Online Rules for Out of Line Kids

Funny Mummy Column Kathy Buckworth

I’ve always believed in the parenting principle of finding out what your kids like the most…andthen taking it away from them as a form of punishment. The thing is, kids are very transparent,or “authentic” in today’s social media terminology. They simply cannot hide when there is a toy they really love, a friend they prefer over all others, or an activity they can’t wait to do.

Favourite things vary for each child, and of course this changes for the child themselves as they go through different ages and stages. I have four children, and taking away Star Wars Lego is a much bigger punishment for my nine year old son than it is of course for his 18 year old brother.

On the other hand, they’d both feel the pain from an imposed Xbox ban; something that wouldn’t bother either one of my daughters at all. I even have one child who would be extremely unhappy if I didn’t let him mop the kitchen floor anymore. (I rarely use this as punishment; why deny him such fun?)

But as kids outgrow their personal preferences, and you start to think about resorting to the age old parenting technique of grounding them, remember that this action results in them spending more time in the house (you want to think this one through, trust me). We can also run out of ways to follow through on the verbal threat, simply exhausting the list of appropriate non-permanently damaging course of punishment actions. This can sometimes result in the empty threat, such as “You’ll never watch TV again”. At this point, all of your threats and promises become meaningless, and they know it. Kids sense indecision like dogs sense fear.

Which is why I love parenting in this digital age. While many parents (rightfully) bemoan the challenges of guiding their children through the online complexities of email, Facebook, Twitter and the internet as a whole, I embrace these challenges as a small price to pay, to encourage my kids to get online for the simple reason that it gives me a whole new set of punishment tools.

“Don’t want to clean up your room? No Facebook for you.”

“You’re going to talk to me like that? I guess you won’t be emailing with your friends about how unfair I am.”

I even once made my teenage son friend me on Facebook as a type of punishment. They really don’t want to be your friend, and they really don’t like it when you comment “Cute top!” under a icture of them at a party.

And we haven’t even begun to discuss the pure parenting enjoyment that comes from taking away a smartphone. Or simply letting their pre-paid cell phone run out as a more passive aggressive form of digital punishment.

Forget the Time Out Mat; let their phones time out instead. And tell them everyone you connected with on Twitter agrees with you. You might want to even “favourite” it yourself.

Follow Kathy Buckworth on Twitter @KathyBuckworth; visit www.kathybuckworth.com. Kathy’s
latest book, “I Am So The Boss of You” will be released by McClelland & Stewart in March, 2013.

A Smart Auto-Motive | Funny Mummy

by Kathy Buckworth

I attended the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit recently, and was pretty impressed with the range of eco-friendly cars that were being unveiled – from the tiny “smart” cars to the hybrids, the electric, and everything in between.  It is of course imperative that we do all we can to protect our environment, and all of the car companies seem to get this, and are investing dollars and research in improving the way they do business, and the way the cars run.

But as a Mom, I often find that the environment inside the car can be just as offensive and polluting as the environment outside the car.  If you have children, I know you agree with me. So, I am providing some helpful advice to the car manufacturers on some features they might like to start developing for 2013.

1)      Purse holder for Moms: We don’t want to put our purses down on top of the sticky, dirty floor mats, and if we hand the purse to the teen in the front seat, he’ll throw it in the back (making sure first that it’s unzipped), whacking an innocent younger sibling on the way back.  If we put it in the clean trunk space (let’s assume the trunk space is clean, play along, please)we can’t reach it for the inevitable stop at the coffee shop/fast food restaurant/nice officer with the ticket book in his hand.

2)      Sound Barrier: Just a simple sliding glass door between the driver’s row and the back seats would suffice.  On certain occasions (ultra long road trips), having one to separate the driver from the instruction-issuing passenger would also be welcome. You know who you are, Mister.

3)      Self-Cleaning: I’m imagining something like the self-cleaning public toilets they have in Europe. The entire car/van gets a shower and drains out of the bottom of the floorboards perhaps once a month. Self-heating/air blowers would help hasten the progress of drying the seats prior to the next infestation. Maybe blow out a lavender scent as well.

