Getting your baby ready for the baby.

When do you tell your child that your are pregnant?

My first 2 children were born twenty months apart. I was enjoying the first baby. When, SURPRISE, I found out I was pregnant. I sorted through a mash-up of emotions before settling on happiness. It was embarrassing, as a newlywed, I wondered if people would think that making babies was all we did! (It was not!) I wondered why we hadn’t taken more precautions. But years of fibroid-related fertility problems had convinced me that a second pregnancy was unlikely. (Especially since I was still breastfeeding…a lot!) I worried about how I would manage a job, a husband a one-year-old, and pregnancy. After I stopped worrying about the pregnancy, I started worrying about handling a two-year-old and a new baby. Looking back, I’m sure those wonderful pregnancy hormones contributed to my anxious and emotional state. But hormone-induced or not, the struggle was real. And I had to get my baby ready, to no longer be the baby. 

When to tell your child you are pregnant?

The first decision I made involved telling my child. I didn’t want to start preparing her too early. I know that if you tell a child something is going to happen and it doesn’t, they don’t understand. For a two-year-old, a two- or three-month advance notice was plenty of time. I would have waited later. But I had to explain my growing belly bump and why we couldn’t do certain thing anymore, like breastfeeding.

Can you continue to breastfeed while pregnant? 

Absolutely! It is possible for your body to feed both children at the same time. But, as my doctor explained to me; “Your body is going to feed the fetus first, the nursing baby second and you last.” This means that you don’t get the nutrients that you need. I stubbornly persisted. Breastfeeding was our special time. We bonded, cuddled and just loved on each other. How could I ask her to give it up for a new baby, like she wasn’t important anymore? Okay, here the pregnancy hormones might have been kicking in again. Because I was unbearably sad thinking about weaning her. Then I started to see my doctor’s predictions come true. I was drained even with extra supplements, eating right, and increasing fluids. My nails were weak, chipping and breaking. My hair thinned and fell out, leaving bald patches in the back of my scalp. I didn’t have energy to play with or read to her. So even without weaning, she was still losing some of our connection. It was time to wean. But I was determined to never let her feel that she was being weaned because of the new baby. Even though I hadn’t yet told her, I didn’t want her to connect those dots, when I did.

How to tell your child about the new baby?

My daughter was very young. I didn’t want her to feel like we didn’t love her anymore. That she wasn’t also our baby. I also didn’t want her to feel like the baby was ours and not also hers. I wanted her to feel, even before the baby came home, that this was a gift a blessing for the entire family.  The most important thing here are: your words and your actions. I used words like: “our baby”. But I also used words like, “your baby”. I tried to get her to feel included. I never said things like, “we can’t do this, because of the baby”. Because I didn’t want her to feel any resentment.  

When I told her, I kept it very simple. (Remember she was not quite two.) I prepped her in the weeks leading up to the announcement. We read story books about welcoming a new baby. Because she was so young, I bought her a doll and began calling it her baby. I used language and actions that I wanted her to model. I would tell her; “Give your baby a kiss”. “You love your baby, don’t you? Hug your baby. You’re my baby. Let me give you a kiss and a hug.  And now I will kiss your baby. We have to love babies.” As you can see we role played. Lots of careful thought went into pre-addressing what I thought would be her concerns. It was designed to build a loving attitude towards the baby. On the day I told her, I put her hands on my belly. I said, “Mommy has a baby in her tummy tool. Just like in the book and we are going to have a new baby in our house.” It was very simple. But once she knew, I began referencing it all the time. And I would invite her to kiss the baby (in my belly) all the time. Saying something like “Oh the baby is moving; he might need you to rub him”. I think if you prepare and make dua (pray) about it. The words will come easy.

Helping your child to help themselves:

Because she was my first, I had been babying her for her short eighteen-month life. I still feel that was okay. But now that her life was changing, I had to get her ready for that change. And let her do somethings, that I knew she was capable of, on her own. I began giving up more of my cherished lap time to her father. I knew two laps would make it easier. And Al Hamdulillah, we had two laps in the house. I wanted her to get used to going to someone else as an equal source of comfort. I also got her used to small things like eating in her chair. We didn’t get her to sleep in her bed. That was not happening! But I did get her used to sleeping on her father’s side. She also learned to take a nap in her bed. I stopped holding her hand for everything. Because I knew that I wouldn’t always have two hands free. I also taught her how to do some small things for herself. For example; “bring me a diaper and the wipes”. Because I anticipated having a c-section, I knew I would need her help. I also knew that she could help me with some of these small things and she did.

