Parenting My First Versus Parenting My Third

img_0277I swore I would never be that stereotypical mom that drastically changed my priorities with each subsequent child. But, alas, here I am, three kids in, and I have managed to nail that stereotype to a tee.

Here are some differences I have experienced in parenting my first versus parenting my third.

  1. Sugar-free zone. Y’all, my first baby ate ONLY vegetables until he was one. In lieu of a birthday cake on his birthday, I gave him a BANANA–his first fruit. Third baby? I’ll be lucky to keep her older brothers from feeding her brownies.
  2. Germs. Every person that came over was essentially doused in hand sanitizer with my first child. But now? I might have handed my crying third baby to a complete stranger on the airplane that offered to hold her for me.
  3. Scheduling. The beloved first child’s schedule trumped all other activities. We rushed home from lunches with friends to make the sacred naptime. Dinner dates were cut short to start our nightly routine. Third baby? In a pinch, car seat naps and sleeping in the Ergo seem to suit her JUST FINE.
  4. Bathing. My first child was squeaky clean. He was bathed AT LEAST every other day. My daughter? I aim to bathe her weekly and would admittedly bathe her less often if she didn’t have such long hair that displays my lack of due diligence in the bathing area.
  5. Psychosis. I am legitimately a lot less stressed with this third baby. If she only sleeps 20 minutes, I am not lamenting to everyone I see. It will be okay. Each phase will pass. If she needs to cuddle, cuddle we shall. The dishes will eventually be cleaned again to be dirtied again and laundry will be folded. I am a lot less stressed with this third baby and a lot more engaged. Not all parental changes with subsequent children are entirely detrimental. The perspective of time and how quickly it passes has served me well with baby number three.

Kara Garis is a cloth diapering, baby wearing, semi-crunchy mama to two active boys and a baby girl. She lives with her husband in Oklahoma and loves running, cooking, traveling, reading and teaching herself how to braid. She blogs very infrequently at karagaris.blogspot.com. 

Monday, December 26, 2016
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Ten Businesses That Couldn’t Make it Without Moms

businesses that wouldn't make it without moms

We’re an entrepreneurial country and I think that is yet another thing that would not be possible without moms and dads. So parents of America, this one is for you. Or rather, these businesses, conveniences, and products are, largely, for you.

The Drive-thru. Because who wants to pull three children out of the car to get a sit-down meal when we don’t have time between Susie and Jessie’s soccer practice and dance lessons?

Amazon, or any other food delivery service. Granted these are only successful in the most urban of areas, but a large portion of their customers surely are mothers who just balance the cost of a few extra bucks for the convenience of not going into that snow with all these babes. Similar to this might be the order online, pick-up in store offerings of many box and department stores.

Caffeine anything. Really, need I explain? Combine caffeine to drive thru or delivery services mentioned above and you really got yourself a business model.

Dollar aisles. Anything sold in any “deal” area or near the checkout line of any store ever in the history of commerce is made for people on a budget looking for a cheap thrill. The dollar spot at Target is so alluring with its cheap gadgets that conveniently break just in time for our next visit.

Icee machines. Again, I’m letting my Target show here but the Icee machine in our local store accounts for 73 percent of our successful shopping outings. Length of to-buy list and awesome parenting skills account for the other 27percent.

Car vacuums. Once upon a time I said I’d not let my children eat in my car. Then I had children. Eating in the car happens rarely, but evidence of said eating is abundant.

Most all of the gum industry. Bubbalicious gets us hooked when we’re young, with all that sugar and bubble-ing delight. And before-mentioned caffeine via coffee always leaves the mouth looking for freshness. Combine that with checkout line convenience and you’re in business.

Yoga pants and other comfort wear. Sure, just like all these other things parents are not the only ones responsible for each industry’s success. But between mamas talking about baby weight and the struggle to find time to get ready in the morning, mothers make up a large portion of financial support in this market trend.

