Thursday, August 25, 2016

Fostering Independant Play


I've always felt like independent play for kids is really important. From the time our son was a newborn, we have been working toward this goal of him playing independently, and not needing adult entertainment.

I often tell people that my 19 month old plays by himself, in his room with the door closed, for over an hour. They are shocked! I thought I'd detail the ways we built up to this in hopes that it is helpful to others.

INFANT (3-12months) 
The above ages are approximate, but when Tanner was a baby, I started very small with independent play. I would put him in his crib with the lights on and music playing. And surround with toys and books. I would get excited and upbeat and say "yay! it's time to play in your crib!"

I would explain to him that he was going to play in his crib for a few minutes while mommy took a shower. Many times, he would cry, but I would walk out waving and happy.

To begin with, while he was learning (and crying), my shower would last literally 5 minutes. Then I would go in and get him, still excited.
"Yay! Good job playing in your crib!"
"Mommy took a shower and now I'm back to get you!"

Each day, he cried less and less, and I was able to leave him for longer and longer. The max was usually about 30 minutes of quiet, happy playing while I showered and got dressed.

Additionally, when he woke from his naps each day, I didn't run upstairs and get him the second he opened his eyes. I'd let him roll around and play with his stuffed animals for about 15minutes. This was more reinforcement that his crib was fun, and not only for sleeping.

We continued this routine most days until he was about 15 months old and transitioned to 1 nap.

TODDLER
I believe Tanner was 15 months old when he transitioned to 1 nap per day.
I decided that we still both needed the break that was the morning nap. So I still put him in his crib for quiet time, at the time he would normally fall asleep.
(sometimes he would fall asleep, and I would have to go up and get him so his afternoon nap wasn't ruined).

We went through the same routine - books, toys, etc. And lots of happy faces. "It's quiet time! Yay! Have fun! Mommy will be back in a little bit!"

He would stay for about 30 minutes, like before, but eventually, he got bored in his crib. And he started regressing - where he wouldn't stay up there at all!

I thought ... well, we both need quiet time. He gets bored and needs a change of scenery. And I need a break. So, getting rid of quiet time is not an option. Let's find a new solution.

I read online a little, and decided that we would try quiet time in his room. I bought special "quiet time only" toys. So he would be excited about getting them out each time he went in his room.

I baby proofed his room REALLY well.  We also have a video monitor - so I can see him at all times.

This was definitely a transition for both of us. The first time, he stood by the door and only lasted about 10 minutes. And there was crying. I don't love letting my child cry, but I also think fostering independence, space, and a separation between mom and baby is important.

I've decided that my world does not revolve around my child. He is a huge part of it, and my favorite thing in the entire world is being his mom. But, I can't be attached to him 24/7. We have a similar philosophy with sleep.

The transition really only took 2 or 3 days of consistency! The first day, he cried on and off for 10 minutes. The second day, he cried for a few minutes, then played for a while. And probably by day 3 or 4, he whined for a minute while I walked out, and then turned around and started playing!

I always want to be the one that decides when quiet time starts and stops. So, after a little bit of time, I went in while he was still HAPPY. I didn't want to wait until he started crying and telling me he was done. Because I didn't want him to think HE was deciding to come out of his room.

I extended quiet time in his room a little at a time each day... and now, he stays in there happily playing for over an hour!!

Sometimes he even points to the door and waves me out of the room. He likes the time to himself to do whatever he wants.

MORE TIPS FOR INDEPENDENT PLAY
When Tanner was about 12months old, he started getting really clingy to me. Like, I couldn't even sit on the couch with my coffee without him whining / crying. I continued to stay very consistent with my answer to that:

"Mommy is sitting on the couch right now. I'm not going anywhere, and I can see you playing. I won't be getting on the floor with you right now. Why don't you go find your trains?"

This is not to say that I NEVER get on the floor and play with him. But, again, I don't see myself as his constant entertainment. I want him to learn how to entertain himself.

If he stood by my legs continuing to whine, I didn't give in. I just kept redirecting and reminding him of some fun toys to go find.

It didn't take long for that to sink in. Now, I can read, clean, whatever, and he plays by himself. And many times I CHOOSE to throw a ball back and forth or build a train track. But I'm not forced to because of whining.


