10 Things That Will Go Wrong When a Kid and Baby Share a Room

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It will be GREAT, I told myself, when we bought the house with only two usable bedrooms. The girls will share. They’ll never be scared because they have each other, and they’ll grow up to be the best of friends. I also nurtured future bunk bed fantasies, left over from my tween years at overnight camp and juiced by the Restoration Hardware Baby and Child catalogue.

The reality: A preschooler and a baby are on very different wavelengths, and nothing about bedroom-sharing is going smoothly. Maybe in a few years they’ll be better roommates—if I survive that long. For now, here’s what happens on an almost daily basis:

RELATED: 13 OMG Gross-out Stories from the Parenting Trenches

1. The kid is scared to go to bed without a nightlight, while the baby requires pitch black darkness to sleep.

If the door is opened precisely 6.4 centimeters, we can satisfy both customers. And you know how precise preschoolers are, so this never gets screwed up.

2. The older kid needs a parent to lay with her at night.

The baby’s already asleep, so the rule is no talking or for God’s sake at least whisper. Except the whisper of a 5-year-old could be heard at the back of Carnegie Hall.

3. Baby’s piercing wails wake preschooler up from a sound slumber.

Good luck nursing and giving back scratches at the same time!

4. Preschooler’s nightmares (why, why, why did I let her watch Gremlins?) wake sleeping baby from a sound slumber.

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What Pet Should I Get? The Real Moms’ Guide to 10 Popular Pets

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What pet should you get?

So you don’t feel regret.

Or go into debt.

From constant trips to the vet.

Okay, so that’s not what it says in the recently discovered Dr. Seuss book, “What Pet Should I Get?” but imagine how useful that would be! As parents, we often succumb to our children’s desperate desire (aka constant whining) for cute critters without proper research. Many pets will be with us for years, so understanding what’s really involved in their care and feeding is key.

Plus, no matter how much we tell ourselves that animals teach kids responsibility, let’s be honest about who’s really going to be keeping them alive: us. So we’ve reached out to real moms who gave us the straight, um, poop on their pets. Their answers may surprise you:

GUINEA PIG

The good: Guinea pigs are “very cute and smart,” said Melissa W., who compared them to having small dogs. “They love to come out and play and interact with the family.” Also, they can eat fruits and vegetables, “So scraps are easily disposed of via guinea pigs!”

The bad: If they don’t get enough vitamin C (through drops and fresh fruit), guinea pigs can develop health problems. “One of ours broke a tooth, which led to an abscess and we had to put him to sleep. For several thousand dollars, he could have had dental surgery. We decided to pass on that.”

GECKO

The good: When Jamie G. got a gecko for her lizard-loving preschooler, she had no idea they’d be such great roommates. “The gecko needs two lights in his cage—one for daytime and one at night. I think my son actually likes the fact that the lizard needs the light on at night. It’s like a nightlight for both of them.” Plus, watching the gecko change color from green to brown has been a fascinating lesson in camouflage. “Sometimes we can’t even find him because he hides so well.”

The bad: Geckos eat live crickets, which require their own cage, water and food. “Crickets have a pretty short life span,” said Jamie. “So I sometimes have to go to the pet store multiple times a week to get more crickets.”

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HAMSTER

The good: Hamsters are easy to care for (they eat hamster feed) and make sweet companions for kids, said Stephanie T. “My three-year-old son has the cage right next to his bed, so watching the hamster helps him fall asleep.”

The bad: “The hamster started using his little wheel as storage for food, so when he runs on the wheel, food (and poo) fling everywhere. We worry about the little poo bits interacting with a toddler who doesn’t like to wash his hands.”

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How to Survive A Move With Little Kids

Wondering where I’ve been?  This is where I’ve been!

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A girlfriend of mine moved houses when she was eight months pregnant. I thought she was nuts to undertake such a physical project while swollen and exhausted, but now I understand the rush, because the only thing harder than relocating during your third trimester is moving with small children.

I just moved my four-year-old and fast crawling eight-month-old baby from a long-term rental into our first home and, boy, did I get my ass kicked. For weeks, I felt crazed, because with packing and parenting competing for my attention, I wasn’t doing either very well. But you can learn from my mistakes, as well as the few things I actually did right. Here my top tips for a low stress move with little ones:

1. Pack Like You’re Going on a Trip – Gather everything you’d need for a weeklong vacation and stick it in a suitcase that goes in your car, not on the moving truck. That way, you’ll have a laundry cycle’s worth of clothes plus toiletries, medicines, gadgets and their chargers, and your kids’ favorite books, toys and lovies at the ready without having to search through boxes. Make sure to include any baby feeding supplies (bottles, bibs, infant spoons, etc.) I forgot to put sippy cups in my suitcase and even after unpacking six kitchen cartons, they were nowhere to be found. I’m assuming they’ll turn up around the time my kids start drinking from wine glasses.

