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18 Things You SWEAR You’ll Never Do As A Parent (But Do!)

We’ve all been there before… sitting in a movie theater, or in church, or at the library watching a young mother struggle with her tantrum-driven two-year-old. Then finally after yelling at him, she gives up, pulls out a lollipop, and puts him in the stroller. 

“I’ll never do that when I am a parent!” 

We are all the perfect parent before we become one, right? We know exactly how to put kids to bed without any tears, we know just what to do with the grocery store tantrums, we will always have fresh cookies baked for an after-school snack, and our home will never be a mess with kids’ toothpaste all over the guest bathroom. 

And then. We become a parent. 

The whole game changes, right? 

First-time parents can be a little shocked when they start noticing themselves doing the things they never thought they would do as a parent. 

It can be hard to come to the realization that you aren’t perfect and even though you’ve read every parenting book out there, you still make mistakes. 

Because let’s face it. Being a parent is HARD. 

You’re constantly on your feet, playing nurse, chauffeur, chef, host, emotional therapist, nutritionist, activity coordinator, etc. 

And then on top of that, you’re up all night with at least one of your kids with sickness or bad dreams. And then you wake up at the crack of dawn to feed the newborn (or help the 6-year-old). 

Sleep deprivation is real and let me tell you… it is one of the most taxing and difficult things to be a “by-the-books parent” when you are completely and utterly exhausted. 

All that said, I want you to know that It’s ok, mama! You’re doing better than you think. And we are right there with you! 

The only way to get past the mom guilt of feeling like you “shouldn’t” be doing certain things is to laugh it off with other moms. 

So we created this fun list of things for you to read through to see some of the things parents THINK they’ll never do, but actually totally do. 

Hopefully, you’ll laugh right along with us and remember that even if you do these things, you are still a good parent! 

Things You THINK You’ll Never Do As A Parent

African American mom holding her baby and hugging her son

1. Let Your Kids Eat In The Car

Growing up, my mom always let us eat in the car. I absolutely hated it! 

When we had to go on road trips, I would be the one to vacuum out the whole car because I wasn’t about to sit in a messy car. 

It was always the worst when your best friend got in the car and there were smashed Cheerios all over the seat! 

But, now that I am a mom, I totally get it! As moms, we are in complete survival mode and sometimes a snack in the car is just what we need to do to keep the kiddos content from one errand to the next. 

If it bothers you, as it does me, to have crumbs all over the car and wrappers galore… I would recommend keeping a handheld vacuum in your car along with a reusable trash bag to keep the car “somewhat clean”. 

The bottom line is that sometimes it just makes sense to let your kids eat in the car to keep everyone sane and to stay on schedule! 

2. Bribe Your Kids

“I will never give my kids candy to get them to leave the park when I say it’s time to go”. 

Hm. Is that so? Just wait until you have two kids. It’s so much easier said than done. 

Sometimes, you are just in a rush and you need to get those sweet kiddos to leave but they JUST. DON’T. WANT. TO. LEAVE. 

I can think of worse things to do than bribe your kids to get them to comply with your expectations. 

Small children are especially easy to bribe! 

“Eat all your dinner and then you can have a starburst” 

“If you finish your morning jobs then I will play a game with you” 

So many great ways to bribe those littles! 

3. Yell At Your Kids

The first time you yell at your kids is a hard one for sure. Your mommy heart might hurt for a few days after the fact. 

Whether you were yelled at by a parent, teacher, caregiver, older sibling, or another important figure… it is hard to forget. 

And I am sure you vowed in your mind you would NEVER yell at your own children. 

But when there are lots of things on your plate, patience can sometimes go out the window and the little things your kids do just start to get on your nerves. 

It’s ok! 

This is one that I want to offer a bit of support and help on. Because even though a lot of us seem to do it, for a young child, harsh words have a way of shaping who they will become. 

So I know we can all try to be better on this one! 

The best way to mend the relationship after a yelling experience is to apologize. Humble yourself, get down on your child’s level, and tell them you are sorry. 

Ask for their help to “call you out” next time you yell and give them a phrase to say. One of my favorites is, “Mommy, will you please talk to me like I’m someone you love so much?” That will pull at those heart strings! 

4. Allow Screen Time 

“Screen time is bad.” 

“Don’t let your kids sit in front of screens for longer than 30 minutes a day.” 

That’s what doctors are telling us. And while it is true that too much screen time can be detrimental to kids mental health, sometimes it’s just a saving grace! 

Those days when laundry is piled to the ceiling, kids are at each other’s throats, it’s raining outside, dinner is burning on the stove, and your husband just called to tell you he will be home late. 

Yep. It’s show time, baby! 

