This week I've been asked a few times about how many games I have on my cell phone for my daughter to play. The answer is one. That one is used for unforseen circumstances, traffic jams, long lines, or running into an old friend and spending too long chatting.
I am a mom, a blogger, a networker, and an adult. That means I am on my phone a lot. All day somedays. For phone calls, Facebook (pages and personal), texting (when you're this busy sometimes it's the only way to talk to friends). I use it to keep up with weather, Twitter, emails, blogs, and lots of other things. That could be a whole post on it's own!
I'll list some of the apps I use on my phone at the end, and follow with reveiws of the ones I use most in the Product Review section this week.
What I don't use my cell phone for is a babysitter, a toy, or a boredom solution. When I was a child we read books (actual paper ones) I played with dolls and stuffed bears, and I learned how to write on paper with a pencil. I dind't dres dolls on a cell phone, but on my bed, I didn't race cars on a Nintendo DS, and when I played Ping Pong it was on a table and not a TV. Sure, I have some of those now, but I earned them when I was all grown up with a job and had already developed life skills.
Children now need to learn about technology. They will need to use computers and tablets and cell phones. Here's something people forget though, they also need to know how to answer a landline instead of just text, they need to know how to sign their name and do math in their head. They must learn respect for other people's belongings, that what you have or others have isn't as important as who you are, the difference and balance between work and play, and that some things have their use and shouldn't be abused.
We all have opinions and theories. I don't judge those who let their kids play with their phones, they shouldn't judge me because I rarely do.
Here's what I DO have on my phone: grocery lists (currently comparing apps), contacts, FaceBook (now nicely integrated), calander (of course I've an organizer for back up), weather, a few pictures, 10 songs, FaceBook Pages, library card and e-reader app to match, Cineplex Scene, Horoscope (I have to have some fun!), Princess colour, Vlingo (voice activation for my whole phone, including text and email), Lemon Wallet (great to have all my cards contained), Weebly so I can blog from anywhere, ShopWise (coupons, flyers, sales...), and local hospital wait times and contact information for local services including such numbers as poison control. Most of what is on my phone is functional and useful, with just a little fun and distraction.
Fall is here!! I know because there are leaves everywhere, and they are so beautiful and crunchy sounding! This is my favorite time of year, and I'm going to take full advantage of it.
All of my favorite things come out in the fall. Sweaters and scarves, boots and coats. It's like welcoming back old friends I haven't seen in 5 months. The chill in the air is invigorating to me, I have more energy and more time, and I love to be outdoors. While summer is too hot and winter is very cold, this time of year is just right and there is so much to do.
Pumpkin patches, nature walks, rolling in leaves, puddle jumping, fresh air, and best of all, it's almost time to get the Christmas decorations out. I enjoy fake fluffy snow in my Christmas village almost as much as I like the real stuff outside. I can't wait to get out and enjoy everything!
The activity centers and places we go are getting ready for the season too. Displays change at the museums, libraries, and space centers. All the places we visit regularily will now have new things to look at and new activities to explore. It's time for leaf rubbings, colourful paintings, and more baking. Pumpkins are eveywhere, bringing colour with them, and new flavours surround us. Hot chocolate is about to become a favorite treat again, and my travel mugs for coffee and hot tea will be my most loved accessory for the next 6 or 7 months.
It's important that we enjoy the changes here, as this all means that winter is soon to follow, and then there will be more days we have to stay inside and fewer days I want to drive around. There will be cozy playdates and movie nights, popcorn and soup. For now, I'm going to enjoy this season and the joys it brings, and use the time to prepare for the next one
I adore all my time with my girl, but there is something about that last half hour before bed that makes me cringe. By the time I'm getting her ready for bed I wonder how I'm going to get through it this time. Expecially if we are late getting ready!
"I want a drink"
"Your water is right there"
"I don't want water, I want juice"
"It will taste bad, you just brushed your teeth"
"I want juice" after three or for times I usually cave, which I thought I would regret, but after "EWWWWWW I want water" the first time I decided it's worth it. Then I get a glass of watered down juice to end my night, I know she won't drink it.
