Parenting is one of those things you don’t really get until you are one. Before becoming a parent, I’ll admit I was a little judgey. When you don’t have kids running around and then see some that get into everything, you automatically think, “Gosh, why don’t the parents watch their kids?”
It’s so easy to think, “When I have kids, I will do XYZ and they will be perfect! All you have to do is listen and discipline, if needed, and they will be model citizens.”
If I could go back and slap my naive face, I probably would. Now I just look up at people who have that same sort of judging look and think, “Just you wait! Kids aren’t robots that do what you specifically ask them to do every time.”
Even after all the observations, all of the mental notes of what to do and what not to do, and all of the bits of advice people have given you, there are still some things they can’t describe. Maybe they leave it out so you can figure it out yourself. Or they just haven’t fully understood it to explain it clearly.
Just a disclaimer before we keep going: I love my kids. I love being a mother. When you think about anything you love, it doesn’t usually come without some sort of obstacle, some kind of test. Because if you aren’t tested or don’t have any opposition to it, you don’t really know the depth of your feeling for it.
The Days Are Long
It doesn’t matter what stage of life you’re in with your kids, many days feel neverending. In the newborn stage, all you want is sleep. You crave the thought of cuddling up in your bed and just resting for a few more minutes. It seems the clock will never say bedtime and your body just needs a break.
Then you get to the toddler/small child stage. They are so busy and if the child is your oldest, probably wants you to hang out and play everything because it’s just them. When they give up afternoon naps, that free time you once enjoyed meshes into more activities they spend 5-10 minutes on before moving on.
Obviously we haven’t moved up to the next stage yet but it seems that once school starts, it’s an endless sea of getting homework done, heading to practices, games, concerts, etc. On top of that add the housework, laundry, and any other little thing that needs to be done.
Some days you’ll look at the clock, thinking time has passed and it’s only about ten minutes later than the last time you looked.
The thing to remember is that in the big picture, time is flying. You might be frustrated, annoyed, exhausted at certain points of the day but take a few minutes to recharge. Take a few minutes to hide to enjoy a snack or just to breathe and then head back out there and enjoy the time.
I know it’s said all the time but you’ll never have this day again with your children. Change your perspective and the days will change too.
You will have to work through exhaustion
Max and I talked about sleep one day, probably because it’s a rare commodity these days. He pointed out that once you have kids, you’ll probably never sleep the same again.
When you have a newborn, you wake up several times a night to feed and change the baby. When they are toddlers and young kids, they tend to have nightmares or want to sleep in your bed night after night. I don’t know how your kids sleep but C is all over the place and I’ve had a foot in the face and gut a few times.
They get a little older and you might lose sleep over problems in your child’s life. Then they become teenagers and you lose sleep as you wait for them to come in at curfew, or later than that.
By the time your kids are grown and out of the house, your body no longer lets you sleep as long as you want, making you get up way before dawn.
And yet, somehow you fight your way through it. You do the best you can and you make the best of the moments and adventures, because those are the memories to look back on with wonder and fondness.
Being a Good Parent isn’t easy
Parenthood comes with all sorts of inner conflicts. You don’t want your kids to eat too much sugar but you’re sick of them asking you for the 500th time in the past two hours.
Then there is the fact that you want your kids to like you but you also don’t want them to be little brats.
Then you have people telling you that you’re doing “it” wrong or that you should be doing “it” this way. Whatever “it” is, it can get frustrating fast. Maybe people are questioning your discipline system. Granted, if you’re abusing your child, that should be questioned.
These can all add to the pressures of parenting. The best thing is to make a plan with your spouse about how things will go. If a new situation pops up and you’re not quite sure how to go about it, make a new plan and go from there. Parenting is a lot easier when you and your spouse are on the same page and can defend each other when the world is questioning why you do certain things.
Be yourself and trust that you know your kid.
Fear of screwing up
I love this quote because it’s so true. As confident as you feel about your parenting skills before actually becoming a parent, you soon find that you know very little. Even if something works with one child, you might have to do something completely opposite to affect another.
As everyone has an opinion about everything, there are articles all over the internet contradicting each other. You worry about if your kids won’t have the same advantages if you don’t breastfeed them or if you use a certain type of diapers.
TV and technology time can make you go crazy. One expert says they should only watch 2 hours a day and others say that it’s bad for them to watch unless they’re over the age of 12. You don’t want their brain to turn into mush but you don’t want them to be illiterate with technology.
What if you put them in sports or music too soon? Will that make it so they don’t get a certain advantage 15 years down the road?
There is no way to get over every single fear but the importance is to not let it take over your life. You will make mistakes, you’re human after all. Weigh the options and come up with your decision. Talk to your spouse about how to handle certain scenarios. Do what you can to move forward and make the best of any situation.
Your Heart Will Break Every Time Theirs Does
The hardest part about being a parent is that every comment or action that happens to your child affects you 100x worse. If your child is bullied, gets pushed away from their group of friends, or doesn’t achieve their dream when they wanted it so badly, you will be heartbroken as well.
You will want to take them in your arms, as you should, hug and kiss them and let them know you are there. What you shouldn’t do is butt in and try to solve everything for them. Talk through it with them. Help them understand how they should act in certain situations and let them come up with the final decision.
We want to keep our kids from pain but the sooner they learn to take charge of it, the better off they’ll be. It will probably never get easier for you as the parent, but our job is to prepare them for whatever comes at them. We are always there but we don’t necessarily make it all better.
No matter how many things you go through, parenting is worth all of the effort, the sleepless nights, the anxiety and fear of failing. Seeing a child succeed is one of the greatest parts of life and family.
What is something no one told you before you became a parent?
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