Dealing with Daycare Separation Anxiety

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This past spring I felt that my home business was growing to the extent that it was taking a lot of time away from my children and my personal time. If I wanted to go even further with the business I would need either a nanny or daycare to free up time for me to grow. Over the summer we started sending our boys to our synagogue’s day care program. My older son, Ben, attends services with my husband every week there. So for Ben it wasn’t a new place or new people. For Adam who stays home with me – this was a totally new experience for him.

While I stayed home last year the boys went a couple hours here and there to the day care center at our gym.  So they have experienced a small amount of separation from me. An hour or two a few days a week was the standard amount time away from each other.  I recommend if you are nervous about starting day care with either a baby or a toddler who has never been before start them slowly.  When I was teaching full-time I would typically drop Ben off at the daycare or nanny for a couple hours 2 weeks before the school year started. This way it was not an unfamiliar place when he started going full-time.  This short amount of time that the child spends at the daycare or nanny can also alleviate any separation anxiety for the parents as they transition back into full-time work.  The parent gets to know the teachers or the nanny better, they get used to saying goodbye, and having time without their child.

As we started daycare the first two weeks this summer Ben was really excited, but then separation anxiety did start setting in.  What helped Ben was having some time with Adam in the morning to play and get settled then. So the teachers at the daycare center coordinated a time first thing for the boys to play outside together. This 20 to 30 minutes helped Ben get over his separation anxiety very quickly. This works well if you have siblings or a friend who’s child your child is already friends with.

For Adam, he has always had separation anxiety.  He doesn’t even want to walk into the door in the morning. I simply pick him up and have a routine with the classroom teacher to get him settled in quickly. I lift him into the classroom, hug and kiss him, give him to the teacher, and she takes him over to his favorite toy to distract him immediately, calming him.

I don’t recommend elongating the goodbye, or feeling guilty. If your child sees you feel badly dropping them off at daycare then they will feel that there’s something bad about dropping them off at daycare. If you just keep it quick, happy, and set up a routine they will transition into their day better.  Stick to this transition routine, and stay positive. For a young child like Adam who is only 18 months old and has been home his entire life up until now, a short daycare day is a huge change in his life.

In the morning after I drop off Adam I go to I drop off Ben. I simply give him a kiss goodbye and he starts  playing with his friends. When I walk back past the baby room I peek into Adams classroom and he’s busy happily playing.  Daycare and preschool give parents a chance to teach their child that school is cool from a young age. If you keep it upbeat and positive, they will come around to it being an upbeat and positive experience.  As a teacher, I will tell you that separation anxiety as at its highest during drop off in the morning. Most kids settle into school and have a great day. The following morning the separation anxiety returns. I know that Adam is having a great time playing with his friends, helping his teachers and his room, and is being taken care of while I’m out with him. I don’t feel guilty dropping him off because he cries in the morning. I know he’s going to be okay.  I have seen kids of ages  five or six have terrible separation anxiety in the morning and later during the school day are happily playing with their friends.  The worst separation anxiety I ever saw was from a six-year-old who when I taught her in the afternoon was a complete joy to have in my classroom.  Try to set up a plan with the classroom teacher every day to get your child settled in and comfortable. Work with your classroom teacher or the school counselor if the separation anxiety is extreme.

Another tip I have for older toddlers joining daycare for the first time is when you are home with your child talk positively about the teacher and their friends are making. Our daycare put out a newsletter with photos of what’s happening in the classroom each week, so I gave the photos to Ben and talked about his friends with him when we got home. We talked about how much fun he has playing with them every day. We talked about the fun things he’s learning in school.  Now he loves going to school! In fact,  yesterday he left the school building crying because he had to leave school!

If you’re returning to work immediately after your maternity leave and leaving your child to day care or with a nanny as I did when I left Ben at 4 1/2 months- there was no separation anxiety. Babies don’t understand that we can actually get up and be somewhere else. He went to school every single day for half a year with not a tear in his eye.  He was too little to understand. The older they get, closer to nine months to a year old they start to understand that mommy goes away. Remind them that mommy always comes back. Start with leaving them with dad while you go for groceries show them mommy goes bye-bye and comes back. Take a date with your husband or start daycare in small increments like I recommend. Small amounts of separation can ease a later larger transition.  I believe that consistently separating this past year from Ben helped him get over his separation anxiety quickly, he knows mommy always comes back. As I said that out loud just now he replied “yes.”

