No one who has kids is here to tell you that having kids is easy, or that some days aren’t awful, or that there aren’t plenty of reasons to be sad, or angry, or any other human emotion.

That said, we can all learn to be a little happier and more relaxed and in the moment if we don’t try to keep all of the balls in the air at once.

If you’re looking for ways to be more zen as a parent, people who have been there suggest letting go of these 12 things.

12. Fighting over food.

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There’s not a parent among us who hasn’t gone six rounds over one more bite of food, but listen. It’s time to stop. Put the food on the table, make sure there are choices and some of them are healthy, and then step away.

Anything else is setting your child up for an adversarial relationship with food.

11. “Supposed to.”

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Parents have always felt as if their family life is “supposed to” look a certain way, but the advent of the internet has made it even harder to ignore the way others are living.

If you let go of those “supposed to” feelings, though, you’re more likely to enjoy your family just the way they are.

10. Totally emptying your cup.

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Yes, parenting requires sacrifice, but you can’t be the best parent if you don’t take care of yourself.

What’s more, ignoring your basic need for self are could also show your children that they aren’t worth taking care of when they’re older, either.

9. Keeping score.

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Do you do more than your partner? Is your family more involved? Do you do more for your kid’s preschool class than the other moms? Are you always the last one to leave a party?

Life isn’t a competition. Repeat that to yourself until it sinks in.

8. Guilt.

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Avoiding guilt entirely as a parent is probably impossible, but we also need to recognize that, even if we fail, we’re trying our best.

Learn from your mistakes, make the necessary changes, but don’t spend any additional time beating yourself up.

7. Parenting by force.

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You have to set boundaries as a parent, but keep in mind that your child is a small human person, and small human people cannot be forced to do anything.

Kids are more likely to learn if they come to conclusions themselves, so try to give them the space necessary to do just that.

6. Negative messages.

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Instead of telling kids they’r “too” something – loud, quiet, inquisitive, bossy, exhausting, etc – try turning comments into positive statements instead.

People can’t change their personalities, y’all, and that goes for little people, too.

5. Yelling.

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If you tend to yell when you’re upset or frustrated, it’s not an easy thing to change. That said, consider this: has yelling ever improved anything about your relationship with your kids?

It usually frightens children, or at least intimidates them, and a feeling of safety and security at home is the most important thing when it comes to raising happy kids.

4. Your own childhood trauma.

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Don’t look at your children as a chance to change or fix your own past. They’re not you, and you’re not your parents. Everyone will be happier if you view this as an opportunity to start fresh, not re-write the past.

3. Perfection – especially for yourself.

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No one is perfect, no matter what you see on social media. More and more influencers are pulling back the curtain to remind people that everyone has flaws, which is awesome.

Everyone makes mistakes – as long as you learn and improve afterward, you’re doing the adult human thing right.

2. Worry (as much as you can).

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Worry and parenting goes hand in hand, but we all know that doing it excessively does more harm that good – for everyone involved.

Try as hard as you can to live in the present and not borrow trouble about the future.

1. Expectations from others.

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Every person is different, and that includes children. They all develop at their own pace, they all require slightly different handling in order to get the results you desire, and most advice that claims to be one-size-fits-all definitely isn’t.

Parent the child in front of you and you can’t go wrong.

I’m going to have to release a few of these myself.

If you’re a happy parent, share with us in the comments what else you would put on this list!