Archives

A Single Parent’s Guide: From Cradle to College

A Single Parent’s Guide: From Cradle to College

 A Guest Post By Daniel Sherwin

Parenting is never easy. And when you’re going it solo, you have one less set of hands to help out. But, with a few preemptive measures, you can make your single-parent home a safe haven for you and your kids no matter their ages.

 

Infant

The first two years of your child’s life has her at her most vulnerable. From illness to the inability to explain aches and pains, your baby is 100% reliant on you. Start by giving her a safe place to sleep. A current model crib with a firm mattress and fitted sheets is best. Avoid the temptation to wrap your baby in heavy blankets and instead opt for warm, well-fitted pajamas. Do not place a pillow in your child’s crib and invest in a baby monitor, which will let you complete chores around the house while keeping a watchful eye on your sleeping baby.

 

Redfin offers this advice regarding toxins, which are inviting to a curious crawler, especially when at eye level, “Chemicals and poisonous or toxic substances, such as toilet bowl and window cleaners, oven cleaners, bleach, paint thinner, dish soap, etc., should be kept in a locked cabinet, in a cabinet that is secured with a child-proof safety latch, or in a location that is elevated.”

 

Toddler

As your little one graduates from crawling to walking, he has a whole new world of ways to get himself in trouble. Since you can’t have your eyes on your child 100% of the time, you can prevent falls by using child-proof gates on stairways and keeping climbable furniture away from the kitchen, where a hungry toddler might be tempted to reach for the cookie jar. HealthyChildren.org also stresses keeping children out of the kitchen while you’re cooking and never leaving him unattended near an open source of water – no matter how small.

 

Car safety should also be a priority in the toddler years. And while you won’t likely have another adult to help calm crying child, it’s best to keep him rear-facing until at least his third birthday. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers more information on car seats and booster seats.

 

Young children

At this stage, your child is really gaining a sense of identity and independence, which can lull you into a false sense of security where their safety is concerned. Kids from preschool age to late elementary should never be left home alone — even for just a few moments. Talk to your child’s school about before and after care and summer day-camp programs.

 

Teach your children about fire safety, and make an escape plan in case of emergency. If your child is active make sure he has a properly-fitted helmet for biking, skating, or skateboarding. Make sure he or she understands how to react to strangers and which people are safe should they become separated from you. Today’s segment about “Tricky People” is a great 5-minute read that could change the way you, and your kids, think about stranger danger.

 

Tween/teen

Although they are growing ever more independent by the day, the 9-and-up crowd still need you to look out for their health and well-being. Today, one of the biggest issues facing adolescents is something we use every day and has changed the world for the better: the internet. This is the perfect time to stress online safety. Never allow your children to text, chat, befriend, or instant message someone they do not know in “real” life. This privacy and internet safety Q&A by Common Sense Media is a great place to start.

 

This is also an age where children learn to drive. Make sure they have plenty of practice, understand seatbelt laws, and never drive when tired. Also discuss with your child to dangers of peer pressure, sexual activity, and drugs and alcohol.

 

As a single parent, you pull double duty 24/7. However, you can still keep your children safe if you make safety your #1 priority. For more information on parenting from pregnancy through young adulthood, visit the Centers for Disease Control online at CDC.Gov.

Roxoflove_ Movement

Good Morning everyone, or when ever you are reading this….

I met a beautiful woman on Instagram, Shaila, she followed me on the platform and I, as I always do, creeped her profile and saw the message she was putting out there, and I loved it! I have never had to deal with the loss of a still birth, and I can only imagine the grief that people like her go through that is behind closed doors. So I reached out to her and asked her if she was willing to share her story and what it is she doing with Roxoflove_ and she said yes. I think that this is something sweet and Beautiful and story that is worth being shared, something positive to be born from grief and loss, to help you find the power to keep going, not because you have to but because you want to and use it all in a way that helps others.

So in her own words, this is what she has to say about Rocoflove_

 

When you are pregnant you are told to go to the doctors, have a health check with a midwife, take a variety of birthing and parent to be classes but you are not told how to deal with grief; the grief that comes from a stillbirth.

 

Stillbirths are defined as ‘the birth of an infant that has died after completing 24 weeks of pregnancy’. Unfortunately for me, my little boy had slipped away at 37 weeks + 5 days. The statistics for stillbirths vary between 1 in 4, 15 a day and 1 in 16. It is very common for couples to suffer from stillbirths yet it is not talked about openly amongst people. Numerous charities have been set up but there is still an air of taboo around the subject, is it because people don’t want to discuss stillbirths or maybe they just do not know what to say. Either way, I am here to share my view tell you the story of my journey to a world of changed expectations.

