I got the BRILLIANT idea of writing a “parenting handbook” in which I would pass on my super secret, full-proof parenting wisdom. If this feels like a to-good-to-be-true gimmick, then you’re on the right track! NONE of my parenting advice is full-proof and it is rarely wise, but I’ll share it with you anyways for the amazing low price of $20.00 – that’s the price of my co-pay on my kids therapy, from being subjected to my “wise” advice.
Because I have SO much wisdom to share, I will break it down into sections, starting with meals. Meals are tough in our house. I think this is because I am a control-freak and try too hard to prove how great of a mommy I am (a-hem) by getting my kids to eat what I think they should, when I think they should. So here’s how you do it:
- Eating games: Show me how a dinosaur eats (and every other possible animal) This will not teach great table manners. As it turns out Dinosaurs and other “cool” animals are VERY messy eaters!
- Reverse psychology: “Do not eat your chicken because I really liked it and I am going to eat yours when I finish mine”. The problem with this approach is the possibility of, “Here you go mom…”
- Fun with counting: “I bet you can’t count all the bites you can eat!” This is my crowning glory as I get my kids to eat and can check off working on their numbers. I am huge multi-tasker, so the only way I could improve this is to incorporate reading or social skills. Hmm…
- Cool names. Turkey Lurkey is one of their favorites and it’s chicken, not turkey. We have confused our share of waiters and dinner guests with our secret code names for food.
When these fail (absurd as that may seem…) here is Plan B (read the fine print):
The following is meant for entertainment purposes only. Use of the below tactics is done at your own risk.
- Negotiation: “I’ll give you $5 to eat your whole dinner”
- Fear: “Your friend Aiden barfed one night because he didn’t eat his dinner…” (I really used that one in a less than spectacular parenting moment)
- Proximity: Duct tape the little darling to the chair until dinner is done.
- Supply and Demand: Starve them for a few days, then they are bound to eat just about anything.
- Peer Pressure: All the cool kids are eating this.
- Listen to Their Bodies: Feed them whatever they want. If they are craving it, their body must need it.
What other parenting challenges would you like for me to solve? I am taking requests! ;)
Since the beginning of time, women have had diversions: bridge club, garden club, Bunko, book club, and the myriad of at-home parties - Stella and Dot, Pampered Chef, Cookie Lee, Southern Living – you get the idea. Let’s be honest: these are all excuses to get a few hours away from the kids, husbands, boyfriends, pets, whatever and enjoy some time with the girls.
These events are a time to catch up on each others’ lives, share parenting horror stories and exchange beauty tips, recipes and laughs. The theme, activity or reason for gathering is arbitrary, as long as we come together as women to blow off steam. I remember my shock the first time I attended book club, with my book in hand, to find that half of the women don’t read the book and we rarely discuss it. (I, being an avid reader, was slightly disappointed, but the second cocktail made me feel better.) In summary, our gatherings are the male equivalent of grabbing a beer after work (or so I suspect).
To my knowledge, all of these female gatherings include wine, cocktails or other appropriate alcohol (I’d go to Spanish Club if they served Sangria). Maybe that’s just my group of friends, but I remember my grandmother pulling out the terrifying jug of Chablis (that poured like maple syrup…) to offer with the iced tea for her bridge club. (Emily Post had nothing on those women who were steadfast enough to drink that with a polite smile). Depending on if the gathering is day or evening dictates how much consumption is socially acceptable. Occasionally, there is the added thrill of a gutsy gal exceeding the quota and being the entertainment for the evening.
This last Saturday night I attended a Passion Party. This is the pinnacle of the secret female gatherings. A consultant comes in to provide ideas and products to make life more interesting in the bedroom. *If you are conservative, stop reading, but may I remind you that if you’re a mom, you likely had sex to have a baby and if you’re not a mom, your parents likely had sex to have you – get over it!
