As a girl who grew up in the backyard playing baseball, roller-hockey, and making mud-pies, I was more than a little nervous when the ultrasound tech looked up and said “There is your daughter!”

You see, at a young age, up until I was about 20, I hadn’t ever spent time with little girls. My brother had two sons, my cousin is a boy, most of the neighborhood kids were boys, and the ones that were girls really weren’t keen on being my friend. I always dreamed of having a little girl but when it came time I realized I had no idea what to do with one.

My daughter is now 4 and while I learn something new about raising girls every day, here is a list of 5 things I definitely know about raising girls.

1) One size does NOT fit all

We all know women come in all shapes and sizes but for some reason we tend to put our daughters into two categories…tom-boys and girly-girls. But what if your little girl loves to roll in the mud while she plays princess? Well, my friends, it means you have a GIRL. Little girls (and big girls!) are fluid creatures with ever-changing likes and interests. How awesome is that?

2) They copy EVERYTHING

Imagine my horror walking into my 4 year old daughter’s room to see her trying to make her tiny tummy smaller. Yeah, that happened. What brought this on? A conversation that my little love overheard between a good friend of mine and myself talking about what we were going to target at the gym. I made the comment that I just wanted to get a flat stomach, and yes, my four year old heard it, processed it, and made the connection to her own little tummy.
*cue mom-guilt*

Even when we think they’ve got their “selective hearing” ears on, it’s not the case!
Our girls hear WAY more than we think – so if you’ve got a little Miss at home, practice positive self-talk because the things she hears you say will go straight to her heart!
3) Raising girls is a challenge

We’re living in a society that says girls have to be beautiful, and smart, and funny, and gentle,  and strong, but not too strong, and athletic, but definitely not more athletic than the boys, and patient, and self-sufficient, and….you see where I’m going with this.

Raising a girl with so many societal expectations is tricky! It’s a constant back and forth between what your girl should be and is. It starts at a young age. Magazines and even the Disney channel tell girls every day who and what they should be.

In a world where there are so many back and forth arguments for what a girl should be, remember – all a girl needs to be, is herself – and she’s looking for you to show her how.
4) Girls need to see their moms dance

The best time I have with my daughter is when we turn on music and dance in the kitchen. We shake our booties, giggle, and twirl. But why is it important? Because it shows her that it’s ok to take time to be silly and to celebrate little things – like having 10 minutes to dance. Yes! That is a reason to celebrate! When my daughter sees me dancing, she doesn’t care that my moves are ridiculous (ok, let’s face it, they really are!), she sees that I am taking time out of my day to just be with her. So go on, dance with your girls – make some memories that will last a lifetime.

5) “Girls become lovers who turn into mothers”

At 4 years old I can already see my daughter growing up and practicing for when she is a grown woman. I can see her learning how to resolve conflict and respond to the world around her. Our daughters are taking cues from us. Everything we do is under their little microscopes and will shape how they grow. We are raising the next generation of women and that is a huge responsibility. But remember to enjoy it, because soon they won’t be playing with dolls, they’ll be holding their own babies. “Go to work” won’t be a game anymore…it will be how they pay their bills. So let them be busy being little girls for right now. Let them “borrow” your money to pay for the groceries at the store. Get on your pjs and watch Doc McStuffins for the billionth time this week.

You see, your daughters don’t care if you’re a girly-girl or a tom-boy mom and they don’t care how you dress. They care that you love them. They care that you spend time with them. That is what they will remember, so relax, and have a little fun with your girls!

Written by Katie Fleming 8/12/16

Katie Fleming is the owner of The Lake Country Doula . She is the mother of Liam (5) and Lyra (4). She enjoys spending her time cleaning up the same messes she cleaned up yesterday and singing songs from Daniel Tiger.