Tag Archives: parenting

Bedtime or Bust

I’m sure every family has a time of day that just seems to cause stress. Maybe it’s the breakfast and out the door to school/work rush, maybe it’s the afternoon when a toddler has stopped napping but still needs one, or maybe you are like our family and it’s the time between dinner and bedtime.

From 6-7 pm every night I’m pretty sure someone has taken my children and replaced them with caged monkeys that look like my children. They are wound up, their listening ears have long since shut off and I seriously find myself wondering how I haven’t downed an entire bottle of pinot in this hour. 

I get it. Other than school in the mornings, the kids don’t really leave our house. So from 12-7 they have the same toys either inside or outside to play with and see the same faces. I get a little stir crazy too and I have stuff I should be doing. It’s also the time where we don’t really have enough time to get involved with anything (especially anything that makes a mess) but they are bored and dying for stimulation. Only, I’m at my witching hour too. I’ve been at work all day and have come home to make dinner and am brain dead or I’ve already been entertaining them all day long and am fresh out of ideas. And fresh out of patience. 

I try to keep it to a simplified routine, but Charlie somehow thinks that alligator wrestling pajamas on him is part of his routine and Molly thinks draining our entire city of water by playing in the sink for 10 minutes is part of her routine. Just once I would love to brush everyone’s teeth without someone biting down on the toothbrush or sealing their lips like they’ve been super glued. And I’m not sure exactly but I’m pretty sure that there is a game of “hide the lovey” that the kids have created in order to extend bedtime by another 10 minutes as we search high and low for someone’s favorite stuffed animal. I think Charlie’s beige puppy dog shoved into my Ugg boot wins the prize of the longest search. Tonight like a crazed maniac I forced the kids on a death march to search for said puppy dog then realized that a 4 and 2 year old are probably the worst searchers ever. I don’t know what I was thinking, these kids can’t find me hiding under the dining room table while we play hide and seek, how are the going to find a stuffed dog the size of my hand? (and why can’t their favorite stuffed animal be those ginormous ones you win at carnivals???)

We finally make it to the bedrooms only to not be able to agree on 1 story to read, so we read 2. Or 3. Or I put my foot down at 4. Technically I could do it earlier but I hope if I give them lots of attention before leaving they will be less inclined to exit their rooms looking for more. I’m usually wrong. With Molly, she was content with us kissing her goodnight and leaving, we had that part in the bag. We were home free once that door shut. Then Charlie decided that he wanted to sleep in a double bed and needs us to lay down with him, lest he cry like we have broken his heart. So we lay with him for a couple minutes. BIG MISTAKE. That leads to Molly wanting to cuddle and why not? We cuddle with Charlie, it’s only fair. Bust, we let that good thing fly out the window and added an extra 10 minutes to bedtime. When we finally do get to evacuate, we are only at a 50/50 chance that Molly won’t wander from her room and whine for me at the top of the steps to tell me that one last pressing item before going to bed.

An hour later, everyone is maybe asleep and I flop on the couch only to realize that it’s only 7:30 and the night is still young for this mama in need of doing dishes and cleaning up and all that other fun household work that doesn’t get done while I’m at work. But what I really want is some cake and a glass of wine so I compromise and drink while I fold laundry then eat cake. Which reminds me, I’m out of cake.

So, what is your stressful time of day? Are you a morning, afternoon, or like us, a bedtime monkey show?

We Are Supposed To Be Having Fun!

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This weekend was the Fall Festival in our town. We don’t have the standard summer carnival, instead we have a big event for 3 days that includes carnival rides, music, food, crafts and games. It’s a pretty big event for our little city and of course it seems like the perfect way to spend a Saturday morning if you have kids. Or I should say, if you don’t have our kids.

Three reasons why we should stay home:
1. Food Allergies. First and foremost pretty much all delicious carnival food is a no no. All those peanut oils and chocolates and deep fried foods are all a danger to Charlie and being in the air is enough to make me almost insane. Peanuts are one of those great food allergies that become environmental when cooked apparently so there’s the fear that random peanut proteins will jump from the fryer and into Charlie’s mouth, eyes or nose. Plus Charlie thinks ground food is equally if not more edible than normal served at the table food so I’m on extra alert.

2. Motion Sickness. Charlie gets car sick. He has now vomited twice in the car and complained of being sick and hot numerous times while driving. Needless to say, one ride and he was done. I’m honestly amazed he made it on one. It’s the first time he’s been on a carnival ride by himself. And probably the last time.

3. Molly.

I can’t tell you how many times we do things that are “family fun” oriented and end up leaving stressed, tired and with cranky kids. Molly tries her best but when push comes to shove, she can’t regulate that much stimulation so she ends up trying to soothe herself which means she ends up trying to hang from all my limbs or asking to be carried. Have you ever carried a 35 pound 4 year old for a prolonged period of time? I have. More than once. I have carried her through the zoo, I have carried her through the tractor show, I have carried her on walks around the block and I saw myself carrying her from our Fall Fest. It was coming: the whining, the hanging and the carrying. You could see it in her deteriorating behavior and we quickly opted to leave, unused ride tickets and all.

