7 Things I Told Myself I’d Do As a Parent vs. What I’m Really Doing
It’s been a little over a year now since I’ve had my first baby. There were a lot of expectations I had set for myself as a parent to be a “good” parent. I had all these ideas on how I wanted to raise my son from birth and a lot of it ended up changing as the months go on.
I was told this was going to happen and to be able to adapt on the fly to any changes to my plans as my baby grows. I would roll my eyes and say “No, I’m pretty sure this is how I want to parent.”
They were telling the truth.
Here are 7 Things I Told Myself I’d Do As a Parent vs. What I’m Really Doing.
1. No screen time until 2 years or older.
I laugh about this now. I was really kidding myself with that one for sure. There was no way I could live as a SAHM with this baby without something on the screen. I love watching TV or having background noise myself. It feels odd not having something to watch during the day now. I did half-follow through with my plan of no screens. When he was an infant we played 15 minute Hey Bear videos to help with eye tracking. Now, as he’s older he’s starting to pay attention to the screens.
We don’t put on his shows all day long. It’s only on certain time blocks of the day. For the long chunks, I make sure to choose something education like Songs for Littles (aka Ms Rachel) or Cantícos. If I need a quick break, I’ll put on Bluey — Let’s face it I put it on so I can watch it, too.
2. I will be full-time cloth diapering, trying to save our planet!
This one was tough from the start. I had friends who were on board with us doing this but family who were not. They bought us a lot of disposable diapers to go through the first few months. My husband hadn’t bothered to get into the nitty gritty details of cloth diapering because he wanted to do the easy — disposable route. After spending $$ on diapers every month, he is now over it and is wanting us to start potty training at 18 months. I am already getting my son used to the potty, but we won’t be doing it full-time until he can tell me when he NEEDS to pee instead of when he already does it. We’re halfway there with him telling me he has to poop!
In the meantime, we are now full-time cloth family. I bought a few more diapers to add to our stash. This will be fun!
3. I will be making all of our meals.
Can we all take a moment to laugh at this? I — a person who hates cooking — thought that I’d be making each meal from scratch with only healthy ingredients. I just want to shake my head. I caved, after fighting with my procrastination on cooking and bought toddler meals. First off, this is okay! Don’t hate yourself if you have to do this. I buy toddler meals, frozen chicken nuggets and microwavable macaroni and cheese. I have a toddler screaming at me as it takes me 20 seconds to heat up his meal. Imagine if I have to cook something for 30 minutes? Yikes. I’m glad I didn’t stick to this hard expectation of mine…
4. We will have baby in the crib in his room at 4 months old.
In my last article, I wrote about bedsharing/co-sleeping. Like I said in that piece, I wasn’t expecting to bedshare but it made our sleep life so much better. I actually slept longer stretches in the night. And it makes tending to him if he’s not feeling well a lot easier as well. We can both fall asleep naturally together faster than if I had just rocked/nursed him to sleep and placed him in the crib. He won’t be in my bed forever… in fact I think he might want his own bed to himself pretty soon.
5. I will stop breastfeeding once he starts having teeth.
I don’t know what possessed me to think that I was going to stop breastfeeding my child at 5 months old. I immediately changed my thought process to 1 year mark instead. Then when we hit the 1 year mark and he was still going strong and I was still producing milk, I didn’t want to wean him cold turkey. I decided now to let him go as long as he needs. We’re still going and everyone around me — except for my mom friends — aren’t very happy with my decision. A lot of it is because I have to be the one to get him down for naps or sleeping. It’s very difficult to make plans or do things with other people if I’m the primary nap person.
6. I will be a working mom.
Sadly, this didn’t become my reality because I couldn’t bear to be away from my infant every day — even for 6 hours. My husband and I decided that my income wasn’t really doing anything for us anyway and we agreed that I need to be a SAHM. Now that my son is older, I’m trying to find a balance, be a work from home mom instead. I’m still working on the logistics behind it, but I hope it’ll work out!
7. I will be “gentle” parenting.
I had to really look into gentle parenting. I kept seeing videos about it, articles, etc. But I wasn’t a fan on how I was seeing it in action by some people that I know. It didn’t seem to be working for them. Then I realized they were missing some of the key points to gentle parenting. When I really looked into the different styles I knew what I wanted to do. “Responsive parenting” or Attachment style parenting was more my pace when he was an infant/newborn and authoritative is going to be how we’ll parent as he grows.
Right now we’re in toddlerhood. I’m still doing the responsive parenting. We bedshare, contact-nap, breastfeed, etc. I will continue to do this until I am not longer needed. I’ve seen signs of him growing out of these needs. Like not needing to be contact napping for the whole nap. Only nursing for a few minutes and then removing himself to fall asleep on the bed beside me. When it comes to discipline, I make sure that I’m always there for him, to help him through his emotions, and to explain why I have to step in and take him or things away. It’s a hard process. I don’t know how anyone can do this with ease. It takes practice, and dedication. And yes, you can make mistakes — just own up to it.
He is quick to console with me. If he’s scared, he knows to come to me and he stops crying. If he is sad, same thing. If he is hurt… yep you guessed it, he will come to me and instantly is all better. I’m amazed. But if he’s mad at me, it takes a few extra minutes to get him to calm down — but I never leave him, I’m always there, and he knows that he can come to me again and feel safe.
What are some of the expectations you set for yourself as a parent? Are you meeting them? Or have you made some changes?