6 Easy Rules to Create and Keep Your Babysitting Barter System

Let’s talk about the fundamental rules of the babysitting barter system amongst parents.

1. You should never initiate a barter system with someone you just met.  This appears like you’re out right using the parent when most likely, they’re really seeking a companion for their child. This may also discourage the parent from further interaction with your child in an attempt to avoid you.

2. Don’t be too pushy.  Initiating a barter system can benefit both parties.  The key is not to appear overly aggressive.  Some parents don’t need to be a part of a barter system, others may not feel comfortable.  No matter the reason, the last thing you want to do is turn into a mob boss and begin issuing threats.

3. Remember it’s not about you, it’s about the children.  Yes, you want to go out and have fun or relax, or take an uniteruppted guilt-free nap; but at what cost? If your child isn’t actually friends with the other one, or they are uncomfortable being with the other parent you may want to reevaluate that partnership. Where there’s smoke there’s fire.

4. Be honest with yourself. Ask yourself, “Am I a good babysitter?” If you can’t keep yourself from yelling, swearing and snatching up your own children every minute on the minute, what makes you think that you’ll be able to handle additional ones?

5. Only use the barter system as much as the other person is using it. If you and another parent have agreed to a barter system, then it should be equally beneficial. Think about a Libra balancing their scale. The moment it tips more to one side it’s over and the system will collapse along with your child’s companionship and your “in a pinch” baby sitter.

6. Remember it’s business even when it appears to be personal. I don’t care if you’ve known each other since second grade! Believe me when I tell you watching children can take it’s toll. Always remain courteous and professional when engaged in a babysitting barter system. This is the only way to ensure that the exchange will continue.

If you follow these six easy rules watch your babysitting barter system flourish. Not only that, but more parents will likely want to barter with you. Any parent knows how crucial babysitting options and emergency plans are. Don’t blow it!

Party Like A Rockstar Pt. 1

You reach a point, more specifically an age in life when partying seems for the younger ones.  I mean let’s be real for a moment, who wants to be hung over trying to fix oatmeal and toast for breakfast for their children?  “Not I” said the complacent mom.  However, when you’re stuck in the middle, not quite ready to hang up your dancing shoes- where, and more importantly, how do you still party like a rock star and be coherent enough to get the kids to school on time?  Not for nothing, but momma’s gotta have a life too (not the cougar life either…gross)!

I’ll get back to you all on this one.  At the moment I have no proper solution. 

The Balancing Act

There are days when my mommy skills seem to shine through and illuminate my daughters growth. Then there are days like today when I’m the exact opposite of anything shiny and nice; I’m a “mean mommy,” as my daughter would say. It’s the days when I’ve worked all day and smiled and provided exceptional service to others.  It’s the days when I’ve had to cook and clean and take out the trash and comb hair and give what’s left of my day to someone else.  It’s the days when I know I’ve practiced reading, writing and basic arithmetic with her, yet when we sit down to do homework my daughter is completely clueless as to what is being asked of her.  Then I snap.

I snap because I haven’t a smile left, I haven’t a nerve in reserve nor patience to take time out to assist my own child with her homework and that in itself frustrates and terrifies me.  I’ve realized that most days I spend my energy and time working and socializing out of fear that if I don’t bills won’t be paid and my daughter won’t have a room to play in.  It occurred to me that because I am playing the role of the provider and care taker that it’s hard for me to turn one off and the other on- while the care taker seems to dominate most daily agendas. 

As the demands of my career increases, so do the bonuses.  There’s a company car and gas card, there’s higher pay, there’s all expense paid travel, but what about the major con?  I’ve adopted a philosophy that there are no negatives, but I can’t help but wonder what is to come of my maternal instincts if I am unable to nurture them and put them to good use with my own off spring?  What is to become of this beautiful, innocent girl who at times is extremely lazy, but with guidance, support and unconditional love is completely capable of ruling the world?

