I think it’s the hardest job on the planet, by far. These sweet pieces of heaven are sent into our lives with nothing but a hungry belly and a loud mouth. No instructions. No How To DVD. Not even a tag on the back so you know how to wash it.
I have made my fair share of mistakes with my boys. I have no problem admitting that. I just wish I would have known what I know now when I first brought them home. But that is part of the parenting process. Learning by trial and error. And hopefully, by the end of the day, we’ve done more good than harm!
So here are just a few things I wish I would have known!
*It’s ok for a baby to cry. OK, don’t get me wrong here, I don’t think you can spoil a newborn. I think you should attend to their needs as quickly as you can. They will not learn a lesson from crying at this point. But at some point, you need to show your child that they can wait. If they are not hungry, in pain or covered in poop, they can wait just a moment. Stir dinner so it doesn’t burn. Go to the bathroom without balancing them on your knee (it’s possible, people, just not convenient). Take a moment to breathe and calm down if you need to. They can wait. The world will not fall out from underneath them if they sit in their swing for just one moment longer so I can brush my teeth before noon!
*It’s ok for kids to feel disappointment. It’s good for them. We can’t always get what we want, but for some reason, we think that shouldn’t apply to our children! I made that mistake with my first born. Oh, he doesn’t want that, get it out of here! Oh, he wants that, quick, give it to him before he cries! NO, NO, NO! Please, for the love of God and your own sanity, do not do this! A toddler is old enough to understand that sometimes, you are told no. Sometimes, plans change and no we can not go to the zoo today because it is raining. I can remember trying so very hard to avoid every possible moment of disappointment with Chandler only to have ruined him. He is getting better, his 9 year old mind is able to understand life a bit more now. But there were some hard (unnecessarily hard) years of him not being able to handle the slightest let down. Lesson learned for Mom and Dad!
*Make healthy eating and exercise habits from the start! There is nothing harder than changing the eating habits of a three year old. So start how you mean to go on. Do you want an obese 13 year old with diabetes? Of course, not, so don’t feed your child twinkies and coke at a young age because it’s inevitable that as they grow, they will continue to make bad eating habits and cringe when you try to feed them healthy food. Encourage your children to spend more time being active than watching tv. You can’t change the rules on a six year old who’s used to playing video games for hours on end without a fight. So teach them young that exercise is a priority and tv and video games are a luxury. But take heart, while changing to a healthier lifestyle when your kids are older is more difficult, it is not impossible! You can do it and they will thank you later!
AND MOST IMPORTANTLY
*You are your child’s biggest example…so watch it! You yell, your kids yell. You forget to say please and thank you, you will have an ungrateful, demanding child. You eat junk food, they won’t touch veggies with a ten foot pole. It’s a simple idea, but a lot of work. But when you choose to become a parent (or when God chooses for you) you don’t have a choice. Do the work. You won’t regret it!