A Compilation of Must-Have Mom Advice (Possibly my Longest Post Ever!)
I have been a mom for 4 years. Over those 4 years (and even prior to that when I count my years of babysitting, nannying, and going to school for Child Development), I have learned countless pieces of advice about the infant stage, the terrible toddler phases, preschooler challenges, and general mothering. Some of these pieces of advice I laughed at and then learned later on how absolutely invaluable they really ended up being in my life. Some of the things I thought were amazing and oh-so-wise I eventually realized were not in line with my parenting style, my beliefs, or my kids' personalities/learning styles. I wanted to put together a list of random tidbits, advice, and tricks of the trade I have found to be crucial in my four years of mothering. Take what you like, throw out what you don't, and bend others to your liking. Enjoy!!
The Infant/Baby Stage...
When your baby has mastered the pincer grasp and is self-feeding, keep dry finger foods readily available at ALL times and in ALL places for ANY situation that may arise. I'm talking about Cheerios, dried fruit, etc. Keep packages in your car, ziploc baggies of the food in your purse, in the diaper bag, one in the pantry ready to grab at a moment's notice when heading out the door, etc.
Either read every book out there on caring for an infant, or don't read any of them. I'm kind of exaggerating, but also...I'm kind of not! With my first baby, I followed Baby Wise BY THE BOOK (pun intended.) And you know what? I wish I had known more. I wish I had read some other thoughts and ideas about feeding my baby, about when and where to let my baby sleep. I wish I was well-read on both mainstream ideas and also attachment parenting. I would say I pick and choose from both sides of the spectrum at this point in my mothering career. And I would also say, I am much more open to trying new things (and therefore finding out what is best for each individual child, based on their special, individual needs.)
Get that baby adjusted. I know, I know, here I go again. If you know me, and you have a baby, you've probably heard my "talks" about everything a Doctor of Chiropractic can do for your fussy, whiny, colicky, difficult, gassy, constipated baby. But you know what? It's true. Chiropractors can do amazing things for people, but in my experience, the most obvious, clear-as-day results happen when babies get adjusted. We have seen it first hand with all 3 of our kids. If you need some examples, just ask...I'd be happy to share ;)
The Toddler Stage...
Keep extra sippy cups in your car's glove compartment for misc. use. (The Take and Toss cups are great for this.) You can use this for little snacks for your child when they need something for the car ride, you can buy one drink at a restaurant and split it b/w two or three of your children and still have their water cups available for later, etc. etc.
Let them explore. Chances are, they'll probably be okay. Let them touch things, allow them freedom outside to (GASP!) even get a taste of a few leaves (they might just spit them right out and your job will have just gotten a thousand times easier for getting over that battle), stop and watch when they attempt new things instead of running to "save" them, and don't be afraid to let them eat what you're eating (butter, salt, spices, and all.)
The Preschool Stage...
I feel like the preschool stage is where the "REAL" parenting starts. Not like the years prior to this aren't important...of course they are! (They set the STAGE for the preschool years.) Around ages 3-5, though, seem to be when the parenting tree branches go every which way. Children are so different - emotionally, in their learning styles, whether they're sensitive or tough, their maturity levels and whether or not they reason well with you as the parent, their understanding of their relationship with others/the world, and on and on. All of these things come into play prior to the preschool stage, but I feel like THIS is when it drastically changes how we all deal with our individual children. The only piece of "advice" I can say I have learned so far with our four-year-old that would apply to everyone would be to pray. And I'm not really trying to be funny :) I mean pray for yourselves as parents, pray for your children, and pray for the people your children come in contact with. I think these are the crucial years in shaping our children.
Keep wipes readily available. (Kind of like the snack thing!) Keep some in your car, some in your purse, some in the diaper bag....These are needed for any age or stage, including wiping your own hands off after many, many disgusting things a mom finds herself having to do.
