Motherhood is different for every woman but I feel one thing most that of us can agree on is — being a mom is hard. It does not come without hardships and sacrifices. Motherhood is one of the biggest events in your life that will completely change you as a person. All of a sudden you are responsible for another human being and you have to take on that responsibility carefully.
Everything you do from here on out can reflect on the child you are raising. Even the way you react or talk about others can reflect on you as a parent. If you were a cool, calm and collected person prior to motherhood you may think you have it all planned out. Let me stop you right there. You can’t plan out everything ahead after you become a parent.
My Story | Being A Mom is Hard
The inevitable can happen at any moment. You can have a great job, in the midst of planning out your dream home with a beautiful nursery in mind. You have your maternity leave all planned out with the accrued sick leave you saved up to get you by. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it? You can have it all planned out just right only to have it all come to a screeching halt. You leave work early for a routine prenatal checkup and find out something is wrong. The next thing you know you’re being admitted into a hospital on bed rest for weeks and end up having a very, very early delivery. Your house plans now have to wait because you have medical bills out the hooha and all you can concern yourself with is the health of your baby.
Clearly this isn’t the situation for every new mom. It is a little taste of reality for you that no matter how well you think you have things planned out they can change. Despite the hardships you have come to face with and many more to come nothing else matters. Motherhood comes first. It changes you in ways you can’t even begin to imagine. It will change the way you think and the way you see the world around you.
How Parenting Has Changed Since I Was a Kid
I can’t compare it to how motherhood felt for my mom or hers, but I honestly think it’s a fact of life; no matter what era you raise children in being a mom is hard. Some might argue that our parents and grandparents had it so much easier to raise kids in a simpler time. Was it really any easier? There are so many challenges and things we face today that our parents never had to worry about. That doesn’t mean our parents didn’t face their own set of problems.
One factor that has changed significantly since I was a kid is safety! When my mom brought me home from the hospital, I can almost guarantee it was not in a rear-facing car seat. Now? Not only is it recommended to have your baby properly restrained in a rear-facing car seat until the age of 1 (at the least), but it’s also a state law requirement in some parts of the U.S. Let’s not even get into the number of recalls every year on baby gear for safety measures.
Can you remember riding your bike everywhere (and without a helmet) up to several blocks away from home. As long as you made it back home before the streetlights came on you were good. Kids can’t do that today with the threat of child predators, sex offenders, abductions, etc. You might be able to get away with it in a small town where everyone knows everybody, but even still that’s questionable. Parenting then was a lot more laid back and kids were able to do things a little more freely, if you will. Today it feels like I have to keep my kids attached at the hip just to go shopping!
It’s easy to joke about the way things were growing up compared to today’s kids feeling as though we’re trying to keep them in a bubble. The reality of today’s safety standards compared to the way things were as kids is a considerable decrease in the number of injuries and deaths from accidents that can be avoided.
The Food/Eating Habits
The foods we eat and how they’re prepared has changed drastically over the years. In fact, commercial farming for mass production wasn’t even a thing up until just under 100 years ago. The meat, dairy, and even produce our parents grew up on was not the same as it is today. Some changes have been made for the better. For instance, we now have a better comprehension of nutrition and have so many options to make healthier choices.
Growing up in a time where there were more moms working out of the home there was a rise in manufactured foods that offered convenience. Frozen dinners and meals in a box allowed working parents to prepare a meal in a fraction of the time than it would take to make from scratch. The novelty was not lost on working parents, however a great deal of the nutrition was. These processed foods had to be modified to lessen cooking time. Additives like preservatives and artificial flavorings were also incorporated to lengthen shelf life and add flavor.
The 80’s and 90’s gave us some bizarre combinations by adding artificial colors or funny shapes to food. If you’ve ever had Smurf Berry Crunch to start your day you know what I’m talking about. The concept was to appeal to children. It was completely unnecessary and not very healthy. Processed foods and junk food are not a thing of the past as it’s still very prevalent today, but we have improved over the last decade.
We have healthier choices now that are easier to obtain and still add convenience. Most large retail stores now offer organic options with produce grown without pesticides and animal products raised without the use of growth hormones. You can find a growing number of non-genetically modified snacks made without artificial colors or preservatives.
Even the food guide pyramid has changed since I knew it as a kid. Child obesity rates reached an all-time high from what they were more than 40 years ago. It has raised awareness to some of the things we ate growing up that may have contributed to obesity and poor health. The push for healthier food choices has made waves over the past decade.
