Prioritizing my worry list

I don’t think I understood how important it is to “pick your battles” until I became a mom. There are SO MANY small and large battles you could fight, an overwhelming, unending list of things you could worry about.  I learned the hard way in the beginning, but that’s sort of a new mom rite of passage, I think.

I began motherhood knowing that I wouldn’t ever be perfect at it, but dammit, I was going to freaking try! And so I fought all those unending battles – finding all the *best* gear, keeping clothes stain free, always having more than enough diapers in the diaper bag (and a backup stash in the car), doing everything in my power to make sure that my screaming baby never disturbed anyone other than myself while out in public (leading me to have no choice but to lock myself and my infant in our house for three months), keeping every spec of dust and debris out of reach of my precious child and his curious hands. Then, well, I was tired. I was SO TIRED. And so I started prioritizing… or maybe I just got lazy. Regardless, it made life easier. It lowered my stress level, and now I don’t feel so pressured to try so hard.

Kodak, the sponsor of this week’s lovely JuiceBoxJungle ad >>>, wants to know what three things are at the top and what three are at the bottom of my mom worry list, so here they are.


1. My kid’s safety – I’ve blogged about my Mommy Visions on here before, and how I can look at nearly anything that’s seemingly innocent and innocuous and vividly imagine how it might hurt or kill my child. I obsess about things like when to turn his car seat around, and what I’m going to do with him at the grocery store when he’s over 35 lbs because those grocery carts say it’s only safe to put them in the front up to 35 lbs.

2. What he eats- I’ve also recently started writing a lot about our efforts to eat more local, responsibly raised, sustainable. and organic food. However, from day one I’ve always been pretty consumed with what he’s consuming. I spent hours researching what fruits and vegetables I should introduce to him first and how to prepare them. I strive to offer a rainbow of whole foods at every meal. I truly think that my efforts are being rewarded by seeing how much my toddler loves nearly every fruit and vegetable he tries. I will say, though, that I don’t think of myself as a food Nazi. He’s had plenty of “bad” stuff from time to time, mainly because I don’t believe banning anything is going to do him any good.

3. His manners – It really stresses me out when he acts out in public. It truly does. Fortunately, I have to say it’s pretty rare. He seems to save most of his outbursts for when we’re home…. or stuck on a plane (which absolutely had me sweating bullets, but thankfully we don’t fly often). From 12 months to 18 months I was at a loss. He was a tiny little terrorist and I had no idea how to control him. He didn’t understand discipline, and I felt like everything I did to correct his behavior was only making it worse. I’m happy to report that the last few months have been much better. He at least understands the concept of timeout now. If I could just get him to stop laughing and running from me every time I tell him to do anything, I would be pretty happy with where we are in terms of his behavior.


1. Falls – Okay, oddly enough, I don’t even flinch when the kid falls anymore. Crazy coming from a mom whose number one worry is her child’s safety, I know. I think I’ve just come to terms with the fact that my little boy is a rowdy ball of energy, and he must have a pretty thick noggin. Also, it’s possible he’s part rubber. He falls all. the. time. The majority of the falls actually make him laugh. He also walks into things, like walls and windows, because he’s never looking where he’s going. He’s normally running away from me, looking over one shoulder and cackling like a little evil warlock. Then SMACK. I feel bad because when we’re around other moms and he falls they audibly gasp, run to him, soothe him, and ask if he’s okay all before I’ve taken a step. “Oh, he’s fine,” I always holler at them from across the room. And he almost always is.

2. TV-  I know this is a heated topic, but it’s one I just don’t feel that passionately about. I’m not killing myself trying to make sure my child isn’t exposed to TV until college, or even the first few years, BUT THE STUDIES!! some of you are shouting at your computer screen. Listen, I didn’t plug my kid in front of Baby Einstein for hours on end as an infant hoping he’d know his colors and shapes by his 1st birthday, and it’s not like he’s sitting in front of a TV, zoning out all his waking hours. I’d be lying, though, if I said I don’t rely on a little help from PBS, Nick Jr. and Sprout to get me through my day. As much as I want him to go play with his “open ended” toys that inspire creativity and imagination, many times it’s just not happening, and I need to get the dishwasher loaded without him trying to inspire himself by running off with a steak knife. Also, sometimes he just really wants to watch “Go-go” (Diego), and I just really want to drink some coffee and check Facebook.

