100% Scientifically Backed Facts About Parenting During a Pandemic

Parenting through a pandemic might not be easy, but one thing’s for sure: Science is having a field day.

I’ve taken some time to gather the most helpful pandemic parenting studies* to give us all an idea of what to expect as we navigate this unprecedented time.

(*studies in this case is loosely defined by personal experiences, yet to be peer reviewed, except via text threads and late night, mildly intoxicated zoom chats)

Your kids will be louder than ever before.

My working theory is the lack of air pollution is just making everything louder, but I haven’t ruled out they are slowly turning into hyena hybrids, which brings me to my second scientific fact.

Your kids will start communicating in yips, chirps, and snarls.

Sure, they’ll still use words (“snack”, “show” and “no” seem to dominate the word cloud), but you can expect most responses to begin with some sort of loud, agitated animal howl. Expect emphasis on vowels, such as “I don’t waaaaaaant toooooo” and “You can’t maaaaaake meeeeee!”

Related to their transition into hyena-type huminoids, their food consumption will increase by 9000%.

This is science and has lots of data to back it up, namely our grocery bill and my inability to keep food in the house.

Personal space will be a distant memory.

Sure, some “science” people will tell you this sudden uptick in physical contact is because kids are “stressed” and “coping with trauma” but my studies would indicate they have figured out the fastest way to get to you to give in and let them watch a show is to touch you a whole bunch so you wig out and say “oh my god just get away from me and turn on a show”.

Personal care habits will diminish.

For everybody. Perhaps it’s the increased time spent outside, or maybe it’s the sweat worked up while vigorously debating the appropriateness of drawing a dinosaur taco on the wall, but either way, they’re getting sticky, and getting them to bathe isn’t worth the fight.

They will develop blind spots in their vision.

These won’t be identifiable or treatable by an ophthalmic specialist, but the proof is in the “I can’t fiiiiiind it!” pudding. Bike helmets, shoes, water bottles, hell, their own dad – the size doesn’t matter, nor does the proximity to their face. If you don’t find it for them, it’s lost for eternity.

Similarly, their memory is getting a little spotty.

Science has noticed an uptick in the number of reports where parents give a simple directive, just to have it completely ignored by the children, who then vehemently deny ever being given the instruction. Studies are still pending, but the correlation is looking strong, with further reports indicating spouses may also be starting to suffer similar symptoms.

Previously established habits will start to disappear.

Again, the science is unclear if this can be attributed to the lack of air pollution, or the slow transition into a mangy Australian desert dog, but well known behaviors like flushing a toilet and putting on pants appear to be trending downward.

As you can see, science would indicate that parenting through a pandemic is nothing like regular parenting, and we should all probably email our schools about how they plan to handle our hyena children once school starts again in 2025. Sob.

 

Almost no-sew face mask for kids

I don’t know about you, but I’m having a helluva time finding a face mask that fits my kids. The combo of big heads, fidgety fingers, and slippery hair is hard to beat. One thing I have an abundance of, however, are leggings with knee holes, and an overly wild imagination that will certainly eventually land me in jail or at very least, lost in the woods.

In a lucky turn of events, today’s wild idea actually turned into something pretty cool, an almost no-sew face mask that fits both of my kids pretty well.

 

First things first. This mask is jankety AF, okay? I know this, but I also know that in the next few days our state will require masks in public, and I want to be able to grab a donut sometime in 2020 without being arrested. The goal today was to create something that stays on, is breathable, and can be washed with ease, which are all boxes this mask checks. It was also created out of things I had in the house, which was key for abiding by the Stay Home Stay Safe orders that are still in effect for who knows how long.

Now that we’re clear I’m not trying to solve the global PPE crisis, here’s how you make an almost no-sew face mask out of leggings.

Step 1. Find ill-fitting leggings. I don’t know if this is science, but my nearly 7 year old’s head is the same size as her 5T leggings, so shoot for a pair of pants that is not only holey, but also smaller than their current size. Extra points if it they aren’t horribly stained on the upper thigh area.

