Tuesday, November 15, 2011

MomSense: A Common Sense Guide to Confident Mothering

 You would think that, with my fourth child, I would be pretty confident in my mothering. Not necessarily so. Sure, I am more confident in many areas, such as interpreting what an infant is trying to communicate, how to go about potty-training boys, and how to deal with a temper tantrum in public. But after the birth of my fourth, I suddenly felt like a wave tossed to and fro in regard to our parenting philosophy in general. We've always adopted more of a Dr. Sears/attachment parenting style, but I found the convenience of the schedule of the Baby Wise approach appealing. The only problem is I've never had the grit to let my baby "cry it out" for a half hour or more.

So when I was offered the opportunity to read and review MomSense: A Common-Sense Guide to Confident Mothering, I jumped at it. This sounded exactly like what I needed! Check out what the book's back cover has to say:
"Do blogs, books, magazines, and well-meaning women in your life have you questioning your mothering intuition? Jean Blacker is here to tell you that you are the best mom for your children--and you have what it takes to raise them.

With personal stories from real moms and proven, practical advice, MomSense helps you honestly assess your skills, embrace your mothering instincts, and develop your own unique mothering style. Rather than pushing one 'right' way to be a mom, this hope-filled book shows you that you can have contentment, joy, and confidence in your role as Mom."
Right off the bat, this is a unique book. First, it's the first book I've ever read that is printed in blue ink! Beyond that, like the back cover states, it's not advocating a specific parenting style ("do-it-this-way-or- else") but it encourages moms to take an honest look at one's own particular style and become more confident in our MomSense.

What exactly is "MomSense"? Author Jean Blackmer, who is herself the mother of three sons and the publishing manager at MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International defines it as "Mom intuition plus common sense." The good news is--even if you don't have very much mommy training starting out (or much common sense!), you can learn new skills and improve your MomSense everyday throughout your parenting journey. (And, by the way, in case you ever feel like mothering leaves you somewhat scatter-brained, Jean points out that "a woman's brain begins functioning at new levels once she becomes a mom." So, even if you're fumbling around in your purse, trying to find your keys, while your kids are begging for quarters for the gumball machine at the grocery store, and the bagger is just waiting on you so he can help you unload your groceries in your car, your MomSense is off the charts!)

After introducing the idea of MomSense and sharing encouragement for growth in our skills as mothers, Jean explores how our mothering is shaped by our own mothers, both positively and negatively. This chapter provided an opportunity for reflection. You've probably found in your own life, that no matter how many times you used to say, "I'll never do that as a mom!", you find yourself doing those very things now that you are a mom. Through reading this chapter (and the reflection questions at the end), I identified some areas where I can work intentionally to improve my MomSense.

The next chapter focuses on decision making. "Life is jam-packed with decisions. How does a person make decisions and live without regret?" You'll find answers here, in this immensely helpful chapter. It offers great advice for trusting your own intuition more fully and making confident decisions. For those like me, who tend to be indecisive and seek out tons of information before making a decision and then second-guess decisions to no end, this chapter was a real confidence booster.

Speaking of decisions, one of the most important choices a mom can make is in regards to the attitude of her spirit. With "practical tips and tools," Jean addresses several areas that are crucial for successful mothering. These are listed and explained as:
  • Sense of Patience: Intentionally practicing patience: the ability to endure waiting, delay or provacation without becoming annoyed or upset
  • Sense of Respect. Modeling and teaching the Golden Rule: do unto others are you would have them do unto you.
  • Sense of Consistency. Becoming the reliable, faithful mom your children need.
  • Sense of Perspective. Avoiding the nonsense and focusing on what matters most/
  • Sense of Self-Control. Practicing and modeling self-discipline in a self-indulgent world
  • Sense of Calm. Remaining composed in the chaos and creating a peaceful home.
  • Sense of Joy. Maintaining a sense of humor and creating a joyful atmosphere in the home.
  • Sense of Love. Building a sensible mothering philosophy grounded in unconditional love.
The above sections are rich not only with encouragement, but also with practical areas where we can all improve our MomSense.

Finally, Jean shares helpful advice for dealing with some of the common challenges of motherhood, such as handling tantrums in public, potty-training, dealing with sibling rivalry, handling advice from in-laws, and more.

