Don't judge me

I've been blogging in my head all day today.  For some reason I just had to type out this post....

Every parent is worried that they aren't doing it right.  They seem to feel like other parents get it and they don't.  We look at other people and think they have it together, or they don't.  We think their children are better than our... or worse.  We judge each other, lets admit it.  But, what we need to look at is why we are different.

I know that when I think about the choices we make with our children it is based on three main ideas... are they safe, does it help them become productive adults, and does it keep me sane?  Yes you read that last one correctly.

Let me give you some examples.  I let my children help in the kitchen all the time.  Now I will not let them turn on the stove because they can't safely reach the controls, but I will let them stir pots, flip quesadillas, drop pasta or other things with my supervision.  Both of the boys also know how to use knives, but can only use them at the kitchen table at dinner or with permission on the cutting board.  I've set up parameters to keep them safe, but they are learning self help skills that will help them when they are adults.

Bedtime is one of those areas that people judge others on.  My boys at the ages of 9 and 7 go to bed between 7:15-7:30 most nights.  I know a lot of people who feel this is way to early. I also know others who feel that children should not have bedtimes.  So why do my children go to be at the time they do?  My boys get up at 6:30am on school days.  Children at this age range need 10-11 hours of sleep each night.  I feel bedtimes routines are important throughout life.  I still have a bedtime routine.  I want my sons to understand the importance of sleep and they they can settle themselves down to sleep with their routines.  Now, do my children stay up late from time to time... yes.  Do they skip parts of their routine at times... yes.  But, can they go right back into their routine and go to sleep... yep.

The last part is my sanity... by having the kids in the kitchen with me they have time to talk to me, to learn life skills and I can keep an eye on them.  Bedtime is more of a for my sanity thing.  When I know they are going to bed at a certain time I know I will have time to get things done, to relax and settle down myself before bed.  I know I won't be fighting with an overtired cranky child.

So next time you are judging a parent on why they are doing something remember you don't know what motivates them to make the decisions they do.  Maybe that parent who is giving in and buying the screaming child the treat he want is motivated by not being embarrassed or is motivated by the child's happiness?  Maybe the mother who is losing her temper with a child is motivated by the child's compliance or has already lost her sanity that day.

The point is... all parents feel like they aren't right, so don't judge them because they are different.

What summer means to me

Looking back on my life summer has had so many different meanings in my life.

When I was a child: I remember summer being a time of freedom.  Staying up late, playing outside, waiting for the ice cream truck.  It meant bike riding, swimming and making up games with friends.  It meant getting up early and staying out until the street lights came on.  We went to soccer camp, community boating, and participated in other camps.

When I was a teenager: summer meant being able to work more to make more money.  It meant going to the beach and movies with friends.

Summer means a break from reality.

When I was single and a teacher: summer was a time to take courses.  It was a time to pick up summer school if I wanted or do nothing at all.  It was a time to change gears and then prepare for my next batch of kindergartners.

When I first became a mother:  summer meant less time outside and more time to be creative.  Summer with little ones in Florida means cooling off in the baby pool with a Popsicle.  As the boys grew it meant swimming lessons, playing sports and keeping busy.

When I became a mother to school age children:  summer meant keeping busy, finding camps for the kids and fitting in the fun.  Summer is a time to watch movies during the day just because.  Summer means $1 movies, trips to the library, and baking together.

Now that I am a mother of school age children and a teacher again:  summer is bittersweet.  It reminds me of my days as a stay-at-home mom.  I am able to be with the boys all day... which is a challenge some days.  We try to do a lot together during the summer.  But summers also means the boys come with me to set up my classroom.

It means thinking about getting them ready for school and myself as well.  I have said this year I will not go into work until August. So we go to the $1 movie, go to the library, to to Walt Disney World, make puzzles, watch movies, play outside, play in the pool and just hang out.  There are more laughs and more frustrations, but I love my summers with my boys.

So what does summer mean to me?  It means I get to be with my boys, to reconnect and just be.