4)      Cones of Silence: These cones need to be installed over every seat.  The driver needs to tune out the kids fighting in the back; the kids sitting next to each other wouldn’t be able to hear the insults being hurled at them; and Dad wouldn’t hear that child in the back row who just spilled their blue raspberry slushy. Noise pollution is a real thing; and no more real than when you’re subjected to listening to the repeating and inane video game techno-music coming from the eight year old’s latest hand held device.

5)      Signal Blocking: Of course the driver should be unable to text or surf the Internet on their smartphones, but if I can’t do it, I don’t want my teens BBM’ing either.  It’s not fair.  Unless I’m the passenger and they’re the ones driving me around, then it’s totally fair.

Now these features would make for a really “smart” car.

Kathy Buckworth loves her Buick Enclave. Especially when it’s toxin (i.e. child) free. Follow Kathy on Twitter @KathyBuckworth. Kathy’s next book, “I Am So The Boss of You” will be released by McClelland & Stewart in Spring, 2013.

Funny Mummy | Parenting: The Ultimate Work Out

The holiday season is mere weeks away and our ambitions to fit into that cute sleeveless Little Black Dress gain strength.  But who has time or energy to work out? Good news Moms: Turns out you already are.   As a public service I just wanted to remind you of all of the exercising you’re already doing.

The Toddler Squat: If you are the parent of a child between the ages of approximately one and four, you will spend a huge and torturous amount of time squatting ungracefully in front of them in order to zip up coats, tie shoes, wipe noses, scrub away crusted-on ketchup, discipline (i.e. yell at them, in their face), and pull up unintentional low rise pants (yours), pull-ups that are pulled down at inopportune moments (theirs), and assorted other items that keep falling off, untying and getting dirty. Stand in your front hallway and squat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

The Arm Stretch and Tone: Children of all ages like to hide personal belongings, or even better, perishable food items, underneath and behind heavy immovable pieces of furniture in your house. This will require you to lie down, bend over, or reach behind these objects while performing arm stretches which threaten to remove your shoulder joint from its socket. Wiggling fingers is a mandatory part of this exercise. If you can practice this maneuver before the item actually makes its way under the furniture, the eventual recovery of said item will be much easier.

Car Seat Resistance Training: Almost from birth, and certainly up to the age of five, children will take every opportunity to fight car seat confinement. This is most effectively achieved by back arching, kicking, and arm flailing.  It will take all of your strength and toning skills to firmly place the child in the seat while not snapping limbs (theirs), breaking plastic buckles or getting kicked in the face by a tiny dirty boot.  You will likely even break a sweat on this one. You could recruit the family pet to help you with this one, but it might get ugly. You’re better off with a practice makes perfect approach, customized according to the appropriate child.

Butt-numbing “hold” position: As the parent of relative young children, you will sit on hardwood floors, cross-legged (oh, yes, you did sprain that ankle about ten years ago and it still hurts when you do this), playing innumerable games of blocks, trains, cars, puzzles, marbles, weird pointy plastic thingys and other assorted mind- and butt-numbing pastimes. (This is one occasion where a well-padded seat is a blessing.)

Bathroom sprint: An essential skill to master, the Bathroom Sprint should be practiced both from various locations in the house and in commonly frequented public places. Not motivated? Imagine yourself at 5 p.m., not having had a minute to go since 10 a.m. that morning. One good sneeze could ruin the only good pair of pants that you own. Or, picture this: racing around the store/library/mall/community centre trying to find relief for your “pee-dancing” four-year-old, who was fine when you left the house five minutes earlier. The best incentive of all? Knowing that once you dash down that hallway and leap into the bathroom, you might just find some peace and quiet for three-and-a-half minutes. Well, okay. They’ll discover that you’re missing after about thirteen seconds, but with a locking door you can extend your escape to close to a minute.

