Category Archives: parenting class

#6 Enjoy (don’t Endure)

Are We Having Fun Yet? That is the title of the first parenting book I’ve read in 2012.  Okay, so it’s the first one I’ve read in 2011 too.  And no, I’m not really having fun.

Those who know me have heard a lot of complaints about parenthood from me.  I started this blog to help me change that, to focus on the positive.  I thought maybe by writing about the things I can do, rather than the things I can’t, might help me start feeling adequate as a mother, and maybe even happy.  You may notice that I haven’t written many posts here.  I guess the complaints are winning.

Reluctantly, I picked up this book at our local, amazing, toy library.  Are We Having Fun Yet?  The 16 Serets of Happy Parenting by Kay Willis and Maryann B. Brinley.  Sometimes the cheesy sounding books really are just that, cheesy.  They are surface and too simple to be useful in what I consider a complicated life.

The book however, really is perfect for where I am right now.  It’s short and sweet, and not preachy.  It really all boils down to how you can change your attitude to enjoy, rather than endure, parenting.  Of course, there are some other good tips in there as well, and lots of stories about how Kay raised then children, and how successful she was at that.  I do find myself feeling a little guilty at times while reading it though.  Kay has always wanted to be a mother, since she was nine years old.  Ever since I was nine years old I have wanted to be single, and to be childless.  Of course I changed my mind momentarily… but that desire does come back now that I am a mother.  I’ve read a lot of great articles this month though that have been helping me change my bad attitude about mothering.

The best resources will meet you where you are, and present an honest picture of mothering: it’s incredibly hard (an understatement), but has unimaginable and heavenly rewards.

The first suggestion in this book was that happy parents enjoy each developmental stage their child is in, instead of enduring it.  So, I’m trying to take that to heart.  Instead of hoping and planning for that next stage that will be so much better, so much easier, I am trying to notice the sweet things that my children are doing in the stages they are in.  Instead of saying, “It will be so much easier when she stops wetting her pants!”  I’m trying to focus on “It’s so fun to see the delight she takes in making it to the potty on her own initiative.”  Someday soon it won’t seem like an accomplishment at all, but just an unconscious part of her daily life.

When you are in a crisis moment and are crying on the couch, don’t pick up this book and feel guilty.  Just eat some chocolate and be kind to yourself.  Allow those moments.  But when you lay in bed and night, thinking over the day, wanting some ideas for how tomorrow could be better, read this book.  Try making a list of all the things you enjoy about your child, and tomorrow, try to cherish them.

#7 Meditate

This is the post I have imagined writing since I started this blog.  But first, I had to meditate.  Perhaps you are like me, and meditation seems like a great idea, and you want to try it someday.  Maybe it in on your “to do” list.  I can be a little manic-crazy at times, and really low and lazy and slow at other times.  I was hoping meditation would help me out with this, with the highs and lows, with being more intentional.  I wanted to do it regularly, maybe even daily.  Of course, writing this now, I can say that though I have finally tried meditation, I am no expert.  Maybe no one ever is though.  Meditation is like that.  It’s an experience, an experience that is different for everyone, an experience where there are lots of ways, but no right or wrong way.  It’s a bit like parenting that way.  You’re never an expert, or else everyone already is.  You’ll never master it.  It will never be done.  You’ll never get a gold star for doing it, and if you do it right, no one need every know how much work you put into it, and how many wonderful things come of it.  Why would I want to do ANOTHER thing like that?  You may ask.  Because this time, it’s just for you.

I started with the book 8 Minute Meditation, by Victor Davich, recommended (and bought) for me by my dad.  It’s a very straight-forward introduction to meditation, and it succeeded in getting me stared meditation with very little fuss or bother.  I found the author’s enthusiastic praise and fuss around the actual practice to be pretty annoying, but still, I started meditating, eight minutes a day.  That lasted until the book was finished being read.  I hadn’t meditated since then, until I started attending a mindfulness parenting group this month.  The instructor introduced me to a series of free guided meditations available through iTunes here.  Wow!  Maybe these are just what I needed.  I’m really enjoying using ten minutes of my afternoon, while my baby sleeps, to tune in, and to tune out.  I hope to keep the practice up.  I hope it continues to settle me into myself, and into the world.

How about you?  What meditation practices have you tried?  What has worked?  When do you find time?

#5 Paint Your Nails, Go Ahead!

In the past four years I have gone from boafide hippie to chic Mama.  Yes, it’s possible to be both at the same time, especially in a hip, liberal, pot-growing town in British Columbia.  And yes, it’s possible I have been and always will remain both of these things.  However, my appearances, and how I keep them up, has changed quite drastically since I’ve gotten married and had children.

I have thought a lot about why I cut off my dreadlocks and began visiting salons, seeking out hair stylists, buying nail polish, putting on my face, shaving, plucking, and yes, even waxing.  These feminine routines of making myself up are things I haven’t done in years.  I haven’t been this interested in makeup, hairspray, and razors since high-school.  Perhaps the glitter, pink nail polish, and hairdryer I can blame on the resurgence of 1980’s big and loud styles.  But shaving?  There’s obviously more to it than that.

All these little routines take time.  If I want to blow-dry my hair, I have to make time to do it.  I have to ignore the children, set aside their wanting to be held, wanting to help, wanting another vitamin C wafer, for five minutes and just let the hot air of the hairdryer blow everything away.  It takes two hands.  I can’t hold a toddler on my hip, wipe a nose.  For five minutes, I am my own agent.

My new interest in making myself fancy is really just another way of taking care of myself.  Self Care is, for me, the most important thing a parent can do to maintain a happy family, a happy marriage, and healthy children.  It’s no different than putting the instructions on the airplane – If you are traveling with a child, put on your own mask before assisting your child.

In a recent parenting class I took in town, we had a long conversation about Self Care.  The instructor brought up the airplane reference, and one mother asked why in the world anyone would put on their own oxygen mask before putting one on their child.  She said she’d never understood or agreed with that instruction, knowing that she would always assist her child first.  For me, Self Care is self evident.  I have always been pretty good at looking out for Number One, for the only person I can really change, for myself.  That is my personality, my gift and my burden.  But even I have had to consciously carve out moments for myself since I’ve become a mother.  If I need help and reminders to do this, I know that most mothers do.

So go ahead, paint your nails.  Fall is coming, and with it, closed-toed shoes.  No one even has to know.  Buy a cheap little pedicure kit with a nail buffer and a file for your rough callouses.  After the kids are asleep or whenever you can wrangle someone else into watching them, give yourself an hour just for primping.  Soak your feet.  Rub lotion into them.  Care for your cuticles.  Buy a new color of nail polish that you love and slather it on.  Sit still.  Let it dry.  Read a book for a while, then apply another coat.  If you have time, put on a sheer top coat too.  If it’s sloppy the first time, no worries.  You just took an hour for yourself.  You can’t do much while your toenails are drying.  Fingernails are even more time consuming… forget helping your toddler to use the toilet on a midnight potty break if your nails are drying.  You’ll just have to get your partner to do that.

Revel in these little luxuries, or find some of your own that make you feel pampered, beautiful, and put together.  Even more important, make sure they are time consuming.  I mean it.  That time you take is an act, and it will convince you more than my words ever will that it’s okay to take care of yourself.