This is a sponsored post on behalf of Luvs at Walmart, but all opinions are my own.
Before I had became a Mom, I thought I knew the best theory for raising kids.
Now I have five kids, and no theories.
But I have learned a thing or two (or ten!) that I’d like to share. I hope I would have listened if someone had imparted such wisdom to me before I began my parenting journey, but who knows. After all, I thought I knew it all!
Having kids is a life-changing, world-bending, mind-blowing experience. It changes E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G!!! It’s pretty incredible that such a little person can make such an extensive impact! Their very existence transforms every aspect of your life. They challenge your perceptions, test your fortitude, and awaken inside of you a deep, pure love.
They are wonderful. And challenging. And everything in between.
Here are 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Became a Mom
1 – Write down the Magic Moments
One of my favorite quotes says:
These are magic years; and therefore magic days; and therefore magic moments.
The magic of parenting is in the moments. Write them down! You will forget them if you don’t! It is almost unfathomable to think it will happen when you’re in the thick of it, living it day in and day out. But I promise you, if you don’t record it, there will come a day when you won’t remember the bedtime song you made up on a whim one night. Or you’ll forget how your baby used to push himself up on his wrists, not his hands. Write it down, or you will one day forever lose the memory of how your daughter used to say “be-sgusting” instead of disgusting. These truly are the magic moments. Start a journal, open a file, use an app – whatever works for you. Start writing them down today!
2 – It’s OK to not love every minute
Magic moments aside, sometimes being a Mom is just hard. And that’s OK. In case no one has ever told you, I’m telling you now. It is OK to not love every minute of being a Mom!! I can’t count the times I have passed some sweet lady in the grocery store and she stopped me, looked over at my little one strapped in the cart, and said “Oh Deary, it goes so fast! Treasure every moment!” I wanted to call her a liar. Or punch her in the face. Or make her drink the spoiled bottle of formula that had been rotting in my diaper bag. I was sleep deprived and anxious and borderline miserable. Treasure every moment?! Impossible.
Do not expect constant bliss!
I’m clearing this misconception up now. Do NOT expect that every moment with your child (or children) is going to be bliss. If you do, you will be sorely disappointed.
Life with kids has the same ups and downs as life without kids, just with perhaps a larger swing. As mentioned earlier, there are some truly incredible moments – the kind that take your breath away; that make you grateful to be alive; that bring tears to your eyes and a prayer of thanks to your heart. Those are rare.
There are also some truly terrible moments – moments which surpass the threshold of how challenging you thought life could even be! Those -thankfully! – are also rare.
Most of the time, life carries on somewhere in the in-between. Every day is filled with both good and bad. My advice is to look for the good. Seek it out, and enjoy it when you find it. Soak it in. When the bad hits (and hit, it will!), endure it. Look with hope to the future and trust that it’ll get better. The baby won’t cry through EVERY night for the rest of her life! She’ll learn to sleep SOMEtime.
The days may drag on, but the years really do fly by. Hang in there.
3 – Find a system that works for you
This goes back to those theories of raising kids.
Everyone and their dog will have some tidbit of advice for you; some secret that they’re sure will be the key to your parenting success. (Even me!) Accept it with a smile. They mean well, after all. But sift through it and only keep what works for you.
Having kids – and a baby, especially – is so nerve-wracking anyways. You’ll only drive yourself crazy if you obsess about what the “right” way to do anything is. Should you get on a set routine, or go with the flow? Co-sleep, or put them in their own room? Cuddle them to sleep, or put them down awake? Should you respond to their first cry, or shut your door and cram ear plugs in your ears so you don’t hear anything? Breastfeed or bottle feed? Disposable or cloth diapers? Binky or no binky?…
You will have countless decisions to make, and countless voices outside telling you the “best” way to do something. Please remember to step back out of the noise and follow your heart. There are a hundred ways to do any one thing. Trust your gut. Find the system that works for you and roll with it.
4 – Give your kids your undivided attention
I am out of the baby-stage, finally. My older kids are now teenagers. When they were little, they wanted to tell me everything. From bedtime dreams to their favorite Pokémon card, they wanted to give me the rundown of every detail of their life. The problem was that they weren’t good storytellers! They rambled on and on with no point! It was near torturous to focus and listen to them. I would scream in my head, “I don’t care!” because unfortunately, I often didn’t.
Flash forward half a decade later, and those same kids (the teenagers) often don’t want to tell me anything. It’s like pulling teeth to get them to open up. I wish I could turn back the clock to when my kids wanted to talk to me, and do it over. If I could, I would be better. Every time they would come to share sometime with me, I would stop what I was doing, look them in the eye, smile (That’s a big one! Don’t scowl when you do it!), and listen. Not bounce my attention back and forth between them and the dinner I was making, throwing out half-coherent ‘uh-huh”s to give the appearance of listening. No. Instead, I would give them the five minutes of my undivided attention that they needed. Chances are, that would’ve been all the time necessary.
