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10 Things Every Parent Is Doing Right

02/02/2015 04:55 pm ET | Updated Apr 04, 2015
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The longer I've been a parent, the more I believe that every parent is getting something right. We so often feel like we're screwing up our kids, ruining them for life or setting them up for lots of therapy in their adult years. But, in reality, I think we could all use a little pat on the back. Especially from ourselves.

Maybe you think you aren't doing anything right? My guess is you probably are.

1. You sacrifice yourself. Daily. Every mom and dad does it. Whether you work or stay home, it doesn't matter. Moms and dads sacrifice themselves. Their bodies. Their peace of mind. Their personal space. We all sacrifice something. Why is this a good thing? Because sacrifice helps us grow. It helps us become less selfish. And we learn to serve. Service is a good thing.

2. You also take time for yourself. This one seems to contradict the last one. But it's SO important. If you're doing this, you're doing something right. Letting someone else hold the baby while you take a nap? You're taking care of yourself so you can be better later. You're also teaching your children you're human. Girls' night out? Perfect. You're re-filling your soul and reminding yourself that you are more than just a milk machine. You're a human being who likes to laugh at stupid stuff with your friends, and then come home and appreciate your babies more.

3. You feed your children. Mac and cheese or all organic? It doesn't matter, really. I recently told my kids that we had cheese on our broccoli almost every time when I was growing up. They thought that was weird. I told them it was VELVEETA, and they didn't even know what that was. I was proud. But, then I fed them mac and cheese for lunch. If you feed your kid breast milk, or formula, you're doing a good job. If you make your own baby food or buy it, you're good. You're giving sustenance and feeding another human being! You're getting it right. Because, hello. You're feeding them and they are growing.

4. You clothe your children. Maybe they stepped out of a Baby Gap ad, or maybe you are lucky if you remembered underwear. Either way, you wrestle tiny bodies into clothing so that they don't go out into the world baring everything. Booties are covered and feet have shoes on them, so you're protecting your kids from serious injury. Every day. Good job, mom and dad.

5. You manage a household. Maybe you haven't changed the sheets in three months, or maybe your house runs like a well-oiled machine. Doesn't matter, really. Either way, running a house takes immense amounts of effort and work. If you manage to do laundry often enough that a kid doesn't look homeless, then it sounds like you're doing a good job. If your house looks like a Pottery Barn Kids catalog, good for you! Tell me your secrets, please? Are you cleaning the bathrooms at 2 a.m.?

6. You play with your kids. Maybe you hate make-believe. But, trust me -- you're probably still finding a way to play with your kids. Maybe you read with them, or take them to the park, or watch movies while you cuddle. You don't have to play Barbies for it to count that you've played with them. I have to really be in the mood to play with my kids in the make-believe kind of way. I do it, sometimes. But sometimes? I keep it simple. We play a game while we're eating dinner, or I teach them how to cook. Whatever you do with your kids that is even slightly fun (which most things are for kids), count it. Spending time with them is what matters.

7. You celebrate magic. When you're a parent, you've got a lot on your plate when it comes to this one. The Easter Bunny, Christmas, the Tooth Fairy. It's all so exhausting. Let's not even talk about that little Elf on the Shelf. Whatever it is you do, if you've got kids, you're celebrating magic. Maybe it's not fictional characters. Maybe you walk slowly around the block and let them inspect every leaf and rock. Childhood is the best time to believe in magical things, and even if your Elf on the Shelf doesn't wrap the toilet in toilet paper or some other crazy escapade, if you're helping your kids believe in something magical or letting them enjoy the little things, you're doing it right.

8. You sometimes don't screw up. Sure, there are plenty of times you do, but we're not talking about those. We're talking about the times you get it right. Like the time that your kid told you about his science fair project the night before and somehow you stayed up late when you were TOTALLY exhausted and helped him put it together. We're talking about the times you did stay calm and didn't yell. The time you actually remembered that it was crazy hair day at school. If you kept a running total, you'd probably realize that you don't screw up just as often as (or even more often than) you do.

9. You're a teacher. I underestimated this as a parent. Not only do we teach them basic things like eating, talking, walking and SLEEPING, but we have to teach them crazy stuff, too. Like, why licking the pavement is not OK, and why we don't peek under the door of the bathroom stall next to us in a public restroom. You have to teach them not to interrupt, how to be a good friend and how to be a responsible, respectful, kind human being. As a parent, you have to teach E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. So, good job for being a teacher of all things common and crazy. You're probably doing it right.

10. You're surviving. "In the trenches" is a term I hear thrown around a lot. But, let me tell you, some days it definitely does feel like that. Last night, I got no sleep. OK, maybe like two hours. But today, I accomplished 25,000 things. If you're a parent, then you're putting one foot in front of the other and getting stuff done even when you want to hide under the covers. And, let's face it, days turn into weeks, months and then years. And before you know it, you realize that you WILL come out alive on the other end -- despite the sleep deprivation and the extra 20 lbs. you put on eating your kids' leftover mac and cheese. So, good job for surviving. You're almost there.

Parenting is hard. Some days it sucks, and yes, some days we mess up. But remember the most important thing -- you're doing the best you can, and YOU are the best parent for your kids. So you're probably doing it right. No matter how your friend, neighbor or enemy might be doing it.

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Do you know a parent who is doing something right? Or maybe they feel like they aren't doing anything right? Then share this post with them. I'm sure they'll thank you.

A version of this post was originally published on Meredith's personal blog, Perfection Pending. For more posts like this one, find her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter @PerfectPending.

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