The Flying Urination Tactic:  This particular movement is meant to ward off that charming attack preferred by infant boys (children still engaging in this type of warfare after the age of seven should be sent straight to boarding school). You know the one I mean—straight up into the mouth, eyes, nostrils or onto a favourite (and recently dry cleaned) silk blouse.

The Innocent Bystander Movement: Children who can hit a neighbour’s window—bulls-eye—with a softball can rarely hit their sister across the dinner table with a loaded spoonful of mashed potatoes, peas, or even mayonnaise. It will hit you, every time. Practice spotting the tell-tale catapult movement just prior to the attack. Then, duck.

The Flying Boot Maneuver: Sitting down and gently pulling off muddy boots takes up valuable time in a five-year-old’s day. The preferred method is to stand on one foot, grasp the antique hall table with a sticky hand, and shake the other foot until the boot is dislodged and sent flying into your new suede jacket, your head, or the sleeping infant in your arms. Duct taping boots to your child’s pants is a reasonable preventative measure to avoid strenuous ducking and dodging.

The Vomitron: Young children like to be on the move when throwing up—projectile or otherwise. In your attempt to save the area rug you may find yourself right in the line of fire. Some fancy footwork may be required to herd the puking child to the nearest toilet bowl while simultaneously warding off bodily fluids.


Excerpted from “Journey to the Darkside: Supermom Goes Home”, Kathy Buckworth, Key Porter Books, 2007.

Visit www.kathybuckworth.com or follow Kathy on Twitter at www.twitter.com/kathybuckworth Watch Kathy discuss the latest hot parenting topics every Friday at 11:20am on CTVNewschannel.

Funny Mummy | Talking Turkey

Thanksgiving in Canada comes a whole month earlier than it does south of the border, and for that I am especially thankful.  Mostly because it lands before Halloween, and then allows me to have a full two months to take off the candy and turkey poundage prior to indulging in both  once again at Christmas time, just when those jeans finally zip up.  So, in honour of Canadian Thanksgiving, this month’s Funny Mummy column offers up a serving from my latest book, Shut Up and Eat: Tales of Chicken, Children and Chardonnay.   Put the turkey in the oven, pour some wine in your glass, pick out your best eating pants, sit back and enjoy this excerpt.

Gobble, Gobble

There are many things to be thankful for when you have children. Here are some that might occur to you, as they do to me, while you’re sitting around the Thanksgiving dinner table with your extended family:

  •  Your son didn’t wear his FCUK t-shirt to the dinner table.  Grandparents still consider it offensive.  And so do I, on a certain level at least.
  • You decided against serving the peas. (You’ve eyeballed at least two slingshots peeking out of shorts pockets.)
  • Your kids use so many slang/rap expressions when dissing each other that your parents don’t really know what they’re saying.  Including “dissing.”
  • Your mom decided to serve dinner buffet style, so the kids can choose what they like—one piece of broccoli and four pieces of bread?  Fine. Don’t care. Sit down and shut up—instead of complaining about their plates full of things they won’t eat. Otherwise, you’d get blamed for both wasting food and not raising your children properly for.  Or is that just me?
  • Candied yams are considered a vegetable and not dessert.  How (literally) sweet is that?
  • It’s a special occasion, so the calories don’t count.
  • Turkey contains tryptophan, which is known for inducing sleep.  You will have a lovely hour-long car ride home if you have an extra coffee and load up hubby’s and children’s plates.

One of the best things about Thanksgiving is that it is a really short holiday.  Basically, it lasts for one meal (at least here in Canada, where we do it on a Monday in October, with no real football games or pre-Christmas shopping frenzies to attend to).  Other festive occasions which are mercifully only a day long are children’s birthdays and Halloween.  The birthdays seem longer because you have to spend so much time planning them, but the actual event is mercifully short.  Likewise Halloween.  And the really good news about Halloween is that you don’t have to bother making dinner that night, or breakfast the next morning.  It’s all about the candy. And even if you are the type of parent to force your kids to eat something healthy before they go out trick or treating, rest assured that they’ll shove any nasty dinner down their throat just to get out there.  Score.

