Staying Home with Kids… and Maintaining Sanity

Staying at Home

Staying at home with kids IS NOT for everyone. (Gasp!) I’m serious. You would be shocked at the number of times people have looked at me and said something like, “I don’t know how you stay at home with kids all day. I COULDN’T DO IT.”  I’ve read countless articles, blogs, comments… blah blah blah… from other stay at home parents and childcare providers that have the same message, “If you had to stay home, you would… and you would be just fine.”

Yeah, sure… when you look at it in terms of survival… the vast majority of the population could stay at home and care for children… if they had to. But, that doesn’t mean they should… especially if you don’t want to. What people are really trying to say is that they couldn’t handle it… and that’s totally fine! If staying at home with kids all day would result in you driving to the closest mental health institution and checking yourself in, then please… don’t stay at home with your kids.

“But, Momma Bish… I stay at home and sometimes feel like checking myself in at one of those places… it sounds like a vacation!” Oh, don’t you worry… I think every parent EVER has felt like this at times. It just makes you normal. That’s why parents (all parents, not just stay at home parents… because even working parents are stay at home parents on the weekends… or days off) need to create a “HOLY SH*T ESCAPE PLAN.” Put it in your phone, tape it to the fridge, tattoo it on your arm… I don’t care… but in a moment of “OMG, I’M SELLING MY CHILD(REN) TO THE GYPSIES” panic/rage/disbelief… just read through your plan and find an alternative solution. I’ll share mine with you… feel free to adopt similar strategies.

MOMMA BISH’S HOLY SH*T ESCAPE PLAN
1. Lock yourself in the bathroom/outside for three minutes and calm down with some of that focused breathing sh*t they taught you in those birthing classes.
2. Call/Text/Message a parent friend for a 60 second vent session. (If my friends and I need to vent, we typically start the conversation with OMG… I NEED THE NUMBER FOR THE GYPSIES!) While this contact doesn’t have to be a parent, they are often able to relate to your situation a bit better.
3. Leave the house. Don’t leave the children… this is illegal… but get out of the house and go do something. A change of environment might just be what everyone needs. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy… go to Target, the park, for a walk… just GET THE EFF OUT.
4. Ditch the kid(s). That’s right… have a list of people to call if you just need a break. (We ALL need breaks. If you don’t know anyone… go to family events and activities, find a parent group, church, etc…) Our list consists of grandparents, aunts, uncles, family, friends, neighbors, teenagers, etc. (Hell, last week, I posted on FB that we needed a sitter and within about 10 minutes I had seven people offering to help.) Taking a break doesn’t make you weak… asking for help is a necessary part of parenting.

As a preventive measure, always have something on the calendar. “Play date” is a fancy term we use to not only socialize our children… but so we can socialize with other adults, too.

The key to staying at home is to form allies… and helping each other out. But remember… being around kids full-time isn’t for everyone. There are plenty of people who have the skills and passion to do so. Find what you love and do it… I’ll sit here and watch your kid(s) while you do. (Umm… except that’s a lie… because I’m at capacity… but you can find someone else who will.)

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One more thing… this whole post has me thinking about how I COULD be an accountant… but that would drive me crazy… and I would just start punching people in the face… which is why I’m not an accountant. Let’s all do stuff that makes us (at least moderately) happy.

Don’t Be Jealous I’m So Glamorous

Glamorous

I know that I always look glamorous as hell… in my yoga pants (that hopefully don’t, but probably do, have food crusted to them or milk spilled on them) and old t-shirt (which most likely has chocolate finger prints on it, thanks to a granola bar that I fed my grubby little kid…with the name of an organization scrolled across the front/back of it that I once volunteered/worked for, proving at one point in my life I really did have my sh*t together) and my (not so) flawless complexion which doesn’t even need (but could really use) a fresh application of makeup (which I never wear… like ever… even before I had a kid or two to tote around… because it’s just not my thing) and my hair up in a perfect ponytail/bun (and by perfect, I mean it’s a hot freaking mess… because fine and thin hair doesn’t stay in place when you are wrestling toddlers to the ground as you calmly explain why they need to wear pants in public… as they continue to struggle and wiggle like a snake, acting as if wearing those pants will cause their legs to fall off).  So… I mean… it’s pretty hard to nail this look… but I do it daily… like a boss.

