Category: Parenting

Selfcare is Crucial for Special Needs Mom Wrae Sanders

Contributing Guest Post

I have three kids and they are each quite different people. Even as babies, I could see how different their personalities were. One was very cranky but grew into a very calm, funny boy. One was the quietest baby I’ve ever met but is an Academy Award winning actress in the making. J, however, has always been a bit different than his siblings.

 As a baby, he was so easy to care for we nicknamed him the “Buddha Baby.” He started talking in 3-word sentences at 15 months old. He was walking around one-years-old . He loved everyone and would hug you so tight that you never wanted to let go. He gave huge smacking kisses on everyone’s cheeks. This changed somewhere around the time he was age four. I thought that maybe the “terrible twos” had gone on a bit too long, and he was just going to be a challenging kid.

At first, I wasn’t worried. He was just a little more energetic than the other two kids and got mad a little easier. As time went by, I realized things weren’t that simple. He was getting more aggressive, hitting his brother and sister, and at one point, neither of them really wanted to play with him. He also started tearing things up at home. He also hit me. He struggled at preschool- he wouldn’t engage with the other kids, barely talked and even though it was obvious that he was very smart, he just wouldn’t participate. He also stopped giving the hugs and kisses that we loved so much. My J was gone. I’d lost my loving, sweet little boy. I had no idea what had happened to him, but I wanted him back.

I talked to his pediatrician, who recommended an evaluation. That evaluation went well, but neither of us agreed with the diagnosis-, Adjustment Disorder. It didn’t make sense.  In the meantime, I started reading up online and in books. I just wanted to know what was going on with J. I wanted to help him, but I didn’t know how. It broke my heart because I loved him so much and knew he needed me, but I just couldn’t reach him.

Everything I read pointed to ADHD and autism.

 AUTISM? What? J talked, but he was a bit quiet. He hated change, liked being alone, obsessed over certain things (at one point, dinosaurs, now it’s cars and video games). Other things sounded like him too. I never imagined having a child with autism, but then, who does?

The ADHD? I literally laughed as I read through criteria for this.

By the time J was four, he had broken a foot and arm due to not listening and being impulsive. He had cut a finger so badly he needed stitches. (He broke his arm later that week, five days before his fourth birthday, making that week the worst week in my parenting life until his brother’s hospitalization for heart issues). He had basically no attention span. I talked to his preschool teachers, and they agreed.

Getting a second evaluation wasn’t easy. By this point, my husband and I were clearly on different pages on what to do with J. This is common and probably accounts for why so many couples with special needs children eventually separate. It’s hard to get the other parent to agree. He eventually did, but it took two years and my almost filing for divorce before doing so.

J’s second evaluation was right before Thanksgiving 2011. It was meant to be one day, but went into two because he became uncooperative, which the neuropsychologist told me was common. I got the results in the mail on November 23 and sobbed with relief.

The diagnosis was ADHD, combined and traits of Asperger’s Syndrome. (this was 2011, when Asperger’s still existed.) That was later amended to High Functioning Autism (now Level 2 Autism) by his psychiatrist. I was relieved that I finally knew what was going on and what to do with J. This made a lot of sense. It explained his personality- he’s quiet, and if he doesn’t know you, he probably won’t talk to you. I have to prompt him to speak to people. He took a long time to understand humor, but now that he does, he’s hilarious, with a very dry sense of humor. He’s very smart and asks a million questions a day. He prefers to hang out by himself but has gotten so much better with making friends.

Now that we had a diagnosis, the next thing I tackled was treatment.

J was only five years old and in the middle of kindergarten. He was having problems sitting still in class when he wasn’t hiding under a table. I got in contact with a program at a local University and he began seeing a therapist to help with his social skills. He also began taking medication. That was a difficult decision to make, but he clearly needed it. As the medication began to kick in and therapy began to help, we began to see improvement. J stopped being so aggressive, was able to sit and engage in school and actually started having fun again.

Over the years, he has switched meds, gone through group therapy and changed medical providers. He has come a long way since kindergarten. He just finished the ninth grade. He has an IEP for school and does well with that. There were bumps in the road in elementary and middle school, but nothing is perfect. His middle and high school have been great with him, even during a global pandemic that shut down almost every school in the country.  I have always made sure he knows that I love him exactly the way he is and that I have his back- always.

