Parenting

Insights and inspirations about parenting.

What is a “good mom”?

I saw an intriguing and thought-provoking question the other day: “What is your definition of a ‘good mom'”?

Think about that for a minute.

Take a moment to jot down what you think are the essential qualities.

At the same time, please acknowledge that parents confuse this question with the daily self critique of “not being good enough.” Why is that? I believe that we are trying to measure up to an unrealistic ideal in parenting. Not being “good enough” in this sense really means “less-than-perfect” when perfection is the way this person feels worthy as a parent.

That is where we confuse and defeat ourselves. We shortchange our kids with what they really need: us. Flawed. Imperfect. Us.

If we are so busy tearing down our best efforts because they aren’t up to some imaginary measuring stick, that is wasted energy. How is it we accept flawed, imperfect attempts by our kids (and find them adorable, by the way), but we don’t afford ourselves the same appreciation.

Stop and review the list you wrote of the things that nourish and flourish little people into healthy adults. I doubt you had on your list, “Cook a homemade healthy meal every day.” “Never raise my voice.” “Have all laundry folded neatly and put away (with socks that found their mates) all the time.” No? Well why do we get discouraged when we don’t do these?

Here are some insightful “good mom” responses from real moms who answered this questions honestly and thoughtfully. There are 20 responses and you’ll see quite a few repeated ideas. I will bold repeats to scream, “Pay attention!” It’s surprising, really, how being good enough is quite simple.

As you read, please consider if you can do these things and how to do them as often as possible. If you concentrate on these, let go of the rest and just do your best.

  1. Love your kids, apologize when you’re wrong, and do your best.
  2. A mom who never gives up on being better.
  3. Unconditional love, says sorry when necessary, teaches basic life skills like respect and kindness, the importance of good education but allowing natural consequences. And love some more.
  4. The best mom for my kids is me, not because I am anything great, but because I love them and will continue trying to do better. Today my house is a mess, my kids haven’t bathed in days, we ate pancakes for dinner, and didn’t bother doing any school work. But we did cuddle under the duvet, laughed at movies, talked about the things we love, took care of our animals and generally enjoyed each other. Tomorrow I will clean the house and they will do some work. But tonight I will have a bubble bath and restart our journey together.
  5. For me, I feel like I am being a good mom because I pack their lunches (mostly) as a tangible thing I do purely because I love them. But honestly, my kids are the ones teaching me how to be a good mom every day. Nobody has ever taught me to be a good mom other than my own children.
  6. When your kids have a nightmare, do they come to you for comfort? Do they know they know they can come to you for anything without fear or judgement? If they can, then you are a good mom.
  7. For me, I am a perfectionist. I tried so hard to be the perfect mom. I know the “gifts of imperfection” (Brene Brown) and I believe a good mom is actually imperfect, relatable, and tries to connect with an imperfect kid. I no longer even want to be perfect.
  8. Some days I want to strive to be loving, compassionate, Donna Reed, Pinterest Mom. Other days, I strive to not be a Netflix, Documentary binge-watching Mom. It’s all about balance.
  9. A mom who knows this job is crazy hard and keeps trying anyway. A mom that’s dependable, that shows kids love unconditionally, that gives them safety (emotionally, spiritually, and physically). A mom that motivates them, who is honest with them, and apologizes for her mistakes. One that is trying to prepare her kids for life all while growing with them herself. A mom that strives to teach them of their worth and of God’s love for them personally.
  10. A mom whose kids know they are loved.
  11. A mom who keeps trying. A mom who says she is sorry when she needs to. A mom who is not a doormat to her kids or anyone else. A mom who is teaching her kids how to operate in the world and she doesn’t want them being treated or treating other badly. She works to teach them to be decent by insisting they be decent to each other and to her. A mom who gives herself credit for what she’s doing right and knows where she needs to improve and is working on it.
  12. Someone doing the best they can in the circumstances they’re in–knowing full well they are not perfect but they try, they love their children and do what’s best for them. Every bit of good we do for our family is good.
  13. Do my kids know I love them? Yes they do. So I am a good mom.
  14. Who loves her kids and tries.
  15. Loves her children unconditionally, teaches them to be independent and have good self esteem, is a good example, teaches them that she is human and mistakes and owns up to them and apologizes.
  16. Being present.
  17. One who gives time. One who teaches. One who cries with her kids and doesn’t always give into all their demands but teaches instead of consequences. One who is true to herself and doesn’t try to be someone else. At the end of the day, giving and loving is what kids want most.
  18. Someone who love her child and keeps trying even when she fails.
  19. A mom who loves her children and herself (so important!) as Christ would. A mom who welcomes imperfection and never gives up.
  20. Anyone who has had three or more hours of sleep.

