22 Things I’ve Learned About Parenting

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. You’re doing ok.  No matter how good or how bad you think you’re doing, you’re probably exaggerating at both extremes.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!holtonplane
  7. 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. IMG_1592
  8. 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.Picture 083
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. It really is the little things.  Have something that is special to your family.chess
  12. 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!
  13. 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.
  14. Don’t compare.  I don’t compare my kids to other kids because I don’t want to be compared to other moms.  Period.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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! IMG_1619
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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!

Happy Birthday!

happy-birthday-1275340_960_720

What things have you learned in your parenting journey?  I’d love for you to share your wisdom and experiences.

Don’t Get Your Feelings Hurt-Stages of Parenting

I recently had a conversation about how cool the different seasons of parenting are.  I hear so often how much you will miss the little years.  Having two older children, I know that this is true.  I also know that there are many awesome things about every other season of parenting.  (Kids being able to bathe themselves and being able to drive themselves to and from school functions are two of the perks that come to mind!)

I came across this really interesting and enlightening article about the stages that our children go through.  https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/surviving-your-childs-adolescence/201010/adolescence-and-the-influence-parents

Having the age range that I do, I can certainly see that our children MUST go through a series of stages and it is a good thing!  My five year olds (well one of them at least) think that I can do no wrong.  My seven year old absolutely adores me.  She wants to be with me as much as possible.  She declares that days at home are the “best days ever.”

My seventeen year old shares quite a bit about his life.  There are many times that I can read between the lines and see that there are things that are being withheld.  And that’s ok.  My 21 year old is too busy for us.  He is making a life of his own.  He drops in occasionally.  If I know in advance, I try hard to make a meal that he likes and always, always have the pitcher of sweet tea out. (It’s a southern thing!)  The conversation is mostly one sided and very few details are shared.  But that’s ok, too.

Right now, the girls wave fiercely at me as they walk down the sidewalk to enter their school building.  They  keep sight of me as long as possible.  I’m not naive enough to believe that this will continue.  I know there will come a time when they will really want me to drop them off blocks away from their destination but will settle for jumping out of the van while I’m still partially moving, so as not to be seen “needing” a ride.

With my first child, this behavior really hurt my feelings.  Looking back, I feel that I wrongly caused him guilt for the feelings of neglect that I was feeling.  I just did not know.  I thought that it was about me.  It wasn’t.  This transition is completely necessary in order for our children to gain their independence.

Everyone needs space to develop their independence.   It looks different at every stage but it is still a necessity to growing up.

Clock, Movement, Gears, Gear, Transmission, Wheels

 

So, what is the solution for parents?  Learn from my mistakes.  Please, please don’t get your feelings hurt about the transitions through the stages.  You don’t really want your children to live with you forever!  You want them to shine in their independence.  Their success actually means that you have done it right!  They feel confident enough to break away on their own.

And if you’re in one of these trying seasons right now, take heart.  One day, we may once again know a few things and be needed.

Until then, just love on them!

 

My kids are great, except when they’re not

IMG_20140330_131705

I beam with pride.  I tear up watching them.  I get a lump in my throat when I’m responding to your compliment about them.  I whisper thank you’s and prayers for them.  I do have great kids.  I said it out loud.  They just bless me.

Those are the days when it’s easy.  The moments that I remember that all that I’m doing is God-ordained and worth it.  What a treasure, these blessings that call me moma.  I’m filled up.  All smiles.

 

Then the clock strikes, or somebody looks at somebody, or the witching hour begins for the younger three or…… I don’t even know what happens to bring it on.

storm

 

There is shrieking.  Knocked over lego castles.  Windex sprayed in eyeballs. More shrieking. No one to play with.  Two on one end of the seesaw with the other dangling high.  Bike wrecks caused by a bad driver.  Hair getting stepped on.  Paintings get painted over.  Toes getting stubbed on dolls left out.   Sharpie marker appears on the house.  Lots of it. Tattling. Reporting.  It’s all the same.

Tempers flare.  Sometimes mine is included.

Toys get snatched.  That’s usually not me.

Games get abruptly ended.  Yes, I’ll claim that.

It’s over.

It really is over.  My patience is done.  Everybody is getting a bath.  It’s bath time. Except we only have two bathtubs…ugh!   Two of you have to be together.  Who’s the least offended?  They get partnered.

Oh, these glorious days.  These wonderful, wonderful days. 🙂