Sunday, January 24, 2010

Reading to Your Infant - Tips for New Parents

"ScreamFree Parenting" A book we can all relate to.

When I became a new parent, I thought I knew it all! I read every book, every parenting magazine, every blog. I was determined to be the best Mom that ever lived. And for a while, I thought I was. I attended to my daughters every need, fed her only the best food and never lost my cool. THEN CAME CHILD NUMBER TWO! Everything changed! I now had two children in diapers, two mouths to feed and two children that demanded every second of my attention at the same time!

I'll never forget the first week after my son was born. It was lunch time. My daughter was going through her "I'm not eating anything" phase (a situation stressful all by itself) when my son decided to wake up from his nap. In my daughters eyes; her new brother was just plain rude! She was upset, he was crying...PANIC set in! I wasn't sure what to do. Do I try to feed the toddler who had only eaten a morsel of food all day? Or do I pick up the crying baby? I think I ended up doing both. I don't quite remember. I do remember, however, that this was the day everything began to fall apart! It became harder and harder to keep my cool. By the time, I finally established a routine, my youngest started walking! Then came the downward spiral of our economy, layoffs and a death in my family. I tried but the stress got the better of me and I confess that I wasn't the best parent. On one particularly hard day, I marched myself into the parenting section of the local bookstore, determined to buy every parenting book ever written when I stumbled onto a book called ScreamFree Parenting by Hal E. Runkel. "Ahhhh!" This is what I needed! I bought the book instantly.

The official title of this book is "ScreamFree Parenting: Raising Your Kids by Keeping Your Cool". The author combines true stories with good heartfelt advice. His stories are down to earth and very entertaining! This is a book everyone can relate to. Most importantly, Hal Runkel teaches you to stay calm in even the worst situations. I bought this book 4 years ago and browse through it often.

Hal Runkel is a licensed marriage and family therapist. He also offers seminars on CD and DVD. Check out his website "ScreamFree Institute" on www. screamfree.com

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Welcome New Parents!

It wasn't that long ago that I first became a new parent. I remember feeling very anxious. I didn't think I was capable of being a good Mom and the more I read about everything I was soon to be responsible for, the more anxious I became! So the first thing I want to say is RELAX! Everything will be fine!

When I was approaching motherhood for the first time, I remember watching Florence Henderson on the Today show promoting literacy. I remember her telling the viewers and Matt Lauer to read to your kids daily even when they are infants. She said it would foster a love for books and promote communication skills. So being an impressionable first time Mom I listened to her. Do you know what? She was right! My daughter began talking at a very early age. Before she had reached her 2nd birthday, she had a vocabulary of a 3 year old. My son, who is now in preschool, is currently reading at a 1st Grade level! So, I personally believe that Miss Henderson and all the experts out there who promote daily reading know what they are talking about!

TIPS: I began reading to my daughter during her first month. I found the best time for her was when she just woke from a nap. While she was still in her cradle I read whatever was handy. Sometimes it was a children's book, sometimes it was a newspaper and sometimes even Atlas Shrugged! (The book I was reading at the time.) I read until she seemed restless and then I'd pick her up and go about our day. I found that anything that was read with enthusiasm was well received. There were times where she was content for 15 minutes, other times only five. I let her take the lead.

BOOKS: One of my favorite books is I'm Gonna Like Me: Letting Off a Little Self Esteem by Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell. It is written for children ages 4-8 but I began reading this to my daughter while she was an infant. Curtis uses repetition and rhyme to show children how easy it is to like yourself even if you give a wrong answer in school or fall down and get hurt. My daughters favorite line was: I'm gonna like me/when I jump up so high/I'll twist and I'll stretch/straight up to the sky because while reading this page I would literally JUMP, TWIST, STRETCH and try to TOUCH THE SKY! My favorite line is: I'm gonna like me/ 'cause I'm loved and I know it/and liking myself/is the best way to show it. I highly recommend this book. It was a favorite in my family for years!

Another favorite book of ours is Micawber by John Lithgow and C.F Payne. This beautifully illustrated book is about a squirrel who discovers the wonders of painting. He is quite the cultured squirrel who regularly ventures to the "palace on Fifth Avenue" (the Metropolitan Museum of Art) and through the windows he admires the various masterpieces on exhibit. It was on one of these excursions that he discovered an artist painting a Monet which inspires him to create his own works of art! "Using his tail as a brush" he opens himself up to a whole new world! This book is both fun to read and hear! And thanks to John Lithgow, my children now know words like Rembrandt, Monet and "peregrination"! A MUST have for all parents!