Category Archives: Parenthood

Celebrations: A special occasion your way

How do you celebrate your special occasions? In a way how you do it – is it your own choice or just a habit passed through the generations or pushed by the people around you? In this post I would like to share my attitude towards celebrations: birthdays, weddings and any other events – how do I like it and how do I do it.

To begin with, Continue reading Celebrations: A special occasion your way

Little Pinocchios: Is it possible to spot a lying toddler?

One day our 3.5-year-old daughter came from school with rings on her fingers. These cheap couple of cents ones, but that’s not the point. She told us that these were her rings, totally believing this herself. When we started the “interrogation”, she reluctantly revealed that her friend gave them to her because she didn’t want them anymore.

The other day there was Continue reading Little Pinocchios: Is it possible to spot a lying toddler?

Balancing act: Choosing extracurricular activities for kids – Part 1

Already for a while I am pondering about extracurricular activities for our kids. When I was a kid myself I did a whole bunch of stuff – gymnastics, figure skating, languages (English, French, Spanish, Modern Greek), self-defense (street fight), aikido, theater, modern dance, salsa and some others. I was a busy kid. However, I also studied in a different system. During my school years we had much more time for extracurricular activities (further – ECA) with lessons starting at 8 o’clock in the morning and frequently ending shortly after noon. On the contrary, the schooling system in Belgium is different than that in Latvia. Our kids will study longer hours and basically will only have time on Wednesday afternoons or on Saturdays to do something else. Additional issue here is that every kid in Belgium has, for instance, Wednesday afternoons off, meaning that there are a lot of different ECA organized at the same time slot. All this calls for a fairly selective approach – you simply cannot have it all!

The subject of ECA in general has two main aspects: Continue reading Balancing act: Choosing extracurricular activities for kids – Part 1

Parents online: What are we searching for?

I have recently read an interesting research article on “Think with Google” about parenting searches, namely about what parents tend to search for when they go online. It made me think about my own Internet browsing behavior. However, before I elaborate on that, first a couple of words about that research article.

There are several interesting findings:

First, new parents in their Internet search seem to show a curious pattern: when they search for “pregnant” they are simultaneously also searching for “school” and even for “college“. This and some other analytical insights lead researchers to conclusion that during pregnancy future parents seem to have a very long-term orientation, trying to plan and think through way ahead. A funny shift occurs when the baby is there, as analysis reveals that together with the search for “newborn” people tend to search for more immediate needs like “diapers” or “feeding” and so on. Thus, it seems that once the baby is actually born the focus of parents evolves from long-term to short-term. Truth be said that once the baby becomes a toddler, searches for “school” and “college” are once again spiking.

Second, the only thing constant across parenting searches at all times is “health“. But here are some nuances as well, as expecting and new parents tend to be more concerned with the “weight” of their precious bean; once it becomes a toddler “fever” gets on top of the search list.

I guess that it also matters if this is your first child or not. It is actually funny to remember this stuff! When I was still pregnant with our first kid I was very much interested in questions like: “How do you know that you are in labor?“. The answer “you will know!” seemed to be so far from satisfactory that I kept on digging. My next hit with the first child was all the “how to’s“: how to swaddle, how to put a kid in a sling, how to massage, how to teach to roll… I became a real storehouse of information! The first child, you know (smiling). When I was expecting our second I was very much into searching for different articles in the field of psychology about how to ensure that there is no jealousy between kids, how to find a balance between the needs of an infant and those of a toddler.

With both kids being toddlers and happily co-existing my current kid-related Internet searches are mostly in the following categories:

  1. education (raising bilingual/ multilingual kids; how to teach life skills to kids; what are the tendencies in education in general; homeschooling or not; new approaches in teaching and so on)
  2. entertainment / development (what is out there for kids: museums, exhibitions, events, extracurricular activities; here also – on psychology: how to choose extracurricular activities for your child)
  3. DIY with kids (interesting experiments; interesting crafts)

I must admit that “clothes” and “toys” which are categories also seemingly often searched for by parents are not really on my priority list. For me there is no need to especially look for that as some of my friends are very much into searching and trying new clothes’ brands and new toys that I am convinced I will receive the information without actively searching for it!

Even though the article that triggered me to write this post talked only about kid-related searches, I believe that when talking about “Parents online” it is unfair to exclude other interests that parents might be searching for when they browse the Web. Here I am not talking about specific hobbies or interests of a specific parent, but mostly about issues pertaining to being a parent.

In this context what I personally was very interested in was:

  • how to “restore” yourself after giving birth – both physically and mentally;
  • how to spot the first signs of a postpartum depression and what to do to avoid it;
  • how to ensure a good balance of interests for everyone in the family after “adding a new member”;
  • how to find and secure “me-time”.

