Parenting and the McDonald's Playplace


Like most families, we have a few meal time rules that keep our kids healthy and our meal times sane. I serve healthy foods, and my kids are reasonably expected to eat what I serve. We all sit at the table together until everyone is done. We don't graze. When my kids get down to play, I put their food away for good. 

But here's the deal. NONE of those rules apply to my kids at the McDonald's play place.

I was pondering this the other day while sitting alone at my table surrounded by half-eaten chicken nuggets. I watched a young mother and her two-year-old engage in the epic YOU-MUST-EAT-ALL-YOUR-FOOD-BEFORE-YOU-GO-PLAY food battle. Her struggle was real, and her little boy's determination admirable.

For years now I've taken my kids to fast food play places as a fun, well-controlled place for them to let off a little energy, and it never fails that I see at least one parent who is trying desperately to enforce the standard meal time rules while their child is staring dreamy-eyed at all the other kids running around and having fun. 

Those other kids are my kids. Their food is sitting out on our table almost completely untouched for the moment. They will come back in 10 minutes or so and eat for a while until something catches their eye and they are off to play again. I'm personally am okay with that. 

I brought them here to play and be kids and enjoy a very unhealthy lunch because it's fun and we needed a break from our regular turkey, cheese, and carrots. This is a treat, and a fighting food battle right now really kind of takes the joy out of it. 

You won't ever hear me saying things like, "Eat all your french fries and then you can go play," because honestly, french fries aren't that good for them anyway. I'd much rather them enjoy themselves, leaving me and everyone around me to eat in peace. 

And sometimes we eat cookies in the Wal-Mart parking lot. 
Of course, I understand that not all moms feel as I do about these things. Maybe it's important to you that your child eat their meal. Maybe you are on a road trip and won't get to eat again for several hours. Maybe you just have a big problem with wasting food. Maybe your child is severely malnourished and *needs* those french fries right now. 

There are definitely times when I need my kids to focus on their meal instead of being distracted by the play ground, and at those time, we choose to sit somewhere else. I really don't enjoy tempting my kids with disobedience, and if we sit in the play place area they will be tempted to disobey me (and whine and complain about it) until I finally relent and they get to go play. 

So many of the battles we fight as parents have to do with teaching our kids good habits for life. We want them to grow up and know how to live in the real world as responsible, kind, and not-annoying adults. I don't want to win a battle for the sake of winning. I want to make sure that the lesson I'm teaching is one that matters for a lifetime, and I want to make learning that lesson as easy on my kids as I can. 

Really the point here isn't about McDonald's at all. Whether you choose to make your kids eat every last french fry or not, I think it's important as parents that we keep our "why" in mind. Why am I enforcing *this* rule? Am I just trying to win this fight or am I parenting with my child's long-term best interest at heart? 

There are so many days I find myself beating my head against the wall, frustrated with my kids and their constant disobedience. I have to stop and ask myself, "what am I doing wrong?!?!" 

9 times out of 10 I'm trying too hard to enforce rules that don't really matter. I'm setting my kids up for failure again and again because I'm parenting to win, rather than parenting to love. 

He's not running away. He just LOVES pulling my suitcase down the sidewalk.
Sometimes as parents we have to let go of our preconceived ideas about what our kids should and shouldn't do, and just ask ourselves, "how can I love them best right now?"

Sometimes that means enforcing the rules for their own good even if it means making them unhappy in the moment, and sometimes that means letting them be kids and trusting that they will eventually outgrow whatever behavior is currently driving us crazy. 

It's all about balance and perspective and picking your battles wisely so that in the end, everybody wins. 

My New Job and an $25 Usborne Books Giveaway!


I recently got a new job. 

Kind of crazy really, considering I've always been really adamant about just being a stay-at-home. I wasn't really looking for a job. We weren't even talking about taking on a second income. 

It all started when one of my blogging friends became an Usborne Books consultant. Usborne is a children's book publishing company. They have books for kids of all ages, and are a direct sales company. She was looking for people to book parities, so I said yes. 

It was more like..."Well...I guess I can host a party." 

Y'all. I earned $400 in free and discounted books. 

My party was amazing. I had a lot of fun, and discovered that I really like talking about books, and I am awesome at social media (because we all need to have a talent)

My friend asked me about becoming a consultant, and of course, like a normal exhausted wife and mom I said, "no way!"

But then she asked again, and again, and again. Not in the pushy kind of way, but  in that friendly-nudge-because-I-know-you-are-really-going-to-LOVE-it kind of way. 

I prayed about it and talked it over with my husband. The math was pretty easy. I just need to have one decent party to pay for the cost of my kit. After that I could just be done if I wanted (and I could keep all the books I got!). There were no sales minimums, so I didn't have to worry about that month-to-month, and there are no penalties if I decided to just call it quits and walk away. 

So I signed up to become an Usborne Books Independent Consultant. 

It was going to be a hobby. Just something fun to do. 

During the first 12 weeks a consultant gets to offer double free book rewards. So everything you would normally earn at a party as the hostess is just doubled. If you earn $100, just take $200. It's crazy! I figured I would just give this a go for 12 weeks and help some of my own friends earn free books too!

But the more I got into the company and the support system and the details of how and why we do what we do, I decided to shoot for more than just a hobby. 

I want to build a business. I look forward to the couple hours every night I get to be *more* than just a mom. I get to succeed at something that is completely me.