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Step 2. Fold them sideways, then cut them above the knee into shorts. The mask is made from the part of the pants that would cover the side of their upper thigh, so the tag should be in the back (on the right on this picture). I’m sure there’s a sewing term for what this kind of fold is, but I’ve done enough homeschooling today and refuse to look it up.

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Step 3. On one of the legs, make a one inch cut about 7 inches below the waist band. This will eventually be the strap that gets tied at the base of the neck, so if you mess this part up it’s no big deal. You’ll just have to sew the straps that tie around the neck on after.

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Step 4. Make one inch cut on the other side, and then cut upwards toward the band.

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Step 5. Repeat the process so both sides have been cut and you have this cute little elephanty looking fella. Remember this is only one leg of your leggings (this is only important if you, like me, are using scissors that can barely cut paper, let alone several layers of cloth).

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Step 6. About half an inch down from the very first cut you made, cut around the circumference of the pant leg.

 

Step 7. At this point, it’s time to liberate the mask from its conjoined twin, a.k.a., the other pant leg. You’ll do this by cutting around the band until you’re left with something that resembles these two pieces.

 

Step 8. Okay, by now you might have noticed I didn’t measure the mask before cutting anything because I’m a #rebel/#poorplanner. Because of this, the mask was at this point was super long, but no worries! I just folded it up a bit before tacking the interior pocket (a smaller rectangle scrap of fabric) on. Oh that’s right, it has an interior pocket for a filter because we fancy. Also snip the small band (NOT the elastic band) so you can tie the mask at the base of their neck.

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Step 9. It’s time to sew that bish. Sew along the bottom and sides, folding the mask over the pocket. Folding is optional, but it looked better than when I didn’t do it, so I’ll let you make the call. Leave the top edge of the pocket open for aforementioned filter.

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Step 10. Ta-da! Pop that sucker on your kid and force them to model it because deep down you’re an aspiring stage mom. Really make ’em smile with their eyes, since nobody can see those cute little germ blow holes grinning and bearing it.

 

So there you have it. It works GREAT on my older kid, and the youngest tolerates it. The stretch of the elastic band makes it so you can angle in a way that keeps it on. If your kid has enough hair to wear it in a bun, putting the band above the bun really keeps ‘er snug. Final measurements make it so that the mask is about 5-6″ long by about 4″ tall, which fits the faces of my average sized nearly 7 year-old, and my large-headed 4 year-old.

This almost no-sew kid’s mask is also easy to wash, environmentally friendly, and uses materials most parents already have in the house, which is pretty fantastic if you ask me.

Have you found kid masks that fit, are affordable, and available? Let me know!

 

First time mom's baby memory book

Pro Parenting Tips from an Amateur Parent (and a couple childless dudes)

I think it’s safe to say that 2020 has brought with it its fair share of surprises.

While some are depressing, frustrating, and straight up nightmare inducing (I’m looking at you, Disney Family Sing-a-Long), others have been really positive. For one, the book I wrapped up last year hit the shelves recently, and the positive reviews are rolling in*.

*Positive here being used strictly as a confirmation that I am positively not reading any of them because I’m a delicate flower and know better by now.

Something else surprising and fun? I was a guest speaker on a podcast about parenting tips.

Now the very first thing I should say is that this isn’t your grandma’s parenting podcast. For starters, the hosts are two guys who don’t have any kids and drink Fireball. Or at least one of them does, but still. See? Surprise!

Second, I, in no way, shape or form, consider myself a parenting expert. Far from it, I think my best angle at this point is to make enough money talking about how bad I am at it to be able to pay for my children’s therapy when they’re adults.

But back to the podcast

What’s a suburban mom like myself doing on a podcast with a couple of dudes who’d be more comfortable changing their oil than changing a diaper? Well the honest answer is I know one of them, but then it makes it seem less special so let’s call it a virtual book tour, shall we?

