When There Is No More Clean Underwear

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The laundry started to pile up last weekend.  My type A personality aims to wash, dry and fold at least one load of laundry per day to avoid an overrun of dirty laundry but the days became busier and busier and the laundry piled higher and higher.  There are four laundry baskets rationed among the six people in our home.  The problem with children is that they go through clothing at a much quicker pace than adults.  Pee, poo, spilled milk, paint, snot and the like will typically contribute to a greater need for multiple outfit changes throughout the day.  Cue the need for a daily laundry session to calm my fear of disorganization and chaos.  To make matters worse, if you have a Fancy Nancy in your house like my three year old, the laundry piles up even more.  The problem with a Fancy Nancy is that although his/her parents will only allow one outfit change per day, they conveniently create an issue with their clothing to give you no choice but to change their clothes.  For example:

Fancy Nancy: “Mommy, can I change my shirt?  This one isn’t sparkly enough.”

Me: “No, honey. This is what you are wearing today.”

Several minutes later, Fancy Nancy prances to the bathroom

Fancy Nancy: “Mommy, my shirt is all wet.  I tried to wash my hands but the water got all over me.  Now can I change my shirt?”

Me: “Alright you sneaky shit head.”

Note that ‘shit head’ is whispered under my breath.

 And so, the laundry piles up even more.

As parents, the days and weeks can get jammed packed with things that leave little time for laundry, cleaning and meal preparation.  Before you know it, you’re staring inside your empty fridge contemplating if dill pickles and slightly expired yogurt could qualify as dinner.  Unfortunately, this is the reality for most of us parents.  We have those weeks when you just can’t seem to keep your head above water.  You look around your house and pray that you have no unexpected visitors because every room looks like a disaster hit, yet you don’t have the energy to pick it up at the end of a very long and stressful day.  And so, the laundry piles up until one day, your son tells you five minutes before going to school that he has no clean underwear left in his drawer.  You consider letting him borrow some of your older daughter’s Hello Kitty underwear but figure it’s a better call for him to wear some clean looking, day old underwear of his own.  After he heads off to school in his slightly dirty underwear, you make it your number one priority to throw a load of laundry into the washing machine, even if it’s during peak electricity time.  Slowly but surely, that laundry gets through the wash, hangs out in the dryer for a day or so while your kids pick out the clean clothing that they need each morning.  You finally find a bit of time to haul the rest of the clothing out of the dryer where it stays in your bedroom in the laundry basket for another day or two.  The basket gets torn apart as your kids search for more required clothing items.  Then finally, one night, you finally get the energy to get some chores done.  That laundry is folded and put away where it belongs and your children have clean underwear back in their drawer, at least for now.

As parents, we need to give ourselves a break every once in a while.  There are days and weeks when you feel like you’re drowning and hate that you can’t even make your children a healthy dinner or provide them with clean clothing but you will find the time and energy to do so in a day or two.  Want to know the best part?  Your kids could care less if their bathroom is less than sparkling and find pleasure in rooting through the laundry basket to find some clean socks.  Your children value the time you can spend with them, not the clean house they live in (at least when they’re young).  On top of that, a Happy Meal or two during the week is a bonus for kids and they are probably thankful that you didn’t have the time to go grocery shopping that day.

So enjoy these moments with your kids because soon, you’ll have more time to wash underwear and stock your fridge with more viable food options.  Even better, they might, just might learn how to do a load of laundry themselves or do useful chores rather than the half-assed bed making or table setting that they attempt now.  They grow up quick and a day or two with day old underwear isn’t the end of the world in the grand scheme of things.

Bathrooms & Bladders

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Can someone please explain how the hell children’s bladders operate?  Why is it that when you ask them if they need to go to the bathroom, their immediate answer, without even thinking, is “no”.  It’s like an automated response.  “Josh, do you need to go to the bathroom?”  “NO.”

I swear these bladders are out to fuck with us parents and kids just go along for the ride.  It’s like a peer pressure thing – the bladder is the bully and the child is being controlled by this insensitive little piss organ.  A child is born and immediately the bladder starts sending messages to the child’s brain – “Pee right when your mom opens up your diaper, she doesn’t have an extra set of clothes in that diaper bag today so let’s teach her a lesson.” OR “Look offended the next time your dad asks if you need to go the bathroom.  How dare he question your ability to hold in your pee.” OR “Sure, you might need to pee a little bit while you’re at home, but if you tell your mom you need to pee badly in the car, she might pull over to the nearest Tim’s and you know what that means…..Timbits!!!”

