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My-never-ending journey-becoming-a-parent-who-smiles

Becoming a parent who smiles when you keep falling into the same old patterns

"Kids kids kids! It's time to get up my lovely children!

What starts as a whisper, gradually becomes a perky scream, as I notice that my two "bundles of love" are hardly hearing my voice under their still strong sleep.

At some point, I finally manage to actually wake them up and take them to the breakfast table.

We worked on our morning routine, and used so many of the positive parenting strategies here and there.. Yet, here we are : both kids in their pajamas, running again under their duvets when we only have 20 minutes to leave and be on time to school.

My daughter's staring at her drawer, lost in her own thoughts.

"Honey, you'll have to go to school in your pajamas if you don't get dressed, I'm leaving in 15 minutes.

"But I'm too cold mom! I want you to dress me! I want to be with you."

All this, while her younger brother is crying that he doesn't want to go to school, he doesn't want to brush his teeth, and I don't recall what else he didn't want to do by the way.

What does it take?

The purpose of this article is NOT to give you yet another very useful list of techniques or sentences you can use to survive to morning prep.

It is to show you that even when you do know plenty of these, you still have to adapt them to you, your kid and the specific situation you're in.. a never ending journey.

...continue reading "Becoming a Parent who smiles and grows – a never ending journey"

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I don't know about you, but I sometimes happen to be short of ideas on things to gift a friend's or relative's child with. Every idea that comes to my mind it's either something the kid already has, or something I've already given to him. So, I've decided that from now on, I only give books as presents! If you want to replenish your collection or look for a new birthday gift, here are some ideas for a new children's book, directly from our home favorites!

I miei suggerimenti per i libri per bambini
Little readers grow

First books

Making an exhaustive list is impossible. There's a children's book for all budgets, ages and themes.

So, to begin with, I'll start with the books we have at home, which my kids love to read aver and over again.

If you want some international suggestions, you can also take a look at the pages in Italian and French, where the list is different as in not all books have been translated.

Moreover, if you do need a specific suggestion for a new children's book, you may want to take a look at the Children's Library Lady. She has a broader collection of reviews/

Connected : Can you read a story?

...continue reading " Who else wants ideas for a new children’s book?"

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Never frowned in front of a child making noise in the train? Or sighed at a mom who couldn't keep her children still in the waiting room? Or worse, those parents who dare taking their kids out to dinner on Saturday night! What is your attitude with regards to disturbing children? And why is it important to talk about it? Well, let's see!

No kids allowed they disturb
No disturbing kids allowed - Photo by Gary Bendig on Unsplash

Italy (and Germany, US, UK..) : no kids allowed in certain restaurants

A few months ago, thanks to the magical powers of serendipity, I came across an article in an Italian newspaper.

A restaurant in northern Italy had banned children from entering. And since then, a ton of comments were published (because, as we know well, the internet frees us from any inhibition) which, for a good part, supported this decision. I even believe that the restaurant in question has seen its customers double.

In fact, I remained speechless in front of people's harsh words : "I can't stand children"; "I didn't want to have kids myself, so I don't see why I should put up with other people's children"; "today's parents are incapable of raising their children well"; and so on.

Some declared that, abroad, "You can immediately recognize Italian children!"; that other cultures are different and parents know better how to raise children in a proper way.

Others responded by accusing them of lack of empathy and support for parents (a minority nevertheless).

Who is right ?

no kids allowed to interrupt our quiet meal
You said quiet meal out? - Photo by Sonja Punz on Unsplash

...continue reading "No Kids Allowed : Should we ban disobedient kids from public places?"

For those times when you're bored but don't feel like inventing a game; for when you need a quick entertaining method for your kids, but don't want to turn the TV on. Or simply, when you just want to have fun together, and maybe discover new sounds and learn a foreign word.. This (non) exhaustive list of children songs is for you! More than 40 amongst our favourite songs - in English, Italian, French and German. Some are well-known, others may surprise you.. It's time to sing and dance!

English Children songs

You probably know Raffi already.. Although he was a recent discovery for me! And have you already been on a bear hunt with your child? Or met an alligator waiting for the elevator?!

I'll start with Raffi's children songs, if you don't mind! I love the values he shares, he imaginary world some of his songs depict.. and the music itself.

...continue reading "The top #40+ international children songs to sing and dance !"

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You come back home, tired from work, and all you can think of is sinking into your bed with a good book. You ask your 3 year-old-son to wash his hands before sitting at the table. What an outrageous request! "If you do not wash them, I'll wash them!" He's screaming, you're screaming. How can you handle such crises? How can you calm down and help your children control the storm of emotions? Let's see 10 ways to calm down - for the whole family!

ways to calm down breathing and meditating
Photo of Jared Rice on Unsplash

What could have triggered the crisis?

One morning like many others. "Mom, are we going to school today?" My little one asks me first thing once his eyes are opened. The angry look leaves no doubt: I want to stay at home!

Fortunately, we can take the luxury of having breakfast together before realizing it's late and we're all in our pajamas.

One way or another, we manage to get to the front door with the right clothes and enough time to go to school and office on schedule.

Mom, I want to take my bike !

My whole body gets ready for a fight or flight reaction.

Honey, you have to practice a little bit before, it's better if you come with me on the child seat for the moment. Tomorrow, if we can get out a little earlier, we can take your bike ok ?

Obviously, the stubborn and definitive answer is NO.

After a few attempts, I had to take him and put him on his seat...
C-A-T-A-S-T-R-O-P-H-E

Screams and desperate cries, scratches, kicks .. The ultimate crisis.

The one where you must be able to calm down before you can calm your kid .. not easy when your child's pulling your hair as if he wanted to shave you bold.

