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overwhelmed woman The other day I was sitting by an obviously over-tired mamma of 2. She had a familiar look in her eye, like she was “one-more-cheerio-on-the-floor “away from a mommy-melt-down.  I felt for her. So I offered to help collapse her stroller and hoist it into her car. She thanked me and said ‘well, that is 2 good things today.’ I asked her what the other good thing was and she said “My son didn’t have any cavities – thank GOD- I was totally prepared for him to have a ton.”

I looked at her toothy-grinned 4 year old and asked her why she thought he would have had cavities.

She said “I am doing my best, but I know he has too many treats, and it is a serious battle of wills when it is time to brush his teeth, I’m just so tired.  I know you think I am a terrible mom, but I can’t do it all.”

I stopped her and chimed in with my own parenting woes when it came to my kids and brushing, flossing and skipping treats.

It. Is. HARD.

I know from the outside looking in people DO think you are a bad parent if you give in to the tantrum or choose to skip brushing your kids’ teeth if they have already fallen asleep- but listen to me when I tell you that it is likely the 10,000th tantrum of the day and you NEVER wake a sleeping child e.v.e.r.

I rarely offer unsolicited advice, especially about parenting, but I felt compelled to let this mama know it is OK to not to it ‘all’ and doing ‘good enough’ is sometimes the best way to go.  I shared with her that I too give in to the tantrum at the supermarket and let my kids have the free cookie sample more than I should. I too struggle to get the toothbrush in my 3 year old’s mouth long enough to make it even smell a little minty- I get it. So, what I decided as a mom who is doing her best, is instead of beat myself up for what I am not doing, I started adding little things to my kids’ day that help protect their teeth.  I told her my 5 smile protection hacks that keep my kids teeth healthy and my mommy-guilt to a minimum.

1. I keep xylitol lollies in my purse at all times.  These lolly pops get substituted for the sugary treats offered my kids at the bank, gas station, grocery store and post office (YES they are offered everywhere!). It is easy to say no thank you and also avoid an epic tantrum if you can show your child a purse full of goodies.

2. I carry xylitol gum in my purse for much the same purpose

3. I carry this mouth spray in my diaper bag, purse and glove compartment for times when I DO give in to the regular treat, we call it “spraying away the cavities” and my kids love it.

4. No juice.  This was hard at first, especially at birthday parties, but I try and let them ONLY drink water.  If I do allow the occasional juice box, you better believe I am “spraying away the cavities” shortly there after

5. I keep toothbrushes in the car.  No joke.  I have found that when you are the parent of little kids it is often a miracle if they are dressed and fed before leaving the house on time.  I will ALWAYS be embarrassingly late if I fight the toothbrush battle. SO, as my children are strapped in a moving car with no where to run, I pass them their car-brushes and this tooth gel (it does not have fluoride because my kids will be swallowing it) and we listen to the wheels on the bus while they brush.

I know it is not the prescribed regimen of brush twice a day for 2 minutes and floss daily, but living life with little kids can’t always follow a prescribed formula.  If I can do these things, I feel like my kids’ smiles will be as protected as this mamma can muster, and maybe it won’t win me any mommy of the year awards, but as long as my kids are healthy and I am sane I count it a success.

Guest post by: Laura Moriarity


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