Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My parenting essentials, from Tivo to battery-operated monstrosities

Welcome to the February Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Essentials

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared the parenting essentials they could not live without. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

I have the advantage of reading several submissions before writing my own post (for I am a procrastinator), and I felt like all my good ideas for parenting essentials would come across as merely piggybacking off of other people's posts — or just blatantly stealing their sentiments.

For instance, do I have a fabulous and supportive partner? Indeed I do. And indeed that partner did outright suggest I write about him. (Sorry, Sam. You'll have to make do with last February's post.)

This is true fatherly love.

And could I parent the way I do without the online community, or the inspiring books I've read, or my own sweet child?

What about breastfeeding, or my trusty babywearing stash, or our king-size family bed with fleece mattress pad? No doubt about it, all these things are huge aspects of who I am as a parent of a young child.

But even though Sam found himself scorned, he graciously helped me compile a list of other, less mentionable parenting essentials. With tongue firmly in cheek, I present them:

  • Tivo. This was a hard one to narrow down, because it's really a combination of a television set, the Tivo box we were gifted from a friend, money to pay for the service, and the invention of electricity that made this sweet collaboration possible. Thank goodness we can now watch endless episodes of Max and Ruby that make my son forget he can speak more than one word at a time (if you've ever seen an episode, you'll understand that he's channeling Max, his monosyllabic hero), at a moment's notice, and skip all those gosh-dang obnoxious commercials they put even on kids' stations. (Seriously, mascara companies and cash loans? Your target audience is preschoolers?)

Uh oh, he figured out the remote.

  • Kid-friendly restaurants. Because sometimes we just need a break, and we need the kind of fine dining establishments that don't kick us out when our child sits this direction in a booth, or bat an eye when we order a quesadilla — but with the shredded cheese on the side, and neither it nor the tortilla warmed in any way. Because heaven forfend anyone present our three-year-old with the desecration of melted cheese! I kid you not, some of the owners even smile when they see us approach, bless their hearts.

If it has ice cream, all the better.

  • Craigslist. For where else would I have found, after three years of resistance (both babywearing-commitment-related and frugality-centered), a decent umbrella stroller for an affordable price that's actually tall enough for both Sam and me to push without stooping like Igor? We still have our babywearing moments, but this three-and-a-half-year-old is heavy, and he's so far refused all attempts to become self-propelled. (Acorn, tree, relative distance, etc.) He'll often pipe up after riding in a shopping cart for twenty minutes, "Whew! I'm so tired from all this walking! Are you, Mama?" with nary a hint of self-awareness. We've told him he'll have to share the stroller once the baby hits a year old and he'll be five. I don't think he believes us.

Since we somehow have no pictures of our new stroller, here's a picture illustrating that the ERGO still comes in handy when traveling with Mr. No Walk.

  • The library. Because I need stacks of unread books teetering on end tables and, despite never having been read, losing themselves the very day they are due for return and I've exhausted all renewals. I used to stand behind patrons in line who were paying $12 or higher bills for their library fines and silently gawking at what horrible people they must be not to be able to return their books on time. It wasn't hard, after all! Oh, payback, you silly, silly thing. Now I know all those people were parents. I also need a place to take Mikko that has as its very atmospheric essence a hushed and studious ambience. Because he fits in so well. He swoops up the stuffed animals from the children's section, parading them over to the catalog computers, where he hogs a seat and scribbles with the golf pencils on every piece of scratch paper and, without fail, brings up the blue screen of death on at least one computer. And I stand in line with my next armload of never-to-be-cracked books and pretend I don't know him.

Far from discouraging him, they gave him his own card.

  • A smartphone. Because if I have to stand in the aisle of Target for two hours while Mikko inspects every last boxed toy that has buttons next to "Try me!" stickers, and am not able to check my email or Tweet funny things or play Sims 3, I might just lose it.

It even works to amuse the young'un!

