Could this be the Summer of the Long Leash?

We’ve been having cookouts with family and friends lately, and it’s been lovely to dine al fresco and enjoy delightful company.  During and after such fun gatherings, I couldn’t help but notice how (relatively) well-behaved my kids were.  They managed to play nicely and still take some time to actually sit down and eat a meal without too much prodding on my part.  I was able to sit back more and observe more instead of being a hands-on, right-by-their-side-at-all-times mom. Such experiences makes me wonder if this could be the summer of the long leash…or at minimum, a slightly longer leash that last year.

Several younger, and adorable cookout guests under 18 months really helped illustrate the parenting and supervision required for little ones versus my preschool and 4K aged kids.  Long gone are the stages of toddling around uncertainly and slightly unpredictable behavior.  My kids ARE getting older and ARE learning how to listen and follow rules. YES! At last! It’s rewarding as a parent to be able to sit back and give them more independence, while being able to hang with the adults and actually have a longer and less interrupted conversation.

The summers of more hands-on, physically demanding parenting are behind us. The “summers of breastfeeding” my two kids seems like EONS ago! Last summer then became the “summer where I didn’t have to whip out a boob to breastfeed.” It’s the little victories, right?!

As I learned from a dear friend, and wrote about in Wise Words from a Super Mom,

“As your children grow, they become less physically demanding, and more psychologically demanding.”

These words could not be more true, and I can’t believe that I was writing about parenting getting easier even last summer!! Looking back, we’ve come so far as a family (and me personally as a mom). It’s one wild, rewarding journey that I’m so honored and blessed to be on as a mom.

Stay with me readers until next summer’s longer-leash post!

Boys vs. Girls

“Mom, is this a boy magazine?” my daughter asked me, picking up Car & Driver, her dad’s magazine of choice.  “No, sweetie it can be a girl’s or a boy’s magazine,” I responded.  Upon saying that, she proceeded to page through the magazine. (Side note: I WILL sometimes page through car magazines, though I did much more when I worked for an automotive company.)

In another instance, my husband was not too pleased with big sister’s dinnertime antics, so he told her, “Act like a lady.”  I added in, “No, please act like a kid with good mealtime manners.”

My daughter also reported that her female teacher at school had boy hair (it’s cut short) to which I replied, “Girls can have short hair or long hair.”

Having both a son and a daughter, we are constantly confronted with gender bias.  I want to raise both of my children with the idea that they can do whatever they want, regardless of what may be considered a girl or boy magazine, haircut, or acting like a lady or crazy little boy.

We try to avoid girl- or boy-only labels (something I’ve written about before), so our kids both play with trains, cars, animals, and dolls – or whatever strikes their fancy. My daughter is a big animal lover, which includes checking out bugs or digging for worms while wearing a tutu (as she does below).

digging for wormsI have to admit that I worry more about raising my daughter in the midst of the princess-obsessed age group.  Sure, she does enjoy her princess domino game and loved watching Pocahontas, but she’s never requested to dress-up like a princess. I mean, what do princesses really DO besides meet their prince and get married?  Don’t they have interests and things to do besides plan another ball? Since her chances of being a real-life princess are non-existent, I’ll keep rooting for better heroines for my daughter, while trying to set a good example for her myself.

As I mentioned in Do I Really Sound like That, my words too easily become her words.  I hope I watch what I say to put the right words in her head, so she can become a strong, confident girl, ready to conquer the world in whatever way she desires.  First off on her agenda: pre-school.

How do parents of boys and girls consciously (or unconsciously) raise their children?  Can you recommend any good girl characters role models?

Wise Words from a Super Mom

In my 100th blog post, I had mentioned that parenting seems to be getting easier.  This is QUITE oversimplified, as children can be a both joy and challenge regardless of their age.

A better way of putting it came from a dear friend, and super mom, who started her own parenting journey years ahead of me and made it all look SO EASY!  She had her first child during her second year of law school while her husband was also in grad school and her sister an undergrad all at the same school.  Some may say it was crazy, but like any mom and family, they made it work with rotating childcare schedules and a whole lot of love and hard work.

Truth is: There’s no road map for parenting – or anything in life for that matter! You have to live your life and go with what works for your own unique situation.

Okay, on to those wise words:

“As your children grow, they become less physically demanding, and more psychologically demanding.”

THIS is the best way to describe parenting! With my kids approaching two and four, I’m happy to only change diapers for one (not two like I did earlier), only help one get dressed, and just provide more direction for my older daughter. Sure there are still time outs and standard discipline, but I’m more challenged by the questions I’m being asked by 3.75 year old.  Things like:

Big sister: Why is that man not wearing a shirt?

Me: Well, sweetie, it’s really hot out today, and sometimes men choose not to wear shirts to stay cool.

