I remember staring in shock at my pregnancy test. It was March of 2020, and the pandemic had finally made it’s way to the U.S. states and territories. I had been so busy at work managing multiple projects and then jumping into the intial pandemic response that I had missed all the tell-tale signs.
The brain fog, lethargy, increasing irritability. All things I had blamed on work and the impending doom and gloom of COVID-19. How the heck was I going to make it through this pandemic with first responder responsibilities, children, and now a pregnancy.
I’m not going to lie to you — 2020 was the most challenging year of my entire life. It brought the need for self-care to a whole other level. Here’s what I learned about being pregnant during a pandemic.
Things I Absolutely Weren’t Prepared For
Delayed anxiety response to events. As an expecting mom, you worry about everything. You have to learn what foods to avoid and what to eat more of. You need to check on whether that one glass of wine is really okay. And you learn to be extra vigilant about avoiding people during the flu season.
Being pregnant during the COVID-19 pandemic put my anxiety on overdrive. On top of all the regular worries, now here’s the threat of a new, dangerous bug to try to keep away from myself and my child. I would say my regular pregnancy anxiety definitely doubled this time around.
But how it often manifested was different than before. Because I had to keep it together to maintain life and sanity for my kids, I ended up shuffling all of my emotions away from sight in a secret little box in my head. And ever so often, the box will overflow, and the overwhelm would literally take my breath away.
My advice to you is not to do this. Find a way to process the emotions you are going through every single day. These are tough times, and we really need to do more to take care of ourselves and reach for support from others.
Devastating loss of community. One of the best things about being pregnant is sharing your news with family and other loved ones. People want touch and hold you. Little ones love feeling the baby kick. There are parties, photoshoots, and showers and other various forms of celebrations.
Unfortunately, COVID almost completely wiped that away. The sense of community and togetherness created by an unborn child was stifled by the requirements of social distancing. I have never felt as isolated during a pregnancy as I had this last year.
Each of my pregnancies was a huge deal! I visited people and had visitors often. Even at birth my room was filled with family and a friend or two. And as soon as my child was vaccinated (yes, I’m THAT mom), I made sure to place them in the arms of many loved ones for previously forbidden hugs, snuggles, and photoshoots.
I missed my pregnancy and birth routines cultivated to create connections with my little one and my loved ones.
What I wished I had done differently was to get over my dislike of the phone and disinterest in social media to share more of my days while pregnant with my friends. If you’re a pregnant mom reading this, consider doing these things if you aren’t already. And maybe zoom video party calls with your loved ones. It really does make a difference.
Things I Got Secretly Depressed About
Visiting the doctor by myself. Because of my husband’s high risk job, and because of the limitations put into place at various businesses, I went to every single one of my doctor’s appointments by myself. Every OBGYN visit, ultrasound visit, lab visits . . . everything.
Of course, if I absolutely needed his support at any one of those events, we would have found a way to make it work. But we couldn’t justify unnecessarily exposing others to COVID for simple checkups. And it was also more important for him to stay with our older children.
Instead, I recorded and sent him pictures anytime I could.
Still, if you’re unable to go to visits with your partner or supportive loved one, consider recording the events. Take tons of pictures of you in the lobby, in the waiting room before the doctor comes in, leaving the appointment. And make sure to record the ultrasound and first time hearing the heartbeat of your little one.
Don’t underestimate how these little things can help buffer the distance a bit.
Needing little to no maternity clothes. This could be seen as a plus by more frugal moms. But, I absolutely love being pregnant, and wearing maternity clothes is so much fun. Unfortunately, with all the limitations on social distancing and the ability to work from home, there was no way to really justify a new wardrobe.
Instead, I had six solid pieces of clothing I mixed and match to get me through my pregnancy. I had four dresses, two sleeveless tops, and two stretch pants. And I hardly got to wear any of them, wearing one dress only about five times, mainly to appointments.
I relied a lot on accessories to change up my looks, and think I did a pretty great job. But, looking back, I could’ve bought a couple more outfits, even if to wear at home.
My advice to you if you’re in this predicament is to not be wary of dressing up and looking your best at home. Rather than see it as a waste of money, I should have seen it as an opportunity to pamper myself and celebrate my little one. I probably would have had the desire to take and share more pictures if I had done so in the first place.
The #1 Thing That Made Me Smile
People who love you always find a way. This was a very different pregnancy than my two previous experiences. As I mentioned, one of the biggest things for me is folding into my community during pregnancy. And while I hate being put in the spotlight, I always enjoy looking back on my baby shower events.
But, just because we couldn’t have a traditional baby shower doesn’t mean I didn’t celebrate with my friends.
Although my husband is terrible at secrets, he worked with a good friend of mine to plan a drive-by baby shower! I knew something was going, but had no idea what the event really was.
Following instructions, I got dressed up, and stood by the door. Soon, along with the sound of celebratory music, I heard the tell-tale tooting of horns as a motorcade of cars driven by my best of friends drove down my street.
They had made a lovely banner, and dropped off cake, cookies, and gifts for the baby. They came in masks and with sanitizers to quickly share their love and well-wishes before heading back home for the day. I was touched beyond belief at how thoughtful, kind, and considerate they all were.
So don’t you worry too much. Because even if the worst of times, the people you love can find little ways to help you keep your spirits up.
What about you? Did you or a loved one experience pregnancy and a birth during the pandemic? Comment below and share your own experience and advice.
It is hard being a working mom during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as I am considered an essential worker…
Believe you me, I am exhausted.
Where I live, we are at the very beginning of the infection curve. In other words, we are just starting to get COVID-19 cases. But I am already drained and am seriously wondering how I am going to get through another 2 months of this.
Both my husband and I are “essential workers”, which means, no sheltering-in-place for us. So somehow, we have to juggle life with two kids, full-time jobs…and no form of childcare whatsoever.