  • Loud electronic toys. I assumed we would never have these — that no one would be cruel enough to gift them to us, and that we would certainly never choose to buy a battery guzzler. Ah, but I am willing to forgo the peace of absolute quiet when I have the relative peace of a preschooler engrossed for ten blessed minutes in pressing buttons to see what new squawking and screeching noise will come out next.

Thomas the Train remote control overshadowing boy both visually and auditorily.

Oh, did I wake all the neighbors with my new toy?

  • Car keys. Not because of the actual car that's attached, but because the keys themselves are so dang thrilling, apparently, from birth on.
  • White carbs and cheese. For otherwise, my son would starve, and then what sort of parent would I be?
  • Crocs. Because otherwise, I might have to teach my son to tie laces. Bah.

His style choice.

  • Balloons. Enough said.

That's my list of parenting not-so-essentials but highly-neededs-and-appreciated. What are yours?

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon February 8 with all the carnival links.)

  • Not Without Him — The love Starr at Taking Time shares with her husband is the foundation of her parenting.
  • I Cannot Imagine Parenting Without B(.)(.)bs — From an uneducated dreamer to a breastfeeding mother of a toddler, nursing has forever changed Kristy at Strings to Things's relationship with her daughter and her outlook on life.
  • Raising a Child in the Internet Village — When Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction has a question or concern about parenting, she turns to the Internet. What did parents do before Google?
  • Partner in Crime and ParentingBethy at Bounce Me to the Moon can't imagine parenting without her husband's sense of humor - he brings her laughter and love every day.)
  • I Make MilkPatti at Jazzy Mama can't imagine trying to mother her babies without her breasts, but she could do it if she had to.
  • New Perspectives Bring New BeginningsMJ at Wander Wonder Discover, who is a former authoritarian mamma, has gained perspective via parenting.
  • Time Out!Mrs. Green at Little Green Blog explores how time apart can increase your capacity to give unconditionally.
  • Unimaginable Without HimKristina at heyred designs is celebrating her amazing partner, without whom none of her parenting experience would be possible.
  • My Parenting NecessityClaire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl needs "me time" in order to be the Mama she wants to be.
  • Babywearing As a Way of LifeDarcel at The Mahogany Way talks about the benefits of babywearing in everyday life.
  • Parenting Partnership — Sometimes Abbie at Farmer's Daughter doesn't appreciate her husband enough, but she definitely couldn't imagine parenting without his help.
  • Parenting EssentialsMomma Jorje loves her parenting products, but she needs you even more.
  • My Parenting Must-Have: SupportJoella at Fine and Fair wrote a letter to her daughter about the role that support from friends and family plays in her mothering.
  • More Than Just Hair — Think doing hair is full of fluff? Too girly? Useless? Karli from Curly Hairdo Ideas used to think so too.
  • The Minimalist Parent — The parents at Living Peacefully with Children embrace a minimalist perspective when it comes to baby gear. A good sling is all they need.
  • Without My BreastsCharise at I Thought I Knew Mama can't imagine parenting without her breasts; here's why.
  • Loves Books, Loves PeopleSeonaid at the Practical Dilettante discovers that the library is a perfect fit for her family's needs.
  • An Ode to the Maya WrapRevMama's next child might be named Maya, because of her fondness for the sling.
  • Avoiding the Padded RoomPecky at Benny and Bex is here to testify that it takes a village to raise a child.
  • My parenting essentials, from Tivo to battery-operated monstrositiesLauren at Hobo Mama presents a list of parenting essentials you didn't even know you needed (and probably don't…).
  • Attachment Parenting Through Separation: It Makes It a Little BetterJessica at This Is Worthwhile talks about how she couldn't survive her separation without attachment parenting and the bond it's afforded her with her 3 year old son.
  • Parenting EssentialsDeb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares the principles she used to parent her children from infants to adults.
  • My Parenting Essentials — The things that are truly essential to Kim at In Desperate Need of Entertainment aren't things at all.
