Blog Posts by Erin Zammett Ruddy

  • The Parenting Experiment That Saved My Sanity

    (Thinkstock Photos)I’m not a fan of letting my kids watch a lot of television or play endless video games. We have an iPad and more TVs than I care to admit so I’m certainly not anti, but we’ve always tried to limit screen time. Then we had a third child. Add to that the winter that wouldn’t quit and more and more technology seeped into our routine. Before I knew it, my older kids (6 and 4) were like addicted little zombies constantly asking to play/watch/touch. They would put the TV on without asking. I’d find them hiding behind the couch with the iPad. They tried to snatch our iPhones from our hands and when they’d be Skyping with my in-laws on the iPad, my son would flip the screen to sneak in a little Minecraft.

    It wasn’t that they were glued to these things 24/7 (they weren’t), it’s that they came to expect the screen time rather than view it as a treat. I worried they had become so dependent that we couldn’t go back. Because I’d become dependent too — when you’re juggling three young kids and a

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  • The Stranger Comment That Makes Me Cringe

    Photo: Getty ImagesThere are a lot of things strangers say to parents that come off as judgy, meddling or just plain stupid. The worst, of course: When are you due? When you are not, in fact, due … ever. (Been there and not wanting to be there again is the number one reason I’m attempting sit-ups these days.). But another cringe-worthy question has been coming up for me a lot lately and I want to discuss. Here’s what I’m talking about:

    I was on the security line at the airport with my four-month-old baby in the Bjorn and a friendly woman started chatting us up …

    Friendly woman: “Oh, he’s so cute. Look at his eyes! What a big boy. How old is he? He’s soooo smiley. I love his boots!”

    I smiled and nodded and answered all of her questions. We kept chatting. She told me about her grandson and how he isn’t as big as my boy yet and finally, about five minutes in, it happened…

    Friendly woman: “So, what’s his name?”

    Me: “Um, well, actually…she’s a girl and her name is Molly.”

    Then this poor woman back-peddled and

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  • The Mom Move I Never Thought I’d Make

    Photo: Erin Zammett RuddyYesterday morning I rolled into Dunkin' Donuts with my 4-year-old daughter who had just rolled out of bed — and looked like it. She was still in her nightgown, bare-legged, hair an unruly mess, giant red rain boots covering her sockless feet (we couldn't find her sneakers, naturally). To say she looked like a ragamuffin is putting it kindly. She doesn’t get bed head, she gets bed dreadlocks and they were in full effect because, well, hair brushing is way too strenuous an activity to attempt before 9 a.m. Fortunately, I was wearing actual clothes.

    Still, I never would have thought I'd be the kind of mom who would leave the house with disheveled kids in tow. In my pre-kid days I probably would have judged any parent who stepped out like that. I mean, how hard can it be to get everyone dressed in the morning? (Um, turns out it can be very hard some days, am I right?) But there I was. And you know what? I didn’t care.

    If she was my first kid, I would have been embarrassed to have her in

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  • Five Phrases I Never Want My Kids to Say

    (Photo: Emely/Corbis)The other night I heard something very disturbing come out of my 4-year-old daughter’s mouth. It wasn’t a four-lettered word beginning with F (been there, said that), it wasn’t inappropriate enough to get her thrown out of pre-K, but it was jarring nonetheless. The offending phrase: tennis shoes. Oh, the horror!

    You see, I am from New York, and we currently live in New York, but my husband is from Michigan so certain Midwestern phrases and pronunciations have made their way into our home. And I’ve had to correct them, obviously. For example, my name is Ehr-in, not Ear-in; we drink Ar-ange juice not Oar-ange juice, and we wear sneakers, not tennis shoes. Call it regional dialect pride or linguistic snobbery, but I like the way we say things here. And, like most people, I think our way is the right way. (Check out this awesome map of all the different ways people speak in the U.S.)

    I was raised on the north shore of Long Island, then went to the University of Tennessee for college (let’s

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  • How Lebron James is Making My Life as a Mom Harder

    photo: McDonald's commercialAs the parent of a 6-year-old, I’m constantly fielding questions I have a tough time answering. What are eyeballs made of? Why can’t I live with you forever? But how do babies get in your belly? The latest: “Does Lebron James really eat McDonald’s?!”

    We’ve been watching a lot of March Madness at our house, so my son has caught a few glimpses of the fast food chain's commercial starring Lebron James. In it, James joins some secret McDonald’s club (password: special sauce) where Johnny Manziel and other top athletes are members. They all have the privilege of eating the new Bacon Clubhouse Sandwich, a burger topped with cheese, bacon, onions, and more. Why I’m not loving it: My son is obsessed with Lebron James and totally confused by the fact that he would be singing the praises of fast food, which I’ve always told him is not healthy. “Isn't Lebron James the strongest, most healthiest man in the world, Mom? How come he's eating that?!"