Fuck you bladder.

My kids’ bladders are also very erratic.  Sometimes, they go from zero to sixty on the pee meter.  One minute they’re belting out an off key rendition of Mary Had A Little Lamb in the car and the next thing you know, it’s code orange in the back seat.  My child will grip onto the sides of his booster, wiggle wildly back and forth and scream to the pee gods that he has to pee NOW.  Meanwhile, I’m breaking one driving law after the other in a desperate search for the nearest place to stop – McDonald’s, gas station, even a patch of grass will work at this point.  At the same time, the anger is rising inside of me and I am furious with this little lying pee machine that promised me he didn’t have to go five minutes ago when we left the house.  How, all of a sudden, does his bladder just go into overdrive and he’s not able to wait a god damn minute for me to find a respectable place for him to pee?

If it’s not zero to sixty, my kids will hold it in at around a fifty nine and dance around like a monkey that just dislocated his hip.  Throughout these disjointed movements, they swear left and right and up and down that there is no way in hell that they have to pee.  “I’m just dancing.”  “My hip is itchy.” “There’s something slippery on the floor”.  Forcing them to pee does me no good because the moment I put their little tushy on the toilet, their bladder pulls out its secret weapon, a giant, super strong magnet that miraculously holds their pee inside their bladder for the few minutes they are being forced to sit on the toilet.  Unfortunately, this fucked up magnet releases its magic powers within a few minutes of those bare bums being covered back up with their clothes and likely sitting on a fabric couch or standing on top of an area rug (god forbid they pee on some tile).  When that pee starts streaming down their leg, they just stand there and stare at me as if I’m supposed to feel sorry for them.  Whoever said that you shouldn’t make a child feel bad for having an accident never had a five year old that obviously knew he had to pee but out of spite and control and whatever other psychological issue you can attribute it to makes a point by peeing in his pants.

Screw you bladder.

My three year old’s bladder is pretty special, just like she is.  When my daughter decides that she doesn’t like the outfit she’s wearing, she’ll normally let out a few drops of pee.  Just enough to need to change the bottom part of her wardrobe.  The top part can be easily changed by a quick trip to the bathroom sink to wash her hands and get some water on her sleeve.  She’s clever, I’ll give her that.

Unfortunately, I can’t provide you fellow parents going through this hell with any solace.  All I can say is that you’re not alone for this frustrating and impossible ordeal.  Just keep in mind that they won’t be pulling this shit on you when they are 10 and you are driving him and his friends to a movie.  This too shall pass……

**Disclaimer – this post was written immediately after I endured a pee incident in the car so my frustration level is very, very high.**

 

A Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day

 

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I had one of those days today.  Those days when you glare angrily at your well rested little princess who flutters into your dark bedroom ready to tackle the day at 6am on a PA Day.  Those days where you truly believe that leaving the house and your children alone to their own devices is in their best interest.  Those days when every annoying little trait that your child possesses is amplified 150% like when they spill their drink and then stare aimlessly at the wall as it drips off the table, onto their pant leg and to the floor into a sticky pool of grossness just in time for your youngest to crawl under the table through the pool of grossness toward a 2 day old Cheerio.   To snap them out of their moment of stupidity, you scream, loud, so they pick up the freakin’ cup that continues to drip out more juice with every passing second.  Then cue the water works as they get upset that you yelled at them.

Do you ever have those days?

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These days last FOREVER and usually end just as bad as they started.  Your kids go to bed truly believing that you are a monster and contemplating filing for emancipation.  Before I put my kids to bed tonight, I had a moment of clarity.  I decided to speak to my kids about my shitty ass day and how they played a part in making it even shittier (in nicer words, of course).  I explained that certain things like calling my name every three minutes without actually knowing what they want to say or tattling on one of their siblings for grazing past their shoulder causing no pain or anguish whatsoever are things that frustrate me and need to be stopped, for my sanity and for their safety.  I asked them to tell me what things Mommy does or says that make them upset throughout the day, which my 7-year-old jumped all over.  She did raise some good points like when I decided to take her extra-large, invasive fort down for part of the day that was stationed in our playroom blocking every single toy that we owned.  We agreed that her fort could be relocated to a room with less traffic and I promised not to dismantle it without asking her the next time.  She seemed to be satisfied with that arrangement and went to bed with less fear that her mother was a psychopath.  Of course, her younger siblings were a little more difficult to reason with.  Have you ever tried reasoning with a three-year old?  It’s like trying to explain the negative effects of global warming to Donald Trump.  They just won’t see your rational, scientifically proven perspective on the matter and instead, will bring up completely irrelevant points or dismiss your sensible viewpoint altogether.  So, I tried my best to explain that we need to work together as a team and have a better day tomorrow.

