“If I’d only known then what I know now, everything would have gone so much easier!” Sound familiar? As with so many pursuits, and definitely with parenting, experience is really the best teacher. But there are some pieces of advice — a little trick, a new mindset, a simple mantra — that can help those experiences go just a little bit more smoothly. All great parents want their kids to be better parents than they were, to learn from their mistakes and hopefully avoid them themselves — and sharing their own advice is the best way to make that happen.
That’s why in honor of Mother’s Day and those mamas who are leaning in to motherhood, we asked our Top 100 Mom Bloggers for the one piece of advice they want their daughters and sons to know before becoming parents. Check out what they had to say! — Max Minckler
Lean in 1 of 26
To borrow a corporate catch phrase, it's okay to "lean in" to parenthood. Don't try to fit children into your life. Let them change it.
— Kyran Pittman, Planting Dandelions
Don’t miss out on life 2 of 26
My advice to anyone before becoming a parent is DO EVERYTHING YOU CAN NOW. Babies tend to weigh us down with a lot of responsibility. Read novels in bookshops by yourself in strange countries. Skyjump. Have sex with different people. Get your heart stomped on a few times, again and again until it breaks open. Know there are no rules. Buy yourself flowers, enjoy your own company, set out a cup of tea in a beautiful setting just for you. Help people. Help people. Help people. Know who you are. Don't kill yourself — you'll miss the ending.
— Eden Riley, Edenland
You don’t need to be perfect 3 of 26
The overt advice I would give my daughter that I wish I knew before becoming a mom is that she gets to make mistakes, try new things, and forgive herself. She will make a billion decisions as a mother and the greatest gift she can give herself as a mom is to know that she doesn't have to be perfect. She just has to try. Done is better than perfect and that's an unattainable goal anyway.
— Kelly Wickham, Mocha Momma
Live and learn 4 of 26
That you don't have to have all the answers. You're learning all the time, so it's okay not to feel "sure" about everything. Clarity often takes time.
— Asha Dornfest, Parent Hacks
Choose your husband wisely 5 of 26
My piece of advice for my daughter is to marry a man who loves and respects his mother — that's a sign that he values his wife and the role she'll play in raising their child. While I don't have a daughter, I have a son who I'm trying to raise to someday be a kind and loving husband and father.
— Fadra Nally, all.things.fadra.
It’s not always rainbows and butterflies 6 of 26
It's okay if you don't enjoy motherhood all the time. It's hard and it's exhausting and frankly, if you don't second-guess your decision on occasion, you're probably not my kid. Rely on the people around you to help you through the rough patches; don't hang around with others who make you feel as though you are doing a terrible job. Parenting is bumpy — anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar. Kids are spectacular little creatures that force us to shore up our weaknesses and learn what we're truly good at.
— Casey Mullins, Moosh in Indy
Don’t sweat the small stuff 7 of 26
Yeah, maybe your kid just ate a pretzel off the sidewalk or used the f word in front of your Aunt Bertha, but as long you love these kids and take care of them to the best of your ability, they will turn out alright … better than alright.
— Kelcey Kintner, The Mama Bird Diaries
Handle with care 8 of 26
To my son, always treat a woman as if she's the good China; hold her with both hands.
To my daughter, beware of short men.
— Stephanie Klein, Stephanie Klein
Be compassionate 9 of 26
In my case my daughter will probably never become a mom, as she has Down syndrome. For her as a woman, I always remind her the power of compassion and the gift of giving to others, along with how important it is to do your best for yourself. She has grown up knowing that every human being is perfect and there's nothing more powerful or important than the love we get and we give to our family and that we share with our community.
— Eliana Tardio, Creciendo con Todas las Habilidades
Don’t be afraid to try 10 of 26
I want my daughter to know that she is stronger, smarter, and braver than she knows. We all are. And when the chips are down, it's amazing what wells of strength we are able to draw on. If she falters, there are people who love her who will help her steady herself (and her father and I are first in line for that gig). But it's important she try on her own first.
— Karen Walrond, Chookoolonks
Accept yourself 11 of 26
Trust your intuition 12 of 26
To always trust [your] gut when it comes to [your] children. As their mother, [you're] the expert. Mama's intuition is a powerful tool; use it.
— Shay Stewart-Bouley, Black Girl in Maine
It’s okay to apologize 13 of 26
My advice to my sons before they become fathers is to recognize and always remember that apologizing is not a sign of weakness. Everyone makes mistakes and teaching your children how to handle forgiving others and forgiving themselves is an invaluable lesson.
