My first child will be 4 years old in a few months. Where oh where did the time go? It’s been a journey so far and it’s still only the ‘early’ years. I sat down this evening and started writing what I have learnt so far over these parenting years.
Ok, let me get right into it:
You will Change your Mind Many Times on Many Topics – This is OK
One of the worst things you can do as a parent is say I will never do so so and so. Oh boy, you will find that you change your mind a number of times. And that’s OK. You don’t owe anyone an apology for saying you will never co-sleep and then letting your child sleep in your room or bed for 3 years.
Don’t Pretend to Know… You don’t
If you have not gone through a certain parenting stage or developmental milestone, you really do not know what it entails. It is better not to pretend you know. Or try to join the conversation based on your perceived parenting prowess. No no no.
Let me give you an example. Before potty training began I said I would just use the normal toilet straight, with a training seat, I didn’t understand the point of using a small potty. Fast forward to when I started, yes I used the potty. I even bought one for the car. I really did not know.
Self-care is so important
It is important to do things for yourself. Take time for yourself if possible, everyday. Even if it’s just 15 minutes of a long bath and creaming time. Love on you. I promise you that you are a better parent when you have loved on yourself through self-care. DO not feel guilty about time that you take out just for you EVER. It is essential.
Earlier Does Not Mean Smarter
I am still learning and reminding myself about this one. Just because my child does something later than her classmates or friends does NOT mean that she is not as smart. Examples: walking, talking, potty training, reading etc. My child is her own unique person, with many unique God-given gifts. I will focus on her own gifts and strengths and things she can do, rather than the things she cannot do… yet!
The Rewards for Spending Time with Your child are Endless
I say this not to make any mum feel guilty, but to state that quality time with your child is truly a wonderful thing for both mum and child. Now many times people talk about the benefits for the child of these bonding moments, I want to talk about the benefits for the Mum. As a Mum getting to truly know your child helps you too. When you know and understand your child, you can parent them in a way that is in line with their learning styles, you build a trust with them and they learn to listen to you because you both have had plenty of practice. It is how you will know a certain behaviour is because of hunger not about the tantrum. It is how you understand whether to give more food as requested or you know that they’re really food and will go to waste the extra food. It doesn’t make it easier, oh, at least in my experience I cannot use that easy word, but you sometimes, get to bask in those moments of glory of the good and that feeling is everything.
Seasons Come and Seasons Go
Weaning, first words, first steps, colic, potty training, first days of school, sleeping through the night etc. They came and oh I felt all sorts of emotions attached to each and every single one of them, but it passed. It got better with time. I learnt coping mechanisms, I got to enjoy it and I can honestly say some of those made me ache and cry and worry into the night, but they passed! And I liked every single one of those better when I did it in a way that best suited me and baby. That’s maybe why I don’t believe in doling out general advice, I prefer the word suggestions. The truth is many times, we have to find our own way.
Find Your Mama Tribe – You will Need Them
I feel like thanking my friends all the time for the tips they give me on discipline, food ideas and just generally allow me to rant and moan when I feel like I need to. Find friends that have children the same age as yours. Find friends you trust with sharing information about your parenting journey. Lean on these friends. I am also eternally grateful for my internet friends who share with me, ask questions and share their tips too. Thank you J.
Play Allows You to Connect with Your Child
Again, I feel like I’m forever preaching the benefits of play. Via @PoPP Lagos and with simple descriptive posts on @Mummyfix. But this last couple of months, I got to fully understand that play is a language that I speak with my child too. It helps me see my child as a person in her own right, as opposed to somone I’m caring for and that’s very healthy. It brings an element of fun, wonder and mystic to parenting. I think because caring can be so much hard, especially if you’re doing it with little or no support/help, that it is a good idea to have these shifts in your mind and your focus.
Know That YOU are the PERFECT PARENT for your child
My biggest learning in Parenting I stumbled on during my internet readings last year and honestly, I found it to be PROFOUND because it came right on time for me. The message is that I am fit for my child. I am the perfect parent for my child. I have everything I need to parent her the way she needs me too. And so are you. There are no mistakes on these things. YOU are equipped to parent your child the way they need.
Find your Parenting Way
Not everyone will understand your parenting choices. Some of your choices will baffle people – I have been asked WHY on some issues. Sometimes your choices will irritate people – are you the first to have a child? There are time’s I don’t even know the back story of why I want to do something, only that it feels right to me and I will sit and think so what is my rationale here? And if it feels right and I still dont know the answer, I am OK with it. Do not be bothered by these outside murmurings or lack of self-understanding. Stand firm in your resolve. Trust your instincts and keep doing you.
I didn’t know that parenting would bring out the fierce in me. Did I think for one second that it would also make me softer and kinder? The answer is… no. But here we are. I can honestly say it has changed me for the better as cliché as that statement is. I just feel more focused and somehow that has been good for me.
Are there times when I ask myself who sent me on this journey… ladies the answer is a YES. Are there days I look for freedom like girl where you at, come get me and take me on a long all-expensed-paid holiday by myself? … YES. And yet those moments take nothing away from the wonder and pure joy of being a mum.