I don’t ever profess to be the perfect parent AT ALL. In fact, most days, I feel like I’m falling short in a massive way. Motherhood is by a long shot, the most difficult journey I’ve had to navigate and it’s not just that newborn, super-over-tired phase. Each stage and each part of your child’s development presents new challenges and believe me, most days it feels like the blind leading the blind! That “Ï’m a new mom, what am I doing?” feeling rears its head often – whether you’re a mom of a newborn or a mom of a five year old. While I don’t have a newborn, I’ve never parented a five year old either – and that’s the stage I find myself in so technically, I’m a new mom too.
Recently, my babies got their first cousin – she is three weeks old now and just too precious. So I started thinking about what I would’ve told myself, if my newborn’s mom self and five-year-old’s mom self sat down and had a cup of tea. Candice of June 2009 meet Candice of March 2015.
1: PICK YOUR BATTLES
The birth of a child affects an entire family, not just a mom. Pick your battles – with your kids and with anyone else in your house. You’re going to be so tired, whether your child is a month old or three years old, so you can end up grilling your husband about something totally ridiculous (been there, done that) and when you look back, IT IS totally ridiculous. Before you rage, take a step back and think about it. With your kids too. I’ve learnt this the hard way.
2: COMPARISON CAN BE A KILLER
Don’t be hard on yourself. Your child will never be like anyone else’s and just because your child isn’t sleeping through the night at 8 months, doesn’t mean that’s your fault. Comparing your child to anyone else’s doesn’t achieve anything but parent-stress. What messes with our heads the most is how we think it’s supposed to be. Be confident in the way you choose to parent your babies.
3: HONESTY IS KEY
Parenthood doesn’t of course come without its struggles. In fact, it’s riddled with them. There’s no such thing as a perfect parent, so we might as well all be real about it. Being open about what you find difficult along the way, is one of the best things you can do. You often find that there are other parents dealing with the same things and you can swop ideas on how to deal with that particular thing. If you act like you have it all together even when you don’t, you’ll eventually get tired of it. People relate to honesty. If you’re having a HORRENDOUS day, say so. Other moms and dads are likely to encourage you and identify with where you are. You won’t feel so alone!
4: THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING
This is the MOST important thing I can tell you ~ always remember, you are their parent first and their friend second. That might be choosing the harder road most times, and that’s going to sting but some of the most important things we teach our kids, require us to be their parents above being their friends. It’s one of the greatest injustices you can do to your kids. Friends hold no accountability, friends have no boundaries, friends want to appear cool, and friends know it’s easy to say yes. Parents set boundaries, parents instigate consequences, parents are consistent, parents use
mistakes as teachable moments, parents know when to say no. It’s hard to stick to that, when your love for your child is so strong and you want to give them everything THEY want but teaching them a life lesson requires us to be the parent, and not the friend. We equip our kids for life when we parent as parents, and not as friends. Of course, they can be your friend as they grow and mature, my mom is one of my best friends, but when it comes down to the stuff that really matters and the years where the foundations are laid, always remember you’re their PARENT first, and their friend after that. They will thank you later in life.
(I feel this will get harder to stick to as my babies grow but I’m gonna try!)
On the hard days, just remember that your child was given to you, formed and created specifically to be parented by you. That’s an immense privilege. Yes, there will be days we get it wrong – we must have the courage to say we’re sorry. Yes, there will be days where we feel like we’re getting it right – celebrate those small victories. Shaping and guiding a life from birth is something that we shouldn’t take for granted, even on the days where we feel like we’re the ones who should be sitting in time out!
Hang in there moms and dads. No-one ever said it was going to be easy but I can tell you for sure, it’s all going to be worth it.
For more from Candice Fourie, on her own most excellent blog, click over here.