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If you find yourself constantly struggling to keep on top of the housework, then perhaps it’s time to simply let go. Follow this guide written by a stay-at-home dad, and you will be well on your way to creating a chaotic and messy house that will be the envy of all your friends (kids).

1 | Look at your team.

Assess everyone’s role and then understand that you are not the boss. Your child is the boss. You will be answerable to them during working hours and then they will report your performance to the boss of bosses when he or she arrives home from work. Do not let this worry you. By relinquishing the need for total control you are allowing yourself to relax a little. When rules are relaxed the possibilities for creative mess-making increase exponentially.

2 | Don’t think that this will be an easy ride.

To create a truly chaotic and messy living space takes effort. You will need to ensure that your kids are okay with what is about to happen and that they are fully on board. Tip: If you can get your partner to sign up to the experience then you will have a much easier time doing your work. However, in the more than likely event that your partner is not going to be as committed to this as you are, it may be best to keep your plans to just you and your team at this stage. Your partner will find out soon enough.

3 | Prepare mentally for the reaction of your other half when they first witness the chaos that has been unleashed on the household.

Tip: Phrases such as, “I know it’s messy darling, but the kids are having so much fun,” and “What would you rather, I spend all day cleaning and tidying while (insert name) stares at a screen, or that the kids have a really happy memorable childhood?” can be stored for later use and brought out whenever there is a look of bewildered disappointment on your partner’s face.

4 | Embrace mess.

“Children are messy, I can be messy, mess is not all that bad.” Repeat this mantra and your acceptance will lead to less stress – until your partner arrives home, (refer to tips at end of point 3 if need be).

5 | Resist getting riled.

At times the mess may become too much even for your high mess-threshold to handle.When you have had enough or need a time-out, keep calm. Shouting leads to sore throats, and children who remember you shouting. Develop a stare instead. Try raising both eyebrows whilst lowering your chin and staring at your child. If you catch your reflection whilst doing this, there is a strong possibility that you may laugh. Laughter is good, it will help you to realize that things aren’t as bad as they might seem and it will allow you to continue on your quest. Save the shouting for wild daytime parties.

6 | Have wild daytime parties.

Shut the curtains, crank up the stereo, and put on the disco lights. There is no better time to practice your moves than when you are a looking after the kids. Parties with your children really help to trash the venue. Cushions can be thrown, settees moved aside, outfits can be worn, old outfits can be left on the floor. Make sure snacks are involved, and if you can get some, pull the strings on as many party poppers as you can.

Tip: Remember to get the kids involved. As tempting as it is to do this one alone, it never looks good when your partner walks in and catches you doing the Locomotion whilst wearing an animal tail and a tiara. Kids provide the perfect excuse. Teach them how to strut their stuff and they, too, will be able to one day embarrass themselves on the dance floor.

7 | Get the kids involved in making dinner.

There’s no better way to make a mess in the kitchen than allowing your children to handle ingredients such as flour, eggs, couscous, and milk. Yes, the end result may not be Michelin star restaurant quality, and in fact it may be pretty bad, but your kids will love creating their culinary masterpieces.

Make sure that your kids practice good hygiene and wash their hands before starting on this one, however washing hands afterwards is entirely optional. Tip: Whilst sampling anything that has been made, use the stare developed in stage 5 above but nod your head and at the same time cover your mouth. With practice you will be able to use this to convey approval and simultaneously deposit chewed-up bits of food-like substances into your hand.

8 | Serve food in various locations throughout the house and allow your children to eat snacks that crumble whilst moving around.

Tip: Hide or disguise the trash can so that your children have the perfect excuse to discard wrappers and bits of leftover food wherever they like. If you take an artistic view and see your house as a collage that is made up of all the bits of stuff that aren’t where they are supposed to be, then you will be much happier and can be seen as positively encouraging creativity in your children.

9 | Invite your kid’s friends over to join in – the more the messier.

If you think your kids are messy, wait until you get more of them involved. You will truly experience mess on a whole new level. Other people’s children will love the carefully deconstructed environment that you have created. They will relish the chance to play without the conventional restraints normally placed upon their innate messy instincts.

