How hard is this parenting gig? It’s really freaking hard, right? When I signed up, I obviously hadn’t the slightest clue how these creatures would affect my life, but it would have been equivalent to turning me on my head and asking me to speak a foreign language. It’s HARD!
I felt kind of tricked by most of my peers once I became a mom, because NO ONE gave me a heads up as to what the hell to expect! I had to figure it out on my own like the rest of the world and I’ve come to some conclusions about the whole thing. It’s hard, but it’s manageable, and I will survive (I hope). No one is perfect, but the imperfections are what make our parenting styles so unique and perfect in their own way, especially if we include these nine ingredients.
1. Breathe in, Breathe out
I thought I knew what breathing was before parenting (cue the Lamaze), but now that I have two kids, not to mention both boys, so breathing has taken on a new meaning in my life. It’s when I slowly count to ten, because if I don’t, there is a chance I will convert into the “Momster” that lives deep within. Breathing calms me when the world is going mad, like the high-pitched shrieking of excitement while my children attempt to push each other down the stairs in their Radio Flyer. The closet is a really good space for breathing.
2. Rules: Make ‘Em
Some say rules are made to be broken, and while I can agree to that notion in some ways, I also feel that rules give me a sense of security. Well, mostly a false sense of security, because I let myself live in a world where I pretend the rules are being followed all of the time, but security nonetheless. When my eyes are on my kids, they better follow the rules. Once I turn my head, it’s all out of my control; they’ll learn their lesson one way or another. It’s life! We learn by breaking the rules, but at least have the decency to humor me in front of my face.
3. Get Dirty
How many episodes of Peppa Pig do you need to watch in order to understand that your kid just wants to jump in MUDDY PUDDLES? Let them have days where they can dig tirelessly into a mud pit using sticks and shovels. Let them splash away in the puddles along the sidewalk before bath time. And if you actually join them on some of these messy adventures, you may just create a few awesome memories. Yes there will be stained clothes, and filthy feet, but AWESOME memories.
4. Create Structure
Ask any child if they like being told what to do or having a schedule, that child will say “NO.” But come on, what child actually knows what’s good for them? Structure creates security, stability and predictability; all which kids need. Now I’m not saying the structure is always going to hold up, but if you can maintain it the majority of the time, than you’re on your way to perfect parenting. Just remember, no matter how solid the structure, sometimes they fall. It happens to the best of us.
5. Let it Go
As parents, we are the master multi-taskers. We have so much on our minds and are doing so much with our time that things are bound to fall through the cracks. Don’t fret! When that happens, instead of screaming and beating yourself up, just sing the good ole Frozen song, “Let it Go!” I’m telling you it will take away all seriousness and you may even crack a smile. We aren’t going to be perfect all the time. Scratch that, we aren’t going to be perfect most of the time, and that’s OK! LET. IT. GO. As long as you’re all alive at the end of the day, you’re all good.
6. Fake it Till You Make it
I can’t tell you how many situations I’ve been in as a parent where I have no idea what the hell is going on, or what I’m doing! Whether it be at a school function and all the parents are talking about something I was embarrassingly misinformed about, or my child shits in the bathtub and my gag reflex is pushing code red. I nod my head and engage as if I’m on the same page as the rest, or I scoop the poop without a meltdown in front of my children and save it for the closet. I’m telling you parents, we deserve Oscars!
7. Make Mistakes – and Recover
This ingredient is one I mastered a long time ago, but I didn’t always know it was OK. Making mistakes teaches our children that we will fall at times, but getting back up is where the learning begins. As parents, we lead by example, and if we can admit our mistakes to our children, they not only learn that it’s ok, but they learn that it’s normal. We never stop learning from our mistakes. I just hope my kids aren’t keeping a record of how many I make. Therapy is expensive!
8. Laugh – A LOT
Laughing is the BEST medicine and cure for anything. If I’m having a bad day, my boys have the ability to make it so much better. From the farts to the magic shows to the bath time sillies. Their laughter is contagious, but I’m not going to lie, it can get messy. My three-year-old should be wearing a diaper at all times when being tickled and I should probably do the same when I laugh, cough or sneeze now days. But that’s a topic for another time and article.
9. Live in the Moment
If you get nothing else from this sarcastic, realistic take on parenting, please take this. When we live in the moment with our children, that’s when the magic is created. The moment is all we really have. We can’t relive the past, nor can we foresee the future. We have now. Soak it up. You’ll want it back. You may have regrets in your life, but you never want one of those regrets to be that you missed the moments. As parents, we can’t be everywhere all the time, but when you are there, be present. Be in the moment. If you can master that, then you are the perfect parent.