Parenting advice comes at new parents like a tidal wave. The unsolicited advice from strangers, the well meaning advice of friends and family, and the countless online forums and articles leave us fighting to catch our breath. We politely wade through the comments, ignoring most of them. Once in a while, though, like a pretty shell glistening in the water, something someone says catches our attention, and we pick up a pearl of wisdom that helps us along the way. Sometimes the advice is practical or funny. Sometimes it is heartfelt and sincere. We asked fellow parents for their favorite little pearls for raising children at all stages, and we’re sharing them with you. Take them or leave them. We offer them simply for your consideration because the biggest piece of advice we heard was to trust yourself. You are a great mom!
Trying to Get Pregnant & Being Pregnant
- Family planning is a misnomer. You have way less control over the process of becoming parents than you think you do, and this may be a good thing in the end. It gives you a taste of just how little control you’ll actually have once children are in the picture. Their needs will become your priority, and their individual personalities will assert themselves on their very first day in this world.
- Forty weeks of pregnancy feels like a very long time, but looking back, it’s such a short phase of the entire parenting experience. Take time to write down your thoughts along the way because it will become a distant memory before you know it.
- It’s OK not to enjoy being pregnant. You might love it, but you might not. Either way, it’s temporary.
- As you get closer to your due date, keep sanitary napkins with you. If your water breaks, it continues to leak until the baby is born. I have never seen this important detail addressed in any birthing class or What to Expect article.
- You and your partner may bond with your new baby at different times. It may be love at first sight for one of you and a slow-growing love for the other. While you are both sharing this experience, the change is also deeply personal for each. Patience, understanding, and communication will go a long way to help you settle into your new family dynamic.
- Don’t be hard on yourself. Be realistic about what you are now able to accomplish in a day. It will be less than it used to be, and that’s OK.
- Enjoy the time when the baby isn’t mobile. Seriously.
- For moms who have to go back to work, leaving kids with a caregiver is harder for you than it is for them. Whether you work by choice, necessity or both, you are contributing to the family in a valuable way and your kids will be fine.
- No matter what your experience with breastfeeding, you are not alone. There are so many women who do it successfully, an equal number who pump instead, and the same number of women who praise the Gods for the existence of formula. This is your personal decision, and it may not be what you initially intended, but that doesn’t mean it’s not the right choice. Do what works for you. Your baby will be fine.
- Toddlers are particularly exhausting because they require parents to expend a massive amount of both mental and physical effort. Their surprisingly good negotiation tactics coupled with their physical neediness is a lot to handle. It’s not just you. It’s not just your toddler. It’s just the way it is.
- Our children are listening to everything we say, even at this early age, so speak positively about yourself, your kids and other people. They are taking their first cues about self esteem and social interaction from you.
- Your job is to set reasonable limits for your kids. Their job is to test those limits. It’s natural to get frustrated with them for doing this, but take a deep breath and remember that they’re just doing their job, and they are very good at it.
- Take time away from your kids. Wrangling toddlers, role modeling the behavior you want from them and keeping your patience is an impossible task without the occasional respite.
- Glitter is the herpes of the arts and crafts world. It spreads everywhere. Avoid it at all costs.
- Some kids need to wind down after school before they do their homework. Know your kid and don’t insist that they do their work right away. Also, give them space to do it. Help when they need it, but don’t hover. They’re learning how to manage their time and responsibilities.
- Have a designated drop off spot at home for all backpacks and school supplies. It really helps prevent lost items and forgotten homework.
- Ask open-ended questions, instead of questions they can answer with a “yes” or a “no,” to start conversions. For example, “What was the funniest thing that happened today?”
- Let kids be kids. They’re already learning how to be responsible through schoolwork and activities. Don’t make them become little parents with an endless list of chores, babysitting responsibilities for their younger siblings or jam packed schedules. Their free time is as important for their growth as their scheduled time.
- Think of a unique but easy to remember code word for your family. Teach your children never to leave with someone who doesn’t know the code.
Tweens & Teens
- Don’t take any of their mean comments personally. Your kids feel safest with you and will use you to vent their frustration. This is the teen version of whining. Hold them accountable for their behavior, but don’t fire back with mean words of your own.
- Listen to them and be flexible. They need independence and will be more likely to respect the boundaries you set when they’ve had input and know you are trying to work with them.
- Keep having regular family dinners with no electronics or television. It’s even more important as kids get older to stay connected to them.
- Let them go; allow them to find their own way. Being supportive is different than protecting them from making mistakes. Trust them. You’ve raised them well.
- Respect your children’s romantic relationships and accept that this is now the primary relationship in their lives.
- Parenting has a long return on investment. By this age, they will finally start to appreciate you!
- Yes, you will love subsequent children as much as your first. Love expands; it’s not a zero sum game.
- Each of your children is an individual, so your parenting style will adapt to fit the needs of each. Being fair doesn’t have to mean treating them exactly the same all of the time.
- Plan one-on-one time with each child. These will be some of your children’s favorite memories and probably some of yours, too.
For All Ages
- Keep your relationship with your partner a priority from the very beginning. Your children will grow up and leave the nest one day, and you and your partner will need to have a relationship that revolves around more than the kids.
- It’s OK to have a messy house when visitors come. It’s a mess because you’re having fun with your kids. There are worse things in life than dishes in the sink.
- Every new phase and age is easier for some reasons and harder for others, but it’s all temporary. Take it one day at a time.
- Be honest with your children. They are perceptive and deserve your respect. They’ll respect you more, too, if you are truthful and even admit to your own mistakes.
- Let your kids be who they are and try new things. They are not exact reproductions of yourself and will develop their own likes and dislikes. You’ll learn so much from them along the way, if you appreciate them for who they are.
- Accept that your children will have talents and weaknesses, just like everyone else. Celebrate and support their talents and don’t focus on the weaknesses. They will figure out how to compensate for them in time.
- Go with your gut. It may be hard to trust your instincts, especially with the first kid, but have confidence in the decisions you make.
- Every mom feels like a hot mess, at least sometimes. There is no such thing as a Perfect Mom, but you are the perfect mom for your kids.
Did your favorite piece of advice make the list? Share in the comments below!