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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Parenting Priorities

If life were perfect then I'd wake up flawlessly beautiful, be fully dressed and look amazing before the kids even opened their eyes. I'd have a flawlessly clean house to match my flawlessly beautiful self. I'd cook my family three perfectly healthy meals a day. My children would follow flawlessly perfect schedules and have flawless behavior. I would teach my children everything they'd need to know for life. I'd have tons of awesome crafts and fun things planned filling every second of our day. I'd sew them adorable outfits and make the majority of the decorations around our home. Our family would travel on many wonderfully flawless vacations to beautiful places. My husband and I would have a flawless marriage. We'd never sin or fall short in any area of God's will for us. We'd always spend smart. We'd always enjoy each moment and never take each other or our children for granted. My other relationships would also be flawless. I'd be the ideal friend, always there when I'm needed without being asked. I'd have a perfectly flawless day every day and get 8+ flawless hours of sleep every night.

Life isn't perfect.

It's also not physically possible to obtain perfection. We're not meant to be perfect. We never will be.


When I was in high school I went to therapy. Judge if you wish but I'm thankful for it! During that time I got to know myself very well (sort of the point of therapy right?). I learned that I have (shocker) high anxiety and that I struggle with over filling my plate. When things get to be too much, I break down as I don't handle stress well. It was then that I knew I needed to be a stay at home mom. I know MANY women can handle the pressures of being a wife, a mother, and working outside of the home. But I know MYSELF and for my own sanity as well as for the happiness of my family, I knew I wouldn't be able to juggle both. Thank the Lord I found a man who wanted a wife to stay at home and has been willing to do whatever it takes to make that goal a reality. No joke, our bond and relationship truly developed from this one common goal!!!

Even though I'm a stay at home mom, I STILL have to decide what things can fit on my "plate." Many people assume stay at home moms have TONS of free time and may even get bored. Um, not me. I promise you I still can't come close to doing it all. Know why I don't have a million things pinned on my Pinterest boards? Because I KNOW I'll never do them! Know why my son started 1/2 day 3 day a week preschool at 2 1/2 years old? Because I KNOW I'm not the best at teaching stuff at home. It's not my talent.

As a parent I have had to make priorities. I have to pick and choose what things are most important to me for my children to experience. We all may not agree on those priorities. We all have to choose them for ourselves. Priorities are an extremely personal thing and we shouldn't judge each other based off of what other people may consider important and how that differs from what we consider important.

I had someone tell a story in front of a group of people and stop, mid-story, and say "Emily you're going to judge me for this." I wanted to pull a Zach Morris "timeout!" I may have different opinions than other moms. I may do things differently. I try, very hard, to point out on my blog the reasons WHY I do the things I do the way I do them. And I also try, very hard, not to point a finger at anyone who may not agree with what I do or how I do it. Like I said, everyone has their own priorities. I felt offended that someone would even think I'd be judging them. You may formula feed, sleep with your kid every night, never spank, hate scheduling, etc etc etc. It's YOUR child. It's about YOUR priorities. It's okay that mine are different. It doesn't make mine right or yours wrong or yours right or mine wrong. It's just different. And as long as your child isn't directly affecting me or my children in some way (like your kid's not at my house breaking stuff or teaching my kids to cuss or something) then why would any of your parenting decisions really affect me???

A lot of my blog covers the things that are important to me. It typically covers the items at the top of my parenting priority list. Such as: putting God first, having a healthy marriage, protecting my children and keeping them safe, raising independent children, breastfeeding, travel, giving my children as many fun experiences as possible, creating in them a love for learning and reading, raising them to have manners, be hard working, know life skills, have solid sleep schedules,  be disciplined (using spankings when needed), have social skills, etc.

Some things that are SUPER important to other people aren't as important to me. For example, I don't really care about how "school smart" my kids are. Neither does Zach. Don't get me wrong, I want them to be smart, but I grew up very "school smart." I ALWAYS made good grades. School stuff always came naturally to me and I enjoyed learning. I was "gifted" and while that's all fine and good...what did any of it get me?!?! I personally hope my children aren't gifted. It has made my life difficult as I think differently than other people and often have a difficult time relating to them and can feel isolated because other people may not understand my thought processes. I also can't STAND the term "gifted" and it annoys me to death when parents with young children say they are "gifted." By the time they start kindergarten majority of kids are at the same level anyway, ya know? 

