Yesterday, Mandi challenged us to come up with some do's and don'ts of parenting. I don't generally have a lot of "do's" or "don'ts" to share with new parents because I think what works for each family is different. I can tell people what I did and whether or not it worked out, but I can't make any guarantees what will work for your family. So, here's a short list of a few things that worked for me, and that I hope could work for your family too:
1. Hire a cleaning lady. If you are a working mom without a cleaning lady, God bless you. I have no idea how you do it. Hiring a cleaning lady gave me back a few of those precious hours of free time I had been spending scrubbing toilets and floors. Our cleaning lady only comes in once a month - which means I still do plenty of cleaning between appointments - but it also means she's affordable. If you can any way swing the cost of a cleaning lady, even if just once a month, it's totally worth it in my opinion.
2. Have a plan. My life has a million moving pieces. In order to make sure that all of those pieces make it together into the puzzle that is our day, I have to have a plan for making sure that no piece gets overlooked. I have a plan for dinner. I have a plan for who is going to pick up the kids from school. I even have a plan for my work, categorizing it by deadline and ability to do it from home or on the train. Of course, things never go as planned, but when you've already worked out who is doing daycare pick-up and who is running out to Target tonight, you can better handle that last-minute temporary restraining order thrown your way.
3. Lie to your kids sometimes. I'm not a good liar. Anyone who has ever met me can tell you that. But I firmly believe as parents, sometimes it is in the greater good to lie to our kids. Now, I'm not advocating about lying about big, important things, but sometimes a little white lie is okay. Like when our football loving two year old didn't understand why he had to apologize for randomly tackling people all of the time, we told him that at the end of the game when the two teams shook hands they told each other "sorry." I stopped getting blindsided and he learned the importance of apologies. A win, win. Now I just have to remember to tell him the truth before I sign him up for the youth football league.
4. Give your bottle fed baby bottles straight from the refrigerator. If I had a dime for every comment I got from people about how I fed my kids cold formula I wouldn't have to work right now. But not warming up my kids' bottles when they were babies was a huge time-saver and it didn't hurt my kids one bit. Formula has the same nutritional value whether it's warm or cold. And at 2 am, it was a heck of a lot more convenient to just grab a bottle from the fridge and feed rather than go through all the warming steps. It also made the transition to real milk super easy. After all, my kids knew milk was supposed to be cold.
5. Always sign your kids up for activities so that they aren't the big fish in a little pond. I'm actually guilty of violating this recommendation right now with Sweet Pea's dance class, but generally, I think when signing your kids up for school or sports or whatever, always sign them up for the class where they can still meaningfully participate, but where they won't be the biggest or the best. I think my kids learn and are motivated by other kids. And they improve so much when being challenged. My fish are small, but I believe that they are becoming better swimmers because they are challenged by their peers.
6. Don't sweat the small stuff. I think that the "small stuff" is different for each family, but the key to this "don't" is to figure out what "small stuff" means to your family. I believe it is physically impossible for working parents to do all of things parenting magazines or societal pressures tell us we "should" do. So don't worry about it. Figure out what is important to you and your family and do those things. Everything else will work itself out.