Ideal Parent….What Does that Mean?

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If you are anything like me you have dreamed of being a mother for a very long time.  You thought about what it would be like to raise your children and what you will and will not tolerate.  You some how in your mind created this ideal of the perfect parent.  What you aspire to be.

For me that was my mother.  I wanted to be the type of mother that she was.  She created the best childhood.  She was the mother that created craft projects and got down on the floor and played with us.  She created the best forts and always put our needs above hers.  No matter how hard it was she pushed forward knowing that in her eyes she was doing the best for her children.

I mean she hosted, put together, help decorate and facilitated Fourth of July parades for all the kids on the block for many years.  Usually this was only for the parents of said kids, but we all had a blast, putting red, white and blue cray paper, and sparkles.  Even before my sister could ride a bike, she decorated a metal red wagon for her to sit in.

One year during the Olympics she put together our own Olympics for all the neighborhood kids.  Complete with some sort of medal and ceremony for the best of the best.

These are just a few examples of things that she did for us.  Totally the Pinterest Mom before Pinterest was even around.  She would have home cooked meals most nights a week.

I had some big shoes to fill when I became a mom.  I found though very quickly that I was not my mom and I was actually completely the opposite of her.  It has taken me many years to learn that even though I am not the ideal mom I thought I wanted to be I am still a great mom.

So this is where I say that it is great to have a role model of the type of parent that you want to be, but it is also okay to find what works for you and your family.

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Mothers and Social Media

In this generation, social media is in most parent’s everyday lives.  Whether it is through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest more and more parents, especially mothers are bombarded with the way that they should parent, creating picture perfect ideas of parenting.  These ideas are both unnatural and unrealistic for the average mom to achieve on a daily basis.

 

With one click of a button a mother can open up an app that have hundreds and thousands of different ideas and ways to be the coolest, craftiest, best cook, cleanest, calmest, and any other best way to be a mother.  With all this information at their fingertips there tends to a pressure to keep up with all that is seen. According to TODAY mom survey pressure that mothers put on themselves to be perfect is the top cause of stress. (Dube, 2013)

 

The pressure is already there to achieve above and beyond the call of duty and be the best mother, but social media has taken it to another level.  We are always shown the best of motherhood, which makes us want to mimic what we see.  No one will show you the hair pulling out, mess on the floor, with the children half dress because that would show the world that you are a bad mother.

 

We enjoy seeing all the pictures and reading all the blogs or Facebook posts about how wonderful life is, painting this picture that life is perfect, even when it isn’t.  We as mothers get this false sense that those pictures, blogs and posts should be how life is all the time and when it is not, failure is what comes to mind.  This failure can lead mothers to having depression and anxiety.  Both of which can be even worse on new mothers going through the changes and needs with a new baby.  The feeling of never being able to live up to what is being portrayed on these social media avenues.  There have even been some companies that joke on the matter of what is being portrayed.

 

There is a commercial by Valspar Paint, where the mother is away and the father has the children, they are talking via the computer.  All the mother could see was a clean green background, at the end of the commercial you can see the whole picture where the kitchen is a complete mess. (Valspar, 2014)  Social media has that same affect, where we only what the person wants us to see and why would we want to show the world the bad?

 

These feelings of inadequateness can lead to depression and anxiety disorders. We all have this idea of mother we want to be and it is exacerbated by what we see other mothers do and share through social media.   Not only do we see what others mothers are doing right, we also have access for other mothers to judge us on what we do and what we say.

 

Not only are these websites a place to gather information from, but they are also a place to participate, ask questions, and give answers. Sometimes vulnerable mothers get on these websites looking for validation that what they are doing or going through is right.  They want to feel supported and instead of turning to people around them they go to complete strangers to validate what they are doing.  These other mothers are not always being truthful and always portray their best foot forward.  This inaccurate picture that is being portrayed may cause an increase in anxiety and depression because they are not living up to what the other mothers are doing.

 

According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs we want to achieve self- actualization where we understand and accept our potential and strive for it. It is a mothers desire to be the best and understanding what our own individual potential is the key to being the best that we can be.

