OBNOXIOUS, SILLY, WILD OR FUN

I want my kids to have fun.  I want them to have fun every second of their life.  No matter whether they are scrubbing toilets or partying all night long . . . I want my kids to have fun.  BUT (you knew this was coming), I want them to learn smart, safe, responsible, respectable fun. 

 

To date, my middle crew of kids are ages 6, 7 and 9 are pretty wild.  When they are having fun I love it.  I love the sounds, the silliness, the happiness, the youthfulness.  However, when they go over the line their fun turns to stupidity.  The other night we were playing a game and I told the kids "eyes in the couch, booties in the air."  I turn around and Teddy's pants were down and Harvey was spanking Murphy on the butt.  They were all screaming and laughing at the top of their lungs and the twins were sleeping.  Fun over, Mommy mad.  Yesterday I dropped one of the kids friend's home and was chatting with the mom.  The car was 20 feet away, Murphy was hanging out the window of the car screaming and the boys were cheering from in the car.  Fun over, Mommy mad and embarrassed.  

 

So what do I do with this?  How do I teach the children smart, responsible, respectable, safe and NOT obnoxious fun?  I rain on their parade from time to time.  I wreck their fun when I need to step in and and teach them how to behave in certain situations.  It's a bummer.  But, it's my job.  I'm trying not to raise idiots.  P.S. Do I always do this with grace?  No!  Sometimes I am so shocked my their behavior I grab them by the arm and let them verbally have it.  Those aren't my finest moments.

CAMP

DIK didn't go to summer camp.  There is no fault in that, it's just a matter of fact.  As usual DIK is on board for everything in our life with the exception of changes to our house . . . .  But, an adventure, his response is always when and where?!?!  Ten years ago we sent Ian to camp with his friends.  He liked his first year and loved his second year.  Last year we sent Teddy to his first summer camp.  He also liked his first year.  I am about to drop him off for his second summer at camp.  He is sooooooo excited.  He asked me why he was so excited this year.  I said, "It might be because you know what to expect, you know where everything is, you know the routine.  New experiences are fun and they can be a blast, however (I kept rambling) there is this wonderful sense of comfort, when you know your way around and know what to expect."  I am also dropping Murphy off at camp.  This is her first year.  She was once our shy, timid child.  She was my child who held my hand at parties (the entire time), rarely looked up at people, spoke quietly and wasn't (still isn't) a big fan of crowds.  I read books about raising introverted kids and followed some of the guidelines.  The biggest one being, I let her velcro herself to me whenever.  I never pushed her away to play with other kids.  Or said, "Look at all the kids playing, why don't you join them." Now my little velcro baby is headed off to summer camp.  

** I started this post on my way to take the kids to camp.  I have since dropped both of them at camp.  

I went to camp.  One year I wanted to go to camp so badly.  My mom was on the fence, but I begged and begged.  I told my mom I would be so so so careful.  I promised.  I don't know how but I convinced my mom to call the camp and see if they would let me go.  She called the camp director and explained my situation.  I had broken my leg at the beginning of the summer.  My leg required surgery and six weeks of a toe to hip plaster cast (do they even use plaster anymore?)  I had recently graduated to my short cast, but was stuck on crutches for another month.  I'm not sure how my mom pulled it off, but she convinced the camp director I would be safe.  It was a beach camp and I promised I wouldn't go in the ocean.  And my mom promised the camp director she would pick me up if there was a problem.  I spent two weeks crutching around the beach.  I loved every second.  My summers were always packed with camps.

I think sending a child to over night camp is hard . . . . . WHAT IF SOMETHING HAPPENS?  WHAT IF THEY GET SICK?  WHAT IF THEY DON'T MAKE FRIENDS?  WHAT IF?  WHAT IF?  Well, what if they have a blast?  What if they have to manage their gear, clothes, etc without me?  What if they make a bunch of new friends?  What if they learn they can handle themselves all by themselves?  What if they love the food?  What if they try some new foods?  This list could go on and on. 

Along with all those camp-bonuses, summer camp is one of my parenting litmus tests.  Can my kids handle it?  Have we done enough in our household to allow our children to go spread their wings in a new place, with new people and go have a blast?

As we were driving to camp this year I finally heard all the stories about camp from last summer.  I learned about Teddy's routine, he sang me a few songs, told me some new activities he was going to try.  He talked for 40 minutes straight, Murphy and I did not say a word.  When he got to camp all the counselors greeted him, "Welcome back bro, good to see you again Teddy, Yo Teddy-Man what's up."  He felt like a celebrity, I could see it in his smile.  We went into his cabin I was gently pushed back by the counselors as he and his new leaders dug through his bag pulling out his gear, making his bed and talking about his soccer jerseys.  After standing there for 5 minutes staring at the ceiling, I realized it was time to part ways.  I hugged him, he limp-arm hugged me back.  I would see him 10 days later probably in the same clothes.