2. Babyproof First – If you’re making a local move and/or have access to your new home before move-in day, there’s a lot you can do to prep the environment so that it’s safe and comfortable for kids. Before we even moved in, we covered the outlets, put safety locks on the cabinets and installed baby gates. When you’re trying to set up house and mother at the same time, it’s reassuring to know your toddler can’t run away from home while you’re looking the wrong way.

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3. Honor Mixed Feelings – My four-year-old, though initially excited about her new home, turned sullen when our moving date approached. “I’m going to miss our old house,” she moped. I could have responded, “Don’t be silly, the new house is so much bigger!” But she didn’t need me listing its amenities like a realtor—she needed me to acknowledge her real feelings of loss and displacement. We talked openly about the things we would both miss, like the flowering tree decal permanently adhered to her old bedroom wall. Taking some commemorative photos and videos helped.

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I Love the New “Junk in the Trunk” Barbie, But She Doesn’t Solve All My Body Image Issues

Major Barbie news out of Mattel this week–after decades of world domination, the Aryan goddess with the 16 inch waist will finally share her Dream House with buddies who are short, tall, curvy and ethnically diverse.  This is awesome.  Little girls should be able to play with dolls who look like themselves, or at least themselves in 10 years.

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Like many of us, I grew up dressing Barbies in glamorous gowns, cutting Barbie’s non-regrowable hair, and hosting naked orgiastic pool parties between my many Barbies and one Ken doll during bathtime.  What, you didn’t do that?  And though I loved Barbie, I also hated her.  She was perfect in every way, whereas I was a late bloomer with mousy hair.  I thought maybe after puberty I’d get that hourglass figure she promised me.  I’m still waiting.

I can’t blame Barbie for all my body image issues.  There was also a drawing book that scarred me for life.  I was a decent sketch artist growing up and had tons of “how to draw” books, covering everything from cartooning to cats. My favorite figure drawing book had a page that showed three supposedly typical girls, ages 5, 12 and 15, so that an artist could understand how female proportions change during childhood.  This page was my obsession.

See, the 12-year-old example had what they used to call bee sting boobs–little buds on their way to blossoming.  The 15-year-old had a rack like Marilyn Monroe.  And while I know that is true for plenty of girls, it was not true for me.  By the time I left for college, I was a passable 12-year-old, at least according to my drawing book.

Between Barbie and the book, I spent a great deal of time staring into the mirror and moping. If I could send a Barbie back in time to my tween self, I’d design”Built like a boy” Barbie.  Or maybe we could call her “No curves but you can always wear a belt” Barbie?  I think I just needed some reassurance that how I looked was okay.  And it was okay–I just didn’t know it yet.

Because what no one told me is that most girls don’t develop into perfect hourglasses.  That’s why the Playboy centerfold is such an attraction–it’s like a zoo where they keep a rare species.  Or it was (RIP, Playboy centerfold).  The other thing no one told me is that when I grew up, the guys I liked wouldn’t care about my body type.  Guys are really happy to have a woman smiling at them.  Especially a naked one.  Short, tall, curvy or straight up and down.  And besides, from what I hear, a real live Barbie is usually pretty high maintenance.

The irony is that decades later, I’m finally curvy.  That’s what making two babies will do to you.  Seriously, “Middle-aged nursing Barbie” would be a hot seller.  Get on it, Mattel.

I hope when they are old enough, my girls go through a Barbie phase, because Barbie is fun.  She likes tennis and fast cars and looks stylish whether she’s a veterinarian or President of the United States.  Maybe with more variety amongst the dolls, my girls won’t fixate on comparing themselves. Or maybe they will get boobs a lot earlier than I did.  And then God help us all.

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The “It” Holiday Present for Little Girls and Other Unicorn-Lovers

Momtastic asked me and my 4-year-old Viv to shoot some videos for Hasbro’s hot new toy, FurReal Friends Starlily My Magical Unicorn.

Girl-Mom-Starlily

Yeah, that’s a mouthful (especially for me to say in the commercial) but Starlily deserves her many names, because she does so many things, like eat sugarberries, whinny and coo, flutter her wings, change the color of her horn, respond to cuddling and even sing back to you.

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Viv loves her, and Baby Chloe does too.  I’m pretty sure Chloe thinks Starlily is our real, live family pet.

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But photos alone don’t do Starlily justice.  You’ve got to see her in action.

Viv and I had an amazing day on set, getting our hair done and feeling fancy.  We also met the other mother/daughter duo, Shauna & Averie, who are so cute togther.  (When you go to the link, Shauna and Averie’s two videos appear first, then ours run.)

Let me know what you think!

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