This Is Mom’s Brain. This Is Mom’s Brain on the First Day of School.


how moms survive the first day of school via @lizzylit

 

7:57 am Drop off child number one, child number two, and finally, child number three. Walk out of the classroom, sending one last I-love-you-and-you-can-do-this smile across the room to your child. She huddles there, small behind her gigantic desk, blinking at you with brave, sad eyes, and gives you the world’s tiniest wave.

Still 7:57 Stand outside the classroom door holding your toddler, eyes stinging, pretending to check your phone, feeling weird and unfinished somehow…like maybe you didn’t fill out all the forms, or you forgot to pack something, or you didn’t give a good enough pep talk. Remind yourself that you cannot go back in the classroom, no matter what. No! You can’t! Your kid would either a) melt down, or b) never live down the humiliation, or c) both. But you can’t shake the feeling that you’ve forgotten something important. Left something behind.

Still 7:57 Make yourself walk back to your minivan. Pretend you have something in your eye. Wonder how the kids are doing.

7:59 Unlock your van and strap your toddler in the carseat. Realize what you left behind. It’s your heart, and it’s sitting quietly, doing “morning work” at three little desks in cinderblock classrooms.

8:00 Sit in your car and scroll through the pictures you took. Send the cute ones to grandparents, aunts, and uncles. Wonder how the kids are doing. Post pictures to Facebook.

8:06 Drive home. Call your mother. Regale her with a full description of the morning. Wonder together how the kids are doing.

8:12 Walk back in to a quiet house. Suddenly feel light and giddy, dizzy with freedom. Do a little happy dance. You’re free! You can do whatever you want! (Actually you can’t, since you work like six jobs and have a toddler at home, but still.) Mentally catalogue a list of 536 things you are going to accomplish today.

8:12:30 Spot the kitchen table still covered in breakfast dishes. The table looks so lonely, and the house feels so empty, that you feel your eyes start to burn all over again. Wonder how the kids are doing.

8:12:40 Decide you are not motivated to do 536 things after all. You will be lucky to accomplish one. You are too . . . feelingsy.

8:13 Have a horrible moment of panic: Did you actually give all the kids their lunch boxes in the mad dash out the door? The first grader was holding hers in her hand…did she put it down on the ground when she sat down to put on her shoes? (Secretly hope she did leave it behind, so you have an excuse to go back up to the school and check on her.)

8:14 Scour the house for lunch boxes. No lunch boxes. Congratulate yourself on doing something right. Wonder how the kids are doing.

8:21 Have another moment of panic. Did you forget the toddler at the school? Nope. She’s in the other room, enjoying the rare treat of having the entire play room to herself. You hear what may or may not be the sound of breaking Legos. Your son will be really upset if she got into his Legos. Wonder what your son is doing now.

8:23 Stare at the dishes. You should really do the breakfast dishes.

how moms survive the first day of school via @lizzylit

8:24 Turn your back on the dishes. Get on Facebook. Grow misty-eyed at all of your friends’ first-day pictures. Feel vaguely guilty that you didn’t pull off fancy calligraphy and other Pinterest-worthy adornments for your first-day pictures. You were lucky just to have everyone fed and dressed and out on the front steps early enough to take a picture. Panic for a moment, wondering if your children all had shoes on in their picture. Click back to your picture and sigh with relief. They did. They all put on their shoes…but the first grader had a big smear of toothpaste on her face.

9:17 Force yourself away from Facebook. Feel the dirty dishes staring you down. Start washing dishes.

9:28 Spend long minutes scrubbing fossilized oatmeal off the table. With every scrub, wonder how the kids are doing.

9:39 Remember you have a toddler. Put the toddler down for a nap.

9:56 Turn toward the laundry room. Shuffle in to face eighteen loads of laundry. Suddenly realize how exhausted you are, since you woke up every twenty minutes all night long, running through the to-do-before-school list. Stand there debating. Laundry or nap, laundry or nap—how are the kids doing?—laundry or nap?

9:59 Your eyes refuse to stay open. Decide, reluctantly, on a nap.

10:03 Stumble into your bedroom and snuggle into your unmade bed. Close your eyes. Think, “This is amazing! I could never do this if the kids were home. So really, I should be happy they’re at school! I wonder how they’re doing. I wonder howwww…” Drift into dreams, in which you float around the school supply aisle at Target, hunting deals.

