10 Things I’ve Learned From My Parenting “Mistakes”

This is a guest post by Ivana Davies from Find Your Mom Tribe

If there is one thing that parenting points out to you, it’s your own inadequacies and shortcomings. I started on this road of parenthood, overjoyed and expectant, vowing to be the best mother that I could possibly be. I was going to serve all organic, vegan, non-GMO, restaurant-quality food. I was going to make my own soap. I was going to have the energy to play with my kids anytime of day, anytime of night. I was going to remain patient and steadfast in my discipline. I had dreams of writing books to inspire other parents to be their personal best, and I was determined to prove that having it all was possible.

Then reality hit. Dirty diapers, half-empty bottles of rancid formula, soiled clothes, crumbs everywhere, and my struggle with post partum depression were staring me in the face as I attempted to bridge the gap between daily life with my little loves and the unrealistic expectations I’d set for myself. Just when I thought I had a handle on things, life threw me another curveball, and I had to figure out how to deal with my own shortcomings and rise above them to be the best parent that I could be – at that time.

Let’s face it – we all make mistakes. We make mistakes in life, we make mistakes in parenting, and having a bit of compassion for ourselves as we move through the process and become more experienced is essential if we are going to give our kids the best. The key to surviving any parental mishap is how you own up to the mistake, and how you clean up after yourself. Not even parenting classes can prepare you for everything. You will make mistakes – it’s unavoidable. Your child did not come with an instruction manual, and you have to figure out what they need and what suits them best. Take these valuable nuggets that I’ve learned from my many mistakes, and maybe you’ll make a few less as you navigate these exciting waters with me. Jump in!

Lesson #1 – A little dirt is okay

Just make sure Junior isn’t taking handfuls of sand out of the sandbox. If your wayward toddler is exploring the kitchen floor and finds some Cheerios, don’t freak out. Think of it as an opportunity for them to build up their immune systems while enjoying a delicious snack. Make it a goal to intervene a little faster next time, and soon you’ll be beating them to the punch.

Lesson #2 – Let sleeping kids lie

I used to think that the only quality sleep that could be had by my children was in the crib surrounded by the best blankets, orthopedic structures, and stimulating mobiles. I was dead wrong. I soon learned that if my child fell asleep in the car seat while I was shopping for groceries, I should NOT disturb him upon arriving back home. I let him sleep to his heart’s content where he fell asleep, knowing that he was safe and comfortable. If only I could get in a good nap in any location…….sigh.

Lesson #3 – My kids WILL imitate me

Thoughts, actions, behaviors, words…..your little ones are like sponges. They will soak up what you do, and they will imitate you. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery; if there was ever a reason for raising the bar on your own language choice, behavior, and habits, it’s that. Think of what you want your kids to become, and what habits you would like them to form. They are watching you….so, model those behaviors, and you will soon see them performing them as well.

Lesson #4 – I need to relax when I hear curse words

Let’s face it – any kid in the public education system these days is FAR more knowledgeable than we were at their age. Think of the most vile string of curse words you could piece together, and they have probably not only heard it, but said it as well. If they let this stuff fly, don’t freak out. Calmly explain that there are other, more intelligent language choices that they can use to express themselves, and encourage them to see how creative they can get when it comes to expressing their emotions in healthy ways.

Lesson #5 – My kids will at some point be responsible for their own comfort

I can preach all I want about the dangers of frostbite and cold extremities, but when I drop them off at school, all bets are off. At some point, they will have to take matters into their own hands and protect themselves against the elements. If they are freezing because they forgot to put on a hat and gloves, so be it. Maybe next time they’ll remember. That won’t stop me from continuing to preach, though.

Lesson #6 – I will make mistakes when packing their lunches

There will inevitably be a mistake made when putting condiments on a sandwich. I might still be half asleep when I throw strawberries into a container, failing to see that one of them has begun to mold. Did I forget to pack your favorite kind of chips? Forgive me…..I was tending to the fifty other things you asked me to do this morning. It’s a wonder we can get out the door sometimes; there will be mistakes made, but when all is said and done, they are fed and clothed adequately about 97 percent of the time. Get over the other 3 percent, kiddos. Such is life. Love ya!

Lesson #7 – Kids will pit your partner against you

In houses that practice dual governance, you may be called upon to make disciplinary decisions that your partner might not agree with. Your kids know how to play this perfectly; take Halloween candy, for instance. If Mom says “no”, it is likely that Dad will say “yes” especially if he is engrossed on his computer. The more frequently you can talk to your partner about some non-negotiable rules for success, the less likely it is that your kids will try to put one over on you.

Lesson #8 – I wiped my kids way too late

My third grader is still asking me to come in and give her the once over after a messy bathroom episode. The truth is, most kids should be wiping themselves sufficiently by the time they are five or when they enter school. If we continue to perpetuate this, they will not gain the skills that they need to care for themselves, and infections are likely to develop as a result of improper wiping. Do a periodic check if you must, but insist that your kids start taking this over as soon as possible.

Lesson #9 – You will forget to do important things

With the sheer volume of information coming home from school, it is likely that you will miss important dates, important permission slips, and requests for money that impact your child. Teachers are forgiving, and your kids may not be. Do your best to keep up with this information coming home from school and coaches, and apologize for missing information. Forgive yourself, repair the situation, and move on. Life is too short to cry over spilled milk. 

Lesson #10 – You will lose your cool, you can count on it

Regardless of what kind of kind, patient person you normally are, parenting can sometimes stretch you to your very limits. You will be sleep-deprived, caffeine-deprived, and pulled to your wits end with the demands that our little ones make on our time, our bodies, and our souls. You will lose your cool with them, and you might even say and do things that you regret later. Be real, admit your mistakes, and repair the damage; no relationship is quite as important as that of parent and child. Commit to the process of seeing this through to adulthood (yours and theirs!), and there will be a richness of relationship that you can enjoy for years to come!

Author’s bio:

My name is Ivana Davies, and I’m an educator turned stay-at-home mom to a beautiful 7-year-old girl and a playful 5-year-old boy. Since I didn’t have a clue about raising kids, I had to learn it all the hard way. I managed to find so much information online, and that inspired me to turn to blogging to share my experiences and struggles as a mom. Being a mom is not easy. In fact, it can sometimes be pretty isolating. My blog, Find Your Mom Tribe, is here to help you connect with other moms, as well as to share mom hacks, information, and tools to help you on this parenting journey. You can catch up with us on Facebook and Pinterest.

You may also enjoy: Are Parents Setting Themselves Up to Fail?

About Lauren

Back to Blog