I encourage you to add the bolded words to the list you made. When we boil all down this messy work of parenting, it comes down to these few things. “Welcomes imperfection” is one of my favorite phrases. What a GOOD thing to strive for each day.

Helping Children Achieve Their Goals

It’s a good time to visualize a better future. Having so many restrictions in our lives during the coronavirus stay-at-home quarantine helps us appreciate what we can do when we’re able to again.

For one, I can’t WAIT to go back to the fitness center and swim again. It’s a small wish, but oh, how I’ve missed doing it.

We were going to take our son our our traditional family “senior trip,” the one where we let our high school senior child dream, plan, and do with us. We’d been dreaming and planning on a trip to Iceland for the past year. We were supposed to be there this week. It would be our last senior trip with our last child.

Ya. That isn’t happening. Rather than seeing waterfalls and Blue Lagoon geothermal mineral spa, we’re visiting the family room, bathroom and, for some new scenery, the kitchen sink.

We’re not letting that get us down (not too much). As my friend said, our dreams right now are not cancelled, just postponed.

You might have heard of Dream Boards. Some call them “Vision Boards” because they help us envision, or tangibly see what we want. They can help us visualize goals. It would be a great activity to do as a family while stuck at home. Help our children see what are the possibilities of a post-coronavirus life. A dream depends on hope; a hope is a lifeline to a brighter tomorrow. What do you miss and want to see yourself doing again in the near future?

Here are some pictures I could post on my board:

Swimming.

Hugging people, shaking hands, and being close again.

Dressing up to go to a nice event (I’ve forgotten how to put on mascara).

Travel. Anywhere.

Eating at a restaurant.

Going to a sporting event and cheering loudly with thousands of others, all crammed together with reckless abandon.

Going back to a classroom with a real, live teacher who is being paid a billion dollars.

Attending church.

Buying food and supplies and finding them well stocked on shelves.

But what do we do beyond just staring at those pictures of the physically fit person we want to be or the vacation we want to take?

Here’s a interview I did on the Matt Townsend show on BYU radio. After the first interview (about 1 hour) I follow on the topic of on Doing Not Dreaming. Matt and I talk about helping our children achieve their goals.

Listen now. http://www.byuradio.org/episode/73c676d7-0f84-4985-a6cf-ff863abc763a/the-matt-townsend-show-doing-not-dreaming

19 Favorite Covid-19 Memes

In honor of the novel coronavirus that is named “Covid-19”, I have collected 19 of my favorite memes that lighten things up at this serious time.

  1. I once babysat some kids when their parents left on an oversees trip for 2 weeks. One of their instructions was to count off a certain number of squares of toilet paper for the kids (#1 and #2 had different amounts as I recall) when they used the toilet. My parents had never thought of such a thing in our house and I was quite dumbstruck by the practice of T.P. rationing. I’m not anymore. IMG_2350 (002)

2.  This next one is all-too-true. I went to Costco one day and got there before it opened at 10:00 a.m. The store had opened early and I could see a line of shoppers with carts that wrapped around the side to the back of the building. Call me crazy, but I got in that line. It felt like the “Indiana Jones” ride at Disneyland without the ride at the end. People were a bit frantic and pushing their way in the store. I couldn’t believe it. All that, and there was no toilet paper or baby wipes! I then went to Winco and there wasn’t a line, but EVERY SINGLE shopping cart and red basket was being used inside the store. I couldn’t put my groceries in anything. There were 2 lines to the checkout stands, each wrapping around the sides of the store and ending in the back, by the dairy or fish counter. I stood in line for 45 minute with my little handful of items before I could pay for them.

 

IMG_2349I made some nice friends, standing in the line for so long. One guy offered to put my groceries in his cart so I didn’t have to hold them. He said he was looking for ways to be extra nice to people during this stressful time. He reminded me we all have a choice and hardship can bring out the best or the worst in us. I choose best. My neighbors have been texting each of us to see who needs anything from the store if they are going out. It’s so heart-warming to see how we take care of each other (with or without the WW II gas mask outfit)

IMG_2347 (002) 3. Who’s with me on this? I can’t believe how often I touch my face. If I hear the words, “Don’t touch your face,” my nose immediately starts to itch.

