Sheryl Jesin

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How do you wake up at 5am?

Yesterday I wrote a blog post on why I enjoy waking up at 5am, and what I do when I wake up early.

Today I am going to write about HOW to make it happen – it’s easy to say that you want to wake up early – but how do you actually force yourself to get out of a warm cozy bed…especially in the fall/winter when it is cold and dark?

Here’s what I do:

Just do it!

I cannot force myself to go to bed early.  I really just cannot.  I can’t make myself go to bed early just so I can wake up the next morning at 5.   When I did my five day 5 am challenge, before the first day I just went to bed at my usual time (around midnight).  And I set up alarm for 5am and just got up.  I knew I would be tired by the end of the day, but that was good thing!  I literally could not keep my eyes open past 10pm the first day.  And that made getting up the next day that much easier!  The second day I was asleep by 9pm – which to me is perfect as it gives me 8 hours of sleep.  So – don’t force yourself to go to sleep early.  Instead – force yourself to wake up early for the first few days, and you will then automatically start going to bed early.

Find accountability partners!

For me – this is KEY!  I posted on Facebook that I was doing a 5 day 5am challenge and was looking for some friends to support me.  A few responded, I got their cell phone numbers, and now I send out a text to them at 5:30am every morning and we tell each other what workout we will be doing.  I feel accountable to them – and I will not let them down!  It is much easier to talk myself out of an early wakeup if no one is counting on me.  But when my friends are counting on me – I get up and I get to it! If you need an accoutability partner – that is what I am here for!  Add me as a friend on Facebook at and we can exchange numbers – I would love to add you to our accountability group.

Get ready the night before!

I know I will be working out first thing when I wake up, so I get ready for that.  For me that means laying out my workout clothes and planning which workout I will be doing.  Picking out my outfit only takes a few minutes, but I would rather do it the night before to save time.  Also – I find when I wear a cute workout outfit, it motivated me to push a bit harder.  Does that happen to you too?  LOL.  I will also spend 10-20 mins before bed tidying up, emptying the dishwasher, picking out the kids’ clothes and making at least part of their lunches.  It feels good knowing these things are done and it means I have more time for ME first thing in the morning.


Do you wake up early?  Do you have any tips to add on how you make it happen?


Short term vs. long term

Welcome to the July Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Philosophy

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared their parenting practices and how they fit in with their parenting purpose. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


Lately I’ve been caught up in the daily grind of life with a 3 year old and a 6 month old: wake up at the crack of dawn, prepare and serve meals, clean up, breastfeed on demand, get baby down for a nap, keep preschooler away from baby during said nap, repeat until bedtime!  Let’s not forget the constant tidying up and laundry, and the herculean effort it can take just to make it out the door.   Getting through each day without any major meltdowns is an accomplishment of its own.  My thoughts are moment to moment and it can be hard to think beyond the next hour without getting overwhelmed, let alone the next week, month, or year!

Yet at the same time, it is so important for me to think about long term parenting goals or philosophies. Otherwise, I get lost in the minutiae of day to day life.   When I am caught up in the moment and short term goals, I forget about long term goals.   A few examples come to mind.   I often find myself taking off Dylan’s pyjamas in the morning while chasing him around the house.   The chasing continues as I put on his clothes for the day.   My short term goal is to get Dylan dressed and therefore I end up dressing him.   However, an important long term goal is to teach Dylan age appropriate life skills so he can feel a sense of accomplishment when he is able to do something alone.   The long term goal gets lost as I dress him in a rush so we can get out the door.   Here’s another example – sometimes during dinner I find myself feeding Dylan a few forkfulls of chicken or telling him to hurry up or asking him to finish the last few bites.   The short term goal is to finish the meal so we can move on to bathtime and bedtime, and to ensure that he’s gotten enough food in him so that he won’t be hungry at night.  The long term goal that I am missing is to allow Dylan to recognize on his own when he is full and what type of food he wants to eat, in order to create healthy eating habits for life.