The next day Murphy and I drove for an hour and half to her camp.  It was a girls road trip.  We ate candy, danced, screamed when we saw something crazy and every now and again I would ask her if she had questions about camp.  She always said, "NO" with a huge smile.  Finally we arrived at camp, her bag was unloaded for us and taken to her cabin.  We parked, did the health check and went to her cabin.  The packing list suggested family photos, she said she didn't want any. I ignored her request and printed a few out.  She was thrilled. We unpacked her stuff and then her counselor suggested we check out the lake.  We headed that way, she stopped and said she wanted to hang out with the kids.  We turned around and went back to her cabin, she said goodbye and was dragged away by three girls to play some game called Gumchu Gumchu. I had to grab her arm and reel her in to get another limp-arm hug.  And she was off.

I know she was nervous.  And even though Teddy was excited, he was a tiny bit nervous too.  They are OK.  They are as safe as all the other kids at camp.  They are very lucky to have these new experiences.  Life is all about new experiences.  High School, college, internships, jobs, marriage, children, trips, health issues will all be new experiences and they will all be different.  But that nervous feeling they get of the unknown will not be one of fear for our kids, it will be a feeling of . . . what exciting stuff is going to happen?

 

SHITTY PARENTING

David came home from one of his trips. We were all sitting at dinner and the kids were speaking rudely to me and each other.  He looked at me like 'What the fuck has happened?'  I threw up my hands and shrugged my shoulders.  There have been so many new adventures since the school year ended.  Murphy, Harvey and Teddy can swim so they head over to our local pool alone.  They are calling from my phone setting up times to hang with friends all the time.  It's AWESOME, but it's an adjustment, as parenting and families always are.  Plus this is the first summer I have had 6 mobile children.  Our house is noisy, everyone is moving and doing something.  It's nutty.  But I wouldn't change it for a second.  But it's been a BIG change, I have decided to slow down, gather myself, handle what I can and stay calm.  I have let some things slide.

I have let the children speak poorly to me (at times) because I am just getting my feet wet with this new world.  There are so many changes with children all of the time.  Most of the time I adjust, shift and roll with the changes.  My life has changed from having one step-son to today where I have one child out and about in the world (Ian) working, driving and planning trips with friends and the other five running circles around me.  Every time I find myself with a new big change I try to turn in, slow down and get calm.  Because I will tell you what, when I get stressed, I get pissed and then I do some pretty shitty parenting.  What does my shitting parenting look like?  I'll tell you in the next paragraph.  I think worse than my marginal parenting is how much I beat myself up about it.  I am so hard on myself.  I have a very strong inner voice.  It has served me very well in life.  But when I fail or don't succeed to the level I thought I could or I'm just being a jerk, I dig my heels in and live in the past.  I should make a list of what I can learn from the past situation and move on.  But, I don't.  I dwell in the negative.  I'm 44 when will I learn?!  Ha ha ha. 

What does my, the author of, SAY IT ONCE The No Bullshit Guide to Parenting shitty parenting look like?  Ha!  I yell more than I like, I let the little stuff set me off.  I get too mad.  I may even get into an argument with my children.  

Normally, in our family I am the heavy, the decision maker, the CEO if you will.  It's not that David doesn't do anything, it's just that when he decided to start his company and travel the world we were told by the counselor we see from time to time that it would be best for ONE person to wear the shoes.  That person is me.  Since school got out I've taken my shoes off and only wear my flip flops from time to time.  

At dinner the other night David stepped in and dropped the hammer.  He sent children away from the dinner table, he raised his voice, he sent his message loud and clear.  The children will not behave or speak this way.  His actions got me back on track, I heard his message too.  I realized I needed to re-read my book.  Yes, I had to re-read my own book to get my parenting mojo back in line.  My book makes parenting so easy, I should have named it 'I TAKE NO SHIT FROM MY KIDS Parenting Book.'  

Do I feel bad that I have let our home life slack for the first few weeks of summer?  Yes and no.  Yes, because when you are a stay at home mom you are your own boss.  You manage your workload or you don't.  And when you decide to take a little break it really slaps you in the face.  On the other hand I don't feel bad, because sometimes I just get exhausted, overwhelmed and burned out by my work.  Just like any other job on the planet.  The key is I got back on track.  The kids are back on track.  We are all back on track.  But it's summer so I'm still gonna wear my flip flops.