Crappy parenting days are part of the job description.  We can’t expect everyday to be a picture perfect Facebook moment.  Look forward to the good days and put the bad days behind you.  In fact, forget the bad days ever happened because I can guarantee you that your kids will too.  Don’t hang onto the moments when you lost your mind because you can’t be expected to keep your cool around children 100% of the time.  They will drive you to drink, swear, develop frown lines and grow gray hair sooner than you thought but they are kids and they also make you laugh, think, play and love like you never have before.

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Public Tantrums

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Children are born with or without the public tantrum gene and parents who were blessed with a child lacking this gene have a natural inclination to judge those parents whose children have the gene.  It’s understandable and I did the same for the few blissful years that I was living without a tantrum crazed child.  Unfortunately, karma kicked me in the ass for my disapproving thoughts.

My first children were born without the gene,  which is probably the reason I felt as though I could handle one or two more.   Unfortunately,  the law of averages kicked in and my last two children frequently prove that they have the public tantrum gene.   This gene will normally turn their tantrum frequency to the highest setting the moment they enter a public setting.

You normally have two choices when dealing with public tantrums.   One – remove your child as quickly as possible from the scene of the crime.   Use your superhero strength to confine the flailing arms and legs and maintain  consistent eye contact with the ground as you make a swift exit to the closest door while those in your path to sanctity judge your parenting abilities and consider calling CAS on your pathetic ass.

Two –  own that shit.   Your child is a lean, mean fighting machine but you are not going to be silenced by this little, phoney baloney punk who thinks she’s going to get her way with a few rolls around the grocery store aisle.  Stick to your guns and refuse to give into the meltdown that is brewing its way to the top.

I once saw this amazing mother who stood in front of the dairy section of the grocery store staring at the yogurt.   She held her ground like a boss as her three or four year old son screamed like a maniac, demanding some ridiculous demand that only a child can think up.  She even waved down a store employee to ask if they carried a certain brand of yogurt while her son pounded the floor next to her feet.  I stood in awe and vowed from that day forward that my kids weren’t going to take advantage of my preference to look like a mother who has her shit together.  Screw that, I’m part of the bad mom crew and am determined to show my kids that I am not to be messed with.

Children also have unique tantrum styles, including:

  1. The self-abuser: one of my children will literally slap her own face and pull her hair while she has a tantrum.  While I try to do the humane thing and try to stop her form mutilating herself, I am also cautious not to get hurt in the process.
  2. The wipeout: I’ve seen children sprint like they were being chased by a four eyed monster and then just suddenly collapse onto the floor and continue their tantrum with their face pressed against the floor (it makes for a pretty good scene).
  3. The tugger: my children have almost pulled my pants completely off in their fit of rage.  They grab onto whatever piece of clothing is the most accessible and tug like there’s no tomorrow.
  4. The destroyer: these children will destroy anything in their path and you need to take that child down as quickly as possible, especially if they decide to lose their shit in the olive oil or pasta sauce section of the grocery store.
  5. The stop, drop and roll: my youngest is the best at this style of tantrum.  The moment she hears the word ‘no’, she’ll stop right in her tracks, drop down to her knees and roll around the floor.
  6. The drama king or queen: these kids will throw their heads back, scream towards the heavens and cry like the baby that they are.

Of course, I do exercise a bit of kindness and common sense when I can.  Taking a favourite snack or book to the grocery store will sometimes help to keep the tantrums at bay.  It’s not like I’m wishing for these moments to happen but I am more willing to deal with them in a way that I think is the most effective.  Ignoring this behaviour will eventually teach these little bad asses that this conduct will not be rewarded or tolerated.  Of course, you have to deal with the scrutiny of others but you should be used to that as a parent by now.

Finally, next time you see another parent enduring a tantrum crazed child, give them a high five, props, a chest bump, a bottle of vodka or anything else that you feel will help them feel that they are not alone.  Let’s stick together and show these mini mes that we are not going to lose the war on tantrums.

