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My Son is a Milestone Slow Poke

 

My little guy is kind of a slow poke.

I don’t mean with running, because that kid is FAST. I mean he’s slow with developmental milestones. He was slow to crawl, slow to walk, and slow to talk. (But he was 9 pounds at birth, and got all of his teeth well before 18 months, so there’s that).

Like many naive new parents, I always thought my kid would be the fastest kid to learn new skills, and achieve milestones. He was going to be breaking records and just impressive all around. A Guinness book of world record baby for over all genius-ness and brilliance.

That vision didn’t materialize, and I currently have a sweet, beautiful baby who isn’t in a hurry to achieve milestones at a fast or even traditional speed.

Here’s the deal: His doctor isn’t worried, so I’m not worried. Well, let’s be real here, I’m my usual level of nervous wreck about this as I am with everything else. So all in all pretty good for me.

In all seriousness, my kid is happy and healthy. His speed at achieving milestones doesn’t reflect on his intelligence, my intelligence, my parenting ability, or anything really. He’s just a kid, discovering the world at his own pace, albeit a slower pace.

He’s a toddler, and I’m not in a hurry to make him to grow up. He’ll get where he needs to go, but on his own timeline. And while it is definitely not what I expected when I entered motherhood, this has been a good exercise for me in patience and humility.

Milestones are just that, markers on a long journey. He’ll get there. And if we get to the point where we need to seek help for him? We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Do you have a kiddo who was exceptionally slow (or fast!) at achieving their milestones? Tell me all about it in the comments below!

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When You Can’t Seem to Get Crap Done

Before I had my son, I was the queen of productivity. I could clean the entire house in one afternoon. I would make a to-do list, finish everything on it and then some. If I wanted something done, I got it done.

Now that I have entered motherhood, most of what I can accomplish is limited to the small window of nap time. If I attempt chores any other time, they are constantly interrupted by tiny hands that need love and attention. On top of that, ever since becoming a mother my ability to focus isn’t what it used to be. That to-do list I used to be able to bust out in one afternoon takes a few days.

This is honestly one of the changes in my life I have struggled with the most in motherhood. Trying to find time to accomplish what I need to get done, what my family needs, and somehow maintain some semblance of sanity.

I’m still working on remembering that my value isn’t determined by what I can accomplish. No one is grading me on what portion of my to-do list gets done. It’s fantastic when I can get things done, but when I can’t, that’s ok too. It’s ok to stop what I’m doing when my little guy needs me, or even if I just need to steal a few moments for myself.

I’m working on remembering that it is necessary and essential to take time for myself. Time for toddler cuddles. (When my busy little guy slows down to cuddle of course).

I’m not any less of a wife or a mother if I can’t accomplish everything on my list.

If everyone is taken care of and happy then that is what matters.

What has been your biggest struggle with transitioning to motherhood? (Or fatherhood?).

 

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Before You Get Mad at a Loud Kid, Read This

As you know or can imagine, traveling with kids is just a complete joy (Insert thick sarcasm here). They get thrown off of their routines, they don’t sleep well, and while they remain adorable through all of this they also become unmanageable little terrors.

We had the privilege of being able to attend my brother’s graduation at the end of last month. We’d struggled for the previous day and half with basically no naps for our toddler, and it had been physically and mentally exhausting. We were completely wiped out.

I finally got the tired little toddler to sleep. He hadn’t napped that day, or the day before, and it was nothing short of a miracle that I got him down so close to his bedtime.

I heard a knock on the door, so I assumed my husband must have forgotten his key when he ran out for snacks.

They continued knocking loudly, and incessantly. I ran over to the door, pulled it open, and it was a small child. They couldn’t have been any older than 7. They looked startled that it was a stranger opening the door, and said very loudly, “Sorry I thought this was my sisters”.

I said (quietly, in an effort to keep my toddler asleep), “I have a baby sleeping, please go”, and I closed the door.

I was concerned about the light coming through the open door, and the noise from the conversation, and my whole goal was to get them away as fast as possible so I that I could keep my sweet toddler asleep.

The longer I sat in that room, the angrier I got. I had a flurry of aggravated thoughts spinning through my exhausted brain. I sat there in that dark hotel room and just stewed in my frustration.

My husband came back with snacks, and by then I was just fuming.

