I’m making a real effort to get back on track in all areas of my life.  Healthy eating – CHECK.  Sleep – CHECK.  Fitness – CHECK.  Catching up on Fear the Walking Dead – CHECK (and AHHH! So good).  And last, but not least, Book a Week!  When I was about 15 books into my New Year’s Resolution, someone asked me if trying to read a book a week would burn me out on reading.  At the time, I said, “Nope!” But… It did.  I definitely had a period where I did not want to pick up a book… so I didn’t.


I’ve been getting back into the habit.  Here’s a GREAT parenting book that I just finished this week.

ITSOK_coverFINAL (1)

Week 27: It’s Okay Not to Share and Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids


This book is AMAZING, thought-provoking, and insightful, and I highly recommend that all parents of young children (2 – 6 years old would probably be the best) pick up a copy.  This book was given to me by Henry’s preschool director, as many of the philosophies described guide the school’s procedures. 


This book has a huge emphasis on unstructured play, which I love.  And the book discusses so many crucial topics and gives great guidance on handling many “discipline” issues… which actually aren’t discipline issues at all.  I loved the idea of “changing the place, not the child” when it comes to so many things, like roughhousing, messy art, or even swear words. This is a very progressive book that places a lot of emphasis on understanding and respecting a child’s emotions.  It also gives a good look at what kids are developmentally capable of understanding/appreciating.


The title – “It’s Okay Not to Share” – focuses on the fact that the author does not support “forced sharing on demand.”  Adults do this, she says, because of social politeness, but what we’re really teaching kids is that 1) they can’t trust adults to protect their play and 2) they should get what they want instantly. She also argues that forced sharing doesn’t actually teach generosity. Instead, the author advocates taking long turns and sharing only when one child ready to be “done,” which actually benefits both kids on the equation. Makes sense to me!  If this mindset sounds logical to you, check out another chapter of the book here!


I think the hardest part of applying these ‘renegade rules’ is applying the rules in public with parents/kids who don’t follow the same philosophy.  There’s a section at the end of each chapter about this very issue, which I really appreciated!  I have actually long been against forced sharing; this rule is easy to enforce when your kid wants something someone else does.  But its haaaard when a stranger is demanding your kid share on demand.  The other day on the playground, another mom told Henry to get off the swing for a kid who had just walked over!  She said, “It’s his turn now. Get off!”  I wasn’t sure what to do so I spluttered out a, “Henry, this boy would like a turn. Are you ready to be done? No? Okay, well when you are, let him have the swing” but I felt SO AWKWARD because I was definitely going against the grain.  Thanks to reading this book, I know that I was politely supporting his right to play (just as I would’ve protected the other kid’s right if Henry had wanted his swing). 


A reader on Instagram asked me for a list of parenting books that I have read and love.  Here you go!


Big Kids

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk

All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood

The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money


Pregnancy, Childbirth and Babies

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

Birthing from Within

Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way

Panic-Free Pregnancy

Happiest Baby on the Block

Baby Whisperer

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding


What pregnancy, baby, or kid books do you recommend?



  • Jackie October 1, 2015, 1:19 pm

    Good for you for not having Henry get off the swing immediately. I’m a huge fan of this type of sharing. As an early childhood teacher I’ve had to guide and model sharing daily. Having children understand that they can’t get what they want instantly, even while using polite manners to ask, can be tough! I definitely want to look into this book as a new parent and educator!

  • Steph October 1, 2015, 1:47 pm

    I agree with the no forced sharing principle, but wonder if the author touches on how this might differ with regard to public vs personal items.

    With the swing, for instance, I definitely don’t agree that one child should be able to walk up and demand that another child give up the swing just because they want it. BUT, I also don’t agree that one child should swing until they are done (mine would swing all day if he could). There are usually only a couple swings at the playground, and I try to strike a balance – if I know no one else is interested, I let my son swing as long as he wants. If others would like a turn, I let him swing for a reasonable amount of time, and then let him know that other kids are waiting.

    If he brings a toy to the playground, he is never made to share it and, likewise, if another child doesn’t want to share their toy, they don’t have to.

    • Steph October 1, 2015, 2:37 pm

      Also, I recommend “Loose Parts: inspiring play in young children”. It really helped me reevaluate the number, type, and quality of toys we have in our house.

    • Caitlin October 1, 2015, 3:04 pm

      I think she generally recommends limits on long turns in public, just because it’s rude. She’s okay with long turns in private.