Legoland Fun in San Diego

If you follow My Petite Picassos on Instagram you’ll know that we recently went to Legoland, California. We had an amazing vacation and the boys had so much fun!

Compared to other theme parks in SoCal Legoland is really affordable!  We were able to go for $123.99 all together!  We had a Bogo coupon for buy one adult hopper ticket get another one free. Hopper tickets allow you to go in between Legoland and either the aquarium or the splash park. We chose the splash park, however we were only at Legoland one day and we didn’t end up going there.  Kids under three years old are free at Legoland so the boys got in with for free. This was a lot cheaper than last year when I paid $300 a day for myself and my husband at Disneyland. Legoland is not as magical as Disneyland nor as large, but it definitely is a great theme park!

We went on a Saturday in July and while it was crowded it was not overcrowded. We downloaded the Legoland app to find out which rides had the shortest wait time. We only waited a long time for a boat ride. Even though my boys are young toddlers they were able to enjoy a variety of rides and activities. They had several boat rides and cruises through at the same park that the boys could go on, a carousel, a train ride, and little car rides. A lot of the boat rides and such are going past full Lego exhibits such as the Lego towns/monuments or fairytale stories.  I loved seeing Las Vegas made out of Legos, so much detail-they even had a pool party at one of the hotels!

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It was more challenging to find things for Adam to do than Ben. Ben even got to ride some rides by himself! A lot of rides are appropriate for ages three and up however they do have a whole Duplo Town for little guys . Duplo Town is where we rode the train and there was a large playground.  When my husband to take Ben on rides I would walk around with Adam and take him to the area where you can build with large Legos or go in search of characters. One of the favorite places in the theme park for the boys was the area where they could build Lego cars and race them!

Th hands on activities kept the boys busy for at least 45 minutes to an hour and we found ourselves prying them away to check out rides or get something to eat.

New Schedule

Hey there. I’m going to start posting every Saturday. I will continue posting recipes, art activities, and parenting articles. I’ve been working really hard on my business from home. Now I would like to have a little fun and return back to my blog.  If you’ve been following me on Instagram you know that the boys and I went to Legoland recently, I will be posting about our experience and tips for Legoland trips.  I also plan to write an article very soon about separation anxiety and daycare. So those are two articles you can look forward to and please continue to follow me on Instagram!

One is One, Two is Twenty

One is one

That’s what my mom told me my cousin said about having two littles back to back.  Today it dawned on me as we did a 6 hour drive to San Diego how much easier it would be with one child and how much more attentive to that child I would be.

For a short 18 months I was Ben’s mom, only Ben’s mom.  Ben’s mom who had books in the backseat of the car and gave him one every morning on our drive to daycare.  Ben’s mom who sat on the floor and played with him everyday after work.  Ben’s mom who had weekly arts and crafts activities planned to the last detail for the nanny to complete with him.  Then I became a mom of 2 under 2.

If it had been just Ben for this trip we are on I would have had a bunch of handmade busy bags made for him, I would have sat in the back seat playing and reading to him, and I would have had home cooked snacks like quinoa muffins for the trip.

Instead Ben and Adam were occupied with a little Mickey Mouse on the IPad, lollipops, and singing to each other.  I sat in the front seat unable to do much when one got antsy – other than talk calmly to my child as their father pulled off on the closest exit.

The mom I’ve become forgets to pack bibs and a dressy top for the trip because I’m so busy trying to keep an eye on two very active toddler boys.  I hardly get to play on the floor with them because I’m running after them with the dustpan and folding laundry.  Two toddler boys = buried in laundry!  They may not have quinoa muffins, but I did make the pb and honey sandwiches and stock the back seat with all their favorite snacks.