Yes, I read to my children. Yes, we talk about things CONSTANTLY. But I just don't believe in trying to push academics on them. They will be expected to do their personal best in school, but both Zach and I think being "socially smart" is WAY more valuable. I strive for my children to do well in social settings. Be able to talk to people. Have a personality. Relate to others. Show compassion. Empathize. Use nice manners. Be able to reason. Carry a conversation well. Listen when others speak. All of those things, in my opinion, are more valuable than being able to solve an algebra equation. I don't think my college diploma would help me get a job (if needed) as much as my personality would. Zach doesn't do well in his job because of his degree or educational background (although he is actually pretty dang school smart himself...especially for a jock haha), he does well because he can relate to people. The first rule in sales is to sell yourself right? ;)

Another area that I don't do as well as I "should" is with healthy eating. It's just not high up on my parenting priority list. I'd LOVE for my children to eat all organic foods. But we simply can't afford that. I would love for my children to be super healthy eaters. But Zach and I aren't that healthy. In most areas of my parenting I strive to be the BEST possible parent I CAN BE in that area. I read bible stories, say prayers constantly, talk about Jesus in every opportunity with my kids. I know I'm striving to be my BEST in raising my children in a Christian home. I watch the clock, look for signs of sleepiness, revolve my days around their schedules. I KNOW I'm doing my personal best at allowing my children to get the sleep they need. I fight through breastfeeding issues. I deal with pumping on trips. I never give up even when it's tough. I'm confident that I'm doing my best with breastfeeding. All of those items are top priority things...healthy eating just isn't at the top.

Healthy eating is for sure not as low on my priority list as some things (It's higher than using organic cleaning products and making sure my kids aren't exposed to those chemicals. It's also higher than my house being perfectly spotless all the time!) but it's not as high as others. Growing up, I spent most of my life in a single parent home. I know what it was like for my Mom. When Zach travels there is NO WAY I'm cooking some big full meal for just me and the kids! Heck no! I was a picky eater growing up and my mom will be the first to tell you that she regrets that. I wanted to learn from her in this area and, hopefully, create better eaters in my children. This is an area where Zach and I are better than majority of people (did you know the #1 vegetable children under the age of 5 eat is FRENCH FRIES?!?!) but we aren't as great as we COULD be. And sometimes I feel guilty over that. It bothers me that we have to TELL Kye to eat his vegetables. That he doesn't just eat them on his own. But then I have to remember at least he eats every single fruit possible and asks for more. Zach only likes apples. And that's only if they have peanut butter on them. And I only really like strawberries. And that's only when they are in a dessert. So our child is doing better than we are...maybe the healthy eating will get even better for Kye's kids right? I know that eating as healthy as possible isn't at the top of my personal parenting priority list so I try not to beat myself up over it.

Some of you may read some of my posts and beat yourself up over something I do that you don't do. Well I read my friends blogs with all their healthy eating and I beat myself up thinking that I don't give my children the BEST possible nutrition! Like I said, we all fall short of "perfection" or at least what we view as perfection. It's okay. We all have our priorities and we work our best to achieve the things that are most important to US. When I visited with one of my healthy eating friends, Danielle, I was actually nervous that she would judge me for my less than perfectly healthy eating ways. Of course she didn't judge me!!! She's one of my closest friends and how silly of me to think that she would?!?! She, like me, understands that we just have different priorities and that it's okay to be different. It doesn't make her way the best or my way wrong :)

I'm writing this post because I am preparing to blog about Brittlynn's introduction to solid foods. Now that I have a second child I have become SO thankful that Zach and I knew our parenting priorities prior to having Kye. If you don't have a second child yet then you'll someday realize...with kid #2 you're like running on autopilot. I don't have time or energy to be reading 1,000 parenting books or learning how to do something new. I have done with Brittlynn pretty much exactly the same things I did with Kye and pretty much exactly the same way I did them. Thankfully, Zach and I look at Kye and love the results we see from what we did with him from birth. We think we did a pretty good job, so far, in parenting and in achieving the things we want to achieve as parents in relation to our priorities. So we have nothing major to change!