 

I had a textbook pregnancy. Very little sickness, nausea and practically no health complications. I had reached 37 weeks, set up an area for baby to sleep, packed and repacked the maternity bag and was awaiting an appointment to discuss my labour plan. I went to sleep on the 19th of October at 11pm that night with a kick to my right side from my son only to wake up at 4:14 with no further movement. I went to the bathroom, there was no pain or bleeding, just a stillness in my womb. I danced about, trying to get my baby going, drank a cold glass of milk and played some music. Still nothing. Two hours later alarm bells began to ring. When my husband woke up he told me to go to the hospital just to check if anything was wrong. I sent my husband into work and off I drove, alone, to the hospital. When I got there they set me up in a room, did the routine samples and began to listen to a heartbeat. It was twenty minutes later that I was surrounded by two doctors and five midwives, with the alarm ringing above the hospital bed I was told “I am so sorry but there is no heartbeat”. You can only imagine the pain, sorrow, grief and mania that came after that. Me and my husband had heard the worst news possible.

I was given a pill to induce labour and sent home that day in the hope that my body would prepare for labour. I returned two days later into a special suite for parents who had been in my situation to prepare to deliver my first, and only, child. It took a further two days of medication before my body finally went into labour. I remember having contractions for the whole day on 23rd of October. Trying to make the best out of a bad situation, me and my husband were watching TV, listening to the radio, enjoying the gas and air and simply doing anything to take our minds off the pain to come.


I finally delivered my baby boy at 8:24 on Tuesday 24th of October 2017. I named him Emre Elahi and was stunned by his appearance. I have a small frame and had a small, neat bump throughout my pregnancy yet this long, beautiful baby boy came out. My first reaction was “whoah”. The hospital were then amazing at providing ways for us to create memories in those few precious hours we had with our son. We took handprints, footprints, a lock of hair and pictures to cherish him by, Immediate family came to visit and meet Emre. Tragically, Emre was the first grandchild from both mine and my husband’s side of the family. He was also buried on the day of my one year wedding anniversary.

Some things in life are not scripted. I find it amazing how Emre was such a huge part of the first year of our marriage and how burying him on our anniversary completed this chapter of our lives. It was an immense struggle to deal with my grief but burying Emre on our anniversary provided some hope that I would look back at him as a positive reminder of the time we had with him.

It was this hope that propelled me to find positivity in this difficult situation. I experienced a storm of emotions in the weeks after Emre’s passing. My expectations had shifted and instead of having a baby all I had was endless leaflets of support groups under my nose. I did not want to attend a support group. I was not strong enough to leave the house and share my grief with people. Instead, I wanted to find positivity, hope and happiness. Me and my husband were so lucky to have been supported by a strong network of people who were empathetic of our situation and wanted to help restore our smiles. We received a Happy Hamper to help us smile when we were down and various tokens and reminders of our son.


I found Art Therapy extremely helpful so I began to draw on pebbles and record messages of positivity on the back. It was from this I was inspired to begin my campaign roxoflove_ on Instagram. If being positive helped me and my husband then why should I not share it with others? We have been leaving pebbles around our home city to help spread messages of positivity. The campaign itself provides messages of hope and positivity for people who are suffering from grief or experiencing grief. This is because I was a statistic and there will be more women out there who have to face the pain I did. I simply want to show that they can get through this. There will, and have been, good days and bad days but a key point to remember is that “In time this moment will pass”. Whether it is a happy or a sad moment it will eventually pass so I try to enjoy every moment I can.

 

My campaign has reached out to a lot of people on social media who too have had Angel Babies. I also want to use this opportunity to thank various members of the online community who, like me, have suffered from the loss of a child and are giving back to the community.

Thank you to @carsonslegacy for creating amazing graphics in memory of our lost children

Thank you to @baby_blingg who creates bling for all babies thus echoing the key message of #stillbornstillloved

Thank you to @letters_to_lillyflower who created a beautiful piece of art in honour of my son

  

 

 

Below are some images of the different places we leave our rocks.

 

    

Toilet Talk

Occupational TherapistToilet Talks, Notes, Tips and Tricks from an Occupational Therapist in a toilet training seminar. I hope that you find help in all of this, I took the seminar because I have been struggling to toilet train my almost 4 year old for closing in on 2 years, and my daughter is starting to approach the age to attempt to toilet train, so when the opportunity came up to attend this I jumped at it, and this is a combination of their notes, my notes and fun graphics that took me forever to make…. So please enjoy.

