Pink or Blue: Does it matter to you?


[I wrote this piece a few years ago and found it and have reread it and wanted to post.  I love it because I’ve been able to see how I’ve experienced more and grown as a parent.  My son is certainly “all boy,” as they say but he also loves to wear bows in his hair because that is what his sister does.  He’s tried on my bra because it looks interesting.  He picks out kitty cat valentines instead of Ninja Turtles. Guess what? I love every single bit of it.  He is amazing to me.  He is creative, accepting and loving.  Lets encourage our kids to be exactly who they are– because they’re beautiful!]

When you find out you’re expecting it is such an exciting time.  Your mind is clouded with a million thoughts at once.  When I found out I was expecting I could almost feel the thoughts surging through my body… physically.  It was so much at once.  It was fear.  It was excitement.  It was overwhelming!  When the news settled with me, the fear and excitement  turned to complete curiosity!  This little baby inside of me… was it a boy or a girl?

I imagined a pink room with big monograms and pearls and butterflies and sweet sayings.  I imagined a room with dinosaurs and trucks and dark blue hues.  I wondered if I was carrying a boy or a girl.  I wondered if a boy would like dinosaurs or sailboats… or if a girl might love princesses or kittens!  All I knew was, I couldn’t wait to find out the gender so I could decorate “accordingly.”

In the news lately it seems that there is a lot of praise for “gender neutral.”  I certainly understand what the fuss is all about.  Recently someone tweeted that Target had signage that indicated there were building sets and “girls’ building sets.”  I assume that means there are building sets, and then there are pink building sets.  I understand that Target was just distinguishing between the two.  However, I also get that someone could take offense to this verbiage.  I have found myself in the toy aisle lamenting about how all the kitten toys have pink bows!  Why can’t cats be for boys?  We love cats in this house and I would love to find a “boy” kitty toy.

With this being a hot topic in the news, I’ve wondered recently… am I wrong to want to decorate a daughters room with pink and pearls?  Am I wrong to assume that my son wants dinosaur sheets and a train bed?  Am I wrong to wish that they had “boy” plush kitty toys?

Yes, and no.

I believe that once a child is old enough to tell you what they want and what they prefer, then by all means, indulge them! (within reason of course).  If my son tells me he wants the kitty with the pink bow and the diamond collar that is typically marketed for girls– he will get the kitty!  Even if I was secretly wishing there was a more masculine kitty option, I didn’t hesitate at all because underneath it all, it is a toy cat!  Whether it is a boy cat or a girl cat– it is a cat that makes my son happy and that is ALL that matters.  If my daughter told me that she wanted a train set with little boys playing on the cover of the box– give her the train set! This does not bother me.  I would buy them what they desired and would not make them feel ashamed for it or embarrassed by it.  There is nothing embarrassing about wanting these things.  A child’s interests should be encouraged.

With that being said, what I do have a problem with is the people that “hate” on those that hear they’re having a boy or a girl and decorate the nursery traditionally.  By traditionally I mean, a blue room for boys and a pink room for girls.  They are babies.  They can’t talk yet, they can’t tell you that they hate pink or that they love blue!  They are your sweet bundle of joy and you want the absolute best for them.  You want a room that you believe makes them happy and makes you happy.  If you have a beautiful little girl and you want to paint the entire room with Disney princesses, I think that should be encouraged and not looked down on.  You are not limiting this child and restricting what they are allowed to love.  You are painting a picture of what you think is fun/fitting for your child and what you think they would enjoy (and what you enjoy!).  You care enough to give them a festive room that they may grow up to love and they may not.  But for now, embrace this time.  Decorate, celebrate and love.  They are only babies for such a small amount of time.  Try not to overthink things.

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Why I won’t spank my kids

[note:  this opinion is solely my own! it is what works for me and my family. everyone is doing their best to parent the best way they know how.  I can appreciate all parenting techniques. people I know and love discipline all sorts of ways and they are wonderful parents. This isn’t meant to offend– it is just something that has been weighing on me and I felt like writing about it. love you all! ]
Tonight I’m posting about something that has been on my mind and on my heart lately. I’m not sure why I feel so compelled to write about it, perhaps because my son is 4 and he lives to try my patience. At some point in each day I sit with my head in my hands and wonder how I can make him listen! It is so frustrating and so perplexing. I wonder what I can do to make him do what he is supposed to do.

