Some days I feel like I’m nailing it as a parent. I’m not entirely sure what that actually looks like; all I know is that it feels like I’m doing a good job. Probably, the kids are dressed/fed/happy/haven’t said anything offensive in public.
Then there are those days, where it all goes to crap. Most of us have had them – the days that seem long and overwhelming. Often they’re filled with tears and tantrums (of the child and/or adult variety), and with a strong desire to just go back to bed.
If you’re having one of those days, or you’ve had one of those days, you’re not alone. Here are some things to try and remember at the end of it.
1. Tomorrow is a new day
It might be a cliche, but boy is it true when it comes to babies. If there’s anything predictable about kids, it’s that they’re unpredictable. The day might have been awful, the night might be long, but there is so much hope to be found in the moment the sun comes up the next morning. Tomorrow might just be one of those winning parenting days.
2. They’re not trying to hurt you
Even though it can feel like your newborn baby is trying to out-scream the kid next door, or your one-year-old rubbed sweet potato in your carpet just to watch you clean it up, the truth is that they’re just kids. They don’t mean to give you a headache or make you cry. They’re communicating and learning about the world in the only ways they know how. Sometimes it helps put things into perspective when we stop and remember that.
3. Being a parent is more than a moment
What happened today doesn’t define who you are as a parent. Being a mum or dad is a whole lot bigger than a bad day. Just as our little ones grow and develop – we do too. Sometimes hard days are a part of that, and sometimes they help us to learn more about what we’re doing. Even if they suck at the time.
4. It’s okay to ask for help
Asking for help has always been a challenge for me – I thought that by doing so I was announcing weakness. Since becoming a parent I have learnt that reaching out to other people for support is actually really important. The truth is, sometimes we can’t do it on our own – and admitting that doesn’t make us weak, it makes us human. Sharing knowledge and support makes all of us better parents. Whether it’s in the form of advice or time, a little bit of help can make such a big difference.
5. What you’re doing is important
Parenting has a completely different measure of success to anything else. Sometimes just getting everyone dressed by the end of the day counts as a life achievement. But that’s just because it’s the part that is easy to measure.
What you’ve actually been doing is feeding, nurturing, teaching, supporting and loving someone who wouldn’t survive without you. What you’re doing matters – not just now, but for a lifetime.
Even if today you feel like you failed – you’ve got this.