 

The Goals for the seminar were simple, to learn about readiness and pre-toileting skills, establishing a toileting routine, learning how to use visuals to assist with toileting, how to look at reward versus punishments, and how to deal with accidents and other issues. It is important that you start toilet training when you AND the child are ready. If started too early, toilet training can become a power struggle, and that power struggle will effect just how long the toilet training will take and how successful you will be in the long run. Some kids might be under

Four Stages Of Toilet Learningreactive to being wet or dirty while others may be over reactive to those same stimulus.

There are Four main stages of Toilet Learning, there is stage one, Toilet Play. This step can include pretending to use the toilet on their potty, mostly with their clothes on, they become very curious as to what others are doing in the bathroom and they show more interest in the toilet itself, maybe not for using but wanting to learn how that it works. Stage two is Toilet Practice, and this step shows the child wanting to practice certain skills that are needed in wanting to use the toilet. Like practicing flushing the toilet, pulling their pants up and down, getting on and off their potty or the big toilet, squatting down then standing back up again, practicing hand washing and asks for your to check if their diaper is wet or dry, or clean or dirty as they are becoming more aware of what is going on. Stage Three they are showing more interest in wearing “real” underwear and feels the need to urinate by showing gestures (also known as the peepee dance), is verbal and uses facial expressions. They are beginning to hold urine in longer, like when they are playing and really dont want to stop to go pee or feel wet while playing, as they also start to feel the need to be clean more than sitting in their mess longer than necessary. They now have words for using the toilet and tells you when they have to go. They can pull their pants up and down a little more freely, and stand and sits on the toilet or their potty with little to no help. They are also showing signs of pushing and concentrating when they are ready to poop, they are also letting you know more and more when they have ‘accidents’ or need their pull up changed. Stage Four is the final stage, as they are now doing independent toileting.

Tips and Tricks for

There are a few tips and tricks out there for Potty Training, many are ones that your parents used on you and your siblings, then there are the ones your grandparents tell you about, you also can look online for many more, these ones are from the occupational therapist as well as a few from the other moms that attended the seminar with me that have older children that they were able to toilet train with no help as they didn’t have the same delays or different issues that our children have now.

So the first thing you can do is establish a toilet language with your child, you can use the actual terms like Urine or Bowel movement or the old stand by peepee and poopoo. Then there also the terms that you want to use for their parts, we are still working on stage one in our house for toilet training so when I am changing my son he is in charge of wiping his ‘macker’ and that is what he calls his penis, and that works for us as well as he calls his bottom his “smelly butt”…. Let’s not start that story. You can also model the stages of going to the bathroom for your child, “Oh I feel like I need to pee, lets got the potty.” They can follow you into the bathroom and you can narrate the steps you are taking. “I am pulling down my pants and big kid underwear. Now I am sitting on the potty, and going pee.” Things along those lines, you can also have a steps on a “Rip Chart” or a check mark sheet your child can check off as you complete the steps now and later when they are completing the steps.

Rip Chart

Rip Chart, each tab is Velcro and can be ripped off as each step is completed

Another step you can try is changing their soiled pull ups in the bathroom so they can start to associate the bathroom with getting clean, you can even start putting the poop from the diaper in the toilet and have them flush it down. Also, dress your child in easy to manage clothing so that they can start practicing pulling their pants up and down. My son when he is in his sweats will do it while he watching TV, not even really for the need to go to that bathroom, just because he wants to, his sister who is only 1 and half is already trying to mimic him, he has cognitive delays while my daughter is right on par with her age, so I will be potty training them at the same time.

Check Chart

Check off each step as they are done.

Establishing some sort of toileting routine will also help you in the long run, you can have your child sit on the toilet or their potty at regular intervals for 1 to 3 minutes, like every 30 minutes or 60 minutes regularly or 20 to 30 minutes after eating and drinking.  Also have your child participate in as many tasks as possible when they are in the bathroom, you can also use a tracking system to determine if your child is already on a routine. If your child has a fairly regular schedule, be consistent in taking them to the bathroom during the times that your child is mostly likely to go. Place your child on the toilet or potty approximately 5 to 10 minutes before their predicted time to go. Try and schedule toilet trails less than 90 minutes apart, timers may assist with keeping everyone on track. A wind up egg timer that you can show your child how to set may help them feel like they are in control of this whole situation.

If your child does not have a regular schedule, your child’s potty habits may be linked to eating, sleeping or physical activity, determine the amount of time between these activities and elimination, you might notice a pattern, also you might want to increase the amount of liquid intake 10 to 20 minutes before a trial to increase success.