Yet another thing to feel thankful for.


Excerpted from “Shut Up and Eat: Tales of Chicken, Children and Chardonnay”, by Kathy Buckworth. Published by Key Porter Books, 2010.

Read Funny Mummy every month and follow Kathy on Twitter at www.twitter.com/kathybuckworth Visit http://www.kathybuckworth.com/

Funny Mummy | The Real Babysitting 101 Course

 Like many 12 year olds, my daughter recently completed her “Babysitting Course”, which in theory will enable her to venture forth into the world of watching other people’s children with insight, knowledge, and experience. However, after having reviewed the course materials and grilling her on the information that was shared, I do believe that as a mother of four I should share some vital facts which seem to have been left out of the course content.

  • Changing a diaper on a teddy bear, life sized baby doll or stuffed Elmo is nothing like changing the diaper on a real life, pooping baby. In order to replicate this activity without borrowing an actual baby, you could practice by stuffing an angry octopus into a small plastic bag. About 14 times. For one change. And if you think the squid ink is bad, well…
  • Most children do not like going to bed. Most babysitting jobs span the exact timeline of getting children into bed. This is not an accident by the employing parents. They may have in fact secured your babysitting services entirely to avoid putting their own children to bed, for one night. A refusal to go to bed by the child, coupled with the 114th reading of GoodNight Moon will wear down even the most patient of parents. They’ve decided it’s your turn. Good luck. Wear protection.
  • Parents will tell you that as long as the kids are safe, happy, and healthy (and put to bed on time, as per the last point), they aren’t fussed if you make a mess doing arts and crafts, feeding the kids, or playing games/building forts. This is a lie. We all hate coming home to a messy house and if you need to leave Junior in front of the television or video game for half an hour before we get home, it’s fine with most of us if it means all the couch cushions are back in their rightful spots.
  • Parents who tell you outright that they try to limit their children to only half an hour of television per night are most likely to be the ones who let their kids watch television non-stop all week and are trying to lower their child’s average hours of viewing for that week, all in one night, courtesy of you. Good luck with that. Start building that fort.
  • Use the “Well I’m just going to call your Mother and ask her” threats wisely. Kids catch on to this really quickly (just like the fake calls to Santa and the Easter Bunny). Practicing a fake one-way conversation with fake angry Mom is good practice for any babysitter. Do some role play with your friends.
  • It’s not always a bad thing if the parents don’t have the money to pay you on the spot when they get home. Most of us feel so guilty that we made you wait for your money that we top up even more the next day when we drop it off. And never say “It’s too much.” We know what the real cost is of watching our own kids. It’s not too much. Reading GoodNight Moon one more time? Now that’s “too much”.

  • Read Funny Mummy every month and follow Kathy on Twitter at www.twitter.com/kathybuckworth Visit http://www.kathybuckworth.com/

    Funny Mummy | Now THAT’S Educational TV

    Now THAT’S Educational TV
    Sherwood Schwartz, best known as the creator of The Brady Bunch and Gilligan’s Island, passed away this month, much to my own and to many of my “raised on 70’s TV” counterparts’ dismay. With so much emphasis today on what is educational TV, and what is potentially harmful for our kids to watch, it’s fun to think back to the days when TV was fun and silly and we didn’t worry about what we were learning or not learning. Of course there were messages that we received from both of these shows that are truly hard to comprehend today as an adult, but luckily our unhelmeted heads back in those days didn’t question; we just enjoyed.

