Sandi is a mom of one in Norristown, PA
How many children do you have and what age groups? One teenaged daughter, Justine
What’s the best parenting advice you’ve ever received? Teach them to sleep. When Justine was a baby, she would scream and cry when my husband, Mike, and I laid her down for a nap or for the night. We then fell into the routine of cuddling and rocking her to sleep every night. Frequently, she’d wake up later, and then we would start the whole routine over again.
Mike traveled often, so I was frequently the sole cuddler and rocker. I was sleep-deprived and cranky, which made me a less-than-pleasant mother, wife, and coworker. One day at work, I was interviewing a childcare expert, and we spoke about unhealthy sleep patterns. I explained my situation, and he told me that I must put Justine in her crib at night while she was still awake. If she cries (which was a given), he said I should pop my head in occasionally to assure her that I was still there and that I loved her. Eventually she would fall asleep.
That night, Mike and I took his advice. Most of the time, we paced the living room floor, stopping each other from snatching Justine up and rocking her to sleep. Every 10 minutes or so, one of us would pay her a brief visit to let her know we were still there and we loved her. This only seemed to fuel her cries. Justine cried for an excruciating 45 minutes! But the second night, she cried only 5 minutes. The third night, not at all. Thanks to that doctor, we were able to break a nine-month habit in two days. We became a more rested, happier family. More important though, I learned my first lesson as a parent: As hard as it can be, sometimes the best help you can offer your children is to let them know that you are right around the corner and then let them alone.
What’s your own favorite parenting tip? Allow your children to fascinate you. I find my daughter endlessly interesting, even more so now that she’s 16. Since she was little, I’ve always wanted to know who she was and how she felt. A friend suggested playing this guessing game every night at dinner to encourage her to open up: I would ask her to tell me three things that happened to her during the day. Two of the three were made up, and one was the truth. I would guess which one was the truth. This little game sparked her verbal skills and creativity. We both looked forward to it, and I was surprised by how many topics we covered.
What do you wish you knew earlier about parenting? As the mother of a teenager, I wish I had cherished earlier times with her more. I would have taken even more pictures, taken her even more places, and made even more memories.
How do you get your kids to eat healthy food? One word: blender! Pureed cooked cauliflower and a pat of butter can masquerade as mashed potatoes. Pureed cooked carrots stirred into spaghetti sauce give it a nice nutritional boost. Also, my daughter loves dips. As long as celery and carrots and apples have a dollop of dip on them, she’ll eat them. One more tip: We eat cereal instead of ice creem and cake. Even the high-sugar cereals have some nutritional value.
How do you work exercise into your family’s life? Sometimes I can convince my daughter to walk with me to the local park. It’s a great time to talk, too.
How do you recharge your batteries? I read.