At times, I tend to overwhelm myself with whether or not I am putting enough effort into parenting. Am I doing enough? Does Alo have enough to keep him occupied? Am I killing his brain cells by letting him watch 22 minutes of "Sarah & Duck" every day? Am I providing him with enough activities to do? Am I reading enough parenting books? Am I already behind in researching homeschooling? I scroll through Montessori-themed blogs and Instagram feeds I follow, thinking that I am lacking.
But then I step back, breathe, and remember all of the milestones that my son has reached:
- He is sitting at his own miniature table (no highchair for a while, now!)
- He can clean up a spill (I tell him to "clean, clean, clean!")
- He can push in his chair
- He can retrieve his shoes
- He can "put things back" from where he found them
- He can put "cuckies" in the trash by himself
- He can drink out of a cup
- He can sweep the floor
- His vocabulary is insanely large for his age ( I think—though I could be biased ;] )
- We visit the library at least 2x a week
- We read to him way more than 20 minutes a day (which is the recommended minimum amount you should read to your child on a daily basis.)
- Alo is incredibly well-traveled—he has been to a lot of places, and seen a lot of things!
- He is an excellent sharer
- He adores books more than any other physical thing we/he owns
I also remember the stumbling blocks:
- I H A T E winter (in Western NY, mind you). This makes everything generally more difficult.
- I am moving across the country in 3 months from a place I have truly struggled living in (eee!). That mental weight is ever-present.
- I have limited funds! I am definitely jealous of all of the Grimm wooden toys and Holtzeiger animals sets I see around the blogosphere ... but I am funding a medical education, and am not in the stage of life where I can give Alo the finest things. Though, I will say, for what funds I do have, I really am resourceful. I SCOUR ebay, Facebook Marketplace, local children's consignment shops, Amazon ware-house deals, garage sales, etc. on a regular basis for quality, wooden toys. My ever-so-manly husband even constructed our own learning tower (retail price for one of those is anywhere from $175 – 200)!!! I'm lucky to have come across really quality second-hand materials for CHEAP! It's all about how much effort you are willing to put in to find quality materials for your child, and how resourceful you can be. For example, I'll be completely honest: I cannot afford to buy eco-friendly fingerpaints for my son as much as I want to. However, if he spills some of his morning smoothie all over his table, imma let him "fingerpaint" that fruit puree all over his body and surroundings until he is well and done!
- Parenting is H A R D work, and it's plum exhausting to be 100% engaged 100% of the time. Major kudos to single parents like my sister out there.
- I am absolutely passionate about parenting. I think I fight it sometimes, wondering if I should be setting my sights on more professional pursuits. But I really do get a thrill at re-arranging my sons play space, rotating out his toys, picking out books I think he will get a real kick out of at the library—and then seeing how he reacts to all of these things. It lights me up inside knowing that whatever energy and effort I contribute, directly effects his life. You can see how that is also very daunting and bring forth a lot of shame and stress if I'm having a day where I am altogether too hard on myself.
- My interests are completely different than those parents who are also doing their very very best to raise their children mindfully. I've seen a lot of lovely posts of mothers baking with their toddlers. But you know what? Baking stresses me out to no end and makes it a dreadful experience for everyone. I'll leave that one to Dad (he's a pro-baker, you know!). However, I am passionate about the outdoors, reading, and feeding my family a mostly-homemade and weird-ingredient-free diet. These are things I put a lot of time into and should be more proud of them!
Fellow parents of young children: we will forever walk atop the fence dividing the sides of: "Are we doing enough?" and "How can I be a better parent?" It's a necessary evil at times, but it doesn't have to lead to self-degradation and shame. Join me in this challenge———Today I am making several appointments in my phone calendar for the next 2 months. Every Sunday evening, I will ask myself: "How did I do this week as a parent?". On the last day of every month, I will plan to look for age-appropriate activities for my son to enjoy and appreciate, keeping in mind what he needs from me as a parent— whether it be specific emotional support or filling in some gaps on supplies we need. Let me know if this helps you over the next few months, and I'll update you as well. The only way we can improve is to mark our progress and remind ourselves that we are doing the best we can! Make a list of amazing things your child can do, and This ramble was mostly a personal reminder for me, but I certainly hope that it helped you in some shape or form.
Below are notes for myself to reflect upon over the next month on things I could be doing better!
Notes for myself:
Things I could improve at:
- Involving Alo in more food and meal prep: slicing fruit with his crinkle-knife, kneading dough, setting table, pouring water, cleaning up afterwards, bring dishes to sink after a meal, etc.
- Allowing him more time to learn to dress himself and pick out his clothing
- Toy rotating more often, so he becomes better at entertaining himself/ less overwhelmed.
- More Art! Water coloring, painting, stamping, coloring, colored pencils, markers, play dough, etc.
- Getting outside a little bit more. It's truly been a frigid few months, but I still know there is room for improvement here.
- Giving him more mindful activities at a table—puzzles, matching, sensory activities, etc. on a loose schedule rather than whenever the bug bites me or on days like today where I am feeling slightly inadequate.
- Better introduction to the potty—sitting and reading once in the morning, and once at night for 5 minutes.
- A more firm, but flexible routine...though this next month is going to be absolutely all over the place due to traveling. Then when we come back, it will be full speed ahead with packing up, finding a place to live, patching up any small damages to the house, and getting Jared ready for residency. I am a little stressed out at the prospect of these next crazy few months, and hope it won't have too strong of an effect on Alo. I need to continue to spend time with him in the mornings—reading books, singing songs, and snuggling. ALWAYS snuggling.