There are plenty of weird things about being a content creator. Something I’ve experienced for years is people reaching out to me with in depth questions. I’m always happy to share my personal experience, as appropriate and as long as I’m comfortable sharing, but I always try to make it clear: I am not an expert. (How many times have I had to make that disclaimer in a blog post, ha!) I never want anyone to think I have it all figured out. I don’t. There’s really nothing special about me. Even things I really love, like needlepoint, I’m still not an expert and I still Google things and make mistakes and ask for advice.
Parenting is no different. For starters, we have one relatively easy toddler who is only eighteen months old. Every day I feel like I’m navigating new waters. (Honestly, every hour brings something new!) I am, quite literally, the farthest thing from a parenting expert. I’m just some other mom figuring it out along the way. People still ask though…. and because of that I thought I’d share some of my own personal parenting beliefs.
(And I also want to note that this is something I’m just genuinely fascinated by! I love learning what other cultures and other families do, even if none of it personally applies to our family. It’s just so interesting and something I could deep dive on every day.)
EVERY FAMILY IS DIFFERENT
This is partly my parenting belief and partly a disclaimer…. but I absolutely believe every kid and every family is different. There is no one size fits all and I think that’s a great thing, and a stressful thing– especially when you feel lost and want guidance. I think one of the worst things you can do is compare your situation to someone else’s (whether it’s a family on your block or a mom you follow on Instagram). It’s the quickest way to feel like you’re failing or you’re not doing a good enough job or that life isn’t fair. There are parenting experts and people who can help you navigate hard challenges (as a mom and also as a family), but I think that needs to be done on a personal level. Someone who can get to know you and your kids and who gets to understand your family. And, again, while this can be frustrating at times, I think it’s a bigger gift. To know that there’s no one-size-fits all and that you get to decide what’s best for you. I find comfort in that when I catch myself comparing myself as mom to someone else I see in our community or online.
PARENTING BOOKS I’VE LOVED (SO FAR)
When I was pregnant, I tried to avoid reading parenting books and I’m glad I did. I think I was so largely focused on being pregnant, that I couldn’t really see much beyond that and, maybe, the “fourth trimester.” Looking back, I think it was a good thing. Nothing can really prepare you 😜.
Now that I am a mom though, I find myself gravitating towards learning more about parenting beliefs and styles. With a human right in front of me, the stakes feel high in that I don’t want to “mess up.” I know I’ll continue to read parenting books because they really interest me and I find that I learn something from every one that I read. When it comes to parenting books, though, I remind myself (again) that every family is different and each book is not a bible that needs to be followed to the tee. Instead, I take everything with a grain of salt, I make notes of what resonates with me personally, and also recognize that not everything will work for us. I think that’s helpful because sometimes, even in a book I largely love, there will be some parts that are a “nope!” from me. It doesn’t make the book bad and it doesn’t invalidate the parts that do resonate!
– Bringing Up Bebe: A bunch of my friends recommended this to me and it’s the one book I read while pregnant. I think a lot of Americans romanticize French parenting, and in theory I do as well, so I enjoyed learning about what French parents prioritize from the perspective of an ex-pat. Mike read this one as well and we each remind each other of various things from the book as we continue on our parenting journey. (Honestly, now that I’m typing this, I think the idea of “la creche” was what was subconsciously going through my head when we ultimately decided to go with daycare for childcare!)
– Hunt, Gather, Parent: This is a book I’ve continued to think about, especially now that Jack is out of babyhood. This is really about bringing up children in a way that encourages cooperation, and independence based on research about childrearing in various cultures around the world. It really spoke to me with the different values I want to raise children with. That they are part of the family and, therefore, contribute to our family too! Jack is 18 months old and he already has a few chores that he loves doing. (Also to be clear, again, TBD on whether or not this works. He’s obviously not a teenager yet so I’m not claiming to have found the holy grail for parenting 🤣.)
– To Raise A Boy: I read this because I have a boy, but I have to say I think every parent should read this. I had a lot of preconceived notions as a woman about boys, but overall, boys are kind of a mystery to me! I do not know what it was like to be a boy, or a teenage boy, or a man. This book helped me understand boys so much more, what they go through, the challenges they face growing up, what they experience, what they miss out on. etc. It put to rest some of the fears I had as a “boy mom,” and gave me new things to be aware of as well.
