Q: Reasons 11 month old may seem "restless" for about an hour each night (either waking and wanting to play, or moving around a ton in their sleep).
A: I would need to know a lot more about what is happening before bedtime ... what are the activities and food eaten. What is bedtime, when did last nap of the day end, what is the environment, etc. I always have more questions :).
Here is some helpful information for an 11mo. They need approximately 11 1/4 hrs of sleep at night and 2 1/2 hours of day sleep across 2 naps.
Bedtime should be between 7-8pm for the first 5 years of a child's life! The window of wakefulness between last nap and bedtime should be no more than 4hrs - he could be overtired and restless due to the cortisol rush in his body from being overtired.
We always recommend no TV or stimulating activities 1hr before bedtime (that is for children and adults). The room environment should be dark. If they need a light no more than a 4watt light bulb. Alert kids have a harder time shutting down and unwinding so a nice relaxing bedtime routine or activities like yoga (Google: Itsy Bitsy Yoga) or a light massage may help.
If none of those apply and you can check yes to every single item I listed then I would explore this with his doctor. It may be helpful to keep a log for a week to show and tell them exactly what is going on ... be sure to tell them it is not behavioral and list why it's not (hint: all those things I listed that you are doing right)! Best of luck!
Look for my next blog post where we will talk more about Healthy Sleep Habits for your Children and I will answer more of your questions. If you have a question you would like me to answer please email me at
firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll include it in a future blog.
Michelle is a Pediatric Sleep Consultant and Certified Gentle Sleep Coach who offers parents a gentle and loving approach to their sleep problems. Through her years as a therapist, a mother and a sleep coach, Michelle’s approach offers tired parents an alternative to the cry it out method. Her proven solutions are medically and developmentally appropriate and look at all aspects of your child to gently get them the sleep that is so important to the entire family.
Michelle Donaghy, Pediatric Sleep Consultant – Certified Gentle Sleep Coach
Cell: 714 651 5116 ~ Fax: 267-382-2070
Making Sweet Dreams ~ Sleep Coaching for Children
email@example.com ~ www.makingsweetdreams.com
How lovely to think that no one need wait a moment:
By: Moira Bundschuh
I remember many attributes of my mother. She had this funny, contagious, fully red-faced laugh that could fix my bad mood in a moment. She fit what seemed like 30 hours of things to do into each day. She carted me
to every club, craft, art lesson and activity I wanted to try next. But what I remember most about my mother is her desire to help people. She wasn’t a social worker or teacher, doctor or director of a non-profit. Instead, for most of her life, she ran a small local care-taking business with my father. It was what she did in her off time that sunk deep into my soul and shaped who I am today.
My mom, Cindy, helped people. Quiet, little things that many people never knew about and she didn’t talk much about. From the time I was a toddler, I remember her bringing me to the toy store and asking me to pick out a gift to give to a child whose parents couldn’t afford Christmas. Other times, we would make sandwiches to give to the Salvation Army for their bagged lunch programs. We’d sit at the kitchen table with piles of bread, condiments and meats making assorted sandwiches to hand out to people that needed something to eat. She’d make sure that we did it well because it was important that the sandwich look like something we would want to eat. When someone she knew, maybe a friend or a cousin, was short on the mortgage, car payment or utility bill, my mom would sit down at her desk with all of her bills and figure out a way to pay a little less of our bills that month and help the person whose home, car or lights were in jeopardy. Every once in a while she would say something to me like,“Everyone has a hard time in their life and it is important to help in some way.” It could be babysitting a child or taking them for a weekend so that parents could recharge. Every once in a while it was buying extra food and bringing it to a food pantry. She volunteered at nursing homes and, for the last ten years of her life, worked with people with dementia during their final days.
It was just a part of her life and became a part of mine. It was her very greatest gift to me. Now, as a mother, I think about all of the little things that she did for others and how she included me in those. It didn’t need to be a grand fundraising activity or personally saving an entire endangered species. Instead, my mother taught me about seeing the needs around me each day and having the courage to try to meet those needs if able. So, I bring my children to buy presents for others, just as my mom did with me. My four year old comes with me to help out with Homework at the Hyannis Youth and Community Center sometimes. This summer she walked a part of a few 5K races with me…she doesn’t know the charities and she doesn’t need to right now. We’re laying the groundwork. When she makes a beautiful picture, she asks if she can give it to a friend down the street. She’s starting to think about making the world a better place.