This Too Shall Pass

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Baby phases – those God awful funks that babies fall in and out of from time to time.  One minute, you and your baby are lovin’ life.  She has finally learned to sleep through the night, progressed to eating three meals a day…….hell, she’s almost ready to move out and get a full-time job.  Hold up.  Not so fast.  That crazy baby has some sort of epiphany that is going to screw with you for the next few weeks.  And those few weeks can feel like a few decades when you’re dealing with whatever crap is being thrown your way.  Teething, a sudden fear of baths, a compulsion to throw every piece of food from their high chair, hatred for being changed on a changing table – these are just a few of the deranged “phases” that our babies fall into.  Some of these phases we can live with and others can turn your life upside down for however long your baby needs to work through her issues.

I have just completed, in my opinion, one of the worst baby phases ever – the 18 month sleep regression.  This phase is absolutely brutal and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.  Just Google “18 month sleep regression” and you will read countless nightmares from parents about how their innocent little baby has turned into a sleep deprived monster who is out to ensure her entire family suffers in the process.  My daughter took three weeks to complete this phase, starting with an expertly crafted escape route from her crib.  She managed to climb up the front of her crib and launch herself over and onto the floor.  She made herself a soft landing by throwing her blanket onto the floor first (she’s so smart).  Then she’d come to my bedroom and creepily stand beside my bed like a horror movie baby about to unleash whatever fucked up shit horror movie babies like to do to their innocent victims.  The first time she did this, I nearly had a heart attack.  WTF?  How the hell did you get out?!?!

Once we turned her crib around so that the higher wall was facing out, my daughter got angry…..very angry.  She got up multiple times a night and screamed for hours.  She refused to nap, took an hour to fall asleep and woke up in a nasty ass mood. Of course, sleeping through this racket was not an option, although I seriously considered bringing someone in to sound proof her room.

Parents don’t get enough sleep as it is but when you throw in a pattern of little to no sleep, your parenting skills and abilities get thrown down the toilet.  You begin to loathe your sweet little baby and give her dirty looks when she’s not looking at you (or when she’s looking).  You swear under your breath (or over your breath) as you deal with her cranky behaviour throughout the day.  If you have other children, God help them because they won’t get a different, more patient Mommy.  They’re experiencing the same scary Mommy who is handling your younger, stupid,  18 month old sleep regression sibling.

The good news?  This phase will pass just like all the others.  It just did for me and I’m already starting to feel the love for my daughter again.  Once you’re through it, those days or weeks of torture, don’t seem as bad as you remember.  Also, not every child goes through the same awful phases as others so the 18 month sleep regression might pass you by (fingers crossed!).

Finally, whenever you are going through a rough patch with your child, do what makes sense for you and your family to help the situation.  Don’t worry what the experts or parenting sites tell you.   Sure, listen and read advice about the issue you are dealing with but do what makes you the most comfortable.  On the nights where I couldn’t take the screaming and constant walks to my daughter’s bedroom, she slept beside me.  Sure, I read that she’d get used to this upgraded sleeping arrangement or realize that if she screamed long enough, she would get to come to bed with me, but I had to do it to get some much needed rest.  Guess what?  She’s now back in her crib sleeping through the night so it looks like I haven’t screwed her up…..at least not this time.

Weekend Mornings with Kids – The Struggle is Real

Once upon a time, Saturday mornings were a pleasure.  I’d wake when there was sunlight, the newspaper would be read and my coffee would be warm from the first sip to the last. I would make myself breakfast and eat it fully once it was prepared.  My bare feet would glide across the floor without a care in the world.   Morning chores like cleaning out the dishwasher were a minor inconvenience and were completed within minutes.

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My children have ruined my enjoyment of weekend mornings.  I wake up to darkness and crying children.  The newspaper sadly sits on the front porch until it is ready to be transferred to the recycling bin.  If I’m lucky, my coffee is made but left sitting on the counter until the milk separates from the coffee.  My breakfast sometimes consists of floor cereal or my children’s scraps.  If I’m lucky, I do manage to make myself a breakfast after my children have eaten their second or third breakfast.  Unfortunately, my kids feel as though they are entitled to their fair share of my breakfast too.  My gluten-free peanut butter toast is considered the best meal ever.  God forbid I try to make them a piece of much less expensive and much more delicious gluten-full peanut butter toast of their own.  It just isn’t the same if Mommy’s not enjoying it first. If I have the opportunity to sit while I eat, I am always kept company with a child on my lap and another little breakfast thief invading my personal space in a chair beside me while they rip apart my breakfast piece by piece until I’m left craving floor cereal and cold coffee.  Defeated, I bring my empty dish along with my empty stomach to the sink while my bare feet collect a variety of breakfast crumbs.  Cleaning out the dishwasher is a major feat as my youngest tries to help empty out the knives and climb on the opened dishwasher door to reach the upper rack of glasses. This is the point where one or two of my kids drag themselves back into the kitchen in agony complaining they are hungry and want a snack.  Somehow, Saturday morning cartoons take up more energy than the sustenance three breakfasts they ate ten minutes ago can provide.

