Parenting Hacks: Learn From My Mistakes

We have a wonderful bedtime routine going right now. Edie and I and her other dad (I am Papa and he is Dad) all get into her bed after she tends to her oral hygiene and any waste management needs. We read. We laugh. Sometimes there are tears, depending on how tired she is (ok, sometimes I am the one crying). Usually she wants to say the Lord’s Prayer/ Our Father. I sit in a chair and Daddy lays on the floor for a bit as she drifts off while I sing.

Tonight we read a book that was given to Edie as a birthday gift from a friend. If you don’t have it you should order it right now. Here, it is:

It’s wonderful in it’s discussion about feelings and all the various ways that a heart can feel and why. Beautifully written and conversation inducing. Edie started asking us questions tonight as we were reading it. She wanted us to give instances when we felt certain ways: happy, sad, scared, shy, etc. She shared her examples as well and it was a really thoughtful moment and glimpse into her emotional development.

One of the things she asked me was what made me sad. I told her that as a parent the thing that can make me sad is when I feel I have made a mistake or acted harshly as a parent. I don’t think she totally understood what I was getting at. I do want her to know that I recognize my mistakes and shortcomings as a parent, and as a human. I also think that her understanding of such topics happens incrementally and often gradually, so it’s ok to talk about things that are still slightly out of reach intellectually.

So it made me think that perhaps I could share a few of my mistakes I have made along the way. When I was a brand new parent I was always interested in hearing from parents about the mistakes they had made. It helped me to feel capable of parenting, even as a flawed person,and also to look for ways to avoid the same errors. I share this as a way of sharing with other parents. A way to say that you are capable, flaws and all, and maybe a way to help you to avoid some of the same mistakes I make. I am usually my own biggest critic and I’m sure like some of you feel that I’m often making more mistakes than not. So, the list is long but I’ll share the top three.

My Top Three Parenting Goofs

1. Lacking Patience

I absolutely hate myself when I am not patient with Edith. This is a mistake I make as she has gotten older. I have to remind myself that she is not trying to “push my buttons”. She is a tiny awesome human learning to navigate feelings and desires in a world where she is trying to slowly assert some level of autonomy.

I find that when I slow down and explain things calmly and kindly she is more apt to listen and respond reasonably. I find the same to be true of having a negative or biting tone with her. I don’t like when anyone speaks to Edith in a condescending or negative tone. Even when frustrated, it’s important to stay kind. As I like to remind myself, my voice becomes her inner voice. Patience and kindness go along way. In doing so I am teaching her to be patient and kind to herself and others.

2. Buying Too Much Stuff

I love to shop. I try really hard to be green and consider the environment in everything that I do. I must say though, when it comes to shopping, I struggle. I like the feeling I get when shopping. I like pretty things. I like clothes and shoes. I even like going to the mall some times. And Target, oh Target how I love thee. I try and follow a spending plan. I also buy a lot second hand, particularly furniture and decor. I have gone through seasons of buying way too many clothes and clothes that were too expensive for a little person. Recently we got rid of our toy room and got rid of some things. Edie toys now all fit in her room and that feels a little less excessive.

I also have stopped buying too many clothes, well ok, maybe I am still working on this one. However, I do buy less expensive things. We are obsessed with Get 20% off your first order at Primary.com with code AFF20PCT Primary. Their clothes are adorable, soft, practical, and reasonable reasonable reasonable. Follow the link and get a great little discount and no shipping fees.

3. Spending Too Much Time On My Phone

This is such a tricky tricky one. Edie doesn’t watch tv ( see Set Free From TV) and is quite low tech. However, I do look at mine way too much. I mean I am trying to do this blogging thing and that requires some phone time. However, we all know that we are hooked and that is what the makers of the technology want. We also now know that kids feel neglected by grown ups looking at their phones when we should be focusing our attention and gaze toward them. Edie recently has been trying to turn the internet off so that no one can have access to their phones. Ugh. Lesson learned. Hopefully. There is a sign at a local establishment nearby that warns parents “Stay off your phone and give your kids the attention they deserve.” I don’t want Edith to be addicted so I have to work on my own addiction as well.

Maybe I will make this a regular topic here on the blog. Would you mind sharing one of your parenting mistakes? I would be very curious to hear what you think you suck at! Just kidding. I think it helps us all to feel more human and less awful when we know we aren’t in this alone. So, chin up parent. We can learn from our mistakes and each other’s. Now, if you’ll excuse me I have to go as my screen time minutes are a bit high for today. Edie is always watching.

