My Child Always Listens When I Say This

Like most of you I’m sure, my day with a four-year-old means repeating myself a lot and if I could count the number of times I say “focus” in a day then I’d tell you how many times I say it. We have a strong-willed and independent little booger on our hands. One of her preschool teacher’s nailed her in a nutshell when they said, “she’s sweet and quiet but fiercely stubborn and independent.”So that brings me to my next point: getting her to obey. Not that any child likes being told what to do, but oh does she NOT like it. I know there’s differing views on the whole “giving them choices” parenting style; some of you may know it as Love and Logic. And although I think there are some absolutely great tips to follow, I was realizing how inconvenient it would be to always give her a choice as to whether she would rather go get her shoes on first or go potty, brush her teeth here or there, etc.- OK you get the idea. I mean don’t get me wrong, the whole choice thing is, I believe, crucial for helping get along with the strong-willed child but there’s a time for it. For example one of my favorites: Would you rather have broccoli for dinner or [whatever I want her to eat]?

So here’s where I was stuck. I didn’t want every task I ask my daughter to do to end in a battle. I tried to get inside her little brain, and I mulled over this a while. I’d tried everything, I thought. Then, at the time I was watching Octonauts with her, and I noticed they always go on a mission. Then she was on a Little Einstein’s kick, and they’re always solving a problem. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse? Again, problem-solving. 

And her current preschool teacher confirmed that I’m onto something the other day when she said that if a child is not obeying in class, she asks them if they would like to be part of the problem or part of the solution, and of course they typically choose to be part of the solution.

My daughter is super- and I mean super- into make-believe. Half the time she won’t respond to her own name because she is not herself but, in fact, a doctor, or a superhero, or a princess. So what if sometimes we just join them? What do I mean?

Here’s what I did: one day when I needed my daughter to do something for me, instead of asking her to do it, I told her I had a MISSION for her. Boy, did she love that! She was so excited to complete the mission, which of course was just a task I simply needed her to complete. And you know what, it caught on. Now, most of the time when I need her to [fill in the blank], I tell her I have a mission for her and I can promise you that she has not only never complained, but she often excitedly runs over to me to find out what it is.

Sometimes we even have a little fun with it. I hold out my hand like I’m ready for a high-five, and she checks in by placing her hand against mine, I make a few silly beeping noises, and give her the mission in a robot voice. She’s figured out the drill for bedtime, let me tell you. As soon as we begin the mission, she tells me what tasks are needed: go potty, put pajamas on, brush teeth- mission complete! Usually she’s in a hurry to complete a mission as fast as she can because she views it as some sort of challenge. I never give her more than three things to do at a time, and she usually finishes them all.

So mamas, I have a mission for you: try this out and let me know how it goes! 

PS If your child isn’t quite sure what a mission is, just throw on an episode of Octonauts. OR if you’re a better parent than me and don’t allow screen time, use a super-hero analogy to convey the message. 

Good luck! 

To the Woman at the Store

You know that loud and disgusting Dumb and Dumber scene where Harry is straddling the toilet because Lloyd slipped a laxative into his drink?

So there we were at Home Depot. My very newly potty-trained daughter and I rushed towards the restrooms because she gave me the typical ten-second warning [why does that always happen in public?!]. We entered the bathroom behind a slightly older lady, who shot us an interesting look as if she was thinking, “Oh crap.” But in hind sight, I think that’s exactly what she was thinking as her Taco Bell lunch rumbled around in her angry tummy. A few seconds after getting my daughter settled into our stall, I heard noises coming from this woman’s stall, who just so happened to be right next to ours. These weren’t any noises, you guys. Her body was clearly in rejection mode, and me? I went into panic mode.

Before I could even problem solve how to keep my toddler from embarrassing everyone in the room [besides herself], it happened.

“What is she doing, Mommy?” She asked in the world’s least practiced whisper.

I froze.

In fact, when I think back, I wish my pointer finger would have more quickly met my lips as I mouthed “shhhh”. I wanted the moment to be over, and I hurried my daughter as much as humanly possible to finish potty-ing.

More. deathly. number. two. noises…

At this point, my extremely curious and caring bundle of joy opened her mouth again and said, “Mommy, is she ok?”

And then this…

The suffering stranger in the stall next to us started demonically uttering obscenities, grunts, and demeaning parenting advice from her nose-burning cave.

We hurried. I did more shhh-ing. We left our stall. We washed our hands. The lady continued her grumbly- only louder. Apparently she thought the awkward situation needed to be more awkward.

And you know what? I FUMED.

I would tell you the rest of the story, but it was NOT one of my finer parenting moments, may have involved me waiting for her to come out of the stall, and also included the words “watch out for the grumpy lady” coming out of my mouth as my daughter and I tried to open the deathroom [I mean restroom] door at the same time as Taco Bell’s former customer.

Now in all seriousness, the situation obviously could’ve been handled differently by all parties, and especially me. But you know what I would like to say to The Woman at the Store [after apologizing of course]?

