I’m not the fun parent

I’m not the fun parent

20171117_2256111354219021.jpgThere are times when I wonder how my children really view me.

I know they love me. I’m essential personnel around here. I’m the one they cry for when they fall and scrape their knees. They scream my name in the middle of the night to rescue them from a nightmare. And they blame me when dinner doesn’t suit their fickle tastes.

20151213_1905231925404260.jpgBut when they want to wrestle on the floor, or get a piggyback ride, or get flipped off the couch onto the hard floor, I’m not the one they call. They always ask for dad.

I’m not the fun parent. But I really want to be.

I want to live in the moment with them and race cars along the dining room wall and throw all the toys out of the toy box just to hear them crash on the floor and delight at the mess. I want to help my three-year-old line up every shoe from the front door to the back of the house and then insert toys into the shoes and pretend they are all standing in line.

Because it looks like fun.

screenshot_20171117-2154381438551004.pngBut there’s just SO MUCH TO DO. Let me figure out what to cook for dinner. And oh, let me finish that other load of laundry. I should really take a minute and call my mom. Or my dad. And my grandma, lord bless her most folks don’t have grandparents around anymore.

So I shoo the children away to work on something that needs to be done, fixed, finished, cleaned.

And when I do get a minute, I actually just want to sit and play with my phone and be by myself. You feel me?

Thus, the angst. Because I wanna be fun.

My husband shrugs it off. “We all have different roles,” he says. He reassures me that I’m needed and loved and that the house would totally fall apart and be nasty and everyone would starve without me.

For me, that’s not the point. I want to be fun. And I want my kids to see it and feel it. And love it.

After dinner and right before bed, my husband’s routine is to take the kids to our bedroom and let them jump on the bed and his head. While I clean the kitchen. Sometimes I relish the time alone to think or listen to music or just be alone for a few minutes.

But most times, I want to be right up there with them.

So the other day, I just decided to leave the kitchen as is. I went upstairs and belly-flopped on the bed with my family. The kids screamed and squealed. And I was happy to hear it.

After five minutes, my back started hurting. One of the kids kicked me in my c-section scar. And I had to use the bathroom.

This is why I’m not the fun parent.

 

 

 

 

 

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Potty Training: Trial and Error

Potty Training: Trial and Error

charmin_tipsarticles_howtopottytrainagirl_image2Waking up to epic poop outs in the morning, where you need to change the crib sheets and give the baby a head-to-toe bath, is really getting old.

And so am I. I’m getting too old for this. My baby is two-years-old. She is getting too old for this too. We really need to get this potty training down.

That’s one of the reasons I was excited about Tot on the Pot. It seemed to offer a solution in a box, complete with a parent guide, a stuffed toy with her own play potty, activity cards and a nice step-by-step picture book for the baby.

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I think she’s telling the doll to use the toy potty.  The irony…

It’s the whole parental involvement part that’s bugging me. I’m tired. Everyone in my house has been sick for the past month. Me included, but I’m not getting rest because I’m taking care of everybody else. I thought I ordered a solution in a box and all I had to do was unpack it and let it work.

But it’s really not a casual undertaking, and I think that’s my been my problem. I’ve been putting potty training on my schedule: when I don’t have anything else scheduled outside of the house to do, or when I’ve had some really strong coffee and decide to take on all the things that need to be done, or when I’ve just dropped $100 on diapers and I’m mad so I decide she’s going to wear underwear for the rest of the day (but didn’t you just buy all those diapers) and then she pees on the couch and I slap a diaper on her.

Yea, I’ve been doing this all wrong.

With the Veterans holiday, we had a three-day weekend to get this done. But I just didn’t feel like it. And then I spent Saturday night in Urgent Care with the three-year-old who had a bad case of Croup. Yes, people still get Croup, even though it sounds like something my grandfather used to get.

So tomorrow is Monday, and I will try again. Everybody’s still home sick and snotty and sneezing but we are going to get this done. I’ve got some juice boxes and some salty snacks and I’m going to sit in the bathroom (or really close by) with my commando baby and Tot on the Pot and we’re going to get this done. As god is my witness.

Because I’m definitely going to need his help too.

How did you potty-train your toddler? Please leave your comments in the box below.

 

 

 

 

 

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Pee and Poop on Demand: Potty Training Baby #2

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Has your kid ever screamed, or got pee all over the floor, when the automatic flush in a public bathroom went into action and scared them half to death?

Have you ever thought of covering those sensors with a post-it note so your kid could finish the deal in (relative) peace?

Genius, right? Well, I didn’t come up with that. That tip came from Tot on the Pot, a new potty training system designed to coax toddlers to use the bathroom by encouraging play time and rewards for success. They advertise themselves as “potty training simplified for parents.”