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4. I love Tom Hanks and the movies he makes. Some have compared him to a modern-day Jimmy Stewart. A class act and an every-day man. I find it not a coincidence that this ordinary man who played “Mr. Rogers” could get the Covid-19 virus. He is just like us: he bleeds like us and gets sick like us. I am truly sorry he and his wife are under quarantine. I wish them a full recovery.

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5. Funny how his movies all tend to be about catastrophes while traveling.

 

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6. Speaking of travel. Just don’t. This is a floating cesspool of germs. I don’t know how the cruiseline industry (or airline/hotel/restaurant/rental car, for that matter), will survive. This virus will have such long-reaching, economically devastating effects. I had to cancel a family trip to Iceland for spring break and my son, who was going to China this summer to teach English, will miss out on that opportunity too. This has changed everything. Which brings me to how I feel about everything with the next meme:

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7. Earth is closed today. And every day for who-knows-how-long.

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8. I’m not whining though. That meme reminds us how others have been through terrible times. We are not anywhere near that category. So what if I can’t find milk or T.P. on the store shelves? We are not starving. We are not in a war. Life is good.

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9. Yes, this.

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10. This one cracks me up. So do the next ones. IMG_2338

11. Bring Your Own Toilet Paper.

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12. I totally watched “Scooby Doo” as a kid. It was the ultimate reveal at the end when it was discovered that “Old Man Withers” or some other nefarious person had masterminded the appearance of a ghost. Now we know the culprit is the T.P. industry. They are making a mint off this.

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13. Or maybe it’s Dolores Umbridge who’s behind this. I wouldn’t put it past her. She was creepy mean in that movie.

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14. Since I love “Harry Potter” so much I had to put this in here too.

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15.  And I also like “Jumanji” so this one made the list. It did feel a little like a cosmic trick being played on us. To add insult to injury, those of us living in Utah had an 5.7 earthquake during the quarantine. I’m just waiting for the rhinos to come stampeding through.

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16. Such weirdness…it’s like all these random acts all spawned from an ADHD child’s imagination.

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17. Speaking of kids, we are acting like them these days. We are having to learn the basics again of how to wash our hands? C’mon, people, this is what we should have been doing all along.

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18. As a Utahan, this one was classic.

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19. Hope you got a good laugh today. We all need it to help clear our minds and put things in perspective.

Here’s a bonus one just because it’s too good not to share.

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Stay safe. Stay well.

Re-connect with those you love…

In groups smaller than 10

And at a social distance of 6 feet or more

And after you’ve washed your hands for 20 seconds…

Covid-19 Parenting 101

Looks like we’re all going to be home with our kids for a while.

Steady.

Let’s all sit down and take a deep breath.

This news may be more intimidating and stressful for parents who are used to sending their kids to school for others to teach, keep from fighting, and chase boredom away.

“Social distancing” is another catch phrase for “You can’t play with friends so you’re stuck with me.”

Now it’s our turn. It’s 24/7 Covid19 Parenting Time. Desperate times call for desperate measures. We’ve got to be as creative as an elementary school teacher, as entertaining as Nickelodeon, and enticing as a vending machine.

My cousin is a fabulous parent of four. She uses the outdoors to teach her kids a healthy respect for nature and books and other materials to teach them how to use their minds. She came up with this chart to schedule learning and keep everyone on track while they are out of public school. Notice how they helped.

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Do you remember the daily schedule your 5th grade teacher had on the board? Rather than falling into boredom and brain atrophy, why not keep the daily schedule going at home? Kids may resist at first, but you never know. If you let them come up with a reasonable schedule and goals, it may just catch fire.

Plus, did you see the win-win? She has them up and doing chores first thing. Yay for this clever mom sneaking that in.

P.S. Her name is “Sara” and “Rob” is her husband. I want to give her props for including him on house duties so the kids see their dad pitching in as well.

Here’s another generic chart that you could start with. But personalize it to your family so they are all creating their own learning plan. Home school kids do this every day.

