How To Transition From Baby To Toddler

Babies are easy. They sleep, they poop, they eat, they smile and yes, they cry. With babies, that’s about it. But see, the things is, those tiny little things that don’t go anywhere end up growing, and then they sit up, and then they crawl, and somewhere in that flurry of dirty diapers – you have a toddler. Get ready, because this next phase of life will seriously test your patience. Here are six ways to prepare yourself… (Continue reading on Scary Mommy here.)

5 Ways My Daughter is Smarter Than Vegetables

You know, I never really paid much attention to vegetables until my daughter started eating solid foods. I have always liked them – I think they are delicious, they come in a tremendously wide variety of shapes and colors and flavors, and I have willingly ate them for pretty much my entire life. But now, I have a staunchly opinionated one year old on my hands, and she hates them. She hates all of them. Suddenly, one of the biggest points of emphasis in my life is how to shove those healthy things into my daughter’s face and, ideally, convince her to chew and even swallow some of them. My daughter has proven to be vastly superior to the vegetables and has outsmarted them at every turn. Here are five ways she has proven to be smarter than vegetables.

1. She picks around them. It’s quite amazing to watch this little person be so determined not to consume a single vegetable. We have put mass assortments of food on her tray, and somehow, she navigates that maze like a pro, eating every ounce of starch and protein, even fruit, without being fooled into the tiniest bite of chopped vegetable. Stinker.

2. She throws them off her tray. When she’s not in the mood to pick around them, she will straight up clear them out of her way. “Hey, broccoli, you’re in the way of my chicken. Get gone,” she mumbles in baby babble, chucking the broccoli into oblivion.

3. She swats them off the spoon. We’ve even resorted to trying to spoon feed her vegetables, but it’s like she knows it’s coming. She has given many-a-spoons the backhand to end all backhands, and she has no problem doing it.

4. She purses her lips in a “you shall not pass” sorta way. When the spoon doesn’t work, we have tried hand feeding her vegetables, hoping that if she could just get a little taste, maybe she’ll change her mind and realize that these delicious little morsels of health are not going to kill her. But no, she won’t possibly allow it. She’ll lock her mouth down tighter than a safe door, and there is no hope at pushing some health past it.

5. She screams. A lot. If you are foolish enough to keep pushing at this point, she unleashes a scream that is so opinionated, so shrill and sharp that you are completely demoralized and begin to question your very existence. You have failed, and there is nothing you can do about it, except try it all over again tomorrow.

My daughter really, really hates vegetables.

What My First Year as a Father Has Taught Me About Life

My beautiful, smiling, brilliant, opinionated, strawberry blonde little angel is one today. She’s one. I don’t know what happened. There was crying and diapers and midnight feedings (admittedly much more by my wife than myself, but I digress), bumps, bruises, learning experiences and the occasional fear that I was completely ruining my daughter’s life, and suddenly I have a one year old. She is brilliant, entirely too cute for her own good, and is pretty much already the boss in the house. In my twelve months as a father, there are many nuggets of wisdom I would like to pass on. You know, seeing as I’m an old pro now. Or something. Here are 10 things fatherhood has taught me about life.

1. Slow down. Nothing shows you quite how fast your life moves like having a baby. Suddenly, she’s one. She is 1/18th of the way to adulthood. It has flown by, and I’m terrified of missing it. Having this little lady in the house is making me reevaluate what it means to be present. Don’t blink, people. Be present. Savor every day.

2. Stop stressing. There are way too many unknowns in life to spend your time constantly stressed and under the gun. Guess what? One way or another, everything will work out. You’ll be fine. Take a breath, let tomorrow worry about itself, and just take care of today.

3. Have joy like a child. My daughter finds so much beauty, bewildering disbelief and pure joy in the simplest of things. From a single flower, to the color of the sky, to the shine on daddy’s ring, she sees beauty in the every day. That bewilderment and unfiltered joy is astonishing. I wish I saw the world through the same lens.

4. Invest in family. There is nothing more precious than family. Think outside yourself, think of others, look at how you can make their day better, how you can serve them, and you will have a sense of peace and happiness that comes from very few things in life. This is a lesson I’m still learning, so to my wife reading this, sorry I haven’t been better.

5. Things are just things. It’s all stuff. It’s junk. In the end, it doesn’t matter at all. Your clothes, your jewelry, who won the NBA Finals (side note… go Golden State) – in the end, none of that matters. What matters is love; what matters is family. 20 years from now, I will care a lot more about how my daughter thinks of me than I will about how I looked one day at that one place for that one event.

