The Best Parent

Anyone else affected by this perpetual state of winter that we seem to be in? Now I love winter, and I love snow- probably even more than the next guy! Blizzard leaves you housebound? Love it. Snow being taller than me? Love it. Skiing, ice skating, snowman building, fort building, general trudging through the snow… I love it all! I am on the snow bandwagon. Until March. I draw the line at March.

I am tired of being stuck in the house. I am tired of only getting out to go to the store (for necessities). I am tired of the wild animals children jumping off the walls, because they too are tired of it.

Maybe I wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed by it all, if it weren’t for the fact that in the beginning of February, I went skydiving and my chute didn’t open and I fractured a bone in my wrist falling in my driveway. So between a temporary cast (fiberglass cast on the inside, ace bandage on the outside), a permanent cast (did you know they make waterproof one now??), and a hard plastic zip-up brace… I’m still fairly immobile. I actually have less mobility in this new brace than I did in the cast, but at least this one is removable. Even though I’m only supposed to remove it once a day for cleaning and “gentle movements.” *Sigh*

I’m never one of those moms where everything is always perfect, but I am one who maybe overdoes things sometimes, because I so desperately want to be one of “those” moms. You know, their home is always perfectly in order, never so much as a toy out of place. Their food is always homemade and delicious, never from a box. Their children, and themselves, always look pristine, like they just walked out of a commercial. And don’t get me started on all the arts, crafts, school activities they have time and patience for.

Ok, so sometimes I am look like that mom. I make my meals from scratch, I have a well-labeled place for every toy. I have lots of supplies for arts and crafts, along with homeschooling material. I also stay up past midnight at least once a week to keep up with the cleaning. I am ridiculously anal about things being in the right place, to the point that my 6 year old has accused me of “only being concerned about cleaning.” And while I love to cook, try out new recipes and know exactly what ingredients are in our food, I spend approximately half my life worrying about what I’m going to make for dinner. The point is, there’s always a behind-the-scenes, no matter what it looks like from the outside.

Enter the never-ending winter, accompanied by being (temporarily) one-handed… let’s just say things have gone down hill for me. My laundry is pretty much on par, but the piles of it on my bed are starting to suffocate my sleeping space. The dishes take me hours to clean, and by the end of the day my house doesn’t really look any different than when the day started, the toys are just scattered across different areas of the house. And don’t even get me started on my appearance… I have three sweatshirts that fit over the cast. That’s right, three shirts for a month. You do the math. The new brace is so uncomfortable that it makes me think of the cast fondly. And it is murder to get off. Like almost not even worth taking it off. And I can’t put it back on by myself. It’s pretty awesome. So let’s just say that if you surprise me by stopping by, you may want to hold your nose, because showers are a pain and not frequent. My normal cooking has gone down the tubes with the (lack of) ability to use my right (dominant!) hand and now consists of chicken nuggets, pizza, waffles, and yogurt. And cereal. My kids think they’ve won the lotto, while I feel like a culinary failure. And homeschooling? (*insert crazy woman laughter here*) Ok, so there are moments of glory, but today I actually threatened to send my son with going to a school where he’d spend the day sitting in a chair with no access to mommy or siblings, if he didn’t sound out a word correctly. (Don’t worry, I promptly apologized and sent myself to time out.) This is clearly not my ideal version of myself.

The truth is, even though I have some viable reasons for the shortcomings of my household as of late, it’s really just left me feeling like a failure. OK, so now you think this is just a post to complain… and you’d be wrong a little bit right. But really, it’s just to make a point of…  life. We’re all in it. We’re all in survival mode a majority of the time. Sure, we have moments of peace and ease, but then life takes over and reality sets in. Reality is life is hard. Parenting is ridiculously hard. And trying to live up to some idea that someone else has set, is never going to make anybody happy, least of all you.

My kids are not going to be upset if I spend a day playing games with them versus getting all the laundry done. And my husband is going to survive as long as he’s fed, no matter what I decide to serve up. (I’m pretty sure he’s just relieved that I’m attempting to do any cooking at all.) My kids, and my family as a whole, will always be happy and be the best versions of themselves when I am the best version of mine. And that’s what’s really important.

Cooking and cleaning can wait til tomorrow

For babies grow up, we’ve learned to our sorrow

So settle down cobwebs, and dust go to sleep

I’m rocking my baby, and babies don’t keep.

That’s my mantra for today. My house may not be perfect, my hair may not be done, and the food may not be worth mentioning, but when my children become adults, I want them to be able to say that I set aside time for them. That I was willing to get on the floor and play barbies even though every word I say is scripted for me. That I was willing to sing a silly song to help keep learning fun. That I was willing to kiss away owies, even when I was in the middle of a phone call with a client. That they know that they are what I was concerned with. Even when it’s hard, even when I simply don’t want to do it, the best version of myself is always the version where I am their mama. And hopefully, I’ll do it better tomorrow. And that’s all it takes to be the best parent for them.

If all else fails, just pour yourself another cup of coffee.

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I wanted a “perfect” family photo…and that’s just what I got. (Sidenote to my fellow baby-wearers: No worries, he’s not really falling out of my RS -nor do I wear it that low- it just looks that way in the photo due to the way I’m leaning!)

What are some of your go to tips for surviving a Minnesota winter? Do you have a daily mantra that gets you through when you’re feeling less than ideal? Please, share!

