Friday, January 02, 2009

Dear Mommy Muse, First Edition

A semi-regular feature designed to give advice that is actually useful, and keep me from sending out the same emails over and over again when desperate souls seek assistance from the Queen of Domestic Chaos, aka Mommy Muse.

Dear Mommy Muse,
My carpet shows every little speck of dirt and rubbish. I spend my day vaccuuming and yelling at the kids if they so much as walk across the room. What can I do?

Dear Frazzled,
Stop wearing your glasses indoors. Ditto to contacts.
--Mommy Muse

Dear Mommy Muse,
I'm concerned about identity theft. We're drowning in junk mail. Should I buy a paper shredder or pay for one of those shredding services to come by every week?

Dear Worried,
You could do either of those options, but you have a much easier, more organic solution at your fingertips. Rip each credit card offer into 2-3 pieces and stuff them inside Junior's poopy diaper. Rumor has it that criminals occasionally go through garbage to steal identities; my feeling is that if they have the stomach to sort through the contents of Eric's blowout bombs, they've earned that soggy, smeared, illegible, and incredibly aromatic credit card offer.

Dear Mommy Muse,
My kids eat on the run, literally. They refuse to stay in their seats at meal time. Food gets tracked all over the house. I can't keep up!
--Going Crazy

Dear Going Crazy,
You have several options. You could take a page from my excellent parenting friends, Amy & Tyler, and tie your children to their chairs:
You can follow the old adage, "Butt gets off the chair; butt gets a spank." Or you could concede this battle and focus instead on containing the mess. For this one I turned to the M.O.M. (Move Over, Martha) Advisory Board. Those erstwhile Voices of Wisdom & Experience (aka Brain Pain & the Divine Ms. B) suggest an invasion of household ants. They assure me that ants are spectacularly good at getting every last crumb and lick of food up from dirty floors. Problem solved.
--Mommy Muse

Dear Mommy Muse,
I'm 17 and I like to spend Friday & Saturday nights watching romantic movies. The problem is my 14 year old brother likes to watch them with me and he just makes fun of them and ruins the movie. What should I do?

Dear Jane,
Get a life! If you want to LIVE your romantic dream, spend your Friday and Saturday nights doing something other than drooling over someone else's fictional version. As far as your brother goes, my resident relationship guru Michelle advises "Unless he's gay or looking to get laid, don't watch a chick flick with a guy." Enough said.

Dear Mommy Muse,
By the time we make it through our nighttime routine of dinner, cleanup, baths, stories, prayers & scriptures, lullabies, drinks of water, and never-ending sticky bedtime kisses, it's well past witching hour and I'm turning into a pumpkin. A few hours and it's time to start all over again. Help!

Dear Exhausted,

Let's take this one step at a time.

Dinner: rotate between chicken nuggets, frozen pizza, and sloppy joes. Serve on paper plates. Have kids dispose of their own tableware post-dinner. Voila--you just cut at least an hour off dinner & cleanup.

Baths: bathing for small children is highly overrated, unless it's the summer time and they are outside grubbing in the dirt all day (although hosing them down on the front lawn can buy you a couple of days between baths). Take this same idea indoors during cooler months. Buy a flexible shower head on a long hose. Line the kids up in the tub, hand them each a bar of soap and a washcloth and go to town. I can get four soiled kiddos in and out within 15 minutes.

Stories: yes, reading to your child is very important and in fact, is essential to ensuring that s/he winds up at Harvard, wins a Rhodes scholarship, marries in the temple, and becomes a General Authority later in life. However, you've got to keep it under control. Rule one, if your children can't read yet, shave precious moments off the reading time by only reading a few words from each page. Summarize. Rule two, once they can read and catch you out, stop reading and start telling your own stories. Make up outlandish and extreme tales from your supposed childhood that will preserve the "my-mommy-is-the-coolest" for at least another year or so. Bonus--you get to determine the length of these stories.

Prayers & Scriptures: Of critical importance. I'm reminded of what Sister Julie B. Beck, the General RS President shared in last February's Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting: "I had a wonderful young mother approach me. She had four children under the age of six, and she said, 'We are being faithful in trying to have our family scripture study every morning, but it’s just a disaster. Somebody’s always crying; they don’t pay attention.' And I said, 'How long are you trying to do this?' She said, 'Well, we set a goal to do 10 minutes every day.' And I said, 'Well, with the audience you have, you’re probably about 8 minutes too long.' " Small children love repetition, and they love accomplishing hard things. We don't read scriptures so much as we memorize scriptures. We focus on the same verse over and over for a couple of weeks, until everyone has it down. You haven't lived until you've watched your kids screaming out at the top of their lungs, necks and eyes bulging with the effort, "FOR GOD HATH NOT GIVEN US THE SPIRIT OF FEAR, BUT OF POWER, AND OF LOVE, AND OF A SOUND MIND!!! 2 TIMOTHY 1:7!!!" Bonus--the words are being "enraven on [their] hearts." And lungs. And ears. And the ears of everyone within 3 miles of our house.

Lullabies: see advice above re: stories. Make up your own. Not musically inclined? No worries. My eldest's favorite is a tuneless ditty that goes like this: "Lalala, Mommy loves Grace. Lalala, Mia loves Grace," and it just repeats forever, adding on all the people who love Grace. Face it--most of us aren't picky about quality when it comes to being adored.

Drinks of water: Unless you plan to change sheets repeatedly, why on earth are your kids getting drinks after dinner time? Ah--perhaps you are like me and simply keep them in diapers until they are fourteen or so. If that's the case, a sippy cup or water bottle next to each bed will eliminate the nonstop calls for one more drink.

Sticky Bedtime Kisses: Keep a wet wipe handy (Mommy Muse's Rule #42--a box of wipes should be found in every room of the house) and get the stickies off prior to the kisses. Enjoy, 'cause you'll have a lot of years to remember each little squeezy hug and sticky kiss, and the memory will be all you get.
--Mommy Muse

Got a question for Mommy Muse? Feel free to post it in the comments section. The M.O.M. Advisory Board and my Resident Relationship Guru would be happy to tackle your most vexing dilemmas.


Our Adoption Journey said...

I loved this! I'm not sure if you should online date or not. I want to see you find happiness and someone to love on, but I do enjoy your blog so much that I would hate to see you quit blogging. And you did make another great point that online dating might give you a great chance for more blog material. What to do, what to do?

Christiejo said...

Thank you for making me laugh so hard! That's priceless.