I recently celebrated my 16th wedding anniversary to Daddy-o. When I say “celebrated,” I actually just mean that we both “remembered.” It has been a busy sixteen years and I’d be lying if I said we’ve actually remembered all of our anniversaries. Usually we are reminded of this special occasion when his mother calls to offer congratulations.
People have asked how we’ve survived 16 years and six kids. I could say all the usual healthy relationship tips: don’t go to bed angry, appreciate each other, say “I love you”, make time for each other, communicate honestly and often, blah, blah, blah. All this marriage advice is useful and we probably do them for the most part.
What I really think has been useful is some of the advice that was given to me.
Before we were married, Daddy-o’s mother sat us down and said this: “Just so you know, there are not going to be hard days, hard weeks and hard months – there are going to be hard YEARS. If you can just work through them it will all be worth it.”
I also remember what my brother says: “If the grass is looking greener on the other side, try taking better care of your lawn.”
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t actually think people should be miserable with their spouse for years, and certainly some people take very good care of their lawns and still can’t avoid those poisonous weeds. Ending a marriage can sometimes be the very best thing for a family. Only those in the marriage are qualified to make that call and decide how to fix a relationship. But, I think these messages have been good reminders to me that relationships were never meant to be easy all the time and that part of my responsibility is to work on it.
One thing I do know is that the guy who posted his dissatisfaction with his married sex life online last week should have kept this dissatisfaction to himself. I doubt it helped his marriage and I’m certain it won’t lead to him getting more action in the bedroom. So if nothing else, my relationship advice is DON’T DO WHAT THIS IDIOT DID.
You’re welcome. You can thank me for saving your marriages henceforth.
What keeps your marriage/relationship going strong? Did you get any good dating advice that has helped your partnership?
Julie Cole – Founder Mabels Labels
Words are powerful. My dad was an English teacher and word junkie so we were always taught to use our words carefully. The lesson has stuck with me and I have found that in raising my kids, I’m careful about not using vocabulary words that I don’t like. There are certain words not in my personal dictionary, that I’m pretty sure they’ve never heard me use. The short list includes:
I just don’t like this term and never have. It feels exclusive and it inevitably leads to annoying sentences like “I’m not your BEST FRIEND anymore” and “Sorry, but Jenny is already my BEST FRIEND”. I find the newer terms like “BFF” and “Bestie” far less annoying because they seem to be used more generally and don’t seem so serious. The term “best friend” feels like it should have a ring and commitment ceremony attached to it.
Just because a girl is sporty and adventurous does not make her like a boy. It makes her sporty and adventurous. These kinds of gender stereotypes have no place in my home (or society).
“Fat” and “skinny”
As a general rule, I don’t speak about appearances in front of my kids. I specifically try to stay away from comments regarding body shape when describing how someone looks, and particularly these two very loaded words.
My kids have never heard me say this word and certainly not in the context of me going on one. My hope is that my daughters will never feel like they need to diet. I like to think that I will face most parental challenges with a certain level of comfort and confidence. I know the exception is eating disorders. I have three girls and if any of them were sticking their fingers down their throat, you would find me in a corner rocking in the fetal position. The thought of facing eating disorders horrifies me and my heart goes out to families raising girls and dealing with it.
“Waitress” and “Mailman”
My kids never hear me use gender when describing a job or career. Yep, this PC mama says, “Server” and “Mail Carrier”, to name just two.
“I hate you”
My kids have never heard me use this term nor has anyone else. I don’t think I’ve ever used this phrase. Words cannot be taken back, even when you are sorry you said them.
Do you have parenting tips on any words that you keep out of your personal dictionary? What words are on the “no say” list in your house? Do you hear any words that make you cringe or that you try not to use in front of your children?
Julie Cole – Founder Mabels Labels
I have a busy house full of my kids, their friends, neighbourhood kids, and an assorted number of random drop-ins. I’d rather not sound like the meanest mommy on the block, so I have a few key phrases that allow me to say “NO WAY” to my kids, without using those exact words. Here are a few of my favourites:
“Asked and Answered”
You know that annoying habit kids have of asking you the same thing over and over again in hopes of wearing you down so they get their own way? Rather than saying, “NO” a hundred times, I simply answer the question once. If the nagging child continues asking, I respond with, “asked and answered.” It shows them that I’m unwavering and saves me from saying, “NO” repeatedly.
Kid: “Mom, can Addie sleep over?”
Me: “No, not tonight.”
Kid: “Mom, PLEASE can Addie sleep over?”
Me: “Asked and answered.”
“One per Customer”
One of the downsides of giving a kid a treat is that they don’t just appreciate that one treat, they always beg for more. When I have a houseful of kids and I have them all screaming for more of this or another of that, I feel like going all “Soup Nazi” on them and screaming, “NO WAY, you greedy brats!” Instead, I use positive discipline to smile and say, “Sorry, it’s one per customer.” In other words, take whatever is being served up and move right along.
“Try Again With Your Cool Voice”
You know that whiney voice kids use whenever they possibly can? Rather than disciplining children by telling them what NOT to do (i.e. “Stop your whining, it’s driving me CRAZY!”) I try to be proactive and tell them what TO DO (i.e. “Can you try asking again with your cool voice?) That way I’m not whining, about their whining.
“No Opinion Shopping”
Opinion shopping is when kids go to one parent for permission to do something and when they don’t like the answer they get, they go to the other parent hoping for a different outcome. When my kids or their friends try this, rather than screaming, “No, you manipulative little freaks!” I smile and remind them that there is no opinion shopping allowed.
All these phrases tell my kids they’re not getting their way, and allow me to appear calm, cool and collected while delivering the message. Do you have any parenting tips or “go to” key phrases in your family?
My family and I just had our annual week at the cottage. Now that my kids are getting older, cottage life has gotten easier. No longer do I wish for a baby gate around the lake and gone are the days of me following toddlers around the entire week.
But we certainly don’t have this safety thing all wrapped up just because they’re older. Older kids are more independent and mine like to go off exploring and visiting little friends around the lake. This year I felt like I had to keep an eye on my headcount. The thought of one of them getting lost in the woods makes me shudder.
So, I set up a few simple rules & tools that helped keep my stress levels down and my kiddos all accounted for:
- If going exploring, don’t go alone. Always bring a sibling and if you happen to get lost, you STAY TOGETHER.
- I reminded them of the “Hug a Tree” program. When a child is lost in the woods, they tend to wander, bringing them further away from home. I advised my kids that the moment they feel lost, they find a comfortable tree and stay with it. Chances are, they are not far from the cottage and it’s easier to find a non-moving target!
- My kids don’t have cell phones, but even if they did, we are so far in the bush that there’s no reception. We use walkie talkies, which are both fun and a great way to stay connected if there is a problem.
- When you hear the bell, you head home. We have a big dinner bell that echoes through the lake. When I feel like I have not seen a child for a while, I ring the bell and they wander back. I count six little heads and send them back off to their adventures.
- If a kid is going off exploring, have them wear a whistle around their neck. It’s a great way to locate them if they go off track, and whistles are good for scaring off the bears as well.
In the end, we survived the week and I managed to bring home the same six kids I left with.
Are you a family that camps or cottages? What measures do you put in place to ensure their safety in the bush?
About the Author:
Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six. Back to school is around the corner – have you got your school labels yet? The Ultimate Back-to-School Combo is here!