The great thing about parenting is that it’s forgiving. Meaning, if you mess up once or twice, you can make some changes and you can start fresh.
As a mother of three young girls, I can certainly say that I have learned a thing or two about being a parent — especially the kind of parent I want to be. The way I parent my third child is much different than the way I was with my first.
And to be perfectly honest, I think I’m a better mom now than I was at the very beginning. Here’s why…
1. I stopped counting. With my first baby, everything was a numbers game. How many wet diapers did she have each day? How long has it been since I last fed her? How many hours of consecutive sleep did she get? How much sleep did I get? Now that I’m on Baby #3, I’ve had to let that go. Not being tied to a clock has done wonders for me. Not stressing out about her sleeping four hours when she “should have” eaten after three. Not worrying about counting the wet and dirty diapers. Not arguing about how many hours of sleep I got compared to my husband. Not counting is the way to go.
2. I didn’t read parenting books. I know plenty of people who spend countless hours reading books about sleep training, how to get their kids to eat, whether or not to let them cry, how many hours of a day they should be read to or sung to, when to introduce solid foods, etc. It’s all just too much. No book ever helped me. Instead, it just made me stress out way too much and took time away from things I could have been doing instead — reading to my baby, hanging out with my husband, catching up on sleep, etc.
3. I stopped playing the comparison game. “She’s not walking yet? Really? Sally walked at 9 months!” We’ve all had these conversations. The one-upping in the world of parenting. The fact is, each child grows and develops at their own pace. If the doctor isn’t concerned, I shouldn’t be either. All of my girls have been so different from each other, too. One walked at 13 months, another not until 15. One slept through the night at 2 months, and another didn’t until she was one and a half!
4. I started surrendering to the day. Some days are amazing. And some days are terrible. That’s the one thing that’s constant in parenting. Instead of letting a bad nap or a sleepless night ruin my life, I’ve got to let it go and remember that tomorrow is a new day. (And I’ll admit that I still have to remind myself of this one on occasion!)
5. I trusted my gut. The real parenting expert on my own children is me. I know them better than anyone, so I’ve got to go with my instincts. If the baby is crying and rooting toward the breast, she’s probably hungry. (Even if the book said to wait and only feed her every three hours.) If she’s screaming and terrified every time she tries to go potty on the toilet, then maybe we need to wait a bit longer (even if my friend insists that all children can be toilet trained by age 2).