Yes. I’m having a party after you sleep

My eldest daughter FZ recently came to us and declared she “figured” out why we make her and her siblings go to bed. 

FZ: I know you guys have fun. One time you thought I was sleeping but I heard you open the fridge and eat something.

Me: Yeah so? 

FZ: I know you guys have a party without us. 

Me: (without a bit of remorse) Yup. It’s true. We have a lot of fun.

After serving as a maid, cook, homework assistant, referee, guidance counselor, knower of all answers, and on-call book reader all day long, I think I do deserve a party after bedtime. 

My party consists of doing homework or eating ice cream. Or both. Sometimes if I’m feeling adventurous I’ll do the laundry.

But yes, I’ll admit – I’m as giddy as a schoolgirl come 8 o’clock. Sure you might think my party is pretty lame. But that’s my time. My space. My peace. 

I think it’s unfair for parents to feel like they have to want to be with their kids all the time. I mean I’m there when my kids need me, and I hope I never let them down. But I also need a chance to do my own things. I wouldn’t be a human otherwise.

Of course it’s not on their time. So I make my time. And that means I’m a stickler for bedtime. 

One day my kids will understand what my “parties” really consisted of, and they’ll probably just feel sorry for me. Until then, I’m going to live it up.

5 reasons why a good parenting partner is really important

1. You can hand them off – it’s nice to know that right when that little whistle is about to blow in your mind, you can say “I need a break!” and run away!! I’ve often added this part: “Just letting you know I might not come back. Dinner’s on the stove.” Don’t worry – I always go back.

2. They help ease parenting stress – You love your kids and you know them best, but there are plenty of times when you feel like you’re at a roadblock. Your kid is lying. Or biting. Or talking back. What’s next? How do I go from here? A good parenting partner really knows when to ease your worries and give useful advice. 

3. They know how to play good parent/bad parent – When you have to always be the bad parent, it stinks. A good parenting partner is essential in keeping the balance between fun parenting and party-pooper parenting. Lord knows I’ve been on both ends and because of this balance, it’s nice to know my kids don’t consider me the “always no” parent. Not yet, anyway.

4. They know how to work around kids – A hands-off parent is a real killjoy. When you’re cooking dinner and breaking up a fight simultaneously, you need a good parenting partner to notice your kid is doing the potty dance and guide him/her to the bathroom. Not one who says, “Uh, I don’t do number 2.” 

Or during those days (you know those days) when you’re tired, haven’t had dinner, and now it’s bedtime, it’s a relief to have a good parenting partner swoop down and take over bedtime so you can grab a bite. 

5. They know how to enjoy those beautiful moments – When the tantrums subside and the food fights stop, and you’re left with those cute smiles, warm hugs and funny sayings – who better to share those moments with?? A good parenting partner will relish in those wonderful times with you, and make your heart feel very full.

5 reasons why yelling at your kids is no use

1. You sound like a monster, not a mom – No one ever yells “I love you!” or “You’re so wonderful! Come here and let me give you a HUG!!!!!” Since living with kids means you repeat something like a million times a day, yelling all the time will only turn you into a fire-breathing monster parent. And turn your house into a hostile environment. Ever seen a TV show depict the inside of a prison? Enough said.

2. Yelling doesn’t make anything happen faster – Oh, I’ve tried. Yelling only makes kids resent you and the action you want done.

3. It makes your throat hurt – And that’s no fun.

4. You raise a ‘yeller’ – If you teach your kids that yelling is the way to get things done, they will eventually yell at the spouses and then, their kids. Soft, yet stern words, go a long way in getting your point across.

5. It teaches your kids to tune you out – Yelling and shouting are ineffective ways to communicate. The saying ‘kindness kills,’ is really true. If you go toward your kids with compassion and firmness, they will see you mean business. I once simply showed my daughter I was disappointed with her actions. I didn’t yell or shout. And it made her understand quickly, without tears and drama.

A home should be a safe place to learn and grow. The same reason why we wouldn’t want our kids’ teachers yelling at our kids, we should instill in ourselves. There are times when you need to give a good shout, and that’s fine. But it should be reserved for those instances – a toddler running into the street, a child going toward a hot stove, etc.

Traveling gets tricky

We have been blessed to get many opportunities to travel with our kids.

By plane, train, bus and car – they have done it all. And thank God, we as parents have been pretty good at handling the kids through these adventures.

But now it’s not even the actual “travel” part I mind so much. It’s when we reach our destination that I start reaching for the Motrin.

Goodbye, cheerful flight attendant. Hello, horrible jetlag.

Mind you, I enjoy traveling. And especially now that we live so far from family, going home is so much sweeter than before. But kids on jetlag could potentially be used as a form of torture. Mix in a change-of-weather fever, and you are set!

All of a sudden those kids you seemed to have in control have now become a different kind of creature – those who thrive on no sleep and sugar-coated cereals. As you finally nod off to dreamland, you are awoken by a 6-year-old at 2 a.m. who is hungry. Or a 3-year-old who forgot to go to the potty. And since you are living out of a suitcase, you spend the next 15 minutes literally playing hide-and-seek with clothes.

And that’s when I miss being home. I miss my routines. I miss not living out of a suitcase.

But I digress. Traveling also makes me a little giddy. The excitement of packing and knowing you are going to see loved ones. The fun of watching your kids enjoy their trip with their own suitcase and get little presents from the flight attendants.

As the kids get older, I have also found that the more flexible you are while traveling, the easier it gets. I break all the rules: candy at takeoff? Sure thing! TV nonstop? No problem!

