Parenting: 15 Things I Will Never Feel Guilty About

15 Things Parent Guilt

1. Setting clear boundaries.

Kids love boundaries.  They thirst for them. Routine makes life predictable, clear, and uncomplicated.  Oh, they also make me happy, too.

2. Non-negotiable bedtimes every night.

This goes along with boundaries.  Let’s be honest. Kids don’t have a self-regulating function.  Lack of sleep wreaks havoc on children.  It makes them into total nightmares. Why would you do that to yourself?

And let me be clear, early bedtime is also a selfishly smart thing to do to keep your marriage intact. I want kid-free time with my sexy husband every single night. By 8pm our booties are on the couch, coffee in hand, chillaxing to our favorite shows or having grown-up conversation.

3. Saying “no”.

There’s nothing wrong with saying “no”. It’s a part of life. And…

4. Saying “no” even when I can say “yes”.

Like when we go to the mall and there’s a carousel or if we’re at the Starbucks drive-thru and they’re begging for cake pops. Just because I can say yes, doesn’t mean I should make it a habit.  What do the Rolling Stones say?  You can’t always get what you want.  Boom.

5. Leaving my children with a sitter.

Uh, date night much? And you know your kids have the best time with the sitter!  Pizza? Games? A teenager?  Way more fun than mom and dad!

6. Chores.

There’s a chore for every age group.  Mama ain’t yo’ maid. Plus, chores are a great life-skill teaching tool and lesson in team work.  The family that cleans together has a mom that doesn’t lose her shit (as often).

7. Not caring that everyone else can do something that my kids can’t.

Go ahead, jump off that bridge.

8. Keeping our house rules no matter where we are, where we go, or who we’re with. And getting family and friends on board as enforcers.

It takes a village to raise your children and there’s nothing more aggravating that having to un-do damage from well-meaning family and friends who are easily manipulated by your ridiculously cute offspring. “But they really wanted to have orange soda!”  “Oh, it’s only an iPad.” “They told us that they don’t go to bed early on Wednesdays.”  Yeah, right.  Get your village on board, and don’t be afraid to tell your kids that you’ve got eyes all over the place.

9. Requiring 100% compliance with manners.

“Thank yous”, “pleases”, “sirs”, “ma’ams”, “excuse-mes”, “may-Is”, and “your welcomes” are required at all times whether you’re talking to the Pope or you accidentally trip over the dog.

10. Enforcing the if-you’re-hungry-you’ll-eat rule.

I just went outside and looked on my roof.  Nope, we don’t live at Waffle House. And nope, I’m not a short order cook. I make it. You eat it.  Not gonna eat?  You’re not that hungry.  There’s always tomorrow.

11. Not getting my child their own personal phone/tablet/computer.

Have you seen what they do to their Barbies?  Forget it.  You wanna surf the net? You get to do it on Mom and Dad’s computer, in a common area, where I can keep an eye on you.

12. Making my children do 90% of  their school work and projects solo.

Even when it’s painful. I already went to school. I’m a project supervisor not a worker bee.

13. Telling my children when they’ve done a crappy job.

It happens.  Constructive, age appropriate criticism is important.  It’s my job to ensure that my child learns the value of doing her very best which leads me to…

14. Making my children redo substandard work.

I know what rushing to go outside and play looks like when it comes to penmanship and homework (and chores).  What did my parents always say?  “Lazy people work twice as hard. Do it right the first time.”

15. Being proud of my children.

I might sound like a hard-ass, but in this house we bring our A-game and then we celebrate the hell out of our successes.

What things would you add to this parenting guilt-free list? 

5 Must Know Disney Vacation Planning Tips for Military Families!

Disney 5 Tips Social Share

Thinking about planning a vacation for your military family to Disney World?  Chances are you’ve heard of Disney’s Armed Forces Salute, but did you know these 5 awesome Disney vacation planning tips just for military families?

1. When It Comes To Military Discounts for Disney Tickets…You Have Options

I think one of the most widely unknown awesome tip about Disney’s Armed Forces Salute is that you have choices when it comes to the type of tickets you buy.   I think it’s fair to say that the ticket that you probably think of when you hear military Disney tickets is the 4-Day Disney Park Hopper Ticket but you actually have three options.  Check it:

4-Day Disney Park Hopper Tickets ($165.50 at MacDill AFB ITT…each ITT office can have slightly different pricing)

This one is the most commonly known of the Armed Forces Salute Disney ticket options.  Basically you get four days of access to all four parks on any given day.  If you’re the type of person who likes to hit Magic Kingdom in the morning, Hollywood Studios in the afternoon, and Epcot at night, this option is definitely for you.

