When our first child was a baby, I had plans to never yell at my kids.

Not surprisingly, that parenting ideal jumped ship about the same time as “My kid’s are never going to watch TV.”

I do try to only yell when necessary. Over the years, I’ve learned some surefire ways to get my kids’ full attention without having to raise my voice at all.

In no particular order:

1) Try to pee in peace.

There’s a sensor on the toilet seat that triggers a dire curiosity/desperate hunger/urgent emergency alarm inside kids’ heads. If you want your kids’ full, rapt attention, head straight to the bathroom.

2) Take a shower. 

See previous post, “My Morning Shower (a True Story).”

3) Sit down to read a book.

A leisure novel is like a beacon to my children. It took me two months to read the first half of “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” at home. I finished the second half on a two-hour flight by myself with time to spare. Go figure.

4) Try to sneak them some candy.

My kids can smell chocolate from three rooms away. They can also teleport to arrive at the exact moment I’m popping it into my mouth. Works every time.

5) Start a conversation with a friend.

Particularly effective if you want your kids glued to your side, sprawled across your lap, or using you as a jungle gym.

6) Make an important phone call.

They won’t be able to fight the urge to come to you. Mom’s on the phone? Goody! That means she secretly wants me to come tattle on my sibling or ask for a snack!

7) Drive in traffic.

You’ve never had so much attention. “MAMA.” “MAMA?” “MAMA.” “MAMA!

8) Try to get some work done.

Absolutely. The more important or deadline-driven, the better.

9) Climb into bed.

That sensor on the toilet? There’s also one on your pillow.

10) Head toward funky-town with your spouse.

If simply climbing into bed doesn’t work, just start getting busy with your partner. You’ll have kids standing at attention at the foot of your bed in no time.

You really never have to yell to get your kids’ attention. Just try to get some alone time, do something important, or relax for a few minutes, and you’ll have them right where you want them.

This article was originally published on Annie Reneau’s blog, Motherhood and More. Featured article via.

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Today, Ashlen and I are discussing our differing opinions on sharing our kids’ names and faces on our blog, social media, etc.

Like so many parenting topics, there is a lot of passion and emotions involved in the topic of online exposure. There are a few big issues that are important to me. Other than the “biggies”, i’m more of a “you do you” kinda person. For example, all of our leftover food containers are glass because I worry about microwaving plastics. But if you’re all about rubbermaid or tupperware, that’s fine! You make the decisions that are best for you and your family and I make the best for me and mine. While Ashlen and I may not fully agree on this (or other) topics, we agree 100% that the we are both making the best choice for their family.

Lauren’s View:

In my previous posts about my insanely awesome bonus-daughter, I haven’t shared her name or face. Don’t get me wrong, she has a super cute face! But I’ve chosen not to identify her on the blog by blurring, obscuring, and/or cropping out her face from the photos I’ve shared. Sure, it wouldn’t quite take CSI-level sleuthing to figure out her identity, but our blog’s Terms of Use hopefully discourages people from sharing our photos to other platforms. I’d like to take this time to share why I’m not sharing her identity on the blog:

Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka-Parenting Choices- How Much Do You Share Online

  • She’s sixteen. Remember when you were sixteen? Not exactly the easiest of the teenage years. I’m just grateful social media wasn’t around when I was in high school!  Her peers could easily find the blog, read posts about our personal trips, etc.  How awkward could it be if her classmates or teachers tried to chat up about the specific snacks we had on our road trip last spring break?
  • Hopefully she’ll have a summer job this year, and as you may know, many employers analyze your social media profiles before they decide to hire you. Her social media presence should probably reflect her, not her wicked stepmother.
  • Stranger Danger. One of my secret talents is to worry about EVERYTHING. As in, setting our home alarm with panic button, iPhone’s Find My Friend’s activated, etc.  If sharing her identity welcomed any unwanted attention from some crazy person, it would be really hard to remove her presence online. Ya know?
  • I’m not her mom, but I love this kid like crazy. I have known her since she was six, but if her mom wants to blog using her identity all day and night, that’s between she and her parents.

