Being a parent has definitely had its ups and downs. More than anything, though, my kids have taught me more than I could ever list. For the last ten years, I have learned a lot about myself, the world around me, and the magic of the outlook of a child. Here are a few things that I have learned since becoming a parent:
- If it’s not hurting anyone or anything, DO IT. For me, telling my kids “no” needs to have a purpose behind it. Want a snack at 11:45? Sorry, kiddo, it’s almost lunch time and I want you to eat your lunch. For the most part, though, “yes” should be the first answer when possible. Some people may say that it spoils my kids but I really don’t care what they think (see #4). In life, there should be a solid reason behind why we refuse something that we want to do. Write that book. Take that vacation. Sleep in late on the weekend. Give yourself permission to do what you want.
- Be comfortable saying “no.” Telling someone “no” is one of the hardest things for me – especially when it comes to my kids. I desperately want my children to have anything they want; however, I know that isn’t reality. They won’t always get what they want in life and sometimes it’s simply not possible. Being able to tell them “sorry, we can’t do that” has made it slowly but surely easier for me to tell others in my life that some things just aren’t going to happen.
- Learn your boundaries and stick to them. This goes along with saying “no.” We all need to figure out what our boundaries are – sooner rather than later – and be willing to hold the line on them. It’s helpful to figure out what those boundaries are before we end up in a situation where we need to make them clear. I have many boundaries for my kids, and several for other people regarding my kids. I am more than happy to do whatever needs to be done in order to keep my children safe and healthy. It someone doesn’t like it, they can walk away. I’m trying my best to apply this to all situations in my life.
- It benefits no one to care what others think. Everyone has their opinions and some opinions will hold more weight than others. But in the end, it’s all up to you and what works best for you. When someone is pregnant, they will receive all kinds of (usually unsolicited) advice. But you can’t rely solely on what others say. What works for one may not work for another. Trust your instincts.
- Accidents happen. One of my most popular phrases at home is “accidents happen.” Whether it’s spilling a cup of milk or having an accident when potty training, accidents happen. Whenever I say this to my kids, I remind them that even adults have accidents. My children may think that I’m saying this for their benefit – which I am – but it’s also a reminder to myself. Being gentle with myself is just as important as being gentle with my kids. Accidents happen and that’s okay. Clean up the mess, figure out how to best not that mistake again, and move on.