5 Times When Parenting is Torture For Introverts

parenting for introverts

Growing up as an introvert, there were plenty of times I wished for a hole to open up in the floor for me to crawl into. My birthday? Sure, I liked a party, but having all my friends sing to me and watch me open presents was bordering on traumatic for me.

One of my earliest childhood memories involves being tortured by my own shyness. I was in preschool and a musician had come to visit our class. He sang a song that went around to each child making a rhyme with their name. As I realized that it would eventually come around to me, I waited in horror while counting the number of children I had before me. By the time he sang “willaby, wallaby Waitlin, and elephant sat on Caitlin”, I thought I would just about die from humiliation.

In school I hated any project I had to do that involved speaking in front of the class. I also hated group projects where the group members were assigned, forcing me to talk with people I didn’t know.

parenting for introverts

While growing older in some ways forced me out of my shell, my natural temperament has always been to keep my distance from people I don’t know well and to uphold a measure of privacy.

Then, motherhood came a knocking.

With it, a barrage of unwanted attention from family, acquaintances, and strangers alike. Here are 5 times parenting was pure torture for me as an introvert.

1. Late pregnancy

Why is it that common societal norms of politeness and personal space go out the window when a woman is growing a child?

Suddenly, people who would never give me more physical contact than a handshake now think it’s ok to touch, grab, even rub my belly. The exact place where I’m feeling the most protective and vulnerable! Who decided that’s ok to do?

Then there’s the comments. Pointing out parts of my body that are changing, as if I’m not acutely aware of them myself. Making comments about how big or not big I am, picking me apart like I’m a piece of livestock for sale.

By the end of pregnancy I dreaded ever leaving my house because I felt like I made a scene everywhere I went. The icing on the cake was a grocery store cashier who asked me how far along I was. When I replied “38 weeks”, she came back with “better have someone else do your shopping for you, you look like you’re about to break your water right here in the store!” So sorry my big pregnant existence is stressful for you!

2. After giving birth

The torture doesn’t stop for introverts once the pregnancy is over. Actually, it’s only the beginning.

After you give birth, everyone wants to know the story of your hoo-ha. There is no such thing as privacy when birth is involved. “C-section or vaginal? Did you need stitches? DID YOU RIP ALL THE WAY THROUGH TO YOUR BUTT???”

Or another classic: “Did you poop when you were pushing? No? Oh you probably did but you just didn’t know it.”

Not long after all vagina and excrement-related questions cease, it will move to your breasts.

“How is breastfeeding going? Are your nipples cracked? You know you’re supposed to pull on them and toughen them up before giving birth.”

If you ever felt like you had privacy and dignity, kiss it goodbye because that’s all over now!

3. The toddler stage

Nothing is more attention-grabbing than an adorable, loud, and mobile toddler. From the young toddler wrecking displays in the grocery aisle, to the older toddler demanding an answer to “WHY IS THAT LADY SO FAT?” they are constantly drawing attention to themselves in public. And all that attention quickly turns to Mom.

Then there are the dreaded toddler activities. As much as my homebody self would love to stay home with my little ones, my toddlers were way too active and had to be kept busy. But at that age they are too little to do activities their own, which means I have to join in. Sitting in a circle of parents singing itsy-bitsy spider finger plays is exactly the type of thing I find humiliating.

4. Birthday parties, sports games, and school pickups

Pretty much anytime there’s a group of parents standing around waiting, I’m going to be awkward. It comes from being forced to stand near a group of people that I only know as “Ella’s mom” or “Probably Jacob’s Dad”. I might know who they are, but I don’t know them enough to have a meaningful conversation with them. And I’m an absolute nightmare at small talk. I either over-share or can’t come up with a thing to say.

Since I avoid small talk, people perceive me as being cold at best, or snobby at worst.

parenting for introverts

5. Parent-teacher conferences

Even when my kid has the kindest and most personable teacher, I dread parent-teacher conferences. This person knows my child well, which feels like the equivalent of knowing the contents of my underwear drawer or medicine cabinet. I’m fully aware that they know quite a bit about me, but I don’t know exactly what they know. This state of vulnerability makes me uneasy.