We’re all balancing something.  They say nothing is every picture perfect; however when I look into those big brown eyes framed by lashes that grown women envy, I know that perfection exists and it’s often destroyed by negligence.  I pray for strength and more energy because I could never forgive myself if I destroy my greatest creation.   

Running On E

Sometimes it doesn’t matter what you eat, purchase yourself, or exercise your way through you feel your energy is depleted. Everyone is withdrawing from your energy bank via conversations about themselves (I’m extremely guilty of this), things they need you to do for them (my boss is extremely guilty of this), or just your daily responsibilities and commitments to those around you. In a perfect world we could wake up when we want and accomplish what we want or don’t want to for the day, but in reality the show must go on no matter how you feel.

I say all of this to say that even though the world isn’t a perfect place we can all do our part by understanding that EVERYONE is going through something. Instead of constantly withdrawing, wouldn’t it be great if we made just one deposit a day into someone else’s energy bank? It could be as simple as a compliment, or taking the trash out without being told. If you’re a child, you could do your homework without resistance and clean your room without the slightest protest.

I’ve learned that the little things restore me. A simple, “I see you and I applaud your efforts to not be defeated” will keep me going all day. It’s better than coffee. Disclaimer: I don’t make new year resolutions but I’m always compelled to change things when I feel something isn’t right. This is completely coincidental that this epiphany is happening so close to the new year. Nevertheless, join me in investing in someone else’s happiness and I’m sure it will come back around ten fold. Hello 2014!

2014

Being HONEST Can Save Your Life

I’m a firm believer in honesty.  I feel like if more people were honest with themselves it would be easier for society to have NONJUDGEMENTAL open communication about the things that really plague us.  Today, like most days, I’d like to be honest and share my thoughts with the public.  It is HARD being a parent. I know some may be thinking, no sh-t Sherlock!  No matter if you are single or co-parenting with a spouse, relative or close friend -the bottom line is it is hard to dedicate the majority of your life to securing another’s safety, finances, health (mental and physical), happiness and more. 

The thing is, the truly devastating and overwhelming part for me isn’t what if I can’t do this, but what if I successfully do this and this little ingrate still becomes a high school dropout, meth head prostitute who abandons her own bastard children for the sake of the next high? I mean you get what I’m saying; it could be any circumstance that doesn’t fall into my perfect vision for her perfect life.  It’s the unknown.  When your baby holds your finger for the first time and cracks a smile while sleeping so peacefully, you don’t know what they’ll be bringing to your life. 

By default you think they will be bringing all the wonders of heaven because at that time they are pure and beautiful and can’t talk.  Then they grow and you start noticing mischievous behaviors that someone has come up with clever dismissive labels like “terrible twos” to ease your anxiety and to reassure you that you are not raising Satan’s spawn.  But how do you really know?  As the saying goes, hindsight is always 20/20.  I’m sure plenty of parents saw signs early on of what their child was to become.     

The family in Ohio who recently returned their son to Child Welfare Services may be responsible for a paradigm shift in parenting.  They acted BEFORE it was too late.  Before children were murdered in their first grade class, before another high school was being featured on the news for a fatal school shooting, before parents lay dead from stab wounds to the chest because they said he couldn’t have the new XBOX for Christmas, before someone could ask where are the parents,  these parents spoke up!  They said he has shown signs that scare us and others.  We fear for our safety when dealing with our 9-year-old son.  We don’t know how to help him and rather than risk having blood on our hands, we want to be proactive.

Children today play games like knock out for fun.  Not even the new Grand Theft Auto can fulfill their quest for blood.  They are seeking the real thing.   It is a reality.  Why are kids crazier now than before?  Who knows!  Is it the media? Is it the music? Is it passive parenting?  Maybe.   No one can say for sure.  However, if you are being honest, and nonjudgmental, then you should be grateful that this family had the courage to speak up.  I don’t recommend we all go returning our kids to Child Welfare Services during the rebellious years, because as a parent it’s our duty to love even the meth head, prostitute daughter.  Nevertheless, if I ever fear for my life, my daughter will have to go. The only difference is it won’t be a surprise to her because she knows that already as we have these discussions on a regular basis.    