...continue reading "#10 easy ways to calm down in face of a major meltdown"

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You may avoid conflict, and measure your words to please others. Or the other way around: nothing better than a good and healthy fight! Maybe you're sick of all the fighting between your children; you've had enough of having to mediate on who gets the plastic glass with the blue stickers. How can you learn to manage an argument in a positive way? How can you help your kids solve a conflict without the yelling and the crying? Let's take a look here at some very useful strategies for all ages!

A regular fight

We're finally home, a quiet afternoon. While I'm putting our groceries away, I see my daughter throwing a delicate rose blanket and a pillow on the hallway's floor.

She plays for a few minutes on her improvised bed, and then she goes to her room.

Her brother, who was busy pulling a lighted turtle, silently takes his sister's place. He makes a cocoon with the blanket, holding his Teddy Bear.

Ah! Ain't it great when the kids learn how to play on their own and I can take the time that I need around the house?

I should have known better. It's called Murphy's Law. My daughter gets out of her room. Pay attention as the scene unfolds fast:

She stops, seeing her brother on the blanket. Then regains her posture, runs to him and hits him.

I had it first!

kids solve a conflict - go away
I had it first!!!

She pulls the blanket, but as her brother is on it she can't take it away. She pushes him hard until he falls off. They start pulling each others' hair, until my daughter finally can get a full hold on the blanket. Only to be called to order by

  • Her brother's desperate crying;

  • her mother's stop.

He started it Mom! I put so much effort to get everything done and he ruined everything!

...continue reading "How to help your kids solve a conflict without a sweat in just 5 minutes"

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Do you or your partner come from a different country? Or maybe, you've always had a hard time learning a new language in school; you love traveling, and you wish your kid could do better? Are you wondering whether to raise a bilingual child, but you don't know if it's a good idea, and where to start from? When our kids were born, we were living in France. We would only speak Italian at home. And I started worrying: is my child going to have problems because of this? Will she still integrate easily? I discovered, many parents ask the same questions.. Let's look at myths, truths and tips about why you should raise a bilingual child.

#1.Should you raise a bilingual child? It will allow your kid to speak to more people

Most of our closest relatives only speak Italian. In the city we currently live in, most people only speak French. So there was no other option : other children had to learn both.

Of course, if your spouse's family comes from a different country, and you really want to avoid any relationship, than you shouldn't raise a bilingual child. Forget everything about their language, their origins, their culinary tastes. They'll probably hate you forever, and you'll be sure never to see them again.

Or else: if you want your child to stay glued at your side for years to come, forever afraid of leaving the country for fear of not understanding all those weird people making those nasty sounds, than please don't ever let your child hear anything else other than your language. No traveling, no music, no foreign movies. What's outside your country, anyway?

...continue reading "#5 Reasons why you shouldn’t raise a bilingual child"

Jealousy is a complex feeling, have you ever thought about it? Try to think about the last time you were jealous. Were you able to recognize the symptoms and rationalize them? Could you express those feelings in a balanced way? It's not that obvious, is it? Well, now you can imagine how hard it can be for your jealous toddler to welcome a new little brother or sister, and learn how to become "the big one". Jealousy : Instructions for use ! (And I recommend: Handle with care!)
Jealous toddler seeing baby brother

What's jealousy?

Thesaurus defines jealousy as a "mental uneasiness from suspicion or fear of rivalry, unfaithfulness, etc., as in love or aims."

I think it's important to keep that in mind if we want to understand our child better! (Remember, empathy is the key to everything in a relationships).

Let's dive in!

...continue reading "How can you help your jealous toddler welcome the new baby?"

Just as handwriting gives a first psychological insight about a person, and is used by many companies in the recruitment phase, even our children's drawings and scribbles can tell many things about them.. Do you know what to look at when your children show you their works? Here are some key points to consider when you interpret children's drawings!

Why interpreting children's drawings

When we announced to the children that we would come back to France, and explained the consequences this would have for them, my daughter started drawing houses.

They were beautiful, cheerful drawings; but it struck me that the subject's choice had suddenly become "monotonous and repetitive" - while before she would mostly draw people, whether it was us or the princesses she liked so much.

How to interpret children's designs houses
Houses, houses, houses

Have you ever noticed any weird detail in your children's drawings, and wondered what they meant?

For example, take the drawing below : isn't it .. Say peculiar ?

How to interpret the children's drawings body

I wanted to investigate.. And I asked an elementary school teacher to give me some clarification.

...continue reading "Keys to understand what your kids’ drawings really tell about them"

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Mothers light up when they have to talk about their offspring and related joys and sorrows.. But what do men think about becoming a dad? Behind their silence, do they really hide a true hassle for such feminine occupation, or maybe ... ? Is it really that hard for them? If you are a dad, from the "not yet but maybe a day" level to the"Yes several times" one, then this interview is for you. If you're a mom, here's a point of view that could explain many things..

Becoming a dad is an adventure
Yes, becoming a parent is an adventure for all

Becoming a dad - the first time

Becoming a dad the first time was.. Well, there was the novelty effect, it was all very exciting. I really enjoyed attending the prenatal classes, and paying attention to the reactions and questions of the other couples; feeling that atmosphere of preoccupied excitement.

Then childbirth.. Watching as your child comes to the world is an indescribable thrill, and at the same time it feels like a normal thing in life. An extraordinarily natural phenomenon.

I am glad to have witnessed and seen everything; that's something you don't want to miss.

Those first days you're as suspended in a time that has stopped; with such a tiny baby, that's yours, you can't just stay indifferent, regardless of how much you're a rational, thick-skinned guy.

...continue reading "Becoming a dad. A chat about fatherhood"