The #1 Parenting Rule that Improved My Perspective

The key to successful parenting isn't what you think

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Photo by Simon Matzinger on Unsplash

I’m a relatively new parent. My son is turning one soon. This year has been the most challenging of my life so far. Mostly because of all of the unknowns. There are so many “rules” in parenting but no rulebook. 

As I was being wheeled from the hospital to my car after having a tiny human forcibly removed from my body, I was terrified. I called the emergency line for my pediatrician within hours of arriving home because I thought my son had diarrhea (Turns out newborn poop is just that gross). I’ve heard countless stories with similar sentiments. Parents easily connect over their now-funny hysterics.

Parenthood looks different for everyone and that’s part of what makes it so beautiful. But, it can be painfully confusing to figure out how to make decisions. I spent the first few months (More than a few let’s be real) with my face glued to my phone while I ferociously searched Google for all the answers.

I spent hours a day trying to do things “right.” Meanwhile, my son had plans to sabotage my “rightness” and demand things be done in unconventional ways.

It hit me recently that life is flying by and I’m spending entirely too much time being stressed. I started listening to the Thrive Podcast and found some helpful information for improving sleep habits, having boundaries with technology, and making room for rest. As I made steps to improve my quality of life, I realized how little I was investing in myself. 

One night, I was particularly exhausted and stressed. I commented to my husband, “I take care of everyone in this house! Who is going to take care of me?!” Honestly, I was hoping for a dramatic display from my laid back, go-with-the-flow partner. I wanted him to somehow rescue me from my frenetic downward spiral. But almost as soon as I made the statement, I knew the answer to my question.

Me. I’m the one who needs to take care of me! It turns out that pouring my entire self into motherhood isn’t what’s best for my family.  For the past year, I have struggled with the guilt of having a career over being with my son full-time. Instead of continually wrestling with guilt, I’m believing that my career will be an inspiration for my children and grandchildren. 

“Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on children than the unlived life of the parent.”
-Carl Jung

Having a life of my own is not only healthy for me but my family. I’m determined to stop wearing exhaustion and guilt like a badge of honor. I’m on a journey of learning to care for myself and I hope other parents will come along with me!

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