Monday, May 12, 2014

Parenting Hacks

Parenting. It's all about trial and error. Or at least it is in the Prater household. And it has been this way since Arabella graced our lives with her brilliance in 2010. Trial and error could be my middle name. But Margaret Trial and Error Prater is longer than the name my mama blessed me with in the first place, which is a tall order in and of itself. But, as usual, I digress.

I tried nursing, but ended up bottle feeding. I tried following the rules of using the crib, but ended up with a baby in my bed. I tried making homemade baby food, but ended up with good ol' Gerber. I tried to avoid television until she was two years old, but ended up singing along with Bubble Guppies anyway. And so the pattern continues today. 

I will be the first to admit that my little darling is extremely spoiled and her behavior suffers more than a little bit from my inconsistencies as a parent. She is very much accustomed to being doted on, and not even just by her parents. Extended family members, family friends, strangers...they all praise her for being so cute, and sweet, and smart. And doesn't that just automatically mean she should be rewarded by her every whim being catered? Three suckers after a haircut. Three bedtime stories. Three toys at Wal-Mart when Mamaw told her she could pick out one. Three quarters for bubble gum. And Heaven forbid I ask her to lower her voice in a public place or otherwise make her mind the rules; I mean, I'm practically Hitler incarnate. 

Can't you tell? I'm totally scary. And she's terrified. :-P

However, along the often tumultuous way, I have learned a few tricks to help our family survive hectic moments and avoid potential tantrums. (One or two may involve learning to ignore grandparents.) The biggest battles we have faced recently have involved her clothing. Arabella is very opinionated and particular, especially when it comes to fashion. I'm assuming it's still called fashion when you're talking about four-year-olds and Garanimals coordinating separates?

Now, I have a philosophical dilemma when it comes to her clothes. I realize the relative un-importance of matching clothing. I realize the great importance of empowering our children and fostering independence. However, I also feel like if I am going to spend money on clothing that looks nice, and I'm going to take time to wash and fold and put away those clothes, my child should look like all that happened before she stepped out of the house. I understand how shallow that may make me, and I accept it. It's just one of the things that my husband and I value. When we are playing outside, go crazy with that stained yellow shirt, Dora cap, and Crocs. But when we are going to dinner or school, I would prefer something a little more...conventional. 

So I've started matching up outfits when I'm doing laundry. Rather than put all the tops and bottoms in separate drawers, I pair them up as I fold them and lay them out on the shelf in her closet. Right now, she has two weeks worth of school outfits ready to go. This way, she is still expressing her autonomy in picking out what she wears to school (and, as of right now, she is still avoiding the sparkly leggings I bought a month ago that I am dying to see her wear, but I'm letting it go...slowly) and I am still smiling when she gets dressed because she doesn't look like what my mama would call a "throwed-away baby." 

We have also started picking out her clothes at night, and I have reinforced the concept that she has to put that outfit on in the morning. This seems so simple, but for a while she was picking out clothes and then changing her mind at the last second, refusing to get dressed and spending lots of time in the closet picking out something else instead of brushing her teeth. Ah, the mornings of motherhood. 

She still refuses to wear hair bows or headbands, but I did insist on a hair cut when she got her ears pierced last week. Small victories. 

Do you ever feel like you're parenting via trial and error? What parenting hacks have you discovered that work for your family?

1 comment:

  1. My parents seemed so confident in all their decisions so I never realized that when the baby came out all the answers didn't come with it. Man, it's all about trial and error. Jack changes so much so therefore I have to change. Jack will probably be an only child so I know some degree of brattiness will come with that but I hope to raise him to at least respect us and other adults.