When it comes to discipline I’ve tried just about everything. Time out, taking away privileges or toys, etc. I’ve even tried “spanking.” (In quotes because they weren’t the spankings I got as a kid.) I’ve heard it time and time again from older family members, etc…, “He wouldn’t act like that if you spanked him.” “What he needs is a good spanking.” In my most insecure parenting moments I’ve taken these comments to heart and felt that maybe I was being a bad parent by NOT spanking my son. So… a few times here and there I’ve popped him on the butt. A little pop here or there to get him to really pay attention to what I’m saying. NEVER anything more. Guess what? A little pop here or there, still feels terrible. It still sucks. and oh yeah, it doesn’t work in the long run (or even in the short sometimes).

So, spanking. Let me tell you all the reasons I won’t spank my child. First of all, it feels wrong. Nothing about striking my child feels okay. My children are precious and I don’t want anything to hurt them. Or anyone. Including their parents. Even if it is a socially acceptable form of discipline. It is not acceptable in my house.

Studies over the past 30 years have shown time and time again that spanking is ineffective long term. It is a quick fix. It is lazy parenting. (Don’t take offense to this, we’re all lazy parents at some point in some way). I don’t want to be lazy in this VERY important part of my life. I want to be a good mother that understands my children. I want to see behind the reasons they act out. I want to listen to them, understand them and react accordingly. Spanking is dangerous because it is lashing out from our own frustrations. I think that sometimes spanking can be more of a release of frustration from ourselves instead of an appropriate discipline technique for our children. How is that okay? We tell our children not to hit. Keep their hands to themselves. Don’t act out… and through spanking we contradict every bit of what we’re saying.

Spanking is confusing for a child. Personally, I was spanked, and yes, it worked. (In that I was terrified to do anything wrong). I feared it to the point of feeling sick at the threat of it. My parents didn’t take joy in it. They hated it, I know. They even said it. As a child all I could think was, “if you hate it, why are you doing it?” 30 years later I still feel the same way. If it feels wrong, why do it? It was scary, caused a lot of worry, and it was very confusing.

A parent’s job is to guide us. They’re supposed to show us how to live in this world. Spanking a child because they do something wrong is not showing us how to live. We do not hit the first person that wrongs us in a day. Every situation is a learning experience. We should take these punishable situations and learn from them. We should teach our children how to think, react appropriately and make a better decision in the future.

In very stressful moments when my son is at his peak of rip-my-hair-out behavior, I can usually take a moment to find out what is really going on. He is 4. He doesn’t know all the perfect words. He doesn’t understand all of his feelings. Little children are so complex. Sometimes they act out because they don’t know any better. Often, my son acts out because he is tired, he is scared, he is frustrated, etc. LISTENING to my child can guide my own actions. I can prevent meltdowns by making sure he gets enough sleep, stays on a schedule, etc. I can listen to him when he tries his best to explain his own insecurities and fears. Even if he does them loudly, in the floor with giant tears. Our children don’t want to make our lives hard. They don’t WANT to meltdown or be upset. If we took the time to see this rather than get frustrated by the external behavior we could approach situations with compassion.

The times I’ve felt like spanking my child I’ve known that taking that way out is the lazy way. I don’t want to be lazy. I want to be an active parent that listens, engages, redirects and teaches my babies. I want to show them how to handle difficult situations in a positive way. Studies have shown that children who are spanked are more likely to have emotional problems in the future. They can be more aggressive, depressed, etc. (Please see this wonderful article for more facts and citations http://www.ahaparenting.com/parenting-tools/positive-discipline/should-I-spank-my-child ) I fear these things with my family history of depression/OCD/anxiety. The very LAST thing I want to do is contribute to the possibility of these outcomes.

I’ve seen the effects of being lazy on a child. My son was in a preschool last year that punished him for everything. If he didn’t want to stand in line he was sent to time out. If he ran from the teacher he was sent to time out. His first time out was at 2 years old. He was sent to the director’s office for the remainder of the day. Rather than try to understand the reasons for my son’s behavior, he was disciplined. They saw him as defiant. They grew frustrated with him and angry. They isolated him from his friends and activities. Eventually he stopped making art, his behavior got worse, he voiced troubling things to me and he was removed from the school. At his new school he is approached with love and compassion. He is appreciated for being the bright, beautiful child that he is. He is redirected when necessary. He is listened to and valued and he hasn’t been in trouble once.

I know I’ve rambled on a bit in this post but the most important thing I hope to express is that there is a better way to discipline our children.   Finding our own individual ways to discipline is our own journey unique to our children and our circumstances.   I think we’re all figuring it out as we go.  I’m also not judging generations before us. My parents were really good parents. Most parents are trying REALLY hard. We want to do a great job at this whole parenting thing. I think it is important to be willing to grow and change though. I saw on a friend’s facebook a quote that said, “When you know better, you do better.”  In 2017, we know better. I plan to do better.

