Parenting through a Pandemic

Show Notes

Why relaxing the rules can actually bring some much needed peace and harmony
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Audio Transcription

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
Hi, and welcome back to CEO-ish. This is Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets: and it has been a minute. A really long minute. In the last six weeks, since we have been with you, the world has turned upside down and then right side up and then upside down, again. Actually, I don’t know that it ever turned right side up during the last six weeks, but it has been crazy in every way. There are no words to be able to describe the last six weeks for our country and this world, and we are still going through it. But with God’s grace, we are walking out each and every day. My desire over the last six weeks would have been to continue to create podcast each week, yet it was all hands on deck every moment of every day. And so today is May the fifth and we are just now able to breathe for a moment.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
And we are going to attempt to get back into the groove of CEO-ish. And we are thrilled to be back. Kelly Smith will be with me the next time, but she is getting her hair done today. And thank goodness, because it is about time that she got her hair done. I think it had been 10 weeks before we went into quarantine that she got her hair done. So you can imagine 16 weeks. She was unrecognizable. She doesn’t listen to podcasts anyhow, so she’ll never hear this. Actually Kelly’s hair has never looked better. She’s adorable always, but I’m thrilled for her that she gets to sit in a chair for an hour and get her head massaged. So today we’re going to do one of my very favorite things. Something that has kept me going over the last six weeks. And that is talk to my mom, Judy Riemer.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
In Proverbs 19:20, it says, “Listen to advice and accept instruction that you may gain wisdom in the future.” And the one person I can go to, for any question is my mom, because she’ll give you the practical wisdom that she has gained, and she tucks it somewhere into all of her pockets. So at any moment, when you call her for any question, it could be from organizing your closets to a question that you’ve always wondered about God. My mom, somewhere in one of her many, many pockets, will pull something out. And if she doesn’t know it, she knows where to direct you for the answer. And so during quarantine, in our home, it has run the gamut from the girls having a lovefest with each other in the beginning of quarantine to the end of, “I can’t stand the sight of you at the moment, please leave my room and the home while you’re at it.”

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
It goes in cycles. And the preparing of meals for four people who nobody likes the same thing. And just when you think you were on top of it, everything seems to fall out. And so my mom, because she had four children and has been through this, I thought today would be a great day because many of us are still in quarantine and still going through all of the emotions, of dealing with the highs and the lows of family and being in close quarters with each other, and not having anywhere to go, but to each other. So here we go. Let’s call Judy Riemer.

Judy Riemer:
Hello.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
Hi mama.

Judy Riemer:
Hey.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
How are you?

Judy Riemer:
I’m good. How are you doing?

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
I’m good. How’s your Monday afternoon?

Judy Riemer:
Oh, busy reading and just relaxing today.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
Yeah.

Judy Riemer:
How’s yours?

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
The opposite.

Judy Riemer:
Okay. Oh, I’m glad I’m not in your shoes today then.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
I would like to be relaxing with you for just a moment. So mom, I would like to talk to you today about something that you are, I believe an expert in. Let me ask you this because a lot of moms have been home during quarantine with their children, and there’s been maybe some amazing game nights that they have had.

Judy Riemer:
Jill, I know great game that Sandy’s playing. It’s High Low Buffalo. Do you know about that?

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
No. Tell me about High Low Buffalo.

Judy Riemer:
Okay. High Low Buffalo. A lot of people are finding that this is a great way to have conversations, at the dinner table during this time with family. Some people who are separated from children or grandchildren, they’re doing it on Zoom or FaceTime, whatever. High Low Buffalo. And you ask each person in the family, “What was your number one high for today?” And then everybody shares “What was the high about my day?” And then you ask, “What was the low of your day?” And you would share, ask the children to share or grandchildren, whoever’s in your family. “What was your low today? Was there something that upset you today?” And everyone shares that. Pardon me?

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
Where does the Buffalo come in?

Judy Riemer:
Buffalo is sharing something random, something that’s interesting, but it is random. And that’s the Buffalo. You just ask everybody, “Is there something you want to tell us that is not a high or low, but what was interesting to you.”

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
Let me tell you how that conversation would work around my dinner table. Okay?