Then there it was…. the playground.

An entire carnival the kids want nothing to do it with but a playground?? Hells yeah! After 10 minutes and Charlie trying to play in a near by dumpster and throwing himself on the mulch face first in a fit, we quickly gathered the kids and headed for home.

I hope the kids remember these times fondly, as we have no real pictures of the kids not enjoying are family fun outings.

My Kids Eat Jelly Sandwiches

Dear Parents Magazine,

While I appreciate your monthly reading material that comes to my house, I’m having difficulty following you on Pinterest. I guess I usually just flip through your magazine, reading an article here and there and just looking at pretty pictures along the way. You always have the cutest babies and toddlers.  However, on your Pinterest page I’m forced to read your captions on Pinterest and then I realize that I’ve been missing a lot of shenanigans while flipping through your magazine. For example, this jewel of a pin you had last week:

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Now, I’m not saying that this isn’t a cute idea. I mean, probably to get my kids to do this would suck about a good hour of our day which I’m always looking for activities that occupy little hands for more than 10 minutes but I think you are overlooking a big problem in our house. My kids eat sandwiches, yes, but fancy ones? No. Charlie would’ve thrown all the Cheerios on the floor and proceeded to tap dance on them to create a nice sandy floor to roll on. Molly would end up screaming and in tears over the fact that her masterpiece wasn’t good enough and demanding that I sprinkle her Cheerios for her. Oh, and I also wouldn’t do it up to her standards so there would be more tears. This time from both of us. I’m sure at this point Charlie would be bored of his Cheerio dust and decide to mess up what Molly has been working on for 20 minutes to get “just right”. This leads to more tears, usually followed by “mean actions” and a time out. Did I mention my kids don’t eat vegetables? Charlie’s would be on the floor with his Cheerios and Molly would be telling me 800 times “I don’t like that” and insisting it be removed, then crying because her flower doesn’t have a stalk or leaves. Skip ahead through a few more arguments and time outs and we are now way past lunch time, nobody has eaten and I’m half a bottle of wine in and it’s only noon.  So, while I like your idea of fancy food, I have to admit that my kids aren’t fancy and if it’s all the same we’ll stick to our plain old grape jelly sandwiches.

Sincerely,
Jamie, mom to Sensational Kids.

Parent Fail: Miniature Golf Style

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Doesn’t this look like a fun family outing? Everyone is enjoying a round of miniature golf, the Wild Card is even wearing a collared shirt, but in reality it was a disaster. A parenting fail at its worst. The Mollinator is a perfectionist at the age of 4 and thanks to her Sensory Processing Disorder she also has motor delays, primarily in motor planning. It’s hard enough for a 4 year old to grasp the hand-eye coordination to successfully putt the ball through obstacles and into a hole, now imagine one that can’t sequence all of her movements correctly or figure out how hard or soft she needs to hit the ball to get it to the hole and on top of that have her be a perfectionist so when she doesn’t get a hole-in-one she thinks she failed. Did you get all that? I can tell you that it’s a recipe for disaster and tears next to a #8 flag. She actually sat down on hole 8 to exclaim she was a bad golfer. She’s 4 and the thought that she couldn’t hit the ball into a hole in one shot was just too much for her to bear. Luckily it was a rainy day so the course was pretty empty but those that were there saw parenting at its worst best.

As parents we want our kids to have fun so we tried everything in our power to turn that frown upside down but nothing worked. Her frustrations got bigger and our patience got smaller. I tried to avoid it but I walked to the car with a screaming kid in tow. I did my best not to yell, I just handed her putter to Stampy and walked away, but honestly I wanted to scream. Not at Molly, this isn’t her fault. I wanted to scream at the universe for making this our reality. Our reality that we will most likely leave places early and in tears. Only to come home and have whiney temper tantrums and cling with all her might to me. It’s the reality that some days make me want to peel my skin off and it’s the reality that ends in alcohol or exercise.

So I take a lot of pictures in hopes that when I look back at them I will remember the few moments where we smiled and laughed. So I remember fun outings with the kids. And so when Molly accuses me of never taking her anywhere, I can show her that we did. Maybe I’ll also show her this post to explain why our outings were so few and far between.

The Wild Card was there too. I assumed he would run like a crazed monkey all over the course so naturally he tried to play golf and stayed right by me. He also got carried to the car screaming, but that was because he was having fun and didn’t want to leave.