There are now more allergen-friendly food choices for parents of kids with food allergies or digestive sensitivities as well. If you had a serious food allergy growing up you would probably have a very restrictive diet to avoid it. Now, children with certain food allergies can still enjoy some of the same foods as everybody else with alternative options.
How parents celebrate their children’s birthdays has changed considerably from the time I was a kid. In some cultures, it’s not out of the ordinary to go over the top. In fact, it has been the tradition in many cultures to throw an extravagant party or celebration for certain milestones. For the typical average American, however, birthday parties were not nearly the big ordeal they are now.
When I was a kid having a birthday party typically meant inviting the kids in my neighborhood and close friends. We may have had party hats, streamers and character or themed place settings. The decorations were simple and minimal. Birthday party venues at the time consisted of McDonald’s or a popular pizza chain. Even this was generally just for special milestones.
Parents today have elevated children’s birthdays into carefully detailed affairs and not just for special milestones. Kids’ parties for any year now involve elaborate themes, custom-made invitations, intricate decorations and that’s just the start! Party foods have also expanded from the chips and pizza or backyard bbq to full out buffets of finger foods. Entertainment at a party in my childhood typically consisted of games like pin the tail on the donkey. Now? Parents will generally seek to rent or hire out services to provide entertainment for parties. That is, if they aren’t shelling out a small fortune to host the party at one of the hundreds of venue options we now have.
How Has Technology Changed Parenting
Technology has had some major breakthroughs over the years. For parents these have provided convenience in how we run a home. I remember when the Swiffer sweeper was first introduced and how amazing it was as a kid that frequently had chores around the house. Now we have robotic vacuums that can sweep, vacuum, and even mop the floors while we sleep! Advancements in home appliances have also simplified cleaning and cooking for modern day parents.
Instant Access to Information
Technology has also put the power of information into parents’ hands on practically anything. This has its pros and cons. On one hand, you can easily access information and get tips or advice on any possible topic you can think of. Your child has gum in their hair? You can find tips for that before resorting to the scissors. If you need a last minute idea to help your child with a school project Pinterest can be your best friend.
If you need a quick and easy recipe for dinner you can turn to the Internet. Helpful apps and smartphones have provided innovation in so many ways. Keeping things organized like shopping lists or doctor’s appointments can be done from your phone rather than writing it down on a piece of paper and hope you don’t lose it.
Even saving money has changed significantly from the way my parents did it years ago. Clipping coupons meant waiting for the weekly paper to see what’s on sale and cutting out coupons. I know many groups and communities where moms still do this but now you can digitally clip coupons right onto your smartphone. Many grocery stores now offer apps for your smartphone allowing you to compare prices. Some even have options to choose grocery pickup or home delivery! Online shopping and grocery pickups have helped reduce the number of toddler tantrums in public for many parents, myself included.
The negative aspect to having access to so many resources is the misuse of information in place of actual professional advice. This can be especially dangerous when it comes to health matters. If it’s a health concern, regardless of how minor or insignificant it may seem, your best practice is to see your medical provider. They are trained to determine the severity of an ailment. Something that might seem mild to you could be a sign of something more serious.
Let’s be clear on one thing here- when it comes to anything concerning your child’s health or your own DO NOT let the Internet replace your doctor. Getting opinions and advice from others you trust is fine, but it should not ultimately determine seeking medical advice from a professional. Modern technology has made this a little easier now with many doctors becoming available for over the phone consultations with parents. This can help put a new parent at ease with common newborn questions they don’t want to constantly run to the doctor’s office for. There are also 24-hour hotlines available by some providers or hospitals that might help in reducing the number of unnecessary ER visits. In any case, it’s always best to err on the side of caution.
The pressures moms face today are much different than what they were for parents before technology. We now have so many options our parents didn’t have but this can have its downside too. Many of the options moms have today come down to a matter of preference – although not in every circumstance. The multitude of choices parents now have regardless of their reasons have also opened the floodgates for unsolicited opinions. Even before the baby is born parents have become subjected to criticism by someone who thinks they know best. This isn’t new as I’m sure our parents were met with criticism on certain things. It has become much more prevalent in today’s society.
Social media has made it possible for moms to connect with other moms outside of playgroups and school functions. This has its pros and cons and it’s a really fine line between the two. On one hand you now have access to countless online communities. This enables moms with very specific needs to find other fellow moms they can relate to and turn for support and advice. There are mom groups for breastfeeding support, natural parenting, parents of children with special needs and so much more.
