I was having a bit of trouble coming up with a post this week as a hurricane and homeschooling had me a little pre-occupied. Then a friend suggested I should share my parenting tips on raising boys….
So I write this next blog post with fourteen years experience of raising children (and I also babysat as a kid). I feel I have developed a wealth of knowledge in my time and have found many ways in which to excel at this parenting malarkey. I admit my experience may be founded on the basis of what not to do but I think it’s about time I shared some tips just like all the good bloggers do.
Providing a healthy diet
Science and shopping bills have demonstrated kids need feeding. Costly. Time consuming and often a thankless task which creates even more work with the clear up. Often the action of cleaning a reluctant toddler’s face feels more like you’re performing the chloroforming manoeuvre that the bad guys in movies undertake. Children require a balanced diet apparently. Saying that, a balanced diet should be age appropriate. Let’s say for example, your husband assures you that he is more than capable of looking after your treasured 4 month old infant whilst you take a rare opportunity for overtime at work. You aren’t for certain he is responsible enough but having married him, you feel kind of duty bound to trust him with your most precious entity. Don’t! Unless of course, you know that your four month old is capable of chomping down a bowl of Kellogs All Bran with sliced almonds and whole raisins for breakfast…he was most surprised that our poor bubba was not yet advanced enough for this nourishing breakfast. So actually, this tip is less about the feeding them aspect and more about always being right to assume the husband is a buffoon.
Travelling with children
Try to avoid it wherever possible. No matter how much planning went into the mammoth task of packing a small suitcase for a trip to buy bread, you will surely forget something. Or not have enough. On our drive back from France, I had carefully prepped five costume changes in the event of an incident. That may seem like overkill but experience whispers to your optimistic self confidence that a trip with children must involve the Boy Scout’s motto, “Be prepared“. I just wish the scouts would elaborate on what you should be prepare for. It turns out for this trip, it would be bright blue puke. That was a new color variation at least. And with five changes of clothing, you can be damn sure he puked 7 times. I think the poor little fella was wearing a pillow case by the time we made it across the channel with a new resolution to never buy Smurfs Haribo again!
Bodily functions require a lot of attention. And I’ve learned that travelling can cause normal etiquette to be thrown out of the window. I’ve driven down the M1 at 70mph with a Costa coffee cup held behind me screaming ” I know it’s not a toilet but you said you didn’t want to go! Pee in the damn cup!” I’ve stared down a flight attendent who told us to return to our seats because the plane was beginning its descent. So were my son’s bowel movements. She must have sensed my panic and let us pass knowing we’d have time to get back as the descent takes at least 15 minutes. Fool!! The kid was still sat singing happily to himself and swinging his short little legs to and fro with carefree abandon as we taxi’d into the gate. However, precious moments like these remind you there’s no one else you would stand in that tiny little cubicle bracing yourself against the flimsy wall as the plane landed rather heavily for. Also, they remind you why you shouldn’t believe your little offspring when they say they don’t need to go. Never believe them! NEVER!!
But what about when they do want to go at a convenient time. It is essential when potty training to clarify the options available to them. Clear communication is paramount. If you tell a child to go to the loo if they need to, you should ensure they understand the loo you’re referring to is sized for humans and in another room. Especially when visiting a friend’s brand new house. How would I know he would think the toy Happy Land/ Fisher Price less than 2 inches tall toilet was the one he should use! But he did!! And obviously, the way we established this was by kneeling down to play with him and realizing my knee was becoming damper by the second!! Thank heavens for understanding friends.
When to visit the doctors office
My next valuable lesson is about considering the need to visit the doctor. Being English, I was lucky enough to have the NHS on hand to deal with health concerns. Being a student nurse at the time, I was well aware of the burden placed on this wonderful service by malingerers and time wasters. As a mum, I knew I trod a thin line of panic appointments. Every sniffle could be pneumonia, every rash; meningitis. It’s important to stay calm and rational when these situations arise. My go to medical advice is still NHS Direct (especially after the removal of a Lego arm from an ear cost us $85). Evidence based, impartial and importantly, free advice in the States is not easy to come by. As soon as the nagging worries begin, I reach for the computer and google away. Then based on their advice, I make necessary appointments.
When the kids were small I was the same. I’m proud that I didn’t rush them to the docs every time they sneezed or fell over. Our hospitals visits have been solely for drinking nail polish remover when I turned my back to fetch a towel and for putting a trampoline too close to the fence so when they made their huge jump close to the edge, the safety net caught them but so did the concrete post. Full on. Smack to the forehead! That had us heading to the ER and repositioning the trampoline! Safety net indeed!!
If the child is ill, it’s harder to assess. Watching your usually happy, carefree toddler become tearful and clingy is hard for any parent. I remember one incident where just this happened. It also involved a red, seemingly painful swelling. I rang the surgery and insisted on a morning appointment. I rang work and told them I wouldn’t be in as this was an emergency. I couldn’t bear to see him in pain. We rushed to the surgery.
Now, I feel it’s important to note, I often referred to our surgery as Lourdes as the child would always seem to make me a liar by miraculously fully recovering in the waiting room. This visit was no exception. The child who had been listless and pathetic an hour ago, was now delightfully rummaging around the germ soaked toy box singing to himself and occasionally staring down the other patients who were also waiting. Finally, we were called in. I explained to the doctor my son’s symptoms: redness, swelling, upset…
He inspected said child who was now full of the joys of spring and revelling in the attention of a very busy man with a stethoscope. And then the doctor started to talk to me: clarifying the details and nodding with sincere compassion at my earlier panic and fears. And then he explained the “illness”. Apparently, if my child ever requests his NHS notes, he will see that his mother did indeed take him to the doctors to have his first erection documented! Oh dear lord! I didn’t know they could do those things quite so early! The doc was so sweet as he tried tactfully to explain the workings of the male appendage in children. I was so embarrassed. Still am!! I think I lied to concerned work colleagues, telling them he needed antibiotics or something. In my defense, he seemed really upset about it and the hubster agreed in the earlier panicked phone call I made that an appointment was necessary.
So my advice on doctor’s visit’s is take them if you’re unsure! You really can’t do anything more embarrassing than that (and if you do, I’d like to hear the details in the comments please…)
So there you go. A what to do list, or maybe a not what to do list on parenting…how helpful am I?! I may do this again…what to do if you lose your child in an airport within 30 seconds of landing in another country; how to hold up airport security using a bag of 5ps that a grandparent secretly gave them; how to use your calves as brake pads when teaching a child how to ride a bike and why you should NEVER forget that you told your child last year, marbles were the eyes of children who didn’t go to sleep and saw Santa when making a shopping list of fun stocking filler ideas for this year…
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Disclaimer: No children were permanently harmed in the making of these parents. Heck, the only scar one kid has is from a marshmallow…beat that! The accomplishment, not the child obviously!
Also, my boys aren’t actually wild (the ride has been though..) They are a little feral occasionally maybe…but they do always shine!