Parenting and The Comparison Game

More often than not, this parenting comparison game sends us into research, with Google becoming our favourite friend, determined to find the way to do it all “right”.

Raising Kids the easy way, forget the comparison game - Lindsay Fricker for Nesting Story

You’ve stopped attending those Mommy and Me groups. You made fast friends with the other mama’s and loved an excuse to get out of the house, but you couldn’t help noticing the other babies. They were all moving through their milestones quickly, some even skipping milestones altogether. Was your baby behind? They aren’t alike at all. You began to worry and decided it would be easier to avoid these meetings. You don’t want to play the parenting comparison game.

Maybe your baby was the one hitting all the milestones – and it wasn’t until your second child came along that you noticed things were different…why weren’t they progressing like their older brother? The anxiety builds. 

You attend your scheduled doctor’s appointment, only to see your baby’s measurements slide off of the carefully plotted curve. You take it on as if it is your fault – you can’t produce enough milk. Why can’t your body do what it’s supposed to? (Side note – this is NOT your fault).

Then there is the guilt you may find in the safety of your own extended family. Everyone has an opinion on how your child should be raised – “Co sleeping is a bad idea. They will never be able to sleep on their own.” 

You somehow make it through the infant year, but are struggling your way through toddler-dom, you have “that child” in the preschool play. Or, you find yourself into the school-age years before their struggles in math class have you worried they won’t be able to be “whatever they want” when they grow up. 

Looking for Answers

These feelings of worry, guilt and anxiety exist for most parents – in one way or another. When it strikes – we can easily panic. More often than not, this parenting comparison game sends us into research, with Google becoming our favourite friend, determined to find the way to do it all “right”. 

But this is what the “right” way to parent looks like –

Hopefully, this makes it clear. If you’re looking for an easy guide to parenting, there isn’t just one to choose from. Parenting is HARD. There isn’t a one-sized-fits-all answer to any of our questions. There can be answers if we put in the work, holding fast to a series of trials and errors. 

We are the Experts of Our Children.

It is so important that we take action against these feelings of anxiety and worry. They can prevent us from seeing our children clearly. They can rob us of the precious time we have with them, or even keep us from providing our children with what they need, when they need it. 

Our first step in being the expert of our children, is going to be in taking care of ourselves. We’ve all heard the adage, “you can’t pour from an empty cup”. 

As soon as we begin to harness these feelings of worry and guilt, we will be able to see the comparisons for what they are – comparisons. There is no “better”, only different. Being an early walker does not necessarily mean you will be winning gold medals in the Olympics for track and field, and being a late talker does not discount you from winning awards for Public Speaking. 

In tracking milestones and making comparisons, keep your focus clear. What is the purpose? If it’s to feel some sort of satisfaction or sense of hierarchy, you are doing it wrong. Parents, stop playing the comparison game. 

As every child is unique, so is every family. When it comes to raising our children, only we know what will work best for ours. By being able to take the concerns of our doctors, along with those of our extended families, and make healthy comparisons between our kids and others their age, we will ultimately be able to understand what our child’s needs are. 

Even more, as we keep reading these articles handing out advice on child development, we will be able to pick and choose the strategies that will ultimately work for us – ensuring our ability to help our children to grow and learn where their strengths and interests lie, which is ultimately all we could ever ask for.

Lindsay Fricker is a mom of four – two plus twins. Kindergarten teacher by day, Lindsay enjoys helping others find ways to navigate the ugly parts of parenting, while keeping their sanity and positively supporting their children. You can read more from Lindsay here or follow her on Instagram @serendipity.six.

Our Family Almost Didn’t Make It To Summer Break

We just crawled to the finish line. Our last month before summer break was a doozy! We had such a healthy year and then crashed and burned in June. On top of our family having one illness after another, we were forced to face some big time parenting problem solving.

Having four kids… you can always expect a wobbly plate. You focus on that kid and get them sorted, then triage the family and move onto the next wobbly plate and so on. Well, somehow, some way we had four wobbly plates for an entire month before summer break.

