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Balancing “Control Freak” Tendencies While Parenting a Three Year Old

My entire life I have been borderline obsessive about being in control.

I have always felt like I have needed to do things my way in order for things to be done correctly. It’s my strong type-A personality. The to-do lists on my computer, my phone, on sticky notes, on calendars, and on notes on the fridge are never-ending. People who don’t have this same control freak mindset like I have think I’m totally crazy.

Planning a trip with me is really “fun”, as I always have itineraries planned to a T based on hours of research. I never go into situations where I don’t know what’s going to happen, and surprises are my least favorite thing. I rarely ask for favors because I feel like I can do it best myself.

Do I like this controlling aspect of myself? No, it’s actually very exhausting.

But it’s how I am, and anytime I feel like somebody wants me to change who I am, I get into an even worse mindset. So, I try to embrace my controlling tendencies while working to stop “sweating the small stuff” daily and just let things be.

And let me tell you. There is nothing that will make you “sweat the small stuff” faster than having a three-year-old.

Balancing “Control Freak” Tendencies While Parenting a Three Year OldHaving a three-year-old while living with a need for control is almost laughable, but also one of the BEST situations a control freak can learn from.

I have learned to embrace mood swings.

There is nobody with more unpredictable feelings than a three-year-old. My daughter will go from being the sweetest little girl to flailing on the floor, kicking and screaming because I sneezed too loud. I have learned that kids have big, big feelings and as parents, we should allow them to feel every one. Understanding that their outbursts come from frustration and knowing that with each one, they learn a little bit more gives me a lot more grace and compassion for when she turns into a maniac.

I have learned to have patience.

There is nobody more clumsy than a three-year-old. I am thankful every day that Crayola invented mess-free markers, because I have lost count at how many walls, floors, and areas of carpet from which I have cleaned crayons, markers, and paint. Learning how to take each mess and have a mindset of “it’s okay – she’s just learning” instead of losing my patience has been a fun and challenging learning experience. Plus, watching her learn how to do things by doing them on her own, without me managing her closely, has been such a joy to watch–even if it ends up not going perfectly!

I have learned that creating precise schedules are precisely pointless, as a three-year-old will make you late every single time.

I have learned to be more flexible in each and every plan and schedule I make. I even planned our last vacation WITHOUT an itinerary, and to my surprise, we still had just as much fun and nothing went wrong. Amazingly, I am a changed woman, and I like it.

I have learned how to react better to situations where I lose control.

In the past, every time that I was not in the driver’s seat of a situation, I would lose my mind (literally). Having a little human in your life who throws the ability to control pretty much anything out the window has proven to me that my reactions matter immensely.

I have had to bite my tongue, take deep breaths, and “fake it” more times than I would like to admit. But, they say that practice makes perfect, and I have been able to go from faking it to authentically react better to things out of my control. Responding with patience and compassion instead of anger and frustration make emotional and tense situations much better.

I feel like I am a better mom and person as I obsess less over control.

In the last year, I went from scheduling and planning out every aspect of my day to simply creating a list of things I need to do in a day and letting the day determine when I get them done. I have allowed myself to let others take some control of parts of my life, which has taken a heavy load off of my shoulders. And I have been so much more relaxed and happy overall.

Of course some days I need a reminder to be more patient, to let things go, or to ask for help. But overall, my three-year-old daughter, though all of her fits and messes, has taught me how to enjoy life and control less.

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