Before I share my greatest parenting hack –I need to share some experiences I’ve had, that I believe are experienced by many parents.
I have a bookshelf filled with texts from doctors and nurses, parenting experts, sleep consultants, nutrition gurus and everything in between. I have read through all of these books as well as countless blogs, websites, lists, brochures – you name it. For more than a year I read these at all hours of the day and night – and I continue to do so every time I feel a little lost (which happens quite a bit as a new parent).
I have lived more than a year with a child who has yet to “sleep through the night”.
I have doubted every single decision I have made – from car seats to formulas and anything that is supposed to nourish or protect my child.
I have experienced exhaustion so thorough that I have locked myself in the closet just to get away from my family and avoid exploding on everyone.
I have cried myself to work for several weeks after dropping my daughter off at daycare – wondering how I could ever consider myself a mother when I don’t spend whole days with my daughter.
These are just some of the things I’ve experienced as a new parent – and some of the many things every new parent experiences. It is an incredibly challenging time period for anyone, and the totality has definitely thrown me for a loop more often than not.
I have also been afforded life’s greatest gift – a healthy child.
My second greatest gift is that I love my job, and it has given me more than I will ever be able to pay back.
Where I work families are dealing with so much more than teething or sleep training. When I complain about restless slumber – they are worried about MRI’s and blood tests, surgeries, and more.
Every single day I am witness to some of the strongest people in the world, parents who are facing the serious illness or injury of their child – and they face it with dignity, with love, and with empathy for everyone around them. You can see the fear, but more than that you can see these parents appreciating every single moment of happiness they receive.
This is how I learned my greatest parenting hack. Gratitude.
It changes every challenging aspect of parenting. When I hear the inevitable cry for mama at 3am, although my bones are tired, and my eyes can’t stay open – I walk into my baby’s room and cradle her and say out loud “I am so lucky to have this moment”. Trust me when I tell you it changes everything.
Now, when I drop her off at daycare, even though tears still flow, I say out loud “I am so lucky to afford this for my child. I am so lucky that these caregivers are here for my daughter”. It changes everything.
When she throws a tantrum and cannot be soothed I look at her and I say out loud “I am so lucky to hear this sound”. It changes everything.
There are great days, there are hard days, long nights and early mornings – but I am so lucky that I get this time with her.
Changing the way I look at every challenge by finding the gratitude in each moment – I have learned to have fun and appreciate parenting more and more every day. Sometimes I have to say the words out loud – but they always help me change my perspective.
Gratitude is the only parenting hack I ever really needed.
Suzanne Pescod, mama to one little girl as well as Marketing & Communications Director for RMHCNA and iabcyeg board member(Capital Awards). Connect with her on Twitter and Instagram.