School is back in session for my kids. It's a pretty low-key event around here, no Facebook pictures or special outfits. We have very normal days now. That's in high contrast to how our days used to be.
Facebook recently reminded me of a disastrous morning we had getting to school a few years ago. We were rushing out the door, as usual. The kids had their breakfast in hand as they piled into the minivan. When we got about 2 miles from our house, my daughter started screaming about a spider crawling on the window. I rolled down the window, hoping it would go out, but it didn't. Fortunately, I had an empty coffee mug in the cup holder from the pervious day. I handed the cup to my daughter so she could smash the spider, but instead, she threw my cup at it! The spider and my mug flew out of the window!
I pulled over and ran to retrieve my mug from the side of the road. When I got back into the car, I told my kids to finish eating their breakfasts. That's when my daughter realized that she had been sitting in her toast and jelly while battling the spider. I handed her a roll of paper towels and kept on pushing, onward to school!
That was a horrendous morning. I don't know when the shift occurred, but we no longer have mornings like that. Those JACK'd up experiences are blurry memories that we can laugh at now, and I share them to let parents know that there is another side. The days are long and hard, but the years really do pass quickly.
One of your very first parenting tasks might be selecting a doctor for your unborn child. I suggest you interview at least 2, and choose the one that you feel most comfortable with. Below is a list of interview questions to ask.
What are your hours? What happens if my baby is sick after hours/weekend? Is there a 24-hour nurse's line?
Are you open on weekends?
Do you offer same-day sick appointments?
Do you have hospital privileges? If so, which hospitals?
What are your views on antibiotic use? Vaccinations? Breastfeeding beyond 1 year? Co-sleeping?
Do you have a lactation consultant on staff?
Questions to ask yourself:
Are there separate waiting rooms for sick and well children?
How did the staff treat you?
Were they receptive to doing an interview?
Did the doctor roll his/her eyes at any of your interview questions?
Were you rushed?
My track record for back-to-school is riddled with epic failures like the time I accidentally sent my daughter to her first day of school wearing pajamas. The worst may have been Back-To-School 2014. My kids were starting at a new school, and all of us were a little nervous. We had missed the open house and didn't have an opportunity to meet the teachers or see the classrooms. I dropped my children off in the morning car line and watched them walk into their beautiful new school, full of possibilities.
At the end of the day, I picked them up and listened excitedly as they recounted their days. They loved it! I breathed a sigh of relief. When we got home, I began sorting through the mountains of back-to-school papers to be filled out and signed. One of them stood out above all the rest.
As a way for the teacher to get to know her students, my daughter's 4th grade teacher had her students write about their families, favorite foods, favorite colors, and what they wanted to be when they grew up. I smiled as I read about my daughter's favorite food being sushi and her favorite color being yellow. But my jaw hit the ground when I read about her aspiration to dance on a pole! On the back of the paper, in red marker, her teacher wrote a note to me. She said she asked my daughter more about her desire to live in the mountains and to work as a pole dancer. She explained that my daughter meant the Cirque Du Soleil type of pole dancing and not the Club Nikki kind of pole dancing. What a first impression!
Carowinds is a local theme park that straddles North and South Carolina. My family has been season pass holders for many summers. My husband joined us on occasion, but usually I took all 4 kids on this adventure alone. I’ve done Carowinds with babies, small children, and now with teens. Here are my Top 10 Tips for Taking Tots to Carowinds:
5. Get a good parking space. When you arrive at the park, scan the parking area as soon as it’s in view. There’s a divider that prevents you from turning into the first several aisles of the parking lot. Be patient. As soon as there’s an opening, turn your steering wheel all the way to right and whip your minivan around the corner. Drive all the way down to that first aisle and look for an empty spot. That’s if you’re going to ride some of the attractions before hitting the water park. If it’s blazing hot and you want to go straight to the water park drive straight through the parking lot to the back entrance. Park as close to the water park area as possible.
6. The best times to go to Carowinds is during off-peak hours. I try to avoid evenings, weekends and holidays.
7. I don’t recommend taking valuables to Carowinds, but if you must, you can hide them inside a disposable diaper and stash it in your stroller. Otherwise, you could spend the extra cash and get a locker.
8. After entering the gates, go straight to guest services and ask for a Kid ID bracelet. The Kid ID bracelet contains your child’s name and your cell phone number. If your child is lost in the park and found by a security guard, the guard will take that bracelet off of your child and call you.
9. Use a waterproof pouch for your cell phone. That way you can keep it safely in your possession without having to worry about it getting damaged or stolen.
10. There are plenty of benches throughout the park, but if you're bashful about nursing in public or just want to kick your feet up in air conditioning, head to Planet Snoopy. There's a blue house across from the carousel that has a breastfeeding nook and diaper changing facilities. The people who staff that little house are always friendly too!
There it is! Those are my tried and true tips for enjoying a summer at Carowinds. I’d love to hear how these tips work for you and if you can add to the list.
I have to give a shout out to the woman a few stalls down from me at the Harris Teeter. Every mother knows the difficulty of trying to use a public bathroom with a toddler in tow. You'd almost rather bust a gut than have to face the peril of being immobile in a public bathroom with your toddler on the loose!
Your toddler will either open the door and expose you to the masses or crawl onto the nasty floor and escape. The latter happened to me.