    Some of the puzzling thoughts I now have as an adult include what kind of a salary Mike Brady was making to support six kids, a dog, a housekeeper and a stay at home wife. Was he even a good architect? He supposedly designed their own house, which not only had an exterior that didn’t match the interior, but which also had a totally inadequate number of bedrooms and bathrooms for nine people. And the backyard was only eight Brady-filled Racing Potato Sacks’ wide. And while the entire premise of Gilligan’s Island is ridiculous, some facets of it were even more crazy than others. Why were millionaires, and a movie star for that matter, on a three hour commercial boat tour? The tour only accommodated five passengers? How were they making any money? I guess they weren’t spending any on radar weather reports. Who travels with that much luggage for a three hour tour? Also, did Ginger and Maryanne not use any feminine hygiene products? Why didn’t the Professor’s white shirt ever get dirty? And if he was so flipping smart why couldn’t he get them off the Island? Even the Harlem Globetrotters found their way off…so far as I know. (Actually has anyone seen them lately?)

    I love shows that suspend my (dis)belief; it’s the shows that seem all too real that I find hard to watch. Teen Moms and Jersey Shore folks; Beverley Hills Housewives and Bachelors being paid to look for love…they’re all pretty disturbing. While it’s well-known that reality shows are partially scripted, overdramatized and heavily edited, it’s the pretence that the actions these folks are taking are real which drives out any enjoyment from watching them. Is it better that they’re only the way they are because of the editing and scripting, or are they really like that? What’s worse?

    Check out Twitter on any night and you’ll see people tweeting “I can’t stand to watch Kate and her eight kids anymore. Who else is watching?” or “This episode of Hoarders is disgusting – you should tune in!” And, if you can’t watch it live, you must PVR it so you have no excuses not to partake in the horror. Since when did watching television become such a chore? My friends and I all knew and loved shows like the Brady Bunch and Gilligan’s Island because it was the only thing we could all watch at the same time. I used to race home after school to relax and laugh along with the canned giggles on these shows (plus a healthy dose of Partridge Family, Get Smart and the Addams Family) and I like to think that my Mom was having a coffee klatch or a quick gin fizz with her friends in the next room, not worrying if the show Teen Mom was giving her own teens the wrong idea. Maybe if we just added a laugh track to the dialogue of Snookie and Blake we’d all find our love of the silly once again. Or maybe I’ll just have to write my own show called The Buckworth Bunch. But only if I get an Alice, too.


    Read Funny Mummy every month. Visit Kathy Buckworth at http://www.kathybuckworth.com/ and follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/kathybuckworth Kathy’s latest book, “Shut Up and Eat: Tales of Chicken, Children and Chardonnay” can be found at bookstores and online, everywhere.

    Zombie Moms: Not Just For Newborns | Kathy Buckworth

    The huge on-line success of the book “Go the F**k to Sleep” is due mainly to one thing: Every single parent in the world has uttered these words, either in their inside or outside voice. From the string of sleepless nights a newborn delivers the minute they come home from the hospital, through scary school age nightmares about The Grinch, to the awakening sounds of a teenage boy banging around the kitchen in search of a midnight snack. Sleep is one of the few challenges parents face with their children from start to finish, and that we all can relate to not having enough of. However, as with many facets of raising children, sleep deprivation is one where you always think you’re going through a tougher time than anyone before, or after you.

    While the recent Twitter hashtag #ZombieMoms includes membership from Moms with children of all ages, it does skew towards the newborn side. Their challenges don’t always inspire thoughts of empathy.

    “You think it’s tough having a newborn? At least they don’t go anywhere – I’m up all night worrying about my teenager driving around, and then when she gets home she makes so much noise it wakes me up all over again.”

    Complaining about the lack of sleep (a badge of honour for parents) is a bit of a curious phenomenon. Back in the good ol’ days (before we had kids), most of us wore our lack of sleep status with pride.

    “I was out clubbing til 4:00am, had a power nap, a quick shower, and here I am back at work. Wicked, man.”

    I suppose there are some similarities with that type of sleep deprivation and the type that comes from having a newborn; your eyes are red, your body’s aching, and you might be dealing with vomit which isn’t always your own. The main difference though is the lack of control that you have over your own sleep patterns, once Baby makes his entrance. When they’re infants, we instinctively rise to their occasion every time they can’t sleep. We read the baby books that alternate between telling us to comfort them instantly, and just letting them scream it out. Unfortunately Baby isn’t usually up to speed on which book we’re reading or which strategy we’re trying, so it doesn’t always work.