3. Messes- This one extends a little bit further beyond mom into the Stay At Home Mom category, for me. When we made the decision that I would stay at home, I remember telling my husband how our house would be SO clean because I would have “so much time” to do things like mop the floors and organize the pantry. Really, I *actually* thought that… until I had my outside baby. I was drowning in guilt the first 6 or 8 months of Kendall’s life, trying so hard to stay on top of everything, including all the household chores that I HATED while living off of next to no sleep. Then I had a lightbulb moment one day when I finally accepted that my “job” is a stay at home MOM, not a stay at home mom/housekeeper/organizer, and I was actually doing quite well at the MOM part. Our house is clean most of the time to a certain degree, but don’t go looking at my baseboards or my tile grout. There are splatters of dog slobber crusted to the wall here and there that will probably only disappear after we paint over them. There is food permanently stuck inside a ridge lining the perimeter of my kitchen table. I don’t care. I tell myself all the time, “A toddler lives here, 2 dogs and a cat live here, a maid does NOT live here.”

So what about you? What are your top and bottom 3? I’m sure everyone’s answers will vary, but it will be interesting to see which ones end up being the most popular.

Kendall is 21 months old, and right now I’m not worried he’s been napping for nearly 3 and a half hours

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  1. For me things have definitely changed form when she was younger. Germs used to be number 1 on my list but they have gradually fallen to the bottom 3.

    As she is now 4 years old and I’ve seen things first hand, I worry about other kids. Just the other day at school she was told that she wasn’t cute because she was wearing pants and that she is not cool. I worry about how kids are judgmental and treat one another like crap–yes at 4 (wth are parents teaching kids!). And I also worry because I don’t want her to be like that.

    Top 3:
    *Safety–I can be as safe as possible, but there are still crackheads out there that are texting and driving, driving recklessly, etc.

    *Other kids/parents and their influence on her. I try to teach her a certain way of being and doing things. It’s hard to explain why it’s ok that the other kid is talking about poking her butt and that’s ok for her, but not for my kid.

    *I want her to be well rounded, healthy and smart. Who doesn’t? I don’t ever want her to fall behind. I’m not one of those crazy pusher parents, but I do want to give her every opportunity so she can decide what she wants.

    Bottom 3:
    *Germs (thank you antibac)

    *Messes (this used to be another thing that I freaked about. Now, if we skip a bath now and again, no big).’
    *Food: my kid is 4 and weighs 31 lbs. When she was in the negative 3rd%, I was told feed her whatever she wants, she needs calories. At this point, I try my best but realize that she won’t eat it if she doesn’t like it. I try to give her great options, but realistically, I know I can’t force her to eat if she doesn’t want to–despite what other parents say.

    • Man, kids can be so freaking harsh. I definitely dread those situations as he gets older. I can see how other kid’s influence would definitely become more important as they get older. Ugh. So not looking forward to that.

  2. Ok, I agree with what you have above with a few modifications.

    Top concerns: Diapers and clean underware. Not concerned with putting socks on twice, especially if they are already sitting on the ground.

    Top concern: Public humiliation. I try and avoid this. Tegan is in this phase that when we’re in a store he’ll start saying “go home.” Once in a while I’ll get some sweet old lady say back “oh, has mommy had you out all day shopping?” Um, no lady he’s two and shopping all day is not even an option so shut it. Not a concern are any meltdowns that occur in our own four walls. Work it out kids.

    Top concern is love. I try and tell them each everyday if not often and give many hugs.

    And finally something I don’t care about is having them do what I think they should do. If Braden wants to take a game and use it’s pieces for a war or a different idea, I hold myself from correcting him and just let his creativity flow.

  3. Worries at the bottom of my list:
    I used to be so paranoid about the GERMY GERMS that we would not go out in public at all. The library, the mall, the park – all were cesspools of invisible disease. It was ridiculous. Now we go to the children’s museum and he may chew on a toy some other kid has chewed on and the world will just have to keep spinning. (I chilled out once he got vaccinated.)

    Because my little man rips his socks off immediately, I tend to keep him in sleepsuits all day. Otherwise his feet will get cold. So, yes, judge me, my kid is in public in pajamas.

    Top of the list:
    I am big on exposing him to books and reading to him a lot.

    Nursing him was really important to me.

    Also – obviously – sleeping throughout the night! Not in our bed!

