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.

Set Free From TV

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We did something drastic. No, Papa did not get hair implants (yet). Although as 43 gets closer… No, we got rid of our television. Like, it is gone. Our only tv is now in the cellar covered by an old sheet. What? We did it!

You see we all had the flu last week. (Also see future blog post about germy January air travel with a 4-year-old). Of course we all had the flu vaccination so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been but it was a bit brutal. To keep Edie entertained through our fever fog and coughing conditions we went a little nuts with the screen time. Yeah, that is probably ok. She will still go to Harvard, I am sure. But, it was really time for a technology reset, anyway, and it got us to do a little evaluation and caused us to decide to make some changes.

When we first became parents we were super committed to raising a low tech daughter who could actually have conversation at the dinner table. We didn’t give Edie any screens at all until she was 2. Then, she broke her leg. And we needed her to sit still. A lot. So, we cracked and she discovered tv. And her taste for technology started to flourish.

We often found tv to be a slippery slope. Technology and screens are addictive. I guess that can be argued but it’d be a flimsy argument at best. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/screen-time-addiction/

As a parent who has struggled with my own addiction demons I know how liberating it can be to just get rid of the stuff, whether you are talking about Cabernet or Calilou. And that is what we did today. We set Edie and our family free from screens again. I will of course keep you posted, but today went swimmingly. We read more than we have in a long time. She didn’t have any tantrums at all and we played and listened to music and even completed a puzzle. It was a really good day. I am sure we will have our moments, but it feels like the right choice…again.

One of the things we are totally into again is our record player. Edie is getting into records as well. If you have vinyls and still listen to records you know the pleasure that can bring. It slows you down a bit. You get to experience the music a little differently, with cool album art included. Here is the record player we have: If you don’t have one you should definitely check it out! We can now add looking for unusual albums to Edie and Papa’s Thrift Shop Friday adventures.

We are always looking for ways to read more and now we have any more time. We are really into our new book subscription from Lillypost. I am a fan of subscriptions in general but this one is great. Any organization that gives books to those in need is alright by me and they are committed to representation and diversity. I feel like subscriptions can get you into some things you might not buy otherwise. Also a great tool for teachers trying to build their library.

Lillypost

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