There are a lot of kids around the country starting school soon. Mine are, including Jasper–the last of my six babies–who is heading off to Kindergarten. It really signifies the end of an era. The end of me being the mother of very little children. This is what it boils down to: I have had tiny kids by my side at home for sixteen years.
That is a long time to be watching PBS Kids and Nick Jr. We have seen lots of shows come and go (I still view Joe as a usurper. How could Blue give up so easily on Steve?)
That is about eight jillion frozen chicken nuggets heated in the microwave.
That is a lot of marker/lipstick/poop I’ve had to clean off the walls.
That is a lot of trips in the Target Limousine*:
When I think about it I get a little sad.
Only a little.
Because sixteen years is a long time to be doing anything.
Especially doing the baby/toddler/preschooler thing. I have to say I’ve gotten pretty good at it, though. These are the things I’ve learned that are most important:
–The sooner you give a child a band-aid, the sooner he’ll shut up.
–Diapers are a million times easier than potty-training. Only insane first-time parents try to potty-train an 18-month-old. People love to act like potty-training is some sort of sign that they are great parents. It’s not.
–Never let a child say rude things to you, the parent. Ever. You need to nip that sass in the bud. And saying she doesn’t like the food you made is the ultimate rudest thing there is. I tell my kids, “You can think whatever you like but you may not tell me you hate your dinner”. If your kids don’t respect their mother, they aren’t going to respect anyone.
–Let consequences be the teacher. This is so hard but so easy. “You don’t want to wear a coat outside, kiddo? Fine. Freeze your butt off.” Guess what happens next time you tell her to put her coat on? She’ll do it.
–Showers are a billion times easier than baths. The splashing is completely contained. You can also sit on the bathroom floor using your laptop without worrying that somebody is going to drown. Plus baths are kind of gross. As my kids call it, “sitting in bum water”.
–There is no need for babies to read. Now if there were someone who could figure out how to get babies to scrub the bathroom, then I might get on board.
–Telling kids you can’t afford something is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s going to teach them that they can’t have whatever they want. It’s also the ultimate argument-ender:
Child: “Mommy, please can I get this [insert name of weird plastic animal with oversized head]. Please, please, pleeeeease???”
Mom: “No. If we buy it we won’t have money for bread. Although I’m sure zhu-zhu pets taste very good covered in peanut butter.”
–Start as you mean to go on. Which means, don’t do something that you can’t imagine doing indefinitely. Motherhood is a constant struggle between doing what is easiest and doing what is harder but better in the long run. Yes, it’s easy in the middle of the night to let your toddler climb in bed with you. Way easier than walking her back to her own bed. But at some point you’re going to want that child to sleep in her own bed every night. And that’s a lot more difficult when you’ve got a bratty seven-year old. So before you give in to your child, think “do I want this to become a habit?”. If the answer is no, then don’t do it. It can be anything from driving your baby around so she’ll fall asleep, to ironing your son’s clothes every day so they’ll be warm when he puts them on (yes, I actually had a friend who did this).
–Kids don’t have an off-switch. Believe me, I’ve checked. For the basic reason that if they did, parents would only turn them on for about 20 minutes a day.
–If a children’s book has lots of words, feel free to read only the first and last sentence on each page.
–The more kids you have, the less you care about a diaper bag. Eventually you’ll just toss a couple of diapers and some wipes in the car and call it good.
–Don’t cheap out on photographs. Get yourself a nice camera or pay for professional pictures. By the time your kids are in school, photographs and a few crayon drawings are the only evidence you’ll have that this sweaty, tall boy who shaves used to be a sweet, tiny baby.
–Little kids and cupcakes do not play well together. Kids will lick off the frosting, take two bites and smash the rest into a gigantic mess of sticky crumbs. Do everybody a favor and pass out some Oatmeal Cream Pies instead. Not as festive but who can say no to Little Debbie?
There you go. Sixteen years of experience in one blog post!
