Hear me out, screen time can be a life saver at times when you have a toddler and you have other stuff that HAS to be done. I’m a big advocate of screen time for my 3 year old because I also have an 8 month old and I just can’t do everything all at once. So when I’m not busy with the baby and can play, here’s some of my favorite things to do. What activities would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments!
Draw with chalk
Go for a walk
Ride a tricycle
Play with play dough
Read a book
Make up a story
Go to the library
Visit a relative who doesn’t live with you
Have a picnic
Practice practical skills (i.e. putting on socks and shoes and getting dressed)
Go to the park
Plant veggie seeds
Make a mud kitchen
Have a race
Look for birds
Play with a sensory table
Have a playdate
Make a picture frame out of sticks
Get a craft kit from Lowes or Home Depot
Have you tried any of these? What is your go to activity to keep your toddler busy?
As parents, we often get a lot of unsolicited advice. We are told that what we’re going through right now isn’t that bad, and oh but wait, it’s going to get worse when your child is such and such age. The thing is though, that is not usually comforting and it usually doesn’t help the situation. We used to hear the phrase “it takes a village” in reference to neighbors, friends and family helping to raise kids and teach them. It is not like that these days unfortunately for many people. People may think they are supporting you when they are actually doing more harm than good.
Toxic positivity is an obsession with positive thinking. It is the belief that people should put a positive spin on all experiences, even those that are profoundly tragic. Now, you might ask yourself, “self, what is wrong with trying to look on the bright side and see the good in any situation?” In theory, nothing, but in reality, there is not going to be good in every situation, and it can make your feelings and emotions feel unseen. You may feel as though you need to pretend to be happy even when you are struggling.
It is frustrating and demeaning to be told in the mist of a toddler tantrum that it will only get worse as they get older, or at least they are having the tantrum at home and not at school. Comments like that are toxic positivity. The comments make you feel like you shouldn’t be feeling what you do, and if you do, what’s wrong with you? In the midst of an experience when you need actual support, hearing comments like that can be so frustrating. It makes you not want to confide in someone any longer because all they do is invalidate you.
Some other examples of toxic positivity might include: telling someone who has suffered a miscarriage that at least she knows she can get pregnant, telling someone to not be sad over a death of a loved one but to instead cherish the time they had with them, telling someone that things could always be worse, just move on, etc. Toxic positivity even includes phrases like “you’re doing a great job”. That doesn’t seem like it would be toxic but if you’re explaining to someone that you feel overwhelmed and like you’re drowning and failing, hearing “you’re doing a great job” is glossing over everything you just said about how you feel and once again invalidating your feelings. It is putting the situation in a box and putting a bow on it and calling it a day. This action shows that it is easier to just tell someone they are doing a good job than actually listen or try to help.
I’m a mom of two. I have a 3 year old and an 8 month old. I also have postpartum depression and anxiety. Toxic positivity I have experienced has included being told that I have two beautiful and healthy sons, why am I depressed? It is comments like that, that make parents feel like what they are feeling isn’t valid, and may even need enough to discourage said parent from seeking help by way of therapy or medication. That’s not the case for me as I tell anyone and everyone I have PPD and PPA. You can read more about my experiences with PPD here.
Positive thinking is not a bad thing, I’m not saying that positive thinking is toxic positivity. It’s not. Positive thinking can go a long way and be very helpful. Having a positive mindset can help you reach goals by giving you motivation and understanding.
A lot of times, people may not even realize they are promoting a toxic positivity environment. They might believe they are just sharing positive thinking. For example, if you’ve heard the phrase, “good vibes only”, it is essentially discounting any other “vibes” and saying there’s no space for them. That isn’t realistic and by promoting that type of mindset, it’s discouraging to both parents and children alike; as well as people in general who are not parents.
The Daily Positive says that toxic positivity interferes with the progress in your life. Healthy Positivity inspires purpose in your life.
