Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Busy and crazy (advice needed)

Things are really great around here, but busy. I am so behind - with housework, with thank-you cards, with Christmas-present buying. 

My days are spent nursing Essie and disciplining Clara and Luke. 

Just a snapshot of our daily life - kids lying around peacefully on blankets. (That's scarcastic, in case you can't tell.)

And, it seems, that those two things go hand-in-hand - the older two are at their worst when I'm feeding Essie. They fight, help themselves to items in the freezer, climb on the coffee table, jump off the coffee table, you name it. I've let it go on too long (of course, I yell but it's as if no sound is coming from my mouth) and I still don't see a solution. Right now I use the TV, but I know they are just that much crazier when it's on. Well, not right at the moment that it's on - they're awesomely subdued and not wrestling each other or the furniture when it's on - but the rest of the day. It's just becoming too much of a crutch for me.

I just can't figure out what else to have them do. They won't play in their rooms, coloring is not an option due their inability to maturely handle crayons (they [i.e. Luke] either throw them, color on everything but paper or lodge them in ears), and they're completely not into their toys when I'm nursing.

I welcome any advice.


Another problem I need your help with (because you all have a pretty good track record of solving my parenting conundrums) is Clara's fear of the dark. She's never actually told me she's afraid of the dark, but she won't sleep without a light on so I have drawn my own conclusion. And by light, I mean lamp. We tried Christmas lights for a while, which worked, but they were pretty bright and ended up dying anyway. She used to be okay with one of those stuffed animals that shined lights on the ceiling, but we are way past that at this point.

We also used to sneak in and turn her light off after she fell asleep, but she is on to us now. At first she'd just wake up and turn it back on herself. But now her lamp is too high for her to reach so she just screams for us and wakes the house up. 

Someone out there must have dealt with this, right? Should I just let her scream for a few nights? 

Could you say "lights out" to this face???
It's not all problematic, though. They are sooooo sweet lately. Clara helps with Essie a lot. Her primary job is to turn the music back on when Essie's in her little seat and it cycles off.

She's also talking up a storm lately, saying so many more things, talking so quickly, so animated. One day, a couple weeks ago, it was like a switch flipped on and her language - and volume - exploded. She's always been a talker, but it was like she'd had caffeine! She's also her brother's keeper - she lets me know when he needs to go to naughty spot, or the doctor, or to bed. 

We believe in clearly-defined gender roles in our house. Except for Luke's pink bed sheets.

Luke is silly, as always. My favorite story about Luke, which I think totally encapsulates his little personality, happened when he was shopping with me one day. As I'm browsing the fabric in a quilting store, he starts excitedly telling me, "Mommy! It's Philip Phillips! It's Philip Phillips!"(yes, my son is well acquainted with the reigning American Idol). I'm thinking he's talking about a song playing in the store (because he can pick out his favorite PP song with one note, and I'm not kidding), but no. He was having (what he thought was) his first celebrity sighting.

And tell me you don't see the resemblance.


That's my two-year-old for ya (and you can judge our musical tastes all you want. "Home" is one darn good song).

Oh, and the best news of the week thus far... Essie had her six-week check-up today and she is now eight pounds! That's two pounds in a month! Esther can really eat. She fits in great with me.

This is from last week. Her cheeks are a half-pound chubbier by now.

Ryan is now home from work and we are going to irresponsibly watch some television instead of sleeping and will regret it in the morning. We never learn.

Oh, and I didn't win, but this blog was nominated in two categories - Most Inspirational Blog and Best Mommy Blog - in the Sheenazing Blogger Awards hosted by A Knotted Life.


Mommy Blogger?! To think this Catholic infertility blog is now considered a Mommy Blog is a little mind-blowing for me.

I know, I know. I have three kids. Clearly this became a Mommy Blog a while ago. But I'll never get used to that, in a good way.

