Live long… Laugh often… Love always.
Many people have said to me you never stay home do you? I will answer them not really, I am the anti-stay at home, stay at home mom. I love bringing my kids many different places and letting them experience life.
-Don’t just read about doing things or watch them on tv, actually do things!!!
-Teach your children about life by giving them life experiences.
-Teach your children when to feel safe and when to feel leery of others by being around many different people.
-Teach your children how to solve problems by giving them real life opportunities to practice solving them.
-You can’t create life experiences if you never leave the house.
It is a whole lot easier to not leave the house, to not have to plan ahead, pack lunches, pack snacks, pack strollers, bundle up little kids, worry about melt downs, but that does not mean you should take the easy road and stay home.
Your kids will be healthier if you never bring them out of the house and expose them to germs from other sick kids with their sticky, dirty, germy hands touching everything that your kids will touch. How will your childs immune system deal with the onslaught of germs once they reach school age if they have not already had every one of the normal childhood illnesses?
Your kids wont have to experience mean children if you never bring them places where mean children play. How are they going to learn how to defend themselves and when it is important to stand up for themselves and others? There will always be mean kids, mean teenagers and mean adults, give them the life experiences and talk to them about how to deal with mean people and stand up for themselves without being violent.
Your kids won’t know how fortunate they are if they dont see poor people. If you never bring them downtown and let them see the homeless people walking out of the shelter or staying warm in the skyways. Let them appreciate their good fortune and see first hand how some people live, teach them kindness and empathy.
Your kids need to see that there are dangerous people in the world that they need to watch out for. Teach them to appreciate that the police and fire departments are here, show them what a burnt down house looks like, point out to them that bad people get caught and get arrested.
Your kids will not learn to stand up for themselves if they don’t see you standing up for yourself! If we never leave the house we would not experience that not everyone in the world are honest or rule followers. My children have witnessed me standing up for what I believe is right by me confronting others.
Let your kids experience unfairness when they have been standing in line to go across the lily pads at the pool and a rude kid cuts in front of them. Use that as a learning experience to teach them to stand up for themselves in the future and to say I was here first.
Show your children which people you want them to avoid because they are scary or give you a bad feeling, let them learn to trust their instincts and know that not all people are good. Give your kids opportunities to be around strangers so you can teach them which strangers are not okay to talk to.
Let your kids learn about life by experiencing it first hand, bring your kids in as many places as you can, teach them how to live life around all different kinds of people not just people who you want to associate with. Give them the skills to live through life experiences, and the real world opportunities to practice those skills.
Despite being more work, more time, more germs, more mean kids, more frightening, I bring my kids out to experience the world!
Nobody said parenting was easy and my daughter is certainly no exception! I was a full time working mom up until my daughter was 3 years 2 months old and my son was 8 months old, I think I balanced working full time, with being a good mom and never envisioned that I would ever be a stay at home mom. Here is the story about why I had to quit my full time job.
My sister was my daughters daycare, she got to go on outings, be in a loving home where her aunt took care of her and she played with her cousin every day. My sister was going to have another baby and no longer wanted to watch my daughter so I had to find another daycare for my daughter. I did months of research, did pop in and scheduled visits to my top 12 daycares and finally found one that would be the best fit for my daughter. It was not the least expensive daycare in fact it was about 250 dollars more than I was spending on my infant son’s daycare. I liked the center, I liked that they had outside playtime, and an indoor muscle room for the kids to get exercise each day. I liked the staff, the location, the access to seeing natural sunlight instead of being stuck in a basement. I thought it was the perfect place!
I planned the transition based upon other peoples positive transition experiences into starting new daycares. We visited together twice, she did an art project while I sat in the corner, she played well and interacted well with the group. I was paying for these transition days of course. The week before I started back to school, I put her in the daycare for only four hours and came back fast to pick her up. When I got there to pick her up she was sitting by the door and ran into my arms and said, I never thought you would come back for me mom! I told her I would always come back. Then the next Monday it was time to go back to work so she was going to start her first full day of daycare.