How to get your child helping with the new baby. 

She was used to climbing all over me. I took “No don’t jump on my belly.” And changed it to, “Use gentle hands.” But I started taking her hands and helping her to gently stroke my belly. Teaching her this motion means; gently or softly. I knew it wouldn’t be enough to tell her to be gentle, if I hadn’t demonstrated what a gentle touch is. And even with demonstrating, I knew that we also needed to practice and practice soft gentle touches. We practiced holding a baby. Something I knew she would want to do. But I made sure to teach her that you can only pick up or hold the baby with mommy’s help. We tried potty training, but she wasn’t ready. But she was able to put her plate and fork in the sink. She could pick up her toys without help. She did learn to put on her shoes and take off her coat. All things that she could have been doing, and all things that I had been doing for her. 

Dealing with anxiety over the new baby:

Some children don’t know or exactly understand what is happening. Even though they don’t fully comprehend, they still react. Sleeping more, regressing to baby talk, wetting the bed, refusing to use the potty, crying more frequently or being clingy can be a lot to deal with when you are also managing a pregnancy and your own anxiety. But with everything in life and parenting, sabr – patience is key. Recognize that this is still your baby and they are in distress. Offer extra comfort and affection if they request or need it. This is not babying. This is teaching your child that I am still someone you can trust to be here for you. Reward generously (not with food) and profusely when they do the behaviors you want to encourage. Children love when adults are amazed and proud of them. You can express this verbally and non-verbally. Read to them, talk to them, reassure them, and most importantly listen to them. There are a lot of ways to let your child know that you still care and that they have your attention. They want to be the focus of that attention. Sometimes you won’t have time. But let them know that; “I will be with you in a minute.” And when you get that minute, don’t shortchange them. Give them your pure and undistracted attention. Get down on their level, get physically close to them and focus. A fifteen-minute quality focused session can change your whole relationship with your child. When the time draws to a close and they want more time. Let them know you that have to move on but that you will give them more time later. And DO IT! Once they see that you will keep your word, then they won’t fuss as much when you must leave because they are confident of your return. Never compare them to other children. Praise the behavior of other children without comparing them. For example; “I really like how Isa always puts his shoes away. Isa you’re doing a good job.” With consistent reassurance, affection and praise, they will move past their anxiety. 

Conclusion:

Thank Allah (God) every day for the wonderful gift of a new child. Of course, it will be challenging. Of course, it will come with some difficulty. But Allah doesn’t give anyone a burden that they can’t bear. If He brought you to it, that means He will bring you through it. And after “every difficulty, there will be ease.” This is His promise, and His word is true. I pray Allah will make it easy for you and your family, Ameen.

At what age should I start potty training?

Salaam (Peace),

When should I start potty training?

Almost every concerned parent, at the preschool where I worked, asked this question. This is one milestone we all are waiting for. That blessed day when we don’t have to see, change, or buy another diaper!
For some of us, there is little choice. We have to leave our child at a daycare or with a sitter who only accepts children who are potty trained. Some of us are just ready to get it over with. Especially, when helpful relatives or friends question us. “He’s still not potty trained…?” Comparisons to their potty training whiz kid, with things like, “Oh Yusuf was using the potty all by himself by the time he was…” are not helpful. So when should you start?

1. Start when he is able.

Able – means that the child is physically capable of using the bathroom. Specifically can the child hold their urine? You will have clues that the child is able to “hold their urine,” when they wake up and their diaper is dry. As they get older they will also stay dry for longer periods of time. Some children don’t have the physical capability even though they understand the concept. It is cruel to try to force a child to do anything that is beyond their capability.

