How to Handle a Defiant Three Year Old

Readers, what are your best tips for how to handle a defiant three-year-old, aka the threenager (or a kiddo in the terrible twos)? How do you deal with discipline as a working parent in general — and how do you get your nanny or babysitter on the same page?

Everyone says the that the twos are terrible, but for us it was the threes that have been truly, truly horrible with both kids. When my eldest, J, was a threenager, we were giving him time-outs on a regular basis. (That’s him pictured — after a particularly rough night we woke up to find that he had stripped the bookshelves in his room and thrown all of his books in a pile behind the couch in his room. Sadly, I have no good picture of the time he painted the same couch with poop.) We were constantly frustrated and screaming, and it felt like we were never, ever, ever going to be able to live in peace with our child again. Then, one day we sort of looked at each other and said, “Huh… we haven’t given J a time-out in a thousand years. That’s so weird.” It had just sort of ended. Now he’s a perfectly insane six-year-old who gets up to his own mischief, but thankfully we’re mostly past the screaming/time-out stage of things. But: now my youngest, H, is three and a half, and if the slightest thing goes wrong, he is screeching and screaming. He excels at making messes, and his favorite thing right now is taking a pillow and throwing it to knock things off of high shelves. Charming!

(It’s also interesting to note that in the classic, must-read POOPCUP article, this is a growth stage for parents also — the article was joking about how parenting is pretty easy for “parents of one perfect child under preschool” age, but stuff starts to hit the fan once you get into the preschool weeds. Here’s our whole roundup on great articles on pregnancy and motherhood…)

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How to Stop Cursing Around Kids

how to stop cursing around kidsEvery parent has that moment when your kiddo starts speaking, and you think to yourself: SHIT! now we’ve got to stop swearing so much! We were just talking about swearing at work over at Corporette, and I thought an interesting corollary over here might be to share stories and tricks on how to stop cursing around kids.

As I’ve explained at Corporette, personally I like to joke that I was a sailor in a previous life because, around good friends at least, I tend to swear quite a bit. But when my eldest, J, was starting to speak, I found I definitely not want him to start saying bad words — I didn’t want to be That Mom with the kid who swears like a sailor since I feel like it reflects more on the parents than it does the kids. I’ve surprised myself in how little I want my kid to swear — I don’t even like for him to hear the phrase “that sucks” or “crap,” just in part because I think it’s just as easy to say “that stinks” or “well, carp,” both of which are much more acceptable.

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Make My Life Easier Thursday: Bumkins Snack Bag

Bumkins snack bag review I’d dabbled in reusable bags before when J was in daycare, but we never quite found one that we liked. But when I started packing his lunch for first grade this year, I started feeling wasteful every time I grabbed a snack Ziploc bag for a few raisins or dried mangos. So I thought I’d give these cute reusable bags a try. (He doesn’t really know who Mario is yet, but I figured Nintendo would age with him and be good for his brother as well.) Verdict: we like them. We’re not washing them every single time we use them (although sometimes I’ll just do a quick rinse in the sink and then put them on the drying rack inside out — and they’re definitely not for anything gooey or that you want to keep super fresh — but for crackers, raisins, and other small, dry snacks, we like them. They zip easily and make me feel good that on some days, at least, we’re being kind to the planet. A set of two bags is $7.95 at Amazon.  Bumkins Nintendo Reusable Snack Bag Small 2 Pack, Super Mario 8-Bit

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How to Make Shots Easier on Your Kids

how to make shots easier on your kidsIt’s flu-shot time (hooray, said no one), and since that means it’s getting closer to peak flu season, which usually hits between December and February, today we’re discussing how to make shots easier on your kids. The CDC recommends that everyone older than six months get the seasonal flu vaccine and that certain children get two doses at least a month apart. The vaccine is especially important for kids because they have a higher risk than adults for serious flu-related complications that could land them in the hospital.

If your family gets the flu vaccine, get ready with these tips to make shots easier on your kids:

 

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How to Store the Clothes Your Kid Has Outgrown

Reader M wrote in with a request for a story about how to store the clothes your kid has outgrown… Here’s her question:

Your “Organizing Thursday” post inspired me. Would you consider doing a post about storing baby/ kid items that your kid has outgrown?

