As a MOTY, you're probably drowning daily in a sea of plastic toys and Goldfish cracker crumbs, giving your toddler the stink eye, and scouring the Internet for an algorithm that proves your kid is ready to start cleaning up his or her shit. Once Baby is ready, there are many ways to delegate and organize. For instance:
The Job Jar is a popular way to go. And it's MOTY approved as long as you follow a couple simple guidelines. First, play the long game by spending the first several years of Baby's life instilling the exaggerated notion that stickers are sacred. Hoard them. Praise them. Use them with great care. That way, stickers will work as currency, and you can avoid actual allowance discussions until their peers clue them on, you know, actual currency. Second, you don't need popsicle sticks, fabric, twine or a fucking mason jar. The job jar is about making less work for you -- not more.
Before you get too caught up in how you will enforce chores, you need to seriously consider when you should introduce them. Obviously, the earlier you can start instilling responsibility in your child (and removing to-do's from your own list), the better. However, like starting solid food, there is a real science to it. Here are a few basic points to consider:
Remember that even though babies are vacant lumps for a long time, they are people, too. Very early on, your baby is already telling you how she needs to interact with the world. For instance, does your baby cry inconsolably at sudden noises? Even sudden noises that happen on a daily basis, like the dishwasher starting up or your own dog barking at passersby? It's tempting to say, "Get a grip, baby. This is your life." But, an aversion to noises can actually be sign that you are raising an introvert.
If so, congratulations! Introverts are highly intelligent, creative and empathetic people. (And, introvert babies are less social, so you won't feel compelled to sit through tiresome mommy groups, drinking weak tea and talking about how many wet diapers your kids produce each day. Yawn.) The more you can help your baby keep a low profile, the happier you both will be. Give her space. Let her explore the world at her own pace, preferably incognito.
A true MOTY doesn't have time to deal with a truckload of baby equipment every time an ass needs wiped. Try doubling up the functionality of items you are already using as part of your own daily routine. For instance, a yoga mat doubles as a large, comfy change mat.
BONUS Tip: If you are too tired to bang your overly horny partner, put on a hot pink hooded fleece onsesie. You'll be curled up with a good book or stalking old high school peeps on social media in no time.
Have you seen it yet? The newest "kidspiration" being shared on social media? If not, take a second to absorb this impeccable garden-themed lunch plate with its cheerful insects concocted from fresh fruit and veggies. Cute, right? And, sure, the rational part of my brain views this as a really healthy manifestation of a mother's love -- both emotionally and from a dietary perspective. But, the huge, twitching MOTY part of me just wants to shout, "Come on!"
Who is making these lunches? Who has the time? Who has the patience? Who keeps candy eyes on hand? Don't tomatoes taste gross with frosting on them? And, are we really just cool with candy and frosting being part of lunch now? (If so, I may not be failing quite so resoundingly....)
But, most importantly, are your kids eating these lunches you have so meticulously prepared?
Because my kids don't eat anything I prepare. Ever. If I thought there was even the remotest chance that a grape caterpillar would inspire my son Henry to eat something besides processed carbs, I might just muster enough motivation to give this a whirl. Hey, I've tried making shapes out of cheese or using the cookie cutters on a PB & J. But, we're talking about a kid who only recently came out of what my husband and I referred to as his Tuna Period. Maybe you're thinking we called it his Tuna Period because all he ate during this time was tuna. Wrong. Henry's Tuna Period was a dark time in our family when, regardless of what type of food he was eating, he would chew it until it devolved into pinkish-brownish pulp and then deposit it somewhere in the vicinity of his plate. Essentially, he "tuna-ed" all of his food. So much so that my daughter, who has the misfortune of sitting across the table from Henry, actually once vomited in disgust during breakfast (and I'm fairly certain she has eaten boogers).
So, no, my kids are not eating anything I prepare. For example, tonight's dinner:
Ultimately, Henry didn't eat a single bite. He also tipped his water glass completely upside down, pushed his plate across the table in a rage and took his pants and underwear off (because why not, at that point.)
