Friday, June 27, 2014

Parent hacks

My posts have slowed down lately as I have gone back to work full time.  I am fortunate to have found a job that I enjoy, working with a very committed and talented group of people.

As any working parent knows, working and parenting forces one to be more creative with their time. Especially when you spend 8+ hours in an office.  That leaves the rest of the day for waking up, preparing meals, getting the kids obstacle course style to where they need to go, mad dashing it to work, continuing the relay race of pick up (bonus points for picking multiple children up from multiple locations) dinner, bath, bed, pass out on the couch.

For me the thing the basics get done during the day- child care, meal prep, chauffeuring, etc.  Errands, personal time (what's that) and friend time unfortunate get pushed to the side.  Grocery shopping has to be done in person so that usually gets pushed to the evenings or weekend evenings as I refuse to grocery shop with my children in tow (can you blame me)?  I am always looking for creative ways to squeeze things into my day.  Here are my favorite hacks.  What are yours?

  • Errands at work.  I try to maximize my efficiency by running errands that are withing walking distance to my work.  I used to work near a CVS.  Have I bought milk and stored it in the mini fridge in my office until it was time to go?  Yes I have.  You can get a significant amount of grocery shopping done at a CVS including kids snacks, diapers, cards, gift cards, eggs..the basics.  I also work on a medical campus.  I may have bought balloons for baby showers and birthday parties at the hospital gift shop a time or two.  Now I work near an awesome market that sells fresh produce.  Perfect for that mid week lull when my kids have eaten though all the fruit in our fridge.
  • Amazon.  This is such a time saver I can not even begin to profess my love for it.  Prime membership is worth its weight in gold. Forgot to buy a birthday present?  Two day shipping will get it there before the party.  Out of toilet paper?  You can get that delivered to your door. 
  • Costco.  I dont think I actually save any money here however because my kids eat granola bars like they are going out of style this saves me from making multiple trips to the store within a week.
  • Personal time.  This basically = my commute.  People say how bad Atlanta traffic is.  That is true.  However most days I don't mind.  I have 40 minutes each way by myself with no one else in the car.  I have discovered Fresh Air on NPR. I catch up with my friends.  I have time to think.  It is as wonderful as it sounds.  FYI if you need to reach me- call me during my commute!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Why I love being a parent...

No this is not an April fools joke post.  Since my recent postings I have gotten two main types of feedback.  The first from my friends with kids, is "were you spying on me and my kids?"  The second, is mostly from my sister's friends who are in their 20's is, "OMG I am never having kids."

So this post is mostly for the second group.  But it is also for me.  I think with all of the work we do as parents, inside and out of the house, it can be easy to lose sight of the good stuff.  We get caught up in the day to day tasks of cleaning, and cooking, and working and shlepping, and wiping which are not so fun.  It drives me nuts when someone has a new baby, or someone whose kids are grown says to me, "enjoy every moment".  I have not met one parent who enjoys every moment of parenting.  I don't think it is possible to enjoy every moment of anything!  Nobody enjoys cleaning up bodily fluids, or being sleep deprived.  FYI.

But every day there are moments that make me love being a parent and so here is my list of the good stuff for today.

- Kids are hysterical:  Every day my kids do stuff that cracks me up.  Most of the time I am laughing at them and not with them.  But if I do want to laugh with them, all I need to do is poke their bellies or say the word "fart" and there are instant hysterics.  And then I crack up.  Try not to laugh when you child is hysterically laughing.  It's impossible.  Also sometimes its funny when they have a tantrum for a ridiculous reason (they didn't get to open the door, or eat mud, or play with knives, etc).  Have you seen this website?  I love it.

- I get to relive my childhood.  Today I got to go on a field trip with my daughter's class to the children's museum and it was so much fun.  The kids get so excited and I remember how much fun field trips were when I was in school.  Also on our most recent trip, I totally saw Disney World in a new light.  Also you get to go places that if you went as a single adult people would think you were creepy like playgrounds, kids movies, children's museums, etc.  And that stuff is fun, even for adults!

- You realize simple pleasures.  We had the best family outing the other day.  We took the kids to an ice cream stand in a train car.  It is next to the railroad tracks so you can watch the trains go by and eat ice cream.  My kids were in heaven.  Often times we think as parents we have to do all this big fancy stuff to make ourselves and our kids happy.  But really it is the simple things that have the biggest impact, and are sometimes the most fun.

-Kids learn stuff.  All the time.  And there is nothing that makes me prouder as a parent when I get to see that happen.

-Someone is happy to see me every day.  When I pick my kids up from daycare in the afternoon I get the best reception, like teenagers on Justin Bieber.  My son screams my name and jumps on me.  And it is awesome.

- I get to raise children with my husband. I love my husband and I am lucky enough to have him be my partner in crime through this parenting stuff.  And even though they wear us down sometimes they also bring us closer.  And there is nothing better than seeing that your partner loves your kids as much as you do.

- I get to see my parents be grandparents.  My kids are so lucky.  They have 4 amazing grandparents who love spending time with them whether it is in person or virtually through skype/facetime.  They also have 4 great grandparents who are equally amazing.

