Please read this with the caveat that I only know how to parent the child I currently have. But in general I’ve learned….
1. All the words to “Goodnight Moon”. Literally, all the words- by heart. I can ( and have) recite the entire book as a performance piece.
2. TV isn’t the devil. Be selective about what and when, and TV can actually be a spark for creativity ( and sanity).
3. Some kids don’t like typical kid things. By some kids, I mean my kid. By typical kid things, I mean large birthday parties, playing in the snow, bath time, and … You get my point. It’s fine. Your kid is fine.
4. You will survive the first hospital trip and subsequent stay, the first shots, the first high fever, the first bout of flu. It won’t be fun or easy ; you’ll feel raw the entire time, but the next time won’t be as bad.
5. Finger painting and crafty activities should ALWAYS coincide with bath day.
6. If the child pukes ON the dog, fight your natural instinct and clean the dog first. The dog is going to shake that puke all over your walls; your child will be okay waiting till you put (throw) the dog outside.
7. You can never have too many dinosaurs or too much play dough.
8. Pediatricians run late 80% of the time- prepare accordingly because kids get sick A LOT.
9. Your toddler is going to act out in public. And someone with an infant will look at you and say, ” My child will NEVER behave that way.” Resist the urge to physically attack this person, smile and sweetly say, ” Wow, I hope you’re right.” And then just wait….
10. If your infant/baby doesn’t like to be passed around, it’s fine to say so. People will roll their eyes at you and criticize you for your parenting, but -AND HERE’S THE REAL LESSON- they are going to do that anyway. At least you’ll have stood up for your baby and you won’t have to deal with an overstimulated, screaming baby for the rest of your evening.
11. Take pictures of the whole family. Often, I’m the one behind the camera (phone), so I’m not in the picture. I rely on other people to take pictures of me with my son and husband (and future baby). Please take pictures with the mom included.
12. The play area at any mall is actually a toddler version of The Hunger Games.
13. Always over-prepare. Bring extra everything (especially snacks), have a car bag full of more, and pray it all goes well.
14. Kids are going to pick their own nose. No one needs to teach them. Same with burping and farting.
15. Pick your battles in terms of grandparents and their grandparent privilege. Some extra sugar is no big deal, teaching the kid to “pull my finger” or burp on cue are much bigger deals (in my opinion). Decide what matters and only speak up when it does.
16. If you don’t want your child to learn a behavior- don’t show them the behavior. If you want your toddler to speak to adults with respect, show him how ,everyday. If you want your toddler to whine and complain, show him how, everyday. It’s all the same lesson and same methodology.
17. Comparing kids, even your own, is a no win game. You are going to lose. I promise (Same rule applies to husbands, houses, waistlines, and bank accounts).
18. Your child will absolutely sleep thru the night when you have insomnia.
19. Don’t apologize when your kid acts like a KID. Children are not small adults. They are young people who are still learning how to socialize and BE in our world. They are going to yell, cry, grab things, hit, puke, poop, say ridiculous things, and generally not cooperate with our adult world. It’s developmental- if they don’t do those things, you need to worry.
20. Everyone is going to give you advice. Repeat after me, “Hmm, I hadn’t considered that. I’ll have to give that some thought.” THE END.
21. If Grandma says the baby needs to go to the doctor- go to the doctor. She’s done this before. You won’t regret the copay.
22. Don’t make your bed. Because even when you do, the toddler (and Daddy) will destroy it playing “tent”. As my son says, “That’s his job”.
23. Write down the cute things, record the way they say zebra- find some way to file those idiosyncrasies in your memory. You swear you will remember everything, and you’ll try – but it’s impossible.
24. Give your child opportunities for other people to love them. And while other people are loving on your kid, love on your husband.
25. You are not right all the time. No one is. It’s okay. Use the times you are wrong to teach your child HOW to be wrong.
26. You need friends who are moms (and dads). These people will become your support staff and fun night out. I didn’t realize this for so long because I felt guilty leaving my son to go out to dinner with friends. But I need these people.
27. You know that thing you hate? The one that grates your very last nerve- your kid is going to do it (your husband probably taught him).
28. Outfits don’t have to match. They just have to be seasonally appropriate and on the child’s body.
29. Get over your poop issues. It’s going to be a major part of your life (Why do kids need to announce they are pooping?!)
30. Sharing is not a natural trait. It is a learned skill. Adults don’t share the prized possessions we ask kids to share. I’ve had a lot of luck teaching my son to take turns. The other day he asked for a turn with my glasses and my wedding ring…
31. Don’t be mad at your husband because he doesn’t act like you. He’s not supposed to. Together you make the perfect team for your child.
32. Hold them while they sleep. Let them sit on your lap. Hold their hand. Look at them when they talk to you. You aren’t babying them. You cannot ever give too much love.
33. Whether you work or stay home, it’s all hard. It’s just a different hard. Respect the sacrifices that are made.
34. Keep chocolate in the house.
35. You will despise your pets for the first few weeks after you bring your newborn home. That’ll go away.
36. Be kind. Kind to yourself. Kind to your husband. Kind to your child. Kindness is an under-appreciated approach to life. No one cares if your floors are clean if you are kind. Kind does not mean soft. Kind does not mean weak. Kind is the only way to approach the hard life we all live. Kind is the only way to raise a child to be a successful adult. You will never regret kindness.
Happy third birthday to my funny, wonderful boy (who insists he’s a baby elephant). You made me a mother and changed the course of Daddy and I’s lives forever. We love you and love learning along side of you!