– Good Inside: My most recent read, Good Inside spoke. to. me. I have so many good things to say about it. I really love her approach and it’s filled with practical tips and scripts to follow for a host of challenges you might face as a parent from separation anxiety to perfectionism to sleep issues. I listened to the audiobook, but it’s so good I’m ordering a hard copy to I can dog ear pages and highlight sections I want to return to as Jack grows up. This book is like a big, fat hug to both parents and children alike. I often struggle with feeling like I’m not doing enough to be “a good mom” and this book made me feel more confident in my parenting abilities. While I really appreciate reading this book as a mom with a toddler, one thing I love about the book is that the author assures you it’s never to late (even if your children are grown!).
MY OVERALL PHILOSOPHY:
My “chill mom” phrase started as a joke when I was pregnant and turned into my absolute #1 personal philosophy as a parent. It’s what gets me through my days and gives me confidence. Is it a perfect system? Not really. Am I always chill? Definitely not. Overall though, I know I’m a better mom because I try to emulate being a chill mom and even more than that? I enjoy motherhood so much more. I won’t repeat myself here, but you can read about my whole mantra here.
I’m trying to keep this post more of a bird’s eye view because, again, what works for us might not work for someone else. I also don’t want to get into the nitty gritty and be judged for our choices or have someone else feel like I’m judging them for their choices. (Should I add the disclaimers here again that I am no parenting expert myself and I fully recognize that every family is different and what works for one might not apply to another?)
But some schools of thought I like to keep in mind:
– Trusting my gut: With so much noise in the parenting industry (yes it’s an industry and also yes, this post falls into it!), one thing I keep in mind is that I need to trust myself first and foremost. I do have a gut feeling and it’s important to tune into. (I learned this the hard way with a couple of things early on, but I’m glad they happened because it confirmed the importance to trust myself, speak up, and advocate for my child because no one else is going to do it as fiercely as a parent will!)
– Hugs: From day one, I wanted to give Jack as many hugs as possible. I don’t know why it felt paramount to me. Maybe, if nothing else, it’s a reminder to hold onto and be grateful for each moment as a mom because life moves fast.
– Speed Bumps: Before I was a mom, it felt like a no-brainer that I didn’t want to be a helicopter mom or a “snow plow” mom (someone who paves an easy way for their kids). Then you have a baby and, wow, the temptation to save your child from any kind of discomfort is real. I fight the urge daily!! Instead of snow plowing or bulldozing the way, I try to keep in mind that I want to instill the confidence and life skills to handle the speed bumps and road blocks that are a part of life!
– Independence & Confidence: This is going to be a tiny blurb that can only just barely scratch the surface. But I see my role as a mom to be there to help shape a child who will eventually be an adult. I see Jack as his own person, not as an extension of myself. He will have his own experiences and interests and struggles and strengths; he has his own values and passions (yes, even at eighteen months old). What I experienced as a child isn’t what he will experience as a child. His life is different than my life and I hope I do a good job at allowing him to grow into someone he’s proud of!
This is probably one of the hottest and most controversial topics. I’ve even read parenting books that pick apart how influencer portray their lives on Instagram. There is certainly a lot going on and not everything is positive. I actually see it a little differently though. You don’t have to follow anyone you disagree with or anyone who makes you angry or (worse!) feel less then. (And to be clear, there’s a lot I do not agree with that I see online, but it’s not my family and I don’t need to be invested.) BUT…. I love seeing different families on Instagram, in the country and around the world. It doesn’t even have to be that deep, either. Like what are they wearing, what’s their routine, what activities are they doing? I love getting glimpses into other people’s lives, especially when it comes to motherhood.
Something so important that I cannot leave off of this is the importance of community to me in my parenting journey. I’m sure it’s technically possible to parent alone, but community is invaluable to me. (And before anyone comes for me I don’t mean parenting with a partner or without a partner. Families come in all shapes and sizes and grow in all kinds of ways. There is no one path to parenthood.) What I mean is the friends and family you can rely on for guidance, the childcare providers that become family. Your village. I understood the concept before becoming a parent and now that I’m in the throes of parenting, I cannot imagine doing this without emotional and physical support. I don’t believe we were meant to do this without support. I’m grateful for Mike, our families, Jack’s teachers, his activity instructors, my mom friends who have older kids, my mom friends in the same stage of parenting. 🙏🏻