I don’t want to sound ungrateful…
I know many people have, are, and will continue to lose their livelihood as this pandemic progresses. We are blessed to be able to still pull in both incomes from a dual-income household.
But we are also worried about being exposed to the virus in our work activities and, even worse, bringing it home to our kids. Yes, kids are the not super high at risk, but tell that to the parents of those in the 1%.
Plus, our local healthcare system is still devastated from recent natural disasters. The reality of them becoming super overwhelmed extremely quickly is very real.
On a lesser but still stressful note, even with two full-time jobs, we have now become full-time teachers for both our kids, one of which has 3 separate homework packages due to current educational needs.
And, let’s just say my part-time business is crawling along…very limply.
So, every day now, I focus on doing three things to get through it all: remembering my value-based priorities, protecting my energy, and sticking only to reputable and necessary news for COVID-19 updates.
I discuss a bit more in detail below how doing these three things are helping me, and could possible help you too.
TIP #1 – Remember your value-based priorities.
The pandemic has almost everyone scared, worried, and anxious. And as a result, it threatens to take over every single moment of our waking thoughts. To combat this a bit, what I’ve been doing is focusing on my priorities before COVID-19.
Of course, at first I had to outline plans to prepare my family to shelter in place for a pretty long time. But after those preparations, it was time to gather myself again…even just a little bit.
Previously, I talked about my priorities based on my values. I realized that they are (1) spending quality time with family and friends, (2) having a healthy working life, and (3) having time for just myself.
So yes, even though we are in the middle of a pandemic, my overarching values haven’t changed, and neither do my pandemic-preparation priorities conflict with my value-based ones.
Now, everyday I focus on the joy of being able to spend time with family. I also make sure to connect with other loved ones at least once a day.
I love my job and my business, so with that priority, I make sure to balance the load there as well. I cannot and do not say yes to everything, and am very vocal about resources that are needed to continue to fight the good fight.
When I am home with my kids, I only respond to absolute work emergencies and I make that clear to my team. And I have cut back on part-time business hours a bit as exhaustion ruins my creativity anyhow. I refuse to beat myself up about any of it and acknowledge that we are all pretty much doing the best we can.
And I am not apologetic about asking for a few moments for myself. Thankfully, my husband has been doing a great job balancing the load and helps me find a bit of down time to recover from it all.
Remembering my priorities, especially as they are tied to my core-values and innate happiness, has helped ease a lot of the pandemic-related stress.
TIP #2 – Protect your energy by any means necessary.
The most important thing for me at this time is to protect my energy. I do this by making sure that I am taking my multi-vitamins every day, eating as well as possible and on time throughout the day, and getting to sleep on time.
I also have cut back on time spent navigating through apps on my phone. I have done this a lot before, but realized that my anxiety had me slipping back to relentlessly checking for anything I may have “missed”.
With the kids, I have relaxed a lot of my expectations with them having a rigid schedule or only certain hours of television time. Truth be told, I am happy as long as there is a good enough mix of physically and mentally stimulating activities during the day.
It may be a bit easier for me though because my kids are very naturally active (absolutely genetic, nothing to do with my “greatness” as a mom…I lucked out). So they love running up and down and doing tons of hands-on activities, many times without prompting.
Overall, as a still-working momma, it is just very important to cultivate good, healthy energy levels to battle the inevitable anxiety caused by the unknowns of the unfolding coronavirus pandemic. It also helps because of the extra energy expended to meet increased parenting and work-related responsibilities.
TIP #3 – Stick only to reliable and necessary news alerts.
This is partially a protection of energy, but it is such an important tip that it deserves its own section.
We are being inundated with news and social media posts about the coronavirus pandemic. And too much of it is often very misleading, sensationalized, or completely untrue.
Coronavirus is not man-made. Stay away from conspiracy theories. Here’s the truth as of today. The coronavirus is not man-made. Period. Diseases have existed since the beginning of time. There is no perfect world where diseases do not exist, no perfect period of time where people have not died from disease. Period.
Here’s the truth about the numbers. Most people (80%) with coronavirus will experience mild symptoms, and completely recover. Most of the remaining 20% will be hospitalized with severe symptoms…but recover with adequate healthcare. And a smaller percentage will unfortunately pass away (mainly because of underlying conditions…some just because sometimes life totally sucks). And yes, the virus primarily affects elderly folks, although no age group is immune.
Is that a good thing? No. Absolutely not.
Any death from a disease is one death too many. And too many people needing medical care at one time will crash our medical system—which affects everybody. (So, yes, social distancing is a necessary evil in these times.)
Here are some other truths: Yes, washing hands frequently help. Yes, we need to leave N95s for actual healthcare personnel. Yes, people may be asymptomatic and still spread the virus (hence, social distancing). Yes, coronavirus can stay on surfaces for several hours, even days outside of the body (hence, frequent cleaning and social distancing).
So what should you do as a responsible parent and adult? Stick to trusted news and advice.
To fill that void, I have become a hard core Audible fan (which I mentioned in my favorite things for moms list). But most recently, I have fully subscribed to the world of podcasts.
Now, I hate talk radio. I’ve always hated talk radio. Interrupting my song and dance to chat was the most grating thing for me ever. And before, I really felt that I would hate podcasts just like I did talk radio.
But, I don’t. Suprisingly, I absolutely love them and can’t imagine how I survived without them before. The freedom of being both entertained and informed on-the-go is key to my peace of mind.
So if you’re a busy mom like me, missing your favorite types of shows, here is a list of podcasts for your listening enjoyment.
Ok, disclaimer: I am actually not that much into politics. But, as a responsible adult and mother of future voters, I have to do a better job paying attention to that world.
I mean, come on. I blinked and ended up in the most…interesting…presidency in the history of America.
That’s where the NPR Politics Podcast comes in.
The daily podcast provides highlights in politics every day, with a good dose of humor mixed in with factual insights. I appreciate their ability to provide content mostly bias-free.
