As my daughter has grown into a 3 year old, I’ve been reflecting as parenting has evolved from what was once predominantly mechanical and reactive. I now experience parenting during a time of what seems like phenomenal emotional and cognitive development, with a fair amount of sleep regression thrown in!
I wanted to share the most helpful points that have come up over recent months. I could also, of course, share the least helpful (I remain a work in progress). I will though focus on the positives in case they are of help / interest to anyone :
It’s all about you
Carve out the “me time” when you can – plan for it, prioritise it and protect it. A couple of years ago, I probably wouldn’t have given much attention to phrases such as “self compassion”. Now it’s my creed, and it makes me a better parent, better husband and better worker.
It’s not all about you
The world simply isn’t yet designed for two full time working parents. It can feel like us v the world. So it helps to define ourselves as a team. By doing so, together we’ve achieved far more together than we would have been able to individually.
Thanks to the team effort, my brilliant wife has been able to excel as a mother, veterinary surgeon and business owner. Thanks to the team effort, I’ve been able to advance in my own career while being a hands on dad, creating the space for our daughter to have an amazing female role model. I’ve never felt the guilt that I know some others struggle with.
Ask for help
Where there is help available, don’t hesitate to take it. In my case, this means being able to lean on my parents when I need a day off from parenting. The inability of being able to do so has been keenly felt over recent months!
When we’re together, the little one is entitled to my full attention. She needs not just to be told it, but to feel it. This is probably the most obvious point, but the most difficult to get right. It’s amazing how many little nuggets of info I can pick up from my daughter when I’m completely focused on what she’s telling me (beyond the words). It’s also amazing how much better I am at work, when I focus on work. Multi-tasking really doesn’t cut it.
Choose your tribe
Unfortunately not everyone you encounter is out to do you good. I’ve encountered many who for whatever reason simply want to hold me back and/or trivialise what I’ve achieved.
Cut these people out of your orbit and make room for those who lift you up and push you. Life’s too short to do otherwise. Surrounding myself with better people has made me better.
Like anything, not every moment of parenting is enjoyable. There is quite a lot which isn’t. There is no need to pretend that “every moment is a joy” or other such nonsense. Be honest with yourself that there are challenges. This will get you through those inevitable tough times.
Keep an eye on the big picture
In my last piece, I anticipated there would be difficult days ahead. My baby who was a great sleeper, who is now a toddler whose sleep is “less than optimal” has proved this one correct! But even in the more difficult moments, there can be joys.
As I continue my journey of fatherhood, and I get to experience the joys and challenges of adapting as my daughter grows from a toddler to a child, I know the challenges will keep coming. Any advice is always greatly achieved!
Thank you for reading.