Another time I tend to get whining about wanting to get picked up is while I make dinner. When he was little, I would put him in the ergo. But now that he is bigger, he can very much understand that I'm busy and can't pick him up. Also, he doesn't want to be confined to the Ergo anymore. He gets a few options at dinner time:

1. You can stand on the chair next to the counter and help me.
2. You can stand right next to me / hold my hand (while I get out ingredients, stir the dinner on the stove, etc.)
3. You can get some toys and play next to me.

He usually chooses to hold my hand and then gets bored in a few minutes and goes and finds his toys.
Again, this took consistency. And some evenings of him allowing him to stand at my feet and cry for a few minutes. But any time that crying during a transition is involved, it usually only takes a day or two, and then the behavior that you're trying to train is born!


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

No Poo Update

I started No Poo in October 2013. Here we are 2+ years later and I still love it!
Since I started I had a baby! He was born January 2015. My hair has changed since my pregnancy. During my second trimester, my hair was super dry and wouldn't curl at. all. I started to think maybe not shampooing my hair was starting to fail. Luckily, that wasn't the case. Third trimester, and then after delivery, my hair started to get back to it's new normal.

My hair still doesn't curl like it used to. But it is still very healthy and has grown quite a bit longer.
It has less volume. I'm hoping that returns as I wean my son and it grows back. I did lose some hair about 5 months postpartum, but it didn't come out in clumps like some of my friends described their hair did. I don't know if that's just me, or if it has something to do with my hair care routine.

I wear my hair straight a lot more. One because it doesn't curl like it used to, and two because it's easier to care for. I wash it on day one and let it air dry. Day two I straighten it, and then for the rest of the week, I keep it dry in a shower cap and each morning brush it out, and touch it up with a straightener as needed.

I've also discovered the "Wet Brush". I have the wet brush in the shower. It's magic in getting out tangles. One of my complaints with no poo is that I don't use conditioner, so my long hair gets really tangly. The wet brush glides through and gently gets out tangles.

I use the the "Wet Shine Brush" on my dry hair. It has boar bristles in it, as well as detangling bristles. The best of both worlds! I highly recommend both brushes. I purchased them on Amazon.

More info here: https://www.thewetbrush.com/?gclid=CjwKEAiA2ve0BRDCgqDtmYXlyjkSJACEPmdwlKIPpNCvPkI3n9p_IM5HuMRKiZ0nMMclJN8SSWJpERoCX5Hw_wcB

So, that's about it! Still love not using shampoo, and I don't think I'd ever go back!!

See original post with FAQ and How Tos here: http://kaseyajohnson.blogspot.com/2014/01/i-dont-shampoo-my-hair-no-poo.html?showComment=1453219094462#c2130928115254652425














Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

How we survived the newborn months



I read quite a few books while I was pregnant. But nothing really prepares you completely. Your intuition and "gut" actually do take you a long way. I thought that I would never know what to do and that I would need a book to guide me every step. But, it's surprising how quickly you learn your baby and what works for them.

However, there were a few things that I read and revisited after he was born that really were helpful. As well as some things I did while I was pregnant that I'm glad I did.

1. The Happiest Baby on the Block
I read the book, but I think you can get the idea from their DVD (library) or videos on youtube.
Newborns don't really have a lot of self soothing mechanisms. They are used to constant food, holding, and movement. The 5s outlined in the book worked REALLY well for us.

There were times that Tanner wasn't hungry... he just needed to be soothed. Holding him on his side, bouncing him, giving him his pacifier, and shooshing him instantly calmed him down.

2. Baby Wise
The first couple weeks is about survival - just eat, sleep, and rest. You are recovering and you're both learning how to breastfeed. But after about 2 weeks, we started using the babywise principle of "Eat - Wake - Sleep".

The idea is that you are not nursing or rocking your baby to sleep. You feed them, wake them up if they fall asleep and let them "play" (which for a newborn is only like 15 minutes), and then put them down for nap/bed when they are awake but tired.

We also let Tanner fuss if he needed to. "Cry it out" is very controversial. For us, it was very gentle. He would fuss a little for a few minutes, and fall asleep. We would often pick him up, give him his pacifier, and settle him again if needed. I believe because we started this early, we never had to go through the traumatic screaming and crying...

The biggest thing I learned from baby wise was that there are optimal wake times. You want to watch for sleepy cues like fussing, rubbing eyes, and yawning. Then your baby is ready to go down for nap. If you wait too long, baby will become overtired and have an even harder time falling asleep.

Tanner is a really happy, content baby, and I think he is a "good" sleeper. But I do believe that the babywise rhythm has helped him immensely. He slept 6 hour stretches at 6 weeks, and 8 hour stretches at 8 weeks. He was sleeping 12 hours by about 4 months old.