2. Start when they understand.

Understand – means they can recognize the physical cues and understand that the cues mean it is time to use the potty. You can help by teaching them their physical cues. For example, you might see your child doing the “potty dance” hopping back and forth, and bouncing around. Ask the child, “do you need to use the potty.” Follow up by putting them on the pot. If they go you can tell them, “see you did need to use the potty and you did it!” Every child has cues and you will learn these together. Some kids do the dance, others run and stand in a corner. But these actions show a growing awareness of their body’s cues.

3. Start when they can communicate.

Communicate – means they can express that they need to use the potty. This is not always verbal! It may be pulling your hand, or going to the bathroom, reaching or pointing to themselves. Hopefully, they will be able to tell you. But if they can’t, as long as they can communicate the need to you, then they are ready.

4. Start when you have the time.

Time – means that you are not rushed. You have the time to consistently and patiently work with your child to guide them on this journey. Yes, part of, “is my child ready” depends on you. Are you ready? You have to be ready to take your child EVERY time you see the cues or he tells you that he needs to go. There will be a lot of false alarms. Recognize that potty time might be fun time. Especially if you have one of those fun, musical, talking toilets. (Which I don’t recommend!) But you have to take him each and every time he requests it.

5. Start when they want to.

Want – means when the child tells you. “I want to use the potty.” They might say it in different ways. But they might begin to show an interest in sitting on the potty or changing their own diapers. They sometimes begin to feel like, I want this nasty thing off of my body. Many children will sometimes say, “I boo boo.” And they will look at you as if to say, get it off. If it bothers them then they are ready to learn. But this is the one that is optional. Some children don’t mind being dirty at all. So we can’t wait for that child to “want” to potty train. If they are able, can communicate, and they understand, then they are ready.

Conclusion:

Can I start before all of these steps.

Absolutely, and sometimes you have no choice! But these 5 conditions are the things that will make it much easier. My personal advice from 3 children and even more as a preschool teacher is: Prep your child with books and videos and talks before you start, Reward outrageously (not with food) but with songs, cheers, stickers and overwhelming enthusiasm and Be consistent. And even then it might not work if the child just isn’t ready. Especially if they’re not physiologically ready. And if the child is too resistant or not able, don’t continue to force them. Back off give it a few months or until they mature a little more and then try again. Here’s the advice my mom gave me when I was completely frustrated. She asked me patiently. Have you ever met a (normal, healthy) adult who couldn’t use the bathroom? Of course not. That’s because eventually, they will get it, everybody does!
I am including a few recommendations for potty training. The first is a good book on potty training techniques which work for many parents. The other books are some of my favorites. I used these books to read to toddlers to help them get used to the idea. (Note: These are affiliate links and I may receive a commission – at no additonal cost to you- when you buy products that I am genuinely excited about.)

This book is for parents, And by the way Dr McCoy, if you get a chance you should definitely check out her awesome blog: http://www.themompsychologist.com

This book is an oldie but a goodie, I love the line…he sat and sat and sat and sat…. Yes, Al Hamdulillah he sat! lol

    

These 2 are newer but the kids really enjoyed them…

While the first book is funny, this book is very sweet.

One more for you to try. I could go on and on. I love reading to children and I love picking out books for you to enjoy with your little ones. They learn so much when we read to them!

    

an ayat a day

ASA,

Salaams all.  Recently I was sitting in on my kids’ Quran memorization class.  The instructor was trying to encourage them to memorize the quran and become hafiz.      He started throwing out stats like if you memorize these many ayats a day you will be a hafiz in these many years.  One child, trying to be funny, raised his hand and asked what if I only memorized, one ayat a day?  The teacher responded, it would take you 20 years.  The kids laughed a bit at that, but I thought…GREAT!

Since becoming a mom, I can barely remember where my keys are!  Any dreams I had at memorizing the quran have long been just that…a dream.  I tell myself, I am doing great just to retain, what I already know.  But I was greatly inspired by his challenge.  Memorizing an ayat a day for 20 years means that by the time my infant is in college, I could be a hafiz.  Even better if we are hafiz together!  I told myself that I can do this.  InshaAllah.  I struggled the first week but with advice from friends, I came up with a few simple tips that helped with the memorizing.

Tip Number 1:  Start with a clear intention.  (Remember, actions are by intentions!)