You’re welcome world!

Brownies for Breakfast

brownies

“I’m sorry, you can’t have four brownies for breakfast. You can only have one.” Yes, these words really did (truly) come out of my mouth this morning.

Two years ago, as the size of my ever-growing belly stretched into new dimensions that challenged the laws of physics, I was on a mission to feed my kid healthy, organic foods and raise him with a picture perfect and incredibly wholesome diet.

Yeah… I laugh at that fat lady… riddled with nonsensical ideas floating about in her brain… something that can only truly be described as a hallucinogenic state brought on by an overwhelming amount of crazy pregnant lady hormones.

Don’t get me wrong… we eat a well-rounded diet, buy organic when it comes to the most important foods… but there’s no need to deprive my kid of a brownie for breakfast… especially one that he painstakingly went through the effort of procuring himself this morning, during a quite intense mission… using MacGyver-like tactics… until the holy grail of chocolaty carbohydrate goodness was in his grubby little hands. (I know… because I sat at the dining room table and watched the whole thing happen… but he didn’t know I could see him.)

He grabbed the plate, removed the foil… and exposed his prize. With fists full of brownies, he rounded the corner toward me, shoveling piles of deliciousness into his face. Oh, and what a face treat they were… I could tell from the elated grin on his face… all the larger since he had indeed discovered these treats on his own. Independence is rich.

Rather shockingly, he shared a handful of brownie with me… as he consumed his portion. Then, back round the corner he went… emerging with even MORE brownies.

*insert the scratching of a record here*

I don’t think so kid. I mean, yeah… brownies aren’t much worse for you than syrup soaked pancakes (actually… they may even be a little better for you)… but your limit is one.

So sure, I let my kid eat brownies for breakfast sometimes… and for the record, leftover cake is also a perfectly legit breakfast food… but who cares? The key is moderation… special treats… and balancing it out with plenty of nutritious meals the rest of the day.

I know I’m not the only mom feeding my kid “non-meal foods” at meal time. So come on… share the love… what do you let slide as breakfast/lunch/dinner on occasion? (Yes, this would include feeding your kid an entire meal of Goldfish crackers… which is usually covered up nicely by saying, “We had fish for lunch!”)

Proud Mom Moment – My Kid Discovered Bubble Wrap

Bubble Wrap

Okay, let’s be honest… he didn’t like invent the incredibly entertaining, ingenious material that is so amazing… it has its own virtual apps… but he did figure out how to pop it… and for me… that’s pretty much the same thing (aside from the fact his type of discovery doesn’t result in any money in the bank… yet).

Seriously though… how freaking awesome is bubble wrap? The travesty is that most companies are opting to “save the plant” by using alternative shipping materials (like those stupid bags filled with air that aren’t any fun to pop… but you still have to pop… or they don’t fit in the trashcan), so the rarity of bubble wrap actually arriving at my door to cuddle the contents of my precious packages is truly depriving my child (and all children, for that matter) of the genuine fun (and an added risk of suffocation, I suppose) that is part of the joy one feels when opening a package. I mean… I might have gone straight up hippie and consumed my placenta… but that doesn’t mean I want to give up my bubble wrap. (Get with it Amazon Prime… I don’t want my sh*t delivered within the hour via drone… I want it in a giant box filled with an unnecessary amount of bubble wrap! Shoot… I will even let you get creative and select the size of those bubbles!)