There is a lot to learn in the baby wise book. We took a loose interpretation of it. If Tanner was hungry, I fed him. We don't have a rigid, strict schedule. But following a routine did wonders for us.

Also, don't let your newborn sleep more than 3 hours at a time during the day. This will help them to learn day time vs. night time.

3. "Sleep when the baby sleeps"
This phrase has always bothered me. Newborns sleep a lot during the day. So I always felt like I should be sleeping constantly like my baby was.

I decided instead of "sleeping when the baby sleeps", I would take 1 nap a day. Usually in the afternoon. This made me feel like I wasn't "wasting" away the day. And I felt well rested. Especially for the dinner / bedtime hours.

4. Make freezer meals
The last couple months of my pregnancy, I made freezer meals. I would choose 1 or 2 dinners / week to double. This way, I was already cooking - I just made more of it. Then I froze the extras. I made:

- Soups & Stews
- Breakfast Burritos
- Energy Bites
- Fajita Filling
- Stuffed Peppers
- Banana Bread Muffins

I also stocked up on non-perishables like granola bars, spaghetti, and sauce. And frozen meatballs.

Between the freezer meals, friends & family, and occasional take out, I didn't cook a meal from scratch for 10 weeks.

5. Enlist Help
My mom came almost daily for the first month or so. She would visit for half hour to an hour and help me with what I needed. She would hold the baby while I showered, vacuum the floor, make me lunch, scoop the litter box, throw in a load of laundry, load the dishwasher.... little chores around the house that made me feel like dirt wasn't piling up.

My husband also made dinner most nights - especially in the early weeks. He did cleaning as well.
Pick a few things that are important to you, and that will make you feel like you can rest. And then ask for help. Usually there is an army of people waiting to do something for you.

6. Wonder Weeks
There is a book that describes developmental milestones that all babies go through - generally at about the same age. I didn't read the book - the app tells you about what you need to know.
Usually when your baby is trying to learn something new - like rolling over, or grabbing toys - they get fussy and needy. This has happened with Tanner at each of his "leaps". We have found that the fussy periods are easier to handle if we know they are coming, and if we know the reason behind them.

7. Follow Your Instincts
I love to read blogs and forums about babies and parenting. Sometimes I find good tips, and sometimes I drive myself crazy. I see what other babies are doing, and I want to be there too.

An example is when Tanner was about 4 weeks old, he was still napping in his swing. I read that a swing could be a sleep prop and that you should have your baby nap in their crib ASAP.
I decided to cold turkey the swing, and put him in his crib for every nap all at once. This was a miserable experience for me and Tanner. I decided to just go back to the swing, and take things slower. He now sleeps in his crib perfectly at every nap and at night time.

I have to remind myself that he will keep going through seasons and phases. He doesn't have to be just like the baby I read on a blog. If what I am doing is working for us - keep doing it. Until it doesn't work, and then gradually change to something else.

8. Clean Your House
I "deep cleaned" my house a few times in the last couple months of pregnancy. I wanted to come home from the hospital with clean bathrooms, fresh bedding, and no dust.



Some of the best advice I have received is this: "The newborn phase isn't real life." 
And it's so true. I thought I would never eat a meal with two hands again, or drink a hot cup of coffee, or feel like I wasn't about to fall over from being tired.

Your baby will sleep through the night. Your body will heal. And you will feel like yourself again.
Good luck, momma! Comment with tips that you have for the first months with baby :)

Another Resource: Lucie's List

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

7 Tips for Pumping & Going Back to Work



As my maternity leave was coming to a close, I started thinking about how I would organize all of my baby and pumping STUFF. I work part time, and only go in to the office twice a week, so I had a few different scenarios playing out in my head ---

Daily: Running errands with baby (baby & personal stuff)
Once a week: At work without baby  (work, pumping, & personal stuff)
Once a week: At work with baby (baby, work, & personal stuff)
Rare: Out without baby and not needing to pump (personal stuff)

Since all of these scenarios happen every week, I began to feel overwhelmed with the amount of stuff I would be carrying and switching from bag to bag.

I thought for a while on how to make it work, and finally came up with a system that has been working REALLY well for me.


1. Invest in 3 bags that you love
The first bag should be your regular purse for times when baby is not with you.






The second should be your daily, manageable-sized diaper bag.




The third should be a big bag that can fit everything but the kitchen sink. This is for work.
I purchased this weekender bag from Target.


