Friday, July 26, 2013

PAIL book club: No Regrets Parenting

I'm hosting this month's book club over at PAIL. Stop by and check out everyone's posts on the book!

No Regrets Parenting. This is an enticing idea to me as I have made it a project to avoid living with regrets. I try new things, dance like a fool even when my picture is being taken, and do my best to make the best choice and do the next right thing as it presents itself. Parenting I've found to be the hardest part of life to manage things without regrets.

Here are the discussion questions, and then I expect some rambling about what have you will happen (edit to add: nope! Disco questions covered it all for now!).

  • What, if anything, did you find particularly useful about this book?
    • It's a real middle way, in my view. So many parenting books want you to change your life completely, and that's a nice idea, but realistically I just can't change everything about life. This book gives very obvious ways to solve everyday dilemmas and enjoy the minutes you have with your kids more. The criticisms I read about the book were mostly "all of this is common sense... why did I need a book?" and at least for me, it's good to restate the obvious because I get stuck and miss really obvious solutions. It's one of the reasons I love blogs because I love to see what other folks are trying and see if it would work for me.
  • How did this book influence how you think about parenting or how you approach busyness?
    • I like the ways to improve transition times. I like the idea of giving your kids your full attention while driving them somewhere (aside from the driving part) instead of... whatever else I might want to do while commuting. I also like that it didn't tell me to knock off doing adult things or working.
  • What parts of this book you do disagree with and why?
    • I think the author emphasizes being with your kids ALL THE TIME POSSIBLE too much. Yep, it's good to bake cookies with the kids on a Saturday but it's also good for them to go out and play with the neighbor kids without me watching too closely. I'm a firm believer that children need independent play and that we spend too much time stalking them and structuring them. Example: I think he says at some point to walk your kid to the bus stop every day it's possible. Me? No. As soon as my kindergartener is ready, she will walk the 5 blocks to her stop alone because it's important for her to know how to be alone and unstructured and to accomplish something. As soon as she's old enough, my kid will go to sleep away camp for a week for sure because, at least for me, the most I ever figured out about myself happened in a space without my parents. Nobody told me who to be at summer camp or who I was or who I should be, and I think that openness is crucial to kids.
    • And of course, the author totally misses the point of video games and why playing them with your kid is fun. Totally the wrong approach but then the author didn't grow up with video games and so doesn't get why they are not the enemy or something parents begrudgingly accept as inevitable. I should write a post about video games sometime soon.
  • The author keeps talking about time, time time with your kids. I know a lot of us at PAIL have young toddlers, and I'm wondering what others do with their kids in this age range. Sometimes when I have the whole weekend, at some point I feel like I run out of ways to keep everyone entertained.
    • I send the kid outside. When we moved from an apartment to a house just after the kid turned 2, we learned the yard boundaries and when she could show me where they were, we sent her out to play. Usually we put sunblock on her and weather-appropriate clothes, but that was about it. I may be a weirdo but I don't think it's my job as parent to be continuously entertaining. I get out a book and tell the kid to go play. Sometimes I play with her, usually not unless she asks me to. Another sneaky tactic for fun time together is asking your kid to retell the story you just read as a book. You can suggest costumes or props or something. You could start acting it out. Play dough also is a great way to fill any space of time. Yesterday my 5 year old and her buddy played with the stuff for 2+ hours. So to me, it's beneficial at times to stop being the source of entertainment and to instead possibly watch my kid playing without me (or maybe not so much watching because I need a break too since I'm a human).
  • What kinds of things do people do to "double dip" as is discussed in this book?
    • Cooking, swimming, biking/walking (generally the 5 year old bikes and the rest of us walk/stroller), coloring pictures (mostly the spouse and kid do this), nature walks (especially if there's a scavenger hunt involved where we are checking off a list of things we see/hear/smell/maybe touch)
  • Do you have child activity limits or do you let your child sign up for everything like the "potpourri" parent described? If your kid(s) is(are) young, what are your plans?
    • I think we're going to limit things that happen after 6:30pm to "very rarely" because we try to be in bed by 8pm. Our kid gets overloaded so easily that she needs a lot of time to wind down from things so we need to keep evenings pretty calm. We signed up for Girl Scouts this year (aside: who knew kids this young sell cookies? sheesh!) but the spouse is the leader so I'm hoping the meetings will be on the weekends. Next year if this goes well we may add another activity. The kid wants to take violin lessons (oh my) so we're going to run the budget in September and see if that's possible to add. I feel like two things or maybe 3 is absolutely the maximum number of activities we could handle as a family and could still convince the kid to sleep. 
  • How do you make time for yourself if you are focusing on spending time with your children and keeping up a demanding career like the author describes?
    • I schedule it. I try to be deliberate. We adults go work out at the gym and take the girls to childcare and they are pretty happy with it. I need at least an hour of alone time a week though, so sometimes when we go to the gym, I don't actually exercise... I bring a book and go hide somewhere to read. I'm also going to try to arrange a "date night" once a month starting soon so we get to continue having an adult relationship.
  • Frequently people tell parents to "enjoy every minute" while their kids are little, and at times this book has that sort of feeling. What do you think about this advice and how can you make it practical as a part of your life?
    • I like that this book helps with ideas of how to enjoy more minutes, but I dislike that preachy tone. You can't make me enjoy the 10 minutes my kid screamed while we attempted to leave the library where the baby also wailed. It was unfun. No enjoyable elements. Yep, I will try to appreciate the babbling in the car after childcare pick-up because that actually can be enjoyable. I just don't think it's possible to enjoy every minute so I won't waste my time trying to enjoy it.
  • How do you keep track of your child's activities? Do you find it helpful or hard to see what you might be missing?
    • This book inspired us to create a specific calendar for kid things that the spouse and I both subscribe to so their events are one colored dot in the listing of events for the day. So far in the 3 weeks we've had it, it's been very helpful but I think that if I were working and unable to go to some/most of the events, it would add extra stress knowing what I was missing. Then again, life happens and the best thing is to make the most of the time we get, so I will work on letting go of the guilt. Work has to happen and in pharmacy it's rare that it won't conflict with evenings at least some of the time.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks again for hosting book club!
    I like your take on things in terms of not needing to be with your kids ALL the time...that some independence is good for them (and you). I think I need a little more of that attitude. I do spend pretty much every spare moment (eg when I'm not working) entertaining my kids and I feel a severe lack of balance, like there is no time at all for me. And I'm pregnant with a 3rd baby and feeling very overwhelmed about that...but maybe if I didn't feel like I had to be there for all 3 kids 24/7 it would be/start to look less overwhelming and more fun.
    Anyway, great to get your perspective. :)