Sanity Savers For Parents

I don’t know about you, but by my kids’ bedtime, my brain is useless. I’m usually lucky to be able to sit upright on the couch and fold a basket of laundry. (Putting it away is entirely beyond my 8 pm abilities.) This loss of productive time has pushed me to consider every task and interaction with the outside world to see if it can be done quicker or more simply–and sometimes, less perfectly. Since the twins came along, my new life motto is “Anything is better than nothing.” (As in, it’s okay to just pick up the obvious dust bunny nesting in the corner, if I don’t have the energy to mop and dust the entire room.) That’s a hard adjustment for a perfectionist like me, but we’re talking about sheer survival some days. Here are some tips that have helped us survive with a little less effort in parenting our kids, and a little more effort in parenting our dog. Yes, you read that right. 😉

Contents:

How To Not Be Scared By Your Calendar

How To Finish A Baby Book Without Any More Guilt

How To Be A Good Parent To Two-Legged and Four-Legged Kids

How To Not Be Scared By Your Calendar

By: Abby Plambeck

I hear from parents of older kids that, if we survive these toddler years, life gets a whole new kind of crazy with sports and activities. Because I can’t stand to stay home more than one day at at time, we’ve already gotten a taste of a hectic schedule. This family seems to thrive on it, but that’s only if we get where we need to go on time, and on the right day. I started using the online planning calendar at http://www.cozi.com a couple years ago and now our schedule is the one thing I feel in control of in a house with potty-training twins. I like the multiple methods Cozi uses to keep me on track: Via the website, mobile access, emails with each week’s schedule, and printable calendars by week and month. Each family member gets a color-coded dot, so I can see at a glance who needs to be where and at what time. There are other helpful features as well, including task and shopping lists, a family journal, and meal planning tools and recipes. You can also sync your Cozi calendar with other online calendars from schools or sports teams. When those calendars are changed, your Cozi calendar is updated automatically.

There are other online calendars and planning tools as well. These are just a few: Google (http://tinyurl.com/6hwf6zd), PlumLife (http://www.plumlife.com/), and HomeLife by Day-Timer (http://tinyurl.com/bty5m84). Take a look to see which one works best for your family, or do an Internet search to find even more choices. Now, we just have to figure out how to get the kids out the door on time!

How To Finish A Baby Book Without Any More Guilt

By: Abby Plambeck

If you have unfinished baby books languishing in a closet like I do, never fear! Use Facebook to record your kids’ milestones or funny things they say. First, set your privacy settings to “Friends,” so only your best buddies and family can see it, not the whole world. Update your status each time there’s a highlight to remember. You can go back later to copy and paste your statuses into a word-processing document and print them. To see your previous posts, click “Older Posts” at the bottom of your profile page. I’ve gone back as far as 6 months, which is a tad overwhelming, so I now try to review my posts monthly. Facebook also has a fun feature that shows your status from the current date a year ago. Even if you never get around to actually writing the information IN the baby book, you’ll have a printed record to show your kids in the future and you might impress them with your technological smarts!

How To Be A Good Parent To Two-Legged and Four-Legged Kids

By: Abby Plambeck

This Tuesday Tip is old news, but sometimes reminders are useful. Do you share your home with an animal? We have the privilege of being parents to a paraplegic dachshund along with our three human kids. Ernie Dog was the first child in our family, so he’s pretty spoiled. (Is it shameful that the dog gets to sleep in our big bed, but the kids never have?! On the other hand, we now have incredibly independent and happy sleepers who don’t WANT to sleep with us, and that works well for our family.)

I’ve observed a lot of child-animal interactions since we had kids, and have been surprised by how often there’s a lack of common sense on the part of grownups. Sometimes including myself! As much as I love my dog, he’s proven that when food or his special toys are nearby, he naturally assumes any kids hanging around are going to steal his stuff. Our Miss Toddler learned that when she was 2. She grabbed his bone and got a pretty big gash in her finger from his teeth.

That was a hard moment. True, the dog shouldn’t have bit her. But also true, she shouldn’t have taken his bone away. And most true of all, Mom and Dad should have been watching closer and prevented it. Our solution was to not give the dog bones anymore, to train him to calm down around kids, and to teach our kids to stay away when his food and special toys are out. We had a few other close calls during playdates when kids ran up and hugged him, so we’re now much more vigilant when visitors arrive, and put him in a different room during playdate mealtimes.

Our bottom line is that we should have researched dachshunds more before we got one, since we planned on having children. The breed is known for not being good with kids, as one sweet, but forgetful neighbor repeatedly told us every time we passed each other on walks. But since we have both in our house, we try to be responsible parents to both. We’re more aware of how to prevent trouble between Ernie Dog and kids now, but I’m surprised at the parents who don’t share the responsibility for making sure their kids respect an unfamiliar animal. When I was growing up, I was taught that I shouldn’t run at or pet an unfamiliar dog without asking an adult, and certainly to never put my face close to a dog’s.

We’ve been on the other end of the spectrum with a couple large dogs in our neighborhood too. Twice when we passed their house on walks, they ran across the street toward us, growling, with hackles raised, and chased us. One of them went after Ernie Dog’s neck, and I flipped out for the safety of my then 3 year old and 1-year-old twins. What if my kids had run up to those dogs and tried to hug them? The dogs were unrestrained and it could have had a very bad ending.

Actually, I’m shocked by the number of unrestrained dogs in our neighborhood. On another walk, a smaller dog ran out of his yard and peed on our stroller. The owner was outside and saw it happen, but didn’t say a word to us. We’ve also had a neighbor’s dog from a block away in our yard several times. The last time, I had the garage door and house door open while I loaded the kids into the car, and that dog suddenly appeared in my garage and ran into the house! We were rushing to get to preschool, and I had to take time to chase someone else’s dog out of MY house! Ernie Dog and the kids were in the minivan, and when I finally got the dog out of the house, he jumped into the back seat of the van, ate some cracker crumbs off the floor, and trounced right through and out the other side. It still boggles my mind that I had to use my time to chase someone else’s dog out of my house when the family had been notified about their dog being loose before.

There, I’ll step down off my soapbox, but please, animal owners, be responsible! Let’s restrain our pets and watch our kids around unfamiliar animals. No matter how many Halloween costumes we put on our pets, or cute photos we have of them with our kids, the reality is that they’re animals and have animal instincts about food and territory. Let’s be good parents to all the creatures under our roofs. Even pets might occasionally need a timeout!

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