Other People’s Children

We’re getting to the stage in our house where we’re having regular playdates, on top of going to groups and kindy meetings.

And I’ve gotta tell you, I’m feeling challenged.

See, I know my kids are no angels. But when they act out, I’m on – no matter where we are. Bad behaviour is bad behaviour and I don’t want them to learn that they can get away with it when I’m not in the immediate vicinity.

But where I’m really having a tough time is when other people’s kids act out – and their parents do nothing. Be it a temper tantrum, throwing toys or food, being mean or rough to other kids, or being rude to adults, I’ve seen it all in the last few months. And I’m getting to a point where I really can’t ignore it any more.

MetroParent.com has some suggestions I thought were helpful:

Most parents subscribe to the belief that they absolutely do not correct or discipline another child unless the child’s behavior is particularly egregious.

“You have to be so careful,” says Carla Wheeler of Harrison Township. “People are very sensitive about their kids. They take it really personally if you say anything to their kids that could come off as critical. We all know this. I’m even like that myself.”

That’s why parents choose to focus only on their own children unless there is something going on that reaches emergency-status. But there are times when that’s just not possible.

“Rule No. 1 is have fun, and ‘fun’ means fun for everyone,” says Laurie Gray, an Indiana attorney and the founder of Socratic Parenting. “Any bullying, exclusion, destruction of property is easily characterized as ‘not fun’ for the person being bullied, excluded or otherwise disrespected, and it’s more effective to redirect the kids to something that is fun for everyone than to just keep saying, ‘Don’t do that’ or ‘Stop it.’

“Rule No. 1 empowers kids to stand up for themselves and others. And it’s a rule they can take with them and use at school and other activities,” she adds…

Wheeler says it comes down to some simple dos and don’ts: “Don’t be reactive. Don’t jump to conclusions. Do protect other children. Do make calm corrections.”

It’s tough for me to keep all this in mind. I’m really focusing on building good relationships with the other parents so that if stuff does come up, I can mention it to them, or that if they’re not around, I can handle it an have them trust I’ve done the right thing.

How do you handle this tricky territory?

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Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Had Kids

You know, everyone has an opinion for you when you’re pregnant (and sometimes before you even get to that stage!) – and working through them all can get exhausting. It’s tough to graciously listen to everyone who has advice, whether it’s asked for or not, and to actually take what’s important from those conversations.

I should know – I’ve been on the receiving end a few times now.

And I didn’t listen. To much of anything, to be honest. My first pregnancy I was just holding on for dear life! I was terrified, and couldn’t get out of my own head. I’d heard so many horror stories that I just stopped listening and lost myself in reading books that told me how fabulous it was all going to be.

Second time around, it was a different attitude. I’d done it all before. I knew exactly what was coming, and so why bother filling my head with other people’s chatter? I knew my body and thought everything would be just the same.

By the third pregnancy, I should have known better. No pregnancy is the same, but I managed to convince myself it was all predictable.

Ah, the hubris. My ego definitely gets the better of me when I’m pregnant.

Because let’s be honest – sometimes the most important stuff you could ever learn comes from other people who have had different experiences of a similar process.

So in an effort to help other mamas (or mamas-to-be) out there, here are the things I wished I’d listened to before I had my babies:

Babies are not a science experiment

Welp. I definitely approached motherhood like I should be able to make a hypothesis, test a method or two, then be settled on the best solution that would work every time. FALSE. Babies are so unpredictable. The thing that worked a few days ago when baby was screaming after feeding, for some inexplicable reason, did not work the next time!

Buying oh-so-cute baby clothes

They just get vomited on all the time. Half the time baby is in a diaper and a beanie and nothing else, because literally every article of clothing has some sort of effluvia on it. Even if you had 5 times as many clothes, they would still ALL be filthy. Don’t bother buying cute stuff until baby is toilet-trained and no longer spontaneously puking.

All Organic Everything

Seriously. It’s so not a problem. You’ll practically kill yourself trying to find organic, chemical free etc etc food, laundry powder, clothing. And your baby will not care. So unless it has a reaction to something, save yourself the time, energy and money. You need all three of those things in spades when you have a baby, so don’t waste them on stuff that makes literally no difference to your child’s development.