 

Push

It's not always easy to figure out when to push children and when to ease up. Here's a little rule I have picked up over the years. I will push our children when they are trying something new. I've found most of our children say "no" to a new experience they are nervous about, a tiny bit scared, concerned about failing or just have no idea what to expect. And here's where my pushing, shoving and 'anything goes' rule applies.  95% of the time I can figure out what my kid will love or detest about their new adventure. So if I am 95% confident my child will smile a little bit at a new experience they are saying "no" to, I'm going to figure out a way to get them there.  Take for example yesterday, Murphy has been asked to swim in a swimming event tomorrow. She burst into tears when I told her, instantly I knew I need help getting Murphy to the event.  But, she's a pretty good swimmer for a seven year old. I know over 1/2 the families and coaches at the event and I know she will be safe. So I called a friend who knows Murphy and is attending the event. I asked if Murphy could tag along. I explained the situation and how I know Murphy's emotions will be 'at bay' if I' don't take her to the event.' I calmly explained to Murphy she would be picked up at 8AM for the pool. She screamed at me. I stayed calm. I smiled and told her she seems a bit scared, but that Amy (friend) would be picking her up and Bernadette (swim instructor) would be meeting her at the pool. Through the tears and trying not to let me see, she smiled. Then she raced all over the house collecting her stuff. We taught her how to use Teddy's bike lock (she's being picked up on her bike). You see, I knew . . . I knew those initial emotions weren't the permanent ones. I don't think her fears and emotions are over. But I have helped her HELP HERSELF get over the initial fear. When she gets to the pool and sees all the kids ready to race. She is going to get nervous again. But, she can handle this, I know it. I won't be there for her to run to, pitch and fit and bail out. That's OK, because she is safe and in very good hands. 🎈 You may be thinking, why am I not taking Wiggy myself? I am that mom who brings out all of my kids emotions (good and bad). And when nerves come into play I have found I am better away from the sidelines, rather than on them. Does this bum me out? No, I'm happy my kids show me their emotions. And I'm happy I have the strength to step away when I should. Am I bummed I'm not their to support them? Yes and no. Yes, because I love being with my kids. But no, because I am really happy, proud and excited when our children find their successes and achievements without me holding their hand. Now here's the kicker . . . . I AM OK WITH WHATEVER UNFOLDS at the swimming event today. Today it is about the path that Wiggy takes to get there, not the end result.  Although I do hope she comes home with a smile.  

TURN IT UP...continued

Today, TURN EVERYTHING UP.

  1. Turn up the volume on your stereo.
  2. Crank up the level on your exercise machine.
  3. Increase the hot sauce on your lunch.
  4. Turn up the love to your partner.
  5. Crank up the number of things you get done today.
  6. Increase the duration of your workout.
  7. Turn up the temperature on your shower.
  8. Crank up the heat in your home.
  9. Turn up your smile a few extra times.
  10. Increase the pour on your evening cocktail.

Just turn it all up a little bit today and see where it leads you.

10-5 rule

Do you have a kid who complains about doing homework?  Fights with you to start it?  Doesn’t stay on task.  Try this.  Set a timer for 10 minutes, and for 10 minutes your child does homework.  When the timer goes off, set it again for 5 minutes.  During the 5 minutes your child can do whatever they want.  When the 5 minute timer goes off your child is back to homework for 10 minutes.  And this goes on and on until the homework is completed.  Don’t mention this to your child, but eventually they will ask to skip the timer because they want to ‘just finish ALL their homework.’  And yes, during the timer you will hear a lot of moaning and groaning, ignore it.  They are doing it for attention.

yard

Mark your calendar.  Take a stroll around your yard.  Yep walk the whole thing.  Here is what you are looking for . . .

  1. Dead branches or bushes you need to trim off.
  2. Pull the weeds.
  3. Trim all bushes and trees that are brushing up against your house.
  4. Replace dead plants.
  5. Sprinkle everything with a little fertilizer.
  6. Add a few new plants where you have a bare spot or needs pops of color.

Yippee!  Doesn't your yard look better.

I've moved . . .

I tried to do this myself, but it wasn't happening.  So I hired my neighbor (Noah) who originally set up my blog years and years ago.  Noah came over yesterday and sat in my kitchen drinking tea and moving my blog to my website.  Now, I have some growing pains to figure out how to use the blog feature there.  Like all things it will be a slow process, but I will get there.  So be patient with me as I 'unpack my boxes and get organized at www.say-it-once.com.  Also feel free to subscribe, it looks like it's a lot easier.

Check - in

Morning!  Just checking in.  How are your patience with your children these days?  Are you remaining calm in the heat of the moment?  Are you yelling at them more than you would like to or less?  What's the vibe in your family?  Cool, hot, bored, disconnected?  Tune in.  If all is good.  Cheers to you.  If things need a little fixing, fix away.  We are always fixing or tweaking something at our house, always.

vacation

No matter whether you are heading out of town or taking a stay-cation.  Check the local listings of where you are and see if their are any events you may want to attend.  Plays, movies, fairs, art shows, exhibits, festivals, special guests.  You just NEVER EVER know what you might find out there.  Because I do this often we have attended the National Cat Show (I know, right!!!).