The ugly side of social media is bullying. All too often you see comments and remarks towards parents that are highly judgemental. Social media has proven its effect on empathy for others as we see the keyboard warriors going off at others without regard to how it might make someone feel. You’re a bad mom if you give your baby formula or you get dirty looks for choosing to breastfeed in public. You’re a bad mom if you let your child watch TV or you’re a helicopter mom for closely monitoring your child’s activities. Do any of these sound familiar?
Being a mom is hard enough without the added pressure from society on the choices you make. Mom shaming or bullying has become a real problem that needs to be addressed. Many women are already going through difficult circumstances from infertility, miscarriage, postpartum depression, abuse, and so much more. The shame that can accompany these issues does not need to be met with scrutiny from others’ opinions.
Never, and I repeat NEVER, allow another person’s negative opinion on your situation or how you choose to parent take residence in your mind for any length of time. Moms need support for one another. Dads need support, too! Parents need support for one another and we need to be better in how we choose our words. You can disagree with someone’s choices in a respectful way without condemning them for it. Technology has provided many helpful resources and outlets for parents, but not everyone is granted the same opportunities as others.
More Income Opportunities
Modern technology has provided countless opportunities for individuals to build careers that just weren’t possible a few decades ago. Going back to school, for instance, wasn’t much of an option for new parents as it is now. Thanks to online courses many moms are able to continue education in fields they wish to seek careers in.
This has also allowed moms the opportunity to continue working while still being home with their families. Many services that once required a person’s presence in an office or building can now be done from home. Positions in areas such as document transcription, billing, travel agent, and even teaching are just a few examples. There is also a new avenue for moms in network marketing industries that has changed the way your mom may have done them.
I can recall my mom working with these companies in addition to her day job where she’d carry household cleaning products to sell to customers. There was another company she also worked with selling cosmetics. Your mom or even your grandmother may have also been a part of a similar-type company that required hosting parties in their home to display and talk about products. They had to carry products on hand, invite people over, and have marketing tools such as catalogs to let people know about the products they were selling. It required an investment upfront, space to hold your inventory and a great deal of time. You also had to know a lot of people to make it.
Network marketing today has changed so much since then. Rather than keeping inventory many companies provide resources for their consultants to work entirely online. Instead of bulky catalogs you have to carry around everywhere many companies now provide a custom website for you to market through. Networking as we know it today has also provided an opportunity for moms to meet new people and build relationships with other moms. It’s a flexible way to work around your current schedule and also provide an opportunity for your family.
How Technology Affects Children
The technology of the 21st century has its benefits as well as negative effects on children’s development. For children with developmental disorders or disabilities there are far more opportunities to help improve their way of life with more resources available. Awareness has also provided greater acceptance and accommodations that children didn’t have 50 years ago. There have also been benefits in how children learn through technology in the classroom. It has provided teachers and educators with access to tools to create different ways of learning.
Technology has also had its negative effects on children directed towards their health and safety. Children 20 years ago were far more active than they are today. That’s because they had to rely on imagination and creativity to entertain themselves and often spent hours outdoors. We had a TV when I was growing up and we even had a Nintendo, but we still spent more time actively playing and family time than most children do now. The very technology that has made lives for parents easier and more efficient has also taken away some of the core family values we grew up on as kids.
There are differences in professional opinions on how much screen time is acceptable for children based on age. Most agree that screen time from any form of media should be limited to no more than 2 hours per day. Yet, the vast majority of children exceed that recommendation. The effects this has on children is hindering their creativity, social skills, and also impacts their behavior. Children that are glued to the TV or an electronic device for hours a day have increasingly shorter attention spans and at greater risk of mental health conditions.
Children are also at greater risk to certain dangers that technology has introduced. Cyber bullying, online child predators and access to adult content are just some of the critical factors affecting the safety and wellbeing of our children. It is a critical time for parents to be aware and monitor their children’s activities online.
Qualities of a Good Parent
As a mother I often feel insufficient in how I’m raising my kids. I wake up with high hopes to be better than I was the day before. As the day progresses after the morning rush of getting ready for school into homework hell by the time evening falls I feel defeated. At some point we all question if we are really being good parents. Don’t sell yourself short. The truth is you’re probably doing much better than you think you are.
Moms oftentimes beat themselves up out of guilt thinking they’re not good enough. Why? They see the seemingly perfect life of another mom on social media. The truth is you’re only seeing what others want you to see. Being a mom is hard in a society that is so plugged in to social media and focused on what the next person is doing. Social media paints a pretty picture of what parenthood is ‘supposed’ to look like, but it’s false. Behind the scenes of those idealistic photos you can’t see the struggles that may have taken place prior or after the photo was taken. The first and most important quality of a parent is love. The love you have for the children you are raising will make all of the following qualities fall into place.
