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I am a hypocrite in its truest form. Before having kids of my own, it was easy for me to look at a situation and say, I will never do that.” Well, two kids later, and countless meltdowns, both theirs and my own, I do all of the things that I said I would never do. Every. Single. One.

Judging other peoples parenting methods is really easy to do before having your own kids. Its kind of like watching someone do a double back flip off the diving board and saying I can do that, only to belly flop, while taking in a mouthful of water.

Parenting is hard. It is not for the faint of heart. Sometimes (OK, all the time) you are going to be less than perfect. But, in the end, none of that will matter. It is OK to let yourself off the hook sometimes. I do so often, and it is the only way I survive.

Here are the top five things I said I would never do as a parent (and spoiler alert: I now do all of them):

1. Use screen time as a babysitter



I used to be that 20 something at a restaurant, mindlessly sipping my pinot grigio, while leisurely eating my salad, laughing and scrolling through Facebook in between story telling with my friends.

I would watch parents with their small children and think that it was so sad that the kids were glued to their iPads. I would scowl and say, Kids should be engaged in dinner as a family, not watching Youtube videos of a random person and their children opening surprise eggs. Ok, maybe the surprise eggs is pushing it, but screen time is OK.


Fast-forward ten years and the picture is a bit different. I am now the mother desperately trying to eat dinner while my 3 year old is yelling at the top of her lungs that it is not fair that she cant have cookies for dinner and that she wants a pull-up, because she needs to poop and refuses to go to the potty unless it is on her terms.

My 18-month-old is struggling to get out of his highchair at every chance he gets, while throwing silverware on the floor. Meanwhile, I am taking gulps, not sips, of my wine, in between picking goldfish off the floor and straw wrappers out of the hair of the patrons sitting at the next table.

Screen time is fine in moderation. Put on Elmos World (youre welcome) and drink that wine. Drink it slow and get a second glass. You deserve it. And, if you dont already have kids, dont judge. Instead, think to yourself, Wow, it is so nice that they can have a short break and enjoy a dinner out as a family. This will always be a true statement.

2. Use bribes as a reward for good behavior



When I imagined motherhood, I pictured having these little angel children that magically did everything that I asked them to do with a smile and a thank you snuggle. Ha. I have monsters little monster babies that never want to do what I ask. It is exhausting, to say the least. So, on days when I am already 15 minutes late for work and my children are refusing to put on their boots, I bribe. I bribe a lot.

Me: Please put on your boots.

Little humans: No.

Me: I have gummies.

Little humans: Ok!

Winning. It is that simple.

3.Go through fast food drive-thru



I know what you are thinking, I used to think the same thing. Gross, fast food? Why arent you serving your most prized possessions organic and gluten free? Dont judge me until you have your own little humans. Running in somewhere to get coffee is no longer an easy task. You try taking a three-year-old out of her car seat and asking her to wait while you unload her brother.

If you have a runner, like me, getting coffee can be a life or death situation. Any place with a drive-thru ensures the safety of my children and my sanity when they hand me my iced coffee for a $1.09 I may add. Not too shabby for Jenna. And, if you need lunch on the run- white meat chicken nuggets and a go-gurt are not the worst things in the world. Relax, they will live.

4. Let myself go (in more ways than one)



When I was pregnant, I vowed to myself that I would be the mom that lost the baby weight, worked out while the baby was sleeping, always ate healthy, and always maintained her highlights.

Yeaaaaaaaaaa. So, the reality is that when my children sleep, I sleep. If I am not napping, I am binge-watching Netflix in bed while eating ice cream. Im not proud of it, OK, but I am happy. Although, I am not so happy about carrying so many wobbly bits around my middle. But, life is short. Drink the wine, eat the cake, and take the nap. You will enjoy it.

5.Raise my voice in public



I hate when people yell at their children. I especially hate it when I yell at my children. It feels like a cop-out to real parenting. But, you know what? It happens. I hate it, but I still do it. Parenting requires patience and unfortunately patience runs out, and sometimes that happens in public. When your little human is full-body tantruming on the floor in the middle of the supermarket, shrieking that it is unfair that she cant have a popsicle at 9 a.m., you may lose it. I have and Im not proud of it, but it is justified. I am usually a very even-keeled person, but there are times when I am going on four and a half hours of sleep, the coffee has not helped, and my mom skills are lacking. Its OK. They will survive and so will you.

I think parents, more than anyone else, deserve compassion. No one really knows what other people are going through, even though we might think we do. Lets all just take a breath, smile, and be understanding. Parenting is hard. Life is hard. Lets give each other and ourselves a break.

Now, make me feel better: What do you do now that you said you would never do?

For more from Jenna Stewart, visitMotherhood with a Twist of OCDand herFacebookpage.

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