40 comments:

  1. What beautiful children....and that Essie is such a doll! Anyway, I rarely comment but wanted to tell you that our five (yes five) year old sleeps with a little lamp on..its a small desk lamp that doesn't give off a TON of light but enough to read/awake by. We usually just leave it on; if he wakes up, as long as its on, he's okay. I would just get Clara a smaller lamp and leave it on, as long as you can get some sleep. Whatever works, right? (I should note that his fear of dark grew after we let him watch an episode of Finding Bigfoot and he thinks Bigfoot lives nearby us now!)
    As for nursing, although I only had one to entertain while nursing my younger one, I sometimes found reading while nursing helped him or even just sitting at the table nursing her while he played with playdough, etc (he was older than your two then, though, so he could do more crafty stuff). Good luck and God bless! You are doing a great job, whether you know it or not!

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    1. Thanks for the idea of the small lamp.. and you also got me thinking about nursing on the floor with them or at their table. Thanks! And I think Clara got the idea to need a light on from watching a show that was supposed to help kids who are afraid of the dark. I've heard from other parents that that happens a lot!

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  2. Love all the photos K especially the first one...that's a framer! E sleeps with a flashlight and that seems to work well...whatever keeps him happy, especially at bedtime! I need my sleep, haha! I'm sure she'll love a little flashlight or pretty lamp. As for the behavior, I have no advice! I just checked out a bunch of discipline books from the library. I really liked 123 magic but it only works if you can move them to timeout which wouldn't work in your case. This time of year is so hard being inside so much. Maybe you could nurse by your kitchen door and have them play outside? Anyway I look forward to others answers about discipline bc we're dealing with that challenge now too. E does listen better if he has run off his energy outside a bit but sometimes getting a coat on is even a challenge, haha! :)

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  3. My friend would only let her daughter use her iPhone and iPad to play angry birds when she was nursing. That really helped because she was so happy when it was time for the baby to nurse. Don't know about your kids though, since her daughter was 3.5 at the time and didn't have another kid to get wild with!

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  4. TV!!! I buckle Isaiah into his high chair and then Isabella and the girl I baby sit will sit nicely on the couch (for every feeding for the twins). I thought I would never do this, but Isaiah fell off the kitchen table 3 times during one feeding a few months ago and that was much worse than TV. And the girls would get into the freezer (what is the fascination?) and other stuff and on yeah....fight over toys they didn't even want to play with anyway...just wanted to make sure they took advantage of me being preoccupied.
    So, TV is my crutch and life saver until the twins are weaned....so no time soon!!

    Don't feel bad about TV. There are worse things....like ER visits...

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    1. Thanks, Julie :) We watch waaaaay too much TV, but I think what I can do is only let them watch it while I'm nursing, that way it's even more special during those times.

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  5. I used to nurse when they ate meals, during bath time, with them in the car at the end of an errand, pretty much anytime that they were already busy or contained.

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    1. Those are good ideas!! And I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who has dealt with this problem!

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  6. I have nursed 5 babies, and learned that toddlers love to act out when I am nursing. It is a phase, but one you can get a hold of with some basic discipline. I'd start on the weekend when Ryan is at home, but I'd give them an activity (large legos, dolls, kitchen play, etc.) and set the timer for 20 minutes telling them you are going to sit and nurse. If they act out/start being destructive, I'd have Ryan remove them to their room and close the door. I'd then continue this routine (breaking from nursing in the beginning) until they know you mean business. I'd also consider gating off a room and sitting in there to nurse while they play. FWIW, I think Clara is old enough to learn that there are rules when mom is nursing. Luke may be more challenging b/c he is younger. BUT I have never had a child be really destructive for more than a few weeks with proper consequences. And they should get some sort of reward for being "good" while you nurse. Perhaps a small snack, or a game on your ipad or something afterward.

    As for the light, I'd give her a very small night light and not unplug it until she is older. Start her out with that at bedtime, and then leave it alone so that if she wakes up the light is the same as when she went to bed. I'm sure she will tantrum for a few nights when you first tell her she can't have the larger lamp on -- but you will be dealing with this tantrum at her bedtime, when you are alert and awake, and not in the middle of the night. I do think kids sleep patterns are disrupted from sleeping with too much light, so you aren't crazy to want to wean her down to a more reasonable amount. And when she starts sleeping through the night with the nightlight and not complaining, I'd give her a big girl reward. Good Luck!

