4:17 a.m. on May 22nd
When you hear that first cry, you have no appreciation at that moment what you’ll experience through the years, the magnitude of what you don’t know, and what or how you’ll learn it.
Here are some things that I’ve learned about parenting. I’m still learning. Daily. Every minute.
- Give grace. Our children are navigating this same crazy world that we are. They are going to make mistakes, need forgiveness, and plenty of grace. Grace for you. Grace for them. Everybody needs a big portion.
- Pick your battles. There are some things that are worth putting a lot of time and energy into. I want my kids to be safe, to learn to make good choices, to be kind to others. I don’t stress too much about their eating habits, the cleanliness of their room, or making straight A’s. Your list might be different but everything can’t be equally important. Everyone will get exhausted quickly.
- They will survive. I made the mistake of taking my son to the doctor because he was such a picky eater. He heard the doctor tell me that he would eat when he got hungry. He did.
- You’re doing ok. No matter how good or how bad you think you’re doing, you’re probably exaggerating at both extremes.
- They really don’t need much. Kids are not won over by material possessions. They need your time when they are with you and an imagination when they are alone. Those monetary things that seem to matter pale in comparison to having YOU.
- Let them dream their own dreams. The amazing thing about being a kid is that your ENTIRE life is ahead of you. If you want to do something, you can! Nurture those passions and watch them soar. Sometimes, literally soar! Here is my 22 year old pilot when he was about 12 and couldn’t see over the front of the plane during lessons!
- Set traditions. These are the things that your children will rely on. They will provide memories and opportunities to get together as your children get older. Everyone wants to belong to a tribe.
- Take vacations when you can. It doesn’t have to be elaborate but try to get away from it all with your family when you can. The memories are worth every penny.
- Accept them. We are all so weird. We could pick out a million things about others and ourselves that we would like to change. I believe in being socially aware but our kids are just people. Love them the way that they are. Help them to accept themselves. Accept yourself too. We’re all weird. It’s a good thing.
- Seek the good. There will be plenty of things to nag and nit pick about. SEEK the good. It might not jump out at your from underneath the dirty clothes pile on the floor. Look for it.
- It really is the little things. Have something that is special to your family.
- They are watching. Be a model of what you’d like for them to be. Greet people kindly. Show compassion. Pray for others. They will remember when you don’t!
- Teach them to work. I am so thankful that my kids have a strong work ethic. Start with giving rewards/allowance for chores and let them earn their way.
- Don’t compare. I don’t compare my kids to other kids because I don’t want to be compared to other moms. Period.
- Put it into writing. Leave notes. Send a note in the lunchbox when they’re young. When they go on a trip, pack a little note. Leave scripture or inspiration on the bathroom mirror. Text your teens that you love them or an encouraging thought. Everyone likes to hear something positive and be reminded that they are loved. You may never (probably won’t) ever hear back from them. But, you just may find them stuck in a drawer years later. It’s special. Do it.
- Eat together. I wasn’t as disciplined about this as I wish I had been with the older two. It’s important. Sit together. When you do eat together, don’t correct every single behavior.
- Give them something to look forward to. When the boys were little, I would remind them in the morning before school of something fun that we were going to do that night. It might be something very simple, but it gave us all a little something to look forward to during the day. Saying “Don’t forget we are making s’mores tonight” proved to make the school day just a little less daunting for all of us.
- Require rest. If you have no consistent schedule for bedtime or rest, you are asking for cranky children. Everyone functions better when they are well rested. Make it a priority. Through middle school around here, bedtime is set and enforced. It is good for grown ups too!
- Mom’s intuition is a real thing. If you think you know something is going on, you are probably right. Don’t overlook things that would be detrimental to your child. Have the hard conversations.
- Say yes as much as you can. Saying “Yes” and then adding when that can happen is much better than just saying no all the time.
- Say No when you need to! Giving a firm answer when needed is important. When you say yes as much as you can, the “No” will be taken much more seriously. It will be obvious that it is a necessary answer and that whining or discussing it isn’t going to change the answer.
- Pray for them and let them know it. Fervently. Consistently. Pray for them.
And just a bonus….Enjoy each season. Whether it’s good or whether it’s bad, it will pass quickly.
You have no idea how your heart could ever walk around in the world, but it does. It just takes up another form and becomes an extension of you.
Being a moma is the most demanding, rewarding, exhausting, wonderful calling in the world. I would have never imagined that I could be so blessed!
What things have you learned in your parenting journey? I’d love for you to share your wisdom and experiences.