Sunday, June 12, 2011

If I had it to do over again

No need to grab a box of tissues. This one will not end with "I wish I'd held my babies more," because, seriously you guys, I hold my children from dawn to dusk. It's physically impossible to  hold them anymore than I do.

Regret isn't really my style. I see everything as a learning experience. You do it the hard way or the way some expert tells you and then you figure out that it didn't need to be that hard. By the third kid, you have a whole lot of AHA moments. And, then, if you're really a twisted perfectionist like me, you think, "Heck, let's have more now that I figured out this whole kid thing." Sometimes I have to rein in my desire to do it "right" the next time. In fact, I'm starting to see a bit of myself in my son who lately has taken to crying, "We've got to start over" if we skip a step or forget to do something. Like eat the animal crackers at the park. Not good enough to eat them at home. No, no, no. We brought them to the park and, by God, we were supposed to eat them there. Tears and body hurling over this, people. Really.

Ahem. Anyhow. As you can see, there's a little apple/tree thing going on here. Only I'm a bit more rational.

So what do I wish I'd done differently sooner?

A few things, like:

Ditch the bibs and make all meals clothing optional. My kids always yanked their bibs off. Now I have a dozen or so lasagna-stained onesies and tees that no amount of bleach will ever get out. I'm currently brainstorming ways to keep them out of a landfill (as if I don't have enough on my mind already). Pillow stuffing, anyone?

Ditch the fabric high chair cover. On our high chair, at least, you can attach the seat belt directly to the chair. Plastic is so much easier to clean than fabric. And our fabric cover is now moldy, to boot, from  mingling with the dirty kitchen towels in the hamper.

Make mornings alone at home clothing optional, summer or winter, to save on laundry. Underwear or diapers required, of course. Kids' bodies are a lot easier and cheaper to clean than clothing I've found.

Use my blender to make baby food. After years of making baby food in a $10 mini chopper and being dissatisfied with the resulting consistency, I found the blender gave me large batches of Gerber-consistency baby food much cheaper and fresher than the store-bought variety. Owen's favorites: prunes/apples and baked chicken/mixed vegetables/rice cereal.

Be less stressed about which foods to feed when. With Danny, I had a chart with what foods were appropriate for what age. With Fiona, I followed the chart, but gave her milk when she was 10 months old. With Owen, I didn't even wait until a year to feed peanut butter or strawberries. He stuck his fingers in my peanut butter toast when he was 11 months old (and didn't die) and strawberries came into season the month before he turned one. And he was NOT about to be left out of the strawberry feast, people.

Introduce finger foods sooner. Battling for possession of the spoon and getting more food on the child's face, hands and clothing than in his mouth while my own food got cold was just too stressful. For both of us, clearly. They're so much happier when they can feed themselves.

Ditch the kid-sized plastic utensils. All my kids hated them. They all wanted to eat off my plate with my fork.  Plastic kid stuff is apparently insulting to them. Which is probably why they raid the utensil draw and scatter these nonfunctional pieces of crap all over the house.

Ditch the kid dinnerware, bowls, etc. and just save applesauce cups. They're cheap, fit the amount of food that my children actually eat and are completely disposable, which comes in handy when toddlers discover the trash can. They even come with food already in them. It's like a two-for-one deal. I'm convinced that no kid has ever eaten anywhere near the amount that fits in these plastic kid bowls.

Serve all meals on or with a stick. My kids eat more when it's on a skewer or they can pick it up with a toothpick. They even string Cheerios on a toothpick. They are so weird.

Put a hamper on the screen porch. My kids get so dirty that it's easier to just strip them down outside, contain the filthy clothes like hazardous waste and whisk them up for bath time.

Showers. For all of them. Even my 1 year old now takes showers. This is so much easier than baths. And they're not afraid of the water, at all. The downside to this, of course, is that I rarely shower alone anymore. They wander by and suddenly decide they want a shower.

Keep the nail clippers in the car. The experts tell you to clip your children's nails while they are sleeping. But since my children were/are all horrible sleepers their first 18 months, I prefer to let sleeping babies lie. So I recently figured out that having them strapped into their car seats for this is the way to go. They can squawk all they want, they just can't go anywhere. BWAHAHAHAHAH!

Breakfast picnic. A few weeks ago, when our A/C crapped out on us, it was 10 degrees warmer inside that out first thing in the morning. So I took the kids to the airport park with a cooler full of hard boiled eggs, ham and cream cheese burritos and cantaloupe. Wouldn't you know it, the little boogers cleaned me out. They NEVER eat that way at home. The weather was glorious, the kids were happy and I wasn't begging anyone to eat or sweeping up after them. Why didn't I think of this sooner?

I'm sure that I could add more to this list if I wasn't so darn tired. Ironically, the one thing I am certain that I got right? Nursing each child through the night for as long as they needed. Sure, I've bitched and moaned about sleep deprivation for about four years now. But, somehow I knew, despite all expert opinion to the contrary, responding to their needs overnight was the right thing to do. It might have been inconvenient and difficult, but no one ever said having kids would be convenient or easy.

That's why I do what's easiest in the daily grind -- basically, to save my energy for the important stuff.

1 comment:

Kelley said...

Liked this. I've always thought showers where you have the hand held head and just kinda hose your kids off standing in the tub would work best. The high-chair we had as kids had the vinyl seat that you can wipe down. I think they stopped making all the convenient stuff from when we were kids in favor of "flashier" stuff. And maybe you're right about the plastic kid dishes, but I couldn't resist buying a plastic divided fish plate for my future niece or nephew on sale. Maybe you can pass those dirty onesies to another parent to dress their kids in before eating for kind of a full-body bib :-)