Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Top 5 Mother's Day Gift Ideas - What Mom REALLY Wants

Once again Mother's Day is upon us and we Moms will be fortunate to receive tokens of love from our children and spouses. And while we love the gifts you give us, we really do, we secretly wish you could read our minds and provide us with a few things that would truly make us smile, at least for that day.

Sunday, May 8th is Mother's Day this year and on behalf of all moms, I felt it my duty to spill the beans that as much as we will ooh and aah over the bath soaps, cremes, new scarves and Dustbusters (yes, you read right - Dustbusters) that we receive, there are some things that we'd really like to get, but are afraid to ask for.

Flowers are great and all, but if you want to know what us moms really want, keep reading.

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Top 5 Mother's Day Gift Ideas - The Real Deal

1) Time off - I think it's safe to speak for the League of Moms in that we are a tired lot. Yea, really tired: bleary-eyed is our normal state most days. For that reason, please help us have some much-needed time off so that we can sleep, watch TV or read a book. We will appreciate it more than you can imagine.

2) A Cleaning Service - Cleaning is a drag. There, I said it. I know many people actually like doing it, but I'm not one of them. Take the load off of mom and hire someone else to do the dirty work, even for a day. She'll thank you for it.

3) A Personal Chef - Coming up with breakfast, lunch and dinner ideas every day is a daunting task, especially when your children are fussy eaters, picky and prone to treating your kitchen like a restaurant. Ever ended up making two or three different meals at one sitting, just to make everyone happy and to assure that your children have eaten something? I have, and it's no fun. Mom wants a personal chef. Okay, if that's too lofty and expensive of a goal, how about getting one for just one day? A day off from cooking alone would make mom really happy, guaranteed.

4)A Laundry Person - Piles of steaming, dirty laundry are NOT what one wants to deal with at the end of the day, whether you're working outside the home or not. Please wash the clothes for us, just this once. While you're at it, kindly fold and put away the items, or get someone else to do us. Release us from our personal ring of laundry hell. Please.

5)A Personal shopper (groceries) - Okay, when is this supposed to be done? If you're a stay-at-home-mom, you have to coordinate this in-between the little ones' naps, lunch and snack times and various play groups. If you work outside the home, you have to do this after work when you are crabby and exhausted, your kids and spouse are hungry and the thought of stepping into a supermarket in your heels and power suit makes you want to rip your hair out strand by strand. It's never a good time, really. Get mom a day or two (or three) of personal grocery shopping and guess what? She will love you, at least for 24 hours.

Does this list ring true? What other items have I missed? What else would Mom really love for Mother's Day?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Top 10 Ways to Achieve a Work-Life Balance - Guest Post at Good Enough Mother

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We're all trying to find that elusive work-life balance and it continues to be a work in  progress.

Head on over to one of my favorite sites, Good Enough Mother, to find out tips and strategies for making your family and work life sync!


Friday, April 22, 2011

Guest Posting at Mommy Monologues Today!

Hi Everyone,

I'm thrilled to have been given the opportunity to guest post at one of my favorite blogs, Mommy Monologues! Have you ever been "trapped by a toddler?" I have and lived to tell about it, too. Head on over to Mommy Monologues for the full scoop and some tips on how to avoid incarceration by a sippy-cup wielding warden!


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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sippy cups and Sushi - Top 10 Tips for Dining Out with Small Children

Your blissfully child-free friends looked upon you with pity when you told them that you were expecting.

"I guess you won't be going out to dinner anymore, huh," was a popular phrase that was echoed once you told them the news of your expanding family. As a matter of fact, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that your life as you knew it would ride off into the sunset, never to be seen again.

Apparently dining out and small children are mutually exclusive.

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Wait, let me rephrase that - one can dine out, but there is a certain caliber of shall we say...a "family" restaurant that one seems to be relegated to once they have kids. Not that there's anything wrong with that. As a parent of young-uns, there is a quiet comfort in knowing that your child's screaming fit or similar meltdown will be tolerated - even accepted, in some instances - by the other restaurant patrons, almost all of whom are in the same parental trenches as yourself. What is that old saying? That there is safety in numbers? Or perhaps misery loves company...Which is fine and dandy if we are talking about eating establishments that are geared towards families. You know the ones - they often have oversized mascots who entertain the children while eating and, can we say "buffet?"

