I used to play this song to my eldest daughter when she was in my tummy and soon after she was born. I read somewhere that they can hear in utero and that the same sounds they hear after they are born can be quite calming. I remember those sleepless nights as a new mother all too well. After she was born, I just had to play this song and it would lull her to sleep- just like when she was in my tummy. The hardship I encountered the first four months after they were born are foggy in my brain. Perhaps because it is blurred from the lack of sleep. I remember my sleeplessness, but I vaguely remember the moments with both of my girls and how I spent them! Fast forward to now. My kids are six and eight years old. They are more independent than I can remember! I wish I could have savored all those moments past- especially the moments when I lacked sleep and could barely keep myself together. I feel like I missed out on those days when they were newborns and I want it back. Every single moment of it. I missed out on the experience of enjoying the moment. I wish this lesson was part of the “New Born Baby Manual” that I read word for word. Well now, here is my own list for mom’s out there. Looking back at what I have experienced, here are some things I can tell you I’m glad I did or wish I did differently. Here is my parenting time in a bottle!
I’m so glad both of my girls travelled before they were even a year old and still continue to do so through their young lives (with us of course). Whether by car or by plane, my husband and I try to take them to another place other than home. It was not so much for them at the time, but for the sanity of US being husband and wife. We live from the energy of not being home and going on our own little adventures, whether it be here or elsewhere. We as a family are not built to be home bodies at all. I love that we have built a foundation of traveling together with them. It builds family values and it makes for wonderful memories. Even if they were too young to remember, I believe it still builds their character. My girls are great travelers now, as they were when they were less than a year old. It didn’t always start out perfect, but it became better and better with time, especially on our part as parents. We learned the tricks of the trade of traveling with kids in tow! Parents were always baffled at how we did it with little stress, but we did! We didn’t start traveling for this reason, but this is definitely one of the things I am glad we did with them and with each other. Now, it is one of those things we look forward to as a family. It has become a part of them and of us and I can only imagine how it will be in the future. You can’t spoil your kids (and yourselves) with experiences. Those are things you can’t ever get back. It is called time here on Earth. I would never trade all those times in airport security with 2 strollers, 2 car seats to check in, baby food, water (and being stopped for inspection), milk, toys, entertainment, DVD players and charging them, and other such carry-on baggages for anything in the world. We always looked like we were going on a trip for a year and running to our designated gates with strollers and stopping everyone behind us as we boarded the plane, but de-boarding and folding our strollers! Those experiences, though horrific and unimaginable at the time, now have become memories that my husband and I share with one another with a smile on our face. Sometimes it brings tears and I love that those things have actually brought us closer together. It is our own special time that only we know about- and proudly survived!
2. DO DISNEY
A lot of parents ask whether they should wait to go to Disney World until their children are old enough to remember? My answer is always the same: NO! We’ve been to Disney World three times, and now that they are 6 and 8, I honestly don’t think we will be going back any time soon. They are now ready for Universal Studios or some of the other parks that Disney offers. From my experience with the girls, I think that the time when they believe in the fairytales is the best time to go! Believe me, they will remember it and the experience will be so much more memorable for the parents and for the kids. The first time we went we barely had a one year old and my other daughter was 2 and a half years old. It was an experience because we did not know how to go about doing Disney. There is a method to that madness that is called Disney World. Our little one was still requiring nap time and it was much too hot for them. The second time we went was super magical for the girls. They were 2 and 4 and it was perfect. They were amazed at everything they saw and all the characters they met. They were happy and mesmerized the whole time! It was so much fun for them and tiring for us, but it was well worth it! The last time we went they were 4 and 6 years old and it was even better. They weren’t as star struck, but they enjoyed the rides and other activities around the park. We were also much more experienced trekking through the Disney Parks, so it was a little bit more enjoyable for them. The last time we went was also during Spring Break. It was hell and back, but it made for great memories and laughs when we recall the whole day. It wasn’t very funny at the time though! It was one of the hardest days in our life! No matter the time, Disney World is always worth it (despite the hefty entrance price). So much to do and they have the most spectacular fireworks show on Earth- all year round! It’s awesome! Just go for it!
3. DECORATE AND CELEBRATE
I never used to to be big on the different holidays throughout the year. I’ve slowly started getting into each and every one of them and my house will show for it. My decorations in the house change just like they do at Target. I even started putting up St. Patrick’s Day decorations last year. The girls really look forward to what’s coming up next, especially since they are now both in school. When the season changes, so does my decor. I’ve started to secretly enjoy it too, because it keeps my spirits up. When I was growing up, I never really appreciated the changing seasons and the different holidays. I’m glad my children can experience St. Valentine’s Day, Leprechauns on St. Patrick’s, the Bunny on Easter, July Fourth, Halloween and Pumpkin Patches, Thanksgiving and Santa Claus Celebrations (to name a few). I even throw in a holiday themed party for them, like from this past Halloween. I invited some of their friends for a Halloween Party and we all had a blast. They were all dressed up and doing all things related to Halloween, laughing, playing, and having the time of their lives. This is their time and their time is now. I can only hope that the next Halloween, they can still have their youthful spirit to enjoy these times. That is my reason! We have started traditions for every season, reason, and holiday. These are the things the kids start looking forward to throughout the year! My husband and I have also started looking forward to them, too! It’s the best time of year- every time! I’m blessed that I am able to provide these things for my babies and will continue as long as they allow me.
