Put down that parenting book and live life with your kids

Do you ever feel like we live in an age where there’s just too much information on parenting?

I can’t tell you how many times my mom has said to me, “I wish I knew that when I was a new parent”. But get this, my mom did alright. Without the Internet. Without Baby Center emails. Without sleep experts and tons of gadgets. In fact, she and my dad gave us a really happy childhood full of adventures.

It’s almost as if knowing too much has stunted our experience as parents. We try to control every facet of rearing our kids. Today’s experts make it sound as if there’s a formula. If you follow it correctly, your children will turn out perfectly.

Follow the experts’ advice, and your children will sleep through the night from 4 months, they’ll eat vegetables heartily as toddlers, they’ll potty train rapidly with minimal effort from you, they’ll develop all the social skills they need for a happy life, and every part of their little brains will be fine-tuned for maximum absorption of intellectual matter once they reach school.

Yeah, right.

Listening to my mom talk about all the fun they had with us when we were little is inspiring. My parents took us on vacations when we were just months old, including on germ-laden airplanes and camping treks. They kept up their hobbies, and brought us along for all of it.

For me as a parent now, a weekend trip to a luxury hotel – with one toddler and husband — involves a car full of can’t-live-without gear, weeks of planning, and exhausting preparation. In fact, I drive myself nuts trying to make everything go smoothly.

I have decided, I want to live life by the seat of the pants a bit more.

I’m going to let my kid play in the dirt. I’m not going to worry if he only eats a banana for lunch today. I don’t want to pressure him to play with other kids when he doesn’t feel like it, just because it’s good “social exposure”.

And I will pack light when we go on vacation. As a wise friend said once, “There’s always Wal-Mart if you forget something you need!”

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