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Parenting Philosophies

As a girl who grew up in the backyard playing baseball, roller-hockey, and making mud-pies, I was more than a little nervous when the ultrasound tech looked up and said “There is your daughter!”

You see, at a young age, up until I was about 20, I hadn’t ever spent time with little girls. My brother had two sons, my cousin is a boy, most of the neighborhood kids were boys, and the ones that were girls really weren’t keen on being my friend. I always dreamed of having a little girl but when it came time I realized I had no idea what to do with one.

My daughter is now 4 and while I learn something new about raising girls every day, here is a list of 5 things I definitely know about raising girls.

1) One size does NOT fit all

We all know women come in all shapes and sizes but for some reason we tend to put our daughters into two categories...tom-boys and girly-girls. But what if your little girl loves to roll in the mud while she plays princess? Well, my friends, it means you have a GIRL. Little girls (and big girls!) are fluid creatures with ever-changing likes and interests. How awesome is that?

2) They copy EVERYTHING

Imagine my horror walking into my 4 year old daughter’s room to see her trying to make her tiny tummy smaller. Yeah...Read more

According to the Mayo Clinic,

the "terrible twos" are a normal stage in a toddler's development characterized by mood changes, temper tantrums and use of the word "no." The terrible twos typically occur when toddlers begin to struggle between their reliance on adults and their desire for independence. 

As parents, this is an extremely difficult stage to navigate. 

Let me take you back to 1998, when my precious Tyler Jane was just two years old. We drove to Virginia to visit my parents for a couple of days. My girls woke up the first morning and we all scurried into the kitchen for breakfast. Erica sat at the table, and Tyler in her high chair. They both sat patiently and waited for me to serve their cereal.

Once breakfast was served, two year old, Tyler decided that she wasn't going to eat her breakfast.

The rules were breakfast first, then playtime. 

Tyler was fully aware of this rule. 

After repeating the rule a few times Tyler looked me dead in the face, grabbed the edge of her bowl, and dumped her entire bowl of cereal onto the floor. 

I removed the tray from the high chair, picked Tyler up and brought her into the guest bedroom where Jerry and I were staying. 

Two words: TIME OUT! Well deserved, I might add. 

She cried for a little bit, as most toddlers would in...Read more

At 22 and 18 years old, my girls love to hear us talk about them when they were young.

You know, back when bathing suits were called “baby-suitins”, bicycles were called “bikle-cycles” and refrigerators were “fridger-jitters”.

They love to reminisce about their childhoods and the more they hear, the more they want to hear. They remember planting jelly beans in the ground and waking up on Easter to a garden full of lollipops that magically grew overnight. They remember when Ty pooped in the bathtub that she was sharing with Erica… 

I had a vision for what childhood should look like AND for what it shouldn’t look like. I knew that a nurturing and fulfilling childhood filled with validation and structure could lead to great self-esteem. I also knew first hand that a childhood filled with shame and self-doubt, fear and anxiety and too much independence could lead to terribly low self-esteem.

I have said it before and I will say it again…

I was determined to bestow upon my daughters, the most empowering gift of all. The gift of amazing self-esteem… and I did.

So today I share with you 3 of my “shoulds” and 3 of my “shouldn’ts”… (there are many but I will share 3)

Childhood SHOULD be about…

1)   Creating wonderful memories. For us, it was painting seashells after a trip to the beach. Baking cookies at Grammy’s house. Family apple picking days. Making Halloween costumes....Read more

I learned everything I needed to know about different parenting styles as a young teenaged babysitter. Really!

Prior to that, I only knew how my parents did it and if the truth be told…. I wasn’t so impressed with them.

So… I watched. And I learned.

I learned that some kids were allowed to watch tv whenever they wanted to and I learned that some kids were allowed to have two cookies and a glass of milk before bed. I learned that some kids brushed their teeth every night before bed and were read  a story and other kids skipped the teeth thing and walked themselves to bed and went to sleep. I listened as some kids told me “I can stay up late, just don’t tell my mom” and other kids said “8:00 is my bedtime”.

I was able to understand from watching the behaviors of children from different families, exactly what systems created what kind of children and for that, I will always be grateful.

I watched the mothers closely. I didn’t pay much attention to the fathers but I watched those mother’s moves like a hawk. I watched how they interacted with their children and with their husbands. Did they tell their kids they would come and kiss them goodnight when they got home or did their kids just wave goodbye at them from in front of the tv? Did they seem excited about a romantic date with their husband or were they mumbling sarcasm under their breath as they were leaving. I noted how they dressed and how their houses looked. I looked...Read more

I’ve written in the past about the word should – it’s a dirty word, and when it runs through my mind it brings along its friends - self-doubt and shaky confidence.

Five years ago I became a mother and I tuned out the world; I quieted the noise outside my head.  I could not have cared less what people thought and Karl and I existed in our own little cocoon for a while.  As I started to emerge and join the ranks of motherhood, making some new mommy friends, reading what others had to say, I suddenly thought to myself, “Are these the things I should care about, think about, ask about?”  I never had, but I felt this odd awareness that perhaps there was some rulebook or manual that I had (like I do with so many other things) put in a pile and forgotten to look at… I realized I must have been doing it wrong.  Except, that’s not what happened.  I was doing it right, I was doing it exactly as I wanted to... and then I stopped, and tried to figure out what I should be doing.

I stopped trusting my instincts and instead tried to determine what the character playing the role of Mother in each scene would be doing.  Making myself crazy in the process and being annoyed with myself (or the character I was playing) and not really understanding why…

I am so fortunate to have help with my kids – a ridiculous amount of help, in fact.  More help and support than any girl could ask for; and yet, I’ve spent a lot of time running around like a chicken with my head cut...Read more

The other day, I was reminiscing with a mother I’d helped years ago. She’d e-mailed me pictures of her children, and you can guess my reaction: “I can’t believe how much they’ve grown!”

