The best parenting advice I’ve ever gotten

Parenting is hard. It’s probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I don’t have all the answers and some days I feel like I don’t have any answers. It’s that hard – I swear. One moment you feel like you’ve got everything figured out and the next something happens that leaves you asking yourself “what the hell do I do now?”.

I roll my eyes when people give me fool proof parenting advice. I chuckle every time I read a blog post from a mum who claims to have all the answers. I roll my eyes and chuckle when mums tell me they’ve never doubted their parenting because I don’t buy that hogwash for a second.

The thing about parenting (for me anyway) is that it’s all about trial and error. I try something – it works – I do it again. I try something- it fails – I revaluate and then try something else. Kids are tough. Parenting is even tougher. It’s not easy and I’ll never lie to you and tell you I’ve got it all figured out because I don’t and I doubt I ever will.

While sorting through a few of Margs’ boxes that were left unpacked from the move I came across this.

IMG_1783

A handwritten note from a dear friend congratulating us on the birth of our daughter. At the time, I read it and didn’t give much thought to the “don’t forget to take time for yourself”. I had a newborn, I was getting zero sleep and I was just so overwhelmed with life that taking time for myself seemed absolutely impossible.

The thing is, this is probably the best piece of advice I’ve been given. Actually, it is the best piece of advice I’ve ever been given. Within weeks of Margs’ birth I started to feel trapped. I felt feelings of resentment and frustration at the neediness of this child that I fought so hard to bring into the world. I felt isolated and alone and most importantly I felt like I didn’t love my child enough. It was rough – really rough and I’ll admit that I cried a ton. One day, I even asked Mer “what have we done?”. He understood and admitted that he had similar feelings.

Bringing home a baby was rough on us. I’ll speak for myself (although Mer had similar feelings because we discussed it at length) when I say that I loved Margs the moment she was born but I wasn’t in love with her. I wasn’t smitten the way most new mommas appear to be. It took time to get to know her and fall in love with her- and I’m okay with that.

At around the 3 month mark I was really at my breaking point. I spent my days cooped up indoors (it was the dead of winter) with little to no interaction with the outside world (I should have started a blog hunh?) and my feelings of isolation and entrapment intensified – then, I remembered my good friends suggestion to take time for yourself.

I’m not going to lie and tell you that I do this every day. I try to but some days when Margsy is extra fussy or other obligations get in the way I just can’t. That’s what being a momma is all about I guess. But, most days I find a 20 minute reprieve from my role as mom and do something I enjoy. Some days that looks like a hot bath, others it’s listening to music with ear buds so I can tune out what’s going on around me, reading, coloring mandalas, walking, meditating, baking or running a few errands. You get the point.

That 20 minutes of “me” time restores my mental energy and it also makes me a better mum to Margs. It helps me refocus and be more present – it helps me step out of my identity as a mum and just be Jenny for 20 or so minutes which allows me the time to channel and attend to my own emotional needs.

What’s the best and worst parenting advice you’ve ever received?

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Author: Jenny

I'm Jenny, a 30-something mama to 1 living child and 5 angels. I live in a tiny blue cottage in a small suburb outside a major Canadian city. I live here with my miracle baby Margs, my husband Mer, my pup and my 2 cats. I blog about a bunch of different things including parenting, frugal living and minimalism. Feel free to subscribe to my blog and follow me on instagram, twitter or bloglovin.

39 thoughts on “The best parenting advice I’ve ever gotten”

  1. I’m right there with you! I have 3 boys, ranging in age from 18 – 10, alone time for me as well as you, is locking myself in the bathroom for about 30 minutes while I lay in the bath and play music really loud, often at times with a large glass of wine! This helps me as well. Since I started blogging, about a month or so ago, it has really helped with my alone time as well. I just tell the boys and hubby to leave me alone for awhile and let me do my thing. Us Moms Rock no matter what tho!! You got this!! 🙂

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  2. Love this post. I think one of the best pieces of advice about parenting I ever received was “your kids won’t remember whether or not you had a clean house.” It was a good reminder to cut my myself some slack and to also try to keep everything in perspective. Our kids’ memories of us will be the time we spent with them and the love they are surrounded with (not a spotless house) 🙂

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  3. One friend said to me she didn’t start to like her second child, who is a great kid, but bright, headstrong and demanding, until she was two, but she’s still a great parent and now has a third, who at 9 month is a breeze.

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    1. I think there’s an adjustment period for sure. For some maybe it’s quicker while for others it’s slower. Although we’ve “created” this tiny person we truly don’t know them until they enter the world – it takes time to get to know each other and bond.

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  4. Great post. I have 2 boys now 13 and 11 and it’s only more recently I’ve been making sure I take time for myself. It’s a great piece of advice that I guess as a new mum I’d have felt guilty having ‘me time’ but it’s important 😊

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    1. Guilt is a huge part of it. In the very beginning I’d hope out of the bath or stop doing what I was doing if I heard her cry. I felt like I needed to be there ALL.THE.TIME. One night Mer told me that she’d cry whether or not I was there and that he could handle it. I do still catch myself trying to “rescue” her and listening but I’m much better about just letting myself be and enjoying my little break.

