In praise of lazy parenting days…

Most days I’m that mom with the schedule. The one who is timing how much television my kid watches so it doesn’t exceed two hours. We eat healthy meals and we play outside. We read books, we play with toys. We go to daycare or the pool or the library…we’re busy, engaged, blah blah blah.

And then some days it all goes to hell, and there goes the schedule, folks. We eat Cheetos…lots of Cheetos. So many Cheetos. Okay, the whole damn bag of Cheetos. The tv is on for too long.  I’m on my phone looking at Instagram and Pinterest for longer than I should be. Side note: So many cute mason jar crafts that I’ll never do, but still, *swoon* at how adorbs they are.

It’s just a totally unstructured day and it’s perfect and gives us the mental break we need.

Those types of days happen a couple times a month and I’ve stopped beating myself up about them.

You know those days where you go to work at the office (or remember back to when you worked at an office) and the whole day goes off the rails and you get zero done? You basically just socialize all day and at the end you’re like “What the hell just happened?”

Well, Cheetos and TV days are like that for stay at home parents.

Look, it’d be great if we could all be perfect parents, but we’re not. None of us are. We’re all striving for “perfect” – whatever that means. It’s exhausting. Sometimes I need a break from all of it and so does my kid. There are loads of completely unscientific articles (like this one, this one, and this kid-specific one) explaining the benefits of a lazy day.

Next time you’re having a lazy day, roll with it. No guilt. No worries. Just Cheetos and pajamas and sitting on the couch with your littles. Just do it. Or, rather, just don’t do anything.

Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

 

Potty Training Impatience

Are you a relaxed parent? I am. I’d like to say I’m this way because I’m so awesome, but no. I’m this way because I have a child with a stubborn streak like a grumpy attorney. Push him too hard and he digs in…he knows I’m trying to manipulate him and no freaking way, is that happening on his watch.

I’m not saying I let him go off and play in traffic and binge on candy all day. I just mean that when I try to push the timeline on milestones, it doesn’t go well for anyone involved.

Now, I hesitate to use the word stubborn, because I think potty training is something that is age and maturity dependent. Guidance helps, but if they aren’t ready, then sometimes they simply aren’t ready. “Stubborn” indicates some level of intent.

For some kids, they aren’t being stubborn, they’re just learning on their own timeline.

And for some kids, it means they’ve realized that the ability to take a leak literally anywhere, at anytime, is not something that should be easily given up. I can’t blame them.

But back to my tiny, grumpy attorney: If you have a kid like this, you know what I mean. Some might call them “spirited” or “strong-willed” or “a good reason to day drink”.

Potty training has been a real test of this forced-relaxation parenting style of mine. I’m fortunate that Little Dude is not in daycare, so we didn’t have some hard and fast deadline to meet for potty training. Pretty sure we wouldn’t have made it. Bless you parents who are able to/have to meet such deadlines. I salute you.

That said, he’s at the older end of the potty training timeline. And while I try not to compare my child to other children, I’m totally comparing my child to other children. A lot of them are in underwear. But I’ve also noticed that a lot of the kids in underwear are having potty accidents on the regular, which leads me to believe that there are a lot more older-ish toddlers who are still working on potty training.

Note to smug potty training parents: if your kid is wearing underwear but is having accidents daily, they aren’t potty trained. Sorry to piss in your cornflakes.

I’ve spoken to some older parents who also had stubborn potty trainers and they’ve assured me that one day using the toilet just “clicked” for their kids and none of their 40-year-olds are still using pull-ups or diapers. So, there’s that.

I really, really want to get to this child fully potty trained but I’m trying not to force the issue. This isn’t the topic I want to fight with my kid about. I’m saving that angst for things like a shitty girlfriend or choosing a useless college major. So, after many phases of potty training including:
– guiding to the potty every hour
– potty seats everywhere
– no pants or pull-ups in the house

We’re at: BRIBERY.

Pee in the potty consistently, small human, and the key to the kingdom will be yours. Or, pretty much every Paw Patrol toy in Wal-mart will be yours. Because the cost savings of no longer buying pull-ups and nighttime diapers will more than cover the toys.

Do I think parenting by bribery is a good thing? No, definitely not.

Am I proud of this decision? Just a little bit.

We’ll see how it goes. He starts high school in about 11 years, so we’ll definitely have this potty thing on lock by then.

You can always find the mothers…

I recently had the joy of dealing with a nuclear-level toddler melt down in the middle of a fairly nice restaurant. And by nice restaurant I mean they had cloth napkins and a hipster bartender.

In defense of the Little Dude, we sort of set him up for the perfect storm. We had been on a long car ride home after nearly two weeks away. We were all hungry and all tired and it was dinner time. While Little Dude hung in there as long as he could, he just couldn’t take much more.

