Episode #22: Parenting Tips and Tricks

This week’s episode is our first deep dive into parenting, the challenges we face as parents, and how we overcome them.  On today’s Show, Mika is taking her first foray into answering some listener questions about the ways that she and Russ approach parenting. Many of these questions revolve around their roles as parents,...

On today’s Show, Mika is taking her first foray into answering some listener questions about the ways that she and Russ approach parenting.

Many of these questions revolve around their roles as parents, how they interact with their children and their day-to-day life as a family of five.

You’ll also hear about a few of their own unique experiences from the 13 years they have spent as parents, as well as some practical tips and tricks on how to manage your own little ones.

In this episode, you will learn:

• Some of the struggles that can come with putting younger children to sleep.
• How we handle discipline and what to do to avoid yelling at your children.
• Tricks for organizing clothing storage for kids.
• An update on the way that our children have responded to screen time limitations.

Mentioned in this episode:
Russ Perry on Instagram
Mika Perry on Instagram
The Sober Entrepreneur by Russ Perry
The Russ Perry Show
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth M.D.
Here’s How to Stop Yelling at Your Kids, Once and for All
Kids Slimline Hangers
Endless Alphabet
4 Things I’ve Learned Being “Stepmom” –


Russ Perry: I’m Russ Perry.

Mika Perry: And I’m Mika Perry. You’re listening to Good To Be Home.

Russ Perry: Good to be home is a weekly exploration of entrepreneurship, family, marriage, sobriety and how we balance our business and life.

Mika Perry: From our family to yours, thanks for joining us, and welcome to our home.

Mika: Perry: Hi guys, it’s Mika. Welcome to an episode of Good To Be Home. Today I am here to talk to you about parenting. While Russ is an amazing, amazing dad, in fact, he’s better than I am in many parenting ways, I am here to talk to you solo today, and address some questions we’ve gotten about parenting. Our roles as parents, our kids, our day to day as a family of five, and share some tips and tricks, and some experiences that we’ve had in our 13 years as mom and dad.

First, before I go into the questions and the answers, I wanted to address our background. Give you an idea of our family, who’s in it, how old they are, what our daily schedule is like. We have three daughters: Paige, Reese, and Maddox. Maddox is 13. She’s in 8th grade. She is my stepdaughter and Russ’s daughter. He had her when he was 22, never married. He was a senior in college, and I have known Maddie since she was 15 months old, when we started dating. That’s Maddie. We have Reese, she is six, and she is in first grade. Then we have Paige, who is two, she’ll be three next month, and she is in preschool. We have our three girls.

As far as a daily schedule, all three girls are in school this year. Paige goes to a preschool. She goes at Monday through Friday, and I really like it because she goes to a school that has a pretty flexible pickup and drop off schedule, but they have curriculum in the middle and in the morning up until lunchtime. She still naps at school, so she won’t nap at home anymore, but she will nap at school. That’s how I get her to nap. It’s really nice because I think being two, three, she still needs it.

Reese is in first grade. She started a new school this year. She’s in a charter school. A charter school is a classical academy, and so the curriculum is a little bit different from last year, but she’s learning, you may be familiar if you’re a parent, Spalding and Singapore Math. So far I really like the curriculum.

Maddie is in 8th grade. She is at our neighborhood, and she is in a K-8 school. Next year she will be going into high school, and you guys, we are stressed out about that decision. I shouldn’t say stressed, but I think Maddie is the most stressed about this decision, and we just had a conversation, in fact, the other night about her wanting to go to this one school because of all of her friends are going there next year, and then Russ and I have our own beliefs about where we’d like her to go next year. What’s great, and we’re thankful for, is that we have options, and that’s what we were trying to convey to her, but the downside of that is then we have this conversation about what will be the best place. Right now, with her we’re in the let’s go tour all the schools, take into consideration her wishes, but at the end of the day, it is our decision. We’re her parents.

We do, I should mention, she has her mom, so I should have told you guys. She shares time between our house and her house. We’re 50/50 custody, and she spends one week here, one week there, and back again. Obviously, we would consult and consider her mom’s wishes as well. She lives in Scottsdale, and is nearby, so that makes it very easy. She has basically three parents. Trying to figure out her high school and future career for her right now.

With schedules comes routines, and with routines comes night routines, and that is a question I’ve gotten many times when I’m asked about parenting, or whenever I’ve talked about it, is, “What is your guys’ nighttime routine?” I think especially when you have younger kids, it is a struggle. It is hard to get those kids to bed, to have them follow a proper routine, and baby sleep. There’s so many different informations and ways to do it out there, that I think it can be overwhelming for a mother and a father. For us, I had a really easy time with Maddie. I stepped in at 15 months with her, so I didn’t have any baby experience until we had Reese. Maddie’s always been a great sleeper, and just an easygoing kid, so we just could naturally ease into a routine with her, and she’d go with it.