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My Tot on the Pot came with the toy doll, toy potty and activity cards that are part of the rewards and incentives to help your child be successful using this system.

I came across their site on Instagram and reached out to them, particularly after several frustrating days of encouraging my two-year-old to use the potty and having her pee on the floor EVERY SINGLE TIME. Aren’t girls supposed to be easier to potty train?

My Tot on the Pot system came in the mail this week (it’s not available in stores yet; the company is raising interest and money on Kickstarter) and included a toy potty, an anatomically-correct girl doll, activity cards and a parent guide (an illustrated book introducing the doll was mistakenly not included but hopefully will come later).

First impressions: This simplified system requires you to read a 35-page guide to get started.

But don’t let that scare you. It’s pretty large print. And as I started to skim the book, I actually found its advice and tips quite helpful, even though I’ve already potty-trained an older child. The parent guide helps you find ways to use the doll, the book and activity cards as a reward system when your child successfully pees or poops. It also keeps the process engaging and fun for them.

But do I really need a system to help me potty train my kid? Big Mama said she potty trained six kids at the same time all on the same day.

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The guide was a fast read and informative. Now if someone could just publish a guide on parenting and motherhood….

You can start this process over confident if you want to. But trust, know and believe: a self-willed two-year-old will break you down and render you emotionally inept very quickly.

I started off skimming the parent’s guide but I’m glad I ended up reading it. It feels like a preemptive pep talk, encouraging us to be mentally ready, remain positive and consistent throughout the process. I need all of this right now.

Some of the advice includes: Don’t compare this child’s potty training progress to that of another child, even a sibling. This is your child’s very own journey.

Another tip: Some children need to be alone to poop. Casually walking out of the bathroom for a moment might give them the privacy they need to succeed.

And keep the mood light: If your child seems anxious when they catch sight of the poop swirling down the drain, encourage them to wave bye-bye as it disappears from sight.

The guide seems to incorporate some of the science behind potty training without overwhelming readers, as well as Tot Tips based on the experiences of countless parents who have already been through this. There’s also modified tips to support parents who are potty training children with developmental delays.

The system encourages setting aside a block of time–around four days– when the parent and child will be home or nearby to start this process.

So I’m prepping now. Next week, we begin.

I think my little girl is ready. I hope I am too.

 

 

 

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5 Fast Facts About Whole Foods’ Merger with Amazon

Ever since Whole Foods and Amazon announced its merger, I’ve been wondering if they could find a way to get that food bar shipped to my door.

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Think of it: a selection of up to eight hot soups during cold months. Fresh sushi. Kale tossed in that amazing garlic tahini dressing. The Entire. Cookie. Bar.

Sign me up! Show me the app! Free shipping, right?

Apparently, not quite. Whole Foods doesn’t provide delivery on hot bar items. Their private label products, like the 365 Everyday Value, will be available via Amazon.com and AmazonFresh, an online grocery delivery service, as the company integrates its systems over time. But in between time, the public may see some benefits we’re not used to seeing at Whole Paycheck, I mean Whole Foods. 20170829_093448Like lower prices. On selected items. As I shopped the aisles this morning in a Maryland suburb, I found quite a few items marked down. Hass avocados are now $1.49 each, marked down from $2, which is a lot better than the 2 for $5 avocados my neighborhood grocer was offering yesterday. Organic Whole Trade Bananas are 69 cents a pound now, down just 10 cents. Organic Fuji apples are $1.99 a pound, down from $2.99.

But before you go and fill up an entire shopping cart, there’s a few things you should know.

5 Fast Facts About the Whole Foods Merger with Amazon

  1. Staple grocery items will be cheaper. Think butter, eggs, and select organic produce like avocados, apples and bananas.
  2. That fantastic organic rotisserie chicken will also be part of the price cuts.
  3. Expect lower prices on their line of responsibly-farmed salmon and tilapia.
  4. Amazon Prime will become the customer rewards program at Whole Foods. Eventually, shoppers with an Amazon Prime membership will have access to coupons, special savings and other “in-store benefits,” the company says.
  5. Amazon Lockers will be available in some Whole Foods stores. So if you need to return an item to Amazon.com, you can drop it off at the locker during your trip to the store. You can also have products shipped from Amazon.com to your closest Whole Foods with a locker for pick up.

The merged companies called the lower prices a “down payment” on their vision to make healthy and organic food affordable for everyone.

It will probably still be necessary to shop the “outer aisles” at the store–focusing on produce and staples- to keep the shopping bill down. This morning I didn’t see any of the Amazon sales stickers on the middle aisles near the boxed food, bread, tea and coffee. Don’t expect discounts on their prepared foods, like the hot food bar or the coffee station. At least not yet.