Judy Riemer:
Okay.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
One of the girls would say to the other one, “My high was every moment that I didn’t have to spend with you. My low was sitting here at dinner with you and Buffalo is that your breath smells.”

Judy Riemer:
All right.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
That’s how High Low Buffalo would go in my house. Just, or maybe in the last week, after six weeks of every moment of every day being them being together. And it would, I don’t know, in the foreseeable future, when the lovefest will be coming back.

Judy Riemer:
And possibly let them just be honest, don’t try to shut them down and say, “Why did it change from what it would have been before quarantine?” And then maybe by you sharing something that’s positive and Terry sharing something that’s positive. Being an example that you found something that is uplifting, that made people in the family feel happy. But we were a game playing family. I would say if I had all of you home, that board games would be very much a part of what we would do during quarantine because they last long. I mean, if people only have three year olds, it’s playing Sugarland, something like that. But Monopoly lasts a long time, teaching new card games. That’s what I would be doing with children. And then there would definitely be a time of reading, absolutely reading.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
Just first of all, is Sugarland, the same game as Candyland?

Judy Riemer:
Candyland.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
Yeah.

Judy Riemer:
Yeah. Well, I love to play games. And Johnny’s family they’re big game players.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
Oh Johnny’s family.

Judy Riemer:
Yeah. And so I see how that pulls family together. I think that’s one of the wisest things to do, playing games together. I remember when I was at your home a couple of years ago, I forget which game it was.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
It was Apples to Apples.

Judy Riemer:
Yes. Yes. Apples to Apples. And we all sat down and played. And the dynamics of the family changed. We all really enjoyed it. We enjoyed one another. There was laughter. It took some thought. And I saw something happening that I thought was really, really healthy. So I’m very much into family game time.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
Do you make your children do that? Because there’s so much more in this decade that competes with what we used to be able to do back in 1970, that now you’re competing with all the electronics and all the programs. This day and age, would you say, “Everything’s getting turned off. We are sitting down and playing a game.”

Judy Riemer:
Absolutely. I remember one time when dad and I put the TV in the closet.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
Yeah.

Judy Riemer:
Do you remember that?

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
Yeah. Because I’d come home and dad would be inside the closet watching TV.

Judy Riemer:
But I would absolutely say, “This is what we’re going to do. We are going to have a family time of playing game.” And the interesting thing is, even people that say they don’t like games.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
Right.

Judy Riemer:
I have seen people that say they don’t like games. And then New Year’s Eve with couples, a couple men they say. But they wind up having a wonderful, wonderful time. And there’s always laughter, which is so good in the family. So that would be a number one thing that they don’t have a choice that, “We are going, this won’t last long. It’s not going to use up your whole day. But we’re going to have a game time.” It could be cards. It could be teaching the children… I remember from the time your children were little, I taught them how to play war and how to play fish. At least they knew, “When Grandma comes, we’re going to play war. We’re going to…” And then I taught them how to play fish when they were maybe five years old.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
So mom, first of all, that is such great advice that, a lot of times we let our children dictate what we’re going to do and where… and when we say, “Let’s play games,” they look at us like we’re crazy because they’re doing a million different things that have nothing to do with family night or playing games. And so unless you get into the habit of doing it, they think you’re crazy when you suggest it. So I think you don’t give them the option. You just say, “We’re going to have a family game night.” And you just do it. And they’ll realize afterwards that it was good for them, much like eating vegetables. Which leads me to my next topic of eating. Because eating has looked a little different over the last six weeks. And it’s no fun cooking four different meals each night.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
But what did you do with your children? You had four of them. What did you do? There’s no way all four of us liked the same meal every night. I need some tips and I would love for our listeners to have tips when you have a family of people and it’s very abnormal for all of them to like the same meal. What advice could you offer for those families? So they don’t have to make three or four different meals each night.

Judy Riemer:
Well, we were pretty strict or I was. Because dad ate nothing green. But we were pretty strict. When you were going to eat something of what was on your plate or you’re going to bed. And my mother did that. I could not stand salmon cakes. I still, to this day. Salmon cakes, I remember her sending me up to my bedroom, in my pajamas, at six o’clock daylight saving time. All the other kids were playing outside. I could them in my window, if I didn’t eat salmon cakes or creamed corn. Those two things still today, I can’t. So with you raising your children, you either ate some of what was on that plate or you were sent to bed. And do you remember, or I remember and dad, if he were here will remember, how the four of you handled being forced to eat string beans.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
Tell me.

