Traveling with small kids

Traveling with small children is no small feet. I was once told that it required “Pentagon Style Training”. True fact. You can make a list the length of a toilet paper role. YOU WILL STILL FORGET SOMETHING! But it is not impossible. I swear the big stressor is all the damn advice that you get from anyone that hears you are taking the kids somewhere. Personally, after the first small trip that was just several hours away and getting “advice” was enough for me to stop telling people at all.

So since I hated people giving me advice, I won’t give you advice, just a list of things that worked well for me. Pick and choose what you like or breeze on by!

  • Aim for a list but be real. Start with the important stuff. The sucky blankets, the breast milk, etc. Anything else that you forget you can most likely buy. Find out what they have where you are going as traveling with kids is hard enough so the less you have to pack the better!
  • Get real. And this is where I will get a shit tonne of slack. Travel smart. Stressed out kids and parents is not fun. If you know that you have a kid, or kids that do not travel well, what is wrong with giving them a dose of Gravol before driving. The only harm is if you are giving it to a child too young, which of course makes you a crappy parent. Most young children will not tell you why they are miserable until that moment when that light bulb shines brightly over your head and you go “shit, here comes the barf!”. Who has not gotten car sick! Kids are excited to go to a new place but are hoping for a time machine. Keep in mind that they can’t see the horizon either which helps us not feel sick to our stomachs.
  • Our parents will tell you that we were lucky to have coloring books and crayons and we were fine. Bull shit. They forget that we didn’t have to wear 5 point harnessed seats that don’t let a kid move much and that we were allowed to climb around the car and if you were that really cool family, you got to sit back wards and spend hours flipping the bird or making fun of the person behind you. Sure, now our kids have tv’s and laptops-which might work–for OLDER kids. For the younger ones, your lucky, and I mean lucky to get them to agree on 1 movie and watch it the whole time. So if you have to, recline the seats. Start the car in the middle of the night, and put them in while the car in comfy and warm. Bring a change of clothes for when you get to your destination so that you can change them to stop to eat-or better yet, DRIVE-Thru! We have lived off coffee for months or years now, isn’t a peaceful ride worth it! Or have one of you sleep and switch of when you get there.
  • Plane travel. Now this is an even bigger pain in the ass then car travel, especially if you have to deal with border crossing so you are 2 hours ahead of the actual departure time. If your kid is a bit older. Practice plan travel. As dumb as this sounds, we set up chairs to look like a few rows and did practice sessions. We explained the take off and turbulence. If they know what to expect, there are more likely to not be freaked. If you are a shitty flyer-take your meds but put a smile on your face and go for an Emmy. If they are too young for that one, take a page from the people that have to fly regularly with kids in the North. They commonly medicated the kids! Again-if they are of age! And no this does not mean give them 5 different kinds-don’t be an asshole parent. Believe it or not, doctors have kids too and will tell you what you can give.

Most importantly! If you do get unsolicited advice. Be nice once, as in “Thank you, I will think about it”. Second time they try pull the “stinky diaper, I am late, it’s nap time” whatever you can and walk away. Unless this person provides free babysitting, don’t feel bad wasting your time to listen to 30 minutes of crap you know is crap!

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The stay at home vs. working mom debate (my version)

I see mom’s going at each other on message boards with clear opinions that there is a right and a wrong answer to this. I don’t get it myself. Both can provide great learning lessons for your kids, just differently. But they sure as hell can send the same message if you are a crappy parent.

If you are a stay at home mom that has an ass groove on the couch-your a crappy parenting. If you are a working mom that is the first to drop the kids off at opening and last to pick up (and not because of financial hardship)-your a crappy parent.

And here I go with yet another list. I really should start call them “how to not be an asshole lists”. I used to think that common sense wasn’t needed for parenting–apparently not so much!

