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Things I don’t feel guilty about.

Every now and then I peruse the mommy blog scene to see if there are any new finds. This morning I followed a link on “How to feed your children cereal for dinner, without the guilt.” I fully anticipated a mediocre-mom style post, laced with humor about not always cooking real meals, and not feeling bad about it. I was highly disappointed.

It was an actual article on how, if you absolutely MUST feed your child cereal for dinner, to look for labels with less than 250 mg of sodium, making sure you measure out the correct portion size according to the label information, etc.

First of all, I don’t really worry about aggravating my kids’ hypertension with sodium intake, since they don’t have high blood pressure. Secondly, if my growing toddler wants two bowls of cereal, she’s getting two bowls of cereal, no matter what the label says.

And let’s just talk about what qualifies as “MUST feed my child cereal.” You know when I MUST feed them cereal? When I didn’t go grocery shopping. When I’m sick of fighting at dinner and I know that Kashi’s Island Vanilla will keep everyone fed and happy.

Also, when the idea of cooking and cleaning another set of dishes in the same day makes me curl in a ball in the corner of the kitchen, trying to eat my own fingers.

I have never felt guilty about that. Because I’m pretty sure I just fed my kids. So there’s that.

In case you haven’t noticed, I kind of hate the notion that we’re supposed to do it all, and do it all well, all the time. Children, by definition, make that impossible. So for your weekly dose of, “Feel better about your parenting,” here is a list of things I’ve done as a parent that I don’t feel guilty about at all.


These make your cookies healthy. Don’t argue. You’re welcome.

  1. Breakfast for dinner. At least a few times per month. I’m sorry, do scrambled eggs lose their nutrition after 12 pm? No? Then shut it.
  2. Mismatched, well, everything. They’re covered. Head to toe, they’re covered. Please explain how having 12 patterns and 2 different socks in any way affects their health or safety.
  3. Dress up clothes to the grocery store. If my little girl wants to embrace the fact that it’s FINALLY warm again by wearing a princess ballerina fairy outfit to get bread and milk, then by golly, she’s wearing it.
  4. Forgoing chores in favor of play time. Last night, I had every intention of having the girls clean their rooms. But then something miraculous happened: They played without fighting. Listen to me: You NEVER, EVER, interrupt play without fighting if you can help it. It was nothing short of a miracle. Their rooms will still be there – and messy – tomorrow.
  5. Frozen yogurt for dinner. Punkin had two teeth pulled. In our house, dental work is a free pass to frozen treats. She added raspberries. That makes it healthy.
  6. Put off laundry until someone is actually out of clean underwear. I’m not proud of it, but it’s happened. And I didn’t buy more underwear, I just actually did all the laundry. So, winning.
  7. Served 5 different meal concoctions at dinner out of whatever was left in the fridge and pantry because I could. not. bear. the thought of the grocery store with children.
  8. McDonald’s. We eat pretty freakin’ healthy most of the time. It’s getting harder and harder for me to feed the kids drive-through food, even when we’re desperate, but it still happens once in a blue moon. I like to think that one batch of chicken nuggets will not offset batch, after batch, after batch, of kale chips.
  9. Sister sleepovers. Sometimes I know that I can fully avoid bedtime meltdowns by saying the girls can have a sister sleepover. Sometimes, when Friday rolls around, I am so done with bedtime battles all week long that I just cave. They’ll be up later. They’ll need naps the next day. Whatever. We get a night without time-outs and tears.
  10. Taught Punkin how to make eggs for purely selfish reasons: I don’t want to cook first thing in the morning. I want coffee. Just coffee.
  11. “Healthy” cookies. When I make chocolate chip cookies, I almost always use combinations of coconut flour/quinoa flour/flax meal, etc. and cut back on sugar a bit. It adds protein, cuts carbs, and makes me feel so much better about feeding them cookies for breakfast. Because I do that sometimes.
  12. Sweep up all the little toys and immediately throw them away. I knew this mom who literally kept every tiny Barbie shoe/fork/hair accessory/etc. that ever entered their home. Ain’t nobody got time for that. And by nobody, I mean me. And by time, I mean patience. I am not even picking up 20 Barbie shoes every time I sweep. Which is twice a day, usually. If there are small things that are left out, they get thrown out. Also I hate clutter, and the idea of hundreds of little toys makes me twitch.

    I like the really dark, boost-your-seratonin-levels chocolate for secret snacking. But these will work in an emergency.