If you're like myself, you love food. All kinds of food. The food that I love extends well beyond the realm of these types of restaurants, or my usual child-friendly fare that is made at home, consisting mainly of chicken fingers, pizza and grilled cheese sandwiches. Sometimes, just sometimes, it's nice to have a real meal, one that doesn't consist of carbs soaked in butter (read plain pasta without "stuff" on it) or apple juice. Every so often you may want to go to a restaurant where none of the entrees include "orange" cheese or"nuggets" of any kind.

To that end, following is a list of tips for parents who dare to venture into uncharted and sometimes hostile territories:

Top 10 Tips for Dining Out With Small Children

1) Be Prepared - Bring whatever you need to to soothe the savage beast. That could be a favorite blanket, a stuffed animal, a special toy or my personal fave - candy to be used as bribes! Whatever it takes to keep them quiet while you enjoy that gourmet dish that you've been craving.

2) Feed 'em First - I'm not kidding. really, feed them something before you get to the restaurant. Most of us parents know that young kids have a penchant for not liking practically everything that is put before them, and complaining about it when you try to get them to eat. In the worst case scenarios, the meltdowns occur, with full-out tantrums and screaming fits being experienced by not only your family, but the whole restaurant. You will not be looked upon positively in these situations, so spare yourself and feed Johnny before you step out on the town. You can always get them a dessert or something when you're there, if they start acting up and demanding food.

3)Be a Family of Early Birds - Go early. You will have less traffic in the restaurant, more attention from the staff and less of an opportunity to annoy a large group of people. If you can coordinate an early evening dinner or early lunch, do so and you will feel a lot less stressed.

4)Bribery, Negotiation and (sometimes) Threats - I wrote about these tactics before. I use them often. I use them in restaurants. You should too.

5)Plan Your Getaway - Similar to when traveling on an airplane, you should always know the locations of the emergency exits. Having small children and red wine very close proximity may necessitate an emergency exit. Accordingly, plan your course of action and hope, like being on a plane, that you won't have to use it but be assured that you can if you have to. And quickly.

6)Diversion Tactics - Can you say iPhone? Okay, how about any similar device that will keep your kids occupied and rapt while you dine in peace? I'm all about TV-watching (or smart-phone watching in this case) if it will keep the kids quiet for a little while. Load up some of little Johnny' favorite programs on your device and make sure the battery is charged.

7)Team Huddle - Whether you are going with your child's father, your mother, a favorite aunt or close friend, you should use the "team" philosophy and plan ahead what the play-by-play strategy should be. Huddle before the big event, make a game plan, delegate who's doing what and be ready to rumble...if need be (the rumbling might be with a three-year-old, mind you, but be ready nonetheless).

8)Wait Staff Allies - Be very friendly with your wait staff. Very friendly. They can be your allies or your adversaries while you attempt to have a bit of a life by eating at a decent restaurant. They may even help you entertain your kids - your choice. You set the tone as soon as you get there, so you might as well make it a positive one since you've taken the jump and brought along the family. Oh, and be prepared to leave a very substantial tip, one that will compensate for the crème brûlée that's ground into the floor.

9)Bring  Restraints Seating - If your kids are small enough, do not forget the stroller or booster seat. When the going gets tough, the tough sit down...and make their kids sit down as well.

10)Check Yourself - Ask for your bill as soon as you order. That way, if you have to make a speedy escape (see tip #5), you can do so more quickly.

So, you see, dining out with kids can be done. You just need a clear plan of action and a few deep breaths to get you on your way.

I'm sure that many of us have very strong feelings about kids in "adult" restaurants, so I'm curious to what the responses will be to this week's questions

How do you feel about parents who bring their young children to restaurants that are not specifically geared towards families?

If you have small children, do you feel comfortable taking them to these types of eating establishments?

Should parents of children under four take their kids to "nice" restaurants or just stay home?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Ideal Family: Two Girls?

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Apparently many of us are in for a shock. We do not have the perfect family, according to a new survey by

According to this poll, the "perfect" family consists of two girls. Yes, you heard right, people. That means that if you have any other familial configuration than what has been pronounced via these findings (of which I'm not sure are completely scientific), then you are likely very unhappy. Well at least that's what the survey seems to say.

