Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Coffee, My Savior

Yesterday morning I got up at 4:45 to head down to the CityTV Breakfast Television studio (the threat of a snowstorm and the promise of a tanker full of coffee beforehand was my motivation).

I spoke with the lovely Dina Pugliese about my proposed 2009 Parenting Solutions.

Maybe I didn't get enough coffee, as I didn't speak quickly enough to get all of them out. Here they are in their entirety:

- Recognize that parenting theories are not "one-size-fits-all". While it's fine to read all of the books and do the research, your baby is your baby. Go with your instincts.
- Remember that Mom & Dad are people too! Newborns can take over your whole world if you let them, and its important to find adult time, and alone time. It's healthy for all of you.
- Accept that advice is just that...advice. Most people dispensing advice are doing it to make you, or themselves, feel better. Take what you need and get rid of the rest - without feeling judged.
- Just because you are a Mom....doesn't mean you have to look like one all the time. You know what I mean.

- Realize "Toddler Time" is not the same as "Real Time". Unless you have to hit a precise schedule, allow time for leaf examining, putting the boots on "just so", and hunching over puddles.
- Know that "Perfect" is just a concept. The child you saw in the store acting perfectly, was. For that minute. Yours can be perfect for a moment as well. Indulge when it happens.
- They're adorable and they know it. Toddlers will get away with almost anything. Sometimes we have to let them.
School Age:
- People who say their kids never fight with each other are lying. When yours fight, just lay down the ground rules. Try not to referee. They're learning negotiation skills!
- Bedtime is bedtime. If you haven't established rules for sleeping already, its crucial when they hit the school age. Don't give in to "one more hour". It's not worth it
- If you don't have the time or the money to sign your child up for that team or this lesson, don't do it. The stress and pressure won't outweigh the benefits. Introduce them to "hide and seek" as an extracurricular activity.

- Accept that the teenage brain is different. And annoying, belligerent, arrogant, and mostly, always right. Spend a few minutes and reminisce about the times when you knew everything as well.
- Let them sleep in when they can. It's a stress reliever for them, and for you. What are they missing...fighting with their siblings?
- Acknowledge that you will lose your temper and swear at them. Words you've only heard on cable will come out of your mouth. Let it go. Apologize and move on. There are worse things you can do.
- Get in their face more. At this age, it's more important than ever to connect and communicate. Best way is over a family dinner, at least twice a week. Adjust your "regular" meal time around lessons etc if you have to. It's worth it.

My overall parenting resolution would be to not feel guilty about not wanting to be "Mom" or "Dad" all the time. We need to have fun, friends, and success too. Remember that work and career are important to everyone...even parents. Take pride in your accomplishments both inside and outside of the home and your kids will ultimately benefit.

Just don't call me if you see me on the street breaking any of these. I promise to uphold the swearing one.

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