Posts Tagged ‘toddlers’

Beach, Bisque and Bathrooms

Yang Mommy

Imagine a lovely mom n’ pop restaurant on a beachy island. Perfect ambiance, honest food, good service.  It’s also the last day of your family vacation, so you’re looking forward to a little celebrating at the dinner table.   The tomatoes on the salad are ruby-red and farm-fresh, the newly baked brown bread steams with delight,  the shrimp are gianormous and cooked perfectly and the crab bisque….ahh, that sensuous, mouth-watering, swooningly-delicious fresh soup.  All is peaceful and serene, right?

Well you know I’m going to say “no.”  See, my toddler is in the midst of potty training.  And just as I’m about to crunch on the crispy lettuce, she flashes her bright blue eyes at me and says, “Mommy, I have to go potty.”  OK, this is great, I think.  I praise her effusively and off we go to the ladies’ room as I spare a parting shot at my dinner.

We can do this quickly and efficiently, I tell myself.  Shouldn’t be a problem.  So immediately my bossy mantra starts of “don’t touch anything” followed by “stand still” and “wait one more second.”  All of which are answered by “why” in a Smurfette voice as she dances on her toes, trying to twirl in the little coral and seashell decorated stall. 

I can feel my own adrenaline start to pound, so I quickly cover the toilet seat in toilet paper for her to sit on.  Oops!  It falls to the floor. Try again.  Dang, it falls off again!  This can’t be happening, I think.  I mean, it’s just toilet paper! I rush to replace it and cover the seat again while my daughter tries not to wet herself.  Finally, I get her on the seat and she does her business. 

My mantra continues of “don’t touch” while I clean her up and get another pull-up on (“why??!” she croons, just itching to disobey).  In my haste to return to my to-die-for bisque, I rip the pull-up in half! OMG, I’m such an idiot, I think!  I frantically search my purse (for I’m without my diaper bag) for another one and thank the beach gods, I find one. 

Bless her little toddler heart, she needs to hold onto me to balance while we put each foot in.  But instead of resting her wee hands on my shoulders, she believes that sticking her fingers in my ears would be better.  Uh…not for mom!  Of course, I lose my own balance and summarily fall backwards, slamming into the stall door.  She giggles, I groan.  At last, after what was probably only 10 minutes but felt like ten years, we wash up and return to our seafood feast.

Now I was very glad that my tot went to the bathroom without any messy incidents.  Even if she needed to go before every course that was laid before me.  Which was three, for the record (I was too pooped for dessert).  The praises ceased to be so effusive, too.  After the 3rd time, I chugged what wine was left, stared my husband in the eye and clearly enunciated that if there was a 4th time, he could take it on.  With that, I tuned everyone out and dug into my ahi tuna.  Bliss…..

Lessons I Learned at Toddler Swim Classes

Yang Mommy

This is my second tour of duty at toddler swim classes.  During my time, I’ve learned some invaluable nuggets of wisdom that I’d like to share with all you brave parents and care-givers, who are willing to get kicked, splashed and mauled in the water with a toddler.  (Please note that if I haven’t experienced the below scenarios, I’ve assuredly witnessed them!)

