Savvy Mom Minnow Hamilton on Napping, Discipline and Daycare Frustration
Minnow Hamilton is the co-founder of SavvyMom, a website for time-crunched Canadian moms looking for answers to their daily dilemmas, "from diapers to dinner parties and everything in between". Hamilton went from stay-at-home mom to managing editor in 2004 when she and her former university roommate, Sarah Morgenstern, came up with the idea for SavvyMom over lattes. In addition to her duties with the website, she's a busy parent to Ryan, 12, and Michael, 10. Hamilton spoke with ParentDish about family dinners, doling out discipline and taming our inner control freaks.
Q: What was the best piece of parenting advice you received before you became a mom?
A: When the children were very young, I was told to nap when the kids napped. Sleep is so important to new parents and I would recommend getting rest before doing laundry any day, especially if it makes you a happier mom.
Q: What advice would you give a new mom, perhaps something you learned along the way?
A: I usually tell them about napping and I also encourage them to make sure they are not shy to ask for help, whether it's from their husband, sister, neighbour or nanny. Everyone needs a break once in a while. Look at anyone who you think is a 'supermom' and it's likely they are not doing everything on their own!
Q: What do you find the most challenging aspect of being a parent?
A: Once your children are past the baby stage, the biggest challenge is discipline and finding a balance that both parents agree on. It's important that parents take the same approach and are consistent with their methods and messages, or it can be confusing for children when they are young, and they learn to be manipulative when they are older. But I'm not a parenting expert by any means!
Q: How do you combine work and parenting?
A: I combine work and parenting with a lot of stress, fatigue and guilt, just like every other mom who is honest about it. But on the other hand, I consider myself very fortunate to have a full plate. I focus on that and don't waste a lot of time thinking about doing less. I also have an incredible support system that I have developed over the years and my husband is very active and engaged in parenting and helping with the boys.
Q: What's your favourite activity with your children?
A: I have two very active boys so I love to play sports with them. I'm not great at football and baseball, but I try to keep up on a golf course and the ski hill. It's a great opportunity to catch up and hear about what is going on at school and in their lives. I am also a firm believer in family dinners and we try to have one at least four times a week. Because we all have very full days, it's a chance for us to collectively share what our days were like. The kids are used to it now. Sometimes we have good discussions, sometimes we have arguments and tears and other times we laugh. Not to mention the constant reminders on how to behave at the dinner table! They are one of my most favourite times of the day.
Q: What's your least favourite activity with your children?
A: My kids are at an age when I seriously want to do everything with them right now because I feel like they are going to be gone soon. Having said that, picking up dog poo in the backyard isn't high on my list.
Q: Do you think the federal government is doing enough to provide daycare options for Canadian parents?
A: I don't think there are enough daycare spots across the country to meet the needs of the average Canadian family. The alternative forms of childcare are too expensive for the average family and I think the federal government should absolutely be supporting the creation of more regulated daycare spots so Canadian parents who wish or need to work can readily find accessible, clean and safe daycare arrangements.
Q: There's been a lot of talk lately about"free range parenting" vs. "hyper parenting" - What's your take?
A: I am watching the hyper-parenting trend very much right now as my children are smack in the middle of that demographic. Again, I'm not a parenting expert, but I think our generation coined the term 'control freak'. I think we all have to take a step back and try not to fall into those control freak tendencies when it comes to our kids. It's hard. But they have to grow up some day.