I know. I’m a peach.
I was emailing with the very lovely Kayla last week about different parenting styles/fortes and it got me thinking about the things I do well as a mom and some things at which I am really really crappy. (Not making a big deal out of things on stormy mornings is obviously the former.) Here are some that come to mind, based on my own personal standard of what is ideal and where I stand relative to that ideal (starting with the bad first because I’d rather end on a high note):
– Playing/imagining: This sounds terrible, but I’ve never been very good at (nor do I particularly enjoy) playing with my kids. I love reading with them and going and doing activities with them and chatting with them, but blocks and legos and such just don’t particularly interest me (bless Kayla for being my words of affirmation here).
– Crafts: I’ve never been particularly fond of crafts, and it shows with my kids. It’s rare that we do a craft project during the day, and paints especially seem like such a hassle to me. Nat’s never been into coloring, much as we’ve tried (such a convenient and quiet activity for church, car rides, etc.!). Even peer pressure doesn’t pique his interest when other little kids at joy school are coloring. When all the other chicklets have a plethora of colors all over their drawings from Nursery at church, his is always perfectly colored within the lines because some nice teacher will color for him after a cursory stroke or two from Nat.
– Decorating: Similar to crafts. We’ve never had a perfectly matchy or adorably unmatchy Nursery. Several pieces of furniture are hand-me-downs and we’ve never bothered upgrading them. We’ve finally been thinking of maybe painting a bit, here almost 3 years later.
– Always using kind and soft voices: I have a friend who, even when disciplining her kids, has the gentlest, kindest voice. I am…not that person. It’s terrible, but I have a tendency to yell and get impatient. I have a temper, and it gets taken out on my kids (rather, kid – kina’s still too little and sweet to bear mommy’s wrath) more often than I’d like to admit. This lady’s totally my inspiration. I really struggle with balancing being kind but firm, between not losing myself and my own personality to mommyhood but not being downright mean.
– Patience: see above. If Nat insists on wearing a certain pair of shoes or appropriating a certain random thing to his toy collection, I get annoyed. Fast. I’m seriously working on this and the one above.
– Spending too much time online: Ah, yes, the Interwebs, my frenemy. Good as I usually am with managing my kids’ screen time, I’m much less good with myself.
– Bathing the kids: I just…it makes me nervous. And is awkward. So I usually relegate it to Dan.
– Getting out the door early: I have a friend (dang private blog :)) who is amazing at being super speedy and getting out the door in a snap with her toddler and newborn. We, on the other hand, usually eat breakfast in our jammies, go potty, clean up, read a couple books, get dressed, nap the baby, clean up toys, change diaper, go potty again, find a missing sock, etc. etc.
– Going to bed early: Even though I know it will make me grouchy when I wake up. I have a really hard time stopping in the middle of things.
– Getting dinner ready early: I always have grand plans of having it ready and waiting early so I’m not scrambling at the end to get food on the table. Rarely happens.
– Getting out when the weather is bad: I turn into a hermit when it’s rainy or snowy or bitterly cold. I have to make a real conscious effort to go do something when the weather is unpleasant.
– Playing games: Similar to playing with them, but I’m terrible at remembering to play games – card or active.
– Forgiving quickly: I basically never hold a grudge overnight (yes, my mood is grossly affected by adequate sleep), but in the moment, I have a really hard time just letting things go in the moment and holding my tongue. I wish I were better at not nagging and yelling and getting upset about things and just forgiving in the moment. Another thing I’m constantly working at, hard.
Wow, a lot of those make me sound like a mega-jerk. On the plus side, I’m decent at:
– Teaching independent play: Even from the time my kiddies are little, I don’t feel guilt about leaving them to entertain themselves for a bit while I make dinner or check that darned computer. Because of this, they are really very good at playing independently. Nat will often read books to himself during kina’s nap for an hour or so, and the other day, they both played in Nat’s room with blocks and such (actually, it was more Nat putting every toy in his room in the washing machine – also in his room – while kina giggled along, but it bought me time, at least?) for well over an hour while I made dinner and listened to an audiobook.
– Music/singing songs: I’ve played the violin since I was five, have sung/sing in a variety of choral groups, and minored in music in college. Plus, I just really really love music. I love singing to my children, playing for them, and just turning on my iPod in the background. We’ll do some “teachy”/kids songs but a lot of times it’s just ones I like.
– Eating/Cooking Meals: Our way may not be the ideal for everyone, but I’m really happy with where we are for our own family. It works for us and I’m glad for that.
– Books: What I lack in block playing, I make up for in book reading, and I enjoy it. We have lots to choose from, but also love the library. Few things make me happier than snuggling up with my kiddies and reading a book. Plus, I love reading myself, so I like that they can see me doing it, too.
– Scriptures/Articles of Faith: We read scriptures together most every morning, and sing that month’s Article of Faith Song.
– Activities: Most mornings, we’ll have some sort of outing to the park, library, splash pad, etc. We do some sort of family outing most Saturdays, often to a museum or the zoo or whatever (bless you, free DC activities). I’m also awesome at finding random obscure events and concerts and activities.
– Travel: We’re pretty adventurous about taking (and enjoying…usually) our kids along on far and short trips. We’ve definitely had our share of mishaps but I like teaching them to be good with travel and appreciating it. We plan lots of it, even random little trips in the area.
