Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Best Test. Ready to Be a Parent?

This is not my original content, so I take no credit. And if I could find the original author, would praise this person for their brilliance and humor.  This is genius and hilarious and for those reasons, worth sharing.   I found this 11 Step Program to Prepare You For Parenthood online and it made me laugh so hard that my laughter was silent.  And that's a good laugh. These 11 Steps should be included in every "What to Expect" and baby preparation book ever written.

Enjoy and Good Luck!


Lesson 1

1. Go to the grocery store.
2. Arrange to have your salary paid directly to their head office.
3. Go home.
4. Pick up the paper.
5. Read it for the last time.

Lesson 2

Before you finally go ahead and have children, find a couple who already are parents and berate them about their…

1. Methods of discipline.

2. Lack of patience.
3. Appallingly low tolerance levels.
4. Allowing their children to run wild.
5. Suggest ways in which they might improve their child’s breastfeeding, sleep habits, toilet 
    training, table manners and overall behavior.

Enjoy it because it will be the last time in your life you will have all the answers.

Lesson 3

A really good way to discover how the nights might feel…

1. Get home from work and immediately begin walking around the living room from 5PM to

10PM carrying a wet bag weighing approximately 8-12 pounds, with a radio turned to static (or some other obnoxious sound) playing loudly. (Eat cold food with one hand for dinner.)
2. At 10PM, put the bag gently down, set the alarm for midnight and go to sleep.
3. Get up at 12 and walk around the living room again, with the bag, until 1AM.
4. Set the alarm for 3AM.
5. As you can’t get back to sleep, get up at 2AM, make a drink and watch an infomercial.
6. Go to bed at 2:45AM.
7. Get up at 3AM when the alarm goes off.
8. Sing songs quietly in the dark until 4AM.
9. Get up. Make breakfast. Get ready for work and go to work (work hard and be     

Repeat steps 1-9 each night. Keep this up for 3-5 years. Look cheerful and together.

Lesson 4

Can you stand the mess children make? To find out…

1. Smear peanut butter onto the sofa and jam onto the curtains.

2. Hide a piece of raw chicken behind the stereo and leave it there all summer.
3. Stick your fingers in the flower bed.
4. Then rub them on the clean walls.
5. Take your favorite book, photo album, etc. Wreck it.
6. Spill milk on your new pillows. Cover the stains with crayons. How does that look?

Lesson 5

Dressing small children is not as easy as it seems.

1. Buy an octopus and a small bag made out of loose mesh.

2. Attempt to put the octopus into the bag so that none of the arms hang out.

Time allowed for this – all morning.

Lesson 6

Forget the BMW and buy a mini-van. And don’t think that you can leave it out in the driveway spotless and shining. Family cars don’t look like that.

1. Buy a chocolate ice cream cone and put it in the glove compartment.

Leave it there.
2. Get a dime. Stick it in the CD player.
3. Take a family size package of chocolate cookies. Mash them into the back seat. Sprinkle cheerios all over the floor, then smash them with your foot.
4. Run a garden rake along both sides of the car.

Lesson 7

1. Go to the local grocery store. Take with you the closest thing you can find to a pre-school child. (A full-grown goat is an excellent choice). If you intend to have more than one child, then definitely take more than one goat. 
2. Buy your week’s groceries without letting the goats out of your sight. Pay for everything the goat eats or destroys. 

Until you can easily accomplish this, do not even contemplate having children.

Lesson 8

1. Hollow out a melon.
2. Make a small hole in the side.
3. Suspend it from the ceiling and swing it from side to side.
4. Now get a bowl of soggy Cheerios and attempt to spoon them into the swaying melon by pretending to be an airplane.
5. Continue until half the Cheerios are gone.
6. Tip half into your lap. The other half, just throw up in the air.

You are now ready to feed a nine-month-old baby.

Lesson 9

1. Learn the names of every character from Sesame Street, Barney, Disney, the Teletubbies and Pokemon. 
2. Watch nothing else on TV but PBS, the Disney channel or Noggin for at least five years. (I know, you’re thinking, What’s ‘Noggin’?) Exactly the point.

