Disclosure :: affiliate links are included in this post.
Calm The H*ck Down :: A Book Review
Between reading for grad school, attempting to read the Bible in a year, working, and generally trying to keep myself and my family alive, I also like to squeeze in time to read books of my choice!
When I became pregnant almost five (!!!) years ago, I joined a motherhood book club that I am still a member of today. Over the years, through the book club and also my personal reading, I’ve read over ten books pertaining to parenting and babies, covering topics such as baby sleep and nutrition basics, what to expect in the first year of your baby’s life, the psychology of play in children and humans, intentional motherhood, spiritual motherhood, parenting hacks, research on child development, and how to not lose your creativity during motherhood.
These books have helped to educate me on the type of parent I am interested in being and becoming, and some of them have certainly helped me to keep my children alive, happy, and healthy. Some of the books have shown me that I can embed creativity, my own interests, and my spiritual walk into my motherhood.
That’s why the book I’ll be reviewing today, Calm The H*ck Down: How to Let Go and Lighten Up About Parenting by Melanie Dale is a little different for me when it comes to parenting books.
I typically read parenthood books that are telling me what to expect or what I should be DOING as a parent. This one was telling me to lighten up and actually stop doing a few things.
I heard about Melanie because she is a contributing writer for Coffee and Crumbs, a company that produces motherhood stories and essays. Melanie’s writing style is very unique, blunt, and edgy. She doesn’t take parenting as seriously as some of us, but in a good way. Hearing her perspective shows me a different perspective on motherhood. In her book, Melanie sets out to set us free from the weight and pressures we put on ourselves during parenting, to show us how to take a few steps back, and ultimately, how to calm and heck down.
Here are a few key takeaways I had from her book, Calm The H*ck Down: How to Let Go and Lighten Up About Parenting.
Dropping a kid every now and then is beneficial
Whether you have two kids or ten, dropping down a child every now and then can have really positive effects. If the child is in a safe, engaging, and secure place, such as with grandparents, a trusted friend, a day camp, etc., then parents should not feel any guilt about their child not being with them for a limited amount of time. One benefit Melanie talks about is how it changes the family’s energy and dynamic to be one kid down.
If you are a family with more than two kids, dropping a child (such as the youngest child) can result in less fighting or more age-appropriate conversations. Another version of this strategy, particularly for parents of only two children, is to divide and conquer. One parent will take a child, and the other parent will take the opposite child. Giving the kids one-on-one attention with one parent will make the child feel special, and have the same effect of neutralizing the environment and giving the child age-appropriate and personalized attention that will make everyone feel more loved and satisfied at the end of the time together.
When it comes to talking about serious topics, start early and in an age-appropriate way. We want our kids to view us as valuable resources for all topics, including the possibly uncomfortable or thought-provoking ones. By starting early and simply, we are earning our child’s trust and normalizing deep conversations between parents and children.
Don’t freak out
Melanie talks about practicing your neutral face in the mirror. When your child does approach you with something big or deep, don’t freak out! Also, don’t be judgey. Allow your kids to talk and share their perspectives, and ask follow-up questions casually (again, don’t freak out!!!). The more our kids openly bring to us and discuss with us, the more genuine and trusting our relationships with them will be!
Do something for yourself before you give up on parenting and run away
Our identity, interests, friendships, and personal sense of self do not have to disappear during motherhood. If we push ourselves aside while our kids live with us, that could be over twenty years until the last kid leaves, and we will have likely lost all of our friends by then and have forgotten what our hobbies and interests are!
Motherhood can be exhausting and all-consuming, and sometimes it can feel like we have no other option except to pour everything we have into mothering. It’s important for us to regularly take time for ourselves to remind ourselves that we are a person outside of our kids.
As your kids get older, the movies get better
As a parent of two children under the age of 4, I am dying for better TV. The simple hope of one day getting to share good movies with my children brings me joy. Melanie also shares how in their family, the parents take each child on a special overnight trip for their 13th birthday, where they go on outings the child enjoys and spend quality time together.
The world is always talking about how sad it is that our babies and toddlers will grow up. However, the idea of going out and about or enjoying mutual activities with the grown-up version of the little person I’ve created is definitely something I will enjoy when the time comes!
Calm The H*ck Down was a different and refreshing parenthood book for me to read in the midst of a busy life raising two littles. While reading the book, I never felt like I needed to add a new “thing” to my parenting repertoire in order to be a good mom for my kids.