    I like the really dark, boost-your-seratonin-levels chocolate for secret snacking. But these will work in an emergency.

  13. Forgot about dusting the ceiling fan. For like a year. One day I looked up and realized the ceiling fan in our bedroom was furry. That’s not normal. I do not recommend the once/year method of cleaning.
  14. Ate chocolate in secret. I can’t even count how many times I’ve done that, and I don’t care. I gave my kids life. I’m not giving them my dark chocolate.

I recently read another blog post by a mom who never lets her house or kids get messy. Everything, and everyone, is always neat and tidy. In my defense, she has one kid. In everyone else’s defense, even if you have one kid, I have no idea how you could possibly never have a mess, unless you follow your child around with some sort of vacuum/bleaching/laundering apparatus and never give them art supplies.

I’m not that mom. And I’m okay with that.



Parenting FAIL Friday: I get paid for this.

I have mentioned that I scored a sweet work-from-home gig that lets me make a little extra cash while still wrangling my rabid howler monkeys.

A friend is paying me to watch her two-year-old.

Stifle that laughter, please. I’m actually kind of awesome at it. And by awesome I mean no one has suffered serious bodily harm.

But we do fun things like  coloring projects. And yesterday I totally took one for the team and bundled us all up for outside time. In the blistering windy cold of winter. This had nothing to do with the fact that I needed the children to not be fighting in the walls of my home. Or that I may or may not have caught the two toddlers (mine and hers) physically fighting over a high chair, and swinging it around the living room trying to grab it from one another.

Toddler squabbles aside, it’s been kind of perfect. Curls (the second toddler – who has a full head of halfway-down-her-back black ringlets) is a very enthusiastic cleaner, and God knows Smush needs some work in that department. Plus it’s like a crash course in sharing for everyone involved, and I imagine that will be helpful once school days roll around for this brood. Either that or they will have learned how to go Jackie Chan on anyone that takes their pencil sharpener.

And even though they make messes, we use teamwork to clean them up.

Confession: I totally blew it in this department early on. Too often I gave in and cleaned up myself because I got sick of the tantrums. When it’s four against one, you can’t win. So you have to learn to stick to your guns and get all hands on deck. And I’ve been nailing it.

Except for this.   20130129_085803

That’s sugar. From my sugar bowl. That Smush and Curls emptied into their play sink to “cook.”


Oh look, they were stirring with Goo’s brand new paint brush from Christmas.

And because no toddler fiasco is complete without grinding tiny granules of insect-attracting food pellets into the carpet, I give you this.



As an added bonus, they painted Curls’ pants. In sugar. Which, upon putting them in time-out for taking food and dumping it out, they licked off with their fingers while they happily giggled in their chairs.

I get paid for this.

Before and after kids: Spring cleaning.

A while ago I did a post on Facebook, before and after kids. This got me thinking that there’s probably a literary goldmine of posts on activities of daily life before and after kids. I’m making it a series. Kind of like Parenting FAIL Friday.

Last week I got to escape for a few minutes to run an errand with J-Money (bff). Pedicures? No. Frothy lattes? No. Home Depot, baby. You may have seen us there. We were the two smokin’ hot chicks caressing the granite samples and stainless steel refrigerators like they were our long-lost loves.

I was on a mission to get new filters for the vacuum, vacuum bags, and a new dust pan and scrub brush. I’m getting ready for spring cleaning, and I may or may not be a little excited at the thought of new cleaning supplies. I kept going on and on about my new vacuum filters to the Nerd. He totally didn’t get it. Analogy: a carpenter gets a brand new fancy pants drill.

Side note: I’m pretty sure “Fancy Pants” should be a tool brand name. Anyway. He would be super excited because he uses it all day every day.

I’m a stay at home mom with three of the messiest children on the planet. I use my vacuum all day every day. I once saw a tip on keeping a tidy home: make a cleaning schedule and stick with it. Example: if Mondays are vacuum day, always vacuum on Mondays. Umm, pretty sure if I vacuumed once a week, we’d have things growing on our carpet.

I tried launching spring cleaning on Saturday. The Nerd “suddenly” came down with a raging, extremely painful sinus infection and became utterly useless. Men. This left me with three not-super-helpful children, exactly 1/7 of the cleaning done that I had planned, and a partially sanded living room getting prepped for painting. It also got me thinking about what spring cleaning was like before we had children. It was just a *little* different then.

Cleaning 102 – The Breaking Point.