And now that this post has turned into something of a rant… what ever happened to those freaking awesome environmentally friendly, cornstarch packing peanuts? Those things are incredible! You can get them a little wet and stick them together. I imagined creating towers… no, that’s thinking too small… EMPIRES with those things when I had kid(s)… and now… I have to pay a freaking fortune for them at the craft store? No bueno.

Ugh… whatever… refocus. (As I scroll back up to look at my child, brimming with excitement, as he stomps on 1″ plastic bubbles, squealing with joy.)

The day my kid learned to pop his own bubbles (and not in a dream crushing sort of way… or any of those soap bubbles that I try to avoid blowing because it makes me dizzy) was one of my proudest moments to date… and a true milestone (take that baby book publishing companies).

Cheers Munch-a-rino! Thanks for always sometimes usually making Momma proud. (I mean… you did Sharpie the television this week… so I have to take that into consideration.)

#omgpleasejustSTOPtouchingstuff

Stop Touching Stuff

WHY THE FRUIT LOOPS DO YOU TOUCH/BREAK EVERYTHING WE OWN?!?!?! I swear toddlers are hard-wired to find anything and everything of value (crap… it doesn’t even have to be of value) in a given space and break it… usually in a way you never even thought possible. The first thing Munchie ever broke was our cable box… just days after coming home from the hospital… and that was just the beginning.

More recently, he has dumped coffee all over my laptop… twice. The second time, he carried my (cold) coffee from the kitchen to the dining room, climbed up on the chair, and tried to drink it… which resulted in coffee EVERYWHERE, including some in his mouth… so no one slept that night (like I could sleep anyway… as my poor laptop’s fate just hung in the balance).

Oh… and I was far too frazzeled to even update anyone on our winter play date with friends… when Munchie ventured into the off-limits formal living room at our friends’ house and THREW A MOTHER EFFING FABERGE EGG! (Their kid knows the room is off-limits… mine, not so much… and I certainly didn’t know WHAT was in the room.) By the grace of all that is holy… that thing didn’t even break. I seriously thought I was going to die.

This morning, Munchie was watching his daily dose of Yo Gabba Gabba and he started swinging the television. (Wall mounted TV on an arm, so it pivots. He is NOT allowed to move it… which means he does it all the freaking time.) We put our remotes on top of the TV, so he can’t reach them. Well… in all of his “Dancey Dance” excitement, the TV went swinging and the remote went FLYING, hit the ground, and busted into pieces. I didn’t even know a remote could open like that! I mean, sure… it gets dropped, thrown, etc all the time… and the batteries pop out… but the whole thing just busted apart! I tried to reassemble the darn thing… but failed. No buttons worked. Thankfully, P Bish rode in on a white stallion to save the day.

You know those coupon books kids make their parents? (Exchange this for a hug, one night off from doing dishes, or… I will clean the bathroom, vacuum the stairs, etc.) I want one of those… but I just want it to be filled with coupons that say, “I promise not to touch anything for one hour,” but knowing my kid… it would only be valid while he was sleeping (in which case, P Bish might want to use it one night when Munchie sleeps in our bed… since he likes to touch things with his toes when he sleeps… and spent all of Saturday night rubbing his feet in Daddy’s beard).

 

 

Postcard Exchange FAIL – Sorry Maryland

Postcard Fail

We are participating in a 50 States Postcard Exchange. I thought I was really cool… designed an awesome factual postcard, and I knew they were going to look great… because if you have received a card from me in the last few years, you know I use a high quality company who mails my cards for me. Well… I send my first batch of cards out… and start seeing people (from the team I mailed cards to) posting to our message board that they received a blank postcard.

Everyone was being overly nice about it and didn’t want to call anyone out and say what state it was from. Thankfully, a super sweet mom sent me a message (after I directly asked if the card was mine) to inform me that she was fairly certain it was… because there was a crab on the front. #fail #facepalm #fiftyshadesofred

I just ordered a hefty stack of my postcards from VistaPrint. They should be arriving at my house in a couple of weeks (because I wasn’t paying a kajillion dollars for shipping) and I can resend.