4 Days of Single Disney Park Admission PLUS 4 days of Water Parks ($165.50 at MacDill AFB ITT)

If you’re park monogamous like we are and you only plan on hitting one park per day, this is definitely the ticket option you want.  Not only do you get 4 days of park admission to the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom (one park per day) you get 4 days of water park access to Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach (one park per day as well).

As a Florida military family, this is our Armed Forces Salute Ticket Option of choice!  You can spread out the use of this ticket over the course of a calendar year and get your Disney fix on your schedule!

4 Day Disney Park Hopper PLUS 4 days of Water Parks ($194.50 at MacDill AFB ITT)

If you want the whole shebang…Park Hopper Tickets AND Water Park access this ticket is for you.  The tickets cost a bit more than the other two ticket choices, but they are still deeply discounted when you compare them to standard and even Florida resident specials.

2. You Shouldn’t Forget About Shades of Green at Walt Disney World

Shades of Green is the official Armed Forces Recreation Center run resort on Walt Disney World property.  They offer exclusive room rates on a sliding scale based on a servicemember’s grade (active duty, reserve, or retired).  Not only are their rates competitive, they offer special packages for troops returning from deployment.

Shades of Green is a great option for lodging during your Disney Vacation and it’s important to know that Shades has a fully functioning ITT office on property (ITT= Information, Tickets, and Travel…think military travel/ticket office. Learn more about why you shold be down with ITT!).  If you need additional tickets or want to explore other military discounts available in the central Florida area, make sure you check there first.

Definitely worth putting on your military family’s Disney vacation planning checklist!

3. Disney World Resorts Offer Military Discounts Too!

Believe it or not, because my husband is an officer, Shades of Green is not our most cost effective lodging choice.  As it turns out, in addition to offering deeply discounted Disney tickets to military servicemembers and their families, Disney World also offers discounts at Disney World Resort Hotels.  Check out their current resort hotel discounts for 2013-2014 in my blog post, Disney’s Armed Forces Salute Renewed for 2013-2014!

Because our vacation motto is play hard and save money on lodging, we often stay at Walt Disney World Value Resorts like the Disney’s Art of Animation Resort.  You can check out more details from our last visit by reading You Can’t Go Wrong At Disney’s Art of Animation Resort.

4. Downtown Disney Has Its Own Military Discounts

Is Downtown Disney part of your military family’s Disney vacation plans?  Don’t forget to ask this simple question when you’re shopping, dining, and having fun: “Do you offer a military discount?”

Many vendors do offer military discounts…all you have to do is ask.

If you’re planning on seeing La Nouba, make sure you check ITT for discounted tickets for military servicemembers and their families.

5. If You Have Questions Check Out The Disney Parks Moms Panel!

If you ever have questions about your military family’s Disney Vacation I highly suggest you do some crowdsourcing via Disney’s super cool community of parent experts, Disney Parks Mom Panel.  I have to shout out to Amiyrah Martin of @4hatsandfrugal, Disney Moms Panel 2014 resident military mom expert! She and all of the other Disney Mom Park Panelists are standing by to answer all of your questions, big and small!

Mom, We’ll Be Okay, We Can Just Skype With Dad

Sometimes I find myself wondering if my kids actually miss people the way I miss people.  I mean really MISS people.  With Homeskillet’s one year solo adventure on the horizon, I have to say that I really expected at least La Grande to take the news of his departure a little bit harder than she did.  She didn’t even shed a tear or ask for additional information about why her Dad might have to leave.

Nada.

It kind of gave me the creeps.  Is she like Vicky the Robot?  Does she lack an emotion chip? Sure, sure, I get it.  It might just go fwoop right over her head or her kid-brain might not be able to process what Dad being gone an entire year could possibly look like, but come on.  I expected at least some resistance or emotional acknowledgement.

It never came.

So I asked, “Well, aren’t you going to miss Dad? I mean, he’s going to be gone a whole year!”

To which she replied, “Mom, we can always just Skype with him.”

Daddy and his girls

Can Skype really substitute for this?

Duh. I guess. I think?