Judy Riemer:
And each one of you is different. You were the one, you were the people pleaser. You wanted everybody to be happy. You didn’t want to disappoint me. You didn’t want to disappoint dad. So, you would put this couple of string beans in your mouth, and you would choke and choke and choke and cough and cough. But you wanted to please me. And so you would do it, but it nauseated you. But you would choke, but you would finally swallow. So you were obedient. And then had Johnny.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
Johnny, your favorite.

Judy Riemer:
Who would put a couple of string beans in his mouth, and then he would cough into his napkin and the string beans would be in his napkin. And he would put the string beans in his pocket.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
In his pocket.

Judy Riemer:
And I wouldn’t know it. I think that is eaten them. But because he started coughing, he coughed into his napkin. And then-

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
Johnny, the deceiver. Johnny that’s still the people pleaser, Johnny, the deceiver. Okay. Continue.

Judy Riemer:
Okay. And then we had Lark who said he had to go to the bathroom. So we would see him put string beans in his mouth as if he were going to eat them and all of a sudden he had to run to the bathroom. And then he’d get rid of the string beans.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
He’s a smart one.

Judy Riemer:
Pardon me?

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
That’s a smart move.

Judy Riemer:
Yes. And then we are left with Jeff.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
Jeff.

Judy Riemer:
I used to remember what Jeff would do, about the string beans. One of you will-

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
I know what did he did. I know what he did.

Judy Riemer:
What did you do?

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
Jeff would cut them up and move them around his plate in such a way.

Judy Riemer:
Yes.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
That made it look like they were eaten, but they were hidden under the potatoes or something like that.

Judy Riemer:
Yes, yes. He would organize them. Right.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
He would organize the string beans.

Judy Riemer:
Perfect. He would absolutely organize them. And then dad, dad would eat nothing green. And so I would hide the peas and string beans and broccoli in casseroles. Just hide it in the casseroles and I would serve it. And dad would go through the casserole on his plate, and shove anything green out of the casserole over the side of the plate. And I always blamed dad for ruining my children.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
How did you cook dinner? How did you not dread cooking every night for your family, when you had four kids who did not eat well?

Judy Riemer:
It was awful. I used to cry. I would cry because I wanted to be able to serve meals that people ate. And you didn’t like tomatoes and the other child like tomatoes, but he wouldn’t eat the cucumbers. Another child ate cucumbers, but he would need the celery. And so I’d have to, I mean, it was horrible feeding the five of you, four children and dad, was probably one of the worst parts of my marriage, of raising children. I tried so hard. And then everybody liked sweets. So I would have to lock, Johnny remembers, is the pantry. I had a lock on the door knob with a key.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
Yeah. Yeah. I remember.

Judy Riemer:
And then I would hide the sweets in my drawer, in my underwear drawer, from you. But Mark and Johnny had found them, they went looking. And so-

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
In your underwear drawer.

Judy Riemer:
Everybody was addicted to sweets as dad was, as I was.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
Do you know why we were addicted to sweets mom? Because we had a mom who locked Oreos in the closet and hid the key. Who wouldn’t be addicted to the thing that somebody was locking away, that most children had in a cookie jar on their counter?

Judy Riemer:
Because everybody would binge on the cookies.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
Not if you left it out for us to have, then it wouldn’t seem so forbidden. The forbidden is what we craved. And you now have four children who want to do nothing, but eat sugar and ice cream and candy all day long because you locked it in the closet. And I don’t know who to talk to about this.

Judy Riemer:
But when it was in the cookie jar, you all, because you didn’t eat your good food, the healthy food, you all were in the cookie jar. What should I do?

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
30 years later, hindsight. What would you do differently? And what would you advise people who have the same family that you have?

Judy Riemer:
I think I did everything perfectly. I would not change anything that I did.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
The humility is just, I mean.

Judy Riemer:
It is amazing. I would still send you to your rooms. I would still make you eat something-

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
Mom, you allowed each one of the children to pick one food that we did not have to eat. And when we were exempt from eating that at dinner, if that was ever served. Do you remember the food that I was exempt from? I’ll give you a bonus if you do.