Ten Things I’ve Learned at Aquatots

  • Arrive early to class.  Putting a swimsuit on an excited 2 yr old is like trying to catch fish with your bare hands.  It takes patience!
  • Establish your pool rules.  Do it before leaving the comfort of your home, again in the ride over, again in the locker room and again on the pool deck.  repetition, repetition!  Else wise, you may end up with the dreaded “time-out.”
  • Don’t be afraid/hesitant/embarrassed to issue a “time-out” while in the pool.  You may need to sit them on steps or on the side of the pool, but discipline is discipline, no matter the locale.  Don’t worry, only the teenage lifeguards will give you strange looks if your child is howling in protest; the rest of the parents will be eyeing you with sympathy as they think, “Oh, glad it’s  not my child.”
  • Bring extra swim diapers.  Even if your tot is pretty good at using the toilet at home, there’s something about the pool that decreases inhibitions about peeing in it.  And, you never know what harried parent may  have forgotten their own supply of “swimmies!”  (And don’t forget the wipes, too!)
  • Bring two towels.  Yes, sounds like a “duh” but I’ve seen several parents shivering on the pool deck after class because they only brought one towel with them for their kid.
  • Bring a snack.  It’s simple enough to bring in a granola bar or piece of fruit and some juice for the after-swim time.  Kids get really hungry after all that water play.  So either tote it along in your bag or keep it in the car, but please, feed those hungry kiddies!
  • Wear water-proof mascara, ladies.  If you’re going to wear any at all, make sure it’s water-proof.  Nothing scarier than seeing a woman enthusiastically tell her child to “Jump in, honey!”  while tears of black run down her face like a crazed clown.
  • Wear appropriate swimsuits.  Toddler swim classes are not the place to flaunt your sexy new string bikini and flash your mammories (or Speedos, men).   Unless you want the lifeguard to ogle you as your top inevitably falls off because your child just saw a crazed clown and is clinging to you like a rabid monkey.
  • Follow your instincts in the water.  Most aquatot classes are designed for 1-3 year olds.  They’re not going to graduate the class knowing the butterfly stroke!  The intention with most of these classes is simply to get your child used to the water, having their ears and head under the water, and knowing to kick up if they are indeed,  under water.  So even if the instructor is bellowing out orders to “Float on your stomachs!” and your tot doesn’t want to, OK.  Don’t force them, just encourage them.  And if they really don’t want to, then at least you’re having fun with them in the water.
  • Leave the cameras at home.  I understand you want pics of your kids swimming and jumping, but if you are the only parent at the pool, there is absolutely no place for a camera.  All your attention must be focused on your child at all times.  Instead, leave the shutterbugging to a friend or spouse.
  • Have fun!  Most of all, enjoy your time in the water with your tot.  Even if the diaper’s leaking and they’re sitting on the steps screaming about not wanting to be in time-out because they pulled your swimsuit straps down for the third time.  Even then…

YIN:

My daughter started taking swim lessons around the age of 8 months because we live in Florida and there are numerous accidents and deaths every year in the state when kids fall in pools/lakes/canals and don’t know what to do. I was determined to get her in some sort of class early on so that a fear of water would not overcome her and she could have a healthy respect for it. 

My daughter took a very different swim class than the one Yang describes above.  And to that I say “thank goodness!”  I don’t think I could handle a swimming class with multitudes of children of different levels splashing around while I’m in the pool with them.   It’s just not my thing.  My daughter had individualized instruction and the term “swimming lessons” is really a misnomer.  It was more of a learning how to turn over and stay afloat if the baby falls in the water – the very basics for a tiny child. 

This was perfect for us.  I got to stay on the sidelines (and take the pictures) while my daughter and her instructor had their 20 minute lesson three times a week. At first the thought of going that often was daunting but the lessons were in the morning so she just went before going to daycare and I went to work a little late those days.  She didn’t like it getting in the pool at the start but eventually she warmed up to her teacher and the pool. 

Unfortunately due to some health issues my daughter hasn’t been able to continue her swimming lessons.  The group that certified her teacher, Infant Swimming Resource, is very strict and if the child has had certain illnesses in a restricted time period they can’t continue the lessons.  While this is a little challenging, I appreciate their concern and anticipate my daughter taking lessons again soon.  When she does start up again she’ll still be in individual classes as she progresses and I think I’ll keep it that way for a while so she can get personalized attention. 

My best tip to anyone, no matter where they live, to get your child swimming lessons as soon as possible.  Not only is swimming great exercise and a perfect way to cool down on a hot day, but according to the Center for Disease Control “fatal drowning remains the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death in children ages 1 to 14”.  If you’re not sure where to get swimming lessons from check out ISR or your local YMCA. Or ask a friend who has a child who takes lessons.  No matter the type of swimming class you choose for your child, it could be something that eventually saves their life.