Now, with Reese, I remember around month three or four is when I started to sleep train, and I did do sleep training with her. I read a book, gosh I can’t remember the name right now, but it’s called Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby. I will link it in the show notes here. It was fantastic, and that I followed, and it really helped me to just stick to it, and know that in the long term, this was right for her, and I really saw the benefit of that.

Now, when Paige came along, I would say that it’s a little bit more relaxed, maybe being the baby, but also I knew a little bit better what I was doing, but she’s her own person and I think any parent out there with more than one child knows that you may parent a child the same way, you haven’t changed as a parent, but your kids are so different, so that just goes to show the difference between nature and nurture. These kids are born their own person, with a personality and preferences. We’ve been a little bit more relaxed with Paige, but here’s what we followed with a nighttime routine. I strongly believe in early bedtimes. I think kids are just when you get them too overtired and push them, it is just a recipe for disaster. In fact, they won’t sleep when they’re overtired, so we have stuck to around lately, we’re about between seven and eight.

Now, when we had Reese, and Maddie, I remember with Reese it was to the minute I had her scheduled down at 6:30, 6:45 was when she was in bed every night. Now we’re much more relaxed with that, and we’re between seven and eight. I aim for 7:30, so we do dinner, we do bath, I’ll do a little lavender, create this mood that we’re getting sleepy. We do brush teeth, then we read books every night. That’s one thing we’ve been very, very consistent with, is story time. We’ll lie in bed together and read books. Right now Paige is picking one book, and Reese gets to pick one book. Again, you guys, Maddie’s not part of this anymore. She’s 13, so she’d be extremely embarrassed if we did some sort of routine with her. She has her own routine.

We do story time, and then we do lights out. I always sing You Are My Sunshine, so this is one thing that’s been very consistent since Reese was about three months. When I was sleep training, I read that if you have a sleep cue, a signal for sleep, and repeat it every single day, it becomes a switch, and it worked. I started singing You Are My Sunshine, I’m not a great singer, but kids don’t care, and it started working. Reese’s eyes would roll to the back of her head, and she would know as soon as I started singing that song, she’d fall asleep. I continued that with Paige, and now if I don’t sing it, Paige will say, “Lullaby, lullaby.” She doesn’t need it as much anymore, but it’s just become an ingrained part of our routine and tradition at night time, so I sing that to them.
Then they go to bed, and Reese falls asleep like that, maybe because I was a little bit more about sleep training with her, or maybe because she’s a little bit more like Russ and can fall asleep pretty easily. Paige right now, she will get out of bed and come find us, or she needs a bandaid, or she needs water, although we already have water on the side of the bed. She just doesn’t want to sleep, so we’re in that tricky area right now.

What I do now is she says, “You stay in the playroom?” which is right next to the girl’s room, and I sit there until they both fall asleep. Just knowing, they say, “Mom, are you in the playroom?” and I’ll call, “Yes, I’m here.” That gives them a sense of relief and contentment, and if that’s what I need to do, that’s what I’ll do right now because they’re going to grow up someday and they will want me far, far away. I’m cool with that. I’m okay. I’ll have my phone or my computer with me, or a book or something and just hang out. I don’t mind that.

Okay, so for a question I’ve gotten which really resonated with me, is, “How do you handle discipline and, specifically, do you ever get frustrated and start yelling? Do you ever yell?” I will say that I was never a yeller. I’ve been a pretty even keel kind of person, but this year, I don’t know if it’s because we have three kids now, one being in her terrible twos, I have a lot going on, and I’ve been really, I’ve dealt with a little bit of fatigue and tiredness this year, just hormonal stuff. I think it was just a recipe for me starting to yell, and it was killing me inside, because I’ve never yelled, and it was one of those things that I was like, “I will never yell at my kids.” Then you’re yelling at them.

I think parents can relate that you say, “My kids will never be picky,” or, “I’ll never yell,” or, “I’ll never do this.” Yeah, well, you do, because that’s life. When you’re in it, you realize, “Oh wow, picky eaters are awful,” and, “Wow, here I am yelling.” I decided I was tired of yelling. I didn’t like it, and then even worse, Reese started yelling at me, at her sister. Both of them, at Maddox and Paige. It was not good, so I Googled, late at night, yelling long-term damage for kids. How do I stop yelling? Suggestions for, you know. I went on those Google searches on what to do, and I came across a lady that I will link here, and she has a course that’s Five Steps to Stop Yelling. I was like, “I’ve never heard of this person. Whatever, I’m desperate right now.”