  • I'm No One Without My Sling — How baby carrying is essential to the parenting of Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama.
  • I Cannot Imagine Parenting Without...Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine talks about what she needs to raise her children.
  • February Carnival of Natural Parenting — Through her experiences over the last five and a half years, Casey at Love What Is has discovered her most important tool for parenting is using her instincts.
  • CNP: I Cannot Imagine Parenting Without __________.The Artsymama discloses the one thing that gave her back control of herself as a parent.
  • Laugh Until I Cry — Laughing with her sons keeps Acacia at Fingerpaint & Superheroes connected and grounded.
  • I Cannot Imagine Parenting WithoutLuschka at Diary of a First Child realizes what the one thing she can't imagine parenting without is, and it turns out it's not a thing after all.
  • It Takes Two — Here are a few of the reasons why Jenn at Adventures Down Under cannot imagine parenting without her fabulous husband.
  • Stopping to Listen — Though it wasn't easy at first, Knocked Up - Knocked Over cannot imagine parenting her daughter without listening first to what she is telling her.
  • The Essence of Parenting — There are many wonderful resources that make life easier for Michelle at the Parent Vortex to parent, but the essence is the relationship between parent and child.
  • What I Cannot Live WithoutSybil at Musings of a Milk Maker considers her computer to be a parenting lifeline.
  • True Blessings: White Noise and GrandparentsKat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment can't live without her white noise machine and the support of her parents.
  • The Necessities! — What "stuff" does a natural parent like Lily, aka Witch Mom really need? Not much, it turns out.
  • Mama Showed MeMama Mo at Attached at the Nip writes about how parenting wisdom is passed on by example.
  • Ode to the Loo — For Joni Rae at Tales of a Kitchen Witch, the bathroom is her safe place, where she can take a minute to calm down if she is feeling touched out.
  • Go, Mama. Go!Andrea!!! at Ella-Bean & Co. has been able to integrate her many roles through her get-up-and-go parenting essential, exercise!
  • My Other HalfBecky at Old New Legacy realizes what a relief it is to have her husband parent alongside her.
  • Grace, Love, and CoffeeMrsH at Fleeting Moments realizes that lifelines can take the form of the profound, or the mundane. Both are ok.
  • Supportive Spouse, Check! — There are so many parenting tools and gadgets that are superfluous, but the one essential, for Danielle at born.in.japan, has been her supportive spouse.
  • Why I'm a BabywearerMeredith at Becoming Mamas reflects on the ways babywearing has enhanced her mama baby relationship...and made life easier to boot.
  • It's Marvelous Out Here, Kiddo!Rachael at The Variegated Life can't imagine parenting in the big city without the marvels of Prospect Park to share with her Critter.
  • Yes, Thank YouAmy at Anktangle offers tips on how to ask for and accept help, an essential for successful parenting.
  • Parenting Essentials Checklist: Mom’s Inner Rebel and Her Kids’ VoicesOlivia at Write About Birth reflects on raising global citizens and saying no to societal norms.
  • Eco-Mama Online! — An Eco-Mama living in the mountains of a nature island, Terri at Child of the Nature Isle finds it essential to connect to nature and to connect online.
  • Sorry, We Just Sold the Last OneNev at The Adventures of Lime confesses she missed out the day they handed out patience.
  • LaughTashmica at The Mother Flippin' Blog reveals her super power, her talisman agains mean mommy.
  • My Priceless Parenting Resource — What do books, a magazine community, my mother and the local playgroup have in common? Lucy at Dreaming Aloud tells us...
  • The Gift of Shared TimeTree at Mom Grooves strives to experience the world from her daughter's perspective.
  • Follow the GigglesDionna at Code Name: Mama can’t live without the sound of her child’s giggles - come watch her video and you’ll agree!
  • Can I Mommy Without Boob?Emily at Crunchy(ish) Mama shares her fears about weaning and losing part of that mother/child bond.


Dionna @ Code Name: Mama said...

Would you believe we don't have Tivo? I don't even know how it works. I'm one of *those* people - someday Kieran will be trying to teach me how to work a remote and will roll his eyes and say "oh come ON mama!"


