Parenting Archive

The contradiction of having a 4 year old.

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I feel like having a spirited 4 year old is truly something another person will never understand unless they’ve been down in the trenches with you. Deep, mucky trenches filled with laughter, screaming, elation, anger, mismatched clothing, chocolate milk and questions. Never ending questions.

I need goggles for parenting.

I need goggles for parenting.

Sometimes I feel like having a preschooler is basically living one big contradiction. Wait, sometimes? I mean all the time.

Please don’t ever stop talking because the things that come from your awesome brain and out of your little mouth are hilarious and amazing. But please, for the love of everything, stop talking! The droning of questions from that little voice is infiltrating my every thought and driving me to the brink of a major bedtime chocolate binge.

Please don’t ever stop dancing. I love how you don’t care what you look like, and I marvel how every joint and muscle in your body was knit together inside my own and now serves to bring you joy and life…including launching yourself off the couch into the wall (thank you nature, for flexible childhood cartilage). But please, stop dancing, jumping, and squirming! The constant movement! It exhausts me and gosh I miss your naptimes.

Please don’t ever stop being persistent.  Your determination is a marvel and I can’t wait to see the places it takes you. You could out-argue the best lawyer in the world and your confidence and stubbornness  in getting what you need surpasses my own. But please, stop persisting you have your millionth cracker of the day. Ask me again and I will fill your bed with crackers and make you take my sorely missed naps on it.

Please don’t ever stop being you. Ever. But please, bedtime, hurry up!

With love from the trenches,

Alicia

 

Just call me PigPen

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For real, ya’ll. My car leaves me cringing in disgust every time I get in it, but if I’m getting in it that means I need to be somewhere which translates to not having time to clean it. Then when I do have time to clean it, it’s impossible with two small kids trying to climb in the car to play or taking off into the woods to be eaten by raccoons. By the time they are in bed, I’m too tired and it’s too dark and cold anyway. I will admit, summer time my car looks much better. Wintertime? Straight up biohazard.

Yes, that's my darling son's name scribbled all over the dirt on my car.

Yes, that’s my darling son’s name scribbled all over the dirt on my car.

 

So I’m here today to give you the secret to having a clean(er) car. Ready? Here goes.

 

Don’t have children. The end.

 

Too late? Yeah, me too. Dang.

Seriously though, let’s be realistic and know as parents, our cars will never be spotless. But there are a few tips to help keep it from being embarrassing. Speaking of embarrassing, I’m posting pictures of my own car as an example. Yes, it’s gross. No, my house doesn’t look like that too. Not all the time anyway.

Dirt. And more dirt. Baby carrier, gloves, the never ending stickers from Trader Joes, and an elusive belly pad. They don't belong there yet gravity must be strong because they all migrate there anyway.

Dirt. And more dirt. Baby carrier, gloves, the never ending stickers from Trader Joes, and an elusive belly pad. They don’t belong there yet gravity must be strong because they all migrate there anyway.

Tip numero uno! Don’t eat in the car. Yes, easier said than done. But long road trips aside, will you or the kids really waste away if you don’t eat for the short time you’re in transit? I know sometimes it’s the only way to keep your kids quiet but the amount of wrappers and crumbs and stickiness and spilled drinks is part of what makes cars so scummy. I don’t regularly allow my kids to eat in the car, I figure they can snack when they are home or when we get where we are going but in the instances that I do, I’m picky about what is eaten. I try to avoid crumbs and small pieces. Cheerios will forever remain in your car if you allow them to enter. Things in bar form are good providing they are not crumbly. Pouches are good if your kid is old enough not to squirt it everywhere. The problem with food aside from the crumbs leads me to tip number two….

Have an in car trash can. It makes a world of difference. Up until recently, my cupholder was the car trash can. It didn’t work so hot…I’d stuff it so full that eventually I’d hit a bump and it would spring back at me. Wrappers, receipts, coupons, Trader Joes and Target stickers, wipes, tissues, you name it…scattered. I now keep an empty shopping bag looped around the arm of my seat so it dangles down below my center console. Everything goes in there. And once it’s full, I just take it out and throw it away.

Three! Every time you leave the car, take something with you. Everyone. Every time we go somewhere, Liam wants to bring a toy in the car. The rule is, you bring it, you have to take it back inside when we are home, plus one other thing (providing there is something else in the car and there almost always is…a discarded jacket or hat, book, etc). This keeps the clutter to a minimum and also prevents me from having a time consuming massive destash of junk in my car. It also keeps projectiles to a minimum, which we recognize as safety hazards.

Four! Keep a container of wipes in your trunk and every time you get gas, wipe your steering wheel, console, and dash down while the car is filling up. It only takes a second and keeps the grime at a minimum. If you don’t think it needs a wipe, grab your floor mat and give it a shake. The floor mats in my car are what gather the most crud. We live in a fairly rural area and the kids are always full of dirt and leaves. Shaking the floor mats out regularly keeps the dirt from migrating off of them and to the side where it’s impossible to vacuum out.

Last but not least…keep it smelling clean. A stinky or musty smelling car is always going to feel dirty. Some lemon or orange essential oil can make your car smell fresh and give you the motivation to keep it that way.

