Category Archives: My Five Rules

Cleaning With Kids

It’s important to have your children learn responsibility. Teaching them to be part of something bigger makes them think beyond themselves and become outward-focussed.

At least that’s what I tell myself when it’s time to clean the house.

When I was home full time, I shouldered most of the house-keeping duties and that was fine. Now that we are both working, we’ve required the boys to step up their involvement in some of the household chores. Don’t worry, it’s not that extreme – clean their rooms, help out with a job or two in the general home, hang up their own stuff. We’re not monsters.

I’ve learned a lot through the process of making house-cleaning a family affair. Topping the list is that calling dusting a room or mopping a floor a “bonus job” does not convince anyone that it’s a fun thing. I know that now.

Also, predicting that something should only take “a few minutes” does not guarantee that it will. For example, “dust your rooms and vacuum, boys, it’s easy – fifteen minutes max” translates into approximately forty-five minutes once you factor in the complaining and pleas for mercy help.

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“I didn’t play with this either.  DO YOU HEAR ME COMPLAINING?”

And so, dear reader, based on my dubious experience, I present to you:

My Five Rules for Cleaning With Kids

  1. Be Prepared.  Make sure you have had your coffee, you’ve eaten, you’ve charged your phone, and you’ve hidden some chocolate in various locations because trust me, you will need it.
  2. Be Realistic. Kids are not going to be as thorough as you are when cleaning. Manage your expectations. Give them jobs they can handle. Want a streak-free mirror? Do not assign that task to your offspring. Stick with things you can touch up easily when they aren’t looking. Like putting photos back in their original place (that seems quite challenging).
  3. Be Specific. Kids hear what they want to hear. When you say “dust the living room” the part about “every surface, make sure you move things, maybe put any dishes you find in the dishwasher” might be implied, but is certainly not inferred.
  4. Be Appropriate. You might feel frustrated, peeved, dare I say even angry. That’s no reason to use salty language. However, I have found a loophole. It’s not a bad word if you say it quickly and drop a letter or two. For instance, totally okay to tell your reluctant cleaner to “quityerbitchin” because that’s not actually a word. Don’t worry, I checked. My mom said it’s perfectly fine and I turned out alright.
  5. Be Prepared. I cannot stress this enough, hence it gets a repeat mention. We all have our systems, find what works best for you. Personally, I like to finish with protein and chocolate. Like after a Dementor attack, your body will need to recover from the trauma. You are going to find random socks strewn under coffee tables even though they promised they had picked them up. Chewed gum will have been stowed behind the couch. But you’re going to be okay. Deep breaths.
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I certainly did eat the whole thing. Eventually. Didn’t share. Didn’t apologize.

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Sometimes we have to manufacture joy during a weekly cleaning, and that’s okay, too.

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My Five Rules for Summertime

Lemonade, biking, camping, swimming, walking to the store for slushies, eating M&Ms while hiding from your children in the closet – these are all classic summertime pastimes. And summer is an ideal time to reconnect with your family and spend time with friends. I’ve found it’s always good to lay down a few ground rules at the beginning of the season just to avoid unnecessary complications and to maintain realistic expectations.

And so, I present to you, My Five Rules for Summertime

    1. Parents are only going to “lookit” a limited number of times. Listen, we love to see your developing skills and yes, that cannonball off the diving board was great. It was just as great at the other 17 cannonballs you did leading up to it.
    2. No wet hands in the chip bag. Actually, no wet hands in or near any of the communal food. That goes for sand, too. So no wet or sandy or sandy-wet hands in food, okay? I think this rule also applies for all seasons, not just summer.
    3. Close.
      The.
      Door.
      All the doors, all the time. Just close them.
    4. Applying sunblock is not the same as being dipped in battery acid. Please stop acting like it is.
    5. Go ahead and ask for a snack/drink/screentime but for the love of Moses, just ask once. You might think that persistence will pay off, but no. It only makes your parents want to cry. Also, you come across a little unhinged. Or maybe that’s me. I don’t know because you won’t stop asking for all the things.

But seriously, CLOSE THE DOOR.

Happy Summer Everyone!

