5 parenting “hacks” that need to knock it off

Alright. You’re probably all wondering why I’ve gathered you here today. People of the internet, there is something we need to discuss. There seems to be a universal need for the “hacking” of things.

Cooking hacks, organizational hacks, cleaning hacks, parenting hacks, hacking hacks. JUST COOL IT WITH THE HACKS, PEOPLE. For one thing, 40% of the ideas out there are actually more work than just performing the damn task in the first place.

Another 55% are completely useless (“What the hell was that crash?!” “That’s the sound of my organized cleaning supplies falling into a heap under the sink because the tension rod Pinterest told me to hang them from refuses to hold more than 2 bottles of cleaner.”)

While the remaining 5% are admittedly helpful (seriously, using a mason jar attached to the blender blade to make a single serving smoothie has revolutionized my morning) it’s still getting out of hand.

In my internet travels, here are the top 5 “parenting hacks” I’ve run across that need to knock it right the hell off.

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Use your baby as a mop. Novelty gag or not, this is disgusting. Like that poor kid doesn’t do a good enough job of soiling himself without the contributions of your otherwise unswept floor.

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Put sprinkles on boring food to make kids excited about eating it. What in the actual crap is this? Are you raising Buddy the Elf? Do I smell burning plastic? Oh, wait, no. It’s just the melting brain cells of dietitians everywhere.

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Reuse a pizza box as a canvas.  We’re going to consider painting on garbage an idea so revolutionary that it warrants sharing in a public forum? WAIT UNTIL YOU HEAR ABOUT MY BRACELETS MADE OF PIPECLEANERS.

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Warm the toilet seat with socks. Stop the planet. I want to get off. In an age where parents are calling colleges to argue their adult children’s grades, and emailing their employers to explain why they should be excused from work for a family vacation, THIS IS TAKING THE CODDLING TOO FAR. How cold is your house that your cheeks can’t do a sufficient job of warming that sucker up in just a few seconds? Additionally, ew. I don’t even want to envision what a fright fest I’d walk into after one afternoon of use. I want to bring charges against the person who thought of this.

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Invest in cargo pants. Unless you’re going to be starring alongside Bear Grylls on Man Vs. Wild, drinking urine out of a shed snakeskin (listen, I don’t just make this stuff up), CARRY A BAG LIKE EVERYONE ELSE. This is not a parenting hack. This is a crime against fashion.

Thank you for listening.

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Diary of a Sick Day. Sort of.

This morning, I woke up with my head seemingly sewn to the pillow. The aches, chills, and hacking cough that had wound their way into my body yesterday had hunkered down much like the winter, which has completely worn out its welcome.

It’s February break this week, so the kids are off of school, but in the interest of everyone living through it, our son is at camp. There’s only so much entertaining you can do in sub-zero temps before someone loses an eye.

Our three year old is bouncing around from one caregiver to another while my husband and I work. Today, they had planned to stay home together.

This is the diary of my sick day.

7:15 Three year old wakes me by telling me, “We slept a long time.” I politely disagree and attempt to continue.

8:45 Nine year old, who has yet to master the art of smoothness, yanks out a bag of candy he has no intention of sharing with his little sister so that he can put a piece in his lunch box. Full Fukushima Nuclear Reactor style meltdown from both parties ensues. I didn’t see it with my eyes, but my husband recounted that as he snatched the bag of junk from their warring hands, they clutched one another in a sea of radioactive tears. My headache reaches peak pounding. They bring me tea and tylenol.

9:05 Already 5 minutes late for camp, the 3 year old decides she does in fact want to leave with them (turning 180 degrees on the steadfast refusal of the previous half hour.) Husband scares up clothes that are too small while the 9 year old whines about being late while also (as I deduced from the yelling) wandering around shoeless and without a packed bag.

9:15 Silence. Sweet, glorious silence. I drift in and out of sleep, weaving dreams with weird crap I read on the internet before almost dropping my phone on my face.

