We got a trampoline. Why did we wait so long?

On a very rainy Saturday in late April my girls waited expectantly at our front window watching for one specific vehicle to arrive.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_14766

And when that Springfree Trampoline van finally turned the corner they both whooped with joy and excitement and ran down to greet them.

For nearly a year – since we attended a blogger party at the Springfree Trampoline store last June – they have been asking to get a trampoline. Begging really. Offering to forego allowances and birthday presents. Making lists of the games they would play on it and how it would be fun and healthy exercise at the same time.

And as parents we waffled back and forth. For good reason…

Before our visit to Springfree I would never have even thought about getting one. I remembered all too well the injuries my friends and me had suffered on the old style trampolines. From gashes on our legs when we fell through the springs to bumps and bruises when we fell off the thing completely to burns from the blisteringly hot jumping surface in the sun.

But when I saw a Springfree Trampoline first hand and asked a ton of questions I realized that I had nothing to worry about. That with all the improvements the company had made to the design and engineering – none of those old-school injuries was going to happen on a Springfree. Pretty cool right?

So safety issues dealt with, our other concern was the fact that we rent so we needed to not only get our landlords approval – but also feel confident that we were going to stay put in this house with a yard for a good amount of time.

The landlord thankfully said yes and because we realized that second part is a pure fairy tale that we could never rely on…we decided to go for it it.

And all we have been thinking since the day it arrived was why didn’t we do this sooner?!?

First of all, there was the girls reaction when we told them. M burst into tears and little T couldn’t stop beaming. It was a total mom fail that I didn’t record the reveal. But I do have this awesome little snippet from delivery day:

😂😂😂

A post shared by Kelly Duran (@kelsey_bar) on

The girls have been on it nearly every day since we got it and the only reason I say “nearly” is because I said no to jumping when it was a monsoon outside. That didn’t go over well.

They spend hours on it at a time. Jumping, making up games, using their imagination. And I’ve lost track at the number of neighbourhood kids who have come to play.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_14770

When we have company over the kids always immediately head to the trampoline. Even the littlest ones have loved it.

This little guy played countless rounds of Ring Around the Rosy on it and also kindly safety tested the netting all around the trampoline by running directly at it and bouncing off. He didn’t miss an inch.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_147b8

And even when they are too tired to bounce anymore they still find a way to use it…

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_1477d

I honestly can’t recommend it enough. If you have kids you need a trampoline. And Springfree has two events coming up that will give you a chance to win one!

Springfree 2nd Birthday Bash & Win a Trampoline & a Backyard BBQ with Rosie McLennan

So obviously you should enter the contests because winning a Springfree Trampoline would be amazing. But take my word for it…if you aren’t the big winner…don’t rule one out. Go to the store and check one out yourself. You won’t regret it.

Special note: If you have kids and work from home you REALLY need one. Our is going to keep the kids occupied all summer long and I can see them from my desk. Win-win!

 

 

My Life According to Instagram – April 2017 Edition

Another month down…how can it be that we only have a two more months before summer vacation?!

April is always a crazy month – hello double birthdays! – and this one was no different. Thank god for Instagram:

8th birthdays are tough.

A post shared by Kelly Duran (@kelsey_bar) on

This birthday girl is in chocolate heaven! Toasting marshmallows at the table….what?!?!!

A post shared by Kelly Duran (@kelsey_bar) on

Never again! Because that is the worst thing EVER… 🙄#ihatemakinglunches

A post shared by Kelly Duran (@kelsey_bar) on

Good morning Whistler!

A post shared by Kelly Duran (@kelsey_bar) on

Why yes…yes it finally is. #friday #wineoclock #mamafinallyhaswine

A post shared by Kelly Duran (@kelsey_bar) on

3 Ways to Get Your Kids to Help Clean…and not moan about it

Every night (well most nights) I do what I call a “power blitz” clean up in my house. I motor through the house picking up items and putting them where the belong.

