Lazy kidless Saturdays… just baking up doggy treats

Trio are with their dad (read about my intentions here) and for this visit I wrote out some ideas of what I could do while they’re away.

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Lofty, to say the least

Well, I have about 30 hours until I’m trio-ed up again and, I’m sure you savvy readers have noticed, there is nothing yet crossed off.

However! I have done other stuff. And I contemplated writing these items on the list, just for the satisfaction of being able to record and remove list items (oh come on, we all do it.) but did not.

One of the things I have done:

This morning Pup-po and I made him some doggy bikkies. I thought of you, and wondered whether you’d like this perfect time-killer to fill up the edges of time in your world when you’re looking to ignore more productive things-you-should-be-doing. It’s easy enough so you think “Oh, that’s a small thing and it will make doggy so happy!” and yet active enough so you’re not ruminating or dwelling or listlessly (ha!) staring at the wall [hm, i’m sure there’s a better joke in there for a better joker. LMK if you see it and can articulate it]

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Easy ingredients, right? If your dog tolerates wheat better than mine, please use that. My lil dude seems to have an sensitivity to it. I swirled up 1/3 cup of rolled oats to become more flour-like.

We need a cup of something – I just used a trifecta of binding agents that I had on hand: 1/3 cup of ground up oats, 1/3 cup of whole oats, 1/3 cup quinoa flour – you can use whatever you like. I wanted to channel my Tasty capabilities, so I used the smaller glass dish and poured that trifecta into said dish.

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Next is some baby food, or that amount of pureed anything. I had peas and bananas on hand, so I figured a peas-and-carrots bikkie might be nice for him. I grated in a 1/3 cup of raw carrot (it was half-a-carrot, but my carrot was kinda small).

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I am a *HUGE* cinnamon lover. Everything gets a dash. I was a little worried how it might taste with the peas and carrots, but then I realized that this is a dog cookie. He’s not going to care! I added cinnamon, but only after I accidentally used nutmeg (a total fail) because I put the nutmeg canister where the cinnamon usually lives. Sigh. I carefully scraped out the nutmeg and sprinkled in about 1/2 teaspoon.

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It came together ok. I let it sit, thinking that the oats could absorb some of the baby food. But it never really got much drier. I probably should have used more flour (but srsly. Quinoa flour is super expensive) but did not use any more, and it’s FINE!

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I even bought a cute little bone cookie cutter just for him. Bake it in a 350 deg oven (or if yours runs hot like mine, 325, otherwise they get brown and crispy at the edges, and chewy in the centre. Unless you think your friend will like them that way. I feel as though an all-the-way crispy bikkie would be good, and that way I can just leave them in a paper bag on the counter) for about 20 – 30 minutes.

Let me know what combinations you used! I think I might try peanut and banana next.

 

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Poor dude just wanted his cookie, and I chased him down saying “Wait! Wait! Sit! ah-ah! Sit!” just for the photo!

He’s such a trooper “D’oh, ok mom. Fine.”

 

Keep Calm and Parent On

 

It sure would have been nice had I realized how easy the baby phase was. It seemed so hard at the time! (really. i’m not whining.)

We can’t do the same things with our pre-teens and tweens as with our babies and toddlers. While we can just pick up those little ones and cart them away if their behaviour is truly heinous, dragging a 13 year old away from the arcade would be unheard of. Or we can take their little toddler hand in ours and just say “Hands are not for hitting” and then we continue on. Lesson reinforced. “Mouths are not for swearing” just doesn’t seem to reinforce the lesson as well in an 11 year old.

One similarity between the age groups is that we want their struggles to be, well, not-a-struggle. From the time they are little, we want to mitigate the tough spots, make it less of a challenge… We want math to come easy to them. We want them to just tie their shoes. Sleeping, it would be a true gift for them to self-soothe at any time. Fine motor skills (scissors! knife-and-fork rhythms! pulling apart lego!) are cause for frustration as it hinders the real goal.

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Perfect frustration developer

In a two-parent family, there is often a code – when one parent just can’t do *any* more soothing, or cutting, or explaining number lines, the other parent is tagged in.  As you can imagine (or maybe because you live it) a different approach is needed when there is no one on the ropes ready to jump in while you catch your breath (or swipe a kleenex over your frustrated tears) and help the kiddo in their struggle with renewed patience and gentle guidance.

So what’s a solo-parent to do?

Really? Well, sometimes we do it for them. Okay, maybe most of the time.*

In the middle of the struggle, this works wonderfully. Kids are able to glue their picture together now that the pesky business of snipping the image is done. French toast can be gleefully dipped in maple syrup, in perfect mum-cut squares. And I’d wager that it seems wonderful for years.
Until it’s not.
For any number of reasons, the kiddo needs to learn how to self soothe. How to use their cutlery. How to deal with frustrations. How to be sad.