6. You are more resilient than you think. Life happens, mistakes are made, things don’t go according to plan, and sometimes that is terrifying. But the more I get through, the more I take on and see myself grow, the more I am learning that I’m a very resilient creature. You’ll be just fine, promise.

7. Forgive yourself. Hate to break it to you, but you’re human. You’re going to screw up, especially when it comes to parenting. If you constantly dwell on your mistakes, that’s where you will stay. It is so crucial to forgive yourself, to let yourself learn instead of dwelling in your imperfections. Keep your chin up and eyes forward. Stop regretting, start learning.

8. Listen. Listen, listen more, and when you feel like you’ve listened enough, listen again. You are surrounded by people willing to provide words of wisdom, others who want your feedback, and others still that have needs you are capable of meeting for them. You will miss all of these if your ears are tuned out to the world around you. Get out of your own head, stop focusing on yourself, and start listening to the people around you. Game changer.

9. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Like nothing I have experienced, parenting is wonderfully adapt at hurdling you outside of your comfort zone. With each new phase, you are presented with an entirely new set of challenges that you feel absolutely inept to handle. Get used to this! Feeling uncomfortable in new situations is perfectly fine, just don’t let it completely hamper your ability to step out, try something new, and tackle the situation head on. Embrace these learning experiences for what they are.

10. There is no love like your love for your child. Nothing – and I mean nothing, compares. Your child is the only thing on this planet that can simultaneously elate you and break your heart. Never before have I desired so deeply to be better – to be perfect – than I do when I am around this kid. She is the light of my life, a one year old representation of all I hold dear. There are no words, no possible way to describe, what it means to have a child and the instant, remarkably intense love that you feel for them. This is the only situation as a writer where I feel absolutely comfortable in knowing that I will be unable to describe the way I feel.

Parenting is awesome. It’s challenging, time consuming, tiring, and simultaneously the most exciting, joyful and rewarding experience I have ever had the privilege to have. Being the father to my beautiful girl makes me more proud than anything else I could ever accomplish, and has taught me tremendous things about myself and what matters most. I hope that, in some small way, she will someday know all that she means to me.

My Daughter Needs More Space – Why We’re Moving

This has been an absolutely ridiculous season of life. My wife and I have decided to list our house, got it ready for market, listed it, and accepted an offer – in three weeks. Quite frankly, we probably could have done it in two if it wasn’t for the crawling, crying 18 pound thing demanding our attention, but it’s because of that 18 pound thing that we are moving. (Side note – this entire process is exponentially more challenging when you have a baby.)  Here are five reasons why we have outgrown our current house.

1. We have no yard. Where we currently live, there is a beautiful green space off our back patio. It’s wonderful to look at, but as our daughter start’s getting older, it doesn’t make much sense. Just to play, she would have to go out our front door, through the car port, around the side of the house to the back where she could play. Even still, we wouldn’t be able to see her from the kitchen, which is a challenge. Yards are full of magic and memories and dirt. Kids need dirt.

2. Toys. Toys everywhere. Right now, Olivia’s toys are under our stairs or in our living room. That’s it. And while I personally don’t mind it, it doesn’t exactly scream “look how welcoming our home is” to guests when they trip over a pillar of stackable rings. We need an alternative.

3. Babies have a ton of stuff. Speaking of toys, oh my goodness to babies come with way too much stuff. I’m not convinced that my 11 month old doesn’t have more things than I do. Books, toys, towels, clothes, toys, bedding, toys, pillows, TOYS…. everything they own takes up much more space than it should. So yeah, a place with more storage would be nice.

4. Schools matter all of a sudden. I didn’t used to care about the rating of nearby schools, but I do now. I know, I know, it’s still five years away… but it never hurts to start thinking about it. Seeing that the elementary school around the corner from my place is a 3/10 doesn’t inspire much confidence, so we better invest in our daughter and set her up for as much success as we can. Grown up stuff, amirite?

5. We’re way too far from our church. We absolutely love our church and the family we have created there, and right now, it’s about 35 minutes away – on a Sunday, with no traffic. Calling up a friend and being like “hey buddy! We would love to have you over for dinner next week! Just make sure you leave your house an hour before you need to be here, because that traffic is AWFUL” is not a fun conversation. It’s no surprise that nobody comes to our house. The drive sucks.

