Parenting Pro Tips

Anyone who’s a parent has probably received advice on raising kids in some shape or form. Whether it’s good, bad, asked for, or unsolicited, we’ve heard it all, even “advice” that’s just plain ol’ common sense:

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Regardless, there’s definitely some Parenting Pro Tips (PPTs, shall we?) that are not well-known, so I thought I’d dedicate this instalment of Moments of Motherhood to share some of the wisdom that has both been passed down to me and that I have passed onto others.

PPT #1: Say nothing
It’s all too tempting to use a fun outing or special event like a birthday party as leverage to get your kids to behave. What parent hasn’t caught themselves yelling, “IF YOU DON’T SMARTEN UP YOU’RE NOT GOING TO (insert event here)!!!”? However, you can save yourself the tears and tantrums from cancelling an outing by just not saying a word about what’s to come. Most of the time, I won’t tell Isla about a friend coming to visit or a trip to somewhere fun until a couple hours beforehand. This also helps if plans change for some reason and we have to cancel. So while the leverage is great, not having to listen to a 5-year old ugly cry because she can’t go to a birthday party is greater. I like to bank all of my empty threats for Christmas anyway 😉

PPT #2: Warm wipes, cold wipes
I honestly have no idea if babies care if the wipes you use to clean their dirty behinds are warm or cold, and I’m fairly certain that they are going to pee on you while you’re in the middle of a diaper change regardless. There is one pro-tip that will always stick with me though, and it was one that was passed onto me by a friend when I reached out in a somewhat panic when I was about to babysit a little boy and I realized I have never changed a baby boy’s diaper before. Her advice to me? “Use cold wipes when cleaning up poop. You want his jewels to be as tight as possible or else it’s like trying to wipe poop off Jello.” I laughed so hard and this will stick with me FOREVER, so thanks Mel!

PPT #3: Pick your attire battles
This may seem like a no-brainer, and that’s because it is. If you’re sick of fighting with your kid when it’s time to get dressed, there’s a flowchart for that. Are you going anywhere important today? (Important being a wedding or a funeral.) Then let them wear what they want. Lord knows they’re going to spill their lunch on it in a few hours anyway. Alternatively, let them pick their shirt and you pick the pants, or vice-versa.

PPT #4: Take all whining in the car seriously
The only thing that’s worse than figuring out that your kid get motion sickness is figuring it out after they’ve barfed up their banana and Cheerios while still strapped to their carseats on a hot, summer day. For me, it was about 45 minutes into our drive to go clothes shopping. I took Isla’s whines about her tummy hurting as her general whining about being hungry, and not long after she barfed her entire breakfast up and into her lap and carseat. Kids don’t know what being nauseous is, so if they start to say their tummies hurt or they don’t feel good, for the love of God, pull over and get them some fresh air. And then pack Gravol from here on out.

PPT #5: Everything is spicy.
You know what’s more annoying than having to pick every “toxic” bit of food off your kid’s plate? Having to share your food with your kids. I swear, every time I bust open a bag of chips they come swarming like seagulls to a cargo ship. My solution? Tell them it’s spicy, or that it’s flavoured with their least favourite foods. (Mushrooms, onions and zucchini is pretty unpopular in our household right now.) They’ll eventually call your bluff and want to try it for themselves, but at least it will buy you some time to down the bag. “Ooooh, sorry kids! It’s all gone! Better luck next time …”

I think that’s all I have to share with you for now. I’m sure there will be another instalment in the future though, for as our kids get smarter we must too. (Adapt or die, as evolutionists may say!)

Pushed

Ever have days when your kids are awesome, like they’re pictures of beauty and grace and even Mary Poppins would be jealous of how good you’ve got it? So do I! There are days where I’m just amazed by how grown up either of them are – Isla showing so much care and compassion and Norah taking great strides in her independency and personality. It makes my heart burst and my ovaries weak and then I want 1,000 more babies. (Much to my husband’s terror.) I post the crap out of those moments on social media because who doesn’t want to read about or see how amazing my little darlings are? No one! Everyone thinks that life going so wonderfully and life is roses and then?

