By the time mid-October rolls around, the kids (and if you live in my house, the grownups) are getting excited about Halloween. Having a semi-sane Halloween with young kids involves a little planning and lots of luck.

Here are eight tips for surviving Halloween with kids younger kids (under six) and making great memories.

1. Pick the costume out early and get it out of the way

I buy my kids’ Halloween costumes as soon as they go on sale right after Valentine’s Day. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating…but not much. I snag costumes as soon as I see them in the store. I get my pick of sizes…nothing is worse than telling a four year old who wants to be Batman that there are no Batman costumes in his size anywhere within three counties.

I give my kids minimal input on costume choices. Kids under six are either too young to care about their costume or are “into” so many cartoon characters that they’ll change their minds on what they want to be for Halloween 486 times before October 30th.

If you’re one of those crafty moms who makes costumes by hand, I’m a little jealous of your skills. If you are one of those crafty moms who makes another costume because little Annabelle decided she wanted to be Sophia the First instead of Elsa two days before Halloween…well then, I say you’re batshit crazy.

2. Potty planning

Your child will have to pee at some point during the Halloween festivities. Have an idea of where and how to make that happen. If potty training is still a new thing and there’s a narrow window between “mommy I hafta pee” and an accident, you might want to rethink a costume that’s complicated to get out of.

3. Don’t try to do all the things

Trick or treating in your neighborhood? Trunk or treat at your church? And again at your mom’s church and the church down the street that don’t even attend? Your local “Zoo boo?” If you play your cards right, your kid can party hard the week leading up to Halloween and snag enough candy to keep 10 children sugared up for days…but is that a good thing?

It’s great that there are so many options for enjoying Halloween…but stop and think before you drag your small human to each and every thing just because you can.

4. Step away from Pinterest

Yes, really. Too much Pinterest will rot your brain…okay maybe not that but it might convince you that you should become a whiz at concocting Halloween crafts out of recycled yogurt containers and toilet paper rolls.  Every time you log on, Pinterest will make you feel inferior by showing you “easy” projects and treat recipes you should be making with and for your kids. And, if you’re one of those moms who bought  costumes at Cotsco, Pinterest will shame you for not caring enough to make a dinosaur costume out of felt in 104 easy-to-follow steps.

Don’t get me wrong…Pinterest is great. It’s the first place I look when I want to find a great recipe or inspiration for a party hairstyle…but this time of year, Pinterest is full of oh-so-simple looking crafty things and recipes that lure you in. The next thing you know, your fingers are stuck together with hot glue and you’ve got glitter underneath your fingernails and in other places you don’t want to have glitter…ahem.

5. Talk to your kids about what to expect

This is really simple, but sometimes we get so caught up in the frenzy that we don’t realize the Halloween festivities are new, unfamiliar and maybe overwhelming for little goblins. My two boys are five (yes, I have two five-year-olds…just let that sink in) and this is their third year trick-or-treating. I plan to go over the play-by-play with them before we head out on Halloween night. They sort of remember how it went down last year but 12 months is a long time for very young children, so don’t assume they remember the drill.

And, things change…this year, one of my boys is really afraid of all of the super scary Halloween stuff that didn’t bug him last year. Unless you plan to take your kid to a Halloween event that doesn’t involve anything scary (and those events are certainly out there), it helps to set expectations. We’ve explained to Zack that some parts of Halloween are meant to be scary and to reassure him that it’s all pretend but we avoid those houses that are really tricked out with spooky decorations. The yard littered with dismembered skeletons, tombstones and fake entrails may not the best fit for the very young trick-or-treaters…you can tell your kids “it’s not real” all day long but that might be a little too much for them to process.

6. Set limits 

This goes along with talking about expectations. I’ve found that trick-or-treating for an hour and then coming home to pass out candy works best. Younger kids might not have the stamina to walk the streets begging for candy for two hours plus. An hour works best for us and everyone knows what’s up ahead of time.

7. Have a candy plan

My candy plan is to sort through all the candy, pick out the quality chocolate and let the kids have at it for one night. I mean…it’s one night. I can handle two hyped up, sugared up kids for one night. After that, everything goes into a bowl and I dole it out…I might give a piece for good behavior or throw some in the lunchboxes. Maybe it’s the OCD in me but I like knowing beforehand how the candy is going to be handled.

If the idea of a ton of candy in the house bugs you, try adding the Switch Witch basket to your Halloween lineup. It’s a cute, decorative basket that you enjoy as part of your Halloween décor up until the big night. You use it to display your candy and then after a set number of days “the Switch Witch” comes to take the candy, replacing it with a toy or other fun thing that doesn’t involve sugar. We haven’t tried that yet but I think it’s a good idea.