An open letter to compulsive open letter writers.

Dear people with something to say to someone but no desire to say it specifically to that someone,

Hi.  Thanks for reading my open letter.  I bet you loved reading the title of this and seeing it was an open letter.  It is just so exciting to see someone gripe about something and send the words scattering out into the world like embers from a nagging, screaming volcano.  But this open letter is slightly different.  I am here to say that I am SO TIRED of open letters.

An open letter to the teacher that hurt my child’s feelings,”  “An open letter to the parent that judged my parenting style,”  “An open letter to the doctor that didn’t believe I had a condition.”  AHHH!! What are you DOING?  Why is this a time that you write an open letter?  If a teacher hurts your child’s feelings, SET. UP. A. CONFERENCE.  Do this for yourself and for your child.  Don’t go and spread the business around Internet land, sit back with a cup of coffee and wait for the likes to roll in.  Don’t feel justified by supporters in the comments section.  You don’t need those things.  You NEED to take your struggle to the school and talk it out with your kid’s teacher.  Settle it and move on.

These open letters are driving me insane.   Open letters are just a way to share a story complain about something with strangers without having them ask you to share your story.  It is perfect way to put your personal business on display for a hungry public to eat it up instantly.  If we as a society love one thing.,. it is getting in other people’s business.  You write your open letters because we’re all willing to sit back and read them– ready to take everything you say at 100% truth and we cannot WAIT to share our two cents.  We want to join this narrative.  Your anger is our anger, your truth is our truth.  But why?   What are we getting out of this?  What are YOU getting out of this?

If another parent judges your parenting… you’re going to go to the Internet and cuss them out for it?   The Internet?!   …But why?  Is the parent going to see it and run to you apologizing for their criticism?  Is anything going to change?  Is it going to change how you feel?  If you have something to say to another parent why not just say it.  They obviously felt they could say it to you.  Take your hurt feelings, your anger, your thoughts… channel them appropriately and address the offender, not the audience.

Contrary to what reality TV likes us to believe, everyone’s life is not a drama.  We do not need to know every detail.  We don’t need to know that Cindy in Utah had anxiety that her doctor refused to acknowledge and therefore she went 2 years untreated.  Yes, that is sad.  It is.  I am not completely unfeeling– but that is Cindy in Utah’s business… right?  That is something to work out with her doctor.  I understand the need to get the word out about certain issues, but jeez.  Our brains are overloaded with information.  There is a suggested number of social relationships people should limit themselves to and even though this is debatable, it feels so true.  I cannot take hearing so many individual stories from 328917 different people.  Especially from those that aren’t willing to do anything more than write an open letter.

Now that that is out in the open, I will say this.  I get the open letter appeal.  I get that it is fun to rant.  (After all, I am doing it in this post).  I get that you feel empowered to write your feelings and share them with the world and you SHOULD.   BUT— when I read these open letters I can’t help but feel that it is just a journal entry that you are submissively trying to expose the offender to (or maybe you aren’t at all.  You just love to rant).  I think that is why these open letters need to stop.  Don’t write an open letter– take your thoughts and stand up for yourself.  Stand up for your kid.  Go out and change your world, don’t just write about it for us.  We can’t help you.

Sincerely,

Someone who thinks we should get over this open letter fad.

6 Popular Diaper Rash Creams Reviewed!

 

I decided to do a review of diaper rash creams in the blog when my husband and I had a lengthy discussion about the pros and cons of several different brands recently.  Yes… we are that exciting.  Over the years we have used many different brands.  Currently, my daughter is teething so she is getting the lovely diaper rash that goes along with that.  Her poor hiney is so red and chapped.  Luckily, I’ve figured out what works for us and would love to share my thoughts with you! I wish I’d read more about this when registering for my first baby’s baby showers!  Also in the posts you’ll notice a link to the Environmental Working Group: Skin Deep website.  This is a great tool for researching the environmental and health impact of common products.  It is amazing which products you think would be fairly safe that aren’t at all.  I recommend this website for any product you use fairly often.  A great resource!

 

Vaseline

Okay, the first on the list is just your standard Vaseline.  When I had my first child one of my best friend’s told me that her mother used Vaseline on her younger sister all the time to prevent diaper rash.  I found that this was a cheap option that seemed to work well! I think Vaseline serves as a great diaper rash preventative.  It is also nice to have Vaseline around the house to use for taking rectal temperatures or to put around the mouth for a chapped face.  I purchased 3 big tubs of it on Amazon and it lasted for a while!  More recently I bought a store brand from Walmart or Target and it works just as well!

