5 Step Parenting Confessions

Truth About Step Parenting
Step parents come in as many variations as any other kind of parent. Some are good and some are bad. Just like all other forms of parenting and child rearing, step parenting is often highly misunderstood, under appreciated, and over stereotyped.

I have been a primary parental figure in my oldest child's life since he was around 18 months old. I wasn't officially his step mom for a few more years, but I have always taken a motherly role in his life.

I have always hated labeling myself as a step parent because I don't feel like it justly represents my role and all that I do. As we've all grown together as a family and issues have come and gone, I've thought of the realities of step parenting.

Step parenting is lonely.

My husband can't really understand. My closest friends cannot relate. The other step parents I know mostly play a secondary parenting role. In my experience, sometimes it is really lonely being a step parent. People can't really understand, unless they've been there.

Even if you know other step parents, they might not take on the same role in their step child's life that you do. Therefore, they can't understand your struggles or they're completely baffled by the issue(s) you face.

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Confessions of a Step Mom

People second guess you.

Even though I've been a step parent longer than I biological parent... And even though I loved my step child since before I had biological children... Well, sometimes people second guess my intent, my love, etc. when it comes to my step child and decisions I make or my actions. Now, I've been around for a while, so this isn't as common now. However, it still happens. It's still as aggravating as ever.

You second guess yourself.

Given my previous point and the judgement that can sometimes be passed after somebody perceives I've miss stepped, I have found myself second guessing myself. Or evaluating, after the fact, whether or not I gave the impression that all my children are loved fairly and equally. I know that love them all! But it's sometimes hard not to second guess your decisions when people seem to be so critically evaluating them.

Step Parenting Truths

You're extra hard on yourself.

With all the passed judgement and sometimes second guessing yourself, it's not too much of a stretch to believe that you're extra hard on yourself when you're a step parent. I have found myself beating myself up over minuscule meaningless things and really just making a big deal out of nothing because I want to be a perfect parent (whether it's step or bio parent, who cares?!).

Related Post: 20 Pieces of Terrible Parenting Advice

It's worth it!

This post isn't suppose to just be all Debbie Downer on step parenting! It really is a beautiful, wonderful privilege with it's own set of rewards! I am so grateful for all my children and really step parenting prepared me for the children I later conceived and has taught me so much I wouldn't have otherwise known. I'm blessed that my heart if fuller because I am blessed with more than just the children I created!

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10 Awesome Pieces of Parenting Advice

10 Awesome Parenting Tips
Recently, I posted about some terrible parenting advice incidents of fellow moms and dads.  However, not all advice (no matter how annoying it is) is bad advice.

Sometimes, someone gives us the golden goose of information.  Parenting advice may, often, be annoying but it can be wonderful!

Some of these gems are very cliche and heard again and again.  However, when taken to heart, they really are gems and wonderful parenting advice!

Great Parenting Advice

10 Simply Awesome Parenting Advice Gems

  1. Pick your battles.
  2. Do what works, until it doesn't.  Then do something different.
  3. Don't sweat the small stuff.
  4. The days are long, but the years are short.
  5. Follow your instincts.
  6. Do what's best for your family, no matter what everyone else is doing.
  7. It's important to take time for you (the parent).
  8. Don't force the potty training.
  9. Don't listen to all the advice.
  10. Let Daddy be part of the team, too!
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Advice for Parent

See? It's not all bad!

What is the best piece of parenting advice you've ever received?

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20 Pieces of Terrible Parenting Advice

A Collection of Terrible Parenting Advice
Personally, the first piece of advice that I give to first time parents is to be prepared for all the unwanted, unsolicited parenting advice from everyone.

Some of it will be good.

Some of it will be downright awful.

Much of it will be given with good intentions. And just as much will be unwanted or unneeded, regardless of the intent.

So, with people handing out advice like candy on Halloween... How are overjoyed, overwhelmed, first time parents suppose to know what is good advice and what is terrible?