And let there be no doubt, that quality chocolate is all mine.  Mini Snickers pairs well with a nice Pinot Noir.

8. Cut them some slack

Your kids probably won’t be on their best behavior on Halloween night. It’s something special and the general vibe of the evening is not the same as every other day…and really, why would it be? Expect hyperactivity, the odd tantrum or two, uncharacteristic shyness, potty accidents…and anything in between.

Teach your kids basic manners…you know, to say “Trick or Treat” properly at the doorstep and to say “thank you” when someone gives them candy or compliments their costume. Teach them not to say stuff like “ewww, that looks gross” when some old lady drops Christmas candy from two years ago into their buckets.

And then cut them some slack if they forget their manners or say something embarrassing. Chances are, nothing that happens on Halloween is going to really matter in the long run…keep things in perspective.

Bottom line, trick-or-treating with children under six might require a little more preparation and structure, but it’s totally worth it. Seeing these little kids’ eyes light up at the magic of Halloween is priceless.

This post was originally featured on Jill’s blog, Ripped Jeans and Bifocals

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a warm-weather, tankini-clad, floppy-hat-obsessed Scrooge. I love summer.

There’s the gloriously gorgeous weather. The maxi dresses and cute sandals. The perfect excuse to claim that pedicures are a necessity. Barbecues. Playing hooky on the perfect beach day. Fun field trips with the kids. Cocktails at sunset (and pretty much whenever else you damn well please).

But when your spending your summer with kids, things are a little more…complicated. And messy. And sweaty. And tantrum-y. Behold, the untold delights of summer with small children!

Sand.

No need to spend a day at the beach. Just head to the nearest playground. Millions of tiny grains from the sandbox will stick to your sweaty kid, as well as find its’ way into the abyss of their shoes and pockets. No matter how well you think you’ve de-sanded your kid, grains will magically appear all over your house a few hours later.

The crap you need to lug everywhere.

Trade in the bulky coats, gloves and hats for soccer balls, baseball bats and bubble machines, not to mention hats, water bottles, a change of clothes, towels, sunscreen and the like. You’ll have just as much crap, possibly more. The difference is that now you’ll be sweating profusely as you schlep it to and from the park.

Sunscreen.

You need to apply, then re-apply and then re-apply some more. If your precious little cherub goes home with more-than-rosy cheeks, you will be convinced that he’ll come down with melanoma in 20 years and it will be your fault.

Terrifying playground equipment.

Every year it gets bigger, higher, and more horrifying – at least from a mommy perspective. Despite the fact that my son is sturdier and stronger than he was last summer, he’s also more daring and that makes the threat of taking him to the ER with broken bones or a concussion a lot more real. I mean, what geniuses designed all of this playground equipment to be on concrete or padding that’s about as thick as a cracker?

Unexpected mom guilt.

The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, the flowers are making you sneeze, and you’re hungover. You could persuade your child to stay home and watch Frozen for the gazillionth time, but it’s just so damn nice outside. Remember when you were frozen a few months ago and wished for a day like this? Time to suck it up and hope that the sun doesn’t make your blood-shot eyes actually bleed.

Other a-hole kids.

They push, they shove, they cut in front of your sweet child who’s waiting patiently for his turn to go down the slide. They also usually have a-hole parents who are either not paying attention or who are trying to take pictures of said kids acting like a-holes. (That seriously just happened yesterday.)

Burgeoning independence.

I’m not a “free-range” parent, but I’m smart enough to know that I shouldn’t totally smother my kid. He’s started telling me to “watch from there”—way over there—and as long as he’s not doing anything death-defying, I respect his wishes. When I see him trying to make friends or join in the fun with some older boys, I back off. But wow, is it so hard.

Water, water, everywhere.

Which means having a change of clothes and water shoes. If you don’t pack these things, you may have a wet, shivering child with blue lips who either needs to walk too many blocks to get home or needs to get into a car seat. You’ll be praying that your car won’t acquire an eternally moldy smell. (Reality check: Most likely, it will.)

Bare arms and legs.

The hotter it is, the fewer clothes your kids will want to wear. The fewer clothes that they wear, the higher the possibility of scraped elbows and bruised shins. After just a few days, my rough-and-tumble kid’s legs looked like Courtney Love’s legs in the ’90s.

Epic meltdowns.

