Feeling frustrated with parenthood? Accept your current moment as the most important and be where you need to be. This mindset will change your outlook.
Babies, toddlers and even older kids don’t follow our schedule.
As babies, my kids woke up many times a night, sometimes a half hour after I’d just put them down. They nursed just as often, leaving me rooted to the couch or bed with not much else to do.
Growing up isn’t much help, either. As toddlers, they insisted on collecting every leaf around the block. Once back home, they’d explode in a tantrum because I told them they couldn’t stay outside all day.
Even my six-year-old learning to tie his shoes on himself takes 10 minutes to do so. Ten minutes I don’t exactly have.
Once our kids are born, we’re forced to abandon all we’ve known about our old lifestyle. It’s not just big things like our social life or careers. Even little things like sipping a cup of tea as slowly as we want. Staying up at 11pm to watch a late night show. (Read about the real reasons motherhood is hard.)
Things we took for granted before kids.
When you feel frustrated with parenthood
Having kids, no matter their age, forces me to slow down whether I want to or not. I’ve spent long hours added up nursing, rocking or tending to all three as babies. I can’t just buckle myself in the car and speed off—I have to strap them in and load their gear as well.
It’s not the pace we’re used to. We’re not “productive.” And it’s easy to get frustrated or hurry things along, thinking about all the other things we could be doing.
But what if, instead, we learn to accept this moment as the most important?
Instead of thinking about all the other things we have to do, we can focus on this moment only. Set aside all the schedules and plans and simply be where we are.
So yes, the baby has been nursing for 45 minutes when it usually takes her 20. But accept those extra minutes as where you need to be, not a hassle keeping you from something else.
Inspecting every leaf with your toddler has extended your play time. But maybe for today, play time can be longer than usual.
And cooking dinner while your five-year-old chatters with stories galore isn’t quick or easy, but it’s where you both are at the moment. Simply be where your kids are calling you to be.
Fighting the moment makes you feel like you’re always rushing, whether to some place or stage. The next time you feel rushed, ask yourself the harm in letting go of the pressure to be on time. You might realize being late isn’t even that big of a deal.
Fighting the moment also means you’re more likely to feel frustrated. Tell yourself you don’t need to wash the dishes because the baby needs comfort right now. Give yourself permission to be there for your child, and not succumb to a schedule or list of tasks.
When you’re not present, you’re always looking for the next milestone or stage as the answer. As a first-time mom I’d think myself, If only he can walk, then that will make my life easier. Or I can’t wait until he can drink milk so I don’t have to nurse as often.
To be fully present, we need to put other demands on hold, if possible. Ask yourself whether what you’re doing right now can wait so you can be there for your child, even through difficult moments.
What really matters in parenthood
“I don’t want to do anything,” my eldest whined. Meanwhile, I was trying to clip his brother’s fingernails (“Come on, just sit still!”) while his twin clung to me unwilling to let go. It was a “meh” day: The annoyances weren’t a huge deal, but they were enough to get irritated, to lose hindsight.
That same night, I hopped onto my computer and caught up with the latest articles from my friend, Oana. Her four-month-old son had been struggling with reflux symptoms and general restlessness.
Or so I thought.
Because as the articles in her blog progressed, she described what she thought was reflux, to complicated hospital stays, to her finally saying goodbye to her son—in a span of a few weeks.
Just like that.
Her son had terminal cancer. My heart crumbled, and while I’ve never met Oana in person (we don’t live near each other), she and I started blogging at the same time. Our kids are around the same ages. We’ve been reading each other’s blogs for years. To read about her son’s passing seemed surreal. It didn’t seem fair.
I don’t go around finding tragedies to boost my own gratitude. I also won’t stop venting—yes, even for mundane things like clipping nails and clingy toddlers—because someone else has it worse than me.
But it does put things in perspective and reminds you what really matters. Realizing how fickle life can be helps you step back, be aware, and let those petty things slide.
Because, what really matters in parenthood?
Your kids matter. Connecting with them. More than losing our tempers over a meal half-eaten. More than the tips and tricks on making parenting easier, the developmental milestones, working mom guilt, or time management tips.
Really be there for your kids, through tantrums and happy moments. Hold them when they’re ecstatic and when they’re upset. Don’t blame having kids or motherhood for yet another hectic day. It’s not their fault. Choose to stop power struggles and instead show empathy. Let it go.
And appreciate what you have. On those days when your kids irritate you and you just can’t wait until bedtime already… hang in there.
Because someone else would trade places with you in a heartbeat.
I won’t even try to understand what Oana is going through, but I’m reminded once again, in a painful way, to keep the bigger picture in mind.
Above the activities and crafts we plan for our kids or what we should offer at dinner and whether it’s healthy or not. Even above how to discipline or follow through with consequences.
Yes, on a daily basis, doing these things matters, but not as much as whom we’re doing them for.
We discover how awesome being in the moment can be. How much we take for granted or overlook in our busy lives. Parenthood forces us to be still and slow down, and we see how much more pleasant it is when we can be where we need to be.
Get more tips on parenthood:
- On Accepting Your Children for Who They Are
- The Working Mom Pep Talk: What Do You Tell Yourself to Keep Going?
- How to Get Things Done with a Baby
- How to Practice Mindful Parenting
- 15 Principles on Effective Parenting
Tell me in the comments: When have you felt frustrated with parenthood? What helps you slow down and be in the moment?
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