As moms, we are notorious for being too hard on ourselves. We want to be the best moms it’s possible to be because our children, of course, deserve the very best. We love those frustrating little troublemakers more than life itself and would do anything for them. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to be the best at everything. Especially as a parent. We are definitely amazing, but we’re only human, so there are a few things that we just need to stop expecting of ourselves.
Stop expecting that we’ll feel normal.
It will always seem like other people have it more “together” than we do. But in reality, there is no “normal.” We all do things a little differently. That’s what makes us great parents. No two kids are alike, so why should any two parenting styles be alike? We constantly compare ourselves with other moms to make sure we’re on track with being an acceptable parent, but there are many different ways to be great at parenthood. Breast/bottle, cloth/disposable, cry-it-out/co-sleeping.
You can do any number of things differently than someone else and still be awesome at it. It just might be that my way of having frozen pizza for dinner more days than is strictly necessary is just fine. It may not be organic (or even remotely healthy) but it keeps me sane, keeps my kids fed, and keeps us all a lot happier. I’d say that qualifies as good parenting right there.
Stop expecting ourselves to go above and beyond.
Am I the only one who feels a little guilty that I’m not making more Pinterest projects with my kids and making their lunches into cute little replicas of Disney characters? If we have fun doing these things, then that’s awesome. But please, let’s ditch the guilt over wishing we were more exciting and creative than we actually are. I rarely enjoy doing craft projects with my kids, and lunch usually consists of them making themselves PB&J or something.
It’s unnecessary to feel guilt over not providing our children with homemade fluffy unicorn slime and creative lunch art. Our kids will survive life intact even if their childhoods are not all Disney princesses and unicorn poop. I’ll admit, even I, the laziest of all parents, have made slime with my kids before, and it was actually kind of fun. I just try to not feel guilty that I usually spend my energy telling my kids to go entertain themselves.
Stop expecting to be in control.
We can beg, plead and cajole all we want, but if a kid doesn’t want to do something, he simply won’t do it. We can dole out consequences and we can exemplify and explain proper behavior; but we can’t literally force vegetables down our kid’s throats, make them go in the potty, or ensure that they obey 100% of the time. This is extremely infuriating for us. We want to feel like we have at least some tiny degree of control over what goes on in our own families.
But if we stop expecting that we can control everything, it takes the pressure off of us having to make sure everything is perfect all the time. No matter how strict we are, we can’t control our kids’ behavior, especially not what they do behind our backs, so we should seriously let go of that pressure. We can teach them and enforce consequences, but they will make their own choices. It’s not our fault if they make choices we don’t approve of. This knowledge gives us permission to not feel guilty when things don’t go as we’d hoped.
Stop expecting to master parenting.
Sorry to break it to you, but I don’t think we ever get the parenting thing figured out. Each kid is so drastically different from each of the other kids that there’s no way to become an expert. My children mostly look like a bunch of clones of my husband, but they have very different and very big personalities. I have five of them ranging in age from 17 down to two.
When that 2-year-old was born I thought that I knew what I was doing (cue sardonic laughter here). Certainly after raising four other kids to the ages (at the time) of 7, 8, 13 and 15, I’d have some expertise in the areas of sleep training, potty training, and behavior training. But no. That stubborn, finicky, hyperactive little guy made me throw everything I thought I knew about parenting out the window and start from scratch. I was asking new moms for advice on how they were dealing with their fussy babies, and completely at a loss as to how to get my kid not to hit and bite everyone in sight. My previous experience did give me ideas to try. But when none of them worked, I had to come up with some new methods. Parenthood is a constant process of learning through trial and error. But again, this takes the pressure off of us. Instead of feeling like failures because we don’t have it all figured out yet, we can know that we’re not alone and everyone else is struggling to figure it out too.
We need to stop expecting so much of ourselves. We are each doing a fine job at this parenting thing whether we think so or not. It’s OK that we never really quite get it all figured out, don’t have total control, often don’t feel normal, and don’t always go above and beyond for our kids. These aren’t requirements for being a great parent. We just have to show up and do the best job we can. Even if that means feeding our kids PB&J and frozen pizza more often than not on occasion.
If you liked this post, you might want to check out my post about what we should stop expecting of our kids too. Find it here.
Hi, I’m Crystal Hill and I’ve been a mom by profession for the past 17 years. My qualifications are: raising 5 kids and having a degree in Marriage, Family and Human Development (yes, that’s a real degree) from BYU. I’m particularly experienced in the areas of carpooling and diaper changing. My hobbies include watching crime dramas and absurd comedies when I have the time, reading when I have the attention span, and running when I’m not too fat. I’m also really good at oversharing and cracking myself up, usually at the same time.You can find me at Simplify Mommyhood, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram. See all of Crystal’s posts here.