12:18 “MOOOOOOOM!!! WE’RE HOME! WE’RE BACK! WERE YOU MISSING ME?” She trudges up the stairs and crawls into my bed. She shoves her hands and feet, possibly just one degree shy of frostbite up my shirt and between my knees. If I had more energy, I might have launched her across the room. I decline invitations to play “the wizard game” (aka Monopoly), sand tea party, and anything which requires sitting up. I bore her into leaving.

2:05 Three year old ascends the stairs once again inquiring about the whereabouts of a particular necklace of mine. I inform her it is in my jewelry box. She retrieves said box from the dresser and proceeds to dump the contents all over my bed. Going full pirate, she declares, “I love this necklace and this bracelet. I’m going to keep them and put them in MY jewelry box. Ok?”

“Actually, no. That’s not ok. Those are mine.”

“But I LIKE them.”

“That’s not the way things work. How would you like it if your friend came over and told you that she really likes your Anna dress and so it’s hers now?”

“She can have the Elsa one.”

“You’re full of baloney.”

“Well, can I have it when you die?”

2:45 She comes back to visit with a bowl of chips. I eat one to be courteous and she devours the rest in my  bed. I wish I could care.

3:30 Again she returns with her icy hands and feet. She requests my phone and I oblige. She navigates her way into YouTube and finds Peppa Pig.

“They’re speaking Spanish. Don’t you want one you can understand?”

“No. I like Spanish.”

She stays and dots the foreign dialogue with her own cough. A sharp hack/screech that marries empathy with a penchant for the dramatic.

4:08 I request more tylenol an apple which I proceed to eat laying down. 3 year old came thisclose to having that jewelry to herself.

4:48 Husband and 3 year old leave to retrieve our son. Tylenol has yet to kick in and I fight the urge to google “brain tumors” mostly because the screen hurts my eyes. I fall asleep again, wondering if you’re supposed to feel your heartbeat in your palms.

5:25 “MAAAAAAAAMAAAAAAAAA! WE’RE HOME AGAIN! ARE YOU ASLEEP? MAMA? DO YOU HEAR ME?” (Note the layout of our 1,100 square foot house and that as she enters, she is literally 18 feet from my head.) I pretend that I’m dead. The sunlight has begun to fade, so the 3 year old flicked on the light at the bottom of the stairs- the light that beams directly into my eyeballs when I’m in bed. Both kids stomp up the stairs to tell me things I have to pretend to care about.

5:35 Headache mildly subsided, I decide to finally get out of bed, if for no other reason than to make coming back to bed in a couple hours feel like an event. I yank the sheets off and take them with me because of potato chips and sickness.

The rest of the evening was made up of tacos, the kids belting songs from Frozen, and my 9 year old nearly launching the 3 year old through the living room in a Jennifer Grey/Patrick Swayze failed lift attempt. You know, typical stuff.

I think I’ll be better by tomorrow. And I’ll wear that jewelry just to prove a point.

 

 

Comedy Writer & Podcaster Elizabeth Laime: Just be more gentle with yourself

Elizabeth Laime is a comedy writer and host of two weekly podcasts;  Totally Married and Totally Mommy. (Her original podcast, Totally Laime, has episodes archived online.) She lives with her husband, daughter, dog and cat in Los Angeles.

Parents: Elizabeth Laime and Andy Rosen

Kids: daughter Theodora, 11 months

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Parent Co: How are you?

Elizabeth Laime: My husband was out of town last week so I was just in Mom mode… The last five days I was like, ‘woah.’ Around eight months I felt like ‘okay, I got this,’ but together we have systems in place. So just going it alone I was like, ‘yikes!’

Is it unusual for your husband to be gone or are you alone often?

Actually, the first five months after Teddy was born he took five or six business trips but they were all one or two days and I think I was so in the zone anyway that I was in survival mode.

But now that things have gotten cushy, it was just a little bit of a system shock. It made me think, I mean, single moms are my heroes. It’s hard to wrap my brain around (what they do).

Do you and Andy consider your work and lifestyle to be non-traditional? Are there routines or rituals you have that help you stay connected as a family?

