parenting, kids, family,

3 Things You Don’t Have to do as a Parent

parenting, kids, family,

This was the topic of a scope I did this week on Periscope.  It resonated with a lot of people so I wanted to make sure and provide a written way to digest the information in case Periscope isn’t your thing.

If you want to catch the replay you can find it here, otherwise, read on.
There are a lot of people out there that will tell you what you have to do or should be doing as a parent.

Today I’m here to tell you what you do NOT have to do as a parent.

1. You don’t have to Clean the Playroom

Our dog Yoshi loves to eat crayons.  They are his version of the bacon wrapped around a filet.  So having them lying all around the playroom is just asking for trouble.

But you know what else is asking for trouble?  Me not taking time for myself.  And you not taking time for yourself.

When the baby is napping and the other two children are at the museum with their grandparents, my first thought is “oh my gosh, I can clean!”

But instead, I pet Yoshi, drank tea that was actually not, and Periscoped.

As a parent it takes a lot of courage to rest.

It takes a lot of courage to say “look, everyone is gone and I could clean up the house, but I’m not going to.  I’m not going to care what others think.  I’m not going to care what my in-laws think when they come upstairs after brining the boys home.  I’m just going to take some time for me.”

So you don’t have to clean the playroom (or insert whatever here – whatever it is that you feel like you HAVE to do.)

2. You don’t have to Do What Your Parents Did

This one can be difficult if you live close to your family.  We live 20 minutes from both sets of parents.

It’s hard for us to do things differently than our parents did.

There are some things that we do very differently that we just don’t even really talk to our parents about.

We don’t talk to them about schooling the boys. Chris and I were both public schooled but we have done Montessori with the boys and might homeschool next year.

When we first had Mr. B and Mr. C we tried being vegan, vegetarian, went super organic, very low-sugar, none of which did our parents ever try.

We didn’t take the boys to a movie theatre for a long time and our parents thought that we were crazy.

We put dried fruit in the Easter eggs for 3 years because we aren’t big on candy.

This is all to say we have experienced and endured a lot of judgement from our parents.

It’s hard because when you’re doing things differently than your parents it’s natural for them to think it’s a judgement towards them and how they raised you.  If you’re doing things differently they might think “hey, it was good enough for you why isn’t it good enough for your kids?”

It’s hard to give yourself permission to do things differently than your parents did.  But you can do it.

3. You don’t have to Subscribe to “Shoulds”

There are so many expectations and “shoulds” that we feel like are fixed.  Things that we feel like we have to do.

Unless you really stop and look at those things, and question whether they are really right for you, you’ll just end up should-ing all over yourself.

It’s easy when you look at other blogs and talk to other parents to come away with the feeling that you “should” be doing a whole host of things.  Have a well put together house, more than hot dogs available for dinner, spend more one on one time with your kids.

You don’t have to subscribe to these shoulds.  Look at them and figure out what is best for your family.

Co-sleeping is bad is just as true as co-sleeping is good.  It depends on the kid.

It’s just as true that you should be content in suburbia as you shouldn’t be content in suburbia.

It’s ok to feel like the status quo isn’t what you want.

Evaluate the shoulds as they come in and then discuss what you really do want to subscribe to and what you don’t.

Release some of the pressure and expectations – find your own way in this parenting journey.

So now it’s your turn.  Are there any things you would add that you don’t have to do as parent?  Let us know in the comments below.

Thankfulness And Halloween Follow-Up

35997968_s_optThanksgiving is fast approaching. As soon as November hits and the air turns cool, my thoughts turn to family, hot apple cider and how lucky I am.

Yes, nothing gets me feeling grateful like the Thanksgiving month and the holidays to follow.

We practice intentional gratefulness every day in our family. We thank each other for the little things throughout the week, and every night at dinner we each take turns telling each other something we are grateful for that day.

But it’s easy to forget and let the practice slip. Life gets in the way, and distractions distract us.

It’s nice to have a time of the year dedicated to something as vital as bringing our multitude of blessings and good fortune into focus.

Our kids also love the practice of mindful gratefulness. If we forget to do it they are the first to remind us. But building this habit for them was a slow process that took place over years.

I always want to stress that Sarahand I aren’t parenting experts; far from it. We are learning and making mistakes and adjustments every week, it seems.

Still, if you want to begin a habit of mindful gratefulness for yourself of your kids, I can share a few of the tips that worked for our little family. As always, your mileage may vary!

The biggest key for us was choosing a time of day when all the family is together and carving out 5-10 minutes of that time to devote to allowing each member of the family to express their gratitude about anything in any way they choose.

Right before dinnertime was the best time for us, but for your family it could be right before bedtime, as you all rise in the morning for breakfast, or maybe just before beginning daily chores or fun quality time together.

When we started, our boys Mr. B and Mr. C would usually copy something whatever Sarah or I said we were grateful for that day, for example, I often express my gratitude that Sarah has stayed home taking such good care of our family and preparing a healthy meal for us to enjoy. So Mr. B and Mr. C would express their gratitude for the same.

Then they began copying what we said with their own sweet little variations. For a while, Mr. B thanked Momma for the yummy dinner but would make a point of excluding any parts of the meal that didn’t seem quite so appetizing to him (“Except for the green beans.”)

Over time they branched out into their own gratitude’s for totally unprompted things, and today I never know what is going to come out of their mouths. But I always know it will be interesting and authentic.

