Why Mommy needs alone time: Part 2

My last post left off with an annoying child in a grocery store and a study about children being more aggravating than they used to be.

Let's deal with the child first.

His Mom didn't budge. That boy said her name about 200 times between the checkout line and the door, at which point she turned to him and said, "I already told you, 'No.' And that was my final answer."

I caught up with her in the parking lot and (because I talk to strangers) said, "Nice job sticking to your guns, Mom. That's the way to raise a man." She smiled at me and we had that Mother-to-Mother moment that is often only captured in movies on the Hallmark channel.

Now let's deal with that study.


Are children really more aggravating? I doubt it. If you read the study, it's all self-reported data. But a lot has changed in the past 15 years: The economy, which parent stays home with the children, technology and our attention spans. I have a feeling that everyone's stress levels are running a little higher than they should, and children feed off that energy.

What to do about this? Why not take a page from your parent's playbook (thanks, Mom!) When I was little and fairly certain I was about to drive my mother over the edge, she sent me outside to play. (Or to my room to play if it was night or raining.)

And so that is what I'm doing now. My son is perfectly capable of playing by himself with the obscene amount of toys that he has. When he has asked me the same question for the fiftieth time, I ask him to go play in his room, and I can let go of my stress. When we both feel better, we can meet up again and talk about our emotions.

Because, let's face it: We all need a little alone time.

What would you do if you had a whole day just for yourself?

Why Mommy needs some alone time - Part 1

I am in the store by myself.

This is odd for me. I am usually accompanied by my son and husband, or at least by my son. But, he did NOT want to go grocery shopping with me, and my sweet husband elected to stay home with him and build with Legos or set up racetracks or do whatever it is they do together during man time.

Which leaves me in the store by myself.

I am always caught slightly off guard when this happens to me - like I have forgotten something really, really important, but can't remember what it is. But, by the end of my shopping trip, I start to feel comfortable with the alone time and know that I will mourn its passing.

So, I am standing in the checkout line, and in the line next to me is a boy about my son's age. He is tugging at his mother's shirt and saying, "Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Moooo-ooooom, Mom, Mom, Mom..."

And she looks like she is going to snap.

At this point, I am very thankful my son is not with me, because (gasp), what if he saw that behavior and wanted to give it a try? I'm working on my patience and am not sure if I would have that kind of resolve.

But, I'm also reminded of this study that basically claims that children are more aggravating than they were 15 years ago.

(Ummmm...you're welcome, Mom.)

So, let's talk about that more next time. In the meantime, what's the worst behavior you've ever witnessed in a public place?

Learning how to play it safe

My son has a special title: He is our safety officer. Whenever we get in the car to go to school, I tell him that he is responsible for making sure everyone is buckled up for safety. When he helps me cook in the kitchen, I've given him the responsibility for making sure I am being safe around the stove.

Like most parents, my husband and I try to give our son a sense of balance: My husband has always encouraged our son to test his limits, but I am always a bit more nervous about his safety. But, it turns out, most Moms are that way.

A group of researchers at the University of Iowa tested how Mothers and their children rated various dangerous scenarios - everything from climbing on a counter to using an axe (they didn't actually give children an axe, they just talked about it). Not surprisingly, there was a vast difference in the danger ratings.

So how can we help discuss potential hazards for our children in a way that will help them with safety? Here are some tips:
  • Although you may initially get your child's attention with phrases like "Don't do that!" don't forget to explain why. 
  • Use terms that explain exact consequences, not things that could happen in the future, since children are usually only interested in their immediate needs.
  • Designate your child to be in charge of safety for a day and have them point out dangerous situations to family members.
  • Use empathetic storytelling to tell your child about your own injuries; let them know that you aren't impervious to pain.
  • Try to let the little things go.
That last one is hard, since we all want to keep our children safe, but I feel like I need to follow in my husband's footsteps sometimes and let our son push his boundaries.

What's the worst injury you had as a child from not being safe?

The effects of second-hand television

My son and I are in the grocery store, and the nice man bagging our groceries sees my son's Batman-logo t-shirt.

"Cool shirt," he says and whips out his cell phone's Bataman-logo case. "Are you Batman? Are you off to fight the Joker?"

My son looks bewildered, so I try to explain. "My son doesn't watch much TV, so he doesn't really know a lot about Batman. He just knows that Batman is a hero and has a neat logo."

Now the guy is looking at me like I'm crazy.

Which makes me ask myself, "Are my TV limitations for my son wrong? Will my son get bullied or picked on in school because he doesn't know who a popular character is or watch a certain show?"

I mean, I know that too much television is wrong. Dozens of studies warn us about the damaging effects of television before the age of two, or that it causes social issues, or that it could disrupt children's sleep. But what about social awkwardness because my son can't relate to what his friends are watching?

But then I take a deep breath and realize something...he didn't learn about Batman in our household. He picked that up at school from his friends. The same way he picked up knowledge of Superman, Disney princesses, Spiderman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Thomas the Tank Engine.

So, for now, I'll keep my limited TV rules in place, and continue to steer him toward the educational and fun programing that is age-appropriate for him (Except for Thomas. I can't stand that train; that show is so horribly boring.) Like most parents, I'll need to stay flexible as he grows up and we can reassess his viewing habits when he enters Kindergarten. 

Most of us watch too much TV as adults. What's the one show you should give up watching but just can't do it yet? Tell me in the comments.