As the Mixer continues to gain momentum, I continue trolling as many blogs as I can. The themes are diverse, but there is one common thread among most bloggers: they have a clear purpose. Some want to educate or inform; still others want to inspire or share. I, however, have no purpose! Granted, my writing usually revolves around my experiences as a parent, but those posts are littered with random political rants, a few sappy thoughts about my husband, and instructions for writing a rap song. What? That’s useful.
So you see, I feel like the Seinfeld of the blogsophere: The Blog About Nothing. I’m not necessarily opposed to that, I guess. But I want to be useful like Thomas the Tank Engine, and like so many of you. At least for today. That’s why I have compiled a list of (mostly helpful) parenting tips. Here’s hoping some of them work so you don’t think I’m a complete moron.
Pay Attention. According to my mother-in-law, after a bad day in elementary school, my husband would rush home to play with his WWF wrestlers. They would be thrashing each other in the ring while little Zach narrated his troubles: “I wanted to sit by Matt at lunch, but Ms. Smith said I had to move to the other table.” [Hulk Hogan is on the top of the ropes] “I should have been the first in line for recess.” [The Hulkster drops an elbow on Andre the Giant] “I’m sick of chicken and she made it again for dinner.” [3-2-1. PINNED!] Disguised as child’s play could very well be a window to your kid’s soul.
Don’t Offer a Choice When There is None: A kid has to go to bed. A kid has to do his homework. A kid has to eat healthy foods. When I was seven, do you think I enjoyed sitting on a hard wooden bench while Halitosis Hal breathed down my neck every Saturday evening at mass?! Kids have to learn patience and the basic premise that we all do things we don’t want to do. But by all means: if there is a way that you can make it seem like your kid is actually choosing (shall we cut your nails here or over there on the floor?) and the end result is what you want (his talons are trimmed), you’re a rock star and he think he’s in charge. Bazinga!
Be Honest: The immunization will hurt, but only for a minute. Grandma died, she’s not on vacation. We don’t want our kids to lie to us, so why not lead by example? Granted, there are times when the absolute truth may not be appropriate or even necessary, but that brings me to my next point…
Know Your Kid: Their personalities bud early; you’ll quickly learn what your little ones can handle and what they can’t. My son is hyper sensitive about…well, everything, so you would think I know better, but a few months ago, I made a HUGE mistake. A story about a family’s home ravaged by fire was featured on the news, and I began crying when the newscaster interviewed three little boys. These poor kids lost their home, their parents, their DOG–it was awful. Brady asked me what was wrong and I told him. Dumb, dumb, dumb. In the future, I shall refrain from that kind of honesty.
Be Consistent: Things tend to go smoother when everyone knows what to expect. Having set bedtime routines and discipline methods can help avoid tantrums from you and the kids. But don’t just talk about it; be about it. If you tell the kid that the next infraction will land him in time-out and he looks right at you and hurls another block at the TV, his ass better be in time-out. Likewise, if you always start the weekly grocery shopping trip with a complimentary cookie, your ass better be in the bakery.
Quiet Time: Working from home is a blessing and a curse for me; I love it because I’m with my kids every day (I think that’s why I love it…), but it is super, duper difficult to manage my time and be productive. We all have situations that, much to the dismay of our kids, require our undivided focus. For instances such as these, I use a Quiet Basket. The basket consists of books, toys, and other stuff that keeps little yappers yapped. I rotate the contents to keep it fresh; a bored toddler is a loud toddler. Additionally, because Brady has given up his afternoon nap (you can imagine my horror), I force him to do a quiet activity for about an hour. He usually wants to watch Sesame Street or play on the iPad, and that’s when I take meetings, make calls, etc.
Do I Have a Booger in My Nose? Asking this question works wonders when I need my kids to: look up while I rinse their hair (shampoo + little eyes = HUGE fiasco); look into the camera; lift their chin so I can wipe under it; and it’s even been known to squash sibling squabbles. They forget they’re mad at each other and just think I’m an idiot who can’t blow my nose. Whatever works.
Spend Time with Your Friends: Don’t ever feel guilty about wanting to get the hell outta the house! Quality time with friends is sadly underrated. It’s about as important as any other facet of parenting because it fills us up when we’re on empty; time spent in good company (not that Mickey or Dora aren’t swell) is invigorating. The next time you’re feeling frazzled, make a date with your pals and have a few drinks, laugh until you pee, and just for a few hours, forget you have kids. You’ll return home happier and as a result, a better parent.
If none of these tips float your boat, I come bearing gifts. A couple of weeks ago, I was having a craptastic day and I posted something about parenting being SO HARD on my Facebook Page. My angel of a neighbor, who is expecting her first baby soon!!, put that poem in my mailbox. Absolute perfect timing.
Warning: you will ugly cry. Cry, and remember: one day they’ll be changing our diapers. Don’t wish away these days.
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