The home workout market. Consider who is up in the wee morning hours of the morning to see those Beachbody infomercials and what population is known for the pressure to “bounce back” after baby. And these are results by “normal” people, people who could be in line in front of you at said Target, not celebrities. Of course this leads me to…

Multi-level marketing. Look, mamas gotta make a buck. Mamas also need some sense of community and a sense of living and giving outside of their children. MLM offers all of these things, usually with an alluring fragrance or stylish bag included. #momboss

Lynette is a mom of three children from 8 months to age four. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Friday, December 23, 2016
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When Toddlers Capitalize on Distracted Mom Time and How to Keep Them Busy

img_4850I recently found myself in tears after nursing my six-month-old daughter and discovering my two-year-old standing triumphantly on the kitchen counter in the middle of a concoction of several spices that he had emptied from their jars. My eyes darted frantically across the mess, trying to devise a way to return the precious spices to their jars. I quickly realized that, unless I was comfortable with a combination of garlic salt, cayenne pepper and a bit of nutmeg, it was unlikely that any would be salvaged. So much for no crying over spilled spices.

I’m convinced that my two-year-old wanders around, taking inventory of all he hopes to accomplish when mom is occupied. Dump spices? Check. Unroll all of the toilet paper? That sounds fantastic. Smear an entire jar of peanut butter on the dog? Can’t wait. And, yes, all of those things have actually happened.

It has taken me six months, but I think I am finally to the point to, cautiously, say, I think I’ve figured out a way to navigate this particular issue… sometimes. And it is to simply Choose My Mess.

This means leaving out the box of play dough and cookie cutters and being okay with some of the hardened pieces ending up inside the trash and the colors getting mixed together. This means a gallon-sized Ziploc bag of crayons and a stack of coloring books on the kitchen floor. This means free reign on the bubbles in the backyard.

Maybe this isn’t a difficult concept for some of you. But, for me? I really like it when the play doh colors are in their correct containers, untainted by other colors. I really, really like for all of the crayons to stay in their wrappers. And, I don’t particularly enjoy bubbles dumped out into my flower beds.

But, this is a mess of my choosing. And it is a mess I prefer over dumped spices, shredded paper towels, or plant food distributed evenly across every square foot of my home.

Kara Garis is a cloth diapering, baby wearing, semi-crunchy mama to two active boys and a baby girl. She lives with her husband in Oklahoma and loves running, cooking, traveling, reading and teaching herself how to braid. She blogs very infrequently at karagaris.blogspot.com. 

Thursday, December 22, 2016
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A Guide to Giving From a Former Domestic Violence Shelter Worker

A guide to givingWhen I used to work at a domestic violence shelter, there was little in this world that was more heartwarming than to see the members of the community reach out to try to provide a Christmas for those who were in undesirable situations. For some, though, there can be some questions about what can be expected of those hoping to help these families during the holidays, so here is a list of do’s and don’ts to help you:

Do:

  • Call your local domestic violence shelter and ask how you can help. Some offer Sub for Santa programs, where they can match you up with a family staying in the shelter and give you a list of the things they might want/need this holiday season.
  • Offer to purchase gift cards for the shelter or the women staying there. Gift cards are great to use for planning holiday parties, or can be used by the women to purchase gifts on their own to provide for their children. As wonderful as the Sub for Santa programs are, it can help the self esteem of a shelter resident to actually go to the store and be able to purchase the items herself.
  • If baking is more your speed, contact your local shelter and see if they can accept homemade goods. Sometimes due to allergies and safety reasons, some shelters can only accept store purchased food. Find out what works for them, and see where you can drop off treats to share to help boost the morale of those living there.
  • Call the shelter to see if they have a list of items they might need. Shelters often rely heavily on donations, and can run low on things like tampons, toilet paper, and diapers. At your next holiday party, request on the invitation that your guests bring one of these items to donate.

