5 Reasons Why We Need To Stop Playing The Comparison Game In Parenthood.

“Wow, he didn’t walk until 16 months? That is SO LATE!”

“My child had 20 words before they were 2. Isn’t that what they’re supposed to have?”

“Oh he isn’t crawling yet? Aren’t you concerned?”

“She’s still not talking in two word sentences. But your child is, I don’t understand why!”

If you’re a mom of young children or just a mom in general, chances are you’ve been a part of these conversations. You’ve probably had similar things said to you as you stand around at the park watching your child play with other kids.

It’s all too familiar isn’t it?

What am I talking about that makes me want to walk away from these conversations with other moms?

Comparison.

I talked about this very thing a few weeks ago in my instagram stories because it’s something that is as common as your toddler’s 10 AM poop every morning. We’ve all done it and we’ve all had it done to us. I’m not talking about having a chat with a close friend and discussing concerns you might have about your own child. That’s entirely different. I’m talking about feeling the need to constantly compare your child to other children in terms of what they are (or aren’t doing) to reassure yourself.

If you didn’t catch my insta stories, then I’ll tell you now how I really feel about it.

I think it’s a huge waste of time and it’s NOT important.

Today I’m going to share in more detail WHY.

  • Comparison can create unnecessary competition. This is inevitable . When parents stand around and start talking about what their kids are doing or developing in, it will without a doubt stir up feelings of competition. When did parenthood become about whose child does “X Y Z” the soonest, fastest or most efficiently? All of sudden we’re worried about our child performing in a certain way because little Bobby had 40 words before the age of two. This sense of competition can strain relationships with friends, family AND our own children. None of which is healthy from a relational standpoint.
  • Comparison can create unhealthy expectations. THIS is really important. If you don’t take anything else away from this post, please consider this point. When we get caught up in this comparison trap we can place heavy, unrealistic expectations on our own kids. This is not fair to them. As a former ECE, someone who studied early childhood development in college and then spent many subsequent years working with young children, I’m here to tell you that children develop uniquely based on a variety of factors. Is there a standard of development for babies, toddlers and children? Yes. I’m NOT saying you shouldn’t take your child to a doctor/specialist if you suspect developmental delays. What I am saying is it can be damaging to our children to continually compare them to others. Ask a therapist. Ask them what they counsel many adults about. It’s often the damage that person felt as child being constantly compared to others, never feeling good enough. That is serious. Consider the weight of your words and expectations with your children. What is most important to you as a parent? Don’t make your affection and love something that your child has to earn based on how they perform or what they do.
  • Our child’s development actually has little to do with our abilities as parents. We NEED to hear this as parents! We think that because we did (or do) X Y Z our children are little geniuses. OR it’s the reason WHY they aren’t doing this or that. Whether your child was walking at 9 months or 18 months does NOT make you a GOOD or BAD parent. It doesn’t mean anything. Children are intrinsically motivated to develop certain skills and abilities based on their OWN unique personalities. If you have one child right now, it might be difficult to see this. But if you have more down the road, you will see the differences in your children and learn that personality has so much to do with what children are motivated to learn.
  • Comparison can reveal our DEEP insecurities. This point is interesting. When I’ve had these conversations with other parents, I often start to see what exactly they are insecure about. I’m not a therapist or counsellor but it isn’t difficult to feel the weight of someone’s insecurities in the conversations you have with them. If you personally find yourself caught up in comparison, worrying about what your child is (or isn’t) doing and always talking about it, I would encourage you to seek counsel. Again, I’m NOT a professional but I think it can only do good to talk through our own insecurities as parents, if they are consuming us and negatively impacting our parenting. This is also why, when you have these conversations with other parents and start to feel overwhelmed you can say, ” Your insecurities are NOT my insecurities.” Maybe don’t say it out loud, but you can have some understanding as to WHY so many people struggle with comparison. It’s often deeply rooted in insecurity that can stem from a variety of causes.
  • Comparison is a waste of precious time, at the end of the day. Moms and dads, I’m here to tell you-it’s just not as important as you might think it is. I’m not saying you shouldn’t care how your child is developing. But remember, much of how children develop in their early years has little bearing on their lives in the long term.

What if you feel like you’re really stuck in this vicious cycle of comparison with your child? I have a few ideas that you could try to shut it down and start changing the way you think.

  • Look at your child’s qualities, abilities and skills as unique to them. Appreciate what they ARE doing, focus on those things and work with them.

  • Talk with someone about your own insecurities. I’ve been professionally counselled before and it was one of the best decisions of my life. I know two different (wonderful) local Psychotherapists who work with parents, children, and offer maternal mental health support, specifically. Contact me if you want their information!
  • Start purposing today to just love your child without expectations. Embrace who God made them to be. Let go of who you think they should be and what they should be doing. Imagine how freeing this can be for you and your family!