During the next few months, I’ll be talking to moms on Cape Cod who are serving others in their community. They’re moms like you and me who have decided that each small act of kindness can add up to real change. In addition, we’ll highlight some great local non-profits or charities that make an impact everyday in the lives of people on Cape Cod.
If you have a volunteer mom friend to nominate, feel free to send their name, contact information and a brief description of why you think they are a great volunteer mom to firstname.lastname@example.org
Salmon-how I love thee! Rich in omega 3's, Vitamin D and B! We attended a Parenting Playdate Brunch this weekend (look for more about this in an upcoming blog). Everyone brought a tasty treat to share. And we all enjoyed each other's recipes!
We decided to bring Salmon Breakfast Wraps a simple easy way to get some health into our body while tasting good. If you make these, I recommend that you purchase only Wild Salmon because despite Farm Salmon being bigger, they are filled with PCBs which are stored in fat and who wants that in their body? You would be defeating the whole purpose of eating the Salmon in the first place.
At 30 years old, I consider myself to be a young mom. I have entered into a different maturity stage in my life especially now that I have a child. I still consider myself to be up-to-date on the latest fads/trends (many of which I actually do not take part). Sometimes though, the latest acronyms that the “young hip” moms or
Hollywood moms are using escape me.
I am now a single parent and it can be really hard at times. Just last week, I had to drop my son off for time with his dad. His father had two friends over sitting on the couch when we arrived. His father mentioned wanting to take him out sledding (mind you it was 5pm and 12 degrees outside). I told him I’d prefer that our son not go outside in the cold but if he chose to do that to ensure that our son had on all his winter gear.
As I dropped my son off, I went through my usual goodbye routine with him. Now anyone who knows me knows I am absolutely in LOVE with my son and I understand he will not be little and innocent like he is forever. So yes, I hug him, kiss him, and tell him I love him ALL THE TIME (seriously we all love our children). As I said goodbye to my little angel and put on my coat to leave, one of the couch potatoes piped up, a young mom in her early 20’s but sans child at that moment.
She looked at me and said, “Oh you’re an OPP”
An OPP, hmmmmm what is that???? My mind whirled through all the latest slang and I couldn’t place the
phrase so I asked her what it meant.
She replied, “Over Protective Parent”
I just smiled and left but inside I was truthfully a bit infuriated. First it is frustrating that while my son’s father and I are trying to co-parent, we have a couch potato gallery giving us feedback. Second, what does she mean by “Over Protective Parent”?
Does she mean I am worrying too much, hovering or not allowing my child to express himself or take chances? Well I do worry, but I worry in secret… most parents do. And being cautious about a toddler going outside in 12 degrees is NOT being an “OPP”, it’s just COMMON SENSE. I do not hover over my
child and I am definitely not afraid to let him fall down or fail. This will be the only way he will learn. It’s called Risk/Reward. How else will he learn to persevere or be his own person?
By “Over Protective Parent”, maybe she meant that I love my child unconditionally and that I am actively present in his life. I happily climb to the top of the play structure with him to play castle even when my body doesn’t appreciate being contorted like a pretzel to get up there. I make pillow forts at home and ones at daycare for him and his friends. I run around the house playing Superman and dinosaurs. I look out for his well-being and provide him with healthy choices for meals and appropriate clothing for the weather. I am actively involved with his education and stay in constant contact with his teachers. We do all kinds of thing together but at times he needs his space and he happily builds towers or reads by himself. I tell him how much I love him and how important he is to me on a daily basis.
I honestly don't know which way she meant the comment she directed at me. My suspicion is the former rather than the latter, but I honestly do not care. Yes, I guess I am an OPP. And I will wear the latest slang term proudly; maybe I’ll even get a t-shirt made up of the phrase and dance around singing the first line of the Naughty by Nature song:
“Down with OPP , yea you know me!”
Who else is a proud OPP parent?
