Parenting Privately

Parenting Privately

I started this blog at first to be a motherhood blog. I was at a point where I wanted more community in that aspect of my life since I am the only one of my friends with a kid. However, shortly after I just realized that I don’t need to have my being a parent broadcasted (not that there’s anything wrong with that). For me it felt wrong and it felt forced where I was showing off my daughter to the world because I was seeing so many other mothers doing so on large platforms and they were able to find that community. Its weird but I needed to find that community and that sense of motherhood in myself first before trying to find it in other women. I know parenthood is lonely and no one really talks about how it can be lonely the first couple of months and years as you yourself are basically having to find yourself all over again.

Also since I went into parenting thinking I’d be raising my daughter together equally with her father and now that I consider myself a single mom things have changed again. And as a parent and even as an adult when changes happen its really about just allowing them to happen and not holding onto any idea of how things are supposed to be. I know for myself parenting privately is more intentional and personal for me. I care about my daughters well being before my own. People are still shocked when I tell them I have a kid even though she’s almost 4 its just not something I feel the need to share though I am aware with social media culture that people think if you ain’t sharing it that means its not happening.

Parenting privately has also given me the confidence to parent I know it sounds simple but no ones ready to have kids were all figuring this shit out. Parenthood just happens. Yeah, you can prepare for it but not really. Its also just given me a better appreciation for my own parents and just allowed me to be able to make mistakes. There’s no one to prove anything to.

Advertisements

Children’s Books Black History Month Edition

Children’s Books Black History Month Edition

Here’s a short list and description of some children’s books to read to your kids during black history month.

1. Little Leaders Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison. It’s a book for kids a little older but Sage who is 3 likes looking at the illustrations and I just read her the woman’s name and occupation.

2. Hey Black Child by Useni Eugene Perkins. Such a motivational book for any black child.

3. Dancing in the Wings by Debbie Allen. A dream book for a little girl obsessed with ballets and dancing and dresses. Not to mention so much history in Debbie Allen’s accomplishments.

4. Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty. Cutest illustrations with a big meaning and a funny story. Girls can be scientist. Little black girls can be scientists.

5. Lola at the Library by Anna McQuinn. A book to get your child excited about reading books.

6. A Night Out with Mama by Quvenzhane Wallis. This book would have been published by the author when she was 13 if that’s not a big enough feat to read this book to your children I don’t know what is.

In retrospect I also realized all these books are about AA women (I guess cause I have a daughter) but these are just some books we already had that showed African American representation. What books would you recommend for younger kids to start learning about African American History? Leave some comments for me on what you’re reading to your children this month.

Photos from Hey Black Child.

Photos from Ada Twist, Scientist.

Potty Training

I began potty training Sage over the summer but I’m not going to lie I wasn’t consistent at all. Between work and other things potty-training wasn’t a priority on my list of daily things to do. We transitioned to pull-ups with no fuss. Then started sitting her on the potty to get her used to it. And it kind of became a game for her. She liked sitting on the toilet and saying she had to go potty (even though she wasn’t yet) and she liked feeling a sense of independence and saying “I do it”. She did get really interested in her female parts during this time too and would ask me what things were down there for the first time.This led to print out coloring sheets with labeled body parts.

So, potty training is just an overall learning experience I wasn’t prepared for. My sister suggested (because she did this with my niece) that I should give Sage a reward like candy for using the bathroom in the toilet but I didn’t really like the idea so I never started it. Sage found it enjoyable without the “treat” and is now telling me when she has to go potty on her own without me asking her.

She still wears pull-ups to bed (haven’t figured this one out yet) but during the day she doesn’t (this includes during naps) and she hasn’t had many accidents once she got the hang of it. In the beginning she did have a couple accidents and wet herself while wearing underwear but she fully understands now and can feel the difference between her pull-up and undies- and if she’s wearing undies will say she has to go potty.

We got to this stage of understanding by having talks after she would have accidents me telling her I wasn’t mad at her and reminding her to tell me when she had to go potty. I also just started taking her to the bathroom every hour when she had on undies. This got her in the habit of knowing okay when I feel the urge to go I need to go to the bathroom. Talking and explaining things to Sage repeatedly really helped her to understand and get the concept of using the bathroom.

Getting her to use the bathroom to go poo I knew would be hard I don’t know about other toddlers but Sage would always go to the same spot squat down and poo then tell me she had. But the transition to her using the toilet and pooping really wasn’t that bad.