Another part of the awkwardness involves my children not following the rules. Inevitably, the teacher is going to tell me about times my child misbehaved. I never know the correct response to this. “I’m sorry”“He also doesn’t listen at home“??

My last parent-teacher conference went something like this:

Teacher: Your child only seems to put effort into classwork when he decides it’s interesting to him.

Me: Yes, it can be difficult to get him motivated.

Teacher: Do you have any ideas of how to keep him engaged?

Me: Umm.. you could try to make your lessons more interesting? *facepalm*

Other difficulties with parenting for introverts

Introverts need a certain amount of alone time every day to center themselves. Small children need alone time approximately never. And for me, with 6 of us living under the same roof, there is no such thing as alone time.

parenting for introverts

Children are also curious and inquisitive. Parents are constantly barraged with questions, sometimes the same ones over and over. Unlike some people, *cough* my husband *cough cough*, I don’t tune them out and not answer their questions. I reply to every last one. By the end of the day I feel like I have not stopped talking for the last twelve hours. It’s exhausting for anyone, but especially for introverts who need quiet to reflect.

Lastly, your love for your children will compel you to do things you absolutely hate. Starting in preschool, my children’s school has invited parents to surprise their child’s class on a random day by coming in to read a book, aka the “mystery reader”. I would be happy to help the class in a way (seriously ANY other way) that doesn’t involve 20 children and three teachers listening to me read out loud. But my oldest child gets so excited at the thought of me coming in to her class and surprising her, I feel guilted into doing it every year.

My children are still young, so I’m sure there is more torture on the horizon for this introverted mom!

Are YOU an introvert parent? What has been a struggle for you?

Leave a comment (under the post title!)

4 Tricks to Try When Your Kid Is Waking Up Too Early

Only when you’re a parent do you realize what true fatigue really feels like. As soon as one sleep problem is solved, it seems like a new one pops up. If you are dealing with kids waking too early (like 5 AM early), know that this is usually a temporary problem. I have some tried-and-true tactics to help your kids start sleeping later.

kids waking too early

First of all let me just say this has nothing to do with color-changing clocks or teaching kids what time they can get out of bed. I don’t know whose kids look at the clock and follow the laid out rules before jumping out of bed, but mine definitely don’t. They don’t even listen to me most of the time. They sure as hell aren’t going to listen to an inanimate plastic object.

How early is too early?

If your little one wakes up between 6 and 7 but you’re just an eternal optimist wishing they’d sleep past 8, that’s most likely unrealistic. It is normal and age-appropriate for small children to wake up in the 6s. It’s only a problem that needs fixing if 1.) it’s breaking the pattern of their normal sleep habits and 2.) they seem tired/cranky during the day.

Most parents have experienced a change in their child’s sleep pattern that suddenly has them waking up *too* early. It comes on suddenly and the child is clearly sleep-deprived and cranky during the day, but they are unable to reset their schedule.

For example, my youngest son was sleeping from 7:30 pm to 6:30 am every day for almost a year. Out of nowhere he started waking up at 5. Some mornings it was 5:30, other mornings it was 4:30 😱 These were not night-wakings, he was completely awake and looking to start his day. There was no amount of shushing or patting that would get him back to sleep. Later that morning and throughout the day however, he was irritable and fussy.

Luckily we’d been to this rodeo before with our other children and had some tricks to try.

1. Re-evaluate the nap schedule

The schedule that was working before is no longer working, so it’s time to figure out why. A good starting point is to look at a chart of sleep/wake times by age and figure out what their total sleep should be for their age.

