I'm not huge on giving advice to new parents. Primarily because we all have our own journey and we all value different things. When I had a newborn, I remember a number of moms telling me I HAD to get the diaper genie - it was their lifesaver. I thought the thing was a piece of shit (literally.)
From that moment on, I decided I wasn't going to give major advice because 1) I don't know if I'm doing it (or even did it) correctly, and 2) we all have different perspectives and what worked for me may not work for someone else.
However, there are some logistical things that I believe tip the scales in your favor as far as coming out of this parenting thing with a few less gray hairs.
* Choose wisely. This one's big and if you're already a new mom, then it's too late for my advice to have any influence. If you pick a great father the rest of parenthood is infinitely better.
* Don't read too much. It will make you crazy. Every sniffle, rash, throw up will have you believing you need to rush to the emergency room. Every tantrum, outburst, act of defiance will have you convinced you're a terrible mom. Trust your instinct. You may not know you have one, but you become more aware of it as parenthood progresses.
That's pretty much all you need to know for those early years. Now go throw away your "What to expect your first year" book. As far as the primary grades, get involved with the school, but always stay an arms distance away. Volunteer in the classroom - your kid will appreciate seeing you more there than watching you organize 50 parents for a bake sale and talking and texting the whole time your kid is home from school staring at you. Oh, that's right, you're ignoring him because - you're doing this all for him...
NOW the teen years is where I can add some real logistical value.
* It's not college you have to save up for, it's the remodel on the house. If you have multiple girls close in age, you'll want to add on a couple of bathrooms.
* Know your kid's friends, but hold back on judgements. In all my years, I've found there are only a very few bad eggs. There are kids that make a lot of bad choices, but not many that are really bad people.
* Let them make mistakes. This one's really hard. I definitely have a victim/hero thing going on in my house, but you need to keep telling yourself that letting them suffer a bit is a good thing.
* Grades matter, but not nearly as much as character.
* Be honest with your friends. During the teenage years you'll find people pretending their kids are great. They're not. Teenagers suck. Good thing teens have some really outstanding moments interspersed in their moodiness because there would be many more certifiable parents. Most people will only tell you about the glory - open up first and you'll be surprised how much we all really are in the same boat.
* It's really helpful to have a friend that's a lawyer (thanks Sally -- subject for another time...)
* Show up. Go to anything and everything. That's what they'll remember.
* Purchase really solid car insurance.
* Teach them how to be a good friend. They may get burned along the way, but if they know how to make and treat friends, it will carry them through their whole life.
There are oh so many things to think and worry about when having kids. You'll always second guess yourself and wonder if you're causing irreparable damage. No parent or child comes out of this journey without some battle wounds. They just don't. It sounds so cliche', but all this worrying and stress is totally worth it. There is nothing to compare with being a parent.
You blink your eye and they're all grown up, but you will forever picture them as the child that could curl up and comfortably fit into your lap. Even though one day they move out and go away, that memory and feeling never does, so grab those moments every second you get. Also be aware that your heart is no longer whole. Every time they leave the house without you, a piece of yours goes with them.
Bless all the great moms out there that have given the World a gift. We'd love for you to join us over at Cheaper Than Therapy on Facebook or subscribe by email: