I’m sure you’ve seen a bunch of posts and articles explaining how important it is to teach kids responsibility by having them participate in household chores. This isn’t one of those posts. Even though I absolutely agree it’s important to teach kids responsibility and impart a good work ethic and all that stuff, I’ll let more qualified individuals advise you on that. I’m not here to talk about responsibility, I’m here to share with you the real reasons I make my kids do chores.
1. I’m Tired Of Doing All Chores
Honestly? I’m just tired of it. All these years of doing dishes, laundry, bathrooms, vacuuming, dusting (hahaha just kidding on that one) sweeping and mopping for a family of 6 just kind of got old. Then one day it hit me, “This is bullsnap! These kids are big enough to help!” I don’t know if that aha moment came to me after I saw the classroom list of jobs my triplets happily participated in 1st grade or when my 5th grade son built an incredibly complex Lego structure with moving parts. Either way I figured, if they can do that stuff, they can certainly empty the dishwasher!
2. I Don’t Want Their Spouses to Hate Me
My kids are still in elementary school, but sometimes I walk around my house, stepping over minefields of Legos and Littlest Pet Shop pets and I think, “If I can’t get them to start picking up after themselves what are their spouses going to think of them? What will their spouses think of me? Will they be annoyed that I never taught my kids to actually pick their wet towel up off the floor and hang it up on a hook? Will they be beyond annoyed at me, angry even? Will they let me see my grandchildren?” Ok, maybe I’m getting a little carried away here, but I really don’t want to send them out into the world thinking that it’s okay to be a slob and have other people pick up after you.
3. I Want Them to Make a Connection
You know, the -if I drop a piece of food on the floor it will stay there forever unless someone picks it up-connection. I don’t think they’ve made that connection quite yet. When my kids drop food on the floor, they make no motion to pick it up. I’m pretty sure they think a magical cleaning fairy comes in at night and takes care of all that. Worse yet, they know that I’ll pick it up so they don’t have to. Well not any more kiddos! Grab that broom and get to sweeping! Mama’s off the clock!
So I set up a cleaning schedule for my kiddos. They each have a daily chore to do during the week, and a bigger chore that they do on Saturdays. It’s been heavenly. Sometimes I actually sit on the couch and direct them around. “You there! Empty the cat litter! And you, other triplet! Wipe the table!” At first I felt a little guilty but then I remembered all those parenting articles written by real grown ups who told me this was a good thing for my kids because, you know, responsibility and stuff!
What about you? Do you make your kids do chores?
First of all, before I start my tirade, I do want to thank you for bagging my groceries. Not many stores have a designated bagger so that’s nice. I also think it’s great that you are working after school instead of staying home and taking drugs and making out with girls or whatever the kids are doing these days. So, good for you! But I do have a few tips for you and I hope you don’t mind if I share them:
Stop Making the Bags So Freakin’ Heavy
You are obviously very gifted in the spacial intelligence category. I can tell that you are a genius at tetris just by looking at the incredible amount of items you are able to fit into my grocery bag. I mean I would have stopped at two cartons of juice, but you were somehow able to also fit eight boxes of mac and cheese, 2 pounds of butter, a bunch of bananas and a pineapple. It’s like you’ve somehow magically changed my reusable bag into a Mary Poppins carpet bag!
When you pick up the bag to add it to my cart, I can see that you have no trouble at all, what with all that fresh testosterone coursing through your veins, but honey, I’m nearly over the hill, pushing a cart full of kids, so please just stop. I cannot lift this ridiculously heavy bag! Just because you can fit all the things in one bag, doesn’t mean you should.
Don’t Give My Kids Stickers
Honestly I feel bad even suggesting this because it’s such a nice gesture on your part. But I have to be frank here. In the big wide world of stickers, yours are the worst. They barely stick and they feature cartoon animals that no one can really recognize. Like, is this green thing with a beak supposed to be a duck or a platypus? Plus, it only just adds to the time I’m trapped in this store with my adorable little monsters. Then, once you finally find the stickers and pull off four unidentifiable creatures, my kids inevitably fight over who gets the pink elephanty hippo-ish looking animal, which in turn causes added referee work for me.
Don’t Accuse Me of Stealing
Yes, it’s true that I snagged my gallons of milk off the conveyor belt before you were able to slap some paid stickers on them and I’m sorry if I overstepped the bagger boundary, but do you really think I stole them? When you pointed to the gallons in my cart, I was a little worried that you were going to remove them and place both in a bag along with an anvil, but then you so politely clarified by telling me that you just wanted to make sure the cashier rung them up. Seriously, dude? I know people steal; but I’m still insulted that you are in fact, accusing me of stealing to my very face. Maybe next time you think someone is stealing, you can ask the cashier in a more discreet manner.
