Parenting Pro Tips, Edition 2

Need some sage advice? You probably won’t want to look to this post then. Need some tongue-in-cheek humorous Pro Tips? Read on as I got your back, fellow parent!

PPT #1: Snacks are the best silencer
Nothing is more annoying that going grocery shopping with your kids and having them beg and plead for every damn thing they see in the aisles. No, child, you may not have whole wheat Kraft Dinner, (we’re KD purists in this household, yo, and it’s Original or bust, obvs.) and no, you may NOT have Fruit by the Foot. (Although I’m amazed that they still make those!) The best way to get them to not ask for ALL THE SNACKS is to give them a snack to eat while you shop. They’ll be too busy stuffing their faces that they won’t have time between bites to ask you to buy food.

PPT #2: Let them learn from their mistakes
I’m not saying to let them ride their bikes without a helmet to prove what head injuries feel like. I repeat, I am NOT saying that! But say it’s -30° outside and they REFUSE to wear their mittens. Nothing makes a kid more obsessed with mittens than experiencing freezing cold hands. Not too long ago it was super windy and cold and my youngest refused to keep her mittens on for longer than 30 seconds. Not too long after (I’m talking maybe 10-15 minutes, tops) she was sobbing because her hands were cold. I shoved her mittens back on and wrapped them in a blanket to warm them up, and ever since then she’s been OBSESSED with wearing her mittens outside. Success!

PPT #3: Travel at night
I’ve personally have never travelled for longer than 4 hours in a vehicle with my kids, but I’ve heard numerous times from several different families that when covering long distances, travelling at night is the way to do it. It totally makes sense too; it’s their natural “sleep” time, so if they don’t do so great sitting still for long periods of time, hate the carseat, get car sick, etc., why not drive at night when they’re most likely to sleep? Take shifts if you’re driving with someone else, and you should *hopefully* be able to get to where you’re going without having to hear “Are we there yet?” 50,000 times.

PPT #4: Be a veggie ninja
I’m lucky enough to have two kids who will eat pretty much any vegetable I put in front of them, however, there are some foods that I have to be a little more creative with. And by creative I mean deceitful. Cauliflower rice? Nah kid, that’s just “fancy” rice! Those onion bits in your homemade macaroni & cheese? That’s just a special noodle! Those greyish bits in your meatloaf? Those aren’t mushrooms, it’s just the way the ground beef looks. Get what I’m saying?

PPT #5: Mute the madness
Ever notice how children’s toys are the NOISIEST? I find that the cheaper the toy, the more annoying and loud it is, regardless of the volume control. (I swear, “Low” is actually 230dB.) The trick to making those toys quieter while still allowing your kids to properly play with them? Packing tape. If you can take the toy apart without wrecking it, stick a piece of clear packing tape over the speaker holes, and then put it back together. You kid will still be able to hear Mr. Robot to fire up the missiles, but you won’t want to stick those missiles up Mr. Robot’s output hole after he says it for the thousandth time. You can also stick the tape on the outside if you can’t safely open the toy up, but mine have always eventually peeled the tape off. (I now keep packing tape in stock at all times.)

So there you go. You’re basically a pro at parenting now too.


Invitation overboard


I covered this topic a bit earlier in the year, but kindergarten changes everything …

Have you ever read or heard of the children’s storybook called “Moira’s Birthday” by Robert Munsch? While this isn’t a book review post, I’ll give you the gist of it because it’s relatable to this post: A young girl is getting ready to celebrate her birthday and wants to invite the entire school. (Grades K thru 5) Her parents tell her she can only invite five kids. She invites the whole school anyway and hilarity ensues.

And while this isn’t a “back in my day” post either I just have to add that, well, back in my day, I too was only allowed to invite a limited number of kids to my birthday parties; usually my closest friends who I played with on a daily basis. I’m sure there were some kids who felt left out (because I was soooooo cool) (not) but for the sake of my parent’s sanity it would be insanity if all 25-someodd kids in my class came to my house for my birthday.

