Monday, September 21, 2009

How do I get my kids to go to bed and stay there?

Dear Mom:

How do I get my kids to go to bed and stay there?


Lost in the Quagmire

Dear Lost:

You didn't tell me if your children are up to the same old tricks; the glass of water, numerous trips to the bathroom, never being satisfied with one story, but I have a feeling these tricks are being played to their fullest, otherwise your children would be in bed-asleep.

You may even be dealing with the dreaded television monster. "But the movie doesn't end until later" sort of excuse. My oldest daughter has resorted to using "the monster" to get her children to stay in bed. Yes, the television is in her children's room. She plays "Finding Nemo" or "Cinderella" or something else equally entertaining to her children, and usually by nine they are out. She says she was tired of their old tricks and decided that movies were the only way they were able to relax and go to sleep.

Other mothers and fathers have resorted to horseback rides to the bedroom, even personal songs they have made up themselves to coax their children to sleep, while others use a tape or CD version of their children's favorite songs played only at bedtime. And then there are the joke parents, who tell their children funnies before retiring or the story parents who tell their children a story about their personal past-something kids love and always like, say the experts. Then there are the bath parents, who use warm water, perhaps with bubbles, to sooth the muscles of their children before they put them in bed and the special goodnight kiss and hug ritual begins.
Though some parents have resorted to lying down with their children before they go to sleep, 33 percent said one Parent Center survey, others, 23 percent; say they merely get upset with their children and have no idea what to do. Four percent "revoke privileges" while another 7 percent, "put up a gate or lock" on their child's door. Only 5 percent out of the 23,298 surveyed admit they "give up and let [their child] stay up late," while 19 percent have the courage to take their child back to bed "as many times as it takes," leaving 5 percent who extend "other" techniques when their "child refuses to go to bed" (

What does this say to you?

What I see is less than 20 percent of parents following through with a bedtime ritual.
The greatest thing we can do for our children is to develop a fun routine with them, say the experts; a routine parents and children have set up together. Every night bedtime is the same. The time is the same, the routine is the same; whether the routine includes a horsy ride to bed and a bedtime song or the infamous story read-perhaps in a squeaky voice for effect.

Whatever you decide to do, don't cave in to any excuses your child gives you, including tears when the time has come. Take your children back to bed and keep taking them back to bed every time they get up. Don't give up. In time, your children will see you not only mean business, but will look forward to what used to be the most dreaded of all times!

Happy bedtime!


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Why is lint blue?

Dear Mom:

Do you take less than serious questions? Well, I have one. Why is lint blue? No matter what color I am wearing I get blue lint, even when I'm wearing red.


Blue Lint Hanging On Me

Dear Blue,

Your question made me laugh and then I had a thought. Thoughts come to me every now and again. It was almost like I was hearing the question, "Why is the sky blue?" all over again. I decided to look it up.

What I found was a course on belly button lint.

Seems there was a man by the name of Dr. Kruszelnicki who was awarded the Ig Nobel Prize for his research in 2002 regarding belly button lint. For those of you who don't know, as I didn't, what the Ig Nobel Prize is, let me tell you.

Each year in the fall ten winners are announced for their parody in areas of science that at "first make people laugh, and then make them think" (

Such was the case with belly button lint and Dr. Kruszelnicki.

Kruszelnicki discovered some fascinating things about belly button lint, such as the "existence of navel lint [being] entirely harmless, and requir[ing] no corrective action," but perhaps more importantly, that the "navel lint's characteristic blue tint is due to the existence of blue fibres in clothing."

Another source revealed that the color of lint in your navel had to do with the color you were wearing, suggesting that if you wear blue clothes you will have blue lint.

Not a likely concept however, if you are getting blue lint from a red sweater, for example.

Still, this same source suggests that "if you wear lots of different [colors] then the lint collected is a kind of blue grey rather like the stuff you find in your clothes dryer" (

I couldn't help it. I started to ponder my dryer lint. Most of the time, yes, it was a sort of blue gray but occasionally, very occasionally it was pink. So what was up with that?

This brought me to Graham Barker who is the record holder in the Guinness Book of Records since 1984 for the collection of the most belly button lint.

Barker never collects blue in his button, but "a particular shade of red," though he rarely wears the color.

What's up with that?

No one seems to know. I even checked one site where the person's belly button lint was discovered in almost all the colors of the rainbow!

But I'm taking you a bit off track. You asked about blue lint, and not the lint in belly buttons, I am guessing, but the lint found on your favorite red sweater, for example.

I say the answer is the same. Whether the lint goes in your button or on your sweater's sleeve, the color will more than likely be blue for the "blue fibre" reason stated above.

If it's not, you might want to check with Graham Barker.


Friday, September 11, 2009

My parents hate my boyfriend.

