There are some things that absolutely should come in a manual, handed to you upon leaving the hospital with your newborn. As I was reading a few of my younger mom friend’s questions on facebook tonight, I felt inspired to pass on a few of the ideas, suggestions and divine interventions of wisdom I have been given in my 19 years of mothering. Jesus + this list = You, making it!
1. Never make a happy baby happier. Don’t move their head, offer a toy, pull out the passy. Until they hit verbal skills, crying will be a constant. If you are not hearing wails and whines, for the love of your sanity, leave them be!
2. There is more than one way to cook a chicken. Find your approach as a mom and in your family, and don’t worry about whatever the new parenting fad happens to be. This applies to sleeping patterns, nursing, bottle feeding, immunizations, discipline, TV, diet, education, Santa Clause and all the rest. The main thing is to find a method that works for you and your child!
3. Make peace with daily laundry. Remember when you used to have a laundry day? That ship sailed the day you gave birth. View laundry like doing the dishes and you won’t be so stressed about it.
4. Learn the name of your pediatrician’s nurse. Call her and ask what to try before bringing your child in for an appointment, to avoid contracting every virus in the waiting room. Also, the first morning appointment and first appointment after lunch have the shortest wait times.
5. Bubbles are the best bang for your buck in terms of distractions and diversions. Keep a bottle in the car, for when stuck in traffic or waiting someplace like the car pool line. Keep a bottle in your purse for when the food is taking too long at a restaurant. Keep some at home just for fun.
6. Speaking of diversions, keep a small bag a toys/books/snacks that you only use in a certain, frequently difficult location for your child. That might be restaurants, or church or the grocery store. But the idea is, you have a special little bag that they only get at that time. They look forward to receiving the goodies and it distracts them from being fussy. The Dollar Store is a great place to find those kind of goodies.
7. Once they are big enough to be in the bathtub on their own, let them bathe while you are cooking dinner. Most kids love bathtime, especially if they have toys in the tub, and for many it is calming. This can really cut down on the mania while trying to get dinner cooked, plus it makes it easier at bedtime as they are already clean and in jammmies.
8. Rule of thumb for birthday parties: one guest for every year being celebrated.
9. The best family traditions are the ones you grew up with, have significant meaning or created a really special moment. Try lots of new ideas, recipes and projects- but don’t feel pressured to make it a permanent thing unless it really means something to you. Also, remember whatever you establish will double or triple in cost and energy with each new child added to your family.
10. When going through the “power struggle” toddler years, give your child choices, but limit them. Red shirt or green shirt? PBS or Disney Channel? Often the choice of “nothing” is helpful to offer, as in, “You can have the goldfish for snack, or nothing? Which would you like?” This gives your child some control, and I cannot tell you how many times my kids would choose nothing rather than what was offered.
11. Limit your child to one sport per year. This keeps costs lower, schedules more reasonable and allows for everyone in the family to have their time in the spot light.
12. General rule of thumb: if it’s swollen, put ice. If it’s tight, use a heating pad.
13. Do not be room mom for your first child in kindergarten. Take at least a year to see what the norm is for a room mom so you don’t kill yourself doing more than you need, or feel like a slacker later.
14. Boundaries with Kids is a wonderful book on parenting. Jesus Storybook Bible is a wonderful children’s bible.
15. Kids should quit bathing with their parent or other sibling by 8, or before if they develop a more modest personality.
16. Professional family photo’s don’t have to be done yearly. Every couple years is plenty.
17. Rule of thumb for clothes shopping: if the child doesn’t like it, we don’t buy it. If the parent doesn’t like it, we don’t buy it. Then everything in the closet has been agreed on by both people. Eliminates a lot of battles later!
18. To avoid the battle on “it’s not fair”, have one child cut the cake in half, the other child chooses their piece first. Also, assign seats at the dinner table and in the car.
19. Make a “no discipline” commitment to driving the kids to school and dinner time. Unless the child is directly disobeying in those moments, deal with discipline issues at other times.
20. Say yes to everything you can, say no to things that are physically, emotionally or spiritually dangerous, or cause chaos in the family.