I am a strong believer in parenting with a purpose. If you don't have goals then you're just kinda wandering aimlessly, ya know? I try very hard to do things intentionally and to put a lot of thought into the choices I make in relation to my children. I stay at home with them all day so I look at parenting as my full time job. It's my 9-5 so I want to be the best I can be at it. I don't have any excuse not to right? When Zach works at his job he wants to be the BEST at Aflac. He wants to win every award and always be #1. There's no "Best Mom" title or some awesome prizes. But I take it just as seriously. I want to be my personal definition of what a "best mom" would be. I know my "prize" will be taking my last breaths on this earth knowing I did everything in my power to give my children the best possible life. That I'll be heading to an eternal home in Heaven and that they'll be there to meet me someday :)

If you've never thought about your parenting priorities, I urge you to do so. Maybe even write them down. For me, it helps me keep things in perspective. If helps me not to feel overwhelmed with trying to be perfect. It helps remind me that I can let things fall to the bottom and it's okay. I can't do it all. I don't want to do it all! Life is meant to be lived too. It's meant to be enjoyed and we can't possibly fully enjoy it if we're always worried with what we need to "do" or comparing ourselves to what others are doing.

If you have ever felt like I'm judging you or putting down your parenting style, I truly apologize and I honestly do not judge. I truly believe what I'm saying about priorities and finding a balance and I know we all have different paths in life that we're on! I appreciate learning from other people's perspectives  and enjoy seeing how people do things differently from the way I do them. I learn a LOT from other moms and I hope I help others along their path as well.

13 comments:

  1. Love this post! One of the many reasons I love you :)

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  2. I love, love, love everything about this post!! It almost seems CRAZY that we have to point this out, explain WHY we have our priorities the way we do, or even "justify" them to others, but you're exactly right....

    It is 100% OKAY that we all have different priorities in LIFE and in PARENTING.  It's up to parents to decide what they feel is best for their children. It is NOT okay to judge others who have different priorities, and you don't. Not at all, so when they feel that way, I think it's a feeling of inferiority that makes them assume you are. Priorities are very personal. That's why it's SO IMPORTANT to focus on your own family and not compare yourself with others, like you said.

    Some of my favorite people have totally different views and priorities than me, but 100% accept me for mine and don't compare of judge. I have learned to really appreciate that quality in others.

    Also, it's really interesting how many of these we agree on....

    Another area we are alike is overfilling our plate. That was a REALLY good reminder for me while you were here and how you worded it made it click. I'm a perfectionist like you are, and when I overfill, I end up putting way too much pressure on myself. I need to start practicing not overfilling because I know I CAN'T let that happen when babies come.

    By the way, this was sorta a "bold" post for you- don't you feel like?? ;) LOVE it!! Good for you!!!

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  3. I know you wrote that you did this post because of the upcoming post for Brittlynns eating.  I just want you to know that "judging" is a sin.  If you really are doing something wrong and someone judges you then they are in the wrong as well.  So don't sweat it.  I can say I gave my oldest son cereal in his bottle at 2 months, because I heard it would help him sleep through the night.  I then gave him cereal in a bowl at 4 months along with vegies and fruits at 4 months old.  I was a single mom, no internet access to read and get information.  I married my husband when my oldest was 2.  We now have a son together.  He was game for what ever I wanted to do.  I really wanted to breast feed.  My youngest who is now 4 years old.  I breast feed him for 14 months.    My husband was on the same page with me only because he knew I wanted to do it.  I remember trying so hard to nurse and having a hard time getting him to latch on.  My husband came in the living room that night at 3 am.  He was ready to go to walmart and buy me a breast pump.  He could have easily asked what kind of formula he needed to go buy, but since we were on the same page with things and he wanted me happy he wanted to help me.  He was new to all the infant stuff so he had no clue what to do.  BUT we were on the same page.  He didn't have a bite of food till he was 9 months old and that was cereal and my other son was 2 months with a bottle and 4 months with just the bowl.  I think you are doing a great job and I love reading your blog.  If someone judges you through an email or comment just delete it!  God gave you Kye and Britt.  You take care of them how ya'll see fit and don't listen to anyone else!