Shower at night. I don't do this all the time, but my life is SO much easier and enjoyable when I do. My shower is peaceful and enjoyable, the morning is not rushed, and I am a calmer mommy. If I am going somewhere I need to be presentable the next day, I just straighten my hair. If I am sticking around the house or running errands or taking the kids to the park, my hair goes up! If I am going to the gym....I just stink until I can get a shower in...usually that evening right before my hubs gets home!! (but we'll keep that to ourselves, right?)
If you have more than one child, cut EVERYONE'S nails on the same day. We generally bathe all of the boys together (or I bathe Eli in the sink and the older boys take a shower with Daddy) and then everyone plops down with me on the couch to watch a video while I go down the line cutting 60 little nails.
Lay out clothes the night before if you want to have any chance of getting out the door on time in the morning. (Again, more applicable if you have more than two kids.) Take it a step farther and do absolutely everything you can that night to be ready for the next morning. I have diapers and clothes laid out, the diaper bag packed, snacks/lunches made if needed, and (most importantly) socks and shoes are with the clothes. (Looking for stray socks and shoes in the morning is one of the most stressful things for me personally. For some reason, not being able to find a shoe as we're walking out the door just sets me off. If I can go ahead and put the socks and shoes on them at the time of getting dressed, I am good to go. My kids enjoy wearing shoes in the morning, b/c they know it means we're going somewhere fun...so they don't take them off and lose them throughout the hustle and bustle of getting around to get out the door.)
Sing!!!! Sing while you're changing a diaper, turn directions and "commands" throughout the day into song, hum and whistle while you work, and make up lyrics to things they are asking you for overandoverandover. They will laugh, you'll find yourself finding joy in the things that would have been pushing you over the edge, and once again...your day will be generally more pleasant and up-beat.
When you find yourself feeling frustrated, short-tempered, wanting to hit the door running (WITHOUT the kids), do the thing that feels like the last thing you want to do at that moment...sit down on the floor/on the couch/(or better yet) in your bed and snuggle with your kids. Forget every single thing on your to-do list, and take time to remember why you are doing any of this in the first place. Read books together, let your kids make you some pretend food, talk to them, listen to them, hug them and tell them how much you love them. Not only will this bring you down to earth, it will end up making your day a delightful one...I can just about guarantee it.
Being a Wife...
Don't forget your husband! Again, I'm not trying to be funny. It's TOUGH being a mom and having to take care of all of your kids, the house, the whining, the "I need/I wants," the CONSTANT food preparation (breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack??!!!!!) When the day is "done" and everyone is in bed, suddenly you realize you have a husband to be with, someone else to serve, another person to "take care of." And sometimes? That can just feel like too much. It can make you feel resentful, frustrated..."Take care of yourself!! You're an ADULT!" Remember that before you had kids, there was you and there was him. He was first in your life and priorities then, and he still should be. (I'm talking about earthly things here, of course.) Yes, he needs to understand the hard work and time and effort you put into your day. No, he shouldn't expect you to wait on him hand and foot...he should help out as much as possible. Our jobs as wives, though? Encourage him. Thank him for HIS hard work. Sacrifice ourselves, even if we've done it countless times in the day already. Serve him and then serve him some more. And finally, pray for him.
Keeping up with the House...
Run the dishwasher at night. Every single night. I unload and re-load the dishes from the night before while the kids eat breakfast in the morning. Everyone is happy and has what they need for at least 10 minutes, Eli is up off the floor...and therefore not climbing on the dishwasher and pulling everything out faster than I can load it.
Wash one load of laundry a day. I do at LEAST one a day...but we use cloth diapers, so sometimes I have to add a load for that on certain days. I get this advice from FlyLady. (and it most certainly is another piece of advice that helps me keep my sanity and makes me feel like I am on top of the laundry situation...instead of under a pile of ridiculous amounts of dirty clothes and towels!!!)
There is OOHHHHH so much more I could add to this list. I have been so blessed with wise women in my life. None of us are perfect, none of our children are angels, but we certainly all have some great advice to share with each other. I hope you enjoyed what I have learned
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