The Biggest Parenting Mistake I’ve Made (So Far…)

What are your biggest parenting mistakes? If you’re like me, I bet they aren’t what you think they are! Find out the one thing I did wrong as a parent!

Parenting mistakes are a part of raising kids. We all know that, right?  I know I make mistakes every single day: from bribing my preschooler to go to the bathroom before we leave the house in the morning; to letting him watch a bit too much TV so that I can have a proper shower; to the time my son fell off the bed when he was a few months old because he had started rolling from his back to his belly.  These kinds of mistakes can be scary, but some are also silly, or even fairly inconsequential in the grand scheme of things (though if my son needs to be bribed to use the facilities once he’s a teenager, that will definitely be my fault!).  I’ve made way bigger mistakes that have helped me to continue learning as a mom.  But without a doubt, there is one parenting mistake that I’ve made that definitely trumps the rest: My Own Expectations.

When Your Own Expectations Are Your Biggest Parenting Mistakes

When I was pregnant, I had so many ideas and expectations of how everything would be once my son was born.  Every parent does!  Every single facet of the first few months of his life was planned out in my head. I knew which super cute outfits he’d wear; the beautiful nursing cover I’d bring with me when I went out for coffee in the mornings; the exercise routine I had planned out to whip myself back into shape once my son was six weeks old; and so much more.

Once my son was born, I was floored by how different my life was versus what I’d expected it to be. He always wore pajamas since we never left the house. I didn’t need the nursing cover since I wasn’t able to breastfeed. I had so much pain that getting back into shape at the six-week mark was impossible.  I perceived all of these “failings” as exactly that: failures.  Failure to be the best mom I could be. Failure to look my best. Failure to get myself organized enough to get out there and be just like all the other moms I saw looking so stylish sipping their cappuccinos and flipping through magazines while breastfeeding their babies.

I wasn’t prepared for any of those above outcomes at all!  I thought I would adapt to being a mom instantly and that everything would just fall into place.  And to be honest, I was devastated every single time I didn’t achieve my unrealistic expectations of the reality of motherhood.

But where do these expectations come from?  In my case, I know that I’ve fallen into the media trap that portrays parenting a particular way. One of my guiltiest pleasures was (and still is) reading and watching Hollywood gossip online.  The image of beautiful new moms losing their baby weight immediately after given birth is the norm in the entertainment industry, and everything they do is just so glamorous.  I realize now what we see and what is real are two entirely different things.

Some celebrity moms absolutely do look fabulous right after giving birth. Maybe it’s genetics; maybe it’s their personal trainers; maybe it’s their personal chef; maybe it’s their collection of household staff which makes their lives that much easier than that of the average parent’s. Still, other celebrities manage to make parenthood itself look like a breeze, and maybe it is for them.  That’s why I have to remind myself that though they make it look so easy, their reality is not mine.  I don’t have their lives (or their money!).  My son is an individual just as all other children are; I am nearing forty years of age; I am a stay at home mom making it work on a teacher’s salary; etc., etc., etc.

My expectations as a parent are obviously not limited to the newborn stage of my son’s life. They have continued into the toddler phase and the preschool phase, and I imagine that they will continue for the rest of my life.  Now that’s a scary thought!

Since becoming a mom, I’ve realized the importance of being kind to myself.  Being forgiving of myself.  Trying to be as gentle and patient with myself as I am with my son. It didn’t happen overnight, and I struggle with it to this day when things don’t go the way I think they should.  We can read as many books about parenting as possible, but none of them can quite prepare you for the real thing.  As parents, it is important to remind ourselves that not achieving an expectation is not a failure – rather, it is an opportunity to learn and, in my case, become a better mom and parent in the process.

What do you feel are your biggest parenting mistakes so far? Are they based in reality or a failed expectation of reality? Share your thoughts in the comments!


23 thoughts on “The Biggest Parenting Mistake I’ve Made (So Far…)”

  1. I don’t necessarily know if it is a mistake, but I introduced electronics too early to my kids I feel. I wish I would have waited.

  2. I wasn’t prepared for the solid attitude that comes with a teen. Always being the one to orchestrate where we went and what we did changed when the teens came, and I was suprised at how swiftly the change came about. I probably just wasn’t noticing the subtle signs though. This time around when my youngest gets there, I’ll be more prepared. I hope. :)

  3. I can totally relate. I always have this same mentality – “I was devastated every single time I didn’t achieve my unrealistic expectations of the reality of motherhood”. The struggle is real. Thanks for sharing a different light to parenting.

  4. I can definitely relate. I always said I wanted to make my own baby food. Oh how easy it will be. I never realized just how hard I was driving my self into the ground trying to be the perfect mother and wife. It just not possible to be either.

  5. Wow, that is so true! My expectations have been my worst failure so far. I had expectations that I would be able to breastfeed with no issues (except your typical growing pains and such), well when my milk never came in it was devastating. I thought every moment was going to be sunshine and rainbows, then I got diagnosed with PPD. Once we get our own expectations out of our head, things will be perfect :)

  6. I’ve never been a parent before. It’s really something that you won’t learn over night but you can’t keep beating yourself up for that. I think it’s good to have these mistakes, it’s a learning process after all.

  7. Great honesty in this post! I’m not a parent but It’s always good to know these things for the future. I think we place such high standards on ourselves for parenting and everything else, but the standards are sometimes impossible to reach and then we’re hard on ourselves when we don’t meet those standards. It’s important to always be kind to ourselves.

  8. Sonya Kolodziejska

    Nice to see an honest post. I too was floored when my son was born and then 14 months later i had my daughter, i didn’t know my own name for 3 years! Now they are 6 and 7 and life is easier.

  9. The things is your biggest parenting win is that you recognise you’re not perfect. No one is, but knowing you’re fallible and being honest with your kids will resonate well.

  10. There will be times wherein you’ll feel like you’re never good enough. But you have to trust yourself that you’re doing the best for your children. Doubt and expectations will only push you further down.

  11. Oh, the pressure we put on ourselves. And I’ve done it four times. One lesson that I learned over those years was this: You can make all the plans you want, but don’t plan the outcome. It is what it is and will continue to be what it will be.

  12. Welcome to the club. There’s no book describing how to be the best parent so we will make mistakes… Learn from them and keep it moving. Realizing and acknowleging your mistakes is healthy if you ask me.

  13. This is so true!!! My biggest mistake has been my expectations too lol. Nothing goes as expected or as planned … crazy how many people told me this but I didn’t believe them until I was a mom. I need to listen more lol

  14. A great honest post. Children just turn our world upside down. Mine is 14 now but I can see many points in this when I was a new mother. The getting back into shape was however not one of my main issues. I did not want that stress added on to everything else. The media, celebrities they give a false perception like it is the most important thing – but when a child is born the first few months is for them!

  15. My best friend just had a baby so I’m going to send this to her! I don’t have children, but I loved this post I felt like my mom could definitely relate.

  16. This is so very true!! I was one of those people who looked at parents and asked “how could they” THAN I because I parent!! My expectation sure came down!! From can’t leave the house without everything matched to well at least it is clean!!

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