10 Things I Learned
By Kim Stokely –
Well, the day has finally come. My youngest has gone off to college. For my friends who are still battling the mommy blues, wondering what happened to your life, I provide the following 10 things I’ve learned about surviving the early years.
10. Most unauthorized things they eat won’t kill them. My children survived eating cookies they’d made out of Play-Do and various old cereal pieces they found on the floor. I’m not saying to let them get into the ant bait, but really, a bug or two won’t hurt them.
9. Germs are smart and understand human language. They hear the word “vacation” or “deployment” and get to work. Your best laid plans will be way-laid by an ear infection or strep throat. Learn to roll with the punches and carry a small pharmaceutical department with you. Especially on road trips.
8. Let your “no” mean NO and your “yes” mean SURE THING. Never confuse either of these words with MAYBE.
7. This one is a corollary to #8. If you’ve threatened a consequence for a behavior, follow through with it, even if it means more pain for you. A dinner out in a restaurant often became take-out when we had waiters pack up our food to go.
6. The best toys are free or really cheap. Walks in the trees became grand adventures in the Hundred Acre Woods. The latest gadgets soon broke or were forgotten, but a picnic lunch in the toy closet with flashlight became a lasting memory.
5. You can’t spoil children by giving them things you want to give them, but by giving them things they demand. It’s a subtle but important difference kids pick up quickly.
4. As often as you can, eat together. We rarely had conversation that I’d label intelligent, but our kids knew they were important enough that we wanted to sit down and talk with them. As they’ve gotten older, my husband and I have saved a bunch of money on tickets to movies and comedy shows. Our kids perform for us regularly over pasta bowls and sloppy Joes!
3. Be prepared to read your child’s favorite story book over and over and over again. Not just at bedtime, but several times throughout the day. You may want to gouge your eyes out, but they are learning and loving the gift of your time and the magic of a story.
2. As a corollary to #3, don’t be afraid to change things up a little when they get older. My husband got tired reading the same books to the kids at bedtime and one day changed up some of the story. It soon became a tradition to see how far he could mangle it and still come up with the same ending. I can still hear the gales of laughter coming from their bedrooms!
1. Again, I know you’ve heard it from a lot of people, but these early years do go by fast. Enjoy them for everything they’re worth: the good (when your kids think you’re superhuman, hugs after bath time when they’re still warm and their hair smells like baby shampoo), the bad (temper tantrums in Wal-Mart, birthday parties with 15 screaming pre-schoolers), and the ugly (stomach flues at midnight). Know that there is life after parenthood, although you may have a few more gray hairs and a little less of your sanity.