And I try to give myself an extra million doses of patience, too. Kids aren’t going to cooperate the entire time, and you must leave room for that. There are going to be lines, there is going to be waiting. I like to play “I Spy” or hand out extra fruit snacks during these times.

Traveling can be a pain, but I like to look at the gold pot at the end – and that is knowing I am going to visit family and spend time with those I love! Can’t beat that!

Master chef in the making?

Sometimes you think no one notices how much you slave away trying to make a house a “home.”

How many times you wash the dishes, how many times you break up the fights, how many times you wipe up juice from the floor, how many times you clean artwork from the walls, how many hours you spend cooking/baking, etc.

But then you get a moment. As the day winds down and you give the kids dinner before passing out, your middle one comes to you and says:

“Mama, your khana (food) is so yummy! I took a bite, put it in my mouth, and finished it! I love your khana!”

Oh man. Can I just say I was beaming with pride for a good 5 minutes? Then it was back to mom mode, but that was a nice 5 minutes.

Sure, my husband appreciates me, and so do my kids, but as a mother you will inevitably put in more work in the short term than you get out. Your rewards will come in the long term. Like, it’s nice to have other moms speak well of your child’s manners, but that grooming took 6 years!

So it really is a nice feeling to have your child say you are the best cook ever, and that you should open up a restaurant.

Who cares if I am not on the Food Network. My kids love my cooking, and that’s all that matters. One day when they grow up and remember my food, I hope they smile and crave my meals like I crave my mom’s.

Making motherhood work

We love moms. We love our moms. We love being moms. We have Mother’s Day, gosh darn it.

But we don’t love motherhood.

We don’t value the position of being a mother. Whether you are a stay-at-home mom, a full-time working mom, a part-time working mom, or a working-from-home mom.

Why is that? Why don’t we treat motherhood as one of the most important jobs on the planet? Is it because of what society tells us? Is it because we aren’t paid to be moms?

Because surely if someone paid us to be moms, would we be texting our friends while our kids asked us for a snack? Would we demand our kids be quiet while we watched TV?

Now, some might say, well, hey, I deserve a little me time too! I agree. I agree wholeheartedly. But when you become a mom, you have pretty much signed up to take on a job where your boss is now a drooling baby. And then the drooling baby becomes a stubborn toddler. Then the stubborn toddler grows up to be a defiant preschooler.

Is it fair? Is that OK? I don’t know the answers to that. But that’s the way it is. It’s like saying, it’s raining outside but I want to start a fire. Uh, OK. That’s great. I wish you luck as you make that work.

For a lot of parents, we have yet to learn how to make motherhood work. It takes more than patience. It sometimes means reteaching ourselves. It means putting aside our needs to assist our children. Islam gives a nice rundown of some basic upbringing rules.

  • From birth to age 7: Let children be free.
  • From age 7-14: Give your children responsibilities. Let them serve you.
  • From age 14 and up: Treat them as your adviser and friend.

For some parents, the first rule is the hardest. While it doesn’t mean no discipline at all, and letting your kids run wild, according to Islamic scholars, it means letting them engage in what they like, while you create boundaries.

Example:

  • Fantasy: Having a 3-year-old sit quietly during a program or social event.
  • Problem: Expecting our 3-year-old to behave because it serves our purpose. When he wants to run, you get mad and make him sit. He cries and throws a fit. You are embarrassed, and drag him outside. Mom and kid both unhappy.
  • Reality: He’s 3. He wants to run and play. Bring toys or an activity to keep them engaged. Don’t stay longer than you need to. Or if you have to stay, take him outside for a little fresh air and running room, then bring him back in.

But that takes more work! How am I going to chat it up with my friends while I am playing servant to my toddler? Yes, yes it will take more work. Yes, it’s not fun at times to play servant to our children. But that’s just it. While we are letting them run “free” during these early years, we are actually creating a foundation of confidence and trust. Our children know that we love them so much we let them do what they want. They trust us to take care of their needs.

So when you follow these rules, you will get an 8-year-old who wants to please her mom and dad. Because they built and nurtured this foundation of trust and love, your child now wants to please you. They want to help set the table. They want to wash the dishes. They want to serve you. In turn you give them responsibilities to show them that they are big enough to contribute.

And this now obedient child will grow to become a confident, and helpful, adult. Start with the foundation of trust and love, add the responsibilities, and you end up with an adult who is not only independent, but confident. Now you treat them as a friend. You let them make choices, you ask them for advice.

It’s not easy. No, it’s probably the hardest thing parents have to do. This little dance of being calm under pressure.

You are an adult, you think you know how to do it, and here you are literally at the beck and call of a little, tiny, helpless dictator.

But this hard work you put in, the years you will slave over making your kids happy, are all totally worth it. Because in the end you will be churning out an adult who, we hope and pray, will serve his community well. We must treat motherhood with value, because we are raising the next generation.

And that also feeds into the issue that only a stay-at-home mom can raise the best kids. Not necessarily. If a SAHM doesn’t value what she is doing, then she won’t really care to create a nurturing environment. She won’t bother to help her child learn and explore. And sure it will be harder for a working mom to give her child his/her due time, so that mom should really ask herself: Do I need to be working? Is it worth it? Is the money I bring in worth not having enough time with my child?

Bottom line is once we have children, we have a responsibility bigger than any degree, job or project. Our standards should change. Our routines should change. Our lives should change. But for the betterment of our children and families, as God wants. If we are honored to be mothers, we must realize that God has put in our trust these little humans and to treat them as wrongly, would be showing ungratefulness.