Friday, June 24, 2016

Who is judging you?

Think about a typical day out with your family. Think of all the places that you may go and all the strangers that may overhear the way your family interacts.

Do you feel judged?

It's hard not to. In fact, almost all parents report feeling judged by somebody (other parents, strangers, their spouses), with women saying they feel the pressure more often then men.

I've been in stores where my son has started crying because he wants something. And I let him cry it out while speaking soft words to him like, "it's hard when you don't get what you want, I know, but we're not getting you that today." Did other people look over at me since my child was screaming in the shopping cart? Yes. But I figured that if they were parents they knew what I was going through. And if they weren't parents, I figured they had no right to judge me.

My son would eventually stop crying and he learned the lesson that this particular tactic didn't work on Mommy. 

We all feel the pressure to be good parents, and it is hard to think that others aren't questioning our actions. The important thing to remember is to stay focused on your family, not what other people think.

How do you shake off the judgement of others? Tell me in the comments.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The business venture we don't want to fail

About seven years ago, my husband and I decided to go into a business venture together. The stakes were pretty high: We knew that it was a long-term investment and that we would be working crazy hours. We knew that we would not receive any financial gain from it and that once we entered it, there was no backing out. We were signing up for sleepless nights, an increase in marital strain and depression, and potential health risks.

And yet, knowing all that, we decided we wanted to be parents anyway.

There have been multiple studies showing that non-parents are happier overall than parents. (There should also be studies showing that non-parents are saner than parents, too, but maybe that is too obvious to get research money to do.) When you sign up for parenthood, you are signing up for a world of the unknown. Because, even if you think you know what parenthood will be like, there will be lots of moments that you can never ever prepare for. Like all the conversations around poop. Or the time you had to tell your child not to try and raise the toilet seat with their head. Or whatever.

Parent unhappiness isn't true of every country, however. There are lots of countries outside the U.S. that sport much higher levels of parental happiness. Crunching through the data isn't easy to pinpoint why, but one researcher believes that it has to do with a lack of subsidized care for the under-five set and not enough vacation time for Mom and Dad.

I would agree with that, but there are probably other factors as well, like the pressure we put on ourselves for parental perfection. That definitely needs to lighten up as well. And maybe we need to have more honest conversations with soon-to-be-parents about what you can expect after you bring the baby home.

Because being a parent is too important of a job in life. It's one that we all need some help in so that we don't fail. 

What did you wish you knew about parenthood before you had your child? Tell me in the comments.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Cooking at home

This past weekend, I helped my son make pancakes.

I phrased it that way on purpose, as this was the first time I let him take the lead in making pancakes while I supervised. Up to this point, I would only let him do the prep work and stir ingredients together. But this time I let him work with the batter on the stove and he even sliced the strawberries by himself.

He did a fantastic job.

We've had several conversations before about the importance of learning to cook. I've been working to foster my son's love of cooking by having him help me in the kitchen, by including him in the family meal planning and by letting him watch other children cook on those Food Network programs.

And now I realize I need to take it up a notch, as the latest research shows that more money was spent at restaurants last year than at grocery stores. While that doesn't necessarily mean that people have stopped cooking (restaurants can be pricier than grocery stores), it is part of an overall trend. Families are busy and they don't always have time for a home cooked meal in between school runs and soccer lessons or after a long day in the office.

But I think it is worthwhile to cook. Even if it means you eat a late dinner. Not only because of the control over ingredients used and nutrition overall, but because cooking is one of those skills that I believe everyone should have. So, I'll keep teaching my son to cook. And we'll keep having fun in the kitchen together.

Who taught you how to cook? Tell me in the comments.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Why we need good Dads

Whenever people see my family for the first time, they tend to stare at my son, then my husband, then me. They are trying to see who my son resembles more. Most people ultimately give up and declare that my son is a perfect blend of my husband and I. (We think so, too.) I like knowing that my son is part me and part my husband, because we both - like all parents - have a big role to play.

For the first years of our son's life, my husband had to deal with playing second fiddle to Mommy. Our little guy has been very Mommy-centric up until this point. Now, he wants to do more and more things with Daddy. And that is great for so many reasons.

As this link reminds me, Dads play a really important role in their child's life - even if it doesn't always feel that way. Whether it is by talking to a child (early and often), rough-and-tumble adventure play or just by being a good role model, Dads are needed. But there are other items on the list on that link that I don't always think of keeping an eye out for, like getting Dads screened for depression (a big one since it has an impact on your child's health as well) and checking to make sure Dad's vaccinations are up-to-date.

Dads are awesome and important. Every day (not just on Father's Day).

Tell me what is wonderful about the Dad(s) in your life in the comments.