Becoming a mom (or a dad) changes you in ways you never thought were possible. You discover a new version of yourself, your heart grows at least three sizes to hold all the love, and you break a lot of rules you once thought you would follow.
I had a long list of things I said I would and wouldn't do once I became a mom, but all of that went right out the hospital window the second they placed my daughter in my arms.
1. Making Special Dinners Just for a Picky Eater
I was an anti-frozen chicken nugget mom. Until I became a mom, that is. The truth is that chicken nuggets are loaded with protein, make dinner time easy, and make a pretty satisfying meal for Mom too. If my daughter would prefer a 15-minute chicken nugget meal over something she isn't going to eat (and that takes an hour to make), I'm going to reach for that trusty pack of nuggets.
2. Letting the Toddler Sleep in Your Bed
I said I would sleep-train. I said I wouldn't let children crawl into my bed at night. But when the longing for sleep becomes all-consuming, you'll do just about anything to get a few hours of shuteye. If I have to sleep with a toddler's foot in my ribcage, so be it.
Remember vowing never to embarrass your child or always to be completely honest with them? There's some nuance to those rules that you don't think of in the pre-parenting days.
3. No Sugar Was a Pipe Dream
I'm not sure how I thought my child wouldn't inherit my sweet tooth. We made it the first year without sugar and even that felt barely doable. I've decided to keep my sweet tooth and indulge my daughter's sweet tooth from time to time as well.
It's okay if you feed your child frozen food, things with sugar, and foods that aren't perfectly clean or organic. Life is all about balance and this is just one way we can teach our children what that can look like.
4. Hello, Screen Time
Screen time isn't a new concept and it's helped many a mom get things done for a few generations now. Whether it's a television, computer, tablet, or phone, screen time can actually be a lifesaver in motherhood.
If the toddler needs a few minutes with Miss Rachel or another low-stimulation show so you can enjoy an actual meal or have an adult conversation, don't let the mom guilt give you anxiety over it.
Screen time during mealtime is one version of breaking this pre-kids rule. When you need adult conversation or a quiet dinner, letting the kids eat in front of the TV is one way to make that happen.
5. We Can't All Be Crunchy Moms
Some of us want to be crunchy moms so badly, but a little bit crispy is the best we can do. Balance is the key to most things in life and a little bit of processed food or fragrance in care products has no impact on whether or not you're a great mom.
Sometimes the crunchy approach works best if you think about the things you are willing to compromise on and the ones you aren't. Maybe you don't mind buying the non-organic produce to make room in the budget for the organic cotton onesies.
6. Natural Birth Sounded Easy
It's natural, so it shouldn't be so hard, right? Wrong. The realities of natural birth hit pretty hard once you're closing in on that due date. Bringing a baby into the world is amazing, no matter how much medical intervention you do or don't have.
7. Nursing Plans Were Made to Be Broken
I was the first-time mom who planned to nurse for at least the first year, if not longer. Turns out that five months felt like long enough for me.
Other moms plan to stop nursing at the 12-month mark and find they long to keep going and so does their baby. Every nursing journey is different and the longer you nurse or the sooner you wean has no impact on who you are as a mom.
I also swore I would never use formula for my baby, but that went out the window the second I realized having my baby fed was the only thing that mattered.
8. Living Rooms Were Made for Toys
We spend so much time making our homes beautiful and adding our personal style touches ... only to hand them over to wriggly little aliens when we come home from the hospital. We like to think our kids will keep all the toys in their room or that perfectly aesthetic toy room we always thought we'd have. Turns out that living rooms are meant to be lived in and played in — and that's totally okay.
9. You Might Feel Differently About Going Back to Work
I always imagined myself as the sort of mom who would be eager to return to a regular 9-5 job after maternity leave. I didn't expect to want to stay home with my daughter. Other moms have the opposite experience and dream of the stay-at-home mom life only to realize it isn't for them. So much of parenting is truly a mystery until you're in the middle of the experience, and it's always okay to change your mind.
10. Opinions on School Might Change
Deciding on schooling options is one of the bigger decisions you have to make as a mom and you might not be as locked into one choice as you think you are. Many moms want to homeschool or opt for a private education early on and then choose the public school route.
Some moms are on board with a public school education until that first day of drop-offs and the "homeschool laws in my state" Google questions start flowing. This is just another space where parents learn that change is okay and flexibility is often necessary.
Motherhood is a lot easier when you go into it with an open mind and a willingness to change course as needed. Don't guilt trip yourself over making adjustments to fit your current parenting season.
11. Prioritizing Self-Care Is Harder Than You Think
We can hardly get thirty seconds to use the bathroom as moms. So we're far from enjoying ten-step skincare routines.
Prioritizing things like getting ready, working out, and having time for a nutritious meal isn't always possible in the early days of motherhood. As with everything in parenting, these things eventually come back into our routines.
12. Character Clothing Might Look Cuter When You're a Mom
Spiderman pants and Minnie Mouse onesies look way cuter once they're on your baby. Character clothing might not fit the aesthetic you originally pictured for your child, but the joy of our child wearing their animated hero far outweighs our own opinions on the style choice.
Perfectly aesthetic toy collections are trendy right now, but sometimes kids eventually want the colorful plastic options. It's helpful to hold on loosely to our own expectations in parenting.
13. "Because I Said So" Doesn't Sound So Bad
I thought I would be the calm and gentle mom who explained every decision in detail until my child understood. Turns out that three-year-olds have no limit on how many times they can say "why." A firm statement like "because I said so" stops questions in their tracks and helps us move on with our day much quicker, even though I swore I'd never utter such a sentence.
"Be careful" is another phrase you don't plan to say so often in motherhood, but it somehow sneaks up on you.
14. Make Helicopter Parenting Cool Again
Many of us always thought we'd be the cool, hands-off sort of parent. Except for those of us who had hands-off parents. We know all too well the sort of trouble an unsupervised child can get into because we lived it. Now we are proud helicopter parents still learning how to manage our anxiety.
Parenting Requires a Lot of Flexibility
Becoming a parent is an experience unlike any other. The amount of things you never thought of or considered can be almost overwhelming at times. As with most things, you settle into your own routine after a while and discover that even a small amount of flexibility can make the whole journey a lot easier.