I’ve been a mom now for 21 years. I’ve done a lot of reflecting on some of the things I have learned over the years in raising 3 Boys. Not only have I raised 3 boys, but while being a stay at home mom I also worked part-time as a fitness instructor and eventually a Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach.
Let me preface by saying, Parenting is Hella Hard! Like the hardest thing I’ve ever done and probably will ever do in this lifetime! And…let me also say, I am in no way saying I am an expert in any of these things I am about to talk about, but instead being truly honest and REAL. So if you are looking for some scientific-based information on how to raise kids, start a small business and maintain your sanity, look elsewhere! If you get anything out of this, I hope that you realize that you too are doing a GREAT JOB and will survive!
How crazy is it that Parenting is one of the hardest jobs but has NO owners manual for those cute, little, slippery, squirmy babies that we welcome into the world. You learned on your own, what to do with that kid as soon as it came out of you (ok, well assuming you are a female reading this!), and most likely they are still kicking and thriving. See, you did that, you can do anything. I hope that by sharing some things I’ve learned by raising 3 kids, you will be like, phew, I’m doing ok, relate on some level, laugh at my terrible jokes, or actually feel better and supported as a parent, mom (or dad), of girls or boys. Let’s dive in!
- You are going to screw up. You are going to be like damn, I forgot to pick my kid up at parent pick up because I thought they were taking the bus home. It’s not the end of the world. I learned that for every “mistake” or screw up as a parent results in a HUGE life lesson! See…silver lining! And, let the Guilt go! We, especially moms (sorry guys), carry so much guilt over EVERYTHING. Have I taught them enough before sending them off to pre-school? I shouldn’t have spent $100 on a massage for myself even though my body is killing me. I should have a spotless house (that whole subject (cleaning) is for another blog post altogether!!), for my family etc. and so forth. Stop it. Do what YOU need too, not just your kids, your spouse, your family, etc. Taking care of yourself is more important than you think or realize (again, this subject is for another whole blog post too!). Do your best and forget the rest!
- Be willing to adjust your sails. Or said differently, be able to pivot when plan A doesn’t work out. Storms ( ie. kids covered in Mud in their best wedding duds when you are heading out the door late already to a wedding) happen and will catch you off guard and most likely piss you off. What has this done for me? After sooo many storms I have learned to quiet the anger, get over incidents or accidents quickly, and find meaning with what happened and why. Let’s be honest, it wasn’t always that easy, so don’t think, well isn’t she just Suzy Supermom. It has taken lots of self-talk, fretting, lost sleep, worrying, and self doubt to come to the realization that all that energy I spent worrying and doubting myself really actually didn’t help AT ALL, didn’t solve shit. Instead, I learned how to calmly work through things in my head and eventually I learned that I needed to “let shit go” that doesn’t serve me. To let things that don’t have life-altering outcomes be what they are and realize that they are WAY worse things to worry about in life. Luckily having boys has it’s advantages in that people aren’t surprised when you show up with 3 boys in dirty duds, it’s almost expected.
- Teach by doing. I learned early on that ordering or demanding kids to do things rarely is effective. I mean unless they have been bribed with ice cream or a new matchbox. It’s not reasonable your kid will learn how to do things, especially life skills, without learning by watching and doing. So here is a great example of teaching a life long skill that I didn’t realize at the time I was actually “teaching”. I have always been active, a Mtn Biker, runner (at one time), skier, hockey player, and an avid fitness freak. When my kids were babies I was really into running and I did that not only for my physical health but more so my mental health. I knew I could run out the door when my husband got home from work and squeak out a 30-minute run and feel a shit ton better. Then it was hockey, and mtn biking, etc and so forth as they got older. What I taught them was that I took time for my health. They didn’t realize it at the time, they just knew mom “needed” to go for a run, a bike ride or hit the basement for a sweat sesh, and then she’d be back happy and smiling (or with an injury…). I never forced sports down their throats or made them play or go for a bike ride. Tuns out they WANTED TO because they saw me and their dad doing activities/ sports. We also taught them and did things such as downhill skiing, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and mountain biking with them. But what’s so awesome about all those times, even the ones where we were schlepping 3 kids under the age 8 to the mountain carrying 3 pairs of skis, helmets, snacks, and ski poles falling everywhere, patiently waiting for them to walk up the long stairs with their ski boots on, just to ski for two hours before they had a meltdown, they still love to ski and snowboard. They have found life long activities that they participate in because it’s what they have been taught inadvertently. Teach by doing. Be active, be healthy not only for you but for your kids!
