Last week I posted Five tips for happier parenting #1, today I’d like to share some more nuggets of wisdom that I’ve learnt along the way:
1. Don’t beat yourself up about your child’s eating/ sleeping/ talking/ pooping habits
All children are different and develop at difference ages and stages. In this competitive world of Motherhood, it can be a worry to find that young William at Playgroup was dry two weeks before his second birthday and your child hasn’t shown any interest in potty training at almost three. Or your child isn’t constructing as many sentences as Baby Centre is saying she should by 32 months.
Unless there is genuine concern about any aspects of your child’s development (in which case professional support is available from your GP/ Education Setting/ Local Authority), try not to stress too much about it. Your child will have their own agenda.
2. Really get to know your child
This one sounds obvious but I didn’t realise how different and unique children are from one another. Over time I’ve really gotten to know Tommy’s traits, his likes and dislikes and his little quirks. Of course they are always changing but it’s good to really listen, observe and discover what makes your child tick.
This also comes down to the point about comparison, just because a trip to the trampoline park might be the in thing to do, it doesn’t mean it’s right for your child. Rather forcing your child to do things you think they should be doing, observe what works and what doesn’t. This also applies to all of the toddler classes available; football, dancing, swimming, gymnastics – sometimes children are just not ready. I often have to remind myself how young my son is!
3. Comparison is the thief of joy
This one is so hard but we are all guilty of it. Motherhood seems to breed comparison. Am I a good mother? Am I as nurturing as X or as domesticated as Z? Social Media opens our lives up in a way that our Mother’s and Grandmothers didn’t have to to think about. It can be a good thing and a bad thing, I have a love/ hate relationship with social media. On one hand it is great for connecting, sharing, meeting like-minded people and finding out about local groups and events. The downsides are that it can be too easy to compare your behind the scenes with other’s highlight reels.
Very few people are honest on social media, those that are can be critised for attention seeking or airing their dirty laundry. So you really can’t win. As long as you remember that and take it with a pinch of salt, it does have it’s purpose and benefits. Mindless social media surfing can also be a terrible time waster and hooks you in so try not to fall victim too often *must take own advice!*.
4. It’s ok to feel sad/anxious/ scared lonely sometimes
Motherhood is a roller-coaster mix of emotions. At least it has been for me. You’ll know joy, contentment, anxiety, fear, boredom, tiredness and love like you’ve never known. Sometimes all in the same day.
Working Mum, Stay at Home Mum, Work from Home Mum (I’ve done all three), each come with their own set of guilt, worries and stresses. When I was working almost full-time I felt like I was missing out on so much of Tom’s early days and my heart ached for him. My stint as a Stay at Home Mum was often lonely and boring (but came with other lovely perks like all the time I got to spend with him).
We are past those extremely anxious baby days where my Husband and I didn’t have a clue what we were doing at times, Thomas also used to get poorly a lot. But each stage comes with it’s own set of challenges and anxieties. I do feel like I’ve settled into Motherhood but there are times when it can still feel a little lonely. Like there aren’t many people that know exactly how I’m feeling. There are times I just want to think of myself, rather than always putting someone else’s needs before my own.
Parenting can be unglamorous and thankless , but we have to remember that this is a season of our lives. I love that metaphor. It can feel like the long days stretch into each other, but these days will be over in the not too distant future. And it can be hard to see it now but there are the days we’ll forever pine for, we’ll never be this needed or wanted again.
5. Your inner circle may look different and you’ll likely appreciate your family more
You will probably reduce your circle of trusted friends but you will value them more. You’ll drop the ‘social’ aquaintainces and if you’re lucky replace them with a few good Mummy friends who will share your parenting woes and provide much needed adult conversation. You can share tips and tricks and understand the phase of life each of you are at like no one else can.
There is something very special about female friendships, you can connect on a deep level and they are a great confidants. I have nowhere near as many female friends as I did growing up (partly due to moving around a lot), the ones I have now though I deeply cherish and will make an effort to stay in touch with. Life, family, work and geography all get in the way but it is certainly worth the effort to maintain your special friendships.
You will also likely have a new found respect for your own parents and may become even closer to your own family and in-laws. Becoming a parent makes you value family even more and any support you have is priceless.
I hope you enjoyed some of these tips/ insights; can you relate to any? Watch out for #3.