How I’ve Changed as A Parent

Remember before you became a parent and you had a whole list of things you would never do?

You would never give your kid a binkie
You would never let your kid out of the house wearing that
You would never yell at your kid in public

But then you had a kid and he had a strong sucking need or she was so opinionated that letting her out of the house in pajamas and mismatched earrings was easier than a fight or you’re having a bad day and he’s laying on the floor kicking and crying at Target.  Remember how you did so many things you said you would never do and how you felt just a little guilty for all the parents you judged before you were one?

Yep.  We’ve all been there.

But there’s another side to it too.  Remember how, on the things you said you would never do and actually never did, you felt strangely vindicated in your judgement?  Since you have a kid, and your kid never does (insert thing you judge about here), you feel justified in silently condemning that other parent.

Yep.  Been there too.

When it was just us and Wiggles we did some things that worked really well for us, things we wanted to continue as our family grew.  But then we got three kids at once and went into survival mode.  Here are just a few things we’re doing completely different these days:

TV/Screen Time– Wiggles got very little screen time.  I think technology has its place but believe too many parents use it to shut their kids up.  I am now one of those parents!  I really stressed about this the first few weeks home until a dear friend told me to stop worrying about it.  She said “You will eventually be so busy with school and activities that you will barely have time for TV”- and she’s right.  I still think they watch too much, but the truth is sometimes there’s 4 of them and only 1 of us.  When multiple children are having issues at once, the TV or iPad allow us to distract one or two or three other children long enough to focus on whatever issue is important at the moment- whether that’s a hungry baby, a bored toddler, or just a much-needed bathroom break.
Meal Time– When it was just Wiggles we had a dinner time policy:  Eat what we serve or don’t eat at all.  Sounds good right?  Does not work for our situation right now.  Given our kids’ background I don’t feel comfortable telling them they can’t eat.  So instead our meal times look like this:

Parent:  Spaghetti for dinner!
Kid 1:  No spaghetti!  Yogurt.
Kid 2:  No spaghetti!  Oatmeal.
Kid 3:  MMMM Spaghetti!  Bread please.
Kid 2:  Cheese please.
Kid 1:  No yogurt!  Cereal please.
Kid 3:  More spaghetti!
Kid 1: (picking raisins out of cereal)
Kid 2:  Yogurt please.
Kid 3:  (gets up and starts running around)

It’s a free for all.  So much so that the husband has pretty much stopped eating dinner and just serves as our waiter.  I’m not really okay with this and feel like we are establishing bad habits, but I’m not sure what else to do.  The fact that the big kids don’t speak English very well makes it significantly more difficult.  I brought this up in one of the adoption groups I’m in and someone recommended a book called Love Me Feed Me, which is specifically for food issues with adopted kids. I haven’t read it yet but hope it helps us in this area.

Cloth Diapers– I used cloth diapers for nearly two years with Wiggles.  I used disposables here and there but was pretty serious about cloth, even taking them on vacations.  My initial love grew into a love/hate relationship.  There’s a lot of benefits to cloth but the truth is that sometimes they just don’t work.  I’m in several cloth diapering facebook groups and the ladies in it get a thrill out of diagnosing problems.  They’re all “My pocket diapers are repelling liquid what should I do?” And then 50,000 people comment about the fit of the diaper, the washing routine, possible detergent build up etc etc.  I don’t mind the extra laundry or the few extra seconds of time cloth diapers take, but with 4 kids I don’t have time to troubleshoot problems.  My diapers just need to work!  So I’m getting rid of the ones that have persistent leak issues and keeping the ones that work well.  Now Wiggles is potty training and doesn’t wear a diaper all that often, but is in mostly disposables when he does.  The Baby is often in cloth, but if they’re all dirty or we’re going out for a long outing I don’t stress about putting her in a disposable too.  Sorry Earth.

Appearances– Let’s be honest, I’m no fashionista and never will be.  But when it was just Wiggles I would at least make sure his socks matched and his hair was brushed before we left the house.  Now just getting out the door is an achievement and making sure your kids look presentable is really something.  You guys, the other day I picked Diva up from Parent’s Day Out and I noticed her shirt was on backwards AND inside out.  Parenting Fail.

Co Sleeping/Bed Sharing– Wiggles was in his crib, in his own room, from night one.  Co Sleeping is a controversial topic and not one I want to start an argument about, but it was never something I’ve been interested in.  Mostly because I like my own space and time at night and also because my mom, who worked as a pediatric nurse for years, has attended funerals for babies smothered by cosleeping and she scared me with her stories.  When the big kids first got home I was trying to put The Baby to sleep in her pack and play (in our huge closet) and it was not working.  I was getting up multiple times with her and was tired and cranky the next day.  Just what the big kids needed- a tired and cranky mom as they went through the biggest scariest transition in life, right?  Something had to change.  I started cosleeping to get the rest I needed for the next day.  It worked at the time and was what needed to be done.  Now The Baby usually sleeps in the pack and play until she wakes up to nurse around 4am.  I barely wake up to get her and feed her, and we cuddle in my bed for a couple hours until it’s time to start the day.

Free Time- In theory I believe a child should have lots of down time.  Some of our best moments with Wiggles just happened naturally around the house.  I don’t like the idea of over scheduled kids and think it ruins them of developing their imaginations.  In reality I HATE FREE TIME.  Maybe this will change now that I’m back to work or as our kids continue their adjustment, but for now bring on the bouncy houses and baseball games.

There’s more but I think this is already enough material for today.  What have you done that you said you wold never do?

Happy weekend, friends.



1 Comment

Filed under Parenting Styles

One response to “How I’ve Changed as A Parent

  1. Aunt Annette

    I can understand your frusratation. Try to remember there is aways a rainbow after a storm. Enjoy these days as they will soon be gone and something different will take their place.

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