I especially appreciate that they do so in bite-size doses, with episodes ranging from 15 to 20 minutes on average.
This podcast keeps me abreast of US politics without eating up tons of time. It is a win-win in my book.
2. The Daily Show with Trevor Noah: Ears Edition
Just saying the name of this podcast cracks me up. I absolutely adore Trevor Noah. Granted, The Daily Show is very biased in all things politics (not saying I disagree, but opinions are clearly, unapologetically made). But Trevor has the right dose of humor to make each news item pretty memorable.
The show presents the most interesting news in America at the time, and invites very influential guest speakers to discuss their latest projects or controversies. Just recently, Oprah Winfrey was a guest on this show.
The humor can be a bit crude, so be aware of that. But it definitely gets my seal of approval for busy mom listening, especially as the episodes also tend to be on the shorter side.
Subscribe if you can handle the raunchy flavor of the show, but make sure not to listen with little ears around. And it’s definitely NSFW (not safe for work).
3. The Double Shift
Recently I found myself needing a little outside perspective on motherhood. A quick search brought me to the podcast The Double Shift, and another one (Big Little Choices) that I’ll talk about in a bit.
The podcast focuses on this generation of working moms, and the unique challenges they face. The first episode starts of with rocker mom Louisa who is balancing her love of the band life with parenthood.
What I love about this podcast is that (so far) these women don’t necessarily just subscribe to what society expects of them as women and mothers. Instead, they are paving their own paths to best achieve the goals and vision of their new selves and their family life.
If you need some inspiration breaking through the parenting status quo, check this podcast out.
4. Big Little Choices
Big Little Choices is the other mom/parenting podcast that I enjoy listening to. The podcast’s creator Sri Bodanapu began this venture after realizing that, regardless of the abundance of parenting information and advice, only making the choices that felt authentic to herself brought her confidence and peace of mind about her decisions as a mom.
Along the same vein, this podcast takes a look at very diverse communities of parents all making big little choices of their own. They discuss their insecurities, the reason behind their choices, and how their hard decisions have impacted their lives.
Listening to this podcast reminds me that parenting is a series of decisions and imperfect actions, especially unique to each individual. And at the end of the day, most of us have no idea what we’re doing, but we are doing the absolute best we can anyway.
As a working mom-preneur with 1-year-old business, I am pretty much still learning the ropes of effective marketing. There are plenty of marketing podcasts out there–trust me, I have listened to quite a few. But I have found few as interesting as Amy Porterfield’s.
Amy provides easily digestible nuggets of marketing information in a friendly, easy-on-the-ears, and bubbly manner. Her podcasts usually seem to run 30 to 50 minutes, but I actually never really notice because it feels like I am listening to an old friend.
She seems pretty down-to-earth and provides actionable advice in a non-condescending way. This makes it pretty easy for beginners like me to get moving without feeling belittled or overwhelmed.
From lessons learned to key tips on digital marketing strategies to build your business, Amy’s podcast comes highly recommended. If you are a mom-preneur, be sure to check it out!
So that’s it, a quick round up of my current list of podcast favorites.
What about you? Do any of these fall on you list? Or do you have suggestions of your own.
I have finally started working out again, although not quite on my own terms. Sadly, I have gained 50 pounds over the last 10 years. And that’s after working out really hard to lose 30 lbs before then.
It’s hard figuring the time to workout consistently as a busy career mom, but I promise you it is achievable. In this post, I will share with you my personal challenges with weight loss, and what I have started to do to address it.
Don’t get me wrong—there are times when I am exhausted, drained to the point of tears. But those moments don’t put a dent into the joy of having my kids in my life.
No matter how much you plan out your life when you’re thinking about having children, you can never really plan for the many ways their presence in your life just amazes you.
Here are 3 surprising reasons why I absolutely adore being a mom.
Being a mom, you get to experience unconditional love.
My favorite thing about being a mom is loving my kids. My next favorite thing is being loved right back.
My kids love me no matter how crazy my hair looks, or how stinky my morning breath is. They love me at my worst and at my best.
Sticky hugs and wet smooches are kind of gross, but also absolutely perfect. And the “I love you more than…” competition we hold all the time is more touching than any conversation I’d ever had before.
Right now, my kids are still little. So I am breathing all of this ongoing love right in— I hear the little stinkers get a tad bit moody as teenagers. Well, since they are not there yet, here are all the things they let me do.
They let me snuggle their little necks almost every day, and get nose-ys by rubbing our noses together in a show of affection.
As I drop them off to school, I get to do a little good-bye routine with both sons, consisting of head kisses, hugs, and “have a good day, be a good boy” speeches with my eldest…
And a hug, kiss, then hand pound leading to hand explosion routine reminiscent of a bro-to-bro greeting with the littlest.
I get to tease them by sniffing their “stink” arms and having tickle fights…
And they love every minute of it just like I do.
Loving my kids was something I expected to do. I just truly didn’t realize that they would also love me back just as much!
Being a mom, you get to have a house full of laughter.
Kids are absolutely hilarious. When Axel was little, he used to rock out to two songs by Rihanna. It was completely unexpected the first time he did it and completely cracked me up.
Before he could even enunciate, he would sit there in his car seat, shaking his head and clapping his hands to the rhythm, occasionally shouting the words or lines he knew or liked the best. All the high energy ones of course.
My husband and I just adored it and sang along with him the entire car ride.
It is no surprise that the first time he ever really spoke in public was to belt out a tune on a mic for his preschool graduation. I cried and laughed at the same time.
Then there was the time that Idris won at hide-and-seek…even though he almost gave us a heart attack in the process.
The kids always hid under a blanket after bath time, certain they had completely disappeared. We would pretend to have just found them every single time.
They slowly expanded their hiding places, giggling audibly as we “searched” for our missing children.
One day, Idris ran to hide. But we didn’t realize it for a few minutes, until Axel called out looking for him. He didn’t respond as usual, nor did we hear any giggling to pinpoint his location.
