Last summer, I spent a lot of time reading and listening to books about parenting. This was not a proactive endeavor; it was 100% reactive. Jonas wasn’t sleeping through the night and Edgar was, you know, being a three-year-old. So I did what I always do when I have a problem I don’t know how to solve: I looked for a book to help me out.
SO. MANY. BOOKS. And they were all helpful in their own ways; I took tips and techniques away from them all. One thing I’ve noticed about me and Tamara is – we’re a sort in-between when it comes to our parenting strategies. We have friends who are super into discipline and compliance, friends who are 100% into Waldorf or Montessori or attachment parenting, friends who are extremely focused on education and learning.
And the thing about us is – we’re a lot of different things. We let our babies cry at night – a little. We don’t co-sleep. We allow a lot of free play and open-ended activities, but we – particularly me – also enjoy doing activities or projects that are a little more structured. We didn’t do any screen time until Edgar was 3, and since then we’ve done just a little. (More since the coronavirus pandemic started, for sure!)
So there’s not one philosophy or style for us, and I think that’s probably true for most parents. We’re all blending different values and principles and trying to come up with rules and routines and rituals that work for us. AND, if we’re doing it with a partner, we’re having to compromise periodically when we’re not on the same page.
But as I read through these books, and reflected on the different ways there are to be a parent, one question kept coming up for me:
What kind of a parent do I want to be?
There are so many options, and you don’t have to just pick one. You can be hands-off or hands-on. You can be laidback or structured. When I really zeroed in on the kind of parent I want to be, I came up with three words, and two of them are in the title of this blog.
The three words that best describe the kind of mom I want to be are playful, peaceful, and present.
I want to be playful and silly with my kids. I want to turn things into a game whenever I can. (A highly recommended strategy to enhance cooperation in many of the parenting books I read.)
I want to be peaceful. I want to stay calm, for my own well-being – it does not feel good to get caught up in a toddler’s emotional storm. And I want to be a calm center for my kids – a “place” they can come to get reoriented when they’re feeling dysregulated.
I want to be present. Oh, man, is this hard in the age of cell phones! I want to be fully present for my boys; I want them to have my full attention, and I want to teach them to give their full attention to everything they do. Especially the important things.
Playful. Peaceful. Present.
I’m working from home with my two boys for the foreseeable future. I need these words. May they become my mantra.