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  4. I think this is an awesome post and something that we all needed to be reminded of from time to time. It is VERY easy to get caught up in both sides of this: both worrying about what others will think of us AND judging others who do things differently than us. Matt and I actually had almost this exact same conversation last night. I was upset about my day and how I felt like if I were just a better mom, Cooper would already be on a schedule and I wouldn't have any issues. Everything would ju already be "perfect". He had to remind me that it doesn't matter what anyone would do with their 3 week old - that I was doing my best (and the best for Cooper!) and that's all that mattered! Thanks for this reminder! We need to lift our friends up and support them - no matter if they do things the same or differen from us!

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  5. so true my friend!

    side note: it's funny that you say with the 2nd kid you are on auto-pilot,,,b/c with the 4th we feel like this funny comedian once said, "It's like you have 3 kids and you feel like you are drowning, just trying to make a float, then BAM someone comes along to help and says here, have a baby!" so funny!!!

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  6. great post, friend!! i'm the same way on pinterest! i don't even bother - i know those are cool things i'll never do -- why add on to my forever long list? great post!

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  7. No a person to pass judgment either. Of course, I have made calls when babies are riding without a seatbelt in the front seat..,but not from judgment but for safety! As a mom, I'm less confident in myself than before kids because so much judgment is around me. But I love and care for my babies with all of my heart and with their best intentions always first. Hmm, I dislike the word "gifted" too. Thankful that I'm not the only one. It's huge once the kids start school. I want my children to grow up being happy, confident, Christ-loving, caring people. Some days they eat healthy, some days there's too much sugar. Now, I'm particular in cleaning supplies due to health issues...but once I made the transition it was easy for us and cheaper than the co-pays...but it doesn't insure my house is always lean. Ha ha. Lovin' on my kids too much to clean especially during the summer. Pool time.

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  8. Hi Emily, I've been reading your blog for awhile now and want to tell you how much I enjoy it! I am a new mother to a 6 month old girl. Your family is beautiful and so much of what you have to say is similar to how I feel.  I think, as mothers, we are constantly scrutinizing ourselves and comparing ourselves to other mothers. We're always worried that we should be doing more of this or more of that and beating ourselves up over the things that we didn't get done rather than all the amazing things we did do that day. I work full time and often feel envious of moms who get to stay home. I feel like I should be "there" more but you do what you have to do to get by. It's so easy to feel insecure as a parent and I hate that feeling! In the end we are all just trying to raise happy, healthy children - no matter how we get to that point.

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  9. Emily,
    I don't think I've ever commented on a single one of your blog entries; however, I think I've read them all. Even though Garrett and I do not have kids now, I love reading your blogs and doing my own research now. Through your awesome blogs, Garrett and I have already been discussing important decisions that will affect us now and in the future with kids. After reading this, I just felt like you needed a little more encouragement to "keep on going." I'm so proud of your accomplishments. I've even mentioned your blog to several of my friends who are new moms! You are an encouragement to me as a Christian wife, future mom, and friend!
    -Jena Cranford 

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  10. GREAT post!!! Thank you! 

    Sometimes, I totally regret reading certain blogs because they make me feel SO GUILTY and like a total mommy failure. I always see a ton of things that I could/should be doing but am not, or things that my children could/should know, but don't, etc. I'm working on letting all that go and striving to be the best mom that I can be. 

    This post gave me encouragement to keep pursuing that :-).

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  11. LOVED this!  As a mother to 4, you actually inspire me, and give me ideas about things I don't think of. I love your parenting ideas and skills. And most of them are totally opposite from how I do things. But I dare not judge. You said it perfectly. Everyone is different. Everyone has different priorities! I've often think about how people might judge me and my lifestyle, and then I remember that I truly don't care about how anyone would judge me. How I live works for me and my family! Emily you should totally be a writer. You have such a way with words, and explanations. I vote you write a parenting book. ;)

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  12. this is Megan Robertson btw. Apparently I am not signed it :/ lol

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  13. I couldn't be prouder of the mother you are!  I wish I would have had a friend just like you when I was raising you and Brandon.  You would have taught me so much!  I admire you Emily.

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Thank you for sharing your thoughts! Reading your comments makes my day!



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