Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Parenting School

Parenting School 101: If you want to go out to eat with lots of littles, breakfast is your best bet!

When the kids asked us on Mother's Day why there's no such thing as Kid's Day, both Phil and I replied in unison "Every day is Kid's Day".  It's just one of those responses they teach you in Parenting School.  

Parenting School is located right next to The School of Hard Knocks, and while the majority of students graduate with a degree in Common Sense, the few who have stayed to earn multiple masters degrees can learn some of the following:

On Pregnancy

 ~ It happens when you least expect it, don't think you can handle it, and yet once that baby comes, you can't imagine life without him/her.

~ Pregnant ladies be crazy.

~ Morning sickness can be lessened by staying in bed and having someone bring you a bagel with cream cheese or peanut butter.  And motion sickness bracelets can really help too.

~ Eat tons of protein, drink tons of water, take your prenatal every day, and walk, walk, walk.  So many pregnancy related problems come from poor diet and exercise habits by the mother.  You can control only certain things in life, and this is one of them.

~ The last few weeks feel like an eternity, but try to enjoy your time before your life changes completely.

On Birth

~ It hurts, but it's awesome.  Like, the awesomest.

~ Every.single.one is different.  You can't plan anything about it!

~ You will never feel more vulnerable, yet at the same time realize how much strength you possess.

~ A husband will be in awe of his wife, and a wife will be in awe of her husband as they look at their brand new family member.  

~ Bringing a new life into the world is an amazing gift from God and we are so lucky to be able to participate in it.

~ Be patient with your body after, it might never look the same, but neither does your family!  This is way easier said than done.

On Babies

~ Relax.  Relax, relax, relax.

~ If breastfeeding, just feed them all the time, it solves most problems.  Don't feed them only on a schedule...babies get lots of growth spurts and your milk needs to keep up.

~ When they cry, do the 3 point check: diaper, burp, hunger.

~ Whenever possible, lay them down to sleep, lest they need to be held, rocked, nursed to sleep every time.

~ If you ever want to give them a bottle in the future, introduce it around weeks 3-4 so they get used to it and don't outright refuse a bottle at 5 months when you NEED them to take one.

~ Babies cry, it's there only way of communicating, just try to remember that when you can't figure out what the problem is.

~ Once babies start to eat solid foods, give them healthy ones.  Save the sugary treats for their first birthday.  Lord knows they will eat enough junk food when they can make their own choices.

~ Every stage is just a passing phase.  Teething, sickness, seperation anxiety...it stinks but it will soon pass.

~ You really can't spoil a baby.

On Toddlers

~ Routines and discipline are key!  They thrive on them and it makes a household run so much better.

~ They are little sponges, play time is learning time, and treat them as you want to be treated because they will mirror you.

~ They may look big, and think they are big, but toddlers still have so many of the same needs as babies.  Cuddle them, feed them often, give them plenty of sleep.

~ To get them to sleep well, you have to establish a schedule, follow it, and be strict with it.  If you want your child to go to bed early at night, don't give them a late nap.  If you want them to sleep through the night, look at their nap schedule and shorten it, or take a nap away.  You are in charge of their sleep schedules.  

~ Picky eaters are abundant at this age.  Just keep introducing healthy foods.  Only give dessert when they eat their meal, and don't fill up their bellies with milk or snacks all day and then expect them to be hungry at meal time.  

~ Hide veggies in their food - meatloaf, smoothies, and juices are great methods of veggie transportation.

~ Dessert does not have to be a sweet treat!  Fresh fruit is a great dessert and teaches kids to reach for berries when they want to satisfy a sweet tooth craving.

~ Choose your battles.  Figure out what is important to you, and proceed wisely. 

~ Don't potty train too early, it only stresses everybody out.  They will start to give you signs of readiness, so follow their lead.

~ Toddlers are like puppies - they need to be able to run around and release energy, so don't keep them cooped up all day.

On Kids

~ They love to be listened to and talked to like they are important.  Because they ARE important!

~ Praise them, praise them, praise them.  Positive reinforcement works wonders over the reverse.  And let them "catch" you talking good about them.

~ Every child is unique, so you can't expect them to be, react, or think like any of your other children.  You have to be FAIR but not exactly the SAME in the way you treat them.

~ Giving them things never makes them happy long term, it only makes them want more things.  

~ Giving them a sibling and/or your time and attention will always make them happy in the long run.