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In the grand scheme of things, I need to keep telling myself that this is a short phase.  For now, all I can do is suck it up and look forward to Monday mornings when at least half of these breakfast vandals are out the house, giving me a fighting chance for at least a few extra bites of my own breakfast.

Ten Free or Cheap Kids Activities- Winter Edition

I love my kids.  I love spending time with my kids.  But some days I want to lose my mind, especially when I feel trapped inside with them on a cold, winter day.  As a mom who works from home, a lot of my daytime is spent with my children.  Over the years, I have learned that it’s important to a) create a routine for yourself and your little ones each week and b) get out of the damn house as much as you can so you don’t go bonkers.  While the task of getting out of the house in the winter can drive you to drink, once you are out and change up the scenery, your outlook on the day can improve considerably.  Taking the kids out can be expensive so here is my top ten list of cheap/free activities you can do on those days where you know your children might not make it to the end of the day unless you get out:

  1. Toy Store /Book Store: my kids could spend hours browsing through the various sections of a toy store.  I’ve also trained them to expect nothing from these trips, which helps to reduce the likelihood of me dragging them out of the store kicking and screaming.  My favourite places to go include Toys R Us, Chapters and Mastermind.  One piece of advice – put the toys back on the shelves where they belong.  While I’m sure most stores don’t mind you browsing, they probably don’t appreciate you moving toys to different parts of the store, especially in large quantities. 2015-10-16-11-43-41
  2. Library: I love my local libraries!  I am lucky to live within a 10 minute drive of a few different options so it’s nice to switch up the location each week.  Most libraries have free morning programs (i.e. singalongs, story times), computers with kids activities, colouring pages, games and of course, books.  All of this is absolutely free.  Just make sure to return your books on time! img_20161005_201322
  3. Pet store: kids love animals – from the fish to the adorable dogs – you can keep them entertained for a while. 2014-12-28-11-06-52
  4. Early Years Centresas a resident of Ontario, I love to take advantage of the free programs offered at the Early Years Centres in my community.  You can normally find lots of unique and fun activities at each centre, including painting, play-dough, sand tables, dress up areas, craft table and singalongs. 20160919_094826
  5. IkeaI love hanging out at Ikea!  My older kids have a great time at Smaland, a separate play area for kids ages 4 – 10 that is free.  You can leave your children for 60 minutes of uninterrupted shopping in this play area, which leaves you plenty of time to check out all of your ‘BESTÅ‘ options for an organized home!  If your children are younger, it’s always fun to hang out in the kids furniture section and check out all of the creative rooms while your kids can try out the beds, play with the stuffed animals and go through a tunnel or two.  Finish up your visit with a $1 ice cream cone or a $1.50 hot dog!  20161209_114251
  6. The Mall: kids are up early, which means you can normally get to the mall right when it opens and before the crowds arrive.  This gives your kids lots of room to run around without running into anybody else.  While the kid rides in the middle of the mall can be a pretty easy cash grab for parents, my younger kids don’t know much better and typically climb on and off the rides without asking for me to shell out $1 each time.  2014-12-27-14-30-46
  7. Join Local Facebook Groups and Organize Meet-Ups: it’s not too hard to find local parent groups with eager parents looking to set up play-dates at each other’s houses.  Your kids can play together and you can have some adult conversation at the same time, even if most of the subjects will consist of your children’s eating and pooping habits.
  8. City-Run Programs: while not free, your city likely offers lots of children’s programs throughout the week at community centres nearby at a fraction of the cost of privately-run programs.  This also gives parents the chance to meet others parents who live in the neighbourhood.  20161005_094522
  9. Michael’s Arts and Craftsagain, not completely free but Michael’s holds lots of fun programs and activities throughout the week.  The Kids Club (for children ages 3 and up) at our local Michael’s is on Saturday mornings from 10am – 12pm.   For just $2, you get all of the supplies to make a really creative craft.
  10. Community Centre Recreational  Swim/Recreational Skate: check out your local community pools and skating rinks for their recreational schedule.  Some centres might be completely free while others charge a small fee.

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Have fun this winter!!