Would my opinion change if I had a child of my own? Hard to say. I LOVE seeing photos of Ashlen’s crew adventures but totally respect a close friend who has zero photos of their son online. Would I use a nickname? Choose not to show their face? or maybe show their face for the first few years until grade school? I can’t seem to put myself in that mindset.  IF that were to happen, I think my husband and I would figure out an approach that works for us. In the meantime, I stand by my decision for what to share and not share for my bonus daughter, and respect the opinions of anyone who feels otherwise.

Ashlen’s View:

As everyone knows, I show my children’s faces on the blog as well as other social media platforms. I share their stories and different narratives about my parenting choices. Alternatively, I don’t share absolutely everything about my kids. Stories that may be embarrassing, the names of their schools, and any daycare child’s faces (unless approved by their parent(s)) while taking a shot of is a no-no. I have a few reasons for my “being an open book” status:

  • This blog is a joint venture. Not just between Lauren and I, but also our families. My kids take part in the activities, photo shoots, and brainstorming story ideas. I ask for THEIR permission before I tell a certain story or share any picture. If they aren’t okay with it, I wouldn’t think twice about not posting something. My kids and I talk a lot about all types of things. I’m not sure how much they understand at seven, five, and three, but they understand enough to tell me what a blog is and what we’re doing for the blog.
  • I view the blog as not only an opportunity for me, but for them as well. As they get older, I fully intend to let them write blog posts and whatever else they’d like to take part in. My kids are creative and I think it’s pretty cool that we can create outlets of creativity for them. We’ve written a book together and they’ve given me blog post ideas, advice on pictures, and other things for the blog. I mean, how many kids can search for themselves on Amazon and be listed as authors?
  • Am I worried about stranger danger? Yes of course! Luckily, I think we’ve got some pretty fantastic readers who have yet (and hopefully don’t) make things feel creepilicious. Also, I’ve got Lauren to look over my posts to make sure we don’t divulge too much personal info such as where the kids attend school or our home address (yes, I nearly accidentally gave this away in a post! Oops!), etc.
  • Will my opinion change as my kids get older? Possibly. I already feel some of the things that happen in my home may not be “blog-worthy” or appropriate. Not because it’s inappropriate, but because I highly doubt it’s something my children are going to want to see on the internet when they’re sixteen. I try to keep that in mind.

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If there ever comes a time when my kids ask me to stop telling their personal stories (and there’s been a few so far) or taking their pictures, I will stop everything, have a discussion with them, and respect their wishes. My mindset at the moment is ‘we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.’ For now, we’re thoroughly enjoying all of the adventures the blog has to offer, the various opportunities, and the support we get from our audience.

This post was originally posted on Lauren Parker-Gill’s blog, “The Kidsperts.” Featured image via.

Shortly after meeting my husband, he introduced me to A Song of Ice and Fire, knowing how much I loved great fantasy novels. I devoured every book in the series that had been written up until then, and spent years wondering when George R. R. Martin would have the next one finished.

Then the announcement came that HBO was making it into a series. We were so excited, but so very nervous to see whether it would live up to the high bar the books had set. The series premiered the spring I was pregnant with my first child, and excitement turned into glee, as each episode exceeded our expectations.

Now, five seasons and 2 children later, I have begun to draw parallels between Game of Thrones and being a parent. I’m not sure whether Mr. Martin intended for these similarities to be so apparent, but to me, they’re clear as day.

1. Sex is necessary to advance the plot.

Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-GOT

Tell me you don’t miss this dude. TELL ME.

Hell, they invented a term for what GoT does: sexposition. The story moves forward via conversation during a sex scene, in the series. Your story moves forward because of the actual sex. If you don’t know what that means, Google “birds and bees.”

2. Every time you think you know what’s going on, the rules change.

Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-GoT

But this is his wedd…oh, shit.

All those stages your baby goes through give you just enough time to catch your breath, figure things out, and then start scrambling again, as things change for the umpteenth time. Sounds exactly like every season of GoT.

3. “The night is dark and full of terrors.”

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For the night is dark, so get a night light for your kid, already.

