Tuesday, July 16, 2013

10 Things I Do As A Parent That I Know I Shouldn't But Do Anyway

I had it all figured out. I read all the baby books. I did the research on parenting methods. I was going to be the best mom ever and I had a perfect plan. And then I became a mom. I realized that baby books only tell you so much. I discovered through practical application that parenting methods are not one size fits all. My plan was riddled with holes. I am a mom that lives in the real world. To my surprise, the real world doesn't follow neat plans and schedules. The real world screws up good intentions. So, I improvise. My "parenting plan" has very few "I'll nevers" or "I'll always." My plan is fluid and evolves as my kids grow. I also do some things that I know I shouldn't, but I do anyway, just to make it through the day.

Photo Credit: www.someecards.com

1. I bribe my kids. We have a deal, the kids and I. If they get up each morning during the week and get ready without tantrums, constant reminders to brush their teeth or brush their hair, I give them a candy bar each Friday. I can hear the dentist cringe. While grocery shopping, I sweeten the deal with those free cookies from the bakery. I owe each kid a brand new car on their sixteenth birthday for potty training before they entered high school. I let them stay up late if they let me sleep in.

2. I talk about saving the earth and going green, yet I have been known to wash the same load of laundry four times in one week because I forgot to take it out of the washing machine before it soured. I've also re-dried the same load of laundry left in the dryer several times to get the wrinkles out. I used disposable diapers and I have failed to teach my kids not to use a whole roll of toilet paper in a single bathroom visit. I take long hot showers to hide from my kids when I have nowhere else to go.

3. Fast food for dinner? Yeah, we have it more than I care to admit. Something about the summer makes me not want to use the oven. Or plan meals. Or wash dishes. I swear I'll start preparing healthy, home cooked meals. Tomorrow. Next week. Eventually.

4. My youngest daughter learned to sing and read her ABC's by watching T.V.

5. I have yet to throw away a single toy that was not put away before bedtime. I have not followed through on lifetime groundings. The kids laugh at me when I tell them I'm selling them to the gypsies. We're still in the age where punishments include time out, early bedtimes, no TV... it's still pretty effective. I know. I'm lucky.

6. "When was the last time you took a bath? Nah, you smell okay. Just go to bed."

7.  I forget to bring a camera with me to major kid events. I only filled out a few pages in my first born's baby book. My second born's baby book is still wrapped in cellophane. I have boxes upon boxes of mementos taking up an entire closet.

8. I've had daydreams of confronting my daughter's summer camp bully and her mother. I'd put them both in their place using nothing but quick wit and sarcasm. In that daydream, there's a crowd behind me and someone slow claps when I have the last word. I've watched a lot of 80's teen movies.

9. I purposely brainwashed my kids to despise Barney, Justin Bieber, and Caillou.

10. I forget sometimes what it was like to be a kid. I hush them too often. I tell them I'm too busy to play when I'm simply not in the mood to play with them. I worry about the mess rather than marvel at the masterpiece. I threaten to run away even though I miss them the minute they leave my sight. I forget to count my blessings that my kids are healthy. I focus on the naughty behavior at home, yet take their best behavior in school for granted. I don't recognize as often as I should, just how wonderful my little monkeys really are.

I'm not proud of all of these things. But, parenting is not easy and can sometimes drive you to the brink of insanity. I've found the best thing to do is try to improve whenever you can and forgive yourself for not being the "best mom on the block." And I'll tell you... even the best mom on the block has her own list. She's just not sharing it.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Most Okayest Summer Ever!

