I’ve changed the name of my blog, from Bellevue Toddlers to More Good Days. The new address is: www.gooddayswithkids.com
Why change from Bellevue Toddlers? Because:
- my blog is appropriate for parents everywhere, not just Bellevue
- I write about more than toddlers – although my strongest focus is on age 1 – 4, the content is appropriate for parents of children birth to 5.
Why change to More Good Days? Because it’s a theme that weaves throughout my teaching in various ways:
- When working with pregnant women and discussing nutrition, exercise, and so on, I say “I’m going to tell you all the ideas I know of for increasing your chances of a healthy pregnancy and birth, but I’m not telling you that you have to do every one of these things! I’m giving ideas, and you’ll do as many of them as you can make work in your life. And some days you’ll eat perfectly, and other days you’ll grab beef jerky and raisins at the 7-11 because that’s the only way you can get “lunch” that day. It’s OK. Babies are resilient – they won’t suffer for a few bad days here and there. We just shoot for more good days than bad… the more healthy choices the better.”
- When teaching breastfeeding, if people raise concerns about not “succeeding” at breastfeeding, I say “I’m going to give you all the ideas I can to help increase your chance of reaching your goals, and I’m going to give you lots of resources for where you can go for help, and you’re going to do the best you can. Hopefully you reach or exceed your goals for how long you nurse baby. But sometimes life happens, and women don’t nurse as long as they had hoped. I want you to remember that even a few days of breastmilk has health benefits for baby, and the more days of breastfeeding they get, the better for them and for mom. So focus on those good days and how much good you did for baby on those days.
- When teaching newborn care or teaching parents of babies and toddlers, I tell parents “You’re not going to be a perfect parents. None of us are. There will be days (or at least moments each day) when you feel like a fabulous parent – like you’re really succeeding at this whole parenting gig! And there will be days when you’re a crappy parent. Days when you find yourself saying or doing something that you never thought you’d say or do. Days when you just really feel like you screwed up. When you have those days – or those moments each and every day – keep moving on. Seek out advice and new ideas on how to do better, seek out support for yourself on this path, and learn about what resources there are for you and your child. You’ll continue trying to do the best you can every day, and you hope that in the long run, when you look back, you’ll say that there have been more good days than bad.”
So, really “more good days” is about finding a balance. Doing the best you can. Finding more information, support and resources to help you do better. And forgiving yourself for the bad days.
I also think that part of what determines whether something is a ‘good day’ or a ‘bad day’ is our attitude. Some days feel like there’s problem after problem, and every little thing pushes us closer to the edge, and we find ourselves saying “what a crappy day! Why does this keep happening? I hate my life!!” Other days, everything feels easy and fine, and all those little annoyances slide right off.
Yesterday morning with my son, I was relaxed and mellow and all was fine with the world, and then… he pooped in the bathtub. (I think that’s the first time for him… so it’s been many years since I last had to deal with this.) But, it was OK. I cleaned him up, I cleaned up the bathtub, and then he pooped in the potty, which is always worthy of celebration. It was all fine – it was a good day.
But then yesterday afternoon, it was so hot in the house that he couldn’t go down for his nap in his room upstairs (we live in Seattle – we have no air conditioning because we only need it five days a year – but yesterday was one of those days!!). So, he’s “napping” on the couch. But he’s not. And I’m trying to work. But I’m not. And he’s making a mess with all his toys, and I’m asking him to clean it up. And he’s not. And I should be calm and reasonable in asking him to clean it up and go back to his couch. But I’m not. And now, it is a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day.
And really, it was all about my attitude. But even knowing that, it’s hard to shift out of it in the moment.
But, we did shift out of it – we had a fabulous evening in the splash park and watching outdoor Shakespeare with the whole family.
And it was so joyful for me to watch my three year old in the water, trying out all his new skills from swimming class and laughing and playing with all the other toddlers. And it was so joyful for me to watch my 20 year old – my theater major daughter – enjoying the show – laughing at some beautiful moments of physical comedy.
In the end, it was a very good day.
Every day, parents have experiences like these. The good moments, the bad moments. Parenting can definitely be “all joy, and no fun.” In the hard moments, we wonder why we put ourselves through it. And then in the joyful moments, we realize that there’s really nothing better than watching a child learn and grow.
We had our two girls, and thought for years (13 years!) that we were done. Then we decided that we loved parenting enough that we wanted to do it again. Before getting pregnant, my husband and I had lots of long conversations about what we were getting into, and all the non-fun parts of parenting that were ahead. But we decided it was worth it for the joy. And what a joy our little boy is.
And every day, I work to find the same balance I encourage in my students. Doing the best I can. Finding more information, support and resources to help me do better. Forgiving myself for the bad days. And hoping that in the long run, there are more good days than bad.