Kids may not come with mannuals, but there is plenty of reading material to help you along your parenting journey.
Before I actually became a parent, I thought I knew everything about kids and babies.
I had spent my tweens through early twenties babysitting, nannying and working in childcare and early education settings. In my mind I was a complete pro, and looking ahead towards parenthood simply seemed like a chance for me to show off my excellent skills.
Then I had a baby.
Not only did I quickly realize that I, in fact did not know everything there was to know about parenting, but I had a shit ton to learn.
While those early days of motherhood were a beast in and of themselves, it was the quick advancement towards toddlerhood that showed me I needed to adopt a growth mindset and get the heck to work to understand how to be the best parent I could be.
Many of the ideas and tools presented throughout this collection of literature requires some type of paradigm shift.
Most adults today would not describe the way they were parented as “peaceful” so we have to be willing to switch the script and try a new way.
Thankfully, what modern parents have to our advantage is the advancement in research across numerous disciplines which show us that new way. As Maya Angelou said, “when you know better, you do better.”
I hope you find something here that sparks your interest and helps you parent in a way that fills your home and your children with peace.
(If you're like me and find it easier to listen to books - make sure you have an Audible subscription!)
The Wonder Weeks : Based on large data sets, this book breaks down (almost to the exact day) the different stages of development during the first 18 months of life. The authors offer tips and advice for dealing with the fussiness that comes with these bursts of brain development, signs to look out for and ways to assist your baby in its journey to becoming a toddler. They also have a free app that will create a calendar for you based on your child’s due date. There is something magical about being able to label the extra crying, whining and clinginess as “leaping” and it really does help to build your empathy towards their inner experience.
While each book is unique and has its own gems of knowledge, I see them as a kind of quartet. These books are basically the Harry Potter series for frazzled, modern parents - you will be eager to work through all of them.
Written by the same authors - two neuroscience / psychology researchers, these books break down everyday parenting moments and help you better understand how to work with your child where they are at developmentally. They give easy to remember acronyms and phrases that can be just what you need when you are about to lose your cool and help you regain control of yourself and the situation at hand.
Again, this is a kind of boxed set. One that gives practical advice and tools that can be applied to everyday difficulties when caring for young children. This approach is based on letting go of the idea of punishment as a means to teach children desired behavior and instead focuses on positive reinforcement.
No Bad Kids : The actual questions from parents, along with the respectful approach in the author’s answers make this one of my absolute favorite parenting books. She also does a great podcast that follows a similar format.
The Montessori Toddler : Complete with cute illustrations, example photos, and a killer playdough recipe - this book teaches you how to apply Montessori principles and practices at home. Even if you don’t plan to take on the activities in the book it is worth the read for the many ideas on how to foster independence and self confidence within your child. The “say this instead of that” chart in the appendix has been open on my desk for a month just as a gentle reminder.
The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting : This audio highlights so many of the lessons taught in the books based in neuroscience, but comes from a social science framework. The acknowledgement that there are no perfect parents implied in the title is just the tip of the iceberg from this soulful and inspiring set of principles we can all start applying in our everyday interactions with our kids. A must read.
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk : Total transparency, I am still in the beginning chapters of this one, but it has been pushed by mothering heroes of mine (and my pediatrician) for as long as I can remember. Let’s bookclub?
This list is long and it can feel impossible to make it through one, let alone 11 books when you have mouths to feed, laundry to fold and a house to keep (somewhat) clean, which is why listening can be a great option!
Having an Audible subscription can keep you moving right along through this list while you drive, make dinner, tidy up - or whatever else is keeping your hands busy!
Happy reading (or listening!),