Without long term goals in mind, life with two kids can be monotonous, boring and frustrating.   But when I stop and think about how my daily actions are influencing the lives of two little people, the daily grind doesn’t seem so bad. Instead of feeling bored, I feel inspired and purposeful.   Rather than being frustrated, I feel patient.

How do you reconcile your short term and long term parenting goals?


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon July 12 with all the carnival links.)

  • Between Love and Fear: On Raising our Children Sensibly — Mamma Earthly at Give an Earthly discusses the fear factor in parenting and how she overcame it, despite societal pressures.
  • really, when do i get my cape? — Sarah at small bird on fire is a working city mama trying to learn how to set aside her expectations of perfection and embrace the reality of modern parenting.
  • Baby, Infant, and Toddler Wearing — Child wearing is part of Sarah at Nourished and Nurtured‘s parenting philosophy. In this post, Sarah describes benefits of child-wearing and gives tips for wearing babies, infants, and toddlers (even while pregnant).
  • First Year Reflections — As her daughter’s first birthday approaches, Holly at First Year Reflections reflects on how she and her husband settled into attachment parenting after initially doing what they thought everyone else did.
  • Making an allowance — Lauren at Hobo Mama welcomes a guest post from Sam about the unexpected lessons giving a four-year-old an allowance teaches the child — and the parent.
  • How to be a Lazy Parent and Still Raise Great Kids — Lisa at Granola Catholic talks about how being a Lazy Parent has helped her to raise Great Kids.
  • Philosophy in Practice — Laura at A Pug in the Kitchen shares how her heart shaped the parenting philosophy in her home.
  • What is Attachment Parenting Anyway? — Gaby at Tmuffin describes the challenges of putting a label on her parenting philosophy.
  • Of Parenting Styles — Jenny at Chronicles of a Nursing Mom talks about how she and her husband tailored various parenting styles to fit their own preferred parenting philosophy.
  • Moment by Moment Parenting — Amy at Peace 4 Parents encourages those who care for children (including herself) to explore and appreciate parenting moment-by-moment with clarity, intention, trust, and action.
  • Maintaining Spirituality in the Midst of Everyday Parenting, Marriage, and Life — Sarah at Nourished and Nurtured shares her perspective on finding opportunities for spiritual growth in every day life.
  • Parenting Philosophy — Lily, aka Witch Mom’s parenting philosophy is to raise child(ren) to be compassionate, loving, inquisitive, and questioning adults who can be trusted to make decisions for themselves in a way that avoids harming others.
  • Long Term — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis thinks about who she would like to see her daughter become — and what she can do now to lay a strong foundation for those hopes.
  • Connection, Communication, Compassion — She’s come a long way, baby! After dropping her career in favour of motherhood, Patti at Jazzy Mama discovered that building solid relationships was going to be her only parenting priority.
  • My Parenting Inspirations – Part 4 — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks at her biggest parenting inspiration and how that translates into her long-term parenting philosophy.
  • A Parenting Philosophy in One Word: Respect — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction summarizes her parenting and relationship philosophy in one word: respect.
  • Knowledge and Instinct — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment believes that knowledge and instinct are super important … as are love, encouragement and respect. It’s the ideal combo needed to raise happy and healthy children and in turn create meaningful relationships with them.
  • THRIVE!The Sparkle Mama wants to set a tone of confidence, abundance, and happiness in her home that will be the foundation for the rest of her daughter’s life.
  • On Children — “Your children are not your children,” say Kahlil Gibran and Hannah at Wild Parenting.
  • This One Life Together — Ariadne aka Mudpiemama shares her philosophy of parenting: living fully in the here and now and building the foundation for a happy and healthy life.
  • Enjoying life and planning for a bright future — Olivia at Write About Birth shares her most important parenting dilemmas and pours out her heart about past trauma and how healing made her a better parent.