By: Gabrielle Hathaway M.S., IBCLC
One of the questions I am often asked is, how do I prepare for breastfeeding? I could answer that there is no preparation needed and that breasts are "ready to feed". However, there are things you can do to maximize your chances of having a successful breastfeeding experience.
Attend childbirth and breastfeeding classes and don't be afraid to ask questions. When friends and family ask about shower gifts include a Brest Friend (the best nursing pillow) and an electric breast pump if you'll be working and breastfeeding. Prepare meals in advance and freeze them so you'll have more time to devote to baby after the birth.
During the birth: An awake and aware childbirth is the ideal precursor to breastfeeding. Make sure to have a birth plan and let all of your providers know that you wish to breastfeed. Ask to have your baby with you as soon after birth as possible (within 30 mins is reasonable) for skin to skin contact. Finally, ask for help! Breastfeeding is natural but doesn't necessarily come naturally. Be sure to ask your nurse or hospital IBCLC for help and room-in with your baby if the hospital allows it. Even one bottle of formula can negatively affect your baby, so try to avoid supplementation. Finally, if you don't feel comfortable nursing when you leave the hospital, contact a lactation consultant or your local La Leche League* for help. The hospital may also offer a free VNA visit after you go home; many of these nurses have breastfeeding training and can help with latch and positioning. It is well worth the effort to get breastfeeding off to a good start and can help you to avoid problems later.
So, although breasts are made for breastfeeding, there are ways to prepare for a successful nursing experience. However, if you need more help or have special circumstances (medical conditions, breast surgery, etc.) contact an IBCLC during your pregnancy to develop a plan of action – knowledge is power!
*go to http://www.llli.org/webus.html to find a group or leader near you
By Tracy Lamperti,
Psychotherapist, Educator, Consultant
Roses, boxes of chocolates, love notes, kisses, romance and blushing…sound wonderful? Not to everyone. In fact, for teenagers, Valentine’s Day can be one of the most stressful days of the year. They often experience worry, disappointment and even depression on this“special day.”
“Will someone leave me a love note?”
“Will I have someone to hold hands with on the way to class?”
“What if I don’t have a story to tell when my friends are bragging about “how far” they have gone?”
And even worse, “I went ‘too far’ and now he’s (she’s) on to someone else. I think I’ll skip school tomorrow. I’m so embarrassed!”
Even elementary school children have been known to come home sad because they didn’t get as many “Valentines” as their friend.
How Parents Can Save the Day
I am posting this purposely a little more than two weeks before the big day so you have time to think about how you are going to show your son or daughter that you love them more than anyone on this special day!
…because, when our children know and feel that they are loved deeply at home, they can go to school with confidence, even if their inbox isn’t full, and their locker hasn’t been smacked with red lips when no one was
looking, and they don’t have a boy(girl)friend to strut down the halls with, and they didn’t get as many valentines as their friend.
1. Countdown to Valentine’s Day – do something little but special each of the 14 days before the big one. Google “Count Down to Valentine’s Day” and you will get some ideas. Here is one very cute, but also kind of
ambitious idea, http://www.makoodle.com/valentine-countdown/ and some creative free printables, http://www.mommybydaycrafterbynight.com/p/free-printables.html
2. Drive your child to school on the big day. Leave early and stop for a hot chocolate or whatever their pleasure is. Leave early enough to take your time and enjoy a little sit down with your child while they enjoy their Danish, or whatever.
3. Pick your child up from school. Take them out for a jumbo chocolate chip cookie or something else enjoyable. Leave them a card or a coupon in the morning, so that they can think about it at school instead of wondering if they are really important to anyone or not.
4. Rig up their door so when they exit their bedroom, a dozen balloons fall on their head. You get the idea.
Use your imagination.
5. Leave a trail of notes in every spot they will visit before leaving for school, each one acknowledging why you love them so much.
6. Buy them a gift. This one is not on the top of the list, so if you are going to go with it, make the gift not top dollar, but something meaningful that sends the best message of love to your child. Believe it or not, an
inexpensive pair of heart socks will mean a great deal to a child who can lift up their pant leg at school and say, “Do you like the socks my dad gave me this morning."
