Perfect Parenting

Remember those months before becoming a mom … well besides the sickness and endless trips to the bathroom … those months you thought about what kind of parent you would be.

My husband always said I would be the easy parent – always giving in to my children’s demands, a “softie”. He thought he would be the “tough dad”. I envisioned myself making homemade meals every night, doing activities with my kids, our house being organized, and working out just like I used to – I would be the “perfect parent”.

As soon as my first baby was born, my daydream of “perfect parenting” flew right out the window.

Like all new moms, I was hormonal, exhausted, and overwhelmed – not a good recipe for “perfect parenting”. Then I started second guessing every decision I made and every action I took for our new baby. As our kids get older the decisions get harder and I wonder; am I disciplining them correct? Am I saying the right things? Do I play with them enough? Am I teaching them what they need to know?

As moms we constantly feel at war with ourselves. In our own minds we can never do enough for our children. But what is “perfect parenting”?

Some people think “perfect parenting” is – staying home with your babies; pulling yourself together with full faced makeup before the kids get up; having all laundry done at all times; keeping a clean house; planning and executing specific activities with your children; having homemade meals and premade snacks; reading stories and learning all day long; getting the kids into bed without a fight; going to bed to get 8 hours of sleep.

Other people think “perfect parenting” is – working full time to provide; having a nanny or babysitter; Chapstick is the only makeup a mom needs; doing laundry once or twice a week works; making sure the kids eat something; a mom sacrificing all her needs.

Here’s the reality – there is no such thing as “perfect parenting”. “Perfect parenting” is a myth and does not exist. Even if you have the perfect day planned, there’s a really good chance your child will throw an epic tantrum or attempt to eat something they’re not supposed to. Most days motherhood is about surviving, let alone perfection. Every family has a unique situation – It’s okay for moms to work and it’s okay for moms to stay home. Only you know what is best for you and your family.

We are our biggest critics and anyone who says being a parent is a breeze and their kids are perfect is lying. Society’s unobtainable expectations are overwhelming enough, then we have veteran moms judging our every move – keep in mind anyone who expects you to be their version of “perfect parenting” needs to wake up and smell a diaper. There will be days pizza is the best you can do and moments you literally want to pull your hair out – good days and bad.

We sometimes think – I should be doing more. But the majority of the time we physically, emotionally, and mentally have already given motherhood our all – we’re already doing a stellar job. And for anyone who is bold enough to think our best isn’t good enough, is the furthest thing from “perfect parenting”.

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Working Out vs. Survival

Before having babies I was a fitness queen – working out 6 days a week which included workout classes, walking/running, and yoga.  My free time was filled with time for vanity.  Staying active and working out has always been my coping mechanism for life’s stresses and a way to keep myself sane (and of course the endless effort to fit into a bathing suit).

When you find out you’re having baby, fitness focus quickly shifts to survival strategies. Most new moms to be are now concerned about getting through the day without an embarrassing barfing episode or hoping coworkers don’t think they have narcolepsy.  Many mornings during my first  trimester I begged God to give me energy to get out of bed and then prayed I could pick myself off the floor to make it to work.  I chewed gum and sucked on candies frantically hoping my nausea wouldn’t spit out during an important meeting, or worse, all over a client.  By the time I survived a long day at work, I could barely think about dinner, let alone put on shoes to workout.  During those first weeks of pregnancy all moms at one point think – “If I can just survive today…”

Some lucky women get energy back during pregnancy – Now what?  Should I attempt to stay fit? How much activity is too much?  Will I hurt my baby?  As a mom to be this will be one of our first experiences second guessing if we are doing the right thing for our child (unfortunately this insecurity only gets worse!).  My pregnancy workout advice – do research, talk to your doctor, and whenever you feel uncomfortable or in pain – STOP! With my first two pregnancies going to work was enough of a workout and stretching sufficed as a stress reducer.

After pregnancy knocked me off my fitness throne, I was inundated with a baby.  This little person genuinely needed me (and my boobs) 24/7, not to mention there is no tired like new “Mommy tired”. Once I was cleared to workout I suddenly had this overwhelming sense of guilt every time I even thought about working out – Am I just being vain? I have baby now and I should have to sacrifice everything right?  It took me a good year to realize – NO.  My post baby body wasn’t the same (I have the bladder of a 90-year-old) and now the one time fearless fitness queen was absolutely terrified to workout.

Last night I finally bit the fitness bullet and went to my first post baby workout class in almost three years (thank you Groupon for the awesome deal!).  On the way there I called my husband and told him how oddly nervous and scared I felt – he sweetly reassured me.  Much to my surprise, I survived a kettle-ball class and for the first time in awhile felt an immediate sense of accomplishment. And guess what, I leaped over the first hurdle – the first workout – the hardest one of all.

After having two kids I may not be able to jump rope without fear of peeing my pants and I might be able to do only 1.25 pushups – but I have finally worked up the courage to workout!  Even if its only once a week, us Moms deserve it and our kids deserve a healthy mom.  In the midst of surviving, we have to remember that sometimes we have to put a mask on ourselves first in order to help others.

Even though pregnancy may temporarily knock us off our fitness thrones, after surviving the fall and with a little bravery, we can fight our way back to take our rightful seat … even if its one day a week.