It’s hard not to think that I was more attentive to Ben as a mom of one and he reaped the rewards of that, however he is reaping far more having a little brother who has brought so much happiness into our home and hearts.  I wish I could be that perfect mom that I was to Ben to both of them-but it’s a different kind of balance for me now.  Rather than working full time as a teacher and coming home-giving Ben 110%, I’m working part time building a business around my boys’ schedule. I was for a year a full time stay at home mom and I do feel I was more attentive to my boys than I am now, but I have an opportunity that I need to take advantage of-and in the long run could pay off in more than one way for my family. I do catch my moments during the week that I am able to sit and play instead of clean or cook, some nights they even listen to me read stories, and swim classes on weekends are one on one time with mom.

About a year ago I signed up the boys for a mommy and me art class. Ben didn’t want to go in the class as there was a playground he was more interested in and Adam started to sympathy cry.  Both boys crying I brushed it off, walked inside the class to a bunch of stares from moms who had one quiet, on task child.  A dad looked at his wife and said “And you want a second?!?!” Yeah I’ve had kids fighting in the cart in the checkout line, and both crying when they clunk heads on the trampoline—but they’re best friends.  Adam made our family complete-maybe it’s messy, and we’re running late to EVERYTHING, and I don’t have a bib in my diaper bag on our trip to San Diego.  Maybe that’s our imperfect perfection.

I don’t know how moms of 3, 4, or more manage.  The laundry piles must be up to the ceiling!  I’m amazed by my friends of 3+ -they’re a lot more brace than me.  I’m happy with my two boys-they’re best friends and I feel that my family is complete.  I’m done with vomiting through my first trimester and sleepless nights with a newborn.  Im glad I experienced the first ultrasound, the first time I held my boys in my arms, and the first steps-but I look forward to finding Liza again.  She’s lost somewhere between work and piles of laundry.  It’s temporary, but I’m making way for me time.

Am I complaining?  About laundry and not enough “me” time-yes.  About being a mom-NEVER.  Balance-it’s all about balance.  Balancing was easier with one, and went totally out the window with two-but since they’re so close in age it’s coming back sooner than later.

One day I’ll yearn for this busy, sometimes chaotic time back.  My cherubs will grow into teenagers who will be busy with friends and school.  One day they will be men with families of their own.  My laundry loads will diminish and I’ll get to that bucket list, just not now.

Marking Our Milestone

 

Ok, he’s not a baby anymore, he’s a toddler.  In the Jewish tradition you are not supposed to cut your son’s hair until 3.  At the 3 year old birthday mark on the Hebrew calendar (it’s a lunar and much older calendar than the Christian calendar) the boy has his haircut and there is a party to honor him coming into more spiritual awareness.  Prior to cutting Ben’s hair we met with my dear friend Maritza Nolasco to get photos of him done.  It was extra special having Maritza take these photos as she and I experienced pregnancy for the first time together down to a couple of days difference!  She has been a great supporter on my path to and through motherhood.  We started with some outdoor photos  in her yard and then followed to the pool to get some photos of his gorgeous hair as he swam!  milestoneIMG_0191IMG_0194IMG_0206IMG_0293IMG_0294

Even Adam got in on the photo fun and we have some incredible shots of the boys together.  If you live in Las Vegas and are looking for a professional photographer, who’s great with kids and very patient I suggest looking up Maritza on Instagram or Facebook!

These photos will mean so much to me in years to come.  It will remind me of this special time I am having with m boys, it marks a change in my firstborn from being a baby to a child.  I love his long waves, wheat blond from time spent in the Israeli never-ending summer sun, but I will love his short hair too.  He will look handsome and more grown up.  No more tangles and knots as I comb through it and no more “she’s so pretty” in the grocery store.  He will be a BIG BOY at last!

 

 

Father’s Day with My Petite Picassos

Father's DaySo yes I am slowing down on the blog but when something relevant happens I do want to share and we just had an epic Father’s Day!  It started off with Ben making this cute framed photo craft at summer camp. In fact, if you follow me on Pinterest you’ll see that there are a lot of cute ideas posted for making photo presents for dad. 

Prior to Father’s Day, about two weeks ago, I made with the boys Father’s Day gifts for my dad and for my husband. We used acrylic paint and paint markers that I purchased at Target to make handprint and footprint art pottery. My dad is an avid golfer, so we made his around the theme of golf. My husband just adores his children so we made his with the theme of hearts and a little Hebrew rhyme (my husband is from Israel).