The naming of this achievement aside, it’s safe to say that prior to the taping of this virtual book tour I did a fair amount of worrying. What if I say something really terrible, or I moved my foot in a way that sounded like a fart and my mic picked it up and I had to do that super awkward, “whoa! My foot just made a farting sound how weird, right?” thing that nobody believes. Or what if there was ::gasp:: video while we taped it and all anyone could focus on was how I look like one of those mummies they find in a glacier except somehow my hair is even more stringy? Like I said, there was like, hella worrying.

And so what ended up happening? Well, I can happily say most of my worrying was in vain. Hopefully.

There are probably (okay, certainly) some things in there that will be lost on those who don’t appreciate satire. Also I learned that I sound like a Valley Girl, which was a startling realization at nearly 38. But overall we covered a variety of parenting topics in a way that was lighthearted, honest, and occasionally offensive. What could be better than that?

If you want to check it out, you can find it here and on Spotify. And check out my book if you haven’t already, or at least read the reviews for me. Just don’t tell me what they say.

 

Related: I Wrote a Book!

The Stress is Real. Give Yourself Some Grace.

It could be worse.

Be grateful for what you have.

So many others are facing much more dire situations.

This is what I tell myself periodically throughout the day as I referee another squabble between the kids. Between me and the kids. Between me and the cats (okay, only the asshole cat who seems hellbent on destroying every last shred of my sanity).

But still. I find myself suddenly sighing big sighs with an all too familiar weight on my chest. My heart and mind race, leaving my heavy body tired. The lump that sits in my throat reminds me to stay silent, or else risk tipping my hand that I’m really not okay right now.

I’ve been here before. Twice.

Postpartum depression left me in a cloud for months after both of my kids were born, and the second time around it took an SSRI to help me find my feet again. It wasn’t fun, but I came through it, and now I’m finding myself wandering through familiar territory. Hello, depression. Couldn’t you at least have hung a banner?

But back to the stress part of this equation. Prior to the pandemic, it was hard to think of something more stressful that becoming a parent. Talk about life changing! You’re semi-literally ripped open and handed something that will rely on you to some degree, both physically and emotionally, for the rest of your life. Fully literally, nothing is ever the same. It’s stressful as hell, even if it’s also positive.

The pandemic is not positive, but it also brings with it an incredible amount of stress. Financial, social, emotional, physical – it’s hard to think of one part of our lives this pandemic doesn’t apply stress to. It’s the ultimate stress test.

And if you’re an empath like me, it’s a very confusing time because on top of feeling stressed, you also feel guilty for feeling what you’re feeling because so many others have it so much worse. So you feel more stressed.

I am thankful my kids are home and safe, yet they still annoy me beyond all reason at some point (or many points) throughout the day. And so I feel guilty.

I am thankful for my WFH job, yet it’s mentally exhausting trying to fit it into an outrageously chaotic schedule, so it slips through the cracks each day. And so I feel more guilty.

I am thankful for this time with my family where we get to do something we would otherwise never do (this is like, A LOT of time together), but I crave personal space, my friends, and time to myself. And so I feel extra guilty.

But emotionally I’ve been here.

Oddly enough, I find myself thankful for those agonizing postpartum months. What I’ve learned from that time is that stress and guilt are real feelings. Your mind may understand that what’s causing your stress is different from what’s causing someone else’s stress, but your body reacts the same. And once your body gets rolling, it takes more than a personal scolding to stop the cycle.

Today, instead of feeling upset with myself for failing to be grateful, patient, and unflappable, I will give myself grace. I’m hella flappable right now and that’s okay. I know things could be worse, but I also know that the stress I’m feeling and processing is real.

With time, my body will catch up with my mind, and until then, I’ll go easy on myself. The stress/guilt/stress cycle is only a phase. This too, shall pass.

 

 

 

 

 

#MeToo – We Don’t Owe You An Explanation

john lennon

We don’t owe you an explanation.

No woman who has experienced harassment, assault, acts of “sexual deviance” – whatever name you want to apply to being sexually used, abused, targeted, threatened, exploited, etc. – nobody owes anyone a single word of an explanation as to why we are upset.

And boy, are we upset.

AS IF surviving the original trauma wasn’t enough.

