Suggested New Episodes of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood

Good news for moderate parental negligence—a study soon to be published in the Journal of Children and Media found that watching the PBS Kids cartoon Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood may help preschoolers develop social and emotional skills. For those of you who have not yet been inducted into the Daniel Tiger cult, each episode deals with a common issue for toddlers and preschool-age kids—fear of starting school, separation anxiety, a new baby, sharing, resolving conflict with peers, etc. There is always a catchy “strategy song” that reinforces the message after the show ends. One of my son’s favorite episodes is “Daniel Visits School,” and I sing the strategy song fairly often to remind myself that he’s the kind of kid that needs extra reassurance during transitions: When we do something new, let’s talk about what we’ll do. C is also obsessed with all of the episodes that feature Daniel’s baby sister Margaret, which is just about enough to make my heart completely explode with love and forgive him for all of his general ass-hattery.

Given Daniel Tiger’s proven success at imparting macro-level life lessons about kindness, empathy, and managing negative feelings, I figure the show’s writers might be equally effective at helping us parents handle some of the more micro challenges of daily life with toddlers. To that end, I have created a list and summaries of suggested episodes I would like to see produced in the near-future:

Episode 501: Daniel Leaves His Shoes on in the Car

Daniel is riding in the car to the grocery store! He is going to leave his shoes on for the entire ride to the store and the entire ride home because he understands that even though it’s only June, it’s already 98 degrees outside, and the last thing Mommy Tiger needs is to be crawling around the back seat of her black station wagon trying to find his forty-dollar Sperrys. Daniel is also going to stop unbuckling his chest clip repeatedly and dumping the entire bag of Goldfish crackers he insisted on holding into his lap.

Strategy Song: No matter how itchy the infinitesimally microscopic piece of sand on your toe is, you still have to leave your shoes on.

Episode 502: Daniel Diversifies His Musical Tastes Beyond Uptown Funk and The Lion Sleeps Tonight

Everyone loves Bruno Mars! Golden Oldies are great for dancing! But seriously Daniel, there is an entire universe of musical genres yet to be explored, and if Daddy Tiger tries to hit the high note in “Whimoweh” one more time, Mommy Tiger is going to file for divorce.

Strategy Song: What About Beyoncé? Everyone Loves Beyoncé. Even Taylor Swift is fine, whatever, anything but the Bieber.

Episode 503: Daniel Displays a Little Bit of Flexibility When We’re Out of Cream Cheese

The Tiger family is enjoying Saturday breakfast together! Daniel is having his customary morning meal of half of a whole wheat bagel, cut into quarters and prepared to “medium” heat, meaning Mommy Tiger toasts it to a golden brown and then puts it in the freezer for 45 seconds, no more, no less, to achieve ideal temperature. Oh no, looks like someone forgot to put cream cheese on the grocery list! No worries, Daniel is not going to start shrieking like he’s fallen into a quicksand pit made of yellow jackets, instead he listens calmly as his parents explain that they will go to the store later, and for now he can have peanut butter on his bagel instead. Or he can have a waffle. Or cereal. Or pickles and olives. The world is your fucking oyster, Daniel, just please stop screaming before the neighbors call the police.

Strategy Song: Life is full if disappointment, but that’s not an excuse to act like a turd.

Episode 504: Daniel Wears His Pull-Up Diaper All Night Long

My how Daniel has grown! He is so independent, and he loves to help Mommy Tiger out with Baby Margaret. Daniel has been fully potty trained for awhile, but he still has to wear his pull-up at night, because accidents can happen when you are sleeping. Accidents that result in lots of extra laundry for Mommy Tiger, who already spends about 95% of her waking hours doing laundry. Mommy Tiger didn’t graduate from law school just so she could dedicate her life to folding underwear! Daniel helps minimize the amount of laundry Mommy Tiger has to do by keeping his pull-up on all night long, even if he wakes up at 3:30am and decides that it’s scratchy.

Strategy Song: Keep your pee in your pull-up and not soaking through your $80 organic sheet set from Pottery Barn.

Episode 505: Daniel and Baby Margaret Choose Not to Coordinate Their Epic Evening Meltdowns

It’s been a long week for Mommy Tiger! While Daddy Tiger is away on business, sleeping in dark hotel rooms and conversing in full sentences with other adults, Mommy Tiger has been trying to sleep-train Baby Margaret while also dealing with Daniel’s latest nap regression. Uh-oh, Daniel has something in his eye…or is that pink eye? Time for a trip to urgent care during rush hour! In order to prevent Mommy Tiger from becoming a full-blown alcoholic, Daniel and Baby Margaret decide that rather than express their feelings about this stressful event through tandem sobbing, they are both going to go to bed without protest and sleep 11 hours through the night.

