I’m a self-proclaimed nerd. This should be nothing new to those of you who know me…I was always much more likely to sit inside than head out for recess. I always loved studying and genuinely enjoyed going to class. Although I’m glad to be done with school, my inner nerd comes out every once in awhile.

I was in a training session for work the other day and we took a learning styles assessment. I love personal assessments, because they teach me to think about my own style in new ways. I don’t think I learned anything groundbreaking from this particular assessment, but there was a section about learning styles and parenting that I thought was interesting. Also, for other nerds out there, you can read more about learning styles and experiential learning here.

We all learn and make sense of the world in different ways. There are four learning styles (learning by doing, learning by experiencing, learning by reflecting, and learning by thinking). You can probably think of your preferred learning style just from the descriptions. When we parent, we will most often teach in the style that we prefer. But are we being sensitive to how our children would like to learn? Or should we try to strengthen weaker styles with our kids? Here is a brief description of the styles for kids:

Learning Styles

After reading through the styles, do you have any inclinations about your kids? Of course, the best approach with your kids is using a blend of styles. Interesting stuff, huh? Told you I was a nerd.

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Naomi sent me this article to post on our Facebook page which I will do… but first I have some things that I would like to say on this topic.  I wasn’t planning on writing a post today so this might be a little ranty.

Working Mom (WM) vs Stay At Home Mom (SAHM)

I work.  Darby goes to day care that is about a half-mile from my office and maybe 2 miles from my house.  Before I had Darby I was 100% certain that I wanted to work after she was born.

Mama and BabyMy maternity leave was three months long.  When Darby turned two-months old it hit me that I’d be going back to work and would not be with her all day.  The thought of sending her to daycare made me cry — just, like, out of the blue I would think about it and cry. (You know you did the same…) I think there is often the assumption that moms who work want someone else to care for their baby for part of the day.  They want to be free of the responsibility and burden of caring for their baby 24/7.  Or they need the money.  For me that was not the case.  I loved having that time with Darby during the day.  Like any mom, I needed a break and having my husband come home from work gave me that.  Working had nothing to do with whether or not I wanted to be with Darby.   I love my job, I work for a very family-friendly organization, but mostly I wanted time in my day to be me.  And FOR ME, working was the best way for me to do that.

***Emphasis on FOR ME***  

I think a lot about how being a WM impacts my family and our future.  My salary is decent and is more than the cost of daycare but that may not be the case once we have two kids.  Should I keep working?  Is it about the money?  Is it about how much I love my job?  What’s best for my kid(s)?

Here’s the big picture FOR ME: I want Darby to be proud of me.  In seventh grade when she has to write a paper on the person she most looks up to, I want it to be me and for good reason… not just because I’m her mom and because that is easier than researching Abraham Lincoln.  I want her to recognize that part of being a good mom to her meant being good to myself.  FOR ME, being good to myself means feeding my brain and challenging myself by working.  I want her to know that being a good wife doesn’t have to mean being Donna Reed, but it can mean being a breadwinner while also being the bread-maker.

I sit around and think about what I want for Darby and it all comes back to one thing: I want her to be herself.  How can I give her the tools to always be herself if I’m not giving myself the tools to do the same?  FOR ME being myself means working.

Then there’s the whole Dad issue… this isn’t only about working/stay-at-home MOMS anymore.  My husband has a higher earning potential than me so he most likely won’t ever be a SAHD.  But… he also has a higher earning potential than where he is now.  We — together — chose a certain lifestyle in favor of money at least for right now.  He could go earn the big bucks but it would mean long hours which would likely mean missing dinner time and bath time and play time… FOR US, this was the right choice.  It has never been and most likely will not ever be an easy choice.

I did say that money isn’t the reason that I work.  But if money were the issue, rather than sending my husband off to earn lots of money and lose time at home, I would continue to work to pay for daycare so that my husband didn’t have to miss out on family time.  No question.

Now… I’ve stayed pretty cool through this whole post.  (Hooray, Me!) But I need to lose my cool for one second.  Few things make me more angry than hearing one parent judge another parent for making a decision that they think is best for their kid(s).  To the judgey WMs and SAHMs (both are guilty): You. Have. No. Right. SHUT YOUR FACE.

Ok.  I’m cool.

FOR YOU the best thing for your family might mean being a SAHM.  Everyone is different.  I would never say that being a WM is better or being a SAHM is better.  I know what was best FOR ME. It is a personal choice and, you know what?  Babies in BOTH situations turn out just fine… and if your kid turns out to be crazy, most likely your being a WM or a SAHM had nothing to do with it.  It may have to do with how you spend the time you DO have with your kid(s).

How do you feel about your choice to be a WM or a SAHM?

My favorite part about the end of the year is the Top 10 [Fill in the Blank] of 2011.  I don’t know why, but I love it.  So I thought I’d do a little Top 10 list of my own.

Top 10 Things My Baby Taught me in 2011

10. Lots of snots means lots of pukes. That may not be true for adults, but it is true for babies… apparently.

9. So you got a little shmutz on your shirt?  Who cares!  Move on.  It might stain, but whatever.  You’ll get new clothes in about 3 months anyway.

Darby8. Lights are awesome.  Take the time to stop and look at lights more.  It is so worth it.

7. Ditto on shadows.  Amazing.

6. When you’re covered in puke, you’ve got snot smeared from your mouth to your eyes and a dirty diaper to boot… smile.  That’s the only thing that will make it better.  (Well, that and a bath.)

5. Value your ability to do little things like blow your own nose.  Don’t take those skills for granted.

4. If you’re happy and you know it, shout “HOORAY!”  And your face will surely show it.

3. People like you if you’re nice to them. Smile. Laugh. Smile again. People will like you more.

2. Don’t hold a grudge.  Be mad, but then smile like 3 seconds later.  Life’s more fun that way.

1. Sometimes you get shit on. Get over it. It will happen again.

I’ve always expected a lot out of my kids. They don’t need to be perfect, but I want them to grow up into respectful, humble, successful people. I feel like setting the bar high will give them big goals to shoot for and will help them realize that they can do anything they desire as long as they have passion and work as hard as they can. But I’ve found that these grandiose plans I have for their future lives also start creeping into their little preschool lives as well. I start having “expectations” for my three year old triplets. I hear myself saying, “He’s almost four years old, he should be able to put on his shoes and socks without help,” or “Don’t most kids this age know how to write their name? Is she behind if she isn’t doing that yet?” I start the never-ending battle of Compare-My-Child-to-Your-Child and the expectations begin to mount.

Although I think it’s healthy (and necessary) to expect certain things from your kids, I’ve learned that countless lists of expectations get you nowhere. Expecting things like manners and obedience is a given, but who cares if my kid can’t draw a circle when he’s 18 months old like little Sally can (damn that Sally and her advanced fine motor skills!)? My triplets have fielded the brunt of my advanced expectations because they have collectively served as my first “child.” I was a first child and a lot was always expected of me. I always felt like I had to measure up to a set of prescribed expectations and I find myself asking my triplets to do the same thing! You would think that I would have learned. As for my youngest child, expectations have been thrown completely out the window. I find myself not expecting him to accomplish or master certain things nearly as early as I expected them from the triplets. Can I chalk it up to parental experience? My own laziness? Finally seeing the light? Regardless, I’ve learned that expectations can be great, just don’t define your kids by their timely achievement of them.