I realize my last post may have left some of you wondering if parenthood is even sustainable. It is. It totally is. A lot of us do operate on a mode of necessity, especially when you’re doing hard things on top of it, but it truly is possible to enjoy parenthood, even if life is throwing a bunch of crap at you. That’s kind of the gig in its entirety, to be honest. So while last week was all about secrets, this week is about things I have picked up along the way to get through. Think: tricks of the trade. Methods of survival, if you will. If you don’t have children you might think me using the word “survival” is a bit dramatic. IT’S NOT. I said it before, and I’ll say it again, kids are the jam. They’re funny without trying, they’re not always incessantly pessimistic like adults can be, and they’re cute and cuddly. They are all that is right in the world. And when they are like that, you’re thriving.
But. Some days you’re really tired and they’re being kind of mean, and they slapped you in the face before you even had your coffee. There are times when those cute little faces are twisted up and beat red, throwing a temper tantrum in the middle of Target, all because you wouldn’t let them eat the spilled popcorn off of the ground, and you’re wondering if someone is going to call CPS on you, because they are screaming that loud. So yeah, some days it is mostly about surviving until bedtime, and praying for a reset, while hoping they don’t slap you in the face again the next morning. On those days, it is up to the adults in the family to figure stuff out. And using coping mechanisms works wonders. Mine are as follows:
Don’t rush their growth. Sometimes it seems as though people can be in a rush for their kids to make it to the next benchmark. NOT ME. I’ve always been totally fine with taking things slow. Why? Because sometimes you find that the less they know, the more freedom you as the adult have. I’m not saying to intentionally hold your child back from learning things that are important to learn… I’m just saying that trying to push them to learn things early just for the sake of them learning it, isn’t really all the necessary. What will happen if they aren’t the kid who reads the best by the end of kindergarten? I’ll tell you what. Nothing. In fact, you’ll be able to continue spelling words you don’t want them to hear for longer. Just saying. Plus, babies don’t keep. I like to enjoy them for who they are and where they are.
Get a mom/dad friend. You need to have at least one friend in your personal circle that has either been parenting for a little bit longer than you or is becoming a parent at the same time as you. Having friends who have kids in middle school when you’re having your first child is fine, but I promise you they’re going to do that whole “better you than me, pal” thing I mentioned in my last post. Instead, you need someone who is going to be right there with you. You need someone who you can text “HELP ME” and they will know not to call the police, but instead will commiserate with you and remind you that you’re normal. And that bed time is only a few hours away. And that wine exists.
Use what you have. We live in the times of the “pinterest mom” and the “instagram influencers” – every where you turn someone is cooking up some elaborate birthday party, or taking their kids around the country in their renovated school bus. You find yourself wondering: am I doing this right? Am I providing them with enough? The answers are undoubtedly yes and yes. In fact, I would argue you could probably do less than what you’re doing and still be doing enough. As I have mentioned before, comparison is the thief of joy, my friends. Your kids don’t need the newest toys to be happy. Stick them outside with pots and pans filled with water and cups. They don’t need to go to Disney every weekend, take them hiking and let them literally kick rocks. You have everything you (and they) need, sometimes you just have to think outside of the box a little. Better yet, you probably just need to get a box. A brown cardboard one. Kids love those. You’re welcome.
Expect the worst. In any plan you make regarding your kids, you should be hoping for the best, and expecting the worst. Think ahead. Whats the worst possible outcome? Prepare for that. Bring the extra clothes in case they pee on themselves even though they have been potty trained for three years. Bring the plastic bags in case they start throwing up in your car when you’re 20 minutes from home. Bring the wipes, for all of the above. Bring snacks. Bring drinks. Bring your iPad or kindle, and for crying out loud make sure that thing is charged. Your kids may normally be super well-behaved, but they’re human too. And just like you some days they are just not feeling like themselves. Take the time to be prepared for anything and everything, so that way when they are actually decent, you’ll feel like a rock star.
Learn to laugh. I’m telling you right now, if you don’t learn how to laugh, you won’t make it. You will spend your whole time parenting thinking you’re not cut out for it, that you are failing. Parenthood is hard, so let it be funny. Let your instinct be to laugh, rather than to immediately take things personal. When I say my kids are sassy, I mean it. The other day my husband told me that after I strapped my youngest into the car and closed the door, she announced to him and our oldest that “Mommy is rude!!!” because I wouldn’t let her eat candy in the car. I could have been hurt and taken that personal, but I chose to laugh instead. Most situations that seem really annoying in the moment, can become comical if you let it.
Bank on that, and enjoy them while they are unintentionally hilarious.