There are times, especially in my parenting life, that I look back at my Younger Self and think, “Girl. You could use some advice.”
There are so many things Younger Self thought were going to happen as a mom. So many expectations. So many plans.
Older me looks at those and laughs…and pees a little because pregnancy.
I sat down today and decided to write Younger Self a letter, in hopes that perhaps someone else’s Older Self would thank me for it some day.
Not that any Younger Selves will actually listen, because they know it all…amiright?!
Dear Younger Me,
Look, I know you have a lot of plans. You have a lot of expectations. But let’s just be real for a moment.
The plan, while awesome, isn’t going to work out. It never works out. Not exactly the way you think it will, anyway.
I know you think you have it all figured out. But let me tell you, I was there. It was hard. And it doesn’t have to be – especially if you listen to this letter.
You are already a great mother because you care enough about your kids to worry about what a terrible job you are doing. Trust your instincts! They are usually right on. If something doesn’t feel right, or if something perhaps less popular or conventional does feel right, follow that feeling. Want to give up on breastfeeding at 8 weeks because it’s making everyone miserable? It’s OK, everyone will survive. Love it so much that you want to extend nursing to your baby’s third year of life? Rock on, mama. That dream of living in a tiny home so you can take the family on amazing vacations? Just.Do.It. You know your family best, and no one can make these choices for them better than you can.
Focus on the things that really matter. There are so many purchases cluttering up our home and our life – toys no one plays with, fancy new cars, so many clothes and books and electronic devices. Downsize whenever you can, purge, keep only what brings you joy and makes parenting easier rather than more difficult. Remember that holiday season the kids got one gift each? One gift and they were so happy and grateful! That’s what you’re aiming for – do more of that earlier on.
When you focus on the urgent things of life over the important things in life, you get nothing done. I know you take a lot of pride in your clean home and your well groomed children and that work is a big part of your sense of self. But remember to put those urgent practices aside for what is important: get down on the floor and play with Legos. Dress and undress that baby doll again for your toddler. Take a walk and stop at every flower or creature you pass and examine it with your kids. Take every opportunity to spend a quiet afternoon with your husband.
Understand that I am not telling you to ignore your urgent responsibilities, just make sure you keep a healthy priority on your family, teaching your kids, and nurturing your marriage. Trust me, I had to learn the hard way why these priorities are so important.
Ask For Help
Don’t let your pride get in your way. As for help. Any type of help that you need, from the laundry to medication for postpartum depression, just be brave and ask for it. When you don’t ask for help, you make your life so much more difficult than it has to be. Not asking for help steals your joy and if you can learn from the mistake I made by not reaching out, then I can consider my job here a success. No one is above needing help and it is not a sign of weakness to ask for it or accept it when offered.
Love is a verb. Use it every day. Love everyone, especially your family, fiercely. You’ll be amazed at the rewards you will reap!
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