Saturday, November 30, 2013

Getting Out the Door (with Kids)

Allow me paint a picture for you.  It's called:  Leaving the House with Children.  It's inspired by comedian Michael McIntyre's stand-up act comparing people with and without children.  His catch-phrase of sorts (You have NO IDEA) is spot-on.  You simply don't know until you know.

[For a 6 minute video clip of his hilarious act, check out the Huff Post.]

If you do not have kids, you will likely think I am exaggerating when I say:  it recently took me 10 minutes to get my kids ready for a 5 minute stint in the yard.  But I am not kidding.

It's winter in Minnesota, so to go outside, you have to put it all on: coat, of course, but also mittens, hats, and boots.  Does my 3 year old son like coats?  No.  Mittens?  Hats?  No, of course not.  It is an epic battle of wills.  Every. Single.  Time.

                                                                   (Image from 123RF)


My daughter?  She's younger (1), so can't verbally fight her way out of it, but she can waddle away from me at surprisingly fast speeds.

I eventually got them both bundled up.  Then I decided I better use the bathroom before going out (mothers rarely get to use the bathroom).  My son follows me into the bathroom and takes his shoes off. The baby comes in too and proceeds to rapidly take every toothbrush, roll of toilet paper, and feminine hygiene product out of the cabinet and strew them on the floor.  I take a deep breath.  We are going outside, I think, determined.

I chase my son around to put his shoes back on.  I wrestle a tampon out of my daughter's hands.  I'm sweating as I wrangle on my own coat and step into my own boots.  The clock reads:



We get outside into the brisk but sunny November weather.  The baby wanders around and heads towards the street.  I run after her.  My son wants me to spin him around in the air by holding his hands in an "airplane."  I do it.  I get dizzy.  My daughter attempts to scamper towards the street again.  I chase after her.  We all run around in a grand attempt at tag and hide-and-go-seek.  It's fun.  It feels nice to get fresh air.  The kids start getting cold (never mind if I'm cold), and we head back in.  It's 4:05.

Seriously.  This really happened.  The I-have-to-laugh-or-I'll-cry thing is that this is not at all unusual in our household.  It is so ridiculous, and before I had kids, I never would have believed me either.

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

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Monday, November 25, 2013

What the Flicka

If you are a mom or a soon-to-be-mom, be sure to check out the website What the Flicka, created by the smart, funny actress Felicity Huffman.  As the website says, it "features fun and easy tips from Flicka (Felicity) herself, as well as her celebrity friends, sisters, experts, and other guest bloggers...we talk about life, children, family, cooking, beauty, fashion, books, the latest thing we are obsessed with, and of course, urban mom survival tips.  

I like the writers on there because they keep it real.  Articles are typically lighter fare to make you laugh at the craziness of motherhood.

I'm thrilled to be one of their new contributing writers, and my first article started running today:




                        Click this link to check it out:  Tips for Traveling with Babies and Toddlers 

In it, I share a few humorous but hopefully helpful ways to stay sane when flying the very unfriendly skies with little ones (Hint: wine is involved).

Thank you to all of my readers for tuning in.  With your support, I hope my blog is making a difference for moms everywhere, with the underlying message being:  you are NOT alone in this!

~Frantic Mama


Monday, November 18, 2013

Phobias: What Scares You?


A phobia is defined as:  an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something.

People casually throw out this word, as in I'm totally phobic of germs/public bathrooms/wearing my swimsuit to the beach.  But many of us have a real phobia, one that we are embarrassed to share or afraid to admit to.  One that makes our hearts thump just thinking about it.  Common phobias are:  fear of heights, fear of spiders, fear of public speaking.

If you are fortunate enough to not have a phobia, it might be easy to shrug off those that do, blaming their irrational, ignorant brains.  But I urge you not to judge.  Supposedly, an estimated 8.7% of Americans have some sort of specific phobia (that's 19.2 million American adults).  Beginning onset averages at age 7. (National Institute of Mental Health).  While that is a lot of people, I'm beginning to think more-- if not most-- people have some sort of phobia, whether kept in the closet or aired out in the open.




