5 Quick Questions on Parenting

It’s time for a new edition of 5 Quick Questions.

This is my opportunity to get to know you better, and it’s one of the best things we do here because it turns out you are very good at truth-telling, friends. To those of you who used the last few volumes to delurk, it’s wonderful to meet you! And to those of you who’ve been around a while, mucking about in this space and putting your feet on the furniture? You’re always rad. Thank you.

As you may know, 5 Quick Questions can be anything from the inane What Is Your Family Booger Rule? to the more serious (and my absolute favorite because you were so deeply honest) Questions About Faith.

Today, though, I’d like to pick your parenting brains for the true, the ridiculous, and the laugh-out-loud funny.

And I have ulterior motives. I get to be on a parenting panel this week for a group of mamas with young kids. But I’ve learned over time that we are wiser together than I can ever be alone, and, while I may have one piece of the puzzle, it’s a much clearer picture when we all share our pieces. So I thought I’d ask you a few questions today that might be asked on Friday. Because if there’s one thing I’d like to give young moms, it’s more pieces of the puzzle, you know? More mamaraderie. More ways we’re in this together. More ways to find the magic in the mess and the laughter in this life. And I can do that much, much better if we work together.

OK?

OK.

Here we go.

ID-100400665 Quick Questions on Parenting

  1. If you could go back in time and whisper one thing to yourself when you were a parent of young ones, what would it be?
  2. What’s one change you’ve made in your parenting or your house or yourself that’s allowed you to breathe easier? 
  3. Comparison. Blerg. What’s your strategy for not comparing yourself to other moms or your kids to theirs? 
  4. What’s one of the funniest things your children ever did?
  5. But how do you keep your sense of humor during the tough patches of parenting?

And here are my answers:

  1. If you could go back in time and whisper one thing to yourself when you were a parent of young ones, what would it be? 

    It surprised me when I really thought about this to discover I wouldn’t whisper any of the things I didn’t know. Or tell Younger Me any of the things that would surprise me. I guess because I wouldn’t want to spoil my story, you know? I wouldn’t want to give away all the wonder or the discoveries or even the deep pain of having it all fall apart and the hard work of assembling this life. 

    I suppose I would hug me and burst into tears and make myself terribly uncomfortable by being emotionally demonstrative, but what I’d really want me to know is it’s going to be OK. I’m going to be OK. These tiny people I love are going to be OK. I mean, deeply OK. Not AWESOME. Not PERFECT. Really an utter mess some days. And still somehow OK. And enough. And even good. I’d tell myself that the feeling of inadequacy isn’t the same as being inadequate and that eventually I’ll learn the difference. I’d whisper that the little bit I can do at one time, the small person I can be, is enough. And is valuable. And is useful. And is deeply worthy of being loved and deeply able to give that love to others.

  2. What’s one change you’ve made in your parenting or your house or yourself that’s allowed you to breathe easier? 

    Learning to laugh at the chaos and the destruction. I know; I wish I had something profound to say, too, but there it is.

  3. Comparison. Blerg. What’s your strategy for not comparing yourself to other moms or your kids to theirs? 

    For me, I find that outing myself as a total raging mess helps. I know that seems counter-intuitive, but it helps me find my people, you know? Like, when I talk about having a less-than-perfect morning or about my dress unraveling in the parking lot, I find a lot of other moms who are willing to admit their own awesome, often ridiculous, messes. And that’s where we find our Village, I think; when we sit in the mud together. 

    As far as comparing my kids to other kids, well, that’s harder. We’ve struggled with everything from developmental delays to the more typical, um, attitude issues (*ahem* in myself and the kids), and I find when I’m comparing my kids to others, I’m usually trying rather desperately to process my own grief. Grief that things are harder for my kid than for typical kids. Grief that things are harder for me. So it helps for me to name that, you know? It helps me not to be bitter that things seem to go so swimmingly for other parents when I name my grief and allow myself to be sad.

  4. What’s one of the funniest things your children ever did? 

    Oh, geez. One? 

    I’m going to have to go with the time my kid punched another kid in the nuts but only because he cares about justice. Or the time my boys had a contest to see how high they could fill the bathtub with pee. Or the time they learned about the Archimedes Principle. Or the time they all took a dump under the front porch. Oooh! Or the time they got kicked out of the church Christmas program! Or the time they stayed in the program and flipped everyone off. Or… OK, I can’t possibly pick only one.

  5. But how do you keep your sense of humor during the tough patches of parenting? 

    Practice. Lots and lots of practice. 