I shut closet doors, push dining room chairs in, put shoes back in shoe baskets, hang up jackets…that kind of thing. It’s so damn satisfying to see how much better (cleaner) everything appears after just 10 minutes.

Often I ask the children to help with the tidy up process. They groan (and moan and complain) and I ignore it.  Rushing by them with a ‘whoosh’ I give them simple requests such as:

“Just tidy up the bathroom and put stuff back where it belongs.” {like putting the toothbrush back in the basket instead of leaving it on the counter…}

“Make sure all your dirty clothes are in your hamper and not stuffed under a couch.” {true story. the sock is purple. I refuse to pick it up…}

“Empty your backpacks completely so I can get all the Tupperware back that currently lives in the bottom of them.” {thank god for Menchies spoons or my kids would be eating pudding with their fingers.}

Simple stuff. But the moans and groans always come…

Now I  get that they are kids. I get that they don’t wanna clean up. I get that they will cut corners to be able to go back to playing whatever they were doing before I so rudely interrupted.

But seriously…how hard is it to hang up your damn jacket when the hook is LITERALLY right above the place you chose to drop it? Apparently pretty hard.

So here’s what I’ve started to do to get them to do their part and feel good about it:

Be an Example

If I don’t make my bed everyday why do they have to make theirs? If I leave my shoes sitting out why would they put theirs away? If I leave my dirty dishes on the counter.. You know where I’m going with this. Be the change you want to see in your home.

Set realistic goals

Remember that kids have varying capabilities based on their age. My girls are 3 years apart and yet I often find myself expecting the same of my youngest as I do her older sister. Setting realistic goals for each individual child will help everyone feel accomplished.

washing-dishes-1112077_1280

Follow Through

This is one I really need to work on. Like most parents I’m really good with saying “if you don’t do this then you wont get that…” and then not following through. Often it’s because taking away a luxury like TV time will make my life harder and so it’s easy to give in. And my kids were on to me. Now I’m taking a harder line and following through on punishments and – surprise, surprise – things are getting done.

By sticking to these three rule I’m finding it much easier to get my kids to help around the house with a smile on their face.  I hope they work for you too!

Good luck!

 

Letting them learn the hard way…

Last night I asked my youngest daughter for the 400th time if she had done EVERYTHING on her bedtime checklist (knowing full well she hadn’t) and as she confidently nodded and climbed into bed…I felt myself start to lose it.

She saw it too and quickly scrambled out of bed to consult the checklist that hangs conveniently on the bathroom mirror – where it has hung for almost a year now – and figure out what she had missed.

“Sorry mummy…” she called from the bathroom. “I forgot to pick out my clothes for tomorrow.”

And then she proceeded to happily pick out an outfit, lay it on the end of her bed and climb back in. Smiling at me sweetly as she settled her head onto her pillow – her pink blankie clutched in her hand – not a care in the world.

“That’s one mark off for you.” I said and immediately her face changed into a mask of rage.

“That’s not fair!” she yelled.

A “mark” means a dollar off her monthly allowance. Losing just one seriously impacts her ability to add to a growing pile of annoying little Shopkins.

“Of course it’s fair,” I responded in a voice that was much more calm and composed than I felt. “If you don’t do your jobs you don’t earn your allowance.”

The argument that followed was not epic by any standards but she was certainly passionate about her defense. Which was that it was obviously all my fault for not reminding her enough to do her jobs.

And that brings us to the real issue. How many chances should kids get?  How many gentle reminders?  How many helping hands?  How long until we let it go and simply let them learn the hard way.

Because I know deep down that letting them learn things the hard way is important. That letting them fail and face the subsequent consequences is a valuable lesson…

“oh you forgot your gym shoes (after I reminded you 8 times to pack them!) well I guess you have to sit on the bench and watch your friends play without you.”

“You didn’t hand in that field trip permission form in time (that I signed 2 weeks ago and put in your planner for you!) I guess you can’t go then.”