Dear Mom,

My parents hate my boyfriend. Whenever he comes over my mom gives him the third degree; you know, how's the job, the grades, your life? My dad does the same thing, only he's a lot quieter and likes to glare at him. I feel as if they don't think he's good enough for me or something. What should I do?



Dear Bothered,

You might be right about your boyfriend not being good enough for you in the eyes of your parents. This fact rings especially true if you are the oldest child. And it doesn't help that you're a girl.

Parents tend to be more overprotective with their oldest child. And for some reason, being a girl only makes the matter worse. It took me having a second and third girl to mellow a bit and realize that my strict behavior with my first often shut the door to potential conversations both with her and those whom she dated.

That said, your parents want to know about your boyfriend so they will feel more secure about you dating him. If something creeps up in a conversation-he says something like, "I hate my job, it sucks," your parents may be inclined to ask even more questions on this subject because they are wondering how motivated your boyfriend is. If you become real serious, the last thing they want for their daughter is for her to be hooked up with some "loser" who can't hold a job.

This is not to say, however, that your boyfriend's job always needs to be exciting and that he always have to "like it," but your parents, whether you are their first-born or their third, are going to be concerned about someone who "appears" to lack motivation.

Another problem may arise with parents who see a huge age gap between you and your boyfriend. If this is the case with you, be assured that this would give your parents cause to worry. Say you are 20, just beginning college, and your boyfriend is 27. Seven years is a big gap, not only in levels of maturity but interests and attitude. And let's say your boyfriend is considering dropping out of college because "book work" just isn't for him.

Does this make him a loser?

Of course not. But it might be something you'll want to take a look at.

It may be that your parents don't like your boyfriend because he reminds them of someone else, maybe someone they dated whom they consider a mistake. They see similarities between the choice you are currently making, and the choice they made. They don't want you to go through what they had to go through. They are trying to protect you.

Take a look at their concerns. Talk to them. Express your feelings and don't leave your boyfriend out of the loop. He needs to be involved in understanding where your parents are coming from. They also need to understand his feelings.

You can be the catalyst for change. Invite your boyfriend to dinner. Invite him to join in some of your family activities. Talk to your parents about your concerns regarding their treatment of your boyfriend. Perhaps they like him after all-surprise! They are merely interested in learning more about him. But whatever the case, be respectful of your parents' views and in-turn, their hearts may soften.

If not, you will know you have done all you can. Though it's nice to have the support, it feels nice when your parents are positive about your choices in life, in the end, the decision of who you choose to spend your time with is yours.


Sunday, September 6, 2009

How do I teach my children that I need time to study?

Dear Mom,

I am a full-time college student. I am also a single parent. How do I teach my children that I need time to study; that along with being their mom, I also need time to do my homework?


Stuck between the lines

Dear Stuck:

Try not to pull your hair out. Balancing school and anything else-especially children-is no easy task. On the one hand, you want to make life better for your family, thus the interest in going to school. On the other, in order to have a good family life, time must be spent with your children. We all know this. And yet, how is this balance achieved?

I have a sneaking suspicion that having time for homework when children are around is something like talking on the telephone. Your children don't necessarily need your attention until you're on it. When they see you occupied with something, or someone besides them, they suddenly want your attention.

Why is that?

They need you, plain and simple. They need to feel your love, and they need to feel secure in their environment. This often means your undivided attention.

I have great respect for a friend of mine who waits to do her homework until her children are in bed. Only then is it "quiet enough" she says, to do it. Besides, she wants to spend time with her children as well. This is a good idea, but not the only solution.

Another friend takes her homework wherever she goes. She uses every spare minute to do her homework. Others I know take the bus. There is much you can accomplish on the bus, that is, unless you get "bus sick" like I do.
Spend at least ten minutes with your child doing something they love before pulling out your homework. Experts agree, by focusing on your child first, he or she will feel better about themselves and allow you to take some time to do what you need to do.

Keep a schedule. That is, have a time for homework, a time for dinner, a time to read stories before going to bed. Let your children in on the plan and stick to it. Children crave order and you will find that the more organized you are, the easier it will be to complete your homework.

Talk to your children about the importance of getting your homework completed. Ask for their help. Children are pretty smart. If you tell them, "I will need to work on homework until 7:30; after that, if you've been good, we'll go out for an ice cream cone," they will want to be good to receive the promised reward.

Have some toys in your home that are brought out and played with only when you are doing homework. Your children are less likely to be "bored."

Praise your child when they have been especially good while you have been working on your homework instead of focusing on their bad behavior during a similar time.

Praise equals better behavior.

Lastly, have your children give you ideas about what they would like to do while you are doing your homework. Get your children involved. Children like to be a part of anything new and exciting.

Happy homework!