The Dog Days of Summer: A Pep Talk for Parents

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So, you’ve exhausted your summer bag of tricks. You’ve tried 7 different parenting methods/ incentive strategies, you’ve guiltily googled several disorders you think you or your toddler may suffer from and you’ve had it. Like. Had. It.

Every morning I nuzzle each one of them so tightly but still somehow every day, I am counting down the minutes until nap time. So I can sit. And think. In quiet.

Some days Parker has negotiated his way through everything short of putting on his underwear. And has done it with such guile that I just want to wave a white flag and retire upstairs. For a long nap.

There are conversations you can only have 75 times before you start to feel crazy. And the conversation about how he wants to know which play doh ball was “his” on the table full of play-doh toys, that’s one you can only have once before you just turn into a puddle of squishy play-doh yourself.

So you bribe.

And you overuse the IPad, Kids on Demand and your DVD collection.

But you are doing it in the name of your own sanity, right?

In between convincing myself that I am doing penance for every time I ever stuck my tongue out at my mother and convincing myself that I am really just a great Mom trapped in a grouchy Mom’s body. I think this:

In three weeks, I will tearfully be bidding goodbye to another July and August with my little people. The new habits and words they have developed (Celia calls her blanket her “gippey”– no idea why) will become old news and we will all get caught up in the blur of life that is back to school.

And I will kick myself. For being so negative and for feeling so frustrated.

So, in prevention of that receiving that kick from myself, I give you this:

Watch them.
Splash in puddles with them.
Follow their gaze.
Listen to their laughter in the other room.
Sing songs together.
Put down your phone.
Read one more book.
Let them sleep with you.
Give them one more cookie or Popsicle or cupcake or hug.
And tell them what a special summer it’s been.

Because soon, you’ll wish you had it all back.

Screen Time and Other Rules I Break as a Parent

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Mt latest frustration is that my 18 month old won’t watch TV. There. I said it. I am actually ticked off that TV does not yet entertain her. Worse, I am worried that it never will, forcing me to have to come up with alternate ways to entertain the little bugger who is turning into quite the handful these days. What will I do? How will I cope?

I have similar horrifying reactions when people tell me their kids don’t sleep, nap or any combination of the two. Whaaaaaa? How do you parent without the carrot of a nap dangling above your head all day? How do you manage night after night of the family bed and being woken up by a three year old insisting on doing the Harlem Shake at 3 am?

I can’t really verbalize the wonder I have with non-sleeping children because I feel like I might get kicked in the teeth. I mean, no Mom wants to hear about someone else’s sleeping children. But, really, how are these people surviving when not one but two kiddos climb into their bed at night? I would not be able to handle it.

I feel similar in thinking about Celia NEVER watching TV. How will I ever mop the floor/take out the garbage/read my People magazine if she is ON me like, every minute? Doesn’t she know that this is part of the whole parent-child-peace agreement?

I have read the books, blogs, babycenter week by week emails and all the crap you read about screen time. I know that the fact that my three year old can spend the afternoon with a Netflix account and an Ipad all on his own is probably not something to brag about at the bus stop. But man, when you need to help quiet your mind after the latest brother vs. sister cagefight, it’s really the only means of survival. Peace, quiet and Doc McStuffins.

Of course prying said child away from Ipad or TV or laptop or Iphone is not for the timid. You need to give a six minute warning, a three minute warning, a 90 second warning and a “help me shut it off” directive before exiting the screen time situation. Otherwise, you have fallen into just what those smug parenting experts want you to believe: screen time is bad. Don’t fall for it.

How else can you find time to paint your nails? Fold laundry and keep it folded? Call your best friend? Eat a sandwich? All of these things need a little boost, a little helper— and that helper is whatever screen you can get your a-little-smudged-but-still-pretty manicured hands on.

I think I really became aware of how much the screen helps us when recently vacationing with another family. They have a newborn who is not yet mobile. We have two very mobile and very hurricane like children who came very close to a. writing on the furniture and b. maiming each other with low hanging sharp objects. However, if I could get Parker watching a Shrek marathon in the bedroom, things were a little more placid, a little more quiet and a little more like a “vacation.” Well, sort of.

And, thanks to the Internet, I can live in absolute bliss thinking that this article is the only article that exists about screen time, and, well, it says that I am an awesome parent and my kids will probably be geniuses.

Don’t be shy. Make your own confessions about screen time. I won’t tell.