Since I was tiny I’ve wanted babies. It was the game I played most at home. House, mom, whatever. As I got older, the NEED behind having kids wasn’t as strong. I did want kids, but I could have probably went either way and been happy. Maybe. Now, I wouldn’t want it any other way and I definitely have no idea what I’d be doing right now without my kids.
I read exactly 1 baby book before Indie was born. Bringing up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman. I also read a few little bits of What to Expect When You’re Expecting, but it just wasn’t for me. Honestly, I just never felt the need to read anything about babies. We figured we would just go with our gut and do what felt right. Now, 3 1/2 years and two babies later that’s pretty much how we’ve done it ever since. (I do have a bunch of parenting books on my list now though!)
My parenting style is that I don’t have a parenting style. I guess if you really wanted to you could try to pin me down to something, but really I just go with my intuition. Here’s a few things I tend to go by:
We don’t spank.
We know it’s something that wouldn’t work for us and I personally remember being spanked as a kid and hating it – I don’t need Indie to have that memory from me in her head.
I’m not even really sure what to say here other than I think every parent on either side is not coming from a place of malice. This is a super hot topic that I don’t feel the need to get into on here!
We buy organic and non organic.
Organic shit is expensive, I usually buy the foods that my kids eat organic. If I can’t, I don’t. I also buy local things that can’t afford to get labeled organic which is important to us as well.
I let them get bored.
I’m an artist. Therefore I believe boredom to be necessary, it births the best things. Ideas, projects, stories, games. There’s a TON of studies out there that prove this. When we’re bored we daydream and that’s good for your brain!
We live slowly and simply.
Not only for them but for me. I try to stay home a lot, especially during the week. While they love to go out and do things, it takes a lot of energy out of such tiny little people (and me!). Being at home helps them recharge and keeps them comfortable. It’s also easier on me and my mental health.
I don’t tell them not to cry.
I guess I just don’t see the point. Go ahead and cry, I will hold you while you do. It’s not shameful, embarrassing or weak.
I limit my expectations.
I don’t want to put my wants on them. I want them to be who they are, not who I want them to be. So while deep down I hope they do something ‘cool’ with their lives, if they don’t I’m fine with that too.
We talk to them like humans.
We don’t do baby talk. It’s just not our thing and is totally just personal preference. We’ve always talked to them like humans, not babies. We are age appropriate with them, but we answer their questions and generally don’t ‘lie’ to them or give them misinformation. Again, it’s just been our intuition to parent this way.
We let them help.
Indie is 3 1/2 and wants to help with everything. Yesterday she wanted to help me put my socks on. I let her. She also helps cook, clean, build Ikea furniture, feed the dogs, shovel the driveway, feed her baby sister and a ton more. We recently ripped a wall out in our house and she helped! Everything is done safely and under supervision of course, and it definitely takes a lot longer to finish basically everything – but she loves it and I think it’s really important.
We stress consent.
Of course once in a while we will tickle them before asking and stuff like that, but consent is extremely important in our house. We do not make them hug or kiss people (including us), if we’re doing something like tickling/playing/etc and they ask us to stop we do. I stress the importance of asking other kids if they can hug them first. We do this when Indie is playing with our pets, she isn’t allowed to do anything to them that they don’t want. This goes with us as well, if we don’t want her to do something to us we don’t let it slide and we reiterate what consent means all the time.
I ask them to do things they don’t want to do.
On the flip side of the consent topic, I also make Indie do things she doesn’t want to do because that’s a natural part of life. She has to clean up her toys even if she doesn’t want to (although I usually help her at this point), she has to let the dogs in and out of the backyard every day (opening and closing our sliding door), she has to eat at least a little bit of each meal (the times when she doesn’t want to), she has to share her toys with her sister and friends. Things like that.
We talk about money.