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To Eat or Not to Eat that is the Question

Little Pumpkin

Remember the days when your baby would cry and you would know they needed one of the following : diaper change, burping, or the boob. Now that LP is a toddler she is always begging for snacks. Always “food?”, Soon followed by a temper tantrum when the answer is no; But how do you know if your toddler is really hungry or just wants to snack.

For Toddlers ( ages 1-3)

Daily calories needed: 1,200-1,400

With toddlers when they are eating lunch or dinner and they tell you that they are full and they have eaten a good amount of food on the plate trust them they know. It’s natural for a toddlers appetite to change day-to-day. one day they may want to eat everything on the plate the next not so much. Research done at the University of California, San Francisco, Up to 85 percent of parents say don’t listen to their kids when they say they are full and push them to eat more (‘two more bites”) , giving them praise for having a couple more bites. This could lead to your child eating when they aren’t hungry. As a child I remember going to my grand parents house for dinner and we weren’t allowed to leave the table until out plates were clean, making us apart of the exclusive “clean plate club”. As an adult I still struggle listening to my body when I am full and not feel like I have to finish everything on my plate. Talk about your classical conditioning. So when I became a parent I knew from the beginning that clean plate would not be a requirement in my childrens lives.  Don’t get me wrong if my kid takes two bites and says All done I know the last time she at was a snack at 2 and it is now 6pm she is hungry, but if she eats most of whats on her plate yeah I’ll listen and tall her good job. If your full you are full no sweets after dinner (fruit, apple sauce, cookies, ect….).  A study done at the University of Pennsylvania found that many over weight 5 to 12 year olds aren’t receptive to their own hunger cues. Helping your child to stay aware whether they are hungry or full may go a long way to prevent obesity.

At lunch time LP eats in the living room at the coffee table with her Little chair. We don’t do this because she wants to watch tv but because she is a toddler and it’s the middle of the day. she will eat a little see a toy she wants to play with then go back to her food and eat some more. Didn’t you know toddlers have busy schedules mid day lot’s of playing to fit in before that nap. so with a PB&J sandwich and some fruit and carrot sticks that gives LP to eat food that wont get cold and still taste good even though she is grazing. As time has gone by doing this I have noticed that LP will spend more and more time eating at one time and taking fewer and fewer play breaks. While this is happening she is learning to sit at the table and eat so when we go places (friends and familys houses for dinner, Restaurants) I have noticed she isn’t as fussy to stay at the table and eat.

At Dinner I do strap her in to the high chair for a few reasons. At the tail end of cooking dinner the house is filled with yummy smells and this kicks LP hunger in high gear resulting her at my feet begging for food. So I strap her in to the high chair and hive her a coloring book with some crayons. This way she knows that I am not ignoring her request and that food is coming soon. She gets to distract herself from the hunger with an activity , and I know she isn’t going to color on the walls or wood floors so I can concentrate on dinner. Finally the high chair is at the same level as the dinning room table so we can eat as a family and she can feel apart of it.

Kids can’t tell time so sticking to a schedule is important we keep meals and snacks about three hours apart. Breakfast at 6:30am ( know she is a early riser) a Healthy snack at 9:30 Lunch at 12:30 followed by a nap, a sweets snack (cookies, fruit snacks) at 3:30 and dinner a little after 6pm. We never really have problems with LP napping because she knows that after lunch comes a nap. keeping your kids on a schedule not only keeps your kid at a healthy by “normalizing hunger, but it helps them to know whats coming next in the day giving them a sense of security.

I know every parent has tried it but giving food as a bribe is a no no. Example: Lp was upset a toy had been taken from her from one of her little friends. She was mad! so she decided to throw a temper tantrum. Hubbys solution. He offers her food because he know thats the fail safe no matter what LP will be happy if you give her food. She is a eater what can I say. When I heard him offer her a treat. I said A. you are rewarding her for throwing a TT. And B. that could lead to emotional eating. He laughed at me “emotional eating?!”. He thought I was off my rocker. “She is two.” he said. Then My friend and I explained that emotional eating is psychological and if when she is disappointed as a child and you give her food to make her feel better, as an adult she will eat when she is upset. A lot of parents use food as reward and or trying to get their kid to do something they want for food. when you do this you are sending the wrong message about food. While some parents do this from time to time for short periods claim success it’s no good to use it in excess.

Bribing your kids to eat veggies is no good as well. toddlers tastes change a lot. one week LP loves cooked carrots the next she wont touch them. just because they don’t want to eat it doesn’t mean you should try to make them eat it, they will probably eat it next week and hate something else. being mindful of what your kid doesn’t want to eat week to week and just giving a different veggie they will eat will save you from wasting food and from tears (yours and your little one 🙂 )

Well I hope this helps you on this crazy adventure we call parenting. If you have more questions, or any feed back about this post  please feel free to leave a comment we love getting feed back from our readers and members.

~Leticia 🙂

All Things Diaper Swap

All Things Diapers host Diaper swaps. Moms bring in diapers, covers and carriers in to sell to other moms. This event is always a good way for us moms to get together and since ATD had a play area for the kids it’s a great opportunity to get out of the house with the kids. On 3/09/13 we got together for the swap and decided to take a group pictures with the MCDM members that were still there.

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Love all these ladies they are nice, helpful and so caring! I can’t wait for a mommies night out so we can get together over dinner and drinks and just relax with each other! If you didn’t make it to the swap I hope that you can make it to the next one.  Check out All Things Diapers Website and check out their calendar.

Leticia