Lesson 10

`. Make a recording of Fran Drescher saying ‘mommy’ repeatedly. (Important: no more than a four-second delay between each ‘mommy'; occasional crescendo to the level of a supersonic jet is required). 
2. Play this tape in your car everywhere you go for the next four years. 

You are now ready to take a long trip with a toddler.

Lesson 11

1. Start talking to an adult of your choice. 
2. Have someone else continually tug on your skirt hem, shirt- sleeve or elbow while playing the ‘mommy’ tape made from Lesson 10 above. 

You are now ready to have a conversation with an adult while there is a child in the room.

(I’d love to know who wrote this so I can credit her! Or him.)

Thursday, January 15, 2015

If We Took Our Own Advice

Have you ever thought about the lessons we teach our kids, but that we ourselves don't obeyed by?

As my son hits the age when parenting evolves from just the responsibility of keeping a person alive to teaching them to be a good person, there are a lot of reflective moments. If, of course, you're willing to stop and reflect. Candidly, it wasn't until recently - when I was doling some advice out to my son that I myself actually needed - that I realized I don't heed my own advice. 

And with that, I naturally begin with, "Always stop and smell the roses." It's in Reece's baby book. The day I first said this and did this with him. One of the most cliche sayings of all time, and yet one of life's great lessons. Stop. Look around. Take in the beauty of life. Why and how did life become so busy and so important that we overlook the most simple and beautiful things? And if you won't take it from me, the modernized version of this lesson is perfectly said by our dear Ferris Bueller. "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

"Love the skin you're in." God, wouldn't it be great if we all were able to do just that? To a child, it is that simple. "Mommy said I should love myself, so I do." To my children, it's that simple. It's us adults who mess it up. It's us who tell our children one thing and promote, advertise, buy, sell, perpetuate a different standard. Why?! Wouldn't it be great if we too just loved ourselves? And one of the great gifts of having a young child is that appearance is completely irrelevant. You child doesn't care if you had your hair and make-up professionally done or if you're at the playground in your pajamas. #heaven. #dovecampaign

"Just worry about yourself. Don't worry about what your friends are doing." I cringed every time my parents said this to me and when I say this to my kids I will absolutely be thinking "So now I've officially turned into my mother." (no offense mom. I love you dearly). But how in the world do you worry only about yourself when it's the comparison of you to others that creates all the social hierarchies that start in school and follow you into adulthood? I thank my lucky stars that social media did NOT exist when I was in school. #gladtobeold

There are a countless articles about how we should talk to our daughters about their bodies. Thank goodness for those penned pieces as I will be reading all of them when the time comes. I just wish I could freeze this age - for the parents out there you know what I'm talking about. The age when after your child eats or drinks their belly is distended and sticks out as if they have a beer gut. They care nothing about it and as a parent you're proud because you did your job. You provided what filled their belly. 

And the ultimate rule of "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." Well I think we can thank social media for crushing any hopes of this lesson being one that stays with our kids past the age of 10. But wouldn't it be great if it were that easy? There wouldn't be cliques, bullying, etc. Mean Girls would just be Lindsay Lohan's last big hit, not an actual description of middle and high school girls.

I suppose the biggest challenge of all is that for every person who provides advice about what to say, there's an "expert" with an opposite point of view. So where does that leave us? Where I stand, it leaves me hoping and praying that I have enough self awareness and humility to admit to the many ways I want my kids to be better than me.

Insert enormous sigh as I have reminded myself of the enormity of the role of parent.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Never Have I Ever...

Created by kaylammeloMay 11 2013

Remember this gem of a drinking game? The ultimate social ice breaker that exposes both your freak factor and how well you can handle your booze?

The parenthood version of this game, similar to its collegiate counterpart, exposes your truths and freak factor. And let's be honest, for some of these things, you don't have to be a parent. You just have to have once been really drunk.