 

My mother was the typical stay at home, she was the ideal mother.  She was always there, did crafts, set up parades, help us set up lemonade stands, she would cook us home cook meals.  She was a very hands on type of mother.  Growing up I always wanted to be type of mother my mom was to me.  Fast forward a few years and now I have children, but as much as I wanted to be like my mother growing up that is not who I am.  This is something that has caused me great anxiety and sadness as I am not the type of mother I thought I would be.  Not to say that I am a bad mother, I am just a different mother.  Having the added influence of the social media did not help with the idea of the perfect mother.  It made me feel even worse because I thought to myself, if they can do it, so can I.  Which I know is not accurate because my life is completely different than theirs, but still made me feel inadequate.

With our lives on display, we sometimes are able to capture a perfect moment.  A moment that is perfect, but doesn’t give an accurate representation of how life is. A mother looking in on this perfect moment may not see that it is just a moment.  She may think that this is how life is all the time, which can cause her to put more pressure to be that perfect mom. This pressure can cause anxiety and depression when they don’t live up to the expectation.

 

 

References

Dube, R. (2013, May 9). Today Parents. Retrieved September 21, 2014, from Today: http://www.today.com/parents/pinterest-stress-afflicts-nearly-half-moms-survey-says-1C9850275

Sunstrum, K. (2014, March 14). World of Psych. Retrieved from Psych Central: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/03/14/how-social-media-affects-our-self-perception/

Unknown. (2013, May 11). Huff Post Parents. Retrieved from Huff Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/11/pinterest-stress-moms-social-media_n_3253475.html?utm_hp_ref=tw

Valspar. (2014, April 29). YouTube. Retrieved from http://youtu.be/kHw0-QaGYVs

Tips to Get your Child to Love to Read

I am a firm believer of starting your children off early when it comes to reading.  I am the type of parent where I want them to destroy books, because that means that they are going through the pages and looking at the pictures, creating their own stories.  We have over 700 books in our library, another 700 on our kindles, and even more in our library to sell.  We love books in our house and we encourage our children to pick one up.  We have them on all levels of the house, in the car, in their backpacks, in the diaper bag.  We take them with us on our kindle/Ipad/Phone.  We are never without access to some type of books.  I have created a list of tips to help get your child to love to read.

  • Start them early: Allow them to feel it, start with the board books, or even the soft books.
  • Do not correct them: Do not correct them when reading.  If they are reading the book upside down, just allow it.  Remember that they have a grander imagination then we do as adult.
  • Read with them: Sit down and read with them.  Start off small with very short books.
  • Follow their lead:  If they only allow you to read the first couple of words of the page, then be it.  Don’t stop them and correct them.  You want to engage them at their level, not y0urs.
  • Choose books they are interested in:  This one was the hardest for me.  I wanted to read all of my childhood favorites and not their favorite.  Once I gave in and read what they wanted to, they sat longer and enjoyed it more.
  • Choose characters that they know: Their are books for almost every character that your child could love.  Mine happen to love ScoobyDoo.  So I make sure to have as many ScoobyDoo books I can find, that way I encourage more reading from him.
  • Ask them to read to you:  I always find it interesting what they “read” to me.  They really can understand a story from the pictures.
  • Repeat: Read the same book over and over and over again.  They love that!  It also builds their love to read that story.
  • Be animated: The more animated you are in reading the more they will get into the story.
  • Add Props: If you have the opportunity to add props, whether bought or made.  It makes it more interactive.
  • Take them to the Library: Library is great for activities and readings, while there you can pick up a few books.
  • Have fun!

 

Ashley’s currently-reading book montage

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?We're Going on a Bear HuntWe're Off to Find the Witch's HousePolar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?From Head to Toe



Ashley’s favorite books »


Share book reviews and ratings with Ashley, and even join a book club on Goodreads.

