As a young woman, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to have children or not. I’ve never been overly motherly and when I didn’t meet someone who really cared about children I felt a bit ambiguous about the whole thing.
And then I met someone. And he was definitely passionate about children. It probably had a lot to do with the fact that he was just a huge kid himself. But my future husband immediately made it clear that one day he wanted to be a father. So my decision was made – we started our family two years after we got married. And my husband was a great father.
But in those years before I became a mother, I had some very strong opinions about things that as a parent I definitely would never do. Funny how nonparents always think they know how to become parents, right? We were all there, I’m sure. I also find it funny how we as non-parents have this list of things we will never do and which we always end up doing. The universe has a fun way of humiliating people, doesn’t it?
7 things I said I would never do as a parent. . . But did
1. Screen time
When I was pregnant with my first, I read all of the studies on how Screen time was bad for kids before the age of two. I swore I would never let my kids sit in front of a television or play with a tablet until they were two years old. And after the age of two, screen time would be extremely limited.
And then I had a baby. Suddenly, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse didn’t seem too bad for my 15 month old. Especially since I could fold the laundry, eat lunch or clean the kitchen during this time, she was happily busy with her show. Then I had another baby. Suddenly play ABC mouse on an old iPad didn’t seem so terrible. She learns her ABC! Look how smart she is!
Now my kids are older and know how to use the remote control and iPads better than I do. I do limit their screen time, however. At least I stayed true to this promise for myself!
2. Junk food
Before I had children, I swore I would only feed them organic, homemade food and snacks. I even went so far as to buy the biggest, baddest baby food company and accessories. The days of my baby food lasted a whole week. After this nonsense, I took the “easy” way out and implemented baby-guided weaning (in my opinion, this is the best way to introduce solids).
As my kids got older and wanted to try new things, it was still very important to me not to give them processed foods. But then I gave in and gave them graham cracker cookies. And once I found myself on the slippery slope of plain junk food to go, there was no going back.
I still do my best to make sure my children have healthy, balanced whole food meals. But I’m not ashamed to say that my freezer is full of nuggets and my pantry is loaded with granola bars. The organic kind, of course.
As an ancestor, I swore I would never let my children sleep in my bed. But then I had my first baby and decided to exclusively breastfeed. We put a little cradle and a glider in the corner of our bedroom and the plan was to just get up and feed her when she needed to breastfeed. But because karma is a you-know-what, my daughter was very colicky for three months (sorry, mom!). If I got up to calm her every time she cried, I absolutely couldn’t sleep.
Very soon after she was born, we admitted defeat and pulled her to our bed, where she stayed for the next 14 months. Yes, fourteen long, tiring months of sleeping together. I want to tell you we loved it. I want to tell you that I changed my mind about sleeping together and we didn’t want it to end. But I would lie We slept together for so long that I thought I was going out of my mind because I couldn’t sleep comfortably. And then it was time to turn her into a cot in her own room.
We only slept with my son for about six months before he moved on to his cot in his room. While I slept with my commitment to “never”, we only did it for a short (ish) period. I can say that once my children were in their own rooms, they were very good independent sleepers. And it made a huge difference in my ability to get a good night’s sleep too!
4. Let me go
It’s hard to admit. Before I had children, I swore I would never let myself go. I even remember quietly judging some of my friends who had started having kids and looked a little bit worse. In my naivete, I asked myself, “How hard could it be to get back in shape after having a baby ?!”
Well. I have to learn this lesson the hard way. I had Gestational diabetes with my first baby and gained a whopping 70 pounds. Then after she was born, it just wouldn’t pop off. I was struggling to lose weight at all. And I was so exhausted from sleep deprivation that I just didn’t care what I looked like. It took me a large slice of humble cake to realize that getting back into shape after having a baby can be very difficult. And I’ve learned to be far less astute towards my fellow mothers.
This one is also hard to admit because it makes me feel like a terrible parent. I never wanted to be the kind of mother who yelled at her kids. I wanted to be the kind of mom who used a soft voice and found the magical solution to arguing with irrational toddlers. Surely, I thought, I can find a way to be a parent without yelling at my children. But as my kids got older and more headstrong, more rebellious and tearful, and all the things kids do that trigger a worn-out mother, I had to scream.
I’m not proud of that. And I don’t want to go on. But I am a screamer and it will take some work to find a way not to be. I try not to be too hard on myself. There are far worse things than yelling at my kids, putting on their shoes and getting in the car! I try to give myself grace, but at the same time I try to break the habit of screaming.
6. Bribe with food
When I was young and didn’t have the first clue about the world of parents, I once saw a distraught mother bribe her child by offering him an ice cream to keep her child from having anger. “I’ll never do that,” I thought. “She should just get her child to obey her.”
I can hear you all laughing at my naive former self. Go straight ahead. I earn it. I laugh at the old me every day. Anyway, after seeing poor mama bribing her child with food, I swore I would never do it. Yet I caught myself telling my kids, “If you behave in Target, I’ll buy you a cake pop at Starbucks on the way out.”
Listen. It works out. And while I’m sure there are many psychological reasons why getting my kids to behave in Target is the wrong way, I don’t care. Cake pops save my sanity. Well there.
7. Pamper them
Before I had children, I swore I would never spoil my children. I would never buy them anything just because they wanted to. I would never buy them presents outside of their birthdays or Christmas. I didn’t want my children to grow up legitimate and selfish.
Unfortunately, I didn’t take this one into account Love languages are giving. I literally show people that I love them by giving gifts. It’s legitimate love language, but it can also be a problem. My husband had to talk to me about my propensity to buy things for the children at random, and he was right. I had to find other, more financially responsible, ways to show my children how much I love them. And while I’ll always have the urge to pamper her, even though I’ve sworn I never would, I’m learning to find other ways to shower her with love.
Before we are parents, we have wonderfully ideal fantasies about how we’re going to get it right. Only after we have actually become parents do we realize that there is no right or wrong way to become a parent. And we learn to be careful with the words “I will never do it …” because the universe has a creepy way of making us eat our words later!
What did you never say as parents? Did you eat your words
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