After a few moments of true panic (he had learned to open doors, so we were worried he may have gotten out or hurt somewhere), we found him hiding between the couch and the back wall.
And he absolutely cracked up as soon as we found him. So did we. Idris had learned to properly hide…and gave us panic attacks in the process.
Not a single day passes where something funny doesn’t happen in our house. It’s either something the kids did, we did, something we saw on television, something from our memory.
Our house is one often filled with peals of laughter, and joy.
Being a mom, you get to start every day with morning cuddles.
It is 4:46 AM as I type this up. And snuggling along the length of my body is my preschooler Idris. He should be asleep, but I took an early shower this morning at the noise woke him up…
I foresee an early bedtime for him tonight.
It actually doesn’t matter what time I get up, there is always a bright, welcoming face there to greet me. No matter what mood I’m in or how worried I am about my day, my kids don’t care about all of that. They come and shower with love, hugs, and kisses as soon as their own day begins.
I’m not going to lie, I used to get frustrated with them when I tried to get up before everyone to squeeze in additional tasks for the day. But one day I sat back and really thought about it.
It dawned on me how blessed I was to be this loved, and how much I should appreciate it before they have grown and left to have families of their own in a blink of an eye.
So I stop my never-ending task list to bask in their cuddles, and shape my body to cradle my children as I work…if they let me get back to work.
Sure, I don’t get as much work done as I would like to sometimes. But, I wouldn’t exchange those sweet moments for anything in the world.
I had certain expectations about being a mom, but there were so many things that I had not expected. Through all of lifes ups and downs, good times and bad, my kids are still the greatest gifts I have ever been given.
They make every day worth living. And I couldn’t imagine being this happy in a world without them.
What about you? What are your top favorite things about being a mom?
Parenting quotes are some of my favorite things to reflect on, especially when I am experiencing a particularly challenging day as a mom.
They bring me great insight into the problem at hand, or at least improves my mood and my sense of humor about being a parent.
Out of the hundreds of quotes I have come across, these are the 10 quotes that I believe every parent should read, appreciate, and keep on hand.
“Never do for a child what he is capable of doing for himself.”
—Elizabeth Hainstock, author, educator
Seeing your child grow up is bittersweet. Of course you want them to become independent individuals, but you also miss the sweet moments snuggling in their soft little necks, cradling them in your arms.
Still, the joy at seeing my kids learn to do things on their own is rivaled only by their hugs and I-love-You’s. Stuff like tying their own shoelaces, putting on their own pull-ups, feeding themselves with a spoon.
I made the mistake with my eldest son of not realizing that it was okay for him to try being more independent much earlier—even if that meant bigger messes and later mornings.
But by stepping back and giving him room to grow, his confidence also grew by leaps and bounds.
Letting your child do for his/herself is sometimes hard, but it is one of the best things we can teach our children.
“I came to parenting the way most of us do — knowing nothing and trying to learn everything.”
— Mayim Bialik, actress and neuroscientist
As a new mother, I quickly realized I had no real idea about what I was doing. No matter the number of articles and books I had read on parenting, nor the lessons I thought I picked up from being parent-ed.
It truly was a learn-on-the-job type of training.
Every day of being a mom is a learning experience. I never know in advance the full picture of my children’s needs and wants.
They could wake up in the best and most cooperative mood, making the morning routine a complete breeze. Or they can be moody and uncooperative, refusing to eat anything, or put on their carefully laid out clothing.
They may be running a fever though they were perfectly fine the night before. Or maybe they came home from school sad because a friend said something mean.
Every moment of the day is unpredictable. And how I need to respond for each child can vary widely. Being a parent means dedicating yourself to growing and learning everyday.
“Everyone should have kids. They are the greatest joy in the world. But they are also terrorists. You’ll realize this as soon as they’re born, and they start using sleep deprivation to break you.”
— Ray Romano, actor and comedian
This is one of those quotes that are hilarious, but also very accurate. Kids are amazing. They are my greatest joy. But they are little destroyers.
It was only when my eldest son turned 9 that I realized I hadn’t actually had a full night’s sleep in almost a decade. Between my parent anxieties and his sleepwalking and restlessness, my sleep was consistently disturbed night after night.
When my littlest one came along, he was a hyperactive little bundle of energy. Unlike his brother, who was deceptively calm and easygoing for the first half of his life, little Idris was a true terror.
He ran, jump, and hurdled his little body everywhere. He was loud and demanding…and still is as evidenced by the roaring lion that runs past my back as I type.
And the list of items that have been broken and destroyed by their antics are too numerous (and painful) to mention.
Kids are terrorists…but they are the most loveable bunch of you’re sure to ever meet.
“Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.”
― Benjamin Spock, pediatrician
Okay, I know this seems in direct contradiction to Myam Bialik’s quote, but stay with me here because it really isn’t.
Before becoming a parent, you think you know everything. How patient and supportive you will be. How you will never have a child that throws a tantrum, embarrassing you in the middle of the busy food aisle.
Then you become a parent, and all your preconceived notions fly out the window. You think to yourself, “I actually don’t know jack about this gig.”
But, let’s take a step back.
Yes, it’s true that you really just learn as you go. But the way you know whether you are making good decisions for you and your family is because you actually do know more than you think.
If you are an attentive and loving parent, then you know that Johnny is fussing because he wants his binky. You know that your child is throwing a tantrum in the food aisle because they missed their nap time. You know that Janet is giving you a hard time with her math homework because she feels that she’s not a smart enough kid to figure things out.
You know that you have to do a 3-step good-by routine before dropping Shaun off to daycare makes the day better and easier for him and his caregivers. You know that a kid-friendly early morning workout helps keep your energetic child focused and easier to handle throughout the day.
And you know that a 30-minute television break after school helps Brittany focus better on her chores and homework after school.
