Feb 12, 2011

Shut Up Jo Frost- A real mommy moment

This is Jo Frost-also known as "Supernanny."  I love her.  I have watched tons of episodes of "Supernanny" and credit her with a bunch of parenting tips and tricks that I know work.  When I first had a baby, Jo probably came to my mind more than anyone else as a resource of what I should do.  If you have never watched the show basically it is about families that have children out of control in one way or the other (and parents out of control usually too).  They write in asking for her help.  She goes and stays with them and helps parents figure out discipline and children figure out rules etc.  She spends a day observing without stepping in and then multiple days helping.  I am sure she has helped tons of families.  Things will happen in my house and I can hear Jo saying, "put a stop to that mom" or "don't give in mom."  It can be very helpful and it can also be debilitating.  Most of the time I know what I should do, but whether or not I am doing it is another story. 
Before I had kids I had "it all figured out."  I knew exactly how I was going to raise my children.  That was before I ever had a husband or my sweet darlings came along.  Give birth-and everything changes.  Let me share a few examples:
-Before kids, at church "I can't believe how noisy (fill in the blank)s kids are being.  Why don't they teach them anything about being reverent?"
-After kids, at church "Good grief-doesn't seem to matter what I try-I can't get my kids to be quiet or sit still.  Where are those snacks?"
-Before kids "My kids are not going to watch TV ever.  I will fill their days with games, outings, crafts and rough and tumble play."
-After kids "Would you all just please help me find the remote so I can turn on Dora and have a minute of peace and quiet."
-Before kids "We will be eating healthy foods at every meal.  No sugary treats or junk food and certainly no snacks before meals."
-After kids "Okay, okay, just stop crying.  I will give you just 3 more Cheetos and then it will be time for supper."

The thing is that there is no one else here to tell me what I should do in certain situations or to help when I am feeling totally exhausted or overwhelmed.  It is me-I am the mom and I am doing the best that I can.  I would love to say that I do it right all the time but that is not true.  So lately I have started to do what works, what is not harmful or impairing to my children and what keeps the peace and I have also had to start telling Jo Frost (who is in my head) to "shut up."  My kids are freaking out, we have already played, they have eaten, they are dressed, the blocks and dolls are all over the house and I need a break so I pop on a video and say, "shut up Jo I don't want to hear about having the TV babysit my children for 20 minutes."  It is lunch time and we are having hot dogs and Cheetos for the second day in a row because everyone likes that and it is easy and so I put the plates down and I can see in my head Jo looking over her glasses at the camera saying, "she is serving junky Cheetos to her kids again," and I say "shut up Jo-we happen to love Cheetos in this house and look they are served along side cucumbers and tomatoes."  Small fry has thrown 3 too many tantrums this morning while I tried to get her dressed to go outside so I bundle up the baby and tell small fry she can watch through the window and we go out.  I can hear small fry screaming that she wants to come but I have had it and need a break and so out I go and I say, "Shut up Jo-I have already done time outs this morning-I need to cool off and so does she."  I dump a couple of handfuls of candy in the bottom of my diaper bag to use as bribes at the basketball game while dad is coaching and I am wrangling the children and I say, "Shut up Jo-if it comes to bribes so be it."  I wish I would have started telling myself this long ago.  It would have saved me the time I was at Walmart, pumpkin was a newborn and I had to get a prescription filled.  Walmart is notorious for slow lines at the pharmacy and Small Fry was throwing a fit.  I felt my blood pressure rising and rising and nothing was working to keep her calm.  I had a sucker in my diaper bag but didn't pull it out because I could hear the voice in my head saying, "That's like giving her a reward for screaming" and I was too worried about what everyone around me would think so I left the sucker in there and instead nearly knocked the eye glasses display over as I tried to get my giant cart out of that store and to the parking lot where I gave my toddler a smack on the bum and strapped her in her seat then drove home sobbing because I felt like a complete failure.  The sucker would have eliminated all of that had I just done what was my best at the time and not worried about what anyone else said.
Lesson to anyone who may have a voice in their head:  it is okay to tell it to shut up.  You are the mom, you are doing your best, you don't have to compare yourself to anyone else.  Mother, grandmother, mother in law, sister in law (that's for your Jenny), friend or neighbor-if their voice makes you feel inferior then stop listening to that voice when you are just doing the best you can.  Thank heavens little kids are so loving and forgiving as their parents try and figure this whole job out.
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  1. I fully agree. At first when I saw the title, I must admit, I was a little nervous, but you're right, and we do the same things. My friend likes to give herself "Mommy's Time Out". She goes in her room with some chocolate, the kids are with daddy and she gets some time to herself. I love that. (Oh, and Jo doesn't have kids)

  2. I have to agree to a point. My girls are between 12 and 6, there are 4 of them and I have to say that those times when it was really hard and I didn't give in to make it easy it didn't happen very many more times before it stopped all together. I have this saying that the hardest thing for the parent is the best thing for the kids. There have been times when they didn't get to go somewhere or do something they really wanted to do and it ripped my heart out to follow through with the punishment but I tell ya, I mention the situation and they pop right back into palce. Parenting is SO hard so I understand but if you want to make life easier in the long run, go that hard route as often as you can!

  3. I absolutely love this post!!! Thanks for the reminder. It is funny how your prospective changes from having no kids to kids. Even from having one kid to four it changes a lot. Now I know why I always thought my youngest sibling was spoiled. even so, he has turned out great.
    Thanks for the smile this morning.

  4. Hear hear! This post puts into words what I've been feeling for the past year.

  5. Just to clarify-the post wasn't me saying that I decided it is just easier to give into my kids than to do the right things as a parent. The post was saying that I have to be the one to decide what is right for me in the moment and not let some little voice in my head drive me crazy. I don't just let the kids run the house. It's just that I make the decisions and don't let the little voice make me feel inferior or like a failure as a mother.

  6. love you, i'm so glad you share your life in this way. it helps me to know i'm normal and others feel the same way

  7. thanks for writing this! i think i need to tell the little jo on my shoulder to shut up a little more often too!
    Leigh at The Sewing Diva

  8. Thank you so much for posting this! I have been there--what parent has not been there before? It is so different once you have the kids and really, only those who have kids and have gone through it understand that. :)

  9. Smile.... GOOD FOR YOU! Isn't it amazing how our perspectives change? Sounds like you are doing just fine!! Hang in there and remember to pick your "battles" and feel good about what works for you and your family. Keep it up.

  10. You are doing a great job as a mom! None of us are perfect!

    I am quite a few years down the road in my parenting as my four children range from 20 down to 11. I couldn't agree with you more! It just gets more and more trying as they age and no one, not even Jo, has all the answers.

    I bet Jo doesn't have kids and doesn't know what it is like to just need 5 minutes of peace and quite or to be able to go to the bathroom without little cars zoomed under the door!

    She doesn't know the embarassment of having a child pitch a temper tantrum in Wal-mart at the end of a very stressful day and when you still have to go home and do 25 more things before bed time. She just doesn't know!

    However, I do know and when I see these moms in the store I smile at them and tell them I know what it is like. I can't help them with their stress but if I can at least ease their embarrassment just a bit than I feel like it is a start.


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