How We Finally Solved Our Electronics Problem: Cutting back on “Screen Time” Painlessly

How to limit screen time with already internet addicted kids

The internet addiction in our family happened slowly…  passing my iphone over to my toddler while out to dinner when food took too long, educational computer games on pbs kids. Electronic games and devices trickled in on birthdays and Christmases.

But PBSKids.org on our family desktop turned to games on the ipad, which turned to youtube, which slowly turned into a seemingly endless supply of mind numbing garbage.  Before I knew it my kids spent less and less time playing and reading and more and more time in front of some kind of internet connected screen.

But screens aren’t just a kid trap… they are a parent trap as well. When kids are plugged in they are blissfully quiet. Electronics don’t make much of a mess. If you have something for everyone to plug into, nobody is fighting. They make long car rides, cooking dinner, and conversations with adults much easier.  Bonus: a screen can help you sneak in that shower, or take a minute to just relax. Adding to the problem, screens can also be easy to justify, TV and educational games have taught my kids a lot. My 4 year old not only learned the word “gravity” from TV but could actually explain it, correctly, in his own words. At least, I thought to myself, the kids were getting a full day of unplugged time at school.

I became concerned when I could see the effects in my kids: diminished creativity, boredom with anything not electronic, lack of play, and just how they are used to consuming information… but pulling the kids away from the internet resulted in tension, fighting and power struggles. Lots of pouting, lots of anger, and a good deal of yelling and crying.

When we started deschooling after being in school I realized that I was going to need to make some big changes. I wasn’t sure how to go about these changes. We tried several different things: recording screen time to reflect back to the kids how much time they were actually spending online. I tried just putting my foot down and limiting screen time that way. I tried “blackout hours” from morning until 4pm.

After almost a year of trying various ways of getting internet usage under control we finally found a system that makes everyone happy. The kids can control their internet usage and I don’t have to get into arguments all the time. The kids are learning about time management, “saving”, delayed gratification and more. Best of all, the same system works for my 4 year old, 9 year old, and 10 year old.

The 30-Minute Ticket System.
Each Monday the kids get 30 minute tickets corresponding with their age (10 for the 10 year old, 9 for my 9 year old and 4 for my 4 year old). They can redeem these tickets at any time of day and use as many at one time as they choose… but once they’re out, they’re out until the next Monday.  Monday, they receive their next set and so on.  Not unlike an allowance, but for the internet. Tickets cover computer, iPad, Xbox, etc. The kids can be given additional 10 minute extension tickets when they are caught being good or helpful or just because at my discretion (asking for or negotiating for one is not allowed).

How we solved our screen time problems

When they choose to use their ticket, they turn it into me and we set the timer together.

I wasn’t sure about this, but to my surprise, it caught on quickly. The next day I woke up at 6 in the morning to the feeling of my 9 year old pushing a ticket into my hand as I slept. 5 hours of screen time a week (including weekends) cuts my 10 year old waaaay back (he’d spend more than 5 hours on electronics a day if I’d let him), but he doesn’t mind.  Of course he’d rather have more time, but the tradeoff is that he gets more control. He no longer needs to ask my permission, or worry about me storming in to tell him to get off the computer because I’ve had enough.

Having something tangible to keep or giveaway has helped the kids really think about using their time wisely. Screens and electronics are no friend to mindfulness, but by redeeming their tickets, they are at least making the choice to be on electronics, rather than doing that by default.

We’ve had exactly 0 arguments after starting this system (although I did get some balking that weekends were included). On just the first day, my oldest finished two books that had been taking him months to read and started two new projects.

Since the tickets were introduced our house is messier, louder, and somehow even wilder, but we’ve spent a whole lot more time together.

 

Why Talking About Autism Is So Complicated

One of my sons is autistic.

This isn’t news to many people I know personally, and it’s not hard to figure out who for those who follow me on instagram.

Sometimes people tell me he doesn’t “look” autistic.  Although it’s a slightly awkward comment, I see what they are saying. Autism doesn’t come with physical traits, although there are some tell-tale quirks. He doesn’t always look autistic… but sometimes he does. It depends on where we are, what we’re doing, and what kind of day he’s having.

There is a very real chance that my son will never “blend in” with the neurotypical world. As he gets older some traits are more pronounced and some less so.

I struggle with talking about autism for a few reasons. Here they are in no particular order.