  • My Parenting Philosophy: Unconditional and Natural Love — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares what she has learned about her parenting philosophy from a year of following her instincts as a mama.
  • An open letter to my children — Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine writes an open letter to her children.
  • My Starter Kit for Unconditional Parenting — Sylvia at MaMammalia discusses her wish to raise a good person and summarizes some of the nontraditional practices she’s using with her toddler son in order to fulfill that wish.
  • Responsiveness — Sheila at A Gift Universe has many philosophies and goals, but what it all boils down to is responsiveness: listening to what her son wants and providing what he needs.
  • Tools for Creating Your Parenting Philosophy — Have you ever really thought about your parenting purpose? Knowing your long-term goals can help you parent with more intent in your daily interactions. Dionna at Code Name: Mama offers exercises and ideas to help you create your own parenting philosophy.
  • Be a Daisy — Becky at Old New Legacy philosophizes about individuality and how she thinks it’s important for her daughter’s growth.
  • What’s a Mama to Do? — Amyables at Toddler in Tow hopes that her dedication to compassionate parenting will keep her children from becoming too self-critical as adults.
  • grown-up anxieties. — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life explains her lone worry concerning her babies growing up.
  • Why I Used Montessori Principles in My Parenting Philosophy — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells why she chose Montessori principles to help her now-adult children develop qualities she wanted to see in them as children and adults.
  • Parenting Philosophies & Planning for the FutureMomma Jorje considers that the future is maybe just a fringe benefit of doing what feels right now.
  • Not Just Getting Through — Rachael at The Variegated Life asks what truths she hopes to express even in the most commonplace interactions with her son.
  • Parenting Philosophy? Eh… — Ana at Pandamoly shares the philosophy (or lack thereof) being employed to (hopefully) raise a respectful, loving, and responsible child.
  • Parenting Philosophy: Being Present — Shannon at The Artful Mama discusses the changes her family has made to accommodate their parenting philosophy and to reflect their ideals as working parents.
  • Who They Will Be — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro shares a short list of some qualities she hopes she is instilling in her children at this very moment.
  • Short Term vs. Long Term — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes recounts how long term parenting goals often get lost in the details of everyday life with two kids.
  • Parenting Philosophy: Practicing and Nurturing Peace — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle sets personal goals for developing greater peace.
  • Yama Niyama & the Red Pajama Mama — Part 1: The Yamas — In part 1 of a set of posts by Zoie at TouchstoneZ, Zoie guest posts at Natural Parents Network about how the Yoga Sutras provide a framework for her parenting philosophy.
  • Yama Niyama & the Red Pajama Mama — Part 2: The Niyamas — In part 2 of a set of posts by Zoie at TouchstoneZ, Zoie explores how the Niyamas (one of the eight limbs in traditional Yoga) help her maintain her parenting and life focus.
  • Our Sample Parenting Plan — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey shares hopes of who her children will become and parenting strategies she employs to get them there.
  • Philosophical Parenting: Letting Go — Jona at Life, Intertwined ponders the notion that there’s no right answer when it comes to parenting.
  • Unphilosophizing? — jessica at instead of institutions wonders about the usefulness of navel gazing.
  • Parenting Sensitively — Amy at Anktangle uses her sensitivity to mother her child in ways that both nurture and affirm.
  • how to nurture your relationships — Mrs Green at Little Green Blog believes that sometimes all kids need is a jolly good listening to …
  • Philosophy Of An Unnatural Parent — Dr. Sarah at Good Enough Mum sees parenting as a process of guiding her children to develop the skills they’ll need.
  • Life with a Challenging Kid: Hidden Blessings — Wendy at High Needs Attachment shares the challenges and joys of raising a high needs child.
  • Flying by the Seat of My Pants — Heather at Very Nearly Hippy has realized that she has no idea what she’s doing.