7. Without fail, and without regard to your child’s age, give them a hug before they depart for the day. If hugging your teenage son or daughter is not typical, lay it right on the table, “Son…I don’t tell you I love you nearly enough. Let me give you a hug before you get out the door.”
8. If your daughter, or son, has a father (or mother) that lives out of the home and they have not already acknowledged Valentine’s Day, find an aunt or an uncle, or maybe a friend or other close person. Enlist their support. Ask them if they would kindly help you show love to your child by doing one of the above.
9. If you have a niece or nephew or child of a friend who has an absent or uninvolved parent, offer your love and support. Ask if you could pick them up from school and take them out to the Hot Chocolate Sparrow.
10. Really get into it! Decorate your house, wear the socks, give your spouse flowers, balloons or chocolate, and make a special dinner and/or dessert.
I welcome an invitation to talk to your parents’ group or youth group about how to help children and teenagers feel confident and reduce their likelihood of sexual experimentation for the purpose of seeking love and connection.
Protected Hearts, A Sexual Integrity Program
Children with involved parents who show love and connection are far less likely to experiment sexually.
Please see, Why Teens Have Sex, by Tracy Lamperti for more information.
Tracy Lamperti, LMHC Psychotherapist, Educator, Consultant
Two tax credits are available for education costs - the American Opportunity
Credit (formerly the Hope Credit) and the Lifetime Learning Credit. These credits are available only to taxpayers with adjusted gross income below specified amounts, see Income Phase-Outs, below. Both credits were extended until December 31, 2017 by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA).
How Do These Credits Work?
The amount of the credit you can claim is either $0, $2,000, or $4,000 and depends on (1) how much you pay for qualified tuition and other expenses for students and (2) your adjusted gross income (AGI) for the year.
You must report on Form 8863 the eligible student's name and Social Security number on your return to claim the credit. You subtract the credits from your federal income tax. If the credit reduces your tax below zero, you cannot receive the excess as a refund. If you receive a refund of education costs for which you claimed a credit in a later year, you may have to repay ("recapture") the credit.
Caution: If you file married-filing separately, you cannot claim these credits.
Which costs are eligible. Qualifying tuition and related expenses refers to tuition and fees, and course materials required for enrollment or attendance at an eligible education institution. They now include books,
supplies and equipment needed for a course of study whether or not the materials must be purchased from the educational institution as a condition of enrollment or attendance.
"Related" expense do not include room and board, student activities, athletics (other than courses that are part of a degree program), insurance, equipment, transportation, or any personal, living, or family expenses.
Student-activity fees are included in qualified education expenses only if the fees must be paid to the institution as a condition of enrollment or attendance. For expenses paid with borrowed funds, count the expenses when they are paid, not when borrowings are repaid.
Tip: If you pay qualified expenses for a school semester that begins in the first three months of the following year, you can use the prepaid amount in figuring your credit.
Example: You pay $1,500 of tuition in December 2011 for the winter 2012 semester, which begins in January 2012. You can use the $1,500 in figuring your 2011 credit. If you paid in January instead, you would take the credit on your 2012 return.
Tip: As future year-end tax planning, this rule gives you a choice of the year to take the credit for academic periods beginning in the first 3 months of the year; pay by December and take the credit this year; pay in January or later and take the credit next year.
Eligible students. You, your spouse, or an eligible dependent (someone for whom you can claim a dependency exemption, including children under age 24 who are full-time students) can be an eligible student for whom the credit can apply. If you claim the student as a dependent, qualifying expenses paid by the student are treated as paid by you, and for your credit purposes are added to expenses you paid. A person claimed as another person's dependent can't claim the credit. The student must be enrolled at an eligible education institution (any accredited public, non-profit, or private post-secondary institution eligible to participate in student Department of Education aid programs) for at least one academic period (semester, trimester, etc.) during the year.
No "double-dipping." The tax law says that you can't claim both a credit and a deduction for the same higher education costs. It also says that if you pay education costs with a tax-free scholarship, Pell grant, or
employer-provided educational assistance, you cannot claim a credit for those amounts.
Income limits. To claim the American Opportunity Credit your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) must not exceed $90,000 ($180,000 for joint filers). To claim the Lifetime Learning Credit, MAGI must not exceed $60,000 ($120,000 for joint filers). "Modified AGI" generally means your adjusted gross income. The "modifications" only come into play if you have income earned abroad.