I’m on this journey, with you. I understand the trap that comparison can be. I understand the pride, insecurities and frustration that comes with parenting. We ALL want the best for our children! We want them to succeed in life. Don’t beat yourself up if you struggle with this, I’ve been there! A tell tale sign that you struggle with it could be that you feel the need to constantly prove to other’s that your child is developing normally. Hey, it’s ok. Just take a deep breath!

It’s a one day at a time process and we’ll all get there. You’re doing a great job!

If these thoughts resonate with you, I’d LOVE to hear from you in the comments.

To The Mama Struggling With Second Child Guilt.

I’ll never forget Family Day 2018. I sat in my bathroom with a pregnancy test in hand watching those two lines form quickly. While I suspected I was pregnant prior to taking a test, there is still something about the finality of a confirmed positive pregnancy test.

That next weekend was my birthday. I spent the majority of the weekend crying and holding my 5 and 1/2 month old. I felt alone, overwhelmed and most of all-I felt incredibly guilty.

Sparing the details of how I became pregnant so quickly (because frankly no-one should ever be asking that question) after the birth of my first, you can gander a wild guess-it wasn’t expected. Unplanned? No. All babies are part of a beautiful plan. But unexpected? Yes.

Mom guilt.

We all have it. It varies in it’s forms. Mom guilt is as complex and as diverse as we are.

The heavy guilt that I carried for many months into my second pregnancy and that even now, I still struggle with is an unwanted companion. Initially, I was consumed by the guilt of not feeling excited about my unexpected pregnancy. While many struggle to conceive, here I am pregnant again. 5 and 1/2 months postpartum. I wasn’t thrilled at the thought of being sick again for months on end. I was just starting to sleep more at night, now that my son was sleep trained. I wasn’t overjoyed at the thought of my body changing all over again.

Hudson James

Another complex part of my guilt was that I was still struggling with extreme postpartum anxiety from the birth of my first child. Hadn’t my son been robbed of enough? He’d already experienced enough difficult days with my overwhelming emotions. Our bond was not immediate upon his arrival. While I loved my first son from the moment I saw him, our bond was not an immediate thing. As I faced the toll that pregnancy would take on my body and mind again, he too would inevitably be affected by my struggles. In many ways, I felt as if I had lost the chance to deepen my bond with my first child because our time together was cut short.

As I imagined, being pregnant while raising a still very young infant, was harder than anything I’d ever done. Medication helped control my sickness but nothing helped the overwhelming fatigue. Nothing changed that my son would go through developmental milestones I was too tired to appreciate. Nothing changed the sheer physical load I had to bear as I carried a very large child within my body AND on the outside of my body. It didn’t matter that I was heavily pregnant and still getting up with my son in the night when he had sleep disturbances.

The night before my oldest son’s first birthday, I snuck into his room long after he fell asleep, took him from his crib and held him, while I silently cried. I stroked his soft blonde hair and lightly kissed his chubby, full cheeks. I marvelled at his size. I couldn’t believe he was a year old, already. The guilt consumed me that night. I had gritted my teeth through the latter half of his infancy. Not because I resented him or the baby I was carrying. It was because I often resented myself for my lack of perspective.

As my second pregnancy neared the end, I never doubted that I was ready to meet who I thought was going to be our daughter. It was a mistaken guess by the ultrasound technician but we had another boy. Truth be told? I was relieved. If anything, I already knew what to expect in many ways with another boy.

Jack David.

My bond with Jack was immediate and surprising to me. While Hudson is strong, independent, emotionally assertive and rarely affectionate, his brother Jack is incredibly affectionate, easygoing and steady. I initially felt guilty that Jack was (and is) an easier child than his older brother. But I’ve come to reconcile that their differences do not make them better than the other. They are wholly different yet the same because they came from me and my husband. I celebrate how different they are.

The transition to having 2 babies who were fourteen months apart was life changing. Because of my postpartum anxiety, everything felt difficult. Going places by myself with the boys felt like an impossible task. The sheer thought of being alone in the evenings while my husband often worked late, was enough to cause a panic attack. The weeks following Jack’s birth were very busy. I tried diligently to hide from others that I was moments from a massive breakdown and only my husband saw the depth of that. I often felt like I was barely treading water. Our little family went through some of the most difficult months of our lives.

As you can imagine the guilt came back with overwhelming force. I would watch my oldest, now transitioning from baby to toddler. I felt guilt as I watched him become, just become-so much quicker. I knew I was missing moments as I felt overwhelmed with the care of another baby. When did he learn to say that? When did he start doing that? I would watch other families that have only one child, around the age of my oldest son. I would feel envy as they experienced every singular milestone in it’s joy.

