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All the ways I’ll pretend to be a good mom while my family is watching

Every holiday season it’s the same — making sure my family never knows how much screen time my child actually gets.

What is it about having family in town that makes us nervous? Before I had a kid, anytime I had family coming to visit, everything had to be perfect. My apartment had to be in top condition, neat and sparkling, and for some reason, cinnamon-scented. After I had my daughter, that feeling intensified. I felt the need to prove that I was a grown-up now, a big kid who could pay my bills and keep another human alive.

Of course, most of the time, like many people, I am barely getting everything done. In between school and work and keeping our house not on fire, my child will occasionally bathe and eats enough food to keep me out of prison. I’m not winning any awards, that’s for sure.

Not that my family would ever know, because when they’re around I channel my inner June Cleaver and lie my ass off.

1. “Sure honey, you can watch some TV as a special treat”

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If my daughter hears me say this, she won’t bat an eye. That’s because this is the one lie that I basically tell myself, whether it’s Christmastime or not. Basically any weekday you can hear me tell her that she can indulge in this special treat. By now, she probably thinks a treat is something you get every day. Brushing your teeth is a treat. Going to school is a treat.

2. “But you love your cruciferous greens and lean protein”

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To pull this off, I have to kind of shake my head and make a “you little scamp” look while I pretend that my child doesn’t eat grilled cheese sandwiches and chicken quesadillas all week.

3. “Good heavens! Wherever did you learn that word?”

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I usually utter this as I slip her a small bribe, maybe a $20, upon which I’ve written “Don’t say a f***ing word, kid.”

4. “Now, you know you’re not supposed to have candy before dinner”

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This isn’t technically a lie. We both know she’s not supposed to have candy before dinner. It only matters, like, once a year.

5. “Did you do your chores?”

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This one usually gets a look. She knows she’s supposed to do all manner of chores, like emptying the dishwasher and cleaning the bathroom, she just didn’t realize that I remember that. So it’s weird for her to hear me ask this question out of the blue, as if I suddenly cared.

6. “What are you doing inside the house?”

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This is how I hint to my family that my daughter actually plays outside once in a while. Sometimes she shrugs and says, “I live here.” Good point.

7. “What are you doing with Mommy’s iPad?”

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When I ask this question I have to look shocked, so that everyone gets the impression that my child doesn’t use the iPad practically every day. She typically ruins this for me by announcing what level she’s at on Candy Crush.

More on holidays with family

New mom’s guide to surviving the holidays with a newborn
I hate that my kids’ grandparents are divorced
How to survive family holidays without strangling your spouse

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