Every time Sage uses the bathroom in the potty she exclaims “I did it” so it is fun for her she likes knowing she can do something with her body on her own. Still working on the wiping but I’m so proud of my baby. Sage does use a separate like booster toilet seat because she’s dramatic and swears she’ll fall in the toilet without it. So, if you’re having trouble getting your little one to be comfortable sitting on the toilet seat I suggest purchasing a kiddie one.

I’m going to leave some tips that I found helpful and links.

1. You should definitely purchase toddler flushable wipes. These were a game changer because Sage would go through the motions using so much tissue when she didn’t even use the bathroom. Also it helps them be able to wipe themselves more efficiently. I get mine from target they’re the up and up brand and super affordable.

2. Like I said I suggest getting a training seat for an actual toilet but there also are those toddler/baby toilets that could be helpful in the very beginning with just helping your child get used to the act of sitting on a potty. You can also let your child personalize this mini toilet with stickers, paint, etc.

3. Help your child get comfortable with the toilet. So, whatever they need to feel comfortable using the bathroom do it.

4. Kids learn by imitation so having an open door policy is a good start to showing your child how to use the bathroom and correctly wipe. I did this even before potty training because I’m usually the only one home with my daughter and need to be able to keep an eye on her even when nature calls.

5. Let your child pick out their underwear Sage has trolls and poppy and of course that motivated her to want to wear undies instead of her pull-ups. The little things will help your child get used to this change smoothly.

Here’s some links I used while potty training with more tips to help ya potty train your little one.

https://www.babycentre.co.uk/a548953/potty-training-for-girls

https://www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/potty-training/tips/potty-training-tips/

Mom Talk #4

This mom talk might be a little sensitive to some mommas. Because I’m talking about co-parenting this month. I never thought I would identify as a single mom. Sage’s father was there my whole pregnancy and after for 9 months we did live together and try to make things work. There of course was a limbo period where we didn’t know what we were doing but I think we’re almost (knock on wood) in an okay place. I don’t have set rules or regulations for co-parenting I don’t like confrontation and have a hard time asserting myself. I’m learning to ask for what I want. Whether is a night off to hang out with my friends or just a night off for self-care. At first it was hard for me to ask for help with buying things Sage needed or ask for a break but co-parenting does get easier. I know society has conditioned women to believe their place is at home with their kids and sacrifice sacrifice sacrifice but that doesn’t have to be your reality. You can be happy with your child or children and happy alone having a night off (and this is whether you co-parent or have a husband). Never be afraid to ask for what it is you need as a mother to feel your best mentally and emotionally.

Sage is not yet on a set schedule when it comes to co-parenting but I would like her to be (if any of you co-parenting moms or dads have tips on scheduling let me know). I have had issues with accountability sometimes Sage’s father doesn’t do as much as he should and the responsibility usually falls on me to provide financially. As well as being her primary caretaker (which is why identify as a single mom). But he is there for her he’s her dad and really her best friend they have a bond and when he is around it’s like I don’t exist – so I make things work for her.

However, co-parenting is not about the parents and all about the child. Well, it’s a little about the parents because things need to be worked out and parents need to be on the same understanding when it comes to their child’s needs. But other than that it’s about doing what’s best for the child and not taking things personally when things come up (cause they will). Parenting isn’t a perfect system and co-parenting isn’t either. There is a lot of growth that has to happen with both parents for things to work. Separating your personal relationship from your co-parenting relationship with your child’s other parent is key to making this relationship work.

Co-parenting should be consistent similar rules, discipline, and rewards so your child knows what to expect with both parents this also won’t lead to confusion. Never vent to your child about the parent in a co-parenting situation. Stay focused on your child and less worried about what the other parent is or isn’t doing – however if problems do arise setting a meeting time without children present to talk through issues and resolve them will be beneficial to all involved.

Co-parenting is team work. Approach the relationship in a business like manner and keep conversations focused on your child as to not get past feelings mixed up. Always be respectful in dealing with the other parent and communicate effectively. Request for things instead of demanding and making comments about things that you want to happen but aren’t. And realize that with any relationship a co-parenting one requires work and communication to work effectively. If you and the other parent can stay focused on your child things should run smoothly. Also make big decisions together don’t make them in the spur of the moment then later talk to the other parent about it. Being mindful will go along way in keeping the relationship healthy and unstrained.