Sorry to my fellow Marylanders for making our state look a bit incompetent. I promise to make up for it the remainder of the year by being timely… and perhaps even rubbing some Old Bay on the cards for a bit of a scratch and sniff feature.

Family Focused Holidays – A Reflection

holidays

Last week, my editor started pestering me about the fact I hadn’t  posted a new blog in three weeks. Zoiks! Any blogger will tell you that the first rule of blogging is to post new content… even if it’s something short… but I ignored that advice… and for good reason… and it all started on Christmas morning.

Patrick and I woke up well before Munchie and headed down to tree. We opted to exchange stockings with one another before the mini tornado sounded his morning siren. As we opened, I snapped pictures. About five minutes into our exchange, my husband looked at me, sighed, and said, “Can we NOT make this an internet Christmas?” I looked up from my phone, and with a guilty conscience, closed Instagram. In that moment, I decided to begin my holiday hiatus.

Okay, it wasn’t a complete hiatus… but I did seriously minimize the amount of time I spent online. The real gift I gave my family this year was intentional attention. Honestly, it feels completely embarrassing to admit this… because it’s something my family deserves and having to remind myself to pay attention to my family makes me feel like a horrible mom/wife/daughter/sister/friend.

This year, I still took a good number of pictures throughout the holidays… but instead of editing them and sharing them with the world, I just continued to live in the moment. Do you know how much crap you miss when you are fiddling with your phone? LOADS! (Plus, it gave me more time to learn how to play the harmonica I got for Christmas!)

I have rather enjoyed my hiatus and… while I hate New Year’s Resolutions, I like having some guiding statements to live by… so I’m adding this one… BE WHERE YOUR HANDS ARE.

A few years ago, my cousin shared this with me. From time to time, I have tried to remind myself to BE WHERE MY HANDS ARE and just focus on the moment… but I haven’t been so successful. I’m going to make an earnest effort to spend more time in the moment, enjoying the little things, seeing the world through the eyes of Munchie and his friends, and enjoying life as I live it… not worrying so much about things that are less important.

If you are a constantly connected to devices, I really encourage you to do the same. As crazy as it might sound, be intentional about giving your attention to the people and things in your life that are most important… and BE WHERE YOUR HANDS ARE. You won’t regret it.

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At some point, I will probably write some back dated posts to cover our holiday experiences… but for now… I’m going to take advantage of the moment I currently have without Munchie and take down some horrible wallpaper. Don’t EVER put up wallpaper… I want to smack the previous homeowners for putting me through this hell.

 

Rent a Brother (or Sister)

Rent a Brother

I think children benefit from being around other children… not just in a social sense (though developing social skills is hella important… and yes, I just used the word hella), but also in a nurturing sense. Many children have the opportunity to grow up with siblings… but what if you only have one child? Even if you have multiple children, your oldest child doesn’t have an older sibling and your youngest child doesn’t have a younger sibling. But… what if they did? Even if it was only on occasion?

Perhaps it’s the caffeine talking, but I think having multiple children around is incredible (and yes, also a bit more complicated than just one). For months, I have watched Sweet Cheeks and Munchie develop a relationship that goes deeper than a friendship. I mean, yes… they are friends… but from being around one another on an almost daily basis, these kids started interacting like family. Friends interact, play, maybe even problem solve… but family picks on each other, comforts, and communicates without even speaking (the level on which these two understand one another is mind-boggling).

About two weeks ago, I started watching an adorable three-month old baby (Little Boo). Initially, Munchie was jealous, stole his binkie quite often, and just didn’t seem too fond of LB. Sweet Cheeks didn’t even acknowledge his presence. As the hours ticked by, the kids started to warm up to LB… and as the days have passed, not only are the other kids interacting with him, but they are helping to take care of him!