Never have I ever....
  1. Been peed, pooped and/or puked on. 
  2. Used my hands to catch someones puke. 
  3. Picked my kids' noses. 
  4. Ordered two Happy Meals at McDonald's. One for my kid and one for me. (Yes, I feed my child McDonald's. Judge away).
  5. Walked around my house drinking coffee from a to-go cup even though I wasn't going anywhere. 
  6. Fallen asleep before my kids. 
  7. Peed with a child on my lap. 
  8. Peed with a child on my lap and another child just watching. 
  9. Hidden in the closet just to have 30 seconds to myself. (because clearly, hiding in the bathroom isn't an option in my house)
  10. Let my toddler walk off with an uncapped marker just to see what would happen. 
  11. Saved birthday cake with the sole intention of eating it late night, not keeping it for the kids.
  12. Used my child to get out of a ticket (parking or speeding). 
  13. Taken my sweet-ass time to find a child while playing hide-n-seek. 
  14. Allowed my son to ride his scooter naked - but with a helmet - because I wasn't up for arguing about what he would wear. 
  15. Decided the five second rule should be extended to five minutes when at home. 
  16. Laughed when my child fell down.  *He wasn't hurt and I didn't laugh in his face. I just think it's generally hilarious when people fall down.
  17. Eaten Play Doh just to see what all the hype is about. 
  18. Imitated my child's tantrum in hopes of him/her realizing just how ridiculous they sound and look. *No shocker here that this experiment failed horribly.
  19. Seriously contemplated reading the book, "Go the F-ck to Sleep" to my child.
  20. Lied to my child about what happens when a child lies while reprimanding him for lying. #notmyfinestmoment.
So tell me....what have you done?!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Family vacation. Now you just have to get there.

So you're going on a trip with your kids. Generally, for those with children too young to entertain themselves for the duration of a flight or too young to be fully entertained by apps on an iPad or a movie, flights that last for more than an hour or 90-minutes can feel daunting. And that feeling is very real. 

There are some things you can do, though, to keep little hands busy and to lessen some of the stresses of air travel.  I confess upfront that there is not one trick to make the trip a success, just a need for a large back of many tricks.

Traveling with an infant:
While the process may feel overwhelming, a child who does not yet have a will to move makes for a great travel companion. Baby carrier, Sophie the giraffe, bottles, pacifiers, diapers, burp cloths, change of clothes for you and baby, etc. And remember to dress your child for easy diaper changes. Onesies with a lot of snaps tend to be more cumbersome vs. something you can quickly peel on and off!

There are a lot of great tips to be found in the Parents article about How to Fly with Baby.

Traveling with a toddler:
First off, DO NOT go to the airport without a stroller. You may think you don't want to deal with it while going through security or gate checking the item, but trust me, you will regret not having a stroller if your kids are over the age where you can tuck them into a Baby Bjorn, Ergo Carrier or the like. Even if your kid(s) prefer to walk around the airport, you can use the stroller as your mule to carry bags. You never know if a flight will be delayed or if your kid will be better served chilling out in a stroller with a toy or book vs. the sensory overload of an airport. 

Now the car seat, I get it if you prefer to rent one on the other end. The only caveat to that would be if you child isn't a good sleeper and you rely on car naps, in which case it might be worth taking your own to ensure some zzzzs if you have a long drive after your flight. As for car seats on planes, only with an infant have I seen someone use a car seat and it requires that you purchase a ticket for your little companion who otherwise flies free if on your lap (most airlines only charge a nominal fee of $50 (if anything) for a child under the age of two who sits in the lap of a ticketed adult). And some airlines will not charge you for checking a car seat, so it's less of a big deal to bring along.

Arm yourself with more treats and snacks than your child would accumulate from trick-or-treating or would consume at a birthday party. I'm not kidding.  All parenting bribes or shortcuts are forgiven when it comes to travel, or so I believe. 

