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September 26, 2010 / MrsH

No parenting books in November

One of the best parenting tips I’ve learned over the past two years, especially for an information and learning junkie like myself, is to regularly take a break from reading parenting books.  Don’t get me wrong, we can learn a ton from books and other media geared towards parents.  Anything from learning an entirely new philosophy around parenting, to quick, developmentally appropriate tips can be found.  I read loads of blogs and just love searching for that next great idea that will help our family life be more smooth for everyone.

In fact, I read so much parenting related stuff, some great and some less helpful, that my mind is always swirling with ideas. Ideas that don’t come to fruition because before I can actually implement it, I’ve already found the next one which looks like it might be even better for us.  Or more critical in this moment, or more exciting, or easier to do.  While we do implement some real gems, some relatively simple things that make a significant impact on our family, there are so many more that we simply don’t get to.

Having all of these experts’ voices in my head all the time does something else, too.  Sometimes others’ words speak louder than my children’s actions.  Sometimes I stop believing that ultimately, I know my children better than they do. There are times that I disconnect from my children in order to catch up on my reading.  The irony isn’t lost on me: I read about how to connect with them, or how to find ways to engage them while I read about how to connect with them, which I read at the cost of actually connecting with them.

And so I’ve set every November aside as a month to stop the cycle.  To take a break from reading about parenting and to actually do this critical thing I do.  A month to regain a bit of balance in terms of my information overload on this particular topic, to implement some ideas that have fallen to the wayside and  to spend with my children listening deeply, playing hard, and loving warmly.  What I’ve found in the past is that having spent a month fine-tuning my motherly intuition, I’m in a better place to evaluate the helpfulness of what I’m reading.  My discernment has improved so that rather than being swayed by a persuasive author I read critically again.  Without all the additional distraction on how to parent, what to do and what not to do, I can see my children more clearly as individual beings with their own needs and desires and am freed to parent them in response to those.

November is a time to refrain from reading books, magazines, or blogs about parenting, and from watching films about parenting.   Also, any topic that I’m inclined to pursue “to make me a better parent” would be off-limits.  Meal-planning?  Out.  Enjoying nature with kids?  Out.  Finding balance as a mother?  Out.  You get the picture.  And lest I simply fill my time with other information overload, what do plan to spend my time on in November?

  • Connecting with my kids (don’t I always try that though?), learning from them, rotating their toys, and setting up fun arts and crafts projects from the ideas swirling in my brain, not researched during this month of course.
  • Exploring fairy houses together with them, which means lots of time spent in nature!
  • I just found this book at my library: Praying in Color.  I’m excited to work try it out.
  • Studying/reading scripture, a habit that has sadly fallen by the wayside in the past few months.

I’ll let you know how it pans out!

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