One big thing I forgot during this time was taking care of myself. I forgot how important this is! I had to relearn this. I was stressed out that I lost and gained weight. I developed Type 2 Diabetes, and had a small stroke in 2013. That was a wakeup call to start taking care of myself more, and I have done so ever since. I even stopped drinking in 2017 as it became a huge problem in my life. Today, I enjoy meditation, yoga, listening to music and podcasts, reading and coloring. And I no longer have diabetes.

What I’ve learned about selfcare as a special needs parent:

  • Take time for yourself. This may sound difficult, but even 10 minutes a day is better than nothing. Listen to music, read a book, watch a few videos on YouTube.
  • Get support. Seek out support in your family or friends, and if you can’t find support there, try finding support online. There are many support groups on Facebook, websites, etc. You aren’t alone in your journey.
  • Get your feelings out. Journal, exercise, talk, whatever you need to do. Parenting is rough, no matter how anyone puts it. When special needs are thrown in, it gets harder. Don’t let your feelings sit inside you.  
  • KNOW YOUR CHILD. This helps in a million ways. Knowing your child’s triggers, foods they WILL eat, etc. will be helpful in many situations. Your child will be glad you know them so well and it will help them feel loved. Support them no matter what.

Special needs parenting is rough. It’s not all rainbows and flowers, but I have learned so much about myself along the way. J has been my tour guide through special needs territory.  


You can find Wrae on Facebook Instagram or Patreon

Intergenerational Trauma and Healing Our Families

As COVID restrictions are lifting, you may be having mixed feelings about getting together with family members again.  For some people, these past 18 months have been a respite from toxic relationships. COVID and mandated social distancing has provided a great excuse to keep distant from family members and provided us with an opportunity to self reflect on those relationships.  Now, we have an opportunity to redraw boundaries and make changes that create empowering environments for ourselves and our children.

Within the past 30 years, studies have established that we inherit much more than eye color from our ancestors.  We also inherit many neurological and emotional characteristics, such as temper, anxieties, and parenting styles.  Intergenerational trauma is passed down as we grow up, rather than when we are born.  We take on characteristics from our caretakers, internalize them as our internal dialogue, and then bestow the same inheritance upon our own children.  When these habits and traits are harmful physically and emotionally, this is intergenerational trauma or inherited trauma, (IT). As our society learns more about IT, adults today are becoming much more aware of their own emotional well-being and the potential toxicity of their familial relationships.  Turning the huge ship of IT around requires a rewrite of your inner dialogue. If you’re a parent, it requires a reflection on your parenting techniques. If your discipline and parenting techniques with your children are the same that you experienced growing up, you are likely continuing the pattern of trauma, whether you realize it or not.  To help you through the process of healing from this trauma and changing your learned habits, mental health professionals are readily available through a variety of platforms, apps, zoom calls, or traditional in-person meetings.  

I inherited generations of trauma from both sides of my family.  As a new mom, I decided 5 years ago that this inheritance of toxic relationships ends with me.  I’ve taken parenting classes, read books, listen often to parenting podcasts, see a therapist regularly, and work hard every day to change my inner dialogue.  I grew up with fear based parenting; spanking, intimidation, plans cancelled as punishment, beloved items taken away, and a general lack of privacy and trust.  When the parenting skills that I inherited ‘pop’ out of my mouth, and I see the looks of fear on my kids, I know I’m going back to old traumatic habits. I remind myself that I’ve got this, seek support from my husband and friends, and review positive parenting resources for skills I may have forgotten.  My husband and I are on the same page and check-in regularly with plans and boundaries.  When one of us gets triggered, the other will take over the situation without shame or guilt.  

Fear based parenting was a popular form of discipline for previous generations of my family, and is still well practiced in today’s society.  Studies have shown fear based parenting practices to be damaging to children. It also creates a parent/child relationship that is very difficult to adjust when children become adults due to its authoritarian characteristics.  Parenting styles are deeply ingrained in our inner dialogue and are difficult skills to change.  Popular alternative parenting styles such as Conscious Discipline and Positive Parenting, all address these challenges in their books and training.  There are many parenting coaches in the Hudson Valley to help your family through this change as well.