On a long flight, we play "Trick-or-Treat" whereby a child - if old enough - is given an empty bag and asks us for treats. The excitement over having a treat dropped into a bag is shocking. The game usually lasts until a variety of food is doled out. Items may include mini bags of pretzels, popcorn or Goldfish, a Ring Pop (because they usually last a long time), mini M&Ms, Starburst, raisins, granola bars and cookies. The goodwill this game earns you is worth the pre-planning. And if you have a really long flight and your kid responds well to this game AND you have nice people sitting next to you on your flight, you can recruit their participation by asking if they are willing to play the game. The more the merrier when coupled with a promise that you won't then bother them again for the remainder of the flight. And your child will likely then sit back for a few minutes, rummage through the "loot" and show you everything. Next comes the contemplation of what to eat first.  As your gets a sugar high, you have a few moments to breath deeply before phase II of air travel with toddler. Of note, remember to keep a stash of treats for the return flight.

If a child requires entertainment, they must tote their own backpack and all of their stuff goes in said bag. This prevents the back and forth between kids over who has what. Not a fun game in confined space.

The backpack contains two or three favorite items from home like cars my son loves to play with or a favorite book. Then comes the good stuff. I pack a plastic pencil box with a small pad of colored paper, pens (which he never is allowed to write with at home), washable markers and boat loads of stickers.  Looking at the stickers and the time it takes for little fingers to unpeel them usually makes the arts and crafts box a hit for both kid and parent. For my daughter who is only one, a small pad of sticky notes that she can put all over the seat in front of her is usually a hit, and easy for us to quickly remove and re-use and clean-up.

Once the sugar high dulls and the stickers are no longer enough to hold my child's attention, that's when I go for gold with brand new small toys that are wrapped. The trend - from snacks that he has to unwrap to toys he must unwrap is that it takes a bit longer to get to the item. The stalling tactic just adds a few extra seconds of peaceful time mid-flight. Some of the toys I have given on flights include packages of legos (small Duplo kits or Lego Juniors), Sqwishland toy tubes (once opened, you can play with the sqwishies as they are or enter a gaming code on the company website and play a Sqwishland game online), a Disney Surprise Egg (the link is to a BuzzFeed video of adults even loving these eggs, so just imagine the excitement of a child unwrapping a chocolate covered plastic egg that has a small toy inside). I've also had a lot of success during the Thomas train loving years with their Thomas Take-n-Play toys. The track worked well for us because it fit perfectly on the tray table on the flight and it came with a train, so it was an all-in-one toy that when folded as designed, fit easily inside one of our carry-ons.

When it comes to books, with the younger traveler, you can't go wrong with lift-the-flap books such as Elmo's Big Lift and Look book or Dear Zoo.

And lastly, there are the back-up essentials. An extra set of clothes for each child. A diaper, even for the potty-trained toddler as you never know how long the line for the bathroom will be when mid-flight. Some children's Pepto because in the same vain as the bathroom line, wouldn't it suck to be mid-flight with a tummy issue suffering toddler? And Band-Aids. Always Band-Aids. Because for some reason, kids love them.

Would love to know what items you won't travel without, so please so share!

Good luck with your next trip and happy and safe travels!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Family Fun - Awesome DC Area Resource

Every weekend I try to identify special activities for the family and every weekend I turn to an awesome blog, http://kidfriendlydc.com/

Want to pass this along as it's my secret weapon to fighting off boredom and getting the kids out of their regular play routine. And with the winter weather, gone are the long days of outdoor play.

Check it out if you're looking for activities for kids big and small, or even friends and family visiting from out of town. 


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tips for Working Moms

As a mother who works outside the home full-time, there are many lessons I've learned when it comes to trying to juggle the many, many balls that are always in the air. There is also a lot of wisdom that's been imparted on me by friends and colleagues. In hopes of paying it forward, here are ten tips that I've found helpful.