By inadvertently doing for our kiddos, they’ve missed some important [albeit small-scale] lessons on handling big emotions. And until those small scale lessons become larger, we don’t even notice that there’s a problem.

My oldest, angry and frustrated that he couldn’t do something he felt he should be able to do, told me to back-off when I swooped in to try and make it right for him. “Don’t help me unless I’ve asked for it! I want to try and do it for myself. I’m not a little kid!”
Oh. Right. Well.

It was a big parenting moment for me.
And I wondered whether other parents were experiencing similar moments in their relationships with their 8-14 year olds. And guess what – they were.

So, in no particular order, some points from my experiences on how not to just swoop in and do for your older kids (and foster their capacity to do for themselves):

In the moment of struggle:

  • Take a breath (a breath to send clean green patience to your heart and brain and centre your love for your kiddo)
  • Ask before helping.
  • Wiggle your toes if you’re feeling triggered (sometimes it helps to climb out down out of your brain’s chatter into your grounded feet)
  • Describe what you see that makes you think they need help and then ask what’s up
  • Be a “feeling detective” with your kiddo and ask what’s next (sometimes it’s a hug, or a break, or an ice cream – but that switch can be the clean green patience they need to re-engage with the struggle)

During more calm moments:

  • Listen for dismissive words you use and your tone of voice
  • Talk about your big emotions, and talk through what you’re going to do to come back into yourself – even if it seems they aren’t listening. And even if it feels clunky and weird. It’s important.
  • Let kiddo screw up (safely!) and be present with them while they sort it out – but make sure you have the time and the heart space to make it happen in a non-judgmental way
  • Listen to their viewpoints. Respect what’s happened to bring them to this idea. Even when you disagree. They’ll figure things out.
  • You make mistakes (I mean, you must, right?). Be gentle with yourself, and model what you can do next.
  • Comment on what you see, especially related to feelings detective stuff – they can connect when they are calm and progressing vs upset and stuck

As parents, we put out the fires that are blazing in and around our kids – timelines are tight! We can’t have a kid losing his cool over a button when we’re already 6 minutes off schedule! So we just do it for him.

And as a single mum, I know that sometimes I just need peace and harmony in the house because I am too tired/sick/stressed so I ‘fix’ their issues because I can’t afford the issue to get any bigger because I’m. already. at. my. edge!

In either case, we haven’t taught our kids how to recognize the sparks of the fire and be confident they can tackle them- on their own but within the reach of support from their parent(s).

I say it’s not too late. So, to wit: It feels wiggly in my belly, and my ears are kind of getting hot. I’m worried I’ll run out of time or create a kid-who-talks-to-himself. But the more I force encourage trio to do it, means that they are doing it, and they’ll continue to do it into teenager-hood and maybe, just maybe, they’ll come to me with their big teenage emotions and mistakes and we’ll talk it out together.

And they will feel they can tackle it, on their own but within reach of support from me.

KeepCalmStudio.com-[Two-Hearts]-Keep-Calm-And-Parent-On

 

*Unless we don’t do it for them because we’re not able to – for any number of reasons we may not be present (emotionally or physically) to do for them. I still believe that doing very little and letting kiddo figure it all out is the other side to the same coin as doing very much and not letting kiddo figure out much of anything.

…happy new year!

Goals! Not resolutions.

An item I’ve forever been trying to cross off my mental list is “Become Organized.” I frequently have a variation of this concept on a list* that rolls into the next, or I just abandon it altogether.

most clutter   more clutter

Is this a behaviour or a personality trait?

Li’l Miss asked me the other night about changing her personality so kids at school might like her better (peer relationships can be tough for her) and we began chatting about what that means (following this thread for a moment: I don’t want her to ever think subjugating her own sense of self for the perceived opinions of others is ok. We also chatted about that). And while I made it seem perfectly clear to her, I ruminated a bit about it after we said goodnight.

My personality might drive my behaviours, and my personality might be driven by my experiences (experiences derived from my behaviours?) … I don’t want to overthink it, but they all seem very closely related so I’m not surprised she had questions.

However! It is true that I can be quite cluttered, and have a tendency to be fairly pack-rat-ish: due to some past experience affecting my personality and/or behaviours, it doesn’t actually matter why or how I got this way because…

My choice now is: Let it go, or go love it.

aaaand I don’t love it. I feel all this *stuff* pressing in on me and I don’t think it’s good for my insides, for my kids to see, nor for cleanliness.

cluttery   clutter

So I will let it go. This is a goal I have for this winter. (shh shh little voice that pipes up inside my head that says “But what if we need that old wooden board? What if someone, anyone, asks us for the old black gown that I will *never* fit in again?” so shh little voice. I will give you a hug and tell you it’s all ok. We’ll figure it out if that happens.)

Yay! This is so exciting! So liberating!

 

 

*or several – I guess my lists are no better organized than my junk drawer… huh? Organized people don’t have junk drawers?! Okay, then.