Welcome to the January Carnival of Natural Parenting: Learning from children
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared the many lessons their children have taught them. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
What you are about to read is the hardest post I’ve ever written in the 2 years I’ve been blogging.
My kids have taught me a brutal lesson in reality. It’s something I’ve known for a very long time, but instead of doing something about it I’ve been happily burying my head in something else. What? My blog. Why? Because when I started blogging two years ago I had finally found a hobby worth pursuing. My blog has been a place where I could come and write and say things that actually make a difference in other people’s lives. Where I get immediate feedback for my efforts no less. It has also been my place of solace – where I get away from it all – the place where I get to stretch my brain cells for a little while and socialize with women whom with I have enough in common to create our own crunchy mama commune! But in the two years I’ve been blogging I’ve been letting a lot of things in my personal life slide. Rules about TV time for one, spending more quality one-to-one time with my kids for two. When I have a self-imposed blog deadline or find myself busy with other “blog things” I am low of patience. Everyone suffers when I can’t cope with all the people I’m trying to please. My kids, my husband, my friends, my readers and myself. What I have learned from my kids is that I can’t do it all, and in order to be the kind of mom I want to be I need to reorganize my priorities.
Let’s be honest. Blogging takes up tons of time. As any blogger knows, blogging isn’t just about writing your own post, it’s about reading other people’s posts, socializing on Twitter, Facebook and other forms of social media, replying to comments, and if you do giveaways, advertising your giveaways on other sites everyday. I’m also not one of those people who can whip out a post in 15 minutes and call it a day. I’m not a speed reader either. In the past year or so I have tried to cut back on blogs I read and comment on, but not socializing gives me a guilty conscience. The people who read and comment on my blog feel like friends so when I just can’t acknowledge them or comment on one of their posts I feel like I’m letting them down. Every once in awhile I decide to do more to promote my blog too, so I go around finding new blogs to make an appearance at and the hours tick away.
I don’t make a lot of money from blogging. The money I do receive doesn’t even pay for blog upkeep. So I’m not blogging to make a living. If I was I wouldn’t even be writing this. Jobs take us away from our kids and that’s just the way it is. But my writing is a hobby. So every time I blog, unless I do it while the kids are in bed, it is taking time away from them. I think it is important for a parent to have a hobby, even more than one! But most hobbies don’t take 5-8 hours a day and don’t include sitting in front of a computer. My time at the computer makes it look like so much screen time is okay, and that’s just not something I am okay with. This is not the type of role model I wanted to be. There are numerous many reasons why I think screen time is bad for young children. For a comprehensive list go here.
I currently submit my children to approximately five hours of television a day (that includes when they spend time at other people’s houses). This is well beyond the national average and breaks my heart that I have strayed so far from my values. I used to pride myself that when my oldest was 2 1/2 she still didn’t know who Dora The Explorer was. Now they know all the names of the Disney princesses and have watched Snow White and Aladdin more times than I have ever watched anything. Sometimes I don’t even know what they are watching and find out later that they have been exposed to things that I would never let them watch at 3 and 6 years old. This just makes me want to cry.
Guess when I introduced screens as a babysitter? Yep, right around the time I started blogging. It became a convenient way to get posts written. My oldest would watch a video while I nursed my baby at the computer. I knew better, but I excused it away with the fact that three hundred pairs of breastfeeding eyes per day were counting on me to come through for them. A little bit of Backyardigans or Wonder Pets couldn’t hurt my kids too much.
But oh, they have.
My kids would rather stay home and watch Disney re-runs than go to the beach with me. Instead of the fun adventure it used to be, a walk in the forest is now boring and met with tantrums and tears. My kids regularly engage in bad behaviours (i.e., not listening to me, teasing and/or hurting each other) and I think it’s partly because they think they can get away with it because over time they’ve worn me down and now I don’t react as fast as I used to. I usually finish typing my sentence before I come and deal with them. Walking to town is fun for my youngest who literally runs the entire way but my oldest cries the whole way whining that we’re supposed to drive to town because that’s what cars are for. Somewhere along the way, I’ve stopped being able to teach my kids about my values. Or rather, I haven’t stopped talking about them, but I have certainly stopped showing them. There is never enough time in the day because I allow my spare time to be taken up by the computer. Instead of riding bikes or walking to yoga lessons or the library, we drive because I leave things to the last minute. When I did daycare I used to get up early with the kids and have no TV all day. Now that I start work early in the mornings they get up and watch cartoons for two hours before their dad gets up.