This project just took one afternoon. I recommend if you get into multiple footprints like I did that you do first the lighter color of paint.I did my dad’s plates first with the boys using the silver paint. Then we did my husband’s plates with the red paint.

I glazed the plates and cups with dishwasher safe Mod Podge which takes a month to cure. On Father’s Day I made my husband breakfast and surprised him with the play and the coffee cup.


After breakfast we went to swim class for Ben. He’s been working really hard on swimming for the last few months and has moved up a level and this week he moved up again! It’s actually funny that on Mother’s Day he moved up, then on Father’s Day he moved up again!  When he goes up a level they give him a ribbon and he can pick a toy from the treasure chest. He picked bubbles. He carried his ribbon and bubbles around for the rest of the day, he was so proud! The swimming skills came in handy later on when we went over to our friends’ house for a pool party. We  had a great time swimming and afterwards finished the day with ice cream at dusk. It was a long and fun Father’s Day! It was great to spend time with friends and enjoy the outdoors in the Las Vegas heat! The boys slept in this morning because they were so tired from all of yesterday’s events!

What did you do on Father’s Day? Did your child make some DIY art projects for their dad? If they did please share them in the comments below.

Ben showing off his ribbon.

Summer

If you’ve been following My Petite Picassos on Instagram you know my boys started summer camp last week.  I’ve started working full time on my business that I’ve been building during nap time/after bedtime for four months.  This is a busy and exciting time for our family.  I’m going to be taking it easy on blogging over the next few weeks as we transition.  I will be on Instagram and Pinterest regularly.  I will share about Father’s Day and Ben’s third birthday on the blog pin upcoming weeks but it will be sporadic for July.  

Weaning My Toddler

Yes, toddler.  More and more moms I find are breastfeeding until 2 or 3 I find.  Ben I weaned at 12 months.  It was easy – I simply cut one feeding a week and replaced it with homemade baby food.  He was in daycare which helped-we had some independence from each other.  Also, I was pregnant.  After that he slept through the night and moved to his own room.  He’s a great sleeper-12 hours straight.  Naps are pretty great too.

Adam on the other hand has been more challenging.  He never wanted to sleep in a bassinet or crib.  I’ve been co-sleeping with him since birth.  He exclusively breastfed until 10 months old when I allowed him to try soft and easy to dissolve foods from our plates.  He likes food-but he likes to breastfeed more.  He’s very attached and sleep? What sleep?!?!  I’ve been in a zombie fog for 17 months now.  I’ve gently and slowly replaced nursing with food over time.  I started that at 10 months old.  Then Adam reverse cycled and wanted to nurse more at night to feel close and make up for what he was missing during the day. A lactation consultant suggested I nurse more during the day and he will let up at night.  So I did.  I also gave up on the idea of weaning for 2 months.  

At 14 1/2 months I decided I’d had enough with not sleeping.  Adam had been sleeping part time in a crib and I felt like he might sleep better if I just made sure not to fall sleep with him in my arms and put him back in the crib.  Best. Laid. Plans.  Haha-I’m exhausted so that didn’t work.  Instead I would have to get serious about weaning.  I day weaned except nap.  He did not reverse cycle this time.

About 3 weeks ago I decided to cut bedtime nursing and wake up nursing.  Strangely bedtime nursing has been easier to cut back on.  I wait until he’s really tired, I rub Wink Naturals Pure Breathe and Sleep Rub on his chest, and rock him to sleep.  He goes down after 5-20 minutes.  He stays asleep until 3 am which cuts out another 1-2 feedings.

Morning and nap are next to tackle. Not sure which will happen first.  The boys started daycare summer camp last week and he naps there 5 days a week-but I’m not there.  Morning is tough because he wakes up MAD if he can’t nurse.  

Weaning a toddler can be tricky.  It’s so ingrained into their lives to nurse once they’re past 12 months.  Many of my friends who nursed toddlers chose to stop cold turkey.  Im trying to avoid that as it’s painful emotionally and physically I’ve also heard.  Yes, I’m taking the long, winding road-but one day I’ll reach the end.