I signed up for her newsletter, and the first tip that was sent was that she would stick these yellow hearts, because yellow was her son’s favorite color, all over the house as reminders to not yell. It’s to think about your child before you yell. There’s the take five seconds to breathe deep. A lot of different tricks, I was, “I don’t know, I tried, it’s not working,” or that emotion comes so fast, I don’t have five seconds to take a step back and breathe. That’s why yelling is so terrible, because it’s sometimes a rush, and you can’t stop it, and I needed something like, boom, fast. I was like, “Oh, I’m a visual person. A reminder would be great.”

What I did is I took this cute little, I think it’s maybe an ornament, but a back to school ornament type of thing with Paige’s little picture. It’s a little school bus made out of sticks that her preschool teacher made with her as a craft the first week of school. I was just like, “Ah, this is the cutest thing.” It reminds me of the innocence and vulnerability, and happiness of a child. I hung that where I found myself yelling the most was at night time, at the end of the day, in the bathroom when they were running around everywhere like crazy, and I just wanted them to put on their PJs or brush their teeth, or get I the bath. I hung it on the bathroom doorknob.

Just that reminder, knowing that here’s my frustrating child right now, acting up, and then here is Paige who she really is, this innocent little girl going to preschool and having this picture, and just, that helped. You guys, since then, I’ve really curbed my yelling. I won’t say that I’ll never do it again, or I haven’t at all, but it has dramatically shifted. That is one suggestion I have. If you’re finding that you’re yelling, is find something that will remind you of your child, and put that in a prominent place, in the place especially where you find yourself getting frustrated most. Maybe that’s in the car. Maybe that is in the kitchen. Maybe it is in their room at the end of the night. Who knows, but that has helped me.

Another question I’ve gotten is clothing storage for kids. “How do you organize clothes, bows, shoes, hand-me-downs? I feel like I have bins, on bins, on bins.” If you don’t know, I have a lot of passion and interest in organizing. I used to run a professional organizing business. Now I do it more just as a sharing thing, and I definitely have some tips for organizing kids stuff, but first let’s discuss this bins, on bins, on bins thing.

I also saved Maddie’s clothes for Reese, Reese’s clothes for Paige. Really, bins are the way to do it. The great thing is that it’s simple, it’s easy, it’s not that expensive. You do have to have room to store it. A simple suggestion is just have them ready so that you don’t start accumulating piles everywhere. Have them labeled with the size that they’re going to transition out of soon, so when you’re done with that size you can place it right in there. If you’re finding you have bins, and bins, and bins, and it’s overwhelming then you have too much. You do. You don’t need to keep every single outfit. Things change like styles, and sure, if you have the room keep it all, but if it’s not working for you, you need to decide which is more important: to have all those outfits, or to not be overwhelmed by the space, and keep the essentials, and pass along the rest; either donate it or give it to someone else that can use it right now.

That’s what I’ve been doing. I only have part of a closet that I can keep these bins. I don’t keep them in the garage, and even if I did keep them in the garage, I wouldn’t want half of it being all kids clothes. I just keep what I can in that little area, and the rest I just donate.

Now, as far as organizing, specifically for kids, for their closets I love the kids SlimLine hangers because those save space. Just like I mentioned before in an organizing podcast episode here, that matching hangers makes a world of a difference. I think having things labeled is really helpful if you have more than one person putting away laundry or caring for your home, like if you have housekeepers. Bows have been tricky because I can’t find anything out there, really, that I love, but for my girls, for Reese and Paige, I made a board and it has ribbon, and you can just clip. I just keep that in rainbow order. I went through it the other day because it was getting messy, so I just took the board down, put it on the floor, took off all the bows, categorized them, sorted them, and then put them back in color order. It looked much better again.

Shoes, we don’t wear shoes in the house, so a lot of their daily shoes are downstairs in the mudroom, garage area. In the garage, I have a shelf, a wall shelf. It’s an Elfa container store shelf, where we keep the shoes. Then upstairs I keep their less used shoes in a cubby thing in their closet. I’ll probably do a post on it, or share the girls’ closet someday, but I think keeping things in color order, and labeled, and categorized is super helpful.

Real quick, iPads, you may have known that we eliminated iPads in the morning because it was causing a lot of conflict between Russ and I, and the girls. That’s been going great, and so they get to use the iPad on the weekends, travel, and then they do shows whenever they’re done with all their chores. We don’t like to do a lot of screen time, but I am going to be a completely realistic parent and say, “You know what? Sometimes I need a break.” One iPad game that I have loved for both Reese and Paige, they didn’t really … I don’t think we had an iPad when Maddie was born. She was 2005, so anyways, for Reese and Paige, our favorite ones have been the Endless Alphabet series. There’s Endless Numbers, Endless Alphabet, Endless Reader. Such a cute, well-made app. Honestly, that’s what taught Reese her alphabet when she was 15 months old. She wasn’t in school, and thanks, iPad for doing that for me. It’s great. I highly suggest it.