So, there are some tips for you! Other than these very minor improvements, I think you are well on your way to being an excellent grocery store bagger, or perhaps an expert trunk packer/weight lifter.
The middle age woman who literally could not lift most of her bags and had to unpack them to put them in her minivan and who definitely does not steal milk from grocery store.
I first noticed that my husband was doing things wrong when we had our first child. He could not swaddle at all. He would have to wake me up in the middle of the night to get me to do it for him. When he put diapers on, they were crooked. He didn’t stop halfway through the bottle to burp the baby. Oh, and you should have seen how he put the sheets on the crib! Totally wrinkly and not lined up at all. There’s more too, but I’ll spare you the details (and me the embarrassment of complaining about a husband that did so much!)
It. Drove. Me. Nuts. And I would tell my husband, “You’re doing it wrong” and “Here, let me do it.” I would stop him from helping me so I could do it myself-the proper way. Let me repeat that: I would stop my husband from helping me. Crazy, right?
Then one night, out of my mind with sleep deprivation I figured it out. Maybe I wouldn’t be so tired, if I just let Bill help with the baby. It was a huge light bulb moment for me. I suddenly didn’t care if the diaper was crooked, or he missed a snap on the pj’s or if the formula was a few degrees cooler than I imagined our son liked it. All that mattered in that moment was sleep.
So I started letting him help and it was A-Mazing! I suddenly didn’t care that the baby clothes weren’t folded very neatly, I was just happy they were folded and I didn’t have to do it! I didn’t care if the bottles went through the dishwasher instead of being hand-washed, I was just happy there were clean bottles when I needed them.
Not only did I accept his offer of help, I stopped telling him he was doing it wrong (even though I died a little inside every time he would use like 15 wipes to change a diaper).
I can’t tell you what an impact this lesson has had on my marriage. Instead of trying to control every aspect of my son’s life, our son’s life, I learned to trust my husband and began to let go of my ego and quest for perfectionism. We became a team, instead of me dictating to him the correct way to do things, like he was in my employ. And over time, especially now that my son is a tween, I learned that this ain’t just the mom and son show. My son needs his dad.
So, if your husband’s doing it wrong, let him! He’ll make mistakes and he won’t always do it your way (which we all know is the best way) but you’ll get a break. And more importantly, you’ll get to sit back and watch him put the diaper on crooked while he sings and coos to the baby and the singing and cooing turns into playing cars and bandaging knees and that turns into going for haircuts and talking about girls and over time you’ll see this has become a really awesome bond that your child will have with his dad, a bond that he doesn’t share with anyone else in the world.
Oh, but you might want to go out and get one of those swaddle blankets with the velcro that are really easy to put on because he just might never figure that one out.
Normally when I hear, “You look tired,” I feel like that’s code for someone telling me “You look old,” or “Yoga pants again?” This Friday I hope to take it as a compliment. This time I want to hear it as, “That was some expert level parenting this week!”
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To my Pediatrician:
First of all, let me say thank you for taking such good care of my four babies and also for putting up with all my questions. You think by now, I’d be a little more laid back, but I still call your office as frantically and as frequently as a first time mom.
Having said that, let me say this: I can’t answer your questions any more. To your question, “When did the symptoms start?” My answer is, “I have no idea.” Please consider this my answer to all the other questions you are about to ask me about my child’s health.
What color is her snot? No clue.
Has he been having headaches? Iunno
Has she been coughing at night? Maybe?
How high was his fever? Ummmm……
Did she injure her toe at school? Blank stare
All I know is that they are sick now.
I wish I knew all the answers to the pediatrician’s questions: when each cough started, how long the fevers lasted, which one was coughing last night. The truth is, I just can’t remember.
Over the past three months we have had three strep infections, three kids on nebulizer treatments, one case of pneumonia, one UTI, four teeth pulled, one sinus infection, two rashes, three taped toes, plus a myriad of fevers, coughs, runny noses, headaches, tummy aches, bruises, and scraped knees.
I have poured countless tiny plastic cups of medicine, taken dozens of temperatures, run humidifiers, sprayed saline up little noses, made tea, gave spoonfuls of honey, diffused essential oils, aired out the house, boiled toothbrushes, rested, iced, and elevated, applied at least a box or two of bandaids, and paid a small fortune in copays.
Pediatrician, my head is spinning with sickness details, medication measurements, and absence notes for school. I’m honestly not sure how I even got to your office today and I’m not 100% on which kid I actually have with me today. So I’m very sorry that I can’t give you any more details about this particular kid and how long their mucus may or may not have been green.