Strategy Song: When the baby is crying, instead of crying too, why don’t you do something useful like open Mommy a bottle of wine.

How about you? What episodes of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood would you like to have custom-tailored to your particular parenting dilemmas? I hear PBS is struggling with the recent decreases in federal funding, so perhaps they could turn made-to-order TV shows into a new revenue stream. You’re welcome, Big Bird!

Written by: Kathleen

The Art of War: Tips on Toddler Discipline

Hahahahahahaha! The secret to disciplining a toddler is kept in the same place as the cure for the common cold and that sock you're missing. I hope you didn’t open today’s blog post hoping to find the oracle of knowledge on how to create the perfect toddler. If this post does anything for you, it will let you know that you are not alone in this crazy, toddler-run world. Trying to build a foundation of respect and obedience with a child between the ages of 2 and 22 is like trying to understand why people support Donald Trump running for president—it will drive you to drink and possibly move to Canada.

The toddler years are made especially hard by the crucial milestones that must be achieved, putting pressure on all parties involved. Potty training is one of the messiest and most arduous of these. How do you explain to a 2 year old that it makes more sense to go to the bathroom than it does to continue playing, uninterrupted, until someone else literally cleans up your sh*t? Not a convincing agenda. In short, this is the only advice I can attempt to dole out while I am in the midst of trying to stay afloat myself:

  • Pick Your Battles: This is easier said than done, but I have found that repeatedly screaming "no" or "stop it" just lands you talking to yourself all day and desensitizes your kid to those words. For example, I allow my toddler to eat a stolen apple in the grocery store in exchange for her sitting quietly in the buggy while we shop. In my defense, Whole Foods does allow your kid an apple while you shop . . . or at least mine has let us get away with it thus far. My guess about the long term effects of this behavior is that she will always get hungry upon entering the grocery store, so worst case is that I'm simply creating a very polite over-shopper.
  • Be Consistent: I feel like I am living in the movie “Ground Hog Day,” except my mistakes are not erased at the end of each day but the lessons I have tried to bestow on my offspring are completely forgotten. Your kid has an uncanny ability to completely delete any of the guiding principles that you so carefully laid out for them the day before. Explaining why we don’t throw food at the table or put peanut butter in the dog’s hair feels like a total waste of energy.  After the 500th time asking my daughter not to put toys in the toilet, I had to ask myself, "are we teaching them or are they teaching us"? Did she really learn not to put peanut butter in the dog’s hair or did I simply learn to put the peanut butter on a higher shelf? Probably a bit of both. After 10,000 hours of this, one of us will be an expert at something.
  • Don't Show Your Weakness: The moment your toddler sees you looking overwhelmed, they will rip your heart out with a spoon. Do your best to keep it together and save your break downs for your showers. The only thing worse than an irrational toddler meltdown is an adult joining them. Stock your wine cabinet and power through as best you can for the next 36-48 months. This too shall pass.
  • Don't Get Divorced: Just as hard as it is trying to figure out whether the kid's behavior calls for a time out, a suspension of all activities, or a deep sigh with a look of disappointment, is making sure that you and the person currently assigned to co-parent (husband, wife, aunt, uncle, Whole Foods check-out lady, etc) are on the same page about which disciplinary action should be taken at any given time. This dance can get downright dirty and turn into a scene out of The Clockwork Orange. Before you decide that you would rather be a single parent, remember that your teammate is just trying to figure out how to survive as well.

In closing, I leave you with this quote: “Remember, the race is long and your toddler has more energy and a greater ability to act irrationally in almost every situation that will challenge and degrade your sanity at every turn.” In other words, we’re screwed.

Written by: Alice


Up in the Air Part II: Flying with Toddlers

As I was sitting at the gate awaiting the departure of our return flight from Orlando earlier this summer, I gazed upon my 22 month-old son with pride as he sucked on a toasted bagel while yelling out directives through the window to the luggage trucks roaming the tarmac below. He had been so well behaved on our solo journey to visit friends in Florida that I did not think I would have anything useful to add to my series on travel. I had timed the flights perfectly, packed appropriately, and never even had the chance to test my standing-on-the-toilet poopie-diaper-change prowess, as my child’s bowels had cooperated as swimmingly as he had. Traveling with a toddler is a breeze as long as your kid is as exceptional as mine, I thought. Next stop, Paris! 

