Books That Will Change the Way You Parent

I know you’ve spent the whole day chasing your kid around trying to change their diaper, getting wet with milk leaking out of the sippy, leaky cloth diapers and tepid bath water. You’re probably too worn out by the end of the day to muster up energy for any activity other than falling into your unmade bed. For those nights when you do have the strength and interest to learn, you want to make those moments count. Here are some books that are both entertaining and inspiring to cozy up with in the half an hour you have before you lay down and look at facebook for 10 minutes before turning out the light.

Home Grown by Ben Hewitt. This book is so mind-blowingly awesome and refreshing. Ben Hewitt basically sums up the way I felt about school and why the system is fucked up and how to break free. Literally and figuratively.

French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon. What I avoided reading for a long time because I thought it would be a dry read going over all the unattainable rules scrawled on the back cover turned out to be a very funny, relatable and fascinating account of a working mom in a foreign country who had to figure shit out! It changed the way I think about food, mealtimes, nutrition and even my own subconscious cultural assumptions.

Home Away From Home by Cynthia Aldinger and Mary O’Connell. Sometimes the Waldorf World at large seems so heavenly and blissful that it is just unbelievable (not to mention unbelievably expensive) and unattainable. But these ladies really strip caring for children down to the roots, and hold your hand lovingly as they reveal how having a reverence for childhood can make caregiving enjoyable and doable. Especially helpful for the mamas who have multiple kiddos of different ages.

No Bad Kids by Janet Lansbury. Y’all know Janet is a rockstar to me. She is the unofficial spokesperson for RIE who was a student of Magda Gerber herself. This book is funny, practical and absolutely heartwarming. A simple and relevant read if you have a baby or toddler. I can’t say enough good things about it!


In All Honesty: Striving to be an Exceptional Mom

About five years ago I started a blog about natural childhood and child development. I wrote about 10 different posts, most of them talking about the best ways to use positive discipline, how to get kids to eat healthy and things like that. I deleted that blog several months ago because I realized that I’m very very far from the expert I had hoped to be. And, as you can see, now I’ve decided to give it another try.

The reason I’m writing this blog is because I know what it’s like to be a mom who is struggling to make her child’s experience of life nothing short of amazing. I work 60 hours a week running a daycare with 6 toddlers (including my own 2 year old daughter), my husband is often gone and will be deploying for 9 months this summer. Did I mention I live about 24 hours away from home and don’t have family nearby to help? I manage a household and am living (surviving?) with rheumatoid arthritis (I have to talk myself into getting up sometimes and by the time my daughter finally gets to sleep at around 7:30, I’m limping and ready to drop), but my life is way too busy and chaotic to do that. After my babe goes to dreamland, then it’s time to sweep the crumbs off the floor, sop up the juice puddles, put away all the abandoned toys, the dishes-laundry-trash-diaper pail, and get everything in order for the first kids to arrive at my home daycare at 6:30 tomorrow morning.

As if that weren’t enough, I’m making a concerted effort to feed my child (and myself!) only whole, nutritious organic foods, to cut out all screen time, and to raise her with the RIE parenting philosophy. On top of THAT, I’m trying to find self-fulfillment and emotional therapy through art, music, writing, yoga and general spiritual development. I’m trying to pay off credit card debt and get our family financially fit. I’m trying to be as kind to others, the planet and myself as I can be. I’m trying to overcome my subconscious programming which makes me wired for certain habits that I no longer find desirable.

I’ve been told things like “You have endless patience” and “I don’t know how you do it” and also “You are supermom.” The real truth is I’m struggling every day, every minute, heck sometimes every moment to be exceptional. As a woman, as a mother, as a care provider, as a wife, in all my million roles I’m trying my damnedest. And often I fail. What my clients, friends and relatives don’t see is the times when I just throw everything in my room so no one will see the mess. When I scarf down multiple pieces of cake (and to clarify, we’re talking store bought, chemical laden, white sugar filled cake here). when I snap at my daughter about her whining (crying is one of those trigger points for me caused from my own early childhood shaming that I’ll forever be working to get past.) When I look in the mirror and give myself a pep talk before heading back out into the fray (er.. playroom) because I’m really just trying to hold myself together and make it through the day.

In my efforts to be awesome, I read sooo many blogs and books and articles. Some of them are hippy anti-vaccinating natural earth mama goddess blogs. Some of them are from well versed, well spoken and righteously driven early childhood educators. Some of them are from moms in exotic locations who dress their children in expertly coordinated outfits and take magazine quality photos of them in their oversized hand made indoor teepees.lgp9

But the blogs that really have touched my heart are the ones that are based on the truth. The truth is that parenting is really hard. The truth is almost everyone is struggling. Just like me, they’ve made financial mistakes, they’re not eating the healthiest all the time, they probably work way too much, they probably don’t spend enough time on self care. They’re trying to juggle their kids, their jobs, their marriage, their family obligations, their friendships, their household. They have medical issues, mental issues, and lots of incomplete projects and unmet goals. Everybody fails, but not everyone is brave enough to talk about it publicly.

So, here I go. I’m ready to get out all that I have to say. I’m ready to let this medium help me, and I’m ready to let it help others who feel the same way and are called to read it. Even though I always wanted to be “One Of The Greats,” I think it would just be a lot more freeing and a lot more doable if I can just be me. Part of me does feel like I’m betraying my ego only a little. If I’m writing the truth, everyone will see beyond my posts about my quaint Waldorf inspired toy arrangements and my child friendly backyard garden. As my aunt says, “everyone has a blog these days.”

That might be true, but no one’s blog is the same. Mine will take a hell of a lot from a lot of other places, but from my vantage point, the heart from which I’m writing is my own. It’s raw and imperfect and messy. The words I type from my fingertips will flow right out of me, and in this way I will be able to release my reigned in emotions. I will be able to let go of my mistakes. I will be able to hold myself accountable to the reader, even if the only reader is me. I’m hoping dearly that I can manage to keep up with it, and that I will grow so profoundly and be able to look back on my early posts and marvel at how far I’ve come. But I don’t think perfect parenting is ever really within one’s grasp. I think it forever eludes, as you change, your child changes, and the world changes it slips beyond your reach. The beauty and honor is in the striving. That’s where I’ll be.