Friday, May 15, 2009

Went to a Parenting Lecture and now.....

I feel like a screw up.

Parening lectures, I always sign up for them even if the topic doesn't apply to the age of my child because I am totally clueless about how to raise G now that he is a little beyongd the "eat, sleep, poop" stage and I have no patience for parenting books. Usually, I leave the lectures with one of several trains of thought.
  • That lady was nuts.
  • Seriously who parents like that?
  • I want to parent like that.
  • Oh my God(s) am I screwing up my child parenting the way I am?

Is this child already doomed?


The last thought came to me after I asked a question at a parenting lecture last week. The lecture was about misbehaviour, what causes it and how to deal with it. I was really enjoying the lecture and was affirmed in many of my parenting beliefs. I enjoyed the lecture so much that I intended to write somewhat of a review here on my blog, that is,until the lecturer answered my question about routines.

I consider myself to be a very laid back parent for a "type A" person. I don't want a hyper scheduled child who is so dependant on his routine that he can't cope with a deviation from it. My life is not organized enough to need a crazy schedule, in fact, ever since marrying a military guy eightish years ago my life has been anything but predictable.

I feel at this point I may need to give a disclaimer as I am about to assail you all with our non-schedule or non-routine.

Disclaimer *** I am in no way judging people who have a schedule or routine for their child(ren) no matter how loose or strict. I am a lazy rambling hippie an you should probably pay no attention to me***

Before attending the lecture I had no real serious doubts about my day to day with G. The purpose of going to the lecture was to gain insight into non-punitive and non-corporal discipline. I figure once G forgets that he is a living Buddha, I am going to need it.

During question period A parent asked a discipline question specific to her child and the speaker gave her some strategies. The speaker seemed finished but then stated "you need routines and lots of them".

Uh oh, my brain flies into motion, over thinking over analysing. I started thinking of what routines G and I have and I am realizing we don't really have so many routines as we have daily traditions. I am curious and I want to know do our daily traditions constitute routines?

So... I ask. I don't know if I really got an answer to my question, she just said "You need routines and a lot of them, you need to stick to them because children do well on routines."

Crap! I guess I am messing up. Maybe I should have read more books. Maybe I should try for more routine. Ack! I lived with all of this swimming in my head for a few days and then I enlisted Ian to try and either talk me down or confirm that I am a huge screw up and I am indeed screwing up our kid. Where is Bridget when I need her?

Ian doesn't think there is anything wrong with our routine or lack of it. He thinks that G is doing just fine and he enjoys that G is a flexible little dude. Sort of a why fix it if it isn't broken idea. I guess it seems like that should have talked me down but it really didn't. I am now thinking things like "just because what we do is easy doesn't mean it is good or right" and "maybe I should find a crappy job and put G in daycare because I am obviously not qualified to raise my own child". Then there is the more rational me that just wants to raise him the lazy hippie way and hope for the best.

So if anybody has made it this far into the most recent adventure of the "Reluctant Nomad and her Toddler Sidekick" please go a bit further and tell me what you think of our unroutine/daily traditions. Tell me if I am screwing up my kid. I won't promise I won't obsess and cry but I do promise to read and be thoughtful about it all.

The Daily/Weekly Traditions of Amanda and the G

Everyday we wake up when we wake up, we have breakfast and sometimes shower, sometimes Ian comes home and eats with us. We usually have one daily activity planned and it is usually in the morning. Mon playgroup , Tues yoga with day care, Wed salsa tots, Thurs yoga with daycare and playgroup, Fri playgroup. The rest of everyday is just stuff, we play and read and get things done in the garden or the house, he naps if he needs it and eats when he is hungry. When Ian comes home we all hang together or I go out or we go out as a family. Weekends we go to the market, zoo, for bike rides or swimming.

The reason I say we have traditions instead of a routine is that we always eat at the table, he always naps on the couch (usually in my lap), every night he usually nurses to sleep in my arms etc. So there are constants in his life an I think they are good but we fall short of being in a routine because nothing we do , except timed activities, has a time structure.

I know parents who time everything; wake up time, snack time,meal times, reading, art etc. I always just thought it was a difference in kids or a difference in parents but today I am a bit paranoid that it is the way we are "supposed" to parent to raise normal kids and that my being a lazy hippie is forever screwing G up.