So, yes, my little 11 month old has begun making all the decisions in my family and she can’t even talk yet, but we are doing this out of our love for her and  our desire to give as much as we can to our little lady. On to the next chapter.

This is War: A Dad’s Guide to Surviving Labor

It is not pretty, it is not fun, it is not easy, and it is not your battle. Hate to break it to you, pops, but labor has nothing to do with you whatsoever. When it’s time to welcome your little one into the world, you have two jobs – provide encouragement, and stay out of the way. Here are eight ways to support your partner on delivery day… (see more at Scary Mommy here.)

10 Things Nobody Tells You About Feeding a Baby

As an adult, eating is a pretty easy thing. No matter what your food of choice, an adult can look at it and determine the appropriate way to transfer said item from the table to their mouth. Generally speaking, we don’t make messes, we don’t throw tantrums, and we don’t harm ourselves in the process. Babies, however, do not have this set of skills. Here are 10 things you didn’t know about feeding a baby.

1. Bibs don’t really work that well. A bib covers one tiny swatch of clothing beneath the chin, but when you’re feeding a baby, that stuff goes everywhere. Bibs don’t do anything to stop food from getting in their hair, on the ground, on their pants, behind their ears… so, while it may save you a tiny bit of your mess, it will not solve all your problems. That’s what we call “false assurance.”

2. Messes are inevitable. Along the lines of that bib lesson comes the fact that messes are entirely unavoidable. Hands, face, neck, hair, ears, floor – food gets everywhere. Understand this. Embrace this. This will happen.

3. Remove all jewelry before feeding the baby. I don’t know about you, but I’m not a big fan of pureed sweet potatoes crusting my watch. It’s a little thing, but helpful. Take off the watch, the rings and the bracelets, because food will end up everywhere.

4. When a baby doesn’t like something, you’ll know about it. They make faces. They cry. They pound their hands on the table. Actually, I guess it’s pretty similar to adults. Your baby will make sure to let you know what they don’t like, so don’t be startled by the negative reactions. Consider those “learning experiences.”

5. Eating can be frustrating. Between the textures, the inability for the body to catch up to what the mind is doing, the different flavors and the fact that this food is not mom, babies can get pretty frustrated at eating time. This happens. Meal time is a roller coaster – ride it.

6. There are way too many baby food options. The amount of baby food brands is completely and totally out of control. Why are there so many options that all look exactly the same? A PUREE IS A PUREE. This is not difficult. Oh but that one is Organic, this one isn’t, that one has “Natural Flavoring” (MSG), this one has another word I can’t pronounce… it’s exhausting.

7. Babies will gag themselves. They gag on food. They gag on spoons. They gag on their own hands if you let them. When you give your baby solids and they start to gag, I assure you, you will lose your mind. But one thing I’ve learned is that the gagging is part of the process for them – just like everything else, they have to learn how to do things us big people take for granted, and chewing and swallowing is one of them. So, don’t get your undies in a knot. They’re fine.

8. Food temperature is a really big deal. Some babies are more particular about this than others, but if her food is not warm, my daughter will absolutely not touch it. Actually, I take that back – she’ll throw it far, far away from her. But it will not be consumed.

9. Let them play with their food. Personally, I find this to be a really important step in the process. Let your kids grab and play with new foods – it helps them get accustomed to these new feels and smells before shoveling it into their face. So, I know it’s counter intuitive, but at this stage, let them play with their food.

10. Don’t stress too much. Most importantly, don’t stress yourself out over what you’re doing right or wrong for your baby. Yes, do your research, talk to your pediatrician and make the best choices you can, but know that your baby is going to be just fine. It’s all going to work out.

Remember, everything is going to be okay. Just prepare yourself for the messes that will happen, teach your baby what you can, and don’t stress the little things. You’ll get through this.

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8 Ways Parents Take Mental Vacations From Life

Being a mom or dad is a 24/7 job, fully encompassed by a cloud of diapers, tears, bumps, bruises, and the magical guessing game of “what’s wrong with the baby?” There is no break from parenting, and it can take its toll unless you find ways to decompress and give yourself a brief mental vacation. However, when you are perpetually on the clock, at the beck and call of your adorable bundle of snot, taking a much-needed break is no easy task. Parents learn to get creative. Here are eight ways we can take a mental break from life… (Continue reading on Huffington Post here.)