2021 was the year that I broke as a parent (oh and 2020, too). The pandemic threw my family into a new rhythm that often felt like chaos. Some parts were magical, and some parts were awful. We navigated children growing through something we have never experienced before while they were growing into ages we have never experienced before. It was hard to know if the changes we saw were because of the pandemic or them just growing up (likely both). And, I really felt like I was the worst version of my parenting-self last year.
While I don’t expect to ever be perfect at it, I wanted more good days than I was having. So I turned to lots of various resources at the end of last year that have been helping. I can’t get into details of our situation as that’s not my sole story to tell. But if any of you have had a tough time with any of your kids lately, know that you aren’t alone. In case you need a little help, too, here are some resources that I found helpful…
There are SO many parenting books teaching about so many different parenting styles. (I learned during my baby-days that if a book doesn’t fall within your own general parenting philosophies, then that’s not the book for you.) A great way to preview books before you buy is to check them out from the library to see what you want to add to your permanent parenting book collection.
The Whole Brain Child – When I read books that tell you how to handle certain situations, I need to hear reasons why that approach is helpful. While I’m not a scientific person by nature, this was my go-to guide from the last quarter. I appreciate the twelve key strategies explained that foster healthy brain development, leading to calmer, happier children. The authors explain—and make accessible—the new science of how a child’s brain is wired and how it matures. Also, this is a great staple to have (I bought it after I borrowed it) because it covers a range of ages and has easy-to-reference guides to look back on.
Hunt, Gather, Parent – I haven’t finished this book yet, but I’m enjoying what I’ve learned so far and it is helping to break me of my typical parenting habits. The author studies Maya families in Mexico, Inuit families above the Arctic Circle, and Hadzabe families in Tanzania. She sees that these cultures don’t have the same problems with children that Western parents do. The parents build a relationship with young children that is vastly different from the one many Western parents develop. It’s made us incorporate our kids more into everyday routines and tasks.
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk – I haven’t read this one yet, but it’s always highly recommended from parenting experts that I follow. It helps to explain the best types of communication between parents and children includes fresh insights and suggestions, as well as the author’s time-tested methods to solve common problems and build foundations for lasting relationships.
It’s OK to Ask and Everyday Feels by A Kids Co are both geared towards kids to listen to. But they are meant to engage them in deeper conversations and give them space to open up which is always tough to do but so helpful when you’re dealing with big feelings with kids. These are great to listen together with your kids so you can discuss after!
Manifest Destini offers straight-to-the-point suggestions for communicating with kids in a fun and gentle way. Her tips make for easily-digestible nuggets focused on one common struggle at a time. You can also become part of her Patreon group for extra access and information. I also love how she approaches parenting advice for single parents drawing from her own experience.
Dr. Ann-Lousie Lockhart is a Psychologist and Parenting Coach who offers tips, classes, and tons of resources on parenting. She hosts the Everyday feels podcast mentioned above and has such a calming presence about her.
Dr. Becky was the first parenting Instagram account I started following in 2020 when the pandemic first threw me off and all my previous parenting techniques were no longer working. Dr. Becky offers a range of information through her social media, online classes, and podcasts that dive into various topics of parenting, providing examples and strategies. I find her especially helpful for navigating younger kids.
Horizontal Parenting: How to Entertain Your Kid While Lying Down – This is not a parenting advice book like some of the others I recommended, but instead is a truly hilarious (yet still practical) book for when you are just tired but still want to play with your kids. This makes a great gift, too, for a fellow tired parent!
MomComNYC – Alyce Chan, a stand-up comedian, does lots of spoofs and skits on her Instagram that just make me crack up. Because sometimes you just have to laugh (or cry) it off!
I’m no parenting expert (clearly!) but I do try to remember to give myself the grace to know that I will never be perfect at this, and some days will be awful. But if I can achieve more good days then not good ones and raise happy and kind children, then something is working (most of the time).
If you have any parenting resources you love, feel free to share them in the comments below!
Top photo by Casey Brodley for Oh Joy!