Parenting a toddler with loving guidance

This post is written for inclusion in the Carnival of Gentle Discipline hosted by Paige @ Baby Dust Diaries. All week, April 26-30, we will be featuring essays about non-punitive discipline. See the bottom of this post for more information. 


I will admit that we went through a bit of a rough patch when Dylan started walking at around 11 months and went from a baby to a toddler.   When he was a baby I was able to meet his every need (to my best ability!) and his needs and wants were one and the same.   He couldn’t move very fast (he wasn’t a big crawler) so I didn’t have to worry about him getting into things until he started to walk.  We were actually in Florida for a month when he started to walk and when we came home I realized how un-babyproofed our house was!  We have a townhouse with lots of stairs and lots of cupboards.  We had lots of “stuff” everywhere – from magazines on end tables to bowls on coffee tables.  When we came home from Florida I realized I could not take my eyes off of Dylan for a second or he would be running towards the stairs or throwing something on the floor or getting his fingers caught in a cupboard door.  At a year he was too young to understand the repercussions of his actions.  So quickly we babyproofed our house and installed gates, locked cabinets and toilets, and removed all clutter.  What a difference it made!  I no longer had to follow him closely telling him no all the time.  He was free to explore our house and I could relax. 

I hadn’t given discipline or loving guidance much thought until Dylan became a toddler.  When he did I had to start thinking what felt right for me and right for us as a family.   I was spanked as a child and so was my husband (it was rare but it still occurred).   That is something that I never want to do to my children.  I believe that it simply teaches kids that the way to deal with a problem is through violence.  I also believe that children must be respected emotionally and therefore should not be yelled at or shamed.  However, children still do require guidance as they need to be taught what is acceptable in our society and also they must be protected from danger.  I try to guide Dylan through the use of modelling and teaching.  My husband and I try to model good behaviour and we try to teach Dylan and explain to him why or why not he is able to do something.  At the same time we try to understand what is normal behaviour for a toddler.  Getting into everything, climbing and exploring is normal.  Therefore we try to keep our house as child proofed as possible so that we are not always telling Dylan no or don’t touch.  If we go out our environment can’t be controlled the same way as it can at home but at least Dylan has had some time to explore on his own and have fun at home before we go out.   I also try to be consistent and repeat things over and over again until Dylan understands.   He is not one of those children who you can say no to once. 

Having realistic expectations and meeting Dylan’s needs can also help.  For example, I don’t expect Dylan to sit in his high chair at a restaurant for an hour and be happy.  I don’t expect him to sit in his stroller for a long time while I try to get shopping done at the mall. I don’t expect him to be happy if we are out near his nap time.  I work around his schedule and his needs and make sure that what we are doing is suitable for his attention span.  I will let him out of his high chair and a restaurant and sit on my lap or walk around outside if it is possible.  I will let him walk in the mall and make sure that we have time to play in a bookstore, or have snacks for him in his stroller if I need to get something done. 

Of course there still are rough patches.    I find that redirection helps a lot.  If he is doing something that I don’t want him to do, I ask him to stop and then I find something else fun or interesting for him to do. For example, if he is putting something in his mouth that he shouldn’t be, I will go right up to him, ask him to stop, take the item away and perhaps give him something that is safe to put in his mouth.  Just yelling no across the room will not work.  I find that if he is tired or hungry (or even worse, tired and hungry) small things can quickly escalate into tantrums.  For example, if I take something away that is unsafe and redirect under normal conditions, he is fine with it.  But if he is tired and/or hungry this can turn into a tantrum.    The best way to prevent the tantrum is to make sure he eats regularly and also that we are home when it is time for him to sleep. 

Chapter 15 in the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding provides a great resource on loving guidance.  I also really like  The No Cry Discipline Solution by Elizabeth Pantley.  One interesting aspect of this book is that there is a chapter devoted to anger management for parents.   Pantley demonstrates that the management of parental anger can both help parents cope and also help them better manage their children’s behaviour.  I also like that this book offers a number of solutions to every problem rather than assuming that there is one approach that works for everyone.  In addition, the book has a summary of common discipline problems at the back of the book which is easy to refer to when needed. 


Gentle Parent - art by Erika Hastings at to the Carnival of Gentle Discipline 

Please join us all week, April 26-30, as we explore alternatives to punitive discipline. April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month in the USA and April 30th is Spank Out Day USA. In honor of this we have collected a wonderful array of articles and essays about the negative effects of punitive discipline methods, like spanking, and a myriad of effective alternatives. 