Once they realize that you’re okay with them joining in, they will not only add to your mess, but also create a screaming, fast-moving, energetic form of chaos. Make sure, too, that junk food is the fuel of choice throughout the session, and your house will have never looked so rearranged.

Tip: If things are getting a bit too hectic and you need to restore some calm, then introduce a craft activity such as painting. If you have glitter available, now is a good time to get it out. On the other hand, if things are getting a bit too calm, then a good-natured water fight can really liven things up.

10 | If the house has become too messy and chaotic, move outside and get to work trashing the garden.

Things in the house will have a way of sorting themselves out eventually and tidiness will return, (or perhaps it’s your partner’s return that causes the tidiness to return. Who knows?). Regardless, the outdoors is always a great place to be. Whatever the weather, remember the wisdom of Alfred Wainwright: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”

Of course this assumes that you can find your clothing under the pile of washing that you have been meaning to get around to. Tip: To avoid creating a large pile of laundry, allow your children to just discard items of clothing all over the floor in the location that they are standing when they remove it. You will never have to look at another washing pile again as your laundry will now be nicely spread throughout the house.

11 | Apply the, ‘Don’t do today anything that can wait until tomorrow,’ rule to tidying up at the end of the night.

You’ve had a hard day. Of course it was fun, but you’ve put 100% of your time into ensuring that your kids grow up with happy memories. You make it seem effortless but it does require some effort. You need some time for yourself now.

Pick up the guitar, catch up on a box set, do something mind-numbing. Any tidying up can wait until tomorrow, unless of course you spend tomorrow creating as much chaos as today. Tip: The true pro gets the kids involved in the tidying, although results can vary. Expect random items placed in random places and furniture cleaned with paint applied by scouring sponges.

12 | Remind yourself regularly to enjoy your time.

This part of your life is a privilege and not just something to get on with. One day you will get back the tidy, uncluttered, clean house that you once had, and if you have served your time well, then you will really miss the chaotic mess that you and the team had so much fun creating.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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It's a conundrum many parents wrestle with: We don't want to lie to our kids, but when it comes to Santa, sometimes we're not exactly giving them the full truth either.

For Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard, lying to daughters Lincoln, 5, and Delta, 3 just isn't an option, so everyone in the Bell-Shepard household knows the truth about Santa.

"This is going to be very controversial," Shepard told Us Weekly earlier this month. "I have a fundamental rule that I will never lie to them, which is challenging at times. Our 5-year-old started asking questions like, 'Well, this doesn't make sense, and that doesn't make sense.' I'm like, 'You know what? This is just a fun thing we pretend while it's Christmas.'"

According to Shepard, this has not diminished the magic of Christmas in their home. "They love watching movies about Santa, they love talking about Santa," Shepard told Us. "They don't think he exists, but they're super happy and everything's fine."

Research indicates that Shepard is right—kids can be totally happy and into Christmas even after figuring out the truth and that most kids do start to untangle the Santa myth on their own, as Lincoln did.

Studies suggest that for many kids, the myth fades around age seven, but for some kids, it's sooner, and that's okay.

Writing for The Conversation, Kristen Dunfield, an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Concordia University, suggests that when kids come to parents with the hard questions about Santa, parents may feel a bit sad, but can take some comfort in "recognizing these challenging questions for what they are—cognitive development in action."

Kids aren't usually the ones who are upset when they figure it out, researchers note. Typically, kids are kind of proud of themselves for being such great detectives. It's the parents who feel sadness.

Some parents may not choose to be as blunt as Shepard, and that's okay, too. According to Dunfield, if you don't want to answer questions about Santa with 100% truth, you can answer a question with a question.

"If instead you want to let your child take the lead, you can simply direct the question back to them, allowing your child to come up with explanations for themselves: "I don't know, how do you think the sleigh flies?" Dunfield writes.

While Dax Shepard acknowledges that telling a 3-year-old that Santa is pretend might be controversial, he's hardly the first parent to present Santa this way. There are plenty of healthy, happy adults whose parents told them the truth.

LeAnne Shepard is one of them. Now a mother herself, LeAnne's parents clued her into the Santa myth early, for religious reasons that were common in her community.