Glad you’re still with me. But, lucky for you, the Grapefruit martinis make the evening just fuzzy enough not to articulate. (But I do believe we made the party consultant blush with our comments!) Therefore, if I am not going to provide details of the evening, why do I bring it up? Because it highlights all that is perfect about girls evenings. They are uninhibited, real and can bond perfect strangers. (I can now tell you – but I won’t - who has handcuffs in their homes and who is the most knowledgable about toys). As women, we openly discuss menstruation, children’s’ poop and weight; how is sex any more taboo? We are empowered to speak the alcohol induced truth and share our “wisdom”, humor and most embarrassing stories. We laugh so hard we understand the importance of Kegel’s.
After such an evening, we are rejuvenated - we have the smug smile of somebody holding a juicy secret and some of us anticipate the arrival of unmarked package, while dreading the visa bill. For me, I felt more romantical (it’s my favorite made up word) towards my husband and was more patient with my children. I feel closer to my girlfriends and somehow feel like a stronger woman in general.
So I am huge supporter of female gatherings and all the “secrets” shared there. I also like pages 6-9 of the summer catalog, but that’s another story…
MSN did a piece yesterday about the Seven Deadly Sins . It got me to thinking about my sins as a parent:
Lust: With our busy schedules, traditional lust is not a daily occurrence around here. However, I will admit to lusting after shoes and purses. My shopping budget is about as scarce as lust, so I lust after the material things I gave up when I gave birth to the products of traditional lust.
Wrath: I have shared with you the dangers of the crazy mama bear. They say there is no greater wrath/fury than a woman scorned. Wrong! There is no greater wrath than me if you so much as look at my children in a threatening way. Only I can give them that look.
Pride: This is practically a gimme for parents. Have I told you my six-year-old and three-year old can water ski? Yes, I have, but I’m glad to have the opportunity to tell you brag again. I would post pictures of my kids to show the world how stinkin’ cute they are, but it goes back to that wrath and over-protective mama thing. So, pride – check.
Greed: If honesty compensates for greed than let me be clear: I would love to be rich, but not famous. I want enough money to choose my activities, to only work on things I am passionate about, to work less and enjoy life more. But it’s not just money, I want more time too. Time with the kids, time with my husband, time for myself, time for my friends. Call me Veruca: I want more and I want it now.
Envy: I envy moms (and dads) who appear to have more balance in their lives than me. I say “appear” because if they are anything like me, you shouldn’t look behind their curtain either.
Gluttony: Covered that with my post about Mommy’s Hierarchy of Needs. I use sweets and cocktails to achieve balance in my slightly off-balance life. When I really want to show my kids how much I care for them I say, “I love you more than chocolate” and sometimes I mean it.
Sloth: I have had 7 different posts that mention my inconsistent showering habits (really, I counted). Sloth is practically my middle name! I dare say I envy those who have more opportunities to be lazy than me. Do I get double points for a sin about a sin?
Bringing little angels into the world drives us to commit sin on a daily basis. Does that make me a great parent, a bad parent or just totally normal?
My husband walked into the kitchen after we put our kids to bed and found me serving up a bowl of ice cream and stealing part of my kids homemade ice cream sandwich. He looked at me, recognized the seriousness of the situation and kept walking. He knew his life was in jeopardy if he tried to stop me or reason with me. He understands the “Mommy’s Hierarchy of Needs” based very loosely on the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
Based on how tough of a day I have had, I have different needs for coping. Here is the graphical representation:
As you can see, from the scientific diagram above, there are 5 levels of need. Within each level, the amount needed to cope can vary based on the severity of the day. Sweets is level one, but one M&M is a good day compared to a whole chocolate cake which is a catastrophic day. The most rare and severe level is a shot. If the day requires a shot, alternative child care should be arranged!
However, the pyramid can also represent exceptional days, where each level would denote the amount of celebration appropriate for the occasion.
With good days and bad days, levels can be combined to most accurately represent the situation and mommy’s psychological state. For example, a shot and a cupcake means that the principal, poop and stitches were involved.