Yes, I would say that for sure applies to us. We both work for ourselves (Andy’s a record producer) and we do have things in place, like one big thing for us is the mornings. Andy gets up with Teddy at 6:30 and that’s his time with her. Then he goes to work at ten and stays at work sometimes until midnight.

I have babysitters and I have help, which is great so that I can get work done. But I was writing a pilot over the holidays and that was Andy’s time to pick up the slack. Now that project is done for me and he has an album due in a month and a half so now it’s my turn to pick up the slack. I don’t know what’s going to happen when both things hit at once, but that hasn’t happened yet.

We’re an amazing partnership and our marriage is incredible but we ended up going to couples counseling trying to navigate the specific issue of how to communicate what we need from each other… mostly about how to communicate if he needs extra time without coming into it with guilt or defensiveness. It’s been really helpful and now we have these tools in place that we use constantly.

I feel like couples counseling can be so extremely helpful for short-term problem solving and I wish more people would use it for that purpose.

I know. I think so many people think of it as a last resort, kind of ‘death rattle’ thing, and for us it’s been tool-building and we actually enjoy it. We look forward to going. It’s nice to go in and know we’re gonna get a set of tools and come out with an understanding.

And back to your original question about rituals: I was gonna say we have our “Totally Married” podcast which is once a week for an hour and it’s not just about marriage, it’s me and Andy hanging out.

There have definitely been weeks when it’s hard to squeeze it in or it just feels like a chore but for the most part I’m so grateful we have it because it’s the one hour a week where we just sit down and connect.

So you had Totally Laime and then Totally Married. What was the evolution of Totally Mommy for you?

I had really terrible morning sickness so the first part of my pregnancy I was just on mommy boards and it felt so isolating because I couldn’t tell anyone yet. The podcast kind of came out of that.

During my pregnancy, and I know this isn’t everyone’s experience, but I was already in the vortex of motherhood. It was all I thought about, it was all I wanted to talk about. So having the podcast was kind of a natural progression, just to make it an official hour out of my week where I got to talk to other mothers.

What have you gained, personally, out of doing the podcast?

There are kind of universal themes through motherhood, and one is that everything sort of passes, there’s an ebb and flow to everything. At first it was really hard to wrap my head around because Teddy had really bad colic and allergies and eczema and it just felt so isolating. It was really nice to connect to hear that other people had that experience and they made it through.

Can you think of anything that a lot of moms don’t realize and you wish they did?

After having Teddy by myself this week, I realized that each day is 20 moments of the most earth-shattering joy, and then in between that is just catastrophic boredom.

I think there’s an idea that if you’re not loving every second of it that means that you’re taking it for granted or you’re not a good mother. And then I’ve seen the pendulum swing in the opposite direction where it’s like, “oh this is such a drag, I hate this so much,” but the truth is it’s such a mixed bag and I think it’s good for women to relate to that.

I’ve also discovered that I had all of these ideas about things and there are lot of things that, until you’ve experienced motherhood, you don’t know – so I think I’ve become much more compassionate.

Even breastfeeding. I used to think I would never breastfeed in public without a cover just because I’m so modest, and that has flown out the window faster than a bird getting hit by a rock. I’m whipping ‘em out left and right.

I think that a lot of my perceptions about how things should be have really changed and that makes me compassionate for other mothers.

Well that’s a great message to share with other moms. What other bits of parental wisdom do you like to share with people?

Just be more gentle with yourself.

Follow Elizabeth Laime on Twitter.
Follow her on Facebook.
Visit her website.

 

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Winter: Sometimes It’s Just Not Worth It

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Today is that sort of cold that makes you wonder if we’re really supposed to be living on the planet. I’m fairly certain I heard the mailman muttering something about “not signing up for this crap” as he dropped my very important 56th Kohl’s coupon of the week into the mailbox.

It’s only Wednesday.