The happiest parents are, apparently, those with two girls, followed by those with one boy and one girl, then two boys. The list continues with a number of varied filial permutations, ending with - surprisingly - four girls! How ironic that two girls are supposedly the ideal complement to one's family, yet doubling down on the double-X chromosone will only get you a double-dose of misery. Strange.

Following is the Bounty list, in decreasing order of parental happiness:

1. Two girls
2. One boy and one girl
3. Two boys
4. Three girls
5. Three boys
6. Four boys
7. Two girls and one boy
8. Two boys and one girl
9. Three boys and one girl
10. Three girls and one boy
11. Two boys and two girls
12. Four girls

The site also goes on to discuss the benefits of having two girls and the negatives of having four girls. You can find more details about the lists in an article I wrote about it for Technorati, here.

Firstly, I'm really not sure what the purpose of this survey was and exactly how they thought that the rest of us poor sods who don't fit into the proscribed "happiest families" contingent would feel. I mean, really - of course parents of two girls are happy, but isn't there something to be said about the rest of us that isn't pitiful or downright insulting? We may not fit into the mold that Bounty has arbitrarily formed, but rest assured that I as well as many parents of children that are not two girls, are very, very happy about the type of family that we/they do have and wouldn't change it for the world.

In a larger sense, there is something disturbing about a survey that at once pits one set of parents against others, as well as perpetuating gender stereotypes about boys and girls.

For example, some of the so-called "benefits" of having two girls are that they are "rarely noisy" and that they "help around the house."

Many parents of two girls (or more) are probably laughing out loud right now, and will tell you that their kids are not "rarely noisy;" if anything, they are the opposite. As well they are pulling their hair out trying to get them to help around the house.

In other words, if it isn't already apparent in this post, I am not a fan of surveys like these. They set up a hierarchy amongst parents and pit us against each other (the "haves" and the "have-nots") unnecessarily. Because, really - parenting in and of itself is a hard, hard job. It's rewarding beyond compare, but it's an effort to do it well. Why add guilt and longing for what we don't have into the mix?

So I have to ask: what do you think about this survey? Do you agree? Is the two-girl family the best type of family? Why or why not?

What type of family do you have? How do you feel about surveys like this?

I look forward to hearing from you!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Acts of Civil Disobedience

My twin boys Aubrey and Erik regularly commit Acts of Civil Disobedience.

No, they are not civil rights crusaders, nor are they proponents of Mohandas Ghandi. They have no idea who he is.

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Neither Martin Luther King nor Henry David Thoreau inspire my boys to protest in their own way, the established laws of the land (or of the household, as it were).

Yes, they have come to this method of non-violent resistance by purely organic and natural means. It is as if the heavens above have bestowed upon them the god-given right to protest - by any means necessary.

The tenets of non-violent resistance are there, in part, along with a full dose of attitude. My boys rock their resistance with a comfortable ease. They know that they can get the best of mommy or daddy with a simple stiffening of the muscles.

To wit: committing Acts of Civil Disobedience entails lying oneself ramrod straight, on the ground, rigid as a tree. There is a beauty to the smooth transition to these Acts, as they often occur in a seemingly effortless and unexpected fashion. Let me explain.

You could be crossing the road, holding hands with two toddler boys, with another child in tow. All of a sudden, you're in the middle of the road with a truck or otherwise large vehicle barreling towards you at a rapid pace.

Suddenly, one, or perhaps two boys decide to commit Acts of Civil Disobedience - yes - right there in the middle of the road!

The beauty of this action is the fact that there is no warning at all. These Acts just occur naturally...just as the sun rises in the morning, or the moon appears at night.

You are forced to act quickly, whatever that may mean. In my case, it entails scooping up two 27 lb boys in both arms and shooing along a seven-year-old to the safety of the other side of the road.

By the way, my twins' cuteness allows them to get away with these Acts most times. Here are pictures of Erik and Aubrey respectively, taken today:

My questions this week have to do with Acts of Civil Disobedience.

Do your children commit Acts of Civil Disobedience?

What strategies do you use to deal with your kids when the stiffen out like a board or buckle their knees in the most inopportune moments?

Looking forward to your feedback!