When my husband and I decided to become parents we had several discussions about the kind of parents we would become. You know, would we be the cool, laid back parents, the super strict parents, the uptight parents – you get the drill. While we didn’t totally decide on what route we would go, we did decide that we wanted to try and make parenting in general as stress-free as possible.
What does this mean exactly? It means we have enough stress from outside sources: Work, family, bills, etc. and we didn’t want to make things even harder with a baby, or two. So we both went into it with a laissez-faire attitude.
I am a huge nutrition freak. We eat 90% plant based meals, and the other 10%, well, we live in Texas so barbecue – obviously. I’d love it if my 2-yea- old daughter was as good of an eater as we are, but she’s not, and I don’t stress about it. The girl loves her chicken nuggets with a side of ketchup, can’t say I blame her. I sneak in the veggies when I can, but don’t let it weigh on me if she hasn’t seen a green in a few days.
Screen time? Sure, I don’t love that she has a major crush on her iPad and requests it first thing in the morning, but I also can’t spend time obsessing over how to limit screen time to 30 minutes, or whatever time limit seems “appropriate.” I don’t stress about what’s in the diaper bag, what toys we are bringing where and if we practiced the alphabet and her numbers for the day.
What I do know is I am getting in what I can, when I can and that works best for all of us. As parents we are cool and calm and guess what, our child has always been calm and cool. From day one, cool as a freaking cucumber. She is well-behaved, well -poken, has great manners and is rarely ever sick.
I feel I’ve done my job of explaining the kind of parent I am but we haven’t chatted bedtimes, yet. The one and only thing I am not chill about and never was, is bedtime and naps. I was and still am like a drill sergeant when it comes to those naps and bedtime. Part of this is selfish – I thoroughly enjoy my time when baby sleeps – but the other part is that naps and bedtime create a routine for children.
Children function a hell of a lot better with a good night of sleep rather than a crappy one. And if you miss that window of opportunity to put your child down when they are actually tired and move into the over-tired phase it is ‘I’d rather see the dentist for a root canal’ painful.
Our daughter has always had an early bedtime. The girl loves her sleep, something else I can’t blame her for. So we learned to follow her cues. Up until about 6 months ago, her bedtime was 6:00/6:30. When we had extended family events in the evenings (holidays, birthdays, etc.) I’d get constantly harassed to just let her stay up this one time for the sake of family time. But pushing those limits hurts her and hurts us as a small family unit. She doesn’t do well when thrown off schedule, and to be honest I don’t think a lot of kids do. So we missed a lot of evening events and still do.
The summer months are tough as we are in pajamas and reading books by 6:40 PM, a time when the sun is still a-blazin’ and most kids are still running wild. Our friends once expressed how much it must suck for us having her in bed so early. But it doesn’t, at all. We have learned to utilize babysitters when we want to go out and adult past 7:00 PM. Although we are in the midst of toddler whines, we overall have a very happy-go-lucky child and attribute a lot of that to her bed time.