This is dedicated to the parents of Bryce, new firstborn to great friends. Now at 21 days old, I wanted to write this for Bryce and his parents as he grows and learns to drive his parents crazy(er).
This is something that I have written about briefly but as I continue with my journey I learn that in three and a half years there is still no sign that my children have a sense of urgency. Yelling is a daily necessity to keep their attention, not always negative, but FYI- the terrible two’s become the terrible three’s. Hopefully for me, that only means the age of 3, not the number of children as my wife and I are about 5 months away from being outnumbered by our kids!
Children learn the most in the first 5 years of life. Their job is to play and they are hard workers. If you get in the way of play, for example, by suggesting to clean up, just know that play is never put on the back burner. Kids will work harder to not work harder in an effort to get 5 more minutes of play. So, my suggestion would be to make cleaning up fun. If they think it’s playing, try singing along with them to keep them interested in the task at hand. This is not easy, but totally worth it.
Their concept of time will not agree with your sense of urgency. This has become my biggest pet peeve. Take tonight for example. Getting AJ to bed was extremely difficult and unfortunately on an extremely average night.
- 5 minutes – for him to get off the floor
- 3 minutes – to get him to walk by his own ambition to the bathroom headed to bed. Glad I remembered.
- 6 minutes in the bathroom
- 1 minute to pee
- 1 minute to look at it –baffling
- 1 minute to run the water
- 1 to wash his hands
- 1 to stick his tongue out in the mirror and make faces
- 1 to dry his wet hands, dry face, dry pajama top and his hands are still wet, amazing
Back to our mission, out of the bathroom, dragging each hand on the walls and waddling like a penguin and singing an unrecognizable tune, probably cute if I wasn’t 19 minutes into a 5 minute task.
We reach his bunk beds, and another 2 minutes to decide if he uses the stairs or the ladder while telling me about his decision to go up the ladder and down the stairs and that his friend “Elyse doesn’t want to be Wonderwoman from the Superfriends for Halloween, she wants to be a princess, because she likes princesses.”
2 minutes to tuck him into his 3 blankets (we’ve cut back, it used to be 6……minutes and blankets)
“Good night AJ, we love you.” “Good night Daddy, I want some water.” How did I forget the water? Brought him back the water. 2 minutes to drink it and over accentuated “Aaaahhhh!”
Now it’s 8:56 for an 8:30 bedtime. Don’t check my math. I didn’t.
But you have a baby. A baby is hard work. So here are a few topics I think are important for you to consider.
Buy a minivan. Some of you may disagree but for me, the SUV worked for about 6 months at which point we got sick of twisting to lift the baby in and out. I now have one with the automatic sliding doors and hatch. I never would have elected to buy one with all these bells and whistles, but it was on the van we liked. It’s the good life. Plus, it’s roomy enough for the nitrous boosters which have become a necessity for the underground midnight mini-van races.
Whatever you decide to drive, eventually for travel you will want a DVD player for your little guy(s). We use them for long trips and it’s up to you obviously, but we don’t use their movies for short drives around town. Although I would like to hear something to sing along to other than Elmo and Oscar, I just know that Metallica, Rage Against the Machine and the Beastie Boys are not designed for my boys…..yet.
Good eating habits begin early. In all aspects of a child’s life, they crave structure and meals are a great start. So many kids today do not get dinners with their family and for us we avoid Mcdonald’s given their ads are targeting kids of all ages. Other fast food restaurants do the same thing but not quite as successful (or annoying).
Your kid(s) will not always like the same foods as you. We have yet to break the news to my Wisconsin In-Laws that AJ does not like cheese. Oops.
As soon as your kid sees you dip a French fry into ketchup, he’s going to want to try it –with anything on his plate. Blueberries and ketchup. Kit-Kat and ranch dressing. Yogurt and peas. Gross.
When our firstborn was a baby, going out to dinner was so stressful because of the mess, the noise, the smells he made. I felt it was a reflection on me. Now, I have 2 kids and one on the way, I could care less because I’m happy to be out of the house and we don’t have to do the dishes and sometimes I’m allowed to have a beer!