– Dressing my babies well: Counts for something, right?
– Limiting screen time: Discussed here. Again, NOT PERFECT. But acceptable to me.
– Teaching them to clean up/organize: Nat’s gotten to the point where he can pretty much put away all his toys with minimal direction/assistance. Thank the heavens.
– Letting them help cook/laundry/etc.: My mom is an amazing cook but never really let me help. Although it’s sometimes stressful/time-consuming and even though it definitely doesn’t come naturally to me, I try to make a conscious effort to let my kiddos help with these things.
– Making them walk: Well, really only applies to Nat since kina, you know, doesn’t yet. But we don’t have a double stroller so sometimes if we’re out for a REALLY long time, I’ll let nat ride in the stroller and put kina in the carrier. But most of the time, she strolls and he walks alongside me and it’s great. We live in a very walkable area and I LOVE that he’s getting used to walking on his own, even for multiple miles at a time.
– Teaching: I’m pretty good at teaching them, be it letters or songs or counting or scriptures or whatever. I like the structure of a specific learning goal, and so do they.
– Car seat safety: I’m a stickler for rear facing until at least two, usually longer.
– Budgeting: I rock at budgeting.
– Having high expectations: This sounds kind of funny, but I’m good at expecting a lot from my loved ones, for better or for worse (I’m going with better for here, anyway). This ties in with expecting them to organize, expecting them to help, expecting them to learn, and to be ABLE to learn. I think my kids are smarties and are able to do a lot more than even I expect, and they often live up to and surpass those expectations.
– Recording: I’m pretty great at recording milestones, silly things they say, dates, events, etc. I keep a little one line a day journal but also have a longer, more in-depth journal. I love being able to look back and know exact dates and personalities, instead of just having a vague recollection of what happened. I’m also good at dragging the big camera around with us to capture memories via photo.
– Planning/attending opportunities to interact with other kids: This one’s a mix. There are a few weekly built in activities that we almost always attend (playgroup, joy school, playschool), but I could be better at planning more one-on-one playdates.
– Talking to my kids: I like to chat with them. They like to chat back.
What is your momsonality?
i am just starting to learn things i'm good at and then not so good at!! i too am nervous for baths – chris does most of it and i watch 🙂 same with cutting finger nails! i think he will be way better at playing and being silly with our kids. i'll be the one to quiet/calm them down with quiet activities at night 🙂
My list would be quite similar to yours. All I can say is thank heaven for daddies and grandparents and nice babysitters who excel at building with blocks, keeping ther tempers in check and playing "horsey ride" over and over and over.
These are great lists! I will probably need to sit down an write them for myself. Heaven knows I've got things to work on. I love, in particular, that you made the second list of things that you're good at. From recent browsings on the interwebs I feel like I've encountered so much mom-bashing out there (usually between ourselves). "A Good Mom" looks like so many things, that I think it's really important for me to realize the things that I'm doing that are good. Thank you for sharing!
PLEASE teach me the ways of independent play. I'm not good at playing either, but my daughter is so so social that she cannot entertain herself. The only thing that works is letting her play with Axel while I check on them every 30 seconds. Olivia was in daycare for the first year of her life and then I was a nanny until Axel was born so she's never really been an only child and now it's coming back to bite me.
i can't tell you how many times spencer has voiced concern over my quick temper and whether i'll yell at our future children as much as i "raise my voice" (that's what i like to call it) at him. and really, who can get to bed before midnight? not me.
but budgeting, i too am a beast at it. i love that we are practically twins 🙂
I'm not a mom yet but I love this so much. Honesty is refreshing, and encouraging to plenty of women who I'm sure feel the same way about a lot of the things you just admitted to! I've never been good at the "pretend" aspect of playing with kids and I love hearing that other women feel the same and are still successful moms. Keep on keepin on!
Preethi, thank-you for posting your list. I should sit down and write one for myself as well. I think as mothers, we have this idea that we have to be perfect. But we all have things that we naturally do well and things that we have to work on. And it makes me feel better that I am not the only one that has a hard time playing with my kids.
I mean, who ARE WE? Kindred spirits? I don't have to write a list because this is basically mine! "oh you are pretending to be a kitty? um ok cool." I am so not good at the dramatic play for more than 5 min. Also: kids crafts? Ain't nobody got time for that (in this house at least). PS if you hate to get out when the weather is bad then you should move to San Diego! We get out 360 days/year!
I love this and it makes me want to do a list for myself. I've always thought of you as so patient, much more patient than me, and we definitely don't do the craft thing in our house. I do not have a crafty bone in my body nor do I really enjoy it.
What a great great post. I seriously have been thinking about you all day. We are SO alike (except that I like crafts).
yessssssss. amen sister. Luke can play trains for hoursssss and I can do like, four minutes. And that's a stretch. But also, I just love independent play. It's how I played (ahem. read all my nancy drew books) as a kid. And I like that I can do my mom chores while he entertains himself. Fostering Independence in my kids is super important to me, be it playing or having them help do "chores" And by them, I mean just Luke because obviously the baby doesn't do anything yet. Wait! she does tummy time independently, does that count?
I'm now even more convinced that we are the same person (except I suck at budgeting, and I put Tal front-facing when he was 1). I'm reading this whole list going, yes, yes, yes, and… yes.
I know this sounds awful, but I hate PLAYING with kids. AAH. Gives me hives.
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