Parenting Tips

From One Who’s Been There…

You’re in the grocery store and you’re almost ready to check out when your two month old starts crying. He’s hungry, and he’s so loudly insistent on eating right there. Right now. Or maybe your toddler decides he’s had enough time sitting in that cart, so he’s blowing his top and your cool over being in the store. How about when your almost four year old smirks at you as she grabs a candy bar in the checkout lane? And you said, “no”, well before that moment.

Parenting. It’s tough and rewarding. I’ve been through it with three very different personalities, and no single book covers every child. Each one is different, and you have to act like you know what you’re doing even when you haven’t a clue. That’s important. Your kids are going to take you places you never wanted to go, and they will also make your heart ache with happiness and pure love. But you have to know certain guidelines. I’m going to condense this for parents.

Photo by Colin Maynard on Unsplash

When it comes to young children, such as the infant crying in the store, remember that you hear your child more than any other person in the world. We who have been there actually smile when we hear that little cry working itself to a howl. We remember those sweet days of having a warm little baby to cuddle. Your infant might be driving you crazy with the fear of bothering others, but we get it. He’s hungry, and you need to procure food for the rest of your family. So babies, especially the really young ones, are a joy and truly don’t bother us. Don’t linger in public, but don’t leave the store without what you need either.

As for any child older than six months? Schedules mean everything. Follow the schedule. The child should go to sleep at roughly the same time every evening, then you can wake them up if they seem to be sleeping too long. Refer to that parenting book on sleep training. I used them, and they work! Children love mornings, so be ready with your coffee and greet the day with them. Play. Sing. And work around their nap schedules. Work around their mealtimes. Take them out only when they are fed and rested.

So many events with young children seem to start at 9:30 in the morning, with an ending time at 11:30. Why? The children are at their best, they are fresh and ready to have a good time. Then it’s home for lunch and a nap. That’s how it works for the babies who are down to one nap a a day. Once you’re there, remember that nap time is as important for you as it is for them. You both need a break from each other. Moms and dads need some downtime too. Try not to fold laundry. Read. Knit. Be quiet and enjoy the peacefulness.

Photo by Limor Zellermayer on Unsplash

Don’t take your little cherubs out around the “witching hour”, which is the time right before dinner. Kids are at their worst then. They’re starting to grow tired from the day, they’re hungry, you’re busy in the kitchen, and nobody should be out shopping now. Get dinner on that table. Teach young children how to eat as a family, even if it’s just the two of you. Dinner matters.

As for discipline, every parent approaches it differently. I had two stubborn, but fairly easy children, which meant I didn’t have many issues with correcting them. But my first child broke the mold. She had a will that would make Putin run for his border and away from her. This girl could make grown men weary. Maybe not as a baby, but whew! even as a toddler she knew her own mind and thought she knew best. As a teen she was something else. So we had to try different ways to discipline her. Time-outs made her laugh. She would persist until I brought out a wooden spoon. I didn’t use it very often, and I wanted to cry after I did, but she learned that a wooden spoon on the counter meant for her to watch it. And so she did.

You will have to decide how, where and when to teach your child boundaries. Obviously, when one of my kids defiantly ran into the street, I didn’t give a hoot who saw me yelling my head off at them. I think two out of the three tried it, too. Kids test limits, and once they know where those boundaries are they usually obey. You need to learn how to discipline when you’re not angry too. Then circle around to your child and talk to them and reassure them that you love them afterward.

These children are a delight most of the time! You will smile at the things they say, how they say it, and the way they act. And the time goes by too quickly. It might seem like you’re just waiting for them to grow into their next phase, but the one they’re in can be enjoyed with the use of food and sleep schedules, employing discipline and one more thing. Please don’t offer up computers and tv’s as a way to distract your toddlers, babies and preschoolers. It’s tempting, but turn on music if you need noise.

Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash

I preferred to keep the television off until it was time for them to watch Blue’s Clues or a Disney movie I turned on. I didn’t let them watch the whole movie. Maybe it’s due to how I was raised on sunshine, playing outdoors in almost any weather, reading plenty of books, and helping my mom cook or in the garden. We weren’t really helping much, but my siblings and I spent most of our time away from watching something. Try to give your kids fresh air each day. Teach them about pets, if possible. Plants are nice until your next baby decides they’re yummy.

Find a parenting book that goes along with your views. There are so many to choose from, and I actually used two parenting authorities who made sense to me. Dr. Benjamin Spock, whose book was almost out-of-style when I gave birth to my first. And do you know that book now sells for over $300 on Amazon? Crazy? No, because he knew children and how to raise them. And James Dobson. He taught me how to parent with love and discipline, and my kids were good at school. I think there’s something to raising children who are respectful and kind.

You’ll find those who’s books you’ll turn to time and again. And I’ll post my crazy parenting stories from time to time. I just want to encourage parents who are going through it now. Hang in there. Enjoy those sweet moments when your child kisses you all on their own. When they bring you a book or a toy, so you can enter their world. They want your praise, your love and your smiles. Being a parent is one of the best things in the world. Savor every day. One day those little ones will grow up and leave you. And it all flies past too quickly. So enjoy it!

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Deanna Eppers

Musician, ex-CPA at KPMG Peat Marwick, volunteer, decorator, renovating another house, mom to three, wife to one, blogs about finding happiness