It’s Okay To Panic And Other Things I Learned About Being A Parent Last Year

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143922939I never know if I’m doing anything right when it comes to parenting; there’s so much advice out there. I’ve managed to keep two children alive – one for three years and counting and the other for seven months today. Obviously, I’m a stellar parent. I’m looking at them both right now and they are breathing. Success!

Occasionally I am a less-than-confident parent, and because of that, It’s been a bumpy road. Here are some lessons I’ve learned from doubting myself in 2013. Maybe they’ll help you if you hit a similar bump in the road.

1. Feed them whatever they’ll eat.

If I could count all the times I prepared full meals only to throw them out and prepare another – I would probably cry. This year, I ran into the trap of believing my newly finicky toddler would eat, if only I prepared him the right thing. Ha.

If you can get a toddler to chew and swallow something, it’s a success. Don’t drive yourself crazy trying to get them to shove balanced meals down their gullet three times a day – it’s probably not going to happen.

2. They’ll need to go to the bathroom. Facilitate that without driving yourself crazy.

My toddler is finally potty trained. He’s also a nudist. Whenever he realizes he needs to use the potty, he removes his pants and underwear, leaves them where he stands, and finds a bathroom. Potty training is sometimes an ongoing lesson.

I let myself fall into the trap of thinking I was failing because he wasn’t trained in three days. He’s getting there. I’m okay with that.

3. It’s okay to panic.

I thought by kid number two I would be a Zen-like parenting guru. Not so much. I still panic every time something weird and inexplicable happens. I took my 6-month-old to the doctor convinced that she was having trouble breathing. She was making the weirdest sounds, almost like she was gasping for air. It turns out – those are the sounds she makes when she’s straining to take a poop. I had just introduced formula.

Okay, so she could breath. It was a useless trip. So what? Go to the doctor whenever you need to. It’s your kid. It’s okay to panic.

4. Keep a stock of Band Aids in the house.

Your child will be cutting himself occasionally. Don’t be the parent who doesn’t own a Band-Aid, like I was.

5. Don’t freak out about TV watching.

My child is watching Blues Clues as I write this. I’m okay with that. I watched TV as a child, and I consider myself to be a semi-functioning member of society. It will be okay.

6. Don’t believe the hype.

Everyone has shit-show parenting moments. No one is perfect – and if they are, so what? Good for them. Just don’t let anyone guilt you into feeling like you are doing anything wrong when you know you are doing your best. Your best might be McDonalds one day. Or a movie marathon for your toddler the next. Do you love your child? Do you pay attention to your child? Do you truly wish the best for your child? Then you are a good parent. The end.

(photo: Getty Images)