Sometimes parenting is hard. It's really hard. Some days you just don't like it. That's OK. I have six kids. I love kids. I love being a mother. I see intrinsic value in each of my children. I celebrate their individuality and uniqueness. There will never again be a soul like them 😉
That doesn't mean parenting them is always easy. Sometimes it's work. Sometimes it makes me want to cry. Sometimes it makes me sob. I've been there (I'm sure I'll be there again). Here are some tips if you're there, too:
Get Some Sleep
Sleep is hard to come by when you're parenting, especially in the early years. Babies don't have great internal clocks and are often up in the night. But even once they sleep, parenting is exhausting. It takes a lot of energy to spend all day tending to your children, especially if you're worried about an issue with one (or all) of your children.
The saying “sleep when your baby sleeps” really is golden here. I've learned that taking that time to sleep really pays off, even if it means I don't get something else done.
What works well for me is going to bed a little earlier in the evening than I did in my pre-child days, and getting up a couple of hours before my children do. When I'm pregnant or have a young baby, I need to nap in the afternoon. Once my baby is older I can usually drop that nap and work – but there are still afternoons I'll go lie down!
Busy moms tend to forget about eating – especially breakfast and lunch. Maybe your intention is to make something different for yourself than you've served your children. But life gets in the way and you never get around to it.
Caring for small children, nursing, lack of sleep, etc. take a physical toll on the body. That's not a bad thing, it's just life. Regular eating keeps your blood sugar and energy levels stable. Simple meals are easier in this season of life, and that's OK. Just make sure you're eating nourishing foods: yogurt cups, cheese slices, nuts, fruit (in moderation), eggs, bean dips, etc. are all good choices for quick and easy snacks.
Realize Parenting is Intense
You probably dreamed of happy moments snuggling with your baby while you were pregnant. Maybe you pictured sweet toddler laughing over finger paints, older children showing off their accomplishments, teens confiding in you. We picture the happy moments when we imagine a new adventure.
Then reality hit. And that's just what it is. Reality.
There are those happy moments. There are also tough moments. As many wise sages have said, our children don't come for us – they come for a higher purpose. But getting to that point, that purpose, in life takes work. And we as parents have to do a lot of guiding along the path!
It won't always be easy. And that's OK.
Set Limits and Reassess
Set limits for your life. Say “no” to outside commitments. Or say “yes” to a weekly library or coffee shop night once your nursing baby is old enough to stay without you for a few hours. Those are limits for yourself.
Set limits for your kids. It's good for them. Really.
Don't wall yourself in, though. If you realize that you've been too hard on your child, or expected too much, you're not stuck there. Apologize if necessary, and change. If you realize you haven't set clear enough boundaries or been the loving yet firm guide a small child needs, you're not stuck there. You can realize you need to set and stick to some limits.
Parenting is about growing. Set limits, then reasses and adjust limits. One NaturalBirthandBabyCare.com's own readers has recently started a blog about parenting and I really enjoy many of her entries on just this – growing as a person right along with your children.
It's okay to reasses and decide you need to change, but don't veer wildly from one parenting tactic to the next. It doesn't work.
Explore gently, but if you're at your limits with parenting keep your small children with you (as in, in the room playing right beside you). Correct any issues that come up, consistently. I'm not going to tell you how to correct them. That's for you to decide. But if you're consistent and your child knows what to expect, things will become easier.
You'll also enjoy your children more 🙂
Reach out for Help
If you're completely worn out with parenting, help may be just what you need. That help can come in different forms. Here are some ideas:
- Chat with other moms on a parenting forum (look for “due date clubs” or “playgroups” that correspond with your due date or child's age)
- Go to a mom's meeting, such as a local playgroup or La Leche League meeting
- Call your mom, mother-in-law, sister, or friend and just talk
- Read a parenting book from someone you trust
- Talk to your husband
- Talk to a counselor or medical professional
- Hire a maid or a mother's helper
- Ask for prayer at church
- Double or triple a few meals for those “bad days”
You define what help means to you. Not all forms of “help” listed above may be available to you. But usually there's something. Something as simple at a hot shower or getting out for a walk with baby in the carrier or stroller can be a huge help during tough times.
Don't be afraid to take care of yourself. Don't be afraid to keep exploring, keep seeking resources, and keep growing.
Parenting can be tough, but it's also the most rewarding thing you'll ever do. Everybody has tough days (sometimes weeks or months). Grow up with your child (it's an amazing adventure :)) And remember – “this too, shall pass.”
- My baby sleep guide
- Creating a gentle rhythm and routine for your baby
- How to keep your baby happy – and get things done
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Photo by Elizabeth