Do you ever scroll through Facebook or Instagram, seeing all the perfect (and mostly outdoor) pictures of families, and then start questioning your own parenting? I seriously do this all the time.
Those pictures make me feel like a boring, lazy parent.
When I would see them I’d worry about, one, how lame my backyard adventure pictures must look to these people, and two, if my child is missing out. I never thought to take my family on special trips or family outings to the aquarium or the zoo unless I heard someone else mention doing it.
We would plan beach trips but that was about it. I had never planned holiday crafting activities.
I’m not much of an activity planner…
To be perfectly honest, I never used to plan my days at all. I barely planned for birthday parties. And while I was on Pinterest, probably too much, I wasn’t exactly a Pinteresty-mom… I never thought to look for ways to entertain my kids. (Until recently, because I’m on maternity leave and we’ve had so much time together, so check out that board here!)
That’s when the mom guilt set in. Am I lazy? Are my kids missing out?
I always compared myself and I would feel so guilty. I felt like I needed to start planning things right away. And it was such a nightmare. I tried to get my 2.5yo daughter to build and decorate a gingerbread house!
Two and a half! A gingerbread house!!
Like that was all photo op. Neither my daughter or I enjoyed this activity. We were both frustrated and annoyed with each other. And when it was done, what was I going to do with it? Put it up high somewhere and tell her she can’t touch it.
I felt pressured into doing this activity because it’s what I saw other moms doing. And instead of recognizing the good things I do for my family, I was stuck comparing myself and forcing my kid to do something that wasn’t even close to age appropriate.
Then I realized that if we’re always comparing ourselves to other moms, we can’t really appreciate the things that make us the best mom to our own kids.
Social media is full of picture-perfect moments. Your perfect moments aren’t going to look like everyone else’s perfect moments.
My kids and I mostly play in the backyard. Or on rainy days, we watch movies and color. It’s nothing fancy but *we* enjoy it.
I don’t usually plan out holiday crafts or weekend projects… maybe I’m not creative… or maybe I’m lazy… or maybe I’m just too freakin’ exhausted to more than I already do… it’s likely a combination of all those things.
But we would just kind of wing it every day. Nobody knew what we’d be doing when we woke up. And you know what? I kind of liked it that way.
My daughter is really good about staying busy with toys and she’ll ask to color if she wants to. She definitely watches TV because I don’t see anything wrong with a little screen time.
but since I’ve been on maternity leave I’ve had more time and energy to do more with my daughter so I created a whole list of fun things to keep kids busy!
It would make me feel bad, though, to think she might be missing out on certain experiences. Like if I’m not a full-of-ideas kind of mom, maybe she’s not having enough fun or is missing out on something.
Embracing the Way You Mom
I know every mom is different. Every mom has her way of doing things and her way of raising her children but sometimes I feel entirely inadequate for the way I do it.
I started thinking I needed to plan out all kinds of activities for every single day we were on vacation. I thought I needed to have a weekend day trip planned at least once a month. And definitely something completely Instagram worthy done every single week.
I was stressing myself out about creating special moments.
Appreciating Our Own Methods
By nature, I’m an introvert, L am not energized by other people. Too much interaction in a short period of time actually exhausts me.
It doesn’t matter if it’s my mom, my husband, or my kid, too much of any person can drain me. I need alone time to recharge.
After numerous attempts at various activities, a few temper tantrums, and a whole lot of frustration, I realized my daughter is also energized by alone time and quiet play.
She is her most pleasant self after a nap and some time to play by herself. This means that she’s probably not even enjoying the different activities I’m pushing on her. She may not want to play with me all the time and do crafts. And she may not like being brought to places with lots of people.
She sure is my kid, the spitting image of me in more ways than one. And she likes doing what I like doing. I was so caught up in what other moms were doing that I didn’t even consider the fact that my child is perfectly happy with the way we do things.
Her behavior should be what dictates a change in our routine, not my insecurities about what other people think of me.
Don’t get me wrong, my daughter always has a great time playing with cousins or friends. But once it’s time to come home, I can tell. She gets cranky, and frustrated, and wants to be left alone.
I used to attribute this to her age, but now I realize that she is probably drained of energy just like me, after spending time interacting with other people. She needs to recharge the same way I do.
Acknowledging this helped me manage her behavior a lot better… after I disrupted it of course. If we do decide to spend a day away from home or doing some new activities, my daughter needs downtime the next day.
Keeping her out all day or busy all week long would most certainly result in a lot more temper tantrums. It would be more frustrating than enjoyable for all of us.
This realization, me, actually evaluating what works for us and not impresses other people helped me make better decisions o what kind of activities work for me and my child. We should always seek out the right activities for our own family.
Don’t compare what you’re doing, or what your child is doing, to other moms and their kids. Everyone is different. Don’t push what doesn’t come naturally to you.
Recognizing Your Child’s Needs
Having said all that, not every child will be just like their parent. Knowing what stimulates your child is important. As my younger daughter grows up, I might find that she needs a lot more interaction, she may not enjoy staying at home or playing alone the way my older daughter does, and that’s perfectly ok.
It’s really all about finding the right balance for your family and knowing what you *and they* can handle.
The very best way to ensure your kids are happy and thriving is to set up situations where their needs are being met. This will look different for every parent.
As long as your kids are happy, healthy, and thriving, there is no reason you should feel inadequate about the ways you spend time together.
If you and your kiddo enjoy quiet time, check out this post! I list all the things we do that keeps us both happy. 🙂
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