Dear Parent of 2016

Hey Loves!  I hope everyone is having a great week. Growing up, the Birken house was always the place to be for playdates and sleepovers. It is hard for me to remember a time when there was less than 1o children running around the house. Every weekend, Alison and I would invite our closest friends to our home for the ultimate sleepover. Picture it, four 13 year old girls planning out their next crazy adventure.  This particular Saturday night was a big night, we were going to create THE ULTIMATE WATERSLIDE. We ran around the house finding dish soap, shampoo, and anything else that would decrease the friction between the floor and our pool rafts. After doucing the floors in slippery substance, we ran outside to get the closest hose. Yes a hose!  We spent hours slipping and sliding down the great hallway of our house! To say that it was one of our best sleepovers would be a gross understatement. Although my mom never let on that she knew about our indoor water park, I can’t imagine the huge pile of wet soapy towels in the laundry room didn’t tip her off.

You could always find one of the Birken children outside, shoeless, filthy, creating a fort or building a castle. Although our parents stressed the importance of respect and responsibility, rules and restrictions were not a huge part of our upbringing. Being a parent today is much different then when our parents raised us. When I became a mother, I felt this incredible amount of pressure. Parenting had become a competitive sport. If I wasn’t doing flashcards to increase Mason’s vocabulary or have him on a special diet, I wasn’t being the best mom I could be. Unfortunately the world has changed dramatically since we grew up, and we are forced as parents to make difficult decisions. As we have entered a time of rules, diets, and restrictions, I feel like we might be losing the magic of parenthood! So for 2016, here are my resolutions and I hope you will join me!

Stick to your instinct. In medical school, we are taught what to look for in a research study to determine what is a valid conclusion. Unfortunately today, you google something and there are fifteen studies telling what you need to do. Most of which do not have large study groups or valid parameters. As parents, there is no one that knows what will work for your child better than you. I am not saying the internet isn’t a great reference, but don’t allow it to overwhelm you or do something that you feel in you heart isn’t right for your child.

Enjoy Parenthood.  There are times we become so stressed out with the decisions that we are making for our children, that we forget to enjoy the little moments with them. My favorite memories with my children are cuddling on the couch, watching their favorite TV show, or surprising them after school and getting frozen yogurt with all their favorite toppings. We get such a small amount of time with them, make it special!

Let Kids be Kids.  Being that I am a pediatrician, my main focus for my children has always been safety and health. But their emotional well-being and happiness is just as important. They have their whole lives to be worried about processed food, schedules, and responsibility. Although I understand and appreciate the importance of piano lesson and spanish class, I feel it is equally important to have sleepovers, a piece of birthday cake, and an extra hour past bedtime to watch the end of the football game with their dad. I want my children to look back at their childhood and have amazing memories filled with great adventures and fun.

Don’t lose sight of yourself.  It is so easy to lose yourself when you become parent. You get buried in the responsibilities of the grind and forget to take care of yourself. But the reality is that the more balanced and happy you are as a person, the better colleague, friend, partner, and parent you become. There are so many resources out there to help us become more balanced, which are time efficient and free. We feel guilty taking time to ourselves, but it is nesscary to maintain our mental health. Whether it is a 25 minute workout video, meditation, or even waking up 30 minutes earlier to have a cup of coffee and a quiet start to the day, as we enter 2016, try to discover what brings you the most peace and incorporate it into your weekly routine.

Here at Forever Freckled, our articles are primarily focused on the health of our children and pets. I thought it would be nice to start 2016, focusing on ourselves. I am excited to announce that in the month of January, we will be celebrating the parents all month. I found some amazing experts and every Wednesday in the month of January, they will giving us tips and tactics to better ourselves and our relationships in 2016.  A little less than a year ago, my sisters and I launched this little blog to help parents with their journey.  We can’t thank everyone enough for all the love and support we have received.  2016 is going to be an exciting year for Forever Freckled and we can’t wait to share all of our new journeys with you.  Wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year!

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