No, I’m not really a Super-Nanny. They say I am but boy-oh-boy, if I am, then we all need to aim higher.
BUT I have learned a great deal from my two years as a nanny for triplets, and given this is the month we celebrate Moms, I wanted to share with you some of this knowledge.
Looking back on raising my own kids, I can see how stressed and anxious I was all the time. I honestly feel like I didn’t enjoy the experience at all and spent most of my young mom days worrying about them. And me. And life. And my marriage. It’s crazy the places your mind will go when it doesn’t have enough sleep or balance.
So let me say these words first… Everything is going to be okay. You cannot ruin a child, especially one you love more than anything else. Even on your worst parenting days (we all have them), your kids are just fine and will wake up the next morning ready to make you crazy all over again.
That being said, here are a few other reminders you can bank on…
10 Lessons From the Nanny
- The most important trait you will need as a parent is a sense of humor. If you can’t learn to laugh at A) yourself and B) your life, then this parenting thing is going to feel like a really long rollercoaster ride in the front seat. Humor will at least make the tough stuff more doable, or at least less fearful.
- Your mood/reaction is always a choice. Patience is a choice. This is probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned. Parenting is exhausting, monotonous, exhilarating, crazy, fun, scary, and did I mention exhausting? I think I did. Start every day knowing you’re just going to be challenged in many ways, and know how you want to react… or not. It really is that simple. And there will be days when they get the best of you – it happens – cut yourself some slack, and start over tomorrow. Grace over perfection, people… grace over perfection. Thank you, Emily Ley.
- At some point you’ll have to learn the beautiful art of balance. Total engagement and quiet time. High active time and reading on the lap time. Kids of all ages need balance, just like you do. No one can be 100% in the moment at all times. Not even kids. Sometimes they just want to chill out too. Let them and take the moment for yourself.
- Kids are messy. I don’t think anything could prepare me for the yogurt eating/milk pouring/condiment loving children that I am caring for now. Nothing. While it’s true I can be a little “structured” when it comes to clean, I have learned to embrace the mess. It just is what it is, and me stressing about a mess at any meal time is just a losing battle. See #2. At the end of each day you can take 15 minutes to pick up and reorganize. Until then, let it go.
- After my second son was born, I literally couldn’t believe how different he was from my first. Polar opposite, to be specific. And they have remained different for the duration. Every child has their own personality, especially in triplets. It is amazing to see the differences all at once. Given this information, it means you have to learn to parent each child a little different. Figure out what makes them tick and you’re ahead of the game. One size does not fit all with kids.
- Teach your children compassion. Helping them respect someone else’s feelings will be one of those gifts that keeps on giving. Soon they’ll be teens, and you’ll be blown away at the kindness they have for others. I am so not kidding here. Somehow I have managed to raise two boys in a social media world, and they are genuinely good people who care about others. I truly believe this starts when they’re young, and as a parent you have to make sure they know how their actions have repercussions, both good and bad.
- Give them the gift of forgiveness. The only way you can teach your kids, anyone really, is through your actions. Kids learn forgiveness when they see it happening in their own home. Let go of grudges. Don’t hold past mistakes over their heads. Let them know that everyone makes mistakes… yes, even parents.
- Living in Michigan, weather is a part of our daily life. Good, bad, and ugly can happen on any given day, and sometimes all three in the same day. We are lucky enough to escape the weather catastrophes that a lot of other places have, but 40 and grey is a very common forecast around here. This is another one of those things you just have to embrace. The triplets got rain boots last week, and I was seriously grateful for the couple rainy days we had, so we could go outside and splash in puddles. Did I do that when my own kids were 2? Not a chance. I would curse the rain. But I’ve learned that nothing will make you tolerate bad weather like a trio of stir crazy two year-olds bouncing off the walls. Nothing.
- Capture the moments, but save some for your memories too. Sometimes in my quest for the perfect picture for their parents or grandparents, I realize that I’m missing out on some pretty amazing moments too. Kids need to see our faces, not our phones all the time. Again, this is about balance, and I’m still learning this one. Capture the quiet times and be present in the chaotic ones. Everyone wins with this one.
- Plan, plan, plan, and then remain flexible. Nothing with kids goes according to plan. Well, almost never. Have a plan, but also know that it will probably change many times. That really amazing image in your head of taking a trip to the zoo? That could be ruined before you pay for admission. Plan, but be prepared for anything to come your way. Learning to go with the flow will save you many headaches.
There are so many things that I would do over as a parent, but as I said earlier… they turned out okay. I didn’t totally ruin them. If I had this list when I started out, it might have saved myself some parental trauma, but would they have turned out differently? I’m not sure. All I know is that being a parent is the hardest job you will ever have. There are highs and lows, and the words it’s just a phase will be said almost daily.
Love your children. Be kind. Everything is going to be okay.