My husband brought my daughter out to breakfast at McDonalds before he was going to drop her off at her new daycare. She ate her pancakes, drank her chocolate milk and was happy as usual. As soon as my husband told her that they were going to daycare now, she projectile vomited all over McDonalds. My husband is a sympathetic puker so he appoligized to the person behind the counter and quickly left the restuarant with her. He quickly called me and I had to leave my first day back at work and come home to spend with my daughter. I wondered if it was a reaction to her dad dropping her off or if she really had a bug so I decided that the next day, I would be late for work and drop her off at daycare. On the way there I tried to distract her with where we were going, as soon as her feet hit the parking lot, she vomited again. I had to call in sick again. This is when I started really noticing the change in her personality. She constantly cried and would not let me go, it was actually ruining her happy, bubbly personality and turning her into a worried and sad child. Besides the fact that I was afraid what kind of damage this transition was causing her, you cant bring a kid to daycare when they puke.
After day 3 of her throwing up and me crying myself to sleep at night because my daughter was so sad, I decided I had to quit my job. My daughter’s happiness was worth more than the measly few dollars I made after I paid for daycare. I loved my job and thought I could hang in there in order to keep that awesome job when my daughter went to Kindergarten and the daycare cost verses job earning cost flipped in our favor. My husband and I talked about it and we decided the best thing to do was for me to quit working. I walked in with my letter of resignation and handed it to my boss, he tried to change my mind, have me take sick days until the transition worked but I did not feel that the situation would resolve itself quickly enough to work. I walked into her daycare and told them that I was quitting my job and they thankfully did not charge me the next two weeks of child care fees since I was not earning any money.
I realized that I am now a stay at home mom and my daughters personality was finally turning back into her typically bubbly self but any mention of me leaving her and she would break down. I decided that I needed to figure out a way to retrain my daughter who used to have no problems leaving me how to stop clinging to me again. I decided to sign up for an ECFE seperating class and enroll her brother into the sibling care option so I could focus on my daughter. The first day of class I told the teachers that I was not going to leave, the second class day I was able to leave the room for 30 minutes but she cried uncontrolably the whole time, I was a wreck, the whole time I was away in the parent classroom, the only good thing was I was able to share with the above story with the parent group so they knew why my daughter was screaming in the next room.
The 3rd week she did not want to go back to class, she sobbed and cried and clung to me as we entered the building. I was going to try to regain her trust and not leave her to help with the sepration. By the time we entered the classroom she was so worked up, she projectile vomited all over the floor right next to all of the parents and children and the parent educators. As soon as she is done throwing up, she looks up at me and says, “Now we get to go home right mom?” I replied Yes now we have to. I made her stand right outside of the vomit and told her to be quiet. I was frustrated and I was embarrassed. All of the parents were looking at me like what is wrong with this lady that brings this crying, sick three year old to ECFE? I was quickly cleaning up the puke that was all over the floor, the garbage can, my shoes and her shoes. I cleaned up her vomit and appoligized profusely to the parents who hopefully remembered my story from the week before. I frustratingly packed up her stuff picked up her brother from the child care room and walked out with my head down. It continued this way for the next 4 weeks, crying nervous, begging me not to leave, until one day she looked at me and said you can go now mom. What? Really? I can go? I can hang out with the other parents?
Oh the joy, my daughter trusted these ECFE teachers enough to let me go! She gradually warmed up and her bubbly, outgoing, happy personality started coming back. By the second session she was almost the same little girl that I had before I tried to put her into a new daycare. It was a long, very trying road. I had never heard of anyone who could get so nervous that they could vomit. It was amazing to me that a 3 year old could have that strong of a nervous reaction to anything! I am so grateful that she is outgoing and not scarred for life from that experience. By the time she was 4 years old she had absolutely no problem with transitions, she walked into her first day of preschool with no tears, excited as can be to go make new friends. Now that she is 5 she is even more outgoing, loves to be away from me. She is so confident that her teacher told me the other day that she stood in front of the whole school of 800 kids and recited a poem on the microphone.
Life is all about choices and appropriate responses to situations that pop up. I am grateful for my choice to quit my job and stay home with my children. I believe that my choice has helped shape my daughter into the outgoing, friendly, happy, confident child that she is today. The best part she no longer vomits when nervous! Whew!
When I find out that my friends are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, I always tell them one thing, journal what you do every day for a week, so you know how you spent your days before kids. I have tried but I honestly can’t remember what I did with all of my free time when I worked 9-10 hours per day and thought I was soooo busy before kids.