In the beginning, this refers to all those midnight feedings and diaper changes. As your kids grow, though, it begins to refer to the act of actually getting them to bed. “I need to pee again.” “Can I have a bedtime snack?” “I had a bad dream!” “There’s something in the closet that I’m afraid of…” Wanna know what you should be afraid of, kid? The look on my face when you wake me up in the middle of the night for the sixth time!

4. The “dragons” get bigger every year.

Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Dragons

They’re always so cute when they’re little, aren’t they?

They start out so tiny and cute, and you think to yourself, these things are the best EVER! Everyone should have one. But they are as unpredictable in real life as they are on the show. Plus, the possibility of them becoming assholes grows exponentially, as they themselves grow.

5. “A very small man can cast a very large shadow.”

Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Small Dude

Sorry dude. My son is WAY cuter.

I know this refers to Tyrion in the show, but I’m pretty sure it’s also rather prophetic of the role our one year old son has in our family. That boy owns us.

6. “You know nothing, Jon Snow.”

Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-GoT

I don’t think there’s ever been a television quote that captures parenthood more accurately than this one does.

7. The ladies know what they want.

This is who I hope I raise.
This is who I hope I raise.

Maybe your daughter is like Arya, strong, determined and takes no shit. Or maybe she’s like Margaery, sweet, determined, manipulative and takes no shit. Or maybe she’s more like Cersei, a total asshole who also takes no shit. Note the theme here?

8. You have theories on how the story will go, but you’re really just guessing at this point.

Not saying I agree with this theory, it was just the only one I could find on giphy.
What happens, as time goes on, is up to one person and one person only: George R.R. Martin. Or your child, depending on what we’re referring to. At a certain point, you’re just going to have to trust that what they’re doing is the right thing.

9. “Valar dohaeris.”

Valar dohaeris
Indentured servitude? Why yes, sweetheart.

Translated from high Valyrian, it means “All men must serve.” HAHAHAHAHA. Yes, that just about sums up parenthood, doesn’t it? All parents must serve…their child’s every whim. Anyone who has had a toddler or a threenager knows that it doesn’t get any more accurate than this.

This post was originally featured on Glynis’ blog. Featured image via. GIFs via. 

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I’ve had dark brown hair for years. Last summer, I got blonde highlights in my hair. Enter “three-year-old hair envy.”

All she spoke about for weeks were hair colors, different hair cuts, hair styles, and who had the shiniest hair. Then came, “I want pink hair.”

“Oh okay,” I responded, not giving it too much thought. I figured it was like that toy she saw on an end cap at Target. One that would quickly fade from her mind. I didn’t think it was a big deal. She seemed satisfied with my answer and we moved on from the subject of hair to nail polish.

My three-and-a-half year old is far more girly than I’ve ever been. She wears party dresses to bed, has meltdowns when her nail polish wears off, and has been asking for her own MAC lipstick – “in the purple shade” for the last year. She’s my girly-girl who tries to keep up with the boys and refuses to brush her hair. I wasn’t surprised she mentioned pink hair. It is her favorite color after all.

The following evening, we had the TV on and a commercial showed a woman with bright pink hair. Elizabeth’s face lit up and she exclaimed, “that’s the hair I want mom! That’s it!” She went on and on about her “new pink hair” that she was going to get.

“When do you think I can get it? Maybe Saturday?” she asked innocently.

I wasn’t sure how to handle this. She was dead set on getting her pink hair. I had strong feelings that a child so young shouldn’t be getting anything done to their hair other than a cut. For some reason, I had told myself that no child of mine would be getting anything done to their hair until they were old enough to make a good decision for themselves. Obviously, I had no idea what kind of kids I would have.

I realized I had a very important stance to take. I could put my foot down, tell her no way, and show her who was in charge. But that’s not my style of parenting. I could let her do it and then have to deal with a massive meltdown if/when she wants it out right after getting it done. When my daughter spoke to others about her love of pink hair and how she was going to get it, I was met with eye rolls. People who told me to “realize you’re the parent, not her” and that she’s too young to make important decisions.