“You didn’t eat your yogurt tube (again!) and now I have to throw it away (again!) so no dessert for you tonight.”

This last one – not eating the healthier parts of the lunch – has been a battle I have waged with both my girls for years. I hate the waste so much that I immediately go code red. They beg me to let them eat it now instead. They argue that I packed them too many things in their lunch so it’s my fault.

Then they cry and look at me with such betrayal and resentment that I feel myself start to cave. Because it just feels wrong – like against my nature – to not swoop in and rescue my girls from themselves. Even knowing it’s the right thing to do doesn’t make it any easier.

Because as important as the lesson is and as much as I know they must learn this for themselves – I hate how real the tears are. And how deeply they feel the anger and frustration – even though they have brought it on themselves.

I know every battle scar will be worth it in the end. But that doesn’t make each one hurt any less…

IMG_5886

Please accept this mess…

I have always been a bit of a neat freak. Not a clean freak – I don’t own multiple pairs of bedazzled rubber gloves or anything like that – but I’ve always insisted that things be put back in their rightful place and for there to be a general sense of order.

Okay – truth be told – there may have been a few Saturdays when I was 12 or 13 where I spent the day sorting through my clothes and putting aside bags of items to be donated to charity. But it’s not like it was every weekend…

Anyways…back to my point…

When my husband and I moved in together my need for order seemed to rub off on him. Well…maybe not so much rub off…but he realized that for there to be peace in the house it would be in his best interest to follow my lead on this one.

And then – fellow parents say it with me – I had kids and that all changed. Over night my house exploded. We owned twice the amount of stuff and there was no where to put it all. Suddenly rooms in my once neatly organized house looked like this:

messy room

can you spot the toddler trying to escape unnoticed to the top bunk?

I can’t lie…it nearly broke me. But I was determined to fight back.

Multiple storage solutions were purchased. Plastic bins were clearly labeled. god how I love my label maker… And the chaos was somewhat controlled.  We were back to a place where everything had a proper place to live and we worked hard to make sure our house stayed that way.

But to be honest all the effort required to keep things tidy & organized was exhausting.

Now to be clear…the cleaning of the house is a whole other topic. I am seriously advocating on the side of a clean toilet and the subtle aroma of Vim in the air at all times – but trying to keep the place looking like a show home was another thing all together.

So little by little I started to relent. Toys and books started to stack up in the living room. Soccer uniforms were laid over the banister ready for the next day’s game. Art projects were left half done on the dining room table. Stuffed animals and blankets took up residence on kitchen chairs and in our bed. And as the contents of the kids rooms slowly started to take over the house I realized something momentous.

I didn’t mind. It no longer made me crazy. It no longer mattered. Because the mess was a very accurate reflection of our life. Life was hectic and busy and yes…just a little bit messy.

And so I have embraced the mess. I wear it like a mummy badge of honour now. Well I would wear the badge if I could find it in this damn mess.

So to anyone coming to visit our home in the near future….just push that pile of laundry off the side before you sit down. Or better yet, fold it for me while I make you a cup of tea. Because in this house…that’s just how we roll now.

Wordless Wednesday: New Art

We have a new piece of artwork hanging in our kitchen and I am totally in love with it.

It’s a one of a kind mixed media piece called “Monster Truck” and it’s by a new and relatively unknown 6 – almost 7 – year old artist. I see big things for this girl.

And lots of new art for my walls…

Happy hump day!

 

Are we really the worst parents ever?

I’ve been reading a lot of articles lately about today’s generation of parents and how we indulge our children too much, give them too many choices and too much control.

Many of these articles have awesome click bait headlines like “Are We the Worst Generation of Parents Ever?” and the like. And despite the sensationalist nature of the headlines, many of them also make a whole lot of sense and speak a crap load of truth.