First day of daycare-lunches and backpacks packed and ready to go!

Chagall Windows Lesson Plan

I am fortunate enough to have visited the Chagall Windows in Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center twice.  Upon entering the room with the windows you are surrounded by radiant light illuminating Chagall’s masterpiece telling the story of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. This lesson is a collage project that can be completed by children ages 7-10.

I have included in the resources a book from my favorite art historical book series Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists by Mike Venezia.  He combines cartoons and accurate art historical information in a way that can be used by students of all ages.  When reading his books I typically break them up into 2-3 readings depending the age group.  I have found his books through Amazon, my local library, most school libraries, and Barnes and Noble.Marc Chagall was a Russian Jewish artist who experienced life in the shtetl as a small boy.  A shtetl is a word used to describe  segregated, impoverished villages in Russia.  The shtetl often experienced raids from the Russian army and Chagall experienced anti-Semitism in his life there.  To create these windows in Jerusalem after Israel became a country, was a great honor for him.  He was very proud of his heritage and had great hope for his people.

 

Chagall Windows

Grades 2 – 5

Grouping:  Whole/Individual

Materials: 9″x11″ white paper, water cups, paint brushes, tissue paper, Elmer’s glue, pencils, rulers, and black permanet markers.

Resources: Artwork of Hadassah short film clip, Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists: Marc Chagall by Mike Venezia

Objectives:  Students will:

  • learn about the life and art of Marc Chagall
  • create an artwork based on the theme of peace
  • create a multi media work of art

Procedures:

  1. Students will view the teacher exemplar and discuss the project (steps, expectations, outcomes).
  2. Students will use their ruler and pencil to draw straight lines (5-6) on their white piece of paper to convey the lead piping that holds stained glass in place.
  3. Students will draw symbols of peace such as the peace sign, angels, doves, olive branches, etc inside the shapes their lines create.
  4. Students will trace everything they have drawn with black permanent marker.
  5. The class will listen to and discuss the book Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists: Marc Chagall by Mike Venezia.
  6. The class will view a demonstration by the teacher on how to collage pieces of tissue paper over the drawings to give the look of stained glass.
  7. Students will turn in their artwork for assessment.

Assessment:

  1. Student drew a picture using a ruler and showing peace symbols neatly and with detail.  2/5
  2. Student traced his drawing neatly with permanent marker.  1/5
  3. Student collaged using appropriate amounts of glue and tissue paper carefully.  2/5

If I wanted to do this project with a younger group, I would simply have them layer tissue paper on top of white paper to experience the fractals of light and color found in stained glass windows.  I have included a slideshow of my photos from Hadassah Medical Center.  They sell a very nice set of postcards depicting Marc Chagall’s designs in the gift shop.  That might be something worth contacting them for.

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Nutritious Pancakes With Fruit and Oats

Nutritious pancakes
Pancakes are Ben’s favorite breakfast.  He won’t eat anything but pancakes in the morning!  Some mornings he’ll have some apple and carrot sauce or down a bottle of chocolate milk for added nutrients.  Usually I give him Organic Silver Dollar Pancakes from Trader Joe’s which I just heat up in the microwave or in a pan on the stove. On lazy mornings when we’re not rushing out the door I like to make him these nutritious homemade pancakes.

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Adding the oat flour to the egg/fruit mixture

Ingredients:

1/2 cup oat flour (I grind rolled oats in the blender first)

3 eggs

5 oz. applesauce

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 banana

1 apple (cored, skinned, and sliced)

2/3 c. flour

Directions:

Grind up rolled oats in a blender and pour into a bowl.  In the blender add apple, banana, eggs, and applesauce.  Blend.  In a bowl or using a stand alone mixer mix oat flour, flour, and baking powder. Pour in and mix egg and fruit mixture to form a batter.

Using a tablespoon spoon the batter into a warm pan with coconut oil or butter and fry until golden.  Flip over and fry on the other side.  Serve with honey or fruit.

What I really like about this recipe is that you can add a variety of fruits and veggies in.  Zucchini, bananas, crushed pineapple, pumpkin puree, pureed beans, and carrot sauce can all be mixed in and give nutrition to a simple breakfast food!