I have also felt judgement.

I am the hurried mom. I am the distracted mom at the park as I try to manage an infant and toddler. I’m the frustrated and flustered mom. I’m the get to the point mom. I am the- I don’t have time to shoot the breeze while both my kids scream for their naps, mom. I’m the mom who turns on the TV all day sometimes. I’m the mom who sometimes yells. I am the swear like a sailor when I’m stressed out, mom. I’m the exhausted mom who forgets her loads of laundry for days in the dryer because why? Because I’m caring for two other little people whose needs often feel formidable.

But amidst all this guilt, I’ve asked myself a question. What is most important? I think about the wonderful things that my oldest son is already learning, so early in life. He is learning patience, compassion and consideration. He will never not know a time in his life when he was my only baby. And while that thought may bring me sadness at times- is it more important that my oldest son have the childhood that I think he deserves? What would that even look like?

I have this to say.

The companions of motherhood do not have to be guilt and comparison.

What do these terrible companions do but rob us of precious moments with our children? It’s inevitable that we will all feel some guilt in regards to our children at some point during their existence. But to be wholly consumed is another monster altogether. Heed my caution. Do not let it overtake you. It isn’t worth it.

While my observations are nothing miraculous or new, my journey is mine. I am learning to live in the now and embrace the mother that I am, imperfections and all. I do not relish the guilt. I do not desire the comparison. I am learning to surrender these things I carry to a very faithful, kind, merciful and patient God.

When I look at my sons, it heals another part of me. I often marvel at how God gave me the gifts of my sons and I gave my sons the gift of one another. I can’t imagine life without the both of them, here together. That truth can effectively silence the voice of all guilt.

What is your story? I’d love to hear from you.

5 Natural Ways I Support My Family’s Health During Times of Illness.

My husband always says that the best way to get a healthy person sick is send them to the doctor’s office. I agree with that sentiment. Especially after recently being at my doctor’s for a post-baby follow up and then a recent stint in emerge with my youngest son. SO many sick people! Yikes!

If you’ve been following my blog for a while or if you know me personally, you’ll already know that I tend to lean towards a holistic, natural approach to health. We do not participate in the seasonal flu shot, a personal decision based in part on my own injury I sustained from the flu shot in my early 20’s. Did you know that the CDC’s estimate of the 2018-2019 Flu Shot’s effectiveness was only 29% for all ages (and strains) and only 24% in children ages 6 months to 8 years? (source)

If you choose to get the flu shot I would highly recommend researching the dangerous complications that can be involved with the flu shot as well as the possibilities of viral shedding associated with it. That is my own personal opinion based on my own research and education. Feel free to disagree, I’m not offended! I’d be happy to share my resources on this topic, if you are interested.

This blog is not intended to replace medical advice. I am not a licensed medical professional nor do I claim to be. Always consult with your chosen medical professional when needing medical advice for illness.

Here are 5 ways I protect and promote good health in our home:

  • I protect our sleep. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute says, “Your immune system relies on sleep to stay healthy. This system defends your body against foreign or harmful substances. Ongoing sleep deficiency can change the way in which your immune system responds. For example, if you’re sleep deficient, you may have trouble fighting common infections.” (source)   I sleep train. I think it’s important to get good, restorative sleep however you can, in your family. That will look different for every family. For us this is sleep training, set bedtimes and making sleep a top priority. Sleep is critical to good health and we’ve seen this! I respect their schedules and I plan my day around their sleep. Literally. As adults in our home, we try to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night and it’s made a huge difference in our resistance to illness. However you can get good sleep in your home, I wish you the best!

  • I keep our exposure to germs to a minimum.  We stay home quite a bit during times when illness seems to spike around us. Because it’s possible that people around us receiving the influenza vaccine are able to shed the virus, we tend to bunker down that time of year and support our immune systems by avoiding exposure to the virus. Are we still exposed to germs? Of course! Do we get sick? Yes. Has anyone had the flu in our family? No. We’ve battled some colds and upper respiratory infections but my children have never had chronic bouts of diarrhea and vomiting that is associated with influenza. I myself have not had the flu since I stopped receiving the vaccine years ago. I’m not saying it’s impossible for us to catch the flu but if we do, we will be prepared. We also practice good hygiene by diligently washing our hands and disinfecting the home with my homemade non-toxic cleaning products! I also label the boys’ nose Frieda’s and soothers to cut down on the transmission of germs, with my Brother Label Maker.

  • Elderberry syrup, vitamin D and probiotics. When Hudson turned 1, I started giving him elderberry syrup, which is full of antioxidants, helpful in boosting the immune system during times of illness. It typically has raw honey in it so I waited until he was at least a year old. Both boys get probiotics and vitamin D to promote a healthy gut and immune system. I also take these things and have found success with boosting my immunity when I’m feeling run down. This is the probiotic I use with the boys and Vitamin D as well.