Next we get to tackle the pajama problem. I allow her to pick her own pajamas because it's just easier, and since it's bedtime and we aren't parading around town, I dont' really care what she puts on. However, there is always one piece missing. I swear when I fold them I fold them together, literally, pants folded with the shirt folded over top, you can't pick up one without the other, but when it's time for bed somehow the shirt is missing or the pants went for a walk. It's almost as annoying and the hiding socks! My solution was nightgowns, but apparently they get tangled at night so they are only good sometimes...I don't know how to tell which times, but this conversation confuses me so I've stopped having it. I figure if the pajamas are that hard to sort out, just sleep in a pull up, because we all know that for most of the summer months somehow pajamas come off and end up halfway to the door anyway. I always manage to find something, but this is why we start the process earler then we should need too. Pajamas alone can be a 15 minute process :(
Then we get to the bedroom. It starts as either it's too bright in the summer, then when I close the blinds or when it's later in the fall, it's too dark. I adjust of course, try to make it right, but five minutes later it is the other way. If it was too bright then when I turn off the hall light it is too dark, so I plug in a nightlight, which is too close to the bed I guess because it's too bright again, so I move it but then it's too dark... Just go to bed!
Now I know that everyone will either know exactly what is coming next, or will find it greatly amusing, but her it is. The next sentence, which should be "I love you, good night" is almost garaunted to be "I'm hungry". I used to feed her snack right before we started this process, but I've found it more efficient to get her all ready, then provide a snack. I know it's after the teeth brushing and everything, but by this point I figure they're baby teeth, they'll fall out anyway, and asked my dentist if there are any possible snack options for which we won't need to brush again, as then we'd start over and it'd take another hour... Apparently cheese is the best thing to eat if you aren't going to brush your teeth again. I've also used Cheerios as they are very low sugar and dissolve well. I figure it's the best I can do until she outgrows this phase.
Finally she is washed, brushed, polished, dressed, full, and has water (I know she'll pee, but I'd rather use pull ups then ever deny her water, just my opinion), the light is either right or close enough, and at least one hour after we started (not including bath!) she is finally in her bed with a stuffy. Well, unless she needs a different stuffy, then add another 5-10 minutes to find the one she wants. By this time I am so exhausted I'm considering going to bed myself. Then there is the blowing of bad dreams out the window, tucking in child and teddy bear just right, at least twice, hugs, kisses, saying goodnight... I almost feel like it should be morning by now. Then, and I promise I'm not exaggerating, about 15 minutes after she falls asleep I miss her so much you'd think I hadn't just spent all day with her.
This might get me some negative feedback, which I usually try to avoid, but I'm going to say it anyway...
Being a single mom just is harder.
I don't say this to put down any moms in a working relationship, I know it is still very challenging to raise respectful and responsible children. I get it. I've both lived with a significant other to help me, and alone, and it's my experience that being alone just is harder. Yup, all you moms with travelling husbands who work out of town 3 months a week, you count too! However, the difference there is that often you have their support, even if it is long distance a lot, and financially it's a lot easier for you too, so it is just a little easier for you as well I think.
I've heard women say that it's harder to have a husband around because then you are looking after your children and your husband, and he counts as just another child in the grand scheme of caregiving. I'd like to mention here that the advantageous of having another active adult in the house outweigh an extra load of laundry when you already have 3 to do, or the cooking of an extra portion for supper. Here are some ways that he adds to your household: financially (sure, you may still work, but could you afford your house all alone?), emotionally (you can call him when it gets too much, or you know he'll come home on such and such day), it's a great play for the kids when they misbehave ("wait til your father gets home...), and in the grand plan of life, you are not standing alone facing it all.
I'm not going to enter into the world of bad marriages or relationships, they are a whole other topic and not useful at all. I acknowledge them, I know they exist, I know some guys just are not useful, but does he listen when you talk? Or send money home? Maybe he just doesn't know better...
