Like you need more parenting advice, right?
You probably don't. You're going to read this article and think one of two things: WOW! Spot on, brilliant! <or> WTAF? She's nutters!
To be honest, there is a shred of dark truth in the fact that I'm a bit nutters. I have two kids who are scarcely more than a year and a half apart, a puppy, an old man cat, a rapidly growing business. But in truth, I really don't give 2 drunk cats if you agree with or adopt a single piece of "advice" henceforth. Changing minds simply is not the goal of this article.
Indeed, the goal of this article is to achieve some semblance of solidarity, possibly an affirmation that some other bedraggled mother exists who is also making similar parenting choices. Perhaps, at the end of this article, you may believe yourself a little less alone long dark rabbit hole of parenting little versions of yourself.
Now get yourself a meow-tini and read on.
Raising kids is hard. Like, really hard. Harder than graduate school. Harder than labor (maybe? It's certainly longer...).
Parenting is exhausting, wonderful, maddening, and always changing. We strive for our children to blossom into wise critical thinkers who solve big problems and make the world a beautiful place, while simultaneously reprimanding them for painting the walls with peanut butter and dried macaroni.
One evening, after a particularly exhausting day of many time-outs, power struggles, muddy feet, potty accidents, melt downs, and delicious snuggles, I was relaxing in post-bedtime silence. Whilst reading a bit of genealogical research my aunt and cousin had performed on our Puritans heritage, I had a revelation that shook me to my core. Looking at the sheer number of children that were birthed and did not make it past their fifth birthday shook me to my core. I felt a haunting lurch in my stomach, and quickly thought of how my own children have already avoided the clutches of an early grave because of modern medicine.
I suddenly realized that while I want my children to blossom, learn, grow, and make solid choices, as well as amaze me with their didgeridoo skills and ability to recite all of the presidents in chronological order in fewer than 30 seconds, I really just want them to be healthy.
I want them to live past infancy and childhood.
I want them to survive childhood illness, and step into adulthood with bodies that are strong, healthy, and well-equipped to take them where their hearts desire.
So how do you do it?
No clue. Here are my best guesses.
Caution: Some mad science may be involved.
(If you just read science in your head with a spitty glottal lisp, you're now my new best friend.)
1. Let them get dirty- mud puddles are fun and not just for pigs. Kid's immune systems are developing and need to be worked. If not, the immune system will begin attacking healthy things, like pollen and peanuts. Give your child's immune system the workout it deserves and needs- get little Johnny and Tabitha outside and encourage a healthy veneer of dust, dirt, and God knows what other glorious goodness.
2. Bacteria is your new BFF. Every encounter builds a better immune system, ditch the hand sanitizer... for the most part. (Use your common sense here. If you're in New York City and touched a hand railing, use the sanitizer before digging into that pizza slice.)
"WAIT a second crazy lady- Aren't germs BAD? Am I working for the Germ Lobby?"
The truth is that hand sanitizes and antibacterial soaps kill 99.9% of germs, meaning bacteria and viruses alike. Great, right? WRONG. See, there is this thing called GOOD bacteria, which is so plentiful in our bodies that it outnumbers human cells. Cool, huh? We NEED bacteria to function on the most basic level, let alone thrive. Killing good bacteria, along with the bad, is terrible for us, especially when done a regular basis.
Additionally, take note of the percentage of efficacy- it's not 100%, meaning there are 0.1% of bacteria or viruses remaining. What kind of germ can survive a hand sanitizer assault? RAMBO GERMS. Each time we attack Rambo germs, they just become smarter and mutate to help resist the attack. This is how we get resistant strains of bacteria. As someone who was almost taken out by a resistant strain of staph in 2015, I can tell you this is really, really bad juju.
I was lucky. I didn't lose my leg.
3. Practice and teach personal hygiene. I teach my kids to sing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" while washing our hands hot water and some soap-- and NOT
Click to Download my FREE hand washing printable to display proudly in your lavatory (also works as a passive aggressive note for your partner who needs a helpful reminder).
4. There is no 5-second rule. Your food touches the floor for a millisecond, it has just as much bacteria. Still, let them eat the Cheerio off the floor, (within reason- see number 5). Now your floors are clean. You're welcome.
Disclaimer: use caution around homes with dogs. A resource battle may ensue over a soggy fruit loop. Proceed with caution.
5. Exercise sound judgement. Don't let you kid do things that are just gross. There's a line here, and you have to teach your children how to be civilized people and live in society. Subway gum- gross. Eating hot dogs off a park bench- socially awkward. Raw chicken? NO! The cookie fell on the recently cleaned kitchen floor? Go for it (you'll have to beat me to it though).
You're an adult- you still get to make these important decisions. Use your brain and exercise common sense.
6. Let them play outside, no matter the weather. Fresh air = healthy kids. There's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing choices. Kids come in dirty and tired, which means early bedtime, quicker bedtime, and more meow-tini for you. (Again- common sense- hurricanes, tornados, blizzard.... stay inside.)
7. Feed them pretty good food most of the time. Try to buy organic- but if you don't, just wash produce well. Limit processed foods, most of the time. But I get it- sometimes you just need to give them a freaking goldfish. Mac n' cheese and hot dogs are unavoidable. It's cool- I do it too. And fro yo. Can't live without that shit. Fro-yo is my spirit dessert. In fact, I'm eating some while typing up this post.
8. Let kids be kids and have an actual childhood- not a mini-adulthood. Stop helicopter parenthood. Relax and let them jump off the furniture. Turn a blind eye and let them learn how to climb a tree, and get a scraped knee, some bumps, some bruises. Minor injuries teach kids boundaries and healthy limits. Don't be afraid to let your children experience life, and be there after they fall. Enough iodine and hydrogen peroxide on an open cut will help them learn faster too. #thanksnana
9. Only allow tattoos and body piercings from reputable shops. Duh.
And the best way to grow a healthy child who survives infancy, childhood and becomes an adult?
10. If your kids are healthy enough, get your kids vaccinated. Measles are preventable, and it's our responsibility to protect those who have weakened immune systems (think about babies with cancer).
Thanks for reading! Comment with your own tip on how you're getting your kiddo to survive to adulthood, and check out the shop, theeverydaygreen.com!