What's mine?  Flying, e.g. Aerophobia.  Lots of people don't like flying, you might note.  Who wants to drive to the airport, pay $25 dollars a day to park in the lot, wait in endless security, put all your liquids on display, wander the airport, find out your flight is delayed, wander the airport more, eat unhealthy airport food, board the plane only to sit in a stuffy cloud of other peoples farts, being 11th in line to take off, waiting for the snack cart to reach your last row seat?  (Multiply the challenges of air travel by 10 if traveling with young kids).  No one thinks it's fun, right?  Air travel is rarely luxurious anymore.  I would be shocked if pilots can keep a straight face when they encourage us over the intercom to "relax and enjoy the flight."

However, on top of all these typical annoyances, I'm scared.  And I mean scared.  Of course I know rationally that it is safer to fly than drive.  That chances of something serious happening on a plane are something like 1 in a million.  But that's part of what defines a phobia-- it is irrational.

The problem is that it doesn't feel irrational.  Especially when I'm booking a flight, getting on a plane, and worst of all-- taking off.  The dizziness, the heart pounding, the sense of panic, the churning stomach is all very real.  My fear has only gotten worse as I've gotten older because I feel I have so much to lose. I have a wonderful husband and two little dumplings.  I don't want something to happen to me or to them.

In part, I'm writing about my phobia to get to the positive side:  my deep fear of flying has not totally prevented me from doing it (wine helps).  My sister lives across the country, and if I want to see her, I usually have to fly there.  I don't want my irrational fear to keep my son and daughter away from my sister's children.  We also usually fly for a family vacation once a year; I don't want to look back 20 years from now and say, "oh we never went on vacation because I was too scared to fly."  And I certainly do not want my kids to inherit my crippling, heart-pounding fear.  So, each time, after sweating and swearing on the plane I'll never do it again, I do.  I book another flight.

What are you scared of?  Does it prevent you from doing something you might love?  Have you ever conquered a phobia?  How?

~Frantic Mama

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Since When is Being Shy so Terrible?

This is probably something you have only noticed if you have a reserved, shy, and/or introverted child. Or if that's how you define your own personality.  Having a child that fits this personality type, I've observed a general consensus that being shy or reserved is something to "work" on.  Apparently, it's not as good as being outgoing and extroverted.

But why is being reserved, watchful-- or even shy-- so negative?  I have frequently found that 'watchers' (we'll call them) are more observant, more sensitive to others, and really, to be totally honest, often smarter than those of us who just recklessly dive right into something.

I'm a bit of an odd mix, I suppose.  I like to chalk it up to being a Gemini (the twin Zodiac sign):  I'm outgoing and not at all shy, but I'm also textbook introverted-- spending time being social in a big group is exhausting to me.  I've read that extroverts become energized by being with others.  That's certainly not me.

Like husband and me, my 3 year old son falls into the introverted category.  He seems to prefer smaller groups.  Big groups and crowds completely overwhelm him.  However, different from me but similar to my husband, my son also falls into the reserved, watchful category.  He might wave to a passerby, but he certainly doesn't jump into the center of a group to command attention.  In fact, he cried when all of us surrounded him and sang happy birthday on his 3rd birthday.

                                             (Not my kid, but it could be; Image from ConsumerBell).

I'm fine with this.  That is, I've learned to be fine with this.  Because I admit this personality type can be challenging to parent.  (Just try explaining why your kid cries when people are celebrating his birthday or runs into another room when friends come over.  It can be embarrassing.).  He also doesn't like having people over, which is tough on me (even I would like some adult contact during the day!).  He is usually quiet at preschool and in groups, so I don't think teachers know how much is going on in his busy little brain.  He certainly doesn't have a large social circle (then again, do any 3 year olds?).