Some of you know that I’ve been grappling with what I should do about my blog. I have really loved writing here, but I put so much pressure on myself to try to be a “good blogger,” and I just don’t feel good about doing things in a half-ass fashion. So I’ve decided to use this carnival as my jumping off platform to say farewell. Instead of just cutting back on posts (because that doesn’t work for me) I’ve decided to make a clean break. If I’m really itching to write something I’ll post as a guest somewhere. I plan to follow up this announcement post with one or two more posts to close up shop, but after that I will be done.
Why did I just push myself under the bus? Why did I just share all of my failings as a mother? Because I think it’s important for everyone who reads blogs to know that none of us are perfect, plus if I didn’t write down my shortcomings for the world to see it wouldn’t be out there in black and white reminding me why I have decided to do this in the first place. I chose this blog carnival as my platform because a) it makes me liable for my decision (when I send this to the moderators a week early), b) it gives me a week to digest my new reality, and c) the carnival topic was too perfect to pass up.
It’s a New Year, and I want to spend more time with my kids and get back to living my values. I want to learn to knit and take long walks in the forest. I want to try hot yoga (because I need to lose the 30 pounds that I have gained while blogging – not to say they go hand in hand, but blogging certainly doesn’t give me time to do anything about it) and play board games with my family in the evenings. In the Spring I want to build and plant a garden and in the Fall learn to can vegetables. Right now, blogging doesn’t give me enough time to do these things. And one thing that’s been reinforced by reading and writing so many blog posts is that childhoods fly by and life is short.
I am comforted by the fact that all the breastfeeding posts I’ve written will remain on line. I get 50% of my traffic from Google, which means that approximately 6000 people per month will still be able to benefit from them. I will also stay on Facebook and Twitter because it doesn’t take much much of my time and I am looking forward to sharing old posts with new followers. But for the rest of it, you and they are just going to have to go through the categories or learn to love my search bar. Having helped numerous women and having made some amazing connections along the way I am ready to embrace what I have accomplished here and move forward.
Deep breath. So here I go.
I wrote this a little over a week ago and finished up my last post (coming in a few days) a couple days later. I just felt like sharing that after two years of writing an average 3-4 posts per week, this “not blogging” thing is hard. At first I seriously didn’t know what to do with myself in my spare time. I would turn on the computer and just stare at the screen, hopping from Facebook to Twitter to my emails and my Reader, wondering what the heck my life would look like without this daily routine.
But the past few days have been wonderful. I took my kids for a walk in the woods by the beach and they went from whining that walks are boring to skipping along the trails yelling back at me what fun they were having. We went to the museum and spent almost three hours there. Not once did I get that anxious feeling that in the past has told me “I have to get back to check my emails and finish editing that blog post!” I haven’t yet turned off the TV completely. After the number of hours they’ve had everyday I am cutting back slowly. But I’ve been able to sit down, monitor, and watch TV with them, cuddled in a blanket on the couch. I have more patience and the kids seem happier too. I will miss telling all of you about my life and my thoughts on breastfeeding, natural parenting, bed sharing, vegetarianism and my homeschooling experiences, but I look forward to this new chapter. Life is good.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon January 11 with all the carnival links.)
- Affection — Alicia at I Found My Feet has finally become a hugger and kisser, now she has someone sweet and small to snuggle with. (@aliciafagan)
- Learning from Daniel — Amy at Anktangle hopes that she and her husband will always be open to learning from their son. (@anktangle)
- Kids Cultivate Awareness of Universal Truths — From forgiveness to joy, Amy Phoenix at Innate Wholeness has become aware of deep truths that come naturally to children. (@InnateWholeness)
- What the Apple Teaches the Tree — Becky at Future Legacy has learned about imagination, forgiveness, and strength.
- A Lesson in Slowing Time — Bethy at Bounce Me To the Moon revels in the chance to just be with her baby.
- Learning From My Children: I Am So Honored — WAHM Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey is learning to choose tea parties over work. (@MyMotheringPath)
- P-A-T-I-E-N-C-E — Now that she’s a mother, Danielle at born.in.japan is finally learning about a personality trait she lacked. (@borninjp)
- Top 5 Homeschool Lessons My Children Taught Me — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares what she learned from homeschooling her (now grown) children. (@DebChitwood)
- Learning to Live in the Present By Looking to the Future — Dionna at Code Name: Mama finds the patience to be a gentle parent, because she knows how fleeting childhood really is. (@CodeNameMama)
- The watchful Buddha boy — At Dreaming Aloud, they are learning to cherish their thoughtful, sensitive child in a action-driven, noisy world. (@DreamingAloudNt)
- What My Children Taught Me — Dulce de Leche‘s children have taught her to value herself for the wonderful person and mother she is.
