“You need to stop using that word,” my husband says whenever I start a sentence with “I should really….” It turns out, he’s right. All of that focus on “should” spikes my anxiety and makes me feel like I’m not enough.
From not worrying so much about my kids’ birthday parties to forgoing a first-day-of-school sign, I’ve been learning to care less and less about what I “should” be doing as a parent. So I wrote about my journey and what’s helped me over at Perfection Pending: Why We Need to Take the Word Should Out of Our Parenting.
Here’s the introduction:
At midnight, the day before my son’s very first day of preschool, I committed a mortal parenting sin. I chose not to make a sign for his first-day-of-school photos. Now, this may seem like a minor offense – at best. After all, I wasn’t sending him to bed without his dinner.
But if you underestimate how momentous this decision was, you clearly missed the barrage of back-to-school Facebook posts by parents of small children. Even among my fairly low-key friends, there was a parade of increasingly elaborate signs, ranging from cute printouts all the way up to actual chalkboards.
But me? I bowed out of all of it.
Read more over at Perfection Pending!
What are your favorite stories from childhood? While I have many beloved fictional stories, I also hold the family stories my parents hold me close to my heart. Now, we share those stories and others with our kids as part of a long tradition.
I wrote about the power of sharing stories over at A Fine Parent with the article “How to Use the Power of Stories to Connect and Teach.”
Gathered around a fire, a mother and child talk in quiet voices.
The flames leap as the mother tells the child stories of ancestors, far-away lands, and fantastic situations. Drowsy, the child falls asleep, her head on her mother’s lap.
This could be a scene from 10,000 years ago or 10 days ago.
Storytelling is a core part of what makes us human.
Read the rest over at A Fine Parent!
I love gardening so much that I nicknamed my kid after a plant. (No, Sprout is not his real name. Yes, I’ve had people ask me that.) So of course, it was natural for me to continue it when I had kids. And like all things that I both like and are good for sustainability, I love to write about it!
So I was thrilled to bits when the Washington Post accepted my piece on the science of why you should garden with your kids. As I researched the article, even I learned a lot about the benefits of getting outside, having a healthy relationship with germs, and eating fruits and vegetables.
Here are the first few paragraphs:
When our cherry tomatoes blush red each summer, my son eagerly plucks them from the vine and pops them in his mouth. He points at random plants and proudly declares, “That one’s mine!” And occasionally, he yells in panic as the hose from the rain barrel overflows his tiny watering can.
Admittedly, gardening with kids isn’t always idyllic.
But even when it’s chaotic, it can be tremendously beneficial.
Read more of How Gardening Can Help Build Happier, Healthier Kids over at the Washington Post’s On Parenting section!
What do peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, surprising canoe trips, and bad decisions have in common? This story, involving one of the adventures Chris and I had in the Adirondacks far before we had kids. Misadventures Magazine was lovely enough to publish An Unexpected Tour of the Adirondacks!
Here’s the first three paragraphs:
A crying girl, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and a supermarket parking lot. Not exactly the elements for an epic summit. But having missed the turn-off for our hike, we were now on the wrong side of Lake George in upstate New York, eating the lunches we were supposed to be having on the peak.
By the way, I was the crying girl.
“This is your fault!” I pouted to my then-boyfriend, Chris, even though I had the map. I curled up in the passenger’s seat of his Civic, my tears falling on my bread. “If you hadn’t been speeding…”
Be sure to read the rest at Misadventures Magazine!
No one wants failure. Most of the time, it kind of sucks. But it is a fact of life. And one that kids need to deal with on a regular basis. They can – and will – learn about it on their own. But they can also learn about it from us as their parents.
I recently wrote about how I’m using my own failures to teach my kids how to deal with theirs at my first post for Her View from Home, Teaching My Kids Grit by Modeling How to Fail Well.
Here’s the first paragraph:
Riding to my first community bike ride of the season, I rejoiced. The blue skies and perfect temperature surely meant plenty of families would show up. But as I waited at the community center with my young son, my hopes faded. A biker riding up the parking lot piqued my attention before I realized it was one of the other volunteers. Not a single family showed up to my family bike ride. Instead, my kid, my two fellow volunteers and I pedaled over to the ice cream shop anyway.
Read the rest at Her View from Home!
It’s spring! Along with a lot of rain and a lot of tourists here in D.C., it’s also gardening season. We’ve sowed seeds, sprouted plants, and had a baby eating mulch. While not exactly always on task, my kids do love the idea of gardening. How do I get them excited about it?