The American Opportunity Tax Credit
The American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOC) was extended for tax years 2013 and 2017. The maximum credit, available only for the first four years of post secondary education, is $2,500. You can claim the credit for each eligible student you have for which the credit requirements are met.
Special qualification rules. In addition to being an eligible student, he or she:
Amount of credit. The maximum amount of the AOC is $2,500. Generally,40% of the AOC is now arefundable credit for most taxpayers, which means that you can receive up to $1,000 even if you owe no taxes.
The Lifetime Learning Credit
You may be able to claim a Lifetime Learning Credit of up to $2,000 (20% of the first $10,000 of qualified expense) for eligible students (subject to reduction based on your AGI). Only one Lifetime Learning Credit can be taken per tax return, regardless of the number of students in the family.
Choosing the Credit. You can't claim both credits for the same person in the same year. But you can claim one credit for one or more family members and the other credit for expenses for one or more others in the same year - for example, an AOC for your child and a lifetime learning credit for yourself.
Electing Not To Take the Credit. There are situations in which the credit is not allowed, or not fully available, if some other education tax benefit is claimed - where the higher education expense deduction is claimed for the same student, see below, or where credit and tax exemption (under a Section 529 or 530 program) are claimed for the same expense. In that case the taxpayer - or, more likely, the taxpayer's tax adviser - will determine which tax rule offers the greater benefit and if it's not the credit, elect not to take the
By: Meghan Kemp
News flash folks – it is FREEZING outside!!! Even if you live in a bubble, devoid of news and forecasts (like I do), it is impossible to miss the frost on your fingertips as soon as you step outside the door. What is a momma to do, when it’s too cold to even run outside for a minute? Stuck in the house with one, two, or even more little beasties, I mean little darlings, looking for entertainment? Have no fear!! I’m going to share with you my super, duper, secret, freezing weather entertainment acts. Alright, they’re not that secret, most of them are from my ever growing compilation of Pinterestboards.
Speaking of which, last night I found a box of binders with labeled (made from my handy dandy Brother P-Touch label maker, old school style) dividers for such engaging topics as “Baby’s Nursery”, “Bathroom Ideas”,“House Designs”. Clearly these were lovingly made prior to the birth of my lovelies, back when I had time for using label makers and creating beautifully organized binders. I also think they may be of interest to anthropologists as they are now ancient artifacts – the real world version of Pinterest from the stone ages!
Onto the main event friends, here are the activities I have planned for the next few days (ahhhh, a list! You didn’t think I’d get through a blog without one, did you?):
Indoor Activities to Keep All of You From Going Insane:
1. Have an indoor picnic – I don’t know about your house but at ours the kiddos are supposed to eat in the kitchen. Having an opportunity to make some food together and then eat it on the ground somewhere
else in the house counts as a fun activity for my little ones.
The girls picked out their own food and set up their picnic in our tiny hallway, right in front of the bathroom (see, they’re using toilet paper as a seat, very creative!). Because really, what says “picnic” more than the room where we relieve ourselves?!
2. Build a fort! – So much fun, grab the blankets off the bed, the pillows off the couch, grab some rope and clothespins to make that sucker stay up anyway you can. The end goal is to have a space inside where kiddos can whisper and make plans. Throw in some bed pillows and flashlights and you have imaginations going wild. If you’re extra motivated try this fancy, dancy, fan fort building idea that’s kicking around the internet
right now. This version is from The Crafty Mama
3. Make sock puppets – I tried this the other day, not expecting huge success. But the kids freaked out, they loved them so much. I just grabbed two of my socks that had lost their mates, some googly eyes, yarn, pipe cleaners, and felt to cut out nose shapes or other details. We used craft glue and my 5 year old glued her own details on, and I helped the little one. As the saying goes, the waiting was the hardest part. Once the puppets were dry, there were puppet shows happening all over the
This picture is from one of the simpler sock puppet tutorials I found at kidscraftsonline.org, and really with little ones simple is best!
