8 Ways I’ve Changed Over 8 Years As a Parent
Horrifyingly enough, I have been parenting almost a decade now. OK, so it's really only eight years, but I'm rounding up on the account that having children ages you by at least two years, so there.
Honestly, I'm not really sure how eight years has flown by so fast or how such a thing is possible, but apparently, all those people are right and time really does go that quickly. And from my super-experienced perch as a seasoned mother of four, I've taken some serious time to reflect on all the ways that I've changed over the years as a parent, such as:
1. I look the other way when my kids drop food on the floor
I'm not saying it happens every time, but I am saying if no one else is around, I may just whistle and go along my business. Waste not, want not, kids.
2. I chill the heck out and enjoy my kids
There was a time in my parenting career when I honest-to-goodness couldn't let myself relax long enough to just sit and enjoy my kids. It's crazy looking back, but I felt like I constantly needed to be cleaning or accomplishing things. Now, though? I fully realize how fleeting the time when my kids want to snuggle next to me on the couch is and embrace the heck out of it. Morning cartoons can be just as good of a memory as a pristine house.
3. I keep meals simple
Again, I thought meals needed to be elaborate affairs early on. I wanted them all to be exposed to exotic flavors and 50 varieties of vegetables, but these days, I'm just happy if they have full bellies. The palate expansion will come later, but for now, I'm OK with some organic mac and cheese.
4. I don't let myself feel guilty
I think all moms struggle with feelings of guilt, but there also comes a point when stuff needs to get done. When I know that I need to do things as a mom, whether that be work, exercise, or just take a moment to breathe for myself, I refuse to let myself guilty anymore. Taking care of a whole family means including myself in there too.
5. I stopped asking permission
If you're in a relationship as a parent, you might be familiar with this one. I usually default to asking my husband permission to do things I want or need to do, right down to silly things like take a shower. For example, “Honey, do you mind watching the kids while I take a shower?” But a very wise woman once told me I didn't need to ask permission, so now, I try to rephrase it so I'm just informing him what's going on, instead of asking permission like we're not equal partners here.
6. I encourage more independence in my kids
This is hard to admit, but my kids literally do nothing around our house. They will just plop down in their seats and expect to be waited on hand and foot or leave their plates or walk away from a mess. So I've had to work at re-training them to be more independent in everything from fetching their own glasses of water (really, this will not hurt them!) to clearing the dishes after dinner.
7. I stopped worrying about sleep
Before my fourth baby was born, I was super stressed about the lack of sleep I was about to get. But honestly, stressing and worrying about it didn't help things at all. So I made the decision to just stop worrying about it. I didn't let myself look at the clock and did silly things during all those night feedings like look at the moon, wander around my house thinking deep thoughts, or watch mindless TV. I didn't calculate how much sleep I would get if I fell asleep *rightnow* and just went with it. But that being said..
8. I did what I had to do to get what sleep I could
I love sleep and I get super grump without sleep, so when things got particularly bad with my baby, I did pretty much anything I could to sleep, including co-sleeping, sleeping on the floor in her bedroom, or even sleeping in a chair so I wouldn't wake her up. Sometimes, you gotta look at the struggles of parenting as temporary and do what you need to do to survive.
How have you changed as a parent?