  • Essential Oils– Throughout my blog you’ll find oils linked that are brands I use and trust. During cold and flu season I like to diffuse cinnamon, clove, tea tree, lavender, or peppermint for immune support. Roman Chamomile and Copaiba are great oils for infants and toddlers. I am very careful with dilution around my babies and I would recommend researching dilution guidelines.

  • Chiropractic Care- This alone has been significant in the health of our family. I literally can not recommend it enough. When Jack was sick, it was only after being adjusted that we saw his very high fever break and gradually come down on it’s own. I personally didn’t grow up with it but once I started going I don’t know how I managed my entire life without it!

Not listed but incredibly important is proper nutrition for keeping a strong immune system. This is a journey for us as a family. We don’t typically eat organic foods but are slowly working our way towards buying more local meat and produce. We are aiming to cut down on refined sugars and grains and choose more nutrient dense food. Food alone is a powerful tool in the way our bodies fight illness.

I love a holistic approach to health because it’s taught me to listen closely to my body. Since my children can’t tell me how they feel, I’ve learned to watch them and weigh things. I do not deny my children access to medical care and they have been seen by doctors when they’ve been sick. I take illness seriously but I also arm myself with information so I can better understand how to support our immune systems.

I think researching things in regards to health is more than important. It’s necessary in order to make well informed choices. It takes a lot of time and effort. I find time to study and research things because I want to make well informed decisions. I can’t stress enough-do all the research! *And you don’t have to have a degree or a certain level of education to inform yourself, FYI. If I can do it, you can too =)

Do you practice natural ways to support your family’s immune system? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Edited September 2019

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My Top 5 Must Haves With 2 Babies Under 2.

EDITED as of May 31, 2019.

Here we are, a few months postpartum after my second and I’m surviving having two babies who are 14 months apart. Yes, you read that correctly! I share here what our daily routine looks like and I talk about our transition into have 2 under 2 here with a few tips and tricks!

So here are my top MUST HAVES of baby gear to help life go a little smoother when you’ve got 2 babies really close together in age. Many of these things apply to the early weeks and months when life feels like a constant gong show. You need all the help you can get!

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  • A GREAT camera monitor or two. We have the Levana and the Foscam R2C. Both were gifts that we asked for. We used the Levana with our first up until after we moved his baby brother into his own room. Then we set up the Foscam in big brother’s room. Let’s talk about the Levana. It retails for $129.99 CAD. It’s not cheap but for a baby monitor camera it does exactly what it’s supposed to. You can mount it to the wall and it comes with all the hardware for that. My parents bought us the Foscam RC2 off Amazon for around $60 USD. This camera does not come with a monitor but connects with your wireless internet and you download the APP onto your smartphone. You can then access all the camera’s features through the app.

  • A Swing, bouncy seat or MamaRoo type thing. I have found that my babies benefit from different types of gear. My first son loved the bouncy seat. Both boys also slept in this swing the first couple months of their lives. I scored a MamaRoo secondhand for a great price. Go for second hand or borrow baby gear if you can. The majority of our baby gear is second hand because if one of my kids hates it, I’m not out lots of money. I plan to resell ALL our baby gear when the time comes. Win win!

  • A baby carrier you like. I have 3 different types of baby carriers because it’s nice to try out different ones. I have the boba wrap, the baby bjorn and the Ergo Baby. Neither of my boys seemed to like the wrap style carrier. I’ve found the Bjorn and Ergo to be the easiest ones for me to use.

  • A GOOD double stroller. We’ve gone through 3 strollers to get to the right one. I wanted to reuse the infant carseat we’d had with Hudson as it hadn’t expired yet. I ended up with Phil&Ted’s Sport double for awhile. It’s tandem but stacked. The double kit allows you to put baby on top or bottom/toddler on top or bottom. You also have the option of buying a universal adaptor so that your carseat will click in which was a big draw for me. I scored a used one that came with everything and while I loved this troller my boys eventually did NOT. They didn’t seem to like the tandem aspect of the stroller. I also didn’t like that the brake system on the P&. It was a handbrake like a bike. It hurt my hands and eventually got a little wonky. I just purchased a Contours Options brand new. It’s not as well made or streamline BUT my boys are super happy in it. It gets the job done and I don’t stress.

  1. Baby Gates. I have 3 of these simple, wooden baby gates. They are handy to have! Get some gates, you will thank yourself.

You will figure out what works for you but I know that when I was pregnant with my 2nd son, I was scouring the internet for tips on what made life easier with 2 under 2. I hope some of this helps!

What are some of your must haves with multiple kids in the house? How did you survive those early days? I’d love to hear from you!