Tag Archives: Parenting

What Makes Me a Better Mom? No Kids and No Hubby

After my whirlwind weekend away with the girls, I noticed I was basquing in an afterglow of sorts. When my toddler dove into shrill screams of protest, I shrugged it off and kept going. When hubby forgot to take out the trash, again, I sighed. Well, he’ll just have to do it later.

Wait. Who is this patient person?

I noticed she shows up like clockwork right after I get a break from my husband and my kid and get to be me, not the cleaning-cooking-nose-and-butt-wiping-attentive-partner me. But just me.

This past week I’ve brought more order to my house, crossing items off my to-do list that have been there since January. I’ve been able to listen better to the trials and tribulations of my husband’s job and my little guy’s tantrums seem less intense and more amusing. I even made Mickey Mouse-shaped, whole wheat pancakes on Saturday, which *totally* isn’t me. (It was bad. M&Ms were the eyes and nose, and I carved a strawberry into a smile.)

I believe I do a really good job of carving out “me” time. Out of all my mommiefriends I feel I do that the most and I think I’m much better for it. It can be hard to take time away, you feel guilty for not wanting to be with the loves of your life, but you have to remember, you are a love of of your life too and you must nurture that.

Plus your partner appreciates you more when he’s walked a bit in your shoes and your kids are sweeter (even if it’s short-lived) because they’ve missed you.

All mommies know this, we just need to force ourselves to make it a priority. It’s easy to lose who you are in the day-to-day grind of life, but taking time out to do whatever you want without your kid and your soulmate is an essential touchstone. It makes me a better mommy and wife because it keeps me happy.

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Sippy Cups & Social-Networking: Togetherville a Facebook for Kids

 Have you guys heard about the new website Togetherville? It’s essentially Facebook 4 Kids.

The social networking site is for children ages 6 to 10 and their parents. Togetherville makes a lot of strides to provide a safe place for kids to interact online. Though they can do art projects, play games and swap videos, everything is vetted first. Like Facebook, kids can have friends, interact with children of their parents friends and they can comment on posts and make status updates or “quips.” The comments however are canned and innocent: I (heart) my family!

All of this sounds good, but what’s the point and will it catch on? I’m sure the same questions were asked of Twitter and look how that turned out. But still sippy cups and social networking?

Togetherville says that as kids in what I call the iGeneration are more plugged into their gadgets there’s a need for a safe place for them to practice healthy social-networking habits. It says it helps them to become “good digital citizens.”

One of my girlfriends told me recently how her 6-year-old threw a fit because she wasn’t allowed to get her own Facebook account. My friend’s compromise is that they share mom’s. But you can easily see where that could get sticky. All of a sudden you’ve got 7-year-olds posting random stuff on your wall or some high school cockroach making inappropriate comments that you can’t delete quite fast enough.

Togetherville would work well for them, but it’s like all social networking, if no one participates what fun would it be. Would you be on Facebook as much if there were only 30 people in the Facebook world, as opposed to the 410 million that are there today?

So we’ll see. I have to admit I’m skeptical, but intrigued.

Work Evaluations vs. Mom Evaluations

 

Work evaluations, we’ve all had them. Each year (or about that) managers reach out to discuss our performance. There’s often an e-mail that gives you a heads up that a review is coming, which is sometimes followed by a self-appraisal. There’s forms with words like “Exceeds Expectations, Meets Expectations, Needs Improvement.” Also eventually comes the conversations where “stretch goals,” “development” and even “career paths” are discussed.

It’s all very structured, very tidy.

Very different from mom evaluations. Those come with no warning, no forms, no regular timing and certainly no structure. And when you get a bad one, it can cut. Deep.

The review on how good of a mom you are can come from anywhere. This morning my little guy turned to me, unprompted, and said “Mommy you’re my best friend.” Or it can be a teacher who brags to you about the thoughtfulness of your 16-year-old.

Then there’s the disapproving looks at the store when your child is screaming, thrashing and essentially frothing at the mouth. Your mommy friends who are surprised your toddler is *still* using a pacifier. The tween who screams she hates you, and the fire in her eyes lets you know she means it. Then there’s the jarring heart-to-heart with the 30-year-old who tells you all of the pain you’ve caused.

And we can’t forget the harshest critic of all: Ourselves. How many times have we flogged ourselves for misdeeds minor, major or imagined?

Momevals are hard to receive constructively because it’s a judgment on something we hold dear, our life’s passion. But all evaluations are hard and no one wants a bad one.

The thing to do is to put them into the proper perspective. (He’s not going to take his pacifier to college and she won’t hate you forever) If you’ve made mistakes, admit them, learn from them and move on. After all you’re trying your best.

Eating My Words … (Again)

I sent my kid to daycare today with flashing shoes and a black Thomas the Tank Engine T-shirt. I’ve become that parent. The following is Case No. 849 of me eating my words:

Before Logan, I’d see kids in stores and on the streets covered in over-the-top animations of cars, trucks, fairies, princesses, Care Bears, Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and every other Disney character imaginable. I’d make a judgmental mental note, when I have kids, they’re not going to look like an advert for the Cartoon Network.