AS IF waking up the next day, and realizing EVERY SINGLE DAY of the remainder of your life would be different wasn’t enough.

AS IF sharing your story with someone else and finding they didn’t believe you wasn’t enough.

AS IF going through the legal system and having a jury take his word over yours wasn’t enough.

AS IF seeing your assailant continue on as if nothing ever happened wasn’t enough.

Now we need to explain to you why we are upset? Why this movement is hugely important to us? Why we want to burn it to the fucking ground so that every man rethinks how he views and treats women?

As if.

It’s not our job to walk you through our traumas, day by day, letting you into the hurt, terror, depression, frustration, and isolation we felt (or still feel).

You don’t get our trust just because your care.

Regardless of how supportive you think you are of #MeToo, of women, of mothers and daughters and sisters and neighbors, if your first reaction to finding out some other dirt bag has fallen ISN’T to first trust the woman, I have no time for you.

If your first reaction is to think, “Well that doesn’t seem that bad,” I have no time for you.

If your first reaction is to think, “She probably led him on,” I have no time for you.

If your first reaction is to think, “Men don’t know if they should kiss you or not, they can’t win!” I have no time for you.

If your first reaction is to think, “Everyone knew he was a dirt bag, she shouldn’t have been alone with him,” I have no time for you.

If your first reaction is to say literally anything other than “I believe you,” I have no time for you.

If you don’t understand #MeToo, before you ask questions, before you cast doubts, before make judgments, the very first thing you need to do is listen.

Listen to the stories of those who are willing to share. Try to fully immerse yourself in the situation. Think about what it would feel like, not just physically, but mentally. Think about how it would feel in a week. In a month. In a year.

Think about if you’d be afraid, or angry, or sad, or stressed. Think about how it would affect your relationships. Your job. Your economic wellbeing. Think about if you’d feel trapped, or confused about what to do. Think about how devastating it would feel to have other people tell you it wasn’t a big deal. To move on. To let go. To forgive.

#MeToo isn’t a warlock hunt. It’s not mass hysteria.

It’s the result of millennia of abuse women have taken and buried. It’s lifetimes of trauma shoved down so deep, nobody would guess it ever happened. It’s generations of families led to believe this kind of abuse is normal. Expected. Accepted.

#MeToo isn’t complicating grey areas; it’s highlighting the importance of consent. If she isn’t consenting, it’s a hard no.

So yeah, we don’t owe you an explanation. We don’t owe you anything. But if you want to know more, you do owe us your trust. Your kindness. Your desire to make this right.

This has been a long time coming, and we are far from a resolution.

A Patriotic-ish Person’s Guide to Celebrating America

At the risk of attracting a whole lot of hate, I’m going to put something out there: It feels wrong to be celebrating America right now.

I’ve never been someone who goes full-on Betsy Ross during the month of July, but usually the sight of red, white and blue on every corner doesn’t give me a wicked case of the stress shits.

But lately, oh boy. Thinking about celebrating America just feels wrong.

If the definition of patriotism is “having or expressing devotion to and vigorous support for one’s country,” under normal circumstances, I could get behind that. I’d express all kinds of devotion to a country that supported the people who lived there, regardless of their race, color, gender, creed, and economic class. I’d vigorously support somewhere that didn’t turn a blind eye to the environment, or to people who needed medical treatment, or refuge (to say the least).

But right now? I’ve got about as much desire to show devotion and support for the current administration (notice I didn’t say country) as I do toward taking a bath in a tub of maggots.

Now this is where it gets complicated, as even though the current administration is the face of our nation, it is NOT representative of our whole country.

I like to think of it as an ugly bruise on an apple, or an ill-fitting lid on a can of tuna. You wouldn’t throw away the whole apple, just because it has a bruised spot, or an entire can of tuna just because the lid pops. That ain’t right! (J/K, throw that can o’ danger out STAT #botulism #youmightdie).

