Why You Shouldn’t Beat Yourself Up When You Have a Hard Day

We’ve all been there: some days it seems like the world is out to get you from the second you open your eyes in the morning. You spill coffee on yourself, you sit in traffic, your boss has a meltdown, you stub your toe on your coffee table, and you burn your dinner. Add parenting into this mix and there are some days you find yourself waving the white flag before noon! If you are a parent via adoption, sometimes you can put even more pressure on yourself: Am I honoring my child’s birth parents? Am I making my child secure in his or her identity as an adoptee? Are any of the issues my child may have related to being adopted? Am I doing enough to honor his or her culture of origin?

Parents these days have more resources than ever before but more pressure. Everyone’s social media seems flooded with clean, happy, well-behaved kids who seem perfect. Timmy got straight As. Susie is a first chair violinist in the school orchestra. Look at our perfect family vacation to an interesting place, and none of our kids are crying or complaining about being bored. It can be tempting to compare our own daily grind to other people’s seemingly perfect lives, but odds are if you talked to these people in real life, you’d hear about their bad days as well as their good. It’s just that no one broadcasts the bad days and, frankly, people can place excessive importance on the good ones.

We are friends with a family of ten children. TEN. 5 times 2. As many kids as there are fingers on my hands. As the parent of one child who often feels frantic, I can’t imagine parenting TEN children, several of whom were adopted internationally and have complex medical needs. I asked them once what their secret was and they said their strategy is to keep it simple. Not every day needs to be a grand production. So often these days, we feel responsible not only for the basic things our kids need but also to provide them with entertainment and intellectual stimulation and “experiences” every minute. When it comes down to it, though, children on a day-to-day basis have very basic needs: you have to feed them, you have to give them a roof over their heads, and you have to let them know that they are loved.

There will be days when it seems you are only able to accomplish the bare minimum, and that’s okay. Maybe you ordered a pizza instead of cooking an elaborate healthy meal. Maybe you let your kid watch one more episode of his or her favorite TV show because you desperately needed 30 minutes to drink your coffee and attempt to feel human. Maybe you raised your voice after your kid did that thing you have told him or her specifically not to do 900 times. It’s okay. Parenting is not about perfection. You don’t have to be a perfect parent to be THE perfect parent for your unique child. If you find yourself overwhelmed or feeling like you just can’t win on any given day, focus on the basics and lean into the chaos! Some day when our children are all grown, we will laugh at the days that make us want to pull our hair out now. Know that you are doing your best, and if you have to, step away from social media. Don’t compare your worst day ever to someone else’s highly curated and probably exaggerated highlight reel. Take a few deep breaths and know that you can always give it another whirl tomorrow. And if tomorrow isn’t perfect either? That’s more than okay.