If you are a working mom:

  • If you run into a mother who is covered in peanut butter and her hair is a mess and she is wearing shorts in the winter–don’t chirp to the other well dressed mom’s about the way she looks. You don’t know the what happened that morning and I bet if there was a surprise visit to you on the weekend, you aren’t all modelling material.
  • Do not commit to activities on the PTA that you know you will be unable to do and pass it off at the last minute. It doesn’t impress anyone. (PTA is a whole other blog!)
  • Yes you maybe in a hurry to get to work, however that doesn’t mean you get to cut people off in the parking lot.

If you are a stay at home mom:

  • Don’t assume that well dressed mom you run into at school spent 2 hours getting ready. I am guessing she has only shaved the parts that you can see, that dry shampoo is her friend, and she has to double check in the mirror after speed dressing just before leaving that she matches and that she doesn’t have peanut butter on her either!
  • That working moms don’t care about their kids as much as you. Maybe they didn’t have a choice to not work, or maybe they want to send a message that you can have a career and a family-they just balance it out differently.
  • Although you may not be on a strict morning clock to check in, that doesn’t mean that you get to hold up the teacher for trivial things. Please be mindful that we all get a turn and if you have the option of talking at a different time and see an upset parent waiting patiently that you know needs to go to work, please be courteous- I am sure that parent will be over the moon grateful to you!

 

The First Year

The best advice I ever got, “If you aren’t holding your head in your hands crying in the first month or two, thinking that this might not have been the best decision you ever made, than you aren’t doing it right!”. I never full understood this until that moment.

I knew hard. I had kids resuscitated, been told the might die or loose their bowels at 6 days old. I learned how to startle one if they had a “Brady” (fancy term for a slow heart beat). One who couldn’t hold food down and held the other while he had a central line put into his leg. Did I mention that I almost bit the dust after giving birth and had an emergency C-section and started to learn to care for them less than 20 hours later?was ready to get out of the hospital and care for them on my own. I had this parenting thing down….until that damn moment.

I can’t say the exact day that shit hit the fan. But I will always remember the phone call to that same dear friend. I was bawling my eyes out on the phone in the bath tub telling her that I was a horrible mother and that my children should be taken away from me(This is when you know you have a keeper of a friend). She casually asked me where the kids were (always a good idea to do the safety check that someone hadn’t really lost their shit!). My kids where fine and with my husband. Me, I was a totally F#%king mess! I needed to put the kids on formula. Making formula while sleep deprived might as well had been he equivalent to asking me to decipher hieroglyphics. I was so tired that I failed to notice that they have pre-made formula! So after a nice soak, and lot’s of reassurance, life went on.

It is normal to freak out. Kids don’t have manuals. You make mistakes. Own them!

Here are my rants for the first year:

  1. The breast vs. formula debate. My opinion-Personal Choice! If you are a responsible parent, you have already read all the material on it. The reality is that sometimes you can’t breast feed and some people choose not too. As long as you are not diluting the formula because you had kids for a pay cheque-IT’S NOT MY BUSINESS!
  2. Paper diaper vs. cloth. I did cloth diapers. It was easy. BUT it was MY CHOICE. As long as you truly do not believe that a 12 hour diaper means leave your child in it for 12 hours because you are too  lazy, or don’t care to change them-It’s not my business!
  3. Soothers-Yup I did the soother (pacifier) thing. One liked it, the other didn’t. I weaned the one that did when she was ready. As long as you are not a cheap ass parent who uses dollar store ones and allows the kids to keep it while it is cracked and unsafe, or until they are 4-It’s not my business!
  4. A messy house. And by messy I mean filthy! There is no excuse why you can not clean, and cook and care for your children. I have seen some nasty homes that I wouldn’t allow my cat in, let alone a kid. We all have days that go wrong, but seriously, if you have a bottle of formula that is growing bacteria in it, get off your ass and clean your house!
  5. Baby food. I made all of my own baby food except for when we travelled. It takes no time at all and you do not have to be a chef to do it. To this day I hear that I was a super mom. Not true. After we got through the testing for allergies stage, it’s pretty simple to blend your meals and if you want, add your own heat (pepper) later. So if you are the parent that buys baby food-stop bitching about the price and posting pictures on Face Book about mildew in food pouches and blend the food.
  6. Why do people buy strollers if they are too lazy to take their kids out? In some countries, children are bundled up and left outside for fresh air in the winter. Fresh air is good for children and for you. Take your fancy stroller, that was probably bought at for you at your shower, and USE IT!
  7. If you are lucky and have a lot of support. DO NOT tell parents who do not, how important date night is! Or how important a week away is to help your marriage. Good for you that you have that support, but truly most people don’t or choose to be with their kids. THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK!
  8. The crib. A crib is for sleeping. It is not a device to contain your child because you don’t want to be a parent!
  9. Television and technology. I had the T.V. on for background noise. It is NOT a babysitter! Not saying we all haven’t been sick or had a bad day and let them watch it for longer than normal, but seriously-if your kid sits in front of it all day long you need to ask yourself WHY?!