These five things can help keep your car maintained in between the occasional (who am I kidding…never?) deep clean or detail. We spend a significant part of our day in ours cars so keeping it in a state we can be comfortable in makes that more bearable. Drive safe and watch out for Legos in your seat; I hear they can reach up in places you’d never dreamed they could…

Winning the Race

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Ahhh…the old Hotwheels in a bottle trick eh? Try to get that one out.

Ahhh…the old Hotwheels in a bottle trick eh? Try to get that one out.

We all know the supposed “mommy wars”. Breastfeeding vs formula feeding. Co-sleeping vs crib sleeping. Working vs staying at home. Every mother has her own opinion, and unfortunately it usually differs from the one next door. Of course each one thinks her way is best, they butt heads, and the mommy wars begin.

The last few weeks I’ve been noticing a new trend. On Facebook and through emails, there have been numerous links shared to different blogs centered around spending time with your children. Great right? Nothing bad can come of that. I enjoyed reading them, and they were a good reminder to me on tough day to quit texting or cleaning and get down on the floor and PLAY. To enjoy my kids for who they are in this exact moment, for I will never get the moment back again. I was part of this revolution…the revolution to put away the phone and be a good mom.

I began turning off the radio in the car to talk to Liam about things. I began pointing out things in the store and giving him lists and taking advantage of educational moments. I turned my phone off for hours at a time. This is good, I thought. This is what I’m supposed to be doing so I don’t miss anything. I can’t miss anything.

But then it began to consume me. My few moments to enjoy music that wasn’t the beginning of the Cat in the Hat was gone and replaced with chatter about if bugs poop or why I’m turning left and not right. I was stuck inside Target with a kid having a melt down because I wanted to leave before he was done finding “something red” (horrible color choice for eye spy in Target. Horrible. Every freaking thing is red in that place). I had no adult contact, no inside jokes to laugh at on the side while playing Monster Jam on the living room floor.

Because this is how it’s supposed to be, right? Right.

Except I feel like it’s not. I am me. I am an individual person outside of who’s mother I am. Sometimes I don’t want to be climbed on, I don’t want to see how big your booger is, and I’d rather be locked in the bathroom than watch you smash my carefully built play-doh rabbit for the upteenth time. The immense guilt I feel is overwhelming. Yes the years fly by but oh how long some days can be. Days when I can’t wait till they are peacefully asleep in their beds and I can sit on the couch and do nothing. Except I am doing something…I’m feeling like I must be the worst mom ever and stressing out over what I can do with them tomorrow to make up for my inattentiveness today. That surely when I was scrubbing the kitchen floor, my 3 year old mastered long division and I missed it forever. Tomorrow. Tomorrow I will ask him to show me. Always tomorrow. Oh wait…I’m not supposed to think that. Today. I only have today. Don’t put it off. It doesn’t matter that I’m exhausted to the point of tears. Do it today. Now.

The latest mommy war: who can spend more time with their kids? Who is more tolerant? If you wish for an hour of having your body and mind back, you lose. You don’t need that. You can have that when they are grown. Enjoy it now. Soak up every moment. If you aren’t sufficiently soaking, you are failing and will cry with regret on your death bed. You better be a fat dripping sponge of “now” moments.

While you are sitting there being that giant wet sponge, make sure you glare at the mommy at the park who is looking at her phone. Who cares if she spent every moment up till now on the floor playing with her kids and now she’s taken them to the park to play so she can maintain contact with her friends without feeling guilty? She should be climbing the slides alongside her kids. Running. Putting those yoga pants to use.

Come on. Seriously. Stop. Embrace each other. Embrace all of us on this journey. Embrace the fact that to give ourselves to our kids, we have to have something left to give in the first place. Stop the mommy war of guilt. Take care of yourselves, and offer help when you have extra to give. Because behind that internet cover up of moms out there who devote every second of themselves around the clock are moms like us who lock themselves in the bathroom for 5 minutes with a cup of coffee and a magazine that hasn’t been ripped up. Moms who try to take a deep breath and relax but instead notice the Hotwheels in the toilet and the tiny fingers reaching under the door. Because the years are short but the days are long and guess what? You’re doing a good job. We all are. So raise that chipped coffee cup and take a drink before you have to reach into the toilet. Cheers!

Baby? What baby?

Baby? What baby?

Warpaint?
Warpaint?

 

Surviving Transitions

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Gaining perspective is one of the greatest gifts of watching your kid(s) grow up. With each year that passes, and with each child that you raise, you live and learn. You also mellow a little bit, which is really helpful if you’re going to stand any chance of surviving your child’s teenage years.  But you never forget the ages and stages – I least I haven’t.

From a child passenger safety standpoint, I have survived every inevitable transition there is and it’s given me the wisdom and perspective to be able to help other parents who may be on a new and unfamiliar road that I have already traveled. Rear-facing to forward-facing; 5-point harness to booster; booster to passing the 5-Step Test using just the adult seatbelt; moving from the rear seat to the front passenger seat and now this…

 

 

Quick, someone please reassure me that we will all survive this transition because I’m not so sure about this one!