I want my son to own his autism.  If my son chooses to identify as an Autistic, and wear his autism with a badge of pride, I want him to feel empowered to do so.  If my son wants to be viewed with a more person-first identity… a person who has autism, I want to be respectful of that.  As my son gets older, he will form his own opinions of self. And while I want him to be proud of who he is, I realize this can come in many forms. I want to give him the space to form his own identity without too heavy an influence from me.

I don’t want my son to think we are hiding his autism.  I just want him to feel in control of his personal information as much as a social media addicted millennial mother can allow.

At the same time, parenting is complicated. Add something like autism into the mix and it gets exponentially more complicated. Sometimes, I want to talk about autism with others to share the unique experience of loving and raising a person with autism.

In our house, autism is not a bad thing. I don’t hate autism… in fact, there are many amazing things about autism.  But this is pretty easy for me to say; I might have a very different perspective if my child were less verbal, or tended to run or wander away, if I worried about his safety when he had a meltdown, or the safety of others.  While we want to instill pride and confidence in our son, I can’t pretend that autism isn’t difficult and much different for many other families. I view autism through a fairly privileged lense; when I talk about autism, I have to be aware of that.

We want him to get assistance when he needs it, but we also don’t want him to feel like we want to “fix” him.

We want people to look at him for who he is, with or without the label depending on his preference, not ours.

So… until the day that my son can tell me his preferences, I’ll be pretty tight lipped on the more personal autism stuff.

But I made a little request on my personal Facebook page and I’ll make it here too:

Whatever your perspective on autism… whatever you think the cause, or what you think autism “looks like”, whether you have an idea of what autism is all about or not, seek some new information today.

Here are a few places to start:

Autistic Self Advocacy Network

Autism Network International

Blogs by Autistic Bloggers

Have a question about autism? “Ask an Autistic” YouTube vlogs  by Amethyst Schaber

Why Deschooling Was Important For Our Homeschool

I was told by more than one homeschool expert we were supposed to “deschool” after starting our homeschool. To me, this concept was a little scary.
What exactly is deschooling, and what is the point?

What We Learned From Deschooling- Why Deschooling helped our homeschool

At first I found deschooling was a surprisingly difficult process. Everything I knew about education came from traditional schools; the idea that we weren’t supposed to be formally learning anything just felt… wrong. Even though I felt like the general idea of deschooling made sense, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was supposed to discover at the end of it… and perhaps more perplexing… how would we know when “deschooling” was over?

But I told myself to trust “the process” and from June to January, we embarked on what I called “The Longest Summer Ever“. We took trips, visited a few parks and museums, listened to audio books, gazed at stars, took long walks on the beach, and did a little soul searching until we came to a point where we got a little restless.

It was time.

Sometime in October, I really started to understand why deschooling was important.

I also understood why people had a hard time articulating exactly deschooling was so important.

Deschooling allowed me to take a step back and observe our new family dynamic, see they way they learned and what they were interested in.  It is only after school really, truly, isn’t a factor anymore that everyone settles into their more natural tendencies and the family dynamic starts to shift.  After deschooling for a few months, I could really step back and see how to fit a homeschool around my child, rather than a child around my homeschool.  I was pleased that some of my ideas about how I wanted our school to go were confirmed, but I was also a little bit surprised.

Here are deschooling taught us about what we need in our homeschool:

We need fresh air. 

Surprisingly, the boys don’t always agree with me on this, but getting outside has been essential to keeping the peace in the house. I can always tell if we haven’t had enough outdoor time when people get lazy and start bickering.  EVERYONE, even the reluctant ones, feel better once we’re out and about, and that feeling extends long after we get home.  Our homeschool must incorporate plenty of time outside and exploring.

Mornings set the tone.

After trying a few different ways of doing mornings, I realized it was the morning that set the tone for the day. We’re a group that loves to sleep in and stay in our pjs so the temptation is to start late. But I found that if we aren’t up, dressed and fed by at least 9 we never seem to get our day back.

We need a schedule.

I am not a person who naturally falls into a schedule on my own and neither are the kids, so we need to make a conscious effort to implement one.  Nothing strict, but having some kind of schedule adds predictability to our day, which keeps everyone happier.

STEM is everywhere; the humanities resources are harder to find.

There are thousands of resources out there: local events, books, games, toys, and programs, but the humanities are not nearly as emphasized.  I get why STEM is so important, but the humanities are as well. With STEM enrichment resources being so plentiful, we’ll be working extra hard to balance them out with heavy doses of art, history and English.

Unschooling is not for (all of) us.

