Tips for Being a More Relaxed Parent by Sophie Hudson

You know those moms who look calm and cool and collected at every stage of their parenting journey? The ones who post pictures on Facebook five minutes after they give birth and look like they just sat down to rest for a second after a refreshing workout?


Well, I am pretty much the opposite of those people.


Because if my own new baby pictures are any indication, my personal post-partum goal must have been to establish a new precedent for record levels of swelling.


Mama here was a little puffy. That’s all I’m saying.

While the swelling eventually subsided (unless you factor in the fact that I’ve been carrying around approximately 20 pounds of baby weight for the last nine years), it took me awhile to find my groove as mama. I was surprised by how the smallest things could just stress me out: how much our little guy was or wasn’t eating, how well he was sleeping, whether or not he was crawling, how many words he was saying, etc. Every milestone seemed to bring a fresh wave of panic right along with it, and as I look back on what was undoubtedly one of the sweetest times of my whole life, it makes me a little sad that I wasted so much energy on worry.

I’m certainly no expert on parenting – I have learned that lesson the hard way – but I do think that I have the benefit of perspective in terms of knowing that life with a little one could have been a good bit easier if I had just dialed down the obsess-o-meter a little bit.

Here are three things I wish I’d been more relaxed about. 

1. Sleeping habits – Before Alex was born, I told anyone who would listen that our first order of business was going to be establishing a sleep schedule. Don’t get me wrong – I’m glad that we had structure – but I drove myself crazy trying to stick to that schedule. I’d lose my mind if I thought something was going to interfere with it, and during the times when he wouldn’t nap or he woke up four times in the night, I was tense as could be. In retrospect I wish I’d been a smidge more flexible about the schedule – and really soaked up the sweetness of our time together. 

2. Potty training – One time when I was pulling out my hair over potty training, a friend of mine told me that more than likely my child was not going to go to kindergarten in a diaper. She was exactly right. I acted like I was trying to reinvent the wheel, but history shows us that potty training is a habit that most of us eventually figure out.

3. Play date activities – When our son first started having friends over, I always felt like I needed to have “something” for them to do. I bought canvases, rounded up paints, filled up baby pools, pulled out HotWheels – anything to keep them entertained. When he was around four or five, though, I realized that they just wanted to play. Their activities might not have made a lick of sense to me, but they were having a blast, and I didn’t have to play camp counselor to make that happen. There’s no need for a sixteen-step craft station. Just let ‘em play. They figure it out.

What about you? What are some ways that you wish you’d been more relaxed when your kids are little? Or if your kids are still in the toddler or preschool phase, what are some things you’ve learned along the way?


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