 

 

 

 


My 5 Rules for Canadian Kids in Winter

It’s January in Canada, so it’s cold. Really cold. However, it’s nothing we can’t handle. We may be overly polite and apologetic, but we are a hearty people. If your snot doesn’t freeze inside your nostrils, it’s cold but not really cold. If your breath doesn’t crystalize on your scarf when you exit your house, toughen up – you are Canadian.

Travelling anywhere in winter with small children in tow requires a minimum of 12 extra minutes prep time (I’ve done extensive research on this, trust me). If you are running late, it will take them 27 minutes because science. And so, I present to you…

My Five Rules for Canadian Kids in Winter

1. Layer. Two pairs of socks, extra mittens. We all know it feels bunchy, just do it.

Fashionable AND warm

Fashionable AND warm

2. Wet mitts won’t dry in a bin. They go on the dryer – every time. Remember? The dryer? Any good Canadian household will have the standard minimum of two such contraptions.

The house will still smell like wet dog, but for a shorter duration.

The house will still smell like wet dog, but for a shorter duration.

3. Shut the door. All the way. Right away. JUST SHUT THE DOOR.

4. Tiny mittens that stretch when you put them on are not really mittens. Real mittens impede all fine motor skills. They also prevent frost bite. Hold still while I tie your scarf tighter to muffle your complaints.

5. Put on your snow pants. Forget that, just put on any snow pants. No argument, no excuses. We all agree that they hinder movement, but they also prevent your skin from burning on the walk to school. And snow pants always go on first, it’s the law.

Yes, it’s cold out there, but we can get through it together. As long as you SHUT THE DOOR.


My Five Rules for the Leisure Pool

On a warm August morning what is a mom of four young boys to do while her husband and father of her offspring is getting ready for the new school year?

The park? Went to four of them last week.

The library? Did that yesterday.

The toy store? Did that the day before yesterday.

Why not try the local indoor pool? It’s FREE admission.

“But we have our own pool” is clearly not a valid argument when the pull of going somewhere new and adventurous is strong. So off we went and now I share with you…

My Five Rules for the Leisure Pool

Come on in, the water's fine.

Come on in, the water’s fine.

1. Apparently, elderly swimming patrons do not appreciate loud references to “Cocoon”. Think it, don’t say it.

2. Don’t wear a bikini to the family swim, no need to rub in to the rest of us. Yay you for bouncing back into your pre-baby shape. I hope you slip on the deck.

3. Avoid playing “Pretend To Drown”. Ditto for “Dead in the Water”. Best not to let your kids play it either.

4. It might be called a “leisure” pool, but bringing your own margarita is frowned upon.

5. If you discover hair floating near your person, stay calm. It’s just hair. It might not be your hair, but you’ll be okay.

How about you? Any tips for swimming with strangers?


My Five Rules for Bedtime

Bedtime, right?

When our oldest was a baby I had visions of cuddly story time, quiet chats as we put our little guy to bed, maybe even some insightful conversations about his day.

No.

Is that happiness I hear?

Do I hear happiness in here?

There are moments of sweetness, of course. Who doesn’t enjoy being asked, “why are your arms so squishy?” or “can you leave now?” or “Are you going out? You’re not wearing yoga pants so you must be going out?” It’s just like I always pictured.

Trying to get four energetic boys ready for bed is how I burn off all the Oreos I eat. Even if I pace it out and try man-to-man versus a zone approach I still end up looking like Miss Hannigan.

And so, I present to you My Five Rules for Bedtime.

1. Leave Mommy’s shoes alone. I don’t mind if you try them on, but not when you should be brushing your teeth and definitely not when that’s all you’re wearing.

He is surprising agile in those

He can strut around in those better than I can. So proud.

2. Don’t eat the toothpaste. If you stumble upon a dried up, clumpy mound of white pasty goodness, leave it alone or toss it in the garbage, but please do not eat it. Or if you can’t resist, wait until I leave the room.

3. Farting during the bible story. No. Ditto for prayers.

4. No naked running. No naked hurdles. No naked dancing. No naked — look, just put some clothes on.

5. One brother on the toilet at a time.

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Your turn – bedtime rules you have or wish you’d had – go.


