Posts Tagged ‘moms’

Can a Stay-at-Home-Mom Really Play Hooky?

I’m playing hooky today.  Sorta. 

Today’s one of the days my tot and I go to “gym class,” AKA “R-U-N like mad and kick balls around!!”  Usually I’m gun-ho about going as I too get to run–I mean, chase–around the gym.  It’s good exercise, if not a little frustrating when your tot is the one who insists on doing things “her way.”  Anyway, I do get to hang out with some neat people for an hour that are over the age of 2.  Not all bad, considering.

 Alas, playing hooky isn’t what it used to be, as in the days when I’d call in “sick” to work or skip a class at college.  Back then, I would have had the whole day to myself, to take a long and lengthy bubble bath while reading the morning paper, then sit immersed in some horrible guck on TV while chomping on chips and wearing my comfy robe all day.  Bliss, especially considering the work world I exited a few years ago.

But as a SAHM and writer, the traditional concept of playing hooky is well…just a concept now.  Because I’m still at home, which is my place of work.  I’m just choosing not to write today, but then again, here I am blogging!  And if I’m at home, there’s always something around the house I can be doing, such as painting that master bath, laundry, cleaning–you get the gist.  Not exactly the mental/physical break that playing hooky used to promise.

But I’m not giving up on it!  Instead, to honor the truant in my who once was, I hereby vow not to do any chores today and to indulge in some sophomoric television whilst the tot naps.  Otherwise, I will exchange my PJs for sweat pants and a t-shirt and play on the floor with my girl all morning, indulging my inner child.

Hrmm…not so bad, come to think of it!  And it won’t count as an absence or spent vacation day, either ;>

Advertisements

Lessons I Learned at Toddler Swim Classes

Yang Mommy

This is my second tour of duty at toddler swim classes.  During my time, I’ve learned some invaluable nuggets of wisdom that I’d like to share with all you brave parents and care-givers, who are willing to get kicked, splashed and mauled in the water with a toddler.  (Please note that if I haven’t experienced the below scenarios, I’ve assuredly witnessed them!)

Ten Things I’ve Learned at Aquatots

  • Arrive early to class.  Putting a swimsuit on an excited 2 yr old is like trying to catch fish with your bare hands.  It takes patience!
  • Establish your pool rules.  Do it before leaving the comfort of your home, again in the ride over, again in the locker room and again on the pool deck.  repetition, repetition!  Else wise, you may end up with the dreaded “time-out.”
  • Don’t be afraid/hesitant/embarrassed to issue a “time-out” while in the pool.  You may need to sit them on steps or on the side of the pool, but discipline is discipline, no matter the locale.  Don’t worry, only the teenage lifeguards will give you strange looks if your child is howling in protest; the rest of the parents will be eyeing you with sympathy as they think, “Oh, glad it’s  not my child.”
  • Bring extra swim diapers.  Even if your tot is pretty good at using the toilet at home, there’s something about the pool that decreases inhibitions about peeing in it.  And, you never know what harried parent may  have forgotten their own supply of “swimmies!”  (And don’t forget the wipes, too!)
  • Bring two towels.  Yes, sounds like a “duh” but I’ve seen several parents shivering on the pool deck after class because they only brought one towel with them for their kid.
  • Bring a snack.  It’s simple enough to bring in a granola bar or piece of fruit and some juice for the after-swim time.  Kids get really hungry after all that water play.  So either tote it along in your bag or keep it in the car, but please, feed those hungry kiddies!
  • Wear water-proof mascara, ladies.  If you’re going to wear any at all, make sure it’s water-proof.  Nothing scarier than seeing a woman enthusiastically tell her child to “Jump in, honey!”  while tears of black run down her face like a crazed clown.
  • Wear appropriate swimsuits.  Toddler swim classes are not the place to flaunt your sexy new string bikini and flash your mammories (or Speedos, men).   Unless you want the lifeguard to ogle you as your top inevitably falls off because your child just saw a crazed clown and is clinging to you like a rabid monkey.
  • Follow your instincts in the water.  Most aquatot classes are designed for 1-3 year olds.  They’re not going to graduate the class knowing the butterfly stroke!  The intention with most of these classes is simply to get your child used to the water, having their ears and head under the water, and knowing to kick up if they are indeed,  under water.  So even if the instructor is bellowing out orders to “Float on your stomachs!” and your tot doesn’t want to, OK.  Don’t force them, just encourage them.  And if they really don’t want to, then at least you’re having fun with them in the water.
  • Leave the cameras at home.  I understand you want pics of your kids swimming and jumping, but if you are the only parent at the pool, there is absolutely no place for a camera.  All your attention must be focused on your child at all times.  Instead, leave the shutterbugging to a friend or spouse.
  • Have fun!  Most of all, enjoy your time in the water with your tot.  Even if the diaper’s leaking and they’re sitting on the steps screaming about not wanting to be in time-out because they pulled your swimsuit straps down for the third time.  Even then…