It was so draining for me mentally and emotionally that it began to have a physical affect on my body. Phew. Despite the stress we pushed through and I am happy to say we have restored the peace in our home in time for the summer break. Watch as I share our journey and then implemented a system that helped us changed the narrative in our home and created a positive atmosphere…

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I was chronically busy and it had to stop

busy mom

“How are you?” a friend asked me at a conference a couple weeks ago. I could feel an inner push and pull as to how to answer this question. I had just checked into the hotel and was crossing the threshold from frantically getting deadlines done, making lunches, breaking up my kids’ fights, and keeping my home afloat, to two days away, to take a minute, reflect and reassess.

“Truthfully,” I started, “I’m burnt out.” I immediately felt guilt bubble up inside of me, scolding me for complaining about life, when I had it so good on paper. My business was booming, my kids were healthy and doing well in school, my marriage was solid and my house was in the midst of getting much needed upgrades and renovations.

But then if you scraped just below the surface, you’d see that my work was so busy that I was neglecting myself and my kids, leaving my body feeling tired and out of sorts, and my kids edgy and vying for my attention. Although date night was keeping my marriage copacetic, Mike and I have been craving more day to day free time to play with our kids and be intimate with each other.

And then there’s our house, oh our house… every room told a story. Whether it was my dining room table, unrecognizable under the boxes of products, random fall and Christmas decor scattered throughout leftover from hosting and filming videos, or my seven-year-old daughter’s room, so messy it was begging for little critters to find it, each room was screaming “I NEED ATTENTION.”

As I continued answering my friend’s harmless question, I heard myself robotically say, “works crazy, and life is a bit off balance, but that’s a good problem, right?” a nervous giggle followed.

“Not always,” she replied.

As I sat in on inspiring panels, and delighted in a mid-afternoon nap, (which only happens when I am away at conferences), it became clear what I had to do going home.

I had to fight for balance.

Balance, less stress, less frantic, how ever you want to put it, wasn’t going to walk up to me one day and say, I’m here! No, it was up to me to fiercely fight for time and to create a life which is less busy, but more manageable and healthy.

So, how am I going to fight for what I so desperately need?

I am going to say no.

I have a lot on my plate between now and Christmas. Social gatherings and work commitments and piling on top of each other. Now, it’s one thing to properly tackle what you have committed to. It’s another thing to close the flood gates and say, “I’m at capacity.”

I am going to drop perfection.

I can tend to have this personality that is very all or nothing. As a kid and teenager it made me tip into the “I don’t care” category, leaving me failing classes and skipping school. But as an adult, it’s tipped the other way. Perfection with work, neglect with myself and home. I will leave a little on the table when it comes to work. Know that I am putting my heart into everything, but quitting the second guessing and the tinkering and just get on with it.

I will make plans.

We’ve booked a BIG vacation. I will document it all, don’t you worry. But what this has done has created a hard end date to my busy schedule. I will take time off a hit the reset button coming back.

I will stop wasting time.

I know, I was squeezing them lemon pretty hard. But guess what? I have been setting my alarm pretty early each morning and doing a pathetic workout and playing on my phone. But today was different. I went to a 6am fitness class where I was held accountable and phones were not allowed. I plan to go to these classes every weekday.

I will stick to my work hours.

Although I may have to still do some work on the weekends due to the nature of the projects I am working on, I will stop working after my kids get home from school and shift into mom-mode. Even if I am not entertaining them, (which isn’t my job), I can be a listening ear while prepping a healthy dinner, making lunches, or tidying up. Actually my kids seem happiest when I am occupied with mom tasks instead of sitting at my desk, shut away in my office.

It’s been a week now since pledging these changes to myself amidst this busy season, and I am happy to report that the “frantic” is gone. Life feels more manageable. I will never get it 100%, but who does? What matters is a calm has come over me and my family. We have slowed down. That burnt out feeling has dissipated.

I am fighting for balance.

 

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Twins, four kids, the truth and why I’ve been afraid to say this out loud

A note to my readers… I have been sitting on this post for almost a year. I wrote it after a particular trying season, while taking a minute to breathe just outside of my daughter’s dance class. I was resistant to share it. Maybe because I needed the clouds to part. Although this still rings true when things get tough, it’s not such an overwhelming sensation anymore. I have updated my kids ages to reflect today. I hope that with sharing this piece, a mother somewhere might feel a little less alone.