Your child’s emotional and mental well-being is more important than any petty thing that can come up in a co-parenting relationship just remember this and keep this in mind and co-parenting might at least feel better when things do come up.

Personally, I do my best to only focus on Sage when it comes to co-parenting as long as she is okay and happy I try not to let a lot of things bother me. If you co-parent and you feel overly stressed in an area whether it’s financially, mentally, emotionally or even in your physical body it may be time to communicate this with your co-parenting partner and come up with a plan to get things more relaxed. I know moms feel the need to do a be all things but we don’t have to anymore it’s okay to help and expect help from the person who helped bring your child into this world. Do not be afraid. And co-parenting gets easier and if it doesn’t take legal measures to get what you need for your child and for you.

3 Ways I Manage Stress with a 2 year old

Not going to lie my patience sometimes is at 0 with my daughter. As a single working mom I’m stressed more than I’d like to be. This of course causes me to be less patient with my high strung toddler and tense. Here’s 3 Ways I destress and find a lil selfcare for myself throughout the day.

1. Yoga

And I’m not talking about yoga as an exercise. I’ve learned quite a few poses over the years (when it was an exercise for me) and in the morning I sometimes put on nature or meditation music and just allow myself to sit and flow from pose to pose for however long I feel. Being aware of my breaths. And getting out of my head a little.

2. Showers

I’ve always had this weird gravitational pull to water (I’m not a water sign so this is why I say weird). Water calms me all the way down. And if my daughters particularly intense one day I will either make her take a midday bath or I’ll take one myself for some me time or we’ll take one together if we both need to chill out. For some extra relaxation I sometimes add epsom salt and oils to the bath too.

3. Listening to Music

When my daughter was a newborn I had a record player and one of the ways I’d get her out of a crying fit was to play records. I even had made a playlist called Sage’s Morning on my SoundCloud. Music chills me out cause it again gets me out of my head space. And for Sage she likes to dance so it keeps her occupied even if only for 5 minutes.

What are your tips for keeping cool and calm through the day with your toddlers? (or kids) let me know in the comments!

Mom Talk #3

Hey everyone!

Today’s mom talk is all about the creative mom struggles. One of the biggest/hardest things about becoming a mom for me was that my time wasn’t as free as it used to be. I have always been very selfish with my time. And I guess I took it for granted. One thing that being a parent teaches you is that your time isn’t necessarily yours anymore. Without having a partner who lives with you or shares the same amount of time with the child in a co-parenting situation – being a single fulltime parent can be very overwhelming. As a painter and writer I found myself very lost – not being able to create when I wanted to because my daughter needed my time and attention. Feeling too tired to create and unmotivated because of stress. There were and are a lot of factors that contributed to my inner struggles of being a parent and a creative. I tried working during her nap times when she was a newborn (and still do this) as its the only time I really “get time to myself” besides being at work which I don’t think counts. But I quickly began to feel burnt out from using her nap times trying to get things done. There’s that saying when you first become a parent to “sleep when the baby sleeps” but its like so when do I get the million things I need to do done. It was like I racing against the clock trying to hurry and get as much done during her hour and half naps and anyone who is a creative knows you cannot rush art especially not watercolor. And rushing myself to get as much done with my paintings in such a short amount a time led me to making lots of mistakes and feeling like a failure as both a parent and an artist.

This also led to me resenting my daughter only cause I couldn’t create when I wanted to and couldn’t give myself the time to fully immerse into my work. I still struggle now with this and Sage is 2 I don’t resent her now though I’ve come to the realization that life has changed and I just needed to get on board with it. I am going to enroll her in school next year and I know this will free up some hours during the week (when I’m not working) to devote to creating. It doesn’t help that most of the people I know are creatives and don’t have kids so I started to begin to compare myself to where I was and where they are in developing creative careers, recognition and how many shows they were doing. This ultimately made me feel worse and insecure like I wasn’t doing enough. Comparison is I think the worst thing that can happen to a creative it creates doubt and fear and I had a lot of that when it came to my work.