He simply, and wisely after agreeing that it was an absolute relief that our sweet toddler had remained asleep, “It was just a kid”.

Then it hit me. As much as I am in denial about my son getting older, in a few years…that will be my son. That will be him annoying random strangers, doing his best to remember but regularly forgetting the “good manners”, and etiquette I’ll do my best to teach him. Kids aren’t tiny grown ups, and they are just trying to figure out a world that has countless rules, written and unwritten, official and unofficial.

If it were my son, I would hope that a stranger would treat him with kindness and patience. I would hope that they wouldn’t make assumptions about my parenting, and that they realize he is still learning.

Just like the rest of us, they are just trying to figure out the world.

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Why “Never go to Bed Angry” is Utter and Complete Garbage Advice

Before you tell me I’m wrong, hear me out. 

My husband and I don’t fight very often, but when we do, 99% of the time we are exhausted, right before bedtime. We’re fighting because we are exhausted, not because of a real reason or issue. We’re worn out, frustrated, and just…done.

Instead of continuing to fight, we head to bed and go to sleep. We wake up in the morning, apologize for being buttheads, and move on.

Why on earth would we continue to fight when the only reason we are fighting is because we are exhausted? It’s ridiculous to say that we can’t sleep because we need to resolve something that is only happening because we are tired. 

That silly standard of “never go to bed angry” puts us in what I can only think the call the eternal circle of idiocy. It’s inefficient, exhausting, and I refuse to participate in it. 

It’s important when it comes to going to bed angry, that you follow these rules:

1. Sleep in the same bed.

It might be on opposite sides, as far apart as possible facing in opposite directions. But you don’t want to start off the next day divided. So suck it up and sleep in your bed together. 

2. You don’t have to go to bed at the same time.

You aren’t ready to hit the hay yet, and they are? No problem! They can head to bed, you can put on your favorite show (it can even be something that your spouse hates!), and join them for some slumber when you are ready!

3. If you aren’t over it in the morning, have breakfast before any discussion.

After you both have bellies full of food, then get to resolving your issue. Hangry feelings are the last thing a calm discussion needs. 

4. Some issues can’t wait.

I am well aware that some things can’t wait until morning. You know your marriage, and what works for you. 

What’s the best (or worst!) marriage advice you have ever received? Let me know in the comments below!

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7 Ways to Turn Someone’s Day Around

I had another one of those days. A day that didn’t turn out awesome. It started out fine, and basically went to crap as the day wore on.

I’ve become moderately obsessed with vinyl, and I was at the very end of a complex project, and I messed it up. It was a layered project and while putting it together I didn’t align it right, and I ruined the entire thing.

So I wasted my time (and wasted the vinyl). That was going to be my win for the day. A day that had been rough anyway, and the botched project just cemented the crummy-ness of it all.

I spent more time than I would like to admit feeling sorry for myself. About the vinyl, about the rest of my day.

That night, I recieved a very kind text. It was from someone I don’t know very well, but it was what I needed.

And then the next day, I had two similar conversations at work. Conversations about how much I was appreciated. And really, it was just for me doing my job. Nothing crazy.

These weren’t family members, best friends, or anyone who knew me well enough to know I was having a rough day. None of these people knew that I was feeling sorry for myself. They were just letting me know how much they appreciated me.

We don’t always know when someone was struggling. But it never hurts to throw some kindness or appreciation out there.

Will you do me a favor? Do this for someone today. Be the person that brings a person out of their sadness, reminds them of their worth, and helps them pick their pieces up and move forward.

Today, tell someone…

1. How much they mean to you.

2. That you appreciated something that they did for you, or for someone else.

3. How much you enjoyed the latest pictures of them or their kids on social media, or the funny blurb they posted.

4. How they have inspired you.

5. That you have noticed their hard work.

6. How much you admire a quality of theirs.

7. How great their hair looks, or how their new outfit makes their eyes pop.

Remember, if you put good things in the world, good things will come out. When you need them, you’ll get a little piece of that goodness back. And even if it weren’t for that, it just feels good to bring someone else up out of a crummy day.

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Are you crazy? Yeah, probably.

 

I think at some point in our lives we’ve stopped all and thought, “I wonder if I’m a little…OCD? Anxious? Or…(Insert any mental illness you can think of here)”. You might be. Honestly, you probably are.

