It’s been just over 6 years since I started this blog. When I began writing, I had no idea it would have lasted this long. I thought I had a few things to say about my journey into parenthood…a couple of thoughts about our family and the relationship John and I want to build with our kids. It turns out I had a lot to say about connected parenting and finding our own way…and a lot of people who wanted to listen. I’m honored and awed and impressed at so much this blog has shown me over the last 6 years.
My children have grown from 1- and 2-year old toddlers into 7- and 9-year old children. They are still children, but now heading towards the tween years. How did that happen? Are we really done with those early years? Can it be that they’ve grown into the capable, cooperative kids I see before me who do their own laundry and make their own food and are developing a relationship with each other? I am in awe of the people they’ve become.
Back then…1 and 2…
And now…7 and 9…
I have grown from a new mom, unsure and just taking things one day at a a time to a mom who is significantly more calm and confident (albeit still staking things one day at a time). I’ve learned what it means to slow down, tune in, and let go of perfection. Make mistakes. Apologize. I learned what it means to try again and again. Looking back, I feel proud of the parent I’ve become. I love the person my children have brought out in me.
I am honored that you’re here to share this journey with me. Your support over the years has meant more to me than you know. Your comments, your kind words, your shared stories have lifted me up in time of discouragement. I’ve met wonderful new friends over the last 6 years! Thank you all for being here with me and for journeying alongside as we find our own way. Together.
The anniversary of this blog reminds me that parenting is, indeed, a journey. A process. It is ever evolving. Things may not change much from one day to the next, but somehow they change dramatically over the years. All those little moments together add up. And suddenly the early years are behind you and you’re still forging ahead.
What comes next?
Years of positive parenting has shown me that everything that brought our family to where we are now–things like responsiveness, connectedness, forgiveness and communication–is what will lead us through the next stage, too. Our energetic, strong-willed, curious little toddlers who have become such capable children will continue on to grow into confident, competent young adults.
It’s been an amazing experience to see the changes in my children and in myself over these years. I may have started this blog as my journey into parenthood, but it’s become more than that. It’s become my journey through. Thank you for being here with me!
I’m excited to be in the final stages of putting this resource together! Working with Jane has been an enjoyable experience as we commiserate on the ways electronic screens creep so easily into our families’ lives. (iPotty anyone?) We’ve had a great time putting together personal stories, practical examples, helpful language, and of course the best Positive Discipline tools when it comes to managing media. The release date is estimated for the beginning of March, and I will definitely share when it becomes available!
I love putting together these periodic posts of fantastic resources for you. As a parent, I am always on the lookout for great reading and writing, and I get so excited to share my discoveries with you. Let’s start with blogs:
Last time I did a resource review, a few people commented on how there were no “Dad” blogs on my recommended list. I assure you, this was not a personal slight against dad bloggers, I just did not know of any that met my criteria of being focused on positive parenting, updated regularly and well written. I am now happy to announce that I’ve since discovered a positive parenting blog–written by a dad–that I love and highly recommend to you. TRU Parenting is a blog written by Andy Smithson, a dad of four children, and LMSW. He writes regularly on lots of topics that all center on positive/ unconditional/ attached/ non-punitive parenting. I have become accustomed to giving a little cheer when I see a new post from him show up in my blog feed. Definitely check out some of his articles…you will like them as much as I do.
Another blog I enjoy seeing pop up in my blog roll is from psychotherapist and parent educator Andrea Nair. She seems to hit on the right topics at the right times, and always with a focus on the child and on family relationships. I love her practical approach to solving behavior problems as well as her broad background and understanding in connected parenting. I’ve seen articles from her on topics from attachment to tantrums to technology. Not only is she a therapist and educator, but she’s also a mom of two boys, so she gets very down-to-earth about what parenting young children is really like.
Positive Parenting Solutions
Have I mentioned this blog before? I have been following Amy McCready’s blog Positive Parenting Solutions for a few years, and I feel like if I haven’t already mentioned her in a previous “best of” post, I should have. I’ll do it now. Amy is a Positive Discipline educator and author of If I have to Tell You One More Time and offers some fantastic programs for parent education. Even if you don’t purchase one of the packages, her blog is a great one to add to your feed. Her posts are concise, very practical and always positive. She’s able to make non-punitive parenting seem very do-able.
