I’ll admit that I don’t like to be told what to do. And I really don’t like to be told what to feel. It feels invasive and empty, as though compassion and understanding have packed up and moved out. I’m finding I’m not alone in this, though, which of course makes me feel more normal and less like a crabby woman who just wants to be left alone. I asked some parents about bad advice they had received, and there were a lot of similar ideas.
1. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep.
When it comes to having children and getting sleep, you can’t make sure of anything. Ever. No matter how hard you try.
And it’s not like we as parents don’t know that we’re wandering around in a constant trance. It’s not like we can’t feel that our heavy, burning eyes are 30 seconds away from popping out of our face. If you can see it, we can feel it 100 times that. So instead of telling us to fulfill a basic human need, come over and watch our damn kids (for free!) so we can go to bed. Thank you!
2. Enjoy it now.
I get it. There will be a day when I long for my children to be young again. I will miss their snuggles and their funny little jokes and the cute way they shit all over the bathroom. I will miss them screaming in my face for an adorable 30 minutes because they need their sandwich cut in triangles instead of squares. I get it, okay? But for me, in this very moment, being a mother to really young kids is fucking hard. It feels like the hardest thing ever, and sometimes I don’t even like it. So for someone to tell me that it gets even harder and that this part is actually the greatest, well, that doesn’t make me feel real good with how overwhelmed I am right now. It makes me feel worse and enjoy my kids less, so stop it.
3. Don’t give in to your child.
Like, ever? Yeah right. If you want to take a crack at some of these meltdowns, by all means. But here’s the reality. He’s gonna win sometimes, and I’m gonna win sometimes. That’s just the way it goes. And sometimes me giving in is really just for everyone’s safety, so appreciate that, mmkay?
4. Let boys be boys and girls be girls.
What does this even mean? Does anyone even know anymore?
How about this: I’m just gonna let my kids be whoever or whatever the hell they want, and then I’m just gonna love the shit out of them because that’s the only thing that makes sense to me. I’ll try really hard to teach them how to be respectful and kind and emotionally tough, and I will do everything I can to let them experience their own adversity so they can find their own way. But if that’s not what the advice means, then I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.
5. Don’t drink alcohol around your kids.
Obviously this is subjective because some people really shouldn’t drink around their kids. So, if you are one of those people (or you just don’t like to drink anyway), just keep doing what you’re doing. And maybe just ignore what I have to say next.
In my incredibly awesome opinion, I think one of the most valuable things you can teach your kids is how to do things responsibly. Drinking, having sex, whatever. There’s a whooooole bunch of research that says teaching children to just flat out not do something is much more detrimental than teaching them how to do it responsibly. So by drinking responsibly in front of my children, I am modeling that behavior. I’m the best mom.
Plus, I just need wine.
7. Don’t yell at your kids.
But then how do I get them to do what I say?
No for real, there’s no way that gentle parenting works all the time. Nothing works aaalllll the time, and sometimes my kids just need to hear that I can get loud too.
8. Plan something fun every day.
Pshhhh. Fuck that. Planning a kid-friendly outing every day is not fun. It’s exhausting. And when Mommy is exhausted, everything pretty much sucks for everyone. The advice should be: plan an outing with your kids when you are well-rested, have had at least one decent meal, and you’re feeling energized and happy. All those things come together maybe twice a month. Good enough.
9. Don’t carry your baby around all the time, she will never learn to walk.
Why??? Why do people use extremes to scare the shit out of us about how we’re ruining our kids? Fucking fear mongers. There’s a time and a place for that, and it’s Fox News and that’s it.
Someone said this to a friend of mine and her response was super: “She walks just fine. It’s the other two runners I’m concerned about.”
Parenting advice that is actually good.
1. Lower your expectations.
After we had our second baby, I was imagining this beautiful moment when our oldest, Gray, would come in to the hospital room to meet Larkin for the first time. He would run in, crawl up in bed with us, and he would be beaming with excitement of his new role as big brother. I was gonna be momming all over the place. I would cry, Scotty would cry, and then he would take the most amazing picture of us.
Gray ended up getting croup, had a really high fever, Scotty had to stay at home with him, and the baby and I hung out solo in the hospital for almost two days. I was so disappointed. When my friend reminded me to lower my expectations, I realized that my expectations for creating magical moments were through the roof. I immediately let it go and moved on.
2. Cut yourself a break.
I need to be reminded of this every. single. day. So much so that I recently wrote it out in big, black letters and smacked that baby right up on the fridge. It helps, you should try it.
3. Take care of yourself.
Just do things that make you feel good. But like, actually makes you feel good.
4. Stop trying to do more than you can/want to.
We spread ourselves thin for one reason and one reason only: because we think we should.
Another mom said to me once, “I know some moms dream of being the ‘homeroom mom’. But I don’t. I wouldn’t be good at it, and I wouldn’t enjoy it. I feel like because I stay home, though, that’s just what I’m supposed to do.”
Can you imagine a homeroom mom planning a party when she didn’t want to or didn’t like it? No one wins in that scenario. If you’re meeting the needs of your children, you are super and powerful. The End.
5. Be the kind of person you want your children to be.
Don’t expect them to be something that you aren’t willing to be yourself. They are watching and listening.
6. Stop putting yourself down so hard.
If you wouldn’t say it to your best friend, your spouse, your child, or the old man who insists on wearing spandex, then don’t say it to yourself. Deal?
So there ya have it.
As much as I would like to think that I’ve just transformed the world of advice-giving for parents around the globe, I haven’t. So brace yourself for it because the advice will keep on coming. Because…
Ur a Mom Now.
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