Six Years Parenting! And the Three Parenting Rules I Live By.
Following up my "Nine Years Married!" post with a "Six Years Parenting!" one.
Cam turned six on November 16!
At my Articles Club gathering on Tuesday, there were talks of blackout curtains and other baby sleep hacks that reminded me of how easy I have had it over the years. Feeling very blessed to have had an easy-going child that sleeps 12+ hours a night since he was six months old!
While I won't give us much parenting credit for our son's sleep habits, a friend told me last week that she makes macaroni and cheese for her kids every night (no judgement). I was feeling pretty proud that we have never made a separate dinner once Cam was old enough to eat with us. Brian and I can get credit for that (although our dinners often involve a ridiculous amount of negotiating...so there's room for improvement!).
Moving on. Here are my three main parenting philosophies....
More is Caught than Taught
Parenting -- like marriage -- often doesn't go the way we envisioned it. Life deals us cards we never wanted to be dealt. So much of what happens in our lives is beyond our control, and having children only increases this lack of control. But like in my marriage post, it helps me to remember that I can only control myself. "You make your decisions and then your decisions make you."
I can do my best to make wise choices. I can choose behaviors that reflect my priorities. I can start my mornings reading the Bible. I can make healthy decisions with food and exercise. I can play games or have conversations rather than look at my phone. I can treat people with kindness in all circumstances. I can talk about my love for animals and plants. I can go to church. I can take walks outside. More is caught than taught.
Keep them Tired and Hungry
This advice came from my old boss. He had four kids that all turned out highly successful and he told me the key was to keep them "tired and hungry." Such good advice...and very similar to raising dogs LOL! Whenever Cam is pouting and moody, I feel the need to give him a job. He is in a noticeably worse mood when he sits in front of a screen for hours. I wish we lived a little closer to my sister's family's farm so that Cam could work on the farm on weekends. But even so, we can start giving him more chores around the house or things to do outside. Kids are almost always excited to help, and while it may make the task more challenging with a kid involved, I try to encourage Cam to be a helper.
Make it like Grandma's House
I want our house to be warm, welcoming, cozy, and safe (emotionally and physically). I try to create that atmosphere as best I can.
One of my dream houses (I have many) would be a small brick ranch house in the country. I have fond memories of my grandma gardening, doing laundry in the basement, hanging clothes on the line, cooking in their tiny sunflower-themed kitchen, or my Papa taking us in rides in the back of his truck. They didn't watch TV. I don't remember them ever being mad. They were always up doing things.
I know from being a kid once myself that children don't care about having a big house or expensive things. Cam went to an in-home preschool in an apartment complex last year and all the kids who lived there were always outside living the kid-dream: riding bikes and playing with neighbors.
As a teenager, one of my favorite places to visit was my friend Erin's grandparents house. Her grandparents always made me feel so loved. If I would wake up early on Sundays, I remember her grandma making me coffee before church and hanging out in the kitchen to talk to me, always so interested and invested in my life.
My parent's house -- now "Grandma's house" -- is the same. It's so homey and I can always expect to relax, read a magazine, and my mom will make me an iced coffee drink when I come over. Cam loves spending the night there and I know he will have similar fond memories from his childhood.
That said, it's important for me to try to create a cozy home that feels like my grandma's house. It's part of my parenting plan. Appreciating the simple things and making everyone feel wanted and loved. :)