If there’s one absolute about parenting, it’s that there’s a huge learning curve. You might have read all the manuals and attended all the prenatal classes, but nothing can fully prepare you for what happens after your baby arrives.
If you could turn back time and give your first-time-parent self some advice, what would it be?
One mom, blogger Casey Huff, took to Facebook recently to share the advice she wished she’d heard before she had kids, and parents all over the world have helped her post go viral.
The post is not only filled with practical advice — for example, give those tiny baby shoes a swerve, they’re very cute but completely pointless — but also makes important points about self-care, marriage and enjoying family life.
Mom-of-three Huff begins the post with something all sleep-deprived parents are desperate to hear: “You will in fact sleep again. Someday.”
She then offers some reassurance to moms who may be feeling guilty over how they’re choosing to feed their tots. “Breastmilk is really good for babies. So is formula. Do what you gotta do. They’re your boobs, it’s your baby,” she wrote.
In fact, easing parental guilt is an ongoing theme of her post. “Screen time is not the enemy,” she insisted. “Make sure whatever your kids are watching is age-appropriate, then sit back and drink your coffee in peace. (Also, prepare yourself to have at least one cartoon theme song stuck in your head at all times).”
And she’s all about the ways you can make getting through the day (and mealtimes) a little easier. “Always have an extra large bag of chicken nuggets waiting in the freezer for quick lunches or nights you’re too tired to cook dinner,” she wrote.
The biggest takeaway from Huff’s post is that parents need to give themselves permission to trust their own instincts. In other words, you do you.
Don’t feel guilty for posting endless pictures of your kids on social media, and if you ever succeed in snapping a photo of the whole family looking at the camera at the same time, Huff added, “frame that sucker. You might not get another until your kids are all teenagers.”
Don’t worry if your kid wears mismatched socks now and again. Don’t feel guilty if you make a mistake; learn from it and do better next time.
Like all parents, Huff knows there just aren’t enough hours in the day. So don’t waste any of that precious time stressing about the things you might be doing wrong — or worrying that your house isn’t spotless.
At the end of the day, all that matters is love.
“Loving your kids in all of their forms is 95% of a job well done,” she wrote.
She also has advice for those parenting with a spouse or partner. “Marriage is a tough job, and throwing a baby into the equation will rock the boat more than you ever imagined,” she wrote. “Keep working at it; your spouse is worth it.”
Finally, you might want to say these words to yourself, over and over, until they’re ingrained — or print them out and stick them where you’ll see them, every day: “You are a good mom. SUCH a good mom. Extraordinary, really. There will be many days when you forget that, but that doesn’t make it any less true. You don’t have to be perfect for your kids to really, really, REALLY love you.”
This story originally appeared on Simplemost. Checkout Simplemost for other great tips and ideas to make the most out of life.