YIN:

My daughter started taking swim lessons around the age of 8 months because we live in Florida and there are numerous accidents and deaths every year in the state when kids fall in pools/lakes/canals and don’t know what to do. I was determined to get her in some sort of class early on so that a fear of water would not overcome her and she could have a healthy respect for it. 

My daughter took a very different swim class than the one Yang describes above.  And to that I say “thank goodness!”  I don’t think I could handle a swimming class with multitudes of children of different levels splashing around while I’m in the pool with them.   It’s just not my thing.  My daughter had individualized instruction and the term “swimming lessons” is really a misnomer.  It was more of a learning how to turn over and stay afloat if the baby falls in the water – the very basics for a tiny child. 

This was perfect for us.  I got to stay on the sidelines (and take the pictures) while my daughter and her instructor had their 20 minute lesson three times a week. At first the thought of going that often was daunting but the lessons were in the morning so she just went before going to daycare and I went to work a little late those days.  She didn’t like it getting in the pool at the start but eventually she warmed up to her teacher and the pool. 

Unfortunately due to some health issues my daughter hasn’t been able to continue her swimming lessons.  The group that certified her teacher, Infant Swimming Resource, is very strict and if the child has had certain illnesses in a restricted time period they can’t continue the lessons.  While this is a little challenging, I appreciate their concern and anticipate my daughter taking lessons again soon.  When she does start up again she’ll still be in individual classes as she progresses and I think I’ll keep it that way for a while so she can get personalized attention. 

My best tip to anyone, no matter where they live, to get your child swimming lessons as soon as possible.  Not only is swimming great exercise and a perfect way to cool down on a hot day, but according to the Center for Disease Control “fatal drowning remains the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death in children ages 1 to 14”.  If you’re not sure where to get swimming lessons from check out ISR or your local YMCA. Or ask a friend who has a child who takes lessons.  No matter the type of swimming class you choose for your child, it could be something that eventually saves their life.

A Few Ruminations on “The Girls from Ames”

Recently I was able to switch gears and put down the Dr Seuss library in favor of a book aimed at my demographic.  Yang Daddy was gracious enough to continue the rhyming with our tot while I dug into an “adult” book all about a special group of women and their friendships.

The Girls from Ames, by Jeffrey Zaslow, is a biography of sorts of 11 women who have been friends since childhood through to present day; they are now in their mid-forties.  Some of the women have been friends since toddlerhood, others since elementary or middle school.  Each woman appears to have one strong bond with another woman, a “best friend” in the group if you will, and then all these best friends are also close to each other.  As the author reflects, “they were (are) their own little clique.”

The story of their continuing friendship was amazing to read, mainly in part because it’s true and not a work of fiction.  Plus, it was interesting to read their story as written by a male journalist, and not by one of the Girls.  Through extensive research and many interviews, Zaslow has pulled together an intriguing and complex portrait of their friendship over the years.  In fact, it seems as if I, the reader, were sitting down at the reunion dinner table with them, listening to their stories and anecdotes.

As I read The Girls from Ames, I imagined what kind of friendships my own daughter would form.  Would the young children she plays with now be around in another year, 10 years, or even 20 years?   One can only wonder.  The book also caused me to reflect on my own friendships, which at times during my read, either brought me great joy for those bonds that have remained strong and good, or some sadness and regret for those friends that have parted ways.  And more so, the book struck home to me that it is indeed, a lot of work to keep a good friendship going.

