Let Them Be Little

Why am I always trying so hard to rush my kids to grow up? I put a lot of pressure on them to be “big” and do things for themselves.

That’s not always a bad thing. I know they need to learn eventually and if I’m always doing everything for them they never will. But sometimes I wonder if I’m stealing their childhood.

Is society’s sense of urgency making me parent that way?

When my kids were babies, I just wanted the sleepless nights to end.

Everyone would say things like:

“Enjoy the baby snuggles while you can. They’ll be gone before you know it.”

But I was secretly searching baby books for answers about when it would end.

I wanted to know what age they had to be when I wouldn’t have to wake them to feed them anymore. Then I wanted to know how much they needed to weigh before they could sleep through the night. Once I read that when a baby weighs about 12 lbs they can last all night without feeding. I became obsessed with how much they weighed after that.

When they were between 2 and 3 years old, I was researching what age to start potty training so that we could get out of diapers.

Once they were able to eat solid food, I was waiting for the day they’d be able to feed themselves. Then I was counting down the days until they’d be in school full time, so I could really get a break.

I think my youngest has probably felt this the most. Without realizing it, I compare what he can do to what his big brother can do. But I forget that his brother is almost 3 years older. I assume that because my oldest can go to the bathroom by himself, so should he.

I forget that he’s at a different stage developmentally and being potty trained is still a new-ish skill for him. As much as I want him to wipe himself and remember to wash his hands with soap without being reminded, he is only 5!

Can We Just Slow It Down?

Last week I had a moment where I realized I need to stop rushing my kids to grow up though. You know those moments as a mom where you feel like you just want time to stand still?

The ones where you picture your kids leaving for college and you realize that everyone was right….Your days where your kids are at home with you are numbered. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t get sentimental like this often, but every now and then I do. 

Sometimes I worry that my 5 -year-old missed out on a lot of the things that little kids are into like Mickey Mouse and Elmo. When he wanted to watch preschool shows, his brother would tell him they were for babies. Since he thinks his big brother hung the moon, he stopped asking to watch those shows.  He graduated right to super heros and Sponge Bob at age 3! 

Little brother and big brother
Dressing just like big brother

Goodbye Too Soon?

A few years ago, we realized that our kids were both really interested in Legos. The younger one was able to put together regular size Lego sets, so we decided to get rid of all of our duplo Legos. Ever since then, my youngest has asked why we had to get rid of them. 

This year, he asked for more for Christmas. When I was helping with the holiday party in his classroom, I noticed that he went right to the Duplo legos during the free play time. Plus any time I ask him what he does during centers at school, he says that he plays with the duplos.

So Santa got him a set of duplo Legos. They must be his favorite gift because he has played with them over and over again. Instead of spending a few hours putting together a Lego set and then losing interest when it’s done, he creates something new every day. 

Last week I noticed that the instruction booklet that came in the duplo Lego box had a piece missing. The missing piece was the part that said the age range was 1 ½ +.

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Lego instruction booklet

I know the plus sign after the 1 ½ is open-ended, but I wondered if my 5-year-old read it differently. Did he think his brother would think he’s a baby for playing with them?

It made me realize that he might need permission to just be 5. He might need me to give that to him. So I thought of a few things I can do. 

6 Tips For Giving Your Child Permission To Be A Kid:

  1. Build-in time for pretend play. Sometimes if I’m not careful, my kids will go days in a row where they don’t actually play with their toys. We’re always rushing from one activity to the next after school and on the weekends. Then when we’re at home, it’s easy to just turn on the tv or let my kids play endless amounts of video games. I “try” to set limits on screentime and when that time is up, I tell them to go in their play room and play. Sometimes they resist and complain that they’re bored, but I show them how they can use their imagination.
  2. Play more. My goal is to actually sit down and play with my kids, when I can, at least 30 minutes a week. During this time, I make sure to turn off all devices and play whatever they want me to.
  3. Organize their toys and make them easier to find. By helping my son find his Paw Patrol and PJ Mask characters and putting them in a special place, he’s more likely to go play with them when he’s bored. 
  4. Talk about how it’s ok to like toys or shows that older siblings might say are for babies. I’ve had to remind my 5-year-old often that he’s not a baby even if he likes different things than his brother.
  5. Watch Peter Pan and sing ‘I’ll never grow up’. This one’s a classic and always makes me wish I was still a kid. 

In the end, I also have to stop putting so much pressure on myself to be the perfect mom and feeling guilty about how I might’ve messed up. Deep down, I know that I’m doing the best I can and my kids know how much I love them.

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You’re Doing It Right Momma

Last week I had back to back school conferences with both of my kids’ teachers. I didn’t plan it this way. I didn’t actually realize what I’d done until I got a reminder email from one of them. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

You see, the day prior I had one of those days where I felt like a failure as a mom. We had been at a birthday party where there was a piñata. I like piñatas because my kids LOVE piñatas. They go all out crazy anytime there is one.

My oldest takes it one step further than most though. Granted he was literally the 2nd oldest kid at the party and the tallest by at least 4 inches, but he truly let his greedy side show up to this piñata party.

Once the piñata was busted, the chaos ensued and the feeding frenzy began. After what had to have been no more than 2 minutes, my child walked away with about a pound of candy and toy trinkets. There were probably half a dozen other kids crying that they didn’t get a single thing!

Even though the competitive side of me wanted to shake my son’s hand for winning this “piñata game” and getting in there to claim his prizes, the bigger part of me was appalled.

So I did what any right minded mom would do and started grabbing handfuls of his candy to give to the less fortunate smaller kids who didn’t get any. Of course after he realized his loot was cut in half, he wasn’t happy with me and walked away pouting.

