Look To the Western Sky

A blog about single life as a parent & the dreams of a writer by Margo L. Dill

Put the Parenting Magazines Down and Step Away Carefully

One day, my friend Julie said, “Have you seen the latest issue of (Insert some wonderful parenting magazine here) and their suggestions for back-to-school lunches?”

The funny thing is I had seen that article–I think it must have been a free issue sent to many houses, and I remember thinking: Do people really make these types of entrees for their child’s school lunch? Coconut and raisin pita roll up?  Almond butter and banana sandwich on 12-grain bread? Homemade minestrone soup? And do children eat these dishes? Where have I gone wrong?

Julie brought me back to reality. “My children basically eat cheese and crackers. Or their potato chips.”

Yes, now you are speaking my language.

I’m not sure who writes parenting magazine articles. Their bios state they are a parent of 12 or triplets, or they have adopted children from several different countries around the world, but I’m not sure if I believe them. Or maybe their bios are the only true part of the entire page, because really, who lives their lives like the parents in parenting magazines?

Let’s take a couple of headlines for example:

25 Ways to Make the Holidays Special 

First, no headline of any parenting magazine should ever have more than 5 tips for anything, and even 5 is semi-overwhelming. Do you really need to read a magazine article about how to make the holidays special? Aren’t they special all on their own? Isn’t it magical as a kid to think of the big guy in a red suit coming down the chimney, eating your homemade chocolate chip cookies and drinking your milk, and leaving you presents that you asked for? It’s also special that your entire family gets together and eats a meal, and maybe even plays a game instead of watching Netflix. Driving around and looking at Christmas lights or watching a Christmas movie snuggled under a blanket is special! Trust me. You don’t need a magazine article to tell you how to make this magical time of the year magical. You can figure this out all on  your own with the same things your mom did for you BEFORE there were articles like this at your fingertips or pinned to your Pinterest board.

Is Your Child Getting Enough Sleep?

Please don’t read an article like this. If you are clicking on this article to see if your child is getting enough sleep, then the answer is probably that your child is not getting enough sleep. Enough said.

How to Play with Your Child

I am all for articles that might introduce new games or even craft ideas (if they are easy) for you and your child. But do you really need an article that tells you HOW to play with your child at an age-appropriate level? No, you really don’t. It will just stress you out. You will be ridden with anxiety after reading this article and wonder constantly if you are playing with your child correctly and stimulating him or her enough to become smart enough to get into the best preschool. And don’t worry, there are articles galore (10 Ways to Tell if Your Preschool is On the Cutting Edge) to help you stress out about this, too.

SO what should you read?

I really feel like Mommy blogs, such as The Tribe Magazine  or Scary Mommy , are much more realistic and helpful. Some of you may be shaking your head. But just like Pinterest and sometimes the Facebook fantasy world we all portray are too much for me, I can’t believe that people live their everyday lives like these writers for parenting magazines portray. I can’t believe that people need articles telling them 12 ways to diaper their child or 13 toys that help your baby reach super intelligence.

So please, do yourself a favor (and the rest of us, too). Step slowly away from the parenting magazines and love your child because you are the only one who knows how to do that the best.

 

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8 Comments

  1. So true. Decorating magazines make me feel the same way. If you visit my house, don’t look under the sofa or in the closet. That’s where everything’s been stashed to fool people into thinking I’m an excellent housekeeper.

  2. Do kids actually eat that kind of stuff? Yes, some kids do. I don’t know if it was just luck of the draw, but my kid will mostly eat like an adult. She loves fruits and vegetables best and steers away from things like cheese. I did make an effort when she was very young to expose her to everything instead of just the traditional “kid friendly” things – maybe that helped. It does make for an expensive meal when we go out because she never orders off the kid menu.

    Is your child getting enough sleep? I like to think she should go to be early enough that she wakes up on her own when it’s time for her to get up. Again, maybe luck of the draw that my kid doesn’t sleep as much, but I don’t have any trouble waking her up when it is time to get up.

    How to play with your child? I could actually use some help in this area. I feel bad that I don’t still have that childish urge to just play. I wish I could get it back.

    Over all though, I agree with you.

    • I know some kids eat much better than mine, and I did give her all sorts of things when she was a baby. She ate them all until about 18 months, and then started refusing stuff. The good news is she eats a pretty good variety of fruits and vegetables, and does eat turkey and ham. I guess maybe my complaint is more about the amount of time and planning it would take to actually make those lunches. I also try to put a variety of foods in her lunch. But even with that, sometimes i get on a streak of one or two items. The kid has carrots every day.

      I’m not sure if any of us have a childish urge to play. Some things are easier to play than others, such as games and arts/crafts. My mom is awesome at playing things like Barbies. All I want to do is dress them up and fix their hair. We all have strengths in different areas, and I think I will write a blog post about using your strengths to connect with your child and maybe getting outside of your comfort zone every once in a while.

  3. I love this. It is like a PSA for overwhelmed parents. Maybe your niche in writing can be, keeping it real with Margo. Thanks for the perspective.

  4. Loved your blog. The only parenting advice I ever read that I thought was helpful was the following way to diaper a baby.

    Lay a square diaper on the table with you as an umpire in a baseball game. One corner of the diaper is home plate. Grab second base and fold diaper in half with second base on top of home plate. Put the baby’s bottom on the pitcher’s mound. Fold first base and third base over the baby’s tummy. Pull home plate up and pin it to first and third bases.

    People have raised children for centuries without a “How to” manual. Most of you will do great playing it by ear. I agree wholeheartedly about how many items should go on a list. Where kids are concerned:
    If they are hungry – feed them, if they are sleepy – let them nap, if the are sick – take the to the doctor, if they want to play – it will usually be with the box the toy came in.

    And I don’t believe those crazy articles either.

    • That diaper comparison to a baseball field would appeal to many dads!

      Judy: one thing I used to always say, especially when she was young–how did the pioneers raise their kids? They didn’t need all this stuff. LOL

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