Then we boarded the plane. 

Now I feel like this post should really be an apology to the various passengers and crew members aboard that flight. To the man seated beside us, I am sorry for bragging about how well-behaved my child would be when in reality he spent most of the flight testing the upper limits of your noise-cancelling headphones. To the flight attendants, yes, I am aware of how difficult it is to clean 400 goldfish crackers from loosely woven upholstery, and I am sorry that we went the extra mile to crush each individual fish into a fine, orange powder that forms a powerful adhesive when mixed with drool and our seat-mate’s upended scotch and soda. To the man in the seat in front of us who just attained his status as a Million Miler with Delta, I can only hope that the 65 minutes you spent with our tray table slamming into your seat because it was the only way to quell the ear-piercing screams of “Outside!?” and “That Way!” emitted by my little lovebug helped you reevaluate your priorities in life and decide to spend less time traveling and more time at home with your family. 

By the time we landed, the only shred of advice I could muster for air travel with toddlers is: Don’t. Just don’t. 

But if you have some overwhelmingly compelling reason to take your limit-testing little angel on a plane, I have a few thoughts that may make your experience slightly less soul-sucking and masochistic. 

A Non-Comprehensive Guide to Air Travel with a Toddler 

(For tips on flying with the younger set, please see Up in the Air Part I: Air Travel with Infants)

Air Travel Basics: 

  • Ticketing—Children under the age of two years do not need a ticket on domestic flights, but you do need to notify the airline that you are traveling “Infant in arms” and that should be noted on your boarding pass. That said, depending on the size of your child and the length of your flight, you may want to ante-up and buy your kid a seat. In the past 6 months, I’ve gone back and forth on whether or not to buy C his own seat before he reaches his first legal milestone. The FAA repeatedly declares that having your child strapped in a car seat or FAA-approved travel harness is much safer than flying in a parents’ lap, but their concern only goes so far as to make official-sounding recommendations, not to put pressure or regulations on airlines to offer seats to children at reduced or even reasonable rates. It’s hard to justify a $400 ticket to Charlotte for an 18 month-old who will spend the entire four minutes you manage to keep him in his seat shrieking, “Uppie Mama!” like he’s been abandoned in a pool of alligators. That said, most of our flights in the last year have been between one and two hours long. I think for any flight beyond three hours, I would probably hire a baby-sitter and leave the kid at home. Barring that option, then for a long flight I’d say pawn your car title and buy him a seat.
  • Security—Despite the fact that my child weighed 30 lbs and I was 12 weeks pregnant, I still strapped on the Ergo and carried him through security on our last flight. I also brought the stroller as it served dual purposes as a luggage cart and a jungle gym while waiting at the gate. 
  • Car Seat—And you thought hauling the infant carrier was a colossal pain in the ass! Unlike your Chicco Click-n-Clack that weighed about 8 lbs and came with a handle, your Graco Titan XXL convertible car seat weighs 47 lbs and is comprised entirely of round, smooth surfaces. However, as with the infant carrier, you do need a car seat at your destination, unless you are visiting someone who has one to share that is not expired. Car seats provided by rental car companies are generally only a step above a cat crate in terms of safety and comfort, and anyone who trusts taxi cab drivers with their child’s life should have their executive functioning skills evaluated by a professional (sorry New Yorkers, but seriously, at least try to use one of those dog harnesses when you put your kid in a cab). Your gargantuan car seat still checks for free, and there are a plethora of options available on the internet to make transporting them a bit easier. I use this J.L. Childress Gate Check bag for both gate and baggage check, or check out this J.L. Childress Ultimate Car Seat Travel bag that my friend with two toddlers recommended and then if you love it, send me one as a show of appreciation. 

Timing Your Flights: 