    And having pretty literally All of My Stuff irretrievably wrecked. Like, past all repair. ‘Cause when there’s nothing left to ruin, it’s hard to maintain the mad.

………

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Your turn. How do you answer these 5 Quick Questions? Remember, you don’t have to answer them all if you don’t want to; this is always challenge by choice. I can’t wait to see what you have to say.

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
61 comments
  1. 1.Stop stressing about your mother and mother-in-law and just do things the way that feels right for you. They’ve had their chance, now it’s your turn. If they don’t like it, bad luck!!!

    2.I’ve taught myself to stop caring how horribly disgusting my stove is and to be less fussy about the state of my house in general (now I’ve got to teach my husband the same thing).

    3.My strategy was to have more than one child! I have 2 girls who are so vastly different from each other that it seems stupid to compare them. One talked early, the other walked early. They’re both beautiful and clever and brilliant, but differently, each in their own way!

    4.I can think of a thousand funny things my children have done (pretty impressive for an almost 2 year old and a 3 year old), so I’ll just share today. My 3 year old walked into the house, turned to face me and stopped for a moment before falling over!!! She is very skilled at falling over and tripping and stumbling and falling out of bed and off chairs.

    5.I try to think of everything that happens as a story I’ll be able to share with them when they’re older. Or potentially, a story I’ll be able to use to embarrass them in front of future boyfriends/girlfriends!

  2. Here my answers!

    1. It will get easier. The first few months were like horror, the nights too. But now, after 13months it’s much much easier (days and nights).
    2. We have a cleaning lady who comes once a week. Makes me relax a lot concerning the household. And we try to start not to concentrate too much on our son. Sometimes it’s like “It’s your turn to take care of the kid now, I want to cook.” Instead, we try to cook when our son is around. Of course, it doesn’t work perfectly, but I hope, it will make things easier.
    3. My kid is the best! Of all kids! He develops best and acts best and is the sweetest cutest boy ever! I’m too sure of that. So, that’s how I’m not stressed by comparison. And I try not to stress other parents with comparisons or comments on the development of their child. Oh, and how I manage not to compare myself to others. Well, I try to do my best. I honestly do. I try to do the best for my child. Of course I’m not perfect (not even near… haha) but I can’t do anything more than try. (And I try to stay on my path. I believe, that a lot of stressful stuff is unneccessary for kids. Like to find the best toys, the best music course, baby swimming course, etc. They’ll survive without that, too! IMO it’s only important, that they are loved and that they feel, that they are loved. How parents show that to their children is different from person to person.)
    4. Uff, hard one. He’s a year old… it’s always fun when he laughes. And it’s funny and amazingly cute when he is feeding his father and me (when he’s done he shares).
    5. I don’t. I try to, but I fail miserably. Well, now I know that it gets easier again, but still. The only thing that helped me was the knowledge, that it will go over. But I guess that’s not the best way to see that. Instead I try to enjoy the good moments. But usually I fail during the tough patches.

    I wish you a good day!
    Susann

  3. I know I’m too late for your Friday panel, but here are my answers, in case you’re still interested! =)

    http://sanddollarsandsunflowers.blogspot.com/2013/11/five-questions.html

  4. So I’m a couple of days late, but I just got a chance to sit down in front of the computer. Here ya go:

    1. Well, I’m still the mother of littles but since the oldest is getting older (I know! I didn’t realize that happened either?! Who knew they would actually grow up?), I would tell myself that it gets better…then worse…then better…then worse (which is just life, ya know) and to just go with the flow because that’s all you really can do.

    2. My house is dirty. It’s going to be that way for a while…and that’s ok. Which if you knew me, you would know is a HUGE revelation for me. Living in the moment with my children rather than sweeping up behind them while they go on living.

    3. I still do this even though I try so hard not to. I think I will always compare myself to other mothers, it’s just human nature. But my sweet husband told me one exceptionally bad day and I was the best mother he could have ever asked for to mother his children and that gets me through the tough days. I think that having a second child helped put a stop to comparing my kids other kids, because they are exact opposites of each other. It has helped remind me that we are all different and amazing awesome.

