This conversation is sponsored by Playtex Baby™.
When I was growing up, I always wondered if I would have my own daughter someday. I wondered if I would have a little girl to dress up, braid her hair, or take shopping with me. I dreamed about having a mini-me to put in a tutu and take to ballet and have late night talks with. When I found out Charlie was a girl, I internally squealed with excitement. I had my son, and now I would have my daughter. All my “Mommy and Me” dreams were coming true! The sheer elation that came over me quickly shifted into another range of emotions, more on the anxiety/terror spectrum.
Because I am a female and I was a little girl, all the challenges and confusion of times past flooded my mind. How would I raise her? How will I protect her heart and spirit? How can I teach her things that I have learned in a way that she will consider and not ignore? How do I help nurture my sweet baby into a strong, independent, productive woman?
I began to think of the core things I wanted her to know as a little girl in this big and scary world. There were many things I didn’t grasp until I was much older, but I wish I had had them as mantras in my bedroom as a kid. I can’t control whether or not she will heed my advice, but here is what I came up with.
1 | Kindness, work ethic, and education is more important than “pretty” will ever be.
When I was a kid, there was an old school emphasis on “pretty”. Between beauty pageants, glamour shots, and complimentary pats on the head from the older generation- it seemed apparent from an early age that my physical beauty mattered…a lot. (Spoiler alert: it DOESN’T.) I mean, take showers. Take pride in your appearance. BUT. The rest is irrelevant. Be the light in someone’s day. Work hard, and never stop learning. I don’t even necessarily mean a formal education, but there is always something to learn and a million ways to learn it.
2 | Everything is temporary.
There will be many times in your life that you want to give up. Sometimes it might even feel like this life isn’t worth living for one reason or another. When you are younger, it feels like those times can’t possibly pass. THEY CAN and THEY WILL. Wait it out. Everything in life ebbs and flows and there will always be peaks and valleys. Live for the peaks, be patient through the valleys.
3 | There is no greater gift you can give than being a good friend.
My life’s fullest moments and greatest memories revolve around the friends I have made (and kept) over the years. If given a choice to risk losing a friendship, never take that chance. Friends are the family we choose and there is nothing more special than that. Be loyal, trustworthy, supportive, and love them with reckless abandon.
4 | Never harbor regret.
We all make mistakes. Mistakes are inevitable. The key to success is to use the mistakes for growth. Don’t look back, just keep growing. Regret goes hand in hand with shame, which breeds a cycle of sadness and self hate. Take risks, accept failure as a positive experience, look for the lesson, and keep moving forward.
5 | Hurt people… hurt people.
I can’t tell you how many times this statement has helped me release anger or drop a grudge. If someone is hurtful to you it can be devastating. Remember that it isn’t about you- it’s a battle they are fighting with themselves. Their behavior likely stems from their unhappiness or insecurities.
6 | You don’t belong in anyone else’s box.
Forget what everyone else wants from you. From society, to boyfriends, to… gulp… your parents. Find what makes you happy and productive and cultivate that. You can be anything you want to be and you can grow anything you plant and water. Being a woman is hard because SO much is expected of us. At the same time, you can be so many beautiful things at once. Stay true to who you are.
7 | Stay realistic about social media.
This isn’t something I had to deal with when I was young. I didn’t even have a cell phone until college. As a grown adult who’s work revolves around social media, I can see what a slippery slope it could be for a developing mind. The highlight reels and fabricated realities of people on social media can suck you in to the comparison game. It can easily make you feel less than someone else. Keep it all in perspective and please take time to unplug and step away. Never lose sight of reality. Don’t underestimate the value of old-fashioned phone calls, and NEVER say anything to or about someone on the internet that you wouldn’t say to their face.
8 | You don’t have to love your body at all times (no one does), but don’t let body image control your life.
It’s a little bit unrealistic to tell people to love their bodies at all costs. No one loves their body 100% of the time. The important part is to not let it define your self-worth or impede on your life. I have cancelled plans because I felt “fat” in something. I have stayed out of photos when I thought something about my appearance was sub par. Don’t do that. Eat the cake. Enjoy your life.
9 | A notebook and some sleep can change the game.
Writing things down and resetting with some sleep are a winning combo that can make you a new person. Having a lot of feelings? Write them down. Had a great experience? Write it down. Are you super angry or worried? Go to sleep. (I promise that everything seems way worse than it is on little sleep.)
10 | Your reputation is arguably the most important thing you have.
This is something my Dad taught me and it was been proven true over and over and over. One thing to keep sacred is your reputation. While you should always stay true to who you are, what people perceive does matter to an extent. In your childhood, you will have a greater access to the internet than I did. Hear me now: the internet is forever. Think before you make a poor choice, and definitely think before you plaster it online somewhere. Your reputation will be what helps you make friends, influence people, and excel on the path you choose. Be careful.
I’m proud to be a Playtex Baby™ ambassador, which is one of the brands I trust to give Charlie the best start in life. Playtex is familiar and trusted by so many parents. They have a large product line from feeding to diapering and more. As Charlie explores her new found independence, she is loving the Playtex® Toddler Utensils and Playtex® Use 3 Ways Plate/Use 3 Ways Bowls. The utensils are small (but not TOO small) with a grip on the handle for easy use as she learns how to feed herself. The bowls have silicone bottoms to prevent spills, they are microwavable, and stack for easy storage. When it comes to toddler dinnerware, Playtex has us covered.
While the list of things I want my daughter to know is infinite, these ten stood out to me as critical pieces of wisdom. Do you have any tips on raising strong, smart, independent girls? I would love to hear them!