“I’m new at this whole parenting thing. I’m doing the best I can. I was just basking in the small victory of my child actually telling me she had to use the restroom and making it there before we had an accident. We’ve been working really hard at this for a while. We’ve had good days and we’ve had really bad days. I’ve tried many methods, changed many clothes, bought a lot of pull-ups, and even cleaned up the carpet a time or two- Ok, more. I’m sorry that I missed the minor detail of informing her ‘not to talk to others in a public bathroom’ while I was busy trying to explain to her what it feels like when she has to go potty.

Although I can assure you that as soon as we made our way out of the restroom, and I strapped my daughter into her RaceCar Cart, I looked her in the eyes and told her a few things. One was that Mommy really messed up, and we talked about what kind of day you may have been having. Another was a lesson in public restroom etiquette. And another was assuring her it was ok when she looked at me with apologetic eyes because she’s not some thirteen-year-old jerk, but a tiny little girl still learning so much about the world around her.”

And to so many other women we run into while the kids and I are out running errands, I want to say:

“Thank you. Thank you for not getting upset with me when the large Police Car Cart I was pushing the kids in accidentally got in the way of your motorized one. In fact, you weren’t bothered at all, but instead delighted. You smiled at my littles and told me it didn’t look like the world was bothering them any. Little did you know, leaving the house was the last thing I wanted to do that morning, but I desperately needed an antibiotic to treat the mastitis that nursing my newborn had caused.”

“Thank you. Thank you for not being so rushed that you made me feel badly for blocking you from your handicapped spot as I stuffed two small children into their carseats. In fact, you apologized to me when you finally got out of the car. Not only that, but your face lit up as you told me about your own grandchildren.”

“Thank you. Thank you for entertaining my baby as he started to fuss while I was reaching for my wallet to pay for a few items and simultaneously keeping my daughter from jumping out of the cart. You saved me from feeling the flush in my face when my children have hit their max, but we’re not yet out of the store and settled into the car.”

I want to be you: the graceful, patient, and understanding ladies when I grow up rather than the judgmental, rushed, and bitter ones. I know I will leave this stage with young children someday, but I never want to forget it. I want to hold doors open and put carts away for moms with full hands and tired bodies. I want to be a comfort, an assurance, the smile they need that day, and if nothing else I never want my eyes to roll back in my head. I only want them to say, “I’ve been there, Mama.”

Why Parenting is Actually Really Easy

Parenting is so easy. The thing I love most about it is the fact that there is no gray area. It’s so black and white, straightforward, and to-the-point. Another amazing aspect of the easiest job in the world? Everyone does it the exact same way so there’s never any awkward moments, comparing, or judging. You want to be a good parent? Simple. Just learn the Universal Parenting Advice List, and follow it closely [I mean, but not too closely, of course.]

Universal Parenting Advice:

1. Excessive exercise is not permitted during pregnancy.
2. Be sure to keep up with your regular workout routine throughout your pregnancy. Lifting is encouraged as long as the weight is not “too heavy”.
3. Do not eat peanut butter while pregnant.
4. Make sure to eat peanut butter while pregnant in order to introduce your baby to nuts; therefore, reducing the risk of a nut allergy.
5. It is best to deliver your baby at the hospital with trained nurses and doctors.
6. Midwives and doulas make home births most comfortable for mom and baby.
7. Be sure to give your baby a pacifier shortly after birth to get them used to the idea of it.
8. Wait at least a few weeks into breastfeeding before you introduce a pacifier to your baby, or they may become confused.
9. Pacifiers should be long and rounded like a real nipple or flat and rounded so as not to be confused with a real nipple.
10. You should establish a breastfeeding schedule right away to control when your baby eats.
11. Feeding your baby on-demand is best for baby.
12. Wake your baby throughout the night in order to make sure your baby is eating enough.
13. Let your baby sleep; they will wake you if they’re hungry.
14. It is best to nurse your baby to sleep so they feel secure.
15. Letting your baby cry-it-out before falling asleep teaches them how to soothe themselves thus they become more self sufficient.
16. Wear your baby as much as possible so they feel close to you.
17. Do not hold your baby too much or they will become spoiled.
18. Be sure to vaccinate your child. Don’t miss any immunizations.
19. Do not vaccinate your child. This is a dangerous practice. You should at least consider a delayed schedule.
20. Give your baby a bottle within 2 weeks after birth to be sure they will take one.
21. Wait 4-6 weeks to give your baby a bottle or they may refuse the breast.
22. Your baby may begin eating solid foods at 4 months.
23. It is best to wait until your baby is 6 months old to introduce any solids.

Sorry, it seems I lost the rest of my Universal Parenting Advice List. But the good news is, the older they get, the easier it is. Deciding when to feed your baby solid foods is so difficult, but once you get into disciplining your child it’s a breeze. Just be sure to give your child a choice whenever you ask them to listen because that helps them feel like they are in control. And remember, you are the parent so that means you only need to give them options when it’s convenient for you. If they aren’t obeying, usually a time-out will do the trick. Or did it say a spanking and then a conversion about what they did wrong followed with telling them how much you love them? Ah, I can’t remember. But luckily, the same disciplinary consequences typically work for any child with any personality type. Phew! Can you imagine how hard it would be if that weren’t the case?!

Well, that’s all I got…GOOD LUCK!