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This schedule was also posted by a parent who took a more realistic approach to her “home school schedule”

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Does that resemble yours? Or maybe, by default, your day will look more like this:

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Being real is my thing (see book I wrote on home page). However, life shouldn’t unravel to the point that we give completely up. The little terrorist shouldn’t win. We are, after all, still in charge. Check your driver’s license and remind yourself who is the adult.

This time of quarantine may just be a wake-up call that we needed to have more structure to begin with. It’s hard to go from zero to hero in a matter of weeks.

Baby steps, people.

Start somewhere. Anywhere.

I suggest having a 1:1 ratio of media to learning if you need for younger kids. For every hour of school or subject study at home, children can to do either 1 hour of earned outdoor/physical play or 1 hour of “free” time (translate: media) or anything they want to do for fun like crafting, playing a board game or with toys. They have to alternate the physical play with media play.

I know, it’s going to be hard. T.P. may run out and you’ll have to start being creative.

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Just remember that school and public events and gatherings are cancelled (what, no Disneyland?) but kindness is not cancelled. Family fun is not cancelled. Laughter and jokes are not cancelled.  This may be a wake-up call and opportunity to give your child the one on one time with you that they’ve been missing.

 

 

“Childhood is Short; Maturity is Forever”

I’ve been studying research about children’s inability or difficulty in expressing their feelings. Part of this is developmental, the other part is experience and learning. In many cases, when a child is out of control (for no apparent reason), the best thing to do is to say, “I see you. This must be hard,” and wrap them up in your protective arms. They feel frightened, out of control, and need to feel safe again. They need emotional connection.

Just this week I was reminiscing about a daughter who had frequent melt downs as a toddler. I tried my best, but sometimes, I just let her be. I have a vivid memory of her sitting at the top of the stairs, bawling uncontrollably. What I wouldn’t do to go back in time, scoop her up in my arms, and rock her until she calmed down. I have this regret, and I will never get that moment back.

Childhood is short.

Being a parent ends quickly.

Eat Halloween candy together.

Take a son or daughter out of school to go on your own “field trip” to the park, a museum, or to a foreign country.

Run through summer sprinklers.

Wrap them up in your arms because too soon you’ll be letting go.

 

What is your mom superpower?

Being a mom or dad automatically endows you with superpowers. It’s like the hospital you enter and come out with a baby has turned into the X-Men School for Gifted People and you come out with extra powers as well.

I call it your Sixth Sense.

You need it to survive as a parent. Time is shredded into ribbons and nano seconds when you’re a parent and you need to get things done fast or more efficiently.  You need to feed 4 people dinner on a dollar and grow eyes on the back of your head.

To substantiate this theory, I turn to real parents who spill the truth about their extrasensory perceptions. These are actual “superpowers” that moms all over the nation have claimed as their own:

Keeping kids clothes clean, which is a killer power especially with baby bibs and clothes with that get stained with puke and poop every day.

Always knowing exactly why a baby is crying: hungry/tired/gassy/poopy, and not just her own baby, but ANY baby!

Knowing something is about to grow mold in the refrigerator. Smelling it before it goes bad.

Impeccable timing at restaurants where she arrives to orders at the counter just before the crowd comes in.

Keeping a baby happy on a 10-hour flight. Now THAT’S a superpower we can all appreciate!

Knowing someone is pregnant before it’s announced, and being able to predict the due date within a week.

Always finding the best bargain. Like, it doesn’t exist unless it’s within budget.

Putting a fussy baby to sleep. Not just her own baby, but ANY baby. Best superpower ever!

Knowing it’s about the rain. “Kids come inside, it’s about to rain.” And then it does.

While breastfeeding, she can: go to the bathroom, successfully make and eat a turkey wrap, do the dishes, drive the car (don’t tell anyone that!), or sleep.

Never burns food but never sets a kitchen timer. She can always smell when something is ready to take out of the oven. Wow. I’m speechless on that one.

Picking ripe produce.

Going to the bathroom in 15 seconds flat.

Extracting a foreign object deeply embedded in a child’s nasal cavity.

Folding fitted sheets nice and flat like the flat sheets. That’s almost Wizard superpowers.

Reaching anything in the backseat from the front seat like Elastagirl.

Knowing direction after only having been there once before. Being able to navigate big cities and new places easily.

Push a double stroller through revolving doors, down narrow grocery isles, etc.

Being a bloodhound. If there’s an off smell in the house, she can find it. Anywhere!

