Thursday, February 11, 2016

Thought Salad

This social media/Unplugged challenge is impossible frustratingly difficult for me. I know this only makes it all the more necessary for me to do it, but I suspect one month isn't enough to lead to meaningful and lasting change. As opposed to food, which you may think of constantly (just me?) but only have to make decisions about 4-5 times a day, there are INFINITE opportunities for making the wrong decision here. I can literally pull out my phone and check email any second of the day. Anytime I am sitting at my desk working on my computer is a time that I can open up a new tab on the browser and read a blog. Retraining my brain to stay focused is not going to be an easy process, but in the spirit of #noexcuses, and knowing that this change could make a significant positive impact on my life, I fully intend keep trying. If not now, then when, and all that.

In addition to not using my phone during the evenings, I'm also trying to refrain from using those precious few hours between getting home & kid bedtime to do chores. It is so tempting to try to "get everything done" so I can relax (or, lately, go to bed) as soon as they are down. But I miss out on a lot doing that. Last night for example, yielded this conversation:

Scene: B, coloring. Me, about to go up the stairs to do...something.
B: "Mom am I a white people or a black people"?
Me: "You're brown people"
B: "Mr K (teacher) said I'm an Indian"
Me: "Well yes, you are an Indian but your skin is brown which is why I said that"
B: "Am I REALLY an Indian? So how come we don't have those feathers"
Me: time to have the "dots not feathers" talk "blah blah blah, the country...Asia...our relatives...Native Americans...Christopher Colombus...etc..."
B, looking at brown arms "But my SKIN is white, right?"
Me: sorry, kid. "no, its not"...."but you've been learning about how the color of your skin shouldn't matter, right?"
B: "yeah! Martin Luther King! People used to think people were bad if they had black skin but now they know better, right?"
Me: ummmm "yeah, WE know better"

Thanks to a recommendation from Noemi, I checked out Dr Laura Markham's website & blog (and I have the book on hold at the library "Peaceful parents, happy kids" ). I actually do like a lot of her philosophy, as did G, when I sent him some articles. He did feel some of the things she recommended seemed "forced and unnatural" but I reminded him that what was "natural" to us was apparently losing our tempers and yelling at them, so.... I was thinking to myself "I wish I'd found this sooner", but then I remembered that I had, in fact, stumbled upon her site a few years back, searching for help for B's explosive tantrums. And I HATED her message at that time! I thought the idea of a "time in" where I held onto my thrashing, hitting kid and validated his feelings without any disciplinary action was way too soft and woo-woo out there. I thought kids needed boundaries & limits & consequences (also verboten in the Dr Laura world). I guess it took a few years of trying many many versions of that to no avail (and an often chaotic, and stress-filled home) to realize I was wrong and I need to be open to new ideas.

I still need to finish "No Drama Discipline" and I'll write a review of that. So far, I LOVE this book. I bought it, and plan to mark it all up with notes & tabs.

Its going to be bitterly cold this weekend. I'm not dreading it (who am I)? Not only have I not been hating winter this year, I daresay I've been enjoying it.  I even found the early darkness really cozy and intimate and I'm starting to MISS it (who am I?).  We have our list of "winter fun" activities to choose from---I'm thinking bowling and swimming this weekend, and the boys will go to the children's museum since they are off on Monday (I'm not). We all have the proper gear and (this may be the key) the boys can PUT IT ON THEMSELVES. Trying to get gloves onto chubby little fingers when you're in a hurry is my little version of hell. I'll go to the gym (finally feeling better, yay!) and we'll have an activity each afternoon, and screen time in the evening.

Thus ends the thought salad. More to come...


  1. It's amazing when you're going about your day doing the routine things and then all of a sudden you're in the middle of one of those BIG conversations.

    And I completely hear you on the ease of turning to the internet (here I am now, in the middle of a work day...I was looking at curriculum issues on the university website and....oops not any more).

    I'd like to hear more about that book (not the Markham but the No Drama one); Tiny Boy is going through a THING right now and really testing me.

    1. yeah, I'm cooling on the markham thing the more I read (on the website, I haven't gotten the book yet), but still loving No Drama Discipline. hopefully I can do finish the book, go through my notes & put up a coherent post next week. Its really logical. I like that.

  2. I tend to use those hours between coming home and bedtime for chores as well. I feel guilty about it, but at the same time, I genuinely need those quiet hours after A. goes to bed to relax. So I try to find some balance, but it is so, so hard. Sigh... it's not easy to be a working mom!

    I'm not minding winter this year, either. I suppose it helps that the frigid temperatures and snow started so much later than it did last year (and the year before). I still find myself looking forward to warmer weather, and not having to bundle up, though.

    Glad you're feeling better! :)

  3. I would REALLY struggle with limiting internet time. I want to make a pass at it, but I'm focusing on some other areas of my life that need changing and I've learned not to attempt too many things that require power at the same time. ;) One thing I am doing is trying to make more intentional decisions about what I do when pockets of time become available, so that if they become more regular I'm doing something wasteful with my time.

    It's funny, with Dr. Markham, I really do like her message but the way she delivers it can be hard to swallow (and she does a better job than most!) I think it's just a hard message to swallow, for a lot of reason, that I can't articulate well enough here (because I'm on my phone right now, not because this is a comment section. ;)

    I'm glad you're not hating winter this year. I hope that keeps up.

    1. yeah, the more I'm reading Markham the more its getting...annoying. I'm going to pick up the book this weekend and give it a skim.

  4. Have you considered downgrading to a simple telephone for a period of time? I know that wouldn't help at work but it might make a difference at other times.

    Not having a smart phone means that my screen time is pretty limited and fairly deliberate (I'm not perfect by any means). Though, perhaps there are other negative consequences to giving up your smart phone temporarily?


    1. Good question, and it made me think for a bit, and then pull my phone out of my pocket & profess my undying love. On a purely logistical frame, no I can't, because my phone is my pager and its from work so they pay for it; I need it on me 8-5 weekdays and 24/7 when I'm on call, plus if I need to login to the EMR fom home, the access code program is only on my phone. But I also really use a lot of features. I track my spending & my finances with Mint & YNAB, I deposit checks, I don't have a camera or video recorder (what are those things called?) anymore.
      I just looked through my apps, though, and the one thing I absolutely could not do on my desktop is Uber. We don't have a car, so we use Uber pretty frequently these days; its great when the bus just isn't coming and its too far to walk, or too cold/someone is not feeling well/raining/etc... Taxis are an alternative but they are more expensive, more annoying (stinky, not climate controlled) and you can't catch a cab everywhere; we'd have to walk several blocks from our house, for example.

  5. I've seen kids raised by parents who rigidly adhere to the no discipline form of parenting (we briefly belonged to a "natural parenting" playgroup when we moved to a new city) and their kids are terrifying and dangers to other kids around them (at least at ages 2-4-- I assume they get better once school starts).

    Spending quality time with kids is great and is definitely a way to cut down on misbehaving that's occurring because kids want/need attention, but sometimes saying, "knock it off" in a calm but low-pitched voice that shows that you mean it is necessary. Or a logical consequences punishment (taking away the toy that is being misused). Or even (gasp) a time-out. There are a lot of ways to guide kids to become functioning members of society who don't brain other three year olds with tool boxes. I really like Super Nanny's toolbox. I know she's not popular with upper middle class coastal stuff, but it's all so sensible and it works.