When I was a full time working mom I envied the stay-at-home moms because I thought it would be so much easier. Now that I am a professional mom, there are occasional days where I would love to work full time again. When I worked full time I had daily adult time, lunch and break time to make personal phone calls or exercise and had time to myself with my thoughts. I was able to use my break times to run errands like pick up dry cleaning, go to the post office, run to Target, or get tabs for the car without having two kids to control while you try to communicate to the person behind the counter who is irritated that I have kids with me who are fighting over who gets to hold my purse.
I honestly thought that I would have so much more time to get stuff done if I did not work outside the home full time. I remember telling my sister that I would always have a clean house as a professional mom, have time to make home cooked meals nightly, never have a dirty laundry pile, and I also remember her laughing at me and saying you will see, the more you are home, the messier your house gets.
I adore my kids and love that I am able to be a stay at home mom be able to teach them and show them new sights, and bring them so many places I would not have time to go while working. I love being the primary person to teach them our families values every day and not have to worry about their safety or the lack of attention they are getting while I am at work.
In an I attempt to write this quick post i have cut up an apple, wiped a butt, did the potty training cheer, broke up two disagreements, read a book, kissed away tears and typed one handed while the other arm held my little guy. I wish the younger me understood the extra energy that is needed to be a good mom, how an attentive mom is always on and present and how exhausted a mom can be at the end of each day. If I would have understood how much work it is to be an attentive mom, I would have been a been a much better friend to my friends with kids.
Whether you are a good stay at home mom or a good mom working outside of the house you have my respect! I am sure you understand how different your life is with kids than it was without.
Below is a copy of an article from the column Tell Me About It published in the Washington Post by Carolyn Hax, that I thought was funny and insightful. Enjoy! (Click on the image for bigger view.)
I am very fortunate to be able to have my full time job be taking care of my children at this point. But it has not always been that way, I have had both of my children in daycare situations. My son was in a home daycare for the first 9 months of his life. I know how hard it is to find a good daycare with a safe home and a daycare provider you like and trust. It took me months and dozens of interviews to find the right people to watch my children, but even with the research I did, there were still things I did not like about my kids day cares. There were many days that I would pick up my son and he would be sitting in a baby swing, I wondered how long he had been in there? When he was not strapped in the baby swing, he was in an exersaucer, the play yard, the crib or high chair. I felt like he was strapped in to something the entire day.
Now that I am a professional mom, I go on outings with my kids multiple times each week. We go everyplace I can think of to teach them fun things and get them exercise. While I am out I frequently encounter day cares out on their field trips and I am occassionally really saddened and frustrated by the way that some of the kids seem to be strapped in the whole time.
I brought my kids to an indoor playground a few months back, the daycare lady had 5 kids with her, 3 kids that were old enough to climb on their own in the play structure, and the little 2 kids were strapped into the double stroller the entire two hours of her outing. One of the kids spirit was broken and she just sat there bored in the stroller with no toys to play with, and the boy who was the same age as my son, wanted to get out so bad he would go through spurts of trying as hard as he could to get free and then would just sit there and cry. The two kids could have played in the toddler area or with balls in the gym area, but it was easier for the daycare lady to keep them strapped in place and wait for 2 hours.
Last summer I watched a daycare woman who always seemed to bring her daycare kids to the outdoor splash pool the same days I went there. She would have about 5 or 6 kids, she would leave the two little ones strapped into the double stroller while she texted on her phone and the other 3 or 4 kids would be supervised by the lifeguards so she could have a break. The little kids would have loved to be in a swim suit and splashing around like the rest of the little kids in the pool but they were stuck there. I see this all the time at the zoo but at least there they are usually moving around and can at least see a change of scenery, not just parked in one place for hours.
Today I saw something that made me so angry. A woman had 6 kids in her home daycare and she always seemed to be in the same room I was in at the Childrens Museum in St. Paul. There was one boy who was the youngest in the group who she kept buckled into the double stroller the entire time she was there. It was so sad because this is a place where you are supposed to touch and explore things to learn and she had a 3 year old stuck in the stroller so he could just watch the other kids have fun. He kept asking can I please get out in this room? Then he would push and pull and lift up his butt as high as he could but he was strapped in so tight he was not going anywhere.