As we return to social situations, it is important to remember the following responsibilities to our self and our children:

  1. Our Time and Energy is Valuable: We do not have to spend time with anyone we don’t want to, and nor do our children.  Don’t stress about the length of life a toxic relative has. Make your time the priority.  Life can be short no matter what age you are. 
  2. Giving hugs is always a choice: You own your body and have a choice who your body comes into contact with. Teach your children positive body image and give them the choices to hug or to just wave.   Listen to their words and watch their body language (even as babies); honor their choice to be touched or not.
  3. Only those who empower you have the privilege of your time:  Being a blood relative does not give anyone the authority to belittle, mock, tease, abuse, harass, or harm you.  In fact, no other human being has that authority, and blood relatives don’t get special privileges either.
  4. Set Boundaries:  It is your responsibility to communicate to others what you are and are not comfortable with.  Others can’t read your mind.  If a boundary is crossed, you need to remind and reinforce.   As a parent, the responsibility to set boundaries and reinforce them is even more important.  For young children, you are their only way of learning how to set and have those boundaries respected.  

These changes may seem like a lot of work, but it is absolutely worth it.  Living a life with clear communication, boundaries, and empowering relationships will help you blossom into your true self.  Bestowing this new inheritance on your kids will give them the tools they need for healthy relationships in all facets of their life.  You have the power to heal generations of trauma and stop the cycle with your family.  

Get help locating a therapist in your area by searching Psychology Today

Navigating the Teen Years with Boy Mom Jennifer Vergara

Contributing guest post.

I am a mom to three teenage boys, ages 12, 16 and 19. You might be thinking, 12 isn’t technically a teenager, but let me tell you, puberty has already made its ugly appearance. In my book, he’s a full-blown teenager, equipped with all the hormones, smells, body hair, and attitude that comes with it.  

There is a lot of testosterone floating around my house on the daily (even our dog is a dude). To make matters worse, we live outside of the US, away from our families and close friends, so my estrogen-rich relationships are via phone and Zoom. Then there was that thing last year, the pandemic, which resulted in all 5 of us being stuck together in the house. All day, every day – working from home and schooling from home. We live in Guatemala, where most houses do not have yards, so even the dog has been quarantined inside with us.

Again, So. Much. Testosterone.

I am not complaining about this, as I adjusted to being the only female a long time ago. I have acclimated to the vulgarity of most conversations being centered around specific male body parts, or at least the reference of them, spontaneous bursts of what smells like deadly gases, and the collection of 20+ Marvel superhero movies playing on a constant loop. I’m cool with all of this.

What has been difficult though, as we’ve entered the teenage years, is finding ways to stay connected with each of them. Let’s face it, there are certain topics that are just naturally easier for boys to talk about with their dad. I get that. And my husband? He is AMAZING at having these talks and has a knack for keeping the conversation casual, so that no one feels embarrassed or uncomfortable.

But it’s not just the awkward talks, it’s the everyday connection they have that I’m a bit envious of. When our sons were little, I was the twinkle in their eyes. It was easy to stay connected to them because they always wanted Mom. Now, they turn to their dad to talk about guy stuff, girls, video games, cars etc. And while I’m grateful that they have this amazing connection with their dad, I can’t help but feel a little left out and disconnected at times. Those feelings paired with my inability to accept that they are no longer babies, has been a struggle.

At least this is how I felt for a while. I wallowed in my own momma-pity for some time, mostly during the week of my period each month, when I’m super-duper emotional. I had talks (ugly cries) with my husband about how I felt, and I binged on chick-flicks when I had time off. I was seriously in a funk.

But then I decided to change my outlook, because frankly- it was getting to be a bit depressing. I was so caught up in my feelings about the boys getting bigger and not needing me as much, that I was missing out on the joys of their current life stages.

I decided to quit splashing around in my pool of tears and sentimental pity, and instead, I began embracing the present.

As far as connecting more with my sons, it is still possible; it just takes more work on my behalf. They are so overwhelmed with hormones and new challenges and body changes and new relationships, that they just don’t have the bandwidth to also go out of their way to try and connect with Mom, on a sentimental level. Not because they don’t want to or because they don’t need me anymore. They’re just teenagers. Their interests change and their priorities shift, AND they’re trying to figure out who the heck they are.

Once I came to this realization, everything changed, in a positive way.

If you’re struggling with the teenage years, here are a few tips that might help, they did for me.

1) Show interest. Even if it is something you aren’t interested in… try to be, for the sake of your child. Listen to their music. Watch their favorite movies. Play video games with them. Whatever their hobbies are, embrace them. Trust me, if you’re not interested, they’ll find someone else who is.

