If you’re looking for a list of the latest gadgets and baby paraphernalia, this isn’t it. I’ve never been a parent, geared toward buying all the baby gear. With 5 kids, we’ve only owned 1 crib! This crib was gifted and also, unused. The baby really doesn’t sleep well without a body next to him so in my bed it is. What I’m talking about needing are skills, time and/or free things that anyone has the ability to utilize. **The pictures won’t always be relevant to the paragrpahs…I’m just adding pictures that say family/fun since this is a parenting post.
1) A Sense of Humor
If you can’t laugh at yourself, parenting will be a long road filled with unpleasantness and a lack of joy. Seriously, we’re still people and were kids once ourselves. Think back to all of the goofy things you did when you were younger. Would they have been better if your mom/dad or both laughed at or with you? I for one, love laughing with my kids. And, if they do something silly, laughing at them (in the nicest way possible, of course).
But, laughing at yourself as a parent is a great way to humanize parenting as well. My husband is notorious for mixing up words or using phrases inappropriately when he’s disciplining the kids. For example, you can’t effectively reprimand an errant child after you’ve said duty and the whole back of the car erupts into fits of giggles. Either that or they’re throwing me sideways glances when he stumbles and we all just end up smiling and nodding whilst he continues in ignorance.
2) 10 Minutes of Alone Time
If you can get it. I usually steal my time away when I’m in the shower. It’s amazing what a few minutes and some hot water can do for your mood. I don’t usually get 10 minutes, about 5 is all I can eke out before there’s a parade of children (and the dog) with questions that just couldn’t wait until you dried off. “Mom, the dog needs food”…Okay, 1: It’s not my “job” to feed the chubby little beast 2: she’s not starving 3: The food is about a quarter of the way full, food is not an urgent issue.
3) Stick to-uitiveness…
Yes, I know. Not a word. Speaking of words, as a parent, it’s best to keep yours! No one wants to take advice from someone who’s not following their own. So, why would kids want to listen to parents who don’t follow through? In an ideal world, what you say would automatically be done and raptly listened to. Sadly, there is no such place. Kids will try you and they’re always watching!!
If you say, “Clean your room or I’m going to take away your games for a week.”, then be prepared to take those games away. If you don’t, they’ll remember and know that you may not really do as you said. Something this small can undermine your goals for your home and family life. I’m not saying that being forgetful or lenient will make your kids try to dominate your home, but just pointing out how our actions need to line up with what we say. At least 90% of the time 😉
4) Thick Skin
I thought that after high school, I wouldn’t be faced with “mean girls” or insensitive statements. WRONG!! Your child(ren) will inevitably hurt your feelings at some point. A lot of the time, it’s completely unintentional. Once in a while, you will get that intended slap in the face from a hurt child. It’s best to correct it and let it be. I’ve spent nights awake thinking about something one of my kids did or said and how much it hurt. This does no one any good. And in the morning, it was all hugs, kisses, and rainbows. Most kids are not inherently mean and they are only human. Expect that as they’re growing as individuals, they will have an opinion. Push back is all a part of parenting and you just have to ride the wave.
5) An Iron Stomach
Growing up, I was the kind of person who was grossed out by any and everything. I am proud to say that I’ve graduated to being bothered by very little, with the exception of saliva and some bugs that will remain unnamed. Spit bothers me on a level I can’t explain. Brushing of the little kid’s teeth is a job that I relinquish to my husband. Otherwise, you’d see me gagging the entire time. It’s just not something I can handle. Honestly, please don’t have me evaluate your tongue while I’m mid-sandwich. I guess this means that being a dental hygienist or oral surgeon are two careers that can come off the list.
Other things, like blood, open wounds, etc. have miraculously fallen off of my “don’t show me that!” list. I never thought I’d clean up poop without cringing or wipe boogers off a sick kid without giving it a second thought. Catch vomit in my hand to avoid letting it land on someone’s furniture? Absolutely! I’m your girl 🙂 With kids, you never know what they may do (or eat), so being able to deal with it without losing your lunch is a bonus.
6) Super Human Ability to Block Out Noise
For people so little, 2 or more kids in one place have the uncanny ability to produce a deafening level of noise (pollution). Over the years, I’ve learned the difference between blood-curdling, someone’s cutting my hand off screams that are fake, from the, I’m really in pain and need your attention screams/cries.
I have tried and failed many times to explain that they shouldn’t cry for help unless they really are injured. So, I have gotten to the point where I just ignore most of what is assaulting my ears. I have had friends say, “You don’t hear that”? and gone “huh” in response. Blocking out noise that is irrelevant has become second-nature to me. As long as I know no one is dying, I can go about my day happily, listening to my music and doing what I please.
7) Ability to Let Go
As someone who struggles with OCD, letting go or granting someone else control, does not come easy. As a parent, the realization that you are no longer at the helm of this ship we call life, is crucial. Again, I’m not saying to let your kids run amok or control your lives. However, your decisions are no longer based on your wants or needs. The needs and desires of your kids are now paramount. Many a decision has been made (begrudgingly) because it would appease the kids. Granted, this is a no-go for major, life-altering situations. But, for day-to-day life…you’re not the boss.
8) A Giving Spirit
This kind of goes hand in hand with number 7. Being selfish is not an option once you become a parent. Yes, we all have those days where doing what you want sounds so appealing. The occasional selfish moment is also to be expected (and can actually be healthy). Overall, though, your time is something to use for your family. I find that being generous with my time, energy and whatever else I have to share, has made my kids a lot happier. Playing games or watching movies may not seem like a big deal to you, but judging from the pure joy on my kid’s faces when we do these things together, it means a LOT to them.
*Some of the best days I’ve had are when it’s storming out and we make a day of lying in bed watching old movies and snacking. It is my hope that my kids will cherish the little moments.
Kids, careers, managing a home; these things separately could drain you of your time. As parents, we do these things, plus some. Making time in your over-filled schedule may seem impossible, but balance and scheduling are worth their weight in gold for this purpose. Note, this is not something I have yet mastered. Having a new baby and adjusting to all that entails, kind of changed things around for me. The small changes we have implemented, have made improvements in the flow of our lives. Once I get my schedule down, I can only imagine how much happier we’ll be and the amount of free time we’ll discover when we’re not wasting so much of it.
10) Most Importantly…Love!
This should be obvious. You decided to have a child because of love, so loving your child should be the natural conclusion. Kids don’t need fancy, expensive toys to be happy. Knowing that their parents are there to give them support when needed and kisses when they’re scared, helps make a child secure.
I fell into the trap of always buying something (even a cheap toy) when we were out simply because they asked and I thought it made them happy. Turns out, they’re much happier making their own toys and giving things to friends. Who knew?? When I ask my kids what they want or need from me (I actually ask this quite often), they always say “date night”. All they want is my time and attention.
Nothing makes me happier than snuggling with my kids. I do my best to tell them I love them every time I think about it and they always tell me “I know”. Being there for your family and children is the best thing you can do.
What’s your tip for being a good parent?