Today marks 20 years since I became a mom. Doing something for over 10,000 hours makes you an expert in the field. I'm no expert but I've certainly learned a lot over the years, and I figured I'd jot down a few notes and thoughts.
Here are 10 things I learned over 20 years of parenting:
1. Kids are like homing pigeons. They always come back when lost. Not that you should lose them, but some kids are prone to running off.
2. Seatbelts in strollers and car seats are the biggest gift to parents.
3. Always give kids some advance notice when leaving fun places like, “We’re leaving in five minutes!” It makes the departure way less stressful.
4. Kids will naturally love vegetables if you love them and you don't force them to eat them. You should see my five-year old eat a salad. Such gusto, it’s hilarious.
5. You are so sure you’re going to do things a certain way as a parent but kids and life demand otherwise. For example, “My kids will never eat chocolate spread sandwiches on white bread.” Well guess what, they hated the carob honey spread I made. And the whole wheat bread sandwiches end up in the garbage. This also applies to more serious issues like schooling and religion. Life doesn't always work according to your well-laid plans.
6. A kid’s self-confidence is more important than pretty much anything. If you think your kid is too confident, there is no such thing. They should feel good about their abilities, ideas and appearance. Love them unconditionally. They need to know that when the world seems against them they've got mom and dad on their side no matter what.
7. Kids have good hearts and usually mean well. Grounding and punishment are almost never effective. Either kids feel bad about what they did already, or they don’t understand why it’s wrong and they need more talking to. Which brings me to the next point...
8. The most effective way to teach kids is by doing, because they watch our every move. Want them to be nice to people? Be nice to people. Want them to have a good attitude about things? Have a good attitude. Want them to be respectful to you? Be respectful to your parents. Talking and debating is important too, and even if it seems like your words are falling on deaf ears, they heard you and your words have taken a place in their brains.
9. It’s important to pick your battles very carefully with kids and to keep your eye on the ball, which is: are they a mensch? Are they a good person? Are they taking care of their responsibilities in school? If so, then yay and don’t let their overgrown hair bother you. In fact, their hair is a way for them to explore their identity and find their individuality. Speaking of which...
10. The hard stuff is generally a stage that passes. This applies when they’re babies and cry and don’t sleep for six weeks straight and then suddenly they sleep and smile, to all the other stages they go through. All of the stuff that’s hard for you when they're teens – that passes too. Remember yourself as a teen? If you’re anything like me, you’d now rather get into bed at 8pm than stay out late. They grow up and mature, and turn into great adults. It really happens. So stay strong and appreciate every day. It passes so quickly.
This article originally featured on Aish.com