And now, a new book you should read:
Hands Free Mama, by Rachel Macy Stafford
I had a chance to read Hands Free Mama over the holiday break and knew I had to add this one to my post of recommendations. It’s everything connected parenting is. “Hands Free” refers to the idea of putting down your devices so that your hands are free for engaging with your children. It’s about losing the distractions of a busy life full of “shoulds” (as in, I should organize this event for my child’s class, or I should respond to this email before I forget, or I should be the mom who juggles it all and looks perfect doing so.) and just being present with our children. In reading this book, I often found myself distracted–reminiscing of days and moments from my children’s own infancies, toddler years, and early childhood. When they were that little, I didn’t have a laptop, an iPad or even a cell phone! We did have a computer, but Facebook didn’t exist. I may have gotten a couple of emails a week. During those early years together, I was Hands Free by default. This book is about being HandsFree by choice. Rachel’s stories provide touching and heartwarming examples of those moments you have with your kids when the devices are put away, you’re not pulled in a thousand different directions aways from your kids, and you just focus on enjoying where you are and connecting with your children. It’s about slowing down. It’s about mindful parenting. It’s about fostering more of the moments that matter most. It’s a great read.
I’m adding a new category to my recommended resources posts: Podcasts. I’ve been absolutely loving my podcasts lately and have a few great ones that you will enjoy, too.
Passport to Parenting
Passport to Parenting is a podcast that is hosted by two Positive Discipline coaches who also happen to be a therapist (Ann) and an educator (Kim). Between these two moms, they have four tween- and teen-aged children. What amazes me is how accurately they remember the early years of parenting. I know that as my kids get older, my memories of the challenges of the “Pre-5″ years fades. I think back on my son’s threes and fours and think, “Oh, it wasn’t that hard back then.” I remember the fun stuff, the roundness of their cheeks, the cuteness of their baby teeth, and the wonder and excitement of exploring a new world. Then I’m hit with a flashback moment of enraged defiance, screams and flailing limbs from my then 3-year-old and pure anger and loss of control on my part. Then I’m like, “Oh. Yeah. That.” But Ann and Kim do this every week in their podcasts–they easily transport back to their children’s early years and recall just how challenging things can be, and they help you with those issues. In listening to these moms speak, I always feel reassured…reassured that time passes, that kids grow out of phases, that I’m not doing it all wrong, and that positive parenting tools do indeed grow strong, capable children. As an added plus, their voices are so melodic and super pleasant to listen to! That matters to me. Their friendly tone comes across instantly and every time their podcast is on, I am tempted to call them up to go out for coffee. I highly recommend you add this podcast to your subscription list for a helpful weekly mini-class on using Positive Discipline tools.
The Good Life Project
OK, this one is interesting, because it’s not exactly parenting. But it relates. I’ve recently started listening to The Good Life Project, and I always seem to come away feeling inspired. Sometimes I’m inspired as a parent, and others I’m inspired as a person–listening to how others live “a good life,” helps me reflect on how I can do the same. Jonathan Fields, a dad, former lawyer and former yoga entrepreneur is the host of this weekly interview series. He seems like a really, really great guy. Each week he interviews someone he considers “an entrepreneur, artist, creative professional, leader or world-shaker” who has made an amazing accomplishment towards “a life well-lived.” Such a category of interview subjects is quite broad…there is a wide variety of topics that I find interesting and relevant to parenting. But no matter who he has on the show, I always enjoy the insight into what it means to live a good life. In the past Jonathan has interviewed parenting professionals like Brene Brown on the truth about vulnerability and Leanne Ely of Saving Dinner on the importance of eating regular family meals together. The interviews are recorded as videos (you can watch them on the website), but I listen to them in my podcast lineup. Sometimes, though, I’m so curious about the person whose interview I’m listening to, I have to go to the website to check out the video just so I can see what they look like! I’m really looking forward to the interview lineup for 2014.
Someone shared a different kind of resource with me…one that I wasn’t expecting and one that I really love. This podcast is all for children. It’s called “Sparkle Stories,” and it’s a series of lovely and enjoyable original tales and fables for young children. My kids LOVE to listen to stories in the car–we have an audiobook collection like you wouldn’t believe. So when a reader told me about this free story podcast, we definitely had to give it a try. The stories are simple yet engaging, well-narrated and about topics that my kids understand and like, such as magic, fairies, holiday traditions, seasonal fables and animals. We look forward to the new downloads as well as enjoy listening to previous favorites. When we are in-between audiobooks, these stories provide a fun, welcome change of pace. They are short–most are around 20 minutes long–and great for preschool-kindergarten age (although my oldest is 9, and she loves them, too!). You can download the podcasts here, or go to their website for access to more stories or purchase a subscription (beyond the free weekly podcasts). There are samples you can listen to, and age recommendations for various tales. We are so happy to have found Sparkle Stories!
If you have any resources you’d like to recommend, please do let me know. I’d love to add your favorite books, blogs and other inspiring parenting material to my reading/ listening library. I love to discover new sources of parenting support. I love to live an inspired life. So please, let me know what parenting resources you find most inspiring…I may add them to a future “best of” post!