Pay attention to the individual needs of each of your kids and trust your instincts. If something feels wrong with a parenting choice and vice versa, then it most likely is.
“My worst parenting moments, the ones I am least proud of, happened because I was trying to impress a bunch of strangers I’ll probably never see again.”
— Janel Mills, blogger
As an 80’s baby, I grew up in a period where parents strongly believed that their children were a direct reflection of themselves…and their parenting style.
Because of this, parents (like mine) were “embarrassed” whenever their children displayed less than perfect behavior. A child received extra discipline if they stained the family name by misbehaving at school, church, grocery stores, public events, etc.
As a mom, I vowed never to discipline my child solely for the benefit of others, strangers or otherwise. And this has made a huge difference with how I interact with my kids both at home and in the presence of others.
Whenever either of my kids were “acting up” while we were out, I found myself starting to react because of how other’s were perceiving my mothering style.
That initially reaction made me what to lash out and loudly chastise my children to “get them in control”. It wanted me to be harsh and unforgiving. It wanted me to forget that children are sometimes just that…children.
They don’t have the advantage of the years we do as adults to learn to restraint and control. We are teaching them this, but they won’t be perfect at it for a very long time.
As I pull myself from the brink of hulk-smash parenting mode, I remind myself that my parenting style is not and should never be solely dictated by others.
And each and every time I have reflected on my personalized style of parenting that works for my family, I may feel burnt out and frazzled, but I do not feel embarrassed at how I responded to my own children.
Don’t let strangers dictate how you interact with your child. Be an attentive, loving, and open-minded parent, but don’t let your actions be directed by people who have zero investment in your little ones.
“The best way to keep children at home is to make the home atmosphere pleasant, and let the air out of the tires.”
— Dorothy Parker, poet, writer, critic, and satirist
This is also another funny quote that is 100% on the money.
I remember when returning back home from school my mom offered for me to live with her. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my mom.
She raised her kids by herself without any real support system for half of her parenting years. Her authoritative parenting style, however, does not resonate well with my personality. We never really developed a deep mother-daughter connection, and I sought independence at a very early age. Living with her as an adult was not in the least bit an exciting thought.
Although this quote is talking about kids that are a bit younger, the lessons I learned from being a child that wanted to get away sticks with me today. They remind me that I want to do things a bit differently with my kids.
So for me, I create an environment where my kids not only feel safe, but always loved. That they feel interesting as a person, not just based on what they can achieve.
I spend time talking to my kids about their days and nights, so that when they grow up they still feel like I am someone they can connect with. I give them their space to learn what they like and don’t, and learn how to interact with their peers in a low-pressure setting.
Neither of my kids are teenagers as yet, but I hope I am balancing love, mentorship, and discipline enough to keep them from running away from me and home until it really is time for them to spread their wings.
And I hope they’ll at least want to visit me on special occasions because they really miss me, not just out of obligation.
“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”
— James Baldwin, novelist, playwright, essayist, poet, and activist
Truer words never spoken James.
Children are such pains in the butts. You can tell Charles a hundred times not to jump off the sofa…and I can guarantee you will have to tell him the same exact thing a hundred more times after.
It is funny how kids just impulsively do things. On more than one occasion I have asked Axel why he did something—like maybe broken a piece of furniture or a pair of headphones. Imagine my shock when he looked at me the first time and says with complete confusion and honest, “Mom…I don’t know.”
But even if a child doesn’t listen to you most times, you better believe they are always watching you.
They are watching how you talk to others, how you behave while under stress, how you show love, anger, and other emotions. They are watching and learning from your behavior.
Which is why as parents we need to model how we want our children to behave. Because they will always do a better job consistently following your behavior than your words.
It reminds me of a time that my son began shouting at his classmates when “instructing them” in class. I realized then that I had been raising my voice recently in the house, screaming instructions rather than having discussions like I had before.
I immediately worked on correcting that behavior on my part, and discussing with my son the proper tone in which to speak with others. Of course, he only really understood what I meant when I displayed this “proper” behavior.
Remember, your little terrorists are always watching. Model the behavior that you want them to learn.
“Everybody knows how to raise children, except the people who have them.”
— P.J. O’Rourke, political satirist and journalist
Oye. Sad to say it, but I was definitely one of these people.
You know them, the Mr. and Ms. Know-it-alls. They look down their noses at you if your kid hits another kid on the playground. Or they know exactly what you need to do to get your child to bed on time, sleeping through the night, before the kid even breaks the 3-month mark.
These are the people that are certain about all of the tings you are doing wrong with your child, and also certain that they have the formula all figured out. Because, you know, parenting is just as easy as 1 + 1 = 2.
Oh, did I forget to mention…none of them actually has children of their own.
Like Bialik implied above, we come to parenting really knowing nothing—definitely knowing much less than we thought we did. But to lightly rephrase Spock’s quote as well, we can trust that we will figure it out.
So yes, the world around you will judge you at times, will express little faith in your ability to properly raise your children. But do your best to figure it out day-by-day and you’ll be fine.
Leave the holier-than-thou non-parent parenting experts in their own little bubbles. Besides, life will squarely hit them in the face one day…just like it did me.
“It is time for parents to teach young people that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.”
—Maya Angelou, author, actress, screenwriter, dancer, poet and civil rights activist
As an American mom of brown babies, the challenges that we face due to issues with diversity are huge.
And people are not just being judged according to the color of their skin, they are also being judged because of their relationship preferences, gender identification, political beliefs, religious beliefs, cultural origins, able-bodiness, and much more.
It is definitely the time for parents to teach the beauty about diversity and inclusiveness. But I argue that it is actually pass time for us to do so.
Just look at the world around you. The beauty in a field of flowers are the various shapes, sizes, and colors of those fields. The variety of creatures they attract, their critical role they play in environmental balance.
There is beauty and strength in diversity, much beyond even our wildest imaginations, if we all just open ourselves up to the possibilities.