Mother and four kids
Christmas portrait with twins and older siblings

I am about to talk about something that is an almost constant thought of mine. It is something that I think about often and I have only said out loud to three people before in fear that when I utter the words, I might not be understood. That I might be judged, or told that I am not grateful.

But I have decided to say these words out loud because I might not be the only parent of multiples to think this.

Maybe you will get it.

I’ve written a lot about our journey, from the moment we found out we were having two babies, to preparing for their arrival and babyhood with two. But the older our twins get, the less I feel I am going through twin-specific phases and the more I feel like we just happen to have two kids with the same birthday.

Truthfully, I forget I have twins half the time. But every once and a while, when we are in a pressure-cooker-situation, like trying to pop into a store and both of my four-year-olds melt down and they are too big to scoop up easily to abandon ship, I remember… oh yeah I have twins!

I should mention to anyone who is new to my blog, that I have two older kids too. An nine-year-old and a seven year old. Which as you can probably imagine, is a very busy life.

So here it is…

There is this sense of relief when I remember I have twins. The fact that I never had the choice to ease into four kids. The fact that I never had three kids and thought, let’s have one more.

Because in those moments, where I feel completely outnumbered and overwhelmed, I find comfort in the fact that I did not choose to jump from two to four.

Now before I get in too deep with this confession, I want to say that moms with four kids, or multiples are not “more of a mom” than moms with one, or two, or three kids. Moms with one kid have their own set of challenges, I get that. In fact I often tell parents that one was WAY harder than four, (no built in playmates, everything is a first, and there’s too much time to overthink every decision).

But we are busier. It’s a mathematical fact.

We have to bring four kids in from the car, who are cranky and hungry and just want to challenge us. We have to do four bedtimes, with four different sleep challenges. We have to satisfy four different appetites and keep track that each one ate at least something other than bread each day. We have four yearly dentist, doctor and eye-doctor appointments. Four different school and friend challenges… and the list goes on and on.

Every fall, here in Canada, we have to track down four sets of mitts, hats, winter coats, boots and snow pants, whether its digging through hand-me-down bins, or running from store to store not settling until you find snow pants with reinforced knee-patches, to save yourself a mid-winter shopping trip.

So, there it is. That’s the truth. It’s out there now.

But here’s the good thing… I wouldn’t have it any other way. I may have not chosen this path to four children, but I am so glad that I was dealt this hand.

Being a mom of four, and twins, has forced me to grow in ways that without my children, I would have never done. It has made me realize that it’s okay to give myself grace when I’ve had a rough day, and be kind to myself when it all feels like a lot.

On the hardest days I, ( after sometimes loosing my cool a little), will remind myself that letting go of perfection, and loving my family fiercely is almost always the solution.

I’m actually enjoying Christmas vacation… well, so far

toddler playing with doll

I am a routine freak. I don’t try to hide it. I need my routine. When pulled out of it, even for a weekend, I unravel.

But here I am, Thursday December 28th, and I am intact, mentally sound, and have not crumbled. Not even during the three straight days of family events, (some with two events per day). Nope, I’m as cool as a cucumber over here.

At least for now.

Maybe this is the sign of the times. I have emerged from the baby haze and can actually cope with life. Okay, okay, our twins went back to full-time daycare yesterday, so maybe I am cheating just a little. But hey, I have learned what works for our family, and I am taking full advantage of childcare so that Mike and I can spend some rare one-on-one time with our big kids.

Christmas morning

Despite the plethora of toys our kids were given for Christmas, I have still heard, “I’m bored,” already at least ten times. My response… saying you’re bored buys you a ticket to play in the mounds of snow in our backyard. This redirects them pretty quickly, especially since it is -23° C outside here in Canada.

So, I survived Christmas. It was pretty great actually, despite some kids getting over colds, and Beau having a bad fall on Christmas morning. It was mostly magical. I’ve added our last couple vlogs below in case you want to catch up on our Christmas vacation.

Fingers crossed I keep going with the flow, and can survive the next week. But for now I am going to enjoy the all-day pj rule, the midday movie outings (we saw Wonder today, it was incredible), and Mike and my evening movie dates enjoying our new basement home theatre.

kids playing

I hope you are surviving the holidays too, and are finding the unstructured days manageable. Fingers crossed!