Not feeling like retching when watching a child throw up.

Knowing the sex of kids before the ultrasound.

Having the supersonic hearing of Bat Girl or a Vampire. The most important is the picking up on sound of silence. Knowing the minute all is quiet, something is wrong in the house and the kids are up to mischief.

Getting the close parking spot.

Really good at eating any chocolate in the house.

Being able to make anything from just tasting it once.

Directing/supervising a toddler in the house while taking a shower.

Picking the exact size container for leftovers.

Can smell when people have cavities.

Can wake up at an exact time without an alarm, even when at different times.

Super good reflexes. Like catching a baby the minute they squirrel out of a grocery cart or high chair, or an egg that rolls off the counter, catching in midair. Pretty much elevated to Jedi powers, this one.

Making a full, nutritious meal out of nothing, just a few random items in the frig and pantry.

Staying sane when the house is falling apart all around her.

Really good at building IKEA furniture…and liking it! Just try this once and you’ll see that this is definitely a superpower.

Never being out of clean underwear for children.

Being a single mom. Every day that is a superpower.

Knowing the temperature of a child just by kissing their forehead.

Really good at sleeping. Amen, to that one.

Superhero Woman Supermom Cartoon character Vector illustration

Superhero Woman Supermom Cartoon character Vector illustration T-shirt design

 

What you water grows: Part 1

You can find plenty of parents out there on social media who gripe about being parents. Sure, being a mom or dad is hard. If you’re a stay-at-home parent who has these little critters 27/4, the messy days, lack of sleep, and wearing down of nerves is a real thing. I’ve been there. I get it.

However, as a social scientist and family studies expert, I also believe in the power of “what you water grows.” It’s a scientifically proven principal, and as a lover of gardening, it’s a law of nature I can count on as well. What this means is:

  • Every interaction or relationship has an 80/20 ratio.
  • About 80% of that person is what you love and, in the case of your spouse, the reason why you married them. Then there’s the 20% of what you don’t love so much, perhaps is even a bit annoying, and is a reminder that no none’s perfect (including the 20% in ourselves, mind you!).
  • What you focus on gets more of your attention. I can see the roses or the thorns…it’s my choice.
  • What gets more of your attention is reinforced in your mind, as well as in the other person or thing.
  • If I see the rose, I find beauty and am filled with gratitude, love, and appreciation.
  • If I look for and find the best in the other person, I will find it. If I look for and find the weaker parts, or thorns, in the other person, I will find that too.
  • If I continue to look for and reinforce the weaknesses in another person, the 20% in them inflates to eventually becoming the 80% and I feel completely justified in hating them, being dissatisfied, disgusted, or feeling justified in my removal of love (water) and acceptance of them.

Children and their parents have about an 80/20 relationship principle as well.  I can tell you from raising five babies to teenagers, that they stink, are moody, or contrary at least 20% of the time. But if you can look beyond the crazy hairstyles, acne, and sullenness, you’l find pretty remarkable, talented, loving, funny, smart, social, delightful human beings. I’ve enjoyed every stage of life with them. Each is my favorite.

Click on this image and say aloud what is the first thing you see.

Because of the darker images, usually our eyes are drawn to the bats or demons, as the artist Escher wanted. But look at it again, and stare for a while at the white spaces. Coming into focus, when we really concentrate, are angels.

In every person, there is both, good and bad, light and dark. It’s our choice to look past the things that are of no lasting consequence in our children and spouses and quiet down that voice that wants to criticize. Instead, sit still. Be calm. Focus on the light and the white spaces between. See what angels are brilliantly waiting to emerge and for us to embrace them.

And then water, water, water.

 

 

 

Out of the Mouth of Parents

Boogers

There’s this expression, “Out of the mouth of babes” that has been adopted into our vocabulary to illustrate the wise, wonderful things young children say. Recently, I heard from parents on social media that the things their kids do will cause them (the parents) to say the most outlandish things. Things they would never have imagined saying in their pre-parent (sane) life, the time when they said and did mature, intelligent, socially-acceptable public acts like, “Pass me the Grey Poupon, would you please?” Behind private doors is another matter when you are raising an untamed, uncouth child and hope to one day present it to the world as a genteel adult with manners that won’t make you cringe.