There is this big myth that artists of any kind make terrible partners and husbands/wives. That we are selfish and only care about ourselves our work that our relationships come second and I guess in away this serves both people in relationships (the artist and the partner) when things don’t work out. There are even more myths about working mothers that we cant have it both. Be successful and be a good mother. Add that to a “job” or whether “jobs” that never stop – there is no clock out for a parent or a creative and it seems impossible. How to be a successful creative and be a successful parent. A woman looses a lot of her identity becoming a mother much more than a man does in becoming a father- even now in the 21st century there is so much weighted on the mother. I read in the article that I linked below that the reason that parenthood is in conflict with being an artist is because ” Because the point of art is to unsettle, to question, to disturb what is comfortable and safe. And that shouldn’t be anyone’s goal as a parent.”  And it made me stop and think that there might actually be a real reason to why I myself have struggled with making art and being a mom for the last 2 years. “Oscar Wilde said it is the most intense mode of individualism the world has ever known.” I had my daughter at 24 I got pregnant at 23 and immediately I could see in class and in my friends faces that I was not the same I of course did not feel the same but it was mirrored back to me in countless ways – I had a ceramic teacher the first full semester I was back in school who everytime I brought up my daughter I knew it made her uncomfortable what I didn’t know then was with what. She is young – maybe a year older than me and I think she knew and felt through my own struggle what a struggle being a mother and a creative can be. To devote time and space to parenting or creating? That’s where the struggle is. Do I give my daughter the phone for a couple hours to work on a poem? Do I zone out? Do I neglect her? Do I plop her in front of the TV? Or do I stop do I mother and work to pay the bills and find away to be satisfied with that. Or do I try and find some balance? Do I wait till she’s older? Do I step back for a couple years. But the question should be why do I have to choose. I know that there will be days I give more to motherhood and days I give more to creating and I also know I never want creating to mean I neglect my daughter.

On days when Sage goes to her father’s I always make these long lists of things to get done. I go to work and I have the night to work creatively whether that’s paint or work on my book of poems and not get my toddler ready for bed. But rarely do I use the whole time to work before I feel anxious and I cook or I take a bath then I tell myself I deserve a night off cause I do. Its rare. So, I watch Netflix and then feel guilty for being happy that I have time alone but I’m not creating. I’m unsure what the answer is here. Maybe a little bit of me has given up on creating and said mothering is a lot (cause it is) and I’m no longer driven or motivated. Or I decided to believe in society and thought I cant have it all. I think writing this will (hopefully)get me back to creating consistently. Motherhood isn’t just one thing. And it doesn’t have to look like it either. That’s what I want these mom talks to be about. Go out and resist and prove people wrong. Motherhood is powerful and badass and I’m over feeling inadequate as a creative because of it- when in fact I’ve created the ultimate creation.

I still haven’t been able to find this balance between parenting/working to pay bills/ and creating. I would love to get to the point where my creations pay my bills but until then I’ll be trying to find some sort of normalcy with it all. Create when I can and be thankful and present in the creation.

There’s this story that I think is in Woman Who Run With Wolves (but I can’t find it and believe me I’ve looked but also this book is amazing and I highly recommend it to all women but especially to mothers) about a woman who loves to dance but doesn’t anymore cause she’s a mother and wife. She takes care of her kids her home and I can’t remember if this happens once her kids are grown and gone or not – but she would sneak into the city and dance on the weekends until one day she stops. She cleans the kitchen and she takes out a gun and kills herself. The story was about the death of the woman because she becomes other things. Mother. Wife. Nurturer. Home maker. Maid. And she has little tome for herself for the things she loves. She is drained. And tired. A shell of a woman until she can no longer take it. So, if you feel this way tired and drained and not yourself. Let the woman in you come out. You do not always have to be all things to your kids to your husband to the life you’ve chosen. Make time for the things you love for the creative you. For the you who likes to go dancing with friends. Whatever it may be that makes you feel alive do it.

How do you other creatives who are parents balance being a parent and being a creative?

Also check out this article if parenthood and being a creative is something you struggle with: https://www.thecut.com/2016/04/portrait-motherhood-creativity-c-v-r.html

