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Being a parent is kind of weird sometimes. The kids? Well, they are definitely weird. I was recently reminded of this by a friend of mine who is currently in the throes of brand new, first-time parenthood. She has texted me on multiple occasions to ask all the "Is this normal?" questions.
When you are a new parent, there are a million little things you worry about that over time you realize are just totally just normal baby things. I've gotten texts along the lines of, "Oh my gosh! I can't get him on a schedule! He's already 6 weeks old and he still only sleeps for like an hour at a time." Yep ... that's normal. It sucks, but it's normal.
It got me thinking about some other things about parenting and kids that are strange but totally normal. Here are a few.
Don't beat yourself up or feel like a failure if your little one just isn't a great sleeper.
When you are a new parent the lack of sleep can feel incredibly devastating. You have no idea how crucial sleep is until you're not getting enough (by a long shot) anymore, thanks to your new little bundle of joy. People will try to tell you all their "best baby sleep tips" and while some things may help, the magical combination varies from baby to baby. It can feel like your baby will never get on a schedule and that you'll never sleep again, but for the most part this is just par for the course of parenthood. Unfortunately babies (and even kids) just aren't that great at sleep sometimes. Feel free to try all the tips, but don't beat yourself up or feel like a failure if your little one just isn't a great sleeper. Some kids just aren't, unfortunately.
When my daughter was little I swore up and down that I would not have "one of those" picky eaters. In my opinion, picky eaters were simply the product of coddling parents who gave into tiny dictator demands surrounding their food preferences. I was confident that my kids would "eat EVERYTHING." Hahahahahahahahahahaha!!! Yeah. Right. Despite my best efforts, there came a point when my daughter discovered the magic of carbs and it was basically all over from there on out. Most kids aren't going to choose broccoli over pasta; it's just a fact. Of course it's important to encourage little ones to try new things, but some kids are extra stubborn and cannot be coaxed unless it's their idea. Short of prying open little mouths and shoving food inside (which I obviously do not recommend) there isn't a whole lot you can do. Just keep offering healthy options and try to remind yourself that your little one will branch out in their culinary preferences eventually.
3. When potty training gets hard
Potty training, much like little eating habits, is another one of those things that you don't always have much control over. You can try your best at the three-day-potty-training-method, but some kids just take longer to figure it out. The time table for potty training is one that really does just depend on the kid and their personal readiness. Try not to stress and remember that most kids will be potty trained by junior high for sure.
4. When your kid loses their crap at the grocery store over nothing at all
Sometimes kids just lose their crap over the most random things.
I remember totally judging other parents from afar in my pre-parenthood days when their kids would lose it in public. In my mind those parents were clearly doing something wrong, either provoking their children in some way or not laying down the law with enough firmness and follow through. Surely my own children would be much better behaved. Now that I'm a parent I've realized that sometimes tantrums occur for absolutely no reason at all. You can try your best to control all the of the outside variables (go out during a time of day when they are typically happy and well-rested, bring snacks, don't cut it too close to nap time, etc.) but in the end sometimes kids just lose their crap over the most random things ... or nothing at all. Kids are random.
5. The "mama bear" instinct
The "mama bear" instinct to protect our "cubs" at all costs that kicks in once we become parents is pretty weird. I mean, I get all that survival and furthering of the species business that is ingrained in us, but until you experience a true "mama bear" moment, you can't really understand. It's almost an out-of-body experience at times and it can drive you to act in ways that you would've never imagined yourself responding. I've been at the park when another kid was mean to my own and it took everything in my power to keep my rational brain calm enough to go help my daughter with conflict resolution when really I just wanted to lose it on the kid.
6. The way other people will constantly try to tell you how to parent
I don't know if I really believe that this should actually be considered as "normal," but it sort of just comes with the territory. People (especially older parents who are beyond your current stage of parenting) just LOVE to tell you how to parent. It's like once you become a parent you are suddenly inducted into this secret society, and while it can sometimes be a pretty cool group, there are still those in the society who feel like they need to tell you what's what about this parenting business. People who barely know you will find it perfectly acceptable to chime in on your child-rearing techniques, which is pretty insane when you think about it. No. Just no.
7. The fact that you can be annoyed at them all day and miss them the second they fall asleep
They might be freaking adorable, but that doesn't completely negate their uncanny knack for driving me completely insane. There have been so many days when I've found myself counting down the minutes until bed time, but the weird thing is that once they're in bed I'll often have these waves of affection toward them, suddenly miss them and feel the strongest urge to go snuggle them as they sleep in their beds. My suspicion is that it's a lot easier to have lovey feelings toward my kids when they're sleeping sweetly (read: quietly), but whatever the case, it's still strange.