Then they turn into Ivan Drago and I’m Apollo Creed and Rocky Balboa is nowhere to be found to avenge my death.

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It just goes to show that parenthood, no matter how shiny and magical it appears online, there’s always those moments that we don’t always speak of. Those moments where we feel like we’ve been pushed to our mental breaking points and we just want to give up.

I’ve had a lot of these moments lately and it has turned me into a hot mess of a mom. Forgetting what time school starts? Check. Completely forgetting details about something I was told less than a hour before? Absolutely. I can feel myself slowly breaking; The whining. The sleep strikes. The attitude. Little by little, it all slowly adds up and suddenly it’s 3 a.m. and I’m sitting on the floor outside of the bedroom doors in tears because I’ve finally been pushed to my breaking point.

Moments like these certainly have shut my ovaries up more than once and while I know that it’s absolutely a phase and “this too shall pass,” it’s sometimes hard to look past it all. Thankfully, I have a great support system that’s been there more than once to pick up the pieces and glue my sanity together. (I’m looking at you, my dear husband/Rocky stand-in!) I’m reminded that sometimes when things are the hardest it’s okay to shove my own parenting rules aside if it means my mental wellbeing stays intact.

Find peace in knowing that your kids aren’t the only ones with inner Ivan Dragos, and it’s okay to let the world know that. Together we’re stronger and if we support one another we’ll always have someone to help push us back into sanity.

My village

We’ve heard it a million times before, “It takes a village to raise a child,” and I’m not going to disagree. From relatives to daycare providers, doctors to dance teachers, there are so many people who enter our children’s lives and influence them in some shape or form. Hell, even my actual next door neighbour has taken part, taking Isla for her first trick-or-treating adventure last year.

While many of these villages that we parents are a part of are filled with “real life” people, I’m lucky enough to be a part of a virtual village as well. Call me crazy, but there’s 149 woman whom I’ve gotten to know over the past two years and sometimes I feel closer to them more than my “real life” friends sometimes. We relate to one another on a whole different level, and that’s not something you get every day.

So allow me to backtrack a bit: I was never a part of an online baby group when I was pregnant with Isla. I never thought to join one but after hearing about the support one of my friends found within her own birth group I figured I’d give joining one a try when I learned I was pregnant with Norah.

Finding a group was relatively easy; the pregnancy tracker app I had on my phone had a corresponding website with a message board community. I was able to find a sub-community of moms who were also all due in (or close to) June 2015 and one member was in the midst of creating a Facebook group. I asked to join and before I knew it, there were about 200 Canadian moms in one space of the internet.

I’m not going to lie, I was a bit skeptical of being in this group at first and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I figured that if I didn’t enjoy being in the group I would just leave and keep on my merry way. (I even said to Kyle that I’d probably leave the group after Norah was born, but here I am still, 2 years after joining!) Lets not kid ourselves, 200 women with pregnancy hormones can be a dangerous place to be in the real world, but give them the anonymity of a keyboard and the internet and it can be a whole new level of crazy.

There was all kinds of crazy in the beginning; fake profiles, fake pregnancies, ridiculous debates, etc., but they were all quickly weeded out and the remainder of us began our “bonding” process. The rest, really, is history.

I never would’ve thought that 150 women from all different backgrounds could all get along so well. From morning sickness to our baby’s milestones, we’ve been there to cheer, laugh, and even cry with one another. Our group is our village and it’s a place where there is brutally honesty without it being verbally abusive at the same time, and in a time where the virtual pen is often mightier than the sword and hate flows a little too freely, I’m thankful we have this understanding amongst one another.

Some (or in reality, most) would say I’m crazy for entrusting 149 strangers with the nitty gritty, personal details of my life, but how is it any different than the vast majority of people on Facebook? One person with 1000 Facebook “friends” certainly cannot be honest to God friends with every single one of them, no? Not wanting to go off on a tangent, I’ll just stop there and save that for another post someday…

So here’s to you women. You know who you are. You are my “people” and while I may have only met a couple of you in real life, I don’t think I ever feel more connected to a group of strangers.