It snowed over the weekend, yet there’s only one set of tracks through the snow in the backyard. They lead directly to the shed where the shovel is kept. Know why? Because I’ve finally embraced the fact that WE ARE NOT WINTER PEOPLE. Hell, I scraped snow off my car with a flip flop for the first 3 years I lived in Vermont.

I’ve tried. Lord knows I’ve tried. Her first Christmas, my daughter’s big gift was a beautiful heirloom wooden sled. “It will be great”, I said. “We’ll be outside all the time!’, I said.

Do not be fooled by the joyous looks on their faces. Only moments later it all went completely to shit and I had to make him get out and walk because he was too damn heavy and she wailed because the snowflakes had the audacity to continue to fall on her face after the novelty had worn off.
Do not be fooled by the joyous looks on their faces. Only moments later it all went completely to crap and I had to make him get out and walk because he was too damn heavy and she wailed because the snowflakes had the audacity to continue to fall on her face after the novelty had worn off.

I think in the three years we’ve had it, we’ve used it annually. As in three times. Total.

Mostly because going outside in winter is like this:

“Hey guys! Let’s go play in the snow! Doesn’t it look so beautiful out there? Come on! Get dressed!’

Bear in mind I am 100% FAKING ENTHUSIASM. Every muscle in my body is tensed with the thought of having to go out there hating everything about life the entire time.

“Ugh, do we have to?”

“YES! IT WILL BE AWESOME NOW GO FIND EVERY ARTICLE OF CLOTHING YOU OWN.”

Over the course of the next 25 minutes we locate boots (at least one kid’s are too small), three pairs of dollar store stretchy gloves that are basically useless after October 15th, a single mitten of a pair that are warm enough but somehow last winter managed to start smelling like feet no matter how many times they were washed, and four hats (only two of which actually cover ears sufficiently). The snow pant situation is under control, thankfully.

Still in the basement digging around for things to keep myself warm, upstairs it’s apparent that either a roving band of rabid raccoons has staged a Braveheart style battle in our living room, or my nine year old is frustrated putting on some god forsaken piece of gear.

I march up to help/yell.

“Dude! Put the pants on FIRST. Boots SECOND. Seriously.”

Help me. This sucks already.

I cram the toddler into 2 pair of wooly socks, a set of long underwear and a sweater before she tells me she has to “take a dump”.

“Ughhhh! MOM! I’M GETTING HOT.”

“Then go outside. We’ll meet you. I don’t control the girl’s bowels.”

Shoving him out the door, I then shuffle her into the bathroom and wiggle her out of the sweater and saying a silent “don’t let a turd roll out” prayer, slide the long underwear down.

We’re in good shape as she sits down and I wait. And wait. She sings a mash up of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” “Tomorrow” from Annie and Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball”. She asks me to paint her toenails while she finishes. I decline.

“Come on, girl! Your brother is waiting for us. Let’s wrap this show up.”

“Ok. I’m done.”

Business taken care of, I get her dressed all the way except for the mittens. On the list of “Things I’m going to miss about having a toddler”, finding rotting bananas in the tupperware drawer and being woken up by a cranium to the face courtesy of a fitful sleeper would be higher than applying hand coverings to what are essentially whining wet noodles.

“Work with me. Do this.” I hold my hand up, four fingers extended straight and pressed together with my thumb as far away from them as physically possible.

She tries and as soon as the fleece encompasses her hand, it goes limp. Thumb nowhere near where it’s supposed to be.

“No. Try again. This.” Repeat.

“My fumb, mama?”

“Yes.Your thumb. In the hole.”

Five minutes and two dozen tries later, I’m sweating like a wildebeest in my down coat, which I’ve watched enough Survivor Man to know means CERTAIN DEATH BY HYPOTHERMIA and the fun is ONLY JUST BEGINNING.

I open the door to head out and almost slam it right into my son who is huddled in a ball on the steps like a vagabond, and clearly has been since I kicked him out.

“I want to go inside now. Please.”

“Come ON! We just got out here! Let’s build a snowman!”

My inner monologue is peppered with expletives.

I march out into the yard making fresh tracks. The toddler’s eyes have begun to water and a single tear spills out and runs down her right cheek. She stands in one spot refusing to move.