You haven’t experienced the meltdown of all meltdowns until you try to take your hot, restless kid out of a place where he/she is having a blast. It doesn’t matter that they are literally falling over because they are so tired or starting to get grumpy with his friends. It doesn’t matter if he’s hungry or if you want to move onto next fun thing. (Which, for you, would be a nap.) He…wants…to…stay! Good times.

So, yes, it’s complicated. But, hey, at least it’s not winter!

This article was originally posted on Dawn’s blog, Momsanity. Featured image via. 

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My family recently moved to a small town, and as a result, we had to change pediatricians. On the intake form, we wrote down that our daughter was adopted (as it rendered our genetic history irrelevant).

It took the doctor all of two minutes before she asked for “proof” that we were really the legal parents.

She walked out the door before I could ask her whether or not biological parents are also asked to provide proof. After all, you can’t always tell if two people are genetically related just by sight.

My husband wasn’t as annoyed as I was. He’s more passive than I am and it made me contemplate whether I’d been overreacting. I was fairly certain the doctor meant no offense, of course, but it still ate at me because I found her request ridiculous.

Then, I began to imagine living in a world where all adoptive moms turn into assholes, merely because of the general assumptions we all face under these type of circumstances.

If you’ve adopted (or know someone who has) you probably know what I’m talking about – the none-of-your-business questions people have. The unintentional prying that makes you think you left the house wearing a t-shirt that read, “Please, ask me about my child!”

Now, let me be clear, I absolutely don’t mind if people I know ask questions. That’s how mere introductions evolve into lifelong friendships. I certainly ask them questions too – about how they think and how they feel. Or the routing number to their checking account.

But, when people I’ve never met and will most likely never see again ask questions, it makes me wonder. I wouldn’t say it makes me upset, but I do take notice and I imagine answering their questions like a total asshole.

It would go something like this:

Stranger at grocery store: Is your daughter adopted?

Me: Yes, my daughter was adopted. What about yours? Is that your biological son?

If the stranger said yes, I’d then turn to the son and say, “Your parents had you through sex!”

Stranger at grocery store: Is your daughter from a different country?

Me: No. My daughter was born in the US. Yes, her skin is a bit darker than mine but this is America, not Iceland. She was born in an exotic place called Colorado. You’ve probably heard of it. It’s the place with all the pot.

Stranger at grocery store: Well, I guess you’re lucky you didn’t have to go through labor.

Me: Well, I guess you’re lucky that it’s illegal for me to punch you in the face.

Stranger at grocery store: How did you afford to adopt?

Me: The same way people afford to do anything. Saving, compromising, robbing strangers at knifepoint.

Then I’d rummage through my purse like I was really looking for something.

Stranger at grocery store: Are you going to tell your daughter that she’s adopted?

Me: I thought maybe you could tell her.

Stranger at grocery store: Do you know your daughter’s real mom?

Me: Yes. I know her quite well. I see her every morning…….in the freaking mirror.

This article was originally published on JJ Keeler’s blog, You’re Mommed. Featured image via. 

 

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There are a million books for new and expecting parents out there, but every mom I talk to has said that there are things she wishes someone had told her, before she had the baby.

I felt that way, too. So I’ve compiled a list of my top 8 things I blundered through the first time I had a child. These are also things I am having to remind myself that I have learned, now that I’m doing it all for the second time, so that I don’t think I’m being all high and mighty by sharing this shit. I’m just trying to pass anything that might qualify as “wisdom” along.

1. Whatever piece of hell you’re currently going through right now? It’s going to change.

Nothing lasts forever with babies. This means that those crazy nights of colic will come to an end. Or that sleep regression will disappear as strangely as it showed up. I know it doesn’t feel like it’ll end, right now. But it will. For real.

And you smug parents in the corner, with kids who started sleeping through the night at 3 weeks? It’ll change for you, too.

2. Breastfeeding can be fucking hard. Trust me, it ain’t all instinct.

And it’s not for the faint of heart. However, if you decide to feed your child, you are still a good mom. Unless you’re giving him caramel frappuccinos or something. Just sayin’.

3. At some point, you will find yourself touching your child’s poop with your bare hands.

That’s right. You will get shit under your fingernails, find yourself scooping a turd out of the bathwater at the speed of light, or something else that you would’ve found beyond disgusting in your pre-baby life. Don’t worry. If it hasn’t happened already, it will.

4. You will find yourself holding a handful of your child’s vomit.

Don’t believe me? When you’re over at your friends’ place and your kid gives you the 3-second warning like, “Mommy, I don’t feel so good”, you will automatically shove your hands in front of his mouth to prevent that puke from hitting your friends’ sofa. A better option than footing the cleaning bill, right?

