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Sunday, December 10, 2017

Preparing Children in Times of Crisis

As a parent we aim to keep life as simple as possible for our children. We want them to be KIDS. Not to deal with adult concerns, adult issues, adult responsibilities. Childhood is precious and we aim to protect our children as much as possible.

However there will be times in life where we can't keep our children in a little bubble of safety and protection. We recently had some severe weather in our area (Hurricane Irma) and it required our children to have knowledge and the ability to prepare in the event that the storm got to a point where their safety could be in jeopardy. However, there is a delicate balancing act as a parent during times of crisis. We want our children prepared, but we also don't need to cause them unnecessary anxiety. 

Here are my tips for preparing children in a time of crisis:

Keep Your Cool

Yes, this is directed at the parents. Freaking out in times of crisis doesn't help anyone. Not the situation, not your ability to cope, and surely not your children. When Irma came through we don't even live near the ocean...yet people in our area were in full on panic mode. If you know you are a higher anxiety person and times of crisis cause you to panic, I'd recommend reading up on tips to help cope and work on it during times of non-crisis so the next time something does happen you can be better prepared. Find ways of coping that work for you and then be sure to do what you need to to take care of yourself first. When times of crisis come, put your own oxygen mask on first so that way you can better help put on your children's. Once you are calm you are better able to help your child remain calm too!


Even as a non-high anxiety person, it's easy to be fearful when the safety of your family is potentially at stake. It doesn't help to be constantly "plugged in." Get the info you need and then get off social media. Turn off the tv. Quit texting. When Irma came through my husband was SO great at this. He chose a couple trustworthy news outlets, he checked in with their reports periodically and then he'd shut it off. He wasn't bombarded with overly exaggerated news reports, with the tons of pictures people were posting of their "storm prep," with input from every friend and family member on how to best prepare. He got the news he needed in order to protect our family and then he didn't let it consume him. 

When it comes to kids, there is no need for them to be "plugged in" during times of crisis at all. With phones now, our kids don't need to have the tv on showing the latest updates and causing them to be fearful. Leave the tv off, get the news you need from your phone where your kids aren't exposed to it. Let your kids hear what they need to know from YOU, not from other sources. 

Keep Adult Convos Private

Along with keeping the kids unplugged, they also don't need to hear your adult conversations regarding the crisis situation. In times of worry it's important to communicate clearly with your spouse and have a plan of action together. Go in a separate room to have this talk. Keep it quiet and calm and decide together how best to manage your family during the situation. Your kids don't need to have an input on how the situation will be handled, nor do they need to be hearing your discussions over it or the sharing of information that may not benefit them! 

Only Tell What Needs to be Known

When Irma came we let our kids know that a storm was coming and that it was going to be windy. We informed that that we'd probably lose power and explained what to do if that happened. They didn't need to know how strong the winds might be. They didn't need to know that we had a large tree close to our house that we were worried could fall. They didn't need to know our concerns or every detail and update. We let them know what would directly affect them. Nothing more, nothing less. Keeping it calm and simple allowed them to remain calm. Calm kids are MUCH easier to handle during a time of crisis than children who are scared or nervous or crying or fearful. 

Let Them Know What is Expected of Them

As I mentioned earlier, it's a delicate balance in dealing with children during a crisis situation. You want to tell them enough information to take things seriously, but not too much info either where they will panic. When things are different than the norm then they do need to have an understanding of how their routine will be different and what they need to be expecting. We let our children know that when they went to bed that night IF the storm got worse or came earlier we would come to their room and move them. We told them the power may go out and that they wouldn't need to be worrying if it did, their sound machines had backup batteries so they would keep working through the night and we'd come get them first thing in the morning. They knew things may be different and they understand what expectations we had of them during the storm. They understood it was a serious situation but not one they needed to worry about. Mommy and Daddy would handle everything and they just needed to be sure to listen to us and do what we say (of course obedience is something that has to be taught loooong before a crisis situation arises!). 

Give Them Roles to Help

Allowing children to help in times of crisis can be very beneficial in their coping strategies. It allows them to feel responsibility and pride that they are helping their family. If it's a storm have them help gather up flashlights around the house. Let them fill up jugs for water. And when the time of crisis passes? Also let them help in putting everything back to normal too! Helping each other is what family is all about and even toddlers can pitch in!

Explain the Importance of Remaining Calm

One of our children tends to be a more high anxiety type personality. I'm thankful for that because it's taught ME a lot regarding the importance of remaining calm. When she panics? It makes it SO HARD to manage her along with everyone else plus dealing with the situation at hand. 

It's important to explain to our children WHY they need to be calm. Let them know they don't need to worry because they can trust that Mommy and Daddy will take care of them. Show them their other siblings and tell them they can set a good example by being brave. Pray together and remind them that panicking is not showing God that we trust Him. 

