Well, since I have four kids, I often get asked lots of parenting types of questions. Some are about education, like "when did you start teaching colors, letters or numbers to your kids?" Or,"wow, your kid was reading at 4, what did you do to make that happen?". Some are developmental: "when did you start potty-training" or "how old did he learn to tie his shoe", "what do you do when you all go out?' "do you take them all out to eat?" "do you take them all shopping?".Here it is...
Some parents get freaked out by other children's milestones. Just like I do from time to time. It is easy to compare your kids to others. Let's face it, no one wants their kid to be behind of the norm. Most of us would like their kids to be near the top of the class. However, the constant comparing can drive one nuts! I am no expert, just a mom of 4 under 9. So here is my advice to new parents,parents of toddlers or parents to be!
1. Don't compare your kids to others. They will all come to their own in their own time! Follow a book on child development and benchmarks, instead of friends, family and strangers kids! (this will save you lots of wasted hours trying to make your baby roll over at 3 months and read at 3, like I TRIED TO DO!) If you are feeling like your child is behind others or you want to get them a bit ahead, I use workbooks! Lots and lots of books! My kids must do 3 pages in them a day. Usually before they are allowed to play or have dessert. I keep track of how they do and make a mental note on what to focus more time on or what book I need to buy them!(or see what your Dr says if you are really concerned)
2. Enroll your baby/child in lots of classes with you AND without. This not only opens up your day to new people and experiences but to make new friends. The time away will strengthen your child's coping and independent skills but will give you a chance to catch your breath and have time to yourself! It is hard to let go, but is a must! They will be OK...promise! Better even!Enrolling in sports and camps when they are older is great too! It helps form friendships and confidence. Additionally, they learn the world isn't all about them, teamwork is involved!I try to make them well rounded!
3. Find a great babysitter. Go out at least 2 times a month-if you intend to stay married! Day to day with babies and toddler and tweens can be DRAINING to one's mental well being. Let's face it, it is hard. You need a break. She/he will survive with a babysitter for 3-4 hours once in a while. ( you marriage depends on this to have a wife/husband as oppose to________'s mom/dad) (~fill in your child's name).
4. Wine or beer with some chocolate after a long day(and they are in bed) is a MUST! (In moderation of course) This helps me stay sane and is just fun! Just an idea! I have a few squares of chocolate or a dark-chocolate covered marshmellow(thanks to my in-laws for these..they are heavenly). M&M's work well too, a handful should do ya! Enjoy and savor this time...you deserved it!
5. Remain calm, crying and screaming and some wild thrashing is going to happen. (Not just for your baby, but you too). I am still working on this!The moment they are put in your arms game on! They will try their best to break you....and it is your job to remain in control! This is a really hard one. Some can push your buttons more than others! Each had their moments...some more than others. Sometimes during a tantrum, I laugh, like out loud! The reactions from my brood are kinda funny! Remain the one in control or they will eat you alive, promise this to be true!
6. This is an important one, NEVER let you kids sleep with you! It may be cute as little newborn, but not so cute when they are 4...trust me! Once you start, you can't get back the precious sleep again..well maybe when they are 8 and embarrassed to be sleeping with mommy and daddy. I had this happen with #3 and # 4.
Tank is finally broken of this habit and sleeps well most nights, Q is still a work in progress at 2 1/2. Sleep training is a MUST! You can not remain calm, in control if you have had no sleep. Day after day you will lose your mind! (I have time to time). Be strong and firm, they will try to break your heart with every excuse....make them excited about their room and their space. Decorate it, light it up with fun night lights, cool blankets, glow in the dark stars. We use a "good night doggy light" in the little boys rooms.It goes through 5 colors all night long..or on a timer for 45 minutes.
7. Food. OK, do you want a picky eater? Well, no right? Once solids can be introduced and finger foods start, the magic begins. Don't just give them only goldfish,Gerber puffs and cheese on the tray. Put green beans, corn,avocado, cooked asparagus, feta cheese, pickles, even kiwi. Cut up strawberries, Mandarin oranges,cooked broccoli are great! I still buy one or two rotisserie chickens each week and use that for lunches,dinners.Q loves rice and black beans for lunch with some rotisserie chicken mixed in! Tank is more of a plain Jane. He will eat it if it is not mixed up. My older two eat EVERYTHING! When out and about, I pack diced apples in baggies and strawberries. I also make veggie sticks and hummus for them as a snack and can go on the go as well! they have the peanut butter on the go cups and I pack celery to go with them. We never just put ketchup on their hamburgers we make them deluxe(lettuce,tomato,onion, mustard, mayo, pickle). Same thing with pasta. No plain sauce is served (OK, most of the time). I put veggies in with the sauce. We have fruit and veggies at each lunch and dinner. (Not veggies for breakfast unless it is spinach in the smoothies I make for them).We do chicken pesto with tomatoes. Tank has a texture issue now, but I put baby carrots and squash in his sauce for lunch time. I love the book Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeild. ! (thanks Mom) it has great ideas how to sneak good foods into the foods they already love! Check it out!
8. Speaking of Mom's, if you have one, USE her! She has been there, done that! (dad too)Call on her as needed. She will be glad to help! Besides, she can lend you a break or give you some ideas for various issues! Don't be afraid to ask for help....I don't! :) She always knows the right answer!
9. Eating out and going out in public with toddlers is a new hot topic. Dr. Phil just did a show on this topic. Don't agree with his stand,but it was note worthy! I think your kids need to be exposed,from a young age, how to act in public places. Restaurants, stores, toy stores(really)., church etc. The only way to teach good behavior (besides demonstrate) is emerging. This is hard on all of us. A 4 and 2 year old are not the best company at a tipping kinda establishment. So, we start off at Wendy's, McDonald's, Taco bell whatever. Teach how to sit in a seat, eat quietly and bring activities. Then add a mid-station. Like a buffet, or a order and wait to be served kinda place. The wait for food is a hard one. This is where you try with all your might to keep the quiet, calm and reserved. hard to do! However, this is when the learning patience comes into play. We know that there are times that one must bring the kids to a wedding, party or school function. The only way to give them real life experiences is have them have lots and lots of practice! It is hard on the parents, believe me, even embarrassing but well worth the fuss when the time comes that you NEED them to behave! We are training Q to do this currently!
10. Have fun! This time will fly by soooo fast! I wish i enjoyed each stage a little more! For example, the 3-6 month age! It is MAGICAL! They begin to let you know what they want and smile at you for no reason at all!. They stay put and are content with minimal effort! Each age is special and unique. Even between kids can be so different. Enjoy each moment and milestone as tomorrow will bring so much change you can hardly stand it! Life with kids is challenging, exciting, depressing,humbling,stressful, elated,tearful,exhausting, and joyful. Just enjoy this ride we call parenthood!
*by no means am I an expert. I am just a mom of three boys and one little diva! I have two by adoption and two I grew. I have a lot more to learn as mine pass each new stage. However, here is my advice to those that want and need something to hold on to as they begin to parent!
Linked to http://www.mamakatslosinit.com/blog/ in response to her writing prompt Advice I would give to new parents! Check her out!