Recent Posts

Raising Little Boys and Thoughts on Andrew Yang’s ‘Why Boys and Men are Failing’ Episode

Raising Little Boys and Thoughts on Andrew Yang’s ‘Why Boys and Men are Failing’ Episode

As a mother of a 2 year old boy, Andrew Yang’s recent episode on his podcast ‘Forward’ piqued my interest; “Why Boys and Men are Failing”. You can also watch the conversation between Yang and Zach Graumann on YouTube. I found this an odd and intriguing topic 

Easy Pumpkin Recipe for Toddlers

Easy Pumpkin Recipe for Toddlers

Pumpkin Yogurt Parfait Ingredients Directions Pumpkin: Nutrition & Benefits This week’s recipe is inspired by my toddler’s love for pumpkin pie! On more than one occasion, he has woken up in the middle of the night screaming, “pumpkin pie!”. He just loves it so much. 

Raising Global Citizens for a Better Tomorrow

Raising Global Citizens for a Better Tomorrow

I was going to write this week’s post on pumpkin muffins for toddlers… but I can’t write about pumpkin muffins this week. There is something far more important to address that concerns me as a mother and as a human. And that is the war that started with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

a map of Russia and Ukraine

Since that initial invasion, a little over a week has passed and people are fleeing Ukraine. Their lives have been completely upended, and too many people have already died. Some people are stuck in Ukraine, some are staying to fight, some are traveling long distances to cross the border, and many are looking back at loved ones they had to leave behind. These are just ordinary everyday people, like you or me. 

This is not the first time a group of people has had to endure tragedy, violence and aggression; but it doesn’t quite seem real in 2022. It really seems like we should have progressed past this kind of warfare by now. How does a man like Putin exist?  

Recognizing our Common Humanity

I imagine having to take my 2 year old from our home and say goodbye to my husband (all men between 18-60 are banned from leaving Ukraine), not knowing whether I would see him again or not. And not even knowing if my child and I could safely make it out of the country. Not to mention, what would we do if and when we got out? Where would we go? How would we live?

If you haven’t watched any of the footage or listened to any interviews with those being impacted in Ukraine, I encourage you to do so. The Daily podcast offers several episodes that are both informative and heartbreaking, and BBC and NPR share current videos and articles.

A war or any tragic conflict, whether on a global scale or even on a personal scale, has a way of bringing the most important things into laser focus. A lot of things I preoccupy myself with suddenly feel frivolous. And I have to ask myself, what is truly important in this life?

As much as I am focused on the tragedy of the situation, I am also trying to catch sight of any glimmers of hope. And I do see tiny glimmers. There are people around the world expressing unified support for Ukraine and condemning the War. Even the European Union has acted swiftly and collaboratively imposing sanctions against Russia. So these displays of unity and humanitarianism give me hope.

letter blocks spelling out humanity

Raising My Child to be a Global Citizen

So as I continue to ingest media coverage on Ukraine, I think about what I can do. And honestly, it doesn’t feel like much and it isn’t much. I am reading about these tragedies from the comfort of my home, 5,000 plus miles away.  

But this tragedy has got me thinking about how I want to raise my son. It sounds so cliche, but as parents we have this amazing opportunity to try and help better society and help humanity evolve by nurturing our children.

And while I know my 2 year old isn’t going to solve any of Ukraine’s problems today, maybe he can be part of a future generation that will help prevent such crises from arising in the first place. So I am thinking about how I can encourage him to identify not only as an individual and an American citizen, but also as a global citizen.

The United Nations describes global citizenship as follows,

The term can refer to the belief that individuals are members of multiple, diverse, local and non-local networks rather than single actors affecting isolated societies. Promoting global citizenship in sustainable development will allow individuals to embrace their social responsibility to act for the benefit of all societies, not just their own.

multicultural group of people holding hands

So rather than thinking about what clothes or toys my son may “need” this week, I am thinking about how to raise a global citizen. And how to model what that means.

Children are Growing up in a Globalized World

I think we are all inevitably and naturally moving towards a global citizenship orientation. The world is rapidly changing and developing, and we are living in an increasingly globalized world. 