  • nancy October 1, 2015, 1:48 pm

    No matter what your parenting philosophy that mom on the playground was out of line. Does she get what she wants all the time by demanding it? You handled it beautifully and set a great example for Henry and for the other mom’s child. That was a great mom moment 🙂

  • Kristen October 1, 2015, 1:58 pm

    Different parenting philosophies are interesting.

    I am definitely in the camp that kids DO need to share. If my kid has been swinging for 5 minutes and someone else approaches, then I do make my kid give the kid another turn. Likewise, if they are monopolizing the water faucet at the park, and other kids want to play then I think my kid needs to let the other kid play, too. I don’t believe that this is teaching my child that they can’t trust me, I think I am teaching my kids the realities of life, which are that they don’t always come first. My boys are twins and have had to share since the beginning, and I actually think it has helped them develop social skills.

  • Cindy October 1, 2015, 2:32 pm

    I like the concept, but it seems like such a tight rope to walk between letting a child not share for an extended period of time (maybe the book has suggestions for this?) and teaching a child the give and take of compromise and friendship.

    • Caitlin October 1, 2015, 3:03 pm

      They talk a lot about long turns – she says that long turns are a normal part of development and are fulfilling a need in the child. So long turns are okay. Of course, it’s not fair immediately to the other child, but the other child has the right to long turns, too.

  • Erin @ Her Heartland Soul October 1, 2015, 3:18 pm

    This definitely sounds like the way I want to parent someday!

  • Monica October 1, 2015, 3:25 pm

    Wow, my jaw dropped when I read what you and Henry experienced at the playground! I can’t believe someone would say this to a 3 year old or any child for that matter. What a way to teach your kid to be rude and entitled!

    Like you, I would have been at a loss for words, not due to the not sharing on demand but due to the rudeness! I loved your response.

  • Sharon T October 1, 2015, 4:55 pm

    Anything by Magda Gerber, “Mamma Zen,” “Simplicity Parenting,” and “Elevating Childcare” by Janet Lansbury all helped with our first. Hope they will be as helpful with the second!

  • Kim October 1, 2015, 5:13 pm

    Wow, I’m not a mom so I’m not in the know, but I can’t believe an adult would demand Henry get off of his swing! That’s just rude. She’d never go up to an adult and say that, so why should she to a child?

  • Laura October 1, 2015, 5:32 pm

    We practice a similar philosophy. For favorite things, my kids never have to share. Their lovies, their favorite toys. Nope, you don’t have to share that. I wouldn’t share my favorite things if someone demanded it! But for other things, things a little less loved, then, yep, they totally have to share w/ each other and guests. And things in public, like things at playgrounds and at daycare. They 100% have to share. Those things do NOT belong to them and they need to respect others.

  • Lisa October 1, 2015, 7:00 pm

    While I think play is very important in a child’s development, I also believe that structured play and focused teaching different aspects of academics are important as well. You can set up a play scenario where you could talk about the alphabet in a fun, engaging way. Unstructured play has its place, but I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable paying a school to just allow my child to play play play with no structure. Kids need to be taught many different things. Not everything is innate, and that’s not bad. We aren’t cavemen. Reading needs to be taught. Social skills need to be taught. We all have different beliefs about learning, but as a speech-language pathologist, I am not sure what I would make of a school like this. I am a total softy and hate disciplining kids, but not putting limits on children creates unrealistic expectations. What happens when Henry enters “real” school? I thing you are a great mom and seem to really really love those cuties of yours. I hope you do a bit more research before you decide to follow something so different than the norm.

    • Caitlin October 1, 2015, 8:55 pm

      I am not really sure. I mean, some kids don’t do preschool at all before kindergarten so I feel like I don’t need to worry too much?

    • Ashley October 2, 2015, 12:02 am

      Hmmm…this comment seems to make a lot of assumptions that probably aren’t true. Like, having a focus on unstructured play does not mean there are no limits or restrictions at all.

      And since the education card was played, I’m a professor of psychology who specializes in child cognition. There’s actually a ton of research showing the benefits of unstructured play (especially early in the first 5 years of life) & an actually HINDERING effect of too much structured education early. It interferes with other developmental processes taking place that form through play.

