Our precious bundle is approaching her first birthday! I really cannot believe it (said every mom…ever). I started thinking about the whirlwind of the past year and how different life is now, and came up with a few things that really stick out to me. This is my top five best and worst lessons of parenting (so far!). This isn’t your typical list, though. Of course hearing my daughter laugh for the first time or say “Mama” exploded my heart, and being woken up every 2 hours for months isn’t fun. I made this list to touch on things that aren’t quite as obvious, at least they weren’t for me…
My Top Five Tips on Parenting
1. Prioritizing. Having a little one around really makes you prioritize. Prioritize your family, your time, and what is most important to you.
When I was younger, I would leave my apartment when I had a day off from working at the hospital years ago and not come back for hours. I would slip in and out of shops sipping on my Starbucks coffee. I could do whatever I wanted no matter how long it took. Sometimes I was productive, sometimes I wasn’t, and that was OK. That was the season of life I was in, and I loved it at the time. But nothing lasts forever!
My entire day is now wrapped up in the three-ish hours of wake time I work around. Yes, it is my choice to stick to a schedule. I would pick a schedule over and over again because it is what works best for us. I wouldn’t change a thing about that. But this makes me prioritize tasks in a way I never had to. This makes me more present when I spend time with others, stay focused when I have something I need to get done. It helps me just be more engaged in my endeavors. I find myself actually saying no to things that I do not want to do, instead of just wishing I said no. Having my little side kick has opened my eyes to things that are important to me and my family, and putting those things first.
2. Teamwork with your spouse. Sometimes it feels like I am in survival mode, whether that is because of what is swirling in my head or what I have to get done. I learned that asking for help is not only OK, but a necessity. It is so important to support each other, do your best, and communicate what you need to your spouse. These things are always important, but even more so when your relationship is about more than just the two of you. At the end of the day, you have each other…no matter what. It’s not about “winning” an argument or “getting your way.” Its a journey, but you quickly find out how much you need each other even more than you thought you did before.
3. Knowing little eyes are on you 24/7. I am actually a bit nervous to see the beginnings of my daughter watching every thing I do. It is intimidating to think how much influence I will have over her and shape so much of her experiences, thoughts, views. But I am excited about about being this person to her, and take seriously the fact that she will grow to watch me, her father, and our relationship more and more over time.
4. Finding your strengths. Its funny how dealing with a kid 24/7 really sheds light on your personality traits. Sometimes I feel like its a constant test. Am I as patient as I thought I was? Am I as organized as I gave myself credit for? Can I handle a marathon of a day and keep my cool until bedtime? Some days I can, other days I can’t. But our Millie makes me dig deep to always put my best foot forward as much as I can, helping me find my strengths whether she means to or not.
5. …And finding your weaknesses. Pheeewwww Millie girl is so precious but just as much as she teaches me what I am good at, she is showing me what to work on. Being OK with moving at half speed, my germaphobia (haha, not kidding), my inability to multi task like I used to because my brain is on her all the time, some kind of constant worry about her all the time. The list goes on. Slow and steady, right?
Top Five Parenting Lessons
1. Making a decision without all the info. Research brings me comfort. I feel most confident when I consider as many outcomes I can think of before making a decision. I prefer to prepare for what should happen and what may happen. In a perfect world, I would do this all the time, with every decision I make. But this isn’t a perfect world, I don’t know all the answers, and I am not a psychic. Basically my ideal situation is thrown out the window, so I am making my way and giving myself grace.
2. Knowing if you’re doing the right thing. I think I do the above mentioned research and consideration because I like to know I am making the “right” decision. I am quickly learning that sometimes there is no right choice, you only go with your gut and what you can lay your head down at night being confident in, no matter what. This is scary for me! But again, that’s OK.
3. Feeling like your split in a million directions. Blame it on being tired, or busy, or unsure, or indecisive. Blame it on pressure, we put so heavily on ourselves, to check every box. I don’t think this is necessarily only a parenting situation, but Captain Obvious here thinks having a kid definitely doesn’t make you feel like your always on your game and your to – do’s get done…sometimes ever.
4. Holding on but not too tight. I can already feel this seeping into my thoughts and actions, and it’s makes me sad! I know it is my job to teach my daughter to be a well adjusted, adaptable, dust your self off, work hard and be patient kinda gal. But that doesn’t come without the whole learning lessons thing. I want her to never cry, never be upset, never wait…but I know this is ultimately not good for her in the long run. Of course as a baby I tend to her every need, but fast forward in the years to come and I can tell that her learning lessons will affect me more than I realized.
5. Not knowing if you’re doing “enough.” I know, I know, Millie is fine. I am doing “enough.” I am doing my best, and that’s what she needs. She is my world and my actions show it, so how is that not enough? But still! There is no report card, no feedback yet, just this constant state of welp, all I can do is my best.
Lauren is the girl behind Sips and Sidebars, a blog about family life with high school sweetheart, Rob and their precious daughter Millie. Lauren's goal is to spread a little happiness, share some helpful hints, and maybe make you think about something in a different way than you have before. Visit sipsandsidebars.com for more parenting blog posts.