My Five Rules for Beach Day

There’s a tradition in many Canadian schools to have Spirit Days. One particular favourite is Beach Day which typically occurs immediately before March Break. The logic is that Canadian winters are long and dreary and the best way to snap out of a “lots of snow, but not enough to cancel school” funk is to dress up in your beach attire and pretend not to notice that your eyes are frozen open.

Guys, I’m part of the group that decided to do this. Again.

How do I forget every time that I really don’t like Beach Day?

Oh, sure, Spirit Days are great and even better when the staff participates. The smiles and cute comments from the students are always fun. I love dressing up for Halloween or a good old Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest. These days build a sense of community and it’s worth being silly to accomplish that.

But Beach Day. What were we thinking?

Let’s have a theme day that accentuates our pale, pasty skin and lack of muscle tone from weeks of being indoors. I’m in!

And so, I present to you, My Five Rules for Beach Day.

1. Moisturize. And preferably not just the night before.

2. Commit. Did the nail polish you started to paint minutes before leaving for school turn clumpy and hard to apply? Oh, well. You’re slapping that varnish on all ten of your little piggies because the only thing more noticeable than clumpy nail polish is having only one toe painted.

How can your toes look anything but amazing in "Gloppy Magenta"?

How can your toes look anything but fabulous in “Gloppy Magenta”?

3. Layer. It’s winter in Canada. Even if the heat is turned up, it’s going to be cold. And socks will help cover up your botched pedicure.

The socks really tie the whole outfit together

The socks really tie the whole outfit together

4. Layer. No, for real. You better be dressed for the weather. It’s only summer in your imagination.

Not everyone can pull off shorts and winter boots.

Not everyone can pull off shorts and winter boots.

5. Hydrate. Pretending to be at the beach can be hard work. Trying to appear that you’re confident wearing clothes that may or may not feel snug due to your winter consumption of M&Ms and chips (we all need a little extra insulation) can really bring on a thirst.

Bearded Husband thoughtfully dropped this off, making it extra refreshing

Bearded Husband thoughtfully dropped this off, making it extra refreshing

*Special thanks for the guest appearance by Amanda, modelling the always popular Socks with Sandals.

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Theme Days: Love them or hate them? Would you wear your beach attire or pretend you “forgot”?


My 5 Rules for Eyes-Closed Tag

We planned to go skatingtobogganing (American translation: sledding) and play some shinny (street hockey) with the neighbours. But what do you do when it’s too cold outside even for hearty Canadians like ourselves? After multiple races on the Wii, a game of “Apples to Apples” that got a little too physical, and some heated debates about various pronunciation of words, we moved things to the basement. I never know how these games get started, but I was quickly roped into playing another game of “Eyes-Closed Tag”.

To play this extremely safe game, one person is It and closes his/her eyes while attempting to find other people in a sectioned-off area of the basement. If you are tagged, you are then It. Pretty simple, but we needed a few ground rules.

My Five Rules for Eyes-Closed Tag

1. Protective gear is not mandatory, but do move slowly to avoid serious injury (this applies primarily to the one who is It).

Give yourself wide-bearth.

Give yourself wide-bearth.

2. You can’t hide directly behind someone. Ok, you can, but not behind me. I refuse to be a human shield.

3.  Throwing small toys to create a diversion is acceptable and at times encouraged, but try to avoid hitting fellow players.

Nylon pants are noisy - choose your clothing wisely

Nylon pants are noisy – choose your clothing wisely

4. No peeking.

5. No, really – no peeking.

A few extra bits of advice….

According to BH, if you don’t cheat and really keep your eyes closed then “your other senses will be even stronger” (I think he has watched “Daredevil” too many times). The truth is, we all know when you don’t – subtlety is not your strong suit. Plus, only peekers completely avoid bumping into things for the entire game – you are not that skilled.

It’s okay if you prefer to watch, but if you’re going to give hints to your brother keep in mind that “he’s right there. Right there. RIGHT. THERE.” while frantically pointing, really tells nothing (please see Rule #5). Also, consider learning your Left and Right.

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Your turn – what questionable games did you devise as a kid? Was a helmet required?