The book that has most helped to make parenting fun again (part 1 of 2)

Written by on May 12, 2013 in Cool Stuff and Reviews - 1 Comment

Ok so let’s just admit it now, shall we: parenting isn’t always fun. Sometimes, our adorable little packages of love and joy can annoy us tremendously. Sometimes they can disappoint us. And sometimes they can even make us angry or sad. As much as we look for ways to reach them better and to impress them with all of our age-old life wisdom and knowledge, there are many times when they somehow still don’t see just how right we are; and, at times, they even seem to be doing everything they can just to test us and to push our buttons. Alas, the life of a parent!

I remember several years back to when I was pregnant with my first daughter and was sitting and talking to a mom with kids I’d recently become friendly with and telling her how I have a great idea for a book. I distinctly remember her telling me to make sure that I wrote it all before the birth of my daughter. Clearly, she was not a writer and did not understand that an idea does not a book make and that the writing of the book could take years, if not decades for some. I wasn’t worried though, “but I have plenty of time,” I told my new friend. “After all, I could easily write the book while the baby is small. All they do is sleep and eat then anyway.” This tired mom of two small ones was clearly either too nice or too polite to fill me in on just how wrong I really was (or maybe she was just too tired after all those sleepless nights and kiddy runs to bother). But if I’d paid a little bit more attention to her look of dismay, I maybe would have made more of an effort to finish that book in the few months I still had before the baby’s birth.

Let’s just say that I did manage to write almost half of the book in the first few months of my daughter’s life, when she was, in fact, sleeping and when I wasn’t myself so exhausted from either nursing or lack of sleep to actually be able to remain awake. Soon after those few months, however, the crawling stage began, followed shortly thereafter by the walking stage. And then there was definitely no chance of book writing – what with playdates to arrange, baby food to cook up and feed, and a little running and chatting toddler to follow around. So the book went unfinished, only being returned to when both daughter number one and daughter number two were safely tucked away at school for a few hours each day, and by then so many years had passed already that whatever I’d started to write about didn’t resonate at all anymore.

So what was the point of this whole commentary, as it is certainly not to sell my yet unfinished book? Just to paint the picture that we often assume (quite wrongly) that parenting will be simpler than it actually is. Just as I believed that all that babies do is sleep and eat, I also believed that I could just tell my toddlers to do what I needed them to do and that they would do it gladly. That was before I was made aware of the “terrible twos” of course (or horrible threes for some), etc etc.  But really I should have known better. After all, children are people just like us and they have hopes, desires, beliefs, and opinions just as adults do. Why shouldn’t they be entitled to them and why shouldn’t they express them when we require them to act in a way that goes contrary to what they desire or believe? This very reasonable, very zen way of thinking took some time to come to of course (and for both the “terrible twos” or “dreadful threes” or whatever to pass), for my little girls to become a bit older and a bit better at vocalising what they wanted without the whining, and for me to learn how to grow that saintly patience that we often attribute to parents on a truly higher plane of existence (ok I’m still working on this bit).

Anyway, the basic point is that somewhere along the way parenting stopped being fun and started to feel more like work – something that really bothered me because I truly, truly love and adore my kids above anything and anyone on this planet. So I decided to take control of myself and my relationship with my children and to work out how we can once again enjoy each other more and stress each other out less. I wanted us to have fun together and to have more of those good, fun moments that we would remember fondly in the future; and fewer of those annoying, stressful moments like getting them ready for school on time in the morning while I subsequently attempted to get myself ready for work. And not those annoying moments in the evening where I did everything but threaten their TV watching for the next year to convince them to go to bed. No, I wanted quality time more of the time and stress less of the time. And I wanted a way to have them listen to me without ever needing to raise my voice at them. I didn’t want to have to shout to get my point across (it didn’t really work long term anyway). I had never imagined myself to be the kind of mother (or person in general) who has to raise my voice consistently to be heard. And I didn’t like this quality at all. So I was determined to figure out a better way.

It wasn’t a surprise then that I turned, as I always did in my life, to the written word to help me in this endeavour. I’d read many books about babies when I was pregnant. The Baby Whisperer and The Contented Little Baby Book were two of my favourites. Now I just as enthusiastically pored over books on parenting slightly older children. I read a series of books on parenting in the French way, which definitely impressed me over the American way (have a look at my review). I also read the story of the Tiger Mom (which I’ll review at some point as well), and I even tried the 123 Magic method that a good friend recommended (and bought quite a few of the books and videos to boot). I’d review it too if I still believed in it, but it is one of those methods that only works temporarily, until it doesn’t anymore leaving the parent counting further and further and still being just as equally ignored.

Just as I was close to giving up hope of ever finding the “Holy Grail” of child rearing, a good friend, and mom of two boys who’d grown up and attended school alongside my two girls, invited some of the moms of children in school with hers to a seminar about raising kids in a brand new way (though it wasn’t really new at all, as it’s actually been around for decades and was a system started by a father and continued much later by his then adult son). I attended out of curiosity not quite expecting very much, but what I learned just in those two hours blew me away. I tried the techniques I learned with my children the next day, and they worked amazingly. Boy was I surprised with their simplicity too. And not only that; I was hungry to learn more. Luckily, I’d purchased a book while I was at the event, not really thinking much of it but wanting a reference just in case the stuff actually worked. Well, I tore into it immediately and right away everything in our family dynamic began to change – slowly of course, and ever so slightly, but a change was evident.

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One Comment on "The book that has most helped to make parenting fun again (part 1 of 2)"

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