That’s right. I said second best.
If you’re anything like me (a kind person with just a dash of rebel and a hint of sass), when someone says something like: “This is the BEST thing ever!” or “You just HAVE to try this!”, I subconsciously think to myself: “Hard pass.” and “I ain’t gotta do nothing, mmmkay.”
But recently, I’ve been asked, more than once, what I would say my best advice for new or even seasoned parents would be. You see, I am the mother of 3 children (4 if you count my husband sometimes), and apparently that gives me permission to have a go at advising other people on how it’s done. To be honest, after laughing out loud, and then stopping again because I could see by the look on their faces that they were, in fact, being serious, I began thinking about what really good tips would be to give people with regards to parenting.
Now before we get into it, a short disclaimer: I am most definitely no expert when it comes to parenting. I have had no formal or prior training to 10 January 2013 when my first born came into this world. And no, watching your siblings’ children or babysitting for someone does NOT count as parenting. Parenting is much harder than babysitting and raising your hypothetical children, hypothetically.
With that being said, here we go – My Second Best Parenting Advise in the world ever:
- Just add Water
Remember this: When they’re sad, feeling crabby, having a hard day – just add water.
A quick visit to the pool, jumping in muddy puddles, a bath full of water and toys and bubbles, a visit to a little stream… Kid Heaven!
This works for teenagers too. A shower, a cold drink with some ice, a little dish washing… (Ok, most probably not dish washing. But try it, who knows right?!)
Water somehow changes you. It washes away troubles and clears the way for new fresh thoughts. This has honestly stop more than one meltdown in our house.
It also works for us as parents. Draw your partner a bath or pour yourself a glass of water. Coffee has water in it and so does wine…(Just saying..)
Water does wonders for your emotional state. It’s playful and nurturing. All round good fun for the body and the soul.
- Eat together
I’ll put this one in caps. That’s how important it is. YOU NEED TO EAT TOGETHER! ANYWHERE! AT LEAST ONCE A DAY. I read in a TED article sometime ago about a group of Italians that relocated to America and adopted the bad American diet. The weird thing about this was that they didn’t get overweight or have any of the illnesses that comes with eating so unhealthy. After much investigation, it was found that the only thing these people did differently than the standard American, was that they ate TOGETHER, EVERY NIGHT. They enjoyed their food while having deep and wonderful conversations with every member of the family.
If you can start this kind of get-together daily, it will be something your children will remember and thank you for forever. See this as your catch-up time. This is where you find out how everyone is doing, tell jokes and recap. Try it for a week and see what happens.
- Go for a Walk
Make this a family tradition. Walking together is such a gift. It’s such a great time to have the hard conversations. Clearing the air so to speak. It’s also a great way to have the I-Have-A-Dream conversations about life and our expectations about it all. The fresh air brings about something really special. There are just certain things that can not be said under a roof or between 4 walls. Walking hand-in-hand with your tribe brings unity like no other. Taking walks together will most definitely strengthen the bond you already have.
- Take Time for You
It’s not selfish. Take that class. Go jogging. Read alone.
You need it. And so does your partner. Let each other have (healthy) hobbies and lives outside of the normal parenting stuff. It’s vital.
Make time for each other too. Being in an Expat situation, has made doing this so hard for us. We have no family or close friends to give us a night off or even just a few hours to spend together alone. But it also made us get creative with getting some alone-time. We have made a point of it to put the kids down early to have a little time together to recap on our day. Sometimes we go wine tasting on the couch, a quick walk around the block alone, playing cards on the carpet… Thing is, in a few years, these kids are going to leave the nest. And then it will be just you and your partner… Make sure that they are no stranger to you… Put in the effort.
- Teach children about Shaky People
Telling children to stay away from strangers, is honestly the worst advice I’ve ever heard. One introduction, and they are not strangers any more. Plus, in really sticky situations, the right stranger might be your only help. Teaching children about shaky people on the other hand, is a life skill. Telling them what shaky people will say and how they will act, will help them through their entire lives. Shaky people will tell you to keep secrets. Shaky people will tell you that important people in your life will get angry with you if you don’t comply with the shaky person’s wishes. Shaky people will put you in situations that make you feel uncomfortable. Your body will tell you something isn’t right. Trust your instincts when it comes to people.
This helps kids to trust themselves and their feelings. This also helps them with setting boundaries that they are comfortable with. And that’s empowering!
There’s it. I might think of more to say. But these 5 things are definitely my top 5 second best advice/tips I’d give to someone looking for advice/tips on parenting.
Real talk though. Parenting is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Some nights I go to bed feeling like Mom of the Year. Other nights, I’m the Runner-up. Most nights, I feel like I didn’t even qualify for the Prelims.
If you only remember one thing from my ramblings, let it be this: You are not raising these little humans for yourself. You are raising them for an entire world out there. They will become someone’s husband or wife and potentially the parents of your grandchildren. Just do your best. That’s all. And that’s good enough. Love them hard, and make sure they are not hard to love. Raise them to stand up for themselves and those who can’t. Teach them to spread hope in dark times. And please, for heaven’s sake, don’t let them be the ones who panic buys all the Toilet Paper…