Parenting is a hard gig. There’s no sugar coating it. It’s the most wonderfully exhausting, rewarding, frustrating, endearing, meaningful job on the planet in my opinion. And is it just me or is everyone always ready to jump in with their unsolicited advice? ESPECIALLY if you seem like you’re a new parent… To make matters worse – so much of the time the advice you get as a new parent contradicts itself! Here are six REAL pieces of parenting advice I wish I had known sooner.
My Child Development Degree taught me a lot…
I majored in Human Development and Family Studies in college. My dad used to tell people that I was going to school to learn how to be a professional mom. I took classes in child development, child guidance, adolescence, etc. I parented a “virtual child” (true story) and read plenty of parenting books. I also babysat and nannied and worked in child enrichment centers and taught children’s church. I interned with a program that taught new and at risk parents how to care for their babies.
I was such a pro before I had kids.
Then I became a mom.
You know what they don’t teach in child development classes? How to survive colic.
Or how to deal when you are completely hormonal and sleep deprived in those newborn days.
They don’t teach you what to do when you have a child who scratches to the point of bleeding because their eczema is so bad.
They don’t teach how to handle it when other moms judge your parenting choices.
They don’t tell you what to say to the onlookers who are watching your child throw a very public fit in the middle of the grocery store.
They don’t tell you about all the self doubt that you experience as a mom.
They don’t tell you how to be a calm mom even when you feel irritable.
They don’t tell you about how lonely it can feel to be a mom, even though you never actually have the chance to be alone.
I’ve had my highs and lows. I’ve had my seasons where I’ve felt like I was totally nailing the mom role, and I’ve had seasons where I’ve doubted everything I’ve ever done as a mom. Through the years I’ve had my share of moments where I’ve heard another mom’s stories and said “thank goodness it’s not just me!”
Here are the top 6 pieces of parenting advice that I wish I had known sooner
1. Other people do not have to approve of your parenting choices.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for you to get valuable wisdom and input from those who have walked the road before you, but ultimately you know your child better than anyone else. There are so many different approaches to parenting. Just because someone else’s path looks different than yours doesn’t mean either path is wrong.
2. A little encouragement goes a long way.
This parenting thing is HARD and we all know it. We all feel it. Yet for some reason we still look for ways to criticize other moms’ choices because we can pat ourselves on the back and say “well at least I don’t do THAT.” Stop. Just stop. We’re all in this together. Instead of criticizing each other, let’s start celebrating what each of us brings to the table. Encourage each other. Swap ideas. Celebrate the good things with each other. Lament the hard things. But stop criticizing. It doesn’t benefit anyone when you do.
3. You cannot do it all. And no one else is doing it all either.
It’s easy to look at Instagram and think that other moms actually do have a clean house, time to work out, happy kids, home cooked meals, time to go out with the girls, time to work a job, and sexy date nights with their spouse. Nope. Don’t buy it. Everyone only has 24 hours in a day and I don’t care how organized and scheduled you get, there is only so much you can fit into 24 hours. Pick the priorities for your family in your current season and move forward with those confidently. If folding the laundry doesn’t make the cut for your priority list in this season, look at those unfolded clothes baskets with pride!
One of the ways I make sure that the way I’m spending my time lines up with my real priorities is by making an intentional plan for the day rather than just letting the day happen to me. You can grab the tool I’ve created to do this below!
4. Your kids are only little once.
Rock them to sleep if you want to. Let them make messes. Make eye contact. Laugh with them. Be silly. Don’t fill your schedules so full that you miss the beautiful little moments with your children each day.
Related Post: Peaceful and Present.
5. Your kids are watching you. No pressure.
I say this with the MOST grace possible. Give yourself grace for the areas where you fall short of your own expectations and standards, but don’t use that as an excuse to accept every area of weakness as something that is fixed and unchangeable. This is a hard truth to hear, and I say this in the most loving and gentle way possible: You will pass your baggage onto your child if you don’t deal with it. Do not neglect yourself and your own personal growth in the name of motherhood. One of the greatest gifts you can give to your children is a mom who is at peace with herself and is continuing to prioritize her own growth and mental health. Take the time to take care of you, and get professional help when you need it.
Related Post: The Importance of Self Care for Moms
Do not expect yourself to be perfect. Do not expect to get it all right. Do your best to be a present, intentional parent. Commit your children to the Lord, and ask Him to fill in your gaps. Chill out about all the other little things. Every time a problem presents itself and fills your field of vision, take a step back and get some perspective. Picture yourself in a month or two months or two years. Do you think this problem will still be as big of a deal then as it feels now? No? Okay, then deal with it now but don’t freak out about it. You will all survive and it will be okay.
6 Pieces of Parenting Advice I Wish I Had Known Sooner Recap:
Other people do not have to approve of your parenting choices. You can’t do it all. Your kids are only little once, and what you teach them and model for them matters. Pick your priorities. Focus on what matters, and relax about the rest.
P.S. Before you go…
Make sure you download your FREE Unhurried Planner! Make sure that how you’re spending your time and your energy reflects your true priorities! Plan intentionally so that you can live purposefully!