PIIE defines globalization as follows,

Globalization is the word used to describe the growing interdependence of the world’s economies, cultures, and populations, brought about by cross-border trade in goods and services, technology, and flows of investment, people, and information. 

We are becoming more connected to people around the world than ever before. For example, it’s rare to see someone without a cell phone these days. Even young kids. And those phones have internet and social media. News travels fast. Videos go viral. And everyone can share their opinions and experiences on the worldwide web.

world map with 2 phones across from each other and touching hands

And these past couple of years, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that when it comes down to it, we are all here on the same planet and can all be affected by a singular event. And while it is unclear what the situation in Ukraine will become, it very well could turn into something that impacts many countries around the world.

How to Raise Our Children as Global Citizens

So how do we teach our kids to embrace this responsibility of being part of a globalized world and become global citizens? How do I raise my child to consider people across all cultures and countries? To exercise caution and skepticism, but also to be open and curious? How do I teach him how to consume news critically, and spread news thoughtfully? And how to recognize his own privilege and watch out for those who may not have the same? 

1. Stay up to Date on International Affairs

I think a fundamental first step to being a global citizen and raising one, is staying informed on world affairs. While my son is 2 and I am obviously not going to be talking politics or war tragedies with him, I can make sure I am consuming news thoughtfully myself. So that when my son does get older and starts asking questions, I have a way to answer them.  
 
Sometimes I ask myself, what good does it do to read about tragedies like the Russia Ukraine War from the comfort of my own home? How does it really help anyone? But we all start somewhere. The more I learn, the more likely I am to get involved in some way. The more likely I am to make international awareness a part of my son’s life. And who knows then what he will do with that awareness as he gets older. 

2. Foster Multicultural Awareness

I have been struck by photographs shared by media organizations like NPR recently, of people holding up signs at railway stations for refugees. Signs saying things like, “1 room for mother + child”. How amazing that these people are welcoming strangers in need into their homes. 

While it is true that we unfortunately live in a world where we have to be on alert for potentially dangerous individuals, I have to remind myself that most people are just decent humans who want to live a happy life. And I want my son to recognize this as well.

a wall with portraits of people from all different cultures

Some ideas on ways to foster multicultural awareness;

  • Get to know your local community.
  • Get to know communities outside your local community, through travel and education.
  • Get to know people of all different economic and cultural backgrounds.
And when travel isn’t an option, I like GVI’s suggestion to learn about other cultures by going out to eat at restaurants offering different types of cuisine. Or trying to cook a traditional dish from another country at home. And in this age of information, we have access to so much information worldwide via the web. 

3. Encourage Collaboration

GVI lists the following foundational skills that global citizens nurture to create a global culture of collaboration;

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Decision-making skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Communication skills
 
These are skills we can support and encourage in our children at home from a young age. We can talk to them thoughtfully, ask them questions (even if they can’t talk back yet), listen to them and encourage exploration and curiosity. 
 
We can let them engage in Independent Play as a way to build their problem solving and critical thinking skills. And we can create Toddler Friendly Homes to encourage independence and decision making skills. Additionally, we can acknowledge their experiences and Big Feelings to encourage self awareness and communication. We can also play games with them that teach collaboration. 

4. Encourage Gratitude

When it comes to being a global citizen, exercising gratitude and empathy also come to mind. When we feel deep gratitude for our lives, we learn to honor the value of others’ lives as well and we have empathy. And empathy helps us to relate to one another and find compassion and a common ground on which we can all stand peacefully.

I was prompted to consider this aspect of gratitude and empathy when it comes to global citizenship after seeing a set of images from Reuters. In these photos, newborns and their parents along with hospital staff are taking shelter in the basement of a Ukrainian maternity ward after air raid alerts.

