The cool thing about the mom job is that we are our own bosses. We can do it however we think is best for our kids no matter what anyone else says about it.
But I thank God for every mom in my life who has actively played a role in shaping me into the mother I am today. The more I learn about being a parent, the more I wonder how I ever got through my first year without everything I know now.
Here are the things I wish I would have been told five years ago.
1. Let go of the idea that playing with Legos is going to be fun. You are not 5. It's not going to bring you the same enjoyment as your favorite show or favorite book would. You aren't playing with Legos to have a good time, you are playing with them so that your child has a good time.
2. Do something active with your kids everyday. They might have you believing they would rather watch TV or play on the iPad, but start wrestling with one of their siblings and my guess is they'll turn the TV off and run over and jump in on the wrestle match. It can be anything, just pick something active you guys can do every day. You won't ever look back on your life and say, "'Man, I wish I wouldn't have wrestled with my kids."
3. Stop feeling like you aren't doing a good enough job. Just the fact that you feel like you could be doing better makes you a really good mom. We've all lost our patience, we've all picked chores over the kids, we've all rushed them out the door a little too quickly, we've all forgotten at some point or another to embrace the moments we will never get back. Give yourself credit where credit is due, you are killing it!
4. Give yourself guilt-free breaks without the kids. This is a big one. My oldest son is 5 years old and the first two years of his life he left my side maybe twice. I had no desire to leave him, so I didn't. When my second son was born, I also rarely ever left them, but secretly day dreamed a family member would come pick them up for an entire day just so I could sleep. One of the greatest things I do for myself now is give myself "mommy breaks". It makes me better at a job that allows no sick days off, no vacation time, and isn't afraid to ask you to work a shift at 2 a.m. knowing full well your next shift starts at 6 a.m. Give yourself a break from them to be an adult. They will be safe without you for a little bit and you and your children will both thank you for it.
5. Make it personal. Some of my boys' favorite games are ones we made up. A few weeks ago, I wrote down our top 10 favorite things to play together in the house, and put the list on the fridge. At any point during the day, they can go pick something on the list to do with me. Your kids want to play with you and if you can't come up with something, Pinterest has a million ideas, as does Google.
6. Learn your child's love language. One of the greatest books I have ever read is "The Five Love Languages of Children" ($12 on Amazon). Every single person in the world feels love differently. My 5-year-old feels love through quality time while my youngest feels love through physical touch. One child may prefer to be told how great they are doing in school, while another may prefer to go pick out a toy because of the A they got on a test. Figure out exactly what fills their love tank, and cater to their love language personally.
Have conversations that matter. Ask them how their heart is, in a way they will understand. l asked my 5-year-old months ago to tell me if I was on my phone too much, knowing full well, he would say yes. He knows he is allowed to ask for my undivided attention (phone-free) because I made a point to have that conversation with him.
We live in a society where phones are always the center of everything, including our kids quality time with us. Just like you wouldn't want your spouse sitting on their phone during a date night, your child doesn't want you sitting on your phone while they are playing with you. Allow them to hold you accountable.
7. Most importantly, don't take this time for granted. Last week Manning (my 2 year old) had an eye appointment for this weird seizure like thing his eyes have been doing for about a year now. They referred him to a neurologist for a CT scan where his brain and stomach will be checked for a tumor. While I'm praying for the best, the moment I heard the word tumor I couldn't help but look at him like my time with him could be cut short. This week has gone a little differently. I've looked at him longer, hugged him tighter, and truly been present in each moment with him.
Wake up calls can be scary, but also a real reminder that this time we have with our kids is a gift, and can be taken in an instant.