10:14 Bolt upright, wide awake, heart pounding. Did you remind your first grader that the bus route number changed? What if she gets on the wrong bus? What if—? Think back over every word you said. Yes. You told her. But will she remember? Tell yourself you’re being ridiculous and paranoid and obsessive. Order yourself to get some rest. Make yourself close your eyes.

10:23 Your eyes fly open again. Was it a stupid move to put a note in your son’s lunch box? Is he already too old for that? You didn’t draw a heart, or use the word love, or even sign “Mom” on it, but still…was the note a mistake? Will his friends see it and make fun of him? Have you just ruined his reputation, his third-grade year, and his life?

10:26 Give up on a nap. Shuffle, bleary-eyed, back to the laundry room. Put in a load of darks.

10:31 Microwave a cup of this morning’s coffee. Wonder how the kids are doing.

10:34 Try to pay bills or return emails or catch up on overdue work stuff or do something involving actual brain cells. Give up. Your brain is useless today.

10:47–2:03

Vacuum.

Text your mother.

Change a diaper.

Worry about whether your son has survived the note in the lunchbox yet.

Pray he forgives you.

Fold laundry.

Feed the toddler.

Text your mother.

Laundry, diaper, pray, repeat.

Laundry, diaper, pray, repeat.

2:03 Make the kids a sugary snack you would never let them eat on a normal day.

2:13 Begin praying desperately that your children all get on the right bus. Wish you had gone to pick them up. Berate yourself for being a horrible, negligent mother for not picking them up in the car on the first day. Remind yourself that the line would be three hours long, and they have to get used to riding the bus eventually, so it’s better to start things off in their normal routine. Feel guilty anyway. Pray harder. Text your mom and ask her to pray, too.

2:32 Walk to the bus stop fifteen minutes early, even though you know the bus will run late today. Feel better about yourself when the neighbor shows up hyper early, too. Trade war stories of how you survived the day.

2:56 Hug three smiling children when they get off the bus. Nod and grin and try to understand three excited voices all shouting over each other at once. Have no idea what they are saying, or what actually happened today, but it sounds like happy words. Your son does not mention his life being ruined by your lunch box note, so you don’t bring it up. Breathe a prayer of thanks—day one, a success.

3:02 Feed the children sugar. Enjoy their gleeful shouts of how you’re the best mom in the universe because you gave them sugar.

3:12 While the kids bounce off the walls, tearing the semi-clean house apart, try not to cry when you see the pile of paperwork—at least three days’ worth—they’ve brought home for you, and that they insist must be turned in tomorrow OR ELSE. Wish you had not raised such hyper-responsible children.

4:36 Answer your mother’s call and tell her everything you managed to translate from the too-excited-to-finish-any-complete-sentences reports the kids gave you about their day.

5:24 Begin the mad scramble of dinner and dishes and baths and bookbag-packing and tomorrow’s-clothes-picking and getting everyone in bed at a sort of reasonable hour for a school night.

10:27 Collapse in bed, mentally calculating the cost of the school supplies you still need to buy. Debate the merits of taking on a seventh job to pay for it all.

10:34 Start to drift off. Wonder if it will always feel this way, like you’re living only half inside your body, while the rest of you is wherever your kids are. Wonder if you will spend the rest of your life wondering, worrying, and praying.

10:46 Hear your phone ding with an incoming text message. It’s from your mother: “Hi. Just wondering how you’re doing.”

first day of school jitters


If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:

13 “Back-to-School” Scriptures for Kids

When Kids Know God Better than We Do

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Before you leave, don’t forget to sign up for my monthly parenting newsletter. Recent newsletter topics have included 5 Ways to Help Siblings Become Friends and 6 Simple Ways to Teach Kids to Walk with God. As a welcome gift, you’ll receive a free download: 7 Two-Minute Devotions to Do Around the Breakfast Table with Kids!


20 Things that Do Not Go Together in the Parent-Kid Universe


things that don't go together via @lizzylit

I usually write lists of 13, but when it comes to the parent-kid universe, there are sooooo many things that don’t go together—eventually I had to make myself stop at 20.

