When I see moms of preschoolers and toddlers, I wonder if they’re living the same tough experiences I did when my three kids were little.

Are those moms also waking up groggy and grumpy after sleepless nights, spending days on end tired and stressed? Do they also feel that the fun and laughter makes it all worth it and wish there was more of that and less of the shouting and exhaustion?

Are they as scared as I was that they might be messing it all up?

Looking back, as a mom with three teens in the house today, there is so, so much I wish I could tell my past self about raising the future adults of this world.

Here are a few of the things I wish I could tell myself back when I was in my 30s, working and running a business, and somehow thought I could add motherhood to the mix without growing any extra limbs:

  • You are doing your best. It is enough. You just may need to add some systems to the mix to make it work better for you.
  • Find a mentor, like a more-experienced mom, who can guide you and assure you you’re not crazy (and you’re not alone in feeling like you are). This will save you so much mental energy.
  • You don’t have to feel guilty. It takes practice, but it’s possible, and it will make you feel like a new woman.
  • You are allowed to be a working parent. You can develop the tools to do this successfully.
  • You are the most important model for your kids, so be aware of what they’re seeing. Do you want them to think life is a flurry of disorganized activity where mom is never happy?
  • 99% of what you’re stressed about today is small potatoes compared to the rest of your life to come. Start treating it that way.
  • If you set boundaries around your time, you can create more time to have fun with your kids. It will feel weird at first not to return work calls right away or say yes to every school function, but you will love it.
  • Don’t worry yourself about what other moms and dads might think of you. They’re not paying attention to you. Your kids are, and they are the ones that matter.
  • Learn to ask for help with anything that depletes your limited energy. It may feel like you need to do it all. Believe me: you don’t and you’re wasting your time and energy trying to.

 

I didn’t know all this back then, but I do now. And I’ve been able to model it for my kids, who take a longer-term view of their young lives, make goals, make plans and achieve them.

My 16-year-old daughter got her first car this weekend. She was able to pay for a considerable part of it herself with money she’d saved from her part-time job. We both know she could’ve spent that money on lattes and trendy clothes she didn’t really need. Instead, she set boundaries around her time—choosing work and saving her money over always spending time with her friends—and made a choice that empowered her to achieve her goals.

I am so excited to watch her continue to use these tools throughout her life.

If only I had known then what I know now about motherhood. Guilty, depleted and stressed don’t have to be the default. My kids became happier people when I learned to be less guilty and started to ask for help.

I feel so lucky today to be able to share my experiences with other moms who are learning to navigate these important years. If you’re ready to ask for a little help, please consider joining us in our Empowered Moms Facebook group. We’d love to have you.