Age# of napsMax wake timeTotal sleep
6-12 months23-4 hours14-15 hours
12-18 monthsdrops to 15 hours13-14 hours
18 months-3 years15-6 hours12-13 hours
3-5 yearsdrops to 0 (or changes to "quiet hour")6-7 hours if still napping, 12-13 hours if no nap11-12 hours
6-10 years013-1410-11 hours

Depending on their age and sleep needs, it may be necessary to change the nap in one of these ways:

A. Change the nap schedule from two naps/day to 1 nap/day (typically between 12-18 months of age)

B. “Cap” the nap at a certain time to ensure it doesn’t interfere with bedtime (for example, end all naps by 3pm to make sure there is the correct amount of wake time before bedtime), or

C. Eliminate the nap altogether (typically done at age 3-4)

In the case of our little 5 am wake up call, looking at the chart I was able to see that at his age (16 months) is when he needs to go down from two naps a day to one. Too much nap time sleep was interfering with his night time sleep.

2. Eliminate over-tiredness

This is critical! IGNORE the barrage of well-meaning advice-givers who tell you that keeping the kid up later will make them sleep later. This is almost never the case.

Even though it’s counter-intuitive, a child who is kept awake for too long and goes to bed overtired will just wake up EARLIER.

The pediatric sleep consultants at WeeBeeDreaming explain it well:

“Well-rested children accept sleep more readily, sleep better, and sleep longer than overtired ones.

When babies are overtired, the stress hormone ‘cortisol’ is secreted and cortisol keeps us awake (it’s the same hormone that would be released into your body if you were in a situation where you were trying to save your own life – the ‘flight or fight response’).  Ensuring that babies do not reach this overtired state is pivotal to ensure a good night’s sleep.”

Avoid over tiredness by sticking with an early but age-appropriate bedtime. Between 6pm and 8pm is what aligns with most children’s natural sleep rhythms.

Another trick to determine the correct bedtime? Take the time your child needs to be awake for school or daycare, and calculate based on their total sleep needs (see table above) to figure out what time they need to be in bed. For example, if your non-napping 4 year old wakes up at 7am, a bedtime between 7 and 8 pm will ensure an optimal 11-12 hours of sleep.

3. Check the room for sleep disruptors

Does the sun shine through your child’s blinds, waking them when it rises? Are they hearing a garbage truck making its way through your neighborhood?

Simple solutions can be your best friend here.

Room-darkening shades and a white noise machine are simple ways to solve these problems.

These are just like the blackout shades we have in Elle’s room:

And all four of my kids sleep with one of these bad boys:

4. Purposely disturb their sleep cycle

If you’ve checked the previous three off your list and still have an early bird on your hands, it’s time to break out this trick.

Sometime in the night when they are in a deep sleep (it can be when you go to bed yourself), go on in and rouse them a bit.

It doesn’t need to be a full wake up, but just move the child enough to disrupt their sleep cycle. Change their position, give them a kiss, make sure they move around a little bit and then leave them to drift back off to sleep.

This small act can be enough to alter their sleep pattern and change their wake up time. Even if it’s half a sleep cycle, that’s an extra 22 minutes of sleep in the wee hours of the am!

If your little one is up before the sun, I hope one of these tricks works for you!

After all, parenting is hard enough even with a good night’s sleep!

 

Adorable Halloween costumes for siblings

Ok maybe it’s just me, but I think one of the most fun parts of having kids is dressing them up in adorable costumes!

Once they hit age 4 or so and develop their own opinions about what they want to dress as, I’m seriously bummed 😆

I’m even more of a sucker for multiple coordinating Halloween costumes… case in point:

Exhibit A

Halloween costumes for siblings

Exhibit B

Halloween costumes for siblings

and C

Halloween costumes for siblings

Oh, and also D

Halloween costumes for siblings

3 of my kids are now old enough to decide their own costumes, which means I only have one little helpless victim to dress as I please. All I can do is is pine after these adorable Halloween costumes for siblings!

