Depressing Parenting Advice From A Mom Of Four

Depressing Parenting Advice From A Mom of Four

Depressing Parenting Advice From A Mom Of Four

In my heart I know to never give parenting advice, depressing or otherwise, because this is a sure fire way to ensure that my own children will act like possessed heathens for the next six months. But here I go. What have I got to lose? Nobody around here listens to me anyway.

So just because I love you- some depressing parenting advice from a mom of four.

-Just admit now that you aren't that good at this-

This sounds harsh, but let me explain. There are parenting things that are hard for all of us. There are also things that you will be really good at as a mom. Maybe you rock at breastfeeding or not yelling or understanding teenagers or enjoying a toddler. This is awesome. Enjoy those moments when you rock at parenting.

Go you.

And I mean that.

But there are things that you will suck at. Maybe it will be breastfeeding or yelling all the time or understanding teenagers or enjoying a toddler. It's cool that you aren't good at those things. They are hard and nobody is good at everything. Stop beating yourself up. 

Deep breath. In. Out.

Doesn't it feel good to just let go of the fact that you struggle with some aspects of parenting? Admitting you aren't good at every piece of the parenting puzzle is really very freeing and helps you love yourself more. Work on the stuff you have a hard time with, then forgive yourself. Yes, yourself.

-Find joy in the fact that everyone else also sucks at parenting-

This sounds judgmental, and being judgmental is a big no-no these days. Do it anyway.

The reason I know other people suck at parenting is that I suck at it and screw up every day and I am sure that other people have the same problem. In fact, from watching them it is pretty obvious that they make mistakes. It is easy for me to see the mistakes of others- I bet it is easy for you too! 
The bad news is this: we are all messing up our kids in our own unique (yet invisible to us) way.
The good news is this: we are all in the same boat. 

Keep paddling sucker.

-Read murder mysteries every day-

OK, you don't actually need to be a die hard Jo Nesbo fan, such as myself. But you do need to do something every day that you love. Even if it is for five minutes of special time. I really hate it when moms talk about how they have no time to exercise or see friends or do anything they enjoy while they drown in a pool of vomit, laundry, work, and giving. 

Not cool. 

Mothering is a marathon and you can't finish without fuel. It is really a good thing that being a mom teaches us to focus outside of ourselves and give and give and give. This is a beautiful, transformative process that we all have the pleasure and pain of experiencing. 

It is also hard to keep giving if you have just taken the speed train to crazy town because you hate the life you are living because your children have beaten all the fun out of it.

So go get a pedicure (I would never do that because it is a wacko Western custom where a stranger touches your feet, but if you are into it you should go for it. I won't think you are strange. And if I do I won't say it to your face.) or read your favorite book or take a walk. Just do it.

-Use less words-

If you can say something with one word, don't use 10. For example.
Replace, "Honey, could you close the door behind you when you come in?"

With this: "Door."

This is some of the best advice I ever heard from a kindergarten teacher. We are a verbal culture and so we tend to overdo it with words, even with little humans who can hardly talk at all. Less is more. It is more clear, more understandable, and easier to follow one word than a dozen. 

Become the Elmore Leonard of parenting and stop overdoing everything with flowery descriptions of the weather. Leonard said, "Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip." Parents should try to leave out the stuff that kids tend to ignore.

-Take a shower-

For heaven's sake, don't be a martyr. Don't stop bathing and blame your kids for it. Your baby, yes, even a new one, will not be harmed for life if you take a five minute shower every day. Your toddler MAY use a Sharpie on the wall, but you should still take a shower. (Just get rid of the indelible markers. They are dead to you now anyway. No good can come of them.) 

I'm not saying you stink. And, if you really just don't care about bathing, that is fine too. But if you like to take a shower, then TAKE A SHOWER. Four kids, ten years, I could count on one hand the number of times I have skipped my basic personal and daily shower ritual. And those times involved me being so vomitous that I could hardly stand. 

Taking time for a shower does not make you a selfish person.

-Never take parenting advice from someone on the internet-

Yeah, I know how dumb this sounds in a post about parenting advice. Don't do it anyway. (Or do...this is getting confusing.)

I refuse to take parenting advice from two types of people-
1) People who have less kids than me. Don't bother. I am rolling my eyes. Especially if your kids are younger. (Yes, I just admitted this. Compose your hate mail NOW.)
2) People who I have never met.  

The thing about people on the internet is that they can present their life any which way they like. They can take pictures at a made up house in a made up world with nice filters and lovely descriptions. But some kids who look great on camera are actually really awful brats whose parents you would never want to emulate and some people who sound good online are actually total morons who couldn't have a functional relationship if they tried. 

So don't take advice from them. People lie about their kids or are blissfully unaware of the reality of their own spawn. Close the computer. You are better off reading a murder mystery than advice from someone describing their perfect kids and parenting techniques that "always" work.

Spoiler alert- there is NO SUCH THING as parenting advice that always works. It never happened. And if it did it would be riding a unicorn over a rainbow to catch a fairy princess holding a pile of warm gold. Even the stuff that does work will eventually stop working because that was just a stage. Everything in parenting is just a stage. This ensures that once you get good at it, it changes.

By the way- if someone speaks in absolutes or gives advice in catchy, clickable quotes, they are probably full of it. Parenting is many things, but it is not easy, quick, or something that can be "hacked."

That's it. Enjoy my depressing advice on parenting. 

Or maybe you should ignore it.


Teresa said…
I am a mom of four. I love this. Thank you.
Renate said…
You know what, as a mother of four girls, I agree with you!
I took showers every day even when my husband was at work. I put the baby in the bouncer seat if she was awake & talked to her while I showered. When she was too big for the bouncer, I let her sit in the crib with toys & books. I always took the babies with me whatever errand I had to run; I breastfed in public & changed diapers wherever there was a flat spot & a sink nearby (just not a bathroom floor).
They're much older now and we yell at each other a lot, often for stupid things. There's still laundry everywhere because it's never-ending & multiplies at night when I'm not looking.
I still suck at housework but so does everyone else in the house; I refuse to spend all my free time on it when I have a job, too.
The youngest is about to start Kindergarten & I'm looking forward to FINALLY being alone. Although I will be kinda lonely.
Unknown said…
Just don't do it! One is enough for me. Luckliy I was able to stop smoking before having my baby. Marlboro e liquid helped me quit.
Unknown said…
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