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Pink Feathers

Saving Sanity for a Parent

Parenting is unlike any other experience in life. You have to learn how to multitask, think quickly on your feet, be flexible but firm, be creative in many different ways, and do it all with much less than the recommended amount of sleep. All the chaos can take a toll on a parent’s mental health, but parents can have an easier time of it if they let a few things go. Here are a few ideas.

Don’t strive for perfection. Parenting is messy and smelly, and what worked well for you yesterday will not work today. You have to constantly reinvent how to parent while holding on to a few classic constants, but perfection is not part of parenting.

Don’t compare yourself to other parents. We have all seen the woman who gave birth last week and is already back in her pre-pregnancy jeans or the man who has all four children under control in the toy section of Walmart. We look at them with awe and say, “How do they do it?” We should all be happy for them but also know you don’t know what other issues they struggle with. You might not want to trade places. Do your best, love your children, keep them safe and cared for and you are already doing a great job.

Let go of the guilt. This is hard for me. When my children were in school, and they struggled with something I immediately blamed myself which is crazy. I think we always wonder if we are doing a good enough job, giving enough of our time, and teaching them enough.

Filter friendly advice. When my daughter gave birth she was terrified that she wasn’t doing things correctly. I was determined not to advise unless asked, but before the birth, I had warned her she would hear some crazy ideas about breastfeeding and baby care. One of her friends told her she might have a problem with breastfeeding and if she didn’t pump as well as breastfeed she might have to go to the hospital. What? My daughter was crying. I calmly said that I didn’t remember everything about caring for a baby, but I did remember that your body would produce what you used the day before, so there was no need to also pump. Don’t listen to all the advice because everyone will have some for you.

Forget about the parenting guides. Every child is unique and responds differently. The milestones are not meant to be exact times, so don’t panic. Discipline techniques will have to vary to fit each situation, and schedules should be according to what fits the best for your family.

Realize that most parents often feel out of control. The trick is to fake it most of the time and appear to be on top of the situation then close your bedroom door and scream into the pillow. Parenting makes you stronger by breaking you over and over and forcing you to figure out how to make it work.

Humor is the best weapon. There are so many memories that seemed awful at the time but are hysterical memories. Find the humor in the situation when parenting becomes overwhelming.

Ask for help. Sometimes you need a break or someone to come spend adult time with you. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need.

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