2) Be open. They’re teenagers, which means they have teenager problems and curiosities. Be open to talking about relationships, drugs, sex, fears, death- whatever is on their mind. Don’t make it awkward or turn it into a big deal. If you’re uncomfortable, then know that they are too. The more awkward you make the experience, the less they will seek you out for advice.

3) Trust them. Trust your parenting and trust that you’ve raised a well-rounded individual who can make the right decisions. Does this mean they always will? No, of course not, but you should start by giving them the benefit of the doubt. Example: our 16-year-old told us that he was offered alcohol by some older teen friends of his. We didn’t freak out. We didn’t condemn him. Instead, we listened and then asked him what he did; and guess what? He made the right decision on his own.

4) Give them space. Trust me, they need it. Respect their privacy and allow for them to have time alone. They’ve got a ton of things they’re trying to figure out.

5) Let them know they are loved unconditionally.  Your love and support should come with no bounds. No matter how bad they might mess up, no matter how dark their thoughts may be, no matter what sexual preference they have, no matter what gender roles they identify with- you will always love them and be there for them, and they need to know that.

What a blessing it is to be able to watch our children grow up. Not everyone gets this opportunity, so make the extra effort when you can. I promise it will be worth it.

2020 Was the Worst, but We Can Still Carry Light Into the New Year

Sparkler, Holding, Hands, Firework, Sparkles, Fire

It’s the last day of 2020 and everyone is ready for this year to be over. While I am one to lean into optimism for a happier new year, I am also realistic enough to understand the flip of a calendar isn’t going to change the circumstances we carry into 2021.

This year has been a solid suck fest, one thing after another to worry about, leave behind or pivot away from. It has been mentally exhausting and at times draining just working with our new restrictions for shopping, vacationing, and finding activities that do not involve being near other people. My kids have attended remote school for almost a year and their mental health has incrementally declined since the beginning of our “quarantine life.” But overall, we have persevered. I feel like I had just enough positivity in me to get through the spring and summer months. It was easier when we could still get outside and do things we enjoyed, but with winter here, I can feel it faltering.

I know it’s hard to think of anything positive from this last year, but everything exists in opposites. So, we can’t have good without evil, or evil without the good. Looking back over 2020, I can see the darkness and the sadness, but I can also see the love and kindness that came out of this “unprecedented” year.

The nurses, doctors, EMS, EMTs, and ER staff working the front lines caring for us jumped in with sleeves rolled up and ready to love complete strangers through their most difficult days. Nurses held up iPads for families to say goodbye and wept right alongside of them while they died. Nursing home staff gave married couples dying from COVID the dignity and compassion to spend their final days side by side. Love was found in the strangers who sent pizzas, meals, coffee, cards, and gifts to those on the front lines.

Kindess was found in the landlords that gave rent relief to those who lost their jobs.

Love was found in the teachers who scurried to create virtual classrooms so they can stay connected to their students, not just dole out a lesson plan. Love was found in the cafeteria workers who put together meals for kids who eat most of their meals at school. Love was found in the school nurse who prepared to return in a gown and plastic face shield to keep their students safe.

Love was found in firefighters and police officers offering birthday parades to kids during quarantine because traditional birthday parties were not allowed.

Kindness was found in neighbors feeding neighbors. Neighbors watching over each other and delivering goods to those who weren’t feeling safe going into a store.

Kindness was found in those who donated blood for those in need.

Love was found in those who continued to volunteer to feed, clothe and help their communities most vulnerable populations.

I’ll bet if you look around your own community and neighborhood, you will find places love and kindness suddenly showed up. Maybe in places it didn’t exist before. Maybe you were on the receiving end of someone who helped you that you didn’t expect or count on before. I am still blown away by kind friends who drop deliveries at my doorstep, left crafts for my kids, sent packages to brighten our days and listened to me when I was most frustrated by so many changes happening at once.

In my broader community, people are filling refrigerators outside their doorstep for anyone in need to shop from. Families are sending cards and happy mail to our local nursing homes, so no one feels alone. Our local restaurants are partnering to create feeding programs to serve those in need and finding creative ways to keep their own doors open. Churches are keeping their feeding programs open. Warming centers are quickly evolving to meet safety protocols, families are adopting other families Christmas wish lists. Some of my friends are donating their time to serve community meals. This is love in action. If I stop and think back on this year, I can find several ways love and kindness still pulled through.

