So since I found out that the Baby Einstein thing was all a big scam, I’ve been thinking about what I would tell new parents (if asked, that is. I try really hard – not always successfully – not to give unsolicited advice.)
So here are my “rules” for parenting, for if anyone is interested:
1. Relax. Take a deep breath.
2. Hug your kids a lot and tell them you love them at least once a day. Preferably more.
3. Act delighted to see them when you greet them, and ask them how their day was. (And try to pay attention to the answer for 5 minutes. Which I manage to do about 80% of the time.)
4. Talk to them a lot and use big words. They may not understand all the big words right away, but they’ll figure them out. That’s how they learn language.
5. Explain why when it makes sense to do so, but don’t be afraid to say, “Because I’m the parent and I said so.” Because it’s important that they learn to negotiate and persuade, but too much of it gets exhausting. And they need to learn that, in life, sometimes the answer is just no, and they need to accept it.
6. Relatedly, tell them frequently that life isn’t fair. Better that they understand it than go through life with unrealistic expectations that everything is always fair and just.
7. Be as consistent as you can, but recognize that no one is consistent 100% of the time. Consistent bedtime routines, regular schedules, plenty of sleep, it’s all good. But breaking the rules sometimes is okay. It helps them be flexible and adaptable. And too much routine can make an adult freaking crazy.
8. Don’t get stressed out if your kid seems to like the caregiver more than you. Kids can never have too many people who love them. And kids know who their mothers are. I know this from personal experience, because growing up, we had a very, very close family friend named Marian, whom I adored. She was like a second mother to me. There were many days when I wanted to be with her instead of my own mother. To her credit, my mother never felt threatened (or if she did, she never let on.) Despite my attachment to Marian, I always knew who my real mother was.
9. Work full-time, work part-time or don’t work. Do what makes you happy (or whatever makes financial sense.) Happy mother, happy kids. (But if you work, find a caregiver who is delighted to see your child every day. Thank you, Joanie.)
10. Laugh with your kids a lot. But try not to laugh at them. (At least when they’re around.)
11. Relax. Take a deep breath. (I know I said this already, but it bears repeating.)
Any other advice that you sage parents want to add to the list?