    4. So, I think I’ve told this story before but it’s one of my favorites.
    My husband does bath time while I start dinner in the evenings. This particular evening we were having homemade chicken fingers and french fries (why I decided to tackle that dinner on a week night is still beyond me). So I’m elbow deep in raw chicken as he is getting them out of the tub. He quickly realizes that he has left the oldest girl’s diapers in the car, so he dresses the baby and proceeds outside to retrieve said diapers. Mean while the big ‘un is streaking naked around the house. She runs up to me and says “Mommy, I’m green!!”. Hubby had let her play with the bath paints while in the tub and failed to take the green one away from her when he got her out. She proceeded to paint herself green from head to toe. She was so proud. 🙂 I’m still elbow deep in the raw chicken and hubs is outside. It was on of those, “Oh, well” moments and I just had to laugh. I get myself cleaned up as hubs comes back in and we start trying to clean her up only realize that the paint is soap, and all we are doing is sudsing her more. She got two baths that night. 🙂

    5. My grandmother used to say if you can’t laugh at yourself then your in trouble. I let that roll over in to all parts of my life. That and lots of coffee.

  5. 1) If you could go back in time and whisper one thing to yourself when you were a parent of young ones, what would it be?

    I’d tell myself to get my expectations properly aligned; the best book series I’ve found is by the Gesell Institute (“Your 6-year-old”, etc). I could have prevented a lot of frustration on both sides if I had realized which things are reasonable behaviors to expect, and which were not.

    2) What’s one change you’ve made in your parenting or your house or yourself that’s allowed you to breathe easier?

    The creation of rock-solid routines, and the willingness to alter them as the kids grow and change. I’ve had at least half a dozen different laundry systems already!

    3) Comparison. Blerg. What’s your strategy for not comparing yourself to other moms or your kids to theirs?

    Comparison is not all bad; judgement, on the other hand, _is_. I like to compare how my kids fair in relation to other kids their age, just so that I can fully appreciate the breadth of experience, and the variety. And get good ideas! I avoid deciding that one child/household/parenting-style is better than the other by repeating my mantra: we all do our best, and we can all learn from each other.

    4) What’s one of the funniest things your children ever did?

    Urg! Too many to choose from!

    My eldest went up to people and said, “In October I will be free!” to announce her up-coming birthday, with her toddler accent. No, she was not having her rights trampled…

    While not funny at the time, my son (nearly 4 at the time) was watching his oldest sister (then nearly 8) doing a magic trick, where she held her head to the side and pretended to stick a rock up her nose and then pull it out again. We were camping at the time, so he easily found a rock, and jammed it all of the way up! I managed to massage it back down (boy oh boy, was it slimy!), and get everybody down from their flights of hysterics. He had gotten it nearly to the bridge of his nose… It has been a hilarious memory ever since!

    We had a big field in the backyard of one of our rentals, that got plowed and farmed every year. One year in the early spring, my daughter found a spoon in the field, a regular metal one from a kitchen set, and dug a hole 5 feet deep and 3 feet wide and over 10 feet long. In about a month, scheduled around going to school. Not a shovel, just a little spoon. Yes, the soil was really soft, but _still_.

    My poor 5th child; every single member of my family dropped him as a baby, at least once each! Some of them, like when my husband buckled him into the infant carrier and then dropped the whole thing (hey, the handle is pretty strong, he rolled and landed face down but was okay), were ones we could laugh about. When I dropped him, I dove down and _caught_ him by the clothes, then dropped him again and caught him again before he hit the floor. That was pretty funny, too.

    My 6th child (now 3.5 months old) is the _loudest_ pooper I have ever encountered. I’m not just talking about the grunting, which he also does sometimes, but the actual noises coming out of his backside. You can hear him from the next room over, even with people talking! We all crack up every time (about once daily). 🙂

    5) But how do you keep your sense of humor during the tough patches of parenting?

    Chocolate. Large quantities of chocolate!

  6. 5 Quick Questions on Parenting
    1. If you could go back in time and whisper one thing to yourself when you were a parent of young ones, what would it be?
    I think I’m still there (3 kids 5 and under), but if I could go back to when my oldest was a newborn I would tell myself to calm down a little.

    2. What’s one change you’ve made in your parenting or your house or yourself that’s allowed you to breathe easier?
    Making sure to do fun things with the kids…getting out going to the park or library. It makes us all happier

    3. Comparison. Blerg. What’s your strategy for not comparing yourself to other moms or your kids to theirs?
    I don’t really compare my kids to others (at least yet). They are happy and healthy and I know milestones happen at different times.

    Not so good at not comparing myself to other moms. As a working mom, I often feel guilty and as the only working mom I know IRL who uses daycare I sometimes feel super guilty.

    4. What’s one of the funniest things your children ever did?
    One of my favorites is on the way home at the end of the day my two year will say “Hey Mom?” from the back seat. I reply “yeah” and she says “no, don’t call me yeah, call me Clare.” And this gets repeated several times. I don’t know if she’s intentionally being funny, but I love it.

