Look To the Western Sky

A blog about single life as a parent & the dreams of a writer by Margo L. Dill

Tag: humor

Put the Parenting Magazines Down and Step Away Carefully

One day, my friend Julie said, “Have you seen the latest issue of (Insert some wonderful parenting magazine here) and their suggestions for back-to-school lunches?”

The funny thing is I had seen that article–I think it must have been a free issue sent to many houses, and I remember thinking: Do people really make these types of entrees for their child’s school lunch? Coconut and raisin pita roll up?  Almond butter and banana sandwich on 12-grain bread? Homemade minestrone soup? And do children eat these dishes? Where have I gone wrong?

Julie brought me back to reality. “My children basically eat cheese and crackers. Or their potato chips.”

Yes, now you are speaking my language.

I’m not sure who writes parenting magazine articles. Their bios state they are a parent of 12 or triplets, or they have adopted children from several different countries around the world, but I’m not sure if I believe them. Or maybe their bios are the only true part of the entire page, because really, who lives their lives like the parents in parenting magazines?

Let’s take a couple of headlines for example:

25 Ways to Make the Holidays Special 

First, no headline of any parenting magazine should ever have more than 5 tips for anything, and even 5 is semi-overwhelming. Do you really need to read a magazine article about how to make the holidays special? Aren’t they special all on their own? Isn’t it magical as a kid to think of the big guy in a red suit coming down the chimney, eating your homemade chocolate chip cookies and drinking your milk, and leaving you presents that you asked for? It’s also special that your entire family gets together and eats a meal, and maybe even plays a game instead of watching Netflix. Driving around and looking at Christmas lights or watching a Christmas movie snuggled under a blanket is special! Trust me. You don’t need a magazine article to tell you how to make this magical time of the year magical. You can figure this out all on  your own with the same things your mom did for you BEFORE there were articles like this at your fingertips or pinned to your Pinterest board.

Is Your Child Getting Enough Sleep?

Please don’t read an article like this. If you are clicking on this article to see if your child is getting enough sleep, then the answer is probably that your child is not getting enough sleep. Enough said.

How to Play with Your Child

I am all for articles that might introduce new games or even craft ideas (if they are easy) for you and your child. But do you really need an article that tells you HOW to play with your child at an age-appropriate level? No, you really don’t. It will just stress you out. You will be ridden with anxiety after reading this article and wonder constantly if you are playing with your child correctly and stimulating him or her enough to become smart enough to get into the best preschool. And don’t worry, there are articles galore (10 Ways to Tell if Your Preschool is On the Cutting Edge) to help you stress out about this, too.

SO what should you read?

I really feel like Mommy blogs, such as The Tribe Magazine  or Scary Mommy , are much more realistic and helpful. Some of you may be shaking your head. But just like Pinterest and sometimes the Facebook fantasy world we all portray are too much for me, I can’t believe that people live their everyday lives like these writers for parenting magazines portray. I can’t believe that people need articles telling them 12 ways to diaper their child or 13 toys that help your baby reach super intelligence.

So please, do yourself a favor (and the rest of us, too). Step slowly away from the parenting magazines and love your child because you are the only one who knows how to do that the best.

 

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4 Tips to Control What Goes In and Comes Out of Your Mouth

I made a sign for my bulletin board that said: “THINK: Before food goes in and words come out!” One night after I binged on potato chips and dip (my favorite comfort snack) and said something to someone I wished I had not, I jotted that down. Because we are always moving so fast and trying to accomplish so much, we often don’t give ourselves time to think. And let’s face it, the older we get and the more responsibilities we add to our plates, the more we have to make a conscious effort to think before we eat or speak.

Here are four tips I use to try to help me with this (besides keeping a sign with these words on my bulletin board):

banner-about-food-going-in-for-blog

  •  Have a confidant or confidants.

This is no-brainer. You’re going to be crabby sometimes. You’re not always going to say the right thing. People are going to piss you off.  But you really should think before you speak–you don’t want your neighbors to plan your move or your co-workers to take bets on who wants to throat punch you first. So you need a group of trusted friends, or at least one, where you can share your witty and sarcastic thoughts, instead of saying them directly to the people who are driving you crazy. I know this sounds like I’m advocating talking behind people’s backs. That’s the glass half-empty way of looking at this because everyone needs an outlet–that’s real life.

  • Don’t be around people who make you crazy.

I realize this is easier said than done. And if you can limit contact with people who drive you crazy, you won’t need to share so much with those confidants mentioned above. But there are some people in your life who you will not be able to avoid. For example–your adorable children, who can turn into little beasts when hungry, tired, and overstimulated. (This is why you need those confidants.) If it’s a co-worker who is rude, you don’t have much choice, except for the confidants or finding a new job. But I bet there are some people in your life who drive you crazy, and you don’t have to be around them. You are CHOOSING this. Why? Why are you doing this to yourself? (Look, I have been guilty, trust me–I know it is easier said than done!) If someone does not treat you with the respect and kindness you deserve, then you don’t have to be around this person. 