  4. love, love, love this post!

    i was just talking to some other mom friends last night about what i worried about when pregnant and what i worry about now.

    top worries:
    safety-sometimes i am still amazed that i am responsible for this little person.
    food-he is becoming a picky eater and i am afraid he is drinking too much milk and not enough good food.
    development-i worry that i am not teaching him well enough, i worry about his speech mostly.

    tv-i had all these grand notions when pregnant that he wouldn’t watch tv, then i woke up and realized sometimes i have to turn it on for my own sanity (or to shower, or make a phone call)
    messes-i have come to realize my house looks like a toddler lives here, because one does
    sleep-i am never going to have enough, so if he will sleep another hour by being in bed with me then i welcome him with open arms into our bed

    i also agree on the “clean enough” socks

  5. I’m not going to play along, but I have to agree with you here on the stressing out thing. I tried so hard to be perfect that my husband was almost to the point of hating me. I couldn’t just enjoy our baby for the first 14 months of her life, I had to be upset with her because I couldn’t get the carpet clean and the dishes done and the laundry finished, all by the time my husband got home. I’m positive for a while she thought her middle name was dammit. I was bowing and scraping, apologizing for toys being on the floor. No wonder he was disgusted. Things are getting a little better for us, it’s no messier, because I just never could do it all, but I am a little less stressed.

  6. my list is very close to yours:

    1. safety. this covers everything from being “crazy” for ERF to researching every single vax and medication Em will/has ever received.

    2. what goes in her little body. i think eating GOOD food can stave off disease, impact chemical balances in the body/brain and is the root of many (if not most) health related issues. it irks me that if there’s not short term effect we – as a society – think “meh, i came out okay. it can’t be THAT bad for you”.

    3. self image. this is probably due to having a girl, but when i see 4th graders obsessing about wearing low rider jeans and hooker boots i shudder. i am also insanely worried that i will raise a sweet girl who won’t have the self esteem to “just say no” or think that things like “sexting” is run of the mill.

    god – i need to invest in a bubble.

  7. Top –
    1. Manners
    2. Education
    3. Financial ability to go to college … this one kind of goes along with #2. I was lucky enough to be able to attend college, and come out of it debt free. My husband, not to much. It is so important to me that my kid be able to get a good education, come out of it with a fresh start … and not be paying for it when HIS kids are starting college.

    Inbetween –
    Food. I obviously don’t want him eatting junk food 24/7, but I am pretty laid back when it comes to what my kiddo eats. Dino-shapped nuggets, organic fruit, milk, juice, goldfish … whatevs. Everything in moderation.

    Bottom –
    1. Messes
    2. Schedules
    3. TV

  8. L.O.V.E this post!

    Bottom Three
    1. Germs– I still use a clorox wipe on the grocery cart…but other wise… not concerned real anymore. The more germs he is exposed to now, the less he will be sick later.

    2. Clean House– I had the exact same rational…I’ll be home and the house will be so freaking clean! It will be amazing how clean it will be! Your post about embracing the fact that a toddler lives in the house changed me. A real, live, kid lives here, and so does his toys and his mess. (I am soooo thankful we have dogs to clean up the floor after he eats!)

    3. TV– That issue is not even on my radar!

    Top Three
    1. Love–I want him to grow up knowing his mom loves him. Knowing he can trust that love.

    2. Saftey– especially stairs

    3. Food– I want him to LOVE veggies. And to be exposed to a wide variety of types of food. Not just the same 6 meals every week.

  9. Great post. I’ve been reading your blog for well…. over 18 months now. Just wanted to say I am so excited to hear you do not keep your house spotless. I work 4 days a week and feel like since I’m on part time, I should be able to keep the house clean too. Except for the fact that the reason I went part time was to spend one day home with my kid (6mo), not become a maid. I am trying to readjust to that fact. I did recently buy a steam mop from costco and I have to say with a kid nearing crawling stages, it’s the best $90 i’ve spent for my sanity. At least I can tell myself he won’t be crawling in total filth, just the occasional dog/cat hair tumbleweed.

    • You know, a long time ago we had a steam mop and for some reason we decided to get rid of it. I can’t believe we did that! I’d give anything for one right now.

      Oh, and thanks for reading for so long 🙂

      • Ha, I didn’t mean to sound braggish about how long I have read the blog… was going to say “but this is my first comment” just to identify myself.
        And I suppose I should have actually answered your blog questions! I’m new to this. Right now top three concerns are:
        1. spending enough time with him so I don’t feel like his babyhood passed me by. Going to 4 days a week has really helped with this. This isn’t really a child rearing concern, as I know he’s well loved and cared for both at home and daycare, but it occupies a lot of my thoughts.
        2. Safety. Obviously.
        3. Food. We’re still nursing and I recently discovered a possible dairy allergy in him. 2 years ago if someone told me I’d give up cheese and ice cream without batting an eye I’d laugh in their face! But seriously, I am having fun making baby food at home!
        Bottom 3:
        Germs – he’s in daycare after all
        Everything by the book – for example no more than 10 minutes per day in a jumper! etc. Eh…..