 Better yet, how is any parent (because the advice doesn't stop whether you have 1 or 10 kids) suppose to know?

You don't.

You just don't.

I have a love/hate relationship with parenting advice.

So my second piece of advice (yep, I'm somewhat of a hypocrite) to parents would be that there is no right way and to make educated decisions about their own child(ren).

The other day in a group I'm in, some moms were sharing the best and worst advice they've ever received. It was so terrible and wonderful, that I've compiled this awesome list for you of the worse ones! Feel free to laugh hysterically and/or yell 'WTF!' at your screen.

Baths and Potty Advice

1. When you bathe your baby, don't get too much water in the creases or they will get moldy.
2. Babies are self cleaning for the first year.  No need to bathe.
3. Put poop on her thumb so she'll stop sucking it.

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Feeding Advice

4. If you don't drink cow's milk everyday, your body won't make milk for your baby.
5. Vegans can't breastfeed.
6. Your newborn is gassy from too much breastmilk.  Give them some water
7. Nurse on a schedule.
8. Breastfeeding after baby is 6 month old is pointless because baby doesn't get any benefits after that and it's for your own sick pleasure if you continue to do so.

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Babies Are Self Cleaning and other bad advice Sleep Advice

9. If you can't handle your baby crying it out, turn off your baby monitor.  If (s)he pukes, you can clean it up in the morning.
10. Put your preemie on her tummy to sleep.
11. Give your kids benadryl if they won't sleep. 6 weeks old? 6 months old?  Who cares?
12. Give your 6 week old cereal in their bottle, so they'll wake up less to eat.

Related Post: Weaning & 6 Nursing Triggers

Miscellaneous Advice

13. Children are to be seen and not heard.
14. Don't pick up your baby every time they cry or they'll be spoiled.
15. Holding your baby too much will hurt her.
16. I've already raised this many kids, so I know better/more than you do.
17. Babies need daycare so they can socialize.
18. Spank your kids who disobey.  Spank them harder.  Spank them until you break their spirit.
19. Loosen his car seat straps, so he can move around more.
20. It is a disservice to your child to homeschool.

Best or worse parenting advice you've ever received?

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5 Tips to Survive College as a Mom

Surviving College as a Mom
Motherhood and college, individually, are life challenges that are both exhausting and rewarding. However, combine the two and you have an even more delicate dance to keep life in balance. College moms might be young, new mothers (like myself) or might be mothers of older children or even grandmothers. Student moms also vary from those who have never attended college to those who are returning for a new career path or to further their current career.

Regardless, being a student mom comes with it's own set of challenges. Below, I've shared some tips for making it through and thriving as a mother and student.

5 Tips for College Moms

1. Let It Go

No. I don't mean go watch Frozen with your 6 year-old for the millionth time. Literally, you have to let stuff go. You're trying to balance being a good student and a good parent (and maybe even a good employee and/or significant other, too). In order to save your sanity, you're going to have to cut yourself some slack.

Maybe that means you're vacuuming once a week, rather than three or four times. Maybe your kids are eating pizza rolls tonight. Maybe the dishes won't get done for a few days. Maybe you're 15 minutes late to class because there was a diaper blowout 5 minutes before you had to load the kids in the car.

It's okay. Let it go. Things will be okay.

Related Post: What is a surrogate mother?

2. Prioritize

If you're not quite sure how to accomplishment the first point, then this should help. Learn to prioritize what has to be done. I always like to think of priorities like this:
  • Have to do
  • Should do
  • Could/want to/might do

Work through the things you have to do and then move on to the things you should do. Try to do at least something that you want to do, so that you don't feel like your whole day is all work and no play. That can get exhausting.

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Succeed as a mom and student.

3. Lists

Lists, lists, lists. Even if I never look at a list again, writing things down gives me clarity, helps me organize my thoughts, and helps remember what needs to be remembered. I used excel to create a spreadsheet of all my assignments for the semester. I used it digitally, but it could have easily been printed and used for reference, just the same. If you're having trouble getting organized, lists can really help.

