In pursuit of making great book club kits and generally improving ourselves, we read a LOT of books! We believe that you can get at least a little bit better at just about anything, as long as you keep learning about it and practicing proven techniques. We extend this philosophy to our journeys as parents, too. What if all parents took their parenting as seriously as their career or favorite hobby? To progress at work, people read books, take classes, and seek mentorships. We aren't too proud or self-assured to try these techniques to become better parents, as well.
While we're certainly not perfect, we're definitely seeing results from these efforts. One of our biggest lessons has been that we're constantly planting the seeds for future progress; real changes are rarely immediate, but they're lasting and buildable. That and, parenting is hard! Even when you're doing it right, your kid will still get mad at you. Saying "no" in the cereal aisle when your kid is two might result in a tantrum that makes you wish you'd just ordered everything online. But sticking to your "no" and enduring the tw0-year-old's rage will result in a much more subtle, but accepting, form of dissatisfaction to your "no" in the same scenario a year or two later.
All of this is to say, you've got this! And when you feel like you don't, we have books that can help. Read on for our list of our ten favorite parenting books (in no particular order). These are all of our go-to's when friends ask how we handle things. Use the links in the article to order your own copy from Amazon (we'll get a small referral payout if you do, at no additional cost to you). Bonus: we have a printable pamphlet of all ten titles that you can take with you to the bookstore or library!
This post contains affiliate links. If you buy anything using the links in this article, Busy Nest News will get a small portion of the sale at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support!
Expecting Better, by Emily Oster
It’s been a while since Ariel and I came across a parenting book that we just had to read. When we heard the premise of Expecting Better, by Emily Oster, we knew it bore checking out.
Emily Oster is an economist (as is her husband). In a nutshell, what economists are pros at is analyzing information, evaluating the quality, and synthesizing it into reports to help people in key positions make decisions. In Expecting Better, Oster aims to use her economist skills to breakdown the data around the most common, thorny issues encountered in pregnancy, to help you decide what's best for your family.
Some of the topics tackled include the risks around foods (caffeine, alcohol, lunch meat, sushi), medicines (birth control, pain killers, antidepressants), and exercise. Oster also details risks of and protocols around genetic testing, common pregnancy conditions (such as pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes), bedrest, and the options available during birth.
Wherein Brianna discusses one of her own major breakthroughs around self-care, and began the journey of overcoming self-care guilt.
I’m going to say it. Grocery shopping with children is an ordeal. It is a Herculean task. In the Hero’s Journey of your week, it is the trip to the Underworld. Anyone who has never had occasion to shop with children (and not just young children, either) might think I am exaggerating. Anyone who has attempted to purchase more than a gallon of milk with a child in tow will agree that my words have the profound ring of Truth in them.
In which Brianna reveals the best activity tracker you've never heard of. The Misfit Shine 2 is just the best activity tracker, especially if your hands are frequently tied up pushing strollers or carrying children, or you enjoy other cardio besides running. Read on to learn why we've rejected the Fitbit.
Activity trackers have been around for a little while now. They started as glorified pedometers but now offer other features, as well. The most popular, or at least the one everyone says they have, is the Fitbit. But is the Fitbit really the best choice for parents on the go?
In which Ariel discusses self-care - the ambiguous call to prioritize you. What is self-care? What isn't self-care? Is it an indulgence or is it a discipline? Is it mani/pedis and facials or is it eating salads and pumping iron? Or D - all of the above?
Despite the fact that I - like many of you- have read countless articles on self-care and why we should be prioritizing it - I have yet to find a satisfying answer to the question “what is self-care?”
A special book review for Mother's Day. Brianna and Ariel discuss a book just for moms. Not exactly a parenting book, so much as a book for parents. That will make them better parents. That has nothing to do with parenting. You'll see. This article has affiliate links in it. By using them to get the book, you're keeping Busy Nest News going. Thanks for your continued support!
Summary of Run Like a Mother: How to Get Moving-- and Not Lose Your Family, Job, or Sanity, by Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea
For May, the month of Mother’s Day, we decided to read a special sort of parenting book. Run Like a Mother, by Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea, is a book for moms. In it, McDowell and Shea have a conversation with each other and the reader about what it takes to be a mother/runner. They detail their own struggles and triumphs with staying active after having kids, and offer readers solid advice on everything from just finding the time to preventing and rehabbing injuries (whether said injuries were brought on by running trails or slipping on toys). They cover selecting the right footwear, embarrassing playlists, setting reasonable goals, and how to stay relatively safe and comfortable on a run.