Ashley’s read book montage

 

Curious George Goes to an Ice Cream ShopHarold and the Purple CrayonThe Berenstain Bears Go Out for the TeamThe Magic School Bus Taking Flight: A Book About FlightWhere's Spot?The Magic School Bus on the Ocean FloorThe Magic School Bus Hops Home: A Book About Animal HabitatsCurious George Visits the ZooThe Magic School Bus Shows And Tells: A Book About ArchaeologyCurious George Gets a MedalCurious GeorgeCurious George Rides a BikeCurious George Goes to the HospitalCurious George Learns the AlphabetThe Snowy Day
Harry the Dirty DogThe Berenstains' B Book (Bright & Early BooksThe Foot BookThe Ear Book (Bright & Early BooksMarvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!


Ashley’s favorite books »

Share book reviews and ratings with Ashley, and even join a book club on Goodreads.

 

 

Do you have any suggestions or tips for helping your child love to read?  Please comment!

I never thought…..

I swore before I had children that I would not be one of those parents that would give their children electronics, Ipad, or playing on my phone.  Then I had children and my ideas changed.  It started with the phone.  We used it as a last resort to help occupy my son when we needed to do something for a couple of minutes.  We noticed that he actually really enjoyed the educational puzzle and games that we had put on the phone for him and that he was learning!  Then we moved to a touch screen computer, which offered even more educational apps and programs that my son could do. Then we were able to upgrade to an Ipad Mini (which we got at a great deal on sale).

Even now I cringe at the thought of my son playing these games on the phone, Ipad, or computer, but I have to remind myself that my husband and I consciously made the decision to allow these electronics in certain situations.  Before we introduced any electronics we decided in what situations we would use it and to what extent.  We also agreed that we would review and “play” and new educational game before either child plays it.  We wanted to make sure that they are appropriate and educational.  We didn’t want to have this be another avenue to get addicted to.  So we purposely choose apps and games that are all educational and grow their mind.

Now that we have these extra tools, I have noticed that not only my son, but also my daughter loves to “play” these games that are all educational.  They have learned so much and I can see how excited they get when they get to “play” these games.

Below are some of the rules we have to help monitor the use of the electronics.

  1. We monitor every and all apps that he plays
  2. They have their own folder so they are unable to get into any other games
  3. Lock, so they are unable to purchase any other apps
  4. They do not get it if they are misbehaving or whining
  5. It is a treat and used sparingly
  6. Preschool, which is on the Ipad or computer, is an actual program that the kids are apart of, or another educational app for writing, reading, counting, colors, shapes and more.
  7. They can not have it for more than an hour a day.  Broken up over spurts throughout the day.

Tips for Using Cloth Diapers on Vacation

As you know I love cloth diapering my children.  My son potty trained at 2.5 years-old and my daughter will be about the same age when she is potty trained.  At this point we have been through a couple of vacations while fully using cloth diapers.  I really thought that it was going to be difficult and way too much work, but really it wasn’t that bad.

My family takes a yearly vacation to the beach with both my side and my husband’s side of the family.  Last year I used disposable diapers for the 4 day vacation with my family and noticed that my son took 3 HUGE steps back in the potty training.  Before the vacation he would tell us when he went and would want to be changed immediately.  He was really getting good at noticing when he went.  After using disposable diapers for the duration of the vacation, he no longer mind sitting in the pee, and he wouldn’t tell us he went.  It took a couple of weeks to get him back to where he was.  After that I knew that the second vacation I was going to cloth diaper him and my daughter the entire time.

I knew that the week vacation we take with my husband’s family has a washer and dryer, so it was no big deal to be able to take the cloth diapers and continue using them throughout the week.

Below are tips of cloth diapering while on vacation:

  • Bring twice as many as you think you might need
  • Bring 2 wetbags/diaper pail liners
  • Bring cloth diaper safe cream
  • Bring laundry soap you use for the cloth diapers
  • Bring disposable inserts or liners to cut down on the laundry
  • Think about using prefolds, as they are easier to wash and dry
  • When you get to your location, scope out where you are going to keep your diaper pail or wetbag
  • Think about bringing a hand washing machine, if you know that their will not be a washing machine

It is something that can be done and something that people do all the time.  Please comment with other tips you have for using cloth diapers while on vacation.