Praise your child for appropriate toileting

toilet TRAINING tipsto help motivate your child, praise EVERY step that they do successfully, regardless of how much assistance you provided. Verbal praise should be used whether or not you use a tangible reward, like small preferred food or sticker. Accidents happen, keep calm, avoid getting upset when an accident happens, but help your child clean up. Avoid punishing your child for accidents, accidents can help your child learn what it feels like to be wet and how their body works. Issues that arise, child is afraid of the toilet, your child seems to feel unstable on the toilet, your child wont sit still long enough to go and your child responds poorly to wearing underwear.

Diapers vs. Pull-Ups vs. Big Kid Underwear

-Diapers make potty training less messy, but they dont allow your child to get that necessary feeling of being wet or dirty.

-Pull-Ups also pull away moisture fairly quickly as well

-Underwear provides your child with feeling of wetness which is necessary for learning how to stay dry.

-Let your child pick out ‘real’ underwear. They may have a favorite character like Barbie, Dora, Spider-man, or anything along those lines.

Here are the top ten do’s and dont’s for potty and toilet training. I also have a few other little tips that were shared at the seminar:

  • Try and put the big kid underwear under a pull up, that way they can get some of the sensation of being wet and dirty while you have less of a mess to clean up.
  • Teach girls to wipe from front to back, because we know that the bacteria transferred from back to front can cause infections and problems in the long run.
  • Hand washing should always be included at the end of every child’s bathroom routine
  • When accidents occurs, never leave a child in wet or dirty clothing change the child’s clothing as quickly as possible, and have your child assist you where appropriate.

Here are a few lists of books for parents and children that you can also check out:

List Of Toilet Training Books

I hope this was informative and helped you figure out how you can and will start Toilet Training your little one. Leave me a comment if you have any other tips and trick that you used that were helpful that I didn’t include, or please let me know if you have used some of the ones I did include and they did work for you.

Thanks for Reading

-Ashton <3

Mommy Book Club 2018

Mommy Book Club Will Start Up Again On January 1st, 2018 and The Book We will be reading is Book One in the Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon.

Back Cover Synopsis:

The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second Honeymoon — when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach – an ‘outlander’ – in a Scotland torn by war and raiding boarder clans in the year of Our Lord… 1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life… and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scot warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire… and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.



I am giving everyone a heads up on this because it is a longer book and some of us… Mainly me… Will need longer than 30 days to read it. 

I hope you all join us in January on my Facebook Page Ashton Taylor – Our Preemie Family for a Facebook live or a discussion board on it. It all depends on how my kids do at bed time that night, lol. 

Thanks for your Time,

Ashton <3 

My Struggle With PTSD

There has been many articles recently about mental health for parents and family members that have experienced NICU life, and all the bumps, drop, loop de loops that roller coaster has in store for everyone incolved. I would like to share my battle with PTSD post NICU, 3 and half years later.

My son was born 16 weeks early, and I was a worrier before this, but this experience has amplified my paranoia about anything and everything that was not in my control. My little Spud was born at 24 weeks and 2 days gestation, 11 inches 1 pound 12 oz, and loud. He annouced his presence with a meek but powerful squeak, almost like a newborn kitten, I learned later that it was rare for little ones that early to have a powerful entrance, so much so that the nurses held him unsure of what to do for a moment or two. 

Now, this part is mainly to explain where I came from to have you understand where I am now. We were in the NICU for 157 days total and 33 days in a childrens hospital, with 2 attempts at coming home before the third one stuck. We were sent home the first time just before his due date, and his Respiratory therapist came tonthe house the following morning and as she hooked him up to the pulse ox monitor he stopped breathing, turned grey and she preformed CPR on him while i was on the phone with 911 amd rounded up cats. She got him breathing and crying and back to the NICU we went, they kept us for 4 days, ran tests and came up with nothing, so they wrote it off as a one off situation and sent us home. As I drove him home I make sure he was mad and would cry the whole 15 minute drive home. You might see that as cruel, I saw that as a way to keep calm. That was the beginning of my spiral down, we got home. My husband and I gave our son his first bath at home, I swaddled him up, put a bum on him and fed him. I handed him to my husband to burp while I went to clean the bottles. Two minutes later my husband is yelling, I run and spring into action, I start CPR, got my husband to wrangle cats and call 911. I got him to burp, fart and whine but no gasp or full cry. The paramedics, who were the same group that were at our house 4 days prior, lifted me off my child and into the hall to start CPR with machines and oxygen masks. 