      • Lisa October 2, 2015, 9:29 am

        I guess as speech pathologist we are just so focused on exposing kids to literacy as early and as much as possible. For preschoolers (if they have the attention span) I would start doing focused teaching, not just structured or unstructured play with them during therapy. But hey, that’s just one person’s opinion. I am sure others would disagree with me. I am not saying play is bad – it’s great! It’s absolutely necessary for kids and I support play – I’m just not sure where I would draw the line. We were taught unstructured play means that play is quite literally unstructured. The child does what it wants and you follow their lead. If they change activities every minute, you change activities every minute. Maybe I am getting caught up in semantics?

        Caitlin, I follow you on instagram (your kids are seriously cute!!!) and you mentioned you were thinking about homeschooling. Are you really considering that? This is not negative – I’m just curious! And yes, lots of kids don’t go to preschool, and when they start kindergarten they are often lagging behind other kids. I work with preschoolers and kindergarteners and this has been MY experience, not saying it’s absolute or anything.

        • Caitlin October 4, 2015, 8:10 pm

          I don’t think I could realistically make it work with, well, work. But I would really be interested in exploring the option! I don’t know for sure – I am just beginning to dive into elementary school options and feel SOOOOOOOOOOOO overwhelmed. Charlotte public schools are pretty meh so I’m pretty overwhelmed. Thanks for following me on Instag!!

        • Daisy October 5, 2015, 2:02 pm

          I think maybe this is a case of semantics? My LO is similar in age to Henry and she just started full-day daycare (she had been in daycare between 1 and 2, then home with me for a year while I was on Mat leave with my 2nd kiddo). Our daycare strongly believes in free play as do I. But like some folks have mentioned, that does not mean there is no structure, far from it! They have a schedule they follow every day (Free play from 7:45 to 9:30, wash hands and pee/poo, snack at 9:30, circle time at 10, free play outside from 10:30 to 11:30, wash hands and then lunch from 11:45 to 12:15, nap time until 2:30, free play until 3:30, play outside until about 5, play inside again until 5:45). During free play (inside or outside) the kids play with any of the games, toys, drawing or painting stuff, play doh, science table, trains, bicycles, etc etc etc). There are also periods of structured activity, teacher-led activity, etc. Once a week they do gymnastics for an hour. And the daycare is for ages 3 to 5, with the older kids (4 and above) having regular Pre-K periods where they learn to write their name or sing the national anthem. They also have lots of rules to follow (inside or outside shoes, always wash hands when you come inside, rules about how to take turns, rules about having to lie down during nap time…) Free play doesn’t mean letting them run feral, it’s just that we (the school, and I) don’t want the kids to just go from one pre-set activity to the next one. There’s room in the day for all kinds of stuff! Of course half day preschools have less time to do as much variety in a day but I’m sure over the course of the week they have all kinds of different options for the kids to benefit from all the different ways to play and to learn!

    • K October 2, 2015, 5:45 am

      My almost 3yo daughter has recently started kindergarten / preschool three afternoons a week and her programme is play-based with only a very loose structure. A’s session begins with free play for an hour followed by mat time then afternoon tea and a final mat time before the kids are collected (sessions are only two hours).

      Unstructured / free play doesn’t necessarily mean that the kids aren’t learning maths, science, literacy etc, it just means that the learning is occurring in a much more organic form and as the different opportunities for learning arise. Every time a child spends time with other children and adults outside of their home they’re absorbing and practicing their social skills and appropriate behaviours and limits without needing specific or set instructions on how to do so.

      And just one more interesting thing, my Mother has been a piano teacher for almost forty years and whether you start a kid learning at four or at six, they all usually end up at the same place by the time they’re seven or eight years old so take from that what you will!

  • Katie October 1, 2015, 7:47 pm

    As an educator, I love the Responsive Classroom series of books and Yardsticks: Children in the Classroom Ages 4-14 by Chip Wood. Yardsticks is great because it has bullet points for developmental stages both in and out of the classroom, and states that these are guidelines and a general spectrum because children are individuals and might not reach a specific point at a specific time period. I think the Responsive Classroom book the Power of Our Words was really inspiring — for example to not phrase expectations with don’t language, but in do. Such as saying “Walk” instead of “don’t run”

    Thanks for your recommendations! Even though I’m not a parent, I love reading non fiction.

  • Sarah Emmert October 1, 2015, 7:54 pm

    I like “No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame” Janet Lansbury. I also used the Baby Whisperer for my twins when they were newborns and LOVED it!