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    1. Thank you!! That's a GREAT idea about the discipline. We have totally slacked off since adding the baby to the mix. And it would work good for us because Ryan works evenings, so he could do this every morning while I'm nursing to set the tone for the day.

      On the same token, though, he's not here at bedtime, so that's why we have the light problem in the first place. Luke is such a problem sleeper that I picked my battles being here all alone with them and let her sleep with her light on. And I agree.. they say sleeping with light isn't healthy for adults, so I'm assuming it can't be great for kids either.

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  7. Will Essie nurse in a sling yet? I don't have more than one, but I used to nurse Isaac in the sling or Moby occasionally and he didn't seem to mind, although I can't remember how old he was when we started this. That might at least free up your hands and leave you a little bit more mobile for taking "corrective action" for the other two ;).

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    1. I definitely need to try that! I have a Moby and haven't even used it with her yet. I'm always overwhelmed by all the wrapping ;)

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    2. The wrapping IS overwhelming! I finally felt comfy with the Moby when N turned 4 months. I also think the Moby is easiest to use once they have a little head control and core strength.

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  8. I've been reading this for awhile but haven't commented before. I think I remember that Clara was a NICU baby?? I am a NICU nurse and have two NICU babies myself (out of 4) and they have to sleep with a light on. They also have to have white noise. I think there is a link to the NICU environment and their sleep schedules, but mine are 8 and 5 and no matter how many times I try, I just can't get rid of the lamp or music. So instead we leave them on and they get more than 5 hours of sleep at night :)

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    1. Yes she was!!! I am totally fascinated by this now. But so you think it counts if she slept fine in the dark for the first two years?

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  9. I don't have any discipline advice, but my two and a half year old sleeps with this nightlight: http://www.amazon.com/Kinderglo-Portable-Rechargeable-Night-Elephant/dp/B0043G1MH2/ref=pd_cp_ba_1

    It is a soft glow of light, which changes colors (or can be set to one color) and has an optional timer. She can turn it on herself. It is safe to sleep with, does not get hot, and has no wires or other dangerous features. It comes in lots of animal shapes, so she could pick one out that she likes. It might be worth a try.

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  10. I think that a small light should be fine and try to wean it down to a nightlight. We are dealing with discipline issues, too. I really liked the book "Discipline to Last a Lifetime." Good ideas. A good friend told me that with her middle son she walked to his room 20 times in one day for timeouts. It worked. I also prefer that DH be the "bad guy" when he is home. It is too tiring for me all day to discipline and I really need him to be tough. 1-2-3 magic was a good book, too. But we need more immediate consequences. I also recently started a sticker chart for good behaviors (getting dressed, sitting at the table for meals, etc). We'll see how that goes!

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  11. Loved readign all the comments! I second Sarah. Nursing with a sling changed my life!!!! I felt like a free woman!!!!

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  12. http://www.amazon.com/Aquarium-Lamp-Fish-Revolving-Aquatic/dp/B003WKJJHK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1360097577&sr=8-1&keywords=discovery+channel+night+light
    I was also going to suggest one of these...my son has one of these and before the desk lamp, he used this...it was a more dim light and more of a blue-ish tone and he likes looking at the animals while he fall asleep. Lots of great advice on here!

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  13. I'm enjoying all the comments on discipline, good suggestions. I have a bench by our front door that is known as the naughty bench and the amount of time they spend in time out is dependent on age. For the twins it's 3 minutes because they're three. Once they learn where the time out spot is, you should be able to verbally tell them to sit on time out without leading them there and I set my watch or iPhone timer.

    I second the baby gate idea to close off certain rooms in the house while I'm busy doing chores.

    Your children are all so beautiful and I can't believe how much older they look!