When I decided to homeschool, I promised myself to be flexible… after all, that’s one of the huge advantages to homeschooling in the first place.  I promised that if something didn’t work, I’d do my best to recognize that and throw it out.

The homeschool I envisioned was more child-led. I wanted the kids to take ownership of their education and run with it. I would be involved of course, but more in the role of supporter than teacher. Finally, my oldest son came up to me and said, “I need you to just tell me what to learn and I’ll learn it.”  Oops.

After I thought about it, I understood why.
Sometimes, when I find myself with a few hours alone, I am absolutely frozen with indecision on what to do, often I waste the time simply because I can’t choose between all the possibilities. The kids felt the same way.  There’s a whole wide world out there with a lot to learn; there are hundreds and thousands of things to discover and it caused the kids to feel like a deer in headlights.

While I still love the idea of a child-led education, we’ve moved to much more of a parent-led education than I expected.  I call it “teacher-led, child-influenced.”

 

Of course, we would have come to these conclusions eventually anyway, but deschooling gave us an unhurried, pressure free opportunity to figure out exactly what we wanted. To my surprise, after deschooling the transition to our more “formal” schooling (which I’ll share more about soon) was surprisingly smooth.

And so our homeschool journey has been a little bit of a winding road; I imagine that it will do quite a bit more winding before we’re through. Now, we’re all feeling refreshed and looking forward to what this school year will bring us.

 

Why I Ditched The Chore Chart — But Not the Chores

Why I ditched the chore chart-- but not the chores

IMG_4919.PNGFor the past couple of years there has been a chore chart on our refrigerator.

I had listed a daily set of chores that each child would be responsible for based on ability. Occasionally I’d get the kids to complete the items on the list, but mostly the chart sat on the fridge and collected dust. When I asked them to do their chores, there was a chorus of complaints; whining and bickering would grate my nerves and cause me to grumble about how lucky they are and how I don’t make them do anything, grumble, grumble, grumble, stomp, stomp.

But not too long ago, I ditched the chart all together and started a new approach.

What appealed to me about a chore chart was that it’s pretty easy.  No questions really: each person has a chore, then they do it and check it off the list. I made it myself so each chore was appropriate for each age and nobody had more than two items a day.

My problem with it was 2 fold:

First, it was easy.
There was absolutely no thinking involved. The kids looked for their item on the chore list and nothing else, and completed their item regardless of whether or not it really needed to be done, or if something else needed more attention. The dishes could be piled high in the sink and on the counter, but if their job was to pick up the toys in the spotless living room, then that’s what they did and be off doing something else, with the dishes still in the sink.

Second, I took away the chance to do something too difficult.
Dividing chores up by age and ability stopped the kids from doing something that was a little too difficult for them.  If there’s such a thing as dumbing down chores, that’s what I had done.  Since then I learned that, with a little patience and practice, Marlowe at 3 can easily put his clothes on hangers and fold his own pants… but his previous chores had been wiping down tables or cabinets (a chore now most often handed to Langston… yes, the 18 month old).

So, we’ve switched up our morning chore routine to reflect what I want the kids to get out of chores rather than to just get things done.

Instead of telling the kids what to do each day, I now ask the kids to make observations themselves. Each day before we do our chores (for us this happens at our morning meeting before homeschool), I ask the boys to take a look around and see what might need to be done (I usually add one or two items that I’ve observed).  Then we create our list of chores for the day and they divide them up amongst themselves.

While I realize I’m a parent, and work all the time, I also do chores at this time so they see me pitch in and know that I am available to help them when necessary.

Now we do chores with much more frequency than we used to (nearly every day) and there’s hardly any grumbling anymore from any of us. Occasionally, I’ll get a heavy sigh or a groan when they sign up for a certain job, but the requirement isn’t to not like chores, just to do them, so I ignore it.

I can’t say our house is much cleaner (by afternoon everything has exploded again), but in my mind, a cleaner home is only a benefit of what chores really are: a chance to learn how to work together for the good of the household.

 

 

Raising Helpers.

raising helpers

Raising children to be helpful

Most days we have a morning meeting over breakfast.

It’s pretty simple: we start with what day it is and how everyone is feeling; we’ll each talk about what we have on our mind and what we would like to accomplish during the day or week.

Monday morning, I gave the kids a challenge for the week ahead:

The kids had to find a time during each day to ask the question, “How can I help?”
They could ask  me or Jeff this question about something around the house; or our babysitter, their Nana, a stranger, or anyone. They could open it up beyond that, too. If they hear of anything on the news or in discussion, they could ask themselves, “how can I help?”
It didn’t matter so much who or how; what was important was to ask the question (and then actually help) daily.