Those just fueled me. How can I teach her how to make those important decisions? How can I teach her how to live with those consequences of the decisions she makes? I realize she’s only three, but she’s not dumb. Couldn’t this be a good lesson that teaches her the consequences of her decisions and actions? Yet I still had my reservations.

The chemicals used to dye hair (especially the specialty colors such as pink) can be strong. What if she has a reaction to the chemicals? What happens if she hates her new hair? She is only three and can’t quite grasp a lot of concepts, such as patience, for letting hair grow out. I spoke at length to numerous hair dressers. I researched and then researched more. I spoke to anyone I could about it, even if I was met with disgust about considering letting my daughter do that!

So what did I decide?

I decided to compromise. I wanted my daughter to know that I trust her, look out for her, and try to make the best decisions while listening to her wants and needs. My daughter got her pink hair. It’s just not “dyed” like she had in mind.

After my extensive research, I decided she was too young for getting her hair dyed. If there’s ever a meltdown issue in question, I’d avoid it like the plague. I was far too worried that she would ask for her pink hair to come out as soon as it was. Instead, I ordered her clip-in hair extensions in all different colors. She wants bright orange hair one day? We’ve got it ready. She wants red in her hair for two minutes (and literally, two minutes only)? It’s there and just as easily removable.

This easy compromise made us both happy for the time being. I have no issues with her wearing them out of the house because she’s so proud of “her new hair.” Nonetheless, the looks on some people’s faces when we walk into the grocery store sporting blue, green, and neon yellow hair is priceless. A few years ago, I didn’t foresee pink hair in my parenting future. I would have been categorized in with those people who gave judgmental looks at other parents for allowing their children to have neon-colored hair. Sometimes, as parents we have to get over our own hang ups and thoughts of how things would go. Sometimes we need to put our foot down (and know when that needs to be done) and other times we need to compromise. Especially when it comes to pink hair happiness.

This post was originally featured on Ashlen “the Kidspert” Sheaffer’s blog, The Kidspert. Featured image via

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If you’ve been around here for any amount of time, you may remember that we’ve had our fair share of cyber bullying from “mean girls” and other forms of bullying.

The first time that I felt a need to step in was when M was in the 5th grade. This is when I learned a hard lesson of parenting: unless there’s significant harm being done, you’re better off being a coach on the sidelines than the quarterback trying to win the game.

7th grade brought the next significant round of bullying by mean girls and was the year I was in the principal’s office more times than I cared for. 8th grade was pretty quiet. But just when I thought I could breathe a sigh of relief, along came the 9th grade and high school. (What is it with the every 2 years pattern??)

High school has opened up a whole new can of challenges. My friend, Jon Lowder, warned me that going from middle to high is like going from a AAA farm league to the Major Leagues.

None of the stuff we’ve encountered is overtly bad – more of the PITA (pain in the ass) variety. Nasty tweets, snarky comments, bitchy texts – pretty textbook stuff. The only difference between what you and I had to deal with and what she and her friends have to deal with is that it’s done electronically as opposed to in person or with pen and paper.

So what is the actual definition of cyber-bullying? According to Google, it is “the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature.” If you want to read the entire NC statute, click here.

All of the schools in our area preach about having zero tolerance policies when it comes to bullying and I’ve been pretty pleased with how they’ve handled situations if it got to that level. While the schools and parents may take a strong stand on cyber-bullying, unfortunately, our judicial system has a more difficult time prosecuting anyone should it get to that point.

IF they were to bring them through the system, they’d be tried as juveniles and most likely be given nothing more than a “slap-on-the-wrist.” We have a friend who did take another kid and their family to court for this kind of abuse. As a resolution, the other kid was ordered to write an apology letter. Pretty expensive apology letter, I’d say.

This past weekend, we had a situation pop up that made me call a friend of the family who is in law enforcement just to validate that what I was doing the right approach. He confirmed that I was, but as a parent, you can’t run to the school every time someone gets pissy and sends out a nasty tweet. So, what do you do?

I’m no expert on the law, but here are a few things I’ve learned along the way:

1. Be Mindful

Keep a diligent eye everywhere, but for the most part, do it from the sidelines. Trust me. It is SO hard for me to read the texts and tweets that come across while biting my tongue and resisting the urge to rip off a few well phrased tweets.

