I never read parenting books. I didn’t read any pregnancy books either. I prefer to use my instincts knowing some of them will be wrong but hoping more will be right. I think too much input can be a bad thing in certain cases – and parenting is one of those cases.
However, I recently made an exception and read Minimalist Parenting: Enjoy Modern Family Life More By Doing Less by Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest. While I only opened the book because I share a publisher with the authors, I finished the book because it was chock full of good stuff – and I found it particularly relevant for working mothers.
While researching my own book, I spoke with scores of working mothers about how they balance work, marriage, and kids. And a major theme that came out of those discussions, was how these women reconcile their own parenting styles with the other parents in their communities. Worrying about how you’re doing as a parent isn’t unique to working mothers, but stressing about not being able to take your kids to an after school practice or lesson, being unable to reciprocate a play date, or not hearing about the leprechaun thing, is a real concern for women who don’t feel connected.
Koh and Dornfest encourage parents to tune in, not only to their own instincts and rhthyms, but also to their kids’. If your child is social and likes big gatherings, then throw a big birthday bash. Junior is shy? Skip the event and have cupcakes with family.There are as many ways to parent as their are parents plus kids. And, both Koh and Dornfest agree goody bags at birthday parties are optional. I know the women I interviewed can get behind that concept. The authors give parents permission to do things that work for individual families, and reassurance that following your own guide won’t leave your kids at a disadvantage.
I also like that Minimalist Parenting encourages spouses to share household responsibilities – and for children to do chores. We know that women, on average, do 50 percent more housework than men, even in households where the woman works outside the home. And I know from the women I interviewed that household duties can compete with career and personal satisfaction – there are only so many hours in a week to get everything done. So any book that supports the idea of dividing labor at home, works for me. The authors recommend, “dividing tasks based on skill, interest and schedules, not on a fifty-fifty definition of what’s fair.”
From meal planning to vacations to homework – this book is full of practical tips and reminders about how to parent and live without overdoing it.