“Come in,” said my neighbor, flashing me a shy smile as she held open the door with some hesitation. Her 9 month old and my then-2 year old and 6 month old were having a playdate. “And, um, I’m so sorry about the mess.”
I looked around as we entered. The floors were swept clean. Her kitchen counter sparkled. A small box of toys sat in the very corner of the room, behind a couch. All the toys were actually in the box. The 9 month old sat in a jumpy seat and looked up at me as she gnawed on a stuffed bunny. She grinned and the bunny fell onto the crumb-less carpet, followed by a trail of drool. My neighbor was in front of her daughter in a flash, wiping the drool up and tossing the bunny back into the toy box. “I didn’t really have time to clean up much this morning,” she apologized again as my two year old ran straight to the toybox, dumping everything out, and my 6 month old promptly spat up onto the floor.
“Play-based learning.” Also known as, “OMG, I was only in the bathroom for TWO MINUTES, where did that paint even come from?!”
Last week, I visited another neighbor, who has a 4 year old and a 20 month old. “Come in,” she said, opening the door, “and, um, I’m so sorry about the mess. We were doing our once-a-month cooking last night and didn’t get a chance to clean everything up and then the kids—well, anyway, you know.”
I am a believer in teaching our children about technology in the home. With the many ways that technology can be used (for good and ill) we don’t just want to leave that type of education to a public school system. My children still get plenty of time playing with blocks, going outside, and reading. They also get plenty of time playing with mommy’s mobile device and watching their favorite shows on Netflix.
I had an impression that something was wrong when my little one only wanted to use the potty if he could play his learning apps while there. I rationalized that I needed to encourage him to use the potty and they were learning apps anyway. I would let him watch his favorite PBS show during breakfast when he woke up at 6 am, then 5 am. I even handed over my mobile device when I was at bank appointments and in doctor’s offices.
5 am started turning into 4:30 in the morning and would be followed with meltdowns when he didn’t get television time because it was way too early. He would refuse to use the potty and squat down on the bathroom floor in protest without my mobile device. The last straw was when we were in church and he had a meltdown because he wanted to play with his learning apps and I wouldn’t let him.
I’m a good mom. I’m a good wife. I try to keep a clean house and even (gasp) decorate. There are a few perfect settings that just don’t fit into my world right now. I’m okay not winning awards in these categories this year.
Best Potty In Show Award
We all know that one woman who has a guest bathroom that looks like a work of art. She has a full set of towels draped gracefully over the towel rack, a basket full of tiny soaps sculpted like sea shells and rolled up wash cloths. If that wasn’t enough she also has reading material on the off chance you get bored looking at the art work on the bathroom wall.
I have a travel size body wash for hand soap, a couple of paper free toilet paper rolls that change places on the floor and, when we are very lucky, a towel hung up to dry our hands so our children won’t wipe their hands on their pajamas. We do have some art on the wall, if you count the crayon mural our two year old was inspired to create for us. Throw potty training into the mix and I definitely won’t be beating this woman.
Secret Backyard Garden Award
You step into this woman’s backyard and around the pool it looks like a little tropical oasis. Or you find an English rose garden fit for a miniature castle. There are little walk ways and stepping stones. There are even beautiful little benches to sit on and enjoy the garden.
Congratulations! You’re pregnant! As you may have heard, birth is a miracle. You are bringing a new life into the world and that is reason for celebration. People will tell you that you are glowing from great hormones and happiness. Some will even say it’s the light of heaven shining through you. There are a few things that they will leave out.
You Will Be Tired All The Time
You will wake up in the morning feeling like you have had a wonderful night’s sleep. You will go to the bathroom, which will take all the energy out of you, and crawl back to bed. You won’t know what happened. You will want to sleep all the time.
The mommy worry starts long before you hold that sweet child in your arms. You will worry about too much movement on the baby’s part as well as not enough movement. You will worry that you ate something wrong accidentally. You will worry the vibrations from a movie theater’s sound system has caused harm to your baby. There isn’t anything you won’t worry about until you hear that heart beat again. After that you have about six hours before the worry starts again.
Children can do and say some crazy things sometimes. It’s part of their charm. Sometimes the things they say and do make us have to stop and question our priorities and points of views. If we are really lucky we can even change a few of our points of view to find the joy in life that comes so naturally to the small ones in our lives.
Be Excited About Life
An apple is worthy of a jump up and down celebration in my child’s point of view. So are new pajamas, taking the trash out, and watching a favorite television show. We are talking about uncontrolled bouncing shouts of joy. If we all celebrated the little things like a two year old the world would be a happier place. The opposite, however, does not apply. We would all be very unhappy if we all had toddler like meltdowns instead.
