As a doula I kind of do “parenting advice” as my day job, but in addition to being a doula, I’m also a mom to two kids, 7 and 2. I consider myself a recovering perfectionist, and 7 years ago I was a bit less of the “recovering” part. I started my pregnancy voraciously reading everything I could get my hands on.

I thought that if I knew all the possible outcomes and problems, I could plan and prepare for anything that could go wrong. Information was my way of getting power and being a perfect parent.

The bad part of this, of course, was that it was immensely stressful to try and be a perfect parent. If things weren’t working out, I would stress so much. I found out I had gestational diabetes and I had such a hard time processing and moving forward from that information because I found it so devastating.

I thought that I had failed. And after my 7 year old was born, if I encountered a struggle (what new parent doesn’t?) I’d find myself stressing and worrying so much.

That was no fun. It was not sustainable or productive. In my voracious reading, I collected really good nuggets of parenting advice that really helped and changed me.

Recovering Perfectionist Goes Parenting

Postpartum Essentials - a line art drawing of a baby being cradled with a parent's hand on their head with a very light pink background with peach water color circles and gold glitter accents

1.  “You might find that you have to be the parent your child needs, not the parent you needed as a child.” OKAY coming in hot with this one – I found this hard to swallow.

If I were the parent that I needed as a kid, I’m already there. But I’m parenting someone totally different from me.

I am constantly having to learn and grow and figure out what my child needs. It’s hard, but I know I’m being the best parent to the kid that I have.

2.  Try something and if it doesn’t work, try something else. This can be applied to so many things in parenting- especially those early baby days.

In those early baby days, you have to remember that your little one is brand new to this world.

You are having to figure each other out. If you have a fussy baby, try soothing in one way and if it doesn’t work, try something else.

Perhaps you have decided to feed your baby one way, but they prefer something different or you’ve realized something else is a better fit for your family.

Don’t hold onto the original thing you were hoping for. Stay flexible and embrace the change.

3.  Be consistent! Children and babies thrive in consistent environments.

Knowing what to expect gives them clear boundaries. Children are always pushing boundaries to find where they are. Your consistency provides clarity.

4. This advice comes from my own therapist. I was telling her how frustrated my child was making me and how I said to him,

“I’m feeling frustrated that you are not listening to me.”

I was lamenting on how I got frustrated with him and told him so, and wasn’t able to manage my frustration before that point. She pointed out to me that it was me sharing my feelings with him and teaching him that his actions do have consequences.

5.  If you are looking for parent friends, find yourself a parent that has 2+ kids. They can really give you some perspective on parenting and are also much more chill.

Parenting Advice By Example + Parent Friends

6.  If you don’t want to mess up the bedtime routine or nap-time routine to go to some event, don’t. And without the guilt!

Messing up routines can be so hard not only for that day, but for several days after.

If your kids don’t do well with changes in routine, then skip out until they are older or leave early/go late. If you don’t want to deal with the fallout of it, don’t. 

7.  Be gentle and forgiving with yourself. You are sometimes going to make mistakes as a parent.

Not only is this normal, but it’s a great learning experience for your children too.

They get to see someone they love and trust make a mistake and apologize and try differently. That is such a gift to give to your children. 

8.  Have fun! This advice comes from my own dad. He always said that the best thing he did as a dad was to have fun and enjoy time with his kids.

I think a great way to think about this is that you aren’t always going to love the toys or activities that your kids want to do.

That’s ok and you maybe don’t have to participate in those. But find activities that you like to do with them and spend that time having fun.

Parenting is so hard and does not come with an instruction manual. Find your own guiding advice that you believe in.

Write it down like you might write down your goals or values. Use this to help guide your parenting decisions and reflect on them when you are having a challenging parenting moment.

Postpartum Essentials - a line art drawing of a mother and father cradling each other and a newborn on the father's shoulder with a beige background with green water color circle and gold glitter accents

If you are parenting with a partner or co-parent, then try doing this together and see where you have alignment or where there might be competing priorities. Some excellent parenting advice is to prioritize having an overarching parenting vision, this will help you with bigger decisions and conflicts down the road. Take the advice that works for you and leave what doesn’t.

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