I am in no way thankful for COVID and things like “quarantine” and “cohorts,” but if I dig deep enough through the craziest parts of this year, I can still find a lot of love and gratitude to take with me into the new year. This won’t solve our current crisis and is in no way meant to gloss over the deep wounds many of us still feel from the year, but reminding ourselves of the good gives us hope that there is still goodness left to come, even if we must actively look for it.

One of the things that has helped me through the sadness of missing out on our usual things and the feeling of time standing still, is taking pictures of us trying new things together. Every time we hiked a new trail or found a new place to play, I took a bunch of photos. On the days I am feeling sad about missing out on our vacation or our life pre COVID, I scroll through those bright photos and remember we can still find happiness.

What is one bright spot you had during 2020?

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, writer and owner of this blog. Thank you for reading along and for being a part of this supportive motherhood community. Follow along on Facebook or Instagram.

Join Me for a virtual International Family Summit

Post contains affiliate links. I make a small commission for purchases at no cost to you.

I am excited to share that my friend Dr. Orlena has invited me to be a guest speaker in her Fit and Fabulous Family International Summit! It’s a virtual 3 day summit just for parents!

Dr Orlena has invited 17 amazing speakers, all of whom are parents, so they know your struggles! Each of the speakers will talk about a different aspect of health and wellness. For example, I’m talking about how to create easy selfcare routines for overall wellness.

Dr Orlena’s Fit and Fabulous philosophy focuses on 4 pillars of healthy living.

1. What we eat.

2. Exercise

3. Sleep 

4. Emotional wellness (how we reduce stress and create a loving atmosphere in our homes.)

Because we are all busy parents, just like you, each video is 15 minutes or less to maximize your time, and covers different aspects of all 4 pillars.

Why Attend?

Do you worry about your family’s health and wellness?

Do you want a long healthy life for you and your kids, but life seems to get in the way of your goals?

The goal of this summit is to show you how to create healthy living habits, so you and your family can feel fit and fabulous! We’ll show you how to make it easy and fun!

The event is entirely FREE for 3 whole days from Friday December 4th to Sunday Dec 6th.

You can find out more here.

Life Time Ticket Option

If you’d like to have lasting access to the videos, Dr. Orlena has created a lifetime ticket, so you can watch the videos whenever you want. This makes it so much easier for busy moms!

The lifetime ticket also includes other fabulous products that have been donated by contributors.

Until Tuesday 8th Dec the lifetime ticket will be just $47.

On Tuesday 8th Dec the lifetime ticket goes up to $97.

Want to win some prizes?

Simply click to share this link on your Facebook page and tag Dr. Orlena to enter.

See you at the summit!

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, writer and owner of this blogspace. She spends a lot of time trying to find balance and teaching other moms that it is OK to embrace the messier parts of parenting! Follow her on Facebook for her less than perfect posts.

Why I Like to Spend Time Alone

I took a walk all by myself today, literally over the river and through woods. It was glorious!

I rarely get time to myself, but this week my husband is on vacation. It means I am on vacation too.   I know, I know “but he works!” Well, so do I. I work from home as a freelance writer while making sandwiches and packing two kids for a day at the beach. He works only one job at a time, albeit stressful he isn’t managing meltdowns while trying to look professional to a client. We both deserve a break. But while he is working 70 hours a week, I am covering all the childcare needs while simultaneously running a business. I’m not kidding when I say, if I go down no one knows how to the food gets in the house or when the toilets get cleaned. It’s all courtesy of moi!

I walked 1.28 miles one way without pushing a stroller or with any kids hanging on me!

Today, I chose to visit one of my favorite walking trails because it is quiet and has such beautiful views of the Hudson River. I’ve only ever walked this trail with my kids, so it felt strange not pushing a stroller or pulling a heavy wagon full of screaming kids. I made pretty good time walking nearly three miles. I had my favorite music pushing me on and no one to talk too. The silence was golden.  

No answering questions about sea creatures.

No organizing lunches.

No packing up a swim bag.

No blowing up pool toys.

No slathering sunscreen and carrying an armful of towels to the pool.

It was a glorious start to my vacation!

This is the first break for myself I’ve had all summer. My kids and I have been tethered since their last day of school. It’s OK, I love them. But as a work from home/stay at home mom the daily tasks of motherhood can become the weekly grind. It’s almost cliché to call my job as a mom exhausting. Everyone knows how tired we are because we can’t stop telling everyone we are tired.