Fortunately, I've come to appreciate that there are many positives about this temperament, some of which outweigh the challenges.  Isn't there something most charming about a shy smile?  Isn't the more reserved person often the most thoughtful and least aggressive?  They aren't busy talking; they're busy listening.  When he says something really smart, he covers up his eyes with his hands to hide from praise; it's painfully adorable.  There is something inexplicably humble about the shy person.  They don't feel the need or desire to be the center of attention.

Perhaps that's why I married a watcher.  And why I'm learning to embrace a watching child as well.

Here's what I'd like to propose for any interested parties:  let's not see shyness/introversion/reticence as so innately negative.  Please stop looking at me with pity if my son hides a bit behind my coat when entering a new situation.  Please stop trying to make him be the center of attention.  Please stop sighing when you tell me "he didn't really play with the other kids" at school that day or that he wasn't the first to jump in the baby pool.  He may not be easy-peasy, but he's just fine.  Really.  I love him just the way he is.

~Frantic Mama

*I have recently read Elaine Aron's book, The Highly Sensitive Child.  Whoa!  My son absolutely fits her description of a Highly Sensitive temperament.  If some of the above sounds familiar, you can read more of my thoughts on Aron's book here.

*I'm honored this piece was featured on Mamapedia.  Check it out here!

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Friday, November 8, 2013

Frantic Mama Writes

*Updated August 2014

Ever since I was little, I've wanted to be a writer.  Other careers occasionally caught my interest (being a judge, a psychologist, or a teacher (the last of which I eventually became)).  I even made a family newspaper when I was in 5th grade and delivered it on Sundays under bedroom doors.  While teaching, and before I had children, I wrote a young adult book.  It is currently tucked inside one of the filing cabinets in our basement, saved on a single floppy disk.  I'm scared to get it out.  It's just too overwhelming to polish it up and then somehow get it published in the insanely competitive world of agents and editors.

Until I become brave enough to dust off the old floppy, to satisfy my passion for writing, I write about my life as a mother.  What better material is there really?

I'm thrilled that Mamalode (my favorite online magazine about life as a parent) is featuring some of my pieces.  You might have read a few on my blog before:  one is about the 10 head-slapping, red-faced-inducing things many of us said about raising kids before having our own children.  You know, when we were such experts on child-rearing.  The other is a more serious look at adjusting to new motherhood.

To support me by checking out the piece on Mamalode, just click here:

                                                            (Image from Mamalode.com)


Here is a personal one I wrote about postpartum anxiety, posted August 2014 on Mamalode.

(Image from Mamalode.com)


If you have a chance, it would be awesome if you could share it with friends, like it on Facebook, or Tweet it.  (It is also on Mamalode's Facebook timeline:  www.Facebook.com/Mamalode).  But no pressure, because just like here at my home, I'm sure your kids are about to wake up early from naps, color on your white walls, poop in their pants, etc.  You're busy.

In my own small quest to become a real, live writer, my core readers (especially my own mother, of course!) have been the most encouraging.  Thank you so much for your support.

~Frantic Mama








Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Not Cut Out for This

One cold November morning I had one of those, I'm not cut out for this! moments.  The exhausting, traumatizing moments of motherhood that you can't necessarily prevent, and that you do not soon forget.

I was picking up my 3 year-old son from preschool.  It was pouring rain.  I had my one-year-old daughter in tow.  I was getting over a sinus infection.  It was one day after Daylight Savings.  The list goes on.  When we got to the parking lot, I managed to find a single faraway empty parking spot.  I had to prop open my umbrella over the car door to get my daughter out of the car while trying to keep us both somewhat dry until we got in the building.

After plenty of struggling, my daughter and I made it inside, dragging the travel stroller behind me, as she had refused to sit in it.  On Mondays, there is a swim lesson at the end of  my son's class.  It sounds terrific, right?  I had no idea how hard it would make pick-up Every. Single. Monday.