First and one of the hardest qualities of being a good parent is having patience. Children will often test your patience on a daily basis, such as calling out your name a trillion times a day. I have always thought of myself as a patient person. I seldom get road rage and I have never lost my cool waiting endlessly in a doctor’s office or in line at a grocery store. That sentiment that I was a patient person changed when I had kids. It’s not always easy but parenting does require some level of patience. It’s completely normal to lose it a time or too because children will try you and push you to your limit. It’s important to keep in mind that they’re also little sponges. Your level headedness and patience with them can also help them to imitate the same behavior and mannerisms when things fall out of place.
This quality is equally important as the first. If you want your child to grow up to be kind to others and treat others with kindness you must instill it yourself. Sometimes children can act like brats. Yes, I said it. Toddlers are notorious for being ruthless, but having a parent that can react with kindness in most situations will benefit them to become kinder in the future. It may not be immediate and it will take time.
Practice kindness everyday in how you speak to them and how you speak to others. Trust me, this will be to your benefit too. It’s not always rewarding but you might find you have a more positive attitude when you exude kindness everyday with those around you. Even people in professions working with children such as teachers, daycare providers, and doctors should exhibit kindness in how they react and talk to children and parents alike. It costs nothing to be kind to another person and children are no different.
One thing you might have learned even prior to becoming a parent upon interacting with a child is they have no filter. Every kid will say or do things that are rude or downright disrespectful at some point. Then there are times when certain things they will do really put you over the top – like say break or ruin something really valuable. Forgiveness is really important here. You might need to take a moment to recollect yourself and take some deep breaths. Children at any age require our forgiveness for those moments when they do the unforgivable.
This can be even more challenging when they say these 3 words that break every parent ‘I hate you’. They know these words will inflict hurt and cause a reaction in an attempt to get what they want. Children can not comprehend the impact these words actually have on a parent. When your child has an outburst like this try and take a breather. It’s most likely out of anger or frustration and not a reflection of how they really feel towards you. Consider what it is they need whether it’s your attention, support, or following up on a disciplinary action that was warranted. Try to meet them with forgiveness and understanding rather than anger.
Being a mom is hard because it requires the ability to put another being’s needs ahead of your own. As parents there are times when being selfless is required and this isn’t always easy. You might have to postpone or cancel plans you had in order to accommodate their needs. There may be things you will have to give up that you once enjoyed. Making tough decisions to your child’s benefit over yours is all part of it.
Children need structure in their lives and this can only come from a leader. You are your child’s first teacher in life. Effective parenting requires leadership to make solid decisions. You must set ground rules for your home as well as outside of your home and be able to enforce them. As an effective leader for your child you should also strive to lead by example. If you want them to listen, be a good listener. To a child everything they have to say is important, even the small stuff.
If you are doing these following things, you are a good parent. If you are doing even some of the things but not all the time, you’re still a good parent. Don’t sweat the small things. Parents are humans too and no one is perfect. There are times when you can’t be in control of everything and that’s ok. Being able to follow these practices most of the time and accept yourself as a good parent is equally important. No two parents are exactly alike and the same goes for children. Try not to compare yourself or your child to anyone else.
There are many life hacks for various situations to help make things a little easier. You can find a broad range of hacks for parents on the web, but they may not always offer the best practice. There’s no question that being a mom is hard so we’ve provided some SAFE parenting hacks you can use to help make things a little simpler.
Make a medicine Chart
When your little one is under the weather or requires medication it’s never any fun. One very important factor is ensuring proper dosage. Keep a chart on the refrigerator provided by your doctor or pharmacist on dosage recommendations for common over the counter medications. When they’re sick or require a medication schedule at intervals make a daily chart you can keep track of times and days meds were given. This will help eliminate confusion and the risk of multiple dosages. When you’re half asleep and your child requires medication in the middle of the night, it can be difficult to recall whether you gave it or not and what time. The same goes for a two-parent household where your partner may be responsible for administering medication. Mark it down every time meds are given.
Make a Nighttime Feeding Caddy
Those late night feedings can be harrowing on a new mom. When you’re groggy and half asleep measuring out water and formula can be cumbersome, not to mention time consuming for a demanding newborn. Prepare bottles ahead of time with pre-measured water needed for each feeding. Use a formula container for on-the-go with pre-measured out formula for each feeding. Keep bottles and formula in a caddy or basket nearby. When your baby wakes up hungry you can easily grab a bottle, add formula, mix it together and feed your baby.