If you’ve experienced toxic Positive, which many of us have, did it affect your progress with whatever situation you were in? What type of response did you give when exposed to toxic positivity? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments or feel free to DM me on Instagram.
At therapy last week, we discussed and made a plan to get both kids out of our bedroom (and bed) and get Sawyer to his crib and Colt to his toddler bed. We started that very afternoon. No one was getting restful sleep and I was feeling so incredibly touched out. I needed some space. It was really getting to me that I had no personal space and no time to myself and was making my anxiety worse.
It’s been almost a week and Sawyer has slept for 2 naps a day and each night in his crib. The first few nights were good, then for about 2 nights he was up almost every hour and a half and let me tell you, that was rough. I am so used to co-sleeping and just nursing Sawyer back to sleep that for me to get up out of bed, go upstairs, and then nurse him and then transfer him to his crib, it’s a whole process. Last night was great though! I believe it’s because I was doing some research, etc. on how many hours a day an almost 8 month old needs to actually sleep and I came across an article that said how many hours a day should be nap time and if baby naps, then xyz is bedtime, if baby doesn’t nap, it’s early and you’ll put them to bed at xyz time. So yesterday we did the naps based on how many hours he should be napping and then he was in bed 3.5 hours later after his last nap and it was WONDERFUL! He woke up a few times and was a little fussy, but not crying and fell back to sleep within a few minutes. Around 1am he was a little more fussy so I got up and went upstairs to nurse him and was able to get him transferred back to the crib without him waking and then he didn’t wake up again until about 5:30am. So I’ll consider that a huge win.
But, my problem with all this is, I am hearing him cry even when he’s not! It’s the oddest thing and I think a lot of parents can relate to hear phantom cries. I’ll wake up and look at the baby monitor and feel like I just heard him crying but there he is, fast asleep. I know I can’t be the only one. Has this happened to you?
We are going through the cosleeping to crib process earlier with Sawyer than we did with Colt. With Colt, I stopped breastfeeding and we transferred him to the crib at 19 months. Colt did good for about 9 months or so, but when we brought Sawyer home from the hospital last August, all bets were off. Everyone was in mom and dad’s bed. FOMO anyone?
When talking with my therapist, we decided that it’s best to focus on Sawyer first, because with Colt so attached to me, I need Sawyer to be asleep and in a routine before we start working on getting Colt into his new room and into his toddler bed. He’s only taken 1 nap in there so far. We are going to give it maybe 2-3 weeks of Sawyer in his crib and then go from there to get Colt to his room. I’m looking forward to the day when I can sprawl out in my bed and not have to worry about wearing something nursing friendly to bed LOL.
Don’t get me wrong, I love love love the snuggles and cuddles and seeing my sweet boys sleep at night, but at this point, for my mental health, I need some space. Sawyer is doing really well overall with the crib. We have a weighted sleep sack that he’s using and I have it flipped backwards since he’s a belly sleeper a majority of the time, so then it’s the weighted part on his back and feels like a hand there so it’s comforting to him.
I already feel a weight off my shoulders due to the time I gain from not having to contact nap. Like I said, I love the snuggles and love holding Sawyer to sleep, but I don’t want it to be for every nap. If we are home, I’m going to make every effort to make sure he naps in his crib. It gives me time to do things I want to do, like write this blog post. Sweet Sawyer is taking his 2nd nap of the day in his crib right now. And guess where Colt is napping? In our bed with my husband Kyle. Things are changing, and it’s important to remember it’s all a season of parenthood.
Making a change like this is definitely an adjustment, but thankfully so far there hasn’t been too many tears, mostly just whining. I don’t think my momma heart could take tons of crying with this process. I’ll add also that to help Sawyer sleep, the camera for the baby monitor has music playing, I have a fan on that has noise and he also has a sound machine. This is not only for him to be able to sleep peacefully, but with a loud 3 year old and 2 dogs who bark at everything, it’s necessary. I don’t want anyone to have to tiptoe around because the baby is sleeping.