As I stated early, be honest with yourself.   

What Have You Done For “Trayvon” Lately?

While the world is all a buzz about the Zimmerman verdict, let me pose this question: What do you do daily to affect and effect positive change? It is tragic that a child was murdered. However, laws are in place for this very reason. How many people can say that they vote in mid-term elections? Attend school board meetings? Write their state representatives about issues in their community? It’s unfortunate that it’s not until it’s too late that most people pay attention.

The truth is most of us, myself included, go day-to-day consumed with self. If it doesn’t impeded on our daily comforts then we turn a blind eye to many signs of injustice and inequality. More importantly, minority cultures lean on others to do their bidding for them. When was the last time you supported someone in your community starting a neighborhood watch? Maybe that goes against the NO SNITCHING “law”. How about, when was the last time you decided to educate your own child and not rely on a failing public school system to ensure their literacy was on or above grade level? I do not believe there is a law against teaching your child at home first and using the school as reinforcement, especially in cases where so many public schools are not making adequate yearly progress.

The thing about change is that it’s usually a slow and grueling process that most people DO NOT have the moral capacity or discipline for. It’s always convenient to hop on the band wagon and say, “Well, I did my part, I voted for Obama!” “I changed my profile pic to black during the Trayvon Martin trial and hashtagged #justiceforTrayvon.” “I wrote an open letter to my Facebook friends that opened a discussion about race relations in America.” How ignorant we are as a society, how lazy, how disappointing.

If your heart is heavy because of the outcome of the Trayvon Martin case, let it be because somewhere along the way you realized that you lost sight of what it means to do the right thing, and I’m not talking Spike Lee. Please, if you know in your heart that you’ve done little to nothing to make your community a better place, if you can’t name your district representative, town or city mayor, school district superintendent and district attorney, step away from the mic. There will be a million more Trayvon’s and Zimmerman’s if the only thing we’re willing to do is talk about it on social media and continue the destruction of our own communities.

Daddy, Where Have You Been?

My guilty pleasures are the following: celebrity gossip, designer shoes and bad reality television.  Recently, two of my favorite worlds collided when semi-celebrity DJ Big Tigga invited Love & Hip Hop Atlanta’s bad girl Mary Jane (stage name) on his show to discuss her very public, very steamy and very sexually fueled episode with a very publicly married man.  When she was asked why she engaged in certain sexual activities with this married man, her response was simple, “he took those vows, not me.”   *Gasps and grabs pearls*…No this b—- didn’t just say that!

As a single woman, this statement is scary for multiple reasons.  First, woman tend to think, no matter how lame, disgusting and deadbeat their guy may be, that you as the single woman are desperate enough to jump his dusty bones.  She just confirmed this theory.  Next, as a woman who plans to marry, it’s crazy to think that another woman will disregard the seriousness of the marital bond that I will share with my husband.  

But wait, she wasn’t finished.  “If he doesn’t respect his marriage, why should I?”  Things just got real. She continued, “My advice is for father’s to love their daughters.  I’m not condoning what I did or what I do but…”.  All of a sudden my chest tightened.  Immediately I thought of my daughters fathers lack of influence in her life.  Of course she has my dad to cater to her every need, but is that enough of a preventative measure to keep her from turning into a gold-digging, husband stealing, side-piece?  Am I underestimating the impact of his absence?

She’s at an age where questions are being raised on his where-a-bouts on a regular basis.  She often will say how she wishes he was here.  I’ve disregarded these things because I don’t fell like financially, her life is lacking.  However, it’s clear that she needs something  more.  She needs his adoration, his affection, his attention his presence.  As much as I hate to admit it, she needs him, just as I needed my father. 

I think I just had a break through. 

 

To hear the interview in its entirety listen here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKHgzaFZapE 

Can I Instagram that heaux?