  • Make yourself write down the food you eat.

Now we get to the what goes in your mouth–or “a minute on the lips, a lifetime on the hips”.  If you have trouble with your eating habits, one thing I have found to work, to be aware of what I’m doing, is to write down everything I eat/drink. After I had my daughter, I went to Weight Watchers to lose the baby weight, and I found the program worked great. I know it’s not the answer for everyone, but one of the things they preach is: keep track of the food and the portions you eat.  I had to go back to Weight Watchers–I reached my goal about 7 months after Katie was born, and then had to go back when she was 3? But I have managed to keep it all off since then (almost 3 years) and stay well below my goal weight, using the principles of being aware (most days), portion control, balanced diet, and exercise–all things I learned from WW.

  • Don’t buy food you like.

Okay, maybe I should change that to don’ t buy junk food you like. I wouldn’t have binged on those chips and dip that I mentioned above if I wouldn’t have bought them. Ah, it seems so simple–I know it’s not. But if you have only healthy snacks that satisfy you, the chances of you putting on clothes to go out and buy junk food when it is late at night and the kids are in bed are much lower.  ESPECIALLY if you think about what goes into your mouth before you put it in. 🙂

 

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3 Ways to Make Your Life Easier as a Parent

We all know life as a parent (single or not) is NOT easy. If you think it is and you are doing a good job, then you should write a book or bottle your mojo because you’ll make a fortune. For the rest of us, and I know I’m not alone, despite what Facebook says, I have thought of 3 very simple ways to make your life easier as a parent.

1. Buy inexpensive trash cans.

I’m serious about this. Let me tell you why. Your bathroom or office trash can will at one point have child puke in it. Do you really want to clean that out? No, no one does. But if you only paid $1 or $2 for this trash can, you can just throw it away, and get another one from your stash in the basement. Because when you were buying your cheap trash can, you were smart enough to buy $10.00 worth, at least. This probably depends on how many kids or pets you have, but $10.00 on cheap trash cans (which means you should have at least 3 in storage and 1 in use) is a safe bet. If you’re wondering: how expensive can a trash can be? You should never wonder things like this in a world where we have celebrities who buy clothes for their babies who spit up and poop everywhere at high-end children’s boutiques. But I did a little online research, and the most expensive trash can I found with a quick search was a Harmony 737 Luxury Waste Basket made in Germany for $1,148. You, of course, would not even allow trash to be thrown in it, let alone your darling’s puke. Trust me, go get yourself a cheapo bathroom can, and make your life easier.

2. Don’t believe anything you read on social media, especially Pinterest.

Pinterest was created by Mrs. Satan. You are lured into her trap if you think it’s one of the best sites ever with all kinds of great ideas. Let me ask you this: before Pinterest, did you care if your child’s Toy Story birthday party had only the snacks with a Woody or Buzz theme? Of course not–sure the creative and talented among us might have made a Toy Story cake ourselves and maybe created some clever decorations or a space game, but that’s it. Nowadays, if your cake, child’s outfit, paperware, decorations, games, snacks, dog’s collar, mailbox, car, bathroom, and anything else DO NOT have a relation to the theme, you are slacking–you should have looked harder on Pinterest. I’m telling you TODAY, I am protesting against Pinterest. I’m sure it is a great site (I don’t want to get sued), but every time I’ve been on there, it makes me feel inferior and like I’m not doing enough for my child. Let me tell you, I love my child. I read with her. I cook her food. I don’t even make her clean the toilets–yet. So I don’t think I need Pinterest or anyone’s Facebook post to make me feel like I’m not doing enough. Stay off. Try it-even for a day, and see how free you feel.

3. Have low expectations

This is my favorite. As parents, we get all these ideas in our head about how an outing or a party or a playdate or a holiday is going to go and what a wonderful childhood memory we are going to create for our child, but then, something happens. For example, your child is 2 years old. I don’t have to say anything else. Or your dog ate something in the yard he shouldn’t. (Again, I don’t have to go into detail.) Or your electricity went out or your mom got sick or the 100,000 other things that can happen to take that perfect image you had of the day and wash it down the drain. Here’s what I do. Let’s take Christmas for example: what is important about Christmas? We are all together, Santa Claus brings some presents, and we don’t starve. Really, this is what’s important. Now, if we make it to the Christmas Eve service with my mom and a party afterwards–fantastic! If we open all the presents and there were no tears because something wasn’t the right color–super! If we eat turkey and stuffing that is cooked correctly–even better. But those are just bonuses. With low expectations, anything that happens above and beyond makes the holiday (outing, birthday, event) great, and you will probably be more relaxed and have fun, too. (Gasp! Can you imagine?)

I’d love to know if you have a tip for us. 🙂 Just put it in the comments below.

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