7 New Old Wives Tales I Swear By

Or,

Things I’m Pretty Sure I’ve Learned As A Mom

There are the old worn bits of wisdom, passed down through the ages that we all know and love. You know, masturbation will cause hairy palms, going outside with wet hair will cause one to catch a cold, your face will stick like that…. We’ve all heard them. And most of us still take heed, even though we know there’s no scientific proof to back them up.

But if you think about it, there is. Old wives tales are years of advice from ancient moms. Of course it’s bad luck to open an umbrella in the house. It flips open and you’re sure to break something, bringing down the wrath of mom, and that is always bad luck. You can’t catch a virus from having cold wet hair, but you can get hypothermia, frostbite, and headaches if it’s cold and wet enough. Mom never had time to explain all that as you escaped every morning. Easier to scream, “Ye’ll catchyer death o’ cold, ye wee heathen!!” dr mom

So, all in all, believe them or not, most old wives’ tales are not just silly old stories passed down from generation to generation. In fact, I firmly believe that we are still discovering these little gems of advantage, but are so trained to reject them because of our 21st Century enlightenment that we could well be missing the obvious amongst our modern infinite wisdom. I would like to share a few of my own lessons learned from a collective 65 years of motherhood. Not that I am in any position to be giving any kind of health advice to anyone – these are conclusions based on my own limited experience. And for the record, my doctor thinks I’m a quack.But let me know what you think.

You Can Smell When Your Child Is Sick

This is huge. Mother’s Intuition is a Super Power. You have it – use it!!! If you think your child is up to no good, ask them if they’re not sure they’d like to confess something. You’ll be in for a surprise. Just like you can sniff out infection. You know what your child smells like. And he smells like no other. Hold someone else’s newborn and you know immediately that it’s not quite the same as holding your own. Diapers are a nasty business at times. But you know what your little man’s smell like. If it smells off – sweeter, bitter, anything – pay attention. There could be a fever right around the corner.

Hugging Is Good For The Heart – For Real

snoopyHave you ever noticed how calming it is to just sit and hug someone? To curl up on the couch with a loved one? To hold a frightened or sick child close? Listen closely next time. Hearts beat with their own electric pulse. When two hearts are close to each other, the electric fields connect, and the hearts fall into beat with each other, synchronized and rhythmic, determined and stronger. We all have and need built-in recharging stations!

Red Wine Cures Headaches

At least if it’s cold. Red wine, usually served at room temperature, can leave those susceptible with nasty hangovers. But cold red wine, with its more potent kick, loosens the muscles and quickens the blood flow, creating a relaxing effect that eases most aches. Sure most alcohol will have the same effect to one extent or another, but a chilled merlot seriously kicks a headache in the ass.

You Can Cure Your Wart With Your Mind

When I was a kid, I had a wart on the middle knuckle of my right index finger. This was an issue because it seriously hampered my ability to throw a frisbee. My dad sat me down one day and told me to wish it away. Three times a day for seven days, wish the wart would go away. And it did. It was the only wart I ever had. So as a mom, I passed along this technique along to my kids. And save for the odd seriously grotesque plantar wart on a growing foot sole, this has worked every time. Perhaps simply because they trust and believe. Worth a try if there’s no emergency.

You Can Be Addicted To Sugar

Among the many listed symptoms of addiction listed, for example, in this article, fudgeI would point out that pretty much all of us are addicted to one extent or another. Not to make light of anyone’s addiction problems – and I’m serious in calling sugar my vice – there are a few signs I’d like to highlight to make my point. “The person takes the substance and cannot stop.” When was the last time you ate ONE jelly bean? “Denial.” Mmm hmm. “Obsession.” I know you hoard recipes on your Pinterest boards. And what about “Keeping stashes?” There’s the family cookie jar; and then there’s Mom’s Secret Stash. You don’t have to say anything. We know.

Water Cures Pretty Much Everything

My kids think this is hilarious. Virtually every ailment they present to me, is met with, ‘drink more water and see how it is in three days.’ Headache, joint pain, skin rash, stomach troubles, menstrual cramps, dry eyes, you name it. Unless they’re injured and/or bleeding, this is my go-to. And if they’re still complaining about it a day later, I’ll take it a little more seriously. This is the plan about 90% of the time.

Hiccups Mean You’re Growing

hiccup cureWhat? you ask. Yes. Think about it. Children get hiccups all the time. Adults, not so much. I’m not talking about the ones resulting from chugging an ice cold beer. I mean the ones that have you trying all sorts of ineffective remedies because the spasms are either painfully wracking the child or annoyingly interrupting your movie. They go on for up to ten minutes or more. And they leave the poor kid feeling exhausted. Pay attention. You’ll notice over the next few days that something doesn’t fit. Especially with babies – it’s more noticeable because they’re smaller.

And what about you, the adult hicupper? Check the scale. I’ll bet a day’s gardening that you’ve gained or lost a few, maybe 5-10, pounds. Tell me I’m wrong.