Tell me what you think, did you cosleep? Were your kids in their crib right from the start? I support all parents and know that what works for me and my family may be entirely different than what works for you and yours. Parenthood is about lifting each other up and finding your virtual village to help. Parenthood is HARD.
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I have postpartum depression. It doesn’t mean I am not overjoyed by my baby. It means that despite that, I struggle most days. I feel touched out, worn out, exhausted, overjoyed, mentally and physically drained.
So many tasks seem overwhelming and impossible, but having an almost 3 year old and a 6 month old means carrying on with day to day activities despite those feelings. Frustration comes swift and quick most days and I find myself having to actively remind myself to take a deep breath or walk away when I need a minute so I don’t feel like I’m going to start yelling. The majority of the times, it is me and my feelings that make me have “rage” or feel like I’m at a breaking point, it’s not Colt (my almost 3 year old) or Sawyer (6 months old) or even my husband Kyle.
It’s just my own feelings of being overwhelmed and just wondering how in the hell I’m going to do everything. But that’s the thing. I don’t have to do everything. I have my husband, I have a support system. My parents, sisters and in-laws are all close by. They all pitch in and help. I have great friends, both local and ones I’ve formed online friendships with over a bonding of having children and a love of reading. I have outlets. I’m taking medication to help with my postpartum depression and I go to therapy every 2 weeks.
The coping tools I have in place are exactly what I needed. I wanted to write this blog post not to scare anyone, but to say it’s okay and normal if you have similar feelings of overwhelm and mom guilt like I do. Especially if you’ve got a toddler and a new baby. But, it’s important to reach out. Have a support system, have someone to talk to. It doesn’t even have to be a therapist. A friend who can either relate because they are a fellow parent or even just struggle with depression themselves. Depression shows up for people in so many different ways and there are so many different triggers that can set you off and make you feel like your bouts of depression and low moods can last forever.
The other coping tools I’ve formed for myself since 2022 has started has been exercising. A lot. It makes me feel good about ME. And coping with my postpartum depression is about me so it is important that I feel good about myself and give myself an outlet like exercise. I found a great program in the beginning of January called obé fitness (this is not at all sponsored). It’s a great site that has so many different types of workout videos (live and on demand) from hiit to cardio to jump roping to spin, yoga, meditation, etc. I’ve found a community there through their facebook group for members of the site and I’ve really enjoyed posting my #sweatyselfies after I do a workout. They have videos that last from 5 minutes to an hour so there’s nearly no excuse to not at least try to get one video in a day. I also have been paying more attention to eating healthier. Although I am vegan, there is still so much opportunity to eat junk food and not eat the right foods. I’m actively trying to eat more whole foods plant based and eat less processed stuff. I’m rediscovering a love for salads which had gone away when I was pregnant with Colt back in 2018.
I think coping with postpartum depression looks different for everyone and while the tools I have used for me might not work for you, it is important to try to find what helps. Dealing with postpartum depression by yourself or trying to mask it behind fake smiles and nightly tears can be a lonely place. No one should have to go through it alone. If you feel you don’t have anyone to talk to, please reach out, even to me. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org or feel free to message me on Instagram.
I hope sharing my experience with postpartum depression has made you feel a little less alone. It’s still on going with me. I’m 6 months postpartum with Sawyer and every day is a challenge, but I’m open about my journey and hope it has helped. If you’ve struggled with postpartum depression, or any type of depression, I’d love to know what has worked for you in terms of tools to support your mental health.
2022 started out with sickness after sickness for our house. We all got hit with Covid mid January and it kicked our butt. Colt went back to daycare for one single day before catching a stomach bug so he was out the next school day. He passed it onto Kyle and I, and thankfully my parents live close because they came to pick Colt up at 3am so we could focus on all of us being sick once Colt was over it. Having the stomach bug is the worst 😫 Unfortunately it then got passed onto my parents and Kyle’s parents. So it’s been a time of sickness for us. Just like the last 6 months have been. Here’s to hoping spring brings healthy days. Stay tuned for some new blog posts this week.