Many of us remember what it is like before we become parents. We see the family eating in the restaurant, the perfect pictures of kiddos vacationing, the social media postings. Perhaps we have judged the child acting out, throwing a tantrum, or talking back. Maybe our inner dialogue starts forming opinions on this behavior and furthermore an expectation on how we will be when we have our own kids… "My kids will NEVER....."
Hold it. Don't say it out loud, I promise. Just do not even speak it into the universe.
Because then we have our own kids... Cue the forehead slap and feel free to slowly crawl under the table with me. Anyone else immediately humbled after week one and still on week 85?! This mom sure did! I pledged to never judge another person for how they parent their child, as my child is throwing bread in the restaurant and screaming for the giant penguin in Target.
Maybe we have the moments where our negative self-talk emerges- “I'm totally screwing this up." "Why is she/he acting like this?" "Am I teaching her/him to be like that?" "I'm completely failing." “I should be grateful that we were able to have kids!” “We are never going in public again!”
The reality is parenting is hard, challenging and exhausting yet rewarding, fulfilling and beautiful, which is why we can be sleep-deprived and still smile every time we hear that sweet giggle.
To all the moms and dads out there, here me loud and clear: you are complete ROCKSTARS, your kids notice your efforts more than you think, and you are not alone in your struggles. Your difficult days will pass, and your beautiful moments will carry you through. Lean into each other when times get tough. Whether you are married parents or not, your ability to co-parent and communicate your needs to one another is vital.
For me, the best medicine has been laughing with my husband after the kids are down because our life is a complete ZOO and humor is what we need in the moment. Humor is known for its mood-boosting benefits and has served as my coping skill and saving grace. To hear other amazing mamas being vulnerable about their humbling moments instantly normalizes my chaos. The stress is suddenly placed in perspective and I start appreciating the imperfect moments because they are some of the funniest and most memorable moment we have. So, I am learning to embrace it all…cue the chaos!
Here is what I remind myself of as often as I need. Maybe it will help you too.
You are doing your best and your best is enough.
Some days are better than others. Tomorrow is a new day.
Parenting is not easy and, if someone told you that, I’d like to meet them.
SLEEP! Sleep, or the lack of, can and will impact how you parent. Everyone in the family needs sleep.
Reach out for help when you need. Supportive measures do NOT indicate that you are failing. Say it to yourself again...
Your spouse/co-parent is not a mind reader. Communicate your needs to one another. Parent as a team.
Prioritize your stress. Focus on what is most important first and tackle one thing at a time. The to-do list will always be there.
Adult time without your kids can be a breath of fresh air. Book the sitter, drive home in silence, schedule the massage, brunch with your besties.
Change your expectation and you will have more enjoyable moments with your kids. The beach with kids is not the beach with adults but it can still be enjoyable. It’s all about your expectations.
Always, be kind to yourself. If you criticize yourself enough, you will start to believe it.