Category Archives: Suga Baby Health

“Toddlers & Snapchat Don’t Mix” And Other Reasons To Put The Phone Down

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The wailing and shrieking from Little Magician’s room woke me out of my sleep at 3am the other night.

There’s her usual whiny cry when all she wants is some company or someone to pull her blankets up under her chin (still a ploy for company, since she’s more than capable of tucking herself in) – but this? This was different. Something was wrong.

I found her sitting straight as a board on the edge of her bed, hair bonnet askew, trembling and crying – and when I asked her what was wrong, all she could do was raise a little arm and point at her dresser.

“The monster…the monster is right there with the googly eyes!”

I patted her back and said,  “Baby – I don’t see one. There’s no monster there.”

She nodded furiously and cried “Yes, mommy! The monster is there with eyes like our silly face pictures!”

And that’s when I realized it was Snapchat’s fault that I was up, trying to calm her back to sleep at 3am.

Lately, I’ve been working on limiting the mental noise that comes with excessive social media use. I love the connections that come from it, but recognize when I need to tap out from the constant influx of opinions and discussions and annoyances that exist across the mediums.

I’ll take a week off of social media here and there, but what I’m really working on is limiting my screen time before bed. It’s too easy for me to succumb to FOMO and the “let me just refresh the TL one more time” reflex – but as research has shown, it’s a much better sleep hygiene practice to leave the phone alone for an hour or so before bed.

But silly me. I’ve gravitated to Snapchat because it’s a fun way to engage without being inundated by others’ opinions, and Little Magician gets way too much enjoyment out of the filter feature on there. I thought Snapchat was safe, but that 3am wake up call – and other such events – have proven otherwise.

There’s the time she slapped the make-believe flower crown off her head so hard she almost cried.

Then, the time she nearly broke my real glasses because she tried to snatch the Snapchat filter glasses off my face.

Then, the time she had a meltdown because she kept opening her mouth, but her dog filter tongue wouldn’t come out.

Then, there’s the fact that she knows exactly how to get to Snapchat and its filters on my phone, and nearly snapped a (somewhat blurry but still slightly inappropriate) pic of me to my public story.

After these near-accidents and 3am freak-outs, I can see that the effort I put into managing my social media use will help her just as much as it helps me.  We clearly both need the sleep hygiene assistance so that social media doesn’t continue to seep into our subconsciousness the way it so effectively has.

It’s funny how our kids can motivate us to do better for ourselves than our own self-assessment. With that being said, I’ll definitely be renewing my efforts to put the phone, laptop, and any device with access to social media down well before bed. Hopefully I’ll get a more restful sleep, and hopefully Little Magician will too, without the interruption of googly-eyed monsters dancing her her room.

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Bee Quammie

Big hair+mouth. Word lover. Award-winning blogger. Freelance writer. Media commentator. Wife/mama/daughter/sister/friend. Dancehall Queen for life.

Childhood Traumas & Triggers: How They Shape Us, How We Avoid Them

BSM-protectWhen we think about the things in our childhood that shaped us as adults, do we first think of the positive memories, or the negative ones?

Childhood trauma is something I’ve been thinking about lately, and figuring out how to avoid unnecessary anguish in my children’s lives is at the forefront of my mind. I know I can’t control every aspect of life and society that will impact my child – but can I steer around some of the homegrown traumas that could leave a scar? That’s the plan.

Anything that makes me assess my own childhood inevitably finds me shifting the lens to assess as a mother as well. An example of this was an episode of one of my favourite podcasts, The Friend Zone, called Theater Masks. Co-host Hey Fran Hey led a discussion on the patterns we recreate in relationships – either attracting the same types of people who don’t serve us well, or feeling the need to act a certain way in relationships to receive love. The question she posed was hard-hitting:

Who was the parent whose love you craved the most? And once you have that parent in your mind, ask yourself ‘what was the performance that I had to put on to receive that love?’

Mind = blown.

