When I look back at the days when my first son was a baby, I remember putting a lot of pressure on myself to do everything perfectly. Now, 5 years into parenthood, here are the top 10 things I wish I’d known back then.
1. If you have to pee while you’re on errands, stop what you’re doing and go to the bathroom immediately. It’s not worth having to pee into a little kid potty in the back of your SUV while kids are screaming on the side of the road because you didn’t make time to stop when you were at Target. Trust.
2. Don’t try to squeeze in “quick” errands with no stroller. Wipe those optimistic thoughts from your head, abort the mission and use a proper stroller or carrying device. (And for the love of God, please don’t try to haul that baby around in their car seat carrier. We all know those things weigh like a zillion pounds, we just don’t want to believe it.) Take the extra 2 minutes and get out your stroller. Because, chances are, the errand will take approximately 17 times longer than you really thought. (Because, duh, everything does with kids.)
3. Stop trying to pretend you still enjoy 8pm dinner reservations at the fanciest place in town. Take the pressure off, go somewhere casual and get some freaking sleep before the kids wake up at 4:11am. (True story, that was this morning.) My husband and I have perfected the day date, and it usually consists of flip flops, beers and the beach. We’re back by naptime, which is a bonus because it’s basically the gift that keeps on giving. Keep it easy. Keep it simple. You’re still cool, just in a different way.
4. You will find the right mom friends at the right time. When I first started staying home, I put so much pressure on myself to suddenly have a handful of best friends who were also stay-at-home moms and who also had kids my kid’s age and who also lived within 10 minutes of me. It just doesn’t happen that way. Relax. Gravitate toward people who are like you and the friendships will happen. Don’t feel like you have to have it all at once. Friendships take time.
5. Everyone thinks you’re doing a great job. When I was a new mom, internally, I always thought that people were secretly critiquing every parenting choice I made. Whether it’s cry-it-out, cloth diapering, when the kids eat or what they eat, the truth is: people either don’t care, or they think you’re doing an amazing job. You should believe it too.
6. It’s okay to be late to things or to miss them all together. Let’s face it. From diaper explosions to riots over shoe-wearing, the days of “just walking out the door” are long gone. Own it. And when you tell people that you can’t make it, you don’t even need to give a real reason. I usually just say, ‘So sorry, we’re not going to make it today. It’s been a rough morning.’ Every other parent out there knows exactly what that means. End of story. You do not need to justify it.
7. Screw couponing. At least for me. For me, the bottom line is: there is no time to grocery shop, let alone search for and cut out coupons. I used to go to one store for a special deal, and this other store for this other special deal. NOPE. Now, I shop at the cheapest store I know, and I just buy whatever the crap I want. Basically, I know that it will be cheaper than if I were at another grocery store, so I just buy all the food because it will be gone in less than than a day anyway, and I’ll be back here very soon. (Crazyrunonsentenceintendedforeffect.)
8. Buy all of your gifts online. For some reason, this took me a really really long time to figure out, but it’s worth its weight in gold. Instead of schlepping to the mall with 3 children who are all at naptime or feeding time or just generally don’t want to be there, now, I go online and order whatever I need in 2 seconds flat. This is even great for online gift cards because I can schedule them to be sent on that person’s birthday. What does that mean? It means that it’s one less thing for me to do, and I can check it off the list before the day has even arrived. #Winning
9. You don’t need to feel bad about getting a babysitter. When I first started staying home, I felt such guilt for having a babysitter come on a random weekday morning. When I would tell people I had a sitter, I felt like I had to justify it up and down. Here’s the reality of that: everyone needs a break. Everyone needs time for themselves. This job is 24-7-365. You’re going to need a break. Don’t feel bad about it, and don’t put it off. (In my experience, if you do, it will catch up with you.) Stop being a martyr, and call the sitter now. In fact, line her up for the same day for the next 4 weeks. Or, just forever.
10. Relax and serve your kids some crappy food. With my first child, everything was homemade and basically from-scratch. Now, purely out of necessity, my kids get hot dogs, pizza or mac and cheese at least 3 nights a week. And you know what I think about that? At least they are eating. This is just one of the things that I have let go of. Because, at least for me, being master chef in a household with 3 people 4 years old and under just doesn’t sound like a good time to me. And so, Rice-A-Roni for all. The end.
I know you have more to add! Share them in the comments section.