Mom Talk #2

Let’s talk about screen-time. This is such a huge topic but I wanted to address it cause its a problem that I have recently began to struggle with my two year old about. She always wants the phone. I know this will change once she starts school but I’m having a hard time keeping her busy now so the phone situation doesn’t come up. At the same time I am trying to brand my blog – and that requires me to be on the phone or on my laptop (like I am now typing this at 12:48pm) she sees all of this. She sees me using my phone and using the laptop and she imitates my behavior. I know I could switch my “work” hours to times she’s not awake, when she takes a nap or when she’s down for the night or get up early before her and knock out everything I think I need to do online. I hate that she sees me using technology so much I’ve tried to implement technology free days on Sunday’s but that didn’t really workout the best as sometimes I’m not with her on Sunday’s because of work. I try to do activities with her to get her away from wanting to watch peppa pig or poppy but as many of you parents know a toddlers mind is always looking for the next shiny new thing – they don’t stay concentrated on one thing for long. And as sad as it is sometimes it just keeps the peace to just give her the phone so I too can take a breather from dealing with meltdowns and demands of a two year old (no judgment here). Sometimes my selfcare is giving her the phone for 25 minutes so I can stretch or read a chapter of a book or anything.
I also know that too much screen-time can have negative effects like with anything too much of something can have repercussions. Lets look at some scientific data of how screen-time effects kids and toddlers. Scientific research – doctors say that kids younger than 18 months shouldn’t have screen- time at all I know this can be impossible with TV’s in homes, tablets and technology becoming increasingly part of our normal day to day function. But its said that since brains are developing the most in the first 2 years and children learn the most from interacting that they need to be interacting and not sitting in front of a screen. Interacting like being in nature, going to parks, being around other kids, being out in the world and learning seeing, hearing, touching things. However, there is “good” and “bad” screen-time. Good screen-time could be facetiming family members, doing games on a tablet with someone so the interaction is still there, watching educational shows. But these studies still say screen-time from 2-3 years of age should be limited to an hour a day which isn’t very long. One thing it specifically warns against is screen-time at bedtime and during meals I myself have a bad habit of eating and watching TV which I have passed on to my daughter already but there’s always time to implement changes this week I am going to make sure I myself and my daughter don’t eat our meals in front of a screen. I challenge any of you to do the same if this is an issue for you or to just be more present and aware of your kids screen-time this week.
I do feel guilty when I give my daughter the phone or sit her down in front of the TV just so I can get things done. In short its hard being a parent and having dreams, other responsibilities, and caring for yourself too. Its hard but its not impossible. I know my daughter likes to paint so I make a point to try and make it an activity we do daily or every other day, she likes doing crafts and going on walks, she’s a texture person – helping me cook or bake or measure out things. Puzzles and playdough things she can get her hands on is good for her. So, there are some activity ideas you can implement with your own kids and if anyone has any other activities they do with their kids that their kids enjoy leave a comment about it. Leave a comment with your own stories and or struggle about children screen-time. I wanna hear! As technology becomes more integrated into our lives I want to know of things we can do to stay in touch with ourselves and our children.
When Sage was a baby baby (what I call pre 2 years lol) I didn’t let her watch much TV or use the phone. To be honest before she was 2 TV didn’t hold her attention for long because she was so curious about the world and her surroundings. I wish that kids youtube had never been introduced to her. I’m not sure how it was. Its not a huge issue she’s getting older and isn’t as interested in her normal day to day surroundings. On outings she’s fine without the phone doesn’t think about it once. If I could backtrack I would. It has definitely been a struggle with her telling her no when she asks for the phone first thing in the morning. I also just want her to use her imagination and have free playtime more and not be distracted by moving things on a screen. I think technology in a way can really make someone anxious – overthink – distracted – the brain isn’t supposed to move a mile a minute there needs to be a balance – relaxation a calmness I think being on the phone for long periods of time can mess this up. I’ve noticed this even with myself. Based on what I’m watching and how much TV or how long I scroll on insta I feel drained and anxious more so than usual. I don’t allow myself time to sit and be still. And I think kids really need that time to get to know themselves and process things naturally.

Much of parenting that I’ve learned is just doing what you feel is best, taking it day by day and trying not to feel doubts or guilt about things you have to do. So, I encourage you if you think your kids use too much technology whether 2 or 7 take it day by day and start limiting your kids usage. I also encourage you (parents) to be more present with your kids to not use your phone while they’re talking to you or while eating dinner but give your kid(s) your undivided attention. It’ll be helpful in the long run.

What are your thoughts on toddler screen-time? Do you think its a hard necessity? Are you strict or loose about how much screen-time you allow you kid(s)? How much technology do you (the parent)use and how does this affect your relationship with your kids?

More information on screen-time:

https://www.babycenter.com/screen-time-babies-toddlers

https://childmind.org/article/value-screen-time-toddlers-preschoolers/

mom talk 2