Congratulations and welcome to the wonderful world of motherhood. I’ve had two children and a little one on the way and even though I’ve been at it for at least 10 years, I can’t say I know what I’m doing half the time. I can honestly say that when my third baby came along it felt like I was a first-time mom once more…in other words, clueless.
I have lamented so many times that there are so few parenting classes or seminars that can guide people on how to be a parent.
I do know one thing for sure though. Motherhood is not a right, it’s a privilege and a huge responsibility. All of a sudden, some little person takes priority over ourselves.
Watching your newborn in your arms can be overwhelming because this tiny little life is completely dependent on you. How our children grow up to be will be largely due to what we decide to do… or not do.
Now that I have another new little bundle of joy, I find myself looking back at what I’ve learned while raising my two wonderful older children and praying that I’ll be able to raise my third with, preferably, more wisdom.
I just wanted to share some things that I have learned with you during my ongoing journey through the fog of motherhood….
1. Don’t underestimate children.
Children have an inordinate ability to manipulate adults. Don’t assume they don’t understand what you’re saying either. Chances are they understand you more than you think they do and are able to follow instructions if you demand it from them. They’re kids, if they can get away with getting what they want, they will.
2. Discipline is the key to a peaceful home.
Establish early on that you’re the parent and they’re the child. Don’t let a toddler run your household, can you imagine having a 2-year-old as a boss? Their tantrums will only get louder and more violent if they realize they consistently get their way. Trust me on this.
If they’re throwing a tantrum, let them. They’ll just tire themselves out anyway. Just swallow your pride, fortify yourself, and ride it out. Sooner or later they’ll realize their style ain’t going to work.
You can show them you love them without handing them the reins. Be firm and consistent when you set rules. Establish and strictly implement consequences when they do not follow your rules. I can’t tell you HOW to set consequences for your child because different parents have different styles…BUT, please never lay a hand on your child in anger. If you are a parent who believes that “sparing the rod will spoil the child”, go ahead and spank, but please ALWAYS calm down first before you implement physical punishment.
3. Please resist the urge to use the television, iPad or iPhone as a babysitter or pacifier for your children.
Adults are already getting addicted to the point of being unable to function without their electronics. Can you imagine the kind of addiction kids can develop? Kids need to be able to calm or entertain themselves without depending on material things like electronics. Studies also show that attachment to these devices stunts social skills which children really need to develop at this stage of life. Admittedly though, this is easier said than done.
4. There’s no blueprint to parenting.
Every parent is unique and every child is unique. Do what you think or feel is best for your situation and for your child. We all don’t know what we’re doing half of the time anyway and are just playing it by ear with the best intentions at heart. Sure there are a lot of parenting books out there but even the supposed professionals in child development contradict each other. If you make mistakes, remember that everyone does. Resist the temptation to torture yourself. Just focus your attention on how you’ll fix the problem and what you’ll do in the future. Even the professionals don’t agree on the right way to parent most of the time.
5. Try to read to your children.
Books and stories can open worlds to the kids. Most children do not read anymore because other forms of entertainment are more enticing. If they get into the habit of reading though, schoolwork will come a lot easier. They will also pick up a lot of information they normally wouldn’t and it helps with their ability to create and focus on a task. It’s so hard to push reading on children but it’s worth it in my opinion.
6. Make friends with fellow mothers.
It helps to be able to talk to other mothers about their experiences or just to unwind. You’re a mother, not a monk. Motherhood doesn’t mean your social life has to come to an end. Getting away once in a while is a way to recharge… it keep us mothers from going nuts.
7. Guilt is a part of a mother’s life…but more often than not, the guilt is completely unnecessary.
I have wasted many a sleepless night agonizing over my “mistakes” only to see my kids are completely fine the next day. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
8. Let go of the little things. Pick your battles.
Some things aren’t worth fighting over during the child’s quest for their independence and identity. If it’s not really life-threatening or terribly important like your child insisting on what they want to wear, let them make the decision.
9. Enjoy your time with your kids.
They’re not going to be young forever. One day they’ll grow up, take everything that you armed them with and start living their own lives. Enjoy the clinging, the snuggling, the unconditional love, the cuteness and the starstruck my-parents-can-do-anything stage while you can….
10. …but don’t forget to also enjoy some me-time.
Take an hour off to join an exercise class. Read a book. Date your husband. Catch a movie. Anything that makes you happy. Happy mom makes a sane and patient mom.
11. Try not to compare your child with the development of other children.
You’ll just drive yourself nuts with worry. There’s always bound to be a kid out there who’s smarter or faster or bigger than your own child.
12. Listen to their stories.
Sometimes we get caught up with our own problems and trivialize their problems. I’ve done it a couple of times much to my regret when I think about it later and I’ve tried to make up for it.
I realized that it’s so important for them to feel heard, otherwise, my children might stop sharing anything with me. Then, I’ll miss the chance for them to share with me when it DOES count.
13. Tell them to do things on their own.
Parents tend to do things for kids so that everything will get done faster, especially here in the Philippines where there are yayas, but it’s really a disservice to them if they never learn how to do anything on their own. Give the yayas, and yourself, a rest and tell the kids to do it themselves sometimes.
I have been at it for 11 years and I have a lot of learning to go. My mom told me the learning (and worrying) never stops and she’s been at it for 37 years!
If you have tips of your own, I’d appreciate if you share them with me as well.
Parenting is a lot of work and effort but it’s been worth it… Definitely wouldn’t have it any other way.
I’m far from done with my own journey and I wish you luck (and love) on yours.
From one mom to another,