Have Toddler Will Travel

YIN:

Currently my family and I are zipping north on the Florida Turnpike headed to Disney World to celebrate my daughter’s 2nd birthday. What was I thinking?

It’s about 3-4 hours for us to get there and we don’t have a SUV. So the car is packed to the gills with a playpen (that I’m sure she’ll refuse to sleep in), luggage, a stroller and a small cooler of food. Oh and three people.

We don’t own a portable DVD player because I’m old school and think that children should entertain themselves in the car instead of being zoned into submission. There has already been the requisite meltdown but I blame myself because in all the packing and planning I forgot to make a sandwich for her. We stopped at what has to be the worst service plaza on the FL Turnpike (sorry Port St. Lucie) and got her some peanut butter crackers and now she’s sleeping.

Once we get to the hotel we’ll hit the pool and then Downtown Disney later. Tomorrow the Magic Kingdom awaits. Judging by how excited she was to see a Mickey Mouse shot glass (yes they make them) at the plaza I’m sure the day will be a hit. We’ll be breaking the day in half so we can all get a nap and still maybe be able to watch the night parade.

I love traveling and we often take our daughter on trips. Even though the effort of traveling with a toddler is tedious, and I always forget something, it will be worth it if my daughter ends up loving getting to see the world as much as I do.

We’re taking Amtrak to New York and Washington DC in August. I’ve got to see about getting that portable DVD player I’ve been avoiding.

YANG  MOMMY

I just think Yin Mama is so brave to travel via train with a toddler! And a little nuts, but bravery does involve a little bit of insanity, afterall.  We’ve taken several long road trips with our tot, about 4 1/2 hours each direction for vacation, but have not yet attempted other means of transport. In fact, since having our daughter, the radius of our vacation destinations seems to have shrunk compared to pre-tot days. It’s all our own doing, of course.

See, I’m rather intimidated to go on a plane with my toddler.  Instead of envisioning a fun vacation ahead of me, I conjure up the enormous list of what I’d have to pack just for her, including toys/books for the plane ride, let alone clothes,wipes, etc. It seems like a monumental task, yet moms just like Yin do it all the time. I have a mommy friend who took her pre-schooler around the world to the Philipines! And another who just returned from vacation at the Magic Kingdom with 2 kids under the age of 3. Both moms survived intact and had tremendous vacations.

Despite my trepidations of tot travel, I too have the travel bug like Yin Mama, which was instilled into me at a very young age.  When I was 18mths old, my parents flew from NY to London with me, so that I could meet family members and be baptized in the family church. I don’t remember a thing, of course, but it’s a great story to tell. I want my daughter to see the world too, to experience new cultures and meet all sorts of people. But at the age of 2, I don’t think she’d remember anything. But I would, right…?

So as I type this, I’m mentally chewing on the idea of all of us going to Tuscany next spring to visit family. Under the Tuscan sun, tot in tow. Hmmm….maybe the reward of going there will be enough for me to pack us all up and attempt the travel challenge!

Playground Etiquette?

Yang Mommy

I’m actually laughing at myself as I write this; I mean really, is there such a thing as “playground etiquette?” Sure there are rules, like don’t run in front of the swings, but etiquette? I’m not sure.

See, here’s the thing. The other day we were at the playground. It was a gloriously sunny day and the place was busy, but not packed. I was helping my little girl navigate the stairs up to the slide and there were several older kids around us. I’d say they were about 7 yrs old or so.  Anyway, we were next in queue when one of these other kids moved in front of us. Her mom, who was down below and in full sight of what was going on, said, “Wait your turn.” But the child ignored her mom and proceeded to move past us and went down the slide along with her 2 friends/siblings.