So mostly all the psychological issues related to becoming a mother.

It might be tempting to go to mothers’ forums or discussion groups for advice, but what is very important here is that not all “mum groups” are friendly places. And what you definitely don’t need as a new parent is to have a heated unnecessary discussion and leave it with no real useful information. Thus, even though it is very interesting to hear personal experiences of other people who have been in a similar situation, my first resort is still psychological articles on reputed sources, then some personal blogs sharing experiences and only as a last point – some very selected forums and discussion groups.

And what about you: as a parent what are you searching for when you go online?

Motherhood: What has actually changed?

Of course you change when you become a mother. That’s a given. It is a major happening in life and it undoubtedly splits life in “before I had kids” and “now that I have kids”. However, sometimes when I am reading comments people make attributing the ground-breaking changes in their lives (and mostly negative ones) to the fact that they became parents, I cannot help but wonder if kids are really the cause? In my opinion kids can be the trigger and likewise and more often can serve as an excuse, yet the cause of a change is not them as such. It is once again all about choices.

What has changed so drastically for me since I have become a mother? I tried to reflect on that:

  • sleep – oh yes, sleep… That’s the first thing that comes to mind. After you have kids there will be no more lazily waking up closer to noon, that’s true. Even if you were a good girl and the Universe blessed you with a good sleeper, still there will be “all-nighters” from time to time, there will be jumping up to check if your kid is breathing normally, there will be night feeds… And I am not even mentioning what’s awaiting you if you have been a bad girl! Well, it is indeed hard, but it is manageable. There are different solutions: the Sleep Lady approach, co-sleeping, shaking on a gym-ball, even the infamous cry-it-out (which I personally find unacceptable, but that’s my personal opinion) – try what works for you, or just wait for a while, it will not last forever!
  • me-time – if before kids all time was me-time now it has significantly shrunk, but I must admit that I don’t have the feeling that it’s that bad in my case. I always have at least some time for myself. I could do with more of course…
  • freedom to do what I want and go where I want – well, freedom is overrated and it is not only motherhood that sets the limits. I do feel certain limitations now, however it is just a matter of organizing for it. Before it was of course easier but also now if I really want it, I will find a way to get it. Otherwise, it is just that I don’t want it hard enough.
  • body – I do have some stretch marks despite fanatically smearing myself with anti-stretch mark creams during my first pregnancy, but hey – I am a tiger who earned her stripes! Actually that’s all there is for me. My weight came back to the same spot as when I was 18. I even still fit the pant suit that I wore when I was 18 (It did require some effort, of course.) My breasts saw some damage after two years of breastfeeding, but also nothing major. So overall, I personally haven’t experienced any significant body changes with motherhood.
  • fear – now this is probably one of the most significant changes that motherhood brought for me and it is twofold. On one hand, it is fear for my kids – overwhelming, irrational fear that something might happen to them. You can try to stay rational, you can try to do reasonable things to ensure safety and well-being of your little one, but this fear will still be there. Irrespective. On the other hand, it is fear that something might happen to me and my kids are then left without their mother. I assume the second part is even more relevant if you are a single mom, but it is true also for a mother in a relationship. But is it a negative change after all? I don’t think so. In a lot of cases it pushes you to reconsider your bad habits, to take more care of yourself and to be more attentive to yourself, so at least for me this change is a positive one.

Thus, I have to say that I am happy not to experience any drastic “negative effects” of motherhood on myself. Was it because I was lucky, or because I knew upfront what are my values, boundaries and expectations from the whole “experience” and was acting accordingly? I don’t know (smile), but I do believe all of the above had its influence.

Before I conclude, if I talk about changes motherhood brings, I cannot forget to mention the two most important positive ones which are:

  • understanding my own mother – after I became a mother myself I started understanding my own mother much better. There is a lot to comment here actually… but in the essence: Oh God, how did she cope with me?!!
  • Love with a capital “L” – and this is the most-most significant one! You love your parents, you love your husband or wife, you might have experienced “all sorts of love” before, but nothing compares to love you feel for your little ones! When these little arms are around your neck and you feel their warmth and that insane smell that only mothers know – the smell of your child’s sweet little head – that’s one (just one of so many!) of these moments when you feel a completely different “shade of love”. And despite the fact that kids drive me crazy on a regular basis, they also totally steal my heart with millions of sweet things.

So yes, there are always changes. For some people these changes might be more significant than for others, however in my opinion it is to a large extent a matter of choice and undoubtedly a matter of finding a right balance; the balance that works best for you and your family.

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