My FREE box of goodies for hitting my first sales goal! Yay!!!
Plus, I love talking about books. LOVE. If you look back far enough in my blog history you'll find several posts devoted to books. I love that Usborne gives me the opportunity to collect books AND bring an income into my family. Who knew my book obsession would turn out to be so lucrative?!?!

This new found passion for Usborne is really just about reaching out of my home and really getting to be me. Running Facebook parties (which is most of what I do since it doesn't require a babysitter and I can wear pajamas...) gives me a chance to chat online with other women who are right there in the trenches with their kiddos. I get to share my experience, and help people find the perfect books for their home. 

I also love that Usborne consultants aren't limited to home parties. I can do book drives, fundraisers, and book fairs too! It's a lot to take in, but I know that those kinds of things are how we put books into the hands of kids who really need them. Kids who don't have access to quality books at home. 

But enough about me. Let's talk about YOU.  I have two opportunities I want to tell you about. 

First is a GIVEAWAY (you wondered when I was getting to that part didn't you?). My birthday is next week, and to celebrate I'm giving away a $25 gift certificate to Usborne Books! To enter you just have to hop on over to Facebook and join my Usborne group to comment on the giveaway post. 

This is closed group, which means you have to request to join and I'll add you. Why a closed group? It's just out of respect for my friends. If it's an open group, then all of my groups posts will flood my newsfeed and drive my non-bookloving friends crazy. A closed group means only those who are interested get the info. 

Secondly, I want to invite you to book a Facebook party with me. As it stands I only have 6 more party dates open before my incentive period is over. I feel over the moon blessed to be so busy! 

However, I'm sure there are a few of you that would seriously LOVE to get free books for Christmas this year. You can email me or comment below or message me on Facebook. I'd love to work with you. 

If you want to browse our catalog you can find my shopping website here

And Then There Were Four: 17 weeks


17 weeks 4 day.

That's how far along I am with our 4th child. 

We found out I was pregnant pretty early on. We were waiting and trying, but that positive pregnancy test still held the sting of fear. Not because I was worried about another child, but because I was worried we might lose another child.

For weeks I waited and prayed and kept myself busy. This time around I was truly sick, unlike my other pregnancies. I didn't want to get off the couch some days! My family ate a lot of frozen pizza, and I spent plenty of time feeling like a failure as a mom. (It's also the reason I've been MIA on the blog for a while, but there is another reason too which I'll share with you tomorrow!)

I know those types of feelings are counter productive, but when you are just trying to keep one foot in front of the other it's hard to have a positive perspective on life.

But the twelve week mark came and went, and we heard a beautiful little heartbeat. This is how we told our friend and family:

Broke the news to Little Brother tonight. He's going to be a big brother! That's right, Baby #4 is coming March 2016! I'm excited!!! Josiah...not so much.

This video still cracks me up! If I'm being a little honest though it's not quite what it seems. Little Bear was already in a bad mood when I got my big idea to take a video. When I sat him in the chair with my iPad in hand, he thought surely he was going to get some screen time. The crying fit you see is his realization that the iPad was for mom, and he was stuck with a lousy, naked baby doll.

With the beginning of my second trimester I also started feeling better. My all-day-sickness eased up and the pregnancy fatigued abated, leaving me finally to start feeling like myself again. I started thinking and planning a dreaming about having a baby, throwing around name ideas and thinking about how next summer will be so much different that this one.

And then we all got sick which pretty much means the my entire house fell in on itself, and I was back to wondering how in the world I'm going to handle ANOTHER baby...

I went to my OB appointment that weekend, ready for a bit of a break. I went alone. Just a routine visit.

The Doc asked if I'd felt the baby move yet, and I said, "no, but it's still early." She replied, "Not really. Your 16 weeks now. Almost 17."

"Are you sure? I thought it was just....ummm..." I realized I actually had no idea how far along we were.

She laughed and said, "Well, don't worry. You are so busy maybe you just haven't noticed it yet."

But then she couldn't find a heartbeat. She didn't look long, but you never get over that one time there actually wasn't a heartbeat. She left the room and returned only a minute later with her hand held sonogram machine. She set it on my belly, and we took a quick peek at our newest bundle of joy.

I saw two little legs, kicking with everything they could muster.

"You have an anterior placenta. No wonder you've not felt anything. Baby is moving just fine, though."

"She's precious and feisty!" I said.

"Do we know it's a girl?"

"No, I just kind of think."

"Do you want to know?"

Those words caught me off guard. Ummm...yes! I always want to know!

She didn't have to say anything. She maneuvered her receiver just a bit, and I could see for myself.

A BOY! We're having another boy.

I called my husband on the way home. I was beyond excited. I had sworn up and down we were having another girl. We were both surprised!

And happy. I couldn't stop smiling the entire time I drove to Chick-Fil-A for my congratulatory chicken strips and caffeine free diet coke.

We were having a boy! I'll admit, it feels a little crazy. What am I gonna do with three boys? I mean, when they are little it's not a big deal, but when they are 17, 15, and 13 I think they may just eat me out of house and home!

I guess we'll cross that bridge when we get there (it may involve part-time jobs or one or all of us), but for now I'll just look forward to feeling those little baby kicks. 

I'm not sure being a family of six will be any harder than a family of five, but for the first time in a while I'm feeling up to the challenge. At least for today anyway!

17 weeks down. Only 23 (maybe 25) left to go!


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