Having my son and a last minute C section was such a huge and overwhelming moment, I can’t imagine having the stress of worrying about a potential bombing in the midst of that. So when I think back on my relatively cushy hospital experience, I realize I have a lot to be grateful for. And I feel even more for those parents in Ukraine who are bringing new life into the world in the midst of a war.

a grandmother and mother embracing a newborn

So how do I foster gratitude and empathy in my child? While I have a 2 year old who probably isn’t processing much about what is behind the words thank you, I can still introduce him to this phrase. And more importantly, model the sentiment behind “thank you”. I can show him and teach him how to appreciate the good things in this life. 

Verywell Mind cites studies showing the positive relationship between gratitude and happiness in kids as young as 5 years old. And for older kids, they cite a link between gratitude, giving social support, and improved mental health.

Standing Together as Global Citizens

group of people standing and holding hands

As I sit here and wrap up my thoughts, I realize the irony of talking about global citizenship as Ukraine fights a war against Russia alone. While other countries are imposing sanctions on Russia, sending military equipment to Ukraine and opening their borders for refugees, they are not sending their troops into Ukraine to help defend the country. 

While so many people around the world and leaders of other countries are acknowledging the tragedy of what is happening in Ukraine, they also acknowledge that Russia is a superpower. With more nuclear weapons than any other country. And they fear escalating a volatile situation into what could potentially become a world war.

While I feel helpless when watching footage of residential bombings and exhausted refugees, I am determined to be a better global citizen going forward. And to raise my son to also value global citizenship and humanitarianism; to recognize the non-negotiable value of other humans walking around on this earth. Through multicultural awareness, gratitude, empathy and collaboration, I believe we can be better.

Please use the space in the comments below to share any thoughts or feelings regarding this post, thank you ♡

DIY Toddler Toys for Creative Play

DIY Toddler Toys for Creative Play

Sometimes the best toddler toys are the ones made from the contents of your recycling bin! 3 of my toddler’s favorite play activities involve toys we made out of cardboard boxes; Car ramps and jumps Ball hoops Forts And aside from costing nothing, DIY toddler toys have 

Do 2 Year Olds Need Naps?

Do 2 Year Olds Need Naps?

Around the time my toddler turned 2 years old, his nap schedule went a little haywire. Just before turning 2, he had a nap regression that lasted a couple of weeks. And now at 25 months old, he is again having trouble settling down for 

Intergenerational Family Patterns and How We Parent

Intergenerational Family Patterns and How We Parent

Intergenerational family patterns are made up of behaviors, beliefs and family dynamics that are passed down from generation to generation.

These patterns become deeply entrenched within family systems. And in the case of unhealthy patterns, this is problematic because they can be difficult to break. Family members may accept certain patterns as the norm, or they may maintain unhealthy patterns subconsciously. So these unhealthy patterns persist across generations.

As a mother of a 2 year old, I want to examine how my intergenerational family patterns impact my parenting style. I hope that with this awareness, I can break any unhealthy patterns. And likewise, preserve the positive patterns that have been passed down to me. I also hope to contribute new healthy patterns to pass down to my son and subsequent generations. 

Passing Down Healthy Family Patterns To Our Children

mother and baby
Me and O

I like to think that every new generation has the opportunity to be better parents than the previous generation. I may be able to offer my son something my parents weren’t able to offer me. In turn, my son will be able to offer his children (if he chooses to have them) something that I wasn’t able to offer him. And so on and so forth.

With this in mind, I acknowledge that I will never be a perfect parent. But I know that as long as I am striving to work on being a better parent, I am a good enough parent for my child.

Interviewing Older Parents to Learn About Intergenerational Family Patterns

One way I am developing a better understanding of my intergenerational family patterns, is to learn more about my parents.

For those of us who still have parents that are alive, we can ask them about their pasts;

  • What were their homes like as children?
  • What were their parents like? 
  • What was their relationship like with their parents?
  • What challenges did they face?
  • How did their parents treat them?
  • What did they admire about their parents? What did they dislike?
  • What beliefs were instilled in them regarding family?
  • What challenges did they overcome growing up?

The more information I gather about my parents, the more I understand what is/was behind their behaviors, beliefs and our family dynamics. And this makes me feel more compassionate towards any struggles we went/go through as a family. I am then able to extend this growing compassion towards my own child. And do my very best to parent from a place of empathy and consideration.