“One thing I had learned from watching chimpanzees with their infants is that having a child should be fun.”
— Jane Goodall, primatologist and anthropologist
I love this quote so very much that I wanted to end this post on it.
Being a parent is hard. I feel that is especially hard for us working moms in these modern times.
We struggle every morning with getting our kids ready and out the door while we head to work and school.
We struggle with homework, career needs, homemaker activities, and maintaining our own adult relationships.
We struggle with potty training, bedtimes, brushing teeth, dinner menus, and tantrums.
But even with all of this on our plate (and more), we should never forget that having children should be fun. That being a parent should be fun.
In between it all, let’s remember to have fun with this gig. Instead of always focusing on everything that needs to be done, remember to enjoy your role and your little ones. Because they all do really grow up much too fast.
If you like these quotes and would like to have a beautiful quotes slideshow for your computer background, click here to download a file I have put together just for you. And remember to follow my blog to get notifications of future parenting and lifestyle posts by yours truly.
Plus, let’s chat a bit. What are some of your favorite parenting quotes? Any of the ones I picked a personal favorite?
The first time I laid eyes on my firstborn, I knew exactly what type of mom I was. I was fiercely and ferociously protective of him. I would make sure he would never get so much as a bruise…so help me God.
And that’s how it starts out. You fall in love with your kid at first sight. You vow to protect them from all and every single thing. Next thing you know, you’re a helicopter parent.
I am sure you’ve heard the terms before, and probably have some idea that it probably is not the best type of parenting.
In this post, I’ll show you what I learned about helicopter parenting in my journey to improve my very flawed parenting style and ideals. And helicopter parenting is definitely high on the list of my greatest struggles.
I will define helicopter parenting, describe how people become a helicopter parenting, explain why being a helicopter parent is a terrible thing for your child, and finally give you pointers on how to avoid being a helicopter parent.
By the end of this chat, you’ll know if you really are a helicopter parent (which I definitely was), and understand what you need to do to improve your parenting style. Trust me, these tips worked wonders for me and my family.
So, let’s dive in.
What is a helicopter parent?
The term helicopter parenting was first introduced in the 1990 book Parenting With Love and Logic authored by Foster Cline and Jim Fay, two researchers in the child development field. The current Wikipedia definition of a helicopter parent is someone “who takes an overprotective or excessive interest in the life of their child or children”.
But, because as with most things that can be widely left to interpretation, I like my expanded definition a bit better.
My idea of a helicopter parent is a person that is constantly hovering over their child’s every move, which doesn’t allow for said child to learn any sign of independence.
Being invested in your child is fine. But when you find yourself wiping your fully-abled child’s butt at the age of 10, completing your teenager’s homework and projects, and arguing with a college professor about your adult child’s grades, you have probably become a helicopter parent.
This mismatch is the core of the dysfunctional parent-child relationship in helicopter parenting.
It can help to think about it in terms of not properly responding to a child’s needs. A child’s needs differ for every age group. Every newborn cry expresses their need for something—whether its milk, a fresh diaper, treatment for an illness, or the warmth of a hug. As they grow, children need to learn new things.
They need to learn how to tie their own shoelaces and feed themselves with a fork. They need to learn how to do math and interact with others. They need to learn how to think logically and how to stand up for themselves when needed. At every step, children learn a new thing to help them become independent, happy, positive, and productive members of society.
And our job as a parent is to help meet our child’s needs so that we can improve the chances that they meet this goal.
The problem with a helicopter parent is their misguided attempt to meet the needs of their children—their parenting style does not grow to match the needs of their growing kids as they move from one stage of development to the next. You are left with parents using skills better suited for a newborn to raise a teenaged child.
This mismatch is the core of the dysfunctional parent-child relationship in helicopter parenting.
Why is helicopter parenting bad?
According to the Self-Determination Theory by Edward Deci and Richard Ryan, these are the three basic needs for healthy development in humans:
Confidence in one’s abilities and accomplishments
Feeling loved and cared for
The reason that helicopter parenting is a terrible parenting style is because it prevents your child’s needs from being met.
Helicopter parenting crushes your child’s sense of autonomy.
People want to feel independent, having the ability to make their own choices and live their lives on their own terms. Helicopter parents take away a child’s autonomy because they make all their children’s decisions.
Many times it is not in ill will—as in my case, I was doing so because I knew best and wanted to prevent my child from feeling any pain whatsoever. But as my eldest grew older, I realized that he struggled to do the simplest tasks for himself, expressing a lot of nervousness and fear of failure. I had not done enough to let him find his sense of autonomy.
Helicopter parenting does not allow room for growth in your child.
And growth is essential to a child learning how to be confident in themselves and their abilities.
In my opinion, the sense of autonomy feeds into this confidence. Someone who practices making their own decisions start to have faith in their ability to make choices and successfully take action. A child that has had the opportunity to do both from a young age will have a head start at being a confident person.
The more we stifle our child’s autonomy by taking complete control of their lives, the more we stifle their ability to grow and eventually learn how to be confident in themselves.
Helicopter parenting may feel good at first, but will start to cause resentment and conflict later on.
A child with a helicopter parent will feel completely loved when they are little. This is a time when their need for love and attention, and a safe controlled environment is highest. But as I mentioned before, needs change as children grow.
As a child’s needs are at conflict with your parenting style, the more likely it is that the child will become resentful of the parent. Resentfulness usually goes hand-in-hand with other feelings, like anger and unhappiness. These are feelings that can systematically attack the walls of your relationship with your child, leading to your child not feeling truly loved…at least not the way they need to be.
Every adult child of an overprotective helicopter parent that I have ever met has continued to struggle with conflicting feelings towards their parents, and are more sure of their parent’s need for control than whether their parent actually loved them.
Helicopter parenting can negatively impact a child’s mental health and social skills.
