I believe there is a book called Don’t Stress The Small Stuff right? I believe I even read it back in the day. It’s true, worrying about every little thing can be paralyzing. But what if let the little things that you are not stressing build up into a dirty bomb of annoyance and anger? Yes, I believe I am feeling it these days and I am simply chalking it up to the culmination of irritation. Tick, tick.
We all have several things that bother us every day. That’s not news. For those of us who are parents, I have to say, those several things multiply faster than the cost of buying Diaper Genie refills. Why? Because you are taking on the worry and problems that your little kiddies bring to the table. Oh and spoiler alert, it does not seem to bother them, so that weight gets even heavier on your already tired shoulders.
When a year comes to an end, everyone is taking a look back and what they did or didn’t do over the last 12 months. Then, they look ahead, making lists of what they want to do in the future. The changing of the calendar to 2016 is a great time to start fresh. To take stock of life and make some goals for the next 365 days. I have never been one for resolutions, but I do like to have a few goals on the go, even if I don’t express them.
But as someone who works in marketing, setting benchmarks is the only way to really measure success and failure. I read a great post from fellow dad blogger, Casey Palmer, where he lists in great detail, his goals for the year. So, I figured I could do the same, but in fewer words.
The day starts out as normal. Alarm, snooze, alarm, start coffee, check the weather and then go and wake up the kids. This is what my wife does every morning Monday to Friday. I am a lucky guy. I wake up a bit later and do a second run that takes over once breakfast is over.
But that well-oiled routine can be put on ice thanks to one uncontrollable act of nature. A sick kid. Before even moving them, you can just tell that are not well. You touch them and feel the heat of a fever through their jams. You secretly hope that just getting them up and going will fix all, but you know it won’t. A sick day is looming. Daycare is not going to want a burning hot kid.
Then the brain negotiation with yourself begins. Can I stay home. What work would be missed? Any meetings?
Ever since becoming parents, my wife and I have been pretty good about splitting the days of work missed. There have not been that many over the last few years, so we have been lucky.
This week, we have both taken turns staying home with a sick Charlie. He keeps riding the fever train up and down. He went to daycare, but then back home to sleep it off.
So as a parent, what can you do to make a sick day fun and not 100% rely on the good-ship-Netflix to get the job done?
Here are 10 ways to ease the pain and make a sick day fun.
Get them out of bed. Just getting them up, dressed and lounging on the couch is a big step up from the bed of sickness. If need be, get a fresh blanket and pillow and turn the couch into base camp for recovery. If they pass out on the couch, don’t sweat it.
Few things cheer up a sick and irrational child like offering up their favourite cartoon. Don’t overdo it. Set a limit and stick to it. For us, Thomas the Train and Color Crew tend to work for the younger crowd. All my memories of a sick day as a kid involved a special treat of watching TV during the day.
Our boys love muffins. So when they want something comforting, I turn into the muffin man. Getting food into their bellies can be hard when they are sick and a muffin will certainly fill them up and give that Tylenol something to soak into.
Ah yes, the drug vehicle for us. Our kids hate taking medicine. I mean, heaving it back up on my pants hate. So we do what works. Sneak it into chocolate milk. Works every time. It’s a treat, it soothes their throat and gets the medicine in without a fight.
We read our boys a lot of books anyways, but spending some extra time reading their faves when sick is comforting. I also will admit I like how they melt into you when they are so tired and unhappy. It’s a parenting moment I will miss when they are grown up.
Fresh air is a great cure. If possible, even if it’s on the front porch, take your sickie outside. It will spruce them up and the fresh air will make them crash even harder when it’s nap time. Plus it is a nice distraction from feeling like ass. Grab the stroller, go around the block once and head back to base camp.
Lunch is usually spent at daycare or school with many other kids. It is crazy and loud and not much choice in the food you get. So since you are home anyways, make a fun lunch and have a living room picnic. Because they are not that hungry, you can kind of make what you want to eat which is a bonus.
For our boys, the new toys always win. If you have something new stashed away bring it out. If one of their old faves has dust on it, revisit it. Get down on the floor and play a game of cars. It gets their blood flowing for mind and body and helps avoid couch sores. It’s easy to let TV be the doctor but good old-fashioned play needs to be mixed in.
Your kids are sick. They are miserable. They give two shits about the rules at this point. Let them bend a little. Don’t be a hard ass just because you cleaned the house the day before. Let it go. Keep things on a chill level. I am not talking about letting them have a beer, but if they want to eat on the floor or only eat cereal all day, just go with the flow.
Obviously. Nothing heals more than snuggles from mom or dad.
How do you help keep a sick day fun for your kids? What do you remember from your childhood?