    My son is really into sports, so we talk a lot about

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  • Four '80s Movies Kids Today Totally Need to See

    Having little kids is great for so many reasons. One of the best: You get to relive your own childhood and watch movies from that childhood. My kids are 6 and a half, 4, and 4 months old, so they’re not quite ready for "Police Academy" or "Weird Science" or "Summer Rental" (my all-time fave) but there are some more age-appropriate flicks in my mental queue that my older one would definitely appreciate soon. And my husband and I would, too. We don’t watch a ton of TV, but every once in a while a family movie night is just what the doctor ordered. And there’s only so much Pixar animation an adult can handle, right?

    Over Christmas we watched "A Christmas Story" and "Home Alone" with the kids for the first time. It was one of the highlights of the holiday season, though it did backfire a little when my 4-year-old daughter started saying “I’m gonna give you till the count of 10 to get your ugly, yella, no good keister off my property before I pump your guts full of lead. 1, 2, 10….”

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  • The Secret Joys of Being a Mom

    Photo: GettyThis isn’t a post about baby giggles or exciting firsts or even that well-deserved glass of wine at the end of the day. Plenty is written about those parenting perks. Today I want to talk about an underexploited joy of motherhood: How we learn to enjoy the hell out of some seriously mundane crap when we actually get to do it alone.

    It may sound a little sad but it’s true. Once you have kids, something as simple as food shopping solo becomes like a day at the spa. Tooling around Target? Yes, please! A wait at the doc’s office? No problem, pass that Bon Appetit magazine from 2012. Airport delay? Four words: Book and Bloody Mary. Moms enjoy actually enjoyable things too but this ability to find bliss in the previously blissless is a great side effect of motherhood. Maybe a superpower, even.

    I was with a few stay-at-home mom friends the other day and one told us she had just been selected to report for jury duty. We all groaned for her, but then I recalled my own recent jury duty

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  • A New Drug Could Save This Boy’s Life — But He Can’t Get it

    Photo: The Dunne FamilyMeet Ryan Dunne, a Colorado 9-year-old who loves to read, paint, play with his friends and dance. In a few years, he will be confined to a wheelchair.

    When Ryan was 3, he was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a genetic disorder that causes progressive muscular degeneration. “Ryan’s muscles have basically been breaking down since the day he was born,” says Ryan’s father Chris Dunne. Kids with DMD (it mostly affects boys) usually end up in wheelchairs by age 11 and, thanks to the loss of lung and heart functions, don’t often live past early adulthood. “Every day that goes by I watch my son get weaker and weaker,” says Dunne. “He can’t climb stairs anymore, he can’t play sports with his friends anymore or ride the school bus.” Indeed, it is a heartbreaking condition with very little hope for the future — until now.

    For the first time ever, there’s a promising new DMD drug under investigation. In early trials Sarepta Pharmaceuticals found that the drug — called eteplirsen —

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  • The Sad Side Effect For Kids With Food Allergies

    Photo: Getty ImagesMy six-year-old son is severely allergic to peanuts, a discovery we made when he was just 13 months old. We’ve managed the allergy well over the years and it’s gotten easier lately since he can now advocate for himself. "Does it have peanuts in it?" comes out of his mouth before anything new goes in. But something else has set in recently that I didn’t anticipate: Anxiety.

    Alex has had two peanut-related panic attacks in the past two weeks. It is heartbreaking to witness and, as I learned, completely normal: "You never see anxiety like this in younger kids but once they get to four or five years old, they start to develop logical thinking," says Mark L. Goldstein, Ph.D., a Chicago-based clinical psychologist and author of "Chronic Disorders in Children and Adolescents." "They can put two and two together and realize there is something very scary going on.” Scary as in they can die from something they eat. 

    The first episode happened in my mom’s car after I’d eaten a piece of chocolate

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  • Do Kids Really Belong In Nice Restaurants?

    (Photo: Thinkstock)On Sunday night my sisters and I almost took five little kids out to dinner at a linen table-clothed restaurant. We had been at a parade all day so none of us felt like cooking but we were starving and figured it would be a nice treat to go out together.

    The place we were headed is around the corner from my house. They have a $7 children’s menu, coloring stuff and plenty of high chairs, but it is fairly upscale. And by the time we got our crew into the cars, it was nearly 7 p.m. (daylight savings threw us off). The whining and teasing began immediately and it hit me that this was a terrible idea that would result in a stressful eating experience—not just for us, but for the other restaurant patrons. And so I put the kibosh on the plan and we headed back into my house to order takeout.

    My sisters didn’t necessarily agree with me but they know I am hyper-aware of my kids (and by extension any kids at my table) annoying other people in restaurants. And given how late it was, they

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