Saturday, June 2, 2012

Lessons Learned

The past 2 years have been a time of learning in my life, not only about life and parenting, but also about myself. I've compiled a list of things, with short descriptions of lessons I've learned along the way, that I still remind myself on a daily basis.

First off, Pick your battles. It's a common but true lesson that has been repeated countless times. Why? Because it's absolutely true. I can tell you this because I have a toddler and if I didn't constantly tell myself this, I probably wouldn't be sane. Sometimes, it's easier to let them empty the wipes box out on the living room floor than to make a big deal about it. Exploring is an important part of toddler life and their independence. If it isn't hurting anything, then so what? That's a good opportunity to teach them how to clean up afterwards too ;)

Also, Relax. I'm a very organized (well in most cases) person and constantly have a running to-do list in my head at all times. I don't like to start a chore/project and then walk away without it finished. I can't stand a sink that's filled with dirty dishes or for the washer and dryer to be full of clothes that need to be put away. However, if I never let a chore wait, that's all I would do, day in and day out. I cherish time where I sit and play with Madi, just her and I. I know she does too. So when I walk by holding a basket full of laundry, and she holds up a book and says "read mommy," I often catch myself thinking "no no I have to finish this first." But how many times will she want me to sit on the floor and read an Elmo book to her over and over? I can always fold the laundry. These moments will not last forever. I always tell myself, "I can do it later, enjoy NOW."

Third, a mess can always be cleaned up. Madi loves to explore, anywhere and everywhere. And like the mom that I am, I shy away from potential messes like playing outside after it has just rained (mud), or things like that. I always want to tell Madi "no, lets do something else, that will get you dirty." I feel guilty though that I'm hampering her curiosity. I want her to be the child who explores and isn't afraid to get dirty. How can I expect her to do that if I never let her do it at home? I can't. If she gets dirty, fine. Enjoy the smiles that it brings and have baby wipes on hand. Done.

Mistakes happen. The perfect parent doesn't exist. Everyone loses their temper or says something bad in front of their child. They don't come with manuals. When mistakes are made, all we can do is learn from it. Make sure your child knows that you love them and that's all that matters.

The next one is something I've picked up from reading The Happiness Project. The days are long but the years are short, cherish the little things. In the midst of a hectic day where you have a million errands to run, it's 98 degrees outside, you have a cranky toddler pulling at your shirt and a long line at the grocery store check out- breathe. Look around you and I'm sure you can count at least 5 things you are immensely thankful for. I do this all the time to snap myself back to reality. This happened the other day, I was SO stressed out, then the littlest thing happened to remind me how great my life was and how I should be happy. Madi looked up at me and gave me a kiss. Then as I was staring at her with adoring eyes, she sneezed and said "betchew madi." How can you be stressed out when you have such an adorable baby in your arms? You can't. The days are long and tiresome but thank god they are or they would pass unbelievably fast.

Those are the deep sentimental things. I've also come up with a list of simple ones to remember.

White should be avoided at all costs. Period.
Never leave home without a diaper. Children know when you do and poop-splosions will happen.
Relish in the now.
Cookies solve problems.
Hugs can cure anything.
If they want to read the same book over and over, do it.
Learn to apologize.
Don't be afraid to teach them that no one is perfect.
The power of baby wipes. That's all I have to say.
Create time for yourself.
Smile through it.
Say I love you. A lot.
Uninterrupted quality time with your kids (no phone, TV, etc) is the most important.

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