At the Office:

  • Do NOT use being a parent as an excuse at work/don't play the parent card at the office. If you're late to work because of something kid related, apologize for being late, but don't make being a parent the excuse. Don't say, "I'm sorry I'm late. Things were just crazy at home today." because anyone without kids can have a crazy morning. It's just life. If you need to vent about the morning, go find a colleague who has kids.
  • Communicate with your team. If your hours will vary compared to the schedules of other team members, talk to those people and let them know your hours and how you're going to make it work that your different schedule will not create more work for them. Maybe you need to be available from home early in the morning and after you put your kids to bed. If that's the price of always being home to put your children to bed, it's worth it.
  • Remind yourself regularly that you don't have anything to prove, you just need to do your job and do your best to do it well. No one is rooting against you. No one assumes you can't be a mom and do your job. It's in your head, but I know it feels real. 
  • Don't shy away from projects and assignments because the more you are engaged at work, the more satisfied you will likely feel. And that translates to a little less mommy guilt about not being at home.
  • When you're first returning to work from  maternity leave, remember that your baby probably is asleep for half the time you're away at work. So while you may feel like you're missing a full day with your baby, you're probably only missing four awake hours and instead of doing laundry and chores around the house, you're actually eating lunch. With utensils. While sitting down.

In General:

  • Be kind to yourself. Doing the best you can doesn't translate to feeling good about everything you do everyday. One day you're doing the best you can at getting your house in order before heading to work. One day you're doing the best you can at being on time for every call and meeting. One day you're doing your best at just not falling apart. Be kind to yourself.
  • Do as much shopping as you possibly can online. And I mean as MUCH as you can. Take advantage of being able to order anything you need without having to sacrifice precious mommy time running errands. Whether it's diapers, clothing, gifts, groceries or takeout, find it online. Many companies now offer free returns and all you need to do is download a pre-paid return shipping label for anything you don't want to keep which removes some added costs of online shopping. Seasonally I will order several styles of pants in two sizes each to try on my son at home. If I took him to a store to try on clothes, not only would it take forever, there would be a lot of negotiating and bargaining. No fun. Shipping fees are worth it. And you'll probably find that many companies - diapers.com in particular - seem designed for the absent minded parent who needs diapers/products in a hurry as they deliver on a regular 1-2 day schedule. So when you're wondering how you ran out of diapers without knowing, you're not alone. There wouldn't be an entire online company that ships immediately if there weren't a lot of us ordering at the last minute.
  • Find shortcuts to things. Along the lines of online shopping, batch cook meals on Sundays to make meal time less stressful. Designate a night for takeout so you don't feel guilty for not making dinner or like a failure because you didn't get around to shopping to be able to make dinner. Instead, make it part of the "be kind to yourself" routine.
  • Find a sitter and book weekends even if you don't have plans. Friday and Saturday night sitters are hard to find so lock in the nights when they are available and build plans around those dates. And don't forget that having a sitter come in the middle of your day on a weekend might also feel heavenly. While kids take a mid-day nap or have chill time, you can run to the movies, brunch with friends, or a lunch date.
  • Buddy up with another couple for "Monitor sitting." Simple and genius and a lot less expensive than a sitter. If you have friends with kids, plan nights when you put your own kids to sleep and have a friend just come "monitor sit" while you go out. This way you're not paying a sitter to just hangout in your home while kids are asleep and there's nothing to do. Alternate weekends with your friends and you just scored yourself free babysitting.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Ode to Daylight Savings

There once was a time of year, to which I looked forward to and held dear.

A time when I would roll the clocks back an hour, the bar would stay open longer and from this night of drinking I would not cower.

I would wake up and have an extra hour in the day. A longer snooze, longer brunch, so many great options I would say.

Night would arrive sooner than I would like, but curling up to TV and takeout sure was nice.

So I welcomed this daylight savings, this gift of extra time. But then realized once I had kids, that extra hour was no longer mine.

Daylight savings I hate you, you wrecked my Sunday. My kids were up before six and wanted to play. They giggle and laugh after a full night of sleep, while I feel drunk with exhaustion and dreams of counting sheep.

Daylight savings today you're the evil twin of when we spring forward. I can't wait to lose an hour and make one day shorter.