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  5. So much honesty in this post. I also really struggled to find that connection with my first child, so a lot of this rings true for me.

    Worst advice – “Sleep when baby sleeps.” Do these people even have kids?!

    Best advice – “Parent the child’s emotions and thoughts rather than their physical expression of them.” Mind. Blown.

    Also, Dory had some excellent advice. “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming!”

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    1. I particularly love the “sleep when baby sleeps” – I heard that countless times too. Unless,we could get away with wearing dirty clothes and eating take out 7 nights per week sleeping when baby sleeps is impossible.

      Love your best advice too. Really really profound. I need to sit on it a bit to wrap my head around it.

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  6. I couldn’t agree with this post more. Especially the admittance you made about not being truly in love with your baby until a little while into things. I was exactly the same. I think, as moms, we need to ensure that we take those minutes to ourselves. Because we all know that they won’t just come to us easily. Occasionally I have told my husband, once getting the toddler to bed, that I’m going to the grocery store. But I usually go and find a quiet place to sit in my car and watch Netflix on my phone for a little while. I never get to sit down and relax in the evening with dinner to make, dishes to do, lunches for the next day to make for me and the toddler. So these 20-30 minutes of uninterrupted, quiet crap tv watching are a huge saviour to me. I then go to the grocery store and come back saying it was chaotic and huge line ups. He doesn’t need to know that I do this. It’s my little thing and I enjoy the secrecy of it!

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    1. Thank you! It’s my journey ya know? At first I was embarrassed that I hadn’t bonded with her quickly but soon enough I came to accept it and realized that I couldn’t be the only one. Parenting is so so hard.

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  7. The best analogy that my bff and I use is “you put your own oxygen mask on first.” You can’t help anyone if you’re running out of air. Even if it’s just a quick 15 minute YouTube yoga video or some guilt-free Facebook, it’s important to sneak something in for yourself!

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  8. The worst advice (though meant to be the best) was “”sleep when the baby sleeps.” Ha! My first had colic the first six months. My second slept so much I couldn’t sleep because I was scared he would not wake up. My daughter didn’t want to sleep because she was afraid of missing something. So now my advice is just don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t let yourself feel isolated. We are moms. We get it.

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  9. The best advice I got was just to know that my kid was unique and so what worked for others wouldn’t necessarily work for him. It’s helped me get past a lot of my own concerns and guilt when things don’t work out for us. Worst advice is what others said – sleep when the baby sleeps. Oh, okay, should I do housework when the baby does housework too?

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  10. the best advice i received was ‘sanity at all costs’ 🙂 .

    my kids are almost 17 and 19 … but if they’ve heard it once, they’ve heard it a jillion times … “Sanity! Mom needs sanity!”

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  11. Jenny, it’s good to see that other mums struggled with the same thing, where we forget to take care of ourselves because of our focus on our babies. I also found that I had this image of what a perfect mum should be and gave myself a lot of pressure to conform to that. The best advice I received was from my pediatrician – stop reading parenting books!

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  12. I can totally relate! I was 18 when I had my little one; I am only 20 now. After birth, in the three days I was there, I was scared! I was left alone in the room with this needy child, I was in pain, and learning how to breastfeed… I was even more frightened to take him home! Newborns are so fragile and I had never been home alone with a needy child before… I was extremely tired, and I would cry all the time and wonder if having a child was the right thing to do. I am glad that I stuck it out because now that we have gotten through that tough time, he is my best friend, and I love him so much!

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  13. Dad-to-be here. I haven’t gotten much direct advice, but this take time for yourself thing seems to pop up a lot. I’m hoping I can help my wife remember to do that so she can stay sane.

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    1. It’s the best advice I’ve gotten. It’s important for Dads too. In the early days when days sort of blend together Mer and I both took breaks. You need to do it to stay sane.

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  14. I’m not a mother or a married woman, but I hope when I have a child in the future, I would remember this. Right now even though I’m already 26 y.o., the idea of having children still terrifying for me. I’m scared that I can’t be a good parent or hurting the children or I’m unable to protect them. They are so small and fragile.

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    1. It is terrifying. I still didn’t feel ready even after years of trying. Parenting is tough work and nobody is perfect at it. Sometimes you just do what you think is best even if it’s completely the wrong thing. We learn as we go!

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  15. I absolutely love this post! I had really bad ‘baby blues’ when I first had my son. I only had 6 weeks to wrap my head around the fact I was having a baby and that was hard. Then I started to expect to much of myself and tried to do every bloody thing on zero sleep! Now he is 5 months and I’m trying to incorporate somethings for me into my day! All the best!

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    1. The early weeks and months are incredibly difficult. Hopefully as time passes you’re feeling a little better. I started to really feel like myself again when Margs was approximately 10 months old. It took time.

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  16. Wow, you nailed it!
    I think I’ve found another kindred spirit in this blogosphere. I’ve read your bio and we’re really alike in terms of being frugal and living a simple life. I was still very young and innocent and fragile (lol) but motherhood really toughened me up. Expect me to be lingering around your blog. You have excellent posts. Keep writing! 🌻

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