When I asked him where his goodie bag was, he said that since I gave most of his candy away he gave the little that was left to his brother and threw the bag away. This only made me feel like I had raised an even bigger brat so we left the party fighting. I complained to my husband that night and he had a talk with him about sharing.

School Conference Day

The next day, I met with my other son’s teacher first. She had only good things to say- that he’s excelling in every subject, he’s a good listener, and is a joy to have in class. She asked what we were doing, because she wanted to do the same thing when she has kids of her own one day.

Then, I met with my oldest son’s teacher and she also had glowing remarks! I already knew he was doing well academically, but it was her comment about his character that really surprised me. To be completely honest I know he’s a good kid, but I didn’t expect her to say that he was one of only a few students she’s ever had who is truly a good person.

I needed to hear these things. It’s not that I don’t think I’m a good mom. I know I’m doing an ok job, but it feels really good to hear from someone else that I’m raising such kind and considerate children. I actually felt a little guilty about getting so mad the day before. But I’ve already told you that I struggle with mom guilt. You can read all about that in my previous post here: https://momlifewithp.com/mom-guilt-how-to-deal-when-it-strikes/.

Hearing Positive Feedback From Strangers

This past weekend we were eating breakfast at a tiny crowded coffee shop in Ashville. The boys were smearing muffins into the seat cushions, standing up in their chairs, and using really loud voices. The table next to us felt so awkwardly close that I had a hard time not eavesdropping on the ladies who were sitting there.

When we were getting ready to leave, one of them looked at me and said, “You’re doing a good job. Your kids are really well behaved.” What?!?! These two? Was she in the same restaurant I was just in? I couldn’t believe she said that, but I thanked her and walked away feeling again like maybe I AM doing something right.

As moms we don’t hear what we’re doing right enough. This job doesn’t come with a yearly performance evaluation where we get a raise if we’re meeting the company’s standards. So to all the teachers out there, tell your students’ parents when they’re getting it right. Tell them as often as you can, not just once a year at the parent/teacher conference.

Husbands, tell your wives they’re good moms. It may seem obvious to you, but she needs to hear it because she doesn’t always believe it. This goes for everyone, if you see a mom in public tell her she’s doing a good job. Even if her kids aren’t being perfect angels. If they’re eating their food and not throwing it at you, she needs to know she’s not screwing it all up.

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Mom Guilt- How To Deal With It When It Strikes

Last night I had major “mom guilt.” We’ve been really laid back about letting our kids stay up late this summer and now they are totally out of their routine.

I’ve been dealing with mom guilt since I became a mom.

After my son was born, I felt guilty when he wouldn’t nap and I had to let him cry it out for a few minutes just so I could take a break.

Of course I felt even more guilt when I switched to formula feeding at 5 months because it was too much. At every feeding I was pumping, then feeding him through a bottle, and then had to wash the pump parts. I should have earned a metal for all of the effort. Instead I allowed myself to feel bad about giving up.

I felt guilty when I let him sleep in the swing for the first 4 or 5 months of his life. Even though that was the only way to get him to sleep.

 

When my 2nd son was born, I felt guilty for not even trying breastfeeding.

Because of all the challenges I had with my first, we decided to go straight to formula. Even though this was what was right for our family, I felt guilty for not trying to breastfeed. I also felt guilty for not giving my oldest enough attention and having to split my time and energy between them.

Lately, I feel guilty when I allow my kids too much screen time and when I let them have too much sugar. No matter how hard I try as a mom, there’s always something making me feel like I’m not doing enough.

I’m sure there are many other reasons I’ve felt “mom guilt.” It would be impossible not to.

An article on Huffpost by Taylor Pittman, 5 Ways to Cope When Mom Guilt is Getting The Best of You, quoted tennis star Serena Williams’ post on Instagram about how she felt guilty for not spending enough time with her daughter. She’s a famous athlete, and no doubt she has had to sacrifice a lot of family time to get there. Yet she hasn’t missed a day of spending time with her. Her post had over 3000 responses last year of other moms saying that they’d also missed their kids’ important milestones and had experienced feelings of guilt.

 
 
 
 
 
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Last week was not easy for me. Not only was I accepting some tough personal stuff, but I just was in a funk. Mostly, I felt like I was not a good mom. I read several articles that said postpartum emotions can last up to 3 years if not dealt with. I like communication best. Talking things through with my mom, my sisters, my friends let me know that my feelings are totally normal. It’s totally normal to feel like I’m not doing enough for my baby. We have all been there. I work a lot, I train, and I’m trying to be the best athlete I can be. However, that means although I have been with her every day of her life, I’m not around as much as I would like to be. Most of you moms deal with the same thing. Whether stay-at-home or working, finding that balance with kids is a true art. You are the true heroes. I’m here to say: if you are having a rough day or week–it’s ok–I am, too!!! There’s always tomm!

A post shared by Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) on

Pittman also writes that the best way to deal with mom guilt and these feelings of inferiority is to stop comparing yourself to Hollywood’s take on the perfect mom. Carol Brady doesn’t exist and we have to stop trying to be someone who isn’t even real! 

Here are 3 questions to ask yourself when you feel guilty:

1). Am I providing my kids their basic needs? If you are giving them food, drink, shelter, and love then you are doing a good job as a mom and you don’t need to feel guilty.

2). What do I need right now? It’s so easy to focus on what your kids need and forget that you as a mom have needs too. Sometimes the feeling that you can’t measure up is a result of burn out. What you may need is to take a few minutes to fill your own cup.

3). If one of my friends was feeling guilty about this would I tell her not to? If the answer is yes, why are you holding yourself to higher standards? I’m not saying you shouldn’t strive to be better. But you have to cut yourself a break when things don’t always go as planned.

What do you struggle with feeling guilty about most as a mom? Have you found anything that helps you get past it?