In our house, the general rule of thumb seems to be, if it ain't Cheese Nips, Henry ain't eating it. So, mamas, if you're making friendly, edible garden buddies and your kids are yumming them down, hats off. But, please, for those of us entrenched in the lunch wars, create a private group or something, yeah?
We all know kids suck at playing Hide and Seek. Like, big time. Their self-centered, underdeveloped toddler mentalities blind them from the gaping reality that just because they can't see you doesn't mean that any half-sober, mildly competent adult can't see them. But, that's toddlers. Did you know that babies are actually pretty decent at hiding? Check it out!
Listen, mamas, I know we all have the best of intentions. The iPotty is pure, white-hot evil. No TV until kindergarten. Austere limitations on all screen time (Don’t even let your kid press his nose to an actual screen while looking out the window lest passersby judge you for this audacious allowance). Well, we all know that saying about the best-laid plans…
But, why are we secretly subjecting our toddlers to seizure-inducing colors and mindless hot dog songs? Because, buried deep, deep in the banal storyline there may possibly be a life lesson about sharing? Instead, let’s make screen time count! It’s never too soon to start raising culturally sensitive global citizens. For instance, check out Midge taking in Parisian street views on a rainy day.
So, we're sitting in the director's office at my son's jardin (preschool) here in Bogota, and he's telling us how happy he is that Des is back.
Director: "Des is doing excellent. His Spanish has improved tremendously."
Me: "How is he with the other kids?"
Director: "Let's just say that he continues to have success with the ladies."
Ever since Des was little, he always got along with his girlfriends. One of the first friends he made at the jardin was Luciana, but he called her Lulu (except it came out "Wuwu" because he couldn't say his Ls). She was his first friend when he couldn't speak Spanish and would sit alone in a corner so that he wouldn't have to interact with the other kids. Although Des has now opened up and made several good little friends at each of the various preschools he has attended, Lulu continues to be his best friend more than a year and a half later.
Earlier today, we were sitting next to Lulu's mom, Eugenia, at a birthday party. She told us how well Lulu and Desmond got along and wouldn't it be wonderful if they ended up together.
"We should just arrange their marriage, like they do with royalty."
Forevermore, any girlfriend (or boyfriend if that's his preference) will be compared to the incomparable Luciana, to Des's first love.
Ok. Gotta go start drafting that marriage contract. It's never too early for a mama to do the best thing for her child.
I’ve never been very good with change. I think too much. I act too little. I cup milestones in shaking hands, willing the cracks between my fingers to just…hold…tight. But you’re growing, sweet girl, you’re growing. From bundle of cells to floppy newborn to dimpled baby to this – this upright toddler eager on unsteady feet, breathless and wide-eyed and ready. You’re trusting your feet, learning to balance the preposterous proportions of head and belly, and taking your first real steps across the hardwood floors.
With my first child, I anticipated each miniscule change, charted developments, celebrated fully. Too tired and too new and too constantly engaged to realize that each first was a subtle passing. With my second child, I greeted milestones with an absentminded warmth, a mild surprise, never quite remembering exactly when to expect them. Too busy and too confident and too infinitely distracted to build heady meanings for every such and such.
But with you, my last baby, all I have is a present mind and a wistful heart. When people ask if you’ve done this yet or started that, I say, firmly, almost territorially, “She’s in no rush. She can be a baby as long as she wants.”
What I mean of course is, “I’m in no rush.”
I’m too honest and too sentimental and too vulnerable to let you take even the smallest step away from me without the dull chest ache of bittersweet longing. Often, in the quiet intimacy of you wrapped in a green towel, all wet eyelashes and goose-pimpled skin, I whisper into your temple, “Take your time.”
On particularly greedy days, “Slow down, slow down.”
We love our kids. They drive us crazy. We write about it instead of going insane.