~ The best time to talk to them is in the car or on a walk.  So go for a drive, take them on a special date, or walk to the library or around the block and really discuss what's going on in their life.

~ Love your spouse.  Display your affection in front of your kids.  They might gag and proclaim it disgusting, but deep down knowing that their parents are in love gives them such security.

~ Teach them manners and follow through on discipline. Getting off your behind to actually follow through on whatever threat you made is one of the hardest and most important parts of parenting.

~ Kids will fight.  Kids will have tempers.  Kids will disobey.  Kids will sin.  They are still good kids who made bad choices.  Never tell them they are a bad kid, reinforce how good you know they are and help them make better choices.

~ When they approach you saying they're hungry for the upteenth time, recognize that they might be bored  and in need of an activity.

~ Introduce them to sports and activities that keep them active and in shape.  It's a great lifetime habit to start.

~ They still need down time.  Institute Rest Time while the little kids nap, it makes for some great readers!

~ Make sure to praise their efforts, not just their results.  A kid who is told they are a hard worker will actually work harder than a kid who is told they are smart.

We have not yet received our degrees on Tweens, Teens and Beyond, but when we do, we'll gladly share what we've learned, as little as it may be.  

I think the most important lesson I've learned in my 35 years of parenting (add up all your kids ages) is that I know nothing.  Honestly.  We just try to go with the flow and remember what works for us, and what doesn't work for us.

So, what have you learned from Parenting School?  Please share your wisdom with the rest of us!!


  1. Oh my goodness this is AWESOME!
    I really needed to read this today.
    especially about the napping. I have a 7 month who doesn't sleep though the night has 2 naps during the day so, maybe I should take one away.
    I feel exhausted every morning and reading this just made me realize that in it's just a little bump and I can get though this.
    Thanks for sharing.
    XO Marissa

  2. Great post! I've only experienced a little over 3 years of parenting (I have a 2.5 year old and almost 8 month old) so all I know about are babies and toddlers. And you nailed it with the babies and toddlers in this post! However I don't think I'm near "graduating" from these stages. I still feel like I learn something new everyday! :)

  3. My four glorious months of parenting taught me to read your blog. ;) Love this so much!

  4. This was really good. REALLY REALLY good. I shared on the 'facebook'. It's amazing how much I learn through each child.

  5. Good, solid advice!

    The only thing I'd add is that you must do the above while always, always taking in to account your child's temperament/personality. One kid will be able to stand a little good-natured teasing, and one may burst into tears because they are "being made fun of." Even if you say the exact same thing! Don't compare them, just know their personality. And that goes for the praise as well -- some kids can receive praise and go one their merry way all happy. And some kids receive it and internalize it and it causes them stress if they think that you are allllways watching them and their performance. ;-) Ask me how I know this . . . nah, don't bother, just trust me. Again, just know your kids and tailor your responses accordingly (which I'm sure you said above, but I am only half awake today . . .)

    Also, I have found that teens are remarkably like toddlers . . . just much more witty (usually). They NEED sleep and they NEED good food, often. They also need you to be verrrry understanding because their brains are going through a crazy huge growth spurt. Just be sure not to talk to them like you talk to the toddlers, or you might get an earful. ;-)

    And I have 49 YEARS of parenting? Impossible.

  6. ....and then there's the (usually) last one who makes you question absolutely ALL of your parenting skills that you once felt so sure about.

  7. Good advice...although we do the sleeping thing a bit differently. I'm not as strict about schedules although we do have a basic schedule and the kids all go to sleep between 7-9 PM. I also nurse my kids to sleep and co-sleep until they are 2-3, but after that they tend to fall asleep easily on their own and stay asleep.

    I don't have any experience with teens but I do with tweens. I will say that the tween stage is awkard..kids are kind of inbetween and it's a tough place to be. Be sensitive and gentle with them. Understand that they are going through a lot of growth and change.

  8. Great advice Colleen! You are wise beyond your young years!

  9. Such a great list. A lot of them were reminders that I needed and I paid extra attention to the kids pointers. Thanks for sharing!

  10. In Poland, they do celebrate Kid's Day! It's on June 1 - so your kids just missed it! I loved this post, its even great advice for those of us who are not yet parents!

  11. I love, love this list!! As a 'newbie' of only 25 yrs, you have reminded me of so many things. I'm going to keep taking a look at the Kids section as I muddle through summer. I think there's such a treasure trove in there to remind myself with my big kids this summer.

  12. This is wonderful!


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