View from 212 feet in the air walking over a converted train bridge.

Taking a walk while you’re that kind of exhausted sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s exactly what I needed! To roam freely, unattached to a to-do list, or locked into mealtime demands. Listening to my own thoughts without interruptions helps me declutter things that are bugging me. Do I really need to hold on to that friend if she clearly let me go? How about cleaning out some of this guilt about letting my kids eat so many hot dogs? Being alone allows me to regroup a little and feel lighter. It’s like therapy.

Are you someone that likes to be alone in your head? Or do you enjoy escaping from the mom demands with friends? Leave me a comment below, or feel free to join the conversation on Facebook! ????

Roxanne Ferber is a freelance writer and owner of The Whatever Mom blog. Nearly nine years on the coffee wagon and she still doesn’t have enough energy to keep up with her twins. But she is a survivor and she’s gonna make it; even if she has to white knuckle it through each day until her kids graduate. Follow her on FacebookTwitter or Insta.

Perfection Is Not a Place To Live

The other morning was really rough. My kids didn’t want to get out of bed and I was getting really impatient. I may have blown my top once or twice and barked some commands. Of course I always feel like a jerk after. In my defense motivating my one daughter out of bed in the morning can take up most of our morning routine. When she wakes up in a grumpy mood it makes the morning even harder.

What made this particular morning so rough was during our heated exchange she shouted back at me, “you just want everything to be perfect!” It literally caught me off guard. My kids can tell me they hate me and it rolls right off my back, but this hurt. I think it hurt because I work really hard to let go of expecting things to be perfect or pushing things to be perfect. I mean I only write a blog about letting go of perfection, so I MUST be an expert already right?

But she is right. Old habits die hard. I can’t escape how I am hard wired to be any more than she can escape her hatred of mornings. We have several home projects that need to be finished before winter; I have a house to manage and a few blogs to write each week, plus all that pesky meal planning and laundry to do. I try to stick to segmenting my time for each thing I need to manage. As a result I can seem a bit like a drill sergeant because I EXPECT this will get done in the exact amount of time I have allotted for it. That would be a symptom of perfection by the way.

If only life were that neat and tidy.

Last night I decided to loosen the reins a bit with our evening routine. I am also exhausted from the constant running around and finishing things, so I called it a make your own sandwich night for dinner, which seemed to make everyone happy. I know I was happy to not spend my time cooking something no one would eat! Then we put on some tunes and chatted through dinner.

After dinner my husband agreed to make the lunches while I sat down to play a board game with the kids. I am always rushing to make lunches and getting two kids showered – usually at the same time. So getting to take a break from that was simply amazing. My girls and I spent 30 minutes rolling in laughter because we just caught a case of the sillies. And it was exactly what we needed. You can’t script those moments and when my kids look back on their childhood they will remember it wasn’t perfect, but it did have perfect moments like this.

The night time routine was a little easier, no one kept fighting for more attention and both kids drifted off to sleep easier. Best of all there was zero yelling in the morning before school. It seems unplugging from the race to keep everything in order and on time was exactly what I needed to do. I can’t say I won’t get caught up in it again, because I am hard wired with a drive for perfection. But maybe now I can recognize it sooner and let go of it much quicker. That’s always my goal anyway.

It’s funny how when I think I’ve got this perfection thing licked, or under control, my kid will make sure to remind me that I’ve gone off the rails. Thanks for keeping me on track kid, and thanks for helping mommy grow!

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents.  

Picky Eater Solutions: How to Minimize the Fight

Many of you know by now, I have two very picky eaters. There was a day I could feed them anything without a problem. Suddenly, they decided food wasn’t exciting anymore. They began limiting themselves to the familiar favorites of macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets.

Before kids, I was not a meal planner nor spent hours prepping ahead. I love the joy of cooking and spontaneously creating a meal from ingredients I’ve tossed together. I love sampling the food combos I’ve dreamed up. Unless it is made entirely of cheese, my kids could care less about my craftiness in the kitchen. So, over the years I’ve learned to push passed my frustration with their picky habits. I’ve realized the main focus is getting food into the belly. Not just any food, but nutritious food. So, how do I get nutritious food into such picky eaters? Here are some lessons I’ve learned over the years.