Tip Number 2:  The best time for memorizing is immediately after fajr prayer.

Tip Number 3:  Try to repeat your ayat in every rakat.  (That way you have reviewed it at least 17 times that day!)

Tip Number 3:  Practice with the children.  (They will love helping you especially if you give a reward for whoever remembers the best.  the more excited they are the more they will remind you and keep you focused.)

Tip Number 4:  Give yourself a reward.  (Allah always rewards us when we try to do something good.  So set small goals for yourself and give a reward as they are reached.)

Tip Number 5:  Be clear on why you are doing this, InshaAllah for the sake of Allah.  If you do it for the sake of pleasing Allah, drawing closer to Him and preserving your deen in your heart and the hearts of your children, then you can’t fail!  Even if you memorize very little.

Lastly:  Give yourself a break!  If you skip a few days or forget an ayat, don’t give up!  The only perfect one of us is Allah swt.

 

Gas prices out of control!

I recently filled up my mommy-mobile.  (A 2000 Caravan)  Average price of a fill up for the mommy-mobile these days is $55.00.  Al Hamdulilah (Thanks be to God)  I’m a stay at home mom and a fill-up will last me a couple of weeks.  But my goodness, what about all of the other people who are just struggling to survive!  If you are like a lot of Americans and live paycheck to paycheck then the seemingly non-stop rise in gas prices and the corresponding rise in food prices are probably killing you!  As a former social worker I know that the minimum food stamp allotment per month is $10.00.  In frustration people who are given this small amount, usually ask, “what can I buy with $10.00?”  I used to answer, patiently, “with ten dollars you can at least get your milk, eggs, bread and cheese.”    Today you could not even purchase these four items.

I know this is a direct result of this foolish and unnecessary war.  I support the idea of “National Security“.  However, I realize that as jobs, decrease and unemployment and poverty increase our internal national security is at stake.  The rise in poverty, homelessness, and uncertainty are ills that increase crime and drug abuse.  (Already the rise in mortgage foreclosures has brought an increase in arson related house fires.)

I’m concerned that as a nation we are spending BILLIONS each year on this war and our international policies while decreasing monies spent on our schools, our children, OUR POOR.  I see no end in sight to this vicious cycle.

As moms we are going to have to pull together.  (Especially during this election year.)  We are going to have to make our voices heard, so that Washington, and the new president knows, that record profits for oil companies while many Americans can barely get to work is unacceptable.  We will have to insist that using our tax dollars to rebuild schools in Iraq cannot take precedent over rebuilding schools in the U.S.  Don’t misunderstand, I do feel that we have an obligation to rebuild these schools especially since our bombing destroyed much of their infrastructure in the first place.  But we could do both if we weren’t spending billions to send more troops overseas to police people who don’t want us to police them!

As moms we are also going to have to pool our collective resources to help each other.  The internet is an excellent tool to find and share info.  When you find a product or company that is working to help Americans during this difficult time let’s support that company and spread the word.  I have been using http://www.gasbuddy.com  to find low price gas in my area.  I find this service to be relatively accurate and if we continue to feed them good info then we can be a part of the solution.

Lesson for my children – Never give up

Today was not a great day.  Nothing is working out the way I had hoped for my business and it looks like an investment I made is going to lose money.  Money that I can’t afford to lose at this time.  I allowed myself to feel a little down for a moment and then I had to straighten myself back up and get over it.

As a Muslim I feel it shows a lack of faith to wallow in self-pity!  To feel it for a moment is human.  But to wallow is disbelief.  Because I have to believe that Allah is constantly blessing me and enriching my life in ways I see and in ways I don’t.  For that I am grateful.  I am thankful that Allah is my protector, my Wali, and that He is Ar-Rahman.  So the business I thought was so great was not but that doesn’t mean that Allah will not bless me with a great business.  Instead it means I have to step back, learn what Allah wanted to teach me with this lesson and apply it to the next opportunity that will surely come.  Because Allah’s words are ALWAYS true.  AFTER THE DIFFICULTY COMES THE EASE!  I only hope I can imprint this grateful resilience into the hearts of my children.  InshaAllah