Elephant and peanut

Cuddly Elephant Costume

Peanut Costume – Infant

Firefighter and dalmation

Firefighter Costume Kids

Dalmatian Costume

Red riding hood and big bad wolf

Girls Little Red Riding Hood Costume

Baby Wolf Costume

UPS guy and “special delivery”

UPS Guy Boy’s Costume

adorable Halloween costumes for siblings

For the “special delivery”, make a costume out of a cardboard box or decorate a brown onesie, like this

Police officer and doughnut

Police Officer Costume

Doughnut Costume

Bumblebee and flower

Bumble Bee Toddler Costume

Baby Blossom

Football player and football

Football Player Child’s Costume

Baby Football Deluxe

Dorothy and lion

Wizard of Oz Dorothy Costume

Baby Lil’ Lion Costume

Fisherman and fish

Toddler Fisherman

Gold Fish Bunting

Peter Pan and tinkerbell

Peter Pan: Child

Toddler Tinkerbelle Costume

Cowboy and horse

Melissa & Doug Cowboy Costume

Playful Pony Costume

Snow White and Dwarf

Enchanted Princess Costume

Infant Dwarf Costume

Jasmine and “Raja”

Jasmine Deluxe Disney Princess

Unisex-baby Tiger Costume

We have this particular tiger costume so I can attest the fact that it is in fact, adorable.

Halloween costumes for siblings
Tiger Zari

Now that I think about it, I could probably put this on Luca and talk Elle into being Jasmine! There may be one more year of adorable sibling costumes for us yet 😊

 What are your favorite Halloween costumes for siblings?

 

Struggling to grow your blog? What worked for me and what didn’t in Month 5

I’ll be honest, I’ve been debating about whether or not to continue writing these reports. I really like reading other people’s, because they usually give me hope or help me set realistic goals. They are also helpful when they share actionable ways to grow your blog. Since change is taking place super slowly with my blog, I feel like each month I’m saying the same thing. I’m not sure how useful this is for others.

So this month I’m going to take a new approach. Instead of just reporting about my month, I’ll focus on sharing what has and (hasn’t) worked for me that other new bloggers can benefit from.

I’d love to hear from you about this change! Leave me a comment letting me know if you like the new format better or if I should just scrap them altogether. I promise not to be offended 🙂

Without further ado…

Grow your blog

August wasn’t the easiest month for me as far as writing goes, with all the kids out of school and done with most of their activities. Some of my goals got pushed off to September when I will (hopefully!) have a lot more time. Very happy to report that I was still able to increase my page views to a record high 18,000 though!

grow your blog

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you click one of the product links, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Month 5 Revenue: What has earned and what hasn’t

There are four common ways that bloggers make money, and I will go through each one below.

1. Advertising on your site

I have Google Adsense ads, since they are pretty easy to get approval on for a new blog. Since I started using them a few months ago, I’ve earned $70 total. Not a huge moneymaker, but it is something to start out with when you don’t have tons of page views. Once you hit some high benchmarks, you can switch to a higher paying ad network. For example, 30,000 monthly page views is required for MediaVine and 100,000 for AdThrive.

This month from Google Adsense I made $22.75.

2. Affiliates

Being an affiliate is beneficial because you don’t need to create your own product, but you can earn a commission on getting your readers to buy other people’s products.

As soon as I had a few posts on my blog I signed up to be an Amazon affiliate. This is another good one for new bloggers because the approval process is easy, and you can link any product on Amazon to your site. Since Amazon has just about everything, it can work for all niches. The downside is, you only get about 4% in affiliate income which is lower than other affiliate networks. Since my linked products are mostly books and toys, it takes quite a lot of sales to accumulate anything (if someone buys a $10 product, at 4% return I’ll get $.40).

This month I earned $13.22 from Amazon affiliates. Since I started the blog in April, I’ve made a total of $60.83.

Other affiliate programs I’ve joined have yet to pan out for me. I am an affiliate for my web hosting company, Bluehost as well as the influencer network Linqia. While they haven’t paid off yet, I’ve seen other bloggers make some income from these so it’s worth a try for you to give it a go on your blog (especially if you write about how to start a blog).