- Lessons from the First Year — Having a child made Emily at Crunchy(ish) Mama realize that her decisions affect more than just herself. (@CrunchyishMama)
- Lessons from Loss — Erica at ChildOrganics learned so much from the love — and loss — of her sweet Bella, five years ago. (@ChildOrganics)
- The Socratic Baby — Erin at Multiple Musings has so-called “identical” twins to serve as a daily lesson in nature vs. nurture. (@ErinLittle)
- Learning to be a Mother — Farmer’s Daughter learned the type of patience that enabled her to calmly eat one-handed for months and change clothes seven times a day, before noon. (@FarmDaughter)
- A Few Things Being a Mom Has Taught Me — Heather at Musing Mommy shares the curious, hilarious, and sometimes Murphy’s Law-like tidbits we learn from our children. (@xakana)
- I Feel You — Motherhood has taught Jamey from At the Bee Hive empathy, and it extends beyond just her child. (@JameyBly)
- Lessons From My Child… — Jenny at I’m a full-time mummy shares the inspiring ways she’s learned to expect the unexpected — and have a camera ready! (@imaftmummy)
- My child is my mirror — Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama has seen herself in her children – and it’s not bad. (@crunchychewy)
- There is enough to go around… — Kellie at Our Mindful Life learned that love doesn’t diminish when it’s shared.
- Learning From Our Children, Every Day — Kimberly at Homeschooling in Nova Scotia, Canada is continually inspired by her children. (@UsborneBooksCB)
- Life Lessons From My Children — Kristen at Adventures in Mommyhood has learned that every slug is fascinating, doing the dishes is fun, and sharing a banana is a delight. (@crunchymamato2)
- Things I’ve Learned From My Children — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings uses pictures to share what she has learned from her children. (@sunfrog)
- Beyond the questions lies the answer — Lauren at Hobo Mama stopped wondering and started knowing — loving and liking our children comes naturally. (@Hobo_Mama)
- Learning from Children — Lily, aka Witch Mom, finds out just how enchanting balloons can be. (@LilyShahar)
- Lifelong Learning — Lindsay at Living in Harmony has learned that what works for one kid might not work for another. (@AttachedMama)
- Walking alongside my daughter — Lindsey at Mama Cum Laude is learning to give the clock less power over her family’s life.
- Things my baby taught me about me — Luschka at Diary of a First Child is proud of how she has grown as a mother. (@lvano)
- From my children, I have learned — Mama Mo at Attached at the Nip has a litany of beautiful lessons, from selflessness to sleeplessness.
- The Little Things in Life — In a simple and lovely prose poem, Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children shows how adults worry about the wrong things and forget the little, important ones: watching ladybugs, jumping in leaves, cherishing each moment as it comes.
- The Virtues of Motherhood — Melissa at The New Mommy Files has had opportunities to learn from children as both a teacher and a mother. (@NewMommyFiles)
- My Kids Have Taught Me That It’s Time To Stop Blogging — Melodie at Breastfeeding Moms Unite! has learned that childhoods fly by too fast to blog. We’ll miss your wonderful online presence, Melodie, and we wish you much peace and happiness. (@bfmom)
- Having Kids Has Taught me a Thing or Two — Michelle at The Parent Vortex learns all day long — from fun facts about hedgehogs to tying a complicated wrap with a screaming child and an audience. (@TheParentVortex)
- We Could All Learn from the Children — Momma Jorje takes time to get on the floor and play so that she can see the world through her child’s eyes.
- Teaching Forgiveness — Mrs Green at Little Green Blog has a daughter who’s taught her unconditional love — even when she feels like she does’t deserve it. (@littlegreenblog)
- Parenting as a joint venture — Olivia at Write About Birth appreciates watching the astonishing way her children learn. (@writeaboutbirth)
- Beginner’s Mind — Rachael at The Variegated Life learns from a child who builds bridges to nowhere, calls letter magnets his numbers, and insists dinnertime is truck time. (@RachaelNevins)
- A baby’s present — RS at A Haircut and a Shave presents a short poem on the differences between a baby’s mindfulness and ours.
- Self-Confidence Was Born With My Daughter — Sara at Halfway Crunchy learned to trust her instincts by responding to her child’s needs — and saw her self-confidence bloom.
- The Importance of Being Less Earnest — Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante has one list of earnest and one list of silly things she has learned as a parent. (@seonaid_lee)
- Lessons my children have taught me — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes learned that attachment parenting was the best way to meet the needs of her child and herself. (@Sheryljesin)
- Till the water is clear — Stacy at Mama-Om learns that being present is the best present. (@mama_om)
- I Hold It — Stefanie at Very, Very Fine has learned that the ability to communicate is much more important than the number of words a child knows.
- What My Children Taught Me About Letting Go — Summer at Finding Summer is learning from her kids to laugh in the face of heartache. (@summerminor)
- Finding My Tools — The Artsymama has applied some of what she’s learned as a mama in the classroom, with great results!