A few days ago a friend sent me a very kind email. (She's a new mom who I enjoy spending time with and see far too seldom.) My friend wondered if we had any parenting wisdom to share with her and her husband.
My goodness! Ben and I have been parents for a grand total of five years. We've barely scratched the surface of this adventure called parenting! Our kids constantly throw us curve balls and test our limited abilities. We feel ill-equipped to offer any sort of parenting advice.
Therefore, I'll share my thoughts with the following disclaimer: Ben and I are far from perfect and our kids are not angels. We make plenty of mistakes. We definitely don't have this parenting gig completely figured out!
Here are a few things we've learned from our journey thus far:
- Hungry kids + Tired kids = Meltdown city. (The same applies to hungry and tired parents.) Regular meals and good sleep can prevent tons of aggravation.
- Routine is wonderful. Our kids thrive on it. We're not strict about keeping a minute-by-minute schedule but our days do have a predictable flow.
- Ben and I intentionally choose to socialize with families we admire. We're learning to make friends with parents of terrific teens. (We figure they have a lot to teach us. The proof is in the pudding!)
- Focus on the Family has hugely influenced our marriage and parenting. I often visit their website and we subscribe to the Canadian magazine. The FOTF podcasts are great too.
- Consistency is key. Ben and I always try to follow up our words with actions. (For example, no means no.) We don't cave to whining, complaining or manipulation. Giving in only reinforces poor behavior.
- Our kids need lots of hugs, kisses, snuggles and tickles every day.
- We try to keep our home clean and uncluttered. I'm naturally a neat freak, but I also think a tidy home helps kids feel peaceful and secure.