I am sure there are several people out there that could tell you their versions of parenting hindsight 20/20. Well, this is mine. As a busy stay-at-home-mom to three young girls, I am forever looking at my past if only to learn from it. This could be a very long article, however I will keep it simple with my top five biggest lessons, learned the hard way of course.
- It’s not all as effortless as some make it seem on social media (no really, I thought this!)
I can remember sitting on my couch, in a one bedroom apartment full of ideas about my future. Having only just recently moved into my first place, gotten married and started a stable job… I was without a doubt very naive to the reality of parenting. Sure I had babysat before, taken care of younger cousins and changed a few diapers. I had certainly seen my fair share of temper tantrums and even recalled throwing a few myself. However, not once did I take into account the moment my 4 year old would come to me devastated because we had to move in with family after falling on hard times. Or the first time I walked into my bosses office to hand in my two weeks, simply explaining I couldn’t afford the cost of child care and needed to stay at home to care for my daughter, then the second time and eventually the third. Now I find myself looking back, sitting on that couch day dreaming of holding my baby, taking photos to hang all over the house and fun times at the park. Sure we still do all those great things, but the ups and downs are very real. There is just as much work, blood, sweat and tears that goes into raising a child as there is love, time and devotion. Now I am learning that those hard times are really what make us a family. Don’t be discouraged by the negatives, but be prepared for the reality of them.
- Loving your kids comes in many colors.
By this I simply mean that discipline matters. Take time to find what works for you and your child, putting them first of course. Make sure you keep the lines of communication open and remind them consistently that you are correcting them because you love them. It was a long road for our family, my first is a great kid but she is my daughter after all and with that comes a stubborn mind. We found ourselves realizing that a lot of her attitude was preventable had we nipped it in the bud the moment it started. Moving forward we take this newer approach with my other two and now things run much smoother all around.
- If I give myself some time away, I can come back and give my kids more quality moments.
This one is not easy to type. I know now I am not alone in this, but at the time all I could think was, “What is wrong with me?!”
Let me take you back to when I had my first daughter. It was a textbook pregnancy and perfect labor. I had no major complications and my daughter was a relatively easy newborn. She took to breastfeeding well, we even did skin to skin and I made it a point to take as much leave as I could from work. Flash forward four years. I now have three daughters, including a newborn, a toddler and a very active four year old going on thirteen! As you can imagine I had my hands full, but that was no excuse for the thoughts I was struggling with and the emotions I couldn’t seem to control. After all this was my third child, third time around the bend and I knew what to expect, right?
With much debate I finally had myself checked for PPD (Postpartum Depression) and anxiety disorder. Sure enough, I was affected by it…big time. The news hit me like a sucker punch. “How could this have happened the THIRD time around?” I had so many questions! Thankfully I also had a very good doctor who was very supportive.
It wasn’t until I sought out help that I realized I wasn’t giving my children the quality care and nurturing they needed and so rightfully deserved. I needed to take a step back, a few moments away and collect myself so that I could be a better mother.
- Save, Save, Save!!
This one is big, however, there really isn’t much to it though other than the age old adage, “Save for a rainy day!” You never know how quickly you will find yourself wishing you had started that savings account until you are knee deep in debt and wishing you could start over. Of course, it’s never too late to start!
- Plan for the worst but trust yourself.
Just like with any survival kit, the goal is to avoid the worst but still accept that it is a possibility. I recommend taking this approach when you pack your parenting survival pack. Toss in some books about the pros and cons of vaccines, a little bit of your own childhood trauma repellent and maybe even an extra pack of over the counter nausea relief for those times when the waters get really rocky. All jokes aside, try not to think as though it could never happen to you and your child… whatever it is. Chances are, if there is something you are unaware of it will come back to bite you in the butt at some point. Why risk it? Knowledge is power and you can never have too much!
Leave a comment and let me know your biggest lessons learned the hard way!