The horrible thing is that I've seen a woman say her husband just won't watch the kids for a girls night out, but upon inquiring if she's explained how important it is or asked lately, I'm usually told no... This I don't understand. If you are in a loving relationship and they are his children, why are you afraid to ask for just one night? My solution, get a sitter while he's gone. This also works for when you just don't want to miss any days with him (I totally get that one!) All I'm saying is please don't diss your man to your friends if you haven't given him a chance to do it.
One of the worst parts of being a single mom is knowing that you will go to bed alone every night, with no one even to discuss your day with before you do, and you will wake up in the morning, alone, and do it all again. You make all the decisions, all the money, pay all the bills, do all the cleaning, all the cooking, and all the dicipline. It's a very daunting task and can feel like an endless line in front of you that you must forever walk carefully. If you miss one thing, then it's just not done, and by the time you sort it out you are behind on many other things. There is no one to remind you of everything, no one to split the chores with, and no one to hold your hand while you do it all. It's a lonely existance, and looking for someone to share your life with you is even harder. Trying to date creates time problems, babysitter problems, and guilt for leaving your child with someone else to spend time with a man.
All moms work hard. Much of the time though, it's just harder to be single.
It's not as bad as you think. I don't mean to give the children coffee, but I have decided to drink more coffee for the sake of the children.
"Mommy, you need to make a coffee"
"Why? Is mommy in that bad a mood?"
"You're just more fun when you have your coffee"
Of all the sacrifices I've made for my girl, this will be my favorite! I was going to cut down, I'm not even having a cup every day any more, but if this is what I need to do for her, then so be it :) I am wondering though, how bad do I have to be that she recommends my morning coffee? Now I feel pressured to have it becasue clearly it makes me a better parent, but I should be able to do that without it. Does it now count as an addiction? That would mean that I'm willing to feed my addiction to make my baby happy. A caffiene addiction is likely the most acceptable of them all, so maybe that's alright. Or I can find a way to be better without it...
By now we have all passed the first week of being back in school, and now we are faced with a new set of challenges. How do we keep the excitement of school for them, balance the schedules, and stay involved with everything. The first week or so is hectic, but the following months are not only just as bad, but sometimes get even worse.
Once kids are settled in and get to know each other, there will be arguments with friends. This is a great learning opportunity for children as they need to learn how to overcome conflict now so they don't get bogged down in it later, but its' so hard to have your child come home after having an argument with a friend. I remind her that sometimes she doesn't always like what mommy says, but we still love each other no matter what, and that she can still be friends with someone who did something she didn't like. If it gets bad enough or is continual it may be necessary to get the other parent or the teacher involved in finding a solution, but at a young age it usually just works itself out. That's where these short attention spans become useful!
I can no longer use the first day of school as an excuse for being too busy to do other things. It's not anynore, so clearly I must now have a wide open schedule. Maybe this will be true when she is old enough to be in school all day every day, but that currenly isn't the case, and I still need to transport her to and from, as well as extracurriculars, plus any volunteering I do in the class, and then al the normal household things. Sure, it's not the worst balancing act as I only have one so far, but it isn't as easy as letting her sleep in all summer so I can do my chores :)
As the school year goes, there will always be just one more thing to become involved in. Classrooms need help and support sometimes, fieldtrips seem to multiply after Christmas (I almost forgot how much work Christmas is too!) and some activity somewhere is always fundraising. I also notice that somehow my friends with older children now have more spare time then they did all summer, so I can finally plan some coffee dates and afternoon movies, just as long as I can fit them in!
You also enter the time where all the new clothes have been worn, and now they aren't new anymore. Everyone in the class has seen them already so it's harder to agree on an outfit, and I am NOT buying a new outfit for every day of the year. I like to think picking it out the night before is more efficient, but it never holds in the morning so I've given up.
