Managing Your Time

Why the “big things” can wait

Does it ever seem like you wake up in the morning and you’re suddenly off on a marathon race that lasts all day long? All week long?

As a stay-at-home mom to a toddler and a preschooler, my days are filled with small, tedious tasks. It’s a constant cycle of make breakfast, pack lunch, clean up kids, dress kids, school drop-off, groceries, tot classes, errands, oops what’s for dinner, baths, mommy mommy mommy mommy, bedtime kisses, and then collapsing on the couch.

I’m often frustrated that I never get ahead in any of the big things I’d like to do. Do you ever feel that way, too?

Yet, this collection of little things that make up my day really is the big thing – at least for now.

As moms, we are the world to our children. Sometimes, I lose sight of that as I fret about yet another day that has slipped by with nothing accomplished.

I suppose I did accomplish something today. I sat down with my children to watch a video. Yes, we were staring at a screen, but we were doing it together. We were cuddled up and basking in that good feeling of just being with one another.

Before that, both my kids were crying about something or other, tired from another long Monday – same as me. I managed to get something in a pot for dinner and then just sat with them.

That’s really something. Whether it’s five minutes in the morning or thirty minutes after preschool, those times where I’m doing nothing but being with my kids make all the difference in my day. And it makes a big difference to them, too.

So for now, I’m happy with the mundane, because I’ve also got the extraordinary.

I just have to remind myself to see it and enjoy it now while it’s mine.

Soon enough my little boys will be no longer calling for mommy. And I’ll have all the time I need to do the “big” things.

Preschooler Pandemonium

What those other moms really think of you…

I have a friend who always seems concerned about what others think of her as a parent. She worries what people think of how her daughter is dressed, what she says, the lunch she sends with her to preschool, and so on.

I only had a few moments of “what must they think?” in my parenting life up until a year or two ago.

For instance, there was a mom I really wanted to get to know better but every time she brought her child over for a play date, my son would do something like throw up or pee on the floor. I know she thought we were loony, though my son was perfectly behaved 95% of the time when she wasn’t around. Did your child ever do weird things in front of one particular person?

Now, I think I finally understand how moms can fret about what others must think. Kids will always have their moments – and it seems they happen in front of those other moms whose children are so well behaved.

But know this: those moms also have trying moments. You might be seeing their kids at their best, but there is no mom on this earth who doesn’t want to pull her hair out over her kids at least five times in a week.

And if they don’t feel that way now, they should know it’s coming down the road. I know, because my son was one of those who shamed others with his seemingly impeccable manners and calm demeanor – until he turned three.

Certainly, children are a reflection of their parents and home life. But should we really get wrapped up in what other moms think when they witness a meltdown at the end of a play date? Or when your kid tells a stranger they’re fat?

Kids are going to do and say embarrassing things, probably for the rest of their lives, I figure. I am going to try to give less thought to what others are thinking of me and my family while we’re doing our best to wade through the trying moments of parenting. After all, that other mom has her own embarrassing moments to contend with, right?

As I write this it’s sounding quite noble and perhaps a tad unrealistic.

Tell me, how much do you worry what others think of you and your children?

Healthy Family & Home

Treating ear infections – keeping a warm cloth on a wiggly child’s ear

When I was in elementary school, we lined our mittens up on the radiators in the classroom to dry them after a cold and snowy recess. If any of us developed an earache, our teacher would tell us to grab a hot mitten from the radiator and hold it to the ear.

If you don’t have a hot mitten nearby, I’ve got a nifty trick you can try using one of our earflap hats (also called an aviator hat), to hold a warm cloth in place on a child’s ear.

How does warmth help an ear infection?

An ear infection hurts because of pressure on the ear drum as it bulges to contain fluid that is building up. Heat works to help fluid in the ear break up and be on its way, thus relieving pressure on the ear drum.

But getting a child to lie still on his or her side and hold a cloth perfectly in place themselves for long enough can be a challenge.

A trick for keeping a warm cloth on a wiggly child’s ear

Put the earflap hat on your child without tying the strings. Then take a regular, dry wash cloth and microwave it for 20-25 seconds to warm it. (My husband and I also did this to warm our babies’ blankets after bath time.)

Check that the cloth is not too hot, just comfortably warm to the touch. If it’s too hot, wave it in the air a bit until it’s the right temperature, and then tuck it under the earflap next to the offending ear. Tie the strings under the chin. Let your child lay back and relax.

If your baby is up for it, you can also place them with their painful ear on your chest to provide warmth. But good luck getting your preschooler to do that!

And of course, we’re not doctors here. So make sure you get your child to a doctor if you suspect an ear infection.

While we’re on the topic, I highly recommend a trip to Web MD’s Ear Infection Health Center . You’ll find a vast number of articles dedicated to the topic, including worksheets to help you decide when to give antibiotics.

What about you? How do you get through dreaded ear infections with your little ones?

Preschooler Pandemonium

The power of dress-up play

Last minute pirate costume

Little kids love to dress up in costumes. From dashing superheroes in capes to dainty ballerinas in frilly tutus, a new identity emerges when little boys and girls dress up.

In fact, it doesn’t even have to be a full-on costume for kids to feel the excitement of a disguise. Our animal ear hats are a great way for babies to start. They know that something is different – Why are there little ears on top of my head suddenly? – and they thrill to look at themselves in the mirror.

In my circle of play date friends, many kids as young as three years old know Spider Man, Batman, and other famous characters.

However, my son had never been one for dressing up. With vague disinterest, he would wear dutifully anything I put on him (a fireman’s hat after visiting the fire station, a train engineer’s hat and scarf at a friend’s birthday party, a homemade Pinocchio costume last October). Though he always passed by the costumes if it were his choice.

It wasn’t until preschool that my little boy really had to dress up.

It started with summer camp. His Montessori teacher was so enthused about dress-up play that she herself dressed up most days, and there was a mandatory dress-up day for the kids once a week.

We pulled together a pirate costume one morning from odds and ends around the house )pictured above). A t-shirt with a panda bear’s face on it sufficed for animal week. And his Pinocchio costume won him an award and rave reviews.

Now, at four years old, he has a favorite TV show: Super Why. When he found out he could wear a costume to dress up like Super Why, he nearly jumped out of his pants then and there! When it arrived, I had to put it on him immediately, and he even wore the mask for the rest of the day.

I must say I’m glad he is showing interest now. I think the excitement of dressing up should be part of every child’s young years. ChildhoodBeckons.com outlines some of the reasons why dress-up play is so important for our kids.

If dress-up play is already a staple at your house, drop your favorite tips for the rest of us in the comments below!

And, finally, in case you’re just getting started, here are some of our other hats for dressing out of the ordinary.