Lisa is a single mom of an almost 15-year-old girl. Lisa says of parenting: “It’s such a journey, and if I can do it, you can too! Finding my power gives power to my child. Luckily, we laugh a lot along the way.” Visit her blog at www.laughingwithlisa.com.
Even after raising my daughter for almost fifteen years, I still find myself thinking “Is she really mine?” or “Did she really come from me?” Your children become your whole life. As parents, we can get so hyper-focused on day to day life that we almost don’t even know we have limbs! There are times when you have a cut or scrape and have absolutely no idea how or when it happened, or you are entirely too comfortable carrying fifty bazillion things at the same time (including your children!), yet you still find a way to open a door. We are warriors but we can sometimes get too caught up in caring for others. I put together a short list of my top tips that I think will help you and other moms on your parenting journey:
Remember, You Can Do This!
I remember taking my new baby home from the hospital scared out of my mind, secretly wishing the maternity nurses would come home with me. I thought “They are letting me take this baby home, without supervision?” I was already so exhausted from having a C-section and learning how to breastfeed. I was delirious. I did have my mom available for help and my mom seemed to know when my little baby girl was hungry or tired just by looking at her. I asked my mom “How do you KNOW?”
At some point, I had to stop relying on my mom and begin to rely on myself. You do end up knowing your baby and their cues, cries and body language. You have wonderful instincts that you will learn to trust. You are smart, loving and just as you fall more in love with your child every day, they do the same with you. Trust yourself!
Find Other Moms that are at the Same Point in Their Parenting Journey
When your baby is a newborn and you are home all day and night, you feel very isolated and alone. No matter how others sympathize, no one can truly know your situation like another mom. I was hesitant to even think about going out after giving birth. I was so tired and overwhelmed. My clothes always seemed to be stained, and I could barely find the time to use the bathroom, or God forbid, take a shower! However, I did hear about a local mom’s group that met weekly and I got myself and my little sweetie there.
When I walked in the door, it was like heaven opened and angels were singing my favorite song. I saw a room full of moms that looked just like me: exhausted, overwhelmed, but so happy to find other moms just like them. I wanted to run and hug every one of them immediately! We all had an instant connection and ended up meeting weekly at a different mom’s house. This lasted until the kids started school. It was so convenient being able to bring your child for a play-date to a house that was already childproofed!
I didn’t realize how much I was micromanaging my daughter’s life. I was so afraid she was going to get hurt, get sick, get too dirty, get scared– the list went on and on. As a toddler, my daughter would hold my hand to jump off a two-inch curb and she would not go down a slide until she was about six! One day at my sister’s house, her older children went downstairs to the finished basement to play. My daughter was about three but wanted to go with them. I was hesitant, but I let her go. Just as my daughter was going down the stairs, she looked at me and said: “Don’t worry mommy, I won’t touch anything sharp.” Kids are smart. Thankfully I was able to laugh at myself. It was an eye-opening moment. If mom is relaxed, the children will be too!
Don’t Parent From Guilt
As human beings, especially as moms, we constantly think we are not good enough, or doing enough. You are awesome, smart, capable and human. We are not perfect, but we are our perfect selves. Please don’t fall into the trap of over-giving or over-indulging your children because you are making up for something you think or feel you didn’t do for them. Whether you work a lot out of the home, are divorced, lack cooking skills, are too busy, or whatever it is, be kind to yourself! You are enough and parenting from guilt can do more harm than good.
Children Learn from Your Actions, Not Your Words
I often see that glazed over look in my daughter’s eyes when I am talking on and on about something I think she should do, not do, not wear, not say, how something should be done and so on. I know how challenging raising a child is, and they can make you crazy! Even if I KNOW I have some magical piece of advice about life that I have learned by living it, the words only work to a degree. This is especially true with children above the age of twelve.
When you see that look in your children’s eyes, take a step back and breathe. Try to listen to what they have to say and give hugs or grab a cup of tea. The way you live your life and how you treat yourself and others speak volumes to your child. Lead by example and guide them through your actions, not just your words.
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