Clipping Nails without Stress
One of the scariest tasks for new parents, yet necessary, is clipping their newborn’s nails. Babies are squirmers and one wrong move could have a painful result. Use a distraction method to keep their attention away from what’s happening. For younger babies, feeding time is a great time to get in a quick manicure session. If you need assistance, ask for help from a partner. If this doesn’t work for you, try to do it when they’re asleep. This can be done with toddlers as well if they’re hard sleepers. For older babies and toddlers use a toy as a distraction while you work. If scissors or nail clippers are a bit too intimidating you can simply file your baby’s nails instead.
Use a Laundry Basket as a Bath Seat
When your baby outgrows their infant tub they may still be a little too small for the big tub. A slippery baby in a large tub can become troublesome. Baby bath seats used to be marketed for this but many were recalled due to a risk of babies tipping over in them. While bath seats have undergone improved designs and are still available a cheaper and still effective solution is a laundry basket. A laundry basket can help keep your baby safely contained and their bath toys easily in reach. It’s also much easier to clean than a bath seat composed of multiple parts where water can get into and sit awhile. As an added measure for safety use a non-slip grip on the bottom of the tub to minimize the basket from sliding around. This will also serve as a protective measure when they’re older to prevent slips. Bear in mind this hack is to serve as an easier way to handle your baby while bathing. NEVER, under any circumstance, leave your baby unattended in the tub.
Potty training a toddler is not always practical. For long car rides or trips away from home keep a training potty in the car along with a few spare diapers, plastic bags for disposal and a pack of wipes. Place a diaper inside the potty for a makeshift portable potty with less mess when nature calls for your toddler.
Pool Noodle Bed Rail
When your toddler is ready for a big bed you may be concerned about them falling out. If your heavy sleeper tends to move around or roll about in their sleep a simple pool noodle can be used as a barrier. Place a pool noodle underneath the fitted sheet of your child’s bed. It’s cheaper and much easier than trying to install a bed rail.
Things Your Mom Never Told You
As prepared as I thought I was about becoming a parent there are some things the parenting books don’t tell you. A few words of wisdom I wish my mom could have passed down to me beforehand might have helped.
You physically are not the same person you were before having a baby. As you experience hormonal and physical changes throughout pregnancy and afterwards things about your body just aren’t the same. Your body has to accommodate a small human being. This means your hips have to expand to make room. Don’t be discouraged if your pre-baby jeans don’t fit the same even after you’ve lost all the baby weight. Other surprising changes some may experience is their taste in foods. There were things I could never stand to eat before having a baby that I suddenly loved even long after the pregnancy cravings.
Not everyone will love your baby. I know this might be hard to believe because as parents we love our children unconditionally. They are your whole world and it’s completely acceptable to see your child as the cutest, smartest, funniest being on the planet. The reality is there will be people your child may come to meet who just aren’t fond of them. It’s not you, it’s them. No, really! It happens and not directly as a reflection of your parenting. The important thing to take away from this is to reassure your child how amazing they are.
You never stop worrying about your children. I think we had this magic number in our heads that when our children grew up to be adults our role as parents was complete. The notion that we would no longer have to worry about our kids was just plain laughable. It doesn’t matter what age they are; as a parent you will always worry about your child. You worry for different reasons, but what remains the same is always wanting to be there for them.
If you’re still wondering if you’re a good mom, let me lay it out for you. If you are questioning your skills as a mother and fear you are failing you’re wrong. There’s a high chance you’re doing it right because you clearly care and love them. If you didn’t you wouldn’t be questioning yourself as a mother.
The best way to sum up motherhood is as a piece of cake. It’s a piece of cake made with eggs (messy) some form of fat (guilt) flour (heavy) sugar (moments of sweetness) a filling (love and all things comforting and meaningful) and a frosting so sweet it will make your teeth rot (the good, the bad, and the ugly). You might feel bad about eating the cake. It makes you feel good and brings comfort when you eat it. Sometimes it crumbles during the process. Sure, you may have regrets afterwards when the calories hit your thighs. Then you have the plate and fork to clean up because life gets messy. There is no doubt that being a mom is hard. You will face many ups and downs throughout your motherhood journey. One thing you can count on is that motherhood will change you in so many wonderful and unexpected ways.