  • Planning for Poop—Depending on your origin and destination cities, you may have some leeway as to what time of day you plan your flight. With toddlers, there are two major considerations for flight times: Poop and Sleep. If you have one of those magical toddlers who poops on a daily schedule, you may be inclined to plan your flight times around this body clock. I do not have one of these toddler unicorns so I may be underestimating the importance of this particular function, but I suggest you place sleep ahead of poop. You don’t want to lull yourself into thinking that both your child’s bowels and the airline’s schedule will move like clockwork, thus failing to properly train for the big event by practicing changing an explosive diaper on your child while he or she is running through a crowded food court or hiding under a row of chairs in the smoking lounge.  
  • Planning for Sleep—Planning around sleep also has draw-backs, of course, depending on the time of day you choose. 
    • Morning: Flying in the morning seems most logical for your typical afternoon napper, but if your kid is like mine, morning is when his Energizer battery is most charged, and you’ll end up spending much of your flight prying his tiny hands away from the emergency release lever on the door of the airplane. 
    • Afternoon/Toddler Naptime: Flying at naptime only works if your kid is capable of falling asleep in random public places, and in my experience if you have one of those kids, you don’t actually have a scheduled napper, so you’re free to fly whenever. 
    • Evening: Flying during the witching hours may be your only choice for Eastbound international flights, but otherwise it’s a terrible idea, unless you’re cool with letting your toddler participate in happy hour, and then hey, no judgments here. 
    • Overnight/Red Eye: I have not had the opportunity to experience this particular joyful milestone yet, but everything I have heard from my much-braver friends is that for red eyes and international overnight flights, you must sack-up and buy your child a seat, even if he’s under the age of two. Trust me, you do not want to be the reason your plane has to divert to Reykjavik because your sleep-deprived toddler threw a mini-bottle of Merlot at an air marshal’s head. 

In Flight: 

  • Cabin Pressure—Remember how before you had kids you used to hear some poor little elf’s cries begin just after take-off and you’d roll your eyes and say something asinine to your companion like, “they ought to ban babies from airplanes?” All adults should be required to endure take-off and landing without being allowed to pop their ears, and it would be doubly useful if their ear canals were still straight like a young child’s instead of curved so that there was more fluid build-up to make the pressure change especially painful. The best way to help your toddler clear his ears during changes in cabin pressure is through sucking or chewing—anything to flex the jaw. If your child won’t take a pacifier, try getting him to crunch on small pieces of ice (this works well for older kids, too—I have fond memories of chewing on chardonnay-tinged ice cubes whenever I flew with my mom as a child) or a hard snack like pretzels. Vigorously rubbing his ears seemed to alleviate some of C’s pain, although it may have just been jostling his brain and causing some kind of oxygen disruption that served as a satisfactory distraction from the feeling that his face was going to explode. 
  • Entertainment—If your child will stay calm and watch television for any extended period of time, ignore all AAP recommendations or hippie parenting philosophies to the contrary and load up your nearest device with Thomas the Tank Engine and Elmo. Even if the only thing that captures your tot’s attention for more than four seconds is vintage midget porn, I do not think anyone on that plane will report you if your child is sitting quietly in your lap bopping along in his headphones to bow-chicka-bow-wow. Unfortunately for my fellow travelers, my child must be gearing up for the Waldorf School or something, because the only thing he likes to do with an iPhone is chuck it across the plane toward the cockpit door. 
  • Snacks—Food is the only weapon I have in the fight against air travel meltdowns. This is a time when all notions of health or good habits should be tossed out the window at 30,000 feet—Fritos, Twinkies, those little chocolate-filled wafer things that Delta sometimes has that are probably made out of heroin they taste so good, anything goes when you’re flying with a toddler. Every single time my kid opened his mouth I popped something moderately edible in it, and about half the time it stayed in his body. The other half he would chew for awhile then politely spit whatever Biscoff-flavored mush he’d created into my hand and continue his demands to go “That way!” and “Outside?!” with calorie-infused vigor. 
  • Toys—Everything I found on the internet about air travel with toddlers insists you bring a bunch of new and exciting toys in the diaper bag to keep your little one distracted. As far as I can tell, the only distraction my toddler gained from the tiny cars and trains I handed him lasted about two seconds while he watched in rapt fascination as each toy sailed over my head and into the eye of an unsuspecting passenger enjoying his post-Bloody Mary nap. In my opinion toys take up valuable space in your carry-on that could be better filled by extra Go-gurt tubes and a bottle of Benadryl, but hey, you know your kid best, so if he loves shiny things, be sure to hit the dollar bins at Target before your trip. 

Traveling Alone with a Toddler: 

All of the stuff I suggested in Up in the Air Part I  applies here—use the Amazon Prime account I know you have if you ever listen to anything I say to ship diapers/wipes to your destination ahead of time, check your luggage, and use your stroller as a luggage cart. The only thing I’d revise is the bit about asking for help, because as I learned in Orlando, when other travelers see you arrive in the terminal with a toddler, they run screaming to the nearest airport chapel to pray you’re not on their flight. Babies are cute and children can be entertained by watching Frozen on repeat on the iPad, but a toddler on board ranks right up there with an east coast hurricane and lifting the ban on using cellphones in-flight as every frequent flyer’s worst nightmare. You may be on your own with this one, but hey, you have a toddler now, so you’re basically a parenting expert. 