I recently wrote how I’ve involved them over at Happy Science Mom in the post 7 Clever Ways to Get Kids Excited about Gardening.
Here’s the first paragraph of the article:
“Messing around in the dirt is a classic childhood activity. Gardening is just messing around in the dirt with a purpose. Growing fruits and vegetables together can actually be one of the most fun and engaging activities that you do with your kids. In addition to the general benefits of being outside, gardening connects kids with their food, provides them with a sense of accomplishment, and is a great way to teach a variety of important skills. In my own life, I have seen my son get so excited about the cherry tomatoes in our garden that he eats them right off the plants!”
Read the rest over at Happy Science Mom!
Privilege is a word tossed around a lot these days, often in the phrase “Check your…” But even though the words are new, the idea is something I’ve known about for a long time. My mom emphasized how I was lucky to have what I had. Sure, my parents and I worked hard, but what we had wasn’t through hard work alone. I hope to pass that knowledge onto my kids.
Knowing how damn lucky and I my kids are motivates so much of my activism. I got the chance to write about it for Mamalode recently, in a piece called My Privilege Protects Me and My Sons From So Much – This is the Least I Can Do.
Here’s the first two paragraphs:
“President Obama, I know you have two daughters. I know you love them. But I want you to know that I don’t know if I’ll have kids. That’s because I don’t know if they’ll have clean water to drink,” said Eryn Wise, a 26-year-old organizer of the movement against the Dakota Access oil pipeline. As she stared out at the crowd gathered in front of the White House, I gasped just a little. Of course, I know this is a calculation women make every day – whether the world they would bring their child into is good enough. And too often, that answer is no. But to hear a young woman say it in person made me breathe in just a little more sharply.
That’s because it’s a question I’ve never had to face.
Read the rest at Mamalode!
Gardening is all about science, from the life cycle of a plant to the nitrogen cycle of the soil. I combined both of those loves in a guest post for Raising Nerd about using gardening to teach your mini-nerds about science, engineering and math. It’s heavy on the ecology, but touches on a bunch of areas.
Here’s a preview:
Dirt covered the table. Dirt covered my son’s hair. Dirt covered everything. While I wanted to be annoyed, I really wasn’t. It was all in the name of learning – and growing food in our new garden.
While trowels and compost may not seem like obvious tools for teaching science, vegetable gardens can be incredible classrooms. That day, my son was learning about the life cycle of plants while we started tomato seeds.
The best part is that gardening provides the potential for kids of all ages to learn. While my three-year-old is just beginning to learn the basics, even I’ve learned quite a bit in my years of gardening. If you don’t garden yet, consider planting a few flowerpots so you can share the benefits with your kids.
Read the rest at Raising Nerd!
Among the many skills I want to pass on to my kids, getting around on their own power is actually pretty far up there. Biking and walking places provides exercise, helps get kids outside (with all of the associated benefits!), and provides them a level of independence that they won’t be able to get any other way.
That’s why I’m thrilled that I have a guest post up at Parent.co on teaching kids to value bicycling and walking.
Here’s the first two paragraphs:
“In my day, we walked a mile uphill both ways in the snow” is the ultimate cliche for cranky parents to compare themselves to kids these days. But walking and biking have huge benefits beyond the ability to complain later on.
Active transportation establishes lifelong healthy habits for life, builds relationships with neighbors, minimizes greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, and increases kids’ independence. While our society advertises a minivan as the ultimate family vehicle, it is actually possible to shift trips away from the car.
Read the rest at Parent.co!
Nerds unite! At least that’s what the bloggers at Raising Nerd and I did over the past two weeks, exchanging posts on each other’s blogs. In case you missed it, Scott Beller wrote on here about how to get your kids thinking about Santa using terrible movies and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Two weeks ago, I wrote for Raising Nerd about five movies featuring awesome female scientists, from the women of Ghostbusters to Ellie Sattler in Jurassic Park.
Here’s a preview of my post:
From dinosaur bones to aliens, some of the best Nerd inspiration comes from the movies. Unfortunately, female scientists and mathematicians notoriously have been under-represented on the big screen. But with an all-female Nerd team leading the Ghostbusters reboot and the story of forgotten NASA heroines finally being told in Hidden Figures starting December 25, it seems like things just might be changing for the better in Hollywood.
For more, check out the post on Raising Nerd!