Is Skype enough for kids nowadays?  Did I just say nowadays? Oh hell, I might as well start practicing my “get off my lawn” stance.

Well is it? I won’t lie, her nonchalant we’ll-always-have-Skype approach to a long term separation (by kid standards) kind of made me think about how much my kids actually miss people.  Miss family.  Miss their friends. Do they miss people with the same kind of aching in their heart…that longing to drink in the presence of someone you love?

Part of me thinks no.  It’s different now.

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La Grande’s 4th birthday, Skype style!

Both of my girls have never lived a life without Skype.  Never. They’ve cultivated and maintained wonderful relationships with their grandparents and aunts all through the medium of video teleconferencing.  Way to come through on at least one 21st century promise, Jetsons.  Now where the heck is my flying suitcase car and my Rosie the Robot Housekeeper, hmm?!?!

When I think about the fact that I’ve never lived closer than a 12 hour flight or drive to my parents’ house, it’s no wonder that my girls rely so heavily on Skype to be close with their Nana and Papa.  And when I think about how my parents and my daughters interact on Skype, no wonder it’s like they’ve never skipped a beat when we pull into their  driveway.

Thanks to Skype, my parents have had the opportunity to play flashcards, listen in on piano practice, and even listened to La Grande when she took her first foray into independent reading.  They’ve been Skyped in for birthdays and post-Trick-or-Treating candy sorting and even on Christmas morning.

Now that I think about it, it is kinda cool.  Really cool  It is different and maybe that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Even though Skype isn’t the same thing as a hug or a kiss or a tickle as Daddy tucks you into bed, it is something and it is special.

I can get on board with that.

Maybe they don’t “miss” people in the same way we, or at least I, did way back when (damn, these oldie-fogie cliches are killing me), or maybe they do but have way better tools to make it not feel as bad.  I think that’s the beauty and danger of this terribly wonderful thing called social media. It gives us beautiful illusions of being intimately entwined in the lives of our framily (oh, Sprint, I’m taking it and running with it) even while geographically separated.

What do you think?  Is Skype and other social technology changing the way your kids relate with their family and friends?

“How Long Do I Have To Brush My Teeth Again?” #ProHealthKids

Jada Approved Oral BThis paid post is brought to you by the new free Oral-B Disney Timer App as part of a Type-A Parent Community Sponsored Post.

Me: “It’s time to get ready for bed! Go brush your teeth!”

La Grande: “Awwww, but MO-OM, do I have to?  Right now?”

Me: “I guess not, but I’m pretty sure you have sugar bugs all over your teeth.”

La Grande: “Sugar bugs?”

Me: “Oh yes, sugar bugs.  You, see they eat holes in your teeth while you’re sleeping.”

La Grande: “Fine.”

<20 seconds later>

La Grande: “Done!”

Me: “No you’re not. You were hardly in there!”

“But you said to brush my teeth and I did!”

Groan. 

Why is getting our children to brush their teeth like, well, pulling teeth?  It doesn’t matter what I do or what dental boogey-person I throw her way, La Grande has her own idea of what taking care of her teeth looks like and it isn’t at all approved by the ADA, if ya know what I’m sayin’.

I’m so tired of sending her back to the bathroom for round two of brushing so color-me-happy that I have a new tool in my toothbrushing toolkit for La Grande and La Rubia: Oral-B’s Free Disney Timer App.

Oral-B’s Free Disney Magic Timer App takes the guess work out of the answer to the question “How long am I supposed to brush my teeth?”

The app lets kids uncover cool hidden images while they scrub their teeth.  In the words of La Grande, “It’s like brushing your teeth while watching television!”  After your child finishes brushing, they collect their sticker in a virtual sticker album stored in the app itself.

 

 

Bonus? I learned that I don’t nearly brush my teeth as long as I should.  Shame on me.  Now all I need is the adult version where I get to uncover Captain Jack Sparrow while I brush.  Oh, I went there.

Download the Oral-B Disney Magic Timer App!

Disney Timer App by Oral-BThis paid post is brought to you by the new free Oral-B Disney Magic Timer App as part of a Type-A Parent Community Sponsored Post. Featuring sixteen of your favorite Disney and Marvel characters, use this app to seamlessly encourage your kids to brush longer. Collect a new digital sticker after each successful two minutes of brushing; track progress with stars and milestone badges on the Brushing Calendar. Longer, happier brushing for your little one is just a download away!