The Best Parenting Advice I Ever Gave Myself


I’ve read a ton of parenting books. Something about having three little ones at home makes a person desperate for advice, help, and encouragement.

Books. Blogs. Podcasts. How-to-make-everybody-sleep manuals. Anything parenting related, I'm interested. 

But knowledge only goes so far. You actually put it into practice. Ask me any parenting question, and I’m bound to have a “smart” answer for you. Just don’t come over to my house and ask me how I do it. You don’t want to do what I do.

However, there are a few things I am genuinely working on. These are things I remind myself of daily when I know I need to step up my parenting game. 

This, my friends, is the best parenting advice I give myself. 

1.       Stop talking. Whatever you are about to say, don’t. Think about the words that are about to come out of your mouth. Do you need to say them? Are they kind? Do you intend to follow through with whatever threat/warning/instruction/command you are about to say? Cause if you don’t *really* mean it, then it’s best not to say it. 

So much confusion and chaos in parenting comes from the fact that we are quick to give commands and slow to make our kids follow through. I’ve heard it referred to as first time obedience (making sure your children obey everything you say the first time), but really I think it’s more of a “stop being a lazy parent” issue. If you are going to give your kids an instruction, be ready to help them obey. If you want kids who take your words seriously, YOU have to BE serious.

2.       Put down your phone. I know you just need to do A, B, and C really quick, but while you are doing those small things, one of your kids is doing LMNOP in the living room and another is shoving XYZ down the toilet. Do you really wanna have to clean that up?

There is definitely a time and place for being on your phone or computer. Whether it’s paying bills or just checking Facebook, those things are a part of our lives and are perfectly acceptable. However, DON’T let those things cause chaos in your home. If you decide that NOW is the best time to get online, at least stop and take care of your kids first. 

Make them stay in the room with you, or start a movie, or strap them in their high chairs, or at least put up a baby gate for goodness sakes! Make sure they are locked up occupied in a safe and controlled environment. Don't just let them run wild while you tune out all the screaming and pretend that you don't even have kids. Just don't. 

3.       Give kids what they want. You know it’s a proven fact that the happiest people in the world get everything they want (not really). Why not just give your kids what they want and make them happy? Of course, I’m not talking about sugar or non-stop television, but do look for ways to give your kids the things they want.

Have a child that won’t stop playing in the toilet? Put a massive bowl of water in the middle of the kitchen floor and let them go to town. Kids won’t stop jumping on the bed? Throw all the pillows on the floor and let them jump off stools instead. Have a little shadow following you around all day? Take the time to let them “help” with whatever you are doing. Two-year-old won’t stop throwing toys? Give her a massive tub full of plastic balls and let her throw them everywhere (maybe even at you!).

So often, I get into a “no” mindset. I’m always saying, “No, you may not do this or that or that other thing.” Sometimes I have to make myself say “yes”. Often that means figuring out what my kids want to do and finding a way they can do it without breaking all the rules and/or hurting themselves. It requires some creativity, but praise the Lord, we have Pinterest. Just imagine how difficult it would have been to raise a child before the internet came along! (not really…)

4.       Be ridiculous. There will come a time when you will find yourself across the room from a young child who has repeatedly done something that drives you crazy. Because you completely ignored Rule #1, you will have said, “Stop doing that,” 7 million times. When you finally snap, you’ll move quickly across the room with the sole intent of teaching your young child a lesson.

You are angry and understandably so, but THIS is the moment when you really need to stop and do something ridiculous. Run at your child making a weird face and howling like a monkey. Scream “bah!” really loudly and attack said child, tickling them until they beg for mercy. Announce you are serving cookies and ice cream for lunch, and join your children in their celebration dance.

There are times when my kids really do deserve consequences for their actions, but I’m just too tired or too angry to be fair. So instead, we curl up and read a book or snuggle on the couch, or tickle each other until we are both laughing so hard the offense has been forgotten and forgiven.

Because sometimes we ALL really need to laugh. Parenting is hard work, and no matter how much you know, somedays you just aren't going to do it "right". That's okay. Your kids don't need a perfect parent. They just need YOU.

1 comment:

  1. LOVE the suggestion to let them do what they want in a safe way--I've tried to do that with my little ones and it's so helpful!



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