Since becoming a mom, I've learned a thing or two about summertime and kids. In the beginning, I started each summer with the expectation of bliss and fun and happy memories. I made "Summer Bucket Lists" and promised myself that I was going to make those long, lazy days the best days of my children's lives. I scoured mom blogs and parenting articles for inspiration. I collected craft materials to keep them busy during a pop-up thunderstorm. I scrolled through countless Pinterest pages for mom tested and approved activities. Each summer, I started off with hope. By the end, I was tired, disappointed, and relieved when the school bus stopped by our house. Our summers were filled with tantrums, rain delays, and let downs. It was my fault. I expected too much out of the kids, the weather, and myself. I was too excited and in turn, I elevated the kids' expectations. I placed so much emphasis on having the best summer ever that when "life" happened, it suddenly became the worst summer ever. So now, I set the bar lower, learned from the fails, and settle for the most okayest summer ever. It goes something like this:

Photo Credit: Someecards

Catching Fireflies

The Best: Giggling little children running barefoot through the grass and gently swooping fireflies out of the warm night air.

The Worst: Chasing after highly evolved fireflies that climb twenty feet over our heads resulting in tantrums and empty glass jars. Oh and mosquito bites. A lot of mosquito bites all over.

The Okayest: Do not plan a firefly hunt. If you happen to be outside and they are within reach, great. If not, move along. Do not talk about all the fireflies you used to catch when you were a child. (Trust me, it will only bring out your 3 year old daughter's competitive nature.) Wear bug spray.

Or you can catch this Firefly. This one is better.
Photo Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firefly_(TV_series)

Pool Days

The Best: Spending hours and hours at the neighborhood pool. Splashing and laughter and sitting in the sun.

The Worst: Not spending hours and hours at the neighborhood pool due to constant thunderstorms.

The Okayest: Keep the pool bag packed by the front door and bathing suits within reach at all times. Rush to the pool between thunderstorms so the kids can jump in a few times. Suntans are bad for you anyway, right?

Rainy Day Crafts

The Best: Content little kids sitting at the kitchen table creating little homemade masterpieces.

The Worst: "Her craft looks better than mine!" Paper cuts. Projects that should take hours are completed within minutes.  Craft kits that require more adult supervision than advertised. Glitter.

The Okayest: Give the kids a ream of white paper and crayons. That's it. No scissors, no glue, no kits that come with a picture of those damn model kids holding perfectly crafted potholders or sun catchers. Absolutely no glitter.

Same goes for cooking crafts.


The Best: A week long trip to the beach or Disney World, or some other awesome place and every moment is Facebook status worthy.

The Worst: Completely rained out beach trip, cranky kids and stressed parents. Or even worse, not able to take a vacation at all.

The Okayest: Take daytrips to local attractions that don't require waiting in long lines, paying for overpriced admission/food/beverages, or packing suitcases. (After reading so many posts about rained out beach trips, I think it was a good thing we couldn't take a vacation this summer.)

Fishing Trips with Daddy

The Best: Two quiet and patient little girls sitting with their dad by the lake all day. Poles in the water and smiles on their faces. Bringing home a fresh catch for dinner.

The Worst: Impatient, noisy, completely bored little girls crying about empty hooks, soggy worms, and killing "Nemo."

The Okayest: Take the kids to a DNR "Catch & Release" stocked pond for a couple of hours max. Use hotdogs as bait. Bring snacks and bug spray. Lots of bug spray. Have a contest for the first fish, the biggest fish, the smallest fish, and the most colorful fish so even the littlest fisherman has a fish tale to share.

Don't worry. Everyone survived.

Summer Blockbusters

The Best: Kids sitting perfectly still through an entire animated film. Parents enjoying an hour of sitting in a cool, dark room.

The Worst: Multiple potty breaks, spilled popcorn, short attention spans. Other kids running around without parental guidance making your kids question your threats of movie theater cops who arrest disruptive kids.

The Okayest: See a movie a few weeks after the movie release day. Better yet, wait for the DVD.

Summer doesn't have to be a big production. In fact, the beauty of summer is to slow down and enjoy the little moments away from schedules. It took a few summer fails to realize that it's okay to not plan every minute of the day. It's okay to let things happen organically. Step away from Pinterest. It's okay to keep it simple. Give the kids an opportunity to enjoy a lazy day. Give yourself an opportunity to have a lazy day. If you must plan an event this summer, go easy on yourself if it all falls through. Some of the best memories happen when plans fall apart.

And use bug spray.