Or let’s talk about those days when you’re feeling sick. Movie day anyone?! 

What about when you just don’t feel like being creative and coming up with one more activity for your kids to do? Time for a show! 

5. Buy Your Child A Cell Phone

“We’re going back to the olden days. My kids won’t have phones!” 

While I haven’t personally bought my kids a phone yet (as my oldest is only 5), even becoming a parent, I can already see myself buying them phones one day. 

It’s the world we live in that we need to be in contact with our kids. 

Whether that’s for safety, for scheduling, or just for peace of mind. We need to be able to communicate with them quickly. 

Family members might give you some grief about this one, but remember that you are the parent for your child and you want the best thing for them! 

Plus, buying them a phone can totally be a good thing! If you take off the internet and put parental controls on it, it can truly serve as a device whose sole purpose is to communicate with a parent. 

6. Give Them Unhealthy Junk Food

Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. 

Similar to the bribery, because a lot of my bribes involve candy of some sort. 

We don’t usually have sweet treats in our house unless it’s a special occasion or holiday. I have found that it is easier not to offer it to my kids when we just don’t have it. 

Out of sight. Out of mind. 

But sometimes, it’s just too hard to whip up those healthy strong foods. 

This is especially true for me during pregnancy. All I want to eat is goldfish, honeycomb cereal, fries, and burgers. 

So why should I make my kids eat their fruits and veggies if I don’t have to? Plus I might puke if I even have to prepare it. 

Hence the junk food! Cheeze Its, oodles of crackers, fruit snacks, sugary cereal. You name it! 

My thoughts are always, “Meh, we’ll get back on track… next year”. 

7. Use Empty Threats

It takes a whole lot of mental strength not to use “empty threats”. 

In case you don’t know what an “empty threat” is, let me explain. 

It simply means that you threaten your child with something that you aren’t planning to actually follow through with. Essentially a threat that is never fulfilled. 

Here are some examples: 

You’re at the park with friends and can tell your child is about to wet their pants, but they won’t stop playing. “If you don’t go to the bathroom right now we are leaving”. Then you get busy talking to your friend and they still don’t go for another 5 minutes and you stay at the park longer. 

You have a trip planned to Disneyland for next week. You’re kids are fighting with each other in the car and you can’t turn around to help them. So you blurt out “If you don’t stop fighting, we are not going to Disneyland. Only nice kids can go”. Unless you’re good at holding to what you say… It is an empty threat because you most likely aren’t going to cancel your whole trip to Disney just because they were fighting in the car. 

It’s time to leave a friends house but your child won’t help clean up the toys. You say, “Ok, if you can’t clean up the toys, I am never letting you play at this friend’s house again”. Chances are, if they don’t clean up, you would still let them go back to that friends house. 

So why do we give empty threats? Well because they work. Especially with young kids. 

Secret: If you’re having a hard time with this one and want to change, look at the book “How to Talk so Little Kids will Listen” by Joanna Faber and Julie King. They have some awesome tips to change this around! 

8. Let Them Sleep With You

Oooo this is a tricky one! We vowed to never let our kids sleep with us! 

Not after all the children’s books about parents getting kicked in the face or pushed off the bed. 

We wanted our room to be our sanctuary and safe place. Just for the two of us. 

Oh how things change when you have kids! Parental anxiety usually sky rockets and as soon as you become a new parent, all of that has changed. 

From day 1, your baby is either sleeping in bed with you or in a bassinet right next to you. 

It’s a hard habit to break and honestly, a lot of people never do break it. 

But hey, you only get to be a parent once, so might as well soak up all those cozy snuggles before they leave the house! 

9. Wipe Their Boogers With Your Bare Hands 

Gross! Babysitting other people’s kids and having to wipe their noses was bad enough. 

And that was WITH a tissue. 

Sometimes though, desperate times call for desperate measures. 

You’re in the middle of a movie theater and your child sneezes all over. Boogers everywhere. 

What do you do? Wipe it with your hands and rub it into your pants or his shirt! 

It’s crazy how “less gross” it is when it is your own child! Night and day difference. 

10. Make A “Special Meal” For Your Child (Because They Won’t Eat What You Cooked)

Hmm, sound familiar to anyone? We definitely have one of these picky eaters in our home. 

It can be hard, and frustrating to have a child who doesn’t want to eat what you slaved away on all day. 

So, you end up making a nice meal and then mac n cheese, quesadillas, or eggs for the toddler. 

I used to cook a full new meal for my 3 year old who wouldn’t eat what I made. But now, I have resorted to just some form of protein– Pistachios or yogurt. 

11. Sound Like Your Own Parents

How many times do you hear your parents in your head playing like a record on repeat?! 

