I’m probably more strict than most people would realize— but I also try to find more excuses to cuddle with my kid than most would think too. We absolutely have a life full of color and fun— but with rules, a fairly good amount of them. I mean, I’ll assume that any parent reading this post has a list of rules that needs to be followed in their home— but we/me/we are pretty strict about them around here. I like her to know what is and is not okay, at all times. And how sometimes there are grey areas— where she should (absolutely) ask what is right and okay if she’s unsure.
She’s a good kid. A really good kid. I’m lucky. She’s also a really smart kid, and likes to use words like “actually” and otherwise”— correctly and as often as she can. And it makes me laugh each time “Actually mama, thats not a counter, thats a table” and “no mama, I can’t go live with Halle, otherwise you won’t have a kid anymore“— she was right, both times. And right every single time. So here I am, with not only a really good kid and a really smart kid— but also, a very stubborn kid. I have no one to blame but Alex and myself, for we are two very incredibly stubborn people, so neither one of us were surprised to find how stubborn she can be.
I’ll tell you, I haven’t felt great as a mom lately. I mean, I know I’m a good mom, I don’t need reassurance on that, but I know that recently the amount of — for lack of a better word— attention she receives is slacking. I don’t worry that she feels unloved, I know she feels loved, but it does break my heart a bit to know I once gave her more— and she still deserves more. I know this time is temporary, the extra busy crunch time will pass, but more and more each day, I’m looking forward to more time for bigger adventures and smaller moments with her. Her listening has declined a bit and some of the rule following too— and I know whose fault it is.
Part of me doesn’t mind that I raised her without Alex for two years. Part of me is almost grateful for it, now. I’m glad I’ve built that bond with her— it’s really hard to explain exactly what it is to someone who’s never been a single mom, but it sets a different tone when its you and no one else, one on one with a kid day after day. It can be as good or as bad as you make it. Our time was good. Our bond is good. Our relationship is good. I talk, she listens— usually.

I treat her how I believe she should be treated— as a smart, responsible, and very capable three year old. She’s in charge of cleaning her room, her table, and her mess, each and every day. She puts on her own pjs and she brushes her own teeth. She puts away her dishes, when I ask. And sometimes even offers to wash them. My friends joke, but hell, this girl could probably hold a job. I hear parents say that they don’t have time to clean because they’d rather spend time with their kids, but I don’t think these two things have to exclusive. I believe you can do both, together. We spend our time playing together and cleaning up together. I believe if she can make the mess, then she can clean the mess. And if we make the mess, then we can clean it. And of course, we can help each other out.
I think we underestimate ourselves and our children often. They’re small, tiny, and learning, but they’re very capable. And they should be treated this way. I understand that she’s small and things will be too tall or too heavy. I understand that the knowledge I’ve gained in this world, she has yet to learn, and she will need help learning as well as understanding. But I also know that if given the opportunity to try something new and have more responsibility, she will often times take it— and grow from it. She understands, I will never underestimate her. Will there be limitations? Sure, but doesn’t mean she can’t try.  From little things like putting away a dish to big goals and future dreams, I believe in her and all that she is capable of.

So here we are, approaching four years old, and we’ve started “time outs”— sort of again. I shouldn’t really say “for the first time” because she’s had maybe three before, but its never, not ever been a regular thing. And I doubt it will be now (fingers crossed). Rules are in place and she listens. If she strays away from them (intentional or not), we talk it out and move forward. I explain why the rule is in place and the good that comes from following it and the repercussions that can come from not. We’ve gotten through the “terrible two’s” or “terrible threes”— like this, pretty easily. She knows that I have a job, daddy has a job, and I will remind her as often as I need to, that she has a job— and it’s an important one too. Her job is to always “be a nice person, be good person, be happy and have fun.” Realistically, that all our jobs—- but at three, it’s her only job.
With my own deadlines approaching, with my unsureness and self doubt creeping in and out, it’s been a hard month. No, not hard– not hard at all, but at times slightly stressful and more pressured. The time I once I gave myself to check out, those moments are less fun. And I fear she feels it. I’m putting my best effort to check back into her time and out of my own head. Whether I’m teaching her something new or not, she learns from our time together. I want her to know that responsibility of kindness and listening are important. That there are rules in place that will be crucial. But I also want her to know that this doesn’t keep her from happiness, growing, and exploring—- that creativity is everywhere. She can be capable, responsible, follow rules, and know that sometimes it is okay to paint the floors. I showed her how to do it.

ps. that middle photo was taken by hannah, the south florida photographer I mentioned the other day. She’s been over to take cooking photos, home tour photos, and captured a few random gems here and there. I can’t wait to show you guys more of them 🙂 


  1. What a lovely, positive and inspiring post Drea. It will be good for her to see that you are sometimes really busy, and she will appreciate your time with her all the more, both now and when she is older and looks back. You're a top mum Drea. CJ xx

  2. I just LOVE this post. I don't have any kids yet so this might sound a bit weird, but i feel like my future parenting style will be pretty similar to yours.

    My little sister is13 years younger than me and i've learned TONS just by watching how my mum parents her – basically i want to do the opposite (almost). It sounds terrible but it's not! ^^ i love my mum and my sister is a great kid, i love her to the moon and back but she's spoiled and unable to do very basic things on her own – and she's 11 now. Two years ago or something i taught her how to cut her meat or a slice of cheese, how to pour water from a bottle into her glass – my mum and stepfather were still doing all of this for her – cut her fingernails or blow her hair dry. When i babysit her i tell her to set the table and eat her veggies and help me with the dishes, and she does. She listens and she actually enjoys doing it. My mum keeps telling me that i'm too strict but i disagree: the more i teach her how to do things, the more confident and independent she becomes. And we still play together and laugh like crazy, the way siblings do 🙂

    I don't have children yet and i don't pretend i know what it's like to be a parent because i really don't, but i do hope that the day i'll have kids i'll remember to focus on helping them becoming independent and self-confident human beings. And to cuddle and paint the floor too, because it's also tremendously important in my book 😉


    • t<3<3<3 not weird. thankful for your words. And you sister is very lucky to have you!

  3. As someone who has no children, but worked with many children for years not too long ago, I so appreciate everything said here. Honestly it's great to see how much you respect her and she respects you in totally different ways. Kids who have learned what that feels like have a much easier time respecting other adults and adapting to multiple situations. The life skills she's learning now just by doing her "job" (which is an adorable way to put it) are going to take her far 🙂

  4. Great post, great message. I love having my three year old help clean and cook with me all day. I love that she gets excited to water the plants and that she always wants to push the vacuum cleaner with me. She dusts the house and straightens up for me. It slows down the process but it's great she's doing it. And as a single mother myself, I also agree with how wonderful our bond is and it couldn't have happened if she had a father in her life. It's just me and my girl against the world.

  5. I love this post Drea. I think you are doing an incredible job. You have awesome views on parenting that I had wish I had with my now 16 year old son. He's a bit spoiled and it's totally my own fault, but still a good kid. The first years of their lives are the most important of course and I say keep up the great parenting!


  6. Oh Drea, I love this. I think our parenting styles are very similar. From time to time my mom will tell me that I am too hard on my kids or that they should not chop vegetables and clean their plate at four years old but I think that not only does my son enjoy it, he grows and learns from it. No matter how much they can do, it always comes down to the experience.