  1. Motherhood and white pants.

  2. A wad of toilet paper and the washing machine.

  3. Carpet and Play-Doh  Kool-aid  milk  children.

  4. A five-month-old in your arms, and dangly earrings in your ears.

  5. A grumpy baby and a crowded airplane.

  6. A child with a runny nose looking for a snuggle, and your best black shirt.

  7. A trip to Target and a barely-there bank balance.

  8. Potty trainers and public bathrooms.

  9. Poop and Pull-ups.

  10. Poop and swim diapers.

  11. A potty trainer who needs to poop (but can’t or won’t tell you they need to poop), and a nice relaxing bubble bath with their sibling… Okay, I’ll stop with the poop theme now. Sorry. It’s just, some days it seems my entire life revolves around poop. @lizzylit

  12. A bowl of apples on the table, and a hungry toddler who has learned to climb.

    IMG_4525

  13. Pacifiers and babies with stuffy noses.IMG_1736

  14. Toddlers and food.@lizzylit

  15. Toddlers and sand.things that don't go together via @lizzylit

  16. Toddlers and “no.”Strategies for dealing with whiny behavior in children

  17. Toddlers and paint.toddlers and markers

  18. Toddlers and crayons.When plans go wrong

  19. Toddlers and makeup.Baby Gaga

  20. Toddlers and pens.when you give a toddler a pen

See what I mean? We could go on like this for days. The point is: Babies and toddlers and the real world . . . a messy, dangerous, but hilarious combination. No wonder we’re so tired. Let’s all go take a nap.


If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:

13 Ridiculous Things Smart Moms Understand

The 13 Thou Shalt Nots of the Family Dinner Table

27 Moments that Stop a Mother’s Heart

Before you leave, don’t forget to sign up for my monthly parenting newsletter. Recent newsletter topics have included 5 Ways to Help Siblings Become Friends and 6 Simple Ways to Teach Kids to Walk with God. As a welcome gift, you’ll receive a free download: 7 Two-Minute Devotions to Do Around the Breakfast Table with Kids!


Signs that a Man Is Not a First-Time Dad


signs of an experienced dad

1. He can wrestle a Pack and Play into submission in 5.6 seconds.

2. He doesn’t have to be asked to serve as the baby gear Sherpa when it’s time to leave a friend’s house. He automatically hunts down diaper bags, pacifiers, and all twenty-seven sippy cups, and starts schlepping them out to the minivan.

3. He will gladly hold other people’s babies and not go stiff-armed. He no longer gets that panicked someone-save-me-before-I-break-this-thing expression on his face.

4. He can make any baby laugh at any age. He is not too proud to sing in falsetto, blow raspberries, or play Peek-a-boo.

not a first-time dad

5. When moms start talking baby sleep schedules, he can chime right in and hang with the best of them. If he’s in the mood to show off, he might throw in phrases like “co-sleeping” and “self-soothing” and “Happiest Baby on the Block.” (This makes all the women raise their eyebrows and give him the you’re-in-the-professional-dad-club nod.)

6. All of his jackets have silver streaks on the shoulders, from years of baby snot. He wears them like a badge of honor.

7. He knows how to swaddle.

8. He does not grimace, scream, or run away when a toddler with a loaded diaper-bomb waddles his way. Inside, he is probably still grimacing and screaming, but after so many dirty diapers, he has mastered his Stinky Diapers Don’t Bother Me Expression.

9. However . . . he has also learned to conveniently disappear or get on a “business call” at the first whiff of a suspicious diaper, so that his wife cannot conscript his services. He has also discovered that he can get out of changing dirty diapers if he bribes his wife with twenty kid-free minutes so she can sneak out to go through the Starbucks drive-through alone. (He has not, however, learned that his wife is getting the better end of this deal. Twenty kid-free minutes in a quiet car, sipping non-microwaved coffee, in exchange for changing a stinky diaper? YES.)

10. When his wife discovers lice in a child’s head, and she begins to hyperventilate into a paper bag, he takes over. He grabs the lice comb and goes to work murdering lice. He tells himself that every disgusting moment from his boyhood has prepared him for this.

11. He can walk through a store with multiple children hanging from his legs, having a serious conversation, and never break stride or lose his train of thought.

12. He not only knows how to put on a baby carrier, but he will wear it in public with pride.

13. He can interpret a child’s tickle-screams, and identify the precise moment when a tickle fight turns dangerous. He knows exactly when to stop tickling just in time to prevent a catastrophic pee-pee disaster. (He has learned this the hard way.)

tickle fight

14. If he has to, he can sleep through anything. He can lie down on the couch, turn on golf, and drift off even while children pretend to give him shots and then take turns using his head as a trampoline.

