5 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Having Kids

takeajoke

Becoming a mom was always something I wanted, but nothing I could have adequately prepared for. My best preparation for HAVING a child was BEING a child who was loved by two parents who were there for me always. So I am very lucky in that regard. But otherwise? Despite lots of babysitting, I had no idea what the heck I was in for. Contrary to my beliefs, knowing how to change a diaper was NOT enough! So after 10 years of parenting and a whole lot of thought, here are 5 things I wish I’d known before having kids.

1) You will become a servant.

Surprise! Children and babies are helpless balls of need for the first few years. You will do EVERYTHING for them and will occasionally get rewarded by being pooped or barfed on (and ok, after a couple months, with smiles and coos.) So get out your sexy maid’s costume, I mean, your sweatpants and old tee, and prepare to be at this kid’s beck and call Downton Abbey-style.

2) Your memory will cease to function.

I don’t know about you dudes, but having kids gave me adult ADD and permanent MOMNESIA. By the time I get from the living room to the kitchen, I have no idea why I’ve gone there. Before the kids talk well enough to remind you, this can be a real problem.

3) You will become a human jungle gym.

Really, I would’ve pumped more iron if I knew I was going to be an indoor climbing center.

4) You will be obsessed with bowel movements.

I cannot WAIT until the day when I only have ONE SET of bowels to worry about. Sadly, that is my new definition of PARADISE.

5) You will become a stealth ninja.

Anything to eat a Hershey bar without sharing and take a pee without being touched. ANYTHING. Again, had I known this, I would have honed this skills YEARS in advance.

Of course, I did know ONE thing before having kids: that I’d never regret it. And in that, my friends, I was right on the money!

Rapsonfam

What do you wish YOU would’ve known before plunging into parenthood?

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Such a Turn-Off

keepcalmturnofftv

I’ve always been a kind of “everything in moderation” Mom, so what I am about to say may shock you.

A couple of months ago, I stopped letting Jonah watch TV. Like, at all. For awhile previously I had him down to one show a day, and used that mostly as a reward for potty training. But soon I realized even that was too much. Even though he was only allowed to watch one a day, he obsessed over that one show, and he talked about it all day long. He has a really good memory, and he’d memorize parts of shows and walk around reciting those parts instead of talking and interacting with me and our family.

For a language-delayed kid, this is just not healthy.

So, we pulled the plug. We knew it would be hard, and it was, at first. But it wasn’t hard for very long. I was surprised at how soon he just stopped asking to watch. I was also surprised at how soon we saw an improvement in his language. Very, very soon we were able to see that we’d made the right decision. After a couple weeks, Jonah stopped talking about his shows and started talking about the world around him. Instead of re-living scenes from a Leap Frog adventure, he reminisces about our special “Mommy-Jonah” speech time we have together every day, or about what happened at school. And he observes and comments more on what’s happening around him as it’s happening.

It’s been kind of a bummer for the big kids never to be able to watch TV or play Wii upstairs in our living room, so we created a play area for them in the basement where they can do those things (on designated days). When Jonah’s older and past his delays, we’ll all be able to do those activities together again one day, and I hope then we can keep it moderated.

Because now, honestly? It’s really nice. Sure there are some days when I have a TON of work to do and I WISH I could just plop Jonah down in front of Netflix and buckle down, but the truth is, and I have SEEN this with my own eyes, that even doing that once in awhile is not ok for Jonah. Whatever work I have to do, or think I have to do, what’s best for him is vitally more important. And so I work around the inconvenience of not having a digital babysitter. I make it work. I stay up later, work in small spurts instead of one nice big chunk if I have to, and I hustle hustle hustle when he is at school. I make it work. We make it work as a family.

Bobby was more hesitant at first, he said to me, “I feel like we are taking away everything he likes.” (Because some other things that had a screen, even electronic kids books on kindle or an app, were also a problem). And he was right. But even he agrees that we immediately saw results – and now Jonah has NEW favorite things that are better for him.

I certainly don’t think screens are evil – like I said, my big kids still use them. But I don’t think they are good for kids with language delays, and I DO think they are probably used too much among kids under 5 today.

I wanted to share this with you because this is working for us. It was a hard decision to make, but I am SO glad we did. Jonah still watches a movie with us when we have family movie night, but other than that, he doesn’t watch TV at all. And it’s pretty great!

So, if this is a decision you’re mulling over in your house, I encourage you to commit to it and give it a try. It may not be what’s right for every kid, but it sure was the right thing for ours!

Have you ever done a no TV experiment? What were the results in your house?

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ISO – Your best internet safety tips for kids

Kate turns 10 in April, and we are considering giving her an iPod for her birthday. And by iPod, I mean my old iPhone in a new case. She’s been wanting one for a while, and since I just upgraded my phone and have a spare lying around, it seems like a good time.

I am a little nervous about it, though. I don’t exactly know why – she spends more time with my iPad than I do, mostly watching Netflix and YouTube videos about kids who got puppies for Christmas. But something about her having her own device, even if it’s closely monitored by Andy and me, seems a little bit different.

To be honest, I am not worried at all about the information she will seek out, but I am mostly worried about what she could potentially stumble upon inadvertently. I mean, we’ve all googled something and found something entirely different (for the record, if you’re looking to order soccer cleats, make sure to go to dickssportingoods.com – not the shortened version of that), and then there are all the horror stories we’ve heard about mean girls and “hot or not” contests and all sorts of nonsense.

So, obviously I want to stay out ahead of this stuff, but I don’t have a solid plan yet. One thing I do intend to use, though, is this contract I came across. It’s from imom.com (that link will take you to the site where you can download a PDF version of your very own).

iMOM Social Media Contract

It’s time for some intense interwebz research on this topic! But I’d also like to hear from you.

How do you monitor what your kids are doing online? What, if any, parental controls do you employ? What conversations do you have with your kids about it?

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