Not only did he escape, but he climbed into a neighboring stall with a complete stranger! I heard a friendly voice say, "Why, hello there!"
Mortified, I said, "Please tell me my son isn't in there with you."
She laughed and said, "Yes, but don't worry about it. I have 3 boys of my own."
Shopping with kids in tow can be an adventure, to say the least. There's the inevitable fight over who gets to push the cart, the tears that well up in your eyes after a child pushes said cart into the back of your heels. Don't forget the tricky public bathroom situation. One time I had to make a pit stop early in the morning at the local grocery store. My son tried to open the door on me, but being a veteran mommy, I was one step ahead of him and blocked him from opening the door. He gave me a sly look as he quickly dropped to the floor and army-crawled out of the stall. Peering through the door's crack, I tried to locate my son, but he was no where to be seen. Then I heard a woman's voice a few doors down say, "Why, hello there!"
Mortified I said, "Please tell me he's not in there with you."
The woman responded, "Yes, he is. Don't worry about it. I have three boys of my own."
Yes, excursions with children can be an adventure. Mad props to the parents that can pull if off gracefully. I'm not one of them. My children go especially berserk at a particular department store featuring a red bull's-eye. I remember running in to buy one item and this happened:
Yes, I do live a pretty JACK'd up life. My children can turn a mundane shopping trip into an event to remember.
There is no hurry to start your baby on solid foods. When your baby is around six or seven months old, he/she will likely start showing interest in solids. You will know your baby is interested because he/she will likely grab at food on your plate or try to snatch food from your hands. If your baby is able to sit up on his/her own and is showing signs of readiness, then you may decide to introduce solid foods.The purpose of starting solid foods at this age is to introduce your baby to different food textures. Your baby is already familiar with the tastes if you have been breastfeeding. Solid foods will not be a primary food source at this age. Your baby will still need to get all of his primary nutrition through breastmilk or formula. Babies only eat 1-2T in a full day. You should breast or bottle feed the baby first and then offer small amounts of food. Solid food experimentation should not replace nursing/bottle feeding. It's something that should be offered in addition to their primary diet of breastmilk or formula. Here is a general guideline for good first foods for your baby.
These foods are hypoallergenic and high in iron. Puree or mash food. Some foods will have to be steamed to soften. You can mix in a little breastmilk or formula to thin it.)
These foods are high in zinc and supportive of a developing immune system
black strap molasses
split pea soup
High in bulk and zinc
High in B Vitamins and Calcium
Twenty One Months
High in Protein
The director of my children's former school (who has no children) used to lecture parents about creating a peaceful routine to help mornings go smoothly. She said children should independently get themselves up in the morning, dress themselves, pack their own lunches, and sit down to a hot, filling breakfast. According to her, with proper planning, there is no reason to ever be late to school. Late arrivals disrupt learning.
In order to encourage families to arrive on time, my children's school has implemented a new set of rules. If you arrive late, parents must park their vehicles, escort their children into the school, and sign them in. I call this the walk of shame. Parents try their very best to arrive on time. Personally, I have run out the door without shoes, without brushing my teeth, and even without my coffee. Gasp! There is no mercy. You arrive late, you walk. I try to be on time every day, but there are times when an infant needs to breastfeed before getting into the car or someone can't find a shoe or traffic comes to a standstill. It happens.
I've been running my children to school for eight years. Our morning routine is pretty good now, but there are still times when things happen and when they do... it's bad. For instance, today the toddler refused to put clothes on. Having experience under my belt, I knew not to fight that battle this morning. I quickly packed a bag with his things and kept moving. Traffic was heavier than usual and actually stopped completely for a short time. We arrived at the school on time but did not arrive at the front of the car line in time. I had to make the walk of shame. One problem, my toddler was in his underwear and I accidentally left his backpack at home.
Yes, I took my toddler into the school with him wearing nothing but a pajama top and boxer briefs. I stood in the line with the rest of the late parents and smiled when I looked down and saw the dad in front of me wearing his bedroom slippers. No shame in our game today.
Three years ago, I introduced a job board to my children. Foolishly, I thought it would lighten my workload. I thought by sharing household tasks with my three children, I wouldn't be so exhausted or stressed out by day's end. I was sorely mistaken.
You see, the purpose of the job board is NOT to make life easier. It is actually easier to wash the dishes myself rather than repeatedly remind my daughter to do her job. The purpose of the job board is not to speed the completion of household tasks. Seriously. Have you ever watched a five-year-old fold clothes? It takes FOREVER. The purpose of the job board is to teach, build confidence, and set expectations.
So, how does it work? I list age-appropriate jobs and assign children to each task. Some jobs like dusting, polishing, take out the trash and clean the toilet rotate each week. Other jobs are assigned to all of the children, such as putting the laundry away. The job board has gimme jobs such as, brushing teeth and drinking water because I don't want every task to be hard.
Hopefully, one day, the time invested in teaching my children how to maintain a home and work as a team will pay off.
Living the JACK'd Life
I am a certified birth doula (BAI) in Charlotte, NC . I provide information and support to pregnant individuals and couples so they can have satisfying and empowering births. I am a married mother of 4 trying to navigate life, unafraid of sharing my truly JACK'd up missteps.