People in America today are busier than ever and distractions abound, from texts and IMs to just keeping house and getting the family hither and yon.  It isn’t easy to always make time to catch up with a friend, whether that’s picking up the phone or dashing off a quick note (email).  Sometimes I wish I could just communicate with them telepathically while I juggle all my other tasks! I have friends I chat with on a daily basis and others with whom I only catch up with every few months, maybe even once a year.  And although I wish we’d all keep in touch more, and be larger parts of each other’s lives, those times that we do connect feel as if we’ve never stopped hanging out.  (And TG for social media sites too, but their impact on friendships is an entire other story!)

Over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that making friends is easier than maintaining them.  I attribute it both to the stage of life myself and my friends now inhabit as well as it just being a by-product of the culture I live in. Today, having a to-do list a mile long is envious and to some, even seen as prosperous  (but if you look at some of these schedules, I’d say “preposterous” is more like it) as opposed to only desiring the Jones’ green lawn a few decades ago.  But these Iowa friends have pulled it off, maintaining and growing their relationships over the years, giving and taking through the good and the bad times.  It takes work; but anything that’s worth its salt takes work, right?

The Girls from Ames is a delightful read and one in which you can percolate on and ruminate about later.  While having that many close friends may be more extraordinary than ordinary, we can definitely learn from these Iowa girls that it pays off in the end.

So with that, I’m off to the store to get a box of notecards and pen a few personal notes to my own circle of friends.  Or at least, dash off a few email missives!

Christmas is Here!

YIN:

Christmas is only a few days away and I’m still not quite ready. Would I ever be? Probably not. I work really well under pressure. But I do wish I still had a few more weeks. Not so I could shop some more but so I could hear more Christmas songs, eat more cookies and still have anticipation for the big day.

But alas the day must come and here it is. I plan on trying to enjoy the day and relax. There will be some stress (I still haven’t finalized my dinner menu – thank goodness my mother-in-law offered to bring the ham) but I’m praying I don’t let it get to me. At the end of the night I’ll read my daughter the Christmas story and hope that both our bellys and hearts are full.

Here’s to everyone having a wonderful Christmas. If you are of another faith may you have a nice quiet day to reflect on your own beliefs with your family. Now bring on 2010 and my high school 20th reunion!

YANG:

I can’t wrap my head around the fact that it’s nearly here…WOW!  Where has the time gone?!?  But guess what–rather than stressing out over these final days, I’m going to just kick back and in the words of the Beatles, just “let it be.” 

No worries if that  last batch of cookies got burnt or if I mistakenly bought the wrong size of clothing for someone. So what if my tot keeps hiding tree ornaments in the couch or if I have a steadily growing pine needle mountain on the floor. And I’ve come to accept that I just can’t get out all the Christmas cards I had planned on mailing prior to the 24th; receiving them before 2010 is still an esteemable goal.  Nope, I’m not going to fret; I’m just going to let it be.

Besides, for my family, this Christmas season has already been more poignant than others.  It’s the first without my mom who passed away in January (RIP), and the last family Christmas for my SIL for some time, who travels off to a new job across the world in the coming summer. I can’t stress about the little things when nostalgia is overflowing our stockings and the need to make fun memories for everyone ranks high on all our wish lists. 

No, I’m letting it all be. I know that memories of  my mom will come whether beckoned or not,  and that I just have to ride the wave when certain ones threaten to tear me open. I also know that memories for the future are inescapabably made, whether they’ll be fond ones or not. And I’m sure there will be some tears of joy and of sorrow, just as I’m certain there will be enough raucous laughter to haunt the halls when all the holiday merriment has ended. 

“Let it be” is my mantra now. I’ve done all that I could to make this a special Christmas for my family and friends. Now I’m going to focus on the love I have for each and every one of them. After all, when we get right down to it, the holiday season for all faiths and walks of life centers around Love. Not cookies, not presents or glossy cards. Just love, in all its glorious facets.

