How to Get Your Kids to Talk to You

kids jake mj and pascal so called mom

My last post was about fighting, so it only seems right to follow up with talking—to the kids!

Since we have seven kids with vastly different ages, I always have to temper my conversations to some kind of age appropriateness. This is difficult because their ages are always changing.  I recently read about what I’m supposed to be doing on the pamphlets that my pediatrician sends me away with. One of the big no no’s from our family doctor is that apparently I should’ve been helping them communicate better and make friends. I mean, it’s not like we don’t have any kids in the house for them to get to know! There are 4 teenagers, two tweens and Leopold. Surely there’s someone to befriend. I say we get a pass on that rule. Still though, every age group is different and, as they get older, it gets harder to talk.

kids so called momWhen I talk to my teenagers, I feel like I’m playing ping pong—with a baseball bat.

I’m so “not doing it right.” I’m so “embarrassing.” I’m so not even sure anything I’ve said makes it into their ears because of the damn headphones. Those things have become so discreet, but also so huge. I suppose it depends on the day—whether they feel like wearing the headphones that are as big as a billboard or the ones that double as Q-Tips. Plus, these days, they are basically fused to the kids heads, no matter how big or small they are. I think I’d like it more if it was music and not videos. Or videos about video games. Or videos of people we don’t know playing video games.

And I’m the one who’s not fascinating?

Let’s take dinner last week. One of my four daughters, Milla, was able to make it through an entire meal with them on, without me knowing it. Her phone was on her lap and when she laughed, I thought it was because of something I said. Sneaky.

I think I’m worth the conversation. I think they are too. But having quality conversations—the stuff that KEEPS you in their life, can be tricky.

Since we homeschool many of the kids, I obviously can’t ask what they did at school. Instead I spend our daytime together being a tyrant over their education. So this gets annoying. To all of us. My daughter Earth has learned not to approach me directly after I’ve had my coffee. I’m all over her with schedules, to-do lists, extra credit and electives. She was only wondering if we had more milk.

The tweens are a little more easygoing AND still think Im fabulous. It’s easier to talk, because I still have their attention. I can still take them out and just about buy their love. I know that’s probably not in those doctor pamphlets but hey, when your kids get older, you try anything for together time.

kids so called momLeopold, the baby (OK…. he’s 5, but he’s MY baby), is still a dream to talk to. I am his everything. We talk about explosions and boogers. Dinosaurs and my pretty hair. He is the only kid who is following my footsteps in ballet, for real this time. Everyone else has dropped out.

I am into together time. Even if it means holding some kids captive, against their will.

This is done best at the dinner table. Seven years ago, I became convinced I was losing touch with my children….and I was. So I began a nightly family ritual at the dinner table “What I Liked About Today and What I Didn’t Like About Today,” designed to get the kids talking—to Pippin and me and to each other. (Even though the teens have retitled it What Sucked and What’s Awesome) You get the idea.

“What I liked about today is that I learned how to ride switch to fakie on my new board. What I didn’t like about today was that I fell and hurt my shoulder.”

“What I liked about today was that we all got to say goodbye to the turtle. What I didn’t like was that we had to put him to sleep because the dog ate him.”

“Whats awesome about today is that I’m finally going to a normal school. What sucks is that I’ve been stuck in the basement in front of a computer so long, that I don’t know how to talk to other kids anymore.”

“What I liked about today is this dinner. What I didn’t like is that the dog just farted. You guys smell that?”

kids so called mom

By the time we cycle halfway through these, we are either laughing, annoyed or both.

There is a lot of talking over one another. I have spent almost a decade getting everyone to listen while others are talking. It doesn’t work. It is chaotic and overwhelming. But the point is, they are talking.  Even if, by the end of it all, we can’t hear each other speak and it doesn’t look like how I want it to, I can still feel like I’m a part of it all.  And with any luck, those headphones are somewhere else for an hour.

Good Talk,

So Called Mom

Next Post: To Homeschool…Or Not.

What to Wear When You’re Feeling Worn

What to Wear When You’re Feeling Worn So Called Mom

I believe in the power of dressing up.

I often get comments like, “why are you always so gussied up?” and “what’s the occasion?” and my answer is always the same: “If I don’t look good, I don’t feel good. And if I don’t feel good, nothing good happens.” It’s because I need to knock my own socks off before I do the same to anyone else. Worn.

Let’s just say if I’m going to make an impact on life, it’s going to be a head on collision and not a ding. And if there’s going to be trauma either way, I want to at least be able to say I’ve lived. I want to be memorable. And you just can’t do that without a grand costume.

What to Wear When You’re Feeling Worn So Called MomIt’s like this: How many times have you dressed up and felt great? For me, it’s every damn time. Which is why I always dress up. It doesn’t get old with me. Why would it? Feeling great never gets old. I used to wear sweatpants and jeans. A LOT. And Uggs. Those modern day slippers that scream, “Guess who doesn’t give a f***?!”

While I understand their purpose and have owned a few pairs myself (and I secretly ADORE them), UGG’s, Tom’s and other lazy shoes do absolutely nothing for us. Maybe they give us REALLY flat feet, and some comfort, but that’s it. Heels give you bunions. Courage. Calf muscles. Grace. Beauty. CONFIDENCE. Bunions I can live with. Worn.

Just say no to the average stuff.