Turn it UP . . . continued

Today, TURN EVERYTHING UP.

  1. Turn up the volume on your stereo.
  2. Crank up the level on your exercise machine.
  3. Increase the hot sauce on your lunch.
  4. Turn up the love to your partner.
  5. Crank up the number of things you get done today.
  6. Increase the duration of your workout.
  7. Turn up the temperature on your shower.
  8. Crank up the heat in your home.
  9. Turn up your smile a few extra times.
  10. Increase the pour on your evening cocktail.

Just turn it all up a little bit today and see where it leads you.

don't be mad

But here is a long list of places we often forget to clean (and cleaning these spots can REALLY make a difference in your home).

  1. All glass wear.  Candle hurricanes, glass sconces, lamp bases, etc.  Because when the sunlight hits, the finger prints and dust show up in seconds.  Don't worry you can put almost everything through the dishwasher.
  2. Dust the top of your door frames.  Get a step stool, damp rag and have at it.
  3. Clean you exterior doors.  Yes, they get very dirty with pollen, finger prints and dust.  Don't use any harsh cleaners.  I use a dry cloth to get the dust off and then a wet rag without cleaner.
  4. Dust your ceiling fans.
  5. Dust your lamp shades.  I need to do this one!
  6. Power wash your exterior cement and concrete surfaces.
  7. Clean all your garbage cans.  You can run the small ones through the dishwasher and the others you can easily was outside using your toilet brush.
  8. Clean all the door knobs in your home.
  9. Wash all your pillows.  You may need to go to a laundry mat.  If you have down pillows make sure you dry them with dryer balls (I use tennis balls) to bring their 'fluff' back.
  10. Spray with an all-purpose cleaner the inside and outside of your washing machine and dryer.
  11. Clean electronics, remote controls, screens (ipads, phones, tv's, comupters) and your computer keyboards.
  12. Clean your outdoor furniture.
  13. And finally clean the filter of your dishwasher.

That should keep you busy.

XO

mattress

On our chore list this weekend is to flip all (but our tempurpedic) mattresses.  We are also going to vacuum each side of the mattress and wash all our comforters.  I know!  Exciting stuff!  :D  We do two hours of chores EVERY weekend (you can read more about chores in my book SAY IT ONCE The No Bullshit Guide to Parenting).  For one reason, it is an opportunity for my kids to learn how to take care of our home and two I can get a little help taking care of our home.  Have fun on (I mean flipping) your mattress this weekend. XO

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lingerie bag

I am trying something new.  I thought of it years ago, but never needed to do it.  The time has come.  I gave Teddy a lingerie bag for his soccer gear.  When he is finished with soccer practices or games he puts all his soccer clothes (including straps to his shin guards) in the bag and tosses it in the laundry.  I don't have to search for the all the pieces of his soccer uniform anymore!  I just throw the lingerie bag in his soccer bag.

Spring Sports have begun!

We all have TONS of activities and if you have kids they have even more than TONS of activities.  How do we keep everyone's gear straight?  How do we not forget our yoga mat, or swim googles, or hair ties, or baseball uniform, or shampoo, or towels, etc?  Here is a plan that works.  Purchase a sturdy bag for each of your activities.  Write the name of the activity on the bag with a sharpie, or get each bag monogrammed.  Stock the bag with everything needed for the activity.  If you take a shower at your gym, keep a small toiletry bag loaded with your favorite items in the bag (don't move your shampoo, lotion, deodorant back and forth from your bathroom).  Just buy a second lotion, shampoo, soap etc, you aren't spending any extra money because you are still using the same amount of product.  If you and your child are packing up a baseball bag, be sure to toss in a few bandaids, sunscreen and chapstick.  In my kids ski bags I put an extra pair of underwear, getting ski gear off when you have to "go" can be tricky. Once you build your individual activity/sports bags you have to teach yourself and your child to manage them.  All sports equipment, uniforms, swimsuits go through the wash and back in the bags.  If it's easier for you, keep a laundry-lingerie bag in your sports bag.  When it's time to wash everything, put it in the lingerie bag, run it through the wash and pop it right back into the sports bag.  NOTHING GETS LOST.

5-10 rule

Do you have a kid who complains about doing homework?  Fights with you to start it?  Doesn't stay on task.  Try this.  Set a timer for 10 minutes, and for 10 minutes your child does homework.  When the timer goes off, set it again for 5 minutes.  During the 5 minutes your child can do whatever they want.  When the 5 minute timer goes off your child is back to homework for 10 minutes.  And this goes on and on until the homework is completed.  Don't mention this to your child, but eventually they will ask to skip the timer because they want to 'just finish ALL their homework.'  And yes, during the timer you will hear a lot of moaning and groaning, ignore it.  They are doing it for attention.  

XO