This is a common occurrence for most of us. Why, you might ask? 

Because we heard those same things day in and day out when we were growing up! 

If you like how your parents talked to you and sounded growing up, then this can be a big blessing. If not, then try changing it. 

It might take some conscious habit training, but be patient. It will come. 

12. Share Your Fork With Them 

Where are all my germ-a-phobs out there? ME! 

When I was a teenager, I remember seeing parents share their utensils with their kids all the time. It drove me bonkers. 

When you are out to eat at a restaurant, it’s much easier to just share the fork with them than go up to the counter and ask for a new one. 

To be honest, even when we are at home, my kids drop their forks on the ground during dinner and I end up sharing mine with them because they don’t want to pick it up… and neither do I. 

And just like the boogers, it is so much less gross when it is your own children! 

13. Fall Asleep While Reading Bedtime Stories 

Who is exhausted as a parent?! It is a tiring job! 

And then put us on the couch or comfy bed at the end of the day to cuddle up and read bedtime stories?? GAME OVER! 

It would be great if someone could invent little sticks to hold our eyes open when we try to read to our children at night. 

Making up words to the story while you try to get a little shut eye, can only last for so many years until your oldest learns to read. They’ll catch on pretty quickly to the fact that you aren’t reading the “real words”. 

14. Sleep On The Floor Of Their Room 

Is your child having scary dreams? Or maybe they are awake in the middle of the night and needing help falling back asleep? 

Let’s just say, that sometimes it is so much easier to just stay in their room and sleep on the floor than keep going in and out and in and out. 

And if you’re someone who can sleep great anywhere, lucky you! 

We find ourselves doing this a lot when we are on vacation. A new place, with new noises, and an unfamiliar bedroom. Sometimes they just won’t stay in their room, so I might as well benefit from this and get a little bit of rest while I help a child fall asleep! 

It beats getting frustrated at them for calling you in to their room a bazillion and one times! 

15. Have A Secret “Stash” 

We all need a little pick-me-up each day, right? And I would go as far as to say that we 100% deserve it! 

We work our tails off each day to help these kiddos, so we should be able to “treat ourselves”. 

Mine definitely comes out during nap time because my kids are still young. Nobody knows where I keep the chocolate and it’s the best-kept secret! 

Be careful though, if they need your help and you’re scarfing down a cookie or some ice cream, you’d better hide it and throw in some gum. They are very good at smelling your breath and deciphering what you just ate! 

16. Be A Helicopter Parent 

Letting kids be independent. You wouldn’t think it would be that hard, but when those kids are your own… it is tough! 

You want to protect them and guide them to do what is right and to always be safe. 

The more kids you get, the less easy it is to be a helicopter parent without driving yourself crazy. But non-the-less, I am still one of those parents. 

17. Let Your Child Ride Out The Temper Tantrum

We’ve all seen those moms in the grocery store with a child screaming at the top of their lungs in the cart. We think to ourselves, “Does she not notice her son is crying? Why isn’t she helping him?” 

I’ll tell you exactly why! Sometimes, toddlers can’t be reasoned with. And sometimes, they just need to cry it out. 

Eventually, all the tears will be done and you can talk through it, but for now, just let them scream and try to pay no attention to all of the horrified stares you get. 

18. Not Notice When Your Child Is About To Have A Scary Fall 

I am three for three on this one! When I watched kids fall before becoming a mom, I always thought, “Why wasn’t the mom right there to catch her child? She could have prevented that”. 

Well, truth be told, you can’t always be right next to your child in every situation. Especially when you have multiple kids needing your attention. It just doesn’t work. 

So sometimes you take your eyes off of your kid for 2 seconds and they have tripped over a rock and split their head. 

Other times, you might have been the cause of the fall… Setting your child on the counter while you cook dinner only to hear a thud on the tile (guilty). 

Or maybe you put them on a high swing thinking they were big enough but they actually weren’t (guilty). 

What about the time when you didn’t notice they climbed up on the bar stool by themselves only to have it crash on top of them (guilty again). 

Let’s just say I have gone through scary falls with my kids a lot of times. But maybe we can just adopt the mantra on this one, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”? 

Are we any better than those parents we looked at years ago before we became parents and said, “I’ll never do THAT to MY kids”? 

Unfortunately no. And, we probably owe those people a silent apology. 

It’s all so much easier said than done. But we are doing our best, right? 

I hope you found some joy and comfort reading these silly things that we think we would never do as parents. Remember, you are raising happy, strong, wonderful children. Your kids need YOU.. not some picture perfect parent described in a parenting book! 

So, keep being the you that they so adore and love!