Today is the second parenting and family life guest post. Please welcome Tara who is a home life simplified reader (shockingly – not a blogger!) and an online friend I met through the Babywhisperer forums years ago. I love hearing other people’s stories about their parenting journey. Please give Tara some support and comment below!
When I was about 4 months pregnant with my now 10 year old son, my mother bought me a brand new book called, “Secrets of the Baby Whisperer” by Tracy Hogg. The book talked about new babies and routines and reading a baby’s cues to learn what they need. I enjoyed the book, but there were more exciting things to think about, like childbirth classes, setting up the nursery, packing the hospital bag, and writing up a birth plan.
What I learned in those early days after Anthony* was born, at least in this case, was this: the pregnancy and delivery…the majority of the time…is the easy part. I clung angrily to this sentiment in my early post-partum days while I sat weeping in a rocking chair with cracked, bleeding nipples and a screaming hungry baby who wouldn’t latch on properly. “Who cares about packing a hospital bag?” I thought, “I can’t get this child to eat!” I thought breastfeeding was the hardest thing I would ever do.
Then came potty training.
Wow. Was I ever wrong about breastfeeding! At least with breastfeeding, I knew if I absolutely wanted to, I could throw in the towel and say, “I tried. I’m stopping” and switch to formula. Potty training involves convincing another person to perform bodily functions in the big white thing in the bathroom that makes weird noises and looks as though it might swallow a tiny person, rather than performing said bodily function in the comfort of ones own pants.
Oh wait…wrong again. Shortly after getting the potty thing mastered, little Anthony started to inch towards age three and four, which, admittedly, were harder than the twos ever hoped to be. Granted, he was absorbing the energy of two parents struggling with recurrent miscarriages and changes to his child care routine due to starting at a new day care centre. Did I mention that was because we moved? Oh yes, we moved. And a year after that, his little brother James was born. And so, we moved into a different arena. One involving choices about discipline and parenting styles.
I knew there were a few truths to my parenting. I made the decision early on that I was not comfortable with the more traditional “Cry It Out” methods of sleep training. I made every effort to respond to my kids when they cried when they were very young. With a lot of effort, and perhaps a bit of luck, I managed to end up with kids who are wonderful sleepers. Lucky fluke? Perhaps. But I was thankful, because Momma is not a nice person with very little sleep.
I knew I wasn’t a spanker. Other than that…I had very little to go on. What I needed to figure out was…exactly what kind of parent did I want to be? I didn’t fancy myself a strict person, though I wanted my kids to be respectful. I was a softy, but I didn’t want my kids to walk all over me.
As luck would have it, through the website connected with the Babywhisperer book, I found a wonderful online sounding board of moms in a similar situation. This opened my eyes to even more parenting books and styles, which helped me understand the kind of parent I want to be.
I’ve come to a very middle ground approach to parenting. I can set down rules when I have to, but for the most part I like to think that my kids can think of me as a fairly approachable mom. I also try not to sweat the small stuff and try to think before I immediately answer “No.” I try to explain things to both boys in an age appropriate way, and always give reasons for decisions their Dad and I make.
One night, for instance, as James was getting ready for bed, Anthony was outside playing with friends. At 8:00 I called out the back door and he asked if he could play a little bit longer. Before I answered in the negative, I glanced at the clock and paused. He had a field trip that day, therefore had no homework, and another 15 minutes would give me the time I needed to finish reading to James in peace.
“Sure buddy, have a great time,” I called.
“Yessssss. Wicked!” he replied.
Because, really, don’t we just want them to be happy?
Note from Deb – I do think that is one key aspect of parenting we all have in common – we want our kids to be happy!
Find your simple,
* names have been changed for privacy reasons