I wasn’t sure how well it would catch on, but I didn’t want to harp on it, so I decided to change the way I ask them to do things around the house throughout the day.  Instead of saying, “Max, can you watch Langston for a minute while I fix your brother a snack,” I would start with, “Max I need your help.”  Instead of asking Marlowe to pick the books up off the floor, I started saying, “Marlowe, can you please help me”.

Raising helpful children.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, but the boys have  been absolutely amazing. So amazing, actually, that I’ve decided to give myself the same challenge.

For the past week, I’ve been overwhelmed with many different calls to action, both on a political and a community level…so many things to get involved with, so many organizations doing great work in need of help.  What if I just asked this question once a day? It doesn’t have to be a big.  Can I devote 10 minutes a day to doing something that makes a difference? Can I make a phone call to my representatives? Can I attend a meeting? Can I volunteer? Can I make a donation to an organization? Can I offer someone help? Can I add canned food to my grocery list? Can I assemble a care package? Or maybe I can spend 10 minutes informing myself about a local candidate or cause?

Hopefully, this is a new habit for our whole family, myself included.

Raising children who help out

Putting Black Lives Matter into Perspective: Our Study of American History.

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Note to reader: I don’t think Black Lives Matter is political per se, although I do understand that the movement itself has political consequences as well they should.  I hope that this is about as political as I’ll get on the blog but also felt it was important to share how or homeschool allows us and encourages us to dig a little deeper into current events and learn about how our history shapes our current political and social landscape. 

I’ve never been good at memorising facts or dates, but history has always been important to me. History is the context by which we make incredibly important decisions and history is a window to understanding other cultures. This is why history will a very significant part of our homeschool.

I’ve mentioned before that I feel that raising young men is a great responsibility. Raising any child there is responsibility of course, but raising boys that become white male allies is important, and the privilege that comes with being white and male creates it’s own hurdles. One of those hurdles is that it is still too easy to learn history through a white male perspective provided in many of our history books.

I also found that as I was answering questions about Black Lives Matter they had little historical context… What they had learned went something like “Slavery, Abe Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr has a dream, everything is great because black and white kids can be friends.” I think this lack of context is why (white) people seem so surprised by the Black Lives Matter movement… as if it came from nowhere.

This is why we’ve decided that we will be studying American history from the first slaves landing in Jamestown in 1619 to the current #BlackLivesMatter movement. We’ll end our period of study with at trip to the National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington DC.

I know, my timing is off because it’s not black history month. Why start in November and not February? Because I intend for this study to take much longer than 28 (or 29) days. In fact, I have no end date for this particular theme. We’ll spend as long as we need in order to make it through. When we study African American History, we study American History so we’ll learn about a few notable white men along the way too.

Of course, we’ll still be taking hikes and playing in nature, that never stops, but if you are following our adventures on the blog and on Instagram you’ll likely see many trips and activities related to this subject as well.

Current events have informed our study and our recent trip to Jamestown was a perfect jumping off point. I feel very fortunate that we have the freedom to learn history this way.

 

Here’s what we’ve checked out from the library to begin our study:
(Amazon affiliate links below if you don’t find these at the library or cannot find a local bookstore which carries them. If you cannot buy locally, please consider purchasing through my link to help support this blog.)

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Chains (The Seeds of America Trilogy)  by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Underground Abductor An Abolitionist Tale about Harriet Tubman – Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales
Frederick’s Journey The Life of Frederick Douglass  by Doreen Rappaport
Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine
Dear Benjamin Banneker  by Andrea Davis Pinkney
Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton by Don Tate
Phillis’s Big Test By Catherine Clinton

I’ll keep an updated list of books in posts every so often as we go along.

Please feel free to leave us recommendations of places to go or books to read on facebook, instagram or on the blog as we go!

Our First Year of Homeschool: Small Changes in Our First 2 Months.

Hello from the beach!

Homeschool on the beach

My mother in law invited us to join her on a short trip to North Myrtle Beach so we hopped in the car on Monday to join her. I thought for sure 70 degrees would be too cold for the kids to get in the water but I was wrong, and the kids spent the afternoon with their pants and shorts rolled up running in and out of the water with the tide.

Our first year of homeschool

Adjusting to our new homeschool life has certainly had it’s challenges but the freedom to do things like this make it worth it.

