Being True to You

 

My girls often times eat dinner before my husband and I. Having a 6-year-old and almost 1-year-old, they get hungry even before my husband gets home from work, so I will usually make them a kid-friendly meal and let them eat while I make something for my husband and I to have a bit later. This just works for our family.

 

Tonight, while the girls ate and I cooked the “adult” meal, I turned around and they were both eating happily as they watched a cartoon… gasp! I stopped in my tracks and felt really guilty for a minute as I saw them staring at the TV screen. Quotes from various parenting articles popped in my head… limit screen time, no electronics at dinner, eat together as a family, let your kids eat what you eat.

 

At that moment, my family, in my kitchen was violating multiple parenting no-nos. But, after I got over my fleeting moment of guilt, I noticed that my girls had both cleaned their plates, shared some laughs over a show they both actually like and I was able to cook a meal in peace. In my book, that’s a huge parenting win, so I can live with those “violations”!

 

We don’t always have separate meals at different times and they don’t always watch TV while eating, but you know what… sometimes they do! And sometimes they eat boxed macaroni and cheese, or stay in their pjs until noon. Sometimes we skip baths or don’t read a book before bed, but I’m okay with that.

 

We’re not a perfect, Pinterest family, and I’m okay with that too. What we are is busy and crazy and sometimes we yell or cry or laugh hysterically—we do what works for our family, and I’m okay with that!

 

Social media has presented an impossible set of standards for any parent to live up to, often leaving us feeling guilty for every choice we make. I can remember a time, with my first child, when I felt the pressure to make everything she ate from scratch, with only organic ingredients. I was killing myself with food prep and cooking. It was so time consuming that I felt it was taking away from what was really important, spending time with my family. I still believe it is important to use healthy, organic products, but I have learned to find a balance and not to stress over every morsel my kids put in their mouth. We have those important talks about nutrition and balance, but I’m not killing myself to make and force them to eat kale egg bites for breakfast.

 

Since having my second child, life is hectic. My 6-year-old is involved in sports and activities that keep us constantly on the go. So, I’m always grabbing a diaper and a bottle and running out the door. There was one time, we were out at a lunch playdate and I forgot to bring a change of clothes for my then 3-month-old who blew out her diaper, I managed to scrounge up a pair of pants and I had her jacket, so that’s what she wore until we got home. Once again, that guilt was there because I wasn’t properly prepared. But you know what, she was fine and content and managed to get in a great nap while we enjoyed lunch with friends.

 

I realize what is most important is making time for memories and just being a family. Being present in the here and now and enjoying it.

 

I can’t worry about being the perfect parent because honestly, there is no such thing. There are good days and there are bad days. I get frustrated and mad and sometimes I yell and sometimes I can’t wait until they go to bed so I can have a glass of wine. At the end of the day, I’m just a mom trying to get through the day and keep it all together while still enjoying my children.

 

Here are some of my tips for keeping it all together:

 

The cleaning can wait!

 

Let the dishes pile up until bedtime or leave the laundry in the dryer until nap time. As much as I hate a messy house, I also hate telling my kids to wait around while I clean instead of doing something fun.

 

Let your kids help.

 

There are some things the kids just can’t do, but there is a lot they can. I let the bigger things wait, but my 6-year-old can clean up her room before bed or help set the table and clear it after meals. I’m not going to run myself ragged picking up after everyone else. The more hands on deck, the more family time we get to have.

 

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

 

Just the other day, my older daughter wore a party dress the entire day. She was thrilled! In the past, I might have fought her on the topic until she let me pick out her outfit, but why? It’s just not worth the arguing.

 

Decide what your non-negotiables are and be consistent.

 

Even though I try not to sweat the small stuff, it is definitely not a free for all in my house. There is discipline and there are some things that can’t be overlooked. Specifically, behavior is at the top of that list. When their behavior is not respectful, it can definitely put me over the edge.

 

Do what makes sense for your family.

 

If that means sometimes you need to feed them chicken nuggets in front of the TV, do it! Sometimes momma just needs a break and that’s okay. Don’t let yourself feel guilty for making life easier. You have to do what’s right for you and your family and not worry about what you think you “should” be doing.

 

Lastly, allow yourself to be human and go through all that comes along with being a parent.

 

As I said before, there are good days and there are bad days, but every day I am grateful for my children. I might get frustrated and snap sometimes, but I don’t let those moments dictate the entire day. You have to allow yourself to be human, but then move on and hug and kiss those babies and tell them how much you love them. I do this about a thousand times a day!

 

Every family dynamic is unique, therefore what works for one family will probably not work for another. Just be comfortable in your own momma skin and do what is best for you and your family.

 

In the end, a happy home is a healthy home. Love your babies the best way you know how and everything else will fall into place.

 

Jen

Formerly a publicist, Jen Billeci changed careers ten years ago to start teaching. After receiving her Masters Degree from Fordham University, she spent six years as an elementary teacher. For the past four years, she’s been teaching middle school English & Special Education. She believes the best part of teaching is seeing the sparkle in her student’s eyes as they develop a love for reading and writing. A wife and mother of two wonderful little girls, Jen enjoys everything from gardening to practicing yoga and traveling with her family.