Ok so enough mushiness for today.  I promise, next post I will get back to complaining about cleaning up poop and vomit.  But for today- happy things.  What are your favorite things about being a parent?

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Extra curricular activities

Our oldest started Kindergarten this year and with it came many changes including our introduction to organized sports and extra curricular activities.  When she was in preschool we mostly kept our weekends clear of extra stuff as our weekdays were so hectic.  Once she started school I felt the pressure to sign her up for something.

I know I should not feel pressure but I do and here's why.  At this age she does not know what she is good at nor does she have an interest in much except for watching television and terrorizing her brother.  Good news- those are not activities that cost us extra money.  Bad news- you can not put those on a college application.

Ok for real we are not preparing her college application now.  But here is my dilemma with waiting until she shows an interest in something, especially sports.  Now days kids start sports so early that if she decides she's interested in starting a new sport when she's 10 its basically like an 8th grader trying to go into the NBA.  And she is a kid that wants to be perfect at everything the first time she tries it.  Also given her gene pool she is not likely to be blessed with natural athletic ability so she could use a head start.

So she did soccer in the fall, dance all year, and softball this spring.

Let's start with soccer.  This was a bit of a disaster.  She started out strong until one day she got nailed in the stomach and head with the ball in the same game.  And that was an end to her going anywhere near the ball in soccer.  

Dance she seems to enjoy.  Of course.  Its the most expensive and can we talk about the costumes and recitals and flowers.  My child is not on Broadway.  She can barely clap to a beat.  So why does she need 2 costumes for the recital and why do they cost so much money?  Also did I mention she is 5?

She is doing softball now and seems to be enjoying it more than soccer.  It is an all girls team, and while I still think she prefers playing the infield because it doubles as a sandbox, she is getting better. 

And working parents- how do you reliably get your kids to a practice that starts at 5:15?  We are still trying to figure that one out.

So begins our world of extra curricular activities.  We are fortunate that we are able to give our kids these opportunities and I am grateful for that.  I do worry that it is too much too soon, but I struggle with not having her participate and them losing out on opportunities later on.  For now the plan is to suggest things but ultimately let her choose what she wants to do and not force anything on her.  

Stay tuned for the next blog post on this subject in 2 years when our younger child starts sports entitled: how to be in 2 places at one time.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Family Dinner Cycle

There has been much research done that family dinners help kids in a multitude of ways.  While I don't doubt that this is true, I believe researchers should study the toll it takes on a parents sanity.  In reality this pretty much sums up what happens in our house.  Nonetheless we usually do sit down for a family meal most nights (the word sit is used in its loosest form).  I present to you:

The Family Dinner Cycle
 The scramble.
Leave work, sit in traffic, race obstacle course style to get the children at their respective pick up times.  No sooner are they collected with their belongings in the car do we transition to....

 The negotiation
What are we having for dinner?  We have come to a sort of resolution in our house with a small number of meals that both adults and children will tolerate.  No matter which one of these meals i have chosen to make, it is always the wrong one.  There are tears.  Not mine.

Child 1 zones out in front of TV.  I run around Iron Chef style to get dinner on the table.  Child 2 tries to grab the knife from me every time I turn my back for 3 seconds.  Miraculously dinner gets made.  Child 2 is uninjured.  Children are collected and we start....

The meal
The children get their food.  They request water and juice and napkins and forks and spoons and the red cup no the blue cup why does she get the blue cup I want the blue cup.  They have finished eating by the time the adults sit down.  Child 2 stands on the chair and bats at the light fixture with tomato sauce covered hands.  There are food malfunctions resulting in tears.  The chicken fell off the bone.  The meat fell out of the taco.  Adults shovel.

No sooner do adults start shoveling than the children make their nightly procession to the bathroom where they poop out what they just ate.  Child 2 requires assistance in the bathroom.  Only mommy.  Adult appetite is lost.

dishes strewn about, crumbs everywhere, more food under the table than children ate off plates.

As the children have gotten older this is actually a vast improvement over dinners that included vomiting, screaming, and basically complete chaos.  Now everyone feeds themselves, and sometimes we even manage conversation.  It is a good feeling to know our family comes together at the end of the day, no matter how chaotic it is.  And I know there will come a time where they will be grown, and not want to sit around a table with us as they once did.

So the cycle continues...except for the nights we feed the kids dinner and order in sushi.  We call that part of the cycle: Recuperation.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Job perks

As I have mentioned, I am currently in between jobs.  Since our move last summer I have been at home with the kids.  I loved my work and really miss it.  I am hoping to be able to do something similar here in Georgia, but it is taking a bit longer than anticipated.

Let me also preface this post by saying that I am writing this at 11 AM when both kids are at school and the house is quiet and not at 6 PM when my kids are reenacting a UFC fighting match on the living room rug.  That’s a whole different blog post.

That being said, there are some perks to being home with the kids.  Of course there are the ones I knew I would enjoy- being around for H after school, taking A to music class and discovering how much he loves it.   (Although can we talk about music class for a second?  I thought I was paying someone to teach my kid about music and I would sit in the background.  Oh no.  The parents are expected to sing and dance around.  In front of mirrors.  While trying not to make eye contact with each other as if doing so would cement how lame it actually is.  However my 3 yr old seems to love it.  And by love it I mean he picks his nose less during music class than other times of the day).  

