Friday, May 8

My 10 Parenting Truths (That May Make You Want to Roll Your Eyes At Me)

This post is based entirely on my experience with raising my daughter. I understand that each mother, child, situation, and any other factor may be different, and I am not telling you how to live your life. This is just what I have found works for us and what we, as a family, personally believe in.

1. All children are different. How I raise Bug will be different than how I raise my future children, not because I will decide not to put in the same amount of effort with the next child, but simply because my next child may have different needs than Bug does now. Example: I rejoice over the fact that Bug never took to a soother and that we skipped the bottle stage completely, however, I am fully 100% aware that this could be different for my next baby. How one parents will change and become different depending on a child's need. I cannot and will not try to mold my children into each other. I choose to listen, to adapt, and to give them comfort in any way that I can based on their individual needs.

2. I believe in swaddling. Recently I learned that hospitals are now trying to convince Mother's not to swaddle their babies at all - so that they can self-sooth right from the beginning. While I do believe in letting Bug self-sooth when it comes to naps or bedtime; she talks, plays, or sometimes cries (if she is over tired) before she puts herself to sleep every night, I believe that when a child is born, that they need all the comfort and love and swaddling that I can possibly give them. Of course, this depends on the child completely. We swaddled Bug until she got too big to swaddle and I have absolutely NO regrets. Neither did she. She LOVED it.

3. My daughter does NOT need sugar. I do not care what you say. I thought this would give me a "hooray" of approval all around, however, I am sad to report that I have gotten (with the exception of a few close friends and family members) negative feedback and weird looks when I say that Bug does not need the ice cream. I am not depriving her as she does not NEED sugar. I am not going to say no forever, but I do not think a toddler (16 months old to be exact) doesn't need the junk food. Trust me, I look forward to going out for ice cream with her one day. I have also decided that I need to be an example to her right now, and I have also decided to stop eating sugar. I do not want to be the parent, even if she will never remember, that eats sugar in front of her while telling her no.

4. We do not watch a lot of TV. Television is a treat for us, including myself. I do not put it on even when Bug is napping. From the very beginning I knew that I didn't want the tv to become a way that I can get some 'me time' from my child and I did not want it to become something that we did every day. I want the television to be a rainy day, fort day treat for my family. About once a week we let Bug watch Bubble Guppies, a favourite show of hers, and now, because it is so rare that she watches, she stares at the show from start to finish. As adorable as that sounds, it is another reason why we limit her tv watching - she watches, and stares, and watches. I do not think I am depriving her by doing this.

5. I choose to workout in front of my child. To be honest, the only reason I have worked out this past week is because Bug has gone into my room and either pulled out my yoga matt or "her" weight (its a two-pounder). I pretend that she is reminding me to work out, so I put on my shoes and we start jumping, stomping, and stretching together. She even pants when I pant. I know that there are times when she is too crazy and I wait until she is napping before I put on my running shoes, however, I cannot help but think what a wonderful habit we are both getting into. Obviously she doesn't do the whole workout with me, but she is getting familiar with the concept of it all. Working out with her is one of my favourite times of day - I really cannot see myself doing it without her now.

6. Sign language is wonderful. I was somewhat worried about teaching sign to my daughter in the beginning. I had read and heard from others that there is always a chance of babies taking longer to speak because they learn to communicate with sign. As much as this was a possibility, I also had friends who told me that sign was the absolute best thing to happen to their family, so we decided to give it a go. It has been a life saver. I repeated the sign while saying the word over and over again until one day Bug mastered "more." Then "all done," "milk," "food," and "bed." I was able to understand her from a very young age and I found that we were hardly frustrated at each other. Her speech is amazing and her vocabulary is growing so fast. I am so thankful that I took the time to teach her sign and I would recommend any parent to do the same. Currently we are working on "please."

7. Reading is going to be a big part of our daily lives. I have so many amazing memories of reading, being read at, or even going to the library that I knew I wanted to pass on my love for literature to my daughter. From week one I read to her. Now I read her board books, chapter books, picture books or whatever she wants me to read.  I read when she sits on my lap, I read even on days that Bug doesn't seem like is paying any attention. Now my daughter LOVES books, she spends most of her day on her furry carpet reading any book that she can reach. Sometimes she even "reads" the book out loud to me. I love these moments with my daughter, I cannot wait to see how her imagination grows because of it.

8.  They understand more than you think, but their understanding is still new. I am amazed every single day with how well Bug understands what I am talking about. The other day I asked my husband if he knew where my purse was, Bug started looking for it. She has no idea what it was that she was looking for, she would have no idea what a purse is, but she understands the word "where" and knew that she needed to find something. I am so very proud of her and knowing how well she takes on to new words or instructions makes me want to continue teaching her, giving her new words, instructions. However, it can also make me assume that she knows or understands more than she actually does. Her understanding is based on examples that she is used to or has been taught and how we live our day to day. This makes sense but I want to continue one because I feel like this can serve as a reminder to all parents. I can, without thinking, expect too much from her sometimes because I know how smart she is and because I think the way an adult does, and not as a child. They understand what they know, what they have experienced through repetition and example. They will not necessary understand why or the importance of something like "stop". It may be frustrating that Bug doesn't understand the idea of waiting for me to lock the door before she goes running down the hallway, we go through this motion EVERY SINGLE DAY. However, if you think like a child who has no fear, of course teaching her to stop is going to be difficult. We have introduced a game for Bug just for this reason. She needs to learn to listen, but she doesn't need me to give her a lecture at 17 months of why its important to listen to mom - she is just going to give me a blank stare. Does that make sense? I guess what I am trying to say is that I am learning that her understanding is different than my own, and that I am going to go a lot further teaching her if I remember who it is she is, what kind of life she lives, and what she knows. I can say things over and over again to her, however, the only reaction I am going to get or the only habit we can create is what she sees and learns from me. When she gets older and her understanding broadens, than I can go into full out conversations of why and why not, until then I am teaching out of love and happy reminders, even if it means that it requires more patience.

9. Children should never be the reason why you don't live your life. My husband and I love camping, hiking, traveling, and all sorts of other things. We decided before Bug was born, that we would still continue to do the things that we love, to still take adventures. Besides, that is what family memories are made of. Now, because of our love for the outdoors, Bug has a love for it. She wants to be outside all the time. She loves grabbing her shoes, picking out a hat to wear, and could easily spend hours getting fresh air. She has found a love to collect rocks and leaves as well.

10. Let them be kids and let them make messes. It is so easy to make wishes of the day when they understand, go to school, grow up, stop making messes, stop needing diaper changes, stop nursing, etc. It is so easy to teach responsibility and what not to do. I think what should be taught, and this is exactly what I am choosing to do with Bug, is how to play. How to read, use her imagination, be outside, escape technology, take care of herself, see the beauty that she is, how to laugh, how to tickle, and how to make funny faces. I let her eat spaghetti while not being restrained by a highchair, sometimes I forget to put a bib on her too. Clothes will be ruined or she can just have naked day. Its not that big of a deal to me. Sometimes things get broken, sometimes toys are all over the place, sometimes I don't get a blog post published until 8:00pm at night. Its not that big of a deal, I would rather spend my days playing, drinking imaginary "cookfie" (coffee), reading books, than getting what I think needs done done. I would rather my day be filled with accidental broken figurines, happy thoughts, missed deadlines, and messy couches. I would rather have a day where I know I did the absolute best that I possibly could to have fun, teach, love, and be with her. I choose play - I had to say it.
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Feel free to leave comments down below on any ideas or experiences that you have had with your family or what you think of what I have written. I would love to hear of them. 

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