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Mommy Truths: February 2009

Mommy Truths

The Hard Learned Lessons and Eye Opening Realities of Raising Young Kids

Monday, February 23, 2009

Flying with Preschoolers

Awhile ago I wrote about traveling with toddlers. Well, as our kids have grown, it's become easier and I've learned a few new tricks. Last week, I flew to Florida with Son (5) and Daughter (2) without Husband. While the vacation itself was kind of lame (we all got sick) the flying part went very well. Here's what worked:

I brought a double stroller to keep Daughter in place (two year olds tend to run around and quickly get lost) and to help carry our stuff. The stroller is the magic carry-on since you can take it up to the door of the airplane and use it to transport all your kids' survival gear.

Our two carry-ons were a backpack, which I wore, and a small roller suitcase which Son could pull. And when it go too "heavy" I could manage to pull with one hand while erratically steering the stroller.

Into these carry ons I brought:
Crayons and two new coloring sticker books (one for each child)
Portable DVD player (charged, that's important!), movies, and Childrens Headphones (this is important since the little earbuds given out on the plane don't stay in and then, the kids don't watch the movie).

Softcover books to read/look at (we didn't use these)

Food. This is the most important item since airplanes don't serve it and when they do, it isn't very kid friendly.

  • Lunchables - great fun to eat as a meal (just be careful there isn't a packaged juice that won't make it through security)

  • Empty Thermos/sippy cup to pour liquids into on the plane (saves a lot of mess)

  • Carrots

  • Grapes

  • Apples

  • Crackers

  • Teddy Grahams/Goldfish packages

  • Granola bars

  • Starburst candy to chew on the descent

I then alternated between dolling out healthy and junk snacks. In truth, I brought little sugared snacks since these just invite antsy pants in close quarters. I saved the Starburst for popping ears on the way down and that way they were all sugared up to greet Grandma in the terminal.

All in all, both the flight down and return were our best traveling experiences yet!


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Zingo and Other Great First Games for Kids

We've reached a milestone. My family can now play games together. Games that Mommy and Daddy actually enjoy a bit, too. It started with the gift of ThinkFun Zingo for Son's fifth birthday. As the mother of the gift giver said, "Oh, you'll love it. My little one can play it, too." And she was right. Two year old Daughter talks trash about how she'll win and the rest of us will lose when she nails all the chips on her card. Son is very proud of winning and this game is both a concentration and confidence booster. I think the enjoyment lies somewhere between permission to yell loudly as you call out the image on your chip (T-Rex! Ghost!) and the tactile fun of handling the plastic chips (adults get some pokeresque satisfaction).

On our recent trip to Florida, I opted not to bring the game, fearing the chips would end up mingled with crumbs on the floor of the airplane. When we arrived at the gate, a bunch of kids were circled on the floor playing...Zingo. They invited us to join in and it was a great way to pass the time (Advice: Gate use recommended, airplane use still a risk.) I then purchased a second game at the Target near Grandma's and soon the whole extended family was playing together. Daughter even grabbed the game and corralled Grandma's visiting 73-year old friend to play with her.

Success at Zingo also led us to play Go Fish. Daughter doesn't quite get the concept of hiding her cards but Son is all over it and begs to play morning and night. Yesterday's cold rainy day consisted of several games of Zingo and Go Fish, a full house hide and seek (to stretch our legs a bit), then a movie (break needed).

For kids ages 2 and 3, fun early games we enjoyed were:
Cranium Cariboo - Helps learn shapes, colors, and letters while collecting balls to open the fun treasure chest.

Cranium Hullabaloo - Fun, movement game with music that also helps learn shapes and colors



Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Real Mommy: Sneaking Books in on the Side

Welcome to the first in a new series of Real Mommy profiles. I always find it helpful to learn how other moms do it and that I'm not alone with little limbs at night or finding creative ways to sneak in some mommy time.

Margaret has 9 and 6 year old boys and 4 year old girl.

What time do your kids get up in the morning?
My daughter is up by 6am. My middle one I have to drag out of bed by 7 or 7:30 for school.

Did any sleep with you last night?
Of course. I hate it but can't seem to put my foot down because I know it won't last forever and I will someday miss their warm little bodies next to me (okay, secretly I do love it). Probably won't miss their little elbows and knees though.

What do you feed your kids when you can't come up with anything else?
Chicken nuggets...only organic though because that makes them so much healthier, ha! Sometimes breakfast for dinner which is always a hit.

What do they love most in their lunchbox?
The food they buy from the snack bar.

If you have a short break, what's the first thing you do for the house?
Vacuum. I am obsessed with vacuuming.

For yourself?
Read, but I always feel guilty doing it. I also run a lot - always alone with great music on my ipod. It's when I solve all the world's problems.

What's the weirdest way you ever managed a break for yourself?
I hire a babysitter for my youngest two while I take my oldest to hockey practice. Not so much so I can watch, but so I can sit in the waiting room and read.

When was the last time you went out with your husband?
Do parent/teacher conferences count?

When was the last time you went out with the girls?
A few months ago for drinks and dinner...don't get out too much these days...

What's your latest charitable act?
I donate my bag credits at Whole Foods. Does that count?

How much TV do your kids really watch?
They don't watch much TV but they log a lot of hours on the Wii.

Do you care?
Yeah, I do...I can't stand to watch them veg-out but I give in a lot especially when my husband is traveling.

What's your favorite TV show?
New Adventures of Old Christine, hysterical!

Do you think about going back to work? What would you do?
I definitely do not want to go back to work. It is really important to me to be there for my kids volunteering in their classrooms, being room mom, being at all their practices. I wouldn't miss a second of it. I think it is the most important job in the world!

What item can't you live without?
My cell phone.

What do you covet?
A quiet morning with a cup of coffee, a good book and sleeping children. But I don't want to get up at 5am to have it!

What do you want your kids to remember most about their childhood?
That we laughed a lot, that they were adored and accepted for exactly who they were and that I was always there for them.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Should You Tell Young Kids About a Job Loss?

Last Fall when Husband was laid off, one of my primary goals was to "protect" the kids. I didn't want them exposed to the stress and fear we were feeling or the safety of their family shaken. At two and four years old, they can't quite grasp what a job loss means, so why bring it up?

So, we didn't really say anything. Husband left most days to "work" on his job hunt at the library. And when they asked where Daddy was (as they tend to do throughout the day anyway), I'd simply say, "He's working." While I think they appreciated that he was indeed around the house more and helped out with them when I needed to run out, they never said, "Why is Daddy home more?"

When he was fortunate (very) to land a job after a couple months, I wondered what to tell them. I feared transition issues when Daddy stopped being home. Especially after the oodles of hours we spent together over the holidays.

One day I mentioned this to Great Grandma over the phone. "Why tell them anything?!" she exclaimed, with her particular flair for sharing crisp Jewish wisdom. "They don't need to know he's going back to work. He's going to work, like any other day. That's what you say."

So, the transition from a job and back to a job went by for the children with little fanfare. The transition issues I feared never came to pass. Probably because we didn't make a big deal of it and the January back to school routine was a good starting point for a new job, too.

The truth is young kids probably won't get a "layoff" so why bother them about it?

(Although Son did manage a stray comment this week when I responded that Daddy would be home after dinner. "Oh, is that because he started a new job?" Yeah.

Read my full tale of Husband's job loss.