Top Ways to get Kids to Stop Whining

So you can’t get your kids to stop whining? Why? Parenting is so easy! By the way, if you agree with that, we can’t be friends.

I cherish my daughters and think they’re perfect as they are, but these summertime behaviors are going to send me to the looney bin and we’re only a few weeks in.



They wake up wonderfully after a good night’s sleep, then a little thing like asking them to eat breakfast turns them into wild banshees. This is not after breakfast mind you, so this isn’t because I’m giving them too much sugar. My pre-tween girls are becoming independent. Hip-hip hurrumph!

I realize it’s a rite of passage to find their voice and personality, but come on…before breakfast? I’m not restraining and forcing them to eat what I prepare. They can decide (mostly) what to put in their bodies, but my kids are rebels and choose not to eat.

Can you hear your mother’s or middle school health teacher’s voice echoing, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!” with a cheery smile and a sparkle off their upper incisor.

“Why won’t kids listen?” I mutter while mindlessly emptying the dishwasher. “I didn’t get this old without becoming moderately wise!”

Finally, after the sustenance has absorbed into their bloodstream, and their brains are at maximum capacity, the number one summer parenting stressor emerges.

“I’m bored.”


“It’s nine thirty in the morning and you’re bored?” you whisper, as your blood pressure rises, and your favorite mom t-shirt collar slowly strangles you. This is where parenting can either make or break you.Woman bound with string.

Either you refer them to the Pinterest board of “151 summer activities you can do with your children,” threaten to do math flashcards, or my personal favorite:

“It sounds like you need to get a job!!”

And when I say get a job, I don’t mean clean up your toys for loose change, or make your bed for screen time. I’m talking get out of the house and pull your weight in cash.

Now I’m against child labor in other countries, but in my house all is fair in love and whining. You’d be amazed how many times my kids ask me to buy them things throughout the day.

Here are a few examples of what your child can do this summer to find employment:

Dog waste removal: Poop patrol is a well-respected profession that will help your child appreciate hard work and the joy of getting his hands dirty. It’s also high in demand since no one in his or her right mind wants to perform this task.

Girl or Boy Scoots cookie sales: Make your child bathe, give their hair a good brushing, tie a handkerchief around their neck, and send them on their scooter with a backpack full of cookies. I recommend snack-sized bags and fill them with Oreos, Vanilla Wafers, Nutter Butters and some of those teething biscuits that taste like cardboard for the mom with a screaming baby.

Carwash: Nothing is more cost efficient than a good old carwash. Plus, you can put that disco song on their iPod so they can get their groove on while they’re working at the carwash. Whoa, whoa, whoah! This is also something that can be done with friends, which makes it more fun if your child is fine with splitting the profits.

Spa Water: This is a great one for runners in your suburbs. Especially, if you have an over abundance of cucumbers growing in your yard because your husband overestimates the amount of vegetables your family will consume. First get a lot of ice and some filtered tap water. Then throw in a couple cucumber slices and voila! You are swimming in the Caribbean with cherubs playing harps, and a choir of Mongolian monks humming along. There is big money for spa water.

Of course, if none of these ideas are of interest, you can have your children count the blades of grass in the backyard. Make sure to tell them not to come inside until they agree on a number. They’ll be out there all day because everyone knows that siblings can’t agree on anything!

You can thank me later.

Young girl crying

What other tortuous jobs can you come up with? They don’t have to be something you would do, but just dreaming of what they would do!!



The Many Stages of Parent Volunteers

“Excuse me. (tap, tap) Welcome, to the 2015 InsertAnyClubHere meeting. Before we start, I’m going to need a few parent volunteers.”

Crickets chirp.

“Where did everybody go?”

Does this scenario sound familiar? Whether it’s your child’s school, a society, your church/temple/synagogue, you have surely witnessed this battle of the wills.

As I see things, there are two types of people: “those who help” and “those who think they help, but are sorely incorrect.”

What is it with people not wanting to volunteer? I don’t know if you got the memo, but “not volunteering” is the new “thank you notes.” Gratitude is so last season.

I realize not everyone acts this way, so I don’t want to come across as bitter or cantankerous. But for those of you who are gracious and generous of your time, this rant is not aimed at you. However, those who rarely volunteer probably don’t give a rip and have moved on searching for something regarding their awesomeness.

Generally, in parenting the Volunteer Police start you off slowly. Volunteering is never expected of someone who has a newborn. Ever. We’ve all been there and feel your loss of free time and sleep.

The next stage is where it slowly starts. Careful when you announce your child is potty-trained. You will get that first call in 48 hours. Obviously, you have more free time since you aren’t always in the powder room. Plus, now you must have extra money since you gave up the diapers.

How about a big donation to the preschool carnival?

Most preschools require that you bring your child a snack. Sometimes it’s every day for just your child, or they take donations of bulk snacks and when the teacher runs out, she will ask for more contributions. This is the beginning of the end. You are now in the throes of the Volunteer Police until the day you die. Prepare for those parents who don’t “remember” to donate snacks to the classroom. They will be the same ones who remain on the “Too-Busy-for-You-List” through high school.

Seriously, life is so busy you don’t have time to pick up a jumbo-sized crate of Goldfish, while you are doing your weekly grocery shopping?

