Friday, February 01, 2013

40 Things I Learned In the First Ten Years of Parenting

A friend recently asked me what I have learned from kid one to kid four. I didn't have a good answer right away but as the week has worn on, all sorts of things have come to mind. Some more significant than others. Before I knew it, I had a list of forty!

1. In 0-3 month pjs, zippered is highly preferable over snapped.
During those first three months before the baby is sleeping through the night, it is much easier to zip pjs in the dark than to correctly snap them, especially if you have to create both legs with snaps. Heck, that's truth night or day.

2. Babywise works.
    I've done it four times, twice with a girl and twice with a boy. No child took longer than 11 weeks to sleep through the night. Feed Wake Sleep. And feed every 2.5 to 3 hours. It just works.

3. Swaddle. Double swaddle when necessary.
     Babies like to be secure. Think about where they just came from. If you've give birth to a Houdini capable of busting out of the swaddle in less than five minutes, double swaddle.

4. Make your own baby food.
     I cringe at all the money I spent on jar food. Use the jar food for back up and for when you don't have anything baby friendly at the house. But other than that, feed them what you're eating or make it for them. And never buy a jar of bananas.

5. Much of the 'equipment' they market to new parents is unnecessary. And takes up lots of space.

6. Sometimes babies cry and there's nothing wrong. They just need to cry.

7. The more parts there are to a toy the less you want it in your house.

8. Until about size 2T, kids go through clothes really fast. Don't spend a lot of money.

9. Keeping a written log of whatever you're struggling with will help you see the progress instead of just the frustration. (crying before falling asleep, # of ounces taken/feeding, times they get out of bed, potty training, forgotten items for school, etc.)

10. Be an advocate for your child - but that's easier to say than it is to be.
Whether it's at school or the church nursery, sometimes you just have to politely advocate for what your child needs. Our systems are set up to teach to the middle and if that's not your kid, you have to ask for more.

11. Naptime becomes room time and no kid ever out-grows that.
Because parents need a break too.

12. Kids are not "mini - me"s. I think I thought they would see the world just like me, react just like me, and like what I like. They don't. I'm glad. 

13. Even a toddler can help unload the dish washer or the dryer, help sort laundry or put toys back in a box.

14. "Cutting the apron strings" is important in raising independent self-sufficient kids. This happens in small steps all along the way so that it's not an abrupt drop when they go to kindergarten. Or overnight camp. Or high school. Or worse, college.

15. It will eat you up when (and they all do at some point) your kids have a social problem at school.

16. Phases. A lot of it is just a phase. Be consistent (ignoring it, disciplining it, calling attention to it, undoing it, pretending you don't notice, whatever). Despite how it feels, it won't last forever.

17. It IS possible to raise kids that don't whine. Just don't tolerate it.

18. Baby equipment takes up a lot of room.

19. Diapers are expensive. Potty train early. Between 18 and 24 months. Even earlier if you can manage. (and yes, they can do it - despite what the AAP says.)

20. Never judge another parent with a tantruming kid at the store. You will be in their shoes someday.

21. Your kids will surprise you with what they can handle sometimes if you just give them a little freedom to show it off. (Seriously. Two Sunday mornings ago, Daniel, age 6, made his own scrambled eggs. I didn't exactly give him permission to do that - I found out after the fact, but I sure was impressed.)

22. Family traditions are important to kids. (and moms too)

23. Teach your kids manners and to be respectful. That alone gives them a huge advantage wherever they go.

24. Another family that's a few steps ahead of you can be an enormous resource. They are far enough ahead to have gotten through it, but not so far that they've forgotten how it felt.

25. Trust your instincts. Even as a first time mom (or dad), you are very often right.

26. Sometimes, the doctor is wrong.

27. Kids are hungry after school!!

28. You'll need lots of excuses for why the tooth fairy didn't come. (It's so easy to forget. yes, even consecutive nights. Our current record is 4.)

29. Decide what works for your family and then do your best not to worry about what everyone else is doing. It's hard not to feel pressured to keep up or compare, but each family is so different.

30. Kids go through a lot of shoes.

31. If you have hats, gloves, snow pants, and boots that properly fit each one of your kids in any given winter, there will be no significant snowfall that year.

32. When you know better, you do better. Sometimes we just have to adjust and not look back.

33. No one really knows how to discipline and raise kids. You make it up as you go.

34. Anticipate their moves - proactive is better than reactive. Be prepared for anything.

35. Sometimes lightening the mood is better than making a point.

36. Putting kids in close confines (like sharing a room) often leads to a closer relationship between them (though not always).

37. Kids do better when the expectations are clear. (and the consequences too.)

38. Kids can do just about any chore you really dislike. :)

39. Overstimulation is a major cause of babies not being able to sleep.

40. Finally, you can't parent perfectly and you can't parent all by yourself. 


Mary Ann Eads said...

Julie, You gave lots of really good advice for surviving parenthood!!! We are not trained before the birth of #1. Perhaps we are stricter with the first child, but we become more relaxed & lighten up a little with each additional child.
Your #40 is vital and SO important
for your sake and the kids' sake also!!! Kids need to have parents united in their upbringing.


Love, Grandma & Papa Jim

Kevin and Michele said...

Love this list!!! So well thought out and written.

And #38... I thought I was the only one who did this ;)