Until you have kids, you can only guess how you will tackle the challenge of parenting. And chances are, you are going to guess wrong.
I will never forget conversations with friends or with my husband discussing the way we would parent when the time came. Now, this was before we actually had kids of our own, so of course, we knew exactly what we would do, exactly what we wouldn’t do, and we had it all figured out. That is until we actually had a child of our own, and we quickly realized we had NOTHING figured out. We are four years in now and are still clueless!
Me before: I’ll never buy my kids toys for no reason!
Me now: Of course you can have another monster truck to add to your collection!
Me before: I’ll never give my kids treats before eating a healthy, home-cooked meal.
Me now: I’ll give you a popsicle if you finish your chicken nuggets.
Me before: I’ll never let my kids watch TV!
Me now: Let’s watch a movie together as a family! (like every night)
What I’ve found in becoming a mom is that it is an ever-evolving journey. There is no right or wrong way to raise a child; there is only YOUR way. Do what works for you. Don’t compare your parenting decisions or your journey to anyone else’s because there is no right answer, only trial and error. Just when you think you have it figured out, you hit a turning point, and you are in a new stage with a new set of joys and experiences, but also difficult hurdles to work through. Here are a few of my personal tips for what has helped me to navigate my personal motherhood journey thus far:
- Never say never. You have no way of predicting the future, and you certainly don’t know what is or will be best for you and your family until you are in the thick of it. Don’t judge what other parents do just because it isn’t the same way you parent. Show kindness to everyone and do what YOU think is best for your family.
- Go with the flow. I understand that this personality trait is not in everyone’s nature (my husband included!). However, I’ve found that when I’m open to change, not too hard on myself and gentle with my expectations, I’ve been able to navigate the tough mommy moments with more patience and understanding.
- Take time to take care of yourself. Working out every day is essential. It’s an instant mood booster, it makes me feel good, and it allows me to focus on what is important to me as a person. Whether I’m waking up at 5:00 a.m. to workout before everyone wakes up or I’m out pushing the stroller, I make it a commitment every day because it truly makes me a happier, more patient mom (and spouse, just ask my husband!).
- Focus on my personal goals. I love being a mom more than life itself, but I also have personal goals and dreams. Not only do I work towards those goals every day, but I continue to build on those dreams. They are ever-changing because I am always working hard to develop and grow as a person. Bottom line? Find what makes you happy. What dreams do you have? For some, it’s being a full-time stay-at-home mom. For others, it’s working full-time in a corporate career. Maybe you dream of traveling the world or giving back to a charity or cause. Figure out what you are personally passionate about and do what makes YOU happy.
- Take time to date your spouse. This was crucial for us because I feel like we underestimated how difficult it would be to have alone time. My husband and I are both passionate about our work and our businesses, so it can be difficult to shut it off. At the end of most days, we just want to hang out as a family. We found it very difficult to leave our little guy for date nights, especially for overnight trips, but the more we decided to do it, the easier it was to do. Mom guilt (and dad guilt) is no joke, but you have to take time to be a couple and enjoy an actual conversation without being interrupted every 30 seconds (you know it’s true!). We love spending time together as a family, but we love having alone time to catch up and just enjoy each other’s company. We are better parents because of it!