- This next one may surprise you given my profession, but seriously folks, if you learn anything from me, it’s that being realistic is where it’s at! DON’T BE A FOOD NAZI with your kiddos!! I have raised 3 boys that eat more than I can keep up with and they are all healthy weights and guess what? They grew up eating mac’n cheese from a box, ice cream, and Doritos. Now, let’s be clear, these things were obviously in moderation and they had them occasionally. But I know moms who are like, “oh Johny, you can’t have that Oreo, it has sugar in it and artificial flavor”. I may have just lost the trust of ya’ll but I live a very realistic existence, hopefully, you can relate, and if not, you aren’t my people! What I did do is teach them that these types of foods (Doritos, ice cream,etc..) were things we had “once and a while”, not every day. By not making them OFF LIMITS, it was no big deal to them. When kids are told they can’t ever have something, they want it bad and will most likely abuse it when they do get the opportunity to have it. Full disclosure, I will admit I have always been a nazi about soda though. That poison should be banned, end of story! Other than that, most things were allowed with the teachings that we can have this stuff but it’s not the best fuel for our bodies. Instead, meals were consistently served at our dinner table (when we weren’t at a baseball game, like all spring and summer for YEARS!), providing a protein, a healthy carbohydrate option, and ALWAYS, ALWAYS a VEGGIE. Those veggies didn’t always get eaten, thank you picky eater third child, but they were always on their plate and were asked to at least try it. Guess what, they all eat veggies now (some more than others), but still, they outgrow the picky eater stages most of the time if you don’t fall victim as a parent to providing them with what they will eat for fear they may starve to death (news flash…they won’t!). They still see certain foods as not healthy options and will choose to eat them on occasion, and that’s ok in my eyes. (NOTE: of course, if your child has been told they can’t have something due to allergies, or sugar intolerance etc, please head the professionals telling you to avoid certain foods by all means. ) We aren’t perfect creatures, don’t make your child out to be one either. Again teach by doing, if you are eating a bag of Doritos and slamming back 3 diet cokes every day they are going to think that is ok and eventually that will be the norm for them as well.
- Teach them to be GOOD HUMANS. Make eye contact with people, say hello, give a firm handshake, help others who may need it without being asked, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all, smile, be kind, and share. Just a few things I encouraged and taught my kids that left a lasting impression and felt good to do. I didn’t care if my kids made the honor roll, or were the best ballplayers, whatever, as long as they were kind. It was often the last thing I said to them, especially when they were in high school (I think I was too busy when they were younger making sure they had their lunches, that they were fully dressed and didn’t have food all over their faces), as they headed out the door. “Be a good human”. Make a difference in someone else’s life today. And WORK HARD. Because a good work ethic produces good humans, not lazy, irresponsible humans. My biggest pride as a parent, in regards to raising my children, is when someone says they think we did a good job parenting. And I always say, it wasn’t me, it’s them. They were the ones that just learned, by watching, listening, and, because I created opportunities for them to learn through my mistakes and screwups. I have always been honest with my kids, always tried to be REAL, so they too would have a very realistic way to approach life. I only encouraged them to work their hardest without me hounding them, be their kindest not because someone is telling them to but because it makes you feel good. They came to develop a great work ethic, pride in their work, and kind kids all on their own, thank god, they have turned out to be GOOD HUMANS.