Start when they’re young. Pay attention to their words now, when what they have to say often doesn’t matter. If you do that, then when they’re older and what they say does matter, they will still have words to share with you.
5 – You get the kids you need
I’m a huge fan of Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer. He is a world-renowned dog behaviorist and is known for “fixing” troubled dogs. I have spent many hours watching his TV show. I’ve heard him tell clients multiple time, “You get the dog you need.”
Oh, Cesar. You are so wise.
His insight applies to our families, too. I truly believe that God gives us the children and families that we need to help us become our best selves.
Remember that the next time your kids (or husband) is driving you crazy. Know that they are helping to smooth out your rough edges.
6 – Be a Parent, not a Friend
Too many times, I have seen parents cater and bend to the whims of their kids because they wanted to be “friends” with them. There is great danger in letting the kids – whether they be babies, toddlers, adolescents, or teenagers – call the shots in your home. Who do you think knows more, you or them?
You are the parent. You know better than they do. As an adult, you have a broader perspective and a range of experiences to draw from, and are wiser because of it. Don’t let your kids manipulate you into doing what they want. You know what they need.
This is not to say that you can’t be friends with your kids. My kids know that it’s entirely up to them if we are “friends” or not. If they keep the rules of our house and have good attitudes, then we get along great and I get to be their buddies. We laugh and play and have fun together. It’s the best kind of Mom-ing! But if they choose to break the rules, grumble, and make life miserable for us at home, then I have to step up and be the Parent. It’s their choice which version of Mom they get.
7 – Mistakes aren’t Mistakes
Mistakes are opportunities to learn. I haven’t mastered this tip yet. In fact, I’m including this one to remind myself of it.
Our job as parents is to take helpless little babies and turn them into adults who are responsible, contributing members of society. There’s a lot of growth that happens between those two stages! It obviously doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process that takes decades, and that transformation doesn’t happen without mistakes.
Kids make mistakes. A lot of them! I occasionally forget that they are a part of the progression, not a failure during it. I sometimes expect kids to act like adults – to make choices with the same insight an adult would use. Then I find myself getting frustrated and disappointed when they act like…well, kids!
We (I) need to remember that mistakes aren’t bad. They are proof that the kids are still in training. It demonstrates that our kids are learning something new. They are practicing. Be as patient with them as you hope people will be with you through your mistakes. Keep in mind that practice won’t make perfect (because no one is), but it will make improvement. Eventually they’ll learn how to wipe up all the toothpaste when they clean the bathroom counter. Right?!
8 – The answer is always Love
It doesn’t matter what the question is. The answer is always love.
How can I endure this colicky baby one more day?! Love her.
My kids fight all day long! How can I get them to stop?! Love them.
What can I do about my daughter being bullied at school? Love her.
Get the point?
Sometimes your kids are going to make you look like the best Mom in the world. At other times, they’re going to make you look like a clueless, negligent deviant.
Love them either way.
9 – Make time for yourself
You can’t draw water from an empty well.
Being a Mom means giving selfless service ALL. DAY. LONG. Remember to carve out some time for you. If you are feeling empty inside, it will feel insurmountable to do all that you need to do in your role as Mom.
Think of the safety speech on an airplane. They always instruct us to take care of our own oxygen mask before we help anyone else with theirs. What is your “oxygen mask”? What is something that revives and rejuvenates you, or makes you feel alive? Is it exercise? Reading? Prayer or meditation? A nap? Giving service? Date night? Lunch with your girl friends? Whatever it is, make sure you put yourself as a priority occasionally, and do that thing.
Anyone who owns a bow and arrow set know that a bow needs to be unstrung every so often. Unstring yourself from your kids periodically, and refill your cup. Make time to take care of yourself. Recharge your batteries. You’ll be a better Mom for it.
10 – You’re not alone
Even if it feels like it, you are not alone. You have entered into the sisterhood of Mom’s. Billions has walked this path before, and billions will follow after you. Even though our paths may look different, each of us is in the fight together. We can draw support from each other, and learn from our fellow Mom’s experiences.
BONUS Tip 11 – Stick with Products You Can Trust
Luvs is the official diaper of experienced parents.
They’ve got your back when it comes to taking care of your little ones.
Luvs diapers provide Ultra Leakguard protection, affordable prices, AND a money back guarantee. They truly are doing their part to make your job easier.
Couple that coupon with the great prices at Walmart, and you’ll get an even bigger bang for your buck!
We’re all here for you – Luvs available at Walmart, and the team at MomDot. We are cheering you on. Know that we experience the same highs and lows. We’re all in this together, remember? We are all on Team Mom. If only I had know that before I became one.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Luvs at Walmart. The opinions and text are all mine.