places. The only real problem is that their moms are usually there, too. No surprise there. It gets worse when your child is friends with another whose mom is someone you would normally steer clear from.

I want to believe that my first attempts at friendships are genuine. I try to be inclusive and not judge other parents, because every child is different and this shit is hard. I want to give people the benefit of the doubt, especially if we are going to be running into each other at the playground regularly. It’s important to be able to play nice.

But, you know what? I don’t want to be friends just because our kids are. I’ll be polite because I’m a grown woman that’s trying to set a good example. And if this were any other setting, I would honestly tell you that I can’t stand you.

Why?

Your child has to be the best at everything. If my child must fail for your child to succeed, we have a problem. Humble bragging isn’t cute. Making everything a competition from first tooth to first step is annoying. Stop.

You let your child be a general nuisance to everyone around. Throwing toys and tantrums every second of every day. Purposefully picking battles with other children, and then sitting back casually as if it’s the most adorable thing and gee, kids will be kids, right? No. Teach your child to do better.

Your village has conditions. If I have to prescribe by certain beliefs, whether it’s religion or how I feed my child, we can’t be buddies, regardless how much my child may love yours. My mom village has no conditions, other than you not be an asshole (and that you vaccinate, because duh). Other than that, I’m pretty accepting of how you choose to keep your child alive.

Who doesn’t want to be friends with those around them? I’ve tried, I really have. But if the above statements apply to you, it’s you that’s the problem. You’re the reason we aren’t friends, and if our kids are still friends as they get older, we might have to break up with you officially. Your child will become the snotty person you are teaching them to be, and that will suck for my child.

No hurt feelings.

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On Motherhood

Body Positivity Should be Part of Every Postpartum Check

Getting Real with Kira Hazledine

Moms already know that waiting six weeks for a postpartum check is bullshit. By the time a doctor gets around to asking you how you’re doing, you’ve already gone through the process of sink or swim. Help should be given much sooner, and there’s so much that needs to be addressed in a postpartum visit. The baby gets several visits after birth, but what about mom?

Instead of simply asking “how are you doing?” we need much more pointed questions, and one should be about our bodies. Our physical perception of ourselves greatly impacts our mental health, and pregnancy is a drastic change. After my first pregnancy, I was shocked at the “new” me. Stretch marks, boobs triple in size, hips that no longer fit into my jeans. My self-esteem took a huge hit. I had to wrangle with seeing someone completely different in the mirror.

It gets worse when every woman is asked about diet and exercise the second she is cleared at a not-so-helpful postpartum visit. There’s a huge push to get your pre-baby body back. There’s no acknowledgement that things will never be the same, but regardless, you should bust your ass to make it happen.

There needs to be a discussion of body positivity. Someone should be asking new moms how they feel about the changes they’ve undergone, not as a mother, but as a person. You were an individual before you had the baby, and it’s important to still recognize that. Yet mothers get lost in the sea of baby needs and forget any aspect of self-care.

The beauty of pregnancy, labor and delivery, and postpartum should be celebrated. A woman’s body is creating life, but as soon as it’s over, it’s not attractive. Every mother is beautiful. What they have accomplished is incredible and it’s time to put a positive spin on it.

It’s time for doctors to ask about the stretch marks and the sausage-size nipples (because how the hell did that happen?!). It’s time for someone to encourage feeling confident in their new skin, regardless of stretch marks. If someone isn’t confident, let’s talk about what we can do to fix it. It’s time for society to forget the stereotype of what a mother should look like postpartum and embrace the reality.

Pregnancy and childbirth are hard. They are painful. The experience is a significant trauma to the body.

Mothers have been through one hell of a battle. Can we please acknowledge them for the warriors they are? It’s not an overnight process to love your new body, but it would be much easier if we talked about it. It’s not vanity, it’s self-love. There’s a difference, and your perception of yourself as a mother AND a person is more important than you’ve been led to believe.

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Parenting

13 Signs Winter Has Gotten the Best of You

Getting Real with Kira Hazledine

I am a summer child. I despite winter and everything about it. I don’t enjoy snow, or cold, or skiing, or anything related to winter. It’s not fun. I don’t like sweaters or hot cocoa or curling up by the fire. I want a beach and ocean waves and the hot sun. And you know why? Because I am slowly losing. my. mind. The children are cagey. I’m cagey. And I know this winter isn’t even close to being over. I wasn’t even trying to be optimistic about the cold season, but this is ridiculous.

Here are the obvious signs winter is winning the war:

  1. You’ve lost all track of days of the week.
  2. You only leave the house when you’re out of groceries, and even then, cereal for dinner is acceptable.
  3. You don’t remember when anyone has showered last. Not you, not the kids, no one is clean. It’s fine, your sweat glands are frozen anyway.
  4. When you do shower, you change from one set of pajamas to another.
  5. The amount of allowed screen time is slowly increasing to avoid having to leave the house for a play date. Play dates = germs.
  6. Your hands are stained white from cleaning with straight peroxide.
  7. You will literally burn the house down if the kids get ANOTHER cold or virus. Let the germs have it.
  8. The house has been demolished by the kids and you have lost all motivation to pick up any more toys.
  9. You can no longer distinguish the clean pile from the dirty pile of laundry.
  10. The children have discovered new and creative ways to irritate you and each other.
  11. The amount of shoveling happening is close to equaling child labor.
  12. Snow in the forecast makes you want to puke.
  13. You decide that below freezing really isn’t that cold if the kids want to go out and play. Anything to get some fresh air and some space.