20170829_093533-e1504019425463.jpgWhole Foods is not my main grocery store, but I end up shopping there at least once a week to find allergy-free snacks and treats for my youngest baby. You can’t imagine how hard it is to find snacks free of dairy, nut, tree nut, soy, or lemon extracts–all of my daughter’s allergies. It’s also very challenging to cook family meals with these allergies in mind.

At Whole Foods, I’ve been able to find vegan muffins in their bakery section and baked crackers and cookies without those allergens.

I’ve never included Whole Foods in my weekly price comparisons; I have several options, including an Aldi’s, Costco and several other natural grocery stores within a few miles of my home. But now that Whole Foods is touting lower prices, I may look for more reasons to go there.

 

 

5 Tips for a Good Day

5 Tips for a Good Day

So it’s February.  And the newness of 2017, the feelgood promise of new beginnings, affirmations and resolutions have faded.

I’m in a rut ya’ll.

Call it seasonal depression. Maybe I need two cups of coffee to jumpstart my mood.

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It’s a tot potty, in front of a real potty with a potty seat on top. We got it covered from all angles.

Maybe its that one toddler is potty-training but now uses the darn thing every 15-minutes. I’d put a diaper on him if I could find one that fits a 40lb three-year-old. And baby #2 is teething and leaves puddles of drool EVERYWHERE. Not to mention she screams and cries at the drop of a hat now.

I’m overwhelmed by mommyhood. I’m trying to balance a freelance career and deadlines with being a stay-at-home mom. I’m trying to stay crazy in love (and not just, you know, crazy and married).

I’m trying to be the Bestest Mommy Ever. (It’s as impractical as it is ungrammatical folks. See what I did there… a little sexy syntax and wordplay for ya Thursday!)

But I’m determined not to stay in this rut.

I’ve been collecting great quotes and positive words on Pinterest lately and I recently came across a great set of daily affirmations from the Levo League, a life hack and style website. The post was from 2015 but still feels timely to me. I shrunk my list and adapted it for my daily life. It’s pretty short, which means if I can master these changes and make lifestyle adjustments, hopefully they will last longer.

1. Wake up early.

Cus opening your eyes just as the first kid starts crying in the crib, which wakes up the other kid, ain’t working out. I start out frazzled and end up playing catch up all day.

2. Read something positive and meditate on how to include it in your life.

Holla. Seriously though, this can set you in the right frame of mind for the rest of the day. I’ve been reading the book of Ecclesiastes and meditating on Solomon’s wisdom about purpose in life and using our time on Earth wisely. If that don’t set ya straight….

3. Take a shower.

Mandatory self-care. Daily.

4. Text or call two people to say good morning and wish them a good day.

For me, this is about passing on good vibes to other folks. And this keeps me from getting bogged down and drowning in my own muck. Reach out and call, or at least text somebody and let them know you thinking about them. It feels good too.

5. Make a to-do list with five tasks to tackle.

This has been helping me prioritize my tasks and get stuff done.  I keep it short so I don’t overwhelm myself. And if I’m having a slow day, I put in stuff like Eat. Feed the kids. Brush my teeth. And check’em off when I’m done. By the end of the day, I have a record of productivity (at least they ate food, right?)

Short and sweet. Five changes to get you in the mode and the mood to have a good day.

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Enjoying a warm winter day in January.

Life is getting better.

I’d like to incorporate a nap or daily exercise too, but I’m pacing myself.

What are your tips for having a good day?  Feel free to share yours in the comments below; it’s always encouraging to hear how other mommies are keeping it together.

Thanks for reading! Love and Peace!

Have you ever lost your kid in a store?

Have you ever lost your kid in a store?

I’ve never lost track of my kids in a store.

Not yet. I actually try not to go into stores with them. I’ll go out of my way to pick up a girlfriend so she can stay in the car with the kids while I run errands or do grocery shopping. Or I’ll just wait until the hubby gets home and run to the store while he’s home with the kids.

It’s just too much trouble to unlatch car seats and wrestle them both out of the car and grab a cart and get them both in and then make sure they are not knocking everything off the shelf or begging every minute for something. I like shopping. And I like to do it alone now.

So losing track of them in a store is rarely something I think about. But keeping track of two toddlers, I’m very aware it could happen.

Today it happened to someone else. In J.C.Penneys. On a Saturday afternoon. During the holiday shopping season.

I was standing in line waiting to get checked out and the cashier hangs up a store phone and yells “CODE ADAM!!” She picked up another phone and yells it again over the store intercom: “CODE ADAM!” The registers stopped.  The Christmas music paused. Floor salespeople, wearing red JC Penney t-shirts started to walk quickly to the escalators. And they kept yelling Code Adam. “We’re looking for a little girl with a black hoodie and gold barettes.”

My heart fluttered. My little girl has a hoodie too. I looked down at my side expecting to see her. Wait, she’s in the car. With her father. Get a grip Tav.