Now, I mentioned step parenting. This is something that Russ and I will get into more down the road because I think it’s something that I do want him to be a part of as part of the discussion. He’s the one that basically made me a stepparent, so I think it’s important that we both share our sides, but I know there’s stepparents out there. You’ve messaged me, I know many of you, but it has, for me, been way harder than parenting Reese and Paige for a few reasons. I’ll get into more of it when we do the episode, but I’ll just say that it really plays at a mother’s emotional heart as a parent and a mom. You have to balance and be between the pole of she has another mom, but I want to be a mom for her too. She says things like, “You’re not my real mom,” and it doesn’t bother me as much, but other peoples’ comments on that have, and it’s just, it can get really messy emotionally.

The hardest part is taking that emotion away. In parenting anyone, your stepchildren, your foster kids, your biological kids, your adopted anything. You have to, sometimes, remove the emotion, and I would say with Maddox there’s just been more emotion I’ve had to set aside so that I can focus on what’s best for her, and for me, too. I will say that there’s a lot of rewarding parts to step parenting. I know it made me a better mom for Reese and Paige when they came along, and I have a blog post titled The Four Things I’ve Learned As Stepmom on my website, You can catch those there, that go into more detail.

We’ve talked about all the things that we do as parents for our kids, but we are people, too. We have our lives, we have our goals, we have our ambitions, we have things we want to do for ourselves, and I think the whole mom guilt balancing act, how do you do it all, that’s just something I see a lot, I hear a lot, I get questions about. I think everyone is trying to their best as parents, and it’s hard because of all the things that are in our lives and all the things that we do want to do, and all the things we want for our children.

One question here that really stood out to me was, “How do you make sure your kids and business are both successful? How do you strive for your own dreams, and support your kids’ dreams?” This person said, “I feel like I’m drowning.” I immediately, when I saw this question, I had an answer. I walked over to Russ and I said, “Hey Russ if someone asked you this, how would you answer that?” We both said, “Take care of yourself. Focus on yourself first.” That has been key in Russ and I becoming better parents, our businesses thriving, our children thriving, our family stronger, is when we stop trying to put our business first, put our kid first, even our marriage. We had to first start with ourselves, and when we started to invest in and work on ourselves as a person, not even as a mother really, is first focus on you.

It sounds so selfish but it’s not, because if you think of the very simple analogy of a foundation, you are the foundation of all of those other things, and if that isn’t strong, nothing will succeed. Nothing will be strong. When you feel like you’re drowning, stop and focus on you. I know self-care is a huge thing right now, and I think that’s awesome. I know a lot of people say it’s too played out, and sure, a lot of people play it out in a way that’s a little glorified or something, but I think genuinely that is where you need to go is self-care. It’s not about going and getting a manicure or something, or a facial, while that’s important, it’s working on the deep work of yourself.

If you have goals, for example, I’ve gotten the question, “How do you work out with your kids?” or, “How do you make that happen?” That’s tough. It takes a lot of dedication, and discipline, and planning to make that happen with kids. Even if your kids are in school like mine are now, sure, that’s made it really easier to go to the gym and take care of that aspect of myself and my goals for myself, but there will be days when the kids are sick. This happens a ton, or something happens. Things pop up. You don’t have control all the time as a parent. That’s challenging, but you have to put those things as a priority or nothing else will thrive. That would be a huge tip that I hope you take away from this episode, is invest in yourself.

Listen to podcasts like ours or others. There are so many others out there that can give you a lot of helpful information. If you’re a reader, go pick up some books that are going to speak to you, inspire you. Invest in a hobby, even if it costs money. Take that aside budget for it and take care of you. Do something that makes you happy because they say happy wife, happy life. Well, same thing with parenting. Happy parents, happy kids, and it’s not about the activities you give for them. It’s not about the things you give them. It’s about what kind of mom are you giving them. What kind of dad are you giving them.

We’re not going to be perfect. I am so far from perfect. Very far, and I don’t think I ever want to be, because if I am, then that means I have no room to grow, and I won’t improve. I really like that part of life. Invest in yourself, take care of you, be a happy parent and your kids will be happy too.

This is a quick, short episode of just some parenting tips for you. We weave parenting as a continuous topic into all of our episodes, because that is a huge responsibility that Russ and I take seriously. Catch them in other episodes, and we’ll continue talking about this in the future. If you have any questions, direct them to me on Instagram @mikaperry, or you can I think comment on the podcast show notes or the show page. It’s, and we’d love to continue the conversation of parenting with you.
Thanks for joining us. I’m so glad you were here with me today, and we will talk soon. Bye.

Russ Perry: Thanks for listening to this episode of Good To Be Home.

Mika Perry: And don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes and give us a rating.

Russ Perry: See you next time.