Because motherhood is not one-size-fits-all, you won't find that kind of an approach in this book. What you will find, however, is plenty of grace, encouragement, and practical tips to help you become the best mom for your kids. You'll learn how to make decisions in their (and your) best interest, and how to feel confident about them.

Especially because mothering boys can present unique challenges for us moms (since they are so different from us!), I wanted to ask Jean for any tips on becoming more confident in raising sons.

Here's what she had to say:
"First, it's an important step to realize and accept that you are a girl and raising boys can be challenging, they are definitely different than girls.

My advice to help moms grow in their MomSense (and confidence) in raising boys is to rely on things you know, your common sense, such as boys typically are more physical, greater risk takers and louder than girls. And often boys are attracted to things such as video games, balls, trucks and guns. But, it is common sense that even though a boy is more physical it's not okay to hurt someone else, or boys are louder doesn't mean it's okay to be loud all the time, or it's okay to allow your boys to take risks just teach them safety skills too (A book came across my desk called "50 dangerous things every boy should do" or something like that :)., or just because a boy is attracted to video games doesn't mean it's good for him to play endless hours etc.

Then use your mom intuition. You know your boy better than anyone else. If you know what makes him tick you can help him grow in those passions and direct his - what girls might feel are negatives - his boyishness - into positives. For example, a boy that is super physical would probably really enjoy contact sports and needs to get outside every day and release that energy. If you know your son gets a thrill from taking risks help him find some fun and safe ways to experience the adventures he craves. (Husbands are often good sources for this.) Be intentional about really observing your son and getting to know him, be his biggest cheerleader, and trust your intuition in your mothering of him, over time you will become more confident. At times you still will feel at a loss for understanding your boys so I really encourage communication with other moms of sons and glean wisdom from each other, keep a sense of humor, and enjoy your boys and the passion, energy and adventure they bring to your life!"
In conclusion, MomSense: A Common-Sense Guide to Confident Motheringtruly helped me to not only make a decision regarding our parenting style and newborn scheduling, but encouraged me to grow in my confidence as a mom and in the decisions I make for our family. I heartily recommend this book.

And...you can win a copy, courtesy of MOPS. Just leave a comment on this post. I'd love to hear what one area you'd specifically like to become more confident in, in regard to motherhood (but you don't have to share that). I'll post a winner on Monday. (Please be sure to leave your email in the contact. Shipping to US residents only, please).

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book to review and one to give away.


  1. It's a wonderful thing to know we already have everything we need to parent our children- God gifted us with the "right" kids and the sense to raise them.

    It is refreshing to read that we have everything we need, and can fine tune our gifts and skills as parents to develop our MomSense.

    I enjoyed the book as well.

  2. I would love to win a copy of this book. I just had my 4th baby, and could really use some encouragement and direction! k.a.adams13 at gmail dot com

  3. As the author of MomSense it's really encouraging for me to hear you gleaned some inspiration and practical advice from the book. I truly hope moms who read it will discover their unique MomSense and become the confident moms our children need.

    Keep talking to each other because it really helps, as MOPS says, "Friends don't let friends mother alone"! And congrats on the new baby!

  4. I would love to win this book. I'd like to become more confidant with the choice to homeschool. I believe it's what is best for our family, but often there is that nagging voice saying I'm not good enough. Thanks. ayoungcoupon at gmail dot com.

  5. I would love to win this book also. I always go to the internet or books for advice assuming I really don't know what I am doing. And I am raising 4 kids.

    Thanks for the chance to win.


  6. I am currently pregnant with baby #4. With our first three, we used Babywise and this time around I was thinking of switching to AP! I am curious to know what you decided to do! I would really love to read this book! Thank you for sharing it.

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  8. When reading this book I felt like the author was talking to just me. I loved how real the stories are. They gave me a sense of "oh, it's not just me that experiences these feelings/situations". Fantastic read. I recommend it to every mom!

  9. As I read MomSense, I felt both assured that I'm doing some things right, like showing affection and teaching my children to be respectful, and also convicted that I can do others things better, like not yelling and being more patient. I believe any mom, whether she has big kids or little kids, can take away some valuable insight from this book.