1. Worry less about what your kids know, rather, focus on how they learn.
We’ve all been there…you are at the playground and the child next to yours on the swing looks to be about the same age. The next thing you know, that genius child starts rattling off her ABC’s and is counting up to 20. You nonchalantly ask the mom how old she is and remark that she is so cute. Not only are your suspicions comfirmed and they are the same age, but she is a month YOUNGER. The self-doubt and regret sets in. Your internal dialogue goes something like this, “why did I stop with the sign language when she turned one…should I read an extra book at bedtime…that’s it, we are going to Target (I practically live there anyway) and picking up Frozen-themed flash cards with exciting numbers and letters on them”. I’m hoping to encourage you to pay less attention to WHAT your child knows, and rather focus on HOW your child responds to the world around them. Do they think critically and ask questions? Do they accept what they are told or do they challenge the rationale? In the end, most typically developing children will identify letters and numbers at some point even if it is on a more delayed schedule than their peers. It is the ability to thoughtfully question what is presented to them and explore their environment with an inquisitive mind that will serve them well throughout their life. Milestones most definitely serve as excellent guidelines, however, they don’t tell us the whole story when talking about the bounds of a child’s mind. Ditch the handbook; encourage your kids to ask questions, to ‘get their hands dirty’, and to think independently.
2. Hold and feed your baby whenever you want.
I know…for whatever reason, this strangely contradicts what we have decided is ‘normal’ in our (American) society. We are told that holding a baby too much can make them dependent, make them want to be held all of the time…I’m sorry but we are talking about an 8 lb, precious little cluster of skin, bones and adorable baby fat that depends ENTIRELY on it’s parents for survival…if he/she wants to be held or fed, I think we can give in on this one. Touch is the single most important thing to babies, and we don’t have to deny it. In my experience, and from what I have read, it is in fact this response to their needs that gives them the confidence to exert their feelings, and provides them with comfort in knowing that they can trust their parents. Now, I’m not suggesting that you should never put your baby down, if that works for your family then fantastic (I am admittedly slightly jealous because mine literally wanted to be held ALL THE TIME), but, my point is, that we should never feel ‘bad’ for holding or feeding a baby if that is what they want.
As moms, there is immense pressure to do everything ‘right’, which usually translates to ‘by the book’. While I appreciate research and often fall back on it when I’m ready to pull my hair out, I’m suggesting that we ditch the handbook. By that I mean, do what feels right for you as a parent. You know your child best. Evaluate their needs and react accordingly…without the pressure to be perfect. If a tactic works for you but isn’t widely accepted, that doesn’t make it wrong.
3. “Children don’t need us to shape them, they need us to respond to who they are.” – Naomi Aldort
This has been my biggest parenting struggle thus far. Before you became a parent, like me, I’m assuming you had a general idea of what you would and wouldn’t do. When that adorable bundle of joy became an independent toddler full of opinions and feelings, the version of you who created those ‘parenting ideals’ 5 years prior is rolling their eyes at you as you pick your battles. I think many of us experience this when it comes to discipline. For us, while we use time-outs for certain actions, they are often ineffective. I know all of the ‘rules’ of time-outs (I’ve seen super nanny once or twice) but I just don’t feel that they are the right choice for my very sensitive and highly emotional son. I have chosen to use a calm-down corner in our house, which helps my son learn to manage his emotions, teaches him appropriate behavior, and doesn’t isolate him from the family in the process. I don’t view this as a lack of discipline, but rather what works best for our family. For others, my methods may be unconventional and might not work for many children. But while I may not be an expert in the field, I am an expert at parenting my littles. I know them inside and out and can predict emotions and outbursts long before they feel them coming on. Trust your instincts and go with your gut. Ditch the handbook, parent the child you have grown to know and love, and understand better than anyone else ever possibly could.
These pieces of advice are not meant to judge others who parent differently than I; rather it’s meant to shed some light on the fact that parenting is not black and white, nor is it static. It is an ever-changing process, one that demands constant care and attention to detail. In the end, a large dose of love and concern will carry you a long way. Refer to the handbook, lean on it heavily, but don’t let it dictate your life. Trust yourself and your immense love and understanding of the tiny human you have created. And enjoy every minute of it.
Cassidy Cruise says
Great post! My kids love top be cuddled and held. My biceps are pretty big because I carry my 3yo (34 pounds) around on my hips. I can’t do it all the time, but sometimes she needs it. And, to be honest, sometimes I need it to. I’m not looking forward to the day when my big girl is too big for me to carry in my arms!
YES! I still wear my 2 year old on my back despite the many comments about her being able to walk that I inevitably get…you are right one day they will be too big 🙂
Tarynn Playle says
Love this post! We’re so quick to judge ourselves and worry that we’re doing a bad job. Every kid is different and we need to adapt to them. My two kids are so different from each other and they need to be patented a bit differently.
Yes mine too!! I always reference my son because he requires much more out of the box thinking than my daughter 🙂 thanks for reading!
Love this and I LOVED your scope on this. Everyone parents differently and these are all so key to remember.
Thank you so much 🙂
Wonderful advice – I think every parent needs to read this!!
What a wonderful post. You really focus on positive parenting advice. I wish that I had known these things when my daughter was still small. I absolutely agree with you when you say, “Trust yourself “.
I did not trust myself at all with my first…hindsight is always 20/20 right 🙂
cindy calzone says
Great tips! I totally agree!
I love every word of this. It is written from a point of view that I think will liberate most who read it. I’ve never wanted to fit my kids into a box and this just reaffirms that. I do what to work with their aptitudes and explore who they really are. As you essentially said, unless there is a developmental difficulty impeding learning the ABCs, counting, writing, they will all come in time. And as you said, it’s more important my children brainstorm, ask questions, and explore their environment inquisitively above all else. Loved this post more than I can put into words. I want to re-share it again and again.
This comment means so much to me – you have been so inspirational to me and I love that you just know what I am trying to say. I hope moms do feel liberated by this post. Thank you again so much for all of your support, it means the world :)))
Kimberly Cox says
Loved all of this. It is so true, both my girls are completely different, and I tend to want to parent them the same way at times, I need little reminders like this to keep me on track, Thanks for sharing 🙂
Shann Eva says
Such a great post. I totally agree that parenting is ever changing. I also love your other ideas, and agree that you can never hold or feed your baby too often. Thank you!
Omg love this!!! I think all parents worry too much about if we are doing the right or wrong thing! All
Kids are different so what works with one kid could totally flop with the next. Just gotta go with the flow sometimes and figure it out as it comes.
So glad you ended up posting this, Katie, and with the Periscope attached! I absolutely can relate or at least agree with everything you’ve said here :).
You were all such wonderful support. Thank you!
Melissa (Wading Through Motherhood) says
I always ignored the sleeping and eating advice. My kids were always small so I fed them whenever they seemed hungry. I love the idea of a calm down corner. I need one of those.
Cristin Xavier says
I love this post. As moms, it’s so easy to just compare to those around you and decide if you’re a successful parent or not but we should be able to look at our own children and know how successful we feel without looking elsewhere. Having confidence in my own skills and trusting my own instinct is something that I still have more to learn about. Thank you for the amazing information.