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Book Review: Stop and Smell Your Children

 Stop and Smell

Book Description:

Ready to laugh about motherhood and be encouraged? Tired of feeling overwhelmed and stressed out in the baby and toddler season? Need some fresh vision and perspective so you can enjoy—not just endure—your young children?

Stop and Smell Your Children: Laugh and Enjoy the Little Years offers moms-to-be and moms of young children short, real-life parenting stories that encourage and inspire. Leah Spina, mother of three children ages five and under, and former journalist, unleashes humor and perspective for tired moms who are parenting the “little” years. From the excitement of the positive pregnancy test to morning sickness and the banes of pregnancy, to childbirth, babies, toddlers and new parent struggles, the stories will make you laugh and see beauty in the chaos. Each story also includes thought-provoking takeaways to help busy moms gain a fresh outlook.

Strangers remind us that our children will be small only for a short time and to enjoy each moment. But then we return to the wild reality of parenting young children! All-night crying sessions. Never-ending laundry. Every-three-hour feeding schedules. Diaper explosions and projectile spit-up. Teething. Potty training. Yes, we enjoy our children, but we’d also like to enjoy a shower that lasts more than two minutes, or a meal that isn’t lukewarm (if we’re lucky). The truth is, pregnancy and parenting young children can be hard at times. But it can also be one of the best chapters of our lives, if we can learn to laugh and change our mindset.

Young children are one of life’s greatest gifts. Each page of this easy read will help you truly enjoy the “little” years!

Meet the author:

Leah Spina is a former journalist of a national newsweekly magazine and also worked as a childbirth coordinator at a large adoption agency. She has her B.S in Business Administration from Thomas Edison State College. She has two adorable children – Samson and Esther – and resides in Dallas, Texas with her husband, David. When she’s not changing diapers, she enjoys singing Broadway, sun tanning on Italian beaches and riding horses.

Interview with Leah Spina:

  1. Tell us a little about you. Sure! I am a former journalist of a national news magazine turned stay-at-home mom. I live in the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas area with my husband, David, and three children, age five and under. Samson is five, Esther is two and we have a baby that’s only five-weeks-old. Whew!
  1. What’s your book about? My new book, Stop and Smell Your Children: Laugh and Enjoy the Little Years is a short, easy read for busy moms of young children. It’s full of real life parenting stories to help overwhelmed parents laugh and change their parenting perspective so they can enjoy, not just endure, the little years. It’s full of encouragement and inspiration for the tired mom!
  1. Why do you feel your book message is important? I feel that so many parents, including me, can easily get bogged down in the constant caretaking that young children require. It’s not a fun way to live and you can start resenting your children because you are not enjoying it. I believe, with all my heart, that if we can STOP in our busy day to find and enjoy ordinary, extraordinary moments with our little ones we can truly enjoy this crazy but wonderful season of young children!
  1. What are some of the topics of your book? Oh, the chapters titles are topics all parents can relate to! Pregnancy, labor and delivery drama, sleepless newborn nights, teething, potty training, traveling with children, eating out with children, nursing, etc – it’s all there. The nitty gritty of new parenthood.
  2. Who is your target audience? Expectant parents and parents of children age zero to five years old is my target audience. But have I have also had grandparents and parents of older children read it and say it was fun to relive the little years through the stories.

My Thoughts:

I must admit that the first few chapters of this book made me want to close the cover and walk away. The author begins this book with a laundry list of complaints about pregnancy, childbirth and the experiences of mothering her first child. I believe the author was writing honestly about her feelings, but I was turned off by her tone, and I would imagine other new mothers might feel the same. She writes about the inability to adventure on her ‘babymoon,’ about driving around in her Suburban and about being grossed out by breast milk and other bodily fluids. It sounded like a whole lot of grumbling by a woman living an overly privileged life.

The first few chapters were a torture for me to read, but thankfully my feelings changed quite a bit around chapter eight. In that chapter the author describes an experience with miscarriage that altered her view of mothering. As a reader this chapter changed my perspective of the book and I found the words that followed much more enjoyable to read with interesting tidbits on treasuring the moments parents experience.

The takeaway from this book is to cherish the time we have with our children. Even in those early days and years of motherhood when our bodies are misshapen and our brains are tired from lack of sleep.

After years of infertility I never felt resentful or unhappy with my children so this book did not speak to me, but I would imagine the later chapters might speak to a mother struggling with the transition to motherhood. If you are unhappy with this phase of life I would imagine the author’s words would ring true:

“Unless you purposely stop in life to appreciate the here and now, you’ll rush through each day often unhappy and unsatisfied. Instead of resenting the new-parent pace of life, be grateful for this temporary, once-in-a-lifetime magical slow season of young children. Try to find times in your day to stop and relish the moment with your children… Savor today’s special moments and anticipate tomorrow’s rainbows. You’ll only find them if you look for them.”

Whether you or unhappy or not it never hurts to look for the special moments of motherhood. Over the years I’ve found it helpful to keep a journal for each of my children. I want to capture my thoughts and create a record of feelings as my children grow.

I liked some of the lessons in this book, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the tone in which those lessons were presented. Perhaps a mother struggling with her new found parental status would enjoy it more than I did.