All parents-to-be have ideas about how they are going to nurture their new baby, but oftentimes the reality of day-to-day parenting (and exhaustion) set in, and those lofty goals may start to wane just so a mom or dad can make it through the day without losing their minds! When I was pregnant it was easy to talk about big plans for raising my son in a perfect environment. As he grows from newborn to full-fledged toddler, though, I'm discovering that sometimes real life gets in the way. And you know what? That's OK!
Most of the time, my son is a joy, and I think that holding on too hard to those admirable but sometimes unrealistic parenting dreams can take away from enjoying our babies (ahem, parent guilt). Of course, we should try to be the best parents that we can for our kids, but I think accepting that no parent is perfect 100% of the time (although staged Facebook posts, Instagram pics and Pinterest pins have a way of making it seem that way)... helps make those little stumbling blocks easier to move past. Below are some of the dashed parenting dreams I've had to let go of at times -- and I'm pretty confident I haven't scarred my son for life. I hope that you'll share yours in the comments. Let's commiserate, fellow parents-with-the-best-intentions!
photo by Lars Ploughmann
Dream #1: Sneaking Veggies
Two of my top dashed dreams on this list are food-related. I’m a cookbook author and write about cooking and healthy food as part of my job. Surely, my child would relish in broccoli and devour kale salads, to the envy of other moms. I’d never have to sneak shredded zucchini into his mashed potatoes or puree kale into a smoothie to get some greens into this guy.
Why I caved: My son’s picky eating phases come and go, and we recently went through a long one. Honestly, I just couldn’t bear to watch him toss more lovingly-prepared veggies onto the floor. Bring on the sneaky veggies!
photo by Angie Garrett
Dream #2: No Refined Sugar
Any new parent knows that refined sugar is just empty calories. Feeding your kiddo refined sugar helps him develop a taste for sweets, and that can lead to health problems later on in life. I was determined to carefully develop my son’s palate, so that he’d have a taste for healthy veggies, rather than sugary cereals and cookies.
Why I caved: This idyllic vision went out the window on a beach vacation when he stole a piece of my homemade granola, which had plenty of brown sugar AND maple syrup in it. Now I can’t snack on a granola bar without sharing. Oops!
photo by Mindaugas Danys
Dream #3: Handling Tantrums
Before Darrol Henry blossomed into toddlerhood, I swore up and down to myself that I wouldn’t give in to his tantrums. Giving in just reinforces that throwing a fit gets results. I know that in my heart, but sometimes I cave. See those granola bars above!
Why I caved: Real talk: sometimes I am too tired to deal with screaming or whining.
photo by Becky Striepe
Dream #4: Keeping Up with the Baby Book
My son had a beautiful Eric Carle baby book before he was even born. I lovingly recorded notes and milestones almost daily for his first few months. Then maybe once a week. At this point, the only time that the baby book makes it off of the shelf is when Darrol mistakes it for The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Everyone told me similar stories about their half-finished baby books, but I was certain that I’d buck the trend.
Why I caved: It’s easy to jot those memories down when you have an infant who sleeps most of the day. It’s not so easy when you’re sprinting after a toddler who seems Hell-bent on throwing himself head first off of the tallest piece of furniture in the room.
photo by Tanel Teemusk
Dream #5: Zero Screen Time
The AAP recommends no screen time at all until age two, and my son was not even going to know what a screen was until he was at least two. Maybe three! Maybe he would never watch television at all. Instead, we would sit under a tree, reading books in the shade.
Why I caved: This was wonderful in theory, but when a stomach flu sweeps through the house and everyone is taking turns throwing up, it’s Dinosaur Train to the rescue!
photo by Audrey
Dream #6: No Disposable Diapers. Ever.
I was going to be a cloth diapering mama all the way! My child was not going to contribute to the mountain of disposable diapers overflowing our landfills. Even on vacation, my plan was to bring cloth diapers and wash them in the sink wherever we were staying. My vigilance was going to be admirable!
Why I caved: We still use cloth diapers at home, but on road trips we use recycled paper diapers. As a parent-to-be, I did not fully appreciate how much of my life was about to revolve around pee and poop. Dealing with poopy cloth diapers is a logistical (and real-life) mess when you’re traveling.
photo by Nate Grigg
Dream #7: Never Arguing in Front of the Baby
Children learn how to interact with others by watching you interact. Arguing in front of your kid also causes him anxiety, because it makes the home feel less secure. My husband and I were going to absolutely save those heated discussions for nap time or after baby bed time. Our son would grow up not knowing that arguing was a thing.
Why I caved: Real life, y’all. Sometimes things just come to a head, and you and your spouse have a spontaneous little argument.