    5. But how do you keep your sense of humor during the tough patches of parenting?

    Sometimes I don’t. But I love my kids and seeing them smile is wonderful. (and reading blogs like yours helps).

  7. I only have an answer for number 3 because I should be cleaning up the lunch mess and doing the laundry… and well, I’m still a newbie.

    But, one thing I do to try to stop comparing other children to my own is to pretend the other kids ARE my own. Try to love them like my own and see them as my own. It’s an interesting and challenging exercise. It helps me forgive their mistakes and praise their successes and gives me more compassion for their moms.

    Also, when giving compliments in general I’m trying to stop following up with the compliment with a bash on myself. For example, “You look very pretty today. I can never seem to pull myself together.” I try to just leave it at the compliment. Self-bashing facilitates the idea that someone else’s successes are only successes when compared to others failures and vice versa. We would (mostly) never put ourselves up on a pedestal to make someone else look bad so why make ourselves look bad in order to put someone up on a pedestal?

  8. 1.If you could go back in time and whisper one thing to yourself when you were a parent of young ones, what would it be? I still am a parent of young ones! (6,4,1) But I am trying to remember how to laugh even if i want to cry!
    2.What’s one change you’ve made in your parenting or your house or yourself that’s allowed you to breathe easier?
    This is truly a work-in-progress, but like everyone else I’m trying to get more organized. For some things i’ve found a system that works and that i can keep up with for others i’m still searching! If anyone knows of a magical way to get laundry to put itself away i’d really appreciate it!!
    3.Comparison. Blerg. What’s your strategy for not comparing yourself to other moms or your kids to theirs?
    Strategy *shrug* I just ask myself if something is working for them can I learn from it and become a better person or help my kids to be better people? No? then move forward.
    4.What’s one of the funniest things your children ever did?
    My oldest….18m….airplane…”Puck you mama, puck you.”
    5.But how do you keep your sense of humor during the tough patches of parenting?
    Laugh, cry, and laugh some more!

  9. Great responses! I just wanted to say… that orange gloved hand is creepy! =)

  10. 5 Quick Questions on Parenting

    If you could go back in time and whisper one thing to yourself when you were a parent of young ones, what would it be?
    “You will survive this and so will they. Quit worrying–none of these things are life-changing issues!”

    What’s one change you’ve made in your parenting or your house or yourself that’s allowed you to breathe easier?
    Clean the area of the living room I can see from the chair in the evening. Ignore the rest.

    Comparison. What’s your strategy for not comparing yourself to other moms or your kids to theirs?
    My oldest learns academics quickly and social skills slowly. The second is the opposite. Fortunately for me, the oldest was so “out there” with his behavior that it seemed he always compared negatively! So, I avoided kid comparisons early. As far as mom comparison…. I guess it helped that my best friend was not a mom during my kids’ young years and now mine are tween/teen and hers are young. We can share without comparing because we aren’t dealing with the same things.

    What’s one of the funniest things your children ever did?
    Called me from middle school asking him to bring a shirt. Yes, he had ridden the bus to school and gotten half way through 1st period before realizing that he had no shirt on under his coat….

    But how do you keep your sense of humor during the tough patches of parenting?
    My grandmother taught me to look for the story in the situation. When dealing with hard things, I wrote the story to her in a way that would make her laugh. Now that she is gone, I do the same thing, but send it to a friend. In looking for the story to entertain someone else, I begin to see the humor in the midst of the difficulty.

  11. If you could go back in time and whisper one thing to yourself when you were a parent of young ones, what would it be?
    Relax. Stop sweating all the small stuff.

    What’s one change you’ve made in your parenting or your house or yourself that’s allowed you to breathe easier?
    I’ve stopped being a therapist. My 5 year old has Down syndrome and I spent many years trying to be a physical therapist, speech therapist, occupational therapist and behaviorist. It was exhausting and he wasn’t getting ahead in life. Instead of being his mom and enjoying his company, I was always trying to push him. Now we play more and his sisters enjoy that too!

    Comparison. Blerg. What’s your strategy for not comparing yourself to other moms or your kids to theirs?
    I actually don’t have a problem with that. I am really good at some things and not so good at others. Everyone is. So I high five myself on the good stuff and laugh at the mishaps and things I screw up.

    What’s one of the funniest things your children ever did?
    We have a lot of little funny things. No major hysterics come to mind.

    But how do you keep your sense of humor during the tough patches of parenting?
    I call my girlfriend. We have an ongoing Mother of the Year award for when we royally screw things up. The other one deems if your screw up bad day is worthy of the award or if you need to keep trying!