Though not directly related to blogging, I’d also recommend using Ebates for cash back when shopping online. I’ve gotten a few referrals plus the earnings from my personal shopping, for a total of $239.88 since I started a year ago.

3. Selling your own product

The big bloggers who make thousands each month are almost always selling their own service or product, typically a course or e-book. I feel like this tends to come later on in the blogging journey. People are more likely to pay for something if they believe it’s coming from an expert on the topic.

At this point I’m not selling any product. Having one was never really my vision for this blog. I am toying with the idea of creating a product related to Disney travel planning, but only if it’s something extremely useful and different than what’s out there.

We’ll see what the future holds on that one.

4. Sponsored Posts

Grow your blog

This has been my Achilles heel these last couple months. I’ve signed up with lots of networks without seeing any campaigns come through. They either offer me no campaigns, or I apply and never hear anything.

It could certainly be a lack of know-how on my part, so I’m not intending to discourage anyone from trying. There is always a chance you have what some brand is looking for so it wouldn’t hurt to check out the networks like Social Native, Social Fabric, Influenster, Find Your Influence, Massive Sway, Izea, etc. There are tons of them out there if you’re looking.

It seems like sponsored posts on social media might be easier to come by than sponsored blog posts. Still, for all of the above networks my followings aren’t quite big enough.

The only small amount of success I have had is with Heartbeat. If you’re like me and don’t have thousands of Instagram followers yet (first of all let’s connect and support one another on Instagram!) I would recommend getting your feet wet with Heartbeat. They pay small amounts for small followings (think $5 per post for an account with 500 followers). They essentially write the post for you so it’s very easy to do, and you are only required to leave the post up for 72 hours.

Once I’ve grown a bit my plan is to check out higher paying companies like Tribe who pay about $75-$150 per post for accounts with 3,000-5,000 followers (and upwards from there).

Month 5 Expenses: TBD if these are helpful or not!

In an effort to get me out of my sponsored post rut, I did sign up for course this month. It is the first time I’ve signed up for any courses and I tried to choose one that would be a good return on my investment. The course set me back $50, but since I haven’t gotten a chance to go through the material yet, I won’t say too much about it. What I will do is report back next month on whether or not it was helpful!

I also succumbed to the relentless pressure from Facebook to boost one of my posts. I was just testing the waters so I put up $3. It result in the most engagement I’ve had on my page, but didn’t increase my following much. I may or may not do it again depending on how I’m able to grow my page organically.

My growth this month:

  • Page views: One stat I’m happy about is that I’ve increased my page views every month since I started out. August got me 18,105 which was a nice jump from July’s 11,667.
  • Facebook page: I had JUST started one last month and it currently has 324 followers.
  • InstagramI went from 758 followers to 1,020 in the month of August.
  • Twitter: My twitter following grew from 1,613 followers to 2,150. Maybe it’s just because I enjoy Twitter most, but I have found this one the easiest to grow. Anytime you tweet something remotely funny you get at least 10 new followers.
  • Pinterest: Followers aren’t as important for Pinterest since it’s used more like a search engine than a social media platform, but I increased my following from 953 to 1,327.

How I achieved this growth:

Here is the breakdown of my traffic sources

  • 61% Pinterest
  • 17.5% direct traffic
  • 16.5% StumbleUpon
  • 1.6% Facebook
  • Less than 1 percent each: search engine, Twitter, and Instagram

Pinterest

My best advice to grow your blog is to harness the power of Pinterest! Start by setting up a business account and create your profile using keywords relevant to you. State clearly who you are and what your areas of expertise are.

Use rich pins to make your pins look professional among the sea of other pins out there. Make sure each pin has a title that is clear and easy to read. Don’t forget to add a description using keywords that someone might search for. (Remember, Pinterest is used more like a search engine than a social media platform).

Arrange your boards so the first board contains all of your blog posts and no one else’s pins. This is typically called the “Best of (your blog name)” board. Then all your other boards are specific topics that you write about. Load these boards up with the best pins out there, along with your own. All of these boards should have board covers to give your profile a polished, streamlined look.

