Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Stay Sane Parenting Method

Just over 10 years ago I peed on a stick and my life forever changed with a positive sign saying, yes I was in fact pregnant. Nine months later I was holding a brand new baby boy and I felt overwhelmed. With not only the normal overwhelming feelings new mothers get, but also the dangerous overwhelming feeling new mothers of today get because of the internet. That darn internet full of people just waiting to tell you what you are doing wrong, how you are ruining your children, and inciting the mommy wars on a whole new level. The bar of what makes a "good mother" is so much higher than it was for our mothers and grandmothers before us.

My son (who is now 9) and me one month into my motherhood journey.

In a moment of panic during those first few days after bring my baby home, my mom and my aunt, in the wisdom that can only come from years of raising children to adulthood, gave me the best advice. 

"Do what is right for your baby and you. Nothing else matters, your motherly instincts will kick in." 

They were right. It took having two more babies, and the wisdom that only comes with age, to finally feel more comfortable in my role as mom. To finally feel confident in saying to someone who may judge me, I don’t care what your opinion is of me. My kids are taken care of, they are loved, and our parenting system is what is working for us today.

Since the beginning of time children have driven their parents crazy and parents have felt overwhelmed and lost. What the moms of the past had that many today do not is a support system of other moms, a village that jumped in and cast no judgement. Which makes me wonder, how did we get from the village that helped to raise each others children; to the judgement casting mommy wars so many fight today? It is time to put down the pitchforks, turn away from the mommy know it alls, and embrace each other as we struggle through life and parenthood. There are a million parenting styles out there.

Here is the big secret so many new mothers don't know, all those parenting styles are right. Every. Single. One. It all depends on the child, the parents, and the family. What works for one child may not work for another. No mom fits into one parenting mold and no child fits into one parenting style. It is a balance. A pick and choose what works for you and your family.

I propose a new parenting method. I call it the Stay Sane Method. In which you basically do what works for you while keeping your children loved and cared for.

If you want to do a natural drug free birth at home, breast feed until your child is two, attachment parenting, never vaccinate, never place a screen in front of your child, only feed your child organic food you go for it. If you want to get that epidural, cry it out, formula feed, vaccinate, give them screen time, and feed them a balanced diet that includes what ever is on sale at the grocery store you rock that. If you want to do a little of everything, you do it! But you must NEVER cast judgement on another mom. Yes you may think it, but you don't tell her she is doing wrong. You support her and she supports you. This of course exclude child abused, that is a completely different issues, and abuse is not a parenting style.

There is no one magical way to parent that will raise perfectly well rounded children. Our world is too messed up for that. All we can do is try our best in an imperfect world. To know that even the most well adjusted of adults had something in their childhood that messed them up. Despite their parents best intentions to protect them. We all leave childhood with some baggage by the time we hit our 20s (or before). It is what gives us character and sometimes send us to therapy. Sometimes the baggage comes from family life, sometimes from school drama, sometimes from the big scary beautiful world. There is no parenting style that can protect our kids from the evils out there. We just need our children to know we will always be their safe place to land. Even if they are 30. 

As for me I did the epidural births. I did some attachment parenting. But after age one I sometimes let my kids cry it out because I was just SO tired. I breastfeed mostly, but also supplemented with formula. I make sure my kids are fully vaccinated. My kids have screen time, they have outdoor playtime, sometimes we do art projects. Sometimes we go on adventures to the park, zoo, or museums. Sometimes I cook them healthy meals. Sometimes we get fast food because I just don’t have the energy to cook.

Sometimes I am so worn out to my core that I make popcorn and we have a surprise movie day with mommy. Just so I can cuddle up with my kids for 90 minutes and zone out. Sometimes I play with them. Sometimes I send them off to their toy room to just play with each other. I basically change it up depending on the day, how I am feeling, how my kids are feeling. It is how we all stay sane. 
My goal is to just get them safely to adulthood. To have successfully raised open minded, kind, brave, self efficient adults. That still need me sometimes, but not for things like to do all of their laundry. Because I hope by the time they leave my house they know the basics of adulting. 

Nine years and two more kids later, I have finally started to find the best way to parent these three!

The mommy wars must end, because no one wins. No more of these “Where are the parents!!!” type comments when horrible things happen to kids. With the obvious exception of horrendous child abuse, we all make mistakes. We all have turned our back for a second and our child got hurt. We are human and so far from perfect. Where the parents of the past were showered with sympathy and help. Parents today have to deal with such hateful words and accusation while dealing with turmoil.

Join me in embracing the stay sane parenting method! We need to band together and stop tearing each other down. Here in the trenches of parenthood; we are all sleep deprived, we are all worried we are messing up our kids, we are all struggling, we are all trying out best, and we are all succeeding.