My good friend Julia over at It’s Not Like a Cat recently posted about her top parenting fails and asked for reader feedback. My comment to her was so verbose that I decided to re-post it here. And, in turn, ask you for your stories, too. C’mon. We all suck. Might as well just cop to it.
Julia’s question: Do you eat breakfast? How do you make the time/space for it?
My answer: I do eat breakfast. I either eat with The Who on days that we are not rushed to get out (I make eggs. A lot. He only eats the whites, so I feel pretty ok about it.) On days that I will be working at a cafe, I buy a breakfast sandwich there. Not terribly frugal, but yes. I eat breakfast most days.
Julia’s question: Do you give your kids screen time–TV, iPad, games on your phone? How much? Does it bother you at all?
My answer: I give my kid screen time and it doesn’t generally bother me. I tried very hard not to give him any before age 1, but then we started watching one episode of Sesame Street per day. Our nights of sleep were so horrible and I was so beat in the morning that we started our day every day with a show for a while. Nowadays, if it’s a school day, he watches a half hour total, tops. On a non-school-weekday, probably an hour. On a weekend, could be a lot more. Today, for example, I think he watched two and a half hours of TV and had about a half hour of iPhone time. That felt like a lot to me, but I was out all afternoon at a work thing and my wife was exhausted and, well, desperate times call for desperate measures. I also cop to letting him use my phone at restaurants if I want to chat with another grown-up. Sometimes I let him play on my phone when I shower. Bottom line: he gets anywhere from 1/2 hour – 2ish hours a day and, at age 4.5, I feel ok about it. It’s not ideal, but it’s way better than the alternative: my craziness if I had to fill all that screen-time with hands-on playing. That said, he also will almost always choose playing with someone over TV. TV is definitely a fall-back choice for him.
Julia’s question: Do you feed your kids things you thought you wouldn’t?
My answer: We fell into the chocolate milk trap, as Julia mentioned in her post. It’s a morning drink here. The Who was a whole white milk drinker until the fateful day that my wife let him sip her hot cocoa. Never a white milk since. Nowadays, he drinks unsweetened vanilla almond milk with a dash of TJ’s organic chocolate syrup. He LOVES going to Grandma’s, though, where he gets Hershey milk boxes. I also feed him a lot more bacon just in the name of getting protein in him when he is low-energy or grouchy. Bacon is always a winner. Fortunately, he seems less interested in hot dogs lately, because I gave them to him, but never felt very good about it. I also commit the cardinal sin of making him something different than we eat on a pretty regular basis. We eat salads with some kind of protein on top almost every night. If it’s a protein he likes (steak, pork loin, chicken) I will give it to him (with ketchup, of course) and usually a side of fruit. If we have snap peas on hand, I will toss a few on his plate, since it’s the only vegetable he will semi-predictably eat. (Unless you count corn on the cob, which I do, and he does eat that, but many of my friends say it’s not really a vegetable.) I also occasionally toss some other veggies on his plate, hoping he will at least give it a try, which he usually does. So far, though, he hasn’t liked any. If we’re topping our salads with a protein he doesn’t particularly enjoy (lately, salmon and surprisingly, bbq ribs) I will give him something else entirely. Grilled cheese, usually.
Julia’s question: Do you swear in front of your kids?
My answer: Oh, I absolutely swear in front of The Who. I have cleaned up my act to an extent (I say, “oh my goodness!” instead of my old “oh my god!” but I drop f-bombs and their cousins easily and carelessly. Rarely as an expression of frustration, though. More as an adjective in pleasant conversation with other adults. Maybe it’s the lack of accompanying emotion that has made it a non-issue thus far. We have been lucky in that The Who never repeats curse words. He could, easily. He definitely repeats nearly everything else I say, but somehow curse words have not made it into his regular vocabulary.
Julia promised another installment with five more sins. I will copy my answers when she does. In the meantime, what about you?