Lastly, join plenty of group boards and pin to them regularly while abiding by the rules of the board. Many people recommend PinGroupie for finding group boards to join, but I’ve had better luck with Facebook groups like Pinterest Group Boards.

StumbleUpon

StumbleUpon is like a hidden gem for bloggers. With just a couple easy steps you can get consistent daily traffic from it with no effort. Setting up your profile takes a couple minutes, then just start stumbling. If you like the page it shows you, click “like”, and if you don’t, click “Stumble”. Your likes will be saved to your profile.

Now here is the secret. Do NOT be the first one to Stumble your own posts. Buddy up with another blogger, and Stumble one another. (This is one of those cases where you need those connections with blogging friends!) You agree to Stumble their posts and they Stumble yours.

You also don’t want to Stumble every one of your posts. If you’re writing something about your personal life that only your followers would take interest in, StumbleUpon isn’t the place for it. StumbleUpon shows readers pages at random based on their set interests. These people will likely have no idea who you are, and are looking for value about a topic. My posts that do well on StumbeUpon are ones that have relatable advice, such as How To Talk To Kids. The more likes you get, the more StumbleUpon will show your site to new readers.

Facebook Groups

There are tons of Facebook Groups out there to network and grow your blog. The daily threads that have helped me the most are Pinterest repins (you pin everyone’s pin to a relevant board and everyone repins one of yours). This is great for getting your pins in front of more eyeballs and has lead to thousands of clicks to my site. Another good one is general share threads, where you link your blog post and people share it in any way they choose. I’ve ended up with traffic from sources I don’t even utilize, such as Reddit forums, by participating in share threads.

It does take a chunk of time each day to reciprocate these threads, but it is absolutely worth it to grow your traffic and following. These groups have also helped me meet other Mom bloggers and make my blogger friends. They help answer your questions and give you support. I would probably still have my sister as my only subscriber if it weren’t for these groups!

My favorite Facebook groups are:

  • Mom Bloggers Tribe I LOVE that this whole group is made up of Mom bloggers. It makes it so easy when we all have similar topics so we can share each other’s content and it will apply to our audience! Everyone here is also really nice, I think because we all have that caring/helpful Mom thing going on.
  • The Blogging Squad This group does not mess around, so make sure you read and follow all the rules (such as removing your previews when you paste a link). I like that it is serious though because you know they check the threads and eliminate freeloaders from the group.
  • Pinning Ain’t Easy I like all the repin threads in this group (some by topic, some for all pins) and follow for follow threads.
  • Growing Social Media for Bloggers Just like the name says, it has threads for all the social media platforms. It also has my personal favorite thread called “request something” where you can ask for any type of favor you want and can pick whichever 5 favors you want to reciprocate.

What hasn’t worked to drive traffic

All of my social media accounts besides Pinterest (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook page) bring less than 2% of my traffic each. I know some people have success with these, I just haven’t figured out how to tap into it yet. Common advice is to focus on one platform rather than spread yourself too thin, so I should probably start taking that advice. Juggling content and engagement on all platforms is a huge time suck and there just aren’t enough hours in a day!

I also don’t get much traffic from search engines, even though I do use plugins like Yoast to make sure my posts are SEO-friendly. Part of this is an issue of being new, as Google indexes pages that have been around a while.

Most popular posts of August:

Once again my Disney posts performed well this month, but my hottest post of August was actually a parenting post. The identity crisis continues!

Raising Kids With Less Entitlement and More Gratitude Real Mom Recs

These were my other top posts of August:

Does marriage really take work?

height restrictions in disney

money saving tools

grow your blog

What has worked best for YOU to grow your blog? What would you like to hear more about from me? Let’s help each other!

 

My 3 Biggest Parenting Fails and What I Learned From Them

My 3 Biggest Parenting Fails and What I Learned From Them

Parenting Fails

I’ve been wading through my role as a Mom for 8 years now. Over the years I’ve adopted a baby and a toddler, added a baby girl who was very much planned, and then had a baby boy who was not exactly planned. There have been twists and turns around every corner, and I’ve just had to keep adjusting my game.