Sure helicopter parenting means that children may experience less broken bones and bruises in childhood—it’s not like those parents outside free play and exploration of the world outside that may lead to the occasional bump or fall.
But the dangers of helicopter parenting are heavy, impacting children into adulthood. Children of helicopter parents suffer from:
Poor social skills
Children of helicopter parents suffer from anxiety because they have no confidence in their abilities and have a higher than normal fear of the world around them. They have low self-esteem and self-confidence because they were not given the space to grow and blossom. They have poor social skills because they were not given an opportunity to interact with others on their own terms, to navigate relationships and conflicts on their own. And they are angry because they don’t want to be anxious/depressed, unconfident, socially awkward, and scared or worried all the time.
It is difficult for these children to become positive, happy, and productive members of society, which is what we should really want for our children.
It is clear that this parenting style is very flawed and one that we should avoid if we want to parent in the way that is best for our children.
How to stop being a helicopter parent.
Now that you have gone through this post, you probably understand by now whether or not you are a helicopter parenting. You may even have been able to pinpoint some of the reasons why you became this type of parent in the first place.
Have no fear, if you are a helicopter mom, it’s not too late to find a more centered and effective form of parenting. Here are some things you can do to leave your helicopter parenting style behind.
Use journaling to work out your helicopter parenting shortcomings.
Journaling is a well-known tool to use for a variety of goals. It helps you with meal-planning, setting goals, outlining new articles, planning your entire life, and…helicopter parenting.
How to use a journal to improve your parenting style is by documenting your thoughts and feelings every time you feel the need to do something insanely overprotective. Describe the situation and why you wanted to resort to overaggressive parenting. What were you feeling at the time? Was your response primarily to address your own need to feel like an amazing parent, or to actually meet the need of your child at that moment?
Identifying the reason for your reaction and acknowledging your feelings about uncomfortable situations can help you plan to make better parenting decisions.
I remember having to make a firm decision about whether I would allow my child to play in my current neighborhood unattended. We live in a relatively calm area, but there are older folks more so than younger families with kids. I wanted him to go out and play and explore, but was wary that he would spend too much time without at least one parent close-by, or even playing by himself in too isolated an area.
Journaling helped me really decide what the best decision for my family was. I was able to outline my concerns, clarify which concerns were unrealistic and driven more by my personal anxiety, and determine how valid the key concerns were in these modern times.
This activity helped me to come up with a plan that I was able to justify to myself, my son, and my family, without being derailed by the blinding fear of a nervous parent.
Allow your child to have some autonomy.
Allow your child more control over their day-to-day activities. Attachment parenting is okay in my book for little babies, but you also need to put them down on their wee bellies so they can build strength and understanding of their bodies, eventually learning to move on their own.
For little kids, provide them with options to choose from. For example, ask your child what type of milk they prefer for breakfast, or have them choose their own book for bedtime.
For bigger kids, more autonomy would be allowing to complete their own homework mostly by themselves. You can provide some guidance and directions when they ask you, but let them work through the difficulty of figuring things out. There is no better way of teaching a child how to think for themselves by having them actually just do it.
Other ideas involve allowing playtime in a safe location without hovering over the children, letting your kid figure out how to solve their own arguments with their friends at first, and allowing your teenager privacy in their room and with their approved technology (outside of using regular parenting features).
Providing a safe and healthy environment that allows your kids to explore life as appropriate for each stage of development is the goal.
Make a list of actions items to undo your helicopter parenting behaviors.
Make a list of things you recognize yourself doing as a helicopter parent. Everybody’s list will be a little different, but just think of the areas where you can probably give your kid’s a bit of space.
For me, I had to learn to give my kid some breathing room when he was playing with his friends. I stopped hovering over him while he was working and was extra careful not to chastise him over minor mistakes (like spilling a little milk while making his cereal).
I stopped telling him what to think and instead started teaching him how to think. I did this by asking more exploratory questions that he had to really sit down and really mull over, and then asking him to come up with his own conclusions or solutions.
Come up with your own list, keeping in mind all the little ways you may be stifling your child’s growth daily. Then start undoing those behaviors bit by bit.
Remind yourself of the dangers of helicopter parenting.
Whenever you back-pedalled towards my helicopter ways, I reminded myself why doing so was a terrible idea.
A lot of my parenting styles stemmed from what I learned about parenting styles I observed as a child, and also from my fears and anxieties. What helped to put things into perspectives was to compare risks of one parenting choice over another.
Often times, I found that the fears driving my behavior was actually doing more harm than good to my child.
I was afraid of him being hurt by other kids being mean to him, so I hovered around during playtimes. But then I realized that this behavior was setting him up for continuous failure in the long run by ruining his ability to socialize with others. And our ability to socialize well is such a key part of our ability to function as adults, and key to our happiness and sense of belonging.
When I compared risks, him being hurt was temporary. Him learning on his own how to navigate relationships was necessary. Me buffering him from everything was actually more of a danger than what I was currently afraid of.
Check-in with your kids about potential helicopter parenting behaviors.
Consistently checking in with your kids is something that every parent should do, including reformed helicopter parents.
Check in to see how your kids are doing. Pay attention to the list of actions you are trying to undo, and if your kid has noticed a difference, ask them if they are feeling better or worse based on those changes.
Ask your kids directly if they feel you are hovering. And if they think you are, discuss some options that would work better that you both can agree on.
Stay in tune with your child and work on meeting them exactly where they need you too.
There are many reasons why parents turn into helicopter parenting. For me, I had a super sheltered upbringing for the most part. Without healthy examples of how to navigate parent-child interactions and to properly address concerns regarding my child, I initially resorted to unhealthy parenting styles. And being a helicopter parent was one of them.
But once I was able to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy parenting styles, I slowly worked towards improving my parenting style.
