Overwhelmed in the day to day? Ever sit and wonder when this parenting thing will get easier?
I can relate sister.
I was texting with a friend last night about the woes of parenting. This is a common occurrence in my everyday of course. We need to have people to bounce the “am I crazy or is this normal?” parenting questions off of. Both of us are in the thick of parenting and navigating some tricky disciplinary scenarios right now. Ultimately, we each want to know the answer to two questions:
Am I crazy for feeling this way?
When will this get easier?
The answer that I keep receiving, and feeling, is that it actually doesn’t get easier. I know, I know – call in the WAMBULANCE.
Sure, eventually they will wipe their own butts and make their own lunches, so physically it might get easier, but you’re really just moving the cheese. The physical demands will get easier as the emotional demands ramp up. Parenting is freaking hard, no matter what their age.
There are certain strategies though that I’ve learned both through my journey, and from the wisdom of other moms that will help you get through the day to day monotony and feelings of guilt and not being enough!
The first few years are sort of what I like to call “warm-up” years where you are learning so much about yourself and how to restructure your family to now welcome these tiny little cherubs. The reality though is that they won’t actually remember these little years and although they play the part of squeaky wheel and demand your attention, these little years are really about you gaining as much in your tool belt as you possibly can, in order to gear up for the parenting years.
So moms of littles, here are three things that I wish someone ahead of me would have told me for when I was in the weeds of babies and super tinies:
This job is HARD
Some of my days start out like a Gwen Stefani soundtrack as “this sh*t is BANANAS, B-A-N-A-N-A-S” loops through my head. I thought my days would be more like a Celine Dion ballad, where we’re all holding hands and standing at the bow of the ship taking in the wind. In eight years, I think that may have been the reality maybe once…and that was the day that the kids spent the night at Grandma and Grandpa’s. 🙂
I don’t think anyone ever told me that actually parenting these kids, the way that you so perfectly mapped out, was going to be one of the hardest things I would ever have to do. And would turn out nothing like I had imagined in my head. I keep talking to moms ahead of me in life, and the common message is relatively the same: it doesn’t get easier, the work just changes. Sure, right now in the little years, it’s physically exhausting. You’ve got middle of the night feedings, nap times, diapers, wiping of butts, and constant re-direction happening all over the house.
Our hope cannot lie in the years ahead as the solution to our problems. This job is hard, that’s the honest to goodness truth. So we have to choose to change our perspective. We have to choose joy despite our circumstances. This is a learning process. The grass is not greener on the other side though. Don’t trick yourself into thinking things will just be easier when they start walking, when they can talk and communicate their feelings, when they don’t nap anymore, when they go off to school. Trust me, I’ve played this game for years. And it hasn’t gotten any easier. The job is hard, we just need to accept that. And then change our perspective if we hope to feel purposeful still in our everyday.
You can feel value and purpose right now in your everyday life, without changing your circumstances. You only need change your perspective.
How you ask? Try making a list of things you’re grateful for. I suggest doing this at night after your kids are in bed, and then referencing it first thing in the morning. If you’re like me, my brain doesn’t really work all that well in the morning, so coming up with actual things before my coffee IV has started isn’t really practical.
You are going to need some outside help
We spend 9 months preparing for this teeny tiny baby. All of the classes, the resources, the gadgets and tools. The baby comes and we feel “prepared”, and for the most part, if you’ve participated in those rituals, you are as prepared as you can be for adding an actual live human into your care. The problem is that the tiny human grows, they start to develop their own free will, and next thing you know, your sweet little cherub is running around throwing up double middles to you all day long, with epic tantrums on the side, and you are overwhelmed and wondering how your sweet little one is now demon-possessed. Now you’re frantically searching the Amazon best-sellers on parenting books to figure out the quickest, fastest way to make your sweet kids return.
We need help. Parenting books have become my best friend. Here are a few that I love and are currently reading/referencing.
No Drama Discipline
Love & Logic Magic for Early Childhood (Birth to 6 years)
Parenting Your Powerful Child
Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys
It also might be time to start paying for a babysitter. I remember the first time that we had to pay actual dollars to someone to watch my children hurt a little bit. You might have chosen to be a full time SAHM or WAHM maybe because it was financially the most wise decision for your family. Or you work a full time job outside of the home and have a lot of guilt outsourcing even more roles that culture tells you belong under your job title. You still need help though. No human can possibly work 24/7/365 without help. They say it takes a village, and sometimes, you need to BUY THAT VILLAGE. So if you don’t have the option for free help (like most of us!), then it might be time to look into paid help (think laundry, house cleanings, meal prep, dry cleaning, grocery shopping, etc). It’ll hurt at first, but I promise, if you care about your sanity, it is a necessary cost of parenting.
You have GOT to take care of yourself
I continue to beat the drum of self-care because I firmly believe that it is one of THE most needed aspects of being a mom, and one of THE least prioritized habits. The best and most beautiful gift of parenting: grace. Everyday is new. You yelled at your kids yesterday? Today is a new day. Make it right, and move on. We have got to give ourselves grace if we want to make it through this parenthood journey with some pieces still in tact. Recognize ahead of time that we are going to mess up – the mess ups are inevitable. If you choose to hold yourself, and your household, to a standard of perfection, you are just setting yourself up to feel let down. Perfection is not the end goal. Make your mess, your message. Expect the hiccups, expect the mess-ups and saturate your heart in grace. Let yourself off the hook.
Because after all sister, this is literally the hardest job ever.