Now I realize not everyone can afford purchasing snacks for the entire class, so obviously you get a free pass. And I’m so sorry you are having a rough patch. But Ms. Lazy Britches needs to make a note, a list, or set a timer on her phone to pitch in a tad.

In grade school, the amount of things for which to volunteer increases tenfold. The children are not only in school all day – thus, requiring numerous parent volunteer requests – but many kids are in multiple extra-curricular events, which require each game: snacks, drinks, massages, throat cultures, pedicures…

If you boldly choose to get involved in PTO, you know that filling up your slots for volunteers is as much fun as a root canal. Or if you are the non-coveted position of Room Parent, you might as well plan on bringing backup treats for every party.

Even if you send out an email asking for the volunteers to acknowledge what they will be bringing, don’t expect to get more than a 10-percent return rate. Just pray the parent dropping the ball won’t be the one assigned to the sweet treats! I’ve personally seen that and the mayhem is NOT pretty.

So you might say, “But does it really matter if the kids don’t get all the snacks?” No, I don’t enjoy my kids running wild like they are on crack. But yes, it is a big deal that so many people expect to be catered to. If they don’t volunteer, some other sucker will cave in and do it.

It’s those flake’s own fault that they agree to everything.

Maybe you should go back to your Candy Crush marathon or balancing your business’s budget and let all the slacker stay-at-home moms take care of your kids?

It’s time for everyone to step up and join the volunteer game. What ever happened to the, “It takes a village” attitude? Afraid if you are weak and help out, forces will draw you in with their gratitude spell, make you sing Kumbaya, and add you to the PTO board?

Take a chance. Prove that you care.

You can always say “NO” when you have reached your limit. But you won’t know what your limit is if you don’t throw yourself into the game.

Any juicy PTO stories? Which group seems to be the worst at getting volunteers in your town?



Get Your Turkey Pants Ready

Once again I was lucky to hang out with the incredibly duo, Paige Kellerman and Snarky-in-the-Suburbs, Sherry Kuehl in the KC Live! studio. Unfortunately, we only get approximately 5 minutes a month to gab about what concerns or peeves us for that month. Truly I think we need a weekly show to get out all the gems this group has.

Actually, sometimes we can’t even leave the parking lot afraid we won’t ever have another opportunity to dish with someone like ourselves (aka weird). It’s basically a Mom bitch vent session, where we lay it on the line and laugh at each other.

Our latest chat was recently on the KSHB-TV’s KC Live! morning show. We are the Mommy Panel. Kind of sounds like a feminine hygiene product, but we didn’t get to chose the name.

Introducing…the Mommy Panel talks all things Thanksgiving:


Children’s Theatre isn’t Just for Kids

When I was a young child, often I would attend a fabulous production of the Seem-to-be-Players, directed and created by Ric Averill. I have such fond memories of watching these shows on Saturday mornings, and I was always sitting on the floor, hoping to be picked to go up on stage to partake in whatever theater game they were doing.

I think I might have attended every show that company created. It was the highlight of my youth and I’m so thankful for that experience. I’m sure it had a great deal to do with my appreciation of the arts.

A few years ago, I found a picture in the archives of The Journal World newspaper in Lawrence, KS – my hometown. In that photo, Ric was talking to the kids; and right in the front of the audience are my husband and me.


The two of us didn’t know each other back then, but after looking at the photo discovered we had both loved those Saturday morning performances.

Much later in life, one of the countless times I dropped out of college to work professionally in theater, I joined a children’s theater touring group.

A troupe of actors drove around in a big blue van with 1980s velour seats and stiff seat belts, which cut you hard in the carotid at every stop.

I can’t remember if we were paid in food stamps, or if we got freebie food scraps from the elementary schools where we performed; but we were almost famous. This gig was so fancy; we were steps from having our own named-star dedication in the town square behind the Denny’s.

It was the big league, people!

Traveling around the Midwest, we performed our musical show for thousands of elementary school-aged kids sitting criss-cross-applesauce in their gymnasiums, which always smelled of wet dog and soy taco meat.

But even though this production wasn’t one of my most impressive lines on my resume, I have glorious memories of the children’s laughter. Each day this sound warmed our hearts, making the experience worthwhile.

Afterwards, I never considered joining a children’s company where I would be stationed in one city or theater to perform repertory shows for the community, but I can appreciate a good cast of actors who know how to reach children.

(alteration: show has since passed 2015- I love this theater, so you should take a look at their current show schedule if you are in downtown KC)

Theatre for Young America in Kansas City is performing “Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business” right now through April 12, 2014 on the H&R Block City Stage at Union Station.

If you’ve ever read the Junie B. Jones books, you know they’re a delight in their own right. But matched with this silly cast and unique director’s choices, the sold-out audience giggled, tittered and roared at the appropriate times. And the parents and educators appeared to enjoy the production as much as the kids. Bonus!!

So if you are Spring Breaking it, or stay-cationing here in the Kansas City area and are looking for something to do with the kids, give the theater a call to reserve some seats. They have several shows on most days, so hopefully you will be able to see it.

Afterwards, the kids get to go up and meet the actors, ask them questions and take photos. I’m so glad that I’m able to take my munchkins to shows similar to what I experienced as a child. I know they loved it and hopefully they will have the same fond memories of it as I did.

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