"In the small Texas town where I grew up, I wasn't alone in my disbelief. Many parents, including mine, presented Santa Claus as a game that other families played," she previously wrote. "That approach allowed us to get a picture on Santa's lap, watch the Christmas classics, and enjoy all the holiday festivities so long as we remembered the actual reason for the season. It was much like when I visited Disney World and met Minnie Mouse; I was both over the moon excited and somewhat aware that she was not actually real."

No matter why you want to tell your children the truth about Santa, know that it's okay to let the kids know that he's pretend. Kristen Bell's kids prove that knowing the truth about Santa doesn't have to make Christmas any less exciting. Pretending can be magical, too.

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Last year my sons and I gave my wife the one thing every mom really wants every now and then: the absence of us.

We woke up that morning, kissed her on the cheek, and got out of dodge. Ten hours later we returned to find her eating carrot cake in a bathrobe and listening to podcasts.

Like so many dads when they do any solo-parenting, I posted a picture to Facebook. It got a big response, with more moms than I expected saying that's just what they wanted, too. I'm not an expert in presents or parenting, but consider this my recommendation to dads to make "taking the kids and leaving" this year's gift for moms—and a much bigger part of your regular life.

Don't get me wrong, we love my wife Kate. She's everyone's favorite family member. She's brilliant and funny and full of adventure. She's both the strongest person I know and the most caring. She's amazing at freeze dancing. She can name one million Pokemon. She knows instantly which injuries need Band-aids and which need kisses... and which, like me stabbing my hand trying to open a coconut with a kitchen knife, need the ER.

That's precisely why on her birthday we needed to get out of there. For a few hours Kate didn't have to do our emotional labor or be the default parent. No one asked her to make his brother return a toy or to check the tone in an email. She didn't have to perform appreciation for a breakfast in bed we would have made wrong. For one day, she didn't have to take care of anyone. It's embarrassing this is rare, but I admit in my family it is.

This brings up some big questions.

Why couldn't we have just stayed and taken care of her for a change? Did we really have to leave?

The answer is yes, at least for now. Our family's modes should include times when we're all around and Kate's not working, but they just don't.

When the kids need a Lego separated, it's her name they yell first down the stairs. If they're bored and looking to gin up some interaction, it's her lap they cannonball onto from the back of the couch. And that all goes for me, too, only without the Legos and cannonballs (mostly). That means whenever we're with Kate she has to be at some level of "on."

She shouldn't have to feel like the decision-maker, problem-solver, and nurturer in chief whenever she's in the same house as her husband and children, but she does. That means, for now, the quickest way to free her from that burden is just for us to get out that door.

That brings us to the biggest questions.

Does one day make a difference when there's such an everyday imbalance in the parenting load?

If Kate shoulders so much of the practical and emotional labor in our house that a day on her own can be a *literal* gift, what does that say about us?

It says a lot of things, but here's the main one: we need to change. If you'd asked us on our wedding day if our plan for raising a family was to divide the load unequally, we'd have both said "no way." But here we are.

So what do we do about it?

Well, the better question is what do I do about it. The problem is—I need to transform my share of the work around here. It can't be on Kate to solve that, too. That means I need to step up, to start doing much more not only of the caretaking and meal-planning and cooking, but the playdate-scheduling, doctor appointment-making, and child-life-organizing.

Leaving the house for one day doesn't turn me into a co-primary parent, but maybe it can be a jump-start. Sometimes the best way to begin changing habits is to create situations where those habits are impossible.

I might not have the strength to change our caretaking patterns when all four of us are together, but if it's just me and the boys with mom inaccessible, no one has another choice. The more days where I'm the primary parent, the more all four of us get accustomed to me in the role we're used to just having Mom in.

Kate might be superior to me in every aspect of parenting—which makes sense, given she's been practicing more than I have for eight years—but it's important to remember that a shared load is better for everyone. Of course it's better for her, but it's so much better for the boys, too. And it's better for me.

Our children are wonderful, hilarious and exquisite tiny humans. The focus on my 5-year-old's round face as he tries to make a card tower. The sound of my 7-year-old's boot cracking a puddle of ice as he walks to school. Pokemon. I miss all that when I'm not leaned forward as a parent.

