Saturday, May 4, 2013

Brothers | An afternoon at the park + the ultimate parenting book (in my opinion)

this was crazy. i need some bungee cords for the bike...
Lately, life has been difficult with Sebastian. He's had a hard time with transitions of any and every kind (it's time for bed, lunch, to go to the store, etc.) even though we are diligent about giving him ample warning of our plans. As we approach his 3rd birthday, I've been reflecting on this thing called parenting. Until age 2, things were pretty simple with Sebastian. He went down for naps and bedtime with ease, he was happy in any situation and went with the flow of things, and although he's been a picky eater for a while, we never had problems getting him to sit down at a meal. This can be frustrating, and there have been times where I've been at my wit's end. But what I'm realizing about all of this is that this is actually what is supposed to happen.

Now let me clarify: the part that is supposed to happen is that Sebastian is supposed to grow up. He is supposed to form his own opinions, and desire to follow his plans and ideas for things. He is fighting to become an individual, distinct from his parents. The part that is not supposed to happen, or maybe I should say, happen for long, is this extended period of agitation, discontent, and need to always assert his opinion and stick with it until the bitter end.

I am learning, thanks to this incredibly helpful and inspiring book (go buy it now!), that when Sebastian displays this kind of behavior, he is having a difficult time with a change, there's too much stress or stimulation, or he is simply struggling to understand how to assert his individuality. He didn't just magically become a bratty kid. This book has already helped us tremendously in figuring out how to create a more peaceful, enriching environment for Sebastian, and you know what? It's not even been a week and there is a marked difference in him. He is back to his cheerful, goofy self the majority of the day. We still have struggles, but they're spotty, and we're working through them in a healthy way.

A few things we've done:
-When he needs mommy, he gets mommy (Okay, when this is possible).

-TV time has been drastically reduced. For the first few days we cut it out completely. Since then, I ask him if he wants to watch something for a bit, instead of waiting for him to request a movie when he's at an emotional low. This means that he's not filling his emptiness with a movie, but is learning to work through tough situations with play. Even with this small difference, he's been able to handle the end of TV time much better.

-And probably most important, I'm working on my attitude. I'm trying to react more calmly, gently, and lovingly when he's acting out. From the book, "'When your child seems to deserve affection least, that's when they need it most.'" I'm also trying to take him outside more.

As I was reading more of Simplicity Parenting last night, I came to this quote:

"Nature is a warm sensory bath that can counterbalance the cold overwhelm of too much activity, information, or 'stuff.' Time in nature calms and focuses; for most children, it takes only a few minutes for them to begin to explore. Watch as they seek out places that feel particularly right to them, as they gather symbolic objects—leaves, sticks, bits of moss—that they discover. You can't manipulate nature, it must be delved into; it's a vibrant but neutral canvas onto which a child can pour their creativity."

Watching Sebastian take off yesterday chasing a squirrel was proof enough for me of the truth of this statement. Also, a toddler chasing a squirrel might be the funniest thing on earth.

Someday I dream of having a great outdoor space for our children so they can have nature more readily accessible to them. Just for fun, here are a few of my favorite ideas: built in slide (i tend to be overly cautious when it comes to playgrounds—I'm not the only one who thinks they're deadly—so i love the idea of a slide that i don't have to worry about my kids falling off of...), and check out this post about creating an outdoor play space. I really kind of just want some large mounds of dirt. Growing up, there were a few construction projects my parents did, which created mountains of dirt for summers at a time. I remember building stairs into the dirt mountains, alcoves, and even bringing some old rugs up to the flat spaces. In my mind, it was like living here.

P.S. More of these brothers... specifically this post. Oh, and for posterities sake, Sebastian calls a teeter totter a "tigger tiger."


  1. You're so beautiful in every way, mama.

  2. Someday I will have to venture into parenting that requires more effort than figuring out which baby puree James needs today. That will be a frightening day... But until then, I'll just read your blog for great advice and book recommendations and the encouragement that it CAN be done, even with two little persons.