In the past few weeks we’ve been to Shenandoah, Northern Virginia, Maryland, Jamestown and now South Carolina.

We’re still in that deschooling phase, adjusting to our new way of life. I’ll admit I was occasionally frustrated that after 2 weeks of “deschooling” nobody suddenly woke up saying “I want to learn calculus” or “I can’t wait to go on a 3 hour hike today!”.

When people talk about deschooling, or unschooling for that matter, the narrative always seems to be “we relaxed and now my child is reading above grade level/is a math genius/designed a rocket that actually went to the moon and back”

But we’re not focused on the product, we’re focused on the process. And lately I’ve noticed some little things that are telling me that we’re on the right track.

Max, who hates learning, is asking more questions. “What kind of bug is that?” “Can I listen to that book while we drive?” “Can I take a picture of that?”

Hudson, who used to cry every time he had reading homework, sleeps with a giant stack of books in his bed. He looks at the pictures every night. He’s sounding words out on his own out of curiosity. And he’ll sit and listen to me read until I have no voice left.

Hudson’s speech therapist remarked that he seems like a “totally different kid” that he walks in more relaxed and ready to work.

The kids are asking to collect things. They are keeping themselves more entertained outside. And I even heard the words “I’ve been on the computer enough today” come from my 10 year old.

We haven’t made actual rockets, nobody has discovered a secret hidden genius. But we’re learning, and that’s what our homeschool is all about.

our process learning about homeschool

Boys Will Be Boys: A Mother’s Plea For Help.

Sigh.

I can’t wait to talk about my weekend trip to WOW Summit but this seems to be more pressing given the circumstances.

As many of us have, I have been watching the recent news about Donald Trump’s comments with horror.

Just as I read in horror the coverage of Stanford University’s Brock Turner.

Just have I have sat in horror reflecting many, many comments which are explained away with statements like “boys will be boys”.

Yes, boys will be boys.

As you may have noticed… I’m surrounded by quite a few boys.  In addition to having 4 boys of my own and having been married for 10 years, I have a father and a brother and grew up having many male friends. Regardless of whether or not I had any of those, I live in a society dominated by “boys”.

Boys Will Be Boys A Mother's Plea For Help - A Multifaceted Mama

Over the years, I have learned a thing or two about boys:

I have learned that fart jokes are almost always funny.

I have learned to tolerate a little rough housing as long as they move the coffee table out of the way first.

I know that no matter how much I clean the bathroom it might never matter.

I know that they may have trouble expressing themselves, or freeze when you do. Boys might say things that make your eyes roll, because it’s gross or dense or just plain annoying.

I know a lot girls like the above too.

But I know something else about boys:

I know that they can listen.

I know that they, like girls, look up to role models.

I know they can control their behavior.

I know they can control what they say.

I know they can think of others before themselves.

I know they can treat people with respect.

I know they can understand the meaning of the word ‘stop’.

I know they can be caring brothers, and fathers, and friends.

I know they can tell the difference between right and wrong.

I know they can be emotional.

I know they take cues from their parents and our society.

And I know that boys can live up to the expectations we set for them.

These are the type of boys that I hope my boys will be.

Every day as I raise my 4 boys I remember this. Every day there is some example, somewhere that I can set for them… and every day there is some example somewhere that makes that job more difficult.

Sure, we all have our flaws, but being a boy doesn’t have to be a flaw. Being a boy doesn’t mean that they will be vulgar, or disrespectful. It doesn’t mean that they can ignore people’s boundaries. It doesn’t mean they can take what they want without asking.

We TEACH them what being a boy means. Every day. We show them what it means when we give them passes for bad behavior because they are “just being boys”.  We teach them that it’s okay to behave poorly when they see other “boys” get away with it.

And so, I am asking you to help me.  Give my sons the credit they deserve. Don’t write them off, hold them to a higher standard.  Give them role models who set the example of who boys can be.  Help me show them that boys can be strong without being cruel and that kindness and strength are not mutually exclusive.

Hold boys, including mine, accountable. Start when they’re little. They can take it. Don’t let them get away with being less than what we know they can be. They are better than that. I promise you I will do my absolute best to make sure that my boys live up to the standard we set for them.

Help me teach them what it means to be a boy.  Because, yes, boys will be boys… but eventually these boys will become men.

If this post resonates with you, please feel free to share.
Raising boys. Boys will be boys.

Homeschool Adventures: Slowing Down

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In some ways the past couple weeks have flown by; in some ways they’ve crawled by.