EWG rating: 1

Aquaphor Baby Advanced Therapy Healing Ointment

Second on the list is Aquaphor.  The Aquaphor I have tried is the Aquaphor Baby Advanced Therapy Healing ointment.  I really like Aquaphor as it is very similar to Vaseline.  It has Petrolatum (petroleum) as the active ingredient.  Unlike Vaseline, which is pure petroleum, Aquaphor has other ingredients (Panethenol, Lanolin, etc.) that help with the consistency and healing of the skin.  It comes highly recommended by dermatologists.  I have also bought Aquaphor for my children’s cheeks.  My son and daughter are both very faired skinned and their cheeks chap easily.  I cover their cheeks in the winter with Aquaphor before playing out in the cold wind and at night when they’re sleeping.  I like Aquaphor for a rash that isn’t terrible.  I feel like it can help a rash that is starting to resolve quickly without getting worse.  For more intense rashes, I look to other ointments.

EWG rating: 2

Desitin Rapid Relief Cream

Desitin is the diaper cream that my mom used with my little brother when he was little.  After having kids she would say, “You need to go get some Desitin… Desitin works so well!”  When I registered for gifts for my baby showers I included a ton of Desitin per my mother’s request and I have to say I was a little disappointed –Maybe because my mother built it up to be a cure all.   When I used Desitin it was just okay.  It didn’t dramatically fix my kid’s diaper rash.  It didn’t last very long and seemed to go on pretty thin.  I personally prefer a diaper rash cream that is thick and will still be there when I go to change my baby’s diaper.  My final thoughts on this cream… if someone gave it to me I’d use it, but I most likely wouldn’t buy it.

EWG rating: 5

A+D Zinc Oxide Cream

A+D was the diaper rash cream we used often with my son.  I think A+D is very similar to Desitin.  We tried the kind that was for the treatment of diaper rash that is made with Dimethicone and Zinc Oxide.  I think that A+D works fine, but like Desitin Rapid Relief, I feel that you have to put it on constantly.  It seems to go on thin and wipe off easily.  I felt like this didn’t help my son and daughter’s rashes.  I personally wanted something much thicker.  Again, like Desitin, I would definitely use A+D but I don’t buy it myself anymore.  I prefer other creams over this one.

EWG rating: 5

Boudreaux Butt Paste Original Diaper Rash Ointment – 2 oz

I have a love/hate relationship with Boudreaux’s Butt Paste.  I think it works pretty well.  The color is a bit weird.  There is no unpleasant scent.  I definitely have a tube of it at my house and use it fairly often.  One thing about this diaper rash cream is that it will stain furniture if you have an accident.   We found this out the hard way when my son sat on it on my mother in-law’s couch.  It took a lot of elbow grease but it finally *mostly* came out.  It is an oil-based product, like other creams, so it WILL stain clothing and furniture.  This is just something to keep in mind.  Honestly, keep this in mind with ALL diaper rash creams.  We’ve had a few too many accidents with diaper cream.  I’ve stepped on it, sat on it, etc.    I prefer this over Desitin or A+D, mainly because it is thicker and stays on a bit longer.

EWG rating: 1

Burt’s Bees Baby Bee 100% Natural Diaper Rash Ointment, 3 Ounces

Okay, I saved the best for last.  Burt’s Bees Baby Diaper Rash ointment with Zinc Oxide.  I absolutely LOVE this diaper rash cream.   The smell is amazing.  It has a good amount of Zinc Oxide (a product most of these diaper rash creams include) which really helps the toughest diaper rash.  I think the best thing about this diaper rash ointment though is that it is really thick.  It is very well made and goes on thicker than any other cream on this list.  You don’t need very much of it to cover most of the diaper area.  It is a little pricier than other creams on this list but not by much and because it is thicker it lasts longer.  Sometimes I buy the gift set that comes with Baby Wash, a small bar of soap and Baby lotion.  I’ve found the gift set on Amazon for as low as 15 dollars before, so it is a great deal.  (Prices fluctuate from day to day.)  I highly recommend this cream, and most other products from Burt’s Bees honestly.  Their products are gentle on the skin, smell great and have a pretty good Environmental Working Group: Skin Deep rating.  We always keep this in the house and reserve it for the worst of diaper rashes!  It is very effective!

EWG Rating: 1

I hope you found this helpful!  These were the most common creams I received at baby showers before my first child was born.  Like most baby products, it takes some trial and error to figure out which products works best for you and your baby.   Do you have a diaper rash cream recommendation?  What works best for you?  Leave suggestions or thoughts in the comments.