How Often do You Praise Yourself?

One recent afternoon, Linden was (suprisingly) contentedly sitting in her stroller on the way home from the park. We passed by another mom and child combo, and the mother looked down at Linden, smiling. “She looks so well-rested and happy! She must be a good sleeper!”

It wasn't this day.

It wasn’t this day.

Now, if you’re a parent, you understand how big a deal baby sleep is. For those of you who aren’t parents, I will try to explain: Everyone jokes about how you will inevitably be sleep-deprived after your kid arrives and until your kids move out of your house. But one night as you sit there bleary-eyed with your wakeful infant for the 3rd time in the past 5 hours, the reality of that little joke will suddenly bubble up, and it will spill into every second of your day and night, like milk suddenly boiling out of the pot and scalding its way across the entirety of the stovetop. Your child’s sleep becomes an obsession. You read multiple books, Google your way through insomnia (yours or your kid’s), you ask every parent you meet–perhaps even before knowing their names–“how does YOUR kid sleep?” hoping that they’ll either say “like shit” so you can feel better about yourself, or “wonderfully” right before they share their magic sleep secrets with you. You quickly learn that even though we all need sleep, you cannot force another person to sleep. No amount of sheer will on your part will make your kid sleep. And when your child does sleep through the night, it is the Holy Grail of parenting. That first day after the first time your kid sleeps through the night makes you feel like Bradley Cooper on that little clear pill in “Limitless”–you feel like you can do pretty much anything.

That's more like it.

That’s more like it.

So for another parent to remark that your kid looks well-rested is practically as satisfying as being told that your kid is a genius.

As we continued home to make dinner, I thought to myself, “yeah, she is a good sleeper.” Linden was a sleepy infant. She was doing 10-hour stretches when she was a few weeks old. But then that stopped when she was about 3 and a half months, and the inconsistent sleep continued for many, many months thereafter. It’s only been since about this January that she has become a good, consistent sleeper whom we can count on to make it through the night 11-12 hours without waking. And it took a lot of patience, trial-and-error, and most importantly consistency to make that happen (consistency, meaning our evenings are quite inflexible and we have no social life). So the compliment made me feel proud. I felt like “yeah, I have done a good job with this!”

It’s so easy to focus on the things that are not going well. And especially as a parent, those failures really weigh on you–if you’re like me, you sometimes take those “failings” personally. We are surrounded by so much commentary on parenting–blogs, books, TV shows, Dr. Google, message boards on parenting sites, other parents, the example (or shadow) of our own parents. While it’s great to have so many resources, it’s also easy to let that glut of information weigh you down and make you question your parenting decisions.

But chances are, there is at least something that you’re doing well! How often do you take the time to reflect on your victories? Because once you praise yourself for one thing, you’ll start thinking of other successes, and the end result will be a big boost in confidence.

Linden in the morning.

My happy kid in the morning–wearing pajamas on her head.

And of course, this advice is broadly applicable, even if you’re not a parent. Whether it’s reflecting on your job performance, your appearance, your relationships—celebrating the victories, no matter how small, will help you get through the tough spots.

So stop beating yourself up! Be kind to yourself. And get some sleep…

Do you take time to reflect on your success? And how about it–does your kid sleep?

15 responses to “How Often do You Praise Yourself?

  1. I love it! I have also recently learned to ”celebrate the victories.” It makes a big difference. Thanks for this post. It reminds me of the earily days. The days that are about to begin again.

    • Congrats! Haha, I’m still getting over the shock of #1–4 is impressive! I do look forward to being a bit more laid-back and confident with the next ones. At least, I hope that’s how it goes… 🙂

      • I thought the transition from one to two was harder than from two to three. I’ll let you know when four comes. But I have heard from people who have no problem with the transition. You’ll do just fine. Have a nice day.

  2. I don’t have any children yet and have to say my biggest fear about having children is the sleep deprivation! But I think you are right that this can apply to everyone. It is so easy to focus on the negatives and the things you aren’t getting right in life and to completely ignore all the positives!

    • Haha, you learn to function on a lot less sleep than you previously were able–it’s kind of amazing actually. Yup, the negatives seem to hold so much more weight. I think sometimes we’re also uncomfortable with self-praise and self-promotion. Thanks for reading!

      • I figure many people have children and survive so it must be possible but I do love my sleep so it’s hard to imagine! I agree self-praise and self-promotion just don’t come naturally to a lot of people but this can be worked at. I really enjoy reading your blog, I’m glad I found it!

  3. I’m well passed this stage sine my kid is grown. However she wasn’t such a bad sleeper, pretty good in fact. However she did like to sleep with me when she was in elementary school!. I guess it was comfortable to her. I try not toput myself down but sometimes I do but think sometimes what I think I did wrong worked out best.

    • Haha, yes, I’m sure there will be many moments of going, “Hey, that actually WORKED!” Such a complicated process of trial and error, parenthood… Thanks for commenting!

Leave a Reply to Jean Brown Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s