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    1. Hafsa - thank you! We do the "naughty spot" too, but they are driving me nuts with it! Clara is so-so, but Luke has to be dragged to it every single time and then I have to physically hold him there, which doesn't work when I'm nursing. If I'm honest, though, I think it's because we're not consistent enough with it. It's so time consuming and I can be lazy :) I have to get better at this stuff!!

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  14. I have no advice but man I feel ya! Not this time but when Leo was born M was 3 and JP was 19 months. I pumped every 2 hours at first and it was hell. I really could not get up for 15 min at a time and they knew it! We still have purple marker on one wall.

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  15. My NICU kid needs the light one and my colic kid and 8 year old sleep better with a loud radio playing. It drives me crazy but whatever keeps them in their own beds and out of mine works for me.

    Hear your pain while nursing but that sounds like my day in reverse for homeschooling. Rebecca at "Shoved to them" has all sorts of stuff on her pinterest board for keeping toddlers busy while nursing. All homeschoolers have stuff on this. Goggle "keeping toddlers busying while homeschooling"--you're just nursing instead of teaching math! (Hmmm, see how God is easing you into this homeschool lifestyle?)

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  16. I slept with a nightlight for a long time when I was a kid, and I still have a stuffed teddy bear. LOL. I can admit it! Now, I sleep in complete darkness, with a fan on. I don't think you need to worry about the light, but maybe let Clara pick out her own special nightlight, so it doesn't have to be a lamp.

    I have no advice about the other thing, but I would love to hear when you find what works!

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  17. Love all the advice here! I have only sympathy for you. Everyone keeps telling me that it's going to be chaotic for awhile - as long as they are so young. And I'm only dealing with two!

    Does it help that they are so cute?? :)

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  18. Thanks for asking for advice, I've loved reading the ideas! My kids are 18 months apart and I never mastered keeping one safe while nursing the other, although containment in a safe place and an ipad were successful occasionally.
    As for nightlights, I love all the ideas on here. My husband replaced our daughter's overhead light with a blue lightbulbs for sleeping-she loves it. It makes the room look weird (all the colors on toys and in books look florescent) but during the day with the blinds open it's fine and at night she sleeps peacefully. I have no plans to change anything anytime soon-I'm not worried about her sleeping with a little light. She is healthy, seems perfectly rested during the day, and developing just fine! Good luck-these pictures are just absolutely precious-they are so stinkin' cute!

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  19. No advice for you ... just wanted to say your kids are sure adorable!

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  20. I remember how hard it was to deal with toddler behavior while nursing but now you are dealing with double trouble ha ha!

    I think consequences are essential. Since you are nursing and feeding a lot of the time, my thought is that now is the most critical time for discipline because the older two are really testing you.

    So, I think that giving C and L special things to do while you are nursing, such as a special game or puzzle that is novel (only for nursing), or a new thing of play dough only for nursing, might help. Then, as soon as they act up, strap them in high chairs as a consequence. Always follow through. no second chances. The second chance is the next nursing session:) Just say, "Let's try again next time, okay?"

    If they scream and throw fits, and it drives you insane, I'd leave the room to block them out a little and nurse in peace (or as much as you can!). Don't engage them or respond while they are throwing their fits. Just deal with them calmly after you are done nursing by explaining that mommy has to nurse baby E and they have to follow the rules.

    Ok I am working on all of this at home too (not the nursing part but the discipline part), and I just want to add that I am comforted by the fact that I am not alone in having these problems!

    Keep it simple, and make your expectations clear to them. (no fighting, taking, whatever the rules are.) then, when they break the rules, into the chairs they go.

    Even though it will require that you get interrupted, it is an opportunity for them to learn you are the parent and you will follow through.

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  21. Wonderful advice ... you are doing a great job with three children under three!!! Do not let anyone tell you differently.

    The light while sleeping thing - WHO says it is not a good idea? Some research team somewhere? Well, phooey on them. If your daughter sleeps better with a light on, then keep the light on.

    As far as nursing and the children acting out during that time - HOORAY!!! They are doing their jobs.

