We’ve been at this parenting thing for a full decade now and in that time I’ve been asked, quite a few times, for advice. What have I learned so far on this wild journey? There’s a lot. A whole lot! I’m not an expert. Even the experts aren’t experts! And not every piece of advice will work for every type of family, parent, or kid, but if something resonates with you I’m glad. We’re all in this together!
Top 5: Parenting Advice from Your Favourite Amateur
Bedtime Fights=Shitty Sleep All Around
If you’re having a full on fight every night at bedtime and then wondering why your kid can’t fall asleep, I’ve got news for you… It took me a hot minute to really accept that my kids inherited MY poor sleep genes and that sleep “time” doesn’t mean shit to a toddler. I know it’s exhausting, but in my experience cutting out the fight is actually less so. If you have a kid that falls asleep AT BEDTIME if you let them pass out on the couch with you than why are you fighting with them about where they fall asleep? If you are physically able to haul their body off to their own bed than do it! What’s more important to you, your rest time or your need to be “right”? Which brings me to my next point…
Your Ego Ain’t Shit
Babies do not care about your ego. Toddlers care even less about your ego. “Because I said so” isn’t an actual answer. I knooooooow! Who the hell do these kids think they are? But, and stay with me here, who the hell do we think WE are? Sometimes I catch myself getting frustrated and angry and have to take a step back and realise that it’s not them, it’s me. Sometimes in parenting, we’re the problem and kids are just being kids. Sometimes we need to own up to our own bullshit. Sometimes it’s us that need a time out. It’s transformative.
Peas Are Gross
When I hear parents say “my kids will eat what I put on the table or they’ll starve/they’ll stay there all night” I cringe. Hard. I’m not saying you should let your kid walk all over you. I’m not even suggesting that you make each kid a separate meal BUT, if you’re making food you know full well your kid doesn’t like, you’re kind of being an asshole. I don’t like green peas. They’re disgusting. If you make them I’m not fucking eating them. Period. Children deserve the same autonomy over their own bodies. Tastebuds grow and change too. I used to hate cheesecake when I was a kid. I obviously love cheesecake now. People grow and kids are constantly growing. I encourage them to try and try again, but If I’m craving a dinner I know full well one kid is absolutely not going eat, I’m making sure the sides are something they like. Fill up on steamed broccoli and home fries kid! It’s not a big deal. They had a nutritious breakfast and lunch. Their lives won’t be ruined if they have pb&j for dinner one night. I’ve found that the more we focus on the fun of trying new things instead of forcing it, the more they develop their palette. O use to be very picky about texture (not flavour so much) and now he is our most adventurous eater. Grey doesn’t like tomato. It’s not just tomato sauce on pasta. It’s pizza, ketchup, raw. She doesn’t like it. She DOES NOT LIKE IT. Who am I to argue with that? I just keep encouraging her to give it try. She’s 6 now and has just accepted tomato sauce on pizza. Only take-out pizza. When we make it at home she prefers spinach dip instead. That’s okay. It’s really not a big deal unless they’re not getting enough nutrients. In that case it’s time to talk to a nutritionist about how to move forward. Most parents don’t have to go that far though. Just ease up a bit. Food can be fun!
One Size Does Not Fit All
If you came into this deal thinking that the way you parent one kid will be exactly the same as how you parent the next, you need to stop right now and dial it back. Children are individual human beings. Some things will work for all of your kids, some things will go right out the window! All four of mine have very different personalities. What sets one off won’t even register with another. The way we come at an issue can be vastly different from one kid to another. Don’t assume you’ll be able to use the same techniques across the board. Come prepared to learn and grow with each child.
Expect The Unexpected
In my brief 10 years in the parenting game I’ve witnessed many a parent make this mistake. They come into this with wildly ridiculous expectations. I’ve always been around kids. I’m “the kid” person in my family. The one that plays with all the littlest cousins and babysits for everyone. I didn’t think I had an unrealistic view of what parenting would be for me. I always knew I’d have more than one, so I never had hang ups about adding another or worries about “sharing the love” or “how O would take it”. Sleep training wasn’t something I was interested in. I never expected my baby to sleep through the night. I was exhausted, but I wasn’t surprised. I was always pretty open to the realities of parenting. And yet….AND YET, I’ve still been thrown some curveballs. I didn’t expect a miscarriage. I didn’t expect to not produce enough milk, or to mostly hate nursing. I didn’t expect O to be lactose-intolerant even though I am. I didn’t expect to cry at his first vaccinations or to feel sick to my stomach the first time E smashed her tiny face on the floor. I didn’t expect O to need physio for his tiny crooked baby neck or for him to need glasses at 6 years old. Even the most go-with-the-flow parents are going to be hit with the unexpected, so I can’t imagine how hard it is for the parents that come in to this with insanely rigid ideas of who they’ll be or who they’ll get. This is the ultimate crapshoot! Temper your expectations of yourself, of your partner, of your babies! It’s one day at a time, especially when they’re tiny. Take a huge step back. Breath.
We’re growing and changing too. Sometimes we suck. You’ll be a different person in ten years so don’t sell yourself short. You have to be willing to grow. You have to own up to your mistakes. You have to let your kids see you learn as well. They will learn more but hearing you say “I’m sorry” that hearing you bullshit them about how you’re right and they’re wrong. Parenting isn’t something that we master. It’s a living, growing part of who we are. Approaching it with creativity and a willingness to learn is the best advice I can give any new parent. Temper your expectations and move forward with love. Cut yourself a little slack. Speak to yourself the way you’d like to speak to your kids. You can do this. One day at a time. One temper tantrum at a time. One 4am feed at a time. One “just sound out the word” at a time. One scraped knee, one mud puddle, one peed in snow pants, one first step, one wrote their own name, one first day of high school, one graduation, one first job, one first apartment in the sketchy part of town, one life at a time.
It’s a whole ass life. Just keep breathing.