I’ve thought about the ways to protect my child from abuse. We’ve made the decision to not spank or “give licks” as punishment. I try hard to not raise my voice (and fail often) and I monitor my frustrations so that I don’t take something out on my child that she didn’t create. HomieLuva and I work hard on our relationship so that we’re healthy as individuals and a couple to support our family structure. We’re trying to nourish our child with the skills, confidence, and self-love that will hopefully provide a buttress against those things that seek to chip away at her. Our children’s wellbeing and potential is paramount in everything we do – but am I missing something? Will she struggle in future relationships because of something we’re unconsciously teaching her now? Those insidious things are where my mind focuses these days. I don’t have a crystal ball to see what’s to come, but that episode of The Friend Zone put me on to a new level of awareness as I move through this mommy game.

The other side of the coin is that no matter how perfectly we create a safe space at home for children to thrive, you never know what they may face once they step out into the world. Additionally, is it viable to consider a life where a child faces no hardship and doesn’t carry any kind of negative experience with them through life? (No.) Is it realistic to think that Little Magician will always look back at memories of her father and I without saying “I wish they had done this” or “I wish they hadn’t done that”? How do we balance out the fact that bad things do happen in life – and definitely have a crucial role in shaping us – while still avoiding those superfluous traumas that didn’t need to exist in the first place? And how do you navigate trauma as a parent if you experienced trauma yourself – particularly if you haven’t worked through it yet?

As you can clearly see, this post is more question than answer, because that’s all I really have at this point. Even with the multitude of unanswered questions, I’m thankful for the reminder of awareness. Even moreso, I’m thankful for the fact that I have never worked so hard at something while knowing that I have no clue what I’m doing – but I’m accepting that as what motherhood is.

Maybe I’ll do an interview with Little Magician when she’s older to see how she feels about it all. Stay tuned.

Bee Quammie

Big hair+mouth. Word lover. Award-winning blogger. Freelance writer. Media commentator. Wife/mama/daughter/sister/friend. Dancehall Queen for life.

How I’m Managing Toddler Meltdowns With Mindfulness

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The Terrible Twos with Little Magician have definitely had their moments of terribleness. She’s impatient sometimes, but headstrong and independent all the time – so tantrums and meltdowns have become an expected part of life with a toddler.

I’ve been on my own anxiety and stress management journey for a couple of years now, actively working on making meditation and mindfulness regular practice. Ever since Little Magician could listen and take direction, I’ve been working on the same with her. Mindfulness for her looks like stopping everything, sitting still, inhaling deeply and exhaling slowly – we sit together and I guide her through the process whenever she’s frustrated, too wound up, or on the verge of a meltdown – and it really works for her.

It looks like we might be on to something. In this Upworthy article, Baltimore’s Robert W. Coleman Elementary School is featured as a case study in what happens when you replace detention with meditation and mindfulness – and the results are positive.

Instead of punishing disruptive kids or sending them to the principal’s office, the Baltimore school has something called the Mindful Moment Room instead. The room looks nothing like your standard windowless detention room. Instead, it’s filled with lamps, decorations, and plush purple pillows. Misbehaving kids are encouraged to sit in the room and go through practices like breathing or meditation, helping them calm down and re-center. They are also asked to talk through what happened.

In addition to the meditation room, the school also offers mindfulness techniques and yoga in after-school programs for kids from pre-K through grade 5.

The school has reported zero suspensions in the current school year and last school year, and other schools have started to implement mindfulness strategies, with similarly positive outcomes.

For me, this is a sign to continue along the journey of teaching meditation and mindfulness to Little Magician.  Benefits include stress reduction, better focus, improved memory, and higher emotional intelligence, so why wouldn’t I want to instill that in my child? And hopefully, she’ll be able to absorb this as a natural practice since we’re starting so early. Mindfulness and meditation can be difficult for me because it’s hard to turn my brain off – but hopefully I can start to normalize the practice for her now, before she has more stressors and responsibilities battling for room in her mental space.

