Crackers in your hair. Marker on your face. So many bags underneath your eyes you look like a luggage carousel. Congratulations! You’re a parent. Now, take a cue from your baby and grab your own bottle…of wine. Fill up your carafe (Mommy and Daddy’s sippy-cup) and drink in the following parenting tips:
1. Don’t compare your kids to others
All children develop differently; there’s no one size fits all. Chester from down the street might speak Latin fluently, but the fact that your son or daughter is only babbling doesn’t matter. Besides, Chester will have the crap kicked out of him in middle school.
2. Know kids get sick
Some parents go straight-out “germaphobe” the second their child is born. While it’s great for the hand sanitizer industry, fearing every cough and sniffle will drive you crazy. Instead, know that kids get sick…and then they get better. This isn’t to say you should let them lick Petri dishes, but you don’t need to keep them in a bubble, either.
3. Learn the art of feigning interest
Up there with peeling oranges and finding tennis shoes, feigning interest is a parental-specific talent. And it’s one worth learning. You’ll certainly need it when your child shows you their new drawing that looks exactly like the other hundred.
4. Put toys you’re not using in storage
Leaving toys alone in a playroom causes them to multiply – somehow, someway – so pack them up. Beware, however, when you go to dig out a doll or a monster truck, it’ll always be in the last box you look. Every single time.
5. Use caution around old sippy-cups
If you can tell an old sippy-cup contains water, there’s no need to worry. But if you can’t see what’s inside, be cautious: you don’t want to open something with sour milk unless you’re wearing a hazmat suit or have entirely lost your sense of smell.
6. Dress your children in cheap, easy clothes
Yes, it’s fun to dress your kids in cute attire, but it’s also expensive, and the average child wears an outfit for about thirty seconds. Hand-me-down clothing is much more affordable and practical. But don’t just look for used, also look for easy. Dresses, shorts, and t-shirts are good choices. Try to stay away from the onesies with (what seems like) ninety-six snaps; you’ll snap just trying to get them on and off.
7. Give the gift of “box”
Like most parents, chances are you’ll buy your child toys, gadgets, and games. But, when they’re toddlers, most of this stuff they won’t play with. The toy computer you spent fifty dollars on? They’ll ignore it completely while playing with a rag and a bottle of sunscreen for hours on end.
8. Lock the bathroom door
Children have no concept of privacy and no qualms about busting into a bathroom as you go about your business. Locking the door is the only way to keep them out. But be prepared for the exit interview: they’ll want to know what you were doing. And with lots of detail.
9. Don’t have nice things
That oak dresser you just bought? There’s a popsicle melting inside the drawer. Your brand new stereo? It’s covered in chocolate syrup. Your Persian rug? Your child’s on the floor, licking it. The early years aren’t a time for nice things – wait, at least, until they’re old enough to understand consequences (or revenge).
10. Give yourself a break
Parenthood isn’t easy: somedays you’ll feed your child a meal filled with fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, other days you’ll consider a bag of Cheetos dinner. It’s called being well rounded.
In the end, perhaps the most important thing you can do to achieve parental awesomeness is try your hardest. And remember that childhood goes by fast: don’t blink; you just might miss it.