The Dad and Daughter Road-Trip Survival Guide

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Edie and Papa recently made a road trip. It was a substantial one. About 13 hours each way. In fact as I begin to write this we are at yet another hotel and still have about 6 hours to go tomorrow depending on how many times Edie has to pee.

I’ve never been a driving person. If my husband is with us it is always his task to be the driver. Always has been. He is steady and reliable in all things. This trip though was just Edie and I. Flying was so expensive and we needed to get to my dad’s memorial service. So, I decided that driving would be a good distraction from grief. It was!

My mom was kind enough to make the first leg with us and that was a huge help. It mainly meant that Nana sat in the back with Edie and kept her entertained, including through crazy heavy thunder snow in the mountains of Pennsylvania. On the way back though it was just the two of us. Here are a few pointers to help you survive. Edie is almost four so some of these could be modified based on age.

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Papa’s Picks for the Perfect Road Trip

1. Break the Rules

No, I am not encouraging you to speed or text and drive. There are plenty of folks doing that. I’m talking about breaking some of the parenting rules that you follow. As I’ve said, we are a pretty low tech family (Set Free From TV.)However, in the car Edie gets to use the phone. She watches some videos, she takes pictures, and she looks at the Target app as she loves to “window shop”. I don’t allow games on my phone. I don’t know want her to know they exist as it is a slippery slope. She doesn’t have it the entire time, but off and on for a good portion. It’s a novelty and it keeps her from going nuts. And my phone is full of super cute selfies afterward.

Same rule applies to food. A road trip means basically non-stop grazing. We do take apples and carrots and peepers, as well as nuts and raisins. But we also eat some chips and yesterday she had her first pop-tart. “It’s amazing”, she said. She knows these foods are just for special occasions and we keep them to that. Today, she was back to the straight and narrow and had a variety of fruits and veggies.

2. Make Sure You Have Good Music

I look forward to the days when I get to pick my own music again. I did sneak in some Indigo Girls for a bit when she was phone distracted. For now though we mostly have one rotation of all the cds from Music Together Class. If you have never take a class from them and you have a little one you should definitely do so. They are wonderful and I actually enjoy all the music too. We did try some podcasts this trip and to be honest, Edie just wasn’t that into them. I’d be curious to hear any more recommendations for other podcasts to try and if you’ve had success with any of them.

3. Pee Outside Once: Preferably in the Snow

At one point in rural Pennsylvania, Edith really had to go. She could not wait. At first, I admit to being miffed. However, once I pulled over and found a spot where she could squat, her giggle made it worth it. She kept asking to do it again and thought it was basically the coolest thing ever. I think this tip could go under breaking the rules, but I decided it needed to stand alone. So, be spontaneous and super cool. Pullover and pee outside.

4. Bring Good Books and Toys

It’s always a good idea to buy a few new things to entertain on a plane or car trip. It’s novel and can be a great distraction. We always pack coloring books and markers as well as some letter practice. This trip we introduced the game “I spy…”. Always a hit particularly at this age when rules are just a suggestion anyway. We also brought along an Etch A Sketch. This classic will probably now reside in our car permanently as an easy and creative distraction.
Finally, bring along some good books. You can use your latest books from your Lillypost subscription. If someone can’t read to your little one they can spend the time exploring the books, or have them make up stories based on pictures!

5. Always Pick A Hotel With Breakfast and Pool

This time we stayed at two different Fairfield Inns and they were great. They had healthy and not as healthy breakfast options. (Even meatless breakfast sausages). Their facilities were clean and the staff very friendly and engaging with kids. The pools were new and perfect size. It gave Edie a chance to play and get some exercise and we had chances to chat and relax. Having breakfast and pool onsite made us both more relaxed and made the stay more fun. Now, to get used to not having waffles every single morning. Man, I live waffles.

These tips are not rocket science, obviously. I think the most important thing about a long car trip with little ones is to be flexible and to be patient. It can be boring and physically restrictive for children. So, make it as exciting as possible. Further, it’s a good time to slow down the pace of life. Point out the cows in the pasture. Talk about where lightening comes from. Eat a pop tart. Sing loudly. Laugh until it hurts. Enjoy the time spent in close proximity with each other. Did I mention eat a pop tart?