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!)

Keep calm and party on

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A real-life conversation from 2014 in regards to Isla’s birthday.

At the end of this month Isla will be turning 5, and my days of simple “Mostly Family and a Few Friends” birthday parties are over. With Isla being in preschool and dance for the past nine months she has developed a wide circle of friends and of course, she wants to invite ALLLLLL of her classmates to her party.

And then of course, there’s friends outside of school and dance who she’d like to invite, and at that point, do you even bother inviting family to a child-dominated screeching fest? Oh, and how on earth do you even decide on how many kids to let her invite?! AND HOW DO YOU HAND OUT INVITATIONS WITHOUT HAVING SOME OTHER KID FEEL LEFT OUT?!

Of course, I have answers to those questions. Or at least answers that work for us and our situation.

Backstory: Isla decided that she’d like to have a bowling birthday party after attending one back in February. After looking into the cost Kyle and I thought it was totally doable, plus it takes the chaos and mess out of our house. Win!

When it came time for Isla to decide who she’d like to invite to her party I simply asked her. She had her go-to friends (the ones who she’s been friends with pre-preschool and dance), and then she went on to list nearly every kid in her preschool and dance classes. Ruh-roh. Cue one of what will be many sit-down serious discussions with Isla: We told her how she unfortunately couldn’t invite everyone she knows, and to think about who she likes spending the most time with, and we’d go from there.

Eventually we had her par down her list to a few kids from both preschool and dance. I scrutinized her list a little, asking if she was certain on who she wanted to invite, but she seemed certain so we let that be that.

How to hand out the invitations was the biggest stress factor for me. As much as I didn’t want to hurt any tiny human’s feelings, Isla knew who she wanted to invite and while I did my best to sway her decisions, I wasn’t going to make her invite anyone she didn’t want to. I managed to hand them out on the DL with relative ease and so far, there hasn’t been any backlash. Whew! <wood knocking>

Of course, there’s always going to be some second guessing, mostly on my part. Should we have invited one child instead of another? What if no one can come? What if she suddenly becomes “not friends” with someone she invites? (Which may have already happened …) Should we let her invite someone else? What do we tell parents who ask why their child wasn’t invited? What do I tell Isla if someone can’t make it?

The mom-guilt is real and I just have to keep reminding myself that this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to birthday parties and that things are only going to get more complicated as she gets older, especially if her social circle grows.

I know I’m most definitely over thinking all of this and Isla probably won’t even notice if only two out of the however many kids she invited show up. She gets cake? Yay! Bowling? Yay! I just need to remind myself to keep calm and let her party on.

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.