Did you know that I was the perfect parent? Did I mention this was before I had children? Before I had my wonderful child, I had a lot of opinions on raising children. You would never catch me doing some of those things! I would judge mothers because I knew better than they did. Oh, how wrong I was!
Once my daughter was born, all of my carefully researched ideas went out of the window. I found myself doing things I said I would never do. I’m not alone in this either! Memes are all over the Internet showing how common this really is.
It’s easy to judge when we don’t have children. After all, we were all children at some point and were parented. Maybe we babysat or had an extended family. Either way, it’s easy to think “I would never do that. I’d do better” when you aren’t in the weeds.
Every child is different. There are no two children that are the same and every child needs to be parented differently. And parenting standards change all the time. My grandmother never kept her children in
As times change and parenting styles change,
As a new parent, one of the most humbling lessons I learned is that I needed to throw my preconceptions out of the window and embrace this new life. We’ll all be a lot happier because of it!
Here’s a list of nine things that I’ve done that I swore I’d never do. I’m far from perfect and I had no idea what I was getting into!
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Eat hidden snacks
I swore that I’d only feed my child healthy foods. I’d make my own baby food and only buy organic. I would never be the mother hiding in the bathroom eating a hidden chocolate bar! Oh, how naive I was! Parenting is hard. It’s challenging. And there are days when really all I want is a piece of chocolate. And my daughter knows what that is.
Making my own baby food didn’t happen. I dropped the organic thing quick when it became difficult to purchase (we don’t have special grocery stores where I live). And I have relaxed the foods that I give to my daughter. I’ve let her try chocolate. I’ve given her cookies. And I’m not a horrible mother for it. The look in her eyes when she tries something like chocolate for the first time is a feeling I’ll never forget and I’m glad she knows what chocolate is! But I’m still going to hide in the bathroom some days having a snack just for me that I don’t have to share.
Turn on the TV when I need a minute
I was raised in a no-TV kind of house. We didn’t have cable until I was in high school. We were limited to what we could watch and my mother would put hard and fast rules on how long the TV could be on. As an adult, I’ll watch some TV now and then but it’s not uncommon for the TV to be left off for days at a time (unless it’s baseball season in which case my husband is watching).
So it was really easy to decide that I wouldn’t let my child get any screen time before two years old. Use the TV as a babysitter? I would never! I laugh at myself now…
When you’re a parent, you don’t get sick days. You don’t always have a backup when you’re home with your child alone. And sometimes you need to be able to make dinner (you know, the whole feeding the child thing is really important) and it’s best if your child isn’t underfoot. So there are times when I’m happy to turn the TV on for my toddler. We don’t do it every day, but I’m lucky to have some help at most meal times.
My kid likes certain shows and uses her words to tell us what she sees on the screen. She’s benefitted from it in my mind and I’ll continue to let her watch TV when I need to.
Left a store with my toddler
My toddler wasn’t going to have meltdowns. If she did, I’d know exactly how to diffuse the tantrum and we’d finish our shopping trip. I know, I know. There are times when my spirited child just needs to let out her emotions. And that’s OK and developmentally appropriate. My daughter tends to be physical and when I’m alone, it becomes a safety hazard.
When safety is concerned, step one is ALWAYS getting your child to safety. For us, that means no shopping cart and strapped into her car seat. It’s not the most fun, but that’s my life these days. And I don’t judge myself for it. My kid’s safety is my number one priority and she’s just being a toddler. Her big emotions are tough on her little body so sometimes they spill over. It happens. This is why I shop online and sometimes have groceries delivered!
Drive around aimlessly with a sleeping baby
I was going to have a great sleeper. And you know what? I do! She’s so great at sleeping and I’m thankful for it every single day. We lucked out and got a great baby model that is amazing at sleep. That being said, there are still times when my great sleeper decides sleep is for the birds!
When your child is sick, going through a sleep regression, or a newborn, you do anything you have to do to get them to sleep. Sometimes it’s best to tough it out so they develop good sleep habits, but there are days when Mama and Dada haven’t gotten any sleep and both need a break. We’ve resorted to putting the baby in the car seat and driving around at night so that the other parent can get some good quality sleep. At that point, we do what we have to do.