With parenting comes so many highs and lows. I’m happy to say that the good moments have outweighed the bad. You never forget the first time your child says “Mama”; or the first time your baby smiles at you, or watching your kids hold their new baby sibling for the first time. These are moments so full of joy you feel like your heart just might burst.

Real Mom Recs 4 kids
Never a dull moment with these 4

But what about the lows? There are certainly some Mom moments I’d rather forget. When I think about mistakes I’ve made, my inclination is to cover them up and pretend they never happened. At the same time, I realize we all have struggles as parents, and if no one talks about them then we’ll feel like the only ones floundering.

Parenting is hard, and sometimes we fail. I try to teach my kids that failure is an opportunity to learn and grow. So it’s time to take my own advice.

Here are my 3 biggest parenting fails and what I’ve learned from them.

1. That time I forgot to pick up my kid.

My oldest child has always been an anxious kid. Fear and nervousness are her default when going into a new situation. When she went to kindergarten, it seemed like every day she had a new complaint.

  • The cafeteria is too loud and crowded for me.
  • The kids are too naughty and I don’t like when they get in trouble.
  • I don’t like being near the big kids, they’re too scary.
T 1st day of school Real Mom Recs
My oldest, both excited and scared about starting school

I did my best to mitigate her fears and keep her anxiety at bay- until the week of parent-teacher conferences came.

Given that my oldest child was a kindergartener, every event at school was a first for me. I didn’t always know the ins and outs of the school, but I tried to stay on top of news by going through her daily folder. Being a slacker mom, I guess I wasn’t always 100% successful with this.

Somehow I missed the memo that they have early dismissal during conference week.

I got the call when I was 30 minutes away from the school. “Hello? We have your daughter here in the office? School got out 15 minutes ago, ma’am”. (Adding insult to injury, I got “ma’am”ed!)

Picturing my daughter alone and afraid sitting in the office, worrying that her mother had forgotten her brought me to tears as I rushed to the school. Normally I cut myself a lot of slack, but that day I felt like the WORST. MOTHER. EVER.

What I learned: Your kids will love you anyway.

I’ve had 3 years to reflect on that epic Mom fail and I learned a few good lessons.

My daughter did look worried sitting there in that school office. But as soon as she saw me, her face lit up. She came over and gave me a huge hug. I held her tight and apologized that I didn’t realize I had to pick her up early. And she forgave me.

Juxtaposed with feeling like the worst mom ever, I felt like I must have done something right to raise such a kind and understanding kid. She wasn’t upset with me, not even a little bit. Maybe she was more resilient than I had given her credit for.

My kids know I’m not perfect and I definitely make my share of mistakes. But at the end of the day, they know they’re loved, and they love me back. When you make a mistake, your kids will forgive you and love you too.

2. That time I was sure my son was the worst behaved child on the planet.

My son Z has always been a challenging kid. As a toddler, he figured out how to climb over his crib when he was way too young. When I moved him to a bed and put a gate on his door, he figured out how to climb the gate. He was ALWAYS in motion and never afraid of bodily harm.

In addition to the constant physical activity, Z also had tantrums that were like nothing I’d ever seen before. He had the stamina to just continue on, and on, and on when other kids would tire themselves out.

All of this was difficult and of course exhausting for me, but my frame of reference was pretty small. I only had my oldest to compare him to, and she was the exact opposite of him with her patience and fearful nature. Every time I talked to other moms about him, they just chalked it up to him being a boy and “that’s how boys are”.

Well he didn’t seem like any other boys that I saw, but what did I know?

Z swimming Real Mom Recs
Zari in action: 8 parts sweet and 2 parts trouble

When he was 5, I enrolled Z in a gymnastics program thinking the gross motor movement would help with his energy level. The first few sessions went great and he really seemed to enjoy it. Then one day it all went wrong.