School also encourages independance, which is usually a great thing, until I need cooperation and agreement and get "I just don't like it that way" The more I teach her to be independant the more I wonder if it really is easier or if I'm just making my own life more difficult. Then she packs her own snack for school and I know that it's going to be very helpful.
Drama isn't only with the children either. As the moms get to know each other they go through the same growth steps and making friends as the kids do, but there is no one to regulate those disagreeements or to help you choose which of the moms is the most compatable friend for you. We are all thrown into a group with people from so many different walks of life and lifestyles and we need to find where we fit in the group, in some cases you will need ot work with these people for 12 years of school, so it's best to get along.
I keep telling myself that the faster I get into a routine the easier it will be to get through the year, but finding that routine is taking some time. Maybe I just need a bigger coffee and a longer playdate...
It has been a super busy start to the year! School, activities, and everything else we need to do. I have therefore declared to day a pajama day!! I usually have them with my daughter, but she is off for the day having adventures with other lucky members of the family, and so I am having my own jammy day all by myself.
New fuzzy jammy pants, CHECK
Ally McBeal series, CHECK
Frozen Pizza, CHECK
Chocolate Ice Cream, CHECK
I think this could be just the recharge day I need!! I do like a show that helps me think and grow, and I especially like the no cleaning theme for today. Everyone wears done a bit not matter what they think about it, and no one can be expected to keep up a busy pace forever, but that is exactly what this world expects of them. W all need a pajama day sometime!
Clearly it's going to be one of those days. Evidently the only way things will get done is if I do them properly first and wait for someone to come along and change it, which of course means I need to do it again. Count to 10 and start again.
Try to cuddle a child and get the brush off, everyone is busy, but set foot in the kitchen and I'm the most popular person ever! Count to 10 and start again! (Perhaps a hug during that 10 count will serve a dual purpose!)
Put away the laundry and find it on the floor 5 mins later "I was getting dressed all by myself!" count to 10 and start again...
Sure, they are always trying to help, but sometimes it's not very helpful. I don't want to get frustrated and discourage people from helping, so I start counting and remember how it looks to them. They don't know why I'm mad there are clothes everywhere, they want me to be proud because I didn't have to dress everyone myself. Well, I am proud, I would just like it if there was less clean up for me afterwards...
What good does it do to count to ten? It allows space between you and the frustration, and allows you to take a breath and refocus. This is simply from my own experience of course, but I've found that by counting to ten the surprise of the occurance has worn off and I can then find a solution, or at the very least the humor in it. After a nice count up to 10 the nail polish up her arm seems more amusing then embarassing or difficult to remove. It helps her as well.
Problems learning to tie a show? Don't yell at mommy, just count to ten and try again. Things are hard to learn, and once a child is frustrated it gets harder for them to complete a task. By teaching them to count to ten before they act they will learn to consider what they say or do before they say it or do it. This could help with anger, frustration, hurt feelings, and will later help them interact with others in a kinder and more considerate way. Even learning to count to three before saying something hurtful or in anger can make a difference.
There will always be annoying things in life, what matters is not how many things bother us in a day, but how we deal with them all and keep them from getting out of control. Count to 10, and start again.
I've posted before about passing our own fears on to our child, and how I try not to pass on irrational fears or make her afreaid of things she shouldn't be afraid of. There are things that children should be scared of though, and fair or not, I have started using it to my advantage, as there are times when nothing else sems to work, or when I need her to know there is danger.
Yup, my daughter is scared to run into the road because cars are big and she is small, and I encourage a healthy level of fear of moving vehicles and the lack of safety to be found in the road. She should be scared of strangers, not to the point of not speaking to the nurse at the doctors office, but enough not to talk to random strangers in the grocery store or to wander away with them. It's normal to be afraid of the open oven, growling dogs, and fires.