  1. Hmmm... then I have forever screwed up my own son... lol... he never had those kinds of strict routines, & frankly I think he ended up remaining way more flexible and far less rigid about stuff than some of his playmates (who still obsess about the "proper" way to do things... ) Sounds to me like you are doing a bang up job of attachment parenting... your little guy obviously feels well-loved and safe in his little world... I think that's a million more times important than the "time" thing. :) Heck, my little guy would sleep on the couch, in the stroller, on a friend's bed... it all depended on where we were! I nursed him forever, he slept with me forever... did lots of "lazy hippie" things... I think that lovin' your baby up is most important... and setting some boundaries around interpersonal interactions and expectations (i.e. how to get along with others!)... sounds to me like you're doing fine... just sayin'...

  2. Hey Amanda,

    Well, if you are messing up G (which I totally don't think you are) then I am messing up my chickie too! You actually have more 'timed' events planned into your week than I do. I would like to do more organized stuff with my little one, but being pregnant again has taken a lot out of me, so it feels like a successful day if I can play with her a bit, read to her, get her outside for a bit to play, and feed both of us whenever we get hungry!

    Earlier on, when she had even less of a schedule than she does now, I worried about it and then she kind of eased into her own, somewhat regular, sleep schedule (i.e. wake-up time, nap time, bed time) -- but I still don't force it on her. I, for the most part, simply use it as a guide for me to know when she needs to rest.

    Sometimes I stress about the fact that she isn't around other kids 'enough' or that I don't plan 'enough' NEW experiences for her each week. But what is 'enough' of these things, and how much am I underestimating the importance of the 'new' things she discovers on her own some days (like stacking full pop cans at the table tonight as Ben and I ate, she wasn't very hungry so she played and seemed to feel very pleased with her new skill). And even though she isn't around a lot of other children, she is around our friends A LOT, so she is 'being socialized' (I hate that expression, I just didn't know what else to write). It helps that Ben doesn't think I need to worry about these things.

    Amanda, I can say I definitely know how you feel, but I'm sure what you are feeling today is definitely amplified by this seminar you went to and, hopefully, once you have some time to reflect (sorry, that sounds kind of condescending, I don't mean it to be), read people's responses, listen to Ian, and consider how well G is doing, you'll feel more confident as a mother.

    From what I read on Facebook (this is the first blog entry of yours I've read) and the few Fb interactions we've had, I think we probably have fairly similar parenting philosophies. I think the biggest problem with what you heard today about routines is that it 'dooms' all parents out there who aren't 'type A, totally organized, have a time and place for everything' kind of people (which I am definitely NOT) into feeling like they can't parent 'properly'. Oooo, that makes me so mad! How ridiculous is that!! I think how we parent reflects who we are as people and the types of kids we have. If G is growing, developing, and enjoying his life, then, if I were you, I'd continue doing what works for him.

    It might happen that, if you were to have another child, he or she MIGHT need more structure than G does to thrive, which MIGHT mean that parenting that child might need a different approach and, as a result, you may feel like it takes more effort on your part to parent him or her. Of course, if that isn't the case right now with G (which it doesn't sound like), then don't worry about crossing that bridge until you get to it!

  3. Thanks Heather and Joy. Other than leaving me doubting myself the lecture was pretty great. The speaker gave some real jumping off points for parents to develop a discipline style that really works.

    I guess my main concern was not having anything specific scheduled and things change moment to moment.

    Gaius sort of sets the pace and like Joy's little one goes to sleep wherever he happens to be when he is tired. Sometimes I have a big day planned and all G wants to do is read, nurse and play so if what we are doing is able to wait we do it later.

    Thanks for your insight ladies.

  4. Remember, Gaius has a lot of the Ian personality, so he doesn't seem to be harmed by the lack of "routine". Think he has any concept of time anyway, or whether he's late for his 9:00 class? :) You're miles ahead of me by actually getting out of the house in the morning to begin with. You'll have to get me moving when you guys get here. You're doing really well with the "daily traditions". I've been pretty lax in a lot of ways, and have to struggle to "enforce" consistencies some of the time, because it doesn't bother me so much, but Marc maybe more so, and Galen probably needs it. Take all advice like a grain of salt.