Does your kid’s birthday party look more like a party pooper?

A child’s big day should be a nice event. For the kid.

So unless your kid enjoys a sit down meal at a restaurant and formal wear, ditch the fine china and let them run wild.

This summer my Mayyo turns 1 and the day before my FZ turns 4. But it will be a party with kids and people FZ likes to hang out with, not the second cousin of her aunt’s friend who likes to leave big lipstick marks on cheeks.

Instead of cake, we will have cupcakes. And the menu will be pizza and salad. Don’t forget the goody bags!! With books, writing pads and a few kid-friendly sweets – not Jawbreakers. ??!!?? (Yes, I have seen those, too).

And no wasting time posing for 2 million photos with random strangers. There will be room to run around and there may be water involved….? (It will be summertime, after all.)

I have seen too many young children subjected to non-fun birthday parties. I have 2 kids and neither of them enjoy scratchy clothes, big frills and sitting down. And why should they? Especially on their birthdays?

I’ve been to a 1st birthday party in a hall where the birthday girl proceeded to cry the ENTIRE TIME. Uh, can I have my goody bag and get the hell out of here??

Granted it is a big day but is it worth it to have an unhappy child on their special day just so Mommy and Daddy can look good? And I don’t know about you, but I would rather save money on a big bash and have a party my kidactuallyenjoys. Hey, it’s a win-win all around.

A special day for my kid, involving balloons and presents and cake, with people she loves and enjoys spending time with. That is what a child’s birthday should be about.

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Nothing can beat a mother’s love

In the Holy Qur’an, God says that I love you more than a mother loves her child…. and when I was growing up, I just kind of believed it but never really understood what that meant.

Then when I had a child of my own, it hit me. A mother’s love is really something else, something out of this world. And it was only after I had my children that I realized how awesome my mom is.

For one, my mom was an immigrant when she had me and my siblings. She moved to the U.S. in 1980 and had me in March 1981. I think now how hard it must have been for her to be in a new country, without her own mom or family to support her and having her first child.

And my mom did an amazing job with us. She was always consistent and stuck to her guns. Because of her superb child rearing, we are blessed.

When I had FZ, my mom was with me each step of the way and she still gives me great tips and advice. She’s the kind of mom you don’t run away from because what she says works. I have well-adjusted, not spoiled, daughters, thanks to my mom.

One of the Holy Prophet Mohammad’s great-grandsons, Imam Sajjad, had this to say about mothers: “They carry you in a way that no one else can carry you. And they feed you while putting their own needs second. They sacrifice sleep and comfort while carrying you and taking care of you in the womb….”

And when you read that God’s love is more merciful than a mother’s, you can’t help but shed tears of gratitude. For it was that same God that blessed us with moms who carried us, gave birth to us, and tended to our every needs when we were totally unable to even move ourselves….

To mothers everywhere – we honor you and sacrifices. Thank you God for placing such unconditional love in the hearts of mothers! May we raise our kids with the same selfless mercy as You have shown us.

What goes down should be good

It’s hard feeding kids. Not only is patience required, but a lot of time and energy.

First bites are more like slurps of runny cereal and milk. And then you have to increase texture, include variety, meats, spices, fruits or veggies? etc. etc.

(And, if you’re that mom who still feeds your kid cereal in a bottle. Please stop. Cereal should be eaten with a spoon.)

But one thing is for sure: Homemade beats anything else. Your kids should be eating whatyouare eating, albeit a little less spicier and less chunky.

I always try to feed FZ and Mayyo good stuff. Does that mean I only go organic and tote around a food mill? No. It also doesn’t mean I spend my days pureeing and freezing little pots of food. I can’t and I won’t. One thing about having kids is actually enjoying your kids.

But I do cook at home and I often take out a bit before adding the garam masala and cayenne pepper for the kids. In fact I have already started feeding Mayyo a bit of pepper just to get her tastebuds going. It helps that I still nurse her and so she is getting a taste for all things hot and spicy already.

I also want my kids to be normal, so that means some afternoons of popcorn shrimp, mac and cheese and wheat bread. Or frozen pizza. And on some days of pickyness, I have fed my kid pancakes for dinner.

Part of being a mom is going with the flow and picking your battles. I have a few no-nos when it comes to my kids’ dining habits.

-NO soda
-NO sweets until after a meal

And that’s about it. I can’t stand those parents who are anti-candy, anti-juice and anti-salt and pepper. Why don’t you just put your kid in a plastic bag and feed him flavored oxygen? Whatever happened to balance?

(Blog entry preview: Next one will be about kid-friendly recipes, so start saving the good ones to share!)

All things in moderation also goes for kids. And I wish more parents understood that instead of becoming weird food police for their kids. I once went out with some friends and brought some cereal as a snack for Mayyo. As I was offering another mom for her kid she politely refused saying her kid doesn’t eat sweets. Uh, it’s cereal, not a Snickers bar. But then again that’s your kid and you are the mom.

I agree that all kids need limitations and a routine. But life is not built on a schedule. So as long as our kids are getting everything they need, it really isn’t so important when they are getting it. Meaning if FZ only has bread for lunch, she will make up for it at dinner, or through a couple healthy snacks. Or if Mayyo skips her evening nap, then she’ll just go down for bed earlier.

Balanced kids are happier kids, so let’s lose the whip and embrace a little disorder.

How could I forget my kid’s routine??

I have a 3-year-old and FZ is pretty well settled, so I thought I had it all down.

Then Mayyo came along and even though she is a good natured baby (thank God!), she is quite the clingy one.

And when we came back from a family trip to New York, all she wanted to do was climb into my arms and just chill.

Which doesn’t sound so bad, until you have to cook. And clean. And use the bathroom. Sigh.

After a few days of going absolutely nuts, I realized: The kid has no routine!

I literally had to bonk myself on the head when I thought about it. What the heck happened to my mommy sense?

So the next day I got Mayyo up. She ate breakfast, went down for her first nap, and woke up a much happier baby. In fact she even ventured some feet away from me.

VICTORY!

It’s been a couple weeks now and Mayyo is happier, well settled and even sleeping better! But you all knew that, right?

Well I should have known that. After all Mayyo isn’t my first child. But that just proves that parents are always learning, and we shouldn’t be so quick to shrug off advice from others.

Plus this also goes to show how important naps are. Following a baby’s internal sleep cues is vital for a happier and healthier child. I know too many parents, myself included, who sometimes forego a nap, and all it does is ruin the whole day. Why become a slave to your kid’s schedule? Well now that you’re a parent, you might as well just accept that your life will revolve around your kid’s for a while.

Hey, look on the bright side. If all goes well you’ll have a well-adjusted, happy, healthy kid to show off the fruits of your labor.