  • kwithme October 1, 2015, 8:53 pm

    A technique that we used for when friends came to play, was to put away items that my kids were not willing to share before the friend got there. I do believe that a child has a right to their own things. A book I read ( I don’t remember the title, it has been 10 years), commented that sharing is hard and most adults don’t often share their important belongings. It brought up the fact that most people don’t readily share their cars, where they like to sit in their home, clothing, jewelry, etc. So, basically, I tried to teach sharing as a social grace (taking turns after a reasonable amount of time) but they did not have to share *everything*.

  • Ashley October 1, 2015, 11:56 pm

    I cannot believe some other mom/stranger demanded your kid get off the swing!?!! I think u handled it really well, I would’ve been fuming!

  • Amber October 2, 2015, 12:31 am

    I would have told that mom to kick rocks. Seriously, who does that?!
    I don’t make my kids share right away, unless it’s food or something that can be split-like playdough. Otherwise I just say, “when you’re done, pass it along”. I also believe that kids should lead the way as far as learning. They’ll let you know when they’re eager to learn. My 4 year old is reading and writing, but all at her own speed. I encourage her, but never push. It makes it more fun. You’re doing a fabulous job!

  • Whitney October 2, 2015, 8:51 am

    My mom was a big believer in not forcing sharing. and as a kindergarten teacher I never have kids share if they bring stuff from home (but they do have to explain politely to friends that they’do rather not share). Also, the mom demanding Henry get off the swing sounds a bit out of line!!

  • Amanda Edwards October 2, 2015, 9:42 am

    Not to toot my own horn or anything… When I was expecting my youngest child when my oldest was only nine months old, I looked for resources for parenting two under two and couldn’t find much. I decided to write a book to help other mothers who were in the same situation. It’s pretty good if you ask me


  • Daisy October 2, 2015, 1:17 pm

    Off topic, but do you not post on Fridays? I always look forward to your posts 🙂

    Totally agree about the sharing thing. It should be about helping kids gain the tools to communicate their needs to one another and establish their own boundaries while respecting those of others 🙂

    • Caitlin October 4, 2015, 8:08 pm

      Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t – my life seems really busy now that Claire is mobile!!! Hah. Thank you for reading <3 I really appreciate it.

  • Amanda October 2, 2015, 2:28 pm

    It sounds like you handled an awkward situation really well! 🙂

  • Karen B. October 2, 2015, 4:15 pm

    Great ideas on sharing! I never understood the “give up the toy you chose to play with” mentality and it used to make me a little angry at the playground when the kid who had to “give it up” walked away crying, the other kid looking on, victorious.
    My son had a friend who’s mom had a rule that the “guest” could play whatever they wanted and the person who’s house it was had to go along. It was a disaster and we always regretted play dates with this kid. He would yell, “but I’m the guest!!” over and over and sulked when I told him we didn’t have that rule at our house and that we decided what to play together. I wonder how that kid managed group projects at school or how he will manage marriage some day!

  • Jessica October 3, 2015, 9:46 pm

    Great suggestions! I will have to read “It’s Okay Not to Share” I’m not a believer in forced sharing, either. I also loved “How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk”.

    Other suggestions:

    Janet Lansbury’s “Elevating Childcare”

    “Parenting with Love and Logic”

  • Gauri October 4, 2015, 1:34 pm

    No bad kids by Janet Lansbury. I find standing up for not sharing and waiting your turn super awkward too! I’m curious to read this book now to see what it recommends!

  • Stacey Arnold October 4, 2015, 10:46 pm

    Love this book — the school it’s based on is where I went to pre-school. The author is the daughter of one of my teachers and my mom worked there for years. Now I’m thrilled that my kids are able to attend as well. It is the most wonderful place: my son comes home dirty every day, kids can express themselves and learn in their own way and nature is a big part of the classroom. In my opinion, every parent should read this book. Glad you found it and enjoyed it!

  • mama October 5, 2015, 2:17 pm

    I learned this exact concept of ‘not sharing, rather taking turns,’ a few years back when I worked at a Preschool and have done exactly what you did on the playground before. It is definitely in some circumstances against the grain but hopefully you’re setting a good example to other moms who are at a loss at times when trying to force sharing!! Bravo!!

  • Lisa October 5, 2015, 2:41 pm

    Appreciate book links! I’m due in March with my first and reading everything I can!

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