Interesting question, M! I think I’ve written about this before, but can’t find the post on point — for my $.02, we like a clear plastic “sweater bag” system (affiliate link). (Update: shoot, just found it — but my older post was more on how I keep track of which kids clothes I’ve bought for which sizes, which is a system I still use and am thankful for when I have, say, a slight inkling that maaaaybe I have more 3T lighter weight pants somewhere but can’t find them physically, then check my files and realize NO, I don’t, and off to the stores I go.) When J, my eldest, was first starting to outgrow stuff, I would dutifully wash and pack away all of his too-small baby clothes, not entirely knowing if I was saving them for sentimentality, baby #2, or, say, some massive future donation.  The baby stuff mostly fit in one sweater bag for the first 6 months, I think; we didn’t start having to expand to multiple sweater bags per size range until we hit the 3T sizes, if memory serves.  I wasn’t terribly fancy with labeling the bags — I’d usually just scribble “2T” on a PostIt on the top or side of the bag. We kept them stacked in the space between J’s dresser and the wall for the longest time; now we also keep them stacked on a corner shelf.

These days there are two more steps to my storage process: for J’s too-small stuff it tends to go in a basket in my closet before I start sorting it. He may have 2 or 3 sizes out at once — or I may find stuff from last season that I forgot to put away. When I’m ready (i.e., when the basket is spilling out and threatening to overwhelm my closet) I sort the kids clothes by size into sweater bags. (If the sweater bags are overflowing, I try to break them up into 5T winter and 5T summer, but I’ve found I end up rifling through any bag labeled 5T when the time comes.)

As for the second step, that’s dealing with H’s too-small stuff, and that goes in a second area. (By which I mean I throw it in the same corner every time. Yep, Martha Stewart and Marie Kondo would be very proud. (Kidding.)) By separating it out, that at least gets it out of the laundry rotation and, again, when it’s threatening to overwhelm the area, I tend to sit down and look at the stuff.  We think we’re done having kids (we joke that I’m 98% sure and my husband is 125% sure), and, to be honest, most of the stuff we’ve bought is looking pretty nasty by the time two boys have worn them — so in the past the unwearable stuff has just been thrown away, although in the future I’m going to look for  a textile recycling program in our area. Most of our kids’ clothes come from Carters/Old Navy/Gap/Lands’ End — but I can definitely see the argument for buying really nice children’s clothes if you expect to have many kids because, the theory is, more expensive children’s clothes last longer.) Of what’s left, some stuff will be sent to my cousin’s baby; some will be donated. A very small portion of it I’ve sent to ThredUp for resale. And a very, very small portion of the stuff my husband and I choose to keep for sentimental reasons.  Thus far, our “sentimental clothes” collection fits entirely in one sweater bag, and I’m going to try really hard to keep it to that… but we’ll see when the time comes.

Three more random notes:

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The Working Mom’s Guide to Easy School Lunches

easy school lunch ideasOk, ladies — what do you pack for your kiddo’s lunches, whether for daycare, elementary school, or other? Are you most concerned with ease of packing, assuredness of eating, nutrition, calories, or cost? What are your top easy school lunch ideas? Have you had success outsourcing this task — for example, I’ll bet this is a nobrainer for those of you with au pairs, but for those of you in daycare it’s either you or your partner. We kind of had a discussion about working moms and kids lunches a few year ago, but it’s been a while — so let’s discuss.

For my $.02, we’re trying to maintain my first grader’s weight until he grows a bit taller, so my primary concerns are a mix of calories, nutrition, and volume (I want him to feel like he’s getting a lot of food, even if I know he’ll only eat half of the cherry tomatoes or baby carrots I pack for him), and, selfishly, ease of packing for me or my husband. We also try to be good to the environment where we can and pack reusable containers — but I’m also realizing that this is resulting in a zillion dishes to wash, so we’ll see how that goes.

For “mains” I find that it’s hard to get around yogurt/milk/sandwich options, unless we have acceptable leftovers (for example, I’ve given meatballs and rice before!) — so most of these ideas are easy snacks and “extras.” But I’m curious to hear what your tips are for packing school lunches — and what you pack! 

These are my go-tos for easy school lunches:

Easy School Lunch Ideas that are Healthy and Non-Processed

  • cherry tomatoes
  • apples, precut apple slices
  • baby carrots
  • hard boiled eggs
  • shredded or pulled chicken
  • grapes
  • all berries

Healthy, Convenient Food Ideas for School Lunches

Some good ideas if you’re in the middle of the road (i.e., “healthy” convenience food) — but they tend to be expensive!:

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