And it's now or never. I've been a father for eight years. In 10 more, if we're lucky, our oldest will be in college. Childhoods go by fast. If don't become a better dad now, when will I?

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Breakfast is often said to be the most important meal of the day, but in many households, it's also the most hectic. Many parents rely on pre-prepared items to cut down on breakfast prep time, and if Jimmy Dean Heat 'n Serve Original Sausage Links are a breakfast hack in your home, you should check your bag.

More than 14 tons of the frozen sausage links are being recalled after consumers found bits of metal in their meat.

The United States Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced the recall of 23.4-oz. pouches of Jimmy Dean HEAT 'n SERVE Original SAUSAGE LINKS Made with Pork & Turkey with a 'Use By' date of January 31, 2019.

"The product bears case code A6382168, with a time stamp range of 11:58 through 01:49," the FSIS notes.

In a statement posted on its website, Jimmy Dean says "a few consumers contacted the company to say they had found small, string-like fragments of metal in the product. Though the fragments have been found in a very limited number of packages, out of an abundance of caution, CTI is recalling 29,028 pounds of product. Jimmy Dean is closely monitoring this recall and working with CTI to assure proper coordination with the USDA. No injuries have been reported with this recall."

Consumers should check their packages for "the establishment code M19085 or P19085, a 'use by' date of January 31, 2019 and a UPC number of '0-77900-36519-5'," the company says.

According to the FSIS, there have been five consumer complaints of metal pieces in the sausage links, and recalled packages should be thrown away.

If you purchased the recalled sausages and have questions you can call the Jimmy Dean customer service line at (855) 382-3101.

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Flying with a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old isn't easy under optimal conditions, and when the kids are tired and cranky, things become even harder.

Many parents are anxious when flying with kids for exactly this reason: If the kids get upset, we worry our fellow passengers will become upset with us, but mom of two Becca Kinsey has a story that proves there are more compassionate people out there than we might think.

In a Facebook post that has now gone viral, Kinsey explains how she was waiting for her flight back from Disney World with her two boys, Wyatt, 2, and James, 5, when things started to go wrong, and the first of three kind women committed an act of kindness that meant so much.

After having to run all over the airport because she'd lost her ID, Kinsey and her boys were in line for security and she was "on the verge of tears because Wyatt was screaming and James was exhausted. Out of the blue, one mom stops the line for security and says 'here, jump in front of me! I know how it is!'" Kinsey wrote in her Facebook post.

Within minutes, 2-year-old Wyatt was asleep on the airport floor. Kinsey was wondering how she would carry him and all the carry-ons when "another mom jumps out of her place in line and says 'hand me everything, I've got it.'"

When Kinsey thanked the second woman and the first who had given up her place in line they told her not to worry, that they were going to make sure she got on her flight.

"The second woman takes evvvverything and helps me get it through security and, on top of all that, she grabs all of it and walks us to the gate to make sure we get on the flight," Kinsey wrote.

Kinsey and her boys boarded, but the journey was hardly over. Wyatt wolk up and started "to scream" at take off, before finally falling back asleep. Kinsey was stressed out and needed a moment to breathe, but she couldn't put Wyatt down.

"After about 45 min, this angel comes to the back and says 'you look like you need a break' and holds Wyatt for the rest of the flight AND walks him all the way to baggage claim, hands him to [Kinsey's husband], hugs me and says "Merry Christmas!!" Kinsey wrote.


It's a beautiful story about women helping women, and it gets even better because when Kinsey's Facebook post started to go viral she updated it in the hopes of helping other parents take their kids to Disney and experience another form of stress-relief.

"What if everyone that shared the story went to Kidd's Kids and made a $5 donation?! Kidd's Kids take children with life-threatening and life-altering conditions on a 5 day trip to Disney World so they can have a chance to forget at least some of the day to day stressors and get to experience a little magic!!"

As of this writing, Kinsey has raised more than $2,000 for Kidd's Kids and has probably inspired a few people to be kind the next time they see a parent struggling in public.

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