I’ve also taken naps mid-day. I don’t usually nap, but you do what you’ve got to do when you’re sleep deprived.
Do laundry at 2 am
If you told me that I’d be doing laundry at 2 am when my daughter was a newborn, I wouldn’t have believed you. But there we were in the middle of the night up and wide awake. And sometimes, I just needed to do something to keep myself awake. Those times, I’d put the baby in a ring sling and walk around the house doing chores. Often it would be laundry, but I didn’t discriminate against any quiet chores.
I would pick up the living room, put away the dog toys, and rock her the entire time. Eventually, she would fall asleep and then I’d transfer her back into her crib. The next morning I’d have a finished load of laundry so it made the next day easier.
Invite people over when my house is a mess
Growing up, our home was always spotless. I have some memories of a messy toy room, but mostly I remember my mother being an amazing housekeeper. She worked two days a week and worked hard on those “days off” to take care of her children and keep the house clean. The house was never in bad enough shape for visitors to notice.
I decided that I was going to be the same way! I was originally working full time but how hard could it be keeping my house clean, taking care of my baby, and making sure I was keeping up at work? It turns out, it’s a lot harder than it looks! Eventually, I came to accept that sometimes having a clean house isn’t in the cards. It’s OK if toys are left out, the laundry isn’t folded and put away immediately, or things aren’t exactly where they belong.
The most important thing to me is making sure that I’m making memories with my daughter. I want her to remember the fun things we did together and show her that it’s OK if the house isn’t 100%. If anyone judges me for it, then that’s on them. I’ll be over here having a tea party with my daughter. Plus I know how to quickly pick up after she’s in bed.
Make my daughter her own dinner
Children should eat whatever you put in front of them. If they don’t like it, well then they’ll go hungry for a night and maybe tomorrow they’ll reconsider. Yes, I’m laughing at myself now too. My daughter had some issues with reflux when she was a baby. I was so anxious about her weight gain (or lack thereof) that food is a sensitive thing for me. So while I consistently introduce new foods, I make sure I have some food on standby that I know she will eat.
This means that sometimes I make two lunches for daycare. I send it something that she hasn’t taken to yet, and something I know she’ll eat. Daycare always tries the former first but I know my child won’t go hungry. Sometimes I have to make a second dinner. But that’s OK. She’s still so young! And I’m not as tough and I thought I would be.
Bring the baby to bed so we can all get some sleep
It was safest for my baby to be in her crib. I would never bring her to bed with me! In fact, I was going to move her to her own room at 8 weeks so that we’d all be adjusted by the time I went back to work at 12 weeks. I think we’ve established by this point that I was clueless.
My daughter had reflux so sleeping on a flat surface was out. Instead, we turned to the Rock n Play. This thing is amazing! It rocked her all night long for the most part and kept her propped up so that she could actually sleep. And because it was small, I was able to keep it right next to my bed.
We didn’t move my daughter to her own room until she was six months old. I wasn’t ready at 8 weeks and I didn’t feel ready until she was sleeping through the night and a noisy sleeper. And that’s OK. We all felt comfortable with that arrangement.
And when she’s sick? That baby is in bed with me if that’s the only way she’ll sleep. Funny enough, she won’t sleep in our bed if she’s healthy. She doesn’t want to. But if she’s not feeling well, all she wants is Mama and Dada so that’s what we give her. No shame.
Play the same song over and over again because the tiny dictator demanded it
I didn’t even realize this was a *thing*! Seriously, I had no idea that kids have legitimate meltdowns when the song changes if it’s their favorite. I have friends that are going through the same thing right now. It honestly tests your sanity because there’s only so many times you can hear the same thing over and over again. But we love our little tiny dictators and they are just so cute when they do the hand motions to the wheels on the bus so we play it over and over and over again.
I’m afraid for the day my daughter learns to say “Alexa, repeat!”
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A few years ago, my life was a mess. I had so much to do, so many responsibilities, and too much for one person to handle. Since then, I got my stuff together and have a far more stress free life. Help me help you decrease your stress and live your calmest life.