Note: This article contains affiliate links (hyperlinks, widgets, or through images), which means I receive compensation if you purchase a product through them. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and/or believe will add value to my readers. Visit my disclosure page for more information.
Being a parent is equal parts rewarding and challenging, enthralling and exhausting, fantastic and frustrating. The absolute joy of seeing your child navigate their world is unparalleled in this life. This is not to say that kids can’t be absolute nightmares sometimes.
Being a parent is hard, and despite what you see on Instagram, there is no such thing as a perfect parent. Trying to be one is ultimately futile.
So, having promptly chucked out the idea of perfect parenting, how can we be the best parents that we can be in 2021?
Check out this important (albeit relatively short) list.
Treat Them As Individuals
As a parent of more than one child, it’s easy to see them as an unruly mob of terrors who have come together to ruin everything you hold dear. Things like your sleep schedule, your sex life, and every piece of white furniture you’ve ever owned.
As your toddler is systematically chucking peas onto the floor, your baby is trying to eat a used tissue. Meanwhile, your 8-year-old is trying to explain multiplication to you like you didn’t also finish 3rd grade.
The cacophony of needs, demands, and split attention can stop you from seeing each of your kids as a tiny individual who will grow up to become their own adult. And, who will —fingers crossed—probably be there to take care of you when you get old.
Spending one-on-one time with your children is a crucially important thing to do as a parent. Getting to know your children as people will help you as a parent to identify their passions, needs, and talents and nurture them.
No two children are alike, and getting to know them separately will help you understand their needs and adjust your parenting approach.
Look After Yourself
Throughout our lives, we play many roles: child, sibling, friend, partner but no shift is as significant as the shift to the role of parent. The role may be one of a lifetime; however, at the same time, it can be overwhelming and all-consuming.
It’s easy to lose yourself in the act of parenting, lose your identity in your children, and lose touch with the things that made you you. For many people, the crushing confluence of the exhaustion that comes with being a new parent and the feeling that you’re losing your own identity in your children can be incredibly destabilizing.
Whether you’re the parent of a newborn feeling lonely and isolated by the world of late-night feedings or if you’re a parent of multiple children who has found themselves racking their brain wondering the last time they had a moment’s peace, you must look after yourself as a parent.
Prioritize your Mental Health
When you feel like you’re losing yourself in your child’s life, there are many ways you can prioritize your mental health. It could be as simple as looking for a little solidarity and reassurance that what you are going through is completely normal.
In this case, we wholeheartedly recommend that you check out Me After You, a fantastic podcast from Laura Byrne and the team at MamaMia. This excellent resource aims to help new parents struggling with the question: who am I now that I am somebody’s parent?
Take Up a Hobby
You could ground yourself and invest in self-care by giving yourself a much-needed break, investing in your hobbies, making a regular time to socialize with friends and family, or just taking a long bath.
The most important thing is to make sure your hobby gives you some physical distance from your kids. Lord knows that when kids are young, they will follow you everywhere – into the bathroom, into bed – they have absolutely no boundaries.
They’re like an echo, peppering you with questions like ‘can all the animals talk to each other?’, ‘will broccoli make my poop green?’, ‘how come rain can’t get through umbrellas, but it gets through clothes?’… they are insatiable.
It’s crucial for your sanity to get some time to yourself to breathe and be a grown-up.
Silence that mom guilt and disabuse yourself of the notion that there are perfect parents out there. Remember, we’ve all been there, and 99% of parenting is just muddling through.
Get Help When You Need It
However, becoming a parent can lead to some serious issues from postpartum depression, anxiety, and mania or just can exacerbate existing mental health concerns. In these cases, the best thing you can do for yourself and your family is to seek professional help from a psychologist or counselor.
Remember, becoming a parent is life-altering, and you’ll never be exactly who you were before. Still, if you’re feeling unmoored, there are many ways you can try and incorporate aspects you miss from your pre-kid life into your life as a parent.
It’s never weak to ask for help, ultimately making sure you’re happy, healthy, and at your best is the most important thing you can do as a parent.
What do you find to be the most difficult aspect of parenting?
Krystle Cook – the creator of Home Jobs by MOM – put her psychology degree on a shelf and dived into a pile of diapers and dishes instead. She is a wife and mother to two rambunctious boys, sweating it out in her Texas hometown. She loves cooking, DIY home projects, and family fun activities.