Most of us are a little bit nuts in our own right. It’s what makes humans so interesting. People are fun because they have variety. And variety doesn’t happen without throwing a little bit of crazy in there.

We’ve all got a little dose of mental illness. It’s just part of being human. Here’s the kicker: Most of the time it doesn’t matter.

Let’s say you need to check the doors 4 times apiece each night before bed to be convinced that they are locked. Your spouse thinks it’s weird, since they can glance at the doors once and be convinced that everything is squared away.

But think for a second: Is that really affecting your life negatively? Are you affected so much by those odd but benign habits?

The answer is a resounding “No.”

However, if you spend hours checking and rechecking, locking and unlocking, and counting, waking up to check again, then you run into trouble. Because your life and functioning are starting to be affected negatively.

Quirks, strange behaviors, and unique habits that can only be described as oddities are part of being human. If your relationships, sleep, and daily functioning are severely affected, that’s when we worry. That’s when you need to be referred to a medical professional that will likely recommend counseling, and possibly medication.

But if you’re just a little odd, you have some weird habits? Welcome to the club, because that’s just part of being human.

It’s good to be self-aware, because often these small habits can escalate when we reach stressful points of our lives. But cut yourself some slack. You’re just as crazy as the rest of us.

 

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How Often do I Complain About Blessings?

 

I had a significant realization recently. About something troubling.

I complain about blessings. ALL THE TIME.

This sounds ridiculous, but it happens to most of us.

There is a beautiful, crazy, destructive, sweet, tiny human that entered my life almost two years ago. He is an ENORMOUS blessing, but sometimes I forget. Sometimes, I think more about the restrictions on my freedom that come with being a mother. The interruptions that happen with every task I try to accomplish. The inability to simply sit on the couch and rest.

What has been gained in exchange for those small inconveniences? The unconditional love of that precious little boy. Sweet smiles, and tender cuddles. The strengthening of love between my husband and I in raising this beautiful soul together. Watching my son explore the world and discover new things every day is indescribable.

I am so amazingly, ridiculously blessed to be able to have carried a child within my body. We had a healthy pregnancy, and a (mostly) healthy baby. Pregnancy is hard, but the alternative (not having the opportunity) is harder. Motherhood is hard, but not being able to be a mother? I can’t even begin to fathom that pain.

I struggle with finding balance between everything in my life.  But how lucky am I to have found so many things in my life that I love that I struggle to juggle them all?

This realization doesn’t fix motherly fatigue and overwhelm. It doesn’t cover the world in rainbows. But recognize your blessings for what they are. Blessings.

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Advice Column-Future New Girl in Town

Dear Hailey,

My family and I are moving to another state soon, and while I am very excited, I’m a little nervous too! I have lived in the same home my whole life except for while attending school and this is the first “real” move ever. I certainly won’t miss too much about where I am now, for the most part I’m excited to start over new somewhere, where no one knows us and we can just have a fresh start. Although the excitement over takes the “fear” of change, I’m still a little apprehensive about getting established in a completely new area- but thankfully I already have my job lined up. Do you have any tips from your personal experience? We’ve been planning this move for a long time, and it’s sort of like a dream come true, but we all know that nothing and no where is perfect and I think being nervous is natural with a big life change like this. Thanks for listening!

 

Sincerely,

Future New Girl In Town

 

 

Dear New Girl,

 

As some readers who know me in person may know, I moved states during my childhood, from Washington to California. Everything was different, the weather, the culture, and just the fact that it was a new place hundreds of miles away made it kind of a scary transition. I moved again to Idaho for college, and then again when I got married, although that move was only 30 minutes from my college town. With all that, I think it’s safe to say that moving is something that I have experienced in my personal life.

 

It’s definitely different moving in adulthood versus childhood, but the uncertainty of it all doesn’t change. The fact that you need to make new friends and figure out this new place you are going to call home are the same.

 

Every town has unique activities, interesting landmarks, places to eat, you name it. I’d recommend joining a facebook group specific to that town to figure out the places that everyone loves. If its a larger town there might also be blogs and other websites that talk about cool stuff specific to the area that are worth checking out.

 

As far as meeting people goes, the first few are always the hardest. Friends of friends is how I met many of my dear friends in childhood and in adulthood. It’s actually how I met my husband! Once you make a few friends most of the hard work is over. 