Ashley

Tips for Potty Training

So we now have 1 potty trained child and 1 that is very close to starting.  There are some tips that I have learned over the last year to help ease the process.

  • Start early: It is okay if you didn’t, but start now.  Start by putting them on child on the potty, whenever you change their diaper.  Don’t force it if they don’t want to, you don’t want to have a negative affect.
  • Ask often: Ask them if they have to go often.  Some recommend every 15-30 minutes.
  • Change them often: I know that this is a no brainer, but change their diaper after every time they have told you they have gone.
  • Take them every time they ask: Every time they ask to go, take them.  Encourage them, even if you know that they went 10 minutes ago.  You want to encourage the “feeling” they may have until they figure out the actual feeling.
  • Be patient:  They are learning, they will make mistakes and will have accidents
  • Wait until they are ready: If you try and push them too early, you will have more accidents and have more issues.  Wait until they show signs and understanding of going on the potty.
  • Once you put them in underwear do NOT go back to diapers:  Some days and weeks it may seem like there are many accidents or that they don’t know that they need to go or even regress.  DO NOT put them back in diapers.

There are some things that I have done that I feel have helped.  We cloth diaper with an all natural insert that lets my daughter know when she has gone.  She feels it and there is no pulling away that happens with disposable diapers.  We take my daughter when we take my son to go potty.  Every time she tells us she went pee we sit her on the potty.  We also stop using diapers all together.  Within a couple weeks after my son requested underwear, we took the diapers away during nap and bedtime.  It was rough the first week or so, we had to change the sheets almost every night, but he now wakes up and goes.  We also don’t make a big deal if he doesn’t make it to the potty.  We understand that he is still learning.

Mommy Wars…..

I know I have discussed the Mommy Wars here and here, but I feel once again to touch on this point.

A little history, as you may know I had severe Postpartum Depression after the birth of my daughter in April 2012.  It is now 2 years later and I can honestly look back and see that it was a lot worse than what I even thought!  During that time I know that other moms didn’t mean to say something that I took so deeply, but in some cases I couldn’t help it and in other cases it could have been said better.

Recently a friend on Facebook posted  “Me: “I used a great practice of midwives for my son’s birth.” Other mom: “oh, I couldn’t do that. I really cared about my baby.”” as her status.  I was appalled.  I know that 2 years ago and even 1 year ago a comment like that would have sent me into a spiral of self-doubt and would have been hard to get out of.

Now that comment was outright rude and judgmental, what about the comments that aren’t so outright.  The ones that are like Do YOU discipline your child? as the child is running around in a fit.  Or how about the comments like Do YOU EVER give your kids a bath because they always seem to have something all over their face.  Those questions were not meant to be hurtful, but to someone who is battling with themselves, they can be even more hurtful.

Please understand that what you say to people can have a good effect and a bad effect on that person.  You never really know what people are going through.  They only show you what they want you to see.

My suggestion is to be supportive, really try to read the situation.  Understand that not everyone does it the same way and what works for you may not work for them.  Encourage them to do their own research and not just go based off of what you said.

Climb out of the Darkness

So June 21, 2014 is Climb out of the Darkness which is where people all across the world are walking, hiking and more in promoting perinatal and postpartum depression and anxiety.  I will be participating in this absolutely wonderful event.

Please support me through this wonderful event either by walking or hiking or through here.

Parenting Encouragement Program

While looking for programs I came across Parenting Encouragement Program, PEP.

Parenting Encouragement Program offers parenting classes in the Maryland, DC area from ages 2.5-school age.  One eight week class they hold is Parenting Preschoolers, which is one day a week for two hours.  This class will teach about the stages of emotional development for children ages 2.5-5 years old, what to expect, what is normal.  It will also help parents learn different ways to set boundaries, benefits of routine and how to enforce them.  Plus provide the parents with tools to help with problematic behaviors.  The underlying method of parenting is to learn positive ways to discipline your children.  One course of 8 weeks costs $217 per person, plus the $18 for the required book.  For more information go to http://www.parentencouragement.org.