Packing for a Month Every Time You Go Out

Not necessary. A spare diaper, some wipes and a bottle are enough. And maybe a sweater if it’s cold. But really. You’re not going to have some wild disaster. And if you do, any store will have whatever you need to get through it. Stop ruining your spine with ‘just in case’ stuff.

I could go on and on. Maybe at some point I will. But another piece of advice I never listened to was that once you have kids, you never have a second to yourself… and that’s possibly the truest piece of advice of all.

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I Just Need Some Space!

BOY OH BOY what a few weeks this family has had. Between going to play dates, having a nasty cold go through the kiddos one by one, and then having some family from out of town come to stay? I’m beat.

And really I don’t have a lot to write about. I’m not feeling inspired – I’m feeling 100% drained. Much as I love my kids and hubby, there are moments when I just feel so claustrophobic! There’s just nothing left for me when I’m done giving to them.

But you know, there’s really nothing to be gained from complaining. I was talking to a girlfriend about it this morning, and it’s so true that every mom goes through this. She also sent me this hilarious parody video, so today I’m offering you that instead of my profound inner thoughts!

This lady is so funny, she’s done a bunch of these videos, but this one (covering Meghan Trainor’s ‘All About That Bass’) is my fave. “I Just Need Some Space” – enjoy!

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What To Expect When You’re Expecting!

If you’ve been pregnant at any time during your life, I’m sure you’ve at least thumbed through a copy of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” by Heidi Murkoff.  This book was one of the very first gifts I received when I found out I was expecting my first child, Tyler.  I read it cover to cover – some sections more than once.  It became my pregnancy bible.

When I found out I was expecting my second child, Mindy, I immediately picked up my rather worn copy and thumbed through it again to refresh my memory.  Because we all know amnesia sets in prior to the second child’s arrival and then we are suddenly reminded of all the pleasantries – and not so pleasant – experiences that come along with pregnancy and impending labor.

And while I’m somewhat sure our family of five is complete now that Jake has joined us, my pregnancy bible still sits on my bookshelf today.  I’m not sure I’ll ever part with it but rather pass it along to my daughter once she is expecting her first child.

So expect my delight when I heard a movie had come out with an all star cast based on this best seller!  And what’s even more exciting is that I was given the opportunity to get the inside scoop on the cast and their characters in the movie.

And I have to say, Elizabeth Banks has to be one of the funniest women today – a true natural talent.  Her character already has me in stitches.  And let’s not forget the dads in the movie – too funny.

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Raising Your Kids Right

Lately I’ve been discussing with the hubby and some of our friends what it is we truly want to teach our kids.

Some things are obvious, others not so much. We all want our kids to grow up to be responsible, contributing, good people – but what’s the best way to make sure that happens?

I floated this with an older neighbor, and she suggested it was taking them to church and whipping them when they misbehaved… Not really our style, so I took it further afield. Women at play group suggested things like socialising your kids early and in a wide variety of situations, while other acquaintances said you had to give strong guidelines for every situation to make them disciplined.

I think maybe a few people missed the point of what I was asking – I wanted to delve into what particular lessons my kids would need to grow into great people, rather than how to deliver effective lessons day by day.

After a few of these dead-end conversations, I took it up again with Jerry. We brainstormed the things that we wanted to instil in our kids, and how we could do these well:

  • Being kind and gentle. It’s important to learn this when you’re young, as it can be hard to remove bitterness or hardness from an adult. We thought we could start with getting an animal – showing the kids how to care for someone, how to be gentle, considerate and responsible into the bargain.
  • Being honest and responsible. No one likes a liar or a flake. We don’t want kids like that, so we decided that as they reach an appropriate age, we’ll start giving them roles to be responsible for. Not chores, like making your bed or sweeping the path, but things like choosing a meal for the week and giving me a shopping list for it. Or volunteering with the neighbors when they need help. Things that will teach them to step up and be engaged in their own lives and the lives of people around them.
  • Being hardworking and ambitious. We want our kids to be successful and secure, so we’ll be encouraging them to get jobs and to come up with ventures that will bring them income. We’ll help them set up savings accounts, regulate their spending and teach them how to avoid getting into debt.

These are really important aspects to us when it comes to raising our kids. We won’t get it right all the time, and things might not work out how we plan, but we’re going to give this our very best efforts.

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Why Is Feeding Your Kids So Controversial?