2. Make personal items easy to transfer. 
The one common denominator that I would need for every situation is my personal items - wallet, phone, keys, chapstick, hairbrush, mirror, etc.
All the small items that are a pain to dig around for and transfer to another bag.
I purchased a $3 burlap tote in the Target dollar section. It has flimsy sides, so it fits in to my smaller purse, as well as my big bags. When I'm going from bag to bag, I just grab this rather than trying to find all my small stuff.
The key here is to make sure your personal items always go back in this bag.





3. The bag that you take for work should fit EVERYTHING you need.
The hardest part about having lots of stuff is having to juggle and carry it all in. Your large bag should fit your pumping gear, lunch, work folders, laptop, personal items, etc.
This way you are carrying in and wrangling 1 bag, rather than 4+.


4. Put your pump parts in a tupperware
As you pump throughout the day, put the parts back in the tupperware, and refrigerate. No need to wash after each pumping session.
When you get home at the end of the day, wash right in the same tupperware, or throw in the dishwasher. I don't sanitize my pump parts after every single use... I don't have scientific evidence or anything that this is a good idea, but I feel like if I don't sanitize my own dishes then I think the pump parts will be safe as well.

5. Create a packing list
Each night before work, I pack what I need for the next day. I have a packing list on my phone so that I can just go through checking off items. This saves me time and sanity so that I'm not thinking about what I need, and I don't risk forgetting things.
I use Wunderlist, but you can use whatever list making organization you already like.
The key is to set something up so that you don't have to think about what you need.
What's nice about Wunderlist is that after I check off an item, I can uncheck it for the next week... and then check off again. I don't have to recreate the list each time.

The list I need for when I work on Wednesdays, is different for the list I need when I go to work on Fridays (since baby comes with me on Fridays). So I have two different lists set up in Wunderlist.



6. Keep the cables hooked up to your pump
This seems really, really small, but for some reason it helps things go faster. I don't have to untangle or hook anything up. It's all right there.


7. Buy a pumping bra
I purchased this one and really love it. It was cheaper than other one's I've seen, and it doesn't require that I take off the undergarments I'm already wearing.
And a pumping bra makes it so you can double pump, and massage at the same time... getting more milk faster.

I hope this is helpful!!






Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Life & Work Update

It's already almost the end of March, and I'm sitting here drinking a cup of decaf coffee (that may or may not have a little kahula in it). The little is down for a nap, and I'm thinking about the end of my maternity leave. Tanner will be 12 weeks old on Saturday, and I'm finding that life is starting to return to normal. Well, a new normal.












Pregnancy and labor does a number on you - let me tell ya. I'm recovering well and almost back to feeling like my old self. Tanner is the sweetest little boy. He eats well, naps well, and sleeps through the night! He is a little ball of sideways grins and giggles.


Productivity and routine look different with a baby in the house. Chores and work all happen in short spurts. I can only run one, maybe two errands at a time. For someone that likes to make a long to-do list and plow through it all without stopping - this is an adjustment. But, mostly, I like it. My husband has always been an advocate for helping me to slooow down. Tanner is continuing to show me priorities, and what really matters. I love being his mom and I'm fitting in to this new role better than I imagined.





As for work - well, it's still there! I go back to my part-time job at Grace Road Church next week. I'll work in the office 2 days a week. One day my mom will watch Tanner, and the other day I'll bring him with me. Here's his simple little nursery! As well as a space for me to pump when he is not with me.


As for kj Design - it will also still be churning, but I'm going to keep it smaller for a while. I won't be advertising at Bridal Shows. However, I will be keeping on clients, as well as taking jobs that come in through word of mouth - depending on the job and timing.

Thank you so much to the brides that booked with me while I was pregnant. And for your patience, and flexibility in deadlines. Being able to adjust my schedule and build in months for maternity was amazing, and you helped to make that possible!

My facebook page may be a little quiet, but please don't hesitate to contact me.
If you'd like to follow along with Tanner and what life looks like now, find me on instagram: @kaseyAjohnson


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

And the winner is....

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Kendra Morrissey!!

Congratulations! You've won (50) Thank You Note Postcards. These will be customized to match your colors and information. Space for one photo - wedding, engagement, candid - whatever you'd like. Email me at kasey@kaseyAjohnson.com to claim your prize.

Printed on 100lb. Gloss Paper - full color. 


Thank you to everyone that entered! Check back next month for another giveaway!