When I first learned I was expecting a baby I read anything and everything I could in a desperate effort to learn as much as I could about parenting.
Like cramming for a final at the last minute, I had a stack of the most popular books of the day sitting on my nightstand. Isn’t that cute? As if I could actually glean what parenting is really like by reading that stuff.
People aren’t that helpful either, 95% of the time offering one of two pieces of advice:
Sleep while you can because you sure won’t get any later. As if you can stockpile sleep and break into the storage when you’re good and tired.
Enjoy every minute because in a blink of an eye they’ll be grown up. As if this oft used nugget of “wisdom” is helpful when your 2-year-old is flipping out in the cereal aisle of the grocery store. This? Is this the moment I’m supposed to be enjoying?
Now, while in the parenting trenches, it’s the stuff that would seem ridiculous to me before I had kids, that really hits home with me. Stuff like what Brené Brown says over on Huffington Post that gives me pause and helps me modify my behavior during the tough moments of being a mom.
Brown says the very best pieces of parenting advice she ever received was from the writer Toni Morrison. Morrison talks about how important our expressions are when our children first walk into a room. Do we look annoyed? Critical? Angry?
Ms. Morrison explained that it’s interesting to watch what happens when a child walks into a room. She asked, “Does your face light up?” She explained, “When my children used to walk in the room when they were little, I looked at them to see if they had buckled their trousers or if their hair was combed or if their socks were up. . . . You think your affection and your deep love is on display because you’re caring for them. It’s not. When they see you, they see the critical face. What’s wrong now?” Her advice was simple, but paradigm- shifting for me. She said, “Let your face speak what’s in your heart. When they walk in the room my face says I’m glad to see them. It’s just as small as that, you see?”
It’s such a small thing but it makes a big difference, right? And it’s a lot more helpful than the very abstract “Enjoy them while you can, in a blink of an eye they’ll be gone.” so often proffered.
It got me to thinking about the very best parenting advice I ever received and, while I don’t know if it’s the best advice, the one thing that keeps returning to me, the thing that has made a daily difference to me is to not worry about the messes in your house throughout the day. Let the playroom stay messy. It’s okay! Don’t worry about vacuuming the carpet right now. Do it when you actually have time. Do something like going on a walk with your kids instead.
This is something that occurs to me daily when I’m deciding what to do. Mop the floor or play in the backyard? I play in the backyard. Even when the kids are napping, it’s important to take time for you. Scrub the bathtub or watch that recorded episode of The Real Housewives of New York? Watch TV! It makes a big difference in your attitude which is hugely beneficial for your children who will look back and remember mom taking the time to play instead of always being hurried and distracted.
The above two bits of advice got me to thinking and I decided to ask my Facebook friends what piece of parenting advice most stands out to them during the daily grind and I got a ton of awesome responses that I thought I’d share with you here. I am positive you’ll find something here that will at least change your day and, at most, change your perspective.
Find what doesn’t drive you crazy, and do that. Ignore all the rest of the advice. – Julia Schetky
The first one is made out of glass, the second one is made out of rubber. – Murray Ramone
Talk to your kids like real people. – Betsy Allison Tant
Meet them where they are. – Alex Leyk
Forget/ignore you are ever told and do what you think is right. – Keith Mason
No one knows your child better than you do. Always surround yourself with a team of people (be it doctors, teachers, etc) that know this. You may not have gone to medical school or have a teaching degree, but you have raised your child and your opinion matters. – Vicki Hendrickson
Do the best you can and don’t be nervous. – Sarah English
You don’t really have to wash the pacifier every time it drops on the floor. – Rhonda Nation
Make sure to take care of your marriage/relationship. Without you, there would be no them. – Kristy Wesson
Let them see you cry. Let them know when you can’t afford something they want. Let them know life isn’t perfect but it’s still great. – Betsy Allison Tant
If you are ready to snap…….take a bath and a hit! – Linzie Middleton
Pick your battles, It doesn’t really matter what they wear as long as certain body parts are covered, and it doesn’t matter how they cut, style or color their hair, it will grow and return to it’s normal state eventually/ hopefully. – Carol Harrison
That it might seem like this is your life forever but all phases pass/change (especially true and helpful with the first baby!) – Stephanie Meighen
Your main job is to believe that the best of your child will win in the end, no matter if no one else- including them- can see, feel or believe that is true. I was tested on that one with my oldest ages 15-17 and thank god I did it. I was right. – Maggie May Ethridge
Love, consistency and follow-through. – Rob Stephens
Don’t listen to other parents who have The Answer. It worked for them because they chose an approach that they felt would work well with their child”. That was a lightbulb moment for me – how obvious! As the child’s parents we already have a feeling about what will and won’t work, so the fact one way worked perfectly for one child probably says more about how well the parent knows the child and not that the technique is a panacea for every child! – Stephanie Meighen
Don’t worry about the not eating. Keep putting healthy food in front of them and they will eat what they need. – Lindsay Swan
When you realize you are arguing with a 4 yr old, you have already lost the battle. – Mandi Hooper
My little boy is disabled so for me the best advice was to expect things out of him, don’t disable him more by doing everything for him. Treat him like you would any other kid. – Rachel Padilla
Trust yourself. – Alisun Thompson.
Talk to your kids like real people. – Betsy Allison Tant
Don’t read parenting books, and most certainly don’t listen to your mother or mother in law, parent from your heart. – Julie Nichols
My ex-mother-in-law gave me a book entitled, “How to Build Self-Esteem in Your Child”… I gave it to my mother. – JoAnne Lytle
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