I personally consider all of these ideas to be truth, based on my personal experience. You are perfectly welcome to call me nuts. But I’ll bet you’ve got a few of your own. Share them in the comments. Don’t let me walk this quack path alone!

It’s Valentine’s Day – Prove Your Love

Wondering what to buy your sweetheart for Valentine’s Day? What can you do that proves your love? Something that proves you care, something valentine heartthat says, ‘You are the most important person in my life. I couldn’t live without you. But just in case…’

No it’s not funny. Seriously, if you have anyone in your life that fits the bill – spouse, kids, friend, sister, father, (insert any other title here) – you need to read this.

Having recently, suddenly, and unexpectedly lost my happy, healthy, active husband, I am begging you, and anyone who will listen, to make sure your family will be okay without you.

Here’s a list of five things I know now that I’m beyond grateful we did then:

We had wills. After our first son was born, we went to a lawyer. We had matching wills drawn up, standard, generic documents, leaving ‘everything we owned’ to each other. Naming an executor and beneficiaries if we died together. And – truthfully, this should be law – naming a guardian for our son. The wills were worded so that they would include any future children, property, assets, and debts. That son was 18 when his dad died. The will stands. And it has been the single most important document of my life. Two half-hour visits, twenty years ago, $300. Without a shred of doubt, the best purchase we have ever made. Start bequeathing!

We bought lfamily handsife insurance. We took the mortgage insurance, the loan insurance, and enough term insurance to make sure that we would each be able to continue our lives with our kids as we always have. We never missed a payment – no matter what. With everything that happened that dreadful day, the slow-motion memories that constantly play through my mind, the only brightness I recall, was the looks of sheer relief on the faces of my mom, my sister, and my kids, when I was able to tell them, ‘Yes, dad is gone, but we’re going to be okay. We get to keep the house. We don’t have to move. You stay at the same schools, with the same jobs, and the same friends. We get to miss him without having to worry about what will happen to us.’ It’s something you couldn’t possibly understand until it’s too late. Make that call.

We talked to each other. About a lot of things – final wishes, organ donation, re-marrying. Most of the conversations were quite tongue-in-cheek; we made some entertaining threats, depending on the mood. intimate talkingThe only thing we both agreed on, every time we joked, talked, considered, was that we would do whatever we thought best for the ourselves and the kids. This was crucial when I was faced with some of the hardest, fastest decisions I’ve ever had to make – many with the unexpected and adamant disapproval of other family members – without the one person I had always counted on most to help me get through the tough times. Start talking.

We were organized. At least our finances were, anyway. That’s not to say they were in great shape – we have five kids! That’s to say that all of our bank statements, bills, taxes, mortgage updates, insurance policies, wills, marriage certificate (!!!), passports, ID, health cards, and employee numbers were handy and available at all times. Same with passwords for voicemail, bank accounts, debit and credit cards, employee portals, email. Even the passcodes for his phone and computer. Write it down, lock it up, keep it handy.

We left nothing unsaid. The last morning of his life, Paul left the house grumbling at everyone – the younger kids were all off school that day, and he, the teacher, wasn’t – we teased him, laughed because he’d cut himself shaving, the son who attended the same school wasn’t ready yet, still in bed, ignored the repeated calls of ‘time to go.’ My final ‘have a good day’ was mocking with sarcasm. Two hours later, he was dead. There were so many people who expressed such regrets at not having called him back, or made time for coffee, or answered that email, or, or, or… I told them all the same thing I told my kids. When dad left for school that morning, no one was dying. We can’t live every day as if it’s our last – only people who are dying do that. Living is enjoying life without the cloud of death hanging over you. We knew he loved us. He knew we loved him. Period. That’s how we lived – every day. Everything else is just a part of a regular day in the life of a typical happy family. Stop worrying.feet

Nobody wants to talk about this stuff. No one wants to admit they’re mortal. No one wants to envision their own demise. But ignoring the fact that you will die one day will not prevent that destiny. And the only people who will pay for your sticking your head in the sand and hoping for the best are your kids. Your loved ones. They will pay and pay and pay – at a time when the last thing they need are more worries and problems. Prepare now. Put your affairs in order. Six hours. Two weeks. Tweek the budget just a bit. It’s the best investment you will ever make.

Then you can enjoy your Valentine’s Day with chocolates and champagne knowing that if the worst does happen, you’ve given your loved ones everything they need to carry on without you.

How To Get The Kids To Help Around The House

Mom medalIt’s finally happening!! The reward that every mother longs for, yearns for, over years – nay, decades – of perseverance, dedication, and wine!

“Mom, if I have to teach one more person how to do his laundry, I’ll throw him in the dryer. Thanks for not sending me away to school as a total idiot.”

AHHHH! Giant mom tears roll slowly down my cheek. There is an unfamiliar clenching in my throat. Where is my medal?!?!?

My kids, all five of them, have always done chores. And over the years, I’ve had many moms ask me ‘how’ I manage this. “How do you keep your house so clean with five kids?” “OMG, you only have the one bathroom? Where’s all the stuff?”