1. PICK YOUR BATTLES: If you are tired of missing out on meals because your entire time is spent fighting a kid to eat, let it go. If that means prepping a smaller side dish that your kid will eat, then do it if it works for you. To me that is easier than missing my own meal to focus on a battle I am not going to win. I let my kids eat boxed mac and cheese and stir in a couple spoonful’s of squash or cauliflower puree. It makes them happy to eat what they love and it makes me happy they are getting extra nutrition.

I like this hidden veggie mac and cheese recipe from My Fussy Eater.

2. FOCUS ON NUTRITION: Often as parents we get caught up in subscribing to the clean plate club. But this doesn’t help kids understand their hunger cues. Portion sizes vary widely for kids, some enjoy larger portions than others. I try to make sure what I am serving is so packed with nutrition that even if they take two bites, it counts for something. I have become the queen of concealing veggies in my kids’ favorite foods.

My picky eaters don’t even notice the spinach in these Secret Ingredient Pistachio Muffins from Making Thyme for Health.

3. GET THEM INVOVLED WITH FOOD: My kids may turn their noses up to sitting at a table with a full meal before them, but they will nibble all day long on familiar favorites. I encourage them to make their own foods by putting out a sandwich bar or a “picky” tray filled with proteins and nourishment like cold cuts, devilled eggs, hummus and veggies, fruit and dip, etc. It makes things easier for me and we all win when our bellies are full.

Related post: Moms to Kids Everywhere, Make Your Own Damned Sandwiches

4. CHANGE THE WAY YOU CELEBRATE WITH FOOD: Before kids, the only meal planning I did was around the holidays. I created a menu combining my and my husbands favorites from childhood. All I had to do was pull out the recipes and go shopping. But my kids really aren’t into stuffing and Ambrosia Salad. If your kid isn’t into your favorite holiday meals, move your celebration to the meal they love the most. Make a special breakfast, or lunch and enjoy a less stressful experience. You can still enjoy the traditional foods you love at dinner and let them eat smaller portions or something they will stay at the table for. Memories of being at the table together without a war will mean more to them in the future than whether or not they finished the dreaded peas.

We make this Dublin Coddle for St. Patrick’s Day from Fit Slow Cooker Queen. My kids just pick out the parts they will eat.

5. USE COMPASSION: Some kids have anxiety around food, or sensory disorders, they will stick to the foods they know are familiar. Ultimately, it was this discovery in my own kids that made it easier to accept there are times I need to make two different dinners. The old school technique of forcing kids to eat, DOES NOT work for kids with anxiety, or sensory issues. It only forces them to become more rigid with their choices. It can really do more harm than good.

Learn More at Anxious Toddler.

Do you have a picky eater? How do you plan for meals?

Tips for a Sensory Friendly Halloween

Post contains affiliate links. I make a small commission if links used to make a purchase.

Halloween can be overwhelming to anyone with sensory processing disorder (SPD). If you haven’t heard of this particular disorder before, you are not alone. Most people do not know what it is until their own child is diagnosed. The difficulty is that even with a diagnosis, you as a parent may struggle to understand your child’s sensory triggers.

According to the website Understood.org, children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) “may be oversensitive or undersensitive to the world around them. When the brain receives information, it gives meaning to even the smallest bits of information. Keeping all that information organized and responding appropriately is challenging for them.”

Some kids never notice the feeling of a tag inside their shirt, or the seam inside their socks. But there are kids who are so distracted by this sensation that they can cry or scream, or even become aggressive. One in twenty children live with some varying degree of sensory processing disorder. Navigating daily life can be a struggle, let alone while wearing an itchy costume in a crowded, loud setting.

After speaking with other moms whose kiddos have SPD, I can share some really great tips. The most important thing is, do not force your child beyond their limits. Halloween activities are for their enjoyment and it is OK to let them enjoy activities in their own way. If your child can only handle wearing a small piece of their costume, or no costume at all, let that be enough.

PRO MOM TIPS

  • Select a costume that is mask free, or does not require face paint.
  • Let your kids use their own familiar clothing as part of their costume to help them enjoy dressing up.
  • For kids with auditory sensory issues, using noise cancelling headphones works great.
  • For kids who are sensitive to bright lights, start your trick or treat night as early as possible and take advantage of the day light.
  • If your child tires easily map out a short route, or bring along a wagon to let them take a break. And again, it’s OK if you cut your time short and head back home early.
  • Skip the costumes and make your kiddo feel included with fun family coordinated themed set of t-shirts. Use a small, personalization business like Mom Squad Creations to print up your matching shirts and you’ll be ready to head out together.