So may your holidays be filled with love and laughter, health and happiness. Merry Christmas all and Happy Holidays!

Dear Mall Kiosk Workers…

Dear Mall Kiosk Workers,

This is not meant as a complaint letter. No, it’s more of a plea for understanding; for compassion, upon us mom mall shoppers, esp with tots in tow, and  more so that it is the holiday season.

Now, I know your job is not the most stellar of occupations. I understand that you need to get people to come over to your kiosk and hopefully, buy your product. As someone who has worked in marketing for over 15 years, I really do “get” what you have to do.

But PLEASE, don’t ask me “a quick question” when you see me trying to wrangle my tot away from the up escalator. Or see me pushing the stroller that’s piled high with teetering bags and a crying babe. Or notice that I’m trying my best not to notice you because I’ve already scouted out your wares several yards ahead and I’m doing my best to create a route of “friendly avoidance” but you’re obviously not taking my hint.

And for goodness sake (more so your sake than mine, actually), DO NOT EVER, EVER step in front of me and said tot /stroller /armload of bags and ask me your “quick question.” DO NOT BLOCK my exit route from your stall. If I wanted your products in the first place, I’d make a beeline towards you (that does not include when chasing tots who have run to your stuffed animal display).

Thank you for your understanding.

Yang Mommy

PS I also know the days I look harried because I tend to wear a cute hat, so DO NOT say in a loud voice (to be heard over the cacophony of the mall music), “Ma’m, how do you style your hair?” DUH–if I had the time to style it do you really think I’d have slapped on this hat?!

Save a Little Money

YIN:

Even though we’re a two income family, like lots of others right now we’re living on a strict budget. But even before the ecomony went south, I was always a bit of a cheapskate. And proud of it : ) 98% of the time I don’t purchase anything that’s not on sale. I use coupons whenever I can. And I love to get tips on how others save. So here are some of my tips on how parents can save a little money.

Kid’s eat free: I never understood the greatness of this tip until I had a child. If you’re looking to go out for a break or a treat, only go to places that let your little one pick something off the kid’s menu for free when you purchase something. You can Google ‘kids eat free’ or if you have an iPhone you can get an app for that. Or ask your other mom friends for suggestions. Just be sure to read all the rules and regulations.

Coupons: Did you know Target (one of my favorite stores) allows you to use one of their store coupons along with a manufacturer’s coupon? What a deal! People have told me they don’t clip coupons because it takes too much time. But it doesn’t take that much time and is well worth it. If you’re not in the mood to clip your own coupons you could always purchase some on eBay (really).

Clothes: Children’s clothes are expensive. Expensive! It seems like such a waste but I like my daughter to look cute. What’s a cheapskate to do? Go to Goodwill! Find one that is close to a well-to-do area because of course they’ll drop their kids’ clothes off and rich people will purchase high end things. At my Goodwill infant clothes are $1.19 each. I’ve found a mini University of Florida cheerleader outfit (that retails for about $60), clothes with the tags still on them, and a pink Laura Ashley step stool I got for $7. Also try consignment shops or trade clothes with your friends who have children in a similar age range. My daughter even has worn boy’s clothes if I find them at the right price.

Buy inexpensive, not cheap: There is a big difference between buying something that is inexpensive and something that is cheap. I’ve learned the hard way that cheap things don’t last and you end up spending extra money to replace it. I don’t shop for myself a lot (because I don’t like to go to the mall) but when I do, a lot of times I’ll head to stores like Ann Taylor or Banana Republic and go straight to the sales racks. There are times I’ll find things I wasn’t looking for but I can’t leave behind. An example is a pair of khakis that fit perfectly I got at Banana Republic for $4.99. Of course I don’t find those kind of crazy deals all the time but when I do I don’t let it go. The trick is to shop off season. Guestimate your child’s size for next year and grab that swimsuit in October or that sweater in April.

Do you have any great tips on how you save money for your family? Pass them on – I’d love to hear about them!

P.S. You’ve probably noticed that Yang Mommy didn’t post on this subject. She loves to save too but to post a little more often we’re going to periodically post on our own. Don’t worry – we’ll still be posting together on a pretty regular basis!