Some of these kids also had shoes with blinking lights, bells and horns. Horns!!!! But mine wouldn’t.

This week we go shoe shopping and unfortunately not the kind of shoe shopping that used to culminate in boxes of edgy stilts and flirty wedges. It’s shoe shopping at JCPenney in the “family section.” I go there for shoes for the little guy because you get good brands for very little cost. We mostly do Stride Rite, but I don’t like Stride Rite prices. Plus if your kid suffers a meltdown, no worries, you’re surrounded by sympathetic moms.

So I’m there, checking out the selection and Logan spots these black gawd-awful shoes with plastic red cars. “I want THAT ONE!” I tried to make snazzy gray Sketchers seem cool, but they were no match for the red car shoes that blinked red. I caved. I bought them, and he couldn’t have been happier hopping out of the store with strobing shoes.

The shirt was also a recent purchase and I saw it, knew he’d love it and told myself it wasn’t as horrible because the shirt was black. (The lies we tell ourselves! It’s actually very, very ugly)

But that’s the way it is. You think you’ll be one kind of parent and your kid teaches you that you’re another. And it’s all perfectly fine because they’re the greatest, hardest lessons you’ll learn.

An iTouch for a Toddler? ARE YOU CRAZY?!?!?!?

That’s what I said to my husband when he told me he wanted to get Logan an iTouch for his 3rd birthday. I repeat THIRD birthday.

Hubby and I are gadget geeks and we ooo and ahhhh over the latest iPods,iPhones, iTouch, iPads and iWonderWhatThey’llThinkOfNexts. And I believe we try to be somewhat sensible when it comes to getting stuff for Logan.

Which is why when hubby asked me if I thought we could get Logan an iTouch I was shocked. A 3-year-old? Really? What’s the point? There’s educational apps, he tells me. What’s wrong with books? (I has a half-a-second from pulling out the ol’ “Back in my day….”) I began to suspect we’re going to buy this iTouch “for Logan,” but it’ll really be for hubby. But he insists, nope, it’s for the half-pint.

So, a $300 toy for a 3 year old? Not sure I can get over that. I mean, I can still hear the sound of his portable DVD player bouncing down the stairs when he chucked it mid-tantrum. (Surprisingly, it survived the nearly fatal fall.)

A few days later, I asked a woman who’s been an educator for years what she thinks of these devices for little ones. To my surprise she says it’s great. In fact she just got back from a conference in Chicago where the iPad was being touted as a wonderful education tool, especially for special needs kids. They’re already in some schools. You can do speech therapy, cover your ABCs and 123s, colors, animals and sounds. Apparently its bright colors and sleek design are ideal for capturing kids’ attention and as far as the iTouch, they’re perfectly sized for little hands. Though she recommended the  youngest of the iGeneration be 5 years old.

Who knew? Even though it’s been almost three years, I’m still adjusting to looking through the world with parental lenses.

iPods, iPads, iTouch for kids… iDon’tKnow, but maybe my hubby isn’t as crazy as I thought. What would you do?

It Takes an Online Village to Raise a Child

Social Networking has left its thumb print on us all. You’re reading this blog, you’ve undoubtedly run across cringe-inducing TMI on someone’s Facebook page and if you Tweet, you’ve shared a bit of randomness yourself. It’s music, news, politics, business, sports, celebrity gossip and your gossip, nothing is untouched. Not even parenting.

The websites are too many to count: Baby Center, Parenting, JustMommies, Baby Zone, and GreatDad just to name a few. But they all serve to bring us together as parents so we can… well crowd source our parenting.

You just found out your pregnant, you hop online and begin to scour these sites for any and all tidbits and so it begins: Am I the only one who’s freaked out about having a baby? What on earth is going on with my boobs? My baby will only sleep during the day, help!

And helpful it is. There’s advice after advice after advice. Some of it is really good and you connect closely with people who are on the same leg of this mommy journey as you.

I was lucky enough to join two wonderful only communities when I was pregnant with my son Logan. I’ve been part of these two particular boards, as they’re called, for three years. These women know me. They know me and love me warts and all and I love them just as unconditionally. I’ve met some of them in person, which is always so exciting and seven of us are planning a girls weekend next month in Chicago.

We’ve been through a lot together. Not just the birth of our children and various bumps and bruises, there’s been miscarriages, one woman lost her husband who was fighting overseas, lost jobs, new jobs, new homes, marriages on the brink of divorce and couples rekindling their love.

We’re a varied group, some work in the home, others outside the home. Some have financial difficulties, other’s are well-off, we’ve got staunch liberals and staunch conservatives. But our connectivity is our glue. We support each other, help each other in any way we can, even if it’s just listening to a rant.

My how times have changed. With grandma no longer down the hall, down the street or even across town, recent generations have raised children with a lot less support than decades past. Social networking has changed all that as we’ve created our own community.

Good thing too because this parenting thing is tough stuff and it does take a village.