*For the love of everything sacred, do not use these carts for your one child. Because some poor, downtrodden mother is going to stagger into SuperTarget with her 2 little kids and a baby and will have to try to cram them all in a regular shopping cart. Which means there will be no room for the two cases of diapers, let alone groceries. And if she sees you with your singleton hogging the very last big shopping buggy, she will want to run you over. All because you couldn’t say no to your 3-year-old and tell him that the reason there are seats for three people is because that’s who gets to use them.
35 thoughts on “So you’re stuck at home with a baby/toddler/preschooler, huh?”
Congratulations on reaching such a milestone! I have two comments for you. First, I curse that Target monstrosity cart too. But I know the day my daughter doesn't want to ride in it, I'll shed a tear. And second, I completely agree that Joe is a fraud and I want Steve back. It's to the point I turn off Blue's when the impostor is on. Really glad to hear it's not just me on that one.
This post is perfect for me. My 1st goes off to 1st grade on Tuesday and I will have my 1 year old and 3 year old all day.
And is it bad that my 3 year old isn't potty trained yet? After telling a few mom's that I am planning on doing that once Big Brother goes to school, a few have told me to just wait until he is 4.
Whitney, I usually space it until preschool is about a week away from starting and then I completely panic and start potty training THAT DAY. And then pray that he doesn't have to poop at school so my cover is completely blown.
whitney, just wait till van wants to go. before that it is useless to even try. if they aren't motivated to use the toilet then they aren't gonna use it and you will just become completely frustrated
and this post was awesome! I think diaper bags are useless. i also think burp cloths are useless. just use a blanket,pant leg, whatever. there is no need to carry your whole house in a bag just because you have a stinkin baby.
Loved this! Especially the bit about the shopping cart. I hate having to cram in groceries around my kids and then see ONE child in the big room "limo" cart.
This is a great post! I love it! I am looking forward to having the bitty one in kindergarten. This is the last year of preschool. I want my freedom from kids! Atleast for a bit. I will probably run around like a crazy woman when she starts and after 2 weeks want her back home. I hate those limo carts. They are so hard to push. I really hate the car carts more though. Pushing around princess in one of those while she kicks back and watches TV is so unfair! Why can't they make them for big people with a long grabber for those hard to reach items? Now that I could do!
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i was laughing out loud at your advice! all so true and so hard to learn sometimes. i don't know why i didn't figure out the bandaid thing sooner??? who cares if they aren't bleeding? also, the part about doing what is harder and better is so true. i always tell myself that if i can't do the hard thing now, how will i do the millions of other hard things that will for sure come my way during the next 16 ish years. great post!
Where's your tip on stopping them from growing up so fast?
Fabulous post, Jennie. You are the EARHTMOTHER!
Oh my my this post made me laugh and sniffle. 🙂 Great post and GREAT tips and advice. I think I may link one of my posts to yours on this subject 🙂 God bless!
Jenny – I love you more today than I ever have! Enjoy your freedom.
Amen to everything!
Enjoy your new reality.
I completely admire your ability to raise 6 amazing children and that you still have your sanity! I love your tips and experienced expertise. I'll be lucky if my 16 year old gratuates from high school at 18. She may have to go the GED route or go another year if they allow that! I love your parenting style. I think I just need to see more of the humor in life!
I so needed this post today Jennie. I love reading all your parenting stuff. I can't wait to read all the great things you get to do while the munchkins are gone. It seriously feels like that day will never come but I know it will all to fast. Wish you were closer and we could "SamPan" it. kidless ofcourse
I'm so glad I'm not the only one who thinks that baths are gross. 🙂
LOVE this! I just dropped off my oldest at 1st grade this morning. I alternately cried and cheered. I do miss her, but partially that's because now I'm stuck at home with the 2-year-old all day long all by myself! Ack.
Wonderful words of wisdom!