  12. If you could go back in time and whisper one thing to yourself when you were a parent of young ones, what would it be?
    It’s okay to be terrified. Keep the faith and hold on. The ride is totally worth it.

    What’s one change you’ve made in your parenting or your house or yourself that’s allowed you to breathe easier?
    I’ve stopped. Everything. Then only started again when the body and mind tell me to.

    Comparison. Blerg. What’s your strategy for not comparing yourself to other moms or your kids to theirs?
    Knowing instinctively that my kids are waaaaay cooler than anyone else’s 🙂

    What’s one of the funniest things your children ever did?
    Honestly… I can not think of a single one thing that stands out, they are all funny in their own way….

    But how do you keep your sense of humor during the tough patches of parenting?
    Air Guitar and Noise Cancelling headphones turned up full volume

  13. 1. If you could go back in time and whisper one thing to yourself when you were a parent of young ones, what would it be?
    Currently mom to a 5 and 1 year old so I felt like we had finally moved into the older kid stage when we had another baby. This time I took better care of myself and was vocal about what I needed and encouraged my husband to be vocal about what he needed so neither of us felt resentful over our baby duties. It wasn’t perfect but it was better. I lost several pregnancies between my boys, those losses made me appreciate the time with my beautiful little guy and made his super-crazy-insane marathon breastfeeding (like 14 hours a day) less tortuous.

    2- What’s one change you’ve made in your parenting or your house or yourself that’s allowed you to breathe easier?
    Accepting the tidal flow of mess and cleanliness. I do love my house when its clean but I also love my time with my family and at work and with friends and just sitting around doing nothing and sleeping (really, really love sleeping) so that means that the mess comes and goes and comes again. It is not a race that can be won. And I totally agree with MamaJedi, not begrudging my husband every sock I pick up or baby-poo-outfit I scrub out makes me more positive and just takes up less of my energy.

    3- Comparison. Blerg. What’s your strategy for not comparing yourself to other moms or your kids to theirs?
    I SUCK at this. On some levels I’m confident with our kids and our choices for our family but on other levels I feel like a total fake. That’s when I get sucked into comparing our situation to other families or moms or kids because they look like they know what they are doing. Right now I’m struggling because my oh-so-bright 5 year old is in kindergarten but is testing out of 2nd grade math and reading. We aren’t in the best school district but we’re stuck in our house because of the housing market. I’m just beginning my path as being his advocate at school and I’m already getting serious push back. So here I am floundering and searching for a path and comparing myself to all the other moms who seem to have it together.

    4- What’s one of the funniest things your children ever did?
    That oh-so-bright 5 year old wanted to know where babies came from. He has a pretty serious grasp of biology so the cabbage patch wasn’t going to cut it. We got a book that introduced how different animals have babies and then described in the most kid friendly way possible how parents make babies. His response? “Ew, Dad. Gross! Why would you even want to do that!?!”

    5- But how do you keep your sense of humor during the tough patches of parenting?
    I haven’t always. When we lost our fourth pregnancy in the second trimester I came unhinged for awhile. My husband would light a fire for me in our fireplace in the morning and then he’d take our son to preschool and go to work. I’d sit in the living room and watch the fire until it burnt out. Then I’d go crawl back into bed. That was my life for a couple weeks. But I came back from there, back to my husband and back to my kid. And we took time and healed and played and eventually I started laughing again. We built up our courage and a task force of specialists and tried again and held our breath for 9 months and had an amazing, perfect, beautiful boy. And I started laughing again. Now we find humor every day in our kids antics and if they’re being too ridiculous to be funny we turn to each other to find something worth smiling about. I guess my point is, you don’t have to keep your sense of humor all the time. You’re human. Shitty things might happen and you might have to fall apart a little bit before you can deal with it. You’ll be ok. Your family will be ok. It gets better.

  14. I’m probably older than most of Beth’s readers — but still a mom. You’re a mom for life. It’s a long-term gig.

    1. I would relax more and not sweat the small stuff.
    2. Over the long haul I’ve learned (hope I’ve learned) how to let go of expectations: of self, of others, of the way things “should” or “could” be.
    3.Ha! Still comparing myself and my kids to others. I’m pretty proud of my kids. They’re smart and awesome and doing some pretty amazing things. But like Beth, there came a time with one of our kids that I really needed to grieve the “not normal” part as we dealt with some pretty heavy anxiety. We’re still there some days. But I’m grateful, too, for the unique individuals my kids have grown into being. For the most part, they’re all OK. And that’s good enough.
    4. I think I laughed hardest the first time my husband did “Pull my finger!” Perfect timing; the kids were the perfect age. I’m laughing out loud just thinking about it again.
    5. My key to keeping a sense of humor was to marry someone with a sense of humor. My husband is great at seeing the humor in situations, and in bringing humor into tense situations to defuse the tension.