Really though - my library card is one of the essentials. We are there every.single.week for story time and checking out books/videos. I have a picture of Kieran from before he could crawl reaching for books at the library - he is truly my book worm :)

Unknown said...

Classic! Thanks for being honest rather than worthy! White carbs and cheese. And electronic noisemakers. And buggies! Hear hear!!

And you're very welcome for the steal! ;)

MJ said...

A great collection of musts for parents! Love it :)!

Seonaid said...

Bwa ha ha. I laughed all the way through this post! Even though I don't have a lot of those things, I certainly have their equivalents... YouTube comes to mind. :)

At the Bee Hive said...

Annie's bunnies might be my most important parenting tool. Sigh... never should have taught her the sign for bunny!

Jenn said...

Bless those kid-friendly restaurants! And a close second are the noisy restaurants that don't notice toddler noise among the din of their normal patrons. Our favorite is to go to Buffalo Wild Wings during any kind of college game - food tossing and randoms whoops and hollers fit in just fine.

We've been taking weekly trips to the library since my son was about six months old - I love living a block from the library - and I can't wait for him to be old enough to participate in some of the story time programs. Soon. Too soon.

Shana said...

I am right there with you on my tivo-equivalent. Goodness knows without a stash of 20 episodes of Sesame Street or Word World on demand at any given hour (hello, 5:30am) I would never make it out the door to work in the morning with my kid and my home in one piece.

Elisabeth Stone said...

I definitely agree that the library and Craigslist are essentials! We go to the library at least every other day. And any time I really need something, it's either Craigslist or Ebay. I hate buying new.

Unknown said...

Oh man, this was hilarious! You cracked me up all the way through. Thanks for lightening the mood of the carnival a bit.

I would like to nominate Netflix instant play for the list of essentials. Since we don't have cable (gasp!) or Tivo, it's the main way we watch things these days. I've spent SO many hours on the couch nursing (and cuddling and rocking and bouncing...) my cranky baby while watching endless seasons of crime dramas. Yep, can you picture it? That's my life! =D

Becky said...

Love, love, love how your blog keeps it real! Sometimes I think of natural parenting blogs as so strict in their parenting methods, which isn't a bad thing, but the reality is we're living in a different world now with Tivo, smart phones, the Internet, etc. It's fun to read how to incorporate those things in your life as well as the natural parenting principles.

I remember that you reviewed the documentary-movie Babies. I was able to watch it on the plane last fall, and it was a comfort to see the parents in Japan, and the other parents too, let their baby lie on the floor while they watch TV, or kinda ignoring them as they played or got into their stuff. I know that Julia's (my daughter, on my blog I call her Edel) first year of life would have been pretty boring, and that's alright!

Jessica Claire said...

Love it! Craigslist, Freecycle and the local moms lists (mainstream one for my part of town, plus Holistic Moms and others) have been key.

We recently canceled Direct TV to save money. Now that my husband watches sports live on the weekends, my preschooler has started saying, "I like commercials." Egads! I don't think it's worth the savings!

pecky said...

I second the smartphone essential! I just discovered all the toddler apps out there to give me those 5 more minutes when I'm at the grocery store and my 2 year old is losing it. He's also become quite the Angry Birds player too! Thanks for sharing - awesome list!

Kristen @ My Semi-Crunchy Life said...

I love your list!

I think my daughter is better at Angry Birds than I am. I also think she and Mikko would have a grand time at the library together ;)

Inder-ific said...

Hahahahaha! Cheese and processed white flour products! Yes! So true. Although it is kind of fun throwing some broccoli or peas into the mac & cheese just so you can watch your baby carefully pick out each veggie, *lick* the cheese off it, and put it aside. It's a fascinating and entertaining process.

Lisa C said...

Ug, I want my TV to go away! Actually, if there was a way to make it work for just 30 minutes a day, we'd be great. Now it's just a crutch.

