If you go by the idea that 10,000 hours of practice makes you an expert, then my wife and I qualify as child rearing experts, right?
Wrong. Maybe it would if kids did not change the rules every 24 hours.
My wife and I both come from big families. Growing up we frequently helped with the younger siblings and I thought we were ready for anything. But, when we became parents, the first thing we realized is that someone else was not coming to take over when we got tired.
No, this is our circus and these are our monkeys.
If I could talk to my past self, here are some of the things I would tell my “pre-dad” self
Rule number 1:
Take stock in about 1% of unsolicited parenting advice and purposely forget the rest. After all, opinions are like armpits…
Rule number 2:
Go to folks who actually know and ask them what they did. I know what you’re thinking, “didn’t you just say to disregard advice…” This is different. Unsolicited advice is dispensed by know-it-alls, whereas those who made it (the real pros) respect your family and while they have great tips, don’t go butting in where they are not wanted.
Rule number 3:
Keep calm. You are not likely to hurt your kid. One thing I’ve learned with multiple kids (close in age) is that they are pretty darn resilient. The down right silly things you will catch them doing, which somehow cause no injuries to life and limb, is proof enough of that.
Rule number 4:
Follow your gut. If something seems off, check it out. Stay clear-headed and calm, but don’t just ignore your instinct.
Rule number 5:
Every kid is different. Yeah, I know you have heard that all before, “everyone is special”, but this is not what I am talking about. I’m talking about how one kid may be walking at 8 months while another might not roll over until they are 6-7 months. Or your 2-year-old sounds like a walking encyclopedia, but your 3-year-old is still mumbling over sentences. Don’t go diagnosing your kid with every disorder in the books and don’t let anyone else do it either. They are kids and guess what? It’s often nothing more than learning at a different pace.
Rule number 6
Do not compare your kids (or your family) to anyone else. It’s all apples to oranges; you are a different couple, your kids have different personalities, you have different personalities. The family you are comparing yourself with may be spot on in some things, but that same family may struggle somewhere else where you have it nailed.
Rule number 7
Do not divvy up responsibilities. Marriage is not 50/50. It is 100/100 and it may 110% if that’s even possible. If you start tallying it up you will only have something to fight about. Life is not always fair and you may have to pull more than your own weight. There is not even a guarantee that it will ever even-out, but guess what, that is what you signed up for. My vows said for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part. There was no clause in there about 50/50. I had over 200 witnesses to that fact.
Rule number 8
Stay consistent and stay on the same page as your wife. Growing up, I never realized how much we tried to exploit my parents, maybe we were just good, but dang son, my kids are loophole experts! They learned so fast how to play Mom off Dad and vise versa. I learned quickly if Mommy said ‘no’ first, I will reverse that yes so fast it’ll give you whiplash kiddo… and Mommy does the same.
Rule number 9
Have fun. They are only going to be 1 or 2 or 3 for a year, so just go with it. They are your mini-yous and it’s fun. You get to do all sorts of stupid stuff without looking stupid. You may even get kudos for monkeying around with your kids. Sure you are going to be tired, but if you were totally honest, you really did not sleep that much more before kids… ok, maybe a little more
Finally, number 10
You may not be an expert in child rearing, but you are the best qualified expert on your kids. No friend, family member, neighbor, or doctor will be quite as familiar with them as you are, so be confident in that knowledge and just love your life.
What are some of the things you wish you had known before becoming parents?