I know there are many day cares who don’t strap the kids in and they figure out how to manage all of the kids and let them all have fun while they are on an outing. Unfortunately, there are the bad daycare providers who believe in strapping the little kids in to make them easier to control and monitor in public. It makes me wonder if they think that is OK to keep the kids stuck in one place in public, what do they do when nobody is watching?
Why do I write this? If you have a kid in daycare please ask what the daycare provider does with the little kids when they brings the kids outside, to the park, or on a field trip. Ask specifically how long they think it is OK to keep a kid strapped in during the day. If they are one of the daycare providers that strap kids in most of the day, you might want to reconsider your choice of day cares.
Flying with kids is a totally different experience than traveling alone. As a parent you no longer get to sit and take a nap or read a book and relax on a plane like you used to be able to when traveling without kids. You are now on stage and being criticized and critiqued by other passengers who paid to have a pleasant flight. As a parent your job is to be attending to your children for the duration of the flight, to make sure that they are not ruining someone else’s experience and making the other passengers miserable. I believe you need to be prepared and armed with bag of tricks to keep your kids happy. Here is how I do it and it is all about planning ahead and being overly prepared.
I have one carry on for me and one for each child. This year they both were old enough to carry their own bags, so they each had a wheeled backpack that they happily pulled around the airports. Inside of each of their backpacks was about five of their favorite small toys, my son had a car, a semi truck, a dinosaur, a Diego toy and a fake phone. My daughter had a barbie, some barbie clothes, a tiara, a hand held video game, and a few small trinkets. I packed 10 paperback books in each of their bags, a sticker book, and I also included their favorite blanket and cuddle animal. I tossed in one change of clothes for each kid at the bottom of their bags just in case we had a juice explosion.
In my bag I pack for the worst case scenario. I have read too many stories recently about people stuck on the tarmac, overnight, inside of the plane, and I am afraid that would happen to me, so I pack as if I am ready for that to happen. I brought one compartment of my full size backpack filled with snacks, goldfish crackers, cookies, M&M’s, small suckers, and two sippy cups. In the airport I pick up 2 waters, 1 juice and 1 sprite along with a sandwich and something healthy like an apple to eat, just in case. I fill up their sippy cups on the plane with the water/juice mixture so they are drinking plenty of fluids to help avoid ear popping issues. I also have children’s melt away Tylenol tablets that I give each one a full dose prior to boarding the plane, I also bring Ear-planes earplugs to put in their ears to help regulate pressure. I always carry hand sanitizers, bandages and an emergency kit that I keep in my purse on a daily basis. My son was also not potty trained, so I packed enough diapers and wipes to get me to the next day. In the large compartment of my backpack, I pack one portable DVD player with child sized headphones, and one Net-book computer with the favorite movies loaded on, along with a video IPod and about 5 more paper back books for the kids.
While we were waiting for the plane to take off and get up to cruising altitude to use approved electronic devices, we read books, watched out the window, talked about the parts of the plane, had the first small snack, drank lots of juice, played with the mini-magna doodle and the sticker books. Once we got up to cruising altitude we turned on the movies. My daughter watched Little Mermaid and my son watched Elmo, and that entertained the kids for about 1 hour. It was nice I was able to sit and browse sky-mall in between handing out snacks. Once they got bored, we took a short trip to the bathroom so they could stretch out their legs, changed my son’s diaper, washed both of their hands, sat down, read more books, told stores, drew pictures with my fingers on their backs, played with one of the toys in their bags, and then switched the movie to see if it would regain their attention, and it did. We use a lot of technology on planes because we have it, we use video players for the 4 hour car trip to the cabin multiple times each summer. If we did not own the DVD players, I would have brought more story books and coloring books and crayons instead, it would have worked as well, but there would have been no breaks to the parent entertainment portion during that 3 hour flight.
As for my preparation and over packing, my kids were happy to have the attention, content to relax and watch their favorite movies and snack on their favorite treats at leisure. We were not stuck on the tarmac, there was no screaming, no crying, they both sat in their own seats, in their seat belts, no kicking seats, and no irritated neighbors in the plane I believe it is because my kids were paid attention to the entire time and because there was plenty of things to keep them busy and entertained. Good luck with your plane ride!