Judy Riemer:
I don’t remember.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
It was coleslaw.

Judy Riemer:
Coleslaw.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
Coleslaw or red beets. To which I would say, “What mother is serving weekly to her four kids and husband, not one of them liked coleslaw and not one of them ate red beets.” If you know that all five, all five, don’t want to eat a food that stains your finger, and you can not even get it off no matter how hard you scrub. And coleslaw, you don’t know what’s hidden in coleslaw. The smell of it alone will make you dry heave. Why would you put your family through something like that? See, I learned the hard way about what not to do. Coleslaw has never entered our house.

Judy Riemer:
Coleslaw is great because of fiber.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
There’s fiber of cookies that people can… I can fly on an airplane, they give me fiber cookies, but coleslaw-

Judy Riemer:
I think you’re right. No coleslaw, no beets, iPhones at dinner. But see, my mother served liver and beets and coleslaw. And I was such a much better eater than the rest of you. And so I couldn’t understand, why you all had such… other than you got it from your dad. He was a terribly picky eater. And I didn’t realize that that was passed on.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
But do you know to this day I crave Little Debbie snacks, like nothing else, because it was taken away from me when I was 10 years old.

Judy Riemer:
Well, you know what? During those years, I was totally into addicted to, eating healthy foods and serving my family, natural, organic, healthy foods. I remember that I was so concerned that if I didn’t feed you right, that it would be terrible for your health. My heart is clean because my intention was, for our family to eat in a healthy way. And it didn’t go over, but it would be very hard for me to just give that up and go, “Oh, well, I’ll just give them, just spaghetti every night.”

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
You might not say this to all the moms that are in quarantine, but I would say, “You have to pick your battle.”

Judy Riemer:
Well, in hindsight, it’s easy to go back and see a whole lot. But when you’re in the middle of something and you’ve never parented before-

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
Yeah. I get it.

Judy Riemer:
Do you get that? I had never parented before. And I knew I wanted to do what was right by my children and what was right, was training them to eat right. And it didn’t work. But now some of you are eating things that you wouldn’t when you were younger. So you changed your eating habits, not because you were forced, but just because you began… it’s like years ago, I wouldn’t have eaten sushi. And now I love it.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
So parting words of wisdom, mom, for all the moms who are in quarantine with their children, who are either bickering or who will not eat what is put before them or who don’t want to go to bed. But at this point, what would you say to all these moms?

Judy Riemer:
Because I’m older now, I’d say to loosen up some of the rules that you had when everything was normal, because it’s not easy for anybody what’s going on. And I would say loosen up. But just let the family know, “We’re loosening up a little bit here. But once everything goes back to normal, the rules that we had before will be in place.” So I think that’s what I would do rather than having to deal 24/7 with bickering and arguing. And everybody bends differently, that’s what’s so hard about everyone being together, 24/7. We have different temperaments, different personalities. I always say there’s the four ways of doing things. If I gave you something to do, would you do it the right way? The fun way? The easy way? Or your way? So if you ask people that, you will find out what their temperament is. And here you have people living together, when they do things, someone will do it the fun way.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
Yeah.

Judy Riemer:
That was you. Someone to do it the right way, that was me. Someone to do it the easy way, that was dad. Someone to do it their way, and that might’ve been Mark or Jeff.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
Well mom, you know what I would say in response to all of that, I would go back to the one question that you have asked me, anytime I call you and ask you for advice, “What eternal significance does this have?”

Judy Riemer:
Oh, definitely. Yes. Does it have major importance, eternal significance in your life, to weigh it that way?

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
If only you would have asked that back at dinner time.

Judy Riemer:
Right.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
1975.

Judy Riemer:
In five years from now and 10 years from now, will it really matter whether you ate the beets or not?

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
I know. Why didn’t we do that back then? Where was the eternal significance question back then? It would have changed my life.

Judy Riemer:
We only learn things little by little and not at once. And so that’s what it is. We learn little by little, line upon line, precept upon precept, step by step. And we don’t learn everything all at once on how to parent, or how to be a wife or a good husband. It takes years. And then that’s why older people, the Bible says to go to the older people and ask questions, because they have a deposit in them of living for so many years, they’ve been through so many experiences, so many struggles and joys. What have they gained from them? What did they learn? And so that’s probably why I say, “Will it have eternal significance?”

