Friday, November 7, 2014

let's get real.

For those of you who don't know me in real life or otherwise don't know, Joel and I recently became foster parents.  There are hard parts, but overall we love it!  I have been thinking about some things lately, though, and ask as many of you as want to to chime in.  The invitation's extended to people who have young children, people who have had young children in the past, and people who were young children at one point and remember what their parents did.  And anyone else with something to offer. :)

I keep having questions come to mind that I want to ask other parents.  I need someone other than blogger moms to compare myself to.  Slash... I know I shouldn't be comparing myself at all, and it's really not that.  I really feel pretty good about my mothering and how I do it.  I guess I just read these articles and see pictures and want to know how REAL people really are.  

How much TV do you watch?  We watch about an hour a day - one episode of "Mister Rogers's Neighborhood" (a kids' TV show I love and don't get annoyed by like the shows our current kids like) and sometimes part of Dolphin Tale, which they love.  We would maybe watch more if they had a longer attention span... haha. :)  

What kinds of snacks do you eat?  Sorry, but we're mostly crackers.  I know we should be fruits and vegetables or string cheese or yogurt... but we're mostly crackers.  One ate a saltine cracker sandwich today for his snack.  I don't care if you judge; I feel fine about it.  I mean, we're not going to do that every day, but I feel fine about it doing it today.  

It was just Halloween.  What do you do about candy?  Ours probably eat like... five pieces a day.  Not always, but often I let them have one after a snack or meal.  It depends on how well they ate their real food.  I don't feel bad about it - candy stashes don't last forever and it's only been a week.  

I know this is a hard question to answer, but how much do you actively play with your children?  I've heard some people say it should be all the time; I've heard others say if you do half an hour dedicated playtime in a day, that's great.  I, personally, am a huge proponent of individual (and with other children) playtime.  I play with them a lot, but I also do a lot of sitting back and watching - or not watching.  I consider it a victory if they'll play in the backyard without me being outside.  I try to make sure they know I'm paying attention to them, and if I'm on the computer, I typically only do productive stuff (not checking Facebook, blogging, or reading blogs), but I think it's important to not always play with them.  They tend to use their imaginations better when I'm not actively participating and they learn about conflict resolution, and I like that.  When I play with them, we're dancing, reading, playing at the playground, or drawing on white paper usually.  We're not doing elaborate crafts, practicing writing in sand, or taking tours of cool factories.  

What about fruits and vegetables?  I give them one at lunch and one at dinner.  So... two-ish servings a day.  (How big is a serving of fruit / vegetable for a person who only eats half a cup of food?)  Sometimes we have apple or watermelon for a snack.  I should be better about that, but the excuse I'm giving myself is that they weren't raised with me, so I'm allowed to transition them into fruits and vegetables.  (The real reason is probably that I don't always think of it or feel like fighting when I think crackers are decently healthy.)  Also, we eat cereal for breakfast every day and a sandwich almost every day for lunch, usually with meat and/or cheese OR peanut butter.  

People talk about how parenting is so tiring and moms never take time for themselves.  It is tiring, I often have to get up a few times during the night with a crying child, and I'm worn out at the end of the day, but I also take a nap - or at least a close-eyed rest - every day.  Quiet time is about an hour every day after lunch.  Hopefully you didn't break anything while I was having mine and you were ignoring yours.  Oh, and when it's time for me to take a shower, want to watch the Disney channel?
EDIT: I don't say bring that up to say that people who say parenting is tiring are wrong or to say I do things better than anyone.  Parenting is DEFINITELY tiring and what works for me doesn't work for everyone.  It's just, when I wrote that paragraph, I had just barely read an article about a mother who was always putting herself on the back burner and wanted to say that doesn't need to be the case.  You're important, too!  (I didn't have any negative comments on this part, but it's just been sticking in my mind and rubbing me wrong, so I wanted to explain.:)

Oh, and we basically have no toys.  We have a lot of Legos, a lot of books, some plastic food, and a slide in our basement.  That's about it.  I love not having the clutter or needing to find places to put toys, and they really haven't seemed to need more than that.  Also, we hardly ever have to clean up.

So.  What is your parenting life like?


“I was a fool!” Percy roared.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows


Brooke Evans said...

I think a lot of people's answers to some of these questions might change depending on ages.

Allison said...

My daughter is 16 months and I'm ok letting her watch one kids movie a week. But she's not really interested in TV so usually she only watches TV when she's sick.

She eats a wide variety of snacks including crackers, fruit, string cheese, applesauce and yogurt. She prefers fruit and dairy products so that's what we give her. Every child is different and I think there's nothing wrong with giving them crackers for snacks if that's what they like. I don't think there should be a list of appropriate snacks that children need to have every day- just figure out what nourishing food they like and go from there.

Thankfully, A is still too young for candy and isn't interested in it anyway. She just liked the novelty of taking a handful of candy out of the bowl and putting it in her bucket. Then it usually ended up being dropped on the ground.

I am also a big proponent of individual unstructured play. I think it helps kids learn things like time management (deciding what they want to do with their time) and not having to have someone there constantly entertaining them. And A loves it too so she spends a lot of time playing by herself. But I usually try to strive for an hour a day of Mommy and A time. We usually try to do one fun crafty or learning activity together and then throughout the day we'll have periods of unstructured play together. Sometimes it's more if we go to the park or out back since she's still too young to be outside by herself. Sometimes it's less if we have a really busy day with lots of errands to run.

A is a fruit girl so she eats two or three servings of fruit a day. She doesn't like vegetables so I offer her a vegetable with dinner which she usually doesn't eat. So we just make up for it with fruit since there hasn't been a fruit she hasn't liked so far.

Motherhood is definitely tiring but I still think it's important to take time for yourself. For me, nap time is my time. I think it's important for moms to have things to do for themselves that isn't laundry or cleaning or serving their family, whether that be a hobby or taking a nap or reading a book. During nap time, I work on my projects or if I'm tired, I'll take a nap. It helps keep me sane when things get tough.

Congratulations on becoming foster parents! Remember, every child is different so every mother is going to be different. Don't get caught up with what everyone else is doing. Just be you and do what works for you and your kids. You're doing great!

Annegirl said...

"We're not doing elaborate crafts, practicing writing in sand, or taking tours of cool factories"----you kill me. :)

While I'm not the million dollar parent I know I should be (and that I WANT to be), I try to keep a few things in mind. Do my kids know I love them and do I express that regularly? Are they learning to be kind and polite? Are they safe? Am I giving them foods that will keep their bodies healthy? Are they getting enough opportunities for constructive activities so that they will be able to gain the skills they need in a variety of areas? (This is usually translated as, "Did we do at least one constructive thing, today?") Am I staying sane (A multi-faceted question, including things like: Do I put in too much effort? Too little effort? Do I still feel like a person?)

These are the things that go through my head on a regular (if not daily) basis. I base my routines on these things. A great deal of mothering, to me, is constantly making adjustments. Like ALL THE TIME.

And, a lot of mothering is based on an individual mother's preferences. I don't do snacks over here, and not a lot of candy. I do let them watch shows---which I'd like to cut back on---but I am particular about what kinds of shows we watch (for instance, we really try to avoid unkind words, any violence, inappropriate themes, etc.) "Please" and "sorry" are enforced. Reading and creative play are encouraged. We take naps---and yes, I do, too; it's part of the keeping sane bit for me. =) Everyone is their own style of mother, and we all just do the best we can.

Excited for you and your new adventure. :)

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