Nobody said being a parent was easy. But if you’re trying to raise a little person while also carrying around loads of anxiety, insecurity and regrets, attaining Happy Parent status is going to be a whole lot harder. So whether you’re battling constant daily worries or keeping never-ending tallies with your spouse, now’s the time to LET IT GO. Keep reading for 10 things you should let go of every day.
photo: Patrik Rising via Flickr
1. Mom Guilt
There are probably lots of times you feel guilty you didn’t give more of yourself to your kids. After all, there are so many “mores” moms can give: More one-on-one playtime, more stories, more cuddles, more kisses, more life lessons, more activities, more patience, more consistency, more silliness. But you know what? You’re just one person … likely with a lot on her plate. So stop feeling guilty about what you didn’t do with your kids and try to focus on all the things you’re actually doing (and we bet there’s plenty!).
2. (Compulsive) Worry
Yes, it’s a scary world out there. But you know where worrying gets you? Nowhere (except exhausted). Instead of worrying about the things that may go wrong, try to focus your energy on what’s going right. If you find yourself dwelling on your worries, try to distract your mind with something else—or get professional help if the worries are consuming you. Too much worrying can contribute to anxiety in your kids (yeah, we know: another thing to worry about) and only teaches them to live in fear.
photo: Gustavo Devito via Flickr
3. Negative body image
You know who really notices your attitude towards your body? Your kids. So show them that you love yourself no matter what. As long as you’re healthy (because that’s important to teach them, too!), try to let go of any qualms about your post-baby curves. Chances are, your body changed because it made a human. Revel in that fact, and let it simmer any time your jeans feel a little too tight. And then read an incredible account of how one mom explained the word “Fat” to her kids.
4. Keeping score
Do you feel like you’re always keeping score with your partner? Do you find yourself angrily keeping a tab every time you “do more than he does?” Chances are it’s because you’re feeling overworked and exhausted yourself. Stop tallying up tasks and ask for help. It’ll open up channels of communication and help your partner know when you need more support.
photo: David Goehring via Flickr
5. Power Struggles
Whether your parent/child power struggles are over food, bedtime or clothing choices—always remember that while you may have the power, you can’t ever really control your kids. Instead, find peace in the fact that you can control their choices. Ever heard the mealtime mantra: “You control what and when; they control if and how much?” Stick to that. Same deal with bedtime battles: Your job is to get them into their beds with the lights off; they can put themselves to sleep. As for wardrobe choices, all you can do is give them (weather-appropriate) options, and then let them choose what they put on their bodies. If it’s a superhero/princess costume every day, so be it.
6. Unrealistic Expectations (the idea of a “perfect” life)
For as many ridiculously adorable lunchbox ideas we’ve seen on Pinterest, we have yet to meet a mom who regularly cuts her child’s sandwiches in the shape of a dinosaur or slices her cantaloupe into tiny, heart-shaped bites. Newsflash: There are no perfect parents out there, no matter how they may seem on your Facebook feed.
Maybe you wish you hadn’t yelled at your kids yesterday. Maybe you wish you had been nicer to your partner when he or she really needed you. Let it go. Dwelling on the way you acted or something you did in the past won’t help you now. Accept (and appreciate!) those truths for the lessons they taught you. Resolve to act differently in the future (if necessary). Then … move on and read this.
photo: Upsilon Andromedae via Flickr
8. The Idea of a Perfectly Clean House
Trying to keep a kid-filled house clean day after day is a little like being Sisyphus (he’s the poor fellow who had to push a boulder up a steep hill every day only to have it roll back down at day’s end). But you don’t have to push that boulder! It’s OK if you go to bed some nights without doing the dishes. Give yourself a break and let the living room floor be covered with LEGO. You’re allowed.
9. Being the Cruise Director
Unschedule your kids. Believe it or not, they’ll thrive more being bored at home than they will if you account for every single minute of their day. Why? Because, according to this PBS story, unscheduled time is when “children are more likely to wonder about the world and to ask questions.”
Unless you’re warning them of impending danger (“Watch out!” or “That’s hot!”), yelling rarely accomplishes what you want with your kids. Usually, it just leaves the parent feeling guilty and the kids feeling upset (and can have lasting psychological damage). On the other hand, speaking calmly but firmly to kids is usually way more effective. Here’s a tip for keeping your voice calm when you’re feeling anything but: Take a breath before you speak. It’ll help you settle down a bit before you blow. You can find more stress management tips here.
Do you have any tips for letting go? Tell us in the comments below!
— Melissa Heckscher