All I know is that they are sick now.
I think it’s safe to assume it’s been a long time since the snot has turned green, their breathing has taken a turn for the worse, and the fever has either been high enough or lasted long enough to prickle my mom senses and get us in here. Just do the best you can and thank you. Thank you for bearing with me and all the other sickness weary moms. Hopefully this is the last time I’ll see you until spring! Until then, I’ll return to my cool mist humidifier fogged den of illness.
A Worn Out Mom
When I heard about Pokemon Go about a year ago, I dreaded it’s release, but now that it’s here, I love it-even though I don’t play and my kids don’t either. Here’s why:
My ten year old bestest boy loves Pokemon and has for the past 5 years. And when I say love, I’m putting it lightly. He has over 500 cards, most of the games, novels about the characters, he watches the shows and movies, and has almost all of the pokedexes (which, for you pokenovices, are encyclopedias of Pokemon-listing all the characters and details about them). Before you think I spoiled him with all this stuff, please know that it took 5 years to accumulate this crap, I mean special, important, pokestuff, and a lot of it was in the form of gifts from our large and generous extended family.
In a Minecraft world, being a pokefan hasn’t been too easy for my sonny boy. Pokemon is not popular in my son’s school. Very few of the kids play the video games or watch the shows. A couple have some cards, but they aren’t invested like my son is. Add to that that my boy is a little on the quirky side. But if you are a true Pokemon fan, you probably already guessed that. So, he has learned not talk about Pokemon at school; he doesn’t wear his favorite Pokemon shirt because “nobody else likes Pokemon, Mom,” and he holds his own with his knowledge of Minecraft, which more of the kids like.
It’s not all doom and gloom though friends, luckily most of my nieces and nephews are also superpokefans! My boy pulls out his pokeshirt when he knows he’s going to see them, pokecard binder in one hand and Nintento DS in the other! We all go to the beach together for a week in the summer and the kids find a space to hang out, trade cards, play games, but mostly talk about Pokemon. We call it the pokeden. It’s super cute and honestly, a nice break for the parents who are sick and tired of hearing about it. Then all us adults can sit around and talk about stuff we are interested in-like who was Mom’s favorite!
Anywho-I was so apprehensive when Pokemon Go came out, I didn’t even tell Will. I don’t really have a problem with Pokemon per se, but I do know that when sonny boy spends “too much” time doing pokethings, he has a hard time switching his mind over to the task at hand. He gets lost in his own pokeworld and on the way up to brush his teeth, he forgets why he was going upstairs.
But of course I couldn’t hide it. And sure enough he started hearing about it from friends, family, Pokemon websites, and even on the news. I made sure to point out all the “Wow, Pokemon Go is so dangerous people are getting robbed and hit by cars” stories to dissuade him.
But then something really cool happened. I found out that the people playing the game aren’t necessarily the pokepeople. They are just people who want to play this game, which is actually pretty fun-even if you’re not a fan.
Then something even cooler happened, I was helping out at Sunday school and a teen helper asked the class if any of them had Pokemon Go. Sonny boy said no, but that he liked Pokemon. The teen said he just downloaded the game and found his first Pokemon, a little orange dragon. (I was thinking, “do you mean Charmander,” all rolling my eyes at his lack of pokeknowledge and then immediately thinking, “ugh, why do I know so much about pokemon?”)
But my son politely and enthusiastically said, “That’s probably a Charmander!” The two talked and the teen found my son again the next week to talk to him about the 76 more pokemon he found.
So now, I love Pokemon Go! Because people who aren’t true fans are playing it, getting interested in Pokemon, talking about it socially, asking my son questions, and appreciating his encyclopedic knowledge.
I know this won’t always be the case for him, that what the mainstream is talking about is something he’s interested in. Most kids in the school don’t have a special love for geodes, a crazy amount of knowledge about sharks and Greek mythology and prefer doing science experiments over playing soccer. And I’m ok with that. I love my quirky little boy. All these things he’s interested in are what makes him who he is and I wouldn’t change any little bit of him.
But I do have to admit that I am excited for school to start this year! So just once, my son can be truly involved and engaged in what the majority of the other kids are interested in!
I’m hoping the poketalk eclipses the Minecraft chatter. I’m hoping my boy dons his pokeshirt and lets his quirky flag fly and shows those Pokemon Go players what a true pokefan looks like.
The suit, friends, was made by Swim Solutions. Swim Solutions? Seriously? This is where I am in my life right now? I need a “solution” to my swimming “problem?”It’s like my husband is going to holler, “Hey, the kids and I are going swimming; come join us,” and my response will now have to be, “Oh, that sounds terrible. What a predicament. Oh wait, I think I have a solution,” as I pull on my bathing suit.