What to Wear When You’re Feeling Worn So Called Mom

Jeans with T’s, sweatpants, or anything cheap and trendy (yes those words are interchangeable) don’t make the kind of statement you’re looking for. That stuff is not style. Style is intentional. Style is curated like art. Style is individual. You develop it, like yourself, over time. Style feels GOOD.

What works are investment pieces:

Manolo’s. Louboutin’s. Gucci. Chanel. Oh MY!

Tutu’s. Mini skirts. Classy silk blouses…did I mention tutu’s?

What to Wear When You’re Feeling Worn So Called Mom

All of it, all of it to be worn to the store, to pick up kids, to take out the trash.

Let’s get this straight because I don’t want to confuse you. And I don’t ever want you to feel like I’m not being real with you. I’m not rich. As a matter of fact, I would even go so far as to say I’m poor. But you wouldn’t know it by looking at me and that is because style is not about having money. It’s about having creativity, a pinch of integrity and a dash of class. It is the recipe for living a good life. If you’re urban, you can shop at some of the greatest consignment shops in town and also frequent thrift. If you’re not, there are plenty of online options: Etsy, EBay and the like. Worn.

What to Wear When You’re Feeling Worn So Called MomThis is how I keep myself from looking like everyone else—being one of a kind. Memorable. A diamond in the rough. A realdiamond, too. And I also want to add that this type of shopping means more. It’s the art of the find. The score. Remember, we are curating, not consuming—so take your time. Make it a ritual. You will not find your true self hidden among the racks of H&M or Forever 21 because that is all about building an empire of lemmings. We are more creative than that.

A note on shoes: I don’t buy them often. In fact, I rarely buy them. But only because I have the same pairs of high end shoes that I have been caring for, for YEARS. My Manolo’s are almost three years old. My Louboutin’s are seven. I simply get them re-soled for $20 each year and they are brand new.

Dressing up like it’s normal is how I take care of myself.

Dressing up is what makes me a woman. This is what I consistently do so I can feel like I am not only on top of my game, but that I am the game. I make the rules, and others play by them–But only when I feel good by looking good. If I can dress, every single day, like I am going to a party, then life will literally be that party. When you dress awesome, you feel awesome. And everyone around you will love you for it. People will talk to you more. You ARE the conversation piece. You are the thing that makes everything LESS awkward. You’re the relief, the icebreaker, the prevention of “let’s play charades!” Who doesn’t Love THAT? Hell, even the gas station attendant dude said to me, weeks ago, “Oh hey, is that Missoni?” He was referring to my sweater, which is huge and gorgeous and accented by magenta fox fur. I told him, “No. I believe it is handmade. There are no tags anywhere and I got it at an estate sale for $65, five years ago.” And now he pumps my gas before anyone else. We talk about clothes each time. Great guy!

Take something simple. The T-Shirt for example. By tucking it in to the bottom half of a ball gown, you have turned your life into a soiree. And THEN go to the grocery store. See? This just helps me live better. I once went to a kids soccer game like this. No regrets from me.

The magic is in the small things too.

What to Wear When You’re Feeling Worn So Called Mom

Another way I keep this girlie-girl on the up and up is by treating myself. Usually this happens on Sundays. I put on a mud mask, hop into the tub and HIDE. My husband does his best to keep the kids out of the only bathroom in the house and to be honest, it doesn’t work for very long. I usually have a small guest jump in, uninvited (the same kid that TAKES up precious space in our bed at night). It’s inevitable— but you’ve got to try.

So let’s move this ship forward by agreeing that we can only reclaim the woman screaming to get out from inside your diaper bag purse by taking a collective vow:

What to Wear When You’re Feeling Worn So Called Mom

“I hereby solemnly swear to toss teething rings that double as necklaces, to wear push up bras that don’t come unhinged to pop a boob out (unless it’s for your husband) and to always, always, choose heels over flip flops.” Worn.

Generate a capsule wardrobe. Buy only the finest underwear (see why here). Elevate yourself with some dead sexy heels. Get caught in the rain—let yourself get soaked, just like they do in the movies. Put mascara on (remember to do both eyes) AND lipstick and then take a walk. Feel better already? I do too!

What to Wear When You’re Feeling Worn So Called Mom

We are foxy ladies. We are hot goddesses. We are mad-sexy mavens. We are the ultimate MILF in sheeps clothing. Hear us roar!

One last thing.

This isn’t about looking good for anyone else but you. We aren’t pin up dolls. We aren’t sex kittens (even though we all know how well we can make ourselves purr). We are made whole by this genius of getting dressed up. We’re not made whole by what other men (even our own) think of us, but what WE think of ourselves. Worn.

Under the surface of this outfit lies skin and beyond that are a whole lotta feelings. Feelings that include the days where I didn’t feel great and I sure didn’t look great. Back then, I had to retrain my thinking around something that only appeared to be surface level: clothing. I started to realize something: If what I wore on the outside could transform how I truly felt on the inside, then I would be cured. So I tried it. Again and again. And even on some days when I’m not so sure, I put on that tutu and I just shine. My love for myself reaches new heights like this–and I may never come down.

What to Wear When You’re Feeling Worn So Called Mom

Self care is up to you. How you feel is up to you. Don’t put it on anyone else to make you feel a certain way. Start here, and let it get out of control! And let it get contagious—get your girlfriends on board. Let’s all look and FEEL gorgeous together. Are you ready? I’ll be looking for you on the town. Worn.

With Love,

So Called Mom

Next post: The Benefits of a Good Fight!