    My youngest are fourteen months apart - the infant came to us at nine days old and his brother followed when he was 17 months old, when the infant was two months old. Whenever I held the infant, and the older of the two came up to me, I would never talk about the infant, but instead, always, always compliment the older one and make a fuss about him. I was not nursing, but using a bottle, so things are not quite the same but the same (smile!)

    Anyway - because I made a big deal about the older child, who really needed the attention and not the infant, who had not a clue, I had no sibling rivalry and they have grown up to be real good buddies. Now, I also had a six year old at the time and thankfully, he was not instigating stuff with the seventeen month old. I am sure that your two older egg one another on...and that, too is normal!

    Use the light - have Ryan set the tone - don't worry about what you think others may think and enjoy the chaos! It will pass - all too soon, really!

    Good job mama!

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  22. I haven't read all the responses yet.

    First off I have to tell you-- your children are beautiful!!! They all look so happy and seem to have adjusted well to Essie joining the family. You are so very blessed!

    My sister-in-law just had another baby and we were just talking about what to do w/ her toddler while she is nursing. I have 2 words = high chair. (Is that one word?) I would at least put Luke into his high chair whenever you are nursing. And you don't have to feed him every time. Puzzles, play dough, crayons, etc. Whatever to keep him occupied. That is my suggestion.

    As for the dark... I am still 100% terrified of the dark. I hate it. But it has never been an issue for me as I have always slept w/ a night light. All through high school, college, and even now as a married woman. I've never even viewed this as a problem for me. I just need a light to sleep. Maybe get Clara a really big night light to transition from the lamp. I am thinking like a big precious moments light or something. Then, as she gets older, you can just transition her to small ones. Lisa has to have a night light too. When she was little they were very big but now we just get a cheap plug in light from Target and it's a non issue.

    Most importantly- you are doing a great job!!!

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  23. I am going to be very unhelpful and comment before reading the other comments (because you know, having one 5-month-old makes me a parenting expert! :)). I wonder if you can just keep the light on for Clara until she's a little older? 3 is an age where fantasy is very real to kids... monsters are real, dragons are real, etc. Developmentally, it may be tougher to overcome her fear of the dark right now (not that you shouldn't try, but as you can see, most of my parenting gut instincts err on the side of the path of least resistance). But, along the developmental vein... perhaps you can calm her fears similar to a child afraid of the monster under the bed. Have a bedtime ritual of checking her closet, etc, "securing" the room and driving out anything scary. Keep a night light in her room. Assure her you're just in the next room if needed and that you'll always be there. Maybe read bedtime stories of good conquering evil.

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  24. I was going to mention that we use these nightlights, that we heard of from Amazon, but the price is ridiculous now! http://www.amazon.com/Megabrite-Changing-Lights-Sensor-4-Pack/dp/B0041VG3T6/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1360208134&sr=8-2&keywords=led+color+changing+night+lights

    We only paid like $15 last year for a pack of four. I have no idea why the price went so high, but the colors change and they stay on all night and my kids (the two oldest) are 3 and 2 and they love them. I hope maybe you can find them somewhere else for a much lower price. My kids were also given a "moonlight" for Christmas by their grandfather, that they love as well. It doesn't stay on all night, but it has a remote that my daughter likes to sleep with, so if she does wake up she can just turn it on herself. I think he bought it at either Wal-Mart or Target.
    http://www.amazon.com/Trademark-Home-Decorative-Remote-Control/dp/B004T0YSXW/ref=sr_1_3?s=hi&ie=UTF8&qid=1360208643&sr=1-3&keywords=moon+night+light

    As for discipline, my two oldest can be pretty difficult as well, but we have used the 123 Magic for Christian Parents and that has helped a great deal. It's a book by Thomas Phelan and Chris Webb. You pretty much start counting when the child starts to misbehave and by the time you get to three, they will have either stopped or they will need to go to time out. It takes a while for both the kids and parents to get the hang of it, at least it did for us, but after a while it really does work pretty well. My son who is two, still tests us quite a bit, but I think boys are worse for testing their limits. I recommend reading the book before trying it out, because their are some things they recommend doing or not doing, and if you start off on the wrong foot, it may be a little harder. I hope this helps. Your children are beautiful. God Bless!