One more thing, chicken fingers and fries. It costs 4-8$ and they don’t eat it all. Deal with it.
Sharing is not in our nature (my opinion). My kids don’t share the responsibility of cleaning, being quiet, not feeding the dog from the table.
On any given day, one room of the house will always be a disaster. The amount of toys in our garage, living room, playroom, kids’ rooms, and storage room makes it appear as if we have 8 kids. No, not in our future.
Though the toys in the house keep them busy, after so much time inside, they crave attention. That attention is boredom or cabin fever. They need to get outside and tire themselves out otherwise they will tire you out. Playing outside, getting their heart rate up and breaking a sweat earns them a nice nap that will give you peace of mind. If you can get out and play with them, they will play even harder, have more fun and so will you.
I recommend that once the baby toys are out and they start to pursue their own interests, try to build on what they like or it could become extremely expensive. Not just for the money spent, but it’s hard for me to see toys that I thought they would love, get completely ignored. Okay, it’s about the money and that we put a lot of thought into the toys we buy them or the books we think they’ll love. Example: My boys have a Thomas the Train table. They are fairly expensive, but to build on something they love, give them things they can add to, break down, and rebuild makes it all worth it. Thomas for example is compatible with Brio Train sets as well. The table and drawers beneath help to keep a toy like this with many parts, contained to one area and whether they know it or not, they are sharing.
Cleaning house is a constant. If so inclined to pick up trash and throw it in the toilet think twice. Example: Crumpled up Mickey Mouse sticker on the floor near the bathroom: if you throw it in the (clean) toilet, expect it returned to you wet and nasty. Today, AJ saw a bathtub toy boat in the bathroom trash that had seen better days. I threw out without heeding my own advice, luckily I caught him staring into the garbage at it like they were old friends and I was able to get rid of it before he started rooting around in the trash.
If you read regularly, never stop as I currently have 2 almost (not really) half-read book reviews written, something I never should have posted. I really thought I was going to finish them and follow-up with fascinating book review, but so far, this is the depth of my follow-up and haven’t thought about it until this article. Now I read 2-4 books a day, but they are Golden books or Chunky flap books. My oldest sleeps with his books which to me seems really uncomfortable, but I can hear him now turning pages and reading books he can’t see. Very cute, hopefully not harmful to his sight. Kids who have a love of reading early on in life, will have a better chance loving learning throughout their lifetime.
If you ever buy a pop-up book because you think it’s neat, your kids will agree and then you will find parts of it all over the house, maybe a piece in the toilet.
Healthy communication is a necessity with parents and with children. For communicating with your children, it seems important to talk with them and not at them. Use the language you want them to learn, because they learn through imitation and modeling. This means that you will be challenged at times, especially when watching a close football game where your wide receiver on your fantasy football team drops a 30 yard pass in the end zone. Even very small babies can pick up on expletives.
Because I’m home with my boys, I have been valuing adult communication even more. It is extremely important that my wife and I discuss things like discipline. If one parent does one thing, and the other parent does the opposite, then the child is getting mixed messages and will be confused about the appropriate action to take. So, talk to each other about everything.
Advice is something you will hear a lot, much more than you solicit (including this article you did not ask for). When people give you advice about raising your child(ren), most of the time, I think it is given out of love. However, having a new child will mean using your own judgment and trusting it. It is especially important for new parents to not get overwhelmed with all of the advice. Please know that you have everything needed to raise a happy, healthy baby. In my opinion, the most important thing for baby’s development is for them to know that they are safe and secure. This is built with attachment and time spent in a loving home.
Best of luck on your new endeavor, you are no longer the boss of your house. It’s really expensive to raise kids, but worth every penny. You are giving up sleep and fun but gaining so much more and most importantly as I’ve said this before, I maintain that as a father, I still know nothing. Even now, from the last time I said this, I have been confused and befuddled to the point that I currently…know even less.