DSC_013215. However, he has learned that if he wants to take a hardcore nap, he shouldn’t announce his intentions. His only chance is to quietly sneak away while his wife is not looking and bury himself in the bed with the bathroom fan blasting to drown out all the kid noise. His wife will probably be irritated when she finds him there later, but he has performed the cost-benefit analysis, and her momentary wrath is worth the forty-five minutes of stolen sleep.

16. He is no longer fazed when his wife’s pregnant or new-mom friends come over and burst into random fits of exhausted tears. He’s like, Welcome to our world. We feel your pain. Here’s a tissue.

17. He not only remembers to put sunscreen on children at the pool; he has a foolproof step-by-step system for sunscreen application: “Arms up, legs wide, eyes shut, turn fifteen degrees to the right, turn again . . .”

18. He knows that ice cream, Band-Aids, and Daddy hugs can heal almost anything.

DSC_028319. He knows the words to every Disney Junior and Nick Junior TV show theme song, and secretly enjoys humming them to himself. (He’ll never admit it, but his favorite is “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse”: “Hot dog, hot dog, hot diggety-dog.”)

20. He can name every Thomas the Train engine and identify most Beanie Boos.

21. He has trained the children well. When Mommy asks, “What did you do with Daddy today?”, they parrot, “What happens with Daddy, stays with Daddy.”

IMG_3888

22. He knows that when the phone rings and a little-boy voice says, “Can I speak to your daughter,” it’s time to get a new phone number.

23. He understands that when his just-had-a-baby wife sighs into the mirror and says, “All my clothes look terrible on me,” what she really means is, “I’m struggling with my post-baby body, and I need to know that you still think I’m beautiful.” He knows what to say. (Or at the very least, he knows what not to say.)

24. He knows that you never turn down an invitation to a princess tea party with your daughter, no matter how behind you are on email, because a man only gets invited to so many princess tea parties in his life.

daddy-daughter love

princesses don't last forever

 


If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also enjoy:

Gifts My Father Gave Me

On Pinkeye, Lice, and Love

Prevent Parenting Burnout, Step 4: Make Time for US


Don’t forget to subscribe to my monthly parenting newsletter! As a welcome gift, you’ll receive a free download with 7 two-minute devotions to do around the breakfast table with kids! 

 


The 13 Inventions Moms Really Need


inventions moms need

1. Clear ketchup.

2. Shots that tickle.

3. Sugar-free, vitamin-filled, cavity-fighting lollipops that coat kids’ teeth in the perfect level of fluoride.

4. Emergency toilet paper and diaper air-drop delivery. Your nine-year-old used up the last square of toilet paper just before bedtime? No problem. No need to resort to tissues or—heaven forbid—paper towels. Call the air drop hotline, and an emergency super-soft eight-pack will land in your front yard within five minutes. Your husband forgot to mention that he used the last diaper while you were out, and every diaper bag has already been cleaned out? No problem. Call the airdrop hotline. (For a small additional fee, milk, bread, children’s ibuprofen, humidifiers, and poster board for your fifth grader’s last-minute school project can also be air-dropped.)

5. A drive-thru kid-wash. Hold child out the car window—or better yet, buckle them into a small bucket seat that attaches to the side of your minivan, like a motorcycle sidecar—and then kids go for a fun ride! While Mom and Dad put the van in neutral and relax inside, rocking out to non-kid music and munching on hors d’oeuvres, the happy child gets sprayed by colorful soap bubbles, tickled and cleaned by a fun scrub brush, and gently blown dry. For an extra fee, their teeth can get brushed and flossed, too. When you pull the child back inside the van, they are ready for bed: clothed in fresh pajamas, hair combed, teeth shining. The minute you get home, you can toss a clean, happy child in the bed.

6. An instant food lukewarmifier. What’s a food lukewarmifier? It immediately heats or cools any food to that perfect but elusive lukewarm temperature that picky kids demand. No need to cook your child’s food, then put it in the freezer for a never-fast-enough cool-down, only to find that you’ve over-cooled it, and now you have to microwave it all over again for exactly nine point two seconds. All while your starving toddler shrieks and stabs your table with their baby fork.

