Here is a true confession. I used to judge parents before I became one. Fact.
I used to say stuff like, “Oh I’ll never do this” or “I can’t believe parents do that”.
Honestly, you need to find what works for you and your children. That is the most important factor. So forget what your friends say or what your family thinks is best. Figure out your child over time and adjust things to meet their needs. It’s that simple.
Years ago, I claimed that if we ever had kids, we wouldn’t be the kind of family that uses DVD players in the car. Well… sit through a couple hours of toddler shrieks and screams in a confined area and that will
quickly instantaneously change your mind. Our rule, of course, will be that it’s for long car rides only.
Lesson 1: Find what works and set some ground rules. You can give in to those things you said would never happen, but remember you’re the parent. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Set rules around it and go from there.
I once told myself that my child wouldn’t be allowed to eat cookies and junk food every day. I thought it would be easy-peezy to create healthy meals and snacks each day. But that went right out the window due to time and convenience.
I’ll be honest, Micah gets a couple treats during the day and we always try to balance that out with healthy, nutritious meals that include important fruits and veggies. He doesn’t like everything that we offer, but I am going to keep trying until he likes it.
Lesson 2: Let your child decide which foods they prefer. I am not going to force my son to eat tomatoes or broccoli, but I will certainly offer it to him. Our rule in the house is if he finishes all his food (and I do mean ALL), then he gets a cookie or sweet treat. Those are the rules.
I once read an article from “second time parents” written for “first time parents”. The article, frankly, put out a lot of information that Jon and I already knew to do. One of the biggest take away’s from the article was “take your baby out in public”.
Some new parents are fearful of taking their baby into public, but trust me… get out there while that baby is squishy and immobile. Things are much easier when your child can sleep through a public outing and we did that as often as we could. Lately, I have noticed more new parents strolling around with tiny babies and I almost want to run over and give them a high-five.
Lesson 3: Take your baby out in public. Enjoy small moments of freedom while you still can.
One more random thought… germs are OK! Your immune system will never build a good defense system if you live in a sanitized, sterile bubble. And that goes for babies too!
I understand that there are always circumstances in which your child may actually need to be protected from an array of bad germs. My advice is not to let your children go lick door handles and floors in stores or restaurants. Obviously, do everything within reason.
We let Micah explore as much of the world as possible. He’s probably consumed a clump of dirt or two, and I didn’t lose any sleep over it. My kid is building a healthy immune system.
Lesson 4: Let your child explore the world one “germ-infested” venue at a time. Life is full of icky things and soap is never too far away. Don’t keep your kids home just to avoid “bad germs”.
Well, that’s all I have to say about that. Thanks for reading!
As always – leave a comment below if you have any additional parent suggestions or lessons learned.
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*Below image borrowed from Parents Magazine