After eating a lot of fast food, we decided to stop in a restaurant with printed menus and an actual wait staff. That, too, was probably too much to expect, but we had high (and naive) hopes. We ordered our food and then I took Little Dude to the bathroom for a diaper change. Then it happened – there was an automatic soap dispenser, and he couldn’t get enough of it. Such wizardry!

There was only one bathroom and we couldn’t be in there all day, so I pulled him away from the bathroom as he started to scream. I saw our waitress (who mentioned she was a mother of five herself) go into high-speed food delivery mode, employing two bus boys to get our plates to us. But it was too late. Little Dude was tired, hungry, and wanted liquid soap dispensed via the magic motion-detecting soap dispenser. I felt my lips purse to the point that I thought I was going to suck my lips and cheeks clear off my face. As he arched his back and screamed, I felt my face flush red and I looked across the dining room to see four or five heads pop up – some with looks of understanding, some worried, some wondering if I was about to beat my child because I clearly looked like I was about to go insane. They were the mothers. And I could tell they all got it. They all had been there. (The hipster bartender scowled at us, by the way.)

I made my way to the door with him, hissing at The Sarge, “We’re going outside, I’m not going to let this happen in here”.

We went out the front door in a screaming, shushing flurry, and I put Little Dude on a bench. His tantrum immediately ended. He saw a mailbox and went to play hide and seek behind it. To the casual onlooker, I held a conversation with a giant blue mailbox for about 15 minutes.

Finally, I asked, “Are you hungry? Because I’m hungry. But we have to sit and be good in the restaurant, okay?” And he nodded, and we went back inside. He gobbled at his spaghetti and declared he was done, so The Sarge took him back outside. The waitress re-appeared, touched my shoulder and asked, “Are you okay?” It was the kindest thing anyone could have done for me in that moment. One mom just checking in on another in the most gentle way possible. I said yes, asked for the bill, and left a big tip.

I learned a valuable lesson in how not to set us all up for failure and unavoidable hunger-related tantrums. I’m also glad that in a moment of what felt like a parenting fail I experienced a moment of kindness from a stranger. Note to self: Return the favor…again and again.

Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash

The best parenting advice I’ve ever been given

So, I want to share the best parenting advice I’ve ever been given. Forgive me for being a hypocrite. I don’t like when people give me unsolicited parenting advice. Who does, really? Let’s face it, usually when someone gives parenting advice there is some small strain of superiority involved. However, there are some people I listen to because a) they know their stuff and b) they aren’t a smug know-it-all.  In this case, my friend J is a Montessori school teacher and most certainly not a smug know-it-all. She gave me this advice, and it’s been pretty helpful. Here it is:

Tell your kid what to do, not what not to do.

Wut? You know, when your kid is kicking you and you yell “STOP THAT!” and they just keep. on. kicking. Well, I still say “STOP THAT!” (because, human nature) when Little Dude is kicking the crap out of me, but then I follow up with:
“What do we do with our feet? What do we do with our legs? We jump! We walk! We run! But we don’t kick! Tell me, what do we do with our feet?”
And then he usually chimes in with his own list of things that he should do with his feet and is so distracted trying to think of things he stops kicking.

Another example is when Little Dude is drawing on, say, the dog. So I say, “Hey! We draw on the easel! We draw on paper! Let’s go back to the easel!” 

At first, I thought this was utter crap.

It didn’t work the first few times. Then one day, Little Dude, dear sweet boy that he is, was kicking the dog. So I said “Stop that, please! What do we…” and before I could finish he said “We jump! We run!” and he ran to get his toy from the other room. Whoa.

Do you know what all of your electronic stuff does?

I’m asking because I figured out why J’s advice works. It works because your kid, my kid, they’re like what, 2 or 3 years old? Newsflash – they’re working with new equipment. And what happens when you get new equipment? It takes time to learn all the bells and whistles. It takes time to learn when to use the features in the right place at the right time. Like when your friend gets an iPhone and insists on Facetiming you when they’re in a public place. (Most times, inappropriate. Do not do. We Facetime from home or private places!) It takes time to learn about new equipment…whether it’s your smart tv, your iPhone, or those new arms and legs that you just recently learned how to control. Kids need to hear what to do with all that stuff, not just what not to do.

Disclaimer: It doesn’t always work.

Mostly, I’ve had positive success with this advice. But, I’m not sure if you’ve heard, kids don’t always do what we want them to do. So, yeah, it doesn’t always work. When it doesn’t work, I usually say something like, “Since you don’t want to use the markers on the easel or paper, I’m going to put them over on the easel for now, and we can do something else for a while.” While the now-blue dog looks at me thankfully. Little Dude is starting to get that he should probably do what you’re supposed to do or we have to move on to a new activity or we have to stop for a time-in. As he’s getting older, he’s getting it.

What has been the best parenting advice you’ve been given?

Photo by Andrew Branch on Unsplash