Category Archives: Parenting

How Spilled Milk Adds Up

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The boys are being careless and silly. Then, as if in slow motion, the milk comes soaring across the table and spills into my lap. The boys look at me, wide-eyed.

I can feel the steam rising from my feet, all the way up until, out of my mouth, spews forth a comment not kindly spoken and in a voice that is definitely raised.

Mommy just cried over spilled milk.

My kids are sad, and I feel guilty for my wrath. Dripping with milk, I go to my room to change. Then I remember what my mom used to say to me in times like this.

Dear, you need to count to ten.

Apparently I have always struggled with overreacting because I remember her saying that to me. A lot.

But it’s funny that in my parenting journey, I had somehow forgotten the wisdom of those simple words.

Count to ten.

So I’ve started doing that. I’ve started simply counting to ten. And sure enough, my words have been kinder, my demeanor more loving, my voice more calm, my words more carefully chosen.

I count to ten. My words become sweeter to their dear little ears, and my toddler learns a math concept. Everyone wins.

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Mr. Nostril’s New Friend

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They always say, “Don’t panic. Stay calm.”

But I am not the “stay calm” type. My husband is, and he wasn’t home during our “don’t panic” moment today.

I had just put in a load of laundry in the basement. I had been gone about three minutes, tops, when my three-year-old whined at me down the stairs. “Mommy! I put a wego in my nose, and it’s ‘tuck.”

Seriously? What I wanted to say was, “Why on earth would anyone do THAT?” And the next second I thought, “Now is the perfect time to freak out!”

But I did neither. I actually calmly said things like,”Let me take a look,” and, “I think I can get that out.” Those are not things I say. Those are things my husband says. I couldn’t believe my calm demeanor on the outside, when inside I was just hoping we weren’t going to be headed to the ER.

It was Academy Award style acting.

Now Mr. Nostril was indeed full of a circle-shaped, yellow, one-pronged Lego, so I thought. So I got the tweezers and gently pulled on it. To my surprise, out came a small Lego horn-like piece that had three knobs in the shape of a right angle!

Good thing I thought it was something much more minor. I am not that great of an actress.

If You Give a Mom a Kiss

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A while back, I was lamenting the fact that I run around my house all day, bouncing from room to room like a ping pong ball, with very little to show for it. I would ask myself, “What exactly did I do all day?” It’s very much a case of Mommy Attention Deficit Disorder, which is a condition so many moms with young kids are prone to experience. We go on a mission to accomplish “this,” see “that,” and go on a mission to take care of “something else.”

This circular running around made me think of a book we’ve read a few times around here: If You Give Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff. I was inspired to write a little version of my own. Maybe you will be able to identify:

If you give a mom a kiss, chances are, she’s going ask for a hug.

While she’s giving the hug, she’ll look over her your shoulder at the pile of laundry that didn’t get done the previous day, and she’ll think, “I need to fold those this morning.”

On her way to attack the mountain of whites, she’ll remember she has a soccer uniform to wash. She will go to the hamper to get out the uniform and she’ll run downstairs. She’ll start the washing machine.

While there, she will think to clean out the dryer lint. When she goes to throw it away, she’ll remember today is trash day. She’ll take out the garbage.

Coming back inside, she will be asked for a drink. She’ll get you the drink, and she’ll think about how she needs to go to the restroom. She’ll head that direction.

On her way, she will step on some Legos. She will quickly put the Legos away, while thinking about the toys she would like to donate to the local charity.

While picking up Legos, she will see the potpourri of toys that have managed to wiggle under the couch. She will swipe out the toys. In doing so, she will find the missing remote and she will put it somewhere she knows she will remember.

When she does this, she will realize that the breakfast dishes were not all cleared off the table. She will put one dish onto the counter and will see that the dishwasher needs run.

She will look for the soap. When she does this, she will feel a little tug at her leg. Looking down, she will notice that a toddler has attempted to change his own diaper.

Seeing the mess will remind her that she forgot to start the washing machine. She will add the mess to the machine, and, this time, she will remember to put the soap in and the lid down.

Once this is done, she will remember the pile of laundry upstairs. She will go in to fold it and will realize she has a few children patiently waiting for her attention.

Her heart will melt a little, and so she’ll ask for some hugs. And, chances are, if you give her some hugs, she’ll want some kisses to to with it.

Bad Day on a Silver Platter

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It was a rough day full of clumsy, bad parenting. Some days are steak, some are macaroni and cheese. Today was more like beans and rice.

At the end of our rough day, I got everyone ready for an on-time bedtime, thinking that would help “reset” us all. Everyone was all tucked in; I was singing to my baby girl.

Then she barfed on me.

We went to the bathroom to clean things up, and then it happened for the second and third time. Now vomit stretched across the bathroom floor. It was lovely.

I ran water to give her a bath and got her all settled. She was happily playing, enjoying her bedtime stall. Suddenly, the bathroom door popped open and in flew her big brother, age five. He was curious as to why we were taking a bath in what was, to him, the middle of the night.

He made quite an entrance – surfing on a pathway of vomit, wiping out. He stood up. His sister’s dinner covered his back. Into the tub he went.

The perfect end to the perfect day. (Insert sarcasm here.)

Actually, he came to me a while later, still unable to sleep from the excitement. I asked him if it had hurt at all when he had fallen. He said it hadn’t.

Then we looked at each other and burst into laughter.

It actually was a good end to a bad day, kind of like a cookie at the end of a bad meal.