PRO TIPS

  • Avoid a meltdown by keeping your child informed of timing of events.
  • Host a small gathering in your home for your child’s comfort.
  • Trick or treat on streets with sidewalks to lesson anxiety.
  • Get creative in how your child participates. Nothing is set in stone. Instead of bobbing for apples, maybe your child can stack apples in a bucket.
  • Put yourself in their shoes. Being a parent of a child with sensory issues can feel overwhelming, but imagine being the child who is struggling to process so much sensory information at once. It can provoke a lot of anxiety not knowing what is happening next.
  • Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant Gina Bergdall suggests allowing your child to carry a fidget toy. This will allow them a constructive “place to focus their anxiety on.” Bergdall also shares these tips provided by the American Occupational Therapy Association. 
  • Pick only a few places to trick or treat and review that plan with your child before hand so they know what to expect.

If your child is overly sensitive to crowds or noises, there are no rules mandating they go trick or treating. You can make some really amazing traditions right at home. Bake and decorate treats, have a fun meal together, or make some popcorn and settle in for a movie. There is no wrong way to participate in Halloween! 

If this Halloween looks different than the way other families are celebrating, that’s OK. Embrace your unique traditions! If your child is comfortable at home watching Halloween specials and eating popcorn, join them! Deciding to follow their lead helps them feel capable and less stressed.

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, blogger and freelance writer. Her spookiest Halloween decoration is an empty coffee pot. *shudder*

Get Ready for the Tooth Fairy with These Easy DIY Tooth Fairy Giving Bags

diytooth-fairy-bags
Post contains affiliate links. I make a small commission if you purchase through the links.

Would you believe me if I told you that I used to work as a craft blogger? True story! Someone paid me to share the really lazy crafts I made each week with my kids. Turns out moms want easy crafts, preferably without glitter. And there are some moms who can’t resist a cute DIY.

I shared in my moms only group this week that I use these simple little DIY baggies to automate our tooth fairy giving. I made six at once and I keep 4 of the baggies pre-filled at all times so the tooth fairy never misses a stop! The other 2 bags I leave empty, one for each kiddo to collect their fallen teeth and leave under the pillow. Once they are asleep, I just swap out for the pre-filled baggie.

This system has worked for me for several years. It especially came in handy during the COVID quarantine when businesses closed. I couldn’t get the usual chocolate coins, or the gold dollar coin our tooth fairy traditionally leaves behind. Thankfully, I was already ahead of myself with this easy system. You can read my original post here, or scroll below for the step by step directions.

tooth-fairy-bags

Here’s what you’ll need: (Makes 4 bags)

6 Medium organza gift bags (you can find at the dollar store)

1 Piece of white felt

Download a tooth shape to trace

12 Googly eyes

School glue

8 inches of string or yarn

Wax paper

*Optional pink paint for rosy cheeks

I found the tooth shape online and printed it out to trace and cut the felt shapes for all six bags.

To make the face, I cut the string into two inch pieces and glued to the felt, next I glued on the eyes. If you’d like cute little pink cheeks, dip a pencil eraser, small dowel, or the end of a round paint brush  (whatever you have on hand) into the pink paint and apply at the ends of the smile. Allow time for the glue to dry before attaching the tooth shape to the bag.

Since you are working with an organza bag the glue will seep through and make a mess. If you cut a small square of wax paper to fit inside the bag it will keep the glue from sealing the bag closed.

Begin by inserting the wax paper into the bag before applying the felt shaped tooth. Once the tooth is on the baggie, wait a few minutes before removing the wax paper. Then, hang the open bag to dry. You can leave it at the end of a chopstick, a pencil or paint brush to keep the bag open while it dries. Allow the glue to dry overnight and before filling with treats.

We fill our bags with one gold dollar coin and five chocolate coins. Nothing fancy. I have heard of parents giving their kids $5 per tooth, or $20 for the first tooth and some parents put together an entire basket of gifts. Whatever works. I just know that having twins means double the magic and double the tooth fairy money. So keeping some pre-filled bags between payouts means I won’t be caught off guard the night a tooth falls out.

Do you go all out for the tooth fairy, or do you keep it simple?

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, blogger and freelance writer. She likes to keep expectations low by avoiding craft projects that involve any real crafting. Follow along with her daily posts on Facebook.

error

Building a community one click at a time.