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
But you still would have made us eat all those things, because you still would have wanted the very best for us.

Judy Riemer:
Well, now I would not care whether you ate the-

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
I’m 50 now.

Judy Riemer:
Salmon cakes, or whether you ate the cream corn or ate that. But smoothies, see there was no such thing as smoothies then. Protein drinks, no such thing. Now, oh, my. I would be so different because if I could get you all to do one protein drink a day, with all the protein in it, with some of the green powder hidden in it, you wouldn’t even know that. And the fruit in it, and the almond milk. Oh, I would have loosened up on everything else. [crosstalk 00:25:36].

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
But you can’t ask that question, what eternal significance does this have? When you’re trying to get your child to eat something green. You still have to move forward with feeding your children, in the way that’s right by your children. And they can’t use the question. “Mom, what eternal significance does this have actually?”

Judy Riemer:
Well, it has to do with your health in the future though. Many people it’s, “Live, eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” So it’s hard to convince children, 20 years from now it’s going to matter, that you didn’t eat any green vegetables or fruits.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
Yeah. Well, I have an appointment at Krispy Kreme in about 10 minutes.

Judy Riemer:
Okay. Great.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
So, thank you mom, for all the wisdom.

Judy Riemer:
Okay. I’m going to go eat some chocolate chips right now.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
I’m going to eat some donuts. I love you. You’re the very best mom.

Judy Riemer:
Okay. I love you.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
Okay.

Judy Riemer:
Okay. Bye.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
Thanks. Bye bye. I love listening to my mom’s stories about how strict she was with us. And she never let up. I mean, until the day we left for college, all of us, we were still eating beets and coleslaw. And I love these stories because everything that my mom did, to adhere to her desire for us to eat well and to play board games and to go to bed at seven o’clock, when all of our friends were outside playing until 9:30. All of these things, my children should call Grandma and [inaudible 00:27:01]. It is because what Grandma has done to us, is why I have swung the complete opposite. Ireland and Peanut, it is why you go to bed at 4:30. And is why you are fed Oreos for dinner. And oatmeal cookie pies for breakfast. Because Grandma Judy locked them in the closet.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
So thank you Grandma, for all of the strictness that you put on me and your children, because we then in turn have created a beautiful, amazing free life for our children, who can go to bed at any hour of the night, eat anything they want, never have to read a book and never have to play a board game. Here’s the beautiful thing about this. My grandchildren are going to be the healthiest, most disciplined, bed at eight o’clock, best reader. So, they will then turn around and thank me. I suppose you could call this podcast. Thank you, Grandma. It is always great fun to talk to my mom. And please no judgment that I have allowed my children, during this period to go to bed at four o’clock. It is what it is. We pretend sometimes that they are living in London and there has been a time change because that’s what it feels like at my home.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
I hope you got as much out of that conversation as I did. The things that we think are so very, very important at the moment. Like shoving string beans down your children’s throats, are not always the things that matter. The things that matter are just the time spent together. And now that my mom was off the phone, frankly, I never liked the board games that my family played. We played Life. And as a six year old, that was a very complicated game. And all I wanted to do when we played Life was spin the wheel. But my parents thought we loved board games. And I always thought it was B-O-R-E-D, because I was so very bored playing these games. And therefore it’s sad because I don’t want to play board games with my children. I want to play… do all kinds of crafts, but I don’t love playing board games.

Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff Bracelets::
And I feel really, really guilty saying that to millions of you listening, thousands of you, hundreds. The five of you that are listening, I feel really guilty saying I don’t like board games, but we never played the kind of board games maybe that would get me addicted to board games. So mom, I don’t know if you’ll ever listen to this or not, but thank you for the attempt to get your children to fall in love with board games. You gave me a love for all things creative, and I hope that I have transferred that to my children, for their love of creating and crafts. Mom, thank you for being with us today. I love you and thank you all for listening to CEO-ish. If you have enjoyed this, please feel free to like and subscribe and comment. And I look forward to seeing you next time with Kelly Smith on CEO-ish.