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15 Lessons I’ve Learned from My Hardest Parenting Moments
by Kelle Hampton
| Posted 11 months ago
Sometimes, it’s in the trenches where we learn the most. Through the hard moments of parenting–the tears, the worries, the fits, the fears–I’ve learned some pretty valuable lessons about raising kids.
There's a Secret Reserve
Every mom has a secret reserve of energy, love and strength to handle the things she thinks she could never handle. It’s like a parachute that deploys in emergencies. When I fear I won’t be enough as a mom, I tell myself, “You will rise to the occasion. You’ve done it before." It’s what moms were made to do.
You're Never Going to Feel Ready to Leave Your Baby
Leaving your baby for the first time to make time for yourself or your husband is hard, and if you’re waiting for it not to feel hard, you’ll be waiting forever. It’s important to get away to recharge yourself, and it’s a great opportunity to let a loved one have some special time with your baby.
Comparison truly is the thief of joy. There is no one right way to parent, but thankfully there are hundreds of great ways. Don’t judge your parenting based on the way others parent their children and don’t waste energy searching for “the right way” to raise your child because there isn’t one. Explore your options, be aware of differences, but in the end make parenting decisions that feel good for you and your family and align with your own values and priorities.
If Your Baby Rolls Off the Bed, You're Not a Horrible Parent
The first time my baby rolled off the bed, I felt like an awful parent. I knew better and I wasn’t watching. These moments are part of parenting though, and children will endure a few bumps and bruises because of something we did or didn’t do. Guess what? They survive. And you will too.
Ask For Help
It does not mean you are failing or incompetent as a mom if sometimes you need help whether it’s someone to watch your child, professional advice or an extra set of hands. Pretending you don’t need help and ignoring your needs will only stress you out more and affect your ability to be the best parent you can be. It takes a village!
Accept That Your Child Will Have Stories of Your Parenting Mistakes
The decisions we make do affect our children, and we will make mistakes sometimes. But our kids will be okay! When you accept that you are real—mistakes and all—you give your children permission to accept their own humanness. They'll need that someday when they are parents!
Let Them Fly
As hard as it is to let our kids be independent and as challenging as it is to walk away from them when they’re crying and gripping our leg, letting them learn to fly on their own is an important part of teaching them how to both tap into their natural ability to be happy and rely on their own strengths. It gets better. It always gets better.
It's Okay to Be Worried
After some initial scary health issues with my firstborn, I asked my sister one day “When does this worry go away?” Her answer—never—wasn’t exactly the reassurance I was looking for. But it’s true. Worrying about our child’s well-being is part of parenting. Instead of fighting that emotion, I try to embrace it and find a good place for it—that is, on the very back burner, behind all the joyful moments.
Always Have Wipes on Hand
It may seem like a silly parenting lesson, but wipes have saved me from many awkward and messy mom moments. Whether it’s a diaper explosion, a drippy ice cream cone or a jar of strawberry jam dropped in the middle of Aisle 7, a packet of wipes in your purse will always save you. Lesson learned.
Natural Consequences Provide Life-Long Lessons
As hard as it is to watch your child fail or fall down, the lessons he or she will learn from it are profound. If it’s painful for me to let something happen, often that means it’s the right choice. Good parenting is hard, and it starts when our children are babies.
You're Pushing That Bike
Listen. That bike your kid promised to ride through the entire walk? That doll stroller they insisted they'd push the whole way? Yeah, not going to happen. You're carrying the stroller, you're pushing the bike, you're sweating and panting and cursing that you allowed it to happen. But just so you know ... you're pushing that bike.
Have a Good Cry
Parenting is hard. It's as simple as that. Moments of fear, disappointment, exhaustion, and heartache are inevitable because that's what comes with loving someone so much. Sometimes, the most needful thing you can do is have a good cry. I am surprisingly motivated and full of clarity after a good cry. Having kids keeps Kleenex in business, you know.
Do Not Expect Perfection
When everything seems to be going just as we would expect in parenthood, it’s easy to get caught up in planning exactly what the perfect future will look like. I’ve learned I have to let go of planning what the future will look like. Unexpected heartache and unplanned events are part of life. The more I focus on enjoying the present, the more prepared I will be to handle the unexpected.
Apologizing to Your Children is a Powerful Thing
Some of my most intimate bonding moments with my children have come after I lost my patience or wasn’t fully present. A simple, "I’m sorry. Mommy doesn’t feel good about how she just acted," not only demonstrates an important principle of love, but it moreover teaches children what a true apology looks like.
It's Never Too Late to Start Something New
It’s always a good time to implement a new idea or parenting strategy to correct unhealthy patterns. Whether it’s better eating habits, stricter limits for T.V. or more reading time, kids are quick to adapt and will benefit at any age from your attentiveness.