When you first learn you’re going to be a parent, you experience a mix of emotions that run the gamut from happiness and excitement to fear and anxiety. This is something you’ve never done before and it’s kind of a big deal. There are books, websites, apps, friends, and doctors to mine for information, but it can be overwhelming to say the least. Cloth or disposable diapers? What if I suffer from post-partum depression? How do we avoid SIDS? Why isn’t my kid hitting this particular milestone yet?? She just ate dirt – is she going to get sick!? How are we going to afford all of this?? Looking back to your early days as a parent, what is one thing you wish you’d known or would tell your younger-, new parent-self about the parenting journey?
“As a new mum, I was a bundle of self-doubt. I felt like I wasn’t doing anything right and feared that perhaps I wasn’t cut out for the job. Now five years (and another baby!) into the parenting adventure, I have the benefit of hindsight, and I wish I could go back to the beginning and tell myself that it is okay not to cherish every moment.
Nobody cherishes every moment. Sure, some moments are magic. But there are many other moments that are frustratingly hard and on a sleep-deprived/relentless feeding/nothing-stops-the-crying type of day it is quite possible that you will have a wobble and wonder what on earth has happened to your life. Having an off day doesn’t make you a bad parent, it makes you a real person. Keep going – there will always be plenty more of those magical days to look forward to.”
— Sarah Turner, The Unmumsy Mum
“Looking back, I would have to say that I wish I recognized how resilient children are. I would never call myself a helicopter parent but I remember agonizing when they were unhappy or when someone wasn’t nice or fair to them. If I were doing it all over again, I would try to distance myself a bit from their successes and failures, and in fact let them fail so they could see that the world doesn’t end with a bad grade or not being invited to a party.”
— Dr. Alice Domar, Finding Calm for the Expectant Mom
“If I could go back in time I’d tell myself that it is possible to be both incredibly loving and also in charge. It’s an act of love to make decisions in their best interest instead of always to make them happy. Our children desperately need our leadership in their lives and there is a sense of safety and security when they understand that we are fully for them – even when it means not giving them what they want. Be engaged. Love them fiercely. Cuddle often. But also don’t be afraid to be in charge. They need that from us too!”
— Heather Haupt, Knights in Training
“I would definitely tell my former self to CHILL OUT. Not about actually caring for your baby, which is of course super important – but about trying to be perfect all the time. It turns out that no one really cares if it takes you six weeks or six months or six years to lose the baby weight; that your baby doesn’t need an awesome new outfit for every session of music class; and that your baby will thrive and grow and enjoy life even without a themed nursery and being daubed with lavender oil at bedtime. The people who will look askance at you for (briefly!) forgetting your baby’s birthday after said baby kept you up literally all night are not the people you want to be friends with; the people who will lend you a diaper when you could swear you stocked the diaper bag before you left the house but it’s totally empty now are the ones you want in your life. Don’t try to compete with the moms of Instagram (you know the ones I mean) – just let your guard down, and give yourself a break. You’re probably doing fine.”
— Elaine Rose Glickman, Your Kid’s a Brat and It’s All Your Fault
“The one thing I would say to myself would be that even though becoming a parent is an almost universal journey, your particular journey will be unique and yours alone. There are a lot of horror stories out there about people having traumatic experiences of giving birth, and everyone likes to tell you how hard having a newborn is or how horrible toddlers are. My experience has been that mothering has been much easier than I thought. Sure there are moments when I’d like to take a shower by myself, etc., but I got lucky and have an easy baby and none of the things I worried about have come to pass *knocks on wood*. I’ve found a balance between listening to tips and advice, trusting my own instincts, and being guided by my baby’s cues.
On a lighter note, I might also tell myself “Do not read reviews or watch Youtube videos about cloth diapers. Every brand has some negative reviews and it makes it too hard to decide. Just pick something and go with it!”
— Dr. Alice Boyes, The Anxiety Toolkit
What is your best advice for managing work life balance as a parent? Share with us in the comments or on social media!