4. Make a movie of yourselves, than watch it! – Go all out, put together costumes, figure out a basic plot (or not, if your kiddos are too little), and then pop some popcorn and sit around watching and re-watching your movie. My kiddos LOVE seeing pictures and movies of themselves. It is one of their favorite things to do, the tiny little narcissists. But I like seeing their picture and movie too, because let’s face it, I MADE them and they’re awesome. They’re like my ultimate craft project. So it’s a win win. Plus, you know, popcorn. Yum!
(They look kind of angry here, but I promise, they love watching
movies. They’re just concentrating really hard on how awesome they are.)
5. Make an obstacle course in your house – This is one of MY favorite things to do, it gets the kids moving and burns some energy too. I drag our futon mattress onto the floor, put a few hurdles (usually ottomans, those ones up there in the above pic) for them to jump over and on, make a “balance beam” out of a long piece of tape on the floor. I show them the route I have planned for them,somersaults on the futon, jumps over the ottomans, tip toes over the balance beam, and running in between each obstacle. Then I put on loud, dance music and have them do jumping jacks and pencil jumps to warm up. They’re happy to do the obstacle course for awhile, but generally this just turns into a big dance party. Which I’m also fine with,
a dance party is always okay at my house!
Just for you, I’m throwing in a couple of freezing, cold outside ideas too. Bundle up good and cozy for these ones!
1. Make FROZEN bubbles. – So cool, and kind of science-y too! Go outside, blow your bubble, catch it on the wand and wait a minute. Watch as it freezes and then shatters. Check out more pics and details at science made fun!
2. Make colored ice gems. – These are beautiful and fun to make as well because they involve every kid’s favorite item – food coloring! The bane of my laundry chores, but a fun option
none the less. Take a balloon, add a drop of food coloring in, fill the balloon with water. Bring the water balloon outside and leave it there. Leave it there overnight, though with these temps it might not take that long. If you don’t want to wait until tomorrow, you can go out there and poke at it later in the day to see if it’s frozen. Once frozen, cut off the balloon and voila! A beautiful ice gem. Then let the kids decorate the yard with them, or roll them around, it will be fun to see what their creative brains come up with. Want more details, check out this tutorial.
Alright, fellow mamas, you’re now armed with a few ideas to get you through until dinner time. Help me add to my list though, because I’m going to need some new ideas for my rabble rousers.
What’s your go-to stuck inside the house activity?
From very early on in my pregnancy, I had reservations about a hospital based program's ability to support my strong intention for natural childbirth. Looking back on it now, I was right, the class was mostly an informative session about what to expect at the hospital and not a class that empowered. I made sure that when I started teaching classes at a major medical center that the curriculum was balanced, thorough, informative and joyful. Fortunately, I had a wonderful nurse manager that supported my efforts. To this day, she is one of my gems that I will treasure always.
Despite my trepidation, with my big belly, two stuffed pillows, and my heart full of glee, I attended weekly
classes for 6 consecutive weeks, along with 10 other couples. My husband would be able to participate in several of the classes but needed to travel abroad for business and so was absent for others. But I was able to teach him what I learned in our practice sessions that we did religiously before bedtime. It took us real effort to stay disciplined, after a long day, we were both tired, him from the grind of corporate life and me carrying around an extra 25 pounds in the swell of August in New England.
Finally the day arrived when I would be able to put my knowledge and practice of lamaze breathing to the test. I made one of my last entries into my journal while being pregnant at 2:45 p.m. August 15th, "Dear baby, this will probably be the last time I write to you while you are part of me. I share tidbits of early labor activities and then express my sadness over how much I will miss having her a part of me.
Throughout my labor, I never once used lamaze breathing. Instead I did what came naturally, straddling my breathe like one holds fast to the front bar of a fast moving, swirling, gliding roller coaster car. In that way, the breathe became my god, an instrument of calm, soothing and protecting me like a deep streaming inner sanction as the turbulent forces of nature raged on.
Here in lies the difference between lamaze breathing and yoga, for both marry the breathe and have an ultimate goal in mind. Lamaze uses the breathe as a distraction away from the pain of labor until such time a baby is born. On the other hand, yoga worships the breathe as the goal and not a means to an end.
In yoga the breathe carries prana or life force, which is the very essence of our existence. The intensity of childbirth demands that we give our full selves to our breathing and in doing so provides for a heightened experience.