A Home Without a Crib

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Today we entered the next step of parenting. The step that will contribute to flabby biceps, we transitioned to a toddler bed. No more lifting a 30 pound toddler in and out of cribs. No more cribs. For 4 years and 4 months our house has been home to a piece of furniture that defined where we were in our “family” life. But I really liked it because I could be okay with my decision that we weren’t having anymore babies since we still have baby things. Now without a crib I have to accept that we are moving on with our lives. We are moving out of bottles and bumbos and into a world that has preschool and napless afternoons. Don’t get me wrong, I look forward to this stage but it’s the same insanity that makes me cry when getting rid of their baby clothes that makes me nostalgic for the times they were babies. I don’t even know why, they cried and vomited and were awake all the time. Why would anyone be sad about saying good bye to that??? I couldn’t tell you, but I am.

The only thing getting me through this tough time is the happiness in my Wild Card’s face. He thinks his new bed is the best thing ever. And technically it’s his crib, just missing a side (kids are so gullible). Tonight he cried “get out” as he was put in his bed and Stampy said “you can get out” but he never did. It was almost like he was so accustomed to protesting that he just had to do it. So there it is, both of my children are sleeping in their beds. Not cribs, but beds and I’m going to have a little wine to help me get over myself and into my bed tonight and not snuggle in and cling to my baby.

I Love Therapy!

Today is a Therapy Thursday and that always makes me smile. Before it would make me smile because I really saw the benefits of our behavioral therapy in our day to day lives. We had minimal tantrums and the ones Molly did have were only 10 minutes as opposed to 45 minutes (and who doesn’t love less crying??). Now I love Therapy Thursdays because I get an hour to discuss my parenting/toddler problems to a professional and be told that I’m doing a great job (and who doesn’t love that boost of confidence??).

We are in the minority that does not find out the gender of our children before they are born. Throughout the pregnancy I made the mistake of saying 3 things:

  1. I don’t want the baby born on my birthday
  2. I don’t want a red head
  3. I would prefer a boy

It’s not that I didn’t want a girl, it’s just that I had an older brother and to me it just seemed natural to have a boy and girl in that order. I didn’t want a red head because I didn’t want my child bursting into flames the second she went outside (which red heads tend to do) and I didn’t mind sharing my birthday, I just didn’t want to spend my birthday in labor. In a hospital. In labor. I wanted to put my feet up and have some cake. So on my birthday at 11:11pm, after 26 hours of labor (I guess technically I did put my feet up), came a bright red haired baby girl. Yup. I really should have known from day 1 what we were in store for.
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Bringing her home from the hospital we knew we were completely under prepared to take care of a child so when the struggles came, I just assumed it was because I had little idea about what I was doing. I’ve always been more of a “I’ll just wing it person” and I took the same approach to parenting. Naturally when she was colicky, sleep deprived and suffering from acid reflux I handled it like a pro. And when she turned into a tantrum-y 2 year old, I handled it a little less like a pro and when she turned 3, I had a nervous break down. I seriously thought I was a failure at parenting. I couldn’t remain calm during the 7th tantrum of the day like the “professionals” recommended, my child was unhappy, my marriage was suffering, I learned that people that were supposed to love me were calling me “irrational” behind my back, and my nerves were fried. Then, in walked Marie. Our Social Worker from Heaven. I wasn’t crazy and I wasn’t a failure. In fact I was doing quite well since I was still a functioning human being raising a child that was emotionally delayed like Molly. I liked Marie from day 1. Turns out we were raising a 3 1/2 year old that had the executive functioning of an 18 month old and the intelligence of a 5 year old. Apparently that makes for a lot of red flags to go up in the child development world.

Almost a year later we are happy. The stress is still there because, let’s face it, we can’t change who Molly is. We can change how we see her and what our expectations are for her. We are learning to balance what she really needs vs. what she thinks she needs and is trying to manipulate us for. Most importantly, I’ve learned that help is a good thing and that it’s ok if it takes a village to raise your child.

I Love You Too

I heard these words tonight and I started to cry. These are not often words that are uttered from Molly to us. She usually responds to our numerous “I love you” declarations with blank stares or non-sequitors. (oh, you love me? Let me tell you about dinosaurs) It’s not that she doesn’t love us, it’s just that she lacks either the verbal or emotional skill to tell us. Everything we go through with her, this is probably the hardest one to deal with. It breaks my heart on a daily basis that my devotions go unrequited vocally.
I understand that she loves us, I can tell from her actions that she does. I saw how she glowed and held my hand the day I volunteered in preschool, I know her constant devotion to being by my side and her insistence of my one on one attention are all forms of love. I know this, but sometimes I need to hear it. And tonight I did. It took about a dozen “I love you” utterances from me and my telling her that the response is “I love you too” but when she opened her bedroom door to tell me that she loved me, I didn’t care about the fact that I forced my need on to her because I got what I needed to hear. I’m set for the next 6 months until I force it out of her again.