Being a parent is not easy, anyone with experience can tell you that. Parenting is not just a single job, you’ll learn to wear many hats, including maid, chef, event planner, psychologist, doctor, teacher, storyteller, entertainer, teddy bear surgeon…well, you get the picture. Parenting is a never-ending commitment and can be extremely unpredictable.
Sometimes your head is spinning trying to figure out how a beautiful, sunny morning full of smiling faces and lovely kisses ended up as a loud evening filled with fighting, crying, scabbed knees, mud-caked faces, and dinner boiling over on the stove. Seriously, it can happen in the blink of an eye. And then there are the days that feel like three days rolled into one; make breakfast, drop off at day care or school, work, make dinner, do baths, and finally, the bedtime routine (which is often an exhausting battle in itself). Parenting is just not easy, but guess what? It is extremely rewarding.
Hands down, the most rewarding thing you will ever do with your entire life. It is absolutely amazing how one little, dimpled smile from such a tiny person can wipe away all the disaster of the day. The trick is focusing on these moments, and remembering that this is why we do it. Of course, there are other little tricks that can make things a bit easier along the way. Check out our list:
1. Get more sleep
Yes, we can hear the snickers, snide comments, and loud guffaws that just resulted from that suggestion. Who wouldn’t get more sleep, if it were possible? We all need more sleep. Lack of sleep is one thing nearly every parent across the globe can relate to. Let us offer a few suggestions that might help you catch a few more zzz’s. You could try moving your bedtime up an hour or two. You can try to catch a nap while your baby or toddler is napping. It is very tempting to use that time to catch up on chores, but the extra sleep is well worth leaving the dirty dishes for later. More sleep means you’ll be functioning more efficiently during the day, meaning you’ll accomplish more in the long run. If you have a partner who is able to help, ask them to get up when your child wakes up so you can gain an extra hour of sleep. The same goes for babies who still need feeding overnight, one partner should do all of the feedings one night, then switch off with the other person for the next night. This helps ensure that you both get solid, unbroken sleep every other day.
2. Learn to trust your instincts
One of the reasons that parenting is so stressful is because we worry too much. We want everything to be perfect for our child, we never want them to get sick, and we want them to be happy all the time. So, let’s just face facts here, things aren’t going to be perfect, they’re going to get sick (a lot), and they are never going to be happy all the time. Those are just impossible expectations. Worrying causes so much stress, which in turn can cause harm to our body. Too much stress lowers immunity and can actually cause physical pain or discomfort. When you spend all your time second-guessing your decisions and researching every little aspect of your child’s life, you’re missing all the good stuff. It’s so important to learn to trust your instincts. You know deep down what is best for your child. Stop searching for the “right” answers to every part of parenting, and go with what feels right. Even if you’re wrong once in a while, it’s not going to destroy your child.
3. Just let it go
It always seems that everyone else knows how to parent better than you. They like to share their opinions, and they like to tell stories (slightly unbelievable ones) about how they did what you are doing, but so much better. For example, your mother-in-law might like to share how her kids never cried in public- usually when your toddler is having a meltdown in the middle of dinner at a busy restaurant. These comments are annoying and hurtful, and they can really crush your self-esteem, if you let them. Don’t let them. We’re pretty sure your mother-in-law’s kids weren’t angels and she wasn’t supermom. For some reason, people just feel the need to one-up other struggling parents sometimes. We don’t know why, but we do know that you just have to let it go. Remember that you are doing your best, and no one is perfect.
Not only is exercise extremely helpful in relieving your stress, it will improve your mood and it’s an excellent opportunity to have fun with your kids and teach them the importance of staying healthy. A lot of us don’t have time for the gym, and honestly, the gym can get kind of boring. The best type of exercise is the kind you can share with your kiddos. Spend as much of your time outdoors as possible: go to the park, go for a family walk after dinner, stay on the playground when you pick them up from school… There are loads of ways to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Enjoy climbing on playscapes with your kids, playing tag in the yard, taking a bike ride, going on a hike and exploring the woods; the possibilities are endless. If you make your exercise enjoyable, you are more likely to stick with it.
5. Play A LOT
The most important part of being a parent is enjoying it. Everyone says it, but you don’t realize it until it happens to you, the time flies by. It might not feel like it on those super-long, stressful days, but it’s really true. In the blink of an eye, your kids are going to be graduating from high school, and you’re going to wonder where the time went. You’re not going to remember the messy house or the wrinkled laundry; what you will remember, and what your kids will remember, is the time you spent making memories. The time you took out of your busy schedule to chat with them, tell them a story, or play a game. Playing with your child builds a stronger bond, and relieves your stress in the process. So when your child asks you to play Candy Land for the 50th time this week, put down the dirty dish and say “yes”. It’s the little moments that count.
Parenting sure isn’t easy. Anyone who tells you it is must be lying. Or delusional. It is, in fact, the hardest job on the planet. The key is to stop worrying so much, stop second-guessing yourself, and stop caring what other people think. Remember that you know what is best for your child, you are a wonderful parent, and you are always trying your best. Sneak in one more hour of sleep, take that daily walk after dinner, and play a game with your child. Cherish the little moments like snuggles under a blanket, sharing your favorite childhood book at bedtime, and impromptu dance parties. Parenting may not be easy, but it certainly is the best.