4. Know your limits.

I am really, really bad at this one. It's really important to have realistic expectations for yourself. Don't take more classes than you can handle. This last semester I started a new job that had a more traditional work schedule. I also took on full time college classes. I'm going to fail one of those classes after getting so behind catching up is an insurmountable task. My work in the others has suffered.

For someone who was devastated when she received her first and only C in college, this is really hard for me. However, it's shown me that, more than ever, it's important to find the life balance that works for you.

Otherwise you'll end up giving less than your all to your job, your school, and/or your family. Take it from someone who knows. Set yourself up for success in all areas of your life!

5 Tips for College Moms

5. Self care.

Take care of yourself. Take a day off. Lounge around in your PJs with the kids eating ice cream and watching Disney movies. Go on a date with your spouse or have a night out with your friends. Remember that you're still human and you still deserve some fun.

We're all trying to make the most out of our lives. To improve ourselves for our children. We want them to look up to us. We want them to be proud of us. We want to give them the world. Being a college student and a mom is tough. We can do it though!

What advice would you offer to moms who are attending college?

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9 Affordable Experience Focused Kid Gifts

Give the Gift of Experiences
Once upon a time I posted some alternative hobbies for kids that aren't sports or video games. I also shared tips to get kids to actually like reading. The season of giving is upon us, so today I want to tell you about the importance of presence not presents.

This is something many of us, myself included, struggle with.

It's easy to try and measure love with stuff, to try and quantify it. However, we all know that love is a feeling. It can't be measured. It can be felt. You might even argue it can be seen.

However, we're all still tempted to be unintentionally materialistic. We love our children and our families love them. Grandparents, especially, are inclined to shower our children with gifts. Unfortunately, very few of these gifts offer experiences. Most of them are just stuff.

Stuff that will end up at the bottom of a toy box.

Something with a million parts that will never be put together again.

Sometimes people struggle with gifting experiences

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9 Experience Based Gifts

9 Experience Focused Gift Ideas for Kids

  • Laser Tag
  • Usually appropriate for kids starting around age 6. Fun for adults and children, so great to do as a family!
  • Zoo One Time Pass
  • Buy day passes for the zoo. It's even better if the the gift giver is planning on going as well (when able).
Give Aquarium Passes
  • Aquarium One Time Pass
  • If your giftees are lucky enough to have an aquarium nearby, why not gift them a day pass?
  • Museum or Conservatory One Time Pass
  • New museum? Favorite museum? Single passes and/or gift certificates are affordable options!
  • Movie Theater Gift Certificate
  • Buying movie passes or gift certificates/gift cards to the local theater can be a special treat.
Give the Gift of Bowling<

  • Bowling Gift Certificate
  • Classic fun to be had just about anywhere. A bowling gift certificate is a great gift to be used with friends or family.
  • Arcade Tokens or Gift Certificate
  • Local arcades (sometimes combined with mini golf, bowl, theme parks or other mentioned gift ideas) are a great place to buy and experiential gift. Buy tokens for the give recipient to use later or some other pass.
  • Mini Golf Pass
  • Mini golf is another classic and you can find a place almost anywhere. It makes great gifts to be used a family or with friends.
  • Horseback Riding Gift Certificate
  • If everyone is comfortable, able, and old enough, horseback riding can be a unique gift experience to give a family or individual.
Give the Gift of Go Karting
  • Go Kart Pass
  • These are fun for adults and kids! Younger kids may need to ride with an adult or older sibling, so this can be a fun family gift.
  • Theme or Fun Park One time Pass
  • If there's a nearby theme park, fun park, or similar area for a good time, you can usually buy passes, tickets, tokens, or gift certificates to give as gifts.

Have you ever received a gift like this? How did you like it? Do you think experiential gifts are better, the same, or don't like them?

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