For once, I was at a lost for words. I was amazed, actually. I think the mom did the right thing by saying something, but still, her child didn’t listen and cut in front of us. I suppose it’s one thing for a kid to cut in front of a younger child, but an adult too? And once the kids got down, their mom didn’t say  boo about what they’d done (and yes readers, she saw).

So what should I have done? Should I have reinforced their mom’s call and said “Yes, please wait your turn?” Should I have stepped up and pushed them aside so my tot could go? Should I have said, “You may go ahead of us this one time but next time, wait your turn?” Should I have said anything to the mother, or have thrown her “the look?”

Because this was the first time this has happened to us, I did nothing. Again, I was rather amazed. Perhaps it’s because this is my first child and I’m learning the playground ropes myself. But I’m curious, dear readers, what have you encountered on the playground and how have you handled it?

Table Tricks for Picky Eaters

YANG MOMMY

I’ve yet to meet a young child who ate everything on their plate with gusto all the time, and without making a mess. In fact, I could apply this to men too, but I’ll stay within the realm of young children for this post. Young kids are notoriously picky eaters. “You’ll have to introduce the same food at least 10 times before a child will eat it,” say the doctors and pedia books. This doesn’t seem to apply to cookies or chocolate, does it, just the nutritious foods they need to eat! What they really mean to say is, “Keep giving them the same food until you wear them down.”

And just think of all the money we’d save if we didn’t need to buy bibs or floor mats to catch all that food that we keep re-introducing. Of course, if you have a dog, you may be less likely to need a floor mat or Dust Buster to pick up the scraps. But I’d rather not change my child’s clothes after every meal, so a catchy-bib is de rigueur wardrobe for dining.

Nevertheless, I’ve come up with some “table tricks” that not only save me from having to reintroduce every food item my daughter doesn’t instantly like, but also saves on the clean-up factors, ultimately leading to the manna of every mom, More Me Time!

  • “The No Pile”:  Before every meal I indicate a space on my daughter’s plate or the table where the food she doesn’t like will go.  I encourage her to taste new things first, but instead of throwing any “yucky” food on the floor, she now pointedly puts it in her “no pile.” (This works only after the “testing gravity” stage of older babies.)
  • Food Games: In our house, we now have Jumping Green Beans (beans that make her jump when she eats them), Laughing Beans, Disappearing Carrots (they make her invisible whilst chewing) and Makes-You-Fast Asparagus (as if she needed any more speed!). All of these culinary techniques tend to result in little girly giggles as she jumps/laughs/hides/runs in place from Mom and giggles from Mom at having outwitted her little girl.
  • “Mine!”: Playing upon the toddler motto of “what’s yours is mine and what’s mine is mine,” I tell her that Daddy will eat her unwanted food. Quickly, she’ll reach for it and eat it because there’s no way Daddy, or anyone else, is going to eat her food! Note that this is not a failsafe method especially if she actually wants to share. (And she tends to share only what she doesn’t love, LOL!)
  • Creative Cooking: There are lots of ways to hide food within food, but some kids just don’t go for it; their taste buds are too clever. But funnily enough, I’ve found different preparations of the same food item can work. For instance, steamed broccoli ends up in the no pile, but a bowl of broccoli cheese soup is licked clean. Spinach on its own is a highly developed taste, but diced spinach mixed with mac and cheese (or hidden in chili–in fact, lots of veggies can be hidden in chili) is rarely  noticed. And one friend labels her food differently, too, such as fish sticks become “ocean fries.” Mmm!
  • Bribery: The old stand-by, coercion.  When all else fails, I urge my daughter to eat her food by promising some of her favorites for dessert, like various fruits or yogurt.
  • Dips and Sauces: Toddlers love to explore new things, so why not introduce some healthy sauces to the old-standbys? Like yogurt w/ a touch of cucumber to dip in, or homemade BBQ sauce. At my table, ketchup is making everything taste better lately.

Ah, the tricks we parents resort to in order to get our kids to eat healthy! Tell us if you have any tips, too; we’d love to hear from you!