So the more I learn about my parents, the more I realize how many challenges they overcame, and in turn provided me with far more privilege than they ever had as kids. So I keep this in mind, as I reflect on my parents and my own parenting approaches. 

Additionally, the more I reflect on my parents’ patterns, the more I recognize those patterns showing up in myself, both the desirable and less desirable ones. So often we think that we are nothing like our parents, only to realize that we are more similar to them than not.

old family photos
 Glimpses of where I came from ~
old photo of child with parents
Me and my parents ~

Engaging in Therapy to Learn About Intergenerational Family Patterns

Another way to learn about personal family patterns is to seek professional mental health services. Individual or family therapists can offer relatively objective perspectives on family dynamics. They point out unhealthy patterns, and help individuals and families break them. 

Using Self-Help Approaches to Learn About Intergenerational Family Patterns

In addition to learning about our family histories or engaging in therapy, we can also go on self-help journeys. We can read books and journal about family dynamics, healthy relationships and developing self-awareness. 

What are Unhealthy Family Patterns? 

Unhealthy family patterns are usually related to boundary violations. Examples of poor boundaries include family dynamics that are centered around manipulation and enmeshment. 

Enmeshment in a parent child relationship for example, might be a parent consciously or subconsciously keeping their child from forming a separate identity. And simultaneously, not allowing that child to express his or her own needs. If a child tries to establish a boundary, the parent may apply manipulation tactics to break that boundary. The child may then feel pressured or guilted into maintaining the status quo. 

Boundary issues and other unhealthy family patterns among family members may also arise due to mental health issues like mood disorders, substance use disorders or unresolved trauma. In these cases, a struggling family member may not realize the way that their behavior is negatively impacting others. And in turn, others may not understand the extent of that family member’s struggles and feelings of powerlessness. 

What are Healthy Family Patterns?

Just as important as it is to identify unhealthy behaviors and beliefs within a family system, it is also important to identify healthy family dynamics. Healthy family patterns encourage supportiveness and togetherness, while simultaneously encouraging individuation and appropriate boundaries between family members.

There is open communication and respect regarding all family members’ personal boundaries. Family members listen to each other and validate each others’ feelings. Behaviors that accompany those feelings don’t necessarily need to be validated, but there is always acknowledgment and respect for the other family members’ felt experiences. 

Parenting and Intergenerational Boundary Patterns

In the context of parenting, the term ‘boundaries’ is often mistakenly equated with authoritative parenting. When I use the word boundaries though, I am talking about the kinds of frameworks we establish for our children that help them feel safe and supported. The frameworks that help them learn to honor their own personal boundaries, as well as respect those of others.

Below are some examples of different types of boundary patterns that I have found helpful to be aware of when it comes to parenting my child. 

Relationship Boundaries: Helicopter Parenting Vs Neglectful Parenting

Helicopter parents hover over their children and are overly involved, to the point that they stifle their child’s ability to develop independently. Neglectful parenting on the other hand, is when parents do not provide adequate support, either emotionally or physically for their child. 

After taking an honest look at where I fall on this spectrum, I realize I am closer to the helicopter parenting end of the spectrum. So to better understand why I am drawn to helicopter parenting and to hopefully change any unhealthy behaviors, I ask myself the following;

  • How present (or absent) were my parents during my childhood and how did it impact me?
  • How do I encourage independence in my child?
  • How do I demonstrate that I am available for my child when he needs me, but not overbearing? 

(For more on encouraging independence in toddlers, you can check out my posts on How to Create a Toddler Friendly Home and How to Encourage Independent Play)

Physical Boundaries: Unwanted Physical Contact Vs Absent Physical Affection

At the extreme end of the spectrum, a lack of respect for physical boundaries includes any form of physical or sexual abuse. And at the opposite end, may include physical neglect. 