I don’t know how eagerly our kids would have taken to this practice if we had presented it in a structured way with ‘rules.’ I think it might have felt like another chore to them, so we never chided them that any particular thing was better to express their gratitude for than anything else.

You may find just the opposite to be true with your family; maybe rules and procedures and a set order that you go in each time really appeals to your little ones.

Halloween Follow-Up

Halloween is already a couple of weeks behind us, but I need to update our audience on the results of my little experiment. Click here for the outline of my plan.

I ended up spending almost the same amount of money on glow bracelets and glow necklaces as Sarah spent on candy.

I thought the glow stuff would be more expensive than the candy, but this shows either how expensive candy has become, how cheap glow stuff is or just how out-of-touch I have become regarding the price of these things.

I ended up using 3 buckets. One bucket I filled with the glow necklaces, one bucket I filled with the glow bracelets and one bucket I filled with pure, unadulterated type 2 diabetes fuel.

Neighbors in our new neighborhood have been telling us for months how crazy Halloween can get in around here. Honestly, nothing they told us prepared us for the onslaught that arrived.

There was literally a non-stop parade of trick-or-treaters marching down our street from 6pm to 9pm. So we ended up with a very robust sample size for our test!

Our procedure was as follows: When a trick-or-treater arrived, we gave them a choice to choose one treat from one of the three buckets.’

This procedure wasn’t adhered to with 100% fidelity, but it was adhered to enough to get a good sense of which bucket received the most interest.

The glow necklaces were the runaway favorite in the beginning. Those were totally depleted within the first hour or so.

Then the bracelets were the next bucket to empty.

We ended the evening at 9pm with a half-full bucket of candy!

So the conclusion of my test looks like this: if we had offered no alternative to candy whatsoever, we would have given nothing but candy away. By offering glow stuff as alternatives and making the trick-or-treaters make a choice, the majority of them picked glow stuff over candy when the choice was offered.

Next year, I look forward to ramping this test up even more. I’m considering offering glow stuff, candy and third item, maybe something I can get free or very cheaply during the Halloween of season.

Maybe snap pops? I doubt parents would like me very much for giving those away, but hey at least I’m doing my part to offer a healthy alternative.

Also, for those of you who wrote in and suggested that our house might be egged or toilet-papered if we tried to give out a candy alternative, so far we have dodged the bullet!


A Little Something For You, For Your Family, and For Our World

This week we are bringing a ton of value, in three different forms.
parents who, Facebook, community

Form one (you):

Our subscribers have known for a week now but we’re now announcing it publicly – we have an all-new, private Parents Who Facebook group.  The mission of the group is to help you connect with the vision that is right for your family.

We’ve only been live for a little over a week and we already have almost 100 members!

If you want to see the inside scope of what we’re doing, and get exclusive value that we don’t share in the newsletter or on our blog, come join us in our new community.

Just click here, click “request to join” and we’ll let you in.

simplicity parenting, children, kim john payneForm Two (your family):

Our friends over at Simplicity Parenting are beginning to kick off their new course, which Kim is offering for parents to study at home and go deeper with The Soul of Discipline.

It will begin with a lot of great free content, videos, and a webinar with Kim, and then there will be an optional paid course for parents who want to go deeper.

The free series is designed as a stand-alone three-part video series where Kim John Payne will share some of the best and most practical information from his new book, The Soul of Discipline: The Simplicity Parenting Approach to Warn, Firm, and Calm Guidance- From Toddlers to Teens. The series is meant to be helpful to all, whether or not you have read the book or plan on taking part in the upcoming course.

At the end of the free series, they will offer an opportunity for a “deeper dive” into the material by way of an 8-module online course where Kim will go into much greater depth about how to bring Simplicity Parenting principles into the daily life of your community. He will share lots and lots of real-world examples and stories from his years of experience- including information based on the most common questions he gets about this approach.

To sign up just click here and enter your email address.

(Full disclosure, we are affiliates of Simplicity Parenting.  This means if you click on the link and decide after the free content to purchase the course, we will receive a small affiliate commission.  Regardless, we only recommend products or services we use personally or come highly recommended by experts we trust.  Just want to be transparent!)

orphans, orphan care, non-profit, children, charityForm Three (the world):

Already I have seen the Christmas trees in the store and the stockings lining the shelves.  I’m not here to debate whether it’s too early or not.  But seeing all the Christmas items has reminded me that Christmas present buying is just around the corner.

If you are looking for a refreshing, impactful new gift idea for you or your family, let me propose the following:

One of our wonderful friends Joshua Becker from the widely popular blog Becoming Minimalist just announced his new non-profit this week.  It’s called The Hope Effect and it’s changing how orphans are cared for around the world.

This is going to be Chris and I’s Christmas gift to each other this year, and probably even more.

There are three great ways to get involved:

  1. Participate in the homes for the holidays campaign.  You can create your own fundraising page and instead of asking for material gifts this year, you can ask for donations instead.  Or both!
  2. Join the $10 team
  3. Make a donation of any amount you would like.

After only one day of announcing The Hope Effect, over $25,000 had been raised, and the $10 teams grown to over 100 recurring donors.

Joshua’s commitment is that 100% of your donation will be used exclusively for orphan care.

If you have any resources you think this community would also find helpful please let us know in the comments below!