  15. If you could go back in time and whisper one thing to yourself when you were a parent of young ones, what would it be?
    Relax and don’t worry sooo much about everything! I was an over the top worry wart with my first! Don’t get caught up in the “job” of being mommy, it’s both a job and a journey, you need to enjoy it more!

    What’s one change you’ve made in your parenting or your house or yourself that’s allowed you to breathe easier?
    I have let go of idea that everything needs to be “perfect” and started accepting that “good” is really good enough! I too have a cleaning woman who comes once a month and while it can be a stretch on the budget its nice that I don’t have to spend time I could be with my kids, cleaning!

    Comparison. Blerg. What’s your strategy for not comparing yourself to other moms or your kids to theirs?
    It’s not always easy but finding the right blogs (ie here) and articles that show parenting isn’t easy,it’s hard work and no one is perfect at it, helps. I have a great line from another blog, “I need to stop comparing my blooper reels to others final takes!” I feel like I am not one to compare my kids as much as I compare myself. I have on occasion wondered about certain areas of development but I know that each of my kids will be different and have different strengths and I try to nurture those areas the best I can.

    What’s one of the funniest things your children ever did?
    Oh geese one thing is hard- they truly make me laugh everyday! Especially my 2 1/2 year old because he is so literal with words right now! I told he I loved him to pieces and he said mommy you want to take me apart! Or the time my 3 1/2 year old decided to give her brother a bath in hand sanitizer, and said mommy don’t we smell so good, not so funny at the time but looking back now I can laugh!

    But how do you keep your sense of humor during the tough patches of parenting?
    Great support from family and friends is key! If I couldn’t vent to my friends or family about my day or parenting issues I would be lost! It’s always nice when you can look back and laugh at what happened and my friends are great at helping me do this! It’s nice to know you are not alone in your struggles!

  16. 1.) If you could go back in time and whisper one thing to yourself when you were a parent of young ones, what would it be?
    Well, I still have young ones so I am not entirely sure. But my mantra right now is “This is not your life forever”. The good and amazing things about my kids today will eventually fade, and the hard things will get easier. It reminds me both simultaneously to really treasure my kids, and to persevere when things are crushingly difficult because it will not be hard forever.
    2.) What’s one change you’ve made in your parenting or your house or yourself that’s allowed you to breathe easier?
    Realizing not everything has to be done today. I find myself in the midst of an anxiety attack on my days off staring at the laundry pile, the destroyed house, the empty refrigerator and my three littles that all need attention and realize I can’t get it all done. Then I remind myself that I can get the dishes done the next day, or the laundry can sit in the basket overnight before being put away and it makes it more manageable.
    3.) Comparison. Blerg. What’s your strategy for not comparing yourself to other moms or your kids to theirs?
    Sweet Lord Jesus have Mercy. I am sure the phrase “You’re not good enough” or “You are failing” runs through my head literally over 100 times a day. I should count it up one day and tally how many times my inner voice reminds me that I am less than. I am a true failure at not comparing myself to other moms, especially being a working mom, I feel judged and inferior. The message to me growing up was that women shouldn’t work outside the home because their job from God himself was to be a submissive wife and mother. For those that HAD to work outside the home (and they probably had to because of some sin in their own life) they should at least not enjoy it because they should be missing their kids and their true calling to be at home. Try working full time, keeping a barely sanitary home, and taking your kids through a fast food drive through with that message running through your head. Geez.
    4.) What’s one of the funniest things your children ever did?
    Hmmm… well. One child in particular keeps us well supplied with things that are so horrid they are funny. Like eating poop she found in a McDonald’s play land, or a whole bottle of diarrhea medicine so that when she finally pooped it was the size of a Bocce ball and almost the same hardness as a diamond. Or the kids running out of the house to tinkle in the front yard because it is just more fun to pee in the grass. Take your pick.
    5.) But how do you keep your sense of humor during the tough patches of parenting?
    Despair and humor go hand in hand, so the worse it gets the more funny it gets. I think that parenting is the most amazing job I have ever had. I have never had any other calling in my life than to be a mom, so even in the darkest of moments, the sheer miracle of being a mom with three amazing little kids always seems to make up for it. Cheesy. But true.