The fact that schools are now starting to look at mindfulness as a positive approach and intervention for children is a good sign. Compared to the U.S. and the UK, Canada hardly collects or makes race-based statistics public, but a 2006-7 report from the Toronto District School Board showed that Black students were 3 times more likely to be suspended than White students. Black students made up 12% of the high school population, but accounted for more than 31% of all suspensions (comparatively, White students made up about 33% of the high school population, but accounted for 29% of suspensions). In the 2011-12 TDSB report, it showed that suspension rates have dropped across the board, but Black students are still disproportionately suspended – in grades 9-12, 8.2% of suspended students were Black compared to 2.9% being White.

Curbing these skewed suspension rates requires a multi-pronged approach, but as Robert W. Coleman has shown, meditation and mindfulness may be among those possibilities. Teaching students to be more attuned to their emotions and more mindful of their behaviours helps to re-centre their locus of control – and giving our children tools in their arsenal is part of what parenting and educating is all about. Best believe I’ll be tucking this info away in case I need to introduce this concept at Little Magician’s future school.

Wondering how to introduce your little one to mindfulness? Check out the Breathe, Think, Do Sesame Street app on iTunes and Google Play, aimed at teaching children problem solving skills, resilience, stress management, and emotional intelligence.

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So while I work on my own practice of mindfulness, I’ll keep involving Little Magician in the journey. Tantrum management now, possibly improved school outcomes later, plus a host of other benefits? Mindfulness is more than worth it to me.

Bee Quammie

Big hair+mouth. Word lover. Award-winning blogger. Freelance writer. Media commentator. Wife/mama/daughter/sister/friend. Dancehall Queen for life.

Affirmation & The Gift Of Confidence

"Little girl, don't be afraid to shine..."
“Little girl, don’t be afraid to shine…”

We’re in that mid-holiday period between Christmas and New Years, and though it’s been crazy busy and overwhelming (enjoying the process of decorating our new home for the season, hosting 2 big dinners, late – and rushed – gift shopping, and celebrating Little Magician’s first Christmas), I’m blessed that I still have lots of calorie-rich food to eat and family coming through my doors.

This year I’ve been less focused on tangible gifts (new baby and new house just six months ago? Listen.) but I’ve really been thinking about the intangibles that people can benefit from. There was a moment during this holiday season that has stuck with me since I saw it, and as I shopped for LM and the other children in my family, it kept popping up in my mind.

A couple of weeks ago, LM and I attended the holiday concert at the school/daycare my husband works at. For just over an hour, we sat with other proud parents and watched as class after class performed their little holiday hearts out. It was awesome that nearly every child had a turn at a dance or song solo – you could literally see them bloom as they each earned genuine cheers and applause, and the power of those moments was not lost on me. Among the best gifts a child can receive are affirmation and confidence, and these kids were getting them in spades.

Research is rife with studies reporting on the confidence issues among children and adolescents, and as I often say when encountering adults who clearly suffered in their youth, “Low self-esteem is an epidemic.” It made me think about Little Magician and the ways in which I hope to build and maintain her self-confidence and affirm her in ways that enrich her sense of self.

As a child, I was extremely self-conscious and shy, and when I think back, I have no clue why. My imagination was overactive. I was creative. I was smart. When I started attending  an elementary school for gifted and artistic children, the doors opened to so many opportunities to use that imagination, creativity, and intelligence – but I shied away from almost anything that put me in the limelight. I can still remember the ache of wanting to audition for that dance production but holding back…or feeling mad at myself that I was nauseous during mandatory vocal solos even though I knew I could sing the passage…or prefacing my presentations with reasons why they could have been better even though I knew I did the best I could. I held myself back from a lot and let nerves take over often, and I’m not sure why. All I know is I missed out on a lot of fun and personal growth by doing what I did, and I don’t wish that on any other child.

How do we affirm and instill confidence in our children? I’m only 6 months into this mothering game so I’m still trying to figure it out, but I have some thoughts based on my own experiences:

I plan to show interest in the things she’s passionate about, and ask questions to learn about those passions that may not be something I’m in to. I plan to give her praise and applaud her successes without fear of “spoiling” her. I plan to allow her to make mistakes, encouraging her to grow and learn from them and see that she can survive them. I plan to help her to have pride in the things that make her unique, and not to fear or be ashamed of the things that make her different.