7. Pacifiers that gradually wean the child automatically: Like, maybe the pacifier begins to release a gross-tasting flavor (probably kale) when the child reaches 18 months of age. After a few hours or days of this flavor, the toddler decides, “Hey, I don’t like my pacifier anymore. All done. Habit broken. Now Mommy doesn’t have to get a second job to fund my braces.”

8. Emergency mute buttons for children. For those humiliating parenting moments when your child points at a stranger and shouts something horrifying like, “Look, Mommy! That man has a baby in his tummy!” These buttons would come with remote controls that reach to the back of the car, across the dinner table, even across the playground or shopping mall.

9. Family-size invisibility shields (complete with sound barriers). Press a button, up goes the shield, and voilà—instant privacy. Your kid starts throwing an epic tantrum in public, and you can’t properly deal with them while all the bystanders are glaring at you and judging your parenting? Shields up! Your potty-trainer yanks down their Pull-Up and tries to use a potted plant in the mall for a toilet? Shields up! Your child goes digging for gold in their nose in the middle of a restaurant? Shields up! Your toddler walks up behind you, goes for a hug, but accidentally hikes your skirt up for the whole world to see? Shields up!

10. Cough medicine for babies that is safe and homeopathic and actually works. Because BABIES COUGH ALL THE TIME, ALL NIGHT LONG, WHENEVER THEY GET THE SLIGHTEST SNIFFLE, AND NO MATTER WHAT PEOPLE SAY, HONEY AND VICKS BABY RUB DON’T HELP AT ALL. (Okay. Rant over.)

11. Mad-Eye Moody Eyeballs for moms—you know, from Harry Potter. These magical eyeballs can roll 360 degrees, see through the back of your head, and even spy on people through walls. (Ideally, you would be able to assign a different Mad-Eye Moody Eyeball to each of your children, to help you keep track of multiple kids at once on crowded playgrounds.)

12. Go-Go-Gadget Arms. You remember, from the classic 80s cartoon “Inspector Gadget” (recently revived on Netflix). These arms can extend like 50 feet in any direction, even around corners, to rescue people and grasp unreachable things. These arms can morph into drills, screwdrivers, crock pots, dental equipment—whatever shape you might need. A pair of Go-Go-Gadget Arms would especially come in handy while driving with children in the backseat: Toddler drops pacifier on minivan floor and begins to shriek? Go-Go-Gadget Arms to the rescue! Three-year-old gags on a piece of apple and may need the Heimlich maneuver while you’re doing 65 on the Interstate? Go-Go-Gadget Arms to the rescue! Six-year-old can’t put straw in juice box and has a meltdown? Go-Go-Gadget Arms to the rescue! Brother keeps pinching sister and making her cry in the back seat? Go-Go-Gadget Arms to the rescue!

13. Emotionally intelligent holograms of Mommy that can attend any function with your children, for those times when you need to be at two field days, one swim meet, one parent-teacher conference, and a piano lesson all at the same time. A basic hologram would not do. The hologram must be empathetic: able to comfort the child who has lost the sack race; cheer enthusiastically for the child who has won third place in the 50 backstroke; nod and “hmm” at everything the teacher says; and commiserate with (while also gently disciplining) the child who forgot to practice piano this week.

Okay, your turn: What inventions do you really need to help you survive motherhood?


Before you go, don’t forget to sign up for the monthly LizzyLife newsletter! As a free gift, you’ll receive a free download of seven two-minute devotions to do with kids around the breakfast table.


If you liked this post, you’ll also enjoy:

13 Reasons Moms Never Get Haircuts

On Pinkeye, Lice, and Love

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 inventions moms need


5 Hilarious Picture Books Guaranteed to Make Your Kid Giggle


funny books for toddlers

We all know we should read bedtime stories to our children, but let’s be honest: some picture books get old quickly. (But of course our kids want to read their favorites EVERY NIGHT for 476 nights in a row!) There’s nothing boring about the five crowd-pleasing picture books in this list. All five books have been funny-bone-tested and giggle-approved by the four Thompson Crazies, who range in age from two to nine. I can’t decide who laughs the hardest when we read these books . . . the kids, or me!

Click here to read my full article, 5 Hilarious Picture Books Guaranteed to Make Your Child Laugh. (It’s posted on Mamalode, a fantastic site for moms!)

Want photographic proof? This is a shot of my six-year-old reading one of the books to our two-year-old. Priceless!

funny books for toddlers