Are you a Gentle Parent? Put the Badge on your blog or website to spread the word that gentle love works! 

Links will become available on the specified day of the Carnival. 

Day 1 – What Is Gentle Discipline 

Day 2 – False Expectations, Positive Intentions, and Choosing Joy (coming Tuesday, April 27) 

Day 3 – Choosing Not To Spank (coming Wednesday, April 28) 

Day 4 – Creating a “Yes” Environment (coming Thursday, April 29) 

Day 5 – Terrific Toddlers; Tantrums and All (coming Friday, April 30)


When the best choice is no choice

When Dylan started walking at around 11 months, we moved from baby-land to toddler-land.  Toddler-land was uncharted territory for us.  With his new found mobility, Dylan began to explore anything and everything with zeal.   Charging towards stairs, opening cupboards and drawers, pulling things off coffee tables and shelves…the more dangerous the better!  I found myself constantly saying NO!  I didn’t like the negative person I had become.

First things first – it was time to baby proof.  We installed gates, locks on drawers and cupboards…we cleared off coffee tables and low shelves and of course put those little plastic thingies in every exposed outlet.   Our house became a safe place for Dylan to explore…and NO was no longer my favorite word.

I had read all the baby books and now it was time to crack open some toddler books.  First on my list was the No-Cry Discipline Solution by Elizabeth Pantley, and second was the Happiest Toddler on the Block by Harvey Karp.  Baby books by the same authors had helped me when Dylan was little, so I decided to give these books a try.  They both had lots of AP friendly tips for dealing with the new toddler issues that we were facing.

A common suggestion in both of these books was to offer your toddler choices.  By offering a choice, you make your toddler feel as if he or she has a say in things.  All day long toddlers are told what to do by adults- time to change your diaper, time to get dressed, hurry up –  it’s time to go outside now, time to eat lunch…etc.   By offering your toddler a choice between two alternatives, you return some of the power to them, thereby avoiding power struggles.  For example, when it’s time to get dressed in the morning, a parent can ask their toddler:  “do you want to wear the red shirt or the blue shirt today”, instead of just saying:  “hurry up and get dressed!”

The theory made sense to me, and I was eager to give it a try!  However, I found when Dylan was a young toddler (12-20 months), he didn’t really understand the concept of choosing.  And as he got older, I sometimes found that he didn’t want either option!  For example, if it was time to go out and I said “do you want to put your jacket or shoes on first”, he’d just say “NO!”  He didn’t want to put on either, and the fact that I cleverly created a choice didn’t fool him!

Other times I found that he was not capable of choosing between two equally good choices. One evening we were leaving my parents’ house after dinner.  We had two cars there because Dylan and I arrived in one car and my husband Jake arrived from work in another.   I came up with the bright idea of asking Dylan:  “Do you want to drive home in mommy’s car or daddy’s car?”  Dylan answered me by saying:  “Mommy’s car.  No – Daddy’s car!  N0 – mommy’s car.  No – daddy’s car!”  Obviously he was having a very difficult time choosing between us.

I want my daddy!

Jake tried to put Dylan in the carseat in my car.  A tantrum ensued.  Dylan was screaming:  “No!!! Mommy’s car!” over and over.  So then Jake tried putting Dylan in my car.  “NOOOO!  DADDY’S CAR!!!!” At this point we were tired and just wanted to get home.  So Dylan stayed in my car and cried for his daddy most of the way home.  I absolutely hate to hear my son cry for any reason.  Thankfully it is a short drive!

We learned our lesson.  The next time we were out somewhere with two cars, we didn’t ask Dylan if he wanted to drive home with mommy or daddy.   We just put him in a car and that was that!  He didn’t know he had a choice, and he didn’t feel pressured to make the right decision.   He was happy, and we were happy!

What has your experience been with choices?  Have you had luck with other toddler discipline theories?