This job is a tough one. Raising tiny (and teenage!) humans is a colossal undertaking that rips away everything we knew before and plunks us down somewhere new, time and time again. It’s exhausting; it can be thankless and even punishing at times. There are days when you might feel so overwhelmed and darkened emotionally that it is tough to push through and be there for your children.  

Guess what? We have all been there. Even the parenting experts you see gabbing on the news about their top tips; even the Insta-bloggers with their absolutely gorgeous homes baking picture-perfect cookies and captioning their photos with talk of blessings and gratitude. Even your parents. Even their parents. Every parent you have ever looked up to or attempted to emulate has also had days when they looked around and thought, “WTF!”

Because for all the wonder and joy, for all the beautiful moments strung together and captured in shiny detail, for all the times you look at your little family and feel a contented swell of accomplishment and love, parenthood is messy. Life is messy. And while you had bad days before you had children, for some reason when you have a bad day with your children, it’s hard to remind yourself that this is just that. A bad day. Try reciting some of these affirmations the next time an emotional storm cloud hovers. And remember above all: You are not alone.

I am the best parent for my child.

It seems simple because it is. There is no other person who could take your place whether your fuse was short or long today, whether your house got picked up or didn’t. You are their person. Embrace that and remember it.  

I am still a good parent, even when I lose my cool.

Lost your temper today? Many other parents did, too. Remember the big picture here: It is okay to get angry. You are only human. You are still a great parent, even on those days when it’s your turn to apologize.  

Even though my kids come first, it doesn't mean I come last. 

Pour love and affirmation into their cups, shower them in fulfillment of their needs, listen to their words with empathy and respect. But don’t do so to the point that you completely lose yourself. You are also a person in this family unit, and you matter.  

I am enough for my child(ren), even when I don’t feel like I am.

Children don’t need you to show up as more or different than you are. You are their parent, and you deserve them, even when you’re operating at below the level where you’d like to be. 

I deserve to ask for help when I need it.

In a time when the nuclear family living on its own has become the norm and the “village” isn’t quite what it once was, don’t forget that the generations before you had lots of help. Offer it when you can and ask for it when you need it.

Self-love and care are not luxuries; they are practices I am entitled to.

You might not always have time to indulge in extensive (or expensive!) self-care, but you absolutely deserve to sneak in small rituals to remind you of your worth. Also, showering is not self-care. Don’t hesitate to press “pause” on your to-do list to take care of yourself. Everyone will be happier when you have done so.  

My success as a parent is not measured in looks. 

Read it again. In our social media obsessed culture, it’s easy to fall into a trap of sizing our own homes and wardrobes up against those of other parents. Don’t do this. Your kids need love, not a Pinterest-perfect existence. 

This is only a season.

From newborn nights to teething toddlers, early elementary jitters to tweenage drama… This, too, shall pass. And (you know this already!) when it does, you’ll miss it a little. On those rough days and nights, repeat to yourself: This is only a season. You can get through any hard stage…because it is only temporary.

I can’t control everything, but I can control how I react and pivot. 

There will be emergencies, meltdowns, and plans that are completely upended. The future will be peppered with surprises both pleasant and not. All that you can control as a parent is how you bend and refocus. You won’t always get it right, but you will keep trying, because that’s what parents do!

Being present is more important than being perfect. 

The best parents are the ones who show up. It’s as simple and beautiful as that.

It is my choice what parenting advice I take. 

Nowadays there is a name for every single parenting decision and a titled umbrella under which these decisions all huddle. Stop reading every article that comes up in your newsfeed or listening to what every mom at play group has to say. You are your child’s parent, and you have a right to edit and filter the advice streaming in to best fit yourself and your kids. 

It’s okay to slow down and do less when I need to.

No one loves a good to-do list more than a time-strapped parent, but on hard or busy days you might need to shave a few of those items off and just enjoy your kids. This doesn’t make you lazy or uncaring. Instead, it will help you calm down, be softer, and feel positive about how you parented that day.

I will make mistakes. What matters is how I learn and grow from them. 

We are Team No Perfect Parents over here. Saying “sorry” is good parenting. Making a new plan is good parenting. Doing it differently and better the next day is good parenting. Getting every single thing right is a fantasy you deserve to walk away from.

What I messed up today, I can fix tomorrow. 

On the heels of learning and growing, there’s also the do-over. Maybe you yelled today, or you weren’t listening or engaging. Maybe you missed a milestone or a deadline. That’s okay. Try again tomorrow. They’ll remember what you got right, not the rest.

My children love me.

This is the most important one, and really the only one you need when you’re at your worst. Say it over and over again until you truly believe it, or just for the reminder of what you already know. Their love is a result of you just being you, of being there for them and loving them. It’s a reflection of who you are as a parent and a person; you deserve it, so when times are dark and you feel hopeless, put this one on like a sweater and wear it around for as long as you need to. 

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