4. DO KID STUFF
Recently, my family took a trip out to Wisconsin Dells for the weekend. The times change so quickly, especially since every season just comes once a year (duh)! Last summer, a trip to the Dells was very much different from this year. They obviously enjoy something different to a certain extent as they get older. I am very glad that I have let them experience the things that they have at the time when they should have. You can only go on the little kiddie slides when you are a little itty bitty kid. The laughter that comes from sliding in that miniature water slide as they fall into 2 inch deep water always melted my heart. After they grow out of it, that experience passes them and it passes you as a parent, too. My girls love the water and they are not great swimmers, but they can survive in a pool without much assistance just by being exposed to water in the summer. Let them ride that carousel. Go to the park. Paint at home and make that mess (in your designated messy area, of course). Let them laugh and let them be loud at play. They are restrained at all times of the day. Play without having to be quiet! Play to play! Go to your local water park. Visit your local children’s museum. Become a member of a museum. If it has a maximum height limit, DO IT NOW! Let your little ones perform in a ballet recital when they are little and not perfected. Enroll them in a class. Let them explore their interest. Go to a carnival and let them enjoy it! Attend children’s parties. Let them explore their world in their time line. Let them be kids and do kid stuff!
5. DON’T BUY THEM TOYS
Kids need toys, but they shouldn’t need much more than what is given to them by others on their birthdays or when the holidays come around. That is A LOT of toys. I very rarely buy my kids toys because they can only open a new toy once or twice a month! They need to be able to appreciate the toys that are given to them because otherwise they have too much! I used to let them open everything all at once, and then I realized everything was strewn around and they lost interest in all their brand new toys within the next few days. Such a waste of valuable money spent. I have learned from that since. My girls are actually very good about not opening their toys unless I allow them to open it. That means, they actually have to get permission first. They will never ask to go to the toy section at the store and very rarely will they ask us to buy them a toy when they see it. They don’t have tantrums or start crying when we don’t buy it for them either. They have only been to Toys R Us twice in their lifetime! I do buy them a lot of clothes/shoes on my part, but I rarely buy them a toy and when I have, they cost less than $15. They are usually board games that allow them to exercise their minds. It is one of the reasons they appreciate their birthday gifts and Christmas presents when the season comes around! I mostly like to buy them memories/experiences as opposed to toys and other such things. That’s what family and friends are for! The girls love them for it, too! They just thankfully know that they can’t come to me or their daddy to ask for something! They always ask where we will go for Spring Break, though!
6. CELEBRATE THEIR BIRTHDAY
I wasn’t always very good at celebrating their birthdays, but over the years, it has become more symbolic for me. I have come to realize that the year past really needs to be celebrated for all the growth that takes place. Another year is another blessing. The year goes so fast that I just want to take the time and really celebrate everything that they have accomplished. Heck it’s me celebrating my accomplishment and happiness as well. I have never been one to understand why people celebrate their birthdays. I think deep down, I’m just hating on the fact that I’ve never really had a “birthday” because my day falls right around the Christmas holidays. My so-called-birthday has always been overshadowed, so it really had no meaning for me, psychologically. My birthday was always associated with reds, greens, and holiday decorations. So yes. I have recently learned to celebrate other people’s birthdays and especially that of my children. It’s a celebration of their life and that candle blowing is symbolic of another year that is to come! It is their time to make a wish for the coming year! I may not buy them presents on their birthdays, but I do try to throw them a party they will remember forever!
7. TAKE LOTS OF VIDEOS
I have recently started watching my short cell phone video clips of my kids and I WISHED I took more! Obviously, the trend of being able to take longer video clips have just recently come up via new Apps and larger size phones. I didn’t have that back then and I wish I did. I have a ton of pictures and albums, but videos are different. It show emotions and it is literally a time that you capture and keep forever. That moment is saved somehow. Definitely take pictures, but VIDEOS are a must! I’m glad that I have a few. I watch them every now and then, especially when I need to smile and relax.
And that is my parenting to do list ladies and gentlemen. Nothing about how to discipline your children. Nothing mentioned about how to feed them or their health. Nothing much about anything but what life is really all about. Don’t stress the small stuff really! Just enjoy the small stuff! Life is too short to pass us by. We all live and learn, but even better is that we should learn to live! Thanks for tuning in!