When LB cries, the other kids come running with a binkie, blanket, or toy to help cheer him up. Munchie LOVES to help feed LB… which I actually thought was going to be BIG issue, since we recently packed up ALL of Munchie’s bottles (yeah, we used bottles until 18 months… and this is me not caring about your opinions), but as long as he gets to help feed the baby, he doesn’t even try to steal the bottle! Both kids enjoy rocking LB in his various baby rocker/bouncer/seat/basket/box/receptacle/devices. They sing him songs, jump around, dance and do just about anything to make him smile. Munchie also likes to tickle Little Boo (which he did just after LB ate yesterday… and the result was baby barf all over Munchie, while he just looked at me with a squished up face saying, “Eww, Eww, Eww” in a manner that would make Jimmy Fallon proud).

I feel like this level of nurturing isn’t something that can be achieved through dolls or imaginative play… I think it’s something that needs to be experienced first hand. But, how do I propose we do this? I mean, I guess an in home daycare, where different age children have the freedom to interact with one another… or perhaps some form of child renting program… which might sound bad, but would really just be reverse babysitting… because instead of paying someone to take care of your child, you pay THEM to let your borrow theirs.

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Post caffeine high reflection:
Uhh… I think this is one of those ideas that sounded better and less creepy in my head. Don’t rent your children out to strangers. Also, to the families who currently have children in my care… I would like to revise the payment suggestions listed above, as I will NOT be writing you checks… however, I will generously let you continue funding my research on this topic. ;-)

Unexpected Nativity Fishing

I am turning fifty shades of red right now… and I have no pictures of the incident… thank goodness… but I feel compelled to document the event. I need to preface by confessing that I have no idea how to raise a boy and I am almost convinced Munchie has a clone (who lives under a pile of dirty clothes) that runs around causing trouble… for this is the only possible explanation for the amount of shenanigans that take place in our home.

I put Munchie down for a nap and head to take my shower. I flip the water on and sit down to do what most people do… take that pre-shower tinkle. As I take a seat on the porcelain throne, i notice that my foot is firmly planted on a damp bath mat.  For a moment, I sit there… absolutely perplexed. My husband showers in another bathroom… and there haven’t been any baths so far today… perhaps the dog was thirsty, but she doesn’t make a mess like this…

… AND THEN I STARTED CONNECTING THE DOTS. Yes, from my seated position, I cringe… the toilet seat has a bit of water splashed up on it. I look down to find PIECES OF OUR FREAKING NATIVITY SCENE in the toilet. I leap up in a panic, hoping to prevent myself from peeing on… Baby Jesus (and other less important props and characters from the story).

I thanked that sweet little baby Jesus that I cleaned the toilet last night (I would also like to thank Clorox), as (after not finding any helpful tools) I plunged my hand deep into the potty to retrieve the blessed hunks of plastic from their watery resting place.

After soaking in some bleach water, all nativity pieces have been returned to their place in the manger.

Oh, wait a minute… I see someone judging me. “Throw it away and buy a new one!” (Obviously someone who isn’t a parent, only has girls, or has an endless supply of cash.) Let me tell you one thing… if I threw away and replaced every item Munchie tossed in the toilet… we would need to take out a second mortgage. Bleach is cheaper. Plus… no one puts Baby Jesus in the trash.

NOT PREGNANT! (You People and Your Rumors!)

Friend: Madam. I heard a rumor about a bun in the oven. Is this truth?

Me: What the *bleep*? Most certainly NO bun in this oven. LOL. I can’t get pregnant on my current meds or we might end up with a mutant baby!

Friend: Haha, that is what I thought! I figured you would have done a big reveal if it was true.

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Please, let me just clear up any misconceptions about the current occupancy of my uterus. This organ is currently uninhabited.

AND… my friend knows me well… there would have been a big reveal (which there won’t be)… if that’s why you were waiting for our Christmas card (which you may or may not be receiving), please rest assured… we will not be announcing otherwise.

The Twists, turns, and true tales of a mom and her pint sized human

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