Allow me to set the scene for you:  the indoor pool area is incredibly hot and humid.  I was wearing a down vest to protect me from the brutal Minnesota elements and still holding my getting-heavier-by-the-second, fearless toddler so that she wouldn't run directly into the pool.  My ubiquitous yoga pants were now wet from the rain, and I was in a sweat within a few seconds of entering the pool area.

Before I could even wave hello, my son was out of the pool, standing in his wet swim trunks yelling for me to take them off.  In front of everyone.  All of the other children in his class were still happily swimming in the pool.  He was the only one who had clearly decided he was finished.

I rushed over to him to avoid the tantrum I knew was brewing, but I couldn't find his bag of clothes.  My daughter started crying for me to put her down, presumably so she could try out a cannonball despite the fact she cannot swim.  The sweat beaded on my forehead.  My son was getting more frustrated trying to pull his own swimsuit down at this point, and soon enough it was very possible that he would be completely naked in a large public space.  I was also somewhat aware that his teacher was trying to tell me something.  I still have no idea what she was saying.  My nose was running and I had no tissues or free hands to wipe it anyway.  Uncomfortable does not begin to describe my state, and the fun was just beginning.

The other preschool moms-- without toddlers in tow-- were sitting comfortably in chairs by the pool, enjoying their break and watching their kids splash and swim.  Probably looking at me with a mixture of pity and relief that they weren't me.

This is awesome, I thought, feeling the many pairs of eyes focused on my children and me.

Against all odds, I eventually shuffled my angry toddler and 3 year-old son into the locker room and proceeded to force my daughter in the travel stroller so that I could focus on getting my son dressed.  He was now naked.  I rummaged for his clothes and then glanced over to find that my daughter had miraculously freed herself from the stroller and was aimlessly wandering the locker room and touching every germ-ridden surface she could reach.  I strapped her back into the stroller, despite her loud protests and surprisingly strong arms.

The locker room was filling up with other families now, possessing what seemed like perfectly calm, well-behaved children.

I turned back to my son.  I couldn't find his socks.  Let's just put the shoes on and get out of here, I mumbled, grabbing his shoes.  "I NEED socks!" he yelled, apparently deciding for the first time in his entire life that he wanted to wear socks.  Knowing I couldn't win this one, I fished through my bag and found a pair, and got him dressed as quickly as I could.  But then he found his other t-shirt in his school bag.  He insisted on layering his shirts.  They had to be layered.  He also wondered [over and over] what was causing the loud noise he heard in the locker room.  My daughter started to share her hungry cry with the crowd.  All I wanted was to get us home.

But remember, it was pouring rain.  So I wasn't done yet.  I had lost my umbrella at some point during all the excitment.  My hungry, tired children and I wandered the large, busy building and by the grace of God eventually found it.  I could have cared less if I got sopping wet at this point (I already resembled a drowned rat), but there is nothing my son hates more than having water on his clothes.  Seriously.  There is no way he would have left the building without rain protection, and I wasn't strong enough to carry two kicking and screaming children to the car.

Armed with my umbrealla, we made it to the door of the building, and I tried to balance the umbrella over the kids and myself as we waddled to our faraway parking spot in the windy, gray November weather.  The kids stayed somewhat dry.  I was soaking wet.  Tired.  Shivering.  Embarrassed.  And still sick.




That's it, I thought, as I realized I had dropped my car key in the middle of the parking lot, I'm not cut out for this!

It was one of those mornings where I wanted to wave that white flag of surrender, and though a few episodes of Dora later we all started to recover, I'm not sure I will ever forget it.


~Julia @ Frantic Mama

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Sunday, November 3, 2013

To Make You Laugh

I'm under the weather, and I needed a pick-me-up, so I found a few fun pictures.  Here are some that I hope make you chuckle too:

                       
                           This rings true:




Remember bunk beds?  This poor kid always will (image from Dumpaday.com.  



Remember the Jersey Shore?  See below.




                     
                                  And, well, this is just ridiculously cute (image from WhatTheFlicka.com)





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