 

Big sister: That boy isn’t wearing a helmet on his bike.

Me: Yeah, sometimes people don’t make good / safe choices. I’m really glad you wear your helmet.

 

Big sister (after hearing no): I don’t like you anymore.

Me: That’s not very nice to say. That makes me sad.

Big sister (later): Sorry mom.

Whew! These questions can be exhausting! She is also yelling at her younger brother when he does basic two year old things: throwing food, not listening, screaming, etc.  I remind her that she was that way when she was younger, and we have to teach him how to behave.

Do you agree with this revised parenting statement? Can you relate to these questions?  Any advice on other responses?  Have a great day all!

I’m 1 Year Old! Happy Birthday Go Mama O!

Cheers! My Blog is officially 1 year old today! AND it’s my 100th post! I celebrated last night on a date night with Daddy O.  Here I am toasting myself with a cucumber, cilantro vodka concoction.

blog bday

We had the most amazing tapas! It was the perfect meal for an end of summer evening to dine al fresco and sample bits of this & that (without committing to one HUGE entree). This savory waffle with smoked gouda and chives topped with chicken asparagus and mushrooms was so pretty I HAD to take a picture before devouring it. Tell me I’m not the only one who takes pictures of my food…c’mon! delicious tapas

Looking Back

Reflecting on Go Mama O’s first year, I would say that I have learned a lot this past year.  One of my earliest posts, Top 5 Things I Learned from my Kids, still holds true even one year later, and I’m STILL learning to be a more patient parent.

In this past year, I met some helpful fellow moms along the way – including a sweet elderly woman at a grocery store. Gained a contract job that I did while my son napped and my daughter watched all episodes of  Wonder Pets on Netflix. I job hunted & got rejected several times before finding the right fit.  In the meantime, I learned to slow down more and enjoy many million dollar moments of parenting.

I am most proud of times when I gave up control a bit and empowered others to make a “good choice.” When potty training my daughter, I ultimately told her that SHE WAS IN CHARGE of her pee-s and poops.  I mistakenly gave her too much free reign on one toilet session, and paid for it dearly, so much so that I had to call in for back-up.

This aforementioned incident aside, I started to realize that this parenting thing DOES get easier as your kids grow older and slowly more independent.

Come April, I had landed a part-time marketing job that continues to be a good balance of work & parenting.  A few job related posts:

We have mostly overcome issues with growling, survived a cross-country road-trip, and I’m adjusting to the dinnertime rush on my workdays. I’m really proud of how far I’ve come (and my family too) in this past year.  For all the stress and worry that I felt one year ago, I wish I would have just RELAXED more because everything did work out for the best.

Thank you so much to the many fellow blog-friends, and my readers, who may relate to or simply enjoy my mom / work / cheese obsession / travel posts.  I look forward to celebrating more Blog Birthdays with you in the future!

Any feedback, suggestions, or thoughts on topics that I write about?  I’d love to hear from you!  Do you frequently look back at old posts and think about how life has changed since then?

Some Rules for a Parent’s Night Out

I recently had some evenings away from my two dear children thanks to Daddy O.  We typically take turns to make sure we each have an opportunity to get out of the house to have some time to ourselves.  This could mean working out, playing in a sports league, or meeting up with friends….all good things!

After recently ruining the relaxation and peacefulness of my “away time” upon my return home, I feel compelled to record some rules for a parent’s night out, so I hopefully will NOT break them again.

1. Be sure to leave and don’t return until AFTER bedtime.  As I mentioned above, I returned from a massage appointment (awesome Mother’s Day gift certificate) about 15 minutes too early.  BIG mistake!  Instead of staying in my relaxed bliss, I was jolted into “mom mode” helping with  dictating the cleaning-up process and getting annoyed by over-tired bedtime antics of my nearly 2 and 3.75 year old. I inserted myself when I didn’t need to.

2. You can’t treat your spouse like a babysitter. This is FREE labor – and it should be one of love (well, most of the time anyway).  Daddy O. may have his own ways of doing things, and that’s okay as long as the end result is the same: sleeping kids when I return home.

3. Don’t ask too many questions.  Again, if the house is quiet, and the kids are asleep, just go with it and ENJOY!  I think a more open ended question – “how was your night?” may be better received.

4. Lower expectations on the “honey-do-list.”  Based on how post-dinner / bedtime go, additional items on the honey-do-list may not get done.  I’ve learned to lower my expectations, and be pleasantly surprised when something IS done.

5. Just breathe.  If it appears the night at home didn’t go as you would have hoped, just pause and take a breath.  This is kind of hard when I am sort of a control-freak, or think MY WAYS are simply better.  I’m working on this, trying to learn to just let some things go.

What are your “rules” for your night’s off from parenting?  How do you carve out time for yourself to recharge?