1) Getting a dog would be the best thing that ever happened to my family. The amount of joy that a pet brings to your household is immeasurable. Our dog makes us laugh, smile and spend quality time together every single day. To me, that is worth a thousand walks in any single week. (P.S. He rolled out of bed with this ‘stache, see what I mean?!)
2) Having four kids in four consecutive years would be the most rewarding part of my life. Yes in the early years, I would get really annoyed with “Are they ALL yours???” or “Don’t you know how babies are made?” questions in the grocery store. My life was H-A-R-D and I had my hands full, no doubt about it. But now, our family is so much fun to be around – it’s like we have our own personal party that everyone wants to come to. Big families rule.
3) Never be best friends with your kid’s best friend’s parents. This is tempting with your first-born, especially when your kids and siblings line up perfectly. I’ve watched families get ripped apart over the years as their kids grow apart, particularly in middle school. You have your friends, your kids have their friends. The end.
4) Every time another child says or does something mean to your child, it feels like you got sucker-punched in the stomach. No matter what age, it doesn’t ever get any easier. Ever.
5) Middle school is harder on moms than our kids. We have all been through middle school and it was tough then. But it’s tougher now. Because we feel it twice as much through our children. Our kids will turn out ok – we made it and they will too.
6) Social media needs to be addressed every single day in your child’s life. Starting in early elementary school, your child pretty much has access to the entire world. Whether you are handing over your cell phone in the car to entertain your preschooler, or giving your child his first iTouch or Kindle Fire – your kids are plugged in earlier and earlier. So you need to take notes, pay attention and be present. Now through high school graduation. The “What I don’t know can’t hurt me” approach to parenting is no longer an option. It is our job as parents to guide our children along the way. Set up rules and guidelines from day 1. More on this next week…
7) Stop and smell the roses…or dirty diapers. The early days of parenting are super stressful. You lose your sense of self and identity, you lose your sleep, you lose your sanity. But this is for such a short period of time, even though it feels like an eternity. Then you graduate to play groups, play dates and park trips. Before you know it, you’ll have a child in elementary school. From that day forward, it’s game on. You will put more miles on your car than you ever imagined. And you will dream of the days when all you had on your calendar were naps and play dates.
8) Don’t assume your child is guilty. You will find that most people think their kids do nothing wrong. I am the polar opposite of that – I think that comes with raising a big family. I’ve realized that I need to be an advocate for my child first instead of “what did so-and-so do this time?”. This has come to bite me in the past. It won’t happen again. Remember in any parenting conflict, there are two sides to every story. And the truth ALWAYS lies somewhere in between. Even if it’s not what you want to believe. Your kid and everyone else’s will make mistakes along the way and will not always tell you the whole truth. The quicker you realize that, the better parent you will be.
9) Carpools are for moms, not kids. Do not ever arrange a carpool based on friendships. Do them based on logistics. You will be better off in the long run.
10) Mom-dating is complicated – you may get ditched when your kids have a rift. No mom ever sees this one coming. But it happens all the time, usually by middle school. I’ve had it happen to me and it actually made me laugh out loud. My daughter and her BFF from kindergarten were in a big fight. Which, P.S., I wholeheartedly believe that I should never get involved from 5th grade on (unless there is a dangerous situation). Kids need to work out their own conflicts and learn life lessons from their own mistakes. So, I casually approached the mom on the soccer field and jokingly said “The girls will be fine, I mean, how many times did you break up with your bestie in middle school?! I’m sure they’ll be in each other’s weddings!” That mom looked at me like I had ten heads (she was one of those who believes her child does no wrong – refer to #8), and seriously hasn’t spoken to me in two years. Now I see how she rolls, once our kids break up, we can’t be friends. Well alrighty then!
11) Year-round sports are over-rated. I believe that the best athletes are born with a natural talent and typically play multiple sports in different seasons. So no matter how much $ you dump into your child’s soccer, lacrosse or whatever sport career – your child is only capable of playing at a certain level that is natural to him or her. Don’t be surprised if a natural born athlete swoops into your kid’s sport in middle school and starts over your kid. Also don’t be surprised if your kid burns out of that travel sport in 8th grade. Kids need to be exposed to different sports and activities and they will land where they are supposed to land – not where you force them to land. If your child really shows interest and talent in 6th/7th grade, that’s when you look into a year-round, competitive environment. Your child will not be behind, I promise. If he’s an athlete, he’ll shine far above the rest. Trust me. And you can thank me for the time you’ll now have with your family (instead of traveling the tri-state area every weekend) and for the $ I’m about to save you. You’re welcome.
12) Most parents in our generation are living through their kids. It’s what Gen X and Gen Y parents do. We want more for our kids than what we had. We want our kids to be the best. Actually, who am I kidding? We EXPECT them to be the best in every single thing they do, even if we weren’t the best. We want and need instant gratification. And it shows in everything we do.
Parents all around you will be arranging and managing their children’s lives on every level, so that their child’s life lines up perfectly. They will coordinate what teachers they have, what coaches they have, they’ll negotiate grades, hire tutors so their kids A’s are even higher, and they’ll basically live their child’s life for them. As I watch this play out, I can’t help but think that they are doing their children no favors. When this generation of kids enters the workforce over the next decade, they just may not be capable of making one single decision on their own.
My kids have zero chance if that’s what I’m supposed to be doing. Even if I wanted to, I could not micro-manage my kids’ lives at this level. I just have too many of them (my problem, not yours) and not enough time in the day. Oh, and I have a life too. So my kids are on their own with their projects, their grades, their coaches – I support them and help them navigate the system. But I let them make their own decisions on all levels. Call me old school.
13) Losing your mom will forever change who you are. It will change how you parent and how you live your life. You will have a new perspective on life, you will grow closer to your family and you will live each day to the fullest. You will also learn not to sweat the little things. Life is too short to sweat those.
So what do you wish someone told you sooner about? Tag, you’re it!