Today, however, parents are expected to either hand out birthday invitations on the down-low like they’re handing out illicit drugs, or invite the entire class so no one’s feelings get hurt and then hope and pray that only a handful RSVP that they’re coming. The stress is real for me: it doesn’t feel right inviting an entire class of kindergarteners over for a party, but it also doesn’t feel right trying to pass out exclusive invites to only a select group of kids.

This age is hard. Isla is still “sorting” through her friends and there’s no clear indication who she’s closest with and who she doesn’t prefer to be around. I can understand the encouragement from teachers when parents are asked to invite every child to a birthday party, and I want to be fair to all the kids because I truly understand that it’s never fun to feel left out, but I also don’t believe it’s necessary to invite a bunch of kids who aren’t necessarily friends with my own, nor should those who may be bullying others be quasi rewarded for their actions.

I know I have a bit of time before I have to cross this bridge for myself, and perhaps by then I’ll figure out a method to get through this madness. For now, I certainly won’t question why Isla did or didn’t get invited to so-and-so’s party, as I’m sure there’s a reasonable explanation for either. So far I haven’t been greeted by tears after school, so cheers to that.










Mom Voice

Parents: You’ve been there. You’ve ALLLL been there. Don’t lie to me and say you haven’t. You’re in the grocery store and your kids are being little demons. You tell them time and time again to stop and they do, but it lasts a solid 5 minutes before they’re at it again. You’re clenching your jaw and making your way through your list while ignoring your kids as they ask beg for everything damn corn syrup-laden snack item on the shelf. You think you’re doing great until you’re organizing your wallet when your precious angels start bickering over who gets to hold the receipt when you suddenly snap and scold them, telling them to knock it off. Then you look up and realize that everyone in the vicinity is staring at you and you feel like you’re being judged harder than Kate Middleton.

“George, so help me God don’t make me use my Mom Voice in front of all this press …”

Okay, full disclosure time: That person in the above story? It was totally me. About 95% of the time both the girls are great when I take them grocery shopping. I’ll toss them a snack (the store we frequent offers fresh fruit or a cookie to their “young shoppers) and I can usually get my shopping done with very few issues.

I don’t know what the issue was during this particular trip, but everyone (myself included) seemed a bit testy. Isla wanted to buy every snack item possible, Norah insisted on holding every item I put in our car, and by the time we were at the checkout they were at each other’s throats. I couldn’t nose breathe for much longer but I knew we were almost done.

It wasn’t until I was putting my change into my wallet when they started screaming at one another when I finally lost it and the “Mom Voice” came out. I snapped at them. When I looked up, I saw a dozen heads turn the other way and knew that I had just drawn a crapload of attention to myself.

I’ll admit that at first I felt a little awkward and embarrassed by my outburst. No one ever sets out to be “that” parent in the public but sometimes it happens. I’m sure I was judged and labeled for being an awful parent by some of those shoppers, but I hope that the majority of them will take into consideration that they have no idea who I am and what was going on in my life at that point in time. I know I try my hardest to think that way when I witness similar situations.

The point of this whole post is to tell you that it’s okay to lose your shit in public. Believe me, I subtly told them to behave numerous times before raising my voice but when kids are in “the zone” chances are they’re not going to listen to a Snow White-like voice telling them to behave; sometimes you have to break out the Mom Voice to get the point across to your kids.

It’s unfortunate that the “voice” is usually the only thing strangers hear when you’re scolding your kids. Much like that photo of the Duchess of Cambridge, we’re judged on a single event and criticized for not being able to keep it together. That’s not okay. In our social media-obsessed world there’s too much emphasis on showing off how “perfect” your life and your kids are, and I believe this is affecting how we expect other parents to act and react while in public. We forget that there are as many low points in raising your kids as there are high points because we always attempt to emphasize and show off the good in our lives.

By no means am I saying that we need to start shaming our kids on Instagram, nor am I saying to dial back the #blessed posts either. I’m merely suggesting that we perhaps take a moment or two to remember not to judge if/when you see a parent struggling and scolding her kids in public. They’re trying their damn best to keep their cool so forgive them for not being a picture of social media perfection. Not having a screaming kid > Image of perfect parenting. ;)