Really, friends. You know me. So you know it’s not me doing all the cleaning. It’s my kids. And I’m beginning to understand that there are more than a few of you who would like to know how I still manage to get five teenagers – okay, one just turned 20, but it’s close enough – to help around the house without so much as a heavy sigh. Here’s my best advice….

Start early. Seriously, I’m talking 6 months old. Babies first toy should be some blocks and a shoe box. “Okay, sweetie, yes! Block in box! YAY!!” Child with broomNobody goes anywhere, bed, play, dinner, until all toys are thrown back into the toy box. Yes, let’s learn how to throw a dinky car across the room and hit the bucket – after all, serious basketball skills could end up being your retirement plan. Make a game of it. Put on some music. When he’s ready to walk, don’t let him hang on to the table; give him a broom! Much more developmentally challenging. Tall enough to see over the top of the washer is tall enough to do her own laundry. If she can get herself a drink of water – even with a step stool – she’s old enough to learn how to wash dishes. Seriously, don’t underestimate your kids!

Be persistent. This is key. I know it’s hard to keep repeating the same thing over and over, day after day, year after year, kid after kid. On the plus side, I now hear the older ones spouting off things like, “We never leave an empty roll of toilet paper for the next person!” to younger siblings. This pays off in the end. Trust me. Don’t give in. Don’t give up. Not for a day. Not for a moment. The smallest crack in your armour can be turned into a pothole in a flash by one smart-ass kid. Then watch how fast he can take the others with him. Much easier to stick with the plan than to get it back on track.

Respect and explain. I’m not talking about, “Johnny, do the dishes please. Johnny, please do the dishes. Johnny, the dishes need to be done. Johnny did you hear Mommy? Johnny? Hey! Did Johnny just slam front door?!!” Oooh, there is nothing that grates my nerves more than parents pleading and bargaining with their kids. By respect, I mean simply telling your kids what needs to be done and standing over them until they do it. We don’t make up things for them to do. We don’t make it harder for them. We explain. The bathroom needs to be cleaned regularly, or it will stink and grow mold and we will get sick. Leave it clean for the next person. This is how and why we do each and every one of these chores. I am a firm believer that people are far more compliant to an unsavoury situation when they understand why. Kids are no different. “I know you don’t like it. Neither do I. But that doesn’t change the fact that it needs to be done.”

My successful chore chart - click on it for a downloadable PDF version!

My successful chore chart – click on it for a downloadable PDF version!

Find a plan that works. But be prepared to change it. Regularly. A plan that works when your kids are 5 and 7 won’t hold a lick when they’re 14 and 16. Job jars, reward plans, calendars, time sheets, bonus points – whatever works for your family.

Use it. If it doesn’t work, get rid of it and try something else. There’s no shortage of great ideas online. My best success came from the fridge magnet chore chart. Each kid has a colour-coded magnet – the two youngest shared one – and the magnets rotate around the schedule every Monday. The first few weeks were iffy. The kids who didn’t have to clean the bathroom left it in shambles for the one who did. By the time the last kid got bathroom duty, even the toilet was spotless all week as they all learned how much work/pride goes into a clean bathroom. I, myself, have not cleaned a loo in over 20 years…

And last, but most importantly,

mom with wineSit down. Yes, this is the Golden Rule of child-rearing. Mom, grab a coffee, a magazine, a glass of wine, a romance novel, and sit your tired ass down. I learned a long time ago that my pitying my kids does not help them. My doing everything for them does not increase their competence on any level at all. I am the coach, the foreman, the director. I am there, present, available. But I don’t actually do the work. No child can clean his bedroom by himself – even up to 16/17 years old. They all let their rooms fall into ‘disaster area’ status, then they have no idea where to start. (You certainly cannot send an 8-year-old to his room to clean it and expect any sign of success.) Instead, from about age 4, pull up a chair and instruct. Put on some music, prepare some snacks – only time the kids are allowed to eat in their bedrooms, supervised, planned, and they can’t get away! – and direct the begat in the process of the cleaning. Collect the dirty laundry – perhaps you hold on the hamper while you point and she picks up. Next comes garbage. You hold the bag, he gets better at throwing. Sort through stuff – maybe even make a special trip to the dollar store for some hangers or bins to make the process a little more special. At the end of the day, you’ve spent some serious quality time with said child, had some fun, made some memories, taught a lesson, relaxed a bit, and ended up with goal accomplished – one clean bedroom. Accept that this will happen again and again X #of children. But these days, my kids will ask for this help, not so much for the help, but for the company. A very worthwhile investment.

Sure, sometimes it’s just easier to move the kid out of the way and get ‘er done. But in the long run, that’s not the easier thing to do. Remember the big picture. The end goal. Everybody, ready, responsible, and out of my house!! In the end, it’s all about the empty nest…

So moms, share your wisdom; what’s the best idea you’ve found to get your kids to pitch in?