    As the kids get older, though, it can be a mistake to let them assume they are still in charge.

    “I try to get him to bed at 8:00 but he just won’t go.”

    Have to admit I don’t understand this. What’s with the “try”? Just substitute the word “put” here, and it works out pretty well. The getting them to stay in bed, once uncontained by crib bars, can be the real challenge.

    By the time they get to the ‘tween stage, they try to push the boundaries of bedtime, but most of them haven’t mastered the art of sleeping-in the next morning, so a later sleep start usually just speeds up the development of the surly side of their personality which will fully bloom in the teen years.

    When your teenage children start to stay up later than you do, it makes you feel old. Not the physical old as you feel when you’ve been up six times in the night with a newborn, but old in a “how old am I?” mental way. Comparing the levels of weariness, both of spirit and body, is tough.

    Teenagers, on the whole, like to sleep in. Let them. As tempting as it is to get some sleep deprivation revenge fully due to you, take the time to Drink The F**k Some Coffee.


    Read Funny Mummy every month. Visit Kathy Buckworth at http://www.kathybuckworth.com/ and follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/kathybuckworth Kathy’s latest book, “Shut Up and Eat: Tales of Chicken, Children and Chardonnay” can be found at bookstores and online, everywhere.

    Funny Mummy | I Have My Eye On You

    The Japanese have introduced a technological “advance” with the invention of the Lunchbox Communicator, a modified “Bento Box” which includes a video camera and screen, embedded in the box’s lid. The idea here is that the child can watch Mom preparing his/her lunch, just before digging in, and Mom can in return watch Junior eating it. As riveting as video footage of lunch making can be – quite surprised there isn’t a reality show called “Extreme Lunch Boxes” – and as appealing as it is to watch a child eat lunch, it begs the question: Why? Why? Why?

    Making the decision as to what you will eat out of your school lunch is a major part of learning and growing as a child. Do you go for the apple Mom packed, or try to trade it for your best friend’s cupcake? Is that homemade chocolate chip cookie really worth two fruit roll ups? It’s sort of like a food version of “Let’s Make a Deal”, and the bartering and bargaining learned here can build a foundation for negotiating skills most kids will require later on in life (particularly if they become parents themselves). And with most schools now having supervisors watching for kids throwing out healthy food, trying to sneak it into a garbage can is a risky option compared to the good old trade.

    But with every move being monitored by the video camera’s watchful eye, these poor children will likely be forced to eat what their Mama gave ‘em…and where’s the fun in that?

    On the other side of the lens, I’m not sure why there’s thinking that kids would want to watch their parents prepare their lunches. Kids don’t want to watch their mothers do anything; particularly something as pedestrian as providing them with a basic life necessity. Do the manufacturers really think that the kids will appreciate the effort that Mom (or Dad) has put into the preparation of this meal? If anything, they’re more likely to be turned off when they realize that there are “raw” ingredients that go into making a sandwich, salad, or cooked entrée. “There’s cheese in my macaroni? I never knew that. You know I hate cheese Mom.” No, I think this new innovation has disaster written all over it. I don’t know about you, but watching my children eat breakfast and dinner at home is enough “food bonding” time for me. Also, I’m not entirely convinced my children wouldn’t capture an inappropriate body part on the camera, just for my viewing pleasure.

    I mean, what’s next? Do we want to have two way video cameras on our children for other moments during their school day? Not sure I need to see how uncoordinated they are at gym, or that the pencil they use for homework is also an effective scratching implement for places that scratching shouldn’t be done in public. Let’s leave some things in the realm of the unknown, and unwatched, shall we?


    Kathy Buckworth is an award winning humour writer, and feature writer for Sympatico.ca in their parenting, travel, and auto sites Visit www.kathybuckworth.com and follow Kathy on Twitter @KathyBuckworth