As I’ve always said, pushing each child out into the world caused me to burst a few million brain cells, never to be recovered. I have lost my memory and my mind. I have said some of the most ridiculous things such as, “Don’t stir the toilet with your toothbrush.” As one mother shared, “When I said, ‘Come here and let me smell your butt,’ I knew my life had become very weird.”

Here’s a short list of weird things parents have said to their children:

Don’t stand on your sister

Don’t lick the cupboard

The cat doesn’t wear lipgloss

Please stop licking your shoe

Don’t touch his butthole

No peeing on people (or the sink, the bike tire, or the porch)

Don’t fart on your brother’s head

Get out of the dishwasher

Don’t put your feet in the donut box

Don’t start with the flamethrower

No, you may not bite my toe

No, honey, his boy parts are not jingling; that’s just keys in his pocket

Poop is NOT mud for your monster truck

Stop dancing with the vacuum

Don’t throw up on your sister

No, the cat does not want your dirty diaper

How many times have I told you; you can’t poop in the backyard

Don’t drink the bathwater your brother peed into

You need to wear underwear to the dinner table

Please don’t stab your sister with a pirate sword during dinner

Don’t poke the dog’s eyeballs with a fork

Quit gagging yourself

Why did you give the TV a bath?

Stop eating leaves; you’re not a dinosaur

Don’t pick your sister’s nose

You can’t wear hats as shoes

Don’t take a picture/video of your poop

Stop pulling your brother’s penis

Stop sword fighting with your penises

Don’t smother your brother in the couch

Why did you poop on the floor?

We do not feed the baby our boogers

Get your head out of my butt

Don’t fill up your pants with Legos

We don’t high five strangers

Cats don’t like having stickers put on them

Honey, please don’t play with daddy’s wee wee; he’s trying to go potty

Don’t eat food that was in your underwear

I just want to poop in peace

Yes, your poop comes out of a hole in your butt

We don’t talk about our vaginas to people in the store

What happened to the other half of the hair gel?

Only pick your own nose, honey

Don’t wipe your boogers on your sister

We don’t eat things that move

Stop slapping your [bare] booty and get dressed! Yes, I know it makes a cool sound but we have to go to church

Stop drinking out of the toilet

Don’t hammer your sister

Stop sharing your breakfast with the chicken/Get the goat off the trampoline/Stop biting the dog

Gross, stop putting your toes in your nose

Why are you on the counter…naked…eating cupcakes?

Get the toilet seat off your head

I know what poo looks like; you don’t need to show me

We don’t drive cars on our penis

Why is there a box of Pop Tarts in the shower?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keep ‘Em Safe Out There!

 

A few years ago, I wrote for WalletHub magazine when they came calling for experts to comment on an issue. I am no expert in finance by any stretch of the imagination, so why in the world did a money management business magazine request something from me? I’ll never know. Maybe it had to do with the fact that the topic was about Halloween and kids and well…that’s something I know a little about.

I guess they kept my name on file because they emailed me for another contribution to their upcoming Halloween issue. Here is the final product with my mug in it. If you want to skip reading the article, here is what I wrote plus a little more (no extra charge!)

  • What measures should parents take to ensure their kids are safe when trick-or-treating?

If children Trick or Treat in groups, there should be at least one responsible adult or older sibling who knows how to keep young children safe when crossing streets, approaching doorways, and knowing a familiar walking route. One of the primary dangers of Halloween is being hit by a car. Kids should never run ahead of the group or their parent, but instead, stay together. Use designated sidewalks and cross walks, obey pedestrian lights, and be sure the driver makes eye contact with you before crossing in front of a car.

Attach a piece of reflective tape somewhere on their costume or bag. Children also love to wear glow sticks and this doubles for being seen better at night. The leader of the group should also carry a flashlight. It’s always a safe practice when your child is out in public to write your phone number on their palm or inner arm with a permanent marker, or pin it to their costume.

Although many costumes include masks, it’s much more safe to paint on your child’s face so their eyesight is not limited by two tiny eye holes. Many schools prohibit masks anyway, so avoid buying or making masks and opt in for decorative non-toxic face painting instead. Speaking of costumes, check the fabric to see if it’s flame resistant and that accessories (like a knife or sword) have a soft or blunt end.

Go through your child’s candy (not to eat the good stuff!) to make sure all pieces are individually wrapped. No hard candy should be given to a child who might choke and be sure to check for food allergies.