As a reformed helicopter parent, I also recommend these articles to help you on your journey:
“I’m not a parenting expert. In fact, I’m not sure that I even believe in the idea of ‘parenting experts.’ I’m an engaged, imperfect parent and a passionate researcher. I’m an experienced mapmaker and a stumbling traveler. Like many of you, parenting is by far my boldest and most daring adventure.”
It was an unexpected event that taught me key lessons about what it really takes to be a good parent. I remember it like it was yesterday…
There I was ruminating on the morning’s events. I had been fighting to get my stubborn preschooler to eat something…anything.
He didn’t want a sandwich, or cereal. No shake, or crackers. No fruit or yogurt or cheese. Especially because cheese was disgusting.
Seriously! What kid doesn’t love cheese?
On the kitchen table was a collection of uneaten meals, signs of my defeat. It was an ongoing war, and my kid was winning.
He was on hunger strike for a little over 12 hours. I had no idea what to do. Neither did my husband.
Watching him play in the yard, brows furrowed and hands wringing as I pondered this new dilemma, I hadn’t noticed when he picked the lemon off the ground.
Our lemon tree didn’t bear much fruit. I am not sure why, but it was not at its healthiest. We inherited the tree when we purchased the house, and I have no clue how to raise anything…trees and, sometimes, children.
And there were a few on the tree that were ripe for the picking. But my kid though, my kid, just had to pick the half rotten one from off the dirty ground.
Before I knew it, he had that rotten lemon in his mouth, chewing away at its citric center with a hint of grossness.
Staring at him blankly as I pulled myself out of my reverie, I didn’t say anything for a few moments…couldn’t say anything actually. Words failed me.
He’s eating a rotten lemon? He’s eating a rotten lemon?!
My God! I have been fighting with this kid for hours to eat 101 different plates of wholesome meals. We have a fridge full of good, safe food. And he chooses a disgusting, decaying fruited from the fracking ground to eat!
I was the most frustrated I had ever been on my parenting journey. My eyes were stinging with the tears threatening to break free…
But then…I laughed.
The laughter bubbled from deep in my belly. My shoulders shakes with the effort, my head flung back as I lifted my face to the heavens. I flung myself forward slapping one hand on my knees and grasping the other, off rhythm with the cadence of my laughter.
My son, who had already dropped the lemon after realizing he had been caught, started laughing with me. My husband appeared, joining us in our laughter, even more so after I had been able to squeeze out an explanation between bursts of giggles.
Of course this kid, our kid, would forage in the wild for food, even as his actual home was overflowing with healthy goods. Since when do kids do anything that makes a lick of sense?
That was one of the first times I truly realized that you cannot actually control the actions of children. You can guide them, provide them with instruction and good options, and sometimes they will still go and eat that dang rotten lemon.
You should accept that parenting is an adventure.
Being a parent is my greatest adventure. And with every child, it is an adventure into the unknown.
Both of my kids are so different, in looks, actions, beliefs, needs, and more. The “maps” that worked for my friends kids or family members does not work quite the same for me.
And that’s just the reality of parenting.
You are truly a map maker. And an ambitious, amateur one at that.
You are managing the road and hills of this journey, forging new paths almost every day. Sure, you can use other maps as a guide of sorts. But you will not make much progress on your journey without realizing that you are on a different journey…and therefore need a different map.
I had sought advice from my family and friends, and even web moms, on the situation. I tried many of the things they told me. And none of it worked.
We had to find our own solution.
It definitely wasn’t the one we had expected, but it worked. (He only wanted fruit loops cereal…not the healthiest but it got us through a few days. Yes, we did have him checked by our pediatrician to be sure.)
So accept that no matter how much you prepare to be a parent, your journey will be full of surprises—like my kid eating a rotten lemon after being on a forever-long hunger strike. Be prepared to draw your own map.
Research—being open to finding new, better solutions—is an important trait of every good parent.
Parenting philosophies have changed so much over the last 100 years. Even the concept of a teenager is something that is relatively new, happening after society transitioned away from an agricultural one.
So it is no surprise that what it meant to be a good parent 50 years ago is different than what it means now. And parenting tactics have to adjust accordingly.
Plus, what do you do before you take on any important task? You learn! You research and study everything you can about it. Well, at least you should.
And to me, being a mom is the most important job that I have.
We are preparing my little ones to go out into the world and functions happy, positive, and productive members of society. It is a very important role that we have chosen to take on.
So, read parenting books, sign up for parenting blogs, listen to podcasts on parenting, search online for information on parenting questions you might have.
Sure you will have to sift through some noise to figure out what aligns with your beliefs, guts, instincts and family dynamics, but it’s better than bumbling blindly along in the dark.
And I can’t describe the number of times that my parenting research has opened my mind to possibilities I had never considered before, such as developing a more authoritative parenting style.
Sometimes you may not find a solution, but even then you could develop a sense of solidarity finding that other parents are also experiencing similar challenges. Because your journey may be unique (queue rotten lemon horror), but the fact that parenting is often confusing and difficult is not a unique concept at all.
At the end of the day, we never stop learning as human beings, should we never stop learning as parents.
“Mistakes were made…and will continue to be made,” acknowledges every good parent everywhere.
I am perfectionist at heart. I despise making mistakes. If I had all the time in the world to make everything perfect, I would use it.
Thankfully, being a parent saved me from my self-imposed, unhealthy cycle in the search of perfection—because parenting is naturally anything and everything but perfect.
The truth is, you will never be a perfect parent because no one is. There never was and there never will be. But what you can be is the best parent you can be.
You will oversleep and be late for a game. You will forgot that one homework assignment that was due next week.
You will snap at your kids for doing annoying things. You will fall asleep in the middle of the bedtime story.
…You will miss the fact that your child is eating a rotten lemon in the yard.
Mistakes will be made. But it’s what you do after that really counts.
I prefer to laugh, if it wasn’t a tragic issue of course (leading to injury or something devastating). I laugh at myself, I laugh at the world, and I laugh at those crazy preconceived notions that I used to have about parenting.