Sometimes the mommies pushing around the singles in the big ol' Target limos are simply clueless. Take me for example. I've been pushing my only child around in one of 'em for nigh on 5 years, all the while thinking, "Wow, these are pretty cool, with the neato seatbelts on the back 'n' such." (Plus Princess does get such a kick.) Didn't enter my pretty little noggin until today that (d'oh) they're for families with LOTS of kids. Had no idea I'd been irking the moms of multiples for so long. Sigh. Maybe I need to take a multivitamin.
Perfect, Miss Jennie!
I don't know you, but that was awesome. Lots of advice here I will use. From one mom to another (my oldest starts kindergarten this week), thanks!! 🙂
Last fall, when my youngest started kindergarten, I had to fight the urge to talk to the empty back seat of my car. I then realized that I had spent the last 16 years with a buddy (or two) at my side. Thanks for your advice–spot on! Good luck with this next adventure 🙂
And be sure to repeat this one tiny little phrase after me: (so as not to ruin your first 'alone' year in such a long time)
"I will not volunteer for anything this year."
Now go and be YOU!
Oh dea Jenny please write a parenting book for all of those people who don't get it! You have the best advice.
And congrats on your freedom! You have most definitely earned it, can't wait to see what you come up with.
Are you coming to the Creative Connection this year? Tracy and I are both on the fence about going…
First, I love this blog. Love your writing. Love this last post. And I only have one kiddo who is going into 5th grade 🙂 Still and all you are right on the money and your writing is fantastic. My sister introduced me to your blog, and I look forward to all of your posts. So thanks! 🙂
Great advice!!!! And holy moly CONGRATULATUIONS on 16 years and all of them surviving and being in school. Wow mama, you rock!!
Love these tips, I laughed and will be bookmarking them. haha!
This is my first visit to your blog, (Baby Making Machine recommended your blog) and WOW that was an awesome post! I am the mama of a 3 1/2 year old daughter, hoping to conceive baby number 2 anytime now. I LOVE reading your wisdom!!!
Congrats and You're too cool!!
Just discovered your blog…love it!!! This post made me laugh so hard! You are a speaker of brilliant truth. Thank you for reminding I'm not alone in all the "joys" of motherhood, every dirty/snotty/teary one!
One of the best posts I have ever read!!
I laughed so hard about the bum water that Big DAddy actually stopped playing online poker and made me read your post to him.
I just have to say, I HATE the Target limos. I much prefer the Macy's ones with the car/truck on the front of the cart. I don't know about your kids, but mine have never managed a trip through Target in one of those things without kicking each other (the way they have to arrange their legs is so awkward) and swinging off the bars and tying each other up in the straps. I am always glad when there are no more of those left at the front of the store. All the moms with one kid are welcome to them!
Oh-my-gosh! This was hysterical… I do most of those things already and I am the biological mother to 3 (Ages 10 boy, 5 girl, 4 girl) and a step-parent to 3 (ages 23 boy, 18 girl, 16 boy)…
I learned really quickly what we wanted and didn’t want and then my husband did it, Errrr! I didn’t want a sleeping child interrupting my sleep and daddy doesn’t care (he isn’t the one with little feet in his back, trying to kick you off the bed). Our youngest just became fully potty trained (she turned 4 in July) and our 5yr old is still in pull-ups overnight because momma refuses to interrupt sleep to take a crying child to the bathroom at 330am.
I so agree with you on not letting your child be rude to you because you are right they soon lose respect for their parents and then don’t show respect to others. Which is a big No-No in our house…
Thanks for sharing, looking forward to reading more of your posts 🙂
I sincerely hope for Mother Earth`s sake that you stop having children.
6 is more than enough. Use birth control and shut down that baby factory.
Birth control??? You mean I didn’t have to have this many kids? Now you tell me.
Babies are a blessing! I think if you wanted to have 10 kids, that wouldn’t be too much if that’s what you and your husband wanted! I’m the youngest of five and my mom wanted another! I have three and want another one so bad! I have baby fever!! I thought this comment was so rude so I just had to comment! Congratulations on raising six kids! You are one heck of a woman and momma!