I’m at my whit’s end.

Cleaning in our house is largely one-sided, and has never been very productive.

I blame myself mostly. Our children are natural-born mess makers, fo sho. But when Punkin was the only kid, picking up after her wasn’t such a big deal. It was just one kid. I could handle that. However, my doing that bred one of the messiest kids I have ever seen. She literally just drops things, all over. Jacket off – drop it on the floor. Shoes off – leave ’em where they land. Tried on 3 outfits – clothes are scattered all over the bedroom. Done with snack – apple core is left in the middle of the table with a half-finished cup of milk.

These traits passed on to Goo. I’ve been better with her, getting her more involved in cleaning, but nowhere near as strict as I should have been. Now that Smush is walking, she’s tearing into everything. Dumping bins of toys, yanking entire collections off book shelves, opening drawers and dumping the clothes. I have learned something recently:

You cannot – CAN. NOT. – keep up with three kids the way you keep up with one. Considered yourselves warned.

I’ve tried here and there to change things. “Okay guys, don’t forget, when you’re done with one toy, put it away before you take out another one.” “Listen girls, we’re going to start cleaning up the play room every night before bed.”

That last one is a great idea, provided you never have to eat and run to play practice/church/gymnastics. Or provided your children never have a bad day and spend more time throwing tantrums than cleaning. Or provided you’re never too flippin tired to stay on top of them every second to make sure it gets done.

And so I give up. I clean it myself. I tell myself that next time, I’ll really make them do it all.

This has gone on for 7 years.

This week, something happened. I’m not sure what did it. Maybe it was the complete and utter destruction of the play room after I reorganized it – again. Maybe it was vacuuming the house 3 times in one day and seeing that the living room still needed it again that night. Maybe it was mopping the floor only to find smudges and drips an hour later. Whatever it was, I hit it: my breaking point. I looked at the Nerd one day this week and said, “I can’t do it anymore. I’ve had it. I’m done. I can’t keep up with this mess. And something has to give.”

My standards are pretty low. I don’t buy brand names. I don’t need new cars (my swagger wagon is used and I’m still in love). We’ve never owned a house. My furniture is all broken, hand-me-down pieces, except for one room. My pots and pans are warped so that they don’t lay flat on the burner, and the lids don’t stay on. My food processor leaks liquid every time I use it.

All I’m asking for is a clean house. One where I have time to keep the floors mopped and the bathroom scrubbed because I’m not spending every moment and shred of sanity I have on picking up freaking Little  People because if I leave them in the hallway I will step on them in the middle of the night.

So I’ve decided that the least I should get is, in fact, a clean house. I’m the opposite of high maintenance. I don’t expect things for my birthday, or mother’s day (even though, Nerd, a whole day off for mom’s day would be awesome). I cook, I clean, I agonize over menu ideas on a too-small grocery budget and a kid with food sensitivities that needs natural and organic foods. I put in hours of volunteer time for church activities. So just pick up your flippin clothes, mmm-kay?

Side note: I wrote most of this post a few days ago, but didn’t publish it because I’m all about the visual and I didn’t have any relevant photos. WordPress recommends photos of British people in their living room, and pieces of scrapbook paper. Because that’s appropriate to this rant.

And then, this happened:

And with this leaves my last shred of sanity.

This happened at 6:30. In the morning. Best part? It occurred after I hit my breaking point, and made the girls clean the play room and bedroom, with no help from me. That took, drum roll please…

Four hours.

Four hours to do a job I could have done in 30 minutes, tops. Then this? You’ve got to be kidding me. The clean up of this mess lasted 1.5 hours and involved 4 time-outs and excessive screaming and yelling. On both our parts. Not even a venti nonfat no whip salted caramel mocha could fix that. Which is why, in the past, I always made the mistake of stepping in. But not this time. This time, I am going to remember that for a little suffering now, I will be reaping in the rewards of a lesson learned for years to come. It’s just like sleep training. Teaching your baby to sleep independently sucks in the beginning. For a few days. And then, a miracle happens: they learn. They sleep all night, without you, and you wake up each morning ready to frolic through a field of daisies.

Or at least ready to hit “On” on the coffee maker.

So I’m sticking with it. I’m making them clean up. But because I’ve already wasted a significant amount of my your our time, I will leave the details of the plan to another post. The Nerd and I have a few tricks up our sleeve, and it’s going to revolutionize the way things are done around here. Oh. heck. yes.