2. Create a “Twatch” List

You don’t have to follow the kids in question (i.e. bullies) on Twitter, but you can create a private list and add them to it without following them. The next best option is to keep a list and just check in on them if you think there’s an issue. For the most part, their everyday tweets are just typical teen bantering that bores me to tears.

3. Give The School A Heads Up

It never hurts to alert the school if they’re getting harassing texts or any other kind of electronic communication.

4. Listen, Listen, Listen

My experience taught me that kids will withhold this kind of information until it reaches critical condition, so make sure you listen when they come to you. This is not the time to tell them, “just a minute”. This could be your one and only shot at them opening up. Don’t blow it. Listen to what they’re telling you even if it seems a bit over the top. I promise, if there’s smoke, there’s fire.

5. Screenshots Are Golden

If there IS an issue, make sure you educate your kid on the importance of taking screenshots and sending them to you. This will be helpful if you choose to send it to the school or addressing the issue with their parents.

6. Understand That There Are Always Two Sides

You may have to admit that your kid may be involved in the act. I have yet to go through one of these situations and think that my girls were 100% innocent. It takes two to tango friends.

7. Provide Your Kid(s) With Options

While it’s really, really hard to do, sometimes the best course of action is just to ignore the bully acts. Teach them not to engage, respond, or react. They may still do it, but if you repeat this often enough, they’ll get better at doing it – at least a little bit.

8. If All Else Fails, Do What You Have To Do

If it gets really bad, do what you have to do. Get the school, the parents, and the authorities involved. At the end of the day, it’s better to be overprotective than under.

The one thing that blows my mind about this group of kids is that they have some major cajones. They think nothing can stop them. I’ve seen texts where one kid proclaimed that “because his dad was rich, he’d make sure that M and her friends would never go to college”. I know you’re dying to know what my response to that was. Well, I pulled a Dr. Huxtable and told M, “he doesn’t have money. His DAD may have money, but this kid is like you…broke”.

I’ve never said this phase was easy, but my hope is that I can at least prepare you for what’s’ to come so that you’re ready to handle it as best as possible. Don’t worry – we’ll all survive!

This post was originally featured on Kristen Daukas’s blog, Four Hens and a Rooster. Featured image via. 

It’s the bane of every mother’s existence: trying to get your kid to go to sleep on time.

If you’re riding that struggle bus every night and you’re ready to get off, here are 8 ways to trick your kid into getting in that damn bed of theirs.

1. Tell them you’re going to Disneyland the next day.

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This is the harshest of the 8, but hopefully you’re kids are too young to be emotionally scarred for life. When they ask you the next morning when you’re leaving, just tell them they dreamt it.

2. Let them stuff their faces with candy.

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Then watch gleefully as the Sugarpocalypse hits and they crash faster than you ever thought possible.

3. Tell them if they go to sleep, they’ll wake up and animals will be able to speak.

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Every kid wants to be able to talk to animals, right? Plant this little seed in their imaginative head and they’ll be sure to snooze it up.

4. Tell them if Captain America can sleep, so can they.

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Sure, Captain America was technically frozen for decades, but that can be considered sleeping right? If Captain America can catch some z’s, so can your kid.

5. Let them run around in the backyard to their heart’s delight.


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Letting them get rid of all that pent up energy will hopefully lead them to clonk out easily.

6. Pretend you can’t hear them when they ask to stay up late.

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Kids don’t understand how hearing works, right? Just simply pretend you can’t hear them until they stop asking you and eventually grow so frustrated they have no choice but to fall asleep! A win for everyone.

7. Your favorite TV character is waiting for you in your dreams.

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This isn’t technically lying – who’s to say their favorite cartoon character or TV character won’t make an appearance? In fact, they’re probably more likely to know that you’ve put the idea in their head! You’re a genius parent and deserve much praise.

8. Fake a power outage.

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Okay, hear us out: if you fake a power outage and turn off all the lights, you’re kid is already going to be used to the darkness. Right? Then they’ll just fall asleep like it’s nothing. We stand behind this clearly full proof plan!