Boy oh boy. Yesterday I walked right into a conversational landmine, which in hindsight, I should have seen coming a mile away.

We go to a local playgroup once or twice a week so that the kids can meet some other little ones in their age groups and have some fun in a different environment. I usually really enjoy talking to the other moms, as it’s a great way to feel connected to the outside world and to have someone be able to really relate to what your life is like right now.

Usually we would go to a morning playgroup session, so that Jake can have a nap in the afternoon. Yesterday didn’t pan out that way though – he had slept badly the night before, so had fallen asleep right on the floor not long before we would have usually left! I didn’t have the heart to wake him, so we went to the afternoon session.

This meant that there was a snack time in the middle of the playgroup. I pulled out some fruit sticks for Tyler and Mindy and some crackers, and off they went. One of the other mothers commented that she didn’t think such artificial foods were good for kids, and that maybe I should consider trying out the new vegan store up the road.

I was a bit taken aback, since it’s not like I was feeding them candy and cookies. I said I thought they were just fine… which obviously rubbed her the wrong way, and it all went downhill from there!

This lady took it upon herself to lecture me on how preservatives and additives can mess with the developmental process, and that ‘burdening your children with a chemical load is irresponsible and abusive parenting.’

I nearly choked on my latte.

Since when are fruit sticks and crackers the Devil’s food? Since when did snacks become so dangerous? And who the hell gives someone the right to tell me I’m abusing my kids for feeding them?! I know living in Portland there is a higher proportion of vegans and food activists, but it’s uncommon to find a mother with young children of her own being so judgmental.

I mean, really. When did food become so controversial?


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Crafting With Kids

Crafts are such an essential part of our day to day routine that I can’t imagine how any got by before the days of Walmart and their giant crafts section!

While Jake is still a bit young to do anything more than crawl around, Mindy and Tyler love spending hours on making art and crafts. They get into it all – drawing, making paper chains, building popsicle stick houses, painting, macaroni jewelry, beading, and everything in between.

It’s especially fun to do around big seasonal events. Easter, 4th of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas make excellent crafting opportunities! We’ve been working on some 4th of July goodies this week.

The two of them helped me to put together a really cute wreath to go on the door, made up of miniature American flags and strips of red, white and blue ribbons. They’ve been making ‘fireworks’ paintings, where you drop a whole bunch of colorful paints onto the middle of a big piece of paper, then fold the paper up so that all the colors get all mixed up, then open it out to dry. When they are all finished we will cut them out to remove the white space, and hang them up around the house instead of getting actually fireworks, which are a bit too dangerous with little ones around.

Crafting with kids is great for a variety of reasons.

  • It keeps them occupied like nothing else.
  • It encourages them to be creative and productive, instead of passive like they are when they watch TV
  • It’s a fairly quiet activity, so I can put some music on for them and then put Jake down for a sleep – bliss!
  • The kids wind up satisfied and proud of themselves when they produce something cool
  • It teaches them to be comfortable with self-expression, as well as how to articulate an idea into reality
  • They are noticeably happier after a few hours of painting or building. It seems like the process of production gives them a sense of meaning or importance.
  • It helps improve their coordination (both bilateral and the fine motor skills), it teaches them patience and sequential thinking, and encourages them to think critically.

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Touch Therapy For Kids

Here in Portland, Oregon, there is a real movement towards holistic therapies. Not only is this one of the most green, organic, and hippe-heavy towns in the US, but it’s full of practitioners who want to help people be pain-free and in touch with themselves.

Now, usually I would NOT be taking my babies with me if I were to go get a massage. Grandma would be coming down for a few hours and I’d be off like a rocket!

But recently a clinic opened up that’s connected to one of the Montessori schools some friends send their kids to. They do family-based massage and touch therapy for kids.

Infant massage has been around for a few years to help with stressed, overtired or colicky babies, but it’s a fairly new thing to massage toddlers or kids. It’s being used to help kids with behavioural issues, stressful home situations or who are just highly strung.

On top of helping these kids calm down, it also helps build sensory awareness, improves immune function and can improve breathing and heart function, so there is a lot of benefit in getting involved in touch therapy for kids.

Lately Mindy has been anxious and stressed – I think having a baby brother is taking its toll on her!

