PARENTING RESOURCES

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Parenting. There are a million opinions here, but I’ve found some general guidelines that have helped guide my parenting so far. From the research I’ve seen, connecting with your child and developing a strong relationship even from infancy is the greatest contributing factor in fostering development across all areas. Here are some resources I like:

zerotothree.org. Provides a variety of researched based articles on early learning and parenting topics.

Positive Discipline For Today’s Busy (and Overwhelmed) Parent. By Jane Nelson, Kristina Bill, and Joy Marchese. This book is the latest in a series of Positive Parenting, there are also books specifically for birth to three, preschoolers, teens, and a variety of other populations. This one is specifically for working parents, which I learned, are 75% of moms in America. I liked that the book takes the unique perspective of the working mom into account, and addresses issues such as mom guilt, limited time, and also gives kind of a roadmap for positive discipline, making the point that connected and really good parenting also exists for the working mom too. I loved it.

No Drama Discipline. We know from research that connection and attachment are the basis for all kinds of areas within child development, and this book recognizes this concept. There is a great metaphor for "flipping your lid" in this book, with the brain like the palm of a fist and then all finger extended like you are making the number "4" sign. When your "lid is flipped," you are in flight or fight mode, and similarly in marital argument, you can't make decisions clearly or act rationally when you're in that state. You need to get your body and brain calm again before being able to work through something. Similarly with a child, when they get to that state, (tantrum, etc.) the first priority is helping them (and yourself) regulate and calm down, before addressing the cause of the situation.

More books:

The Emotional Life of the Toddler

Parenting From the Inside Out

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk

The Whole Brain Child

One piece of encouragement I wanted to include was that I learned that we don’t have to be perfect parents 100% of the time to have good outcomes for our kids. I have heard this statistic cited multiple times, although I cannot find the source, but I’ve heard that mothers who respond to their babies in 30% of opportunities are linked to good outcomes for development. We try to meet all the needs of everybody all the time, and yet, we are human and we cannot. Doing our best, connecting with our child, offering empathy and compassion, will go a long way in sending the message that our children are seen, known, loved, and belong. I can think of no greater gift for a child.

Shared in partnership with the publicity team for Positive Parenting. I received a copy of the book for review, although all opinions are my own.

FIGHTING COMPARISION WITH GRATITUDE

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I was recently interviewed on my friend Ali Wren's new podcast, and we chat motherhood, work, authentic friendships, how I don't try to do it all anymore, and how I fight the comparison trap online. It was so fun to chat, and I realized that while I've written about the comparison trap online before, it seems like it's always worth a revisit, no matter what stage of life we find ourselves in.

I love these words I wrote four summers ago:

I have so many good things, the best things, in life. Even so, there will always be the temptation to covet something of someone else's. That car or that house or that Europe trip or a baby by that age. When this sneaks in, I remember that we almost never have the full story, and I cannot compare any aspect of my life to someone else's. In the same way that every detail of my life is not on Instagram, neither is everyone else's.

Thanks to Instagram and good lighting, our lives look pretty dreamy from the outside. This summer my husband and I were asked to model in a variety of styled photo shoots, and we have thousands of amazing photos from this summer alone. I know other people with incredible photos and how easy it is to fall into the trap that what you see in the photo represents every single moment in their life. Every moment of my life is not filled with mountain top kisses in Banff, or modeling in styled wedding photo shoots. Along with the great moments, our lives are also filled with everything from laundry and dirty dishes, to traffic and cavities, and to even bigger, serious disappointments and devastating losses. Not even close to a fraction of those are represented on my social media outlets.

From Comparison Is The Thief of Joy, blog post 2014.

I wrote those words four years ago, pre-kids, and now as a mom it rings even more true. There are a million aspects of pregnancy/motherhood/child raising that I have (embarrassingly, but admittedly) compared myself and my unique story to others'. Among them: how much weight I gained (more than most), how quickly my child met his milestones (about the same as most), when I went back to work (later than most), how many words he has (more than most), when we bought our first house (later than most), and so on.

If given the opportunity, I can compare myself to just about anything. It seems like I'm constantly assessing: do I fit in here? Do I have the right (fill in the blank) - home decor, brand of jeans, number of kids, years of spacing between said kids, work hours, work life balance, etc.? Am I accepted? Am I ok? Do I matter? Am I seen and known and loved and still liked?

And the answer is always yes, a resounding yes. And no, it does not hinge on the "things," the size of your bank account or your house, what you wear or what you do, or what your kids wear or what your kids do. Daily, our culture tries to trick us into thinking otherwise.

