Friday, January 17, 2014

Small tips for small people

Jon and I get a LOT of compliments on our very zen kids.  While Avery occasionally has a three-year old moment, he and Cassidy travel well, do great in restaurants, and are generally pretty cool to be around.  But, we do a little behind the scenes work to get it going, so here's a few tips for those who haven't tried everything yet!

----Don't be afraid to be those parents.  And by those parents, I mean the parents who bring their kids electronics to play with at dinner.  Would it be great if your 2 1/2 year old sat there, ate his dinner, and attentively listened to your attempt at adult conversation.  Yes.  It is likely?  No.  Jon and I are big into increments.  We usually start off at a restaurant playing with spoons and straws, then once that gets old, Avery gets the free crayons, jelly packets to stack, or a toy from home.  Hopefully by then the food is almost there, which keeps him quiet, but if not, we bring out the phone with the Disney movie on it, and he's good to go.  While TV at the table might make some parents roll their eyes, screaming babies make MORE people do worse things with their facial expressions.
----Be prepared at parties.  We just LOVE being that couple who brings 2 kids to every adult BBQ, party, or get-together.  But, with some preparation, we ensure that we have a good time and our kids do as well.  First, we limit the alcohol.  The driver doesn't drink, and the passenger just drinks a bit, as to not leave us stranded or sloppy with babies.  Second, we take turns.  A lot.  Baby handoff gets Cassidy moving around a lot and keeps her occupied while freeing up a parent to go check on Avery.  Avery's getting old enough to play around without clinging to us, so third, make sure you bring him some toys!  We recently went to a cookout at the home of a rather important and prestigious family in the DC area and brought a bag of trucks and balls for Avery to play with.  He enjoyed exploring a new yard, and those young at heart could get out and play with him.  Also, we brought a high-chair to free up our arms from the baby and plenty of toys for her to play with on her tray.
----Don't take your kids anywhere you aren't willing to walk out of.  As much as we wish our tricks would work all the time, sometimes they don't.  Sometimes you forget the diaper bag, sit down at a restaurant, and order, only to hear the phrase "I'm poopin'!" from your kid.  Sometimes a baby just doesn't want consoling.  At that time, you have to cut your losses and yell "check!" as loud as you can.  We went to see a Broadway show in New York a few years ago (pre-kids) and opted to see Shrek, where people brought all kinds of little babies who were afraid, but parents weren't willing to walk out of their $120 seats.  Which brings me to....
----Really really consider if this is something your kids are going to like and if it will be worth it.  Does a toddler really notice the difference between Shrek on TV and Shrek on stage?  Probably not.  Jon and I seriously consider dragging the kids to the fireworks in DC for 4th of July, but at the last minute didn't go, knowing that neither Avery nor Cassidy would remember it, we weren't 100% sure they would even like it (if they didn't really hate it), and we knew it would end up way past their bedtime.  Cancel, watch it on TV, no one's the wiser.

Now we definitely haven't mastered the art of parenting, but it's a few things that have worked for us, so good luck to you, and hopefully we'll learn more in the coming years and can share again!

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