  10. It’s interesting to read others thoughts on this topic. Having two kids now has shifted my concerns significantly. I had every intention of teaching my oldest to behave, eat well, learn to read early. I did NOT meet any of those insane goals. She’s a pretty good eater now (she’ll try things, while complaining), she’s turning into a great reader (she’s in first grade) and she mostly behaves. The second kid shifted how hard I work at some of these things.

    1 – Behavior. It’s pretty important to me that both girls are well behaved in any situation. They understand what I expect and what I will not tolerate. They are also keenly aware that I’m not afraid to take action in public. Clearly I’m not going to start a screaming match at the store, but I am not afraid to reprimand and remove them if necessary. Typically though, other threats work just as well. no dessert tonight, early bedtime, etc. They’re well behaved for the most part.
    2 – Education. It’s important to me that they become good students, good readers, and good writers/spellers. These skills are important forever.
    3 – Safety…I too can imagine every situation turning into the injury or death of my child. I try not to overprotect, but I admit that I do if I can’t be reasonably assured of safety.

    1 – Food. I will not fight about food. I admit that I still sometimes push hard, but in the end, if she doesn’t want it, she doesn’t eat it and I may or may not offer something else depending on the day’s habit.
    2 – TV. We watch it. Plenty.
    3 – Messes – Kids are messy. and sticky. and resourceful. If I kept a super clean house, they would still find a way to make it sticky and messy. I limit the big cleaning to the weekends, and even then, fun comes first if necessary. Messes can always be cleaned up later.

    Honestly, I’d keep them locked away until they’re 18 or older just to keep them safe, education and uninjured by the outside world. Obviously they aren’t going for that idea.

  11. This is one of those times I feel really out of step with other mothers. I don’t really have a worry list. Even as I read this and tried to think about what I worry about, not too much came to mind.

    Chemicals – I focus on keeping her diet veggie-heavy and organic, same with cleaning products (I only use vinegar) but I don’t know that even that reaches “worry” level. I mean, I use the cheap, disposable diapers because the 7th generation leak on her and with daycare, we never really got into cloth or the g-diapers like I thought we would when pregnant.

    I have my moments of “ack! I’m not doing it right!” But they’re pretty short-lived and then I get tired and think: You aren’t going to go live off the grid, eating your own organic, home-grown veggies, and organic home-grown/milled cotton garments, so since you can’t hit 100% perfection, don’t sweat it. do the things you can – buy organic veggies, make that the bulk of her meals, and if she has a gerber box lunch on occasion, she’ll survive, even thrive. Shoot, even if it’s one of those weeks and she has 3 boxed lunches she’ll still do okay.

    I kinda get the “love” thing, but again, I don’t worry about it because Ella is wonderfully lovey herself and her father is so wonderful with her, it would never occur to me to worry that she didn’t feel loved.

    I guess the one parenting thing I do concentrate on is developing her own sense that she is just great the way she is. I talk to her about the things she does well, that she doesn’t do so well, yet, and maybe she will excel at them and maybe not.

    I want to build up the habit of talking to her now about it. I have changed, ‘You’re so brilliant!” to “You’ve worked so hard at learning your shapes! You must be so proud!” I talk about myself that way, too, when I do well at something or when I don’t. It’s all part of me and it’s all good.

    • Lisa, I think you have a great outlook on things. Honestly, it took me all week to come up with stuff in list form. I think mainly I’ve just learned to focus my efforts more or less in each area. I know I’ll never achieve perfection in any of them, though. I like the focus you’re putting on her sense of self. I feel like I need to work on that a bit.

  12. Great post topic!

    My top three worries:
    1. Is that cold something more. I think this worry stems from being a RN and also reading too many blogs about sick children.
    2.Safety but really safety when he is out of my sight. His father is much much more relaxed with him running the sidewalks of the city. Way more than my own comfort zone. I can have a heart palpitation just thinking about this!

    My bottom three worries:
    1. Normal growth and meeting the usual milestones.
    2. What food goes in to him. A bottom worry because for the most part we feed him pretty well but a worry cause I do think about it.
    3.Being well rounded.

  13. Pingback: Top 5 most annoying toddler shows, according to me | Baby Rabies

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