  17. 1. Spend more time with them when they are little. Don’t be so busy. Get on the floor and play. No one will care if the house is clean or the laundry is done before Dad gets home. All they want is time with you, so get on the floor and be present. STOP saying, “Just a minute.” This minute will be over soon and you’ll never get it back. (Bonus: They will be happier and behave better when they have your undivided attention.)

    2. I hired a gal to come clean my house every two weeks for two hours. Honestly, it has been the BEST thing for my whole family. Sure, it’s all messed up that evening, but at least I know the toilet areas have been scrubbed by a professional. Plus, it costs WAY less than I thought it would, and has saved my sanity. My husband looks forward to when Julie comes to clean!

    3. Comparison is a hard one. On the one hand, I think my children are the most handsome, smartest, kindest, funniest kids on earth. SO, I’ve learned to extend grace to other moms who think their kids are the very best. On the other hand, it’s easy to want to brag on my kids all the time, but sometimes that needs to be tempered, both for the sizes of my kids’ heads and the heart of the mother I’m talking to. The goal here: I try to remember how much every mom loves her kids, extend grace when the mom next to me is overdoing it, and hold back when the time isn’t right for me to sing praises (something I struggle with). I don’t have this figured out, yet.

    4. My boys are truly developing their wit and senses of humor. EVERY day is an opportunity to hear them say something new or do something funny. This is my way of justifying that my mind is blank and I can’t think of a single episode of hysterical laughter. Mom fail.

    5. I depend on my husband to keep me grounded, and I keep him grounded, too. We look at one another and laugh when our boys are being difficult, or simply commiserate with one another. We are at the easier stage (ages 7 and 10 – MUCH easier than baby/toddler years), so we mostly deal with attitude problems and defiance. We are letting our kids experience natural consequences, which is at times difficult, but most of the time is kind of funny because we told ’em so!! (Not that I say that, but one glance at my husband and we know we are both saying the same thing! “HA! That’ll teach you to disobey!!”)

    1. Hiring a house cleaner–and we have her come every 2 weeks like you–is huge. While I’m not a total slob, my wife’s standard of cleanliness is higher, and it caused a strain for her when things got below a certain point. My advice to any couple is make any budgetary sacrifice necessary to hire a house cleaner.

      Not only is our cleaner a lovely person, but my wife’s face lights up every other Wednesday when she walks into our clean house. Worth it.

      My wife also started lowering her standards about how clean a house with a 4-year-old in it reasonably needs to be.

  18. 1) I have no idea. Ask me again in 10 years when I don’t have little ones any more!
    2) We try to spend the time after dinner picking up around the house and then praying together as a family. It only takes 1/2 hour, max, but it’s amazing how much better the next day is when we deal with the physical and emotional mess.
    3) I’m really bad at this. I try and remember that other moms have crappy days and screw up too, even if I don’t see them.
    4) My 2nd daughter (age 3) crying with streaming tears, “I want a penis” following a discussion of her baby brother’s anatomy and how she will never have one.
    5) All I have to do is look at them and I start to laugh. They are so ridiculous.

    1. Your story about your daughter being upset when she learned she would not get a penis reminded me of my daughter when she was three. She has an older brother and was convinced that when she finally “got her penis” she’d be just like her big brother!

  19. 1. It’s ok for them to cry a little (or even more than a little.) But it’s also ok if you want to hold them.
    2. Not breathing easier. I need a LOT of help here.
    3. Easy – I have the best kid! (Just kidding, but we really are lucky like that.) I am terrible at this, too.
    4. It’s more the funny things he says. He has a great sense of humor, and makes everyone laugh. People are always telling me how funny he is. My older kids (the grown up ones) have done some SUPER funny things, like running away from home and getting as far away as Texas (from Virginia, by way of Atlanta, where she “hung out” with Offspring ) and shooting a BB gun out a friend’s townhouse window at 3:00 a.m which caused a very nice police officer to then knock on my door soon after. It’s possible I’ve repressed some other “funny” moments.
    5. I read your blog, silly.