Check out where registered sex offenders live before sending older kids out to Trick or Treat on their own so they do not go near those houses. Older children should each carry a cell phone and discuss a plan for “what ifs” and a reasonable time to be off the streets.

  • What are some healthy treats or nontraditional goodies that kids might actually enjoy?

It’s hard to compete with good, old fashioned candy as a Trick or Treat reward. Kids don’t usually drool over apples and carrots and this healthy switcheroo will definitely not get you nominated for Best Parent in the Neighborhood. But surprisingly, here are eight sure-fire rewards that kids won’t throw immediately into the trash when they get home. They may even enjoy them long after the candy is devoured (and stomachache ensues).

“Super” or Bouncy balls. Who doesn’t love them? They are popular at any age and they even come in “glow in the dark” which is cool for Halloween.

Natural Fruit Leather. A healthy, naturally sweet alternative to candy.

Stickers, especially if they are high quality. Have a variety so the kids can choose their favorites.

Mini flashlights. They can be ordered in bulk to bring the cost down and they are a bonus for keeping kids safe while they Trick or Treat at night.

Fake Mustaches. What a fun and silly way to celebrate dressing up.

Glow Sticks. Here’s another “treat” that doubles for a wearable item to keep kids more visible and safe while they safely Trick of Treat.

Individual-Sized Popcorn or Pretzel Bags.

Mini Playdough. I’ve never seen a child turn this down. You’ll get “oohs” and “aahs” for sure with this one. Maybe ever Parent of the Year.

No More Monkeys

Does bed time with your kids look more like a crime scene than a sweet dream? Unlike adults, little units seem to get more wound up as the sun goes down. They save all their energy and mischief for the night time, like gnomes or witches.

Comedian Jim Gaffigan once said that kids act like they’ve never been put to bed… EVERY day. “Bed? What’s that? I don’t want to go to bed.” It’s like the movie “Groundhog Day” but every night.

Speaking of movies, there was a fabulous FB post by exhausted parents who suffer this routine every night. They all posted a movie title that best describes putting their kids to bed. And it doesn’t end well or look like this:

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The Series of Unfortunate Events

The Long Kiss Goodnight

The Remains of the Day

Catch Me If You Can

Girl, Interrupted

Awakenings

Never Let Me Go.

The Negotiator

Most nights? Much Ado About Nothing. (With a generous amount of drama that Shakespeare would have been proud of) The especially bad night? 10 Things I Hate About You.

Insomnia (she is currently belting out show tunes and jumping on her bed).

The Crying Game

Something’s Gotta Give

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (I have 3 😉 )

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (me trying to sneak out after she is asleep)

The Fast and The Furious.

The Never Ending Story

The Sound and the Fury

She’s Not That into You

It Comes at Night

Hellraiser

In and out (of bed numerous times)

The Perfect Storm

The Greatest Showman

Never Back Down

The Hunger Games (mainly because they are all suddenly starving)

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Sleepless in Seattle.   🤣

Fight Club

The Big Sleep (mine are teenagers)

Scream. And Scream 2

Superman (my husband runs the routine. My hero.)

Good Night and Good Luck

The Parent Trap

Infinity War

Up

Mission Impossible

PS I Love You

There Will Be Blood

True Lies

Night of the Living Dead

Boss Baby

The Zookeeper’s Wife

Kill Me Now

Get Out

Return of the Mummy (every freaking 30 seconds!!!!)

From Dusk till Dawn

The Great Escape

Throw Mamma From the Train

Where the Wild Things Are

Lost In Space

Morning sequel: The Walking Dead.

Dances with Wolves

Eyes Wide Shut

Silence of the Lambs

Darkest Hour

Nightmare on Elm Street.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Zombieland

The Final Showdown

Dazed and Confused

From Dusk Till Dawn

Oh….if I weren’t laughing so hard I would be crying in pity. Have you seen this time lapse video of a mom of three kids sleeping in bed? Warning: it’s painful to watch and earns the movie title, “Sleeping With the Enemy.” You know, one of the ways they tortured prisoners of war was to deprive them of sleep AND play high pitched noises. Hmmm. No wonder we become babbling idiots, willing to hand over the nuclear missile launch codes or at least give in to whatever demands our children make. One more cookie? Sure. Have three. Another glass of water? I’ll be your waiter for the evening.