While many parents fall nowhere near either end of this spectrum, it is still useful to see what kinds of patterns around physical boundaries exist within your own family. So to do this, I ask myself the following;

  • How did my parents show me affection physically?
  • How do I relate with my child physically? (With babies and young toddlers, we obviously do not ask their permission to pick them up or hold them in most cases. But, as they get older, they are able to tell us when they want or do not want physical contact)
  • Do I tell my child he has to hug family and friends? Do I demand he gives me hugs and kisses?
  • How can I help my child understand that he is the owner of his body?
  • How can I teach my child about consent and cultural sensitivity when it comes to physical contact with others?
As my son continues to grow, I hope I instill in him some sensitivity around this issue of physical boundaries. And while it may sound strange to ask consent to give your child a kiss, I think it is a good practice to create some dialogue around physical affection. This helps my child know that he is in charge of his body. And also helps him understand that different people have different boundaries in this department.

Emotional Boundaries: Emotional Reactivity Vs Emotional Regulation

Parents have a lot of power to influence their children’s emotional development. For example, children who grow up routinely witnessing outbursts and emotional chaos in their homes, may grow up to model those same behaviors for their children. Or alternatively, grow up feeling that they have to suppress their emotions to avoid the kind of conflict and chaos they experienced growing up. 

So I ask myself the following questions;

  • How did my parents express and model emotional behavior? 
  • How do I express (or not express) emotions in front of my child?
  • How do I respond to my child in moments of frustration?
  • How do I respond to my child’s expressed emotions?

(For more on the topic of emotional regulation and parenting, you can check out my post on Helping Toddlers Deal with Big Feelings)

Examining our Family Patterns as Parents
For some people, family matters are the source of their deepest wounds. For others, family matters are the source of their greatest joys. And for many, it can be both. Wherever we fall on this spectrum, I like to think that we can intentionally foster healthy family patterns to pass down to our children. While this is supremely hard work as a parent, it is also the greatest privilege. 
 
I would love to hear your thoughts on family patterns and parenting approaches. Say hi in the comments! 
Be well ♡
Pandemic Parenting Fatigue & The Miracle Question

Pandemic Parenting Fatigue & The Miracle Question

Last week, I took my very first COVID-19 test. Nearly 2 years into the pandemic, and I was certain the coronavirus had finally come for me and my family. And as I was waiting to get my results, I found a strange little part of 

Iron Rich Foods for Toddlers

Iron Rich Foods for Toddlers

According to the CDC, sufficient iron intake is important for children’s neurological development and hemoglobin production (hemoglobin delivers oxygen throughout the body). And for toddlers, the Mayo Clinic states that children aged 1-3 years old need 7 mg of iron daily.  Ever since learning about the importance of iron for child 

Easy Toddler Breakfast Banana Chia Seed Pudding

Easy Toddler Breakfast Banana Chia Seed Pudding

I love easy toddler breakfast recipes that are simple to prep and nutritious. And this banana chia seed pudding recipe is just that. Plus, I like to eat it too!

There are a lot of chia seed pudding recipes out there, but I created this one after some experimenting and doing a little research on chia seed serving sizes and milk substitutes. Please note that I am not a nutritionist or medical professional, but am sharing what I believe is appropriate for my toddler. 

This banana chia seed pudding recipe has 3 ingredients – banana, oat milk (or milk of your choice) and chia seeds. It requires no cooking or baking. Just mix the ingredients together and let it sit in the fridge overnight!

When it’s all ready, I dole out the pudding into 4 small containers to keep in the fridge so that they are ready to grab for an easy toddler breakfast on the go or snack. My toddler will gobble one of these up within minutes! 

4 small banana chia seed pudding cups

Banana Chia Seed Pudding Recipe for an Easy Toddler Breakfast

Ingredients (4 Servings)


Directions

  • Mash the banana up and mix the milk and chia seeds in with it. Let the mixture sit in the fridge for at least 6 hours (stir it up after an hour or so to make sure all the seeds get hydrated). Serve as is or with toppings of your choice!

Do let the seeds soak for at least 6 hours. According to WebMd, chia seeds can soak up to 27 times their weight in water! So if consumed dry, they could potentially create an internal blockage.