We were admitted for 34 days in the NICU and 33 in the children’s Hospital after this incident. I refused social work while in the NICU and hospital with my son. I did not want to focus on me, I wanted my son to come home and stay home and stay alive this time. I spent hours writing everything down, filling my sons medical binder with everything and anything. He was my focus 110%.

The third time he came home on oxygen, on a tank I had to bring around with me, so I became a hermit and only left if I had a helper, or to the doctors office alone. He was home before Christmas, and off oxygen by March, my husbands birthday, and I went to a happy routine with him until June. I had to put my son in daycare for 2 hours a day while I worked nights, and my husband worked days. 

Thats when my husband and family started noticing a slight problem, at work I would be overcome with a sence of panic and call my husband repeatedly until he would answer anc check on Spud, make sure he was breathing, make him put the phone up to his mouth so I could hear it. It wasn’t just once and a while, it was 1 to 3 times a night 5 nights in a row. My family doctor put my ativan while at work, but to use as needed, he also put me in touch with a family councillor who was the first person to tell me I may have NICU PTSD and put me in touch with a psychologist. 

I saw her once a week, we worked on talking and medications therapies that helped calm me down. This was from July till October, I was down to once a month visits. The end of October I found out we were pregnant with baby number 2. And I had to stop my medications, and up my therapy visits to try and remain normal. But in January, I lost my job and my coverage for therapy and my husbands coverage couldn’t cover it anymore. I panicked for most of my pregnancy, I had a full meltdown at 22 weeks and again at 24 weeks. I had it in my brain that something was going to go worng. I didn’t enjoy my pregnancy with my daughter, I didn’t feel the joy of finding out it was a girl, I didn’t feel happy shopping for clothes because it felt like something was going to go wrong. But nothing did, Princess Tally came into the world 6 days overdue at 8 lbs 14oz 22 inches long via c section because she had a big head like her dad. 

I didn’t enjoy my 4 day hospital stay, I refused to put her down, I made nurses watch her while I went to the bathroom if family wasn’t there. They made me meet with a social worker to help me get back on medications, which ment I could not breast feed. I had to do it, I had to make this sacrifice for my daughter, so I would have all my mental faculties for her, Spud and my husband. 

I manage my PTSD with medications to this day, and I still have good days and bad days where I pop an Ativan to get through the day, I struggle daily with it, there are nights I wake up 4 to 6 times a night and check both kids, I do not work. I stay at home and try to find some normalcy for my family, for me, I start back to counseling in 3 weeks. Its a battle, but I am willing to fight this, because I have something worth fighting for. 

– Ashton <3

Terrorism Hit Too Close To Home


This is Constable Mike Chernyk, and he is an amazing 11 year veteran of the Edmonton Police Service. You see on Sunday around 8 pm, he was doing a patrol walk around the football stadium, that was filled with people when a white Malibu blew through the sidewalk hitting him, launching him 15 feet in the air to land hard on the cement. The person who hit him, on purpose, gets out of the car flashing a knife scaring away people who were making sure the officer was ok, in some capacity, then proceeded to stab, cut, and slash the already wounded man. All this to get his gun, to get this police officers gun, to continue his plan for the evening. But, Constable Mike Chernyk fought him off, kept his gun safe radioed for help as the suspect ran off, the contable was taken to the hospital. The man hunt started.
Around 11 pm, a Uhaul was pulled over at a check point, they asked to see his licence and he matched the description of the suspect wanted in the constables assault. So the police officer called for back up, as he did so the Uhaul fled. Four police cars persued and pedestrians were struck by the Uhaul before it hit the curb and flipped on it side and the suspect was taken into custody. He has been charged with several different offences, but what the media points out several times in many different ways he was a Syrian Refugee. While I am angry at him for what he did, and how he ruined my safe bubble, I am angry at the people blaming all the people here who have actually come to be safe, to escape what is happening here, and Las Vegas. 

I am not belittling what happened in Las Vegas by any means, but this attack happened in my home. Where I grew up, where I am raising my 2 small children. This hurts my heart, and this man, Constable Mike Chernyk, is my hero. He is someone I wan my 3 year old son to meet, and this man is the reason why I know the old saying “Don’t let a few bad Apples spoil the whole batch.” With all the negativity around police, this is why I hold onto hope and let my son adore them and have them be something to strive for as he grows up. And this is also why, I will not allow this one man, who ruined my home and broke my heart, make me believe all refugees are like him. 

Constable Mike Chernyk, is home now, resting with bumps bruises and stitches. Two of the four pedestrians hit are home, the other two are in serious condition in hospital. No fatalities, my thoughts, and warm positivity goes to all the families effected here and in Las Vegas. 
Remember to Love everyone equally. 
-Ashton <3