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If you are one of my mom friends and you notice me getting quiet during a discussion, you know something is very, very wrong. Because if you know me, you know I love to talk and it’s hard to get me to shut up. Add in a glass of wine or two at one of our moms nights in and I’ll probably dominate all the conversations. Except for the ones that this triplet mom just can join in. Like the ones below:
Conversations about what it’s like to go from having one kid to two kids – or two to three – or even three to four
Because I have no idea. I have four kids, yes, but I went from having one to four! Who else does that? Even in my multiples club, I think there are only a few of us that did that. So when you all start talking about which was harder, to go from having one kid to two or from two kids to three, I’ll just sit over here, sip my wine, much on the delicious snacks and wait for the next topic to jump in on.
Conversations about the differences in your pregnancies
Because most of you had your babies the normal way: One. At. A.Time. Like normal people do. So you’ll all talk about how you carried higher with your boys or had more heartburn with each successive pregnancy and I’ll just sit there. Because I do know that I carried bigger with my second pregnancy but that’s just because there was a full litter in there! Other than that, not much I can offer to this either. So, I’ll just be over here. What is that, crab dip? Lovely, I’ll have some of that.
Conversations about the baby days
Because I’m a little worried about seeming like a show off. Because you’ll all be talking about reflux, colic, the witching hour, teething, mastitis, and all kinds of fun stuff. And I’ll be like, yeah we did that times three! And you’ll all look at me like, show off! Or like I’m supermom Or both! My baby days stories are un-relatable. So, I’ll just be over here. Is that cabernet? I think I’ll try that next.
Conversations about deliveries
Because there was a team of people, people! Yes, some of my girlfriends have had emergency c sections and some have had babies early. So I can talk about the surgery, the recovery and that sort of thing. But do you know how many people were in my delivery room? 12! A dozen people, not counting the babies. My OB, her student, (teaching hospital) two anesthesiologists, a NICU nurse for each baby, two NICU doctors, my nurse, my husband and me. And then when the babies were delivered, they were whisked away to spend their first 4 weeks of life in a isolettes. So, I’ll just be here with this plate of mini eclairs…and another glass of that delicious cabernet.
So what I’m saying here is ladies, if we don’t talk about something else at this moms night in, I’m about to get real full and real drunk!
But seriously, I actually do participate in all these conversations with my close friends. All of our experiences are different – I have friends that had babies born early, HELLP syndrome, emergency c-sections, unmedicated deliveries – I have friends who had hyperemesis with all their pregnancies, who have children with special needs, kiddos born 15 months apart, kids with FPIES and other food allergies. We have all had difficulties as moms and I’m more than willing to share my experiences with my closest, bestest friends.
But I do shy away from these conversations with people I don’t know very well – because I don’t want to come off like I’m a show off or a supermom just because I’m a triplet mom.
What about you? Are there any mom conversations you feel like you can’t participate in?
This here is my minivan, Bertha. Ain’t she purdy?
She looks like a Bertha, right? If she were a person I imagine she’d be in her mid 60’s with big fluffy grayish white hair that curls away from her face. She’d be chubby wear cardigans and comfortable brown shoes. Sometimes she’d be a little grouchy when her gout was acting up but mostly she’d be cheerful.
She looks great in this picture – but don’t be fooled. I got lucky with that lighting. Really Bertha is pretty beat up. First there’s this rusty scrape that goes allllll the way down the right side of the car from when that guard rail came from out of nowhere. Honestly, I haven’t even washed her since then because it’s like, what’s the point?
Then there are various dents and bumps and scrapes from throwing my kayak on top and having kids who like to play frisbee and wiffle ball in the driveway.
There is a spot on the windshield that never gets clean because even though the wipers work and the washer fluid is full, the washer fluid sprays all areas of the windshield except for the section right in front of my face.
The automatic door on the right doesn’t obey the automatic door button and doesn’t lock automatically either. And no, it wasn’t because of the guard rail incident; it was broken before then.
The automatic door on the left works most of the time. Except for when it doesn’t. But it works well enough so that when you push the button, you walk away expecting it to close without checking it. And then you come out of karate an hour and a half later to find a gang of raccoons helping themselves to month old french fries. Ok, that last part may have been a little bit of an exaggeration.
The air conditioner doesn’t work. Well, it does work kind of. It blows cold air out of all the vents except the ones on the driver. Those blow burning hot air.
If it rained overnight I can’t steer for a few blocks.
The brakes squeak, well not the braks, but the break pedal. When I push it down it makes a faint, high pitched, “wheep,” like a sad little guinea pig.