— Amy Windsor, Bitchin' Wives Club
Follow your heart 14 of 26
Don't listen to everyone's advice. Every child is different — go with your heart and instinct.
— Jan Halvarson, Poppytalk
Think long-term 15 of 26
My advice for my boys before becoming dads is to make sure the mother of your kids is kind, funny, and someone you intend to stay with for the long haul.
— Lenore Skenazy, Free-Range Kids
Learn your spouse 16 of 26
My piece of advice for my son is to learn what you need to do to meet your spouse's needs so it becomes habit and continues after you have children. (Cough, cough.) Don't forget to buy her flowers! Happy marriages makes for happy children.
— Caroline Edwards, Chocolate & Carrots
Find “me” time 17 of 26
Whatever you do, strive to always take time out of the day for you. An overwhelmed and burnt-out parent is dangerous! Always pursue your hobbies and constantly make learning a priority. You are not limited to just dad or a mom.
— Jess Craig, IROCKSOWHAT
Don’t wait too long to have kids 18 of 26
You have your whole life to work, and the baby-making window turns out to be surprisingly small. Hold out for the right partner if you can, but don't wait for conditions to be "perfect" — they never will be. If being a mom is one of your dreams, I don't want you to miss out — it's the best thing I've ever done.
— Amy Wruble, Carriage Before Marriage
Surprise your kids 19 of 26
Sometimes you need to say yes simply because your kids expect you to say no! That combined expression of shock and glee on a child's face is one of the most satisfying things about being a parent. Every once in a while let them have dessert for supper, stay up past their bed time to play hide-and-seek, and wear clothes that don't match because they think it looks fabulous.
— Jennifer Palis, High Heels and Dirty Dishes
Be a gentleman 20 of 26
My words of wisdom to my three sons are to always treat women well because they are someone's daughter, sister, mother.
— Alexandra Rosas, Good Day, Regular People
Stay true to yourself 21 of 26
Be strong, be intelligent, and most importantly, be you! Learning from mistakes will make you stronger and learning who you are and what you want in life is the motivation to live life. Motherhood is the greatest gift of all; when you are ready to become a mom, you will know.
— Angie Ramirez, Little Inspiration
Make mistakes 22 of 26
Make as many mistakes as you need to,but keep following the direction that your heart and soul take you. You have all the time in the world!
— Dariela Cruz, Mami Talks
Reach for the stars 23 of 26
I would like my daughter to know that becoming a mother should not put an end to her goals — both personally and professionally. Having a child will change your view of life, but not who you are.
— Dottie Van Every, Modern Kiddo
Give and take 24 of 26
The best advice I ever received as a mother was "ask for help." It was hard advice for me to follow. Gradually — by necessity more than enlightenment — I learned how: asking friends to spell me when I had too many tasks and not enough hands; accepting advice from my mother even when it began "maybe you don't want to hear this but ..."; switching to formula in the middle of the night so I could alternate shifts with my husband.
Thank goodness I did. Accepting the need to ask for help rescued me from more than one free fall over the years, and it also led me to embrace something else, something that is simpler and grander — the responsibility to offer it. So now it is the advice I give to every soon-to-be-mother in my life (along with my phone number and email address, just in case ...), because the only thing more important than asking for help, is remembering to give it.
— Lisa Belkin, Parentry
Do you 25 of 26
Always bet on yourself.
— Magda Pecsenye, Ask Moxie
Love unconditionally 26 of 26
The most valuable piece of advice for my children that I wish I knew before I became a mom is that if you become a parent some day, please know that it's okay that you don't know what you're doing. It's okay that you are afraid, and continually wondering whether you are a failure at this parenting thing. Truth is, you are the exact right parent for your child. You won't do everything perfectly. You'll even blow it sometimes. Just keep on giving unconditional love, righting wrongs when you need to, accepting and embracing your children for who they are, and doing your best. You have been a gift to me, and I know you will be a gift to your children.
— Katherine Stone, Postpartum Progress
Editor’s note: We’re celebrating Mother’s Day by celebrating leaning in to motherhood, and by recognizing the extraordinary women that are our own mothers. We hope that it will inspire you to thank your own mother, or the mother who most inspires you. Find more letters and stories about leaning in to motherhood here. And, of course, find your own Lean In inspiration at LeanIn.org.
What parenting advice would YOU give to your sons and daughters? Tell us in the comments!
Check back each month for a new set of insights from top mom bloggers — and check out last month’s piece, where mom bloggers share tips for those new to blogging conferences.