helicopter parenting, mama judgement + and three kids later

When you first have a baby it's pretty terrifying. Wasn't for you? Awesome. It was for me.

We were the definition of helicopter parents for the first while. We never left our baby's sight, never let her to cry even for a minute, feared constantly, hovered continuously, and enjoyed little. Eventually it wasn't new-found parental confidence, nor freedom from the judgements of others, but due to sheer exhaustion that we loosened up a bit. I was also pregnant with our second when our first was only 5 months old, so you know, letting things go.

With each additional little one we have gained confidence in our ability to parent, we've learned and grown a ton, and have feared less. But especially regarding other parents. Aside from the 1263572794 fears we had regarding our own parenting and the safety of our baby, there was also the perceived judgements coming from other parents. At the park, at the cafe, on the street, at church, online. And I say perceived because I'm sure a lot of it was in my head. Some people just want to chat, help, educate, and do so without an air of superiority or judgement. Some people. Not all.

But while we can't control the actions of others, we can control our response, and three kids later that is much easier! Today I was at a great local kid-friendly cafe, Village Cafe. It's a place where moms can enjoy a coffee and the kids can happily play. But every-single-mom there was down on the floor playing with their kids, correcting their kids (and others), and diffusing arguments while their coffees grew cold.

My coffee was hot.

My coffee was enjoyed.

My kids were not angelically playing the whole time, but I left them to work it out. Heck, I used their free wifi and checked instagram.

My coffee, five years ago, would have been cold. I would have felt like I needed to be there, on the floor. Never missing a second. Helping them play, because gosh, without adults, how will kids know how to play!? Sarcasm.

And I even had a mom make a couple of comments to me, regarding my lack of involvement. When Chloe couldn't figure out a puzzle and squawked as one-year-olds do, she quickly said in my direction, "I think someone over here needs some help!" and then later when I was reading with Oli across the cafe, Chloe had a minute of not knowing where I was so she cried. Seconds later she saw me and went back to playing, but again, that mom commented. "Someone needs her mama! She's afraid because she can't see you". 

And five years into parenting, I'm fine with it. I wasn't even mad. I felt completely free. If in that mom's heart, she thinks I'm a neglectful parent or not committed to my kids enough, that's fine. I know better, and I don't need to defend or correct her in return. But I also don't need to beck to her suggestions, which five years ago I might have.

One of the great things about having three kids so close in age is that it's  impossible to constantly be there, to meet their every need, to never leave their side. Even if I wanted to (which I once did), I can't help them with every problem, every conflict, or every skinned knee. And I think they're better for it.

Of course, I'm all for parents being present. I chose to stay at home with them so I could maximize the time with them and have a strong influence on them. But with a growing family, I still can't always be there, and they're stronger, more independent, more resourceful because of it.

My desire to helicopter parent was quickly squashed by exhaustion and human limitations, and I'm so glad it was. Today I'm still a mom in progress, but I feel free from judgements and outside expectations like never before. It might have taken five years, but it's good to be here.


  1. Yes, yes, yes! This is exactly the type of mother I believe I am, and hope to be. Ever present but a step or two back, so that they are learning their independence and to play well with others- not just me! I never could understand my friends who were constantly following their toddlers around, helping them, feeding them, etc. Good for you for not feeling the judgements of other moms! Great post.

  2. Thank you for this. I have struggled so much with all the comments that people make, too (our kiddos are currently, 5, 3, and 19 months). You reminded me that my sometimes "neglectful" state (according to others) is actually helping them grow!

  3. I love this post! I can relate to it 100%.
    I was the poster mom for helicopter parenting with our first child.
    Three kids later my parenting style is exactly the same as yours because that's how it has to be when your a mom of three and honestly I'm so glad I was forced into this parenting style. I have three very independent kids because of it :)