Ughhh, that feels so much better. I am sure I am going to make a lot of friends!

Preemies~and the NICU

Almost 7 years ago I had preemies. It is a very scary experience. It is something you will never forget, and until you have been through this trench PLEASE do not say you understand when someone tells you!

Mine were born 2 months early. They were the “big kids” in the NICU. When they were born I heard so much shit out of people’s mouths;

  • It’s normal for twins to be early (somewhat true, but not 2 months early!)
  • They are fine because of their weight-no moron. I was a gestational diabetic which is why they are so big-it really doesn’t help things like lung development!
  • Why can’t we visit them? Neo-Natal Intensive Care-self explanatory to me.
  • While the kids are in the hospital, why don’t you take some time to yourself and rest. Really? Please tell me you don’t have kids!

The NICU is something that you can never prepare for. Hearing that first cry gives you a false sense that things are fine. It doesn’t prepare you for finding out your child or children are being resuscitated. That they are on ventilators. Or that they have tubes everywhere and have machines all around them. And that you might not get to hold them! But you suck it up, ask the nurses lot’s of questions and you learn how to care for such small people.

What it also doesn’t prepare you for is some of the trash you see. Babies that never have a parent come to visit. Or parents that visit after a night out that can’t even be bothered to wash their hands before touching their child, which potentially gives them an infection and can spread through the NICU in a day.~Dear douchbags, thank you for giving my kids an infection that could have killed them. It was a fun 10 days on the strongest antibiotics possible and watching them try to cry because they could not have food for 5 of those days!

To this day, I still don’t understand why Children Services doesn’t have an office on the delivery floor. When I would go down to the cafeteria, I would see parents from the “regular” delivery wing, leave the child in the room to go for a smoke with nurses chasing them asking them what they were doing. Or hear-“Why do I need a car seat”?. These are the people (they do not deserve the title of parents) that make me angry. Children don’t come with manuals, but you sure as hell can pick up a book, burn up google researching, ask good parents, babysit- but do something! For all of the people who pray, beg, spend their life savings for the chance to have a child, please try or don’t have children. They are not tickets to get government money. They are not things that keep a family together or make someone love you. It is a CHOICE to be a parent.

Infertility-It’s not a bad word, but please don’t be ignorant!

Let’s say it all together

INFERTILITY,INFERTILITY, INFERTILITY!

Ok, are we all a bit more comfortable with the word? It happens. Some of us are lucky and our attempts at getting pregnant happen. Some of us are not so lucky and never do. We may decide on adoption, surrogate or using another persons sperm or eggs. We may even decide to grieve and move in a different direction. It is a personal choice and we don’t need your opinion, especially if you have never suffered from infertility.

Great rule of thumb during the child-bearing years, NEVER assume anyone is pregnant unless they tell you. Please don’t be that fucking idiot that goes around congratulating people or rubbing a belly!

If you do find out that some one is struggling with it, ask them how you can help. Do they need to talk, do they need a shoulder to cry on or just a hug. Please don’t treat them like they have the plague. We still like to come to your children’s parties because that gives us joy and hope.

If we decline an invitation, it may not be why you think. We may have recently found out that a round of treatments failed, or we may be having side effects from them. Again don’t ASSUME.

