Stress On Your Marriage from the Blessed Event?

Posted October 26, 2009

Sam and Shelia, both age 30, waited with baited breath for their first baby to be born.  It would be a moment like no other. Nine months of preparation, a top-notch midwife, breathing exercizes and crib sheets to match the curtains! What could go wrong?  And nothing did.  The baby was healthy, grandma came to help and the gifts rolled in. 

By week 4, however, the shine wore off as grandma left and Sam went back to work.  Shelia lost sleep, the baby cried a lot, and when Sam came in the door each night, all she wanted was to hand over the baby and take a bath or a nap.  Initially Sam was OK with that but he noticed that their relationship was slowly changing.  All their conversation was about the baby, the # of wet diapers, sketchy naps and soon the insides and outsides of this baby dominated their relationship.  Sam wanted to take Sheila out for a break but the baby wouldn't take a bottle and grandma was gone.  Sheila often went to bed by 8:30 PM leaving Sam to spend the evening cleaning up.  How could one baby create such chaos?  And what was going wrong with their dream?

It turns out that the birth of the first baby is one of life's great stressors for couples.  The hype, of course, is just the opposite.  So this couple, going through the normal woes of this life-changing event, thought there was something wrong with them.  They began to blame each other and things got worse. 

Luckily for them, help was not far away.  A very good friend told them about The Relationship Resource Ltd.  It seemed odd to them that they might need outside help but they knew they weren't having fun and their parenting expectations were not being met. Their relationship was unravelling -- it was time to seek help.

If any of this sound familiar to you I recommend you take a look at this website.  Amy is a remarkable woman and a highly recommended family therapist. 

Oh, and if your baby isn't born yet, Amy offers prenatal advice for parents-to-be. This may be one of the most important prenatal investments you make.

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Filed under: News from Kitty


5 Tips for Toilet Learning

Posted October 16, 2009

Tip #1 Expect your child to be able to use the potty reliably (independently) by age 3.5 years.  Research shows this age is the new "normal."

Tip #2 Be respectful of the fact that this is your child's body (not yours) and kids this age need time to become comfortable with new skills and expectations.

Tip #3 Remember how young children learn best: by watching you, not by being taught or "trained."

Tip #4 Resist reading parenting books on this subject - each one gives different advice.  Instead, buy a few potty books for your child and read them frequently (with no strings attached!)

Tip #5 Be aware that most children show a spike of temporary interest around 19-21 months - which will quickly be replaced by other interests and should not be taken as a sign of "readiness."

To learn more join me for  Toilet Learning the Easy Way. Tuesday,  January 26, 7-9 PM

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Filed under: Toilet Learning

Childcare Decisions are Difficult

Posted October 7, 2009

Dear Kitty,

  My husband and I are struggling to make a childcare decision for our 14 month old daughter.  Our situation is different from some because I will be working full time and my husband can work from home.  Based on what friends are doing and what I've been able to read, however, we aren't sure if this is what is best for our baby or not.  Some people say that a daycare centre is the best choice because kids will learn socialization, have so much to play with and be well stimulated to learn.  Other friends say their child gets sick too often in a centre so they're using a dayhome where there are about 4 other kids plus theirs.  My sister has a nanny who comes to her house, bringing her own baby along.  Then we have the option of our daughter staying home with dad, but we worry she may get bored without kids around and what if he can't get any work done?  Please tell me which of these options you recommend. We are exhausted trying to sort this out! PQ

Dear PQ,

I know many parents feel stress when making work decisions and choosing childcare arrangements.  I believe the stress is primarily due to the abundance of differing opinions on this topic, coupled with  the paucity of clear research.  Based on having watched this struggle evolve over the past 25 years, I will list my preferences in descending order (1st choice first) and mention some pros and cons of each.  Keep in mind that childcare choices is a "hot button" topic, much like choices women make to work/not work outside the home or breastfeed/bottle feed, etc. Many people may disagree with me or feel uncomfortable with my recommendations - so let's get a conversation going.

1. Full-time parental care (complimented by babysitting/childcare 2x/week (4 hours+-) plus babysitting for a date night 1x week)

Pros: children under 3 thrive in the care of family members -including grandparents - because these individuals are most likely to be "tuned in" to child's interests, needs, victories and sources of curiosity. Non-family care reduces this liklihood to a degree.

Cons: lower income, lack of support/appreciation for at-home parenting, lonliness, difficulty finding part-time babysitting to provide important breaks, complications of working at home.

2. Twenty hours per week parental care (complimented by 20 or so hours per week of basically safe, hired childcare (grandparent,babysitter,nanny,dayhome,centre)

Pros: research in 1980's by Dr. Jay Belsky and others proposed 20 hours per week as the approximate, minimum amount parental care required to maintain the parent as the primary influence on the child's self-image, ability to form relationships, response to discipline, value system, curiosity and perspective on the world.  Naturally statements like this by a highly respected researcher doing a longtitudinal study on the effects of early daycare insensed the daycare advocates of that time, of which there were many.

Cons: none

4. Full-time nanny care in the child's home, with at least one parent keeping work hours as short as possible (nanny lives out to avoid more "cons")

Pros: child does not have to be awakened, dressed, hurried to leave home.  Sleep habits remain consistent, child's schedule can be followed, care can be tailored to some degree.

Cons: much depends on nanny's willingness to follow parent's lead. The longer the hours the more important are nanny's personality, patience, interest, style

5. Full-time substitute care taking place away from child's home

  • a registered, approved dayhome with regulations restricting the number of children allowed to be in the care of one person
  • an informal dayhome provider whose childcare style you really like and who has a small number of children (3-4 including your child and her own)
  • a non-profit daycare centre such as found in your workplace, where parents can drop in, staff is well paid with good benefits
  • a for-profit daycare centre where you will still drop in unexpectedly and inquire about staff's pay, benefits and length of service, etc.

For children under 3 (and to a degree for those over 3) full days in the constant company of other children will be tiring and may be overstimulating. Children under age 3 do not benefit yet from the companionship of other children, but experience tells us that a most children will learn to cope if placed in this type of care. Group care situations are greatly enhanced if there is at least one adult consistently present with whom a young child can build a successful relationship.  Consistently present requires that she not be responsible for too many children at one time, have good support and good wages.

So, PQ, you can see I think the very best choice will include your husband working at home and I can help him design a daily schedule to include independent playtimes that will afford him time for his work.  We could easily set up a Telephone Counseling Appointment to cover this topic.

As far as your fear of boredom, all children need to have some bored times when no adult entertainment is available -- this is when their resourcefulness kicks in.

Thanks for writing,






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Filed under: Daily Routines, Play

the Real Experiences Kids Need

Posted October 31, 2009

One hundred and ten British teachers, doctors and authors wrote an open letter to the Telegraph, warning that to develop well, children still need what they always needed: “real food, real play, first-hand experience of the world they live in and regular interaction with the real-life, significant adults in their lives.”

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