  20. 1. If you could go back in time and whisper one thing to yourself when you were a parent of young ones, what would it be? Chill and show LOVE more (to everyone). (I tend to be a pragmatist, and it’s not that I don’t love, but feelings just get left behind in the day to day grind).
    2. What’s one change you’ve made in your parenting or your house or yourself that’s allowed you to breathe easier? This one may not sound like parenting advice, but it has had a profound effect in parenting issues (actually all things in the house). I have quit worrying about what [I think] my husband should or shouldn’t be doing and trying to take care of what [I think] he isn’t doing and just tend to my stuff. I made a decision (not easy) to just let it go and not try to manipulate him into it. And Amazing things have happened. Not the things I would have picked. Sometimes much better than I would have picked. and I felt like a weight was lifted from me. It changed the tone in the household. And I discovered that what I thought were big issues weren’t so big. And when I’m not feeling the tension, neither are the kids. [for those who might want to nit-pick – I’m not talking life-and-death or safety issues regarding my husband, but the run of the mill stuff people choose to make issues of. If someone’s safety is at stake, by all means take action!]
    3. Comparison. Blerg. What’s your strategy for not comparing yourself to other moms or your kids to theirs? I tend to not care what other think about me. Except when I do. Or what I think they think. In general (and also because I do not have much time with 6 kids) I stay away from social media. I only follow 2 blogs (this is one) which help with keeping a realistic perspective – i.e. I do not have it the worst 🙂
    4. What’s one of the funniest things your children ever did? When telling child #1 (age 5) that child #3 would soon be arriving, she asked, “Does that mean we have to give A__ (child #2) back?” She had never seen a family with more than 2 children before! We later noted that she just assumed she would be the one staying.
    5. But how do you keep your sense of humor during the tough patches of parenting? With 6 kids ages 2-17, somebody is bound to do something amusing or incredibly stupid soon and provide a good laugh. If not, I just come to Five Kids and read awhile. It usually helps me loads. Or my husband and I look for a funny movie to watch. Or the kids look for Funny Videos. Laughter truly is the best medicine and I appreciate anyone who can help me learn to laugh at myself (or my kids).

  21. If you could go back in time and whisper one thing to yourself when you were a parent of young ones, what would it be?
    Don’t worry. My oldest was a 6 week, 2.14 lb preemie. I felt like I had done something wrong for him to weigh so little. I had meetings with nutritionist every few months and always left feeling like they were going to take him away because he was so underweight. There was no way in the world that I could have, or should have, put that much weight on him that fast. I was so very stressed in the first few years, I would tell me to sit down and enjoy what I had in front of me.

    What’s one change you’ve made in your parenting or your house or yourself that’s allowed you to breathe easier?

    I came to accept that a clean house was just not possible for any given length of time. I am ok with that now…still is taking the hubby time to understand 🙂

    Comparison. Blerg. What’s your strategy for not comparing yourself to other moms or your kids to theirs?

    I only compare when I have developmental concerns. That is more of the preemie thing still. I have good kids, for the most part, so I think I lucked out on this one. I am just happy they get along well.

    What’s one of the funniest things your children ever did? We get a constant laugh out of our youngest who is constantly say the opposite of what she means. Cold is hot, in is out, fish is chicken. Really the things they say are what keep us rolling!

    But how do you keep your sense of humor during the tough patches of parenting?
    I keep a journal of their lives, and lots of pictures to remind me of the good times. That way I can look back and see how fast they grow. I also have the advantage of having the oldest grandchildren on both sides of the family. So I can see what my siblings are struggling with and by seeing their struggles I can see my own as less, and remember that “this too shall pass”

  22. 5 Quick Questions on Parenting
    1. If you could go back in time and whisper one thing to yourself when you were a parent of young ones, what would it be?
    Pay attention to the memories that make you laugh. Remember those.

    2. What’s one change you’ve made in your parenting or your house or yourself that’s allowed you to breathe easier?
    “If it gets done – congratulations. If it doesn’t get done – oh well.”

    3. Comparison. Blerg. What’s your strategy for not comparing yourself to other moms or your kids to theirs?
    Because my two boys are so very, very, very, very (seriously – VERY) different, I actually find it quite easy not to compare my kids to other children. I can’t even compare them to each other!
    Personally, I’ve never been one to compare myself to others. I simply don’t care. So, I go about blissfully turning a blind eye to drama. I find it fascinating how quickly dramatic people turn to others when you don’t participate. I’m no fun to play with, and I’m perfectly, *strategically*, fine with that.

    4. What’s one of the funniest things your children ever did?
    They make me laugh every day. This was the latest from my (just turned) 4 year old:
    Mommy: E, we’re going home to make dinner. You’re going to have a sandwich and a cheese stick. You need to pick a fruit and a vegetable.
    E: I would like grapes for my fruit and a cupcake for my protein!

    5. But how do you keep your sense of humor during the tough patches of parenting?
    My husband and I have started high-fiving each other when we reach the point in the evening that we must enforce some absurd parenting ‘rule’ and the result is both kids screaming at us in FURY.
    Both kids mad? Job well done, honey!!

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