In my last blog I said I think I read the wrong parenting books. I was joking, but as I think about it more, I really did. I needed some realistic, how in the world do I do this, advice. The kind you can only get from another parent who is in the same trench as you. I recently spoke to a woman who shared a story about when her child was born and the photographer came into the hospital room. He asked her husband and her if they wanted to change the baby’s outfit for the photo. They said, “Um-we don’t really know how to do that yet.”
That’s the kind of story I needed to hear as a new mom! I remember being so mad at a commercial where the new mommy was sitting in a rocking chair in the beautiful organized nursery, with hair and make-up done, looking happy and well rested as she gazed down on her little bundle of joy. The thing that pissed me off the most was that she had on a cozy, attractive bathrobe and (matching!) clean white socks.
My reality was more like–no shower in who knows how many days, hair sticking up all over, dirty nightgown, bare boob hanging out, and screaming bundle of joy who needed a diaper change.
None of us knew what we were doing, but somehow we started to figure it out and continue to do so.
Sometimes I just have to remind myself, on those tough days, to focus on the basics. These are the things I have learned so far, in my 15 years of being a mommy, that are the most important to me. So here’s my parenting book, in a nutshell…
Let your kids know you love them everyday
A hug, a hand on the shoulder, saying, “I love you”, or whatever works for you. Just let them know they are loved. All kids deserve this basic knowledge.
No hitting kids
We learned this in preschool and I think it’s a lesson for the ages. There are so many better ways to teach kids to do the right thing. Having clear expectations and teaching kids that there are consequences for choices are important. Consequences should make sense though and hitting doesn’t.
Be consistent in trying to be consistent
This one is so hard for me! Some days it’s just exhausting to be consistent and follow through with things. We can only keep trying!
Celebrate each child’s strengths and interests
It’s so easy to compare my boys, but all kids have their individual strengths and may need help discovering them sometimes. We can help them with this.
Let your child see you make mistakes
We all make mistakes and it’s important for our kids to see how we handle this. Do we get defensive and deny it or can we say we’re sorry and do better next time?
Let your child see you have emotions
It’s okay for our kids to see us cry or get angry sometimes. How we handle our emotions is what’s important.
Let your child have emotions
Kids should know that all emotions are okay.
Ask for help
Some kids are just more challenging and sometimes, as parents, we need help! Asking another parent or a pediatrician for support and resources has been a great place for me to start.
Laugh a lot
Sometimes I just have to find the humor in a situation! And if I can do something wacky like my terrible Chewbacca imitation to get everyone else laughing, all the better!
My kids do play war type video games and watch some R rated movies. We have just not been able to totally avoid violence in this way. But my kids also see how my husband and I try to treat others with kindness and compassion and expect the same from them.
Enjoy the little moments
It’s so hard to be in the moment sometimes when things are busy but I have really made an effort to do this lately. When one of my boys is sitting down on the couch talking to me, I close the laptop or my book and listen. They know how important they are to me and I can savor these important moments.
Give yourself a break
This is a freakin’ hard job sometimes! My dad always told me that I didn’t need to be an ‘A+’ parent every day. ‘C’ days are realistic and totally fine!
And remember, sometimes it’s okay to let the photographer change the baby’s outfit for you…