Naptime and iPads: 18 Things This Mom Is Truly Grateful For This Season

For real, guys, how is it almost Thanksgiving when I'm still recovering from Halloween? (Note to self: must ditch leftover candy!) Regardless of my own disbelief, it's officially the season of "thanks" and "giving" (Christmas gift orders are already arriving at my door daily; I might be in denial, but I also love shopping). While I know I should be expressing my gratitude for the big things in my life — my family's health and prosperity, our happy home, blah, blah, blah — as the mom of two little kids, ages 4 and a half and 22 months, it's really the little things that get me through the day. Here are the 18 things I'm most grateful for this year.

  1. Drive-through Starbucks. Delicious, caffeinated goodness is available right on the way to my daughter's preschool every morning, making $4 for a cup of coffee seem like quite the deal, especially when I don't have to take anyone out of their car seats to get my fix.
  2. White-wine spritzers. It hydrates and dehydrates you at the same time, y'all! And, on my roughest days, I feel a lot less guilty about pouring one around 4:30. After all, it's half water. Practically a health elixir.
  3. My gym. For $70 a month, I get up to two hours a day of childcare for both my kids, and you can bet I'm going to use them, even if I'm just sitting in the steam room or reading Why Not Me?. Highly recommended, by the way.
  4. Target. How could I not be devoted to a one-stop shop where I can get organic milk, Sauvignon Blanc, green cleaning supplies, clothes for my whole family, extra Adele tracks, diapers, and an amazing $45 hydrating serum my husband will never see a bill for? Target is everything.
  5. Spill-proof sippy cups. I recently became a devoted Munchkin Miracle cup user, and I started telling every one of my mom friends about it like I had just discovered something secret and revolutionary. They all already had them, making me realize my early adopter days are so over. But, considering the cup has cut down the juice and milk puddles around my house by at least 75 percent, I still think it calls for some gratitude.
  6. Squeeze pouches. When my daughter was a baby and toddler, I spent hours shoveling baby food in her little mouth with a spoon, so I was stoked was when I had my son three years later and realized that squeeze pouches had taken over the industry. He's off baby food now, but we still live on squeezable yogurts and applesauces, most of which usually get in his mouth.
  7. iPads and on-demand cable. Feel free to start your judging now; I'm cool with it. My kids love playing games on their iPads, and I'm convinced they're smarter because of it. And, when it's been raining for three days and they get sick of those, I have no problem turning their attention to a bigger screen. I mean, my mom used to have to record Sesame Street on a VCR, and now I have thousands of kids' shows and movies a few button pushes away on demand. That is something to be grateful for.
  8. Easy bribes. Both of my kids are opinionated, strong-willed, too-bright-for-their-own-good little imps, but hand them a Dum Dum and they'll pretty much do whatever I want, which makes me think the product name was pretty well thought out. Sugar-free popsicles and chocolate milk have a similar effect, and I use all three as often as possible.
  9. Any day my son sleeps past 6:30. Duh. Mama likes her sleep.
  10. Any day my daughter gets dressed without screaming or crying. This is a big one because these days happen so freaking rarely (Is it a 4-year-old thing or is my daughter possessed? Someone please tell me.), but the days when my gal will put on one of the four pant and four top options she requires me to lay out daily, seemingly so she can just reject them all, and I'm grinning from ear from ear.
  11. The Wet Brush. I discovered this magic brush earlier this year, and it has cut down my daughter's postbath hair-brushing-induced screaming by an estimated 90 percent, and I am not kidding. I've probably bought about 15 of them this year alone because I keep leaving mine at the gym and my daughter keeps losing hers in the black hole that is our entire house, but it's one purchase I'll happily keep making.
  12. Our ironclad crib. My 22-month-old will climb the refrigerator, the dining room table, and his sister, so how he hasn't figured out how to get out of his crib is beyond me, but I'm extremely thankful it's the case.
  13. Naptime. As I've complained about once or 10,000 times, my son wakes up early, but when my own unusually wise mom suggested I cut out his daily nap to get him to sleep longer at night, I actually laughed, because no mom has wanted their own kid to stop napping . . . ever. Two hours of one less child (especially when that child spends most of his time acting like he just snorted Adderall and climbing my fridge) is not something I'll ever actively discourage.
  14. My babysitter. My kids love her; she loves my kids (or does an excellent job of faking it). Add in the facts that she never complains and is fun to hang with when I get home, and I think I've hit the sitter jackpot. Never leave us, Elizabeth, OK?
  15. Grandparents with free time. What's better than the perfect babysitter? Childcare you don't have to pay for! Even better than that? My in-laws and my parents seem to actually enjoy the job.
  16. Girlfriends who don't sugarcoat anything. How do I love my real-talk girlfriends? Let me count the ways. One, they make me feel better about my own shortcomings as a mom. Two, they're hilarious, and what mom doesn't need a good laugh? And three, they always tell me that a 4:30 white-wine spritzer is a great idea. Thanks, gals.
  17. Photoshop. If you're on my Christmas card list, you'll probably receive my card this year and wonder, "How ever did Kate manage to get two adults and two wild children to look so lovely in one shot?" The answer: I didn't. One of my best friends is a photographer and she's photoshopping four different good-of-one-of-us shots into one perfect picture. Genius.
  18. Not hosting Thanksgiving. After two consecutive years of having Thanksgiving at my house, first while being seven months pregnant and having a 2-year-old, then while having a 10-month-old and a 3-year-old, I decided to give myself a break. Showing up at someone else's clean house with nothing but some Williams-Sonoma-bought gravy? That truly is something to be thankful for.