Make it Fun

Even in scary situations it's possible to make it fun. I remember evacuating for a hurricane when I was a child and my mom made it into a super exciting adventure and my brother and I have great memories from that trip. When Irma came we had our kids all sleep in the same room to make it easier to access them if needed, but they just thought it was a super fun sleepover. We baked cookies and cupcakes to enjoy when the power was out. We played games together. We watched the storm together from our windows. 

By remaining calm and being prepared we were able to relax as the storm passed through and just enjoy the quality time the power outage allowed our family to have! 

How do you help your kids be prepared in times of crisis?

Thursday, November 30, 2017

How I Discovered Babywise

Today is Babywise Friendly Blog Network Day and we're all talking on the topic of "How I Discovered Babywise."

I have been blogging since I found out I was pregnant with my first child...back in 2008! This blog has truly covered my entire parenting journey. From before I became a parent to now a parent of three (almost 4!). If you have followed from the start (which is probably like 3 people haha!) then you have seen me grow and change in my personal life but also in my parenting.

I know many people say that parenting comes naturally. I just had someone ask for parenting book recommendations on Facebook. I commented my two favorites (Babywise and Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems) and then noticed the other comments that said things like "you don't need a book on parenting, it will come naturally!"

I know people are just trying to be encouraging when they say things like that. And I'm sure that some women DO feel like parenting "just comes naturally" to them. But that wasn't me. I didn't give birth and then suddenly KNOW what to do. KNOW how to best care for my child. I also didn't have an example that I really wanted to follow. Many times women who say it comes "naturally" for them have a close relationship with their mother and lean on her for advice and wisdom. When you're parenting with the mindset of breaking cycles from the parenting you received, you don't want to base your parenting style on that of your parents or that in which you "know naturally."

Those first few weeks of parenting were hard for me. I struggled with breastfeeding. I felt very overwhelmed. I had very little confidence. I let anyone and everyone give me advice and I was more likely to follow whatever others told me to do rather than make decisions on my own on what was best for my baby. NOTHING felt natural to me. Not one single part of parenting seemed "to just come easily." It caused my self esteem to plummet. I felt like failure of a mother because I didn't "just know" what to do. I felt lost and like this role I'd always dreamed of wasn't what I thought it'd always be.

I am a rule follower. I like a recipe when I cook. In school I preferred to be given a topic for discussion over being asked open ended questions. I like instructions. I follow directions. I am a total school nerd teachers pet type-a person.

Parenting was too open-ended for me. I didn't have a recipe. A rule book. Instructions or directions.  I function best in structure and routine and just felt LOST without some sort of guidance.

Thankfully a friend of mine recommended that I read Babywise. I read the whole thing cover to cover in one sitting the day it arrived on my doorstep. Not that it was a holy experience in anyway but I do compare my finding of Babywise to my finding the Bible. When I was 19 I read the Bible for the first time (like really read it) and it just all CLICKED for me. It's a guidebook for life and I was probably the "easiest convert" ever because I read it and was like "yup, this makes sense" and boom I got baptized and became a Christian and haven't ever looked back.

Same with Babywise. The Bible is my guidebook for life, and Babywise is my guidebook for parenting. I felt this huge weight lift from my shoulders when I read it. Finally I had something to follow. A PLAN of action I could put into place!

Even though I knew it was "my thing" as soon as I read it, it still took me a good while to really put the plan fully into motion. The book alone just isn't enough info. Once I found Chronicles of a Babywise Mom though? It was a GAME CHANGER. Newer mamas are so blessed with even more Babywise resources now (my blog included... which I always find to be a HUGE compliment to hear moms say my blog has helped them!). But between Val's blog and the book itself I was able to undo a lot of the bad habits I'd already started with Kye and slowly became the "Hardcore Babywise Mom" I am today.

Not only did I see the benefits of Babywise very quickly for my baby (he slept through the night at 8 weeks old!) but I saw them in MYSELF. I truly give Babywise all the credit for the mother I am today. I am PROUD of the mother I am. I have confidence in my parenting abilities. I'm passionate about parenting and am just so, so thankful that I discovered Babywise. It's given me a confidence and a purpose I feared I'd never find during those early days of parenting. I simply cannot imagine my life without it!

I know it's not for everyone. I know some people are less hardcore. Some take bits and pieces from the books and that's it. And that's ok! We are all different people and different parents and have to find what works best for US. However I will continue to recommend Babywise as a must-read for every mother or mother-to-be. You can't know if something is right for you if you don't read it ;) I know I'm so thankful I did!

How did you discover Babywise?

Be sure to check in with all the Babywise Friendly Blog Network Bloggers today to learn their "how I discovered Babywise" stories:

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