I hadn’t read the inside cover or any reviews but put it on my ‘to read’ list at the recommendation of a couple of moms in my life (aka IG moms in my life). The gist: Hunt, Gather, Parent is about a mom sets out to study Maya families in Mexico, Inuit families above the Arctic Circle, and Hadzabe families in Tanzania… with her then three year old daughter. She quickly learns that they don’t have the same problems with their toddlers that Western parents do.
Here’s a quick How To list she’s incorporated throughout the book:
- How to teach kids to do chores, voluntarily
- How to raise flexible, cooperative kids
- How to teach children to control their anger
- How to stop being angry at your child
- How to raise the most confident kids in the world (antidotes for anxiety and stress)
Sounds too good to be true, right?! Every page I was having AH-HA moments, poor Taylor was getting sick of me discussing everything I was reading and agreed to read it as well so that we could have genuine conversations about the content. She’s got ‘Try It’ sections throughout the book to put what you’ve read into action. And so far, for us, it’s working!
For reference, B is 14 months old. He now enjoys emptying the dishwasher and helping me sweep up after every meal. He knows where the broom and dust pan are kept and his favorite job is dumping the stuff in the trash. Does he love to do it every day, every time these chores need to be done? No. Do we force him to help anyway? No. But when he does help, he gets SO HAPPY and I remember to make comments like “the room gets cleaned up super fast when we all chip in!” Yes, things get done slower and yes, sometimes the mess is still there but here are some important things I’ve learned –
- Give him meaningful work (as opposed to fake or make believe work)
- Never say no to him if he’s trying to help. Kids LOVE to help out. How are they suppose to learn a task if we assume they are too small or if we rush to complete it without them? Obviously he is too young for some tasks like taking the dinner out of the oven, but I make comments like “the oven is too hot, watch mommy and learn.” Does he throw the laundry around the room as I’m folding it on the floor? Yup. Does he get this look in his eye as if he’s helping? You betchya. I don’t make comments to point out his errors or the mess he’s creating, I just keep folding and re-stacking. Oftentimes parents do housework when the children are asleep or push them out of the kitchen once dinner is done and the cleanup has begun. If children can’t see what’s being done, how can we expect them to chip in? I’m telling you, mind blown with these simple concepts.
- Do what YOU want. This is something Taylor and I discussed before having kids and I was happy to see it included in a section of the book. Parents today are taxi drivers, filling their days with drop-offs for their kid(s)… and that is something Taylor and I don’t intend on doing. Michaeleen phrases it along the lines of “don’t do something for the child unless it’s something you yourself want to do.” In example: B is participating in music classes this semester. While I’d like to think he’s getting something out of it, I signed him up because I wanted us (Taylor and I) to connect safely with other parents of Troy, since we haven’t had that opportunity due to the pandemic. We are only three weeks in and we are all enjoying it! In fact, one of those couples was at the wedding we attended on Friday… at the same table! We had much to connect over and we exchanged numbers. The point I’m trying to make with this parenting decision is that we aren’t going to sign him up for athletics in hopes that he learns to be a team player, instead we are going to include him in our daily lives and activities so that we can model what being a team player looks like. Modeling behavior, including how to control our anger, is so much more beneficial than cramming their schedule and hoping for the best.
- Reduce the number of instructions you dish out. Do any of these sound familiar: “don’t open the cabinet” “get your shoes” “can you put this into the garbage?” “don’t put your hands in the toilet” The list is ever growing – we (Westerners and Taylor and I personally) are constantly telling toddlers what to do. Constantly. Record yourself for an hour, then listen back to hear how many instructions you’ve given – chances are it’s going to be a lot. We’ve started to try and reduce the number of instructions we’re giving him and do so in 30 minute chunks, following the timer on the oven. It’s harder than it seems! But the results are wonderful!
I feel like I’m rambling now, but what I’m trying to say is this book was meaningful to our family and if you choose to read it, I hope it is for you as well. There’s so much more I could add, specifically what we’ll be incorporating into our lives over the coming years, but maybe I’ll save that for private one on one conversations. Let me know if you decide to pick it up and what your thoughts are!