It’s definitely not lost on me that external factors can be a mighty opponent in the childhood confidence game. Also, knowing that parents are human and thus are not infallible beings, I can’t promise that I’ll be perfect at this. What I can promise is that I’ll do my best to steer her away from the pitfalls I experienced, that robbed me of wonderful opportunities and that made me feel less than when I had more to offer the world than I realized.

After the holiday concert, I watched as kids ran towards their parents’ outstretched arms and heard how amazing they were. One little girl looked like she was about to burst with pride after her ‘Frosty The Snowman’ solo, and exclaimed “Daddy, I feel like I can do anything!” If she could feel invincible after singing a verse of a Christmas carol, I thought, imagine what she’ll try to accomplish next?  I later tweeted, “I wish parents could bottle up the confidence these kids had today and give them a dose whenever needed” and I still mean that. I may not be able to afford the next hot toy for LM or one of the other babies in my life, but I’ll work my hardest to keep giving them the gift of confidence.

Bee Quammie

Big hair+mouth. Word lover. Award-winning blogger. Freelance writer. Media commentator. Wife/mama/daughter/sister/friend. Dancehall Queen for life.

Breastfeeding Flaws, Failures, & Finding A Way

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A few short hours after giving birth to my daughter, a nurse came to my room to check on us.

“Have you fed her yet?” she asked. I shook my head no. “Alright – let’s see how it goes!” She sat across from my bed, smiled, and waited for me to begin.

The choice to breastfeed was a natural one for me, and in my mind, it was just the thing I was going to do. Sitting up in my hospital bed, I opened my robe and held Little Magician to my chest. She latched on and started sucking away – and I thought, “Well, damn! That was easy!” I would quickly come to learn that breastfeeding definitely was not – and still is not – as easy as I imagined it would be.

Bee, The (Faulty) Walking Milk Jug

Though babies typically lose weight in the days after birth, they usually rebound to their birth weight and beyond within a few weeks. Despite my round-the-clock feeding sessions, my daughter was losing weight on a weekly basis, and it didn’t make sense. When she seemed hungry, I fed her until she seemed full. My boobs felt (and looked) huge and heavy. I thought I was doing everything right, so I couldn’t understand why she would be losing gram after precious gram at each doctor’s appointment.

My doctor scheduled an appointment with a lactation consultant, and I felt a mixture of relief and shame. Relief because I was looking forward to tapping into a priceless resource and getting help for myself and my baby. Shame because I felt like an utter failure to be struggling with something as important as feeding her. My logical brain told me to remove emotion and cut out the embarrassment I felt in the clinic waiting room, but I couldn’t help it. I just hoped I would feel better leaving than I did going in – and I did.

The appointment with the lactation consultant was awesome. She practiced from a very holistic place and treated me as a whole person, not just a pair of breasts. After a few assessments, she offered me some great tips to help with my slow milk production and baby’s weight gain – and most importantly, genuinely reminded me that I was doing a good job.

The Sweetest Taboo

Breastfeeding in public for the first time was a complete shitshow. Holding a wriggling baby while trying to free a milk source while attempting to cover up with a blanket…it was a mess. It felt like it took forever to get her latched on, and it felt like everyone was staring. I swear I could see thought bubbles above the heads of passers-by in the mall, from both people who seemed to approve of and be disgusted by my breastfeeding. The anxiety of trying to feed Little Magician (which already had its issues) was exacerbated by attempts to cater to the sensibilities of people around me, and it honestly got to be too much. I keep modesty in mind, but while feeding, I only serve one person – and you, sir/ma’am who look appalled when you see little feet kicking from beneath a cover across my chest, are NOT that person.

Continue reading Breastfeeding Flaws, Failures, & Finding A Way

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Bee Quammie

Big hair+mouth. Word lover. Award-winning blogger. Freelance writer. Media commentator. Wife/mama/daughter/sister/friend. Dancehall Queen for life.