I found myself nodding in agreement with many of the statements. And also feeling guilty of the failures I was clearly making as a parent. Like trying to hard to make sure my kids like me…

I’ve had the “can parents be friends with their kids?” conversation with many of my friends. And the conversations usually end with us all in agreement that we can’t really be both friend and parent…but also that many of us are still trying really hard to make the impossible happen. What is lost in that quest is our level of authority as a parent. Our very important role as the rule setter, the boss, the one in charge…has been lost.

Russell Peters touched on this phenomenon in his latest Netflix stand up special “Notorious”. Granted he was referring to “white parents” in the show but I’ve seen it cross over all ethnicities.

The joke was – and I’m totally paraphrasing here – about a mother asking her 5 year old son what he wants for dinner. She didn’t give him any restrictions or parameters – “when you know what you want you tell me sweetie. I love you. kiss kiss kiss.” Basically handing the kid all the control.

Peters jokes that the kid could have asked for a shoe for dinner and she would have said okay – that’s how accommodating white parents are. While in his childhood experience he ate what dad wanted for dinner – every night, no exceptions, eat it or else. So which approach is the right one? Or are they both just a little bit extreme.

At our house there is only ever one dinner prepared and everyone eats it. No kids meals and adult meals – its all for one and one for all. Sounds like I’ve set good parameters right? Good ground rules?

Doesn’t mean I don’t still negotiate with my kids through the meal. Doesn’t mean I haven’t said – many a time – “just eat 5 more bites.” or “okay, one more carrot and you’re done.

And that certainly doesn’t mean that my kids never get dessert unless they have finished every last lick of food on their plate. Often they win the dinner battles and I know I have exposed weakness. I know they have worn me down at the end of a busy work day. That they saw their opportunity and pounced.

Pick your battles right? But does picking our battles and letting our kids win sometimes really earned us the title of the “worst generation of parents EVER?”

My girls play soccer and they have one other creative class – acting for one and art for the other. 3 nights a week each for lessons. Am I over programming them? Or encouraging them to try new things – both athletic and creative?

I was happy when my oldest daughter said she wanted to get more serious about soccer and join a select team next year meaning more practices and more effort on all our parts. Am I putting too much pressure on her to succeed? Or supporting her desire to excel in her chosen activity.

I’m not ready to let my almost 10 year old walk the 4 minutes on super quiet side streets from school to our house on her own even though at her age I walked 15 minutes down a major street to get home.  Does that mean I’m too overprotective? Or just cautious?

My kids have chores that they are supposed to do regularly. They don’t get allowance for doing them…and they don’t always do them regularly. Am I being too easy on them by not making them do them every day?

I honestly don’t know sometimes. Because there are days where I would give anything to not have any damn classes at all. And then other times where I watch my kids perform at acting or on the soccer field and I swell with pride at what they are able to do. So determined and successful at such a young age.

I pretty much had no programming in my childhood. I think I must have taken a few swimming lessons and I also remember going to Brownies but that’s about it. And I don’t think I turned out that bad.

Often I look at my girls and am struck by how well rounded they actually are. How when they play they still use their imagination – hell…they still have an imagination. And they are able to write stories and create art and play games and laugh. And then I see them at soccer practice working on new skills and trying them out. Focused and determined.

Parenting is a crap shoot. We do our best, we make our choices and we choose our battles. And all with the goal of raising our kids right and preparing them for the world.

The thing that puts a kink in that plan is the world we are preparing them for is not the same one we experienced when we left high school. And in knowing that we as parents find ourselves forced to change the game plan on the fly. To adjust our strategy and our trajectory.

And we do so with the hope that we manage to stay just enough on target for both their sakes and ours.

Are we the worst generation of parents ever? Maybe. But I suspect that many of the follies that have earned us the label of “worst” have come from a place of love for our children, concern about doing what’s right by them and also – a shit load of articles that make us think we’re doing this parenting thing all wrong.

Ultimately the only judge that matters is your own kid.

Ask them if you suck at being their parent. But be prepared for the answer. Because if there is one thing you can count on your kids for…it’s brutal honesty.