If I was a beautiful young mom, stopping by this blog to gather some wisdom/warnings/stories from a
tired seasoned older mom, what would I want to know?
What could I tell you about having a big family that may or may not someday be in your future?
Let me gather my thoughts...
Momma said they'd be days like this, they'd be days like this, momma said.
Don't sweat the small stuff, keep your eyes on the prize.
Your toddler won't eat veggies today? Give him extra fruit and try again tomorrow. I once heard a nutritionist say that you should view healthy eating in week-long increments. So, over the course of a week, did I get enough protein, veggies, fruits, dairy, whole grains, etc.
Your stubborn three year old won't poop in the potty? She will one day. Until then, just give lots of chances, and I've been known to use a suppository once in their life to get things moving. The next time, I just mention the "medicine" and they don't want it, and everything moves better on it's own :)
Your teen gets a bad grade on a quiz? Tell your inner geek to relax. It's one tiny quiz in the grand scheme of things.
Your middle schooler is fighting with her friends? Time heals all wounds. She'll be ok, learn from it, grow from it, and so will you.
Every stage has a season, and like a season, this too shall pass.
We swear by good sleep routines. Kids go to bed early, wake early, nap early. Kids who sleep well are well-behaved, smarter and better looking (just kidding about that last part!)
When a child is crying...
Listen to them
Make them do something active
Go outside for some Vitamin D
Put them to bed
Learn your kid's love language and personality type/temperment. They may all be your kids, but they are all so different!
Having only little ones is soooooo hard. It's draining and you're on duty every minute that they are awake. They are loud and whiny and noisy (did I already say that?) but so much fun! What would we do without them? Boring. Try to plan nap times and me time so you don't get a bit blue by the fact that EVERYBODY NEEDS SOMETHING FROM YOU ALL THE TIME. Ahem.
It gets easier.
(It does, I promise!)
Train them young. If you want fully-functioning adult children someday, then start now. Chores should be expected in family life, if they've always done them, they won't think it's strange. Having big kids (like elementary school aged kids) is super helpful to a mom with littles. But! Don't rely on them too much - they are not the parents and deserve a childhood too. We basically expect our big ones to help out with small household chores and occasionally babysit when they get old enough. Mostly they are just great for playing with each other, a skill I lack.
Keep the house tidy. I know they say dishes can wait, blah blah, but everyone's happier in a tidy clean house.
When Teenagers are Moody:
(See above list for crying children.)
Don't feel like you have to make grand plans to get individual time with each child. Some of our best talks happen in the car, or grocery shopping, or taking the dog for a walk. Treats and vacations are wonderful, but kids need our love and attention more. That being said, making a favorite meal or buying a favorite snack for a certain someone goes a long way. You have to buy food and cook anyway, but that extra thoughtful step can really brighten someone's day.
Let little kids be little. Keep their innocence for as long as you can, there will plenty of years for them to do big kid activities, but they will never be this age again.
Let big kids be big. Don't hold them back because you're not ready to let go a bit. Give them some freedom and let them discover how much they still need you :)
Raise your family with faith and humor. Be joyful in your vocation and your kids will be happy in theirs.
Remember to celebrate every milestone as if it's the first child. Sometimes you gotta fake it until you make it, but when the 6th kid graduates 8th grade, it's just as exciting for him as when the first kid graduated. It's old hat to you, but look at it with fresh eyes from their perspective.
Don't get a pet "for the kids". Get a pet if YOU want a pet. Learned this one the hard way :)
Praise them often. Instill confidence and courage. Celebrate not only their accomplishments, but also their work ethic to get there. Telling a kid they worked really hard is a better life lesson than telling them they are so smart. Make sure they know what's important in life - manners, kindness, faith, love, family - getting into Heaven is the goal, not getting into college.
Raise kids to be the kind of adults you want to hang out with.
Know that the longer I mother my children, the more I realize what I don't know. I was honestly the perfect mom before I had children, ha! I really shouldn't be giving advice at all! So trust your gut and know that God created YOU to be the parent of YOUR kids and He doesn't make mistakes. You got this :)