“CODE ADAM!”

Adam. The little boy who was kidnapped from the store. In the 1980s. Walsh. That was his name. And his father kept looking for his killer.

“CODE ADAM!”

SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING! Somebody’s baby was missing. I turned to the guy behind me. “Oh my God, maybe we all need to start looking.” He just shrugged.

Another lady said, “I ain’t got time for this.” And she threw her clothes on the counter and walked away. The middle-aged lady in front of me was clearly annoyed too. “Who loses a kid in the middle of a busy department store? You need to be watching them.”

“I have a three-year-old and I can definitely see how it might happen,” I said, defending the parents of the little girl with the black hoodie. My voice started to sound shaky. “They can get away from you so fast.”

“Well I raised three kids and that never happened to me,” she said.

“Now you know that was at least 30 years ago and you barely remember it!” I was thinking that but I didn’t say it. Another judgmental mom. I decided to stop talking to her.

I wanted to keep defending these parents, whom I didn’t know but who were obviously somewhere in this store likely going crazy looking for their child. And what really mattered at the moment was finding the little girl. I got out of line. Where could I look? What could I do?  I didn’t have a plan or anything, just a sick and nervous feeling in my stomach because if that was my child I would want all hands on deck.

And as I was walking away from the line, someone shouted that they found her.

THEY FOUND HER! The little girl with the black hoodie. And the gold barettes. She was somewhere safe again. Probably with her parents. Probably crying because she had gotten scared. Or maybe she was laughing somewhere under a rack of clothes. Yep, she was laughing and okay again.

So I’m standing here, blinking back tears, heart still fluttering, and now thinking about how I can ask this guy to give me back my place in line. As I turned to ask him, he just nodded and stepped back. I said thank you. He nodded. Was I the only person who had freaked out?

The cashiers returned to the counter and started working again. I dont know when the Christmas music came back on but it was back.

And everybody just kept going about their business again.

 

 

5 tips to nurse and run a 5K Like A Boss

5 tips to nurse and run a 5K Like A Boss

How is this lady with the seeing eye dog about to pass me?

She had been gaining on me for a while. She was like a mirage, inspirational and mostly unbelievable.  The lady and the dog were running in sync, panting in rhythm and they were quickly gliding right pass me.

I ran my first 5K (3.1 miles) this weekend and although I wasn’t planning on being competitive, I was not letting this lady with the seeing eye dog outrun me.

My Runkeeper app told me I was at the 2.7-mile mark, and I opened up the throttle. I straightened up, threw my shoulders back and let my legs fly underneath me. I felt tears streaming out of my eyes and whip back toward my ears.  I literally started to feel like a kid again, running around the playground, trying to achieve a mile run in gym class under 10 minutes.

I felt the roar of applause in my ears as I lengthened my stride and sprinted across the finish line. Was that photographer snapping my picture? Just in case, let me force a sweaty smile. No Tavia. No. They’re applauding the lady with the seeing eye dog who crossed at the same time as you. 

In any case, I reached my goal. This race fulfilled my promise to myself to be a fit mom who is healthy and physically and emotionally balanced for my family, but mostly for myself.

And it felt AMAZING! I have been pregnant or nursing for the past three years with no breaks in between. My mid-thirties body has experienced the rigors of pregnancy and childbirth. Twice.  So to get to this point of pushing my body to run (mostly) for three miles, 14 months after giving birth, feels like a tremendous accomplishment.

And did I mention that I’m still nursing?

The product of pre-race pumping. 10 ounces!

I pumped 10 ounces of milk the morning of the race. I sipped some water but I didn’t want to keep running to the bathroom during the race so I didn’t drink anymore.  BAD IDEA. I typically try to guzzle a bottle of water every time I nurse. But common sense didn’t prevail this morning. My legs hurt really bad all day after the race. I was so tired and lethargic I could barely get off the couch. I was super dehydrated.

So tip of the day: Stay hydrated if you’re gonna pump 10 ounces of milk before a 5k. And here’s a few more tips for nursing moms who want to set a goal of running a 5K in the future:

1. Wear a good, supportive sports bra. And take it off as soon as the race is finished. Too much prolonged restriction can actually be painful and restrict the flow of milk.

2. Pump or nurse as close to the start of the race as possible. Empty both breasts.

3. Stay hydrated, particularly after nursing, even if it means you have to go to the bathroom during the race. This race is for you but you are still a nursing mom.

4. Wear comfortable underwear that will fit over that loose baby belly and doesn’t get caught underneath it, where it can rub on a C-Section scar.

5. Have a good nutritious meal afterward to replenish your body or opt for a good post-race smoothie to replenish nutrients and help with recovery.

And then kick back and soak it all in. Cus you’re a boss!