For me, some aspects of parenting are no-brainers.
Like, following the vaccine schedule recommended by our pediatrician. Or holding my young son’s hand when we cross the street. Or signing him up for weekly swim lessons so that he’ll be safe around water.
Several other things didn’t make my high-priority list, however, and I freely admit to the following:
Not keeping my son’s photos off social media
In the mom groups I belong to on Facebook, I’ve seen many complaints about mothers-in-law behaving badly. I can sympathize with many of the in-law gripes that get shared, but when fellow moms vent about their MILs sharing photos of their grandkids on Facebook, I just don’t get it.
Sure, I use the “friends” privacy setting when I share my son’s pictures, and I only post those in which he’s fully clothed – no bathtub snapshots allowed! But my mom and father-in-law take photos of my son and post them on Facebook, and they’re welcome to do so.
I’m not afraid of someone figuring out where he lives (after all, anyone who sees him get off the school bus will know his address) or pretending he’s their kid online (yes, apparently this is a thing). Life is too short to worry about that.
Not putting my kid’s winter coat over his car seat harness
Did you know that your baby’s not supposed to wear a thick or puffy coat when she’s in her car seat?
The extra space taken up by a bulky winter coat can potentially make the harness too loose when the coat gets compressed. Parents are supposed to buckle their kids in without a coat and then put the coat on backwards (or lay a blanket on top).
Mainly because we live in upstate New York, where it can get down to single digits in the wintertime, we simply checked that the car seat harness fastened snugly over my son’s coat and made sure to drive safely.
Not making my own baby food and/or practicing baby-led weaning
I admire parents who make their own baby food, I just can’t imagine having the time and energy to do it, especially with, you know, a baby.
Getting the weekly grocery shopping done was bad enough with an infant in tow, and tossing the baby food jars in the cart was just about the limit of my efforts. Most of the purees we fed our son were organic. But organic or no, “puree” has become a dirty word to some parents.
Baby-led weaning encourages parents to introduce solid food to their little ones without giving purees or spoon-feeding. We embraced the purees, and today our son’s tastes range from green beans to mushrooms to feta cheese.
Not securing heavy furniture to the wall
My husband and I added child locks to our kitchen cabinets, installed outlet covers all over the house, and bought a baby gate to prevent our son from tumbling down the stairs. But we never bought those straps that promise to prevent kids from pulling down TVs, bookcases, and dressers on top of themselves.
You can’t make your home 100% childproof, and I believe everyone has to draw the line somewhere. We just checked that things were reasonably sturdy and made sure to keep an eye on our busy boy.
Not banishing plastic food/drink containers
Some parents are really, really worried about plastic, even going to extreme measures like purging all plastic drink containers and food storage items from their homes.
For a while I was really strict about only buying plastic products for my son that were labeled “BPA-free,” but when I found out that BPA substitutes may not be any safer, I threw up my hands.
That’s not to say we’re plastic fanatics, our leftovers sometimes end up in ceramic or glass, and my son drinks out of ceramic mugs at mealtimes. But his daily school snack goes in a plastic container, and he heads to summer camp with a plastic container of water.
Not using cloth diapers
As someone who avidly reduces, reuses, and recycles, I know that disposable diapers are harmful to our planet.
I certainly didn’t feel good about sending countless disposables to the landfill, but with a high-needs baby who didn’t sleep through the night until nine months and four pets to take care of, not to mention a job, I simply couldn’t summon the energy to clean off, wash, dry, and fold cloth diapers. Especially because I’m a bit of a germaphobe.
Besides, recent headlines like “Why cloth diapers might not be the greener choice, after all” and “The Clamor Over Cloth Diapers: Is the Eco-Payoff Really Worth the Effort?” make the cloth vs. disposable debate a bit less black-and-white.
Parents are only human. Along the way, we just can’t choose every battle.