Prior to Trumpy and his Band of Misfits, America accomplished some pretty rad things, and seemed to be on track for continuing its progression into awesomeness. Things like healthcare, and equality and the environment were looked at with the same importance as making rich people richer, or at least it seemed that way to my admittedly privileged, white, middle-class self. I mean, my birth control was free! Go America, right?!

And then Trump came and shat in the soup, and now I don’t want to celebrate, or even admit I am American, though my pale skin and inability to speak another language might give that away.

But here’s the thing; America is so much more than this bullshit administration.

And even more, Trump and his bullshit administration have given me something to celebrate about this country, and it’s pretty amazing.

America was founded by a bunch of people who were like “Dude, you’re cramping my style so I’m going to GTFO and do my own thing.” And those same kinds of people still live here. They start things like Alt National Parks, and Alt NASA. They march for women, and for equality, and for LGBTQ rights, and for science. They donate to foundations that help people who need it most. They pay for school lunches when the system is so broken, kids might not get to eat. They believe Black Lives Matter, and that we need to #SayHerName.

Yes, America is filled with badasses who love and care and work and fight tirelessly to ensure the American dream still exists for anyone interested in pursuing it. They just don’t happen to be at the head of the ship.

So yeah, the thought of celebrating America might feel weird, but only if you judge America by its cover. When the flags are flying, and the hotdogs are burning, I’m going to raise a cold one to the Americans who represent a country I’m proud to call home, because of them. Though if any of ‘em wake my sleeping baby, I’ll cut a bitch.

Yes, Your Kid Is a Jerk (But So Is Mine)

This might sound crazy, but save for a time or two, I don’t think I’ve been directly judged by another mom. Or at least not vocally.

I’m sure there have been plenty of times when someone saw me doing something and thought in their heads I was a lunatic, but I honestly can’t think of a time when a fellow parent has approached me in a public setting (not online, that’s a different story) singled me out, and said something that made me question if I was a good parent.

For the most part, fellow parents are actually really supportive. Even the ones who at first glance look like they would judge me and my dirty mom hair, if the ice is broken, we typically end up having a lot in common. I’m not saying judgmental parents aren’t out there, but for me, they aren’t the source of my parenting insecurities and mom guilt.

Nope. That’d be my kids.

For however willing kids are to offer up a slobbery kiss and sticky-handed hug, they are even more ready to inform me of their deep displeasure at whatever atrocity I’ve just committed (PANTS? Who even wears pants, mom, you loser!). And fellow parents, regardless of their look, are often more than willing to open up and agree: Kids can really be jerks.

As it turns out, kids are self-centered, demanding, impatient, unreasonable, and loud little shits. They are terrible listeners, and bold boundary testers. They have no filter and generally can’t read social cues. If an adult ever acted that way, they would be labeled as a world-class asshole, and avoided at all costs. But kids are usually just called cute.

Kids don’t appreciate how much work you put into making sure they are fed, clothed, safe, and happy. They don’t realize the cost providing these things comes at. They don’t care how tired you are, or lonely you feel. On a near-daily basis, they find ways to make you question if you’re doing this right, because surely if you were, they wouldn’t be acting this way. Right?!

Yes, they love you, but it’s a very one-sided love at this stage.

Rather than finding competition and judgement from other parents, more often than not I’ve found solidarity in knowing I’m not alone in my feelings. Everyone’s kid can be a little jerk. Everyone worries they are doing it wrong. Everyone loves their kid, but also wonders if somehow they will screw this up so badly, they will raise someone who doesn’t give a waive of thanks when they are merging into traffic.
(Okay, that might just be me.)

I know mom-shaming and mom-judging is real, but I think the real culprit behind mom guilt is often our own kids who, through the process of growing up and learning how not to be little jerk, treat us pretty terribly.

To be clear, I’m not blaming them, but rather thinking instead of taking out our frustration on fellow moms who are going through the same thing, maybe we can open up, admit our kids are sometimes unbearable jerks, and help support each other while we wait for them to be old enough to vocalize their sincere thanks. Which, if I’m being honest, might take 30 years.

So cheers, fellow parents. This is hard. Kids are jerks. That doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong. It just means you’re paying attention.

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