“Fine. I’ll come to you. Help me shape the snow into a ball.”

Very slowly she reaches down to scoop up some snow.

“OH NO! IT’S IN MY GLUB! MY HAND IS COLD! IT HUWHTS!”

My son has ascended to the top step inching his way to the warmth of the inside when he thinks I’m not looking.

I’ve been outside all of four minutes.

Next time, instead of going outside, we’ll just build a ship in a bottle and then back over it with the car.

Looking Back at the Most Popular Baby Names of 2015

Need help naming your baby? Choose from one the most popular names of 2015. #dumpcake

Baby Name Trends 2015
Parent Co projected baby naming trends of 2015. Do you want a kid whose name is on lists?

So, you’re going to have a baby.

Sure, you could pay this Swiss Company $32,000 to scheme up an original, completely one-of-a-kind name for your snowflake. But let’s get real. $32,000 is a huge investment in someone you haven’t even met yet. Yes, people name their kids before they’re born all the time, but it’s a roll of the dice.

“MY name is Steve! Steve’s a great name! WE HAVE TO NAME HIM THAT.” And then “he” comes out minus parts the sonogram wrongfully promised because the technician had too many daiquiris at lunch. Imagine putting $32 grand behind that decision. Steve will look beautiful in her prom dress, by the way.

[Tweet “Here at Parent.Co, we’re offering baby name services for a slashed price of $15,999.”]

As team of professional parents, we’ve collectively named over a dozen children we actually care about and 3 more that people have paid us to. One of our kid’s names even inspired the name of the main character in a blockbuster film. Trust us. We do juice cleanses and put fish oil in our espresso. We know things.

  • We scan the finest drugstore shelves, tropical farmers markets, pedigree dog shows, even the NASDAQ for the highest quality inspiration.
  • We will quadruple check for unfortunate acronyms by consulting with texting teens and cross checking medical journals.
  • We arrange hypnotherapy for both parents to compile an honest list of every sexual partner they’ve ever had to avoid subconscious leanings which could later, be grounds for divorce.
  • We have an in house team of particularly ruthless children of varying ages who participate in round table bullying sessions to determine the likelihood that your offspring could suffer based on our choices.
  • We will provide you with 3 choices. Feminine, masculine and gender neutral. You retain full license to all 3, which takes into consideration those who choose not to find out the sex ahead of time or the event the child’s “jaw line is not strong enough for such a bad-ass moniker”. (Thanks for your review, Tad from Greenpoint!) Should the child decide you got it wrong (listen, it’s not going to be the only time they’re going to challenge your authority. Get used to it.), the remaining two options are theirs for the taking. However, if your 18 year old daughter exercises her right to go rogue and renames herself Tawny Cherry to go work alongside the interstate, well, you probably went wrong at plenty of intersections besides name choice. We can not guarantee that invoking our services puts you on the perfect path.

Once our experts have compiled a list of six choices, we bring ourselves to you. With real life application, we’ll help you determine the 3 original one-of-a-kind namesakes for which you write your check.

  • One of us will accompany you on a shopping trip to TJ Maxx where we’ll hide in racks of clothing while you shout our proposed choices 57 times each. We will take notes from between the dresses on pitch and tone and which sit most naturally in your register. You will have the final say in the event our observations do not take into account that one of them makes you want to shave your head completely bald by utterance 43.
  • We’ll come to your house for the morning rush and spill a full bowl of cereal all over your freshly laundered work clothes while simultaneously recreating Van Gogh’s Starry Night all over freshly painted walls. (This is merely an example. We believe the element of surprise elicits the most natural reprimand on which to draw conclusions.)
  • We will provide you with a four inch stack of school intake forms, pediatrician questionnaires, little league sign ups, and permission slips so you can practice writing the sequence of letters you’ll have to scrawl several hundred thousand times for the rest of your life. Decide before committing that an eleven letter first name is too much to ask of anyone. Or not.

Feel free to contact us to set up a consultation.