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  25. Hey! I just had an idea while I was laying on the floor of my daughter's bedroom, staring up at the face of a unicorn being projected onto her ceiling. :) Have you considered trying a small aquarium in Clara's room? Something similar to this: http://www.walmart.com/ip/Hawkeye-2-Gallon-360-Starter-Aquarium-Kit-Fish-Aquatic-Pets/14660257 We have had many different aquarium set ups over the years (even one featuring SpongeBob Squarepants) and my kids have all loved them. It would provide a nice glow, white noise (the sound of the water being pumped through the filter), and, she'd have a little "friend" there to keep her company at night. :) She could even help pick out and name the fish (maybe a goldfish or two?) and I think she could even be responsible for feeding it a pinch of food every night before bed (with supervision.) Just a thought! And by the way, Luke is just too cute. And obviously way more hip than me, because I had to google Philip Phillips, LOL! He was totally right though, that resemblance is uncanny!

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    1. Ooh, that's a neat idea, Melissa! I don't know anything about aquariums, but would she be able to spill the water?

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    2. Most of the little kits you can buy have lids with a small little flap type door on top that you flip open to feed, so I don't think she'd be able to spill it. And once they're filled with water they're pretty heavy, so it shouldn't tip over. You can look online or get a little book about basic aquarium care, but they're pretty easy. :)

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  26. I WISH I knew what you could do to keep them busy while you fed Essie - because I can't make one phone call with my two without them completely tearing apart the place! If any ideas work, let me know!! And I read a few comments and agree with them about the light...if it were me, I'd let her sleep with the light on. I'd put an energy saver bulb in there and just let it be, lol. Everything is a phase and she will eventually come out of this one....
    Your babies are all so gorgeous and you are amazing! I can't imagine another baby right now... you are my hero!

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  27. I have no advice as my second isn't here yet (and I'm scared). Reading the other comments has given me great ideas!!

    My mom told me that my brother and I ALWAYS fought with each other while she was nursing my little sister. In fact, we would fight behind the rocking chair where they were sitting. Talk about adding insult to injury!

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  28. One of my kids was afraid of the dark for awhile and we used "monster spray." We just got a plain spray bottle and filled it with water and made a cute label and each night we'd go in her room and spray it around the room and tell her it was a magic potion to keep all the scary stuff out. It worked and she eventually forgot she was afraid.

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  29. I haven't read the other replies.If Clara is sleeping with the light on then you may just want to keep the light on. You can try a dimmer switch for the over head light.With my son, some days he would sleep with the lights all the way down, others he wanted the lights on all the way.

    I've been giving some thought as to how I can.keep my son out of trouble while nursing his sister, due on Easter. Maddening though it will be I'm fairly sure, Sprout, Nick Jr. and Disney preschool shows will be my friend in the beginning, when I will need to pay more attention to baby's latch and nursing habits in general. After that adjustment, I hope to be able to keep him engaged in safe activities and away from dangerous things by actually engaging him. I may not be coordinated enought to get up and play while nursing, but, I can lend my voice to be whatever character he wants me to be. I can tell him stories and depending on if she is a squirmy or still nurser, I can read him stories.

    I'll be checking back often to see what works for your two older kids. :)

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  30. I don't know what the other 29 commenters said but as far as the tv thing. It happens. It's fine, for now. It can quickly become a habit after it's not needed anymore. I have sometimes splurged on some nice new toys or activities when I feel like all they do is watch t.v. My kids both have birthdays near Christmas so they get bored with their toys, esp. when they are little and they can do whtever it is the toy does:)

    Maggie is 6 and has a fear of the dark. We have tried fancy night lights and sneaking in to turn hers off after she's asleep, etc. I have no good advice. Maybe ask her why she wants the light on and is there a way she will compromise with you. Can you leave her door open and the hall light on, etc. We resorted to glow sticks for a while. Michaels has then in packs of 10 for a dollar. She got to pick a glow stick each night and crack it and take it to bed with her:)

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