But we are not meant to do it alone, it takes a village. It’s that village that helps keep us sane; the village that reaches out and offers to help tired mamas in the trenches of parenthood.
Parenting villages in every country can be vastly different, each with its own set of parenting techniques and best practices. How do parents in other places bring joy to parenting?
The Danish word hygge (pronounced “hooga” ) roughly translates to “cozy time.”
It's the practice of creating an inviting, warm atmosphere in which people focus on each other. Hygge can be experienced by sitting around a warm fireplace and reading a book together, casually chatting while playing catch in the yard, having a family dinner together, or taking a walk around the block, hand in hand.
Applying the concept of hygge – that is, intentionally focusing on your child – has huge benefits. When we place our focus on our children (iPhones all tucked away), their love tanks are refueled. When they feel loved and secure, children are much happier. Happier children make parenting much easier. It’s no surprise that the Danes are considered the happiest people in the world.
Pamela Druckerman’s "Bringing Up Bebe" focuses on her experience as an American parent living in Paris, France.
While Druckerman offers several tidbits of French parenting wisdom, one piece that seems to be particularly lacking in America is the freedom from guilt. In America, mothers are so analyzed and critiqued that we have begun to harbor guilty feelings about everything.
We leave our baby and go to work? We feel guilty. We stay at home with our baby but make less money? We feel guilty. We buy only organic foods but at the expense of the already-tight budget? We feel guilty. We buy convenient pre-packaged food because we are too tired after a 12-hour shift? We feel guilty.
No matter what we do, the guilty feelings sneak in and make us doubt ourselves and parenting abilities. The massive guilt prohibits us from truly savoring parenthood. French mothers, however, do not let the guilty feelings overwhelm them. Making well-informed decisions out of love for our babies – that’s what matters.
So what if you need a night out with your friends to regroup? It doesn’t make you a bad mother – it makes you human. Stop feeling guilty. You’re doing just fine.
I've visited Italy on several occasions and I witnessed a slower, more relaxed pace of life. Dinners can last for hours while families relax and enjoy each other’s presence. Slowing down indeed can make parenting more enjoyable.
Take a walk around the block at your child’s pace. What more do you see? Try to see the world through your child’s eyes, and you’ll understand your child more.
Slowing down is more than just a leisurely stroll. Slow down your whole life. Lighten up on scheduled activities. A three-year-old doesn’t really need to take an advanced toddler cooking course. Savor life.
Mexican parents instill in their children the importance of properly greeting an adult – with a kiss on the cheek.
While we don’t necessarily have to kiss each adult we greet, the point is: greeting each other is part of being polite. Saludar bien reinforces, “You are important to me. I will take the time to say hello to you.” It teaches awareness of others, respect, and lays the foundation for cultivating friendships.
Parenting is hard, yes. No one person, place, or culture has all of the answers. But we can learn from each other, and that makes all the difference.
It takes a village!
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