When you first have a baby, there are many questions you start to wonder about parenting, like, What have I gotten myself into?! You may also begin to wonder as you wipe the spit-up off your shirt, Am I doing anything that really matters?
Then, that baby of yours starts sleeping through the night, and it seems like everything changes overnight. Your once-dependent, doe-eyed baby is now running full speed away from you to a destination unknown. They’re way more self-reliant, trying a lot of new things, and keeping you on your toes, literally and figuratively. They’re learning and discovering so many things about themselves and how the world works through observation and asking what seems like one million questions. Even still, you’re wondering in the back of your mind if you’re doing this whole parenting thing well.
Perhaps you secretly set a few goals for yourself for the day—goals that may feel small, but now feel way more lofty now that you have little ones running underfoot. Goals like . . .
Taking a shower
Drinking—and finishing!—your coffee while it’s hot
Having an uninterrupted chat with a friend
Doing a brain dump of all the things you’re currently thinking about
Eating and sitting down while you do it
Parenting is not the flashiest of gigs. It’s made up of hundreds of small, repetitive tasks. Nobody claps when you change nine newborn diapers a day or you finally convince your preschooler to wear the red sweater instead of the blue. Surprisingly, there are no awards for the stamina it takes to console a kid while making dinner one-handed. But it doesn’t mean you don’t deserve one.
So many hours of our time as parents are filled with mundane tasks that do not seem extraordinary or remarkable in any way. The list feels endless. So, at some point, you may wonder, did I do anything that really matters this week? Yes, you did. You showed up. Sometimes, being dependable is more important than doing something remarkable.
The first five years of a kid’s life establishes a critical foundation for their future — this time shapes how they learn to trust others, how they feel about their own abilities, and how they internalize motives for behavior and self-control. At the heart of every action and question, your preschooler is asking, “Am I safe? Am I able? Am I okay?”
When you are consistently present, you are answering your kid’s most heartfelt questions and needs. You are communicating to them that they are indeed safe, and you are setting a foundation for their future security and success. Even though no one will throw you a party to celebrate your efforts, the attention you give your preschooler now and in the weeks to come is making a difference. Believe it.