It is definitely harder work for me than going to my old job every day, for sure.  I have managed to carve out a bit of time for me...and I am loving that.  Here are a few unexpected perks of my new stay at home mom position:

Mid afternoon naps: I really should have moved to Spain.  I would nap every day if given the opportunity. This does not happen often, but every once in a while I can squeeze in a 20 min nap around 3 pm.  Heaven.

 The Chew: Has anyone else watched this awesome show?  I am hooked.  It is complete mindless television and is fantastic.  Clinton Kelly is the main host, with other chefs.  They talk, they eat, they cook.  Have I sold you yet?  I will be dvring this one for a while.

 Zumba: I started working out pretty regularly for the first time in years and I have to admit it feels pretty good.  My favorite is the Zumba class on Monday mornings.  The average age has to be pushing 70 which is perfect for my uncoordinated self.  Also there are no mirrors in the gym so I feel like a rockstar.  You haven't lived until you've danced burlesque with a group of senior citizens.

Volunteering:  I have been helping out in H's school once per week.  I am probably the worst volunteer in history as I cannot cut or trace in a straight line.  That being said it is fun to go and see her in school, and she is still happy to hug me in front of her friends.

So there you go.  I look forward to going back to work, but am going to enjoy this time while I have it.  And if you know anyone looking to hire a counselor who knows a lot about medical school, let me know!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The most underrated developmental milestones

Parenting in this day and age requires you to track your children's milestones.  No matter how neurotic or lax a parent you are, every pediatrician I have been to asks  how many words your child is saying, if they can point to 3 body parts by the age of 1, etc.  Never mind the checklists my kids came home with from daycare.  My personal favorite was the narrative on Hannah's 3 month (you read that right) report that said "she knows what she wants".  Clearly not much has changed.

But I digress.  Over the years I have diligently tracked my children's milestones, some more detailed than others.  Overall we are very lucky and they are pretty much on target.  Lately I have been  thankful for some of the milestones that no one asks you to track.

So here is my list of my favorite underrated developmental milestones that my children have hit recently.  Feel free to add your own!

Morning routine: This used to be such a battle with my daughter.  The past month she has been getting up on her own, getting dressed, and coming downstairs all ready for school.  I am probably jinxing it by writing this but this makes life so much easier.

Independent play:  I love playing with my children.  I also love it when they will play together.  In the basement.  Without screaming.  For more than 3 seconds at a time.  Which is actually happening right now (yay!)

Wiping noses.  My children can both retrieve their own kleenex and wipe their own noses.  Enough said.

Mealtimes:  While family dinners are far from relaxing we have reached the point where all 4 of us sit at the table for at least 10 minutes and eat (or refuse to eat) the same food. .

School:  My daughter goes to  school every day from 7:30 to 2:15 EVERY DAY.  She is learning things and has a teacher that has instilled in her a love for learning.

Toilet training:  My son is still in diapers but he is trained to vomit in the toilet.  This is a huge accomplishment in our house as he has a sensitive stomach and this is a frequent occurrence.

Random I love yous:  this is by far the best thing.  H has been randomly saying "I love you Mommy" all the time and I really don't think she is trying to butter me up!  Of course A copies everything she does and follows her lead.  Love those kids!

Saturday, November 16, 2013


"It's just a phase" is in every parent's lexicon.  There are some phases that my children go through that I hope will never end.  My son asking for one more kiss at bedtime.  My daughter eagerly telling us what she did at school each day.  Snuggles while reading stories.  The children playing a game together.  These things are parenting gold.  And I know the older the kids get, the more independent they will become, and the less they will want to do with me and possibly each other.

Then there are other phases that can't seem to end fast enough.  My son has been really testing limits lately, as any good 2 year old does.  There is one behavior in particular that seems to bring me to tears of embarrassment whenever it happens.  He has an ear piercing shriek, usually reserved for public places.  He likes to use this particular gem when he is bored, to get out of a situation.  He will scream, and sometimes even ask for time out.  He knows that if he does this behavior, we will remove him from a situation, which is exactly what he wants.  Ideally I would ignore the behavior, but here's the catch.  Have you tried to ignore a kid with an ear piercing shriek in public?  You are the recipient of dirty looks from every adult in earshot.  And it doesn't matter if they have kids themselves.  You can read it on their faces, "my kid would never do that" or "lady, control your kid".

In my brain, I know this is a phase.  I know he is 2.  I know this will pass.  I know I am a decent parent.

However this is not my gut reaction.  I think, what am I doing wrong?  What if this phase never passes?  What if he is defiant and manipulative forever?

Is my children's behavior a direct reflection on my parenting skills?  Sometimes yes and sometimes no.  If my child screams in public am I a bad parent?  Probably not, but it can't help but feel that way sometimes.

So we will plug along, savoring the phases, good and bad.  And trying to remember, this too shall pass.  And if any has tips for dealing with screaming 2 year olds, please send them my way!