Sick days can cause a lot of stress for parents especially when both are working and have to take time off. But remember, your kids have their daily routines as well. It can be stressful for them, even as you see them living like a king on the couch. Keep things calm, roll with the punches and do whatever it takes to get them all better and out the door the very next morning.
Being a dad to two boys is still a work in progress, but after almost six years of parenting, there are definitely some similarities to our boys.
For the most part, they follow the same path in terms of what they love and what they hate. Each phase can come at a different age and time of the year, but the topic is the same.
Based on talking to other parents who have young boys, they also confirm that the phases their boys go through have been very similar.
Hell, many of these phases, I went through myself over 30 years ago. Some things never change I guess.
Here are 20 phases that boys go through that never seem to change.
1. The Sesame Street phase – Our youngest is deep in this phase as we speak. He loves Sesame or “cookie” as he calls it. Sesame Street is timeless. It is an educational show that we have no problem letting our boys binge watch. I was pretty happy to find 30 minute versions on Netflix. They are easy to fit in before school or before dinner when everyone just needs some time to do what they need to do.
2. I hate food phase – This phase can be a little longer than some and also come back just when you thought it was gone. Both our boys starting out as little machines that ate anything that was put in front of them. But eventually, they got with the program of their peers and turned into “I only eat battered food” soldiers. Partly why I am filing this under a phase is I am being optimistic that it ends.
3. Being an animal phase – We encourage imagination as much as possible, but you don’t have to do much for your kids wanting to be animals. Our oldest went through a stage of being a cat. He was a cat for Halloween and likes to lay on the couch like a cat sometimes. Other animals we have experienced include a monkey, a hawk and a frog.
4. I only like to wear one type of clothes phase – Our oldest in is this phase. He only likes to wear “cool pants”, which basically consist of track pants. My parents will remember that for me, this phase lasted years and I was much older. Every day I tell Harry his clothes are out for him and every day he asks if I gave him cool pants. Sadly some days you just have to wear slacks.
5. The Thomas phase – Genius creation for a life long source of income. Kids have been loving all things Thomas for so long, I am amazed it’s still going strong. Our oldest certainly was into busting his buffers more than our youngest, but that probably as a lot to do with wanting to be into what big brother is into. It also helps that we have the toys already from our first trip down the train tracks. Netflix is keeping this phase alive much longer than it is needed in my opinion. That Gordon is an ass hat.
6. The Superhero Phase – Love the superhero phase. It is like reliving my youth. Plus the stuff these day is way cooler and way easier to access. You name your flavour and it’s everywhere. When I was little you were forced to really love Superman, Batman or Spiderman. Now kids can branch out to the most obscure hero there is. The Justice League is great for giving attention to the fringe heroes. Our boys though are still mostly into Batman and Superman.
7. The Lego phase – Again, I was thrilled when our boys hit the Lego loving stage. I got my stash as a kid and gave it to them to go crazy with. They spend so much time building the craziest pieces of art. Lego is phase that has never died for me and I hope it is the same for the boys. Again, I never had access to all these modern day kids. Building so many cool trucks, cars, ships and more is a great bonus to having kids.
8. The Star Wars phase – It’s like boys were born with a chip in their head that helped them learn about Star Wars before they knew it was a real thing. Before ever seeing the movie, our oldest knew all the characters and who was good or evil. Lego has a lot to do with that for sure, but it’s like he just knew it, like he knew how to one day walk. Again, it is such a treat to get to live the Star Wars thing all over again with the boys. I also find cool that the movie still holds water after close to 40 years. Must be the force.
9. The Dinosaur phase – This might have been my favourite phase as a kid. Dinosaurs are pretty much the coolest thing and T-Rex was their Don Draper. We have dinosaurs all over the house. Big ones, little ones, stuffed ones, ones that transform and ones that roar. You ask either one of our sons if they are a dinosaur and they will roar on cue no matter the situation. Wait until I can turn them on to being a Toronto Raptors fan.
10. The Pirate phase – Arrrh maties, yes you know this phase. Every boy has had a pirate birthday party. Eye patches, gold coins and parrots that sit on your shoulder. These are not the pirates from Captain Phillips or the ones that help us download free movies. These are the cartoony pirates like from Goonies. Nothing like listening to the boys walk around the house talking about walking the plank or looking for their bounty.
11. The Power Ranger Phase – Go go Power Rangers. Again, Netflix really brought this back into my life. Harry went through a phase of watching each version of the horrible live action show. Then the trading cards came into play. Then the costumes, dolls and back to the show. Harry always seemed to love the Red Ranger, but it changed depending on his mood. This phase is by far the one I figured would have ended long ago. It’s so bad. Why are parents letting this continue?