I guess some of my parenting essentials would be of course things like the baby sling when he was a baby, and our Baby Bjorn potty has gotten quite a lot of use out of it. The library is a godsend. I'm with you on the books and online community, as well as the good friends I've made in person.

I think hugely important to me is the outdoors--the fact that we have a backyard, a park up the road, a field behind our neighborhood, a hiking trail nearby, and pretty close is the aquatic center, and the jump house, and not too far we have the children's museum, and OMSI (another museum where he can play), and the zoo, and more trails...basically anything that helps me get him out of the house to burn some energy and stimulate his mind. So yeah, I guess that's my parenting essential.

Lauren Wayne said...

@Inder-ific They are masterful at getting out the pieces they don't want, aren't they? Sometimes I'll try to sneak an onion string into his noodle pile (at a teriyaki place) or call cauliflower "white broccoli," because he loves broccoli. He never falls for it! :) Yesterday he was eating mac & cheese that were bug shapes (his fave), and he picked the one out that was a shell that had accidentally been mixed in and gave it to me to dispose of. "I can't like that." Seriously?! How does he even see these things?

Terri said...

Oh tooooooo funny!! I needed to read this one tonight! The photos of Mikko are so gorgeous. Thanks for sharing this and the wonderful carnival.

Sybil Runs Things said...

Oh I love that first picture! Too funny.

I like your list. We have only gotten super in to the library since moving to our new place (and driving past the library four times a day!) and I must say, not sure I could live without it now.

Momma Jorje said...

Oh I so want to call cheating! lol I wanted to read other entries before I typed up my very first Carnival entry!

I'd just like to add that I can SOOO relate to the overdue library books! I can never seem to crack a book and I'll get a bunch of them to... NOT read. Ugh. At least my library lets us pay our fees online now! No one has to SEE me pay them. heh

Janine said...

Amen for smart phones. How did women breastfeed without them?

Deb Chitwood said...

Hilarious post! But scary, too - when I realized that many of the items on your list weren't even around when my kids were little! (Am I old or what???!)
Deb @ LivingMontessoriNow.com

mrs green @ littlegreenblog.com said...

HA! what a great list - loving the crocs (second to velcro fastening trainers here), balloons (hours of satisfaction guaranteed) and yep I wouldn't want to be without my mobile phone either ... ;)

Lindsay said...

I didn't manage to get an entry written in time this month, but I'm enjoying reading the other entries. I love your list. Too funny, and most of them are true for us too. :)

Rachael @ The Variegated Life said...

Your list cracks me up!

As for the fines for overdue books, guilty, guilty, guilty! I wasn't allowed to check out any more books until I paid my $15.25 fine this week! I blame the mayor for budget cuts that have resulted in the library's being closed on Mondays, which used to be the best day for going to the library, alas.

Unknown said...

I love this!! Hey, when they say it takes a village, I don't think they only mean people (whomever "they" are!!) We also swore we'd never have electronic toys, my best friend, however, felt otherwise and we now this horrible annoying singing monstrosity that drives Ben and I nuts...however Ella loves it, and so it became her special "car toy" - she is entertained and screams less, and I can turn up my own music to drown-out the uber-annoying singing!!

Curly Hairdo Ideas said...

I love this list! (I read it before, but didn't get a chance to rely, sorry!)

I would have to say I totally agree on many points! and I know if I ever got an smartphone I would never be able to get rid of it again! lol

and oh goodness I agree about kid-friendly resturaunts!!

I might also add kid nail polish - it makes clipping nails SO much easier! and chap stick... they play with that stuff forever thinking it's lipstick and that they're so grown up! lol (at 2 and 4years)

Adrienne said...

Haha! Love this post! Read it out loud to my hubby laughing our way through the whole thing. I wish I had your humor in my writing, but for now I'll just read your stuff when I need a good chuckle.

With my 4-month-old, I don't have many parenting must-haves yet, but your list as well as the lists others submitted are giving me a good heads up as to what's to come. :)

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