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And so, potty training. (A logical link for this topic, yes?)

One of our friends announced recently that they potty trained their 23 month old. It is embarrassing to say that my first thought was not a heartfelt, "Congratulations, so happy for you," but a, "Woah, that's early," followed by a, "Should I be doing that?" It made me stop and think, "What does this really make me feel?"

And if I get really honest, the answer is: comparison. And if go a little deeper: insecurity and jealousy.

Motherhood can be so brutal sometimes.

Here's the truth: we all have good things and hard things in our lives. Even among people, every adult and every child has unique and wonderful strengths and gifts, and also, weakness and potential "areas of growth," shall we say. Comparing ourselves, our homes, our marriages, our kids, or any aspect of our lives to anyone else's is a long and dark rabbit hole where nothing productive results at the end (except maybe an empty bottle or two of rosé).

My best plan of attack in overcoming comparison is by replacing it with gratitude. I turn my eyes from that person's life to my own, and I list, preferably in writing, all the things I am grateful for, from the extravagant to the mundane. My list today could look like: iced coffee, an early morning run, ripe summer tomatoes, dinners on the back deck, a joyful and talkative 2 year old, a present husband who is a playful dad to our son, late night grocery runs for blackberry ice cream, my work online and off, late summer sun, the backyard play house.

These are gifts I have been given and are unique to me and my story. When I have these at the forefront of my mind, I can be so much quicker to join in the joy for my friends and their gifts in their story, because I know I have spots of joy in my life, too. We all have them. There is enough to go around - enough goodness, enough moments of connection, enough triumphs and successes. When I remember this, it frees me up to join in and celebrate with my friends in all aspects of their lives, not just the easy ones.

So, potty training is on the back burner for us now, and more importantly, my attitude towards the whole thing has shifted. We will do it when he seems ready and probably not a moment sooner. Until then, I'm finding gratitude in the big and small things in my life and doing my best to stay in my own lane.

This post is sponsored by Ubbi, the maker of our favorite diaper pail, and the potty that we will (in a long time, when we're ready) use for potty training. I liked it because it's 3-in-1 design: a potty, a seat trainer and a step stool (separate from the potty part) so you don't have to buy individually. Thank you Ubbi for your innovative baby products we use and love.

MODERN FARMHOUSE PLAYSET DIY

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A playset has been on my wish list for a while now, but even the ones at Costco run about $1,000, so when our friends were giving away their well loved set for free, we jumped on the opportunity. Getting it was probably the hardest part. Daniel spent a couple days dissembling it into a few main pieces with our friends, and then rented a huge u-haul truck to transport it still mostly in tact.

When we reassembled it it looked like this:

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The bones were in great shape but the stain was peeling in lots of places. We pressure washed it and transformed it with paint in one afternoon.

This paint sprayer is one of my favorite tools for big DIY projects. We used it previously to spray all the doors in our house, and if we ever do walls again, I'd use this instead of rolling. It makes big project go so incredibly fast. They are pricey, but you might be able to rent one or borrow one.

It has a bit of a learning curve - there is a lot of paint loading, getting the air out, priming the pump, and troubleshooting throughout. But it really is a game changer for a project like this one.

We used two gallons of Behr Exterior Satin paint in Simply White by Benjamin Moore and a quart of the black. I can't remember the name of the black but I think it's something standard by Behr.

We debated priming but decided to just go for it without it. This is a playhouse, not Pinterest. It doesn't need to be perfect and we really wanted this project to go as fast as possible since we were racing against the weather and naptime. We just sprayed white paint all over the interior and exterior, on the already assembled play set (we did remove the swings, door, and rock climbing holds - on the back, not pictured).  It didn't matter than some paint got on the grass because it will grow and get mowed, and the slide we kept yellow and I didn't care about the over spray there. We only did one coat of white and it took almost exactly two gallons for interior and exterior. Once that was dry Daniel hand painted the roof in black and I did the windows with a small brush.

This playset is literally the playset of my dreams and I can't believe we got it for free. The total cost for us was about $72 - just the cost of paint. While not very much money, the difference it makes it absolutely incredible. Hopefully this inspires someone to scour Craigslist and OfferUp to find a great deal and then refinish it inexpensively. The hours of outside play and entertainment this has already provided has been well worth it. And the summer is only just beginning.

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Trey likes to come up to this window and pretend play. He'll ask me, "Mama order a coffee? Mama order a taco?" Yes please to both.

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So happy with this! We're calling it Trey's second birthday gift - just a few weeks early. This will be a gift that literally keeps on giving.