By Ariel and Brianna
In which Ariel and Brianna gently nudge their families toward fantastic gift ideas for them. Ahem! Is the mom you are purchasing for a coffee lover or a jet-setter? Is she a mom married to the military or simply a multi-tasking mom who always needs a third hand? Chances are she falls into one of these categories. If so, we have ideas to jump-start your Mother's Day shopping! This post contains affiliate links. By using them you help keep Busy Nest News up and running. Thank you for your continued support!
In which Ariel shares what areas she focuses on when planning for a deployment - how to nurture your child's relationship with their deployed parent, how to nurture your own relationship with your deployed partner, how to keep the routine going when you are solo parenting and how to make sure you still have energy left to take care of yourself.
Why Do You Need to Plan for a Deployment?
Living through a deployment is the most challenging part of being a military spouse. It is also – ironically – the most romanticized part. Though my husband is no longer active duty, his job keeps him away from home for months on end, several times a year. How do we make it through relatively unscathed? We have a plan in place and do not deviate from it (often).
So while your civilian friends are picturing perfumed letters and wistfully staring at the sky, pre-deployment for us looks like A Beautiful Mind with more laundry and lists - to-do lists, checklists, lists of lists, lists scrawled on post-it notes, lists scrawled on the whiteboard, half-washed off lists on hands and the list goes on. I have heard from multiple sources, including Brianna, that this listomania is not uncommon.
Having a well-thought-out plan in place during a deployment takes the guesswork out of stressful situations. And when you are solo parenting, everything can become stressful at the drop of a hat - even Skyping with your spouse. How horrible is that? When you want to see them, but the kids are dirty, the dishes are overflowing and the plumber is about the come over to fix the dishwasher that broke the second your spouse deployed. So you Skype - and you are genuinely excited to see them because you miss them - but you find yourself snapping at the kids and being short with your spouse, because this needs to get done and that deadline is coming up. The point is, if you aren’t intentional about the deployment, life will get in the way.
This is not going to be a how-to on planning for deployment. There is no magic bullet. No one approach to deployment will work for everyone, because every family and every deployment is different. Each of our families has unique strengths and a diverse array of needs that should be taken into account. What this is, is a reminder of the - often overlooked - areas we should be intentionally planning for. It's important to plan ahead for when things go right or wrong. So accept that things will go wrong and be as ready as you can anyway.
Throughout this article I often use “you” to refer to you AND your spouse. While you, the at-home partner, may shoulder much of the responsibility for making sure the plan unfurls with minimal hiccups, you cannot plan without input from your spouse. You both need to be on board or someone will end up dissapointed.
In which Brianna presents a couple of options for military families to stay connected by reading to their littles, even when they're away.
A great deployment strategy for a resilient family
Here at Busy Nest News, we love reading. It entertains us, challenges us, broadens our horizons, deepens our empathy for others, and it makes us smarter. So when we heard that other military families use reading to stay connected to each other during deployments, it seemed a natural and wonderful solution.
Some fortunate families can video chat daily during deployments. Since every day isn’t necessarily remarkable, frequent chats like that are a great opportunity to read books to littles or discuss books with the spouse or older kids back home. However, most of us aren’t in that position. If Monkey’s daddy was deployed right now, the very best he could manage would be an almost daily email, maybe. Worst communication situation would be a phone call once or twice a month. As a couple, we’ve experienced both scenarios. Monkey will not hang out on the phone long enough for her daddy to read her a story. But she would still miss having him read to her, as reading is already an integral part of our family’s routines. Fortunately, I know of some resources to bridge the gap between technologically deprived service members and the littles who love them.
In which Ariel discusses how personalized dolls - sometimes referred to as deployment dolls, since they are frequently used by military families - can help your little one deal with separation anxiety.
Plushies With a Personal Touch
During a deployment finding comfort in the absence of your loved ones can seem like an impossible task. If you are lucky you may be able to hear their voice or see their face but something is missing - touch. You cannot steal kisses or snatch hugs. You and your children feel this loss keenly, like an ache. One item that helps to fill this void are stuffed animals. Think about it; it makes sense. When I want an example of our most basic nature as human beings I watch my daughter. What does she turn to first when she needs comfort and my husband and I are otherwise occupied? Her luvvie. There is a reason most children have beds overflowing with plushies and bins vomiting up soft cuddlies - when we need comfort - physical comfort is the easiest to achieve with a pleasing texture or the act of putting our arms around something warm. Deployment dolls take the classic stuffed animals and make it personal.
Ariel and Brianna are friends who met while working in a library. Now they collaborate to develop life-enhancing book club experiences.
Let's keep in touch!