As the days of my pregnancy come down to the last few (or maybe few hours… I can only hope!) I spent some time today thinking about the values I want to raise my child with and the experiences I want her to have. Obviously I know every [good] parent wants the world for their child, but I have spent a lot of time watching my mommy friends and there are certain things that are extremely important to me.
I know that every mom has different views and opinions and values — these are mine and are not meant to put someone else’s ways down, they are just things I have learned from my own childhood and from watching what does and doesn’t work for friends.
#1 There is life beyond the baby (seems kind of obvious I know)
I think this is something that many new moms fall into and I have watched so many of my friends go this route. Once their new little bundle of joy gets here, that’s all they can talk about. They lose their passion for their jobs, their friends and the things they once enjoyed doing once the baby is here. I call them the “facebook mommies.” I know you have these friends too… the ones who cannot post one single status update that does not revolve around what their kid did, said or wore today. In addition, no one wants to see the gross pictures of your child spitting out their first helping of peas. Take the picture and put it in their baby book… not on facebook! Having a bab!y is so exciting and I know everyone wants to send out into cyberspace how happy they are, but there is so much more to life than just your kid. (And yes, I’m allowed to say this as I’m going to be a mom any day now).
#2 Life Experience is more important than ANYTHING else
I was lucky as an only child and had experiences that many other children didn’t get. We went to the beach for weeks every summer and I was allowed to participate in any activity I wanted to, no questions asked. If there was something going on in the community, I was most likely there. And if my mom happened to not know about it before hand, she would find a way to make it work. Watching a nice documentary or reading a book is not the same as experiencing something in person. I know not everyone had the luxury, but there are plenty of life experiences and things to do around your own town that don’t cost any money and still have the same effect!
#3 Discipline is key
I have watched far too many moms not discipline their children and the children become little terrors that can’t be taken out in public. No, I don’t mean beating your children and yes I understand that all children act out sometimes, but there are children who don’t listen and talk back and are only handed empty threats of punishment. My mom beat me with whatever she could get ahold of… shoes, spoons, brushes… you name it! I don’t plan on doing that, but something that she did all the time that almost worked was grounding. I was grounded more times than I can tell you and although you can’t ground a small child, you can put them in time out! I’m also not a believer that you put a four year old in time out for four minutes and they have learned their lesson. I fully plan on disciplining four year old Lily by sticking her in time out for four minutes and making sure there is no TV, barbies (whatever the “hot item” is at the time) for the rest of the day. That way, she will learn that she can’t have moments like that or things will happen. I also think it’s important to discuss WHY she is being punished and not just punishing and make her follow up with an apology.
#4 TV time is special
As a child, I was not put in front of the TV for hours. Instead I was played with and given ample amounts of toys. Because of this, I to this day am not a big TV watcher. In fact, this is probably the most TV I have ever watched in my life and it is primarily because I am home all day with nothing to do. There were certain educational shows (Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers and we did subscribe to the Disney Channel) that I was allowed to watch, but the TV was never my babysitter. I truly believe this is why I don’t enjoy too much reality TV or soap operas and instead would rather watch a documentary or a show about disasters and why they happened. I watch these kids shows and I don’t really get the educational value. If you need TV to teach your child to count, then you probably shouldn’t have had a child to begin with. Step up and teach your child yourself!!
#5 There is no better thing you can do than to read
I was read to since the minute I was born. My mom took me to the library weekly and would let me pick out five books (the max you could borrow at a time) and we would read them and discuss a new one every night. I loved this time and because of this, I loved to read. As I got older, I was the child at the book fairs whose mom spent hundreds of dollars on books because she knew they would get read. And they did. I was NEVER told I wasn’t allowed to have a book. Because of this, I am still an avid reader today and I promise that Lily will be too! I love getting lost in a good book and using my imagination. In fact, I seldom see or like movies that were once books because the way I imagined it as I read it is usually far more interesting! I also believe that I like to write because of my love of reading. The love of writing is something my husband and I share, so I have every reason to believe Lily will have this love also! At least we will try! Reading to a child is the absolute best thing you can do… and there are no excuses because libraries are free! I also believe that reading is something that should never be taken away, even in punishment. If I am sending Lily to her room for the afternoon because she was bad, I will make sure she doesn’t have TV or toys to play with, but if she wants to take a book with her… by all means! Take three!!!
I am not claiming that I am going to be the perfect mother, these are just some things that I have seen that I would really like to have happen in our home!!