Whatever your beliefs it is true that people have basic fears in order to keep us safe. Whether we are programmed by God, mother nature, or simple survival of the fittest changes, fear is how people survive. Over coming fears is a part of life and helps us grow and experience things we otherwise would avaid, but those fears in their most basic form are meant to be helpful and productive for people. If we had no fears then certainly people would drive too fast with no seatbelts, endangering both themselves and others, and jump off of bridges with no bungee cord, or run around doing any number of unsafe things. Sure, there will always be people who do things we deem unsafe, but there are safety measures in place to help save the majority of people to avoid danger. Cars have seatbelts, towns have fire halls, and people wear safety gear. These measures have been put in place because we are afreaid of what can happen if we dont' use them, and rightfully so. These items have saved lives over and over again.
It is normal for your child to be afraid of things that are unknown and new, and of things that have hurt them before. These are reactions they are supposed to have, iti s the worlds way of keeping them alive and safe. As long as you can pinpoint the good fear (standing on a train track with a train coming) from an unproductive fear (worms on the sidewalk) and help them learn to distinguish between them and overcome the ones they should then fear should not overcome their lives and they shall grow to make their own choices and decisions based upon fact rather then straight fear.
Watching children grow is an experience that not everyone gets to enjoy, and I try to remind myself every day how blesed I am. There are things that I think I will never want to go through again, and things that I think I won't ever miss, but I now know that one day, I will miss the strangest things...
I will miss her not wanting me to leave. I know that when I try to go somewhere there will be pouting and maybe even tears. It makes it harder to leave and more difficult to get things done, but one day she won't want to be near me and she will be running for that door to her friends every chance she gets. Only for a little while will she still want to be with me all day every day, and I must cherise that love and attachment before it's gone.
I will miss cooking all those meals. It's hard to imagine now, but one day I won't need to cook 4 meals a day and provide snacks. Right now it's a novelty to see her ask for something specific then proceed to go get it herself, but I know it's just a matter of time before I have less control over what she eats and can only hope I instilled good habits when I had time, and that I will be cooking supper for just myself more and more as she is with friends and at sleepovers. There's something lonely about cooking a meal for just one or two people...
I will miss all those little socks in the laundry. Sure they get lost, or show up in the towels a week later, or all over the house somehow, but one day those tiny little socks will be gone and I'll be washing and seperating some that look a lot like my own. Besides being a logistic nightmare, it will also be a huge reminder of what I'm missing out on and how fast the time has gone.
"Mooooommmmyyyy" This is the one I might miss the most. It means I'm needed and important and loved. I know that even when it stops I'll still be loved and needed, just not as much. This word can be a horrible sound when there is pain behind it, or fear, or a wonderful sound when it's time to celebrate a win or time of growth. Either way, one day she will take care of her own little booboos and scratches, and she will tell her friends of her wins before I hear about them. That will mean that I've raised her well and created independance, but I'll sure miss being the automatic go to all the time!
Fingerprints on my windows remind me of the love in my home. If there was no love, she would not be brave enough to leave said fingerprints all over my home... The flip side is she has learned how to wash windows at a young age, so I'm not always the only person to wash them back off. The more she grows the fewer prints I'll find, and they will be more and more like my own and less adorable.
Preportioned snack foods. Sure, this is a little ridiculous and maybe even silly, but when I have to stop buying snacks for lunches and to toss in my purse or bag, I will know a part of my life is over. There's something oddly touching about opening my purse for my keys and finding a Dora themed cereal bar or a tiny box of raisins. Plus, when I don't need to buy them or carry them for her anymore, how will I supply and hide my own snacking?
Parks, bike rides, and museums are all things that have become a part of daily life. I need to get her out and exercise, and I know when it stops, when she can go on her own, I will very likely gain a little extra weight...Or I'll need to find a gym! I love museums and science centres and zoos, and once my baby is old enough to not go anymore, or to go without me, I will miss going to them even though it feels like so much work and inconvenient to go to them now.
Crazy birthday parties! They are so busy, and never stay organized, and there's little people everywhere. It's crazy and loud and I dread them and look for ways to make the different and quiet or skip them all together, but I know when they stop, a little part of me will miss them.
Sometimes, we just need to remember what's important, and that the things that make us the most crazy now are the things we will one day miss.