Money is such a strange topic. My parents never really talked about it with me much. I didn’t learn much about it at all really. Not sure if that was on purpose or not but my mom was raised by older parents so perhaps it’s from another generation. Indie is only 3 and Mabyn is just 10 months old so of course we haven’t gone in depth with them about it but we’ve started talking about how we (as her parents) work to make money. We talk about how when we buy things we have to use that money to trade for them. She doesn’t really get it yet, but one day she will and I want to have it be an open topic. I also found this a couple years ago (through one of my fave parenting resources: Mighty Girl) and have been just dying to buy it for Indie, but have been waiting for her to get to an appropriate age. I’m thinking I may get it for her for Christmas. There’s also this one if you’re interested in a different shape.
We talk about our feelings.
When Indie has a temper tantrum I try to talk to her about it instead of dismissing her feelings or telling her not to be angry. I do tell her not to scream, but we talk about why. Why do you feel this way? It’s okay to be angry but we don’t hit/scream at mama, etc. If I’m sad I don’t just hide it away all the time. Sometimes I’m sad and Indie asks me if I’m sad – I tell her yes and I tell her why. She definitly saw me cry a lot while I was pregnant with Mabyn, at the time I thought I was a bad parent because of it but now I realize it just showed her that it’s okay to have feelings and it’s okay to cry.
We play on the floor together.
Sometimes I even just sit there while they’re playing and they even love that. I think it’s important to get on their level. I also try to bend down to talk to them and I try to remember this when I meet friends kids as well. I read an article once and the parent said they decreased temper tantrums and grumpy behavior just by playing on the floor with their kids for half an hour a day – so easy and definitely worth making the time for.
We teach manners early.
Please, thank you, sorry, excuse me, etc. Manners are super important to me and we’ve been teaching them their whole lives. We also try to remember to use manners when we talk to the kids: Please pick up your toys, thank you for picking up your toys, etc.
We practice natural consequences.
I let Indie do a ton of stuff. Climb on the dining room table? Yep. Run in circles till she falls over? Yep. Run around the backyard without shoes on? Yep. I explain to her what could happen when she chooses to do something. If you choose to climb the dining room table, you might fall off and hurt yourself (I can’t even count how many times this has happened). If you run around the living room in circles till you’re dizzy you are very likely going to run into the tv cabinet and hurt yourself (also has happened a ton). If you run around outside without shoes on you might step on something and hurt your foot (hasn’t happened as much as you may think). The shoe thing she definitely gets from me, I run around all Summer without shoes on – especially in the backyard. I let her do things and I let her hurt herself because I’m hoping one day it will teach her to be more mindful of her decisions because with every action comes a reaction. If you hit your dad you will get in a bit of trouble, if you take that toy from your sister you will have to apologize and give it back, if you rip up that book you will not have it anymore.
I try not to sweat the small stuff.
This goes with the one above. I’ve noticed when my mom is visiting she’s always telling her not to do things and it definitely can put a strain on their relationship sometimes. Things like the ones I talked about above, not climbing on the table, not spinning in circles till she hurts herself, not making messes, etc. To me, when it’s little things it’s just not worth fighting about. I tell her she could hurt herself, she usually ends up doing just that, but at least I’m not constantly telling her no to the little things that in the end really don’t matter. It seems the result so far is a pretty independent 3 year old.
We try not to say the word ‘fat’ in front of them.
So this one is a bit tricky and about balance. I am a plus size woman, I’m fine with this, I refer to myself as fat in a totally neutral way. When I call myself fat I’m reclaiming the word that people have used against me for years, I’m not using it in a ‘bad’ way. I also recognize the fact that not everyone in the world feels the way I do about it. However, at 3 years old I don’t feel she has the ability to understand this concept yet. She has no idea what fat is, she has no idea what being a plus sized person is like, she has no idea the history behind it as a societal concept. We try not to say it in front of her because I don’t want her to have the ability to use a word that could have a powerful impact on people. One day when she’s old enough to understand everything behind it (more likely the day someone else teaches it to her), I’ll teach her how I try to use it neutrally. One of my fave quotes on this subject is ‘You aren’t fat, you have fat.’
There’s probably a lot more that I could say here, but for now I’ll leave you with this. I’m just a mama trying my best. If you have any specific questions or things you’d like me to weigh in on with parenting leave them in the comments for me!
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