5. You will inevitably compromise on one or another impossibly high standard you set for yourself as a parent, and then feel guilty about it for years.

Try to forgive yourself.

6. You are not alone and whatever you’re going through with your little one right now, you are more than likely not the first one to experience it.

In other words, Google that shit. If you need support, I bet you’ll find someone out there who will give you advice, or just commiserate.

7. It will all be over in the blink of an eye, so cherish every moment!

Just kidding. Some days will feel like they are fucking WEEKS long but they will come to an end. Most likely, there will be a glass of wine (or a pillow) waiting with your name on it after it’s over.

8. Your child will be an asshole, at some point or another.

And trust me, you will not be a bad parent for thinking this. You will still love your child, despite thinking this. She or he will still be an amazing, intelligent, fantastic human being, despite this stage. Why else do you think I called this blog “The Joy of Cooking (for little assholes)?”

Do you have anything you wish you had known, early on, as a parent?

~g

This article was originally published on Glynis’s blog, Little Assholes. Featured image via.

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When your tearful six-year-old bursts into your room in the morning sobbing that the Tooth Fairy didn’t come, you’re going to feel like crap, so it’s a good idea to avoid such situations at all costs.

1. Don’t Forget

Make yourself a reminder of some sort. This is especially important when the six-year-old puts her tooth under her pillow after school and then doesn’t mention it again at bedtime. Apparently, our children are not dependable reminders, so be sure to remind yourself. Post-It notes on the bathroom mirror work well.

(Don’t write on the Post-It, you’re sure to get caught. The presence of the note itself will be enough of a reminder).

2. Don’t Be Drunk

It’s hard to remember to be the Tooth Fairy. If you killed a bottle of chardonnay while watching two hours of Game of Thrones after your kid went to sleep, it’s impossible to remember to be the Tooth Fairy. Don’t Fairy while intoxicated. It won’t end well.

3. Don’t Set the Bar Too High

I once “heard” of a drunk Tooth Fairy who got very excited and decided to give her daughter a new paint set in addition to a dollar bill. Not only was it cumbersome slipping a set of paints under the pillow, but now my her kids expect toys and cold hard cash for every lost tooth.

4. Think Fast

If you screw up your Fairy duties by forgetting, tell your child you will go check out the situation yourself. Then “find” a quarter that your child overlooked. Also, be prepared to think fast if your child wakes and catches you in the act of Fairying. Be ready with lines like, “Are you okay? I thought you were having a nightmare so I came to check on you. Yes, I know, I am the best mom in the world.”

5. Don’t Keep the Bounty

Throw those teeth away. Don’t keep a gruesome collection in your bedside table, because your kid will find it and then the jig is up. Some parents won’t budge on this. Some people keep locks of their kids’ hair, too. If that’s the case, why stop there? Get a jar of fingernail clippings going to add to the collection. No, wait. Don’t. That’s gross. Also, throw away the teeth and hair.

6. Play Dumb

If your child starts asking questions about the logistics of the Tooth Fairy’s operations, don’t pretend to have all of the answers. Feign ignorance. Get a little defensive about it, too. “How would I know? I’m not the Tooth Fairy!” This tactic also works well for covering up your Santa Claus and Easter Bunny duties.

7. Keep a Stash

Have a hidden bank of whatever currency your Tooth Fairy deals in, be it quarters, dimes, stickers, or toys. Not having a stash is one way parents accidentally raise the bar. Don’t find yourself as the Tooth Fairy with nothing smaller than a twenty-dollar bill.

8. Be Stealthy

Don’t try and Fairy ten minutes after you’ve put your kid to bed. Make sure they are well into la-la land. Wear socks, know where the creaky floorboards are, and get your ninja on.

9. Buck Convention

Save yourself a lot of stress. Tell your kid that the Tooth Fairy has instituted new policies in an effort to limit the instances of lost teeth and quarters. Henceforth, the Tooth Fairy requests that all teeth be placed prominently on the kitchen counter. The Tooth Fairy will retrieve teeth from this location and replace them with the appropriate swag. If this won’t fly in your household, at least convince your child to put the tooth in a Ziploc before putting it under the pillow so that it’s easier to retrieve when you get your ninja on.

10. Tell the Truth

No one wants the fairy tale to end, but it’s your child’s job to grow and learn and figure things out. When they do so and the charade is up, don’t mourn the end of an era. Fess up, answer their questions, and appreciate that your youngster is entering a new and equally exciting stage of childhood.

Featured image via. 

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