Several people have asked me how homeschool is going and I haven’t really had the ability to answer that question.

Two weeks ago, everyone went back to school. I had been meaning to write a post about it, but the day sort of came and went.  We spent what would have been our “first day of school” wandering the woods of a local park, spotting mushrooms and turtles.  Since then, the days have passed doing much the same thing.

One of the many reasons I wanted to homeschool was because I wanted things to slow down.

It’s not that the kids are growing up too fast (they are) or that I felt we never had time for any extra stuff during the school year (we didn’t).  It’s that childhood is an amazing time in our lives and I don’t want to rush that. We feel pressure to focus so much on results as parents and not so much on the process… the childhood part. That part we never get back.

The problem with the rushing is that it never ends. Forget about the discovery; it’s about getting good grades. It’s not about grades, it’s about college. It’s not about college, it’s about your Masters. It’s not about your Masters, it’s about your job. It’s not about your job, it’s about the job title, or the pay raise. It’s about the big house. It’s about your kids’ grades. It’s about your kids’ schools…

There’s always a next step.  But really, those next steps come all the same whether we rush through our daily life or walk slowly. And so I wanted us to let ourselves walk slowly and just be in the present for a little while.

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Explore a little more. Try something new. Make time for failure.

But what has been surprising over the course of these two weeks is that, regardless of how much I wanted it, slowing down isn’t easy.  At least it hasn’t been for me.

It feels weird. We’ve felt a little out of sync with the world around us. I’m sure the kids have felt out of sync with their friends.

Over the summer, the rest of the world slowed down, so we felt in pace with our peers… but when Fall comes and things start picking back up for everyone else it’s hard to maintain that steady pace. It’s hard not to rush.

And so, occasionally, the panic sets in.

We aren’t doing anything. The kids aren’t learning… not enough… not the right things.

There’s so much knowledge out there and I’m not CRAMMING IT INTO THEIR BRAINS, testing them and moving on to the next thing.

They’ll never go to college if I don’t make them do workbooks.

They’ll be woefully unprepared for life if I don’t make them write essays right now.

And then I try to remember to breathe…

And trust my kids, myself, and this slowing down process.

And soak up the long walks, and seize the opportunities to try new things.

As firm as I feel in our decision to homeschool, and even though so far the situation has been pretty idyllic so far… I didn’t anticipate how difficult the adjustment would be.

So I apologize for being a little slow to post.  Time is moving a little differently than it was before.

For the Moms Who Don’t Love Everything

I’ve noticed a weird trend and I’m not sure if it’s a recent thing or not…

But somewhere there seems to be this idea that we are supposed to look back on every memory of parenthood and miss them… we’re supposed to love the tough moments and the hard days because that’s what good mothers do. Even if, on the rare occasion we’re not loving this particular moment right now, we’ll look back and treasure these precious moments of motherhood. We’ll miss these moments… even the tough ones.

And maybe you will.

But it’s okay if you don’t.

You don’t have to love the 5AM wake up call now, and you don’t have to love it later either.

You don’t have to love pregnancy.

You don’t have to love breastfeeding.

You don’t have to love the Target tantrum or the days you felt like you were stuck in an endless loop between the dishwasher and the washing machine.

You might look back on some days of life with kids and shudder.

You can love your kids without adoring every single habit and quality.

You can love motherhood without relishing every single minute.

But maybe you do, maybe you cry on the first day of kindergarten and miss the midnight breastfeeding snuggles and that’s okay too.  How sentimental you are about these moments, or which moments you do or don’t enjoy about motherhood does not determine how “good” of a mother you are.

There are many aspects to the “mommy wars” but I think that the most upsetting part isn’t parenting styles it’s the HOW MUCH DO YOU LOVE IT competition.

I loved being pregnant and I have encouraged moms to find the joy in it… but I understand why it’s not for everyone. If pregnancy isn’t your favorite season of parenting you’re not doomed from the start. I had a miserable time breastfeeding my second and a wonderful time breastfeeding my third but I don’t love them differently as a result. Sometimes raising children can just be difficult. Not “difficult but…” Just difficult.

We accept that we don’t have to love every single part of our lives… why do we set the expectation on ourselves and others to love every single part of parenting?

So, for the moms who don’t love everything I say this:

For better or worse our crappy days are just that. They’re crappy days. You don’t have to love them, you just have to get through them.  And if you’re making it through and doing your best (whatever your best is under the circumstances)… I think that’s good mom enough.

 

Moms who don't love everything about parenting