12. The Pokemon phase – Or as I call it, their first taste of learning about supply and demand. The cartoon was just a vehicle to what the boys really got hooked on, the trading cards. Wow. If you have not been through it yet, get ready. It takes on a life of its own. Our son’s teacher refers to those cards as contraband. Every boy (and girl) seems to go to school with a few cards and come home with more, less or different ones each day. For us, the phase seems to have ended, but when I see 10-year-old kids on the streetcar still talking about it, I am sure it will return.
13. I figured out how to play parents phase – Again, call be stupid, but I am hoping this is a phase. Our oldest has moved towards this period of life where he bounces back between parents until he gets the answer he wants. For the most part he fails as he does not do it quietly. Dude we can hear you. But he has pulled off a few capers and scored more game time, snack time or TV time.
14. I want to be a baby again phase – We have seen this with both our boys. This is especially true if there is a new-born in the mix. I mean who wouldn’t want to be treated like a baby again. You don’t have to do anything. You get carried, fed, cuddled and have all your demands met without question. We are starting to think our youngest does not want to leave the phase because we can’t get him out of his crib. I guess one day he will discover how much more comfortable an actual bed can be.
15. The hockey card phase – We have not experienced this one yet but like higher interest rates, we know it is coming. I have all of my cards still from when I was a kid, so I am sure all it would take is seeing those and Harry would be hooked. This can include baseball cards as well. Sadly, the gum is no longer. Loved that shitty powdery stick gum.
16. The digging giant hole phase – It could be the beach, park or backyard, every boy loves to dig holes. The deeper the better. They still believe that they can dig so deep they will come out the other side. Once the snow melts and the ground thaws, our two will be outside digging a hole somewhere. All we can do as parents is provide them with the best buckets and shovels possible.
17. The taking random things in their pockets everywhere phase – We can’t leave the house without either of our boys trying to stuff something in their pockets. I think they feel it’s a test at how well we are paying attention. Nothing like getting a note from a teacher about your kid bringing weird stuff to school and disrupting class. Harry once smuggled a fancy bracelet to school. It’s mostly random Lego pieces these days.
18. The Cars phase – Another franchise that has run through two kids. Lightning McQueen is a legend. There is nothing left to say.
19. The favourite stuffy/blanket phase – For our oldest it was this grungy hamster stuffy that he called baby. Baby stuck around for years. He could not sleep without baby. Let’s not lose baby. Where the hell is baby? Thankfully that phase ended. Baby is in a toy bin somewhere, never to be seen again. With Charlie, his thing is his blue blanket. He is very much a Linus, walking around the house with it. He is also the only one who can handle how it smells. $20 bucks to whoever can inhale that and keep their lunch.
20. The kicking/hitting/scratching/biting phase – Towards each other, I bet this phase never ends. That is the life of a brother. But the phase both boys went through was directed at mom. They both liked to hit, punch, head butt, bit and generally be rough with her. Katie took some beatings. It’s hard work being a mom to two boys. Thankfully other than the occasional tantrum this phase has ended. I wonder at what age it will be dad’s turn to be a punching bag?
Did I miss some? Can you relate to some? What are your thoughts on the 20 phases that boys go through? What phases are still to come? Be gentle.
Yesterday I saw a post floating around a lot of the parenting blog Facebook pages that actually caught my attention. It was a simple list of 25 things a mom needed from her family. I read it as did many others and thought it was well done. The needs were basic, but essential for any parent really.
So of course I decided to do my own list but for dad. I hope the GromMom doesn’t mind.
No printable version or doctored up for Pinterest, just a list.
What a dad needs most from his family: 25 things
Support. Whether it is good news, bad news, burnt dinner or if the Raptors lost. Unconditional support is the best.
Order. Or at least the illusion of order. I am a planner, so let’s keep the chaos to a minimum.
Tea. Don’t worry, you don’t need to make it. I got it.
Sleep. This is more about everyone else sleeping than me.
Quiet Sunday morning. While I don’t actually sleep in, just having time to myself is pretty therapeutic.
Keeping ears turned on. Not having to repeat myself is a great feeling.
Faith. Gotta have faith right? If you asked me to do something, I am getting to it.
Grown up talk. It’s hard to carve out the time, but it’s worth it. Politics, local news, how everyone is doing.
TV time. I love my shows. Give me 44 minutes and I am recharged for the next thing.
Chips. I keep them on the top shelf for a reason.
Laughs. Our family runs on laughs. We entertain each other. I hope it never stops.
Sports. In particular the Raptors and March Madness. Watching alone is preferable.
Time to explore. Toronto is great for just walking. It helps my mind work.