So as not to discriminate, I will put together Daddy’s Hierarchy of Needs in a future post.
I am home from New York. I spent four days with my husband, WITHOUT MY KIDS, in a town of incredible sights, history, food and culture to celebrate the wedding of a friend. It was my first trip to the Big Apple and I was delighted, overwhelmed and more than a little off-balance. Here are my lessons learned…
Flights Are Fabulous: Normally, when my husband and I fly together, we have the kids with us, which means I come off the plane sweaty, exhausted, cranky, stained and ready for a parachute. On these two glorious flights I read books, drank wine (yeah, the break-up might be over), watched movies and RELAXED. I didn’t actually care where the flight landed since the experience itself was so therapeutic.
Size Does Not Matter, It’s All About the View: My 2,800 square foot house can seem too small with the kids and all their toys, but a 1,000 square foot corner suite hotel room (thank you hotel points) over-looking the harbor is a little piece of Heaven.
I Hate Crowds: I am a people person but I DO NOT love swarming crowds of tourists. Yes, I get that I was one of those tourists, but I think the problem was that I would like to sight-see like a celebrity, while everyone else stays home. The sensory overload of Times Square is craizer than 25 kids for a six-year-old birthday party! If I am in the mood for sensory overload I will chaperone my daughter’s preschool field trips. At least then I will know the kids who own the sweat I rub up against.
Suburban Life Requires Less Showers: I have shared in my posts that, since I work from home, there are times, a-hem.. days, when I do not shower. I had to wash city life off of me at least twice per day. If I stepped off the curb wrong, I was splashed with gutter grime (water would not be an accurate word to describe what hit my legs).
Moms Should Teach Taxi Driving School: I can get an SUV full of 6 year olds anywhere on time without inducing motion sickness. I can drive the carpool, while putting on a movie and passing back the juice boxes, without breaking any laws or startling anyone. (Unless I yell, “Don’t make me pull this car over”). The taxi to the airport took two ginger ales to recover from.
Moms CAN Sleep-in After Having Kids: It turns out that staying up until 2:30 in the morning, having cocktails is doable if you can sleep until 11:30 the next morning. I didn’t even know if I was still physically capable of sleeping late. I have confirmed that mothers can still do shots and be the life of the party if given time to recover…
Adults Need Moderation Too: We don’t hand our children the candy basket and tell them to use their best judgement. The same rule should probably apply to parents re-released into the wild - aka at an event with a fully hosted bar. Just because it is there and free, doesn’t mean one (okay, me) should try to take full advantage. The extra sleep helped, but I still had to relive the hazy memories of giving breast-feeding advice to someone I had just met.
Parks Are For Adults Too: My favorite part of my kids-free trip was a park! We had a delightful brunch at The Boathouse in Central Park and then strolled around the lake. I turned to my husband and said, “oh the kids would love this”. He said, “You’re right, but we’re not bringing them while they’re young”. He’s a smart guy.
Thank you New York for reminding me what being a civilized adult feels like. Thank you for the one-on-one time with my husband, for the beautiful sites and delicious food. Finally, thank you for perspective – when I had my first dose of mommy frustration upon coming home, as the kids were being loud and rowdy, I was able to say, ‘Thank God I am not in the heat of Times Square with all those crazy tourists!’
We attended a wedding this weekend. When the couple got engaged I sent the groom the following email. I think it nicely summarizes their relationship from here on out:
“Congratulations on your engagement! Since you and [bride] have been dating for quite a while, I am sure you were getting questions on when you two would get engaged. From the moment you get engaged, people ask when the wedding is. From the moment you get married they will ask when you will have your first child. Once you have a child, they will ask when the next child is. So basically, the questions never stop – enjoy!”
I am in New York for a wedding. We just got back from the reception – it was a fully hosted bar, need I say more?!
It is 2:30 am and I just had a slice of New York pizza and I am heading to bed. I just wanted you to know that I may not post for a couple of days, but check back soon! I will provide details on my corner suite and more!