Musings and thoughts from beyond the baby and toddler stages…
The baby will always be my baby, but that doesn’t mean I should treat her like one or let her act like one forever. It’s ok to let go and let her grow up and be a big girl.
My big boy doesn’t need to be a man and it’s our job to teach him what being a man really means. If we don’t teach him, someone else will.
Tell her she’s smart and funny and what specifically she’s talented at; vague and general compliments don’t do as much good as specific ones-that aren’t about what she looks like.
Tell him he’s kind and gentle. Praise him for sharing his emotions-the good ones and bad ones.
Teach them kindness and gentleness with animals.
Listen to their thoughts and ask them about their day.
Sit down and play Barbies.
Cook with your kids and watch as they develop skills far beyond what you’d guess they could do. At 3 they can crack that egg, at 7 they can cut vegetables with the big knife (but stay close, they still need you).
Let them pick out the music and watch their world splits open as something touches them deeply.
Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing or how they’re parenting. You’re parenting YOUR way, the way this child NEEDS you to parent.
You won’t parent each child the same.
Remember you’re more than just a mom, or a dad. You’re a person with thoughts and feelings and dreams. Pursue those dreams.
Take time to read a book for yourself, or take a bath, or go for a run, or play a sport. Let your child see you doing those things for you. You’re teaching them how to pursue their interests and dreams. They’ll thank you for this if and when they become a parent.
It’s ok to ignore screaming that is just for show.
It’s ok that the laundry pile could hide your entire family, including the family pets.
It’s ok that you mistook that dust bunny for your dog.
The house won’t be dirty, messy, or cluttered forever.
You don’t need to keep every drawing or piece of paper sent home from school. But keep your favorite, and theirs. And keep that love note sent home from the girl who has a crush on your son.
Don’t let them catch you throwing their artwork out, however. Do it when they’re not around.
Let them go outside and play.
Let them ride around the block. Out of your sight. And watch as he rides by, chest thrust out in pride, as he goes around a second time.
Let them get dirty and make a mess. You can scrub the tub clean later and make those clothes official “play clothes”
Take them swimming and let them swim. On their own. If they don’t know how to swim, get them lessons and then let them go. Let them play on their own. (but be safe, of course.)
Let them crawl in your lap, long after they’ve gotten too big to fit. Let them cuddle and be little, even when they seem so big.
Keep pain meds, Benadryl, and bandaids on hand just in case.
Stock up on foods they can feed and make themselves. It will teach them independence and give you more time.
Use that extra time to run around with them, or swim and splash with them, or play a game.
Remember to sit down and eat meals with them.
Remember routines and traditions ground all of us. Make time for them and feel the bloom of those sweet memories grow more precious every time you repeat that prayer, light that candle, or bake those cookies.
Pick your favorite memory from childhood and attempt to recreate it with your child. Baking cookies with my kids and dancing in the kitchen while we cook reminds me of my mother in the best possible way. I don’t know if they’ll have this as their favorite memory but I love to know I’m carrying on that tradition.
Let daddy or uncle or cousin or grandpa rough house with them. My husband is better at rough housing than I am and I keep my worries about it tucked away as he throws them around and the pile drive him.
Write down their thoughts, ideas, and funny words. Take pictures of them in every day moments.
Let them pick out their own clothes and hairstyle. Teach them their ideas and thoughts are important.
Teach them to be respectful and polite.
Make them do chores, let them do it the best they can.
If you’re lucky enough to have a co-parent, trust them to parent THEIR own way.
Put away things that are precious and breakable until the kids are older. It’s their home, not a museum. (this saves headaches and yelling later)
But, teach them to respect things and property.
Don’t be the parent yelling at the 6 year old to hustle during the “game”, seriously, they’re 6 and are playing for fun.
Read to them. Read them books, magazines, signs, random words. Watch as they learn to read on their own and whole new worlds open up to them. Be patient if they’re slow to pick it up. We all learn at our own speeds.
Make them pick up their own things, pack their own bag, do activities on their own. They will thank you later when they’re one of a handle of college freshman who don’t need mom or dad to run interference with professors or bosses.
Let them be mad. or silly. or angry. or goofy. Teach them the words for those feelings. Believe them when they use them and respect them when they tell you how they feel.
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