Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Advice for New Mothers...

Two beautiful new babies. Brynlee and Benjamin, were just born into our extended family. I wasn’t able to attend the baby showers for the two “B’s,” but just getting the invitations had me reminiscing about my own baby showers. The thing I liked best (well, besides the gifts, of course) was reading the little note cards where people had written their advice on motherhood. I don’t know if they did that at these two showers, but just in case, I thought I’d share my thoughts here! (:

(These are totally random thoughts)

1. You don’t always have to wash the binky. I know germophobics are now squirming in their chairs, but trust me—the child will live! We refer to this phenomenon as “remember the bloody toenail!” When Taylor was just over a year old, he ended up in the doctor’s office for his first stitches. After the stitches were put in place, he was walking up and down the lab while we talked to the doctor. At some point I noticed that Taylor had put something in his mouth. I coaxed it out of him and found it to be none other than… (drum roll) a big, (as in “adult,”) nasty, yellowed, bloodied, WHOLE toenail! (As I’m writing this, I’m wondering for the 100th time why we didn’t sue and get rich from the ordeal!) The doctor promptly grabbed the toenail with a napkin, threw it in the garbage, and rambled something quickly about how because Taylor didn’t have any open sores in his mouth, we didn’t need to get it tested and he should be fine. Uh-huh. HE was fine, but WE were GAGGING! What did we learn from the experience?? He survived the bloody toenail, so surely kids can survive those M & M’s they pick up off the floor of Target or the cookie crumbs eaten off the carpet, or even a binky that has fallen on the floor. We just call out "bloody toenail!" and everything's ok. Oh, and by the way, I was just kidding about suing. I hate when people sue for silly things.

2. If you like to wash the binky, go ahead and disregard #1. Because an even more important thing for a mother to learn is to disregard any advice you don’t like.

3. Speaking of the binky, (or “paci,” as they call it in the south), if you choose to use a binky, try to ignore comments from the anti-binky-police. Using a binky does not make you a bad mother. In fact, it may be the key to getting through a church service without having to leave, dinner at a nice restaurant, or most importantly, a good night’s sleep. And if your child happens to be one of the children that gets super attached to the binky—do not despair. You know your child best and will know when to throw a bye-bye binky party. And you will probably cry right along with your child as you watch their alligator tears when they find the binky is permanently gone. But you will both get through it. And when someone tries to tell you that a binky stunts language development, send them to meet my darling niece Mariah! She was very attached to her binky until she was three and is quite possibly the best conversationalist I know. I could listen to her talk for HOURS! Her little voice is seriously the cutest on the planet.

4. The desitin goes in the wet-wipe container. When my sister Becky taught me this, I thought she was BRILLIANT! I could never find the desitin when I needed it until I learned this trick. Now all you have to do is keep track of the wet wipes!

5. Moving on to when children get older… (cause I’m just typing whatever comes to mind). Color code the towels, and get them a washcloth to match. For instance, Graci gets pink, Taylor-blue, Parker-orange, etc. Tell them you will wash the towels ONCE a week. Tell them if they can’t find THEIR towel, they can use their wash cloth to dry off! Trust me, this will save you loads and loads of towels that were clean enough to be used again, but somehow found their way into the hamper instead.

6. Don’t really follow through on the wash cloth threat. Your children will not find it funny. Give lots of second chances. Which reminds me of…

7. The whole “Love and Logic” has some great principles. (Our school uses it, so I actually read the book.) But sometimes you just have to rely on your parental instinct. For example, Love and Logic would tell you that when your child calls home and tells you in a quivering voice that they forgot their sack lunch, and lunch starts in two minutes you should respond by saying, “so what do you plan to do about that?” Really??? The child is probably already stressed and embarrassed about the forgotten lunch and you are just making it worse. Instead, add an extra treat to the lunch with a little love note on a napkin, and high-tail it up to the school. Your child just might give you a big hug in front of his friends and thank-you again when you pick him up from school. And again when you tuck him in that night. Maybe you aren’t teaching responsibility in the way Love and Logic says, but you are letting him know that when he makes a mistake, he can come to you!

8. Never yell or demean.

9. They will pick up your eating habits, so teach them good things. For example, I hate mayo, so I’ve never put much on my kids’ sandwiches. Now they don’t like it either, which is fine because it’s unhealthy. I’ve never buttered their bread, and now they prefer it plain—which is great! And Taylor thinks he’s going to die if he drinks anything but skim milk.

10. Chocolate in any form is an exception to rule 9. Make sure they love it. I mean, who wants to go through life without chocolate. (Besides my father-in-law, that is).

11. Make up a nickname and use it to tuck them in at night. This one came from Jer’s parents and we love it!!! Every night when we tuck Taylor in, we sing, “Are you my little sunshine?” He sings back, “I’m your little sunshine.” Then, “I love you,” “I love you,” “Goodnight!” “Goodnight.” Parker is punkin’, Jessica/princess, Elli/ladybug, Graci/tiger-blackbird (long story), and Xander/Dang Xu Chu (we kept his Chinese name as his nickname at night). I’m hoping they’ll still do this with us when they’re 18!

12. Read scriptures with your children every single day.

13. When your four-year-old son decides he wants to be a pink Care Bear for Halloween, and you know he will be parading in his costume throughout the high school as part of his preschool party, it is ok to wait until Walmart is all out of pink so you can settle for blue. He will thank you when he’s older.

14. Keep dating your husband.

15. Pray as a family, morning and night.

16. Never buy them soda when you go out to eat. Ok, that was totally random, but hear me out!! If you want to give your kids soda, buy it by the 2-litre and have it at home. Just teach them that when you go out to eat (even at McDonalds) that you just get water. If you start young, they won’t think it’s weird. (I don’t think my kids would even consider asking for anything other than water—unless they’re with Grandpa, of course!) You will be grateful when someday you find yourself with six children and you realize you can save a truckload of money! You will be even more grateful when their almost-full cup spills all over the floor of your car/minivan/12 passenger beast.

17. Let kids who are close in age share their socks and underwear. You may think this is gross, but I promise you, it’s a great system! Just have a sock bin and an underwear bin and you won’t have to remember whose are whose. Incidentally, even Xander shares his socks with the older boys because of his cute, funky little (or not so little) feet! (:

18. You will sleep again.

19. You will not, however, ever look like you did before you pregnant. Oh wait, maybe that's just me and has something to do with #10.

20. Let your children see your face light up when they come into the room. Even if you are not feeling lit up about it inside. (:

I could go on and on, but my bed and cute sleeping husband is calling out to me! I’ll end with the very cliché but very true, “Love every second. They really do grow up too fast!”