This higly focused attention on our breathing is called Drishti and is highy praised on the yoga path.
Pranayama is the control of breathing to direct prana throughout the body. In my next several postings, we'll practice Pranayama specifically for childbirth, helping you to work with your breathing in the context of enlivening your vital energy for the richly gratifying work of transformation.
*reprinted with full permission from http://www.birthblessingsyoga.blogspot.com/
By Tracy Lamperti, Psychotherapist
One of the most common ways that common couples get into trouble is by not properly addressing conflict.
Everyone would agree that fighting all the time is going to end up in a break up, eventually. It is the silent fighting that can go on for years that eventually leads to either a break up for a couple that looked “fine,” or an emotionless and devoid of passion couple that just agrees to stay together for the “sake of the children” or for financial reasons, or just because it’s easier than the process of divorce.
I think I can speak for most of the Cape Cod Mommies in saying that, “We want the real deal and we want it into old age and with the same person!” We have a pretty consistent divorce rate holding just below the 50% mark. In the past decade there has been a new school of thought among older adolescents and young woman that it is better to never get married than to have to get divorced. But that is not what this post is about, so I’ll take that on at a later date.
All couples have conflicts or “fights” at one time or another. When couples brush issues under the rug, it is like a slow leak. Eventually, things will be ruined. It is as if water is dripping into a bucket and you hardly notice it. Suddenly, you look and notice that it has overflowed and everything is soaked.
· One little issue builds on another.
· Resentment grows.
· Words in your own head go from neutral to negative.
· Intimacy grows less frequent.
· Time together diminishes.
· Emotion and passion falls away.
Why do couples brush it under the rug?
· It’s not a good time for a fight.
· I don’t want to start a fight.
· It will take too much effort.
· No one listens to me anyway.
· It won’t do any good
· Someone is stubborn.
· I’ll be criticized.
· There is no solution anyway.
The ground rules for “Fighting Fair”
1. Arrange a time. “I’ve got something on my mind. Would it be ok if we talk after the children go to bed?” Or as something is getting heated, “Let’s pick a time to talk about this when… (1) we aren’t so heated, or (2) when the children aren’t around.” For people who have trouble containing anxiety, this will be a challenge, but is so necessary.
2. Face each other and approach the time in good faith rather than full of steam.
3. Address ONE topic. If you want the best chance to be successful, don’t unleash a laundry list of issues on your partner. It won’t go well. ONE issue.
4. If you are the type who leans on the gas in a merge situation, when easing off the gas would solve the
problem, you might want to rethink that. Rewards come with humility and love. Easing off the gas is not equivalent to being a pushover. Listening carefully and trying to understand the other person is not equivalent to being a pushover. Keep it respectful.
5. Try to listen carefully and understand where your partner is coming from. If you are having trouble understanding, ask questions or repeat what they have said. For example, “I’m not sure if I understand. It sounds like you are saying….Do I understand you correctly?”
6. Be careful about your filters. Sometimes a person can say, “I just really need some time with the guys.
You know, shooting darts, having a beer, fishing…” We hear, “You like them better than me. You would rather be with them than the children and I.”
7. Keep it clean. You know your spouse. You probably know a good amount of where they are sensitive.
Don’t go for the jugular. You will kill the fight.
8. Never interrupt. Let the person finish. Contain yourself. When they finish, you can have a turn. If they interrupt, kindly say,“please let me finish.”
9. Remember, all of the things you tell yourself, in your own head, about your partner, when you are mad
or hurt, are not necessarily fact. Try not to let these things build up and become your reality.
10. The best place for fighting fair is the bathroom. Someone sits on the can (with the seat down of course :) ) and the other sits on the edge of the tub, or something like that. This plan disrupts your usual dynamic, brings you each to the table on more neutral ground and lightens the mood. “Meet me in the bathroom at 9:30 :) ” Pick your own creative spot, but not near where children are sleeping if the tension might be high. Walls are thin and children are sensitive.
As Valentine’s Day, the day of love approaches, fight fair and be healthy in your relationship with your partner. If you need help, seek help.
Tracy Lamperti, LMHC
Cape Cod Moms