Banana Chia Seed Pudding Ingredient Notes

Bananas

Bananas are great natural sweeteners! So a perfect choice for this healthy pudding. Plus they have lots of nutritional benefits and most toddlers love them!

bunch of bananas

Verywell Family lists the following nutritional facts for a banana; fiber (3 grams), protein (1 gram), vitamin B6 (.4 mg), Vitamin C (10 mg), Potassium (422 mg) and Magnesium (32 mg).   

For another banana based easy toddler breakfast, you can check out my post on Banana Veggie Pancakes.

Milk

Any type of milk will do for this chia seed pudding recipe. I prefer to use oat milk though, because it gives another layer of sweetness to the pudding.

oats and oat milk

I have also tried making this banana chia seed pudding with whole milk and canned full fat coconut milk. I’m sure soy and almond milks would work as well!

I am careful about serving sizes if using full fat coconut milk, which I have seen a number of chia pudding recipes call for online. While it makes the pudding delicious, creamy and coconutty, it’s quite high in saturated fat. For example, the 13.5 oz can I have in my pantry has 65 grams of saturated fat.

Earth’s Best Organic states that toddlers should have no more than 10 grams of saturated fat in a daily 1,000 calorie diet. (Most toddlers need about 1,000-1,400 daily calories depending on age and size, according to WebMd). 

Chia Seeds

Hydrated chia seeds are what give this pudding its texture. And in addition to that important function, chia seeds have many health benefits!
 
chia seeds
 
Serving Size – The Chia Co recommends toddlers aged 1-5 years old have 2 tsp of chia seeds daily. Healthy Little Foodies however, recommends starting with a 1/2 teaspoon a day to see how well a child tolerates the seeds. Chia seeds are high in fiber and as we all know, too much of a good thing usually never ends well. In this case, the result could be tummy aches, diarrhea, constipation, gas and bloating. Since my toddler seems to tolerate chia seeds well, I give him 1 serving of this pudding. The recipe above makes 4 servings, with each single serving having about 2 teaspoons of chia seeds.
 

Allergy Awareness – Aside from making sure chia seeds have been sufficiently soaked in a liquid before consuming them as noted earlier (to prevent any blockages), Healthline warns of the possibility of chia seed allergies. Superfoodly states that chia seeds have similar properties to sesame seeds, which apparently are among the top 9 allergens.

Health Benefits – WebMD explains that the antioxidants in chia seeds can help keep cells healthy, reduce inflammation and help with heart health. Additionally, the high fiber content can help manage blood sugar levels, and the magnesium and phosphorus nutrients support bone health. 

Chia seeds are also a good source of iron. You can check out my post on Iron Rich Foods for Toddlers to learn more about the importance of iron for growing kids.  

Constipation Relief – An additional benefit of chia seeds is their ability to help relieve constipation. Healthline states, “Chia seeds are one of the most fiber-dense foods available”, and that the gel from chia seeds hydrated with liquid helps bulk up stools and allows them to pass along easier. 

This is of particular interest to me, because my toddler has been taking a daily teaspoon of Miralax as prescribed by his pediatrician for a year now. Despite having a diet rich in fruits and veggies, we still have to rely on the Miralax to keep him regular. 

While the consensus among medical professionals is that Miralax is safe for kids (you can check out my post Is Miralax Safe for Toddlers), I would still like to eventually get away from those daily doses.

Update – Since regularly giving my 2 year old this chia seed pudding, we have cut his Miralax dosage in half, and even skip some days and he is doing great!

I’d love to know if you tried this recipe or a variation and how you liked it. Say hi and let me know in a comment!

small cup of banana chia seed pudding with raspberry and avocado toppings

Minimalist Practices to Help Prevent Parent Burnout

Minimalist Practices to Help Prevent Parent Burnout

‘Parent exhaustion’ is the particular flavor of overwhelm and depletion that comes from meeting the demands of a small child day in and day out (and night in and night out). And when the exhaustion becomes chronic, it leads to parent burnout. WebMD aptly describes parent