2013_08_29-081502aThe older Ben gets, the more attention he wants, more answers to his questions, more time to get from A to B. So that, you know, he can "see what's in there" and the like. This is fine with me, great really. Because he is growing into this curious, active person insatiable for knowledge. But ya, it's completely consuming and frustrating as well. Isn't that just life, though.

The older I get, the more I try to add onto my plate and figure out how to balance it all. Things I have been discussing with friends lately:

This Pinterest generation (I love Pinterest) but the effect of social media on our parenting is undeniable. Everyone thinks everyone is as happy as their beautiful photos depict them, at all times. Forget that I have my own happy smiling photos up on my pages, and well you all know it's not just sunshine over here. Pinterest has a gazillion beautiful photos of tips and tricks and parenting crafts and advice, on and on forever. With all this inspiration, people tell me they are having a hard time not utilizing it at all times. Can they throw a party without an Etsy theme? They don't know that they can. Not when it's right there and everyone else is doing it.

I think this is having a strange fifties/sixties effect on us. Suddenly everyone thinks that everyone else is doing crafts all morning with their perfect children, and we are the only ones trying to get them to watch another cartoon while we finish cleaning up breakfast.

The good part is that I think most of us use hand me downs for our kids wardrobe. Most of us thrift and go to garage sales and Craigslist for our toys and couches. The recession made DIY, recycling and repurposing a trend, and I think that's good for our culture. The other good part is that I think our generation takes quality time very seriously. We often say, "loved ones don't want things, they want our time." Namely kids. Dads are spending more time with their children and families. Moms are doing crafts with their kids. We have all heard the Four Things For Christmas list that floats around Pinterest: 1) Something they want 2) Something they need 3) Something to wear 4) Something to read. I didn't even need to look that up, that's how well I know it. Mom blogging, parent blogging, that is a thing now. That was not a thing when I was a kid. There was no internet, no social media. Our parents weren't reporting to their friends what park they took their kids to today and how many activities they got through before lunch.

While I would never want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak (Scott, that is a real phrase, I swear it) I still try to stay aware of what these cultural shifts tell me as a mom. Yes, I am so happy that we are savoring our children's childhood moments. I am so happy that everyone is ditching cable and our kids never really see commercials anymore. Even though they watch loads of PBS and Netflix cartoons and for the record I am totally cool with that. Daniel Tiger explains potty training and why you should share with your friends way better than I can. But look, Ben asks me to play with him all day long. And it's cute, and I want to, but I can't. Because we wouldn't wear underwear, eat off real dishes or sleep on sheets and I would go completely insane.

But every time our kids throw tantrums, or like mine, play with their poop, we all know they want attention. And this new generation of savor your children and blog about their milestones and lay in bed thinking about Pinterest crafts has us thinking- so... is the answer more attention? And I am here to throw my opinion in and say, no I don't think it is. I play with Ben for about one to three hours a day, if that, and I think that is more than enough. I spend another six to eight taking care of the kids physically- changing, preparing food, serving food, cleaning up food, changing peed in sheets, changing diapers, putting on shoes, taking off shoes, undressing, dressing, brushing teeth, brushing hair, picking up dangerously placed toys, time outs, discussing time outs, pouring milk... I could go on and on. I am a mom, that is what I am for. I laugh at his jokes, I sing him songs in the van, but dude, when I need to cycle the laundry or sit down and hear myself think, that's okay. I am not here to be another three year old, I am his mom. If I answered every developmental behavior issue with giving him more of my time, I think the adult that would produce would not be the independent, confident person I am hoping to cultivate in him.

We are the children of the supposed "special" generation that had "helicopter" parents. I think a lot about how we were raised was great. I am glad that the recession made wearing brand names around on cheap t-shirts uncool finally. I am glad our parents were more involved with us. I am glad that we spoke more about our feelings and broke down stigmas and rigid working environments. But hey, it's okay that we had to play by ourselves a lot, even when we really wanted our parents to play with us. It's okay that my mom didn't pull out a craft to challenge my developmental skills every morning and it's okay that I wasn't in two sports by the time I was four. It's not bad if that's your pace of life, because there are different ways to live.

I'm just here to say, if you're not doing that, don't sweat it. I am not a child development specialist by any means, but there are a lot of ways to be a great parent.

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