After about six months of trying to convince my son to use the potty, and cleaning up the aftermath, we have found a few potty training hacks we agree on (because when your toddler isn’t cooperating with potty training it feels like herding cats to a toilet) that have turned the tide in our potty war and resulted in a truce.
Hand Held Entertainment
I don’t let my children play with my Kindle Fire as a rule. This has resulted in making it one of the most coveted items for my children to play with. I can see their little wheels turning over how to play with it without getting in trouble. There is one way mommy will share her toy. On the potty. If my child is on the potty, he has five to ten glorious minutes on the Kindle. If he has a stubborn bowel movement, he gets more time. To get his hands on the Kindle he will even tell me when he has to go.
I set a fifteen minute timer on my microwave to make sure I hold up my part of potty training. My part would be to ask regularly if he needs to go. I have a seven month old, work from home, and do house work. Naturally I am going to forget. Setting a timer, however, makes me remember. I just have to make sure to drop everything and ask otherwise I’ll get sidetracked and forget all over again.
My mom feels that I stress out too much about child safety. After all she didn’t do or did do a number of things that are considered dangerous now. Nothing happened to me. Why am I stressing out over issues that haven’t been issues until recently.
You Turned Out Fine
Yes, I did turn out fine and I know that was because of mom’s care. I know I drank out of the water hose and lived. I am aware that I slept just fine on my stomach. She put cereal in my formula bottle. She gave me a numbing gel when I was teething. She even put me facing forward in my car seat. It wasn’t a big deal then.
It is now. Studies and statistics have come out telling us how to better care for our children. It’s not that she was a horrible parent. I’m not trying to make her feel silly or guilty. It’s just that now we have more information on keeping our infants safe.
They Change That Information Often
It’s true. A few years back babies were supposed to sleep on there tummies to keep them from choking on spit up. Now they are supposed to sleep on their backs so the don’t obstruct their breathing should they cuddle with the mattress. The fabric rail guards were to keep children from getting caught in the slats of the crib. Now we have a new crib format and have done away with the crib bumpers.
It may even change again by the time I have grandchildren. I most likely will be wondering what my daughter is doing strapping her infant into the safety ejection pod built into the car in case of accident. Right now, however, these are the current safety guidelines and I intend to adhere to them until they change.
Posted 12-19-2014 at 02:58 PM by Rasha
From baking cookies to cutting a fresh pine tree to lighting candles and giving blessings for Shabbat, you look forward to your cherished holiday traditions every year. They help you bond with family members and spend special time together, giving everyone a little break from busy modern life. But, sometimes newlywed couples, newly blended families and couples with their first baby want to start their own traditions. That being said, here are some ideas to start your new holiday family traditions.
When my child started talking I expected long philosophical conversations about the color red and flushing the toilet. What I hadn’t expected was to have a mirror held up to my own personal verbal habits. While I’m not a swearer and I am careful not to use derogatory name and titles I found I had a few other verbal habits to work on.
I Apologize Too Often
I knew I said the word “sorry” often, but I had no idea how often until my child started saying it for fun. He apologizes for closing doors, his blocks falling over, and when he decided he didn’t want to use the restroom. He apologizes because he isn’t going to eat his dinner. He apologized once because I had discovered I had gained a few pounds on the scale. Now I am working on not over apologizing. I thought I was being polite, but now I realize it’s not my fault it’s raining, and I don’t need to say sorry for that.
I’m Obsessed With Safety
I am told to be careful by my two year old every time we come to the stairs. I am told if something might be too hot or too cold. I know he has gotten this from me. I don’t want him to be afraid of adventure and healthy risks, but I don’t want him to get hurt. Ever! I fluctuate back and forth between keeping him safe and letting him explore life a little. I don’t think that will ever change.
Love Is The First Response
The other day I dropped and broke a glass and my little guy told me it was okay and hugged my leg. I then had to delicately fight him off as he tried to help me clean up. I realized that he got this from me as well. He helps me because I am an example by helping him. Each time I respond with care (though, unfortunately it’s not every time) he is being taught this is the way we react when things go wrong. I know I will never be a perfect mom, but I feel like I’m not doing terrible.
What have you learned from your little mimic?
Posted 12-15-2014 at 12:00 PM by Rasha
You do our best to provide your family with healthy food options. But with little ones and busy schedules, sometimes it’s easier to snack or “graze.” Fortunately, you can still eat healthy and it doesn’t have to be difficult either. You can have healthy snacks sent right to your home from Graze. Their products have no GMOs, no artificial flavors, and no artificial colors and the snacks are wholesome, real food. So if you need healthy snacks in your home but you’re short on time, this is an excellent solution. Best of all, you can try your first box from Graze for free!