Don’t:

  • Request to be there when the kids open the presents that you purchased for the Sub for Santa. This was a frequent request, and understandably so—part of the joy of buying presents is seeing the happiness on the faces of those you purchased them for. As a parent, though, one can imagine how difficult it can be to know that your child wants or needs something, and you aren’t in a position to provide it for them. While these women are not technically providing the gifts, they are doing an incredibly brave and difficult thing by choosing to leave what was likely a more financially secure situation because of the abuse they would no longer endure. What greater gift could you offer them than their pride on Christmas morning?
  • Forget the dignity of the people you are donating to. The saying is, “Beggars can’t be choosers,” but there is also the saying, “Don’t add insult to injury.” We would receive wrapped packages with requests that they be given to the residents, and the staff had to open them for safety reasons first. We would find partially used rolls of toilet paper, wrapped individually to be given as gifts. We would open boxes with an item of clothing inside, with food spilled on it that had not been laundered.
  • Overextend yourself with offers to volunteer. Spreading yourself too thin is an easy thing to do during the holidays, with all of the opportunities to do so that are presented. When an organization depends so heavily on volunteers, it can make the difference between an organized event being successful or stressful when a volunteer does not show up. It is wonderful if you can; but don’t pencil yourself in if you aren’t certain you can be there.

When in doubt, call and ask. And when you do, be pleasant to the person who answers the phone. It could easily be a new volunteer answering phones for the first time, and I can say from experience, little is more terrifying than answering a potential crisis call when you haven’t before. Thank you for caring to help; the world could use a lot more of that.

Keighty Brigman is terrible at crafting, throwing birthday parties, and making sure there isn’t food on her face. Allegedly, her four children manage to love her anyway. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016
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Whose Need Do I Meet First?

Whose needs do i meet first?Having subsequent children inevitably creates more unmet needs. Or, at the very least, needs not met at the exact moment the children feel they should be met. This was all incredibly overwhelming my first few weeks solo with my kiddos.

My firstborn did not understand why I couldn’t read the book he wanted right away. My second-born took great issue with my failure to refill his sippy cup. New baby daughter had strong feelings about being out of the womb in general. I was a mess. I quickly realized that maybe, rather than meeting needs, I simply needed to adjust my thinking.

1.     Realize that “Loudest” does not equal “Neediest”.
My oldest son has this idea that volume equals importance. Just like the patient complaining in the ER waiting room about waiting, my son thinks if he can just tell me the right thing in the right way, that will magically move him to the front of the line. This only works if you let it happen. I promise, the more times my son sees that yelling does NOT get him what he wants, he starts to try other tactics. I am guilty of doing whatever I can to shush the loud child in the moment. But I try to think of life lessons in these moments when I so desperately want to do what creates instant comfort.

2.     Use my words, and use them calmly.
So often I find myself so frazzled that I just want the noise/whining to STOP RIGHT NOW. This is when I need to calmly say, “Son, I see that you want me to refill your sippy cup. I would love to do that for you. First, I am going to feed your sister.” If he protests loudly, I suggest he sit on his bed until he calms down.

3.     Do as much as I can on the front end.
I can’t anticipate every need. But keeping a couple of bananas within reach of my oldest child, trying to keep sippy cups filled, trying to nurse my baby near a stack of books that can be read aloud while sister eats; these are things I can intentionally do that might eliminate some of the chaos.

4.     Accept that, sometimes, some things will have to wait. And waiting is okay.
I don’t think any mom wants to raise a child that grows to be a man or woman that is incapable of patience. I try to keep the adult version of my child in the back of my mind when I am doing something that seems hard in the moment but I know will pay off eventually.

Kara Garis is a cloth diapering, baby wearing, semi-crunchy mama to two active boys and a baby girl. She lives with her husband in Oklahoma and loves running, cooking, traveling, reading and teaching herself how to braid. She blogs very infrequently at karagaris.blogspot.com. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016
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