It’s hard to explain the noise she makes when she’s idling, but it doesn’t sound good. It sounds like she’s tired, she’s struggling.
And so we are getting ready to say goodbye. And I am surprised that I’m feeling kind of sad about it. I thought I’d be ready to kick her to the curb and get a new, sleek van with a camera to help me back up and maybe some of that satellite radio and maybe even a DVD player built in for long trips!
But, as I think about getting rid of this van, I think about all the time she’s been with our family.
All the times I drove around with one, or two, or three crying babies trying to lull them to sleep. The time when the girls were 3 and everything was hard and cooking dinner seemed like an impossible task so we scrapped it and hopped in Bertha to go out for ice cream. The time we got stuck in traffic on a bridge for 2 hours and I cried in the backseat along with the kids. The time we brought our cat home and she made cute little squeaking sounds the whole way home. The time the car overheated and we pulled over in front of my 6th grade crush’s house to wait for Daddy to come rescue us. All the trips to the doctors office, the sing-a-longs, the fights and the giggles, the chit chats, the prayers for passing ambulances, the everyday conversations.
When I started this post, I thought I’d end up at fake sentimentality. I thought I’d make a few jokes about how “important” a minivan is to a stay at home mom. But now that I’m here at the end of the post, I’m a little embarrassed to say that the fake sentimentality has turned real. And now I’m not really sure where to go with this. I wanted to end on a funny note but now I’m feeling a little melancholy. So much of our life is tied to that van.
So I guess I’ll just end by saying, “Thanks Bertha.”
Warning-this post is not for those with a weak stomach since I delve into my feelings on the stomach bug. Be warned-it is a descriptive and bodily fluids heavy post.
photo credit – pixabay.com/en/users/jarmoluk-143740
A new milestone – a new puking milestone – has occurred in my world.
I was pretty convinced that by the time my children made it to kindergarten, we would have exhausted the world of milestones. All the big ones anyway: first tooth, first step, first word, first day of school.
But there are tons of unexpected and less celebrated firsts along the way. And my new favorite, by far, is the first time they make it to the toilet during our yearly stomach flu.
Vomit is my kryptonite, people. I will do anything for my kids and very little grosses me out. I never really minded changing diapers (I mean I did, but…). I’m not afraid to nurse my little ones around most illnesses and have no problem putting my lips on their burning foreheads to gauge their temperatures.
But puke, no. Just no. I literally can’t even.
It’s so unexpected. It goes everywhere. It looks gross coming out. And then more comes out. Oh, and the stench, dear Lord, that stench!
I think I must have a heightened sense of smell because I can always still smell it! Even after the room has been disinfected and the carpets have been steam cleaned. That’s why we had to move out of our last house. Because on really humid days, I could still catch a whiff of the epic hot dog barf of 2013 rising from the carpet fibers.
The stomach bug in our house normally goes something like this:
Child has belly ache and asks to sleep in our room. The quickest way for me to get back to sleep is to say yes, so yes. Child sits up and violently empties stomach contents all over bed. Child gets up out of bed, runs in circles, spews on floor and into basket of clean laundry. Child walks around making sure to distribute drops of puke throughout bedroom.
Cut to me, scrubbing, nose on carpet, inhaling deeply, “Can’t you smell that, Bill? I can still smell it.” At this point my husband, who is standing in the doorway looking at me like I’m crazy, (clearly) heads downstairs to sleep on the couch.
And then I catch it. Of course I do, I just had my nose in the carpet! But before that is the anxiety of, “I wonder if I’m going to get it? I wonder when I’ll get it? I hope I don’t get it,” which is torture in itself.
But this year was different. First of all, I got it first. Which wasn’t fun, but it did eliminate the panicky worry about if and when I would succumb. But getting it first delegated me to the role of Head Cleaner Upper, since I was immune. I steeled myself for the job.
But to my amazement Victim Number One made it to the toilet. I mean, wow! One flush and a quick once over with the Lysol wipes and I was done? Victim Number Two didn’t even puke, because when one kid gets the stomach flu I pretty much starve my kids out and the foods I do give are easy on the stomach (read no meat, no fruit loops). And Victim Number Three, well, lets just say Victim Number Three is my new favorite. Victim Number Three announced a belly ache, was put on the couch and given the bucket and without any moaning or running around or anything, just leaned over and used the bucket. Done. I didn’t even know what happened until it was over.
Can I really even be this lucky? This could be a new era for my family!
I really hope so. But we still have one unaffected. The germs could be brewing in Victim Number Four’s belly as we speak. And who knows where that puke will land.