 

Now as far as meeting those first few people, here are some tips. If you are religious, church activities are a great way to meet new people. When you move in to your new home, reach out to your neighbors. If this makes you nervous or you aren’t sure how to approach the situation, a baked good never hurts. Who can be upset by “I’m your neighbor and I made you this delightful treat!”.

 

I’d also recommend going to some community education classes on a topic that you are interested in. It will be a good way to expand on your hobbies and talents, and possibly meet some people that have similar interests. You can find these classes at a community college or community center. 

 

It’s really exciting to have the opportunity to start over. Try to focus on the positive aspects of moving. If things get rough, know that moving is a tough and stressful transition, and it’s normal to struggle with change. Give yourself breaks during the moving process, and maybe even treat yourself to things (activities, treats, pedicures, movies, etc.) that will help with this transition. Remember, this is a whole new chapter of your life, and that is incredibly exciting!

Hailey

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The Self-Care Challenge

If you’ve been on Thoughts, Dots, and Tots before, you probably heard me talk about self-care before. And… I’m going to talk about it again. Its something that I absolutely cannot cover enough. It’s not because I’m out of ideas, or I’ve forgotten what I’ve written about before. This topic is simply so important that it bears repeating.

I’m going to give you a simple self-care challenge. It’s super simple. Super quick.

I want you to do one thing. Everyday.

The catch? It can’t be essential. It can’t be something that you HAVE to do.

Cleaning, working, making dinner? As much as you might enjoy them, they don’t count.

It needs to be something JUST FOR YOU.

I don’t know what that is going to look like for you. Self-care is different for everybody. Some of my self-care activities are spending time writing, doing vinyl projects, and coloring with crayons (the last activity is one that I actually got from a comment from a reader a few months ago!). I don’t generally have time to do all of them in a day (And I doubt you do either!), but I try to find time to do at least one every day.

It looks different for everyone. For my husband, some self-care activities are golfing, reading, and making furniture. Yours might look similar or not even a little bit the same.

It is so easy as parents to lose ourselves. To give all that we have. We get so caught up in taking care of those that we love that we forget to take care of ourselves. But you can’t give if you don’t have anything left. Recharge your batteries so that you can continue to give love, care, and support to those who need you.

What does self-care look like for you, and how do you recharge your batteries? Let me know in the comments below!

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Daycare isn’t a Curse Word

I’ve written about daycare on the blog before. About why I refuse to apologize for taking my son to daycare, and why I refuse to apologize for my decision to be a working mom. A list of tips for choosing quality daycare. In the broader scope of this topic, I even had someone write into the advice column asking about dealing working when they want to be stay home with their kids.

Why am I so stuck on this topic? Because daycare gets a bad rap. A largely unearned bad reputation.

Another reason is my relationship with the word “daycare”. I find myself trying to avoid saying it in conversation. Sometimes when say it I lower my voice.

It’s silly really. It’s not a curse word. It’s not bleeped out on daytime television. If I say it in the presence of innocent ears they won’t be traumatized. It’s not scrawled in the walls of bathrooms by cheeky teenagers. I won’t be asked to leave a family establishment for saying it.

It’s important to note that when it comes to people other than parents caring for their children, bad things can and do happen. There are bad daycares, bad caregivers, bad everything.

However, my son doesn’t have any of those things. The daycare my son attends has mine and my husband’s paranoid social worker and nurse stamp of approval. I would even go as far as say that the people who work there are his second family.

So what is it about that word that gets me?

That word carries so many insecurities for myself. The fact that I spend 4 days a week away from my son. The fact that he goes to daycare 3 days a week.

Really though, it’s just a word.

A word that doesn’t define me, my family, my relationship with my child, my motherhood, or my merit as an individual.

It simply describes where my son is spends 3 days of his time. Time that he gets to spend with kids and adults that he adores, who adore him in return. Time where he gets a change of scenery, gets to sing songs, read books, eat at a table with a bunch of other kiddos, and play outside (when the Idaho weather allows of course).

I’m going to try to stop being ashamed of that word. It’s just a word. I know my son is taken care of. I am taken care of. Forcing myself to stay home when it isn’t right for my family at this stage of life just doesn’t make sense.

Who knows what the future holds for us, but I’m going to do my best to stop treating daycare like a curse word. Whatever your situation with working or staying home, daycare or other arrangements, own it. You are doing what your family needs. That is what matters, and that rocks!

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