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Parenting: The Journey of Ups, Downs, Twists, and Turns

Where does one begin to talk about the ups, downs, twists, and turns that come with parenting? Perhaps it starts from the day you find out you’re going to become a parent. The mixture of excitement and surprise, intertwined with the fear of questioning what type of parent you will be, is profound. How will you balance work, your relationship with your partner, and the myriad responsibilities that come with being a parent? The questions and thoughts can seem endless and overwhelming, stirring a whirlwind of mixed emotions.

Then come the dreams and expectations we set without even realizing. We fondly recall things we loved as children or vow not to raise our children the way we were raised. The significance of these emotions and dreams grows as we count down the days until our child arrives. Then there’s the rush to get the car seat ready and the bags packed by the door for the big moment.

Leaving the hospital, some parents feel a blend of joy and exhaustion, fear and wonder. Sadly, some leave with an empty car seat due to sickness or loss. Parenting is a constant roller coaster of emotions and thoughts, taking a toll on anyone who embarks on this journey.

The key realization here is pondering how we can continue to pour into our children with love, patience, and kindness when we ourselves are exhausted. Finding balance is essential for the family unit and is incredibly challenging in today’s fast-paced world. This understanding is crucial for parents. Why? Because parenting, while filled with happiness, laughter, and priceless moments, also includes sickness, missed days of work, and stress to keep everyone else happy. The list goes on. Parenting is not only hard and exhausting but also scary and emotionally draining. This aspect is often not discussed enough, leading us to grin and bear it, trying to maintain the façade of a good parent, hoping things will get easier with time. This approach, however, can leave us depleted, potentially leading to a lack of patience and understanding towards our children’s still-developing brains.

According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (2016), the developing brains of young children are highly sensitive to input from their social environment. This underscores the importance of our parenting approach in their developmental process. By finding balance for ourselves, we model mental, emotional, and physical health for our children.

Being real and truthful about the challenges of parenting helps in understanding that there is no such thing as a “perfect parent” or “perfect child”. Shedding these unrealistic expectations is crucial for a healthy understanding of the parenting role and all that it entails.

Here are a few tips to help in setting and maintaining healthy boundaries in self-care and parenting…

  1. Prioritize Personal Time: Scheduling time for yourself and your spouse is vital for mental health balance.
  2. Set Clear Expectations: Communicate with others about what you can realistically handle.
  3. Embrace Saying No: It’s okay to decline requests or invitations that don’t align with your family’s needs or your well-being.
  4. Avoid Over-scheduling: More activities don’t equate to better parenting. Over-scheduling can be exhausting for both parents and children.
  5. Be in the Present: Put down your phone more often and engage fully with your family. This also sets a good example for your children.
  6. Schedule Downtime: Make sure to have unstructured family time and relaxation periods.
  7. Appreciate the Small Moments: Sometimes, the little things in life are the most meaningful.

Remember, you’re not alone in this journey. If you need support or guidance on how to set and maintain healthy boundaries, please reach out. I’m here to support and assist you on your parenting path.


National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education; Board on Children, Youth, and Families; Committee on Supporting the Parents of Young Children. (2016). Parenting Matters: Supporting Parents of Children Ages 0-8. H. Breiner, M. Ford, & V. L. Gadsden (Eds.). Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US). PMID: 27997088.

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April Wazny, MA, LPC

April Wazny received her Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Liberty University. She is passionate about working with children, adolescents and families. She has over 10 years experience working with children, families, blended families, trauma, Autism Spectrum Disorder, special needs and special needs parental support. She has 21 years of experience with Military families.

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