I always post on my Facebook status that the job of being a mom kicks my ass. Being a parent is hard and there are times that I hate to hear people telling me “enjoy every moment”! Seriously? I am supposed to be enjoying the moment when my son was so angry that he threw a toy at me while my baby daughter’s painful cry due to reflux is the background music?
We all get caught up in the ups and downs of parenthood and there is no magic that can take away all the bad moments, but I’ve summarized a few things I learned to help me be a happier mom in an overall feeling kind of way. I hope they work for you too.
1. Accept the child/children you have and stop trying to mold them into the ones you wish you had
We all had expectations and imaginations of what our kids would be like before and during our pregnancies, until the day they were born. Then all of sudden, we had a real human being on our hands complete with her own strengths, challenges and personality. If you are a parent like me, whose anticipated sweet image of gently holding a quiet baby was shattered by screeching colic cries right from the get-go, then you know exactly what I mean. It took me a while though, to realize that it is better to work with it then against it.
This is particularly true when the kids get a bit older and their personalities really come through. Accepting who they are would make parents feel less frustrated and the kids’ natural qualities more appreciated. After all, as a parent, I am here to guide the kids to become the best version of themselves, not the perfect children for myself.
2. Accept the fact that no matter how hard you try, you will make mistakes
When we make parenting mistakes, we are especially hard on ourselves. The reality is, we will make mistakes, and plenty of them (I wish I had not yelled; I wish I had been less strict; I wish I had been more strict etc etc), that is just part of life. Since there is no way we can avoid making them, then it is ok when we do, so we learn from them and move on. Blaming ourselves and dwelling on them does not change anything.
3. Let it out once in a while
Most parenting advice tells parents to take some time for yourself every now and then, but if you are like me without any family help or extra cash to hire anyone and have more than one child, it is not all that possible. Sometimes the stress, the constant work really get to you. Every once in a while, when I feel overwhelmed, I just let it out. I either talk to my husband in a really honest manner about the stress, like admitting that staying home really sucks sometimes, especially in this weather or I’d have a good cry when things get really tough. These emotional reliefs are important, they allow me to unload and reset so I can continue being the parent I want to be.
4. Have good friends you can talk to
I have to say that this is a huge part of my emotional health – being able to talk to those who ‘get it’. I am fortunate to have friends who are parents themselves and are always willing to listen and provide emotional support. The fact that we also hang out sometimes and share some of our kids’ happiest moments is a bonus and blessing. I can’t imagine being half as happy if I didn’t have these friends!
5. Throw perfection out of the window
I used to be very particular. The way my husband put it: I still am but I have put my OCD tendencies on hold. My house is a constant mess consists of various tacky, plastic toys and my son’s immense collection of Lego pieces, especially the kind that would hurt you like hell when stepped on. My hair needs to be coloured and half of the time I am out of the door without a trace of makeup these days. But this, not pursuing perfection makes me a happier parent because I am able to achieve what is important to me at the moment: spend the time with my kids and may be a tad more sleep. The stilettos will be back on and the house will be properly decorated one day, but right now, I don’t need to be perfect and my definition of fabulous is making to their scheduled activities on time.
6. Be confident that the kids will be alright
Here I will quote Dr. Lise Janelle’s philosophy: Everything in life has a balance. There is a yin and there is a yang, they all balance each other out. As a parent, when we think we are inadequate in certain areas, the inadequacy also gives the kids a chance to be independent and expand in that area, in turn, they could develop more strength in that area to our surprise. This is so evident in life; my husband’s lack of financial resources growing up provided him great motivation and taught him humility. Never feeling entitled, he is always working hard to earn what he wants in life.
We can’t give the kids everything they need, but know that what we fail to provide, it is life’s chance for them to figure it out on their own, and become stronger because of it. What’s important is that we strive to be the best parent we know how, and with all the love we can give!