An Unofficial Guide to Parenting
This is not a blog about tips on parenting. I am in no way a self proclaimed expert on parenting, nor do I have any professional training. In fact, I am the exact opposite. I am a parent who on most days, is barely scraping by. I am a mom who has such low moments, I wonder how I ever thought it was a good idea for anyone to let me be a mom, hell, I still need my own mom sometimes.
I did a bit of research prior to writing this blog and I asked a sample of women who have all had school aged children at different times throughout the last 30 years because I wondered, have we had the same challenges throughout time? Have things changed? Have they gotten better? Have they gotten worse?
Unfortunately for me, and my contemporaries, the launch of the world's first iPad coincided with our kids at prime time to be introduced to this new magic screen. I literally remember standing in line with my friend Robyn and her daughter who was under 1 year in her stroller, my son a year older was at daycare. Anticipating our first generation ipad purchase. Boy do I wish every day that this tech came with major warnings. Like cigarette style warnings. Would that have deterred me? I can’t say, I mean, I have tried smoking. But we were so misinformed.
The ipad was genius. It was awesome. It had apps that could “teach” our children. They could point to numbers, and colors and letters. We all of a sudden had this newfound freedom. Twenty minutes here to make dinner, a few minutes to pop in to a peaceful shower, a civilized dinner in a restaurant with friends and their kids now became the norm because the kids stayed occupied with their ipads. What on earth did we get ourselves in to?
I have many challenges with my own kids. Sibling rivalry is a big one for me. Constantly worrying that my boys won’t ever get along, let alone be friends and have a peaceful relationship. Managing screen time also tops the list. I am a constant police officer making schedules, checking times, making sure that their screen time is not taking away from important life events like fresh air, playing with other kids, homework and learning how to be bored. Every day is a challenge to teach them important lessons of life, to be polite, to be kind, to have appropriate table manners. The list goes on.
So I took a sample and asked some friends and family, some with kids the same age as mine, some whose kids grew up in the 70s, 80s or 90s. What are or were your biggest challenges when your children were school aged. A lot of the answers were similar, especially from the working moms; the end of day crunch and how to spend quality time with your kids, make sure their homework is done and prepare a healthy dinner all in a period of two or three hours. It’s a challenge. Homework itself was a big theme across the board, through the ages I would say. Managing screen time and the concerns of the effects of Social Media as our Gen Z or “iGen” kids become more independent. Mothers of the Gen X kids also worried about homework and sibling rivalry as well but also worried about how to fairly advocate for their kids and concern for their futures. Will they grow up and find stable jobs and become financially secure.
Let me be clear, this was an unofficial poll but you get the idea. As the decades move forward, parents will always have the usual challenges while raising children but different circumstances will always have different outcomes. What will technology bring to our children’s children? How will our kids thrive in a society that seems to be getting more and more difficult to succeed in financially? I don’t have the answers, of course, I’m just asking the questions. What I am saying however, is that nobody is alone. Sometimes I feel that I am the only one going through a certain tough period because Facebook tells me that everyone else’s kids love each other and get along and their family moments are perfect. Herein lies another problem. I am a well educated woman, shouldn’t I know better than to believe Social Media.
June was insane and I was burning out. The end of school brings the end of everyone’s activities. Sports, recitals, final tests, birthday parties (lots of June babies in my circle) and of course the race to get the kids ready for Sleepaway Camp. Which brings me to the point of this article. I originally set out to write more about the challenges of parenting from yesterday and today, but as you can see above, nobody is reinventing the wheel. Our challenges will always be there and thankfully, we have many more experts than ever before to help guide us through the difficulties. Blogs, talks, mom groups, websites, books, it’s all there for the taking.
What I do want to tell you though, is what happens when, for the first time, both of your kids go to camp and you and your husband are as free as Newlyweds. For the first 60 hours of our newfound freedom we did so much but with so little stress it was kind of shocking.
We said goodbye to the kids at the buses and I heard my mother’s voice in my head again telling me the story of how she waved goodbye to the three of us and while the other mothers around her were crying, she took off her watch and did a happy dance. Yes, I felt a pang when I hugged my little one who was begging to get on that bus already, but I can’t lie when I tell you that we got in the car and I blasted George Michael’s “Freedom 90”. We took off to the Laurentians and spent a glorious super hot summer day on the lake with our cousins including lunch on a motor boat complete with champagne. Next up, adults only party with some of our closest friends at their country home complete with fireworks, lots of food and of course Tequila. Topping it off with a stay over at a “lovely” hotel with friends and a day at our pool with yes, more champagne. And while I know that may not sound as exotic as hopping on a flight to Italy and cruising the Amalfi coast or exploring the Greek Islands (as per people I know on Facebook), it was just right. 60 hours of pure fun with good friends and good laughs.
As I finished writing this, I was 4 sleeps out from my younger son coming home from his first two weeks at starter camp and I had yet to hit up a grocery store or organize a nook and cranny of my house. It was super free and beyond relaxing. We are fortunate that we are able to send our kids to Summer Camp. Our kids are privileged that they get to have these incredible experiences that we were both able to have when we were kids. But there are no words for the gift of this break.
Parenting is hard. We ask ourselves often, how can I cope, will I ever get through this, what am I even doing? But we all have our challenges, some more than others. Personally, I have a big challenge in one area that we are constantly working on and I hope to one day write about and say, it was hard, and with each year, it was more difficult but we persevered and we got through. But we are still working at it, and I know, I’m not alone.
Respite can come in many different ways, and I count my blessings that I was able to take advantage of what I got this summer because as the days get shorter, and the start of school approaches, I knew I needed to recharge and ready myself for the year ahead.
Everyone is back in the nest now. We made some important decisions to eliminate a certain video game called Fortnite from our home. I was tired of policing. We are also going to implement much stricter screen rules this year, including TV Time. It bothers me that one of my main jobs to is to deal with screen time. But again, I run my business from my phone and I am not innocent either. I use my ipad to search for recipes or some online shopping. We can’t escape it. But I’m an adult and I know how to remain social and manage my screen time. I also love to read and spend alot of time folding laundry (not by choice!) My kids will learn this year, how to be bored, and how to exist in a world with less screen time. If it’s the last thing I do, I vow to teach my kids how to be bored. Also, I just submitted their registration for summer camp 2019. The countdown is on.