You can talk to use about your family. You can show us your kid’s school pictures.

Ultimate List of “Advice” I have been given during the 6 years it took us: (Please Don’t Be One of These Assholes)

  • Go on a vacation to somewhere warm and relaxing!~Let’s think about this for a moment. If this was true, why are all the hotels at these resorts not booked? It sure would be a hell of a lot cheaper than the cost of fertility treatments. Unless of course you like to give yourself shots, take meds that make you feel crazy and my personal favorite, all the probes and hands up your Vag!
  • I heard from a friend who heard from their cousin that if you drink pineapple juice or used egg whites “up there” it helps the egg stick.~My first thought was-Who tried this? Was this person standing in their fridge one day and thought this was a good idea? If so should this person really be recreating?
    You are playing God~Here is where I put this argument for the person. If God doesn’t want it to work, it won’t work.
  • Do you know what you are doing?~This was one of my favorites. If the average age is 17 that a young girl is having sex and I am 35 at the time, chances are I know my way around and probably had some restless nights in my teens shitting my pants because I couldn’t remember if I took my birth control or not!
    It took me 6 months to get pregnant,I totally understand!~No sweetheart you don’t. You where probably the one who failed sex-ed in PE. If you just came off a patch, the pill or a IUD-guess what–It’s still in your system you idiot!
  • I went to my doctor and told them it has been 2 years of trying so I could get clomid because I really want multiplies, they are soo cute~I actually thought this was a joke until I found out that people buy and sell these meds on-line for this purpose~Cyber patrol anyone?
  • I am thinking of selling my eggs for cash, you have frozen embryos, why don’t you sell them-they go for around $300,000, then you can go adopt like Madonna or Angelina~That one required me to leave before a physical altercation.

So PLEASE if all else fails, keep your mouth shut and ask someone with a brain if you are put in this situation. And if you are the idiot selling meds and your body parts google KARMA and ETHICS!

Real Parents Aren’t Perfect!

I just went down into my basement looking for, god only knows what, as since I have had my kids I seem to need a note to go from point A to point B and bring what I was looking for back. I also seem to need a note for when I get back with the item to tell my what the hell I needed it for. But I digress.

So back to my basement and some back story. We have a large basement, about 1600 sq. ft. In our infinite wisdom, we decided to make it kid friendly when the kids were about 3. Guess what-kids don’t really like basements!  No matter how we tempted them down there it wasn’t happening. So I gave up. Not worth the fight. At age 6 we thought, “Hey. they are getting older, lets pimp it out and make it a place they want to be in”. $1300 dollars in Ikea, paint and a whole lot of swearing and we make this awesome play room….guess what? Kids don’t like basements.

So it has become my mission to take back my upper level and get them into the play room. I had it beautifully set up, stations everywhere. A child’s dream. I even sorted the little Barbie Clothes, Shopkins and the dreaded damn Lego.

Keep in mind that my husband works about 60 hours a week, I work about 45 and the kids are in extra curricular activities-basically we are your average family that goes mock 4. What I am getting at here is, apparently that if Mom isn’t the supervisor, the definition of clean looks like the above picture! And that is just one area.

Guess what-I am not perfect.

We have a junk drawer and apparently now a basement that looks like Toys R Us threw up in. What I would love to do is take a shovel and throw it all out, but let’s get real, there is only so much I can sneak out and donate before they catch on. So on a free day we will go back down to the basement and clean it. But if you came over and saw it, I don’t care. It isn’t something that makes me ashamed. I would rather create memories for them of time together.

My upper level is kept clean. The 6 year olds do chores and are even capable of starting their own laundry, so for the haters-bite me! The basement will get clean—eventually. In a fast paced world of two working families and an education system that is broken,, which means I get to help teach topics—-whole other rant—, it will get done, there will be other days. But for now, I suggest that if you need to use or get anything from my basement, wear work boots and keep your opinions to yourself. Unless of course you have unlimited free time and feel like cleaning it up!