So when I heard about this therapy center I thought it would be a great thing for the four of us to do one afternoon. We all bundled into the car and went over there for an hour earlier this week.

It was so great. It was just what Mindy needed, and Tyler and even Jake seemed happier afterwards. There was a lot of singing and storytelling throughout the session, and the other kids there made it a fun playdate as well.

The clinic has been totally decked out by Massage World, and the therapists do an amazing job. Each therapist does 3 10-minute sessions per child, which is broken up with games and activities to keep the kids engaged.

When we got home, Mindy was all zenned out! It was hilarious – “Mom, I’ll eat everything. Just whack it all on there. I’ve gotta grow, you know.” Usually she’s the fussiest eater of them all! She slept like a log that night and has seemed much more calm and positive since then than she had been for weeks.

I think massage playdates are going to become a regular thing!

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The Benefits of Homeschooling

Home schooling is always a bit of a controversial subject, and when I mentioned in my last post that we are planning to homeschool our kids, I got a lot more responses than I expected!

Seeing as it’s mostly friends reading this blog at this stage, it was mostly people either being really excited at the idea, or worried for Tyler. The people who are excited are those who are considering doing the same thing, and the prospect of their kids having some other homeschooled friends solves their big concern of the kids not socializing properly.

For those who are worried, they pointed out that homeschooled kids can become prone to anxiety in large groups or new situations if they never go to school. It’s a valid concern, and I’m touched that everyone has our kids’ best interests at heart, but as I said – there are lots of other homeschoolers around, and I think they are going to end up in more unfamiliar situations this way than if they went to the same school every day.

There are a lot of reasons to homeschool, and it’s not a decision we took lightly.

Education is so important – we want to empower our kids, so these are the benefits of homeschooling that sold us:

  • Studies have found that most homeschooled kids turn out smarter than kids who go to normal schools. This is because homeschooling allows for such focused attention and troubleshooting if they are struggling with something.
  • Kids who homeschool are more enthusiastic about learning and less motivated by grades. They end up more curious and open to knowledge than they would if all they cared about was getting an A.
  • Homeschooled kids end up more independent. They learn to think outside the box and to approach situations more critically than their traditionally schooled peers.
  • Homeschooling provides a safe and positive environment for kids to learn and grow in. We want to provide our kids the best education possible, without the stress of bullies, mean teachers or the cruelty of other children.
  • A strong community of homeschoolers can provide much more diverse education opportunities than a traditional school setting. Getting together with other parents and doing group activities and classes not only gives your kid the socialization they need, but will also expose them to different types of thinking and life experience.

To everyone who contacted me about this, thank you.

Jerry and I both appreciate the time you took – it crystalised for us even further why we want to do this. And for those of you who will be embarking on the same path, I’m excited to share it with you!

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Welcome to OMPI!

I’ve gotta tell you, I’m not sure about that acronym! LOL. But hey – when it comes to the wonderful world of being a mom, nothing’s sure, so I guess it’s okay.

Thanks very much for coming to check out this little site. I’m thrilled that I’ve actually found some time to sit down and write… I think this is the first time in about 3 years that I’ve put any kind of thought down that wasn’t a shopping list!

To tell you a little bit about why I started One Mom’s Perfect Imperfection… I needed an outlet! I love my kids endlessly but you know what it’s like. Too many days talking like a toddler and pretty soon you start thinking like one, so I decided I’d start putting any ideas out here and helping other moms connect and support each other.

My babies are Tyler, who is 4, Mindy, who’s 3, and we’ve just had Jake, who is now 8 months. I can tell you, it’s a busy life! In fact, the only reason I’ve been able to sit down and get a few words down is that my mom and my aunt came to stay so I could take a couple days off while my husband Jerry is out of town.

We live in Portland, Oregon, and we absolutely love it here. We plan to homeschool the kids, starting next year with Tyler. There is a fantastic community here who are very likeminded so I am confident that it’s going to be a great success. There are plenty of Montessori schools around and so many community initiatives that our kids are going to grow up surrounded by creative, ethical, interesting people. It’s a great place to live.

I think that’s gonna do me for my first post – what an achievement! I’m so excited to start sharing my ideas with you, along with how I’m raising my babies, so we can help each other along. I’d love to hear your stories and maybe even do a meetup or two if there are enough people in the area.

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