I got a call from the teacher telling me I had to come pick up my son right away. At first I panicked thinking he was hurt, but she said no, he was fine. He had wanted to do the climbing ropes when it wasn’t his group’s turn to do them and he’d thrown a huge tantrum, throwing all of the gym equipment, hitting, and eventually biting the teacher.

Of course I was completely horrified. I knew his behavior was sometimes out of control, but my son had never physically hurt anyone before. I ran to pick him up and went over to the teacher to apologize profusely. Before I could even get the words out, she started yelling at me about what had happened, pointing at my son and saying how she never wanted to see his face in that gym again, and making me feel like he was some kind of monster who would surely end up in jail someday.

I looked over at my little 5 year old boy with the same face he had as a baby, and to me he just looked afraid. He knew as well as I did that his behavior was completely unacceptable, and I could tell he was ashamed. Instead of being mad at him, I just felt sorry for him. I realized that he was truly unable to control his body and that we needed to do something about it.

What I learned: When you’re feeling like it’s too much for you, get help.

In our case, it was professional help that we needed. I started Z in therapy and he was diagnosed with ADHD and a mood disorder. He started medication which helped him a lot. Once he was able to keep his body under control, he was more responsive to learning the skills he needed to manage his emotions.

I still think about that day at gymnastics and how overwhelmed I felt. It seemed like my life was spiraling out of control. If I couldn’t control a 5 year old, how could I be tasked with running this family? Now when I get that feeling, I know it’s time to ask for help and take a break.

My husband and I prioritize date nights to get a breather from the kids and stay connected. In the evenings and on the weekends we trade off watching the kids so the other one can have free time to exercise or do anything else that reduces stress. We are lucky enough to have family nearby that helps out with the kids when we need a break, too.

Even with kids who don’t have behavior problems, parenting is still exhausting and overwhelming. We all deserve breaks and should never be ashamed to ask for help.

3. That time I had to save my child from drowning.

It was the beginning of the summer, and my husband and I took the kids up to the pool for the first time all year. They had all loved swimming last summer and couldn’t wait to jump in that water. When we got there, we soon saw friends of ours and started talking while the kids ripped off their cover ups and jumped in.

We were standing right on the edge of the pool talking, just an arms reach away from the kids. The lifeguard was stationed only a few yards away as well. Suddenly I looked down I saw my 4 year old, trying to tread water and completely sinking. She was underwater, limbs flailing. It took me a split second to register that she was drowning, then I let out a shriek and grabbed her.

This was a child who, the previous summer, was jumping off the diving board into deep water and swimming to the side unassisted. She loved the water and did swimming lessons every day. But during the winter, she had completely forgotten how to swim.

Real Mom Recs E swimming
Elle practicing her back float at swim lessons

What I learned: Don’t point fingers at parents when things go wrong. It can happen to anyone.

I always thought of myself as someone who is diligent about water safety, and yet that day at the pool was a huge wake up call for me. It only takes a few moments for a child to drown, and even if you are standing right there you could miss it. Luckily I saw my daughter in time and she was fine, but it was extremely scary for both of us nonetheless.

This incident reminded me of all the many articles I’ve seen going around Facebook when tragedy strikes a family with a young child. The masses are always there ready to blame the grieving parents for not watching their kid closely enough. I remember when a family lost their toddler to an alligator attack at Disney World and the media jumped all over the father for bringing his son near the water. Was that man trying to do anything other than play with this son? Did it ever cross his mind that he was endangering his child? I’m sure not.

The point is, there are no perfect parents. We’ve all made mistakes and some of them have had more serious consequences than others. Little kids are unpredictable, and often times Moms are juggling several of them at once while trying to manage other tasks as well. They say parenting is the hardest job in the world for a reason- because it is!

Takeaways

The next time you have an epic Mom fail, go easy on yourself. Despite what social media may try to convince you, there are no perfect parents out there. Every day of parenting brings new challenges, and we are all just trying our best. The important part is that we are trying, and every single day we get another chance to do better.