We started chatting, and she shared her concerns about her oldest son, who was going to sleep-away camp for three weeks, and her worry that he might be homesick.

The conversation pulled me back in time to my own childhood. I can’t remember my first sleepover at a friend’s house, so it must have gone well. But summer camp was another story. I remember feeling the cold claw of homesickness squeeze my heart as I watched my mom drive away.

Before I knew it, night fell and it was lights out! The cabin was full of hot, steamy, happy little bodies, but when those lights went out, I might as well have been alone and naked in the dark forest.

Of course, I survived and had a fantastic time. But shouldn’t we do everything we can to make the transition to sleep-away camp as easy for our kids – and for us – as possible?

As our conversation progressed, I realized that it’s all about feeling safe and secure. There are things we can give and say to prepare our kids for long periods of time away from home.

·      Make sure that your camper has whatever “comfort” stuff he needs – like his own pillow, stuffed animal, or blanket.

·      Tell your little one that feeling homesick is natural and that having trouble falling asleep away from home is normal...Read more

 

Attachment Parenting on a Schedule

I only breastfed for a few months, I fed on a schedule, my children slept 8-10 hours a night at 3 and 4 weeks old and no child of mine ever slept in the bed that I make love to my husband in. And still… We are attached. Incredibly bonded and attached.

I ran a tight ship around here. There was a schedule for everything and we stuck to that schedule. Modifications were made to the schedule when necessary and those modifications were quickly maintained. This was our choice for our family; it was never open for debate or discussion. It was our decision to make and we made the right one for us.

That being said, my confidence level hovers around the 10+ mark on any given day and I don’t seek the approval of others, ever. I make decisions with my partner; Jerry Patterson and we act on that decision. Together, as a team.

If you are the judging type and I hope for your sake you are not, judge away.  It will have no impact because I have the advantage of watching it in action for two days shy of 21 years and I wouldn’t change a single thing.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to do anything as powerful as parenting. I simply know what my family needed.

The part that I have a difficult time with, is the assumption that “scheduled parenting” creates less of a bond or a disconnect. The bond I have with my girls can only be compared to the bond between...Read more

Albert Einstein defines INSANITY as “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”.  I agree with this, to an extent.  Although lately, it seems to be failing me – in a big way.

In doing [seemingly] the same things over and over, I expect to feel the same way each time, and when I don’t I question EVERYTHING about what I’m doing, why I’m doing it and why I’m having this crazy, illogical reaction or response.  I assume I am doing it wrong… this is the start of self-doubt and a shaky confidence…

Wondering what in the world I’m talking about?  CHANGE!  Normal change, the changes that happen when you grow up, and by default, when your children also grow up.

This week marked some new changes and transitions… And… right now, I am FREAKING OUT! 

Mia started camp this week.  I now get these “easy” drop-offs…  I drive through the “drop-off circle”, pull up to the curb, a counselor opens the door, I hand Mia her lunch and backpack, blow her a kiss and off she goes.  Hmmm.. that’s it? Not so fast…

Day one, upon exiting the circle, I promptly turned back into the parking lot, and sat in a spot that had a clear view – I watched Mia talk to the counselor and a new friend (does she look happy?  Is she confused?  Does she know where she’s supposed to go? Should I have walked her in?); I then drove through the circle again (inconspicuously, of course) to watch her walk into camp.  Ok, I’m lying… I drove through the circle TWICE...Read more

The word authority is derived from the Latin word auctorita, meaning invention, advice, opinion, influence, or command.

At our house, the grown ups are the authority. It’s always been how I imagined being a parent would be. You know… the “because I said so” philosophy”. Now that may sound harsh to some but I have the advantage of seeing it play out over nearly 21 years.

“Because I said so” can be dismissive. Wait… it’s meant to be dismissive. It is said as a means to end a discussion with the speaker being the ultimate authority.

So think of how debilitating it would be without any lead up or prep time.

Wondering what the hell I’m talking about?

This is where “O.K. Mommy” comes into play.

When my girls were little, way before they could talk, at an age where most people think children don’t understand, I believed they were teachable. So I taught them. I taught them about concepts that were larger then them and they grasped those concepts. Not completely, but enough.

I’ll explain….

You know when they first learn how to walk and they teeter around just happy to be doing something new? It’s also about the time that they start picking up small pieces of lint or string and either putting it in their mouths or offering it to us, their mothers. During this time we find that our sophisticated, articulate self, spends most of it’s day saying things like, “yuck, blecch, we...Read more

 

Top 10 favorite books

Whenever I go to a baby shower or get a gift for a new baby, I always add a book for the child’s library.  Over the years with my boys we have received many books and several have had written inscriptions from friends and family.  Reading the book was like finding an old letter and the boys always remember who gave them “The Polar Express”.

Here are my top 10 favorite children’s books, and why

10. Teddy’s Busy Day - As you can see from the blog photo, we got our monies worth on this book!  Each page offers your child a new activity to place the cardboard Teddy.  This is the perfect “child on your lap” book.  This was the final book of the night for a very long time. 

9. Guess how much I love you - I got this book while I was pregnant with my first.  I used to read it to him while I was pregnant imagining what it would be like to read it to him when he was on the outside.  I get chocked up to this day when I see that book in a store because of the storm of emotions it brings out of me.  As parents, the book also teaches us how our children want and need to understand that we love them.

8. The Very Hungry Caterpillar - Like every book by Eric Carle, this...Read more

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