But no one here wants cookies. Too many have been tossed.

A Chore Fairy

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I wanted to make a simple job chart for use with my kids. I wanted it to be flexible and easy to manage. I also wanted it to be a very clear picture for my kids showing what was to be done and what was accomplished. And I wanted it to be cheap!

I ran to Hobby Lobby, hoping to find some sort of inspiration. As I meandered through the metals section, I found metal pieces with individual letters. They were on sale for $3 each. Perfect. I even picked up an inspirational quote for a header. I then purchased some little wood circles, magnets, and scrapbook paper. Now I was all set! (And I was only out $20 for charts for four kids!)

I made a list of chores I thought would be doable by a 7-, 5-, and 3-year old. I printed these on scrapbook paper and punched them out with a circle puncher. I modge podged them onto the wooden circles and hot glued magnets to the backs.

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I displayed the letters, one for each kiddo. I explained to my boys that they would have chores to be done, and those would be displayed on the left side.

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After they finished each chore, they were to move it to the right. Easy peasy.

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When we first started using this, we started with the three basic, everyday chores for us: brush teeth, make bed, and get dressed. We used these basic “chores” for a few weeks, until they had the system down-pat. Nowadays they get these chores each day, along with one other chore*. Some of these chores I have had to introduce to them. Sometimes I have had to help my three-year-old do something that takes five minutes when it would have taken me two. But the responsibility and ownership I see in my kids is the real benefit.

Each night, like a little elf, I move their daily chores (brush teeth, make bed, and get dressed) to the left sides of their charts. I then remove their “extra chore” and replace it with a new one. When they wake up, they are actually excited to see what is on their chart. It’s like the Chore Fairy has visited!

It really is nice to share in the responsibility and all pitch in together! Now if only the Chore Fairy would make me a list…

*I wanted to include some examples of our “other chores” that are doable by wee ones. Some of these are never (or are rarely) given to our three-year-old little man. We have found these chores to work well: empty (small) garbages, unload dishwasher, empty hampers, sweep bathrooms, wipe down bathroom sinks, wash mirrors, wash glass doors, sweep front porch, sweep back porch, vacuum dining room, vacuum living room, sweep kitchen, water plants, dust bedroom, pick up bedroom, pick up basement, and get toys out of van. There are many more I can think of after having started with these. Of course, every home (and momma) would adapt and add as necessary! Let me know if you think of any other great ones we could all use!

The New No

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Sometimes my three-year-old and I sound alike. If you listened long at our house, you’d hear a similar mantra..No!

It’s funny, but no one told me how often I would say no as a mother. Of course, it is essential to say it many times a day to a toddler or preschooler as they learn the ropes. But I have noticed (and have been saddened lately) by how often I say no to my kids’ requests to spend time together.

Oh, it’s not always “no,” of course.
Not right now
Maybe later
After I ….
How about tomorrow?

The list goes on and on. And the tension so many of us struggle with is that things DO need to get done. Our kids sometimes DO need to wait a bit. (Just a second, buddy. Mommy’s wiping someone’s bottom!)

But sometimes they don’t.

As I’ve noticed this happening around our house, I have been thinking of making a few changes.

I will still say no. To other things.

I will say “not right now” to the dishes.
I will say “maybe later” to the laundry.
I will say “after I push them in the swing” to the vacuuming.
I will say “how about tomorrow” to emails.

And you know what? I will never see the dishes, laundry, vacuuming, and emails shrug their shoulders in sadness at my neglect.

Don’t get me wrong. I still like to have a clean house. I still do have to get my chores done sometime. The laundry and meal prep are inevitable. I am not suggesting running around naked and eating frozen pizza to be at a child’s beck and call.

But wouldn’t it be great to put down the glass cleaner and join a princess at a tea party?

Don’t get me wrong. My kids ask me to play lots of things I’d rather not play. I dislike playing with grasshoppers. I am not a big fan of playing with Hot Wheels. And my idea of a Lego creation is a rainbow tower of all of the two-pronged pieces.

But it matters to them. And they matter to me.

You know what I have found incredibly useful in this venture? A timer (or a time limit). I set the timer, or look at the clock, and note 10 or 15 or 20 minutes. I am theirs for that bit of time. Then I can go back to the laundry. Sometimes I tell them, “Mommy has 10 minutes to swing with you, and then she needs to start making dinner.” Sometimes I mentally set the time so they don’t have to know how much I do NOT want to play pirate.

Whatever the case may be, find a strategy that works for you, and try to put off a thing or two to spend more time with your kiddos. I know I am renewing my effort to do so at my house.

Because yes is the new no.

The Spoken Word

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It is an unwritten right of passage for the new parent: the day they swore would never come and, in a moment of desperation and lack of reasoning with a wee child, the words spill forth: “Because I said so.”

There are phrases we may expect to (but possibly hope not to) say to our child: “Say your prayers,” “Play nicely,” “Be kind,” “If you jumped off a bridge,” etc. But I can honestly say that, in my chaotic life, I have uttered words I never anticipated. Today was no different.

Today I said to my three-year-old little man, “No, that grasshopper cannot sit next to you as you eat your lunch.”

This joins a long list of “These are not the wise parenting words I thought I would be imparting to my offspring.”

So, I am curious. What are your instances of “Sentences you never thought needed to be said aloud?” Parenting sure has its moments, and sometimes it is so humorous to think of those precious moments when you look into your child’s eyes and say such profound truths: “It is not polite to aim our toots at others.”