I always struggle with how much to reveal about my life on social media.  As a mom, I feel like I have a social responsibility to be appropriate at all (photographed) moments.  On the other hand, as a fun, single lady I’m always tempted to show people what I’m really up to*inset evil laugh*.  I confess, as a viewer I am prone to judge.  I judge moms who post entirely too many pictures of their kid(s).  Yes I said it!  I don’t need to see your child daily.  Get over it!  On the flip side, I judge moms that are turning up nightly.  Pause-where is your child?  Then I don’t want to Beyoncé it and post shadows or props eluding to the fact that there’s a mini me floating around somewhere; I mean I’m just not that famous or important to the masses.

So, in a digital world, were social profiles determine your marketability, how should I brand my “mom” self? What message am I trying to convey?  Which side is my “best side” (as I will always want to photograph my selfies from that angle)?  I can’t be the only person with this dilemma, can I?  I want my Vines to be witty and fun, my Instagrams to be artsy yet relatable and my Facebook/Twitter rants to evoke an uproar of unsolicited feedback.

I think the real issue here is that I may be overthinking it.  Even though I judge, don’t judge me.  Maybe I just need to have fun, isn’t that the founding rule of social media anyway? 

The Double Standard

royalty-free-photos-we-love-you-dad-family-21115585

I am a single mother and I want to say Happy Daddy’s Day to all the great men out there taking care of their children and possibly someone else’s.  Now that that is out of the way, let me say this: To all of my single, bitter, resentful mother’s – it is not your place to denounce this day or make your PSA’s calling out the deadbeat you selected to procreate with. 

Spare us the paragraph posts about your pitiful plite and how you are wishing yourself and all the other bitter, resentful single moms a happy father’s day.  Do some dads fall short, yes.  On the other hand, aren’t there some moms that have fallen short as well?  I mean let’s be honest, I’ve encountered PLENTY of unfit single mother’s. So ladies, the next time you feel the urge to bash the next man, pick up a mirror and take a good look at the person who needs to be checked.

-We love you dad and don’t let anyone steal your joy today!

Dust Yourself Off & Try Again

Like many, my past isn’t squeaky clean.  I’ve hurt people and I’ve been hurt.  Over the years motherhood has definitely changed my outlook on life.  Post baby, I’ve tried to be more considerate of others and live by the golden rule.  However, you can’t outrun your past and today my past came calling. 

I’ve remained in contact with this old friend off-and-on over the years but I thought it was an unspoken truth that we would never be again.  I was excited to hear from him and answered believing it to be one of our annual “catch up chats” but I could tell by the tone of his voice that the conversation would be more serious. He began to speak about the old “us” and I feared what was to come next.  Again, I’ve hurt people in my past life.

As I listened intently awaiting my verbal lashing about all the irritating habits or inconsiderate and selfish things I did (yes, I’ve had this talk a time or two before) he surprised me with compliments.  He told me how perfect I was and how over the years he hasn’t been able to replace me or escape thoughts of the old “us.”  He expressed his desire to give “us” another chance, to do it right this time.  He outlined all of the qualities that had kept him checking in with me over the years and for once I was the “the one that got away” (score)!

Although I don’t know what the future may hold for us, I needed to be reminded that I was a good woman and that I had things to offer.   Becoming a single mother was a nearly fatal blow to my ego.  Over the years I’ve put up with more than I ever would prior to having my daughter because deep down inside I felt I no longer embodied the fun, fearless female persona that kept me demanding respect, therefor I didn’t deserve to receive respect.  I was ashamed of myself at times and the men I dated preyed on my vulnerability.

Hearing him speak of all that great things I used to do and how I walked and talked, how confident and passionate I was reminded me of who I am.  Sometimes its nothing like a good ole trip down memory lane to help you regain your focus.  I’ve issued enough second chances to people who didn’t deserve the first one.  Thanks old friend for reminding me that I deserve to give myself a second chance too.