For more information on airline regulations and recommendations for traveling with children, be sure to check out the links to helpful resources at the bottom of the travel page under 'Quickies'. Bon voyage! 

Written by: Kathleen

Are You Raising an Asshole?

If you haven’t gotten there yet, you will: that moment when you realize that you may have given birth to Rosemary’s baby. The first time your precious offspring starts acting like Kanye West, humiliating you in public, interrupting others and  wearing Gucci, you know you have trouble brewing. Now some of you might say it is offensive to call a young child an A-hole, but I think we all know that there is really no other term to describe their behavior. If they were adults, you would most certainly call them something you can’t say in front of your grandmother.

Here are a few clues that you might be raising an asshole. If your child has ever:

  • thrown a sizeable hard toy at your head
  • screamed “I hate you” at you in a public place
  • asked you “mommy, do you still have a baby in your tummy?”
  • squeezed an entire tube of toothpaste out on your counter
  •  painted your walls with her poop
  • shown up with a twin—while technically I know the child didn’t choose this, we all know it’s rude to bring a guest if the invitation didn’t specifically say plus one
  • woken up two hours early when you decide to have a few extra drinks the night before
  •  used your bedspread as a blank canvas for finger painting
  •  stiff bodied herself so you can’t get her in her car seat in front of a crowd of parents at school (tip: tickle her stomach so she’s forced to sandwich)
  •  grabbed items off the grocery store shelves as you cart by so that they break on the floor
  •  ran from you in public forcing you to look like you are abducting her

If you have experienced one or more of these things, or something worse, you are, in fact, raising an asshole. You are not alone. We have all either dealt with or are still dealing with the bi-polar antics of a youngster. The best we can all do is hope that the problem can correct itself once they become teenagers and we have the opportunity to be even bigger assholes back to them. Stay strong! Also, I can’t leave you without mentioning that we are not raising the very first generation of assholes and we should all take the time to call the people who dealt with our former A-hole selves and thank them for not kicking us at out of the house at 4 years old.

DISCLAIMER: For those “mature” parents, I am sure there is much worse coming down the pipe as our kids get older. Not there yet. Stay tuned. 

Written by: Alice

Always let your little a-hole know you have the upper hand...

Always let your little a-hole know you have the upper hand...

The Art of a Meltdown

MELTDOWN [melt doun]: Describes what happens when a person freaks out, cracks, loses control of herself. Life - reality at large- becomes overwhelming. She just can't deal with it all. The person may act out, withdraw, become emotional, run, etc...

If you are lucky enough to have experienced one of these special moments with your child, then you either powered through with flying colors, gave in and bought your kid that life-sized inflatable elephant, OR you are currently trying to figure out how to transfer custody to your least favorite sibling. Whatever the means of coping, you deserve a pat on the back. For those of you who have not yet ventured into the world of floor tantrums, get ready! You may be wondering if your toddler screaming in the car seat because he is tired or your baby getting extra fussy around mealtime qualifies as a meltdown. They DO NOT!!! There is so much more to this special developmental milestone. Note, there are some “child specialists” that would suggest that there are ways to avoid tantrums all together. I’m calling B.S. on these claims. These “experts” have clearly never tried to go grocery shopping with a 2 year-old who has just discovered how good it feels to smash a bag of bread with her butt.


2 parts child age 18 months to 18 years

1 part terrorist

1 part mother-in-law

1 part genetic crazy code (this varies depending on the parents’ crazy tendency)

optional: Public setting


Step 1: Do not look it (it=your offspring) directly in the eye.

Step 2: If in public, determine the fastest exit strategy—leave behind shopping carts, luggage, and loved ones if necessary.

Step 3: Once in the car or padded room, let the meltdown run its course.

Step 4: THE MOST CRUCIAL STEP: WE DO NOT NEGOTIATE WITH TERRORISTS!!! You cannot, I repeat cannot do anything about the irrational way that your child is behaving. Once she is in the throws of a full meltdown, she has lost her ability to comprehend what anyone else is saying or doing.

Step 5: Minimize the casualties by clearing the area of any pets, other children, and sharp objects.

Step 6: Ignore and wait…

Step 7: …and wait.

Step 8: Once your little terrorist rejoins the human world, return to regularly scheduled programming.   

COMING SOON: "How to handle Daddy Meltdowns"

Written by: Alice